“My name is Rachel,” she said, her tone of voice suggesting that name should mean something to me.
“Is that supposed to mean something to- wait, like the one Charlie is looking for?” I asked, as the penny dropped.
“That’s me,” she said, her eyes dropping to the floor.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, an oversimplified version of the thousand questions I did want to ask her.
“I need your help,” she repeated.
“How do you even know who I am?” I demanded, feeling exposed and a little bit frightened.
“I saw you on TV,” she said. “You were with her.”
“I saw you. The way you move. You’re trying to hide it, but you’re… like her,” she said.
Panic and alarm raced through my mind. There was no way I was dealing with this, not after the day I’d had. She might have had her suspicions, but she didn’t know anything.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I told her.
“Trust me, I do,” she said, her soft voice thick with pain. “I’ve seen more than my share of the supernatural. How do you think I ended up like this?”
“What?” I asked, taking another look at her. She was thin, unhealthily so, and trembling slightly. Her eyes were sunken and slightly bruised, her lips chapped and dry.
“Charlie did this to me,” she said, and I felt a lump form in my throat.
It didn’t seem possible. Whatever was wrong with her, it looked like illness, something eating her up from the inside. How could Charlie have done a thing like that? And even if she could, why would she?
“You really want to know?” she asked, a flicker of a challenge in her deep brown eyes.
“No… but I need to,” I said. I couldn’t afford to turn down any information that could be useful, even if I couldn’t verify it.
Rachel sighed, taking a moment to gather her clearly limited energy.
“Earlier this year, Charlie disappeared. You might know about that. She was, she was everything to me. I had to find her.” Her eyes were wet, her breathing ragged. “I found somebody. She was powerful, like Charlie is now. She gave me some of that power, so that I could save Charlie. And Charlie ripped it out of me.”
I thought back to the questions I had before, remembering how the Vigilante, which I now knew was Charlie, hadn’t been known for superhuman strength or speed until after Impact Day.
“So that’s how Charlie-“
“Yes,” Rachel said. “And it’s why I’m like this now.”
“Who was the woman?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” Rachel said coldly. “She’s gone now.”
The two of us stared at each other, an uncomfortable silence filling the air. I didn’t know if I could trust her, if I could believe everything she was saying, but I also didn’t have any reason not to.
I didn’t even know what her motivations were. If I was going to pick apart any possible lies, I needed to know what she was hoping to achieve.
“So what do you want from me?” I asked, hoping it didn’t come across as bluntly as it sounded.
“How did you get your powers?”
“Powers? Look, even if I did know what you were talking about-“
“Sabrina, please,” she said, stunning me. “Look at me.”
“How do you know my name?” I demanded.
“Look at me,” she repeated. “Knowledge is all I have.”
Everything about her felt wrong. She knew too much, arrived too quickly, expected me to trust her with nothing to back it up.
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you. Nobody did this to me, it just happened.”
That wasn’t even a lie. Whatever had happened to me, it wasn’t something that anybody did, at least as far as I knew. I couldn’t help her even if I wanted to, which I didn’t.
“There’s somebody who can help me, though,” she said, refusing to be discouraged. “The blonde woman. I know you were with her.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I insisted.
Rachel rolled her eyes, then winced at the pain it caused. I watched as she reached into her bag, pulling out a tablet. She tapped the screen a few times, then flipped it over to show it to me.
“CCTV footage. She picked you up and carried you away.”
It was that night. Impact Day. I watched myself run into the burning building, looking for survivors. I tripped, stumbled on something, before finding Zoe. Her blood was everywhere. I reached out to her. She twitched. There was a blinding flash, then I was unconscious. Zoe pulled herself off of the pipe she was impaled on, and the wound healed almost instantly. She picked me up, and just like Rachel had said, she carried me away.]
“Where did you-“
“I deleted it from their server,” she assured me. “I have the only copies. Please, I just want to talk to her.”
“Why? Why do you think she can help you?”
“I don’t know if she can help me, but I can’t think of anyone else,” she said. “I’m desperate. And Charlie is looking for me. If I don’t figure something out soon…”
I sighed and threw my hands up, defeated. I still wasn’t sure if I could trust her, but if anyone could handle herself, it was Zoe. She could decide for herself whether to believe Rachel, and whether or not she would help her.
“Okay. I’ll take you to her. But she’s not going to like it.”