A great, shattering boom drowned out Glass’s thoughts and Soren’s speech.

By the time Glass opened her eyes again, the ground was lurching beneath her feet. She knew only too well what this was. An explosion… the kind that destroyed everything in its path. Just like the explosions that had rocked her camp.

But this time, judging by the looks on the Protectors’ faces, they weren’t the ones dropping the bombs.

A second explosion went off; both had come from around the outer walls of the Stone. Based on the way the ground was shaking, though, the entire structural integrity of the compound was being compromised. And the ground wasn’t the only thing shaking—the gazebo started to sway, bones tumbling out of it.

“Get back!” Glass shouted, pushing the girls toward the exit of the courtyard.

Soren looked stunned for a moment; then her head whipped around to her advisors. “Find the men and get to the armory!”

Without a blink, the women in gray turned on their heels and sprinted out of the courtyard as she’d commanded.

Soren started making her way out of the gazebo, but as she came toward them, the gazebo’s bone floor shifted and one of her legs fell through it. She peered up and reached toward Glass. “Help me out… quickly!”

Glass turned to the other girls and spoke in a rush. “Run west, toward the water. Take the alleys, those walls are thicker, less likely to fall.”

“Glass!” Soren called.


“Go,” Glass said to the others, ignoring the confused question in Octavia's and Anna’s eyes… why wasn’t she coming too? Then she turned back to Soren, whose hand was extended, asking for help, just as another blast seemed to tilt the very planet off its axis.

This one was too much for the gazebo to withstand. The entire behemoth leaned forward, back, and forward again, careening downward, crushing everything in its path.

Including Soren.

A cloud of dust shot out from every direction. Glass hacked a cough, covering her eyes, as she heard the girls behind her racing away, shouting directions to one another. She staggered forward, squinting to see through the gritty air.

As the dust drifted away, Glass saw a figure still there, eyes open, hand stretched out to reach hers.

The High Protector was trapped under what was left of the gazebo, now no more than a pile of bones.

“Get me out,” Soren said, her voice no longer remotely calm. “Glass, you have to help me.”

Glass crept closer, her eyes wandering to the nearest wall. A massive metal support beam had been knocked loose in the aftershock of the last explosion. It wavered away from the wall dangerously. All it would take was a gust of wind and it would come crashing down on both of them.

“Don’t look at that, look at me,” Soren said, straining so hard for her old, sweet, soothing tone that the sound of it made Glass stagger backward, repelled. The older woman smiled, her eyes like daggers.

Glass glanced over at the huge metal beam, wavering wildly. For one split second, she pictured herself diving forward, digging Soren out, pushing her out of the way as the beam fell. Then she pictured something else. The image of Glass’s mother leaping in front of her, begging for Glass’s life to be spared. Dying to make that wish come true.

“My child, I’m begging you,” Soren said.

“I’m not your child,” Glass said, shaking her head in disgust. “None of us are.”

Soren’s mouth drew in, all warmth evaporating like a mirage in the desert sun.

Glass retreated a few feet more. “You’ve never had a mother, have you? A real one?”

Soren closed her eyes, not responding.

Another step. “Well, I had a mother once. Do you know what they do, out there in the real world? They protect their children.” Glass felt all emotion draining out of her, remembering her camp, her village, the wagon that dragged her away, room after room of this hellhole filled with grieving prisoners, and all of this repeated again and again, inflicted on generation after generation. “You do the opposite, Soren. You manipulate your people to kill anything in your way. You do the opposite of protecting your children—you offer them up in this horrible ceremony. You’re not a mother.” She shrugged. “Just a parasite.”

As another blast shook the eastern walls, the ground shook under Glass’s feet.

“I’ll die if you leave me here!” Soren called out, her voice fading to nothing.

Glass bit back a swell of tears, fighting the urge to turn back.

“Only if Earth wills it,” she said.

West through the alleys, Glass thought, starting away. Out to the fields and then keep running, keep running, keep running.

A great shrieking whine sounded from behind her. That beam was finally giving way.

Glass heard Soren screaming.

Her heart broke, despite it all. But she kept on running.





Clarke held her breath, watching the last grenade explode along the massive outer wall, brilliant orange searing her eyes. The sound of it made her flinch, just as the last three detonations had.

Beside her, Bellamy let out an exultant huff, while Luke rocked back onto his heels, grinning in relief. Four explosives. Four successful detonations. Now all that was left to do was invade.

Clarke poked her head above the rubble, watching the silhouettes of Felix, Jessa, and Vale hurry into the gaping hole their bombs had carved into the outer wall of the compound. Paul had stayed behind at their campsite like the coward that he was.

Luke started to rise, but Bellamy held his hand up. “Wait for Felix’s signal that the coast is clear.”

Clarke gripped the crumbling cinder blocks in front of her, staring unblinking at the spot the others had just disappeared into. She drew in an anxious breath, hearing the rat-a-tat of new gunfire rising above the groaning of the building and roar of the flames.

Please let it be us doing the firing, she prayed, her fingers tightening reluctantly around her own handgun in preparation.

Felix appeared in the distance, waving a lit torch above his head. He glanced behind him, and then quickly ducked back inside.

Bellamy hissed, “There. Let’s move.”

They sprinted across the heap of rubble where they’d taken cover. Clarke ran until her lungs burned, covering her face with her arm as they approached the plumes of smoke from the explosions. She tried not to look up at the building, somehow even more terrifying a behemoth now that it was visibly crumbling. They’d need to get in and out fast or they were going to be destroyed right along with the rest of it.

Most Popular