Tarek Ortzen wants what any twelve-year-old kid wants, a day to himself so he can play games in his gaming booth. He gets his chance when he signs up for the role of Stone in the latest war game, Warriors of the Edge. He figures the game will help him escape the real world and its troubles. But after one day of nonstop play, Tarek wishes he'd never heard of Warriors of the Edge. The game has brought nothing but trouble into his life.
When the game begins to blur the line between reality and fantasy, Tarek finds himself caught between those who believe in the game and those who oppose it. Is the game trying to warn him of danger or lead him into it? Tarek doesn't know who to believe.
As Tarek's home world faces the threat of destruction, he must determine whether the character he plays can make a difference in their real lives.
|Product dimensions:||0.88(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)|
Warriors of the EdgeThe Search for Stone
By Katie Bridges
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Katie Bridges
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe New Recruit
In the land of the warriors, the terrain was always changing. For most of the young warriors, that was the point of the game. Terrain-jumping, as they called it, was an exercise in warfare that put new meaning to the words "living life on the edge." It took daring to run through a springtime meadow, knowing it could turn into an icy cliff at any moment. It was terribly dangerous. It was also a great deal of fun, at least for those young enough to still believe themselves immune to danger.
At the age of forty-seven, Daberin Zoewett could not see the fun in terrain-jumping. As his wife was fond of saying, he was no longer the fearless fool he had once been back in his college years. True, he still had the look of a college student, with his smooth ebony complexion, free from the typical signs of aging, but the reality was, he now had two sons who were in college.
Certainly he was an athletic man, capable of handling himself in any terrain, but he was long past his youth. Terrain-jumping did nothing for him. After an entire night of it, he had good reason to be weary of the whole thing. When did it end? In the past half hour alone, he had tracked a fifteen-year-old warrior through snowy mountain passes, tropical jungles, and scorching deserts. If it had done any good, he wouldn't have minded so much. But even after jumping from one terrain to another all night long, there was still was no sign of Stone. And for Zoewett, that was the point of the game!
Like a soldier standing at ease, he clasped his hands behind his gray woolen cloak and let out a weary sigh. Here it was, three o'clock in the morning already, and the scrawny teenager with his stringy red hair and freckled face had accomplished nothing all night. No wonder the teen was known as Idler; he simply idled away his time. Worse, he had just jumped from a busy village—filled with newcomers preparing for war—straight into a lonely blue forest. There was no place more dangerous for a young, inexperienced warrior. The shadows were known to congregate in the blue forest. Idler was sure to be devoured here.
Zoewett shuddered at the thought. The situation did not look promising. If this kid could not lead the way to Stone, Zoewett would have to find someone who could.
He would have gone home already—home to his warm sleeping pod on the world of Nonet—except he couldn't shake the feeling that the scene was about to take an unexpected turn. Sure enough, moments later Idler came upon a canyon wall and, pushing his body against it, entered a hidden door. From Zoewett's perspective, it looked as though Idler had just walked through solid rock. Idler was now on the other side of the canyon, under the impression he was all alone.
Zoewett allowed a slight smile to flicker across his face as he observed the new setting. Hidden doors were always a good sign. Few warriors had the ability to find them, for they led into areas where impossible things could happen. Only a warrior with a belief in the impossible could open them. This door may have led to more of the treacherous blue forest, but no doubt something special awaited Idler in this place.
Even for all its dangers, the blue forest was considered by most to be a breathtaking sight. Many marveled at its blue ferns, blue-needled fir trees, and blue ivy, creeping over everything in sight. Idler simply stood there drinking it in, which only annoyed Zoewett all the more, as he gave no thought to sightseeing. Rather, he hoped that Stone would be found here. That would certainly be accomplishing the impossible. But a quick sweep of the area showed no sign of the powerful warrior he sought. The only thing to greet the wimpy-looking teen was an eerie battle cry sounding in the distance.
It was a sound Zoewett still hadn't gotten used to, no matter how many times he had heard it over the past two weeks. It meant the Meklers, or shadow people as they sometimes were called, were about to descend upon their victim by the thousands. By the look on Idler's face, he must have realized it too. It was a trap!
Just as Zoewett feared; the Meklers flooded the area in the time it took to take a single breath of air. They came in the form of a cloud, and then separated and scattered, until the entire area was consumed by darkness. Zoewett studied the wispy creatures, trying to make out what they looked like. The mental exercise reminded him of his childhood, when he would try to picture shapes in the clouds—except those had been pleasant images. These shadows were anything but pleasant. Meklers had a way of evoking fear in their victims, just by appearance alone.
The effect was most obvious on Idler. The teen watched in horrified silence as the darkness transformed before his eyes, taking on the shape of a unified army marching ever closer. As the image developed further, individual soldiers appeared, covered from head to foot in spiky black armor. More alarming was the sight in the sky. There the cloud had taken on the form of vicious black birds, ready for the attack.
Zoewett closed his eyes, trying to block out the sight, but he couldn't block out the unsettling emotions the creatures had stirred up within him. It was said that, when a feeling of despair grew thick in the air, the shadow people were near. No doubt Idler was now feeling that despair.
Too late to conceal himself, the teen scrambled for the hidden door, tripping over a rotten branch in the process. But when he got to the place where he had entered, he found that he could not get through. In desperation, he slammed his body against the canyon wall again and again, but it would not give. He dared a quick peek behind him. The Meklers were closing in. He turned his attention back to the wall, groping until he found a crack no wider than his flattened hand. He tried prying it open, but it was no use. The door was no longer accessible.
With a loud cry of anguish, he slumped against the wall, putting his last bit of effort into pounding the rock face with his fist. All he got for his trouble was a bruised and bleeding hand. There was nothing for him to do but stand his ground and face the oncoming battle.
"I gave up an entire night's sleep for this!" Zoewett moaned. Yawning, he leaned against a blue fir tree before remembering it was merely an illusion, as were all the trees in this forest. He quickly righted himself in time to avoid a nasty fall to the hard floor. He tended to get a bit absentminded whenever he was tired.
With his warm sleeping pod still on his mind, he told himself that he'd wasted his time following Idler around all night. This kid was done for. There was no way for him to escape the Meklers now. And that meant there would be no chance of finding Stone—yet again.
Zoewett had been searching for the warrior known as Stone ever since this unusual war game had hit the twelve dimensional worlds of Interspersia just two weeks before. Since then, he'd tracked many a player through a maze of scenes like these, all while keeping himself hidden in the back of whatever gaming booth happened to be featuring Warriors of the Edge at the time. He hadn't spent this much time in the Neplun Wit Center—famous for state-of-the-art gaming booths—since he was a teenager. The place was a magnet for tourists and locals alike here on the world of Madasken. Idler was one of the locals.
For all its high-tech gadgetry, Zoewett hadn't had any trouble sneaking about the place. The spacious booths posed no problem for him. With his dark skin, coarse, black hair, and full-length cloak draped around him, he found it easy to camouflage himself amid the busy scenery. All he had to do was remain completely motionless as the battle raged all around him, displaying itself upon the multiple layers of incandescent motion particles that filled every square inch of space. The projected landscape, looking as realistic as any forest, was lush enough to keep the players from noticing a lone man standing behind them, watching their every move.
Idler turned out to be his first good lead. He figured if anyone was clever enough to locate Stone, it was this amped-up wit geek, whose life practically revolved around the gaming center. No one had accessed as many hidden doors as this kid. But now that the Meklers had invaded the blue forest, blotting out the sky, even that hope began to ebb. Once a character died in the game, he was finished. There were no more chances with second, third, or fourth lives. The higher levels of the game were only for those who survived it. Just as in real life!
Zoewett held his breath as the gruesome creatures charged at Idler. Idler took off running the other way—but what did it matter? It was as good as over now. Not wanting to see anymore, Zoewett was about to sneak out of the booth when suddenly the woods were filled with a delightful swooping sound. Dozens of Hyluns descended upon the scene, materializing around the frightened teen.
Hyluns were warriors of a different breed, quite unlike the timid kids who ran around these scenes and claimed to be warriors. These were full-grown men with piercing eyes that blazed in accordance to their fiery personalities. They were of every race and color, perfect specimens each, as though they'd been called out of every world to compete in a great athletic event.
Beneath their gray cloaks, they wore armor overlaid with gold at the waist, upon which strange symbols had been etched. Some of the men showed signs of a recent battle; their faces were smeared with dirt, and their clothes were torn and stained with blood. However, for as fierce as the battle must have been, there was no indication of cuts or bruises anywhere on them, as Hyluns were said to heal very quickly. Neither did they show signs of weariness or defeat. They stood tall and defiant in the face of their enemy.
Legend had it that Meklers and Hyluns had been at battle with one another for eons. Many players believed these two forces came from beyond the edge, from dimensions yet unknown to Interspersia, although no one knew how or why they had ventured into the twelve worlds belonging to the human race. Some said that because scientists were now experimenting with dimensional life, their twelve worlds had simply crossed paths with alien lifeforms already operating in a dimensional existence. But that part of the story had not yet been revealed by the game.
Theories aside, it was enough for the players to know that the Hyluns made use of special powers to guard themselves against attack. Zoewett was grateful for it as he looked upon these great warriors. In an instant, with the air rippling around them, the Hyluns moved into a dimension of timelessness, taking Idler with them. The Meklers could still be seen in the distance, but they were moving at a much slower pace, so as to be almost immobile by comparison. For as long as the effect lasted, Idler was safe.
It was a strong, youthful-looking Hylun, known as Spire, who took the initiative to step out of formation and approach the shaken teen. As always, whenever anyone saw him, Spire was impossible to read, with an expression that was both veiled and mysterious. There were those who said he had a wild, untamed look about him, although, if truth be told, not a strand of his shoulder-length hair was ever out of place. He kept it neatly pulled back and bound with a leather string at the back of his head. Others said he looked like a golden statue come to life, with his copper-colored hair and chiseled face, bronzed from the sun. But it wasn't his looks that attracted most people's attention. It was his presence. Some approached him respectfully, as though he were royalty. To add to his mystique, his every movement was so fluid, so precise, as to make him seem as light as air. Zoewett felt the Hylun could have raced across the woods and made it look as if he'd only taken a single step in that direction. Apparently, gravity had as little effect on him as time did.
Zoewett listened intently for whatever Spire had come to say. He expected the Hylun would speak out some impressive strategy that would send Idler soaring into another land, where they were sure to find Stone. But his hopeful expression fell at once when all Spire said was, "The forces of evil grow ever stronger, young Idler. Even as we speak, they are trying to gain entrance into one of your worlds. We must leave you now to engage them in battle. I don't know when we'll return."
"What?" Idler yelped. "You can't leave me alone out here. I'll never make it without your help."
There was sudden movement among the Meklers at Idler's outburst. It seemed the more fearful he became, the more he drifted back into the realm of time. A shrill cry sounded, like a strong wind howling through a canyon. The Meklers were on the move again, charging toward their victim. With a wide sweep of his arm, Spire stepped between Idler and the Meklers, and the dark army became motionless once more. Idler breathed a sigh of relief seeing his enemy held at bay by nothing more than Spire's upraised arm.
"I never said we were leaving you alone," Spire said solemnly. "Commander has come to help you now."
"Commander?" Idler whined. "What kind of help is he going to be? Commander isn't a Hylun. He can't sweep his arm like you do and make the Meklers stand still. He's just a regular guy who happens to have a brilliantly high IQ. The Meklers aren't going to care that he is an inventor, even if he is the best inventor around."
Zoewett caught his breath upon hearing that. Commander was the name of his own character, designed to look just like himself in this interconnected wit game, where each player had his own look-alike character. The characters closely resembled the personalities of their players as well, to the point where the preprogrammed dialogue of a given character often matched what was going on in the head of its corresponding player. Many players claimed that their characters were able to read their minds and thought of themselves as the character they played, as if they were one in the same. There had never been a game like it before.
There were even similarities in professions. Just as Commander was a leader of warfare in the game, Zoewett was a leader of innovation in real life. He had invented the famous Maze of Desires, a dimensional wonderland, considered the most exciting invention to ever utilize space-splitting technology. He was, as Idler put it, one of the best inventors around. But even he knew that, compared with the Hyluns, he had nothing to offer that could begin to match the ruthless power of the Meklers. Being an inventor might be impressive in his own realm, but what good would all his knowledge be against creatures that operated outside his own arena of experience?
"Experience is not what will help anyone here," Spire said out of the blue, giving Zoewett the impression that the Hylun had heard his thoughts. "Experience is helpful only when one tackles the same problems as before. The missions that await you in this place are full of problems no one has ever faced."
"That sounds promising!" Idler muttered with a roll of his eyes.
Spire went on as though Idler had made no comment. "In such a place of unpredictability as this, you need someone to lead you who is both insightful and inventive. Commander has proven himself to possess these traits. That is why he has been trailing you these past few hours. He believes you can be of help to him."
With a gasp of surprise, the young player swung his head about, scanning the blue forest in search of Commander, but there were no other characters to be seen among the game's scenery.
"Where is he then?" his look-alike character demanded. "I don't see anybody here."
"If you turn around, you'll find that Commander is right behind you," Spire said, and with that, he and the other Hyluns disappeared, taking their protection with them.
"Wait! Come back! I'll be killed!" Idler shouted, but his words only echoed through the area.
With the Hyluns gone, he had no choice but to make a run for it. He headed straight toward the canyon wall, hoping the hidden door would be there for him this time. The Meklers, howling with rage, were in full movement now. They stormed into the surrounding area, but this time the narrow space opened for Idler, just as he reached the wall. As the space closed behind him again, he found himself standing in sand—the soft and welcoming white sand of a barren desert. There was nothing else to be seen except a strange-looking metal building up ahead, rusted beyond repair. The canyon wall had disappeared, along with the blue forest. All was still here. There wasn't even the sound of Meklers in this new place.
Excerpted from Warriors of the Edge by Katie Bridges Copyright © 2011 by Katie Bridges. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsThe New Recruit....................1
The Safe Place....................42
Trouble with Senators....................101
The Power of Desires....................113
The Transfer Station....................126
Into the Dimensional Gap....................139
On the Way to Security....................155
A Storm of Reporters....................163
The Island of Depland....................173
A Bridge Between Worlds....................185
When Hyluns Fall Silent....................224
A Black Hole....................299
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be transported into the world of one of your favorite video games? What if that world crossed over into yours? Tarek Ortzen experiences just that first hand after playing a mysterious new game called Warriors of the Edge. Like any normal twelve year old all Tarek Ortzen wanted to do was spend the day enjoying his new video game (Warriors of the Edge). Unfortunately for him his Warriors of the Edge is no ordinary game and after today he will no longer be an ordinary twelve year old. Filled with fast paced adventure and loads of gaming fun "Warriors of the edge" will have you anticipating each turn of the page. "Warriors of the Edge" has some wonderful characters including Tarek , who I believe is a typical twelve year old, is a character that many kids his age can relate to and would love to share his adventures in this fantastical new world. The story was very detailed and made you feel as if you were Tarek trying to decide what is real and what is not, while figuring out all of the game's secrets. Take a break from the real world and check out "Warriors of the Edge" by Katie Bridges.
Ever been obsessed with a video game? Tarek, the main character, has a serious case of "gamer." Like all twelve year-olds, he has his troubles and wants to leave them behind in favor of a fantasy world. Little does he know that he is getting much more than he bargained for. He signs up to play "Stone", a rough and tumble character, very manly. As he plays the game he quickly learns that the lines between reality and fantasy are not as clearly outlined as he had first thought. There is danger all around him, but he has to cut through the fantasy to find the true, real danger. This book is a great science fiction. The book is good for readers of many genres, the science fiction, though obvious, is not overly brainy and does not control the whole book's plot. Tarek as a character is fun to read about and the secondary characters are interesting to get to know as well. The events in this book are fast-paced, the reader will definitely not be bored. This book is recommended to teens/young adults.
This was an incredible book from page 1. It was so descriptive, I could see the lands in my mind. The characters were like anyone you would meet on the street. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. This book is for anyone preteen through adult. I can't wait till the next book is out.
I have been following this author for several years. She has a large fan base in Washington State and I am really happy to see this book published. I had the opportunity to read this book in its first draft and loved it. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my hardback copy.