Authors: Alex Albrinck
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Cyberpunk, #High Tech, #Metaphysical & Visionary, #Hard Science Fiction, #Time Travel
The Aliomenti Saga - Book 7
by Alex Albrinck
Copyright (c) 2014 by Alex Albrinck. All Rights Reserved.
This novel is a work of fiction. All characters, places, and incidents described in this publication are used fictitiously, or are entirely fictional.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, except by an authorized retailer, or with written permission of the publisher.
Cover design: Karri Klawiter (
Formatting: Polgarus Studio (
Dedicated to my family
Who teach me every day about unconditional love
Many thanks to my family; you have all provided incredible support throughout the writing process. There’s no way I could have finished writing these books without your love and support.
To all of the authors who have, knowingly and unknowingly, shown me the my dream of writing and publishing my books need not remain just a dream: Thank you.
He’d left the site in
frustration only a few hours earlier, fuming. Will Stark had tricked them again. The man had faked his surrender, traveled with them to Aliomenti Headquarters, and had even seen the Leader’s office. He could teleport directly to the Leader’s office now, and he could teach the rest of his band of traitors to do the same. Stark had left the prison level after arranging the skewering of Aramis by the Assassin’s sword, had stolen one of their aircraft, had returned to the site of his surrender… and now he was gone. Porthos hadn’t gotten there in time, and he and Athos argued over what to do next. His nominal leader opted for a return to Headquarters with the trail gone cold.
But Porthos was the Tracker. No trail should be cold. He pulled up his list of search routes and set off, trying to leave the memory of Aramis’ pale form behind. He felt his face flush, hot with anger at the situation. He wanted to be angry with Will Stark, but he felt greater anger at his own people. They should have seen this coming; should never have allowed Stark so much freedom. They should have drained him of Energy completely before they’d ever arrived on the Island. But instead, Aramis was in a coma.
His pulse spurred forward in a way he’d not experienced since that beautiful human woman flirted with him two weeks earlier. His mind shifted from anger and Stark to her. She’d been so lovely, and—
The Leader’s voice squawked from the speaker on the flyer’s dash, squelched slightly by static. Porthos tapped the speaker and activated the microphone. “Here, sir.”
“Stark got away again?”
Porthos didn’t trust himself to answer.
“I understand from your non-answer that Stark is indeed still on the loose and you’ve elected to use your… special skill to track the man?”
“Yes, sir.” He tried to avoid the obvious dig at his talent, focusing instead on the strain in the Leader’s voice. Was that… emotion? Concern?
“Good.” He paused. “You must find them, Porthos. Stark approaches full Energy strength once again. It’s only a matter of time before they grow bold enough to launch a direct assault on the Island.”
Porthos sighed, glancing out the window of the auto-piloted aircraft. His gift for sensing and tracking Energy remained unparalleled and had served the goals of the Aliomenti well over the centuries. But now? The Alliance were either dying out or figuring out how to evade his Tracking senses, because he’d never before sensed such a dearth of unfamiliar Energy scents in his life. He didn’t think it wise to assume the Alliance near extinction, and neither did the Leader. Will Stark was out there, somewhere, conspiring with his friends to make Porthos’ life miserable. “I know that, sir. I
“Stop trying, Porthos. I need results, not excuses. We now have public and undeniable evidence of Stark’s existence among the living. He was here at
, Porthos, when he—”
The Leader broke off, and Porthos winced. The Leader wasted no emotional energy on any of his people, including the Elite members like the Hunters. But that had changed when they’d rushed to the lower levels and teleported the unconscious Aramis to the hospital wing. The Assassin, shot in both legs by the fleeing Will Stark, would walk again. But the doctors weren’t sure they could save the man stabbed in the Assassin’s execution efforts against Stark. “I want revenge for Aramis, too, sir,” he said, his voice quiet. “Are there… is there any news?”
“No.” Porthos knew
tone, knew there’d be no further discussion on the topic. For now. “Return to Headquarters when you’ve completed your search. I need to speak to you and Athos about our plans for defense of the Island. Stark’s recent emergence from the shadows makes an Island invasion by the Alliance a case of
Porthos felt his hopes rise. An end to the fruitless chase of the outlaws around the planet? Combat with the aim of exterminating the cretins once and for all? “We’ll crush them, sir!” His voice carried a spark that belied his melancholy. “We will squash them like the miserable insects they are. We’ll—”
The connection went dead, but not before he’d detected a snort from the Leader at his motivational speech. Porthos clicked off the communicator on his side and raised the volume on the Mozart music stream he’d queued up. Amadeus had been quite rude to Porthos, but the man was dead now. No sense holding a grudge. And his music gave Porthos some manner of peace.
They’d long discussed the possibility of an Alliance invasion of the Island. It made sense. The Alliance wouldn’t be fans of Hunts or the casting of members into the Energy-deprivation prison beneath the black marble Headquarters building. They’d see the Hunters and Assassins as impediments to whatever foolish human-friendly agendas they’d established. And unlike the Alliance, who’d taken great pains to hide their existence, numbers, and places of residence, the Aliomenti flaunted the location of their Headquarters.
The best approach, in his mind, would be an invasion of their own. Find the place—there
to be a place, right?—where the Alliance congregated when not living among the humans. Send the Hunters and Assassins and their best warriors there. Exterminate the dissidents. Problem solved, and no need to repel a potential Alliance invasion of Headquarters Island. He could spend the rest of his infinite days relaxing after five hundred years spent chasing a phantom named Will Stark.
He hoped the Leader had a plan to kill that phantom. They’d failed in all previous efforts.
He glanced at the map showing his current position. He’d decided to head for the Antarctic on this trip, with the faint hope the journey would cool him down enough to handle the potential Alliance invasion. Though inhospitable, the brutal weather of the Earth’s polar regions presented an ideal place of residence for the Alliance, who’d no doubt be able to conquer the worst Nature could throw at them.
Thus far, he’d found nothing.
Any large congregation of Energy users, including among their number Will Stark, would release
Energy. If their number included the man who’d unleashed the Cataclysm, the one he called the Destructor? It would take a mere sliver of that man’s Energy to awaken his Tracking sense. He’d use that sliver to build a map to Alliance Headquarters and lead the Aliomenti invasion.
He’d kill Will Stark and watch the Alliance crumble.
And yet despite all the Tracking trips, for all the powerful Alliance Energy he knew
to be out there
… he’d sensed nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The ridicule from Aramis, Athos, and the Leader stemming from his repeated failures stung, a sign of his dwindling power, and proof of his ineffectiveness and uselessness. Worse, he’d come to agree with that assessment. He didn’t struggle to locate the occasional stray Aliomenti fugitive who broke away to join Stark’s organization, after all. Why could he find
modestly powerful person and not find the collection of
of them, especially when
of them included the most powerful Energy users on the planet? Could the Alliance really hide themselves
As he closed the distance to the Antarctic land mass it seemed the undulating water below looked colder. He didn’t much care for the cold. In fact, he hated it. When all of this was done, he fully intended to spend the rest of his days living in the warmer climates, on beaches, and enjoy the quiet and solitude, even if he had to tolerate the humans. The humans would eventually kill themselves off anyway. He chuckled at the thought, picked up his battered copy of Machiavelli’s
, and settled back to read. But he couldn’t dislodge the thought of human extinction from his mind.
He’d have the warm beaches to himself.
a downside, though, to that mass extinction.
His nose wrinkled at the imagined stench of the dead. The odor became quite real and incredibly vivid for a waking dream. His eyes watered, and he put the book down to run a sleeve over his face to remove the tears.
He frowned. That aroma didn’t come from his imagination.
The scent grew in intensity, gaining layers of complexity through a meshing of odors. His eyes began to water. He could isolate each scent—lavender, apple, burning firewood, skunk, rotting milk—and individually they were nothing. Combined, the scent and intensity were overwhelming.
The aromas began to dissipate, and he could breathe deeply once more as the Energy scents faded.
He sat up straighter, realizing what had happened.
He’d traveled over the Alliance base, sensing dozens—no, hundreds—of unique and unfamiliar Energy scents. He seized the yoke, deactivated the auto-pilot, and reversed course until he picked up the complex Energy scent again. He felt his pulse race as a new scent emerged, dominating the others. He swallowed, realizing he’d found the home of the Destructor. As the Energy scent began to fade, he marked the map. He then flew east, turned around, and approached the area again, once more marking the map where the scent began to fade. With two more sweeps—one coming in from the west, the other from the north—he’d marked where the Energy signals were strongest.
The spot he’d marked was two miles north of the Antarctic coast. He frowned. How was that possible? Had the Energy traveled? And how had the Alliance masked such a powerful Energy source for so long? He looked at the map again, thinking, pondering. The Alliance had been in hiding since Will Stark had gone underground five centuries earlier, and—
He jumped, hitting his head on the aircraft ceiling, as realization hit.
He activated the auto-pilot and set a course for Headquarters at maximum speed. Travel time was estimated at four hours. Porthos pulled the hood of his cloak over his head to block out all light. He then settled into his chair and leaned back, turned up the volume on Mozart, and forced his eyes closed, waiting for sleep. It took time. He’d felt the Energy of the Destructor, a scent he’d not detected since the explosive Energy outburst precipitating the Cataclysm. That burst of Energy so greatly exceeded every other Energy output he’d ever felt that he’d found himself wishing for proof of the Destructor’s death. He himself, so sensitive to the most trivial Energy flows, might well lose his life if he experienced a more direct burst of that man’s Energy.
He’d wished for proof of that man’s death. But now? He’d found proof the man lived.
He finally fell into an uneasy sleep. Even after he’d forced the terror at the thought of experiencing the Destructor once more, he knew the relative quiet of the past few centuries would soon end.
Once he’d informed the Leader that the Alliance had been living deep beneath the surface of the water just off the coast of Antarctica for centuries, there’d be little time for sleep.
A contented smirk twisted his face as he drifted off to the land of dreams.
War was coming.
And he intended to win.
She stood, golden hair dancing
in the faint, salty breeze, watching as the man she’d loved for a millennium altered his outward appearance. Her face fell as his Energy transformed, rendering him invisible to Porthos in his original form. In her mind, the sun seemed to dull when Will became someone else.
He saw the sadness in her face and offered a faint smile. “It’s the last time we’ll need to go through with this. The younger me will board the time machine soon, and I’ll reveal my identity to the children. I’ll never need to be David again.” He smiled, patting his protruding belly. “Admit it. You like this.”
Hope smirked. “I prefer the original you.” She patted his midsection, and he sucked in his stomach. “You
know that you don’t have to keep the belly to maintain your secret, right?”