“Yeah, we do,” Shay said in response to Eve’s comment.
“No need to be strangers. Make yourselves at home,” Eve said, gesturing with her arm toward the sitting area in the massive hallway.
Being in a mansion wasn’t weird for me at this point. I’d spent tons of times in Raina’s. What was weird was Eve owning a mansion because her wife was adopted by a super wealthy family when she was little.
Malcolm and Shay sat down on the white and red sofa, the former putting his arm around my big sis, while I sat down in what was an incredibly sort and comfortable chair,
Joey was about to sit down in the chair that looked more like a throne, when Eve screamed.
“What’s the matter?” Joey asked.
“Only Olivia can sit there,” she answered as a matter of fact, her smile disappearing.
“It’s a chair,” Joey laughed.
“It’s a throne,” Eve corrected him, corroborating my idea of what it was. “Olivia’s throne.”
“Just go along with it Joey,” Shay said.
Joey nodded, and took a seat on the sofa opposite the one Malcolm and Shay were sitting on.
With the big “throne debacle” resolved, Eve put her smile back on.
“So, much as I’d like to have some small talk with you guys, I know you’d rather get straight to the point,”
“Correct,” Malcolm said, looking like he was tightening his grip on Shay.
“Okay,” she said. “That’s fine, but, before we begin, would any of you like anything? Tea, beer, wine?”
Joey raised a finger and opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, Shay spoke for all of us.
A bummed out Joey frowned and dropped his arm to his lap.
“Hey, hold on a damn minute,” Eve’s smile widened as she spoke. “Do my eyes deceive me Malcolm, or is your arm around Shay?”
“Well, you see…”
“YES!” Eve screamed. “Olivia owes me 10 grand. She thought you two wouldn’t hook up for a few more months, but I was dead on!” While I was trying to figure out if I was the only one who didn’t see this relationship coming, Shay clearly was just unamused,sneering at Eve. “So, where would you like to start?” she asked, taking a seat and crossing her legs.
“How about you tell us…”
“Why is there a bear sleeping in the corner?!” Joey and I loudly asked in unison, almost immediately, both of our eyes focused on the sleeping mammal.
“Oy vey,” Shay mumbled, face palming. Eve just giggled though, and went on to give us a straight answer.
“His name is Konfo. One of Olivia’s closest friends when she was younger, Annie, had the power to talk to animals. As a good fit, she grew up in the woods. And, um…”
Eve broke out in laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Malcolm asked.
“No, no it’s just, um. This is really fucking weird.”
“Come on, Eve,” Malcolm said. “You know what we’ve all seen. It couldn’t be any weirder than…”
“Annie and Konfo started dating,” Eve blurted out.
All of our mouths dropped, Joey’s eyes popping as well.
“They…” I said. “They weren’t…”
“Having sex?” Eve said, finishing my question. “According to Olivia, no, thank God, but who knows, maybe Olivia didn’t know the whole story.”
“That is so gross,” Joey whispered.
“Wait a second, so why is Konfo living here?” Malcolm asked. “And you said that Annie was from Olivia’s life when she was younger. How long do bears even live?”
Eve maintained her smile, but she was clearly forcing it.
“Annie’s fate isn’t something Olivia would want me disclosing. As for Konfo, Olivia’s mom did Annie a huge solid. Had him genetically modified. That big, furry lug is gonna outlive us all.”
“I see,” Shay said, crossing her own legs. “And, I’m guessing this genetic modification was performed by Olivia’s mother herself using her power, right, Mrs. Saxon?”
Damn it Sis, I thought as Shay finished speaking, giving Eve a hard stare. Why were you being so adversarial?
Eve shut her eyes and nodded.
“So, we’re moving on to the serious stuff. OK. Shay, I can already tell you’re the one leading this witch hunt, so why don’t you ask me anything you want?”
All eyes were on Shay, and Shay wasn’t taking her’s off of Eve, whose current smile was smug enough to resemble Raina’s.
“Well, unlike the boys, I actually know my history. So, we already know who Olivia’s mother was, and what Olivia was attempting to do before The Guardianship took her down. So we can skip all of that.”
“OK,” Eve said, in a tone that made it clear she didn’t care what Shay was saying.
And if something was clear to me, it was clear to Shay as well.
“Right,” Shay said, slapping the arms of her chair. “Let’s start with an easy one. How did you really meet Olivia? Cause I’m not buying for a second that your chance meeting at our old apartment was the first time you two met.”
Malcolm and I both turned out heads to Shay.
“Babe, you know what you’re saying right?” Malcolm asked. “You actually think that every time we’ve seen Eve and Olivia together, its all been an act?”
“Sorry Malcolm, but your girlfriend is spot on,” Eve said, to everyone but Shay’s surprise. “You’re a Hell of a detective, Shay.”
“Thanks,” Shay said grumpily, as if that wasn’t a compliment.
“But, you guys are our friends,” I said. “Why would you do that?”
“The answer to that and Shay’s initial question are part of the same story. You see, after Liv took over her mother’s company, she obviously needed an assistant. At the time, I’d just finished business school and was sending out applications everywhere.”
“And Olivia chose you,” I said.
“Nope!” she responded, cheerfully. “I got a hard rejection. Don’t even think Liv looked at my application. Fortunately, I did get hired by someone else.” She laughed. “Man, Carter, Shay, you guys are gonna be so jelly.”
“Spill it, Eve.”
Eve stroked her hair, a smirk directed at Malcolm and Shay.
“WHAT?!” Shay and I screamed, the two of us almost flying out of our seats.
“Yup. Never did get to see him under the mask, but for a few months, whenever he was running things at Panda corp, I was at his side.” Eve turned to me with a look that sent shivers, and electricity, down my spine. “Oh, and I also got to hang out with the full team a few times.”
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!” I croaked as I slipped out of my seat completely, writing on the floor with envy.
“Breath, Carter bro,” Joey said. “It’s not too big a deal. Darling was my cousin. And you and Shay got to spend a whole day with King Power.”
“But the whole team,” I said in a high-pitched tone, from the floor. “That is so cool!”
“Yeah, I guess,” Eve said. “At least until I quit.”
“Ha bi qua mi na to,” I uttered as complete gibberish as I stood up. “Why would you ever quit?!”
“Well, one day, Panda had a lunch meeting with Olivia. They were working on something together, but I don’t quite remember what.”
That was a lie. I knew people, and I certainly knew my friends. And I could tell from how she said it that that was a lie. It didn’t seem like a major thing though, so for now, I decided to let it slide.
“This was the first time I’d ever gotten to lay eyes on Olivia, and guys, if you think Olivia is something to look at now, you should have seen her back then. Long, perfect hair, a killer look, a radiance of power and authority…”
“Eve, you’re drooling,” Malcolm commented.
“Oh, oops,” she said, wiping her mouth. “My bad.” Eve brushed her hair back and put herself back together. “Anyway, the two were eating lunch on the balcony outside of Olivia’s office. Olivia and Panda were talking, and Olivia was getting really frustrated with Panda’s attitude. In a sudden act of rage, she grabbed her assistant’s head, and snapped his neck.”
“And Panda arrested her on the spot, right?” I asked, the answer obvious.
Eve shook her head.
“Sorry Carter. Take it from someone who kind of knew these people. You think much too highly of them.”
“You take that back!” I screamed.
“Kid, come down,” Malcolm said. “Eve, why didn’t’ Panda arrest her?”
I bit my lip to keep myself from screaming again.
Eve’s answer better be that he was undercover. And that the man wasn’t really dead, but just a man aiding the Guardianship. Otherwise, I’ll know for sure that we can’t trust a thing she says.
“The authorities were well aware that Olivia was in charge of the Syringe Family. She really wasn’t as good at hiding that as her mother. But, Olivia had also made something very clear to both the cops and Bluejay’s superhero teams. If she, or any other single member of her team was arrested, the rest of the team would go on a murderous rampage throughout the city. The city wanted to keep them playing by normal super villain rules, and NOT going on a homicidal rampage, so they played ball.”
“So,” I started. “Panda didn’t arrest her..for the greater good.” I grinned widely. “I don’t think that’s what I would have done, but it makes sense. Right Shay?!”
“Man Carter,” Eve said. “You are too much. Back to the story, when I saw Olivia kill that guy without a second thought, it was the hottest thing I’d ever seen in my life.”
We all gave her fitting stares for that one.
“Please. Like you all don’t have your own weird fetishes,” Eve said. “So, after witnessing that, I just wanted to be of help to Olivia in any way I could. And so I asked, well, if there was a number she wanted me to call for body disposal.”
“You’re crazy,” Shay said, and at this point, I was having a hard time disagreeing.
“Always have been,” Eve responded cheerfully. “Panda naturally wasn’t too happy that I’d asked that, but Olivia liked my attitude. She took a good look at me for the first time, and just like she’d blown me away, I was something else for her too. A few hours later, the paperwork had all been filed, I no longer worked for Panda, and I was officially Olivia’s assistant.” Eve’s smile became something a bit more genuine looking. “And a few hours later, for the first time, we made love.”
“Awww,” Joey said, clasping his hands together.
“Joey, you just went “Awww” about a story where two of your friends boned because they find murder hot,” Malcolm pointed out.
“Yeah, uh,” an embarrassed Joey mumbled. “I guess that is kinda weird.”
“Hold on,” Shay said. “Eve, Olivia is 39. If you were old enough to be her assistant back then, how old are you now?”
“Well, since it’s another girl asking, I’ll tell,” Eve said. “I’m 37.”
“WHAT?!” Malcolm and I screamed in shock.
“Man my voice is getting tired,” I said to myself.
“You guys didn’t think I was in that range?” Eve asked. “I have to ask, how old did you boys think I was?”
Malcolm and I looked at each other.
“Early 20’s,” we said simultaneously.
“Awwww. Thanks guys!” Eve cheered.
I got a good chuckle as Shay slammed her elbow into Malcolm’s stomach.
“What did I do?” an in pain Malcolm asked.
Shay ignored him, and turned her attention back to Eve.
“So, counting the time Olivia spent in prison, you two have been together for, what 17, 18 years?” Eve nodded. “Were you involved in her plot to take over the world?”
“Oh, totally,” Eve answered. “A few weeks into our relationship, she wasn’t making any big moves without consulting me. I was deciding who lived, and who died.”
With that, Shay leaped out of her seat, charged at Eve, and pulled her up by the straps of her dress.
“You should really get your hands off me,” Eve threatened.
“How can you talk about this all so happily?!” Shay roared. “This entire conversation has just been you explaining how you’re a terrible human being! I knew you had loose morals, but don’t you have any conscious at all?”
“Of course I do!” Eve shouted back. “I’d never hurt any of you.” She looked Shay dead in the eye. “Unless you provoked me. And I did what I did all those years ago out of love.”
“Helping a megalomaniac take over the world?”
“Olivia isn’t a megalomaniac!”
“Then why did she want to take control of everything?!”
“To protect the people she cared about!”
Eve shoved Shay back, and given the look on Shay’s face, she was surprised that Eve was capable of doing that. Frankly, so was I.
“Malcolm,” Eve said. “We don’t know what your past entailed, but based on how you turned out, I think it’s safe to say that no one in this room had a happy childhood.”
Shay and I looked at each other and exchanged nods.
“So what?” Shay asked, turning back to Eve.
“So, as bad as any of us had it, Olivia’s childhood was much, much worse. She wouldn’t want me to tell you the details but…when Syringe took her in, she went from a living Hell to a loving family. And when people in her family started getting hurt, she did what she felt was necessary to protect them. Drastic or not, I stand by what we did.”
Shay looked like she was about to explode with rage, her fists clenched and her face red.
“Okay,” Malcolm said, getting off the sofa.
“What? What do you mean, okay?” Shay asked.
Malcolm put a hand on her shoulder.
“This stuff happened over a decade ago. Now if I’d heard all this when I first met you guys, there’d already be a bullet in Eve’s skull. But…they did what they thought they had to to protect the people they loved.” Malcolm took his hand off of Shay shoulders, and held her hands. “I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t do the exact same thing if it was the only way to protect you.”
Shay shut her eyes briefly. She she smiled, and licked her lips.
Then, still holding Malcolm’s hand, she turned around and faced Eve.
“Fine, the past is the past. For now.” She sighed. “Let’s talk the present. What’s the deal with this Church of Lightning Bee business?”
Eve took a deep breath and returned to her smile.
“You two should probably sit down for this.”
Shay and Malcolm complied, holding hands as they walked back to the sofa.
“Alright, so let’s hear about the church of me,” I tried to joke.
“Funny,” Eve said. “But, actually, despite the name, you’re a very small part of what we’re doing. This is really about us. Or rather, myself and the other people you saw announcing the church.”
Andrew, Eve, Olivia, Raina, and the mystery woman, I thought to myself.
“There’s five of us now, but for the longest time there were only three of us. Olivia only joined after being released from prison, and Raina only joined last month.”
So this isn’t something Raina’s known about for a long time…
“Before we get to the stuff I know you guys probably won’t like, let me tell you some good stuff. First, the church is semi-legit. We will be promoting Lightning Bee as a figure of hope, and thus give people someone to believe in. Also, and this is the really cool part,” Eve said. “We’re the reason Smog isn’t going to win.”
“Come again,” I said, liking the sound of this.
“I can’t disclose how,” she said, looking at me. “But when you go to fight Smog, thanks to us, you’ll at least have a fighting chance.”
“You really have to be so mysterious about this?” Malcolm asked. “It’s kind of a big deal.”
“Afraid so,” she answered. “But I can tell you that we’ll be happy to see him die. He’s just as much a problem for us as he is for you.”
Wow. If she was telling the truth, then maybe Smog wasn’t going to kill us all. Maybe we really could stop him.
“I really hope you’re telling us the truth,” Shay said.
“I have no reason not to,” Eve responded. “Now then, onto the…less, positive things about us.”
“Here we go,” Shay said.
“The founder of the group, as you probably guessed, is Andrew Davenport.”
“Eve,” Shay said. “I really don’t like you right now. But after all the times these three have told me I was just reaching, if you tell them that the man is fucking evil, I will kiss you on the mouth.”
“Uh, married woman,” Eve said, flashing her giant diamond wedding ring. “And, I’m not sure if I’d call him evil per say. Definitely has a different few of morality than anyone else. See, ever since he was made, he’s been able to talk to God.”
“Motherfucker,” a grumpy Malcolm said, hitting the couch.
“He’s basically been doing whatever God told him his whole life, and the formation of the Church of LIghtning Bee is part 1 of God’s endgame.”
“Endgame?” Joey asked.
“I’ll come back to that,” Eve said. “The second member to join the group was the one of us you probably didn’t recognize. Her name is Dr. Ashley Gerbe. Without a doubt, she’s the smartest person in the world. Owns over 500 patents, and has more than 20 degrees.”
“She invent anything we’d know?” Joey asked.
“Well, heh,” Eve said awkwardly, scratching the back of her head.
“Eve,” Shay said sternly.
“OK, um,” Eve started. “So remember Brown Ax?”
Did I remember Brown Ax? Yeah, I’d say I remembered the android that nearly wasted me and Raina.
“God, damnit,” Malcolm said, appearing to seethe in rage. “Olivia said she’d take care of her, and they’re in cahoots.”
“And with Andrew’s bottomless checkbook, she could theoretically have built an army of those things by now,” Shay said.
“Well, that was the original idea, but then she decided cyborgs would be more efficient, so that’s what she’s working on now.”
The four of us were left shaking our heads, united in our frustration at how we’d been played.
“So they were the first two,” Malcolm said. “And Olivia and Raina only joined recently. So that means you’re number 3.”
“Yup!” she cheered. “Though I only joined a short bit after Dr. Gerbe. See, Andrew found us through the same way: Olivia. Ashley’s actually known her longer than me. The two met in high school, dated briefly, and ultimately just became friends. When Olivia started working at Saxon Dynamics, she immediately hired Ashley to head up the R&D team. Now, pretty much immediately after Olivia was brought down, the time came where every hero in the world disappeared. This…was not a coincidence.”
“Hold on,” I said. “Are you saying you know what happened to all the heroes? To the Guardianship? To King Power?”
“To my cousin?” Joey added.
Eve was smiling. She seemed to be eating up our reactions.
“Spill!” Shay shouted, stomping her food.
“Yes,” Eve said. “Andrew was kind enough to inform Ashley and I of what had transpired. And, I’m sorry if this is going to be anti-climactic for you guys, but, well, they’re all dead.”
Just hearing that, I lost all strength in my body, every part of me drooping over.
Joey held his head down, clenching his fists to control himself.
“Carter, I’m so sorry,” Shay said, hurt, but not devastated like me. She turned to Eve and asked, “How? How could every hero just die?!”
“God can do anything,” Eve said.
“Why? Why?!” I repeated. Why would God do that? Why would he take the best people in the world, and kill them?!”
“All part of the plan,” Eve answered.
Rocketing out of my seat, I turned my head to the sky.
“Damn you God! You bastard! I’ll make you pay for this! You hear me! PAY!!!!!”
“Nice dramatic moment there Carter, but God isn’t paying attention to you. Or anything really.”
“No use in harping on this,” Malcolm said, the rest of us succumbing to our emotions. “Eve, I get why Andrew would recruit the world’s smartest person into his group, but why you?”
“You starting to lose your memory, Malcolm?” she joked. “Cause as you may recall, I am one of the world’s leading experts on the occult.”
“Right,” he said. “And..wait, after all the heroes disappeared, Panda included, that’s when Andrew was able to sweep in and take over Panda corp. Right?”
“Uh huh,” she answered. “Don’t worry though. God didn’t kill all the heroes just so Andrew could become rich.”
“If that were the case, I think I’d shoot myself,” a sulking Joey bemoaned.
“Eve, you’re giving us a lot of details without the thing that ties them all together,” Shay said. “All this history and info is good to know, but you still haven’t told us one simple thing: What is your group trying to accomplish?”
“Jumping to the million dollar question already,” Eve said. “Okay. I guess it is better not to end all this on the absolute lowest note.”
“What is it Eve?” Malcolm asked. “What could justify all of this?”
“Simply put,” Eve smiled. “End of the world.”
All of this coming from Eve, it took a few moments for us to process this part.
“You guys,” I said. “…are trying to end the world?”
“Pretty much,” Eve answered. “See. according to Andrew, God really isn’t happy with the way humanity has progressed. And so, he’s decided to wipe out the entire race.”
While the rest of us were simply blown away by everything we were hearing, Shay kept thinking. “Then why aren’t we already dead?” she asked. “If God could kill all the heroes in a single moment, what’s stopping him from doing it to all of us?”
“Mostly, it’s a matter of pride,” Eve answered. “He isn’t interested in getting involved in the lives of mortals. When it came time to wipe out all the heroes, God gave a small amount of his power to Andrew in order to perform a spell to do it.”
Andrew killed the Guardianship, I thought to myself, thinking of all the ways I’d make him pay.
“I’m no Bible scholar,” Malcolm said. “But didn’t this guy supposedly once flood the world?”
“Correct!” Eve cheered. “But, this time around, God doesn’t want any living beings who aren’t humans getting hurt, so he’s doing things the hard way.”
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Joey said, still not looking up.
“Eve!” I shouted. “Why are you doing this?”
“Same reason I’ve done a lot of bad things,” she answered. “Love. Back to where I was in the story, after Andrew rose to power in Panda corp, he approached Ashley and I. And he made an offer we couldn’t refuse. In exchange for the use of our respective technical and mystical knowledge, not only would he have Olivia released from prison, but all of us would get to live as the rulers of the new humanity, in the race’s new home, The Garden of Eden.”
“The Garden of Eden?” Shay asked.
“Yup! While the majority of humanity will die, each member of the Votary will get the right to pick a few people to survive, and come to live in the Garden. Once there, we will all be immortal. And together, breed a new, better human race.” Eve laughed. “At least, that’s how Andrew puts it. In any case, lucky for all of you, you’ve got yourselves free passes to the Garden. You’re welcome.”
“So all that shit about Olivia’s past,” Malcolm said. “And she’s just a pawn that was used to get you and Dr. Gerbe on board?!”
Eve frowned, and it actually seemed to be completely genuine.
“Not…just us,” Eve said, an actual sense of remorse in her voice.
Oh no, I though piecing a bunch of things together.
Sweat was running down my face, and electricity was coursing all through my veins. All this talk, all this time. Andrew, Oliva, Eve, Smog, androids, God, the death of the heroes, the end of humanity!
But now it was time to talk about the most important thing of all.
“Eve,” I growled, pointing my arm at her, a charge ready.
“Cater, what are you doing?” Eve asked.
“Yeah, kid, turn off the static,” a concerned Malcolm said. “Eve’s been completely open with us, and she’s made it pretty damn clear that while she’s up to some fucked up stuff, we’re not in any danger at the moment.”
“Eve,” I repeated, ignoring Malcolm. “I’m going to ask you a very simple question, and if I don’t like what I hear, or if I think you’re lying, which, I KNOW you’ve done at least once in this conversation, I will blast you. I will blast you with everything I’ve got. Got it?”
“Good,” I said. “Now, I ask. What is Raina doing in this group?!”
The charge around my fist grew larger involuntarily, my hand now completely encased in a sphere of electricity.
Eve shook her head.
“I don’t feel bad…amount many things. But I’m so sorry for this, Carter.”
“Answer the question!”
Looking at their faces, I could see that Shay and Malcolm were taken aback seeing me like this. I didn’t care though. I needed to know what they’d done to Raina.
“Originally,” Eve started. “Olivia was only going to be freed from prison when the time came for us to enter the Garden. But, when Andrew needed a task completed, he made a deal her. She’d do a difficult mission for him, and in exchange, she’d get equal status with me and Ashley.”
“And what was the mission?” I asked.
“I’m so sorry,” she repeated.
“EVE! TELL ME OR I WILL BLAST YOU!”
“Carter, calm down!” Shay shouted.
“Not until I have a clear answer! Well?!”
“The mission…as initially given by Andrew…”She shook her head. “…was to turn his bratty daughter, into a strong independent woman, worthy of ruling humanity at his side.” Looking at her, I think she wanted to cry. But I don’t think she could bring herself to. “And, some of the ideas which were implemented in order to do this…included…making Raina into a murderer, using the hero Lightning Bee to give her a sense of redemption, and growing her work ethic by placing her in charge of a criminal organization.”
I grit my teeth, fear and anger overwhelming me.
Malcolm and Shay, and now even Joey, who’d stopped sulking, were all still disturbed by what they were seeing, but our current thoughts were on in the same.
“You planned all of this,” I growled. “Barring Smog and Demongeddon, everything we’ve been through has been orchestrated by you.” I pointed my other arm at Eve, a sphere of electricity encompassing it as well. “EVERYTHING RAINA’S BEEN THROUGH HAS BEEN BECAUSE OF YOU!”
“Carter, I,” she stared, but no way in Hell was I letting her finish. I blasted her with maximum power, sending her flying across the massive hall, and through the plaster wall of her precious mansion.
“Holy crap!” Malcolm shouted, everyone else leaping to their feet.
“YOU STILL ALIVE, EVE?! BECAUSE I WANT TO HEAR YOU SAY WHAT YOU’VE DONE!”
“Kid,” Malcolm said, getting in front of me. “You need to stop, right now.”
“Get out of my way, Malcolm” I said.
“I’m not about to let you do something you’ll regret for the rest of your life.”
“Try and stop me,” I responded.
I didn’t want to be fighting my friends. But now, it seemed like all my friends were my enemies.
We stared each other down, until Malcolm made his move. He hooked his arm around one of mine, attempting to get me into a lock, but before he could complete the maneuver, I turned up the voltage around my body as much as I could, shocking him, and sending him down to the floo,r unconscious.
“Malcolm!” Shay and Joey shouted, running over and crouching down next to him.
I was focused, I was in the right, I was doing what I needed to…
Those thoughts disappeared the second I saw the look on Shay’s face. Fear. It was filled with fear. Of me.
Her eyes were bulging, tears were forming, and her mouth was curved in horror.
“Damn it!” I shouted, punching through the tile floor which a charged up fist. “This isn’t fair!
I dropped to the ground.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t. I just.”
“Shhh,” Shay said, as she wrapped her arms around my still charged up body. “It’s okay, little brother. It’s okay.”
I couldn’t believe I’d done that to Shay. I hadn’t physically hurt her like Malcolm, but I’d terrified her. I couldn’t let that happen again. I needed to control myself.
“Carter,” Eve said loudly,walking through the whole I’d made in the wall. There was a huge hole in her dress, and I could see that my blast had left a nasty burn mark.
I hugged Shay back, hoping she could act as something to keep me…settled, and I spoke.
“If it wasn’t for you, Raina would still just be a bitchy, high school girl. She would have been happy. You know what she’s been through!”
“There’s no making up for what we’ve done to her,” Eve said, getting closer. “And, Raina hates both me and Olivia. This is killing Olivia, but, despite my personal bias, the feeling is appropriate. But there’s something else you need to know.”
“What?” I asked, not looking at her. “That Raina hates me too?”
“No. The complete opposite. You instilled your virtues too well. When we approached her, she didn’t initially want to join. Even when promised godhood.”
“Then…what changed?” Joey asked, speaking for the first time in awhile.
Eve finally made it back to the sitting area.
“Andrew made a deal with her she couldn’t refuse. The only way you four…her other close friends…Sammy. The only way any of you get to live is if Raina acts as the Votary’s 2nd in command, and as Andrew’s…”
She stopped, covering her mouth with her hand.
“Andrew’s what?” I asked.
“I’m so sorry!” Eve screamed, gritting her teeth.
“What are you…” I started, before realizing the only thing that could leave someone as amoral as Eve speechless. “No.” I growled. “No, no, no, no no!” I repeated over and over again as I stood up.
“Oh my God,” Shay said, coming to the same realization I had.
I approached Eve, and she backed away in fear.
“It’s okay, Eve. I’m not going to hurt you again,” I said, meaning it. “She’s doing this for us. She’s going through this for us. She’s compromising her morals, FOR US! You’re clearly very confident that the Votary can’t be stopped, otherwise you wouldn’t have been nearly as open as you were. Now I get you have God on your side, but like you said, he doesn’t really pay attention to mortals. Andrew dosen’t have any powers. What’s to stop anyone who wants to save the world from killing him?”
“You can’t kill Andrew,” Eve started. “…because Andrew can not be killed. He…isn’t exactly human. I mean he is, but he’s different.”
“What are you trying to say, Eve? “ Shay asked. “He’s a demon, an angel, a vampire, a…”
Eve cut her off.
A confused look appeared on my face.
“Adam, as in…the Adam.”
“Wait,” Joey said. “You said before that Andrew had been made…not born. And that he’d always been able to talk to God. You’re saying that Raina’s dad…is the first human being?”
I stepped back, moving closer to Shay and Joey.
“He’s been alive for billions of years,” Eve said. “And he hates this world. He’ll do anything to get back to the Garden. His power is far beyond what humans are capable of. He’s…”
“The first man,” I finished, a clear thought in my head. “And if I remember my Bible, the first woman…” I stared at her hard. “…was named Eve.”
We all stared at Eve, everyone considering the idea that I’d proposed.
“Carter, that doesn’t make any sense,” Malcolm said. “It’s not like Adam and Eve keep getting reincarnated. She said that Andrew has been alive for billions of years. Not to mention a whole bunch of other things.”
“Cool as it’d be to be the Eve, it’s honestly just a coincidence. I’m just a girl with a thing for magic and motors.”
“Okay,” I said, clenching my teeth. “So Andrew, or Adma I guess, is the big bad. He killed the Guardianship, he’s torturing Raina, and by extension hurting and killing people, and he’s using you, Olivia, and Dr. Gerbe as pawns in his plan to destroy humanity. I think it’s pretty clear what we need to do.”
“Carter,” Eve said. “I thought I already made it clear. You can’t fight Andrew directly. You’d have to have a death wish to do so! But…” she started. “Much as we’re all confident that we’re going to win, there is one thing you guys could try.”
“Anything,” Shay said. “If you’ve got an idea, tell us.”
“Right,” Eve responded. “Well, the current phase of the plan is to last a few months. Andrew really wants people worshipping Carter. But, that does mean there are a few months before phase 2, and the beginning of the omnicide.” She took a deep breath. “Ignore the supernatural stuff. If you guys can find evidence of any of Andrew’s serious crimes, and get them to the press, it dosen’t matter how good his PR team is. He’ll lose his credibility, and if, at the same time, Olivia revealed that she was the villain Volkoff, and Raina revealed that she was Queen, the church would lose all of its credibility. And with that done, phase 2 might not work.”
Joey mockingly chuckled.
“You’re really playing both sides here. You know that, right?”
“ Of course,” Eve said, nodding. “All I want is for all of us to be happy, and despite any struggles along the way, I get that in both outcomes.”
“Okay,” Shay said exhaling, picking up Malcolm and putting him over her shoulders. “Damn he’s heavy,” she whispered. “I think we’re done here. Thank you for the idea, Eve.”
“I really do wish you guys the best of luck,” Eve said in truth.
“We know,” Shay responded, beginning to walk away. Before she was out of distance, Eve kissed Malcolm on the head.
“Carter,” Eve said, touching my shoulder before I could follow Shay. “You have every reason to hate me right now. But are we still friends? I mean, is there any chance that, should you guys win, things could go back to how they were?”
I don’t know, I thought. Nothing would make me happier than everything going back to the way it was that night Malcolm, Raina, and I were staring up at the stars. Eve and Olivia were our friends, happily married, Raina was finally going to be happy, getting away from all of this, Smog was around but we were still hopeful that together we’d find a way to stop him…
And Andrew Davenport took all that way. Changed my perception of my friends. Took away his daughter’s dreams. Became the true villain of the story.
I was angry. These things weren’t Eve’s fault. Like the rest of us, she’d just been manipulated by Andrew. He was the one that needed to go down.
I couldn’t just say yes to Eve’s question.
I smiled softly at Eve.
“I’m sorry about the wall,” I said, beginning to make my way out.
As Joey followed me, one last thing popped into my head. Something I had to do here.
“Oh, and Eve,” I continued. “When you see Raina at whatever rich people party or doomsday function you guys go to, I want you to give her a message from me. She won’t pick up my calls. I could text her, but I want her to hear it. And this is something she needs to know.”
“Of course, anything. What is it?”
I stood tall, and grit my teeth, trying to hold back my emotions.
“Tell her I’m coming for her. Tell her that I’m going to save her. Tell her that I’ll make everything okay…no matter what it takes.”