Anna beamed. “She’s been waiting to do that forever.”

“Is that woman one of their leaders?” Clarke asked, staggering upright. “Maybe we should take her—use her to negotiate—”

“A truce?” Wells supplied darkly.

“Why not?” Clarke swiped dirt off her cheek. “They have no weapons left. We hold all the leverage,” Clarke said, her eyes still locked on Wells.

“Fine,” Wells said. “Let’s take her.”

They’d made it ten more steps toward the exit when a sound made them stop in their tracks… a guttural, animalistic cry made by way too many voices.

Two stunned seconds later, a group of familiar figures—Bellamy, Luke, Felix, Jessa, and Vale—erupted around the corner. Their friends raced toward them, arms and legs pumping wildly. Bellamy’s eyes widened at the sight of Clarke, and then flooded with relief when they landed on Octavia, but then they narrowed as he screamed a single word.



Clarke turned and fled with the crowd. Outside, the sun was rising, fiery, on the horizon. And behind them, the building mirrored the colors, engulfed in actual flames. Their crowd of escapees kept sprinting until they spotted a rippling movement in the near distance. Water. They’d reached the river.


Backing up until she stood shoulder to shoulder with Bellamy, Clarke turned and recocked her gun, preparing for a last stand. A crowd of raiders came roaring out of the building. This was it.

There was no mistaking it this time—these people were their enemies. Clarke stood on the front line as a crowd of men in white, some armed with guns, others with sticks and rocks, charged forward at full speed. They were led by a trio of women in gray dresses. Which reminded Clarke…

She grabbed the gray woman who had attacked her in the hall and stepped forward, pressing her gun to the woman’s head.

“Stop,” Clarke shouted at the approaching raiders. “Or I shoot her.”

The raiders halted, the women in front looking wild-eyed.

“We have your weapons,” continued Clarke. “We have your captives. Our people. Your building is destroyed. You are outnumbered and you cannot win. But this doesn’t need to end in violence. Leave. Leave this area and leave us be, and never, ever come back.”

All the people behind her watched silently as their pursuers lowered their weapons and dropped their rocks, their faces falling slack. They looked… defeated.

But then one of the women in gray stepped forward, her eyes blazing. “No. Soren declared this our home. She said that Earth willed it. We won’t leave unless Soren says so.”

Before Clarke could reply, Anna said, “Oh god,” and pointed past her shoulder.

A lone figure in white was crawling through a blown-out window behind them, flames licking at her back.

“Is that Glass?” Clarke asked, squinting.

Everyone—raiders and rescuers and captives alike—turned to watch her approach. Glass stumbled closer, dirty and defiant.

“Soren… is dead,” Glass shouted.





Still reeling from Soren’s last haunting scream, Glass shivered as she walked toward her friends.

All along the edge of the crumbling building, the Protectors were backing up, laying down their rocks and sticks, even their guns, with a confused glaze to their eyes. The warriors looked suddenly completely lost, helpless to do anything.

Without Soren, they were nothing.

And Glass and her friends were safe. They were free.

A hot gust of wind blew suddenly from the direction of the Stone. Glass pictured the flames devouring everything and everyone in their path, starting with the space that used to be an orchard… Then she sucked in a breath and forced her eyes away, turning instead to gaze out at the eastern side of the river. Dawn was breaking, the broad orange sun bright enough to extinguish all images of the burning fortress from Glass’s mind.

She blinked a few times while her eyes adjusted, turning a murky silhouette into a tall young man… someone impossibly, heartbreakingly familiar.

Glass’s mouth fell open.

He smiled and a sob lodged itself in Glass’s throat. She touched her own face first to make sure this was happening in real life… that she was actually alive and conscious and actually, truly seeing him standing in front of her… Then she reached out and touched his cheeks with the tips of her fingers, carefully, as though he might break.

He wasn’t a hallucination. He was solid, his pulse thrumming steadily, his breath a little shaky as she ran her hands along his lips, his neck, his chest.

Then and only then did she dare say it: “Luke.”

Her eyes teared up at the sound of the name and even more at the sight of his answering grin. She slid her arms around his neck and kissed him, and as their kiss deepened, all fear dropped away, replaced by wonder and burning, all-consuming gratitude.

“You’re cold,” he said, just as she was thinking how warm he was. He pulled away, brow knitted. “Are you going to be okay?”

Glass let out a dazed laugh. “Everything is perfect.”

“Okay, folks,” a confident male voice shouted. It was Paul, one of the guards from their camp. “It looks like the fire might spread, so we should walk alongside the river to be safe.”

Luke scoffed and shook his head, exchanging bemused glances with Bellamy. “That guy is unbelievable.”

Clarke let out a short laugh. “Unfortunately he’s right, though. Shall we?”

They made a quiet procession, considering how many of them there were, but the air around the entire group was charged with relief and hope.

Luke glanced around, eyes wide. “Where did all these people come from?”

“All over,” Glass said, her glance landing back on Anna and Octavia, walking along with a number of other girls from the dormitories. “Some were taken from their homes, like we were, and dragged here. Some are Colonists from a dropship that went off course and crashed.”

“What?” Luke’s head whipped around. “Anyone you know?” She knew he was thinking of all the friends he left behind on Walden to accompany Glass to Earth.

“No, but I haven’t had a chance to meet everyone yet.”

He swiveled his head from side to side, then let out a quiet sigh when he didn’t spot anyone he recognized.

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