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How to set off a chain reaction

Advanced Test Reactor core, Idaho National Laboratory
**** Our evil deeds often need as much amplification as they can bear, the better to make our personal malevolence known far and wide, and there is no better mechanism for this in nature than that of the chain reaction. Instead of carefully cooking your plot up at the perfect temperature and pressure, worried that some poorly controlled variable might end up transform your monstrous bit of genius into an uninspiring bit of rubbish, the chain reaction takes the stored potentiality in your reagents and transforms that into terrifying actuality. Ideally, every last scrap of what you have prepared ends up in the resulting fireball or miasma or regime, locked into its new configuration irreversibly, all within the blink of a red-lidded eye. Here are some tips that will help get your piece of work launched and, ultimately, noticed, by your rivals, your enemies, and above all your victims.

*Evil plotpoints

  1. Assembling the raw materials. This is both the most tedious part of the process and the most exacting, as you pile up whatever it is that will be reacting with itself in sufficient quantity to bring about the desired effect, at the same time not causing that thing to happen just yet. Frequently the tolerances required and the purity of reactants needed push the technological limits of your manufacturing processes, particularly in times of turmoil when many of your good intentions are apt to slide.
  2. The initiator. This is the volatile little bit which gets things rolling at the outset. It has to be active enough to goose the bulk reactant into a self-sustaining reaction, but not so active that it gets used up ahead of time or sets events in motion at a time not of one's choosing.
  3. Setting things in motion. Evil supervillains with a respect for tradition will appreciate the value of a grand gesture to kick things off: a box plunger in the top, a large knife switch, or even a large red button. Put this in the dead center of a futuristic command center with appropriate mood lighting. Typing a command on a keyboard or pulling a starter cord, while they may accomplish the same result technically, send the wrong kind of message by their non-iconic nature.
  4. Stand back. As the chain reaction proceeds toward completion expect to find a large release of energy in a confined space, with all the side effects that would result from this. A reinforced blast shelter that you can trust is good, but a prudent separation distance made possible by teleoperated actuation mechanisms is even better.

Nuke 3

! Strokes of genius

  • A practice run. Impurities in the reagents, misfiring primers, and insufficient mixing can all lead to spotty behavior even when the basic concept is sound. It is far better to discover these problems of implementation on the test range than in live action. You may wish to invest in ultra high security in order not to tip off your target what may lay in store for them down the road, or you may wish to go the meta route by making the test widely public to serve as a deterrent.
  • Social occasions. Nothing is worse than a stiff, formal party where everyone goes around with those faces showing that they would really rather be somewhere else. What better way to inject a little excitement into the proceedings than by setting off a low yield device somewhere in the vicinity? Especially if you have an alibi.
  • Taking out the trash. Once the chain reaction has gone to completion, there is sometimes the issue of what to do with the daughter products produced in the process, assuming they have not already dispersed themselves in a fine monomolecular rain. The good news is that this is considered by many to be the best part of the whole experience, yielding a rich trove of materials one would be hard pressed to obtain any other way. Some of these precious by-products have a shelf life measured in only minutes, so it is best to arrange to have some agent of yours swoop in quickly to extract them as soon as the environment cools down sufficiently.

!! Traps for mere fools

  • Duds and misfires. Whether caused by stale raw materials, sloppy hookups, inclement weather, psychological unsuitability, or planetary damping fields, these can turn your wild celebratory extravaganza into a megabummer of an event in no time at all. It may be wise to set up two chain reactions ready to take off, in case the first one
  • Overkill. The other extreme can prove to be a problem if your safe stand-off distance turns out to be not quite enough to protect yourself and your friendly forces. The devilish thing with chain reactions is frequently that a slight variation in the starting conditions can prove to make a vast difference in the yield you get in the end, and so it pays to be just a little bit obsessive about these things, even if it is not precisely in one’s nature.
  • Sabotage. Those big booms which go off not in the midst of your adversary’s bedroom but instead at the threshold of your lair are almost invariably caused by the hand of an insider who wants to show off at your expense. Some mad scientists guard against this by liquidating the original project team partway through the project and bringing in an independent group of minions to bring the thing to completion, freshly mindful of the penalties that would go along with failure.
  • Missing your photo op. Sometimes there’s only one chance, which would be a real pity to botch because of a slight hesitation on the shutter release or the accidental immolation of the photo rig.

Transuranium

+ Precious and needful

  • Binoculars. 
  • Buckets of water.
  • Rat traps.
  • Caution tape.
  • Goggles.
  • Neutron-resistant underwear.


Further plotting



Created by: MACERATOR. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of September, 2011 06:30:27 EDT by MACERATOR.

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