There were a lot of things I hated about Andrew Davenport, AKA Adam.
I hated his smugness and disregard for those beneath him. I hated that he was planning on wiping out humanity just so he could live in a garden. I really hated that, as it turned out, he killed my idols, The Guardianship. More than anything, I hated what he’d done to my best friend in the world.
My rage wasn’t blind though. I was still thinking straight enough that a few important questions had come to mind.
Just what was Adam capable of that he was so unbeatable? How was we planning on wiping out humanity? If he really had killed King Power and the others, what had happened to the rest of the superhero community? How many people knew his real identity?
Right now though, none of that mattered. Or at least, it wasn’t as important.
Alone in an underground facility straight out of my nightmares, Raina and I had seated ourselves with our backs against a wall. She hadn’t been sure what to say after I’d arrived, so I was giving her all the time she needed.
I knew this couldn’t be easy for her. I just had to hope that this time, she wasn’t too far gone. How was she going to start things off? Reiterate things I’d learned? Explain her motivations? Ideally, she’d just apologise, say she realized what’s been going on was wrong, and then we’d go back to my place, watch some anime that I’d enjoy and Raina would make fun of, and we’d all formulate plans that would stop Smog, stop Adam, and make everything great.
I knew that wasn’t how this was gonna play out though.
Even though I was the one in the waiter outfit and she was wearing a suit, I was looking better than her at the moment. Though that was just because she’d just taken a beating from one of the world’s top hand-to-hand fighter, AKA, my big sis.
From how bloodied up Shay’s face was, especially around her mouth, Raina had actually managed to put up a fight…and then she’d tried to have Olivia kill Shay.
I loved Raina. More than almost anyone or anything else. I’d forgiven her for every last horrible thing she’d ever done, and right now, I was prepared to forgive her once again. But if I’d showed up a few moments later, and Olivia had killed Shay on Raina’s command…I’m not even sure I could forgive that.
“So…” Raina said following a few minutes of silence. “…when did you get that strong?”
That’s how she’s starting? I thought. Guess she just needed to break the ice.
“I mean, you just one-shotted Oliva,” she said.
I smiled. Naive as I was about most things, I knew that seeing my smile usually cheered her up at least a little.
“Not sure,” I said, bending and unbending my fingers. “I think its kinda been gradual. Lately, normal criminals and Medians have been no challenge for me at all, and even the few Demigods I’ve fought have gone down with little effort. Still, to be honest, even though I knew about what I could do, and even though I wasn’t really thinking about it, I was still surprised how easy I shot down Olivia. I mean, the last time we fought, nothing I threw at her worked.”
“Are you worried?” Raina asked. “We never figured out where your powers come from. And now that they’re changing, it might mean something bad.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Ray, I have got so much other shit going on in my life right now. We all do. The last thing we need to worry about is if my powers are mutating me or slowly killing me or something.”
“Well, we don’t need to get paranoid,” she stated. “The women you saw with Daddy earlier, Dr. Gerbe, is possibly the smartest person in the world. With this facility, she’d find out what was going on with you in no time.”
With that, my smile went away.
“Really? Trying to woo me over? Ray, that might have worked better if I wasn’t literally staring at dozens of people in torture chambers right now.”
She hung her head low.
“Yeah, I guess that was stupid,” she agreed. “But…if you know as much as the others did, then you know I’m only siding with my father for all of you.”
“I know Ray, and don’t think I don’t appreciate the thought. But helping to wipe out humanity, torturing all these people…what you were going to do to Shay.”
A sour look made its presence known on Raina’s face before she turned her face away from me.
“I’m…I’m sorry about Shay. I just…I didn’t want you to find out about this.”
“Please don’t lie to me. Especially not right now. Just tell me the truth. Did you want to kill her? Cause from what I gathered when I saw what was going on, it seemed that if you just wanted to keep them from telling me anything, you would have just put Shay in a pod like Malcolm.”
She shut her eyes and shook her head.
“Raina, please just tell me. I swear I won’t be mad.”
“Yes, you will,” she muttered. “You’re already mad at me. Even though all I’m trying to do is save you.”
I put one hand on either side of her head, softly, to stop her from shaking.
“Do you really that I’d want this?” I asked. “You know me. You had to know that the second I found out about this, I’d be doing everything in my power to stop your father,” I said, letting go of her.
I’d considered saying, “Adam” instead of “your father”. If she knew the truth about him already, then fine. If she didn’t, it might break whatever trance he had on her.
Not hypnosis or anything, but…back upstairs, Ally had given me the details of Raina’s relationship with her father.
And it was truly, truly sickening.
While I was waiting for Raina to start the conversation though, I’d decided against bringing up Andrew’s true identity.
I couldn’t tell her. Not yet. She’s always found the light before. She needed to do it again. Plus, it would just make things more confusing for her.
“Now please tell me: Did you want to kill Shay?”
Even though I saw it coming, it still pained me to see her nod.
I bit my lip, and asked a simple, somber “Why?”
“You’re just gonna get more mad,” she said. “You won’t understand.”
“Do I sound mad?” I asked gently. “And when have I ever not been able to understand you?”
“Right,” she said. “You’re right.” She took a deep breath. “I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I’m jealous.”
“Jealous?!” I reacted in shock that Raina Davenport would be jealous of anyone.
“Yeah,” she said, almost silently. “Of how close you two are.”
“Raina, you’ve got it all wrong. You and Shay, both of you, are the people I love most of all.”
“BUT YOU LOVE HER MORE!” she shouted, pushing me back. “You can say that you love us equally, and I tell myself that you love me more, but deep down, you care more about her more than me. And we both know it.”
“I told you the truth! Now you tell me!”
Was this really all about me? I thought she was doing this for all of us, but if that were true…
“I have literally known Shay my entire life, Ray. And she’s always looked out for me. I don’t think I could ever form a bond stronger than the one I have with her.”
“I knew it,” she said, sounding heartbroken, covering her face.
“You know I still love you though,” I said, putting an arm around her. “Why does it matter if it’s a fraction less than Shay?”
“Because I love you more than anyone!” she answered. “I love Ally, I love Malcolm, I…love my dad. But you, Carter, you’re everything to me. Every decision I make, consciously or not, I take how you’ll feel into account! I just wish you were the same way with me.”
When I first found out about what Davenport’s relationship with Raina was like from Eve, I felt a truly burning desire. A desire to break my code, and kill him.
But, unintentional, as it may have been…I’d been just as bad.
Looking into Raina’s sad, shaking eyes, a few tears started coming down from mine.
“I’m sorry,” I whimpered, wrapping my arms around her.
“Wha…what are you sorry for?” she asked. “I’m the screw up.”
“No! No you’re no! I am!” I exclaimed, choking up. “I didn’t…I didn’t realize when I saved that first….and every other time, just what I was doing.”
“What you were doing was being the best person I’ve ever met,” she said hugging me back.
“No! I…Raina, you can’t just do things for me. I shouldn’t have made you so attached. Should have realized what I was doing. Yeah, I’ve tried to share my values with you, but you’re still your own person. You have to live for you.”
“But…I need you,” she moaned.
“No you don’t,” I said. “You were a cool, tough as nails women when I met you, and you’re still that same person. No, I take it back. You’re better. I helped get you back on track, but you don’t need me around to keep getting better.”
“What are you saying?” she growled. “You don’t want to be part of my life anymore?!”
“No,” I said, hugging her tighter. “I want us to be friends to the day I die. Which, come to think of it, may be pretty soon, but that’s besides the point. I’ll always be there for you Ray, whether it’s just to chill or to save you…but you need to do you. Do you understand?”
After a few moments, she nodded and said, “I do.”
We let go of each other, and I smiled at her, wiping away both the tears on my face, and on her’s.
“So…” I started. “Does Raina Davenport, thinking only about what she thinks, want to help wipe out humanity…or help us save it?”
As I continued to smile, she felt her slicked back hair, and took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry, Carter.” Oh no. “But I’m not fighting a losing battle. Not against my own father.”
“Your father has been doing the same thing as me!” I said, getting angry both thinking about Adam, and how hard this was getting. “Only while I’ve been acting like a self-righteous jackass, HE’S been raping you!”
From the look on her eyes, something was very clear: This was the first time someone had actually said to her that it was rape.
Not reacting in time, she slapped me, now looking pissed.
“For once Carter, you are totally off base!” she shouted. “Daddy loves me. I’m his Queen! It’s not rape!”
“NO! We just went over this! You are Raina fucking Davenport! No one, not me, OR your dad should be able to make your decisions, and treat you the way we have.”
“He hasn’t done anything wrong!” she pleaded.
“Yes. He. Has!” I shouted, building an aura of white electricity around me, not just surrounding my body, but extending further too. My eyes were filling up with white electricity as well.
Raina jumped back in shock.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
I wasn’t sure I knew the answer to that. But I was pissed. And scared. Really scared. It wasn’t about who I was gonna get killed by. Or whether or not the world would end. No, the fear at the bottom of my heart was that for once, I wouldn’t be able to save Raina.
And I would not allow that!
“Stay behind me,” I said.
Roaring, I could feel the energy surging all over my body. Around my hands, white, yellow, and blue lightning all crackled together.
“Ray, why are these people being tortured?” I asked.
Unsure of why I was asking at this moment, Raina hesitantly answered, “It’s part of Father’s plans. They’re going to make them all into obedient cyborg soldiers. Just making him even more unbeatable.”
“I see,” I said.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“You knew I wouldn’t leave these people here,” I started. And now that I know what your father has planned…that nothing is coming from this but suffering.” I paused. “This was the power I used to take down Olivia. Maybe even greater. Should be enough to waste this lab.”
“No!” she shouted, running up in front of me. “Carter, right now, even if Father finds out you were here, you’re still just an ant to him. An ant that I can protect. If you destroy this lab and let everyone go, you will be actively setting his plans back. He will come after you. Or Hell, he won’t need to. He just won’t give you the power you need to beat Smog.”
I closed my eyes…and smiled.
“Come on, Raina, you know me better.” I opened up my smile to expose my teeth, and widened my eyes. “If I wasn’t making ultimately stupid decisions in the name of doing the right thing…I wouldn’t be Lightning Bee.”
With that, I started screaming.
Somehow, I felt like I could do something new. Something that was exactly what was necessary right now.
And so, shouting at the top of my lungs as I struggled to do so, I started moving all the electricity around me to my right arm.
“Still, if you want to save these people, you can’t just blow the place up,” Raina said. “And how are you even gonna get them out?”
“Not sure about the second question,” I said, raising my arm, now encased completely by all three colors of my lightning. “But I think I’ve got a solution to the first problem.”
I raised my arm, and fired out a blast of electricity no thicker than a piece of string. And unlike in the past, I was able to control it.
Powered by the raw fear-energy on my arm, I shot the single blast all over the lab. Computers, walls, lab equipment, the glass keeping in the prisoners…I destroyed it all, starting more than a few small fires in the process.
“Oh my god,” Raina said. “What have you done?”
“Exactly what I needed to do,” I said. “Maybe I don’t have chance in Hell against him, even with how strong I’ve gotten. But I want to fight your father. And I want to win!”
“You won’t! Daddy will just kill you, and I’ll just have to watch, standing at his side. Because that’s where I have to be!”
She hadn’t listened to reason. She hadn’t been inspired by my act of resistance.
I think I’d managed to break whatever psychological hold I had on her. Now I needed to break her father’s hold on her somehow, or things could somehow get worse.
“I’m sorry I have to do this,” I said.
Raina just looked confused. But she’d understand in a minute.
Tightly, I gripped her face.
“I’m so sorry.”
With that, I began burning her with my yellow lightning. It was the only lightning I had that wouldn’t do any serious damage to her.
“Ahhhhhh” she shrieked in pain, falling to her knees. “Carter! What are you doing?”
I was struggling not to cry. This had to work.
“You love me, right? But this pain is still horrible! That is what your relationship with your father is! The difference is that unlike him, I DO care about you! With him, you’re just something he wants. And he doesn’t care if he hurts you. You’re no more to him than any of these prisoners. Something he wants that he’s more than willing to make suffer!”
“No…he loves me…stop hurting me, Carter.”
“I wish I could, but you have to see. He’s conditioned you to it, but I’ll I’m doing now is what your father has been doing your entire life. Hurting you! Outside of this instance, I would never do that. Malcolm would never do that. And mad as you are at her, Olivia wants nothing more than your forgiveness, because she’s so sorry that she hurt you! Where as your father just keeps causing pain. You’re a hero, Raina. We care about you, and you care about the world. The world your father wants to crush!”
For a moment, I thought I’d reached her…and then I messed it all up.
“Please!” I screamed. And as I did so…I lost control of my fear.
My lightning turned white, and Raina let out a deafening scream. I pulled back, but smoke was already coming out of her face, which she immediately covered.
“Oh my God, Raina! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to…”
“Get out!” she screamed, as I heard her crying. “All you’ve done here is hurt me. You’ve told me you don’t want us to be as close as we were. You’ve slandered my father. And now…you’ve gone and attacked me.”
“That’s not what I’ve been saying,” I said. “And it was an accident! I swear!”
“Get out!” she repeated. “You’ve been trying to tell me my father doesn’t care about me, but now it’s clear that he’s the only one who does!”
No, no, no.
“Ray, come on, let’s get you to a healer. There’s still time to save your face.”
“For the last time…” she muttered. “Get out!!! Get out or I’ll kill you!”
Tears coming down my face once more, I faced the fact.
I’d lost her.
“I’m not giving up on you, Ray. I swore I never would. You can hate me now. You can hate me forever. But I will stop Andrew. And I will help you see the truth.”
On the floor, she remained silent. Just crying into her hands.
“They won’t suffer any more for at least a little bit,” I said. “I’ll be back for all these people too.”
Slowly, Raina removed her hands from her face, and she glared at me, her face completely charred. The look in her eyes…right now, she hated me.
And I couldn’t blame her.
I could have blasted through the ceiling and flown up, make a big showing at the party; take on Andrew. But I wasn’t ready for that.
And so with one last look at Raina, I made my way to elevator.
“Goodbye forever,” I heard Raina whisper from across the room. “Snipey.”