Joan is at her happiest when she uses her powers – stirring air currents, creating fire, and levitating metal objects – but she learned at a young age that no one in her small-minded suburban town was prepared to accept her abilities. Since that painful revelation, she has hidden her powers, isolating herself from others, even keeping her own parents at a distance.
However, all that changes when a spastic but charming boy named Daniel Thundyil transfers to her school and she begins to suspect that he is concealing powers of his own. Burning with curiosity and desperate to end her loneliness, Joan makes it her mission to get to the bottom of this boy’s secrets. What she doesn’t realize is that Daniel isn’t just another Earthling with uncanny abilities; he is an inter-dimensional traveler from a world of super-powered beings. And the moment she started prying into his life, she put herself in the sights of the godlike evil that followed him from his dimension.
Now, the most powerful girl on Earth faces a choice: will she retreat back to the safety of her life in hiding or brave the storm for a chance at truth and friendship?
Recommended reading order:
Young readers and YA fans will want to start with Theonite: Planet Adyn (you can start with the more diverse and Afrofuturistic Theonite: Orbit, but be warned: the learning curve will be steep without the build-up from Book 1).
Adults and epic fantasy fans may want to start with The Sword of Kaigen, which is a standalone spin-off taking place thirteen years before the main series.
Theonite: Planet Adyn Sample Chapter
September 25, 2005
Daniel Thundyil leaned forward, drumming his heels against the side of a seat that was still just a little too high for him.
“So, Dad, you realize when I said I’d be okay with moving again, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
Robin looked up from the control array to offer his son a smile. “I know, and I’m sorry to throw you into this on such short notice, but I had no choice.”
“You say that a lot.” Daniel frowned, then pulled his knees up to his chest to rest his chin on them, his feet still tapping absently on the edge of the seat. He hadn’t stopped fidgeting since they left the space center. The silence bothered him.
“Once you’re finished sulking, I think you’ll find this trip to be quite the adventure,” Robin said brightly.
“Right.” A surprise trip with a dad like Robin was always an adventure. It wasn’t the adventure part that bothered Daniel. He didn’t mind changing schools, and languages, and identities every time his father needed to track down a dangerous psychopath. What he did mind was being left out of the loop.
“It’s not every day you get to cross into a parallel dimension,” Robin said. “Aren’t you at least a little excited?”
Robin sank back in his seat, heaving a sigh that got lost in the muffling hum of the pod’s engines. Just a year ago, he would have been able to put a smile back on that face with a joke, or a song, or some half-made-up story about the constellations shifting all around them, but Daniel was getting to that dreaded age where kids are impossible to talk to. It baffled Robin sometimes how quickly his son had grown up. It didn’t seem all that long ago that he had been the moody adolescent with too much energy and not enough direction. But time seemed to race faster when you had a job like Robin’s, when every day might be your last. This custom-made vessel might have allowed them to leap across space and dimensions, but Robin and his growing son remained as firmly bound to time as any of their ancestors.
“What’s it like, you think?” Daniel said finally, turning his eyes to the starry infinity outside. “This other planet—dimension—thing.” He still didn’t seem to believe the idea even as he said it. Robin hardly believed it himself.
“Not unlike home, I would imagine,” Robin replied.
“What makes you say that?” Daniel twisted around in his seat to raise an eyebrow at his father. “Your engineer told me everything was all backwards and upside-down there. He said the people there weren’t, you know, like us.”
“They’re human,” Robin said, “and so are we. What else is there to know?”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant.”
“There will be cultural differences from what we’re used to. We won’t know exactly what those are until we get there, but we’ll figure it out. Don’t worry.”
“I never said I was worried. That’s you.”
“True.” Robin didn’t know what to do but laugh, because Daniel had no idea how true it was. “You got me.”
“But just because I’m not worried doesn’t mean I get why we’re doing this. I’m still waiting for you to explain.”
“I’ve told you,” Robin said. “There is something I need to find, urgently, before it falls into the wrong hands.”
“Yeah, I know. You’ve said that like five times, but what? What is this thing you need to find so bad?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
“Is that even true?” Daniel turned a skeptical frown on his father. “Or do you just not want to tell me?”
“I have some theories—”
“That you can’t tell me, right?”
Robin gave his son an apologetic smile.
“If we’re leaving our planet on a theory, it must be for something serious.” Daniel leaned forward, squinting in thought. “So, this killer you won’t tell me anything about must be bad news, huh?”
“I know, I know,” Daniel scowled, slumping down in his seat to put his feet against the glass. “The less I know, the safer I am.”
For a few moments, Daniel sat crunched down in his seat, tapping an irritated rhythm on the wall with the soles of his shoes.
“I’m thirteen, Dad. Would it kill you to have me in the loop every once in a while?”
Robin didn’t answer.
“Come on,” Daniel begged, even though he knew it was pointless. “Could you at least give me a name?”
“Killer 31, code name—”
“Code name: Mohan, I know,” Daniel cut him off. “Everyone’s really impressed with the cute little nicknames you give your enemies. I meant his real name.”
Robin shook his head. “You wouldn’t know him.”
“Him?” Daniel repeated. “Okay, so it’s a guy. Is he from our city?”
“Let me rephrase,” Robin said calmly. “You don’t want to know him.”
“Yes, I do!” Daniel insisted. “If I’m going to take over for you some day—”
“You’re going to have to hold that thought,” Robin said, drumming the final measures of code into the control panel.
Daniel had just opened his mouth to protest when a violent shudder ran through the pod and the air around them thrummed with some unseen force.
“Whoa!” Daniel grabbed the arm of his seat in alarm. “What’s going on?”
“We’re about to cross over,” Robin said, his eyes fixed ahead.
“What—” Daniel began, but the rest of his words morphed into an unintelligible gargle as the walls of the pod warped and stretched before him. A plunging sensation in the pit of his stomach caused him to double over and realize that he had only one knee and upward of a hundred knuckles. He opened his mouth to scream only to find that his lungs had collapsed into his spleen. His body was breaking, crumbling into a billion bright white grains of sand.
“Dad!” he cried out, but his voice had turned to sand as well. The glass dome of the pod shattered to mix with the disintegrating stars, the swirl of whiteness swallowed him, and the world disappeared.
For some time—it could have been a few seconds or a few weeks for all they knew—neither father nor son heard or felt a thing. Then, all at once, both slid off the edge of limbo and back into their bodies.
Daniel let out an undignified yelp as reality deposited him back into his seat beside his father. Unable to work his limbs, he collapsed into a trembling lump of jelly, his breath coming in short, shaking gasps.
Robin closed his eyes and took a single breath to calm his own hammering heart before turning to put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “Alright there, young man?” he asked mildly. “All of you make it through?”
Daniel could only gibber a stream of breathless nonsense, his eyes still fixed sightlessly on the pod glass opposite him.
“Let’s see…” Robin patted Daniel’s knee. “Your legs are here. Hands…” He gently uncurled one of his son’s clenched fists. “Here. Face…” He took Daniel’s chin to look into those eyes that so resembled his own. “Here.”
When Daniel’s gaze locked with his father’s, he blinked back into consciousness.
“O-okay, okay!” Daniel stumbled into his voice as though lurching out of a dream. “I’m fine!” He swatted his father’s hand away. “I’m fine!”
“Attitude.” Robin smiled. “Here.”
“Oh—” Daniel gulped as he readjusted himself in his seat, still shaking. “Th-that was—”
“An adventure, no?”
“Sure,” Daniel let out an exasperated laugh. He didn’t think he would ever figure out how his father handled every crazy turn of their lives with such unwavering calm. It didn’t seem fair.
“S-so, that’s it?” Daniel asked, laying his spinning head back to stare out at a sea of stars indistinguishable from the one they had just left. “That’s really it? We just crossed dimensions?”
“If the readings here are correct, then yes,” Robin said. “We’re among the first—possibly the very first—to do so. Amazing, isn’t it? No one else in the universe has experienced the miracle of physics and technology we did just now.”
“Yeah, hooray,” Daniel said, putting a hand to his head to massage the dizziness out of it. “Who wouldn’t want to feel like they just got squeezed through a soda straw and blown into a million pieces? Seriously, if you’d told me we were going to have to—what?” he snapped when Robin started to laugh.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met another kid so used to the outlandish that he could find a way to be annoyed by inter-dimensional travel. You’d laugh at you too if you weren’t so busy being mad at me.” Before his son got the chance to retort, Robin pointed out the window. “Now, take a look at that.”
Turning, Daniel followed his father’s gaze and felt a gasp escape him. Even after a dozen trips into space, the sight of a planet up close was breathtaking.
“Is that it?” he asked softly.
“Yes.” Robin’s voice had also grown hushed with wonder. He leaned over Daniel to put a hand on the glass. “Isn’t it stunning? The most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”
Daniel made a thoughtful noise, cocking his head to get a better angle on the blue-green planet. “I was expecting it to be—I don’t know—purple or something, but it’s not. It looks just like home.”
“Doesn’t it?” Robin marveled, his eyes still fixed on the cloud-shrouded orb on the other side of the glass, the only planet in its little solar system capable of sustaining life. “Who would have thought that in between the fibers of our universe, there was a near carbon copy of home?”
As much as the sight filled Robin with wonder, it made him sad. He didn’t know why.
“What did you say its name was again?” Daniel asked.
“The few scientists who know of its existence refer to it as Duna Fune or Planet Adyn, but I’m told the natives of this dimension have a different name for it.”
“What do they call it?”
The Sword of Kaigen Sample Chapter
Mt. Takayubi, Kusanagi Peninsula
The Kaigenese Empire
5369 y. s. p.
It was a harrowing climb to the high school. Eight hundred twenty-one steps. Mamoru had counted one time on his way up—no easy feat while focusing on not toppling off the side of a mountain. For most fourteen-year-old fighters, the winding way up to the school was a true test of nerve and agility, but Mamoru, with his springy legs and boundless energy, woke each morning looking forward to the challenge.
“Mamoru!” his friends panted from the steps far below him. “Not so fast!”
Itsuki and Yuuta had to take the steep path to the school because they lived in the western village, further down the mountain. Mamoru’s family compound was built high enough that he could have taken an easier way if he chose, but Matsudas weren’t known for taking the easy way to anything. He rose every day before dawn, amid the chanting of crickets, so he could make the loop down the mountain toward the western village and tackle the steep climb with his friends.
“You two are too slow!” Mamoru called back. “We don’t want to be late!”
“We’re not going to be late,” Itsuki called in exasperation from the mist below. “Just wait up! Please!”
“Fine, fine.” Mamoru lowered himself to the rock ledge and sat, letting his feet hang over the edge. It had still been dark when the three boys began their climb, but by now, morning had seeped through the veil of fog to touch the rock face with its pale brushstrokes. It was rarely possible to see the base of the mountain from the Kumono steps. Beneath Mamoru’s dangling legs, there was only mist, rolling in slow waves against the cliff side, growing gradually brighter with the sunrise.
The moment Itsuki and Yuuta dragged themselves over the ridge where Mamoru was perched, he grinned and got to his feet.
“Finally!” he said. “Are you two ready to keep up now?”
“Are you kidding?” Yuuta gasped, doubling over to catch his breath.
“You’re a monster!” Itsuki groaned.
Mamoru slapped each of them on the back. “I’ll wait for you at the school,” he said cheerfully and took off up the mountain.
His toes knew each ledge, each jutting rock, and he took the steepest part of the path in swift, confident bounds, skipping six steps at a time. He had just rounded the last curve when his feet slowed. There was a figure hunched over in the fog up ahead, a boy clinging hard to the rock wall as he panted for breath. Mamoru wouldn’t have thought much of it—there were dozens of students who climbed these steps each morning—but this boy’s clothing wasn’t right. Instead of Kumono blue, he wore a modern-looking black uniform Mamoru had never seen before.
“Good morning,” Mamoru said, approaching slowly, so as not to startle the newcomer off the edge.
“Morning.” The boy raised a hand in greeting before putting it to his chest, still breathing hard. He had a heavy accent.
“Are you…” Mamoru started and then switched to Kaigengua, the imperial standard. “Are you a transfer student?”
The boy nodded. “I’m Kwang Chul-hee. Nice to meet you.”
A northern name. This boy hadn’t just transferred from a neighboring province; he had come from a long way away. His uniform was the kind worn in the big cities on the Jungsan Peninsula, with its Yammanka-style cut and military bogolan patterns.
“Matsuda Mamoru,” Mamoru introduced himself, bowing.
“Matsuda Mamoru…” the boy repeated. “How much farther is it to your damn school?”
“You’re almost there,” Mamoru said with a laugh. “I can walk with you the rest of the way.”
“I’m not afraid I’ll get lost.” Kwang looked vaguely exasperated. “I’m afraid I’ll fall off the edge.”
“No one’s ever died falling from the steps,” Mamoru said. Below the mist, there was a spring-fed lake that never froze waiting to catch clumsy students who lost their footing on the steps.
“That’s what I heard,” Kwang said, “but I bet it still hurts.”
“It does.” One time, in his first year, Mamoru had jumped from the steps to see what it felt like to fly. He had regretted the decision deeply when he hit the surface tension of the lake, but he would never forget the feeling of the wind roaring around him, so ferocious it started to feel like ocean.
“But don’t worry,” Mamoru reassured the boy. “I’ve climbed these steps a hundred times. I know where the rough places are, so if you miss a step, I’ll catch you.”
“You’re that fast?” Kwang didn’t look convinced. Mamoru didn’t mind. Let him think what he wanted.
“Speed is valued in this village,” Mamoru said by way of explanation. “We’re all swordsmen here.”
“I see that.” Kwang nodded at the wooden practice sword sticking out of Mamoru’s schoolbag.
“We can fight empty-handed too,” Mamoru assured him, “but traditional swordplay is the preferred fighting style.”
“You any good at it?”
“I’m a Matsuda.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“It means ‘yes,’” Mamoru said. “And what fighting style is popular in your region?” he asked, curious about what kind of warrior this boy was.
“What fighting style?” Kwang raised his eyebrows. “Video games.”
Mamoru laughed. “We don’t play many of those here.”
“Why not? You do have info-com devices, don’t you?”
Mamoru shook his head.
“What?” Kwang looked stunned.
“Well, the mayor has one, I think. We’re a fairly traditional village.”
“Yeah, I noticed.”
Itsuki and Yuuta caught up to the pair on the last stretch of stairs, and the western village boys introduced themselves.
“I’m Mizumaki Itsuki,” Itsuki said, unthinkingly using the Shirojima Dialect the boys all spoke with each other. “This is Yukino Yuuta.”
“Oh. I-I’m Kwang Chul-hee,” Kwang said in a valiant attempt at a Shirojima Dialect greeting. “Yoroshiku onegashimasu.”
“You mean ‘o-ne-ga-i’,” Mamoru corrected him. “Onegaishimasu. And you don’t really pronounce the ‘su’ part unless you’re a little kid.”
“Don’t worry,” Mamoru said. “A lot of the classes are taught in Kaigengua.” That was standard across the Empire.
By the time they reached the school, the city boy was out of breath again. The pillars were the first part of the building that loomed out of the mist, their black finish slick with condensation, followed by the curving clay-tiled roof. Kumono Academy was built into the rock face, its inner structures carved right out of the mountain. The intricate wood and lacquer front of the building was supported by a network of pillars and beams that creaked in high winds but had held the structure in place for a hundred years.
Kwang paused at the front steps, clinging to a carved wooden railing for support, looking like he might empty his stomach into the mists below.
“Why would you build a school in a place like this?” he said in horror.
“Kumono wasn’t built to be a school,” Yuuta said. “It used to be a monastery.”
“Oh. That explains the decor,” Kwang said, eyeing the statues of Ryuhon Falleya saints standing guard at the school doors.
“The place was left vacant after the fina monks built the new temple, further down the mountain in the western village,” Yuuta said.
“And they decided it was a good place for a school?” Kwang said, incredulous.
“Well, Kumono is Takayubi’s elite koro school,” Mamoru explained as the boys walked up the front steps into the genkan. “The village officials thought it would be appropriate if you had to be an elite koro to reach it.”
The smell of incense had never quite left the wooden halls of Kumono. The familiar scent enveloped the four boys as they joined the sleepy gaggle of students at the shoe shelves and knelt to undo the fastenings on their tabi. As Kwang, still shaking, fumbled with his shoes, Mamoru’s gaze was drawn to the northern boy’s feet. Instead of the two-toed tabi the Takayubi boys wore, Kwang was sporting bulky, shiny Yammanka-style shoes that fastened with magnets around the ankles. Mamoru had seen shoes like that on TV, but no one in Shirojima wore them.
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to make that climb every morning,” Kwang said, cramming his oversized shoes into an open slot.
“If you want an easier walk, you could always transfer to Takayubi Public High School,” Itsuki suggested.
“Oh, no,” Kwang laughed. “My father won’t have me in any school but the best in the region whenever we move to a new place.”
“You move a lot?” Yuuta asked.
Kwang nodded. “My father’s a traveling representative for a communications company, so we travel all over the country, sometimes outside it.”
“Outside it?” Itsuki said in astonishment. “Where have you been?”
“Um…” Kwang took a moment to think. “I’ve been to Yamma a few times, Kudazwe a few times, Sizwe once, for a few weeks—”
“Boys,” a voice said, “if your shoes are put away, you should be in your classrooms.”
“Yukino Sensei!” Itsuki exclaimed as he and the other boys bowed. “We’re sorry.”
Yukino Dai was the best swordsman in the province—or the second best, depending on who you asked. There was debate about whether he could beat Mamoru’s father, Matsuda Takeru, or his uncle, Matsuda Takashi in a duel. The Yukino clan had none of the Matsudas’ secret bloodline techniques, but Yukino Dai was about as good as a man could get with a naked blade.
“We have a new student with us, Sensei,” Mamoru explained. “He isn’t sure where he’s supposed to go.”
“I see.” Yukino Sensei looked past Mamoru at the new boy, who stuck out starkly in his bogolan uniform. “You must be Kwang Chul-hee?”
“Yes, sir.” Kwang bowed and said very carefully, “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
The swordmaster visibly suppressed a smile at Kwang’s pronunciation. “Welcome to Kumono Academy,” he said in Kaigengua. “How was your first time up the steps?”
“Super easy, sir,” Kwang said, despite the obvious flush in his cheeks. “I can’t wait to do it again.”
Yukino Sensei’s face broke into an open smile. “I like you, Kwang,” he said. “You can follow me to the office to pick up your schedule. Matsuda-san.” He turned to Mamoru. “Run to the storeroom and find a uniform for Kwang-san. Your size should do.”
“Yes, sir.” Mamoru bowed and hurried to do as he was told.
He moved quickly through the narrow halls to the supply closet, his legs absorbing the shifting of the floor as the school swayed on its posts.
“Hey, Mamoru!” other boys greeted him.
“Good morning, Matsuda-senpai!”
He made sure he gave each of them a bow and a smile as he went.
There was no lock on the storeroom door. Kumono was a small enough high school—Takayubi was a small enough town—that no one worried much about theft. Where would a thief even keep a stolen item? Where would he try to sell it? Everyone here knew everyone.
Mamoru had to climb over a box of broken practice swords and a stack of dummies to reach the shelf of spare uniforms. Keeping his footing became a challenge as the school creaked and the dummies shifted beneath him, but what kind of Matsuda would he be if a little breeze threw him off balance? With the next gust of wind, the stack of dummies tipped toward the shelves. Mamoru leaned forward, snatched a size-four uniform from its shelf, and sprang from the top of the stack to the floor before anything fell.
After double checking the uniform size, he hurried to the office to meet Yukino Sensei and Kwang.
“Thank you, Matsuda-san,” Yukino Sensei said as Mamoru handed the new boy his uniform. “Now, Kwang-san is going to be entering our second-year class, which means his schedule is identical to yours.” Mamoru nodded. Being the more exclusive of two high schools in a small town, Kumono Academy had only one class per grade level. “I’m putting him in your charge. You’ll look after him for today.”
“Start by showing him where the changing rooms are. And be quick. You boys only have a few siiranu before classes start.”
Kwang took longer than Mamoru would have thought to change into his new uniform, and Mamoru found himself pacing impatiently on the creaking floor before the changing room door. When Kwang finally emerged, he was still fiddling with the waist tie as if he had all the time in the world.
“This is so funny,” he said, shaking out the uniform’s broad blue sleeves. “I feel like I’m in one of those old samurai movies.”
“Well, for us, this is just a normal school uniform,” Mamoru said, frowning.
“This place is weird.” Kwang ran his hands over his sleeves, looking at the ornately-carved temple halls around him. “It’s like I stepped through a portal back in time.”
Mamoru felt annoyance bristle up inside him. He wasn’t sure why. He opened his mouth to say something but before he could come up with the right words, the old temple bell sounded. The single note reverberated through the hall, as it had done for hundred years, calling the boys of Takayubi to class.