An unmanned alien ship suddenly appears from a point in space within the solar system and heads toward Earth. It finally comes to rest in the pasture of an ordinary couple's country home. Immediately upon going inside, they are placed in irrevocable, sole command by the ship's computer. How Dan and Stacy Saddler handle the enormous military, political and religious pressure of choosing a crew and taking the ship back through the enigmatic warp point makes this one of Darrell Bain's most exciting novels.
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Twilight Time Books
December 15, 2008
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Excerpt from Warp Point by Darrell Bain
"Wouldn't you know it? We build a place way out in the country to get away from the bustle of the cities and a damn space ship is going to land on top of us."
"Oh, Dan, be serious. That thing may be coming down in east Texas but it won't be anywhere near us. At least I hope not."
"Well, me, too. God knows what its intentions are. The thing is, other nations are sure to try to horn in on contact with it. If they aren't allowed access, we could very well have some pretty scary moments. It's not out of the realm of possibility for Russia or China, say, to send a missile armed with an a-bomb and destroy it outright if they can't have a piece of the pie."
Stacy shivered at the thought, but she agreed with her husband. It could happen. "Dan, just thinking about something like that happening is making me nervous."
"Me, too." Dan looked puzzled, then tensed his muscles "But I'm not shivering. That's a noise of some kind. Hear it?"
Stacy listened. "You're right. It is a noise."
They heard a faint buzzing sound that seemed to surround the house and penetrate the walls. The very air hummed, like vibrations being given off by a very large bee, one that was slowly coming nearer and nearer.
Dan got up and went to the front door. He looked outside but saw nothing unusual, even though the humming was louder than ever. Then he heard Stacy call. It sounded almost like a scream.
"Dan! Dan, come quick! It's in the back!"
He ran for the back door where Stacy was standing, holding it open and staring upward. He looked, and immediately spotted what had grabbed her attention. In the star speckled night sky, a bluish colored cylindrical-shaped object was slowly descending, making a loud humming noise that seemed to penetrate right to his bones. As it came closer, he could see how large it was, bigger than any airliner; at least as big as a cruise ship; no, even larger than that! And wingless. The huge cylinder shape was slightly tapered at both ends but more so at one than the other. "My God, that's the spaceship! It's coming down in our pasture!"
Of all the possibilities he had imagined when the spacecraft arrived, this one had never entered his mind. It was incredible, unimaginable. Like his wife, he stood paralyzed, watching as the giant craft came slowly down and settled onto the ground, lighting an area around it with its bluish glow. It crushed the two big pines that decorated the pasture beneath it as if they were matchsticks. The humming continued for a moment, then ceased, leaving a quietness, with the great object looming over them, the nearest part of it no more than thirty yards from their back porch. Somewhere a crow called to its flock. Their little miniature dachshunds, momentarily cowed as the spacecraft came to rest, now began barking shrilly at the intruder, telling it plainly that it had no business being on their territory.
"Dan...Dan, what should we do?"
He tried to think. Protection. He needed to protect Stacy. "Wait here," he said. He ran for the closet where he kept the only gun in the house, a nine shot .22 caliber revolver. He ran back to re-join his wife, strapping the holstered gun about his waist. Then he looked out at the giant ship and felt somewhat silly. What good would this little popgun do if it opened up and alien denizens came out with mayhem on their minds?
As if his thought had prompted the action, a circular entrance irised open on a direct line from them to the ship, almost like an invitation to enter.
Dan took a step forward then Stacy grabbed his arm. "Dan! You're not going to go inside that thing are you?"
"That's what it looks like it wants to happen. If I don't look inside I'll never forgive myself for the missed opportunity. The military will surely be here before very long and they'll seal it off. You can stay here. There's no sense in both of us taking the risk."
"Oh no you don't. If you're going inside that thing, I'm going with you."
"No. I'm not about to let you go alone. I might never see you again."
Dan dithered, not wanting to put Stacy in danger but unable to resist the lure of the opening into the alien craft. From a far distance, he heard the distinctive sound of helicopters and knew they had only a few minutes before the opportunity would be lost forever. He made the decision. "All right. Come on, but hurry. I hear helicopters."
They ran toward the ship. At the opening, Dan paused, holding Stacy back while he looked inside. He could see nothing but a short corridor that T-boned at another running at right angles across it in both directions. He took Stacy's hand with his left one, leaving his right hand free to pull his pistol if need be. They stepped inside and took several steps, then heard a soft swishing noise behind them. Dan turned to see what it was and found that the opening the opening had vanished, as if terminating contact with their former life. The corridor brightened from a hidden source of light, but it revealed no sign an entrance had ever been present. He looked helplessly at Stacey. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. God knows what I've got us into."
She felt his hand trembling in her own and knew it was concern for her much more than fear of the unknown that was causing it. She moved closer to him, until their bodies were touching, then looked up at him. "It's all right, Dan. You didn't twist my arm. Anyhow, maybe we can still get out. Let's go back and see."
* * *
"A hatchway opened briefly. The commander of the Foxfire quick reaction team says he saw two civilians enter, then the door closed behind them. Since then, there's been no activity at all and that was almost two hours ago," the Brigadier said to General Bines.
"Has the State Department kept the foreign powers apprised of developments?"
"Ms. Jenson assures me she has. She's also raising hell with the president about the way the military has sealed off the area."
"Some people don't use their common sense. If we hadn't sequestered the area, every person within a hundred miles would be right on top of the spaceship, banging on the outside and trying to saw off souvenirs." Binds stopped abruptly, realizing he was straying from the problem he should be concentrating on. "Send word to the president and our commanders that we're canceling the stand down of ground travel except for an area ten miles around the ship and that we're clearing civilians from the area as rapidly as possible. And you can tell Ms. Jenson we'll accept representatives from the State Department and the United Nations, but they'll have to be under command of the military for the immediate future. Maybe that'll satisfy her."
"Yes, sir. I'll get right on it."
To the Major General he said "Maintain contact with China, Russia and the other nuclear powers. Inform them that they can send observers, contingent upon the president's confirmation. And make damn sure that orders forbidding flyovers of the site are broadcast as widely as possible. No aircraft within thirty miles of the spaceship. No exceptions."
"Fine. Stay on it. I need to use my private line for a moment. Don't disturb me unless something breaks." He got up and stepped over to a tiny alcove reserved for his use when he needed to speak privately to others. He punched the president's number and was answered almost immediately. He began speaking bluntly, with no preliminary politeness. "Sir, I understand both Russia and China, as well as another of the smaller nuclear-armed nations are threatening to bomb the spaceship site if we don't open it to them immediately. You need to tell them that's the last thing they want to think of doing. We'll allow them access, but never under threats. Should any of them decide to target the site, warn them that it will result in massive retaliation, without mercy. You should take care of this yourself, sir. Don't let Ms. Jenson try it. She's a fine person but her thought processes aren't the type to be convincing in military situations. They wouldn't believe her but they will you, especially if you let them know the military backs you completely."
There was a hesitancy in the president's voice when he answered. "Is that absolutely necessary, General? Suppose they take that as a threat of war and decide to strike first?"
"They won't. The only ones I'm really worried about are the Mideastern nations where radicals control the government. You might suggest they can forget about ever seeing a greater Islamic confederation should they try anything. Tell them we won't leave a living thing above bedrock. They'll be gone and we'll still be around to oversee the decontamination."
"This is really playing hardball, General Binds. Congress may impeach me."
"Just don't let Congress get word of it, sir. I have to go now. You're doing well, Mr. President. Keep it up." He hung up the phone, thinking wryly that things had come to a poor pass when the best president the American people could elect had to be encouraged by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in order to stiffen his spine. However, he thought, it could have been worse. His opponent might have won the election, and in that event, the State Department would be fouling up the whole operation, as well as bringing in the U.N. to further complicate matters. When he returned to the Situation Room, there was a blinking light on his console, with the code designating an open line to General Hawkins waiting on him.
He picked up the phone. "What is it, Chet?"
"Sir, we've got the specs on the owner of the place where the ship came down. It's a private ranch, five hundred acres, but inactive so far as stock is concerned. As a matter of fact, it belongs to friends of mine, Daniel Saddler and his wife, Stacy. They're good people and shouldn't cause us any grief."
"Be damned. Small world, isn't it? I'll let you talk to him if the damned thing ever opens up again. Any progress on the scans?"
"No, sir. We moved some mobile equipment in but we haven't learned much. High intensity radar doesn't penetrate and reflection analysis is still about the same as we got from space. It's made of an unknown type of material. We tried getting a bit of the material from the body with a diamond cutter but it didn't work. I sure wish we had some of that kind of material for our armor."
"Later, Chet. First things first." General Binds thought for a moment, running various options over in his mind until he came to a conclusion. "Listen, Chet, I've changed my mind. Since you know the people there, I'm going to send you down to take command. Use one of our courier jets and get there fast. I'll cut your orders while you're on the way so there'll be no flak when you take over. When you arrive, please assure Colonel Morrison and General Cruz that I have full confidence in them, but that I want you in command because you know the folks there personally. Got it?'
"Yes, sir. I'm on my way."
"Good man," Binds said, but he was talking to a dead extension by then.