The teleprinter suddenly awoke, and they froze. They looked at each other, two pale faces like mirror images. One opened the safe, the other walked, not ran, to the comms station.
– Open the envelope marked OMEGA WILLOW, authorization sequence follows: oscar, two, kilo, hotel, three, juliet, juliet, delta, four, seven. Confirm.
– Confirming authorization sequence: oscar, two, kilo, hotel, three, juliet, juliet, delta, four, seven.
They both moved to the consoles and started the OMEGA WILLOW checklist, focusing on the set-check-response cadence, trying not to think about the other silos all over the country, other soldiers at the identical consoles, going through the same motions.
– Grid is armed. Execute on my mark.
Keys into sockets.
– Three. Two. One. Mark.
Turn ninety degrees right. End of the world.
In the middle of the night, all across the continental United States the interstate highways flashed white, once, twice, then a steady bright light. The suddenly disoriented drivers lost control of their vehicles, hundreds dying in the collisions, the rest of them few moments later, their souls ripped out. It was a terrible price to pay, but the alternative was worse.
The sky over the continent glowed, and the OMEGA WILLOW started its work.