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Chapter Fifteen

The silence was suffocating as we stood on either side of the warehouse doors, Alpha team and everyone else forgotten as we focused on the task at hand. Echo lifted his hand, pointing to the door and making another gesture, what were their positions? Closing my eyes, I sensed two men standing closer to the entrance, followed by two more standing further in. The last two were at the far back where the Gifted was. Opening my eyes, I relayed this to Echo and Rooi who nodded. Every nerve in my body at that moment was brimming with adrenaline, ready for action.

Gripping my combat knives, I tried to steel myself to what was to come. Rooi, Echo and I walked in watching as the auctioneers raised their guns at the sound of our boot falls. They murmured, swaying their guns at the entrance. The warehouse, as thought, was bare and cold, a raised platform just being seen at the edge of our vision riddled with empty cages.

“Whose there?” One of the men shouted, voice trembling like his gun. Wanting to see their reactions, I gave a light tug on the two men’s guns by motioning the gesture with my fingers. Both men reacted, trigger happy fingers pulling back as a spray of bullets missed us. Smirking, I felt something in me click that had not done so since the Pulse first ripped through our town and I had been taken by Damian. Power. And I wasn’t the only one wanting to test the waters.

Echo was by my side one second then gone, reappearing behind the two men with twin icicle stakes aimed at their necks. I watched as he drove them down, catching the change in barrel direction of the men behind them. Their triggers were pulled, bullets bursting out towards Echo. On instinct, I threw my hands up, combat knives clattering to the ground, stopping bullets from piercing into Echo, the two men who he had daggered were not so lucky. With a twist of my wrist and gritting of my teeth, I turned the bullets back on the auctioneers who sent them. However, the bullets I was too slow to stop were still coming my way, wanting to spill my blood. If it were not for Rooi jumping in front of me, I would have been badly injured or dead. Four men were dead in mere seconds of us unleashing our powers.

But our advantage of using the dark was soon taken as lights beamed down on us. The remaining three had found a way to power the spotlights on the stage. Raising my arm, I squinted at the raised platform, seeing that the hostage had a hood over their head, a gun pressed to her temple.

“Children!” The man at the edge of the platform shouted, carelessly holding his handgun as he glared down at us. “Come closer and your dear friend here will have her brains on display. Why don’t we come to an agreement?”

Echo murmured something to Rooi who nodded before speaking up to the men.

“An agreement to what? We came for her nothing else!” The man’s smirk wavered for a second, coming back in full focus but before he could open his mouth, Rooi was ramming herself into the man who held the gun at our hostage. Guns fired from behind us, their bullets hitting their marks on the main man’s and his second's foreheads. The other man, who Rooi had run into, lay motionless on the floor, his head not looking quite right on his neck.

When silence fell on us, we all could hear the girl’s sobbing from under the sack that covered her face. Kingston came running straight past us to Rooi and the girl. He ripped the hood off, muttering that everything was going to be fine. When I saw her face, behind the mass of ginger curls, my stomach instantly clenched, a memory briefly bubbling up.

“Alpha, you okay?” Echo asked as I stumbled back. His hand was cold against my arm as he steadied me. I ripped my eyes away from her to see that he was leaning heavier on his left side, his other hand pressed just above his hip. Momentarily forgetting my shock, I moved his hand to see blood seeping into his shirt.

“I thought I stopped all of them!” He grimaced, shaking his head before leaning forward to rest his head on my shoulder. Sighing, I rubbed his back as Kingston helped the girl onto her feet, watching as she stumbled before Rooi caught her.

“You didn’t answer me,” Echo mumbled, lips tickling my neck.

“That girl over there is the reason I got caught and sold,” I growled, fisting his shirt. Echo jerked back, glanced over his shoulder before locking eyes with me. “Her name’s Kylie if my memory is right. She pushed me into one of the people hunting us so she could save her own skin. There were only three of us that were caught.”

“What do you want me to do?”
“Just stay by me, I feel like I’m gonna be sick.”

Echo embraced me, tucking my head close to his chest so I could not see the bloodied scene around us or the traitor standing not so far away. The adrenaline still running through me prevented me from feeling anything else but the need to fight, to be watchful of the people around me. But there was a tickling emotion at the back of my mind, wanting me to acknowledge the things we had done in a matter of seconds resulted in seven dead bodies. Did Echo and Rooi feel this too?

“Don’t think about it, wait until we get back to base,” Echo mumbled, holding me tighter. Nodding, I took a deep breath before exhaling, trying to steady myself again.

“Alpha, Echo, go check on Victor and the others. We will be out in a bit,” Kingston ordered, tucking his rifle close to his chest as his head moved around the room, scanning it for anything else of importance. Kylie glanced in our direction just as we separated, eyes widening, her mouth opening and closing like a fish as her clear want to take a step forward showed, but her weak legs prevented her. As she stumbled and with one final glaring look, I saw recognition in her eyes.

Outside, Victor and Fox were helping to load two people into one Humvee while the rest of Alpha team spoke to Tango and an unknown man in the light coming from the Humvee. With the way they stood and spoke, it was too serious of a conversation for us to interrupt. Instead, we trudged over to the Humvee, watching as Victor hissed a threat at the two people they had thrown into the backseat.

“What happened to all the rich people?” Echo asked, hand coming to hold mine as we stopped. Fox sighed, throwing a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of Tango and the other man.

“They showed up just before you guys came out the warehouse and told them to bugger off or be arrested under government military handling,” Fox explained. With a shake of his head, he folded his arms over his chest.

“What happened inside? Is the kid one of us?” Victor piped up, tucking his hands into his pant pockets.

“You don’t want to know,” I mumbled, feeling acid burn the back of my throat. Echo squeezed my hand, shoulder brushing up against mine.

“The girl inside is like us, she was at the camps. I think her name is Kylie, we bumped into each other the one time,” Echo lied, glancing at me when I didn’t say anything.

“Hope she doesn’t come back to base with us, five is enough for our team and dorm, don’t you think Alpha?” Victor joked, smirking as he slammed the Humvee door shut.

“I ain’t gonna let anyone else join,” I laughed feeling a little better at his words. “That girl doesn’t look like she could handle us or even get along with us.”

We stayed there until Tango motioned us over and Kingston was walking out with Murphy, Rooi and a confused looking Kylie. Not wanting her to look at me, I made sure that Axel was just a little bit in front of me and Echo obliged to do the same as long as I kept holding his hand.

“You guys did nice work here tonight, well done,” Tango began, a large grin on his face. “We will be escorting the two Evolved agents to a secured facility while the rest of you, including the newly acquired Gifted, will head back to base. Debriefing will happen later tomorrow.”

Everyone nodded. Kylie stared around in bewilderment, Rooi and Kingston on either side of her. When our eyes met, the unspoken question was there. What happened to you? The response she got was a glare and the turning of my back as we headed back the way we had come.

Once back at the two Humvees, I made damn sure that Kylie was not catching a ride in our Humvee as Kingston wanted. Fox gave up his spot, saying that he would fly back and that he needed the practice. With that, Kylie hoped in with Rooi and Victor and I could cuddle close to Echo without her questioning me.

“You know she’ll try to talk to you once we get back. She most likely will be staying in our dorm too,” Echo whispered, arm pulling me close to his side. Kingston was locked in conversation with Neo and Murphy, making him oblivious to our own.

“I know, but it’s not like I’m gonna try to ignore her. Maybe if we go for showers as soon as we get back then go straight to bed?”
“You’re optimistic, but I will be by your side in case she tries anything.”

Echo leaned his head on top of mine, relaxing his body against mine as the dirt road bounced our Humvee along. The question now was if my mind would allow me to sleep after tonight’s events...

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