|"A Few Degrees Shy of Heaven"
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing.
Summary: ***If you haven't read Road Trip, much of this will not make sense***
Category: After Hours
|Liz and Max both looked at Isabel, staring deep into her eyes as their breathing became soft and slow. Isabel looked back into Max's deep eyes and focused on keeping her breath at the same pace as theirs even though it was difficult. She was, after all, a mass of raw nerves but she was doing good in spite of that.
Max? Liz's voice asked in his mind. This isn't working!
Just concentrate Liz, he replied. Blank your mind and only concentrate on Isabel.
"Wait," she said aloud, shaking her head to clear it and breaking any concentration they all had.
Michael's eyes were full of rage. "What the hell are you doing Liz? We don't have time for this shit!"
Liz glanced at him, unnerved by his yelling and then sighed. "This isn't working you guys. Maybe...Isabel, give me your hand. I think that if I touch you it will work better."
Isabel reached out a hand and Liz took it before taking another deep breath and nodding. "Let's try it again."
Everyone inhaled a sharp breath and Isabel chose to link her eyes with Liz. "One, two, three, concentrate," she said and they all began to breath evenly again.
Both of Max's and Liz's minds began to instantly function as one. There were no individual thoughts between them as they focused on the blonde beauty across from them. But nothing seemed to be happening and their increasing doubt began to deflate their determination.
Then, just as they both began to consider giving up, suddenly they were all hit but a rush of images to quick to interpret but one thing was clear; these were images from Isabel's head!
Liz sucked in a breath and called out with her mind.Isabel?
Isabel blinked as though she were disoriented and then grinned triumphantly, her eyes lighting up. "I'm in!" she whispered in shock. "Oh my God, I'm in!"
Max and Liz both exhaled and then leaned over and kissed each other. We did it! It was unclear whose thought it was but then again, it didn't really matter; they were both thinking the same thing anyways.
Michael sighed in relief and then cleared his throat, nodding laconically. "Good job. Let's keep it going!"
"Bring it on, Izzy," he said, his tone solemn and they all settled down and began to focus.
While waiting for Nacerro and Kyle's arrival, Maria began to pace. Now that the confrontation was here, she wasn't as nervous or scared as she had feared she would be. Instead, she was anxious to get to it. She felt calm and was thinking rationally. Now that she had accepted her inevitable demise, she could only focus on doing all in her power to bring Nacerro down with her.
Fury bubbled up in her throat and she sneered at the ground. She still couldn't believe how he would stoop to such low tactics of trying to trick her child into killing them both. Before, killing him had only been a necessity to prevent the destruction of Michael and his people but now, this was about vengeance.
She only hoped that she could spare Kyle's life in the process. In all reality, he was innocent; that much had been made painfully apparent during her dream. However, she knew that if he got in her way, she would have to get rid of him too even though she prayed that it didn't come to that. And if it had to, so be it. She had to do what she could to protect Michael and the others.
"I hope they understand," she whispered, coming to a stop. She pushed the tears back down her throat and raised her left hand to look at her wedding ring with it's strange purplish stone and odd engravings. The memory of Michael gently placing it on her finger with such love and warmth in his eyes was still fresh in her mind. But then again, it should be. It was only yesterday even though it seemed a million years ago. As horrible as some of it had been, the rest had been beautiful. Especially last night when she and Michael had made the sweetest love. God, how she was going to miss him. She hoped her death wouldn't cause Michael too much pain. "Forgive me," she whispered, bringing her own left hand to her lips and kissing the ring.
"Oh, how touching," a sardonic voice stated and Maria's straightened her shoulders as she turned around to come face to face with Nacerro. His face was triumphant and cruel, his eyes like tiny glaciers.
"Like you would know what touching is, you unfeeling bastard," she spat, pleased by the cold cruelty of her own voice.
"Is that any way to talk to your father?" he reprimanded.
"You are not my father," she retorted. "You may have had a hand in my genetics but you are nothing to me."
"I'm disappointed in you Maria," he sighed, shaking his head dramatically. "Still you try to keep up this charade. Why won't you just embrace your destiny as Kyle has?" He motioned behind him and Maria noticed Kyle for the first time.
"Why hello, Kyle. I didn't see you standing there, hiding in his shadow," she said sweetly.
Kyle didn't respond. In fact, he looked nervous as he blinked and looked to Nacerro for help. God, he is totally brainwashed, she though sadly.
"Maria, I asked you a question," her father stated impatiently. "I expect an answer."
"Hmm, let me think about this," she sighed, feigning distress. "Oh, I know! Well, I guess the fact that you are everything I loathe in a person could be the answer to that. You only want to destroy people and I can't support that. I would rather die than become like you." She patted herself on the back for her calm, even tone. It was sheer bravado but it still made her feel better to know that he wasn't getting under her skin. Yet, she added.
Looking down at her over his nose, he cleared his throat and shook his head. "Did you forget that I could just make you? My power is stronger than you could even fathom. You are nothing compared to me. You don't have the power to defy me! Stop resisting!"
The ice began to run through Maria's veins at his thunderous bellow and the pounding of her heart caused her entire body to shake with it. "Force me, huh?" she spat. "Is that what you tried to do to my baby?"
Nacerro looked impressed. "Very good, no fooling you, I see."
"You're damn right about that!" she cried. "How dare you! But guess what, it won't work. I don't know how you got into her mind but she will never do what you told her to!"
Nacerro smirked, looking unconcerned. "Getting into that child's mind was easy. After all, she's half Dilana and Dilana's are weak minded fools. But just so you know, she will do what I say! She doesn't have the power to resist me. You'll see."
Maria raised a quivering hand to wipe the perspiration off of her upper lip and forehead and then sighed. "That's not going to happen," she said breathlessly. "I have already killed before and I will do it again. None of us are leaving here tonight." She knew that the threat didn't sound one bit convincing but that would have to do.
The tall man smirked. "I'm assuming that you're talking about that worthless piece of scum, Hank? Am I right?"
Maria swallowed and nodded. "Yeah, I am."
"Hate to tell you honey, but you didn't kill him. You couldn't have killed him if you wanted to. Your powers aren't sharp or developed enough. In fact, you couldn't kill a fruit fly if you wanted to."
She held her breath, her head swimming with this new development. "You mean, Hank isn't dead?"
"Oh, he's dead but not by your hand."
"You killed him," she breathed, feeling nauseous. She may have hated the man but she never wished him dead. Didn't this man have a feeling in his entire body? Of course not, she reminded herself bitterly, he's not even a man. "Why? Why did you kill him?"
"Two reasons. The first, he was a worthless insect and the second, I had to make you think you killed him so that you would allow your natural instincts to come to light. Now, I'm really getting tired of the Q and A, dear. It's time that you swear your devotion to me."
I'm in! Alex's voice rang sharp in Max, Liz, and Isabel's minds and then he said it aloud to let Michael know.
"Everyone concentrate on Michael," Max said aloud and they all looked at him. The connection was immediate. Michael didn't even have time to concentrate before he even had the chance to concentrate himself. Immediately, he felt all of them; Max, Isabel, Liz and Alex. They were all there, their thoughts all distinguishable from one another.
I'm here, he sent.
"That was easy," Alex said aloud and Isabel smiled.
"Okay Michael," Max said, excited. "Bring us Maria."
"Devotion? You're crazy! That will never happen!"
"Actually dear, I'm quite sane. I have a mission to complete and you are part of that mission. I'm not doing this for fun, I'm doing this for the survival of our people. Do you think I asked for this job? Do you think that I enjoy killing people? I'm sorry but it just isn't so. I am doing this for the other millions of our race. The fact remains that I have to do. Any means necessary."
Maria turned around and shook her head to clear it. For a second there she almost felt sorry for him, for his burden. She knew what he was trying to do; he was playing on her emotions. She couldn't let that happen. It was time to get down to business, no more talking. She inconspicuously slid her hand inside her sweatshirt, making it look as though she were putting her hand in her pocket while really she was wrapping her damp fingers around the slender handle of the dagger and then turned back around.
"I guess we're at a stalemate then," she said evenly even though her blood was rushing painfully in her ears. "You have a mission but so do I and it looks like neither of us are going to relent." She stopped to take a long, shuddering breath and tightened her grip on the handle, inching it out of it's sheath and praying. "So, the only thing I can think to do is this!" Lightening fast, she pulled the dagger out of her waist and threw it at him with a prayer on her lips. It flashed end over end directly towards his heart and for a second, she though it was going to connect but he was simply too quick and powerful.
Nacerro caught the dagger in mid air, his hand encasing the blade and in the blink of an eye, whipped it back at her. She didn't feel it connect - she was too shocked - but when she looked down she saw the handle of the dagger protruding from her chest.
She gasped and looked up at him in a daze before her legs gave out on her and she fell to the ground with a thud.
"Any means necessary," Nacerro repeated regretfully.
Come on Michael! Give her to us!
Maria looked up through blurry, tear filled eyes, at Kyle whose own mouth had fallen open and she was sure she could detect desperate concern in his eyes. Suddenly, his eyes widened and darted towards Nacerro. "What's it doing?!" He demanded, his voice a high pitched shriek.
Maria looked down at the dagger in her chest and saw that the stones were pulsing. Suddenly, she remembered being told that striking Nacerro with the dagger would take drain his powers, leaving him defenseless. Oh God!
"Quiet Kyle!" He said sharply, his eyes flashing with pleasure. "The dagger is going to give me her gift! It's the only way we will survive!"
That was when she felt the pain. "NO!" she cried as her entire body began to spasm and a blinding white light flashed from the handle of the dagger, illuminating the room. She began to perspire heavily as a sharp pain settled itself in her spine; sharp like several needles being jabbed into her flesh. She gasped again as the pain made it's way through her entire back as though those needles had become red-hot pokers. Soon, agony filled her entire body and then suddenly, the pain began to separate her insides as though the flesh was being torn from her bones.
"No," she whimpered and then suddenly screamed for all she was worth as her powers were ripped from her insides and given to Nacerro. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"
|Part 29 | Index | Part 30
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