Home > Prodigy (Legend #2)(7)

Prodigy (Legend #2)(7)
Marie Lu

“Glad to see you, cousin,” I whisper. “You look good.”

Tess just squeezes me tighter. I realize that she’s holding her breath; she’s trying hard not to cry.

Kaede is the one who interrupts the moment. “Enough,” she says. “This isn’t the damn opera.” We break apart to laugh awkwardly at each other, and Tess wipes her eyes with the back of a hand. She exchanges an uncomfortable smile with June. Finally, she turns away and hurries back to where another person, a man, is waiting.

Kaede opens her mouth to say something else, but the man stops her with a gloved hand. This surprises me. Judging from how bossy she is, I would’ve assumed that Kaede’s in charge of the group. Can’t imagine this girl taking orders from anyone. But now she just purses her lips and flops onto the couch as the man rises to address us. He’s tall, probably in his early forties, and built with a bit of strength in his shoulders. His skin is light brown and his curly hair is pulled back into a short, frizzy tail. A pair of thin, black-rimmed glasses rest on his nose.

“So. You must be the one we’ve all heard so much about,” he says. “Pleased to meet you, Day.”

I wish I could do better than standing hunched over with pain. “Likewise. Thank you for seeing us.”

“Please forgive us for not escorting you both to Vegas ourselves,” he says apologetically, adjusting his glasses. “It seems cold, but I don’t like risking my rebels needlessly.” His eyes swivel to June. “And I’m guessing you’re the Republic’s prodigy.”

June inclines her head in a gesture that oozes high class.

“Your escort costume is so convincing, though. Let’s just conduct a quick test to prove your identity. Please close your eyes.”

June hesitates for a second, then obliges.

The man waves a hand toward the front of the room. “Now hit the target on the wall with one of your knives.”

I blink, then study the walls. Target? I hadn’t even noticed that a dartboard with a three-ring target is on one of the walls near the door we came through. But June doesn’t miss a beat. She flips out a knife from her waist, turns, and throws it straight toward the dartboard without opening her eyes.

It slams deep into the board, just a few inches shy of the bull’s-eye.

The man claps his hands. Even Kaede utters a grunt of approval, followed by a roll of her eyes. “Oh, for chrissake,” I hear her mutter. June turns back to us and waits for the man’s response. I’m stunned into silence. Never in my life have I seen anyone handle a blade like that. And even though I’ve seen plenty of amazing things from June, this is the first time I’ve witnessed her using a weapon. The sight sends both a thrill and a shiver through me, bringing memories that I’ve forced into a closet in my mind, thoughts I need to keep buried if I want to stay focused, keep going.

“Pleased to meet you, Ms. Iparis,” the man says, tucking his hands behind his back. “Now, tell me. What brings you here?”

June nods at me, so I speak up instead. “We need your help,” I say. “Please. I came for Tess, but I’m also trying to find my brother Eden. I don’t know what the Republic’s using him for or where they’re keeping him. We figured you were the only people outside the military who might be able to get information. And finally, it seems like my leg needs to be operated on.” I suck in my breath as another spasm of agony sears my wound. The man glances down at the leg; his eyebrows furrow in concern.

“That’s quite a list,” he says. “You should sit. You seem a bit unsteady on your feet.” He waits patiently for me to move, but when I don’t budge, he clears his throat. “Well, you’ve introduced yourselves—it’s only fair for me to do the same. My name is Razor, and I currently head the Patriots. I’ve been leading the organization for quite a few years, longer than you’ve been causing trouble on the streets of Lake. You want our help, Day, but I seem to remember your declining our invitations to join us. Several times.”

He turns to tinted windows that face the pyramid-shaped landing docks lining the strip. The view from here is amazing. Airships glide back and forth in the night sky, covered in lights, several of them docking right over the pyramids’ tops like puzzle pieces. Occasionally we see formations of fighter jets, black eaglelike shapes, taking off from and landing on the airship decks. It’s a never-ending stream of activity. My eyes dart from building to building; the pyramid docks in particular would be the easiest to run, with grooves cut into each side and steplike ridges lining their edges.

I realize that Razor is waiting again for me to respond. “I wasn’t entirely comfortable with your organization’s body count,” I offer.

“But now apparently you are,” Razor says. His words are scolding, but his tone is sympathetic as he puts his palms together and presses the fingertips to his lips. “Because you need us. Correct?”

Well, I can’t argue with that. “I’m sorry,” I say. “We’re running out of options. But believe me, I’ll understand if you turn us away. Just don’t turn us in to the Republic, please.” I force a smile.

He chuckles at my sarcasm. I focus on the crooked bump of his nose and wonder if he’d broken it before. “At first, I was tempted to let you both wander Vegas until you were caught,” he continues. His voice has the smoothness of an aristocrat, cultured and charismatic. “I’ll be blunt with you. Your skills are not as valuable to me as they used to be, Day. Over the years, we’ve recruited other Runners—and now, with all due respect, adding another one to our team isn’t a priority. Your friend already knows”—he pauses to nod at June—“that the Patriots are not a charity. You’re asking us for a great deal of help. What will you give us in return? You can’t be carrying much money.”

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