The kids must have seen Bellamy and Luke coming, because the littlest of them started to creep out from the relative safety of the woods. Bellamy cursed. The camp might look eerily empty now, but they’d been under attack just minutes ago. The boy, maybe five, ran toward Luke, sobbing, arms extended to be picked up. But they were still three hundred yards away, minimum. The other kids followed the boy in a mad rush, all order abandoned.

Bellamy broke into a sprint, pointing the children toward the infirmary as they passed him in a wave, his eyes scanning the edge of the clearing so fast everything seemed to blur.

Everything but Octavia, still too far away, stumbling as she ran. Then, like a scene from a nightmare, three tall figures in white emerged from the shadow of the woods. Bellamy could only run and run and run and watch, his eyes boring into his sister’s face.

Run, he shouted. Except that no sound came out. Not even when two of the men grabbed her, wrenching her arms behind her back, while the third pulled a syringe from his pocket and plunged it into her neck. A few seconds later, she fell limp as a cloth doll into her captors’ arms.

“No!” Bellamy screamed. “Get your hands off of her; I will kill you!”

The three figures glanced up, blandly curious; then one of them tossed something into the clearing between them—and the others carried his sister back into the woods.

Bellamy started to chase them, but Luke grabbed hold of him and dragged him backward.

“It’s a grenade. Get down!”

They fell beside each other on the hard ground, hands over their heads, bracing for the blast, but it was a muffled one. Bellamy peered up, seeing a wall of smoke between him and the last spot he’d seen his sister. He pulled up his shirt, covering his face and holding his breath as he tore through the fog, emerging on the other side to see… nothing.

The invaders were gone.


And so was Octavia.





Something thudded against his head, over and over in a slow, relentless rhythm. He tried to open his eyes, but they were as heavy as sandbags and something gnawed at the back of his mind, whispering that he didn’t want to wake up quite yet. He wasn’t ready to know.

The last he could remember, he’d been in the woods with Eric. Bellamy had gone to find Clarke, and Wells and Eric were darting in and out of the clearing, grabbing more injured and bringing them to the woods, where Clarke’s father could treat them. He and Eric had just ducked back under the cover of the trees, supporting someone between them. Then there had been a sharp sting against his shoulder blade. Wells had turned to find a strange, unsmiling man with sunken cheeks. Then… nothing.

Awareness crept in. The feel of hard, cracked wood beneath his shoulders. A swaying motion, like he’d felt on the dropship before it hit Earth’s atmosphere. A sour humid smell; a weird grinding sound. Light flickered past his eyelids.

“This one’s waking up,” said a voice beside his ear, male, unfamiliar.

Wells’s eyes flew open. He was staring at a wooden wall, badly built, with gaps between the thin, rotting boards. Through one of the gaps, he could see a green blur. His bleary mind began to put pieces together, agonizingly slowly. The forest? They were moving through it. This was some sort of vehicle.

“Watch him,” came another, deeper voice, farther away.

“Where the hell are you taking us?” a familiar voice shouted. There was a loud thump, the wall rattling. A face rose up in Wells’s mind, a smug smirk, and then a name. Graham. The screaming boy was Graham.

“He’s not ready yet. Give him another shot,” came the deep voice again.

Startled, Wells shifted, but realized his arms were bound behind him, maybe his ankles too. It was hard to tell—his spine was coiled and cramped, his legs numb. He kicked, just a little, and his legs erupted in excruciating pinpricks.

“You’re all right,” came that same, affectless voice above him. Wells managed to turn his head just far enough to see a pale boy staring down at him. “The fight’s over. You’re one of the lucky ones.”

“The lucky ones?” Wells tried to say, but his mouth wouldn’t work.

I’ve been drugged. The pain in my back… they caught me in the woods and injected me with something.

“You’re one of us now,” the pale boy said, looking away. “If you don’t scream, we’ll let you wake up.”

But Wells hardly heard the end of that sentence. He was slipping again and then gone.

It was dark the next time he opened his eyes. Someone had propped him into a sitting position, his legs stretched out in front of him, still bound by thick twine. Holding his breath, he blinked until his vision adjusted. His earlier guess had been right. He was inside a covered wagon of some sort, with tall wooden walls and high, barred windows. There was a little bench on the other side of the narrow space. Three men in white uniforms sat on it, including the pale boy and the frightening man from the woods. Wells inhaled sharply, but they weren’t looking at him. They weren’t talking to one another either, just sitting there, rocking with the movement of the cart, their eyes completely blank.

The road lurched and Wells’s shoulder bumped against someone else’s. His body still wasn’t as responsive as he wished, but he managed to turn his head enough to get a view of four people beside him. They were all bound to the wall in seated positions, all asleep, probably drugged. Wells’s heart gave a lurch as his eyes passed over their faces. Next to Graham was Eric, a deep gash on one cheek, followed by an Arcadian kid. The fourth still figure was a little older, less familiar. It was one of Sasha’s people.

Another knot formed in his already clenched stomach. No matter what he did, he continued to let her down. He didn’t know who these murderers in white were, but they hadn’t shown up on the scene until the Colonists appeared.

Wells had suspected there must be other people alive on Earth, but Sasha’s people had never encountered any others. Had they found their site because of the dropships? Had the Colonists doomed them all?

The cart jolted and his head rolled back. He drew a breath and righted it, cricking his neck straight again.

The pale soldier was staring at him across the dark wagon. Wells stared back.

“Who are you?” Wells asked, and this time sound actually came out.

“We’re the Protectors,” the boy said in a strange, almost dreamy voice.

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