Element (Book 3)

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Ch 4 - Shut Up Thales

*FLASHBACK*

“Let me get this straight. You people wiped her memory, and you refuse to tell us who you work for. You’re both no longer in support of your agency, and instead want to work to free blossom from it by getting me to unlock her memories so that she’s safe with us? Am I on the right track here?”

“Look, it makes no sense, but it’s really important. She managed to escape three years ago, and they’ve been looking for her since. Now that they have her back, it can’t possibly mean anything good. She’s the best at what she does in the whole organization, and while we know she’s not telling us everything, we also know that she’s afraid. We found out about her relationship with you pretty much when everyone else in our industry found out, which is when you proposed to her. Now, we’d like to think that you know her pretty well, so you know that she’s extremely smart, and that she’d rather come across as tough than scared. She’s figured out that the agency is hiding things from her, and since you proposed, Carter and I have been denied clearance to some information. As far as we’re concerned, the agency wants to get rid of us because they know of the kind of influence we have on her. She may be missing some of her memories, but she hasn’t forgotten us, so she trusts us, a lot. We love her like a sister, and we refuse to let her be used as a weapon or puppet for that matter. The agency is planning something huge, and we don’t know what it is, but we’re pretty sure it doesn’t have a great ending for either one of us or Elle,” Winter elaborated.

“We’re not expecting you to protect us by any means. We just want Noelle safe from the big boss’ clutches,” Carter added.

“Oh, if you’re as special as you say you are to Elliephant, then you already have our protection. She wouldn’t have it any other way and will quite frankly murder us if her memories return and she finds out that we did nothing to protect you,” Malachi told them.

I was thinking the same thing.

“You said she escaped three years ago, but she moved to her aunt’s town five years ago, so I’m a bit confused here,” I told them.

“She worked for the agency still because she was in that town for a mission. Karen is not her aunt. She left with a woman by the name of Milly, and Karen is Milly’s sister. We don’t know much about Elle’s childhood or the time she spent away from the agency for that matter. All we know is that Milly was her handler before we found out that she died in the car accident,” Carter explained.

“We suspect that Milly helped her to set up her life outside the agency as Noelle Solano and not Element. When Milly died, we thought that the agency would bring her in, but we were all instructed to go nowhere near her,” Winter added.

“The two of you don’t know who your boss is, do you?” Mordecai asked them.

“Not really. We’ve never met him. Only Izzy knows him,” Winter replied.

“And this is blossom’s ex?” I questioned, receiving two nods in confirmation.

“Is Izzy by any chance Izsak?” Malachi asked.

The two looked shocked. “You know him?”

“Fuck man! Like we really need to be even more confused right now,” Malachi echoed my sentiments.

“What are you guys talking about?” Carter asked.

“We’ve already encountered Izsak in the past six months. He shot Noelle’s stepbrother who is believed to be Zero. If you’re saying that Izsak works with you, then it brings about a lot of questions on our end,” Mordecai explained.

“Like why he really shot Nick, why he didn’t just grab blossom when we encountered him, and what his end game really is,” I added.

“Izzy went dark a couple of months back, but we were all instructed not to trace him or keep up with his activities. We didn’t think much of it, but now that you’re connecting the dots that you are, it just confirms to us that Elle is in a lot of trouble,” Carter said thoughtfully.

“Can you at least tell us if your boss is a man who goes by the name Black?” Malachi asked.

“We know of that name, but no, it’s not who we work for,” Carter replied.

It was worth a shot.

“How do you expect me to get her memories back though? I thought your memory tech is the best,” I commented.

“Oh, it is, except time has shown that unlocking the memories is possible based on two things; the subject’s willingness to remember, and their exposure to people and places that were either most recent or strongest,” Winter replied.

“And it doesn’t get any stronger than true love, and before you ask, we know it’s true love because we saw the look in her eyes when you proposed. She’s never had that look before. Also, her reaction to finding out that you’re her target confirmed our risky plan for us,” Carter added.

“I’m her what now?” I asked.

Winter actually laughed. “Oh yeah, she’s here to kill you.”

“You couldn’t have started out with that?” Mordecai asked in disbelief.

I was just as baffled especially since I won’t lie, the new blossom scares me a little.

“We strongly believe that she won’t be able to go through with it. She already has a crush on you, which we’re choosing to see as a good thing,” Winter argued.

“Except for the fact that she has a Super Soldier Formula in her genes,” Malachi informed.

Their eyes widened. “She does?”

“It’s a long story, but she does, which means she’s easily swayed into giving into her anger, and especially the need to kill anyone who is considered an enemy to her. She will want to kill me more times than admitting that she feels anything for me, especially given that a big part of her probably wants to get back in at the agency,” I explained.

“I mean, we’ve heard about the formula, but we didn’t know that it was real,” Winter admitted.

“Oh, it’s real alright,” Malachi responded.

Carter slowly smirked. “Well then Six, congratulations. You are the lucky recipient of probably the hardest mission of your lifetime.”

“You not only have to get her to remember who you are, but you have to do it while staying alive.”

Seriously, fuck my life.

***

“All of us who thought this was a bad idea, raise your hand. Oh, right, I’m the only one,” Carter commented.

“You’re not helping in the slightest bit,” Winter snapped.

“I hate to say it, but I agree with Carter. This was a stupid plan,” Bridgette added.

“We have one of two options when she gets up. We either pretend she dreamt the whole thing up, or we let the truth hang and see how she takes it,” Malachi suggested.

So, after my fiancée came over to kill me for proposing to her best friend (Winter’s idea just by the way), Carter tranquilized her. She’s been out for four hours now, and we were all at the apartment since we figured being on school grounds would only attract attention.

“Say we let the truth hang, where do we go from there? Do we bombard her with information?” Sunny asked.

“That’s a bad idea,” Carter commented.

Winter rolled her eyes. “That’s all you seem to be pointing out, bad ideas.”

“Is it my fault that you’re all coming up with bad ideas? No, I didn’t think so!” he snapped.

“Alright, calm down. What do you suggest then?” I asked.

“I suggest we take her back to the dorm room. When she wakes up, we all pretend like we have no idea what she’s going on about. Sunny and Bridgette will have to reintroduce themselves to her. She will still trust you because a part of her knows that she can. With regards to Winter and her crazy idea, none of us know anything about it. Six, you haven’t met her yet, so when she sees you, you’ll still be her target. However, knowing Elle, everything will feel real to her, so she’s going to be sceptical, and now that you told her that she’s your special someone, and we already know that she likes you, a part of her is going to be holding onto hope that it wasn’t all a dream, and that you truly do feel that way about her. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but that part of the plan actually works out in our favour because she’ll be even more open to starting a relationship with you. It’s just a case of getting that relationship to its former strength,” he explained.

I was extremely impressed.

“That’s genius,” Mordecai commented.

Winter scoffed. “Don’t be too impressed. It’s actually Carter’s job to analyze scenarios like that.”

“He’s still good at it,” Bridgette argued, equalling a chuffed Carter.

“Alright then, that’s the new plan. I have a match in the next eight hours, so I won’t really be around. It’s our first big game of the season,” I told them.

“Kai, Aziel and I will handle everything. Go where you need to be,” Malachi told me.

We ended up telling our civilian friends our real names because it was getting tedious switching between names and numbers. Winter and Carter told us that those are their real names, so we trusted them too by letting them know our names.

“But first, have a moment with her. Things are about to get crazy from this point onwards,” Winter suggested.

They all left the room, leaving me with my passed out fiancée. When I realized that she was watching me on the football field, I didn’t think it was her at first, until I remembered Winter mentioning that she’d cut her hair into a bob.

When she stepped into the light, I got to see just how truly different she looked, and yet I still felt the same as every other time when I see her. It took everything in me to not kiss her, to not hold her. The only thing that kept me sane was knowing that I still had the same reaction on her, as much as she wants to deny it.

She’s still physically attracted to me.

As I sat now, watching her, I couldn’t help but worry. I don’t doubt the power of our love, but then again, it’s up against heavy influence against me, as well as a past I know nothing about. It makes me happy that her best friends believe that the only life that matters is the one she’s had with me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best one for her.

And until I know what I’m competing with, I can only hang onto the hope that this is what she truly wants.

“I love you Mama Sparkles, and I’m going to fight to give you the best life, whether or not I’m in it.”

I leaned down and kissed her softly. She laughed a little, before an adorable smile settled on her face. I’d missed that smile so much, and I couldn’t help but take a picture. Carter was right in saying that this would be the hardest mission of my life, but for blossom, I’ll gladly accept the challenge.

I left the apartment, leaving Sparkles with Bridgette and Sunny again. Those two have an obsession with our poor puppy, and I don’t even want to know what they’re going to do when blossom regains her memories.

From what I was told, Sparkles still remembers who her mommy is.

I didn’t have anything football related to attend to for a while, and I hadn’t alerted anyone about where I was actually headed. I had to make sure that anything on me that could be used to track me was off.

I left in my car, the same car that still fascinates the people here. I had it customized further, just to stay current, and well, let’s just say my speed demon is very happy. Blossom would without a doubt kill me if she found out that I was driving as recklessly as I do.

I reached my destination and had to take the elevator. When the doors finally opened, the scene that faced me was one I wasn’t expecting. There were papers and photographs everywhere, and I had to walk carefully in order to not step onto anything.

“Do you mind telling me what the hell is going on here?” I asked him.

“Well little brother, you’re watching genius unfold right before you,” he replied.

So, I listened to blossom and reached out to my brother, and it turns out that it’s the best decision I could’ve ever made for myself. He and I are so much alike, it’s scary. Despite not having grown up together, we have this uncanny relationship that just works, and I trust him with my life.

“That’s great and all, except it doesn’t answer my question,” I pointed out.

“Ok fine, let me explain. All the photos, while not clear, are of a spot where Zero was spotted from the past three years. All the papers correspond with the photos, and they contain details on what was happening in each photo. Now, based on the information you managed to get me from Cypher about Zero and Nick, I was able to match Karr’s theories to some of them,” he started off.

“Meaning it’s possible that Nick was in actual fact present at all these places?” I asked.

He nodded. “In all instances, the person whose photo was taken, was looking away from the camera, but that detail isn’t the only one we would need to confirm anyway, which is why I had to fully take apart the photos. So, we have thirty six photos here, and of these, the probability of Nick being Zero is confirmed in twenty four of them. Now, when I talk about probabilities, I’m factoring in things like Nick’s physical attributes matching that of Zero, as well as the time he spent in a certain place, matching the time he was away from home. I also looked into Viola, and the woman doesn’t have an interior design company. I mean, she does, except it’s a front. I went there, and while she treated me like a client, my trained eye picked up agent related things, so I’m pretty sure that even her company is probably a base.”

“Did you pick up anything on Gerhard?” I asked.

“No. Even my sources have no idea what is going on at Genesis. For the first time in their existence, Genesis actually respects the notion of standing together. They don’t even have a single person willing to give anything up,” he replied.

I sighed. “I could try and reach out to Silo or Rio, but I highly doubt they’ll say anything.”

“It’s fine. We’ll eventually figure it out. How’s my sister in law?” he asked.

“I spoke to her for the first time yesterday,” I informed.

“And? Did you get butterflies?” he teased.

I shoved him playfully. “Men don’t get butterflies.”

“Good thing you’re still a little boy,” he joked.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m nineteen. I’m no little boy.”

He laughed. “Would you just tell me what it was like seeing her again?”

“It was the same as always. I mean, she has blue eyes and red hair now, which by the way, I totally agree with, but I still feel the same. She’s still beautiful to me, and yes, as goofy as it sounds, I got butterflies. I wanted to kiss her so badly, but the whole morning just took a turn for the, uhm, interesting,” I responded.

“Interesting how?” he asked.

I should’ve never told him.

Here’s where Thales and I differ. While I’ve been deemed serious, my brother finds humour in everything. He’s more like Malachi in this regard, and my telling him of the events of the morning, had him in tears.

“You’re all a bunch of morons, but Carter’s onto something.”

Thales and I already had our guns out, pointing them at our intruder, until I saw who it was. “Jayme?”

“Before you shoot me, you might want to hear me out,” he said.

“You disappeared for three months. Why should I bother?” I asked.

“Because while you may not trust me, you know damn well that you need me,” he replied.

“We don’t need you. We’ve been doing just fine without you,” I retorted.

“I’m not sure what you were trying to achieve with that lie, but I’m sticking to my theory. You need me,” he argued.

“What do you have that we don’t?” Thales asked him.

He’d already admitted to me that he felt betrayed by Jayme with this whole situation.

“For one, I have a confirmation for you. Nick is Zero,” Jayme said.

I narrowed my eyes at him, looking for any signs of deceit, but there was none. “How do you know?”

“He told me right before he disappeared,” he replied.

“Disappeared?” Thales and I questioned.

He nodded, walking into the room. “Soon after Elle disappeared on us, the twins left on their own mission for answers, and I went back to my father. I arrived to find him passed out on the floor with Nick pointing a gun at me. He made me tell him if anyone at Cypher had figured out that he was Zero, and since I had tapped into Elle’s phone, I confirmed that Karr had figured it out. He dropped the gun, confirming that he’s Zero, and made me promise that I wouldn’t go looking for him. I tried to stop him, but he told me that he needs to fix things before kissing me then leaving. I’ve been trying to find him for the past three months, but I’ve had no luck.”

“Do you love him?” Thales asked.

Because you know, that was the right question to ask after that.

“I wouldn’t have spent the past three months looking for him if I didn’t,” Jayme replied, deadpan.

“Does the whole thing make sense to you though?” I asked him.

He pursed his lip. “To be honest with you, it didn’t for the longest time, but then just like with the two of you, I started doing my own investigation. I hacked into Cypher and got all the information you had on Zero, as well as your theories, and worked from there. When I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere alone, I figured it was time for me to come back.”

“You do know that the others won’t be as forgiving right? You abandoned us when we needed you most,” I pointed out.

“To be honest, I don’t care. I’m not looking for their forgiveness. I’m just looking for Nick because something tells me he’s in trouble. I can just feel it in my gut,” he said.

Fair enough.

“What have you come up with so far?” Thales asked him.

“By the looks of things, we’re at the same level in terms of progress. I also went about things in this way, before one thing stuck out to me- lack of motive,” he replied.

“Lack of motive?” I asked.

He nodded. “Nick is Zero right? What we know about Zero is that their intelligence is beyond compare right? As well as their strategizing right? So I looked into all the places where he was, as well as the circumstances. For a long time, Cypher agents were made to believe that the elusive agent who goes by Zero is hidden from the world, but the fact that Zero was spotted thirty six times got me thinking. There’s nothing that I found to link any of the times when he was spotted. Also, while we were all blindsided by Nick being Zero, I’d like to think that I got to know him in the little time that we did spend together, and some of the things we’re being told that he did just don’t add up, and neither do I think he committed any of those things.”

“Like the situation with Nadia...” I trailed off.

“Amongst other things, yes. If he was Zero, he would’ve ended my life for instance,” he added.

My brother raised an eyebrow at him. “Did it perhaps not occur to you that he loves you too?”

“You think love is enough to convert someone like that?” Jayme asked unsurely.

“Love is capable of many things buddy. Just look at my little brother if you want evidence,” Thales replied.

“Touché,” Jayme agreed.

“Ok, so say Nick is Zero, but isn’t exactly fully Zero as you say, what’s your theory?” I asked.

“It took me a while to accept this as a viable theory, but I think someone actually knows that Nick is Zero, and they’re out to tarnish his reputation,” he explained.

Thales turned to his computer, typing something in. “Which would suggest that these are different people who share Nick’s physical attributes.”

“Exactly. My guess is that Nick knows about these imposters, and his disappearances are then explained with the reasoning that he wanted to catch whoever was posing as him,” Jayme added.

“He just never got there in time,” I caught on.

“Well, that theory for now sounds most likely, but unfortunately, without Nick’s confirmation, we’re left to guess,” my brother said.

“There’s no way of reaching him, so I’ve accepted that I’ll just have to wait for him to come back. I thought I’d come back and instead help with Elle. I heard she’s here,” Jayme stated.

“What exactly happened on that day?” I questioned. I knew he’d know what day I was referring to.

“It goes further than that day. From the moment she saw her brothers, sh-”

“Wait, so Tyler and Tyson are really her biological brothers?” I interrupted.

“I have no idea how Margaux pulled it off, but yes, they are. They’re younger than her by a year and a couple of months. Anyway, from the moment she saw them, parts of the memories that my father and my uncle unlocked started making sense to her. She wouldn’t tell me exactly what she could remember, but the three of them stressed that they needed to get to Margaux, and that they needed to find Phoenix. On the day of the Cypher attack, the plan was to get out of there, find my father and Nick, and then go looking for Margaux. She wanted to see you before we left, and the twins called her, telling her to hurry up. She alerted them that she was eavesdropping, and that’s when I knew that I had to tap into her phone. I heard the whole conversation with you guys, and there was a strange sound, almost as though her phone had fallen. I thought nothing of it, until we realized that she was taking too long to come out. The twins went in to find her, and I guess you guys were all still occupied because they managed to scope the whole building without being caught. They couldn’t find her, but they confirmed my suspicions when they came back with her phone in hand. The screen had cracked, so we came to the conclusion that she’d been taken. I think the twins know exactly what’s going on, but they wouldn’t tell me anything. They took me to my father and that’s the last time I saw them. The last thing they told me was to stay safe and find you. Sorry it took so long.”

Everything about what he was saying made sense, but I just wasn’t digesting the information. If what he’s saying is right, then blossom knew that her step brother is Zero, and the question is how long had she known for?

But even though I doubt it, there’s a small chance she didn’t know.

“Do you know anything about Gerhard Nolan?” Thales asked him.

“He founded Genesis with his wife whose name is unknown. Why?” Jayme counter asked.

“Because the unknown wife, well ex-wife for all we know, is Viola, and she and Gerhard are Nick’s parents,” I informed.

Jayme scowled. “Let me get this straight. The child of the founders of Genesis, is the most elusive agent at Cypher? Who the hell took him on board?”

“That’s something we’ve been trying to figure out as well. Silver tried to access the file on him, but it turns out that either the file doesn’t exist, or someone else took it,” I replied.

“Which again means only Nick can answer our questions,” Jayme mumbled.

“Are you ok?” I asked him at the sight of the familiar irritable look on his face.

He released a guttural sound. “It’s just all so frustrating.”

“You saw all the warning signs flashing, but you just couldn’t help it. Your head was telling you one thing, but your heart knew what it wanted,” I said knowingly.

He scowled. “How did you know?”

“I’m in the same situation bud. I call it the Solano effect,” I joked.

“They just had to be adorable pains in the ass,” he laughed in agreement.

“Technically Nick isn’t a Solano,” Thales jumped in.

“Shut up Thales.”

I spent the next three hours with them, trying to figure out what the hell our next move would be. Like I said, Cypher knows nothing about this, and I’d like to keep it that way. We agreed that Jayme would just stay and work with Thales instead of coming to Cypher.

It’s better this way until we really need him.

The truth is that Jayme lost a lot of people’s trust that day, something that I actually put mildly. The organization has deemed the twins MIA, but for some reason, they think Jayme is a traitor. I guess it has to do with his connection to Nick.

I still think the conclusions they reached were harsh, especially now that I’ve heard him out.

My own team was torn by the whole thing. While I get that there are people who would rather have my fiancée put on trial, or even better yet, killed, I know that they’re very reluctant to help with anything that’s got to do with her.

For the longest time, Karr led the group of people who basically wrote her, Nick and Jayme off, having decided that the world is better off without them. I’ve had to keep my cool about the whole thing because when blossom regains her memories, she will kill me if she finds out I killed people in her name.

Trust me, the last three months have taught me that I’ve come a hell of a long way as a person.

Even without her being there, blossom laid the correct foundations for me to grow as a person, even in her absence. I find myself not only being fair about everything, but actually thinking twice about things before I take action.

I find it works best when I ask myself ‘would blossom approve of what I want to do?’ which actually works.

I finally left, heading back to campus because I needed to get to practice. We were having a short practice before the match. I headed straight to the locker-room where the guys were already changing into gear.

“Didn’t think you’d show up,” Jason, one of the guys, commented.

I shot him a look. “Why is that exactly?”

“We heard you had some drama early this morning,” Hartley told me. He’s the only guy on the team from my high school.

“Oh that. It’s handled,” I replied.

“I thought there was something extremely familiar about the redhead. She looks confused most of the time, and while I couldn’t pin her, when I heard about the drama this morning, everything made sense to me. Isn’t she your fiancée? You know, the one you proposed to on national television?” Ross asked.

I rolled my eyes. “Not that this has anything to do with you, the gossipers or anyone in this school for that matter, but yes, it is my fiancée. She had an accident and she’s now suffering from amnesia, so I would appreciate it if you guys would have my back and not cause any drama about this.”

I may as well come up with a story now before people make up their own.

“Oh shit, that sucks. Sorry man,” Hartley apologized.

“It’s ok. It’s frustrating, but the last thing I need is people making up rumours or the likes. I’m still trying to deal with the whole thing myself,” I told them.

“We’ve got your back man,” Jason said, patting my shoulder.

The discussion ended there and instead we all got ready for practice. We got outside and ran some plays that I was leading, before it was game time. The stands were full, and I could feel the familiar adrenaline returning.

Let’s do this.

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