Th is is a work of ﬁction.
All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed
in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used ﬁctitiously.
Copyright © 2012 by John Edward
All rights reserved.
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
ISBN 978- 0-7653-3271-4 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4668-0072-4 (e-book)
First Edition: September 2012
Printed in the United States of America
. New York .
ave Hampton had the looks of a star. With a full head of dark hair
always perfectly coiﬀed, blue eyes, and well-chiseled features, he
could have been the lead in a dramatic television show. He was, in fact, a
television star, but not in a drama series. He had his own news, commentary, and talk show airing at six o’clock eastern time, Monday through
Friday. From Maine to California, millions of Americans adjusted their
schedules so they could watch the show live, and those who couldn’t watch
it live recorded it.
Hampton specialized in controversy and conspiracy theories. There
were few who were ambivalent about him—the public either loved him or
hated him. “Innovative, brave, probing,” his supporters said. “A wacko,
conspiracy nut-job,” his detractors said.
Today his guests had discussed such subjects as whether or not the
United States was purposely not drilling for domestic oil in order to exhaust all the oil reserves of the rest of the world, to whether or not Errol
Flynn was actually a Nazi spy.
The guests were gone now and the show was on a commercial break
before the ﬁnal segment, which Hampton called “Critical Update.”
“Back in one minute thirty seconds, Dave,” the director said, his voice
audible in Dave’s ear plug.
“I don’t see my CU queued on the teleprompter,” Dave said.
“Sure it is,” the director said. “Untapped Oil Reserves.”
“That’s not the one I want. I changed it, remember? I want Sinister
“You mean you were serious about that?”
18 . J O H N E D W A R D
“If you don’t put it on the teleprompter, I’m going to try and wing it,
and that will make it worse.”
“All right, all right,” the studio ﬂoor manager said. “Just a minute.”
Dave stared into the three teleprompters, which were just below the
camera lenses. “I’m waiting.”
“Coming up—now,” the director said.
The story on the teleprompter changed, and Dave acknowledged,
“We’re going to hear about this one, Dave. This is the kookiest of
“I wish you were right,” the studio ﬂoor manager said.
“Come on, you mean you actually believe this?”
“I’m afraid I do,” she said.
“Ten seconds, stand by.”
Dave nodded and looked at the camera. When the red light came on,
he began to speak.
“Have you ever had one of those feelings that nag at you? You know
what I’m talking about, a smell that is familiar but you just can’t place it,
a voice, face, or event that is just on the other side of memory, or a tune
that haunts you from your past?
“I’m having just such a sensation now. There is something up, something going on—and though I don’t know what it is, I know that it is monu-ment-al! It is of earth-shaking proportions, and when I say earth shaking,
I’m not just engaging in hyperbole.
“Whatever this is—and for lack of a better word, I am going to call it a
sinister shadow—it is hanging over our heads now like the fabled Sword of
Damocles. Is this merely another one of Crazy Dave’s conspiracy theories?
“No, I’m not saying that there is a Nazi settlement on the moon, or
there are aliens among us in high-ranking positions. I’m not saying that the
Illuminati control all the governments of the world.
“I can’t be weaving a conspiracy out of this, because I don’t have enough
of a grasp on this to formulate a hypothesis, or even to ask a question.
“Let me keep this very simple: Responsible and believable people,
speaking oﬀ the record and with the assurance of anonymity, have told me
of a disturbing paradigm, great and troubling movements that are taking
place in religious, scientiﬁc, and political circles. I don’t know what it is—
but I do know that it is making strange bedfellows, bringing about cooperation between the most disparate sectors of all human society. And while
this cooperation would normally be considered a good thing, I am told
FAL L EN MASTER S . 19
these meetings are not the result of some universal brotherhood of man.
This coming together is not anything born of altruism but rather a desperate seeking of the deliverance of humankind from this—sinister shadow.
“I feel as if all humanity is in a car, driving toward the edge of a cliﬀ,
headed toward one ﬁnal catastrophic car accident. And the biggest problem
is that while some of us can see the accident coming at us in slow motion,
we can’t ﬁgure out how to put on the brakes. I don’t have the answers, but I
can promise you that I am going to do my level best to ﬁnd the truth and
bring it to you. The one thing that I know in my heart is true is that something of epic proportions is coming toward us, and we soon might be faced
with making some pretty important choices.
“Choices, ladies and gentlemen. Choices that might change the world.”
Hampton, in his signature sign-oﬀ, held his hand up, palm facing the
camera. “From New York, this is Dave Hampton. Good night, America.”
As soon as he had delivered the sign-oﬀ, the telephones in the cable
network studio began to ring oﬀ the hook, and within the hour, emails and
tweets ﬂooded into Dave’s own phone and swamped his website. Dave
looked at the response and was both relieved and afraid. He had taken a
gamble tonight and knew that the network would be breathing down his
neck for what it would probably consider a bold stunt just for ratings.
But people were interested in—no, deeply concerned about—his report
and felt they had to reach out to him to express their emotional responses
to the news. He just wished he knew what he was going to tell them, for if
his sources were correct, the truth was far worse than anything they could
. Vatican City .
iovanni Giuseppe Battista, known to the world as Pope Genaro I,
strode purposefully along the corridor of the Apostolic Palace in the
Vatican with two of his most senior and trusted cardinals. The Holy Father,
as spiritual leader of the world’s 1.4 billion Roman Catholics, felt the burden weighing heavily on his shoulders this day.
He was a tall man, rail thin at age seventy-two, who wore thick wirerimmed glasses that gave him an intellectual look, which belied his deeply
held commitment to charity for all people and his natural personal humility. In the deep pocket of his white cassock, the familiar “uniform” of his
religious oﬃce, he ﬁngered a simple wooden set of rosary beads and prayed
silently, almost unconsciously.
As Genaro walked to what might be most important meeting of his
life, he found himself thinking about the nature of time. With a heavy
heart, Genaro was struck by a sense of ending rather than beginning—
on the line of human history that stretched back some tens or hundreds of
thousands of years, depending on where one pegged the creation of the ﬁrst
man. And to his sorrow, he silently prayed for the billions of souls who currently resided on the planet Earth, whose ultimate salvation was his greatest care, for he feared that in this most crucial hour he might fail them as
He and Cardinals Luigi Morricone and Zachary Yamba were the last
to walk into the meeting of representatives from the world’s greatest religions, representing a huge percentage of the entire world’s population. The
pope sat in a high-backed chair (with his cardinals at designated spots
behind the pontiﬀ ) at a huge conference table that had been set up on
the ﬂoor before the altar in one of the most familiar worship spaces on the
FAL L EN MASTER S . 21
planet: the Sistine Chapel. Countless prayers had been oﬀered to heaven
in this sacred space but never had it been the site of such a meeting that
crossed over such ancient and complicated divides— chasms even—
between and among the faiths of the world. Never had there been an event
that would warrant a gathering like this. Until now.
The major religious traditions were represented by nine persons, one
person each for this ad hoc council, called the Council of Faith. “Cataclysmic change is descending upon the earth,” the Holy See had stated in its
invitation to the various religious leaderships. “We invite you to gather to
discuss the opportunities for great change.” Rather a mysterious summons, yet the response had been unanimous. All those bodies who had
been invited had dispatched an ambassador to Rome, for each had held
a piece to the enigmatic puzzle that faced them. The duty to save their followers trumped any conﬂict in ideology.
The Dalai Llama, exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists and one
of the most recognized faces in the world, had ﬂown in from London for
this “summit of summits,” as some in the press had dubbed it. “Enlightenment not shared is not enlightenment at all,” he had said upon his departure from Heathrow amid extraordinarily high security.
A Hindu holy man of Mumbai, India, had provided this insight: “This
is but another turn in the eternal cycle of death and reincarnation. In our
belief, Shiva the destroyer and Vishnu the preserver are forces of dark
energies and light and are the fabric of our universe.”
Representatives of Judaism and Islam, two faiths that had sprung from
the same patriarchal ﬁgure, Abraham, came to sit side by side for this conference of world religions, as had Orthodox and Protestant Christians. The
Tao, the ancient “way” to faith and salvation, was represented as well, as
were Sikhs, who believed in a continual cycle of reincarnation until all beings merged with One God.
Genaro welcomed them to his home and the members of the extraordinary body listened to his words, spoken in Italian and English, with translations provided by linguists brought along for that purpose. Only the
Dalai Lama sat imperturbably alone, a solitary saﬀron-robed ﬁgure among
a collection of clerics vested in the diﬀering styles of their religions.
“Our human situation is being aﬀected, or perhaps I should say aﬄicted,
in a way not seen since some of our most ancient scriptures were written
down by distant ancestors. Both science and religion are reporting strange
phenomena in this age, unlike any in memory. These forces, which may be
called ‘evil’ are manifesting themselves in the lives of many billions here on
22 . J O H N E D W A R D
Earth. Why? Well, that is for us as theologians to attempt to answer. But
even before that, it is our responsibility to act to save our fellow human beings from a dark terror unlike any other known to mankind.
“There have been natural phenomena of late that, in themselves, are not
threatening to the entire world, but taken together indicate the possibility
of malevolent forces at work: earthquakes, ﬂoods, potential pandemics of
disease, even mental instability that manifests itself in man-made catastrophes such as war and genocide. There have always been events that have
created misfortune and disaster for man, but the level of instability has
struck us as something new. Something which may endanger all of humanity.”
Pope Genaro looked around the table that gleamed and reﬂected the
room on its brilliant surface.
“But we do not represent all the faiths of this world. We cannot be universal, by our very nature. Therefore, how can we speak for any who are not
represented here? There must be millions of them . . . ,” stated the imam, a
world-renowned Muslim scholar from Alexandria, Egypt. He spoke the
words aloud, but each of the men at the table—and all were men—held the
same thought in his mind.
“Of course, we can only do our best, both in the name of those of our
own faiths and for all the people of the world. That is what we are called
to do,” the chief rabbi of Jerusalem responded.
The Sikh leader, a tall man in a somber gray suit with a starched white
turban, smiled sadly and said, “All gods are subject to mankind’s ways,
whether they care to be or not. That is, when we choose the path of evil
over the path of good and betray the soul for base purposes, not only do we
ourselves suﬀer, but so does the force for all good in the universe.”
“Let us be faithful, then, to our beliefs and in one another,” the pope
said. “And let us convoke this urgent meeting with prayer. I ask that each
leader present oﬀer a prayer of his choosing, in the words of his faith, to
move our minds and stir our hearts with purpose in this hour. For we each
have been given signs, regardless of our beliefs, and these signs point to a
coming event that threatens the future of man. We may not be able to avoid
this fate, but we must strive to help all of mankind face this crisis.”
Outside Rome, in the Italian countryside, farmers awoke that day to discover that a large meteorite had fallen to earth and scorched their land.
Livestock lay dead throughout a several-square-kilometer area, and crops,
FAL L EN MASTER S . 23
mostly barley and corn, were ruined. Their lives were ruined, as well, with
the loss of half a year’s income and the need to replenish the dead livestock
that would have provided milk and meat for hundreds of families in the
The event made the local newspapers and television news but got little
mention beyond that.