Published by: 47North
Release Date: May 26, 2015
The Only Thing Worse Than a World Destroyed is One Enslaved by a Madman
Ruthless cyberhackers seize a US nuclear submarine, training its most powerful weapon on a target so unusual, yet so vulnerable, that a successful strike could change the face of the earth for millions of years.
With the world held hostage, former NSA operative Lana Elkins must join forces with a mysterious computer mastermind—who might be working with the enemy—to try to avert this unprecedented Armageddon. Intrigue, power, and blackmail force Lana to fight on all fronts—land, sea, air, and in cyberspace—as she tries to prevent the worst catastrophe in human history.
The author of Lethal Code returns with a new geopolitical thriller that combines cyberterror, environmental devastation, nuclear missiles—and unhinged ambition.
“Trident Code is a powerful and nerve tingling tale, and its authenticity is right up there with Tom Clancy. Waite gives us brilliant storytelling and a real winner of a book.”
—Vice Admiral N.R. Thunman, U.S. Navy (retired) and former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Submarine Warfare
“Trident Code is scary good. The science and technology are as convincing as they are chilling, with an original trifecta of cyber, nuclear, and environmental terrorism all worked into one wild ride of a plot. And hoo boy, you’ll love to hate Oleg the Russian mastermind, who is cleverly creepy and unforgettable. Thomas Waite has big ambitions—and delivers on them.”
—Dale Dauten, King Features Syndicated Columnist
“Thomas Waite not only writes a searing story, but unlike too many technothriller authors, he cares about getting the little details right.”
—Roger A. Grimes, author and twenty-five-year computer security consultant
"Waite does a bang-up job of building an exhilarating, wholly believable story by blending kinetic warfare—the traditional blood and guts kind—and cyberwar. And he let's you see it all through the eyes of characters who feel as real as their expertise. Cyber security is my field, and this tale is a thrill ride of a cyber storm.”
—Benjamin Johnson, Chief Security Strategist, Bit9 + Carbon Black
Jensen made his exit and Lana turned to the icebreakers and cable-laying ship on one of her screens, hulls and decks gray as those great northern waters. She was giving herself the freedom to simply think about the goings-on in the Arctic, how fraught such a frigid region had become, when Holmes directed her to join an urgent secure video teleconference, SCVT, with him and the chief of Naval Operations, along with two of the admiral’s top-ranking Pentagon aides.
This can’t be about those ships, she told herself, not with Admiral Roger Deming on-screen. She was right. The concerns were much deeper and closer to home: The U.S.S. Delphin, a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarine, had been taken over thirteen minutes ago.
Admiral Deming leaned forward to talk, an old warrior’s phantom-limb response to an absent microphone. “We didn’t believe it was even possible for an enemy to do this. They must have some help onboard. A sub cannot be taken control of remotely.”
“Is there any communication with the command staff?” Lana asked.
“None,” Deming replied. “All contact is shut down. And they’ve got twenty-four Trident IIs, most with multiple warheads.”
“So how is this even possible?” Lana asked.
“That,” Holmes replied, “is what we need to find out.”
Lana’s video hookup showed not only her counterparts in Washington, but also the South Atlantic off the coast of Argentina. A crosshair indicated the sub’s location.
Holmes, white hair combed straight back—looking exactly the same as when she had first met him more than fifteen years ago—said the sub was the nation’s highest priority. “The President has been alerted and command posts worldwide are fully activated. We have destroyers on their way down there.”
“I understand,” Lana said. “Is there anything else you can tell—” She was silenced by the abrupt appearance on-screen of the sub’s interior. Now she saw why: it had surfaced and was also visible on the split screen. The hackers had taken control of the ship’s cameras in the control and attack centers. Sailors were staggering, clutching their throats, and falling to the floor.
“Jesus Christ,” Deming said, jumping out of his chair.
“What’s going on?” Lana said, staring in horror as sailors appeared to be dying right before her eyes, just seconds after the video had come alive. They were staggering, vomiting, gasping for breath, and falling to the floor. Some were now going into convulsions.
“Poison,” Deming said, still standing. “They’re poisoned.”
“Good God,” Holmes replied. “Isn’t there emergency oxygen?”
“Of course,” Deming said sharply. “But this is happening so fast nobody has a chance to grab it, and it might not do them any good anyway because oxygen isn’t always an antidote for poison.”
Sailors kept dropping to the sub floor. All appeared to be in their death throes. It was the most ghastly sight Lana had ever seen.
And then the video ended as the sub dived back down, as if to suggest the men and women were headed to a watery grave, leaving a shadow of terror on the faces of Admiral Deming and Bob Holmes.
If she could have seen herself then, Lana would have noticed a familiar look on her own face: fear mingled with fierceness. Her jaw was tight, shiny black hair pulled behind her ears, clear blue eyes staring nakedly at the blank screen. And if she’d lowered her gaze a mite more, she would have seen her fingers flying across the keyboard, trying desperately to find her way into the deeply veiled and violent world of digital terrorism.
* * *
Moscow, so old and so new. And so beautiful. Onion domes and brand-new skyscrapers. Gorgeous cars, like Oleg’s Maserati. Purring like a pussycat as he drove from the heart of the city. Exciting like Pussy Riot punk rock. Like Galina when she took the money from him under the table.
He passed his favorite onion domes of all, the ones with so many colors they looked like frozen yogurt swirls at Creamery Dreamery. Thank you, crazy Orthodox Church. I pray to Virgin, too. But I promise you, Vladimir, not like Pussy Riot.
Could a country be any greater than the new Russia, with its venerable traditions and history? No, not possible. That was what most of Oleg’s friends would have said. His father, Papa Plutocrat, would have shaken his head very slowly, looking very wise, or so PP would have thought, and said that it was true, he and his friends—crony capitalists all—brought Russia to its apogee. Yes, “apogee,” because a wise man would use such a word, and PP had an English-language word-a-day calendar in his private bathroom so he could sound wise and say those three syllables—ap-o-gee—like he was blessing them under an onion dome.
But Oleg knew better. Russia was not so great as it would soon become. In just days. Because he would generate the greatest wealth the world had ever known. So much money his fellow citizens would have untold rubles showering down on them.
He smiled at himself in the Maserati’s rearview mirror. Everything was falling into place. Engineers had reassembled the professor’s prototype, and when they turned it on and saw it sucking those heat-absorbing molecules out of the air in vast quantities, their tongues hung out. And so they had to be killed. Just a joke! Oleg laughed to himself. No, but they did have to be properly rewarded and left in isolated wonder. But better than death.
The days of fossil-fuel haters would soon be over. Conservation was never much fun anyway. Burn all the fuel you want. Drive a Maserati—as fast as you want. AAC will suck out the carbon and combine it with hydrogen and we’ll have—Voilà!—hydrocarbons. More gas. More oil. More money!
I could tell you that I came up with the idea for Trident Code while at a seminar on climate change held by the Union of Concerned Scientists. But I’d be lying.
The truth is I owe the genesis to the startling news last year that a large section of the mighty West Antarctica Ice Sheet was falling apart—and had passed the point of no return. I’d love to say I read about this in the science journal Nature, but that would also be a lie. The WAIS was such big news that I saw it on TV, replete with NASA animation as gripping as any twisted tale from the mind of Stephen King. Our world wouldn’t be flooded overnight, but scientists were saying we’d basically screwed our offspring—or at least our offspring’s offspring. Some were predicting that sea levels would rise 16 feet—in 200 years.
But what if you could make that happen sooner? Much sooner?
It struck me that no terrorist act, not even a nuclear bomb set off in New York City, could so unalterably change the Earth—if you could make this happen. From a plot standpoint, that “if” could be gold.
With the idea of rapid sea level rise, I started looking at what countries might fare relatively well if the oceans rose, say, three feet. Russia stood out. That seized my attention—along with an idea for a brazenly new Russian villain. I was bored with the old ones, even Putin, who was all over the news for invading and seizing Crimea, for meddling in the Ukraine, and for his macho, shirtless horseback riding. But Putin was so yesterday, so Cold War. I write cyberthrillers. I needed a Code War villain. That was how Oleg Dernov was born. But Oleg was a pushy guy and ended up assuming a far greater role than I’d originally envisioned. With his inimical voice, I had no choice but to agree to his demands.
I had two kinds of terrorism for this novel—cyber and environmental. But the trifecta is always the big winner. So what could trigger the rapid rise of the oceans? The answer was a nuclear submarine equipped with Trident II missiles. Do some hacking, hijack the sub, shave off part of the WAIS to raise sea levels to just the right level—and work them all into an evil plot by a devilishly fresh Russian rogue. I had my story.
I began by writing a detailed synopsis. Then I turned to primary and secondary research. While you can garner great information off the Internet and by reading select books and articles, nothing beats talking to experts. As my acknowledgements attest, I consulted with CEOs of major cybersecurity firms; former and current senior government officials, such as the head of the FBI’s Cyberterrorism Unit; and military experts, including a retired Admiral and former Vice President of the Chiefs of Staff. Their assistance was invaluable. As for the novel itself, writing it was pure pleasure.