By Christopher Gray
The machine believed it knew best how to save humanity… even if doing so meant destroying half the population.
Astrophysicist Doug Lockwood’s unusual discovery during his observation of the sun kicks off a chain of events that nobody could have foreseen. The powerful political and military influences that compete to deal with his discovery set Lockwood on a course which will carry him across worlds, and into the grasp of a formidable new intelligence bent on accomplishing its goal at any cost. With Earth itself at stake and time running out, Lockwood and his team must find a way to counter this unprecedented threat before the powerful new enemy completes its plan. Two civilizations are pitted against each other in a desperate struggle for survival.
Meyer shut the door after the last person left and sat down in the nearest chair, directly across from Doug, rather than his usual spot at the head of the table. Doug waited for him to speak.
“It’s a planet,” Meyer said finally. “And it’s in an orbit directly opposite ours, at a distance of approximately one AU.”
Doug didn’t reply. The implications were massive, as were the questions. After a few seconds, Meyer rose from his seat and walked to the window, looking outside at the sloping volcanic Hawaiian landscape as he talked.
“Nobody knows where it came from, but it’s there, verified by NASA.”
“Using their STEREO satellites?”
“Yes, a few hours ago. But you and Foley at Atacama saw it first. STEREO was trained on another star when you logged the object. It took some time to reposition STEREO’s lenses. Because of their orbital distance ahead and behind us, together they will be able to keep tabs on the object at all times. We’re expecting some images soon, which will be free of the sun’s coronal interference.”
“So we’ll have a better view and can determine if its orbit is stable.”
“But that doesn’t explain how it got there.”
“Correct again. But thanks to your discovery, and your reputation, you’ve been invited to an emergency conference in Washington. You’ll be meeting your plane at Pearl Harbor in two hours. Don’t bother to pack, there’s a helicopter on its way here, courtesy of the White House Chief Science Advisor.”
“Increase buffer bandwidth to maximum,” Nick ordered his assistant, Anders.
“I already tried that, it makes no difference!” Anders replied, a trace of panic in his voice.
Nick turned to the astrophysicist that was monitoring the moon’s position.
“What will the orbit be if no action is taken?”
The astrophysicist looked at him, incredulous.
“I don’t need to tell you what the outcome will be.”
“Is there at least a chance it will settle into a stable orbit? The speed is right.”
“The angle is off by three degrees! If it isn’t corrected the moon will pass within seventy thousand kilometers of the Earth. That’s less than one-fifth of its normal distance!”
Nick stared blankly at his expert, not wishing to believe what he was being told. The astrophysicist shook his head.
“With the increased gravitational and tidal effect, there will be a massive world-wide earthquake, and that’s just the beginning. The orbit will be highly elliptical, and will degrade further. We’ll have bi-weekly earthquakes and tsunamis, much worse than we have ever experienced. There is an 80% chance that within four months the moon will collide with us!”
“We’ll all be dead long before the collision,” said Anders, his voice shaking. “We may not even survive when the moon makes its first pass, six days from now.”
Another assistant looked over at Nick.
“We’re getting the same report from our observatory in Arizona. They’ve noticed the angle and are asking questions. How do you want me to reply?”
Nick broke out into a cold sweat. He didn’t know what to do.
Bishop was wondering how long he could hold his position when he heard a noise behind him. He turned to see a floor plate rising. Two mechanical hands pushed up the plate from below, then tossed it aside. The RAKER used its powerful arms to quickly lever its bulk up from the floor beneath and climb out. Bishop stared at the RAKER, momentarily astonished at what he was seeing. He briefly considered shooting, but immediately realized his weapon would be next to useless against the armored android. The RAKER looked at Bishop and then deftly grabbed the pistol from his hand. Bishop, for all his training and experience, was startled. He had never seen anything that big move that fast. He just dropped his hands to his sides and took one step back. The RAKER ignored him and strode out into the corridor.
As soon as they saw the RAKER the tactical squad opened fire. The bullets were deflected off the androids advanced armor. It raised the handgun and fired expertly. Both soldiers fell to the floor, dead. The android picked up one of the assault rifles and tossed the Glock back along the floor to Bishop.
It is my pleasure to feature Christopher A. Gray, author of Dark Nights, on Room With Books.
Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?
I’d like to be Tony Stark! Who wouldn’t like to strap on a high-tech suit of armor and fly around the world fighting bad guys? Seriously though, it would be nice to have the resources and political clout to make a difference in the world.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on two projects, a sequel to Dark Nights (at the strong suggestion of my editor) and a thriller, which may use some of the same characters in my Dark Nights universe. I consider Dark Nights to be a thriller with some strong science fiction elements, and I’d like to maintain that wide appeal.
What do you think you’re really good at?
I have a good imagination so I’m good at putting stories into a consumer medium, be it books or film. I enjoy the creative process and working with others, which is why I gravitated towards acting. Writing is usually a solitary profession, but there are times where you work closely with editors, cover designers, and other professionals, so assembling a good support team is essential.
What do you think you’re really bad at?
Organization! I have a hard time keeping my paperwork straight, which is a bad thing since I’m self-employed and thus far have been doing my taxes myself. Maybe it’s time to hire an accountant.
Is your life anything like it was two years ago?
Two years ago I was still working downtown in finance as a project manager for a large bank. I left the commuter hustle and bustle behind to write, so my life is now very different. I still enjoy the excitement of downtown, and that’s where I meet my editor to go over current and new projects. Luckily I live in a neighborhood with a few good coffee shops nearby.
Thank you, Christopher, for a fun interview and for allowing Room With Books to be part of your tour!
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