Element (Book 3)

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Ch 18 - Weird Phases

“You’re supposed to be dead.”

“Am I though? Did you make sure that I was?” he asked. He was with Karr, my team and I.

“When a person gets shot eight times, it’s very rare that they survive,” Malachi pointed out.

“Rare, but not impossible. I’m a rare case as you put it. It took a lot of work to get me walking, and going through metal detectors can be a bit of a hassle,” Grayson responded.

“They hooked you up?” Aziel asked him.

He nodded. “The best in the business. I believe you know him. He goes by the name Lane Mason.”

“Lane? Why would Lane help you? Lane doesn’t help anyone without getting anything in return,” I pointed out.

“That much is true. I did some work on the side for him, but now that I’ve repaid my debt, I’m free to go back to the life I was living before,” he replied.

“And you thought to come here?” Nigel asked him.

“You don’t want me here?” he asked.

“Are you suffering from amnesia?” Mordecai, Malachi, Nigel and I asked him.

He rolled his eyes. “I’m well aware of the fact that you’re the ones who tried to kill me to begin with. What’s your point?”

“He’s here because he needs our help,” Karr informed.

“Our help with what? We tried to kill him,” Nadia stressed.

“I know that much, but I’ve turned over a new leaf, and the world is in danger. It’s the only reason why I came straight here from Lane’s company. He’s working on something and it’s huge,” Grayson said.

“What is it?” Aziel asked.

“It’s a bomb, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I couldn’t get a good enough glimpse, but I can tell you that whatever it is, it’s a big deal. Production has seemingly stopped and last I heard, he was hosting an investor’s dinner to reassure current investors and woo new ones onto staying onboard,” Grayson replied.

“I still don’t understand what’s so significant about him that you would come to us for help,” I pointed out.

“Are you aware of The Order of Kricxs?” he asked.

“The Order is a myth,” Nadia said, while the guys and I were quiet.

“By your silence, I take it you guys know that it exists,” Grayson said to us guys.

“What about it Grayson?” I asked.

“So, as you know, The Order works with souls and what not, and they believe that the most powerful souls belong to two souls named Raganor and Ellysia, two star crossed lovers. Over time, their souls host great people who end up falling in love, but there’s always one who dies first, and it’s normally in a war of sorts. The two people also always have great influence in one way or the other. Now, while I was at Lane’s place, I learnt that they were trying to figure out who was hosting the souls now. Rumour has it that this is the last time they’ll be hosting anyone, which can only mean that the greatest battle is about to take place, and that’s where Lane Mason comes in. Whatever they have planned, he’s been roped in to lead and create it.”

We were already suspicious of this, but it didn’t make it easier to hear. “Did they have any leads on the hosts when you left?”

“I don’t think so. It is a very wide net to search from, so they’re looking at prominent people in everything and then combing through them. What I learnt is that they found Khalil,” Grayson informed.

At the sound of the name, something in me shook and I was overcome with a great rush of anger. It knocked the breath out of me as I reached for the table. I could feel the familiar feeling of Raganor’s presence, but this time I wasn’t pushed aside.

“Where?” I asked.

Grayson narrowed his eyes at me. “It’s you.”

“Where is Khalil?” I asked, my voice a few tones deeper than normal.

“All this time and you were right under my nose! It makes so much sense now. I’ve always thought you were freakishly good at this,” Grayson commented.

I broke the chair beside me and fear settled in everyone’s eyes. “GRAYSON, WHERE IS KHALIL?”

“I don’t know his whereabouts, or his host’s name for that matter. All I know is that they do,” he replied.

“I’m going to risk my life so that the clueless are educated. So, who’s Khalil exactly?” Malachi asked.

I stood up straight, still being controlled by Raganor. “Khalil was created the same time Ellysia and I were, together with five other souls. We’re the first eight to be created, and we were paired according to love, fame, power and money. Throughout the years, there were instances where the pairs found that they were bound by more than one of these. Khalil and his soul mate Celestia soon believed that they kept getting the short end of the stick, so they made it their mission to destroy the other original souls. It takes a lot of dark magic to achieve this, and they have managed to kill the other four, so the four of us remain. In my previous life, Celestia was the one to end my life, but she also trapped me somehow. I still don’t know how I made it out, but Ravenna believes it has everything to do with Ellysia’s host, Xander’s true love.”

Which means blossom’s life is in danger as much as mine is.

“I have to find her,” I said.

“Do you even know who she is?” Grayson asked.

“You may have come across her yourself,” Karr informed, showing him a picture of blossom.

“Element is Ellysia?” Grayson asked doubtfully.

“Why do you not believe it and how do you know her?” Nadia was quick to ask.

“I know her because I’ve encountered her a number of times before. Ellysia is normally described as pure and goodhearted. This girl is a beast. I’ve watched her tear through forty men alone without using much effort. Not many know her name, but show them that face and they will tell you horror stories about her,” he replied.

“She’s my fiancée,” I informed.

His eyes widened. “Wait, you’re serious? She’s really Ellysia?”

I nodded. “Raganor and I both know it because we’ve felt the bond. Her life has been complicated for the longest time, hence your disbelief, but she is pure and goodhearted. She’s just been poisoned against her true nature.”

“Are the hosts of the souls always the same age by any chance?” Mordecai asked.

“Not necessarily, why? What are you thinking?” I asked him.

“What if Khalil’s host is the same person who has been messing with Elle this entire time?” he hinted.

“Izsak,” Aziel, Nigel and Malachi said.

“It’s a possibility, but if there’s anything our job teaches us, it’s to be sure of these things before we go on an unwarranted manhunt. We need to find blossom,” I stated.

“She doesn’t want to be found, and I don’t think she’ll be easy to,” Nadia commented.

“Nadia’s right. Elliephant is good, hell the best at what she does. She’s either going to stay under the radar, or she’s going to come out in the most obvious way. Either way, she’s not going to be easy to bring back to our side,” Malachi pointed out.

“Are you saying that we’ve lost her to the agency?” Mordecai asked him.

His brother sighed. “I’m just saying that we should tread carefully where she’s involved. We don’t know what triggers her, and we don’t know where we stand with her. If anything, we’d stand a better chance if we found Storm, Winter and Carter first. Maybe they can give us insights on Elle if they’ve run into her.”

“I agree that that’s a better plan. Right now, Elle is our number one priority, but much like we handle other cases, we need to work our way up to her. She’s officially a major player in the scheme of things,” Nigel added.

“The question here is whether or not we bring this up with Silver,” Aziel commented.

“You can’t,” Karr responded.

“Why not?” Malachi questioned.

He stood up and switched on the overhead projector before the most wanted people at Cypher appeared on the screen. “This is why.”

The love of my life was officially the most wanted person at Cypher.

I was furious. “When the hell did this happen?”

“It happened two days ago. As you all know, Silver’s been on the fence about Elle’s existence since she insists that Elle died years ago, so in her eyes, Elle is an imposter. The only person who can verify that this isn’t the case is missing. With Silver in charge and her so adamant on catching her ‘niece’s imposter’, I don’t know how far we’ll get before she realizes that we’re actually trying to help the enemy,” Karr explained.

“You said we. Are you on board with us?” Mordecai asked him.

Last we all checked, Karr wasn’t on board with anything blossom, Nick, Jayme or the twins related. He’d basically written off the siblings and Nick’s boyfriend simply because he believed they were traitors to Cypher.

“Zuri and Ayah showed me the light, and the way I see it, we stand a better chance of survival with the strongest players on our side, rather than them being the enemy,” he reasoned.

He was always a logical thinker.

“So what’s the way forward then?” Aziel asked.

“We need to get the E’s back here and strategize with them,” I replied.

“Is that wise? I mean letting them in on things,” Nigel questioned.

“They’ve proven their loyalty, and I can tell you without a doubt that they’re looking forward to a challenge. It doesn’t get any more challenging than this,” I pointed out.

“True! What are we going to do about Silver though? She’s too good for us to lie to her,” Malachi pointed out.

“Leave Silver to me,” I told them.

“And what about Grayson over here?” Nadia asked.

“Well, Silver okayed him being here, so I assume he’s been cleared to help,” Karr commented.

“So it’s really about finding out which side he’s helping,” I said, looking at the man himself.

“You have my alliance in your undercover mission,” he notified us.

We stayed in the briefing room a bit longer before realizing that we were in a room that was undoubtedly bugged. I sent Jayme a text, asking him to remotely access the tape from our time in the room and delete it. He sent a text back minutes later confirming that it was done.

I headed up to Margaux’s office and I found Silver there. She was on the phone, her back facing me. I looked around the office and there were papers everywhere. My eyes landed on the board she had up on the wall with blossom’s face smack in the middle and strings leading from her picture.

“I was going to tell you myself,” she commented.

“What? That you think the love of my life is the most dangerous person on the face of the planet as we speak?” I asked, still looking at the board.

“It was hard for me to lose her Xander. It took me a long time to deal with the fact that it was my fault. I refuse to believe that this is really her,” she said.

I faced her. “Your fault?”

“The fire was my fault. I can’t go into any detail about how it was my fault, but it was. All I was certain of after that day, was that she died in that fire,” she replied.

“She told me that she was there with another girl and they were holding hands during the fire. Is that true?” I questioned.

She nodded. “That’s why the fire and this whole thing is such a touchy subject for me. I lost my niece and my daughter in that fire. The girl she’s referring to is Kayla, my daughter.”

“I find it interesting that you think Noelle died in that fire, and yet she knows details like the exact one I just asked you about,” I pointed out.

“Serena and Kayla were very close. I’m not stupid Xander, which is how I know that information like that is easy to find if you’re looking in the right places. There are people who know about that night, and some of them are enemies, enemies that could very well be behind this imposter,” she responded.

I crossed my arms. “She doesn’t wear a digital mask, so please explain to me how else she could be faking this.”

“She was six when she died. There’s no way of telling what she would look like now if she lived, which therefore means this could easily be someone who just has access to all the right information,” she argued.

“Ok, even if that were true, can’t you run a DNA test? If I got you everything you needed, would you able to validate her existence?” I asked.

She shook her head. “Because of who she was, there are no records of her. Any last bit of her records was destroyed after the funeral.”

“Wait! You even had a funeral?” I asked, scowling.

“The bodies weren’t retrieved because of how bad the fire was. It incinerated their remains, but we still held a funeral for them. Their records were destroyed by Cypher for safety purposes,” she explained.

I’m not even about to question that bit.

“So what I’m hearing is that you’re risking everything here by choosing to believe that she’s not who she says she is?” I asked.

She sighed. “Like I said, it was hard to lose her and Kayla, but I dealt with it and I moved on from it. There’s no way that they made it out of that fire, and I refuse to have anyone play these sick games on me or my family.”

“You’re not even going to try and believe that she may be real? I mean, you can run DNA tests against the twins’ or Margaux’s or even your brother’s DNA,” I reminded.

“I’m not going to do that because I know deep down in my heart that this girl is not who she says she is, and it pains me to know that she’s reeled you in so far. I can see it in your eyes that you would do anything for her,” she said, actually sounding heartbroken by this.

Except nothing wavered for me.

“Which is why you can understand why I can’t stand behind you on this,” I said sternly.

“I already knew that that was the case, which is why I hope you understand that I will do whatever it takes to put a stop to this madness,” she hinted.

She was basically telling me that she would bulldoze me out of the way if need be- which is exactly what I intended to do if the roles were to be in reverse.

“Then I guess we’re in agreement,” I said.

She looked crestfallen. “I really wish we were on the same side Xander. It pains me to see my son like this.”

“The same goes for me seeing my mother like this,” I said before walking out of the room.

I felt really strange as I made my way outside. I needed to breathe and take in this new dynamic between Silver and I. For as long as I can remember, we’ve always been on the same page about everything.

*FLASHBACK*

“You’re certainly better at using the swords than the sticks, but I want you to perfect every skill of yours,” she told me. We were in the training room at two in the morning.

“Why do you want me to be so good at this?” ten year old me questioned.

“Because Xander, you’re a special boy, and the people who killed your parents don’t know that you’re alive. The moment they find out, I want you to be prepared for anything,” she said.

“That’s not the full truth,” I picked up.

She laughed. “I forget how exceptionally gifted you are at reading people, even at this young age.”

“So? What’s the truth then?” I asked.

She sighed. “A few years ago, I lost some very special people and I haven’t forgiven myself for failing them. You mean so much to me and you know that I love you like a son. The last thing I want to do is fail you too, so I feel that if I train you to be the perfect agent, then I will have at least done my part in knowing for sure that you’ll be protected wherever you go.”

“You will never fail me mom. You saved me remember?” I reminded.

“I know I saved you from a rough world out there, but your future isn’t going to be an easy one my son. Like I said, you are a special boy, and once people realize that, it’s not going to always be smooth sailing for you. I just want you to be happy,” she said, tears in her eyes.

I hugged her, wrapping my arms around her tightly. “I am happy, and you’re the best mom in the world. Never doubt that.”

***

And I meant it.

She isthe best mom in the world. I would be nowhere, hell even dead, without her. When I returned from being taken by Black, she lost it and went dark for three months. When she returned, I learnt that she’d gone looking for Black, but she couldn’t find him.

For a month after that, I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or do anything without checking in with her first. It took a long time to convince her that she hadn’t failed me, and that I just needed to be more careful. Instead, I trained more to convince her that I could take care of myself should anything like that happen again.

I didn’t know it then, but she was clearly telling me about blossom and her cousin Kayla. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must’ve been like for her to go through that, but I’d like to believe that there are some missing holes in her story. We’ve both always been upfront with each other.

So this was a weird phase for us.

“Are you ok? You look like things didn’t go well with mom,” Aziel asked me when he found me standing outside. We’re the only two people who call her mom.

“That’s because they didn’t. We’re on opposing sides,” I informed.

“Well that’s a first. I take it she’s just as distraught as you are?” he questioned.

I sighed. “It’s frustrating Aziel. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this feeling in my life. She means the world to me, but so does blossom. I feel like there’s more to this than she’s willing to share. She can’t honestly be this sure that blossom isn’t who she says she is, unless if she knows something that I don’t. Something is off about this, and unfortunately we’ve both drawn the battle lines. There’s no going back, which means I need to find a way to prove the truth to her before I stand to lose blossom.”

“I can’t say I know what you’re going through, but I’m definitely on board with helping you. It’s going to suck knowing that both her sons are against her, but I’m with you on this. There’s already a lot of controversy surrounding Elle, so to throw in the fact that she may not be who she says she is definitely adds fire to an already huge flame. We’re going to figure this out Xander, and we’re going to do it without losing them both,” he assured me.

I couldn’t help but hug him, remembering all the times that he’s just been there for me. He’s never asked too many questions, and he never cares about any possible danger we could face. He’s just always there for me, and my relationship with him is one of the strongest in my life.

“We’ve got this bro,” he told me, smiling.

“I know, but what about you and Storm?” I asked him.

“What about me and Storm?” he asked.

I raised an eyebrow, crossing my arms. “Are we really not going to address the fact that you haven’t paid any attention to her since she’s come back?”

“I’m not ignoring her,” he denied.

“You’re just not talking to her,” I countered.

He sighed. “I almost lost you over her. I’m not even sure where to pick up from.”

“I’m over it Aziel. I have blossom now, so if you want to, you can go ahead and see if fighting me for her was worth it,” I offered.

“You don’t trust her, and you know how much I trust your judgement,” he argued.

“It’s true that I don’t trust her, but I also have doubts in the love of my life, so how much does that really say about me and my trust issues?” I confessed.

“I guess it’s a chance we’re both going to have to take, though knowing her, she’s already mad at me for ignoring her,” he sighed.

“She’s got every right to be. The last time you saw her, she had just told you that she chooses you and you just left without saying a word,” I reminded.

“Why are our lives so messed up? Why couldn’t we just be normal guys with normal lives?” he chuckled.

I shrugged, smirking. “Normal is overrated anyway.”

We headed back into the building and I texted my brother to let him know the updates from where we were. He alerted me that he, Franco and Jayme were setting up things where they were. It was all systems go as I headed to the briefing room where my team and Silver were waiting. I was surprised to see Grayson there too.

“Right! So it’s been a long while since the six of you actually had a team mission, but the time calls for it. Your mission involves an old acquaintance. As I’m sure Grayson filled you in, Lane Mason has recently surfaced on our radar and is linked to some kind of bomb. Now, the most important connection here is that Margaux is missing, and she possesses the expertise to get this bomb made and completed. Lane is a genius, but not like Margaux, and before he resurfaced, we weren’t sure where to start looking for Margaux, but his appearance isn’t one that we deem a coincidence. We believe that he is involved in her disappearance,” Silver started.

“And you want us to find her?” Mordecai asked.

“Not just find her, but put a stop to whatever it is Lane is up to,” Silver replied.

“That’s going to be complicated considering Lane knows our entire team,” Malachi reminded.

“True, and this is why I need you to think outside of the box with this one,” she said.

“Can we involve the E’s?” I questioned.

She was surprised. “You would willingly work with them?”

“We’ve recently formed an alliance with them, and they’re the people who can probably help us best with this mission,” I explained.

“If that’s the case, then yes, you can. I will make the necessary arrangements for this mission. I need to warn you though. We know nothing about this mission, so you’ll be going in blind. We cannot give you a time estimate simply because we don’t have one. We don’t know when it is that Lane plans to detonate the bomb, or if he’s even behind it. All we know is that he’s back on the scene and he’s searching for funding for this project,” Silver concluded.

While she left to arrange transportation and the likes, we stayed behind and brainstormed around how we would be going about this. We weren’t about to send the E’s in without backup, but we had to be careful about the way we handled things simply because we have a history with Lane.

“It’s been reported that Lane is staying at his Los Angeles mansion and working from his California lab, so you’ll be headed to the respective houses and safe houses there. I’ve alerted the E’s and they’ll meet you there, save for Kenya. I’m not sure where she is. Everything else has been arranged, and you’ll be meeting with a team once you land who will give you everything that you need,” Silver informed us.

We left HQ and headed straight to the private airport. We’d texted Nick and them to join us there because we knew that we were being watched by Silver. As soon as we were close enough, Jayme killed the Cypher signal, giving us thirty minutes to leave before Cypher actually found us.

“Am I seeing things?” Jayme asked, his eyes landing on Grayson.

“Nope!” Malachi told him.

“Do I want to know?” Jayme asked.

“Nope!” Mordecai replied.

“Great! What’s the plan?” Jayme asked.

“We’re leaving for LA and we’ll meet up with the E’s there to put together a solid plan. Silver’s allocated our places for us so that we all know where we’re staying. We need to find a way to keep Cypher looped in, but without them getting everything,” I replied.

“We’ll work on something on the jet,” Nick said, referring to him and Jayme.

We all got onto the jet before taking off back to the States. As soon as we were settled in the air, Kenya and Nigel were cuddled together, Nick and Jayme were doing some programming, Franco and Thales were busy with something, the twins decided to watch a movie, Aziel slept, Nadia was on her phone, Karr was also busy on his laptop and Grayson was reading.

I was lost in thought as I traced my thumb over the tattoo on my ring finger. At the base of the finger were the initials N.S.D followed by an infinity sign. On the side was the word Blossom, and my thoughts trailed over to the tattoo on my chest. I’d finally added the name of the love of my life to that important tattoo, and on that day, we made a promise to each other.

We promised till death do us apart, which is why I cannot fail my wife when she needs me now more than ever.

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