On Sept. 1, Pittacus Lore’s I Am Number Four series gets nearer to its close, as The Fate of Ten—the series’ second-to-last book—hits shelves everywhere. The Fate of Ten sees the Garde stretched across North America: John is fighting the Mogadorians in New York City, where his human friend Sam has suddenly developed a Legacy; Six, Marina, and Adam are in Mexico where they’ve reached the Sanctuary, but can’t escape. Can they fight this war without destroying each other, and humanity itself?
Check out the electrifying, exclusive trailer above, and read the prologue below:
THE FATE OF TEN by Pittacus Lore
The front door starts shaking. It’s always done that whenever the metal security gate two flights down bangs closed, ever since they moved into the Harlem apartment three years ago. Between the front entrance and the paper-thin walls, they are always aware of the comings and goings of the entire building. They mute the television to listen, a fifteen-year-old girl and a fifty-seven-year-old man, daughter and stepfather who rarely see eye to eye, but who have put their many differences aside to watch the aliens invade. The man has spent much of the afternoon muttering prayers in Spanish, while the girl has watched the news coverage in awed silence. It seems like a movie to her, so much so that the fear hasn’t truly sunk in. The girl wonders if the handsome blond-haired boy who tried to fight the monster is dead. The man wonders if the girl’s mother, a waitress at a small restaurant downtown, survived the initial attack.
The man mutes the TV so they can listen to what’s happening outside. One of their neighbors sprints up the stairs, past their floor, yelling the whole way. “They’re on the block! They’re on the block!”
The man sucks his teeth in disbelief. “Dude’s losing it. Those pale freaks ain’t gonna bother with Harlem. We’re safe here,” he reassures the girl.
He turns the volume back up. The girl isn’t so sure he’s right. She creeps toward the door and stares out the peephole. The hallway outside is dim and empty.
Like the Midtown block behind her, the reporter on TV looks trashed. She’s got dirt and ash smudged all over her face, streaks of it through her blond hair. There’s a spot of dried blood on her mouth where there should be lipstick. The reporter looks like she’s barely keeping it together.
“To reiterate, the initial bombing seems to have tapered off,” the reporter says shakily, the man listening raptly. “The—the—the Mogadorians, they have taken to the streets en masse and appear to be, ah, rounding up prisoners, although we have seen some further acts of violence at—at—the slightest provocation . . .”
The reporter chokes back a sob. Behind her, there are hundreds of pale aliens in dark uniforms marching through the streets. Some of them turn their heads and point their empty black eyes right at the camera.
“Jesus Christ,” says the man.
“Again, to reiterate, we are being—uh, we are being allowed to broadcast. They—they—the invaders, they seem to want us here . . .”
Downstairs, the gate rattles again. There’s a screech of metal tearing and a loud crash. Someone didn’t have a key. Someone needed to knock the gate down entirely.
“It’s them,” the girl says.
“Shut up,” the man replies. He turns down the TV again. “I mean, keep quiet. Damn.”
They hear heavy footfalls coming up the stairs. The girl backs away from the peephole when she hears another door get kicked in. Their downstairs neighbors start to scream.
“Go hide,” the man says to the girl. “Go on.”
The man’s grip tightens on the baseball bat that he retrieved from the hall closet when the alien mother ship first appeared in the sky. He inches closer to the shaking door, positions himself to one side of it, his back to the wall. They can hear noise from the hallway. A loud crash, their neighbor’s apartment door being knocked off its hinges, harsh words in guttural English, screaming, and finally a sound like compressed lightning being uncorked. They’ve seen the aliens’ guns on television, stared in awe at the sizzling bolts of blue energy they fire.
The footsteps resume, stopping outside their shaky door. The man’s eyes are wide, his hands tight on the bat. He realizes that the girl hasn’t moved. She’s frozen.
“Wake up, stupid,” he snaps. “Go.”
He nods toward the living room window. It’s open, the fire escape waiting outside.
The girl hates when the man calls her stupid. Even so, for the first time she can remember, the girl does what her stepfather tells her. She climbs through the window the same way she’s snuck out of this apartment so many times before. The girls knows she shouldn’t go alone. Her stepfather should flee, too. She turns around on the fire escape to call to him, and so she’s looking into the apartment when their front door is hammered down.
The aliens are much uglier in person than on television. Their otherness freezes the girl in her tracks. She stares at the deathly pale skin of the first one through the door, at his unblinking black eyes and bizarre tattoos. There are four aliens altogether, each of them armed. It’s the first one that spots the girl on the fire escape. He stops in the doorway, his strange gun leveled in her direction.
“Surrender or die,” the alien says.
A second later, the girl’s stepfather hits the alien in the face with his bat. It’s a powerful swing—the old man made his living as a mechanic, his forearms thick from twelve-hour days. It caves in the alien’s head, the creature immediately disintegrating into ash.
Before her stepfather can get his bat back over his shoulder, the nearest alien shoots him in the chest.
The man is thrown backwards into the apartment, muscles seizing, his shirt burning. He crashes through the glass coffee table and rolls, ends up facing the window, where he locks eyes with the girl.
“Run!” her stepfather somehow finds the strength to shout. “Run, damn it!”
The girl bounds down the fire escape. When she gets to the ladder, she hears gunfire from her apartment. She tries not to think about what that means. A pale face pokes his head out of her window and takes aim at her with its weapon.
She lets go of the ladder, dropping into the alley below, right as the air around her sizzles. The hair on her arms stands up and the girl can tell there’s electricity coursing through the metal of the fire escape. But she’s unharmed. The alien missed her.
The girl jumps over some trash bags and runs to the mouth of the alley, peeking around the corner to see the street she grew up on. There’s a fire hydrant gushing water into the air; it reminds the girl of summer block parties. She sees an overturned mail truck, its undercarriage smoking like it could explode at any minute. Farther down the block, parked in the middle of the street, the girl sees the alien’s small spacecraft, one of many she and her stepfather saw unleashed from the hulking ship that still looms over Manhattan. They played that clip over and over on the news. Almost as much as they played the video about the blond-haired boy.
John Smith. That’s his name. The girl narrating the video said so.
Where is he now? the girl wonders. Probably not saving people in Harlem, that’s for sure.
The girl knows she has to save herself.
She’s about to run for it when she spots another group of aliens exiting an apartment building across the street. They have a dozen humans with them, some familiar faces from around the neighborhood, a couple of kids she recognizes from the grades below her. At gunpoint, they force the people onto their knees on the curb. One of the aliens walks down the line of people, clicking a small object in his hand, like a bouncer outside of a club. They’re keeping a count. The girl isn’t sure she wants to see what happens next.
Metal screeches behind her. The girl turns around to see one of the aliens from her apartment climbing down the fire escape.
She runs. The girl is fast and she knows these streets. The subway is only a few blocks from here. Once, on a dare, the girl climbed down from the platform and ventured into the tunnels. The darkness and rats didn’t scare her nearly as much as these aliens. That’s where she’ll go. She can hide there, maybe even make it downtown, try to find her mother. The girl doesn’t know how she’s going to break the news about her stepfather. She doesn’t even believe it herself. She keeps expecting to wake up.
The girl darts around a corner and three aliens stand in her path. Her instinct makes her try to turn back, but her ankle twists and her legs come out from under her. She falls, hitting the sidewalk hard. One of the aliens makes a short, harsh noise—the girl realizes he’s laughing at her.
“Surrender or die,” one of the aliens says, and the girl knows this isn’t really a choice. The aliens already have their guns raised and aimed, fingers nearly depressing the triggers.
Surrender and die. They’re going to kill her no matter what she does next. The girl is certain of this.
The girl throws up her hands to defend herself. It’s a reflex. She knows it won’t do anything against their weapons.
Except it does.
The aliens’ guns jerk upwards, out of their hands. They fly twenty yards down the block.
They look at the girl, stunned and uncertain. She doesn’t understand what just happened either.
But she can feel something different inside her. Something new. It’s as if she’s a puppeteer, with strings connecting to every object on the block. All she needs to do is push and pull. The girl isn’t sure how she knows this. It feels natural.
One of the aliens charges and the girl swipes her hand from right to left. He flies across the street, limbs flailing, and slams through the windshield of a parked car. The other two exchange a look and start to back away.
“Who’s laughing now?” she asks them, standing up.
“Garde,” one of them hisses in reply.
The girl doesn’t know what this means. The way the alien says it makes the word sound like a curse. That makes the girl smile. She likes that these things ripping up her neighborhood are afraid of her now.
She can fight them.
She’s going to kill them.
The girl throws one of her hands into the air and the result is one of the aliens lifting up from the ground. The girl brings her hand down just as quickly, smashing the airborne alien on top of his companion. She repeats this until they turn to dust.
When it’s done, the girl looks down at her hands. She doesn’t know where this power came from. She doesn’t know what it means.
But she’s going to use it.
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