The Void of Mist and Thunder (The 13th Reality #4)(8)

by James Dashner

And it was fun.

Now it was early the next day, when he’d promised Chu they’d try to get out of the Nonex, and Tick had spent the morning out on the beach, practicing his new abilities. He had stacked three logs vertically, end to end, pointing toward the sky. He used his mind and pushed out with his senses, touching the strings and pulleys of the unseen particles of science. Carefully, he moved one, and then another one. The tower stood thirty or forty feet in the air.

“Impressive,” Chu said. “Really. Can we get on with it and do something that actually matters now?”

Tick suddenly had an image pop in his head of Chu’s giant mountain palace, and how bad things had gone there. That was where Tick had hurt Jane, where he had almost died. Sofia had risked her life to save him. Remembering it again made Tick angry.

He shifted his thoughts and pushed his Chi’karda. The stacked logs flew through the air and shot toward Chu like spears. He cried out and started to run, but Tick was one step ahead of him, turning the logs vertical again and slamming them into the ground in a circle around Chu. He was in a prison, the logs thick enough and close enough together that he couldn’t squeeze between them.

“Stop acting like a child!” Chu screamed, facing Tick with rage burned into his expression. “Take these things down! Now!”

Tick looked over at Jane, whose red mask had tilted up slightly in a smile. Her yellow robe and hood stirred in the slight breeze of the day, and images of her past deeds popped into Tick’s mind as well. He almost used his Chi’karda to throw some things at her, too, but remembered that she could fight back.

Maybe it was time for Tick to quit acting like a brat. He didn’t feel like himself lately. They needed to get out of the Nonex. Not just for his own life, but so he could see what was going on back at home. His family and friends could be in danger, maybe even dead. The thought made his heart sink. He’d already tried winking a message to them, but it didn’t work.

“Atticus,” Chu said, obviously trying to remain calm. “Please. I don’t want to interfere with your powers. I’m not an idiot. But I know you want to get out of this place just as much as I do. I can’t go back and change the past, but—”

“Shut up!” Tick yelled. He didn’t know where all this anger was coming from. “I don’t want to hear any lame apologies from you. We all know you’re planning to go right back to doing what you do if we get back to the Realities. Well, guess what? I’m not going to let you. So keep that in mind.”

Before Chu could respond, Tick exploded the logs, breaking down their substance into millions of tiny splinters and swirling them away in a cloud of wooden mist. He purposefully let a few splinters nick Chu in the face and arms. The man cried out again and gingerly touched the sore spots. Guilt immediately racked Tick, mixed with a little bit of satisfaction.

“Tick,” Mistress Jane began in her scratchy, painful voice. “Preach all you want about what we’ve done in our past. But look at yourself. You’re heading down the same road. Maybe you should have waited until you could control your power before you started judging others. Power is a . . . powerful thing. I don’t know how else to put it.”

Her words made Tick even angrier. “Don’t you dare say that. I would never—never—use my power to hurt other people like you have.”

Jane’s mask smiled broadly. “Then what did you just do to Reginald?”

Tick looked sharply at the man, who had several spots of blood on his face and arms. He wanted to get defensive, explain that he was just giving Chu some of his own medicine, but a small part of him knew that Jane was right. No one was born thinking they’d rule the world someday. It developed in baby steps, a slippery slope. He had to be careful.

“He deserves every bad thing that could ever happen to him,” Tick said, defiant. “But I won’t do something like that again. I promise.”

“Yeah, right,” Chu responded, glaring at him. “You just wait, kid. Wait until you start to feel the joy of being stronger than someone else. You’ll be working beside me before you turn twenty years old. That’s a guarantee.”

Tick looked at him without answering.

“Let’s get to work,” Jane said. “Nothing matters if we can’t get back to the real world.”

Tick felt a little lost right then. A little confused. And scared at what might happen when they started messing with Reality on a big scale. He decided to set everything aside and quit thinking for a while. They had nothing to lose, and he could deal with his feelings about what Jane had said later.

“Okay.” Tick pointed down the beach at the campfire that had become their central meeting spot. “Let’s go sit down.”

“And we’re not standing up again until we’re in a differ- ent Reality,” Chu said as he started walking that way. “I can’t stand one more day in this place.”

Tick and Jane exchanged a glance. She said nothing, her mask melting into a blank expression, and Tick wondered what was going on inside her head. He shrugged, and then the two of them followed Chu to the campfire.

They sat on the stumpy logs they’d brought out on the first day, circling the small flames that spit and hissed as they burned. The fire smelled good, and Tick remembered campouts with his family. The memory hurt his heart, and he swore to do just as Chu had said. They needed to get out of the Nonex.

“We’ve talked for hours about every theory in the book,” Chu said. “Time to put up or shut up, as they say. What are we going to try?”

Tick had listened to every conversation they’d had in the Nonex, and he understood most of them. Master George had made him study pretty much every science book ever written. But none of it seemed to matter right then. The only thing he trusted was his instinct.

He realized Jane was talking, but he’d completely tuned out. Feeling a sudden boldness and certainty, he interrupted her.

“I know what we need to do.”

Chapter 8

One Question

Paul had been waiting for this day for a long time. A mission for the Realitants for which he was in charge. Of course, Sofia probably thought she was the boss, and he’d let her keep thinking that, but he knew the truth.

This was Paul’s time.

Master George had ushered them into his little office, where they sat on a small couch, and he was perched on a wooden chair with his Barrier Wand balanced on top of his lap. He had a grave look on his face, which was business as usual since the whole world had fallen into chaos.