The World Is Propelled to the Brink of Nuclear Annihilation,

Just Before the Arrival of Planet-X

Chapter I

Strange Days

There was an eerie calm as the long gray cylindrical shape glided silently through the water, a scant 150 feet beneath the surface. The ocean’s crashing waves belied the surreal tranquility, which lurked below. The American submarine was on a mission destined to usher in a new age of technological advances in modern warfare.

The USS Colorado an Ohio class Trident fleet ballistic missile sub was one of the largest submarines in the US Navy’s arsenal. At 560 feet long, with a displacement of 16,764 tons, it is almost twice the size of a guided missile cruiser. With its compliment of 24 mirved D-5 Trident II ballistic missiles, each with five warheads, it is arguably one of the most destructive weapons systems ever built. Its missiles are capable of hitting targets anywhere in the world.

Its present location was the South Pacific, 200 miles east of the Solomon Islands. Suddenly, the waters directly above the Colorado erupted into a swirling turmoil as six Trident long-range ballistic missiles were ejected from their launch tubes. Two rows of vertical launch tubes run almost the entire length of the submarine. As all six missiles cleared the surface of the water, there was an ear splitting roar as the rocket motors ignited. The missiles quickly gained momentum and arched skyward, soon disappearing into the upper reaches of the cloudless sky. As the setting once again became peaceful, only six drifting vapor trails remained. The captain gave the order to go deep. The Colorado angled downward and quickly vanished into the ocean depths.

The USS Shilo, a US navy guided missile cruiser of the Ticonderoga class, was on location in the Indian Ocean 800 miles south east of Diego Garcia. Its four general electric gas turbine engines, with a combined output of 80,000 horsepower, were propelling it at just over 30 knots. Equipped with the Aegis air search and fire control system, its phased array radar provides continuous search and tracking of several hundred targets at once. Apprehension grew on the bridge as the cruiser knifed its way through the calm seas.

Just 500 yards off each beam, two escort ships kept pace. The aegis cruiser Mobile Bay and guided missile destroyer Picket completed the regiment of three US warships.

Suddenly, the bridge of the Shilo became a scene of increased activity. “Captain, we have radar contact—range one thousand miles and closing. We are presently tracking thirty bogies—speed is fifteen thousand miles per hour—altitude, two hundred thousand feet,” the radar operator said. The Trident missiles independently targeted warheads, had already separated, and were currently in the final stages of reentry.

The Shilo’s computers already had the firing solution and were continuously updating the ships weapons systems. As the range decreased to nine hundred miles and the altitude dropped below one hundred and fifty thousand feet, target identification was confirmed, and the captain immediately issued orders to arm the Shilo’s weapons. Three turrets, one located on the forward deck, and two aft of the bridge, rotated and aligned themselves with the incoming warheads.

A split second later came the order to fire. Immediately, there was a deep low pitched hum, accompanied by a blinding flash of light, as high energy lasers erupted from each turret. The heat from each burst was intense enough to cause significant burns to exposed skin from as far away as ten feet.

The heat of reentry, combined with the focused energy of a one second laser pulse, was enough to penetrate the outer casing of a warhead, deforming it, as well as destroying the guidance system and trigger mechanisms. Furthermore, deformation of the outer casing would make the warhead aerodynamically unstable, causing it to tumble wildly, ultimately disintegrating from heat and gravitational forces.

All three of the ship’s laser cannons fired continuously, automatically cycling from one target to the next. After about thirty seconds, the star wars display, wrought by Shilo’s laser cannon, abruptly ended.

“Sir, we have radar and satellite confirmation. All targets have been destroyed,” a voice called out.

“Good job everyone,” the captain responded. “We’ve just prevented thirty dummy nukes from reaching their targets. The ideal situation would have been to destroy the missiles immediately after launch before the warheads had time to separate, or better yet, take out the launch platform. That being said, it would appear that we now posses the means to neutralize any air threat launched against our interests. However, though today’s test may have been successful, a real nuke tucked away in a backpack or the trunk of a car somewhere is probably the one that will eventually get us. Let’s go home gentlemen,” the Shilo’s captain said.

Nancy Hodges sat reviewing the latest images sent back from the Hubbell Space Telescope. With a Ph.D in astrophysics from Berkley, she was a well-respected astronomer. She had joined NASA’s Hubbell program, a little over a year ago. Since then, she’s had quite a few accomplishments to her credit.

As she went over the most recent Hubbell images, something caught her attention. “What’s that,” she murmured to herself. At present, the Hubbell was positioned directly above the earth’s equator, looking south, surveying a region of deep space, going straight out from the earth’s South Pole. “Jim, come take a look at this,” Nancy urged.

Jim Shepherd, senior astronomer with the Hubbell program, had over ten years with NASA. He earned his Ph.D in astrophysics, at Harvard, and a Master’s in computer science at MIT.

“Hmm, that’s strange,” he uttered. “When did these come in?” “Less than an hour ago,” Nancy replied.

Jim scratched his forehead. “It could be just an anomaly, but it’s still too early to tell. Nancy, go ahead and run a full spectrum, and keep me

posted. It could be a few days before we have enough data to sort this out.”

“Will do,” replied Nancy.

Lex Garcia was head of Homeland Security, Houston division. As he stood at the front of the conference room, he shot a quick glance at his watch. It was just past 8:00 A.M. At that moment, two more people hurriedly entered the room, bringing the total to fifteen.

“Okay ladies and gentlemen, I may as well get started,” Lex said. “We’ve received unconfirmed reports that an airliner, inbound from Mexico City to Chicago, has been hijacked. Apparently, contact with the plane was lost 20 minutes ago. The information that we have now, is sketchy. At about 7:30 A.M. this morning, a 747 jumbo jet with eight crew members, and 187 passengers, took off from Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International airport, inbound to Chicago. Shortly after takeoff, the tower received a garbled transmission from, we’re assuming, the pilot, stating that terrorists were trying to take over the plane. About five minutes after that transmission, Mexico City International lost radar contact.

“There is speculation that the plane may have gone down. However, we cannot ignore the possibility that terrorists did get control of the plane, and managed to put it down at some secret location, or worse, that the plane is under the control of terrorists, and is at this moment, en route to some pre-designated target here in the United States.

“The flight originated in Istanbul Turkey. If the plane were in fact hijacked, the terrorists could have boarded the plane before its arrival in Mexico City. Right now, we just don’t know.

“This is a scary situation people. I’m pretty sure you can imagine the kind of damage that a plane of that size could do. To keep from alarming the public, we are keeping this under wraps until we can fully assess the situation.

“In the mean time, all of our military air assets in the United States are on full alert, with stepped up fighter patrols. We are concentrating our efforts over the southern sectors of the country. We are also repositioning one of our spy satellites to focus on Mexico and neighboring countries, in an attempt to locate the airliner, in the event that it did land. However, the satellite won’t be in position for at least 24 hours. In the mean time, we’ve already scrambled a U-2 reconnaissance bird to go down and eyeball the situation.

“Right now, I’d like to take a minute to thank all of my team leaders. You have been doing an outstanding job, and I appreciate it, and I’m sure that the American people appreciate all of your hard work and dedication. “Well, that concludes this meeting. Please get your people up to speed as soon as possible. You will be updated on our current situation as soon as we get more information. Have a good day.”

Dr Harold Wainwright was brilliant in his field of expertise, a pioneer in bio-engineering and gene splicing. He is well respected in the scientific community. In his 30 years of scientific research, he has paved the way for many new discoveries and techniques, which up until only a few years ago, resided solely in the realm of science fiction.

Dr Wainwright was currently employed by the US government in conducting research at a facility located a few miles southwest of Baytown, Texas. Over the course of many years and numerous experiments, he has developed an almost insatiable curiosity for the strange and unusual. Over time he began using government resources to secretly dabble into projects of his own. One such project was now well underway in an area of the facility accessible only to himself.

Dr Wainwright had often toyed with the idea of creating exotic new life forms. Through variations of cloning and genetic engineering, the possibilities were limited only by a person’s imagination, something that the good doctor had an abundance of.

His current government-sponsored project involved research to determine the feasibility of genetic alterations to make a human invulnerable to any type of biological pathogen.

There were only four other people assisting him at this facility. He was partial to working with small staffs for a couple of reasons. He felt that it increased efficiency and also gave him more leeway to pursue his own endeavors.

Dr Wainwright’s latest diversion, was a real piece of work. It’s taken on the appearance of a hellish, foul smelling entity, which stood five feet tall,

with blood red eyes. Looking like something that had just stepped out of a nightmare, its facial characteristics were beast-like, with exposed fangs and a pair of horns that extended out on both sides, curling up at the tips. It had a muscular, hair-covered body and stood upright, supported by legs that extended forward where the knees would have been, ending with a pair of goat-like hooves. The snake-like tail twitched about, as though it had a mind of its own. The creature had an unmistakable air of evil about it.

As he peered into its 20 by 30 foot reinforced cage, Dr Wainwright was not quite sure what to make of his latest DNA concoction. His previous attempts at genetically creating new life forms, had been a bit disappointing to say the least. With all of his other experiments, not even one had progressed beyond a few cell divisions. On the other hand, this creature has exhibited phenomenal growth characteristics. It’s taken less than six months for it to reach its present size. It also had a ravenous appetite and would eat any living thing that was unfortunate enough to be within its grasp.

An air of foreboding came over the doctor as he contemplated the end results of his latest genetic tinkering. Every instinct told him that this was an extremely dangerous creature, and that it probably should be destroyed immediately. The doctor began to wonder if maybe this time he had gone too far over the line and had opened a Pandora’s box filled with unimaginable horrors.

If word of what he was doing ever got out, the fallout would be enormous. This had to be kept from even his closest confidants. He shuddered at the thought of what would happen if this hideous creature were to ever get loose.

On the other hand, there may be plenty of benefits to be gained from its study. He would like to solve the riddle of its astonishing growth rate, for one.

Then again, perhaps he was just being a little too paranoid in his assessment of the creature’s lethality. In the end, Dr Wainwright decided that the matter did warrant further study, and that he would postpone any final decision until a later date. In the mean time, he would try to derive as much knowledge as possible concerning the nature of this strange biological creation.

It has been nearly an hour since the 747 touched down on the improvised landing strip and was wheeled under a huge camouflaged tarp. The strip was in an isolated area, about 100 miles northeast of Mexico City, surrounded by thick jungle and steep hills. The landing site had been prepared several weeks earlier in anticipation of today’s events. It consisted of a large grassy field, with only a few scattered trees and brush.

After the trees and underbrush had been cleared out, there was scarcely enough room to accommodate the landing of an aircraft the size of a 747. After reviewing the plane’s runway requirements for takeoffs and landings, the area had been carefully measured off to make sure that there would be enough room. There was also an abandoned warehouse located about a quarter of a mile from the landing strip. That was now being used to confine the 186 passengers and eight crew-members.

After working frantically over the past hour, eight of the hijackers were almost finished loading the last of the wooden crates onto the airliner. The other 10 terrorists were busy guarding the passengers and crew. So far, the hijackers had managed to cram over 4000 pounds of high explosives onto the plane.

There were only eight terrorists aboard the plane at the time of the hijacking. The other 10 were already on the ground in Mexico at the landing site. Armed with automatic weapons, grenades, and machetes, the terrorists at the landing site boarded the plane as soon as it rolled to a stop at the strip.

The passengers and crew were all herded at gunpoint to the abandoned warehouse and placed under armed guard. The hijackers on the plane did not want to be distracted by a bunch of desperate passengers during the next and final leg of their flight. They figured that perhaps later, the passengers and crew could be used as bargaining chips.

As the last crate was loaded onto the plane, Omar yelled out, “Hurry up!—quickly!—we must get this plane back into the air before the Americans can locate our position!”

“Yes!—soon the infidels will once again feel the wrath of Allah!” Jamal replied.

During the next stage of the planned attack, only two hijackers would

be required on the plane—one to fly the plane and the other one to assist with navigation.

Omar Habib had been a fighter pilot in the Iraqi air force before the fall of Sadam. Jamal Ackbar had been a member of the elite republican guard. Jamal was no pilot, but he like Omar, had obtained many hours of computer simulated, 747 flights by using widely available flight simulation software and a laptop computer.

All of the plane’s transponders and GPS equipment had been turned off to prevent the plane’s position from being pinpointed by Mexican and US authorities. They would have to rely on line of sight to navigate to their objective. They would simply follow the eastern coastline of Mexico and the United States using specific landmarks to locate their objective.

The remaining hijackers bid farewell to Omar and Jamal and quickly vacated the plane, securing all hatches and doors. “And now, the moment of truth. Let’s see if we can get this monster of an airplane to fly, with such a minimum amount of space,” Omar said.

“You can do it Omar, I have faith in you,” Jamal replied.

The landing had been a near disaster. The two American pilots had had their hands full getting the plane down on the ground in one piece, and then skidding to a stop with only a few feet to spare. Omar decided to put the landing out of his mind so that he could concentrate on the matter at hand.

As they took their positions in the pilot and co-pilot’s seat, Omar looked at the vast array of instruments in front of him. He then gazed out through the windscreen, looking at the far end of the landing strip. Only three-fourths of a mile separated them from the tree line at the end of the strip. The liftoff would have to be timed perfectly in order to succeed.

As Omar pushed ever so gently on the throttles, the idling jet engines picked up their tempo to a steady whine. The plane began to lurch forward, until finally, it was no longer concealed by the overhead camouflage. “And now let’s see if we can get this plane into the air,” Omar said, as he went to full throttle. The steady whine became a thunderous roar as the engines responded. As the plane rolled forward, the camouflage reacted violently from the backlash of the jet exhaust. Slowly the plane began to gain momentum. Too slowly, it would seem, for the remaining runway.

“We are not going to make it!” Jamal shouted as the speed indicator inched past 50.

“Come on, you can do it,” Omar said as he tried to will the plane to go faster.

The landing gear did what it could to absorb the bumps and jolts being dished out by the rough condition of the landing strip. The fact that it has held up this long gave stark testament to its durability. As the plane finally struggled past 100, the onrushing tree line appeared alarmingly close. “We have to take off now!” Jamal screamed.

“No! Not yet,” replied Omar. “We are not going fast enough.”

After several more agonizing seconds, Omar came to the conclusion that Jamal was right. They probably weren’t going to make it. They still had not reached takeoff speed when Omar decided that they had to go for it. He pulled the yoke back as far as it would go. The onrushing trees suddenly dropped out of sight as the nose of the airliner pitched upward. As the plane hurtled down the grassy runway, its rear landing gear remained firmly planted to the ground, leaving a trail of swirling dust and vegetation in its wake. As if to underscore the seriousness of their dilemma, the stall warning, with its relentless scolding, could suddenly be heard above the furor of the four screaming jet engines. Jamal braced for Impact, as Omar instinctively pushed the control yoke forward.

As the nose began settling, the plane suddenly became airborne. A split second later, there was a tremendous crash accompanied by the sound of tearing metal and splitting wood. The space surrounding the plane, immediately filled with flying bits of vegetation and splintered tree branches. The left rear landing gear was suddenly torn from its mount and went tumbling to the ground. Incredibly, the airliner continued to climb as it cut a wide swath through the treetops. In an instant it was over, as the battered aircraft finally had enough altitude to fly unimpeded. “Are we going to make it?” Jamal asked.

To their surprise, despite their close encounter with the treetops, the plane was still flying. Except for the missing landing gear, and various

degrees of damage to the underbelly of the plane, it still managed to remain airborne.

“We have landing gear warning light,” Jamal said.

“No matter, I think I can still fly the plane. Whether we make it to our intended destination, remains to be seen. Jamal, see if the landing gear will retract,” Omar said.

After Jamal engaged the switch, there was a barely audible hum, and then a thump as the two remaining wheels retracted. However the warning light remained lit.

“The landing gear will no longer be required. In order to avoid radar contact, I will have to keep the plane at rooftop level. Jamal, your help at this point will be critical. We will need to pay close attention to locate and avoid obstacles,” Omar said.

By this time, the airliner was racing along at close to 500 miles per hour. Omar eased back on the throttles to bring the speed back down to a more manageable 300 knots.

The Gulf of Mexico loomed just ahead. Omar made a banking left turn to bring the plane onto a northerly heading, running parallel to the coast. He quickly took the airliner down to treetop level, where they would remain for the rest of the trip. If luck remained on their side, they would reach their destination in about three hours.

Chapter II

Eve of Destruction

Mathew O’Conner was only half awake as he sat on his

 sofa with both feet propped up on the coffee table, eyeing the TV. He had decided to take a break from his online stock trading business to check out the local noon news. Matthew was 39 years old, 6 feet 2 inches tall, with a sleek athletic build. He prided himself in working out and keeping fit. A native Houstonian, he’d gone through his second divorce a little over three years ago.

Up until a year ago, he’d been a manager at one of the largest investment firms in the country. After 12 years with the company, he got laid off, a victim of the post 911 stock market slump. After that, he moved back to Houston and started his own online investment business. He had a fairly diverse, personal portfolio of stocks, which had produced substantial earnings before things went south. Unlike a lot of other investors, he decided to ride it out, rather than sell, in hopes that the market would eventually come back. Finally, things did turn around, and he eventually recovered all of his losses after the Dow climbed back above 10,000. It’s been a year since he started his online business. He had been living mainly off of his savings until he started bringing in a profit a little over four months ago.

As he gazed at the television set, the news announcer made a statement. “We’ve just learned of a possible hijacking involving an

international flight out of Mexico City en route to the United States. Our sources indicate that the plane, a jumbo jet carrying 200 passengers, vanished earlier this morning around 8:00 A.M. Authorities are still searching for the missing plane. We will bring you further details on this story as they become available.”

Probably another false alarm, Mathew thought. There’s no way that they’re going to get their hands on another plane after the World Trade Center. He turned off the TV and went back to work on his computer. There was much that he needed to get done.

Dr Harold Wainwright was in the lounge with a couple of colleagues taking a lunch break when the research facility was suddenly jolted by a powerful shock wave. There was a rush of air as every window in the facility was blown out. The entire building shook as ceiling tiles went tumbling to the floor. A resounding roar sounded in the distance as the lights blinked off, for a couple of seconds, before coming back on.

“What in the name of God!” exclaimed Pete Rogers.

Ed Johnson and Pete were sitting directly across the table from Harold. All three men jumped to their feet and immediately made their way to the nearest exit, stepping over ceiling tiles and broken glass as they went. They ran outside expecting to find a significant part of their building in ruins. However, except for the displaced ceiling tiles and broken windows, their facility was relatively intact. But, that was of little comfort when they spotted the source of the disturbance.

The Bay City nuclear power plant, which housed two of the largest nuclear reactors in the country, was on fire. The power plant was barely a mile from the research facility. Both containment structures were almost totally obscured by thick black smoke rising hundreds of feet into the air. They could see orange flames amid the smoke.

“Unbelievable!” exclaimed Ed. The initial shock of what they were seeing was suddenly replaced by panic.

“Houston, we’ve got a problem,” Pete said out loud.

“If either of those containment buildings has been breached, we may have a serious radiation concern,” Harold warned.

“No shit,” Ed replied.

Suddenly, the sound of sirens could be heard in the distance. At that moment, a second explosion ripped through the power plant, quickly followed by a third. Though not as powerful as the initial blast, the concussion was enough to send all three men diving to the ground. As the three cautiously got back to their feet, they could see that the power plant was now totally obscured by thick black smoke.

Harold observed that the smoke was being blown in a northeasterly direction. If radiation was being released, the city of Houston could eventually be affected.

“I don’t know about you guys but I’m getting the hell out of here,” Pete said.

“Me too,” Ed agreed.

“Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to pack up the wife and kids, and go visit my parents in New Mexico. I have a feeling that things are going to get real ugly in a hurry,” Pete said.

Harold concurred, as all three men ran back into the building to gather their belongings. Harold was the last one back out of the building. As he headed for the car, he suddenly froze in his tracks. In all of the confusion, he had totally forgotten about his secret genetics experiment. What about the creature that he had hidden away in the dark confines of the research facility? He thought for a moment. At that instant, as if to underscore the urgency of the situation, another explosion rocked the power plant, sending smoke and debris skyward. I don’t have time for this right now, he thought. I will let the authorities get things under control first and then deal with this later. He got into his car and quickly drove away.

Lex Garcia, head of homeland security Houston, was still trying to piece together earlier reports of a low flying aircraft when he received word of a huge explosion and fire at the nuclear power plant in Bay City, Texas. “My God!” he exclaimed. “It can’t be. This can’t be happening!” The phones in the main operations center were lit up. Everyone was in a state of disbelief. Lex reached for his two-way radio. “Bill, get the chopper warmed up and ready to go. I’ll meet you up at the helipad.”

“Roger,” came the reply.

Lex looked around. “Scott, Al, grab your gear, we’re going to Bay

City.” The three men quickly gathered their belongings, and then headed for the elevator. As they stepped into the elevator, Lex surmised. “I have a bad feeling here gentlemen. This could turn out to be the nightmare scenario that everyone has been dreading.”

Scott had a portable radio with him. The three men listened intently to the latest breaking news as they rode the elevator up to the 50th floor.

“Sounds pretty bad,” Al commented.

“Do ya think that could be our missing airliner?” Scott asked.

“I’d be willing to bet on it,” Lex replied. “Won’t know for sure however, until we do some investigating,” he added.

Finally, they arrived at the top floor. As the elevator doors slid open, they stepped out onto the roof of the building and quickly proceeded to the heliport, where a Blackhawk helicopter was sitting in wait. When the three men climbed aboard, Bill was already sitting at the controls.

“Do we have radiation measuring equipment aboard?” Lex asked. “Affirmative,” Bill replied.

“Okay gentlemen, let’s go to Bay City,” Lex said.

The chopper promptly lifted off and then proceeded south at a brisk pace. It would be a 20-minute flight to Bay City, located about 90 miles south of Houston.

Mathew had been back at his computer for perhaps 10 minutes when the phone rang. “Mathew,” he said as he picked up the phone.

“Hey Mathew, Doug here.” “What’s up Doug,” Mathew replied.

“Say man, you been checking out the news?” Doug asked.

“You talking about the missing airliner that they think may have been hijacked?” Mathew replied.

“Nah, I didn’t hear about that, but the Bay City nuclear power plant is on fire right now! They’re not sure yet if it’s terror related, but it seems to be pretty serious,” Doug said.

“Damn!…and I thought the report about the possible airline hijacking was just another false alarm! This could damn well be related. Thanks for the info Doug. I’ll talk to you later guy,” Mathew said. “Take care,” Doug said.

Mathew ran and turned on the TV. He was immediately presented with footage of the burning nuclear power plant, apparently shot from a television news helicopter. Almost the entire scene was filled with huge columns of black smoke with flames licking at the base. The flashing lights of emergency vehicles were visible around the outer perimeter of the power plant. It appeared, however, that none of them were making an attempt to get close enough to actually fight the fire.

At that moment, the television news announcer continued with the late breaking news story. “At around 12:05 this afternoon, several witnesses reported seeing a low flying plane crash into the nuclear generating facility at Bay City, Texas, just south of Houston. One person said he heard a loud explosion and then saw flames erupt from the power plant. Right now information is sketchy, and it appears that officials are scrambling to get a handle on the situation. The Bay City nuclear facility is one of the largest nuclear power plants in the United States and supplies power to the cities of Austin and San Antonio, Texas,” the news announcer said.

As Mathew sat and watched the TV in stunned silence, he started channel surfing. On almost every channel that he came to, the news had preempted regular programming, and the story was the same, Bay City. “There are reports of sporadic power outages and windows that were broken as far as a mile and a half from the power plant. So far, there are only two known fatalities from people being hit by flying debris directly adjacent to the power plant. There is no word on the fate of the power plant workers at this point,” the television news reporter said.

As what was happening began to sink in, Mathew began to feel a sense of uneasiness, mixed with morbid curiosity. However, there was one thing that he felt certain of. This was going to be a day to remember.

Lex had just gotten off the phone with his supervisor in Washington DC after being updated on the current situation in Bay City. He was also informed that the passengers and crew of the hijacked airliner had been rescued on the ground in Mexico by a US led rapid response team. Apparently, authorities had been tipped off by an informant who had stumbled across the landing site where the hostages were being kept. All but three of the terrorists had been killed during the rescue.

The chopper carrying Lex and his people was about one minute away from Bay City.

“Guys, we’re going to go in and assess the situation at the power plant and then coordinate with local authorities, as far as a course of action,” Lex said.

As they approached the power plant, a column of black smoke could be seen in the distance. Suddenly the portable radiation sensors aboard the helicopter started chattering loudly. Lex glanced at the readings. “I don’t believe this! We’re still a good two miles out, and the readings are almost off the scale!” Lex said. “Same here,” Scott replied.

“Get us out of here…pull back to a safe distance,” Lex ordered.

Bill banked the chopper hard to the right until they where headed in the opposite direction.

Lex was on the phone immediately with the home office in Washington DC. “Nick, this is Lex, in Bay City. We have a real bad situation here. It looks like we may have a breach in one or both of the reactor containment buildings. The power plant is burning out of control, and we’re getting extremely dangerous levels of radiation, as far as a two mile radius, out from the power plant. We need to get these people out of here, fast! I strongly suggest an immediate evacuation of Bay City and the surrounding area,” Lex said.

“Affirmative, we have a special emergency response team flying in from Fort Hood, Texas. They should be there within the hour,” Nick replied.

“In the mean time, we’ll be in touch with local authorities and the National Guard to help with the evacuation process,” Lex said.

“Okay, I have to say though, I’ve a feeling that things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better, at this point. We may have two, out of control, runaway nuclear reactors down there! I don’t see how any of the power plant workers could have survived at those high radiation levels. So far, we haven’t been able to contact anyone at the power plant. There, in fact, may be no survivors. Right now our main priority will be

to get the evacuation process going as quickly and as smoothly as possible,” Nick said.

“Yes sir. In the mean time, me and my crew are going to head on over to the Bay City police Department and monitor things from there. I’ll let you know of any new developments on this end,” Lex said.

“I’ll do the same here…You and your men take care,” Nick replied.

There was the screech of tire rubber as the first and then second C-130 transport touched down at the tiny regional airfield just 10 miles outside of Bay City, Texas. It had been a short 45-minute flight from Fort Hood, Texas. They quickly taxied to an isolated parking area and came to a stop. There was a noticeable whine as the huge rear cargo door on each plane was lowered to the ground, forming a ramp. Military personnel, garbed in olive green fatigues and baseball caps, hurriedly made their way down the ramps. They were followed by three, olive drab, two and a half ton trucks, two from one plane, and the third, with a trailer in tow, was off loaded from the 2nd C-130.

All three trucks had enclosed rear cargo areas with antennas extending up from the roofs. The three trucks were modified to protect the occupants against radiation as well as chemical and biological agents. They were also shielded against electro magnetic pulse associated with a nuclear detonation.

Colonel Richard Davenport was in charge of emergency response team Bravo. They were specially trained for terrorist related disasters involving weapons of mass destruction. Each team member was equipped with two-way radios, a gas mask, and a standard issue 9mm side arm.

As soon as the last vehicle was off loaded from the plane, Colonel Davenport and his personnel boarded all three trucks and quickly proceeded towards the rising smoke column in the distance. About half a mile out from the airport, they encountered the first roadblock. Two state troopers with the Department of Public Safety were busy directing traffic away from the vicinity of the power plant. The evacuation was underway. After Colonel Davenport displayed his credentials, the three- vehicle procession was waved on through.

A couple of minutes after passing the roadblock, they began picking up intermittent chatter on the radiation detection gear. “Pull it over,” Davenport said to his driver. As they rolled to a stop, Davenport picked up his two-way radio and ordered everyone to dismount and dawn their radiation protection suits. All six men complied.

The jump suites went over their uniforms and were comprised of special radiation retardant materials. Very similar to a space suit, it was a one-piece hooded unit, complete with battery pack and life support. Each suit had a radio microphone integrated into the hood portion along with breathing apparatus. From this point on, all communication would be by two-way radio.

After the men climbed back aboard the trucks, they continued in the direction of the crippled nuclear power plant. As they approached to within a quarter mile of the plant, the billowing plumes of black smoke loomed high overhead. The radiation level was intense. Finally they reached the plants outer perimeter and rolled to a stop. Due to the shielding built into the vehicles, the inside radiation levels were only slightly elevated, while the outside levels continued to soar.

Colonel Davenport gave the order to deploy the ROVs, (Remotely Operated Vehicles). Abruptly, the rear door of the trailer being towed by the last response team truck, swung out and down, forming an incline. The first ROV slowly made its way down the ramp and proceeded along the outer perimeter fence in search of an access point. The second ROV came down the ramp and took off in the opposite direction.

There was a high-resolution color camera mounted atop each vehicle along with an array of sensors and antennas. The two control panel operators, seated side by side in the protected enclosure of the rear trailer truck, had a panoramic view of the outside, afforded by two 20 inch, closed circuit television screens. The cameras could be rotated a full 360°.

The two unmanned robot vehicles were relatively small, about the size of a bobcat mini dozer. They are capable of climbing stairs and opening doors with their tracked wheels and heavy lift manipulator arms.

Suddenly, the first ROV arrived at the main entrance gate to the powerplant. The security booth, located adjacent to the entrance, had been totally obliterated. The ROV made a sharp left turn and headed directly toward the burning containment buildings. It slowly threaded its way through a minefield of scattered debris, much of it still ablaze. As it got closer, the damage became more apparent. One containment structure was completely obscured by smoke, while the other was only partially visible. The adjacent control complex had been reduced to a pile of burning rubble.

The first ROV, approached to within 100 feet of the smoke obscured containment building before finally coming to a stop. The camera rotated slightly and then zoomed in for a close inspection of the containment structures.

Colonel Davenport, stationed in the lead truck just outside the perimeter fence, closely monitored his television screen. He was receiving the same closed circuit television pictures as the two ROV operators.

The second ROV, having made its way around to the opposite side of the two containment buildings, found a breach in the perimeter fence and also moved in for a close up inspection. As it moved closer, its high- resolution camera rotated 360°, surveying a scene of smoldering cars and ruined buildings. It maneuvered around puddles of burning jet fuel and various bits of scattered debris. In one pile of wreckage, a fairly large section of aircraft wing was visible. Davenport toggled back and forth between the cameras of both ROVs.

Suddenly, a gust of wind parted the thick plumes of black smoke, which had totally obscured one of the containment structures. Davenport, and the two ROV operators, were for the first time able to see apparent damage to one of the critical containment structures, housing one of the largest nuclear reactors in the country. Colonel Davenport watched his television monitor in stunned amazement. There was a huge, 30-foot diameter hole in the containment structure right at ground level. A network of fissures and cracks in the thick reinforced concrete walls, radiated out from the jagged opening like a huge spider web. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the containment structure was once again totally obscured by thick black smoke.

However, Davenport had seen enough. He shuddered as the mind numbing ramifications of what he had seen began to sink in. In all likelihood, all of the plant workers were dead. Those that were not killed outright by the massive initial explosion probably succumbed shortly thereafter to the intense radiation. What he had now was a nightmare situation with two apparently runaway nuclear reactors located only 90 miles southeast of a city of over two million people. “God help us,” he muttered to himself as he reached for his secure, satellite up link. “This is Colonel Davenport, get me General Myers.”

“General Myers here, go ahead Colonel,” came the reply after a brief pause.

“Sir, we have a worst case scenario here. The Bay City Nuke has two run away reactors. The Comanche-1 containment structure has apparently been breached by what appears to be a large aircraft of some sort. We were able to make out bits and pieces of airplane wreckage as well as what appeared to be burning aviation fuel among the debris. The Comanche-2 reactor containment structure appears to be intact. However, the control room and adjacent support buildings have all been destroyed. The probability of their being any survivors is practically nil. Sir, at this time, we have no way of knowing how much cooling water remains around the core of those reactors or whether or not water is still being supplied. In my estimation, there is a high probability of a full meltdown, and judging from the intense levels of escaping radiation and high heat signature, picked up by our scanners, the process may be already underway. And another thing General, with the current wind direction, Houston is in the direct path of any radioactive contamination emanating from the damaged power plant,” Colonel Davenport said.

“My God!” the general replied. “Colonel, I want you and your men to get out of there immediately. It looks like we’re going to have to declare a state of emergency for the entire southern sector of Texas and Louisiana. We’ve already initiated evacuation proceedings for Bay City and surrounding areas. Now we’re going to have to work up a plan to include virtually the entire southeastern United States.”

“Colonel, we appreciate the outstanding job that you and your team did down there. At this time, I would like you and your crew to return to Fort Hood for debriefing. Thanks again Colonel,” the general said and hung up.

More than two hours have passed since the explosives laden jumbo jet crashed into the Comanche-1 containment facility. The highways running south and northwest from Bay City were virtually choked with traffic. It consisted mainly of frantic motorists who were desperately trying to put as much distance between themselves and the Bay City nuclear power plant as possible. A large number of military vehicles, National Guard units aiding in the evacuation process, added to the congestion.

Lex Garcia and his crew were standing outside the Bay City police department watching the procession of civilian and military traffic. They were preparing to board their chopper and make a speedy retreat back to Houston. Now that the National Guard were on the scene, Chief of police Calvin Boyd along with several of his officers were inside hastily securing the police headquarters building in preparation for evacuation. Weapons and ammunition were being taken out of the building and loaded onto rental trucks. Prisoners and staff members had already been vacated.

Lex glanced uneasily at the long column of black smoke in the distance. They were about 10 miles from the crippled power plant, much too close by his estimates. “Come on, let’s get Back to Houston,” Lex said, when suddenly out of the corner of his eye, he detected a disturbance.

A bright flash had emanated from the direction of the power plant. When he looked back in that direction, a huge white cloud had erupted, totally enveloping both containment structures. The cloud instanta- neously expanded outward for at least one mile forming a giant sphere, which slowly began rising as it ominously morphed into the shape of a towering mushroom. Lex and his crew stood transfixed, as they were seized by a sudden wave of panic.

“Tell me that’s not what I think it is,” Scott said.

“A nuclear detonation?” Lex responded. “I don’t think so…the initial flash would have been blinding, followed almost immediately by intense heat, perceptible even at this distance. If it’s what I think it is, then gentlemen what we’ve just witnessed was one of the containment structures being blown apart. The overheated reactor core may have

vaporized all of its cooling water, building up enormous pressures inside the reactor containment structure, finally causing it to explode like a bomb.”

Lex had barely gotten the words out when a thunderous roar erupted. It sounded as if the earth was being split apart. It had taken almost a minute for the sound of the explosion to reach them from the power plant. Several seconds later, debris began raining down like hail stones. It was made up of bits of concrete and gravel from the exploded containment structure.

“Aw great…now we have radioactive crap falling from the sky,” Bill moaned.

“Which right now, is the least of our worries—one of those reactor cores is now probably totally exposed and progressing rapidly towards a total meltdown, or worse. I think that it would behoove us to make a hasty retreat,” Lex said.

At that, all four men ran toward the Blackhawk helicopter, which sat in an almost deserted parking area adjacent to the Bay City police building. After a brief inspection for damage, they jumped aboard. In less than a minute, the chopper was airborne and speeding north toward the city of Houston.

Located just over a mile from the Bay City nuclear power plant, the secluded government run research facility lay in ruins. The latest explosion at the power plant had been of such force that it flattened everything within a one-mile radius.

The Comanche-2 containment structure was gone, completely obliterated by a massive build up of steam pressure. And now radioactive material spewed freely from the fully exposed reactor core poisoning everything downwind of the ruined power plant.

Suddenly, amid the wide spread scene of death and destruction there was movement. It emanated from the ruins of the nearby government research facility. Alas, it was Dr Wainwright’s living nightmare creation unleashed. After clawing its way from beneath the rubble, it stood upright, surveying the scene of devastation around it. Its blood red eyes, darted back and forth suspiciously, looking as if it didn’t quite know what to make of its new found freedom. It walked in a crouch, its snake like tail

twitching feverishly, as it investigated its surroundings. Abruptly, it glanced back over its hunched shoulder, at the nearby smoldering nuclear power plant. There was a spark of intelligence in its eyes, overshadowed by an aura of pure evil. Finally, it turned and strode off, disappearing behind a large area of felled trees, bordering what was now left of the research facility.

Three hours have passed, since the devastating terrorist attack, on the Bay City, Texas, nuclear generating facility. Deep in the bowels of the pentagon, a high level meeting, had just gotten underway. General Edward Myers, headed the session. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Bay City situation is deteriorating rapidly. At present, satellite data indicates a fairly wide area of radioactive contamination, up to a 20-mile radius from the power plant. Right now, wind conditions are northeasterly at about five miles per hour. That puts Houston, and just about the entire southeastern sector of the United States at immediate risk. The question is, what are we going to do with all of those people? We’re talking, in the tens of millions,” General Myers said.

“General, is there the possibility of a nuclear explosion?” one of the staff members inquired.

“According to the experts, the possibility of that happening is remote, but at this point, nothing is certain. Suffice it to say that in either case, the lives of millions of people, will still be hanging in the balance. We’ve already begun the mass evacuation of Bay City and the surrounding areas. Within the next 24 hours, the entire Houston and Galveston area, will be compromised. The president is giving the order to evacuate Houston, and neighboring towns as we speak. This is going to present us with an unprecedented logistics problem. It’s going to be pretty much impossible to relocate millions of people, without creating a situation of mass chaos. A state of emergency has been declared, for those locations presently downwind of the nuke. The Texas National Guard is assisting with emergency operations, in the Houston and Baytown areas. Guard units in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi have been put on standby. As for our defense posture, all US forces, at home and abroad, have been placed on a state of alert. We are presently at DEFCON 3. The terrorist threat level

has been raised to red. As of yet, no one has claimed responsibility for this latest terrorist attack against the United States, here at home. However, we’re exploring all avenues, and I feel confident that, in due time, we’ll get to the bottom of whoever is behind this, and then appropriate action, will be taken,” General Myers concluded.

The evacuation of Bay City, had been going at an accelerated pace for the past two hours. Lt. Colonel Brad Smith was in charge of the 500 or so National Guard troops that were assisting in the evacuation efforts. Their present location, was about 20 miles west of the crippled nuclear power plant. Radiation levels had been steadily increasing, and were now reaching the critical stage.

Colonel Smith was about to issue the order to reposition the troops, when suddenly everything was bathed in a blinding flash of white light, accompanied by an intense burst of radiant energy. Everyone, instinctively dove for cover, in a futile attempt to escape the blistering heat. After a brief period, the initial heat dissipated, as quickly as it had arrived.

Colonel Smith intuitively glanced in the direction of the power plant, and was greeted with the chilling spectacle of a huge fireball. It expanded rapidly, sucking up a thick column of dust and debris, as it ascended into the upper atmosphere. After about 30 seconds, it burned itself out, and formed a gigantic mushroom shaped cloud. Finally, a quick gust of turbulence, accompanied by the distant sound of rolling thunder, announced the arrival of the shock wave. It had taken almost two minutes for the blast and sound, to travel the 20 miles to their present location. Heat and blast effects, had been greatly diminished by the distance, between them and the apparent nuclear detonation.

The explosion, had incinerated everything within a three to four mile radius of the power plant. All electrical power, within 150 miles of the Bay City area, had been immediately disrupted, by the intense electromagnetic pulse, generated by the nuclear explosion. Every point from Houston, to Port Lavaca, Texas, was plagued by sudden power outages. The already clogged roads and highways leading out of the Bay City area, immediately

became a vast network of parking lots, as all motor vehicle traffic came to a halt. Their electrical systems had been rendered inoperable.

Lt. Colonel Smith stood gazing at the scene of growing horror, as he and his troops were besieged by throngs of panic stricken motorist, their stalled vehicles no longer able to provide them with a means of escape. As Colonel Smith looked on, the sobering reality of the situation began to set in. It would appear that time had finally run out. There was no conceivable way that all of these people would be able to get out in time. Under present conditions, it would be just about impossible for his own men to escape the spreading radiation, let alone tens of thousands of panicked civilians.

The military vehicles, were still viable. They had for the most part, been hardened against EMP. However, there was one major problem. All of the escape routes had been cut off, by the tens of thousands of stalled vehicles, which now clogged the main access ways.

Chapter III

Hell's Bells​