‘Yes, Beloved Leader,’ Five croaks, straining his neck to look up at us.

‘That was well done,’ Setrákus Ra says to me as he shepherds me towards the exit. ‘Come. We will return to your studies of the Great Book.’

Even though I’m still furious about what he did to Eight, as we pass Five’s prone body, I reach out to him telepathically. I refuse to lose my sense of right and wrong while I’m stuck here.

I’m sorry, I tell him.

I don’t think he’ll answer, considering how he could barely even look at me before. Just as I’m about to cut off our telepathic link, his response comes.

I’m fine, he replies. I deserved it.

You deserve worse than that, I reply, although I can’t quite manage the malice I want. It’s hard while I’m mentally picturing Eight, laughing, joking around with me and Marina.

I know, Five responds. I didn’t– I’m sorry, Ella.

I pick up something else from his mind. That’s never happened before – maybe my Legacy is getting stronger. I don’t think too much about it, because through my mind’s eye I’m seeing Eight’s body, left behind on purpose in an empty hangar. I try to make sense of the image, but Five’s thoughts are a confused jumble. There are so many conflicting impulses in his brain, and I’m not a skilled enough telepath to make sense of them all.

I’ve already walked past him, but after our telepathic conversation, I hazard a glance over my shoulder. Five has managed to prop himself up. He works a metal ball bearing across his knuckles, over and under, waiting for his Legacies to return. He looks right at me.

We have to get out of here, he thinks.


Ashwood Estates is quiet just before sunrise, a light fog greeting the gray day. I could hardly sleep, which isn’t exactly a new development. I sit next to the living-room window in Adam’s old house and take cell-phone photographs of the documents Agent Walker turned over, sending them on to Sarah. We’re going to leak them online via They Walk Among Us, because at least that way we can ensure the information gets out there. Walker has a list of journalists and other media people who she believes to be trustworthy, but she’s got a list the same length of reporters in the pocket of MogPro. There’s no surefire way to get this intel out there except on our own. It’s going to be an uphill battle. In the years we’ve spent on the run, the Mogadorians have gotten too far ahead, become too entrenched in the military, government and even the media. The smartest thing they ever did was chase us into hiding.

According to Walker, it’s going to take something big to turn the tide. She wants us to cut the head off MogPro, meaning take out the secretary of defense. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to get us any support from humanity. Walker says we can carry out the assassination covertly. I haven’t decided if we’re going along with that part of the plan, but it’s okay to let Walker think we’re down with doing her dirty work. For now.

More important than Sanderson, we’re supposed to expose Setrákus Ra, using whatever human-Mog photo op he’s got planned for the United Nations against him. The plan is to make a big enough scene that humanity will see the Mogs for what they really are and rally against the invasion. A population that’s been duped for a decade will finally be out of the dark. Once the humans see aliens firsthand, we’re hoping people will take a niche site like They Walk Among Us seriously. I just hope we figure out a way to pull all this off. Without dying.

Dark thoughts still gnaw at me. Even if we manage to form a resistance bigger and stronger than the ragtag bunch we’ve assembled at Ashwood Estates, there’s no guarantee we can turn back the Mogadorians. For as long as I’ve been on Earth, our war with the Mogadorians has been fought in the shadows. Now, we’re about to involve millions of innocent people. It seems like all we’re struggling for is to give humanity and us remaining Loric the opportunity to fight a long and bloody war. I wonder if this is what the Elders had planned for us. Were we supposed to have already defeated the Mogs with humanity none the wiser? Or was their plan when they sent us to Earth just as desperate as ours is now?

No wonder I can’t sleep.

Through the window, I watch a couple of FBI agents share a cigarette on the porch across the street. I guess I’m not the only one suffering from impending invasion insomnia. We let Walker’s people camp out in the empty houses around Ashwood. They secured the perimeter, guards posted at the gate Adam and I wrecked earlier in the day, pretty much making this place the home base of the brand-new Human-Loric Resistance.

I still don’t entirely trust Agent Walker or her people, but the looming war has forced me to take on a lot of strange allies. So far, they’ve panned out. If my luck with trusting old enemies doesn’t hold, well, we’re pretty much all doomed anyway. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that.

The floorboards creak behind me and I turn around to find Malcolm standing in the doorway leading up from the Mogadorian tunnels. His eyes are droopy with exhaustion and he’s in the process of stifling a yawn.

‘Morning,’ I say, closing up the folder of Walker’s documents.

‘Already?’ Malcolm replies, shaking his head in disbelief. ‘I lost track of time down there. Sam and Adam were helping me earlier. I thought I just forced them to take a break a little while ago.’

‘That was hours ago,’ I reply. ‘Did you spend your entire night going through those Mogadorian recordings?’