“Just got the text from Carter,” Shay said. “He’s playing the fool, and keeping Davenport and the others busy.”
Yeah. “Playing” the fool. Sure, I thought.
“That’s our cue,” I said.
I held the front door open for Shay, and we exited the guest house, dressed in formal wear.
Because there was never a reason to get one, I didn’t have a tuxedo. Thankfully, Joey and I were similar enough in size that I was able to borrow one of his. Even so, it was tight, uncomfortable, and I couldn’t imagine fighting in the thing.
OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!
We needed to blend in with all the rich people at the party, and while even in a tux, I was gonna look out of place, Shay looked like a million, no, a billion bucks.
She was wearing a full-length black dress, with an enormous slit. Her hair was done up in a way that really got me going, and her make-up managed to somehow improve on perfection.
Of course, the sexiest part about what she was wearing was her thigh holster. It was by far the sexiest accessory a woman could wear. And attractive as it was, it was also a necessity. We were going to need firepower in the case of a jam, and after what had happened against Esteban and his men, I was done taking my sisters in combat. Meaning Shay was the only one of us that was armed.
I hooked my arm around one of Shay’s, and we began making our way across the Davenport’s massive lawn.
“So why were you so grumpy earlier?” Shay asked, keeping her face forward.
“Grumpy?” I asked, playing dumb. “What do you mean?”
Shay shook her head, still not looking at me, not wanting to trip on anything in the darkness.
“When are you boys gonna start remembering?” she asked rhetorically. “DE. TEC. TIVE.”
I smiled wryly.
“Technically, you never did actually make detective,” I mocked.
“We both know that was BS,” she growled, clearly still irritated by that. “But we’re not talking about me, here. Tell me what was bothering you.”
“Do I have to?” I asked, staring at the ground.
She turned her head around briefly, but only to stick her head into my partially shaved afro, and kiss me on the head.
“Only if you want to sleep in the same bed for the first time, tonight,” she threatened.
God damn it! I thought to myself. I may not want to sleep with her yet, but I sure as Hell want to hold her!
“Fine,” I grunted. “I’m not feeling it anymore, but earlier, I was feeling, well, pointless.”
“Pointless,” she repeated, stepping over a branch. “Where would you even get that idea?”
“It’s stupid, I know, but you’re the leader and a better fighter than me, and when Carter shocked me before…took me down so easily…”
“You felt unneeded,” Shay finished for me. “Aw Babe, you’re right.”
“What?!” I asked, shocked that she’d say that.
“No, no, not about that! About that idea being stupid. While what you said about me is true, you’re second best in both of those areas. Plus, I know Carter, and, yeah, even Raina, really look up to you.”
“They do?” I questioned.
“They do,” she answered. “And of course, over the last few weeks, you’ve proven to be the best partner I’ve ever had. Even if you and my baby bro could have both been the distraction, there’s not a doubt in my mind that I still would have chosen you to come with me.”
“Oh man,” I whispered, pulling Shay in for a kiss.
And as all our kisses had been up until now, it was warm, moist, and perfect.
She pulled away after only a few seconds, but those few seconds were still more incredible than the majority of my life I could remember.
“We’ll have plenty of time for that after we save the world,” she smiled.
We resumed walking, and after just a minute or two of silence, Shay broke it.
“He is getting stronger though.”
“Carter,” she said, smiling proudly. “We never did figure out where his powers came from, and why they’re so different. And over the last few months, he’s only gotten more and more powerful. That doesn’t happen with other people. When he started out, he would have gotten killed if he tried taking on someone like China. Good as your training is Babe, that wouldn’t have made the difference. With one shock from him knocking you clean out, compared to his blasts in the past barely having an effect…he took down a Demigod villain in two hits while we were on patrol the other night. He wasn’t even that scared, if at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s powerful enough to take out a demon now.” She nodded. “The next time his life, or one of our lives is in danger, I can only imagine what he’ll be capable of.”
“Tough enough to beat Smog?” I asked, curious just how powerful she thought the kid was becoming. “You know, without Davenport’s help?”
Shay pursed her lips, the mansion just a short while from where we were now.
“I’ve never fought Smog like you guys, but…maybe. Doesn’t matter one way or another though. Carter isn’t going near Smog.”
“Why not?” I asked. “You were just talking about how powerful he’s getting.”
“This isn’t about him. Or you. Or Raina,” Shay started. “This is about me.”
“Babe, you know you’re my world,” I really hope it isn’t too early to say that, “But you just met Smog. You haven’t been part of his game.”
“True, but don’t you remember what he said to me at the pier?”
“Shay Myers, I say with the utmost sincerity that I hope that once I’ve killed Malcolm and your brother, you’ll do everything in your power to stop me.”
“I do,” I answered.
“Then it should be obvious. All the murders he’s committed, all that he’s put you guys through, it’s all been to get to me. I don’t know why yet, but when we comes to finish things in a few days, I’m gonna find out.”
I didn’t fully agree with her train of thought, but I didn’t feel like arguing with her right now. Or ever.
“Maybe,” I said. “But just cause you’re the big hero of all this doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be coming with you. And don’t think I’ll listen to an order not to come.”
Before Shay responded, we stopped walking, having arrived at the mansion.
“I wouldn’t expect anything else. Now then, back to the matter at hand, we have a house to break into.”
Sure, we probably could have just gotten invitations from Eve, but then Davenport would have most definitely been aware of our presence. Plus, this way was so much more easy and so much more obvious, he’d never see it coming.
Ever so briefly, as we passed by some guests who were arriving late, I couldn’t help but think…that’s where I should be.
No idea why that thought popped up. Whoever I was in my previous life, I find it hard to swallow that I could have been some rich prick.
So, we walked around the house’s perimeter until we reached our destination: the servant’s entrance.
“Just one guard,” I said. “He’s armed.”
“And no one else is around,” Shay spoke. “Not other guards, not late guest arrivals, not staff members who’d call for help if they saw a security guard being assaulted.”
“Meaning that while he’s probably a Demigod…” I continued.
“It’s just us and him,” Shay said, finishing out thoughts.
I put my arm against my head, and cracked my neck.
“Poor bastard doesn’t stand a chance,” I smiled.
“Actually,” she said. “Let’s keep that as a last resort.”
“What else did you have in mind? I mean, it’s punching a guy. Seems pretty effective to me.”
“Did I ever mention to you that Carter and I enjoy our fair share of roleplaying.” She gently elbowed me in the stomach, and started walking toward the guard and the entrance. “Follow my lead.”
Both of us standing before the the seven foot tall, bald black man standing by the door, Shay spoke.
“Good evening,” she said, in the most hilarious, snooty accent I’d ever heard. “The oaf at the front door sent my husband and I away, taking our invitations. The simple peasant must have primitive racist views.”
Enjoyable as it was to basically see Shay act like how she sees Raina, I was hung up on the word ‘husband.’ Yeah, she was acting, but it still got my heart pumping for her to call me that at all.
“Yes, yes,” I said in what I think was a really inaccurate British accent. “Now step aside and let us in, and or we’ll have you fired alongside your colleague.”
Almost simultaneously, Shay and I raised our noses into the air.
“You two are guests,” he stated. “Odd, considering I’ve scene you both before, and when I have, one of you was cleaning the house, and the other one was creeping around Miss Raina.”
“I was not creeping you…” I said, forgetting to use my fake accent.
The guard glared at us, about to reach into his pocket. Whether it was a gun or a phone, we couldn’t let him get either.
“Well, it was fun to try at all,” Shay said, driving her elbow into the security guard’s neck.
He grunted, coughing a few times and stumbled back, dropping the walkie-talkie he was pulling out of his pocket.
Demigods may be super durable, but an elbow to the neck is an elbow to the neck.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked.
“Kicking your ass,” I said. “ Thought that was obvious.”
The guard snorted.
“I am a Demigod with special forces training. You are a maid and a cripple. I understand how envious you must be of those who get to attend functions such as tonight’s. So, go back to your guest house now, and I won’t inform Mr. Davenport, or the police about you assaulting me.”
He wasn’t immediately trying to kill us? That was different. Either Davenport’s security weren’t as evil as the main man himself…or more likely, this was thanks to Raina. She’d joined Davenport to protect all of us, and that meant Davenport’s goons weren’t allowed to kill us.
Thanks Ray, I thought. You’re making this a lot easier.
“Yeah, sorry,” Shay said. “That’s not happening.”
Blitzing him at a speed almost too fast for me to see, Shay repeatedly roundhouse kicked the guard, the suited man blocking the hits with his arm.
“You can’t hurt me,” he said as a matter of fact.
He jumped out of the way of Shay’s next kick, and grabbed her, from the looks of it trying to get her in a choke hold. Naturally, that didn’t work, as after her got hold of her,Shay jumped up and fell back, taking both of them to the ground with the guard on the bottom.
All part of her plan, I thought. As if some random dude could grab Shay with her insane reflexes unless she wanted to be grabbed.
“Malcolm!” Shay shouted without giving an order. But, as Shay did a back roll off of and away from the guard, I knew what to do.
Before the guard could get up, I jumped up and, rather than just slamming my body weight on him, I drove my elbow into his neck.
He gagged and coughed, and generally sounded like he was dying. If he wasn’t working for a crazy SOB out to wipe out humanity, I might have cared.
I did a kick up, and now Shay and I were standing on either side of the downed guard.
“That’s…it,” he said slowly, continuing to gag.
The guard’s hands started to glow green, providing some additional light to the few stars which were viewable. But, before he could reveal what his power was and use it against us, Shay struck his head with her anti-Demigod metal baton, knocking him out.
“Shay, where were you keeping that?” I asked, having not seen her draw the weapon.
“Use your imagination,” she smirked, taking the keys from the guard’s pocket, and opening the entrance.
Oh. Oooooooooh, I thought, realizing what she meant. So hot.
We entered the mansion, and unlike the more glamorous parts of it we’d been in before, the servant’s entrance led to a small, cramped, dilapidated room with broken floorboards, and mold growing on the walls.
“What the Hell?” Shay asked. She quickly ran across the room to the door which led to the main hallway, opened the door, and looked at the other side of it. “Oh, mother fucker!”
“What is it?” I asked, walking over to her.
“This isn’t just a disgusting entrance,” she started. “This is the staff’s break room.”
“Inhumane,” I said, shaking my head. “Wanna take some pictures of this place? If we can’t find anything related to his death cult, we can still expose Davenport as a horrible, horrible employer.
“Won’t work,” Shay said with a ton of frustration. “I mean, it might, but it’s not worth the risk. Sure, it might ruin Davenport’s rep a little, but I don’t think it’d be enough. Plus, if the police were brought in to check this out, they’d likely look into the staff’s papers, and find out that most of them are illegal immigrants. They’ll be deported, and possibly die.” She shook her head. “No losses are acceptable, and I’m certainly not losing lives on an expose that Davenport could probably manipulate his way around.”
“Right, right,” I muttered.
This is why she’s in charge, I thought. She’s got beauty AND brains.
“Now then,” Shay started. “We’ve got a lot of ground together, and not all the time in the world.”
“You think we should split up?” I asked, hoping the answer would be…
“No,” she answered, thankfully. “We split up, odds are, at least one of us is gonna end up dead.”
“If you continue down the path you’re on, you’ll both end up dead,” a familiar voice said, rounding the corner into the hall we were in.
“Hello…Olivia,” Shay said, taken aback by her presence.
It had been awhile since I’d seen Olivia, and while she was no Shay, she was still looking pretty great. She’d grown her red hair back so that it was down to her upper spine, she was wearing more make-up than I’d ever seen her in before, and the tuxedo she was wearing was really sharp.
“Let me guess,” I said. “When we beat up the guard outside, your power perceived us as a threat,”
“Correct,” she said, walking toward us.
Hopefully, she wasn’t getting closer so she could fight us. Olivia wasn’t just some random Demigod like the one we’d taken down outside. She was on the same level of raw fighting ability as I was when I’d had both of my arms, she was physically stronger than most Demigods who didn’t specifically have super strength, and thanks to her learning how to use her power during combat, she was just about as untouchable as Shay.
“Eve know you’re here?” Shay asked.
“Yes,” she answered, reaching us. “She tried to stop me, but I’m her wife, not her dog. I love her, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own modus operandi.”
“And what?” I asked. “You’re here to stop us.”
“I am here to save you,” she spat, her Russian accent thicker than usual. “You have no idea what you’re dealing with!”
“Actually, we do,” I said. “Eve told us everything.”
“But you haven’t seen everything,” she replied. She curled her lower lip. “Eve thinks you have a chance. But she knows it’s a small one. That’s why she hasn’t turned her back on the Votary. Her and I? We’ve seen what Adam is capable of. And it doesn’t matter what smear campaign you run…he can not be stopped. He will always get what he wants.”
There was frustration in her voice, but also…sadness.
“And so you’re just willing to sit back and help him wipe out humanity?” Shay asked.
Olivia snorted, a look of disdain on her face.
“You know who I am, Shay. You should know by now that casualties are meaningless to me. All that I care about is that the people I love are safe!”
“You’re trying to say you’re no different from Raina?” I asked. “You’re the reason she’s in this position in the first place!”
“I did what I had to do!” she shouted back. “I have already lost one family, and I refuse to lose another!” A few tears started coming down her face, smearing her make-up. I didn’t…I didn’t know what I was doing with Raina. When I took the job, I thought she was just going to be a spoiled brat who needed to be toughened up. I had no idea…no idea that I’d come to love her. And once I’d started, it was too late to stop. If I had, Adam may have killed not just me, but Eve too. And I couldn’t take that chance.”
Pissed as we all were at her, I couldn’t help but sympathize. I know what it’s lake to just want to protect a family.
Shay walked right up to Olivia, as the latter wiped her tears away.
“Simple question,” Shay said. “Regardless of whether or not you think it’s possible, do you want Adam to be stopped? Assuming everyone you love lives, is that what you want?After everything he made you do, and what he is doing to Raina. Is that what you want?”
Olivia took a few deep breaths…before nodding.
“Yes. I want him dead. But it doesn’t matter what I want. You all couldn’t stop me if you wanted to. Without the Votary’s assistance, victory over Smog won’t be attained either. And guess what? Compared to Adam, Smog is a cockroach. So I’m sorry. But no matter how much ANY of us wish it were possible, Adam won’t be stopped.”
“Right,” Shay said, nodding. “So the answer is yes. Fine. Then keep your pessimism to yourself, and tell us where we can find something incriminating about “Andrew.”
Her cold stare moved from Shay to me, and then back to Shay.
“Very well. I’ll show you everything. But I’m taking your phones.”
“Sorry,” I said with attitude. “Those are kind of necessary.”
“I will not jeopardize my safety so that you two can take some pictures!” she screamed. “No one would believe what you’ll find is real, and even if some hack-jawed reporter wanted to come check, it’d all be cleared away by the time they got here. So…PHONES!”
“Well?” I asked Shay.
Shay licked her lips, her brain in motion.
“Fine,” she said, pulling her phone out of the same place she was keeping her baton. Her head turned to me she said, “Give it to her.” She then turned back to Olivia. “This will really show us what he’s up to?”
Olivia nodded once more, and we both handed her our phones.
“Follow me,” she said flatly, beginning to make her way down the hall. We followed, and soon, we reached an elevator.
Shay pressed the button, and the doors slid open. All of us walked in, but rather than just hitting one button, Olivia pressed a number of them. Like a code.
The elevator started moving, neon blue lights started flashing, and just as soon they appeared, they went away, and the elevator stopped.
The doors opened, and before we stepped out, I clutched Shay’s hand.
What we saw as we exited could be described as nothing short of Hellish.
Likely underground, we were in an enormous laboratory, cold and sanitary. No one else was here…save for the dozens of people, nude and trapped in pods with transparent glass. Even worse, the pods were just straight up torture chambers. Looking around,some of the ways the people within the chambers were getting tormented were by being subjected to extreme temperatures, and violent whipping.
“What the Hell is this?” Shay asked. She turned to Olivia. “What the Hell is this?!”
Olivia swallowed. She clearly wasn’t fond of whatever was going on here.
“Eve mentioned to you that Dr. Gerbe, a dear friend of mine, and fellow member of the Votary, was responsible for the building of Brown Ax,” she started. “Since then, she’s made a breakthrough, enabling her to potentially make cyborgs more powerful than any android. Malcolm, you were able to beat Brown Ax because it was built with specific strengths and immunities. These cyborgs though? If successful, they’ll have the strength to defeat any opponent, and no weaknesses.”
I let go of Shay’s hand.
“That’s what you’re doing here,” I said, putting two and two again. “You’re torturing these people in all these different ways so that…so that somehow, some fancy tech can make them immune to what they’re going through!”
“Yes,” Olivia said, walking away from us. “There are several surgeries which will be performed on these people. One will make them immune to most forms of damage, another will grant them each strength far greater than any Demigod’s, and other procedures will grant them special weapons and abilities.”
“Jesus fuck!” Shay cried, clenching her forehead. Taking breaths, Shay said, “We need to get these people out of here. I know Davenport will likely just kidnap or pay more people to go through this, but we have the chance to save these people.”
“She’s right,” I said. “Olivia, I know your conscious is much smaller than most people’s, but you still have one. Help us here!”
Not looking at us, Olivia shook her head.
“I can’t. Even if I wanted to, these men and woman would all be in no condition to move on their own. There’d be no way to get them all out.”
“Fine,” Shay said, approaching Olivia and putting a hand on her shoulder. “Then we take who we can carry on our backs.”
Olivia shook. She then swung around, attempting to back hand Shay, but she jumped back in time to avoid getting hit.
“Why don’t you idiots understand?!” Olivia screamed as I rushed to Shay’s side. “It doesn’t matter who you save, today! Once Adam is victorious, there will be less than 100 human beings left alive! If you “save” these people, they’re just going to die in a few months! And if you two don’t stop resisting the inevitable, you’re not going to be among those that survive! And everything…everything Raina is being forced to do will be for nothing!”
“If you really cared about Raina, you’d be doing everything in your power to stop him, and not acting like a coward!”
None of us said anything after that, but we did hear the clicking of heels. And none of us were walking.
“You know Shay, I really prefer that peasants keep my name out of their mouths,” Raina said.
We all turned around, and saw her walking out of an elevator.
Raina’s platinum blonde hair was being kept up, and gelled back. She was wearing a white pantsuit with thin black stripes, and black heels. She wasn’t wearing a bra, and she was showing off her breasts.
I felt kinda dirty just looking at her.
Raina waved her arm, and just as quickly as she did that, Olivia disappeared.
“What the?” I exclaimed. “What did you do?”
“Oh, don’t worry. Just teleported her into an empty pod. I really don’t care for having to look at her.”
Shay crossed her arms.
“And since when can you teleport other people?” she asked.
“So how are you doing, Malcolm?” she asked cheerfully, ignoring the question. “It seems like its been forever since we hung out.”
“Drop the act, kid,” I said. “We know everything.”
“I highly doubt that. Only Daddy knows about everything that’s happening. I’ll take it that you know what the rest of us know though.”
I may not have had the same bond with Raina that Carter did, but she was still one of my best friends. And I refused to let her damn herself like this.
“You don’t have to be a part of this,” I said.
“Why wouldn’t I want to be though?” she asked, smiling widely. “I’m gonna get to be a god! I’m gonna get to live in paradise, and bring all of the people I love with me.”
I wasn’t a Myers. My tongue wasn’t solid gold. But Shay sure as Hell wasn’t going to appeal to Raina’s better side, mostly because she didn’t see it, so the task fell to me.
“What about everyone else?” I asked. “What about the billions of people who your group is going to slaughter?”
Maintaining her smile even after I asked that, she answered.
“Most people don’t deserve life,” she said. “I was crazy when I was murdering people as Queen, but now everything is so clear. 99.9% of people are evil. And they need to die out if humanity is to better itself. God knows it. I know it.”
I clenched my teeth and growled.
“No! You don’t believe that! I refuse to accept that you do! You’re only doing this for us, and guess what, we’d rather have you fighting alongside us against this!”
“Sorry to tell you this Malcolm, but a girl can have multiple motivations. I’m doing this because I care about you guys and because it’s necessary. Trust me, for the most part, even if you think someone is good, odds are, they’re not.”
Damn it, Olivia, I thought to myself. It didn’t take a genius to realize that she was who Raina was referring to.
“How did you know we were here?” Shay asked, speaking up and changing the topic.
“It wasn’t hard to deduce,” Raina answered, starting to pace. “I knew about your visit with Eve earlier. So once I noticed Olivia wasn’t with Eve, or, anywhere in the ballroom for that matter, it wasn’t difficult to figure out that at least part of the team was breaking in, and that Olivia had gone to bring them, you, here. Frankly, you guys should just be glad Carter was making an oaf of himself around Daddy, or he might have come down here himself.”
“I see,” Shay said. “So you talked to Eve. She give you Carter’s message?”
For a couple seconds, Raina’s smile went away, but she quickly put it back on.
“She did. And it was just as sweet as I’d expect from Carter. But I don’t need saving. All of you do.” She laughed. “By the way, thank you for putting Carter on decoy duty. I would not want him knowing about all this.”
“And how do you plan on stopping us from telling him what you’ve got going on down here?” I asked. “Kill us?”
“What?! No! Of course not!” she said, apparently shocked that I’d proposed the idea. “Malcolm, I love you. Along with Carter and Ally, protecting you is one of my main goals. I don’t even want to hurt you, let alone kill you.”
“Yeah,” Shay said. “And what about me?”
In response to that, Raina widened her smile.
“We’ve never liked each other, Shay,” she said. “I’m a bitch, and you have a stick up your ass.” Her smirk went away. “But you’re Carter’s sister, and after me, you’re the person he cares about most.” Wow, I thought. Love isn’t easy to compare, but she really thought Carter loved her more than Shay. “So you’re safe too.”
I thought for sure Shay was gonna react to Ray’s claim about love, but she kept her focus on the subject at hand.
“Then answer the question. How do you plan on stopping us from telling Carter about this?”
“Easy,” she replied. “You two are going to join the Votary.”
“We both know that’s not happening, kid.”
“Oh come on!” she shouted, waving her arms. “You guys are already going to survive and come to the Garden! You’ve both killed! And it’s not like there’s a way for you to stop us. So join up!”
Shay and I turned out heads to each other and nodded.
“No,” we said simultaneously.
“Damn it!” Raina cried. “Damn it!” She groaned like the frustrated child she was. “Fine. Now I have to go with plan B.”
Raina waved her arm again, and just like that, I went from standing at Shay’s side to being inside an empty pod. At least, unlike Olivia, the pod I was in was right by Raina and Shay, so I could still see and hear everything.
“Malcolm!” Shay exclaimed.
“Don’t worry,” Raina said. “He’s right over there.” Shay turned around, saw me, and then turned back to Raina. I slammed my arm against the glass a few times, but it was too durable for me to break through. “And you’ll be just fine, Malcolm!” she shuoted to make sure I could hear. “I can’t let Carter find out about this, so I’m just gonna keep you here until victory has been achieved. Don’t worry, it’ll only be a few months, and in the meantime, I’ll make sure you get fed and get exercise.”
“You’re not keeping him prisoner,” Shay said as a matter of fact.
“Of course not. I’m keeping him safe.” She spoke up. “Oh yeah, and Malcolm, if you want, we can give you the same enhancements as everyone else down here, but without wiping your mind!”
“Not happening, kid,” I said plainly.
“He’ll come around,” she said to Shay.
Shay turned her head to me again, and she looked pissed.
“Let him go, Raina,” Shay said. “Let him go, or put me in a pod, cause if you don’t, I’m gonna have to hurt you.”
“Wow, you really care.” She laughed for a good few seconds. “Holy shit! You two finally did it! Congrats Malcolm!”
I just sneered at her.
“What’s it gonna be, Raina?” Shay asked.
Wearing half a smile, Raina shook her head and unbuttoned her suit jacket.
She then took a fighting stance.
“You’re not going in a pod, Shay,” she said, licking her lips. “Thinking about it, I don’t think I want to have to put up with you for the rest of eternity. And Carter only needs one woman in his life.” She donned her evil grin. “And if I kill you now, I have Olivia as the ultimate scapegoat.”
“KID!” I screamed. “Stop this now!!!”
“Don’t worry, Malcolm,” she said. “We won’t touch the rest of your mind, but to get rid of your suffering, we can erase your memories of this bitch. I’m sure you’ll find someone much more worthy and less piggish in…”
Before Raina could finish, Shay slugged her with a right hook, sending Raina to the floor.
Standing up, Raina wiped away the blood which had been drawn from the side of her mouth.
“Alright, bitch. Let’s go.”