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   Chapter 42

Damsel[ed] Some Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 19610

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:05


I can“t fly.

That“s a terrible realization to make when you“re running for your life and your best bet is hanging in the air so the super-fast little villain can“t catch you. The ropes on my wings slid down to the tips“ curves, twisted up in the feathers and pulling the limbs down like weights. I surge up for a lift off, all the muscles in my wings tensed for flight, and only succeed in giving myself a starting stumble.

The girl chases me down with such speed that in her orange sweater, she looks like a flash of fire. New brands of pain ratchet through my bruised muscles with every step. I grit my teeth to hold back screams. "Spit, spit, spit!"

And thanks to my lousy father, the only metaphor I can come up with for the whole experience is wolf hunting. The room is hot and cooks my skin, splotching my face with sweat. Sawdust burns my eyes and cakes my eyelashes. Every breath leaves me gasping, my lungs heaving and streaking pain through my throat when I open my mouth to breathe. Every muscle in my body pounds as I pass the cages.

I“m dizzy. My knees feel like boiled spaghetti. I didn“t expect to my father again so soon. I didn“t expect him to crack metaphors at me or have one of his supers run me down and try to chain me up. The frustration is almost tangible, a sort of heat that fries me behind my eyes. I want to whip around and shout, "What did I ever do to deserve this?"

But I don“t. Cages blur as they pass by. Animals, fluffy ones that resemble raccoons for the most part, chitter and screech, scratching at the cage with their tiny paws. My eyes are bleary, heavy with tears I“m too tired to shed.

I feel so detached, so little of me invested at all in the fight. It isn“t my fight. And it isn“t my fault, either. It“s like I“m seeing the world through the lens of a movie camera. At least, I“ve tried my hardest to minimize my fault for this mess. She pounces. The chain tangles around my ankles. "Freaking—spit!" And I, being such a downer today, think: This is it. This is where it all leads to. All the fighting, all the kicking and screaming and suffering, it all ends here, in a dark cage-room for experiments.

I decide it“s awfully fitting, somehow. And then I decide to quit being melodramatic.

The chains twist and pull my legs together. I hit the ground in a tumble, collapsing flat on my back, arms splayed out. I look up, dizzy. The wall at my side loom drips with splattered ooze. A light hums above my head, and in my spinning frame of mind I just make out the very edges of a few tacked up photographs, black and white from a time before me and this fight. A pretty pony-tailed woman who looks eerily similar to Jaylin smirks from the top of the board, her eyes glowing. I feel like she“s laughing at me. My arms wobble when I lift my chest and I groan, my body as flimsy as if it were carved out of butter. The girl chuckles over me, an elbow on my hip to pin me down. I hardly even noticed her, to be honest.

"Hey, hey!" I cry. Squirming, I lift my hands in front of my face to protect it. A reflexive move. "Be careful! Poison kicked me there, like, twenty-seven times. It hurts!"

The girl looks up. Her amber eyes glow a near gold in the low light, and when she smiles she looks like a villain. A kind of cute one, actually. Taller than Jaylin and Heaven, a little rounder in the face. I almost chide myself for noticing her cuteness, but it“s not like Jaylin and I are a thing. I think she thinks of me as more of a toy than an actual guy with actual feelings. The girl picks up her elbow and I let out a shaky sigh.

"Sorry, Katris—"

"Angelos." I fix her with a wink. "Angelos M Fibbs." She snaps open one of the cuffs, the two halves glinting like a “W“ under the low light. I recoil, my shoulders pulsing with fresh pain as I roll back on the blood-stained floor. "Please don“t."

Sweat leaves trails on my skin under the low bars of fluorescent lights. My eyes droop. I“m exhausted. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally fried. I miss Gats. He“d probably flirt his way out. Smirking and charming, oozing a charisma I can only dream of. And Heaven? I miss her, too. She doesn“t get tired. She“d fight on. My splintered fingers tremble, curling weakly. They don“t even make it into fists. They just fall limp at my side, exhausted as me.

"Well, I“m so sorry, Angelos." The girl“s voice drips with the most cynicism I“ve ever heard on a voice so honey-sweet. She rolls her eyes. "But orders are orders, you see."

I watch her undo the tangles in the chain, the open cuff dangling over one hand. Lying flat, the lights arching into halos over my good eye, I can“t help but squeeze my eye shut. My wild breathing smoothens into something lighter. Softer. Puffs of air tremble on my lips.

I“ve never been a strong person. I put survival over pride, something Gats would never let me live down. I remember it clearly. In, eighth grade I did all of Connor Connolly“s honors homework for months because he and his friends terrified me. Gats fixed that when popped the kid the nastiest right hook right I“d ever seen. He got one month of after school detention and a week of ISD for it, but he did it. And I know he isn“t like that anymore, he and Heaven, not completely, anyway. Everything we“ve done and felt and seen has broken each of us in some way.

Gatsby cries a lot when he thinks we don“t know. I heard him when he thought I was asleep, back when I was floating on Jaylin“s drug. Heaven“s weak, jaded, and acts a hundred years older than a sixteen-year-old should. But we“re all just kids, and I remember who we were. I miss who we were. I force my fingers to slip into fists and I try to channel my friends“ energy into me. I may be alone, but I“m not giving up. Not until I“m back with Gats, Hev, and Jaylin and we“re all playing Monopoly and I bankrupt those suckers li

to the girl and she slips off into the dark. "I“m sorry this had to happen to you," he says when she“s gone, but I don“t buy it.

"If you were really sorry you“d let me go." I know I“m trying him, but what else am I supposed to do? Talking to people feels like putting together puzzles these days. But I don“t have the right words and I certainly don“t know what I want my father to feel. I“m just tired.

His jaw twitches. His gray bangs cover his eyes, but I see the way his fingers curl and I hear the way he growls. I struck something. Goodie.

"I“m your father," he snaps. "Villain or not I“d do anything to spare you from an once pain. You have to understand that, Angelos." How funny. He squeezes my arm and yanks me to my feet. I fall back, off balance from the cuffs looped around my ankles, and he hefts me over his shoulder in a firefighter carry. I can“t help squirming. Everything he says sounds like bullcrap to my ears.

"You sure don“t seem to feel that way about Poison—"

"You talk too much." I glare back at the cage room and swallow hard. I feel like a traitor for leaving Kepler behind, even if it wasn“t my choice. "Look, all I“m saying is that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and you and I are the few. We go through pain so others don“t."

"Oh." I snort. My body quivers and my laugh is slick and fake. "How heroic. Is that why you have people pay insurance so you don“t destroy their livelihoods? And I guess the bank robberies and thefts and political sabotage is all about saving the many, too." My chains clang against him, my body half-slung over his shoulder. This is the only way I can fight. With sarcasm. And I really, really suck at that, though it“s only an afterthought. My father“s delusional.

"Mayor Curtis will keep the supers in Starlight safe. Down in Helio City, they“re drained of their powers. Down in Old Newport they“re monitored and often “disappear.“ I and Snare does what“s best for our people."

My jaw drops. "You put Mayor Curtis in power?"

Light trickles through the door. He kicks it open. "What else were we supposed to do, Angelos? Let Mclaren win? You were only eight or nine when the first election happened, so maybe you can“t remember, but that man wanted to make Starlight City Old Newport. If he were in power, your friend Galaxy would either have a chip in her arm or her powers drained, probably both."

I sputter. I was never one for politics, especially not about supers. But I didn“t know people went that far. "Th-that“s not constitutional."

"Depends on what you consider constitutional. Depends on what you consider supers to be, son." I shudder. I hate it when he calls me “son.“ "Human?"

"What else can we be?"

He shrugs, and there“s so much strength and suddenness in the movement it almost sends me flying. "Natural disasters. Freaks of nature. Maybe even weapons."

I don“t know what to say to that. There“s something inherently wrong with what he did, even if it meant saving innocent supers. I squirm and struggle when I hear voices from above. "Crap, crap, crap!" the girl cries. I lift my head and watch her stylish brown boots pound down the stairs. "Fallout! Stay here!"

She stumbles the last step, and I gasp. Her face drips with blood, her sweater torn and punched with rows of even slashes. The voices come louder. I hear a man scream. The drug guy tumbles down the stairs, face white with terror as he cusses on and on. He steadies himself and brushes gray patches off his shirt, muttering disgustedly to himself.

"What is it?" asks my father.

"Syndicate!" The girl pants, wiping smears of blood off her face. Her eyes, set apart and awfully pretty, are so wide they scare me. "Mobs of them, acting under Owl“s orders."

"Owl“s orders?"

"Not to let you or your sons leave until she arrives."

Then my father, the big and bad leader of a criminal organization, faints.

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