Chapter 22: Spiderman had it lucky
“You finally took control of your own destiny, and now you get to be the one writing your story.”
Xander didn’t mean to set off the alarm in the Rossi Corp building. It just sort of happened.
After they climbed in through the air vents Ian had directed Taylor and Xander to the wing of the company that was housing the PF-08-02. Mera and Ross were to make their way to them from the security offices. Everything was going as planned. The only problem was Ian’s information.
The room where the PF-08-02 was supposed to be housed was empty.
“I . . .” Ian was staring at the room in shock. Obviously this was where the serum was being held only a couple of days ago, when Ian was still with Trevor.
“Looks like your boyfriend moved the drug, smart of him.” Taylor swiveled out of the room first, leaving Ian to flinch at the words.
“He was paranoid,” Ian defended, “I just didn’t think he was this paranoid.”
Trevor was paranoid enough to change the location of his PF-08-02 to a separate part of the building, but not enough to change the password to his security protocols. It looked like Ian wasn’t the one he thought would be looking for the serum.
“Where would he have moved it?” Xander asked.
Ian shook his head. “If Trevor thought this serum, one of the last unanswered connections to his father’s death, was in danger, he would’ve kept it close to him. It’ll be up in his offices.”
Translation, the serum that could make more of the Pill was right in the belly of the beast, kept right near a guy with a dissolving mental state.
Taylor poked her head back into the empty room, “Don’t you think it’s safe then? Wouldn’t X be hesitant to steal the drug when it’s hiding right next to Trevor?”
“We can’t be sure,” Ian argued. “We only know that it will be safe out of Rossi Corp hands. If X gets ahold of the stuff, he will be able to make crates and crates full. The entire city will be under his spell if we don’t make sure that serum is secure.”
So, they traveled up to Trevor’s offices. Once they met up with Mera and Ross, it was quite simple to disable and disarm the guards they met along the way. Humans were no match for heroes. It was only minutes before a guard checked the security feed and noticed that something was up, so they made the most of their time and hurried to the penthouse.
They were doing perfectly fine until Xander triggered the silent alarm by accidently shoving a vase that fell to the ground and shattered. With no time to lose, the group rushed into Trevor’s offices. They would have to make up a plan as they went.
Inside the office they found Lacey Carlton and Trevor, each with a band of goons supporting them. Lacey recognized Ian immediately. The heroes had all changed into their super gear, so their identities were safe.
“You here to help me out?” Lacey asked. Everyone who had just broke in noticed the expression on Trevor’s face and pieced together what they had just walked in on.
Ian shook his head, “No, we’re here to take a very dangerous thing Trevor has under his control. The thing someone took from your best friend.”
Lacey narrowed her eyes, glancing between the group of teens behind Ian and Trevor, who’s expression had gone hard at the sight of the man he once had loved.
“Well,” Lacey smiled a self-assured grin, “Whatever resides in this building that isn’t Trevor’s personal property is all mine. And, since this serum was probably made with Rossi Corp resources in a Rossi Corp owned building, you have to hand it over. It is the property of Rossi Corp and since Rossi Corp is now owned by Carlton Laboratories, the serum is mine.”
Trevor had a look resembling a cornered stray dog. He backed away even though no one was going after him. “You can’t take it away from me. You’ve already taken enough.”
Xander stepped forward into the conversation, feeling weird as he was obviously too young to be in this huddle of adults. “This serum happens to be a key ingredient in the Pill, Trevor. X recently broke out of prison, but even before then he was testing it out through the Black Tiger gang. Who knows how he got a hold of the serum last time around to create the drug, but we know this time exactly where X can find the last remnants of it. I would bet anything he already knows too. Don’t be a fool, Trevor. Don’t let more people fall to this villain. Because, if you do, you’re just like him. Your father wouldn’t have wanted that.”
“You don’t know what he wanted!” Trevor was turning on his friend, the one person he used to count on. The one person who didn’t think he was entitled because of his money and his father when they were young. The one normal person he could talk to. “Because of them, because of these so called heroes you’ve become someone I can’t recognize. You’re a killer.”
Xander’s hand started to vibrate and he clenched his fist. He hadn’t lost real control over his powers since he got them. “I don’t know what you believe, but I have done nothing with these powers except try and spread a little good in the world. That’s more than you can say about yourself and you don’t even have powers.”
It wasn’t the super powers that made someone evil, it was what someone would do to others without the help of supernatural abilities.
Trevor was beyond reason. “No, I am keeping my father’s vision alive. You will get that serum over my dead body. In fact, even then you will never find it. It’s no safer with you than with X. The government is worse than you think when they have possession of powerful things.” He had phrased the response like he knew exactly what the government was up to with powerful objects.
“Why not destroy it then?” Taylor asked, apparently having been viewing the argument with pondering eyes. “If you can’t trust us or the government to keep it safe, and you know you won’t be able to keep it safe forever, then why not destroy it all? That way we don’t have it and neither will X.”
Apparently that logic did not bode well with Trevor.
Xander narrowed his eyes, “You don’t even know why your father wanted that serum and you’re still protecting it. You know it’s dangerous.”
“Don’t make a horrible mistake, Trevor,” Ian pleaded, “don’t give X the upper hand.”
Trevor shook his head. “My father would’ve wanted me to defend all of his work, this is what that looks like.” He turned to his advisors behind him, who now all looked a lot buffer than before, “No one leaves this room alive.”
Then all hell broke loose.
Lacey Carlton had brought her husband, a very experienced martial artist and a vigilante in his own town. Her advisors seemed well versed in the art of fighting as well. Ross, Taylor, Ian, and Xander held their own against the goons who came after them. Trevor’s goons were no match for four heroes, a secret agent, and Lacey’s guards.
That was, until Mischief broke in to the fight.
Xander never saw him coming. He didn’t know how the villain had even broken into the building. All of a sudden bullets went off and Xander found himself dodging death and blocking it from his friends.
At one point in all of the fighting Xander noticed Lacey Carlton and Mera making their way around the side of the room to Trevor, who was rummaging in his desk. Of course Trevor couldn’t fight his own battles.
“Trevor, where is the drug?” Lacey grabbed ahold of Trevor’s arm as she said this, pushing him against the wall to the background of yelling and fighting.
Mera took over the job of finding what Trevor had been looking for.
He chuckled and refused to speak.
Mera ducked as one of the advisors in the room came flying at her, a bullet in his chest. He hit the opposite glass wall and it broke, the man’s dead body falling into the night air outside. With the sudden rush of cold wind, Mera couldn’t help but to notice that he wasn’t Trevor’s goon. They were losing the fight.
“You can’t seriously be letting the livelihood of every citizen in this city be in danger just to spite me.”
Trevor’s eyes were as hard as ice. “I would do anything to make sure you don’t win.”
A bullet hit the wall inches from where Trevor was pinned to the wall. Neither flinched.
But Mera saw what both couldn’t see. Everyone was either dead or unconscious except for Kingdom City’s heroes and one of their villains.
She hoped Ian and Lacey’s husband were only unconscious.
“I heard in the news about a winter wonderland in a Kingdom Hills alley way,” Mischief commented, carelessly aiming his gun at the heroes who were left. “Does that mean Ross Gustin finally figured out who his nemesis was? Or was it the other way around? That alley was pretty damn close to Ross’s house.”
The room was too shocked to physically respond.
“How’d you know my name?” Ross asked carefully.
Mischief shrugged, “My employer has many resources.” The room looked to a confused Trevor in response, but the villain only chuckled, “Oh, not him. I have a new guy now, someone who really embraces my enthusiasm for the job.”
“Then why fight on Trevor’s side if you don’t listen to him anymore?” Taylor asked.
Mischief lifted his gun in response, but Xander didn’t rush for it because it was aimed not at his friends, but at the arguably worse villain in the room. Trevor fell to the ground and out of Lacey’s grasp, clutching his leg.
“My new employer happens to really want this serum you guys are fighting over.”
X. Of course X would hire the crazy gun slinger.
If only one of them had x-ray vision so that they could see if Trevor had hidden the serum in his offices.
No one was sure what to do. Did they rush to help Trevor? Weren’t they on separate sides only moments before?
Mischief beat them to Trevor anyways. “Where’s the serum, Trev? I know your self-preservation instinct is higher than your need to preserve your father’s memory.”
A point to the third drawer on Trevor’s desk was all the villain needed. When Mischief abandoned Trevor for the desk, Trevor’s eyes met Xander’s. Trevor may have been under the belief that Xander was a hypocrite and a murderer, but they both wanted the serum out of X’s hands.
When Mischief’s back was turned, small vial in hand, Xander ran for it. In seconds he was back in his spot, the surprisingly small vial of PF-08-02 in his palm with a disgruntled Mischief staring daggers at him.
“You think you can hide that thing for long?”
Xander shrugged, taking a look at the serum in his hands. This was the very same thing that had given Xander his powers, the thing that made him fulfill his full potential. Without his powers he would just be at the exact same place he was three months ago. He wouldn’t have ever talked to Mera Deauxma in school, as distant as strangers. He would never have known exactly how decisive and cruel Trevor Rossi could be. He wouldn’t have ever fought with and gotten closer to John Washington. He would have never known Taylor Hale as anything other than Mera’s enemy. His mother might not have been targeted.
Xander handed the serum to Ross, not willing to be the one to destroy the serum that had completely changed his life. “No, but we can destroy it. As far as anyone knows, this is the last vial of the serum. Do you really think X wants to be told that his plans have to be halted while you guys search for another sample of Sonic’s blood?” Ross held the vial lightly in his hand, one flinch and he could drop the valuable item, shattering it on the floor and making it useless.
Mischief reached out and grabbed Mera, the nearest person to him, and put a gun to her head. As he grabbed her she almost tripped over the fraying hem of her fancy scarlet dress. The villain held a gun to her frizzing hair.
Xander tried to calculate the time it would take him to cross the distance with his speed, but it was hard to tell with the loose strands of hair waving and framing Mera’s terrified face. He couldn’t focus on anything but his captive girlfriend.
Chances were Mischief didn’t know Mera was his girlfriend, but since he claimed to know about Ross and Arctic Frost the night before, he could never be too careful.
“It seems we’ve come to a standoff. Ross over there drops the serum and your pretty lady gets shot, or the other way around. The only solution would be to hand it to me, nice and slow.”
Xander narrowed his eyes again, this time debating how fast it would take him to reach Mera. Could he save her fast enough to where Mischief wouldn’t have time to shoot off his gun? Was he fast enough to protect everyone from the villain’s shots?
If only he had timed his runs. Maybe he would know for sure.
“And don’t even think about trying to run for her,” Mischief read his mind, “If I see you start to move or feel her slip from my grasp, I will shoot at a person in this room. Are you willing to bet your girlfriend’s life on your ability to outrun my reaction time?”
No, he wasn’t.
Xander loosened up. In that moment of relaxation, Mischief’s gun swiveled to face Ross and he pushed Mera right behind him, through the empty space where a glass window had been before the fighting had started.
He didn’t register Mischief running at Ross or Ross’s fireball. All Xander could think about was running after Mera. Xander didn’t think about the fact that he couldn’t fly. He didn’t think about the fact that he didn’t know if his speed was enough to run down the side of the Rossi Corp building and catch Mera in time.
Xander just ran.
It felt like slow motion, running after the red figure falling from the top of the highest point in Kingdom City. He could see her face, eyes wide and arms outstretched. Her hair was falling out of its intricate design, flailing in the wind like a cape.
Xander grabbed on to Mera just as his feet hit the ground. He held her wedding style in his arms, surrounded by pedestrians and the faint sound of sirens. Of course, one of the people from the fight had been thrown out the window earlier, which was why it was broken. His body had fallen on one of the cars by the sidewalk, crushing it with the sheer force of the insane fall.
Now the citizens were greeted by the sight of a superhero holding a damsel in his arms. It would be no secret in the news tonight that there had been a superhero battle in the top floor of the Rossi Corp headquarters.
Xander tilted Mera’s head towards him, expecting a thankful smile. Expecting her to yell at him to get back to the battle and help to defend the serum from Mischief. Expecting her to embrace him with the same need and reassurance he was giving to her. But, she didn’t fulfill his expectations at all.
When you’re young and naive you believe that somehow the eyes close when a person dies. Like it’s the last function the body goes through before it breaks down for good. But, that wasn’t true. Sometimes, if the death was sudden, people died with their eyes open to the cloudless night sky. Searching for forgiveness or retribution in their final moments.
Those same swirling mahogany eyes he had first fell in love with so long ago stared back at him now, already glassed over and fogged. Already blinded to the one who had tried to save them.
Time didn’t move as far as Xander could tell, but soon enough paramedics were trying to take his goddess away from him. They didn’t see what he saw. They hadn’t seen the spark absent from her pupils.
Soon enough he let go, but he was rooted to the spot. Glue stuck Momentum’s boots to the street, stuck in the moment. As if watching from far above, Xander saw the men realize what he already knew.
A hand touched Xander’s shoulder and he finally was able to turn his eyes away. Somehow Ian Thompson had made it down to the bottom of the skyscraper. It only felt like seconds had passed, but it must’ve been more. The hand led him away from the first girl he had ever loved.
Xander didn’t know how the battle had turned out upstairs. Xander found that, in that moment, he didn’t care. What did it matter if X was going to overtake the city or not? The world would be over anyways. How could the earth keep spinning without Mera Deauxma to keep it so? How could the city go about their regular lives when Mera Deauxma was taken? How could the passerbys just stand there and take pictures or hurry past like it was nothing? Like it wasn’t worth their precious time. Did they not know the world was going to end?
Did they not know Xander’s whole world had come crashing down?