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Daniel X: Armageddon

In the fifth installment of James Patterson's action-packed Daniel X series, Daniel must now face an alien whose origins appear nearer to the depths of Hell than the outer reaches of the galaxy. Number Two is an unstoppable criminal that's slowly been amassing an underground army of disgusting, disgruntled, and dangerous aliens to help him enslave Earth's population. And it's all in preparation for the arrival of Number One, the most powerful alien in the universe and Daniel's arch-nemesis.

To Daniel's horror, thousands of humans defect to the alien's side, making the odds of success that much more impossible. But for the first time in his life, Daniel isn't alone in his fight. He's connected with several military and intelligence groups—including the daughter of a prominent FBI agent--and is prepared to lead the ultimate showdown against the evil that has plagued planet Earth for so long. Readers, beware—and be prepared for a truly epic battle that evokes the ancient prophecies of Armageddon!

Part One | The Gathering Swarm

Chapter 6

I COUNTED AT least a dozen storm troopers decked out in full‑encapsulation bunny suits.

Their bodies were wrapped in loose‑fitting, crinkly white fabric; their hands and feet were sealed inside black rubber gloves and boots; and their faces were hidden behind hoods and respirator masks.

They were carrying some pretty heavy artillery, too, none of it forged on planet Earth. We’re talking RJ‑57 over‑ the‑shoulder, tritium‑charge bazookas; high‑intensity microwave guns; shock‑wave cannons; blasters; and a pair of Opus 24/24s, which contain an illegal molecular resonator that fires a pulse vibrating at the precise frequency of its victim’s neurotransmissions, causing the target to expire from sheer, unadulterated pain.

It’s no wonder the Opus 24/24 is banned across most of the civilized universe.

“We can take these marshmallow people,” Willy said, crouching into an arms‑raised attack stance.

“No weapons, Daniel,” urged Emma. “We’ve got your back, bro,” said Joe, moving to my right.

I eased into a neutral Aikido position, a nonaggressive martial arts style my father once taught me, and sized up the intruders. Aikido is all about redirecting the attackers’ force into throws, locks, and restraints. I wasn’t really sure how good it would be going up against an Opus 24/24, but I’d give it a whirl.

“Down on your knees, all of you,” said the alien team leader, his reedy voice blaring out of a speaker embedded in his helmet. “Hands behind your heads. Do it! Now!”

“You guys?” I said to my friends. “You need to go.”

“Let’s lay down some hurt on these dudes,” said Willy, wound up and ready to swing into full Kung Fu Panda mode. “And fast. I want to ride that X coaster again!”

“Not gonna happen,” I said. “Not today.”

“Wait one minute,” protested Dana. “These...things have weapons.”

Which was exactly why I needed to send my four friends away. Yes, I created them from memories stored in my mind, but they were extremely real. Therefore, an Opus 24/24 blast to any one of them would be extremely painful. I couldn’t stand to see my friends get hurt like that.

“Later, you guys,” I said.

“No,” Dana said, actually stomping her feet. “You’re in trouble. You need us. You can’t just snap your fingers and send us away.”

Well, yes, I could.

And I didn’t need to snap my fingers, although I guess I could’ve. It might’ve looked more magical, might’ve fooled the heavy‑breathing, space‑suited cretins into thinking they were dealing with a witch or a wizard.

Instead, I just imagined my friends gone. To someplace safe. Someplace fun. I picked Six Flags Magic Mountain, outside of Los Angeles.

Maybe Willy would get to ride that ride again.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Milo Ventimiglia

Milo Ventimiglia starred in the hit NBC show Heroes and previously starred in Gilmore Girls. His films include Garner alongside Gerard Butler, and Armored with Laurence Fishburne.

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