A race against time to discover a chilling truth with powerful consequences.
On a world called Olympia, a terrible disease plagues the race of gods. As rumours spread about the disappearance of the anomalias, many infected gods flee through portals from Olympia to other worlds, including Earth, hoping to avoid a similar fate.
When the disease infects Rion, a bounty hunter who once helped return anomalias to Olympia, he, too, seeks sanctuary on Earth. But Rion’s partner, Temis, hunts him. Temis still believes the lies told to the bounty hunters about the anomalias. She believes they are violent, paranoid, delusional.
Rion’s only hope is to convince Temis to see the dark truth. But how can he convince her that everything she thought she knew is a lie?
READ AN EXCERPT
Rion glanced over his shoulder at his home one last time before crossing-over, through the portal and into the Hereafter. The hair on his arms and the back of his neck stood on end from the static caused by the two dimensions merging. He pushed his way through Olympia’s portal. He could feel the warmth of the solid ground on the other side through the thin soles of his shoes. The Hereafter was a void absent of all life and sound; the space between worlds. He took a ragged breath. The air was so thin there may as well be none.
He spied the glow of Earth’s portal in the distance. He’d never used that particular portal before. Over the centuries Rion had travelled to Earth at least a hundred times, usually chasing the undesirables from his world, but sometimes from other worlds. The criminals would use the Hereafter to cross-over, attempt to escape to other places. It was Rion’s job to bring them home to face justice.
Only this time, Rion was the one on the run.
His circumstance was different. He was no criminal. But his only hope for survival was to seek refuge on another planet. Many of his kind in similar situations fled to Earth, it was the closest thing to a safe haven as they could find.
The Earth portal was approximately twenty minutes away. Rion would need to move quickly to reach it. The Hereafter’s air supply was minimal, and his changing physiology made it difficult to breathe. Gods could survive days in the Hereafter, humans mere minutes. Even though he was more god than human, his survival would still be difficult. He tried to pick up his pace and jog, but the dim light and the uneven surface made it challenging. Rion coughed several times. It felt as if his lungs were collapsing in on themselves from the lack of oxygen. He had to get out, and quickly.
The black surface was like volcanic rock and was cracked as if all water had dried up many millennia ago. But he often wondered if the Hereafter had once been a luscious and beautiful place, full of life. Tiny particles floated in the air around him, only visible if caught at the right angle against the warm glow of the many thousands of portals.
The Hereafter made him uncomfortable. The darkness seemed to enclose on him, and the lack of sound seemed to scream in his ears, like air rushing through a tight tunnel.
As he approached the portal the hair on his arms and the back of his neck again stood on end. The sound of rushing water filled his ears; all of Earth’s portals were submerged. It was going to be a difficult transfer. Kilometers of ocean separated Rion from freedom.
Before crossing-over from the Hereafter to Earth he struggled to take a final breath. His chest tightened and the thin air rattled through his lungs as he heaved in a breath. It had been months of planning, careful meticulous planning. He was directed to take this portal; it was the closest of all Earth’s portals. With his physical changes he would never survive the trek to any of the others.
Rion pushed through the portal. Immediately, the cold of the water began to seep through his bodysuit. It was made of organic material meant specifically for travelling to Earth. They had a series of sensors to help regulate the user’s body temperature in the frigid waters. The organic component also helped to make the suit more buoyant which would help him reach the surface faster. Rion suspected since his physiology is changing the suit wasn’t able to protect him properly.
The water was heavy and dark, he was certain he knew where he needed to go. He struggled, kicking his legs frantically to reach the surface before his lungs finally reached a point where they force him to take a gulp of air. Only it would be a mouth full of Earth’s salty ocean water.
His mind raced and drifted to when he had still been fully a god; when this short distance would have been a mere inconvenience. Now his ability to remain underwater had deteriorated. He knew the changes would only make this journey more treacherous the longer he stayed on Olympia. He feared he waited too long before leaving his world. The illness that plagued him was mutating his genes, changing him into a human.
He gasped for breath as he broke the surface. Rion leaned his head back and treaded water the best he could while trying to catch his breath. The sky was dark, and he looked at all the tiny specks of light.
How many of those have portals? he wondered.
As he was about to start the long swim to shore, he heard a motor. It was getting closer and louder. As he spun about he spotted a watercraft gliding toward him.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it,” came a female voice. “You tripped the sensors fifteen minutes ago; I thought maybe you drowned.” A slight girl sat atop her ride like a knight on a horse. She held out a hand.
“Effie?” he narrowed his eyes so he could see the girl’s face. He didn’t recognize her voice. He had spoken with Effie over the phone on his last few visits to Earth while hunting his bounties, and using that as a cover to devise a plan for his own escape.
“Na, she couldn’t make it. But I can take you to the safe house.” She wiggled her fingers to get him to take her hand.
Rion pushed away from the girl and her ride, these were dangerous times and he had to be careful who he trusted.
The girl looked about. “Look you can’t stay here, the ripples caused by you crossing-over attracts sharks. They’ll be here soon. I’m not kidding. Effie told you, I’m sure.”
Rion quickly glanced around. He had been warned, strongly warned, that this portal created a type of sonar when someone crossed-over. It summoned sharks to the area. This was another reason it was rarely used by hunters. He reluctantly took the stranger’s hand, and she helped hoist him onto the back of the watercraft.
Surprised by her strength, he eyed her for a moment. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about the girl, but was cut short his examination of her when he caught a glimpse of two fins breaking the water’s surface and then submerge.
“Where did you say Effie was?” he shouted over the engine.
“I didn’t. She was pulled away to take care of a few things. She’ll meet you later to discuss the remainder of your plan.”
They traveled for another fifteen minutes. She handled the craft well and was skilled at navigating the waves. They had to be several kilometres away from the portal when she pulled up to a dock and tied off the craft. “Get off,” she said over her shoulder.
Rion stood and grabbed the edge of the dock and pulled himself up the three feet. He turned to help the girl, but she was already hoisting herself up with ease.
She started down the partially lit dock without pausing and gestured with her hand, “This way.”
Rion jogged to catch up, her pace was quick and difficult to follow despite her size. Now that she was standing he saw she was only five feet tall, slim, bordering on the boney side, but her muscles were well defined. Her blond hair was pulled back into a messy bun with fly-away hairs framing her face and accentuating her green eyes. He could see now she wasn’t a girl, but a woman.
At the end of the pier was a lone motorcycle. The streets were empty, and the lights were on. She stopped at the bike and tossed him a towel then a helmet as she swung her leg over the bike seat and put her own helmet on.
Rion hated motorcycles. He preferred the enclosed vehicles of this world. Many Olympians leaned towards motorbikes, though when they couldn’t they went for convertibles. Vehicles weren’t used in Olympia, so being enclosed in one was unnerving for most. Rion sighed, put the helmet on the ground as he quickly dried himself off. His bodysuit caused the water to bead up and wick away so a quick rub down was all he needed. She shoved the towel into a side bag when he handed it back and gave an impatient wave for him to get on.
Rion gritted his teeth, shoved the helmet on, and took up position behind the young woman once again. She started the bike with ease, even though her feet barely touched the ground. They took off fast, causing Rion to grip the young woman so tight she had to peel his fingers loose. He couldn’t hear her, but he could see her shake her head. He imagined she was laughing at him. He had never thought of himself as meek or helpless, but today he was feeling that way.