Element (Book 3)

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Ch 22 - Alojzia and Alexander Demetriou

*FLASHBACK*

I watched her moving with the swords. She was moving at a pace that was borderline unbelievable, and yet she was handling it with a grace I could only match with a wild cat. I accidentally knocked into the corner of the table, breaking her concentration. One of the blades just about missed her.

Her eyes caught mine and I was captivated. She raised an eyebrow at me and I smirked at her. She looked even more beautiful as she blushed before beckoning me over to her. I headed there and grabbed two swords.

“Do you know how to handle those?” she asked me. Her voice was smooth and strong, despite her small size.

“I don’t know. Let’s find out,” I challenged before going for her.

We fought for hours, changing techniques and weapons. For the first time in my life, I was lost to time and I didn’t mind it. I didn’t even care that I’d been sent to find Storm. Being with this girl was more important to me in that moment.

She took off her jacket as I followed with mine. That left me shirtless, and she was in a sports bra. Together with the yoga pants, I was afforded the kind of body hormonal teenage boys fawn over.

“Like what you see?” she asked.

“Very much so,” I agreed.

“Don’t bruise it too much,” she replied.

I had no idea what she meant by that, until she landed a punch across my face. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was ready for all her other attacks. I’ve fought many people in my life, and I’ve been named the best amongst the best, but I’d never fought anyone like this girl.

Let alone have anyone keep up with me like she has.

She caught me off guard and sent me to the ground. She smirked at me, only for me to blindside her and bring her down with me. She landed on me and the most wonderful sound came out of her mouth as she laughed.

She didn’t make a move to get off me, and neither was she freaked out by me wrapping my arms around her waist. I didn’t even know why I felt comfortable enough to do so, especially since my mission was Storm Tsar.

I moved a strand away from her green eyes. “What’s your name?”

“Why should I trust you when I know that your name isn’t Coren and you’re trying to get in with my best friend?” she asked.

I was shocked.

“If you know that my name isn’t Coren, and that I’m infiltrating the Tsar’s, why haven’t you said anything?” I asked.

She traced her fingers on my face. “Because I’m curious about you.”

I scowled. “What are you curious about?”

“Why you would be stupid to enough to take on this mission alone,” she replied, smiling.

“Stupid? Do you know something that I don’t?” I asked.

“I know that the Tsar’s will kill you without so much as a second thought once they find out who you really are,” she replied.

“That’s a given. Everyone knows that, so there’s something else that you’re not telling me,” I pointed out.

“There’s something about you Xander, son of Alexander, and I will die before I let anyone hurt you,” she said before getting up, leaving me confused, especially since there were only six people who knew my name and she wasn’t one of them.

I held her hand before she could leave. “Wait! What’s your name?”

She shot me a breath-taking smile. “Noelle.”

And then she was gone.

***

I clutched my head at the memory. It was unfamiliar to me, and yet it felt so real. We were at one of the dojos back in Cuba and I would know because I spent so much of my time training there.

Everything felt so real. I could even feel her skin and remember how quickly my heart beat the very first time I saw her. However, the timeline just wasn’t making any sense because if the memory is true, then I met the love of my life four years ago.

And not last year as I originally thought.

“Bro, are you ok?” Thales asked beside me.

“I’m fine,” I mumbled before the E’s walked in. They’d sent a message to say they were on their way back, so we were all meeting for the debriefing.

“Well that mission was a bust!” Theodore commented as he threw himself onto the couch.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a bust. While we didn’t gain any new information on Lane, I did find out that there’s a new woman in his life. Her name is Elizabeth McFarland and she’s a physicist,” Zeya informed.

Yeah, no.

“I heard about her too. Apparently, she’s not only really special to him, but he’s hoping to bring her on board with whatever it is he’s doing,” Garrett added.

Like she wanted.

“Did anyone get a glimpse of what she looks like?” I questioned.

“Nope! It was a masquerade party, remember?” Bart pointed out. I rolled my eyes at that.

“So, what now?” Nadia asked.

“Our mission is still Lane, so we just look for a new way forward. Did anyone manage to get any intel on his lab?” I asked.

“The security is apparently the tightest in the whole country, so whatever he’s building, be it a bomb or not, is something he values highly,” Theodore replied.

“Or it’s something that might potentially end the world,” Malachi added.

“The important thing here is finding out what it is, over discussing the obvious,” my brother pointed out.

“Has anyone received any intel on the new organization?” I asked.

“Not much has happened on that front. If anything, it’s almost as though they’ve gone quiet,” Theodore replied.

“Because that’s always a good thing,” Mordecai said sarcastically.

“This just keeps getting more and more complicated. I’m beginning to think that this is the mission that is going to make me retire from all of this,” Nigel commented.

“What are you saying?” Kenya asked him.

He sighed. “I’m just saying that we’ve given so much of our lives to Cypher already, but this particular mission seems like it’s enough for us to get our way out, and that’s if we even make it out alive. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m exhausted. We’ve all read up on Cypher history and none of its legendary agents went through half of what we’re going through right now. If anything, we deserve to go down in Cypher history as its greatest team.”

I wouldn’t argue with that.

“You guys more than us. For so long we never understood why you got the special treatment that you did, but now we know better. You guys are the true legends of Cypher,” Zeya said respectfully.

“Well, I don’t know about retiring since this is the only life I know really, so I say we focus on getting through everything that we need to before we start making future plans,” Malachi said.

“I’m in agreement with that. So, now that the Lane and Sigma missions have hit an obstacle, what else can we do?” Aziel asked.

“Did any of you by any chance happen to see my brother at the party?” Nigel asked.

“Who? Blayze?” Garett asked.

Nigel raised an eyebrow. “How many brothers do I have?”

Malachi and I disguised our laughs before Bart spoke up. “We’ve heard of Blayze, but we’ve never actually seen what he looks like, so we can’t be sure.”

“What are you thinking?” I asked Nigel.

“It just occurred to me that we put him on the enemy list, but not for anything specific. I mean, we all know that he’s working for the enemy side, but he hasn’t done any particular thing to be on our radar. Maybe we need to check things on his side if we hope to connect some dots,” Nigel explained.

“That’s actually a brilliant idea. We’ve been looking at this from one angle, when we’ve had access to side angles this whole time,” my brother commented.

“Speaking of side angles, there are two other angles that we haven’t really discussed looking into. We still don’t know who had kidnapped Nadia and why they did it, and we don’t know who took Margaux,” Jayme reminded.

“Something tells me we won’t get anywhere with the Margaux thing. I say we leave that to the twins since she’s their mom. That’s probably why they’ve gone off the grid,” Mordecai suggested.

“I agree with Kai. Let’s focus on Nadia’s kidnapping for now. Adi, what do you remember about the day you were taken?” I asked her.

She sighed. “Like I said before, I’d just wrapped things up in Spain and I was ready to head to Hong Kong for my next mission. My tech team was taken out first before they took out Rowan. I’d just boarded the plane when all of this happened and they tranqued me before I even had a chance to fight. I woke up in a dark room and they tortured me, but I never saw their faces. They also always used voice modulators.”

“Well that doesn’t help us much, especially since following the trail is useless now. This was six months ago, so it’s damn near freezing by now,” Malachi pointed out.

“Did the plane not catch any surveillance?” Nick asked.

“I ran through everything of hers. They wiped everything. Whoever had her is good at what they do,” Jayme replied.

“Didn’t we also figure out that Elle, Nick, the twins and Izsak were all in Madrid before we rescued Nadia?”

“Ok, let’s back up since we’re not getting anywhere. You said they took you because they wanted to know details about us right?” I asked her, which she nodded to.

“Why you though?” Kenya asked.

Nadia glared at her. “What are you insinuating?”

“Calm down. Kenya actually has a point here. Why did they kidnap you of the six of you? What is it that they thought makes you stand out to the guys?” Thales questioned.

“I don’t know what the hell you’re accusing me of but I did nothing. I wouldn’t subject myself to three months of torture for the fun of it,” Nadia snapped.

“Except the fact that no-one knows if it was even three months of torture,” Zeya said lowly enough to be heard by Nick, Thales, Aziel and I.

No one seemed to be buying Nadia’s story.

“What?” Nadia asked, not having heard her.

“Nothing,” Zeya said with a fake smile.

“Ok, so we know where we found you, but were you moved at any point? Can you remember any distinct sounds or smells?” Aziel asked her.

She scowled. “I was moved at some point. The first place where they kept me had a lot of noise. I can remember hearing lots of chimes and whistles, and it smelled like reused frying oil.”

“That’s actually a helpful detail. There can’t be too many places in Spain like that,” Jayme said as he pulled up his laptop.

“When you say they tortured you, what exactly did they do to you?” Nick asked her while Jayme searched.

“They beat and drugged me,” Nadia replied.

“You don’t have any scars,” Mordecai commented.

Nadia glared at him too. “They didn’t beat me hard enough to leave scars. They just prolonged their beatings.”

The rest of us shared wary looks around the room.

Malachi scoffed. “And to think you thought Elliephant was full of shit.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Nadia attacked.

“It means you’re making no fucking sense, that’s what. We all know that having being tortured for three months should’ve left you with some scars, especially with how dramatic you are about the whole thing,” my brother told her.

“Are you calling me a liar?” Nadia asked.

“Got it!” Jayme said before anyone could respond.

“And?” I asked him.

“It’s technically a whorehouse. The restaurant is Indian themed and it’s a front. It explains the chimes and the oil smell. The place is owned by a Spanish cartel that has been linked to Genesis, The Dragons and the BNK,” Jayme explained.

“Which basically means they could’ve taken the job on behalf of anyone,” Nick added.

“Which also brings us back to square one. Is the universe going to side with us at any point soon?” Theodore asked.

“Adi, I know you said they used voice modulators, but did you at least get to hear what they said?” I asked her.

“They spoke far away from me, and they spoke in a language that sounded a lot like Slovakian,” she replied.

Thales and I shared a look. “Did you just say Slovakian?”

“Yeah, why?” she asked.

“Our mother was Slovakian,” Thales informed.

“Did they happen to mention the name Alojzia?” I asked her.

She nodded. “Whenever they mentioned that name, it was followed by Alexander.”

“Fuck!” Thales and I exclaimed simultaneously.

“What’s going on?” Mordecai asked us.

“What we’re about to tell you does not leave this room and I swear to God if it does, I will kill you without thinking twice about it,” Thales told them.

For the first time since I was reunited with my brother, I saw the side to him that Jayme had told me he had. I had never really seen Thales angry before, so this was a new territory for all of us.

“You’re kidding, right?” Vanessa asked.

“He isn’t,” Jayme said knowingly.

Everyone suddenly shifted nervously, but no one made a move to leave.

“My brother has already alerted me that none of you know anything about his family except the fact that his parents were killed, so I’ll start at the beginning. I’m Xander’s elder brother by four years. I didn’t really grow up around him when he was a baby, which is why he didn’t even know about me. I knew I had a little brother though. Our lives were meant to be a mess from the moment we were born considering our parents are Cypher myths and legends if that makes sense,” Thales started off.

Franco, who had been quiet the whole time, finally spoke up, his eyes widened in disbelief. “Alojzia and Alexander Demetriou; that’s why those names sounded familiar.”

“I know Cypher’s entire history and I’ve never heard of those names,” Nick commented.

Franco shook his head. “You wouldn’t have. Their records were long sealed away, but people who’ve been around Cypher as long as I have, know of Alojzia and Alexander. Thales isn’t kidding when he says they were myths and legends.”

“What exactly made them such legends? And why are they considered myths?” Aziel asked.

“Besides being the best agents Cypher has ever produced, much like my son, they were amongst the only agents to be both tech and field qualified, but there was more to them. Alexander was my mentor and he taught me basically everything I know. He was a great scientist with one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever come across. Alojzia on the other hand was the best mechanic at Cypher. Apart, they did great work, but it wasn’t until they were paired together to create a weapon that they discovered the magic between them. The magic wasn’t just an intellectual one. Soon enough, they were married and paired together on all missions and projects- that is until they went dark twenty-four years ago. They were believed to have been taken out by Genesis, but Gerhard denied having anything to do with their disappearances. This solidified the tension and feud between Cypher and Genesis. If what you’re saying is true, then they must’ve gone dark when Alojzia fell pregnant with you,” Franco ended off, looking straight at my brother.

Thales nodded. “I was five when my mother first told me about Cypher. She wanted me to know about it because she was becoming suspicious that someone was looking for them and she didn’t want me to be clueless should anything happen to them. She told me that should anything happen to them, I was to take Xander and run until I found someone who knew what Cypher was.”

“Except things didn’t play out like that,” Kenya said knowingly.

Thales shook his head. “They didn’t. I met Jayme when I was seven. He was five at the time, but our age differences didn’t matter to us. We quickly became best friends, except none of us knew that his mother was a criminal until she showed up at his grandmother’s house where we were and shot the woman dead. They took us without even giving us a chance to process anything. That morning was the last time I saw my parents, having last seen Xander the night before. Jayme and I went through hell for the next couple of years until Franco finally found us and got rid of Jayme’s mom. My best friend was mute from the whole thing, while I suffered a blow to the head that gave me temporary amnesia. It took a long time, but eventually everything came back to me and all I wanted was to get back to my family. It had been years, but I was sure that my parents had been looking for me and that they’d be happy to have me home. Franco didn’t know who my parents were, but he’d been told that they’d been murdered. He told me the sad news, and that was it. He didn’t even know that Xander was my brother, so I did my own research. I managed to hack Cypher’s vault and find the file on Xander with his real name on it. I w-”

“You hacked Cypher’s vault?” Garrett asked sceptically.

“I’m the reason they have all the new security upgrades,” my brother replied.

“I have a whole new level of respect for you right now,” Malachi told him.

I felt the exact same way when I found out what my brother did. We’ve bonded over the past two months, but I still find myself learning new things about him that either surprise me or just make me damn proud.

He is by far one of the greatest people I know, despite life dealing him one of its most cruel cards.

“He came to Cypher to find me, except being who I am, I obviously called bullshit. Because life probably knew this would happen, it sent blossom into my life. Thales tried to reach me through her, and it worked. I got in touch with him shortly after Cypher was attacked. He found out from me that we had a little sister who was killed on the same day as our parents. Our bonding was cut short by an alert that we didn’t expect,” I said, stopping when Franco gave me a knowing look.

“When I saw it, I thought I was seeing things,” he commented.

“Saw what?” Kenya, Nigel, Mordecai, Aziel and Malachi asked.

“There’s a bounty out for our parents, especially our father,” Thales informed.

Malachi’s eyes widened. “Bounties are only placed when someone is confident that whoever they’re looking for is alive.”

“Precisely! It got us thinking that if our parents aren’t dead, then that must mean Rose might be alive too,” I replied.

“Who’s Rose?” Nadia asked.

“Our little sister,” I responded.

“So, we looked into finding Rose, going on a whim really, except my system got a hit,” Thales said.

“She’s alive?” Nick asked.

Thales and I nodded. “We met with her at the masquerade party.”

“Wait what? You were there?” Theodore asked.

“We were, which by the way, means that your scoping skills suck, masquerade party or not,” my brother told the E’s, who frowned in return.

“So, you met with her and what?” Jayme asked.

“She’s sceptical about the whole thing, but we managed to convince her to give us a chance,” I replied, leaving out everything else.

“If she’s alive, then there’s definitely a strong possibility that your parents are alive as well,” Nigel pointed out.

“We know, which honestly serves to confuse us further in terms of Nadia’s kidnapping,” Thales said.

“This is an information overload guys. It’s late. Can we please sleep on it and discuss everything later?” Zeya asked. It was half past three in the morning.

“I agree with Zee. This is all insane and we’ve had a long day. We’re only going to go around in circles if we search for answers now,” Mordecai added.

“Alright fair enough. We’ll meet up again around lunch time to discuss our way forward,” Nigel said.

We all agreed and everyone left. We were meeting at my place, so everyone went back to their places, save for Nick, Jayme, Aziel, Malachi, Franco and my brother. The seven of us poured ourselves drinks before sitting on the couch.

“Crazy really doesn’t even begin,” Aziel said after a while.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Thales replied.

“On the topic of crazy things, you’ve probably even forgotten about this, but did you ever manage to ID the woman Sergio claimed visited him?” Franco asked.

“What woman?” Nick asked.

“When you were shot, a woman with red hair and grey eyes visited your stepdad under the pretence of being Margaux. We believe she tampered with his memory because he doesn’t remember ever meeting Margaux, and he did, not to mention the fact that they have kids together,” I replied.

“You know that makes no sense, right? Could he really forget the mother of his children?” my brother asked.

“The memory technology is strong enough to achieve that,” Franco argued.

“I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying it again- I personally do not trust Mr Solano. There are just too many gaps where he’s concerned,” I said.

“We’ve never even thought about looking into him and how he fits into everything. All we know is that he’s Elle, Tyson and Tyler’s father, Nick’s stepdad, Viola’s husband and the Director of the FBI,” Aziel pointed out.

“Look, I agree with Zeya. This is an information overload and the longer we’re up, the more theories we’re going to come up with. Let’s call it a day, and I’ll personally look into Sergio later today,” Franco suggested.

We all seemed to be in agreement as we put our glasses on the table and stood up. “Who would’ve thought we’d ever see this day again, when Franco is helping us and not trying to kill Xander like he tried to last year?”

“Last year? I never tried to kill Xander last year,” Franco said in confusion.

“I was shot with one of your bullets at the clearing,” I pointed out.

“I didn’t shoot you. I mean, I saw you with Noelle there, but I didn’t shoot you. When I left, the two of you were still sitting on the car,” he replied.

“Well if you didn’t shoot him, then who the hell did?” Aziel asked.

I was about to add on when my watch beeped, with the signal coming from the bracelet Jayme made for blossom. “What’s that?”

“It’s a distress signal,” I panicked.

“From who?” Thales asked, while Jayme shared the same panic I did when he realized which specific tone had come through.

“From blossom.”

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