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I Am Number Four

This follows the story of John Smith, a 15-year-old alien from the planet Lorien, and Henri, his guardian Cêpan, as they run from the Mogadorians, another alien race that is hunting John and eight other teenage Lorics residing on the planet Earth. The teenagers are protected by a spell or charm that only allows them to be killed in numeric order. The first three have been killed, and John is Number Four.

Six's Legacy

The novella depicts Number Six living and training with her Cêpan Katarina before Number Two was killed. This novella continues on to depict Six's and Katarina's capture by the Mogadorians, Katarina's death and Six's eventual escape from the Mogadorians with the help of her first legacy, invisibility. The story then ends with Six's decision to go to Paradise, Ohio to help Number Four in battle with the Mogadorians.

The Power of Six

The story is told by two members of the Garde: Number Four (John Smith), who is on the run with Sam, Six, and Bernie Kosar, and Number Seven, who's hiding at Santa Teresa, a convent in Spain. While John, Number Six and Sam try to stay ahead of the Mogadorians while searching for the other surviving Loric, Number Seven searches for news of John after his heroic battle at the school that came at the end of I Am Number Four.

The Rise of Nine

The Rise of Nine is a young adult science fiction novel by Pittacus Lore and the third novel in The Lorien Legacies series. It is set to be published by HarperCollins on August 21, 2012, and is the first book in the series not to be written by Jobie Hughes, who stepped away from the project after finishing the first draft of The Power of Six, which was later revised by another writer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Six's Legacy - Chapter 19


CHAPTER NINETEEN

Years have passed.
I live an unsettled life, hopping from town to town. I avoid
connections or ties, and focus on developing my fighting
abilities  and  developing  my  Legacies.  Invisibility  was
followed  by  telekinesis,  and  in  recent  months  I’ve
discovered a new ability: I can control and manipulate the
weather.
I use that Legacy sparingly, as it’s an easy way to attract
unwanted attention. It manifested months ago, in a small
suburb outside Cleveland. I had been following a lead on
one of the Garde that didn’t go anywhere and, discouraged,
I was ambling back towards my motel, sipping an iced
coffee. My leg burst into searing pain, and I dropped my
drink on the ground.
My third scar. Three was dead.
I fell to the ground in pain and in rage, and before I knew
what was happening the sky above me filled with clouds. A
full-on lightning storm followed.
I am in Athens, Georgia, now. It’s a cool little city, one of
the  best  I’ve  passed  through  in  the  past  couple  years.
College students everywhere. I’ve got a bit of a vagabond
roughness to my appearance that stands out in suburban
areas, but surrounded by college-age hippies and music
nerds  and  hipsters  I  don’t  look  quite  so  unusual.  This
makes me feel safe.
All  of  my  leads  have  gone  dead,  and  I  have  yet  to
discover one of my kind. But I know it is coming. Time to
assemble the Garde. If my Legacies are developing at this
rate, I am certain the same is true of the others like me.
There will be signs soon, I can feel it.
I am patient, but excited: I am ready to fight.
I wander the street, sipping the dregs of an iced coffee. It’s
become  my  drink  of  choice.  I  have  resorted  to
pickpocketing to finance my appetites, but it’s become so
easy that I never have to outright fleece anyone. I just take a
few bucks here or there to get by.
I am suddenly knocked by a gust of wind, practically off
my feet. For a second I think I’ve lost control, that it’s my
own power that caused it. But the wind ends as soon as it
began, and I realize it did not come from me. But it has
swung the door of another café open.
I almost keep walking, but my eye is caught by an open
computer terminal at the back of the café. I use internet
cafés to keep tabs on the news, looking for items that could
turn into a lead on my kind. Doing it makes me feel closer
to Katarina. I have become my own Cêpan.
I chuck my empty cup in the trash outside and step into
the air-conditioned chill of the place. I take my seat, and
begin scanning the news.
An item from Paradise, Ohio, catches me. A teenager
was seen leaping from a burning building. New to town.
Named John. The reporter mentioned how hard it was to
get solid information on him.
I stand up so quickly I send the chair flying out from under
me. I know in an instant he’s one of us, though I don’t know
how I know. Something in that gust of wind. Something
about the way butterflies are now fluttering in my stomach,
brushing my insides with their wings.
Perhaps  this  recognition  is  a  part  of  the  charm,
something that lets us know that a hunch is more than I
hunch. I know.
I just know.
My heart races with excitement. He’s out there. One of
the Garde.
I run out of the café and onto the street. Left, right … I’m
not sure which way to turn, how to get to Paradise as
quickly as I can.
I take a deep breath.
It’s beginning, I think. It’s finally beginning.
I laugh at my own paralysis. I remember that the bus
station  is  a  mile  down  the  road.  I  make  a  habit  of
memorizing all transport routes into and out of any town I
visit, and the bus route out of Athens returns to my mind.
The  beginning  of  a  plan  to  get  to  Paradise  starts  to
develop.
I turn and begin the walk to the station.

Six's Legacy - Chapter 18


CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

I follow him through the halls on tiptoe, careful to maintain
my invisibility—I’ve learned enough about my Legacy by
now to know that any surprise or break in concentration can
cause me to fade back in.
I watch as he ducks into a cell. I sneak in behind him as the
door shuts.
Unaware he has company, he walks to the corner of the
room and begins to tidy up. I look down. There is blood on
the floor, his weapons are out. He has tortured and killed
others.
I have never killed a Mogadorian before. Not counting the
Mogadorians who died trying to kill me, I have only in my
entire life killed a rabbit, and a piken. To my own shock, I
realize I am thirsty for murder.
I grab a razor from his desk and approach him. The
blade feels good in my hand. It feels right.
I know better than to give him a chance to beg, or plead,
to shake me from my resolve. I clutch him from behind and
slit his throat with one clean slice. His mouth gurgles and
spews blood across the floor, against my hands. He falls to
his knees and then bursts into ash.
I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt.
I open my mouth to speak. That’s for Katarina, I’m about
to say. But I don’t.
I don’t speak because I know it’s a lie.
That wasn’t for Katarina. That was for me.
I emerge from the complex an hour later, exhausted and
struggling to stay invisible as I climb out to the mountaintop,
as I run from the mountain to a hill opposite. I have to stop
to rest, to adapt to the blinding midday sun.
My translucent skin bakes beneath the sun. I stare at the
mouth of the complex, already hard to make out from this
distance. I don’t trust my memory, so I pause to memorize
its shape, its precise location.
I am sure Mogs have fanned out through the complex,
looking for me. And I’m sure they have crawled out of the
exit, and are even right now searching through the trees
along these hills.
Let them look.
They’ll never find me.
I run for a few miles through trees, until I come to a road in a
small mining town. I’m running barefoot, so the road slaps
hard against my feet, killing my joints. I don’t care; I’ll get a
pair of sneakers eventually.
I find a truck idling at the town’s only stoplight. I lightly hop
into the back of the pickup, letting the truck take me farther
and farther away from the Mogadorian complex. When the
trucker stops for gas a few hours later, I dash, still invisible,
into the cab, rifling through his stuff. I take a handful of
quarters, a pen, a couple scraps of paper, and an uneaten
bag of barbecue chips.
I run behind the gas station and sit in the shade. I draw a
map of the complex’s entrance on one side of the paper,
and  a  diagram  of  the  tunnels  inside  as  best  as  I  can
remember. It will be a long time before I put this to use, but I
know my memory of their hideaway is the most valuable
thing I possess, and it must be preserved.
Once I finish the diagram, I throw my head back. It’s
sunset, but I can still feel of the warmth of the sun on my
face. I open the bag of chips and eat them in three messy
bites. The salty-sweet chips taste delicious, wonderful.
I am in a motel room, at long last. For a full day I wandered,
driven by the urge for shelter and rest. There was no way I
could afford a room, and in my desperation I began to
consider thievery. Pick a few pockets, plunk down the cash
I’d need. Using my Legacy, stealing would be a piece of
cake.
But then it occurred to me I wouldn’t need to steal, not yet
anyway. Instead I went into the lobby of a small motel, went
invisible, and snuck into the hotel manager’s office. I lifted
the key for room 21 off the hook. I wasn’t sure how I was
going to get the floating key past the crowded lobby and I
paused for a moment, frozen in the office. But soon the key
disappeared too, in my palm.
I’d never made an object disappear before, only myself
and my clothes. A hint of my Legacy’s other uses.
I’ve been in the room for a couple hours. So I feel less
like I’m thieving, I sleep above the covers, in the chill of the
room’s AC.
I catch myself: I’ve been invisible the whole time I’ve been
in the room, clenched from the exertion of sustaining it. It’s
like holding your breath.
I get up and approach the mirror across the room, letting
it go. My body fills in in the mirror, and I see my face for the
first time in over seven months.
I gasp.
The girl who stares back at me is almost unrecognizable.
I’m hardly even a girl anymore.
I stare at myself for a long time, standing alone in the
room,  unattended,  unaccompanied,  aching  for  Katarina,
aching for a worthy tribute to her.
But it’s right there. In the new hardness and definition of
my face, in the muscled curve of my arm. I am a woman
now, and I am a warrior. Her love and the loss of her is
etched forever in the firm set of my jaw.
I am her tribute. Survival is my gift to her.
Satisfied, I return to the motel bed and sleep for days.

Six's Legacy - Chapter 17


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

It has taken two days, but I have learned to wield my first
Legacy.  My  control  is  not  perfect  yet:  sometimes  my
invisibility  stutters,  and  I  panic,  struggling  to  restore  it.
Turning it off and on is not like turning a light switch up or
down; it takes a certain kind of concentration.
Katarina’s  breathing  exercises  have  come  in  handy.
When I struggle to control my invisibility, I turn my focus to
my breathing—in, out—and then back to the ability. After
I’m able to make my hand invisible at will, I start practicing
with other parts of my body. It’s like flexing a new muscle—
it feels strange at first but quickly feels natural. Next, I let my
whole body fade out. It’s no more difficult than making my
hand disappear; in fact, it seems to take less precision.
I am ready.
I go fully invisible and wait for the next food drop. It takes
some of my energy to maintain the invisibility, energy I wish
I could conserve, but I have only that single instant for my
snare to work and I can’t risk them seeing me transform.
Finally, a Mog appears. The food slot opens, the tray is
tossed in. It shuts.
I worry the snare hasn’t worked. Maybe the Mogs don’t
bother to check on me, to look for me in my cell? In which
case my power is totally useless—
The slot opens again. Two beady eyes peer into the
shadows, squinting.
In,  out.  Sometimes  nerves  can  send  me  back  into
visibility and I can’t spoil this moment. In, out. The worst-case scenario is them discovering my power before I can
use it against them.
It is a strange thing, willing someone to see my absence.
The slot closes again. I hear the Mog walk away and my
heart plummets. Where’d he go? Didn’t he notice that I’m
not here—
The door opens suddenly. Soon, my tiny cell is filled with
Mogadorian guards, four in total. I press myself against the
far corner, hiding. They are huddled close, conferring about
my apparent disappearance. No way out.
One leaves and runs down the hall. His exit creates more
space in the room, less chance that someone will stumble
onto me, and I breathe easier.
One of them whirls his arm in frustration, and I have to
duck as quickly as I can. He barely misses me. Close call.
I dodge, quiet as a cat, into the corner nearest the door.
Two of the Mogs stand deep in the cell, but one of them
blocks the exit.
Move, I think. Move.
I can hear footsteps, racing towards the cell. More Mogs.
I know that all it will take is one Mog brushing my shoulder
or sensing my breath for me and my new Legacy to be
discovered. The footsteps are getting closer. The Mog by
the door steps further into the cell to accommodate those
on their way and I lunge out into the hallway.
I nearly fall on the stone floor outside my cell, but I catch
my balance just in time. Flesh slapping against stone: I
surely would’ve been discovered.
A horde of Mogs is racing down the hall towards my cell
from the left. No choice but to run right. I take off, landing as
delicately as I can. Quiet as a cat.
It is a long hall. I struggle to maintain quiet, my bare feet
making only the faintest of noises as I run and run and run.
At first I am scared, but then I can feel it: freedom, up
ahead.
I go faster, landing on arched feet to mute the noise. My
heart leaps up into my chest as I exit the hall and find myself
in the center of the Mogadorian complex, a massive cavern
fed by many other tunnels like the one I just came from.
Closed-circuit security cameras are everywhere. When I
spot them, my chest leaps with fear, but then I remember I
am invisible, to cameras as well as to Mogs.
For how long, I don’t know.
A  siren  is  pulled.  I  should’ve  expected  that.  Flashing
security lights go off as the cavern is filled with the alarm’s
shriek. The high walls of the cave only amplify it.
I take off again, choosing a tunnel at random.
I pass other cells like mine, then steel doors that probably
hold more prisoners.
I wish I had time to help them. But all I can do is run, and
keep running, as long as my invisibility will hold.
I  dodge  left  off  the  tunnel,  passing  a  large,  glass-windowed  room  to  my  right.  It  is  illuminated  by  bright
fluorescents. Inside hundreds and hundreds of computers in
rows hum and sift data, no doubt looking for signs of my
fellow Garde. I keep running.
I pass another laboratory, also glass-windowed, this one
to my left. Mogadorians in white plastic suits and goggles
stand inside. Scientists? Bomb chemists? I am past them
before I have a chance to see what they’re doing. I can only
assume something awful.
My brain is split by the siren, and I want to close my ears.
But I need my hands to keep my balance as I run, to keep
my  footsteps  dainty  and  soundless.  I  have  the  strange
thought that for all my bluntness, my tomboyishness, my
warrior’s  training,  I  now  find  myself  calling  on  such  a
feminine skill—being lightfooted, like a ballerina.
The tunnel feeds into another center, this one even larger
than the other. I had assumed that what I saw earlier was
the heart of the complex, but this is truly it: a cavernous hall
half a mile wide and so dark and murky I can barely see
across to the other side.
I am covered in sweat, out of breath. It is hot in here. The
walls  and  ceiling  are  lined  with  huge  wooden  trellises
keeping  the  cave  from  collapsing  in  on  itself.  Narrow
ledges  chiseled  into  the  rock  face  connect  the  tunnels
dotting the dark walls. Above me, several long arches have
been carved from the mountain itself to bridge the divide
from one side to the other.
I catch my breath and wipe my brow, to keep my own
sweat from blinding me.
There are so many tunnels, none of them marked. My
heart plummets. I realize I could run and run through this
complex for days without finding the way out. I imagine
myself like a rat in a laboratory maze, scampering and
weaving to no avail.
Then I see it: a single pinprick of natural light, up above.
There must be a way out up there. It will be a steep climb up
these walls, but I can do it. As I grab the trellis to hoist
myself up, I hear it.
“She will be found.”
It’s him. Katarina’s executioner.
He is speaking to a few guard Mogs, on a walkway
above  me.  The  guards  tramp  off.  My  eyes  pin  to  the
executioner as he takes a detour back into the complex.
I must choose. Between escape and vengeance. The
light above beckons me like water in a desert. I wonder
exactly how long it’s been since I last saw sunlight.
But I turn around.
I choose vengeance.

Six's Legacy - Chapter 16



CHAPTER SIXTEEN

I have come to appreciate the tiny differences in the food
they serve me. It’s always the same gray slop, some protein
and wheat blended into a paste and ladled onto my serving
tray. But sometimes it is made with more water and less
wheat, more wheat and less protein, etc.
Today is a heavy protein day. I swallow it down without
joy but with some gratitude: my muscles still hurt from my
battle with the piken and the guard, and I figure the protein
will do me good.
I take my last bite and back into the corner.
It is dark in my cell, but there is just enough light from the
foodslot that I can see my feet, and my hands, and my food
tray.
Except today I can’t see my hand. I can see my left one,
but not my right one.
It has taken a long time to hone my vision to this state of
sensitivity in the dark, so I’m furious at its failure. I wave my
right hand in front of my face, twisting it left and right in my
sleeve. But still all I see is darkness. I slap my face, blink,
trying to bring my vision back.
But still my right hand is a void.
Finally I reach down and pick up my fork, holding it in
front of my face.
I feel a thrill in my stomach as I push it down into my hand.
I don’t want any false hope. I know I can’t survive any false
hope.
But I can see the fork. And I still can’t see my hand.
At that moment my cell door opens and a lowly Mog
enters. He’s come to retrieve my serving tray. All it takes is
the light from the hallway flooding the room to confirm my
suspicion.
My right hand is invisible.
My first Legacy has arrived.
I gasp. Of all the skills I could develop, this seems like the
one—the only one—that might get me out of this prison
alive.
The Mog grunts at me suspiciously, and I tuck my hollow-looking sleeve behind my back, hoping he didn’t see. I am
dizzy with joy.
He’s a stupid one, and doesn’t notice a thing. He lifts my
tray from the floor and exits the room.
I am plunged back into darkness, and wait impatiently for
my eyes to adjust to the point where I can see my new
ability again. There it is. Hollow sleeve, invisible hand. I roll
up my sleeve and look at my arm. My hand is completely
invisible, my forearm milky, nearly translucent, but by my
elbow I’m fully visible.
I can see I’ll need to practice this skill.

Six's Legacy - Chapter 15


CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Weeks turn into months.
Some days they don’t feed me, but my pendant keeps
me from dying of thirst or starvation. What’s harder is the
absence of sunlight, the endless immersion in darkness.
Sometimes I lose track of where my body ends and the
darkness begins. I lose sense of my own existence, my own
borders. I am a cloud of ink in the night. Black on black.
I feel forgotten. Incarcerated, with no hope of escape,
and with no information that can lead them to the others, I
am useless to them for now. Until they’ve killed the ones
before me, until my extinction date.
The urge to survive has gone dormant in me. I live not
because I want to but because I can’t die. Sometimes, I
wish I could.
Even so, I force myself to do the work of staying as fit and
limber and as ready for combat as I can. Push-ups, situps,
games of Shadow.
In  these  games  of  Shadow  I  have  learned  to  play
Katarina’s  part  as  well  as  my  own,  giving  myself
instructions,  describing  my  imagined  attackers,  before  I
respond with my commands.
I  loved  this  game  before,  but  now  I  hate  it.  Still,  in
Katarina’s honor, I continue to play.
As I was lying to the Mog, I thought I was doing it so he
would spare Katarina, let her live. But as soon as I saw his
knife pierce her heart I realized what I was really doing:
hastening her end. I was giving him everything I knew so he
would finish her off, so she wouldn’t have to suffer anymore,
so I wouldn’t have to watch her suffer anymore.
I tell myself that was the right thing to do. That it’s what
Katarina would’ve wanted. She was in such pain.
But I’ve been without her so long at this point that I would
give anything for another moment with her, even if she had
to suffer unimaginable torments for it. I want her back.
The Mogadorians continue to test the boundaries of my
conditional immortality. These trials take time to plan and
construct. But every week or so I am dragged out of my cell
and brought to another, jury-rigged for my destruction.
The first week after Katarina’s death I was brought to a
small chamber and made to stand on a sharp steel grill
several feet off the floor. The door was sealed behind me. I
waited for a few minutes as the room filled with noxious-looking  gas,  curling  up  from  beneath  the  grill  in  green
tendrils. I covered my mouth, trying not to breathe it, but I
could only hold my breath for so long. I gave up, gulping in
their poison, only to discover it smelled like the coolest and
freshest of mountain breezes to me. Furious Mogs dragged
me out of the room minutes later, pushing me quickly back
to my cell, but I could see the pile of dust beside the door
on  the  way  out.  The  Mog  who  had  pushed  the  button
releasing the gas had died in my place.
The next week they tried to drown me; the week after,
they tried burning me alive. None of these affected me, of
course. Last week, they served me food laced so heavily
with arsenic I swear I could taste each poison grain. They
had brought a cake to my cell. They had no reason to treat
me with dessert, and I knew at once that it was their hope to
trick me with the cake—and in turn trick the charm. They
hoped that if I didn’t know my life was in danger, the charm
wouldn’t work.
Of course I suspected them at once.
But I ate the cake anyway. It was delicious.
By eavesdropping against the slot of my cell door, I later
learned that not one but three Mogadorians perished from
the attempted poisoning.
How many Mogadorians does it take to bake a cake? I
asked  myself  later.  Then,  with  malevolent  satisfaction,  I
answered: Three.
I allow myself to imagine a happy outcome in which the
Mogadorians, who seem to place little value even on their
own lives, keep trying to kill me and end up dying in the
attempt, until there are no Mogadorians left. I know it is just
a fantasy, but it’s a happy one.
I have no idea how long I’ve been here. But I have grown so
hardened to their execution attempts that I am fearless as
they drag me through the halls to yet another. This time I am
thrown into a large, drafty space with dim lights, larger than
any room I’ve been in so far. I know I am being watched
through one-way glass or a video monitor, so I wear my
face in a sneer. A sneer that reads: Bring it on.
Then I hear it. A low, guttural moan. It’s so deep I can feel
it, rattling through the floor. I whirl around to see, deep in the
shadows of the room, a large steel cage. It looks familiar.
I hear jaws snapping hungrily, followed by the sounds of
massive lips smacking.
The piken. The beast from our trip out here.
Now I am scared.
There’s a bright flash. Suddenly I’m bathed in strobing
red lights, and the steel bars of the cage retract.
Weaponless, I fall back against the opposite corner of
the room.
Clever, I think. The Mogs have never pitted me against
a living creature before.
The piken steps out. A four-legged monster, it stands like
a bulldog the size of a rhino: forelegs bowed, mouth all
dripping, sagging jowls. Massive teeth jut from its mouth
like tusks. Its skin is a putrid, knobby green. It smells of
death.
It roars at me, drenching me in a spittle so thick I fear I
will slip on it. Then it charges.
I  can’t  believe  my  own  body.  I’m  stiff  from  solitary
confinement,  I  haven’t  practiced  combat  in  months,  but
instinct  and  adrenaline  kick  in,  and  soon  enough  I  am
dodging  the  beast  like  a  pro,  careening  off  corners,
ducking between its legs.
The  piken  roars,  frustrated,  getting  more  and  more
worked up, battering the walls with its head.
I haven’t had this much fun in years, I think, as I manage
to give it a roundhouse kick across the face.
I land on the ground, beaming from my well-placed kick,
but I land in one of its spit puddles and my arms and legs
give  out  in  the  slime.  It’s  a  momentary  lapse,  but  it’s
enough: The beast has me in its jaws.
My whole body floods with warmth, and I am sure that this
is the end.
But no pain comes. The creature lets out a long whimper
and then releases me from its jaws. It’s a five-foot drop
from its mouth to the floor and I land on my knee, which
hurts worse than the bite.
I turn to see the piken sprawled out, mouth open, chest
heaving powerfully. A massive crescent of puncture wounds
stud its chest. It took the brunt of its own bite.
It lets out another low, pitiful moan.
Of course, I think. A Mogadorian beast is as much a
Mogadorian as any of the rest. It’s susceptible to the charm
too.
I whirl around, trying to get the attention of whoever is
watching.  It  is  clear  to  me  that  the  creature,  though
wounded, will live. Left to their own devices, the Mogs will
nurse  their  beast  back  to  health  so  it  can  live  to  spoil
another day.
I stride over to it, remembering the rabbit I killed all those
years  ago  in  Nova  Scotia.  I  hear  the  footsteps  of
approaching guards and know I must act fast.
A Mog guard bursts into the room. He wields a long
blade, and is about to swing at me when he thinks twice,
realizing he will only kill himself in the process.
I use his hesitation to my advantage. I leap off the ground
and hit him with a high swing kick, his blade clattering to the
floor. One more kick to keep him down, and then I swipe
the blade from the floor.
I approach the heaving, panting beast as more guards
enter the room and I bring the blade straight down, through
the piken’s skull.
Dead in an instant.
The guards swarm around me and drag me out of the
cell. I am dazed but happy.
No mercy.

Six's Legacy - Chapter 14



CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Two days pass. In the dark of my cell I now have more than
madness and boredom to contend with. I must also work to
burn the image of a bloody and broken Katarina from my
mind. I want to remember Katrina as I know her: wise and
strong.
I continue with my breathing exercises. They help.
But not much.
Eventually the cell door opens, and again I’m doused with
cold  water,  gagged  this  time,  blindfolded,  and  dragged
back  to  the  same  cell.  Once  I’ve  been  chained  to  the
ceiling, my blindfold is removed.
Katarina is right where I last saw her, as broken and
battered as before. I can only hope she’s been let down at
some point.
The same Mog as before sits across from us, on the
edge of the desk, a bandage across his sliced cheek. I can
see he is straining to be as menacing as he was before.
But he regards us with a new fear.
I hate him. More than anyone I have ever met. If I could
tear him apart with my bare hands I would. If I couldn’t use
my hands, I would rip him apart with my teeth.
He sees me looking at him. He leaps forward suddenly,
tearing  the  gag  from  my  mouth.  He  wields  the  rubber-handled razor in front of my face again, twisting it, letting the
ceiling light dance across its edge.
“I don’t know what number you are … ” he says. I cringe
involuntarily, expecting him to try and cut me again, but he
holds back. Then, with sadistic deliberateness, he crosses
over  to  Katarina,  pulling  on  her  hair.  Still  gagged,  she
manages only a whimper. “But you’re going to tell me right
now.”
“No!” I scream. He grins with satisfaction at my anguish,
like  he’s  been  waiting  for  it.  He  presses  the  blade  to
Katarina’s arm and slides it down her flesh. Her arm opens
up, pouring blood. She buckles against her chains, tears
flooding her face. I try to scream but my voice gives out: all
that comes out is a high, pained gasp.
He makes another cut beside the first, this one even
deeper. Katarina succumbs to the pain and goes limp.
With my teeth, I think.
“I can do this all day,” he says. “Do you understand me?
You’re going to tell me everything I want to know, starting
with what number you are.”
I close my eyes. My heart burns. I feel like a volcano, only
there’s no opening, no outlet for the rage filling up inside of
me.
When I open my eyes he’s back at the desk, tossing a
large blade from his left hand to his right hand and back.
Playfully, waiting for my gaze. Now that he’s got it, he holds
the blade up so I can see its size.
It begins to glow in his hands, changing colors: violet one
second, green the next.
“Now  …  your  number.  Four?  Seven?  Are  you  lucky
enough to be Number Nine?”
Katarina,  barely  conscious,  shakes  her  head.  I  know
she’s signalling me to keep silent. She has kept her silence
this long.
I struggle to keep quiet. But I can’t handle it, can’t watch
him hurt my Katarina. My Cêpan.
He  walks  over  to  Katarina,  still  wielding  the  blade.
Katarina murmurs something beneath her gag. Curious, he
lowers it from her mouth.
She spits a thick wad of blood onto the floor by his feet.
“Torturing me to get to her?”
He eyes her hatefully, impatient. “Yes, that’s about right.”
Katarina manages a scornful, slow-building laugh. “It took
you two whole days to come up with that plan?”
I can see his cheeks turn red at the well-aimed jab. Even
Mogadorians have their pride.
“You must be some kind of idiot,” she howls. I thrill at
Katarina’s impudence, proud of her defiance but afraid of
what the consequence will be.
“I have all the time in the galaxies for this,” he says flatly.
“While you are in here with me, we are out there with the
rest  of  you.  Don’t  think  anything  has  stopped  us  from
moving forward just because we have you. We know more
than you think. But we want to know everything.”
He  cruelly  strikes  Katarina  with  the  butt  of  the  knife
before she can speak again.
He turns to me.
“If you don’t want to see her sliced into little pieces, then
you better start talking, and fast. And every single word that
comes out better be true. I will know if you’re lying.”
I know he isn’t playing games, and I can’t bear to see him
hurt Katarina again. If I talk, maybe he’ll be merciful. Maybe
he’ll leave her alone.
It  comes  out  so  fast  I  barely  have  time  to  order  my
thoughts, so fast I barely know what I’m saying when I say it.
I  have  one  intention,  but  it’s  a  murky  one:  to  tell  him
everything I know that he can’t use against me or the other
Loriens.  I  tell  him  pointless  details  about  my  previous
journeys with Katarina, our previous identities. I tell him
about my Chest, but I don’t give its burial location, claiming
it was lost in our journey. Once I start talking I’m afraid to
stop. I know that if I pause to measure my words he will
smell my deceit.
Then he asks me what number I am.
I know what he wants to hear: that I am number Four. I
can’t be Three, or else they would have been able to kill
me. But if I’m Four then all he’ll need is to find and kill Three
before he can begin his bloody work on me.
“I am Number Eight,” I say finally. I am so scared I say it,
with a desperate, cringing sigh, that I know that he’s fooled.
His face falls.
“Sorry to disappoint you,” I croak out.
His disappointment is short-lived. He begins to beam,
victorious. I may not be the number he wanted, but he got
my number out of me. Or what he thinks is my number.
I search out Katarina’s eyes, and though she is barely
conscious, I can see the faintest hint of gratitude in her
eyes. She is proud of me for giving him the wrong number.
“You really are weak, aren’t you?” He stares at me with
contempt. Let him, I think. I feel a surge of superiority over
him: he was dumb enough to believe my lie.
“Your relatives on Lorien, as easy as they fell, at least
they were fighters. At least they had some bravery and
dignity. But you…” He shakes his head at me, then spits on
the floor. “You have nothing, Number Eight.”
At that, he raises his arm with the blade and thrusts it,
deep into Katarina. I hear the sound of bone cracking, of
the knife pushing through her sternum, right into her heart.
I scream. My eyes search out Katarina’s. She meets my
gaze  for  one  last  instant.  I  will  myself  past  my  chains
towards  her,  struggling  to  be  there  for  her  in  her  last
moment.
But her last moment goes fast.
My Katarina is dead.

Six's Legacy - Chapter 13


CHAPTER THIRTEEN

I have been in my cell for three days. I have nothing in here
with me but a bucket of water, another bucket to use as a
toilet, and an empty metal tray from yesterday’s meal.
There is not a speck of food left on the tray: I licked it
clean yesterday. When I woke up in my cell three days ago
it had been my intention to mount a hunger strike against
my captors, to refuse all food and water until they let me
see my Katarina. But two days passed with no food or
water from them anyway. I had begun to imagine I’d been
forgotten in my cell. By the time the food arrived, I was so
far  out  of  my  mind  with  hopelessness  that  I  forgot  my
original plan and wolfed down the slop they shoved through
the little slot of my cell door.
The odd thing is that I wasn’t even particularly hungry. My
spirits were low but I didn’t feel weak from hunger. My
pendant throbbed dully against my chest during my days in
the dark, and I began to suspect the charm was keeping
me safe from hunger and dehydration. But even though I
wasn’t  starving,  or  dehydrated,  I’d  never  gone  so  long
without food or water in my life, and the experience of being
deprived  drove  me  to  a  kind  of  temporary  madness.  I
wasn’t hungry or thirsty physically, but I was mentally.
The walls are made of heavy, rough stone. It feels less
like  a  prison  cell  and  more  like  a  makeshift  burrow.  It
seems to have been carved out of a natural stone formation
instead of built. I take this as a clue that we’re in some
natural structure: a cave, or the inside of a mountain.
I know I may never find out the answer.
I have attempted to chip at the walls of my cell, but even I
know  there  is  nothing  I  can  do.  In  my  attempts,  all  I
accomplished was to wear my nails down until the tips of
my fingers bled.
The only thing left now is to sit in my cell and try to hold on
to my sanity.
That is my sole mission: to not let my solitary confinement
drive me to madness. I can let it harden me, I can let it
toughen me, but I must not let it make me crazy. It’s a
strange challenge, staying sane. If you focus too hard on
maintaining your sanity, the slipperiness of the task can
only make you crazier. On the other hand, if you forget your
mission, if you try to maintain your sanity by not thinking
about the matter at all, you can find your mind wandering in
such dizzying patterns that you wind up, again, at madness.
The trick is to forge a middle ground between the two: a
detachment, a state of neutrality.
I focus on my breathing. In, out. In, out.
When I’m not stretching or doing push-ups in the corner,
this is what I do: just breathe.
In, out. In, out.
Katarina  calls  this  meditating.  She  used  to  try  to
encourage  me  to  do  meditation  exercises  to  keep  my
focus. She felt it would aid me in combat. I never followed
her advice. It seemed too boring. But now that I’m in my
cell, I find it is a lifeline, the best way for me to keep my
sanity.
I am meditating when the door to my cell opens. I turn
around, my eyes straining to adjust to the light coming in
from the hall. A Mog stands in the light, backed by several
others.
I see he’s holding a bucket, and for a second I imagine
he’s brought fresh water for me to drink.
Instead, he steps forward and empties the bucket over
my head, dousing me in cold water. It is a harsh indignity
and I shiver at the cold, but it’s also bracing, restorative. It
brings me back to life, back to my pure hatred of these
bastard Mogs.
He  lifts  me  off  my  feet,  dripping  wet,  and  wraps  a
blindfold around my head.
He drops me again and I struggle to stay upright.
“Come,” he says, shoving me out of my cell and into the
hall.
The blindfold is thick, so I am walking in total blackness.
But my senses are keen and I manage a nearly straight
line. I can also sense other Mogs all around me.
As I walk, my feet cold against the rough stone floors, I
hear the varied screams and moans of my fellow prisoners.
Some are human, some are animal. They must be locked
inside cells like mine. I have no idea who they are or what
the  Mogs  want  them  for.  But  I  am  too  focused  on  my
survival right now to care: I am deaf to pity.
After  a  long  march,  the  Mog  leading  the  guard  says
“Right!” and shoves me to the right. He shoves me hard,
and I land on my knees, scraping them against stone.
I struggle to get to my feet, but I am picked up before I
can, two Mogs throwing me against a wall. My hands are
raised  and  chained  to  a  steel  cord  dangling  from  the
ceiling. My torso is stretched, my toes just barely touching
the ground.
They remove my blindfold. I’m in another cell; this one is
lit, brightly, and my eyes feel like they will burn out adjusting
from three days of nearly total darkness. Once they do, I
see her.
Katarina.
She is chained to the ceiling, as I am. She looks far
worse than me, bloody, bruised, and beaten.
They started with her.
“Katarina,” I whisper. “Are you okay … ?”
She looks up at me, her eyes brimming with tears. “Don’t
look at me,” she says, her eyes drifting down to the floor.
A new Mog enters the room. He is wearing, of all things,
a white polo shirt and a crisp pair of khaki pants. His
haircut is short. His shoes—loafers—scuff quietly across
the floor. He could be a suburban dad, or the manager of a
neighborhood store.
“Howdy,”  he  says.  He  grins  at  me,  his  hands  in  his
pocket. His teeth are white like in a toothpaste commercial.
“Hope you’re enjoying your stay with us so far.” I notice
the bristly hair on his tan arms. He is handsome, in a bland
way, with a compact but strong-looking build. “These caves
can be awfully drafty, but we try to make it as cozy as
possible. I trust you have two buckets in your cell? Wouldn’t
want you to go without.”
His hand reaches out so casually that for a second I think
he is going to caress my cheek. Instead, he pinches it,
hard, giving my flesh a twist. “You are our guests of honor,
after  all,”  he  says,  the  venom  at  last  creeping  into  his
salesman’s voice.
I hate myself for doing it, but I begin to cry. My legs give
out entirely, and I dangle hard against my cuffs. I don’t allow
myself to sob audibly, though: he can see me cry, but I won’t
let him hear it.
“Okay, ladies,” he says, clapping his hands together and
approaching a little desk tucked into the corner of the cell.
He opens a drawer and pulls out a vinyl case, which he
unwraps on the surface of the desk. The ceiling light glints
off an array of sharp steel objects. He picks them up, one at
a  time,  so  I  can  see  them  all.  Scalpels,  razors,  pliers.
Blades of every kind. A pocket-size electric drill. He gives it
a few nerve-shattering whirs before putting it down.
He strides over to me, putting his face right up in mine.
He speaks, and his breath forces its way into my nostrils. I
want to retch.
“Do you see all of these?”
I don’t respond. His breath smells like the breath of the
beast in the cage. Despite his bland exterior, he’s made of
the same foul stuff.
“I intend to use each and every one of them on you and
your  Cêpan,  unless  you  answer  every  question  I  ask
truthfully. If you don’t, I assure you that both of you will wish
you were dead.”
He gives a hateful little grin and walks back over to the
desk, picking up a thin-looking razor blade with a thick
rubber handle. He returns to me, rubbing the dull side of the
blade against my cheek. It’s cold.
“I’ve been hunting you kids for a very long time,” he says.
“We’ve killed two of you, and now we have one right here,
whatever number you are. As you might imagine, I hope you
are Number Three.”
I  try  to  inch  away  from  him,  pressing  my  back  hard
against the cell wall, wishing I could disappear into the
stone. He smiles at me, again pressing the dull side of the
razor into my cheek, harder this time.
“Oops,” he says, tauntingly. “That’s not the right side.”
With a single dexterous motion, he reverses the blade in
his wrist, the sharp side now facing me. “Let’s try it this way,
shall we.”
With reptilian pleasure he brings the blade to the side of
my face and swipes hard against my flesh. I feel a familiar
warmth, but no pain, and watch with shock as his own
cheek begins to bleed instead.
Blood flows from his wound as it splits open like a seam.
He  drops  the  blade,  clutching  his  face,  and  begins
stamping around the room in pain and frustration. He kicks
over the desk, sending his instruments of torture scattering
across the cell, then flees the room. The Mog guards who’d
been  standing  behind  him  exchange  indecipherable
glances.
Before I even have a chance to say anything to Katarina,
the Mogs move forward, unshackle me, and drag me back
to my cell.