Never Fade Page 89

To the right of them, shaking like the last leaf on an autumn tree, was a blank-stared Knox.

So that was where Michael and the others had gone—to find their old pack leader. A lot of good it seemed like it was doing for them now, though. Knox muttered to himself, rocking back and forth on his heels, the same word forming on his lips: Leave, leave, leave.

“—your choice,” Michael shouted. The noise had cut out, but not the flashing lights. “You chose strangers over Knox! Over me! You wanna take everything from us and kick us out? We found that damn warehouse! We set everything up!”

Jude was shaking—not from fear or the cold but from blistering anger. “So if you can’t have it, no one can—is that it?” he said, his hand tightening around my waist. “You hate your life, so you have to make everyone else just as miserable and hungry and pathetic as you are?”

“I am not pathetic—none of us are! If she hadn’t messed him up, Knox would be telling you this! Look at him—look! You want her to do this to you? You want another performance of her freak show?”

“Believe me…” I shook my head in a weak attempt to clear the spots from my vision. “If you don’t drop those bags and get the hell out of my sight in two seconds, you’ll be next.”

He raised his gun, but Olivia and Brett both stepped directly in front of me.

There was a quick movement to my left. I looked over just in time to see one of Michael’s team yank the door to open it again. One of them must have shut it, I realized. That’s why the alarms had gone off in the first place.

“Time to go,” the boy shouted. “They’re pulling up!”

My core settled to stone. If they were here, it was already too late.

“Don’t—!” Brett warned, but Michael grabbed Knox and followed the others out into the night anyway. There were two beats of silence. I closed my eyes and turned away from the shouting, the whining of cars, and guns and uniforms. One shot was fired. A hundred answered.

“Down!” I commanded, tackling Jude. For the most part, the bullets pinged off the large hangar door, just to the right of the smaller side access door we’d come through, but some passed through the thin metal and buried themselves in the same shelves of supplies we had just ransacked.

My mind was fraying at the edges, a pounding headache echoing every throb of pain in my lower back. I swiped at the sweat beading on my upper lip. I didn’t need to get up with Brett, or find a way to look outside. I knew what I’d see—four dumb, dead kids and a swarm of black and camo setting up a line of defense.

“I count thirty of them,” one of the Blues said. I don’t even know your name, I thought numbly, and you followed us here anyway. I am going to get you killed.

I felt the overpowering urge to throw up as I stood. We are dead. I killed us.

“This’ll be cake, right?” Brett said, clearing his throat. He turned back to the others. “They got guns, but we got brains. I like those odds.”

“One big push should do it,” Olivia agreed. “I can take half back over the river the way we came, but someone else should try to take the other half the long way.”

Brett rubbed a hand through his dark hair with a light laugh. “By someone, you mean me? That eager to get rid of me?”

The Blues were dividing themselves up, falling in place behind Olivia and Brett, and the absurdity of what we were about to do—shove them like playground bullies, then try to outrun the bullets that followed—made me want to scream.

I stood at the edge of the noise and movement, feeling strangely disconnected from what was going on around me. But Jude—he cut right through the panic, shoving his way through the bodies to reach the fuse box on the wall.

“Everyone line up at the door,” he said, smashing the small lock on the electrical box with a nearby fire extinguisher. He tossed the broken metal behind him and pulled the gray cover open. Jude bit the tip of his right glove and pulled it back off, placing his bare hand against the assortment of switches. The dials at the top began to spin at a crazy speed, their tiny red arms blurring.

“You guys throw them back, and I’ll follow up with a punch.” He sounded calm—way too calm for him.

“What are you doing?” I asked. The air felt warmer, tickling my face. The mop of chestnut hair in front of me started to rise and crackle with static. I took a step back, but it wasn’t until the lights snapped off and the alarm went dead that I could see the blue lines of sparks racing along his hands and arms.

“Ruby, you have to hit the button for the door,” he said. Just standing close to him made the hair on my arms rise.

“What are you doing?” I asked again. He seemed to be splitting into two in front of my eyes. I blinked, but the halo of light around him didn’t vanish with it.

“Trust me,” he said, his voice carrying that unnatural calmness. “I got this one.”

He counted down from three, forcing the Blues to scramble into the line he had ordered. Jude took care not to touch anyone at the very center of the line; the others seemed to curve around him, responding to his charge and the shift in mood.

No, I thought, biting the word back. No, not there. Not where they can hurt you—

“One!” Jude’s voice rang out. My hand slapped against the button.

The snow had changed to a heavy rain while we were inside. It fell in sheets, distorting the lights the soldiers had set up. The white beams flooded in at our feet and traveled upward over our legs as the enormous door continued to rise. Jude waited until the light hit him square in the chest, and then he clenched both fists.

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