Despite his sorrow, he goes on a dangerous mission to an invading aliens’ home world in the Gliese-581 star system. There he uses a neural interface to penetrate their communication network and steal a high ranking alien’s identity. Through this artifice he learns about their history and society, and discovers a way to hinder and possibly defeat them.
A side-effect of linking into the alien network—which was created for autistic savants—is that Gallant’s mind is stimulated and enhanced to the point where he begins to experience superintelligence abilities.
Upon returning from his mission, there is concern that Gallant might pose a more serious threat than the aliens. While he struggles to fend off those who doubt his loyalty, he fights to win back Alaina.
This is the fourth book of The Henry Gallant Saga, but it can be read as a standalone story.
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The day was perfect. The blue-green ocean waves crashed on the shore while white puffy clouds crossed the aquamarine sky. On the horizon the faint haze of the morning fog was departing. A light breeze blew across the harbor just as Gallant walked into the marina. He saw Alaina standing at the end of a pier--her gaze fixed on the sea. She wore a white halter and tan shorts. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, tied with a yellow ribbon. He stood for a minute, content to witness the scene.
He had the feeling that they were starting a new adventure and wondered whether she felt the same, but he was afraid to ask anything that might disturb the delicate balance between them.
Alaina's yawl was at the end of the pier. They climbed aboard and began unfurling the jib sail. He pushed the helm over.
The fifteen-meter yawl Haven clawed her way down the bay--away from New Kauai--toward the small deserted islands to the east. As the boat left the bay behind, the seaward breeze picked up. A westerly wind laid her over as she responded to Gallant's hand at the helm. The blustery summer wind sang in his ears as the boat pitched forward and then rolled as a wave broke against her hull. Haven and the sea synchronized into a thrashing rhythm--pitch--roll--pitch--roll, while in the distance several other small craft ran before the wind. He savored the majesty of the vivid sunlight and writhing seas, but even so, today he was distracted by Alaina's delicate silhouette as she stood at the mast grasping the rigging while her streaming blonde hair acted as a telltale.
"Alaina," he yelled over the gusty weather--beckoning her aft. She smiled, and balancing herself against the swaying motion of the deck, she made her way to the cockpit. She sat sideways to him--her knees tucked under her, a gay expression on her face.
He sailed the boat closer to the wind to gain speed and the wind greeted him with new enthusiasm. The bobble and swish of the water made a chorus of sea noises that attracted the local inhabitants. There were small and large fish keeping pace with the boat, jumping and wriggling, glinting and twisting, as if they welcomed the yawl and adopted it into their school.
Seeing that Alaina's enthusiasm for adventure hadn't waned, he reached toward her and pulled her close.
They spent several hours sailing on the open water until they approached a tiny deserted island with white sandy beaches and secluded coves.
He loosened the sail and let the course fall off toward the ragged shore. They slowed and gently drifted to the sandy beach. The boat slipped through the rippling shoal water. He let the anchor go and allowed the boat to gently ground on the sandy bottom. He quickly furled the sails and then jumped over the side into the shallow water. Alaina sat on the edge of the boat and let him lift her off. He carried her several meters through the surf to the dry beach while she made only a half-hearted protest. She didn't protest at all when he kissed her. Her lips pressed back with equal intent.
He could smell her musky scent--strong after the day's activities. It made him recall their past adventures.
She spread a large fluffy blanket and opened the picnic basket. She laid out their lunch, but they hardly ate anything.
He was beginning to believe he could read her face, and what he saw gave him hope that what she had found charming about him before, she had again.
Gallant had grown to trust her as she had trusted him. At the moment, she was two people--one was his lover, and the other was a stranger. He wished to separate the two, or perhaps, wear away the distinction until there remained only the friend and lover that he desired.
He asked, "How about a swim?"
"I didn't bring a bathing suit."
"That was never a problem before."
As a smile spread slowly across her lips, he knew it wouldn't be a problem now.
"You're a bad boy," she said with an amused expression.
"I can be." He wondered if she knew that she was the cause of that.
They stripped and jumped into the surf. They swam out a hundred meters from the shore and then continued to swim parallel to the beach for nearly a mile before doubling back to the beach. They flopped down on their blanket, exhilarated and exhausted, with heaving chests.
They watched for several minutes as the incoming tide covered the footprints they had left in the sand. A flurry of spray washed over them.
Alaina lay on the blanket in the sun, comfortable with her nudity. She leaned forward--her lips moist and parted--she kissed him. He wrapped his arms around her and found her response genuine and fulfilling. Their lovemaking filled the afternoon. Afterward, they lay there together, not moving, nor wishing to move, for a long, long time.
Gazing at the sunbaked sand and the glimmering blue water, Gallant dismissed the past from his mind and focused on the immediate future. He was certain of only one thing--he never wanted to lose this girl. He knew they belonged together, now and always.
"Are you cold?" he asked.
"No." She snuggled comfortably into his arms and he pulled the edge of the blanket over them.
"I love you, Henry," she said, her words anchoring him to her world.
"I love you, Alaina."
"Because it would be impossible not to."