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The Last Qumranian
Lukas is the last Qumranian, an ancient sect sworn to protect the prophecies, buried beneath the sky. There's just one problem, his timeline has been altered.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/Rgfjp 5132 views
|12 publishers interested|
He’s the last of a secret sect that can protect the prophecies that bind the worlds together. And they’re coming for his life…
When the Unclean—a militant force masked by dark magic—attack the hidden Qumranian compound under what once was the Dead Sea, only to find himself a prisoner in a foreign landscape among a ruthless religious group that slaughters any who oppose them in the streets.
Lukas must not only struggle to stay alive but locate the only thing that can prevent the Unclean from destroying the world: an artifact that can—and probably already has—changed human history. But if Lukas can’t retrieve the artifact before more damage is done to the timeline of history, he may be forever lost in an alternate timeline.
With time running out, Lukas needs to make a choice between recovering his past life and saving the future. But what happens when his effort to save the world turns out to be the same thing that could destroy it?
This new and exciting Science Fiction series is the expanded telling of the highly acclaimed graphic novel, Lukas, designed by artists of Marvel, DC, and Image.
Scroll up and one-click today to secure your coveted copy of THE LAST QUMRANIAN to read the book before it makes its way to the big screen for film and video game adaptation!
The Infinity Chronicles series:
The Last Qumranian — Coming April 21, 2019
The Last Prophet — Coming May 21, 2019
The Last War — Coming June 21, 2019
Lovers of science fiction, thrillers, and end-of-the-world stories that leave you clinging to your seat with the thought, "What the heck just happened!"
Readers who enjoy futuristic stories like Ghost in the Shell, fantasy like Lord of the Rings, and multi-galaxy quests like Star Trek or Star Wars, will gravitate toward this series.
Oh! And did we mention there's a possibility of vampires, zombies, and other alien species in altered timelines and galaxies? Yup! We've got it all.
Joe Basile is an Italian guy who grew up in Chicago as the youngest of ten siblings. Much of his life was shaped by the death of his mom at a young age. He dropped out of High School and became a local rap artist.
As that evolved, his Christian friends’ love and fearless sharing of the gospel, with confidence and no judgment, gravitated him to Christ. After he gave his life to Christ, he shifted to rapping about Jesus, but eventually felt called to become a Pastor.
He went from a high school dropout, with no hope or future, to obtaining his GED, completing his Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies at TIU - Deerfield, IL. to playing college basketball, and later becoming Chaplain for the Chicago Fire and L.A. Galaxy.
Over his life, he’s had the privilege to experience the fullness of loss and the revival that comes through the generous love of others. He lives in Clovis, CA, with his beautiful wife and their three precious children.
And while Joe has experienced a lot, life is not over. There’s work to be done for the Kingdom of God. Through his creative visions, he hopes to share a new and fresh way of seeing the gospel brought to light.
He’s currently writing his new Science Fiction series, The Infinity Chronicles, set for release in the near future, in addition to his highly anticipated graphic novel, Lukas, partnered and designed by artists from Marvel, DC, and Image.
With his tremendous connections in Hollywood, his script, Lukas, is a potential for film, with discussions being made with various directors and backers, by which The Infinity Chronicles series is based around. If all goes well, his series will be a graphic novel, film, bestselling series, and video game.
These are only the cusp of the creative genius and plans he has for the future of entertainment and ministry.
I've been blessed over the years to meet and partner with some fantastic people within the film, writing, podcast & interview, pastoral, and creative fields.
I will tap into my social media platforms to connect with fans.
Personal profile and friend's list of 5,000
Artist page with 4,100+ fans.
Author page with 4,500+ fans.
I'll send posts & updates to over 100 groups.
Personal profile of 1,400 fans
Personal profile of 1,687 fans
Personal profile of 3,371 connections (many of which are within the film industry)
Personal correspondents in email of 1,000+
I'll reach out and connect with my sources within the film industry, such as USA Today bestselling writers, Radio DJs, Fox anchor, my connections with HISTORY & TRAVEL channel, the thousands of people I've pastored over the last 20 years, previous ministry backers, pitch to churches and pastors, and more.
Competition (similar to) for the Infinity Chronicles Series:
Title: Split Second
Subtitle: Split Second Book 1
Author: Douglas E. Richards
Publisher: Paragon Press
Publication Year: September 1, 2015
A stunningly unique take on time travel. The 27th bestselling Kindle book of 2017--out of almost 6 million titles.
What if you found a way to send something back in time? But not weeks, days, or even minutes back. What if you could only send something back a fraction of a second? Would this be of any use? You wouldn't have nearly enough time to right a wrong, change an event, or win a lottery.
Nathan Wexler is a brilliant physicist who thinks he's found a way to send matter a split second back into the past. But before he can even confirm his findings, he and his wife-to-be, Jenna Morrison, find themselves in a battle for their very lives. Because while time travel to an instant earlier seems useless, Jenna comes to learn that no capability in history has ever been more profound or far-reaching.
Now, as Jenna fights to defeat the powerful forces arrayed against her, nothing less than the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. . .
SPLIT SECOND is a roller-coaster ride of a thriller, one that will have readers pondering the nature of time, and of reality, long after they've read the last page.
How is our book different: While Split Second deals with traveling back a fraction, The Last Qumranian goes much further, think thousands of years. And to the point that a single place in time alters all of history.
Title: In Times Like These
Subtitle: A Time Travel Adventure
Author: Nathan Van Coops
Publisher: Skylighter Press
Publication Year: November 13, 2013
They have a dangerous past. They just haven't lived it yet.
"We broke something. How do you break time? Can something so bad happen that you fracture the world?"
Benjamin Travers has been electrocuted. What’s worse, he and his friends have woken up in the past. As the friends search for a way home, they realize they’re not alone. There are other time travelers, and some of them are turning up dead.
When Ben meets an enigmatic scientist and his charming, time-traveling daughter, salvation seems at hand, but escaping the dangers of the past may lead to a deadly future.
If he hopes to save his friends, Ben must learn to master space and time, and survive a journey where past and future violently collide.
Action and romance heat up in this first book of the time travel adventure series.
How is our book different: Much like the characters in In Times Like These, our lead in The Last Qumranian also finds himself in an altered timeline much different from the one he was in not hours before. And now he must not only fight to stay alive, but to correct the timeline before all of history is lost.
Subtitle: Extracted Trilogy Book 1
Author: RR Haywood
Publication Year: March 1, 2017
In 2061, a young scientist invents a time machine to fix a tragedy in his past. But his good intentions turn catastrophic when an early test reveals something unexpected: the end of the world.
A desperate plan is formed. Recruit three heroes, ordinary humans capable of extraordinary things, and change the future.
Safa Patel is an elite police officer, on duty when Downing Street comes under terrorist attack. As armed men storm through the breach, she dispatches them all.
'Mad' Harry Madden is a legend of the Second World War. Not only did he complete an impossible mission—to plant charges on a heavily defended submarine base—but he also escaped with his life.
Ben Ryder is just an insurance investigator. But as a young man he witnessed a gang assaulting a woman and her child. He went to their rescue, and killed all five.
Can these three heroes, extracted from their timelines at the point of death, save the world?
How is our book different: While in Extracted a time machine is invented, in The Last Qumranian, time travel is invented to join the world below with the world above. The only problem is that demonic presences wanted to use the technology to alter a different timeline: one where the Messiah never lived.
Subtitle: The Atopia Chronicles
Author: Matthew Mather
Publisher: Matthew Mather ULC
Publication Year: March 15, 2013
NEW YORK GOES DARK IN THE DEAD OF WINTER...
A TERRIFYING MYSTERY BEGINS...
BUT WHO IS THE ENEMY? AND WILL THEY STRIKE AGAIN?
Mike Mitchell is an average New Yorker struggling just to keep his family together when a string of disasters shreds the bustling megacity around them.
The Internet and communication networks go down...a deadly epidemic rages across the country...then a monster snowstorm cuts New York off from the world.
Days go by without contact to the outside world. Then weeks. Murder and vigilante justice replace law and order. Millions fight to survive.
In the chaos, conspiracy theories rage about a foreign cyberattack. Was it the North Koreans? The Russians? The Chinese? Might it be the first shockwave of a global shift in power? But even these questions become unimportant as Mike and his family struggle for survival in the wintry tomb of a doomed New York.
How is our book different: While Cyberstorm is about an EMP attack and the catastrophic impact the would have on the world, The Last Qumranian is of a similar devastating technology (when in the wrong hands) that could not only destroy when civilizations, but alter entire timelines and events from history.
Author: Dean Koontz
Publication Year: May 6, 2008
On his thirty-sixth birthday, Travis Cornell hikes into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. But his path is soon blocked by a bedraggled Golden Retriever who will let him go no further into the dark woods.
That morning, Travis had been desperate to find some happiness in his lonely, seemingly cursed life. What he finds is a dog of alarming intelligence that soon leads him into a relentless storm of mankind’s darkest creation…
How is our book different: The Last Qumranian uses fantasy elements coupled with futuristic technological advancements, while simultaneously marrying that technology with ancient culture.
Title: Yesterday’s Thief
Subtitle: An Eric Beckman Paranormal Sci-Fi Thriller (Eric Beckman Series Book 1)
Author: Al Macy
Publication Year: February 11, 2016
Private detective Eric Beckman can read minds.
Although he reads only the conscious thoughts of the people he interviews, it usually gives him enough of an edge to overcome his inexperience as a PI. But mind reading is hell on relationships. Trusting comes hard when you know what people are really thinking.
The case of his life lands in his lap when a beautiful woman materializes during a televised baseball game. She floats in midair, then drops to the ground, comatose.
Beckman is at her bedside when she wakes up. From the moment she opens her eyes, she has him under her spell. He vows to figure out where—or when—she came from, even if it kills him.
The stakes increase when she disappears without a trace. Worse, she holds the key to a worldwide energy catastrophe. If Beckman can’t find her and unlock her secrets, economies will collapse, and the world will spiral down into chaos.
How is our book different: Just as the character in Yesterday’s Thief seemingly appears and vanishes, our lead in The Last Qumranian also experiences a similar moment when his body is possessed by a demonic presence and whipped through space time, except he’s stranded in the altered timeline without the time travel device to help him correct history.
Title: The Man of Legends
Author: Kenneth Johnson
Publication Year: July 1, 2017
New York City, New Year’s weekend, 2001. Jillian Guthrie, a troubled young journalist, stumbles onto a tantalizing mystery: the same man, unaged, stands alongside Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gandhi in three different photographs spanning eighty-five years of history.
In another part of town, Will—an enigmatic thirty-three-year-old of immense charm, wit, and intelligence—looks forward to the new year with hope and trepidation. Haunted by his secret past and shadowed by a dangerous stranger, he finds himself the object of an intense manhunt spearheaded by an ambitious Vatican emissary and an elderly former UN envoy named Hanna.
During the next forty-eight hours, a catastrophic event unites Will, Jillian, and Hanna—and puts them in the crosshairs of a centuries-old international conspiracy. Together, the three must unravel an ancient curse that stretches back two millennia and beyond, and face a primal evil that threatens their lives and thousands more.
Award-winning science-fiction mastermind Kenneth Johnson blends epic adventure, romance, and evocative drama into an intense supernatural thriller rooted in one of the great untold legends of human history.
How is our book different: The Last Qumranian also exhibits a dark evil that spans thousands of years. However, instead of ageless beings, ours can travel through time and alter history. And thus, alter timelines as they go, in essence, never again unless they remain in that current timeline.
Lukas rubbed a hand over his face and slowly sat up in his cot. He tried to remind himself that today would be like any day, except that if he wasn’t successful … Well, his life was in God’s hands. And God had placed the science in the hands of him and his team.
Slowly, he slipped his bare feet onto the tiled floor, stood, and went to the window beside his cot. He preferred to keep the blind down while he slept. It kept out the constant, low glow so he could spend the nighttime hours in complete darkness, and it made his morning view that much more incredible when he opened the blind. He did this now, blinking against the yellow glare outside, and gave himself a few moments to stare out at the vast expanse of his home, their Paradise on Earth.
The luminescent ceiling panels had already brightened, the light and heat and ultraviolet measurements meticulously calibrated to mimic the true sun, complete with the timing and rhythm of the Earth’s rotational cycles. Even this far underground, their timeline followed the natural order of things to near perfection, and when he did not think about it too hard, Lukas found himself able to forget sometimes where they were.
For miles upon miles, the ceiling panels stretched endlessly before him in this vast underground cavern, shining down upon the Agricultural Sector. Directly below him at the base of the cavern wall in which his quarters had been built, the thick, lush grass grew right up against the rise of the grey stone. Then it gave way to an apple orchard, spanning some twenty acres, the tops of the trees a mere blur of green from where he stood so far above them. The plots of farmland spread seemingly without end—acres of rich soil sprouting corn, wheat, beans, potatoes, fruit in all varieties, greens in thousands of documented strains.
Lukas took all of it in as if he were seeing it for the first time, then turned from the window and padded across the small room toward the cabinet built into the far wall. The overhead lights blinked on as he moved, softly adding to the manufactured and no less stunning daylight streaming in through his window. He opened the cabinets to pull out what served as his daily uniform—slate-grey pants, thin and breathable yet durable, and a long-sleeved shirt of the same color that pulled easily over his head.
On the low table beside the cabinets, a crystalline box no bigger than his hand pulsed to life, emitting a soft blue glow with each syllable of the steadfastly optimistic female voice emitting from it. “Lukas. It is First Dimming. Your presence is required in the Sector One Main Laboratory in one hour.”
With a pair of socks in hand, Lukas closed the cabinet doors and walked to the other end of the room. “Thanks. What’s the status of the power grid and energy lattices this morning?” He stopped at the small desk against the wall and set his socks beside the only other two items on the desk—a framed certificate with Hedge Master printed at the top in large, dark letters, his name slightly smaller beneath it; and the black, loose-fitting sparring uniform, pants and shirt both folded neatly, the frog-closure buttons of the shirt centered perfectly beneath the collar.
“Both are fully operational,” the box replied.
“They better be,” Lukas muttered, slipping his feet into his boots and lifting a leg onto the chair to tie the laces.
“The Circle of Elders and the Teacher of Righteousness all send their best wishes for today’s final test run and—”
“Yeah, yeah. I know.” Lukas waved a hand as if the disembodied voice could see him, then lifted his other leg to finish lacing up his boots. “Just give me a rundown of the energy fields.”
“Solar flare activity is within normal limits. Electromagnetic field activity is within normal limits. There are no reports of geological anomalies. You have prepared contingencies for all eventualities. There is no reason for concern.”
Lukas puffed out a sigh. “I wish I had your confidence.”
“You now have fifty-two minutes until your presence is required in the Sector One Main Laboratory.”
“Yeah. Got it.” Finished with his boots, Lukas turned toward the plain door to his quarters. A bowl of apples rested on the short, low counter beside the door—the only color in the entire room—and he grabbed one of these. He couldn’t start with an empty stomach, but this was about as much as he could handle.
Stepping out into the hallway, Lukas closed the door behind him and headed toward Sector One.
The Qumranian Compound had all been cut into the very stone of these caverns, the endless maze of passages a blend of roughhewn walls and smooth, tiled floors lined by metal paneling, tracked lighting illuminating the wide spaces with a soft glow. When he finally reached Sector One after navigating turn after countless turn through the corridors—all of which he could make successfully in his sleep at this point—the hallways were even wider now and lit with an intense white fluorescence. Lukas walked quickly, his boots echoing softly down the hall, and another pair of footsteps matched his until another man in the same uniform with short brown hair turned into the hallway from the opposite end.
The men smiled at each other and met in front of the next passageway to Lukas’ left. “Good to know I’m not the only one running late this morning,” Lukas said.
“You’re the only one who seems happy about it,” his cousin said, his jaw set tightly as he offered a wane smile.
Lukas clapped his cousin on the shoulder. “Relax, Jesse. Five years of work, and we finally get to test it. We’ve been over every equation and simulation hundreds of times. The data doesn’t lie. Deborah will tell you the same thing.”
Jesse frowned and took a deep breath. “I know.”
“After this successful run today—and it will be successful—we’ll prove to the Elders that we have nothing to fear from the Outsiders. This technology puts us a hundred years ahead of them. Maybe even a thousand. There’s nothing we won’t be able to do.” Together, they turned down the hallway branching in front of them toward the Main Laboratory.
“I know,” Jesse repeated and rubbed the back of his head. “I just can’t help wondering about the unknown variables—”
“Well, we can’t account for those, can we?” Lukas said with a chuckle. He didn’t understand how his cousin could harbor so much doubt on a day like today. They were doing God’s work, and they would not fail.
They reached the end of the corridor and the steel double doors of the Main Laboratory waiting for them. Grinning, Lukas pushed open the doors and gently nudged his cousin inside. Other than the living quarters, the Sector One laboratory complex boasted the highest number of rooms in which the underground walls of stone had been completely covered. One might even forget the thousands of tons of pressure resting above them this far underground. The walls were a smooth, sterile white, the tile floors polished nearly enough to see their own reflections. In the center of the Main Laboratory sat a wide, circular raised platform, surrounded by three curved consoles of equal length.
Deborah and the rest of their staff already stood at these, glancing up from the computer monitors when Lukas and Jesse entered. Deborah smiled, her long brown hair pulled back into a ponytail above the same slate-grey uniform her brother and cousin wore. “It’s amazing how consistent you guys are in showing up late.”
“We allowed for a thirty-minute gap in our schedule,” Lukas said. “I’d say we’re right on time.” He turned and elbowed Jesse in the ribs, who then stepped toward Deborah.
“Right on time to get started on initial preparations.” Jesse rubbed his hands together and peered over his sister’s shoulder at the numbers scrolling across the monitor screen.
“Everything’s already been done,” she said, leaning forward a little to meet Lukas’ gaze. “We’re all ready to go. Just had to wait for you two to show up.” Lukas smirked and came to join his cousins while Deborah leaned back and called out to the rest of their team. “Okay, everyone. Get to your stations. We’re about to begin.” As their team of eleven other scientists took up their positions at the consoles around the central platform, Jesse and Lukas stood on either side of Deborah, glancing together at the display on her monitor screen. “Just think,” she said, her voice low enough for just the three of them. “If this works, it changes everything. Lukas, you and I could go Outside—”
“Stop,” Lukas interrupted, glancing up at the research team getting to work around them. No one seemed to have heard her, and he forced a smile onto his face before continuing. “The Law is the law, Deb. Even suggesting something like that could bring this whole thing crumbling down around us. Not just our jobs.” He glanced down at her quickly, but she only stared straight ahead at the center platform, her expression unreadable. “We have an incredible opportunity, here. Resources and possibilities no one Outside could even dream of—”
Jesse cleared his throat. “The Law is the law,” he muttered, his voice strained with tension. “You could both be executed for treason. Please don’t talk about this here. Not now. I’d also suggest not ever.”
“I’m not trying to fight the Law,” Lukas said. “I understand its meaning and the purposes behind it, and I support it fully. All I’m saying is we may be opening new avenues with our success today.”
“God gave us these tools for a reason, Jess,” Deborah said. “Could His plan really be for us to remain down here?”
“That’s heresy,” Jesse hissed through gritted teeth. “Lukas follows the Law, Deborah. In everything we do. Two thousand years we’ve been down here, God’s chosen people, blessed with His holy knowledge. The fruits of that gift are all around us. And this”—he gestured to the center platform and the low steel table resting upon it—“this is His promise fulfilled. If this is successful, we can ensure our safety until the Messiah comes.”
“When this is successful,” Lukas corrected. They would not fail in this today; he felt it in his bones. What they accomplished would go down in the records for all posterity—how this team brought God’s knowledge to life in their hands.
“Every Qumranian scientist knows the Outside world has changed,” Deborah added. “Even you can’t disagree, Jesse. And we’ve changed. What if we could live in peace with those above? What if—”
“That’s enough,” Lukas interrupted, not wanting to encourage his cousin’s outlandish thinking. “Conjecture doesn’t produce results, does it? Until we perform this last test, nothing is certain. So let’s get to work, huh?” This was what they were meant to do, not sit around and argue law and theology. Jesse and Deborah both turned to look at him, and despite the strain in Jesse’s brow and the flush rising up Deborah’s cheeks, they both nodded. Jesse left the station and headed toward the next console over. Lukas stepped forward toward the center platform. “You made all the final adjustments?” he asked, turning back to glance between Deborah and Mark, another of the top-rated scientists on their team standing right beside her.
Mark nodded. “We set your new parameters and adjusted the internal web fields. We’re good to go.”
Lukas gave a curt nod and continued his path toward the platform. “Jesse, set the codes for five minutes into the future. Return time at thirty seconds from now. Deborah, I want maximum data on this. Everything the web fields affect. The whole region, not just the lab.”
“Got it,” she said behind him.
With a deep breath of anticipation, Lukas stepped up onto the platform and approached the stainless steel table there. He gazed down at the quantum sphere in the center of the table—their final test, the product of so much hard work and dedication. About a foot in diameter, the sphere swirled with an opaque transparency, constantly shifting like cream stirred into a cup of coffee. Tendrils of circuitry lay beneath the sphere’s surface, coiling around each other, floating in stasis there as if they were only waiting for Lukas to bring them to life. And that was exactly what he intended to do.
Raising his right hand, which held as steady as his certainty, Lukas eyed the sphere and plunged his hand slowly and carefully into the swirling mass, passing through the exterior membrane as if it were water. The circuitry inside blinked to life, unfurling like so many snakes to entwine around his outstretched fingers with just enough pressure to assure him they’d made the connection. “All right,” he called, unable to look away from the sphere, feeling the power of God’s gifted knowledge humming around his hand. “Give me a countdown.”
“Five. Four. Three. Two. One.”
The circuitry glowed into a bright white, like metal coils heating over a flame, then the glow burst out from his hand, through the sphere, and past his body to encompass him, the table, and the center platform. He glanced up at the glowing, fluid dome curving above him, then turned his head to meet Deborah’s wide-eyed gaze. He only caught a brief glimpse of Jesse next before a blue wave of light followed the first, growing and then bursting around him. A blast of icy cold trembled through his fingers, up his arm, and into each follicle of his scalp before another blinding flash erupted through the Main Laboratory. And then Lukas couldn’t see anything at all.
Deborah blinked against the glaring blue flash on the center platform, taking a brief moment to remind herself that this was supposed to happen. Lukas, the steel table, and the quantum orb were gone. She punched in the new timing sequence to count down five minutes. Licking her lips, she turned to her brother at the next console over, and Jesse met her wide-eyed gaze, looking as pale with anticipation as she felt.
He cleared his throat. “Watch the monitors,” he instructed the team. “Look for any anomalies in the web field, even if it seems insignificant. Deborah, everything looking good on your end?”
She glanced back down at her screen, the numbers working in her mind almost as quickly as they sorted themselves out in front of her. “Yes. All the readings are consistent and still within the viable range.” And still, even the hard proof before her wasn’t enough to combat her racing heart or the fact that her sweaty fingers had nearly slipped on the control keys. If they’d made even one mistake—one tiny miscalculation—they could have just sent Lukas anywhere in space and time … or nowhere at all. That thought was agonizingly unbearable, so she forced herself to focus instead on the timer she’d started again at zero.
The lab had never been so quiet, the unspoken tension quivering in the air like a web spun between each one of them, caught in a soft breeze. When the timer reached twenty-eight seconds, Deborah opened her mouth to announce it, but Jesse beat her to it.
“It should be right…”
The huge globe of blue light burst into existence around the central platform, blinding Deborah again with another twinge of heart-shocking cold that gave her goosebumps beneath her long-sleeved top. Just as quickly, the blue faded into a warmer amber, shrinking in on itself until the light disappeared completely and revealed their results.
Lukas turned to look at them over his shoulder with a grin. “How’d we do?” Mark let out a whoop of triumph behind her, nearly making Deborah leap out of her own skin. Jesse gave a surprised chuckle, and then Lukas erupted into his own burst of laughter. “All right. First part’s over. We’re not done yet, people. Someone help me clear the table and the machine off the platform. Gotta be ready for the next stage.”
“I got it,” Jesse said and left his station at the center console, nearly skipping toward the platform in his excitement. Lukas slowly slid his hand out of the quantum orb, giving the circuitry time to uncoil from his fingers. Their lights dimmed and faded, but the orb still swirled endlessly. Together, the men lifted the table from the platform and eased it off. The quantum orb trembled in its cradle bolted to the table, but it held even when Jesse’s back foot didn’t take the full step off the platform and his heel bounced against the edge of it. Deborah took in a sharp breath, feeling lightheaded and nauseous. But her cousin and brother safely delivered the steel table to the lab’s tiled floors, and everyone fixed their eyes once more on the platform.
Deborah caught Lukas’ gaze, and he offered her a ridiculously overconfident wink. Then he clapped a hand on Jesse’s shoulder, shook him just a little, and waited. When the timer reached the five-minute mark, the blue glow erupted a third time to engulf the platform. Deborah turned her head against the glare; the next time they used this machine, she better remember to bring a heavier jacket against the instant drop in temperature. This time, the web field remained around the platform, though the light dimmed slightly to reveal what was inside. There stood Lukas, his hand in the quantum orb upon the table. She glanced quickly from the newly arrived version of him—the Lukas from five minutes ago, looking a bit shocked and yet still entirely certain—to the Lukas of the present with his hand on Jesse’s shoulder. The two identical figures grinned at each other and waved like children catching sight of their best friend, and then the entire web field vanished, leaving nothing behind but the cleared, empty platform.
The silence in the lab was deafening. Lukas turned around to address the team, opening his arms in mock insult. “What, you can’t handle two of me in the same place at the same time? C’mon, people. There’s your proof. We warped time.” He paused, then shook his arms again and shouted, “We can control time!”
The team burst into cheers all around them, and Deborah found herself laughing hysterically, burying her face in her hands. She vaguely heard her brother mutter, “Maybe we should have had you step out of the lab. I don’t know if we calculated all the risks of two of you in the same place—”
“It was only thirty seconds, Jesse,” Lukas replied. Deborah lowered her hands from her face to watch the exchange. Lukas had his hand on Jesse’s shoulder again, leaning in until their foreheads almost touched. “Thirty seconds of success. Life-changing success.”
Jesse seemed to finally catch the contagious excitement churning through the lab, and his frown of concern melted into a goofy grin. “We did it.”
Seeing her brother relax made Deborah feel even better; what they’d just done was nothing short of a miracle, and despite all the work they still had ahead of them, this changed everything. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her gaze in a silent prayer of thanks, then froze. Something shimmered in the air between Lukas and the platform—a wavering, slightly skewed, humanoid form. She blinked and looked again, but it was gone. Maybe they should wear protective eyewear next time against the glare of the web field.
Linda appeared beside her, the only other woman on their team, and nudged Deborah with a shoulder. “They’ll be getting drunk tonight and raving about this for the next twenty-four hours.”
Deborah turned to her with a wry smile and folded her arms. “That doesn’t sound too bad. I think they deserve it.” Linda laughed and walked around the console to shake hands with the rest of the team.
“The next thing we do,” Lukas started, speaking to them all, “is to send the data to the Circle of Elders. We still have to collect it all, sort it out into analyzed evidence. I would have invited them to join us today, but I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.” That brought a round of relieved laughter from the team.
Deborah watched her cousin in his element, directing and congratulating, encouraging everyone on the enormous breakthrough they’d just witnessed. She couldn’t believe this day had finally come, and she couldn’t wait to get started on their next steps for securing the safety of the future—everyone’s future. The prospect of what that might mean brought her earlier conversation with Jesse and Lukas to mind. With the manipulation of time at their fingertips came so many other possibilities for technological advancements—for real defenses to be built; greatly superior medical capabilities; boosting agricultural production. Why would they have to use it against so many people Outside when they could put it to use for the greater good of every living soul on this Earth?
She blinked, seeing the wavering outline of a human form oscillating in the air again just above her cousin, only this time, it was larger. Lukas seemed oblivious, as did everyone else, so caught up in their excitement. But it had been too much time since the glare of the web field for this to be a retinal afterimage. And it was moving.
Trying to both listen to Lukas’ speech and watch this strange new image at the same time, Deborah found herself wondering if this was one of those risks about which Jesse had seemed so concerned. She glanced down at her monitor again, scanning the data, flipping through what they’d already captured. Their system had caught absolutely nothing outside the normal ranges.
“This is the single greatest invention in the history of mankind,” Lukas said, then lowered his head and looked each of his team members in the eye. “I am so proud of all of you and the years of work you’ve put into this—” His sentence stopped as if someone had pressed pause on the entire moment. The victorious scientists all looked at him with eager anticipation, smiles widening at what had to be another of their team leader’s many gags. But it went on just a second too long, and it looked like Lukas had stopped breathing.
“Lukas?” Jesse asked, leaning forward to catch his cousin’s gaze. Lukas let out a thin sigh and lowered his hands by his side, but he stared blankly ahead at nothing. “What’s going on?”
Lukas brushed past him and walked stiffly through the ring of scientists who had just been listening so intently to his celebratory speech. He moved around Deborah’s control console and stopped beside her to open one of the drawers at hip level. His fingers wrapped around the red globe of the energy phaser kept for security, sliding it effortlessly into one of the side pockets of his gray pants.
“What are you going to do with that?” Deborah tried to whisper, feeling herself tremble when she wondered if he’d changed his mind about the protocol with the Circle of Elders. Had he seen something when he jumped through time? But this wasn’t Lukas; she leaned forward to try to get him to look at her, but his gaze slid across her face as if she didn’t exist at all. This close, the sight of his eyes horrified her—glazed over without the natural shine of alertness; darkened as if covered by a thin black veil.
When he stepped in front of her, focused intently on her command console, Deborah was too stunned to resist the force of his body nudging her aside. “Lukas?” she said again, then jerked her head up to find her brother. “Jesse, something’s wrong—”
A whirring tap came from the command console. Lukas’ fingers moved with inhuman speed across the keys, his hands blurring in her vision. Deborah’s stomach dropped as if she’d just fallen from a two-story window, and she could only stare.
“What’s going on?” Jesse called, but Deborah couldn’t answer. She could barely even breathe. “Deb? Lukas?”
Lukas turned and headed back around the console, completely oblivious to his cousins’ concern. The other scientists watched him in confusion, and then he approached the steel table and the quantum orb resting there. He plunged his hand through the membrane, bringing the circuitry to life again.
“Hey,” Jesse called. “We haven’t—” The circuitry lights pulsed around Lukas’ hand in the startup sequence. Jesse ran toward his own console and vaulted over it, sliding on the floor and catching himself with a hand on the console’s edge. He typed furiously at the keys, though it seemed impossibly slow now after what Deborah had just witnessed.
That thought sparked Deborah into action, her terror momentarily forgotten when she realized what was about to happen. “Get away from the table!” Most of the team had already backed away at this point, but Mark had been too focused on Lukas’ odd behavior. With a low hum, the first-stage web field blossomed from the center of the quantum orb. It enveloped Lukas and washed over Mark’s rigid form, which blistered out of existence with a metallic stench because he did not have the orb’s circuitry to ground him against the energy blast.
Linda shrieked, and Jesse shouted from his console, “Deb, he’s set it for A.D. 1 and the sequence is locked. I can’t get in. I don’t know—”
“Lukas!” Deborah’s throat burned with the force of her scream, but even that did nothing to get his attention. He didn’t turn back to look at any of them before the freezing, blue explosion of the web field seemed to take all the air out of the room, and then he was gone.
A.D. 1 – The Province of Judea, Bethlehem
Against the brilliant glow of the eastern sunrise, a shadowed form blurred across the dazzling desert sand. Clouds of dust billowed in its wake, leaving the scent of burnt earth and charred metal behind the thing that moved too quickly to be of this Earth. Over rolling dunes and past rising peaks of harsh, unrelenting stone, baked by the sun into a merciless wilderness, the figure sped. Its shadow shortened behind it as the sun rose to its zenith, and still, the dark thing did not stop the straight, terrible line of its singular purpose beneath the suffocating heat.
When finally the sun glowed fiery red in the west and winked over The Sea of Salt, the otherworldly thing ceased its unnatural pursuit and stopped beneath the curving arch of white and brown stone. The gust of wind behind it brought a surprised squawk from the chickens pecking at the fine sand, and they spread their wings and hopped away from the man standing now in their midst.
The peddlers stared in animosity toward such a stranger and in no little fear of the man dressed so strangely and in such dark colors beneath the desert sun. None of them interfered, choosing instead to watch and wait, whispering to neighbors when he passed and hoping he would not stop to ask of them what they knew not one of them could answer. The man continued toward the other end of the small, dry settlement until he reached the wide, dusty square home of baked clay and the stable fashioned against the back wall. A donkey brayed inside, and the man’s figure cast a long, terrible shadow across the dirt and the straw and the thin, tired family huddled within.
“May I help you?” From where he lay atop a pile of straw, the man with a long brown beard and exhausted eyes looked up at their strange visitor.
The oddly dressed stranger slowly removed from his pocket a red orb, glistening brightly as the only color here when the sun’s fading light reflected off its surface. From the orb itself shot a thin stream of blazing light, searing into the man’s chest and filling the stable with the nauseating odor of singed flesh. The bearded man slumped sideways into the straw, smoke curling from the gaping hole in his chest. A scream erupted from the woman reclining beside him, and she threw her body across the babe, swaddled in rags, who had been lying between his parents.
With another hiss and whir, the orb in the stranger’s hand turned its fury upon the woman as well, her selfless act of defending her innocent child unnoticed—ineffective. The babe did not once cry out as it stared up at the blank void of the stranger’s eyes within an expressionless face, nearly crushed beneath the dead weight of his mother’s lifeless arm. For a moment, the whole of existence flashed behind the infant’s calm brown gaze—worlds upon worlds, time unending, Love and Light and what any other man might only call rapture. Then another red flash of light erupted, and the infant silently joined its parents.
The donkey brayed again, its eyes rolling as it jerked its head up and down against the thin wooden rails of its pen. Outside, the chickens screeched and flapped about the yard, turning on each other to scratch and peck those closest in their terror.
Without a word, the stranger turned away from the bodies inside the stable, took one step forward, then burst across the dirt to resume its unearthly speed. The pillar of stacked stones supporting the town’s welcoming archway rumbled and cracked when the dark thing streaked past. The force of the stranger’s departure upturned the vendors’ tables and sent crates and thin tents flying against the sunbaked walls of the buildings. The foundation of the town itself seemed to shudder in the ensuing stillness, left to endure the coming darkness of night.
To be continued...
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