26 : All A Facade

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"Heh..." An evil smirk embellished Timothy's lips, and Gwen caught a full view of Timothy's reflection in the mirror, who turned out to be none other than Daniel.

"You're really a smart girl, Gwen." He sniggered as he fiddled with the ring on his index finger. Before her very eyes, he morphed into her father. "The Infinity Emerald is such a powerful object that it even allows me to take on the bodies of those who are dead, you know?" His coquettish smile set Gwen trembling with rage that she was trying very hard to suppress, but at this point, she believed that Justin had been eavesdropping and his anger manifested in the form of violence.

"You son of a bitch!" Justin bellowed as he got out of hiding and fired at Daniel. Gwen seized the opportunity and scurried out of the room to hide behind the pillar. The hallway was dimly lit and the staircase was rusty. The rancid smell of blood penetrated her nostrils and made her feel queasy, but the elephant in the room could not be ignored right now.

Bang! Bang!

A few shots were fired in our direction and Gwen pulled out her Rubix Cube, transforming it into the good old trusty M249. Gwen scoped around to make sure that no one else was trailing them, while Sheila and the other sniper boys ran up the stairs to the upper floors.

Gwen climbed the stack of crates at the corner of the hallway and hid behind them, her sniper rifle poised to strike as soon as a target came into sight.

Gwen inhaled deeply, and all she could hear was the susurration of her thoughts inside her head.

Breathe.

Stay calm, Gwen. Don't let your quivering nerves pull the trigger clumsily now.

Breathe.

Keep your eyes open.

Gwen could hear the sounds of Justin and Daniel fighting in the room beside the staircase, and she adjusted the gun towards that direction and scoped.

The rage in Justin's eyes was like a blazing inferno that threatened to destroy every combustible in his path. They were hurling profanities at each other, and Justin was throwing punches while swiftly evading Daniel's retaliation.

She needed a steady aim, or else she would end up shooting the wrong target. This was a life and death matter that Gwen couldn't mess around with. Their unpredictable movements made it difficult for her to pinpoint the exact moment to shoot the bullet that would paralyse Daniel and buy them time to drag him back to reality and destroy the Infinity Emerald.

Shit.

Sheila's voice over the communicator broke the silence and startled Gwen.

"Coast is clear upstairs, no men in sight! Robin and Glen will stand their ground upstairs, I'm coming down to help you!"

"Roger." Firming her grip around the M249, Gwen was now even more determined than ever to make the shot.

Until they carried the fight into the hallway and to another room.

"Oh, for god's sake..." Gwen muttered under her breath and transformed the M249 back into its Rubix Cube state and pulled out her P18 instead. Inching closer to the room, Gwen fired a few rounds at Daniel and he returned fire.

"I never taught you to handle guns, Gwen," Daniel snapped as a few gunshots vibrated around the room.

Sheila hurried down the stairs with two Beretta 92s, rapidly firing straight at Daniel as she slid across the floor in style.

Daniel took cover behind an almond-coloured sofa and they flipped a metal table for cover, shattering the glass tabletop.

"You can't hide forever, kids," he tittered as he reloaded his guns. "This life just aint't for ya."

Justin was breathing heavily as he hid behind a rusty iron cabinet, his arms bruised and a scratch ran across his cheek. In their fight earlier, he took a few blows from Daniel despite evading most of his punches, but nonetheless, Gwen was worried about his stomach, especially when he had been repeatedly struck in that spot over the course of the last 2 weeks.

If he was struck there once more, it would be really fatal this time, and Natasha warned Gwen to take extra precaution not to let Justin engage in prolonged close combat.

Just then, the locket in Gwen's vest pocket vibrated and fell onto the floor, moving away from her as if it had been drawn in by a magnet of some sort.

It slid into the book held inside Sheila's jacket, and as soon as it stuck, echoes of Daniel's malicious laughter resounded.

"Congratulations on starting the apocalypse!" Daniel clapped his hands together. This spelt even more trouble for them because no matter how hard Sheila and Gwen tried to pull the two fragments apart, they wouldn't budge.

"Now you're all going to die..."

Paralysed by fear and helplessness, Gwen's hands loosened their grip over the fragments and she fell to her knees, unaware that Daniel had already made his way to her and clicked the trigger against her forehead.

"I never loved you, Gwen," Daniel sighed. "you were always the offspring of a Satan spawn."

Tears trickled down Gwen's eyes as she couldn't do anything but kneel powerlessly, as though in defeat, before the very man she had grown up with for the past 18 years.

In spite of all the hatred that Gwen had for him, even the last glimmer of hope that she had to call him "Dad" no longer existed.

Gwen's fists trembled and her throat was clogged with mucus. She was petrified. She was going to die.

One move from either Justin or Sheila would spell her death.

Just then, a flurry of arrows shot through the window and pinned him against the wall: the very same arrows that fired across the room when Daniel trespassed into the Lester Riddle's mansion.

"What the hell-" Daniel backed away from Gwen and got shot by the arrows that pierced his coat and pinned him down. He coughed out blood and spat it on the floor.

A grappling hook followed suit, and a strangely familiar silhouette swung into the room, smashing the glass as she did so.

"Don't you fucking dare lay a finger on my friend!"

Her voice was a piercing falsetto, and venom spewed from her lips as she cursed belligerently.

The tension in the air broke as she entered the room, her hair swaying with the gust of breeze that was now coming through the broken window.

It was her-the very last person Gwen would have expected to entangle into her world.

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