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The Hammer of God

The Hammer of God

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Published by Polaris93
The Eris War. Volume 1: The Dragon and the Crown, by Admiral Chaim G. Resh, USN detached. Book 1: The End of the Beginning. Part 2: Judgment Day. Chapter 2: The Hammer of God. Impact of the asteroid at 2 am EDT, July 16, 2022, just off the coast of Maine.
The Eris War. Volume 1: The Dragon and the Crown, by Admiral Chaim G. Resh, USN detached. Book 1: The End of the Beginning. Part 2: Judgment Day. Chapter 2: The Hammer of God. Impact of the asteroid at 2 am EDT, July 16, 2022, just off the coast of Maine.

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Published by: Polaris93 on Aug 28, 2010
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Yael Dragwyla and Richard RansdellFirst North American rightsemail: polaris93@aol.com17,300 words
The Eris War
Volume 1: The Dragon and the Crown
by Admiral Chaim G. Resh, USN detachedBook 1: The End of the BeginningPart 2: Judgment Day
Chapter 2: Stars Get In Your Eyes
Dateline: 2 a.m. EDT (6 a.m. GMT), July 16, 2022
 A skilled astronomical observer might have been able to catch sight of the approaching asteroid asmuch as 54 hours or so before impact. But at 1.5 million miles from the Earth, from the planet’s surface it would appear to be nothing more than a barely noticeable speck of light in the night sky – if that. If youdidn’t know what you were looking for, or that there was anything to be looked for, assuming you could seeit (that is, if your view of the stars wasn’t cut down to nearly nothing by smog, light pollution, etc.), youwouldn’t give it a second glance. Not until an hour or so before impact would such an observer notice anything unusual. By then, at thirty thousand miles’ distance, the asteroid’s shape would be just barely discernible, little more than just a point of light. Just half an hour later, only thirty minutes before impact, the asteroid, just fifteen thousand miles fromits target, is the brightest object in the night sky, apart from the Moon, just past full, brighter even thanVenus. Even if it the Sun had already arisen there on America’s east coast, the asteroid would still bevisible to ground observers. Now, six minutes before impact – still some twenty-seven hundred miles away – the asteroid’sbrightness increases to thirty times than that of Venus, its apparent width a tenth that of the Moon. And asthe asteroid begins its final plunge toward the Earth below, within four minutes its apparent brightnessincreases almost ninefold; two minutes before zero hour, zero minute, it is 250 times brighter than Venus,its apparent diameter a quarter of the Moon’s.
 
 Just eight seconds from impact, the asteroid hits atmosphere – and for the first time, it begins to shineby its own light as well as by reflection from the Moon and Sun. For a few bare seconds before impact, it is the brightest object in the sky. Observers three hundred miles away see a fireball bright as the Sun.Observers thirty miles away witness a brief aerial light show a hundred times brighter than the Sun.Coming in at an angle of 45° to the surface of the Atlantic and a speed of forty thousand miles per hour (having been accelerated to that ferocious speed by Earth’s gravity), the asteroid’s surface is hotter thanthe surface of the Sun, nearly 11,000° Fahrenheit. But that isn’t the main source of its light. Most of that light is generated by the trillions of air molecules through which it passes on its way through the atmosphere and into the ocean. Through friction, some of the vast kinetic energy of the asteroid heats the air that surrounds it to a hellish 45,000-55,000° Fahrenheit. If our hypothetical observer is watching from directly above, he might see the dark mass, the gibbousMoon painting it yellowish-silver, streaking through the atmosphere, a magnum bullet shot at the Earth bya cosmic assassin. He might see it - if he doesn’t blink at the wrong moment. At 20 miles per second, abare instant after the lump of nickel-iron encounters the top of Earth's atmosphere, it has gone most of theway to the planet’s surface, its trajectory traced by a line of blindingly bright white fire, the calling-card of atmospheric gases stripped of all their electrons from the heat of its passage, furiously racing to recombinewith those electrons and anything else handy that can reclothe their naked electronic shells. A nano-instant later, it slams into the Atlantic, not far off the coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia, just  south of the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. A pico-instant more, slowed not at all by the thin skin of oceanwater in its path, it plows into the place where the continental shelf off the coast of Maine meets the Atlantic Abyssal Plain at an angle of about 45° and a mile below sea-level. After carving out a tunnel  some 44 miles long through Mesozoic sediments in its frantic passage through the basaltic bedrock of thecontinent, its ferocious kinetic energy considerably damped by the rock through which it burrows, it finallycomes to a halt roughly two miles below sea level. Its passage through the rock has turned everything around it to incandescent magma, but, embedded deep inside a pocket of slowly-cooling magma, itsinterior is still cold as the bottom of the Styx, not many degrees above absolute zero, from its long journeythrough the frigid deeps of space. In its wake, a vast fan of colloidally fine particles of molten material hasbeen cast back along the line of its passage by the force of impact, and a gigantic shockwave has been generated by it downward, upward, and sideways. Hurtling out of the sky, it has taken less than two seconds for it to pass through the atmosphere to itsimpact site on the sea-floor. Then, thanks to the peculiar angle (45°) and site of impact (the join of thecontinental shelf’s foot and the Atlantic Abyssal Plain, some half a mile below the horizontal plane that includes the point of impact, itself around a mile below sea-level), it takes another handful of seconds for it to penetrate the Earth’s crust to a depth of roughly two miles below sea level. If our hypothetical observer had looked away at the wrong moment, he’d have missed it all.Though at the moment of impact the asteroid’s outer layers were white-hot and beginning to vaporize,its core was still ice-cold from the stygian abyss of space. But that held true for only bare nanoseconds, nomore. Now, subliming in a flash into an incandescent plasma too hot to look upon even miles away without being instantly blinded, at supersonic speed the remains of the asteroid shoot back out the tunnel it has just carved for itself in the seafloor like bullets from the barrel of a rifle, exiting the tunnel, rising back upthrough the water to the ocean’s surface and there joining the water vapor and particles of sea-floor that were liberated by the impact. Great rings of white-hot vapor and blazing nitrogen have already begun torise from the from the ocean’s surface toward the Moon. At the moment of impact, as much as 10% of the asteroid’s kinetic energy, around 160 billion joules,equivalent to a forty-megaton thermonuclear explosion, was transferred to the surrounding ocean in the form of heat and pressure waves. Cubic miles of water, mingling with the blowback from the impact, were flash-boiled by the heat of impact, instantly subliming into incandescent rings of white-hot steam,exploding skyward at a velocity of several thousand miles per hour, rapidly penetrating the stratosphere. Now, around the impact site, a vast wave of ocean water, 10-15 miles high, its base glowing white-hot withthe heat of impact, rears up, far out of the ocean, driven by the shockwave’s gigantic fist. And, like thehigh-speed, incandescent toroids of plasma rising from the site, the upper part of that wave quickly penetrates the stratosphere, heading for outer space.Moving outward at better than a thousand miles per hour, the wave gradually begins to shrink. By thetime it is five hundred miles from the impact site, it is only a hundred feet high or less. – But that doesn’t 
 
matter at all to those in its way, including countless fishermen, naval officers and enlisted men, and otherswhose misfortune it is to be anywhere within hundreds of miles of the strike on either land or sea.
2:00 a.m. EDT, eastern Maine:A little south of Flagstaff Lake, at the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, north of Rangely and theeasternmost of the Richardson Lakes, Bill Preis and Pete Martin, two graduate students in paleontologyattending the University of Southern Maine at Portland, sat, winded, on a rock shelf, hoisting brewskis.Two days ago, they had made a bar-bet with another student that they could climb to the mountain’ssummit in under a day and consume a six-pack each before coming down. They both regretted it now. Itwas cold up here, and they were winded and beginning to get stiff and sore – but honor and a flat of kegswere at stake! So one of them got to his feet and, using his brand-new Minolta loaded with film good for any light-level except outdoor pitch-dark, took photographs to prove that they actually made Sugarloaf’ssummit.Suddenly, to the southeast, something traced a blindingly bright arc of light through the sky, clear down to the ocean. Even with several cans of beer in them apiece, they both had enough sense to turn their faces flush against the side of the mountain, covering their dazzled eyes, before they got a good deal worsethan merely dazzled by the light coming from that something. They managed to cling onto their precarious perch through the quakes that followed – they had already sunk pitons into the rock so that they couldrappel back down once they’d completed the ascent, and now those pitons, and the ropes around their waists tied to them, saved them from a long, hard fall off the mountain. Now the waters came, the titanic children of Poseidon, roaring up over the land, the shockwave fromthe impact lensed by the Bay of Fundy to the northeast and Nova Scotia to the east back toward Maine,over the coastal plain, up into the Longfellow Mountains, clear to the ridge-tops and peaks, includingSugarloaf’s summit. Once again the two men were saved by the pitons; though the gigantic wave actually passed clear over them, drenching them with seawater and draping them with odd bits of seaweed and lessidentifiable flotsam, coming close to drowning them, the deep-set pitons and the nylons ropes held likechampions, and, a few minutes later, bruised and battered, gagging and coughing up seawater and cursingfor all they were worth, the two men were once more able to breathe freely and pull themselves into morecomfortable positions.“We’re gonna freeze our asses off up here, Petey-Boy,” Preis told Martin as they got settled on therock shelf once more.“Fuck that, we still got our backpacks on. Let’s dig out the rest o’ them brewskis and hoist a few, justto celebrate,” Martin told his friend, laughing a little in sheer relief at their escape. “That’ll keep us warm!”“What about the jackets and shit we put in our packs, just in case, before we started climbing thismother?”“Fuck ’em. They’re just as wet as we are. Prob’ly more. The beer’s wet, too – but that’s the way it’s
 s’posed 
to be, ain’t it? Gonna wet m’ whistle, I am,” Martin said. He sounded drunk, but in fact he wasstone cold sober, thanks to the experience he’d just been through, shock and dawning terror confusing histhought-processes and slurring his speech.Each man helped the other to get the beer out of his pack. As they sat there on the rock shelf, side byside, secured to the mountain by ropes and pitons, they stared morosely out toward the southeast,wondering if there would be more quakes, more waves. To the east and south there nothing more thanstark blackness as far as the eye could see, relieved only by the molten silver footprints of moon and starson the midnight waters below. For long moments, no sounds but their own and the hiss and slap of water against rock broke the silence. Then Preis said to Martin, “You feel funny, the way I do?”“Funny? What sort of funny?”“I, I dunno, just . . . funny. You know.”“No, I
don’t 
know,” said Martin. He reached out a hand, placed it on his friend’s forehead. “That’sfunny – how were you feeling while we were climbing up here?”“Nothing in particular, I mean, I felt fine. Except for the way you feel when you’ve been climbing afucking mountain nearly a mile high. But I didn’t feel sick, if that’s what you mean. Why?”“You’re burning up.”“I – 
what 
?”“Your forehead’s hot as a bastard! You’re running a fever, m’ man. Hotter’n hell.”“Let me see,” Preis said, reaching up to touch his forehead. “It doesn’t feel hot to me.”

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