This is the fifth book in the series of young adult science fiction books called TimeRiders. It follows the TimeRiders as they try to fix the contamination created by Project Exodus, which has resulted in a time shift eradicating New York from the East Coast. Project Exodus was a project meant to send 300 Americans along with the US Government's top executive branch back to Roman times, where they would build a society based on American values on top of an already existing civilzation; the Roman Empire. However, Project Exodus goes horribly wrong as half the candidates are lost in chaos space, with the rest arriving 17 years earlier than intended, during the rule of the Mad Emperor Caligula. Nine months during their stay in Rome, the remaining candidates are killed by Caligula, save for Rashim Anwar, whom Caligula imprisons for 17 years. As Liam and Bob are sent back to find the cause, Maddy and Sal are sent on the run from a team of artificially engineered units sent back to assassinate them. This results in all of the TimeRiders winding up trapped in Roman times, with seemingly no way out. Here, they befriend two Roman soldiers, Cato and Macro, and successfully reach Caligula's palace, freeing Rashim, who tells them about a way back to the present. The TimeRiders intercept a younger Rashim alogn with his lab unit SpongeBubba, and both are mapping out the location in which the Project Exodus candidates were originally intended to arrive at. Both Rashim and SpongeBubba are intercepted by the TimeRiders, and taken back to 2001, where Maddy realizes they will have to relocate their HQ, as someone now knows when and where they operate.
| Spoiler warning!|
This article contains plot details about an upcoming episode, book or any other feature of this topic.
In 2001, Sal is deep in thought about the message a dying Joseph Oliveira passed on to her. She thinks about the blue bear and Liam's old tunic from his time on the Titanic, and notes that she saw the very same tunic hanging in a local charity shop and believes that the team has been in the Archway before. A few minutes after, the team has uploaded Becks' chip into the computer system, where Computer-Bob is checking to see if Becks' AI has survived her ordeal in TimeRiders: The Eternal War(Book). Whilst the others wonder if Becks' AI will be ok, Maddy's mind is on the secret encoded inside Becks, a secret which became the source of the Holy Grail, resulted in the creation of the Knights Templar, and compelled King Richard to launch a crusade to retake Jerusalem. A secret which has travelled 2000 years, and is meant for the TimeRiders alone. Maddy goes to meet Foster in Central Park, where she asks him if he knows anything about Pandora or the message in Becks' mind. Foster does not know about any of these, but he does suggest Maddy call forward using the drop-point. The drop-point was an advert in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which the TimeRiders could use to communicate with the agency in the future. The advert must begin with the words, 'A soul lost in time...' and when sent, a copy of the newspaper in the future would experience a very subtle time-shift, which would only change the message on the newspaper. It is completely undetectable, and ensures Waldstein remains undetected by the authorities. After accidentally divulging that there is someone else in the agency, Foster tells Maddy that the agency is just them. Liam, Bob, Sal, Maddy, they are the agency, along with Waldstein. Back in the archway, Liam, Bob, and Computer-Bob are uploading Becks' AI onto a simulation of the chipset inside her head. There, they will see if Becks' AI is still viable. They notice that there is a large amount of corrupted data being uploaded, and Liam almost gives up hope, until Becks sends this message, 'I love you, Liam O'Connor.' Maddy and the others witness the stimulation run a second time, with the same results, but nonetheless, another female foetus is grown, ready for Becks' AI to be uploaded into should it become stable enough.
A very different scene is unfolding in the year 2070, however. Rashim Anwar and his lab unit, SpongeBubba (who is based off the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants) are making their way inside Cheyenne Mountain, a facility located in Colorado Springs. On the way there, SpongeBubba asks why the world wound up the way it is, a dying, resource-depleted world, with the last of humanity fighting over the few remaining oil supplies. Rashim explains that this world is a world where millions, if not billions of people were on the move. Global warming had finally taken root, melting the ice-caps, flooding low-lying land needed for farming. The resulting floods forced many people to migrate away, almost all ten billion of them. Rashim remarks that there were simply too many to sustain, too many mouths to feed. All idel chit-chat stops, however, when Rashim and SpongeBubba enter the facility. It is revealed they are heading underneath Cheyenne Mountain, to a top secret project known only as Project Exodus. Rashim's role is to ensure that everyone travelling back in time translates successfuly in 54 AD, instead of being turned inside out, or worse, lost in chaos space. His role requires a lot of tedious number-crunching, calibrating the squares within the time machine in order to ensure that the candidates translate successfully. Whilst doing so, Rashim begins to think about how the world outside seemed determined to destory itself. North Korea and Japan are at war, and whilst they do not have nuclear weapons, it is hinted there are worse weapons they could deploy. Rashim's own country, Iran, was destroyed after a war with the Arabian Coalition over scarce supplies of drinking water. Iran, Iraq and Israel have become too arid to support life, after they were bombarded by nuclear weaponry thirty years ago, all the way back to 2040. Rashim also wonders how Waldstein successfully managed to build is own time machine and travel back in time successfully, whilst Project Exodus' first candidates were turned into living pate, as they turned inside out when travelling back in time. He also wonders what exactly it was that Waldstein saw which caused him to campaign against time travel so vehemently. An unknown amount of time later, the Project Exodus leader, Doctor Yatsushita, approaches Rashim, stating that they may have to consider advancing the deadline until T-Day. (T-Day is short for Translation Day, the day when Project Exodus transports 300 Americans back in time, to build their own American-based society upon the Roman Empire) Rashim protests, stating that his calculations are nowhere near complete, and that he will need months, not weeks to complete them. He is stopped, however, when Yatsushita briefs him about the Kosong-ni virus, a wild-card weapon created by either the Japanese or North Koreans. He explains to Rashim that the bioweapon is a Von Neumann, a smart virus given genetic instructions, an objective. Kosong-ni is revealed to target humans only, and kills the infected within hours. The virus is also revealed to be airborne, and has already been spotted in Beijing. Because of this, Project Exodus' "sponsors"(e.g remnants of the American government, rich billionaires) must be ready within five weeks. One week later, Rashim is watching a news broadcast from New London, a city located in the north of England. The Kosong-ni pandemic has already spread across the continent of Eurasia, and in New London, it is no different. He sees people fleeing from the toxic spores, some screaming in pain as the virus begins to take hold. That isn't the worst he has seen. 24 hours earlier, the news broadcast showed a little girl, no more than 11 or 12, succumbing to the disease, her left arm dissolving as Kosong-ni growths make their way upwards. She dies, and is liquidized by the virus, creating a new source from which Kosong-ni spores can spawn from. Yatsushita calls Rashim, and as he makes his way over to him, Rashim notices that many of the original T-Day candidates are not here, instead being replaced by several of the rich and powerful, people who have caught wind of Project Exodus, and are looking for a way out. Yatsushita tells Rashim that this project is not what he signed up for, and that he himself will remain here in the Cheyenne facility. He places Rashim in charge of the project, whilst stating that he trusts him far more than any of the elites located here. T-Day goes on as planned, and Rashim, along with the "candidates" travel back in time, but something goes horribly wrong: over half the candidates and equipment are lost in chaos space, although, Rashim and most of the elites, along with a small platoon of US artificially engineered combat units materialize just outside Ancient Rome, 17 years before their original date. Rashim, along with Liutenant Stern (an artificial support unit) run a diagnosis, and check to see if all the group made it through, along with their equipment. The group is hijacked by Vice-President Greg Stilson, one of the elites, who briefs the new civilians on what Project Exodus is all about, telling them that the plan was to build a society based on American values, on top of an already existing civilization: The Roman Empire. The Exodus candidates find out they have arrived within the reign of the mad Emperor Caligula, and formulate a plan to fool him into thinking that they are gods. They head to Rome and storm the Amphitheatrum Statilii Tauri, a public building in which the Exodus group believe Caligula is located at. They are right, and manage to come into contact with the mad emperor himself. Project Exodus is successful in changing history, but not in the way it was intended to; Caligula has the candidates killed after he takes control of the support units. Rashim is the only one left alive, and is imprisoned in the emperor's palace, where he slowly begins to lose his sanity for the 17 years he remains imprisoned.
Meanwhile, back in 2001, Maddy briefs Sal and the others that the agency is just them. She also reveals that it was Waldstein who initially set up the archway, along with creating the TimeRiders. Waldstein knew that secretly, every government would be working on replicating Waldstein's work, so he set us the TimeRiders as his Plan B, to prevent anyone from changing history. Maddy does not tell the team, however, that Liam is slowly dying, or that he and Foster are the same person. Sal mentions that perhaps a pervious team has been recruited before, citing Liam's tunic as an example. Liam and Maddy do not believe her, until she points out that the tunic in the shop, and the tunic in the archway are exactly the same. Later during the day, Maddy sends a message to Waldstein using the drop-point document. She demands to know what Pandora is and whether there was a previous team within the archway before. Later on, Maddy and Sal are in the same shop Sal spotted the similarities between Liam's tunic and the tunic on display here. Sal finally manages to convice Maddy that both tunics are indeed the same, but Maddy also has something to tell Sal. She tells her that Liam is dying, that the corrosive effect of time travel is beginning to age him faster than any of them, but not before adding in that Liam and Foster are the same person. Liam and Bob are having some "bonding time", as suggested by Maddy. Liam and Bob are enaging in conversation, when Liam remembers to turn his phone on. He calls Maddy, and he & Bob rush back to the archway. There, they find out a small time contamination has occured; New York is now under Roman influence, with more time waves ready to come their way and rewrite history. The team finds the source of the contamination: Caligula has survived the assassination attempt that cut his reign short, and went on to rule for 17 more years. Bob and Liam are both sent to AD 54, to find out who or what has caused this to happen. The team each put babel-buds in their ears, devices which allow them to understand and translate different languages. The device can repeat any foreign words or phrases in English, allowing the team to speak the language without having to painstakingly learn it. (The babel-buds, in this instance are used to translate Latin to English, as Latin is the main language in Roman times) After both Liam and Bob are sent to AD 54, Maddy notices the generator is not working properly. Computer-Bob notifes her that some components will have to be replaced, as otherwise, the damaged components may fail during the opening of a portal, meaning Liam and Bob could potentially lose limbs, be turned into pate, or even become lost in chaos space if they step through a portal and the generator fails. Maddy and Sal both head out to a store called GeekMagnet, in which they are able to get all the components they require.
Unbeknowst to them, back at the archway, six support units from the future, four males and two females, have materialized in their base of operations. The support units each give themselves identities to distinguish themselves, and are displayed here in order: Abel (Alpha-1), Bruno (Alpha-2), Cassandra (Alpha-3), Damien (Alpha-4), Elijah (Alpha-5) and Faith (Alpha-6). Abel begins to communicate with Computer-Bob and asks him where the rest of the TimeRiders are located. Computer-Bob denies at first, but when Abel transmits a higher level authority level code, Computer-Bob has no choice but to comply. The units split up, four of them chasing after Maddy and Sal, whilst two remained within the archway with Computer-Bob. It is here that Computer-Bob tries to warn Maddy and Sal about the incoming threat. Out on the streets, Abel, Faith, Damien and Bruno are zeroing in on Maddy and Sal, when suddenly, Faith gets run over by a vehicle. She escapes unharmed, taking a gun from a nearby police officer and firing at Maddy and Sal. The support units are able to intercept the TimeRiders, at least until a much larger time shift comes along, re-writing history and replacing this New York with a new one. Maddy and Sal escape unscathed, and successfully hide from the support units in this new reality. We find out that in this reality, New York never existed, instead being replaced with coniferous woodland. Maddy and Sal then rush towards their headquarters, where they find that there is a fresh pool of blood on the floor. Computer -Bob reveals that he was able to extract both support units situated in the archway, although one support unit was only partially extracted. This support unit (Cassandra) which is missing some of its limbs and suffering from severe blood loss, pulls itself towards Maddy and Sal. The unit tells Maddy that the TimeRiders were their primary target, just before Sal puts Cassandra out of her misery with a wrench. The other units(Abel, Faith, Damien) quickly rush to the archway, but Maddy and Sal open a portal to Ancient Rome, successfully eluding their grasp, but not before Maddy grabs the hard-drive containing the decoded Holy Grail. They escape, but Damien however, manages to partially leap through the portal, getting his legs and one arm cauterized in the process. Abel and Faith ask Computer-Bob where he sent the team, but Computer-Bob lies and sends those units to a random area.
In AD 54, Liam and Bob manage to intercept a horse-drawn cart, and begin to make their way to Rome. Bob briefs Liam about the current time period, explaining that in correct history, this should be the reign of Emperor Claudius, Caligula's uncle, following the assassion of Caligula. Instead, Caligula has survived and went on to rule for 17 more years, even setting up his own religion, with aspects stolen from both Roman and Christian religion. In his last year of power, Caligula mysteriously dissapears, with some believing he has ascended to Heaven to become God, whilst others believe he was murdered instead. Nevertheless, Caligula's rule has resulted in the weakening of the Roman Empire: food shortages, water shortages, and poor living conditions are all too common. The people despise Caligula, but by the end of his reign, his plagiarized religion catches on, and is known as Julianity, after the next emperor's family name. The trident of Neptune is adopted as this religion's symbol, and in the year 345, it become sknown as the Holy Church Juiliani. When approaching Rome, both Bob and Liam notice crucifixes, each with bodies hanging from them, dotting both sides of the road to Rome. A week passes, and Liam is horrified at what he has glimpsed, a Rome which has turned into a slum contaning over one million inhabitants. Gangs (the collegia, as they are known in Roman times) rule the streets, and Caligula has any dissenters executed, as both Liam and Bob witnessed during their stay. It seems that Caligula has disengaged from running his empire, from what they hear, and is instead preaparing for his "ascension to Heaven". They arrive outside of Rome, ready to return back through the time portal, but in this case, Maddy and Sal come through, along with Damien. Bob engages in a small fight with Damien, and the fight is abruptly ended when Maddy grabs Damien's gun, and shoots him three times in the head. Liam briefs Sal and Maddy about the situation in Rome, also including that Caligula has created an orthodox account of what happened 17 years ago which caused history to change. After that, the TimeRiders head to Liam and Bob's residence within the city of Rome, where Liam and Bob remained for a week when attempting to find the source of the contamination. When they reach the residence, they find a commotion has taken place between the landlord and the collegia( whcih means strong-arms). Bob manages to fend off the collegia, suffering a wound to his abdomen which would have been mortal to any other man. Later that night, the TimeRiders receive a visit from a mysterious visitor, who is let in by the landlord. Both reveal their names, and we learn that the landlord is Lucius Cornelius Macro, whilst the visitor is a friend of his, and his name is Quintus Lucius Cato. Cato explains that he is here because some people are beginning to prepare for a change: to forcibly remove Caligula from his seat of power. After a lengthy conversation, Maddy notices that they are wary of Bob, and aks them if they have seen anyone similar. The men both inspect the wound Bob suffered, a wound which would have killed any ordinary man, and tell Maddy that they have seen similar support units: the Stone Men. These units guard Caligula night and day, and can withstand the same damage as Bob.
(It is revealed that the Stone Men are the platoon of support units transported back in time by Project Exodus, but now they are under the control of Caligula. They are led by Liutenant Stern, and cannot be defeated by conventional Roman means.)
The TimeRiders accompany Cato and Macro to the residence of a man called Marcus Cornelius Crassus, one of the last members of the old Roman Senate. It is revealed that Crassus made sure he himself was not involved in the failed assassination attempt on Caligula, and thus avoided execution. The Roman senate was unceremoniously disbanded by Caligula, with severeal members being executed, or worse, thrown to the lions. After it is explained to Crassus that Bob is a support unit, capable of withstanding tremendous damage, Crassus originally believes that Bob is one of Caligula's Stone Men. After it is explained that Bob is not one of them, Cato, Macro and Crassus come to one conclusion; that the TimeRiders come from the same place as The Visitors, the same group of people which cause history to veer off track 17 years ago. They also learn about Cato and Macro's history, how both men first met in the Roman legions, and went on to undego many daring missions across Italy. Over the following days, Crassus and Cato amanged to bring along several of the others conspiring to bring Caligula down; Fronto, a member of Caligula's Palace Guard, along with two more ex-senators, Cicero and Paulus. Once they are all together, the TimeRiders ask about The Visitors. Paulus is the first to reply, and tells the TimeRiders about what happened 17 years ago, at the Statilii Tauri. He recalls the Vistors storming the building and announcing that the Roman gods are a lie, rather, The Visitors stated there is only one God. Paulus also recalls one man telling them the Visitors had arrived to teach them the American way, and it becomes clear that The Visitors are indeed the candidates from Project Exodus. When the conspirators finish their talk, Cato asks Maddy why she and her teammates whisper before speaking. She shows him the babel-bud nestled in her ear, stating that it can translate what he is saying into their language(English). Cato becomes more inquisitive, and so Maddy and Liam decide to tell him about time travel. they first tell him they are from the future, 2000 years later in fact, and that they have come back to correct history after the Visitors changed the timeline. She and Liam explain to Cato about alternate timelines, along with the time waves produced which overwrite reality and leave a new one in their wake. After that, they tell Cato that in the correct timeline, the Roman Empire becomes bigger, stronger, instead of weaker, and that Emperor Claudius is in charge, not Caligula. Under Claudius' rule, the Roman Empire expands, even invading Britain, a land Cato describes as a "miserable wilderness". Cato replies that here, the Roman Empire grows weaker and weaker each day. Food remains in short supply, and Rome's debts grow higher and higher. Civil war was a very high possibility, and could potentially result in Rome's legions fighting each other for control of the city should Caligula be disposed of. And as if that wasn't enough, rival empires such as the Parthians were watching waiting for the moment when Rome's legons were whittled down. Then, they could ransack and pillage Rome to their heart's content.
Meanwhile in the emperor's residence, Caligula remarks on the state of Rome. His mind is focused on the heavens above, with him wondering about his "ascension" into Heaven. He says he would wish good things on the citizens of Rome, showering the city with wealth and ensuring no-one would go hungry again, whilst his enemies would receive unending misery, along with a myriad of diseases and tortures. He wonders why people still doubt that he is the son of God, recalling one occasion where he had over 600 disbelievers' eyes plucked out. Back in the prsent,however, Caligula meets with the support unit Stern, wondering about the unit's origin, whilst also recalling that Stern and his men are not normal. He recalls one incident, where Caligula used one of his Stone Men against a gladiator. The gladiator managed to cut off the unit's hand, but the unit was still able to kill him, crushing his neck. Caligula retires to his residence, but not before stopping and heading into a dark room only he can access. It is revealed that Caligula has been holding the last survivor from Project Exodus (Rashim Anwar) hostage in this room for 17 years. Rashim is imprisoned inside a large box within the room, and is kept muzzled so he cannot regain control of the Stone Men. Rashim calls his muzzle Mr Muzzy, remarking that Mr Muzzy is his tormentor, keeping his mouth open for the insertion of food, but at the same time, rendering him unable to speak. Caligula recalls the day Rashim handed him control of the Stone Men. Caligula had Rashim incapacitated and the rest slaughtered. Caligula notes that the Visitors were not gods at all, rather, they were mortal just like him, seeing as they had to take their equipment back with them in order to survive. He inspects their various tools, even picking up a now-defunct hydrogen cell. Caligula removes Mr Muzzy from Rashim's mouth, albeit temporarily, and tells Rashim it is't too long now before he, the emperor, ascends into Heaven. He also tells Rashim there is no point trying to call to the units, as the doors are locked. This doesn't stop Rashim from calling out to the units, as he shouts 'SpongeBubba' over and over. Caligula also inspects an empty pulse rifle from Rashim's time, recalling a point in time when he asked Stilson, the "leader" of Project Exodus if he could use one of those. Stilson refuses, stating Caligula comes from a time too primitive to understand such things. Caligula is in awe at the man's arrogance, but quickly puts that to the back of his mind when conversing with Rashim. Rashim tells him that his group travelled back to Ancient Rome in order to escape their dying world, passing through a dimension of unearthly white. Caligula mistakes this dimension (chaos space) for Heaven itself and wonders why they didn't remain in Heaven, instead of journeying to his time. In this conversation, Rashim grants partial control of the Stone Men to Caligula, who then orders them to incapacitate Rashim. And so, nine months after the Visitors arrived in Rome, Caligula had the Stone Men sluaghter every last one of them, save for Stilson and Rashim. Stilson was tortured for several days and killed, whilst Rashim was imprisoned within the palace, spending the rest of his days in a cage. Caligula returns back to the palace, where he is informed that the tribune of the Guard (Cato) wished to see him.
Back in Crassus' residence, Cato has developed a plan to mark the beginning of a coup d'etat against Caligula. The plan involves turning two of Rome's elite fighting forces, the Praetorian Guard and the Tenth & Eleventh Legions against each other by telling the Praetorian Guard that the Legions intend to make a move against Caligula, and vice versa. The plan hinges on provoking the Tenth & Eleventh, getting them to march into Rome, but at the same time, the Praetorian Guard must be informed that the Tenth & Eleventh intend to lauch their own coup. Caligula will be forced to order his Praetorians to face the Legions, leaving few troops behind. This will allow the TimeRiders to enter the palace, where Bob can deal with the Stone Men and hopefully get to Caligula and kill him. Cato also mentions General Lepidus, one of the original co-conspirators who shied away from the plot to kill Caligula. Lepidus is revealed to have been correpsonding with Crassus, with the latter offering Lepidus bribes and gifts As the days go by, the plot starts to unfold, and Crassus hands Cato correspondence between himself and Lepidus, stating that in order for the plan to work, Crassus must be caught red-handed. The conspirators note that when the Praetorian Guard march out of the city, there will be riots, as the collegia settle old scores now that the Praetorians have marched out of Rome. In regards to getting the TimeRiders into Caligula's palace, he will take them in as his property for safekeeping. Whilst this is happening, Cato informs Caligula about Crassus and Lepidus' treachery, along with the plot to assassinate Caligula. Caligula is aghast that Lepidus, someone he once thought as faithful, would betray him, but nevertheless, he tells Cato to inform both Crassus and Lepidus that he would like to 'have a little talk with them'. Crassus is the first to be brought up, and it is here that he begins to become a nuisance to Caligula, stating that the gods are nothing more than morality tales, and that Caligula is not the Son of God, as everyone is so keen to believe. Incensed, Caligula stabs Crassus with his own sword. After murdering Crassus, Caligula orders the Praetorian Guard to assemble outside the city gates, ready to re-route the Legions. Cato suggests Caligula take along his Stone Men to successfully destroy Lepidus' two legions, advice which Caligula accepts.
Outside the city, Lepidus is informed that his treachery has been discovered by Caligula. Lepidus realizes that even if he was not directly involved in the attempt to overthrow Caligula, he is still implicated, as he did not inform the emperor when he first received gifts and bribes from Crassus. In his haste, Lepidus orders the Tenth and Eleventh to march on Rome telling them that the Praetorian Guard intend to overthrow the emperor. Whilst that is happening, Cato is designating men to guard the emperor's palace should anyone try to break in, when Caligula suddenyl appears. He tells Cato that he will be leading the Guard against the Legions, and leaves to join the battlefield, along with several of his Stone Men. Cato tells Fronto that if Caligula is victorious, they will be identified as co-conspirators and become dead men. The Legions and Praetorians battle, and after an hour's worth of fighting, the Praetorians emerge victorious. Although Caligula lost four of his Stone Men, the Tenth and Eleventh Legions are no more. After Lepidus divulges the names of the co-conspirators, Caligula kills him, and rushes back to the palace.
Now that the Praetorian Guard have left the city, riots begin to break out. Bob, Liam and Macro are defnding Macro's property from the collegia. They estabilish a crude barricade and hold a strong defensive positon for a bit, beofre being forced to retreat after being subjected to a barrage of projectiles. The group is successful in fending off various groups, but one individual fires a flaming arrow, setting Macro's property on fire. In return, Macro hauls verbal abuse at the assailants. Liam suddenly realizes that Maddy and Sal are located directly inside the burning buildings. Bob heads inside, and is able to retrieve both successfully.
Back in the palace, Cato attempts to enter the secret room in the palace, the one only Caligula is permitted to enter. The Stone Men, however, prevent him from doing so, and after a brief conversation, Cato leaves the Stone Men. He asks Fronto to get the others up to the palace. Once the TimeRiders, along with Macro, are within the palace, Cato takes them to the same room he tries to enter minutes ago, but they are stopped by Stern. Bob and Macro battle with Stern and manage to kill him, but not before he wounds Liam. Whilst Liam is given medical attention, Maddy and the others enter the room, where they discover the Visitors' equipment, along with Rashim. Rashim is freed, whereupon he explains to them about the Visitors and how things went terribly wrong. He also tells the TimeRiders how his younger self came back in time, just outside of Rome, to mark out the location in which the candidates for Project Exodus would arrive in. Suddenly, the two remaining Stone Men burst in, but before they can do anything, Rashim yells out 'SpongeBubba!'. Both Stone Men stop instantly. Whilst that is happening, Caligula's Praetorian cavalry are beginning to gather outside the palace. Cato and Macro, along with Fronto and the skeleton garrison situated within the palace begin to hold them off. When Caligula arrives, Macro hurls a javelin at him and misses. For that, Caligula places a bounty on his head, resulting in him and Macro running back into the palace, with a horde of soldiers on their trail. They retreat back to where the TimeRiders are located, and witness Rashim taking back control of the Stone Men. These two are now instructed that Caligula is not their Authorized User, ensuring that these two Stone Men are now on their side. Rashim also tells them there is a way out; underneath their feet, lies a sewer leading to the outskirts of Rome. Using their swords, the team starts digging, eventually creating a hole big enough for them to escape. Liam, Maddy, Sal, Bob and Rashim escape, whilst Cato, Macro, the Stone Men, along with Fronto and his men, try and buy as much time for the TimeRiders as possible, fending off Caligula's men in order to ensure the TimeRiders escape successfully.The TimeRiders escape and head to the place Rashim told them about outside of Rome. Once outside of Rome, they rest for three days, during which Maddy tells Liam that time travel is killing him, along with the fact that Liam and Foster are the same person. Liam takes the news well, and we learn that he already suspected that time travel was killing him. Sal and Bob return with food and water, which the team consumes before resting. When Sal and Bob are alone, Sal asks him why those support units from the future were trying to kill them. Bob replies that those units came from the same company which created him; W.G. Systems. It is revealed that Waldstein is in charge of this company, and it is heavily implied that he sent the machines back to kill the TimeRiders. Before Bob can expand any further, he detects incoming tachyon particles. Not too soon after, a younger Rashim Anwar and his lab unit, SpongeBubba, along with machinery which allows the Exodus time machine to lock on to that certain location in Rome, materialize. Maddy goes up to Rashim and explains that Project Exodus will fail and wind up altering history for the worse. She then shows Rashim his alternate self, which tells the younger Rashim that the deadline for Project Exodus is rushed forward after a bioweapon is unleashed on the world, the only man-made ELE (Extinction Level Event). After that, Bob recalibrates the time displacment machinery, ready to transport the TimeRiders back to their HQ, along with the young Rashim and SpongeBubba. The old, emaciated Rashim doesn't have too long to live, and asks the TimeRiders leave him here, to enjoy peace for a few moments before he dies. They accept, and leave Ancient Rome in order to return back to 2001.
Back in 2069, Dr Yatushita silently curses as Rashim fails to return back. With the loss of Rashim, Project Exodus has been set back months, if not years, and fears that they will not be able to find a replacement in time for T-Day. He remarks to himself that time travel seems chaotically random, consisting of magic rather than science, before powering down the displacement machine.
In 2001, Computer-Bob receives a tachyon signal including a time-stamp revealing the TimeRiders' current location. He opens a portal, allowing the TimeRiders, along with their new guests, Rashim and Spongebubba to materialize back in the archway. Now that the Exodus contamination has been reoslved, a time wave appears again, rewriting New York and restoring the original timeline. When asked what they should do, Maddy replies that the TimeRiders have to leave immediately.
Someone knows where and when they are, and that means the archway is no longer safe.