When last we met, Hamech had arrived and was blasting the college all to hell. Dr. Z had just headed directly into danger and probably died (the way he should have long ago, when the Hero’s Journey demanded it), and everyone is in the big government warehouse.
There were only two things left to do, and I had no idea how to accomplish either of them. Hamech’s ship was moving slowly, but it was headed straight for the warehouse. We still weren’t sure where the specimen was, if Tennison had reactivated the parasites, or if Brahmberger was being held captive somewhere inside the facility.
That’s three things, and none of them are things they have to do. They’re just things that are happening.
Benji needs to find his papa:
“Frank Reynolds!” he screamed.
A scientist type guy grabs Benji. They know each other.
Sebastian shook his head, pushing his broken glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I haven’t seen him since we were forced here. Rendlesham said you betrayed us, but Frank didn’t believe it. None of us believed it. And we were right. You did it. You brought us the girl.”
Benji asks about the rock.
“The rock still hasn’t shown activity, but the girl,” he said, glancing at me, “knowing her past resilience, we believe she could stimulate them. Before, they had reacted immediately to the aliens. In theory, they’re more attracted to an extraordinarily strong host.” He stood up tall, clearly proud of Benji. “We’ve just been waiting for you to complete the objective, sir.”
It’s a good thing Benji already admitted to Rory that he was involved in the Majestic, otherwise this would give her a reason to distrust him.
All the breath left my lungs. Cy was right. Benji wasn’t just a college kid who happened to be going to the right college at the right time. He wan’t just watching over me for his father. Benji was one of the twelve. He was Majestic.
Look, there are only so many times you can pull the big, dramatic reveal. We have passed that point. It’s become an endless cycle of Rory having her suspicions confirmed, Benji declaring his undying love, Rory being sure she can trust him, Rory having her suspicions confirmed, Benji declaring his undying love, Rory being sure she can trust him, Rory having her suspicions confirmed…
You get where I’m going with that.
At this point all this, “Oh, the betrayal!” nonsense is doing is making Rory look stupid. Not for trusting Benji, but for not realizing that if all of the stuff that has happened was a plan to get her to the Majestic, it was unnecessarily convoluted.
All of the things he proved capable of since the radio station weren’t learned just from his father. He was a soldier, and Ellie was right. I was his target and he had achieved his objective–to bring me to the warehouse.
Then why didn’t he just hand you over to Rendlesham at the ship? Why not let the soldiers who’d come after them at the radio station take you? If the plan was to get you to the warehouse, he’s had ample opportunity to do so without going on this days long caper.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I wish he would have just handed her over.
Sebastian asks Benji to help them escape:
Benji frowned and then walked over to the tall fence that surrounded the courtyard. He stood back, aimed, and shot at the large chain wrapped around the gate.
Wait, these are the government’s most brilliant scientists or whatever, and they couldn’t figure out how to get through a fence?
Rory tries to run away from Benji:
Before Benji could say another word, I maneuvered myself out of his grasp and elbowed him in the stomach. He folded in half, and then I grabbed the top of his sweatshirt and yanked him to the ground, stepping on the back of his neck with one foot and on the wrist that held Bryn’s gun with the other.
“Please just listen!” Benji begged, his words garbled from his face being smashed against the iron catwalk. He pressed against the sole of my boot until he could look up at me. “I love you. That changed everything.”
We know! We already know because this has happened like twenty times already! If this is where the big reveal was going to happen, it needed to be here! Not forty times per chapter every chapter since chapter twelve!
He’d lied to me before. He was probably lying now.
Of course he is. He got you to the warehouse, and instead of letting his sister take you to the science goons, he called her a bitch and threatened her with violence. His sister. But you’re right, nothing he’s done up until this point could possibly mean he’s in any way on your side.
“Don’t be stupid, Benji. Stand up slowly. It would be a shame to kill you with your sister’s gun.”
In case you were wondering, you’re supposed to be feeling betrayed and heartbroken on Rory’s behalf. Your heart should be pounding with excitement and rage at this sudden, shocking twist. The only reason that it isn’t is that you’ve seen this entire scenario play out already like eighty times.
Rory takes Benji back to the others, where Apolonia asks if Benji has been infected with the parasite.
“I heard him,” I said, my voice breaking. “He’s Majestic. He lied to us. He was bringing me here to be a test subject, to infect me with the parasite.”
Bryn laughed once without humor. Her eyes were red, blotchy, and moist. She was sitting on the floor, tethered to a desk with a phone cord. “You’re not on anyone’s side, are you?” she said to her brother.
So, here we have a member of this operation saying that he’s not on their side, but that and all the other stuff he’s done to fuck up the Majestic’s plan doesn’t prove anything.
Rory tells the rest of them that Hamech’s ship is headed toward the warehouse. Tsavi suggests they get to the roof.
“The specimen is being held between here and the only roof access. Soldiers will be there, guarding it,” Benji said.
You know, Benji. The one who betrayed them and shit. That Benji. Is telling them where the specimen is. That guy.
Bryn watched her brother, incredulous and sad. She held her bound hands in front of her, resting her elbows on her knees. Placing her cheek against her wrists, she shook her head. “You’re killing us all over a misfit girl who thinks you’re a lying piece of shit.”
So, Bry, Benji’s sister, who knew he was bringing Rory in when we met her in the last chapter, believes that her brother has betrayed the Majestic. Isn’t that kind of, I don’t know, proof or something that he might actually be on Rory’s side?
Her words stung. I knew she believed them, but that just meant she wasn’t in on Benji’s plan.
Which plan? The plan where he did everything he could–including killing soldiers who were on his side–to help you escape the Majestic? Also, at no point was it Benji’s plan to go to the warehouse. That was your plan, Rory. You were the one who suggested it.
“Rory, go with Apolonia and Tsavi. Show them the way to the roof. I’ll keep working on communications,” Cy said. “Try not to kill anyone,” he said to Apolonia.
Why, has she reached her quota? Is she on overtime now? Is she getting paid double-time-and-a-half because it’s a holiday or something?
Apolonia uses a contraction in a sentence, and Rory tells her she sounds “normal”, because apparently people who don’t speak English natively and therefore struggle with contractions aren’t normal.
“Don’t send her up there, Cyrus,” Benji warned.
Cy didn’t look at Benji but back at the control panel. “Quiet.”
“You’re going to get her killed,” Benji said, yanking on the cords. “Keep her here with you. Let the warrior princess and her BFF go upstairs to flag down the fire king. They don’t need Rory’s help.”
This definitely sounds like a guy who wants to hand Rory over to the Majestic. Just listen to the way he’s all, “Don’t let her go up there,” and “you’re going to get her killed.”
Benji looked at me, determined. “Don’t go, Rory. There are soldiers up there. You’ll be walking into a trap.”
I mean, he’s even telling her that if she goes, they’re going to get her. What kind of evil monster does that? He’s clearly not on her side at all.
“There are worse things than soldiers, Rory. Please. Don’t. Go.” A deep line formed between his brows. His wrists were white, the skin straining against the cord. He was leaning toward me, desperate.
“I don’t believe a damn word you say.” I tucked Bryn’s 9mm into the back of Cy’s jeans. “Shoot him in the kneecap if he tries to escape.”
Rory already knows that the scientists want to use her to activate the parasites that will destroy the entire Earth. He’s telling her not to go up to where the soldiers are guarding the rock. What could possibly be the purpose of that, in his “plan” that has thus far has only involved ferrying Rory around to places she or Cy or Apolonia have decided to go?
Rory, Tsavi, and Apolonia head off any way.
I peered around the corner. Jesus, Benji was right. We had walked into a hive. There were twice as many soldiers guarding the rock as there were in the courtyard.
Oh, so Benji told you the truth? He tried to keep you from getting to the place he was was supposed to bring you? Wow, it’s almost like he’s on your side. (Also, underlines are italics in the original text)
Apolonia nodded to an elevator shaft. “There is roof access.”
I shook my head. “I don’t do elevators.”
This is pretty much NOT THE TIME TO COMPLICATE SHIT WITH YOUR ISSUES, RORY.
I peeked around the corner, in the direction of the soldiers. A room beyond the armed men was quarantined off by some type of clear plastic tarp, thin enough to see through.
A clear plastic tarp, thin enough to see through. Glad you gave us such a detailed description there, Rory. I didn’t realize you could see through shit that was clear. I would have been super confused. Also, I think the word the author was looking for was “cordoned” not “quarantined”. You don’t quarantine something off. You just quarantine it. The separation is implied.
There were people definitely lying on the tables, but they weren’t scientists. They were people of all ages, including young children. One table was empty. Mine.
A blast rocked the facility, which only make the scientists work faster. The soldiers seemed to be nervous and antsy, but they remained at their post.
“Apolonia, there are children in there. I think the scientists are baiting the parasites with them. We have to get in there.”
A myriad of emotions scrolled across Apolonia’s face. Most times, she seemed heartless, but the thought of children inside clearly affected her. She nodded. “I will get you in, but if I go against Cyrus’s wishes by killing one or all of them, I will tell him you’re to blame.”
“Fair enough,” I said, positioning myself behind the lethal, beautiful being I was actually beginning to like.
Now there is a shocking twist. Rory, actually liking another woman? A woman whom she considers her romantic rival? I need to put this book down before I faint.
Tsavi reminds them that the ship is going to be there to blow the facility up any minute.
I was surprised she wasn’t okay with the new plan. Tsavi was usually the more compassionate one, but she was clearly afraid. She had seen what those parasites were capable of and didn’t want to be anywhere near them.
Well, Rory, you probably shouldn’t be anywhere near them, either. What with the whole thing where the scientist said that the parasites would wake up when they were exposed to you.
Apolonia and Tsavi take out most of the guards non-lethally, and then the three women all stand around congratulating each other.
In unison, we all responded to movement on the floor, but too late. A rifle was already raised, and a spray of bullets pierced through Tsavi’s torso. She cried out as Apolonia quickly removed the soldier’s head.
Tsavi is in bad shape, so she tells Apolonia to get Hamech’s attention. Then they can take Tsavi to the ship’s infirmary. But Tsavi dies first.
I stood, glaring back at the scientists in hazmat suits staring back at me, and then pushed through the plastic tarp.
Wait, so these scientists are just standing around watching all this happening? They see two alien killing machines taking everyone out, they just saw a guy get his head cut off, but they didn’t run away?
Rory tries to revive Rory, but a scientist comes up and says the alien is obviously dead. All of the subjects on the tables have tubes draining their blood.
The boy had an open laceration in the same spot, and plastic tubing guided his blood to the rock.
How’s this working? Is the blood just spurting all over the rock? It’s a rock, it’s not like you can give it an IV and do a transfusion.
“You’re baiting the parasites?” I said, so angry I was shaking. “With children?”
How do the scientists know about the parasites? They didn’t have the rock until a few days ago. After months of research, Dr. Zorba didn’t even know about the parasites. And if they know what the parasites are, why would they want to wake them up? I suppose if this is a government organization they plan to weaponize the parasites somehow, but it doesn’t make sense, because once they’re released, they’ll eat everyone, not just enemies of the U.S.
The ginger smiled with approval. “Rory, nice to finally meet you.”
“Who are you?” I said, even angrier that he knew my name.
He chuckled. “I’m a little hurt you don’t recognize me. Either you’re not paying attention in class, or Byron Zorba is more jealous than I thought and doesn’t teach his students about the most esteemed biomedical engineer of all time.”
Because it is the famed Dr. Tennison, who was responsible for getting the rock into Zorba’s hands, if I remember correctly. If don’t remember correctly, who gives a fuck, because this is the second to last chapter and we’re almost done. Let’s just get through this so we can pretend it never happened to us.
I grabbed a scalpel and lunged at Tennison, but a strong, thick hand grabbed my wrist.
“Easy now!” the man laughed.
I pulled away. It was Rendlesham, still wearing his ridiculous crocodile boots.
If you follow my Buffy recaps, you know that I’ve pointed out places where Buffy’s strength and skill seems to wax and wane dependent on the plot. This is exactly what’s happening here. We’ve seen Rory react with inhuman reflex in situations where she’s called upon to defend herself. But all it takes here is Rendlesham grabbing her wrist. She doesn’t flip him over or use the scalpel to stab him, the way she would have if he were a random dispensable character.
“Don’t be stupid, girl. You’re outnumbered and alone. We don’t want to hurt you,” Rendlesham said, forcing me to drop the scalpel.
Rory pulled away. How did he force her to drop the scalpel? Also, he doesn’t want to hurt her? When people say that, it’s definitely because they want to hurt you.
Rory tells them that Hammech is going to destroy the warehouse, so everything they’re doing is just going to get blown to bits, anyway and all of the data will be lost. I’m glad the data got brought up again. We haven’t talked about entering numbers or data in a long time.
“We know he’s here for her,” Tennison said, looking up. “She’s already gone to stop him. We’ve already seen signs of life in the specimen. By the time they come to get it–”
“It’ll already be too late?” I said.
“For them or for us?”
“Them, of course.”
I’m confused. Are they waking up the parasite specifically so they can kill these aliens? And if they are aware of the existence of the aliens who have basically fostered every single advance made by the ancient world, why would the government want to wipe them out? Why not work together and share technology, which the aliens are more than willing to do, and have been doing for centuries?
This is the second to last chapter in the book, and we still have no clear motivations for the villains.
Another scientist is revealed to be the missing Dr. Brahmberger, who is now in league with the Majestic. Rory tells him about the planets the parasites have destroyed.
“Your curiosity is going to result in the same end,” I said, looking to Brahmberger. “Do you want to be responsible for helping that thing eradicate our existence?”
“If it means I finally get the notoriety I deserve, I can live with that,” Tennison said, situating the girl’s arm closer to the rock.
The girl being referred to is, I assume, one of the people on the tables. It’s not clear. Also not clear is how Tennison thinks he’s going to be famous when every single member of the human race is dead, but okay, at least we have some motivation, I guess?
Without missing a beat, I grabbed a pen out of his pocket and stabbed him in the eye.
This is exactly what I’m talking about. Rory couldn’t have had a page long conversation with the scientists if she’d fought against them in the first place. We needed something other than, “This scientist made me drop my only weapon” to make us believe that Rory had no chance to kill the bad guys when she’s been able to disarm trained soldiers and stuff before.
Rendlesham started to grab for me, but a gun cocked, and all movement stopped.
Benji was on the other side of the barrel.
Benji freed himself from the phone cord they’d tied him up with. Cy realized Benji was actually on their side (like we always knew all along, because you can see the strings when you’re watching False Tension Marionette Theatre).
The building shook again, this time more violently, nearly throwing us all to the floor. Benji grabbed for me and kept me from falling headfirst into one of the tables.
I pulled away from his grip.
“Rory,” he whispered, his eyebrows pulled together.
Since Cy–who never trusted Benji–now inexplicably trusts Benji, Rory can’t trust Benji. I feel like the author is the only one who’s really invested in keeping this love triangle alive. I know that as a reader, I want it to be over.
So, Benji sees that his dad is hooked up to the rock, too, and he and Bryn go nuts.
Bryn rounded the corner and rushed to her dad’s table, her wrists still bound together. “Daddy?” she shrieked. “What did you do?” she screamed at Brahmberger.
He began to cry and backed away, sitting on a nearby stood. “What I thought…what I thought was right in the name of science.”
You endangered the life of a high ranking CIA agent in a secret twelve-man organization for science? Why not use one of the soldiers? Anybody who’s expendable?
So, a bunch of stuff happens at this point that I can kind of sum up for you. Brahmberger uses a drug to reverse the coma that Daddy Reynolds is in. Rory cuts Bryn’s hands free. Bryn escapes with her dad, but they can’t move the other test subjects because they’re all in comas, too, and apparently this can’t be reversed by the drug they used on Daddy Reynolds. Brahmberger says he’s staying with the patients and going down with the ship, basically, and Rendlesham tries to escape, but Benji kneecaps him with the 9 mil. And out of nowhere, Tsavi, who was dead, starts to wake up.
When Cy had rested her back on the table, her arm had fallen onto the table the rock was perched on.
Thick red mucus was draining from the pores in the rock. At first, the substance appeared to be snaking up Tsavi’s arm and entering her wounds, but when I looked closer, I could see it was not the mucus moving, but small creatures inside the red trail. They were slug-like in texture and appearance, each one about as big as a human thumb.
Tennison gets around to pulling the pen out of his eye, and tells Brahmberger to get a sample.
“This is it,” Tennison said, his hand hover over Tsavi. “What we’ve been working toward for three years, Brahmberger.”
Okay, so now we have some kind of timeline of events. Let me see if I have this straight:
- Tennison or Brahmberger or whoever find the rock.
- They use Dr. Zorba to smuggle it out of Antarctica or whatever.
- Dr. Zorba did a bunch of research on it.
- Rory’s dad was involved somehow, getting his whole family killed,
- Except for Rory, who may or may not be immortal.
- The Majestic sent Benji and Ellie to keep an eye on Rory because they planned to use her impossible strength and/or immortality to reactivate the parasite.
- The aliens send Cy to keep tabs on the rock and keep the parasites from waking up.
And that’s where we come into the story.
I guess my biggest question here is…why didn’t Tennison or Brahmberger or whoever just keep the goddamn rock in the first place?
So then this happens:
Brahmberger screamed, dropped the petri dish, and backed away as Tsavi rose from the table, her head, shoulders, and wrists twitching.
Then, the young boy began to twitch…and scream. Now that the parasites had found a familiar host, they were trying to embed themselves in the others. The humans.
So, the parasites are spreading, and they have to run. They have to get up to the roof before what’s happening to all the other people happens to them. But the stairway is blocked, and they have to take the elevator. Which Rory won’t do because:
“My parents were murdered, Benji. The men who killed them–they worked for Majestic. They got on the hotel elevator with us. They held a gun to my head and forced my parents to lead them to our room where they raped my best friend and tortured us before leaving us all to die. I haven’t been in an elevator since.”
The problem is that Tsavi shows up, all twitchy and dripping parasite goo, so Rory doesn’t have a choice. She doesn’t get on the elevator willingly, though. She just falls inside and Benji hits the button.
Okay, I get it. She has this thing about elevators because of her family getting murdered. But this is literally life or death. I get that phobias aren’t rational, but she’s be fine rushing headlong into the warehouse where the Majestic–the people who did all the stuff to her family–had tons and tons of men with guns at their disposal. She’s done this not once, but twice. Her inability to get into the elevator takes a big chunk out of all the growth she’s shown so far.
They get to the roof, where Cy and Apolonia are trying to activate some kind of energy source to signal Hamech.
An explosion set ablaze the field jut one mile to the east. I could feel the heat against my face. My hair blew into my eyes from the firestorm raging just a mile away.
Again, the distances in this book make no sense. Either the college is much further away from the warehouse than it originally seemed–making it unlikely that they saw the college get destroyed–or Hamech’s ship is incredibly slow.
They can’t get the energy source to work, so basically they’re all going to die.
“Will Hamech stop once he destroys the warehouse?” Benji asked. “Because if Hamech is going to to destroy Earth anyway, instead of just waiting here to die, we should all get a fighting chance.”
Uh, I think you got that backwards, Benji. If Hamech wasn’t going to destroy the Earth, then it would make sense to try for a fighting chance. If he’s going to destroy the Earth, why does it matter where you die?
Cy tells them that once Hamech destroys the warehouse and the parasites, he’ll leave.
Benji tensed and then held out his hand for mine. I took it, both of us staring up, waiting for our impending death.
Before when they needed to escape the warehouse, Benji and Cy jumped off the roof and made a run for it. It didn’t kill them then. Why can’t they do that now?
Oh, because this book is incredibly inconsistent.
But don’t worry, we still have time for Rory to critique Apolonia’s appearance:
Apolonia’s long hair blew in the wind, dull and dirty, like her skin and clothes.
Cy and Apolonia embrace, and he tells her that this isn’t the end, they’ll see each other again, presumably in the afterlife.
So, I was wrong when I said this was the second to last chapter. It’s actually the third to last chapter, but the next two are so short, I’ll just throw them into one recap. Then I can move on with my life, and we can forget this whole thing ever happened.