On V-day in Chicago, a cadre of Visitor soldiers gets its hands
on a stash of red dust antitoxin and plans are put in place to
maintain control of the city.
The novel opens in Chicago on V-day, with thousands and
thousands of children's balloons being released into the air,
carrying the toxic-to-Visitors red dust. Just before the release
of the balloons, High Captain Gerald led a couple hundred shock
troopers in an attack on a Chicago area resistance base at Lake
Zurich. They find it almost deserted due to the V-day attack
about to begin; only 8 rebels, quickly dispatched, left to guard
one building containing a box full of antitoxin pills against the
red dust. Finally beginning to succumb to the red dust drifting down from
the sky, Gerald realizes what the antitoxin is and dispenses one
pill to each of his troopers until they are all gone. Gerald and
his soldiers are now immune to the red dust, but the fleet is
about to leave Earth without them. They pull out and return to
the Chicago mothership as it leaves the planet.
Five days later, former military chopper pilot Samuel Walker and Kathleen Wagner are still
living at the abandoned Arlington Park Race Track in the empty
suburb of Arlington Heights. Empty because the Visitors had
kidnapped all the residents of it and several other suburbs
months ago. In hiding and mostly out of communication
with the rest of the world, the two are unaware of V-day,
expecting the missing mothership to return from some Visitor
convention any day.
On board the Chicago mothership, hidden behind Earth's moon with
the rest of the Visitor fleet, Commander Alicia berates Gerald
for his stupidity in giving all of the antitoxin pills to his
men on V-day. If he had left some samples, Visitor scientists
could have reproduced it and made every member of the fleet
immune to the red dust. But she also believes it is only a
matter of time until those scientists replicate the antitoxin on
their own and she gives Gerald a chance to redeem himself by
leading his immune troopers in quietly retaking Chicago with the
help of converts she already has in place among the local
government and resistance members.
A resistance scout and messenger named Janus makes renewed
contact with Walker and Kathleen, explaining the events of V-day
and the retreat of the Visitors. The leader of the Chicago
resistance, Paul Nordine, is helping to slowly organize the city
and its government again. The world is still in rough shape,
trying to recover, with food, medical supplies and
transportation being a problem in the war-torn city; Chicago got
it worse than most cities during the occupation, with more human
abductions and a higher number of resistance battles.
Planning to return to the city soon, Walker and Kathleen decide
to get married at the earliest opportunity. They decide to
celebrate in their smelly stable quarters at the race track.
While Kathleen is out in the middle of the track oval to pick
some wild flowers, Walker suddenly gets a pain in his jaw that
always indicates the presence of a Visitor gravity-drive ship!
Running outside, he sees a shuttle land in the parking lot to
meet some humans in a vehicle. The Visitors happen to spy
Kathleen in the field and shoot her down. Then the shuttle and
car both vacate the track, leaving a heart-broken and angry
The next day Walker buries Kathleen on the field with Janus'
help. Then they drive into Chicago to meet with Paul Nordine at
the resistance's new headquarters in the Art Institute of
had been the Visitors' Security Headquarters during the occupation. Walker
explains what he saw to Paul and they determine that this group
of Visitors must have gotten their hands on some antitoxin
tablets and may be planning to use the abandoned suburb as a
clandestine base. Paul sends Walker and his second-in-command,
Steven Tyford, with some men to hide out around the track to try
to catch the Visitors off-guard when they return. But a week
passes with no Visitations, so the men are ordered back to the
city. Walker and Janus decide to remain behind and continue the
wait. The following day, the Visitors do return but they seem to
know what is waiting for them and they instead get the drop on
Walker and Janus, capturing them and taking them to Commander
Alicia on the mothership.
Walker and Janus suffer a session in the conversion chamber and
then are thrown into a cell. During their sleep, a fifth
columnist named Jennifer knocks out the guards and smuggles the
two humans out, disguised in Visitor uniforms and helmets. All
three escape the mothership in a shuttle.
During the flight, Jennifer shows Walker how the shuttle is
piloted. Unfortunately, it is pre-programmed to take them
from the mothership hiding at the far side of the moon to the
new race track headquarters of Gerald and his troops, but it's a
better chance than remaining on the mothership. Jennifer
explains that Alicia had hoped to use the two resistance
fighters in her plan to capture Paul Nordine and convert him,
thus gaining significant control of Chicago's restoration.
When the shuttle lands it is night and the three get out and run
towards a barn but Gerald's guards see them and begin shooting.
Jennifer is killed in the fight. Shortly after, Janus sacrifices
himself to buy time for Walker to escape into the deserted
residential neighborhood of Arlington Heights. Walker seeks to
hot wire one of the many abandoned autos but most of the car
batteries are dead from lack of use. Finally he finds a working
Caprice, hot wires it, and speeds off into the dark.
Walker's jaw again throbs with pain and he knows Visitor squad
vehicles are searching for him. One catches up and begins
strafing him. By driving into an underpass and stopping, he
tricks the pilot into landing on the other side, then he guns
the Caprice directly at the craft before ditching. The car slams
into the Visitor vessel and both vehicles go up in an explosion.
Nursing an injured shoulder from the jump, Walker continues on
foot until he is stopped by a police officer and his two
helpers. After some misunderstandings, he is finally taken to
the resistance headquarters at the Art Institute. Paul is away
in a city meeting but Walker is able to recount the details of his
adventure to second-in-command Tyford and warn him about
the plan to capture and use Paul. Tyford promises to inform Paul
and bring him back to the Institute to see Walker within the next
hour. Walker gets some sleep while waiting.
Walker wakes up 1 1/2 hours later and learns from some other
resistance members that Nordine and Tyford were there briefly but
just left for another meeting. Walker runs outside and sees the
two get into a car. He recognizes the license plate as the one
on the vehicle that met with the Visitors the night Kathleen was
killed. Putting the pieces together, he realizes that Tyford is
a convert or traitor working for the Visitors.
Assuming that Tyford is taking Nordine to Gerald's base at the
race track, he takes a truck from the Institute and speeds to the
location. He sees Tyford's car there and, in his Visitor
and helmet, manages to approach it, seeing a drugged or
unconscious Nordine slumped in the passenger seat. He spies the
keys still in the car and quickly decides to suddenly jump in
and race off, hoping to avoid the gunfire that was sure to
follow. But, before he can implement his
desperate plan, Gerald shows up and orders all troops into the
shuttle with the prisoner. Having little choice, Walker
continues his charade and boards with the rest of the troops.
They make the four-hour flight all the way back to the far side of
the moon and Alicia's waiting mothership. Luckily, no one talks
to him throughout the trip to reveal his human voice. After
disembarking from the shuttle, Walker remains close to Nordine
and is picked by the sergeant as one of the guards ordered to
escort the prisoner to Alicia. Soon, he finds himself standing
helplessly by as Alicia subjects the resistance leader to a session in
the conversion chamber.
Afterwards, Walker is left as one of two guards on Nordine's
cell. He knocks out the other guard and escapes with Nordine in
a Visitor fighter. Thanks to Jennifer's earlier tutorial, he is
able to pilot the craft away, but they soon find themselves
pursued by three more fighter craft. With Nordine's help on the
guns, one of the pursuers is destroyed, but the chase continues
all the way back to Earth. Flying into a cloud bank, which
confuses the ships sensors, Walker and Nordine are able to
destroy the last two fighters, but the debris also strikes them
and they make a crash landing on Lake
Michigan. Luckily they are rescued by the alert Coast Guard.
Tyford is picked up at the Institute and will be held in the
psychiatric ward of a hospital for treatment to try to reverse
the conversion he'd undergone.
Meanwhile, having lost communication with the pursuing fighter
craft, Alicia is forced by her fellow Commanders to admit defeat
in Chicago and Gerald and his troops are ordered to withdraw
back to the fleet. But Nordine's resistance force, along with
three police choppers, attempt to stop the Visitors' retreat and
in the battle Gerald's shuttles are destroyed on the ground with
his troops aboard. And Walker has a face-to-face showdown with
Gerald, killing him in rage.
Having now lost all their immune troops besides the overall
failure of Alicia's plan, the other Commanders remove her from
command and place her in isolated holding to face the Leader's
wrath upon their eventual return home.
Back on Earth, Walker decides to assist in the rebuilding of
Chicago, positive that the Visitors will eventually return to
take Earth's resources.
The moon image on the cover of this edition of the novel is of
the Earth side of the moon. Don't you think it would have been
cooler to have a photo of the far side considering that's where
the Visitor fleet is hiding? There are existing images of the
far side taken by satellite probes the U.S. and other countries
have sent to the moon.