Gally stepped back and opened the door wider. “Come in.”
Thomas felt a rush of guilt at seeing what he’d done to Gally. He had no idea how to act or what to say. He just nodded and forced himself to enter the apartment.
It was a dark but tidy room with no furniture, and it smelled like bacon. A yellow blanket had been hung over the large window, giving the place an eerie glow.
“Have a seat,” Gally said.
All Thomas could think of was finding out how the Right Arm had known he was in Denver and what they wanted, but instinct told him he had to play by their rules before he could get answers. They sat down on the bare floor, he and his friends in a line with Gally facing them like a judge. Gally’s face looked awful in the dim light, and his swol en right eye was bloodshot.
“You know Minho,” Thomas said awkwardly. Minho and Gally gave each other a curt nod. “This is Brenda and Jorge. They’re from WICKED but—”
“I know who they are,” Gally interrupted. He didn’t sound mad, just kind of numb. “Those shucks at WICKED gave me my past back. Without asking, I might add.” His gaze focused on Minho. “Hey, you were real nice to me in our last Gathering. Thanks for that.” The sarcasm was thick.
Thomas shrank at the memory—Minho throwing Gally to the floor, threatening him. He’d forgotten about it.
“I’d had a bad day,” Minho responded, his expression making it impossible to tell if he was serious or even the tiniest bit sorry.
“Yeah, well,” Gally said. “Let bygones be bygones, right?” His snicker made it clear he meant anything but.
Minho might not have had regrets, but Thomas did. “I’m sorry about what I did, Gally.” He held the other boy’s gaze with his own as he said it. He wanted Gally to believe him, to know that he understood that WICKED was their shared enemy.
“You’re sorry? I killed Chuck. He’s dead. Because of me.” Hearing him say that brought Thomas no relief, only sadness.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Brenda said, her tone soothing.
“That’s a bunch of klunk,” Gally said stiffly. “If I had any kind of guts I could’ve stopped them from controlling me. But I let them do it to me ’cause I thought I’d be killing Thomas, not Chuck. Not in a million years would I have let myself murder that poor kid.”
“How generous of you,” Minho said.
“So you wanted me dead?” Thomas asked, surprised at the boy’s honesty.
Gally scoffed. “Don’t get all whiny on me. I hated you more than I’d ever hated anybody in my life. But what happened in the past doesn’t matter one lick anymore. We need to talk about the future. About the end of the world.”
“Wait a second there, muchacho,” Jorge said. “First off, you’re going to tell us every little thing that’s happened since you got shipped out of WICKED till you ended up sitting right where you’re sitting.”
“I wanna know how you knew we were coming,” Minho added. “And when. And who was that weird dude who delivered the message to us?”
Gally snickered again, which actually made his face look even scarier. “I guess being with WICKED
doesn’t exactly fill someone with trust, now, does it.”
“They’re right,” Thomas said. “You’ve got to tell us what’s going on. Especially if you want our help.”
“Your help?” Gally asked. “I don’t know if I’d put it that way. But I’m sure we have the same goals.”
“Listen,” Thomas said. “We need a reason to trust you. Just talk.” After a long pause, Gally began. “The guy who gave you the note is named Richard. He’s a member of a group called the Right Arm. They have people in every city and town left on this crappy planet. Their whole mission is to bring down our old friends—to use WICKED’s money and influence for things that actually matter—but they don’t have the resources to disrupt an organization so huge and powerful. They want to act, but they’re still missing some information.”
“We’ve heard of them,” Brenda said. “But how’d you get involved?”
“They have a couple of spies in the main complex at WICKED, and they got to me, explained how if I faked going crazy, I’d be sent away. I would’ve done anything to get out of that place. Anyway, the Right Arm wanted an insider who knew about how the building functions, the security systems, that kind of klunk. So they attacked my escort car and took me. Brought me here. As for how I knew you were coming, we got an anonymous message over the Netblock. I assumed you guys sent it.” Thomas looked to Brenda for an explanation, but all he got from her was a shrug.
“So it wasn’t you,” Gally said. “Then maybe it was someone at headquarters sending out an alert, trying to set up bounty hunters or whatever. Point is, once we knew about it, from there it was just a matter of hacking into the airport system to see where a Berg had shown up.”
“And you brought us here to talk about taking down WICKED?” Thomas asked. Even the remote possibility of such a thing filled him with hope.
Gally nodded slowly and deliberately before he spoke. “You make it sound so easy. But yeah, that’s about the gist of it. We’ve got two big problems on our hands, though.” Brenda was clearly impatient. “What? Just let it out.”
“Slim it, girl.”
“What problems?” Thomas pushed.
Gally shot Brenda a glare, then looked back at Thomas. “First of all, word is that the Flare is running rampant through this whole shuck city and that all kinds of corruption is going on to hide it because the ones who are sick are government bigwigs. They’re hiding the virus with the Bliss—it slows down the Flare so people who have it can blend in with everyone else, but the virus keeps spreading. My guess is it’s the same all over the world. There’s just no way to keep that beast out.” Thomas felt a fear in his gut. The idea of a world overwhelmed by hordes of Cranks was terrifying. He couldn’t imagine how truly awful things could get—being immune wouldn’t amount to much when that happened.
“What’s the other problem?” Minho asked. “As if that one wasn’t bad enough.”
“People like us.”
“People like us?” Brenda repeated, a confused look on her face. “You mean Immunes?”
“Yeah.” Gally leaned forward. “They’re disappearing. Being kidnapped or running away, vanishing into thin air—no one knows. A little birdie told me that they’re being gathered and sold to WICKED so they can continue the Trials. Start all over if they have to. Whether that’s true or not, the population of immune people in this city and others has been halved in the last six months, and most of them are disappearing without a trace. It’s causing a lot of headaches. The city needs them more than people even realize.” Thomas’s anxiety went up a notch. “Don’t most people hate the Munies—isn’t that what they call us?
Maybe they’re being killed or something.” He hated the other possibility that was occurring to him: that WICKED might be kidnapping them and putting them through exactly what he’d been through.
“I doubt that,” Gally said. “My little birdie is a reliable source, and this reeks of WICKED to the core. These problems make a bad combination. The Flare is all over the city even though the government claims it’s not.
And the Immunes are disappearing. Whatever’s happening, there isn’t gonna be anyone left in Denver. Who knows about other cities.”
“So what does this have to do with us?” Jorge asked.
Gally looked surprised. “What, you don’t care that civilization is about to come to an end? The cities are crumbling. Pretty soon it’s just going to be a world of psychos who want to eat you for supper.”
“Of course we care,” Thomas answered. “But what do you want us to do about it?”
“Hey, all I know is that WICKED has one directive—to find a cure. And it’s pretty obvious that’s never gonna happen. If we had their money, their resources, we could use it to really help. To protect the healthy. I thought you’d want that.”
Thomas did, of course. Desperately.
Gally shrugged when no one responded. “We don’t have much to lose. We might as well try something.”
“Gally,” Thomas said, “do you know anything about Teresa and a bunch of other people who also escaped today?”
Gally nodded. “Yeah, we found them, too—gave them the same message I’m giving you. Who did you think my little birdie was?”
“Teresa,” Thomas whispered. A flash of hope sparked within him—she must have remembered all that stuff about WICKED when they’d removed the Swipe. Could the operation have made her change her tune?
Was her insistence that “WICKED is good” finally a thing of the past?
“That’s right. She said she couldn’t agree with them starting the cycle all over again. Said something about hoping to find you, too. But there’s one more thing.”
Thomas groaned. “That doesn’t sound so good.”
Gally shrugged. “Never does these days. One of our people out looking for your group came across a strange rumor. Said it was somehow related to all these people escaping from the WICKED headquarters.
I’m not sure if they could track you or not, but it looks like they probably could’ve guessed you’d come to Denver anyway.”
“Why?” Thomas asked. “What’s the rumor?”
“There’s a huge bounty out for a guy named Hans who used to work there, lives here now. WICKED thinks you came here for him, and they want him dead.”
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Chapter 15||Chapter 16||Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20||Chapter 21||Chapter 22||Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
|Chapter 25||Chapter 26||Chapter 27||Chapter 28||Chapter 29||Chapter 30|
|Chapter 31||Chapter 32||Chapter 33||Chapter 34||Chapter 35||Chapter 36|
|Chapter 37||Chapter 38||Chapter 39||Chapter 40||Chapter 41||Chapter 42|
|Chapter 43||Chapter 44||Chapter 45||Chapter 46||Chapter 47||Chapter 48|
|Chapter 49||Chapter 50||Chapter 51||Chapter 52||Chapter 53||Chapter 54|
|Chapter 55||Chapter 56||Chapter 57||Chapter 58||Chapter 59||Chapter 60|
|Chapter 61||Chapter 62||Chapter 63||Chapter 64||Chapter 65||Chapter 66|
|Chapter 67||Chapter 68||Chapter 69||Chapter 70||Chapter 71||Chapter 72|
|Chapter 73||Book 1: Maze Runner||Book 2: Scorch Trials||Book 3: Death Cure||Prequel: Kill Order|