The Illusionists

The Illusionists by Laure Eve

Book: The Illusionists by Laure Eve Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laure Eve
he’d had in months. Surely they should be training him up as a spy? That was what Frith had been doing with his Talented – everyone knew it. But here they didn’t seem to trust the Talented. They saw them less like normal human beings and more like exotic creatures that had to be caged and understood.
    How dare they violate him. How dare they try to chain him. He should refuse. Today should be the day when he told her where to shove her tests.
    She saw it. ‘You’re going to have to make your peace with this, Wren,’ she said, a gentle warning note creeping into her voice. ‘If you want to stay. You’d like eventually to get permanent citizenship; I know you would.’
    More fool you,
he thought savagely.
I’m not your citizen. I don’t belong anywhere.
    But let her think that, if she liked. A practised grumpy expression flittered across his face. She saw it and seemed satisfied.
    He knew better than to ask; she didn’t enjoy his questions. But that had never stopped him before, so he asked.
    â€˜What are you going to do with Rue?’
    He had begun to suspect something for a while now. Greta had never told him exactly why she’d wanted to poach from Angle Tar, or why she’d encouraged him to go for Rue in particular. But he thought that it might have been the same reason that
he
had wanted to take Rue.
    Because of White.
    Greta raised a brow.
    â€˜I’m just curious why you wanted her so much,’ he said, with a light smile. ‘It’s not like she’s amazingly Talented. She can’t even Jump without help.’
    â€˜As I recall, you were rather eager yourself to go after Rue when we found out what she was to White.’ Greta smiled indulgently. ‘Your little feud.’
    He hadn’t bothered to hide it; that was true.
    â€˜It’s not a feud,’ he said, affecting nonchalance. ‘Because it’s over. I don’t care any more. I won.’
    â€˜And what if he ever came after you for revenge? He tried to kill you, didn’t he?’
    Wren felt his chest tighten – the memory of that gun pointed at his face, and White on the other end of it, his eyes freezing cold and black.
    But in front of Greta he yawned, passing his hand lazily over his mouth.
    â€˜Well, I admire your confidence,’ she said.
    â€˜You doubt my Talent?’
    â€˜Not at all. You’re the most Talented boy I’ve seen. Apart from him.’
    Bile flooded his throat, but he choked it down with an easy laugh.
    â€˜Now you’re trying to make me angry.’
    â€˜No, Wren. Just reining in that cockiness of yours. I think you’ve been too long used to power. People like you need people like him to remind you of your own mortality. You keep each other in check.’
    Greta laughed, the noise like a fluting bird. Venomous snake. Inside his head he thrashed and raged. He crossed his arms but said no more. He’d lost this round. She was a hard one to play the game with. Some opponents were more formidable than others. But everyone did it, manipulating where they could, all out for what they could get. If he faltered, he would lose. Only the weak lost.
    â€˜Shall we begin today’s set?’ she said, nodding at the two technicians standing patiently in the corner of the room. They came forward and began to fiddle with a small set of machines on a table next to Wren’s test bed. He’d stopped watching them prepare by now – he couldn’t even begin to fathom how any of their equipment worked.
    â€˜Begin procedure one,’ said the fatter technician, and he waved his hand in a curt gesture, activating something in Life that only he could see.
    The air over Wren’s body felt suddenly heavy and strange.
    It was like being stroked, at first.
    Such a light touch as to just raise the hairs on his skin and brush them, gently, gently.
    Then the touch grew a little heavier, more pressing than stroking.

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