Darkness breaks, p.22
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       Darkness Breaks, p.22

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 22

 

  His face twists with rage, but something else flares in his eyes and his lips curve to a malicious grin.

  “Actually the real reason she hates me so much,” Sylas says, pleased with himself. “And you too Kayla, is that she was in love with me once, but I turned her down because of you. ”

  I dip my eyebrows together, puzzled because I thought she was in love with Aiden.

  Wrath scalds inside Ryder. She charges at Sylas, her hands enclosing around his neck. Sylas grabs her arms and pries her off him. Then he spins her around and smashes his elbow on top of her head. Ryder’s black-outlined eyes cross and her body goes slack.

  Sylas lowers her to the ground. “One down. Four more to go. ”

  “Three,” Maci beams. “I’m on your team. I’ll go get the next one. ”

  Sylas and I exchange confused looks as she skips off, swinging her arms.

  “What a weird kid. ” He cocks his head at Ryder, his hair falling in his eyes. “She wants to blame everyone for her problems, but it’s her own fault she was stuck in solitary all the time. She says it was because she wasn’t special enough. ” He loops his arms under hers. “But that wasn’t always it. Sure there were times Monarch locked her away because he didn’t need her. ” He lets out a loud breath and heaves her into the corner. “But she was always causing problems with everyone. ”

  “You were the one causing the problems. ” Aiden leans against the archway, arms folded, jaw tense. “You play with people’s emotions too much. ” His eyes stray to me. “And cause people pain. ”

  I jiggle the chains cuffing my wrists. “And what do you think this is?”

  “I’m trying to help you, Juniper because I love you. ” His arms fall to his side as he walks over to me, just out of reach of the chains. “You say you’re not sure if you’re going to change, but you will if you keep hanging out with him. When you two are together, it’s a disaster in the making. ”

  “That day was my fault. ” I burn an intense gaze at him. “I thought Monarch was my dad. ”

  “Monarch tricked you. ” Aiden takes a step toward me. “He disguised himself as your dad because he knew you’d run out of that pipe. ”

  “But my dad was dead,” I say. “I should have known better. ”

  “You were only six years-old,” he replies. “Much younger than some people who should have known better then to go to that stupid field at all. ”

  I itch my head with the metal cuff. “They were kidnapping children. How come no one did anything about it?”

  “Because they couldn’t catch them. ” Aiden sighs. “And because a lot of people didn’t want to believe it was going on. ”

  “It was hard to believe that people could be stealing kids off the streets. ” Sylas prowls toward Aiden. “Dad didn’t want to accept that the world had come to that. ”

  “They were stealing them for experiments?” I ask. “So they could turn us into whatever we are now? Or were they using us as test rats to experiment the virus on. ”

  “We were trying to save the human race from their own stupidity. ” The ice-cold voice sends a chill through the room.

  The three of us slowly turn toward the archway. Our eyes round at the Higher filling up the only exit. His snow-white hair and white robe are blinding in the dimly lit cave. His pale eyes take us in lazily. I know those eyes.

  “Gabrielle,” I breathe, fully aware of the chains trapping me.

  He takes a step in the room, his eyes taking in the low arch ceiling and the dirt floor. “I cannot fathom why anyone would want to trade in The Colony for living quarters like this. Then again, rebels are nothing more than filthy animals, so I guess it’s a fitting place. ”

  My jaw hangs to my knees. “How did you find us?”

  He laughs lowly. “You wander around in my city—in my desert, and you’re surprised that I found you. Plus, you set off the alarms in the underground. ” A pause of contemplation. “Or did you think you killed me, Kayla?”

  I don’t respond. Until now, I wasn’t sure if he’d died when I stabbed him at The Gathering, since it has never been determined if I’m a Higher.

  “You’re not strong enough for that. ” He’s standing close to Aiden and it makes me edgy. “To go up against invincibility, you’d have to be invincible yourself. ”

  “Then why do you want me dead?” I tug Aiden toward me by the sleeve of his shirt. “If you’re so invincible, why are you so determined to find me?”

  “Because you’re an abomination,” He says simply. “You weren’t supposed to exist anymore. But some people took it upon themselves to hide that you were still around, blending in with my Colony that I worked so hard to create. ”

  I think of the glass cells. “But I was supposed to exist once. ”

  “You were supposed to be destroyed after Monarch was finished with you,” he says. “Just like everyone else from Cell 7. ” He looks at Sylas. “A few escaped undetected, though. ”

  “How can you just kill everyone?” Aiden abruptly speaks. “How can you murder innocent people all because you want to?”

  “Don’t worry,” he says to Aiden. “You weren’t in Cell 7. You were just one of the unlucky ones that got mixed up in the weeding out. ”

  “You mean during The Gathering?” I say. “That’s what you were doing—weeding people out. ”

  “Only the ones that no longer served a purpose to us,” he says. “Or should I say the ones that were in desperate need of rehabilitation. ” His eyes land on Sylas. “Although, Monarch was supposed to kill the unfixable ones. ”

  “So why are we still alive then?” I ask. “If you have so much power over life and death, how did we survive?”

  His mouth twists up. “Every system has its flaws. Dominic abandoned his rehabilitation mission. He was destroying the Highers instead of letting them grow and conquer. Plus, he gave too much freedom to his Colony. I learned too late that Dominic and Monarch were trying to create their own breeds to end our race. ”

  Aiden shakes his head, refusing to believe him. “Dominic wasn’t running a Colony. ”

  “What do you think the underground was?” Gabrielle asks. “Did you really think you were hiding, undetected by the Highers? We are perfected in every way and we know everything that goes on. ”

  “Huh,” Sylas says with cynicism. “I didn’t realize murder qualified as perfection. ”

  Gabrielle’s eyes caution Sylas to shut his mouth. “Death for the right reasons—to better the human race—is justifiable. ” He overlaps his hands behind his back and paces the floor. “You guys were probably too young to remember, but the world before the virus wasn’t any better. In fact, it was worse. Death, hatred, rebellion, war, there was madness everywhere. Someone needs to control it—someone needs to be better than it. Medicine is a remarkable thing, but I have to give Monarch credit too. I came to him with an idea, and he created the virus better than I could have imagined. ”

  I remember Cell 7, when I bit Gabrielle, back when he was a human. “You’re lying,” I say, but know I’m wrong.

  “You know that’s not true,” Gabrielle’s eyes shimmer with knowledge. He knows what I’m capable of.

  I shake my head over and over again, denying what I’ve suspected all along. “Monarch wouldn’t create a virus that could turn people into you. ”

  “You think that’s bad, it’s only the beginning of it. ” He sighs. “There’s no point in trying to explain the beauty of it all. You’re feeble human mind can’t grasp the deeper meaning here. ”

  “Murder is murder,” Aiden snaps, his fists and legs shaking. “And because we’re human, it allows us to see there’s no beauty in that. ”

  He crosses his arms and cups his chin musingly, his eyes lingering on Aiden. “I was planning on killing all of you, but since you aren’t one of the Cell 7 breed I’ll give you a free pass. You can go back to The Colony with me. ”

  There’s no hesitancy from Aiden. “No, I’ll never
go back there. ”

  “Very well then,” the Higher says impassively. “But heroicness is a flaw not a gift. ”

  “Wow, you’re chalk full of twisted words of wisdom,” Sylas says with mock shock. “Aren’t you?”

  Gabrielle raises his hand and strikes Sylas across the face. It’s like metal hitting metal and Sylas winces, jerking the chains, which wave up and clip Gabrielle’s skin.

  He flinches back, his skin sizzling against the silver.

  “Wow, a weakness,” I say. “It’s nice to know you have one. ”

  He curses under his breath, words of his own language. Then he wipes all emotion from his faultless face and parts for the archway. “Like I said, every system has its flaws, but there are always ways to fix it. ”

  “I’ll go. ” The traitor’s voice belongs to Ryder. She missteps to her feet, gripping her head. “I want to go with you… back to The Colony. Please take me with you. ”

  Gabrielle eyes her unemotionally. “And you are?”

  “Ryder Ayes,” her voice slurs. “And I wasn’t part of Cell 7. ”

  Gabrielle rolls up his sleeves, showing his flawless skin. “Show me your number. ”

  Ryder trips over her boots with her arms out. Gabrielle takes her wrist, pressing into her skin as he examines the short number.

  “You’re nothing but an Adepti,” he remarks. “Why are you even out here? Only Belletors are selected for The Gathering. They’re the only ones we watch. ”

  “Monarch used me for experiments,” she clarifies, her knees knocking together. “I just wasn’t that important to him. ”

  I glare at Ryder, a coward, weaseling her way back into The Colony and taking my memories with her.

  “Ryder, what are you doing?” Aiden’s heart is betrayed. “You don’t want to go back there. You hated it, remember?”

  Ryder stares at the cave wall. “I hate it out here just as much. And I don’t want to struggle anymore. ”

  Gabrielle tosses her arm aside. Ryder loses her balances and bumps into Sylas, who steps aside so she face plants it to the ground.

  Ryder overlaps her fingers and starts to sob. “Please, I don’t belong out here. I hate it!”

  Gabrielle straightens his robe “Very well, you can come back. ” He kicks the lanterns over and glass and liquid pool the ground. He grabs Ryder’s arm and pushes her out the archway. He takes a bottle from the pocket of his robe and squirts it all over the ground, until the red dirt is doused. Then he retrieves a box of matches and swipes the tip, lighting a flame. “Fire is a truly amazing thing. It’s what concealed us from the others all this time—it’s what protects us. ” He stares at the flame. “Of course, it also hurts like hell to be burned alive. ” He releases the flame onto the liquid. The floor ignites, smoke and fire spilling everywhere.