Eclipse — the Girl Who Saved the World
The Invisible Fortress
I woke up at half past dark. To put it mildly, I hurt. If there were any places where I didn’t hurt, I couldn’t find them. Most girls of my twelve years, hurting this much, would have laid there crying for their mommies. For me, of course, crying for help where anyone could hear me would be worse than useless. It would get me killed. Yes, I was doing mind control on myself. My pain nerves screamed their agony, but thanks to mind control I only heard them as distant murmurs. Mind control meant I could sleep. I still knew I hurt. A lot. ‘Hurt a lot’ was still infinitely better than the alternative, which involved being seriously dead.
I wondered confusedly what had happened. I was lying in bed, not in my normal sleeping position. The room was dark. For minutes I was too dazed to think clearly. I peered over my bedsheet and quilt …I was in my own bedroom. Beyond the glass wall separating me from my balcony, the silent stars glittered in a cloudless night sky. If I waited long enough, I’d see the stars sink one by one into the pitch-black hills of the coastal range. The shadows on the wall were my collection of Captain Infinity Atomic Soaker pistols, ultrasoakers, except the one pistol that very definitely did not project water.
Suddenly I remembered. Atlanticea. It was the most wonderful memory in the world…or would have been if I didn’t hurt so much. I’d threaded the Maze, the Maze that defeated Julius Caesar and Jackie Fisher and Spearthrower Owl and the French Imperial Guard. I’d reached the Tomb and matched wits with the Martyr himself. He’d given me that palm-size sphere of crystalline sky, the Namestone, the Key to the Earthly Paradise. No one else in history had ever come close to capturing it. I’d done it! The Namestone was the birthday present I’d given to myself, a couple months late for my twelfth birthday. It was almost as good a birthday present as my two ponies. Snapdragon and Daffodil are better. I gave them to me, too.
On the bright side, when I grabbed the Namestone my chances of living another six hours moved up from zero. Death…That’s the penalty for not solving the Maze. On the less bright side, when I grabbed the Namestone my reward was a big list of people who want to kill me.
Thanks to the Maze, I am seriously wrecked up. Credit for some wrecking up goes to the League of Nations, and to a Lord of Eternity. They’d both made a maximum effort to kill me, just to get their hands on the Namestone. They almost succeeded. Almost, not quite, but ‘almost’ only counts in horseshoes, and with hand grenades.