We Failed You...
“What does she mean she’ll hold them off?! What happened to getting her to safety?” Nona was livid when Rico’s transmission came through. She squeezed her fist shut crushing one of CLU’s creatures in her gravity field, watching it disintegrate even as she argued with Rico over the comm. “No! Tell her that is NOT the plan.”
Rico relayed messages back and forth between the two women before there was a lull in communication and Jordan’s cracked voice came on instead. It seemed Rico had gotten tired of being pulled between his two leaders, preferring instead that they yell at each other.
“Nona, I can do this.” Jordan’s voice was battered but she sounded more like herself than she had in days. “Draw whatever creatures are left to the old parking garage in the business district. I’ll keep him busy until I get the signal from you.”
“Jay, I don’t know… There’s gotta be another way…”
“Trust me.” Then the comm had gone dead.
Nona cursed, punching a hole in another creature before plotting the best path towards their destination. Besides her Taylor was using her agility to dodge half a dozen foes, causing the creatures to collide with one another and explode on impact. When the last one fell to the sharp edge of her claws, she ran up to Nona, fear plain in her eyes.
“Is she really gonna do this? We have to stop her!” Taylor grabbed Nona’s arm pleading with her to intervene before Jordan executed her plan.
Nona placed her hand over Taylor’s trying to reassure the younger girl even as she herself was unsure. Though she had just spent the last few hours dispatching glittering menaces, Taylor now looked like the terrified 16 year old she was.
“You said it yourself, we gotta trust her.” She pulled the kid in for a hug, probably the first the two had ever shared. “She wants you to know that she loves you and she’s sorry she pulled you into this life. And even if something happens to her, you’ll never be alone.”
Jordan hadn’t said any of those things, at least not that day. However, when it came to the topic of her sudden demise, Jordan had realized she had ample opportunity for something to go wrong. Whether it be trapped in a burning building or facing a villain with some kind of terrifying power, her odds of an early death were higher than most. She had related to Nona all the things she would want her foster daughter to know if she lost the opportunity to say them. It seemed to Nona that there would be no better time for Taylor to hear “mother’s” words than right now. The teenager clung to her like apiece of plywood in a stormy sea before pulling back abruptly, wiping her eyes. She stared at Nona, blue eyes still shining with moisture.
“Thanks,” she sniffed then added with a small laugh. “This never happened.”
“What never happened?” Nona replied with a small smile. Their touching moment was interrupted by a low growl from above them. Hanging from the ledge of the building was a cat-like creature with razor claws. Nona shoved Taylor out of the way as it lunged. “Move!”
Before she could react further, two bullets whizzed by her head into the creature sending harmless nanite bits everywhere! The two girls spun to find Legend and Vasquez standing behind them weapons drawn. Nona breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thanks. I assume you’ve heard the plan?” She asked the two as they approached. Legend nodded curtly, still clutching his side and smelling mysteriously like old takeout. “You stink…”
“Not in the mood woman.” He shot Nona an annoyed look as he continued looking for anymore sneaky creatures waiting to attack, weapon still drawn. Satisfied with his search he returned to the small group. “The garage is three blocks from here, we need to get as many people away from there as possible.”
“Vasquez can you get your people to help us with that? We need as much clearance around that garage as we can get.” The detective nodded, barked some orders into the walkie-talkie she carried and began to head off in the direction of the evacuation. Looking over her shoulder she yelled back at them.
“Be careful! I was just starting to like you guys!” Then she was around the corner and out of sight. Nona smirked at the backhanded compliment but Legend was grinning broadly. She couldn’t help the twinge of jealousy she felt watching Legend blush over the attentions of another woman. With a frown, she started heading toward the garage with the other two close behind.
“We need to make sure they follow us, so let’s make a scene.” She ran out into the crowded street, marched right up to the first creature she saw and kicked its hind leg! The snarling beast turned to face her slowly, clearly confused by her ineffective attack strategy. Legend and Taylor were right behind her wondering if there hadn’t been a simpler, safer way to get their quarries attention. In just a few moments nearly a dozen creatures surrounded them.
Legend grabbed both women’s hands and suddenly they were several hundred feet away leaving the creatures and the women confused. Nona didn’t waste time on an explanation assuming Legend had stopped time long enough for them to get a safe distance from the creatures.
“Taylor, you go high! We’re going higher.” In the distance she could see a figure aloft on feathery wings approaching them at breakneck speeds. Taylor scrambled up a series of fire escapes hanging from the nearest building and began deftly leaping off rooftops towards their destination. Nona turned to Legend. “You ready?”
The both planted their feet; one arm extended and were swept up by Mayan just seconds before the creatures bore down on them! Nona glanced up to see Rico’s hand firmly wrapped around her forearm, his gaze intent as he pushed himself past his limits to get the three of them to their destination on time. Behind them she could hear the roar of the enraged beasts following almost too closely for comfort.
“Where’s Jordan?!” She yelled over the rushing air. Rico looked worried.
“Already there! We need to hurry!” Nona shared an equally worried look with Legend whose face held a permanent grimace as they were soaring through the city suspended painfully from one arm. He should have been down below getting treatment and yet here he was fighting for her family. She just hoped it wasn’t for nothing.
“GIVE UP! You can’t win! Your friends have abandoned you.”
CLU was determined to break Jordan in every way possible. She had almost single-handedly ruined his plans. How she had managed to survive the past week only to come back and thwart him was beyond his comprehension. When he beat her once and for all, she would tell him how she overcame his nanites and then he would kill her. That was his first mistake, not neutralizing the threat in the beginning. A mistake he was determined to rectify.
She had drawn him to this abandoned garage, no doubt in an attempt to minimize the loss of innocent life. They both knew she couldn’t stop him on her own. She was stalling, hoping her friends would figure a way out of this before he beat her to death. That wasn’t going to happen. CLU amped up his attacks, throwing barbed nanite spears at her in a frontal assault and trying to tie her down with tendrils of the tiny creatures snatching at her from behind. Jordan had so far been able to deter his attacks with a constant sphere of flame surrounding her whole body. At this point she was purely on the defense, waiting for the signal so she could pull back. She dropped her guard for a mere second and one the tendrils punched through, narrowly missing her!
“Nona!” She yelled desperately into her comm. Where was her sister?
“She can’t save you!” CLU taunted her again, even as her sphere continued to weaken. Her confidence was shaken if only for a moment.
“We’re here! Hold on!”
Nona was two levels below Jordan leading a trio of horrendous beasts as deep into the garage as she could get them. When she had them turned around enough she jumped off the edge of the structure to the street below, ready to do her part to bring the structure down.
“Find some way to pin him down and get out of there!” She instructed her sister even as she braced herself between two pillars ready to do her best Samson impression.
Rico was similarly positioned, Nona having weakened all the pillars around the base of the structure to make them easier to knock down. Quickstrike stood in the middle of the foundation, katana’s drawn, ready to hack away at any creatures attempting to escape as well as the supports. Legend was leading the last of the creatures into the structure, ready to abandon at the last second. Taylor had spotted some civilians missed in the evacuation and had gone to lead them away reluctantly. She had also been instructed to find Kurt, as Nona was sure they would need him.
Above them Jordan searched frantically for a way to immobilize CLU. Glancing down it struck her. Of course! The lot was made of old tar and blacktop, the kind the city stopped using because it was susceptible to heat. Mustering all her strength she unleashed a flurry of counterattacks steadily blasting away chunks of CLU’s armor. As he began to weaken she let CLU get closer to her than ever before and dropped her sphere whipping the fire into a storm of heat and flame! The maelstrom quickly began sucking in all the loose gravel until it was a glowing mass of boiling liquid. Jordan directed the destructive force at CLU’s feet, satisfied at the roar of rage and pain that escaped once he realized he was sealed to the surface beneath him.
“DO IT!” She yelled right before one of CLU’s tendrils punched through her left shoulder!
Jordan couldn’t help the tortured cry that escaped her lips as the tendril lifted her several feet off the ground, her body weight tearing at the wound. She could hear the structure rumble as Nona and the others began tearing it down, then the floor nearly fell out from beneath them. She raised her hand to try and free herself but only succeeded in slicing her palm open! The structure lurched again and the last thing she saw was CLU grinning sadistically at her as they fell into darkness.
She thought she could hear her sister’s voice trying to punch through the darkness but had nothing left to answer the plea. Her heart was slowing, she could feel it, sticky fluid pooling beneath her. Her life draining out an ounce at a time. She gave one last exhalation as light washed over her.
Tearing a crumpled wall apart, Nona was horrified by the sight behind it. Jordan lay buried in rubble, covered in dust and blood with no discernible signs of life! She rushed forward, clearing the rubble away from her sister’s body as quickly as her panicked hands could manage. She snatched off her sweatshirt, tearing it into strips she then wrapped around her sisters wounded hand and shoulder. There was a moan to her left and Nona nearly jumped ten feet when she saw where the sound originated! CLU stared at her, a bloody mess like Jordan, nearly crushed by a mountain of debris. His lips curled into a cruel smile.
“It seems as if I’ve won after all…” He coughed as his gaze fell upon Jordan’s prone form. Nona could feel the anger boiling inside her and she knew she couldn’t let him leave this cavern. “You know I’ll never stop coming for you… for her…”
She placed her hand on the mass surrounding CLU, concentrating on making the load ever heavier. CLU’s strangled cries echoed through the space but she didn’t stop. She was going to finish her sister’s mission. Once he uttered his last sound, muffled by the weight, she turned away from the mess and ran back to her sister. Drawing her sister up, circling her own arms around the older girls chest, Nona had drug Jordan out into the open by the time the others had arrived. Rico quickly grabbed Jordan’s legs and they hurriedly moved her a safe distance from the rubble before laying her down gently.
Kurt ran up from a nearby police cruiser, Nona realizing quickly that it was Vasquez behind the wheel. Taylor jumped out the back of the vehicle but came no closer, her face a mask of devastation. As he reached them, Kurt knelt down beside Jordan, heartbreak plainly written across his face. He checked her over then laid his head on her chest listening for a heartbeat. Without a moments hesitation he began CPR, hands pressing deep into her sternum trying to force her heart to beat. The minutes stretched into what felt like hours with only the sound of Kurt’s counting and sirens wailing in the background. Finally, Kurt pushed back on his heels. He lingered too long and Nona knew what the answer was. Head hung in defeat, he pressed a kiss to Jordan’s forehead and uttered the words they had all been dreading.
“We failed you love… I’m so sorry…”