Element (Book 3)

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Ch 14 - Mission Information Uploading

“He’ll be fine Ellie. You really need to put your focus into this. Have you reported back to the organization with regards to the mission?” he asked.

“No. What am I going to tell them Nicky? I didn’t go on that mission after finding out that it was trap? Where did I get this intel?” she replied.

“You’re an agent Ellie. It shouldn’t matter where you got the intel. You need to at least tell them something,” he pointed out.

“Except she has a point. They attacked you guys, and for all we know, they wanted her to be trapped,” a new voice joined.

“Don’t you have a brother to air out issues with?” he asked.

“Ira’s currently busy, so no, I get to irritate your ass,” the second voice replied.

My eyes slowly opened when I heard a crash. “Would the two of you quit it?”

“I need to understand how you’re friends with this devil!” I heard Nick say.

“She’s my best friend and that’s all you need to know. Now would you please refrain from killing her,” blossom requested.

Best friend?

“He’s awake,” Storm told her. She turned my way and our eyes met before she walked over to me.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Like someone who survived death once more. How long have I been out for?” I asked.

“Two weeks,” she said straight faced, before laughing at the look that was probably on my face.

“I haven’t been out that long, have I?” I asked, smiling a little.

She shook her head. “You’ve only been out for a couple of hours. However, you’re not allowed to do anything strenuous. We all agree on that much so majority rules.”

“I’m the only majority that decides what happens with my body, but you’re lucky that I agree with you. I’m not feeling particularly keen on taking on anything right now,” I admitted.

“We’ve already sent your coach a message. We told him that you had an operation done, so you need to be benched for a couple of weeks,” Nick told me.

“Two weeks at best,” I told them.

“I told you two weeks is his favourite time to take when healing. I’m pretty sure even his body is under pressure right now because it knows that it needs to get things going in two weeks,” Malachi said as he walked into the room.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him.

“Kai, Aziel, Nigel and I came as soon as Nick sent us the distress signal. The whole lot of you here clearly have some explaining to do,” he replied.

“Nadia?” I asked.

He rubbed the back of his neck, laughing a little. “She’s on her way.”

“What?” the Solano siblings both asked.

“Look, we can’t stop her from coming. In case you’ve all forgotten, she and the five of us make up a team at Cypher, and lately we haven’t been acting as one,” Malachi replied.

“That’s bullshit. She probably wanted to come only because she heard that Xander’s been injured,” blossom said angrily.

I reached out to hold her hand. “You need to calm down blossom. You know that you’re the only one for me, but the reality is that she cares about me. Yes, she’s in love with me, but Alac’s right about her being a part of the team. We can’t ignore that much.”

“Do I at least get to kick her ass if she steps out of line?” she asked.

I shook my head. “You’ll kill her.”

She sent me a glare before ripping her hand away from mine. She got up and stormed out of the room. “I’ll go after her.”

“Why you? Why are you even here?” Malachi asked her.

“I don’t answer to you, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that I do. Elle’s my best friend, and I know how to handle her moods,” Storm replied before walking out.

“Best friends? When the hell did that happen?” I asked Nick once it was the three of us left in the room.

“The two of them are the only two who seem to know of their friendship, so I don’t know either. I mean, I’ve always thought that Ellie hated Storm, but they apparently made peace while we were on the mission. It’s weird to watch, but they really do look like people who have history,” he replied.

“Weird isn’t even the word I would use, but that’s one relationship that I don’t particularly care about right now. I’m more worried about Nigel,” Malachi commented.

“Has he seen her?” I asked.

He nodded. “He’s been distracting himself with decrypting the tablet. Drayfus is helping him because I think we all understand that he needs to gather his thoughts. She looked a little hurt when he ignored her, but knowing him, he’s probably looking for the right words to say to her. We all know that he’s hid his true feelings about her for the longest time.”

“We need to get Kenya here,” I suggested.

“Jayme already called her the moment he chose to ignore Storm,” Nick informed.

I nodded. “And where’s Zuri?”

“She’s in Bangladesh with Ayah. The two of them are on a mission for Silver,” Aziel informed as he walked into the room.

“Theodore said to tell you that he, Vanessa and Zeya have infiltrated one of the new organizations so they’ll keep us updated on that,” Mordecai added, walking in behind him. Vanessa and Zeya are Vee and Zee.

In order to build trust amongst us and the E’s, we all told each other our real names.

“And what are Bart and Garrett up to in their absence?” I asked.

“They’re working on infiltrating one of the other new groups. Silver said she’ll send us out on a mission once you’re healed,” Malachi replied.

I nodded once more. “Where’s my brother?”

“Out with Jayme. They didn’t say where they were going,” Nick told me. I could see the uneasiness that the guys were feeling around him.

“He’s not going to harm you, you know?” I told them.

“Do we though? How could you hide this from us? We didn’t even know that you had a brother!” Mordecai attacked.

“And that’s just one of the things we didn’t know. When did he get here? When did Jayme get here? Why are they here? When did Storm get here? Why haven’t you said anything?” Aziel added.

“Would you please stop being dramatic about this? You sound like a bunch of upset teenage girls,” Nick commented.

“We have the right to be upset. You and your boyfriend are wanted people, and you have some explaining to do to us, especially regarding Nadia,” Malachi told him.

“I rescued your team member. I don’t see the problem here,” Nick replied.

Mordecai frowned. “So that was you leaving us those messages?”

I was curious about that as well.

“Before I say yes, I need to know what messages you are referring to. Someone’s been toying with my identity, so there are things that I am responsible for, while there are others that just aren’t my style,” Nick explained.

“Did you attack that group of people and then send us a message using the special agent Cypher intelligence code to tell us that you are Zero?” Mordecai asked.

Nick nodded. “I did.”

“Who was the person you were fighting with?”

“Ellie.”

“How did you convince her to go with you?”

“It was a week before prom and she needed a distraction. It wasn’t that hard.”

“She was with me for most of that time,” I argued.

“You thought we went to go and visit my grandfather,” he hinted.

Makes sense.

“Who rescued Nadia?” Aziel asked.

“We both did,” he replied.

“So Nadia was correct when she said Elliephant was there?” Malachi asked.

Nick nodded. “She just didn’t torture her. We killed all those people and then left the message for you.”

Mordecai frowned. “Elle lied to us with a deadass straight face.”

“She’s always been good at poker faces,” Nick replied.

“What about the message on my laptop during the football championship weekend?” I asked.

“What message?” they all asked.

“Someone hacked my laptop, congratulating me on my engagement. When I asked them who they were and what they wanted, they told me that they’re who I lied about and they want justice,” I informed.

“It’s not me. I have no idea what that’s about,” Nick responded.

“That happened months ago Xander. Why didn’t you say anything?” Aziel asked.

“It seems to be a regular thing now,” Malachi commented sarcastically.

“We’re agents. Do we really tell each other everything?” I asked.

“That’s where you’re wrong! When did we get to this point where we hide things from each other? We’re brothers Xander, and we’ve always told each other everything. We all know firsthand how badly things end when we hide things from each other, and yet here you are telling us that we should be hiding things from each other. You are wrong and you should own up to that,” Mordecai told me.

For the first time since blossom’s been back in my life, I thought about his words. What I’d done was wrong, and he was right. The last time we hid things from each other, we all almost died from taking each other out.

I’d forgotten about the most important part- that we are brothers. We tell Nadia most things, but more often than not, the five of us stick together through everything. I should’ve trusted that and not isolated them from the situation.

“Are any of your comms on?” I questioned. They all shook their heads.

“I’m going rogue,” I stated.

Malachi’s eyes widened. “Rogue? Are you mad?”

“Is my sister in on this?” Nick asked.

“Of course she’s in on it. They’d both do anything for each other,” Mordecai pointed out.

“This is madness Xander. Why would you go rogue?” Aziel asked.

“For too long things have been hidden from me by the very organization I work for and I’m sick of it. I want to do my part to save the world, but I also want answers,” I replied.

“Hidden from you? You’re an agent Xander. Of course there are things that you’re not supposed to know. That’s how the job works,” Mordecai reminded.

“Is it though? We’ve worked just fine being blinded by that very lie for the past couple of years, but ever since blossom and Nick have entered our lives, we’ve been hit with blindside after blindside. If you’re ok with not knowing what the hell is going on, that’s fine, but I refuse to stand for it,” I said.

“This has to do with Elliephant, doesn’t it?” Malachi asked knowingly.

“Even if it didn’t, I’d still feel the same. Injustice is the reason why I do my job and love it,” I pointed out.

Nick sighed. “While I was in agreement that you shouldn’t bring your team into what we’re doing, I will agree that you and Ellie are mad. Going rogue isn’t the solution here. You’ll only end up getting yourselves killed.”

“So what do you suggest I do? Sit here and wait around for her to be taken and messed with again?” I asked.

“No. You’re going to go about this logically. You should’ve come to us about this, but whatever, it’s fine. We’re in and we’ll help you wherever you need us to, but there’s no way we’re letting you go rogue,” Aziel told me.

“You do realize that he intends to break some rules right?” Nick pointed out.

Malachi smirked. “We were never good with the rules anyway.”

“Then we’re really doing this?” Mordecai asked.

“Nigel is going to take a while to convince, and bringing Nadia in isn’t an option given her hostility with Elle, but yeah, we’re doing this,” Aziel said.

“We’re only doing this if you guys get over whatever hostility you have towards Nick and Jayme. I’m not saying that you should trust them, but blossom will rip you a new one if you don’t respect them,” I told them.

“It’s going to take a while to get used to, but there’s no animosity,” Mordecai commented, to which Nick gave a slight nod.

“Good! Can I leave this bed now?” I asked.

“Depends on what it is you’re leaving it for,” Nick replied.

“I want food,” I responded.

He scoffed. “Ellie will make you food. Of course that’s if she decides you deserve to live.”

“What does he mean by that?” Aziel asked.

“Elliephant stormed out of here after he told her that she’s not allowed to kill Nadia,” Malachi explained on my behalf.

“How are we going to deal with that situation anyway? We all know how Nadia can be, and something tells me that she’s going to enjoy toying with Elle,” Mordecai pointed out.

“I’m afraid of that too, but she would be doing it at her own risk. I’m going to talk to her and tell her to back off. If she doesn’t listen to me, then I can’t help her if blossom takes action,” I said.

“You’d let Ellie attack her?” Nick asked unsurely.

I nodded. “Like I said, I’ll warn her first, but I refuse to come between them. If Nadia thinks I’m going to save her, then she’ll be mistaken.”

Malachi chuckled. “You’d rather let her get attacked than face your deadly fiancée- smart man.”

“We just need to get Ellie to practice control. She’s still too unpredictable,” Nick commented.

They sat with me a while longer before helping me to get up. I needed to check on blossom, and we learnt that she and Storm had gone out to the gym. They wouldn’t let me leave, so I settled for being taken to the lounge instead.

I’d just sat down when the door to the apartment opened. “Don’t shoot him.”

“Him who?” Nick asked. Jayme and my brother moved aside to reveal the last person I thought would be here.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him.

“My son reached out to me,” he replied.

“What makes this time different?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Things are happening and I want in.”

“How do we know that we can trust you?” Malachi asked him.

“You don’t. You either take a chance or I walk out,” he offered.

“If you double cross us Franco, I will kill you this time round,” I told him.

“Would you calm down? I’m actually on your side right now. I’m not for any of the shenanigans going on, and everything needs to be set right,” he said.

“Got it!” Nigel suddenly shouted.

“What is it?” Mordecai asked.

“We know what the name of one of the new organizations is,” Drayfus said.

“Well don’t worry about telling us. We promise not to get overexcited,” Thales told him sarcastically.

Drayfus shot him a glare before continuing. “The name of the organization is Sigma.”

“Sigma?” Franco, Jayme and Nick asked simultaneously.

“Isn’t that one of the reasons why Izsak shot Nick? Because Jayme was looking into it and something called Phoenix?” Malachi asked.

“It is, but we don’t know what Sigma actually is,” Jayme replied.

“While you were on your mission, we came up with a theory with regards to the new organizations. We don’t think they’re different organizations,” my brother commented.

“You think they’re one big organization?” Nigel asked.

Thales nodded. “Your sister informed us that she looked into old agencies that have closed their doors in the past five years. Apparently someone is recruiting agents from those former agencies, so it’s worth looking into.”

I couldn’t decipher the look on Nigel’s face from mention of his sister.

“That much is actually true, but we first need to find out what is on that flash drive that was given to Elle,” Franco suggested.

“You told him?” I asked his son.

Jayme shrugged. “It’s what we wanted him for. Besides, he happens to have a smaller system on his laptop that can achieve the same purpose, so I thought this would save us having to head to Poland.”

“Good call,” Nick commented.

“I feel like I constantly have to be the one to say this, but whatever. Please educate the clueless,” Malachi requested.

“As you know, Ellie’s memory has been tampered with once more, but Drayfus’ Super Soldier Formula is working on reversing the effects of the memory technology worked on her. Anyway, she received a flash drive from one of Drayfus’ allies, who also happens to be a friend of hers from the organization she works for. We need Franco in order to open it,” Nick supplied the short story.

“Speaking of the lovely Elle, where is she?” Franco asked.

“She left for the gym with Storm,” Nick informed.

“Anger issues?” Franco asked amusedly.

I sighed. “Would you just do what you need to?”

He laughed but didn’t say anything as he set everything up. He encountered some problems and he informed us that it would take some time for him to get things working, so we settled for doing as much research as we could on the new organization based on what we already knew.

“Xander,” a voice said in relief.

I looked up from my tablet to see Nadia and Kenya. Kenya didn’t look particularly happy, but that changed when her eyes landed on Nigel. She beamed and went over to kiss him, with him wrapping his arms around her as he kissed her back.

“I missed you,” she told him.

“I missed you too,” he said, smiling.

“And now I miss my girlfriend,” Malachi complained, making Jayme, Mordecai, Aziel and I laugh a little.

“Xander? Aren’t you happy to see me?” Nadia asked me, still standing where she called my name.

“Hi?” I said, but it came out as a question.

I’m not quite sure why I was being so awkward.

“Are you going to hug me?” she asked. The room was eerily silent, as these subtlepeople watched on.

“I can’t stand,” I lied.

Well it wasn’t exactly a lie since I needed help to stand anyway.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, frowning. I looked around the room hoping someone would save me, but no one seemed to be jumping on board.

“Why do you look so constipated mate?” a new voice joined us, making me breathe out in relief.

“Carter? What are you doing here?” I asked him.

“Came to check on my best friend and to give you feedback on Genesis under Gerhard’s orders. Are you guys having a Cypher party or what?” he asked.

“Who’s this?” Franco asked.

“The infamous Franco de Villiers; my, what an honour,” Carter said.

He sometimes speaks like an old man, something blossom and Winter insist is normal.

“This is Carter, one of blossom’s best friends from the organization,” I informed.

“Nick?” he called when his eyes landed on him.

“Carter?” Nick said in confusion.

“When did you get back?” Carter asked him.

“A couple of weeks back. How are you still alive?” Nick asked him.

“I’m going to guess and say the two of you know each other?” Jayme commented.

Nick nodded. “I entrusted Ellie’s safety with him and Winter.”

“Where is my best friend?” Carter asked.

“Out,” was all I said.

“Well then, what are you guys up to?” Carter asked as he joined me on the couch, walking past Nadia who was still looking at me weirdly.

“We’re waiting for Franco to finish decrypting and connecting an important flash drive,” I replied as everyone got back to what they were doing.

He was about to say something when the door opened once more, and this time it was blossom and Storm. “What’s going on?”

“Elle!” Kenya said excitedly.

“Kenya!” blossom beamed before going to hug her.

“Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Storm?” Carter said.

She too beamed when she saw him before coming over to hug him. “Carter! What are you doing here?”

“I’m here for Elle. How long has it been?” Carter asked.

“Three years,” blossom was the one to reply.

“I’m too confused to ask questions,” Malachi commented.

You’re not the only one buddy.

“You,” Nadia said once she had a full view of blossom.

Storm touched blossom’s shoulder. “Remember.”

Blossom breathed in deeply. “I’m not going to harm you unless if you provoke me.”

“Harm me? You already did!” Nadia spat.

“That’s a lie and you know it. We saved your life,” Nick told her.

“I don’t know what this is, but the flash drive is ready. I’ve connected it into the TV so that we can all see,” Franco informed, effectively breaking up the brewing argument.

We all gathered and he started going through it. The first few documents weren’t really something that we could make sense of, so we just skipped over them until we saw a bunch of mission report files that had ‘Project Element’ on them.

“Aren’t those all the explosions we were investigating last year?” Mordecai asked what I was realizing.

“If so, then all these mission reports suggest that Ellie is responsible for all of the explosions,” Nick commented, looking as confused as all of us.

A still frame of blossom appeared and Franco clicked on it before a video started. “Project Element, mission report KS95OP32. I’ve just come back from Cuba. The target seems to have survived. I have a feeling that someone’s either watching out for him, or they keep stopping me from killing him. He’s my most impossible target yet. Cuba was attempt number thirteen, and still he survived the bombing. I’m looking into a new way of doing things, but I may need to go undercover.”

The video carries on with different images of me popping up in different places over the years. I could only watch in shock since she was explaining all the times she’d tried to kill me. I wasn’t the only shocked person in the room.

And apparently life wasn’t about to give us a moment to get over the shock as the video got interrupted.

“Project Element, Code EL68NX3#T2PK. Mission Information uploading.”

“What’s happening?”

“PEM-”

“Shit!” Carter exclaimed. I looked over at blossom and her eyes glazed over.

“CU-”

“STOP THE VIDEO!” Carter shouted.

“1995-”

“It’s frozen,” Franco said as he tried to click.

“-KILLLV839.”

We watched blossom in silence as she didn’t move for a solid minute.

“Blossom, are you ok?” I dared to ask.

She shook her head before smiling. “I’m fine. You need to be resting.”

“Do what she says,” Carter whispered beside me.

I nodded and got up, heading to our room. She followed after me, and I lay in the bed and closed my eyes. I felt a light prick, and before I knew it, I was out. By the time I woke up, it was morning the following day, and there was a note next to me.

I’m sorry.

Oh come on!

“She’s gone,” I said as I walked into the lounge. Everyone was there save for blossom.

“That’s impossible. No-one saw her leave,” Mordecai said.

“She’s good at leaving without being noticed,” Nick commented.

“Are you going to finally tell us what’s going on with her?” Storm asked Carter.

I raised an eyebrow. “He wouldn’t tell us without you.”

“They just sent her on a mission,” Carter said, frustrated.

“What?” Jayme, Nick, Thales and I shouted.

“I’ve only seen it happen once. I think it’s how they control her. They say her name and code, before they give her a pre-programmed mission. She then goes off to do whatever they want her to do,” he explained.

“Is there any way of finding out what she’s about to do?” I asked.

“I went through the flash drive once it unfroze and the only thing that comes up here is a mission to do with blowing up a city,” Franco informed.

“We need to be sure before we do anything,” Nick commented as I walked over to my mission bag.

“Where are you going? You’re too injured to be going anywhere,” Jayme told me as I strapped on my guns.

“She left in the middle of the night, and if the past is anything to go by, letting her leave is not an option. I am going to find her,” I told him.

“Look, finding out that she’s tried to kill you more times than you can count isn’t something anyone wants to hear about their lover, but are you sure about this? She left for a reason,” my brother pointed out.

“That’s exactly why I’m going after her. She’s either feeling guilty or she’s about to do something in the name of the organization and I refuse to let her go down that path,” I replied.

“I’m coming with you,” Malachi said as he got up.

“We all are. After all, we have a city to save from destruction. Ellie cannot blow up a whole city.”

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