“I don’t like this,” I said, sitting in the backseat of Joey’s car.
“None of us do, Carter” Shay responded, riding shotgun. “But we need to get to the bottom of this.”
It’s not everyday you find out that there’s a religion being formed around you. I’d wager it’s even less often that the man spearheading said religious movement is actually your best friend’s father. Less common than both of those events was probably the idea of a new religion popping up as some sort of evil plan.
At least, that’s what Shay thought was going on.
“Still don’t see why I don’t just call Raina and ask her what’s up,” I said, grumpily. “You guys know she won’t lie to me.”
“What he know, Carter Bro, is that Andrew Davenport, a bunch of our friends, and some mystery chick are dressing up like a bunch of conspicuously evil cultists, and they’re trying to use you somehow,” Joey said in a tone that showed he was clearly as dissatisfied with the situation as I was.
Sure, Raina and Olivia treated him like a joke, but he and Eve had become pretty decent friends, and he knew how much the situation was hurting Malcolm and I.
“Doesn’t the fact that Andrew didn’t out me during his speech mean that no one told him that Carter Myers is Lightning Bee?” I proposed. “If Raina and the others had really betrayed us, wouldn’t they have told him?”
“No one is saying that they’ve betrayed us,” Malcolm said, almost relaxed in tone. “We just know that something isn’t right, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
I leaned back and crossed my arms.
“At least we agree that they haven’t turned on us,” I said.
“Oh come on, Carter!” Malcolm shouted. He turned to face me, but I didn’t look back at him. He poked his head into the front, and asked, “Why am I sitting back here? The kid is gonna fry me.”
“No he won’t,” Shay assured him. “He works off fear, not anger, remember? Besides, he knows I’ll kick his butt if he does.”
“Sure, side with him,” I mumbled.
The other didn’t want us talking to Raina. They thought it’d be too risky. Approaching Andrew would have been even more dangerous, and we didn’t even know who the mystery woman from the news report was.
For finding out the truth, that left Eve and Olivia as potential sources.
After Eve moved out of their apartment, she’d given Malcolm her and Olivia’s new address. However, Malcolm, nor any of our group, had been invited over.
So, as we made our way to their home, we weren’t too sure what to expect.
“This can’t be right,” Joey said, looking at the map on his phone.
“What’s the problem?” Shay asked.
“I don’t think there’s any problem per say, but from the looks of where we’re heading, “18 Hardwick Drive” is a part of the Prime Precinct.”
“What?!” Shay and I shouted, nearly leaping out of our seats.
“Sure, blow out of eardrums, will ya,” Malcolm said sardonically. “What’s so special about the Prime Precinct?”
“You know where Raina’s mansion is?” Shay asked rhetorically. “Well, that neighborhood is filled with newer homes, occupied by Noveau riche. The Prime Precinct on the other hand is filled with enormous homes which have stood for hundreds of years. If you live there, your family is rich, and odds are, its been rich for a long time.”
Before any of us responded, Joey made a turn, leading us onto a long, nearly empty street, beautiful palm trees on either side of the road. Considering there weren’t palm trees anywhere else in the state as far as I was aware, someone with a powerful green thumb must have grown them.
“So we’ve been getting lied to for months,” Malcolm said.
“By who though?” Shay proposed. “The girl who was working as a receptionist when we met her, or the convicted felon?”
“Could be both,” Joey said, prompting the rest of us to stare at him coldly. “Or not. Not both,” he said awkwardly.
We soon reached the end of the road, where a gate resided, a security booth located right next to it.
“Huh. A gated community,” Malcolm sighed.
Shay and I both sighed, and then spoke in unison.
“Damn rich people.”
Joey lowered his window and pulled up to the security booth, and the mustachioed, Caucasian man inside turned on the intercom.
“Good afternoon,” he said. “Who are you here to see?”
“Olivia and Eve, uh…” Joey paused, probably needing a second to remember Olivia’s last name. “Volkoff.”
“Hm,” the security guard said, looking down at a journal. “I’m sorry, there are no residents in this community with that surname.”
Shay hit the glove compartment with an open fist.
“They must have gone with Eve’s last name,” she said. “Anyone know what it is?”
We all froze.
“Fucking Hell,” Malcolm said. “I don’t know.”
“You were living with her for months,” I said, looking for any reason to criticize Malcolm. “How do you not know her last name.”
“It never came up.”
“Look, sir,” Joey said. “It may seem strange that we don’t know their last names, but we really are good friends with Eve and Olivia. Can’t you call their house? Our names are Joey, Carter, Malcolm, and Shay.”
The security guard nodded his head a few times.
“Sure thing,” he said, picking up a phone.
“Well, this should be a good test at least,” Shay said. “If they’re still our friends, they’ll have him let us in.”
“And if they don’t?” I asked.
Shay swallowed, knowing her answer would upset me.
“Then we have confirmation that we may need to take them down.”
Sullen, I stared down at the floor of the car.
Unexpectedly, Malcolm put his hand on my shoulder.
“Like I said earlier, kid. None of us wants them to be guilty of anything.”
Malcolm retracted his hand and was sent moving back a few inches when a few sparks flew off me and hit him.
“Yow!” he screamed.
“You should know by now not to touch me when I’m scared.”
A few moments later, the security guard hung up the phone and smiled.
“Alright, only one of the Mrs. Saxons are home, but she’s more than happy to see you. Her address is 18 Hardwick Drive. Have a nice day,” he finished, pressing a button which opened the gate.
“Thank you,” Joey said politely as he drove through the gate.
Strangely, Shay froze up completely as he did so.
“So, Eve’s last name is Saxon,” Malcolm said. “Guess I really should have known that.”
“I’m just glad that this will put all of your fears to rest,” I said. “Whichever one of them is home wants us to come in, and that means that…”
“God fucking dammit!” Shay screamed, cutting me off as she repeatedly slammed her arms against the car’s console.
“What’s the matter, babe?” Malcolm asked, worried. “This is kind of a good thing.”
“No,” she said softly. “It isn’t. We are fucked. We are so totally fucked!”
“I think I’m missing something,” Joey said.
“Shocker,” a now supremely pissed Shay said. “Don’t any of you recognize the name, “Saxon?”
“Nope,” Joey answered.
“Can’t say I do,” I said, embarrassed.
“In my defense, my amnesia makes it so I don’t know about a lot of things,” Malcolm said.
Shay sighed as Joey continued to drive.
All around us were beautiful, massive houses. There were crisp, green, beautiful lawns, with huge amounts of land surrounding each home. None of them were quite as large or extravagant as Raina’s estate, but seeing as her family was the richest in the world, that wasn’t surprising.
“Okay boys, here’s a history lesson,” a stressed Shay began. “You know how nobody likes Nazis? Well, guess what, back during World War II, General Felix Saxon and his wife Ilsa Saxon were two of the most heinous Nazis there were. They also had a daughter named Genevieve. Although they were both from wealthy families, they lost everything after the war, and they had to flee the country.”
As Shay spoke, I continued to look out the window. Among all of the sprawling mansions, there were also a few oddly shaped houses. One of them was even shaped like an “E”.
“No one knows the details of what caused her to do so,” Shay went on. “…but Genevieve ended up killing her parents. Upon growing up, she developed the power to inject any chemical which had ever entered her body into other people, through her fingertips.”
“Oh!” I shouted. “You’re talking about Syringe!”
“At least you know your super villains, little brother,” Shay responded. “But yes, Genevieve Saxon was the villain, Syringe. Of course, the world didn’t know that for many years. And, in the intervening time, she accomplished a lot. She put together Saxon Dynamics, assembled her own personal team of super villains known as the Syringe Family, and became the biggest crime lord in Bluejay City.”
“Oh man,”Joey said. “And you’re saying that Eve is her daughter?”
Shay shook her head.
“Syringe was never brought to justice. One day, Genevieve Saxon was murdered. Her case was never solved, but suspicion surrounded her adopted daughter…” she paused. “Olivia.”
Olivia is Syringe’s daughter?! I thought to myself. That’s weird to think, but…
“So her mom was a villain,” I said. “Not too sure what makes us so fucked.”
Shay pressed her hand against her face.
“I should have seen it sooner. She just looked so different. I didn’t know her by any name but Saxon. And Volkoff is such a common Russian name I thought it was a coincidence!”
“Babe, I’m super confused. Please explain for the rest of us.”
Shay wiped her face with both of her palms.
“After Genevieve was killed, Olivia assumed control over Saxon Dynamics and the Syringe Family. And she also ran for President of the United States.”
“Okay, that’s weird,” Joey said, making a U-turn. “…but I still don’t get what has you spooked.”
Shay sighed heavily.
“In the years Olivia was in control, up until the Guardianship brought her and her entire crime syndicate to justice, she was attempting to basically take over the world. Crime, business, politics, she wanted to control it all.” Shay turned around so she was looking at Malcolm and I directly. “If Andrew has let her off her leash and she has her fortune back…if she’s working with the Davenports…this whole Church of Lightning Bee is just an attempt to finish what Olivia started 20 years ago.”
“Okay,” I said, nodding. “Starting to see the problem.”
“But how does Eve fit into this?” Malcolm asked. “Sure, she loves Olivia and is kind of amoral, but I think she would have told us about this. And Jesus, how much of this does Raina know?!”
“Hopefully, we can get answers to those questions now,” Joey said, stopping the car. “We’re here.”
Beside the car was a golden gate with an “S” sculpted into it, behind which lied Eve and Olivia’s fabulous estate.
“Looks like there’s another intercom,” Shay said.
“I got it,” Malcolm responded, hopping out of the car, and making his way to the intercom mounted next to the gate. “Hey Mrs. Saxon,” he said, being sure to put emphasis on the surname. “Wanna open up?”
Moment of truth, I thought. Is Eve or Olivia home?
“Heeeeeeeeey,” Eve shouted over the intercom. “I’m so happy you guys decided to come visit! Just drive up the main path and you’ll reach the manor! Ahhh! I’m so excited to show you guys everything!”
The gates opened up, and Malcolm got back into the car.
“Welp, she certainly doesn’t sound like someone out to take over the world,” Joey said as he started the car back up.
“Joey, what do you think someone who wants to take over the world sounds like?” Shay asked.
“I dunno,” he answered, beginning to drive down a path made of red and white tiles. “I imagine there’d be a maniacal laugh thrown into their speech every sentence or two.”
As we drove, I observed a lot of the things on the estate other than the main mansion, which, just from a distance, I could tell actually dwarfed Raina’s. There was an awesome looking pool, a tennis court, a freaking helipad, 10 foot tall fountains, and more.
After a few minutes, we finally reached the mansion.
“Remember, we have to be ready for anything,” Shay said as we all vacated Joey’s car.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll prepare for Smog, Gordon, and Salaran to be standing right behind the front door.”
Shay punched my shoulder, evidently not finding my joke funny.
I needed to make jokes like that though. In the end, all of this was just a distraction. Whether or not Olivia was out to take over the world didn’t change the fact that Smog was coming soon.
Malcolm rang the doorbell, which was shaped like a mermaid with enormous breasts, and what sounded like a piece from my high school music theory class started playing.
Just a few seconds later, the door opened, a Spanish woman in a gray maid’s dress gesturing with her arm for us to come in.
“Thank you,” all four of us said at different times as we entered the mansion.
Much like the exterior, the interior proved to be even more impressive than Raina’s home. The marble floor had alternating black and white tiles, while the walls and furniture were a combination of white and a pinkish red. There were lanterns and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and there was an enormous staircase on either end of the room, both leading to to a second floor.
To one side of the main hall, there was a relatively small area where a few luxurious looking sofas surrounded a coffee table, and also there was what appeared to be a throne.
“Uh, guys,” Malcolm said, pointing across the hall.
We turned, and what we saw was a large, brown grizzly bear, sleeping on a little bed in the corner.
“What the fuc..” I started, before being cut off.
“Heeeeeeey!” Eve shouted, beginning to make her way down the enormous staircase.
Eve’s appearance was vastly different from the last time we saw her. Her previously short dirty blonde hair was now down below her shoulders, her makeup was a lot heavier and flashier, and her casual clothes had been replaced by a long, slinky panther print dress and stilettos.
“Wow,” Malcolm said, stunned by her appearance.
“Down boy,” Shay said, hitting Malcolm’s stomach, and smiling for the first time in over an hour.
“Come on, just impressed is all,” Malcolm whispered. “She’s got nothing on you and your beautiful nose.”
His comment prompted Shay to laugh.
And upon seeing her laugh, I smiled as well.
Maybe I was being too hard on Malcolm, but Shay meant more to me than anything. Deep down, I was probably still judging Malcolm for being a killer, but…I dunno. Now that my mind was more focused on other things, they seemed kinda cute together.
“I’m so glad you all came,” Eve said, cheerily, walking up to us. “I’m not sure how much of this you’re gonna like, but one way or another, we have a lot to talk about.”