I count the houses between where the soldiers are now and where my family lives. A shriek echoes from the other end of the street. My eyes dart toward the sound and my hand whips to the knife sheathed at my belt. Tess sucks in her breath. She stumbles around for a while, disoriented, then charges forward, only to trip and fall to her knees. I glance back toward the soldiers. They see her now. The soldier with the drawn weapon approaches, while the eleven others stay where they are and look on. The soldier lifts his gun and aims. A volley of sparks engulfs the infected woman.
Like all guns, it has precision, guided by magnets and electric currents, and can accurately shoot a target three blocks away. Tess and I could buy five of them if we wanted. I look down and see the soldiers spill from another house.
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One of them shakes a can of spray paint and draws a giant red X on the door. I know that house. The family that lives there once had a little girl my age. My brothers and I played with her when we were younger—freeze tag and street hockey with iron pokers and crumpled paper. Tess tries to distract me by nodding at the cloth bundle near my feet. I smile, then reach down to untie the cloth. I check them again to make sure there are no cracks in the glass.
An early birthday gift. These goggles were a lucky steal from a military supply shipment. I put them down and shuffle through the rest of the stuff. I wish I could be in the room with all of them when I deliver this stuff. I failed my own Trial when I was ten. But then the admins ushered me into a corner of the Trial stadium with a bunch of other kids. They stamped something on my test and stuffed me onto a train headed downtown.
You get a perfect score— points. Who knows what happens to someone with a score that high? Probably lots of money and power, yeah? You score between a and a Then Congress hires you and you make lots of money. Joy and happiness follow. At least according to the Republic. You get a good score, somewhere between and points.
Not bad. You squeak by with a score between and Congress bars you from high school. You join the poor, like my family. They make your parents sign a contract giving the government full custody over you. Your parents have to nod and agree. A few even celebrate, because the Republic gives them one thousand Notes as a condolence gift. Money and one less mouth to feed? What a thoughtful government. Except this is all a lie. An inferior child with bad genes is no use to the country.
Five houses remain. Tess sees the worry in my eyes and puts a hand on my forehead. Eden walks by, then peeks out the window at the approaching soldiers and points some handmade metal contraption at them. Then he ducks back inside and disappears from view. His curls flash white-blond in the flickering lamplight. Knowing him, he probably built that gadget to measure how far away someone is, or something like that.
Minutes later, we see John and my mother wander past the window, deep in conversation.
His hair, like most who live in our sector, hangs down past his shoulders and is tied back into a simple tail. His vest is smudged with red clay. I let out a breath. At least all three of them are healthy enough to walk. My family will stand frozen in our living room long after the soldiers have left. Then Mom will put on her usual brave face, only to sit up through the night, quietly wiping tears away. Or die. My mind wanders to the stash of stolen money that Tess and I have hidden. Twenty-five hundred Notes. Enough to feed us for months. The minutes drag on. I tuck my slingshot away and play a few rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors with Tess.
They must have gathered near the door, ready to open it as soon as they hear a fist against the wood. And then the time comes. The soldiers pound on the door. My mother opens it immediately, lets the soldiers in, and then closes it. I strain to hear voices, footsteps, anything that might come from my house. The sooner this is all over, the sooner I can sneak my gifts to John. I count off the seconds in my head. One minute passes. Then two, then four, and then finally, ten minutes.
Thirty minutes pass. My fingers tap rhythmically against the hilt of my knife. Tess opens her mouth to reply, but before she can say anything, the soldiers are exiting my house, single file, expressionless. Finally, the last soldier shuts the door behind him and reaches for something tucked at his waist.
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I suddenly feel dizzy. The soldier reaches up and sprays one long, red, diagonal line on our door. Then he sprays another line, making an X. And whenever that happens, the news spreads all over campus. Arisna Whitaker, the dean secretary herself, is seated behind her desk, tapping on its glass—no doubt typing up my report. This will be my eighth report this quarter.
"Guest Starring John Noble"
Whitaker sighs and leans back in her chair. I twisted my wrist yesterday in a game of kivaball. You should try to swing more from your arm and not from your wrist. You may think your perfect grades earn you some sort of special treatment. You may even think you have fans at this school, what with all this nonsense.
Do you understand me? Then I skipped my sophomore year. I am smart. I have what the Republic considers good genes—and better genes make for better soldiers make for better chance of victory against the Colonies, my professors always say. It was self-improvement, for the sake of my country.
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Rumor has it that Day once scaled five stories in less than eight seconds. Send him in.
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, I hear a commotion out in the hall. My brother. As Metias opens the door and steps inside, I can see some girls out in the hall stifling smiles behind their hands. But Metias fixes his full attention on me. We have the same eyes, black with a gold glint, the same long lashes and dark hair.
The long lashes work particularly well for Metias. Even with the door closed behind him, I can still hear the whispers and giggles from outside. It looks like he came from his patrol duties straight to my campus. My eyes meet his. Whitaker gives Metias a brilliant smile. Metias taps the edge of his hat in a polite salute. Your sister was caught scaling a high-rise during her lunch hour today.
He snaps his fingers at me, my cue to get up. I ignore Ms. Immediately students hurry over. How high up did you get? Metias cuts him off with a stern look. I glance behind me and manage a smile for them. That gets them buzzing again. Somehow, this has become the closest relationship I have with the other Drake students. I am respected, discussed, gossiped about. Not really talked to. I watch my classmates run along a giant track surrounded by a degree screen simulating some desolate warfront road.
A few others are tapped for politics and Congress, and some are chosen to stay behind and teach. Do you want to explain this to me? Helicopters two blocks from Drake. A girl scaling a skyscraper. Metias turns around from his place in the passenger seat and narrows his eyes at me. He looks as tidy as ever, with his perfectly slicked hair and perfectly ironed uniform. Not a strand or thread out of place. Sometimes I wish I had that much discipline. He probably disapproves of my stunts even more than Metias does.
We leave downtown Los Angeles behind and travel up the winding highway in silence. Metal support beams crisscross their walls. I hope they get to upgrade those supports soon. After a few minutes, Metias continues in a calmer voice. I lean forward to rest my arms on top of his seat. He lets out a scornful chuckle, but I can tell his anger is already fading. Is Drake not keeping your brain busy enough?
I bite my tongue. Metias did pick me once— once —for a mission last year, when all third-year Drake students had to shadow an assigned military branch. His commander sent him to kill a runaway prisoner of war from the Colonies. So Metias brought me along with him, and together we chased the POW deeper and deeper into our territory, away from the dividing fences and the strip of land running from Dakota to West Texas that separates the Republic and the Colonies, away from the warfront where airships dot the sky.
I tracked him into an alley in Yellowstone City, Montana, and Metias shot him. During the chase, I broke three ribs and had a knife buried in my leg. Now Metias refuses to take me anywhere. When Metias finally speaks again, he sounds grudgingly curious. Thomas makes a disapproving sound in his throat, but I break into a grin. Metias loves me again. How do you like that? Thomas stops the jeep right behind the lines at a red light and gives Metias an exasperated look. Victory against the Colonies. The light blinks green. Thomas turns his eyes back to the road he seems to count to three in his head before letting the jeep go forward.
Iparis to do, especially with your parents gone. That fear never leaves his face. And Thomas knows it. Just hazy recollections of long, adult legs shuffling around our apartment and hands lifting me from my high chair. We drive past half of Batalla sector and through a few poor blocks. Metias gets out first. As I follow, Thomas gives me a small smile.
Thanks for the ride. Metias waits until the door has slammed shut before turning to me and lowering his voice. So stay put, okay? My heart sinks.
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I wish the Republic would hurry up and win this war already so that for once we might actually get a whole month of nonstop electricity. Can I come with you? And I already told you no. No missions. We have a lot to talk about. He turns to climb back into the jeep. When he came home that time, the city patrols did a routine inspection of our house, then dragged Dad off to the local police headquarters for questioning. Several nights later, I dipped a ball of crushed ice into a can of gasoline, let the oil coat the ice in a thick layer, and lit it.
Then I launched it with a slingshot through the window of our local police headquarters. Want to Read saving….
Legend (Marie Lu's Legend Series #1)
Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Legend by Wilfredo Hernandez. With the help of an ancient Chinese secret, three boys in their late teens from Chicago juggle a life as college students, gangsters, and um Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , 92 pages.
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