Ragnarok by Michael Smorenburg

Worlds Collide Book 1
by Michael Smorenburg
Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Suspense

A secret NASA experiment gone wrong, the chaos that erupts, and one reporter seeking the truth who chases leads where she shouldn't.

On a flight from Paris to Los Angeles Tegan Mulholland is intrigued & charmed by Pete, the mysterious stranger sitting beside her. But when their plane almost falls from the sky and other jets in her vicinity wink from the radar, the official explanations that follow reek to Tegan's retired investigative journalist mind of cover up.

What is not declared:
A secret NASA experiment has warped a column of time instead of space, plucking with it the planes out of our era, and a band of Norse warriors from the Vinland colony millennia ago into our epoch.
Rowing eastward and back to Iceland, the contrail of Tegan's plane appearing after the strange aurora and moving westward high above, the Norsemen conclude are Odin's order to return to Vinland and unknowingly toward the modern day Canadian coast, where, just days--yet a thousand years before--the skraeling Indians had driven them out.

As news reports flood Tegan's living room of bloodshed and massacre, speculating about which gang of roughly dressed bearded marauders are responsible for mass-murder around the quiet Canadian coast, Tegan develops a hunch that there is more to the story than it seems. She quits her Hollywood Exec job and embarks on an odyssey that leads inexorably ever closer toward the Norsemen's hidden lair.

Only Pete, the Lockheed consultant she had steadily fallen in love with during the harrowing flight and since, has any hope of saving her.

If you enjoy intrigue, conspiracy and romantic suspense, Ragnarok will grip your imagination and not let go.

Situation Room, DARPA, Arlington, Virginia
Thursday, 19 August
Latitude: 38°52'43"N
Longitude: 77°6'31"W
Just then, the General of the Joint Special Operations held up his hand. “I have Captain Andres of the USS Iwo Jima on video feed. Let me first paint a sitrep. The test was performed on the Southeast Indian Ridge. The site was chosen because adjacent water depths are down to the five-thousand-meter range. The Ridge is half that, offering the possibility of anchor points. Captain?”

The Captain remained silent, looking in the camera and out from the monitors at the various locations tuned in.

“Captain…?” the President prompted. “You have something for us?”

“Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen… I… I’m afraid not. Or nothing specific…” he hesitated. 
 “We’ve found something and have a visual but it makes no sense, sir.”

“You do not have the rig, yes or no?” The General cut directly to the issue.

“I’m afraid, sir… we’re not certain. We have run over an area of ninety square miles and picked up nothing but two of its four anchors. The ROV is on the location now with images, sir… And we see something, but we are not sure what it is. We are sending a magnetometer down on a second ROV.”

“The magnetometer identifies metals,” the General clarified. “But, I don’t understand, Captain. You either have it on visuals or you don’t. Which is it?”

“We have the anchors on visual, General… they are the anchors, no question…. But…”

“I’m sorry Captain, this line is clear, but you are not. Confirm. You do or you do not have the rig? Is the rig attached to the anchors, yes or no?”

“Well… y… yes, General. Yes, it is.”

“Then where lies the problem, Captain?”

“It’s corroded, sir. The rig. The anchors are bright and new. Pristine. The rig, or what’s left of it still attached to the anchors, is… well… encrusted. The geometry’s there, but it… it’s canted over, half buried in silt and completely obscured with sea life.”

The frowns were infectious.

“Captain. I’m afraid, you’re not making any sense to us,” the President cut in.

“I appreciate that, sir. It’s the situation that’s not making sense. I am conveying the situation as it presents itself. Accurately. The magnetometer will arrive bottom-side in approximately fifteen minutes and we can begin the scans to confirm it’s a steel structure. It’s that badly overgrown.”

“Then just describe to us what you are seeing.”

“I have the visuals up, sir.”

The captain’s voice ran over the streaming video shot over the past hour.

As the ROV progressed down the anchoring chains, tracing them as they’d fallen toward the stricken rig, the small audience drew in their breath and gaped in disbelief at what they were seeing.

A pristine and contemporary twenty-first century recently dropped anchor chain and cabling lay higgledy-piggledy in piles as it had fallen to the ocean floor. But as the ROV progressed, there was a distinct end to the cable yet its remnant pattern of confused piles continued on the same trajectory, obscured by mounds of silt, until the framework of the rig attached to that cabling appeared, standing proud, canted over and half submerged on the bottom.

The only clue that it was the rig was its distinct angular geometry.

It was draped in sea life. Gently swaying gardens of coral ferns disturbed by the ROV’s arrival on scene and a menagerie stocked with assorted living things of the deep: big-eyed fishes, eels and crab-like monsters in miniature of every kind poked their heads out from the encrusted wreckage.

The evidence was there before their eyes—the slow pace of life two and more kilometers below the ocean had somehow built homes, layer upon layer and generation upon generation, in the days since the rig went down—but its anchors and chain remained unfouled.

“What exactly are we looking at?” The Secretary of State was the first to break the stunned silence.

“Th… this is why I could not conclusively say we had found it, Ma’am,” the Captain stammered. 
“We don’t understand. The magnetometer should give us readings and we will try to retrieve some of the wreckage.”

There was silence in the room. A worried silence, all questions of strategy that might have been asked about the recovery now made moot by the evidence that there was little to recover.

“Mr. President, anything else…? Brigadier? Madam Secretary?”

All in the room shook their heads and the Deputy National Security Advisor held up a finger.
“May I propose that we hold the Russians off until we retrieve the anchors and then let them in… to at least diffuse the tensions?”

Michael Smorenburg (b. 1964) grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. An entrepreneur with a passion for marketing, in 1995 Michael moved to California where he founded a business consultancy and online media and marketing engine in the burgeoning internet. In 2003 he returned to South Africa where he launched a security company. In 2015 he divested of the business to write full time. Michael's greatest love is the ocean, keeping up with the latest breakthroughs in science, understanding the cosmos and sharing all he learns.

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