The night sky beyond is backlit with explosions; the rumble of munitions is audible at a distance. On a suburban street of the future, a boy of twelve stands beside a hover-car parked by one the houses, clutching an over-stuffed duffle bag. Although the house smolders with recent damage, his gaze is riveted to the horizon. The tromp of booted feet and shouted orders can be heard, drawing closer.
It is the Pasqua Wipeout, an entire world raided,
stripped of its wealth, its citizens killed or sold into
slavery. By combining their talents, seven pirate leaders take, from Pasqua, wealth enough to purchase new identities. In the years after, they commission their own pocket universes. It is a feat usually undertaken only by the wealthiest corporations and individuals. Within these small but genuine universes (each sculpted according to its owner's desire and obeying its own laws of physics,) the pirates plan to live out their lives in absolute wealth, immune from the justice of Old terra.
Years pass. Someone or something begins to shut down pocket universes, putting two of them in a time-locked stasis. No one knows the cause. With the fate of hundreds of thousands of sentient beings at stake, the Terran Regional Representative contacts Rene Korda. Korda is the ranking human specialist in the creation of pocket universes. He is charged with investigating the phenomenon, discreetly, and reporting back to Old Terra on the cause. Korda takes with him a supply of bottled time, a device which will allow him to maneuver freely within the time-locked world.
As he begins his mission, Korda finds that a universe in stasis is a dangerous place. The supply of bottled time he wears can temporarily activate anything from a landslide caught in mid-motion to a guard about to open fire. Worse still, successfully restarting a universe brings the wrath of its owner upon Korda, as though some terrible secret is being concealed.
When Korda learns that a third universe is about to be shut down, a gambling resort known as Fortuna, he hurries there, hoping to solve the mystery before its many citizens and tourists become frozen in time. Yet the secret Korda learns on Fortuna changes everything. He finds himself committed to a mission he could not have dreamed of at the start, on an odyssey through worlds where magic reigns, reality warps, plants speak words of wisdom, and witches and fairy queens provide deadly puzzles.
How Korda goes about his task has fearful consequences. If he is clumsy, alerting the enemy to his intentions, they may escape, joining together and laying in wait for him to make the wrong move. If he is forced to kill his opponents, he may incur the wrath of the Terran Regional Representative for his vigilante style of justice.
Who is shutting down the pocket universes? Can it be related to the Pasqua Wipeout and that catastrophe's lone survivor? In all the universe, only Rene Korda stands a chance of finding the answers and returning justice to the stars.
The Chronomaster Page