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Chapter 34 by Paige Ng

Nadia woke with a start as a bump in the road caused the car to shake her awake. She was being sped away to yet another secret location, but this time to help Rob who had been infected with Seeker. 

The fight to win her freedom had been quicker than she thought possible. 

“It was easy”, Adi pointed out, “we honestly just pushed through the doors. We found this service entrance for the building at the back and we were able to bypass security and cameras to get to you. Talal’s intel in the building helped a lot.”

“I’m never letting you go again!” Tara clung to Nadia as if she was at risk of being lost again. “I was so freaking scared Nadia.”

“So was I...” Nadia locked eyes with Adi in the rear view mirror and shot an accusatory glance his way. She was still unsure about all of this but anything was better than being sold like cattle to further a maniac's desire for world destruction. 

Adi looked away guiltily unable to look her in the eyes once since they had been reunited. He attempted to move the conversation along to avoid any confrontation, “Anyway, we need to stop by the apartment lab to retrieve some equipment and tools needed to synthesise a cure from Nadia’s blood, then we can help Rob.”

As the car pulled up in front of the building where the lab was, Nadia shivered at the idea of going back to that place. But right now all she could think about was Rob and how vulnerable she felt without him. She felt tired and exhausted; all she wanted to do was forget this whole ordeal had ever happened.

As they walked through the hallway towards the lab, Nadia saw flashes of the horrors she had been subjected to: being forcibly sedated, abused, and subjected to Ken’s vile presence. Though she was immune to the virus, she still felt tainted because of him. Talal and two Cryptop agents entered the lab before they did to do a sweep, Adi and Nadia waited anxiously outside for the all clear. 

“All clear! We found a body!” yelled one of the agents. Another couple of agents had been sweeping Adi's old apartment as well for signs of Charlotte. They had found Ken’s body now bloated and purple in a pool if his own dried blood. Talal whistled and looked in Adi and Nadia’s direction and remarked dryly, “you can see why I wasn’t keen to have her stick around, temper!” 

“Is it wise that we let her escape? What if she comes back for Nadia?” Adi asked Talal. 

Talal replies, “Cornering a woman like Charlotte is dangerous, like cornering a wild animal. She poses no threat now that she’s lost Nadia and her capital which was all tied up in priceless black market artefacts that are all over her house. She’s nothing without her image. She’ll be back, but not for a long time.”

Adi and Nadia entered the lab and she was immediately filled with a sick feeling, she swooned noticeably and Adi reached out to help. Nadia involuntarily shrank away, before straightening up and wordlessly following Talal and leaving Adi in her wake with a look of self pity on his face. He sighed and followed suit. 

“Right, accessing the data needed to blackmail the president of Tessi will be much easier now that I have direct access to the labs computer programs. This won’t take more than an hour. You two, go to the equipment room and gather up equipment for a blood transfusion. Rob is stable but the sooner we get you guys on the road the sooner he can’t be relieved of his pain.” 

Adi and Nadia silently picked through the supply closet for the list of equipment and tools necessary for extracting Nadia’s antibodies. Time seemed to drag on as they mindlessly gathered medical supplies. Nadia couldn’t bare it any longer, “Why did you do this to me?” 

Adi turned to Nadia with a hopeless look in his tear filled eyes, “I’ve been broken for a long time Nadia, ever since I lost mum and dad. I have felt empty and adrift-“ Nadia put her hand up to stop him.

“So you offer me up as cannon fodder? You’re own cousin? How could you, all for money?! I don’t think we can ever come back from this Adi, you have lost me. I don’t know how to bring myself to look at you anymore i just see fear.”

Talal walked off to instruct the team to wipe all prints and remove all traces of their presence in the apartment and coordinate an police informant in their employ to guide the authorities to Ken’s body and to get their stories straight. 

Talal motioned fir Adi to come closer, “The police will be here and I’d rather none of you be here to complicate the issue. The commissioner and I are professionally aquatinted and will very enthusiastically accept any testimony to avoid making me an unhappy chappy.”

Talal looked at Adi's drawn features and then at Nadia, “Give her time, what she’s been through will take its toll and she needs to work it out herself.” He hugged Adi close, "And with you." 

As they pulled away from the building, their team sped away towards Cryptop headquarters, Adi kept staring at Nadia’s face illuminated by the flash of police lights and sirens and wondered if they would ever be whole again.

About the author:
Paige is a 26 year old who works in mental health but moonlights in fine dining as a paid hobby. She also loves true crime podcasts and has a dedicated Instagram page to the food she eats.
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