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Authors: Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order

BOOK: The Mime Order
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The Mime Order

The Mime Order

Samantha Shannon

For the fighters—

and the writers

Mimes, in the form of God on high,

Mutter and mumble low,

And hither and thither fly—

Mere puppets they, who come and go

At bidding of
vast formless things

 

Edgar Allan Poe

Contents

Map of I-5

A Note to the Reader

PART I - The Rogue Dial

1
Alight

2
Long Story

3
Then There Were Five

4
Grub Street

5
Weaver

6
Seven Dials

7
Under the Rose

8
On the Devil’s Acre

9
The Bloody King

PART II - The Rephaite Revelation

Interlude

10
Ding Dong Bell

11
Urban Legend

12
Fool’s Errand

13
Thief

14
Arcturus

15
The Minister’s Cat

16
Flower and Flesh

17
Gambler

18
The Patron’s Puppet

19
Ciuleandra

PART III - The Monarch Days

Interlude

20
Misprints

21
Symbiosis

22
The Grey Market

23
Liminal

24
The Rose Ring

25
Danse Macabre

26
Thaumaturge

27
The Mutual Friend

The Seven Orders of Clairvoyance

Glossary

Acknowledgements

A Note on the Author

A Note to the Reader

At the back of this book you will find a record of the members of the Unnatural Assembly, composed of the clairvoyant mime-lords and mime-queens who operate in each section of Scion London, as well as additional maps of key sections. You will also find a chart of the Seven Orders of Clairyoyance and a glossary of terms unique to Scion and the slang of the clairvoyant underworld.

 

PART I

The Rogue Dial

For are we not vastly superior to them, we Unnaturals? For though we pick the Bones of Society, though we crawl in Gutters and beg for our Keep, we are living Conduits to the World Beyond. We are Proof of an auxiliary Existence. We are Catalysts of the ultimate Energy, the eternal Æther. We harness Death itself. We unhorse the Reaper.

—An Obscure Writer,
On the Merits of Unnaturalness

 

1

Alight

It’s rare that a story begins at the beginning. In the grand scheme of things, I really turned up at the beginning of the end of this one. After all, the story of the Rephaim and Scion started almost two hundred years before I was born—and human lives, to Rephaim, are as fleeting as a single heartbeat.

Some revolutions change the world in a day. Others take decades or centuries or more, and others still never come to fruition. Mine began with a moment and a choice. Mine began with the blooming of a flower in a secret city on the border between worlds.

You’ll have to wait and see how it ends.

Welcome back to Scion.

****

September 2, 2059

Each of the train’s ten cars was upholstered in the style of a small parlor. Rich red carpets, polished rosewood tables, the
anchor—
Scion’s symbol—stitched in gold on every seat. Classical music drifted from a hidden speaker.

At the end of our car, Jaxon Hall, mime-lord of I-4 and leader of my gang of London voyants, sat with his hands folded atop his cane, staring straight ahead without blinking.

Across the aisle, my best friend Nick Nygård gripped a metal hoop that hung from the ceiling. After six months away from him, seeing his gentle face was like looking at a memory. His hand was strung with swollen veins, and his gaze was fastened to the nearest window, watching the safety lights that flashed past every now and then. Three other members of the gang were slumped across the seats: Danica sporting a head wound, Nadine with bloody hands, and her brother, Zeke, grasping his injured shoulder. The last of us, Eliza, had stayed behind in London.

I sat apart from them, watching the tunnel disappear behind us. There was a fresh scorch on my forearm where Danica had disabled the Scion microchip under my skin.

I could still hear the last command Warden gave me:
Run, little dreamer
. But where would Warden run? The closed door of the station had been surrounded by armed Vigiles. For a giant he could move like a shadow, but even a shadow couldn’t have slipped past that door. Nashira Sargas, his erstwhile fiancée and leader of the Rephaim, would spare no effort to hunt him down.

Somewhere in the darkness was the golden cord, linking Warden’s spirit to mine. I let the æther wash over me but felt no answer from the other side.

Scion couldn’t be unaware of the uprising. Something would have got out before the fires destroyed the communication systems. A message, a warning—even a word would have been enough to alert them to a crisis in their colony. They’d be waiting for us with flux and guns, waiting to send us back to our prison.

They could try.


We need to do a headcount.” I stood. “How long until we reach London?”

“Twenty minutes, I think,” Nick said.

“Do I want to know where the tunnel ends?”

He gave me a grim smile. “The Archon. There’s a station right underneath it. S-Whitehall, it’s called.”

My stomach dropped a notch. “Don’t tell me you were planning an escape through the Archon.”

“No. We’re going to stop the train early and find another way out,” he said. “There must be other stations in this network. Dani says there might even be a way back into the Underground proper, through the service tunnels.”

“Those service tunnels could be crawling with Underguards,” I said, turning to Danica. “Are you sure about this?”

“They won’t be guarded. They’re for engineers,” she said. “But I don’t know about these older tunnels. I doubt anyone at SciORE has ever been in them.”

SciORE was Scion’s robotics and engineering division. If anyone would know about the tunnels, it would be someone from there. “There must be another way out,” I pressed. Even if we did get back into the main Underground network, we’d be arrested at the bar riers. “Can we divert the train? Or is there a way up to street level?”

“No manual override. And they’re not stupid enough to have access to street level from this line.” Danica lifted the rag from her head wound and inspected the blood that soaked it. There seemed to be more blood than rag. “The train’s programmed to go straight back to S-Whitehall. We’re setting off the fire alarm and leaving through the first station we find.”

The idea of taking a large group of people through a decaying, lightless tunnel system didn’t seem sensible. They were all weak, hungry, and exhausted; we needed to move fast. “There must be a
station
under the Tower,” I said. “They wouldn’t use the same station to transport voyants and Scion staff.”

“That’s a long way to walk for a hunch,” Nadine cut in. “The Tower’s miles away from the Archon.”

“They keep voyants in the Tower. It makes sense to have a station underneath it.”

“If we assume there’s a station at the Tower, we need to time the alarm carefully,” Nick said. “Any ideas, Dani?”

“What?”

“How can we identify where we are?”

“Like I said, I don’t know this tunnel system.”

“Take a wild guess.”

She took a little longer than usual to answer. Her eyes were ringed with bruises. “They . . . might have put markers on the lines so the workers didn’t get disorientated. You find them in Scion tunnels. Plaques stating the distance to the nearest station.”

“But we’d need to get off the train to see those.”

“Exactly. And we’ve only got one shot at stopping it.”

“Sort it out,” I said. “I’ll find something to set off the alarm.”

I left them to debate and walked toward the next car. Jaxon turned his face away. I stopped in front of him.

“Jaxon, do you have a lighter?”

“No,” he said.

“Fine.”

The train’s sections were separated by sliding doors. They couldn’t be sealed shut; nor was the glass bulletproof. If we were caught in this thing, there would be no getting away.

A crowd of faces looked up at me. The surviving voyants, all huddled together. I’d hoped Julian might have boarded when I wasn’t looking, but there was no sign of my co-conspirator. My heart clenched with grief. Even if he and his unit of performers survived the rest of the night, Nashira would have them all trimmed at the neck by sunrise.


Where are we going, Paige?” It was Lotte, one of the performers. Still wearing her costume from the Bicentenary, the historic event we’d just ruined with our escape. “London?”

“Yes,” I said. “Look, we’re going to have to stop the train early and walk to the first exit we find. It’s heading for the Archon.”

There was an intake of breath, and wild looks were exchanged. “That doesn’t sound safe,” Felix said.

“It’s our only chance. Was anyone awake when they put us on the train to Sheol I?”

“I was,” an augur said.

“So there’s an exit at the Tower?”

“Definitely. They took us straight from the cells to the station. But we’re not going through there, are we?”

“Unless we find another station, yes.”

While they murmured among themselves, I counted them. Not including myself and the gang, there were twenty-two survivors.

How would these people survive in the real world after years of being treated like animals? Some of them would barely remember the citadel, and their gangs would have forgotten them. I pushed the thought away and knelt beside Michael, who was sitting a few seats apart from the others. Lovely, sweet-tempered Michael, the only other human that Warden had taken under his wing.

BOOK: The Mime Order
3.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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