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Blood Moon by Heather Graham & Jon Land

Excerpt: Blood Moon by Heather Graham & Jon Land

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Blood Moon by Heather Graham & Jon Land

The action-packed follow up to The Rising, from acclaimed thriller-suspense novelists Heather Graham and Jon Land, this is Blood Moon.

The recipient of RWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and ITW’s ThrillerMaster Award, Heather Graham is at the pinnacle of her career. Now she’s teamed up with USA Today bestselling author Jon Land to continue the story of high school seniors Alex Chin and Samantha Dixon.

They may have managed to win a major battle against the powerful enemy determined to destroy civilization as we know it. But the war continues, with Alex and Sam embarking on a desperate journey to save mankind, even as their friendship blossoms into something much more.

The roadmap for their journey lies in a mysterious book, the language of which has never been deciphered, until Alex finds himself able to translate the words that may hold the keys to saving the future. Toward that end, Alex’s and Sam’s quest spirits them away to a myriad of locations around the world, each of which holds another piece of the puzzle that can defeat the alien invaders.

But an ageless foe, long the guardian of the secrets his race has left behind on Earth, arises to stop them at all costs. At his disposal is a deadly and merciless army that has been awaiting this very war, an army as unstoppable as it is relentless.

Over the ruins of the lost Mayan city of El Mirador, a blood moon is about to rise, triggering the end of mankind unless Alex and Sam can prevail in a struggle that will determine the fate of the planet. As forces both ancient and modern converge, as painful choices must be made and sacrifices accepted, two young heroes will rise again to stand as the final line of defense to preserve their world and their love.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Blood Moon by Heather Graham & Jon Land, on sale 11/8/22


1

WASTELAND

“Stay with us!” Skye, the leader of the fighters, ordered Raiff. “We can’t protect you if you stray!”

The route they needed to cover would take them across an urban landscape dominated by collapsed or crumbling buildings. The machines, massive steel-tentacled monsters as big as buildings themselves, swept through the area, slicing away at anything that moved. The initial flank of Resistance fighters had emerged from their hiding spots to draw the machines’ attention away from the small group using the rubble for camouflage, sacrifices to a higher purpose.

Raiff smelled death in the air. It rose from the bodies strewn amid the wreckage of a landscape once dominated by towers of gleaming glass and steel, now riddled with blight. Only eighteen years old, he had no recollection of anything but death and destruction. His earliest memories from childhood were of hiding from the machines, the tentacled monsters and fighter drones programmed to kill anything that moved.

Raiff drew even with Skye behind the remnant of a building’s foundation.

“They’re looking for us, aren’t they?” he said to the woman he knew to be one of the Resistance’s best fighters, having led missions that had taken down murderous machines comparable to these.

Skye almost managed a smile. “You figure that out all by yourself?”

Raiff looked at her, sharing enough in common with her physically so they appeared as brother and sister. Same dark hair, same soulful eyes somewhere between black and brown, same smile on those rare occasions when one came.

They both watched as a fighter drone descended from the gray, smoky sky toward a phalanx of fighters trying to draw the machines away from them. A silent burst of plasma fire blew the machines apart and spewed pieces of them in all directions.

“You must be awfully important,” Skye said to him, easing herself back from the concealed position.

“I wish I knew why. It’s not like I’ve ever done anything.” “Well, kid, you’re about to.”

Skye led the fighters enclosing Raiff through a gap in the rubble, seizing on a moment when the attention of all the machines looking for them was trained on their decoys. They covered the next hundred yards without incident, starting to believe they were actually going to make it when the fighter bringing up the rear stepped on a land mine.

“Oh, shit,” he managed before he was vaporized into a red mist.

Raiff watched the rolling monsters and the fighter drones swing in their direction.

“Come on!” Skye roared, breaking into an all-out run down a rubble-strewn road that once had been the main artery for this city. She managed to steady and fire her plasma grenade launcher as she ran, knocking out the hardware of one of the tentacled machines, jolting it to a halt in mid-stride. Raiff couldn’t believe his eyes, never

having witnessed one of the monsters stopped by a single shot.

Skye and other fighters trained their fire on two more of the towering things, never seeing the fighter drone hovering just behind them. Raiff screamed a warning just as it opened fire and felt Skye tackle him, using her body as cover amid the refuse.

“Stay down!” she blared into his ear.

Raiff felt a wash of heat and something wet soaking through his clothes. He heard Skye gasp and realized she’d been hit, as he eased himself out from under her and tried to drag her along with him after the drone had passed over them.

“No,” Skye managed, “go!” Adding, when Raiff resisted, “Save yourself, save the mission . . .”

“Mission?”

“Go!”

Raiff jetted off, trying to find speed as he zigzagged through the obstacles in his path. No idea where he was going or what he would find if he got there. If only Elaina were here Elaina would know

what to do.

He heard the hum of another drone and dropped low, freezing too late to avert its motion sensors.

“Hey! Hey!”

He turned to find Skye on her knees, waving one arm while the other hung bloody and useless by her side.

“Hey, asshole, come get me!”

When the drone turned to do just that, Raiff sprinted off again, all caution thrown to the wind. Darting, leaping, and tearing along, all efforts aimed at concealment abandoned. He heard the sizzling hiss of the drone’s fire and didn’t bother looking back at the sound of Skye’s final scream. Just kept running.

Toward where? For what?

Raiff cut between the splintered shapes of twin towers that had been snapped like matchsticks. His feet pounded atop a debris field, crunching over a combination of glass shards and human bones. Nothing before him that looked anything like the rendezvous point Skye and her fighters had been leading him to. Nothing before him at all.

He heard the familiar whine of a fighter drone settling into position and swung to find it frozen in the air, hovering fifty feet before him, a distance that made it look like they were face-to-face. Raiff squeezed his eyes closed, wondered what the next moment would feel like.

Boom!

Raiff opened his eyes to see the fighter drone explode. He dropped low to avoid the blast debris, turning as he rose to find a woman staring at him. She held a plasma grenade rifle in one arm, the other clutching a crying baby to her breast.

“Took you long enough to get here, kid,” Elaina said to him.

2

CONVERGENCE

Thomas Donati caught up with his NASA supervisor inside the elevator just before the door slid closed within the secret facility constructed in San Ramon, California. “You need to take a look at these figures.”

“I have,” Orson Wilder told him.

Wilder inserted a square, flat key into a slot tailored for it and turned it all the way to the right.

As the cab began its descent, Donati reached out and turned the pages Wilder was still holding around. “Right side up this time.”

Wilder sneered, then nodded grudgingly. “What am I looking for?”

“Signs.”

“Signs?”

“Of a potential cosmic celestial convergence of unprecedented proportions. Here, let me show you . . .”

The elevator whirred further downward.

“This earthquake in Tibet,” Donati continued, “a rogue wave wiping out an entire island in the South China Sea, the inexplicable malfunction of our interstellar monitors located in the northeast Pacific Ocean.” When Wilder failed to respond, Donati whipped a marker from his pocket and drew a circle on the elevator wall. “Picture this as the Earth. Here are the locations of the stimuli I just mentioned.” Donati drew X’s to accompany his continued narration. “Tibet, the South China Sea, the northeast Pacific Ocean. A neat line,” he finished, drawing his marker across the elevator wall to connect them, “perfectly following the curvature of the Earth. We’re talking about extreme seismic levels of quantum disruption, accompanied by radical spikes in the discharge of electromagnetic radiation. You see what I’m getting at here?”

“No, not really,” Wilder said impatiently.

“Our lab exists on the same plane as these apparently random events. Our work could be causing disruptions leading to ripples in the time-space continuum. Or . . .”

The cab settled to a halt twenty stories underground between a million tons of steel and reinforced concrete.

“Or what?”

“The pattern could indicate contact from the other side of the doorway we’re trying to open.”

3

THE BRIDGE

She was a mother, and one thing was imperative.

Saving her son.

“Take him, Raiff!” Elaina said, handing the infant over, once they had descended into one of the many underground bases used by the Resistance.

This one was different, though, Raiff realized. It hummed with electricity, far more than that normally provided by the limited power of the portable generators. It wasn’t just the hum either; he felt something, like a constant vibration, at his very core.

“But—”

“No buts! We’ve been betrayed! They knew we were here, which means they know about our plan!”

“What plan?”

“Take him!” Elaina ordered, pushing the infant into Raiff’s arms.

It was the first time he’d ever held a baby and he struggled for the right grasp. “You’re the one who should go.”

“You’re the warrior, Raiff. Far better suited to protect him once you get there. And he’ll need protection—both of us know that. It’s only a matter of time before they come. They always come.”

Raiff held the infant stiffly in his arms. I’m just a boy myself, he wanted to say. But he knew what Elaina would say in return because he’d heard the story so often of the time his own parents had been killed trying to do the same thing they were doing now.

Escape.

The Overlords were determined to seize absolute control and they placed little value on life in general and certainly not when their rule was threatened or questioned in any way.

But this was about more than escape. This was about survival.

“I don’t know enough about the plan,” Raiff said, holding his ground.

“Keep the boy safe—that’s the plan. The others will find you when you get there.”

Back down the tubular-shaped steel hall, the small-arms fire had become more sporadic, the last of their party falling to the enemy’s vastly superior numbers and firepower.

“Go,” Elaina said, her voice soft but emphatic. “There’s no more time.”

Her tone reassured him, made him feel there was still hope. Raiff wanted to ask her why him? Of all the fighters she could have chosen for this mission, why choose one who was no more than a kid? Raiff knew the infant was the key, the reason so many had given their lives to get him this far. Something about the infant was important enough to make a mother relinquish her own child.

“He knows the way,” Elaina said, stroking the baby’s head and watching his eyes widen as he looked at her, smiling at the loving touch.

“The way to what?”

Elaina backed off stiffly, the infant suddenly feeling unsteady in Raiff’s grasp. “Trust me. This is our only chance. We can help them win, help them preserve their world and save ours in the process. The child is the key.”

“You’ve got to come too, please!” Raiff implored. “I can’t do this alone!”

Elaina wiped the tears that had started to spill from her eyes. “Somebody has to operate the controls from this end, and you don’t know how. And someone needs to destroy the bridge once you’re through so they can’t follow. Take this,” Elaina said, pressing a cylindrical object into his free hand.

“What is it?”

“You’ll know when the time comes. It’s the only weapon that can destroy . . .”

“Destroy what?” Raiff managed, pocketing the ball-sized object.

“Let’s hope you never have to find out. Call it a precaution.”

Elaina entered a sequence into an unmarked keypad, fingers dancing up, down, then up again. The heavy door before them spiraled open, disappearing into the walls contoured to its shape.

“Go!” she ordered. “You need to go now!”

Copyright © 2022 from Heather Graham & Jon Land

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