A noise. A vibration. Something new. It broke past the wall of bitter cold caging them in, pressing against them in all ways, trapping them in a waking-death. Being frozen was never enough, though. Not enough to kill them or silence their minds. Their collective awareness couldn’t stretch beyond the ice, but for so long, that hadn't mattered.
Amidst the whirring, a spot of warmth appeared. A tiny, utterly ignorable point of heat. But it was the first they’d sensed in far too long, and that simple fact made it important. Made it noticeable.
How long since they had felt warmth? How long since anything had stood out in their minds as apart from the indifferent cold?
The little warmth, as bright as the sun in that moment, remained motionless as the whirring continued. A point in the dark, in the empty numbness—it reminded them of the flash of starlight from when they traveled through the endless reaches of unforgiving space. It drew them in just as a true star would. When it finally pulled away, slowly sliding down the ice’s surface before leaving entirely, they strained to follow it.
They couldn’t. Not yet.
• • •
It all went wrong rather quickly. Emma was surprised Monarch hadn’t shown up yet by the time the bombs had been placed and they’d retreated to the safety. The explosion went off as planned and she stood at the ready to wake Monster Zero. It had seemed, for one shining moment, that everything would go as they’d hoped.
Only, Monster Zero reared up out of the billowing smoke before she had activated the ORCA. Its three heads shook themselves free of ice as its wings and tails stretched out for the first time in decades at least. Likely longer.
She realized, standing there with her mouth hanging open in surprise and awe, that she would need a different signal since waking Monster Zero up was no longer necessary. As Emma focused on her task, fingers shaking in the biting cold, she absently felt Maddie take a little step forward.
The chopper was warming up. Jonah’s men were muttering to each other and shifting around. Some moved back and forth to prepare for takeoff. Even Jonah had shifted apart from the group, a look of triumph on his face.
So why did all three heads snap in their direction the moment her daughter moved, when there was so much else they could’ve been drawn to? Emma didn’t have time to try and think up an answer, because Monster Zero was moving a mere second after the question occurred to her. Toward them.
Blood roared in Emma’s ears, nearly blocking out the shouting, as time seemed to slow down. Golden lightning arced through the air, and something exploded in a shower of sparks behind her. Snow and ice from the storm mixed with Monster Zero’s ground-shattering steps. Its tails slammed around, sending wreckage flying.
Emma’s breath caught. Replace the icy ground with concrete and the snow with fire, and it was like she was in San Fransisco all over again, coming to the heart-destroying conclusion that her son was gone.
Paralyzed as the past played over the present, the ORCA fell with a loud, concerning crack to the ground, its speakers silent. Jonah was yelling off to her right, but all she could hear was Mark calling Andrew’s name over and over and over.
The ground quaked beneath her and she couldn’t tell if it was real or not, if it was Godzilla or Monster Zero bearing down on them.
Her mind said she was watching Andrew die. Her eyes protested, insisting one of the heads—the one on her far right, the Monster’s far left—was leaning down over her daughter.
White encroached on Emma’s vision, and it wasn’t from the worsening storm. Light flashed—yellow, not blue. The middle head pushed the other away with a harsh, scolding sound, and then it opened its maw and closed it over Maddie.
Emma didn’t see anything after that, as she lost all feeling in her knees, and her head went buzzy and light, and sound grew muffled. Something screamed-cried-died in the back of her mind but the numbness ignored it right up to the moment her eyes rolled back and she knew no more.