Canton chroniclesrising.., p.15
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       Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.15

           Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
 
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  “Wake up, Amy, for God’s sake. We have to get out of here.”

  Amy was mumbling, refusing to open her eyes.

  “You are not going to get away this time, Val. Your friend out of the game. Maybe for good. That will teach her that Alice Green never forgets. I doubt she will have the strength to touch me again.”

  Alice was once again on her feet and surprisingly calm, walking towards Val, hitting her self-made fortress with electricity.

  Val knew what she had to do. One strong hit, and Alice would be a goner. Forever.

  And I, a killer. I would be send in the Underground for life. But it is my fault on the first place that Amy was hit.

  Amy was fading fast in her arms, and Alice was hitting her with merciless currents, one after the other. Currents destined to kill. Val tried countering them, creating little invisible shields with her palms, but she was already cornered.

  I have to hit her. It’s me or her.

  Val jumped out of her hiding place, her hands already extended, in order to deal with Alice. But it was already too late. She had lost too much time on thinking.

  Alice send a quick and powerful electric wave towards the roof, causing the heavy material to collapse on their heads. Val couldn’t let Amy alone here to die. She put her right hand above her head, creating a bigger protective shield this time, big enough for Amy and her to fit underneath. But the debris kept coming and coming, as Alice kept hitting.

  “You thought I would forget you, Valentine? You were right that very first night at the school. You should have died long ago, rot in that damn Asylum. You were already living in borrowed time. You should actually be happy. But it ends now. I’ve had enough.”

  The last thing Val saw was an incredible brightness. Alice was charging, her whole body engulfed in a terrifying ball of lighting. She hit the ceiling with all her strength. The whole roof collapsed on their heads.

  And that’s how you die. By being an idiot.

  ***

  Val thought death wasn’t actually that unpleasant. She felt elevated, somehow. And then she heard the sarcastic, familiar voice behind her.

  “That’s because you are not dead, idiot.”

  Val turned her head and faced the girl.

  “For the love of the Deities, not you again. Haven’t you heard the till death do us part thing? Wasn’t slapping me enough? Seriously, leave me alone. I am already being punished for my stupidity.”

  “You should be actually, since you are being a complete imbecile right now. Open up your eyes, Valentine.”

  They were sitting in the bench again, facing the beautiful field. Val looked at the girl and saw that her face was now full with frustration and anger.

  “What’s wrong?”

  “Are you going to give up that easily? After all the things Green did to you?”

  Val looked at her, flabbergasted.

  “She sent a pile of debris on my head. My best friend lies on the floor, almost dead. What am I supposed to do?”

  “But the roof still hasn’t touched you, Val. Look above.”

  Val looked up, annoyed and lowered her torso, exclaiming in surprise.

  “What the actual fuck?”

  The pile of debris was still hanging above her head, but it seemed so far away, like another dimension entirely.

  “You can push them away with a single move of your hand, Val. You still haven’t realised how strong you are. Do you feel it now at least?”

  She did. She felt her whole body pulsating, in a level far greater than the first time, three weeks ago. Like a fire was burning bright inside her.

  “I have to go now”, Val announced to the black-haired girl, and the girl looked pleased with her decision.

  “Good. And Valentine, listen very carefully.”

  The girl caught her arm really gently, but her hand had incredible strength. “She will come to you, as long as you are in that particular state of mind. She will tell you to kill Green. I know the temptation will be great, but, please, I beg you, don’t do it. Resist her. Or else you’ll be her plaything forever.”

  Val nodded, although she didn’t have the slightest idea who the little girl meant.

  “I won’t kill anyone, I promise. Just hurt her really, really bad.”

  ***

  Val opened her eyes, for real this time. She was slightly elevated from the ground, drugging Amy’s body along with her, who had managed to slightly raise her head and was now looking at her, mumbling confused. She let Amy fall to the ground gently, as she continued her elevation, until her head touched the ceiling.

  The pile of flying debris begun to circle around Val’s body, spinning faster and faster, like a vicious magnetic ring. She looked straight ahead, at her greatest and most fearsome enemy, who was now looking at her with eyes and mouth wide open. Val just had enough time to look her mirror image in the elevator doors, before her Power made her lose all control. It was ridiculous, but she had this crazy idea that she was blue.

  Val charged against Alice, as the latter frantically tried to escape, banging desperately the elevator walls. Val smiled. The first oversized cement pile left her Power circle, missing Alice’s head by centimetres. More followed, covered in a blue flowing energy, flying indiscriminately, hurting Alice’s back, arms and legs, breaking her bones in a few places.

  Her nemesis was crawling to the ground now, crying and begging for mercy, as Val continued her attack with a serious of inanimate objects, creating holes in her surrounding environment, with a strength she could not entirely control. A Power not entirely hers.

  Get out of my head, whoever you are.

  “Valentine.”

  A voice she didn’t recognise was talking inside her head, trying to be in charge.

  Who the fuck are you?

  “Don’t you want to kill her? Look at her. Pathetic. And she will try again Valentine, of course she will. You know it. You want this.”

  Like hell she did. Her mind was already making the surrounding debris fly closer and closer in Alice’s head, as she lay down crying, having abandoned all hope. But she would do it on her terms, not because some strange, malicious voice told her too.

  “GET OUT!”

  Val screamed and the voice hissed in anger and slowly, unwillingly, disappeared from her brain. But so did the incredible amount of Power.

  Val fell on her knees again, Amy’s body squirming against her own. And at that second, the elevator doors opened and Mike, Sebastian and John stumbled upon the almost unconscious Alice.

  John carried Alice’s wounded body on his back, as Mike and Sebastian walked up front, carrying Amy on their arms.

  “I can walk, it’s alright, Mike” Val said and she meant it.

  Her legs were shaking but she made it to the elevator, where they all descended to the main hall.

  They made their way to the light of day, as a couple of ambulances, as well as all of the Instructors, were waiting for them outside. Vanessa was standing right at the door, looking at her with sadness and disappointment. And then Val knew, deep in her heart, that her new life was over.

  ***

  Val was sitting once again in the Instructor’s office, in less than a month. Vanessa entered her office through her back door, plainly, unprofessionally dressed and obviously really tired. Many hours had passed since the Exam, in which Alice and Amy had been transported to the hospital, all of their friends had given their statements and Aldus Green had burst in the Academy demanding justice.

  Val had to stay for hours hidden in the Instructor’s chamber, in order to be spared from Aldus’ rage.

  Or so he could be spared from my own.

  She felt no rage though, as Vanessa sat opposite her and looked her deep in the eyes. Just stupidity. And guilt. Guilt about Amy who laid in a hospital bed in a comatose situation. Guilty about the guys who had to spend hours being interrogated. Guilty about all the people who were now in danger because of her stupid childhood vendett
a. She looked back at Vanessa, without speaking.

  “Anything more to add, Valentine?”

  No. She didn’t have anything more to add.

  “So, you confirm what the boys said? You wanted to check the floors once more, accidentally got lost, and then got ambushed?”

  Val nodded her head in agreement. “I didn’t want any more trouble with Alice, Mrs Rehberg. I swear to the Deities, God and everything holy in Canton. But she came up to us. She had been keeping tags on us all along, probably from that very night of the Atrium incident.”

  Vanessa looked at her, being at the verge of tears.

  “I believe you, Valentine. I really do. But Aldus Green is a very powerful man. He is breathing down our necks, ignoring the facts, showing us messages on Alice’s PA that say that you invited her there for the final show-off.”

  “That’s a lie and you know it.”

  “I do. I believe you, Val, but you have to understand. Two people are in hospital and the only person who is alive and well is you. Do you understand how that makes you look?”

  “Isn’t there any footage from the Exam?”

  “No. The cameras were cut off the moment you got lost on the wrong corridor. No mistakes there.”

  “And that proves it. That proves Alice cut out the signal. She is the one with the electrical manipulation.”

  “And you are a telekinetic. Alice’s friends, they are willing to testify that things with you and Amy Wyatt were rough the last few days. That they saw you fight over the Exam. Don’t you see what they are trying to do?”

  Val opened her eyes wide.

  Of course I know what they want to do.

  “They are going to use your past against you, Val. They are trying to build a case where you lured two poor girls in an empty building and tried to give them a lesson.”

  Val looked at her hands ashamed. Will I ever be free of my past?

  “Do you believe them?”

  “No, I don’t. But it doesn’t even matter what I do or don’t believe. Aldus has gone to Tom… The High Counsellor, Val. He demands a trial in two days, when his daughter will be out from the hospital. At least that’s what he says. What he really wants is your head on a stake.”

  “I am not afraid. I can face him.”

  She knew that her Power was much more than telekinesis.

  “Val, that’s exactly what he wants. He wants you to show your Power, to lose control once again. So he can put you to the Underground once and for all, or even worse have an excuse to kill you. I won’t allow that.”

  Vanessa stood up, fearless.

  “I have a plan, but you are not going to like it. It’s essential for your survival. You are going to sleep for a while, and a good friend is going to take care of you. A special friend. And that will give us time, time until Amy wakes up and testifies what really happened in that building.”

  Val mustered all the courage she could find in her broken heart.

  “Anything it takes, I’ll do it.”

  ***

  11. A Most Fateful Meeting

  Harmony Village – 18:00, 17th September, 200 A.D

  Chop, chop, chop… The clanking sound of cutting wood. Henry White was getting better at it. His long-gone strength was slowly returning to his body. He actually loved the feeling, considering he thought himself to be long gone just forty days ago.

  His father always told him that he could measure his real strength and discipline by household activities, like tending the garden or cutting wood for the fire. Henry always thought that it was his father’s excuse to make him do the chores. But now, as he chopped the old wrinkled tree down to pieces, he really did feel strong and disciplined.

  A strange melancholy came with the memory of his father. Not so much of the fact of his death, just of how huge of an asshole Henry had been at the time. I never even went to his grave after the funeral. I must do it one of these days. It’s time I got my life in line again. One step at a time.

  After his old friends’ visit, Vanessa’s attack and Guido’s final words, Henry did something he hadn’t done in a long time. He thought long and hard about his situation. He had no use to anyone dead, or half-dead from drugs. But the Academy was open again, and he had been a good fighter and occasionally, teacher, at his time. So maybe, just maybe, he was of some use to people alive.

  He slept on those thoughts, and as sweet release came along with sleep, Henry had another dark, almost forbidden thought.

  Maybe someone is strong enough to beat Aurelia at last.

  It wasn’t an easy road, fighting off the addiction in his system. There were restless days with endless vomiting, sweating, cursing Gods and men alike, and nights with nightmares so intense, that he would wake up with his pillow all wet from tears, screaming like a wounded animal.

  And then a day came, when Henry didn’t wake up screaming. He was so exhausted, and for the first time after a very long while, he’d slept soundly and he had appetite, real appetite for breakfast. With every bite and every sip of water, he felt better, more conscious, alive like a real person again, leaving behind his former shadow of a self.

  After a couple days of eating, drinking and enjoying his dreamless, clean sleep, Henry thought it was time to do what he feared most of all.

  Pick up his staff once again. Train to be a warrior once more. Slowly but steadily he found his lost fighting moves, and felt at last, complete. He trained every day, waking up his muscles, freeing them from the poisonous effect of the drugs and alcohol. He’d gained a lot of healthy weight and almost all of his lost physical strength.

  Henry still had a few things to take care of. His father’s grave was one thing. His wife’s another, but the mere thought of her hurt him deeply, even now with a clear consciousness. Fixing his relationship with Vanessa was also a great priority.

  One thing at a time, he thought, and continued with his sacred chores.

  He was lying on his couch, listening to the rain, watching a silly TV-show and eating his unhealthy chips snacks (he worked really hard that day, he deserved it, he said to himself again and again, mildly guilty), when he heard a rapid banging on the door and unconsciously, went to open it.

  The sight of Vanessa wet to the bone and totally restless, standing in his doorstep, did surprise him.

  “Henry, can I come in? It’s an emergency”.

  He ushered her inside, and then returned in a hurry with a warm towel. He put the towel around her shoulders in an awkward hugging gesture, but Vanessa didn’t seem to mind. Instead she looked up at him, a quizzical look on her face.

  “You’ve changed Henry. Or rather, you are YOU again. Is it for real this time? Are you back from the dead?”

  Henry smiled in the midst of all this mess. His best friend looked at him like she saw a ghost. He hugged her, truly this time. Vanessa returned the hug, clearly calmer now.

  “Just tell me what happened to you. Did some son of a bitch hurt you?” You’ve been hurting her for a whole year, you hypocrite.

  “No one can hurt me, Henry. You know that,” said Vanessa sarcastically, regaining a little bit of her composure.

  “But we really have a problem. And I am going to need your help, even for a night. I am glad you seem to be back at last. Follow me”

  Henry did as asked. Outside, the quiet rain had turned into a raging storm. One of these nights again, he thought. A bad sign.

  Henry turned his eyes and saw the car Vanessa had ridden all the way out here. It was not her usual city ride, but an enormous, total black car, wide in the back, like a van. Vanessa had carried something in the middle of the night… Something with the shape of man.

  His face turned instantly into a mask of anger and disbelief.

  “You brought the Coffin here? Are you out of your mind, Vanessa? Why do you even need something as powerful as that?”

  “Help me get this thing to safety and I will explain everything.”

  They transferred the stran
ge box inside, trying to be as careful as possible. Thankfully it had a levitation mechanism that still worked. Henry knew the damn thing from top to bottom. It was his creation, based on his grandfather’s original plans. The negating Container (or how everyone blatantly called it, the Coffin) was made to do exactly what its name promised. Contain a dangerous or potential threatening individual, stripping him completely of his Power.

  Henry had built another one under the Council’s pressure, after his grandpa’s original was used to trap Magenta. He never thought he would see it in use, not as long as he lived. Turns out he was wrong. Because the Coffin was now inside his living room and by the way its external surface glowed and hummed, someone was already inside. A feeling of worry was building up inside Henry’s chest.

  “Vanessa. Please explain this.”

  Vanessa took a long deep breath and did. When she was done, she looked at him, tears in her eyes.

  “The target of Alice Green is in the coffin, stripped of all of her powers. Although she is not to blame. Aldus Green wants her dead. We had to erase her trace for a while, until we see what we can do. I feel really bad for doing this Henry, for you and the girl too. But there is no other way.”

  Henry looked at the device. He didn’t even know the person inside, nor would he ever meet her, but he already felt sorry for her.

  “She had a bone to pick with the Greens? I don’t know if I feel admiration or sorrow for the poor bastard.”

  “A little bit of both I guess. At least that’s how I feel. But it’ doesn’t matter now, Henry. The important part is that you are alive and well. And that she can stay here for the night.”

  “What about Aldus?”

  “Nobody except us Instructors knows that I am here, Henry. And I had to tell Tom, even though I didn’t really want it. To all other Counsellors, you are as good as dead. I am sorry” she added quickly, when he saw the hurt look on his face. He shook his head and dismissed the thought.

  “It’s alright. They wouldn’t be far from the truth, anyway.”

  Vanessa made a small uneasy step to his direction. She wanted to hug him, it was clear in her eyes. But her pride won at the end.

  “I will be in touch with you, Henry, Ok? Tomorrow you can sleep soundly again.”

  She turned around and started walking towards the door.

  “Vanessa…, don’t overdo it ok? You are only one person. You can’t right all the wrongs of Canton by yourself.”

 
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