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Authors: D.J. MacHale

The Never War

BOOK: The Never War
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“Saint Dane hit the jackpot. He found the perfect moment in time that he could manipulate and send three territories into oblivion.”

The images disappeared. Good thing. I couldn't take it anymore. The three of us sat there in silence. We had just seen doomsday. It's hard to know what to say after that.

“Could there be a mistake?” Gunny asked.

“Specific details may change,” Patrick answered. “But the basic situation would be the same. If Max Rose continues to operate his spy network, the Germans will develop the atom bomb first, and they will drop it on England and the United States.”

I had heard enough. Any doubts I had about what I wanted to do were gone.

I stood up. “We're on the wrong territory.”

Gunny smiled. Next stop, First Earth.

Patrick didn't seem as confident as Gunny. He then turned to me and said, “Pendragon, your uncle told me that if I ever doubted myself, or our mission, that I should put my faith in you. Should I put my faith in you?”

Whoa.
Uncle Press said that about me? Patrick was looking for some kind of guarantee that everything was going to be okay. I wished I could give it to him.

“I'm not sure why he'd say that,” I answered truthfully. “But I do know one thing. You might as well put your faith in us, because there's nobody else.”

PENDRAGON:
AN ADVENTURE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE

 

Book One:
The Merchant of Death

 

Book Two:
The Lost City of Faar

 

Book Three:
The Never War

 

Book Four:
The Reality Bug

(available soon)

 

F
ROM
A
LADDIN

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2003 by D. J. MacHale

ALADDIN
An imprint of Simon & Schuster
Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Library of Congress Control Number 2002116463
ISBN-13: 978-0-7434-8200-4
ISBN-10: 0-7434-8200-X

Visit us on the World Wide Web:
http://www.SimonSays.com

This is for my dad.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Hi to all you readers out there in Halla. Welcome to the next chapter in the continuing saga of Bobby Pendragon and his fellow Travelers. Before you flume off to territories unknown, I'd like to write a few words of thanks to some of the people who help keep Bobby's adventures rolling along.

Writing
The Never War
presented some unique challenges (which I won't tell you about because you haven't read it yet). A very big thank-you must go to Lisa Clancy for providing such wise guidance. Her insight helped me dig deep into Bobby's character and bring out a story that is not only full of adventure, but thought-provoking as well. Thanks, Lisa!

Since
The Never War
takes place in the past of Second Earth, I had to do loads of research to make sure events were historically accurate. I used way too many resources to name here, most of which were on the Internet. So I'm offering a global thank-you to the hundreds of Web sites I accessed for information. (Did you ever hear of someone thanking the Internet for something? I think not!)

A big thank-you goes to the team at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing for having faith in the series, working hard to make it the best it can be, keeping it on everyone's mind, and always answering my dumb questions.

As always, my business team of Rob Wolken, Michael Prevett, Richard Curtis, Peter Nelson, Corinne Farley, and now Danny Baror have my undying gratitude for being smarter than me.

My wife, Evangeline, continues to be a great critic. Every night she reads the next chapter and every night she yells at me for leaving her with a cliff-hanger. (Unlike you, she can't turn the page to see what happens next, because when she reads, the next chapter hasn't been written yet!)

Finally I'd like to thank all of you who have been reading
the Pendragon books. And a special thanks to those of you who have been writing me through the Web site and telling me how much you enjoy them. I really appreciate it.

Now, enough blah, blah. It's time to open the gate, step into a flume, and head back to the territories.

 

Hobey-ho,

 

D. J. MacHale

PENDRAGON

JOURNAL OF AN ADVENTURE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE

The Never War
JOURNAL #9
FIRST EARTH

T
hat's where I am. First Earth. Veelox was a misdirection. Spader and I flumed to Veelox, but found the action wasn't there. It was here on First Earth.

Where is First Earth? The better question is,
when
is First Earth? I'm in New York City and it's 1937. March of 1937 to be exact. To be
really
exact, it's March 11 of 1937. I'm writing this on my birthday. Here's a weird thought: If I'm in 1937 and it's my birthday, did I still turn fifteen? Kind of freaky, no?

I'll begin this new journal by telling you I stumbled into the most bizarro, confusing, dangerous situation yet. But then again, haven't I said that before? Let me give you a little taste of what happened in only the first few minutes since I got here….

Spader and I were nearly killed. Three times. We were also robbed and witnessed a gruesome murder. Happy birthday to me! The way things are going, I know what I want for my fifteenth birthday…the chance to have a sixteenth.

When Spader and I flumed in from Veelox, I had no idea of what “First Earth” meant. Since I'm from Second Earth, I could only guess that First Earth was sometime in the Earth's past. But how far past? For all I knew we were fluming back
to a time when quigs were dinosaurs and we'd be on the run from hungry, yellow-eyed raptors.

I was totally relieved to find that when we landed at the gate, it was the exact same rocky room that I had been through many times before. Yes, we had arrived at the gate off the subway tunnel in the Bronx, New York. Phew. At least there were no T-rexes or Neanderthals waiting for us. That was the good news.

Bad news was that we weren't alone. As soon as the flume dropped us off, I saw two guys standing there, facing us. They wore old-fashioned gray suits, like Clark Kent wears in the old
Superman
show on TV Land. Actually, a better analogy is that these guys were dressed like the
bad guys
from that old show, because that's what they were. Bad guys.
Very
bad guys. They wore wide-brimmed hats that were pulled down low and had white handkerchiefs around their noses and mouths like banditos. There's only one word to describe these dudes.

Gangsters.

Their eyes looked wide and scared. No big surprise. They had just seen Spader and me drop out of nowhere in an explosion of light and music. They seemed totally stunned, which was good because there was one other detail I haven't mentioned….

They were both holding machine guns that were aimed at the flume—and at us.

“Down!” I yelled at Spader.

The two of us jumped to opposite sides of the flume just as the gangsters started shooting. I crouched in a ball, totally unprotected as the deadly clatter from their rapid-fire guns echoed off the rocky walls. I thought for sure I'd get hit, but after a few seconds the shooting stopped, and I was still intact. I was afraid to move and even more afraid to look over and see
if Spader was okay. The sharp explosions fell off to a distant echo that bounced around the cavelike room. My ears were ringing and the chemical smell of gunpowder burned my nose. I figured this was what it must be like to be in a war.

“Get up!” one of the gangsters ordered. “Hands in the air!”

I cautiously looked over to Spader and saw that he was okay. We stood slowly and raised our hands. The gangsters held their guns on us. I didn't know why. It wasn't like we had weapons of our own. The second gangster kept glancing nervously between the two of us. He looked almost as scared as we were. Almost.

“Th-They from Mars?” he asked his buddy nervously.

Under less terrifying circumstances, I would have laughed. It must have looked like we had just landed from outer space. Not only did we flash in through a storm of light, we were still dressed in our bright blue swimskins from Cloral. For a second I thought about pulling a huge bluff and chanting: “Drop your weapons or we will vaporize you with our mind-heat,” or something equally sci-fi, but I didn't get the chance.

“Don't matter,” barked the other gangster. He was definitely the one in charge, but I could tell from his voice that he was a little shaky too.

“We done our job,” he added.

“S-So what about th-them?” the nervous gangster asked.

The guy in charge looked us over. I could almost hear the wheels turning in his brain. He didn't exactly seem like a rocket scientist, so they must have been very small wheels. I wondered if they hurt when they turned.

“You!” the guy barked at me. “Gimme that ring!”

I couldn't believe it. He wanted my Traveler ring! This was serious. You guys know how badly I need that ring. It shows
me where the flumes are, and it's the only way I can get my journals to you. Without this ring, I'm lost.

“It's not worth anything,” I said in a feeble attempt to talk him out of it.

“Don't matter,” the gangster snapped back at me. “All I want is proof to show you two are real.”

“Then take us with you, mates!” said Spader, trying to be friendly. “We're all the proof you need, in the flesh!”

“Those ain't my orders,” he snarled.

“Really? What
are
your orders?” I asked.

“Just hand over the ring,” the boss commanded. He raised his machine gun to prove he meant business. What could I do? I took off my ring and tossed it to him. He caught it and jammed it into his pocket.

“Let's step outside, nice and easy,” the guy said.

This was good. It meant they weren't going to gun us down right that moment. Maybe there was a way out of this after all. The nervous gangster threw the wooden door open, then both stepped aside and motioned with their weapons for us to go through. I looked at Spader. Spader shrugged. We had to play along. With our hands up, we both stepped out of the gate and into the dark subway tunnel.

Everything was familiar, so I made a sharp right, knowing it was the way to the abandoned subway station.

But the gangster had other things in mind. “No, you don't,” he ordered. “Keep walking.”

We had to walk straight ahead, away from the door. Three steps later we stepped over the rail of the subway track. This was beginning to look bad again.

“Stop! Turn around.”

Oh yeah, this was bad. We were both now standing on the train tracks.

“You move, you die,” said the first gangster.

Yeah, right. We move, we die. If a train comes along, we
don't
move, we die. Not a lot of wiggle room here.

“Where are we, Pendragon?” whispered Spader.

His answer came in the form of a far off whistle. We both looked to our right and saw the headlight of a subway train rounding the bend, headed our way, on our track.

“What is that thing?” asked Spader nervously. Being from a territory that was covered entirely with water, he had never seen anything like a train before.

“That,” I said, trying not to let my voice show the fear that was tearing at my gut, “is a pretty big tum-tigger.”

“Hobey,” said Spader in awe. “We just got here and we've already lost.”

We had been on First Earth for all of two minutes, and we were staring death right in the eye.

Welcome home, Bobby Pendragon.

 

That's a taste of how our adventure on First Earth began. I don't want to get too far ahead because there was a whole lot that happened between the time I finished my last journal, and when we landed here. But I wanted to explain to you how I lost my ring. This is serious because as I write this journal to you, Mark and Courtney, I'm not really sure if you're ever going to read it. If I don't get that ring back, I'll never be able to send this to you. The only thing I can do is keep writing, hang on to the journals, and hope that I get the ring back soon.

Now, let me rewind to where I finished my last journal and get you guys back up to speed.

I spent my last few days on the territory of Cloral in a haze. We'd defeated Saint Dane, but I didn't feel much like celebrating. That's because Uncle Press was gone, and I kept replaying
his last moments over and over in my head. Saint Dane had escaped through a flume and Spader tried to chase him. But a storm of bullets came back at him. Uncle Press realized what was happening, knocked Spader out of the way…and took the bullets himself.

He died in my arms. It was the absolute worst moment of my life. The only thing that kept me from totally losing it was that just before he died, he promised me we'd be together again. I know this sounds pretty loopy, but I believe him. If being a Traveler has taught me anything, it's that nothing is impossible. My eyes have been opened to so many new worlds and levels of existence that the idea of hooking up with Uncle Press again doesn't seem all that far-fetched.

Of course, I have no clue how it might happen. That's because I've only scratched the surface of knowing all there is to know about being a Traveler. I wish there were an instruction manual I could buy through Amazon.com that would spell out all the rules and regulations. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. I've got to learn things as I go along. And now I've got to do it without Uncle Press.

Welcome to my life as a Traveler, phase two.

In those last days on Cloral, I knew what my next move had to be, but I was putting it off because, well, I was scared. Things were different now. I was alone. It was a whole new ballgame and I wasn't sure if I was good enough to play in it.

When Saint Dane flumed out of Cloral, he was headed for a territory called Veelox. I knew I had to follow him, but the idea of going after him alone was about as appealing as setting my hair on fire. All things being equal, I think I'd rather have set my hair on fire. So I made a decision that I hope I don't regret.

I asked Vo Spader to go with me.

Don't get me wrong, Spader is a great guy. He's the Traveler from Cloral, after all. He saved my life more than once; he's an incredible athlete; he's about as brave as can be; and most importantly, he's my friend. So why should I be worried about asking him to come with me?

It's because his total, blind hatred of Saint Dane is dangerous. Saint Dane caused the death of his father and for that, Spader wants revenge. Big time. Hey, I don't blame him. But there were a few times on Cloral where Spader got so completely wrapped up in Saint Dane–hating that he nearly got us all killed. Truth be told, Spader's anger toward Saint Dane is one of the reasons Uncle Press is dead.

Since then, Spader promised me he would control himself, and his anger. I can only hope that when we come face-to-face with the demon again, and I guarantee we will, Spader won't do anything stupid. These were some of the conflicted thoughts that were banging around inside my head as I finished my last journal.

“Hobey-ho, Pendragon,” Spader said as he strode into my apartment the morning of our departure.

Spader had almond-shaped eyes that looked sort of Asian. They turned up slightly and made him look as if he were always smiling. The truth was, most of the time he
was
smiling…when he wasn't obsessing over Saint Dane, that is. His long black hair was still wet, which meant he had been in the water. Spader spent a lot of time in the water, playing traffic cop with the boats and barges that came and went from Grallion. He loved his job, and his life there. At least he loved it before he found out he was a Traveler. Things had changed a little since then.

“It's time,” I said.

“For what?” was his quick response.

“Cloral is safe. Uncle Press is gone. And I'm as ready as I'll ever be to go after Saint Dane.”

Spader gave me a devilish smile. “Now you're talking, mate! I've been waiting to hear those words for weeks! What if the trail's gone cold?”

“I don't think that's possible,” I answered. “Uncle Press always said that time between territories isn't relative.”

Spader frowned. “You lost me.”

I had to laugh. This didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either, but I had to trust Uncle Press.

“Look at it this way,” I explained. “Saint Dane flumed to Veelox a few weeks ago, but since then he may have spent five years there. Or a minute.”

“Now I'm totally lost,” Spader said in frustration.

“Bottom line is, we're not too late,” I said. “It doesn't matter when we go after him, because the flume will put us where we need to be,
when
we need to be there.”

“O-kay,” said Spader tentatively. “I'll trust you on that.”

I'd already said good-bye to our friends on Grallion, and I'd sent my last journal to you. I had explained the importance of journals to Spader and he had already started his own. The person he chose to send them to on Cloral for safekeeping was Wu Yenza. She was the chief aquaneer and Spader's boss. He couldn't have picked a better person.

I took a last look around my apartment. Then we went down to the docks, loaded our air globes and water sleds onto a skimmer boat, and left Grallion for the flume. Spader was the expert, so he drove. As we shot across the water I looked back at the giant, floating farm habitat of Grallion, wondering if I'd ever see it again. I liked Cloral. There were times when I actually had fun on that territory. It gave me hope that being
a Traveler didn't mean I always had to live in a state of fear and confusion.

Now the question was, what lay ahead of us? Pretty much a state of fear and confusion. Great. Here we go again.

The trip to the flume was cake. We anchored the skimmer near the reef, popped on the air globes that allowed us to breathe underwater, triggered the water sleds, and quickly sank below the surface. We didn't run into any shark quigs either. I think that once Saint Dane is finished with a territory, the quigs no longer patrol the gates. Still, I wasn't taking any chances. As we sped through the water being pulled by the sleds, I kept glancing back to make sure nothing nasty was sneaking up on us to try and get a nibble.

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