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Twilight's Last Gleaming

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A chilling high-concept geo-political thriller where a declining United States and a resurgent China come to the brink of all out nuclear war.The year is 2025. Oil is the black gold that controls the fortunes of all nations and the once-mighty United States is down to the dregs. A giant oil field is discovered off the Tanzanian coast and the newly elected US President finds his solution to America's ailing economy. While the US blindly plots and plans regime change in this hitherto insignificant African nation, Tanzania's allies - the Chinese - start their own secret machinations. The explosion that follows shatters a decades-old balance of global power and triggers a crisis on American soil that the United States may not survive.Political conspiracies, military manouvers, and covert activities are woven together in this fast-paced, gripping novel that paints a stark warning of an uncomfortably likely future.

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Part One: Hubris

ePub

29 August 2024: thirty kilometers off the Tanzanian coast

“Keep going,” said Joseph Matenga. The driller gave him a dubious look, but turned back to his console. More than six kilometers below them, the drill bit chewed its way through rock.

Matenga turned away from the console, though there wasn't far he could go. Windows on three sides of the cramped little control room showed the girders and gear of a drilling platform and, beyond them, blue ocean out to the horizon. The fourth side looked down on the drill floor, where the roustabouts were hauling another length of riser pipe to add to the drill string—the long shaft of hollow steel connecting the drilling rig with the bottom of the ocean and the hole he'd spent years convincing the onshore execs to drill.

Down there, past a thousand meters of sea water and more rock than Matenga wanted to think about, there should be oil, plenty of it. Blurred patterns deep down in the seismic surveys, biomarkers in the scant oil from that fault zone further west: all of it spoke to him of black gold somewhere down below the Upper Cretaceous plays they'd been drilling for years, trapped under a fold of impermeable shale that might stretch for a hundred kilometers or more, a petroleum geologist's dream if it told the truth. If not—well, with drilling costs well on the upside of five million renminbi a day, and two months of that already spent, the chance that he would be given another try was really too small to worry about.

 

PART ONE HUBRIS

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PART ONE

HUBRIS

ONE

29 August 2024: thirty kilometers off the Tanzanian coast

“Keep going,” said Joseph Matenga. The driller gave him a dubious look, but turned back to his console. More than six kilometers below them, the drill bit chewed its way through rock.

Matenga turned away from the console, though there wasn’t far he could go. Windows on three sides of the cramped little control room showed the girders and gear of a drilling platform and, beyond them, blue ocean out to the horizon. The fourth side looked down on the drill floor, where the roustabouts were hauling another length of riser pipe to add to the drill string—the long shaft of hollow steel connecting the drilling rig with the bottom of the ocean and the hole he’d spent years convincing the onshore execs to drill.

Down there, past a thousand meters of sea water and more rock than Matenga wanted to think about, there should be oil, plenty of it. Blurred patterns deep down in the seismic surveys, biomarkers in the scant oil from that fault zone further west: all of it spoke to him of black gold somewhere down below the

 

PART TWO NEMESIS

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PA RT T WO

NEMESIS

SEVEN

23 July 2025: the White House, Washington, DC

President Weed came into the White House situation room, glanced around. The big screens on the walls showed data and images from the Tanzanian operation. Every detail of Operation Blazing Torch was right there in real time. Gurney and

Harbin were already in their seats, and Stedman was standing on the other side of the room, watching the whole process with a disapproving frown.

“Sir.” The duty officer snapped to attention.

Weed waved him back to his place. “Everything going according to plan?”

“Yes, sir.”

The screens agreed with him. One in night-vision green showed the flight deck of the Ronald Reagan; F/A-18s were being flung into the air one by one with the sudden jerk of a steam catapult. Another, fed with data rather than imagery, tracked Tomahawk cruise missile launches from the fleet. Over the next few minutes, Weed knew, the Army and Air Force would be getting into the act, and with a little good luck the whole thing would be over in a couple of days.

 

Part Two: Nemesis

ePub

23 July 2025: the White House, Washington, DC

President Weed came into the White House situation room, glanced around. The big screens on the walls showed data and images from the Tanzanian operation. Every detail of Operation Blazing Torch was right there in real time. Gurney and Harbin were already in their seats, and Stedman was standing on the other side of the room, watching the whole process with a disapproving frown.

“Sir.” The duty officer snapped to attention.

Weed waved him back to his place. “Everything going according to plan?”

“Yes, sir.”

The screens agreed with him. One in night-vision green showed the flight deck of the Ronald Reagan; F/A-18s were being flung into the air one by one with the sudden jerk of a steam catapult. Another, fed with data rather than imagery, tracked Tomahawk cruise missile launches from the fleet. Over the next few minutes, Weed knew, the Army and Air Force would be getting into the act, and with a little good luck the whole thing would be over in a couple of days.

 

PART THREE TO THE BRINK

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PART THREE

TO THE BRINK

THIRTEEN

5 September 2025: the White House,

Washington, DC

“Did they get everybody out of Nairobi?” Weed asked.

“Yes,” Greg Barnett said. “I’ve talked to Miller—he was our station chief there. He’s in Kisumu now, and we’ve got a secure diplomatic line open from there.”

“Well, that’s one bit of good news, at least.” The president ran a hand back through his hair. “We could use more.”

None of the members of the National Security Council had anything to say to that. Weed glanced around the room, and his gaze caught on the portrait of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback.

Damn the man, he thought. He made it look so easy. “What about the broader picture?”

“The business in Saudi Arabia is picking up,” said Barnett.

“The Saudis say it’s just a few protests and they’ve got it under control. Our people on the ground say there have been dozens of suicide attacks on police stations and government buildings, and what looks like urban guerrilla forces active in Qatif and

 

Part Three: TO the Brink

ePub

5 September 2025: the White House, Washington, DC

“Did they get everybody out of Nairobi?” Weed asked.

“Yes,” Greg Barnett said. “I've talked to Miller—he was our station chief there. He's in Kisumu now, and we've got a secure diplomatic line open from there.”

“Well, that's one bit of good news, at least.” The president ran a hand back through his hair. “We could use more.”

None of the members of the National Security Council had anything to say to that. Weed glanced around the room, and his gaze caught on the portrait of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback. Damn the man, he thought. He made it look so easy. “What about the broader picture?”

“The business in Saudi Arabia is picking up,” said Barnett. “The Saudis say it's just a few protests and they've got it under control. Our people on the ground say there have been dozens of suicide attacks on police stations and government buildings, and what looks like urban guerrilla forces active in Qatif and Dammam.”

 

Part Four: Crossing the Line

ePub

19 September 2025: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The first church bell rang at twenty minutes to seven. Pete Bridgeport, who was closing the door of his motel room, gave the air a quizzical look. Another joined it, and another; within moments, every bell in town was ringing.

He grabbed the railing of the motel balcony to steady himself. That could mean one of two things…

A car came down the street, horn blaring. The driver was shouting something out the window, and though Bridgeport couldn't make out the words he didn't think it involved Chinese and Russian missiles on the way. He made himself go to the stairs and went down.

There was a crowd gathered around the front desk, staring at a television news program. “…been confirmed by the White House,” the anchorman was saying. “We're still waiting to hear from our news staff overseas, but certainly this is the most promising thing we've heard since the beginning of this crisis. Once again, the United Nations has announced and the White House confirms that a ceasefire has been declared. The US, Russian, and Chinese nuclear forces are standing down, and all sides have agreed to negotiate a peace treaty. That's what we know so far. Sandy, anything yet from Beijing or Moscow?”

 

PART FOUR CROSSING THE LINE

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PART FOUR

CROSSING THE LINE

NINETEEN

19 September 2025: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The first church bell rang at twenty minutes to seven. Pete

Bridgeport, who was closing the door of his motel room, gave the air a quizzical look. Another joined it, and another; within moments, every bell in town was ringing.

He grabbed the railing of the motel balcony to steady himself. That could mean one of two things …

A car came down the street, horn blaring. The driver was shouting something out the window, and though Bridgeport couldn’t make out the words he didn’t think it involved

Chinese and Russian missiles on the way. He made himself go to the stairs and went down.

There was a crowd gathered around the front desk, staring at a television news program. “… been confirmed by the White

House,” the anchorman was saying. “We’re still waiting to hear from our news staff overseas, but certainly this is the most promising thing we’ve heard since the beginning of this crisis.

 

Part Five: Dissolution

ePub

16 September 2026: Austin, Texas

Governor Terry McCracken leaned forward and blinked. The headline on the computer screen didn't change: New Convention Proposal Would Dissolve Union. The article below named the two delegates who'd introduced Resolution 58, gave the text, and then dismissed the whole thing as an edgy joke. A couple of sentences from some New York pundit, hoping out loud that the prank might bring the convention to its senses, finished it up. McCracken read the article a second time, shook his head, and reached for the phone to call the head of the Texas delegation. Some of them might be dumb enough to vote for it, after all.

Before his hand reached the phone, he stopped, and then drew the hand back, propped his elbows on his desk and rested his chin on his hands, looking at nothing in particular.

He sat up after a few minutes, reached for the phone again and punched the number. “Jack? Yeah, this is Terry. Just got the news about Resolution 58.” A pause. “Yeah.” Another. “Yeah. What kind of response is it getting from the delegates?”

 

PART FIVE DISSOLUTION

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PART FIVE

DISSOLUTION

TWENTY-FIVE

16 September 2026: Austin, Texas

Governor Terry McCracken leaned forward and blinked.

The headline on the computer screen didn’t change: New

Convention Proposal Would Dissolve Union. The article below named the two delegates who’d introduced Resolution 58, gave the text, and then dismissed the whole thing as an edgy joke. A couple of sentences from some New York pundit, hoping out loud that the prank might bring the convention to its senses, finished it up. McCracken read the article a second time, shook his head, and reached for the phone to call the head of the Texas delegation. Some of them might be dumb enough to vote for it, after all.

Before his hand reached the phone, he stopped, and then drew the hand back, propped his elbows on his desk and rested his chin on his hands, looking at nothing in particular.

He sat up after a few minutes, reached for the phone again and punched the number. “Jack? Yeah, this is Terry. Just got the news about Resolution 58.” A pause. “Yeah.” Another. “Yeah.

 

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