Born of Night (Page 30)

Born of Night (The League #1)(30)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

“And had he done that, princess, you’d be dead right now and so would I.” His eyes blazed with indignant fury as he took a step toward her. “Believe me, baby, no one ran harder or faster from their past than I did. And in one moment, one f**king whore brought it all home and laid it back at my feet. Even though I’d clawed my way out of the gutter, turned my back on everyone and everything I’d ever known and become respectable. Even though I’d buried my past so deep that I thought I was untouchable. It didn’t matter. I was still shit to the world and the moment the woman I’d sold my soul to saw me for what I was, she ruined me and left me with nothing except the drunken bitterness you see now. You want to know why I drink? It’s because I can’t escape my past and I hate what I am. What I was forced to endure just to survive.”

He raked a scathing glare over her body. “I hate this f**king life and, most of all, I hate people like you who can’t see past the surface. You judge us on one deed alone without seeing all the other things we are. Damn you for that, Kiara Zamir. Had I known you were just like everyone else, I would have left you chained in Chenz’s ship.” Curling his lip in repugnance, he turned and headed back down the hallway. “Do whatever you want. But stay away from me.”

Those words struck her like blows. Kiara wanted to chase him down and apologize, but he was too angry at her for that. Besides, she’d done nothing wrong. Anyone would have been horrified at the way Nykyrian mowed down those men.

And since she didn’t know what Syn was capable of—if he was worse than Nykyrian—she decided it would be best to give him room.

So, instead, she went into the library to see if Nykyrian had something she could read. Turning the light up, she was stunned by the number of languages represented on the black shelves that lined all four walls from floor to ceiling. She dragged her finger down the leather spines until she reached the trophy cabinet.

Her jaw went slack. There were trophies for sharpshooting, flying, and archery, knife throwing, language translations, and commendations for his service to The League. But the one most stunning was his commission certificate.

To the youngest being to ever reach the rank of Command Assassin.

The words leapt out at her. But more than the words was the fact that it, along with all the other awards, had no name listed on the certificate. They were all given to Hybrid Andarion.

Hybrid Andarion . . .

Not even that cold piece of paper recognized the fact that Nykyrian was human . . .

Hybrid Andarion was also listed on his certificate of completion for The League’s prestigious Pontari Academy. A sad smile curved her lips as she saw a notation that he’d graduated with honors and at the top of his class.

But it made her heart ache to know that no one had thought enough of Nykyrian to give him a name.

Wincing at that harsh reality, she turned and left the library. In the hallway, she paused outside the clear door that showed his weapons room. She’d never seen a more comprehensive collection. A testament to his brutal trade.

She clenched her teeth and moved up the hallway toward the media room.

Syn was in the office on the computer.

Deciding to avoid him, she ducked into the media room and closed the door. Maybe she’d be able to find something to occupy her mind and allow her to forget the nightmare of this day.

Completely windowless, the room was painted dark brown, trimmed in black. Black speakers lined the walls, but there were no pictures anywhere—in fact Nykyrian had nothing on any of his walls. What a strange thing, given how much art Syn collected.

A long, dark brown couch was set before the huge screen. The media case and player were to the right.

With a heavy sigh, she walked to the cabinet, opened the glass door, and flipped through Nykyrian’s vid collection.

A half smile curved her lips as she realized several discs were of her past performances. He hadn’t been lying when he said he was a fan. For some reason that made no sense, a small thrill went through her.

And since she couldn’t stand to see herself perform, because all she could do was find fault with everything she did, she pushed them aside to see what else he had.

Most were action or horror movies and true crime programs she couldn’t stand to watch.

But under those . . .

It was a box labeled private. Opening it up, her heart stopped. The overhead light made the discs sparkle in a bright rainbow of colors. Her conscience told her to put them back, that she had no right to pry into his past, but she was too compelled to see what they contained. Her private discs were recitals and birthday parties. What were his?

Tucking her conscience away, Kiara inserted her handful into the machine. She picked up the control and switched on the viewer. She plopped down on the sofa to see just what his horrible secrets were.

The first vid was in a sterile hospital room. She wasn’t sure who or what was lying on the bed with padded restraints around wrists and ankles. She couldn’t even tell the gender or age of the patient. The patient had a leather mask fastened around the face, obscuring everything except the eyes. The patient’s head was bald and a doctor was making notes on a ledger while the tense patient watched her with wary eyes.

The doctor went to touch the patient’s leg. A shriek of rage was followed by the patient trying to move the leg away from her grasp.

“It’s all right, boy. I’m not going to hurt you.”

He screamed and fought like a wild animal, regardless of her assurances.

“Why don’t you sedate him?”

The doctor turned as Huwin Quiakides entered the room. Tall and slender, he was younger than Kiara had remembered him. His handsome face was marked with a cold, calculating look.

“I tried earlier and he had some . . . interesting side effects.”

Horror filled her as she realized this was Nykyrian as a child.

The commander moved forward to look down at the leather mask. “I thought you were going to remove that.”

“We tried.”

“But?”

“He’s worn it for so long that parts of it have fused with his skin. It’s literally grown into his face.” She moved closer to show the commander. “As you can see, part of his skin around it is also infected. Removing it will require minor surgery and right now, we can’t figure out a way to put him under with normal anesthesia.”

Kiara felt sick as she realized now what the scars on Nykyrian’s face had come from.

“Then cut it off while he’s conscious.”

Kiara’s stomach jerked in response to the heartless order.

“Yes, sir.” The doctor made a note.

Huwin moved to touch Nykyrian’s face.

Nykyrian thrashed about, trying to get away or to attack. It was hard to tell. But there was no denying his ferocious anger.

Huwin smiled. “Look at him. Like some wild animal trying to tear me apart. I couldn’t ask for a better specimen.”

Kiara gasped at the sick pride in the commander’s voice. It was a child he spoke about, not some specimen.

The doctor swallowed. “Commander, I’m not sure about your plans where he’s concerned.”

He turned on her with a scowl so severe, she took a step back. “What do you mean?”

“He’s really . . .” The doctor paused as if trying to find the correct word. “Damaged.”

“And you will repair him.”

The doctor looked skeptical. “Sir, I don’t think you realize the extent of what’s been done to him. He’s had multiple compound fractures over a period of years and none of them were ever set. His right arm alone will have to be rebroken in eight places and reset. It might never work right again.”

The doctor lifted Nykyrian’s fingers even while he struggled against her. “They’ve crudely torn his nails out. I assume the nails must have been Andarion hence the removal, but for an Andarion taking the nails is like amputating a limb. His fingers are completely deformed now. And I can’t even begin to count how many times his hands have been broken. It looks like someone stomped on them repeatedly. As you can see from his movements, he can’t even make a fist.”

While Kiara was ill from the disclosure, the commander appeared completely unaffected. “All of that can be fixed. Is there anything else?”

“Just the severe malnutrition, dehydration, and starvation.”

Just? Kiara shook her head at the woman’s blase tone.

Huwin handed the doctor a small collar. “Make sure you put this on him as soon as you can.”

“What is this?”

“It’s a training collar we use on League soldiers. It’ll make it so that we won’t have to restrain him.” He handed over a small silver box. “And I want him tagged as soon as possible, too—just in case he tries to run.”

The doctor bowed. “Yes, sir.” Then she left him alone with Nykyrian.

Huwin picked up the ledger from the bedside table. He smirked at the notes. “Parents unknown. Age unknown. Name unknown. Hmmm . . . I wonder if you know any of that?”

Nykyrian didn’t answer. He merely stared at him with raw hatred.

The commander smiled cruelly. “You, hybrid, are going to be the greatest legacy I can give to The League. When I finish with you, you will be unrivaled in skill and savagery.” He reached for Nykyrian’s mask.

Nykyrian bucked and fought.

The commander laughed. “Just look at you. You’re already halfway there.”

Cringing and unable to take it, Kiara clicked to the next disc.

It showed Nykyrian in his mid-teens, at school. He sat alone outside under a tree, reading from an electronic reader. There were other kids all around him, socializing and laughing. Dressed in plain black clothes and with this white hair cropped short, Nykyrian looked beautiful except for the left side of his face, which was discolored from healing bruises. The scars on his face from the leather mask were a bit more prominent then than they were now.

A boy was shoved down not far from him.

“C’mon you little nadico, give us your credits.” Kiara flinched at the harsh condemnation of the boy’s manhood.

The boy cringed, trying to escape. “Leave me alone, Aksel. I gave you everything this morning.”

“Bullshit!” Aksel kicked him hard in the groin.

The boy started crying as he tried to crawl away.

“Let me!” Another boy came forward to kick him in the same place. This boy was Arast.

When Arast moved to kick again, Nykyrian launched himself at him and sent him flying.

Aksel turned on Nykyrian with a laugh. “The freak wants some more. What’s the matter, we didn’t beat you bad enough last night?”

Nykyrian started forward, but Aksel held his arm up to show him a control bracelet. “You know you can’t hit me, ass**le. Not as long as you’re collared like a dog.” He looked at the boy Nykyrian had shoved. “Get him, Ari.”

Arast launched himself at Nykyrian, who was now powerless to fight back.

Kiara couldn’t breathe as she watched the virulent hatred of the two of them stomping and beating Nykyrian.

It seemed like forever before a male teacher came forward to stop them.

“What’s going on here?”

Aksel gestured to the boy he’d attacked initially. “The hybrid was bullying Terrence. Arast and I stopped it.”

Nykyrian pushed himself up into a sitting position. His nose and mouth were bleeding profusely. But his eyes were completely dry. He wiped a trembling hand over his nose, smearing the blood across his cheek.

The teacher snatched Nykyrian up by his arm. “What have we told you about fighting?”

Nykyrian glared at Aksel and Arast, but said nothing in defense of himself.

“You should call our father and let him know. He said he wanted to be notified if the hybrid got into trouble again.”

Nykyrian’s face paled three shades.

“Don’t worry, we will.”

Kiara was baffled by Nykyrian’s actions. Why wouldn’t he tell them the truth? Why didn’t Terrence tell them what had happened? Couldn’t they have simply watched the video?

Instead Nykyrian was taken to the administrator’s office where he was spanked with a metal paddle.

And when the commander arrived, Nykyrian, still bleeding, was hauled to his feet by his hair. He didn’t even grimace. The commander thanked the staff for letting him know what had happened.

“Wait until I get you home,” he promised Nykyrian in a tone so threatening it raised chills on her arms.

But it was the empty resignation on Nykyrian’s young face that brought tears to her eyes.

God, what more had he suffered?

She clicked to another file.

This one was also of Nykyrian in school. It was a camera shot of the academy’s cafeteria. Even though it was packed with students, Nykyrian sat alone in the corner with no one around him, eating a sandwich while he read from the same electronic reader set on the table in front of him.

One side of his head had been shaved and a row of stitches marked the skin from the top of his ear to his eyebrow. His right arm bore a cast and was held to his side in a dark blue sling. He looked terrible and it was obvious from his slow movements and grimaces as he ate and read that he was in a lot of pain.