The Nemesis Program (Ben Hope)

The Nemesis Program (Ben Hope) by Scott Mariani Read Free Book Online

Book: The Nemesis Program (Ben Hope) by Scott Mariani Read Free Book Online
Authors: Scott Mariani
small hand-held device called the electro-mechanical oscillator. Based on the same kind of principles, he used it to show that even a subtle vibration, at just the right frequency, could unleash a whole lot of power. I mean enormous, and almost instantaneously. Enough to, say, bring down a building. A house, even a skyscraper.’
    ‘Sounds more like a bomb to me.’
    ‘No explosives involved,’ she replied, shaking her head. ‘No noise or smoke, nothing chemical, just some basic mechanical moving parts powered by steam.’
    ‘ Steam? What kind of bollocks contraption is that?’
    ‘A very simple one. Basically a miniature piston engine, with a small on-board boiler heated by internal combustion. In those days, steam was the only power source that could produce enough energy to operate the mechanicals. The whole thing was supposed to have been about six, seven inches long. You could carry it in your pocket.’
    ‘And use it to bring down a building.’
    She nodded. ‘Sure.’
    ‘But it can’t split the Earth.’
    ‘Oh no, you’d need a bigger version to do that kind of damage.’
    ‘I would have hoped you’d do me more credit than to expect me to believe such utter bloody nonsense,’ he said. ‘I mean, come on.’
    ‘It really existed, Ben,’ Roberta insisted. ‘According to Tesla’s findings its theoretical potential was limitless.’
    Ben was losing patience. ‘Theoretical, as in, it’s never actually been done or proved. This is what your friend was into? And you think this is why someone killed her? To do with some pie-in-the-sky notion that you can vibrate a building to pieces with some daft Heath Robinson device?’ He waved his hand dismissively. ‘Listen, I spent years in the army learning how to blow stuff up. Nobody can do it as efficiently as we did. Millions are spent developing high-tech explosives and training people like me how to use them without getting themselves blasted to smithereens. And a lot of people have been killed or maimed in the process of gathering that expertise. Don’t you think that if there were an easier way, Special Forces units would’ve latched onto it by now? Vibrations and steam,’ he added with contempt. ‘Splitting the Earth. Next thing you’ll be telling me about science fiction death rays.’
    She blinked. ‘You knew about the Tesla death ray?’
    Ben could see she was being earnest. ‘Now this is really getting crazy.’
    ‘Check out the evidence,’ she protested. ‘This is historic fact.’
    Now Ben had run out of patience entirely. ‘Yeah, and “historic” is the key word here. It’s hardly the stuff that conspiracies are made of.’
    ‘You got one right here,’ she said fiercely. ‘You just can’t see it.’
    ‘What’s there to see?’ he said.
    ‘My friend’s body lying in the morgue, for a start.’
    Ben couldn’t argue with that. ‘Okay. I’m sorry.’
    ‘You’re sorry, but you think I’m full of shit.’
    He threw up his hands in frustration. ‘I don’t know, Roberta. You come to me saying you’re in trouble, then you start talking about all this stuff, which, frankly, sounds to me like a load of … what do you Americans call it? Hooey. Just like all that alchemical stuff you were fixated on before.’
    ‘It is not hooey,’ she said firmly.
    ‘I can see you sincerely believe that. But what am I supposed to make of it? What can I do?’
    She leaned close to him and replied, ‘Help me.’
    ‘What makes you think I even could?’
    ‘You’re Ben Hope. What more is there to say?’ She paused, looking entreatingly into his face. ‘You helped me once. It wasn’t so long ago. Won’t you help me again?’
    He didn’t reply.
    There was a long silence. The young mother had taken her child away from the swings and was holding his hand as they made their way along the tree-shaded footpath into the distance. The park was empty now, apart from just the two of them sitting on the bench.
    ‘I shouldn’t have come here,’

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