Fragment (novel)

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Fragment (Random House, 2009), is a science-based thriller by bestselling author and screenwriter, Warren Fahy.[1] The novel focuses on a crew of young scientists from a reality TV show who must try to survive when their research vessel, the Trident, lands on Henders Island, where predatory creatures have been living and evolving for over half a billion years.[2] Producer Lloyd Levin optioned Fahy's screenplay adaptation of Fragment for a major motion picture. Pandemonium, Fahy's sequel to Fragment, was published in March 2013.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

In 1791, Captain Ambrose Henders and his crew stop at a tiny island in search of fresh water in the South Pacific. After one man, Henry Frears, is sent to obtain water, Captain Henders is forced to retreat to prevent more loss of life when Frears is eaten by unknown creatures. He writes of the account in his journal.

In the present day, an exploratory research vessel "The Trident" sails across the same stretch of the Pacific filming for a documentary series called Sea life. The ship is piloted By Captain Sol and has a crew of cameramen and researchers including Nell Duckworth, Andy Beasley, Zero Monroe, Jesse Jones, Dawn Kipke, Glynn Fields, their dog Copepod and Cynthea Leeds, their boss. When Captain Sol picks up an EPIRB distress beacon, The crew decides to investigate, partly to rescue a marooned sailor, but also to investigate the accounts of Captain Henders more than a century ago. Cynthea sends the crew ashore to scope out the shipwrecked "Balboa Bilbo", where the distress beacon emanated from. After arriving at the wreck, Copepod disappears and the rest of the crew are attacked by monstrous creatures. In the ensuing chaos, Zero drops his camera, and it captures the deaths of Glynn, Jesse, and Dawn as Cynthia and her fellow crew member Peach watch in horror with the rest of the world on the live feed. Nell and Zero barely manage to escape with their lives.

A day later, halfway around the world, Biologist Geoffrey Binswanger and his friend Angel Echevarria are studying arthropods (primarily Horseshoe crabs and Mantis Shrimp) at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. They hope to gain insight into the immune systems of the horseshoe crab and to study the spreading of the Mantis Shrimp. Geoffrey also studies the reproductive strategies of various organisms and how the predator-prey relationship may have caused the evolution of sexual reproduction. In a lecture later that night, he discusses this theory and the "Sea Life" incident, the latter of which Geoffrey believes to be a hoax.

Eight Days after the "Sea Life" incident, Nell and Andy have been called back to Henders Island, after the live feed cause panic and forced the U.S. military to quarantine the island for study. N.A.S.A has also been called in to aid their studies and also sends a high tech mobile research facility called StatLab as well as biologist Quentin Brancato and xenobiologist Otto Inman. As part of the first line of study, the scientists bait remote control traps to catch the local fauna. The traps are so successful that the animals swarm the bait and eat everything inside before the traps can close. Finally, after several attempts, a few live specimens are captured while the dead specimens are taken to a quarantine glove box to be examined.The first specimen to be examined is a creature that Andy quickly dubs a Henders Rat. During the examination, it turns out to be a highly specialized arthropod new to science. Upon further examination, they find that it has unique characteristics, such as an internalized exoskeleton, a strong, ridged tail to help it leap, and long, sharp teeth and mantis-like forelimbs as well as a second brain with functioning eyes in its hips. As they dissect further, the specimen is revealed to have been pregnant, and babies emerge from the corpse to feed on the deceased parent. Otto provokes one of the babies and is attacked by the juvenile Henders Rat, splitting his thumb. Andy, Nell, and Quentin kill the newborn "rats", in order to keep from having another accident and to keep the specimens from leaving the glove box. Cynthea, meanwhile, sends her crewman Dante to sneak onto the island to capture footage. As they study the specimens and the alien environment outside, Andy and Nell converse, unaware that something is watching them. Later that night, as Andy and Quentin study the wildlife on Henders Island, unknown lichen-like objects begin clinging to StatLab. Dante slips onto the island unseen, and tries exploring on his own. As he attempts to scale one of the island's vertical slopes, he is attacked by a swarm of animals. As he nears the top, he is ambushed by a Spiger, a gigantic predator Nell encountered on the first foray. An unknown creature attempts to save him, but before either the Spiger or the mysterious animal can react, Dante cuts his own lifeline and plummets to his death. Meanwhile, the scientists find that something, presumably the lichen-like structures, have started eating parts of StatLab using sulfuric acid.

In the meantime, Geoffrey gives a lecture on how the length of a creature's lifespan may prevent it from inbreeding with its offspring. His theory is expressed through the fact that the smaller a breeding group, the more likely it is to create cross-generational breeding. He discusses how animals as different as voles, termites, frogs, and whales, usually die at around twice their breeding age in order to keep the gene pool from being polluted. The longer an individual life, and the smaller a group, the possibility of inbreeding is increased.

Another three days later, Nell is watched by a Spiger through the acrylic dome above her while sleeping. Later, Nell and Dr. Cato release a mongoose into the jungle wearing a "critter cam" in an attempt to compare the Henders Island fauna to invasive fauna from different areas of the world. The mongoose does not survive for more than a few minutes. Meanwhile, a representative for the President of the United States, Hamilton Pound arrives to inspect the situation and Zero is given clearance to film the event. Pound is given a tour of the compound in StatLab, and Nell explains about the creatures of the island. The animals of Henders Island are able to reproduce continuously, and are stronger and faster than any other creatures on earth due to their copper-based blood, two brains and their super adaptability, as demonstrated during the tests involving rival species that have been imported. At the same time, StatLab is becoming compromised by the fauna and flora of Henders Island, and sections are closed off. As the tour continues, Dr. Cato, Otto and Andy reveal to Pound that little progress has been made into the island interior due to the ferocity of the wildlife, and its sabotaging the ROVs. They also begin to elaborate on the lichen-like flora's (called "clover" by Andy) growth and how the creatures that eat it use sulfuric acid to dissolve it. The team realizes that this is what is eating away at StatLab. As StatLab continues to disintegrate, Nell explains that the creatures on the island are extremely dangerous and could compromise the global ecosystem. Despite this, Pound is taken with Andy, Quentin, Zero by a driver to the StatLab rover to explore the island in full.As they explore, Henders Island beasts attack everything and anything around them in their environment, revealing ferocious power and sheer aggression. As they travel through the jungle, they head for Henders Island's only lake, crossing paths with Henders rats, wasps, drill worms, and other, unknown animals. Upon arriving at the lake, the four deploy an ROV, only to have their tires dissolve after running over clover and the animals who consume it. At the same time, the denizens of the lake attack the rover, compromising it, forcing the occupants to flee. In the attack that follows, Andy, Quentin, Pound and the Rover's pilot are killed and eaten. Zero manages to escape and run towards StatLab, diving into a salty tide pool in the process. When the creatures fail to pursue him into the water, he and Nell discover that saltwater is toxic to Henders Island creatures. After dousing himself, he manages to escape the local predators with minor injuries. Statlab is evacuated as the clover continues to compromise the structure. Most of the staff are killed when the predators make their way into the lab. Nell, Zero and Dr. Cato escape, and watch as StatLab falls apart before them.

Days later Geoffrey and Thatcher Redmond, a hypocritical and murderous (as he killed his own son by letting him outside and let him drown in a swimming pool) zoologist who believes humanity is a blight on the ecosystems of the world, arrive at the new base on Henders Island; Trigon. There, Geoffrey meets Nell for the first time. Arriving inside of the base, which is protected by sprayers full of saltwater and an outer hull that can survive a near miss from a missile strike, Thatcher and Geoffrey meet with biologists Sir Nigel Holscombe, Doug Livingstone and several United States Generals and Defense Secretaries as well a live feed with the President of the United States. Nell and Dr. Livingstone present on the Island's formation and evolution, and reveal a horrifying truth; Henders Island's flora and fauna are so well adapted that if they were to escape, they would cause global collapse. As they explain further, it becomes clear that no other option can be utilized to contain Henders Island's creatures aside from a nuclear weapon, which Nell vehemently agrees to. At this, Geoffrey asks if any intelligent lifeforms exist, and Thatcher believes that the destruction of the island will mark mankind's greatest failure. However, they are given 48 hours as an S.O.S. has been detected by the Trigon personnel. Along the way, they travel in a humvee that constantly sprays saltwater. Nell, Dr. Cato, Zero, Thatcher and Geoffrey as well as Cane, their driver, view the creatures of Henders Island, including a living hatchery that evolved to raise birds to feed other predators. As they close in towards the signal, the group runs across Andy, who is revealed to have survived, along with the dog Copepod. In order to save him and the others Dr. Cato sacrifices himself and at the same time, the same mysterious creature that had been watching StatLab and tried to rescue Dante as well as rescuing Andy and Copepod saves the group by killing off the larger predators to start a feeding frenzy. Andy and the creature lead Nell and the others to its lair in one of the island's only trees. The creature, which Andy has named Hender, reveals itself to be a highly intelligent being and skilled at mimicry, which allows him to quickly learn human language. Although Thatcher and Cane are frightened because of Hender's intellect and status as sentient, Geoffrey, Nell, Andy, and Zero genuinely come to accept Hender as an equal. Hender also reveals that four others of his kind exist, which the group label as "Hendropods". The group realizes that Hender himself activated both distress beacons when the earthquakes that plague the island became more and more frequent. As the Hendropods converge to flee with the humans, Thatcher and Cane slip away and Cane leaves to get the humvee and make sure Hender and his kind never make it away from the island. When Thatcher returns, the hendropods agree to leave with the humans. Andy reveals that Hender and his kin have evolved sophisticated camouflage than can render them virtually invisible. Geoffrey and Nell, who examine the evidence presented also conclude that the hendropod's powers of camouflage also allowed them to become nearly immortal, as there was no way for them to reproduce on the small island without compromising their gene pool. Hender's great age is revealed by Hender's account of seeing Henry Frear's death and watching as a World War II bomber crash into his tree. The group also makes a new hypothesis based on Hender's fossil collection; Henders Island was the birthplace of all arthropods, such as mantis shrimp, the only species that escaped Henders Island. Thatcher slips away again during this revelation to find Cane, only to watch him be devoured by spigers. The spigers pursue the Hendropods and humans at a large earthquake hits the tree, and sends everyone into the sea as they make for The Trident. In the commotion, Hender falls into the water and Andy dives in to save him, with the group eventually and successfully escaping onto The Trident. Aboard the ship, Nell and Geoffrey begin to bond romantically as the Hendropods settle into their surroundings, even sleeping together.

Later that night, Thatcher takes a cage full of unconscious Henders Rats and releases them as he escapes on a raft from The Trident, calling in the military to destroy The Trident and prove his theory right. Thatcher however is eaten alive in the raft by Drill Worms and Henders Wasps that he inadvertently releases from jars Hender used as lamps, killing him as the raft deflates and Henders Island is destroyed by a nuclear bomb to prevent the escape of any of its dangerous wildlife. On board, The Trident comes under attack from both the escaped Henders Rats and the Military. As Hender and his kin kill the predatory arthropods, Cynthea and Zero open a live camera feed to the President and the world to save the crew and the Hendropods from annihilation. The Hendropods reveal themselves after a tense standoff, and the U.S. military is forced to stand down. As The Trident heads home, Nell, Geoffry, Copepod and Hender share a tender moment of friendship, looking forward to an uncertain future together.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ Fahy, Warren (2009). Fragment.