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The Kill Order is a young-adult dystopian science-fiction novel and the fourth book in The Maze Runner series written by James Dashner. It is the first prequel in series, telling the events before The Maze Runner and The Fever Code. It is followed by The Fever Code. It was published on August 14, 2012.
Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, Sun Flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease. Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees. Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.
The prologue begins with Teresa watching Thomas receive the Swipe that erases his past memories. As Thomas is placed on a gurney and taken to the basement level of WICKED's headquarters, Teresa follows with a heavy heart. Thomas is placed into The Box. Teresa turns and walks away as Thomas ascends to the Glade.
Thirteen years earlier, Mark wakes up in the hut he shares with Alec, an old soldier who he has spent the last year surviving with. Mark leaves the hut and finds Trina reading a book up on a mountain. Mark and Trina were friends before the Sun Flares had decimated the Earth a year before. They had lived in New York City, went to the same school, and were riding home on the same subtrans when the Sun Flares struck. Now they both lived in a makeshift village in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina.
Mark and Trina visit the Central Shack, where they meet up with Lana, Darnell, the Toad, and Misty. They hear the sound of engines coming from outside. A Berg hovers over the Town Square as its large, square hatch opens to reveal five people in green suits holding black tubes in their hands. The Green Suits shoot darts at the villagers. Darnell is hit in the shoulder. Mark and his friends carry Darnell off towards the Central Shack.
Alec is at the Shack and waves Mark over. He has two grappling-hook guns and hands one to Mark, along with a black pistol. Mark shoots his pistol at the Green Suits while Alec shoots his grappling-hook gun into the Berg's hatch. Once Alec is safely on board, Mark shoots his own grappling-hook gun into the Berg's hatch. Once inside the Berg, Mark and Alec search the room for anything that will help break the locked door open. Mark finds a sledgehammer and hands it to Alec, who uses it to beat at the door. Meanwhile, Mark finds a hard-cased box with a biohazard symbol. Inside are 24 darts holding The Flare virus.
Once Alec gets the door open, he and Mark chase a man wearing a green suit into the Berg's cockpit. The female pilot appears to be possessed as she drives the Berg into the ground. Mark is hit in the head by debris and blacks out.
Mark dreams about being back in New York City. He and Trina are taking a subtrans home from school when the power shuts off. They get off the subtrans and find burnt corpses and screaming people on fire in the substation.
When Mark wakes up, he and Alec go back into the destroyed Berg and find a workpad. Using the GPS, they figure the enemy has a bunker between 50 to 60 miles away. Before they get revenge on their enemies, they decide to head back to their settlement. By late afternoon on the third day after the attack, they reach the settlement.
At the settlement, Mark and Alec find that the Leaner is filled with dead bodies. Trina leads them to Darnell, who is being kept in a small shack. Darnell keeps saying, "My head, my head, my head." Then he screams and bashes his head repeatedly against the wall until he dies.
Mark and his friends discuss how the length of time it takes for the virus to take effect varies from person to person. Then they head over to the Shack so they can pack their belongings for a journey to the enemy's headquarters. As they're packing, Misty says her head hurts, and that it feels like bugs are eating at her brain. The Toad decides to stay with her as the others leave the settlement.
As they spend the night a few miles from the village, Mark has another dream. Someone is chasing him and Trina in the subtrans system. They go into an old storage closet and discover three men, who make threats against Mark and Trina. The stranger comes in and beats up the three men. The stranger turns out to be Alec.
Mark wakes up and the group continues their journey. The Toad joins them the next night, but he as the Flare. He had held Misty until he caught the Flare, then put Misty out of her misery. Alec drags the Toad out into the forest and kills him out of mercy.
The next day, the group comes across another settlement with dead bodies. A little girl named Deedee appears and says the survivors from her settlement all ran into the woods. The girl says her parents were shot with the virus darts and died, while her brother Ricky went into the forest with the other survivors. Deedee reveals that she had been hit by a dart but didn't catch the Flare. The group decides to bring Deedee along, and Alec announces that they only have one full day of hiking left before they reach the enemy's headquarters.
In another dream, Mark and Trina follow Alec to where Lana, Darnell, the Toad, Misty, and a boy named Baxter are waiting for him. Alec explains that the Sun Flares have melted the polar ice caps, which will cause a tsunami to hit New York City. Their goal is to reach the Lincoln Building before the tsunami hits and drowns them. As they enter the newer subtrans section, they end up in a fight with some punks until a monstrous wave of filthy water enters the substrans section.
Mark wakes up and the group continues their journey. When Alec checks his workpad to see where they are, he determines they're five miles away from the enemy's headquarters and a few miles away from Asheville. Then they hear singing in the woods, and Deedee says the people singing are the survivors who lived in her village. Mark and Alec go to check things out and find people dancing around a bonfire while others stand and sing. A man and woman invite them to join, but Alec declines. Then the woman has them restrained and carried to the fire. Mark and Alec are placed in front of the two rows of people chanting, and the woman explains that Deedee brought the evil upon their village. She also calls Mark and Alec demons and has them beat up. Then a man without hair and ears speaks up and stops the beating. This man is named Jed.
Jed explains that his village was attacked two months and three days ago by people in green suits aboard a Berg. As he speaks, new sounds of people are heard in the woods. Jed says those sounds are from the other faction from his village, those who caught the virus. Then Jed screams with pain and dies.
Mark and Alec free themselves from their constraints while the virus-infected faction attacks the camp. Mark and Alec use half-lit logs as weapons. They escape the camp, but find themselves cut off from their friends because the forest is on fire. Mark and Alec run close to the flames as they make their way back to their friends' camp. When they get back, they find that the girls are missing.
Mark and Alec decide to head in the direction of the enemy's headquarters, hoping the girls did the same. Alec finds blood along the path. When they reach the headquarters, the girls are nowhere to be found. That's when a circular trapdoor emerges from the ground, as a Berg is approaching to land on the pad. Mark and Alec go into the trapdoor before the Berg lands and the landing pad closes. Two people get off the Berg and mention Alaska and the Flare. Mark and Alec go down a hallway and find doors open ajar. They find a room full of cots and a sick man named Anton. He tells them that Deedee was given back to the survivors of her village. Anton then tells them about the Post-Flares Coalition in Alaska, and how the Flare is transmitted by blood and can be airborne. The plan was to kill half of the world's population. Anton says that his coworkers plan to revolt by going to Asheville and taking the Flat Trans to the PFC headquarters in Alaska so they can find an antidote for the Flare and take down the makeshift government. Then Anton falls asleep, and Mark and Alec decide to take turns sleeping.
As Mark sleeps, he dreams about the wave that entered the subtrans. The water is boiling hot. The group manages to get on higher ground before they drown. When Mark wakes up, he remembers climbing endless flights of stairs up into the Lincoln Building, where his group stayed for two weeks.
When Alec wakes up, he and Mark go down a flight of stairs and enter a new hallway. They hear voices coming from Anton's coworkers in an auditorium. They go inside and wait. A man named Bruce comes in to start the meeting.
Bruce tells the group that the PFC has turned their backs on them, so they need to demand their rights. They gave the girls to the village survivors so Deedee could be sacrificed. Bruce and his coworkers had done the dirty work of spreading the virus so they could get food in return. Then Bruce asks the crowd to bound and gag Mark & Alec.
Mark and Alec run out of the auditorium and up the stairs. With no exit to be found, they fight Bruce's people before closing and locking the door to the Berg chamber behind them. They enter the Berg and find workpads. Alec goes to work the Berg's controls while Mark fights off the two Berg pilots trying to enter the hatch. As Mark tortures the male pilot, he realizes that he has the Flare.
Mark enters the cockpit and fights off a man who broke through the Berg's glass window. Then Alec parks the Berg in a cul-de-sac east from the bunker. He and Mark eat and sleep.
Mark dreams about being in the Lincoln Building. A yacht floats up to the building and a man and woman with rifles emerge. The man, Boss, shoots and kills Baxter. Then Boss orders Mark and his friends to load the yacht with food and supplies. When they're done, Alec fights Boss and they crash out a window. Mark holds onto Alec and Boss falls to the water below. As Mark and his friends board the yacht, Boss tries to climb back on. Mark kicks him off and they drive off in the yacht. Boss's female partner shoots herself in the head.
Mark wakes up and finds that while he was sleeping, Alec took the Berg on an observation run and spotted the girls a couple of miles away. Then they find a large box full of Transvices and charge a couple of them up. As they go to test out the Transvices, Alec ends up vaporizing a Crank.
Alec flies the Berg to the outskirts of Asheville, where the Cranks are in the street and houses. They land nearby and sneak behind some houses. When they get to the main street, they decide to start searching the homes for the girls. They eventually find Lana being pulled by her feet out from a mansion and onto the sidewalk. The Cranks begin stabbing Lana, so Mark and Alec vaporize them. Alec vaporizes Lana out of mercy.
Mark and Alec fight their way into the mansion Lana was pulled out from and find Trina and Deedee in the basement. Trina, affected by the virus, no longer recognizes Mark. As Cranks break their way into the house, Alec and Mark try to fight them off. There's too many Cranks, and the situation seems dire until Trina shouts for everyone to stop. She convinces the Cranks to let her and her friends leave in peace. The Cranks oblige until the group is halfway down the hallway and chaos ensues again. Mark loses his Transvice, and the group ends up escaping through the dining room window. They run towards the Berg.
As the group sleeps in the Berg, Mark looks at the workpads to see if he can get some information. On the workpad used by Randall Spilker, Mark finds a folder called KILL ORDER. Inside the folder are messages between Spilker and Ladena Lichliter, as well as messages from Chancellor John Michael concerning the Population Control Committee, and a message from Katie McVoy, who gave Chancellor Michael the idea to use the Flare virus as a way to save the human race from extinction by killing most of the population and leaving the rest of the resources to the survivors.
Mark decides they must go to Asheville in the hopes of being cured. Then he dreams about being in a cave with Trina, three months after the sun flares struck. Mark wakes up and finds Alec, who is really sick. They decide they need to get Deedee to Asheville before they turn crazy. As Alec gets the Berg running, Mark checks on the girls. He finds them huddled together and scared because the "boogieman" and his friends are in the ceiling. Mark runs back to the cockpit and grabs Alec's Transvice. When he returns to the barracks, three Cranks fall through the ceiling. Mark vaporizes them all. As he takes the girls to the cockpit, another Crank attacks from the ceiling and takes the Transvice before fleeing to another part of the ship.
Mark brings the girls to the cockpit. Deedee is scared from the Berg's movements and runs off to the cargo room, where she runs into the Crank with the Transvice. The Crank had lived in Deedee's village and wants to send Deedee back to the demons. Mark snaps and charges the Crank, knocking away the Transvice and dragging the Crank to the cockpit. Mark tries to throw the Crank out of the Berg's broken window when Alec loses control of the Berg, causing Mark and the Crank to fall out the window. The Crank clings to Mark as they descend toward the Berg's thruster. Mark knocks the Crank into the thruster and watches as the Crank's head and shoulders disintegrate while the rest of his body falls to earth. Mark climbs back up to the cockpit.
Mark tells Alec that they need to find the Flat Trans in Asheville. When they reach Asheville, they see Bruce holding a stick with a red flag leading his coworkers and other survivors over the city walls. Alec drops Mark, Trina, and Deedee off near the PFC building, where they enter and see two people enter the Flat Trans. Mark hands Deedee a letter he had written, telling the PFC to use her because she's immune to the Flare. After Deedee says her goodbyes, she walks through the Flat Trans. As Bruce and his army arrive at the door of the building, Trina and Mark hug and kiss. As Alec crashes the Berg into the building, Trina whispers Mark's name.
Two years later, two men and a woman dressed in black suits and protective masks take a boy from his willing mother. One of the men notices the light bulb in the boy's apartment and gets the idea to name the boy after Thomas Edison.
Media and covers
- The Kill Order is set in the year 2219