Home > Supernova (Renegades #3)(10)

Supernova (Renegades #3)(10)
Author: Marissa Meyer

“Right. It’s fine.” She cleared her throat. “I’m just not used to people sneaking up on me.”

It was a bit of an understatement. How had she not heard him come up behind her?

The answer came to her a second later. In the weeks she’d known Callum, she’d never not heard him. If he wasn’t pushing around a squeaky-wheeled cart laden with artifacts, then he was jabbering away in the incessant way he had, somehow managing to be both charming and obnoxious at the same time.

“I wasn’t sure you’d be in today.” Callum cocked his head, and she realized he was trying to see the folded letter in her hand.

“Why wouldn’t I have come in? I was on the schedule.”

He met her gaze and held it for a beat too long before his smile returned. “I must have forgot.”

Callum’s expression wasn’t judgmental, per se, but there was something amiss. Something suspicious.

Something very un-Callum-like.

Nova gripped her own smile like a weapon, already concocting a lie about the letter in her hand.

But he didn’t ask about it.

That was stranger than anything. The fact that he still wasn’t talking.

“Oh!” she said, feigning a gasp. “I heard about your run-in with Nightmare. Are you okay?”

One side of his mouth twitched. “Yeah, yeah. She did her sleep thing on me. You know, I’ve heard that a lot of people have killer headaches after she’s put them to sleep, but I was fine. Felt pretty well rested the next day, actually.”

“Oh … well, that’s good.” Nova hoped she sounded confused. “Maybe you’re just more resilient than the rest of us.”

Or maybe I was being nice.

“I seriously doubt that.” His brow furrowed, the grin fading for real this time. “Is it weird to think that maybe she was going easy on me?”

Nova guffawed. It was as fake as she feared it would be. “Nightmare, go easy on someone? That seems out of character.”

“Yeah, I know.” He squinted, inspecting Nova like he knew something. Her pulse thundered. “I know this sounds weird,” he added, “but she seemed familiar.”

Nova’s eyebrows worked their way toward her hairline. “Funny you should say that,” she said, lowering her voice in what she hoped would inspire conspiratorial confidence. “It might not be as weird as you think.”

He blinked, and for a moment he looked like a startled rabbit ready to bolt. She knew he suspected her. That he was well aware of why Nightmare would seem familiar.

But she had to convince him otherwise.

“My patrol unit had a meeting yesterday,” she said, crossing the room to him. His posture was a study of both curiosity and nerves. He should have been wary of being so close to her. If he really did believe she was Nightmare, then he knew how dangerous she could be. How easily she could put him to sleep again. Though maybe that’s what he was hoping she would do.

It would certainly prove his suspicions.

“Adrian has a theory,” she went on. “And at first it seemed a little far-fetched, but now I’m not so sure.”

Callum’s shoulders sank as it became clear that this was not about to become a confession. “What sort of theory?”

“About Nightmare. He’s been investigating her for months now, ever since the attack at the parade. He’s compiled a shocking amount of information and … well.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. Callum leaned in closer. “He thinks she might actually be a Renegade.”

He said nothing. After another strangely silent moment, she saw him become suspicious again. Trying to see right through her.

Finally, he said, simply, “Oh yeah?”

“I wasn’t sure at first, but when Adrian started listing all the coincidences … like that she knew about the helmet, and had access to Agent N … and oh! The mist-missiles? It kind of starts to make sense, right? What if she’s a spy?”

His head cocked to one side. “What if she’s a spy.”

“It would explain a lot.”

“Yeah. It would.”

“So … you think Adrian could be right?”

Callum opened his mouth, but hesitated. Where she had sensed certainty before, she could sense it faltering now. A fault of his own optimism. His belief in humanity.

She realized that Callum didn’t want her to be Nightmare. He was searching for a reason to doubt his own suspicions.

It was the crack she needed to find.

“Callum?” she said again. “Do you think she could be a spy?”

“I think it’s possible, yeah.”

She let herself appear worried. “Then it should be easy to figure out who it is, right?” She gestured toward the front reception area. “We can go through the rental history. Figure out who might have shown interest in those mist-missiles. We could go over some of the security tapes. Whoever she is, she must have left a path. Some clues we can follow. Ruby suggested she could be a recent recruit, but I think it’s more likely to be a civilian. Someone who’s pretending she doesn’t have superpowers at all.”

“She’s short,” said Callum.

Nova’s words, whatever rambling thing she was going to say next, evaporated on her tongue. “Excuse me?”

Callum was close to Adrian’s height himself, and Nova had never sensed how much he looked down on her, literally, until that moment. But that wasn’t unusual. Practically everyone was taller than her. “She’s short,” he repeated. “Like you.”

Her mouth opened. Closed. She tried again. “That’s … good information. That will help narrow it down. I’ll see if we can get more details out of Genissa Clark and her team, too. Compare notes. Um … was there anything else you noticed about Nightmare? Anything that could help us … pinpoint her…?”

He stared at her. Really stared.

And she could feel the words hanging between them. It’s you, it’s you, it has to be you.

But it was eclipsed with doubt, and then a self-conscious grin. “I don’t know. It was pretty dark and … it all happened really fast. Plus, you know, she has the mask.”

“Of course. But if you think of something…”

“I’ll let you know,” he said. “I’ll definitely let you know.”

“Okay. Great. And I’ll mention the height thing to Adrian. I think they keep pretty good health records on all the patrol units, and those might include measurements, so we can start there. Thanks, Callum. That’s helpful.”

She started to walk away, the sheet of paper crinkling between her fingers.

But just before slipping out the door, she paused and turned back. Her expression softened. “You know, I really am glad you’re okay.”

* * *

On the uppermost floor of Renegade Headquarters, standing beneath a massive blown-glass chandelier, beside an enormous painting that captured the falsified death of Ace Anarchy, Nova handed the memo to Prism, the personal receptionist to the Council. Rainbow-colored lights danced over the desk, reflected off Prism’s crystal fingers, as she unfolded the paper and read through the note.

She frowned. Not suspicious, but confused. “Snapshot wants you to take the forgery down to the artifacts department?”

“She’s worried that having it on public display right now will create unnecessary drama,” Nova explained. “Given the theft of the real helmet, people are going to become curious about the forgery. Some might feel that the Council’s been lying to them all this time, telling them the helmet was destroyed.” Because they had, Nova added silently to herself. “Snapshot feels it would be prudent to keep the forgery out of the public eye until the real helmet has been recovered … or until the Council has had time to decide the best course of action.”

Prism considered this for no more than three seconds before she shrugged. “All right, go ahead, then. The case is unlocked.”

CHAPTER SEVEN

NOVA WAS EAGER to put this charade behind her. As soon as she left headquarters with the fake helmet tucked into a plain tote bag, she marched straight for Blackmire Station, one of the defunct stations on the old Gatlon City subway line. She and the Anarchists had lived down there for years following the Day of Triumph, and Nova hadn’t realized quite how much she hated it inside the dank, stifling tunnels until after they’d been chased out by Renegades and forced to seek sanctuary inside the decrepit row house on Wallowridge instead.

Though they hadn’t left by choice, and they never would have left Ace by himself if they could have helped it, she couldn’t deny that the housing situation was an improvement. She wasn’t enthusiastic about going back down there now, but the blackmailer’s instructions could only mean one thing.

QB’S ROOM—BLACKMIRE

Queen Bee’s room, Blackmire station.

Honey, who was known as Queen Bee to most of society, had transformed an old maintenance closet off the main line into her private quarters. It wasn’t cozy—nothing in the tunnels could be described as cozy—but she had done it up as nice as she could, draping scarves on the walls and bringing in a vintage shaded lamp that cast a pleasant glow over the concrete walls. And there had been her hives. Everywhere, hives, and the constant thrum of the bees who had flown agitatedly up to the surface in search of nectar and pollen every day, only to dutifully, if crankily, return to their queen as the sun was setting.

Nova was on edge as she made her way through the tunnel, the path lit by the beam of her flashlight. Her Renegade-issued boots clopped against the train rails. Rats squeaked, their eyes flashing in the light before they scurried into their holes. Familiar aromas accosted her. The musty air. The rank odor of standing water. The faint scent of decades-old urine. It was met with new smells, too. Sulfur and smoke and the acidic tang of Cyanide’s poisons, lingering from the day the Renegades had attacked them.

Beyond the smell of war, and the fact that all their belongings had been confiscated by the Renegades, not much had changed.

   
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