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Chapter Eleven

Friday and things continued to spiral. The headache that had started the night before only got worse in the morning, now joined by nausea and a weak stomach. I woke up delirious and sweating, wanting to vomit yet unable to move.

“Hunter?” Echo’s concerned voice sounded so far away even though I could feel his body right next to mine. “Hey, what’s wrong? Shit, talk to me, Hunter!”

“B-bathroom.” The words barely left my lips before I was picked up and carried in Echo’s arms. He was muttering under his breath, something about how pale and sickly I was looking, so hot to the touch that he had to use his gift to keep from dropping me.

It felt like a century had passed until my feet touched the cool tiles and I could see a blurry image of the toilet. Acid climbed up my throat, my stomach demanding to be emptied. With Echo’s hand on my back, I did exactly that.

When it was all out of my system, I rested against Echo’s chest as he held me in his lap, shivering and crying with how horrible I felt. What was happening to me? This was far worse than my ferrokinesis developing!

“Shush, you’re okay, just breath and calm down,” Echo mumbled, rubbing circles into my back and holding me closer to him. “Either your last gift is on its way or Baker laced those bullets with poison.”

“None of them hit me,” I stammered out. Echo shook his head, going to tug my shirt over my head when he stopped and clicked his tongue.

“You were clipped by one.”
“What, where?”
“On your upper arm, but it’s just a graze, not enough for this type of reaction. Let’s keep quiet for now and see what happens.”
“Shouldn’t Tango know?”
“He’s up to something and I don’t like that it involves you. Baker has been here three years and now she pulls a stunt like that, I don’t know.”
“O-okay, we can question him when I get better.”

We were silent after that, trying to piece together our reasons for why I was being affected like this. I still felt weak and every time Echo tried to get me to bed, my stomach had other ideas. To add to that, he had to use his cryokinesis to cool me down whenever I started to overheat and the taste of blood was overpowering my senses even though I was not bleeding. Eventually, I fell asleep from the exhaustion and Echo was able to take me to the bed where he stayed even when Oswell came to shit on him for missing training. When Tango arrived, I was conscious and attempting to slow down my racing thoughts.

“You guys are going on an Op,” Tango stated after some silence when Echo had finished explaining what happened to us. “Alpha team will be with you for this one. You would have found out if you two had been accounted for this morning for training. Can I trust that Alpha will be okay for departure on Saturday?”

“He should. This is just his body’s reaction to you giving him a hard time yesterday, his gifts sapped all his energy. He’ll be okay to fly,” Echo said, placing a wet cloth on my forehead.

“For that, I do apologize. Baker pulled that stunt with no consent on my behalf. She has been taken out of the Gifted program and communication with Desert Cat cut. You no longer have to worry about her.” Tango, with a final glance at me, left with his final words being a command to go and eat as soon as possible.

“Here,” Rooi muttered, placing a bowl of cut-up fruit in front of me, a dollop of cream on top with a drizzle of syrup. She had specifically gone into the kitchen to make this for me after seeing Echo half-dragging me into the mess hall. We really did receive a lot of stares, including a worried glance from Kingston as his group watched us.

“Thanks, Rooi. Sorry for making you guys worry about me and not pitching for training, I hope Oswell didn’t punish you guys,” I said, mixing the cream and syrup with the fruit before tentatively spooning some into my mouth. My stomach did not respond painfully as I thought it would, so I just continued eating.

“Don’t worry about us, you are the one not feeling well. But it would be kinda cool if it was your last gift so we could see what it was,” Victor said, sipping at his mug with green tea in it.

“As long as you get better, I don’t really think anything else matters. We are still kids at the end of the day,” Fox mumbled as he stood. His voice took me by surprise, deep and velvety held together by a light cheerful undertone. His speaking had also caught the others off guard.

“Look who finally decided to use his vocal cords!” Rooi cheered, standing up to hug her brother who only pushed her away. Fox grinned and rubbed at his arm.

“Don’t go overreacting now,” He chided before looking at me. “Finish up then go and sleep. Echo, keep an eye on him. Exhaustion of our gifts can cause this as well as the development so you should take it easy.”

“You got it,” Echo said, leg bumping against mine under the table. I smiled at him then concentrated on enjoying my fruit bowl, already feeling a hundred times better with the energy pooling into my muscles. Fox then excused himself, saying he was going to try to get in some reading in before lights out.

When I was finished, I pushed the bowl forward and leaned my head on my folded arms resting on the table, enjoying the presence of the people sitting around me when I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder, making me sit up straight.

“Why are you here?” Victor growled, standing up, fists clenched at his sides. Glancing up, I saw Kingston with his not so happy team behind him.

“I wanted to check on my sparring partner for one,” Kingston stated, squeezing my shoulder with a smile. “Also, Murphy here owes you an apology, right Murphy?” The man stood rigid when he heard his name, a dark bruise peeking out from under his shirt collar. Murphy gritted his teeth as he forced a muttered apology through them.

“Is that all?” Echo asked, standing up and folding his arms over his chest, chin slightly dipped as the air around him started getting considerably colder.

“One more thing then we are off. We’re going on an Op for the first time in two days. We need a debrief together, get this tension out of the air or this won’t work out well. You guys choose the place and time, we will be there, but it has to happen tomorrow,” Kingston finished with a smirk, patting my back as he moved away from our table. “Get better Alphie!” Were his last words thrown over his shoulder as they left.

“That was new...” Rooi said, eyebrows raised. Victor nodded in agreement, his expression questioning as he let out a long breath.

“This day just continues to give. But Kingston has a point. We, as a group, have never gone on any missions and they have.” Victor ran his hand through his hair, closing his eyes in thought. “Tango didn’t even say what we were doing and why we needed to go and if we don’t have this debrief with Alpha team, we may never know what our part in this is.”

“But why choose us now?” Echo muttered, massaging his temples.

“It’s a problem for tomorrow. Right now, we need to rest before the next thing we are told is that the Ops been moved even earlier,” I said, feeling my energy deflating as the very thought of going on a mission with all the shit going on around me became too much.

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