Die Back By Richard Hacker #Book Tour

Title: DIE BACK (Book One of the Alchimeia)

Author: Richard Hacker

Publisher: Del Sol Press

Pages: 332

Genre: Fantasy/Thriller

Order Your Copy: Amazon
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In 272 AD Egypt, an enemy thwarts an attempt by League Inkers, Thomas Shaw and Nikki Babineaux, to obtain the Alchįmeia,
a document holding alchemical secrets. Sensing his impending death,
Thomas secures Nikki’s promise to keep his son, Addison, from the
League, an organization defending the time continuum. After his father’s
death, Addison inherits a mysterious pen, accidentally inking himself
into the consciousness of a man who dies on a muddy WWI battlefield in
France. Hoping to make sense of his experience, he confides in Nikki,
his best friend and unknown to Addison, an Inker. Keeping her promise to
Thomas, she discounts Addison’s experience.Fixated on the pen, Addison inks into a B-17 bombardier in 1943. The
pilot, whose consciousness has been taken over by someone calling
himself Kairos, gloats over killing Addison’s father and boasts of plans
to destroy the League. As Kairos attempts to wrest Addison’s
consciousness, Nikki shocks Addison out of the Inking. She confesses her
knowledge of  the League. When Kairos threatens to steal aviation
technology, she she sends Addison and his partner, Jules, to an Army
test of the Wright Flyer in 1908. Believing they have succeeded, they
return to find the continuum shifted and Nikki knowing nothing about the
League.Inking back to his father’s mission in Alexandria, Addison and Jules
hope to get his help in returning the time continuum to its original
state. Instead, Addison’s father gives him the Alchįmeia to
hide in a crypt at the Great Lighthouse on Phalos. On their return to
the present a Kairos agent murders Jules, her consciousness Inked into
the past. Addison follows the clues, Inking into Pizarro in 16th century
Peru. He finds Jules in the child bride of the Inca emperor. His plan
to find the technology and save Jules without destroying the Inca
civilization is thwarted by a fleet of Inca airships. Captured, he is
taken to Machu Picchu. With Jules help, they find the stolen schematics,
but are confronted by Kairos. He stabs Addison, forcing Addison’s
consciousness back to the present and traps Jules in the 16th Century.
Addison returns to another altered world. Nikki no longer exists, the
world is at war with the Inca, and Manhattan lay in ruins.Addison Inks his father, learning the origins of the League. Thomas
urges Addison to uncover their enemy with the help of his colleague,
Maya. Putting suspicion on another inker,  Cameron, she insists he must
be killing Inkers and acquiring Pens. In a final attempt to stop him,
they entrap Cameron, only for Addison to discover Maya is Kairos, his
enemy.  She kills Cameron, also wounding Addison.  He chases Maya, who
intimates that she holds his mother’s, Rebecca’s, consciousness.
Confused he delays, giving her time to scrawl a name with her pen before
shooting her dead.Inked away when Maya died, Kairos finds himself, not in his intended
host, Hitler, but in a German infantry soldier POW in the Ardenne during
the Battle of the Bulge, WWII. Hoping to repair the shift in the time
continuum, Addison brings the League Pens together with the fate of the
world and everyone he loves at stake. He awakens to a dissimilar world,
but Jules and Nikki exist. And with life there is always hope.

 

First Chapter

 

I am an Inker. Without death
my job goes undone. Like other Inkers, I plan for it, yearn for it while never
loving it, but this time, death might well prove to be my doom. Alchemic
algorithms placed my partner Nikki and I at the historic burning of the Great
Library of Alexandria, Egypt, in 272 AD. We had inked ourselves into the
consciousness of the right people—an arthritic librarian and his slave boy—and
stole the Alchi̱meía papyrus scrolls for their rare alchemical formulas.
Our plan should have worked
without a hitch. Instead, we are now faced with a severe obstacle: a massive
Roman centurion in heavy scale armor, a member of Aurelian’s legions currently
sacking the city in an effort to defeat and demoralize Queen Zenobia. The
centurion stands at least six foot three, his armor smeared with Egyptian
blood, his mouth open and yelling at me, not in Latin, but with a voice oddly
reminiscent of twentieth century New York:
“Stop, Inkahs!”
He blocks a narrow passageway
of the library, holding an infantry gladius, a short-sword with a golden
hilt, sunlight from the open courtyard glinting off his blade. There is no way
forward or around him. White limestone walls on my left, stonework railing and
black marble pillars on my right, and a long drop over those rails into the
quadrangle. We are so screwed. I speak in the librarian’s Coptic dialect.
“You must be mistaken,
brave centurion.” I nod to my partner, Nikki Babineaux, an athletic
twenty-something woman present-side, but a small, twelve-year-old boy in this
passageway. In our robes and sandals, an old man and a boy, we define
defenseless. “I am a librarian and this boy is my slave.”
“Bullshit.”
American English with a New
Jersey accent. Who is this guy? I feign confusion, continuing in Coptic,
hoping to buy some time. “What is this word you use? Are you a
foreigner?”
“Enough, Inkahs. Gimme
the satchel!”
Nikki drops the pretense,
shifting to twenty-first century English, “You know killing us won’t do
you any good.”
“The satchel, ya little
prick!”
Before I can stall, the New
Jersey centurion surges forward, scale armor clattering against leather, his
short sword poised to strike. Nikki dives to the right while I hurl myself
toward the son of a bitch. His powerful forearm catches me in the chest like a
cinder block, slamming me back against the wall. My vision blurs, but I see the
boy jump to his feet, the satchel hanging from his shoulder. He tries an
evasive head fake, but the centurion proves too quick in this narrow space, his
blade piercing Nikki’s side. The crack of breaking ribs echo down the
passageway. Nikki sprawls to the floor with a shriek, and lies there moaning,
crimson blood spreading from the wound. No, this was not going well at all.
“Goodbye, Inkahs.”
With a clean sweep of his blade, the centurion cuts the satchel loose. He rips
the bag from Nikki, turns, and runs.
Who is this guy working for?
Whoever he is, I hope the
bastard runs face first into a flaming arrow for his die back. I’m still
winded and dazed, but I crawl over to Nikki. The boy opens his eyes, color
draining from his face, the savage wound foaming with blood.
“Thomas—” He coughs
a red mist. “We failed.”
“We’ll get another
chance.” I tear a piece of my robe away, placing the cloth under the boy’s
head. “We didn’t expect a fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Roman
centurion gear. I thought Aurelian’s men were still out in the harbor burning
the docks.”
Merde.” The
boy closes his eyes, grimacing. He swallows, opening his eyes again.
“Wrong time, too.”
An early die back is always a
potential problem for Inkers, especially if the premature death alters the
temporal flow. “You’re supposed to get run over by a cart later today, but
this will do.”
Nikki manages a smile, a
rivulet of blood dripping from the boy’s mouth. “Bummed ’cause you won’t
get to throw me,” he grimaces, taking in several quick breaths, “…under
the wheels, mon ami?”
We always die, but I never get
used to the final moments. “You’re still pissed about me garroting you
with a string from one of Puccini’s violins? Thought you’d be honored. It was Puccini’s
string. Of course, you’re the one who shoved me in the path of the Starlight
Express.”
Nikki, in the boy’s body,
labors with each shallow breath. Reaching with a weak hand, the boy touches my
arm. “Mind yourself, Thomas Shaw.”
“I’ll do my best.” I
lean in, the boy, just a few years younger than my own son, dying in front of
me. I thought I would pass my legacy on to my son, but now I know differently.
I can’t let him walk into this hell. “Nikki, there’s something you need to
know, just in case.”
“What are you talking
about?”
“Just a hunch, but be on
your guard present-side.”
Nikki fought for another
breath. “Compromised?”
I hold his gaze. “Someone
I trust told me I’m dead.”
“Murdered?”
“Does it matter?”
Dying back into a dead body equals dead. Permanently dead.
“Who…kills you, Thomas?”
“My friend didn’t know.
But keep an eye on Cameron.”
Nikki winces, blood oozing
between lips thin with pain. “I know…you have history, but Cameron?”
Yeah, we definitely have some
history. “I’ll never forgive him, but the League sanctioned his actions,
so that’s the end of it. Besides, I don’t even know if he’s the threat. It
could be anyone. But Cameron has…well, he’s killed before. Just watch your six.
Five bucks says we’ll be drinking a beer together, laughing about all this, in
a few minutes. And if not…”
Nikki tugs at my sleeve.
“No, mon ami.”
We lock eyes. “If not, I
made some arrangements. Renascentia is safe, but…my son. I’ve changed my
mind. Find someone else. He’s been through enough already.”
“He’s stronger…than you
think.”
“No. We assumed we were
just dealing with a rogue, but our enemy is proving far more malicious than we
thought possible. Addison would be risking everything. His very existence. You
have to promise you’ll keep him away from all of this, Nikki. Promise me.”
Nikki glances at the wound,
sucking in air through clenched teeth, then exhales. “I don’t know,
Thomas… Ahhh.” The boy moans, squeezing my hand with his remaining strength.
“Doesn’t know League. When he does…” His chest rattles with each
breath.
“Addison’s strong, but
he’s in pain. If I’m gone he’ll need you, Nikki. I’m counting on you. Keep him
out. Got it?”
“Copacetíc…,”
he chokes up more blood, “mon…ami.”
“There’s a letter. You’ve got
to get it from my lawyer.” A hiss of breath leaves the boy’s blue tinged lips.
“Nikki?”
His grip slackens and I’m
looking into vacant eyes. I stop talking.
Nikki has died back. I should
have held her after we’d made love on her favorite red chaise lounge last
night, her scent still a precious memory. I should have stayed the night with
you, Nikki.
“Forgive me, my
darling.”
Footfalls echo around me. I
rise turning just in time to see another Roman soldier close enough to smell
his sour sweat mixed with blood. Without a word, he drives his blade through my
heart. A savage pain explodes in my chest, dissolving to nothingness as my mind
leaves the old man’s body.
***
Thomas stirred, now removed
from the “I” of the old librarian, after-images of Alexandria flashing in his
mind: Nikki’s dying breath, the grand sweep of sunlight outside the Great
Library, the intense burning pain of a sword tip thrust through his host’s
chest. He took in a gulp of air, his eyes fluttering open. A moment of
disorientation before the tumblers fell into place.
Present-side.
He scanned the desk of his
study, pen still in hand, his eyes registering a figure across from him. Blue
jeans, tee-shirt, Asian, leaning on the desk, his veined arms rippled with lean
muscle. The figure spoke.
“Don’t you want to ask me who
I am, Thomas?”
Their eyes locked on each
other’s. Thomas suspected the mind behind those eyes belonged to another—an
Inker from the past.
“Not really.”
The man laughed, stepping back
from the desk as if he had dropped by for a casual visit.
“I’ll give you one thing,
Thomas. You do have…what is the word…a man in Juarez begged me not to cut them
off. What was it? Cojones! Yes, you have cojones.” He scowled.
“Your feigned courage in the face of certain destruction. Very moving.” His
eyes flashed to the pen in Thomas’ right hand. “Good, I see you’ve got your pen
for me. Excellent.”
Thomas kept his eyes on the
intruder, all the while inching his left hand toward the gun in his desk
drawer. The man’s eyes flitted to Thomas’ gun hand as he swung the weapon up.
With a speed Thomas didn’t anticipate, the man leaped on the desk, and with a
violent swipe of his foot, sent the gun smashing into the wall, the knee of his
other leg crashing into Thomas’ face, slamming him, chair and all, to the
floor.
Thomas lay still for a moment,
dazed. Then he rose with slow, deliberate movements, pain hammering his head.
“So, who do you think I am,
Thomas?” His attacker had stepped off the desk and now danced like a boxer
waiting for an opportune moment to plant a combination punch.
Nose broken, blood pouring
down his face, Thomas maneuvered to keep the desk between them. “One of
Cameron’s hired guns, I imagine. Been expecting you.”
The man stopped dancing,
putting his hands on his hips, cocking his head. “Expecting me? Oh, you’re
talking about the two dead sentinels in your back garden.”
Thomas had posted two Inkers
at the house to prevent this very thing. Crap. “What did you do?”
He glared at Thomas. “Terrible
how some people lose their heads at the first sign of trouble.”
“You didn’t?”
He smiled with a chuckle. “I’m
afraid I did.”
“My…God. Cameron wouldn’t…Who
are you?”
“My name is Kairos. I’m the
one who is going to kill you and destroy your League.”
Kairos had been a threat in
the past, but the League had stopped him. No, it can’t be. Too much has been
sacrificed.
Rage and grief exploded from Thomas. Crying out, he hurled
himself at the man, but a fist slammed into his chest with an unexpected
ferocity, the sternum fracturing with a loud, crack! Reeling back, his
knee exploded in agony as he went airborne, slamming to the floor on his back
with a forceful thud. He tried to move, but the grinding of his
fractured sternum and the throbbing jolts of pain from his knee slowed him
down. Kairos grabbed Thomas’ feet. He heard the sound of his own agonized cry of
pain as something outside of his body. He took in a breath, willing himself to
focus. Kairos dragged him down the hallway. Thomas’ head banging across the
floor, he reached for door jambs, furniture, anything to slow Kairos’ progress.
But each time he resisted, Kairos twisted the broken knee, causing Thomas to
break his hold, screaming in torment.
At the open basement door,
Kairos dropped Thomas’ legs. The world constricted to a small dark space filled
with anguish. In the distance he heard his attacker.
“Stay with me, Thomas. I don’t
want you to miss the finale!”
Kairos levered him up against
the wall, each movement a hundred knife wounds slashing his broken body. He
opened his eyes to his attacker’s dark, angry gaze. In a labored voice, Thomas
spoke.
“You. Won’t. Succeed.”
“Oh, but I will, Thomas. After
I kill you, I will kill every League Inker until I have possession of the five
pens.”
Every League Inker? No! Through the pain, a panic
crossed Thomas’ face.
“Not…Addison. Not…Inker.”
“The son of the great Thomas
Shaw?”
He grabbed Thomas by the
shirt, dragging him to the open door.
“Don’t worry another moment.
Once I have your pen which you have so kindly left for me—” He shoved Thomas
down the staircase. Slamming into a wall, Thomas’ ribs cracking against a
handrail only for his battered body to flip, shattering his jaw against a stair
tread, Kairos’ words taunting him as he fell.
“Consider.”
He slid across several steps
upside down, and rolled, the broken knee punching a hole with explosive force
in the wall.
“Addison.”
Thomas tumbled, limbs askew,
the concrete floor rushing toward him…
“Dead.”
***
Kairos went down the steps to
the body crumpled at the lower landing, his victim’s head and limbs twisted
awkwardly. After checking for a pulse to be certain the deed had been done,
Kairos returned to the study for Thomas’ pen. The League had five pens which,
individually, enabled an Inker to transfer his consciousness to someone living
in the past. But together… Ah, together the pens will create new continua. Imagine,
the power to forge a new world at my fingertips!
He expected to gather
Thomas’ pen from his desk, but instead, he found a green puddle of melted
acrylic, alloy, and ink.
The son of a bitch built a
self-destructing pen?
Enraged, he tore through the study,
pulling out drawers, ripping books off shelves, checking floorboards, but
turned up nothing. Even in death Thomas had managed to be a thorn in his side.
He considered scouring the entire house, but if Thomas had the forethought to
create a self-destructing pen, he certainly wouldn’t leave the real pen
somewhere vulnerable. Besides, he had a better idea.
His current host, Kwan, a
martial arts instructor from San Francisco, had come in handy, killing Thomas
and the other two Inkers. But now he needed a host with a bit more finesse. He
got in Kwan’s car, driving the short distance to Seattle’s Sunset Park
overlooking Puget Sound. With Thomas dead, surely his son would take up his
duty as an Inker, which means, the young man would certainly have the pen. He
pulled a Glock 17 from the glovebox, and dropped the sun visor to gaze into the
vanity mirror, Kairos’ consciousness giving fire to Kwan’s eyes. He smiled at
the thought of ripping the life out of Thomas’ boy, Addison, once he had
acquired his pen.
Time to get to work.
Placing the gun’s muzzle over
Kwan’s heart, he fired. For a brief moment Kwan’s consciousness rose to the
surface, filled with the panic of a man who had no idea of where he was, how he
got there, or why a gaping hole gushed crimson blood all over him and the dash
of his car. His last awareness, a consciousness not his own whispering by, as
his own life sputtered to darkness.

Richard Hacker is a longtime resident of Austin, Texas who now writes and lives in Seattle.His writing has been recognized by the Writer’s League of Texas and
the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In addition to his writing,
he provides editing services to other writers and is the editor of an
online science fiction and fantasy journal, Del Sol Review. His three
published humorous crime novels ride the sometimes thin line between
fact and fiction in Texas. DIE BACK, his first fantasy thriller novel, has been published by Del Sol Press.When not writing he’s singing in a vocal jazz ensemble, cooking with a
sous vide and a blow torch, or exploring the Pacific Northwest with his
wife and his springer spaniel, Jazz.Website Link: http://www.richardhacker.comTwitter Link: @Richard_HackerFacebook Link: http://www.facebook.com/RWHacker

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5 thoughts on “Die Back By Richard Hacker #Book Tour

Add yours

  1. We would indeed be great friends in person as we are online. I’m sorry about your son. My son is homeless and lives in a tent. He doesn’t want to work. It’s his choice and I honor that choice. I didn’t teach him that, but it’s his path. Kids are what they are and it’s the way of things. Love you too, honey. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow it sounds like you two are going to be having some fun. I am so happy to hear that honey, you both deserve to get out and be happy. Aw..you know something honestly Sandee, I have chosen to put up with him, he takes very good care of me, and I know he loves me, but there are just some things he is really funny about. He’s a freaking weirdo totally 😂 That is why I am online doing what I do because I live vicariously through reading and my online friends, but you know I believe that if I meant half of the people I am really close to online (like you), we would all hit it off wonderfully, and be BFF. My problem, and unfortunately my son takes after me, is we are so big hearted and we let people in very easy, and we get hurt quick sometimes. But I just wish my son did not pick this up from me, because when he gets hurt I see him so broke and down and he cries so hard to me, and Sandee I can’t hardly stand it, it rips my heart right out of my chest when he gets hurt like that. 😥 I do my best to help him through whatever has happened at that time, and try to keep him busy. He has his older sister, my daughter gets so mad she wants to beat the living hell out of whoevers hurt him, but that is all she has done his whole life, that’s her baby brother, but my son gets upset with her when she goes off like that. But like I told him, she has done this all of his life, it’s not going to be easy for her to just let it go. I just worry about what he will do if anything happens to me, he confides in his sister a lot, and she said he freaks if I tell him I am not feeling well, or anything like that, but he never lets me know that, because he knows I won’t tell him when I am not well. I guess he is mama’s baby, but he is a man and they don’t show that side to anyone outside of their world. Well enough babbling I have to go back to work. I got up very late today, so I am way behind. I love you honey ((HUGS)) ❤ 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Boating is on our agenda this year. We’ll be going on a yacht club event on the 12th and the next month the weather will be getting warmer and we’ll be boating often.

    I’m sorry your hubby doesn’t want to push your wheelchair. That would hurt my feelings too. Love you bunches, Jody. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So Zane likes this genre of books? What do you two lovie birds have planned for the brand new year? I don’t really have anything planned big, but in a couple of weeks my son & I are going to an Amish community to tour their gift shops, and have their breakfast buffet. I wanted to go to this particular one forever, we use to live like 5 minutes from it, but the other half never takes me anywhere, because he would have to push my wheelchair, and he gets embarrassed by doing that. It really hurts my feelings because I can not help it that I can not walk long distances. 😥 But oh well, I enjoy my sons company much more anyway 😂 I hope you have a wonderful week honey. Love you too, and sending hugs your way ❤ 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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