Chapter Eighty-Seven

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I thought that it must have been some sick prank. That Asten must have wanted to lighten the mood, and so he went for the very original "the-villain-is-your-parent". I wished that it was just a prank.

It wasn't.

Dr. Conway still held the mask in her hands, but her eyes stared down Asten. It was as if her body wanted to continue, but her mind kept her frozen there in shock, unable to make a single move.

Not surprisingly, it was Asten, then, who uttered the next word. "How...?" His face was a mask of shock and disbelief.

He couldn't have been serious. She might have just looked like his mom, or maybe he was hallucinating. Maybe he was being taken here, too, and he'd struggled and they'd been forced to drug him.

But no matter how many excuses I made to explain Asten's shock, I could come up with none for Dr. Conway's response.

Because she looked like she'd just seen someone she hadn't met in countless years. But not only that, she looked guilty, like she also knew she was showing a horrifying side of her that she would never want anyone to see. Especially not her own son.

All of a sudden, Dr. Conway reanimated herself again. But rather than finish off her job of putting me to sleep, she pulled the mask away and placed it to the side.

I wondered if one of the two remaining guards in the room would stop her, but they remained emotionless.

"It's a long story, Asten," she said, her face devoid of emotion. Her response answered nothing, but also made it seem like she was expecting this. Asten being here was not that big of a surprise to her, and that worried me. She may have just looked up who was in the prison and found out about her son before now, but it seemed like it was more than that.

"Then why don't you explain it?" Asten asked, distaste leaking into his tone. He glanced over at me, still lying in the chair as though this was all merely some dentist appointment. Our eyes met, and I wanted to ask him how he'd managed to get here, but I couldn't. He was too lost in his own questions, and I could save that for later. Only now did I notice Mace, Rose, and a few others hanging close behind Asten. All of them held guns, which probably explained why the guards had yet to try to take them all out.

Dr. Conway looked around quickly, probably trying to see if there was some way to escape this conversation. Currently, Conway and her guards were stuck in the room, without a way out. She seemed to realize her predicament and resigned herself to her fate. It hit me that her eyes had been familiar - they were the same gray color as Asten's. She looked back at Asten, and I waited for her to speak.

"I know you remember the flight," she said, as though it was only her and Asten in the room. "The plane we'd been on when the first snowflakes had begun to fall."

"Yes. And I remember you told me that we had a house down here. That New York wasn't safe anymore...," Asten agreed, his tone urging her to speak more. I vaguely remembered hearing a bit of the same story a while back, when I'd first asked Asten where he'd come from.

"We did. I didn't's just that it was the Equator. We were coming down here so we could be safe. I'd known that the Equator...this would be the only safe place left in the world. They almost weren't going to let me take you and your father, but I convinced them. I convinced them that the two of you would be fine with our new society, that you would accept it. that's not true...," she explained. Although emotion was threaded in her words, barely anything showed on her face.

Nobody spoke. Everyone was waiting for her to continue, whether they wanted to or not.

Realizing her explanation wasn't good enough, she continued. "I'd been affiliated with the company in charge of the Equator for a while. Back in New York, they'd contacted me, knowing that I was well-known for my work in biology. They simply said they were looking for help on a project that was going to be enormous. I trusted them, and began working with their company. They asked me if I could find a way to control the electrical impulses that run through our body. I said I could try, and they placed me with a large team of people until we worked it out. We created technology that could save the world."

"We destroyed the concept of death. Now people could have a procedure done to their brain, where their essence no longer had to be holed up in their body. Now, they had a chip, a flash drive almost, that they could connect with any body that they wanted, so that they might immediately change who they are. Their body ages, while their essence can't. Therefore, whenever a body becomes too old, one can just trade it for a newer younger one. Essentially, we erased the concept of being dependent on one's body to survive. Now we can be immortal."

Asten seemed to be getting impatient. "Just tell me how you got here. What happened? I remember the flight. I remember it crashing in the storm..."

Asten hadn't told me about this part, and I was curious to know.

"It did crash. I'm guessing we were both fortunate enough to survive. Your father died, and when the plane crashed into the ground, I ran off in fear. I thought you'd died, too. A piece of the plane had come down across the aisle, with you on the other side. Once outside, I began making my way down south, and somehow was found by a few trucks from the Equator. They brought me back here, once I told them who I was."

Her story had holes in it. I was bothered by something, and it took me a moment to realize what it was. She kept talking about how this company had planned this device to be made before the rain and snow. And then, how she'd coincidentally been flying down towards the Equator, which had already been built, at the same time as the start of the snow. There was no way to explain such a coincidence.

I remembered what the teacher in the training facility had mentioned to me. That the snow seemed almost like someone was controlling it, someone with superior god-like powers.

I didn't even have to say it.

"The Equator started the apocalypse, didn't they? In some oddly magnificent way, they managed to create...whatever this is?"

Her expression morphed into one of absolute certainty. "Yes. We saved the world, by destroying it."

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