False Dawn #18: Out of the Pan
Part Four of Five: Singing the Blues
Short Story Format
Devin Leigh Michaels
You know when it’s so quiet that the silence actually hums? Well, it’s doing it now, even as I stand before a dull and disheveled bed. Lance and Casia are sleeping soundly, the Cursed’s arms about the were-phoenix’s, and after seeing the past and what they went through to get here…
“Fate is cruel, Ral,” Kainoa whispers behind me. “I’m not a fan.”
“This, coming from Destiny?”
Kainoa glowers, his bright eyes burning against the darkness of natural night. “It’s… complicated. Every event is connected to another and another, and the past is just as important as the present or even future. I won’t damn today for yesterday, Ral.
It’s selfish. I know it is. Lance lives and dies so many times, and Casia watches it all. I never realized how much they mean to each other; all I know is how much they mean to me. I wouldn’t have survived this long without them, and I can’t imagine not knowing them.
Casia sighs and shifts, her hand now cradling Lance’s cheek on her shoulder. Lance takes a deep breath, as if smelling her, and once he realizes she’s still there, relaxes once more.
I look back at Kainoa, whose hair and eyes burn a bright blue in the night. “What can I do?”
“Get me free. Then I will end this. WE will end this.”
“Yeah? Really? If you’re sooo powerful, then how did they get you the first time?”
“Maybe because he couldn’t shut up,” Lance’s gruff voice cuts through the silence as does a cocking of a weapon. I look over my shoulder to see him pointing some sort of blaster at Kainoa as he kneels on the bed, Casia barely awake underneath him.
“How’d you find us? Where’d you get the kid?” he demands.
Kainoa’s eyes narrow, and a dangerous, almost deadly look envelopes his face. “What’re you—”
Lance is as impatient as ever. “It doesn’t matter. I won’t go back, and I won’t let you take the kid again. Ral, get behind me.”
“Lance, what’re you on? Kainoa didn’t take me. It was—”
The door’s kicked open; lights blind us.
“RAL! DUCK!” Casia screams, and I turn as fire rages toward me.
The red flames char my skin, even in the lab, and blinking, I shake my head, which is about the only thing I can move. Metal shackles constrict my hands and legs, and try as I might, they don’t give. I’d need Superman strength or something, but the lab rats probably would have made these restraints Kryptonite.
But the heat still burns—on my hands and feet especially. It’s like they’re engulfed by Casia’s fire—raging, scorching, tearing. Where the blue flames chilled my skin to the point of burning, these are just hot.
And I let it. In fact, I think of Casia’s flames, how she uses them sometimes to teleport us from one place to another, and the heat grows until I’m not sure if I still have my hands and feet.
My shackles blast off.
Yeah, see, this is THEIR problem. I don’t know what all my powers are. How can they?
“Hey! You!” One of the lab tech—yeah, he’s even got Dr. Frankenstein’s white jacket—points to me. “Stay—Stay where you are! GUARDS!”
Crap. I totally throw some white fire at him, singeing his lab coat.
After throwing off my mask, I smile up at Kainoa as I put my hands to his ankle shackles. “Yeah, I meant to do that.”
Enveloped by white fire, the shackles blast off, and I put both my hands on his left manacle. “I hope you’re as good as you think you are.”
The left wrist joint bursts open, and a force slams my head into the metal X that confined me.
“You aren’t trying to bail out, are you?”
When I turn my head, an invisible force slams my back into the manacles and even clutches my neck, tipping my head against the cool metal. Before me looms Sierra, her fingers clenched like Darth Vader when he chokes his underlings to death.
“Tell me. What do you think the punishment should be for a bushranger like you?”
“….urk!” Apparently, I need my throat to talk.
“For speaking out against us, I took Jayden’s voice.” Her lithe fingers brush my exposed throat. “For seeing a future outside of Project: Avatar, I stole Clarence’s sight.” They now massage my cheek. “For trying to run away…” Her hand clenches my right thigh, and I close my eyes. “…we’ll take away your ability to run.”
Sparkles tickle my leg like it’s falling asleep. Please no. Please don’t—
Damnit, Kainoa. You totally suck.
“Hey, Sierra!” a voice echoes from seemingly nowhere. “Time to end this.”
In a flash of blue, Kainoa tackles Sierra from the side and tosses her effortlessly into the stairwell. In another flash of blue, a piece of paper occupies my hand with a number and the scribbled message, “Call this. Tell them ‘Destiny’s down.’”
“Message? Really?” I shout as Kainoa disappears and reappears in front of Sierra, blocking her attack and flipping over a chair that soars his way. “What am I now? Your assist—crap.”
Guns cock behind me, and I glance over my shoulder at the security guards that now line the computer console, protecting the burned lab rat.
In flashes of blue light, vines wrap around their legs and tug them to the ground. A teen in a green hoodie with spiky hair and a quarterback’s build throws his hands out, wrapping vines about the doorways of the lab to keep the guards out. By the time I turn, Kainoa’s back with Sierra, this time taking out her kneecaps, and here, Vinny salutes me with two fingers.
Vinny shrugs. “I wouldn’t be if not for you. You were the only one who came to my aid, and you didn’t know Kainoa had a plan. Thank you.”
I don’t know what to say other than, “No prob.”
Taking the stairs two by two, I head for the Director’s office and then beyond, hoping to find a phone. The best I get is a kick to the face and a short dive off the catwalk. I land on something hard, but it gives, collapsing us both to the floor. It takes me a few second to realize it’s Kainoa. He tried to catch me.
“If it isn’t the pet,” Reger sneers as he stands above us. “Didn’t liked being collared?”
“You know this guy?” Kainoa asks as I climb off him.
I sigh. “He’s my sister’s ex-boyfriend. I saw him get eaten by a shadow monster.”
“I’ll handle Sierra, and you’ll handle him?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
I’m pretty sure we’re going to die.
Reger soars down at me, his blue wings and hands ignited. Tugging off my necklace and lifting my sword, I slashed one of his wings. The fire dissipated for a moment, and he teeters but successfully lands before me. Whirling, he thrusts with his scepter, which looks almost exactly like Casia’s, and I parry with my sword.
“What’s your big plan?” Reger combats. “You fight every single blue hoodie in here and then escape? You have to know you won’t get pass anyone, especially me.”
He fires off a powerful ball of blue fire, and I deflect it with my blade. It narrowly misses Sierra but gives Kainoa a second to catch his breath.
Unfortunately, Reger’s on me in that second, his specter pressed against my throat, my back against the wall—literally.
“Blue hoodies—they’re the best. They’ve trained the longest. They’re almost in complete control of their powers. How can a newbie like you expect to beat us?”
Blue fire rages about the staff, cold to touch, cold against my chin, and I growl at Reger and feel warmth about my hands.
“Easy,” I rasp and throw a white flame the control monitors. They explode and burst into flames, releasing smoke. “LIKE THIS!”
I kick him off as the sprinkles flicker to life, dousing his flames.
“NO!” he screams, but I’m already on him, punching him unconscious.
Searching Reger, it isn’t hard to find his cell phone—a rebel like him would be sure to have one—and dial the number Kainoa gave me, even as water flattens my hair and steals my own flames.
It never even rings.
“Who’s this?” The guy sounds twenty-something at the most. “How’d you get this number?”
“My name’s Ral Dawson. I’m a friend of Kainoa Ryder. He told me to tell you, ‘Destiny’s down.’”
“Is Destiny alive?” Fear replaces what was anger.
I look up to see Sierra’s palm up and out, holding Kainoa pinned to the floor. I only have a few seconds as her hands reach for his.
“Yeah, but I can’t say all-in-one-piece in a sec. Hurry!”
I toss the phone, and from behind, Sierra doesn’t see me toss my sword until the last second. She pivots, but the sword manages to slice her side, dragging her to the floor with a scream. Her hold upon Kainoa lifts, and he delivers a kick to her cheek, knocking her unconscious. Vinny finished his vine binds on Reger and comes to restrain Sierra
Rain still showers us from the sprinklers. Kainoa and I both breathe hard, but this isn’t time to relax.
“I made the call,” I tell him as we race up the stairs. “How long until we get some sort of back up?”
“Called who?” Vinny asks.
“Depends. Could be a few seconds or—” Kainoa huffs as we enter the empty office and open the door to the outside hallway—where Agent Towne and the rest of the blue hoodies await us. “—could be too late.”
Towne sheds his hoodie and smirks as he lifts his hands. “You two should know by now. We don’t tolerate troublemakers.”
“Yeah, well, I love Weezer’s song!” I retort, and Kainoa looks back at me.
“You know, the group that sang, ‘Bever-ly Hills. That’s where I want—’ Never mind. Who do you listen to? Don’t tell me Bon Jovi. He’s ancient.”
“Actually, I prefer Daughtry, some 3 Doors Down, a little 30 Seconds from Mars. Y’know, hard rock.”
“Daughtry’s from American Idol. You can’t call that hard—”
“Ahem. Boys, you have a war to lose,” Towne interrupts.
“Actually, we’ll all win.”
The young voice peeps, and the blue hoodies part just enough for me to see the hundreds, if not thousands, of Project: Avatar’s captives, all wearing different color hoodies, save blue. Kainoa and I smile at each other as we see Rio and Jayden up front, ready to take on the blues.
“What’s it going to be, Towne?” I demand. “You fight us, you fight ALL of us.”
He smirks, and I hate it—all haughty and full of confidence. “I like the odds.”
Kainoa’s gone in a flash of blue, then returns less than a second later. “Then how about these?”
And the blue hoodies part to the right to show the green hoodies—all of them.
Towne perks his lips and lunges. “I like a challenge.”
To Be Concluded…