Based on hard science and reasonable assumptions, this story presents a realistic scenario that could conceivably occur tomorrow. It involves eight believable people, each with their strengths and weaknesses, whose lives are suddenly entwined in an effort to solve the mystery of a handful of tiny pellets. An intensive scientific investigation, undertaken under extreme time pressure and limited resources, eventually discovers that the pellets are messengers from the stars. The excitement of discovery, however, plays a secondary role to the intense emotional and intellectual interactions of the eight unique scientists. Jake Calley, the central figure, is a PhD student in extra-terrestrial geology. His mother, Joyce Calley, is a world-famous materials engineer and scientist who casts a long shadow over her only child. Another student, Katy Hawthorne, working on her doctorate in Evolutionary Biology, is drawn into the tensions between mother and son by her fortuitous help in discovering that Jake’s “pellets” are more than just contamination in one of his precious soil samples.
At his mother’s suggestion, Jake and Katy show the tiny spheroids to Hans Beckmann, the president of a nano-engineering firm. Beckmann immediately realizes that the spheroids’ technology is beyond his firm’s capabilities and enlists three of his best employees to study the objects. Their initial findings reveal unknown properties. Sensing a potential threat to his company’s leading position in state-of-the-art nano engineering, Beckmann alerts the US Air Force. LtCol Rain (a double doc in physics and astronomy) investigates and agrees with Beckmann that the spheroids apparently represent an advanced technology, perhaps Chinese in origin. Rain brings the few people who have knowledge of the discovery together in a lab at Sandia National Laboratories. Over the course of two intensive weeks the investigative team makes many surprising discoveries, including the true nature of the spheroids: they are “seeds” from an extra-solar civilization, now long gone. But the most amazing discoveries are those the individuals make about themselves and about the others on the team. The conclusion offers an unexpected twist to the story, one that brings all of the disparate elements into place.