John Ringo: Into the Looking Glass

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    Into the Looking Glass
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Into the Looking Glass: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When a 60-kiloton explosion destroyed the University of Central Florida, and much of the surrounding countryside, the authorities first thought that terrorists had somehow obtained a nuclear weapon. But there was no radiation detected, and, when physicist Dr. William Weaver and Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller were sent to investigate, they found that in the center of the destruction, where the University’s physics department used to be, was an interdimensional gateway to… somewhere. An experiment in subatomic physics had produced a very unexpected effect. Furthermore, other gateways were appearing all over the world-and one of them immediately began disgorging demonic visitors intent on annihilating all life on Earth and replacing it with their own. Other, apparently less hostile, aliens emerged from other gateways, and informed Weaver and Miller that the demonic invaders — the name for them that humans could most easily pronounce was the “Dreen” — were a deadly blight across the galaxy, occupying planet after planet after wiping out all native life. Now it would be Earth’s turn, unless Weaver and Miller could find a way to close the gateways. If they failed, the less belligerent aliens would face the regrettable necessity of annihilating the entire Earth to save their own worlds…

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Into the Looking Glass

by John Ringo


To Doc Travis, one hell of a physicist, without whom this book would have made exactly no sense.

Author’s Comment

There are a few deliberate mistakes in the physics in this book (for reasons of security) and I’m sure there are some that are undeliberate. All mistakes, intentional or unintentional, should be laid upon my doorstep.


The explosion, later categorized as in the near equivalent of 60 kilotons of TNT and centered on the University of Central Florida, occurred at 9:28 a.m. on a Saturday in early March, a calm spring day in Orlando when the sky was clear and the air was cool and, for Florida, reasonably dry. It occurred entirely without warning and while it originated at the university the effects were felt far outside its grounds.

The golfers at Fairways Country Club had only a moment to experience the bright flash and heat when the fireball engulfed them. The two young men on University Boulevard selling “top name brand stereos” that they “couldn’t return or their boss would kill them” didn’t even have that long. The fireball spread in every direction, a white ball of expanding plasma, crisping the numerous suburban communities that had spread out around the university, homes, families, dogs, children. The plasma wavefront created a tremendous shockwave of air that blasted like a tornado outwards, destroying everything in its path. The shockwave spread to the south as far as U.S. 50 where early morning shoppers were blinded and covered with flaming debris. It enveloped the speeders on the Greenway, tossing cars up to a half a mile in the clear air. It spread to the north almost to the town of Oviedo, erased the venerable community of Goldenrod, spread as far as Semoran Boulevard to the west and out to Lake Pickett to the east. The rumble of the detonation was felt as far away as Tampa, Cocoa and Ocala and the ascending mushroom cloud, roiling with purple and green light in the early morning air, was visible as far away as Miami. Flaming debris dropped into Park Avenue in Winter Park, setting the ancient oaks along that pleasant drive briefly ablaze and crushed the vestibule of St. Paul’s Church.

Troopers in the motor pool of Charlie Company, Second Battalion, 53rd Brigade, Florida Army National Guard, who were pulling post deployment maintenance on their Humvee and Hemet trucks, looked up at the flash and cringed. Those that remembered their training dropped to the ground and put their arms over their heads. Others ran into the antiquated armory, seeking shelter in the steel cages that secured their gear when they were at their civilian jobs or, as seemed much more common these days, deployed to the Balkans or Ashkanistan or Iraq.

Specialist Bob Crichton was compiling loss lists in his cubicle when he noticed the rumble. The unit had returned only a week before from a year-long deployment in Iraq and everyone seemed to have “combat lossed” their protective masks. Unit protective garments were at less than thirty percent of proper inventory. It was stupid. Everybody knew that sooner or later the riffs were going to hit them with a WMD attack, chemical, radiological or even nuclear now that Pakistan was giving the Saudis of, all people, nukes. But nobody liked protective garments or masks and they “lost” them as fast as they could. Convoy ambush? Damn, the riffs must have grabbed my mask. Firefight? Where’d that protective garment go?

He looked up to where his diploma from the U.S. Army Chemical Corps Advanced Training Course hung and saw the glass shatter even before it fell off the wall. He blinked his eyes twice and then dove under the metal desk and clamped his hands over his ears, opening his mouth to equalize the pressure, just before the air-pressure shockwave hit. Even over the sound of the explosion, which seemed to envelope the whole world, he heard the sound of the big windows in the armory crashing to the floor of the parade hall. There was a sound of tearing metal, probably one of the old girders that held up the roof of the parade hall, then relative silence except for a distant screaming. He waited a moment, catching creaking from the old building but figuring it was as safe as it was going to get, then climbed out from under his desk and headed for the company commander’s office.

The first sergeant and the operations sergeant were just pulling themselves out from under their own desks when Crichton burst through the door without knocking, normally a cardinal offense but he figured this was as good a time as any to ignore the directive.

“Nobody goes outside for at least thirty minutes, Top,” he said, bouncing from one foot to the other in the doorway. “And I need my survey teams, that’s Ramage, Guptill, Casey, Garcia and Lambert. And as soon as it’s clear I need a platoon to start filling sandbags for the Humvees—”

“Slow down,” the first sergeant said, sitting down in his chair and then standing up to brush crumbs from the drop ceiling off of it. The first sergeant was tall and lanky. Up until the last year he’d been the chief investigator for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. When they got deployed, ignoring the Soldiers and Sailors’ Act, he’d given the sheriff his okay to appoint his deputy to the job. So when they got back he took a cut in pay and went back to work as a sergeant. Give him a crime scene and he knew where he was at. He even was pretty good at recovering the company from a mortar attack or a convoy ambush. He was one of the best guys in the world at training his troops to sniff out hidden explosives, weapons and other prohibited materials — he thought of it as shaking down a dealer’s house. But nuclear attacks were a new one for him and it was taking him a minute to get his bearings.

“I can’t slow down,” Crichton replied. “I need to set up a radiological station before anybody can go outside even after the first thirty minutes.”

“What’s with the thirty minutes?” Staff Sergeant Wolf asked. The operations sergeant was medium height and well over what the Army considered acceptable weight for his height. And it wasn’t muscle, like the CO’s driver who was a fricking tank, it was fat. But he was pretty sharp. Not unflappable, he was clearly taking even more time to adjust than the first sergeant, but smart. When he wasn’t in one third-world shit hole or another he was a manager of a Kinkos.

“Falling debris,” Crichton asked. “We don’t know it’s a nuke. It probably was but it could have been an asteroid hit. They throw chunks of burning rock into the stratosphere and they take a while to come down.”

“Top?” Crichton heard from behind him. The chemical specialist turned around and saw that the mortar platoon sergeant had come up behind him while he was talking. The platoon sergeant, a staff sergeant who was a delivery manager for UPS when he was home, showed a physique developed from years of throwing often quite heavy boxes through the air. It was running to fat now that he worked behind a desk ten months out of the year, but he still was a big guy you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

“Get Crichton his survey teams,” the first sergeant said, looking at the suddenly irrelevant papers on his desk. “Send Sergeant Burell around to get everybody inside until the all clear sounds. Then get with the rest of the platoon sergeants in the Swamp. Wolf, head over to battalion, see what’s up.”

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