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Shards

July 17, 2010

“The blast radius and raditation signature is almost a complete match for one of ours, Mr. President.”

“Almost…?”

“There’s something different about the device, based on photos that managed to get transferred before it detonated.

“And there’s more.”

“Please.”

“This is a photo of Colonel Matthew P. Sullivan at the corner of Arkansas and Buchanan from an ATM he was standing near. It was taken just minutes before detonation.”

The briefer pushed the glossy 8 by 10 across the table. The vice president craned his neck to glance over.

“And this is a photo of Colonel Sullivan with his wife and kids on vacation in the Bahamas, taken ten minutes ago.”

The second photo slid across. The vice president said nothing but his glance at the briefer indicated he thought it some kind of sick joke. The president was asking the questions here.

“A double? A twin? A clone?”

“We don’t think so. Not exactly. We think… Sir, this is going to sound crazy, so brace yourself. NASA thinks that Colonel Sullivan, the one who brought the device with him to the Capitol,” he pointed to the photo outside the ATM, “came from an alternate earth. From a parallel Universe.”

The VP leaned back in his chair, dumbfounded.

“Go on.”

“They’re slightly more advanced than us scientifically. Being able to travel from one Universe to the next indicates they’re ahead of us on that. What we know about the bomb also indicates some advances we have yet to make. Neither has anyone else on our earth, intel says.”

“The implication? Why?”

The answer, if it was coming, was interrupted by yet another visitor passing through the door to the bunker. This time a marine, an officer, came in.

“Mr. President, sir! You need to see this. There’s been another detonation. This time Moscow.”

Yet another interruption as a communications officer spoke up, “Sir. Former Secretary, Dr. Kissinger on the line, as requested.”

“Put him on the screen.”

There was a brief pause as the satellite connection was established.

“Henry!”

“Mr. President. Though I am old, I can still guess this is not a social call.”

“Have they given you the intel?”

“Yes. I think it’s conclusive.”

“What is it? What do they want?”

“Our natural resources, obviously. They are attempting to get us to destroy each other, to ruin our own infrastructure, to reduce our consumption of resources and our defenses at the same time. Once that is established, they will swoop in and take what they want with little resistance. At least that is my off-the-cuff analysis based on what we know.”

There was a long pause as the Commander-In-Chief thought through what he heard. When he spoke, the first real sign of emotion was in his voice. This was truly an unprecedented problem.

“What do you suggest we do?”

“Decide. Surrender and allow them to take what they want, which will in the long run result in the same situation as we run out of what we need. Or fight, and find ourselves, at least for the shortterm outgunned. Perhaps we can reverse engineer some of their weaponry and in time even the odds.

“But I should point out the real problem.”

“What’s that?”

“They have a version of Colonel Sullivan. It is therefore likely that they have a version of you and me as well. They will know, perhaps—experience and other factors can alter the decisionmaking process—but they may already have anticipated this conversation.

“Additionally, they may have replaced key personnel with their own versions, or…well any one of us might now actually be from this other earth.”

“Well, then. A war amongst ourselves will only help them.”

“This is correct, Mr. President.”

“World peace. I’ll be accused of being a hippie.”

The vice president risked a laugh at that and spoke up, “But we’ll have to bulk up on weapons at the same time. To defend ourselves. The whole damn planet for that matter. Sounds touchy.”

“Thank you, Doctor Kissinger. I’m going to have to assign you some protection.”

Before the man could respond, the connection was terminated as the President indicated to the young man monitoring the connection.

“How do we defeat ourselves, Joe?”

“Not easy since we know every move we’ll make.”

“What we need is another solution. Something that makes those others no longer want what’s ours.”

“Mr. President. Beijing and the Russians on the line. They won’t say where they are—”

“Hold that for a minute.

“What we need is another advance of some sort. Some way of providing whatever we need out of whatever we don’t.”

“Like that thing on Star Trek. Makes food or whatever… What’s it called…?”

“A replicator. This whole thing sounds like Star Trek, doesn’t it? Mirror Universe? Evil versions of us? So ridiculous it’s unbelievable.”

There was another long pause as they sat in silence mulling it over.

“Roger? Get me NASA. The JPL is about to get a new assignment.

“After that, get me Beijing and…find out who’s in charge of Russia now and let me talk to them. The Europeans can wait an hour, but warn them about the possibility of more weapons.

“Joe, wonder how we make contact with them.”

“Guess you need to write a speech. The people are gonna need to hear from you anyway.”

“What do I say?”

“You call tell them that this is no Bolshevik plot.”

“That… Well, why not?”

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From → NKINTRA, Short Story

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