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  • Home > James Dashner > Maze Runner Prequel > The Kill Order (Chapter 44)     
  • The Kill Order(Maze Runner Prequel #0.5)(44) by James Dashner
  • Boss suddenly leaps out of the water like a crazed dolphin, his arms slamming onto the back of the boat as he begins to frantically scramble on board. His legs kick and scissor as his hands search for anything to hold on to; he grabs a hook and his muscles bulge as he pulls himself up, water streaming off his body. He has a huge purple bruise covering half his face—the other half is red and angry to match his eyes.

    “I’m gonna kill you,” the man growls. “Every single one of you!”

    The boat is picking up speed. Everything explodes inside Mark at once—he’s not going to let this sorry excuse for a human ruin their chance to escape. Gripping a seat, he rears back his foot and launches it forward, kicking Boss in the shoulder. The man barely budges. Mark pulls back and kicks him again. Then again. He connects each time. Boss is beginning to lose his grip.

    “Let … go!” Mark yells as he slams his foot into the man’s shoulder again.

    “Kill …,” Boss says, but he seems to have no strength left.

    Mark yells with a burst of adrenaline, then throws all his strength into one last assault, this time leaping up and throwing both feet forward. He smashes them into Boss, connecting with his nose and his neck, and the man releases a strangled scream and lets go, falling back into the wake of the churning boat. His body disappears in the white bubbles.

    Mark is desperately sucking in each breath. He scoots himself around and crawls up onto the lip of the seat and looks over the edge. Sees nothing but the wake and black water behind that. Then he spots movement at the open window of the Lincoln Building where Boss fell. It’s receding now, growing smaller, but the woman—Boss’s partner—is standing there, holding her gun. Mark slouches down, waiting for the barrage of bullets. But instead, he notices the woman aim the weapon at herself, the muzzle propped against the bottom of her chin.

    Mark wants to scream, to tell her not to do it. But it’s too late.

    The woman pulls the trigger.

    The boat drives on.

    CHAPTER 48

    Mark woke up in a cold sweat, as if the spray from the water in his dream had doused him while he slept. His head hurt badly again—like something rolled around loose in his skull every time he moved. Thankfully Alec was easy on him and didn’t talk much while they both ate and strengthened themselves for the day ahead. For the search for their friends.

    The two of them were sitting in the cockpit, the light of late morning spilling in through the windows. A warm breeze whistled as it blew through the broken one.

    “You were too dead to the world to notice,” Alec said after they’d sat in silence for a while, “but I took this baby up for an observation run while you were sleeping. And … I confirmed what I’d suspected. Just a couple miles away, the bonfire … they … have Lana, Trina and Deedee. I saw them being herded like sheep.”

    That left a sick lump in Mark’s stomach. “What … do you mean?”

    “A few people were being herded from one house to another. I spotted Lana’s black hair and Trina with the kid in her arms. I got closer to make sure.” Alec took a deep breath before he finished. “At least we know they’re alive and where they are. And now we know what we have to do.”

    Mark should’ve been relieved that his friends weren’t dead. But instead he was consumed by the gnawing realization that to get them out, they’d have to go in and fight. Two against … how many?

    “Did you forget how to talk, kid?”

    Mark had been staring at the back of the pilot’s chair as if something mesmerizing were painted there. “No. Just scared.” He’d given up long ago trying to act brave for the old army vet.

    “Scared. That’s good. A fine soldier is always scared. Makes you normal. It’s how you respond to it that makes or breaks you.”

    Mark smiled. “You’ve given that speech a few times. I think I got it.”

    “Then pour some water down your gullet and let’s get hopping.”

    “Sounds good.” Mark drank long and hard from his canteen, then stood up. The weighty burden of his dream was finally starting to fade a little. “So what’s the plan?”

    Alec was just wiping his mouth. He nodded in the general direction of the Berg’s middle section. “Go get our friends. But first we break into the ship’s weapons stash.”

    Mark knew nothing about Bergs, but Alec knew more than most. In the central area of the ship there was a locked storage facility that required passwords and retinal scans to open. Since they had neither the words nor the eyeballs for such access, they decided to work at it the old-fashioned way: with an axe.

    Luckily the Berg was old and had seen its better days many years before, so it only took three turns each and a half hour of sweat to bust the hinges and locks off the metal door. Little shards of steel clattered across the hallway and the big door tipped over and slammed into the opposite wall. The echo seemed to reverberate through the vessel for a solid minute.

    Alec had thrown the last blow of the axe to make it happen. “Let’s hope there’s still something inside this beast,” he announced.

    The storage room was dark and smelled like dust. The Berg had power, but most of the lights had been broken, except for a small red emergency bulb in the corner that made everything look like it was washed in blood. Alec started searching, but Mark could already see that most of the shelves were empty. Nothing but trash and discarded containers strewn about from the ship tipping upside down now and then. Alec swore under his breath with every disappointing discovery, and Mark was feeling it, too. How could they possibly have a chance if all they had when they went after Trina were their fists and their feet?

    “There’s something over here,” Alec muttered, his voice strained. He was already working to get open whatever he’d found.

    Mark stepped up to him and looked over his shoulder. The object was mostly in shadow, but it appeared to be a large box with several metal clasps.

    “It’s useless,” Alec finally said when his hands slipped off the clasps for the third time. “Go get me that axe.”

    Mark quickly grabbed it from the hallway where Alec had dropped it after pounding the door hinges. He hefted it in his hands, ready to take a shot at getting the box open.

    “You’re gonna do it?” Alec asked, straightening up. “You sure about that?”

    “Huh? What do you mean?”

    Alec pointed at the box. “Boy, do you have any idea what could be inside that thing? Explosives. High-voltage machinery. Poison. Who knows?”

    “And?” Mark pushed.

    “Well, I wouldn’t just start whacking at it or we might be dead before noon. We need to be careful. Delicate, precise hits on the clasps.”

    Mark almost laughed. “Since there’s not one delicate cell in your entire body, I think I’ll give it a go.”

    “Fair enough,” Alec replied, taking a step back and sweeping his hand out with a bow. “Just be careful.”

    Mark gripped the handle of the axe tightly and leaned in, taking little chops instead of full swings at the small but stubborn brackets. Sweat poured down his face and the thing almost slipped out of his hands a couple of times, but eventually he broke the first seal and moved on to the next one. Ten minutes later his shoulders ached like nothing else and his fingers had grown almost numb from gripping so hard. But he’d broken through every last clasp.

    He stood up and stretched his back, unable to keep himself from wincing. “Man, that wasn’t quite as easy as it looked.”

    They both laughed, which made Mark wonder where all the sudden levity had come from. The task ahead of them was treacherous and scary. But for some reason his mind refused to focus on that.

    “Feels good to get yourself worked up in a sweat, doesn’t it?” Alec asked. “Now let’s see what we’ve got waiting for us. Grab that end.”

    Mark slipped his fingers under the small lip of the lid and waited for Alec’s signal. The man counted to three and then they both lifted—it was heavy but they were able to get it up and swing it against the wall, where it crashed with a boom. All Mark could see inside the box were shiny, elongated forms that reflected the red light. The things almost looked wet.

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