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Authors: Jonathan Maberry

Tags: #Speculative Fiction

Extinction Machine

BOOK: Extinction Machine
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The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you for your personal use only. You may not make this e-book publicly available in any way.
Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at:
us.macmillanusa.com/piracy
.

 

 

 

This one is for Geoff, Donna, and Brandon Strauss.

And, as always, for Sara Jo.

 

Acknowledgments

 

Thanks to Bill Birnes, publisher of
UFO Magazine
; Stanton Friedman; Richard Dolan; Peter Robbins; George Noory, host of
Coast to Coast AM
; Tom Danheiser; Jeff Strauss, national technical director for MUFON (Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network); Eunyoung Jo; Kyle S. Johnson; Ric Frane; Brian Bird; Bobby and Robin Cooper; Jared Frane; Hollie Johani Snider; Christina Kristofic; Suzanne Robb; Michael Sicilia of California Homeland Security; Nancy Keim-Comley; and Sam West-Mensch.

And, of course, my literary agents, Sara Crowe and Harvey Klinger; all the good folks at St. Martin’s Griffin: Michael Homler, Joe Goldschein, Rob Grom; and my film agent, Jon Cassir of Creative Artists Agency.

 

Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Part One: Conspiracy Theories

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Interlude One

Part Two: Taken

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Part Three: The Majestic Black Book

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Interlude Two

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-one

Chapter Forty-two

Chapter Forty-three

Chapter Forty-four

Interlude Three

Part Four: The Closers

Chapter Forty-five

Chapter Forty-six

Chapter Forty-seven

Chapter Forty-eight

Interlude Four

Chapter Forty-nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-one

Chapter Fifty-two

Chapter Fifty-three

Chapter Fifty-four

Chapter Fifty-five

Chapter Fifty-six

Chapter Fifty-seven

Interlude Five

Chapter Fifty-eight

Chapter Fifty-nine

Chapter Sixty

Chapter Sixty-one

Chapter Sixty-two

Chapter Sixty-three

Chapter Sixty-four

Chapter Sixty-five

Chapter Sixty-six

Chapter Sixty-seven

Chapter Sixty-eight

Chapter Sixty-nine

Chapter Seventy

Chapter Seventy-one

Chapter Seventy-two

Chapter Seventy-three

Chapter Seventy-four

Chapter Seventy-five

Chapter Seventy-six

Chapter Seventy-seven

Chapter Seventy-eight

Chapter Seventy-nine

Chapter Eighty

Chapter Eighty-one

Chapter Eighty-two

Chapter Eighty-three

Chapter Eighty-four

Chapter Eighty-five

Chapter Eighty-six

Part Five: The Truman Engine

Chapter Eighty-seven

Chapter Eighty-eight

Chapter Eighty-nine

Chapter Ninety

Chapter Ninety-one

Chapter Ninety-two

Chapter Ninety-three

Chapter Ninety-four

Chapter Ninety-five

Chapter Ninety-six

Chapter Ninety-seven

Chapter Ninety-eight

Chapter Ninety-nine

Chapter One Hundred

Chapter One Hundred One

Chapter One Hundred Two

Chapter One Hundred Three

Part Six: Terminal Velocity

Chapter One Hundred Four

Chapter One Hundred Five

Chapter One Hundred Six

Chapter One Hundred Seven

Chapter One Hundred Eight

Chapter One Hundred Nine

Chapter One Hundred Ten

Chapter One Hundred Eleven

Chapter One Hundred Twelve

Chapter One Hundred Thirteen

Chapter One Hundred Fourteen

Chapter One Hundred Fifteen

Chapter One Hundred Sixteen

Chapter One Hundred Seventeen

Chapter One Hundred Eighteen

Chapter One Hundred Nineteen

Chapter One Hundred Twenty

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-one

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-two

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-three

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-four

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-five

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-six

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-seven

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-eight

Epilogue

 

Also by Jonathan Maberry

About the Author

Copyright

 

Part One

Conspiracy Theories

The U.S. must carry out some act somewhere in the world which shows its determination to continue to be a world power.

—HENRY KISSINGER,
as quoted in
The Washington Post
, April 1975

The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.

—J. EDGAR HOOVER

 

Chapter One

The word “impossible” used to mean something. It was a line that couldn’t be crossed. It was the outer edge of the safe zone.

I can’t find that line anymore.

 

Chapter Two

Shelton Aeronautics
Wolf Trap, Virginia
Thursday, October 17, 10:36 a.m.

It started with a door knock.

It was the last time it would be knuckles on wood. Next time I’d pound with my fist.

“Nobody’s home,” said Bunny. Not for the first time.

“Parking lot’s full of cars,” said Top.

“They’re here,” I grumbled.

Master Sergeant Harvey “Bunny” Rabbit popped his chewing gum. “Then how come they’re not answering the door?”

I gave him a withering stare. He’s six seven, so I had to look up to do it. “Do I look like Carnac the Magnificent?”

“Who?”

“Cap’n’s telling you that he’s not psychic, Farmboy,” said Top. Full name was First Sergeant Bradley Sims. He currently held my old spot as leader of Echo Team. “And I believe he’s saying something to the effect that if you keep telling him no one’s here he’s going to kneecap you.”

“Words to that effect,” I said.

I knocked again. Louder. With the side of my fist.

This was not how I planned to spend my vacation. Sure, I love my country and yes I would die to protect her … but this was my first vacation since dinosaurs ruled the earth.

I had today planned out, too. It was a very well-constructed plan, starting with lots of sleep, followed by the kind of diner breakfast that would keep my arteries nice and hard. Then take Ghost, my white shepherd, for a long walk in the park where he would help me appear irresistible to pretty women. Then I’d catch the first part of an Orioles doubleheader in the afternoon, ideally to see them make the Phillies weep and gnash their teeth. Then back to planning the greatest bachelor party in the history of personal excess.

My best friend and occasional shrink, Rudy Sanchez, was getting hitched in two months. His fiancée, Circe O’Tree, was away on a book tour, and Saturday night was the party. I already had Sunday set aside for whatever was required after the party: medical attention, psychological counseling, or bail hearings.

Instead, where was I at ten in the morning on a glorious Thursday?

Stuffed into a suit, not flirting with girls in the park, standing outside of Shelton Aeronautics with Top and Bunny who were every bit as disgruntled as I was.

And nobody was answering the goddamn door.

We were out on one of those busybody projects that are often immense time wasters. We were out doing legwork to try and track down some cyber-terrorists. Yeah, I know—that battlefield is online so why were first-team shooters knocking on doors?

Like everything else in my life, it’s complicated.

The short version is that over the last few months there have been some significant attacks on the computer systems of several of the most important defense contractors. These were all private corporations who used intranet rather than the Internet for all the important stuff, so Web access to their research records was supposed to be impossible.

Well, virtually impossible.
We
could do it. By “we” I mean my team, the Department of Military Sciences. The DMS has the MindReader computer system and MindReader is to other computers what Superman is to the spandex crowd. MindReader can intrude into any other system, read and copy its data, and exit without a trace. Its superintrusion software package is unique and it rewrites the target system’s software to erase all tracks. Other invader systems leave some kind of detectable scarring, no matter how subtle. MindReader doesn’t.

The attacks began small. Some cute little viruses that were more nuisance than threat. Like jabs a boxer throws when he’s trying to get the measure of his opponent’s timing and reflexes. You’re not really trying to score with the jab, but by learning how the opponent reacts you set yourself for the hard right.

The hard right came around the first of the month.

Someone hacked the security computers at a Lockheed Martin plant in New Jersey and accessed the fire control system. The virus told the system there was a major fire in the labs and that tripped the halon fire retardant. Without a single warning bell, the security doors autolocked and massive white clouds of toxic gas began jetting into the labs. The fully staffed labs. Thirty-eight people wound up in the hospital.

Two days later a missile in a test silo in Kansas tried to launch itself. Luckily the warhead was a dummy and there was only residual fuel in the tanks, so the damage was minor. The implications, however, sent shock waves throughout the Department of Defense and Homeland.

The attacks escalated. A tapeworm tunneled through the mainframe at an Aurora Flight Sciences plant at the Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, destroying all files associated with a new unmanned aerial vehicle, and then self-deleted. Sure, there were backups to all the files concerned with the UAV, but there was a scramble to pull them off any hard drive even remotely attached to an Internet connection.

The big play had been the triggering of an autodestruct protocol at a testing facility in Poker Flat, Alaska. The autodestruct wasn’t something as dramatic as a nuclear core going into the red zone. There was no automated female voice warning everyone to get to minimum safe distance. Nothing like that. This was a small series of thermite charges connected to the mainframes of the lab’s supercomputers. In the case of a physical intrusion, the crucial information was supposed to be flash transmitted to a satellite uplink right before the charges blew. Only it happened the other way around—the charges blew without warning and without uploading the files. The price tag was eleven million. Supercomputers ain’t cheap.

So, the industrialists called their contacts on the congressional oversight committee, who called the brass at the DoD, who called the president, who called my boss who pulled me in despite my being on vacation. Suddenly I was attached to the Cyber Crimes Task Force.

BOOK: Extinction Machine
3.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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