Never Fade Page 33

“Roo,” Jude whispered. “What are we doing? Where are we going?”

“Tangerine, keep all non-Op transmissions off the line,” came Barton’s voice.

Good. I wanted him to hear. I wanted all of them to hear this.

The ring of police and National Guardsmen had been busted open, and the protesters gathered there were streaming past them, signs clutched in their hands, drums beating. A midnight march, I guess, though I had no idea for what. And judging by the variety of signs I saw, they weren’t really sure what they were protesting, either. The draft that forced them into PSF service? President Gray’s unwillingness to negotiate with the West Coast government? The general state of awfulness spreading like poison over the entire country, as the pollution had over Los Angeles?

Most of the faces around us were young but not teenagers. A good portion of the country’s universities and colleges had been temporarily shut down due to lack of funding, but if a few still had money left, I guess Harvard would have been one of them.


I let them get ahead of us, trailing far enough behind that the others had less of a chance of hearing the chanting over the comm. I waited until they had cleared out of the square before touching the comm again to activate the microphone.

“I just want to know—what were their names?”

“Tangerine.” Rob’s voice was tight, and he sounded slightly breathless. “I have no idea—”

“Tangerine, cease—” The woman at HQ didn’t sound particularly happy with me, either.

“What the hell is going on, Minder?” Barton was still listening, too.

“Those two kids you took out of that camp, the night before we met,” I said, keeping my eyes straight ahead on a young guy with dreadlocks waving us all forward. “The boy and the girl. I’m sure you remember them—it must have taken a lot of effort to get them out, never mind to tie their hands and feet that way.”

Jude stared at me, his dark brows drawn together in confusion.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me. You got them out, and then you killed them in that alley and left them there—why? What was the point? What did they say or do to make you so angry? That girl was begging you. She didn’t want to die, but you took her out of that camp, and you executed her. You didn’t even take that boy’s mask off.”

I clenched my fists to get them to stop shaking. And in that brief second, suddenly it was Alban’s voice crackling in my ear.

“What’s all this?” He took a deep breath. “I need you both to meet Leader. If you don’t want to return to HQ with Minder—”

“We’re not coming back to HQ,” I said, “until he’s gone forever.”

It was a dangerous play; if Alban took the bait and booted Rob, there was still a good chance that others in his bloodthirsty pack would retaliate against the kids at HQ. But—but—now that Alban knew Rob was hostile, he and the agents we could trust would be on the lookout for more of that attitude, at least for the next few weeks. Jarvin and the other conspirators would feel safer knowing that Jude was away and couldn’t rat them out. And I didn’t need forever—a few weeks and I would be back with all we needed to force them out.

“Rob, listen, I just want to know their names. I want to know if you even bothered to ask before you killed them.”

“Do you think this is a game? Stop lying, goddammit! When I find you—”

“You better hope you never find me,” I said, ice edging each word. I didn’t even have to close my eyes to see that girl’s face. I felt her walking beside me, her eyes open, forever fixed on the barrel of the gun and the hand that held it steady. “Because what I’ll do to you will be so much worse than a bullet in the skull.”

I didn’t wait to hear the response to that. I yanked the comm out and dropped it, letting the feet behind me smash it and scatter the pieces. I motioned for Jude to follow me as I jogged to catch up to the protesters. We were swept into the flood of people pouring down Massachusetts Avenue’s wide berth. I was being jostled from all sides—arms were being thrust around, people were yelling and screaming, and it was the safest I had been in months. I threw a glance behind me as I surged forward, looking for Jude’s pale face—there he was, eyes wide, cheeks and nose pink with the blistering cold. I was coasting on a wave of simmering power and control. I had gotten us away, and now no one was even looking at us.

I felt Jude grab the back of my jacket again and guide us forward, flowing with the crowd. The drums up ahead rattled to life with a frantic rhythm, and for the first time, I felt a twinge of panic. I thought I heard someone calling my name behind me, but even the chanting was drowned out by the fury gripping my mind.

The crowd around me was still growing, and the farther they moved down the street, the more they seemed to work themselves into a frenzy of excitement. The same chant was singing through their blood, More, more, more, more. That was the only thing they had in common. The only thing they all wanted—more food, more freedom, more money, more.

I realized where we were headed almost immediately: back into the heart of Boston. The Massachusetts Avenue bridge was up ahead—and so were the familiar blue and red flashing lights of the police cars that were blockading it.

The protesters didn’t stop.

There were dozens of policemen in riot gear, National Guardsmen taking aim, and not a single one of the protesters stopped marching forward. I felt my feet slow and was shoved forward by the momentum of the crushing wave behind me.

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