By the time I made it back to Zoe’s base, my mind was made up. I felt resolve, clarity of purpose, and that felt good.
“Change of plan,” I said quickly, as soon as the door was shut behind me. Rachel and Zoe both looked up from their construction work. Rachel breathed a sigh of relief, playing it up for effect.
“Oh thank fuck.”
“Another distraction?” Zoe asked, equal parts critical and curious.
“I need Gabriel,” I replied, and she froze. Her eyes narrowed, and her lips curled into a sneer.
That… wasn’t the response I was expecting. Not that it mattered. She wasn’t in charge, regardless of what she thought.
“You don’t want to be free of him? You’re enjoying hiding?”
“You don’t stand a chance against him,” Zoe said.
So people keep telling me. It’s getting a little old.
“So help me,” I said. “He’s down two teammates, and Ami isn’t exactly helping him. When will you get another opportunity like this?”
There it is. That cleverness, that calculating intellect. You’re weighing up the options, seeing the opportunity. You think I don’t know you, but you’re wrong.
“I don’t want to kill him,” she said. She sounded almost… tender.
That was wrong. Of course she wanted to kill him. They were arch-nemesis, locked in battle for what, a century? Two? The details escaped me, but they were at war. His team had captured her. It was all…
“You’ll never understand,” she said cutting through my internal crisis. “We were born together. We rebelled together, ran together. We love each other, and always will. Just because we chose different sides, doesn’t mean I would ever want a world without him.”
But that’s not fair…
No, that was a momentary setback, nothing more. I didn’t need her; it just would have made things easier. Well, whatever. To hell with her.
“So you won’t help me.”
She went back to work, delicately but rapidly assembling tiny components, putting together what looked like a futuristic circuit board.
So that was that, then. Fine. Gabriel couldn’t be that hard to find, surely.
“I’ll help,” Rachel said. “But only because I don’t think you can kill him. I don’t think you want to kill him.”
Technically, she was half-right. All I really wanted was to take his power. Killing him would just be a nice bonus, after what he did to Veronica.
Wasn’t like I could say that, though. She couldn’t know stealing powers was something I could do, in case I ever had to fight her. It seemed unlikely, but I still didn’t trust her, not by a long shot. She had some other scheme in the works.
“Whatever,” I said coldly.
“Just tell me what you need,” Rachel said, sighing again. Zoe glanced up, and the two of them exchanged a look, but it meant nothing to me.
“Get me in a room with him,” I said. “And make sure he can’t run.”
I could have asked for more. Death traps, maybe. I didn’t want her to have any more control over the situation than I was already giving up by including her.
“You’re signing your own death warrant,” Zoe said, as I walked out of the room.
“It’s not like you’d miss me,” I muttered.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Zoe replied, just loud enough for me to hear.
Rachel joined me in the next room, frantically scrawling something in a large sketchbook. She met my eye, her hand still moving unsupervised.
“I’ve got a plan,” she said. “Help me build it and this will be over a lot faster.”
Perfect. Something to take my mind off of things, and the chance to pre-vet the place and make sure Rachel didn’t leave any nasty surprises for me, as well.
“Fine. Let’s go.”
We found an abandoned apartment complex, not too big, not too far from the city centre. I spent the better part of a day salvaging yet more scrap, a job I was very familiar with, and carrying them to the site Rachel had picked out.
She started working immediately, bashing down walls and setting up some kind of arcane construct inside them. I only caught glimpses, watching it all progress in stages, but I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what she was doing. All I knew was that it looked incredibly complicated, and she’d spent all of half an hour thinking about it before she started working.
“This was all off the top of your head?” I asked, dumping another pile of heavy metal in the middle of the room.
“That’s how my power works,” she said, shrugging and not taking her eyes off the wires she was delicately threading.
Twenty-two odd hours later, with neither of us resting, the work was done. Rachel showed no signs of fatigue, and she’d worked so fast, so relentlessly, I began to suspect she’d replaced herself with some kind of robotic clone.
When she finally did relax, though, it was the most human display I’d seen from her in a while. She groaned loudly, leaning back on her hands with her legs spread. I just watched as she let herself tip over, bouncing on her shoulder once and rolling onto her back.
No rest for the wicked, Rachel.
“So, now how do we get him here?” I asked, standing above her, arms folded. I wasn’t even close to worn out. If anything, I felt ready for a fight.
“Already took care of it,” she mumbled, eyes closed.
“Don’t ask,” she said. Her eyes fluttered open, and she pulled herself back up to a sitting position. Our eyes met, and for a brief moment, I thought I saw concern. “Just… don’t die.”
“Won’t be a problem.”
She nodded, hauling herself to her feet, and brushed the dust and plaster off her clothes. We exchanged one final look, then she left.
The moment we were alone, Envy appeared in the centre of the room. She looked satisfied, confident even.
“Just do exactly as I say,” she instructed.
I didn’t bother saying anything back. She walked over to a wall, leaning against it, and I took her place in the centre of the room. Together, in silence, we waited.
It didn’t take long for Gabriel to arrive. I’d have to grill Rachel later to find out what she’d done to lure him here; it seemed very suspicious. He just walked in like he was expected, and even smiled when he saw me.
“Hello again, Sabrina.”
This is a trap, you idiot. Aren’t you supposed to be intelligent?
He looked around casually, his posture relaxed and his expression friendly. We’d see how long that lasted.
“I seem to have walked into a trap,” he said idly. “How clumsy of me.”
His arrogance grated on me like nothing else had. No fear, no concern, just… indulgence. He was treating me like a child, playing pretend.
I’m going to enjoy killing you.
“Everyone seems to be underestimating me, lately,” I said. Time for that to change.
He smiled more broadly, his eyes locked intensely on mine. It was mildly off-putting.
“My apologies. What can I do for you, my dear?”
Arrogant, pompous shitheel.
“I need him distracted,” Envy said. Gabriel showed no signs of having heard her. “Thinking about you would be even better. Fight him.”
I cracked my knuckles, smiling genuinely for the first time in days.
“You infected Veronica, Gabriel. You can die.”
No fear, no concern. Just indulgence.
“C’est la vie,” he said.