|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010)|
Anchor; First Edition MMP
|Genre||Thriller, Science fiction novel|
|Published||30 January 2007 (Doubleday)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Softcover)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 22|
|LC Class||PS3553.H4839 D44 2007|
|Preceded by||Death Match|
|Followed by||Terminal Freeze|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2008)|
Former naval doctor Peter Crane is sent to investigate a mysterious illness that has broken out on a North Atlantic oil rig. He meets his superior officer, Dr. Asher who hints at a fantastic secret being discovered. Government officials transport him to an amazing undersea habitat run by the United States military. He receives a confidential envelope that says that the military has found some evidence of Atlantis. As he is brought down into the "facility" codenamed Deep Storm, he discovers that nearly a quarter of the staff have been acting strangely. Working alongside the psychological doctor, Dr.Corbett and the chief military doctor Michele Bishop, Crane is witness to one of these incidents, one of the workers suddenly grabs a hostage and after screaming about "voices" he stabs himself in the neck with a screwdriver. After interviewing some of the patients there, Crane realizes that there must be some kind of unifying basis to them, that they should all have something in common.
Meanwhile Asher talks with the military commander in charge of Deep Storm, Admiral Spartan, along with his commander Korolis. Asher thinks that Crane should have the right to go down to the "classified" levels to really investigate the cause of the sickness since it is clear he is getting nowhere. However, Admiral Spartan disagrees with Asher and says that Crane is a security threat and refuses to give him clearance to the other 4 lower levels in the base. After this, the base is set on alert after a pinhole breach in one of the corridors, allowing water to come in. The officers determine it was an act of sabotage and Asher reminds all of the heads of departments to be vigilant. Asher summons Crane to his office and, against the wishes of Admiral Spartan, tells him that they are not really looking for Atlantis. Asher tells him that 20 months ago, an ocean drilling oil rig received a signal coming from the Mohorovičić discontinuity and that the US military is trying to find out what the source was. Indeed, to confirm that the source of the signal is not human, Asher shows him a copy of an eyewitness account of a fisherman describing a giant "eye" dipping into the ocean in 1347 and destroying the inhabitants of his village, who had sailed out to greet it. Asher also shows Crane several "sentinels" that they found: cube-shaped objects that emit light straight up, and gravitate to the center of any room or container they are kept in. Asher tells him that this is actually not a solid beam of light, but it is a pulse sending out a mini signal in binary code. He further goes on to say that he hired his personal cryptographer to analyze this binary code since he believes that this technology is not meant for humans. Admiral Spartan and his forces come in at this instant and, much to Crane's surprise, gives him clearance to visit the entire facility. Crane goes down and meets Hui Ping, a doctor who is also trying to analyze the beams of light. Ping and Crane also agree to leave no stone unturned and check for any kind of similarity all the patients have.
A few days later Asher comes through with a breakthrough with the binomial code, he realizes that it is a mathematical expression: 1 divided by 0. Because this is not making any sense, Crane holds the sentinel in his bare hand, causing it to warm up. Asher excitedly describes how the sentinel's broadcasts are more clear, they can now analyze messages on the infra-red spectrum, radioactive spectrum and any other kind of measuring device know to man. However during this exchange Peter notices how Asher has a very pale complexion and bruising along his arm. He wants him to go to medical but Asher disagrees saying that he could spend time in the Hyperbaric chamber as a way to alleviate his illness for a short time, just until they decoded the rest of the messages coming from the sentinel. At this point Crane runs a brain scan on all of the patients and discovers that they all do have something in common, all of their brain waves spike in formation, even their theta waves. He realizes that this is another signal coming from the source, just because humans can't analyze it does not mean it does not exist. He also realizes the implications, that whoever made this technology is much more powerful then humans. He is about to tell Asher of his discovery when Asher phones him saying that he decoded all of the messages. However on his arrival of the Hyperbaric chamber, the saboteur has struck again, burning the Hyperbaric chamber with Asher in it. Asher is nearly dead but manages to say one word to Crane: Whip, before he dies. Along with Ping, Crane does not realize what this means but then figures out that they could possibly salvage the hard drive and look at the decoded messages from Asher's laptop. Meanwhile Commander Korolis records the conversation and hurriedly runs a degaussing magnet over the hard drive, erasing it. He has noticed how Asher did not want to continue with the digging and assumes that whatever is on the hard drive is not relevant and would halt America from recovering possibly beneficial technology.
Ping is deemed the saboteur so now Crane and Ping need to stealthily dissect Asher's hard drive. They go to a deserted physics lab and realize that the hard drive was magnetized. Despite this, Ping manages to resurrect the data using a crude form of magnetic force microscopy and as they peer onto the screen they realize that the other messages included , π=a/b and , other impossible mathematical equations. After, they discover that Asher was searching the web and by looking at the history they find the WIPP site, the waste isolation plant in New Mexico. This is a decommissioned weapons facility, where nuclear arms are being disarmed and stored. Crane believes that this was what Asher meant by Whip, he thinks that earth is actually a waste deposit, with the "remains of an interstellar arms race". Because humans believe that the weapons will be functional for thousands of years they will place passive and active ways to warn people of the danger, Crane assumes aliens think the same way and the sentinels are actually a message warning advanced civilizations to stay off earth. This deciphers the mathematical expressions because the "forbidden" mathematical maneuvers are the only way aliens can communicate with other more sophisticated races. Crane leaves Ping and goes to warn Spartan of this danger, that digging into the source will lead to Armageddon. Spartan does not seem to take the hint and still believes that there is beneficial technology there. Frustrated, Crane goes to Dr. Bishop and asks her to organize the other heads of departments into believing him. Michelle promises to call him back but is seen by Dr. Corbett 1 hour later wiring C-4 into the facility. Corbett secretly switches on his phone, dialing his intern, and confronts Michelle saying that she is the saboteur. She does not deny it, instead explaining how America has no right in taking this technology. She shoots him with a silenced pistol and quickly leaves at the sound of approaching voices. Corbett is barely alive, and starts to disable the C4, but Michelle re-enters the room and sees him. With his dying breath and before she can finish him off, he inadvertently blows the C4, condemning Michelle and himself to a watery grave.
Meanwhile, Spartan talks with his commander about how Crane's advice does make sense and he is going to call for an investigation before starting the drilling again. He notices the commander develop the disease that is a result of the source and advises him to go to medical.
Crane is seen talking to Mcpherson, a high ranking government official. He listens to a recorded tape of Korolis before his death, and agrees with Crane that they should not tell anyone of this discovery, no one was meant to access such powerful weapons. The novel seems to end on a happy note, Crane reasons that whoever put the sentinels there does not want people to blow themselves up but Mcpherson raises two disturbing points: the aliens consider humans to be negligible, thus the violent placing of the devices in the earth, and also that humans deactivate the weapons before storing them, but because the aliens did not attempt this at all, Mcpherson thinks that this is not a waste dump at all; it is an active storage facility of weapons for future use.