The Evaran Chronicles: The Arrival | The Awakening | The Fredorian Destiny | The Purification | The Time Refugee | The Evaran Origin | The Shadow Connection | The Human Factor | The Cosmic Parallel | The Unification | The Portal Effect | The Time Cube | The Evaran Chronicles Box Set: Books 1-3 | The Evaran Chronicles Box Set: Books 4-6

The Time Cube Image

Title: The Time Cube

Series: The Evaran Chronicles

Book #: 11

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: 6/21/2020

Formats:

eBook
Paperback (Planned)
Audio (Planned)

THE TIME CUBE

Book 11 Of The Evaran Chronicles

Time can be a filter.

Evaran and the gang travel to a galaxy in the Horologium-Reticulum Supercluster in AD 801,699 to deal with not one summons, as they usually do, but two that are related to each other. The retrieval of Dalton Kingston is one summons, and the second is a day ahead to a ship a few light years away.

The problem is that the summonses lead the gang into the Tenagrin Hegemony, a brutal empire run by the Tenagrins, a snake-like species who have advanced far beyond their natural technological evolution. Another issue is they also want to retrieve Dalton Kingston and have a vested interest in the second summons.

Kess, from a previous adventure, joins up for this outing, and with some new allies, they will need to deal with not only the summonses but the Tenagrin Hegemony and a galactic region that fears humanoids.


Read the sample below!

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Series Note

This book has the gang traveling to a place where the humanoid form is rare. It is also one of the farthest locations they have been. Dalton Kingston, of The Inspector Dalton Files, is introduced to the Evaranverse in this book, and some of the aftereffects from The Cosmic Parallel, Book 8 of The Evaran Chronicles, is present.


SAMPLE

Prologue

Dalton Kingston was tired of hopping timelines only to find them occupied by some group wanting power. The large concrete-and-steel building he retreated to appeared to be safe for the moment.

He had used the stairs to reach the forty-first floor and found an office to settle down in. This Earth was just entering an information revolution. Unfortunately, a strange alien race had attacked the planet. The attackers wore odd armor that looked more ceremonial than functional.

He sighed as he sat in a chair. The computer on the desk was ancient. A fifteen-inch screen and a small keyboard sat in front of it. The last timeline he had jumped from had no civilization. He had left the jungle world after spending time trying to find anything.

His mind wandered to his original Earth. He missed his wife, daughter, and son, but he hated the irradiated wasteland and having to live in underground bunkers. When mutants had invaded his bunker, he had lost his family. It seemed miraculous that he had escaped. Exiled to the surface, he should have died from radiation sickness. Instead, he had found a cube-shaped device with green crystalline cubes that allowed him to jump timelines.

He knew he could never go back there. Even if he wanted to, he did not have the means to do so. He pulled out the device and tapped it on the side. A tray slid out, revealing eleven cells. Each cell originally held a green crystal cube, and only one remained. Every time he placed one in the holder on the top face, it opened a portal that allowed him to hop a timeline.

The first Earth he had visited had been his favorite. It was where he had gotten his nanotech from. The civilization there possessed advanced technology, and they had easily cured his sickness. After five years there, he had become a Scoutspectre, an inspector of sorts. As part of his job, he had been enhanced with a tough nanosuit that allowed him to change into various modes and outfits.

At the moment, he used his Scoutspectre mode. A dark blue mesh underarmor covered him from head to toe and formed the first layer. On top of that resided armored silver pads in various sizes and shapes that segmented the suit. Some pads were larger, like the two that split the chest or the ones that resided on the quads, while others were smaller, similar to the ones on the abdomen or the knees.

The helmet contained three distinct areas. The silver front plate had a thin glowing blue slit that ran across his eye region and went down over his nose in a T pattern. Black pads covered the sides, and the top and back were a solid dark blue piece.

On his left forearm, a wide barrel-shaped nanoshield could form that took a lot of damage. A multipurpose handle, or MH, was holstered to his thigh. The MH contained a meshed grip over most of it, except near the end, where it flattened out some. It extended into a variety of close-quarters weapons, but he mostly used it as a stun baton.

A retractable stun gun, or RSG, could form on his right hand. It wrapped around his fingers in a rectangular block with a small front extension and button on top to fire. Both the MH and RSG were helpful since, as a Scoutspectre, he often traveled to places where equipment was limited.

He had received genetic engineering in the form of super cells that allowed for rapid cellular regeneration. His hands and forearms had undergone significant alteration, providing useful abilities, from scanning or illumination from his right palm to using his left inner forearm as an interface. His augmented reality interface, or ARI, helped him immensely. He had grinned when told that he was truly a cybernetic being.

Footsteps marching upstairs echoed out.

Dalton stood and placed the last green cube into the timeline-hopping device. This Earth would soon be enslaved. He had lived through one version of that, and he was not ready to live through another. As powerful as he knew himself to be, taking on an advanced army from space did not seem feasible.

Pounding on the door preceded its eruption into a shower of wooden splinters.

Dalton grimaced at the odd-looking attacker that strode through. Although humanoid, it wore a large gold metallic mask that resembled a canine of some sort. Black-and-gold armor covered most of the body. The parts uncovered revealed tan skin underneath. The staff the assailant wielded ended with a glow that matched the eyes on the mask. An impressive sight meant to intimidate, but Dalton remained unimpressed.

He pressed on the device. A portal opened next to him.

The attacker growled in an unfamiliar tongue and shot him with a beam.

His kinetic shielding lit up as he dropped the melted device. He jumped through the portal.

Everything pulsed green for a moment.

Dalton assessed the new environment as he fell through the air. He had learned to go as high as possible when jumping timelines, since appearing underground or underwater was never good. The portal closed as soon as he stepped through. Apparently, it knew to allow only one thing to pass. The ground approached fast as he scanned the surrounding environment.

Wherever he was, it had an atmosphere not suited for humans. His ARI showed low levels of nitrogen, and it was warmer than he had expected it would be. He wondered if the device being hit affected where the portal led.

He extended his hand and legs and covered the gaps with a thin membrane formed from his nanotech suit. It allowed him to glide and also gave him an opportunity to determine where to land. He studied the unusual structures that dotted the mostly forested landscape. The round buildings had only a few stories. Life sign detection showed some insectoid creatures moving about.

He navigated to a clearing and landed. Gravity was lighter than what he was used to. His heartbeat shot up as he looked into the sky. Two suns indicated he was not on Earth. Unusual structures and various insectoid races who appeared to be frightened of him, based on how fast they scurried away, surrounded him. He had landed in some sort of a large open-air marketplace. He retracted the membranes into his suit.

Two aliens stepped into the clearing.

Dalton’s ARI highlighted various aspects of the aliens. They had snakelike white bodies covered in scales, and they stood around nine feet tall. Blue patches appeared near the neck and tail. Two massive arms hung off to the side, and it shocked him to see that the tail had what looked like a third arm with a meaty hand at the end.

Segmented black metallic armor protected the arms and tail, while a solid plate with orange highlights covered the chest area. The flattened head contained four beady eyes that were exposed from the wraparound helmet. The heavy weapon the main arms held, and the smaller weapon the third hand held, made him wary. They ranked up there with some of the weirder races he had seen.

The aliens pointed their weapons at Dalton and uttered a gravelly cacophony of sounds.

He suspected they were trying to talk to him, but he did not understand their language. He moved back each time they slithered forward. An emblem on their chest armor had a gold circle with a red dot in it. That, along with their armor and weapons, gave him the impression that this was an advanced species.

One of the benefits of his genetic engineering was that it boosted his gut feeling on things. Over many years, he had learned to read and trust it. It made dealing with strangers much easier. Everything about the aliens told him that they were bad news.

He raised his hands up. “I come in peace.”

They shot at the ground in front of him.

He activated his camouflage shielding and jumped back before taking off. As he ran, he formed his RSG. He figured the aliens would have trouble navigating the dense nearby forest he entered.

The aliens shot at him, hitting him in the back.

Dalton stumbled. Apparently, they saw through his camouflage. They must have either enhanced senses or perhaps thermal sensors. He rolled over and used his RSG to shoot a light stun beam at the chest of the alien on the left.

It tipped over and moved slowly.

The loud shriek startled him.

The other one charged forward.

Dalton hopped up and pressed into the forest. The light stun shot had not fully neutralized the alien. Although medium and heavy stuns were available, they cost additional charge units. Light was one; medium, two; and heavy, three. His RSG, with a capacity of twenty-five charges, now had nine charges.

He needed to find someplace safe to gather his bearings and discover more about his location. That would be done on his own terms and not as a prisoner. He wished he could jump to another timeline, but that was no longer possible.

He tapped at his upper right arm, causing a servbot to emerge. It possessed two circular dark gray discs with a black nanoswarm between them. Each disc had a slight hump to it. He remembered others saying it looked like a cookie sandwich. He had two of them, but he used one in case he needed the other later.

“Evot, scout the area,” said Dalton.

“Of course,” said Evot in a female voice over comms.

Evot was a virtual intelligence that allowed Dalton to interact with his nanotech and, by extension, his servbots. Although Evot had had no initial personality, Dalton had given her a female voice and persona for interaction purposes. She also appeared in his ARI. Her processor was embedded inside him, and ever since he had gotten his nanotech, she had been his constant companion.

The servbot morphed into a small drone with a red light and took off into the air.

The alien firing haphazardly into the forest reminded him that he would probably now be pursued. That seemed to be a common theme when hopping around timelines.

His ARI displayed a bird’s-eye view of the immediate area. The aliens might shoot down his servbot, but it would self-destruct if needed to avoid capture. It was time to survive.

Chapter One

Dr. Albert Snowden enjoyed watching people fly between buildings in a tunnel of light. It was Sunday morning, AD 514,723 on Earth, and he had arrived on Friday to spend the weekend with Kess, his evolved human girlfriend.

Saturday had been fun. Kess had invited quite a few friends to have a cookout on the roof of the large cylindrical building that served as her home and headquarters. Evaran was cool as always and he even cracked a few half smiles. V hung out in projected mode and high-fived anyone who came near.

Dr. Snowden’s niece, Emily, was a ball of energy, but that was to be expected when Jelton Stallryn, who was her boyfriend and also a Rift Guardian, had attended. It seemed natural for both Dr. Snowden and Emily to have their significant others there with them.

Dr. James Bryson, Dr. Snowden’s close friend, had also come. Dr. Bryson, in his casual outfit, had been his usual self and cut nonstop jokes. His wife, Karen, appeared concerned most of the time. Dr. Snowden understood she felt like she had been pulled into Evaran’s orbit, but this was one of the few times that Dr. Snowden saw her happy.

Jake Melkins, another close friend of Dr. Snowden, had also attended. That was not a surprise to him as Jake was close with everyone. His youthfulness and playful nature made everything easier. It had brought a smile to Dr. Snowden’s face when Jake lit up at seeing everything.

It had delighted Dr. Snowden when Ambassador Jago, a doglike alien representing the Wutan empire, had popped in. Dr. Snowden loved to hear about how everything was going, and he considered Ambassador Jago a good friend. He also became pals with Jake, but that did not surprise Dr. Snowden.

The crisp and clear night had enhanced the atmosphere. After everything Dr. Snowden had encountered in previous adventures, it felt good to ease back and relax. Their last adventure had been two months ago, so it was January 9, 2013, back on Earth when they had come to the future, and July 4, AD 514,723, where they were. Everyone had already left earlier that morning, and Dr. Snowden looked forward to spending the day alone with Kess.

“Someone’s enjoying the view,” said Kess as she slid up behind Dr. Snowden and hugged him.

He turned his head and smiled at her. Her tan skin and formfitting light gray outfit went well together, and fashion was something she enjoyed. She stood around five feet ten inches, and her shoulder-length brown hair flowed freely.

Her eyes could change color, and at the moment, they were silver with hints of black outlines in them. He was not a marathon runner by any definition, but she looked like she was someone who could not only do those but also compete in fitness contests. The advantages of having a part of your body be a nanoswarm.

Dr. Snowden smiled as he placed his hands over hers. “I sure am. I’ll never get tired of coming to the rooftop and looking out. The amount of work that’s gone on here since our last visit is astonishing.”

“I like to think so,” said Kess. She laid her chin on his shoulder. “I’m so glad you and your friends came out. It was fun meeting them all.”

“Yeah. I figured you might like Jake and Jelton. They accompanied us on the last outing.”

“Emily is close to both of them. Obviously, more with Jelton.”

Dr. Snowden smiled. “Oh yeah, she is.”

“It was good to visit with Dr. Bryson again and also meet Karen,” said Kess.

“I know he was happy to see you. I was glad Ambassador Jago dropped by. He’s always fun to be around.”

“He likes that he was included,” said Kess. She stood next to him and grabbed his hand. “I have to wrap up a few things this morning, but then I’m all yours for the day.”

He faced her, and they shared a deep kiss. “I’ll be here.”

“You better!” said Kess, flinging her arm in the air and snapping.

Dr. Snowden laughed. The arm motion and snapping had become popular in the alliance, as it was called. They spanned many systems, with Earth as the center, and comprised a massive amount of species.

He had attended some of the science gatherings and enjoyed the discussions. It put into context how far behind Earth was from his time period compared to the civilizations that had attended the events. Every time someone spotted him, they would fling their arm in the air and snap or offer a high-five, assuming they had an arm to do so. It seemed strange that the motions were what most remembered about the alliance formation.

“Okay, I’ll be back,” said Kess. She pecked him on the cheek.

Dr. Snowden had already spent two nights with her and looked forward to more.

Kess disappeared as she walked down a curved ramp that led to the level below the roof.

He spun around and focused on the cylindrical buildings. He loved that they were spread out, and between them were patches of untouched nature. That allowed for better conservation efforts, and with his enhanced senses, he witnessed various animals moving around. Light footsteps behind him caught his ear. It was his niece.

He turned his head halfway. “Emily.”

She smiled as she stood next to him. “Hey, Uncle Albert.”

He eyed her. “I thought you would have gone back to Jelton’s place to hang out.”

She shrugged. “I’d love to, but it looks like we have a summons—well, two of them.”

“Two? Really?”

“Yep. Evaran is already getting what he can from them, but he wanted us to meet in an hour to discuss them.”

Dr. Snowden sighed. “I planned to spend the day with Kess.”

“Bring her along like Jelton did on the last one,” said Emily.

He nodded. “If she’s up for it, I have no complaints.” He studied Emily. “You could have contacted me.”

She smiled. “Yeah, but I wanted to see your face in person when you found out where the summonses were.” She extended her Personal Support Device, or PSD, and emitted a holographic projection.

Dr. Snowden studied the galactic region that Earth was in. His interest piqued as Emily kept zooming out to the Milky Way galaxy, then the local supercluster, and then to an even further view. His eyes widened when the Horologium-Reticulum supercluster was highlighted. Various metrics showed the nearest part of it to be roughly seven hundred million light-years away, with the farthest being 1.2 billion light-years away. Other statistics, such as the thousands of galaxies, popped up.

“Wow,” he said. “And we have two there?”

“Yep,” said Emily.

Dr. Snowden rubbed his chin. “That doesn’t seem coincidental at all. What else is known about these summonses?”

Her PSD showed two horizontal banners, each with a location and time index. The first one mentioned rescuing Dalton Kingston. The second said to go to a location in space.

“Who the heck is Dalton Kingston?” asked Dr. Snowden. His eyes narrowed. “More importantly, that’s a name I would expect from Earth. What’s he doing way out there?”

“No idea, but the time index also shows it to be roughly eight hundred thousand years in the future.”

Dr. Snowden shook his head. “So, very far away and in the future. Maybe humanity has spread out that far, although that doesn’t seem like enough time to get there. Unless…”

“Rifts are involved,” said Emily.

He wagged a finger at her. “Right. Well, this should be interesting.” He looked out over the guardrail. “I guess Evaran is already digging into details on both.”

She nodded. “As expected. I wish Jelton would come, but he has other things to attend to. Even though we could drop him back in his timeline a moment after he left with us, his mind is focused on building a new Rift Guardian colony.”

“Understandable. Well, I’m sure Kess would want to come, and she might even sass Evaran if he says otherwise.”

They shared a laugh.

Dr. Snowden grinned. “At least this time we get a heads-up before being dragged into something.”

“Yeah.”

He recalled their last adventure, which had started off with a powerful junction dimension being named Ziekah sending him to the past. He much preferred the traditional getting a summons, planning for it, then visiting.

He adjusted his glasses. “Let’s go see what this is all about.”

Scene Break

Emily looked around her living quarters aboard Evaran’s ship, the Torvatta. It was quiet, and after visiting Dr. Snowden, she had thirty minutes before everyone got together to discuss the summonses. She smiled at Mr. Smith, her stuffed tiger that her deceased father, Dan, had gotten her. Mr. Smith sat on a dresser and had witnessed every adventure she had gone on.

She wondered how the outings would change if Dan were present. The change from how she used to be versus where she was now also crossed her mind. Mr. Smith was a symbol of a simpler past. Her eyes misted.

She visited the bathroom and washed her face and hands. As she dried them, she studied herself in the mirror. A day ago, Jelton had snuck up and hugged her from behind. He had a recent body adjustment that allowed him to be more human in the nether regions, and it was more than she could have imagined.

She already missed him, and his presence had made her day. He was second-in-command for the Rift Guardians, and any time he spent with her came at the cost of his duties, so she was happy with whatever time she got.

She had had a good visit with Evaran and V earlier in the morning. As they did not sleep, they were readily available when she explored the tower where Kess was headquartered. It amazed her how fast Kess had gotten the alliance up and running.

The cylindrical towers dominated everywhere, with patches of unbridled nature between them. It was odd to go from a highly advanced building to raw nature in only a few steps. She remembered V trying out his PSD on one of his segmented arms. Evaran had given it to him after their last adventure, and V had been a pattern-creating machine over the weekend.

After she verified that she was cleaned up, she visited the conference room early. It was empty as she had expected, so she got some orange juice and took a seat. She loved how the Torvatta had dimensional rooms. The spacious conference room was one of six, and it only took up a doorway in regular space.

She and others often met to discuss topics there, and she had fond memories of notable travelers having stopped in to talk. What visitors selected from the matter replicator before sitting always intrigued her. It said a lot about them.

She interacted with the table console and pulled up a holographic screen that displayed the local news feed. It showed that a new civilization had joined the alliance. That did not surprise her. They sucked everyone in. She remembered seeing some statistics of a group before and after joining. The technological leap gained from normalization alone was what sold most groups.

One race had conquered their solar system and discovered condensed space drives. They had thought they were the only sentient life in the galaxy. When their scout ships had encountered alliance ones, it had been a big technological mismatch.

Since the race had joined, they now had representatives all through the alliance, and their technology matched what the alliance offered. What amazed her was how the group had responded to first contact. They reminded her of humanoid badgers, but unlike Earth ones, this species was not aggressive. Their emphasis on cooperation meshed well with the alliance.

Twenty minutes later, Dr. Snowden arrived.

Emily chuckled as he grabbed a hefty plate of bacon and scrambled eggs. Thanks to their nanobots, eating often was easily handled and did not affect their weight. They would be a top-selling item if they were available on Earth.

“Didn’t I just see you?” asked Dr. Snowden as he took his seat.

She eyed him.

Dr. Snowden grinned big before devouring a bacon strip.

“I bet you studied the summonses’ location,” said Emily.

He nodded. “Sure did. I checked it out in the planar cartography lab.”

“Did you let Kess know?”

“Yeah. I left her a holo message and told her we were meeting this morning.”

Emily grinned. “You think she’ll come?”

Dr. Snowden shrugged. “Maybe. Either way, I said we’d see her before we left.”

As if on cue, Kess arrived.

Emily admired Kess’s fashion sense. Having the ability to redecorate on the fly due to her control of her nanoswarm made that a bit easier to do. She wore a formfitting silver suit with blue and green lines segmenting it. Emily recalled the first few forms Kess had chosen when they had met her a while back. She was an evolved human and had proved herself capable in tough situations.

She took her seat next to Dr. Snowden and smiled at Emily.

“Hey, Kess,” said Emily. “I heard you might want to come with us.”

“Someone needs to watch out for him,” said Kess, crooking a thumb at Dr. Snowden and winking at Emily.

Dr. Snowden wrinkled his brow.

“Yeah, he can be quite a handful,” said Emily.

They shared a laugh while Dr. Snowden shook his head.

Evaran and V entered the room. Evaran took his normal seat at the head of the table while V, in orb mode, hovered over the opposite end.

“I take it everyone is aware of the summonses?” asked Evaran.

“Yep. Where are we going?” asked Kess.

Evaran studied her. “I assume you wish to travel with us.”

“You assume right. I can come back to a minute after we leave.”

Evaran nodded. “Very well.”

“Analysis. It is good to have you with us again,” said V.

Kess high-fived V. “When isn’t it?”

V’s lights glowed brighter.

Evaran interacted with the table console. “We can start the meeting early, then.”

A holographic projection shot up of a group of galaxies.

“This is the Horologium-Reticulum supercluster, as it is known by Earth in AD 2013,” said Evaran. The projection zoomed in to a galaxy. “This is the Kenadu galaxy, approximately nine hundred million light-years away.” The projection focused on a solar system. “And this is the Fel Niko system.”

“You’ve been out to that specific location before?” asked Dr. Snowden.

“Not quite, but I have been to that galaxy before and I am using the translated names from a star chart I received. However, the time index is different, so it may be called something else, but for our purposes, it will suffice.”

Dr. Snowden nodded.

Evaran raised a finger. “Although I have done multiple summonses before, this will be the first one for you all. Typically, they are chained like this as they are part of the same event but have different locations. You may have observed that the second time index is off by a day.”

“Yeah, I saw that,” said Emily. “I also noticed that they’re a few light-years apart.”

“That is correct. The first one is to rescue Dalton Kingston. The second is a location in space, which usually means a ship.”

Dr. Snowden grinned. “Kinda like when we picked up Sandas when dealing with a time eddy.”

Evaran nodded.

“What I don’t get is…Dalton Kingston. That sounds like an Earth name. You thinking rifts are involved or something?”

“I believe so,” said Evaran. “I think this is more than a simple rescue, as I noticed other summonses that might be more important, but the Torvatta is insistent on these two.”

“Has that happened before?” asked Kess.

“It has, and usually, there is a good reason. What that is here, I do not know,” said Evaran. His lips moved up slightly.

Emily chuckled. “Looks like someone is excited to find out!”

“I am curious to understand why the Torvatta has chosen these two specifically.”

Dr. Snowden rubbed his hands together. “So we got a mystery. Thankfully, it doesn’t involve us being shot to the past first.”

“Analysis. We can replicate the experience if you wish.”

“Yeah, no thanks,” said Dr. Snowden. He gestured at V. “You get to use your PSD arm now.”

“I am looking forward to it.”

“Do we know the name of the planet Dalton is on?” asked Dr. Snowden.

“A good question,” said Evaran. “Unfortunately, we do not. However, we can connect to any communication satellites if they exist and discover what we are dealing with when we arrive.” He stood. “Are we ready to go?”

Everyone else stood.

“Let’s do this!” said Emily.

Although the last adventure had been rough, she was eager to go on another one. Time on Earth between traveling allowed her to decompress, but when she got the itch to travel, it ate at her until they did. It could just be that a trip would let her spend more time with the others. Evaran and V were sometimes scarce between adventures as they ran around doing whatever they did. She looked forward to adventuring with them again.