Brenda stood up. “We’re leaving. Now. Come on.”
Jorge and Minho got to their feet, and as Thomas joined them, he knew Brenda had been right earlier.
Finding Hans had to be priority one now. He had to get the tracking device out of his head and, if they were after Hans, they had to get to him first. “Gally, do you swear everything you told us is true?”
“Every bit.” The Glader hadn’t moved from his position on the floor. “The Right Arm wants to take action.
They’re planning something even as we speak. They need information about WICKED, though, and who better to help us than you? If we can get Teresa and the others, too, that’d be even better. We need every warm body we can get.”
Thomas decided to trust Gally. Maybe they’d never liked each other, but they had the same enemy, which put them on the same team. “What do we do if we want in?” he finally asked. “Do we come back here? Go somewhere else?”
Gally smiled. “Come back here. Any time before nine or so in the morning, for another week. I should be around. I don’t think we’ll make any moves before then.”
“Moves?” Thomas was itching with curiosity.
“I’ve told you enough. You want more, you come back. I’ll be here.” Thomas nodded, then held out a hand. Gally shook it.
“I don’t blame you for anything,” Thomas said. “You saw what I’d done for WICKED when you went through the Changing. I wouldn’t have trusted me, either. And I know you didn’t want to kill Chuck. Just don’t plan on hugs every time I see you.”
“The feeling’s mutual.”
Brenda was already at the door waiting for him when he turned to go. Before Thomas left, though, Gally squeezed his elbow. “Time’s running out. But we can do something.”
“We’ll be back,” Thomas said, then followed his friends. Fear of the unknown no longer controlled him.
Hope had found its way in and taken hold.
They didn’t find Hans until the next day.
Jorge got them into a cheap motel after they’d purchased some clothes and food, and Thomas and Minho used the room’s computer to search the Netblock while Jorge and Brenda made dozens of calls to people Thomas had never heard of. After hours of work, they finally found an address through someone Jorge called “a friend of a friend of an enemy’s enemy.” By that time it was late and they all crashed for the night; Thomas and Minho were stuck sleeping on the floor while the other two got the twin beds.
The next morning they showered, ate, and put on their new clothes. Then they got a cab and went straight to the place they’d been told Hans lived—an apartment building in only slightly better shape than Gally’s.
They climbed to the fourth floor and knocked on a gray metal door. The lady who answered kept saying she’d never heard of any Hans, but Jorge kept pushing. Then a gray-haired man with a wide jaw peeked over the woman’s shoulder.
“Let them in,” he said in a gravelly voice.
A minute or so later, Thomas and his three friends were sitting around a rickety table in the kitchen, all their focus on the gruffly distant man named Hans.
“It’s good to see you’re okay, Brenda,” he said. “You, too, Jorge. But I’m not in the mood to catch up. Why don’t you just tell me what you want.”
“I think you know the main reason we’re here,” Brenda replied, then nodded toward Thomas and Minho.
“But we also just heard that WICKED has put a bounty on your head. We need to hurry and do this, and then you need to get out of here.”
Hans seemed to shrug off that last part, looking at his two potential customers. “You’ve still got the implants, do ya?”
Thomas nodded, nervous but determined to get this over with. “I only want the controlling device out. I don’t want my memories back. And I want to know how this operation works first.” Hans wrinkled his face in disgust. “What kind of nonsense is this? Who’s this weak-kneed coward you brought to my place, Brenda?”
“I’m not a coward,” Thomas said before she could respond. “I’ve just had too many people in my head.” Hans threw up his hands, then slapped the table. “Who said I’d do anything to your head? Who said I liked you enough for that?”
“Are there any nice people in Denver?” Minho muttered.
“You folks are about three seconds from being thrown out of my apartment.”
“Everyone just shut up for a second!” Brenda shouted. She leaned toward Hans and spoke in a quieter voice. “Listen, this is important. Thomas is important, and WICKED will do just about anything to get their hands on him. We can’t risk them getting close enough to start controlling him or Minho.” Hans glared at Thomas, scrutinized him like a scientist examining a specimen. “Doesn’t look important to me.” He shook his head and stood up. “Give me five minutes to prep,” he said, then disappeared through a side door without further explanation. Thomas could only wonder if the man recognized him. If he knew what Thomas had done for WICKED before the Maze.
Brenda sat back in her chair and let out a sigh. “That wasn’t so bad.” Yeah, Thomas thought, the bad part’s coming up. He was relieved that Hans was going to help them, but as he looked around he got more and more nervous. He was about to let a stranger mess with his brain in a dirty old apartment.
Minho snickered. “You look scared, Tommy.”
“Don’t forget, muchacho,” Jorge said. “You’re doing this, too. That gray-haired grandpa said five minutes, so get ready.”
“The sooner, the better,” Minho replied.
Thomas rested his elbows on the table, his head—which had begun to throb—in his hands.
“Thomas?” Brenda whispered. “You okay?”
He looked up. “I just need to—”
The words caught in his throat as a sharp pain sliced down his spine. But just as quickly as it had come, it was gone. He sat up in the chair, startled; then a spasm sent his arms out straight and his legs kicked, twisting his body so that he slid off the chair and collapsed to the floor, shaking. He yelled when his back slammed into the hard tile, and struggled to get control of his jerking limbs. But he couldn’t. His feet slapped the floor; his shins banged against the legs of the table.
“Thomas!” Brenda yelled. “What’s wrong?”
Despite his loss of bodily control, Thomas’s mind was clear. He could see out of the corner of his eye that Minho was next to him on the ground trying to calm him and Jorge was frozen in place, eyes wide.
Thomas tried to speak, but only drool came out of his mouth.
“Can you hear me?” Brenda yelled, bending over him. “Thomas, what’s wrong!” Then his limbs abruptly stilled, legs straightening and coming to a rest, his arms falling limp at his sides.
He couldn’t make them move. He strained with the effort, but nothing happened. He tried to speak again, but no words formed.
Brenda’s expression changed to something close to horror. “Thomas?” He didn’t know how, but his body started moving even though he wasn’t telling it to. His arms and legs shifted, he was getting to his feet. It was as if he’d become a puppet. He tried to scream but couldn’t.
“You okay?” Minho asked.
Panic clenched inside Thomas as he kept doing things against his will. His head twitched, then turned toward the door through which their host had disappeared. Words started spilling from his mouth, but he had no idea where they came from.
“I can’t … let you … do this.”
|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|