“Your move, Nora.” Nyx’s voice echoed through the room. Nora dropped her coms.
“No. No, no, no, no, no! This can’t be happening. This can’t-” Nora broke down sobbing. Her breathing sped up. Her brain felt like someone had put it on 2x speed, thoughts of what could have happened to Val overwhelmed her.
“Nora?” A voice pulled Nora out of her thoughts. “Nora? Are you okay?” Ivory sat down in front of her.
“Okay?! How can I be okay?!” Nora started crying again as she talked. “The only constants in my life since all this started are gone! Wheeler’s gone, Val is gone," Nora paused. “I might never see her again. I even care that Scot is gone!” Nora started shaking.
“Shh, Nora, it’s going to be okay.” Ivory pulled Nora into a hug.
“How can you say that?” Nora pushed away from Ivory and looked up into her face.
“Because I know Val and Wheeler. I’ve known them for a long time. They’re going to be okay. They’ve done stuff like this before, they know what they’re doing. And I know what I’m doing.”
“But how do we even know they’re still alive?!”
“Nyx won’t kill them. She needs them alive to…” Ivory trailed off. This conversation was not going the way she had hoped.
“To get to you.”
“Oh god.” Nora put her head in her hands. She started shaking again.
“Don’t think about that now, okay?” Ivory put a hand on Nora’s shoulder. “You need to focus on something else.”
Nora didn’t say anything.
“I’m gonna go see if I can find any food in the kitchen to make something resembling a meal. Do you wanna come?” Nora shook her head. “All right, I’ll bring you some food when it’s done. Try to do something to take your mind off things.”
“Val, are you okay?” Wheeler asked quietly as he walked over to where Val was sitting against the wall.
“I’m fine!” she said, inching away from Wheeler.
“Don’t worry, we’ll deal with Nyx. It’ll be okay.”
“I’m not worried about Nyx.”
Wheeler sighed and sat down in front of Val.
“You’re worried about Nora.”
“Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s going on with you two?” Scot called from the other side of the room. “You seemed like you were flirting, but then you were really mad at each other….” Scot trailed off with a stern look from Wheeler.
“Val, look at me, Nora’s going to be fine, she can handle herself.”
"I miss her."
“But can she handle herself?” Val looked up at Wheeler, eyes wide, panic written across her face. “Remember what she said about routines? This is definitely not a familiar routine to her. What if she goes back to how she was when she first got on the train? What if her depression gets worse? What if-”
“Val, calm down. She’ll be fine. She has Ivory, remember? She’ll take care of Nora. You’ll see them both again.”
“But what if she’s still mad at me for-”
“I don’t know if she will be, but that’s a problem for another time. And I know you’ll work it out. You both clearly like each other.” He paused to think. “Scot, back me up on this.”
“You’re pining for each other is so obvious. It’s nauseating.”
“Not exactly what I was looking for but probably what I should have expected coming from you, Scot.”
Wheeler turned back to Val.
“Val, everything is going to be fine. Have some faith in Nora, she’ll make it through this and then you two can work out your feelings for each other.”
“Okay.” Wheeler pulled her into a hug.
“But that’ll only happen if we get out of here alive,” Scot said.
“Really, Scot?” Wheeler turned to him and gave him another look.
“See why I don’t like him?” Val asked.
“Hey,” Scot said indignantly.
“Trust me, Val, we’ll get through this. And trust Nora, she can do this.”
“Okay, dad ,” Val said with a smile.
Then she heard the sound of the door opening and turned around to see Nyx Rain.
Nora spent the first few days like that, hiding in her room and crying. Her mood was terrible, but she couldn’t figure out what to do about it. Every time Ivory tried to talk to her, Nora yelled at her to go away. But after three days of this, Ivory got so worried that she didn’t listen.
“I said go away,” Nora said from her spot curled up on her bed.
“I’m worried about you. You haven’t come out of your room in days. Have you even eaten today?”
Nora shook her head. Ivory sighed and walked over to her.
“You need to eat something, you’ll feel better.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Nora, what’s going on. This seems like more than you being sad and scared that Val, Wheeler, and, Scot are gone. Is there something you want to talk about?”
“Come on, Nora. This doesn’t seem like normal sadness. You seem really depressed.”
“Oh!” Nora reached over and started rummaging through her bedside table, looking for her meds. After a few minutes, she found them hiding under her bed. Nora quickly swallowed the pills.
“Alright, I should feel better in about 15 minutes,” she said to herself. “Just 15 more minutes Nora, you can do this.” She took a few deep breaths.
“What was that?”
“You reminded me that I do have depression and that I should take my meds.”
“So everything’s better now?”
“Definitely not,” Nora said with a laugh. “I still feel like shit and I probably will for the rest of the day,” she sighed. “It’ll just be more manageable shit.”
“Alright, I’ll see you in the kitchen then?” Ivory asked, standing up.
“Yeah, in a bit.”
“Well, well, well,” Nyx purred. “Wheeler and Val, and the man I hired to kill you.”
“What do you want Nyx?” Wheeler stood to face her, eyes narrowed. Scot slowly edged away from her.
“I just want to talk.”
“Then what are you waiting for?” Val stood up next to Wheeler
“Ooh, someone’s angry.” Nyx took a few steps towards them.
“I wonder why,” Val pretended to look thoughtful. “Maybe it as something to do with you keeping us here to lure Nora back!”
“You’re the one who broke into my lab.” Nyx crossed her arms and looked at Val.
“We were trying to save people Nyx, remember when you wanted to do that too?”
“I am saving people. I’m just no longer following the lead of that scheming double-crosser-”
“Don’t talk about Wheeler like that!” Val clenched her fists, trying to keep herself from punching Nyx.
“Val! Calm down, you know you can’t win a fight with her.” Wheeler put a hand on Val’s shoulder.
“I’ve made a few upgrades to my since arm we last saw each other.”
“Look at you two, always bickering. And poor Nora, she can’t seem to realize the grave mistake she made in siding with you.”
“She didn’t make any mistakes!” Val couldn’t take it anymore. She ran at Nyx.
“Val! No!” Wheeler tried to stop her..
“Does someone have a crush?” Nyx deflected Val’s punch with ease and pushed her onto the floor.
“Really Val, you know you can’t defeat me.”
Val stood up, trying to look confident.
“What. Do. You. Want?” she said.
“You said it yourself, I just want Nora.”
“Well, you can’t have her. She’s smarter than you think, she’ll get us out of this.”
Nyx laughed at that.
“Little Nora’s all on her own. You really think she’ll get through the depression and sadness of missing you all, and then get you all out of here by herself?”
Val didn’t have anything to say to that.
“Get out of here Nyx,” Wheeler said. “Go run your company or whatever, leave Val alone.”
“You always were such a dad,” Nyx replied. She turned on her heel and walked to the door. “And Val,” she said over her shoulder. “You have too much faith in Nora, she’ll never get through this.” Nyx closed the door behind her.
“Yes she will,” Val whispered to herself. “Nora can do this. She has too”
“Feeling any better?” Ivory asked Nora when she got to the kitchen.
“A little bit.”
“Here, eat.” Ivory handed Nora a plate.
“Val told me you liked it.” A smile spread across Nora’s face.
“Val talks about me?”
“Yeah. She mentioned you a few dozen times last time we talked.” Ivory took a bite of pizza.
“She really likes you.”
"I miss her."
"You'll see her again."
"But how do we get her out of there?"
“I’ll think of something.”