The rise of nine, p.37
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       The Rise of Nine, p.37

         Part #3 of Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore
Page 37


  Nine ducks into the backseat of the car and throws our Chests into the sand. Opening his, he pulls out the string of green stones and the silver staff, and as he jogs backwards towards the chaos, he yells, ‘You wait for the others. BK and I will be right back!’

  I shout back, ‘Don’t look like you’re having too much fun! And make sure you don’t blow up the entrance to the military base!’ A helicopter swings in from my right, and just as I yank on its nose with my mind, something rips into my left leg. I fall headfirst into the sand, blinded by pain. It feels all too familiar and I roll on the ground screaming at the top of my lungs. I know what this means. A scar is searing itself into my leg. Another member of the Garde is dead.

  Everything stops. The thought of another one of us dying sweeps through my body and I’m paralyzed by grief so deep it feels like I’m sinking into the sand. There is one less soldier to reclaim Lorien, one less soldier to fight to save Earth and every living thing on it. Two missiles slam into our car, blowing it to bits.

  Gunfire rains down on me and just in time my bracelet expands into a shield. I take some solace in the fact that my Inheritance is in tune with the dangers that face me – although I don’t know why it didn’t protect me from the first onslaught of gunfire. The bullets are hitting close and constant. When I finally manage to examine the new scar wrapped around my ankle, I’m shocked to see two gaping bullet wounds instead. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to be wounded and bleeding. I’m so relieved that it’s not another scar that I don’t even care that my hands are covered in blood. As I apply pressure to stop the bleeding, the desert goes strangely silent. My bracelet retracts.

  I manage to flip myself over and look up. Standing over me are three teenagers. The boy is tall and tan with curly black hair, and the two girls hold Loric Chests. I recognize the boy immediately from my visions. He nods and smiles, saying, ‘Nice to see you again, Number Four. I’m Eight. ’ Before I can respond, he disappears.

  One of the girls is short with auburn hair and tiny features. She looks no older than twelve, and I know this must be Number Ten, the Garde from the second ship. She drops the Chest and kneels by my side. The other Garde, a tall girl with shoulder-length brown hair, sets her Chest down and, without saying a word, kneels beside me as well and lays both her hands on my wounds. An iciness rushes over me and my body convulses on the desert floor. Just when I think I am about to pass out from the pain, it’s gone. I look at my ankle and see my wounds are completely healed. It’s amazing. The girl stands, offers me her hand, and pulls me to my feet.

  ‘That’s one hell of a Legacy you’ve got there,’ I manage to say.

  ‘John Smith. ’ She’s staring at me and looks kind of starstruck. ‘After all this time, I can’t believe you’re standing here in front of me. ’

  I’m about to respond, but over her shoulder I catch sight of a missile screaming towards us. I shove the girls to the ground, falling on top of them, and a dune behind us erupts like a volcano, sending a sand cloud high over our heads. When it dissipates Eight reappears next to us.

  ‘Everything good here? Everyone ready to fight?’ he says.

  ‘Yeah, we’re good,’ the taller girl says, nodding towards my leg. Ten had said she was with Seven and Eight, so this must be Number Seven. Before I can introduce myself properly, Eight disappears for the second time.

  ‘He can teleport,’ says Number Ten, smiling at my look of wonder. I can hardly believe that so many of us are finally together. I smile back at her.

  In the distance, I can see Eight again, fighting alongside Nine and Bernie Kosar. They wreak havoc on each approaching vehicle; flipping and disabling heavy military equipment like cheap plastic toys. Nine’s glowing red staff slices open the underside of a low-flying helicopter. Eight teleports next to a black Humvee and flips it over with his hands. Two helicopters swing low and collide into a fireball.

  A new sense of urgency comes over me to get to Six as fast as I can. ‘So I’m guessing you’re Seven and Ten; what can you do?’ I say as I find our rifles in the sand and hand them each a gun.

  ‘You can call me Marina,’ the girl with the brown hair says. ‘And I can breathe under water and see in the dark and heal the wounded. And I have telekinesis. ’

  Call me Ella, I hear Ten’s voice say in my head. Aside from my telepathy, I can change ages.

  ‘Awesome. I’m Four, that nut job with the long black hair is Nine, and the beast is my Chimæra, Bernie Kosar. ’

  ‘You have a Chimæra?’ Ella asks.

  ‘I don’t know what I’d do without him,’ I say. What’s left of the brigade finally separates, and a dozen vehicles bounce off the road and race towards the three of us. A small plume of smoke escapes from the top of one of the vehicles, and I turn the rocket it just fired around with my mind, slamming it into a sand dune. The other trucks and SUV s keep speeding ahead.

  I start picking up pieces from Nine’s destroyed car and whipping them towards the oncoming brigade. I launch tires, doors, even a mangled seat at them. Marina does the same, and we’re able to stop three or four vehicles from advancing. Still, there are a half dozen or more to deal with.

  Suddenly Eight, Nine and BK pop up in front of us. Eight lets go of Nine’s hand and reaches forward to shake mine. ‘Number Four. ’

  ‘You have no idea how happy we are that you guys are here,’ I say.

  Nine shakes Ten’s and Seven’s hands, and says, ‘Hello, ladies. I’m Number Nine. ’

  ‘Hi,’ Ten says. ‘You can call me Ella. ’

  ‘I’m Number Seven, but I go by Marina,’ she offers.

  I wish there was time to talk to these people I’ve waited so long to find, to hear their stories, to know where they’ve been hiding, to know their Legacies, and what’s in their Chests. But there are more helicopters on the way.

  ‘We can’t stay here and defend this same piece of desert forever,’ I say. ‘We have to get to Six!’

  ‘Let’s take out these bad boys,’ Nine says, pointing to the oncoming cloud. ‘And then we can find Six and get on with it. ’

  We all turn to watch the approach. Several new helicopters now dot the sky. I look over at my fellow Garde, and each one looks ready to fight. We’ve never had so many of us together. Never before have things looked so possible. After all this, we’re never splitting up again.

  ‘They’ll just keep coming,’ I say. ‘We should just go get Six. ’

  ‘Okay, Johnny. The tunnel is that way,’ Nine says, pointing behind us. ‘I’ll take up the rear and deal with anything that needs handling. You know, snap a few necks, shake things up a bit. ’

  Those of us with Chests pick them up. I take the lead, heading in the direction Nine pointed. I scan for traps and move everyone towards the five-pronged cactus. Seven and Eight are on my heels, with Ten close behind them. There is a steady stream of gunfire behind us as Nine does his thing. He sounds like he’s having a party with himself back there, hooting and hollering. Only he would consider this fun.

  We pick up the pace and don’t stop running until we get to the cactus. Nine gleefully fires shot after shot while Eight and I try to deal with the prickly plant, the only thing that stands between us and where Six is being held. The map showed that the tunnel is right where the cactus stands. Finally, we manage to blow it to pieces using our telekinesis. Beneath it is a thick brown door with a metal handle in the middle of it. As I stand there looking at the entrance to the tunnel, the other Garde by my side, I remember what Nine said earlier: ‘I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. ’ We’ve all been waiting for this – waiting for the moment when we’d find each other, when the nine of us would rise up and defend the legacy of Lorien against the Mogadorians. As it turned out, all nine of us didn’t make it, but I know that the six of us who are left, as well as the addition of Number Ten, will do whatever it takes to survive what’s to come.


  An enormous Mog charge
s at me, gleaming sword swinging. I duck under the blade and connect my fist with his throat. He drops his weapon, gasping for air. No sooner has the metal clanged to the ground than I pick it up and behead him. A cloud of his ash engulfs me as three more charge. The ash hides me. I crouch low, slicing Mog legs off at the knees as soon as they approach. When I stand, another massive Mog tries to get me from behind. I backflip over him, driving my sword through his midsection as I land. I step through his cloud of ash to find myself surrounded by a dozen more. I don’t see Setrákus Ra.

  I turn invisible. After ripping through another round of Mogs, I look again for Setrákus Ra. I see him at the far end of the room and don’t hesitate. I run straight at him. More Mogs appear; I lose count of how many. I leave them all a pile of dust. When I’m within thirty feet of Setrákus Ra, he raises a fist and points it at me, almost as if he can see me. Blue electricity shoots from his hand and crackles along the ceiling of the room and I feel myself turn visible. Once again, he’s taken away my Legacies. I knew this could happen, but I feel a pang of loss anyway. Still, I’m ready for whatever he has for me.

  Soldier Mogs come at me from all sides, but I just keep moving towards Setrákus Ra. When a Mog steps into my path, I rip my sword through his neck. Another grabs me from behind and I cut off his arm. Another comes screaming towards me and I shove my sword through his midsection. At this point, I’m so focused on where I will ram my blade through Setrákus Ra’s neck that I barely notice killing off the Mogs.

  The next thing I know, he’s right next to me and he grabs my neck. He raises me up with one hand until my feet are dangling off the ground and once again our faces are only inches apart.

  ‘You fight well, little girl,’ he breathes into my face. I wince from the stench.

  ‘Give me my Legacies back and you’ll see how well. ’ My voice is strangled.

  ‘If you were as strong as you think you are, I wouldn’t be able to take them away in the first place. ’

  ‘Don’t give me that, you coward! If you’re so sure you can take me, why don’t you do it? Show me how big and tough you are. Give me back my Legacies and fight like a man!’ I shout.

  His voice echoes as he bellows, ‘You use your powers, and I’ll use mine!’

  He tosses me back into the middle of the room, but I barely notice the pain of the impact when I hit the floor. My sword clangs to the ground and skitters away. A soldier sends his sword spinning at me at high speed. My first instinct is to try to stop it with my mind, but my Legacies are still gone. Even so, my strength and reflexes are with me, full force. I am going to kill Setrákus Ra, with or without my powers. I reach out with both hands and slap them over the oncoming blade, trapping it inches from my chin. The next second I’m tackled around the waist and, as I fall onto my back, I rotate the sword between my palms and sink it into the attacking Mog. I’m covered in a blanket of ash as I hit the ground. More Mogs come. I’m destroying them with their weapons, and the justice of that is awesome. I feel stronger with every one I reduce to nothing. I’m also more pissed off. If I have to go through every Mog on Earth to get to Setrákus Ra, I’ll do it.