A cool, relaxing summer breeze, starkly contrasted the urgently vibrating mobile phone in Roman’s right jacket pocket.
It’s very late.
This call was no surprise. He knew the caller; her striking Nubian features had suddenly flooded his thoughts seconds before the phone’s mechanical response.
She’s probably wondering where I am, he mused.
To an onlooker, Roman would seem schizophrenic as he spoke into the discreet receiver.
The husky, playful tones of a familiar female voice reassured him that his intuition was yet again correct.
“Roman. Where are you Roman?”
Her mild Trinidadian accent immediately conjured up pleasant memo-ries of his early childhood on the tropical island; vivid memories of swarms of brightly coloured butterflies surrounding him.
“I’m at a cash-point,” said Roman, quickly scanning the secluded street.
He removed a leather wallet from his trouser pocket, slipped a debit card from it and guided the plastic into the slot of the silent cashpoint machine. The screen refreshed instantly:
From his rooftop vantage point, with long black hair wildly billowing in the wind, a darkly clad man with Oriental features spied Roman through the viewfinder of an extremely sophisticated pair of binoculars. The ever-changing illuminated characters on the screen were thousands of years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Even though Roman stood three hundred metres away, the display cap-tured his every move with startling clarity. Betraying exceptional stealth, the man retracted the binoculars, tucked them within his black tunic, and silently leapt off the roof into the murkiness below.
In an eerie snake-like fashion, five large men with Oriental features and shaven heads emerged from the darkness. They followed Roman, who remained oblivious to the menacing shadows, which gradually converged on his own.
With a wry grin, Roman anticipated the reward that awaited him if he found rum ‘n’ raisin ice cream and peanut butter after 1:00 AM.
Yes, Soraya would be most pleased.
Soraya, his wife of just eleven months, was two months pregnant. This was their secret. They had not told family or friends. During the past week, Roman developed the belief that profound changes in Soraya’s hormone levels were the cause of these strange cravings.
Still smiling to himself, he suddenly experienced a sharp pain in his head.
_What the hell? _
Surprised, he winced and pulled the earpiece off his ear.
Maybe the earpiece is faulty.
Then, to his shock, Roman noticed a drop of blood at his feet and real-ised that he also had a nosebleed. Quickly tugging a neatly folded handkerchief from his back trouser pocket, he mopped the blood from his nose.
Ominous, whispered voices seemed to come out of nowhere, adding ter-ror to Roman’s unfolding nightmare – voices that grew louder within his mind, until they became a roar. Suddenly, he heard an inhuman cry, like a thunderbolt cleaving through the branch of a majestic oak tree.
Turning swiftly, he saw two of the five men charge. A gust of wind whisked the bloodstained handkerchief from his grasp as the pair approached with bewildering speed.
Before Roman could react, the men somersaulted over his head in uni-son. They landed three metres behind him. The other three stood their ground, glaring at him with undisguised malice.
Stunned and dizzy, Roman tasted blood as his nose continued to haemorrhage. His handkerchief sailed through the air unnoticed until someone shrouded in darkness snatched it from the wind.
For a painfully tense moment, Roman stood perfectly still. Two men blocked his retreat; three stemmed his advance. Characters, which seemed better placed in a graphic novel than on the streets of London, effectively surrounded him. Their outlandish weather-beaten clothing bore symbols that Roman could not decipher.
Suddenly feeling a surge of adrenaline, his experience with the mugger seven years ago flashed through his mind.
Roman reassured himself that at twenty-five years of age, he now weighed a healthier eighty kilograms, and through continued training, he attained third dan black belts in Shotokan Karate and Taekwondo. Roman felt certain he would achieve fourth dan grades in both forms before his twenty-sixth birthday. In the ancient arts of Karate and Taekwondo, the black belt not only signified maturity and proficiency, it also symbolised the wearer’s impervi-ousness to darkness and fear.
Three years ago, not satisfied with the well-known Japanese and Korean arts, Roman commenced training in Muay Thai Boxing and Chinese Wing Chun – a fact, which many of his competition rivals were unaware of. This he felt gave him an additional edge. Confident in his abilities and proud of the many tournaments he had won, Roman held the opinion that few men could withstand a motivated assault incorporating all four styles.
However, these are no ordinary muggers.
Each man weighed over one hundred and fifteen kilograms, yet Roman had the impression they could sprint one hundred metres in under nine seconds. They moved with precision and perfect equilibrium. Their toned bodies, dark green tunics, leather utility belts and tall boots screamed military training.
Who are these guys?
The man at the centre appeared to be their leader. He stepped forward. In response, Roman took one stride back, quickly glancing over each shoulder at the men to his rear. The leader motioned with authority and his four henchmen stood frozen. In unison, threatening smiles appeared on the faces of all five antagonists.
Roman shot to full alert status and the leader’s sinister grin transformed into a cold stare. Suddenly, metal rods slipped from under the leader’s sleeves into his enthusiastic hands.
This could be serious, thought Roman.
The leader rolled one of the rods to Roman’s feet and held the other firmly in his right hand. Then, with a flamboyant flourish, he stretched out his arm. His foot-long baton instantly extended three feet each side. The other men stood back in silent anticipation as their leader moved another step towards Roman.
One on one – how sporting.
Roman did not pick up the staff at his feet.
Instead, he shouted defiantly, “Listen, I’ve worked really hard for my money!”
Without further ado, the leader attacked, and Roman narrowly evaded his furious blows. In a fast-flowing movement, he picked up the shaft from the floor, activated it and counter attacked. But very soon, a relentless whirlwind of impossible force drove Roman into desperate defence. To his surprise, every parry threatened to crumble his wrists and elbows.
The sharp clamour of metal violently striking metal resonated across the surrounding streets of North London. Dizzy and distressed, Roman tried unsuccessfully to break the circle, but the four mountainous henchmen pre-vented any escape. They forced him to resume his battle for survival with a much stronger opponent.
This is no ordinary mugger.
Roman could not recognise the man’s fighting style. It seemed a confus-ing mix of practically everything and nothing at all; at least nothing that Roman had encountered in his martial arts training.
Somehow the man anticipated Roman’s every move. The blows Roman received, as a result, made his intolerable headache even worse. The throbbing flow of blood from his nose adversely affected his vision; and, for the first time in his life, it dawned on Roman that he would be clubbed to death.
During the fight, Roman failed to notice that his driving licence had fallen out of his coat pocket. Even if he had noticed, he could have done little about it. A devastating blow to the back of his head temporarily robbed him of his sight. Three blows followed in quick succession, forcing him to his knees, barely conscious and utterly defenceless.
The ease of his defeat seemed beyond comprehension. He tried to speak but his mouth failed to cooperate.
Take the car, take the phone, take my watch, and take the cash. Take it all; I just don’t want my wife to be a widow…
The leader retracted his staff and smirked confidently. In unison, strange blades slid from the sleeves of the other four men into their eager hands. The four advanced collectively with a cry – arms raised, about to strike Roman.
The leader raised both arms, and his men stopped dead in their tracks. They froze momentarily then retreated with a sinister reluctance.
Roman’s sight slowly returned. He used the long metal weapon in an at-tempt to stand, but an unseen force oppressed him. An invisible yoke prevented him from becoming upright.
Then, in an almost theatrical manner, the leader stretched out his right arm towards Roman and he instantly fell prostrate to the ground. Roman clutched his throat with his right hand; and to his astonishment, strangled himself.
Thought is more dangerous than you think.
Present-day Earth: Schoolteacher ROMAN DOYLE, 25, is married and his wife is pregnant. He remains unaware he is PRINCE ARMON SAKARA, heir of the EMPEROR of a distant galaxy. That is, until he encounters CHI-RO JIN, a veteran of the Psychic Wars.
Chi-Ro’s mission is to return Roman to the Emperor. And so, with his dormant psychic and astral abilities awakened by an alien drug, Roman journeys to the distant galaxy known as The Cosmic Sea, where he joins the Second Psychic War: An interstellar battle between the forces of his father, the Emperor, and those of his uncle, the BARON.
Torn between his princely responsibilities and those to his wife and unborn child, Roman discovers a shocking alien plot that threatens to exterminate the human race.