“When did the signal restart?” Gordan asked.
“A few seconds ago,” Kabir said, now seated at his desk, though he rolled just off-screen as he spoke to someone else in Hindi. Despite it being almost two in the morning, Kabir’s surroundings were buzzing with activity.
“Are you sure?” Jennifer asked as she squeezed in front of another assistant to get a closer look at the screen. She had to get confirmation.
“I haven’t been more sure about anything,” Kabir said. “The signal frequency is exactly the same, down to the thousandth hertz.”
“From Pluto?” she asked.
“Coming,” Kabir instant messaged, the clacking of the keys audible through the speakers. The commotion on Kabir’s side seemed to have quieted for a moment as the people there congregated around select monitors. Jennifer glanced behind her and found Sam and Nic behind her. Most of the activity at SETI ground to a halt soon after Jennifer’s unintended announcement about the signal’s return spread.
Kabir’s face grimaced as he muttered, “This can’t be right.” Then in Hindi, “Rupak, this can’t be right—double-check the equipment again!”
“What is it?” Gordan asked, shifting in his chair as if it became uncomfortable.
“Gordan,” Kabir said in English, “The signal is coming from Neptune.”
Jennifer looked at Gordan, then at Kabir, arms crossed. “Wait, wait… Can you repeat that?”
“He said Neptune,” Sam murmured.
“Neptune,” Kabir said before being interrupted by another researcher that gave him a sheet of paper. He spoke in as clear an English as he could while he scanned the paper in front of him with narrowed eyes. “Yes—right ascension twenty-two hours, thirty-seven minutes, twenty-point-six-seven seconds; declination minus nine degrees, twenty-eight minutes. We are confirmed.”
Nic grabbed a notepad and vigorously wrote astronomical equations. “That’s nearly 30AU from Pluto,” he said in amazement.
Jennifer slid Gordan aside as, while kneeling, opened SETI’s stellar observatory software to view the exact location of the coordinates shared.
“I could’ve done that, you know,” Gordan said, though Jennifer was too focused on what appeared on-screen to acknowledge him. As the numerous statistics listed themselves to the left of the focal point, Jennifer raised her eyebrows as she reviewed the stats from GMRT— all the data looked undeniably accurate.
“This is just off to the side of Neptune, look at this,” Jennifer pointed to a spot near the orbit of Proteus, one of Neptune’s larger moons. “About one-hundred-and-ten-thousand kilometers away from the planet.”
“There’s more,” Kabir said. He focused not on Gordan and Jennifer, but what he pulled up on-screen. Some men came into view, walking just behind Kabir—one of them leaned forward and pointed at what he was about to share. “We’re tracking the signal’s location live, and it appears to be moving.”
Author: Trevor B. Williams
Book title: Eternal Shadow
Genre: Science Fiction
Publish date: 11/9/2019
What would you do if the world was going to end in ten years? For Jennifer Epstein, a by-the-books senior researcher at SETI, there is only one answer: prevent the apocalypse from happening. Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus were destroyed by an alien threat. The deck was stacked against humanity before the cards came out of the box.
But Jennifer isn’t alone. She has Samantha Monroe, her excitable but brilliant colleague. From South Africa, CEO Muzikayise Khulu of Khulu Global supplies his vast resources to the ultimate race for survival. The three find themselves in an unlikely alliance while political brinkmanship, doomsday cults, and untested technologies form ever-growing obstacles.
Will humanity unite to face the greatest challenge of their time, or will it destroy itself before the alien ship arrives?