A Mutiny in Time - James Dashner

James Dashner - Infinity Ring #1 - A Mutiny in Time


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.

1. The Only Hope

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