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Daniel X: Game Over

When Daniel X discovers that a duo of evil extraterrestrials is plotting to control kids around the world through videogames, he's determined to take them both out of commission. This pair of wicked game masters wants to destroy the human race by turning brainwashed videogamers into an unstoppable army of doom! They're also running an endangered species hunting club on the side, and their next target is none other than Daniel. He'll have no choice but to turn to the aliens' rebellious son who needs help to stand up to his malicious parents. But can Daniel trust the progeny of this treacherous twosome? Or will it be "Game Over" for the alien hunter?

Book One | ENDANGERED SPECIES

Chapter 5

AS THE FIVE of us casually strolled out the front door of the Game Consortium—acting like we hadn't just witnessed a dress rehearsal for a massacre—I turned around and looked up at the hulking, looming, skyscraping GC Tower. I couldn't help imagining the eyes of the demonic duo and their subhenchmen following my every move.

"I gotta admit, those games were amazing," Willy was saying. "It was like I was playing inside a dream. The way you controlled your avatar almost just by thinking—"

"My personal theory," interrupted Joe, "is that they're using the games to destroy society by making people so hungry they can't think straight. I mean, is it me, or are you guys about to pass out from malnutrition? Quick, let's get some tempura!"

I raised an eyebrow at him. No level of danger or seriousness ever stops Joe from obsessing about food. The boy must have a forty-gallon stomach.

"I want miso," Emma chimed in. Even she, our most seriously peace-freaky friend, had gotten scarily sucked into the GC's first-person shooter games.

"Guys," I told Joe and Emma soberly. "You didn't see what the rest of us saw in that room. We've got two aliens a couple of steps away from wiping out the entire human species by means of a sinister plot to turn video-game players of the world into nonvirtual killing machines."

Dana's face was still ashen. "He's serious, you two. It was bad. Let me tell you."

"First things first," I said. "It's getting dark, and we have to go find ourselves a secure place to spend the night. Then we'll grab some grub and get these two caught up."

I walked over to a nearby glass-and-chrome bus shelter and scanned the route map. The GC building is located in the Nishi-Shinjuku district of Tokyo. It's a gleaming, bustling, ultradense corporate neighborhood with fancy retail and restaurants around the edges. We needed someplace a little quieter, a little less crowded, a little less likely to be frequented by Number 7 and Number 8's minions.

"Keihin," I said, spotting a sprawling, industrial-looking area on the map down along Tokyo Harbor. It seemed like the kind of place that would have plenty of good spots to hide, and not too many people—or aliens.

"Get on," I said, quickly materializing Pasmo fare cards and handing them out as a bus pulled up. "We've got a bit of a ride ahead of us."

"If I lose my mind from hunger," said Joe, "I'm blaming you."

"You lost your mind a long time ago," Dana quipped.

"I hope it's a scenic route," said Emma. "Apart from Number 7 and Number 8 being here, I'm loving what I've seen of this country so far. It's so...foreign."

I knew just what she meant, I thought, settling down by a window near the back of the mostly empty bus. Although, technically speaking, everything is foreign to me. I am, after all, quite possibly the universe's most displaced orphan. I clutched my arm to my chest as a wave of homesickness washed over me. I call it homesickness; yet I barely have any memory of what my home was like.

I turned and looked behind us out the bus window, hoping to hide my stupid emotions from my friends. The sinister GC Tower still loomed above us, and I again wondered if Number 7 and Number 8 were in there. Probably, I figured. The only things that have been constants in my life are the monsters I'm fated to kill—or die trying.

That and feeling sorry for myself, apparently. I needed to get a grip. What was that lesson I had I learned in my last martial arts training session? Something about how if your emotions are getting in the way, you need to tie them to what's going on around you. You need to link them to something practical and immediate.

Like the problem of six aliens masquerading as tattooed young thugs who got on the bus at the next stop.

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Milo Ventimiglia

Milo Ventimiglia stars in the hit NBC show Heroes and previously starred in Gilmore Girls. His films include Gamer alongside Gerard Butler (300), and Armored with Laurence Fishburne.

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