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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 30)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(30) by James Dashner
  • His momentum made his gaze shift up when he let go, and he caught a last glimpse through the small crescent gap. He saw the flaming blue thrusters of a Berg and its metal underbelly coming down from the sky above. Then he lost the view and crashed on top of Alec.

    CHAPTER 31

    It took a moment for them to untangle their arms and legs. Alec was cursing and grunting, and at one point Mark started to slip off the edge and the old man pulled him back up, only to resume his cursing. Finally they were standing, straightening their clothes. And then a huge boom sounded throughout the chamber as the mechanism above them slammed shut. Complete darkness enveloped them.

    “Great,” Mark heard Alec say. “Can’t see a thing.”

    “Pull out the workpad,” Mark replied. “I know the battery’s almost dead, but we don’t have much choice.”

    After a grumble of agreement and a scuffling sound, the room lit up with the glow of the workpad’s surface. For a second Mark was back in the tunnels of the subtrans, running with Trina by the glow of his phone. The memories began to flood in, to drown him fully in the horror of that day, but he pushed them away. He had a feeling that the next day or two might do enough to provide him with fresh ones anyway. Sighing, he wondered if he’d ever have a good night’s sleep again.

    “I saw a Berg dropping in at the last second before I swung down,” Mark said, bringing his mind fully to the present and the task at hand. “So we know they had at least two before we crashed one of them.”

    Alec was shining the face of the workpad in different directions, scoping out the area. “Yeah, I could hear those thrusters. I’m guessing that the landing pad sinks down here and the Berg rolls off, then it goes back and up and rotates again. We better hurry before we have company we don’t want.”

    Alec stopped moving the workpad, holding it up to illuminate the entrances to two chambers on opposite sides of the one in which they stood. Grooves in the floor showed where the Bergs were pulled off the landing pad once it sank down. Both cavernous spaces were dark and empty.

    The walkway that encircled the abyss in the center chamber was about four feet wide, and as they inched along, it creaked and groaned. The structure held, though Mark’s heart didn’t slow until he’d crossed it completely. Breathing a sigh of relief, Mark walked up to a round door with a wheel handle in the middle, like something in a submarine.

    “This place was built a long time ago,” Alec said as he handed the workpad over to Mark. “Probably to protect government executives in case of a world catastrophe. Too bad no one had enough time to make it here—I’m sure most of them fried like the rest.”

    “Nice,” Mark said, holding the workpad up so he could examine the door. “You think it’s locked?”

    Alec had already stepped forward and grabbed the wheel tightly with both hands, preparing as though it wouldn’t budge. But when he gave it a try it spun a half circle easily, sending him lurching to the side and crashing into Mark. The two of them stumbled and fell onto the walkway, Mark on top.

    “Kid,” Alec said. “I’ve been closer to you more today than I’d hoped to be in a lifetime. Now make sure you don’t fall off the edge—I need your help around here.”

    Mark laughed as he got to his feet, pushing off on Alec’s gut a little more than he really needed to. “It’s a crying shame you never had kids, old man. Just think what a good grandpa you could’ve been.”

    “Oh yeah,” the former soldier replied through a grunt as he stood up. “That would’ve been a lot of fun imagining them all burning to death when the flares struck.”

    That killed the mood instantly. Mark felt his own face fall as the words made him think of his parents and Madison. Though he’d never know for sure what had happened to them, his mind was super talented at imagining the absolute worst.

    Alec must have noticed. “Oh hell, I’m sorry.” He reached out and squeezed Mark’s shoulder. “Boy, I’m telling you right here and now, with all the sincerity an old buzzard like me can muster, that I’m sorry for what I just said. I don’t envy the losses you felt that day. Not one iota. Work was my family, and it wasn’t the same, I know it.”

    Mark had never heard the man say anything like what’d just come out of his mouth. “It’s okay. Really. Thanks.” He paused, then added, “Grandpa.”

    Alec nodded, then moved back to the wheel, spun it until there was a loud click. He swung the door open, and it clanged as it struck the wall.

    The other side revealed nothing but darkness, though a rumbling hum like the sound of distant machinery grew louder.

    “What is that?” Mark whispered. “It almost sounds like there’s a factory or something down here.” He aimed the workpad’s glow through the open doorway, revealing a long hallway that disappeared into darkness.

    “Generator, I’m sure,” Alec responded.

    “I guess they couldn’t live down here without at least a little electricity. How else would this thing work?” He held the device out in front of him.

    “Exactly. We’ve been living in the wild or in the settlements so long. It brings back memories.”

    “Bergs, generators … you think they have a ton of fuel stored here or are they bringing it in from somewhere else?”

    Alec thought a second. “Well, it’s been a year, and it takes a heap to keep those Bergs afloat. My guess is they’re bringing it in.”

    “We keep going?” Mark asked, though the answer was obvious.

    “Yep.”

    Mark stepped into the hallway first and waited for Alec to join him. “What do we do when someone sees us?” He was whispering, but his voice sounded loud in the confined quarters. “We could use a weapon or two about now.”

    “Tell me about it. Look, we don’t have much choice here. And we don’t have a whole lot to lose. Let’s just keep moving and take it as it comes.”

    They started off down the hallway when something clanged behind them, followed by squeals and grinding gears. Mark didn’t have to look to know that the landing pad—presumably with a Berg perched on top—had begun to sink into the ground.

    Alec acted much calmer than Mark felt. He had to lean in to be heard over the racket. “Let’s wait to see which chamber it goes into and then we’ll hide in the other. We better not get caught in this hallway.”

    “Okay,” Mark said, his heart thumping, his nerves on edge. He turned off the workpad; they didn’t need it with the light spilling in from outside.

    They went back through the door and pulled it shut, then crouched in the shadows of the walkway as the huge Berg descended. Luckily the cockpit was on the other side, so there was little chance of them being seen. Once it had sunk all the way down, there were more clangs and squeals and the ship started moving on tracks into the chamber to the right. Alec and Mark ran to the opposite chamber and hid in the very back, disappearing into the gloom.

    The wait was agonizing, but eventually the Berg found its home. When it stopped moving, the giant landing pad began to move upward again, slowly but surely. Whoever had flown the ship had already disembarked, because Mark could faintly hear voices over the noises, then the sound of the round door being opened.

    “Come on,” Alec whispered into his ear. “Let’s follow them.”

    They slipped out of the chamber and slinked along the walkway. The Berg passengers had left the door of the exit ajar, and Alec crouched next to it, leaning in to listen. He took a peek. Seemingly satisfied that they were in the clear, he gave Mark a stiff nod and slipped into the hallway once again. Mark followed just as the landing pad above him started to rotate, the bushes and earth and small trees heading back toward the sky.

    Voices echoed down the passage ahead of them, but they were too distorted to understand. Alec took the workpad from Mark and slipped it inside his backpack. Then he grabbed Mark’s arm and started pulling him forward, walking close to the wall, his eyes narrowed. Soon everything would be plunged back into darkness.

    They crept down the hallway, step by careful step. Whoever had shown up had decided to stop and talk, because their voices became clearer as Mark and Alec continued their pursuit. It sounded like there were only two of them. Alec finally stopped as well, and suddenly Mark could hear every word.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire