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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 6)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(6) by James Dashner
  • “Throw me the gun!” the soldier yelled at him.

    Mark looked up to make sure no one had reappeared from inside to shoot another volley of darts; then he sprinted to Alec, handed him the pistol. The man had barely taken it when Mark heard a click and Alec was shooting into the sky, his device pulling him up the rope, toward the hovering Berg. He held on to the grappling-hook weapon with one hand and pointed the pistol above him with the other. As soon as he cleared the edge of the hatch door, three shots rang out in quick succession. Mark watched as the man climbed onto the ramp, his feet the last things to disappear from sight. A few seconds later, another green-suited body was launched over the edge, slamming onto empty dirt.

    “The other hook!” Alec screamed down at him. “Hurry, before more come out or they take off!” He didn’t wait for a reply before turning to face the main body of the Berg.

    Mark’s heart raced, almost hurting as it thumped rapidly against his ribs. He looked around, spotted the other hulking device on the ground where Alec had dropped it. Mark picked it up, examined it, felt a rush of panic that he wouldn’t know how to use the stupid thing.

    “Just aim it up here!” Alec shouted down. “If it doesn’t catch, I’ll tie it on myself. Hurry!”

    Mark held it like a rifle and pointed it directly toward the middle of the hatch door. He pulled the trigger. The recoil was strong but he leaned into it this time, felt the bump of pain on his shoulder. The hook and trailing rope shot toward the Berg, up and over the edge of the open hatch. It clanged and slipped backward, but Alec grabbed it just in time. Mark watched as Alec hurried to one of the hydraulic shafts and wrapped the hook tightly around it.

    “Okay!” Alec yelled. “Push the green retractor butt—”

    He was cut off when the Berg’s engines roared to a higher pitch and the vehicle vaulted into the air. Mark gripped the end of the grappling device just as it pulled him off his feet, yanking him skyward. He heard Trina shout at him from below, but the ground fell away, the people growing smaller by the second. Fear suffused Mark as he held on, squeezing his fingers so tightly they turned bone-white. Looking down made his head spin and his stomach lurch, so he forced his gaze to the hatch door.

    Alec was just scrambling back over the edge of the ramp door—he’d almost been sent sailing to his death. He kicked and pulled himself to safety, using the same rope to which Mark clung for dear life. Then he flopped onto his stomach and peered down at Mark with wide eyes.

    “Find the green button, Mark!” he yelled. “Push it!”

    The air was rushing around Mark’s body, the wind combined with the power of the thrusters. The Berg was ascending, now at least two hundred feet off the ground, and moving forward, heading for the trees. They’d clip Mark within seconds and either tear him to pieces or rip him from the rope. He held on as he frantically searched the device for the button.

    There it was, a few inches down from the trigger that had shot out the hook and rope. He hated to let go, even for a second, but he focused all his strength into his right hand, clenching his fingers even tighter, then went for it with his left. His entire body flopped back and forth in the air, swaying against the wind and jolting at every bump of the Berg. The tops of the pines and oaks rushed in. He couldn’t get enough control to push the button.

    Suddenly there was a clank and a clanging and the squeal of metal above him and he looked up. The hatch door was closing.

    CHAPTER 6

    “Hurry!” Alec screamed at him from above.

    Mark was just about to try for the button again when they reached the trees. He slapped his left hand back on the weapon and gripped it as hard as he could. He curled into a ball and squeezed his eyes shut. The top branches of the tallest pine slammed into his body as the Berg swung him into it. Needles poked his skin and the spiky points of tree limbs snagged his clothes and scratched his face. They were like skeleton hands trying to claw him free, pull him to his death. Every inch of his body seemed scraped by something.

    But he made it through, the Berg’s momentum and the rope jerking him from the tree’s clutches. He relaxed his legs, then kicked out wildly as the ship swung around, sending him flying in a huge arc. The hatch door was halfway closed and Alec leaned out and over, trying to pull the rope up, his face almost purple from yelling. His words were lost in the noise of it all.

    Mark’s stomach was churning, but he knew he had only one more chance. He let go of the device with his left hand, felt along the side until he found the trigger again, fingered his way to where he knew the green button to be. His peripheral vision showed more trees coming his way, the Berg dipping lower now so that there’d be no chance of his making it through.

    He found the button, pressed it, but his fingers slipped. Branches reached for him, and he tried again, pressing the device against his body for leverage, then pushing the button hard. It clicked in and he shot upward just as his body swung into the thick foliage of the trees. He barreled through them, vaulting toward the hatch above, branches smacking him in the face. There was a whirring sound as the rope retracted into the device, yanking him to Alec, who had a hand outstretched. The metal slab of the door was only two or three feet from sealing shut.

    Mark let go of the device just before he hit the sharp corner of the slowly rising hatch door, leaping to catch Alec’s hand and grab at the metal with his other. He lost his grip, but Alec held him firmly, pulling him headfirst through the narrowing gap. It was a tight fit and Mark had to squirm and kick, but he finally squeezed through just in time, though he had to yank the sole of his shoe loose from the closing jaws of the hatch. It slammed shut with a thunderous boom that echoed off the dark walls of the Berg’s interior.

    It was cool inside, and once the echo faded, the only thing Mark could hear was the sound of his own heavy breathing. The darkness was complete—at least for his unadjusted eyes, after being out in the blinding sun. He sensed Alec nearby, also sucking in air to catch his breath. Every last inch of Mark’s body ached, and he felt blood oozing in several spots. The Berg had come to a stop, humming as it hovered in place.

    “I can’t believe we just did that,” Mark said, his voice echoing. “But why isn’t there an army of people waiting here to take care of us, throw us overboard? Shoot us with those darts?”

    Alec let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t know. They might have a skeleton crew, but I think there’s at least one guy in there waiting on us.”

    “He could be aiming one of those dart guns at my head right now.”

    “Bah!” Alec spat. “It’s my guess those guys were nobodies, sent in to do the job professionals should’ve done. Maybe we cleaned out their crew. Everyone except the pilot, at least.”

    “Or maybe there are ten guys with guns waiting outside this room,” Mark muttered.

    “Well, one of those two scenarios, anyway,” Alec answered. “Come on, let’s go.” The soldier shuffled forward; Mark could only track his movement from the sounds he made. It seemed like he was crawling.

    “But …,” Mark began, then realized he had nothing to say. What else were they going to do, sit there and play blind hopscotch until someone came out to greet them with cookies and milk? He got on his hands and knees, wincing from the beating he just took, and followed his friend.

    A faint light source appeared a few feet ahead, and as they got closer their surroundings began to come into focus a bit. They seemed to be in some sort of storage room, with shelves along all the walls and straps or chain-link doors to keep everything in place. But at least half of the shelves were empty.

    The light was a glowing panel above a squat metal door with bolts lining its edges.

    “I wonder if they locked us in,” Alec said as he finally stood. He walked over to the door and tried the handle. Sure enough, it wouldn’t budge.

    Mark was relieved to stand up—the floor was hard against his knees—but his muscles complained as he pulled himself to his feet. It’d been a while since he’d exerted so much energy, and getting the tar beaten out of him by a bunch of trees was an absolute first.

    “What’s going on, anyway?” he asked. “What does anyone want with our little nothing of a village? And shooting us with darts? I mean, what was that?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire