Excerpt from The Mother Code by Carole Stivers, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Mother Code

by Carole Stivers

The Mother Code by Carole Stivers X
The Mother Code by Carole Stivers
  • Critics' Opinion:

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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2020, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 17, 2021, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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Part One
1
March 3, 2054

Their treads tucked tight to their bodies, their wings outspread, they headed north in tight formation. From above, the sun glimmered off their metallic flanks, sending their coalesced shadows adrift over the ridges and combs of the open desert. Below lay only silence-that primordial silence that lives on in the wake of all that is lost, of all that is squandered.

At their approach, the silence was broken. Every grain of sand hummed in tune with the roar of air through their ducted fans. Tiny creatures, wrested from their heated slumbers, stirred from their hiding places to sense their coming.

Then, pausing in their trajectory to map ever-larger arcs, the Mothers fanned apart, each following her own path. Rho-Z maintained altitude, checked her flight computer, homed toward her preset destination. Deep in her belly she bore a precious payload-the seed of a new generation.

Alone, she set down in the shade of an overhanging crag, sheltered from the wind. There she waited, for the viscous thrum of a heartbeat. She waited, for the tremble of a small arm, the twitch of a tiny leg. She faithfully recorded the signs of vitality, waiting for the moment when her next mission would begin.

Until, at last, it was time:

Fetal Weight 2.4 kg.

Respiration Rate 47:::Pulse Ox 99%:::BP Systolic 60 Diastolic 37:::Temperature 36.8C.

WOMB DRAINAGE: Initiate 03:50:13. Complete 04:00:13.

FEED TUBE DISCONNECT: Initiate 04:01:33. Complete 04:01:48.

Respiration Rate 39:::Pulse Ox 89%:::BP Systolic 43 Diastolic 25.

RESUSCITATION: Initiate 04:03:12. Complete 04:03:42.

Respiration Rate 63:::Pulse Ox 97%:::BP Systolic 75 Diastolic 43.

TRANSFER: Initiate 04:04:01.

The newborn nestled into the dense, fibrous interior of her cocoon. He squirmed, his arms flailing. As his lips found her soft nipple, nutrient-rich liquid filled his mouth. His body relaxed, cradled now by warm elastic fingers. His eyes opened to a soft blue light, the blurred outline of a human face.

2
December 20, 2049

URGENT CONFIDENTIAL. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Dr. Said:

Request your presence at a conference to be held at CIA Headquarters, Langley, VA.

December 20, 2049, 1100 hours.

Top priority.

Transportation will be provided.

Please respond ASAP.

-General Jos. Blankenship, U.S. Army

James Said removed his wrist phone ocular from his right eye, tucking it into its plastic case. He peeled his flex-phone from his wrist, then undid his belt and loaded it along with his shoes and jacket onto the conveyor. Eyes focused straight ahead toward the optical scanner, he shuffled past the cordon of airport inspection bots, their thin white arms moving efficiently over every portion of his anatomy.

Urgent. Confidential. When it came to communications from the military, he'd learned to gloss over terms that he'd once found alarming. Still, he couldn't help but steal a glance around the security area, thoroughly expecting a man in military blues to materialize. Blankenship. Where had he heard that name?

He ran his fingers over his chin. That morning he'd shaved close, exposing the dark birthmark just below the jaw-the place where his mother told him Allah had kissed him on the day he was born. Did his looks betray him? He thought not. Born in California on the fourth of July, his every habit scrupulously secular, he was as American as he could be. He possessed his mother's light-skinned coloring, her father's tall stature. Yet somehow the moment he set foot in an airport, he felt like the enemy. Though the infamous 9/11 attacks had preceded his own birth by thirteen years, the London Intifada of 2030 and the suicide bombings at Reagan Airport in 2041 kept alive a healthy suspicion of anyone resembling a Muslim in the West.

As the last of the bots offered him a green light, he gathered up his belongings, then pressed his thumb to the keypad on the door leading out to the gates. In the bright light and bustle of the concourse, he slid the ocular back into his eye and secured the phone on his wrist. Blinking three times to reconnect the two devices, he pressed "reply" on the phone's control panel and murmured into it. "Flying to California for the holidays. Must reschedule after January 5. Please provide agenda."

Excerpted from The Mother Code by Carole Stivers. Copyright © 2020 by Carole Stivers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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