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Authors: Matt de La Pena

Curse of the Ancients

BOOK: Curse of the Ancients
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Welcome to Infinity Ring, a daring adventure through time!

It all starts here in the books, where you’ll discover a world in which history is broken . . . and meet the three young people who must risk their lives to set things right.

At the end of this book, you’ll find your very own Hystorian’s Guide. The Guide has been created to help time travelers avoid the dangers that await them in the past.

And you’re going to need all of the Guide’s tips, hints, and codes when you experience history for yourself in the action-packed Infinity Ring game. In the next episode of the game, you must stop an SQ army from breaking through the Great Wall of China!

Fix the past. Save the future.

infinityring.com

For teachers everywhere, especially my two favorites: Al and Roni de la Peña
— M.d.l.P

E
VERY OTHER
time Sera has warped through history with Dak and Riq, it’s happened in an instant. She gets sucked into a void, her stomach climbing up into her throat, her whole body shifting into floating particles, no longer a solid thing — it’s beyond any roller-coaster free fall imaginable. And then, just before she gets sick, she opens her eyes in another time and place.

But this warp is not like the others.

Instead of time speeding up, it slows down.

And a wall lifts inside her mind.

She sees herself hurrying through flooding streets, out of breath, underneath a blistering twilight sky. Thick tornados ripping through neighborhoods in the distance. The bloodred sun hovering closer to Earth than seems possible, electrical surges shooting out from its core, making the swirling wind intolerably hot and sticky. Acid rain gushing down in slanted sheets. People leaning out of upper-story windows. All of them wide-eyed and screaming. Holding one another.

But Sera can’t afford to stop and help.

She has to keep moving. Has to get where she’s going before it’s too late.

She is alone now, but she didn’t come here alone. Ilsa was with her. Ilsa, her enemy. Sera left her behind where she had collapsed, left her with a promise to return. A promise to get them both to safety.

But not yet. Sera has something to do first.

The water rushing through the streets rises quickly until it’s nearly head high, and Sera is forced to scale a fire escape where she shoves up against a wall, sucking in breaths and looking all around her. The world is ending. Right before her eyes.

She spots a small motorized emergency raft tied to a looted fire truck. No one inside. She launches herself toward it, splashing into the water and swimming frantically. She hacks the rope in half with a switchblade, climbs in, and hot-wires the engine. In seconds she’s speeding through intersection after intersection, steering herself around all the bodies floating facedown in the water. Some are children. Some, old people. She moves past men who squat alone on overturned cars, expressionless as zombies.

One man turns and looks Sera dead in the face as she veers around him, sending a chill down her spine. Because, in his lifeless eyes, she sees the truth of the Cataclysm.

It’s not only the disintegration of the world, but the world’s people, too.

That’s when Sera realizes she’s screaming. She’s screaming and crying and gunning the raft, shouting at anyone within earshot, “Somebody help us! This can’t be happening!”

But it is.

All around her, there are military trucks on their sides and old stubborn trees split down the middle and charred black, people flushed from their homes by the surging floods. Gaps are opening up in the Earth’s crust, splitting roads in half, swallowing entire buildings, clusters of people reaching out for help, calling the names of loved ones who are no longer alive.

Sera zips past all of it, turning onto her childhood street.

She lets off the gas as she nears her house, then dives overboard and swim-walks her way up the flooded driveway, fearing the unspeakable horrors she’s afraid she’ll find inside, what will she find inside, what will she find . . .

Just as she reaches a trembling hand out for the doorknob, though, the memory slips away.

S
ERA OPENED
her eyes, shaking.

She was kneeling in clay-colored dirt, completely out of breath and clutching the Infinity Ring to her chest. The first thing she saw when she looked up was a short, dark-skinned woman dressed in a tunic-like
huipil
, holding a baby in each arm, hurrying past what looked to be some kind of ancient temple. A boy and a girl, both younger than Sera, ran by next, followed by a man wearing an elaborate headdress.

Sera turned to Dak and Riq. They were watching the same thing: dozens of people rushing past them, trying to get away from something.

But what?

Sera’s heart still pounded inside her chest.

These trips through time were typically hard enough on her body, but this one had been different. It seemed to have shaken loose part of her repressed memory of the Cataclysm. During a previous mission, she’d taken an accidental trip to the future, which had given her a glimpse of the end of the world. When Sera came back, though, she was so traumatized by the experience she could only remember a few details, as if unconsciously protecting herself from what she knew she couldn’t handle. So, technically, it hadn’t been a lie when she told Dak and Riq she had nothing of interest to tell them about her warp without them.

Now that she remembered reaching for her door, though, she was desperate to recall what she had found inside her house. Why couldn’t she remember?

Sera shook the Cataclysm from her mind for now and forced herself to take in her surroundings. The three of them were partially hidden behind a row of trees. The sky was full of clouds. The air smelled clean, the way it sometimes did just before rain.

“Dude, why are you crying?”

Sera turned and found Dak staring at her. “I’m not crying,” she said, straightening her posture. “Why would I be crying?”

BOOK: Curse of the Ancients
6.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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