Part 3 – Rachel
Everyone has an agenda. Charlie taught me that, and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. With her, it was never about love, it was about what I could do for her, for her crusade. The crusade that should have killed her, if only that were even possible.
Strangely, she didn’t scare me. I wondered what that said about me, that an immortal superhuman could declare to the entire world that she was coming for me, and I wasn’t the least bit scared. A dark part of my brain laughed. What else could she even take from me at this point?
That night was a vivid memory to me, one I relived every time I closed my eyes. I was lying on my back, fingers gripping the sides of the table, as her knife cut me open, and she reached in and stole the borrowed power inside of me. She walked away a demigod. I could barely walk at all.
I remembered the scream, the horrifying, piercing shriek that had literally torn open the sky, and brought monsters into the world. I remembered the way the pain had shown on her face, the way she’d dropped to the ground, clutching herself like she was trying to keep from being ripped up from the inside.
The memories were so intense, I didn’t realise I was dreaming until I woke up, breathing ragged, covered in sweat. Adrenaline surged through my system and I felt disoriented, wondering what I was doing in what looked like a run down hospital room. It took a few moments to remember.
This was Zoe’s home, an abandoned medical facility that Sabrina had led me to. Somewhere I would be safe, and maybe, somewhere I could recover.
As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I noticed Sabrina sitting across the room, her legs folded up against her chest, a wary expression on her face. If she noticed me wake up, she didn’t give any indication of it.
“Were you watching me sleep?” I asked, struggling to pull myself up to a seated position. Every muscle in my body felt weak, barely able to support my own weight. My bones felt brittle, and I couldn’t stop shaking.
“Asks the girl who broke into my room,” Sabrina retorted, shifting her weight, swinging her legs down to hang off the side of the table.
“My life was at risk,” I protested. “Is still at risk.”
“Necessity is the mother of all evil,” she said, and I didn’t have the energy to tell her she was mixing her metaphors. It didn’t seem like a conversation worth having.
“So is there a reason behind you watching me?”
“I don’t trust you,” she said bluntly.
I sighed. “Well, at least you’re honest about it.”
She dropped off the side of the table, crossing the room to get closer to me. She lacked Zoe’s animalistic grace when she inhabited her own body.
“How do you know so much?” she demanded, a determined expression fixed on her face.
“I was with Charlie through the whole process,” I said, shrugging. “I’ve been dealing with this shit a lot longer than you have.”
She shook her head. “Zoe’s machine. Why does she think you can help?”
“Because I can,” I replied, a little shortly.
Sabrina didn’t like that. She folder her arms, her suspicions intensified.
“So you’re, what, a metaphysical engineer, now?” she asked, her tone suggesting it was not a genuine question.
I sighed again, wishing something as simple as having a conversation wasn’t so exhausting. I could feel the room swimming, and my head was aching, but she wasn’t going to leave me alone until she was satisfied.
“Do you read many comics?” I asked.
“Huh? No, why?”
“You think I don’t have a power, because I’m weak,” I stated, not leaving her room to correct my assertion.
Her eyes grew wide. “Are you a mind reader?” she asked, taking a step backwards.
“No, thank fuck,” I answered, rolling my eyes. “That sounds terrible.”
“What, then?” she asked, clearly frustrated. “Super arrogance?”
I smirked. “You should sheath that wit before you cut yourself with it.” She glowered at me. I decided to answer her question. “I’m a tinker.”
The way her eyes nearly glazed over, it was almost comical.
“I have a preternatural affinity for technology,” I explained.
“That’s not a power, that’s just being a nerd,” she said accusingly.
For some reason, that annoyed me. All I wanted to do was rest, but I’d used valuable energy trying to explain to her what I could do, and all she could respond with was trying to insult me.
“You’ll eat those words some day,” I said. “Besides, Zoe thinks I’m valuable, and she’s a lot smarter than you-“
“Do try to get along, children,” Zoe said, gliding in through the open door. Speak of the devil…
“I’m leaving,” Sabrina said sharply. “I’ll get you the next item by Friday.”
She stormed out of the room, right past Zoe, who made no attempt to stop her. Once Sabrina was completely gone, Zoe raised an eyebrow in my direction.
“You upset her,” she said.
“She’ll live,” I said with yet another shrug.
“What do you think she is?” Zoe asked, suddenly serious.
“Different,” I said, not wanting to give away all of my suspicions at once. “Dangerous. Completely innocent.”
“Interesting,” she said, nodding in vague agreement. There was an awkward silence, one which she eventually filled my smiling warmly and asking, “Ready to begin your treatment?”
“Yes,” I said immediately.
“I haven’t told you what’s involved, yet,” she warned.
“It can’t possibly be worse than this,” I retorted.
“We’ll see,” was all she said in response.
“What am I in for?”
She walked over to the bed, helping me out of it. She took my hand and led me back to the main area, where she did most of her tinkering.
“Stage one is basically cleansing your system,” she said. “Are you familiar with cancer treatments?”
I shuddered. “I don’t suppose those are quick and painless where you’re from?” I asked without hope.
“I was deliberately using a more modern reference point,” she said. “We’re going to flood your system with a cytotoxic agent, combined with near-lethal, targeted doses of radiation.”
“Sounds delightful,” I said dryly. “Sign me up.”
“It’s a very specific malady we’re dealing with here,” she said, a little defensively, as if I’d disapproved of her methods.
“Tell me about stage two, then,” I said. “Brighten my spirits.”
“It’s going to hurt,” she told me. “A lot.”