Sunday, December 15, 2013

'Unit 51 (Project Solstice #3)' by V.G. Harrison

Title: Unit 51
Author: V.G. Harrison
Series: Project Solstice, Book #3


The aliens have stepped up their game via a series of pinpointed EMP attacks, starting with the weapons research base Unit 51. Like the base, Ava learns just how vulnerable she is after another EMP strike not only cuts her off from Ian 2, but crashes her plane. Her only hope for rescue is a small, Canadian town where the residents are werewolves.

They know about Project Solstice, and they're not the only ones. Dozens of supernaturals have joined forces to share not only their technological advances, but to prepare for a confrontation with Project Solstice. When an EMP barrage is launched on the supernaturals’ “safe ground”, it’s proof that the real war is with everyone on Earth regardless of their race.

A temporary truce has humans and supernaturals joining forces. But is anyone safe with paranoia, bigotry, and treachery running rampant among the Unit 51 ranks? Will Ava stay off an alien dissection table after mentally connecting with the alien war ship?

Read an excerpt:
An ear-piercing signal scrambled the images across the command center. Several techs yanked out their earpieces, screeched, or both. Darkness blanketed the room. Red emergency lights flipped on from a backup generator buried deep under the base where more than a thousand people monitored unusual activity throughout the world and beyond. Dozens of technicians scrambled to figure out what had happened in their so-called secured world alone.

The command center door slid open without the low hiss of the motor. The person on the other side opened it manually with the crank behind a panel in the wall. A woman stormed in wearing a dark gray jumpsuit that looked like something a pilot would wear. She had colonel stripes across the sleeve and a nametag that read Warbaugh. She stood front and center of the room like she was fresh and alert, though it was after three in the morning. She had probably been asleep, like most on Unit 51.

“What hell is going on?” Colonel Warbaugh demanded.

A tech turned in his chair, his face stolid, as though he knew to check his emotions at the door. “We’ve just been hit by an electromagnetic pulse.”

“A pulse?” She marched over to where he sat and bent slightly to see the fluctuating readings on his console. “EM pulses should’ve knocked out everything.” She glanced around the room, watching as system after system revived itself. Thank goodness their otherworldly technology made it possible to recover faster than anyone else on the planet.

The technician’s fingers slid across his keyboard. “It’s a pulse, but…there’s something strange about it. I put it through the analyzer and an EM pulse is the closest thing it’s related to.”

“It wasn’t a pulse,” another tech said.

Warbaugh turned and stared. “Explain.”

He continued to slide his finger across the touchscreen, pulling one wavelength after another on top of each other and pressing several buttons on a virtual keyboard as he went. “Gamma radiation is usually a characteristic of E1 and E2, but I’m not detecting anything. It doesn’t have the geomagnetic quality that’s usually seen in a solar storm either. That’s a characteristic of an E3 EMP. This was more like a probe. To figure out where the backdoors were into our system. It’s like someone wanted to gain a tactical advantage, ma’am.”

“More like prepare for an invasion.” She straightened, determination and ire riddling her eyes. “Get the other 51 bases online. Send them a level-one communication. Let them know we’ve been probed and that our systems have been compromised.”

He hesitated. “Are you sure you want to wake everyone across Solstice without any more information? I mean—I don’t have any more information than that because I’m still waiting for most of the system to finish rebooting.”

She glared at him. “Sergeant Raferty, when I want your opinion, you’ll be a Council member. Until that happens, you’ll follow my orders without question. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Continue your diagnostic. You’ll need it for the meeting.”

He gulped. “Excuse me?”

“Well, sergeant, since you’re so eager to get more information, you should be happy to present what you have so far. Unless you have a problem with being thrown to the wolves.”

He turned, fingers shaking so bad that he could hardly move the images into place on the touchscreen again. “N-n-no, ma’am.”

“Good. Prepare to be eaten alive.” Warbaugh walked away knowing she’d be the first to tear him to shreds, if he didn’t have his facts together. Tearing him apart in front of the officials would be even better, because it would teach him a lesson about countermanding her orders. “Damage report?” she said to no one in particular.

A woman turned in her chair. “The pseudo-EM pulse hit everything with an electrical current, except for what’s in our physiology. Whatever damage our network systems suffered, we’re in the middle of repairs, and so far I can’t detect any rebooting problems. Everything is coming up as though nothing had ever happened.”

“I want a sweep of the base. Include the outside perimeter. I want security beefed up around all of our special projects. Also, wake up our contacts in the neighboring Canadian towns and tell them to keep an eye on the residents.”

“Would you like our pilots on alert?” another tech asked.

Warbaugh paused. Until there was a threat they could lock on to, it didn’t make sense to have one of their most prized possessions on standby. She wanted them fresh. Not sitting around and dozing off while waiting for an attack to happen. “No. But I want the skies scanned. Let me know the second you see something that doesn’t look right. In the meantime, I want a complete analysis done on that signal. I want to know who sent it, where it came from, and can they do it again. I want to know—”

“It came from our solar system,” Sergeant Raferty said, more confident than he had been a minute ago. “I’m trying to line up trajectories now, but the problem is I’m not getting a line to the alien-invasion fleet from the Pleiades.”

Impressed at his comeback, but unwilling to show it, Colonel Warbaugh approached him again. “Explain.”

Confused, he shook his head. “No matter how hard I try to project the EM pulse with known space anomalies and how their astrophysical properties might affect the signal’s paths, I can’t get the Pleiades to line up. So I tried something else. I took away all of the physical properties and the computer says it came from within our solar system. Our own planet, to be exact.”

What the fuck is going on? Colonel Warbaugh chewed her bottom lip like she wanted to draw blood. She squelched her wrath into a low, direct tone. “First, I want the Board wakened and their pretty little heads on consoles in the next five minutes. Second, I want to know exactly where that signal originated. Have a ground crew on standby ready to dispatch to that position at a moment’s notice. Third, this base goes on lockdown until this is figured out. No one comes or goes. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good.” She stepped away, but stopped. “Oh, and Raferty? This doesn’t win you any favors with me. If anything, you’ve only dug your hole deeper.”

With that, she walked out of the command center ready to hunt down the first cup of coffee she could find. This was going to be a long night. Maybe, if she was lucky, she might be able to grab a nap around noon.


Space epics involve the hero wanting to be the best fighter pilot in the fleet or captaining a starship. I just wanted to survive my insane science-fiction world. The easiest way to do that was to put some distance between myself and the catalyst: an enormous government conspiracy that involved the supernatural world’s alien origins. Even though the year was 2014, I had seen things that would say we were about four hundred years into our future. Too bad the rest of the human population didn’t about know it. Too bad the supernatural world did and wanted to do something about it. They want their ancestral technology back.

Closing the door to my car, a smile brightened my face. I grabbed three eco-friendly bags of groceries before shutting the trunk.

It was nice to have a home to go to that didn’t involve having to look over my shoulder. I had two undercover bodyguards for that. To everyone in the upscale townhouse community, they were exchange students studying at the University of Toronto. As for me, my cover was that I taught computer science fundamentals at the university.

I hated my job.

Thankfully—never thought I’d say that—I worked as a consultant for Project Solstice’s Department 51. At least they put my skills as a software engineer to use. I hated project management and the System Development Life Cycle. I hated Agile and Waterfall methodologies. If I ever found the person who came up with my job at the university, I’d slam their face between the pages of the required textbook.

“Hold on a sec.” Vinny, one of my undercover bodyguards, hurried to catch up, three of his own bags in tow.

Using my foot, I kept the door open for him in my separate garage. “You’re going to get tired of following me around, you know.” “I’m already tired. Not to mention your class is boring.” He motioned for me to continue across the stone path through my small backyard and up to my backdoor. As always, I stood aside while he used his key to trigger the lock. Even though the alarm went off when he entered the house, he put in his personal code to shut it off.

A 3-D woman’s face appeared from a projector hidden in the ceiling’s speakers. “Welcome, Agent Krennon. The house is secured.” Meaning nobody broke in. I pushed past him and placed my finger-choking bags on the black granite kitchen island. I massaged my digits before putting away the groceries. “We should think about patenting my home security system. We could make a fortune, you know.”

“Find another get-rich-quick scheme.” Vinny closed the door. “If anyone even suspected you had this technology, we’d have to declare a gas leak, evacuate the neighborhood, and blow it to kingdom come.”

I stopped mid-unpacking and stared. “A little extreme, much?”

“Not in this case.” He continued toward my pantry, where he reached around the topmost shelf and pressed a button. A click and the shelves pushed forward and to the side. A light clicked on in the four-foot wall space between our townhouses. Another door opened on the other side. “Are you planning to attend the homeowner’s association meeting?”

I paused. “No offense, but do I look that desperate?”

“No, but you seem to have this thing for boredom.”

I turned and allowed a tiny smirk to make its way to my lips. That was a good one, considering he knew I abhorred my assignment as much as he did. He must have thought he was being punished by having to protect me. Once I composed myself, I asked, “Are we doing dinner together or separate tonight?”

He shrugged. “It depends. What are you cooking?”

I held up a pack of steaks. “If one of you guys start the grill, I’ll provide the meat.”

“I take back everything I said about your class.” He turned and headed into the passageway. “Give me fifteen minutes and I’ll have a fire so hot those steaks will wish they were back on the cow.”

“A yellow alert has been issued across all 51 bases.” A yellow halo blinked around the 3-D model’s head like an aura. The words “yellow alert” blinked across anything with a display.

Vinny returned through the passageway, startled, but all business. “Report.”

The 3-D imaged blinked out and a new one replaced it.

To this day, I’d never get over my dead brother’s computerized image living inside Project Solstice’s network and throughout the internet. He was better than any bodyguard was because he was imprinted with Ian’s personality, though he was self-sufficient and the most highly advanced computer program on the planet. Probably beyond, too, but that had yet to be proven.

“Unit 51 has been attacked,” he said.

“Attacked?” I asked.

“By what? When?” Vinny leaned over the island, holding on to every word and not caring that he was actually corresponding with a program.

“It’s unclear at this point, but it looks like someone might have fired a pulse wave at the base and caused a blackout. All of their systems were down for a while, but they’re back up now. Colonel Warbaugh just reported it and is asking for assistance in trying to figure out what happened. As for when it happened, 3:19 this morning. Local time.”

“What does Unit 51 do?” I asked.

Vinny waved a hand. “It doesn’t matter. Right now, we need to—”

“Their primary task is to develop aircraft and machinery using alien technology,” Ian 2 said, ignoring my bodyguard. “Currently, they’re working on creating longer-range spacecraft that can go beyond our solar system.”

I smiled and folded my arms. Checkmate, buddy. Unlike you, I actually have someone working on the inside who won’t keep me at arm’s length until I’m needed. “You mean they have spaceships that have gone beyond the moon?”


“Discover what you want. But I have my orders.” The agent placed his bags on the counter and pulled his cell phone from his waistband. Walking toward the living room, he called whomever he needed to contact and kept his voice low.

I closed the distance to Ian 2’s 3-D head. “Do you have anything else on the pulse?”

“No. If you’d like, I could do a diagnostic. However, I must consult Colonel Kendrick first. That was one of the agreements we made in an effort to put expunging me from the system as priority number ten and not number one. His words, if you’d recall.”

Yeah, I knew those words. Even though Ian 2 had been tremendously helpful to everyone in Project Solstice, he was also a liability because he wasn’t invented with the military discipline that everyone else had. In a way, the program was as rogue as anyone could get. So rather than have everyone on their guard and constantly wasting time to track him across the network, I convinced Colonel Kendrick that the best way to deal with him was to come to an agreement. Of course, he thought it was crazy to have to work out an arrangement with what amounted to a software application. Over the past year, he had changed his mind drastically and learned to trust me, knowing my word was as good as Ian 2’s.

“Fine,” I said. “Contact him. Let him know that you can probably do a diagnostic faster than anyone else on the base.”

“It’s not him I’m worried about. It’s Colonel Warbaugh. She’s made it clear that no one outside of human DNA is allowed on her base unless it’s by strict orders from the Board. That includes me, since I’m a program.”


“Yes. She is very aware of how you became to be a part of Project Solstice, as well as Elias. She’s not the least bit impressed, as she has said.”

I shook my head, astonished and puzzled by the level of prejudice this woman had—and she hadn’t even met me. With a little luck, she never would, being that the base was located on Ellesmere Island in Canada. Given that there were about 150 people on the tenth-largest island in the world, it was highly unlikely that anyone would notice a sophisticated base of operations there. From what I understood, the Canadian government was perfectly fine with that, since they had an eleven percent stake in Project Solstice. Australia had five.

Just as Vinny stepped back into the room, Doug came through the passageway. Vinny clipped his phone back in place. “We all have one hour to pack and then we’re moving to a more secure location.”

“What?” Fear began to rifle through me. “But why? There hasn’t been any—”

“Do you need to ask?” He started for the backdoor again. “We take the truck and head to the airport. Colonel Kendrick will have a private jet waiting for us there.”

“Waiting for us to go where and for how long?” Sadly, I was thinking about how much to pack and what I should tell my parents during their weekly call.

“Hong Kong.”

I blinked. “Hong what?”

“Hong Kong. That’s your newly assigned safe site.”

“Safe site? China? Not that I’m complaining, but how is that a safe site? I mean—why not prance me around in Bangladesh to make sure we’re covering our bases? Doesn’t witness protection normally happen in the States, anyway?”

He grinned, anything but friendly. “You now have fifty-eight minutes.”

Vinny continued outside and to the garage where I parked my car. A few seconds after he disappeared inside, the power to the house was completely shut off and the temporary backup turned on. Just enough power to keep communications open, but that was it. That, from my understanding, was protocol.

Book Buy Links


Also check out Book 1: Section 51

While investigating her brother's strange behavior, Ava Frost uncovers a government secret that will alter the entire world. Vampires, werewolves, witches. They all have their own origins, and Earth isn't it. These creatures are the ancestors of aliens who have crash-landed on the Earth throughout history. But that's not what scares Ava the most. It's what our government did with the debris.


And Book 2: Department 51

Ava Frost has a choice. Either she can help Department 51 figure out the alien signal that has been transmitting from Earth or she can spend the rest of her life in jail. When a MIB-type man convinces her to take the plea deal with Department 51, her fears have only started. Her dead brother has left her something to remember him by. Something that might be more dangerous than the alien invasion.

Author Bio

Science fiction has been my love since I was a little kid who purposely tried to stay up at 11pm to watch Star Trek. When Star Wars hit the scene, I would've given anything--even pay a total stranger--to watch it everyday at the movie theatre. Of course, my parents would've yanked me out of my seat by the scruff of my neck. all-time favorite is Alien 2. And here I thought Alien wouldn't be topped.

So what does any of this have to do with me and my writing? Well, I've been writing for a few years now and even though I watch a lot of sci-fi, I don't read it nearly as much of it as I do urban fantasy and horror. So, it made sense to combine the two and come up with my Project Solstice series.

Between the day job, family, and enjoying life as a North Carolinian implant, I'm catching up on episodes of The Walking Dead, Dr. Who, and Teen Wolf (it's a guilty pleasure--honest). Of course, it helps when you own seasons of Firefly, Stargate, and The 4400 on DVD.

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