Canton chroniclesrising.., p.17
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       Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.17
 

           Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
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  He smiled, contented. “Henry. Nice to meet you, Valentine.”

  ***

  Henry told her the whole story of her abduction, right down to the punch.

  “I slapped Aurelia in the face?”

  Henry looked at her with such satisfaction, Val thought he would’ve gladly grabbed her and kiss her on spot.

  “Best day of my life, kid. I sincerely thank you.”

  “But why? Why do you hate her so much? In fact, how did you even survive my attack?”

  Henry laughed, sincerely amused.

  “Hit me.”

  “What?”

  “With your Power. Hit me.”

  “I don’t want to hurt you…”

  Henry grabbed her shoulders, and pushed her to the back of the couch, violently.

  Val hit him with a Power wave, without thinking, in order to defend herself. The Power brushed off Henry, who stood there, unaffected.

  Her mouth hung opened as everything connected in her brain. She remembered something they’ve read with Mike at the Library, a long time ago. About mediums, enhancers of the Power. And Negators.

  “You are a White.”

  Henry nodded slowly, his eyes harbouring a bitter-sweet feeling.

  “Then why don’t you teach like the rest of them?”

  “It’s complicated.”

  “Like I am a legendary Medium complicated or what?”

  Henry had to laugh at her comment, and she smiled at him, her spirits lifted.

  “You are not a medium anymore, Valentine. You resisted Aurelia. You are now a mind of your own, a Power of your own. There is no record of that whatsoever. Trust me, I’ve read our History, more than once.”

  “Is it because of your Negating that you don’t like Aurelia? Or is it something personal?”

  Henry just remained silent, looking at his palms.

  Val’s thoughts were on her friends. At the Academy. With her Power, she could protect them, but most of all she could protect herself. She would be free from the Greens, once and for all. She stood up slowly, under the eyes of the man who’d rescued her.

  “Henry, thanks, for everything. I am sorry you got beaten up for my sake. I am glad I wasn’t the one doing the beating.”

  “It’s alright, Valentine. I am tougher than I look, seriously. I know how to fight.”

  Val looked at him, his lean body, trying not to stare too much.

  “I believe you”, she said with a little smile. “That’s why I think it would be a good idea for Vanessa to consider you as an Instructor. I would hate it if it was the last time I saw you.”

  Henry’s face darkened inexplicably.

  “Valentine, I don’t think you understand the situation.”

  “What situation exactly? I have an awesome new Power, my friends are waiting for me and my revenge is long overdue.”

  “You can’t go back to your friends, Valentine. Not yet. Yes, you have an awesome new Power. But can you fight the whole Aldus Green army on your own? I don’t think so. The guy owns the damn Ribbons. Can you guarantee the safety of all your friends? You certainly can’t. And as I understand it, your best friend is in a hospital. Am I right?”

  Val nodded, slowly, his words starting weighing heavy on her.

  “Did you hurt your friend because of your strength?”

  “What? Of course not. I couldn’t even control the Power then. It was an ambush.”

  “So I thought. And you want to go against this people, alone? With a gift you just obtained. You have no idea of the limits and the possibilities. You are going to risk everyone, your friends, teammates, Vanessa and the teachers. Everyone.”

  “Even you?”

  Val tried to hurt him with her words, like he had with his. Henry just smiled.

  “I haven’t cared about myself for a long time, kid. So no, you can leave me out. But the others, you have to think about them.”

  Valentine looked at the floor, ashamed. Henry approached her and lightly caressed her shoulders, giving her a little bit of strength.

  “So what do we do now?”

  “I have a plan. You are not going to like it. But it is the only way. The only way to get even.”

  ***

  Vanessa came early the next day. Henry was sleepless and far too tired, but everything depended on his performance. Because his plan had to work.

  The car tires screeched as the car stopped on his driveway. But it wasn’t Vanessa mini-car as expected, but a black luxurious Council-custom vehicle. Tom Rosenberg.

  God, she just had to bring that asshole here, didn’t she?

  Henry felt his rage growing, and that was good. It helped him for the task at hand. They both got out of the car, clearly sleepless but trying to look as in-control as possible.

  Rosenberg looked even better in casual attire, only in a pull-over, jeans and sport shoes.

  If only I had this much composure, thought Henry.

  He opened the door before they even had a chance to knock. That caught them out of guard, Vanessa looking scared, Rosenberg losing his cool for a moment. Henry was glad.

  “Henry, what’s wrong?”

  “You dare asking me, what’s wrong? You bring a BOMB inside my house and you ask me what’s wrong.”

  Rosenberg took a step front, to help Vanessa, barely keeping his hands in place.

  “Henry, there was no other way. It was not Vanessa’s fault. The Instructors and I, we both had this idea of bringing the girl to your place. Green was furious…”

  Don’t you dare talk, you motherfucker.

  “Green sent his thugs to kill her. To kill us. Yes, they followed you, Vanessa, so much for undercover and perfect safety.”

  His friend turned white as paper, and Rosenberg put her arms around her.

  “They assaulted me in my own house. They put us into their jeeps, they took us out to the desert to drop us in the caverns.”

  “Henry, I am sure everything is alright now though, isn’t it? You are standing in front of us right now. So the thugs were gone in the end and you came out alive of this mess somehow, I take it?”

  Vain hope in the Tom’s voice.

  Henry lowered his head.

  “It would be better if I hadn’t. It would be better if they had thrown us in a hole. At least we would have a chance of survival. The girl would have a chance of survival. But you know very well who dwells in the caves. And you pretty damn knew that she was a telekinetic, a powerful one. AND YOU DIDN’T SAY A THING.”

  Henry was at the peak of his performance, addressing Vanessa now, clearly. She was crying, realizing what had happened.

  “Aurelia called to the girl. And she answered. She broke the device in half, Vanessa. And for a second there, it seemed like she would make it. She beat the thugs to a pulp. But once they were gone, she…” Henry kneeled on the ground, doubled up and started crying. “She exploded. Another non-compatible specimen. Do you understand? She died before my eyes, and there was nothing I could do for the poor girl.”

  Tears were coming, real tears now, for Valentine and for the memory of his dear wife.

  Vanessa was at a total loss.

  “I am sorry” she whispered and run to the safety of the car.

  Rosenberg tried to comfort Henry. He didn’t look smug now, only confused and hurt.

  Who would have thought, you have real feelings sometimes, Council.

  Henry rose his head.

  “When you see your friend, tell him that I hope he is happy. Happy that he killed a kid. And I hope you and the other Counsellors are happy of the integrity of your members.”

  Rosenberg stopped midway. He realized it was time to go.

  Henry stayed there, kneeling on the ground for a long time, even after their car was gone. Until he felt a warm hand on his shoulder, touching him gently.

  “They are gone, Henry.”

  He saw Valentine standing above him, smiling.

  “I think you can c
ome inside now.”

  She was actually really sweet, after a good night’s sleep. She kneeled and timidly put her arm around his shoulders.

  “I know you feel sorry about Vanessa. You are friends right? Or at least you used to be.”

  “We were best friends, yeah.”

  “We’ve all been harsh to our friends at some point, Henry. It’s obvious you have problems, and I don’t want to interfere, but it’s all for the best. When I’m ready, we’ll go back. And then we can both be better to our loved ones, right?”

  You are too good for me, kid. I don’t deserve your kindness.

  “By the way, you are an amazing actor.”

  “Well thank you.”

  “It scared me a little bit to be honest. I hope you don’t try to deceive me, too.”

  “Don’t worry, Valentine. I will not do you any harm.”

  “I have no choice but to believe you, Henry. So, what now?”

  Henry pierced the girl with his black eyes.

  “Now… we train”.

  ***

  12. The Second Chance

  Canton Eastern Outskirts- 09:00, 25th September, 200 A.D

  The field was in bloom… A beautiful breeze was swiping through the barley and the flowers gave a beautiful smell on the cool air of the afternoon. The sun was still in the sky, but was soon to set, creating a mixture of pink, orange and purple colours.

  John was sitting on a green bench, smiling, happy beyond words. The young woman in front of him was walking through the barley, touching it with her fingertips, laughing. Then she came towards him, kneeled and when their heads were almost touching, he asked him.

  “You don’t really believe I am dead, do you John? Not you.”

  He shook his head, unable to speak. Valentine pushed her flowing hair behind her ear. Her blue eyes were glowing in the sun.

  “You know I am stronger than this, right? I hope the others are not worried. Because I am fine. I just have to stay away for a while. I have to be … stronger somehow. Do you understand?”

  He nodded again. Then Valentine came even closer and she hugged him. “But I miss you all so much. I will try to be with you again as soon as possible.” And then, her face was centimetres away from his, and he knew it was wrong, but he wanted to kiss her again so badly. So he leaned closer ignoring his fear and his guilt…

  John woke up as his lips were about to touch hers. He felt sadness, but also relief. He didn’t want to go down that path again, not even in his dream.

  He got out of his bed, heading straight for the bathroom, where he splashed a lot of cold water in his face. It made his mind clear up a bit. Then he made his way back to his bed where he laid down, thinking about his dream. Or, better said, his vision.

  John was entirely convinced that his brain had managed to establish a connection with Val’s. She was alive and well, against all odds. Despite Rehberg’s announcement stating that Valentine Stone had died in a terrible accident.

  John would never forget Vanessa, as she stood on the Conference Room’s Podium, less than a month ago. She looked beaten up, broken, nothing reminiscing of her strong, determined character upon the first night. There was a bleak atmosphere all around the teammates, and every single soul could feel, that something was wrong.

  “As many of you already know by now, there has been a terrible accident, involving your last exam. A conflict between three candidates who left them terribly wounded. Therefore, the Council asked for the temporary closing of the Academy, until the re-evaluation of some parameters. You are, until then, free to return to your homes. Because of your Powers, you will be under strict supervision. We would kindly ask you, to keep your gift a secret. You will return at the Academy, as soon as the problems will be resolved.”

  There had been mixed feelings all around the Academy, happiness, sadness and fear combined. But most of all, John had unanswered questions, a lot of them. Along with Seb and Mike, they entered the Instructors office, announced. And that’s where they found, the thing they’ve dreaded the most.

  “How is that even possible?”

  Mike was shouting, hitting her office with his fists, as Seb, white as a sheet from shock, tried to get a hold of him.

  “Valentine’s death was the result of a miscalculation” Vanessa whispered.

  “Miscalculation? We’re talking about a person’s life. Amy Wyatt is at the hospital fighting for her own life. Now you are telling us Val is dead. The Academy is scattered and Alice Green is alive and kicking. Aren’t you going to do something about that? What kind of people are you?”

  Vanessa’s tears were John’s cue. He caught Mike’s arm and leaned close to his ear.

  “Let’s go home, Mike.”

  The pissed-off giant immediately calmed down, and the three of them exited the office. There was nothing to discuss anymore.

  They returned to their homes as planned, but nothing was the same anymore. The three of them had been best friends for the past four years, but the two girls had added a new flare to their trio. And now, with a comatose Amy and a dead Valentine, something was clearly amiss.

  And then, a little less than ten days ago, John started dreaming. Or rather visioning. Valentine in a beautiful dress, smiling, full of life, telling him that she was alive and well, and was about to return soon. He’d woken up so exited after this revelation, sending a message to Seb and Mike before even started thinking about the implications.

  John described his dream with all the beautiful little details, (minus the kiss, that part was none of their business), in front of the surprised faces of his best friends.

  “I know what I saw is real, guys. I know Valentine was real. I never really bought this weird story about her death, accident my ass. Valentine was perfectly healthy after Alice’s attack…

  “Then why would Vanessa lie to us, John? She had no gain…”

  “Maybe Aldus Green forced the Instructors to lock up Valentine somewhere… A local jail perhaps, or even the Underground. Had Vanessa told us the truth, we’d have gone out there to break Valentine free, and that’s a scandal the Council doesn’t want…”

  “She seemed pretty sincere to me, dude. She was crying, and had obviously been crying for the past few days.”

  Mike was looking his palms, not willing to face John.

  “Mike, why the fucking hell are you so negative?”

  “Because you are too much of a pussy to accept the truth John!”

  Mike stood up, his enormous body mass towering over him.

  “Valentine is dead. Dead. Gone. If she was still alive, don’t you think she would have tried at least to come in contact with us, somehow?”

  “Maybe she is trapped…”

  “Even so, if Vanessa knew that she was still alive, don’t you think she would have send us an anonymous letter or something? Even under threat, she wouldn’t have stopped. We have nothing to prove…”

  “I SAW HER. WHY ARE YOU ACTING LIKE A DAMN IDIOT?”

  The two boys raised their fists, and Seb run between them, terrified. Mike looked at John with utter disgust.

  “You know you still have another friend, don’t you? One that is still in a coma, laying in a hospital bed. When was the last time you went to see Amy?”

  Mike’s words were like a blow to John’s face. He two a few steps back, hurt.

  “That has nothing to do with…”

  “Seb and I, we visit her at the hospital every day. We take turns, looking after her. You just stay here, and do what, dreaming? Hoping that a lost friend still exists? The only one who is acting like a damn idiot is you.”

  With that last sentence, his two friends were gone. John had spoken with neither of them ever since. He felt hurt and betrayed, even though he knew he’d acted like a jerk. Even though he knew Mike had a point in his words. And John missed them. He was alone in this enormous mansion, his parents gone on a second honeymoon vacation.

  You could always go and see Amy, you fucki
ng asshole.

  But his guilt wouldn’t let him. He was a seer, a telepath, and still was unable to predict Alice’s appearance or the outcome of their final exam.

  I send Amy to that hospital bed. I send Val to whatever hell she is going through. I am not even capable of keeping my best friends close.

  John’s phone rung. It took him a few seconds to realize what was going on. The last time a person had called was more than a week ago. He picked it up, an ominous feeling in his chest.

  “What’s up?”

  “John, it’s me. We need to talk.”

  ***

  “Mike, are you going to the hospital again tonight?”

  “I may spend a couple of hours there, yes”

  “And who is going to look after us?”

  Missy looked at her brother with big puppy eyes. Mike felt the incoming attack seconds before it took place.

  “Oh, I have an idea. Why don’t we sleep at John’s house? It’s been so long since we’ve seen him.”

  Denver said, giving sideway glances at Missy.

  Mike sighted.

  “We’ll see about that.”

  He was on his way home, his siblings walking right in front of him, chirping happily like little birds, without a care in the world. He had missed the little troublemakers so much, and he needed some happy innocence in his life after that particular unfortunate incident.

  Val was gone, Amy was in a coma and John was a big time idiot. Mike still hadn’t find the courage to tell his siblings about his fight with John. They both loved him so much, and he was indeed, wonderful with children. But Mike refused to be a fluffy-headed idiot like him.

  Missy’s hand was suddenly on his own, her grasp unexpectedly strong.

  “You have fought with John, haven’t you?”

  Mike nodded, the knot in his throat threaten to overwhelm him.

  “Is it because of the hospital girl? The singer Amy?”

  He chuckled.

  “It’s complicated, honeybee.”

  “Is that why you cry every night, Mike? Because she won’t wake up?”

  I cry because I can’t save anyone, baby. What’s the point of having a Power, being a supposed Hero after seventy whole years, if I can’t do a damn thing?

  “You weren’t supposed to see that, Missy.”

  “But I did. Denver did too.”

  His brother had turned his little head at them, looking straight at Mike’s eyes.

  “Missy, I…”

  “He cries because he missed me. So, I came to change that.”

  An all-too familiar voice was heard, not far from where they stood.

 
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