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By Kass Morgan
Read by Justin Torres
Read by Phoebe Strole
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It’s been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries… or so they thought. Book 2 in The 100 series, now a popular show on the CW network. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself. In this pulse-pounding sequel to The 100, secrets are revealed, beliefs are challenged, and relationships are tested. And the hundred will struggle to survive the only way they can–together.
Table of Contents
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No one wanted to stand near the grave. Although four of their own were already buried in the makeshift cemetery, the rest of the hundred were still disturbed by the idea of lowering a body into the ground.
No one wanted to stand with their backs to the trees either. Since the attack, a creaking branch had become enough to make the anxious survivors jump. And so, the nearly one hundred people who'd gathered to say good-bye to Asher stood in a tightly packed semicircle, their eyes darting between the corpse on the ground and the shadows in the forest.
The comforting crackle of the fire was conspicuously absent. They'd run out of firewood last night, and no one had been willing to venture out for more. Wells would've gone himself, but he'd been busy digging the grave. No one had volunteered for that job either, except for a tall, quiet Arcadian boy named Eric.
"Are we sure he's really dead?" Molly whispered, edging back from the deep hole, as if worried it might swallow her up as well. She was only thirteen but looked younger. At least, she'd used to. Wells remembered helping her after the crash, when tears and ash had streaked her round cheeks. Now the girl's face was thin, almost gaunt, and there was a cut on her forehead that didn't look like it'd been properly cleaned.
Wells's eyes flashed involuntarily to Asher's neck, to the ragged wound where the arrow had pierced his throat. It'd been two days since Asher died, two days since the mysterious figures materialized on the ridge, upending everything the Colonists had ever been told, everything they thought they knew.
They had been sent to Earth as living test subjects, the first people to set foot on the planet in three hundred years. But they were mistaken.
Some people had never left.
It had all happened so quickly. Wells hadn't realized anything was wrong until Asher fell to the ground, gagging as he swiped desperately at the arrow lodged in his throat. That's when Wells spun around—and saw them. Silhouetted against the setting sun, the strangers looked more like demons than humans. Wells had blinked, half expecting the figures to vanish. There was no way they were real.
But hallucinations didn't shoot arrows.
After his calls for help went unheeded, Wells had carried Asher to the infirmary tent, where they stored the medical supplies they'd salvaged from the fire. But it was no use. By the time Wells began frantically digging for bandages, Asher was already gone.
How could there be people on Earth? It was impossible. No one had survived the Cataclysm. That was incontrovertible, as deeply ingrained in Wells's mind as the fact that water froze at 0 degrees Celsius, or that planets revolved around the sun. And yet, he'd seen them with his own eyes. People who certainly hadn't come down on the dropship from the Colony. Earthborns.
"He's dead," Wells said to Molly as he rose wearily to his feet before realizing that most of the group was staring at him. A few weeks ago, their expressions would've been full of distrust, if not outright contempt. No one believed that the Chancellor's son had actually been Confined. It'd been all too easy for Graham to convince them that Wells had been sent to spy for his father. But now, they were looking at him expectantly.
In the chaos after the fire, Wells had organized teams to sort through the remaining supplies and start building permanent structures. His interest in Earth architecture, once a source of annoyance to his pragmatic father, had enabled Wells to design the three wooden cabins that now stood in the center of the clearing.
Wells glanced up at the darkening sky. He'd give anything to have the Chancellor see the cabins eventually. Not to prove a point—after seeing his father shot on the launch deck, Wells's resentment had drained faster than the color from the Chancellor's cheeks. Now he only wished his father would someday get to call Earth home. The rest of the Colony was supposed to join them once conditions on Earth were deemed safe, but twenty-one days had passed without so much as a glimmer from the sky.
As Wells lowered his eyes back to the ground, his thoughts returned to the task at hand: saying farewell to the boy they were about to send to a much darker resting place.
A girl next to him shivered. "Can we move this along?" she said. "I don't want to stand out here all night."
"Watch your tone," another girl named Kendall snapped, her delicate lips drawn into a frown. At first, Wells had assumed she was a fellow Phoenician, but he'd eventually realized that her haughty stare and clipped cadence were just an impression of the girls Wells had grown up with. It was a fairly common practice among young Waldenites and Arcadians, although he'd never met anyone who did it quite as well as Kendall.
Wells turned his head from side to side, searching for Graham, the only other Phoenician aside from Wells and Clarke. He didn't generally like letting Graham take control of the group, but the other boy had been friends with Asher and was better equipped than Wells to speak at his funeral. However, his was one of the few faces missing from the crowd—aside from Clarke's. She'd set off right after the fire with Bellamy to search for his sister, leaving nothing but the memory of the five toxic words she'd hurled at Wells before she left: You destroy everything you touch.
A crack sounded from the woods, unleashing gasps from the crowd. Without thinking, Wells pulled Molly behind him with one arm and grabbed a shovel with the other.
A moment later, Graham stepped into the clearing, flanked by two Arcadians—Azuma and Dmitri—and a Walden girl named Lila. The three boys were carrying armfuls of wood, while Lila had a few branches tucked under her arm.
"So that's where the other axes went," a Waldenite named Antonio said, eyeing the tools slung over Azuma's and Dmitri's shoulders. "We could've used those this afternoon, you know."
Graham raised an eyebrow as he surveyed the newest cabin. They were finally getting the hang of it; there were no gaps in the roof this time, which meant it would be much warmer and drier at night. None of the structures had windows, though. They were too time-consuming to cut, and without access to glass or plastic, they would be little more than gaping holes in the walls.
"Trust me, this is more important," Graham said, raising the pile of wood in his arms.
"Firewood?" Molly asked. She flinched as Graham snorted.
"No, spears. A few wooden shacks aren't going to keep us safe. We need to defend ourselves. The next time those bastards show up, we'll be ready." His eyes settled on Asher, and an unfamiliar expression flitted across Graham's face. His customary veneer of anger and arrogance had cracked, revealing something like real grief.
"Do you want to join us for a minute?" Wells asked, softening. "I thought we'd say a few words for Asher. You knew him well, so maybe you'd like to—"
"It seems like you have everything under control," Graham cut him off, avoiding Asher's body as he met Wells's eyes. "Carry on, Chancellor."
By the time the sun had fully set, Wells and Eric were placing the final shovelfuls of dirt on the new grave while Priya wrapped flowers around the wooden marker. The rest of the group had drifted away, either to avoid watching the actual burial or to stake out a spot in one of the new cabins. Each could fit about twenty comfortably, thirty if people were too tired—or too cold—to complain about errant legs sprawled across their mound of charred blankets, or the odd elbow to the face.
Wells was disappointed, though not surprised, to discover that Lila had once again claimed one of the cabins for Graham and his friends, leaving the younger kids shivering in the cold as they looked warily around the shadow-filled clearing. Even with volunteer guards keeping watch, no one left outside was in for a restful night.
"Hey," Wells said as Graham strode past carrying one of his partially completed spears. "Since you and Dmitri are taking the second guard shift, why don't you two sleep outside? It'll be easier for me to find you when my shift's over."
Before Graham could respond, Lila sauntered up and hooked her arm through his. "You promised you'd stay with me tonight, remember? I'm too afraid to sleep on my own," she said, affecting a breathy, high-pitched voice that was a far cry from her usually snapping tone.
"Sorry," Graham said to Wells, shrugging. Wells could hear the smug grin in his voice. "I hate going back on my word." Graham tossed his spear to Wells, who caught it in one hand. "I'll take a shift tomorrow night, if we're not all dead by then."
Lila gave an exaggerated shudder. "Graham," she chastised. "You shouldn't talk like that!"
"Don't worry, I'll protect you," Graham said, wrapping his arm around her. "Or else I'll make sure your last night on Earth is the best of your life." Lila giggled, and Wells fought the urge to roll his eyes.
"Maybe you should both sleep outside," Eric said as he emerged from the shadows. "That way, the rest of us might have a chance of getting some rest."
Graham scoffed. "Don't pretend like I didn't see Felix sneaking away from your bedroll this morning, Eric. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a hypocrite."
A hint of a rare smile flickered across Eric's face. "Yes, but you didn't hear us."
"Come on," Lila said, dragging Graham forward. "Let's go before Tamsin gives our bed away."
"Do you want me to take this shift with you?" Eric offered, looking at Wells.
Wells shook his head. "It's okay. Priya's already out checking the perimeter."
"Do you think they'll be back?" Eric asked, lowering his voice.
Wells glanced over his shoulder, searching for any eavesdroppers in the darkness, then nodded. "It was more than a warning. It was a show of force. Whoever they are, they want us to know that they aren't happy we're here."
"No. Clearly they're not," Eric said, turning to look across the clearing where Asher was buried. With a sigh, he said good night to Wells and headed toward the clump of makeshift cots, which Felix and some of the others had clustered around the empty fire pit out of habit.
Wells hoisted the spear over his shoulder and turned around to find Priya. He'd only taken a few steps when his shoulder bumped into something, and a yelp rang out in the darkness.
"Are you okay?" Wells asked, stretching out a steadying hand.
"I'm fine," a girl said shakily. It was Molly.
"Where are you sleeping tonight? I'll help you find your bed."
"Outside. There was no more room in the cabins." Her voice was small.
Wells was overcome with an urge to grab Graham and Lila and toss them in the stream. "Are you warm enough?" he asked. "I can get you a blanket." He'd steal it off Graham's body if need be.
"I'm okay. It's pretty warm tonight, isn't it?"
Wells surveyed her quizzically. The temperature had dropped considerably since the sun set. He reached out and placed the back of his hand against Molly's forehead. Her skin was warm to the touch. "Are you sure you're feeling all right?"
"Maybe a little dizzy," she admitted. Wells pressed his lips together. They'd lost a lot of their supplies in the fire, which meant that rations had decreased significantly. "Here," he said, reaching into his pocket for the protein packet he hadn't had time to finish. "Eat this."
She shook her head. "It's okay. I'm not hungry," she said weakly.
After making her promise to let him know if she wasn't feeling better tomorrow, Wells set off to find Priya. They'd saved most of the medicine, but what good would it be without the one person who knew how to use it? He wondered how far Clarke and Bellamy had traveled by now, and whether they'd found any sign of Octavia. A bolt of fear cut through his exhaustion as he thought about the dangers facing Clarke in the forest. She and Bellamy had left before the attack. They had no idea that there were people out there, Earthborns who communicated through deadly arrows.
He sighed as he tilted his head back toward the sky, sending out a silent prayer for the girl he'd risked countless lives to protect. The girl whose eyes had blazed with hatred when she'd told him she never wanted to see him again.
They'd been walking for two days, pausing only for an hour or two at a time to rest. The backs of Clarke's legs burned, but Bellamy showed no signs of stopping. Clarke didn't care—in fact, she welcomed the pain. The more she thought about her hamstrings, the less she thought about the ache in her chest, and the friend she hadn't been able to save.
She took a deep breath. Even if she'd been blindfolded, she'd be able to tell that the sun had set. The air was heavy with the scent of the white blossoms that only unfurled at night, making the trees look like they'd dressed for dinner. Clarke wished she knew what sort of evolutionary advantage the strange flowers provided. Maybe they attracted a type of nocturnal insect? Their distinct perfume bordered on overwhelming in the spots where the trees grew close together, but Clarke preferred them to the orderly rows of apple trees she and Bellamy had seen earlier. Her neck prickled as she recalled the evenly spaced trunks, like straight-backed guards standing in formation.
Bellamy was walking a few meters ahead of her. He had gone quiet, just as he did on his hunting expeditions. But this time, he wasn't tracking a rabbit or stalking a deer. He was looking for his sister.
It had been almost a whole day since they'd seen the last set of footprints, and the unspoken truth thickened the silence until Clarke could feel it pressing against her chest.
They'd lost Octavia's trail.
Bellamy paused at the top of the hill, and Clarke stopped next to him. They were standing on the edge of a ridge. Just a few meters ahead, the ground sloped sharply down to a glimmering body of water. The moon above was huge and bright, while a second moon trembled just below, reflected on the surface.
"It's beautiful," Bellamy said without looking at her, but there was an edge to his voice.
Clarke placed a hand on Bellamy's arm. He flinched but didn't pull away. "I bet Octavia thought so too. Should we go down and see if there's any sign…" Clarke trailed off. Octavia hadn't gone for an impromptu stroll through the woods. Neither of them would say it aloud, but Octavia's sudden disappearance, the way her footprints suggested she was dragged—she had been taken.
But by whom? Clarke thought of the apple trees again, and shuddered.
Bellamy took a few steps forward. "It looks a little less steep over here," he said, reaching out to grab her hand. "Come on."
They didn't speak as they made their way down the slope. When Clarke slipped on a patch of slick mud, Bellamy tightened his hold and helped her regain her balance. But the moment they reached level ground, he let go and jogged toward the water, examining the bank for footprints.
Clarke hung back, staring at the lake as wonder swept away the exhaustion that had settled in her limbs. The surface was as smooth as glass, and the reflection of the moon looked like one of the gems she'd seen occasionally at the Exchange, locked up in a transparent case.
When Bellamy turned around, his expression was weary, almost defeated. "We should probably rest," he said. "There's no point in wandering through the dark without a trail."
Nodding, Clarke let her pack slide to the ground, then raised her arms into the air and stretched. She was tired and sweaty, and there was a days-old layer of ash on her skin that she was desperate to wash off.
She walked slowly toward the lake, crouching down at the edge and skimming her fingertips across the surface. When they'd first arrived on Earth, she'd been diligent about purifying any water they used to drink or bathe, in case it was contaminated with radioactive bacteria. But she was running out of iodine drops, and after watching a fire kill her best friend while her ex-boyfriend restrained her, a little lake water seemed like the least of her problems.
Clarke exhaled deeply and closed her eyes, letting her tension dissipate with her breath into the night air.
She rose to her feet and turned to look at Bellamy. He stood perfectly still, staring across the lake with an intensity that made Clarke shiver. Her first instinct was to slip away and give him his space. But then another impulse took over, and a mischievous smile slinked across her face.
Without a word, she pulled her sweat-soaked shirt over her head, kicked off her boots, and stepped out of her dirt- and ash-streaked pants. She spun on her heel, wishing she could see the look on Bellamy's face as he watched her step into the lake wearing nothing but her bra and underwear.
The water was colder than she'd realized, and her skin began to prickle, although she wasn't sure if it was from the night air or the sensation of Bellamy's eyes on her.
She waded forward, yelping as the water swirled around her shoulders. Water was far too scarce on the Colony to justify baths, and this was the first time Clarke had ever felt her entire body submerged. She experimented with lifting her feet out of the mud and trying to float, feeling strangely powerful and vulnerable. For a moment, she forgot that a fire had taken her best friend's life. She forgot that she and Bellamy had lost Octavia's trail. She forgot that her improvised swimming outfit was going to be see-through whenever she emerged from the water.
"I think the radiation must've finally scrambled your brain."
Clarke twisted around and saw Bellamy looking at her with a combination of surprise and amusement. His familiar smirk had returned.
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and ducked under the surface, popping up a second later with a laugh as water streamed down her face. "It's fine."
Bellamy stepped forward. "So your keen scientific mind knew instinctively that the water was safe?"
Clarke shook her head. "No." She lifted a hand into the air and made a show of examining it. "I could be growing flippers and gills as we speak."
Bellamy nodded with mock solemnity. "Well, if you grow flippers, I promise not to shun you."
"Oh, trust me. I'm not going to be the only mutant."
Bellamy raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
Clarke cupped her hands, filled them with water, and splashed it at Bellamy with a laugh. "Now you'll grow flippers too."
"You really shouldn't have done that." Bellamy's voice was low and menacing, and for a moment, Clarke thought she might've actually upset him. But then he grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled it over his head in one swift motion.
The moon was so large and bright that there was no mistaking the grin on Bellamy's face as he reached down to undo the button on his pants, tossing them aside like they weren't the only pair he had on the planet. His long, well-muscled legs were pale in his gray shorts. Clarke blushed but didn't look away.
Bellamy plunged into the lake and closed the distance between them with a few powerful strokes. He'd boasted about teaching himself to swim during his treks to the stream, and for once, he hadn't been exaggerating.
He disappeared under the water, just long enough for Clarke to feel a flicker of worry. Then his hand grasped her wrist, and she squealed as he spun her around, expecting him to splash her in retaliation. But Bellamy just stared at her for a moment before raising a hand and running his finger along her neck. "No gills yet," he said softly.
Clarke shivered as she looked up at him. His hair was slicked back away from his face, and water droplets clung to the stubble along his jawline. His dark eyes burned with an intensity that was worlds away from his usual playful grin. It seemed hard to believe he was the same boy she'd carelessly flung her arms around in the woods.
Something shifted in his gaze, and she closed her eyes, sure that he was about to kiss her. But then a crack sounded from the trees, and Bellamy's head whipped around. "What was that?" he asked. Without waiting for Clarke to respond, he took off for the shore, leaving her alone in the water.
Clarke watched Bellamy grab his bow and disappear into the shadows. She sighed, then silently chastised herself for her foolishness. If it'd been her family they were seeking, she wouldn't waste time playing in the water either. She tilted her head back, sending drops of water trickling off her face as she stared up at the sky and thought about the two bodies drifting among those very stars. What would her parents say if they could see her now, here on the planet they had always dreamed of calling home?
"Can we play the atlas game?" Clarke asked, leaning over her father to peer at his tablet. It was covered with complicated-looking equations that Clarke didn't recognize. But she would someday soon; even though she was only eight, she'd recently started algebra. When Cora and Glass heard about it, they'd rolled their eyes and whispered loudly about how math was pointless. Clarke had tried to explain that without math, there would be no doctors, and no engineers, which meant that they'd all die of preventable diseases… if the Colony didn't burst into flames first. But Cora and Glass had only laughed and then spent the rest of the day giggling every time Clarke walked past.
"In a minute," her father said. He frowned slightly as he swiped the screen, rearranging the order of the equations. "I just need to finish this first."
Clarke brought her face closer to the tablet. "Can I help? If you explain it to me, I bet I can figure the hard part out."
He laughed and ruffled her hair. "I'm sure you could. But you're helping me just by sitting here. You remind me why our research is so important." He smiled, closed the program he was working on, and opened the atlas. A holographic globe appeared in the air just above the couch.
Clarke swiped her finger through the air and the globe rotated. "What's this one?" she asked, pointing to the outline of a large country.
Her father squinted. "Let's see… that's Saudi Arabia."
Clarke pressed her finger against the shape. It turned blue and the words New Mecca appeared.
"Ah, that's right," her father said. "That one changed its name a number of times before the Cataclysm." He rotated the sphere and pointed to a long, narrow country on the other side of the globe. "What about that one?"
"Chile," Clarke said confidently.
"Really? I think it feels pretty warm in here."
Clarke rolled her eyes. "Daddy, are you going to make that joke every time we play?"
"Every. Single. Time." He smiled and pulled Clarke onto his lap. "At least, until we're actually in Chile. Then it might get old."
"David," Clarke's mom warned from the kitchen, where she was tearing open protein packets and mixing them in with the greenhouse kale. She didn't like it when Clarke's father made jokes about going to Earth. According to her research, it was going to be at least another hundred years until the planet was safe.
"What about the people?" Clarke asked.
Her father cocked his head to the side. "What do you mean?"
"I want to see where all the people lived. Why aren't any apartments on the map?"
Her father smiled. "I'm afraid we don't have anything that detailed. But people lived everywhere." He traced his finger along one of the squiggly lines. "They lived by the ocean… they lived in the mountains… the desert… along the rivers."
"How come they didn't do anything when they knew the Cataclysm was coming?"
Her mother walked over to join them on the couch. "It all happened very quickly," she said after she'd sat down. "And there weren't many places on Earth where people could hide from all that radiation. I think the Chinese were building a structure here." She zoomed out the map and pointed to a spot on the far right side. "And there was talk of something near the seed bank, here." She traced her finger to the top of the map.
"What about Mount Weather?" her father asked.
Clarke's mother fiddled with the globe. "That was in what would've been Virginia, right?"
"What's Mount Weather?" Clarke asked, leaning in for a better look.
"Many years before the Cataclysm, the United States government built a large underground bunker in case of nuclear war. The scenario seemed unlikely, but they had to do something to protect the President—he was like their Chancellor," she explained. "But when the bombs finally fell, no one made it there in time, not even the President. It all happened too suddenly."
An uncomfortable question bumped against the jumble of other thoughts in Clarke's mind. "How many people died? Like, thousands?"
Her father sighed. "More like billions."
"Billions?" Clarke rose to her feet and padded over to the small, round, star-filled window. "Do you think they're all up here now?"
Her mother walked over and placed her hand on Clarke's shoulder. "What do you mean?"
"Isn't heaven supposed to be somewhere in space?"
Clarke's mother gave her shoulder a squeeze. "I think heaven is wherever we imagine it to be. I've always thought mine would be on Earth. In a forest somewhere, full of trees."
Clarke slipped her hand into her mother's. "Then that's where mine will be too."
"And I know what song will be playing at the pearly gates," her father said with a laugh.
Her mother spun around. "David, don't you dare play that song again." But it was too late. Music was already streaming out of the speakers in the walls. Clarke grinned as she heard the opening lines of "Heaven Is a Place on Earth."
"Seriously, David?" her mother asked, raising an eyebrow.
Praise for The 100:
"It's easy to be drawn in by the Lord of the Flies-style tension that builds as the teens struggle to set up a new society on a battered Earth, and by the smoldering romances that hang in the balance."—Publishers Weekly
"Dark and riveting...A mash-up of The Lord of the Flies, Across the Universe, and The Hunger Games."—Booklist
"A mash-up of the hit TV reality show Survivor and traditional science fiction...Morgan's weave of pop-culture elements and politics make for a gripping read."—School Library Journal
"Likely to be a hit with readers who want their Pretty Little Liars mixed with Lord of the Flies."—The Bulletin
- On Sale
- Sep 16, 2014
- Hachette Audio