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Chapter 13

Chapter 13: Elena

Get close to him. That’s the mission. Use him to get the information I need. That’s the mission. It was all so simple.

Ethan was no different than any other subject I’ve dealt with before. I’ve even done the damsel in distress card before, with real danger. I guess the difference is that I actually almost died this time.

I stare at the flames of the fire that Ethan made, still shivering due to my clothes being soaked. The dance of the blaze allows my mind to space out.

Things have become more complicated with only a couple of simple details. It’s strange to think that the galaxy is so small as to allow Ethan to have known my brother. That fact leaves me unable to treat him as just another asset.

If Jake knew him and talked about him - In a very positive manner I might add - then I have to trust it.

Jake was the only family I cared to have. The only person I had period. I trusted him more than even myself.

That begs the question, what am I supposed to do? The agency is expecting results. They’ve been looking to tear down the walls of this station for nearly a decade. If I mess this up…I can’t even think as to what they’d do.

My eyes snap to Ethan as I hear the crackle of branches breaking beneath his boots. He sits across from me, rubbing his hands together as he places them near the fire.

“There’s a heat blanket in the emergency kit if you’d like to use it,” He says as he stares into the fire.

“I’m…I’m okay. Thank you though,” I respond timidly.

He sighs and stands, walking over to a place that I don’t bother to find out. I hear a faint rustling and then the sudden feeling of something wrapping around me. I look to my shoulder and notice the heat blanket draping off of me. Ethan returns to his original position on the other side of the fire. I stare at the blanket for a moment before gripping each side and pulling it fully around my body, feeling the warmth start to radiate through me.

“Thank you…” I say quietly.

Ethan shrugs as a response. We both sit in silence for a while, understanding the gravity of the situation. We’re stranded on a planet with no food, water, or proper equipment. We don’t even have the luxury of dry clothing and from what I’ve experienced thus far as the sun sets, the night is going to be cold. We most likely won’t last long out here, a week max.

That’s not even taking into account the other creatures that are roaming this world.

“I miss him…” I say, speaking my thoughts out loud.

“Jake?” Ethan asks.

I tuck my knees into my chest, wrapping them with my arms “Yes,” “Me too,” Ethan says, leaning back on his hands.

“What was it like for him? In the end,” I ask, my eyes welled with tears.

Ethan sighs heavily “Jake died the only way Jake possibly could have: protecting those who couldn’t protect themselves. It was…sudden…quick. He didn’t suffer,” Ethan explains, his expression now turned to one of sorrow.

“We would have spoken today. You know…if everything didn’t happen. He always called me at the same time on the same day of the week,”

“If you were his sister, why didn’t he ever mention you?” Ethan says with an inquisitive stare.

“You should have known him long enough to know how private of a person he was,”

“He was always rather specific with what he opened up about…why is that?”

“I would go out on a limb and say that it’s because of our parents…where we come from,”

“Could you…help me understand, Elena?”

I think hard on Ethan’s question. At some point, there’s a point of no return with how many pieces of myself I give away. If I give too many, then my judgement no longer becomes sound. Meaning Ethan no longer becomes a mark and becomes something…more.

I mirror Ethan’s previous sigh as I come to a decision.

“On the surface…everything seems perfect on Elysium. In reality, it’s a sick playground for the powerful. It’s a lifestyle that you become indoctrinated into from the day you’re born. And God help the person who decides to buck against the norm. Growing up, Jake and I were very similar and because of that…we were very close. Both of us decided young that we wanted no part of the perversions that Elysium offered to us,”

“What kind of perversions?”

“Anything you can think of. People’s deepest, darkest fetishes. Their addictions and violent desires. All being provided to them by curators who enslave the helpless,”

“What kind of people participate in those things?”

“Anyone who has money and power. Politicians, religious leaders, business owners, crime bosses, you name it. Elysium is a place built on the lie of paradise for all. Jake made his feelings known about that subject. Rather than support him, my parents sent him away to a private institution. It was expected of me to act like he just…never existed in the first place,”

“So, what did you do, then?”

“I learned very quickly that an outspoken child was too much of a disappointment to keep around. So, I kept silent. Did what my parents told me to do,”

“Did they ever try to make you…partake in these things?”

“Of course they did. I always managed to find a way to slip out of it, though. Until…” I clench my jaw as the memory floods back to the forefront of my mind. A memory I had kept locked away for so long.

“Until what, Elena,” Ethan questions.

This is it. The point of no return.

Screw it.

“Until…one night,” I bite my lip before continuing “They had a couple of our house servants come to get me. Told me to stay in my night gown and come downstairs. Naturally, I did what I was told. I came downstairs and once I got to the family room…” My eyes well with tears once again “I saw my mother and father on the floor. My mother was in a see-through night gown. My father was…was stripped to his briefs,” I nervously bite my lip more “The servants led me over to them. They both stood up to greet me…”

“Jesus…” Ethan says, already connecting the dots.

“My father put a hand on my shoulder. He said I was beautiful and slipped off one of my night gown straps…” A tear finally streams down my cheek. “He went to kiss me…I flinched. He got so angry…I can still feel how hard he grabbed my arm. He tried to force himself on me after that. I…managed to slip away from his grip and ran. I ran out the door and just kept going. I don’t remember how long I was running for, just that I ended up in front of UEDF recruiting station. I told them that I’d do any job they wanted so long as they got me on a ship that same night. And…well…here I am,” I finish, giving a fake smile, tears still running down my cheeks.

Ethan stares at me for a moment, his expression looks troubled. After a moment, he stands without saying a word and traverses around the fire, sitting next to me. He wraps an arm around me and holds me close. I can’t help but to lay my head against him as a feeling of comfort overtakes me.

I briefly remain tense, not quite used to the feeling. I close my eyes, letting my body relax as I sink deeper into the feeling Ethan gives me.

“So, how did you end up contacting Jake again?” He asks, sparing any words of pity he has for me.

“Right. I guess eventually, Jake decided to look me up. He found out I was in the military the same as him. He found my contact info and sent me a message. It took a while to reconnect, but soon enough it was as if we were never separated. He never told me what happened with him while he was away…but I knew it was pretty terrible from the way his face changed when he spoke about it,”

Ethan remains quiet for a while, likely still taking in all the information.

“I’m sorry for making you talk about it. It’s already bad enough out here. I can’t imagine emotional turmoil is a good thing to tack on,” He says suddenly.

“No, it…It’s okay. Really. I kind of felt good to get out. I’ve been holding on to it for a long time,” I respond, dismissing his apology.

“I appreciate you letting me be the one to listen,”

I choose not to respond to him. I focus on the fact that he’s holding me and how good it feels when he does. I don’t think I’ve allowed myself to be this open and vulnerable with anyone. It freaks me out a little to be honest.

Ethan can be so abrasive. He’s so walled up and trapped in his own bitterness yet…he still manages to pull off moments like these. Where forgets about himself entirely in order to focus on someone else feeling better. I feel like I still barely know anything about him. But at the same time, I feel so comfortable being around him.

Somewhere inside of me I know that for all the anger that he has, he would never turn it towards me. And he definitely wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.

I look towards Ethan’s face as I ponder all the questions I still have about him. He catches wind of me staring and turns his head to look at me. I feel my face flush as we stare into each other’s eyes. He brings a hand to my face, running a thumb across my cheek. I feel a static between our lips as they grow closer. I close my eyes as our lips meet, sending a wave of electricity through me.

The kiss ends just as quickly as it starts however, as a bright flood light shines down on us from the sky.

Ethan and I both stand from our positions and look towards it. My eyes look forward as I hear the crackling of branches once again.

Out of the shadows steps Dante, grinning wide.

“I knew you guys were alive!” He exclaims.

“Dante? How the hell did you find us?” Ethan asks, surprised.

“Long story. But the important thing is that I did. Now let’s get out of here. This planet sucks,” Dante says.

He looks up to the sky and uses a pointer finger to sign to the ship to land. A moment later it flies to a clearer area in order to set down.

Ethan and I follow Dante through the woods until it opens to a large clearing, seemingly close by to our original position. We follow behind Dante as he opens the now landed shuttle’s door and motions for us to enter.

Dante steps in after the both of us, taking a seat opposite Ethan and I.

“I’m going to need a favor from the both of you,” Dante says as the ship lifts off the ground.

“What kind of favor?” Ethan asks.

“I need you guys to keep what happened here fresh in your mind,”

I look at Dante, confused. “What for?” I question further.

“Well…I found a way to make things a little better for us on that god forsaken station. But it requires making you-know-who go away,”

“How do you plan to do that?” Ethan says, continuing the line of questions.

Dante gives a smirk “In a very legal fashion. You guys are part of the evidence. Which means I need your memory of everything that happened here ready to go as soon as it’s needed,”

This is exactly what I need. If Anderson gets taken down, I won’t need Ethan anymore. The agency wanted Cain too, but I think they’ll settle.

“I’m in,” I agree.

Ethan raises an eyebrow at me, surprised at how quickly I gave my cooperation.

He looks back towards Dante “Well, I guess that means I’m in too,” He says, following along.

Dante’s smirk turns into a smile “Outstanding,”

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