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A few hours later, Thomas sat atop a cliff overlooking the ocean, his feet dangling over the edge. The sun had almost dipped below the horizon, which appeared to be glowing with flames. It was one of the most amazing sights he’d ever witnessed.

Minho had already started taking charge down below in the forest where they’d decided to live—organizing food search parties, a building committee, a security detail. Thomas was glad of it, not wanting another ounce of responsibility to ever rest on his shoulders again. He was tired, body and soul. He hoped that wherever they were, they’d be isolated and safe while the rest of the world figured out how to deal with the Flare, cure or no cure. He knew the process would be long and hard and ugly, and he was one hundred percent positive that he wanted no part of it.

He was done.

“Hey, there.”

Thomas turned to see Brenda. “Hey, there, back. Wanna sit?”

“Why, yes, thank you.” She plopped down next to him. “Reminds me of the sunsets at WICKED, though they never seemed quite so bright.”

“You could say that about a lot of things.” He felt another tremor of emotion as he saw the faces of Chuck and Newt and Teresa in his mind’s eye.

A few minutes went by in silence as they stared at the vanishing light of day, the sky and water going from orange to pink to purple, then dark blue.

“What’re you thinking in that head of yours?” Brenda asked.

“Absolutely nothing. I’m done thinking for a while.” And he meant it. For the first time in his life, he was both free and safe, as costly as the accomplishment had been.

Then Thomas did the only thing he could think of. He reached out and took Brenda’s hand.

She squeezed his in response. “There are over two hundred of us and we’re all immune. It’ll be a good start.”

Thomas looked over at her, suspicious at how sure she sounded—like she knew something he didn’t. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, then the lips. “Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Thomas put it all out of his mind and pulled her closer as the last wink of the sun’s light vanished below the horizon.


Final WICKED Memorandum, Date 232.4.10, Time 12:45

TO: My Associates

FROM: Ava Paige, Chancellor

RE: A new beginning

And so, we have failed.

But we have also succeeded.

Our original vision didn’t come to fruition; the blueprint never came together. We were unable to discover either a vaccine or a treatment for the Flare. But I anticipated this outcome and put into place an alternate solution, to save at least a portion of our race. With the help of my partners, two wisely placed Immunes, I was able to plan and implement a solution that will result in the best outcome we could’ve hoped for.

I know the majority of WICKED thought that we needed to get tougher, dig deeper, be more ruthless with our subjects, keep searching for an answer. Begin new rounds of Trials. But what we neglected to see was right before our eyes. The Immune are the only resource left to this world.

And if all has gone according to plan, we have sent the brightest, the strongest, the toughest of our subjects to a safe place, where they can begin civilization anew while the rest of the world is driven to extinction.

It is my hope that over the years our organization has in some part paid the price for the unspeakable act committed against humanity by our predecessors in government. Though I am fully aware that it was an act of desperation after the sun flares, releasing the Flare virus as a means of population control was an abhorrent and irreversible crime. And the disastrous results could never have been predicted. WICKED has worked ever since that act was committed to right that wrong, to find a cure. And though we have failed in that effort, we can at least say we’ve planted the seed for mankind’s future.

I don’t know how history will judge the actions of WICKED, but I state here for the record that the organization only ever had one goal, and that was to preserve the human race. And in this last act, we have done just that.

As we tried to instill in each of our subjects over and over, WICKED is good.