RADIAAN, Book I of the Radiaan Prophesy series

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He kissed her cheeks, lips, neck, and although she held him and kissed him in return, he found the salty residue of cold tears on her face. He stopped and looked into her eyes, confused, and when she spoke, he found himself frozen by the raw emotion in her voice. “You have to let me go.” He considered her words for what felt like a long time. Finally, he nodded. “Soon.” He said, kissing her again. He felt, then, a knife twist in his heart, wielded by his darkest demon. * This is a full-length Fantasy. It's a commitment to get to the chapter this scene is from. I hope you make it that far and I hope you love it! *

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THE Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest and most powerful particle accelerator, created a new subatomic-particle yesterday igniting a storm of controversy in the scientific community. LCH spokeswoman, Sara Landsteiner, responded that any worries about potential destruction were grounded in ignorance rather than science. – Associated Press.

IT HAS been the fear of some that the mysterious Large Hadron Collider may one day accidentally create a black hole that would swallow the Earth or open a portal to another dimension through which some evil entity or aliens would emerge. By Jon Austin: 15:59, Thu, Jan 14, 2016 | Updated: 17:02, Thu, Jan 14, 2016.

For generations the United States has relied on technological superiority to remain dominant across the domains of air, land, sea, and space as well as the cyber arena. In recent years, potential adversaries have accelerated their investments in military modernization and advanced technologies, narrowing the U.S. technological advantage. This Budget raises RDT&E funding above the previous level to $71.8 billion to fund future technologies in the fields of particle physics, hypersonics, unmanned, and autonomous systems. Cooperative efforts with both industry and academia, such as those between DARPA and the original designers of the Large Hadron Collider, are creating game-changing opportunities across the DOD. – United States Budget Circular 2019: National Security: Maintaining Technological Superiority

“…Only the rendered blood of the exiled one will set this prophesy in motion. Spill it early and you waive your lives to evil. Spill it naught and you do the same.” –Aiya

Stepping out of the hotel by the side door and avoiding the lobby, she walks through the cool Canadian morning a few minutes before sunrise. The asphalt of the parking lot is cracked, but free of trash other than around the edges where cars are parked along a chain-link fence. She looks back over her shoulder and sees some of her colleagues at the breakfast area, chowing-down free waffles, bagels and yogurt. One looks up, sees her. He points to his wrist and mouths ”hurry up!” She gives him a double thumbs-up and turns away.

Fuck you Phil.” She thinks. “You can’t leave without me anyway.”

She is not looking forward to the day and wants some time alone before they have to meet and carpool to the facility.

Valerie Cullen flew in the previous night from Boston to a small town in the wilds of Northeastern Canada. She works for the U.S. Government, which means they took the cheapest flight and got in after midnight to the small town of Saint Michael. Basically, a company town that has been built up around the only major employer in the region other than logging companies – a scientific research and development company known as Sage Systems, a small independent division of the largest defense contractor on the planet.

Valerie is a part of a program team checking on the progress of an experimental joint US-Canadian enterprise. She is the business-lead - really a pencil pusher tracking contract compliance. When she’s honest with herself, she can admit that she is really a babysitter for a team of engineers. All very intelligent people, but not concerned with what they are legally allowed to do.

The SageSys facilities were designed and built specifically for this project, and specifically very far away from populated urban areas. Away from most everything, for that matter, and not just because of the Government’s desire for secrecy.

Valerie reaches the edge of the parking lot - the spot the young clerk at the front desk told her about. He said it would take her to a walking path that skirted the edge of a national conservation area. He had a thick French accent and multiple lip-rings, but she understood that it was easier to cut through the fence than to drive to the formal trailhead.

She steps though the narrow opening in the broken chain-link fence, brushing past dewy weeds and grass, patting down the goose bumps that rise up on her arms. She is wearing only grey cotton yoga pants, her favorite t-shirt – washed so many times that the material is a translucent lilac, and a year-old pair of Saucony sneakers that she hasn’t had time to replace because she’s been working so much. Preferring to pack light, Valerie slept in these same clothes the previous night.

Her deep brown hair is held back in a low ponytail and she regrets not bringing her favorite cap. She double-checks the tiny pocket in the waistband of her pants for the flat hotel room key-card.

Thinking about the day ahead, Valerie steps onto the path and is already stressed out. This is a highly-classified project, but everybody and their uncle knows about it and there are regular leaks to the media. SageSys is researching a new technology that she doesn’t totally understand. She doesn’t have to – the engineers check on the technical progress and as the business lead, she is there to check on compliance with the contract. The way she understands it, the company is working on a military application for recent advances made in particle physics. She has read many of the technical summaries because the full reports are beyond her level of comprehension. She thinks it interesting that this work is similar to the work being done at CERN’s collider in Geneva. SageSys has advanced the technology so that they can do some of the same type of experiments in a smaller area. She knows from her reading that scientists used to fear the inadvertent (or deliberate) creation of black holes and all sorts of science-fictional destruction. But, that was at least twenty years ago and she would know if there were problems with the recent research.

She shakes her head and feels her stomach turn with butterflies on an adrenalin-fueled flying session. This company is always pushing the envelope and doing dangerous things outside of the terms of the contract and then trying to get more money. Her boss made it clear that contract compliance was on her so she would have to beat up the engineers if they try to push the work to the next level of testing. They listen. Usually. Sometimes they try to use their technical understanding to talk around her; but she can get them back to the language in the contract. Today was going to be one long day of telling them ’no’ and then having to say it again ten different ways. She hoped a morning run would take the edge off her nerves so that she could eat something before leaving for the briefing sessions.

"I hate my job" she thinks for the thousandth time since she left for the airport the previous night.

A few yards into the woods she sees that the paved path comes to a V. One side looks wide enough for bikes and pedestrians to pass each other and it wound into the trees and disappeared in the near-dark of the morning. The other is unpaved and goes up toward the hills. She loves this time of day and she hopes the path goes up high enough so that she can see the sunrise through the trees. She only has time for a short run and wants to make it a good one.

As Valerie starts off, she feels stiff and uncoordinated like she always does at the beginning – especially after lack of sleep. She has been running for years, but still feels like a beginner. Running is one of her few outlets in a life composed of too much stress, not enough friends and a distant family. She tries to keep it slow and easy; she feels her left ankle pop and release some pressure from an old sprain and also the spot in her lower back that feels like metal grinding on metal. In two or three minutes, she settles into her pace, and feels pretty good as the path rises into the woods. Fifteen minutes later she stops to stretch and take a look around, breathing heavily. The sunrise is glowing on the horizon, though she can only see it in pieces through the thick woods. The trees seem bigger here than back home outside of Boston. A mix of hardwood and some kind of evergreen - pine or spruce. They are giants. The green new leaves are a sharp contrast to the brown of the forest floor - everything standing out clearly. Valerie takes a deep breath of cool air and knows that this is the best she’ll feel all day.

Warm now, she finishes her stretch, and starts back out on the loop down to the hotel for a quick shower. Her eyes are looking at her feet and her mind is on the day to come. She thinks about the suit she brought and whether it has too many wrinkles, and about the strand of pearls and gold earrings she left on the vanity in the bathroom. She really has to play the part today.

Her stomach flops once more as she continues to think and worry.

"One thing at a time.” She says out loud, giving herself a pep talk.

Valerie wishes she could stay out on the path all day. She couldn’t run more than a couple of miles, but she could walk for hours. She notices again how huge the trees are as she starts down-hill on the sloping path.

"At least I had a chance to..." The thought is cut short with an explosive ‘crack’ to her head, a brief feeling of falling and then, nothing.

An hour later, four of Valerie’s coworkers leave for the SageSys facility in one car while three others stand around waiting for her.

“She’s never late.” A tall thin engineer in khakis and clunky shoes shifts his weight and adjust his backpack from one to the other shoulder. “Does anyone have her number?”

Phil pulls out his phone and calls.

“No answer – it goes to voicemail. She must have caught a ride already. Let’s go.”

“The results are off the chart, but it will take more time to complete the root cause analysis of the energy anomalies.” The SageSys engineer fidgets nervously as he briefs his boss on his program status before the Government overseers arrive.

“OK, Ken, but I need at least an idea of the potential here. Are we talking ’this is an interesting by-product of our program’ or can you verify the practical application we are looking for?”

Douglas O’Brien was the Executive Program Manager for the division and needed to show progress to his superiors. There were potential foreign purchasers and he was already planning on the substantial bonus he would receive if he could present a proof of concept. He was walking a fine line - keep the Government money coming by asking for more time to deliver the data and reports the contract called for, and keeping the secret of the company’s successful attempts to open a hole in the universe. He couldn’t say whether it was a hole in time or space. Or time-space. He was an engineer by training, but had been working on the business side for so long he no longer kept up with the technology. He had an army of engineers working for him and he was impatient for the fat bank account he could build with the money various governments of the world would pour into SageSys for the possibility of moving their armies through the openings he believed they were on the verge of creating.

“Definitely more than interesting, Sir. We are close.”

O’Brien smiled and went back to reviewing the innocuous briefing that would be delivered to the DARPA engineers that morning. He hoped their Contracting Officer, Ms. Cullen, would ask fewer questions than usual today.

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