Race to Witch Mountain

Race to Witch Mountain by James Ponti

Book: Race to Witch Mountain by James Ponti Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Ponti
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CHAPTER 1
    H igh above the Nevada desert, a fireball blazed across the night sky, its orange-and-red flames trailing along the horizon. It did not go unnoticed. Inside NORAD—the North American Aerospace Defense Command—a group of highly trained specialists observed the fireball.
    Buried deep beneath Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, NORAD had top secret and state-of-the-art equipment designed to detect missiles launched by other countries. But this fireball had not come from another country. It had come from much, much , farther away. In fact, the scientists had been following its path on radar long before it even reached Earth’s atmosphere.
    Now they were trying to determine if it was just a random piece of space junk—such as an old satellite or a meteor—falling to earth or if it were something else.
    A senior analyst named Pleasence observed the steady stream of data flashing across his computer. He coolly relayed it to the group assembled behind him. “Object of unknown origin is at ninety K and descending fast,” Pleasence said.
    Ninety thousand feet was just over seventeen miles above the earth’s surface. At the speed it was traveling, it would only be a matter of seconds before it hit the ground.
    â€œZero match with anything in our database,” Pleasence continued. Suddenly something else caught his attention. He paused, unsure if he should pass it along. Could he be reading the data right? “It’s . . . maneuvering.”
    The fact that it was maneuvering meant that it was definitely not a meteor or satellite falling toward Earth. Something, or someone , was steering the object.
    All eyes were on the wall of video monitors. They watched as the fireball streaked faster and faster across the sky. Then it slammed into the earth and plowed deep into the desert floor.
    Standing toward the back of the room, General Lawton observed the screens. He had risen to the rank of four-star general because he knew what to do in any situation—including this one. He turned to a young man sitting at the communication center.
    â€œGet me Henry Burke on the phone,” he ordered. “Now!”
    H enry Burke had a lean face with dark, secretive eyes. He rarely talked, and when he did, he revealed nothing of himself. There were only two things about him that his coworkers knew for absolute certainty: he was brilliant and he did not rest until a mission was completed.
    Within seconds of receiving the call from NORAD, Burke was taking long strides down the main corridor that ran through the heart of the Witch Mountain military base. In his hands, he clutched a top secret file. Two of his team members, Matheson and Pope, were practically running just to keep up with him.
    Their footsteps echoed through the corridor until they burst through a pair of doors into a hangar where a flight crew had just finished prepping three Black Hawk helicopters. A military wing commander named Carson was waiting.
    â€œSquad and equipment locked and loaded,” Carson informed Burke.“I’ve rerouted local law and media.”
    This was important. Even though the fireball had landed in a desolate part of the desert, someone may have seen it. The last thing the team needed was a small-town sheriff or an ambitious young news reporter in the way at the crash site. To control the situation, they would have to be the first ones on the scene.
    Once all the evidence of the impact had been cleared away, and Burke and his team determined just what had crashed, they could tell the press whatever they wanted. A slight smile crossed Burke’s face as he thought about what the cover story might be. Maybe they could say it was a research balloon, just as one of his predecessors had claimed at Roswell, New Mexico, more than sixty years earlier.
    In moments, the roar of three helicopters filled the hangar and the Black Hawks lifted off from Witch Mountain. They zoomed toward the crash site, flying just above

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