Chapter 1

First signs of trouble

Naga Deng Copper Mine, India

2009

Dr. Adrian Helmsley was traveling in a taxi towards the mine, which was now the Institute of Astrophysics, to meet his friend Satnam, who had just made an important discovery.

It was pouring down rain and large puddles had formed in the road. The taxi pulled up and Adrian got out as Satnam rushed over.

"Welcome, my friend!" Satnam said.

"Great to see you again!" Adrian replied as they hugged briefly.

"Yeah, great to see you made it." Satnam replied. Adrian turned and recognized a kid playing near a puddle.

"That can't really be Ajit, he's already a little man! Unbelievable, he's grown so fast!" Adrian said.

"I hope you're hungry, Adrian!" Satnam's wife Aparna called out. "I'm starving. How are you, Aparna?" Adrian replied.

"I made that fish curry that you love!" Aparna called out. "I can't wait!" Adrian replied.

Adrian and Satnam walked towards the entrance elevator. "Aparna gets more and more beautiful every time I see her. Why is that?" Adrian asked.

"It's strange, isn't it? But her fish curry is still awful." Satnam replied jokingly.

"You seemed mysterious on the phone. Why didn't you attend the conference?" Adrian asked. "I will show you why, Adrian, sir." Satnam replied.

"Satnam, please stop 'siring' me." Adrian replied. Being called "sir" all the time was one of Adrian's pet peeves.

They got into the elevator and began their descent. "How deep do we have to go?" Adrian asked.

"Eleven thousand feet. I searched all over India for this thing. This used to be the world's deepest copper mine." Satnam replied. A few minutes later, the elevator reached the bottom of the shaft.

"Do you remember my brother, Gurdeep? He's now a student." Satnam said as Gurdeep opened the elevator doors and they got off.

"Namaste, Dr. Helmsley, sir." Gurdeep said as he greeted Adrian. "Please, it's just Adrian." Adrian replied as he walked out.

"How do you work in this heat?" Adrian asked, sweat covering his face as the heat in the mine shaft took its effect.

"You've come on one of the good days, my friend. Sometimes it can hit 120 degrees." Satnam replied as he led Adrian to a laboratory filled with computers.

"You have to come and meet Dr. Lokesh, a fellow of quantum physics at the university in Chennai." Satnam said as they met a scientist taking notes at a piece of equipment that recorded data onto chart paper.

"Namaste." Adrian said as he greeted Dr. Lokesh. "Dr. Helmsley." Dr. Lokesh replied as he greeted Adrian.

Satnam led Adrian to a computer and brought up a simulation. "So, what are we looking at?" Adrian asked as he looked at the screen.

"These are neutrinos acting normally. Minuscule mass, no electrical charge, they pass through ordinary matter almost undisturbed." Satnam replied as he showed Adrian the simulation that showed the normal readings of neutrino behavior. "Your message said the count doubled after the last solar eruptions." Adrian said. "That was last week, but this happened two days ago." Satnam replied as he led Adrian to another computer and brought up a history of recent solar activity.

The data showed a massive eruption of solar mass bursting from the sun. "The largest solar eruptions in human history, causing the highest count of neutrinos ever recorded." Satnam explained.

"Oh, my God." Adrian said as he stared at the screen. "That's not what worries me, Adrian. For the first time ever, the neutrinos are causing a physical reaction." Satnam said.

"How is that possible?" Adrian asked. "Please, follow me, I'll show you." Satnam replied as he led Adrian to a large chamber filled with sensors used to detect neutrinos.

"You will not believe this, this water tank goes down another six thousand feet. It looks like the neutrinos coming from the sun have mutated into a new kind of particle." Satnam explained as he opened the hatch to the water tank.

Steam billowed out of the tank as the hatch was opened up. "They're heating up the core of the Earth and suddenly act like microwaves." Satnam explained.

Adrian stared in disbelief as the water inside the tank boiled.

Lincoln Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C.

2009, two days later...

Adrian rushed into the hotel where a formal fund-raising event was taking place. "It's okay, it's okay, I work for the White House." Adrian told the doormen.

"I don't care, this is a black-tie event." one doorman told him. Just then, Adrian spotted his colleague Scotty within the crowd.

"Scotty!" Adrian called out. Scotty walked over, a surprised look on his face.

"Hey, Adrian, I thought you were still in India, what's going on?" Scotty asked.

"I need your jacket." Adrian replied. "What?" Scotty asked in disbelief. "I gotta speak to Anheuser, give me you damn jacket, please." Adrian replied.

"Okay, okay." Scotty replied as he took off his jacket and gave it to Adrian. "Hold that for a bit, will you?" Adrian asked as he gave Scotty his bag and put the jacket on.

He took a notebook out of the bag and walked towards Carl.

"Mr. Anheuser?" Adrian called out as he approached Carl. "Mr. Anheuser!" Adrian called out again. Carl turned his head and spotted Adrian.

"I need to talk to you." Adrian said. "I'm sorry, do I know you?" Carl asked, confused.

"Sorry sir, my name is Dr. Adrian Helmsley, I'm a deputy geologist at the Office of Science and Technology Policy." Adrian explained.

"Excuse me for a moment, please." Carl said as he turned to face Adrian. "You know that this is a fundraiser, not a frat party, right?" Carl asked as he noted Adrian's not-so-formal attire.

"It's extremely important, sir." Adrian pleaded.

"You know what? It always is. Here's what I want you to do: make an appointment with my- you know, even better: have your boss bring it up at the quarterly briefing, okay? There's a good plan." Carl replied.

This got Adrian frustrated and he was determined to have Carl read the notes he had from India.

"I just traveled twenty straight hours to get here, sir. I haven't slept in two days! You need to read this, sir. You need to read it now!" Adrian said, his frustration taking hold.

Carl finally took the notebook. "Let me guess, national geology crisis?" Carl said jokingly to the people he was talking to earlier.

More like global geology crisis! Adrian thought. Carl put on a pair of reading glasses and began reading over the notes.

He grew concerned and even worried as he read on. Finally, he turned to Adrian. "Who do you report to?" he asked.

"Lee Cavazos" Adrian replied. "Not anymore." Carl replied. He turned around and began walking as Adrian began to follow. He got out his cell phone and dialed a number.

"Alan, bring the car around." he said. He hung up and turned towards Adrian. "You're gonna wish you took a shower." he said.

"Sir?" Adrian asked in confusion. "You're about to meet the president." Carl replied.

"What's going on?" Scotty asked.

"Get that to the office." Adrian replied. Scotty stared on in disbelief and confusion.

G8 Summit, British Columbia

2010

The leaders of some of the major nations, including the Russian president and the American president were holding a meeting to discuss the situation that was discovered last year.

"Good morning, I would like to meet privately with my fellow heads of state." President Wilson said as he entered the meeting room.

The Russian president said something to one of his interpreters in Russian. "Mr. Makarenko wishes to have his interpreters present." the interpreter said, translating what President Makarenko just told him.

"Mr. President, I can assure you, your English is more that sufficient for what I have to say." President Wilson said as the interpreter translated the statement for President Makarenko.

President Makarenko agreed and told his interpreters to leave the room.

The others left the room as well, leaving just the heads of state.

"Mr. Presidents, six months ago, I was made aware of a situation so devastating that, at first, I refused to believe it. However, through the concerted efforts of our brightest scientists, we have confirmed its validity. The world as we know it will soon come to an end." President Wilson said grimly.

Cho Ming Valley, Tibet, China

2010

A massive construction area was being set up in the mountains as Chinese military helicopters flew patrols overhead.

An announcement was being made by a soldier over a megaphone.

"(Translated from Mandarin Chinese)This dam project will create many new jobs. The Party and country will assist in your relocation." The announcement stated.

People were being loaded into military trucks to be transported to relocation sites as the workers stayed behind.

As people were being selected for specific jobs, a siren began to sound.

Seconds later, large blasts ripped through the side of a mountain.

Empire Grand Hotel, London

2011

A king from the Middle East was looking over an electronic dossier that was given to him in his hotel room. The dossier was digital, translated into Arabic.

The English man looked on as the king stared at the small screen in disbelief.

"Has His Highness had an opportunity to study the dossier?" the man asked. The king looked up at the man.

"You must understand, I have a very big family, Mr...?" the king said.

"Isaacs." the British man replied.

"One billion dollars is a lot of money." the king replied.

"I'm afraid the amount is in euros, your Highness." Isaacs replied.

Musee Du Louvre, Paris, France

2011

A group of men wheeled a special case towards the Mona Lisa. They opened the case, revealing a duplicate of the famous painting.

"(Translated from French)I put a lot of faith into your organization." One man said as two others lifted the replica from the case.

"It's a perfect replica, Roland. There are too many fanatics out there that could damage her. Just think about all those beautiful Buddha statues they blew up in Afghanistan. Our Heritage Organization has already made selections from the British Museum and L'Hermitage." A woman, Laura, said as two more men gently lifted the real Mona Lisa from it's place and carefully placed it into the case.

"I guess she'll be safe now, tucked away, hidden in some bunker in Switzerland." Roland said as the other men wheeled the case away.

"Perfectly safe, Roland, only infrared analysis would reveal the difference." Laura said.

"But it's still a fake." Roland replied.