Our feet thumped on the hardened soil before digging into the sand. The moon was bright, highlighting our path as Hunter led us to where the opening to the underground base was supposed to be.
After he had felt the base shaking, I had gone to wake up the others and brought them up to speed. When shown the coding, Victor instantly recognized it, confirming what I had understood. A Gifted was below using their abilities to form morse code, shouting that they had been captured.
“It should be around here,” Hunter muttered before clicking his tongue. “There’s something here that’s scrambling my senses.”
Touching his arm, I glanced around. We were on the edge of the tropical forest where the sand and soil met. The trees on this side of the island were denser, vines hanging from branches and moss decorating rocks and bark. It was difficult but eventually I could make out the hard edges of the entrance. It was a hatch with stone surrounding it, mottled with fungi. With one glance, you would not see it.
“There.” Pointing it out, I walked forward, going to open it when Victor grabbed my elbow.
“The base is full of soldiers; we need to rely on stealth. As soon as we are down there, we are the enemy,” Victor stated. “We rescue that Gifted, grab Alpha team and destroy the lab, everyone okay with that?”
“Don’t forget Magnolia and her raccoon,” Fox added before sarcastically placing his hands on his hips. “Oh, and that escape plan so we don’t die.”
“Cat’s working on it,” Victor muttered. “No more stalling, let’s go.”
Nodding, I lifted the hatch. Ladder rungs illuminated by dim lights were bolted to the wall, leading down into the base. Taking a deep breath, I gazed over our group before climbing down. The metal rungs’ jagged edges dug into my palms and bare feet. When I touched the freezing metal floor, Hunter descended followed by the others. Only then, with both feet planted on the floor, could I feel the subtle shifting under us as the Gifted continued to signal their capture and want to escape. Help. Captured. Cell Six.
Without a word, Hunter took point with me behind him, Rooi and Fox took middle while Victor pulled up the rear. We had no training in this but it felt natural as we fell instep, peeking around corners and sticking to the shadows. Hunter’s electric power dimmed the lights, Fox spinning an air bubble around us to muffle our footfalls.
We moved swiftly passed hallways, the thrum of electricity close to our ears as we hugged the walls. When we snuck into the sleeping quarters, my heart was in my ears as anger bubbled up in my chest. The shuffling and snoring of the men behind their doors made me grit my teeth. Here they were sleeping peacefully, vulnerable to the fact that their base had been infiltrated. The pull to destroy that peace, to prove their vulnerability was strong. To rip that blanket from under them and let the chaos swallow them whole.
“Alpha team’s in here, I’ll be quick,” Hunter whispered, dragging me out of my thoughts. He touched my arm before slipping into a dark room. Pushing myself against the wall, I strained to hear voices and bootfalls further down the hallway. Hunter popped back, the hard lights above flickering.
“What’s happening?” Victor asked, coming close.
“Kingston will meet us at the cabin. Murphy knows where they hide the boats,” Hunter answered, stilling before grimacing. “There’s movement in the lab, two hallways down, three people with one handcuffed and squirming on a metal table.”
“We need to hurry.” Automatically, I started heading down the hallway until Hunter grabbed my hand.
“Fox and I will go to the prison block. You, Victor and Rooi go there. Stay silent.”
Nodding, I squeezed his hand before letting go. Fox and Hunter went left while we continued straight. On our right, we could hear the desperate clanging of chains, muffled shouts and keen voices. Glancing at each other, we jumped through the doors.
Two scientists stood frozen on either side of the metal table, their eyes wide in the seconds it took Victor to pull the water out of the taps from behind them and me to freeze around them and over their mouths.
Running to the table, I iced up the chains before breaking them off of his wrists and ankles. When he sat up, I had to blink. The muzzle only allowed me to see his eyes but I knew who they belonged to.
“Rylan?” His eyes widened before he grabbed me in a bearhug. I hugged him back, his body trembling against mine as hot tears dropped onto my neck. Holding him close, I worked on the clasps keeping the muzzle on. When we let go, it dropped with a thud, revealing Rylan’s large grin, metal canines flashing.
“I thought you were dead, Vinnie!” He held onto my shoulders, looking me up and down before noticing Rooi and Victor. “Are they...”
“Yes, but we need to get to the others,” Victor stated, glaring at the scientists before landing his eyes on their work. “First though, we should destroy all of this.”
“Sounds perfect to me,” Rooi growled, turning her eerie gold eyes to the scientists before cracking her knuckles. “You in, new guy?”