Sisters Ann, Tommie and Rita are part of a classified mission to explore an alien ship that has crash landed on an asteroid three billion miles from earth. Humanity’s first contact with beings from beyond the solar system is bound to unlock the mystery of life in the universe, but the crew have their own secrets; hidden fears, desires, horrible sins – and a mission to kill. Researchers discover something unique about the third arm of the ship: something wonderful, terrifying and…holy. This discovery challenges Rita and Ann to confront their own pasts in order to secure the safety of the mission and the very souls of the crew.
And here’s a little excerpt to help you make up your mind:
For all her nightmares of earlier, the next shift on Discovery seemed to be going according to routine. Rita applied the cut-away compound in a smooth circle on the door of their next room. She had the toe of one boot anchored in the suction handle outside it; another handle was attached to the center. Over the headset, she heard the chatter of the teams as they went about their own assignments. Ian and Reg were in the engineering arm, hoping to find the engines themselves but so far reporting control room after control room. Chris and Sean had just finished exploring a supply room and were working on their second door. Thoren had cut a deal to get on the exploration team and was working with Merl in the control room to try to match some of the symbols and perhaps get some idea of what the instruments were for. In Engineering, Gordon and his teammate were doing the same. She and James had decided to start along the second level of the central sphere. So far, they’d found what looked like a meeting room and a broom closet.
We got the exciting section, Rita thought.
James watched her from where he floated, anchored by one of the many handholds in the hall. “You’re really good at that,” he said over their private line.
“Lots of practice. It helps that I’m not worrying about the injured people on the other side.”
A small snort, then silence. She imagined him shaking his head, but couldn’t turn to look. “What?”
“You. In space. Saving lives, working with explosives.”
“It’s not an explosive, really. More like an acidic compound. See? There are two stripes separated by a chemical barrier. I actually ‘ignite’ it by dissolving the barrier.”
“Do you hear yourself?”
Is that disbelief or admiration? Actually, I don’t want to know. “James, thanks for agreeing to make the pods off-limits for now.”
“It’s not a problem. Like I said, a find like this will take decades — lifetimes! — of study with teams of experts. We’re here to survey.”
“Ah, yes. To seek and record the broom closets.” The circle complete, she put the application gun away and pulled out a second tube with a needle. She programmed the activator voltage into its controls, then pressed the needle into the compound. She reported the action to Ann on the ET.
“You can learn a lot from a broom closet. Seriously, I’m having the time of my life. Do you know what kind of archeology I usually work? Sift through buckets of dirt looking for evidence of anything that might stop some building from being constructed. The only time I’ve gotten to explore an intact site — well, relatively intact — was when Cole took me to Egypt as his pet archaeologist. And, I suppose, when he had me searching a sunken ship for evidence of his great-grandparents.”
The current raced along the barrier, creating a spitting, smoking trail as the two chemicals interacted. Slowly, the compound ate into the door, leaving a darkened circle.
James continued. “Never mind that this is an alien race. Do you have any idea how thrilling just finding an intact site is? We’re seeing it, just as they left it who knows how long ago? Broom closets or not, I’m excited to see what’s behind each door, and to see it first, with my own eyes.”
“Well, here’s your next chance. Edwina Taggert, this is Rita. We’re about to open our door.”
“Copy, Rita. Be very careful. It’s not a closet this time.”
Rita didn’t bother to ask how Ann knew that; she’d just say “hunch,” anyway in deference to Thoren listening to the mission channel. Ann did, however, whisper a Hail Mary. Rita knew she did that for every open door, a small ritual of the Rescue Sisters to pray for the souls in need behind it, but now she prayed for the explorers instead.
“Sean to everybody! Guess what! I think we just found the medical bay!”
“Still feeling excited about that broom closet?” she asked James with a tease in her voice.
“Oh, just open the door!”
The circle had stopped smoking. Bracing both feet against the wall, she took hold of the handle on the freed disk. She tugged, and the door moved, but it seemed to take longer than the others. “Rita to ET. I think you’re right, Ann. The door seems thicker than the others.”
“See? Maybe not a broom closet this time,” James said.
The disk slid free, and Rita and James wrestled it to the hallway floor. He held it in place while she secured it.
As soon as she gave the clear, James all but bounded to the open door, although his drag line caught him before he could pull Rita by their safety line. She hurried to join him as he described the long, deep chamber.
“Obviously a storage room. We have lines and lines of small containers, twenty or thirty deep, in some kind of storage cabinets — transparent doors, obviously. ET, are you seeing this?”
“I have Rita’s feed on the main screen, James,” Ann said, her voice breathy with excitement. “And I’m relaying it to the biolab.”
“Okay.” Rita could tell from James’ voice he didn’t see the connection, but Ann’s words had made her heart skip. She played her own hunch. “ET, I’m going to extended spectrum.”
The room dimmed, then filled with symbols and designs. Unlike most of the ones they’d seen so far, however, these ones were readily identifiable as animals and plants, albeit as odd as the aliens themselves. Even better, each row had its own illustrations, clearly labels.
Is this why I saw rainbows? Rita wondered.
Kelley’s and Zabrina’s squeals of delight overrode hers.
“Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive,” Ann whispered.
“What?” James asked, then he must have switched his visuals, because he, too, whistled. “I don’t believe it.”
“Rita to everyone. We found the ark!”
About the Author
By day, Karina is a mild-mannered reviewer of business software and services for TopTenReviews.com. After hours, she’s a psychic intent on saving the world; a snarky dragon who thinks he saves the world all-too regularly, a zombie exterminator who just wants her world clear of undead vermin, and Catholic religious sisters whose callings have taken them off our world. Needless to say, her imagination is vast, her stories legion, and her brain crowded. When she’s not converting her wild tales to stories, she’s enjoying time with her husband, Rob, their four kids, and their two dogs.
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