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Red Queen: Epilogue

The black void of sleep ebbs away, giving way to life again. My body rocks with motion, and I can sense an engine somewhere. Metal shrieks against metal, scraping at high speed in a noise I vaguely recognize. The Undertrain.

The seat beneath my cheek feels oddly soft, but also tense. Not leather or cloth or concrete, I realize, but warm flesh. It shifts beneath me, adjusting as I move, and my eyes open. What I see is enough to make me think I’m still dreaming.

Cal sits across the train, his posture stiff and tense, fists clenched in his lap. He stares straight ahead, to the person cradling me, and in his eyes is the fire I know so well. The train fascinates him, and his gaze flickers now and then, glancing at the lights and the windows and the wires. He’s itching to examine it, but the person at his side keeps him from moving at all.


The revolutionary, all scars and tension, stands over him. Somehow she survived the slaughter under the Square. I want to smile, to call out to her, but weakness bleeds through me, keeping me still. I remember the storm, the battle of the arena, and all the horrors that came before. Maven. His name makes my heart clench, twisting in anguish and shame. Anyone can betray anyone.

Her gun hangs across her chest, ready to fire on Cal. There are more like her, tensely guarding him. They are broken, wounded, and so few, but they still look menacing. Their eyes never stray from the fallen prince, watching him as a mouse would a cat. And then I see his wrists are bound, shackled in iron that he could easily melt away. But he doesn’t. He just sits there quietly, waiting for something.

When he feels my gaze, his eyes snap to mine. Life sparks in him again.

“Mare,” he murmurs, and some of the hot anger breaks. Some.

My head spins when I try to sit up, but a comforting hand pushes me back down again. “Lie still,” a voice says, a voice I vaguely recognize.

“Kilorn,” I mumble.

“I’m here.”

To my confusion, the old fisher boy pushes his way through the Guardsmen behind Farley. He has scars of his own now, with dirty bandages on his arm, but he stands tall. And he is alive. Just the sight of him sends a flood of relief through me.

But if Kilorn is standing there, with the rest of the Guard, then . . .

My neck turns sharply, moving to look up at the person above me. “Who—?”

The face is familiar, a face I know so well. If I were not already lying down, I would certainly fall. The shock is too much for me to bear.

“Am I dead? Are we dead?”

He’s come to take me away. I died in the arena. This was a hallucination, a dream, a wish, a last thought before dying. We are all dead.

But my brother shakes his head slowly, staring at me with familiar honey-colored eyes. Shade was always the handsome one, and death has not changed that.

“You’re not dead, Mare,” he says, his voice as smooth as I remember. “Neither am I.”

“How?” is all I can manage, sitting back to examine my brother fully. He looks the same as I remember, without the usual scars of a soldier. Even his brown hair is growing out again, shaking off the military cut. I run my fingers through it, to convince myself he’s real.

But he is not the same. Just like you are not the same.

“The mutation,” I say, letting my hand graze his arm. “They killed you for it.”

His eyes seem to dance. “They tried.”

I don’t blink, time doesn’t pass, but he’s moved at a speed beyond my sight, beyond even that of a swift. Now he sits across from me, next to the still-shackled Cal. It’s like he’s shifting through space, jumping from one spot to another in no time at all.

“And failed,” he finishes from his new seat. His grin is wide now, pleasantly amused by my openmouthed stare. “They said they killed me, they told the captains I was dead and my body burned.” Another split second and he’s sitting next to me again, appearing out of thin air. Teleporting. “But they weren’t fast enough. No one is.”

I try to nod, I try to understand his ability, his simple existence, but I can’t comprehend much more than the circle of his arms around me. Shade. Alive and like me.

“What about the others? Mom, Dad—” But Shade stills me with a smile.

“They’re safe and waiting,” he says. His voice breaks a little, overcome with emotion. “We’ll see them soon.”

My heart swells at the thought. But like all my happiness, all my joy and all my hope, it doesn’t last long. My eyes fall on the Guard bristling with weapons, on Kilorn’s scars, on Farley’s tense face and Cal’s bound hands. Cal, who has suffered so much, escaping one prison for another.

“Let him go.” I owe him my life, more than my life. Surely I can give him some comfort here. But no one budges at my words, not even Cal.

To my surprise, he answers before Farley. “They won’t. And they shouldn’t. In fact, you should probably blindfold me, if you really want to be thorough.”

Even though he’s been cast down, thrown out of his own life, Cal can’t change who he is. The soldier is in him still. “Cal, shut up. You’re not a danger to anyone.”

With a scoff, Cal tips his head, gesturing at the train of armed rebels. “They seem to think otherwise.”

“Not to us, I mean,” I add, shrinking back against my seat. “He saved me up there, even after what I did. And after what Maven did to you—”

“Don’t say his name.” His growl is frightful, putting a chill in me, and I don’t miss Farley’s hand tightening around her gun.

Her words slide out between clenched teeth. “No matter what he did for you, the prince is not on our side. And I won’t risk what’s left of us for your little romance.”

Romance. We flinch at the word. There is no such thing between us anymore. Not after what we did to each other, and what was done to us. No matter how much we might want there to be.

“We’re going to keep fighting, Mare, but Silvers have betrayed us before. We won’t trust them again.” Kilorn’s words are softer, a balm to try to help me understand. But his eyes spark at Cal. Obviously he remembers the torture down in the cells and the terrible sight of frozen blood. “He might be a valuable prisoner.”

They don’t know Cal like I do. They don’t know he could destroy them all, that he could escape in a heartbeat if he really wanted. So why does he stay? When he meets my eyes, somehow he answers my question without speaking. The hurt I see radiating from him is enough to break my heart. He is tired. He is broken. And he doesn’t want to fight anymore.

Part of me doesn’t either. Part of me wishes I could submit to chains, to captivity and silence. But I have lived that life already, in the mud, in the shadows, in a cell, in a silk dress. I will never submit again. I will never stop fighting.

Neither will Kilorn. Neither will Farley. We will never stop.

“The others like us . . .” My voice shakes, but I have never felt so strong. “The others like me and Shade.”

Farley nods and pats a hand to her pocket. “I still have the list. I know the names.”

“And so does Maven,” I reply smoothly. Cal twitches at the name. “He’ll use the bloodbase to trace them, and hunt them down.”

Even though the train sways and shakes, twisting over dark tracks, I force myself to my feet. Shade tries to steady me, but I brush his hand away. I must stand on my own.

“He can’t find them before we do.” I raise my chin, feeling the pulse of the train. It electrifies me. “He can’t.”

When Kilorn steps toward me, his face set and determined, his bruises and scars and bandages seem to fade. I think I see the dawn in his eyes.

“He won’t.”

A strange warmth falls over me, a warmth like the sun though we are deep underground. It’s as familiar to me as my own lightning, reaching out to envelop me in an embrace we can’t have. Even though they call Cal my enemy, even though they fear him, I let his warmth fall on my skin, and I let his eyes burn into mine.

Our shared memories flash before me, parading every second of our time together. But now our friendship is gone, replaced by the one thing we still have in common.

Our hatred for Maven.

I don’t need to be a whisper to know we share a thought.

I will kill him.


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