From the Story Arc: Grim's Gamble

Previous Story in the Arc: Just Rewards by Victoria Victrix (Monday, November 13, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Shadowfall by John Murdock (Thursday, November 16, 2006)

(posted Thursday, November 16, 2006)

Aeden Murdock had never felt so helpless, so panicked, so frantic in his entire life. He had thought everything was going to be all right. Then it went all wrong.

Then it went worse than wrong. It turned into a disaster.

The Grim Gambol was somehow using their comm. broadcast feeds, and what he was saying was driving Astra frantic.

“If'n ya'll surrender right now, I won't hurt ya'll or them 7 kids I got in my lil hidy hole,” Grim called out on the public comm. channel. “In fact, I'll take 'em out and make sure they don't get hurt no more.”

“If'n ya'll keep fightin', though, I'll go an' drive a bus full o' brats inta a brick wall, just ta watch 'em burn.”

Her calm, her determination, was crumbling under the cruel taunts. He felt her giving up before she began swearing she was going to surrender. “Get to the chopper, folks!” he ordered, but Astra stayed where she was. “How are you going to stop him if he has you at his mercy? Huh? Use your head, damnit. You're smarter than me! Act like it!”

He grabbed her shoulders and shook her hard, trying to shake some sense into her. She couldn’t give up like that, she just couldn’t! He didn’t understand!

“I surrender!” she shouted, as his insides went cold. And he did something he had never done in all their lives together.

He slapped her. . “Stop!” he screamed. “You will not! You won't disservice Mom, Dad, and everyone that's ever counted on us like that!”

She just stared at him, eyes stricken and overflowing with tears. He thought that it surely could not get worse than that.

But it did. She bolted. Transformed to Nova, rocketed away, tuned out her comm. and shut him out.

She had never shut him out before all this mess began, and now…

She couldn’t close him off completely. He could feel her horror, her fear, her despair. But she wasn’t listening to him, She wasn’t letting him talk to her. He knew he couldn’t outrace her, probably couldn’t even find her before the Grim Gambol did. Panic clutched him by the throat. He could only think of two things.

His Dad. And Vickie.

Racing to the safety of the chopper, fumbling out his comm., he called Blaze Phoenyx. And then Vic. And then…

Then he felt the shock of absolute terror, the paralysis, that meant the Grim Gambol had found, and seized, his sister, his twin, his other half.

Then, suddenly, he couldn’t feel her at all anymore.