Chapter 25

Marleena could only think of one way out of the mess they were all in. She needed to speak with Kinkade. She hadn't tried to sneak out of the facility before, but knew their routines enough by now to maybe slide out. Her best bet was going to be the loading dock. That was the only area with the most traffic at this time of day. She hoped that she could slip right out. Marleena slid out of her bed where she was resting and opened her backpack. All she needed was her ID and some money to get around. She stuffed it into her pocket and tied her hair back into a tight ponytail. Some of the strands slid to either side of her face, still a little too short to be held back. She wore jeans, tennis shoes that were comfy to travel in, and a green tank top. She slipped on a button down, leaving the top half open. Feeling prepared, she smiled and yanked open the door to the hallway.

"Going somewhere?" Marleena's eyes scanned the hallway for the familiar voice. She had hoped to leave without being noticed, but she should have known better. Ray was leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Just hungry," Marleena said quietly, closing the door behind her. "Got to keep my strength up and all…" She mumbled, heading down the hall. She glanced behind her and Ray was quietly following her. She heaved a silent sigh and turned the corner for the commons area. She felt Ray enter behind her shortly after she did. She made herself busy looking in the fridge, grabbing was looked like some yogurt. She grabbed a spoon and leaned against the counter. Ray took a seat next to the door. "Can I help you with something?"

"Nope," Ray said nonchalantly.

"Is there a reason you're following me around then?"

Ray shrugged, "Just watching you."

"Why?"

"You're up to something." He stood from the chair and started to move towards her. Marleena shook her head and put her free hand out, stopping him from getting close. He knew he made it hard for her to think when he was closer. She needed to do this on her own. She didn't want anyone else to get hurt. She already lost Araina – or at least could no longer hear her white dragon. Maybe it was for the best. She was not very please with everything she had heard from Kinkade and Araina did nothing to deny any of it.

"You're right. I was thinking of seeing the actual sunlight. You do realize that I've been stuck in this facility for almost a month, right? There aren't any windows, so it's not like I can see anything." She moved past him, taking a bite of the yogurt.

"You know why you can't leave."

"Then come with me." She turned to look at him. "This place is guarded like crazy. I don't see why I can't just step out the door and get some fresh air." She looked down, "I am really antsy, Ray. I'm stuck in here and for the first time, I have my thoughts to myself." She raised her gaze, giving him the best needy look she could manage. "Just a few minutes, it's all I am asking for." She watched him think it over before heaving a loud sigh.

"Fine. I know a place, come on."

She followed him, trying to hide her joy as they headed down the halls that she had been told to stay out of. They entered an elevator and Ray used a key card to gain entry to the upper floors. She had never seen how to get into the place since she had arrived unconscious. He pressed the L3 button and the elevator closed its doors and moved up. It didn't take long for the elevator to ding and the doors to open. He stepped out and Marleena followed. She took note of multiple windows and offices that were quiet. It was after the work day and most of the nine to five workers had gone home to their families. They reached the fire exit and Ray opened the door to show stairs leading up and down. They had a short walk up the stairs to the roof. He pushed it open and waited for Marleena to head through.

It was a strange feeling to step out into the evening air. The wind pushed against her face; the setting sun still hot from the day. It was always a little on the warm side. For a moment she relaxed into it, closing her eyes with a deep breath. She wasn't excited about what she was going to do next, but she had to make sure everyone was going to be safe. She couldn't let them in danger anymore… this had to end. Her mother had been burdened by this and her father lost the woman he loved… would he lose his daughter as well? Marleena couldn't let this continue and although she didn't plan on just losing, she really didn't know how the end of this was going to turn out. She just knew it needed to end.

She felt the wind shift as Ray stepped close to her. He hadn't said anything to her and she knew their relationship wasn't that great at the moment. His emotions were like a roller coaster, but maybe it was Ray as a host conflicting with Samil, his dragon. Marleena opened her eyes and looked out at the brown rolling hills. She couldn't see any place that she could walk to if she had just walked out of the building. There was a definite road and she could see a peak of buildings farther down, but for the most part, they were secluded. The sun was going to set soon and it was almost calming to look out at the hills.

"What are you hiding from us, Marleena?"

For a moment, she wasn't sure he had spoken. She turned around and looked at him. His face was set in hard lines. His eyes felt as if they were trying to burn a hole through her, to see into her mind and get a glimpse of what was really happening. "Everything and nothing. If I told you all everything that Araina tells me, I would be here forever. Besides, most of it is just impressions or visions. You know, like leaks of her memories and thoughts. These dragons are so old, Ray… they've lived for so long."

"You're rambling and you know that isn't what I meant."

"There's nothing to say, Ray. Really. Araina isn't even here. It's just me- no one else." Marleena turned her back on him. She heard his steps scrape along the roof and she prepared herself for whatever he was going to say next. Instead she felt his arms slide around her and she tensed. He pulled her back against him, nuzzling her neck for a moment. She couldn't help the shiver that slipped from her body. She felt his breath against her neck before he kissed it lightly. "Ray, what-"

Her words were choked back as his grip tightened around her. He turned her around in his arms and she looked up into his face. She felt a soft gasp escape her lips as she looked at a different person. This wasn't Ray. The look on his face was not one that Ray would make. She remembered seeing this look before. "Samil?" The smile that curved along his lips were soft and almost pouty.

"Where has my Araina gone?" He brushed his fingers through her hair, almost petting her. His voice sounded as if it had an accent that she couldn't place. His power fluttered through her, running along her skin like small caresses. She could feel it searching for Araina, coaxing the power to rise to the surface. Marleena tensed again. Araina couldn't use her power again! Her father's words fluttered through her mind. She pushed at him, putting some distance between them.

"She isn't here." Marleena stepped back, but Samil matched her steps until she felt the low wall of the building against her back. "She's dormant again, Samil. How did you wake up? She thought you were lost."

Samil reached out again, touching her arm and face. Marleena did her best not to react, but it was hard to not swat his hand away. "I've always been here, but something kept me from merging. I felt Araina's call so long ago, but I was trapped." He stepped close again and lifted her chin gently. "The barrier weakened suddenly and I felt Araina's power, felt our dragons. All of us were with her for a brief moment." He leaned in, brushing his lips against Marleena. He whispered softly, "I can taste her, feel her." He pushed his lips hard against Marleena's and she felt his power shove through her forcefully.

Marleena tried to cry out, but it was swallowed by his lips pressed against hers. It felt like her body was being torn through, the power searching for Araina. For a brief moment, she felt her white dragon stir. Araina reached out, her power reaching for Samil's. Marleena could feel the excitement from Samil as his hands gripped her arms, forcing Araina to wake from her slumber.

Suddenly, Marleena felt something slam into them both. Marleena fell to the ground, her hand scraping along the rough surface of the building's roof. She felt Araina return to her slumber and it left Marleena shivering. It was suddenly so cold up on the roof. She lifted herself up and looked over at Samil and what had interrupted them.

"Travis?" Marleena quietly spoke, confused by his presence.

Samil's hand whipped out, "No." The accent was heavy on that one word. Marleena looked at Travis again and the soft smile that curved along his lips paled Marleena.

"The King of Dragons." Travis said mockingly. "You broke through my spell. I thought for sure you would never wake up… I put the most effort into your seal. Not even Araina could see that the process had been tampered with."

"Kinkade…!" Marleena slowly stood, her eyes glancing at the door leading back to the stairs.

"Did you really think I would send back two empty hosts? Only one would need to work. Stupid girl." It was strange hearing Travis' voice, but Kinkade's words. Samil's power was suddenly making the air thick and heavy. Ray had power, but not like this. His entire body was vibrating with power, black wisps of power fluttered around the surface of his skin. Is this what it was like when a dragon could use the host fully?

"Now I can finish what we started years ago." Samil's power lashed out at Travis. Cuts along his skin formed and small rivulets of blood dripped down onto the roof. Kinkade laughed, Travis' head leaning back to form the full throat laugh that didn't quite look right. Samil hesitated.

"Fool. I already bested you once. Besides, if you want to tear apart this host, feel free. I can leave at any time."

"Fine by me." Samil raised his hand, black mist forming around it. He reached out to touch Travis, but Marleena grabbed his arm.

"No!" She put herself between Samil and Travis. She looked at Samil, "Travis is a friend! Ray will never forgive himself if you kill, Travis. You can't."

Samil looked past Marleena, his eyes all for Kinkade. "Move."

"No."

"Move," His eyes settled on her and the love he had shown her, no, had shown Araina, was gone. This was a look that Ray had given her countless times, but it was deeper, darker, than it had been before. Marleena felt the fear rush through her, "or I will make you move."

She shook her head even as Travis chuckled behind her. "Please, Kinkade, I promised I would come. Just leave Travis alone." She looked over her shoulder at Travis.

"Very well." Travis bent at the waist, bowing slightly. He waved his hand and a black hole formed in the air. "Come to me now and I will leave Travis alone. He will even wake from his coma." Marleena swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. She moved to walk toward what she assumed was some sort of portal to wherever Kinkade was currently. Samil grabbed her arm and yanked her back. She felt to the ground as Samil reached out with his hand. One touch. One touch and Travis would fall to the ground dead.

"Samil, no!" Marleena scrambled to her feet as Travis dodged Samil's hands with ease. Samil seemed to move faster with each strike and slowly Travis' smile faded. Samil aimed for his head and Travis had to block it with his arms. Immediately his arm began to blacken and Travis yelled out in pain. He shied away, cradling his arm to his chest. When Travis raised his gaze to Samil, it wasn't Kinkade looking through.

"Ray, please," Travis' voice pleaded as Samil edged closer, ready to finish it. Marleena covered her face. She didn't want to see Travis die. She had already seen them die in her visions; she didn't want to see it for real. She waited for the sound of Travis dying, for the sound of the end, but it never came. Slowly, she lowered her hands and looked up. Samil was struggling, his hand trying to reach out to Travis, but not quite reaching. He suddenly backed away with a scream, gripping his head and falling to his knees.

Marleena stood and walked slowly towards Samil's cradled form. She reached out slowly to touch his shoulder. His head shot up and she jumped as a tear-stricken face looked back at her. Marleena pulled him into her arms, "Ray…" She said softly as she felt the soft sobs from him. He had fought back Samil, had stopped Samil from killing Travis. It was the very thing that Ray had feared from the beginning. Marleena's gaze settled on Travis while she held Ray against her on the ground. She saw the smile return to Travis. For a moment, Kinkade had allowed Travis to return, knowing that it would stop Samil. Ray would never allow what happened to his parents happen to his friends. Kinkade moved in Travis' body, standing once more and raised his good arm. He whispered something and Ray went limb in her arms.

"Ray!" Marleena suddenly had the dead weight of Ray against her as Travis towered over her.

"He's fine. Just resting." Kinkade chuckled. "As promised, Marleena…"

Marleena gently set his head down and slowly stood. She walked to the black hole and stopped right in front of it. "Leave Travis now and I'll go through."

Travis sighed mockingly, "Very well, Marleena. But if you do not come to me, I will come here for real. I am sure your father would love to meet me."

"You don't need to threaten me. I understand what is at stake." She watched Kinkade fade from Travis' eyes and he fell to his knees. He cradled his arm to his chest and looked around, confused. His eyes took in Ray's sleeping form on the roof, the surrounding area, and then settled on Marleena.

"Marleena?" He said, confused.

Marleena just smiled brightly at him. She heard the roof door slam open, but she already turned back to the black hole. She heard Elara call out her name, but she was already swallowed by the darkness. For a moment she saw Terisa and Cody check on Ray, Elara had Travis in her arms and was looking at Marleena as they all faded to darkness. They were all safe, they were going to be all right. Marleena felt a peace overcome her as her world became nothing.