Author : K. J. Russell

The warhead has been planted approximately twenty meters beneath solid granite. Physicist Arthrike Brogan stood before some three dozen people, those scientists and politicians of higher power or renown. “At that depth, what we see should be pretty much equivalent to if the warhead had actually been launched remotely.”

“And this weapon you’ve invented, Mr. Brogan,” came the voice of a reporter, cameraman in tow, “Can you tell us once more, for the record, what the theory behind it is?”

“It’s simply a vehicle of mass destruction, like the nuke, but without any fallout and far more precise. Please, though, let’s hold off on questions until after the test.” With a polite nod, the reporter went off and found a decent position from which to film. The camera’s lens was soon focused away from the white-and-grey city behind, looking out on the red Kansas dirt and the makeshift buildings that were peppered across the testing zone.

A feminine voice began, pre-recorded from a loudspeaker, “Twenty, nineteen…”

“There’s my cue!” Brogan made no effort to hide his confidence as he turned to the onlookers, “We’re five miles distant, and I’ve set the bomb to a mere one-mile radius. We’re perfectly safe. Just don’t look directly into the light.” Brogan placed a pair of dark glasses on his face, and the others followed suit. There was a moment of absolute silence, the onlookers holding their breath, everyone in the city confined to the indoors.

And then there was a sublime flash; a sudden burst of the purest white light. This was the detonation, all heat and photons, the entire body of the destructive force. It spread quickly, the corona moving at a few hundred feet per second. Brogan smiled to himself, imagining the dirt and stone melting, the mock buildings being disassembled at a molecular level. Everything was going as planned, and he felt his confidence transforming into arrogance as the blast hit the mile-mark. And at that exact moment, Brogan’s whole world seemed to fracture, everything to change. Except for the progression of the blast.

Brogan took an unconscious step back, his stomach tightened. As seconds continued, so did the light and destructive force proceed, even accelerate. At two miles, one of the politicians shouted to Brogan. He called back, “It’ll stop!” At three miles, many of the onlookers were fleeing, and Brogan repeated himself, “It’ll stop!” At four miles, Brogan’s eyes found the city and his thoughts spun about the wife and daughter he had there. “It has to stop.”

At five miles, he said nothing. It didn’t stop.

Some minutes later, a single man stood at the edge of a fifty-mile bowl of glass, eyeing briefly the smooth new cut of a city with only its outer-most fringes intact. His hands came together, carefully shutting the time-worn book he held, and his smiling lips formed words, “And so was the will of our Mother,” though he didn’t make a sound. He considered for a moment an ID that stated his assumed name and title, the chief aid to Arthrike Brogan. Artfully, he tossed it on the glass, disavowing it all.

He thought then of a biochemist he had heard of in Germany, working in controlled diseases that could no doubt be turned to tactical applications. So, as he spun and walked into the city, ignoring the rising cry of panicked survivors, he mused, “My name is Kasch Oeberon, a biochemist with an incredible knowledge of chemical weaponry; research, construction, and application.”

And muttering again his new name, Kasch hastened to collect his car. He had a flight to catch.

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