Read Stormhaven Rising (Atlas and the Winds Book 1) Online
Authors: Eric Michael Craig
Tags: #scifi action, #scifi drama, #lunar colony, #global disaster threat, #asteroid impact mitigation strategy, #scifi apocalyptic, #asteroid, #government response to impact threat, #political science fiction, #technological science fiction
Copyright © 2016 Eric Michael Craig
All rights reserved. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author and publisher.
Chapter One: The Executioner Comes
Chapter Three: Bouncing a Reality Check
Chapter Four: From Chaos to the Dancing Star
Chapter Five: A Rock and a Slick Place
Chapter Six: More Questions than Answers
Chapter Seven: The Stone Walls and a Declining Empire
Chapter Eight: Dancing in Pandora’s Box
Chapter Nine: Thunder on the Wind
Chapter Ten: Roll Out the Barrels
Chapter Eleven: Between the Lines
Chapter Thirteen: Kryptonite and Ugly Plan-B
Chapter Fourteen: Deframe Work
Chapter Fifteen: Flight of Liberty
Chapter Sixteen: Changing Fates
Chapter Seventeen: Looking for Trouble
Chapter Eighteen: The Smoke and Mirrors of Reality
Chapter Nineteen: Stormhaven Rising
Chapter Twenty-One: The Dawn of Opportunity
Chapter Twenty-Two: An Elephant Enters the Room
Chapter Twenty-Three: The Storm Approaches
Chapter Twenty-Four: Kicking the Elephant
Chapter Twenty-Five: Foundations of Sand
Chapter Twenty-Seven: To Say Goodnight, Darkly
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Shattered by the Winds
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Changing the Balance
Chapter Thirty: A Shifting Sense of Reality
Chapter Thirty-One: Bending the Line
Chapter Thirty-Two: Some Days You’re the Bug
Chapter Thirty-Three: Determinacy Within the Box
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Dragon Awakes
Chapter Thirty-Five: A Near Miss and a Long Shot
Chapter Thirty-Six: Changing the Game Again
Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Mighty Will Fall
Chapter Thirty-Eight: The Tyranny of Time
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Coming Out of the Box
Chapter Forty-One: Reversing the Wind
Chapter Forty-Two: All the Cards
Chapter Forty-Three: Inevitable Consequences
Chapter Forty-Four: Exhibiting Insufficient Reluctance
Chapter Forty-Five: Introducing the Demons
Chapter Forty-Six: Fire, Dust and Hope
This novel is dedicated to the memories of two men who shaped my life. They both showed me, in different ways, the importance of believing in, and more importantly, following my dreams.
To Richard Craig; my father, a pragmatist and dreamer. He was the man who taught me to look up and see more than simply the stars.
To G. Harry Stine; my mentor, a writer and scientist, and the man who showed me that even though the world wasn’t always fair to those with vision, it was always worth the fight to keep a dream alive.
Dream well, I miss you both.
Over the horizon it came. A malevolent plague of locust. Fiery orange cinders of molten glass, cascading down from the edge of space in a torrential wave. Searing the landscape even before their arrival.
He stood on the summit of a mountain watching the sky split in two by the sheer force of the wind. A swirling ridge of clouds shredded upwards on an invisible wall of air a hundred miles high, the sun itself reflecting off the surface of the wave, so intense was its compression. Shimmering beneath the flaming waterfall, the sky retreated from beyond the edge of the world, until it rushed high overhead at an impossible speed.
Below the ridge of the wind, darkness sliced through the bright morning. A shadow of smoke two-hundred-thousand feet thick. An impenetrable, inky blackness, spreading like cancer beneath the alien sky.
Nightfall for the entire world.
Listening for the sounds of the approaching storm, he heard nothing, an eerie thick emptiness that sucked even his will to scream. Gasping in an effort to bring forth a voice, he knew it was pointless, so instead he watched. In silence.
The locust descended. The ground shook. The wind tore the flesh from his bone. And the smoke ate away at his eyes until it robbed him of his vision.
The wheelwork of the universe spins ever onward, relentlessly pressing forward in a dark and lonely dance of colliding destinies. Inevitability leads us to understand that sooner or later the Earth will find itself pinched in the machinery of fate.”
Colton Taylor, 21 July, 2022
Congressional Hearings regarding the Cancellation of Project Spaceguard
The Executioner Comes
Kitt Peak National Observatory:
“You know they’re going to bury this?” Danielle Cavanaugh asked, without turning to look at the man who’d walked up beside her.
“Probably,” he agreed. Lighting a cigarette, Carter Anthony drew in the smoke and coughed. “Figured I’d need one of these damn things.” He chuckled, crushing it on the gravel.
“That’ll kill you,” she said, shaking her head.
Staring at the eastern horizon, she watched an invisible destiny rising from the distant desert floor. Behind her, the binocular telescope spun in its housing, taking aim at the approaching executioner.
He shrugged, listening to the motors cranking the doors open so the giant eye could peer into the darkness.
“You really don’t think they can do anything, do you?” she said, turning to face the astronomer and wishing for a little more light so she could make out his expression.
“Come on Dani.” Sarcasm dripped in his voice. “We’ve spent three years talking about this. Science is one thing, but who the hell knows about the politics.”
“At least Washington’s not our only option,” Danielle said. “If it was, we’d have been out of business a long time ago.”
He reached out, finding her hand in the dark to place a microdisk in her palm. “Like it or not, this was decided a long time ago.”
“But Carter—“ she started, listening to him walk away.
“No arguments,” he said. “ We have to split up. I’ll take it through channels, but you’ve got to make sure something gets done with that.” He pulled the control room door closed, sealing them into different realities with a resounding thud.
The small disk in her palm felt heavy. Heavier than anything she’d ever carried.
Colton stared at the ceiling, torn from sleep yet again. He sat in the near dark, silhouettes of objects in his room defined only by the illumination of his console, yet not calling for the lights until his shaking had passed. Usually the terror would fade, but this morning it hung like a gossamer net, unwilling to be swept aside.
“Excuse me, Mr. Taylor,” the feminine voice of MICA intruded on his thoughts.
“Yes?” he said, his throat feeling like sandpaper scratching glass.
“Dr. Cavanaugh is holding online,” it said.
“Really?” he asked. Sitting upright, he tried to clear the fog that hung around him. Reality surged into focus, replacing the distorted awareness of his nightmare.
“Yes,” the computer answered. “The background sounds indicate that she is driving at a high rate of speed. I have encrypted the call."
“Cut her in,” he said, swinging his feet off the pedestal and grabbing a thermocup of coffee. Being a chronic insomniac, keeping coffee on his nightstand was normal in his world.
The sound of the connection came up on the speakers, engine noise and howling rubber wailing in the background. “Cole here,” he said.
“We need to have an eyeball-meeting.” The tension in Danielle’s voice rolled out of the speakers like a solid wall.
“What’s up?” he said, acid starting to eat its way out of the pit of his stomach. There was only one reason the astronomer would be calling him in the middle of the night.
“I need a lift,” she said. “We’ve got a real one.”
He shook his head, chasing the last of the confusion from his mind. “You’re sure?”
“Absolutely.” A sudden change in the road noise reinforced the idea that she was flying low. “Arecibo verified it a few hours ago. I need to get you a disk. Where do we meet?” she asked.
“Is Dr. Anthony with you?” Colton headed to the shower. Sensing his movement, his house system brought the lights up. Mica switched the call to the speakers in the bathroom.
“Someone has to take this up channels.” There was a strange sadness in her voice, as she added, “Carter’s trying to buy us some time.”
“How long have we got?” Cole asked, closing his eyes and saying a fast prayer.
“A day, maybe two,” she said.
“Before it hits?” Colton choked, shock freezing him in place.
“Oh, sorry. I thought you meant before the government clamps a lid on it,” she said. “Just under two years before it gets here, but that isn’t much better.”