by William Greenleaf
When a brilliant point of light appears in the southern sky, Nathan Oakes is finishing his early-morning run in Manhattan, Kathy Stratton is preparing to give a speech in San Francisco, Nikki Jamison is dreaming peacefully in her home near Phoenix, and Oscar Villalobos is grappling with the guilt that fuels his nightmares. None are yet aware of how much that strange point of light will change their lives.
By the time it begins sending a digital signal, though, Kathy Stratton, science advisor to the president, knows that a turning point in the human story has been reached. Aliens have made contact.
Soon after the aliens land on a rural stretch of road west of Phoenix, Arizona, Nikki Jamison and Oscar Villalobos slip unnoticed into the tiny red spaceship and learn the hard way that Zeke and Simon aren’t the friendly back-slappers they pretend to be. The “great opportunity” they’re offering to the people of Earth isn’t so great, after all. Trapped in a weird, impossibly vast labyrinth inside the ship, knowing their chances for survival are slim, Nikki and Oscar learn about the complex network of interaction between sentient species throughout the universe, and the elegantly simple system of laws that hold it all together. These laws are supposed to protect backwater planets like Earth, but Zeke and Simon have found clever ways to twist the law to their own advantage. The horrible truth finally emerges. A partnership deal with Zeke and Simon will not bring riches to the human race. Instead, it will bring extinction.
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