Skip to product information
1 of 1

Emma L Adams

Nexus: The Alliance Series Book 6 (Paperback)

Nexus: The Alliance Series Book 6 (Paperback)

Regular price $12.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $12.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Book 6 of 6: The Alliance Series

With Earth on the brink of war with Ada's homeworld, the Inter-World Alliance has reached crisis point. While Ada faces the truths her guardian, Nell, kept from her all her life, Kay faces the backlash from his father’s last, terrible act as a council member. Nobody can be trusted, and betrayal lurks at every corner.

As the inevitable cross-world war threatens everything they care about, Ada and Kay must make devastating choices. If the Alliance falls, so does the Multiverse. And this time, there’s no going back…

Also available to buy at retailers here.

FAQ: How will my print book be delivered?

Print books are deliverered through a service called Book Vault and are shipped directly to you.

Print time is usually 72 working hours. After books are printed, they are shipped. Please check to make sure the address you provide is accurate and complete before you make your purchase.

Read a sample

“Are you sure it’s safe?” Nell tapped the edge of the doorway port with her finger, examining it from the side. The box-like contraption looked like something out of Doctor Who, plated in blue on both the inside and out. At the back were a set of metal doors, which at the moment, if you opened them, would have nothing but the wall of the boardroom on the other side.

“Of course,” said Dr Helm, from behind a heavily-protected mask. Only his eyes were visible through a fortified glass shield as he manipulated dials on the machine, settling on a familiar symbol shaped like a cloud. The symbol meant Valeria. To be precise, Neo Greyle’s Alliance branch, where my brother was going to join the team of scientists working on new warfare technologies.

“I’ve been through there before,” I reminded Nell.

Alber, my younger brother, hovered behind us. Normally, he’d have begged to go through the port and see the Multiverse. But that was before the war. Now the doorway port was a permanent fixture here at the Alliance’s Central headquarters on Earth. It worked as a shortcut between Alliance branches, but it would also let people come through to help us if we were attacked. And if the worst happened, and Central fell, it’d work as a last-resort evacuation point if we needed to evacuate all the Alliance personnel onto another world. Now the Alliance’s biggest enemy was working with the most powerful magical empire in the Multiverse, the Passages between the worlds were easily as dangerous as the swampland.

Just thinking about it made my fists clench in helpless anger. My homeworld had declared war on the world I’d lived most of my life. The world that, for all its flaws, I’d come to love.

“Don’t worry,” said Jeth, my older brother. “I’ll be fine. The lab’s buried under a ton of adamantine.”

So was Central. That was the only reason the building was still standing. Adamantine absorbed magic, even the full-on assault that had shook London only a few weeks ago. The fact that it was also my name pretty much summed up how messed-up my relationship with my homeworld was.

Nell awkwardly hugged Jeth.  “Just be careful over there.” Though she was our mother in every way except blood, she’d always kept a shield up, even around us. An aftereffect of being the Enzarian Empire’s slave. Like I would have been, if I’d stayed on my homeworld. My family and I had helped countless people who’d lost everything, whose lives were shattered, and we’d always defined hope for them. Hope for a new life here on Earth. Now, that hope had gone, like a candle blown out in the wind.

“Honestly, I’m working in technology, not the intelligence division.” Jeth returned Nell’s hug, then moved to face Alber. “I’ll bring you a souvenir.”

“Hover boots!” said Alber, slapping him on the back. “Please.”

Jeth grinned. “I’ll do my best.” He hugged me last, as the doorway port opened into a blue-metal-plated corridor. At the far end, I glimpsed wide glass windows opening over the dizzying metropolis of Neo Greyle.

I stepped back and smiled, though it was hard. “You be careful over there, Jeth.”

The way things were at the moment, every goodbye felt like the last.

“Hey, sis, it’ll be all right.” Jeth smiled. “I have to do this. It’s what I’m good at.”

I nodded. Of course I understood. My brother’s ingenious ideas had changed the tech team already—and they would probably change the entire future of the Alliance.

If we survive the war.

“Call me as soon as you’re at your new place,” said Nell.

“Yeah, yeah.” Jeth shook his head. He knew better than to make the usual arguments—he was twenty-three and this wasn’t the first time one of us had gone for an extended stay in another world. Sure, there’d been a suspicious lack of hostilities since the battle on Central’s doorstep, but it didn’t mean the war was over. It just hadn’t properly started yet. “I’ll be back soon.”

“If not, I’ll have to claim your computers.” Alber attempted a smile. 

“You better not,” said Jeth. “See you soon.”

Dr Helm followed him over the threshold, into Valeria. The doorway port closed, and we were left on Earth, in the Alliance’s boardroom. Ms Weston, my supervisor, had hastily set the doorway port up in here to call people in to help us defend Central during the last attack, and rather than removing it, this room had become the Alliance’s official cross-world meeting point.

Behind us, Alexis Greene, one of Valeria’s council members, cleared her throat. It meant, step away from the door. Though Valeria was more open-minded than most worlds, having an offworlder population of more than a quarter in their largest city of Neo Greyle, they didn’t trust Enzarians like me. I couldn’t protest, given the circumstances. But it made my chest ache all the same at the look she gave Alber. My seventeen-year-old foster brother was born mageblood, but like me, had been rescued from Enzar as a baby. While we wore contact lenses to cover our real eye colour—purple for Alber and Nell, diamond-white for me—and that was the only conspicuous sign of our homeworld, everyone in the Alliance knew my name.

Adamantine. Magic-wielder, Alliance guard turned Ambassador. Almost-destroyer of worlds. The girl who’d channelled a living magic source in an attempt to close a doorway. Not realising a bomb waited on the other side. Thanks to Lawrence Walker, everyone on Thairon was dead. And the magebloods were pissed at losing their army.

Rationally I knew I couldn’t have stopped Walker from activating the bomb, but the guilt remained like a poison in my blood. A stain I could never wash away.

There was one person who understood, and I’d hardly seen him all week.

My family and I climbed the four flights of stairs down to the entrance hall. We could have taken the lifts, but Nell distrusted enclosed spaces. I knew the feeling. Sometimes I felt so trapped here, I wanted to scream. Sure, I couldn’t go walking into Enzar and yell at my distant relatives to quit fighting one another, but the lack of a direct challenge was slowly driving me out of my mind.

Except for the messages. We are coming, Adamantine. You are ours.

They had to come from Enzar. The enemy knew I was alive. Even Nell, who’d lived on Enzar before it had fallen, couldn’t explain how that was possible. The power used to be in the hands of the Royals, the nonmages. But when the magebloods had rebelled, war had broken out and the palace where I’d spent the first year of my life had been destroyed. I’d been on Earth by that point, under Nell’s care, and even she didn’t know how the magebloods knew my name.

“Ada.” Ms Weston waylaid me on the stairs from the first-floor corridor, beckoning me into her office. The admin division was one of the few parts of Central that hadn’t changed beyond recognition. Her desk was spotless, everything tucked away into cabinets and drawers. No, it was Ms Weston herself who had changed—she wore a guard uniform instead of one of her usual sharp suits. Like she expected to go to war along with the rest of us. She even carried weapons—Alliance-standard guns and stunners.

“I need to talk to you, Ada. About Enzar.”

My heart dropped, and I closed the office door behind me. “Sure. What is it?”

“I looked further into the Alliance’s files,” said Ms Weston. “Of course, with Walker being present here, I was forced to hide anything he might use to infer the truth about your abilities and what happened to you on your homeworld. It was a foolish decision, but based on the little I knew about Walker, I had no choice. For your sake, and for Kay’s.”

My throat was full of barbed wire. I just nodded, because there wasn’t much else to do. My heart broke for Kay. His father had committed genocide. Everyone at the Alliance, and even offworlders, knew. Kay was no longer viewed as a hero, but the son of a murderer imprisoned here at Central.

Ms Weston kept speaking. “I found a file about Enzar I wasn’t aware of before. It was shelved under Cethrax, which as I’m sure you can imagine, occupies a significant area of the archives.”

I nodded again. Cethrax had been the bane of the Alliance as long as it had existed, and the whole reason the Alliance hired so many guards in the first place. But I’d never dreamed they’d team up with Enzar. Never in a million years.

“I found some… interesting information. I think it’s best if you read it yourself, Ada.”

She passed me a file over the desk. It was dated 1986, in sprawling black handwriting.

“It’s a record of the last time Earth sent an Ambassadorial mission into Cethrax itself—apart from the most recent one, of course.”

I struggled to decipher the handwriting as I flipped open the file. It was written in the dry, technical language preferred for Alliance reports, and I skimmed over several paragraphs dedicated to Alliance Ambassador regulations on entering hostile offworld territory before I got to the main account. Sounded like the Alliance had tried to bring the Vox in for questioning on the use of illegal doorways before realising the doorways were a natural occurrence. I already knew they were because I’d been dragged through a few of them in my time with the StoneKing. He’d been looking for Enzar.

I turned the page. A team had gone in and closed the doorways down, surprisingly without any fatalities or injuries. Cethrax must have been in a good mood that day. The text’s dry tone carried a hint of the writer’s surprise at the lack of retaliation and speculated on whether Cethrax had actually wanted the doorways closed.

I kept reading. One of the doorways appeared to lead to a dead end, but when we activated our tracker to determine the magic level, the device was destroyed and we were forced to take swift action to close the doorway. Having brought the remains of the tracker back to Earth, we proceeded to make an agreement with a group of experimental scientists on Klathica to form a group known as KimaroTech…”

My eyes bugged out, and I had to read the sentence again. KimaroTech were the group who’d created the Stoneskins… and were also the biggest company on Klathica, responsible for most of their technology. But originally, they’d been a research group. And they’d been set up to research magic-based substances.

I knew how well that had turned out. It was weird beyond belief to read a vaguely optimistic-sounding account of the good this KimaroTech would do for the Alliance. Knowledge was power, said the writer. Reading between the lines, the person writing the account had power. They were looking for what they might gain from controlling auros—the substance the Passages and the doorway ports were made of, which could usually only link two worlds of the same magic level. That’s why the random doorways appearing on Cethrax seemed to fascinate the writer. On their trip to Cethrax, they’d used world-keys to seek out every doorway possible, and logged all the worlds behind the doorways in a particular territory in a list.

Enzar was listed as one of several worlds postulated to be the world that had destroyed the tracker. At the time, Enzar had been in relative stability—which for Enzar, meant it was between wars. But the part that caught my attention came after. Earth’s Alliance branch had apparently sponsored their investigation. Which meant…

I skipped to the end. The file was signed, Robert Walker.

Kay’s grandfather had been involved in that mission? The only thing I knew about the guy was he’d been the one to announce the Alliance’s existence to the people of Earth. He’d died four years before I was born, which was five years after the report had been written. I knew he’d started KimaroTech, but not that Cethrax had been the reason. So he’d been fascinated with doorways. The link with Enzar left me with little doubt that his experiment had had consequences.

I looked back at Ms Weston. “Have you told Kay?”

“No. If you feel he needs to know, it’s up to your discretion, Ada.”

“Okay,” I said. “Only this feels… important. Really important. I didn’t realise there was any record of the KimaroTech company on Earth. Kay said he didn’t know anything about the link with Enzar…”

“It took some searching,” said Ms Weston. “Unfortunately, the archives aren’t equipped with a search bar, as my assistant put it.”

Markos. It sounded like the centaur. “Where is he, anyway?”

“Searching more of the files from Cethrax, and Klathica, too.”

“Uh, why not actually go to Klathica?”

“We do have people there, but they will not leave their secrets publicly displayed. We are, however, planning to send another covert operation there shortly.”

“Can I go?” I realised too late that my plea sounded childish, but being stuck here at Central while my homeworld sent threatening messages was driving me out of my mind. “Klathica had links with Enzar, and… I know Izen, the council member, he told us Enzar’s technology originally came from there, like Thairon. The magebloods are using KimaroTech’s technology, and I know Klathica’s Alliance said they’d had no contact with Enzar, but… I think they’re hiding something.” At least, Kay thought so. Izen had admitted that Klathica had sold weaponry to Enzar, to the magebloods, before the war.

“And you’re ready for that?” Ms Weston’s expression was surprisingly gentle. “Ada, I wouldn’t push you—or Kay.”

I heard the unspoken words. We’re not like Enzar.

“I’m sure. I want to go.”

Ms Weston must have seen something in my face, because she nodded. “All right. I’ll pass on your interest to the council. But Ada, I can’t promise they’ll say yes.” She paused. “Also, while we cannot authorise any Ambassadors to enter Enzar itself, we did question anyone from the transition points on whether they knew if the enemy had information on our communications networks.” She paused, with guilt in her expression, as another glass shard lodged itself in my throat. The transition point was the place Nell had taken me when she’d saved my life as a baby. 

“Nobody has been back to any of the transition points since they were evacuated, so none of the people we questioned knew if the magebloods who attacked the Alliance might know they existed,” Ms Weston continued, “but we’re keeping an eye on certain areas of offworld territory on Valeria, and the other worlds involved in the operation.”

“You think there might be spies from Enzar.” My heart lurched.

“I personally do not,” said Ms Weston. “But there are others who disagree.”

I shook my head. No. The people who ran the operation had saved my life. Besides, nobody lucky enough to get away would ever want to bring the war here.

Wait a minute. The doorway port had reminded me of something. The transition points must work in the same way, as places between the worlds. Which meant… they must be made of auros.

Was that how the magebloods managed to send a message to me? Had they sneaked into a transition point after they’d been evacuated, weeks ago? I didn’t even know which world they were based on, or if they were in between, like the Passages, but Ms Weston clearly suspected they had. It was a logical conclusion.

“The second floor of the Passages has been cut off,” said Ms Weston. “The barriers are there long-term—perhaps permanently. The council came to the decision immediately following the attack. I didn’t know if anyone had told you.”

“I… no.” The second-floor corridor was the place I’d spent half my life. Nobody had told me it’d been closed, possibly forever.

“Ada,” said Ms Weston. “You must understand we didn’t make the decision lightly. None of this is your fault.”

“Tell that to the guards,” I mumbled. Half the witnesses who’d seen the freakish magical lightning storm over London had thought I was responsible. Nobody outside the Alliance knew Enzar existed, aside from other offworlders. But even though Nell had never given out our address, two days after Thairon and Cethrax had attacked Earth on Enzar’s orders, someone had thrown a brick through our window. That was the last straw for Nell. We’d packed up and moved to Central’s underground shelters.

“Anyway,” I said to Ms Weston. “None of that matters now. Can you let me know if you find anything else in the files about Enzar?”

“I think you’ve earned the right to know, but this file is all I’ve found so far. There isn’t anything else you’d like to tell me, is there? For instance, from your time with the Stoneskins?”

Uh. No. Well, there was one thing, a rumour I’d only told Nell. But it was just a lie the StoneKing had wanted to tell the magebloods: that I was the nexus of all magic on Enzar. It couldn’t be possible. No human could contain the magic of an entire world, let alone one I hadn’t been to since I was a baby. Until the other week, that is.

“Not that I remember. I wish I’d tried to find out more.”

“You did admirably, under the circumstances,” said Ms Weston. “But the Stoneskins, and Thairon—” She cut herself off. “I don’t like the implication that this happened not only under the Alliance’s eyes, but within our own organisation.”

Neither did I. Nobody had an answer. We were the last obstacle standing between Enzar and Earth.

“Nor me. But I want to fight on the Alliance’s side. If I can.”

“It’s your choice.” A new steeliness entered her expression. “I intend to join the war effort myself as soon as the time comes.”

I blinked at her. “You do?”

“I always thought my skills would best be served in watching over others. After Stephen died, I was all Amanda had left. But she can make her own decision, and the same goes for my employees. If not for the council’s change of leadership, I would already be out in the field.”

She’d stayed here on Earth for my sake. And Kay’s. Because the council didn’t trust us. But now… well. It didn’t take a genius to know why the offworld council wanted to keep a close watch on me. If they lost me to the enemy, the Alliance would fall.

“Anyway… you should go back to your family.”

“Yeah.” I turned the file over. A line of symbols were on the back. “What are these?”

“I don’t know,” said Ms Weston. “I’ll pass the file onto Iriel. She’s been scanning some of our other files using that… eye of hers.”

I’d forgotten my fellow Ambassador’s enhanced eye. “She can read other languages, right?”

“She’s been working around the clock, assembling a list of all the mentions of Enzar, and of magic sources, in our files.”

“Has she found anything yet?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer.

“Ask her.”

I found Iriel in Office Fifteen with Markos, behind a wall of paperwork stacked precariously on the desks.

“Don’t open any doors or windows!” the centaur warned. “I just stacked those,” he added reproachfully, as I reached for a sheet of paper and brought a whole stack crashing down.

“Oops.” I dropped under the table to collect them. “What’s this, a record of every Alliance mission ever? Or just Earth’s?”

“Every one,” said Iriel. “Before fifteen years or so ago, anyway. After, we mostly have online records from places like Klathica and Valeria which no longer use hard copy.”

“Seems like Earth should get on that.” I stacked the papers back where they’d come from. “So—which are Enzar’s?”

“Those.” Markos pointed with his tail. I lifted down the stack, and groaned at the scrawling handwriting.

“The files only go back a few hundred years,” said Iriel. “They’re Earth-centric, and Earth wasn’t actively involved in the Alliance for as long as some other worlds were. I think these files were originally kept somewhere else, before they built this flashy headquarters as the main base.”

“I was hoping for some Enzarian history,” I said. The Royals had rewritten history for their own purposes, and for all I knew, the magebloods had done the same, but maybe on a more neutral world like Earth, there might be answers.

“What exactly were you looking for?” asked Markos. “This doesn’t seem the time for a history lesson.”

“Connections,” I said. “All I know is the Royals weren’t native to Enzar. They moved in a thousand years ago.” I thought back to Nell’s stories. She hadn’t minded talking about the distant past. But none of that would tell us who was really winning—or how they knew my name.

“You say you’ve taken everything out on ancient languages?” Markos asked Iriel. “That sounds like your area.”

Iriel nodded. “The message Ada was sent wasn’t in Enzarian script,” she said. “It’s not an Alliance world language, so the Alliance’s translators wouldn’t have been able to read it.”

I couldn’t read Enzarian script. I’d learned to write at a later age than most kids in my year, because Nell had been learning English from scratch. It hadn’t done me any harm, anyway, but I wished I’d pushed harder to find out about the world I’d never know. I did… and I didn’t, because of what Nell had been through on Enzar.

“If not Enzarian, what language was the message in?” I asked Iriel.

“That’s what makes no sense,” said Iriel. “Klathican. Classical.”

“Seriously?” Klathican was the official language on a couple of other worlds, including Thairon, but I’d never expected Enzar to use it. Maybe they’d figured it was the language I’d be most likely to understand, because it was the easiest offworld language to learn. Nell had taught me how to speak and read Classical.

“How long would it take you to read all of that?” I asked, indicating the papers stacked all over the desk.

“About an hour.” Iriel’s eye rotated in its socket.

“Seriously? Damn.” I looked away, doing my best not to imagine Enzar’s possible motives for using Klathican to communicate with me. Maybe they thought I lived there. The message had been redirected to my communicator through the network everyone in the Alliance used. Thanks to the Alliance’s confidentiality mandate and the fact that the Enzarian refugees had been relocated to over a dozen worlds, it was possible the magebloods didn’t actually know where I lived. They’d never met me in person, and Earth hadn’t been the only world to fight back when Thairon and Cethrax had attacked Central. Half the Alliance had joined us.

“Okay,” I said, the office suddenly feeling unbearably confining. “Tell me if you find anything new.”

I hurried back downstairs to the entrance hall, my mind reeling. Nell and Alber weren’t waiting for me—they’d probably gone back to the shelter. “Shelter” being a loose term. I hadn’t known until a week ago Central had its own equivalent of an underground bunker in case of an attack. Kay’s mother had set it up, according to the map of Central’s lower floors that Elizabeth Walker had left Kay. As Central was a target, half the Alliance had temporarily relocated over here after the attack from Thairon. We were lucky. The battle hadn’t damaged the rest of London too much because it’d been focused over here, but it had whipped up a panic I’d never seen before. Rumours flew through the streets, businesses in the general area had closed, and the building itself had drawn a small but persistent crowd of onlookers waiting to get a glimpse of the next catastrophe.

Central was more crowded than I’d ever seen it, and yet it had never felt emptier.

I headed for the stairs to the basement. Luckily, it lay on the opposite side of the building from the cells where the Alliance’s former eminent council member was imprisoned. There was half a ton of sciras-enhanced adamantine between us and Lawrence Walker.

Nell, Alber and I shared a room scarcely bigger than a cell. The rest of our corridor was given over to the other Enzarian refugees. There’d been more living in London than I’d thought.

I wondered if the same was true of the world’s other major cities. New York. Sydney. Hong Kong. Berlin. Paris. At one slight change, I might have grown up in any of those places, raised to speak another language, been a different person entirely.

No wonder I had trouble figuring out who I was.

I found Nell and Alber in the recreation room, if you could call it that. It was adjacent to the dormitories, and the entertainment consisted of a bunch of old board games and one TV someone had brought in. At the other end was the cafeteria. While there were usually a few hundred people at Central, the doubling of the people living here had forced them to hire extra staff, or ask for volunteers to cook, clean, and generally make sure the place functioned as a proper shelter.

“Hey, Ada,” said Alber. “Wondered where you’d gone.”

“Just talked to my boss. I’m going out tomorrow.”

Nell dropped the book she’d been skimming through. One of mine. I’d not been able to bring much, and I had a bunch of books downloaded onto my communicator’s e-reading app anyway, but I’d wanted some home comforts. Nell herself had brought nothing beside clothes, while Alber lamented the loss of his Xbox. But it’d probably be stolen or broken within the week. Nell had put most of our valuables in storage.

“You what?”

“It’s an intelligence mission on Klathica. Alliance-approved.” KimaroTech was technically owned by the Alliance, though they wouldn’t take kindly to us spying on them.

She shook her head. “Ada, it’s not safe out there.”

“Don’t I know it.” I knew Nell never really left Enzar behind. I could see her going to war. If not for me and Alber.

“Hang on a sec,” said Alber. “I’m not a kid, and neither’s Ada. Let her go.”

“That has nothing to do with it,” said Nell. “Ada’s in more danger than anyone else in the building.” Her voice had dropped to a near-whisper. “Too many people have tried to hurt you, Ada.”

“I can’t stay here and do nothing when there’s a war going on out there. I won’t be anywhere near Enzar. And I’ll be invisible. We’re using the Chameleons. I know it’s dangerous, but if I stay here when I could be out there helping, I might as well be dead already.”

Nell sucked in a breath. “Whereabouts are you going?”

“Klathica. It’s an Alliance world, but since there were links between KimaroTech and T—” I swallowed the lump in my throat. “The Stoneskins. I want to make sure there’s no one working against the Alliance.”

“Why,” asked Nell, “do they need people from Earth, then?”

“Because…” I weighed my options, not wanting to mention the lawbreaking part. “Because we’re neutral. And I’m trained to use the Chameleon.”

Nell sighed, but all she said was, “Be careful.”

“I’m gonna find Kay and tell him.”

I knew where he’d be. Kay dealt with a crisis by taking action, and being as powerless as we all were at the moment was driving him as crazy as it drove me, if not more. For the first couple of days, he’d been in a state of shock, and locked himself in the simulator room for so long I’d had to go in to remind him to eat and sleep. If we didn’t get offworld soon, we’d both lose our minds.

Halfway out the door, my communicator buzzed. A message. Goosebumps sprang up on my arms. Every time, it was the same words, sent to every Alliance branch. 

We are coming, Adamantine. You are ours.

View full details