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Antarctic, 2003. The Rundell Peak Research Center gathers a handle of scientists who work at the elaboration of hydroponic crops, food of the future for the account of the next space expeditions by the NASA. Its team has discovered a strange object buried under four meters of ice that does not cease to emit signals eard from the Falklands Islands to Arizona. Specialist in communication technics and graduated of the Stanford University in linguistic, Julian Rome is an former alien hunter. When the SETI, service specialized in listening messages from space, was no longer funded, he continued in a teaching career at the university. By the intermediary of his friend, Dr. John Bachman, Alexie Gierach, geneticist leading Rundell Peak calls Julian to help them to discover the origin of their discovery.
Peasants of the future!
In the worst meteorological conditions, the specially chartered plane miraculously lands near the research center, buried about twenty meters down under the iced ground, that shelters huge squeeze of transgenic crops. Julian is welcomed by the beautiful Nyla Wurtsen, Dr. Michael Straub's assistant, and by Alexie who leads him in the hangar where the object has been repatriated. Despite means put in place, the thick ice that surrounds it still inexorably to smelt. Julian soon meets Kate. Both know each other perfectly. Since the end of their relationships he stayed secretly in love with the one who was his student. Knowing Julian and the natural attraction he gets for women, Kate wishes he lives as soon as possible so as not to disturb the social life of the center.
The man puts at work but fear that the message emanating from the object, that behaves as an immense black box whose signals seem destined for those who lost it, is a warning. The last ice layer that surrounded it finaly breaks unveiling a king of meteor surrounded of a high electrical activity. No radio communication being possible because of the inclemency weather, it is decided to open the object despite Julian's objection.
Nyla and Julian try to decypher the message
After repeated unfruitful attempts, Julian finally succeed in deciphering the message that clearly announces «Do Not Open». It is too late, the repeated assaults for piercing the mystery of the engine provokes an immense explosion that reveals the presence of an alive being. While it escapes, Nyla and three other members of the team collapse instantaneously. Their body disintegrate as if a kind of virus had devoured their flesh from inside. Armed with torch lamps, survivors of the frightful event launch to the pursuit of the alien. Julian finds its trace. As terrorized as it, the scientist finaly attract some the confidence and guesses its peaceful intentions. But in the panic, Tony, the pilot who arrives on places, opens the fire and kills the alien.
radio connections re-established, John Bachman enters in contact with Julian. Invested by the highest governmental authorities who know the situation, his friend explains him that the aliens are carrying a pathology against the one they are themselves immunized. If they ignored it before to enter our solar system, their first Martian stop released the extinction of all form of life on the red planet in less than six month. For the staf of Rundell Peak it is too late. Carying the virus, they could contaminate the whole planet. The government has to proceed to a « sterilization ». John confesses him that a Russian submarine sails to them and is going to release the nuclear fire in three hours.
Straub and Tony refuse the fate they are reserved. Appointed to residence by Julian and Kate who come to lock all exits they do not hesitate to kill Grisham and steal his gun before to escape. When fugitives cross the greenhouse of crops to join an irrigation exit for freedom, the plants die instantaneously after their passage, irrefutable proof of their contamination. Aware of hie imminent treachery towards humanity, the pilot refuses to go farest. Straub shoots at him and continues his way to the outside…
Spoiler ! the end of the story is revealed below…
A huge spaceship overhangs the research center. This one seems to protect it in an electromagnetic bubble where it is difficult to breathe. Straub disappears suddenly. Aliens know, understand, and invite Julian, witness of the scene, to join them. Nine minute to the fatal impact, Julian, Kate, Alexie and Shelly enter the protective field. Scared but trustful, they disappear as transported by an energy elevator. The translucent and luminous vessel takes off at the moment when the nuclear missile knocks this corner of the Antarctic. A new life offers to Julian and Kate… but on another planet.