The rise of nine, p.35
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       The Rise of Nine, p.35

         Part #3 of Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore
Page 35


  ‘I’m flattered. ’ I try to laugh, but it gets caught in my throat. ‘No, seriously, thank you. ’

  ‘Well, you’re welcome. ’ She’s smiling down on me, and I think she must have been terrified . I was more scared than I’ve ever been just now, and I was born and raised to do this. This is my life. It isn’t Sarah’s, not by a long shot.

  ‘I don’t get something. How did he know so much about you? How could he trick me for so long?’

  ‘They know everything, Six,’ she says, her voice deadly serious.

  I slowly begin to roll out of her lap, to push myself off the ground. I try to ignore my ribs begging me to stay down. ‘What do you mean, everything ? About who? And what do you know? About any of this?’

  Sarah looks away. ‘What little I know, I told them all of it,’ she says after a minute. ‘I couldn’t help it. They kept taking me to that room, strapping me down, and they injected me with drugs. They asked me the same questions, over and over; after a while my mouth moved even though I told it to stop. I just couldn’t stop talking. ’ Sarah puts her face in her hands and sobs. ‘I told them everything, repeating whole conversations word for word. ’

  I sit against the wall and let the pain wash over my body. ‘If John sees Setrákus Ra and believes it’s you, I don’t know what will happen. ’

  Sarah suddenly sounds frantic. ‘We have to get out of here! We have to stop him! Is there any way we can warn John?’

  ‘I don’t know if I’m ready to break out of here. ’

  ‘What? Why?’ she asks, shocked.

  I stagger to my feet, clutching at my ribs. ‘Now that I’ve met Setrákus Ra, I want another chance at him. He let me live, and now, I’m going to kill him. ’ This would sound more lethal if I weren’t swaying slightly, but I mean it from my very core.

  Sarah stands, and I get a good look at her for the first time. Her face is covered in dirt and bruises, her blond hair limp on her shoulders, but she’s still beautiful. The bottom of her red sweater is torn and she’s not wearing any shoes. She’s swaying a bit herself. She stares at me, incredulous. ‘Look at yourself, Six. You’re hurt. You’re really hurt. Do you know what you’re even saying? It would be nuts for you to fight him alone. John will come; just wait for him. Please. He’ll come, and he’ll rescue us, and Sam. I know he will. ’

  ‘Sam’s here? Are you sure? Have you actually seen him?’

  Sarah clenches her jaw. ‘They tossed him in here with me once. He was unconscious, all cut up and bruised. Like me. ’ Then the energy drains out of her and her voice drops. ‘But I know I can’t believe anything I see or hear anymore. ’

  Picturing a bloody Sam in this very cell makes my stomach twist with anger. What happened in that Mog cave? I punch the cement wall, surprised to see it chip away. My strength is returning. No pain. My Legacies are coming back. I look directly into Sarah’s eyes. ‘Sarah, did you turn John in that night at the playground? You need to tell me. ’

  Without hesitation she answers. ‘Absolutely not. I love him. Yes, I was confused about, well, about everything and it was a lot to take in. But I would never betray any of you, especially John. ’

  I see her tear-filled eyes, and know she’s telling the truth. ‘Even though he’s an alien, you still love him? You don’t care?’

  Sarah smiles. ‘I can’t explain it. I can’t explain how love feels to me, how it fills me up inside and keeps me going, but I know that it’s strong and beautiful and I know it’s how I feel about John. I love him, and I will always love him. ’ Just saying the words aloud has her standing up straighter; she looks stronger and more determined.

  Her conviction moves me. I think about what happened between me and John, the kiss and everything. I don’t love John like Sarah does. She clearly believes John is the only one for her, in the entire universe.

  ‘I’ve been having these flashbacks, you know, about our trip to Earth. He and I were always fighting,’ I say, my voice soft.

  ‘You were?’ she asks, hungry for anything I can tell her.

  ‘Well, not really fighting so much as me pushing him around and taking his toys. ’

  We laugh and she takes my hand. I’m sorry she’s here because of us. I’m not going to let her down. She has so much faith in what we do, who we are, I can see it on her face. ‘I’m going to get you out of here, okay? I’m going to get you back to John,’ I say.

  ‘I hope so,’ she says softly.

  ‘And we’ll find Sam and get him out here too; then we’ll meet up with Seven, Eight and Ten, find Five, and we’ll figure everything out as a team. ’ Her hand in mine gives me even more strength, more certainty than ever.

  ‘Hang on. Number Ten? I thought there were just nine of you guys. ’

  ‘There are a lot of things you don’t know, things we’ve learned recently,’ I say, touching the cut around my neck. It still hurts, but feels like it’s already starting to heal. I wonder vaguely if I’m gaining a new Legacy.

  Sarah hugs me, but our moment is brief. The door whips open, and a dozen Mog soldiers march into the room, cannons aimed at my chest.

  ‘Turn invisible,’ Sarah whispers under her breath. ‘Go. ’

  I test my ribs and roll my neck. I feel better than I did five minutes ago. It has to be good enough. ‘No. I’m done running. ’

  The red-haired woman I saw in the garden room limps into the cell. I look at her arm in the sling and the bandages over her cheek, and can’t help but wish I was the one who did all that to her. Anyone who would join up with the Mogs and torture kids in a secret bunker, deserves everything she got, and more. Does she know who the Mogs really are? What they intend to do? The woman purses her pale lips and stares at me. ‘So. You’re the one who will fight Setrákus Ra?’

  I step forward. ‘Yes. Who are you?’

  ‘Who am I?’ she asks, shocked that I would dare to ask such a thing. I guess she isn’t used to people questioning her right to be anywhere, asking her to explain who she is.

  ‘Yeah, you, asshole. ’ Does she have me confused with someone who has any respect for her position? ‘I asked you a question. Who are you and why the hell would you be working with them? Do you know what the Mogadorians are going to do? What their plan is? They will destroy Earth, but only after they get what they want. And you are not only helping them, you are putting out the damn welcome mat! Did they tell you why they’re here? Did you even ask?’ I am furious and desperate; this woman has got to listen to me. She needs to understand what is at stake here.

  Her face remains unchanged. ‘I know all I need to know. They are here because they’re looking for you and your friends. In exchange for our help, they will help us with matters that are vital to our security. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. I look forward to finding that Number Four again, and his freak alien friend. I have first shot at them, and I will take it, with pleasure. ’

  Sarah and I exchange a glance. Alien friend? Who is she talking about? Has John met up with another Garde?

  ‘What things are the Mogadorians going to help you with?’ I ask.

  ‘Well, for starters,’ she says, motioning to the Mog’s cannon, ‘we get these. Thousands and thousands of alien weapons with capabilities impossible to create here on Earth, that none of our enemies have access to. With their technology, the Pentagon will be light years ahead of any other army on Earth. We will be invincible. ’ I’m disgusted and I make sure it shows. ‘Setrákus Ra has also been supplying us with iridium, a chemical that’s incredibly rare on Earth, and we’ve made scientific breakthroughs with it that will make this country billions of dollars. Also, the United States government is very interested in finding other life-sustaining planets, and the Mogadorians have already shared information about that. ’ When she stops talking, she rocks back on her feet, and crosses her arms over her chest defiantly.

  ‘Did they tell you what they do when they find other life-sustaining planets? I’ll tell you what they do. They
destroy them,’ I shout in her face. ‘You picked the wrong side, this time. My friends and I are trying to stop them. ’

  ‘That’s enough. Your presence is requested by Setrákus Ra. This way. Now. ’ The woman moves aside to let me to pass.

  I know I could take this woman and every one of these soldiers. But that would just delay getting to what I really want – to defeat Setrákus Ra. ‘As tempting as it is to kill you all right now, I think I’ll save you for Number Four and his freak alien friend,’ I sneer. ‘If Ra wants to do this now, let’s go. ’ I push past her and walk out of the cell.

  ‘Six!’ Sarah calls after me. ‘Please! Be careful!’

  I walk down the hall, my enemy flanking me. We walk down hallways, through several doors, and after a few minutes, I’m standing inside a huge room. It’s big enough for an army of tanks. It’s also big enough for an epic fight.

  The door slams and I hear it lock behind me. It’s so dark now that I can barely see two feet in front of me, never mind the other end of the room. I walk towards what I think is the center of the room, testing my telekinesis as I go by levitating off the ground. The pain I felt earlier is gone. When I think I’m in the middle of the room, I close my eyes and turn around, feeling the air with my mind. I sense there are about two dozen or so beings silently entering the room. I’m disappointed. I wanted this to be one on one.

  When I open my eyes, they’ve almost adjusted to the dark. I wish I had Marina’s Legacy to be able to see in the dark, but I can make out enough for now. There are Mog soldiers lined up against the back wall. They’re wearing ragged black cloaks and black boots, and whip their swords across their bodies. They’re bigger than most of the Mogadorians I’ve fought before, but I know I can kill them just the same. A door opens behind me, and another dozen soldiers enter.

  ‘Hey! What is this? Setrákus Ra!’ I yell to the ceiling, turning around to make sure the Mogs can all see me and know they do not have some cowering human here. ‘I thought you wanted to fight me!’ A section of the wall explodes in the back of the room, and the Mogadorian leader appears. The three Loric pendants swing from his grotesque neck. I plan on taking all of them back. Setrákus Ra opens his arms and yells, ‘You must first earn the right!’ I guess this is the command to charge, because all at once, the soldiers let out a battle cry, and rush at me. I start at my right and begin to pick them off, one at a time.


  Wind, hot sand and punishing heat, along with a pounding headache, welcome me to our next teleporting destination. I try to shield my eyes from the blinding sun as I lie on my back, recovering. Welcome to New Mexico.

  ‘Oh, yeah,’ Eight groans, but he sounds satisfied. ‘We made it. ’

  I smile but stay where I am to give the pain in my head time to lessen before I try to move.