…. EPISODE 31…..
….. Posted by uc beverly…..
“Mom.” I fall to my knees beside her and take her hand in mine. “Mom, wake up.” She doesn’t open her eyes, doesn’t clutch my hand, doesn’t as much as stir. In fact, for one terrible second, I’m not even sure she’s breathing. Panic-stricken, I lay my head to her chest and am relieved by the beat of her heart beneath my ear. At least until I hear just how fast it’s beating…and feel how shallowly she’s breathing.
“Draven!” I scream his name, reaching behind me for the one person I know can help her. The one person who can make her whole again.
Draven is already on his knees beside me, his hand on her leg and his eyes closed as he uses his power to heal her.
Relief sweeps through me, and I settle back on my haunches, taking my first full breath since she took that plasma hit in the courtroom. Draven will save her. “What is he doing?” Riley asks.
“Saving her,” Dante replies. “Trying to, anyway.”
Seconds pass like hours as I watch, waiting to see signs of improvement. When they don’t come, I look back at Draven. He’s pale and shaking, swaying unsteadily as he tries to repair her from the inside out.
“Are you okay?” I demand. He’s looking worse by the second.
He nods, eyes still closed, hand still on my mother’s calf. Beads of sweat are popping up on his forehead, and his breathing has become nearly as shallow as my mom’s.
“That’s enough.” Dante knocks Draven’s hand away and tries to pull him to his feet.
“I’ve got this,” Draven rasps, struggling against his cousin.
“No, you don’t. You’re too weak and you know it. You’ll kill yourself if you keep trying.”
“Kenna’s mom will die if I stop,” he answers, elbowing Dante hard in the stomach. He takes advantage of Dante’s relaxed grip to reach for my mother again. “You don’t know that!” Dante insists. “We can get her to a doctor—”
“There’s no time,” Draven says as his eyes drift closed again. “I have to help her now.”
If possible, he looks even paler than he did a few moments ago. Panic twists my stomach as I try to absorb his words. As I weigh them against Dante’s.
My mother is dying. Not just injured, not just unconscious, but dying if Draven doesn’t save her. And he might die if he does?
Terror explodes inside me all over again. Terror for him, for my mother. For me. My deepest fears coming true before my eyes. What am I going to do if I lose one of them?
How is this happening? Please God, don’t let this really be happening.
“Kenna, stop him!” Dante hisses. “You’re the only one who can. He’ll kill himself trying to save your mother for you.”
And he says she’ll die if he doesn’t try. The knowledge—and the horror of it all— hangs heavy in the air around us.
My entire body shakes uncontrollably.
What do I do? WhatdoIdo? WHAT DO I DO?! The words pound a rhythm in my blood, a mantra in my head, a terrified plea to the universe that I can’t hope to have answered.
“Draven.” I call his name and press my hand on his shoulder. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to say, don’t have a clue what I should say.
When he turns to me, the tired smile on his face a weak imitation of his usual cocky grin, I know that if I don’t make a decision soon, there won’t be one to make. At the rate he’s fading, Draven might very well die before he can heal my mother. And I’ll lose both of them. For nothing. For one evil man’s crazy vendetta.
I run my hand along Draven’s arm and swallow my grief. “Sto—” “Don’t.” My mother’s voice, faint and trembly though it is, cuts me off. “Mom. Oh God, Mom!” I pull her hand to my chest and scoot forward until my face is inches from hers. “Mom, please. Open your eyes.”
She does. They’re dark and cloudy and pain-filled, so different from their normal cool green. Any relief I felt at hearing her voice shatters.
“Draven, stop,” she orders, twisting her leg from his grasp.
“You’ll die if I stop, Dr. Swift.”
She smiles through her pain. “That’s going to happen no matter what you do, sweetheart.”
There’s a softness in her voice when she talks to him that I don’t understand, a tenderness that doesn’t fit considering they’ve never met. Though I suppose that changed while they were both imprisoned by Mr. Malone. Still, how much bonding could they possibly have done in between interrogations?
She turns her head and meets his gaze with her own, brow furrowed in intense concentration. Several long, silent seconds pass as I look back and forth between them before Draven clutches his hands to his head, his face twisted in pain. “What are you doing to him?” I demand, more confused than I’ve ever been. “She’s blocking me,” he answers hoarsely. “Blocking?” I echo. “How is that possible?”
“Suppressing,” Mom whispers. “I have the ability to neutralize other powers.” Suddenly, everything that happened during the rescue makes sense.
“Is that what you did to that woman with the toxic fog? You suppressed her
“And the immunity serum?” So many of the questions that have been building up
since I saw her walk into the courtroom with a villain mark on her neck—since I
saw the villain mark on my neck—start to pour out of me. “Is that where you got
the idea for it? Because it didn’t just make me immune to powers, Mom. It
“You know?” I jerk back. “You knew the whole time? But why—” “Kenna—”
“—do that when—”
“Kenna, stop!” That’s the most forceful her voice has been since she woke up, and it stops me midsentence. “I’m sorry, but there isn’t time for all the answers you deserve. There are things you need to know, things I need to tell you.”
She brings my hand to her face and squeezes it tightly against her cheek. She looks so sad, so…wistful. My heart pushes against my lungs, and I have trouble drawing in a breath.
“I’m sorry, honey,” she says. “I’m so sorry. But there’s no time.”
Tears pool in my eyes and roll in hot lines down my cheeks. “D-don’t say that.” “You have to listen.” She drops her head back against the floor of the helicopter, her eyes falling closed as if even speech is too much for her.
“Mom! Mom! I’m listening. I’m—”
“You need to find Dr. Harwood,” she interrupts, her voice so faint I have to bend my ear to her mouth to hear her. “He…he can help you go after the heroes.” “How do you know about that?”
“You’re my daughter. Draven is Lucinda’s son. It was only a matter of time.” She pauses and takes a shuddering breath. “Find Dr. Harwood.” “I will,” I promise frantically.
A few beats pass with nothing more than the sound of her ragged breathing and the drone of the helicopter blades.
Then she licks her lips and swallows. She continues. “The formula for the immunity serum is on my phone. It’s at the house. I left it when they—” “I have it,” I tell her. “I have your phone.”
“Good.” She lets out a weak sigh of relief. “I love you. I’m so proud of you and— ”
“We don’t have to do this now,” I interrupt, and at this point, I’m full-on crying, eyes blurred, chest heaving, snot running from my nose. “We can talk later, when you’re better—”
“Kenna, stop.” Draven wraps his arm around my waist, his fingers stroking my side in a soothing rhythm. “Let her finish.”
I don’t want to let her finish. Not when I’m terrified of what will happen when she does.
But I can’t fight her and Draven too. Not when my heart is breaking wide open.
“I love you,” she tells me again.
“I love you too,” I answer, desperate and devastated and so, so scared. “I love you so much, Mommy. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I went back to the lab, so sorry—” “Shhh.” She tries to squeeze my hand but she’s too weak. “I’m so proud of you. Of what you’ve done. Of what you’re going to do after I’m gone.”
I sob harder.
“So, so proud of you,” she continues. “And your father will be too, when you free him.”
Her words are faint, but they slam into me with the power of a sledgehammer. “My…father?”
“He’s alive,” she tells me, and each syllable comes slower and softer than the one before it. “Rex is holding him somewhere. Using him…”
“Using him? For what?”
She doesn’t answer.
She remains utterly silent.
“Mommy, please!” I grab her shoulders and shake her, but there’s still no response. “Mom! Mom!”
Draven grabs me and pulls me to his chest. “I’m sorry, Kenna. I’m so sorry!” “Nooooo! No! No! No!”
I beat at his chest, try to get away, but he holds me tight. Strokes my hair.
Whispers, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” over and over.
I scream into his chest. No words this time, just a base primal scream that holds all the fear and rage and pain that rips through me. I scream again and again and again.
Draven doesn’t let go. In fact, he holds me tighter, his arms warm and strong even as my world falls apart around me.
“I’ve got you, Kenna,” he murmurs in my ear, his lips hot against my cheek. “I’ve got you, love.”
I don’t know how long we sit there like that—Draven grounding me as the shock and horror of my mother’s death tear me apart. Long enough for Dante to call out a warning that I don’t fully hear and wouldn’t pay attention to anyway. Long enough for Nitro to cover my mother’s body with a blanket from the emergency first aid kit. More than long enough for Jeremy to get us to the SHN station.
“Hold on!” he shouts, and he sounds almost as bad as I feel. “This might be a little rough.”
He begins the descent to the helipad, and Draven’s arms tighten around me, one hand stroking my back while the other combs gently through my hair.
The landing is more than a little rough, but I barely register it through everything else.
“I’ve got Rebel,” Riley says as soon as we’re on the ground and Jeremy shuts down the chopper. I expect Dante to argue, to insist that he’ll be the one to carry Rebel’s unconscious body, but he doesn’t. In fact, it’s eerily quiet as my team—my friends—my family—pour out of the helicopter and onto the ground.
The next thing I know, Draven is pulling away, his thumb rubbing tenderly at the tears on my cheek. “We have to go, love.”
“I know.” I can’t bring myself to move though. Can’t bring myself to leave my mother’s side.
“Hand Kenna down to me.”
I open my eyes to find Dante standing in front of the helicopter’s open doors, face stoic and arms outstretched.
“I don’t want to go—” I wail to Draven, holding on tighter.
I don’t want to leave this chopper. Not ever. As soon as I do, this becomes real.
Too real. And I’m not ready to face that.
“If we stay here, we all die.”
He’s right. I know he is. It’s only a matter of time until heroes find us and swarm the helicopter. They wouldn’t hesitate to blow us all to bits.
They wouldn’t hesitate to take our bodies and continue their unethical villain experiments—postmortem.
If Rex knows what my mom’s power is, that it helped her develop an immunity serum, he’ll hand her body over to his scientists and—
I can’t finish that thought. It’s too awful to even imagine.
“They can’t have her body.” I clutch desperately at Draven’s chest. “With her power, they’ll try to—”
“I’ll take care of it,” Nitro says from next to Dante, and it’s the most serious I’ve ever heard him. “I swear, Kenna. They won’t get her.” “We have to go!” Jeremy shouts as he jumps to the ground.
“Give her a minute,” Draven growls back.
“We don’t have a minute.” Jeremy waves a beeping gadget toward the road. “The Superhero Police are getting closer every second.” If the SHPD find us, we’re done.
“Damn it, Jeremy,” Draven barks. “Can’t you see—”
“He’s right,” I say, and they might be the hardest two words I’ve ever spoken. “If we get caught, then this is all for nothing.”
Using every ounce of willpower I have—every ounce of strength I have left—I pull away from Draven. Uncurl my hands from the front of his shirt. Try to stand. My legs are too shaky to hold my weight. But Draven catches me, presses a tender kiss to the top of my head, and hands me safely out of the helicopter into Dante’s waiting arms.
I close my eyes and try not to look in the helicopter. Try not to look at the silhouette of my mother’s body lying there under that thin blanket. It hits me— really hits me—that this is the last time I’m ever going to see her.
I reach over Dante’s shoulder and grab the corner of the blanket. I yank it down, and it falls away from my mother’s face. Why do they say that people look peaceful in death? She looks awful. Pale and cold and so, so stiff. I want to scream, want to rage, want to fall to my knees and sob for an eternity.
But Draven takes me from Dante and carries me away from the helicopter. From my mother.
He carries me over to the unmarked van Jeremy secured for us and parked here two days ago. Deposits me in the first bench seat and then buckles me in like I’m a child. I want to protest, to tell him I can do it, but everything feels fuzzy. Everything, that is, except the knowledge that my mother is dead.
“Here,” Jeremy says from the front seat as he thrusts a bottle of orange soda at me. “You’re in shock. The sugar will help.”
“I’m fine,” I try to say, but my tongue trips over itself.
Draven’s beside me now, his arm tight around my shoulders, the side of his body pressed against the side of mine. “Just drink a little of it,” he tells me. “Just a little.”
I want to throw the stupid bottle of soda against the window, want to tell Jeremy to go to hell and take all his helpful suggestions with him. But that takes more effort than I have right now. So I take a couple sips. And try not to throw them back up.
Dante climbs into the back bench seat where Riley has Rebel propped up against the side. That leaves only Nitro.
His heartfelt promise circles around and around in my head as I wait for what’s coming. For what I know needs to happen. There is only one way to make sure the heroes can’t turn my mom’s body into an alien autopsy.
But as Nitro shoots a huge fireball straight at the chopper’s fuel tank, everything inside me revolts. Including my stomach.
I shove past Draven to lean out the open van door and throw up the sip of soda I just drank.
As I do, Nitro’s blast hits the helicopter full on, engulfing it in flames.
I can’t look away.
“Let’s move,” Nitro says as he races to the van.
He hasn’t even gotten the door shut before Jeremy floors it.
Seconds later, we’re barreling through the parking lot to the exit. As we speed through the gate, the chopper explodes. Taking my mother with it. .