The rise of nine, p.27
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       The Rise of Nine, p.27

         Part #3 of Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore
Page 27


  When the soldiers are only a few feet away from us, the ground below our feet starts to tremble and quake. I try and hold on to the wall, but I can’t keep my balance. Next thing I know, a tremendous boom shakes the opposite end of the arena and pieces of black rock rain down on us. Nine dodges a large boulder that slams into the wall behind me, leaving a giant hole that leads to the outside. Looking through, I can see blue skies.

  From the swirling dust and flying debris a large stage rises out of the explosion. There, in the middle, is Setrákus Ra. Like an evil rock star, I can’t help but think. The purple scar around his neck burns brightly above the three blue pendants on his chest. To my horror, the moment he appears, my fire goes out. I try to illuminate my legs with my Lumen, but my palms suddenly won’t light. Setrákus Ra slams the end of his golden staff with the moving eye onto the ground and roars for silence. The soldiers in front of me snap to attention, turning from me and Nine to him. One by one, they rest their weapons at their sides.

  ‘All of you have been chosen to end this fight!’ Setrákus Ra yells. ‘You will go forth and you will destroy the Loric children. When they are dead, you will bring me their pendants and their Chests. You will crush their human friends. You will not fail me!’

  The Mog soldiers cheer and raise their fists in unison.

  Setrákus Ra slams his staff down on the stone floor with another thundering bang. ‘Mogadore will rule this galaxy! Everything, on every planet, will be ours!’ The soldiers cheer and wave their weapons in the air.

  ‘Together, we will fight. I will fight with you. Together, we will win this battle and annihilate all who live on Earth!’

  I try again to light my Lumen but it still doesn’t work. Then I try to lift a large sharp stone at my feet with my mind to launch at Setrákus Ra. It doesn’t budge. My bracelet shield has retracted and shows no sign of kicking into action. My Legacies – and my Inheritance – have left me.

  The soldiers have turned back around and once again aim their weapons at us. Without our Legacies, we’re sitting ducks. We have to get out of here.

  ‘Nine! This way!’ I yell.

  Finally, this seems to get through to him. He whips his head around and looks at me. We move towards the hole in the wall. Standing in a ray of cold sunlight at the lip of it, I peer down into a valley, thousands of feet below. I look over my shoulder; there are Mog soldiers charging at us.

  ‘We’ll walk on the side of the mountain,’ Nine says. ‘Here. Take my hand. ’

  I grab his hand. We’ve only taken a single step down the side of the snowy mountaintop when we realize Nine’s Legacy has failed him too. Instead of feeling the mountain beneath my feet, there is only air. We’re falling. I look over at a shocked Nine, his long black hair whipping all around his face. Below us, two dark doorways are approaching fast. I prepare myself for a painful impact, my stomach doing backflips as I fly through the air. To my utter amazement, I go headfirst through the door on the left and I keep falling until I find myself in a dark tunnel alive with booms of thunder, cracks of lightning. The whispering starts again, and as the tunnel turns to green to blue and back to black, the hoarse voice I heard when the vision began speaks again: ‘New Mexico. ’

  My eyes snap open and I sit up, my face damp with sweat. I rip off the sheets that cling to me. New Mexico. I leap up and charge down the hall towards Nine’s room, determined to convince him once and for all. If I have to fight him again, so be it. I will keep fighting until I win.

  I stop in front of Nine’s door and turn on my Lumen, needing to confirm that my Legacies really haven’t abandoned me. I knock and push the door open. I’m surprised to find Nine sitting up in bed with his head in his hands.

  ‘Nine,’ I say, flipping on the light. ‘I’m sorry, I know a deal’s a deal and you did beat me. But we have to go to –’

  ‘New Mexico. I know, Johnny. I know. ’ He shakes his head. I’m not sure if he’s trying to wake up or come to grips with his sudden reversal. Probably both. ‘Just let me wake up a bit. ’

  ‘So, you’ve reconsidered?’

  He plants his feet on the floor, one at a time. ‘No, I haven’t reconsidered. But when you’re falling to your death off a mountain because your Legacies don’t work and some ghost keeps repeating “New Mexico,” you take the hint. ’

  ‘You had the same vision?’ I ask. The comfort I felt when I saw Nine – it was because he was really there. It dawns on me that Nine and I have a connection and I should give him more respect than I have been. I have to stop seeing him as an adversary. Our lives depend on it.

  Nine pulls on a shirt, and gives me a condescending look I know well. ‘No, you idiot. Haven’t you figured it out yet? I didn’t have a vision too. We were in the same vision. It’s been happening all week. Get a clue, would you?’

  I’m flustered, and I don’t hide it well. ‘But whenever I talked about them you blew them off. You blew me off. You kept saying they’re just dreams and all that. You could see how the dreams have been tormenting me, Nine! You’ve been acting like I’m nuts for taking them seriously!’

  ‘First of all, you believe you’re Pittacus Lore, so technically you are nuts. Second, I wasn’t messing with your head. I did blow the visions off at first; mine and yours. Thought they were bullshit. When Setrákus Ra asked me to surrender, just like he asked you and that other kid, I figured the visions were a form of mind game or some trick, perpetrated by the Mogs. I didn’t think we should trust them; I definitely didn’t think we should do anything they suggested we do. In fact, I thought the safest bet was to do anything but what they wanted. But this time . . . ’ Nine pauses. ‘This time, it felt like a warning. A warning we should take seriously. Now, I’m pretty convinced that there is some serious shit about to go down, Four. ’

  As relieved as I am that he has finally decided to listen, I’m frustrated it took so long. ‘That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! Okay, then, let’s go! Have you thought about how we’re going to get there? Oh, man, please tell me you and Sandor have your own helicopter or airplane tucked away somewhere!’

  ‘Sorry, dude, they were on our wish list. ’ he yawns and stretches. ‘But I do have a car in the parking garage. And I love to drive. Fast. ’

  Nine and I grab as much as we can from the weapons room, stuffing two large duffel bags full of rifles, handguns, and grenades. I pick up a rocket launcher but Nine says it won’t fit in the trunk. We need the remaining space for ammo. Next, we race to the surveillance room to grab the tablet.

  Nine sits down and starts punching keys at one of the computers. ‘I have to shut this sucker down. Wouldn’t want any of it to be useful to someone who isn’t welcome. Do me a favor. While I’m dealing with this, check on the Garde with that tablet thing. ’

  I press the blue circle in the upper corner and wait. I see our two radiating blue dots in Chicago. Then I see one in northern New Mexico, and there’s still one in Jamaica. I wait a few seconds for the other three to appear, but they don’t.

  ‘Um, Nine? I only see four,’ I say, my voice rising in panic. ‘There’re only four blue dots!’

  He rips the tablet out of my hand. ‘Let me see it. They must somehow be off the grid,’ Nine says. He doesn’t sound so sure of himself all of a sudden. He presses the green triangle and the green pulsing dots show up on the map in New Mexico and Egypt, just like before. ‘At least the missing three didn’t take one of the ships. ’

  I look closer and press the blue circle again. I realize the blue dot in New Mexico is now at the exact same spot as the green dot. ‘That Garde in New Mexico is on top of the ship, if that is a ship. ’

  ‘Hope whoever that is knows it would be one lonely flight,’ Nine says. I shake my head at him and look back at the screen, trying to figure out what our next move should be.

  Then it hits me. ‘Wait. The government is involved in all this somehow, right? What else is in New Mexico? Area 51 ! Is that where this green dot is? The m
ost well-known place for UFO sightings?’ It’s all starting to come together.

  Nine pulls the keyboard closer and starts tapping even more quickly. ‘Cool your jets, cowboy. First of all, Area 51 is in Nevada. Second, we aliens know that place is just a decoy. It’s a meaningless airplane hangar, give or take. ’ A map of New Mexico appears on the main screen and Nine zooms in on the northern half. ‘Okay, wait a second. ’ He looks from the tablet back to the computer screen. ‘Now this is interesting. You weren’t that far off, after all. We may not be headed for Area 51 , but we are going someplace just as secret. ’

  ‘What do you mean?’ I ask, while I wonder why I’m always playing catch up with this guy.

  Nine pushes his chair away from the desk with an annoyingly satisfied grin on his face. ‘Holy shit. It all makes sense now. ’ He stabs the screen with his finger. ‘In this part of New Mexico there’s a town in the middle of the desert called Dulce. Is any of this ringing familiar? No? Dulce, as in the infamous underground Dulce Base, run by the one and only U. S. government. That must be where our ship is. Now I’m positive those are our ships, blinking away on that screen! In their perfect wisdom, the government feeds the rumors about Area 51 so all the UFO freaks stay away from the real deal in Dulce. ’

  I can’t help but smile. ‘So, now we’re going to an underground government base?’

  ‘I certainly hope so,’ Nine says, shutting down the computer. He practically takes a bow, so pleased with himself for figuring all this out. ‘Although it’s supposed to be insanely secure and completely impossible to get into. And that’s why it’s the perfect place to hide our ship. ’

  ‘Or to hide the random aliens you find during the course of your travels,’ I add.

  It feels as if everything has been turned upside down since I woke up. We quickly get moving, piling the weapons, our Chests, and the supplies in the elevator. BK barely squeezes in with us as the elevator doors close. Nine surprises me with how gentle he sounds when he addresses the closed doors, ‘You were a sweet home, Chicago. I hope I see you again. ’

  We descend rapidly. ‘Hey, man,’ I say. ‘Remember, our real home is so much cooler. ’ He doesn’t say anything, but I see his shoulders relax.

  The elevator doors open into an underground garage. We pause and carefully look around before we start to unload. With the coast clear, Nine and I throw the bags over our shoulders and BK follows. As we turn a corner, I see we’re headed for a car hidden under a dusty tarp. After the luxury of the apartment, I can only imagine what must lurk beneath it. I can picture a yellow Ferrari, or something equally flashy. Or maybe it’s a white convertible Porsche or even a black Lotus.

  Nine must have read my thoughts. He winks at me and yanks the tarp off to reveal our ride. There, in all its glory, sits an old, beat-up, beige Ford Contour. Not exactly the pimpedout ride I was expecting, but bling is now the least of my concerns; this thing doesn’t look like it’ll even start.