The Seventh Element Read online

  Dash glanced at the group. The members of the Alpha team were showing the Omegas some of the cooler things the MTB could do. He’d have to stop thinking of them as Alphas and Omegas now that they were one team. They needed a new name.

  No one noticed Dash and Chris slip out of the room. Rocket followed at their heels as they headed toward Chris’s quarters.

  “Did you tell the newcomers yet about your age?” Chris asked.

  Dash shook his head. “I’ll tell them in a few days, I promise. Everything is new for them now, I don’t want them to worry that the leader Shawn chose might not be able to lead them after all. Anna knows, though. She figured it out.”

  Chris nodded. “Not much gets by her. She was a powerful opponent, and now you will need her to be a powerful partner.”

  “I know.”

  Chris opened his door, and before Dash could react, an arm reached out, grabbed Chris by the shirt collar, yanked him inside, and shut the door.

  Dash stared at the door in shock. What just happened? He tried to push on the handle, but it didn’t budge. Rocket pawed and scratched on the door. He began to whine and then bark, which he almost never did. Chris would never leave Rocket locked outside like this if he was able to open it…which could only mean one thing!

  Dash lifted his arm to alert the others that Chris was in danger. It turned out he didn’t need to. They were all running down the hall toward him.

  “What’s wrong?” Carly asked, reaching him first. “We heard Rocket barking.”

  If the situation wasn’t so dire, Dash might have laughed. Who needed high-tech arm bands when they had a dog? But the situation was dire, so he said, “Colin grabbed Chris and pulled him inside his room! I can’t get in!”

  Anna tried the door, putting all her strength into it.

  “It’s no use,” Gabriel explained. “The only person who can get in or out of this door is Chris.”

  Dash cleared his throat. “No. There is another way in. I’ve been there.”

  The others looked at him in surprise.

  Dash leaned against the wall for support as he collected his thoughts. Chris had told him not to tell anyone about his tiny ship, which actually powered the entire Cloud Leopard. And also happened to be falling apart. But surely Chris had never expected to be trapped in his own room with his evil clone.

  Dash made his decision. “Piper, I’m going to need you to wait here and guard the entrance with Rocket, okay?”

  Piper hesitated a second, then nodded. If he picked her specifically, he must have a reason. That was good enough for her.

  “Follow me,” Dash said to the others, and he ran into the medical bay across the hall. He swiped his finger along the computer screen on the wall beside the portal and set his destination. “We need to get up to the relaxation room. I’ll explain there.” He jumped in. One by one, the others followed until they were all standing beside him again.

  “Aren’t we just farther away now?” Anna asked, looking around. “Why’d you bring us up here?”

  “Spill,” Gabriel said, crossing his arms.

  “I was goofing around in the tubes before we left for Tundra,” Dash explained as his fingers flew across the navigation screen next to a tube entrance, “and I figured out a new route from here. It dumped me out in a hallway that led to a door I’d never seen before.” Dash realized he didn’t have to tell them about the tiny ship inside yet. They’d see it for themselves.

  “Colin may look like Chris,” Anna warned, “but trust me, from what we’ve seen here so far, they couldn’t be more different. We should move fast.”

  “I’m trying,” he said. Had he turned left after the library, or right?

  Gabriel stepped up beside him. “If you took this route before, all you need to do is call up your old log entry.”

  Relieved, Dash did as he suggested. There it was, the longest one so far.

  “Hey, when did that happen? You’re in the lead!” Carly said, looking it over. “And you didn’t even brag about it?”

  “I would have gotten around to it eventually,” Dash replied. “Okay, let’s go. No one try to go inside the room until we all get there.”

  Everyone nodded. Dash stepped aside. One by one, they threw themselves into the portal, pressing the saved route each time before jumping. The Omegas couldn’t help but squeal with surprise as the twists and turns kept coming. “Wow,” Ravi said when he landed at the other end on the cool white floor. “If we’d had sweet rides like that on the Light Blade, I might have spent all day in those tubes!”

  “Sometimes we do,” Carly admitted, landing beside him.

  “Everyone good?” Dash asked, the last to arrive. The Omegas nodded, catching their breath. Gabriel and Carly turned in circles, both shocked to have arrived somewhere new on their own ship.

  Dash led them toward the near-invisible door in the wall and pointed at the metal strip on the wall that acted as a handle. Gabriel reached for it, but Anna yanked his hand back. “Wait! We need a plan.”

  “We need to get in there,” Gabriel insisted.

  “Anna’s right,” Dash said. “We’ve learned not to go into battle unprepared.”

  Gabriel grumbled but lowered his hand.

  “Do you think this is going to be a battle?” Siena asked.

  “I hope not,” Dash said. “I don’t know what Colin’s capable of, though.”

  The Omegas exchanged glances. “I’d give this plan making about twenty seconds,” Niko said. “Then we get in there either way.”

  Dash glanced at Anna. “You know Colin better than anyone, right? What do you think is the best way to handle this with the least risk to Chris?”

  “And us,” Ravi muttered. When they all gave him a look, he held up his hands and said, “What? It’s true, right?”

  “But you don’t say it,” Siena whispered with an eye roll.

  Anna thought for a few seconds. “Colin’s not as good as he thinks he is at hiding his agenda. We all knew he would ditch any one of us if it helped him. He tries to hide that, though, by pretending that we’re all on the same side and that he’s not plotting anything.”

  Dash considered that. “Okay, how about this. We’ll pretend that we’re lost and that we just found this door. Chris will know it’s not true, but hopefully he’ll just go along with it. We’ll pretend everything’s normal. If Colin doesn’t suspect that we’re onto him, maybe he’ll let his guard down. Then we surround him, edging Chris off to the side to keep him safe.”

  “What then?” Gabriel asked.

  Niko ducked low and put his hands up at face level. “Then we come at him from all sides with all the martial arts training we’ve had.”

  The others crouched into various poses—tae kwon do, karate, Krav Maga. With all the giant monster creatures they’d encountered, there hadn’t been much use for simple hand-to-hand combat.

  “I’m all for trying out my Krav Maga moves on the clone,” Ravi said. “But then what? It doesn’t seem like Chris can contain him. He must have broken out of whatever holding bay he was keeping him in.”

  “Maybe he has some kind of on-and-off switch,” Carly said, practicing her high kick.

  “He’s not a robot,” Gabriel said.

  “I know that,” Carly grumbled.

  “Are we gonna do this?” Anna asked, pushing Dash toward the door. “Your plan. You make the first move.”

  Dash took a deep breath. “Here goes.” He pulled on the thin metal strip, and the door swung open, just as it had the first time. He stepped inside. The others kept close behind him. ZRKs were everywhere. They seemed agitated, buzzing and zooming in all directions. Dash hadn’t seen this many in one place for a long time. He scanned the room quickly but didn’t see Chris or Colin. He figured this room must connect to the one Piper was guarding.

  “What is this place?” Carly whispered, taking in the bright lights and high ceiling. Her head spun as she tried to figure out how this huge room could be hidden within the ship. Then her eyes