Element (Book 3)

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Ch 2 - You Don't Know Her

*FLASHBACK*

“What do you mean they’re gone?” Aziel asked.

“I mean exactly that dimwit. The twins, Elliephant and Jayme are gone, and none of the cameras caught anything,” Malachi replied.

“I take it Elliephant is my niece?” Silver asked.

I nodded. “Do you know where she could’ve gone?”

“I just found out about her Xander. You would stand a better chance of knowing the answer to that question,” she replied.

“Except I think it’s safe to say none of us know the answer to that question,” Zuri said in realization.

I turned to Ayah. “If the twins are your cousins, then that means that Elle is your cousin too and you knew this entire time.”

“Before you attack me, you need to understand that I was told not to say anything,” she defended.

“Let me guess, Margaux told you not to say anything?” Mordecai asked her.

She nodded. “We were together when we found out that Six is connected to Elle, and when we received a photo of her, we knew it was her without a doubt. She pleaded with me not to say anything and all of you know where my loyalties lie when it comes to her.”

“You mean to tell me that she didn’t know that Elle was alive either?” Karr asked.

“No, she didn’t. Look, I don’t know much about this whole thing either, but I suspect that the twins knew all along,” she replied.

“Which would mean they were just acting when they first saw her here,” Malachi pointed out.

“Which also means Elle lied,” Mordecai finished off.

Silence settled onto the room as we took his words in. My mind was reeling, clouded by sheer disbelief at everything that was unfolding before me. She’s my blossom, and I was torn between trusting that, and giving into the side that recently started to question her.

Nothing about this situation was making it any easier to deal with.

“Guys,” Zuri called when we noticed that Nadia was getting up.

She groaned. “I just had the weirdest nightmare.”

“What happened?” Nigel asked her, acting clueless.

“Cypher was raided and then you guys came here to find me, but then this girl who tortured me showed up and you all said that she’s Six’s fiancée,” she explained groggily.

“Adi, it wasn’t a nightmare. It was reality,” I told her.

She looked at me in confusion, but I think upon realizing that I was dead serious, did the look in her eyes change to horror, before settling on fear. She looked at me like she couldn’t believe that I would do such a thing.

Love a monster.

“It can’t be true. Xander, say it’s not true. Tell me that you’re not in love with that beast,” she pleaded.

“I don’t know of the person you speak of Nadia. I only know of my naive and innocent fiancée, who yes, was injected with a super soldier serum, but that’s it,” I said.

Karr scoffed. “Innocent.”

I glared at him, and Malachi knew I was about to lose it. “Karr, cool it.”

“Why? We’re all thinking it. Look, Xander you’re one of my best friends, and I want you to be happy, but even you can’t deny the fact that your fiancée is shady. You don’t know her, and that’s a fact,” he told me.

“I do know her,” I said lowly, my anger simmering.

“SHE’S A SHADY LIAR AND YOU DON’T KNOW HER.”

I moved quicker than he did and managed to land a painful punch before Mordecai and Aziel held me back. I only know that it was painful because my own knuckles hurt, but I couldn’t care. I couldn’t let him talk about the love of my life that way.

Even if a part of me believed it.

“I’ll let that slide because I understand that a part of you is hurt by the truth, but don’t think I’ll let you hit me again for stating facts,” Karr told me.

“You could be a little more sympathetic Karr,” Ayah told him.

“I would be if her arrival didn’t cause so many problems. Look at everything that has happened since she entered Xander’s life. You can’t tell me that you don’t see the pattern,” he said.

They had to hold me back once more. “You can’t blame her for everything. Some of this shit we were already dealing with before she was in the picture.”

“True, but look at how everything just conveniently started to wind around her and that shady brother of hers,” he argued.

“Who I still don’t believe is Zero by the way,” Zuri jumped in.

“Same here. It doesn’t make any kind of sense,” Aziel agreed.

Karr sighed. “Do you want me to have a fucking billboard made for you to get it?”

“Fine! Say your theory is correct, how does he leave the country without anyone noticing?” Nigel asked.

“You people didn’t notice it because you didn’t suspect him. I looked into his school records as well as the town’s surveillance, and every time there was a sniff of Zero anywhere in the world, he wasn’t in town. His school would receive some odd excuse, and by the looks of things, they bought it,” Karr explained.

“That can only mean that Mr Solano is in on it and helps him. I don’t see how else he could be able to get away with that,” Nigel argued.

“His mother,” Silver commented.

I’d even forgotten that she was there.

“What?” we asked.

“His mother is the person who would be helping him. As to whether or not my brother knows about it is another story altogether,” she responded.

“What does Viola have to do with anything? Isn’t she like an interior designer or something?” Malachi asked what we were all probably thinking.

“Viola is a former agent who clearly still has connections, but that’s not just it. Nicholas is an even bigger threat than you realize,” she replied.

“How so?” I asked.

She looked like she was deep in thought before she spoke again. “I don’t know much about what’s been going on at Genesis, and I found it strange that they suddenly went as dark as they did. The word around is that they were attacked so severely that they’ve gone underground to recover, but I don’t buy it. I did my own digging and found that I was onto something. They weren’t attacked. They just stumbled onto something big.”

“Which is?” Malachi asked impatiently. Even I was agitated.

“Their founder,” she informed.

“What? That’s not possible! The founder died years ago,” Zuri denied. She would know because she’s their former agent.

“Little one, Gerhard Nolan is very much alive. I saw him with my own two eyes and even had a confrontation with him,” Silver said.

“Gerhard Nolan? Didn’t Karr say that that’s Nick’s father?” Ayah asked, eyes wide.

“And that’s why Nicholas is such a threat. He is the son of the founders of Genesis. I have no idea how everything is linked, but I know that it’s something that’s going to take all of us to figure out. We need to start by finding my niece. She seems to be the key to everything,” she said.

“Except she’s not going to be found unless if she wants to be,” Mordecai pointed out.

I sighed. “I hate to say it, but he’s right. The fact that the twins and Jayme are gone can only mean they left with her. They’ll probably link up with Franco and Nick and quite frankly, they’re an unbeatable team, especially if it turns out that Nick really is Zero because Zero is good at what he does.”

“That may be so, but we still need to try. With Margaux gone, the agency is already at its weakest point ever. We need to stand united now more than ever,” Silver argued.

“Without Franco or Jayme, it’s going to take a while to get this place up and running again,” Aziel commented.

“So where do we begin?”

***

It took three weeks to get Cypher looking the closest to normal. We’d held a Great Memorial for the fallen lives, and I still hadn’t heard anything about my fiancée or her siblings for that matter. We spotted Franco somewhere in Argentina, but by the time we arrived there, the trail had gone cold.

Our resources had taken a hit, and we’d had to resort to calling in favours from connections without alerting our enemies of our downfall. We were only attacked once, and we managed to hold our own without losing any lives.

Our biggest saving grace has to be Zuri. With everything she inherited from her father, as well as her connections through Genesis as well, we’ve been able to get our hands on some much needed tech. We’re not at a hundred, but we’re close enough.

When the government sector that we work for found out about the attack on us, and Margaux’s kidnapping, they were wary of continuing to use our services, until Silver reminded them that we’re the best as what we do.

And they would do well to remember how much we’d done for them.

Everything settled down after a month, and it was time to go to college. Since nothing was happening, Silver figured we should attend college anyway. We had to tell our civilian friends that blossom and Nick are MIA.

Fitting in at Harvard was pretty easy to do, and unfortunately, I shot to popularity real quick because of my football skills. I was made captain when the existing captain injured his leg. Surprisingly even the older guys on the team were ok with that decision.

I’ve received special treatment on many levels, and everyone on campus knows who my friends and I are. We still go by numbers, which absolutely fascinates them to no end. I haven’t been the easiest person to deal with, but people will put up with anything to kiss ass.

“The chip is on the move, but according to intel, it’s still in Vlankoff’s possession. Judging from the direction they’re moving, they must be headed to the abandoned warehouse that used to belong to The Dragons,” Zuri informed me as I strapped my guns to my thighs.

“ETA?” I asked. It was our first real lead in three months.

“Twenty minutes if you take your bike. Back up will follow you, but will obviously be slightly slower, so try and stay alive,” Ayah told me.

I smirked, grabbing my swords. “When have you known me to die?”

“This isn’t funny Six. There are new kids on the block and we still haven’t fully analyzed them, so be careful,” Nadia scolded.

Women and their worry.

Nonetheless, I promised them that I’d be safe. I headed out to my bike and got on my way, with the system in the helmet showing me where to go. I’m not a big fan of motorcycle riding, despite doing it for the past twelve years.

I was whizzing through the streets when I noticed a cloud of smoke ahead. Well aware of the fact that it was in the same direction as the warehouse, I sped up and arrived to a burning building. I parked my bike when I noticed a figure on the ground ahead.

“Guys, the warehouse is on fire,” I alerted the team.

“We know. The satellite images already picked that up. We’ve sent a team after the tracker still. I’m working on finding you a shortcut so that you catch up,” Karr replied.

“What do you see around you?” Nigel asked.

“Vlankoff seems to be the only survivor, and whoever attacked him sliced his arm clean off and clearly grabbed the chip,” I replied, noticing the arm.

“We’re sending in a medical team. In the meantime, see if you can get anything from him,” Nigel instructed.

“Copy that,” I replied before heading to the man.

He was barely breathing, and he’d definitely lost a lot of blood. “Vlankoff.”

“She took it, so you may as well finish me off right now,” he spat.

“Not happening! You’re going away for a while,” I told him as I took off my jacket to put on his wound.

“I’d rather die than be captured by you people,” he said, clearly in pain.

“Not that I care or anything. What can you tell me about the person who did this to you?” I asked.

“She’s a monster. I’ve never seen anything like her,” he said, panicked.

I applied pressure on his wound, making him scream out. “Tell me specific details.”

“She’s short with red hair, blue eyes and a British accent,” he informed.

So she’s not my fiancée.

“Guys, am I good to move?” I asked back at HQ.

“I’m sending instructions to your GPS as it is. You should be caught up in forty five minutes,” Karr replied just as I heard the sirens coming.

“Do me a favour and stay alive asshole,” I told Vlankoff before leaving him and getting onto my bike.

I followed the GPS, whizzing through traffic, until finally I saw the convoy of cars on her tail. I was joined by two more bikes and we sped up to catch up with the convoy just as the bike sped up even more.

I was about to follow suit when I heard the distinct sound of a fighter drone. Before I knew it, it was shooting at us. By now, the SUVs and the cars were way behind, but civilians were in danger because the drone wasn’t shooting at us, but at them.

We managed to speed up and get it away from them before I shot the thing down. The bike took a sharp exit and we followed suit, only for her to turn and shoot the two riders I was with. I couldn’t look back to see if they were ok or not because I was too close to her.

She unexpectedly went to what I’m assuming was her highest speed, and I had to do the same if I hoped to keep up, but I also had to think of a plan, and fast. I reached for the button on my bike, swerving slightly to the side so that I could aim perfectly, before shooting the contraption at her.

It hooked onto her back wheel, bringing her bike to a halt as she was flung a distance away from it. We were in a dark street but I could still see her as I parked my bike. I watched her get up before popping her shoulder back into place.

The girl’s got guts.

I walked towards her, ready for a fight, and she didn’t look like she’d be standing down. One thing that I did notice was her height. She’s more or less blossom’s height, though the heeled boots she was in were throwing me off a little as I walked up to her.

I tapped the side of my helmet, activating the voice modulator. “Hand over the chip.”

“Come and get it,” she replied without so much as a pause.

Without Vlankoff’s intel, her voice modulator would’ve thrown me off.

I didn’t have time for this, especially considering knowing what the chip would be used for in the wrong hands. My orders were to get it at all costs, and if it meant fighting this chick, then fight her I would.

Not that she made it an easy feat.

Something in my mind was tingling the more we fought. When we went on five minutes fighting, I realized that I didn’t know this fighting style, but that I could keep up with it because there was something familiar about it.

She made an irritated sound before withdrawing her swords. I grabbed my baton in time and once again kept up with every attack she threw at me. What I didn’t expect is the discovery I made. If there’s one thing I know about sword fighting, it’s that it doesn’t matter who you work for; your sword fighting will always be the same.

I was in a fight with my fiancée.

I obviously didn’t want to harm her, but I needed the chip, and she was clearly not intent on giving it back to me. It was also evident that she hadn’t picked up that she was actually fighting with me, which I could use to my advantage.

I was about to hit her shoulder to get her to give up, when I was shot with an arrow to the shoulder.

“Sorry I’m late babe. I got a bit held up,” a new voice joined us. I couldn’t get a good look at the guy.

“You’re risking your identity,” she told him, the voice modulator still on. I tried to get a good look at him, but I just couldn’t.

I pulled the arrow out of my shoulder and was about to attack when a second arrow was shot my way. My vision, as well as my hearing was getting fuzzy from the pain coming from my shoulder and chest as I went down. I would’ve probably survived the first arrow, but I wasn’t prepared for the second.

I could hear them talking, but I couldn’t make out the words. I tried to pull the arrow out of my chest, but it felt different to the one that had hit me in the shoulder, so I realized that I probably shouldn’t tamper with it.

I heard a car drive away just as more cars and motorcycles were approaching. “Guys, they got me.”

And that’s the last thing I managed to get out before giving into the darkness.

I woke up in the infirmary back at the safe house we were occupying. I was staying here with Mordecai, Malachi and Aziel. Everyone else was at HQ. We’d heard word about the chip and figured that the whole team didn’t need to come along.

“Take it easy,” Malachi told me as I tried to sit up.

“What happened?” I asked.

“You were shot in the chest with an arrow, but it luckily missed most of your vital arteries. They were able to get it out, but you’re benched for the next three weeks at best because we all know you’re not going to stay down any longer than that,” Aziel informed.

His words sparked my memories. “It was her.”

“Her who?” Mordecai asked.

“It was blossom. I just know it,” I said.

“No offence bud, but it couldn’t have been Elliephant. Why would she have gone for the chip?” Malachi asked.

“I know it sounds crazy, but I fought her. I’ve trained with her enough times to know how she fights. Also, she sliced Vlankoff’s arm off. I’m telling you that it’s her. The super soldier side of her enjoys inflicting pain like that,” I replied.

Aziel looked unsure. “How do you know that?”

“We witnessed it when we fought The Dragons, and she confessed it to me. I just didn’t say anything because she asked me not to. That side of her scares her, and I wasn’t about to make a big deal out of it and make her uncomfortable or a test subject,” I snapped.

“Alright, calm down. We’ll let the guys back at HQ know, and we’ll see what they come up with. The tracker on the chip died out just after you checked in, so we’ve lost it, but I’m sure Karr’s on it,” Mordecai informed.

I could only nod before they gave me food and pain medication. As much as I wanted to focus on anything else, my mind kept travelling back to the events that had transpired. I couldn’t stop going over Vlankoff’s words.

She’s short with red hair, blue eyes and a British accent.

None of those attributes fit my fiancée, but everything else fit to the tee. I may be wrong about it being her, but I highly doubt that I am. I know Noelle like the back of my hand, even if our current situation doesn’t back me up.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that I strongly believe that she’s my soulmate or not. I didn’t think I’d ever be the kind of person to believe in such to begin with, but when you know, then you just know.

And evil and enemies aside, I know my blossom.

“Karr’s still working on tracking the chip, and we’ve alerted HQ of your suspicions, which Zuri is looking into. Since there’s not much we can do now, we’re heading back to school,” Aziel notified, to which I nodded.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Numb,” I mumbled.

He sighed. “And emotionally?”

“Same,” I mumbled.

“You’re hanging onto the side you know of her,” he said knowingly.

“There are a million things I question in my life without a doubt, and obviously they recently have to do with things I don’t understand about this entire situation, but I know my fiancée Aziel. I know who she is inside, and that’s the person I’m going to fight to get back. I don’t care who has anything to say about that, and I will be damned before anyone hurts her because someone is playing puppet master with her,” I said strongly.

“You know that we’re brothers through everything, so I’m with you. Just know that not everyone feels that she’s worth it though,” he pointed out.

“Do you think she is?” I asked him.

He sent me a small smile. “I think she brings out the best in my brother, and if he believes that she’s worth it, then I’m on board with that.”

And that’s all I need.

When I look back at my life, Aziel and Silver are the two people who have truly been in my life the longest, but Aziel more. The shit he and I have been through is more traumatic than anyone will ever know, so if he stands by me, then I don’t need anyone else. I can face the world with just him.

We left, heading back to school. I had a test that I was writing in a few hours that I hadn’t even studied for. I was struggling between studying and resting, but I figured I could rest after the test, so I spent the whole flight back studying.

By the time we landed, I had an hour before the test, so I headed back to my room to take a painful shower. When I was done, I didn’t expect to find Malachi in my room. He was holding a letter, and he had a scowl on his face.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

“It would seem you’re finally getting a roommate,” he commented. I hadn’t had one in the two months I’d been here.

“Think it’s an agent?” I asked.

“Given the fact that you haven’t been assigned one this entire time, means someone pulled some serious strings to get in with you,” he hinted.

“I guess we should’ve seen it coming. My stuff is all well hidden so even if he searches the place in my absence, he won’t find anything, and he wouldn’t risk killing me in my sleep,” I argued.

He laughed. “Not that he’d be able to since you’re weirdly alert, even in your deepest sleep.”

“Exactly! We’ll deal with the situation at the time. For now, I say we just move on with our everyday lives,” I said.

“Alright! Are you ready for the test?” he asked as we walked out. We were joined by Mordecai on our way out of the building.

“I am. What are you doing here?” I asked Mordecai.

He showed me a box. “Needed to fetch this from Alac.”

I nodded and the conversation ended there. I went my own way, heading to my class. I walked passed a short girl with red hair and I had to do a double take, but when I looked back, she’d already vanished.

I’m going to lose my mind.

Understanding that I couldn’t get distracted, I used my agency training to clear my mind and focus on my test. It turned out to be a breeze and I was the first person done. My professor gave me a sceptical look when I handed in my paper, but I was confident of my answers and I wasn’t going back on them.

I left the building with the intention of heading back to my room to rest, but something felt off. I knew I was being followed without a doubt, but I was curious about why I was being followed to begin with. Last I’d checked, with my fiancée aloof, Cypher still recovering and my new environment, I hadn’t brought any attention to myself.

And Black hadn’t been a problem either.

I clicked on the button on my watch, alerting the twins to meet me in my room. I was hoping my new roommate wouldn’t be there because I had to deal with these people following me without any witnesses and civilians around.

I turned around the corner of the building, testing to see if they would follow me, and they did. I headed all the way up to my room. The twins had just walked in, leaving the door open behind them. I walked in, and as I predicted, the two people following me entered after me. Mordecai closed the door before they could even blink.

They didn’t look the least bit fazed though. The girl is model worthy in all her fitness glory. Her long, black hair was in a single braid down her back, while she wore skinny jeans, a tank top and sneakers. Her eyes were mysterious and I couldn’t get a read on her.

The guy didn’t look all that intimidating, but then again, I could say the same about Nick and I found out that he’s Zero, as much as I am yet to believe it. The guy has blonde hair with dark and almost calculating eyes. It was difficult to pinpoint him too.

“Who the hell are you and who sent you?” I asked them.

“None of your questions are relevant right now. We need your help,” the guy said. I was automatically irked by his dismissive manner.

I crossed my arms. “And why would I help you?”

“Because both you and Elle’s lives are in danger if you don’t,” the girl replied.

Elle? As in my fiancée?

“Elliephant is alive?” Malachi asked, but there was something to his tone.

The guy nodded. “She is, but she needs your help.”

“When Bridge said she saw her yesterday, I thought she was being delusional,” Malachi commented.

And he failed to tell me this.

“Where is she?” I questioned our ‘guests’.

“Here on campus,” they replied.

“So she hasn’t even bothered coming to find us?” Mordecai asked.

“It’s complicated,” the girl replied.

I reserved my comment and instead asked. “And what exactly is it that you need me to do?”

“We need you to make her fall in love with you again.”

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