- Author: Bella Forrest
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The Gender Game 7: The Gender End
Copyright © 2017 by Bella Forrest
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44. Epilogue: Violet
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Exiting the plant was surreal. What had been a cacophony of noise and chaos barely an hour ago was now replaced with the loud yet final roar of the fires that still burned on either side of this entrance. The rest of the noise consisted of muted sounds, sounds that I immediately gravitated toward—soft chatter, boots falling on the ground, and the groans of the wounded. Some people were crying, but quietly. Most simply stood around, vacant expressions in their eyes.
I recognized the look because I understood the feeling. It would be so easy to fall into that shelter of numbness, push away all that I had seen. The thought was tantalizing. I wouldn’t have to think about Gregory, how small the bullet hole that had ended his life really was. Or the women I’d killed. Justified as I had been, it still didn’t change the fact that I had erased people from existence today. None of them would ever feel the sun on their faces or the touch of someone they loved again.
There was guilt. I was alive, whole, save for a scraped shoulder and a few aching ribs. So many others had died. What made me special? Why was it their time and not mine? Where was the justice in any of that?
Alejandro’s grip on my vest tightened, the fabric bunching uncomfortably around my neck. I adjusted my grip under his arm and glanced over at him. The older man was pale and his jaw set, determination stamped on his weathered face. I guided him around the corner to the wall, easing him down to the ground to keep from jostling his mangled hand. His good hand patted my shoulder as he leaned back, his breath coming in sharp gasps.
I squatted next to him as Tim helped Mags to a position leaning next to her uncle. The young woman still looked dazed, her blue eyes glazed and unfocused. As soon as her back touched the water treatment plant’s wall, she jerked around, blinking as if she couldn’t understand how she’d gotten there.
“Sit down, Mags,” Alejandro grunted up at her, and she looked down at him, equally surprised to see both of us there.
“What? No, I can’t.” She looked up, biting her lower lip for a second. Shaking her head, she squared her shoulders. “I need to find Amelia,” she said after a moment, referring to her third in command. She seemed as though she were grasping at straws, trying to stay in control when she really just needed to rest. I knew the feeling, and that only made it more painful to watch. “We need to be on cleanup and—”
“Sit down,” ordered April, rounding a car, a first-aid bag already in her hands, and I started. The last time I had seen her she had been flying into a water vat, one continually churned by a massive arm used to keep the liquid moving.
“April! How did you—”
“I’m an excellent swimmer,” she replied curtly, meeting my gaze. “And I promise to tell you all about it later. Right now, you have to let me check you out.” She looked at me and frowned. “Who’s in worse shape?”
I straightened up, my left side aching hard enough for me to reach out and use the wall as support. “I’m not sure. Alejandro’s hand is pretty bad, but Mags is acting a bit dazed. She was lucid minutes before, but…”
Before I could finish the sentence, April had the scanner out, running its beam over Mags’ face. Mags raised her hands, swatting lightly at the scanner, but April reached out and grabbed the woman’s wrists, pinning them together almost effortlessly. I stared in surprise as Mags hissed in pain. April cocked her head, and moved the scanner down to Mags’ shoulders and arms. She released her grip almost immediately, scanning the rest of her body while Mags massaged her shoulder.
“Mild shock, but likely because of a simple dip in endorphins due to adrenaline leaving the system,” April told her. “Water and food for you, and you need to be checked out again for that shoulder. It’s partially dislocated, but it can wait for a few hours. Alejandro?”
Alejandro looked up at her, his blue eyes already swimming with reluctance. “There are worse cases,” he insisted, but April ignored him, squatting down. If the condition of his hand caused her any emotional discomfort, April didn’t show it, which impressed me. I couldn’t look at it without getting queasy—the fingers were bent at unnatural angles, like a glove had been shoved onto him all wrong, thanks to an enhanced woman crushing it with one hand.
“Viggo!” I looked up to see Tim pointing behind me, and turned in time to see Morgan and Cody moving toward us, awkwardly supporting Jay’s weight between them. All three of them were wet, as if they had been swimming with all their clothes on. For all I knew, they had been. Cody was shivering violently in the chilly night air, but he looked like he was not physically damaged. Emotionally, I couldn’t say. Morgan looked fine, thanks to the Liberator suit she was wearing; it was Jay who had my heart pounding with worry.
Even though he was wearing black, I knew he was bleeding. A torn blue