Sabrina waited until Rachel left, smiling with just the right mixture of innocent and vacancy to not arouse the girl’s suspicions. At least, she hoped that’s what she was doing. She never had been any good at subterfuge. It helped that Rachel had seemed distracted, barely paying attention to her.
“How can you trust her?” Sabrina asked, as Zoe entered the room. The woman tensed at the question, her eyes darting to a corner of the room. Why? Was that guilt?
Zoe laid a hand on her shoulder, walking with her, taking her to another room. Zoe’s room. She hesitated at the doorway. Zoe just kept walking, and Sabrina decided that was invitation enough. She followed Zoe into the room.
A monitor replayed footage of the aftermath of Rachel’s surgery. Sabrina was distracted, watching as Rachel’s condition visibly improved. In the space of only an hour, she’d gone from looking almost certainly dead, to almost entirely healthy. Sabrina knew it was partially due to an infusion of Zoe’s blood. What she didn’t know was why Zoe was helping her.
She felt bad for Rachel, in a way. She knew what Charlie had done, why Rachel was so scared, and there was no way she could’ve left her to fend for herself, not with Charlie looking to kill her. That didn’t mean she trusted her, not by a long shot.
“I don’t,” Zoe said, the faintest trace of bemusement crossing her face. “I don’t need to trust her.”
“I don’t understand,” Sabrina said, looking away from the footage of the unconscious girl whose breathing was so shallow it was almost imperceptible. “You know she’s planning something, right? She has an agenda.”
“Of course she does. That’s what makes her useful. She’ll work hard for me, give me what I need, to try and convince me she’s worth taking the risk on. Then she’ll try to betray me.”
Zoe said it so calmly, so casually, Sabrina almost wondered if the woman knew what the word betray even meant. Then again, she knew Zoe was beyond intelligent, and cunning to boot. Zoe must have known something she didn’t.
“And when she does?”
“Then I betray her,” Zoe said easily. “She was foolish. Her entire skeleton is attached to a mechanical endoskeleton with an internal control mechanism. All I need to do is activate it, and she can’t do a thing. I gain complete control of her body, and she’s powerless to stop me.”
“That’s terrifying,” Sabrina said, taking a step back.
From the day Rachel had arrived, she knew the two of them were playing head games with one another, lying to each other’s faces, disguising their true motives. She played nice, played innocent, because she didn’t want to get caught in it, knew she didn’t have the same deceptive streak that would allow her to play those same games.
If she was being honest with herself, she didn’t really trust either of them. They were both up to something, more than they were letting on. She did her best not to think about it. In the end, it didn’t matter. There was nothing she could do to stop either of them, not in her present state. Possibly not ever.
Let them play their games, she told herself. It would deal with one problem for her, most likely. As long as one of them took out the other, that was one less threat to the city walking around.
Ideally, Zoe would take out Rachel, and then go home, taking out two threats in one go. If it came down to it, she knew who she’d side with. In the meantime, all she could do was try and protect as many people as she could, try and accelerate Zoe’s departure, and try to become as strong as possible, because if she was going to stop Charlie, or Gabriel, or the Celestial, she needed every tool possible at her disposal.
“There’s not a lot left that can scare me,” Zoe said softly. “Mason scares me. Damien scares me.” She paused, but didn’t bother to provide context for either of those names. Sabrina didn’t bother to ask. “Rachel scares me. Not as she is now, but the potential she possesses. I’ve never seen a power like hers, don’t know what its limits are. I suspect, if left unchecked, she could become unstoppable. I don’t want to leave this world at risk of that. Worse still, she knows enough about my machine, could reconstruct it, could one day threaten my world.”
“You’re going to kill her,” Sabrina realised. “No matter what she does, even if she doesn’t betray you.”
“Yes,” Zoe said.
Sabrina took another step back, pausing in the doorway. It wasn’t like she didn’t agree with Zoe. She had the same fears, would probably do the same thing, at least in principle. She didn’t have the same cruel streak, but Rachel was definitely a threat that would need to be dealt with.
What worried her was what Zoe was going to do to her. She knew better than to assume she was safe, that Zoe wasn’t thinking about her in the same way.
Sabrina didn’t think of herself as powerful, didn’t feel powerful, but she know how her power would look to someone like Zoe. Was Zoe going to try and kill her as well? Something worse?
She needed help, an ally of some kind, someone she could trust.
If only someone like that existed.