Marked

Marked by Jenny Martin Read Free Book Online

Book: Marked by Jenny Martin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jenny Martin
they’ve erased who I am. They’ve hijacked my identity. But I don’t stop. I push past the nausea and keep watching. I don’t move or make a sound until I see the last feedcast, recorded only hours ago.
    Riot in Biseran Capital.
    There’s a procession, streaming through the Biseran capital. Thousands have gathered for a beloved prince. When the people surge in the streets, fists raised for their Evening Star, I die with them. They cry out for my blood, and I break, biting down on a sob.
    I log out and shut it all down. When I finally check the time, I see I’ve missed the sunrise.

CHAPTER SIX
    ZAIDE’S NO LONGER IN THE COMMUNICATIONS ROOM, BUT HER day shift replacement tells me where Larken’s gone. As the sun climbs, I find him outside camp on the Hill of Kings. He sits on a rock at the top of the silt-veined slope, surrounded by the tombs of his ancestors.
    Despite the stubborn flocks of barden and the crusty layers of bird drip on every grave, on this planet, there is no ground more sacred. For centuries, the Cyanese and the Biseran buried their leaders on this height. As angry as I am, I don’t have the right to raise my voice here. Quietly, I sit beside him. “Why do you let them stay here?”
    He doesn’t tilt my way. Instead, he shrugs. “Let who stay?”
    â€œThe birds.”
    He ignores my question. “Did you find what you were looking for at headquarters?”
    I don’t answer at first. Instead, I squint into the morning sun, so bright it makes my eyes water. I listen to the birds. Their cries knit into one scratching, fluttering shroud of grief-song. The sound is oddly comforting. “He’s taken everything from me,” I say. “My home. My birth parents. Cash. But at least I had my identity.”
    â€œBut you were never Phoenix Vanguard. Not really.”
    â€œThat’s not what I mean. I thought once I escaped, he couldn’t touch who I really am. But now . . .”
    He takes a breath, as if to speak, but I’m not finished yet. “You know what the bounty on my head is? One billion credits, as of last week.”
    â€œAnd you’re surprised? I’d have thought you’d seen that coming.”
    â€œI figured he’d smear my name. But I didn’t expect him to put a gun in my hand and make me Cash’s killer. Millions of people think I did it, Larken. I don’t know how to fight this.”
    Larken doesn’t react. Instead, he stares into the bright haze. When his eyes settle on a single distant, openmouthed crypt, it’s like he can see into it, reading some dead man’s invisible approach. “My grandfather Khed II rests there.”
    â€œParabba mocks you for it.”
    â€œAnd he isn’t completely wrong. My grandfather was insane. Imagine a thousand years of peace, between Cyan and Bisera . . . he helped to destroy that. He plunged us all into the Thirty Years’ War.”
    I pause. The only history I’ve been taught is the version sold on the Sixer feeds. “What happened?”
    â€œThe old man marched across the Strand. Tried to invade the Gap, and the Sixers rushed in to ‘protect’ it for Bisera. Cyan and Bisera haven’t been the same since.”
    I look up at him. “Living here, I think I get it now. It’s not just two countries . . . it’s more like old friends, torn apart.”
    â€œOld friends . . . and families too.”
    I raise an eyebrow. “Your family?”
    â€œThe war dragged on and on. We were blamed for so much. The conflict, the destruction, even the assassination of His Majesty King Mohan.”
    â€œBut Benroyal and Cash’s brother, Dakesh—they were the ones who murdered his father. It wasn’t—”
    Larken cuts me off. “Yes, but my grandfather sneered at Bisera’s loss. In public, he acted all too pleased to see Cash’s father gone. He

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