Pandemic

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Pandemic (The Extinction Files Book 1)

 
From A.G. Riddle, the worldwide bestselling author with OVER 3 MILLION COPIES SOLD, comes a sci-fi thriller readers are calling “addictive” and “an achievement that takes the genre to the next level.”

In Africa, a mysterious outbreak spreads quickly. Teams from the CDC and WHO respond, but they soon learn that there is more to the epidemic than they believed. It may be the beginning of a global experiment–an event that will change the human race forever.

* * *

A hundred miles north of Alaska, a US Coast Guard research vessel discovers a sunken submarine. It has no national identification. No corporate identity. It has been down there for decades, and deep inside, teams find evidence of an experiment that may answer the deepest mysteries of human existence.

Ten days later, in a remote village in Kenya, several local residents contract a mysterious disease. The next day, two American aid workers fall ill. The WHO and CDC send teams, led by Dr. Peyton Shaw–an epidemiologist who has stopped some of the most deadly outbreaks in recent history. Peyton is good at her job, but she is driven by her own dark secret–and haunted by mysteries in her past.

What Peyton finds in Kenya is an outbreak very different from any she has ever seen. As the pandemic sweeps the globe, Peyton is drawn deeper into a conspiracy of unimaginable scope, a plot that appears to be linked to her past. The answers, and the key to stopping the pandemic, are revelations that carry a price–for all of us.

ABOUT PANDEMIC

PANDEMIC is the first new novel from A.G. Riddle in almost two and a half years. The product of extensive research, PANDEMIC takes readers inside the CDC and WHO response to a deadly outbreak. It features the real-life science and history blended with fiction that readers have come to know and love in Riddle’s past novels. PANDEMIC is the first novel in a new series: The Extinction Files.

About A.G. Riddle

A.G. Riddle’s debut novel, The Atlantis Gene, became a global phenomenon. It is the first novel in a trilogy that has sold over two million copies, has been translated into 19 languages, and is in development to become a major motion picture.

His fourth novel, Departure, follows a group of survivors of a plane crash who find themselves in a changed world. After A.G. Riddle self-published the novel, HarperVoyager (an imprint of HarperCollins) acquired it and published it in hardcover and paperback.

His latest novel, PANDEMIC, follows a team of researchers investigating an outbreak that could alter the human race.

Gerry grew up in a small town in North Carolina, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, and currently resides with his wife and daughter in Raleigh, North Carolina. Learn more at agriddle.com.
Prologue
 
The US Coast Guard cutter had been searching the Arctic Ocean for three months, though none of the crew knew exactly what they were searching for. At their last port, the icebreaker had taken on a team of thirty scientists and a dozen crates filled with some very strange instruments. The crew was told nothing about their guests or the mysterious equipment. Day after day, ice broke and crumbled at the Healy’s bow, and the men and women aboard carried on with their duties, operating in radio silence as instructed. The secrecy and monotony of the crew’s daily routine inspired an endless flow of rumors. They speculated while they took their meals and in their off-hours, while playing chess, cards, and video games. Their best guess was that they were searching for a submarine or sunken military ship—likely of American or perhaps Russian origin—or perhaps a cargo vessel carrying dangerous material. A few of the crew believed they were searching for nuclear warheads, fired decades ago during the Cold War but aborted over the Arctic Ocean. At four a.m. Anchorage time, the phone on the wall by the captain’s bunk buzzed. The man grabbed it without turning the light on. “Miller.” “Stop the ship, Captain. We’ve found it.” The mission’s chief scientist, Dr. Hans Emmerich, hung up without another word. After calling the bridge and ordering a full stop, Captain Walter Miller dressed quickly and made his way to the ship’s main research bay.
 
Like the rest of the crew, he was curious about what it was. But most of all he wanted to know if what lay beneath them was a threat to the 117 men and women serving aboard his ship. Miller nodded at the guards by the hatch and ducked inside. A dozen scientists were arguing by a bank of screens. He marched toward them, squinting at the images that showed the rocky sea floor bathed in a green hue. In the middle of several of the images lay a dark, oblong object. “Captain.” Dr. Emmerich’s voice was like a clothesline, stopping Miller in his tracks. “I’m afraid we’re exceptionally busy at the moment.” Emmerich stepped in front of the Coast Guard officer and tried to corral him away from the screens, but Miller stood his ground. “I came to see if we can provide any assistance,” Miller said. “We’re quite capable, Captain. Please maintain your current position—and radio silence.” Miller motioned toward the screens. “So you’ve been looking for a sub.” Emmerich said nothing. “Is it American? Russian?” “We believe it’s a vessel of… multi-national sponsorship.”
Miller squinted, wondering what that meant. “Now, Captain, you really must excuse me. We have a lot of work to do. We’ll be launching the submersible soon.” Miller nodded. “Understood. Good luck, Doctor.” When the captain was gone, Emmerich instructed two of the younger researchers to stand by the door. “Nobody else gets in.” At his computer terminal, Emmerich sent an encrypted email. Have located wreck believed to be RSV Beagle. Commencing search. Coordinates and initial imagery attached. Thirty minutes later, Dr. Emmerich and three other scientists sat in the submersible, making their way to the ocean floor.
On the other side of the world, the cargo ship Kentaro Maru was moving through the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Somalia. In a conference room adjacent to the ship’s bridge, two men had been arguing all afternoon, their shouts causing the crew to wince periodically. A bridge officer knocked on the door and waited nervously. They ignored him and continued yelling at each other. He knocked again. Silence. He swallowed hard and pushed the door open. A tall man named Conner McClain stood behind the long conference table. His angry expression made his badly scarred face look even more hideous. He spoke quickly, with an Australian accent, his volume just below a yell. “For your sake, this better blow my mind, Lieutenant.” “Sir, the Americans have found the Beagle.” “How?” “They’re using a new seafloor mapping tech—” “Are they on a plane, submarine, or ship?” “A ship. The Healy. It’s a US Coast Guard icebreaker. They’re launching a submersible though.” “Do they know what’s on the Beagle yet?” “We don’t know. We don’t think so.” “Good. Sink the icebreaker.” The other man in the conference room spoke for the first time. “Don’t do this, Conner.” “We have no choice.” “We do. This is an opportunity.” “Opportunity for what?” “To show the world what’s aboard the Beagle.” Conner turned to the young officer. “You have your orders, Lieutenant. Dismissed.” When the door closed, Conner spoke quietly to the other man in the conference room. “We’re on the verge of the most important event in human history. We’re not going to let the barbarian hordes vote on it.” Dr. Hans Emmerich held his breath when the submarine’s outer hatch opened. Behind him, Dr. Peter Finch studied a laptop screen. “Clear. Seal’s good.” “Radiation?” Emmerich asked. “Negligible.” Emmerich and the three scientists descended the ladder into the vessel. The LED lights from their suit helmets cast white beams through the dark tomb as they moved slowly through the cramped corridors, careful not to let anything catch on their suits. A tear could be deadly. When they reached the vessel’s bridge, Emmerich aimed his helmet lamps at a bronze plaque on the wall. “Prometheus, Alpha One. Are you receiving this?” A scientist on the Healy responded instantly. “Copy, Alpha One, receiving audio and video.”
The plaque on the wall read:
RSV Beagle Hong Kong 1 May 1965 Ordo ab Chao
Emmerich exited the bridge and began searching for the captain’s stateroom. If he was lucky, the logs would be stored there, and they would finally reveal where the Beagle had been and what the crew had discovered. If he was right, the vessel held evidence of a scientific revelation that would forever change the course of human history. Dr. Finch’s voice crackled in Emmerich’s earpiece. “Alpha One, Alpha Two, do you copy?” “Copy, Alpha Two.” “We’ve reached the lab level. Should we enter?” “Affirmative, Alpha Two. Proceed with caution.” In the dark corridor, Emmerich waited. “Alpha One, we’re seeing two exam rooms with metal tables, maybe ten feet long. Rooms are sealed for bio-containment. The rest of the area is filled with long rows of storage bins, like large deposit boxes in a vault. Should we open one?” “Negative, Alpha Two,” Emmerich said quickly. “Are they numbered?” “Affirmative,” Finch said…….
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A.G. Riddle