Book One of the Secret World Chronicle arc

НазваниеBook One of the Secret World Chronicle arc
Дата конвертации29.10.2012
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Book One of the Secret World Chronicle - ARC

Created by Mercedes Lackey and Steve Libbey

Written by Mercedes Lackey with Steve Libbey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee

Edited by Larry Dixon

Advance Reader Copy




Heirs of Alexandria Series

The Shadow of the Lion (with Eric Flint & Dave Freer)

This Rough Magic (with Eric Flint & Dave Freer)

Much Fall of Blood (with Eric Flint & Dave Freer)

Urban Fantasies Series

Bedlam's Bard (with Ellen Guon)

With Rosemary Edghill

Beyond World's End

Spirits White as Lightning

Mad Maudlin

Music to My Sorrow

Bedlam's Edge (ed. with Rosemary Edghill)

The Serrated Edge

Chrome Circle (with Larry Dixon)

The Chrome Borne (with Larry Dixon)

The Otherworld (with Larry Dixon & Mark Shepherd)

Historical Fantasies with Roberta Gellis

This Scepter'd Isle

Ill Met by Moonlight

By Slanderous Tongues

And Less Than Kind

Bardic Voices

The Lark and the Wren

The Robin and the Kestrel

The Eagle and the Nightingales

The Free Bards

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Bardic Choices: A Cast of Corbies (with Josepha Sherman)

The Fire Rose

The Wizard of Karres (with Eric Flint & Dave Freer)

Fortress of Frost and Fire (with Ru Emerson)

Prison of Souls (with Mark Shepherd)

Lammas Night


Fiddler Fair

Brain Ships (with Anne McCaffrey & Margaret Ball)

The Sword of Knowledge (with C.J. Cherryh, Leslie Fish, & Nancy Asire)

Invasion: Book One of the Secret World Chronicle

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Mercedes Lackey, Steve Libbey, Cody Martin, and Dennis Lee

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

A Baen Books Original

Baen Publishing Enterprises

P.O. Box 1403

Riverdale, NY 10471

ISBN: 978-1-4391-3419-1

Cover art by Larry Dixon

First printing, March 2011

Distributed by Simon & Schuster

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America


Dedicated to the dear friends, brilliant creators, and great souls who have inspired and guided us:

Gail Simone, Kurt Busiek, Art Adams, Greg Pak, Perry Moore, Stan The Man, Mike Grell, Matt Wagner, James Owen, Austin Grossman, Dwayne McDuffie, Alex Ross, Paul Dini, Mike Mignola, Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Jeff Parker, Garth Ennis, John Ostrander, Fred Van Lente, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Matt Fraction, Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Howard Chaykin, Charles Vess, Walt & Louis Simonson, Ann Nocenti, Ed Brubaker, Alan Moore, Phil Foglio, Marc Silvestri, Fabian Nicieza, Chris Meadows, Doug Shuler, Dave Burns, Mike Glasheen, Jay Doherty, David Nakayama, Vince D’Amelia, Sean Fish, Michael Shreeves, Andy Wein, Scott Merry, Cedric Johnson, Alex Lennox-Miller, Dan Shull, Jake Fejedelem, Mike Eastham, Bart Heid, Josh Haycraft, Kenneth Widmer, Steven Dare, Michelle Travis, Chris Meadows, Veronica Giguere, Victoria Fulford, Stephen Zajac, David Morgan, the hoopy froods at 2000AD, our awesome pals at DC, cool cats at Marvel, Cory Doctorow, Brian Azzarello, Stan Sakai, Greg Rucka, Jonathan Hickman, Sean McKeever, Dale Eaglesham, Nicola Scott, Howard Porter, Carlo Pagulayan, J.H. Williams III, Harry Knowles & AICN,, BoingBoing, Wizard’s Asylum, Zeus Comics and all the amazing friends at Comic Book Resources and YABS, Comics Alliance, Scott Shaw!, Unscrewed!, Gayla, Dalton, Tiyada, Awbrey, Mr. Mike, Dale, Keith, our RPG and gamer buddies, Curt, Tammy, Alex, Paul & Tor, Joe Phillips, Adult Swim, Ken Mitchroney, Seanbaby, Chris Sims…

…and all the wild and lovable fans who give us support, smiles and good times.


But above all:

We owe this story to City of Heroes/City of Villains/Going Rogue, the MMORPG by NCsoft and Paragon Studios where all these characters first were born. They evolved, grew, and changed from their original concepts, but much of that development took place in the world of Paragon City. If you would like to play in our favorite addiction, go to and give it a try. Who knows? One day you might meet up with one of us.

Part One:
The Way the World Ends


The blue-skinned, blue-haired woman known by the callsign “Belladonna Blue” leaned into the oval hatch of the captain’s cubby. She was already suited up in her white, full-body nanoarmor, with only her head exposed. Her helmet was under her arm. “You’ve got about two hours, Vic. Make the most of it.”

Victoria Victrix nodded. She hoped someone was going to be around to read the file when all this was over.

She began to type, hesitantly at first, but picked up speed as she went to make the most of what little time there was left.

* * *

Whoever you are that’s reading this, you might not know that the real genesis of where we are now was back in 1935.

That was when the first metahumans first started showing up in Nazi Germany, paraded before screaming crowds at Hitler’s rallies. The very first to appear were Vaterland, and his sidekick, Hitlerjungend. Then came the one the rest were named for—Ubermensch. And honestly, nobody thought they were anything but propaganda blow-ups using stage magic and fakery until the Blitzkrieg started pounding across Europe. But there were more of these Ubermenschen, and all by themselves they were the equivalent of entire battalions and tank corps. For a while they had it all their own way, too.

That changed during the Battle of Britain; the waves of fighter-bombers were being led by a Nazi who had reflexes like nobody’s business and hardly needed a plane at all.

The Black Baron.

Bullets literally bounced off him. His “plane” was a frame with eight machine guns and an armored engine. He could pull maneuvers that would easily have sent anyone else into full blackout. He was an unstoppable one-man fighter squadron. And he was cutting the RAF down at the coastline.

One of those RAF pilots was Lieutenant Commander Nigel Patterson, whose plane burst into flames and disintegrated around him under the Baron’s guns.

Except “Nige” didn’t die, because something happened to him in that instant. Out of the explosion burst a fireball that was a man, who proceeded to punch holes with his body in every Nazi fighter-bomber in that formation. Then he landed on the frame of the Black Baron’s craft, ripped the control cables and fuel lines out, and punched the Baron square in the nose for good measure, knocking him out. The Baron’s “plane” folded up and plummeted. Maybe the Baron could survive bullets, but he couldn’t survive a terminal-velocity fall with an armored V-16 engine crushing him. He turned into a red smear on the ground.

Spitfire, the first of the Allied supers, was born.

Time after time, again and again, it happened during the War. Nazi, Italian Fascist and Japanese metas would show up and kick butt for a while, and then something bizarre would happen on the battlefield. Suddenly they were facing someone that could take them. That changed the way the war was fought. The metas battled it out one on one, gladiator style, leaving conventional forces to win or lose the battles. And after the war was over, the metas that didn’t much cotton to law and order just moved on to crime. Which was where Echo came in, funded by the eccentric but charismatic nephew of Nikola Tesla who had a boatload of his uncle’s inventions and the savvy to make them pay off handsomely. Echo organized the old metas from former WWII vets and recruited new ones, bundling them all into a single organization. And for a while, well, things in the world looked a lot like the comic-book writers from before the war used to picture them. Every city had its Echo HQ, and you’d see the occasional metavillain pulling off something extreme and your local Echo OpTwo or Three would take him out, either alone or with a team. People got used to it, and couldn’t remember a time without metas, actually. They collected trading cards and action figures, and wore buttons with their favorites on them, like they did with ball players. Metas got legislated, with the Extreme Force laws and the Control Officer mandate. Echo built special containment prisons for metavillains. It was a lot less scary than the threat of the A-bomb, and then the H-bomb. And a lot more marketable.

Echo’s main HQ was in Atlanta, because Yankee Doodle and Dixie Belle got married right after the end of WWII and settled there, and they were the pride of the US Metahuman Corps. Atlanta was pretty central, fairly modern, and had access to about anything, but was not Washington, DC, or NYC. Andro Tesla wanted to keep Echo away from the US centers of politics.

Then came the day that everything changed. My friends and I were right in the middle of it.

Who am I? I’m Victoria Victrix Nagy, magician, metahuman, romance writer, and hacker, at your service. I’ll try to chronicle what happened. I’m not a reporter—I’m trying to pull together notes and stories, write this all down as best I can and I hope I don’t screw it up. I’ll give you the truth, as far as we know it. You’ll know the mistakes we made, and hopefully someone will have a record of who was a hero, who gave all, and just how much we lost. And for us, for me, this is how it began.

Welcome to our nightmare.

Chapter One:
Before The Storm

Mercedes Lackey, Steve Libbey, Cody Martin and Dennis Lee

Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Callsign Eisenfaust

I Minus 24:00:00 and Counting

Eisenfaust hunkered in the shadows of an alleyway outside a bar. At the end of the block, a stark white wall terminated the nighttime darkness like a false horizon, surrounding a brightly lit tower with windows as slender as a man’s arm: the Echo Security Facility, one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the United States of America.

He had survived the plane crash—as Germany’s greatest pilot, he knew how to ditch a plane—but he hadn’t counted on the flimsiness of twenty-first century aircraft; his broken arm throbbed, not quite healed yet.

Better than the fate his pursuers had encountered in the Andes. He almost wished he was back in the jungle stronghold, just long enough to mock the Commandant who had stolen his beautiful Valkyria from him.

Ah, Effi. Your betrayal cut deep.

He would not fall prey to the foolishness that won Valkyria. Eisenfaust had fought for the Fatherland, for his fellow Deutschlander, for the freedom his people deserved. But this…this was madness.

And in keeping with his nom de guerre, he’d crush it under his fist. But he needed allies, and he needed time to plan.

Slowly, he made his way down the dim street to the Echo compound. These American Ubermenschen would surely be surprised by the identity of their uninvited guest.

The guard at the gate eyed him. “The campus is closed, sir.”

“I wish to speak to your commanding officer,” Eisenfaust said. “Fetch him at once.”

“Ah…right. You’ll have to come back tomorrow. We open at nine a.m.

“I have no intention of waiting.” Eisenfaust scowled at the enlisted man. “Your commander—bring him.”

A second guard stepped out of the booth, wary of the increasing tension in the air. “We can’t do that, sir. Please step away from the gate.”

Eisenfaust cursed under his breath. Even the Allied Aces had shown him more deference than these flunkies. He pointed at the security tower. “That is my destination. If you cannot assist me, step aside.”

Both guards reached for their sidearms. Moving with the inhuman speed that made him Germany’s greatest aerial ace, he swatted the guns out of their hands before they could level them in his direction. The two men gasped.

With his good arm, he flattened the first guard with a blow to the chin. “I will find him myself!” he exclaimed furiously. The second guard knelt to seize his gun; Eisenfaust booted the man in the side, hurling him back into the booth.

With a contemptuous sniff, he kicked the guns aside and walked to the door of the detention facility.

In wartime Eisenfaust would never have been so careless as to simply leave the guards unconscious, but his goal was not to kill these men. He was here to make his presence known. Eisenfaust opened the glass doors, approving of their weight; the bulletproof glass was two inches thick and obscured the lobby.

“Stop right there, mister.” The speaker was a fine example of American manhood: tall, wide-shouldered, a face with mongrel features, topped with a swath of light brown hair. His black Echo uniform sported epaulets decorated with the Stars and Stripes. A thick metal gauntlet on his right hand glowed with plasma energy—and was directed at Eisenfaust.

Gute nacht, my friend. I am told you have rooms for rent.”

A score of Echo guards with rifles lined up behind the meta. “We have plenty of room for punks who smack our people around. Don’t make me use force.”

“Good. I was hoping to speak to someone with authority.” He drew himself up into a salute. “I wish to turn myself in.”

“Now that was easy.” The meta motioned the guards forward, who circled Eisenfaust. “Take him in, boys. Watch those hands.”

Eisenfaust gestured to his broken arm. “You have nothing to fear from me, young man. I am a colleague of your father’s.” A guard handcuffed his wrists, eliciting a wince of pain.

“I doubt that. Pop died over twenty years ago, and I don’t think he ever managed to buddy up to a German after the war.”

A tinge of doubt crossed Eisenfaust’s mind. “I…I am sorry to hear this. He was a fine warrior, the best I ever faced.”

“Huh?” The metahuman looked at him closely. “Now you’re messing with me. You can’t be a day over thirty.”

“You are correct, in a sense.” The shackles clanked as he offered his hand. “I am Oberst Heinrich Eisenhauer of the Uberluftwaffe of the Third Reich.” He paused, enjoying the look on the young man’s face. “Your father, Yankee Doodle, knew me as Eisenfaust.”

The meta looked from the hand to Eisenfaust’s face. “Bull,” he said at last. “He died fighting the Allied Aces. In 1945.”

“Then your father told you about me. Clearly you carry on his legacy.”

A succession of expressions passed over the American’s face so quickly that anyone lacking Eisenfaust’s metahuman perceptions would not have registered anything but a frown: first surprise, then reflection, then the cold, strategic calculation of a man used to secrets. His bluff bravado returned in less than a heartbeat.

“As Yankee Pride, yeah. And we’re a little too savvy to let some Nazi fetishist get his rocks off by pretending to be a dead Nazi war criminal. Did you leave Hitler’s brain in your Panzer tank out front?” Yankee Pride backed off as Echo guards seized Eisenfaust’s arms, wrenching his broken arm. “Put him in a holding cell under suicide watch until we can ID this wingnut.”

The guards began to drag Eisenfaust down the hallway towards the cell block. He called out: “Ask your mother! Or Liberty Torch! Or Worker’s Champion! They knew me. They
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