Element (Book 3)

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Ch 16 - Enemies and Allies

“I suggest we head back to HQ. Besides having access to better tracking tech there, I’m pretty sure Silver has a mission for us by now,” Nigel suggested.

“And what do the rest of us do since we can’t exactly come with you?” my brother asked.

I shot Franco a look and he nodded, sighing. “Anyone who isn’t welcome at Cypher Headquarters will stay at my place while the Cypher people do what they need to.”

“So that’s Storm, Nick, Jayme, Thales, Carter, Winter and myself?” Drayfus asked. Winter had arrived an hour ago.

“Pretty much. Speaking of which, where’s Storm?” Nick asked.

“She headed out for some air after Nadia said something that angered her,” Kenya informed.

“Why do you insist on causing trouble?” Jayme asked Nadia.

Nadia rolled her eyes. “I didn’t even say anything offensive. I just wanted to know why Nigel was avoiding her.”

“Why areyou avoiding her?” Carter asked him.

“I don’t know what to say to her. The last time we spoke, she made it very clear that she was sick and tired of me wanting to help her and that I should leave her alone,” Nigel replied.

“You do know that she didn’t mean it right?” Kenya asked him.

He sighed. “With Storm I never know.”

I didn’t blame him. I’ve come across many different personalities in my life, but I am yet to come across one like Storm’s. She’s probably the most complicated person I know, and the even sadder part is that I genuinely think that not even she knows who she is or what she wants out of life.

I don’t know what her relationship with blossom is truly about, but from what I’ve gathered from Carter, the four of them, with Winter included, go way back. A part of me really wishes we could have an accurate layout of blossom’s life.

I’m getting anxious from all these plot holes and misguided information.

“Has anyone alerted Silver that we’re coming?” Malachi asked.

“I’ve just called Karr now. Silver’s been in the vault for two days now, but he said he’d pass on the message. We’ll just have to see when we get there,” Mordecai informed.

“We’re leaving in thirty minutes, so everyone get ready,” I told them.

They all agreed and started packing away their stuff while I headed to my room to change. The pain from my wound was giving me one hell of a headache, but I refused to let it stop me from going after blossom. I was looking for the pain killers when Aziel walked into the room.

“Here you are. I found them in my bag with a note from Elle. She asked that I take care of you,” he said, handing me the bottle.

“How did she manage to leave without being seen?” I questioned.

“Honestly, I think we were all too focused on trying to understand the new information on the drive. Speaking of which, how are you feeling?” he asked.

“You mean after finding out that she’s tried to kill me multiple times before?” I asked, to which he nodded.

“I don’t know if we’re being honest. I think the hardest part for me is understanding why she didn’t succeed. Something tells me that if she really wanted me dead, I would be,” I replied.

He raised an eyebrow. “You think she’s been protecting you?”

“I don’t know. She first tried to kill me when I was eleven, which is eight years ago. I didn’t know her then, and still I believe that if she wanted me dead, I would be. Something just doesn’t add up here,” I told him.

“Now that you lay it out like that, I guess it makes sense. However, we’re not going to get answers from each other. We need to get out there and get some answers from people and places that actually have them. Do you even know what our starting point is?” he asked.

I shrugged. “Laying out a mission plan has never been my strongest suit, but I don’t know if Nigel is up to it either. The next best person to do it would be Kai since I know you hate doing it, but I’m also not entirely sure if he’s really into helping out with this.”

“We’re brothers Xander. While we didn’t like being cut out of everything by you, we still want to help you. Helping you also helps us, so remember that. Why don’t you ask Nick to do it?” he suggested.

“Are you willing to follow his instructions?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Nick is my friend, and I’m over the whole him being Zero thing. The fact that he’s Zero means he knows his way around a strategic mission plan, and combined with Jayme’s smarts, the two of them are our greatest hope here.”

“I was thinking that too. I just wasn’t sure how you would feel about me asking that of them,” I admitted.

“We’re all on the same side, and while we’re badass, the two of them are just something else,” he said with a little laugh.

“I believe the words you’re looking for are power couple,” Nick commented as he walked into the room.

Aziel rolled his eyes. “I am not calling you that.”

“Oh, you don’t have to. I already know that you’re thinking it,” Nick said, smirking.

I chuckled. “How much of that did you hear?”

“Only the bits about you needing my help to plan the mission; I take it this is an undercover mission?” he questioned.

Aziel frowned. “Why undercover?”

“We’re trying to help blossom and she works for the enemy. In fact, she is the enemy at Cypher, so we can’t forget that. He’s right in saying that this would be an undercover mission. We have to find a way to link our Cypher missions to our side mission without raising any flags,” I explained.

“Before we get to that, we need to layout clearly who is an enemy and who is an ally,” Nick commented.

I hadn’t even thought about that.

“Let’s settle that now before we leave,” I suggested as I walked out of the room.

“You look like a man who’s about to address the nation,” Carter joked, making me smile.

“Nick just pointed out something important that we need to address before we leave. We need to clearly layout who’s an enemy and who’s an ally. As it stands, we’re already a mix of different people, so we need to know that we can trust each other as allies,” I told everyone as Storm walked back into the apartment.

“Isn’t it obvious who’s an enemy or ally?” Nadia asked as she shot Storm a look.

“Are you always this blatantly rude?” Winter asked her.

“I’m just saying,” Nadia responded.

“No, it’s not obvious. It needs to be said out loud so that we’re all on the same page. I think we can all agree that the agency blossom, Carter and Winter work for is the number one enemy here,” I commented, and there was nodding around the room.

“Where do we stand with the BNK?” Jayme asked Drayfus.

“Look, I don’t think that even I know what’s going on there. I haven’t spoken to my dad since I was taken by the Dragons, and I wasn’t home long enough to find out what was going on. However, I know that I wasn’t in agreement with the new direction they were intending on taking, so for now, I would suggest we treat them as a threat, but not so much the enemy,” Drayfus explained.

“Sounds fair. What about the Dragons?” Malachi asked, shooting a glance at the Tsar siblings.

Nigel shrugged. “I know nothing.”

Storm sighed. “As much as everyone sees me as the enemy here, I don’t think I know what’s going on there anymore. My parents sent me on a mission to the BNK, but they sent me in alone. I was barely there all that long when I rescued Drayfus from being assassinated.”

“They’re getting rid of you?” Nigel finally spoke to her.

“What do you mean they’re getting rid of me?” she asked, confused.

“They would never send you on a mission alone unless they didn’t expect you to make it out alive,” Carter said knowingly.

I was thinking the same thing.

“Before you even think about defending them, think carefully about his words. You’re smarter than you give yourself credit for Storm. Think carefully about your last interactions with your parents,” I told her.

She looked hurt. “They wouldn’t.”

“What happened after Cuba?” Franco asked her.

“We relocated to Argentina and tried to pick up the pieces, but we really took a blow from Cuba. We lost more than half of our possessions and relics, and my parents were furious. For the longest time they blamed Xander for what happened, but I wasn’t entirely sure why since he wasn’t even around when everything went down. He was found in the rubble, but I know for a fact that he wasn’t there. They stopped letting me in on things more and more, and before I knew it, we were in alliance with Black. I don’t know when or how it happened, but I wasn’t included in anything,” she explained, while it looked like the realization was finally dawning on her.

They were cutting her out.

“Why attack blossom and I if you knew I wasn’t involved? You were looking for Kenya right?” I asked her.

She nodded. “I was wrong to attack you, and for that I’m sorry. I also know that Kenya had nothing to do with what happened, so I guess I’m sorry to her too.”

Kenya nodded in her way. “I forgive you, but what you’ve just said highlights one major problem that we didn’t even see coming.”

“A new Dragon leader is going to be appointed soon and we have no clue who it could possibly be now that they’ve clearly cut Storm out and Xander isn’t there either,” Nigel filled in the blanks.

“Do you think they’d still appoint a new leader, even after aligning themselves with another organization?” my brother asked.

“The Dragons would never give up their ways, even in the name of an alliance. The terms of the alliance must be based on something to do with anything else but giving up their ways. We need to find out what those terms are, on top of finding out who the potential leader could be,” Storm pointed out.

“You don’t happen to have another sibling, do you?” Thales asked.

“Blayze would never agree,” the Tsar siblings said simultaneously.

“And you have no other sibling? What about another Dragon that your parents saw potential in?” Nick asked.

Storm sighed. “My father is a very difficult man to please, and Xander is the only outsider who has truly ever impressed him. I highly doubt that whoever they’ve found is a member of the Dragons.”

“You think they’d choose an outsider?” Nigel asked her.

She nodded. “Like I said, things were bad after Cuba. They’d do anything to get back on top, and since they were willing to overlook the fact that Xander isn’t royalty, they might be more than willing to elect a strong leader, outsider or not.”

“What if Xander went back?” Franco asked.

“What?” Nick, Jayme, Nadia, Nigel, Storm, Malachi and I shouted.

“Hear me out. They blame you for what happened in Cuba, but what if you went back and challenged whoever they want to appoint? You’d prove your innocence and loyalty to them while also getting us in,” he explained.

“Except he’d have to stay there, and he can’t exactly be a part of any missions if he’s there,” my brother pointed out.

“And not forgetting the fact that I hate those people and want nothing to do with them,” I added.

“Saving the world isn’t about what you want Xander. You told me that yourself,” Franco reminded.

I hate when people play your own words back at you.

“Ok true, but I’m still not going back there unless it’s the utmost last option we have,” I responded.

“Fine! As long as you keep it in mind that that may be the quickest way of finding out what’s going on there,” he said.

I hated that he had a point.

“Jayme said that you and Drayfus were in Argentina? Is that a coincidence or...?” my brother trailed off in question.

“It’s not a coincidence. We were following a lead on the Dragons, but by the time we got there, they’d already relocated,” Drayfus was the one to reply.

Nigel turned to Franco. “So does that make you our enemy or ally? And don’t give us the ‘neither’ bullshit either. Now is the time to pick sides.”

I think we all felt the power in his statement.

Franco nodded. “I’m an ally.”

“So the Dragons are definitely the enemy then?” Malachi asked, to which we all agreed.

“Black is an enemy as well,” Jayme added.

“Without a doubt. What about Genesis?” Mordecai asked.

“Ally for now,” Jayme, Nick and Thales replied.

“What feedback do you have for me from Gerhard?” I asked Carter.

“He’s converted Genesis to be an ally, but he warns that there are people who are not happy about the change. They’ve lost quite a significant number of agents from the change,” Carter informed.

“Rio? Silo?” I asked.

“Silo’s still Genesis, but Rio’s gone rogue. Apparently she’s not particularly happy to lose you to Elle and to find out that the organization she’s dedicated her life to has suddenly gone good,” he replied.

Nick sighed. “I knew the Rio thing would come back to bite us in the ass.”

“Look, Rio isn’t a threat for as long as she’s working alone. We can only be concerned about her if she starts aligning herself with the wrong people,” Kenya commented.

“Agreed. We need to find out if Silo knows anything,” Aziel pointed out.

“Which we will do once we’ve reached HQ. Have we covered all enemies?” Malachi asked.

“I think the remaining enemies are Blayze, the new organization and possibly Hugo,” Jayme replied.

“Hugo?” Drayfus and Winter asked.

“We can’t just push aside the fact that he handed us that drive and it contained a mission for Elle. We don’t know whether he was aware of that or not, and for as long as we don’t, I think it’s safe to assume that we don’t know where we stand with him,” Jayme explained.

“I actually agree with that,” Carter added.

“Alright, fair enough. We’re still sceptical on Hugo, so we’ll just tread carefully where he’s concerned,” Nigel commented.

“What about the twins?” Nadia asked.

“Which twins?” Mordecai asked her.

“Tyson and Tyler? Or have we all just forgotten that they exist?” she asked.

“Tyson and Tyler are allies. They’re Cypher agents,” I said, confused about why she was asking to begin with.

“Cypher agents who happen to be siblings to a psycho,” she retorted.

“Ooh if the honour wasn’t Elle’s, I would so kick your ass right now,” Storm mumbled, making Nick and Thales laugh a little.

“No one is kicking anyone’s ass. Nadia, stop referring to my fiancée as a psycho. I don’t appreciate it, and you’re rubbing people up the wrong way,” I told her.

“You didn’t go through what I went through because of her. I refuse to even be nice about it,” Nadia replied.

Franco raised an eyebrow. “Nick and Noelle saved you right?”

“We did,” Nick was the one to respond.

“Did Noelle go anywhere before that? Alone specifically?” Franco questioned.

“What are you getting at?” I asked him.

“Before you defend her honour, you were in Germany at the time Nadia was in Spain correct?” he asked, to which I nodded.

“I spoke to her a lot at the time, and I can assure you that she was up to something,” he said.

Which sparked something in my mind.

“Nick, didn’t you say she disappeared a lot and would have marks on her arms and neck? You said she was either bipolar or suffering from an identity crisis,” I reminded.

He sighed. “She did disappear for a while, and I couldn’t trace her.”

“Wait! So what you’re saying is that there actually is a possibility that this bitch isn’t crazy and that Elle tortured her after all?” Storm asked. Nadia glared at her for the term she used.

Nick nodded. “It’s possible.”

“As much as it sucks to, I have to add that I still couldn’t decrypt her messages from that time. My father confirmed that she’d called him while he was in Barcelona, but her phone calls to Cuba and Shanghai are still a mystery,” Jayme added.

“She told me that she called Franco in Shanghai and he was the one who had her call an associate of his in Cuba. I realize now that that was a lie,” I said, noting the look on Franco’s face.

“The only thing I can defend here are the marks on her arms and neck- they’re from the memory machine my brother invented. She had to be strapped into the machine, and it didn’t always have the greatest results. She kept pushing through it though,” Franco commented.

“Do you happen to have the results from those sessions?” Drayfus asked him.

He nodded. “I can get them to you to dissect. I can only imagine that some answers lie in those memories.”

“Hold on! So do we all agree then that there’s a possibility that Nadia isn’t mad and that Elle was behind the Spain attack on her?” my brother asked.

I turned to Carter and Winter. “Would it be possible for you to find out?”

“It might be borderline impossible, but there’s no harm in trying, especially because I can distinctly remember Izzy being in Spain sometime in the past few months,” Winter commented.

“Wouldn’t that mean Elle should’ve then recognized him when we were in St Barts?” Jayme asked.

“He must’ve messed with her memory,” Thales, Nick, Malachi and Franco replied.

Figures.

“Or she worked alone,” Nadia argued.

“Just how important is Izsak at the agency?” Mordecai asked Carter and Winter.

“He’s the agency’s best male agent, and Elle is its best female agent,” Carter informed.

“We also believe that he may actually be the son of whoever runs the agency given the fact that he’s the only agent with all access to all agency files,” Winter added.

“Well, we know that he’s a definite enemy. I’d like to think that we’re all clear on enemies and allies, so let’s head out,” I said.

We all gathered our stuff and headed out. A few minutes into the drive, we had to stop at the gas station. Nigel’s car needed gas, while Storm and Drayfus went in to buy food. I was surveying the area with Aziel when my brother came up to us.

“I think I found something,” he told me.

I pulled him aside from Aziel. “What?”

“My facial recognition software just picked up something in Asia. It’s still trying to run the exact location, but I don’t think you should get your hopes up. Just think about how many times it thought it picked something up when we were trying to find Nick,” he reminded.

“And remember how many times it actually found him- we need to think positively here,” I pointed out.

He frowned. “Why would I want to think positively about this? I don’t even want to do it. I’m only doing it because you’re my little brother and I owe you for not growing up with you.”

“You know I don’t hold that against you,” I said.

“I know, but I still want to make it up to you, even if it means doing something I don’t entirely agree with,” he replied.

“Just think about her Thales. That’s what always helps me,” I suggested.

He sighed. “Emotional manipulation; well played.”

“We use whatever techniques we can,” I joked.

“Yeah, yeah! I’ll keep you updated as soon as I have the results,” he said, to which I nodded.

Malachi had just gotten off of the phone when we walked back to the cars. He looked a little confused, and I was curious about that, so I walked over to him. He didn’t even notice me walking towards him.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

He shook his head. “It’s nothing major. I was just talking to Bridge and she said something that’s confusing me a little.”

He was lying.

I don’t know how I knew, but I did.

“What’s it pertaining to?” I asked.

“It doesn’t matter Xander. Let’s just get going,” he said before getting into the car.

Ok, so something is definitely bothering him.

I didn’t force the situation though. He’d come to me whenever he was ready. I headed to my brother’s car, where I was riding with him, Nick and Jayme. Nadia was riding with Nigel, Aziel and Kenya, much to Kenya’s dismay, while Franco was with Drayfus and Storm. The twins were riding together with Winter and Carter.

We made it to the airport and since we didn’t have a jet waiting for us, we had to fly with civilians. We bought our first class tickets, even though the lady at the airport was sceptical when I gave her my card to pay for so many people.

Nonetheless, the payment went through and soon enough, we were boarding the plane. It would take us approximately fourteen hours to get there, and I was relieved about the chance to get to rest.

So much so that I wasn’t awake for any of the flight.

Someone gently shook me awake, and I was surprised to find that it was Nadia. “You must really be in a lot of pain.”

“Why?” I asked as I sat up.

“You didn’t even feel us landing,” she said, pointing outside. We’d landed and everyone was off of the plane.

“Where’s everyone?” I questioned.

“Outside; I volunteered to be the one to wake you up. I wanted to tell you something,” she said.

I rubbed my eyes. “What is it?”

“I know you claim to love her, but I know that you don’t. It’s not who you are. You’ve done a lot of horrible things in your life, but you would never love a monster. I know that you’re better than that,” she said, cupping my cheek.

I sighed, grabbing her hand and removing it from my cheek. “Nadia, I don’t know what else to tell you. I love her. I don’t know of the person you think she is, and I know that you’ll never open yourself up to truly getting to know her, so I won’t force you, but I will tell you that you need to stop trying to come between us, and you need to stop with your comments. She’s dangerous yes, but she’s not a monster, or at least not by her own doing. She will hurt you if you insist on goading her. I refuse to be a part of this, so this is the last time I’m telling you this. I don’t know what my fate with her is, but I know for sure that you and I will never have the fate that you want. It’s just not going to happen. You’ll always have a place in my heart, but only as a sister. I hope you truly take in and understand my words.”

It broke me to see the tear leave her eye. Nadia is not a bad person, and I refuse to let anyone fault her for loving someone who she will never have. That’s just how life is to some people, and she’s one of the victims.

I felt bad, but she also needed to hear these words from me.

“Let’s go,” she whispered before helping me up after wiping away the fallen tear.

We walked all the way to the door, and from the stairs, I could see everyone as we descended. “Guys, where are Storm, Winter and Carter?”

“Aren’t they still inside?” Mordecai asked.

Nadia shook her head. “Xander was the last person still in there.”

“Has anyone actually seen them since we left the States?” Jayme asked.

“They were behind us when we were boarding,” Kenya commented.

And that’s when realization dawned on me.

“They didn’t board, and something tells me that they know where blossom is,” I said, irritated.

“How could none of us notice that three people are missing?” Malachi asked.

“We’re too focused on our current situation, which means they’ve just taught us a lesson. We’re losing sight of the bigger picture and our surroundings. We need to be more aware,” my brother pointed out.

“I can’t track them,” Nick commented, looking at his phone.

“My suspicion is that Elle knows that they’re coming to find her, and she’s therefore shielding them,” Franco said.

“Which means we can only hope that they get through to her,” Nigel added.

“As much as I hate to say this, that will have to do for now. Let’s head to HQ and see what we can do from there,” I suggested.

We managed to arrange transport and the two groups were separated. Franco and everyone going with him left in the one direction, while we left for the other. Kenya didn’t want to come with us because I learnt that she’s actually not on good terms with Silver.

We arrived at HQ and from outside we got a good view of the new building. It was finally complete, and once we were inside, we realized that everything was actually done. Cypher had been rebuilt to be better than before.

We headed up to the floor we knew we’d Karr on, except we couldn’t find him. We looked and looked, until we finally found him in one of the briefing rooms, except he wasn’t alone. I was borderline speechless when I saw who he was with.

“Somebody please tell me that my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me,” Malachi commented, clearly seeing what I was.

“Grayson?” I called, and he looked up.

“We need to talk.”

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