Home > Champion (Legend #3)(4)

Champion (Legend #3)(4)
Marie Lu

“Mr. Wing,” the captain says when I stay silent, as if he’s resorting to some final argument, “the glorious Elector personally requests your presence. So does the Princeps-Elect.”

The Princeps-Elect.

My boots crunch to a halt in the middle of the alley. I forget to breathe.

Don’t get too excited—after all, there are three Princeps-Elects, and he might be referring to any one of them. A few seconds pass before I finally ask, “Which Princeps-Elect?”

“The one who actually matters to you.”

My cheeks warm at the taunt in his voice. “June?”

“Yes, Ms. June Iparis,” the captain replies. He sounds relieved to finally have my attention. “She wanted to make it a personal request this time. She would very much like to see you at the Capitol Tower’s banquet.”

My head aches, and I fight to steady my breathing. All thoughts of the girl in the club go out the window. June has not personally asked for me in eight months—this is the first time that she’s requested I attend a public function. “What’s this for?” I ask. “Just an Independence Day party? Why so important?”

The captain hesitates. “It’s a matter of national security.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” My initial excitement slowly wanes—maybe he’s just bluffing. “Look, Captain, I’ve got some unfinished business to take care of. Try convincing me again in the morning.”

The captain curses under his breath. “Fine, Mr. Wing. Have it your way.” He mumbles something I can’t quite make out, then goes offline. I frown in exasperation as my initial excitement fades away into a sinking disappointment. Maybe I should head home now. It’s time for me to go back and check up on Eden, anyway. What a joke. Chances are he’s probably lying about June’s request in the first place, because if she’d really wanted me to go back to the capital that badly, she—

“Day?”

A new voice comes over my earpiece. I freeze.

Have the hallucinogens from the meds worn off yet? Did I just imagine her voice? Even though I haven’t heard it in almost a year, I would recognize it anywhere, and the sound alone is enough to conjure the image of June standing before me, as if I’d run across her by chance in this alley. Please, don’t let it be her. Please, let it be her.

Did her voice always have this effect on me?

I have no idea how long I was frozen like this, but it must’ve been a while, because she repeats, “Day, it’s me. June. Are you there?” A shiver runs through me.

This is real. It’s really her.

Her tone is different from what I remember. Hesitant and formal, like she’s speaking to a stranger. I finally manage to compose myself and click my mike back on. “I’m here,” I reply. My own tone is different too—just as hesitant, just as formal. I hope she doesn’t hear the slight tremor in it.

There’s a short pause on the other side before June continues. “Hi.” Then a long silence, followed by, “How are you?”

Suddenly I feel a storm of words building up inside me, threatening to pour out. I want to blurt out everything: I’ve thought about you every day since that final farewell between us, I’m sorry for not contacting you, I wish you had contacted me. I miss you. I miss you.

I don’t say any of this. Instead, the only thing I manage is, “Fine. What’s up?”

She pauses. “Oh. That’s good. I apologize for the late call, as I’m sure you’re trying to sleep. But the Senate and the Elector have asked me to send this request to you personally. I wouldn’t do it unless I felt it was truly important. Denver is throwing a ball for Independence Day, and during the event, we’ll be having an emergency meeting. We need you in attendance.”

“Why?” Guess I’ve resorted to one-word replies. For some reason, it’s all I can think of with June’s voice on the line.

She exhales, sending a faint burst of static through the earpiece, and then says, “You’ve heard about the peace treaty being drafted between the Republic and the Colonies, right?”

“Yeah, of course.” Everyone in the country knows about that: our precious little Anden’s greatest ambition, to end the war that’s been going on for who knows how long. And so far, things seem to be going in the right direction, well enough that the warfront has been at a quiet stalemate for the past four months. Who knew a day like that could come, just like how we’d never expected to see the Trial stadiums sitting unused across the country. “Seems like the Elector’s on track to becoming the Republic’s hero, yeah?”

“Don’t speak too soon.” June’s words darken, and I feel like I can see her expression through the earpiece. “Yesterday we received an angry transmission from the Colonies. There’s a plague spreading through their warfront cities, and they believe it was caused by some of the biological weapons we’d sent across their borders. They’ve even traced the serial numbers on the shells of the weapons they believe started this plague.”

Her words are turning muffled through the shock in my mind, the fog that’s bringing back memories of Eden and his black, bleeding eyes, of that boy on the train who was being used as a part of the warfare. “Does that mean the peace treaty is off?” I ask.

“Yes.” June’s voice falls. “The Colonies say the plague is an official act of war against them.”

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