<Snippet from Chapter One>
Whoever is in my office has some explaining to do.
She collected her thoughts before entering. She felt nervous. Her thoughts were racing. Someone, she was too preoccupied to notice who, slipped a bottle of cold water into her hand. She rubbed it over her clammy face.
As she entered her office, the gruff voice that spoke to her startled her, even though she knew someone was there.
The man’s voice ordered her, “Shut the door, Captain.”
She looked over at her bookcase where she displayed various plaques, awards, and the occasional book and saw a U.S. Navy Captain.
She immediately saluted him and said, “Captain Phillips, reporting as ordered, Sir.”
The man said, “At ease, Captain Phillips.”
Gina, knowing a Navy Captain equaled an Army Colonel, realized this alert had just reached a whole new level of scary. Gina felt like she might become ill.
“I am Captain Ronald Greene. I have orders for your unit.”
Having a hard time speaking through her tight jaw muscles and tumbling stomach, asked before thinking, “why not just send them the usual way?”
He motioned for Gina to have a seat. “You may want to sit down for this,” he told her.
“Thank you, sir, I’d prefer to stand,” she replied, trying to look strong and competent.
Captain Greene looked into her eyes and nodded.
“I am hand delivering your orders, and those of many other units, because we can no longer rely on electronic communications. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, specifically the Space Weather Prediction Center, told us about some unusual solar activity which started yesterday morning. To be candid, we’d stopped doing much of anything about these notices because NOAA gives us three or four of them each year.”
Gina nodded, her unease increased.
I should have taken a seat.
Captain Greene continued, “Yesterday there were two small disruptions and extra static on the radio waves. Also, as you may have heard, some of the more sensitive scientific computers and most networks are offline or only sporadically available.”
“Okay Captain Greene, so you need bodies out there making people feel safe?” Gina asked, trying to appear normal.
“Yes and no Captain Phillips, I’m here because we’re going cross-branch to get these orders in the hands of our officers. We can’t rely on comms because they’re unreliable. We can’t have any misunderstandings right now. This may be the last new information we receive for a couple of days.
“Captain, what I’m going to tell you is for military ears only. NOAA tried to measure the magnitude of the blast with their ACE satellite, but they have been… unable to locate it. They contacted NASA and when NASA tried to reach the ACE satellite they discovered that ACE wasn’t off course or offline. It was gone.”
Gina looked over at her wastebasket next to her desk; she walked over toward her future vomit container as the Captain continued.
“Late this afternoon NOAA told the government that the outages we’ve experienced so far are nothing compared to the epic hell coming sometime tomorrow. Our experience with this storm so far is just a small preview of the main blast that NASA observed.”
Her mouth felt tight as her throat constricted, preparing to vomit.
Here it comes.
“We’ve lost contact with most of Asia already, Captain. Civilians have noticed and they are asking questions. Our last reports from the East were of widespread panic and riots that decimated the major cities in Russia, China and most of Europe.
“This seemed uncharacteristic to us so we reached out to NOAA and explained what we’d learned. They updated their report and now believe the Earth’s atmosphere will dampen the radiation levels, preventing them from being lethal. But… the inevitable electromagnetic burst has the potential to destroy every single electronic device man has ever created.”