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PROLOGUE

 

 

Potentially the most important event in human history unfolded that day with lightning speed. Ironic given what followed, or more correctly, what didn’t.

Every nation on earth possessed of the technology to keep track of satellite traffic had picked up the arrival within minutes, if not seconds. It was literally too big to miss. You can see the International Space Station with your naked eye when it passes overhead just after sunset, and this thing, speaking conservatively, was at least a hundred times the size of the ISS. Even if every government aware of its existence had somehow come to an agreement to keep it secret from the public, amateur astronomers would soon have spotted it. The media, of course, would have been alerted. The general population was destined to know about the object—as it came to be known. That much was a foregone conclusion.

The puzzle initially was in explaining how the same surveillance technology that had so swiftly detected the new object in orbit had also failed to note any corresponding launch beforehand. Not that there was or had ever been a rocket that could heave that much mass into space in one shot. It would have taken dozens if not hundreds of separate Saturn V-sized boosters to do that, and then a considerable amount of time for subsequent assembly in space to follow. No, this thing wasn’t ours. Not any of ours.

The initial speculation that the object was a previously undetected asteroid, one which had miraculously obtained a stable earth orbit, lasted mere minutes before the first images from land based telescopes came in. They showed a perfect, apparently flawless sphere with a highly reflective surface. There was no natural explanation for it. That left a kind of information vacuum that human minds are not good with. It was, in short, a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.

The world’s financial markets reacted by collapsing spectacularly. Even defense stocks plummeted. The reasoning being that whoever made the object and presumably sent it out across interstellar space would be in possession of military technology that made our most advanced weaponry look like a stone axe. In fact all of our tech was instantly obsolete. The markets were quickly shut down, but not before Google was selling for pennies and the NASDAQ had crashed through the basement floor.

Two questions presented themselves immediately. What to do and who to do it? The military leadership of a number of countries had actually gamed the whole scenario out, and most had come to the same conclusion. If they were here with the intention of controlling the world and if the opportunity presented itself, the safest thing to do—according to the best available models—was to take their side. There was no question that anyone who could reach us could rule us if they so chose. The thing to do was to pattern yourself on Vichy France and hope that our overlords were benevolent and would need some help in administering the new world state. Cynical? Perhaps. But not totally unreasonable.

What no one had expected or planned for was what eventually happened. Nothing.

The object orbited in silence for the next seventeen plus years. All attempts to analyze it failed. What appeared at first like a metallic shell was something else altogether. What that something was no one could say. A kind of force field was how it came to be described. Not by scientists, though, because other than that it reflected all electromagnetic radiation and was physically impenetrable, nothing really was known about the object’s apparent surface, let alone what lay beneath.

And so life went on. The markets recovered. Here and there the embers of old wars flared into flame once again. Until the day came that the object finally reached out to us in a way that on one could ever have predicted.

It announced that it had come from God. Then it sent down the being who declared that he was here to save us.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

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