Author: Ted Grosch
Publisher: Double Dragon eBooks
Churchill stated that history is written by the victors. Germany
civilian population with V1 and V2 rockets. The Nazi historians would have a
legitimate rational for that had they won the war. Quantum Level Zero takes
place in a dystopian society of the near future Earth, where fanatics are about
to win the war on terror for the good for the people and the good of society.
Their leader, Matteen Al-Rama has outgrown his fanatical roots. Once an
ambassador and secretary General of the United Nations, he now leads a
fundamentalist revolution that uses cloud computing, holographic CGI
recruitment rallies, computer worms, rootkits and Trojans, advanced
communications, and cybernetic enhancements to spread apocalyptic chaos across the
globe. If that weren't enough, rumor of an alien race wanting to begin
diplomatic relations with Earth threatens to solidify Al-Rama's global
Quantum Level Zero follows three people at the pivot point in the war on
terror, one who has knowledge, one who has great need, and one who has the
courage to make a difference. Elijah Baraki is a scientist and former official
of Al-Rama's revolution. Eight years ago he lost his wife and three children in
a suicide bombing meant to show the world that nobody leaves Al-Rama's
organization. Since that bombing, Eli has concentrated on research and radial
technology with the intention to wage war on the revolutionaries. In a world
where reasonable people become dissidents, Eli is joined by two-hundred other
scientists, engineers and soldiers, all of whom have their own reasons to leave
their former lives and battle the growing chaos.
Trevor Hadley sabotaged his own laboratory to prevent the authorities from
confiscating his zero-point energy research. Now wanted as a terrorist, Trevor
has been working on Eli's secret project for the past few years as a lab
assistant. Eli sends him to reconnoiter an Al-Rama outpost and is almost
killed. He teams up with his brother, Eli's former boss, and Sharon Murphy, a
former army helicopter pilot also on the run, in a race to report back to Eli
and join the fight to free Earth.
Forces of reason have the edge in the war, but will that remain the case if
First Contact goes to the revolutionaries? Quantum Level Zero opens as the
world awaits the arrival of Al-Rama's latest ally, an advanced alien race
offering anti-gravity, zero-point energy, and faster-than-light travel. Al-Rama
won't be satisfied with anything less than world domination. Eli won't be
satisfied with anything less than total destruction of Al-Rama's empire.
For More Information
- Quantum Level Zero is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Cum finis es licitus
etim media suntlicita
- Herman Busenbaum
An empty finality settled in Trevor Hadley's gut. What had started as an urgent knock at the laboratory door had become a pounding of metal on metal. The authorities had finally come for him and his equipment. With verdicts rendered, funding canceled, staff let go, and data communications cut off, he remained as the lone captain of a sinking ship. Under the World Powers Act, the UN could lock him out, but they would not take his research.
Trevor bent over the main terminal and typed his final command before he locked down the computer. Angry voices joined the pounding on the door. He picked up a remote control. Two lights on the remote glowed green, triggering a hollow queasiness in his gut. He pocketed the remote and strode to the main entrance. At the door, he glanced back at his revolutionary power generator that sat like a malignant monolith among the instruments, computers, and cables that fed the device.
He slid the dead bolt aside and opened the door a crack, pressing his body against the opening. Five soldiers in US Army uniforms and blue barrettes on the front stoop parted. Their leader, a scrawny officer, stepped to the front of the group.
"Dr. Hadley," he demanded, his tone arrogant.
"Yes." Trevor suppressed a sneer.
The captain put the palm of one hand on the door and shoved it open another few centimeters. "I am Captain Patterson." He held a document out to Trevor. "I have a warrant to confiscate your laboratory."
It had happened—the final insult. The only reason the UN issued a warrant was to send US troops. They could have sent multinationals in the dead of night without documentation and no other witnesses. Trevor had scared some high-ranking officials. He stepped back from the court order as if it reeked, allowing the door to swing open.
Patterson flipped the writ on the floor at Trevor's feet. "Fine. Consider yourself served." He shouldered Trevor aside and then faced him as six armed soldiers strode into the lab, fanning out around the ten-by-ten-meter facility.
One skinny, caustic-looking man with a shotgun stepped over the yellow caution line painted on the floor and headed straight toward the core of Trevor's power generator.
Trevor stepped forward to shout a warning.
Patterson stiff-armed him. "Stand clear, Hadley."
The skinny man ducked under a bundle of high-voltage cables and approached the kettledrum-shaped generator core towering above him.
Trevor reached over Patterson's shoulder to point at Skinny. "Stay away from that."
Skinny's head swiveled in Trevor's direction. He pointed the barrel of his gun at the generator's shiny plasmon metamaterial underbelly above his head. "You mean this?"
Trevor braced for the inevitable disruption of the quantum vacuum between any dense mass, like gunmetal, and the plasmon material. A bolt of electricity spun off the generator's superconducting surface and stabbed the barrel of Skinny's gun with a crack and a shower of sparks. Skinny staggered back. The discharge stuck to the end of the gun for a moment, then spun off in a fierce tornado that circled the generator twice before dissipating against the nearest of eight spark arrestors positioned around the generator's flat top.
Patterson poked Trevor's chest with a finger. "Turn that thing off."
Trevor allowed himself a sneer. "You came for it, you turn it off."
Patterson glared for a moment and then spun to face Skinny. "Morgan, go get the technicians."
Morgan shot Trevor a rueful grin and headed to the front door, baring his teeth and chomping on chewing gum as he passed.
Patterson glared at Trevor. "You, stay put." He strode around the parameter, commanding his men to stand clear of the equipment.
Patterson had said confiscate, not disconnect, dismantle, or demolish. The UN wanted the generator intact. After prosecuting Trevor with unfounded claims of imminent danger, they were stealing his research for themselves.
Morgan returned with twenty or so individuals in white lab coats who spread out without a word and began to poke and prod at Trevor's machine.
Trevor bent and picked up the warrant. Months of appeals had delayed the inevitable, but the Supreme Scientific Council had finally gotten their way. He opened and read the order. The rationale and regulations for the warrant were clearly enumerated and signed by UN Secretary General Matteen Al-Rama.
The Council had successfully petitioned the World Court for an order to cease and desist, claiming Trevor had falsified documents and practiced unsafe—even dangerous—research. Freeing energy from the quantum vacuum was dangerous. Trevor couldn't agree more about that part—if his technology fell into the wrong hands. That was why he kept the successful results of his experiments secret, even when that meant losing funding and suffering the ridicule of his peers.
Trevor edged toward the back of the room. He had expected them to lock him out, post a guard, and return for the equipment later. He stretched up on his toes and peered out one of the long, narrow windows set high in the wall.
Men waited outside with moving vans and hand trucks. Two forklifts waited as well as a dozen empty crates. They intended to dismantle his machine right here and now.
He put a finger to his earpiece and activated his phone. "Dial my brother."
A second later, Cameron answered the call.
"Cam, it's me. They're here."
"Did they arrest you?"
"No. It looks like they've only come for the generator."
"Don't do something rash. Just let them have it and get out of there."
"Oh, I'll let them have it."
"The plan is still on. It's just going to be more close and personal than I had planned. Meet me at Eagle Rock. If I'm not there in one hour, then I didn't make it."
Trevor ended the call before Cameron could respond. Cam had been a good soldier, a member of America’s elite Delta Force, planned every detail and contingency, and didn’t like surprises. With all Trevor had to do, he didn't need any of his younger brother's grief. He set the earpiece communicator on the nearest table. He wouldn't be using it again and chance being traced—if he survived.
He shoved his hands into his pockets and shifted the remote into his palm. Most of the technicians clustered around the main terminal, obviously getting nowhere. All of those people didn't deserve to die. Not Patterson. Not even Morgan.
One defied the Council and the UN World Court at their own peril. Regardless, the Council and their UN thugs must not get their hands on his energy generator.
He brushed his thumb over the single button on the remote while absently casting his gaze around the room.
Patterson stared at him across the room with beady, wolverine eyes. He grabbed Morgan by the sleeve and leaned toward his ear while pointing at Trevor.
Morgan headed toward Trevor with his shotgun held at the ready. If they caught him with the remote, it would mean jail or execution on the spot. It was now or never.
Trevor pressed the button.
A low hum started inside the generator core. Morgan stopped in his tracks, glanced at the machine that had bitten him before, then at Patterson. An electrostatic vortex erupted from a seam on the generator's side, spun a lazy circle, and terminated against the lightning rod with an ear-splitting snap.
Patterson started toward Trevor. "Turn that thing off, Hadley."
"Someone triggered the reaction system," Trevor said, casting an accusatory glance around the room. He rushed to the nearest terminal. "What did you assholes do?"
A blue tornado of electricity grew out of the generator core, hovered for a moment, then split into two, each vortex traveling in opposite directions around a circumference and vanished. Another lightning bolt snapped against an arrestor, shooting sparks to the ceiling in a crack like a bullwhip.
Patterson drew his pistol. "Turn that fucking thing off, Hadley."
Trevor typed nonsensical commands for effect. "I can't. One of your dipshits started a runaway. I'd get the hell out of here, if I were you."
Static discharges came at increasing frequency. Ozone spiked the air. Trevor cringed at the powerful explosions of lightning.
Self-destruct was only at phase one. The machine could sustain the current level of activity for several minutes with no damage, but the pyrotechnic display was ferocious. Sparks rained down on those hapless enough to be in the wrong place. One man suffered a painful shock, which sent him running, but they weren't leaving.
Morgan had reached an outside wall and was making his way toward Trevor.
Trevor had to get the technicians, and Patterson, out of the room. The spectacular electrical storm was a small display of the technology's potential power. In the wrong hands, the device would be worse than a weapon. It had the ability, intentionally or unintentionally, to open a rip in the quantum universe, thereby converting benign technology into a quantum-rending doomsday device.
Morgan passed the red fire-suppression cabinet. Trevor's gaze followed the pipes that went up the wall, across the ceiling, and terminated in nozzles. He had seen a fire suppression system like that in operation when a fire broke out in a computer room at M.I.T. The room had filled with FM200, sending everyone running for exits before they knew about the fire.
Trevor turned his attention to the terminal and logged on to the safety system. He hit the manual override. Klaxons blared. Overhead nozzles emitted a dozen white columns of FM200 fire-suppressant gas straight down. The gas hit the floor and spread in ever deepening pools.
"Everyone out," Patterson yelled. Technicians scrambled for the front door as the room began to fill with white vapor. Trevor gulped a lungful of clear air, held his breath, and watched everyone but Patterson and Morgan scramble outside. The cloud of FM200 rose from the floor with painful slowness.
"Out, Hadley, now!" Patterson yelled.
Trevor waited, watching the two soldiers glare at him. His lungs burned from lack of oxygen. He pinched his nose and bent over, fighting the instinct to gasp for air, while Patterson and Morgan eased backward toward the front door. Finally, they turned, bolted, and slammed the door closed behind them.
Trevor shot to his feet and ran through a chest-deep cloud of fire suppressant to the rear exit. Pushing the crash bar on the steel door, he opened the door a crack.
He pressed his face to the opening and gasped a breath as he peered into the back parking lot. The lot was vacant. Either Patterson had neglected to post a guard, or the guard had run around to the front to assist in the evacuation.
Trevor shoved the door open. He sprinted across the parking lot and dove into the drainage ditch between the asphalt and perimeter fence. Winded and still gasping for air, Trevor rolled onto his back.
A myriad of stars sparkled in the Nevada sky. The unknown out in the vastness of space mirrored that inside the smallest reaches of the quantum vacuum. Those tiniest of spaces were where his machine ruled, and it was about to rip a hole in the folds of ten-dimensional space.
He reached into his pocket for the remote. One light glowed green, the other red. Phase one of the self-destruct sequence triggered a sustained overload, and the longer it continued, the more unpredictable the machine would become.
The meltdown would likely peter out after some critical component failed. One more push on the remote's button would trigger a quantum runaway that would result in an uncontrolled release of energy, the kind of free energy that could satiate the world’s appetite for electricity.
Trevor pressed the button and watched with satisfaction as the green light turned red. A rift in the quantum vacuum would be forming deep within the core, releasing a stream of particles from their Heisenberg trap. Trevor rolled to a crouch. He tossed the remote across the parking lot. It skipped once on the asphalt and clattered against the building, coming to rest less than a meter from the foundation.
Light flicked through the high windows in the blockhouse as the machine's electrical discharges accelerated. Trevor gauged the distance to a gap in the fence in the stroboscopic light. He hugged the ground as he scrambled along the ditch between the parking lot and the fence. A low rumble became audible, causing loose sand and pebbles to dance across the hard-packed clay.
Trevor squirmed under the perimeter fence as the ground shook with earthquake force. He rose and stumbled ten meters before being thrown into a dry streambed. He flattened and covered his head with his arms.
Inside his generator, the fundamental connection between the four forces of nature ripped open in a quantum vacuum. The opening spewed photons and fundamental particles, expanding outward in a sphere that dissolved ordinary matter as it passed. The fireball grew, slowed, stalled, then collapsed back into a Planck length, the smallest quantum of distance, taking the generator, blockhouse and two hundred cubic meters of Earth with it.