The circle of men was intense with shouting and jostling as they cheered on their friends. Scattered among them were Alpha team, watching on with knowing smirks, clapping and encouraging us on.
Somehow Hunter and I ended up working together against the men who had taken us down in the cabin. Miles, Hunter’s partner, had crashed into my match circle, causing the crowd to envelop us together. Both men were bleeding and gasping for breath, my guy Kyle holding his side I had kicked with a grimace. But then something changed in them.
Kyle stood up straight, cracking his knuckles as if a second wind had hit him. Miles smirked, pulling out a knife to the crowd’s pleasure and our dismay. Glancing over at Hunter, he seemed to be concentrating on the blade but nothing was happening. A tic formed in his jaw as he growled. Gritting my teeth, I loosened my limbs out, ready to attack.
Kyle was the one to launch himself at me, taking my attention away from Hunter as he rammed his shoulder into my chest, sending me off balance. Teleporting, I appeared behind him already sending a fist to his back. Like a bull, he grunted and turned, eyes flickering red and catching me off guard. He took the chance, grabbing my neck as Hunter shouted. Clawing at Kyle’s wrist, I flicked my eyes to Hunter who was on his back, Miles’ knife pressing against his neck as flames ingulfed his arm. Kyle’s fist met sand as I stumbled into Miles, messily tackling him off Hunter. The smell of burnt flesh filling my nostrils. The crowd stopped cheering only then as realization hit.
Miles was on top of me, elbow smashing into my temple. My vision blacked out, pain sparking from my chest as I tried to kick him off, throwing wild punches and only connecting some as the pain in my chest escalated. His weight was soon taken off me as cold sea water blasted over us, pushing him off as my vision returned. When I tried to push myself up, Lee was by my side, keeping me down. His eyes were wide and unmoving from my chest. Following his gaze, I saw Miles’ knife stuck in me. Ignoring it and shoving Lee away, I stood up, grabbing the grip and pulling it out. Anger pooled in my stomach as I saw Hunter on his stomach, a dark stain forming on his shirt.
Kyle and Miles’ were being held back by Kingston and Murphy. Victor, Fox and Rooi were standing guard over Hunter while Neo crouched by his side. Glaring at the two soldiers, I felt the cold seeping into my veins, turning them an icy-blue as my breath misted. Victor caught my gaze, nodding. He moved his arms as he gathered the water at his feet and shot it at the men. Kingston and Murphy jumped out of the way as I lifted my own arm, forming a fist. The water crystalized as it hit Kyle and Miles, throwing them back. Touching my hand to the hole in my chest, I felt the warmth of my blood as I sealed the wound with ice. Walking up to Hunter, everyone besides the Gifted backed away. Touching Hunter, I gave a nod to Victor, teleporting us to the cabin.
The beach morphed into the inside of the cabin; sand replaced by tile. Hunter groaned as he lay on the floor. Not giving it another thought, I picked him up gently and took him to our room where I stripped him of his shirt and moved him onto his stomach so I could examine his back.
A large, deep gash ran the length of the small of his back, oozing blood at a steady rate. It did not look like there was any sand in the wound so I could work on it immediately. Sighing, I sat on my side of the bed, gingerly touching my hands to his wound and sealing it with my ice. Hunter grimaced before his body went rigid.
“Don’t move, sit still will ya?”
Rolling my eyes, I focused more on his wound where his movement had cracked the ice before asking about what he had remembered.
“What Damian said.” Hunter rested his head on the mattress, arms on either side of his head, waiting for my response to continue. “He told me that Evolved was working with some scientists. They are working on a drug that will turn soldiers into Gifted like Rooi. Strong and deadly. I think we found the scientists and their new drug. Those men, they almost hit a switch when they were tiring out.”
“Then we have to tell the others and get off this island.” Moving my hands, I inspected his wound, feeling the ache of my own as I moved to lean back on my hands. “Don’t move now.”
“You... You were different when you teleported us here, I could feel it. You were colder than usual. Was it because of what Evolved did to you?” Hunter’s voice was hesitant, the words barely audible.
“Maybe. Seeing you hurt, it triggered something in me similar to the rage I felt when I was held by them.” Falling silent, I debated whether to continue. The scars seeming to burn with life at the memories wanting to be shared. “They cut us to see how fast we healed, starved us and slowly dwindled our water supply. We were so weak we could no longer fight back when they came to take us to the test rooms. Nearing the end, before Alpha team got us, they were taking blood and tissue samples. There were three others with us, the third did not make it and the other two escaped in the havoc.”
Hunter’s hand gripped mine, his warmth bringing back some of mine as he squeezed. Laying down, he moved to rest his head on my shoulder, arm going over my stomach as he winced as the ice made an audible crack. Taking in a deep breath, I ran my hand through his hair as I reflected back.
It had been my last day in high school. I had just broken up with my girlfriend as things at home started to escalate to the point, living there was suffocating. Mom had her newest boyfriend over when it happened. Blood started gushing out of my nose when Paul was boasting about the other girls who were willing to sleep with him but I was lucky because he chose to be with mom instead. My blood was tinged blue on my shirt. The next day I was walking home when a black van had stopped in front of me and guys dressed in black grabbed me. After that, it was test tubes and blades, screams and agony, pleas falling on deaf ears.
“We need to find a way to fight back, to prove we still have a place in this world,” I muttered, moving my hand slowly down his back to feel the ice slowly giving way to his newly repaired skin.
“How do you propose we do that?” Hunter asked.
“I don’t know but we will find a way. Evolved’s only got one facility, the same thing with these guys, maybe we can burn them down? That would be a statement.”
“I guess. Do you think Alpha team and Tango will help us?”
“I really can’t say, babe. I hope they would...”