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The soldiers of halla, p.1
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       The Soldiers of Halla, p.1

           D. J. MacHale
 
The Soldiers of Halla


  PENDRAGON

  JOURNAL OF AN ADVENTURE THROUGH

  TIME AND SPACE

  Book Ten:

  The Soldiers of Halla

  * * *

  PENDRAGON

  JOURNAL OF AN ADVENTURE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE

  Book One: The Merchant of Death

  Book Two: The Lost City of Faar

  Book Three: The Never War

  Book Four: The Reality Bug

  Book Five: Black Water

  Book Six: The Rivers of Zadaa

  Book Seven: The Quillan Games

  Book Eight: The Pilgrims of Rayne

  Book Nine: Raven Rise

  Book Ten: The Soldiers of Halla

  * * *

  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  ALADDIN

  An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  Copyright © 2009 by D. J. MacHale

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  ALADDIN and related logo are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  MacHale, D. J.

  The soldiers of Halla / D. J. MacHale.—1st ed.

  p. cm.—(Pendragon; bk. 10)

  “Journal of an adventure through time and space.”

  Summary: Each of the Travelers returns home to learn the truth about their origins before being reunited for a final, ineveitable confrontation with Saint Dane, whose efforts to control Halla are destroying its very foundations.

  ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-6424-2

  ISBN-10: 1-4391-6424-X

  [1. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 2. Space and time—Fiction. 3. Fate and fatalism—Fiction. 4. Diaries—Fiction.

  5. Fantasy.] I. Title.

  PZ7.M177535Sol 2009

  [Fic]—dc22

  2008053573

  Visit us on the Web:

  http://www.SimonandSchuster.com

  For Rob, Julie, Peter, Michael, Richard, Lisa, Ellen, Rick,

  and everyone else who first said “yes”

  Contents

  PREFACE

  JOURNAL #37 THE END

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  JOURNAL #37

  (CONTINUED)

  JOURNAL #37

  (CONTINUED)

  EARTH

  PREFACE

  This is it.

  It’s been about eight years since I first came up with the idea of Halla and the story of a guy who was destined to protect all that is, was, and ever will be. I know that to many of you that seems like a lifetime ago. To me it feels like last week. It wasn’t. Eight years is a long time in anybody’s life. In those years I experienced the birth of my daughter and the death of my father. Evangeline and I were married. I saw nieces and nephews grow into adults, produced a TV series, and saw the world change in dramatic ways. Some of those changes were great; others weren’t. But no matter what happened over that time, whether it was good, bad, or in between, I always had one constant…Bobby Pendragon. As real-world events swirled, I always knew that I could close my eyes, step into the flume, and have a blast while imagining new challenges for Bobby and the Travelers.

  Not anymore.

  It’s a fact of life. You always know when you’re doing something for the first time, but you rarely know when you’re doing something for the last time. (Unless you’re jumping off a bridge, I guess.) That’s a good thing. Life is full of possibilities, and it’s exciting to know that all avenues are open; it’s a bit sad when you realize that a door is about to close. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s tough. I know. It was difficult typing the two words that only a few short years ago seemed light-years away. “The End.” But type them I did. Bobby Pendragon’s story has come to an end.

  As with Bobby, before looking forward I’d like to take a short look back to once again thank some of the many people who help bring the Pendragon saga to life.

  Liesa Abrams is the third and final editor of the Pendragon books. She came on board at the exact right time. Not only has she worked incredibly hard on the Pendragon novels, she has also been editing the Before the War prequel books and the Pendragon graphic novels, and she has been overseeing all things Pendragon at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. Thank you, Liesa, for taking care of Bobby and helping me make his story the best it can be.

  All my friends at S&S deserve special thanks. Carolyn Reidy, Rick Richter, Rubin Pfeffer, Bethany Buck, Mara Anastas, Ellen Krieger, Justin Chanda, Lucille Rettino, Paul Crichton…the list goes on. And on. These are only a few of the people behind the publishing of Pendragon. Without their support and confidence in the series, you would not be holding this book. I owe a debt of gratitude to them all.

  Heidi Hellmich, Ace Copyeditor is the only person in the world besides me who has pored over and analyzed every single word of every single Pendragon novel. Thank you, Heidi, for sticking with it and getting Bobby to the finish line.

  I still remember the first conversation I had with Richard Curtis, the man who was to become my agent and good friend. I had written a proposal for a book series. I’d never written a book series before. It was new territory, so to speak. The proposal included an overview, sixty pages of the first book, and outlines for nine more. Richard read the proposal and, in his calm, measured way, said, “You should write the entire first book before we look for a publisher.” Good advice. The right advice. I didn’t take it. I had what I thought was a good story and wrote it down for fun. To be honest, I didn’t think anybody would want to publish it. So I told him, “Nah. If I write the whole book, I’ll be taking it way too seriously and be really disappointed if it doesn’t get published.” I thought he’d tell me to get lost and find another agent. Instead, in that same calm, reassuring voice, he said, “All right, let’s see what I can do.” Well, Richard, you did good. There’s nothing more to say but thank you.

  As always, Peter Nelson and Mark Wetzstein are due big thanks for keeping the business of Pendragon running smoothly. You guys are the best.

  Danny Baror has continued to spread Bobby’s story throughout the world. The list of languages the books have been translated int
o is always growing longer, thanks to Danny.

  As always, I have to thank my wife, Evangeline, for being the first sounding board for Bobby’s adventure. From the very beginning I’ve relied on her good taste and story sense to keep the story on track…and my head in the game. Thanks, Evander.

  My daughter, Keaton, is still a bit too young for Pendragon. I showed her a fairly innocent Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode recently, and it freaked her out for days. Oops. It will be a few years before she can start fluming. The gratitude I owe her is for being the nutty girl she is and making sure I continue to think like a kid. It’s a valuable skill…for both of us.

  I’ve had the good fortune to travel quite a bit and meet many booksellers who have recommended Pendragon to their readers. I’m grateful and honored. I’ve also met many teachers and librarians who have encouraged their students not only to read Pendragon, but to read in general. They know, as we all do, that reading makes you smarter. Simple as that. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

  Between appearances and e-mails I’ve spoken to thousands of readers’ parents. It’s a great feeling to know there are so many engaged parents who are encouraging their kids to read. To all you parents, especially the ones who bring their kids to see me and then have to sit through a talk about quigs and territories and Travelers, you are all heroes.

  A great big thanks goes to all you readers who have been faithfully visiting the website and posting on the forums. Some of you have been there since the beginning, while new acolytes are showing up every day. It’s been a blast having you be part of the Pendragon adventure. I hope you continue stopping by for a long time to come.

  The final piece in the puzzle is…you. I guess it’s kind of obvious to say, but without you guys there wouldn’t be a Pendragon adventure. For those of you who have been there from the start, as well as those who have recently discovered Halla, I thank you for joining me on this journey. It’s been the ride of a lifetime. Thank you.

  What lies beyond Pendragon? Lots. You’re not getting rid of me that easily. Since this preface is about this book, I won’t make a list. All I’ll say is that when we meet again, it won’t be in a flume, but on a mysterious highway known as the Morpheus Road.

  Have I covered everything?

  Oh yeah. Almost forgot. The book. Right. That.

  Over the years I’ve been asked the same questions thousands of times. They took many forms, but all boiled down to this: “What’s going to happen to Bobby and the Travelers?” I think the number one question was “Will we ever see Uncle Press again?” Of course I knew the truth from day one, but I had to keep answering the same way: “Sorry, no spoilers.” “You’ll see.” “Keep reading.” You know, duck, dodge, weave. After avoiding the question for so long, I really enjoyed writing the last chapter of Raven Rise, because I was finally able to stop dodging and give the real answer.

  At the end of Book Nine, Bobby hit bottom. He failed. Halla was lost. Saint Dane had won. Game over. Right?

  Well…no. For those of you who have been paying attention, you know that Saint Dane winning wasn’t necessarily the worst thing that could happen. I always knew that when things got as bad as they could possibly get, Bobby would feel a tap on his shoulder and hear the words “Havin’ a rough day?”

  Yeah. Uncle Press finally came back. Along with the nine other Travelers. How was that possible? Where had they gone? Where were they now? How could so many have died, only to return? Where was the previous generation of Travelers? Were Mark and Courtney dead? What’s going to happen to the territories? To Halla? To Bobby? Ahhhh!

  Well, kids, the wait is over. No more questions. No more cliff-hangers. No more “To be continued…” It’s all here. The conclusion of an adventure through time and space. It’s no longer about individual books and separate stories. With this book, the Pendragon saga takes full shape. It’s all one story now, and this is the finale.

  For me, the Pendragon saga is complete. For the rest of you, there’s one more chapter to go. One more trip through the flume. One more adventure.

  Bobby Pendragon is not finished yet.

  Neither are you.

  Not by a long shot.

  I ask your indulgence in allowing me to say for one last time:

  Hobey ho, let’s go!

  —D. J. MacHale

  PENDRAGON

  JOURNAL OF AN ADVENTURE THROUGH

  TIME AND SPACE

  Book Ten:

  The Soldiers of Halla

  JOURNAL #37

  THE END

  Yeah. The end. Or pretty close to it, anyway. The battle for Halla is over. For sure this time. No more surprises. No more twists. No more false hope. It’s done. I promise. I guess it’s not a big surprise to say that I’m still around. Not that my survival was a lock or anything, it’s just that if my existence had ended, I wouldn’t be writing this, would I?

  Still, a very big question remains. What’s next? What will become of me now that my job as a Traveler is complete? Things aren’t the same. The battle with Saint Dane has altered Halla, and I’m no longer sure what my place is. The future I’m looking at now scares me more than anything I’ve encountered over the past few years. That’s really saying something.

  So I guess I lied. It’s not really the end. The final chapter of the existence of Bobby Pendragon has yet to be written. I know that I will have to deal with that at some point, but not just yet. Before I can face the future, I must first deal with the past.

  I’m writing this journal in a small, sparse room that has become my temporary home. I have no idea how long I’ll be here. My guess is that I’ll be allowed to stay for as long as it takes to finish this journal. I’m not sure if I should pick up the pace and get it done, or string this out for as long as possible to avoid dealing with the next phase of life. As always, there’s a certain comfort that comes from writing these journals. I think that’s because when I write, I already know what happened. Writing is safe. There are no surprises. Though reliving these events is reassuring, it can also be painful. I’d just as soon forget about much of what has happened to me and my friends. But that’s not the point. Writing isn’t just about Bobby therapy. It’s about documenting what has happened on my adventure through time and space. This is what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. Why stop now? The last chapter needs to be written.

  Whoever you are, reader, if you’re up to speed and have seen my previous journals, you’ll know that I didn’t have many opportunities to sit and write. Things were happening too fast. It wasn’t until I found myself in this room that I could take a breath, collect my thoughts, and get it all down. I wrote several of my previous entries here as well. I deliberately concluded my Journal #36 where I did because it seemed like a natural place to finish one major chapter before beginning another. When I spin my memory back to that moment, it’s with mixed emotions.

  I was at the lowest point imaginable. Second Earth was lost. Scores of people had been sucked into a monstrous flume created by Alexander Naymeer. Mark and Courtney were gone. Patrick Mac was killed. Alder was killed. Saint Dane’s Convergence was complete.

  And I had become a murderer. I killed Alexander Naymeer. I acted out of anger. Out of weakness. It was exactly what Saint Dane wanted me to do. That one heinous act gave him his final victory. Halla was his. He no longer needed the flumes and they were destroyed. I was flung through space and found myself in a desolate wasteland. Beaten. Lost. Alone. I couldn’t have been in a lower place. I had failed. Miserably.

  So why exactly are those emotions “mixed” for me? Though I had reached bottom, I soon discovered that I wasn’t alone. Uncle Press kept his promise. He came back. So did all the other Travelers. My friends. I had seen many of them die, including Uncle Press, but somehow we were all brought together again. How was that possible? Were we all dead? It didn’t matter to me at that moment, because it seemed like a dream. But it wasn’t. We were truly together.

  It was then that Uncle Press gave us our final cha
llenge. He once told me that Saint Dane could not be beaten until he felt as if he had won. There was no question in my mind. Saint Dane had won. Going by Uncle Press’s reasoning, that was good news. How twisted is that? As we all stood in that mysterious, empty place, Uncle Press asked me a question that was simple, but carried a load of weight: “Will it end here?”

  I looked to the other Travelers. Gunny Van Dyke. Vo Spader. Elli Winter. Siry Remudi. Patrick Mac. Aja Killian. Kasha. Alder and Loor. Their looks back to me were unmistakable. They weren’t ready to give up. It was their conviction that gave me the strength to decide that, as grim as things had gotten, as many mistakes as I’d made, as badly as we’d been beaten, there was still some fight left in the Travelers.

  It gave me the confidence to say to Uncle Press, “We are so not done yet.”

  That’s where I ended my previous journal and where I will begin my next. Journal #37. The final journal of Bobby Pendragon’s adventure through time and space.

  Before I can look forward, I must look back.

  One last time.

  JOURNAL #37

  1

  The missile hit without warning.

  We didn’t know we were under attack until, well, we were under attack. It was fast. It was violent. I had no idea what it was all about, other than the fact that I had only been on this strange territory for a few minutes, and I already wanted to leave.

 
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