Chapter 1, Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints.

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Excerpts from the Published Works of Richard Bangs

Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints

 

Listening Post Sentinel orbiting Saturn moon Titan:

January 26, 2088:

16:25 Greenwich Mean Time:

 

           Jarrod McKinley shivered as a tingle raced down his spine. He recognized it as a warning sign and looked over his shoulder out the window of the listening post he commanded.

           The view still stunned him. The debris-strewn rings of Saturn spread out before him, the huge, colorful planet tilted 45 degrees, just floating there like the childhood model he used to have hanging from his bedroom ceiling in the farmhouse in Montana.

 

----

 

            There it was again, that feeling. It was different, though, than the gentle nudging of nature he had learned to recognize while living on the farm.

 

            The disturbance he saw outside the listening post was like a wave and distorted the surrounding space–like a huge rolling ocean breaker, only tinged with fire. It had to be thousands of kilometers away, judging from the instruments, but McKinley could see it very plainly. It was spreading across space and filling the entire view out the observation window.

 

              Plumes of fires erupted as the wave gobbled up space debris as it bore down on the post. McKinley feared the small listening post wouldn't withstand the hit–either roasting them alive or exploding.

 

Forgiven: Finding a path home

 

             He was about to stop and confront the craft when a series of gunshots burst out and the dirt near him was kicked up by bullets.

 

            He started to jog again, in the direction of Hawker. But the craft moved around to try to cut him off, releasing a burst of gunfire with bullets spraying the ground in front of him. McKinley darted to his right and the craft let him go, shadowing him.

When he tried to move to his left, toward Hawker, the craft again moved in front of him and put down a spray of bullets.

 

            McKinley was struck with the realization that they wanted him alive, and didn’t want him to get to Hawker. “Well,” he said out loud. “I can play this game.”

 

           The next half hour was a lethal game of dodgeball, or dodge bullets. McKinley darted back and forth, always trying to work his way in the direction the craft did not want him to go, toward Hawker.

 

          As he became more bold, he came closer and closer to the spray of bullets put down to herd him.

 

          At one point, after a dodge in one direction and a dash in another, he ran right under the craft as he heard the hiss of the bullets whizzing past his head. That move angered those piloting the remote craft and this time when it circled around, it laid down a steady stream of bullets as it moved toward him.

 

         McKinley stopped and dropped to his knees. He was exhausted. He needed to rest. Still the craft moved toward him, bullets spitting into the ground. He was showered with dirt and braced himself for the impact of the bullets.

 

        The craft stopped just a meter in front of him. A voice emanating from the craft ordered: “Jarrod McKinley! Resistance is useless. Please move to the southwest in the direction of the oncoming vehicles.”

 

        McKinley spotted the black SUV raising a cloud of dust as it bounced over the rough outback. He saw guns protruding from the windows. He scanned his surroundings. There was nowhere to go.

 

        He glanced up at the craft hovering in front of him as it suddenly changed shape. From a whirling, crouching black menace, it changed into an orange fireball.

 

        McKinley threw himself down as the explosion raked over him.

 

 

Forgotten: A Stepping Stone to the Star

 

A distant planet in the Milky Way Galaxy, Earth date December 15, 2091.

 

       “Move, now!” Jarrod McKinley ordered. “We’ve got to get to high ground. Head for those boulders up there,” he shouted as a dozen creatures rushed toward them.

 

       The animals were about twice the size of a large American timber wolf. Their furry bodies were shaped like a lumpy triangle with three legs on what appeared to be the front of the creature and two legs at the back. A stumpy neck midway along the front of the triangle held a head with three wide-spread eyes, flaring nostrils and a mouth with large teeth bordered by huge canines dripping with saliva.

 

       His party of ten scrambled up the tree- and shrub-covered slope to the boulder field.

 

      “Liza, Bob, you’re with me,” McKinley ordered as he took a position near the top of the largest boulder. “Roger, create a left flank. John right flank. Bill, the rear. Remember, fire warning shots at first. Fire to kill only if necessary.”

 

      The creatures’ half howls, half screams drowned out some of the protest by Bob Brown as he settled on the rock next to McKinley.

 

     “... shouldn’t take chances. We have to protect ourselves,” Brown said.

 

     “We will, if necessary. Remember our orders — no kills until we determine the hierarchy of the plants and animals on this planet. And not until we make a value judgement on their intelligence. Do they have a society? Are they building a civilization?”

 

      The creatures were closingclosed in.

 

     “Fire the warning shots,” McKinley ordered, “Maximum concussion. Then put your sonic rifles on maximum stun.”

 

     The shots exploded from their weapons with a thunderous blast into the air. That seemed to slow the animals’ advance, but they kept coming.

 

     More warning shots were fired. Now the animals had them surrounded. The howls and screams subsided but were replaced by a grunting and snorts. They started circling the small group of explorers.

 

    “Well, I guess we know they have some intelligence and some communication skills,” Liza said.

 

     “Look, that one seems to be the leader,” said Brown, pointing to one of the larger and more aggressive animals.

 

     McKinley agreed. He stood on the boulder and pointed toward the animal and started to speak.

 

     “Jarrod, what the hell are you doing?” said Brown.

 

     “We’re here to find out if there are intelligent species onthis planet and how intelligent they are. Can this planet be part of the Grand Vision? Can it be colonized? Is this a species we need to communicate with?”

 

     As he was talking to the animal, it turned toward him and they locked eyes. McKinley saw no sign of intellect or understanding, just fear, hatred and fury.

The animal crouched and leapt at his throat.