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A Mutiny in Time, Page 1

James Dashner




  Welcome to Infinity Ring, a daring adventure through time!

  It all starts here. A Mutiny in Time is your introduction to a world in which history is broken . . . and to the three young people who must risk their lives to set things right.

  At the end of this book, you’ll find your very own Hystorian’s Guide. The Guide has been created to help time travelers avoid the dangers that await them in the past.

  And you’re going to need all of the Guide’s tips, hints, and codes when you experience history for yourself in the action-packed Infinity Ring game. In the first episode of the game, you can explore the streets of Paris in the year 1792 . . . and it will be up to you to figure out how to put history back on track.

  Fix the past. Save the future.

  infinityring.com

  Introduction

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Prologue

  1

  The Only Hope

  2

  Old Man in a Coffin

  3

  Halls of Boring Wonder

  4

  Cracks and Snaps

  5

  False Memory

  6

  An Iron Door

  7

  Hitting the SQuares

  8

  The Missing Piece

  9

  The Breathless Wait

  10

  The Infinity Ring

  11

  Black Hoods and Black Cars

  12

  The Hystorians

  13

  A Dangerous Turn

  14

  Lady in Red

  15

  A Hastening of Plans

  16

  Far, Far Away

  17

  Finger Tapping

  18

  Bye-bye, Pyramid

  19

  Clothes and a Poem

  20

  One-sided Conversation

  21

  A Pile of Boxes

  22

  A Sharp Pair of Scissors

  23

  Behind the Bandana

  24

  Up the Gangplank

  25

  Scrub Scrub

  26

  Listening Ears

  27

  Riffraff

  28

  Awake in the Night

  29

  The Brig

  30

  Bread and Water

  31

  Window to the Soul

  32

  Stairway to Battle

  33

  Mutiny on the Santa María

  34

  Breathless

  35

  Changes

  36

  Time Out

  The King of Diamonds Hystorian’s Guide

  Sneak Peek

  About the Author

  Copyright

  DAK SMYTH sat on his favorite branch of his favorite tree, right next to his favorite friend, Sera Froste. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, he thought.

  Beyond the safety of the tree, there was plenty to worry about. The world was falling apart and the people in charge of things didn’t seem to care. But Dak decided not to let little stuff like that bother him now.

  Sera apparently agreed. “Feels good up here,” she said. “Doesn’t it?”

  “Yeah, it sure does. Makes me kinda sad I wasn’t born a monkey. Then I could live in one of these things.”

  Sera laughed. “You’ve got the personality of a monkey. And the smell. That’s two-thirds of the way there, at least.”

  “Thanks,” Dak said, as if she’d just paid him a tremendous compliment.

  A soft breeze made the branches sway back and forth, just enough to soothe Dak into a partial trance. He and Sera climbed up the tree every so often when there was nothing else to do. It gave them a chance to talk, away from any distractions — distractions like adults, who complained constantly about taxes and crime rates and, in whispers, about the SQ. With all the mental static, it was a wonder Dak and Sera managed to get any thinking done. Fortunately, they were both geniuses . . . although in very different ways.

  “You excited for the field trip this week?” Sera asked.

  Dak looked over at her, slightly suspicious. Their class was going to a museum, full of history — which he loved — and not a whole lot of science — which was her passion. But the question seemed genuine.

  “Remember my last birthday?” he asked in return. “When I got that replica of Thomas Jefferson’s ascot?”

  “How could I forget? You came screaming down the street like a girl who’d just found a bucket full of candy.”

  Dak nodded, relishing the memory. “Well, I’m even more excited about this trip.”

  “Gotcha. That’s pretty excited.”

  They sat in silence for a while, Dak enjoying the breeze and the sounds of nature and the break from the rest of life. Gradually, though, he realized that Sera seemed far less relaxed. There was an unmistakable tension in her shoulders that had nothing to do with tree climbing. He followed her gaze across the yard to his front porch, where his parents had recently put up a new flag. The small flagpole affixed to the side of the house was usually used for seasonal displays — holiday flags in the winter, the forty-eight-starred U.S. flag in the long summer months.

  Now, for the first time, Dak’s parents had put up a stark white flag with a black symbol in its center. That symbol was a circle broken by a curve and a thunderbolt — the insignia of the SQ.

  “Don’t tell me your parents buy into all that,” Sera said, her voice solemn.

  “I don’t think so. They said it’s easier this way. They’re less likely to be bothered if they just put up the flag.”

  “The SQ — they make me sick,” Sera said. Dak had never heard such fierceness in her voice. “Someone has got to stand up to them eventually. Or someday it’s going to be too late.”

  Dak listened to her as he stared out into the woods beyond his house. All that green, all those animals. There were parts of the world where these kinds of places had disappeared entirely. He’d read enough history to know that where the SQ went, trouble followed. He suddenly felt his own little burst of determination.

  “Maybe it’ll be us who stand up,” he said. “You never know.”

  “Yeah?” she answered absently.

  “There’s an old saying,” Dak told her. “The times, they are a-changin’.”

  “Ooh, I like that.”

  “Maybe that’ll be our motto. Maybe we’ll change the times someday. Every problem has a solution, right? And our big brains have got to be good for something. What do you say?”

  She looked over at him and stuck out her hand. He shook it hard.

  Somewhere nearby, a bird chirped excitedly.

  BRINT TAKASHI stared at the monitor and tried to remember a time when he didn’t know the world was about to end.

  Mari Rivera, his second-in-command, sat next to him, and the way she was slowly shaking her head back and forth, she seemed to be the second most depressed person on the planet. Brint was the first.

  “Well?” Mari asked. “What do you think?”

  “What do I think? I think we have a global catastrophe on our hands,” Brint replied. “Volcanic eruptions all along the Pacific Rim. Blizzards in parts of South America that have never even seen snow before. If we’re lucky, the tropical storm brewing in the Atlantic might put out the wildfires in the Northeast.”

  “Look on the bright side,” Mari said, her voice grim. “At least people believe we’re in trouble now.�
��

  “People still believe what the SQ tells them to believe. Because fear is always more powerful than truth.” He ran his fingers through his dark hair and sighed. “Aristotle would be so proud. Look what the Hystorians have been reduced to! The SQ is going to win — even if it means destroying the world.”

  It wasn’t just the natural disasters that had him worried. Or the blackouts. Or the food shortages. There were also the Remnants. Every day when Brint went home and looked at the picture that hung above the fireplace — he and his wife sitting by a river, the sun glinting off the water behind them — he felt a disorienting twist in his head and stomach. A gnawing gap in his mind that made him extremely uncomfortable. Someone — at least one someone — was missing from that photo. It made no sense whatsoever, but he knew in his bones that someone was missing.

  He wasn’t alone in suffering these types of sensations. More people experienced Remnants with each passing day. They’d strike when you least expected them. And they could drive you crazy. Literally crazy.

  Time had gone wrong — this is what the Hystorians believed. And if things were beyond fixing now, there was only one hope left . . . to go back in time and fix the past instead.

  Mari did what she always did when he was inclined to whine. She ignored him and moved on to the task at hand. “What’s the latest on the Smyths?” she asked. Of all the scientists the Hystorians tracked, they were the only ones who hadn’t been shut down by the SQ . . . yet.

  Brint pulled up their file and pointed out the latest developments. All of the Smyths’ experiments, findings, data — every little thing they did in their lab each and every day — it was all being monitored by the Hystorians. Without the Smyths’ knowledge, of course. Brint would be sure to apologize for that after they saved the world.

  They both fell silent for a minute, staring at the data on the screen as if hypnotized. The Smyths were so close. If only they could figure out the missing piece in their calculations. If only they could give the Hystorians a fighting chance at carrying out Aristotle’s two-thousand-year-old plan to save the world.

  “It’s coming, you know,” Mari whispered. “Sooner than I ever thought.”

  Brint nodded as dread squeezed his heart. “I never would’ve guessed it would be in our lifetime.”

  Mari continued, her words like a prophecy of doom from a wrinkled old oracle.

  “It’s coming, all right. The Cataclysm is coming, and we’ll all wish we were dead long before it kills us.”

  DAK SMYTH was a nerd.

  He’d been called worse, no doubt. Dork, geek, wimp, brainiac, pencil-pusher, dweeb, you name it. But the word that most often floated out of people’s mouths when they mentioned him was nerd. And did he mind? No. When all those dummies who poked fun were working their tails off in thirty years, living paycheck to paycheck to buy doughnuts and milk, he’d be laughing it up in his private jet, drinking cream soda till he puked. Then he’d laugh again as his butler cleaned it up, and when that was done, he’d count all his money and eat big blocks of cheese.

  (Dak Smyth was a nerd who also loved cheese. Unnaturally so. Not a winning combination, which he was the first to admit.)

  On the day before the big school field trip to the Smithsonian Museum in the nation’s capital of Philadelphia, Dak had to put aside his nerd-powered excitement to attend the most boring of events — an uncle’s funeral. Make that great-uncle, as in Great-Uncle Frankie, a man he’d laid eyes on all of twice if you included the viewing before the funeral, which Dak certainly did. He’d looked down on an old, grizzled man who had his eyes closed, hands crossed over his chest, looking like he’d just settled down for one of the twenty naps a day the geezer was probably used to. But, according to Dak’s mom — and supported by the fact that the man was lying inside a coffin — Great-Uncle Frankie was dead as a doornail.

  The funeral service had been slightly boring and lasted roughly one hundred and thirty hours, but now they were finally at the family dinner that came afterward. Dozens of people who’d been boo-hooing their eyeballs out an hour earlier were laughing like overcaffeinated hyenas, stuffing their faces with a whole week’s worth of SQ-rationed food. Dak wondered whether funerals for old people always ended up being such festive affairs.

  He sat at a table with a bunch of cousins, none of whom he’d ever met. They were talking about all kinds of things that he didn’t care about. Like that lame show where they crown the next SQ intern. Or game five of some sports championship that was so dull Dak didn’t even know which teams were playing (or what sport it was). Then some kid with a pimple the size of President McClellan’s face on Mount Rushmore started talking excitedly about the latest fashion trends, namely those jeans with the pockets that made your rear end look like it was upside down. Seriously? Dak thought. These people couldn’t possibly share the same genetics with him, could they?

  Just as he decided he couldn’t take any more, a sudden feeling came over him — a familiar itch that he’d learned long ago was impossible to ignore.

  He had to share his tremendous knowledge of history, and he had to do it now.

  Dak stood up and cleared his throat. When no one paid him any attention, he picked up his glass and tapped it loudly with his spoon until everyone in the room finally shut their yappers and looked at him.

  “I just have something I’d like to say to everybody,” he announced. He heard a few groans in response, but he assumed those were the old fogies, feeling aches and pains as they shifted in their seats. A quick glance at his mom showed that she’d put her head in her hands, and his dad was looking at him wide-eyed, slowly shaking his head back and forth. There was something like panic on his face.

  Dak hurried to continue before somebody forced him to stop. “I know we’re gathered here for a very solemn occasion. Poor Great-Uncle Frankie has gone the way of the dodo bird, soon to rot in peace. Um, I mean, rest in peace. But, um, I wanted to share something to help you all realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem.”

  He paused to gauge people’s reactions. They all seemed enraptured.

  “You see,” he continued, “our dear relative could’ve gone out the same way as Rasputin, the grand Russian mystic, in the year 1916. That poor man was poisoned, shot four times, clubbed over the head, then drowned in a river. Drowned in a river, for crying out loud! After being poisoned, shot, and clubbed! Poor fella.” Dak let out a little chuckle to set the right mood. “So, as you can clearly see, Great-Uncle Frankie got off pretty easy when all is said and done.”

  Dak finished by pulling in a long, satisfied breath. He looked around the room and saw nothing but blank faces staring back at him. Lots of blinking.

  “Thanks for listening,” he finally said. Then he held up his water glass and yelled, “Cheers!”

  His mom fell out of her chair.

  The next day brought the field trip he’d been looking forward to for months. For someone who loved history as much as Dak did, going to the Smithsonian was better than getting locked in a candy factory overnight. He planned to gorge himself on information.

  On the bus ride there, he sat by his best friend in the whole wide world. Her name was Sera Froste, and so far no one had given them any flack about being such good friends. Well, except for the occasional “when’re you gonna get married” jokes. And the “Dak and Sera, sittin’ in a tree” songs.

  Okay, so they’d received plenty of flack.

  “What exhibits are we going to see before lunch?” Dak asked her after he’d gone over the museum’s floor plan with fluorescent highlighters. “And which ones after?”

  Sera looked up from the electronic book that she was reading on her SQuare tablet, fixing him with the sort of stare she usually reserved for a bug in a jar. Her long dark hair made her expression look even more severe, as if it were on display in a picture frame. “Would you relax? Let’s just play it by
ear, roam around. I don’t know, actually enjoy ourselves.”

  Dak’s mouth dropped open. “Are you insane?” And he really meant it — she obviously didn’t comprehend the opportunity they were about to be given. “We need to plan this to the second — I’m not taking any chance of missing something cool.”

  “Oh, for the love of mincemeat,” was her only response before she returned her attention to String Theory and Other Quantum Leaps in Quantum Physics.

  Sera was a nerd in her own right, almost nerdy enough in stature to compete with Dak himself. Oh, who am I kidding? Dak thought. She had him beat by a mile.

  This was the girl who had recently convinced him to attend a Saturday afternoon thesis reading at the local university — “convinced” him by threatening to scream out in the middle of lunch that she was in love with him if he said no. Dak had fiercely protested because he’d wanted to see the guy at the state fair who swore he was so old that he’d been Mussolini’s foot doctor during World War Two. (The man evidently had toenail clippings to prove it.) But Sera swore that it’d be more exciting to hear a three-hour presentation called “The Effect of Tachyon Generation on Ambient Wellsian Radiation.”

  It wasn’t.

  Sera had finally agreed to leave the presentation early, but only because the speaker kept using the words baryon and meson interchangeably when, according to Sera, everyone knows that’s not proper.

  Suddenly Dak had an idea. He ran his fingers through his sandy blond hair and stared intently at his color-coded floor plan. “I guess we can skip the Hope Diamond exhibit if we’re short on time. It’s supposed to be cursed, which is cool. I’m not sure what it means by ‘an exploration of the biogeochemical processes that give minerals their unique properties,’ though. It sounds like a total snooze fest if you ask me.”

  “Who asked you?” said Sera, putting her SQuare down. “Let me see that map.”

  By the time Dak and Sera marched off the bus, Dak’s heart was giddy with excitement.