Tales from the Secret World Chronicles
In the late 1930s something fell from the sky and landed in an area of the Atlantic not yet known as the Bermuda Triangle. After that event, part of the world irrevocably changed … and the mysteries began.
Something else would change as well—seemingly ordinary men and women on both sides of the Allied/Axis war suddenly began to manifest uncanny powers. Super powers. The advent of the age of metahumans had begun.
And hidden in the heart of the ocean, the masterminds sat back to watch.
This collection contains stories of that time, as metahumans enter and change the Second World War forever. From the streets of Paris to the beach at Dunkirk, from the Battle of Britain to the Atlantic Deeps, metahumans meet and clash, while all around them rage the battles of ordinary men and women.
These 16 stories are woven in and around The Secret World Chronicles, the five-book mega-series written by Mercedes Lackey, Dennis K. Lee, Cody Martin, Veronica Giguere, and Steve Libby.
The WWII Stories:
Rise: Mercedes Lackey. In the skies over Britain, one extraordinary pilot faces the Nazi metahuman, the Black Baron
Sgian Dubh : Mercedes Lackey. When one wee Scot discovers he has a talent for going places, the Allies come calling for his help.
White Bird: Mercedes Lackey. A French "ferry pilot" becomes a weapon of war, but at what cost?
Valse Triste: Mercedes Lackey. A frail young Jewish musician, Nazi captive, discovers a weapon in music.
Retrieval: Veronica Giguere. What if "Navy Seal" was literal?
The Victoria Victrix Nagy Stories:
Exemplar: Mercedes Lackey. Before Vickie Nagy was ever recruited to ECHO, she still served to protect
Into The Night: Mercedes Lackey. Vickie operates beside her parents in the FBI's Metahuman division.
Save A Prayer: Mercedes Lackey. There's a killer out there, and Vickie plays bait.
The Longest Night: Mercedes Lackey. Santa isn't the only one who comes on Xmas, as Vickie discovers.
The Heir Apparent: Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. Home Sweet Home, for villain Dominic Verdigris III
The Thulian War Stories:
Strike A Pose: Mercedes Lackey. Sometimes all morale needs is a pinup calendar.
For Those About To Rock: Mercedes Lackey and Dennis K. Lee. Vickie "handles" the difficult Red Djinni.
Waiting On: Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin. John Murdock reflects on his mysterious past.
Further On Up The Road: Veronica Giguere. When you are in charge of the Program that turns children into weapons, what price do you set on safety?
All Mine: Mercedes Lackey and Dennis K. Lee. When children become weapons, some may gain, but everyone loses something.
Runnin': Mercedes Lackey and Dennis K. Lee. In the hours after the final Battle of the World-Ship, Vickie and Red find their own separate peace.
"Series readers will be pleased with this return to the Secret World."– Publishers Weekly
"The project feels like a throwback to the glorious days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, when creativity was king, and having inspired ideas was more important than how famous you were."– SF Site Nathan Brazil
"[C]omes together seamlessly. . .an awesome and lightning-paced story: read it on a day when you will not have to put it down."– San Francisco Book Review
"With [Mercedes Lackey], suspense never lags..."– Kliatt
by Mercedes Lackey
January 5, 1935
The primitive world known to its inhabitants as "Earth" was exactly what the Masters were looking for. Its technology level was just barely pre-Atomic, and it was ass-deep in a global conflict. Yet it had nothing that could detect even the craft roaming its skies, much less the Masters' World-Ship.
So it settled into the deep waters far off the coast of the "United States," and once it was settled, it unfolded, and when their stealth technology fully deployed, it would literally take bumping into it for any of these creatures to become aware that it was there.
And before any of the "humans" got that close, the Masters would have them. Whatever craft bumbled into their waters would be seized in tractor beams and hauled in to be captured. The radio, if any, would be silenced and they would become subjects of experiment. Said craft would become just another missing mystery of the ocean.
After deployment, a few specimens were taken at random from remote areas of the coast, and a few lunar cycles later, drones deployed to spread the Masters' nanotech mutagen far and wide over the planet. This atomized powder was designed to trigger metapowers in each species the Masters' machines encountered. Humans had been a bit trickier than most—the genetics for metahuman powers involved transposons, the so-called "jumping genes," DNA sequences that moved from one location on the genome to another, and not simple mutations. But the Masters' machines were clever, and with few exceptions, they could almost always find ways to trigger metapowers. They had only failed with their current servant-race, the Klathans—but those had been easy to conquer, and easier still for the legacy printing chambers to copy and program. That had been fortuitous rather than otherwise. Really, they were the best servants the Masters had ever had, all things considered.
The Masters were going to pay a little extra-special attention to the part of the world known as "Germany." That particular country had some interesting attitudes that should make the triggering of metahumans there particularly delightful.
With the drones away, all the Masters had to do was deploy viewing equipment and wait for the entertainment to begin. It might take a little longer for metapowers to trigger with this species, but anticipation and uncertainty added to the entertainment value.
September 9, 1940
Lt. Commander Nigel Patterson of the RAF was having a very bad day.
Then again, everyone in the RAF was having a bad day—and every day had been bad since the beginning of July. The bloody Huns were throwing every damn plane they had at Britain in the hopes of breaking the back of the Allies, and he and his mates were the only thing standing between Old Blighty and Nazi flags over Buckingham Palace.
And it didn't help that besides some of the best planes and pilots Nige had ever seen, the bloody Huns had—Them. "Metahumans," the science-johnnies were calling 'em. Bloody damned supers with superpowers like in the Yank comic books.
Predictably, the Nazis called them "Übermenschen." Vaterland and Hitlerjugend had been the first, and truth to tell, Nige hadn't been impressed when he'd seen them in the newsreels and winning every Gold Medal in the Berlin Olympics. He'd figured they were some sort of freaks or cheats.
Then the fighting had started. And those two mowed down Frenchies like a couple of Yank harvesters rolling across fields of wheat.
But worse than that, more of the blighters started showing up. Valkyria. Übermensch himself. The Panzer-triplets. And…
Nigel cursed and put his Spitfire into a diving roll, and avoided being cut down out of the sky by mere inches.
…the Black Baron.
Nige's coveralls clung to him, drenched in sweat; every muscle cried out in protest, as punished as his Spitfire was. The stick shuddered in his hand, and the plane shuddered around him, and he would have sworn he could hear rivets popping. He pulled up out of a suicidal dive, clenching his entire body to keep from blacking out, and did a wingover just as she was about to stall, dropping into another dive.
The Black Baron had inhuman reflexes, bullets literally bounced off him, and he scarcely needed a plane at all, just a frame with an excuse for a skin, a whacking big engine, a couple of wings, and a tail. Oh, and guns. Two of them. And both of them were stitching the sky behind Nige. He pulled up again, this time making a tight right-hand turn, then a left, then another right. Bullets traced the sky in front of him and he dove again.
Almost radio silence in his ears, but he stayed off the frequency. No point in begging for help; help wasn't coming. The Black Baron had Nige in his sights, and the best he could do right now was to try and keep the bastard engaged for as many minutes as he could and allow his squad-mates to try and take some of the Baron's fighter-bombers out of the sky before they could unload their deadly cargoes. If he was lucky—unlikely, but it was possible—he'd be able to bail out before he augured in. And then he'd have to hope the damned Huns didn't shoot him as he dangled helplessly from his 'chute.
He probably should have been making his peace with God.
Instead… he was in a red rage, his eyes hazing over, and not just with the g-forces he was pushing. I'd give bloody anything, anything, to take this bastard on one-on—
And that was when he felt the screaming bullets finally stitch their way across his fuselage. And hit his fuel tank. Fire erupted all around him, although, strangely, he felt nothing yet. But he would. It would be terrible. And flaming red rage was still all he felt, knowing he was about to die.
Except… he didn't.
The plane exploded, and he was on fire. Literally on fire. In vain he looked to the sky, strained for it, flames all around him, reached for it the way a drowning man reaches for air he'll never breathe again.
But—he wasn't falling.…
With a jolt of shock he realized he was flying! Still afire, still feeling nothing but, perhaps, a tingling, as if his skin was electrified. Climbing straight up into the sky, out of the flaming, falling wreckage of his plane, himself still on fire like a bloody phoenix! How?
Dunno. Don't care. If this was a dying hallucination, so be it. He was going to enjoy it and act as if it wasn't. There was a Stuka in his path, and he was going to do something about it.
The "something" was to stretch out his body, fists forward, and punch a hole through the right wing, flip in midair like a falcon, and come back down through the left wing. Then for good measure, come back up again and rip the top of the tail clean off.
As that plane heeled over and headed for the ground, he hovered in midair a moment, flames wreathing around him, caught sight of a second, and went for it.
He'd managed to punch his way through every plane in the formation when the Black Baron finished off another of his mates, looked around, and realized what he'd just done. And what he was sharing the sky with.
And the blackguard made a run for it.
Oh, now there's another super-man to tangle with you, you aren't so brave, are you, tosser?
Setting the air on fire with his curses, Nige went after him.
He caught the bastard just above the Dover coast after a tail-chase that had him painting flames across the sky of London. He managed to land on the airframe, and without even thinking, crawled his way hand over hand to the cockpit, his eyes so fogged with red that he barely saw the Baron's terrified face before he punched the man's nose halfway back into his head.
Then he reached down, ripped out the control cables with his bare hands, and stepped off the falling plane, and watched it drop out of the sky and hit the ground at full speed.
Leisurely—but still on fire, he followed it down.
There wasn't much left of it. Just a blackened crater in the earth. And while the Baron survived bullets, it was clear that he hadn't been able to survive that kind of impact.
He looked up at the sky. His mates were tail-chasing the Huns home. And as the fires surrounding him slowly died away, his ability to think beyond the next blow returned.
And it came to him with a sense of wonder and awe what he'd just done. What he'd just become.
Guess I'd better pick a name for myself, he thought, as he heard the engines of motorcars racing towards him across the green meadow where he and the Baron's plane had ended up. Before they pick something for me.…
He looked up again at his mates, disappearing little dots in the clouds.
The Masters were exceedingly pleased. Finally, in the presence of death and his metahuman counterpart, the first of the metahumans of the "Allies" had triggered. While it had been amusing to watch the Axis metas trample the air and ground unimpeded for a while, such one-sided combat grew boring quickly.
Now things were going to proceed on an even basis.
Let the Games begin.