Wade and the Scorpion's Claw

BOOK: Wade and the Scorpion's Claw
7.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six


Excerpt from
The Copernicus Legacy #2: The Serpent's Curse

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Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean
Sunday, March 16
3:51 a.m.

t was only a dream—a dumb, exhaustion-fueled dream.

But knowing me, the way I hold on to stuff forever, I don't think I'll ever forget it. I'll probably always remember it as
the dream

To begin with, my name is Wade Kaplan. I'm thirteen years old and kind of a math geek. I live in Austin, Texas, though I haven't been there for a very long week. At the exact moment I was having
the dream
, my family and I were squished on the first of three endless flights from the tiny island of Guam in the South Pacific to New York City.

We were on our way to meet someone who could help us understand what had happened yesterday—the day my stepmom, Sara Kaplan, was kidnapped.

More on that later.

To go back a bit, Sara married my astrophysicist dad, Roald Kaplan, three years ago, and her son, Darrell, became my new stepbrother and absolute best friend. While I was in the middle of
the dream
, Darrell was crammed into the row right next to me. Dad sat three seats beyond him, across the aisle. Sandwiched between were Lily Kaplan, my cousin on my dad's side, and Becca Moore, her best friend.

They were the last people I saw before I closed my eyes somewhere between Guam and Hawaii and my dumb dreaming brain took over.

I was in a cave. No, scratch that. I was in
cave—the cave where we had found the first of the twelve relics of the Copernicus Legacy.

Yep, that's what I said: the Copernicus Legacy.

You see, five hundred years ago, in the early sixteenth century, the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus went on a secret journey and uncovered the remains of a large astronomical instrument.

This ancient device, a kind of oversize astrolabe—with seats in it—contained twelve amazing objects that gave the machine its unbelievable power.

Power to travel.

In time.

That's right. The past, the future, the whole spectrum of time from the beginning to, well, I guess, the end of it.

Anyway, Copernicus's mortal enemy, a guy named Albrecht von Hohenzollern, learned about the astrolabe. Albrecht was the Grand Master of the superpowerful, incredibly secret, and seriously evil Knights of the Teutonic Order of Ancient Prussia.

Copernicus knew that if Albrecht and his Order got hold of the time machine, they'd use it to rip the fabric of our universe to shreds.

So Copernicus did the only thing he could do.

He took the astrolabe apart and asked twelve friends around the world to hide and protect its twelve powerful relics. These men and women were called Guardians.

Okay, back to the dream.

Every detail of the cave's stony walls had been downloaded onto my brain's hard drive—the rough limestone, streaked with yellow and red, the constellations painted on every surface all the way up the tapering walls to the opening at the top, the blue handprint that pointed the way to the first relic, and, above all, the incredible silence of the stone. The cave seemed nothing less than a kind of temple from another world.

So I was standing in the center of the cave, when—
—there he was, with a cape and a velvet hat, and a sword longer than your arm.

Nicolaus Copernicus, the revolutionary astronomer who proved that the earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around. He was standing not ten feet away from me next to his awesome machine—a large sphere of iron and brass and bronze, in the center of which sat a pair of tufted seats.

To be honest, the dream Copernicus looked a lot like my dad, with a beard and glasses. That was weird enough. But everyone else was in the cave, too, and they were all sad, like someone had just died.

Lily was sobbing like a baby. “Oh, Wade,” she said. “Oh, Wade!”

Like Lily, Darrell was crying but also shaking his head and stomping around like an angry bull. (That's actually kind of what he's been doing ever since he heard about his mother, and I don't really blame him.) Finally I saw Becca, lying on the floor of the cave, not moving, her arms over her chest. I probably dreamed that because Becca was wounded in the cave in real life. But here she looked, you know, the opposite of alive.

“Becca?” No answer. “What's going on? Somebody tell me!”

Nobody told me anything. Then Copernicus-Dad came over to me.

“Vela,” he said, his face dark under his hat. “I need it now.”

Just so you know: Vela is the relic of the astrolabe that we found in the cave.

For the last five centuries, followers of the original Guardians have kept the relics safe, using codes, clues, riddles, and mysteries that would twist your brain into a pretzel.

Until last week.

Galina Krause, the Teutonic Order's freaky-beautiful new leader, ordered the murder of the communications chief of the modern Guardians, an old man named Heinrich Vogel.

To me, he was Uncle Henry, my father's college teacher and friend.

Don't ask me how we did it, but following a number of clues Uncle Henry had left for us, we found the first relic before Galina did—a small blue stone called Vela—in that cave in Guam.

At that moment, we became Guardians of the Copernicus Legacy. I guess one part of that means having crazy dreams like this one. Another part is that members of your family get taken away from you.

“Wade, please . . .”

I handed Vela to Copernicus-Dad. He attached the triangular blue stone to the time machine.

“You see,” he said. “All things are possible. . . .”

I knew it was my own mind saying that. I mean, it was my dream, right? But it felt like Copernicus-Dad was telling me, too. “Cool,” I said.

Suddenly, the big wheels of the time machine began to turn, and the cave became hazy around me.

“All things are possible, Wade,” he said. “Except one . . .”

“Wait. What?” I said.

was there—Galina Krause with her nasty crossbow, the one she used to wound Becca. “Where is the twelfth relic?” she demanded.

I looked around frantically, but now I was alone. Darrell, Lily, Becca, even Copernicus-Dad had vanished. Galina closed in, her crossbow aimed dead at me. I tried to yell, but the oxygen in the cave was sucked away. I couldn't breathe. The cave went pitch-black and as silent as a tomb, until Galina spoke.

“Die, Wade Kaplan, die!”

I heard the click of the trigger as the arrow left the bow.

I heard the whoosh in the air . . .

. . . and felt the arrow's razor tip enter my chest. . . .



I jumped like a jack-in-the-box. About an inch off my seat. My seat belt was fastened tight and dragged me down hard.

“Ahh . . . mmmph!”

Darrell had his hand clamped over my mouth. “Dude, really? Screaming in a jet? The pilot's gonna ask you to step outside.”

I pushed his hand away. I was soaked with sweat, my head was throbbing, my heart was thundering, and
was staring. I'd just had . . .
the dream

“Sorry. Nightmare.” I coughed.

Darrell grunted. “Join the club. Except it's no dream. We left Guam on Sunday, right? But guess what? It's Saturday again. We just crossed something called the international date line, which turns today into the day before today. So instead of yesterday, Mom was kidnapped two days ago.”

He slammed his fist on the poor armrest. “Great, huh? We're going backward.”

“Darrell . . .” I wanted to tell him that the international date line didn't actually mean what he said, but what really struck me was that I'd dreamed about a time machine at the exact moment we—sort of—went back in time. Before my dream, it was Sunday. Now it was Saturday. A coincidence?

Except I don't believe in coincidence anymore.

The plane descended into Honolulu, and it was good to feel the jolt of the wheels touching the ground. Before anyone else could, I grabbed Becca's bag for her. After Galina had grazed her with the arrow in the cave, we helped Becca in little ways. Her wound was a day old—or two, if you were Darrell—and wasn't close to healing. I shivered, remembering her lying on the cave floor in my dream. At the very least, Becca needed to see a doctor so we'd know she was really okay.

There was a rush of movement and new air and crammed bodies as we stumbled through the Jetway and entered the terminal, but the moment I set foot in the arrival gate area, I tensed up.

“Do you guys feel that?” I whispered. “Somebody's eyes are on us.”

Becca glanced around. “I do. I'm pretty sure no one followed us from Guam, but someone's watching us now.”

“They're probably hiding inside recycling bins,” Lily muttered. “Or disguised as young moms with strollers. The Order is too smart to be seen, and they have to be, because otherwise everybody would know about them, but no one knows about them except us, of course, which goes without saying, but there you go, I said it anyway.”

That was a perfect Lily kind of sentence. I was getting to like how she got so much in before she ran out of breath and had to stop.

“Kids, look,” Dad said, slowing and facing us. “You're right to be cautious, but sometimes people are just people, you know? It doesn't help to see trouble where it isn't. We have enough to think about without imagining enemies.”

Dad might have been right—he usually is—and by “enough to think about” he probably meant Sara. But ever since we attended Uncle Henry's funeral in Berlin, we'd been squarely on the Order's radar. Later, after we'd overheard Galina Krause say, “Bring her to me. Only
can help us now,” we knew that her ugly goons had kidnapped Sara.

What that meant was simple.

Finding the relics and rescuing Sara had become the same quest.

Looking as exhausted as I've ever seen him, Dad said, “We have a good bit of time in Honolulu before our flight to San Francisco. I know we're all hungry, but I want to find a walk-in clinic where someone can take a look at Becca's arm. Then we'll get a bite to eat.”

“A clinic would be great,” she said, smiling. “Thanks.”

It was a quick hike past restaurants, souvenir shops, and newsstands to a little clinic, where an intern cleaned and changed Becca's bandage. After he was done, and Becca gave us the thumbs-up, we headed slowly in the direction of our next departure gate, taking a roundabout route. I mean, we
the Order would know where we were sooner or later, but we wanted to make it as difficult as possible for them. We started in the opposite direction, doubled back, entered shops and left at different times from different exits. It was probably overkill, but all part of our new way of doing things.

Luckily, there was no rush. Our flight to San Francisco was still several hours away.

BOOK: Wade and the Scorpion's Claw
7.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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