The rise of nine, p.40
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       The Rise of Nine, p.40

         Part #3 of Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore
 
Page 40

 

  ‘Wait! Agent Walker!’ I shout after her.

  ‘Walker? Are you kidding me?’ Nine asks, incredulously. ‘The chick soldier who tried to capture us?’ The others just look on, confused for a beat, before Eight speaks up.

  ‘I’ll get her for you,’ he says, and then disappears. When he materializes a moment later he’s got her, arms twisted behind her back. The first thing I do is rip off the gold badge on the front of her shirt.

  Nine plucks the badge out of my hand and makes a great show of examining it carefully. ‘Well, well, well. Who do we have here? Special Agent Walker?’ Nine laughs. ‘Lady, you look awful!’ He hands the badge back to me as if it suddenly has cooties.

  ‘Do you know how pathetic you are?’ I yell. ‘Cutting deals with the Mogs, doing their dirty work, for what? They are going to destroy you!’

  ‘I’m doing my job,’ she says stiffly. Eight has a tight grip on her. ‘We are doing what’s best for this country. ’ She stares back at me defiantly, but I know we will make it clear how much she has to fear from us soon enough.

  Sarah points at her. ‘I’ve seen you before. John, she was there when Six was taken away. ’

  Nine grabs Agent Walker by her shirt’s lapels like some gangster from a movie. Eight never loosens his grip on her arms. Nine shoves his face right into her face. ‘I want this one, I get to kill her. ’

  Walker is now frantically struggling to back away from Nine and free herself of Eight. ‘Wait! I know where your ship is!’ Special Agent Walker pleads. ‘I know you want it and you’ll never find it without me. ’

  ‘Our ship is here?’ Marina asks, clearly uncertain if she can trust what Agent Walker says.

  The agent narrows her eyes. ‘I’ll show you if you let me go. ’

  ‘What do you think, Four?’ Nine asks.

  ‘John? What happens when you find your ship?’ asks Sarah, grabbing my arm.

  ‘We don’t have time for this!’ Marina says. ‘I know Six is inside this room. The fact that this woman will say anything to keep us from going in tells me I’m right! Forget about her! Who cares if or where our ship is, until we have Six!’

  Nine says, ‘I’ll handle her. ’ Walker floats up into the air and hangs by her belt hook on the light fixture high above us, red-faced with fury. Nine looks at us, winks and flicks the fingers of one hand behind his back, blowing the door open. ‘Marina’s right. Six and Setrákus Ra come first. Shall we?’

  He smiles at Sarah. ‘You’re pretty badass from what I’ve heard from Johnny here,’ he says, handing her Walker’s Mog cannon. ‘Think you can handle her?’

  Sarah takes the cannon. ‘If she moves from that light, I’ll blast her. Gladly. ’

  I look at the rest of the Garde. ‘It’s time. ’

  We rush inside. We don’t have to figure out who’s doing what. We just know. It’s quiet and dark and an awful stench permeates the air. All I can think of is the arena that kept appearing in my visions. Is this it? I look around, trying to see if I can tell. The center of the large room is dimly illuminated. Nine runs into the circle of light and yells, ‘Time to come and play, Setrákus, you piece of shit!’

  ‘Where’s Six?’ Marina says. She joins Nine in the center of the room, along with Eight. They quickly drop their Chests and start to look around.

  ‘You guys! There’s something up on the ceiling,’ Ella says, her voice echoing around the room. I look up to see a small formation of rocks hanging from the ceiling.

  I shine my Lumen on the object, and bathed in its glow, it almost looks like a statue. ‘This isn’t right. I don’t know why, but there’s something wrong here,’ I say in a low voice.

  While we watch the shadows for any sign of movement, Nine uses his anti-gravity Legacy to run up onto the ceiling and look at the rock formation. When he starts to get close I hear a familiar voice yell, ‘Stop!’

  I whip around to see Six standing alone in the doorway. A loop of thick rope hangs from her hip, and in her hand is a jagged blue sword. She looks unharmed. Now that is the Six I remember; confident and strong. Did she do it? Is it possible that Six has already killed Setrákus Ra?

  ‘Six! Oh, my God, it’s you!’ Marina cries. ‘You’re okay!’

  ‘It’s over,’ Six says. ‘Setrákus Ra is dead. That formation on the ceiling is Mogadorian poison. Stay away from it. ’

  The relief in the air palpable. Eight teleports to Six’s side and wraps his arms around her in a huge hug.

  Six was always the strongest of us, stronger than even me or Nine. She just saved Lorien, Earth, and possibly the universe. I want to pick her up, put her on my shoulder, and parade her back to Lorien.

  I start towards her too, but Ella grabs my wrist and pulls me back. I hear her in my mind. John. Something’s wrong.

  The next few moments happen in what feels like slow motion. Six pulls the jagged blue sword back and thrusts it forward. Horrified, I watch Eight become rigid, then the tip of the sword breaks through the middle of his shoulders. He slumps forward. Six pushes Eight’s body off her sword and he falls to the floor, motionless.

  ‘No!’ Marina screams from behind me and rushes towards Eight.

  I’m paralyzed with shock until my instinct to fight kicks in. I look down and a massive fireball has formed in the palm of my right hand. Whatever confusion I was just feeling has cleared and I know what I need to do. This can’t be Six. And whoever this really is, I need to kill them.

  ‘Six,’ I say, rolling the fireball on the tips of my fingers. ‘What did they do to you?’

  She laughs and raises her other hand into a fist. Blue lightning shoots out between her knuckles and spreads along the ceiling of the room. My fireball disappears. What’s going on?

  ‘Four!’ I look up to see Nine flying through the air from above me. His anti-gravity Legacy must have failed him too. I manage to catch enough of him to stop him from slamming down on the ground and help him get to his feet.

  Marina stands protectively over Eight, guns aimed and ready to fire. Eight is still on the ground and I can’t tell how badly he’s injured. At least I know he’s alive, since I don’t have a new scar. Marina lets loose a burst of bullets, but they stop inches from Six’s face and drop uselessly to the concrete. I try to light myself with my Lumen again, but nothing happens.

  With her sword held high, Six’s body starts to convulse and blur with a quick flash of white. She grows taller and her long blond hair shrinks into a small patch on top of a large skull. Her face elongates and morphs, and somehow I know she’s changing into Setrákus Ra even before the glowing purple scar appears on his neck. Two battalions of Mog soldiers silently emerge from doors on the sides of the room and flank him. Without a word, Nine, Marina, Ella, and I move closer to one another, standing over Eight, to make it clear we will face him together.

  ‘All of you in one place. How convenient for me. I hope you’re ready to die,’ he snarls.

  ‘I think you have that wrong,’ I reply.

  ‘That’s what Number Six thought, too. But she was wrong. Very wrong. ’ He smiles, his revolting and stained teeth glinting in the dim light.

  Nine looks over at me and rubs his hands together, all eager anticipation. ‘Johnny boy, have we discussed how important oral hygiene is to me?’ He looks back at Setrákus Ra, ‘Dude, brush your teeth before you even think about threatening me!’ He extends his glowing red staff, turns to Setrákus Ra and charges. Thankfully we still have the power of our Inheritance.

  30.

  Out of the corner of my eye, I see Nine charging Setrákus Ra. I turn back to Eight, to see if I can heal him. I keep my hands on Eight’s chest wound, waiting for my Legacy to start working again. Nothing. I beg Eight to hold on, to fight through the pain, but his brown eyes roll back, and his breath becomes more and more shallow. Panicked, I flash back on the drawing from the Loric cave, the one where Eight is killed by Setrákus Ra’s sword. Is the prediction coming true? I desperately
keep pressing my hands all over his chest.

  ‘Marina!’ John shouts. ‘We have to get you and Eight out of this room, now! I have a feeling if we can get away from Setrákus Ra, our Legacies will start working again. If I’m right, you can still save Eight. ’

  ‘He’s almost gone,’ I manage to choke out. ‘It might be too late no matter what we do. ’ I can’t bring myself to tell him about the cave drawing. I wonder if Eight is able to think about any of this, to remember the drawing, to know what this moment might be. I hope not.

  ‘Then we should hurry,’ he says, handing me a Mog cannon and picking up Eight. ‘Shoot anything and everything that’s not one of our friends. ’

  We try to cover the hundred or so yards to the door as quickly as we can, while keeping an eye on the others who are locked in battle. With every Mog I turn to ash on the way, I feel stronger and stronger. I try not to think about where Six – the real Six – is, or what’s happened to her. I knew that wasn’t Six. I wish I had killed that thing, even before it revealed itself. I scan the room. Nine is fighting Setrákus Ra, clearly treading water, his staff clashing with Ra’s sword. As strong as Nine is, it almost looks like Setrákus Ra is toying with him, just waiting for the right moment to strike and kill.

  Every ounce of confidence and strength I felt a moment ago drains out of me. There are simply too many of them and too few of us. And we are without our Legacies, which means we’re just kids. Kids fighting an organized, alien army. I hate to leave the others, but I know John is right. I know I need to get out of here if I’m going to have any hope of healing Eight. And saving Eight is the only choice.

  We’re almost at the door when two dozen Mogs come right at us. Some of them have cannons, some of them have swords, and they all appear terrifyingly unstoppable. I try to shoot them, but the cannon blasts I send their way don’t even make a dent in the advancing mob. There are just too many of them. John manages to set Eight down just outside the door, then he joins me, charging them and wielding his sword. I fight alongside him. I will not let John down no matter how bad the odds appear. We protect one another and we draw strength from each other when we feel weak. It’s why we’ve survived this long, and why we will win. We are stronger when we unite.

  John mows the Mogs down, one at a time, methodically and fast. I shoot steadily as I maneuver to block the doorway and protect Eight. I duck outside the door to check on Eight’s condition. I feel his pulse, which is faint, and I can tell my Legacy has not returned. I lay my hands on him and whisper fiercely, ‘You can’t die, Eight. Do you hear me? I am going to heal you. My Legacy will return and I will heal you. ’

  I realize the Mogs that had charged us are all gone – destroyed – and the abrupt silence startles me.

  ‘We have to hurry. More will come,’ John says urgently.

  We hear a deafening scream – through the door we can see Bernie Kosar has transformed into a beast and is surrounded by Mogs who are trying to slash at him, but he jumps in and out of their reach. The Mogs can’t get him, but he isn’t able to do much damage to them, either. We step back into the room in time to see Setrákus pull out a whip. Its tips begin to flame and he strikes Nine in the arm. The wound immediately begins to turn black. John turns to say something to me when I hear a shot. Before I can even tell what happened John’s body convulses and he falls to the ground.

 
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