"You have five minutes with him," the soldier stated, "Then your father would like to see you before we send you on the mission."
The soldier nodded.
The room was dimly lit. As I walked into it I could see him sitting there in the empty room. Vino looked the same. He had a small bruise on his lower lip that made me think he got into a scuffle with one of the guards. It wasn't really anything to be appalled by though. Vino was a traitor. He had betrayed me from the beginning.
We were alone in the room. Just a few hours ago I told the military that he had been in communication with the Antlien base. They took him away. He planned to ruin everything.
Vino's eyes lifted when I walked into the room. He looked like a full blown Antlien. His antlers were out and everything. They were raised out almost completely.
"I was in the hallway for thirty minutes thinking about what I would say to you when I saw you," I explained to him, "It's kind of hard you know. The thing is. I trusted you."
Vino was silent. He didn't look at me in my eyes. I remembered hearing the voice of Shin on the other end of that receiver. I remembered Vino hiding it.
There was more silence.
I didn't sit. I just stood over him. It was crazy seeing him like this.
"You don't have anything to say for yourself?"
He turned his head to the wall instead of looking over at me, "You seem to have made up your mind about me."
I just shook my head.
"I don't get it. You know. This whole rebellion thing. What about Elder Gree? Elder Gree died. Did he know you were a double agent as well?"
Vino didn't answer.
The fact that he didn't answer said enough for me. I didn't know what came over me. I just ran over to him and I hit him. I hit him as hard as I could. I hit him so hard that Vino spit up blood. I wanted him to feel what I felt. I wanted him to know how it felt like to have someone hurt him.
"He didn't know...did he?" I asked again, "No. He had no idea. Matter of fact. There were so many times I wondered how it was that they knew where the hideout was back on that ship. The reason they knew where the hideout was is because of you. Isn't it? You just so happened to not be there with them. I should have known then. I should have fucking known you're not shit."
Vino didn't say a word.
He stayed completely quiet. The sound of the echos of my pain were the only thing that seemed to move. It was almost like he had nothing to say for himself. It was almost like nothing here mattered to him. For Vino I was nothing to be concerned about.
For Vino, I wasn't even worth a fucking response.
So I continued to dig in, letting him know all my mind, "You know at points I really considered caring about you? You know there were points in this that I wish I didn't have this complicated relationship with Kaden. I found comfort in you. But what was your purpose. Tell me that at least. What was your mission?"
He wasn't going to say anything.
I found my voice getting hoarse when I finally spoke out agianst him, "Fuck you."
I gathered my thoughts at that moment and started to make my way to the door. There was no point in talking to him. He clearly wasn't going to give me a response. Maybe it was part of his mission to never reveal anything.
I got all the way to the door before I heard his throat adjust. He grunted as though clearing it for a minute and I heard his lips smack open.
"My mission was...to get close to you," Vino explained, "In the same way Shin's mission was to get close to Kaden."
I turned back. Now it made sense. He worked for the Antlien judges in the same way that Shin did. Shin was an agent of them just like Vino was. It sickened me to know that the whole time he was just pretending in the same way that Vino was.
I had to admit. Vino was a much better pretender than Shin. I could see right past Shin but Vino had me fooled this entire time.
"To what end?"
"Does it matter?" Vino asked me, "I don't want to hurt you anymore."
"Don't fucking patronize me," I replied sharply, "You don't give two fucks about me Vino. You never have. You have been playing me this whole time. The least you can do is tell me what was the point of getting close to me."
"I was always supposed to lead you back to Earth. It was my mission. They wanted to know what it was your father had. They wanted me to intercept it."
My heart raced at that moment. I was angry. I was so angry that I punched the wall. This wasn't some cheap wall in a house either. This was a military facility. I punched hard cement. My hand bled almost immediately and I screamed in pain. I couldn't believe I had been so fucking stupid this entire time. I was thinking Vino was saving me meanwhile the whole time the Antliens were guiding me. They were guiding me back to Earth.
They knew this whole time my father had the King. They knew it.
"What about the soul? What about your whole speech about wanting to have a soul?" I asked.
Vino looked over at my hand, "You're hurt."
"Fuck my pain. You didn't give a fuck about my pain before. Why give a fuck about my pain now? I asked you a goddam question."
"The thing about a soul was just a way to gain your trust."
Fuck. I had actually believed it. I had no doubt that Vino had read about a soul in some text about humans that the Antliens had intercepted in their 'studies.' It was no doubt that this was nothing to him.
I looked at him and I don't think I ever hated anyone as much in my life than I did Vino in this moment. I don't think I ever hated someone with such a flaming passion as I did Vino.
"You want to know something. You failed," I explained, "I have something. And I am going to deliver it to my brother. You hear me. And he's going to blow that fucking Queen to fucking bits. And then where will the Antliens be then. You'll be locked in this room watching while your invasion failed. You hear me Vino?"
Vino didn't look back at me.
I was done with him. At this point I wanted no more than to see the Antliens suffer what their treacherous ways.
It was time for the humans to catch up.
I turned and got to the door.
He stopped me before I got to the door with his voice. This time I didn't turn to see his face. I had no doubt he had finally faced me. I had no doubt that Vino was staring at the back of my head right now. I didn't even want to see him though. I didn't want to see him again in my life.
"Make it good. This is the last time you'll ever see me."
"Ok. Ok listen," Vino stated sounding desperate. He must have known that I was serious, "Listen. Regardless of my intentions and what I planned to do, some things I didn't fake. You know I couldn't fake some things. You know I couldn't fake the time in the shuttle we spent together. I am not that good. Just because I used the soul thing to gain your trust doesn't mean that along the way I didn't develop a soul. You showed me that..."
I didn't know what Vino was aiming to get out of this. Truth was I didn't care. I hated him and I hated his people. I hated the fact that they were here in an attempt to invade us. I wouldn't let that happen.
"Like you said. The Antliens are always one step ahead. Isn't that what you always said? Vino?"
I remembered the words he said. The Antliens were always prepared. Human technology meant nothing to them. Human emotion must have not meant anything either. Maybe that is why he was able to fooled me. I didn't know when he said they were one step ahead he was talking about himself.
Vino paused, "Yes but..."
I cut him off. I couldn't stand to hear him speak again. I couldn't stand to hear him sit around and patronize me as though this entire time he hadn't been feeding me lies. I was nothing more than a silly human toy to him. I had lead him to exactly where he was going to be. I was not going to let him get away with this either.
I would die first.
"Well it's about time humans caught up."
Vino was willing to sacrifice for his people...
It was time that I sacrificed for mine.
The envoy that was taking me to the Antlien base was a military one. The entire road was full of military trucks.
"You guys know how to make a guy feel safe," I stated.
I was in the truck with my father and a few military guys. Outside of the truck were layers of military trucks. Then there were police cars escorting us. Helicopters flew overhead. Coming in I saw a lot of news anchors but it seemed like they must have sent those guys packing. The military was taking this serious and I could tell. I could hear how busy everyone was. I had no doubt they had evacuated the entire town. Hell they probably evacuated the neighboring towns as well. I knew this was a huge deal.
Still none of this would mean anything if the Antliens released the Queen. The only reason they didn't release their weapon was because they assumed my father had a way of countering that weapon.
They were right.
I was the one delivering that counter.
"None of us will be able to protect you once your on the Antlien space station," my father explained, "We are to drop you off at a certain point where the representative Shin has arranged to come and escort you to the Antlien station."
"Way to shoot down my sense of security Dad."
My father shook his head and sighed, "I would like to be your father and tell you that you wouldn't have to do this. Deep in my heart I want to tell that."
I stared at my dad.
"Why do I have the feeling there is a but coming up..."
"However...I'm more than your father," he told me in that truck, "I'm responsible for eliminating the Antlien threat and that means taking out their primary weapon. So instead of telling you that you don't have to do this. I'm just going to tell you that you need to be safe."
I nodded, "Why start now?'
"Why start now what?"
"Being a good father I guess," I stated.
"This isn't the time for that," my father replied, "Remember why you're doing this. Remember what lies at stake. This is important."
"I'm about to give the love of my life a fucking bomb that he might not be able to outrun and you are telling me telling me that this is important. You don't think I fucking know that? Dad? Seriously? You don't think that message is really fucking clear right about now?"
The men in the truck looked away. They were military guys. I think they had so much respect for my dad's leadership position that they never saw anyone go off on him like that. Truth was I had never gone off on my dad like that before too. I halfway expected him to haul off and smack the shit out of me. I was surprised when he didn't though. I was surprised when my father just nodded. He was just nodding in the truck.
"That's fair. Take your time to compose yourself."
I was shocked when my father said that. It was a slow remark and he didn't apologize or anything after that. Truth was though this was a lot coming from my father. He was never the "bow down and fold" kind of guy. He never let up in the things that he believed in. The fact that my father was sitting here now and letting up meant more to me than a lot of the things that he did.
I sat in the truck silently.
I thought for a minute. The military men seemed really anxious. I just needed time to breathe. I needed time to think about what the fuck I was really doing right now. This would decide the future of the entire Earth. I had to be sure of it.
There was no turning back.
It wasn't until I saw the Antlien dome out of the window of the truck that I came to my senses and realized that there I had to speak to them.
"Ok. What do I need to do?" I asked.
My father looked at for a minute. He handed me a box. There were two small pieces of machinery in a box that he handed me.
I opened the box.
"They are earpieces. Similar to that of the Antliens."
The scientists here weren't really that original I assumed. Now they were copying the Antlien form of communication?
"Won't they check me for it?"
"They have no reason to give anymore than a pat down. You've been among them for a while. I don't think they see you as a threat really. I don't think they see humans in general as a threat. We don't have their technology. What they didn't assume is that we would take their knowledge and use it against them. That's the human thing that they couldn't study. We have the ability to adapt...very...very well. Our technology is not up to bar with them. They may be right for the most part. I guess that works out in our favor though."
I nodded. It make sense. I didn't think the Antliens really would check me. I could already imagine how patronizing they would be. They were a proud race. They didn't think I posed a threat to them before and they probably wouldn't think I did now.
"One for you to wear now. One for you to give to your brother," my father stated.
The way he called Kaden my brother kind of shook me up a little bit. I knew that my father would always consider Kaden my brother be him Antlien or not. I never doubted for a second that my father treated Kaden any less of his son than he did me. Hell most my life I was pretty sure he loved Kaden a little bit more than he loved me.
That was always good for Kaden, but horrible for me.
Imagine finding out your brother was adopted from a line of homicidal, power hungry aliens and he still got more love than you?
"What about the---"
"It's right here..."
He leaned over and opened another box. He handed me the shard. I had no doubt that most of the security measures around us right now was because of the fact that this truck carried that shard. I looked at it for a moment.
It was the King.
It was the future of our world.
It was the only thing separating the human race from extinction and my father was handing it to me at that moment. I could feel my heart racing as he put it in my hands.
"How am I supposed to get this Kaden? How am I supposed to get the earpiece to Kaden too?"
"Hopefully they give you guys privacy."
"You must not have Shin," I replied.
"You'll need to find a way son," my father stated, "I trust that you will."
"Wait. Let me get this straight. You are leaving the fate of the entire planet on you trusting me...the son who was the biggest disappointment you ever had?"
I looked at my father not really understanding him right now. The other guys in the truck seemed to be thinking the same thing that I did. The idea that my father was just leaving this open like this without telling me exactly what I needed to do to complete the transfer blew my mind. I doubt the guys in the truck would say anything to him though. They just gave each other curious looks. Shit. I joined in with the curious looks. My father seemed to have lost his mind.
The only person who seemed one hundred percent sure on me succeeding at this was my father. He looked at me with these determined eyes. I had seen him look at Kaden like that. I had seen him look at Kaden like that when Kaden said he was going up for modeling or when Kaden was running track or when Kaden was exceeding in school.
My father never gave me this look before.
I always knew why. I was the failure. I was the son who really never succeeded at shit. I wasn't handsome, talented, kind and smart like Kaden. I never would be. I was called Billy Bad ass because all I really did was fuck up.
Now my father was looking at me as though...I was more than just a fuck up.
He confirmed staring me down in that car, "I believe in you son."
He believed in me.
But the problem was... I didn't believe in myself.
We had arrived at the transfer point. My father was still giving me that stern look. There was no more talking beyond this point. He had warned me beforehand. He didn't want any information to be intercepted.
When I got out of the truck the first thing I saw was Shin. He wasn't alone. He had the Antlien uniform on and behind him were almost 30 just like him. Young looking men who seemed no older than a human 30 years of age. They were all muscular. They looked like all different nationalities. They were all the same height. They all had the same body weight. They were all fucking gorgeous in the face.
Seeing the Antlien code of perfection scared me a little bit. I knew this was what they were fighting on. They were fighting on a way to feed their creation to maintain their perfection. This was their way of life.
"I got this," I told my father.
He looked at me sternly and stopped walking. I continued to walk. I looked back one last time at my father. He got back in the truck but they didn't pull off. None of the human militants moved past this point. It must have been neutral ground or something like that.
I hated the idea of walking away from my planet's defenses. I honestly felt like I was going back into that Dystopian society that I had run away from.
"You father favors you," Shin told me, "It amuses me that you could have ever thought Kaden was really related to you. I can see the flaws a mile away. Ugly...weak...stupid...humans."
A few of the other Antliens laughed.
Ugly, weak and stupid. That's what they thought about me.
It made sense now why they didn't even bother to pat me down ...
We took an Antlien ship and flew to the space station. The docking in the station was the same that I remembered from before but when I arrived on the space station things were different. The first time I had boarded the space station people were lively. People were bustling around. Now things were different. I came onto the station to see lines of soldiers. Antlien soldiers.
Some had Antlien weapons. Some had human weapons. Some seemed as young as ten years old or so.
I knew this was just a distraction though. This wasn't the real Antlien weaponry. They didn't depend on these soldiers. They knew just like I knew that if this was their defense the humans would wipe out their entire race. Our ground troops were nothing to deal with. These soldiers were nothing more than a way to defend the Queen. They were like killer bees protecting the hive.
"Mesmerized?" Shin stated.
"You should be. These invasions don't happen too often," Shin explained, "You want to know how it's like when the Queen is activated don't you? Do you have any idea?"
"I could care less."
"It destroys everything. Just like a human eraser. Do you know what I mean? Have you used an eraser before Billy?" Shin asked, "It just smudges out mistakes. Just like you. You're the mistake that the Queen is going to smudge out and make way for something else to be written right on top of you. Something better."
"You are so much better yet you couldn't even get Kaden to like you," I laughed shaking my head, "Funny...but I happened to even get Vino attracted to me. Ugly and flawed as I am."
"Vino doesn't care about you...fool."
We had been walking. I guess being guided. Truth was I just wanted to watch Shin suffer. I wish I could see his face when his Queen went up in smokes.
I nodded, "Oh I'm not as dumb as you think. We know about Vino. He's in our of our prisons now. You know that don't you..."
I heard a voice in my ear.
"Enough, small talk. Don't let them know too much."
It was my father.
He was right. Shin was sneaky little bastard. He was probably pushing my buttons intentionally and trying to get me to spill some information about him that I normally wouldn't have. I bit my tongue listening to the sound of my father's voice in my ear piece. I had to keep it together.
"You think you got Vino? Please. He's one of our top agents. If he can't escape from a human prison then no one can."
"I hope you got that," I stated.
"What?" Shin asked.
I was talking to my father's earpiece.
"Nothing.." I replied, "Can we get this over with?"
We were walking. I guess Shin was trying to push my buttons to make me spill shit but he clearly ended up spilling shit himself. He was basically telling me that Vino was one of their top agents and capable of escaping. I just hoped my father got what he was saying.
It wasn't until I was taken to the Antlien main tower that my father's voice came back into my ear.
"We heard him. We are going to check on Vino..."
I sighed a sigh of relief. They had to hurry. They had to get there. Vino could ruin everything if he escaped. He could ruin everything that we worked so hard on.
I was taken to a room and made to sit there. It was one of those Antlien white rooms. I waited for almost ten minutes in that room before Shin finally opened the door. The King shard was in my pocket. I played with it in my fingers. The other listening device was right next to it as well. I was shocked when Shin walked in and especially excited when I noticed that Shin wasn't alone.
Shin had these men with him. Hooded figures. They had more clothes on than any of the Antliens.
The last person to come in was the only friendly face.
I couldn't help it. I ran over to him. I ran over to him so fast and just hugged him tightly. I hugged him so tight that he squirmed a little. Kaden held me there.
I didn't know what came over me. I just started crying. I just started crying right in that room. Kaden was alive. He was alive and he looked well.
"Safe to say you missed me?" he stated.
"No. I got something in my eye," I said.
I could feel Kaden's hand playing with my hair at that moment. He used to play with my hair so much back in the day. I missed it. We had always been this close even before my abduction. We had always hugged longer than we should have. We had always let our eyes linger on longer than they should have. He always fucked with my hair for a minute.
When he used to fuck with my hair it happened just like this. He would mess with it for a minute or two while I hugged his sides. Then slowly his aggressive gesture would soften.
It would become a soft...gentle...affection massage.
His hand would always make it's way from my hair to the side of my face like it did now. He always managed to keep his palm on my face and we would just stare at each other.
"Damn I love you," Kaden stated.
I didn't know what he meant by it. I didn't know what kind of love but at that moment it didn't matter. Love was love. Kaden was in my arms again and the world seemed balanced again if it was just for a few minutes.
"Can we have a few moments...alone?" I asked Shin, "Please."
I was begging almost. Shin didn't move. He didn't even reply. He just looked over at the hooded figures. The hooded figures made their way around the room circulating around the room. There were many of them.
"No..." one of them stated.
Kaden looked over at me, "Those are the judges."
Finally. I got to meet them. I couldn't see their faces but they had that pompous attitude about themselves. It was like a regular Antlien but doubled. They exuded confidence. They just knew they were the superior race. They were the superior of the superior race. And they watched me...silently stalking me just like Shin had done so many times before. Maybe he was in training to be one of them because he did it so well.
How the fuck was I supposed to give Kaden the King and the earpiece if these fucking people were in the room like this? How the fuck was I supposed to get past them?
"I don't give a fuck who they are," I stated feeling this energy of focus, "I just want some time alone with you."
Kaden turned to them, "Please. Isn't it enough what you guys are doing? Isn't it enough that you are destroying the planet? This boy means everything to me and you are taking him away from me. Why can't I just have a few minutes alone with him? If you have any respect for me please just give me some time alone? Please just grant me that?"
Kaden sounded convincing. I was actually shocked. He sounded more convincing then I did. I wondered if he had an idea that there was a reason I wanted to be alone. He could always read me so well. He always knew what I was thinking without me even saying words. Maybe this was just another example of that.
Shin looked over at me, "Kaden. I don't know..."
"Please. Shin. If I ever meant anything to you. Just please give me a chance."
Shin turned over to the others. Shin must have hated me but I felt like maybe he honestly had a soft side for Kaden. Shin turned to the judges and the judges seemed to be giving one another quick glances.
My heart raced.
Just a moment alone. That's all I needed. Just a quick moment alone.
The voice that came next was a short grimy, "No."
Fuck. My heart was racing at that moment. How the fuck was I supposed to deliver this to Kaden if they were all in the room and they were all watching me. It would be impossible. I was about to fail. I was about to fail everything.
Shin followed up with a cold, "You guys only have a few minutes before you separate. Maybe this will put a fire under your ass Billy. Maybe you'll notice how much you miss Kaden and you will convince your father to sacrifice himself to return him to you.
Kaden turned back to me. His eyes smiled at me even without his lips moving.
Kaden pulled me to the other side of the room.
It wasn't even much more privacy. They could still hear what we were saying. They were still staring at us.
"Have you talked to dad?" Kaden stated.
I nodded, "Yeah."
I stared back over at them, "I can't..."
I couldn't tell him anything about my conversations with dad in front of the enemy.
Kaden nodded at that moment, "You're right. Don't. Maybe Shin is right too. We just have have a few more minutes left. I don't want to waste it on anything besides you."
"Look Kaden. I'm sorry for...you know...leaving you."
"I don't blame you," was his reply.
I wanted to tell him all about Vino betraying me. Come to think of it, Vino was the one who had pulled me off of that fucking space station before I had the chance to locate Kaden. Maybe it was Vino's task to keep us separated this entire time just like Shin was. They didn't trust Kaden and I together. Even now their eyes betrayed them. They may not have thought I was a threat but the idea of me alone with Kaden was something that they just didn't seem to really like at all.
"Have you been ok?"
Kaden let out a smile. It was one of those beautiful smiles that drove me crazy, "I mean, besides feeling like a piece of me is gone. I guess I've been great."
"I felt the same way."
"You remember the day you got abducted at all?" Kaden asked.
I nodded, "Like it was yesterday."
Kaden smiled at me. He was running his hand across the sides of my cheek. His hand was so warm. I could feel him all over me. He was sending shivers up my spine.
"I had the chance to go to New York but as soon as I was packing up I had the same feeling as I had before. I had that feeling that something was missing," Kaden stated, "That's why I cancelled the job. I couldn't go start a new life without you. Because I knew where I wanted to be even back then. You know?"
"Like...because we were close."
Kaden shook his head, "Man. I was in love with you."
I noticed Shin looking at us. He looked upset. I could see antlers poking out of his forehead almost immediately. He wasn't good at hiding his emotions especially with the antlers growing. At this moment it wasn't even about making Shin feel like shit though. It wasn't about the mission. It was just about Kaden and me.
And in the next few minutes I almost forgot that anyone was in the room.
"How long did you feel that way?"
"Always," he stated, "I know I was your adopted brother. You know. I always knew we weren't related by blood. I guess that's why I let myself fall so deep. I guess I hesitated still because I just assumed that you were so...perfect."
I had to laugh at that moment.
Kaden laughed, "Yeah. I thought you were the shit."
"You guys are perfect. Humans are the ones with the flaws."
"That's the thing. The flaws is what makes you perfect," Kaden stated, "I loved the fact that you break out in acne. I like the fact that you get tired as hell after running about three blocks. I like the fact that you are passive-aggressive at times. I like the scares. I love the wrinkles. I love everything about you that makes you human."
My heart raced.
"I can't do this..."
Kaden looked at me confused.
"You can't do what?"
I wasn't talking to him. I was talking to my father. I was talking to my father on the other end of the line. The world was expecting me to give Kaden a device that would blow up the Queen. The entire planet was expecting me to sacrifice my the person I loved for them.
And I couldn't fucking do it.
The voice came in my ear, "Billy..."
"I said I can't fucking do this," I repeated.
Kaden looked over at me. He let go of my hands. There was this look of disappointment on his face. I wanted to explain it but right now I was just so torn. I was so torn with the voice of my father in my ear. At that moment I noticed Shin laughing. He wasn't the only one. The judges were laughing too as though they had been entertained by my showing.
I grabbed Kaden's hand. I wanted to correct what I said but the judges were looking at me.
"Kaden I didn't mean it like that," I said.
"I thought you felt the same way," Kaden replied.
My father was panicking in my ear. His voice was getting louder and louder draining Kaden's voice out completely, "Billy...Billy listen to me..."
"Shut up!" I was screaming, "SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE!"
More laughter. There was more laughter from Shin and the other judges. Kaden got up at to his feet at that moment. He had this look in his eyes. He was bothered. He was confused. I felt like shit. I had to fix this but I had to shut my father up to.
I was panicking.
I didn't know what to do.
I couldn't handle this mission. I couldn't handle my own emotions!
My father's voice drowned out everything else in the room.
"Billy. You need to deliver it now. You need to deliver it now and be out of that room in the next minute. You hear me?"
I looked at Kaden.
I ignored my father's voice.
"Kaden...let's talk. Let's finish talking," I stated.
"I'm serious Billy. Abort mission. ABORT MISSION! Get out of there now! ABORT MISSION! You have no more time for talking."
Why was my father panicking like this? Why the fuck was my father panicking? I couldn't allow him to distract me from Kaden. The look on Kaden's face was like I clearly hurt him. I had to make this right.
"I just want to know how you feel. Now...right now. I need to know how you feel about me. I need to know everything," Kaden stated desperately.
I had never seen such true emotion from him.
"Billy. It's Vino. He's escaped. Your mission is at risk. He's on his way to the space station."
To read the next chapter go to www.crushedcrown.com