That moment when one’s heartbeat reverberated in her ears, and the patter of one’s pulse thudded hard in their throat, and where one’s breaths were short and dissatisfying was the very moment Elle found herself in as she walked behind Zave. Trying to stay grounded and calm, she tightly clung to Milo’s hand, who walked by her side. She was beyond nervous to meet her mother.
She wondered if Mara would forgive her for nearly killing her? Would Mara be mad that Elle believed an imposter was her mother? Would she and Mara have an instant connection or would time be needed to form a bond?
All the questions swirling in her head were only anxious-making in her soul rather than peace-making. Normally, in the dead of night, her night vision would make everything bright and visible, but her nervousness impaired her enhanced eyesight. She concluded they were in a suburban neighborhood. Every house painted gray, every house with a white picket fence, and every house with the same face layout: A white door, two windows downstairs, and three windows upstairs. Each house lacked character and originality.
They were definitely in the heart of the Democratic Coalition of America. Individuality was thought to be the enemy of humanity, leading to division and disunity. Everyone was divided into classes based on what they contributed to the society, and given the same house, the same car, the same type of apparel as everyone according to their class. The only ones still allowed to keep their uniqueness were the elites, which weren’t necessarily the wealthy – unless their money was directly correlated with operating the nation.
Mara was recovering at Zave’s house. He lived in the government operative sector. Zave Wace was an analyst for the Headquarters of Reconnaissance and Intelligence, aka HORAI (pronounced OR-EE), where his brother Hugh Wace was the Director. Though Theus was periodically spotted around the world, interfering in DCA, RA, and Spectrum affairs, all the scientists at HORAI couldn’t prove Theus was still active, and because Hugh requested Zave be kept out of prison, Theus couldn’t be completely prevented from entering the playing field of espionage world. Hugh’s argument was Theus was a wholly different personality than Zave, therefore, how could Zave be charged for the crimes Theus committed?
Zave held open the front door, standing in the foyer. Elle paused on the floor mat on the porch. Milo let go of Elle’s hand and said, “It’s okay, Elle.”
She knew it was okay, but her psyche tried to convince her otherwise. For some reason, she just wanted to be back at Spectrum Headquarters, in her princess pink room, curled up into a ball on her regal canopy bed. That was the only place she never felt afraid.
Now that Spectrum didn’t have her, if they couldn’t recover her and reclaim her, they were going to kill her. If the DCA caught wind she was on their soil, they would be swooping in to collect her. Pretty much any government aware of the Prometheus Projects would want to kill Elle and dissect her to figure out how to make their own version.
Elle stepped inside and her footsteps made the wooden floors creak. Milo stayed close behind her. The lights suddenly turned on as Zave closed the door. The house had a colonial type feel, which wasn’t surprising given they were in the former neighboring state of the former District of Columbia… colonial housing was typical.
Everything was well organized, as well. By the door, there was a coat rack hanging on the wall. A wind breaker, a raincoat, a sweater jacket, heaving coat, and a trench coat hung in their place on that coat rack. All the outer wear gear were variant shades of gray. Beneath the outdoor attire was a shoe rack, with appropriate shoes for any weather possibilities that could occur in the winter: whether that day be a rainy, or a snowy, or a cold kind of day.
A small table stood by the banister of the stairs. A vase of marbles sat in the middle of the cherry wood table with two drawers.
The atmosphere felt clean and pristine. Zave definitely worked for the government.
Elle turned her gaze towards the living room, and peering through the archway she saw the same target from her red-test asleep on the couch. The lower half of Mara’s body was covered in a dark blue ahfgan and an old book cracked open across her chest. Zave didn’t tell her he was coming back with Elle and Milo. He wanted it to be a surprise.
The second Elle took a brave step toward the living room, Mara woke up startled, raising her fists prepared to start swinging at her attacker.
“Zave?” She questioned.
“Hey, honey,” he said to her.
Mara stood up, not really caring enough to close the book she was reading properly, or to fold her blanket. She let both flop off of her onto the ground. She stepped over the tangled blanket and approached the three in the foyer, meeting them first.
With tears swelled in her eyes, she asked Zave, “Is this her?”
Zave nodded his head, “Yes.” He said.
Not even hesitating, Mara rushed to embrace Elle and hold her close. Elle’s ear was pressed against Mara’s chest and the woman’s heartbeat triggered instant peace for Elle. She remembered that heart rhythm from the womb.
“Arielle, I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me?”
Elle backed out of Mara’s hug, and asked, “Forgive you for what?”
“I should have never left you in France. I should have kept you with me. I should have raised you.”
The teen spy shrugged her shoulders. Even in another life, where Mara kept Elle, she probably still would have been trained to know how to fight off those chasing Elle and Mara as they spent their lives on the run… Maybe it would have been nice to grow up with her birth mother, but then Milo wouldn’t have existed, and Elle didn’t know what she would do without Milo.
“Sure, I forgive you.”
Mara swooped the girl into another hug and said, “I’m not leaving you again.”
“I really hate to break up the little reunion, but all of you need to shower and pack.” Zave said.
“Why?” I asked.
“We can’t stay in the DCA. I’m an agent for the MIB,” Mara said. The MIB was the RA CIA-knock-off: the Main Intelligence Branch. Mara continued, “If I stay here any longer the DCA will request to have me brought in, and Spectrum will be looking for you. You and Milo need to come with me.”
“Zave too, right? We’re all sticking together, aren’t we?” Elle wondered.
“I have to stay here. If I leave, Hugh will consider me rogue and serve a burn notice on me. Then that would be two threats chasing us, with me staying here, you’ll only have to stay clear of Spectrum.”
Elle wrapped Zave into a snug hug, “Thank you.”
Zave patted her back awkwardly. He wasn’t vibing with the hug. Elle released him feeling a little embarrassed.
“Where are we going?” Elle asked.
“To visit Uncle Ben,” Milo smiled. Maybe Milo was putting up an act at Spectrum to make them think that he felt nothing. Ever since they left the mountain, he had been an array of normal emotions. Weird.
“Really?” Elle wondered, super confused why the five-year-old superhuman knew more than her.
*Edited by Kristen Wenneborg