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The Legacy Chronicles - Into the Fire

Pittacus Lore



  Title Page

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Excerpt from Generation One

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  About the Author

  Books by Pittacus Lore

  Back Ad


  About the Publisher





  Sam looked at Six, a worried expression on his face. Moments ago, they’d discovered that the pilot of the jet taking them to the Human Garde Academy in California had vanished into thin air. Now, the plane’s controls were locked. And if Sam couldn’t fix them, the flight was going to end much sooner than expected.

  He closed his eyes and concentrated—hard—on connecting with the plane’s flight navigation system. His mind reached out, searching. He sensed a vague buzzing, like voices coming from far away. He tried to reach them, but couldn’t make sense of anything that was being said.

  “It’s like they’re speaking a foreign language,” he told Six, his voice tight with frustration. “Right when something starts to make sense, the language changes. The messages are all scrambled.”

  This had never happened to him. Ever. He could always connect with a machine’s internal circuitry and talk to it, tell it what to do. Now, though, he found nothing. It was as if the plane’s memory had been completely erased. Or he had been locked out. He attempted once more to reach the plane’s electronic central nervous system.

  “Well?” Six said.

  Sam shook his head. “Nothing.”

  “Nothing?” said the girl with turquoise-colored hair standing behind Six. “Translation—we’re going to crash.”

  “We’re not going to crash, Nemo,” Six said sharply. She looked at Sam and lifted her eyebrows, silently asking, Are we?

  “Of course we aren’t,” Sam said, trying to sound confident even as the plane’s nose suddenly dipped and an ominous popping sound came from the engine on the right-hand wing. The Gulfstream listed, then seemed to drop more quickly.

  “Go strap yourself in,” Six ordered Nemo. “Max and Rena too. Now.”

  Sam sat down in the pilot’s seat. Six took the copilot’s position.

  “I think we’re going to crash,” Sam said quietly.

  “All right,” said Six. “Plan B.”

  She took out her phone and dialed Peter McKenna, the man for whom the pair had recently started working, investigating Garde-related incidents. When McKenna answered, Six said, “We have a little problem.” She explained as quickly as she could what was happening.

  “You’re going to need to switch to manual control,” McKenna said calmly. “I’ll walk you through it. Start by disabling the computers completely. They’ve been compromised.”

  Step-by-step, he took Six and Sam through the process of turning off the plane’s electronic systems. “Sam, can you control the plane’s mechanics now?” he asked.

  Sam reached out, this time with his hands. He gripped the plane’s yoke and pulled back. He sensed the plane adjusting, and then the nose lifted.

  “It’s working,” he said. He looked over at Six and grinned. “Looks like all those hours I spent playing Birds of Steel will come in handy after all.”

  “Don’t get too comfortable,” McKenna said through Six’s phone. “This is the easy part. You’re still going to have to land her. We’re going to set a heading for Petaluma Municipal Airport. It’s a little less than an hour until you get there.”

  Another popping sound came from outside, and the plane shuddered.

  “Something is happening with the engines,” Sam said. “Something not good. We might not have an hour.”

  “Then let’s get started,” McKenna said.

  After running through the procedure with them until both Sam and Six could recite the steps from memory, McKenna signed off to call the airport and make arrangements for their arrival. “I’ll call back when I’m done,” he promised.

  “I assume this means we’re not crashing?” Nemo said. She and Max were standing in the open cockpit doorway. Behind them, Rena peered over their shoulders with a worried expression.

  “Nope,” said Sam. “Well, probably not.”

  “Too bad,” Nemo said. “I was kinda hoping we’d get to use the inflatable slide.”

  “I don’t think this plane has one of those,” Max said seriously. “Are you sure everything is okay?” he asked Sam.

  “Absolutely,” Sam assured him.

  “So, what happened to that Kirk guy?” Nemo asked.

  “Good question,” Sam said. “We haven’t had a chance to think about that yet. You know, what with all the not-crashing and everything.”

  “Did you see what happened?” Six asked Nemo.

  Nemo shook her head. “I went to ask him if I could have a soda,” she said. “I couldn’t find him anywhere. He was just . . . gone.”

  “People don’t just disappear from planes while they’re in the sky,” Max said firmly.

  “Maybe he jumped,” Rena suggested. “He could do that, right?”

  “Theoretically,” Sam said. “But we’d know if a door had been opened.”

  “Maybe someone like Ghost came on board and took him,” said Nemo.

  “Could they really do that?” Rena asked.

  “I don’t know. Maybe,” Six said. “Teleporting to and from someplace that’s moving is difficult. Doing it from seven or eight miles up? While traveling six hundred miles an hour? It seems impossible. I’ve never seen anyone do that.”

  “What other explanation is there?” Sam said.

  “How about we figure out what happened to James once we’re safely on the ground,” Six suggested. Looking over her shoulder at Nemo, Max, and Rena, she added, “You three go sit down.”

  “Okay, Mom,” Nemo said sarcastically. “Come on, guys. Let’s get out of here before she makes us clean our rooms.”

  “I think I like her,” Sam said to Six as the three retreated to the main cabin.

  “Don’t tell her I said so, but I think I do too,” said Six.

  “Probably because she’s a lot like you,” Sam suggested.

  Six shot him a glare. “Just fly the plane,” she said.

  Twenty minutes before they were scheduled to arrive in Petaluma, McKenna reconnected via Six’s phone. “Everything is set,” he told them. “Weather is calm. They’ve cleared the runway. Emergency services are standing by.”

  “Emergency services?” Sam said.

  “Standard procedure in situations like this,” McKenna said. “You’ll be fine. I told air traffic control that I’ll talk you through it. Now let’s fire up the plane’s EVS. It will help you land in the dark.”

  Fifteen minutes later, as the plane skidded to a stop on the tarmac, Sam breathed a sigh of relief. “You were right,” he told McKenna. “That was nothing.”

  “Except for the part where the landing gear is on fire,” Six remarked, looking out the window as a fire truck, its lights flashing, raced towards them.

  Not long after, they were allowed to exit the plane. At the foot of the stairs were two familiar figures: Dr. Malcolm Goode and Nine. Sam embraced his father, who hugged his son tightly and said, “Not bad for a first landing.”

  “Don’t I get a hug?” Nine asked Six.

  “Don’t you need two arms for tha
t?” Six replied.

  They both laughed as Six wrapped her arms around him. “It’s good to see you,” she said.

  “Aww,” Nine said, squeezing her tightly. “You missed me.”

  Nine let go of Six and turned to the three young teenagers standing together and watching the reunion. “You’re not wearing uniforms, so I’m guessing you’re not the cabin crew,” he said. “That means you must be Nemo, Rena, and Max.”

  Nemo only grunted, but Max rushed forward and held out his hand. Sam, watching, thought that the young man acted as if he were meeting a favorite celebrity. He also couldn’t help but notice Nemo reacting to Max’s enthusiasm with distaste.

  “Come on,” Nine said after shaking Rena’s hand as well. “We’ll ride back to the HGA. You all must be exhausted. McKenna and I have arranged for some people to look over the plane and see what they can find out.”

  “HGA?” Nemo said. She glared at Sam and Six. “We were supposed to be going to New York. You said—”

  “This wasn’t the plan, Nemo,” Sam interrupted. “Not at first, anyway. But then we got some new information.”

  “And then Kirk disappeared and we were going to crash,” Six added with less patience. “You think we planned that?”

  Nemo shook her head and said nothing.

  “Are we good?” Nine asked.

  “Yeah,” Sam said. “We’re good.”

  They walked to the parking lot, Nemo silently bringing up the rear.

  “A van?” Six said when she saw the vehicle Nine was leading them to. It had the Human Garde Academy logo painted on the side.

  “What?” Nine said as he slid the door open. “It’s perfect for taking the kids to soccer practice and picking up groceries.”

  The ride to the Human Garde Academy took almost ninety minutes. It was close to midnight when they arrived, and Max and Rena were already asleep, their heads tilted to the side. Nemo was hunched down, her head covered by her hoodie; but given how suspicious she seemed to be of everyone, Sam suspected she was wide awake, watching everything that happened.

  “We’ll put you up in the dorms,” Nine said as he pulled the van into a parking spot. “Tomorrow, you can have the full tour. Oh, and we can talk about who it was who tried to kill you.” When no one laughed, he added, “Seriously, you couldn’t be any safer if you were locked inside a vault. Someone would have to be insane to try to mess with you while you’re at the Academy.”

  “Unless it’s someone at the Academy who’s trying to mess with us,” Nemo said under her breath.

  “Sam, you can bunk in my place if you want to,” Dr. Goode said.

  “That would be nice,” said Sam. “We can catch up.” He turned to Six. “Do you mind keeping an eye on these three?” he whispered.

  “No problem,” Six said. “But next time, you get to babysit the kids while I go out with the girls for drinks and boy-watching.” She squeezed his hand. “Go on. I’ll see you in the morning.”

  Nine escorted Six and the three teenagers to the guest dorms, while Sam walked with his father to one of the town houses that acted as faculty housing.

  “It’s nothing fancy,” Dr. Goode said as he opened a door and motioned for Sam to step inside. “But it’s all I need.”

  Sam sank wearily onto a couch while his father took a seat in a chair. “So,” Dr. Goode said. “Anything exciting happen lately?”

  Sam sighed. “It’s been a long couple of days,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that a week ago, Six and I were sleeping in a tent and not worrying about anything. Then again, I guess that’s kind of par for the course when it comes to Garde life.”

  “Never a dull moment,” his father agreed. “And things are good with you and Six?”

  “Yeah,” Sam answered. “They are.”

  “You sure?” his dad pressed.

  “No, they’re great,” Sam said. “I’m just not positive we’re totally on the same page right now about what we’re going to do. You know, with the rest of our lives.”

  “It may not seem like it, but you’re still a teenager, Sam,” his father said, laughing. “You have a lot of time to figure that out.”

  “I know. It will be fine.”

  “I was surprised when Nine told me you and Six were coming. He didn’t say why, though. What’s going on?”

  Sam didn’t know how much Nine actually knew about the situation either and found himself wondering what he should—or could—tell his dad. What he and Six were doing for McKenna was supposed to be a secret. Not even other Garde were supposed to know about it. That had changed now, but how much? Sam felt weird keeping information from his father, but he also didn’t want to put him in the middle by having him know more than Nine might.

  “We’re following up on leads about kids with Legacies,” he said, keeping it vague.

  “Like the three you brought with you?”

  Sam nodded. “What about you?” he asked, changing the subject. “Is everything going all right for you here?”

  “It’s great,” Dr. Goode said. “I love working with the kids. We’ve got a diverse group. Lots of different Legacies.”

  Sam yawned. His father laughed. “I know it’s not as exciting as jetting around the world,” he joked.

  “I’m sorry,” said Sam. “I haven’t gotten much sleep lately, and—”

  “Let’s get you to bed,” his father said, standing up. “I’ve got a guest room, although I mostly use it as a library. Sorry about the boxes of books.”

  He showed Sam into the room, which was indeed filled with cardboard cartons. His dad cleared three of them off of the bed. “Bathroom is down the hall,” he said. “Get some sleep. Nine will probably try to have you up at dawn for a morning swim.”

  “He’s on his own for that,” Sam said. “I didn’t bring my swimsuit.”

  “Good night,” his father said. He paused in the doorway. “It’s really great to see you, son.”

  “You too,” Sam said.

  Minutes later, he was asleep.

  Much too soon, Sam was awake again as the smell of coffee filled his nose. He opened his eyes. Six was standing in the doorway, a cup in her hand.

  “Rise and shine,” she said.

  “I’ll rise,” Sam said, sitting up. “But I think shining will take a little longer. What’s going on?”

  “Rena, Nemo, and Max are getting a tour of the Academy,” Six told him. “Nine is waiting to talk to us.” She handed him the coffee. “Maybe this will help.”

  Minutes later, the caffeine coursing through his system, Sam walked into Nine’s office with Six. “Wow,” he said when he saw the large, light-filled room. Its windows looked out onto a grassy lawn, and beyond it the Pacific Ocean was visible in the distance.

  “Not bad, right?” said Nine, grinning. “You sure you two don’t want to rethink taking staff positions here?”

  “We’re good,” Six said. “This is okay, but our new place has a penthouse view. Plus, you can get takeout in ten minutes. Here, we’d have to wait at least, what, two hours?”

  Nine raised an eyebrow. “Sounds fancy,” he said.

  “Speaking of our new home,” Sam said, addressing Six, “Have you spoken to McKenna this morning?”

  “I did,” she replied.

  “Any sign of James?” Sam asked.

  “No,” said Six.

  “I had Lexa and some of her people look over the plane,” Nine said. “They found a device that was scrambling the signals to and from the onboard computer. That’s why you couldn’t interface with it. It’s a sophisticated piece of equipment. We’re reverse engineering it now.”

  “People?” Sam said. “We?” He looked at Six again.

  “We’re working together with Nine and his . . . people,” she said, sounding unenthusiastic. “On this, anyway.”

  “McKenna thought it would be a, how did he put it? A mutually beneficial arrangement,” Nine said. “He likes big words, doesn’t he?” He leaned back in his chair. “So, could this Kirk guy be in
on what happened?”

  “I guess anything is possible,” Sam said. “But I really doubt it.”

  “Why?” said Nine.

  Sam shrugged. “I just don’t think he would do something like this.”

  “Okay,” Nine said, sounding dubious. “Then why would someone take him? He doesn’t have a Legacy, does he?”

  “No,” Sam said.

  “So why take him and leave five people who do? What reason could someone have for wanting to kill the rest of you?”

  “Maybe they weren’t trying to kill us,” Six suggested. “Maybe they were just trying to scare us.”

  Nine considered the suggestion. “Again, why take him then?”

  “Because he was the pilot,” Sam said. “Isn’t that reason enough?”

  “They could have just killed him,” Nine said. “Are any of the three kids healers?”

  “No,” Sam told him. “But there was a healer in New Orleans. They got her already.”

  “They,” said Nine. “You’re assuming the same people who took her sabotaged the plane.”

  “Who else would it be?” Six countered.

  “The Foundation,” Nine suggested.

  “I think I’m missing something here,” Sam said. “What’s the Foundation?”

  “The people who took our student Taylor Cook and the other healers you were investigating,” Nine told him. “That’s what they call themselves. You really need to get up earlier. Six and I already talked about this.”

  “From what you told me, the Foundation sounds way more sophisticated than what Dennings is doing,” Six said. “I mean, they might be connected somehow, but at the moment I think we should assume they’re two different problems. The immediate question is what we’re going to do with these kids.”

  “What do you want to do with them?” Nine asked. “Technically, they’re supposed to come here.”

  Six snorted. “Since when have you been concerned with technicalities?”

  “Are you suggesting that I lack respect for law and authority?” asked Nine. “I think I’m offended.”

  Six sighed. “You know how I feel about this,” she said. “What am I supposed to do, tell them that I agree with them but have to play by the rules? None of them want to be here.”

  “Well, Nemo doesn’t,” Sam reminded her. “I don’t think Rena feels that way. And I think Max could easily change his mind if—”