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   Chapter 34

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 13075

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Gatsby.

A riddle for you, if I may. How long does it take a super-healing, illusion-making, child-kidnapping supervillain to subdue a cat-eared kid with a bullet wound in his face?

Twenty seconds. Forty if you“re generous.

I hold Jupiter“s sword up like a shield as Owl flickers in and out of existence. I see her in blurs-a flash of white sweater, a swish of black ponytail, a gleam of her eyepatch. She attacks, I block. But the sword“s aura seeps into my skin, a cold blue that flows through my veins and chills them like ice. My heart pounds as I slash and perry. My entire body trembles, spasms that come from the flames. I can feel it in my head, seeping into my thoughts, trying to take over. But it isn“t my aura. It“s Jupiter“s.

I struggle with it, almost as much as I do with Owl. It creeps in no matter how desperately I try to focus on Owl and her movements. Thoughts splinter and memories roil across my conscience. His and mine. The distinction is blurry between the two because they both feel the same-mind-numbingly terrifying. There“s a reason some memories go repressed. There“s a reason I don“t talk about my life before I came to Starlight City.

"Felix, honey, wake up. You have to go."

Gunshots. I can remember them clearly. I don“t know how old I was then, nine? Ten? But the name of the people who took care of me, The Jameses, that“s seared into my memory in a way I couldn“t forget if I tried. They were the first people who gave me a glimpse of who I really was, showed me that people really wanted me dead. And the gunshots, that terrible moment I realized they were meant for me. I remember crying, as weak as it was for a "big kid," and I remember that night of hell. The police sirens, the strangers behind the wheel, me curled in the back seat of a little gray car. Shocked. Trembling. Numb.

I gasp and Owl swipes her dagger at my head. I duck just in time and she slices the tip of a cat ear right off. It stings like heck, but that“s all it does, sting. I smirk. "I was gonna do that myself," I say, stepping back with a polite tip of my head. "So, thank you, ma“am."

She actually laughs. "You think you“re so dignified, you little lab rat." She smiles sunnily. "Or should I say cat?"

"Of course." I ignore her insult. "And lay off the cat puns, will you?"

The woman leans back on her heels and spins her dagger.

"The only reason I haven“t killed you is because I want you alive." She stands in front of a door while her soldiers encroach, stepping a circle around us. The hair on my neck stands up. I grip the sword, my breath ragged and trembling. Violent images unfurl before my eyes, sending me reeling back.

I can“t tear myself out of the memories that aren“t mine. For a second I“m another person, seeing up into a broken ceiling, moonlight casting a low glow on my shuddering chest.

My body aches in odd places, my limbs splayed out and almost twisted on the ground. I have my answer to whether Jupiter died in pain or not. The sword lies several feet away. I can“t move. Paralyzed, head forced to the side at an extreme angle, Jupiter-me, at the moment-laughs, spitting up blood. "Nebula and Taurus will find you." Each word is a struggle to squeeze out of my lungs, the organ crushed inside my chest like a flattened accordion fold. "You won“t take Starlight so easy."

Someone grunts, their footsteps lashing across the floor in ringing echoes. "You don“t understand, Jupiter." Sparks flicker beside my ankles and wrists. I huff. It“s a trick of Fallout“s to make me squirm. The sneaky bastard. And somewhere deep inside I know this is it. This is where it ends. This is where I die.

Fallout strides up, black wings spread to blot out the moon. Flames crackle from his hands, his black eyes round and wide, his lips drawn up into a smirk. He has an aura. Pitch black. It drips off him like a shadow, as if the emo hair and goth attire

. "Distracted, distracted, distracted." Owl squeezes the back of my neck and I gasp, sputtering and nearly choking. She etches the tip across the inside of my chin. "You“re beginning to bore me."

I squirm. "It isn“t funny. Not to me. Not to your son." My head throbs and the inside of my eyes sting like they“ve been rolled up in gravel and Tabasco sauce. "Let go."

Owl huffs, and it sounds more like a growl. She presses her fingers into my neck and yanks me back, farther, closer to the door. I look up and the muzzles of guns stare back. "Mutiny," she grumbles under her breath, "holy shite."

My sword-holding arm quivers. I“m a little guy, still hungry, and this is going bad. I need Heaven and Angelos. I can“t win this on my own. Jupiter“s fear leeches to my gut, making my stomach twist up and sweat run down my face. "Listen, child," she says in my ear, "you“re a pawn. An experiment. You want to stay in one piece?" She makes a slashing motion over my throat with the dagger. "Stay in line."

"Okay." I breathe out. "Fine. You win."

"Is that so?" I guess she didn“t peg me as the type to give up so easily. And I“m not, not really. But I know when to quit while I“m ahead.

"Yes, but I have two conditions." I“m not in the position to propose conditions, but I might as well try. If I want to stay alive, I“m going to need to leverage some power in the equation.

"Yes?"

"I don“t wanna be tied up."

"Can I trust you?"

"If you don“t tie me up."

Owl snorts by my ear. Amused. I hate giving in like this, playing into her fantasy of tyrannical power. But I have to wait. I can“t win this, not now. I need help from someone, someone with powers, someone like Heaven.

My heart clenches in my chest. I“ll wait for you.

"Is that all?" the villain asks.

"I want cookies," I snap, tapping the sword“s tip to the floor. "And they have to be Oatmeal raisin ones."

She pulls me back, blade still crooked at my neck. Her fingers tremble. She laughs, laughing so hard I press against her to keep away from the shaking blade. "Child, that can be arranged."

"And," I say breathlessly. Another shard of memory slips through my defenses. Jupiter“s trembling gloved hand lifted to protect his face, curls of smoke choking the air out of his lungs. I swallow. "And I changed my mind."

"Yes?"

"Tell me about the supers. And-and my parents."

Owl gives my neck another squeeze. "All in good time." She removes the dagger. I let out a nervous sigh just as she slams something against the back of my neck. I tumble forward. I hit the ground hard and break consciousness harder.

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