In the fifth installment of James Patterson's action-packed Daniel X series, Daniel must now face an alien whose origins appear nearer to the depths of Hell than the outer reaches of the galaxy. Number Two is an unstoppable criminal that's slowly been amassing an underground army of disgusting, disgruntled, and dangerous aliens to help him enslave Earth's population. And it's all in preparation for the arrival of Number One, the most powerful alien in the universe and Daniel's arch-nemesis.
To Daniel's horror, thousands of humans defect to the alien's side, making the odds of success that much more impossible. But for the first time in his life, Daniel isn't alone in his fight. He's connected with several military and intelligence groups—including the daughter of a prominent FBI agent--and is prepared to lead the ultimate showdown against the evil that has plagued planet Earth for so long. Readers, beware—and be prepared for a truly epic battle that evokes the ancient prophecies of Armageddon!
Part One | The Gathering Swarm
TIME FOR ALIEN Hunter Tip Number 46: Always have an exit strategy, preferably one that doesn’t involve transforming yourself into a flying rodent with rusty‑gutter breath from guzzling way too much iron‑rich hemoglobin.
Coming out of the bat transformation, I felt wiped. My mind was totally blown. My retinas had burnt‑in blip spots from doing time as radar screens.
But at least I was me again.
I had lost the black cloak and the bat wings. I was back in a T‑shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers, catching my breath outside a cave entrance. I had come to this abandoned West Virginia coal mine after picking up a hot tip on Number 2’s possible location. The intel had been solid. I had definitely found the despicable Deuce’s hidey‑hole. My next problem: What to do about him, not to mention his massive army? How could I stop these extraterrestrial terrorists from destroying every city, town, and village on their hit list?
Still groggy, I retrieved my backpack, which I’d hidden deep inside a rock niche outside the cave. I fished out the super‑thin, higher‑than‑high‑tech alien laptop that has been my mission bible since day one and flipped open the lid. I needed to consult The List of Alien Outlaws on Terra Firma, which is what those of us from other parts of the galaxy call Earth.
I also needed to recharge my batteries. For me to rearrange molecules to create whatever my imagination cooks up, I need to be super calm and concentrate like crazy. If I’m tired or cranky, forget about it. At that moment I don’t think I could’ve materialized a Double Whopper with cheese, even though I sort of wished I could. Bats burn up a ton of calories, what with the wing flapping and all that internalized radar action. I was famished.
The List thrummed to life in my lap. Much to my surprise, Balloon Boy —the bloated bullfrog I had called 30‑something —was actually Number 29. Guess the freakazoid had shot up a slot or two after I erased a couple of his superiors in alien hunts past.
However, slot 29 was as high as Floating Froggy would ever hop. The constantly self‑updating List was already flashing TERMINATED next to his name and number.
I swiped my fingers through the air and The List, fully annotated with illustrations, scrolled up the screen to exactly what I needed to see.
The entry for Number 2.
For some bizarre‑o reason, the computer continued to pretty much draw a blank on the guy. Yes, there was a list of his known physical appearances (apparently he was a world‑class shape‑shifter, just like me), but under Planet of Origin, all I saw was CLASSIFIED. Same thing with Evil Deeds Done. CLASSIFIED. Powers? CLASSIFIED.
Classified? Hello, computer —you work for me, remember?
I gave the computer a good whack on the side. Yes, it’s an extremely low‑tech solution, but one that sometimes works, even with the galaxy’s coolest, most artificially intelligent gizmos.
Not this time. The images on the screen refused to budge. Number 2’s background would remain a mystery. A CLASSIFIED mystery.
I realized I needed to forget about where Number 2 came from and what he had already done, and focus instead on where he said he was going (all over the planet) and what he planned on doing once he and his army got there (wiping out human civilization and enslaving millions, not to mention making my life totally miserable).
Still glued to the uncooperative computer screen, I felt a not‑so‑gentle tap on my shoulder.
Startled, I whipped around.
Suddenly I was face‑to‑face‑to‑face‑to‑face with a four‑ sided killing machine.
Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson
Milo Ventimiglia starred in the hit NBC show Heroes and previously starred in Gilmore Girls. His films include Garner alongside Gerard Butler, and Armored with Laurence Fishburne.