For Ages
10 to 99

Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox is a part of the The Finniverse series collection.

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Sisters Grimm and NERDS comes a new action-packed middle-grade series with aliens, robots, and kids saving the world!

Finn Foley has a lunchbox, and when he opens it, weird things come out . . . like a seven-foot-tall robot and a strange, blinking device that glues itself to his chest. The lunchbox also opens wormholes--shortcuts through space--that take Finn to the farthest corners of the galaxy. Sounds awesome, right?

Not so much. Rocketing through the cosmos attracts the attention of the Plague, a race of gigantic bugs. The thing on Finn's chest belongs to them--it's the most dangerous weapon in the universe--and they want it back.

To fight the Plague, Finn will need the lunchbox, as well as an unlikely squad of assistants: Lincoln, the bully; Julep, the coolest girl in school; Kate, Finn's unicorn-obsessed little sister; and Highbeam, a robot spy from another galaxy. If they can learn to work together, they just might have a chance, but the bugs are coming, and they'll stop at nothing to get their weapon--even if it means destroying the world.

An Excerpt fromFinn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox

“Well, this got exciting pretty quick,” Dax Dargon said to her robot partner, Highbeam. They were crouched behind a dumpster with shock blasts and sonic grenades exploding in the dead end alley around them. Every Ka-pow! scrambled Highbeam’s digital face. Each time it returned to normal, his frown was bigger.

 

“Never a dull moment with you, Dax,” the robot grumbled as a sonic grenade sailed overhead and crashed into the building behind them. Concrete sprayed into the air.

 

Dax pulled her bandanna over her mouth and nose and waited for the dust to settle. It was tragic what the Plague was doing to her city. Her dad used to bring her here to shop in the street markets when she was little. Now it was a war zone.

 

“You don’t blame me for this mess, do you?”

 

“Let me see. You stole a top-secret weapon from the Plague mothership in broad daylight. Yes, I think this is your fault.”

 

“I didn’t have a choice, big guy. You heard what those guards were saying about this thing.” Dax wriggled out of her pack and dug around inside it until she found the object at the center of all the excitement. It was no bigger than a sheet of paper, thick and made from a hard transparent substance. Inside it, circuitry and lights blinked and zipped around like snow bees. Dax had seen a lot of odd things since joining the Resistance, but nothing like this.

 

“They called it a wormhole generator,” Highbeam grumbled. “And it sounds like trouble.”

 

“They also said it could break the back of the Resistance. The Plague could send troops anywhere in a flash without warning. We couldn’t defend ourselves,” Dax said.

 

“Well, a heads-up would have been nice,” Highbeam said. “Or maybe a discussion about a plan and an escape route. They’ve got us pinned down in this alley.”

 

“Aww, buddy. You sound like one of those boring old robots that putter around the park,” Dax said. “We’re spies. This is part of the job description. What happened to the Highbeam Silverman, who was always ready for adventure?”

 

“I’m not old--but I’d like to be someday! Unfortunately, my kid partner keeps getting us into trouble.” He fired a couple of shots from his hand cannon before ducking back down.

 

“Don’t call me a kid,” Dax hissed, rising to spray the alley with her shocker. “I’m going to be thirteen soon!”

 

“In a year and two months, and that’s looking less and less likely. You noticed the bright yellow warnings painted on the side of this dumpster we’re using as a shield, right?”

 

Dax focused on the words and gasped.

 

“This thing is full of fusion waste! Who would leave this in the street?”

 

“Probably some scavenger trying to sell it. One lucky shot from those soldiers and we’re all going sky high!”

 

“Attention, blue-skinned criminal and robot sidekick!” A commanding voice at the other end of the alley silenced the shooting.

 

“Sidekick?” Highbeam cried. “I’m not a sidekick!”

 

“My name is Major Sin Kraven of the Plague High Guard. You have stolen property that belongs to the armada. We have you surrounded. You cannot escape. I urge you to use your tiny, primitive brains and surrender. If you cooperate, I offer a rare act of mercy.”

 

“This ought to be good,” Dax whispered to Highbeam. She cupped her hand and shouted, “We’re listening!”

 

“Your deaths will be quick. When my people lay their eggs inside your body, you will not suffer. Our offspring will grow inside you, feasting on your internal meats. Once they are strong enough, they will claw their way out of your corpse and join our ranks.”

 

“How is that merciful?” Dax shouted.

 

“We prefer to lay our eggs inside a living person and keep them that way until our hoppers hatch,” Kraven explained.

 

Highbeam cringed.

 

“I’m going to need some time to think about it!” Dax yelled.

 

“You have three minutes!” Kraven said.

 

Highbeam poked his head over the top of the dumpster. “I assume we’re passing on his offer. I count ten soldiers, but I’m sure there are more on the way,” he reported. “Here’s the plan: I’m going to go out there and break some heads. While they’re bleeding all over the street, you take the gizmo and make a run for it. Got it? Good. Demolition mode.”

 

A yellow warning light on the robot’s chest flashed and Highbeam’s head sank between his shoulders like he was an enormous steel turtle. He cracked his robot knuckles and moved to stand, but Dax held his arm.

 

“They’ll blow you apart. We’re going to have to try something else.”

 

“What else can we do? Oh, no! You’ve got that look in your eye.”

 

“What look?” she asked.

 

“The look you give me when we’re about to do something dumb!”

 

Dax dismissed him with a wave of her hand. Her attention was already on the stolen weapon.

 

“Can you link to this thing? Maybe there are some instructions buried inside it.”

 

Highbeam’s head returned to normal. His frown was even bigger, but he didn’t argue. A low humming sound came out of his chest, and a moment later a bell chime told them he had succeeded.

 

“Uh-oh! Dax, this is Alcherian, which means it’s complicated and dangerous. We shouldn’t mess with it.”

 

“Alcherian? Then what the guards said was true,” she said. “When the Plague destroyed Alcheria, they captured scientists, and now they are forcing them to build weapons. This thing must be the real deal. How do I turn it on?”

 

“Dax, you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking, are you?”

 

“I probably am,” she admitted.

 

“Forget it!”

 

“Two minutes!” Kraven shouted.

 

“Highbeam! We’re running out of time,” Dax cried. “Where’s the on button?”

 

“Fine! You have to shake it,” he grumbled.

 

It sounded silly, but Dax did as she was told and watched the sheet unfold in her hands like an intricate origami. It formed a cube, complete with a control panel and a view-screen on one side. A murky red planet floated there, as well as a cascade of information about its atmosphere, population, and vegetation.

 

“What’s this?” Dax said, eyeing it closely.

 

“This thing has info on every known planet in the universe,” Highbeam explained.

 

Dax studied the red planet. It was practically one giant volcano. It wouldn’t work for her plan, but if Highbeam was right, she guessed the arrow buttons under the screen would give her another option. The red planet vanished, and a yellow world covered in endless deserts took its place. It was too close to its sun. The next planet was far too close to the Plague home world. The next was littered with craters and barely had an atmosphere. The next was being dragged into a black hole.

 

“One minute!” Kraven shouted.

 

Suddenly, a tiny blue globe appeared in the screen. It had green continents and wide oceans. There wasn’t much information about it, only that its population was primitive compared to her world. They hadn’t even achieved interstellar travel, but it was on the far side of the universe, in a galaxy called the Milky Way about as far as you could get from the Plague. It was perfect.

 

“How do I log in coordinates?”

 

“Type in the location number on the keypad, but really, Dax! We should not test-drive a technology this complicated. We could end up inside a sun, or freezing to death on an ice planet. Dax? Are you listening to me? No, of course you’re not listening to me.”

 

Her fingers typed in the coordinates. “Target Lock: Earth” appeared on the screen, and a blue button flashed the words “Open Tunnel.” She was about to push it, when Highbeam stopped her.

 

“Whoa! Slow down! You have to log in a specific location,” Highbeam said. “If you don’t, there’s no way of knowing where the wormhole will open.”

 

“Your time is up, blue skin!” Kraven shouted. “What is your answer?”

 

“Sorry, partner. Looks like we are out of time.” Dax pushed the blue button. Her ears were pounded by a strange booming sound, like water rushing through a tube, only louder than anything she had ever heard. A blinding light followed from the top of the box, and for a moment neither Dax nor Highbeam could see or hear anything. When their eyes and ears finally adjusted, they found something strange materializing in front of them. A hole in space hovered above the cube, as if someone had taken a knife and sliced open reality. Inside it was a swirling whirlpool. Stars, planets, asteroids, and comets spun around in it like ingredients in a blender. It was the most beautiful and bewildering thing either of them had ever seen.

 

Unfortunately, the lights and noise alerted Kraven and his soldiers and their attack resumed, only this time with twice the savagery. Debris from explosions rained down, some of it landing dangerously close to the two spies. Whoosh! A grenade hit the ground so close to the dumpster it nearly toppled over onto Dax and Highbeam.

 

“You’ve gone and made them mad, Dax!” Highbeam said, returning fire. “Hop into the hole. I’ll fight them off as long as I can.”

 

“Not me, big guy. You.” Dax reached up to the base of the robot’s spine. There her fingers found a lever that released Highbeam’s limbs. His body collapsed into a pile of parts.

 

“I shouldn’t have told you about the lever,” he moaned.

 

“You’re going on a very important mission,” she said as she hefted one of his legs into the whirlpool. It vanished in an instant.

 

“Dax, wait! The instructions say sending technology into a wormhole is a big no-no. The radiation can damage it. In case you forgot: I’m technology! My circuit board could get barbecued. I could come out missing a leg or even my head! I need my head, Dax!”

 

“You’ll be fine,” she said, shoving his arms into the tunnel. “You’re the toughest robot in the Resistance and the only one I trust to keep this weapon safe. When you get to Earth, take the machine and lie low. I’ll send someone to pick you up as soon as I can.”

 

“Wait! You’re not coming with me?”

 

“I’ve got to stay behind to throw the generator in,” she said as a grenade vaporized a parked transport pod.

 

“Dax, that’s an even bigger no-no! The instructions say so in all caps! DO NOT SEND THE GENERATOR INTO ITS OWN WORMHOLE. It’s serious when it’s in all caps.”

 

Dax picked up Highbeam’s head. She gave his shiny digital face a kiss.

 

“Be safe and with any luck I’ll see you soon. Long live the fight. Long live the Resistance!”

 

“Dax! No!”

 

She hurled his head into the tunnel and watched it sink into the cosmic soup. With explosions growing closer, she scooped up the generator and prepared to throw it in as well, but a shock blast landed mere inches from her and sent her flailing. She crashed hard on the ground, dazed and in searing pain. She staggered to her feet, and BOOM! She was rocked by another explosion. Her brain bounced around her skull. She couldn’t tell up from down, but what she had to do was still clear as daylight. The Plague could not have this weapon. So with all the strength she had left, she threw it. FLASH! Electricity shot out of the wormhole and sent her tumbling. Her back slammed against the fusion dumpster. Agony swam up her spine and into her head. She struggled to stay conscious, and as black spots danced in her eyes, Dax saw the whirlpool shrink, smaller and smaller, until there was no evidence it had ever existed.

 

Enraged soldiers surrounded her. They shoved their weapons into her chest and dragged her to her feet. Sin Kraven pushed to the front and stood so close his face was inches from her own. She tried not to look at him, knowing all her courage would melt away.

 

Dax was a spy. She and Highbeam infiltrated the Plague’s ships and worked side by side with them, pretending to be traitors to their own people, but she never got used to what they looked like: the sharp, spindly limbs, the snapping mandibles, the hard yellow skin as strong as steel. Their wings were huge and agitated, and their hands were nothing more than gnarled claws. But it was their eyes that turned her blood to ice. Huge. Black. And empty. Her nightmares were always the same--falling into the eyes and discovering they had no bottom.

 

“You have one chance to tell me where you sent our weapon, blue skin,” Kraven said as he rubbed his back legs together. It created a snapping sound that rattled her teeth. The rest of his soldiers joined him, creating a deafening orchestra. Even putting her hands over her ears could not drown it out. “Tell me . . . or we will lay our eggs in you while you are still alive.”

 

2

 

“HOW MANY CHANCES HAVE I GIVEN YOU?” Principal Doogan’s meaty fist came down hard on his desk. It sent his World’s Greatest Principal coffee mug skittering across his desk and toward the floor. Finn caught it before it shattered. He offered it back, hoping it might win him some mercy, but no. Mr. Doogan snatched the mug without a thank-you, then cradled it in his hands like it was a precious treasure.

 

“Too many, if you ask me,” Lincoln said. The shaggy-haired boy was slumped in his chair, staring at the dusty ceiling fan above. Finn was stunned. Who would be disrespectful at a time like this? Couldn’t Lincoln see the throbbing red veins on Mr. Doogan’s forehead? The man was about to explode.

 

“Too many is right!” Doogan roared. “You two have been in my office almost every day since you showed up at this school, and to be honest, I’m tired of looking at you. Why can’t you get along?”

 

Finn quietly raged. This wasn’t his fault. He went to class. He did his homework. He kept his head down and he stayed out of trouble, just like he promised. Was it his fault that a psychopath waited for him before and after school to beat him up? The fact that Finn didn’t fight back should have told the principal he was trying to be a good kid, but it seemed no matter what he did, trouble found him. It wasn’t fair.

 

“I think there’s been a misunderstanding, Mr. Doogan,” Finn said. He swallowed his pride and did his best to sound sincere. “Lincoln and I get along great! We’re practically best friends.”

 

“When I found you outside, Mr. Sidana had you in a headlock. He was making you punch your face with your own fist.”

 

“Boys being boys,” Finn said, throwing in a chuckle.

 

“Mr. Sidana, how much of this story is true?” the principal asked.

 

“Zero percent.”

Under the Cover