Tim: Defender of the Earth

Tim: Defender of the Earth

by Sam Enthoven

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595141842
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 03/27/2008
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.05(d)
Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Sam Enthoven fulfilled his dream to become an internationally published author of fantastical action thrillers for young people with his rollicking 2006 debut The Black Tattoo. Tim, Defender of the Earth is his second book—or as he modestly puts it, 'Phase Two of my sinister masterplan to conquer the universe!'.

Read an Excerpt

Secrets

London. Admiralty Arch. Within sight of Buckingham Palace. The black ministerial Mercedes turned out of Trafalgar Square and purred smoothly to a halt. The driver leapt out, opened the passenger door, and snapped to careful attention as his passenger emerged.

David Sinclair had been Britain's prime minister for less than twenty-four hours. Already he'd found something about the job that he didn't like.

"Why the hell don't I know about this already?" he asked, setting off for the Admiralty's entrance without waiting. "Why wasn't I told about this before?"

"Because," said Dr. Alice McKinsey behind him, for what had to be the thirtieth time at least, "it's classified. What you're about to see, Prime Minister," she added, only just catching up, "is the single most sensitive scientific project that the UK has ever been involved in. Only myself, my team, and a very select few others have the slightest idea of its existence. To keep it that way, it was decided early on that only the most powerful person in the land could ever be let in on the secret."

She looked at the PM as she held the Admiralty's door for him, waiting for the flattery to work its magic. David Sinclair was the third prime minister to discover what she'd been working on all these years: she was getting used to the breed and the way they operated. Sure enough, this one seemed no different.

"I understand that, Dr. McKinsey," said Sinclair. "There's not much you need to tell me about national security, believe me. But I was expecting . . . I don't know, key codes to our nuclear arsenal, access to special bunkers in case of attack, that sort of thing-not what you've been telling me. Imean . . ." he added, his voice rising again, "it's fantastic! You couldn't make it up!"

"One moment, Prime Minister," said Dr. McKinsey. By now they had reached the life-size portrait of Winston Churchill that stood at the end of one of Admiralty Arch's echoing passageways. Long years of habit made her check her surroundings before she touched a certain spot on the picture's ornate gold frame.

"Identify yourself, please," said a voice from Churchill's mouth, making Mr. Sinclair flinch. Dr. McKinsey leaned toward the painting.

"Dr. Alice McKinsey plus one. Password: Leviathan."

"Voice pattern accepted," Churchill announced. "Password verified. Stand by . . ."

Titanium bolts slid back in their sheaths with a sound like distant thunder. The painting swung forward to reveal a small room behind it, luxuriantly upholstered in comfortable-looking old red leather with thick pile carpet underfoot.

"Shall we?" asked Dr. McKinsey.

"After you," said Mr. Sinclair.

Dr. McKinsey pressed a button on the brass panel on the wall. Churchill's portrait-now revealed as the front of a foot-thick door of what looked like solid steel-swung back into place. Then the elevator began its descent.

"How long has this project of yours been going on?" asked Mr. Sinclair. The acceleration was smooth, but he could feel they were traveling at high speed.

"It was Stalin who gave Churchill the idea originally," said Dr. McKinsey, glad of the rare chance to explain the history of her life's work. "In 1926 a group of Russia's top scientists were assigned to the task of producing a kind of 'super-soldier,' bred and trained from birth to be incredibly strong, insensitive to pain, indifferent to what they ate-in other words, invincible. Imagine it, Prime Minister," she went on, her eyes lighting up as she warmed to her theme, "an entire army capable of marching for days on only the most minimal of supplies. Soldiers who could fight tirelessly and unstoppably without pain or fatigue. That was the original basis for our program." She smiled.

"So . . . this creature," said Mr. Sinclair. "Are you saying it was once . . . a man?"

"No, no," said Dr. McKinsey. "Stalin's scientists experimented directly on living humans and animals, but since I came on board, we've never attempted anything like that here. What we've done instead is directly manipulate DNA-the building blocks of life-to create something completely new: a creature based on living, or once-living, things but that is in fact entirely differentt. Up until sixty-five million years ago, dinosaurs walked the earth. But while the superficial resemblance is definitely there, nothing like what you're about to see has ever existed before."

"Indeed," said Mr. Sinclair with a thin smile. He was perfectly certain that what Dr. McKinsey was talking about couldn't be even a quarter as impressive as she was making it out to be. Whatever trick she'd managed to pull on previous PMs to make them carry on providing such massive amounts of funding for her ludicrous scheme, it wasn't going to work on him.

But Dr. McKinsey, for her part, had seen similar thoughts go through the minds of two of Mr. Sinclair's predecessors. She knew that the prime minister's air of cynicism would vanish once he saw what she'd brought him here to see, so she wasn't worried-not yet.

Seventy stories below the center of London, the elevator slowed smoothly to a halt. The door opened, and Dr. McKinsey watched Mr. Sinclair's expression carefully as he took in the scene beyond.

They were in a laboratory. It wasn't the biggest laboratory in the world, but it was a decent size-six rows of long work tops filled with computers and equipment. Eighteen technicians stopped what they were doing and stood up-white coats rustling-to look in the prime minister's direction.

But he wasn't looking at them.

Mr. Sinclair's mouth had fallen open. Like a zombie, he shuffled forward straight past the lab and its contents while Dr. McKinsey and her teams exchanged knowing smiles. When at last the prime minister reached the thirty-meter-long strip of reinforced glass that was the laboratory's far wall, he stopped and stood there, gaping at what lay outside it.

"It's . . ." he said finally, turning to Dr. McKinsey and pointing at it. "It's a monster. A giant monster. Here, under London."

"That would be one way to describe him, yes," Dr. McKinsey answered. "But we call him something else. Prime Minster," she went on. "Allow me to present the Tyrannosaur: Improved Model. Tim for short."

Mr. Sinclair just stared. What he was seeing seemed to stop at his eyeballs and go no further: his brain simply couldn't take it in.

Beyond the glass lay a vast concrete chamber. The observation window where Dr. McKinsey and the PM stood was about halfway up one of the smaller sides: the sheer drop into the colossal space outside the window was dizzying by itself. But the creature the chamber had been constructed to contain took up a full third of its volume.

It was a dinosaur-or it looked that way to Mr. Sinclair's eyes. The creature's skin was gray-green and scaly: it had two hind legs, each one the size of a battleship, and a long and muscular tail. Its shoulders were surprisingly broad and powerful-looking: arms the girth of redwood trees led to huge hands with curving claws. The creature's head alone, with its elongated jaws full of stalagmite-like teeth, was bigger than any living thing the prime minister had seen before this moment. A ridge of short bony plates led up along the creature's tail and spine, culminating finally in a small lump on its bony forehead, a little above its eyes. The giant was lying on its side. Its eyes were closed. Its legs were drawn up; its arms were crossed on its chest; its sides heaved in and out colossally.

Dimly, the prime minister began to be aware of how closely Dr. McKinsey was watching him. He turned.

Dr. McKinsey was more than seventy years old, but at that moment you would never have guessed it. Her smile was like a young girl's as she savored the prime minister's reaction.

Mr. Sinclair cleared his throat.

"It . . ." he began.

"He," Dr. McKinsey corrected gently. Her smile widened.

Mr. Sinclair blinked and frowned.

"He, then," he said. "He's . . . drugged? You keep . . . 'him'-drugged like this? So he can't escape?"

"Oh no," said Dr. McKinsey. "Tim's not drugged. He's just sleeping."

She gestured out of the window-and just then, the enormous beast stirred. Leathery lips peeled apart, exposing more fangs. One huge clawed forelimb slashed listlessly at the air, and the sinuous tail lifted-curled-then slapped the floor. There was a distant rumble, and Mr. Sinclair felt an impact tremor through the soles of his expensive shoes.

"Ah, look!" said Dr. McKinsey. "He's dreaming again. Isn't that sweet?"

Mr. Sinclair did not reply.

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