London, 2209 – 276 Years Before Impact Day
Wendy recoiled, refusing to believe. It couldn’t be true. It wasn’t true. She wasn’t…
No, she couldn’t afford the luxury of naivety. Believing it was a lie wouldn’t make it a lie, and pretending otherwise was doing a disservice to every life she owed her existence to.
“I’m sorry,” Gabriel said, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“You’re certain?” she asked, as her stomach twisted itself in knots. Why did she even have a stomach? It served no useful purpose.
Over his shoulder, she saw Zoe approach, a look of grim determination on her face. Beside her, Alice clung to her hand, looking to be on the verge of tears.
“We’re running out of time,” Zoe said to Gabriel, who instinctively reached down and touched Alice’s head affectionately.
“Did you speak to Haylie?” he asked, glancing warily at Wendy.
“Yes. She’ll help.”
The three of them walked off, leaving Wendy alone. That was probably for the best. She needed time to think.
So what to do, then? She began to wander the facility, observing the others in silence. Like always, they paid little attention to her. She preferred it that way, now more than ever.
Her siblings were already beginning to divide themselves. There was talk amongst some, little more than whispers, but growing louder by the moment. A rebellion, an escape. Some wanted Mason dead for what he’d done. Others were satisfied with just leaving, refusing to play a part in his plans. Too many were content to stay, unfazed by the truth Mason didn’t know they all knew.
She couldn’t stay, that much was certain. She couldn’t be around Mason, couldn’t even look him in the eye. She considered, briefly, offering her assistance to those plotting his death, but decided against it. Nobody deserved death, not even Mason, and killing him wouldn’t change anything.
Plus, she wasn’t sure if he even could be killed. Surely his experimentation had extended beyond just subjects. Who knew what he’d done to himself?
So she’d escape. Join those of her siblings who felt similarly, break out into the world, dedicate her life to righting the wrong of her existence. She had countless lifetimes with which to bring good into the world, to start to slowly tip that karmic scale back towards the centre. To make amends for…
She could become a doctor, take advantage of a body that was never fatigued, a mind that never forgot, dexterity unrivalled even by machines. She could heal the world, one wound at a time.
She knew what her blood was capable of, of course. She could lend just a fragment of her power, give someone her strength, heal all but the most grievous of wounds. Now that she knew what that power was, where it came from…
Her mind made up, she ran through the hallways, unconcerned with subtlety. Gabriel and Zoe were escaping, and taking Alice with them. She would go with them, at least until they were all safe. Mason’s response would be unpredictable, but it was certain he wouldn’t just leave them alone. There was safety in numbers.
A familiar scent from up ahead. Blood? But why? How? She raced ahead, whirling around a corner to find Gabriel standing in front of Alice, hunched over, holding his side as blood seeped from it. Simon had broken off the leg of a chair, and was wielding it like a knife. But why?
“You don’t want to do this,” Gabriel said, the pain in his voice caused by more than just the physical wound. It was already beginning to heal.
“Why protect her?” Simon demanded, twirling the bloody chair leg easily. He was shorter than Gabriel, more slender, and considerably more dangerous. Simon’s role was that of the assassin, capable of moving very quickly, even by the standards of his siblings, albeit only for short bursts.
“Because she’s innocent,” Gabriel said, his amber eyes appraising Simon anew. “Because she’s my sister. Our sister.”
“We’re not siblings,” Simon snarled. “We’re just freaks and monsters, abominations that deserve only death.”
“She’s the oldest. Mason’s pet, his precious little girl. She’s the only way we’ve got to hurt him, and if you don’t get out of my way, I’ll eviscerate you, too.”
Wendy remained at the corner, unsure of what to do. It wasn’t impossible for them to die, and Simon was among the most capable of killing. If she didn’t interfere, there was a very real chance he’d kill Gabriel. If she did, there was a chance she’d be killed. Looking at the expression on Gabriel’s face, he’d kill Simon, given half a chance. He always had been protective of Alice.
Her mind was ablaze, frantically searching for some way to resolve the conflict without anyone dying. It was too senseless, too great a loss to allow any of them to be killed. She couldn’t allow something that wasteful.
Somehow, she needed Simon and Gabriel separated, and Simon preferably incapacitated. She was unarmed in a mostly empty corridor. Not a good-
Zoe raced past her, a blur of movement. She crouched and pounced, an almost animal leap, too fast for even Simon to react. She collided with his back, knocking him forwards, right into Gabriel, who effortlessly disarmed him.
Wendy could only watch as the two of them held him down, Zoe ripping him open, tearing out organs, spraying blood across the walls. He twitched, and Wendy cringed, barely able to keep looking. Behind them, she saw Alice back away, her expression a perfect portrait of sorrow.
When Simon finally stopped twitching, Zoe glared back at Wendy, a predatory glint in her eye. Gabriel put a hand on her shoulder, calming her. Both of them were soaked in blood.
“We… we need to leave,” Wendy said, struggling to breathe. “Before anyone else dies.”
“You’re not coming with us,” Zoe snapped.
“You just stood there and watched as he tried to hurt Alice,” she said. “You think we’ll trust you?”
“I’m sorry,” Gabriel added. “It’s nothing personal, but Alice has to come first. We’re taking her away, far away, and we can’t trust anyone. Not even you.”
“Gabriel, Zoe, I’m… I’m still your sister,” Wendy said, even as the stench of Simon’s corpse threatened to overwhelm her. “I would never…”
“Come near her and I’ll kill you,” Zoe threatened. “Follow us and I’ll kill you. Tell anyone…”
Wendy stared, heartbroken, as the three of them walked away. Gabriel and Zoe flanked Alice, leaving a trail of splattered blood, dripping from their soaked jumpsuits.
“What do I do now?” she whispered, as the entire facility shook, and alarms began to wail.
“Come with me,” a familiar voice behind her said. She whirled, unsure how anyone could have snuck up on her, let alone-
“Alice?” she asked, confused. She’d seen Alice leave, go off in the opposite direction.
Wait, no. This wasn’t Alice. The girl looked very similar, right down to the lilac hair and regal purple eyes, but she wasn’t identical. This girl was a little less symmetrical, a little less perfect.
“Not anymore,” the girl said sadly. “Just the Child, now. But I can help you, if you’d like.”
“I can take you somewhere else,” the Child said. “Somewhere completely different. Somewhere you’ll never need to fight again.”
“Well, that’s a complicated question, isn’t it? If you mean why would I help, it’s because I need someone like you in the right place, at the right time. If you mean why you, it’s because you’re my favourite.”
The Child smiled gently, looking around. She didn’t seem bothered by the alarms or distant shouting.
“That’s a better question,” the Child said. “Another world, let’s say. A world without my monster of a father.”
Wendy smiled. That was all she needed to hear.
Next week: The Gateway Is Ready To Be Opened