Ceiling lights rocked and swayed with each concussive blast, fine dust raining down from above. Neal compiled the final module, watching the indicator reach 100% in short jerky bursts. This was it then. Sharp notes of ozone drifted from the insulated pylons in the center of the room.
They were on build-up to the final event, driven by Neal’s discoveries and hastily-coded plan. The radius of 100 kilometers should be sufficient, even swallowing the Parkes dish in the process. No trace could be left behind. The math behind the cascade was complex, but the results were simple.
Reed burst back into the room, gun drawn.
“You’re out of time, cowboy. Where is the decode? We need it, NOW!”
Neal stood slowly, one hand positioned near the keyboard.
“Your lies are over. I know everything.”
“The infection will continue to spread unless you have that decode, so stop giving me a bunch of—“
“There IS NO INFECTION!”, Neal shouted, at his limit. “There never WAS one! You roped me into this godforsaken business, and everything you’ve said is complete bullshit!”
“So what if it was? It isn’t about the process, its all about results. You better have some, or you’re going to take a dirtnap.”, Reed’s grip tightened on the pistol.
“Maybe so, but not before I stop you from destroying entire countries.”, Neal punched the < Enter > key, invoking the final countdown.
Reed’s eyes went wide, large red digits displayed on every screen, counting down to oblivion.
“What the hell did you do?”, Reed’s voice crept up a register, dark tendrils of panic taking hold.
“You and other people like you are trying to use this effect to conquer each other, but you don’t understand what you are doing. Like children playing with fire, you’d burn the entire forest just to get at each other.”, Neal took off his glasses and cleaned them as he spoke.
“The first accident created its own microcosm, budded off from this one. The ‘Bootstrap’ protocol, as you came to call it. The signal was sent from the edges of the universe, leaking from what I believe to be black holes, slowly over the eons. The code is nothing less than genesis, the creation of another Brane, if you understand multiverse theory.”
Reed couldn’t believe this. He was losing control, just like the botched drop in the jungle. Rage grew in the pit of his stomach, surging through his limbs.
“You’re not the only one with a plan, you smug bastard. On my say so, this entire base is set to go up like the world’s largest firework — including you. Stop this countdown and help me, dammit!”, Reed’s voice cracked, veins standing out on his neck.
“I am helping. The world, not you.”, Neal sat back down, countdown stopping on zero.
On every screen, the numbers were replaced by a single message – “Bootstrap : Initiated”.
Flying arcs of electric/quantum flux spewed from the pylons, engulfing Neal, and then Reed. Expanding at luminal speeds, the sphere resonated with unworldly harmonics as every node across the world sang with the same deadly song.
Neal had chained them all together, linked through quantum effects and higher dimensions. Each sphere rose into the atmosphere, borders crackling with dark energies and negative discharges. The surface roiled like a soap bubble, diffracted rainbow patterns surging across the surface.
The earth grew a tangled necklace of shining spheres, simultaneously imploding from sight, sun casting shadows from the edges of perfect circles cut into the crust.
At the edge of the Parkes crater, birds began to sing.