Nines LegacyPittacus Lore
She pats the bed and I sit down next to her. I can tell she’s been trying to work out what I’m doing here, why I arrived in such a state.
“Tell me the truth,” she begins. “Did you run away from home?”
“Kind of,” I reply, a little embarrassed. I lay back on the bed, draping an arm over my face. Maddy lies down next to me, trying to look at me.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I do. But how much can I tell her?
“I got in a fight with my uncle. ”
“Because of the car?”
“Yeah. Well, not really. That was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s been building up for a while. ”
Maddy makes an encouraging noise, and I realize that she’s holding my hand.
Then it all comes pouring out of me.
“I feel like my uncle has my entire life mapped out. Like every decision that affects me I just have no control over. And then when I do try to act on my own, something horrible happens. Like last night. ”
I think about the bruises on Maddy’s shoulder. As if sensing my guilt, she gives my hand an encouraging squeeze.
“I want to get away from everything. From my entire life. But I feel like any decision I make, I’ll just end up regretting. ”
I lift my arm from my face and squint at her in the darkness.
“Does that make any sense at all?”
I think I see tears in Maddy’s eyes. She nods her head.
“Yes,” she says quietly.
We lie on her bed, holding hands. Eventually, just like it did in the Lecture Hall, my mind shuts off. I don’t want anything more than this. I have to figure things out with Sandor tomorrow, but for tonight, this is perfect. Normal.
We fall asleep.
At some point, I feel Maddy get out of bed and leave the room.
I linger in that space between being asleep and awake, vaguely aware that it is morning. Maddy’s bed is insanely comfortable and I don’t want to get up. In my dreamy state, I let myself wonder how many days Maddy’s parents will be out of town. Maybe I can stretch this vacation from responsibility out a little further.
There is a shuffling next to the bed. Probably Maddy returning.
A set of fingers touch my arm. They are strangely cold.
My eyes snap open. Two thin, pale men stand over me, both of them with their jet-black hair shorn close to their skulls.
The Mogadorians have found me.
Almost more frightening than the pair of ugly faces glaring down at me is the empty spot in the bed next to me.
Maddy. What have they done to her?
A surge of fear breaks over me. These Mogs might be able to capture me, but they can’t actually hurt me. Not when I’m protected by the Loric charm. Maddy, on the other hand—they could do whatever they want to her. For a moment, I hope this is some really intense nightmare. When they make a grab for my arms and legs, working in tandem to pin me down, I know it’s real. I squirm away from the one grabbing my ankles and kick him in the chest with as much strength as my still-groggy body can muster. The Mog goes crashing backward into Maddy’s desk, knocking through her things. Her purse goes tumbling to the floor, spilling its contents next to a newly broken swimming trophy. When the Mog tries to regain his feet, he ends up shoving Maddy’s laptop to the floor as well.
I’ve made a mess of her room. I’ve made a mess of her life.
The other one’s gotten hold of my wrists and is pinning me to the bed. He grunts as I thrash against his grip, his face close enough that I can smell his sour breath. His face is close enough, in fact, that I can head-butt him.
The blow caves in the Mog’s nose. His grip on my wrists loosens and I’m able to wriggle free. I bring my legs up, doing a backward somersault. My feet hit the wall and just like that my perspective shifts, the anti-gravity Legacy kicking in. I’m eye level with one of them even though our bodies are perpendicular, and I punch him in the face.
Both Mogs are taken aback that I’m suddenly running across the ceiling. Good. That should buy me a second or two. I need to find Maddy and get us out of here. I wonder if she keeps an emergency bag hidden somewhere, but then I realize that keeping a bag of road supplies handy isn’t at all a human thing to do. I think about grabbing her purse, but when I see the contents spilled out of it onto the floor, dozens of plastic IDs with her photo smiling up at me—why does she have so many IDs, anyway? I wonder—I know there’s no time. Sandor will just have to make her a new identity on the fly.
I kick open her bedroom door from the ceiling, leaping over the uppermost part of the doorframe as I go. There’s another Mog waiting outside, but he didn’t expect me to come from above. The ones behind me shout a warning at their friend. Too late.
With a roar, I grab the surprised Mog under the chin with both my hands. Then I jump from the ceiling, simultaneously pulling back on his head. The physics are impossible. I can hear bones popping inside the scout as I spike his head into the ground, his forehead touching the floor a few inches from his heels.
The Mog disintegrates into a cloud of ash. The pictures of Maddy’s family that line the hallway are covered in dust. I feel guilty once again. Maddy’s home felt so perfect when I arrived last night, and now, by bringing the fight here, I’ve roped her and her perfect family into an intergalactic war. Great.
I run back up the wall, onto the ceiling, and sprint toward Maddy’s living room, screaming her name. The two Mogs from the bedroom chase after me, one clutching his broken face.
There are three more of them in the living room. Two of them flank the couch where Maddy sits with her head in her hands. I can’t tell if she’s hurt or crying or both.
“Maddy!” I shout. “We have to run!” She flinches at the sound of my voice, but otherwise remains still.
The third Mogadorian stands in front of the apartment’s door. He smiles when he sees me. It’s a sickening expression; his teeth are gray and rotting, pointing in all the wrong directions. This one is larger than the others. He must be the leader. A wicked-looking sword dangles from his hip, but he makes no move to reach for it. He seems content to just block our only exit.
He doesn’t realize that there’s always another exit when you can walk on walls.
I stoop down and, with a shout, tear the ceiling fan at my feet from its moorings. I wish I had my pipe-staff, but this will have to do.
With the exception of their leader, the Mogadorians have all converged on me. I jump off the ceiling with the fan in hand, bringing it down on top of the closest Mog’s head. The wooden fan blade snaps in half as it splits his skull. His body immediately decomposes into ash, mixing with fan fragments on Maddy’s carpet.
Two down, four to go.
I spin in a circle, swinging the remains of the fan around as I do. My assailants are all forced back a step as I gather momentum. I let the fan loose and it goes flying between two Mogs. They smirk, thinking I’ve missed them, but they were never my intended target. Behind them, the living room window shatters, glass and pieces of wood spraying into the street below.
There’s our exit.
One of the Mogs manages to wrap his arms around me from behind. Another—the one whose nose I broke—forgets the rules and hauls off to punch me. A warm sensation spreads across my face as a fresh bruise spreads across his, staggering him. I elbow the other Mog in the gut, breaking free.
“Maddy!” I shout, making a bull rush toward her. One of the Mogadorians tries to cut me off. I drop my shoulder low, like I would to duck under a heavy bag in the Lecture Hall, and drive into his knees. The Mog flips over me and goes smashing through a coffee table.
At the door, I hear the leader quietly chuckle. I’m not sure what’s funny about his squad getting their asses handed to them. At least he’s a good sport.
I grab Maddy by the shoulders and pull her to her feet. Her hands fall to her sides and I
can see that her face is ashen. Her eyes are red-rimmed and distant, totally checked out. I don’t even want to imagine what the Mogs did to shut her down like this. She’s deadweight in my arms.
“Come on!” I shout, shaking her by the shoulders.
And then something strange happens. I feel energy welling up in my core and rushing out through my limbs, fingertips tingling. Maddy must feel something too—a rush, a burst of energy—because her eyes snap into focus.
“What—what are you doing?” she says in a shaky voice.
I don’t know how I know, or even exactly how I did it, but I’m certain that a new Legacy has just presented itself based on the feeling coursing through me. “Just trust me for now,” I say. “Go with it, okay?”
Taking Maddy by the hand, I run toward the nearest wall. The Mog with the broken nose tries to cut us off, but I knock an end table into his legs, upending him. When we reach the wall, I feel that rush again, and know instinctively that I’ve extended my antigravity Legacy to Maddy. That must be what I felt just a second ago—I now have the ability to share my powers with someone else, but I have no idea how long it will last. I kick out, still holding her hand, and feel the axis of the room shift as I run up the wall. At first it feels like Maddy’s just going to let me drag her but then she follows, defying gravity a few steps behind me. I smile to myself as she lets out a gasp, not quite believing what she’s doing.
“Almost there,” I shout over my shoulder.
I lead us toward the window. Escape is only a few feet away. I realize that we aren’t being chased anymore. Are they letting us go?
Suddenly Maddy plants her feet. I jerk to a stop, still holding her hand. I turn to face her, expecting one of the Mogs to have grabbed her.
But she’s just standing her.
“Maddy?” The sight of her, eyes downcast, face ghostly pale, doesn’t make any sense to me. Something tells me I should run, but I can’t bring myself to let go of her hand. I look down and see a taser in a white-knuckled grip in her free hand. Where did she get that?
“I’m sorry,” she says. And then she tases me. The electric current surges through us both. We fall off the ceiling, both of us spasming, bouncing hard off the floor.
The Mogs descend on us.
I come to in the back of a van. I’m seated on a bench, my hands bound behind me, my ankles similarly secured. I can tell that we’re traveling fast. My spine bounces uncomfortably against the van’s steel wall.
Maddy is seated across from me. The look of shell shock has returned to her face. She keeps her eyes pinned to the van’s floor. They haven’t even bothered to tie her up. It’s starting to dawn on me why that is, but I put it out of my head. I’m not ready to think about it now.
Next to Maddy is the huge Mogadorian from the apartment. He studies a small object, turning it over in his thick hands.
It’s my iMog.
The Mog notices that I’m awake and watching him. His lips peel back and I’m forced to endure his sickening smile up close.
“Cute toy,” he says, holding up my iMog. The screen is littered with red dots. “Too bad it didn’t do you any good this time. ”
He crushes the device between his hands, dropping it mangled to the van floor.