After leaving Shauna, I went down to medical to check on Maya. I reached level three and headed down the hallway. I saw Monty's head through the window and made a beeline for it. A nurse intercepted me. "Excuse me, you aren't allowed to go in there."
"I beg to differ, my friends are inside." I pushed past the nurse and into the room. Monty turned to look at me and instantly reached out to grab me. My eyes found Maya first; she was lying in a bed, looking awful. I followed the tubes that flowed from her straight into Jasper. "What the hell is going on here?" I looked between Monty and the doctor that was standing next to Jasper. "What are you doing to him?"
"We're using his body to filter the radiation out of Maya's blood. It's an experimental procedure, but it's going well," she told me calmly.
"Experimental? As in you don't know if this will work? Do you know if this has side effects for him? Is he going to be okay?" I shook Monty off and crossed the room to Jasper. "Why didn't anyone consult me on this?"
"He volunteered, Maia," Monty told me. "I tried to stop him, but he wanted to save her."
"He might die."
"There's a very low possibility of that," the doctor said. "I'm Dr. Tsing. It's nice to finally meet you. I know a lot about you, thanks to the information you provided upon your release from quarantine. You're a very interesting young lady, Miss Farrin."
"Are you sure he's going to be alright?" I asked ignoring her. I touched Jasper's arm and rubbed circles with my thumb absent-mindedly. "He looks so pale."
"It may take a few days for him to reach 100%, but his body will be able to process the radiation from Maya's blood very quickly."
"Is she going to be okay?" I asked then, looking at Maya.
"I believe that she will make a full recovery at the very least, she may even be better for it."
I nodded, and then looked at Monty. "Can I talk to you for a moment, alone?" He nodded and we stepped outside. "I'm going to kill him."
"That relies on him surviving this."
"Oh god." I shook my head. "I came to tell you that Shauna should be ready to go by morning. But…"
"I can't leave Jasper like this."
"I wouldn't want to make you." I shook my head. "Did you hear what she said, that Maya would be better for it?"
He nodded. "What do you think she meant?"
"I don't know. But if they use us this time to save someone from radiation poisoning, you know they'll want to use us again. Maybe this is what Dante has been planning the whole time."
"That's jumping a little far ahead, don't you think? Dr. Tsing said this was something they've never tried before."
"Yet she was able to throw the whole thing together in an hour? They've clearly been thinking about it, or at least she has. It doesn't take long for something like this to spread. We're not safe here."
"So, what do we do about it?"
I shook my head. "I guess I talk to Shauna again."
Shauna wasn't in the dormitory after dinner; I didn't see her again until the following morning when she climbed up to my bunk. I jolted awake. "Sorry! Didn't mean to scare you!"
I sat up slowly and yawned. "No, it's fine." I looked around, remembering the cameras. "Let's uh, talk over there."
We moved to her bunk, out of the view of the camera, and she pulled out my tablet. "Ready for me to explain how this works, Robin Hood?"
"Actually, there's been a change of plans. No one is going after Clarke."
She stared at me. "Okay, but…"
"I'm going to need your help with something else."
She sighed. "I knew that was coming. At least let me show you this, I'm proud of it." I nodded. "Alright, so here's the deal," Shauna said handing me my tablet. "If you click here." She leaned over and tapped the bulletin then scrolled down to a hidden link. "I had to embed this in the page, but no one will notice it. Even if they do have some sudden interest in the bulletin's weekly art posts, it will simply redirect them to a blank page. But on our tablets it'll pull up this." The screen went black and a flashing line appeared.
She tapped away on her tablet and a messaged appeared on mine. "See, safe and secure."
"If we're not going to use it, maybe you should take this down," I told her. "Just to make sure they won't find it."
"Maybe we could still use it, in case we needed to pass messages between us here," she suggested.
I thought about it, it wasn't a bad idea. "You're positive no one will be able to trace this back to you?" I asked.
"It's near impossible to find and heavily encrypted, any messages here will never be seen by their eyes."
Her avoidance of the question didn't escape my notice, but I let it go. "How about the Ark, have you seen anything from them?"
She shook her head. "I think Mount Weather is blocking their communications, so the lines are dead. But that doesn't mean they aren't trying to send out signals. I'll find something."
"Good, that's what I need. I need solid proof the Ark is out there and, if you can, a way to talk to them."
She nodded. "I'll work on that. I've been doing some digging in the Mount Weather archives too, so far there's nothing of note, but if I find something interesting I'll send it to you."
"Shauna, you are a life saver. Honestly, you could be saving the lives of every one of us in here."
"Make sure they talk about me in one of you fancy history books, librarian."
"You mean one of those fancy history books no one ever reads?" I joked.
"That's the one."
The door to the infirmary opened and Monty walked out followed by Jasper. "Thank god you're okay!" I said, throwing my arms around him and squeezing. He made an uncomfortable noise and I let go. "Sorry, are you still weak?"
He laughed a little. "Yeah, you could say that."
"But Dr. Tsing is positive you're going to be alright?" I pressed.
"She assured me I'll be as good as new within a few days," he told me. "Don't worry about me, Maia."
"Monty told me you weren't going to find the Ark, that's stupid, you should have left when you had the chance."
"I couldn't just leave you, not in this condition," I argued. As we walked down the hall citizens of Mount Weather handed Jasper cards and small gifts, so many that soon all three of us were loaded down with his thank yous.
"Maia, I'm fine, look at me."
"Have you looked at you?" Monty asked. "You kinda look like shit."
"See?" I pointed at Monty. "I have reason to be concerned. When your best friend tells you that you look like shit, you know it's bad."
As we turned the corner we came face to face with President Wallace. Dante clasped Jasper's shoulder. "Mr. Jordan, how good it is to see you back on your feet. I hoped to get to you before you were discharged, but I can see you had quite the reception. Everyone appreciates your courage."
Jasper shrugged. "I was just doing the right thing."
Dante looked between the three of us. "May I walk with you for a moment?" We all nodded a bit reluctantly. "Now, after this unfortunate experience, I'm sure you can see Mount Weather is not entirely safe. Over the years trace amounts of radiation have seeped in, sometimes that results in incidents such as Maya's."
"Sounds like you need some upgrades," Monty mumbled.
"Ideally we would do that, however we lack the resources inside this facility," Dante explained. "We have developed a treatment for radiation poisoning, but it only works in minor cases. Our current treatment pales in comparison to the result Dr. Tsing had with your blood."
"I don't think I could do that for everyone," Jasper said uncomfortably.
"Of course not! I would never ask that of you. But, if you could inspire your friends to volunteer…think of the lives you could save." He looked at me. "Maia, I'm sure you understand the gravity of this situation." For a moment I thought I saw a hint of a desperate man, he looked like he was pleading with me.
"I, um, we'll talk about it," Jasper said, speaking so I didn't have to.
"Shauna?" I typed into my tablet. Across the room I saw her head snap up and look toward me, she grinned.
"This is so freaking cool," she typed back. "What's up?"
"Dante wants us all to help MW deal with their radiation problem."
"What?" There was a pause, then, "No." Followed by, "Jasper looks like he's dying."
"He's asking nicely," I told her. "For now."
"What happens when he stops asking nicely?"
I leaned my head back against the wall. "We've got to stall."
"Um, hey, guys," Jasper said, from the front of the room. Shauna looked up from her tablet, midsentence. Jasper cleared his throat and several more people looked in his direction. "So, you all know that I helped Maya out." He looked at me. "I mean, not our Maia, you know…" He ran his hand through his hair. "Anyway, she's going to be okay, because of me. We can help these people."
"We?" Miller repeated.
"Yeah, they need treatments to deal with radiation, it wouldn't be too often. But…"
"Dude you puked for three days."
"Regular treatments wouldn't be as bad," Jasper insisted.
"So they say," Monty mumbled.
"Think about what they've done for us. They saved us from the grounders, they saved our lives."
"Not all of us," I said, without thinking.
Jasper glanced at me. "They did what they could. This is the least we can do for them." He looked around. "Come on, someone, anyone?" Kids began to shake their heads, some even turned away.
"I'm out," Miller said.
Harper who had sat up on her bed, next to mine, nodded. "Me too."
Jasper held up a piece of paper. "Okay, we have time to think it over. I have a sign up sheet."
Shauna's head had gone back down to her tablet. Soon a message popped up on mine. "Is this stalling?"
"No," I typed back. To Jasper I hissed, "What do you think you're doing?"
"What President Wallace asked me to do, he's not forcing anyone to volunteer. The least I can do is ask, right?"
"Jasper, he was practically threatening us. We volunteer ourselves or they volunteer for us. We're like rats, we can either go through the maze willingly, or we can get shocked. There's no escaping."
"Come on, Maia, you can't really think that."
"Don't, come on Maia, me, Jasper. You're the one who needs a reality check, but you're too damn caught up in your girlfriend." The door opened and Maya walked in. "Speak of the devil."
"Hi guys," Maya said happily, too happily. We all looked at her, looks of annoyance still plastered on our faces. Her smile faltered, then she pointed at her notebook, which she was holding up. "ACT NATURAL, THEY'RE LISTENING." Was written in block letters. She looked at Jasper, "I'm so glad you're feeling better!" I nodded knowingly, in reference to her note, hoping the others also took into account the camera that she had her back to.
"Thanks, I am," Jasper said, looking confused. Maya flipped the page. "THE CONTAINMENT BREACH WASN'T AN ACCIDENT. FOLLOW ME!" I glanced over my shoulder at Shauna; she was pretending not to watch.
"Hey, it's pizza day, who's hungry?" Maya asked.
"I love pizza," Monty said virtually monotone, I admired his attempt. My mind was racing too quickly to process sentences. We followed her down the hall towards the dining room, but then she suddenly took a turn and led us down another hallway to a storage closet.
She closed the door behind us. "We don't have much time but we can talk freely here."
"What's going on?" Jasper asked. "What do you mean the breach wasn't an accident?" Maya's face scrunched up and I could tell she was trying not to cry.
"She means they exposed her to radiation on purpose," Monty said. Maya nodded, but didn't say anything. "Clarke was right."
"Shut up, Monty," Jasper said. "Maya, did you know about this?" She shook her head fiercely. "Why would they do that to you?"
"To use you," I told Jasper. "They knew you'd volunteer to treat her."
"She's right. Our standard treatment sucks compared to you, but they wanted to test that theory."
"Everyone talks about the treatment, but no one says what it is," Monty said.
Maya pointed towards the back of the room. "Over there." The four of walked towards the back of the room. She motioned to the fan; I bent to look through the slats. When I saw what was on the other side, I gasped.
"Those are grounders," I realized. There were dozens of them, in cages, packing the room. "This is how Dr. Tsing knew how to filter your blood. The only difference is the body it's going through."
"Everyone knows, but no one talks about it. Without the treatments we'd die," Maya told me. "What are we supposed to do?"
"Die," Monty mumbled. He turned around to face her.
"You cheated natural selection, you shouldn't even be alive right now," I added.
"We've got to get out of here," Monty said. "Dante said we could leave right."
"He was lying," I said. "If I'd taken that offer, he most likely would have had me killed. But he knew I wouldn't, he knew I wouldn't leave my people."
"Then we get out the way Clarke did."
"Security around the mountain has been increased, you'd never make it," Maya told us.
"We're not leaving," I told them. "Not if it means our friends get put in those cages. Either we get everyone out, or we die trying. I'm not shutting the door on them. There's always another way."
"And that is?" Jasper asked.
"We do exactly what Dante wants, we volunteer."
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