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The Softwire: Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3

The Softwire: Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3

4.4 26
by PJ Haarsma

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Hang on to your transport! Wormhole pirates close in on JT and his friends in part three of the cyber-fueled sci-fi adventure.

It’s not a good sign: before Johnny Turnbull and his fellow knudniks even land on Orbis 3, a band of wormhole pirates invades their shuttle and deliver a cryptic threat to JT. And even though JT and his friends are


Hang on to your transport! Wormhole pirates close in on JT and his friends in part three of the cyber-fueled sci-fi adventure.

It’s not a good sign: before Johnny Turnbull and his fellow knudniks even land on Orbis 3, a band of wormhole pirates invades their shuttle and deliver a cryptic threat to JT. And even though JT and his friends are thrilled to find out that they’ll get a reprieve from work this rotation (except for going to school with a bunch of bullying Citizens), JT senses something sinister in the air. Could that be a wormhole pirate he keeps spotting, with an alien skull and crossbones on his arm? Why is Max acting strangely whenever she’s around JT? Who is luring JT into a deadly competitive game? And why is his telepathic sister, Ketheria, suddenly getting sick? Prime your neural implant for some nonstop action and intrigue in a new episode starring the fi rst human softwire.

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Softwire Series , #3
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
630L (what's this?)
File size:
985 KB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

"Girls," I said, plopping down next to Theodore. "They're the aliens!"

"Max again?" he mumbled. His face was pressed against the glass portal that ran the length of the shuttle.

"I don't get what she has against Space Jumpers."

"It's pretty simple, JT. Citizens don't trust them."

"But we're not Citizens," I reminded him.

"We want to be."
I looked up to sneak another glimpse at the Citizens relax¥ing on the mezzanine above my head. It was just high enough to make me feel inferior. The Citizens dined the entire trip to Orbis 3, reclining on puffy loungers decorated with green and gold Gia silks. We sat huddled together on cold aluminum benches and ate only what we brought. There were four other knudniks traveling with us, and they sat obediently near the feet of their respective Guarantors. When ordered, they bolted up the short set of steps to administer whatever mundane or demeaning task was imposed upon them. I hated the Citizens, but Theodore was right; I still wanted to be one.

"What are you looking at?" I turned and asked him.

"I'm trying to see the wormhole. This is the closest any shuttle ever gets. Eight thousand, four hundred, and thirty-three kilometers."

I squeezed next to him and peered out the portal into the stars.

"I see Orbis 3." I gestured to the huge ring hanging in space. "But where is the wormhole?"

Theodore pointed. "Look, there. See how the crystal moon bends a little? The wormhole does that. We must be directly in front of it."

I watched the heavy orange moon Ki pinch and distort as our huge space shuttle lumbered toward our new home. What will our new Guarantor be like? I wondered, but I had already resigned myself to the fact that knowing who it was wouldn't make him any nicer.

"Look!" Theodore said, pulling away from the window and holding up both hands in front of his face. It seemed as if some invisible force were tugging at his skin, stretching it toward the wormhole. "It's happening to you, too."

It was happening to everything. One of the Citizens above Dalton poured his drink over the edge, and the greenish liquid appeared to smear across the cabin before it splashed onto Dalton's head, much to the delight of the other Citizens.

"Hey!" Dalton protested, but the Citizens only applauded or stomped their feet. Would they even notice us missing if the shuttle ripped open and sucked all of us into space? Would they even care? I wondered. Then the alien ordered Dalton to clean up his mess.

"It's an optical illusion," Theodore said. "The wormhole is bending the light before it reaches our eyes."

I turned my attention back toward the wormhole and immediately noticed that something wasn't right. Directly in front of me, Orbis 3 and the crystal moon were bending and twisting violently. That's more than an optical illusion, I thought. Something was coming through the wormhole.

"Is that supposed to happen?" I elbowed Theodore.



With a crackle of bright blue light, a spaceship pierced the blackness of space. The ship was the color of charred metal and rimmed with flashing red lights. It was much longer than our shuttle and twice as tall. It pushed through the wormhole - straight toward us.

"It's gonna hit us!" I cried, but the huge vessel turned portside and saddled next to us. Harsh searchlights from the ship splashed through our cabin.

"Wormhole pirates!" one of the Citizens screamed.

"But that's impossible!" another exclaimed.

"What's a wormhole pirate?" Maxine Bennett cried as she clambered next to us.

"I don't know," I said.

"You have to get Theylor," Theodore whispered quickly.

The Keeper Theylor was seated above the Citizens in a small compartment reserved for those who rule the Rings of Orbis. I moved toward the steps, wondering if the Citizens would let me pass, when our shuttle lurched forward and threw me to the ground. I saw Theylor spring from his cabin.

"Get back to your seat, Johnny," Theylor called out to me with his left head. His right head dipped to focus on the ship's portal. He moved so fast that his thick purple robe blurred with his transparent blue skin as he shifted between the Citizens.

I dashed back to my seat and squeezed next to Theodore. My little sister, Ketheria, was there now, too. In fact, everyone had moved to the starboard side to gawk at the mysterious ship that was now upon us. The vessel was so close it filled the entire portal. Painted on the side of the ship was an alien skull posed over gnarled crossbones. I watched three bay doors crack open on the side of the pirates' spaceship and thick mechanical arms unfold from each opening. Once untangled, they clamped onto our shuttle, and the impact knocked even more people to the floor.

"What are wormhole pirates?" Max shouted, pulling herself back up.

But none of us answered. No one knew. Theylor now stood at the top of the steps and faced the hatch. Both of his heads spoke at the same time. "Children, stay where you are."

I asked Theylor, "What's happening?
"A hostile vessel has emerged from the wormhole. Security will be upon them - "

But heavy pounding on our shuttle door interrupted Theylor's warning.

One Citizen screamed, "You can't let them in!" as she raced to remove her jewelry and hide it in the loungers.

But whoever wanted inside was coming anyway.

WUMP! The shuttle hatch crumpled inward. WUMP! And the seal to the metal hatch broke. Ketheria covered her ears as the escaping pressure screeched through the cabin. I swallowed frantically, trying to adjust to the pressure change. One more wallop and the hatch crashed to the floor. Someone screamed.

Meet the Author

PJ Haarsma has been gazing at the stars and wondering what’s out there his whole life. After a successful career as a commercial photographer, he finally decided to write about it. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Softwire: Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Love it
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helen vazquez More than 1 year ago
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Sandra Stephens More than 1 year ago
good book
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jetraven More than 1 year ago
This is book 3 of the series. While the main character, JT, and some of the other principal characters are people you feel you know by now and feel like you can relate to, there are always new characters being introduced which are unique and intriguing. As JT is pulled through many different predicaments, you wonder what will happen next and are constantly trying to figure out who is to be trusted and who isn't which creates some great suspense. You will be drawn in to these books just as JT is drawn in to computers!
Richelle_Taylor More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, I enjoyed the first two books from The Softwire series so much that I could hardly wait for this third one to come out and it did not disappoint me! In fact, this was my favorite one from the series so far! PJ Haarsma's imagination has created yet another exciting world very unique from the first two. I enjoyed visualizing Orbis 3 with its large crystal sculptures and sparkling scenery. As I read about the continued adventures of JT and his sister and friends I was thrilled at all the intense action that started off right from the very beginning and lasted clear through to the last page. I felt relief for the children as they seemed to be in a kinder world without having to work as slaves and get to live in the care of their good friend. Yet, they had plenty of opportunities to show their intelligence and bravery as they fight off components playing an exciting life-threatening game--a game which amused me as I realized the author was managing to teach us a little about physics along the way. It was charming to read how JT and Maxine "Max" adjust to adolescent feelings, especially toward each other now that they are getting a little older. I think the story also does a wonderful job of demonstrating how easy it is to become prey to the night life and addictions and the consequences that can occur as experienced by JT's friend Theodore. Now, I will sit back and try to patiently wait for Orbis 4 (and perhaps even a movie as these stories sure would make a great one)!
Denise_Gary More than 1 year ago
The third installment in The Softwire series begins with a glimmer of hope for the orphaned human children enslaved on the Rings of Orbis. Their friend is now their guarantor. All they have to do is go to school and have fun - a concept that has become foreign to them. But life is never simple on Orbis and as in all of The Softwire novels, the intrigue and action takes off immediately. This series would translate well into movies. Haarsma has a terrific visual sense and the closing act of this book is nothing short of spectacular! The best thing about The Softwire series is that although they function as young adult books, they are much more than children's books to alert adults. They are filled with earthly political correlations and life's brutal realities, even though the stories play out on a completely alien world. Any person who has struggled to maintain their dignity and will to keep going while surviving oppressive conditions will find a kindred spirit in the main character, JT. Haarsma makes the reader feel JT's introspective questioning, his searching, his constant yearning and his aching desire for freedom and to know the purpose of his life. I have always loved the character most for his maintenance of kindness and compassion in the face of cruelty and abuse. However, in Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3, it seems as though JT is losing these qualities which set him apart as a true hero. It is quite shocking to discover that JT is developing a hard side. Life is pushing him to darker places. But Haarsma's writing style is one of reality. As sad as I felt to witness JT's growing coldness, I realized the author was holding true to human nature. Hardship slowly wears people down, fills them with grief and kills their spirit. The challenge for any person of quality is whether they can meet cruelty with kindness. JT is becoming more than a softwire and we see his responsibilities will make his decisions more difficult in the future. Will he completely lose his humanity to the ages-old enemy of abuse at the hands of those in power or will he show himself to be a leader who will not give up the best qualities a human being can possess? Loneliness and pain can open the door to understanding and this is illustrated well in the higher level of compassion JT ultimately feels for his tormentor than his mentor. JT and his nemesis both long for freedom and happiness; they just attempt to gain it in radically different ways. One uses sadness as a motivating force; the other uses it as a destructive force. But there is another important difference between them. JT has the unwavering support of his sister, whose belief in him cannot be shaken. This unbroken trust strengthens his resolve to keep fighting for their future. JT's adversary tramples those who devote themselves to him, leaving him weak and alone in the end. I love these books for the quiet depth that can be found amidst their obvious, exciting action. I look forward to Orbis 4 to find the answer to the question JT is left asking himself - what kind of man will he become? I hope I am not disappointed in him, but with Haarsma telling the story, there will be truth regardless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago