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
“WELL, WELL, WELL, well,” the thing said, chortling in quadraphonic surround sound.
Then all of the blockhead’s faces grinned.
“How frightfully convenient! Number 2 commissions us to go find Daniel X and, lo and behold, I find you hiding right outside our super‑secret meeting place.”
I, of course, immediately recognized the cubic jerkonium. It was hard not to. The creature was a four‑sided warrior from the planet Varladra, complete with two pairs of brutal arms clutching four extremely lethal weapons: a scimitar the size of a scythe, a quarto‑headed battle‑ax, a classic nine‑ring Chinese broadsword, and —just in case he got tired of flailing his limbs and swinging steel —what looked like a semi‑automatic, rapid‑repeating disintegrator gun.
Having just eyeballed The List, I knew exactly who (make that what) I was dealing with: Number 33 in my top forty countdown.
“Prepare to die, traitor!” sneered the clanking cube.
“No thanks,” I said. “By the way, is Rubik your uncle or your aunt?” He growled and swung his ax, aiming for my head like my neck was the tee and my skull the ball.
I ducked into a crouch. He whiffed.
“Stee‑rike one,” I said.
Number 33 rotated ninety degrees to the left, jangling the belt of human and alien skulls he wore wrapped around his squarish waist. Swishing blades twirled and whirled on all sides of his chest. It was like fighting a berserk food processor. The boxy behemoth only had two stubby legs, but both were mounted on rolling swivels. Number 33 was definitely turning out to be hell on wheels.
He tried a downward log‑splitting lumberjack chop with the battle‑ax —the one with four razor‑sharp blades.
I was supposed to be the log.
I rolled right. Again, he whiffed.
He yanked his ax head out of the dirt with one arm and used two of the others to swing his Chinese broadsword and slash at me with the scimitar.
I dodged, then ducked.
Two swings. Two misses.
“Stee‑rikes three and four!”
I guess the official rules of baseball are different on Varladra, because he kept taking swings. I kept countering: juking and sidestepping, bobbing and weaving. I needed to figure out this creep’s weakness, and fast.
Fighting this four‑sided death machine was a lot like taking on four Attila the Huns at the same time.
I darted left to avoid a flying triple parry and follow‑up double thrust.
Man, the guy’s aim was definitely off. Maybe he needed four pairs of glasses for his four pairs of eyes. Maybe he was still blind as a bat.
I checked out his flat noses, swarthy complexion, and wispy Fu Manchu beards.
Wait a second.
Number 33 was Attila the Hun, one of the most fearsome Eurasian nomads to ever invade Rome and earn the name “Barbarian.” Or he had been Attila, back in the early to mid fifth century. All he needed was a fur‑lined helmet and a woolly vest. This killing machine had been on Earth for sixteen centuries and he’d never been beaten. Talk about your heavyweight champion of the world.
“Stand still, boy!” Attila growled at me. “Do not prolong the inevitable.”
“What’s the matter, hon?” I said, still flitting around like a hummingbird stoked on liquid sugar. I couldn’t resist the pun. “Have a rough day pillaging and plundering?”
Cube‑head sneered at me. I could see chunks of meat snagged between his rotting teeth.
“Prepare to die, weakling!”
“Sorry. No way am I letting you and your mongrel horde of mutant misfits destroy human civilization.”
“Foolish boy! This planet belongs to whoever or whatever is strong enough to take it!”
“Or defend it!”
Attila swiped a couple of hands roughly across a few of his slobbering mouths.
“Enough,” he said. “It is suppertime, and I am most hungry. Therefore, submit to me and die!”
Up came the disintegrator gun.
Good thing I finally figured out how to beat this guy.
In a flash, I turned myself into a bubbling hot pot of yak stew.
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.