Home > Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1)(9)

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1)(9)
Pierce Brown

Eo rolls to look at me and traces the steam scars that run like rivers down my chest. Further down she’d find scars from the pitviper along my belly. “Mum used to tell me stories of Andromeda. She’d draw with inks given to her by that Tinpot, Bridge. He always liked her, you know.”

As we lie together, she takes a deep breath and I know she has planned something, saved something to talk about in this moment. This place is leverage.

“You won the Laurel, we all know,” she says to me.

“You needn’t coddle me. I’m not angry any longer. It doesn’t matter,” I say. “After seeing this, none of that matters.”

“What are you talking about?” she asks sharply. “It matters more than ever. You won the Laurel, but they didn’t let you keep it.”

“It doesn’t matter. This place …”

“This place exists, but they don’t let us come here, Darrow. The Grays must use it for themselves. They don’t share.”

“Why should they?” I ask, confused.

“Because we made it. Because it’s ours!”

“Is it?” The thought is foreign. All I possess is my family and myself. Everything else is the Society’s. We didn’t spend the money to send the pioneers here. Without them, we’d be on the dying Earth like the rest of humanity.

“Darrow! Are you so Red that you don’t see what they’ve done to us?”

“Watch your tone,” I say tightly.

Her jaw flexes. “I’m sorry. It’s just … we are in chains, Darrow. We are not colonists. Well, sure we are. But it’s more on the spot to call us slaves. We beg for food. Beg for Laurels like dogs begging for scraps from the master’s table.”

“You may be a slave,” I say very pointedly. “But I am not. I don’t beg. I earn. I am a Helldiver. I was born to sacrifice, to make Mars ready for man. There’s a nobility to obedience.…”

She throws up her hands. “A talking puppet, are you? Spitting out their bloodydamn lines. Your father had the right of it. He might not have been perfect, but he had the right of it.” She grabs a clump of grass and tears it out of the ground. It seems like some sort of sacrilege.

“We have claim over this land, Darrow. Our sweat and blood watered this soil. Yet it belongs to the Golds, to the Society. How long has it been this way? A hundred, a hundred and fifty years of pioneers mining and dying? Our blood and their orders. We prepare this land for Colors that have never shed sweat for us, Colors that sit in comfort on their thrones on distant Earth, Colors that have never been to Mars. Is that something to live for? I’ll say it again, your father had the right of it.”

I shake my head at her. “Eo, my father died before he was even twenty-five because he had the right of it.”

“Your father was weak,” she mutters.

“What the bloodydamn is that supposed to mean?” Blood rises into my face.

“It means he had too much restraint. It means your father had the right dream but died because he would not fight to make it real,” she says sharply.

“He had a family to protect!”

“He was still weaker than you.”

“Careful,” I hiss.

“Careful? This from Darrow, the mad Helldiver of Lykos?” She laughs patronizingly. “Your father was born careful, obedient. But were you? I didn’t think so when I married you. The others say you are like a machine, because they think you know no fear. They’re blind. They don’t see how fear binds you.”

She traces the haemanthus blossom along my collarbone in a sudden show of tenderness. She is a creature of moods. The flower is the same color as the wedding band on her finger.

I roll on an elbow to face her. “Spit it out. What do you want?”

“Do you know why I love you, Helldiver?” she asks.

“Because of my sense of humor.”

She laughs dryly. “Because you thought you could win the Laurel. Kieran told me how you burned yourself today.”

I sigh. “The rat. Always jabbering. Thought that’s what younger brothers were supposed to do, not elders.”

“Kieran was frightened, Darrow. Not for you, like you might be thinking. He was frightened of you, because he can’t do what you did. Boy wouldn’t even think it.”

She always talks circles around me. I hate the abstracts she lives for.

“So you love me because you believe that I think there are things worth the risk?” I puzzle out. “Or because I’m ambitious?”

“Because you’ve a brain,” she teases.

She makes me ask it again. “What do you want me to do, Eo?”

“Act. I want you to use your gifts for your father’s dream. You see how people watch you, take their cues from you. I want you to think owning this land, our land, is worth the risk.”

“How much a risk?”

“Your life. My life.”

I scoff. “You’re that eager to get rid of me?”

“Speak and they will listen,” she urges. “It is that bloody simple. All ears yearn for a voice to lead them through darkness.”

“Grand, so I’ll hang with a troop. I am my father’s son.”

“You won’t hang.”

I laugh too harshly. “So certain a wife I have. I’ll hang.”

“You’re not meant to be a martyr.” Sighing, she lies back in disappointment. “You wouldn’t see the point to it.”

“Oh? Well then, tell me, Eo. What is the point to dying? I’m only a martyr’s son. So tell me what that man accomplished by robbing me of a father. Tell me what good comes of all that bloodydamn sadness. Tell me why it’s better I learned to dance from my uncle than my father.” I go on. “Did his death put food on your table? Did it make any of our lives any better? Dying for a cause doesn’t do a bloodydamn thing. It just robbed us of his laughter.” I feel the tears burning my eyes. “It just stole away a father and a husband. So what if life isn’t fair? If we have family, that is all that should matter.”

She licks her lips and takes her time in replying.

“Death isn’t empty like you say it is. Emptiness is life without freedom, Darrow. Emptiness is living enchained by fear, fear of loss, of death. I say we break those chains. Break the chains of fear and you break the chains that bind us to the Golds, to the Society. Could you imagine it? Mars could be ours. It could belong to the colonists who slaved here, died here.” Her face is easier to see as night fades through the clear roof. It is alive, on fire. “If you led the others to freedom. The things you could do, Darrow. The things you could make happen.” She pauses and I see her eyes are glistening. “It chills me when I think of the things you could do. You have been given so, so much, but you set your sights so low.”

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