by Richard Rose
PART ONE: A NEW WORLD ORDER
Parker James passed through the neutron transformer and sped faster than the speed of light across the universe. Transformed into dark matter energy, he passed directly through the suns and planets of every surrounding galaxy until he re-formed outside the universe.
Looking down (or was it up?), he saw the curvature of all the worlds he’d hoped there were even as they spiraled away like an endless chain of double helix DNA.
Oddly, Parker felt he was simultaneously everywhere he looked. It seemed that he and everything around him was moving rapidly yet standing still. How could that be? Was this apparent speed a deception? Had anything really moved at all? That’s when Parker understood that he understood nothing at all.
A giant flash appeared directly in front of his eyes and he saw himself as a child being taught by his father to ride a bicycle with training wheels. The movie screen image enveloped him and he rode along on the bicycle with his younger inner child. He heard his father’s reassuring words, “Don’t worry, son -- I’m right here with you.”
Parker gasped (or so it seemed), as he re-lived that split-moment of absolute terror when his father gave a little shove and let go of the handlebars and at 6-years old he was on his own. Parker thrilled again at the joy of gliding along effortlessly. And that singular feeling of floating free when his child’s arms steadied the handlebars, and his child’s feet reached the pedals, and he propelled himself along a busy city street as part of an ever-changing landscape.
His vision blurred until it focused anew on the sweet smiling faces of his two children running toward him with their mother until they all laughingly knocked him down into a field ablaze with flora.
The image abruptly changed and now he watched helplessly from afar as planet earth imploded, spewing all of its rich resources, history and life forms into the void of space. Moments later, the image disappeared as a brilliant starburst erupted from directly inside Parker illuminating the dark corners of this new, ever-changing, landscape.
Twisting and spiraling, Parker himself lit up every dimension before him as he witnessed planets form and galaxies emerge and then heard the sound of voices rise up around him. Indistinguishable and foreign to any of his memories, Parker understood their chorus nonetheless-it was a celebration of life, continuously erupting in chaotic harmony, cheering their own existence. Then someone turned the neutron transformer off and Parker fell back to earth in his new, ethereal, body.
ONE WEEK EARLIER: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Doctor Nicholas Zemetrius looked out the bay window of his central second floor office and rationalized that he was not a political man. He cared very little about the geopolitical struggle between the great powers although, for deeply personal reasons, he hated both Americans and communists. The doctor also knew the renewed post cold war apocalyptic struggle between east and west actually helped pay for his research and many unbridled passions.
As director of the Geneva Institute's giant particle accelerator program, Zemetrius had secured substantial funding from sources in dozens of countries including the U.S., Russia, India, Germany, France, England, Israel, and even Iran. But China was his special client.
While the nearly 17-mile long particle accelerator was ostensibly created to identify the smallest particles of life, few knew the potential for discovering the next great weapon of mass destruction. Doctor Zemetrius' greatest talent was his ability to conceal the many secret programs at the Institute exploring this dark potential.
Zemetrius turned away from the window behind his massive oak desk and ran a hand over the wood’s smooth, polished finish. Smiling in satisfaction, the doctor brushed back his long, silver hair. He crossed the large room to face the wall-length depiction of what he and his world-class scientists called their ‘babies’.
The oversized collage of photos that filled the framed picture still failed to capture the immense size of the Atlas Project. The bold caption above the photos declared, ‘Geneva Institute Unveils Atlas’. As Zemetrius admired the technological display of next-world wonder, his door suddenly opened and a thin, agitated man burst in. “Berg, what is wrong with you, man! Have you forgotten how to knock? I am very busy! What do you want now?” Doctor Zemetrius spit out the words, glaring, while retreating to his desk. Physicist Peter Berg removed his eyeglasses and quickly followed Zemetrius to his desk, intent on confronting his boss.
“Doctor Zemetrius, I have come to ask you again to make our trials public. I believe our breakthroughs on the neutron transformer have incredible implications for travel through space and time.
Yet, as you well know Doctor Zemetrius, there are unthinkable dangers with the prototype--dangers I’m afraid we are taking too lightly!”
Zemetrius stared coldly at his most important staff scientist. “Peter, the only one taking things too lightly is you, my friend. You are not only full of unnecessary anxiety but insubordination as well. I have told you the time is not yet right!” Zemetrius slammed his hand thunderously on the desk while leaning into the scientist’s face. “Berg, your own trials with transporting subjects have failed--is this what you want to publicize?”
Berg shook his head impatiently, “Yes, I do! Because, despite the failures, we are making some progress. But, Doctor Zemetrius, what truly concerns me is how this new harnessing of nature’s power we’ve achieved can also be used for sinister purposes. You and I both know what we have created here, and now, Doctor Zemetrius-- we must show the world!”
Zemetrius boiled inside at Berg’s daring to challenge him, but he knew he must stall the physicist just a bit longer. “Yes, of course, Berg.”
Zemetrius smiled as he approached Berg to place an arm around his suspicious colleague. “We will show the world very soon, Peter. Just give me a little more time to prepare. After all, such monumental news must be properly framed for everyone’s sake.’
Zemetrius placed both his hands on Berg’s shoulders to face him squarely. “Listen, I have an idea, Peter. I’ll make an exception to the ban on outside communications so that you may arrange a conference of scientific delegations already involved in our work here. I will allow you to fully explain the breakthrough in DME.” Berg looked skeptical and turned toward the door, but Zemetrius followed closely behind to press him further. “Peter, it’s the best I can do right now. And it will help me get the ball rolling on the rest of it. Agreed?”
Berg somehow felt unclean, as if he had been bribed, but he seized on any opportunity to throw off the cloak of secrecy. “Yes, agreed. But, it must be this week, Doctor Zemetrius. And then we must agree on a date to reveal everything.
I will wait no longer.
May I remind you that, as scientists, we are obligated to share this information with the nations who have helped support our work.”
Zemetrius snorted, “And may I remind you, Peter, who has supported you in that work. That would be this Institute, which I run. Please, do not forget who has buttered your bread!”
Berg considered the sizeable authority Zemetrius had given him over the Atlas Project and the immense scientific esteem and even fame he’d begun to enjoy. Of course, that was before Zemetrius had become so secretive and untrustworthy. “Doctor Zemetrius, believe me, I haven’t forgotten a thing.” Berg quickly slipped out the door, leaving Zemetrius to consider the veiled meaning of his departing words.
"Have you heard from Parker?" Colonel Garrison asked, as he turned up the corridors of the E-ring inside the Pentagon.
A nervous assistant shook his head no, as they entered the complex of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA is the world's largest intelligence organization and the umbrella group for all U-S military undercover work. The DIA is the true undercover force in Washington, rather than the CIA.
Colonel Garrison passed through the optical scanner and face detector with his assistant before entering the inner sanctum responsible for 85-percent of America's spy network. Despite nearly 30-years of serving his country, mostly in an invisible role, the colonel was still forced to stand patiently as heavily armed, specially trained MP's searched his briefcase for signs he'd become a turncoat, or worse--someone who talked to the press.
Garrison sighed as he was finally allowed to enter his biologically-sensored and sound-proofed office where all the latest JCMT technology had been employed. JCMT is Pentagon speak for the Joint Collection Management Tools--a software system that created and integrated some of the most exotic and bizarre spy toys--including the latest marvel, the DNA tracker.
Leon Ferrie fidgeted in front of the two-foot oblong tracker as it hummed its familiar eerie search tune that some compared to a far-off train whistle.
"Have you found Parker?" The colonel asked, as Ferrie turned to face him.
"Not yet, colonel. I don't believe he’s surfaced yet.”
Garrison grunted as he sat down next to Ferrie, as always, amazed at the technology that had created the DNA tracker. The tracker could isolate a single person's DNA anywhere in the world and had proved to be the turning point in the now nearly forgotten war on terror. A lot of bad guys in hiding had been taken out, all of them dying while wondering how they'd been found. Garrison wasn't really sure how it worked, but he understood that Pentagon satellites fitted with low-level, reflecting human penetrating radiation beams could isolate the unique characteristics of each person's DNA.
The government scientists could have told Garrison that the harnessing of cosmic gamma rays, coated with highly penetrating neutrino particles from solar radiation, had enabled the still secret technology. Or, at least, Colonel Garrison hoped it was still secret, especially since it sprayed some radiation wherever it was aimed. The ‘experts’ claimed it was no more radiation than you’d get from a few x-rays at the dentist’s office, but Garrison never liked x-rays—or his dentist for that matter. Right now, the beam was saturating a section of the East China Sea as it flowed into the Straits of Taiwan. In an apparent show of war games, the Chinese were running their fleet in an out of the straits, both frightening the Taiwanese while getting the Pentagon’s full attention. It’s why the colonel sent Parker on this middle of the night mission to try to find out what the Chinese were really up to.
Ferrie continued finessing the satellite transponders to aim the beam more minutely. “Colonel, look! It’s Parker—he’s boarding one of the drones.” Garrison grunted approvingly as the wide screen monitors flashed the grainy, greenish image of a man climbing the side of a rusting patrol boat.
They’d already identified it as a cold war relic dating to when the former Soviet Union had supplied China’s navy with some of its own patrol boats.
The Yulin class gunboat had been officially retired by the Chinese and was now only used as a target drone for warships and jets to practice on. It’s why Garrison had chosen to send Parker aboard since it was usually operated by just one or two crewmembers when it was not being blown up or shot at.
An added bonus in picking the Yulin was that it wasn’t much of a gunboat. It carried only two 13-millimeter guns and, at less than ten knots maximum speed, was truly a ‘slow boat to China’.
“Let’s go, Parker-in and out, just like we said.” Garrison didn’t need an international incident. Even if the top brass had ordered this mission, he knew they’d run for cover if it was exposed. Parker needed to find the fleet’s orders, which the captain of even this lowly vessel would have in his possession to follow the Chinese fleet. The idea was for Parker to slip aboard, grab the orders unnoticed and meet back up with the navy seals’ midget sub that had delivered him into harm’s way.
The colonel watched the monitors in apprehension as Parker used suction cups to scamper up the side of the rust bucket before sliding through a railing onto the deck. Garrison tried to focus more closely on the streaky images from the ship when he suddenly gasped, “Look out, Parker!”
Aboard the old patrol boat, Parker sensed the approaching Chinese sailor and ducked just in time. When the surprised and sleepy sailor first spied Parker climbing aboard, clad in a black scuba suit and night vision goggles, he’d had only enough time to grab a wooden paddle from one of the deck-side life rafts where the sailor had been resting.
But the sailor’s groggy aim showed as he swung at Parker, as the paddle splintered instead against one of the cabin doors.
Parker wasted no time rushing the sailor, but drove him backward so forcefully
they both went over the ship’s railing. Even as they plunged into the frigid waters, Parker and the Chinese sailor continued their death struggle. Their arms locked, Parker fought off the sailor’s desperately violent attempts to rip off the specially miniaturized breathing gear Parker would need to return to the midget sub.
As the men dropped further into the depths, Parker gambled and quickly dropped his right hand to grab hold of the dagger attached to his specially designed dry suit. As Parker unleashed the dagger, the now drowning Chinese sailor finally managed to rip off Parker’s breathing gear.
Parker involuntarily gasped for air, and then choked, as he wound up with a gallon of Pacific Ocean water in his lungs instead. The Chinese sailor broke for the surface with the breathing apparatus. Disorientated and gagging, Parker mustered just enough control to spear the sailor’s boot with his dagger.
The sailor cried out in pain, and also swallowed a bucket of seawater, as Parker’s blade pierced deeply into his foot. More importantly, in all his flailing, he lost hold of the breathing gear. Parker silently cursed as he saw it float away. He began to feel light-headed as he fought for his life now by desperately pulling the hooked sailor toward him. The sailor, all bug-eyed, tried to reach down and slip off his boot so Parker tore at his face, digging with his nails. The sailor was choking violently now, but managed to grab Parker by the neck to strangle him.
Unable to breathe at all, Parker savagely pulled the dagger out of the sailor’s foot and stabbed him hard in the gut. The sailor immediately spit out a mix of seawater and blood, but still had enough life in him to grapple with Parker over the dagger.
Parker was rapidly losing consciousness and could barely maintain a grip on the dagger anymore, but so was the Chinese sailor until he suddenly let go to feebly push toward the surface. The blade went limp in Parker’s hand. The last thing he remembered before he passed out was seeing the Chinese sailor’s lifeless body floating above him.
"Release The Butterfly"
by Richard Rose