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Chapter Twenty-Nine

It had been some time after I had teleported Hunter and me back to the cabin when the others and Alpha team came through. By then, I had been making tea for Hunter and Cat and coffee for myself before adding four more mugs to the mix.

Stirring the black liquid, I glanced over to him. He was still sitting on our couch, hugging a cushion to his chest while his legs were crossed. His face was still pale but slowly was regaining its colour after our shower. The marks I had left behind on his collarbone just peeking out from under my shirt he wore.

“I’m glad both of you are okay. Teagan was not pleased to see the mess his men had created and sent them straight back to base where Tango will be taking care of their deflection,” Kingston explained, taking a sip from his bitter drink. “Thanks, Echo.”

Nodding, I sat down next to Hunter, arm coming to rest on the back of the couch. He leaned into my side, blowing onto his tea. Glancing around, I checked out the damage the other Gifted had been dealt. Victor had a black eye forming on his right eye, cheek discoloured from where he had been punched and a split lip to finish it off. Rooi looked similar, holding her side as she leaned back into the couch cushions. Fox was untouched compared to them but then again, he had an unusual fighting style.

“Good, but I noticed something about them,” I started, skimming my eyes over the group. Neo and Taylor seemed to straighten at that, Cat’s face crinkling in curiosity. “Their eyes changed, or at least Kyle’s did before he came at me. Both men were so exhausted, but it was like they got a second wind as soon as they took out their knives like a switch had been hit. You have been with them, has anything been off?”

“Things in the base, it’s suffocating,” Neo stated carefully, setting his jaw. “When Teagan was giving us the tour, there were so many locked rooms and men in lab coats running around with secretive glances at us. The food they give certain soldiers is also questionable and always coupled with pills. Everyone acts like its normal, even the instructors when two or three men are called away before coming back as if they snorted heroin.”

“Some guys I have spoken to also seemed off. Just the way they had to think for answering, glancing at each other or just blatantly answering like they were robots,” Murphy added, looking over at Axel. “Axe, you’re the one who picked up on the weird scarring, care to full us in?”

Axel was sat at the island counter, glaring at his mug. He seemed like he had not heard Murphy, his foot tapping away on the floor before he looked up at us with glazed eyes. He blinked and gave us a confused frown.

“Sorry, did you say something?” Taylor snorted, repeating what Murphy had said. Axel pursed his lips, nodding and sighing through his nose.

“Six of them were getting changed in the locker-room. All of them had these, on first glance, matching tattoos but when one walked by there were indentations in his skin. They were like brandings you would give cattle. The pattern was circular, three dots in the middle. The dots seemed to be injection wounds though so whatever these scientists are doing, it's leaving massive scarring.” He shook his head, turning his attention to his mug again.

“We need to listen to Damian, get off this island while we have the chance before we become their new test subjects,” Hunter stated, catching everyone’s attention with his ex’s name. “We are sitting specimens for what they want in a powered soldier.”

“Where can we go then? Evolved’s looking for us and Damian’s on your ass. The only base we could call home was compromised and the people we were supposed to depend on don’t want us,” Victor said lowly, glaring at the floor. “You want us to leave, where are we gonna go then?”

Raising an eyebrow at Victor, I shook my head at his undertone of anger. When I went to speak, however, the situation on the TV caught my eye. Grabbing the remote, I turned up the volume so the female reporter’s voice filled the silence.

“At the Capetown Waterfront, an unexpected earthquake has taken place. Sinkholes have also begun appearing in the area, swallowing buildings and roads. Relief has been issued however many casualties have caused a shortage in hands available to help.” Photos and videos of the devastation crossed the screen, ambulances racing down collapsed streets and police cruisers guiding traffic. Two individual pictures then came to rest on the side of the screen. “These two individuals were spotted and believed to be a part of the American Bridgefield Incident.”

The first picture was of a girl with pale skin. Her hair was dyed a metallic green, tied up in a braid, the sides shaved and dark. Dark makeup ringed her purple eyes and made her cheekbones more pronounced. The name under her photo was Angel.

The second photo was of a guy who had a way too familiar toothy grin and mischievous forest-green eyes that seemed to dare the photographer as he glanced over his shoulder and gave them the finger. Under his picture was the name Rylan.

“At the scene, a graffiti tag was identified as the same one shown at two other sites with a similar disaster in Chicago and Seoul. If you—”

“Neo, can you trace that tag?” Hunter asked, pausing the news feed.

“I guess, why?”
“Because that tag means family, meaning they are working with other Gifted.”
“How do you know they are good Gifted?”

Only then did Rylan’s features process in my mind. It had been a while but I recognized him.

“Because that guy there, he’s my cousin.”

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