Chapter Sixty-Two

"Get away from my sons!" Laura Spencer's voice rings clearly across the room as she stares into the eyes of Helena Cassadine. "Lucky, Nikolas, come here."

Both boys start to move towards her, but Faison moves quicker, catching Lucky and pulling him closely. A small, sharp blade is held against Lucky's throat.

With a slight, knowing smile, Faison tells Laura, "It would be so easy for my hand to slip-do you know how long it takes for a throat to be slashed?? Or for death to come from a severed carotid artery? I know, Madam. First hand, if you'll pardon the pun. Your husband is dead, along with the other would be rescuers. The best you can hope for tonight is to die quickly and painlessly."

As he speaks, Helena takes the gun from Laura who stands, her anger building. Her fear is, for the time being, banished. "Too little, too late, Laura," Helena mocks. "Did you think that I would have no contingency plans?"

"You killed your own son?"

"Not directly," Helena shrugs. "I laid a trap-poison gas to thwart any attempts at intrusion-and Stefan walked into that trap. Had he not been planning treason against me, he'd be here at my side tonight."

"Mom," says Lucky, anguish filling his voice. "That's Dad on the tv there-the one in the target shirt."

"Damn you!" Laura shrieks, "What is it you want from me? You've killed Luke and your own son! What more is there?"

Helena smiles, and she motions for Faison to put Lucky back into the room with the other hostages. "Tonight, Laura, it ends between us. Of course, I will triumph. You will die." She motions around her, saying, "The three of us, Caesar Faison, Tracy Quartermaine, and I have long been held by our own families as black sheep-the worst of the worst. You know my family, but did you know that Caesar's family tried to have him committed? Can you imagine that torture for a brilliant mind like his? They objected to his having killed a few inconsequential people in his quest for power."

"Go figure," Laura quips.

Ignoring her, Helena continues. "Tracy Quartermaine, one of the most gifted female minds-not unlike my own, but destined because of her gender to be a second class Quartermaine. Banished from her family for running down her son's now ex-wife and leaving her to die."

"How insensitive of them," Laura responds. "Was she behind Lucy Coe's accident?"

"You always were perceptive," Helena nods. "Yes, Tracy has been invaluable in recent days."

"So long as you need her," Laura jibes. "As long as she has something you want or need, she'll be of value. Thereafter," Laura turns to Nikolas who is watching, his emotions carefully guarded, "thereafter, Helena gets rid of whatever she doesn't need."

"And, I don't need you," Helena tells her. "Nor does Nikolas. You abandoned him all those years ago, left him in a place you didn't consider safe for yourself. What kind of mother does that?"

"A better one than kills her own son," Laura flings back. "I tried to come back for Nikolas, and you know it! But you killed my mother as a warning, and threatened to kill the rest of my family."

"You couldn't be allowed to take the heir, the future of the Cassadine family."

"Give me a break!" Laura sneers. "The only Cassadine other than Stefan born without any physical or mental flaws, you mean. You want him only because he's good breeding stock-the same reason you wanted me!"

Nikolas glances from his mother to his grandmother, as the truths come quickly from both directions, unguarded by fear and undistorted by manipulation.

"Oh, I remember it all now, Helena," Laura continues. "You thought you'd made sure that I would never remember-that I wouldn't let myself recall the horrors of what I saw in that castle in the Carpathians all those years ago, but I remembered. Human guinea pigs, sacrifices to your fears of aging and death." Laura laughs, mirthlessly, and Nikolas is numb with horror. "And there's more. Genetic experimentation on twins-you're as bad or worse than the Nazi doctors that you so revered. I heard about the nature vs. nurture experiments."

Laura shuddered and kept talking, "You learned that you could take identical twins-do the names Chamberlain and Collins mean anything to you? You set out to warp the mind of one of them-a long term experiment, you said when I heard about it. But, something went wrong, and the man found out what you were doing. He left the woman and took one of the boys away. They barely escaped with their lives. The child that remained grew up into a twisted man, and the other twin a gifted healer who will carry scars from you forever. Yes, Nikolas, it's all true. For years I've been too frightened to remember-and I'll be ashamed of that for the rest of my life."

"Give it up," Helena says. "Nikolas has been bred to and for power. He knows what's due the Cassadine name and legacy. He knows what is important, and what isn't. You aren't. He knows that you are here because of Lucky, not him, and he'll act accordingly."

"Nikolas!" Laura implores, as another television screen featuring the room with the hostages comes on.

"Watch, Laura," Helena orders. She motions to Faison who clicks a remote device. Another hissing noise, and Laura recoils in horror as Lucky, Brenda, Maria and Reggie, along with the children suddenly drop to the floor. "Your daughter will be brought back to Greece where Nikolas and I will see to her education." She raises the gun, but Nikolas stops her.

"No, Grandmother. Let her die the same way her son and husband died."

Helena, gratified that Nikolas sees things her way, nods. "Very well."

Tears running down her cheeks, Laura lets herself be led into an antechamber next to what has become a gas chamber.

As a door closes behind her, the one to that room opens, and she walks to Lucky who lies still on the floor. "Lucky," she cries softly, kneeling beside him. There's another hiss, and Laura, too, drops to the floor. Hmmmmmmmmm

Stay tuned!!! (Is this a cliff hanger, or what???) Luke, Laura, Lucky, Maxie, Maria, Georgie, Brenda and Reggie all dead?? Nikolas joining the dark side??? Ryan and Kevin really the product of a nasty experiment gone awry?? Hmmmmmmmmm