…. EPISODE 44…..
….. Posted by uc beverly…..
“What are you doing?” Rebel asks as I walk around the lab, gathering ingredients and equipment.
“Making more immunity serum.”
If I don’t keep busy, I’m going to keep thinking about everything that’s happened in the last couple of days. And if I do that, I’m going to start crying—and I don’t want to start crying. I can’t give in to the despair. Not now, when there’s still so much to do. Still so much to take care of.
Everyone else can search for clues. Only I can do this.
“The last batch I made got left at the cabin,” I explain.
“Do we have time for that?” Deacon asks, peering over my shoulder.
“We’re making time,” I answer. “This is the only way we know to break Rex’s mind control. Don’t you think it’s a good idea to have some of it around? Maybe that craziness upstairs would never have happened if we’d been able to immunize them.”
What we really need is one of my mom’s injection guns, so we could dose mind-controlled heroes from a distance. Too bad Rex cleared out her secret stash when he took her from our house.
“Wait a second,” V says, her eyes narrow and her face all scrunched up as she
watches me pour the first ingredient into a glass beaker. “You think the heroes we
just fought were under mind control?”
I shrug. “I can’t know for sure.”
“But it’s a possibility?” Rebel asks.
“A strong possibility.”
V demands, “How do you know?”
I start measuring out the compounds required for the first stage of the serum recipe. When I look up, my whole team is staring at me. Waiting for me to explain the inexplicable.
“It’s only a theory,” I say. “But that hero with the braids and the nose ring who
came in the back door? I know him.”
“You know him?” Draven asks. “How?”
“His dad was a friend of my mom’s. I wasn’t sure at first, during the fighting, especially with how he was acting. But after, when we were tying them up…” I pour the first-stage ingredients into an Erlenmeyer flask. “It was Will.”
“Just because you knew the guy doesn’t mean he wouldn’t follow Rex’s orders to bring you in,” Dante says.
“Wait, that was Will?” Jeremy says, making a kissy face. “Your Will?”
Draven’s eyebrows practically hit his hairline. “Your Will?”
“We were…kinda friends for a while. I mean, it’s been a few years, but I know him.”
“You mean you knew him,” Draven says. “Kenna, people can change a lot in a few years.”
“Not like this. Will is not the kind of guy to use his power to hurt anyone,” I say as I stir the mixture until it turns a cloudy blue. “Let alone to hurt me.” “Let alone you?” Draven repeats. His eyes are turning stormy again.
“You might want to close your mouth,” V tells him, tapping his cheek. “It’s not a good look for you, D3.”
I turn away from the workstation, where the initial reactions are already beginning.
“He was my first kiss,” I tell them. “And I was his. At science camp a long time
ago. He and his dad used to have dinner at our house every week before they
moved to New Mexico. We still chat online—or at least we did, before all this
started. I know him. He wouldn’t do something like this, any more than Rebel
would deliberately try to kill one of us.”
“But you can’t know for certain,” V says.
I flash back to the memory of a younger, scrawny Will with a ponytail and a tendency to hiccup when he’s nervous. “He isn’t a soldier—he’s an artist. There’s no way Will should even be here, no way he would be here trying to kill me unless Rex did something to his brain.”
“That’s just wishful thinking,” V argues. “Nothing more than a guess.” Her attitude is starting to get on my nerves. “It’s an educated guess.” V is like a dog with a bone. “I’m not betting your lives on a guess.”
“Then let’s test the theory,” Nitro suggests. “Let Kenna cook up the immunity serum, and then we shoot him with it and see what happens. If Will snaps out of it like Rebel did, he was mind-controlled. If he doesn’t, then he wasn’t. Sounds pretty simple to me.”
Riley gives him a thumbs-up.
“We can’t sit around for a couple hours waiting for the serum to process,” Dante says. “We’ll be sitting ducks for the next wave of attacks.”
“We’ll be sitting ducks if armies of mind-controlled heroes keep coming after us,” Nitro replies.
“The serum is the only weapon we have,” I tell them.
Draven nods. “It’s our only chance.”
“Besides,” Riley says, “what else are we supposed to do?”
He’s right. It’s not like we have any better plans. After Mom died, I had four missions: fix Rebel, find Dr. Harwood, find my dad, and stop Rex. We’ve done the first and, I guess technically, the second. I have zero clue where to even start looking for my dad, and as for Rex… Well, if anyone has any thoughts on how to stop his quest for world domination, I’m all ears.
The silence in the room says it all.
V throws her hands in the air. “Fine. I give up. Let me know when you know what the hell you’re doing.” She turns and storms up the stairs. “I’ll be outside—” “Guarding our bodies?” Riley finishes helpfully. She doesn’t even bother to flip him off.
“So we make the serum,” Draven says. He nods at the chamber full of heroes. “Find out if lover boy is a Rex robot. And then what?”
“I’m working to find the code for their frequency, so we can see if Rex is trying to communicate with them.” Jeremy says from the back of the lab where he’s fiddling with the electronics we took from the heroes. He’s got Dr. Harwood’s laptop connected to one of the handhelds and is working on both simultaneously. “If we’re lucky, we’ll find out what else is coming our way.” “And if we’re not?” Nitro asks.
No one has an answer for him. I guess we just have to be lucky.
I turn back to the workstation, even though there is nothing for me to do but watch until the contents of the flask turn orange. I pull out my phone and start making notes about the scientific process. Recording the time line of the reactions and my observations along the way might not tell me anything I don’t already know, but it gives me something to do.
And right now I need something to do.
While everyone else gets lost in their thoughts, Draven moves to my side.
“We need to talk,” he says, his voice so low I can barely hear.
I sigh. I should have expected this.
“Will and I are just friends now,” I tell him. “Actually, we were never really more than friends.”
“Not about that,” Draven says with a cocky smile, “but that’s good to know.” He leans forward and drops a quick kiss on my lips.
I surprise him by wrapping my arms around his waist and pulling him closer. He comes willingly, his hands coming up to frame my face as he gives me another deeper kiss.
He feels good. This feels good. Normal in the very best way, even in the middle of all this chaos and destruction. I’m not sure how we got here so quickly, how I fell
for him this deeply. But I did, and though I know I could do this without him if I had to, I’m so, so glad that he’s here and I don’t have to.
Eventually, he starts to move away, but I’m not ready to let him go yet. I slide my hands up to tangle in his hair and hold him in place as I kiss him until we’re both breathless and shaking.
When we finally come up for air, he keeps me close. “You doing all right?” he asks.
I nod against his chest. “How about you? Are you okay?”
We haven’t really talked about what happened while he was Rex’s prisoner. Partly because there’s been no time, but I’m guessing also partly because he doesn’t want to talk about it. I can hardly blame him.
He hesitates, takes a couple deep breaths. “I’m good.” There’s something in his voice that says otherwise. “Yeah?”
He sighs. “I can’t stand the idea that there’s anything of him inside of me. Even if it’s just DNA.”
I hold him tighter, try to get him to look at me. But he’s very determinedly staring over my head.
“Nothing about you is like Rex Malone,” I insist.
“How do you know?” His voice is quiet, like he wants to make sure no one else can overhear. “How do you know I won’t lose it one day and abuse them the way he abuses what he’s got? Maybe it’s genetic.”
“Because I know you.” It’s my turn to cup his cheeks, to force him to look at me. “You could be super egotistical and power hungry with what you’ve got right now. But you’ve never been like that. That’s not who you are. It’s insane to think that one day you’ll just wake up and a switch will be flipped.”
“How do you know that didn’t happen to Rex? How do you know—”
“That man has been an asshole his whole life. No switch got flipped. He’s been like this for at least as long as I’ve known him. My mom knew him even longer, and she never liked him. You’re. Not. Like. Him.”
He searches my eyes like he’s looking for something. Whatever it is, he must find it, because his shoulders relax and he finally smiles. It’s a small smile, but it’s there.Recommend you to download Topster Stories App for Exclusive Access To Erotic and Romantic stories (Join Group) https://t.me/topsterstories
“Thank you,” he says softly.
“For what? All I did was tell the truth.” I pull his head down, press his forehead against mine in a gesture meant to comfort both of us. “You’re a good guy, Draven. One of the best. Never let Rex make you doubt that.”
He nods, then glances over his shoulder to make sure no one is paying attention to
us. “We still need to talk.”
“Sure. About what?”
“About what happened upstairs. When every power in the room stopped.”
“Oh, right.” In all the craziness that followed, I’d put that bizarre moment out of my mind. It had been a turning point in the battle. We’d been on the verge of total defeat, and then…we weren’t. I can’t explain it—don’t even know where to start. One look at Draven’s face tells me he thinks he has an explanation. A shiver goes down my spine, and suddenly I’m not so sure I want to hear what he has to say. “And before that,” he continues, “when you were trying to save Dr. Harwood.” “I don’t know what you mean.”
“You put your hands over his chest and tried to heal him. I saw you.” “That’s…ridiculous.” I shake my head. “That’s your power, not mine.”
“It is,” he agrees. But then he holds his arm out to me. It’s got a nasty cut below the elbow that has to hurt. “Try to heal me.” I draw back. “I can’t.”
I want to argue, but seeing him injured like that makes my chest tighten. Before I can think, I lift my hand and let my fingers hover right above his wound. It looks so painful.
I wish I could heal him.
And then, something shifts. I feel that strange vibration in my fingers again. Just like when I was kneeling over Dr. Harwood’s body. Only this time, the vibrations leave through my fingertips.
Draven’s wound heals before my eyes.
“Shhh.” He shakes his head.
My gaze darts from his unmarred skin to his icy blue eyes. “You did that!” “No,” he says, leaning close to whisper in my ear. “You did.”
“How is that—?” It doesn’t make sense. My power is electricity, not biomanipulation. “I don’t understand.”
His breath tickles my ear. “A second power, Kenna.”
I gasp, shaking my head, ready to deny the suggestion. But then my mother’s voice is in my head, reminding me to be logical. Be scientific.
Sure, it’s rare for supers to have two powers, but it happens. Look at Draven. He’s got two incredible powers. I’ve never stopped to wonder why, but maybe it really is genetic. He has one parent who’s a villain and another who’s a hero.
Just like I do.
Maybe that’s the key.
“I have biomanipulation?” I say, my voice full of awe.
My mind fills with all of the possibilities. All of the people I can help, the people I can save. Could I have saved my mom?
“I don’t think so,” Draven tells me.
“Absorption,” he answers. “I think you can absorb the powers of other supers.” “I—what?”
I’ve never heard of that power. Is it even possible? Does it even exist? “Remember in the courtroom, when Rex was trying to grab you?” Of course I do. That’s not a moment a girl forgets.
“At the end, when I was on the verge of upping his blood pressure to do more than just disable him, my power slipped.” He tucks a lock of hair behind my left ear. “You put your hand on my arm, and I lost my hold on him.”
“I remember,” I tell him. “I wanted to stop you from killing him, from revealing your second power to everyone in that courtroom.”
“At the time, I thought I was just weak. But now, after seeing—and feeling—what happened upstairs…”
I nod. Other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The fireball that took out the guard who plasma blasted my mom, and Nitro later saying his power sparked out in the courtroom. Seeing that weird mental map of our surroundings, one that could have been a product of V’s echolocation, when we were escaping in Fort Collins. The vibrations I felt over Dr. Harwood’s body and over Draven’s arm. Had I really being using other people’s powers?
This is almost as hard to process as finding out I had a power in the first place. In the space of a couple weeks, I’ve gone from being completely powerless to having two powers? It’s seems too impossible to believe.
“Should I…?” I nod toward the others, who are mostly gathered on a couch in the corner of the room.
He shakes his head. “Don’t tell anyone. At least for now. They don’t need to be freaking out about losing their powers if yours kicks in. Let’s wait until you have more control.”
He’s right. I know he’s right. The last thing we need in a fight is everyone worrying that I’m going to zap away their powers.
No, that’s the second-to-last thing. The last thing is me accidentally doing it. It has taken me hours and hours of focused practice to get even a semblance of control
over my electromagnetic power. I don’t know anything about this power. How does it work? How do I take the power? How long do I keep it? Do I have to give it back or does it return naturally? I have so many questions, and no time to answer them.
I nearly jump out of my skin when Rebel taps me on the shoulder.
“The heroes are gone.”
“What?” Draven and I demand at once.
She gestures at the environmental chamber. “See for yourself.”
I cross to the door and peer inside the small window. The chamber is empty.
“Damn it,” Draven mutters when he confirms it for himself.
The door is still locked, and Draven I have been in the room the whole time. There is no way they snuck out past us, let alone V, who is steadfastly guarding the top of the stairs.
“One of them must have had the ability to teleport,” Rebel suggests.
Of course. I’ve never actually seen anyone use it myself, but that power is legend. Supers who can disappear in a flash, along with anyone who is touching them at the time.
The one with that power must have woken up and poofed the whole lot of them out of the chamber.
“Great, now what?” My shoulders slump. “How are we going to test my theory?” “We have a suggestion,” Riley says, appearing at Rebel’s side.
She nods. “We want to use the serum on Mom.” I ask, “What?”
“Our dad may be a monster,” Riley says, “but what about our mom?”
Rebel’s eyes have a haunted look. “What if she’s under his control? Like, literally under his control?”
“Oh, Rebel.” I reach out and press a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. “Your mom has always gone along with Rex.” “What if it’s not her fault?” she says.
Riley nods. “What if Dad’s been controlling her all along?” “Admit it,” Rebel says. “It makes sense.” “It’s at least possible,” Riley adds.
“We have to try,” Rebel pleads. “If she’s being controlled, we have to save her.” “Babe, come on,” Dante interrupts. “We have bigger problems at the moment. We should be steering clear of your parents as long as Rex is trying to kill us. We need to focus on stopping him.”
“Mom can help with that!” Riley exclaims. “She knows him better than anyone, knows how he thinks, what he’s capable of—”
“What his secrets are,” Rebel chimes in. “If we can cure her, she can tell us where he’s hiding. Then we could go after him instead of waiting around for him to try to kill us.”
I have to admit, the idea of getting the upper hand on Rex, of being on the offensive and not the defensive, is pretty appealing.
“It’s a huge risk,” I tell them.
“It’s more than risky,” V calls down the stairs. “No way I’m letting you idiots march up to Rex Malone’s house to shoot his wife full of immunity serum. It’s suicide.”
“It’s not suicide!” Rebel shouts up at her. “Once we break the mind control, she will protect us. I guarantee.”
“Fine, you heroes can go,” V says, descending back into view. “But the Cole boys aren’t going.”
“The hell we aren’t,” Dante says.
“No offense, but I’m not about to put my charges’ lives in the hands of the girl who was trying to kill them less than twenty-four hours ago!” “Unfair, V, and you know it,” Dante snarls.
I slip my hand in Rebel’s, letting her know without words that we all understand that wasn’t really her. “I’m in.”
She gives me a watery smile.
Dante moves to her other side. “I’m not letting her go home without me.” “And I’m not letting Dante go anywhere without me,” Deacon chimes in. “Where the twins go—” Draven starts.
“Yeah, yeah. I get it,” V snaps. “You’re going and there’s nothing I can do about it.” She reaches for her phone. “Except call Anton and see what he has to say about all of this.”
She clearly expects the guys to back down at the threat, except apparently she doesn’t know the Cole boys as well as she thinks she does. Draven just looks at her, one brow raised challengingly. “You can do that, but I’m not sure what you think it’s going to accomplish. By the time he gets here, we’ll be long gone.” “And you’ll either be with us,” Dante says, “or locked up with the heroes.” Deacon stands shoulder to shoulder with them, arms crossed over his chest. “Your choice.”
I bite back the biggest grin I’ve felt like smiling in weeks. It takes all my restraint not to applaud their stand.
V pulls herself up to her fairly intimidating height of almost six feet and looks Draven straight in the eye. “It’s cute that you think you can take me.”
“We both know I can. But I don’t want to. Rebel thinks Mrs. Malone can help us, and at this point it’s the only lead we have. My girl is going with her, which means so am I. Dante is going with Rebel too. And Deacon’s with us.” “Me too,” Riley adds, joining the line of us standing up to V.
Draven nods at him. “I don’t know what the rest of you are doing, but the six of us are going to the Malone house, and there’s nothing you or Anton or anyone else can do to stop us.”
Silence reigns for long seconds as Draven and V square off in the middle of the room. Nobody moves; nobody blinks. I’m not sure any of us even breathe. At least not until Nitro says, “Oi. You set one guy’s hair on fire, and suddenly you’re not an honorary member of the pack anymore? I see how it is.”
It’s the tension release we need, and everyone cracks up—even V and Draven.
They break eye contact and step out of their pissing match.
“Right?” Jeremy says. “You guys wouldn’t last two minutes without me.” “That just leaves you, V,” Draven says.
We all turn to look at her expectantly. She glares at each of us in turn, clearly
trying to decide if she needs to save face or just throw in the towel. In the end, she
rolls her eyes. “Fine. But when Anton kills me, I expect you to mourn.”
Deacon laughs. “Forget Anton. If you hang around us much longer, we’ll get you
killed way before you have to worry about Anton.”
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