The rise of nine, p.39
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       The Rise of Nine, p.39

         Part #3 of Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore
 
Page 39

 

  ‘For me to be you, you must stay alive,’ he says in my voice, ‘but only for now. ’ He lifts a palm into the air and, as if there was one magnet in the ceiling and another in my now-black hand, I shoot off the ground, slam against the ceiling, and dangle there, fifty feet off the floor. I feel a painful buzzing in my brain. I try again to call for Ella in my head, but I can’t even hear myself think. When I touch my free hand to the one stuck to the ceiling, it, too, turns black. The heavy stiffness that weighed down my hand is now spreading. The thing I can move at this point are my eyes. My entire body is now black. Black rock.

  29.

  Once again I take the lead. Marina trails me and a growling Bernie Kosar runs alongside her. Ella still has my Chest, with Eight and Nine following close behind. My fire has made me invincible, and my flames instantly consume every Mogadorian soldier that comes charging around a corner or through a door. The fire has not only taken over my body, but also my mind. I have never felt so confident, so determined, so ready to defeat our enemies before.

  ‘She still hasn’t responded to me!’ Ella yells as we enter another hallway filled with sirens and flashing lights. ‘I don’t know if she can hear anything I’m saying. ’

  ‘Well, she isn’t dead yet because we don’t have any new scars,’ Nine says, sticking out his leg as if to admire it.

  My fire is getting higher and wider, licking the walls and ceiling of the corridor as I pass through. It’s hard to describe my energy, how I am barely able to contain it, like I might explode with it. I’m ready to fight Setrákus Ra and I know the others feel the same way. Nine and Eight are like wrecking balls swinging down the hall, pounding soldiers into oblivion, bouncing from one Mog to the other, and Marina is fighting fearlessly, using all means available to toss soldiers into the air. Ella, with fewer powers revealed, looks on a bit enviously as we swat away the soldiers. I wish I had the time to stop and tell her how vital she is, how important her ability to communicate telepathically was to our all coming together. How she, as the youngest Loric, represents our long life and the power of our Garde. We’re ready to take back Lorien and that’s only possible because of everything we bring to the fight, each one of us. The hallway splits off and we need to quickly decide which way to go. Separating is never going to be an option again.

  ‘Okay, Fire Boy, which way?’ Nine asks.

  Marina steps up and says, ‘This way. ’ Her ability to see in the dark is better than the limited view my Lumen offers, so I extinguish my fire and we all follow her to the left.

  Marina doesn’t even hesitate at the entryway of a long wide room filled with tall brown columns. Neither do the rest of us. We have our weapons ready when we first hear the noise of people marching in on the far end of the room. I nudge Marina’s arm. ‘Hey, can you see who that is?’

  ‘Yeah. I’m guessing they’re government soldiers. They’re definitely not Mogs. There are a lot of them. I don’t know, twenty, thirty? There could be more than that. ’ She turns and moves towards them. We all do the same. We can toss them aside easily, twisting their guns with our telekinesis. We blow through the big room, pass another corridor door, and turn left, where we find a dozen government soldiers dressed in black, protecting a heavy metal door. As soon as they see us, they step into formation to fully block the passageway and start firing. As if prearranged, Marina and Eight both raise their hands, stopping the bullets as they are fired, inches away from their barrels. Immediately, Nine joins the action and uses his mind to rip the guns out of the soldiers’ hands and lifts the soldiers up, dangling from the domed ceiling. We each grab a gun.

  Nine wedges the tip of his staff into the doorframe they were guarding and rips it off its hinges.

  Behind the doorway is another hallway, this one lined with doors on both sides. Nine runs ahead to each of the doors and briefly presses his ear to each one.

  He reports one unmanned control room after another. Further down the hall we find what look like empty prison cells. I wonder if we’re getting closer to finding Six. She could be behind any one of these doors.

  I spot a trail of blood in front of one of the doors. From ten feet away I rip the door out of its frame. The cell is pitch black inside. Before I have a chance to use my Lumen, Marina pushes by me. ‘There’s a person in here!’ she cries.

  We hear a whimper from the back corner and I flash my lights into the darkness. There, scared and dirty, is someone I thought I would never see again. Sarah. I fall to my knees, my lights glowing dimly. I open my mouth to speak, but only a squeak comes out. I try again: ‘Sarah. ’ I can’t believe she’s sitting in front of me. I can’t believe we found her.

  After a quick glance up at me Sarah hugs her knees to her chest and looks afraid. Afraid of me. She drops her head into her knees and sobs. ‘Please don’t do this to me, please don’t trick me anymore. Not like this. I can’t take it, I can’t take anymore. ’ She’s shaking her head over and over. I don’t think she’s even registered I’m not alone. I can feel everyone standing behind me, cloaked in darkness.

  ‘Sarah,’ I whisper. ‘It’s me, John. We’re here to take you home. ’

  Nine hangs back, but I can hear him say to someone, ‘So this is the famous Sarah; girl looks good, even dirty. ’

  Sarah pulls her legs to her chest even more tightly and peeks over her knees. She looks so vulnerable and scared; I just want to scoop her up. But I move slowly, ready for anything. This could be a trap. I haven’t come this far only to act without thinking. When I touch her shoulder, she screams in panic. I can feel everyone behind me flinch with the sudden noise, the sheer terror in her voice.

  She presses her back against the wall, her hair sticking to the rough concrete. Then she lifts her face to the ceiling and cries, ‘Don’t trick me anymore! I’ve told you everything. Please don’t trick me anymore!’

  Marina steps forward so she is standing next to me. She grabs my arm and gives me a shake, then pulls me to my feet. ‘John, we can’t stay here; we have to get moving. We need to take Sarah with us!’

  Sarah finally looks beyond me and sees the others. I watch her take in Marina standing there, looking down at her. Her eyes widen and she looks back at me, then she looks around at the others who have stepped closer. Tears streak the thick layer of dirt on her cheeks. ‘What’s happening? Are you really here? Are all of you really here?’

  I kneel down next to her again. ‘It’s me. It’s us. I promise. Look, even Bernie Kosar wants to say hi. ’ He trots over and licks her hand, his tail wagging.

  I lay my hands on hers, and when I see the bruises running up and down her wrists, my eyes fill with tears. I press her fingers to my lips. ‘Sarah, listen to me. I know I left you once. I promise you, I will never do that again. Do you hear me? I will never leave you. ’ She is still looking at me as if I might disappear or turn into a fire-breathing monster.

  A thousand other things I’ve been thinking about for so long race through my mind and I struggle to say more. I flash back to our last conversation at the playground, moments before the police took me away. ‘Hey, Sarah. Do you remember when I said that I think about you every day. Do you remember that?’ She looks at me and nods. ‘Well, I did and I do. Every day. ’ She allows herself a tentative smile. ‘Now do you believe it’s really me?’ She nods again. ‘Sarah Hart, I love you. I love only you. Do you hear me?’

  She looks so relieved, it makes me want to pick her up and tell her it’s over and I will keep her safe. Always. She kisses me, her hands on each side of my face.

  ‘Four, come on! We have to move,’ Eight shouts. He and the others have moved to the door, anxiously looking both directions of the hallway.

  There’s an explosion in the hallway and Eight runs out to see what it is, followed by Ella and Marina. ‘What the hell is taking so long, man?’ Nine shouts to me, gesturing madly towards the door. ‘Stand the girl up and let’s get going! Sarah Hart, it is awfully nice to meet you, but we really
need you to move! Now!’

  Nine rushes over and helps me get Sarah to her feet. Once she’s fully upright, he gives her a quick hug. She looks surprised by the warm welcome, and I have to wonder about the wink he gives me over her head. ‘Sarah freaking Hart! Do you have any idea how much this jerk talks about you?’ I smile at Sarah, then Nine.

  ‘No,’ Sarah laughs quietly, leaning into me and winding her fingers through mine.

  ‘Okay, okay. Come on, you two,’ Nine says, turning to head back to the door.

  I stare into Sarah’s blue eyes. ‘Before we go, I have to ask you something. And you need to understand that I have to ask it. You’re not working for them, are you? The government and the Mogs?’

  Sarah shakes her head. ‘Why does everyone keep asking me that? I would never betray any of you. ’

  ‘Wait. Who’s everyone? Who else asked you that?’ I ask.

  ‘Six,’ Sarah says, looking surprised I would even need to ask. Her blue eyes widen. ‘You didn’t find her?’

  ‘You’ve seen Six?’ Marina speaks up, excited. ‘When? Where?’

  ‘She’s fighting Setrákus Ra,’ Sarah says, starting to panic again. ‘They took her away awhile ago. ’

  ‘What? No way! That’s my fight!’ Nine yells.

  ‘Don’t worry, man, if we move fast, maybe you can get a piece of him,’ I say. Then I look down the hall to find Eight, Marina, and Ella running back towards us.

  ‘That way,’ Marina shouts.

  I grab Sarah’s hand and pull her behind me. Everyone races down the hall where we find Bernie Kosar standing in front of a metal doorway that’s the size of a loading-dock entrance, barking uncontrollably.

  This time Nine does use his rock to look through the door. Like before, a white cone of light appears, then we can see right into a huge room. ‘Looks like there’s something going on in there. I see movement in the shadows,’ Eight says. ‘I’ll teleport through and scout it out. ’

  ‘Wait a sec, Eight. ’ I hold up my hand to stop him. ‘No scout. We should just do this, all of us. ’

  Eight looks at me for a second, then nods. ‘You’re right. This is for all of us. ’

  When we’re all gathered at the door, I look down the line of determined faces. Even Sarah. She’s gone from weepy rescue-girl to warrior in a heartbeat. Pretty impressive. Of course, she hasn’t got a clue what we are pretty sure is about to happen. It’s likely this is going to be an epic battle, if not the battle. I have a feeling in my gut that everything has led up to this moment. This could be what we’ve been working towards.

  ‘Whatever’s inside, whatever happens,’ I say, lighting the Lumen in my palms, ‘we will kill Setrákus Ra, no matter what. ’ I’m saying this for me, not them.

  ‘We’re all on this, dude,’ Nine says.

  I hold a glowing palm over the door, and just as I’m about to blow it inwards, a woman with red hair and an arm in a sling comes hobbling through a door at the far end of the hall. She and I gasp at exactly the same time; then she turns and darts back through the door.

 
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