Unremarkable anything bu.., p.12
Unremarkable (Anything But Series Book 2), page 12
“It was all lies.”
“What was all lies?”
Excitement sparked through his pale blue eyes and made them almost silver in color. “Everything you think you know. It’s all lies. Only I know the truth, only I know what is truly going on.”
“You said you don’t lie.”
“Of course you did,” she said, unfazed by the admission. “When have you ever told the truth?”
“There is always a little bit of truth, even inside the lies.”
“So what has been true and what has been lies?” She stared at him, her gaze challenging. “You don’t know what I am.”
“I was unconscious six months.”
“True. But not because you were healing. You healed a long time ago.”
Swallowing thickly, she asked, “My mom and sister; they’re okay?”
He inclined his head. “For now.”
She couldn’t dwell on that or she would freak out. Honor took a deep breath. “And letting me go? You never explained why you allowed that to happen.”
“Letting you go out into society—it was a test. And you passed.”
“Yes, to see if you were stronger than the need inside you to destroy. You are. You have it in you; that much I can see, but you are in control of your actions. You are the prototype of what I want the others to become. You are what I have diligently worked years, decades, toward, and have had fail each and every time, but no more. With your DNA, I can do so much more. I gave you a purpose, a reason to exist. I gave you this life. It is a gift.”
“What am I?” Honor held her breath as she waited for a reply.
“You are my creation.” He smiled proudly and her stomach dropped. If she was something he was happy about, she didn’t want to be it.
“So you have a Dr. Frankenstein complex? Didn’t see that one coming. What exactly is your creation? What am I? You didn’t answer.”
He continued to talk, and as he did, Honor realized that wasn’t the only complex he had. “At first I didn’t think anything would come of it; that you might not survive, or might not show any results, but then you changed, got stronger over the months, metamorphosed into what you now are. You should thank me, really, for making you what you are. You’re so much better than the others; a UDK with UD strengths.” A gleam shone in his eyes, one that made her spine prickle.
“What exactly did you do to me?” She didn’t really want to know; she had to know.
“All in good time.”
“What if…I had failed the test?”
His shoulders rose and lowered. “Then there would be less renegades to contend with. Either way, I couldn’t lose.” He motioned with his head. “It’s time for some blood work.”
She edged into the room, staying near the wall and away from the table. That table symbolized pain and control.
“What if I had turned on you?”
His smile was wide, leering. “You wouldn’t. You won’t.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I have a secret you want to know.” August moved so that his face was close to hers.
Her eyes went to his wounded cheek, her breath leaving her in a small gasp.
“See something out of the ordinary?” he whispered, the coldness of his gaze chilling her.
Honor dragged her eyes from the recently healed flesh, her legs weak beneath her. “What are you?” Dizzy, she put a hand out to steady herself, quickly snatching it away when it met the chilly metal of the table.
“I’m you. Or rather, you are me.” He straightened, smoothing back his shiny gray hair. “I need your blood. Get on the table. Now. I don’t need much, just a smidge.” His hand, vice-like and cool, wrapped around her arm and she was pulled farther into the room.
“Sit.” August slammed her onto the table, turning his back on her as he reached into a drawer. “Don’t try anything stupid. There are agents outside the door waiting for one word from me to come in here and subdue you.” He glanced over his shoulder at her. “They enjoy that, you know.”
A rubber band was wrapped around her forearm and tied off, causing the veins in her arm to bulge. “Make a fist,” he commanded, coming at her with a needle and syringe.
“Why do you need my blood?” she asked, watching him get closer.
“Your blood is the future.”
The needle jabbed into her vein and Honor went still at the sharp pain and tugging sensation. The small tube quickly filled with deep red liquid. August tenderly patted the puncture mark in her arm, Honor’s brows lowering as she watched him.
He walked to the door and knocked on it, calling out, “Bring him in.”
She straightened; her pulse picking up as the blond boy, as baby-faced as the first time she saw him, was brought in. She remembered him; he was on that mental list of names she kept inside her head: Scott Everson. It seemed like it had been years from when she had tried to come to his rescue. His brown eyes were large, out of focus. An agent stood on either side of him, appearing to hold him up. He wore the customary white clothing of a recruit, his body gaunt beneath the garbs. Where had he been all that time, all those months?
“What’s going on? What are you going to do to him?” she demanded, reaching out to halt August.
His eyes narrowed on her hand. “I’m going to make him better.” He turned to a UDK. “Make sure she doesn’t interfere.” When the agent moved toward Honor, August asked, “Ready for the show?”
“No.” Her eyes went from August to the agents to Scott. “Don’t do this. Whatever you’re going to do, don’t do it. I’ll do anything you want, just don’t hurt him.”
“So dramatic. You have nothing left to bargain with. You’re already doing what I want in exchange for your family’s continued safety.” He chuckled. “I’m not going to hurt him. As I said, I’m going to make him better. Watch.”
Scott was roughly set on the table, his body limp. His head rolled to the side, his eyes disoriented as they landed on her face. Even so, she swore she saw pleading in that gaze. Heart pounding, she stared at the monster pretending to be a man, knowing she had to stop him and not sure how. August grabbed his arm, the needle getting closer and closer to his flesh, and Honor instinctively reacted, tackling him from behind. His body was unmovable, but his hand jerked just enough. The needle and syringe were knocked out of his grip, her blood spilling out onto the white floor, coloring it in a deep red.
“You stupid girl,” August spit out. Twisting around, he shoved her with enough force to make her stumble back and fall against the wall across the room.
“I’m trying to show you the future!” he roared as he came at her, slamming a fist into the wall near her head. He took a deep breath, his eyes going to the agents. “Get out of here. You’re worthless.”
Honor went still as his silvery blue eyes met hers. He stared at her, not moving, not speaking, for so long it seemed he was in a trance. He could kill you. He could kill you now and there is nothing you could do about it. She saw it in his eyes. He was weighing the odds, wondering if whatever he wanted to use her for was worth the trouble she created. She had the crazy thought Nealon would be showing up at any time to save her, but then reality hit her and she knew that wasn’t true.
“It would appear,” he began conversationally, “that I require more of your blood. We can do this over and over again, or we can do it now and get it over with, because you know eventually I will win. I always do. Which is it?”
His breath, stagnant and decaying, hit her and Honor turned her head away.
“I thought so.” His fingers dug into her forearm, the nails sinking into her skin as he dragged her toward the middle of the room.
She watched Scott as the blood was drawn again, the jab of the needle extra forceful the second time. Scott was struggling for coherency, his lips moving but no words coming out. He tried to move his
August’s gaze collided with hers. “You try anything this time and I will cut off the pinky and index finger on your sister’s right hand while your mother watches. We’ll see how much she’s drawing after that.” The evenness of his tone was enough to convince Honor he meant what he said. “Now, stand there, and watch.”
I’m sorry, she silently told Scott as August put the needle in his arm and emptied the syringe, her life force filling his arteries. I’m so sorry. She’d only wanted to help people, not hurt them, or have them hurt as a result of her. Self-loathing crippled her, sliding through her veins in massive doses of inadequacy as Scott’s eyes rolled back in his head and his body convulsed. It sickened her; seeing what flowed through her body was capable of doing to someone.
Honor wanted to look away and forced herself not to. She had to see it to completion. After all, she was partly to blame. It was her blood in him; it was her blood doing whatever it was doing to him. She was beginning to see she was inadvertently a weapon, simply by existing. Nealon had been right. He was always right. Thinking of him hurt and so she forced herself to stop, focusing on the boy spread out on the table instead.
Scott’s body went still, finally, after agonizing minutes of seizing. His eyes were closed, his breathing even. It looked like he was sleeping. She glanced at August and he motioned for her to keep quiet and watch; his expression gleeful, maniacal. She turned her attention back to Scott as his body contorted, the veins in his arms and neck bulging, a pain-filled bellow leaving him.
She started for him, only thinking of soothing him somehow. August shook his head, putting his arm out to block her. Scott’s form lifted from the table, then slammed down on it, his breaths fast and uneven. His features became more angular, his muscles more defined. Horror and misgivings kept her frozen, her brain unable to accept what she was seeing. He was transforming into something within minutes and from her blood.
“What is in my—”
Scott’s eyelids flew open, his gaze settling unwaveringly on her. Her throat thickened and she couldn’t speak. There was no recognition in his eyes, though they blazed with something she recognized: hatred. Honor didn’t know if she’d ever been looked at with such detestation before. Was it because he knew it was her fault he’d been turned into whatever he was, or was it a more generalized dislike—say; of anything that lived?
“There you go,” August breathed.
“What?” She looked at the superior, dismayed to find no alarm on his face. There was nothing but awe in the crevices and dips of his craggy features, as though that, whatever had just happened, had been his goal all along.
“What happened to him?”
He slowly backed away, palms out. “Not the exact results I’d been hoping for, but as the blood administered caused a change, a positive nonetheless. This could go either way. Don’t talk too loudly or move too suddenly.”
She didn’t have to. Honor looked at Scott and apparently that was enough aggravation. He was sitting up and how he managed that within the seconds she turned her attention to August and back was beyond her. The blankness of his face caused an ache in her chest. Where was he, the person inside the being approaching her? She feared the real Scott was gone.
He was frighteningly fixated on her, not even glancing in August’s direction. “Scott,” she croaked, falling back a step. “Are you okay?” His head tilted, but no words left his mouth.
Honor shifted her eyes toward August. “What did you do to him? What’s wrong with him?”
“Nothing is wrong with him. No matter what is to come, I improved him.”
“How can you say that?” she cried, looking at the wrecked boy who’d been so scared to be a UDK, who’d only wanted to go home, and months later, he was ruined, destroyed. He would never go home. He probably hadn’t been home since he was recruited. Just a boy—he was just a boy. Honor’s eyes watered and she blinked it away, a shaking breath expelling from her lungs.
“Don’t let it control you,” she whispered when he stopped before her. “Remember what I told you at the UD facility? You don’t have to let it control you. You’re in charge. You’re in control, not whatever is inside you.”
Hands rose to her neck, closed around it, and began to squeeze. His eyes were dead. Even as she stared into them, seeing nothing, knowing it was too late, that abhorrent emotion kept her from giving up on him: hope.
“Fight, Honor. Fight or be killed,” August said from somewhere in the room.
I should die. I should die and then I can’t be used anymore. Even as her eyelids slid shut and the pressure around her throat became excruciating, Honor knew she wouldn’t. She wasn’t programmed that way. Maybe she should start. It would be so easy. Her arms slackened, her head limp above the strong fingers digging into her flesh.
“Fight back,” August hissed. “Fight back or your mother and sister are dead. Fight back.”
Her eyes snapped open and drilled into the empty ones staring back at her. “I’m sorry,” she said to an unrecognizable creature.
It didn’t really matter if she was sorry or not; the person she was apologizing to wasn’t human anymore. He’s not human. Her hands gripped his and pulled, her teeth gritting as she struggled. It’s not Scott. Her knee slammed into his groin, the heel of her foot smashing onto the top of his. Scott is dead. His grip loosened as a small grunt left him. That was the only sound he made. He was like a robot, just as Honor thought of most UDKs. She sucked in a gasping breath when her throat was able to expand once again, but immediately she was ducking as a fist swung at her face.
“Kill or be killed, Honor. Those are your choices.” August sounded so calm, as though he was observing a television show and not reality—unattached and indifferent.
Jaw clenched, she hopped back as his left and right clenched hands came at her, one after the other. She blocked a jab to her stomach and another to her neck, falling back against the table, the metal cutting into the backs of her thighs, her back hitting the top of it as her knees involuntarily bent. Scott lunged for her and Honor kicked her leg out, tripping him. He fell, his forehead hitting the edge of the table as he went down. He shook his head, dazed, blood trailing down his forehead in a thin line, the cut beneath it closing as she watched. Renewed determination took over his features as he stood.
“Stop playing around and finish it.”
“I’m not killing him,” she snapped, jerking back as another fist came at her, clipping her jaw. It throbbed once, twice, and then faded.
“Why are you doing this? You don’t have to do this. Stop. Please.” Her words didn’t sink in; bouncing off whatever unfeeling shield had been placed over Scott’s emotions.
When the door clicked shut and Honor realized August had deserted them—not that he’d been offering much support anyway, unless encouraging words of committing murder counted—dread tidal-waved over her and wouldn’t ease away. She wanted to run to the door and break free, but she knew it would be locked. He’d made it impossible for both of them to survive; it was either kill or be killed. Hatred slithered through her veins, icing her insides with it.
He would die. August would die and she would be the one to do it. She couldn’t even feel remorse or hesitation about it. It had to be done.
“Kill him, Honor,” his voice, sounding like gravel, called from an intercom.
Her jaw clenched. “No.”
“You’ll change your mind eventually,” was the confident response.
The words sounded ominous, but she couldn’t dwell on them for too long as Scott was coming for her again, the syringe and needle used to eradicate all the good in him now clenched tightly within his fist. She couldn’t kill him, but she w
His eyes flashed as his nostrils flared and an inhuman growl came from Scott’s mouth. She wanted to weep—not out of fear, but out of sorrow at what she was looking at. His hand knotted in her hair and yanked her head back, incontrollable rage stamped into a face that was abnormally altered.
The syringe came at her face and her elbow shot up, connecting hard with his nose. A crunching sound ensued and strangely, sorrowfully, she thought of Ryder. Renewed energy sparked in her, her body taut with fortitude. She dropped to her knees, strands of hair tearing from her scalp, her eyes stinging at the sharp pain, and punched Scott in the groin again, wincing at his shout of outrage and agony even as satisfaction unfurled inside Honor. If she could tire him out, maybe he would eventually pass out. It would be a small reprieve and probably wouldn’t last long, but it was all she had to look forward to.
Hours spent ducking and weaving and going on the offensive had Honor barely able to move. Scott wasn’t worn down, not even slightly. Something was telling her to give up. It would be logical. She was trapped, huddled under a sink with cabinets on either side of her. He was toying with her, watching her with his creepy lifeless eyes. True, she didn’t need to eat or drink or sleep as much as she used to, but all of that had caught up with her, and her eyelids drooped, even with death staring at her, sitting with his back against the table, patiently waiting her out.
August had been silent for a long time. Maybe even he had given up on her. Honor had the thought at the same time the slot in the door slid open. Scott lifted his head, but didn’t look away from her. A blade, large and caked in red, clattered to the floor. Two fingers, small and pale and bloody, fell through the opening immediately after that.
Disbelief widened her eyes and then the horror set in. Everything inside her tightened, pulsed with grief, and then erupted. One word ricocheted through her head, pounding in beat with her heart: Scarlet Scarlet Scarlet.
by Lindy Zart have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes