Home > Supernova(9)

Author: Marissa Meyer

“Not that,” he interrupted. “How much longer do we have before they figure out who you are?”

Nova tensed. With that seemingly innocent question, a floodgate of panic surged through her body.

Every wrong turn.

Every arrogant mistake.

Every piece of evidence that had been piling up against her over the past months.

They all blurred in her mind. A thousand missteps flashing through her memory at once.

The time she had put Danna to sleep in the medical wing. How Winston had seemed to recognize her when he’d been interrogated by Adrian, as had the Librarian’s granddaughter, Narcissa Cronin. All the things she had ever taken from the vault. How she had flaunted her shooting skills more than once. How she had left the Renegades’ gala early, on the same evening that Nightmare had stolen Ace’s helmet.

And, perhaps most condemning of all, how she had helped Max when he was dying.

After seeing the board at Adrian’s house and listening to his theory, Nova realized that in some terrible way, she was lucky that Max was in a coma. It might have been in Frostbite’s best interest to lie and say that Nightmare had attacked the kid, but when he woke up, would Max tell a different story? Nova wanted him to wake up—of course she did—but she also hoped that his memory of the night would be too befuddled to make sense of.

Because it made no sense that Nightmare would help him, and yet, that’s what she’d done. Instead of leaving him for dead, she had tried to stop the bleeding, even going so far as to force Genissa Clark to give him her powers so he could freeze over the wound.

Nova had been through those moments in her head a million times. She knew she should have left Max. She should have grabbed the helmet and run.

But he was dying.

She couldn’t have just left him. Even now, with all the rationality of hindsight plaguing her, she knew she’d made the right choice.

The truth would come out eventually, and the truth would be her undoing. At this point, any number of truths could be her undoing.

“Perhaps this moment calls for a bit of cold honesty,” said Honey, drumming her nails on the table. “I want to rescue our poor Acey as much as anybody, but none of this is very promising. Even if we could get into that prison, the chances of getting him and us out again are relatively scarce, and the moment the Renegades realize who Nova is—which, judging from the abject terror on her face, I suspect could happen in the next five minutes—they’ll have this place surrounded and we’ll be done for.” She fluffed her hair as her focus shifted from Nova to Leroy and Phobia and back again. “Has anyone considered maybe that we don’t rescue Ace, and instead steal a nice yacht and go live out our days on a tropical island somewhere?”

Phobia made a disgusted sound.

Honey wiggled her fingers at him. “Don’t worry, darling. I’m sure we can find one with a cemetery.”

“We’re not leaving Ace,” said Nova.

Honey sighed. “It’s time to consider other options.”

“Honey has a point,” murmured Leroy. “I hate to admit it, but…” He gestured at the blueprint. “This isn’t giving us enough to even concoct a plan, much less execute one.”

“We’re not leaving Ace,” Nova repeated, harsher this time. “He wouldn’t leave us.”

The others shared uncertain looks and Nova bristled. “Well, he wouldn’t leave me. And besides. Even if…” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Even if we can’t get to Ace in time, that doesn’t mean we’ve lost. He had a vision, and that vision lives on inside us. The hold the Renegades have over this city is weakening every day, as people are becoming aware of their failures and their hypocrisy. Whatever happens with Ace, we need to keep fighting for the world he believed in!”

Nova shut her mouth as tears began to pool in her vision. Feeling infuriatingly melodramatic, she turned her face away, but there were still words left unsaid. Still a deep loathing that burned in her chest.

It wasn’t just about Ace’s hope for the world—for the freedom and autonomy he felt all prodigies deserved. The right to not be hunted down and killed for what they were, but also the right to use their powers however they wanted, without fear of persecution, even from other prodigies like the Renegades. That was a part of it—it had always been a part of why she fought at Ace’s side.

But the deeper reason she hated the Renegades, and had always hated them, was because they had not come to her rescue when she needed them most. They had sworn to protect her family, and they had failed. Her parents were dead. Her little sister, Evie, was dead. Nova would be dead, too, if she hadn’t used her powers to put the assassin to sleep. Ace had found her standing over his unconscious body, trying, but unable, to pull the trigger on her family’s killer.

All because of the Renegades and their empty promises.

She would not forgive it. And she would not let it happen to anyone else. People believed that the Renegades could save them, but they were wrong. The Renegades made mistakes. They broke their promises. They lied.

And they could not be left to rule the world unchecked.

“All right,” Honey said, once their mutual silence had stretched thin. “We’ll try it your way, little Nightmare.” She tipped her chin toward the blueprint. “But we all know your secrets won’t last much longer. We should probably have a contingency plan in place, for when you’re discovered.”

Leroy nodded. “I’ve been thinking that, too. If Nova is found out, we’ll need to leave this house and destroy as much evidence as possible that we were ever here. And as it so happens, I’ve been working on just the thing. A cocktail of chemicals that, when combined, will decimate nearly everything they touch. It would at least keep the Renegades from combing through our stuff once we’re gone.”

“Fine,” said Nova. “If necessary, we’ll take what we need, destroy everything else, and go into hiding.”

A loud thump from the second floor drew their attention to the water-stained ceiling. Nova’s body tensed and she felt the rest of her companions go still, except for Phobia, who dissolved into a cloud of inky black smoke and swirled like a hurricane toward the staircase.

Grabbing the nearest weapon—a rather dull knife from the kitchen drawer—Nova charged after him with Leroy and Honey close behind. But when she reached the bedroom that she and Honey shared, she saw only Phobia awaiting her amid the bees and wasps. Honey’s creatures were always coming and going through the small window, which was left cracked open to allow them freedom, even when torrential rains soaked the rotting windowsill, as happened more and more as autumn tipped toward winter.

Phobia’s cloaked presence felt like a black hole in the center of the room. He was facing Honey’s vanity, one skeletal hand idly spinning the blade of his scythe.

Nova’s feet paused on the matted carpet. Honey and Leroy crowded beside her.

Nothing on the vanity appeared to have been disturbed, though it was difficult to tell, as the mess of makeup and costume jewelry was generally disheveled. Among them was a mason jar, its lid newly cluttered with bobby pins and a single rhinestone earring. Inside was the monarch butterfly, currently hanging upside down from the lid. Traces of dust from its wings were streaked along the inside of the jar from its attempts to get free, and four yellow wasps were picking their way around the lid, trying to get at the tasty snack inside.

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