Chapter no 14 – Andromedus

Red Rising

Matteo cannot teach me to dance. He shows me what each of the five form dances of the Aureate looks like and we are through. More emphasis is put on your partner in Gold dances than the dances my uncle taught me, but the movements are similar. I perform all five with greater skill than he can manage. To show off, I blindfold myself and perform each dance again in succession without music, by memory. Uncle Narol taught me to dance, and with a thousand nights of filling time with nothing but dance and song, I am masterful in recording the motions of my body, even this new body. It can do things my old one could not. The muscle fibers contract differently, the tendons stretch farther, the nerves fire faster. There’s a sweet burn in the muscles as I flow through the movements.

One dance, the Polemides, has a nostalgic feel. Matteo has me hold a baton as I move about in swirling steps, baton arm outstretched as though fighting with a razor. Even as my body moves, I hear the echoes of the past. I feel the vibrations of the mine, the scent of my clan. I have seen this dance before, and I perform it better than all the others. It is a dance my body is made for, one so very similar to the illegal Reaping Dance.

When I finish, Matteo is angry.

“Is this some sort of game?” he snarls. “What do you mean?”

He glares at me and taps his foot. “You have never been beyond the


“You know that answer,” I reply.

“You have never fought with a sword or shield?”

“Yes. I have. I’ve also captained starcruisers and dined with Praetors.” I laugh and ask what this is about.

“This is no game, Darrow.”

“Did I say it was?” I’m confused. What did I do to provoke him? I make a mistake in laughing to relieve the tension.

“You laugh? Boy, this is the Society with which you tangle. And you laugh? They are not some distant idea. They are cold reality. If they find out who you are, they will not hang you.” His face looks lost as he says it. As though he knows only too well.

“I know this.”

He ignores me. “The Obsidians will catch you and give you to the Whites and they will take you to their dark cells and they will torture you. They will pull out your eyes and cut away anything that makes you a man. They have more sophisticated methods, but I wager information won’t be their only aim; they have chemicals for that if they want. Soon after you tell them everything, they will kill me, Harmony, Dancer. And they will kill your family with fleshPeelers and stomp on the heads of your nieces and nephews. These are the things they don’t put on the HC. These are the consequences when the rulers of planets are your enemies. Planets, boy.”

I feel a chill creep into my bones. I know these things. Why does he keep hammering me with them? I’m already frightened. I don’t want to be, but I am. My task is swallowing me whole.

“So I ask you again, are you who Dancer says you are?”

I pause. Ah. I assumed that trust ran deep with the Sons of Ares, that they were of one mind. Here is a crack, a division. Matteo is Dancer’s ally, but not a friend. Something in my dancing made him think twice. Then I realize it. He did not see Mickey carve me. He is taking this all on faith that I was once a Red, and how difficult that must be. Something in my dancing made him think I was born to this. Something to do with that last dance, the one called the Polemides.

“I am Darrow, son of Dale, Lambda’s Helldiver of Lykos. I have never been anyone else, Matteo.”

He crosses his arms. “If you are lying to me …”

“I do not lie to lowColors.”

Later that evening, I research the dances I performed. Polemides is Greek for “child of war.” It is the dance that reminded me so much of Uncle Narol’s dances. It is the Gold’s dance of war, the one they teach young children to prepare them for the motions of martial warfare and the use of the razor. I watch a holo of Golds in battle, and my heart falls into my stomach. They fight like a summer song. Not like the thunderous, monstrous Obsidians. But like birds banking into a fresh wind. They fight in pairs, swerving, dancing, killing, ripping through a field of Obsidian and Gray as though they were at play with scythes and all the bodies that fell to them were like stalks of grain that sprayed blood instead of sallow chaff. Their golden armor shines. Their razors flash. They are gods, not men.

And I mean to destroy them?

I sleep poorly in my bed of silk that night. Long after kissing Eo’s haemanthus blossom, I fall asleep and dream of my father and what it would have been like to have known him into manhood, to have learned to dance from him instead of from his drunken brother. I clutch the scarlet headband in my hand as I wake. Holding it as dearly as I clutch my wedding band. All those things that remind me of home.

Yet they are not enough. I am afraid.

Dancer finds me at my morning breakfast.

“You’ll be happy to know, our hackers have spent two weeks hacking into the Board of Quality Control’s cloud to change Caius au Andromedus’s name to Darrow au Andromedus.”


“That’s all you have to say? Do you know how much— Never mind.” He shakes his head and gives a chuckle. “Darrow. It is so off Color. There will be raised eyebrows.”

I shrug to conceal my fear. “So I’ll butcher their gorydamn test and they’ll care less than a lick.”

“Spoken like a Gold.”

The next day, Matteo takes me by ship to the stables of Ishtar, not far from Yorkton. It’s a place by the sea, where green fields stretch over rolling hills. I’ve never been in so wide a place. I’ve never seen the land curve away from me. Never seen a true horizon or animals so terrifying

as the beasts Matteo arranged for our lesson. They stomp and stamp and snort, flicking their tails and baring their monstrous yellow teeth. Horses. I’ve always been scared of horses, despite Eo’s story of Andromeda.

“They’re monsters,” I whisper to Matteo.

“Nevertheless,” he whispers back, “it is the gentleman’s way. You must ride well, lest you find yourself embarrassed in some formal situation.”

I look at the other Golds riding past. There are only three at the stables today, each accompanied by a servant like Matteo, Pinks and Browns.

“A situation like this one?” I hiss at him. “Fine. Fine.” I point to a massive black stallion with hooves that paw the ground. “I’ll take that beast.”

Matteo smiles. “This one is more your speed.”

Matteo gives me a pony. A big pony, but a pony. There is no social interaction here; the other riders trot past and tip their heads to say good day, but that is all. So their smiles are enough for me to know how ridiculous I look. I do not take to riding well. And I take to it even more poorly when my pony bolts as Matteo and I navigate a path into a copse of trees. Out the other side of the copse, I jump off the creature and land deftly in the grass. Someone laughs in the distance, a girl with long hair. She rides the stallion I pointed to earlier.

“Maybe you ought to stick to the city, Pixie,” she shouts at me, then kicks her horse away. I rise from my knee and watch her ride into the distance. Her hair spills out behind her, more golden than the setting sun.

You'll Also Like