…. EPISODE 38…..
….. Posted by uc beverly…..
Three hours later and I’m sitting by the side of the bed, my hand shaking as I bring a syringe full of immunity serum toward Rebel’s arm. She’s out cold—she woke up just as Dante got back, but the serum wasn’t ready so Draven put her back out as quickly and painlessly as he could.
And now it’s go time. Now we find out if my version of the serum will work. The knowledge that it might not makes an already stressful situation even worse. I’ve had to inject my own immunity serum a few times over the years. When Mom was out of the country for a conference. When she got snowed in at some big-wig science retreat in Jackson Hole. When I went away to summer camp before eighth grade. That was bad enough.
But trying to inject someone else with it? My mind races with unrealistic possibilities of what might go wrong. I might hit a vein or, God forbid, an artery. Or I might hit bone—that would be horribly painful, not to mention make it impossible to deliver the right dose of the serum.
These thoughts are enough to have me wavering, the hand holding the syringe freezing inches from Rebel’s arm. The absolute last thing I want to do is hurt my best friend. But at the same time, I want to stop her from being able to hurt anyone else. At least until we can figure out what the hell her dad did to her.
“What’s the hold-up?” Dante asks from his spot on the other side of the bed.
He told everyone but me and Draven to get out of the room and is watching everything that happens with eagle eyes. V refused to go, of course, and is standing guard by the door. Just in case.
Dante kneels at Rebel’s side, holding her hand and petting it like she’s a sick child. All he wants is his girlfriend back. And I’m the only one who can give her to him. It’s that thought that finally gets me moving.
“Nothing,” I say, leaning forward to jab the needle into her arm before I have any more second or third or fourth thoughts.
I squeeze, letting the serum flow into her bloodstream as I say a little prayer to the chemistry gods that it works like it’s supposed to. Like I think it will. “How long does it take?” Draven asks.
“I don’t know,” I answer honestly. “Once Mom started me on it, I was never off. So I don’t know how long it takes for the initial dose to kick in.” V raises a sardonic brow. “Care to hazard a guess, science girl?”
“Considering how much I used,” I say, ignoring the nickname as I try to calculate the answer to her question. “I would think only a matter of minutes.” “We’ll give it ten,” she says.
I don’t ask what she’s planning on doing at eleven.
And then we’re waiting, watching, hoping that when Rebel wakes up, she’ll do so without her powers. Since Draven’s power knocked her out, it’s possible that when the immunity kicks in she’ll regain consciousness. But it’s also possible that his power caused a physical reaction that wouldn’t be retroactively affected by her immunity.
Sometimes ten minutes passes in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it feels like an eternity, like your whole life is passing by in those six hundred seconds. Waiting to find out if I’ve fixed Rebel is definitely the latter.
To pass the time, and because I’m terrified I somehow did something wrong, I trace back through all the steps of the formula, double-checking that I hadn’t missed anything.
But no matter how many times I run through it, it all seems to add up. Even taking the shortcut that Mom apparently didn’t want to take, the end result should be the same.
So what’s taking so long then? Why won’t she wake up and show us whether it worked or not? With each minute that passes, I get more and more nervous. I try to hide it—nobody needs a leader who freaks out—but Draven notices. Of course he does. He doesn’t make a big deal of it, but suddenly he’s right there, his chest
pressed against my back, his hand stroking the side of my neck. That’s all it takes for me to steady myself, to refocus. Then I start working the problem.
If this doesn’t work, then does that mean the other batch won’t work either? What will we do then?
A powers-neutralizing helmet would be the first choice. Of course that’s a carefully guarded hero secret, so getting our hands on one would be no easy task. Then again, we haven’t shied away from a challenge yet. Whatever it takes, we won’t stop until Rebel is Rebel again. Or at least not trying to kill us.
“I’m done waiting,” Dante says. “Wake her up.”
We exchange a round of nervous glances. We’re all afraid that it won’t work and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board. But better to find out whether or not the serum worked instead of sitting around worrying. At least that’s what the scientist in me says, and I’m putting her in control, not the scared little girl who is desperately afraid that she’s only made things worse.
Dante scoots to the side so Draven can reach Rebel’s head. I watch as my guy reaches for my best friend’s forehead, ready to use his biomanipulation power to undo whatever he did to render her unconscious in the first place.
Before he can touch her, her eyes flutter open. I suck in an anxious breath. Wait for the hatred, the alarm, the power that runs through her like a geyser.
Her eyes grow wide, her skin pale, but nothing flies across the room. It worked!
Then she screams and everything goes to hell.
The whole room seems to start flying at once.
Dante goes sailing into the nearest wall.
The door slams in V’s face.
The lamp next to the bed crashes to the floor.
Shit. It didn’t work. She still has her power. And obviously isn’t afraid to use it.
Maybe we didn’t give the immunity serum enough time to sink all the way in.
Maybe if we give it a few more minutes…
“Draven!” Dante yells as he scrambles back to her side, pinning her hands back to the bed. “Put her back out!”
He goes flying back across the room.
“I’m trying,” Draven answers.
His hands are on Rebel’s shoulder, and he’s focusing his power on her. But nothing is happening.
V pounds on the door. “Let me in, assholes!”
“I can’t.” Draven looks at me, his eyes full of panic. “My power isn’t working on her.”
My stomach plummets. My immunity serum doesn’t need time to kick it. It’s working already. It hasn’t taken Rebel’s power from her as planned, but it apparently has made her immune to the powers of others.
I’ve just made things about a thousand times worse.
Between V’s fists on the door, Dante’s shouting, and every object in the room whirlpooling through the air, I’m on the verge of hyperventilating.
I have no idea what to do.
Then, in an instant, every object falls to the ground. A strange combination of terror and relief works its way through me.
Dante stops yelling, and only the echoes of V’s pounding fill the silent room. At least until Rebel speaks. “Why the hell am I tied to a bed?” “To make it harder for you to kill us,” Draven answers.
Her forehead crunches into a frown.
“Kill you?” She sounds utterly confused. “Why would I do that? You’re my best friends.”
The rage that had burned in her tone since she woke up in our custody seems to have vanished as quickly as it had come. The constant tension in her body is gone, replaced by a sense of panic.
Her cloudy eyes scan the room. She sees Dante pushing to his feet against the far wall. “Baby,” she cries out, “what’s going on?” Tears spring to my eyes. “Rebel?”
“Kenna! I don’t—” She shakes her head sharply. “Where am I?”
Dante is by the bed in an instant. But before he can kneel at Rebel’s side, Draven throws an arm across his chest to keep him back.
“Dude!” Dante snarls at Draven and shoves at his arm. “Let me by!” “What’s wrong?” I ask.
Draven shakes his head, his eyes fastened on Rebel’s face. “It could be a trap.” “A trap?” Rebel sounds horrified. “Guys, come on. It’s me.”
Dante elbows Draven in the ribs and shoves him out of the way. Then he’s diving for the rope knotted around Rebel’s wrists while his cousin doubles over, gasping for breath.
Part of me wants to agree with Dante. The part of me that wants to believe that my best friend is back and my immunity serum snapped her out of whatever the hell Rex did to her. I want so badly for those things to be true that I would do almost anything to believe it.
But another part of me, the scientist part, knows that even the slightest bias can alter the observed results of an experiment. And I am more than slightly biased in my desire to fix Rebel.
I can’t rely on personal observation. I have to leave the scientist in charge.
Jumping into action, I yank Dante away from the bed.
“Draven’s right,” I tell him. “We have to make sure.” “No way,” he barks, struggling against my grip.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” I tell him. “Think about how much worse it will be for Rebel if we have to try to wrestle her into submission again. She could get hurt, really hurt, and I know you don’t want that to happen.”
He stares at me, like he’s trying to come up with a valid argument.
In the end, he doesn’t have to.
“Listen to Kenna, babe,” Rebel tells him. “I have no clue what’s going on here, but she’s usually right.”
“Usually?” I affect a fake-insulted tone.
She smiles at me, equal parts terrified and relieved. “Almost always. Except when it comes to fashion.”
I smile back, relieved because she’s sounding more and more like my Rebel with every second that passes. “That’s better.”
“So, how do we test her?” Dante asks, clearly impatient to set Rebel free.
That is the question. How do you figure out what’s going on in someone’s mind? If we had a thought reader in the group, it would be easy.
Then again, if she really is immune to other powers, a thought reader wouldn’t be able to penetrate her mind anyway.
Same with Draven’s ability to mess with memory.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Draven asks her.
She closes her eyes. “I remember…leaving Riley’s apartment.”
“Yes, we split up in the alley,” I say, trying to prompt her memory. “The heroes were closing in.”
“I…led the zeroes away,” she says slowly. Her eyes flash open. “Kenna! You have a power!”
I grin at her. “I do.”
“If I weren’t tied to a bed right now, I would hug the shit out of you.” Nothing gets more Rebel than that. I exchange a look with Draven. He nods. “I never pass up a chance for a suffocating Rebel hug.”
In a flash, Dante has her untied and on her feet. Then the three of us are wrapped in an epic hug that is long overdue.
I slip out of the hug, and Dante kisses Rebel like he thought he would never get to kiss her again. My arms slip around Draven’s waist, and I bury my face in his chest. Rebel is back, and we have the immunity serum formula. Tears of relief stream down my cheeks—things are finally going right for a change—and my emotions flood out of me.
“Come on,” Dante says, an arm slung over Rebel’s shoulders. “Let’s tell everyone the good news.”
We walk into the main room of the cabin, which is mostly still a disaster from when Rebel got loose earlier.
“What happened in here?” she asks.
Jeremy looks up from his workstation, his eyes dark with accusation. “You did.” He doesn’t look like he’s going to forgive her anytime soon.
“Me?” Rebel scans the cabin, mouth slightly slack with shock. “I did this? I… Wait…” She walks over to the crushed dining room table. “I remember this. I remember—”
She freezes. Her breath catches, and her eyes are wider than the time I told her I was actually going out with Jeremy.
“I remember,” she says again, her voice faint. Then she whirls toward me. “Oh
shit. I called my dad.”
“Earlier,” she says. “When I got loose. Shit, shit, shit. I told him where we are. Or at least as much as I know about where we are. Enough for him to figure it out.” We all stand there frozen with shock before the reality of the situations sinks in. It’s been hours since Rebel got free. Hours that Rex has had to put the pieces together. It’s only a matter of time before his goons show up and try to take us into custody. Or worse. There’s always a worse.
“We need to get out of here!” Draven shouts to the entire cabin, already reaching for my hand and racing for the kitchen. He shoves open the door and shouts at Riley and Nitro, “Now!”
Dante sprints down the hall for the bedroom where Deacon is resting.
V drags Jeremy away from his electronics, which he is desperately trying to shove into his backpack.
“No time, HB2,” V tells him. “Don’t make me throw you over my shoulder.” Everyone bursts into the living room at the same time. I let go of Draven and grab onto Rebel’s hand as I lead the race out the front door.
“What’s that sound?” Riley asks, an instant before the van explodes.
The whomp, whomp, whomp of chopper blades pulses through the air. Multiple chopper blades.
“Damn it,” V shouts above the roar of the burning vehicle. “It’s too late. We go on foot.”
As one unit, we beeline for the forest’s edge. The trees and undergrowth should provide cover from the heroes above. Unless they have infrared. Who am I kidding? Of course they have infrared.
“Wait!” I stop.
“No waiting,” V yells. “Keep moving.”
Ignoring her, I turn to Nitro. “Can you fireball the cabin from here?” He looks at me like I’m insane. “You want me to blow it up?” “No,” I say. “I want you to make them think we’re still in there.” Nitro nods with a wicked grin. “I feel you.”
With more precision than I’ve ever seen him possess, he lobs several pale-pink fireballs through a broken window. The cabin fills with a faint glow. Hopefully, if anyone is scanning for heat signatures, they’ll see a bunch of warm bodies inside. That should buy us some time. We need all the head start we can get.
We’re about to turn away, to continue deeper into the forest, when the sound of the choppers becomes clearer. I watch in horror as a pair of white helicopters painted with the insignia of the Denver PD fly into the clearing around the cabin. I can’t move, can’t look away. Either Rex really does have everyone involved in the manhunt for us, or he is camouflaging his forces as ordinary cops.
Suddenly there’s a whistling sound as something flies out of the lead chopper.
A heartbeat later, the cabin disintegrates in a burst of light and flame.