Warning: The contents of this novel may include psychopathic behaviour, flesh-eating aliens, obsessive compulsive warriors, dateless band geeks, redneck super geniuses, posh upperclassmen, religious figures, smoking hot man candy, large doses of peanut butter, thermonuclear bombs, unnecessary doses of nerd-related humour, murder, faulty parallelism and traces of romance. All those opposed to science fiction: please exit through the door on your right (it may or may not lead to the lost city of A
Prologue I: A Death and a Birth
Los Vegas, Nevada
Universe Three, 2030
“He knows we’re here,” she whispered softly.
“Relax,” he breathed, smoothing her dress under the table. “We’re practically invisible here.”
Dancing in the middle of a crowd were two teenagers –a boy and a girl- disguised as much older aristocrats. The boy’s name was William Burns. He was about sixteen years old and six feet in height. His hair was thick, jet black and ear-length, and his skin was olive-toned. Hidden beneath the sleeve of his black tuxedo was a silver dagger with an ornamented hilt. Will suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder; he was also an assassin.
The girl was named Cecilia Hawking. Her sky-blue eyes glittered with keen intelligence and unblemished innocence. Surrounding her athletic frame like a perfume was the musk of elegance and grace; like a leopard, she watched her pray, dazzling them with a mirage of trustworthiness and ignorance. She grew up in an amusement park, the daughter of a freak. She was a virtuoso, a highly accomplished classical musician.
The casino air was ripe with excitement. Blinking lights and the sound of slot machines jingling effectively masked the sound of private conversations. Waiters wearing scarlet uniforms glided past, each carrying silver trays supporting thin-glassed, bubbling drinks. The atmosphere was spicy and elegant, much like Vegas itself. It was near midnight on a Friday. Chandelier crystals refracted light into playful sparkles that danced in the irises of gamblers from either side of the room. A rainbow jukebox in the corner played Heart’s “Crazy on You” over the loudspeakers.
“There,” Cecilia hissed, kissing Will urgently to hide her face.
He responded swiftly, reaching for the translucent knife strapped to his wrist and forearm. He allowed a trace of energy to escape his palm to activate the radioactive substances within the handle.
“Where?” he breathed into her ear.
“Yes.” She kissed his neck for good measure, breaking away to breathe. “Do you see the target? He has a tattoo on his left forearm. It’s of his dog.”
“What type of dog?”
Will pulled backwards slightly, his nose inches from her mouth. A smirk lingered at the corner of his lips. “You always were observant.”
Cecilia’s face remained stony. “We can’t blow this operation."
“You worry too much,” said Will, leaning towards her.
She pushed him away, revolver in hand. “It’s time.”
Will struggled to focus on the mission at hand, but he found himself hopelessly distracted by the silhouette of Cecilia’s athletic body. She was wearing a tightly-fitting black, silky dress, and a pair of polished heels. Her platinum curls were tucked beneath a jet-black, sleek, bob-shaped wig, and her lips were painted crimson, contrasting her pale features. Woven into her fake hair, Will knew, were two spikes laced with poison they had obtained from an Amazonian tribeswoman one year previous.
“Come on,” she hissed, grabbing him by the hand.
Will turned and spotted their target, a huge Latino man wearing a black, leather jacket and leather gloves. His hair was shaved to the scalp, and his eyes were a piercing black colour. Multiple scars crisscrossed his face, and there was a definite chunk of flesh missing from his ear. His large nose was very crooked, as if it had been broken many times previously. Will squinted and saw that on his forearm was, indeed, a very prominent depiction of a beagle.
“Cool jacket,” said Will.
Cecilia rolled her eyes and pulled him behind a slot machine. When they emerged from behind the device, they were invisible. Will flexed his hands and they crackled with raw energy. He focused on the feel of Cecilia’s thin fingers interlocked with his, maintaining the electromagnetic field cloaking their forms. His almond-coloured eyes scanned the crowd and spotted their assignment, a sixty-five year old, dark-skinned man wearing an apricot-coloured robe- the president of South Africa.
“That’s who we’re supposed to save?” asked Will.
Cecilia squeezed his hand once in response. Will took a step closer to her, heart pounding. The scent of her Moroccan perfume filled his nostrils, making him dizzy. He had never loved anyone like he loved Cecilia. Every moment he spent with her was like living in a dream. She made him feel dangerous, exciting and sexy: an exotic, limitless predator. She was everything that he wasn’t: patient, compassionate, kind, brilliant...
It’s almost too easy, he thought. The attacker stood before them, in plain sight. They knew exactly how he was going to attack: by revolver. They knew exactly when and where he would strike: the heart. The informant had told them everything they needed to know to assassinate the murderer.
Will walked on bent knees towards the man, fingers clenching the dagger. Cecilia dropped his hand and ducked behind a nearby pool table. She would position herself behind the man, in case Will fumbled; but Will never missed. He and Cecilia were two of the most skilled warriors in the Centrian Guard- the fifth dimensional task force that employed them to travel through time, fixing humanity’s mistakes.
Five, he thought, creeping closer.
Four.He clutched the dagger tighter.
The power cut in a fantastic whirr. Cecilia materialized beside him in an instant. Delegates looked around in confusion. The doors slammed shut, bolting from the outside. Will resisted the urge to curse. The president was guided to the side of the room firmly and then surrounded by four bodyguards.
“What’s happening?” Will asked Cecilia.
She shook her head in response, her blue eyes darting about. “This isn’t part of the Plan.”
The Plan was a set of guidelines given to them with their assignment that outlined, minute by minute, each event that led up to the incident, the problem in history that they were supposed to correct.
“Guard the assignment,” said Will. Cecilia nodded once and retreated towards the president, revolver in hand.
Will watched the Latino man take a few steps backwards, his face pale. He grabbed a pool cue and promptly smashed a nearby glass, green-tinted window. Will longed to follow him but stood his ground. Something was wrong. Guardians, members of the Centrian Guard, were never sent on a mission out of the dimension unless they were given a detailed account of the incident, from beginning to end, by a survivor who immigrated out of the dimension into another time- an informant.
A mistake in the Plan was impossible.
Impossible, that is, unless they were being tracked. Unless someone outside of the dimension had managed to set a trap for them. Will dismissed the idea almost immediately, for the concept was absurd. The Centrian Guard was incredibly discreet.
He turned, knuckles white against the hilt of his dagger. The room was deathly silent. Somebody knocked over a champagne glass and another made a joke about the waste of alcohol. Someone giggled nervously. Will searched the crowd for Cecilia. His chest constricted when he couldn’t find her. Suddenly she appeared, poking her raven coloured head from behind the roulette table. She put a finger to her lips and smiled.
Then, the room exploded.
White and orange flames billowed like dragon’s breath into the casino. Within the span of a second, the room was enveloped in infallible heat and pressure. Will dove backwards, spurts of water bursting from the palms of his hands, instinctively. Another explosion. He was thrown against the opposite wall, and, for a moment, he blacked out.
He awoke and cried out in anger and fear. He dove back into the flames, energy enveloping his form, shielding his form from the white-hot fire. It was no use. The left side of the casino had been obliterated.
Numb, Will whirled around. The building was collapsing. He could hear the sound of an aircraft flying into the distance, a trail of misty residue marking its path. The full moon shone brightly. He screamed for Cecilia, desperately. He sprinted towards the door, forgetting that it was bolted. The ceiling collapsed around him. He dove to dodge random pieces of debris. In every direction, the world crumbled around him.
He dashed towards the window broken by the would-be-murderer. Will suppressed panic as he imagined for a moment falling to the streets below. He was desperately afraid of heights. Unable to think of an alternative, he dove through the opening.
Traffic swam below him. For a moment he freefell, and then a window cleaning platform located one floor below slammed into his body. The floor above him exploded in a fantastic burst of fireworks. He rocked back and forth on the platform, which dangled above the honking traffic ominously.
Will grabbed for the sides of the platform and then used the lever to lower himself to the floor below. The platform jerked downwards suddenly. He glanced upwards and saw that one of the supporting cords was burning. Cursing, he turned to a nearby window, where the people inside stared at him and looked about in confusion.
The top floor of the casino collapsed, creating a chain reaction that destroyed the second, and then the third floor. Helicopters flew overhead, flashing spotlights in his eyes. A ladder was thrown out of a nearby aircraft, landing beside him. Will shook his head, his whole body shaking. He couldn’t leave. Cecilia was inside. She needed him. He couldn’t leave.
The building was collapsing. Darkness filled his vision. The platform rocked in the gusty wind, the wind that fanned the flames. The Los Vegas lights flashed in the distance. People were screaming. Cecilia was dead. The moon was full. It was midnight. The ladder dangled enticingly. Will was frozen. The city loomed before him. Cecilia was dead.
Suddenly, the platform fell. Cold wind nipped at his skin. He reached for the ladder, but the rungs slipped past his fingers. He would die. He was going to die. Suddenly, a black portal opened below him, a wormhole connecting the third universe to the fourth. He fell into it, bracing himself at the last minute for searing heat, frigid cold and inevitable unconsciousness.