The Durants Part XII Finale



As she glided over the countryside, all Bionca could see was the carcasses of trees strewn about. Some of these had been caused by herself and her compatriots. However, many beyond their wooden tunnel were dying into the ground upon which they once stood strong. Behind her, she could already feel the lava spurting into the air. “Faster,” she muttered to herself. There wasn’t much time to find and deliver her mother from harm. She coughed as she contorted her body, willing the glider to pick up speed.


Gaia flinched as the cowl was ripped from her head. Blinking against the fluorescent lightning, she found herself in the room of her nightmares. Medical instruments glinted upon a nearby table. Dr. Paget had turned away from his specimen to fiddle with them, humming aimlessly to himself.

“Ah ah ah,” the doctor warned as Gaia inched toward the door. He turned back to her, holding a scalpel delicately in his hand. “There is so much more to learn about your race. Young Brion interrupted us so rudely all those years ago.” Despite wearing a surgical mask, it was obvious his crooked grin was back.

“You’re sick. You can’t treat people this way!”

“My dear, you know I can. Everyone must serve their purpose. My patients’ sacrifices serve all of humanity. Without my work, Taesh could not have progressed as rapidly as it did.” He took a step toward the woman, light glinting in his eye. “Your death will be for the benefit of all, my dear.”

Adrenaline flooding her systems, Gaia crouched before springing onto the doctor. Momentarily stunned, he stumbled and dropped his blade. As he whipped around, Gaia flung into the tray holding the rest of his tools. A cacophony filled the room for a second as they all clattered to the ground. She blindly grabbed the closest object then charged Dr. Paget with a primal shriek. He caught her wrist as she made to plunge the forceps into his eye socket. At the same time, he stabbed scissors into her thigh, eliciting a scream of fury as she fell. She kicked his throat with her good leg after twisting wildly. He sputtered, then pinned her to the ground.

“I didn’t want to have to do this, my dear,” he growled. He was aiming the forceps at her. “But you must be made to cooperate.” His free hand wrapped around her neck and applied an increasing amount of pressure. Gaia’s hand searched frantically for something, anything, to defend herself with. Meeting metal, her fingers wrapped around it before driving it through the doctor’s temple. He blinked, stunned. His grip loosened. The image was grotesque, but he quickly continued his assault.

Squeezing her eyes shut and thinking of her husband and daughter, Gaia again groped for another weapon before seizing the scalpel. This time, she sliced through his jugular. He gasped desperately then fell backwards. She clambered up and pulled the scissors out of her thigh, looking back at the wheezing doctor still with the scalpel embedded in his head.

She spit on his face before running toward the exit, hoping to find the tunnels.


“Gaia!” Bionca shouted into the city below her. She was running out of time. “Gaia, where are you?!” She circled back around and continued to cough. “Mother! Please come out.” Losing hope, she surfaced. “Mom. Mommy, please.”

Not knowing what else to do, she ran to her grandparents’ old home, begging for her mother to be there. Upon reaching the door, she stood dumbfounded before remembering the code Mina had given her years ago. Gingerly, she removed the weathered announcement of her father’s funeral and typed the numbers on its back into the keypad. The wall melted before her.

She flinched as something flew at her face, stopping just short. “Bionca?” Her mother’s voice washed over her ears, together with relief.

“Mom!” She hugged her fiercely. Tears began blurring her vision and she hiccupped violently. “I’m so happy I found you.”

Gaia stroked her daughter’s back. “Shh, shh. Me too.” She smiled against Bionca’s hair, inhaling deeply.

The queen jerked away. “We need to go.” Her wet eyes widened in alarm. “The city center will be destroyed any minute now. We need to get to high ground.” Her mother nodded and they set off through the tunnels.

Upon surfacing, they were struck by a wave of heat. Bionca swore under her breath and pulled Gaia toward the slums. “Bee, I don’t think there’s enough time to get there,” she murmured.

Bionca looked back, her splotched face tear-stained. “I’m not giving up. I’m not letting you die here.” Her jaw clenched. “I have to save you.” The pair began sprinting, though the steady incline slowed them down. The climb up the slum walls was arduous and both lost their footing in their haste. Behind them, the lava’s advance force had arrived. Soon, there would be flames engulfing the city center and all there who had failed to flee would perish.

The daughter reached the top of the wall first. Below her, Gaia’s boot slipped and if not for quick reflexes, she would have plummeted. Bionca held her precariously, tears and sweat dripping onto her mother’s face. Gritting her teeth, she heaved Gaia up. Her balance began to fail her, so she quickly threw the glider onto her mother’s back and pushed her over the edge, into the slums. Panic-stricken, Gaia looked behind her to see her only child mouth “I love you” before falling on the other side of the wall.

“No!” She struggled to turn around, but the glider seemed to have its own agenda. “BIONCA! NO!” Her voice cracked and felt raw. Hysterically, she screamed her daughter’s name over and over, willing her to have held on to the edge of the wall. In her heart, though, she knew the truth. Her family was gone. All that was left of them were her memories.

She collapsed in the middle of a ring of people still crying. “Gaia?” Drake’s deep voice resonated in her ears. “Where’s Queen Bee? She’s not…” He pulled her into an embrace.

“My daughter, my baby…” Gaia choked on her sobs.

Immediately, the atmosphere in the circled group darkened. As if to rub salt in the wound, the message Bionca recorded began playing. With a somber face and in a serious, yet strangely sweet, voice she began addressing the Taeshans.

“My fellow humans,” it began. “For the past several generations, we have been subdued. Our minds, our bodies, and our spirits have been overtaken by the Volarchy. We were fed lies, sent to the guilds to toil, and restricted in our movements.” Mina looked at her twin in pity. She took a few hesitant steps toward her, then hugged her for the first time since they were children. Unused to human touch, Mina was unsure of what to do, but Gaia leaned into her sister, leaking various fluids onto her chest.

“We were not free. Our lives were not our own. But now, we have started upon our path to autonomy. The Volarchy has been crippled by our actions. Now is our time to act. We will find the truth. We will find passion to fuel our work. We will explore and discover new horizons.”

Gaia thought of Brion Durant and of Dr. Devon Carlton. She even thought of Rakowsky and Katie Paget. So many deaths had led her daughter down this path. Now with her own, she had driven her mother to continue her work. Gaia vowed to not let her daughter’s sacrifice for her own safety be in vain. She would honor her lost loved ones by enacting Bionca’s vision of a world where people could have sovereignty over their own destiny.

“Our way forward is fraught with difficulties, disagreements, and, as always, more disasters. Today, we used such a disaster to deliver you from tyranny. You deserve to know the truth. Together, I know we can create a new world. We are now our own masters. We are free to follow our own paths. We are free to be who we are.”


Brittany Teodorski


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