Research Astronomer Miles Richards carefully studied the documents and photos placed on his desk by his assistant, Salli Yamani. He picked up the photos taken by the observatorys Skysight telescope and examined each in the exact order in which they had been taken. An expression of concern darkened his handsome features as he began to absorb the horrible significance of the materials. He broke his silence only after studying each exposure several times.
Salli, I know these photos were taken over a period of two months, but do you think there might be some error in your calculations? There cant be any mistake. Theres too much riding on all of this. I know this is the kind of event weve been looking for but now that weve found it, I cant believe its real.
Salli reached over and picked up the most recent exposure. She looked at it and then turned back to her boss.
Its a hard pill, Miles, I know, but everything is correct. I've checked my figures and calculations several times. This is real. Weve always known there was an asteroid out there with our name on it. Well, this is it. Salli placed the photo on the desk and used the end of a sharp pencil to point out the speck of light that had grown steadily larger in each successive photograph. At any other time, Miles would have allowed himself to be carried away by the fragrance of the perfume his assistant wore so lightly. However, now, with the fate of the world written on a few photos and documents, he couldnt even smell it.
Salli had completed some calculations based upon the size of the object as it appeared in the heavens at the same time each night. She laid out this information before Richards. Based on my figures and the objects rate of acceleration it will achieve as it enters Earths gravitational influence, Id say we only have about six months before impact.
Richards looked up at his assistant as if seeing her for the first time. He had always known that she was beautiful as well as bright but he had never complimented her on anything other than her keen, analytical mind. He wondered whether he would ever get the opportunity to tell her how much he loved her. Six months didnt seem nearly long enough.
The immediate concern was alerting the world to the danger. Unfortunately, once the people of Earth knew what was about to occur, theyd be able to do little more than the dinosaurs had when their time was up 65 million years earlier. Miles realized that with only six months to impact, the most anyone could do was go home and be comfortable until the end came.
Richards and Yamani had been working for the better part of three years on a project to identify heavenly bodies on a possible collision course with Earth. Searching the heavens for asteroids, meteors and comets was a relatively new endeavor and the good news was that more than 200 objects had been identified. The bad that went along with this good was the belief that this was only about ten percent of the total number of dangerous objects out there. Until the previous week, the researchers had found not even a slight threat, despite three years of gazing into the heavens. With funding for the project dwindling, however, they had finally discovered something--a rock three miles wide and hurtling towards Earth at an insane speed. The maddening aspect about the discovery was that it had happened so late. A half year was hardly enough time to launch a plan of defense.
Two days later, Richards and Yamani packed their materials and left the observatory on Maui, Hawaii and headed for Washington, DC, courtesy of an Air Force transport jet. Within two hours of their reception at the White House all of their materials had been presented, reviewed, checked and double checked. Richards stood at the head of a long table and addressed a distinguished group of military men and top-level politicians. The President of the United States sat near the middle of the table and huddled with the head of the joint chiefs as Richards wrapped up his presentation. He had been attentive throughout but Richards noticed that he had shaken his graying head vigorously on several occasions. It wasnt lost on Richards that the man who had presided over the largest tax increase in history refused to loosen the purse strings for this project.
Richards had read the expressions of each of his listeners carefully. He had little expectation that he was getting through to them but throughout his presentation he managed to maintain the same level of enthusiasm. There you have it, gentleman. This object is firmly in the planet killer category and it is my belief that action must be taken immediately or it will strike the Earth with enough force to cause a type of devastation never experienced in recorded history.
Admiral Vince Scofield glanced up from his review materials and looked across at the President. He addressed Richards after the President gave a slight nod. How long will it be before you can identify the point of impact? We can evacuate that area, if and I stress if, that rock even hits land. I think its far more probable that the strike will be over water.
Richards looked at Salli Yamani and stroked the stubble that had begun to show on his chin. It wont matter, Admiral Scofield. Wherever it hits, the resulting impact will be devastating. The blast will send billions of tons of debris around the Earth within hours, blotting out the sun for months, if not years. If it strikes the mid-Atlantic it will cause tidal waves nearly a mile high. It will wash away the east coast of the United States as far inland as the Appalachian Mountain range.
Aside from that, Yamani interjected, the blow to the Earth will cause massive earthquakes and it will bring volcanic eruptions on a scale never imagined.
The room broke into babble as 20 of the finest military men in the United States all fought to have their voices heard. Once again, however, Scofield took the lead. We can knock out that rock with the Pegasus Missile. Its our most advanced weapon and is capable of carrying enough nuclear punch to take out a quarter of the moon, just plain vaporize it. We can have it ready to launch in less than two weeks, warhead and all.
Yamani and Richards looked at each other. Neither was as pleased as everyone in the room clearly thought they should have been. Richards looked down, shuffled some of his papers and then addressed Scofield again. Ah, Admiral, two weeks from now will be too late. In fact, we believe that it may be too late even now. That asteroid is traveling more than 22,000 miles per hour and accelerating as it nears Earth. No matter how advanced your guidance and targeting systems are, I doubt Pegasus can intercept it.
The President gave the scientist a hard look. You dont have a lot of faith in your government or its armed forces, do you, son?
Richards failed to flinch under the chief executives glare. Its not that, Mr. President. But Ive seen what these objects can do to a planet. Do you remember Shoemaker-Levy? That was a lot smaller than this and Jupiter is a lot bigger than Earth. Gentleman, Im afraid this is doomsday.
The gigantis monster lay asleep in the deepest part of the Pacific Oceans Marianas Trench. It had been in a sort of reptilian hibernation for more than two years, a long time by the reckoning of man but far less than an eyeblink to its kind. The creature lay separated from mans world, hidden undetectable beneath a 7,500-foot blanket of seawater.
Strange bottom-dwelling sea creatures with phosphorescent appendages and nasty jaws swam around and crawled upon the sea giants supine form. Its massive body provided a mini eco-system capable of hosting myriad creatures. Big fish swam across the reptilian landscape, hunting and feeding on the smaller creatures that nestled in the grooves of its skin and scuttled across the surfaces of the huge dorsal plates running the length his back.
The leviathans tail twitched spasmodically, and from time to time an involuntary grimace crossed its face, wrinkling back leathery lips and baring fangs more than six feet long and strong enough to puncture the steel roof of a railroad car. The muscle movements betrayed its dreams of subduing deepwater prey, destroying mans cities and waging epic struggles with giant apes, monstrous moths and a triple-headed, golden dragon from a distant galaxy.
The water was cold but Godzillas blood was warmed by the atomic furnace burning within his body. The creature rested securely in the inky blackness that marked the deepest point of the largest ocean in the world. Godzilla, the gigantis monster was the dominant life form in the seas and on the planet.
Now, however, the beasts rest was broken by a low vibration moving through the bedrock of the sea floor. The mighty Godzilla had felt the effects of earthquakes before and they caused the monster no concern. This was not a temblor, though. The motion of the ground was slight but still enough to disturb the reptilian giant. He demonstrated his annoyance with a flashing light show. A pale blue fluorescent glow danced along the huge dorsal plates and lit the foot and hand claws. The creatures swimming around and moving over Godzillas body had known the creature only as part of the ocean floor but as it awakened, squid, shark and ray all felt the energy and immediately fled to safer waters. Within moments and despite the crushing pressures at the depth, Godzilla stood upright on two pillar-like legs and swung his great head around as if searching for the source of the disturbance. The monsters eyes flashed beneath their bony ridges and its muscular tail swung reflexively with a slow-motion whip crack, toppling a small mountain of rock.
The beast moved off along the sea floor, walking with slow and ponderous footsteps that would have sounded like thunder had they been on land. A sperm whale fat with squid watched his progress but Godzilla was soon lost to view as he disappeared amid the thick, black smoke rising from a rocky forest of hundred-foot tall volcanic vents covering the sea floor.
At least they didnt laugh us out of the place. I dont think my ego could have taken that, said Salli Yamani as she and Miles Richards sat over cocktails in a trendy DC restaurant.
Richards played with his napkin and then took a swallow of scotch. They might as well have. Half of them dont believe that rock poses a threat to Earth and the other half believe that a missile can stop it before it takes us out.
Well, you can always tell your kids that you met the President of the United States. Thats if the world is going to be around long enough for you to start a family.
Theyd never believe me.
Thats right. The Presidents people didnt ask us to stick around long enough to have our pictures taken with him, did they?
They both laughed at that and Miles was still smiling when the restaurants hostess approached the table.
Professor Richards, theres a gentleman in the lobby who wishes to speak with you. I asked if he could wait until you had finished dinner, but he insisted that it was urgent and that he be allowed to speak with you right away.
Did he give his name?
No sir. He merely said that he had information that would be of vital interest to you.
Ill be right back, Salli. I dont know who this could be but Id better find out. Miles rose to follow the hostess.
You dont really think youre going without me, do you? Salli took a quick sip of her wine and hurried to follow Miles from the dining room.
When they reached the lobby, Miles and Salli saw a slight, balding man sitting on a bench in the restaurants waiting area. He rose when they approached and extended his hand. Miles shook it, thinking at the time that he looked slightly familiar.
Professor Richards, Im happy to make your acquaintance. My name is Professor Edgar Whitestone. Im a professor of marine geology at Western University.
From the depths of the sea to the depths of space, huh? Salli quipped.
That description might not be as much a joke as you believe, young lady. And you would be Professor Richards assistant, Ms. Yamani?
While Whitestone was talking to Salli, Richards suddenly remembered where he knew him from. Whitestone had given a lecture on a long dead civilization that had existed eons before the appearance modern mans appearance on Earth. The only memory of them now lay miles beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Though no evidence or artifact had ever been found, Whitestone was extremely convincing as he outlined their history and by the time he had completed his presentation, Miles believed every word of it.
Whitestone motioned the couple to sit down and for the first time, Miles noticed the large leather-bound book he was holding. Whitestone saw Miles interest. Youre right to notice this. Nearly everything we need to save this blind planet is outlined in here. It contains all the secrets of the empire of Mu, including the one that may just save the world from what they called the Eye of Heaven. Whitestone tapped the leather binding for emphasis.
Salli looked interested. She sensed immediately that Whitestone was no crackpot. Nearly everything? That would mean that there is at least one piece missing from the equation.
In fact, Ms. Yamani. There is only one piece missing, but it is a very important one and if the book is correct it will soon be in place.
Whats missing? Miles asked.
Whitestone hesitated before answering. Godzilla.