Read Five's Legacy Online

Authors: Pittacus Lore

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Survival Stories, #Science Fiction, #Love & Romance, #Short Stories

Five's Legacy

BOOK: Five's Legacy
4.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Excerpt from
The Fall of Five

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Back Ads

About the Author

Books by Pittacus Lore

Copyright

About the Publisher

CHAPTER ONE

“T
HE
M
OGS ARE HERE!

My eyes shoot open as I jerk upright, hoping that sentence was just something from a bad dream.

But it’s not.

“They’re here,” Rey whispers again as he crosses over the floor of our little shack to where I’m sleeping on top of a pallet of blankets.

I’m off the floor in seconds. Rey’s solar-powered lantern swings in front of my face, and it blinds me. I flinch away and then he turns it off, leaving me in complete darkness. As he pushes me towards the back of our home, all I can make out is a sliver of silver light peeking through the window.

“Out the back.” His voice is full of urgency and fear. “I’ll hold them off. Go, go, go.”

I start grabbing at the air where he’d stood moments before but find nothing. I can’t see anything: My eyes still burn from the lantern.

“Rey—”

“No.” He cuts me off from somewhere in the dark. “If you don’t go now, we’re
both
dead.”

There’s a clattering near the front of the shack, followed by the sound of something—or someone—slamming against the front door. Rey lets out a pained cry but the inside of the shack is still nothing but an abyss of black in my eyes. I know there’s a metal bar over the door that’s not going to hold up against much more than a little force. It’s for show more than anything else. If someone
really
wanted into our shack, they could just blow through the flimsy wooden walls. And if it’s the Mogs . . .

There’s no time to think, only to react. It’s
me
they’re after. I’ve got to get to safety.

I rip away the piece of cloth that serves as a makeshift curtain and throw myself through the little window. I land with a plop in a three-inch puddle of mud, slop, and things I don’t even want to imagine—I’m in the hog pen.

A single thought runs through my mind.
I’m going to die a thirteen-year-old boy covered in pig shit on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Life is so unfair.

The hogs squeal—I’ve disturbed their sleep—and it snaps me back into the moment. Old training regimens and lectures from years before take over my brain and I’m moving again, checking my flanks to make sure there are no Mogs that have already made their way to the back of the hut. I start to think about what their plan of action might be. If the Mogs actually
knew
I was on the island, I’d be surrounded already. No, it must be a single scout that stumbled upon us by accident. Maybe he had time to report us to the others, maybe not. Whatever the case, I have to get out of the line of fire. Rey will take out the scout. He’ll be fine. At least that’s what I tell myself, choosing to ignore how frail Rey’s looked lately.

He
has
to be okay. He always is.

I head for the jungle behind our shack. My bare feet sink into the sand, as if the island itself is trying to slow me down. I’m dressed only in dark athletic shorts, and branches and shrubs around me scratch at my bare chest and stomach as I enter the cover of the trees. I’ve done this sort of thing before, once, in Canada. Then, coats and a few bags weighed me down. But we’d had a little more warning. Now, in the sticky-hot night of the Caribbean, I’m weighed down only by my lack of stamina.

As I hurl myself through the dense vegetation, I think of all the mornings I was supposed to spend jogging along the beach or hiking through the forest that I
actually
spent playing solitaire or simply lazing around. Doing what I really wanted to do, like drawing little cartoons in the sand. Coming up with short stories told by stick figures. Rey always said I shouldn’t actually write anything down—that any journal or notes I wrote could be found and used as proof of who I am. But writing and drawing in the sand was temporary. When the tide came in, my stories were gone. Even just doing that caused me to work up a sweat in this damned climate, and I’d return to Rey, pretending to be exhausted. He’d comment on the timing of my imaginary run and then treat me to a rich lunch as a reward. Rey is a taskmaster when it comes to doling out things to do, but his lungs are bad and he always trusted that I was doing the training he told me to do. He had no reason not to—no reason to think I wouldn’t take our situation seriously.

It wasn’t just the avoidance of having to work my ass off in the heat that kept me from training. It was the monotony of it all that I hated. Run, lift, stretch, aim, repeat—day in and day out. Plus, we’re living out in the middle of nowhere. Our island isn’t even on any maps. I never thought the Mogs would ever find us.

Now, I’m afraid that’s coming back to haunt me. I wheeze as I run. I’m totally unprepared for this attack. Those mornings lazing around the beach are going to get me killed.

It doesn’t take long before there’s a stitch in my side so sore that I think it’s possible I’ve burst some kind of internal organ. I’m out of breath, and the humid air feels like it’s trying to smother me. My hands grasp onto low-hanging branches as I half-pull my way through thick green foliage, the bottoms of my feet scraping against fallen limbs and razor-sharp shells. Within a few minutes the canopy above me is so dense that only pinpricks of the moonlight shine through. The jungle has given way to a full-blown rain forest.

I’m alone in the dark in a rain forest with alien monsters chasing after me.

I pause, panting and holding my side. Our island is small, but I’m only maybe a fifth of the way across it. On the other side of the island a small, hidden kayak is waiting for me, along with a pack of rations and first aid gear. The last-chance escape vessel, something that’ll let me slip into the dark of the night and disappear on the ocean. But that seems so far away now, with my lungs screaming at me and my bare feet bleeding. I lean against a tree, trying to catch my breath. Something skitters across the forest floor a few feet away from me and I jump, but it’s only one of the little green lizards that overrun the island. Still, my heart pounds. My head is dizzy.

The Mogadorians are here. I’m going to die
.

I can’t imagine what Rey is doing back at the shack. How many Mogs are here? How many can he take on? I hope I’m right, and it’s just a single scout. I realize I haven’t heard any gunshots. Is that a good sign, or does it mean the bastards got to him before he was able to fire off a single round?

Keep going,
I tell myself, and then start out again. My calves are burning and my lungs feel like they’re about to split open every time I inhale. I stumble, hitting the ground hard and knocking what little breath I had out of me.

Somewhere behind me, I can hear movement in the trees.

I glance around. Without a clear view of the sky, I can’t even tell which direction I’m going anymore. I’m totally screwed. I have to do something.

I abandon the plan to cross the island. I’m in no shape to do so. For a moment I think of burrowing down into the brush—maybe finding something to hide in until I can slip through the forest—but then I think of all the fist-sized spiders and ants and snakes that could be waiting there for me, and imagine a Mogadorian scout stepping on me by accident.

So I head up instead. Gathering every ounce of strength I have, I use a few sturdy vines to pull myself hand over hand up to a low branch on a nearby tree. All I can think of are the many different types of beasts Rey’s told me the Mogs can command, any one of which would like nothing more than to tear me apart.

Why don’t
we
have giant hell-beasts to fight for us?

My arms are shaking by the time I squat on the limb, the wood creaking under my weight as I stare into the blackness, hoping over and over again that nothing will emerge from it. That I can just wait this out.

That it will all just go
away
.

There’s no telling how much time passes. If I’d been more put together or hadn’t been so taken by surprise, I might have remembered to grab my watch on the way out the window. It’s weird—time always seemed like it didn’t mean anything on the island, and now it means everything. How many minutes before more of them arrive? How many seconds before they find me? I try to keep from trembling, and my stomach from turning over—between the running, my fear, and the damp smell of pig that clings to me in a thick coat of sludge, I’m teetering on the edge of vomiting. Maybe the stinking layer of crap will help keep me camouflaged, at least.

It’s not a very reassuring silver lining.

Finally, a silhouette starts to take shape in the darkness. I draw in closer to the tree. The figure is human sized. Maybe even a little hunched over, leaning on a cane as he steps into the dim moonlight. He’s wearing a blue linen shirt, khaki cargo pants, and sneakers that might have been white at some point. His beard is white, streaked with black, his wild hair almost silver.

I recognize him immediately, of course. Rey.

He’s got something held against him, wrapped in a piece of cloth. I start to call down to him, but he’s already staring holes into me, his lips quivering, as if he’s fighting every urge to yell. He simply stands there, the silence hanging in the thick air between us. Finally, I break it.

“Well? Did you get him?”

Rey doesn’t respond immediately, just looks away, staring down at the ground.

“What’d you forget?” His voice has a slight rattle to it.

“What?” I ask, my breath short.

He throws his parcel down on the ground. Part of the cloth falls back, and I can make out a familiar corner.

“The Chest?” I ask. My
Loric
Chest. The most sacred thing I own. The treasure I’m not actually allowed to look into. The container that supposedly holds my inheritance and the tools to rebuild my home planet, and I can’t even peek inside until Rey thinks I’m ready to—whatever
that
means.

“The Chest.” Rey nods.

I scramble down the tree, half falling to the earth.

“We should get going, right?” I ask. My words are spilling out now, my tongue stumbling over the letters as I try to say a million things at once. “You don’t have any weapons? Or our food? Where are we going now? Shouldn’t we be—”

“Your Chest is the second most important thing you have to protect after your own life. It was stupid to leave it. Next time, it’s your priority to keep it safe.”

“What are you—”

“You made it half a mile into the forest,” he says, ignoring me. His voice is getting louder now, filled with barely restrained anger. “I didn’t want to believe it, but I guess this is proof. You haven’t been doing your training. You’ve been lying to me about it. Every day.”

“Rey . . .”

“I already knew that, though.” He sounds sad now. “I could tell just by looking at you.”

My mind is racing, trying to figure out why we’re still standing here. Why he’s worried about my training when there could be a whole fleet of Mogs on their way after us. Unless . . .

“There aren’t any Mogs here,” I say quietly.

Rey just shakes his head and stares at the ground.

This was a test. No, worse than that: This was Rey’s way of trapping me and catching me in a lie. And even though, yes, I technically have been less than honest about my training regimen, I can’t believe Rey would scare me like this.

“Are you kidding me?” Unlike Rey, I don’t have the power to keep my anger from clouding my voice. “I was running for my life. I thought I was going to
die
.”

“Death is the least of your worries for now,” he says, pointing at my ankle. Underneath the layer of mud and crap is an ugly red mark that appeared a few days ago. A mark that’s starting to scab over, and will soon turn into a scar. The mark that—thanks to some otherworldly charm—shows me that another one of my fellow Garde has been murdered. Two is dead. Three and Four are all that stand between death and me.

BOOK: Five's Legacy
4.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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