Jared Brain fell.
Until that point, the damage to the master plan was merely aggravating. Reparable. Jared and Methuselah
certainly hadn’t planned to send any of the Century Club heroes back through the one remaining time gate.
The plan was that Jared—aka the Walking Mind—would claim the minds of the psychosaurs before the
Conqueror Ape could goof things up.
When Khan’s useless son fell through the portal, it was frustrating, but still salvageable. Jared could have
dealt with the other weak-minded Centurions. The flying squirrel presented no danger to him. Benjamin Hu
possessed an interesting ability to slip his mental hold, but he couldn’t control the psychosaurs. And that
aggressive woman, the one who liked to solve problems with her fists—Amelia Stone—she was no concern
But damage to his jar? That was a problem.
And so he fell.
He hurtled through the time stream, surrounded by the dizzying whirls of possible futures and distant pasts.
Telepathically conductive fluid oozed out through the holes that Sally Slick, turned to her Shadow side, had left
in his protective shell. It beaded on the outside of the glass. Hovered in the timestream alongside him, pulled
by the same force that hurtled him toward his destination.
Without that elixir, his psychic reach would be weakened to the point of death. He would be stuck in the
wilds of prehistory, inert tissue on the ground. Immobile. Helpless.
The Walking Mind focused all his power on retaining the precious liquid, blocking the holes. The leaking
slowed. Then he concentrated on a perfect, precious globule floating near one of the gashes in the glass.
Pulled it closer—
With a small plop it squeezed back into his enclosure.
He felt the urge to sigh with relief though he’d been lungless for years. Some habits die hard.
But soon fatigue set in, an unaccustomed tiredness that made his control waver.
One stubborn drop kept slipping from him as if pouring through invisible fingers—
Then time was up.
Jared Brain rocketed out of the portal with an audible pop. A moment of exhilaration as he exalted in all the
green, so vibrant and overwhelming it assailed all the senses at once. Even he, who had none, could feel it.
Smell it. Taste it. The green of growing things. The green of nature unsullied by man.
The green of prehistory.
He was about to experience it firsthand. By falling on it.
The corner of his jar smacked the very green ground with a vibrating thwang. His brain—the last fragile bit of
his once-human meat—slammed against the glass wall. Sloshed back.
In that moment he registered the shocked face of Jet Black, crouched at the edge of a stark rock cliff—
Then he rolled over the ledge.
Again, he fell. The indignity of it!
His jar spun in what would have been a sickening spiral if he had the inner ear to sense it. But he had none.
No legs and arms to flail. No mouth to scream his inarticulate rage. His shriek was silent. No one with the
power of speech stood close enough to hear his telepathic cry, deadened by the leak:
No one, that is, except for Jet, that cursed flying squirrel. Slick’s puppy. The kid, the perpetually optimistic
boy, peered down at him from the cliff’s ledge as the jar toppled onto a small outcropping of rock.
The jar rolled, wobbled, came to a stop. Tottered on the edge of the unending chasm. The slightest
movement would send it over.
Jared tried to calm the precious teleconductive fluid remaining in the jar, but his abilities were feeble,
ineffective. The soft flesh of his unanchored brain slid toward the fulcrum despite his every effort—
“Need a hand?” Jet asked, reaching out as if to catch the tottering jar despite the fact that it was obviously
beyond his reach. Worst of all, he meant it. So earnest. So eager. So heroic.
Without his jetpack, the fool couldn’t possibly offer any significant aid. But still he tried, his tendons standing
in stark relief against his neck as he strained with all his might to rescue his enemy. A selfless gesture,
particularly since Jared had just done his best to kill the boy and all his silly little hero friends. If he had eyes,
he’d have glared at the kid.
Instead he hit Jet with a psychic wave of loathing that wiped the smile from the hero’s face. Made it into a
scowl. But then it cleared, and the kid gave a cheery wave.
“If that’s how you feel, enjoy your trip,” Jet said, smiling pleasantly.
Jared’s brain slid—
The jar overbalanced—
And Jared Brain fell.
Although he’d rejected Jet’s offer of help, Jared now felt a flicker of doubt. He tried to levitate. Failed. He
couldn’t even halt his spin, let alone float himself to safety. The rock face blurred as he picked up speed. A fall
from this height would mean the end of him. The situation was dire indeed.
A harsh screech from the cliff heralded his descent. The Pterosaur nesting there launched at him.
Jared couldn’t control the creature yet—the plan was to come back in time to learn that very thing—but he
tried to snare it with his mind anyway.
It didn’t work.
The creature shook off his mental grasp with a toss of its scaled head. It pushed off from the wall, stretching
its long reptilian body to reach him. Its needle-toothed maw opened, its jaws snapped closed on the Walking
It gulped him down.
Jared Brain plopped into the belly of the beast, protected from its digestive juices by the glass surrounding
On the bright side, he thought, at least he wasn’t falling.