When Ana awoke for the second time, she felt herself laying down on a soft surface, her entire body aching and throbbing. She inhaled sharply, rubbing a beam of sunlight out of her eyes before she glanced around the room, perching herself up on her elbows to take in her surroundings.
She was lying in a large queen-sized bed with dark purple sheets in a room that had blueish grey walls and a large desk right of the bed and a tall dark cabinet with various different items and trinkets that Ana was unable to make out in her current state. She looked to the left of the bed and saw a dark brown night table with a large lamp, glass of water, and a bottle of pills on top of it.
Remembering what her uncle always told her, Ana decided not to touch that.
Slowly, Ana sat up, running her hands through her hair, the thick blanket falling onto her lap, which made Ana immediately miss its warmth and want to crawl back underneath it and fall into an eternal slumber. She looked down and saw that she was still in the same clothes from the night before, which she cringed at how dirty and damp they were.
A soft click from somewhere outside of the room put Ana on high alert, as her observation of the room indicted, this was not her bedroom.
Ana heard soft footsteps approach the bedroom, and Ana immediately glanced around the room to see if there was anything she could use to defend herself, but before she could decide on an item to grab, the door opened revealing a tall Asian woman that looked very familiar to Ana.
” She said with a blank expression, making Ana feel very confused.
e finally awake. ”
”Finally awake? What time is it? ” Ana asked the woman warily. The woman looked at her smartwatch and tapped on it. ”Quarter to four. ” She said simply. Ana glanced at her as she tried to pinpoint where she had seen this woman before, or at least heard her voice. Suddenly the realization hit her like a bag of bricks.
”Twister?! ” She exclaimed, scooting back onto the bed.
The woman stared at her flatly.
”We went over this last night. ” Twister said in a monotone voice. ”And Im not in costume, so just call me Megumi. ” ”Megumi.. ” Ana repeated quietly as she calmed her beating heart. Megumi nodded. ”Youve been out for over twelve hours; I was worried you went into a coma. Wouldn be the first time. ” Megumi said the last part quietly, but Ana was still able to hear it, however for now she decided to ignore it.
”Ana. ” Ana told Megumi. ”Analise McGregor. ” Megumi nodded. Ana noticed she was wearing a sports bra and short gym shorts; she also had a towel around her neck. ”You just get done working out? ” Ana asked. Megumi nodded. ”I was worried. ” She said with a blank expression. ”That you wouldn wake up, you looked like death when I found you, and like I told you last night, you have a unique power, but with this unique power comes a lot of damage to your body. ” Megumi gestured to Ana, who looked down at herself for a second time.
There were dozens upon dozens of burns, scratches, and bruises on her body, especially on her arms and it was even worse on her wrists, which were red and agitated. She gulped before she turned over her right palm, the one that had been subjected to the glowing rings the night before.
It was covered in bandages, the sight made Ana look up at Megumi, who nodded at her as Ana pulled at the bandages. With bated breath Ana pulled them off, expecting the worst amount of damage possible with the amount of pain she experienced the night before. As she opened her palm, she saw there was a large indent in the center of her palm, like someone had scooped out the muscle from it, leaving behind an ugly red and pink from the burned flesh and exposed muscle. She could see some sort of cartilage or bone inside of her palm, she couldn tell and at the moment she didn really care, as she knew whatever she was looking at was not supposed to be exposed and she tried to focus on not vomiting.
Another soft click got Anas attention, and she saw Megumi reentering the room with a medium sized med kit and walked toward the bed. She sat down next to Ana and opened the kit, then gestured for Anas hand. Hesitantly, Ana handed it to her, she glanced between her hand and Megumi as Megumi patched up her palm, neither of them speaking until she was done.
”This scared me quite a lot, youd be surprised at how much blood you can lose from an injury. ” Megumi told her in her usual monotone drawl. Ana supposed this was her attempt at a joke. She wouldve maybe laughed if the circumstances, and person, were different.
”Why do you look so familiar to me? ” Ana asked abruptly, making Megumi pause her reorganizing her med kit and looking up at Ana slowly. ”Well, I go to JHU, maybe you know me from there. I heard you tell those losers in the alley thats where you went. ” Ana cringed at the memory; she really had an awful night.
She shook her head to clear her thoughts.
” Ana drew out.
”I swear Ive seen you somewhere else before.
” Megumi looked away as she closed up the med kit, then she stood up presumably put the kit away.
”Ill make you something to eat, you definitely need to keep up your calories for the next few days or you
e going to lose a dangerous amount of weight. ” Megumi said as she walked toward the door, her back to Ana. She stopped at the door. ”Trust me. ” She said, then walked out of the room.
Ana stared after her as she left, mentally unpacking what just happened.
She was still wary of Twister- Megumi, but that didn stop her from being curious. A loud rumble in her stomach told Ana she had to be curious later, for now she needed to eat something before she fainted again. Ana stood up from the bed and walked out of the room, looking around what Ana recognized as an apartment, which looked a bit nicer than the one she was staying in.
She saw Megumi in the kitchen pulling some things out of cabinets, she turned to look at Ana as she approached. ”Are you allergic to anything? ” Megumi asked. Ana shook her head. ”Uhh, ” Ana started, making Megumi look up at her. ”Where are we? ” She asked. ”Jamenson Iles. ” Megumi said simply. Ana repeated the name quietly to herself. ”Where are you staying? ” Megumi asked. ”Red Haven. ” Ana said, mimicking the simplicity of Megumis responses.
Megumi nodded. ”Thats on five minutes from here by bus, its not far. ”
Ana nodded. ”I should probably change, ” Ana told her. ”Do you want to go back to your place? ” Megumi asked her. Ana looked around. ”Wheres my bag? ” Ana asked. ”Its in my room, under the nightstand. Why? ” Megumi inquired. ”I have an extra pair of clothes in there, just in case. You were so adamant about wanting to talk to me so I guess the sooner we do that the better. ” Megumi nodded and went back to preparing their meal, chopping something silently. Ana took this as a cue to go ahead and shower, so she turned and walked back into Megumis room and successfully found her bag, walking outside again to the bathroom, sighing in relief as she was able to peel her gross, dirty clothes off of her, looking at her body in the mirror to see if there was nay further damage.
She cringed as she saw a series of ugly bruises and scrapes, also noting that their skin was deathly pale. She sighed as she saw her hair sticking out in every direction, wondering now how Megumi was able to look and have a conversation with her as if nothing had been wrong. Perhaps she had seen that before.. Ana thought as she remembered Megumis comment about someone, or even multiple people going int comas after becoming supers.
With one final sad look at her battered frame, Ana walked over to the shower and turned it on, the feeling of immediate relief as she felt the hot water massage her sore muscles, doing her best not to get water on her newly bandaged hand.
Ana let out a soft sigh as she examined the burns again, her thoughts running as rampant as the shower stream.
Whats going to happen to me now? Is Zalic going to find me and force me to be a super villain like the rest of her crew? I mean Twister- Megumi- doesn seem that bad, but I still don know if I can trust her… She could still just be playing me, theres no guarantee that shes actually a good guy.. but she did look a bit remorseful when I brought up the things she had done, is that an act too? What am I going to tell Tiffany, Tony, my professors, my friends, what would they all think of me if they found out I had this crazy power?
At the thought of her power, Ana glanced at her wrists, then hesitantly at the large bandage on her hand.
I guess all I can do is take a leap and find out…
After Ana had changed and eaten, Megumi made eggs and sausages, Megumi had put the dirty dishes in the sink and gestured Ana to her couch, which she reluctantly followed Megumi to.
Megumi sat down and looked up at Ana, who nervously glanced around before sitting down on the other end, as far away from Megumi as possible.
If Megumi noticed this, she didn say anything about it, nor did she show any inflection on her face that she noticed. ”Lets start from the beginning, ” Megumi started in her familiar monotone voice, then she held her hand out to Ana. ”Im Megumi Tan, Im a chemistry major at JHU. ” Ana tentatively took her hand and nodded slowly. ”Right, ” She said, ”I remember that. ” Ana glanced around awkwardly before deciding she should probably introduce herself as well. ”Ana McGregor, microbiology major. ”
Megumi nodded before continuing, her eyes glazing over as she sank back into the couch.
”I never wanted to be a part of whatever it is that Zalic has become now, I didn know much about Margret aside from the fact that she was brilliant. She had one of the best laboratories in the US so when I got the news that there was suddenly an intern program opening up, I didn think much of it, nobody would. ” Ana felt herself nodding along to the story as Megumi went on.
”I was there when she made the first breakthrough: she was just experimenting on animals, despite my own reservations I told myself it was all for the name of science and the animals were sick anyway, see the original goal of the experiment was to modify their DNA to make them immune to whatever ailed them, an anti-toxin if you will.
What I didn know at the time was that she had ulterior motives, and every single day I wake up I kick myself for not recognizing the warning signs sooner. She had a desire to push forward in the name of science no matter the cost, her ethics and the way she treated the other staff, and even me, was beyond questionable, Ive even accidentally come across multiple of her notes detailing gruesome and horrific experiments shes done in the past and planned to do in the future, every red flag possible was in front of me and I ignored it because she was considered to be one of the most innovative scientist of our time; I felt honored to be in her presence, regardless of how she was of a person, it seemed like the best choice possible for me and my career, that all seems so silly now. ”
Megumi took in a long breath as she picked and fiddled with her nails. Ana studied her face. This was the most emotion she had shown since they met, which, Ana thought to herself, was understandable, as she was detailing the story of how she became Zalics right hand. Or as its beginning to seem like now, her favorite puppet.
”She didn even bother to remember my name. ” Megumi said in a choked whisper, that made Anas previous reservations and distrust of Megumi finally begin to crack. Maybe she was really telling the truth… But if she was, what did she want with Ana? Was she really just telling Ana all of this to warn her away from Zalic? Its not like she wanted anything to do with the psychopath, and as it seems, Zalic can exactly find Ana herself so shes really in no danger of Zalic knowing she has ”number fourteen ” at all unless any of her other, if Megumis story also applies to the other villains, brainwashed soldiers have the ability to detect supers like she does. So what was it that Ana was truly here for?
”By the time I realized I should get out it was already too late. ” Megumi said in a much harsher and raspier tone, snapping Anas attention back to her.
”My father had died and I asked Margret if I could take some time off to grieve. She told me death was only a mere hiccup in the course of life, and if I wanted to get anywhere in my field or my life, I needed to push my feelings to the side and put the energy I had from mourning into work and research. I was floored. There was nothing I could say at that moment that truly conveyed how I was feeling. Hurt, angry, offended that she just, wrote off my dads death as something that wasn important enough to take a break from work for I just… ”
Megumi rubbed her hands over her face before sighing and continuing.
”It was a few weeks after that the joyous magic that I had felt when I began working under her began to slip away, and it was at that same time she had begun perfecting the DNA enhancements. And it wasn until then I realized just why she was so adamant that I stick around, ” Megumis face contorted into that of pure disgust, her voice growing dangerously low, Ana shifted in her seat slightly from the now tense and uncomfortable atmosphere.
”She needed to further experiment before she could write the project off as a success. ” Ana stared at Megumi, unblinking, her body tingling with nerves and disgust as she began to guess what was next.
”So she used me. To test the first dose. ” Megumi looked up towards the window that was opposite of the two of them on the couch. She seemed to zone out into a painful trance, her face contorting as she seemed to be reliving the events.
”I was her lab rat for months. The worst part was with my dad gone, no one was able to report that I went missing. Sure, JHU sent letters to my stepmother but.. her and I never had the best relationship.. when I spoke to her again after I was allowed out she gloated and didn believe a word I said, I swallowed my pride and begged her for help.. She just laughed at me and said I dropped out of college to do drugs. No one at school aside from the administration reported it because I.. wasn really popular. Im sure youve deduced by now that Im pretty standoffish, my short responses and monotone voice make people think Im not all that friendly. And even when I tried to go out of my way, no one really wanted anything to do with me. It wasn until I was trapped under Zalic that I realized I was truly alone. ”
Megumi quietly sniffed and wiped her nose. Ana had the horrible realization of where she had seen Megumi before… a missing persons poster that had been placed near the campus. Ana wanted to reach out, but before she came to a decision Megumi continued.
”Once Zalic realized the power she went on to create more of what she called the amplifiers. She also went about going to find a new target. Youve heard of her as well, Im sure. Ella Matthews, you know the name, right? ” Megumi asked, Ana nodded. ”Model, actress that had little to no speaking roles, occasionally appears on a song with some big celebrity, her. ” Megumi spat Anas thoughts with a bit more force and distain than what Ana was thinking. I guess those two have bad blood. Ana thought as she stared at Megumi curiously. ”Margret went about a different tactic when it came to luring Ella into her web. Instead of mocking and manipulation like she did to me, she exploited and took advantage of Ellas bi-curiosity and expensive tastes to get close to her. She bought Ella everything she wanted and put on a persona to convince Ella that she was oh so important to Margret. It was disgusting.
I felt bad for her at first, I really did. She didn hear the things Margret said when Ella wasn around. How gross she felt every time she had to pretend she was romantically interested in her. Ive been the target of enough girls faking their sexuality for their own personal gain but this was an entirely new level. I didn expect Margret to really care about her actions. She had all the power in the world now with a world full of test subjects. And Im sure me being an outcast no one went to look for didn help to dissuade her. ” Megumi trailed off again, then shook her head. ”Ella goes by Electrina now, she happily took up the mantle of resident terrorist once Marget decided she had a different use for me. I mean it when I say I truly regret the things I did. I was in a position that made me think I didn have a choice, but when I heard about what Margret was looking for I developed a plan.
I don know if youve heard, but a few years ago there was a new element discovered that came from a meteor that had lodged itself onto a space shuttle. It was big news, they almost got thrown off orbit and had to come down for an emergency landing. ” Ana felt her memory jog at the mention of the story.
”Well, inside that meteor was said element. It was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Alien technology people speculated. ”
”Then the scientist that did the most research on it ended up getting… infected by it. It gave her a power that was unexplainable but it wasn able to survive in her body. Or rather, she wasn able to survive as its host. ” Ana said in a whisper, remembering the horrific tragedy.
”Then it destroyed her and almost killed everyone in the facility. Once the chaos settled it was discovered that someone had taken the element. Theres been a hunt going on for it and the person that took it ever since. ” Megumi finished. Ana looked up at her. ”But what does that have to do with Margret- Zalic? ” Ana asked.
Megumi fiddled with her fingernails again. ”Of course you know that element contains immense power, ” She started. ”Its considered to be of greater power than the entire militarys artillery. Every, military. ” Ana swallowed roughly as Megumi continued. ”So as you can imagine, anyone whos able to find this element and figure out how to use it without getting destroyed would be incredibly powerful, unstoppable, and if it fell into the wrong hands who knows what could happen. ”
”So Zalics after it. ” Ana concluded.
Megumi nodded. ”Thats the etter things she needed me for. I picked up an ability in my transformation to detect other supernatural power, not just supers, so Margret wants me to use said power to find it, thats also the thing I told you I sent her on a wild goose chase for in Texas, I was buying myself some time to hopefully come across new supers to put my plan into action. ”
This must be what she needs me for. Ana thought.
”Which is? ” Ana asked. ”It goes without saying that Margret under no circumstances can find that element. We could bank on it destroying her but.. I don want to leave that outcome up to chance. ” Megumi said sounding suddenly more nervous.
”Why does it feel like you
e leaving something out there? ” Ana asked, cocking her head.
For the first time in this entire conversation, Megumi looked her in the eyes. ”Because I am. ” Ana felt a chill run down her spine and sank back into the couch. ”Zalics a geneticist, a mad one at that, of course when she discovered her breakthrough which fueled her thirst for power, there was no way she wasn going to use it on herself. And thats what shes been doing. See, the first phase of my plan was just to kill her after she transformed Ella. This was a huge decision for me, and, despite what you may see in the media, Im not a murderer, and I was only nineteen at the time. There was no way I wouldve been able to handle committing a murder, even if it wouldve saved me and made me a hero. But by the time I had finished battling with my morals and made the decision.. she transformed herself.
There was no way I wouldve been able to carry out the plan against her then, especially because she kept transforming. She stole Dr. Basils, the scientist that got destroyed, files and notes, then began analyzing them, noting what went wrong and what she needed to be able to survive. She wants to be the perfect vessel for the element, so shes much more powerful than me now, so theres only one thing I can do. ”
The atmosphere became tense and important; Ana braced herself for the reveal.
”I need to find that element before Zalic and destroy it. Theres no way in hell Im handing it over to the authorities, if one bad apple is all it takes for world domination, how about a whole system full of them? No way. Ive found a few of Zalics notes that could help me find a way to use it without being decimated and managing to take her out in the process. After that Im destroying the thing, even if it kills me. ”
It was a lot to take in, Ana thought to herself. A task like this was larger than anything that had ever been placed on her before. Anas stomach did flips and spins as she thought about it, the fate of the world literally on her shoulders.
”So, ” Megumi broke the silence finally, ”Will you help me? ”