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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Enemy of My Enemy (#FridayFlash)

I got requests for more Pulse, and the Muse was in an obliging mood…

“Harr Electric.”

“Do you repair computer room powering?” The voice on the phone sounded frantic.

“We can, and have, on a number of occasions.” Pulse, in his public guise as Helmut Harr, listened and jotted down names and addresses. “Do you not have an electrician on retainer? … Ya, I can send someone right away, but I will have to charge emergency rates.” He listened some more, then shuffled some papers on his desk and tapped at his keyboard. “All of my other people are on jobs right now, so I will have to come myself. No, it’s no problem.” Both were true. As a supervillain, Harr’s electrical contracting business provided not only income and a cover for his extra-legal activities, it could provide opportunities. Like now. He pulled up Maps and plotted a route. “If I am not delayed by traffic issues, I can be there in about half an hour. No, I am leaving right away. … You realize, if I am detained by police, it will take even longer. … Yes, I am leaving now.”

Hanging up, Harr turned back to the computer. Republic Industries was a nut he’d wanted to crack for a long time. Their IT was top-notch, and had thwarted prior attempts to break through from outside. Inside, things should be much easier. Like last month’s bank caper, and the ongoing campaign against spammers, this was personal. Republic had a “devil may care” attitude toward product safety, and their subsidiary’s faulty electrical equipment killed one of his workers last year. Harr’s insurance covered the monetary loss, but neither he nor the employee’s family could replace Kenny Brownfeld.

Checking his inventory, he had the repair parts most likely needed. He tossed them in a component bag in the back of his pickup truck (blue, with an aero-cap and the Harr Electric signage prominent). A few of his ferret kits were already hidden in the toolbox.

The guard at the gated parking lot waved him through, and Harr took a contractor parking space. Hefting his tool box and component bag, he entered the maw of the beast itself. The indoor security looked through his things, but found nothing to raise suspicion. The ferrets were in hidden compartments, and were powered down in any case. Satisfied, the guard led Harr to the IT director’s office.

“Thanks for coming so quickly, Mr. Harr,” the director said. “We’re in a pretty tight spot here.”

“Your redundant supplies didn’t kick in?”

“No, and it’s horribly embarrassing. One of our subsidiaries made the equipment.”

“Ah. So all of your powering is JES?” Jelsen Electrical Systems made the box that killed Kenny Brownfeld.

“You’re familiar with it, then.”

“Oh, ya.” Failures with JES products kept Harr Electric profitable, personal antipathy notwithstanding. Ironic, that it now provides a path to vengeance. Harr had emigrated from Austria, as a child, with his parents. They worked hard, and expected him to do the same. He learned English, endured the other kids calling him “Helmet Hair” and mocking his accent. When he discovered his power to create an electromagnetic pulse, he took great delight in frying their electronic toys. Vengeance brought such satisfaction…

The IT room was dark. “Everything is powered down?” Harr asked, incredulous.

“Even the security cameras. Is it going to be a problem?”

“Not at all,” said Harr, hefting his toolbox. A golden opportunity, indeed. “I always bring emergency lighting.” He put the toolbox down long enough to bring out a trouble light. “Lead the way.”

Alone in the dark, Harr plugged two ferrets into unused Ethernet ports on the primary routers. Small magnets kept them hidden inside the racks, where they were not likely to be found for a long time. It took only a few minutes to confirm Harr’s guess about the problem: the under-spec’ed relay JES used in the switching circuit had burned out. It took only ten more minutes to replace it with a better part.

With his actual work done, he loosed a little of the EMP power that gave him his supervillain name, damaging several servers and switches. They would not fail right away.

He wrote up the invoice in the IT director’s office, shook the man’s hand, and left. Whether Republic actually paid the eight hundred dollars was doubtful, and not important; Harr already had what he wanted. They would pay far, far more.

At home, working through his carefully crafted relays, he accessed the data the ferrets were already sending. He smiled, attached several files to an email, and clicked Send. Then he opened Twitter and DM’ed Captain Heroic.
You have mail.

Captain Heroic (Ret.)
AMAZING! How did you get this?

Unimportant. I will soon have more if you need it.

Captain Heroic (Ret.)
Sure, send what you can and I’ll pass it on. But this is actionable. You want to be in on the takedown?

Justice is the heroes’ job. ^_^

Captain Heroic (Ret.)
With enemies like you, who needs friends? LOL

Sometimes, the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy. Good hunting.

Harr closed Twitter, and looked at the data continuing to pour in from Republic’s no longer secure network. Soon, he would have what he needed to hang CEO Palmer Lanois himself. “All in a day’s work,” he chuckled.


  1. Entertaining read! Supervillains who work for the path of good at times are always the most scary, aren't they?

  2. Ooo- This is my first exposure to Harr but I already live him! I will have to go back and check out his earlier exploits!

  3. See, the reason why I like this guy is because he has depth. He clearly appreciates good workers, he seems loyal to them, and his targets seem to deserve what's coming to them. A villain who uses his powers for good...

  4. Subtlety is the hallmark of a master. Well done, Pulse!

  5. love the notion of super heroes & villains joining forces!

    marc nash

  6. I'm just loving this! It's so much fun to read! :)

  7. Harr's a very likeable character, I'm definitely rooting for him!

  8. Hi all!

    Eric, Pulse would be the first to say he has his reasons. ;-)

    Thanks, Bev! I've sent you this link already, but for others who might want to read previous flashes in this world: Skyscraper City

    Icy, he had good upbringing. ;-)

    Thanks, Tony!

    Marc, it's an uneasy alliance, but as Pulse says, there are worse villains than himself out there…

    Thanks, Cherie!

    Helen, this is getting to be a fun world to explore. I have a longer story plotted out, but no time to write it at the moment.

  9. I've never trusted electricians.

    Great story.

  10. What an interesting character! He doesn't just want to see the world burn (or short out, as the case may be). The attitude of people towards contractors makes for a good humorous touch.

    I loved the bit where his toolbox gets inspected -- like the people left to do the inspecting would even recognise scary hardware if they saw it....

  11. "Sometimes, the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy."

    That's just gold.

    A very well polished tale, Larry. Nice work.

  12. Yes! More Pulse! And brilliant again. Ya, this is good. I'd vote for more.

  13. Thanks, Charmaine, and welcome to the free-range insane asylum!

    Katherine, the inspection might have been for show… but strange electronic boxes in an electrician's bag might have aroused some suspicion!

    Thanks, Kevin! Seems like every time I think, "I don't know if this is gonna work or not," it does work. So I stopped worrying about it and hit Publish. :-)

    Glad you liked it, Cindy!


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