When Daniel X discovers that a duo of evil extraterrestrials is plotting to control kids around the world through videogames, he's determined to take them both out of commission. This pair of wicked game masters wants to destroy the human race by turning brainwashed videogamers into an unstoppable army of doom! They're also running an endangered species hunting club on the side, and their next target is none other than Daniel. He'll have no choice but to turn to the aliens' rebellious son who needs help to stand up to his malicious parents. But can Daniel trust the progeny of this treacherous twosome? Or will it be "Game Over" for the alien hunter?
Book One | ENDANGERED SPECIES
Book One | ENDANGERED SPECIES
EVIL ENTERTAINMENT EMPIRE or no, I probably could've kept gaming on the showroom floor all day long. But after I lost my thirteenth virtual bout of Extreme Cage Fighter VI, I decided it was time to start the real hunt.
My first move was to head to the back of the store and down a set of stairs to a service corridor, scouting out a way to the Gygax inner sanctum. I guess luck was on my side, because it took me less than five seconds to collide with a poorly disguised alien store clerk who was swinging around the corner with a cart stacked high with boxes.
A sure sign that top-ten List aliens are in the proximity is the presence of low-level hench aliens. In this case, the oddly matched skin around the clerk's eyes and ears, not to mention his orange toupee, were my first clues as to whom I was dealing with.
I immediately materialized a banana peel under one of the cart's wheels, which skidded sideways, causing the cart to tip over—right on me.
"Ahhh!" I yelled, falling to the floor in mock agony. (Well, not exactly "mock." Those boxes were heavy.)
"Thisss isss for employeesss only," he hissed in annoyance, accidentally revealing a forked purple tongue. The thing was so long, he could barely keep it in. Clearly, he'd forgotten the mouth part of his human costume that morning.
"I was looking for the restroom," I said, gritting my teeth. He looked me up and down like he had X-ray eyes. "Could you please get these boxes off me?" I continued. "I'm a paying customer, you know."
"You're not welcome in thisss place," he said, his voice dripping with menace. "Go back to Kansssasss."
I felt the blood drain from my face. Kansas is where my parents raised me from just about infancy until I was three. And Kansas is where my parents were killed— slaughtered in cold blood by The Prayer, Number 1 on The List of Alien Outlaws. Did the clerk know? Had my cover been blown? Were Number 7 and Number 8 watching me? Did they know I was there?
I refused to let paranoia get the best of me and so switched gears.
"I'm sorry to trouble you, sir," I said, extracting myself from the pile. "I'll be on my way, but let me help you with these boxes first."
The clerk looked momentarily confused, clearly not the cleverest creature to ever step off a UFO. A good tip to remember: politeness and civility throw a goon every time.
I heaved a box that had partially split open. Something metal was poking out, and I shifted the box so I could peer inside.
"No!" The clerk suddenly sounded more anxious than hostile. "I've got it. Pleassse, go back upstairsss. Thisss isss a ssservice corridor only."
"Sorry!" I said with forced cheer. "Have a good day, sssir!"
I was feeling a lot less cheerful than I sounded. What I'd seen inside that box was something no video-game store should need: guns—dozens of them.
And they were definitely not garden-variety man-made handguns that I could easily change into something else. In fact, their Andromedan trinitanium alloy suggested they were imported from a galaxy far, far away—specifically for the purpose of eliminating hard-to-eliminate beings from other planets.
And I just happened to be one of those beings.
I pretended to walk back the way I'd come, then when the clerk wasn't looking I quickly turned myself into a replica of one of the many light fixtures on the walls. The hench alien hastily got his boxes back in order and rushed the cart farther down the hall, where he swiped his ID card at a door bearing a sign that read [Japanese Characters].
I hoped to heck that meant "Employees Only" and not "Alien Hunter Execution Chamber."
Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson
Milo Ventimiglia stars in the hit NBC show Heroes and previously starred in Gilmore Girls. His films include Gamer alongside Gerard Butler (300), and Armored with Laurence Fishburne.