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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Fever Code (Chapter 57)     
  • The Fever Code(Maze Runner Prequel #0.6)(57) by James Dashner
  • The plans for the Elites’ insertion had been laid out, and they were going over some final details. Thomas fought to maintain patience, to play along as if he had devoted his heart and soul to the things that were planned for them. But it was his intent—and serious hope—that none of it would ever happen.

    “You can look up here,” Dr. Paige said, gesturing to a screen on the wall behind her, where a long chart full of information had been projected, “and see just how many new and unique Variables our Psychs have developed surrounding this insertion. We’ve taken it far beyond your simple suggestions, Teresa. We see this as a golden opportunity—a catalyst, if you will—to stimulate many killzone patterns that we’ve never been able to measure before.”

    Thomas had been squinting at the display, trying to get a read on any of the individual line items. But the words were too small. And then, at a signal from Dr. Paige, the screen went blank again.

    She continued. “Even the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours will bring events to the Glade that have never been seen before. Events that will significantly disrupt what has become a routine there and spur many new emotions and thoughts. Subjects arriving on consecutive days, a member of the opposite sex arriving for the first time—we’re just really encouraged by the possibilities. So I have to give a lot of credit to Teresa for this idea.” Her smile beamed down on Thomas’s friend.

    As for him, he didn’t care one whit that she was taking all the credit. The plan might have never worked if Thomas had approached them. None of it mattered anyway. As much as he’d once loved Dr. Ava Paige, he hoped that soon he’d never have to see her again. Or anyone or anything related to WICKED.

    He looked at Aris, and then Rachel, both of whom seemed less than happy. They hadn’t spoken much lately, and he and Teresa were still trying to decide whether to bring them in on the plan. Things were complicated enough, with too many risks. But he also couldn’t imagine not telling them. Either way, he fully intended to save Group B along with his own friends in Group A.

    “Thomas?”

    He snapped back to attention and realized that Dr. Paige—along with everyone else—was staring at him.

    “Sorry,” he said, shifting in his seat. “I kind of spaced out there. Did I miss something?”

    She looked back at him sternly. “I asked if you had an opinion on the memory swipe.”

    He felt a prickle of sweat, an uncomfortable warmth. “What do you mean?”

    “It’s the one aspect of this insertion that still gives me pause. Every subject before you has had their memories removed, and it worries me to break the cycle of consistency. I wanted to know your opinion on the matter.”

    He pulled himself together, collected his wits. This could be the most important moment of his life. “I can understand that, but Teresa and I have talked about this a lot.” Including her could only strengthen his argument. “We think it will just add to the things you’re speaking about, all these new opportunities. Having someone on the inside, up front and close, reporting back to you here. That’s a perspective we’ve never had. I see it as the next level in the countless observations I’ve made over the last couple of years.”

    “That’s a good point,” Dr. Paige replied. “Is this really that much different?”

    He fought for composure. “But it’s not just from that side of things. Even more importantly, think of the analysis you can do on me, on Teresa, on Aris and Rachel. Don’t forget that we’re subjects, too. Studying our patterns, with memories instead of without, inside the Glade and the maze, is something you’ve never been able to do before.”

    Dr. Paige nodded as he spoke, but not in a way that necessarily meant she agreed.

    “There are a lot of other ways I think it can be valuable, but those are the most important.” He decided to end it right there instead of rambling on and hoped his last comment would work to make her think there actually was a lot of value left unsaid.

    “Well spoken, Thomas,” Dr. Paige said. “You’ll be relieved to know that most of us in this room agree with you.” She smiled, almost as if the question had been a test.

    Good job, Teresa said to him.

    Thanks, he replied. I’ve got some serious sweaty armpits going on right now.

    The meeting went on for at least another hour. But in the end, Thomas thought, it couldn’t have gone any better. The plans were finalized and approved.

    Thomas would go into the maze first. The next day, Teresa would follow. Both of them with their memories intact. Rachel and Aris would follow the same pattern over in the Group B maze. Thomas had gotten everything he wanted.

    And now there was work to do.

    231.12.31 | 11:24 p.m.

    Finally the time had come.

    Thomas had exhausted himself preparing for it.

    He knew as much about Grievers as possible, including their weaknesses and power sources. If he combined that with what he knew from building the maze and how the Griever hatch worked, he felt good about the possibility of facing one down and coming out alive. With Teresa’s help, he’d gotten the codes to a weapons cache very close to the entrance to the maze, from which they and the Gladers would escape. They’d found an Alaskan town where they could seek asylum, only thirty miles from the WICKED complex. Aris and Rachel did know about the plan, but they wouldn’t try anything until Thomas and Teresa came to their maze to get them. Everything had fallen into place. Mainly there was the waiting. Nothing could happen until they were in the maze and could gather supporters among their old friends.

    And that time had finally come.

    Thomas sat on his bed, leaning back against the headboard. Teresa sat in the desk chair, which she’d pulled up next to the bed. She leaned toward him, her face only a couple of feet away. They’d been talking for hours, ever since getting back from dinner. It was the first time they’d done something like this since before the Purge.

    “You swear you’re not going to chicken out?” Thomas asked. “And you won’t let them change their minds about the Swipe?”

    “You just broke our streak, dummy.”

    They’d sworn not to talk about the escape plan, at least for one night. And they’d mostly succeeded. Remembering their childhoods, laughing about some of the times they’d had with Newt and everyone else, philosophizing about the world’s future. They even talked about space, about science, about history. Weird things like famous conspiracy theories. The big wars. What life had once been like. They talked and talked and talked.

    Until Thomas had ruined it and brought them back to reality.

    “Yeah, I know,” he said. “I ran out of stuff.”

    “Well, I swear on the life of everyone I’ve ever loved that I’ll be in the Glade, with you, twenty-four hours after you’re inserted, just like we drew it up—memories intact. Okay? I promise.”

    “Pinky promise?”

    She sat back. “Now hold on. That’s some serious stuff right there.”

    He held out his pinky. She wrapped her own around it and they shook.

    “Phew,” he said. “Now I feel better.”

    She still hadn’t let go of his finger. Their hands had come down to rest on the mattress of the bed. “Sometimes I forget what a sweet dork you can be. I wish you’d let this side of you come out more.”

    “My sweet dork side? I didn’t know I had such a thing. But I guess I’ll take that as a compliment?”

    “Yes, you should take it as a compliment.” She let go but moved the chair up until she was right next to him. “I know I’ve been a dud for months now.”

    “Nah,” Thomas replied, but even he couldn’t make it very convincing.

    She laughed. “It’s just…there’s still a part of me that thinks a cure is possible. Don’t you feel that way? At least a little?”

    “Yeah, of course I do.” He felt a little ashamed at the rebuke. “But there has to be another way. All I know is that if they have to achieve it by torturing my friends, then it’s not right.”

    “And things seem like they’ll only get worse,” she said.

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