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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 47)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(47) by James Dashner
  • “They have no idea what’s going on in here,” Thomas said, a little surprised that he’d spoken aloud. “I guess that’s a good thing.”

    Teresa looked his way. She seemed ready to reproach him—they had slightly more pressing matters—but then softened. “I know. For once, life is tougher out here than in there.”

    “I guess the tables have turned,” Rachel said.

    “Guys?” Dr. Paige cut in. She gestured toward the cameras focused on the WICKED complex itself. “The plan?”

    “Sorry,” Rachel murmured.

    Thomas focused his attention back on the relevant feeds.

    A guard pointed at one in particular. “Room D-17. A rec room. A few of them are sleeping on the floor in there. That should be your first stop after entering the Sector.”

    “Maybe they’re dead,” Teresa added.

    Dr. Paige leaned closer to the screens, her lips moving as she counted. “And there’s our five. It’s a good plan. Go take care of them, then come back here and we’ll show you where to go next.”

    Take care of them, Thomas thought. What a nice way to put it.

    They grabbed their backpacks full of death and headed out the door toward Sector D.

    After a guard let them through the locked-down entrance, Thomas and the others headed for the assigned room. They’d almost made it when movement in the hall ahead stopped them in their tracks. Aris had taken the lead and suddenly jumped back, pushing the others around the closest corner.

    “There’s a couple of people up there,” he whispered, his back to the wall, panting.

    “I saw them, too,” Teresa said. “Which means they probably saw us.”

    With perfect timing, a shout rang through the hall.

    “Hey, you kids!” A man, his voice on the edge of hysterics. “Come here, my little subjects!”

    This filled Thomas with a feeling of such horror that it made him shiver. Sweat broke out on his arms and forehead, a flush of heat making him unbearably hot.

    “How many?” he asked.

    Aris peeked around the corner, then jerked back to face the others. “Two men. One’s crawling on the ground, the other’s walking, but he’s using the wall to hold him up. They’re getting really close. And, man, they look seriously messed up.”

    Thomas appreciated the detailed report, but it only made him feel worse. “Do we go back and regroup?”

    “No, we rush them,” Teresa said. “Why put it off? The four of us can take these two easily.”

    Rachel was nodding as she spoke, and one look at Aris showed he agreed as well.

    Thomas sighed in defeat. “What do you mean by ‘messed up’?”

    “The crawling dude is totally naked,” Aris answered, “scratches all over his body. The one stumbling along the wall looks like he puked up about seven breakfasts all over his shirt. And his hair…I think he ripped some of it out. It’s nasty.”

    “You think they’re all like this?” Thomas asked, overwhelmed by the task they had before them. “I didn’t know they were so near the Gone.”

    A terrible wail of anguish sounded down the hall, a long, mewling sound that ended in something close to giggles. They were getting closer.

    “You saw Anderson,” Teresa whispered. “Those left have to be as bad as him or a couple of steps away from it.”

    Thomas nodded, trying to encourage himself. “Okay, okay. What do we do?”

    Teresa swung her backpack off her shoulder just enough to unzip it and look inside. She pulled out a pistol, then two syringes. She handed the syringes to Thomas.

    “I’ll be the last resort,” she said, hefting the gun in her right hand, finger already on the trigger. “Aris and Rachel, you hit them first with Launcher grenades. Once they’re down, Thomas you run up to them and inject the poison. I’ll be right beside you. If they make a move, I’ll take care of them.”

    Thomas stared at her, half impressed and half terrified of his closest friend. But mostly he was thankful she’d taken charge.

    “Okay,” he said, too smart to argue. Nothing about this was going to be pleasant, and the sooner they got to it, the sooner they’d be done.

    “Sounds good,” Aris replied. “You guys ready?”

    Thomas, one death-tipped syringe gripped in each hand, nodded. Rachel held up her Launcher in answer. Teresa said, “Go.”

    Aris pushed off from the wall with a grunt and ran around the corner, yelling with adrenaline. Rachel went next, her weapon held ready, then Thomas, then Teresa, her gun the last line of defense. The sound of the Launcher charging filled the air, followed by the burst of power as a grenade catapulted toward the man moving along the wall. His hair had indeed been ripped out in spots, leaving red, bloody welts.

    The grenade hit him square in his chest. He let out a howl as tiny tendrils of lightning danced across his body, and he fell to the floor. There he suffered spasm after spasm as the Launcher’s power tried to fry him from the inside out.

    “Your turn, Thomas!” Aris yelled as he stepped forward, already aiming for the other man in case Rachel missed.

    Thomas ran toward the first victim, then slid along the tile floor, coming to a stop just a foot or so from the man’s head. He gripped the syringe, letting it hover just inches above the man’s face, waiting for the streaks of white powder to fade. He heard a second Launcher shot, then a third, followed by rapid thumps of contact. A cry like that of some primal beast pierced the air.

    Thomas saw his chance below him, the charges of electricity dwindling. He stabbed the needle of the syringe into the Crank’s neck and released the poison. He scrambled away, kicking at the floor with his feet until his back met the opposite wall, where he stood up. The man’s eyes rolled back in his head and he flopped over—the syringe bounced back and forth as if dancing on its needle, pivoting in the soft folds of the neck.

    Seventeen, Thomas thought. There were seventeen Cranks left in the complex.

    “Over here!” Rachel yelled. “Hurry!” She stood above the second man, who was still convulsing from her Launcher shot. His battered, purpling body was like a dark storm cloud, sending little bolts of lightning down to die in the floor tiles.

    Thomas ran to him. Static and sparks filled the air as he fell to his knees. He knelt forward and plunged the second syringe into the man’s neck, releasing the vial of liquid death.

    Teresa was there, two hands tightly gripping her pistol, aiming down at the man’s head just in case. Rachel and Aris stood right behind her, struggling to catch their breath.

    “I think that does it,” Thomas said. “We just killed two people without any of us getting a single scratch.”

    “Cranks,” Teresa replied, finally letting herself relax as she dropped the gun to her side. “Not people, Cranks.”

    Thomas got to his feet. “I didn’t realize those were two different things.”

    She gave him a hard look that scared him.

    “Room D-17,” Aris said between breaths. “Stick to the plan.”

    Teresa turned away from Thomas to lead the way.

    231.05.05 | 7:47 a.m.

    “D…seventeen…,” Aris said, scanning the rooms as they jogged past. He pointed. “Here it is!”

    Thomas, who felt like everyone else had taken much more initiative so far that day, stepped up to the door and placed his ear against the flat surface. He pressed in, hoping to hear nothing. He wanted them asleep or dead.

    “Anything?” Teresa asked.

    Thomas shook his head. Then, “No, wait.” He pressed his ear to the door again. A low moaning sound was clearer. “Yeah—there’s at least one awake.”

    They prepared themselves much as they had for the encounter in the hallway. According to the cameras, five Cranks were on the other side of the door, immobile. Thomas squeezed three syringes in his right hand, two in his left, and Aris and Rachel both held their Launchers, fully charged and loaded behind him. That left Teresa with the gun again, and Thomas had a feeling that this time she’d be forced to use it.

    When everyone was ready to go, Teresa used her free hand to push open the door. It swung open into a dimly lit room, the scents of body odor and rotten breath wafting out like a diseased wind.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire