TimeRiders is the first book in the TimeRiders series, and was written by Alex Scarrow. It follows the adventures of Liam O'Connor, Saleena Vikram, and Madelaine Carter, three teenagers pre-destined from the dawn of time to meet early, untimely deaths. Liam O'Connor should have died on the Titanic in 1912, Madelaine Carter was supposed to die on a doomed plane above America in 2010, when a mysterious old man offers both the chance to escape, but at a cost: they would not be able to return to their lives ever again. Saleena Vikram's supposed "death" was not spoken of in the first book. They all awaken in the Arch under the Williamsburg Bridge in New York in a time bubble running from September 10th, and September 11th. The time bubble resets back to September 10th at the end of the 11th, meaning the TimeRiders will relive those two days, over and over, as long as they remain in the time bubble. The reason why these two days were chosen for the TimeRiders' base of operations is that even if some civillian sees the TimeRiders or any of their equipment, it will all be forgotten when the Twin Towers plummet to the ground. The shock ensures they do not remember what they saw and secures the Timeriders a very acceptable level of Contamination.
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Liam's account is first, and in this scene, Liam helping passengers escape a now sinking Titanic. After giving up the search for any more passengers, he finds that he is now trapped, and will have to wade through water if he has any hope of escaping. He begins to do so, but an old man (who we later identify as Foster) approaches him and tells him he has under two minutes left to live. In that time, the ship will suffer catastrophic, irrepairable damage, and will begin to sink. Liam would have been crushed by the cascading water before he could drown.The old man however, offers Liam a way out. He cautions Liam, telling him that if he does accept, he will not be able to make friends, fall in love, do any of the things ordinary people can do. Instead, he will live as a phantom, and learn about things which can lead a man to madness. The old man says he is only offering Liam a way out, not a second chance at life. Liam accepts and grabs his hand, and suddenly, the floor beneath hin gives way, and he tumbles through darkness.
Maddy's account begins with her retching in the toilet seat. She flushes the debris away, and cleans herself up, inspecting herself in the mirror as she does so. She is describes as a "geek-ette", someone who enjoys messing around with circuit boards, hacking her I-Phone to give herself free Internet access, yet she fears boarding a plane. As she returns to her seat, the same old man grabs her shoulder, and states her name, along with the seat she is booked into(29-D his her seat, if you must know). He also states that she, along with everyone on the plane, does not have long to live. A small explosive charge will detonate in 90 seconds, sending the plane into a steep dive, crashing into woodland. Those still alive after the explosion will most certainly be incinerated on impact. Maddy asks the old man if they could defuse the bomb, but people begin to hear her and start to cause commotion. A stewarddess begins to make her to Maddy and the old man. The old man tells her that he is from the future, also stating that time travel will become possible in 40 years time. As time slowly ticks down, Maddy accepts, and the world turns into a blinding white.
Both Liam and Maddy wake up in a rather grubby room, both in separate bunk beds. Liam and Maddy both begin to talk, and Liam notes that there is another girl with them in the room. At that moment, the old man which rescued them both enters the room with a tray of coffee and doughnuts. Fosters offers them both coffee and tells themabout their respective backstories, how Liam came from 1912 and Maddy from 2010. The girl on the top bunk(who we later know as Saleena) comes from 2026, and Foster's time is unknown. During this scene Saleena Vikram, who should have died in a fire in 2026, wakes up. Foster then starts to explain that they have been recruited by "The Agency", a secret organisation set up to stop people from changing history and making sure that the timeline remains as it is. Foster also tells them about the history of time travel, how it was proved in a theoretical paper in 2029 and was first proven possible in 2044 by Roald Waldstein. They learn that history must always go one way, for good or bad, that history must not be changed no matter what. Not too later after that, Foster discovers that a Seeker is in the Timeriders' Field Office. To avoid the fate of the last team, which was ripped to shreds by the Seeker, the lights are turned off, and the team leaves the Field Office (which they find out is in an archway under the Williamsburg Bridge). They then go to a restaurant for a burger. Liam is amazed by modern New York. Maddy is shocked when she sees the World Trade Center still standing and even more shocked when she finds out it is the 10th of September, just one day before the 9/11 attacks. She questions Foster about this and he explains that they have chosen this point in time because any suspicious activity anyone noticed just before would be instantly forgotten when two planes went flying into the World Trade Center. Foster tells them about Waldstein, how he destroyed 15 years of hard work after his trip in time. Originally, Waldstein intended to see his wife and son one last time, just to say goodbye, not altering the course of time at all. However, he saw something... something which caused him to campaign vociferously against time travel, eventually leading to an international law being passed in 2051, banning the usage of time displacement machines. It was obvious to anyone that governments around the world would secretly be working on their own machines, to be the first to have the ultimate weapon, control of time itself. Foster also introduces the team to their final member, an artifically grown support unit, a "meat robot". This unit contains a tiny sillicon wafer inside its head that can contain more information than 100 libraries stacked with books. The unit is birthed and the team are given some time to bond with it.
Whilst all that is going on, something very different is unfolding, in a very different New York in 2066. Here, instead of a bustling metropolis, New York isdying, waiting for the last vestiges of man to leave. Paul Kramer is here, along with a team of elite commandoes, ready to change history. He and his team are heading to the Natural History Museum, in search of Roald Waldstein's first time machine, located deep under the museum grounds. Kramer and his cohorts are getting their equipment into the museum. Kramer begins to worry slightly that he is wrong, and that there is no time machine inside, but a voice inside him tells him to trust his instincts. The men eventually break their way into the museum, triggering an alarm somewhere. The security guards inside are then taken hostage, He sends one guard, Bradley Malone, outside to give the police their "demands", also instructing him to tell the police that the museum's contents would be destroyed if the police didn't comply with their demands. The men carry the equipment down to the basement, whilst the police begin to gather outside. When the men enter the basement, Kramer searches for Waldstein's original time machine, finding it in a box labelled CRM-309-1567-2051. Inside the museum, Kramer and his men finally begin to send equipment back in time to their pre-destined location. A firefight breaks out between Kramer's men and the police, with several of Kramer's men taken down, yet still buying Kramer enough time to send the last of the equipment back. Now, people can be sent through, and Max, one of Kramer's men, goes first. Already, some of his team travel back in time, as the firefight continues to rage. Most of his team, including Kramer, safely head to their location in time, not before destorying the time machine with a grenade, to ensure they are not followed.
Meanwhile, in 2001, the team are getting to know and bond with, their support unit. They argue for a bit over what name to give the unit, but eventually, they settle on Bob. Now, after that has all been properly settled and the team know about time travel and their resources, their training can properly begin. Sal is first up, and Foster tells her that her duty is being the team's "observer". Her job is to get to know the area she is in, and look out for any subtle changes in the area. Maddy's role is the "analyst", and her role involves her using the computer system back at the arch to zero-in on where and when history is being changed. This way, the problem can be pin-pointed and solved as soon as possible. Liam is the team's agent, and he is the one who has to journey through time along with Bob in order to carry out these changes. The team carry out their first exercise, with Foster, Liam and Bob deliberately travelling back to the 22nd November,1963, in Dallas, Texas, America. Maddy and Sal do not know where they are going, so Maddy will have to pin-point where and when in history they are, and Sal has to detect any changes which have rippled down to 2001. Liam, Bob and Foster change history by preventing Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating John F Kennedy . The world is changed dramatically, albeit for a short time. In this alternate timeline, this world is driven to reach out into space. The USA, the Russians and Chinese are all working together on a massive space programme to Mars. A geo-stationary space station has been built and a small outpost has been built on the moon, along with supplies sent ahead to Mars for the people travelling there. Maddy pin-points where the source of the change is, and successfully brings back Liam, Foster and Bob. Later on, as the team are enjoying time after their first training session, Foster tells Maddy about the corrosive effects of time travel, how it can age a person and kill someone eventually. He tells her that Liam is going to die eventually, but that she shouldn't tell him now, rather, she should wait, and let him experience a bit of history first.
Meanwhile, Kramer and his men have now travelled back in time to the 15th April, 1941, outside Obersalzberg in the Bavarian woods. Unfortunately, two of Kramer's men, Tomas and Ethan, have somehow merged together when heading back, imploding on each other, killing both men in minutes. Only 17 men had survived the trip back, but Kramer eventually begins the assault on Obersalzberg. Armed with technology from 2066, his men manage to fight their way into Der Kehlstenhaus (The Eagle's Nest), but several SS Leibstandarte detachments were now engaging in a firefight with Kramer and his men, slowly picking the men off one by one. Kramer and the last of his men try to break the stalemate, and charge into the room in which Adolf Hitler and his generals are hiding. Then, he tells Hitler that his plans to invade Russia will result in him losing the war. He offers Hitler intelligence on what his enemies are doing, along with advanced weapons technology, if he calls off the men outside.
Sal is walking along outside in New York, when she experiences a time shift. She opens her eyes, and sees that New York has been changed drastically, with none of the earlier features from the correct timeline existing. Rather, a large marble structure exists where the Twin Towers stood, and everyone wears a red armband, with the uroboros logo on it. Back at the base, the TimeRiders deduce that in this alternate timeline, the Nazis won the Second World War , and then went on to conquer America. Maddy looks through the official government website for this timeline, and the team decide to send Liam and Bob back to September 1956, where the new timeline begins. Liam and Bob both travel back to this alternate 1956, just outside the White House, where a very different scene unfolds; America is being invaded by the Nazis, and armed with superior weapons technology, the Nazis have pushed the Americans to make a last, yet feeble, stand inside the White House. Liam and Bob both try and find out what has happened, but a Nazi officer instructs Bob(who is disguised as a soldier) to dump Liam with the rest of the American prisoners. Liam is then carried away with other prisoners to a concentration camp, where he remains for 5 months. Bob's intelligence develops broadly at this point, where the organic module in his "brain" rewrites mission protocol, and Bob's primary objective is to rescue Liam O'Connor. Bob raids several concentration camps, in search of Liam, and in doing so, inadvertently creates a resistance movement which given enough time, could destabilise Kramer's regime.
Meanwhile in Das Mutterschiff (the mothership hanging above Washington DC) Kramer is shown an object found outside the battlefield: two corpses, both fused together by a time portal. Karl Haas, Kramer's second in command, believes the result of this to be nothing more than one of their new pulse bombs. Kramer agrees, but mentions the idea that someone may be after both of them. Kramer suggests creating a Unity Day, to purge all history before 1956, not only to make sure that no-one from the future can trace them, but also to create a new beginning for the American public, to be rid of a thousand years' worth of history and start anew. The voice inside Kramer's head states that perhaps this will be enough. This same voice also leads Kramer to believe that someone or something is after him, for deliberately editing history, and tells him that perhaps it would be kinder to end the world now, instead of letting the world die slowly, as it did in his timeline. Kramer spends the following weeks creating a weapon of mass destruction. This consists of an atom bomb wired up to a mechanism he created which magnifies the bomb's power indefinitely, creating a field of gamma radiation which could kill all life on Earth. When Karl Haas learns of this plan, he tries to stop Kramer, but Kramer has him shot before he can stop him. Now truly alone, Kramer sets off the bomb... and the world turns white.
Back in 2001, Maddy and Foster both experience another shift as Sal is out. They open the door and find New York is an apocalyptic wasteland, devoid of all life. Sal narrowly escapes the new mutated creatures which lurk outside, safely escaping back into the shutter, Foster killing a few of them with his shotgun. They escape back to the archway, and deduce that it was perhaps a nuclear war which has resulted in New York, possibly even the whole world, being destroyed. The creatures outside, they would be the grand-children of the first survivors, with the eldest being able to remember some form of language. The team - or what's left of them eventually step out again, in order to harvest fuel for their generator back in the base. They manage to get the fuel, and escape back to the archway with the fuel, and manage to power their generator. Later on, Maddy realizes that Liam and Bob will have attempted to communicate with them via the Natural History Museum's guest book (the team went there earlier, during the training session, and Liam signed the guest book there). The three of them, Maddy, Sal and Foster, head out into the ruined wasteland once more, towards the Natural History Museum. After a few hours searching inside, Maddy finds the guest book Liam has hidden, along with him and Bob's exact geo-coordinates. Unfortunately, it turns out the creatures have been following the group, and so, Maddy, Sal and Foster rush back to base. In the process, they do not come out unscathed; Sal is snatched and taken away by the creatures. Only Maddy and Foster successfully make it back to base, where the generation has slowly been charging. Now, all they had to do was wait before they could open a window for Liam and Bob. Minutes pass, and their worst fears are realised: the creatures have now found their base, and slowly begin to hack away at the walls. Foster hurriedly opens the portal, allowing Liam and Bob to return. Bob springs into action immediately, killing several of the creatures, and driving the rest away. Only after the creatures are gone can Liam and Bob share the information they gathered.
The team sets a portal back to April 15, 1941, hours before Kramer makes his trip back in time. Liam and Bob arrive in the woods outside Obersalzberg, mere seconds before Kramer and his team arrived. Bob attacks Kramer's team, taking out several members in seconds. However, he suffers catastrophic damage, and is taken down, albeit temporarily. Liam then tells Kramer he was sent back to stop him from changing time. Kramer retorts that in his timeline, the Earth is dying, species are wiped out, and humanity is in danger of becoming extinct, and asks Liam why anyone would want that world. Liam tells Kramer about the world he will eventually create if he is allowed to change time, a world not dying, but already dead, an irradiated landscape, with little, if any, wildlife. Kramer hesitates, and in that process, he and the last of his cohorts are shot dead by Bob, who has little time left to live. He instructs Liam to destroy the advanced equipment with a nearby grenade satchel, and then to take out the microchip embedded in his cranium. It is a messy business, but Liam secures the chip, and travels back to 2001, with hsitory now set on its original course. Bob's AI is now uploaded onto the computer system inside the arch, and thanks to the timelines re-aligning, Sal is also returned. She will have no re-collection of what has transpired however.
When walking through Central Park once more, Foster tells Maddy that every second he stays inside the arch, he begins to die slowly, what with the corrupting effect of the tachyon particles on his body. Outside he will have weeks, if not months to live. He wishes Maddy good luck, as he leaves towards his destination. Maddy returns to base, remarking that, " Someone got to eat the mouldy muffin, even if it went out of date in 1834