…. EPISODE 28…..
….. Posted by uc beverly…..
Two days later
At this altitude, even in the heart of summer, I have to bundle up to go outside and gather wood for the fireplace. The abandoned cabin we found high in the mountains between Boulder and the Wyoming border isn’t just off the grid, it’s practically nonexistent. No power, no heat, and only icy well water running in the plumbing.
I thought Jeremy was going to have a heart attack when he found out there was no Internet. But with a few mini solar panels—what doesn’t he have in that damn backpack?—and something he calls a signal replicator, he’s connected enough to keep tabs on the situation.
I dump my armful of wood at the base of the porch steps to chop later, carrying a few pieces inside.
When I walk back into the cabin, everyone is gathered around Jeremy at the dining table. He’s holding the tablet he swiped from the security office at the bunker.
“Kenna, you need to see this.” He attaches something to the tablet and points it at the wall, and then the wall lights up with the projection of a newscast by XSHN, the superhero news network.
The newscaster is on location at the entrance to the bunker, or as the caption at the bottom calls it, ESH Lab Beta Campus. Though large boulders are strewn around, a hole has been dug out of the rubble. And standing there on top of the pile, like a miner rescued from a cave-in, is Mr. Malone. He looks as perfectly pressed as
always. As if nothing had happened. As if a mountain hadn’t literally crumbled around him.
Draven stands at his right. My heart practically leaps out of my chest to see him there, alive. Unhurt. But definitely not safe.
His head is encased in a powers-neutralizing helmet—technology I didn’t realize they’d actually perfected. Titanium manacles encircle his wrists and ankles. The crawl at the bottom of the screen announces the capture of one of the most dangerous villains in the super world.
I brace myself on the table to remain upright as the newscaster’s voice echoes in the small cabin.
“The villain infiltrator was brought in by none other than Rebel Malone, daughter of League President Rex Malone.”
“What?” I gasp.
Beside me, Riley’s jaw drops. “Rebel did that?”
The camera pans to Mr. Malone’s left. Standing there in a floral sundress and minimal makeup is Rebel. Only she doesn’t look like the Rebel I know. She looks like the daughter Mr. Malone always wanted. A robot. Her eyes are blank, her face carefully neutral, and her spikey blond hair has been washed and styled like she’s trying for a beauty pageant. It is all kinds of messed up.
“We all have my daughter to thank,” Mr. Malone says, clapping a hand on Rebel’s shoulder, the model of a proud father.
The fact that she doesn’t flinch is proof enough that something is way, way wrong.
“What happened to her?” Riley asks.
Dante slides him an angry glare. “Your father happened.”
Mr. Malone continues, “Rebel single-handedly infiltrated the band of traitors, led by this monster here. Those traitors are responsible for the deaths of heroes and villains alike, as well as numerous terrorist acts that have been kept secret for reasons of superhero security.”
Dante slams his hand on the table. “Bullshit.”
“That’s crazy,” I agree. “No way Rebel was working for her dad.”
Mr. Malone looks so grossly proud. “Due to the heinous nature of this villain’s crimes, I am personally calling for a speedy trial and execution.”
I clap a hand over my mouth to hold back the nausea that washes through me. Execution? He wants to execute Draven? Even knowing he’s his son?
The broadcast cuts back to the newscaster and Jeremy turns down the volume. For several minutes, we all just sit there, staring at the projection of the pretty, dark-haired newscaster.
After everything I’ve been through in the past week, Mr. Malone spouting lies about Draven and Rebel is too much.
My blood boils at the thought of him distorting the truth about two people who acted so selflessly to free villains from the heroes’ vile and illegal experiments. The. Last. Straw.
Over the last week, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about the world I thought I knew so well. Heroes can be evil. Villains can be good. Draven has shown me that more than anything else. And if that’s true, that bad guys can do good things, then it’s time to show the hypocritical heroes that the opposite is also true. With the right motivation, a good girl can do a bad thing. A lot of bad things. Especially if she has a little villain blood in her veins.
I stare at the video projection, focusing all my fury and disgust on the pixelated version of Mr. Malone. “We’re going to take them down,” I say. I turn back to the group gathered around the table. “We’re going to find my mom. Free Draven. Get Rebel. And bring the heroes to their knees. Every last one of them.”