The U.S. government covertly excavates the wreckage of a mysterious ancient aircraft, uncovering a baffling assortment of artifacts. Half a world away, nuclear war rages in the Middle East, drawing the U.S. and Russia closer to global confrontation with each passing hour. One man discovers a secret in the wreckagea secret so powerful it could avert the impending worldwide catastrophe. To reveal the secret, however, he must not only place his own life on the line, but also the lives of his family...and there is no guarantee it will make any difference in the end.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.62(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The brilliant flash ripped open the night sky and exploded into the cockpit. Before the pilot could respond, a powerful shock wave slammed into the jetjerking her head forward and pitching the nose of her stricken aircraft steeply up beyond vertical.
Heart pounding, the pilot held the control wheel rigidly in place and tried desperately to orient herself. Only moments before she was busy configuring the small passenger jet for a routine night landing. Now she hung inverted from her seat harness, the screams of her passengers and the crashing sound of luggage and food trays banging against the cabin ceiling compounding her confusion. To make matters worse, her eyes were useless. The flash-induced image of white cockpit windows totally saturated her vision.
She pushed the distractions out of her mind and tried to focus on what the aircraft was telling her. From the harsh sound of the engines and the sluggish feel of the controls, she realized the jet was rapidly bleeding off speed. They were only seconds from a fatal stall. She had to rebuild airspeed and regain control of the aircraft The pilot's reaction was instinctive. She shoved the throttles forward and pulled back hard on the control wheel. The twin pulse-jet engines coughed erratically in response, protesting the turbulent airflow that swirled around their inlets as the plane fell backwards through the sky. Finally she felt a reassuring kick as the aircraft began accelerating and the engine noises smoothed to a low, droning roar.
The feel of her seat harness was changing. She now had the sensation that she was lying on her stomach, being hoisted up by the straps. The aircraft was in a vertical dive and rapidly gaining speed. A different concern now swept over her: was there enough altitude left to pull out?
As her vision began to recover, the pilot's first horrifying sight was a cluster of ground lights rushing up to meet her. She had only a few hundred feet left. Planting her feet firmly on the floor, she yanked the control wheel back hard into her chest trying frantically to coax the jet's nose up toward the horizon. Her efforts to rebuild airspeed were rewarded. The control surfaces bit solidly into the thick, low-altitude air and the resultant G forces pressed her firmly down into her seat.
The black night sky dropped slowly down from the top of her windshield like a curtain. She fought to bring the nose up to meet it, getting closer to the ground with each passing second. Just when she was certain that her efforts were in vain, the cluster of lights that had filled her windscreen only moments before went streaking past just a few dozen feet below her.
A sense of relief flooded over her. She had successfully completed the awkward loop that the shock wave initiated and her vision was fully restored. She held the jet in a shallow climb to regain precious altitude, still panting from her struggle with the wheel. She was in control again.
Then she caught sight of it. The hideous glowing mushroom cloud was billowing up only a few miles ahead of her. She responded by throwing her jet into a steep banking turn away from the flames, wishing she could get more power out of her already overtaxed engines. Behind her, the cries of her passengers grew louder. As they looked out the cabin windows, the passenger's horrified faces were lit by a giant fireball consuming the city that was to be their sanctuary.
The pilot completed her turn and rolled the wings level. She arched her back and shoved harder on throttles that were already firmly against their stops. She continued to push as the burning light slowly subsided behind herprogressing through a sequence of yellow, orange, and red colors before it extinguished itself completely. Her cockpit was again immersed in the cold blackness of the night sky. They had escaped the devastation. The pilot pulled back on the power and took stock of things. Her short red hair was soaked with sweat and her hand was indented and sore from straining against the throttles. The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from the nuclear blast had destroyed most of her flight instruments and the thickening smoke in the cockpit stung her eyes. Fuel was down to just a few hundred pounds. She had to get the jet down fastbut where? A cloud layer blotted out even the timid light of the quarter moon making it impossible to gauge the terrain down below. The only thing discernible out her cockpit windows was the faint gray line of the horizon.
Suddenly, another powerful blast flashed behind her. Her heart sank as the fireball's unholy brilliance clearly illuminated the groundacres and acres of trees!
She spotted it off to the right. The bright reflection of a small pond shone through the sea of foliage. She quickly made her decision. No matter how deep the water, she would rather risk drowning her passengers than the certain death of a crash landing in the forest.
The pilot rolled the aircraft almost completely inverted, pitching its nose downward into a right-hand turn to set up her final approach. Leveling the wings, she prayed that the grisly mushroom of light would sustain itself for just a few moments longer so she could judge her flare out. Her morbid luck held. She chopped the throttles and eased the jet down on the shiny surface just before the darkness engulfed them again. The jet bounced once and then began skipping across the black water. She pulled back hard on the wheel, fighting to keep the nose from submarining.
Her struggle with the wheel ended when the plane pounded into a muddy bank on the opposite end of the pond and ground to an abrupt halt just short of the tree line. The force of the impact sheared the port wing cleanly off the fuselage and triggered the automatic restraint system. More than a dozen airbags burst open around the passengers in the cabin and cushioned them from the impact. The pilot lifted her head from the deflated bag covering her control wheel and glanced back through the open doorway. The faces of her passengers glowed in the dim luminescence of the emergency lights. Their heads were up and moving. Incredibly, they all appeared uninjured.
Her relief was only momentary. The pungent smell of raw fuel pouring from the severed wing struck her. Bounding out of the cockpit, she kicked open the boarding door and yelled for her passengers to get clear of the aircraft. Seeing the pilot's urgency, the passengers came to life and crowded around the doorway. They jumped in rapid succession and landed with loud squishing sounds in the same warm muck that had dampened the jet's impact.
The passengers then fought their way toward the trees, taking lunging, sucking steps through the knee-deep mud. The pilot was the last one out of the aircraft, right behind a father and his adolescent son. As she labored through the muck, she felt the sprinkle of a light rain on her cheeks and forehead. Finally they were safe! She was greeted with hugs from the grateful passengers when she arrived at the trees.
Their elation was short-lived. To the pilot's horror, she now realized that it wasn't rain droplets she felt on her face. Instead, it was small pieces of ash… radioactive ash. They had landed downwind of the city…
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this WW III type tale. Great job with keeping me on the edge. Was nearly impossible to put down. Super creativity when creating the background premise but very believable. Don't miss this one!
Fun read, though scary premise. Grabs you from the first page and holds you breathless throughout. Dustin must be an insider to the military-tech scene. Lets have another! Move over Tom Clancy!
Stephen Dustin's first attempt at a full length novel produced a story that I just could not put down until I was done with it. This story of a mild mannered intelligence officer who can't but help save the world gripped me from the very start and never let go. I was intrigued by the detailed handling of all the security procedures that made me believe I was really learning something that was TOP SECRET!!! I was exhausted when I finished but thrilled to understand what might be the truth about where we all are from. I hope someone picks this up - you won't be dissapointed.
I was priviledged to have been able to read this novel right before it was sent to press. It was the first book dealing with War that I had ever read, and I enjoyed it tremendously. You will not want to put it down once you have began reading it. I read it in a couple of days; it is that good. I highly recommend it.