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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 56)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(56) by James Dashner
  • Finally his patience ran out.

    Are you awake? he asked Teresa.

    Only three or four seconds went by.

    Yeah, she said. No rebuke for waking her up, which was a good start.

    Meet me at breakfast the second the cafeteria opens. Sit close, whispers only. He didn’t know how much WICKED could follow their telepathy and he wanted to make sure they didn’t overhear this conversation.

    Okay. She was a woman of few words this morning—just fine by him.

    Awesome. See you soon. He rolled out of bed and limped to the shower.

    In the cafeteria, Thomas had found a quiet spot away from the few workers and subjects eating. He picked at his food as he waited for Teresa. He drank three glasses of water. He finally pushed his tray away, folded and unfolded his arms, shifted in his seat. When she showed up, she skipped the food line altogether and came to sit next to him.

    What’s up? she asked his mind.

    “No,” he spoke quietly. “Just talk normal.”

    They sat shoulder to shoulder, Thomas’s plate of eggs and bacon resting on the table in front of them. He had to get these plans off his chest. He leaned in close to Teresa and started whispering.

    “Keep an open mind, okay? Hear me out, too, before you start arguing.”

    She looked up at him, searching for a hint of what he was going to say. She nodded and looked back down at his food.

    “Sorry, this is just really important to me. So…Look, I’m at the end of my rope, Teresa. The absolute end. The Purge, the lies, the cruelty in the maze. And I’ve heard enough things over the last few days to figure out that WICKED has plans for an entirely new phase of trials—in the Scorch—and who knows what else. Did you know about any of this?”

    Teresa shook her head adamantly, looking genuinely horrified. “I mean, I suspected something—and then the expedition to the Scorch, those barracks they built, the Flat Trans. But they haven’t shared anything with me.” She paused, shaking her head again. “Are you sure about what you heard?”

    “Totally.”

    “Sometimes they really do make it hard to believe in them, don’t they?”

    Her reaction made Thomas feel like he’d cleared the first hurdle.

    “Exactly,” he said. “I went to the Scorch. It’s horrible. And I’ve seen those bulby things they created in R&D. They’re like something straight out of a nightmare. It’s gotta stop, Teresa. All of this has to stop. I mean it.”

    She didn’t respond at first, her emotions impossible to read. But when she finally spoke, her words had a slight tremor to them.

    “What could we do, Tom? WICKED is too big. And whatever they’re doing, at least they have some justification for it.”

    “The cure?” Thomas scoffed. “It’s never going to happen. I just don’t believe in it. After all this time and all this work, they don’t even have a preliminary treatment, no trial runs of drugs, nothing. All they do is get more vicious with their Variables, chasing this ridiculous blueprint they’re always spouting about.”

    “Do you really think they’re sending them to the Scorch?” she asked.

    “Yes. Don’t you?”

    She sighed. “I guess I do.”

    “Those are our friends, Teresa. Think back to the good times we had together. My God, if nothing else, think of them throwing Chuck into the Scorch, much less to the wolves in that Crank city.”

    That seemed to really get her. Her eyes moistened.

    “Even so,” she said. “What could we possibly do? The two of us against the mighty empire and all their guards and all their weapons?”

    And now it was time to tell her. He gathered his courage and went for it.

    “This is the part you need to hear me out on. First, we convince Dr. Paige to send us into the maze. We’ll convince her they need to shake things up a bit. But we make sure they send us in with our memories intact. That’s the key. We tell them they should let us do some serious analysis from the inside and we can report back. The Psychs would think Christmas had come again—imagine all the Variable possibilities. We can throw all our enthusiasm into it, really convince them we want this. Maybe we even suggest we go in for one month, then come back out. It doesn’t matter what we say, we just need to get inserted.”

    “And then what?” she asked. At least she hadn’t outright rejected the idea.

    “We make preparations before we go in. We get keys to one of the weapons rooms, or hide weapons near the maze exit. We do some research on Grievers, figure out a way to shut them down at the right time. Map out the closest town we can escape to once we get everyone out. Then, once we’re in, we’ll spend a few days convincing the Gladers what’s going to happen, make a plan, and go for it.”

    “You make it sound so easy,” she replied. “For one thing, they’ll be observing our every move and listening to everything we say.”

    “Then we’ll do a lot of whispering. A lot of talking in the dark, avoid beetle blades, whatever. They trust us, and that’ll be the biggest thing we have going for us.”

    Teresa leaned even closer, found his ear. Her breath warmed his skin. “You really think we can just go into the maze and grab the Gladers and march out of there? Without killing a bunch of people? Getting killed ourselves?”

    He exhaled. “I know it’s outrageous. But it’s worse to sit back and let this continue without trying to stop it.”

    She sighed but didn’t say anything.

    “Teresa, I’m pouring my soul out to you. It’s probably Chuck who’s finally pushed me over the edge. I love that kid so much. I can’t…I just can’t let WICKED keep hurting him. Not to mention the others. I can’t. Please, please say you’re with me on this.”

    He’d never talked to her this way before. He’d laid it all out there.

    She looked at him, her eyes weary. “You really mean it, don’t you?”

    “Absolutely. Saying it out loud only makes me feel more sure.”

    She was quiet then. Quiet for a very long time.

    Finally she stood up. “Give me twenty-four hours to think about it, okay?” And then she walked away, leaving a very anxious friend behind.

    In the end, she only needed about fourteen hours.

    Thomas had spent the day making use of his free time. In between his checkups, tests, and observation time, he scoured his research tablet for any information on Grievers in the files unprotected by passwords. Stopping the creatures would be a huge factor if they were going to escape. There wasn’t much, but he did find a schematics copy of its biomechanical makeup embedded in a huge collection of miscellaneous information dated years earlier.

    He was in bed, studying the schematics for potential weaknesses, when Teresa called to him telepathically.

    Okay, she said. I’m in.

    He almost jumped out of his bed with excitement. Really? You’re on board?

    For you. For Chuck. For our friends. I’ll help you.

    Awesome. That’s awesome. Now we just need to convince Dr. Paige.

    Don’t worry about her. I actually think she’ll love the idea of inserting us in Group A and Aris and Rachel in Group B. Let me take care of that part.

    Really?

    Really. I’ll meet with her first thing tomorrow.

    Thomas stood in the observation room, watching a close feed of Newt as he ate his dinner by the big tall pole in the Glade. For some reason, he was alone. Maybe he just needed some time to himself. Maybe Chuck had talked his ear off all day—par for the course. But he sat there, taking his bites, chewing, swallowing, staring off at nothing in particular, deep in thought.

    Thomas thought of Newt’s sister, Lizzy, somewhere off in Group B’s maze. Wouldn’t that be a thing, to save both of them?

    “I’m coming for you, Newt,” Thomas whispered, so softly that no one could possibly hear him. “I’m coming for every last one of you.”

    The next day, he got the official word.

    Dr. Paige had approved the insertion of the Elites into the Maze Trials.

    231.12.19 | 10:37 a.m.

    Dr. Paige stood at the head of the table, with Thomas and Teresa sitting on one side, Aris and Rachel on the other. A few Psychs and technicians sat farther down, staying mostly quiet. But every once in a while, Dr. Paige shot them a glance for confirmation of what she was saying.

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