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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 5)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(5) by James Dashner
  • Swish, swish, swish. Thunk, thunk, thunk.

    A dart grazed Mark’s shirt and hit the ground; someone stepped on it, driving it deeper. Another dart hit home in the neck of a man just as he was running past—he screamed and dove forward as blood spurted from the wound. When he landed, he lay still and three people tripped over him. Mark only realized that he’d stopped, appalled by what was happening around him, when Lana yelled at him to keep moving.

    The shooters above them had obviously improved their aim. The darts were hitting people left and right and the air was filled with screams of pain and terror. Mark felt utterly helpless—there was no way to shield himself from the barrage. All he could do was lamely try to outrun a flying machine, an impossible task.

    Where was Alec? The tough guy with all the battle instincts? Where had he run off to?

    Mark kept moving, yanking Darnell’s body along, forcing Trina and Lana to match his speed. The Toad and Misty ran alongside them, trying to help without getting in the way. Darts continued to rain down from above, more screams, more falling bodies. Mark turned a corner and lurched down the alley that led back to the Shack, sticking close to the building on his right for a partial shield. Not as many people had come this way, and there were fewer darts to dodge.

    The little group hobbled as fast as they could with their unconscious friend. The structures were built practically on top of each other in this section of the settlement, and there was no room to cut through and escape into the surrounding woods of the mountains.

    “We’re almost to the Shack!” Trina yelled. “Hurry, before the Berg is back on top of us!”

    Mark twisted his body around so that he was facing front, gripping Darnell by his shirt behind him. Shuffling backward had strained his leg muscles to the max, and they burned with heat and were beginning to cramp. There was nothing in their way now to slow them down, so Mark sped up, Lana and Trina keeping pace, each holding one of Darnell’s legs. The Toad and Misty squeezed in and each grabbed an arm, taking some of the load. They slipped through the narrow paths and alleys, over jutting roots and hard-packed dirt, turning left and then right and then left again. The roar of the Berg was coming from their right, muted by the dwellings and rows of trees in between.

    Mark finally turned a corner and saw the Shack across a small clearing. He moved to make a final sprint for it, just as a horde of fleeing residents swarmed in from the other side, frantic and wild, scattering in all directions, heading for every door in sight. He froze as the Berg rushed in overhead, closer to the ground than Mark had seen it before. There were only three people standing on the hatch door of the craft now, but they opened fire as soon as the Berg settled into a hovering position.

    Little silver streaks shot through the air, rained down on the people surging into the clearing. Every projectile seemed to find its mark, slamming into the necks and arms of men and women and children. They screamed and crumpled to the ground almost instantly, others tripping over their bodies in the mad rush for cover.

    Mark and his little group hugged the side of the closest building and laid Darnell on the ground. Pain and weariness slogged through Mark’s arms and legs, making him want to collapse beside their unconscious friend.

    “We should’ve just left him back there,” Trina said, hands on knees, struggling to catch her breath. “He slowed us down, and he’s still right in the thick of things anyway.”

    “Dead, for all we know,” the Toad’s voice croaked.

    Mark looked sharply at him—but the man was probably right. They might’ve jeopardized their own lives to save someone who had no chance in the first place.

    “What’s happening now?” Lana asked as she moved up to the corner of the building to look around at the clearing. She glanced back at them over her shoulder. “They’re just picking people off, left and right. Why are they using darts instead of bullets?”

    “Makes no sense,” Mark replied.

    “Can’t we do something?” Trina said, her body trembling with what looked like frustration more than fear. “Why are we letting these people do this?”

    Mark stepped up to Lana and peeked out with her. Bodies littered the clearing now, impaled darts sticking up toward the sky like a miniature forest. Still the Berg hovered overhead, its thrusters raging with blue heat.

    “Where are our security guys?” Mark whispered to no one in particular. “They take the day off or something?”

    No one answered, but movement over at the door of the Shack caught Mark’s attention and he sighed in relief. It was Alec, waving frantically, urging them to join him. The man held what looked like two huge rifles with grappling hooks on the ends attached to big coils of rope.

    Ever the soldier—even after all these years—the man had a plan, and he needed help. He was going to fight back against these monsters. And so was Mark.

    Mark pulled back from the wall and looked around. He saw a piece of wood on the other side of the alley. Without telling the others what he was doing, he ran over to grab it, then sprinted out into the clearing, heading straight for the Shack and for Alec, using the wood as a shield.

    Mark didn’t need to look up—he could hear the distinct swoosh of darts being shot at him. Heard the solid thunk of one of them hitting the wood. He ran on.

    CHAPTER 5

    Mark varied his steps, speeding up and slowing down, dodging to the left and right, making his way toward Alec. Darts thunked into the ground around his feet; a second one hit his makeshift shield. As he ran through the open space, Alec—still clutching those rifles—made a beeline for the middle of the clearing. The two of them almost crashed into each other directly under the Berg, and Mark immediately leaned in to try to protect both of them with his shield.

    Alec’s eyes burned with intensity and purpose. Gray hair or not, he suddenly looked twenty years younger.

    “We’ve got to hurry!” he yelled. “Before that thing decides to take off!”

    The thrusters burned overhead and the darts continued to slam into people all around them. The screams were awful.

    “What do I do?” Mark shouted. The now familiar blend of adrenaline and terror surged through him as he awaited his friend’s instructions.

    “You cover me, with this.”

    Alec shifted his rifles under one arm and pulled a pistol—a dull black one that Mark had never seen before—out of the back of his pants. There was no time to hesitate. Mark took the gun with his free hand, and by the weight of the weapon he knew it was loaded. A dart slammed into the wood as he cocked the pistol. Then another one. The strangers on the Berg had taken notice of the two people scheming in the middle of the clearing. More darts thumped into the ground like a sudden hailstorm.

    “Fire away, boy,” Alec growled. “And aim well, ’cause you’ve only got twelve bullets. Don’t miss. Now!”

    With that, Alec spun and ran to a spot about ten feet away. Mark pointed the gun at the people on the hatch door of the Berg and fired off two quick shots, knowing he needed to get their attention immediately so they wouldn’t notice Alec. The three green suits backed up and dropped to their knees, hunching down to get the metal ramp between them and the shooter. One of them turned and clambered to get back into the ship.

    Mark tossed the wood shield to the side. He clutched the gun with both hands, steadied himself and concentrated. A head peeked over the edge of the hatch above and Mark quickly set it in his sights, fired a shot. His hands jumped with the recoil, but he saw the red mist, a spray of blood in the air; a body tumbled off the ramp and crashed into a group of three people below. Fresh waves of screams erupted from all directions as people saw what was happening.

    An arm stretched around the Berg door above, holding the tube-weapon out to take random shots. Mark fired, heard a sharp ping as the bullet hit the metal contraption, then watched the weapon fall to the ground. A woman scooped it up and started examining it, trying to figure out how to use it to fight back. That could only help.

    Mark risked a quick glance back at Alec. He was holding up the grappling-hook weapon as if he were a seaman about to harpoon a whale. A pop sounded and suddenly the hook was flying toward the Berg, the rope spinning out behind it like a trail of smoke. The hook clanged against one of the hydraulic shafts keeping the hatch door open and twisted around it, catching hold. Alec pulled the rope taut.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire