You’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…
“Basically we’re all gonna die.” Hope paced the floor behind me, cracking her knuckles again.
I stood before three monitors down here in The Cave and the different face filling each stared at me with wide eyes.
I’d stunned The Council Triad silent, which was saying a lot considering the middle one liked to talk. He was the leader, Victor, and he had a mustache so big it looked like it should be on a cartoon.
For ten minutes straight, right after our introduction, he’d ripped into me about the Realm Jump. Totally rude.
But my story about meeting the King of the Realms shut him up good.
“Riley, are you sure?” Margaret asked. Her long, white braid wrapped around her shoulder and the tip rested on the desk before her. Her big, brown eyes were pretty. She seemed like a nice person.
“Yes, ma’am. We have three days to find the scientists who made me.”
Samuel, the third Council Triad person, rubbed his bald head. “In light of this new information, I move we continue this conversation at another time.”
“But what’d you find out about Riley?” Braeden sat up from his chair. “We—he has a right to know.”
“You’re right, son,” Margaret said. “Your guardians will share the news. We have already debriefed them.”
“And we will get our team working on finding the scientists responsible for what happened to you, Riley,” Samuel said.
“Might be hard, we kinda blew up the place,” Braeden said. “And everyone in it.”
Samuel pounded the desk before him. “Serves them right for what—”
Victor cleared his throat and said, “Enough. Janet and Jeff. Debrief your charge while we confer on what to do about this new information.”
“More like confer on how to avoid annihilation,” Braeden whispered.
The screens flickered, then went blank.
“Slower than bread,” Braeden said, shaking his head. “They’re not going to find anything in time. You know that, right?”
“We’re not gonna die, ya know,” Tish smiled. “Because we’re going to give the King what he wants.”
Braeden looked at the crazy girl who didn’t seem the least bit worried about what I’d told them.
At least one person wasn’t, because I pretty much agreed with Hope on the whole dying thing.
Even if I did find the scientists, I couldn’t just hand them over to this evil King person. Well, I wasn’t for sure he was evil, but he was powerful. He’d transported me from the school to where he was on the field, then somehow hid us from everyone’s sight. Maybe even had stopped time!
How could I turn over people to him? He might vaporize them or something, and I needed them to find answers about how I was created. What I was.
But it wasn’t only that. I couldn’t hand them over to die.
I sat atop the big table in the center of the room and looked back at my crazy Kurator, genetically freaked up family. What chance did we stand against that King?
“Mom and Dad will help us find the people who hurt you, Riley.” Tish smiled and waved little Alastair at me. “And then everything will be okay.”
“Sorry munchkin, it’s not that easy,” Braeden said. “We’ve been doing this for years. Those scienceoids cover their tracks good. They have to, considering what they do. We blasted them hard to get Riley so they’re going to lie low for a while—much longer than the three days we have to find them.”
“How’d you guys find the scientists who had Riley in the first place?” Hope asked.
Braeden grinned. “Stellar investigative skills on my part.”
“Yeah, right. How’d they really find me?” I asked.
Hope busted out laughing.
Braeden smacked her shoulder. “Quit teaching him how to be a smart-aleck.”
Might as well get the other mess started. “What’d they find out about me?”
Jeff let out a long breath and said, “The Archivists continue to research the Coin and the marking on it. But this much we know. It is called The Coin of Srupiso. The image has been roughly matched to the Egyptian symbol of Truth. We’re finding it means The Chosen.”
“Chosen?” Braeden asked. “For what?”
“We’re not sure, yet.” Jeff said.
That wasn’t very helpful.
“Sir. One of those creatures called us Jumpers, and Tish called us the same,” I said.
“Well, you two. Not us.” Braeden pointed at Tish and me. “You guys are the ones marked.”
“There’s a vague reference in the archives to individuals able to Jump Realms,” Jeff said. “No description of what a Realm was or how it worked.”
“At least you found something about Realms,” I said. “That’s good. That means somebody knew about them.”
“Sketchy records at best, buddy. Hundreds of years ago they didn’t have great documenting options. Stories. Drawings. Scrolls. But stories get distorted over time. We can’t be sure how accurate things are.”
“Any mention of a coin?” Braeden asked.
“No. But several hundred years ago, there was documentation on a great event. Drawings of magnificent creatures donning armor of silver and purple robes. Great beings carrying staffs. They were deemed Gods. The history books labeled them as folklore. You know, the Titan and Greek Gods. Stories.”
“And now, sir?” I asked.
“And now, because of you, the Archivists are taking a new look at what they once thought was fiction,” Janet said.
“What am I?” I asked, totally embarrassed when my voice cracked.
“Honey, there’s no easy way to say this.” Janet cleared her throat and stood.
Her bright eyes seemed darker. Sad almost. Pretty sure I wasn’t going to like what she had to say, but I needed to know.
“You’re the victim of some very disturbing experiments. Ones we couldn’t even fathom. You’re special.”
I sure didn’t want to be.
Tish hopped up from her chair and put her arms around my legs that dangled over the table. She rested her head on my lap.
Yep. This was going to be bad.
“These scientists somehow captured two creatures from other Realms. A Barbarian and a Fae. Through technology, years beyond what is publicized, they combined their DNA with human DNA—from multiple subjects. Each human subject met certain standards. Athletics, intelligence, strength and many other criteria according to the documents. The experimental procedures weren’t specifically described, but we gather that the DNA from these subjects were from an elite group of men and were further cleansed and manipulated, then combined with the alien DNA to produce…you.”
That was pretty much the worst-case scenario. Combined. Manipulated. Alien. Those words should not be in the same sentence when talking about how I was created.
I eased Tish away and jumped down from the table. My stomach clenched like I’d gone down the highest roller coaster without a seat belt on.
I’d been created in a lab. “They made me in a Petri dish?”
“Honey,” Janet whispered. “Yes. I’m sorry. Yes.”
“I’m not human.” I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. “Alien.”
“No. Honey. You’re Riley. You’re an amazing boy. So caring. Protective. Strong.”
“Literally,” Braeden said.
“Buddy, you have twenty-one dads, so to speak. They took the finest samples they could, combined them with this alien DNA. Your mom. The woman. She gave birth to you after only six months. Within the first year you were alive, you aged nearly five years. Within the second year, you looked as you do now.”
I gulped. “I’m two?”
Janet grabbed my hand. “The most recent document we were able to decode was from about six months ago and it indicated you’d been alive for almost three years.”
“Cognitively, you tested quite a bit above that, though, of course,” Jeff said. “They last placed you at an eleven-year-old reading and comprehension level. But with your photographic mind—”
“He’s still a little boy. I don’t care what the tests show or how big he is.” Janet hugged me. “You’re our boy!”
“Two Realms,” I said, my voice shaky as I peeled away from Janet. “The documents said I have two Realms in me. Barbarian and Fairy. You sure there’s nothing else?”
She nodded. “That’s all we found so far.”
“How’d they get the alien samples?” I had to keep talking. Had to know. Otherwise I didn’t know what I would do. I didn’t want to hear any more, but I did. “Sounds like only certain people can Jump and if I was created out of nothing how can I?”
“Not sure on that one, kiddo. While the documents you guys obtained from the safe helped, they were far from conclusive. But we assume they used The Coin somehow.”
“Or, the creatures illegally Jumped here with their Coins and were captured,” Janet said. “Probably experimented on.”
“And that King-guy is pissed,” Braeden said. “As in end the world pissed.”
“He seemed pretty set on getting those scientists.” I shoved my hands in my pockets. “He went right for the destroy everything option until I asked him to rethink it.”
Jeff shook his head. “How have we not known about these Realms? From the sounds of this King, he’s old. And that Barbarian creature said he was one of the first.”
“Like the government doesn’t hide things all the time. Hello…Area 51,” Braeden said.
“Maybe something bad happened before,” Janet spoke up. “Deals are made in government all the time. Handshakes. Treaties. Keeping things from us.”
“Yeah,” Braeden said. “That King said you did what was forbidden. So you’re right, something happened before. Bad stuff. That made it forbidden.”
“But he pretty much Jumped himself. His little guard thing, too. So they can do it but no one else can? Oh, and did I mention there were people around us but they didn’t see anything?”
“Yes.” Jeff tapped his chin, thinking. “Could be some sort of magic. Spells or something.”
“Fairies! They’re magic!” Hope said. “Right?”
At this point anything was possible.
“And you heal people,” Janet said. “That’s an amazing magic.”
“They’re pale, too,” Tish whispered. “At least. I think. In my dreams they’re tall, pale people.”
“You’ve dreamt them?” I asked.
“Not sure what I dream, sometimes. Until I see something. Then I remember. And your eyes. I’ve seen them before. But not on you.”
“Fairy eyes,” Hope said. “I bet they’re fairy eyes.”
“Okay. Back to The King,” Jeff said. “We have to assume he has the ability to end our world.”
“And it looks like we’re the only ones who can stop it,” I said.
“But Riley isn’t trained.” Janet shook her head. “And Tish, she’s so—and Hope. We can’t—”
“I can find them,” Tish whispered. “I’ll have a vision. I know it.”
“Can you control them?” Janet asked.
“No. But I’ll get a vision. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”
“She had a dream about me,” I said. “Before she came to us. And, then the creature in the Barbarian Realm, she’d seen him in a dream, too.”
“Not to mention the mark showing up on her when it burned you,” Hope said.
I glanced at my hand. “We must be meant to deal with this.”
“Honey, no,” Janet said. “We are. Kurators have protected innocents for centuries.”
“Even if we find the scientists, how can we turn them over? What if The King kills them?” My heart went bonkers in my chest. “I can’t—we can’t turn them over to die.”
Janet smiled. “And that’s what makes you so extraordinary, Riley. Despite what they did to you, you still care about their lives.”
“A few lives for billions,” Braeden said. “They’ve hurt so many people. Even killed them with their experiments gone bad. I say we turn them over.”
Sacrifice a few evil scientists to save the Earth. It should be a no-brainer…
But it wasn’t.
Join us Friday for Chapter 23 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.
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See you soon….