✯ | chapter twenty nine

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CHAPTER TWENTY NINE ;; HYDRAZINE

"WELCOME, SKY CREW," Lexa greeted, as the Ark's army walked into the tent.

The Grounder army had gathered just outside the mountain, posing an imminent threat to the inhabitants. They could not attack, however, until the Ark's people had arrived.

Standing on either side of Lexa, Clarke and Leila smiled as their friends entered the room, looking around almost nervously at the gathered Grounders.

"Join us," Lexa implored, gesturing to the room, inviting them to enter further.

Miller's father stepped towards Clarke, holding out a metal canister. "A package from Raven. Hydrazine. She said it would do the job."

"Good," Clarke smiled, taking the explosive.

"And, uh, your mother wanted to be here, too," Miller's father said quietly.

"I know," Clarke nodded. "But the wounded in Tondc need her more."

Mr. Miller nodded and stepped away from Clarke, allowing them to gather around a war table, on which a 3D replica of Mount Weather had been built.

"Field Commanders," Lexa began. "Today's the day we get our people back. The enemy thinks it's safe behind its doors, but it's not. When it realises that, it will fight back. Hard. We need to be ready."

Lexa turned to Clarke, who straightened her posture. "This is a rescue mission. We are not here to wipe them out. There are people inside that mountain that have helped us. Children who have nothing to do with this war."

"We kill their soldiers," Leila continued. "Their leadership, if we have to, but we are there to rescue our people. Is that clear?" murmured agreements ran around the room and Leila nodded. "Then let's begin."

Clarke stepped forwards, walking around the mountain replica. "There are four teams. Two of them, at the dam and in the mine, are moving into position already. The third, inside the mountain, is freeing the Grounder prisoners as we speak. It is our job as the fourth team to keep the eyes of the enemy off of them for as long as possible. To do that, we have to be in position here–" Clarke placed her hand on the model, right at the opening of the mountain, "–at the main door with our entire army."

Leila stepped forwards. "The Mountain Men believe the door can't be opened from the outside, so they leave it unguarded. Only it can be, and thanks to our source on the inside, now we know how," Leila shot a look to Clarke, who nodded, before her eyes flashed to Lexa, who also tilted her head. "According to Maya, the electromagnetic locking system has one flaw: when the power goes out, it disengages."

"That's where Raven's team comes in," Clarke continued. "The mountain's electricity is generated at Philpott Dam. By now, they've taken the turbine room. It's their job to blow the power. Once they do, we blow the lock. There is a catch: a backup generator inside the mountain. If the lock is still functioning when that backup power kicks in, we'll never get that door open. We'll never get our people back."

"How much time do we have until the backup power kicks in?" Mr. Miller asked.

"One minute," Leila replied. "That's the window."

"Small window," Mr. Miller stated. "Why don't we just take out the backup generator, too? Bellamy's inside, have him do it."

"Leaving them without power that long would kill them all," Clarke explained. "And, as we said, that's not the mission. Besides, we lost contact with Bellamy."

"What? We did? When?" Leila asked, having not been informed of the change. When she had fully realised what Clarke had said, her heart began to pound in her chest, making the agonising sense of longing even more painful.

"After he took out the acid fog," Clarke replied.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Leila asked accusingly under her breath as she gripped Clarke's wrist.

"Because I knew you'd react like this," Clarke replied. "I'm sorry."

Leila shook her head and stepped away as Lexa noticed the brunette's distress. "Bellamy's a warrior. He'll be fine."

Clarke nodded in confirmation. "As the Commander said, once the door is open, the shooting will start and they'll throw everything they have at us. But that's what we want. We want them looking at us because while we're fighting at the front door, Indra's team will be escorting the prisoners out the back, right through the Reaper tunnels. Once all our people are free, they'll sound the retreat. We'll be back home before Mount Weather even knows they're gone. And that's it. That's the plan."

Lexa took note of the murmurs running through the room like a trickle of water. "The mountain has cast a shadow over these woods for too long. They've hunted us; controlled us; turned us into monsters. That ends today. Thanks to our alliance with the Sky People, the mountain will fall. As Clarke and Leila said, we spare the innocent. As for the guilty... Jus drein jus daun."

Lexa words sent off a chant as the Grounder began to relate the words. Clarke looked at Leila, who shrugged. "Blood must have blood."

Clarke looked around before she too joined in with the chant, speaking the words with so much vigour and emphasis that Leila wondered whether she was actually the Clarke that had been with her through everything.

>

Standing beside the new version of Clarke, Leila watched as Monroe drilled a hole into the massive steel door separating the Mountain Men from the Grounder army. Arms folded over her chest, Leila chewed her lip anxiously. Lexa had forced her to coat her eyes with the war paint, matching the Commanders very closely.

"That should do it," Monroe reported, withdrawing the drill from the door. "Bombs away."

"Be careful," Clarke implored, as Mr. Miller stepped towards the hole in the door.

"Archers, watch the trees!" Lexa demanded.

Stepping forwards with Mr. Miller, Leila and Lincoln stood side by side as the guard withdrew Raven's bomb from his pocket, hands shaking as he clutched the device.

Lincoln reached past Leila and steadied the man's hand. "Hey. You can do this."

"What if we're too late?" Mr. Miller asked.

Lincoln leaned towards him. "Draw strength from your son."

"This mountain has taken too much from both of us, hasn't it?" Mr. Miller asked.

Lincoln said nothing, prompting the man to slide the container of hydrazine into the hole Monroe had drilled. Pressing a small button on the side, the bomb began to beep, signalling that it was ready to detonate at a moment's notice.

Leila smiled coyly. "Bombs away."

>

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