Home > The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3)(4)

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3)(4)
Author: Rick Yancey

“Yes, Agatha. I will sit with you.”


HE CARRIES THE REMAINS of his victims to the surface two at a time, one under each arm, and throws them into the pit, dropping them down without ceremony before descending for another load. After Agatha, he killed the rest as they slept. No one woke. The priest worked quietly, quickly, with sure, steady hands, and the only noise was the whisper of cloth tearing as the blade sank home into the hearts of all forty-six, until his was the only heart left beating.

At dawn it begins to snow. He stands outside for a moment and lifts his face to a sky that is blank and gray. Snow settles on his pale cheeks. His last winter for a very long time: At the equinox, the pod will descend to return him to the mothership, where he’ll wait out the final cleansing of the human infestation by the ones they have trained for the task. Once on board the vessel, from the serenity of the void, he will watch as they launch the bombs that will obliterate every city on Earth, wiping clean the vestiges of human civilization. The apocalypse dreamed of by humankind since the dawn of its consciousness will finally be delivered—not by an angry god, but indifferently, as cold as the little priest when he plunged the knife into his victims’ hearts.

The snow melts on his upturned face. Four months until winter’s end. One hundred and twenty days until the bombs fall, then the unleashing of the 5th Wave, the human pawns they have conditioned to kill their own kind. Until then, the priest will remain to slaughter any survivors who wander into his territory.

Almost over. Almost there.

The little priest descends into the Palace of the Gods and breaks his fast.



BESIDE ME, Razor whispered, “Run.”

His sidearm exploded beside my ear. His target was the smallest thing that is the sum of all things, his bullet the sword that severed the chain that bound me to her.


As Razor died, he lifted his soft, soulful eyes to mine and whispered, “You’re free. Run.”

I ran.


I SMASH THROUGH the watchtower window, the ground rushing up to meet me.

When I land on the tarmac, not a single bone will break. I will feel no pain. I have been enhanced by the enemy to withstand greater falls than this. My last fall began at five thousand feet. This one is cake.

I land, roll to my feet, and sprint around the tower, then down the runway toward the concrete barrier and the fence topped in razor wire. The wind screams in my ears. I am faster now than the fastest animal on Earth. The cheetah is a tortoise compared to me.

The sentries on the perimeter must see me, and the man in the watchtower, too, but no shots are fired, no order is given to take me down. I barrel toward the end of the runway like a bullet singing down the muzzle of a gun.

They can’t catch you. How can they ever catch you?

The processor embedded in my brain made the calculations before I even hit the ground, and has already relayed the information to the thousands of microscopic drones assigned to my muscular system; I don’t have to think about speed or timing or point of attack. The hub does it for me.

End of the runway: I leap. The ball of my foot lands on top of the concrete barrier for an instant, then pushes off to launch me toward the fence. The razor wire rushes toward my face. My fingers slip into the two-inch-wide gap between the coils and the top bar to execute a backward roll over the top. I fly over it feetfirst, back arched, arms outstretched.

I stick the landing and accelerate again to full speed, covering the hundred yards of open ground between the fence and the woods in less than four seconds. No bullets chase me. No chopper revs to life to follow me. The trees close behind me like a curtain being drawn, and my footing is sure on the slick, uneven ground. I reach the river, its water swift and black. My feet seem to barely break the surface as I cross.

On the other side, the woods give way to open tundra, unmarred miles stretching toward the northern horizon, a boundless wilderness in which I’ll be lost, undetected, unmolested.


I run for hours. The 12th System sustains me. It reinforces my joints and bones. It bolsters my muscles, gives me strength, endurance, nullifies my pain. All I have to do is surrender. All I have to do is trust, and I will endure.

VQP. By the light of a hundred bodies burning, Razor carved those three letters into his arm. VQP. He conquers who endures.

Some things, he told me the night before he died, down to the smallest of things, are worth the sum of all things.

Razor understood that I would never leave Teacup to suffer while I escaped. I should have known he was going to save me by betraying me: He’d been doing it from the beginning. He killed Teacup so I could live.

The featureless landscape extends in every direction. The sun falls toward the edge of the cloudless sky. In the bitter wind biting my face, my tears freeze as they fall. The 12th System can protect you from the pain that afflicts your body, but it’s helpless against the pain that crushes your soul.

Hours later, I’m still running as the last light leeches from the sky and the first stars appear. And there is the mothership hovering on the horizon, like a lidless green eye staring down. No running from it. No hiding. It is unreachable, unassailable. Long after the last human being crumbles to a handful of dust, it will be there, implacable, impenetrable, unknowable: God has been dethroned.

And I run on. Through a primordial landscape unscarred by any human thing, the world as it was before trust and cooperation unleashed the beast of progress. The world is circling back now to what it was before we knew it. Paradise lost. Paradise returned. I remember Vosch’s smile, sad and bitter. A savior. Is that what I am?

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