Her face no longer matched the photograph the news had shown. Behind the bars, the shadows circled her, forming caves in her sunken cheeks. Her purple eyes black, glaring at us with mistrust.
“Who are you?” She growled, voice deep, ground-shaking under our bare feet.
“We’re Gifted. I felt the structure of the base shaking, we came to get you out,” I explained, beginning to bend the bars at the bottom apart. Her eyes dropped to watch, slowly changing back to their iridescent purple.
“My friend, he was taken by the scientists, have you seen him?” She came to stand in front of the cell door, hand gripping one of the bars as she caught my eye. “Answer me.”
“Three of my group went to rescue him. I’m guessing he is Rylan and you are Angel?” Fox asked. She was silent before shaking her head and clicking her tongue, climbing through the bent bars. As she stood in front of us in grimy, ripped clothing, she snorted.
“It’s Rook. Angel is dead.”
“Noted, Let’s get going before-”
A shrill alarm cut Fox off, spinning lights sending the prison block into dreadful red. Panic began to rise in my throat. What had happened to set the alarms off? Did the others get captured? Was Echo okay?
“Alpha, take us to the others, now,” Fox ordered, bringing me to my senses. Fear flitted over his eyes, a tic forming in his jaw. Nodding, I zoned in on Echo by the knife he wore strapped to his calf.
Twice we had to slip into dark rooms, men rushing past the doors as we held our breaths. Rook was trembling by the time we were near Echo. The hallway we were in was nowhere near the laboratory but close to the ladder. The heavy taste of smoke was strong on my tongue, the hue of it coming through the overhead vents. When we rounded the corner, the backs of soldiers greeted us. Over their shoulders stood the others, battered and bruised with Rylan hanging onto Echo’s shoulder while Rooi and Victor stood protectively in front of them.
“You’re trespassing, leave the boy and go before we use force,” One man shouted, voice commanding like Teagan’s.
“I don’t think so,” Victor growled, raising his hands. Out of thin air came droplets of water, sharpened edges facing the men. When his eyes pinned on us, a smirk formed on his lips. “You shouldn’t threaten us when our strength more than doubles yours.”
At his words, Rook stomped her foot, the floor crumbling under the men’s feet. Her hand came to grip on my shoulder as the men stumbled around as the floor disappeared under them. Adding my touch, I bent the metal flooring around them, acting like a tin for their wriggling bodies.
We did not wait to jump the gap, quickly catching up with the others as we rushed towards the ladder. Shouts echoed off the hallway walls as another group hunted us down. When the ladder came into sight, Echo was the first to scale up it, followed by a struggling Rylan and a determined Rook.
Outside, cold, salty-ocean air hit my face like a wall as I scrambled out of the hatch. Only then did I pick up the amount I had sweated by the icy-chill dripping down my spine. The others were drenched as well, soaking in the cold as they breathed in the air. The rest was short-lived when the thump of boots on the rungs of the ladder echoed up. Grunting, I helped Rook to her feet as we began to move into a jog then sprint. The peace of the crashing waves was broken as the bangs of guns went off; bullets zipping passed us.
“Echo!” Victor shouted, arms pumping at his sides. “Teleport, now!”
More bullets shot passed us, the soldiers’ aims getting sharper. As the world around us disappeared, a scream ripped out of Victor. The sand gave way to hard soil, Victor falling hard onto the ground as the cabin’s lights washed over us. The metallic smell of blood thick in the air.
Echo jumped into action, handing Rylan off to Fox before rolling Victor onto his back and pushing the staining shirt up. The exit wound on his front was leaking blood at a steady pace, skin blown outwards. The entry only allowing a dark red trickle. Echo placed both his hands on the exit wound, red staining his hands as he pushed down. Cold radiated off him as icicles slowly formed around the wound. But something was wrong. Victor’s face was continuing to lose its colour.
“It’s not working...” Echo muttered in disbelief, veins turning white as he pushed himself.
“Try harder,” Rooi cried, voice raw with tears glistening on her cheeks, clasping Victor’s hand as running boots came from the direction of the cabin. Warmth fell over my own cheeks as I watched on, helpless.
“Victor, please don’t leave. You... You have to hold on.” Rooi’s voice cracked, sobs choking her speech.
“Vic, I’m sorry,” Echo cried, broken voice breaking me further as I fell to my knees at his side. “I can’t help you...”
“It’s okay, Vince,” Came Victor’s fragile voice. “Just look after them...”
There was a sad smile on his lips, eyes glistening as he turned his head to look up at the stars. His chest rose and fell with one final breath, tears gliding down his ashen cheeks. Rooi gently placed his hand down at his side, resting her forehead against his shoulder. Echo leaned into me, silent tears rushing down his cheeks. Fox was being held by Kingston, face tucked close to his neck. Tango was next to them, watching on with an unreadable expression.
“We have to go,” Came his emotionless order.
“What about Victor?” Fox asked, voice breaking when he said his name. “We can’t leave him here.”
“I’ll carry him, hurry to the cabin and get your gear. We need to leave now,” Kingston stated, bending and picking up Victor gingerly.
Taking a deep breath, I stood up, helping Echo. He tilted his head back, breathing in as he calmed himself before looking forward, hate and anger burning in his forest-green eyes. Slipping my hand into his, I squeezed it letting go.
We followed our order, rushing to the cabin, grabbing our bags and not missing a beat with taking Victor’s. Cat stood with Magnolia and Missile, glancing at us as we worked. Alpha team had grabbed guns, Axel tasting like metal as he watched over the door. When all was ready, we took off behind Tango and Kingston, Victor’s body wrapped up in a sheet on Kingston’s shoulder.
The beach sand sucked at our feet, the waves crashing around the shadow of the boat waiting to be boarded. Before we reached it though, I sensed incoming bullets to our right. Dropping my bag, I threw up my hands, stopping bullets at different speeds and rotations. Echo dropped his bag, coming to stand by me, cold radiating off him as the enemy soldiers showed themselves.
“Echo, Alpha, stand down, now,” Tango ordered in vain.
The flick of my wrists was automatic like the guns the men used, sending the sharpened edges of the bullets back at them as Echo raised ice from the ground, jagged points kicking up. Screams greeted our attack. A smile formed on my lips just as someone grabbed my shoulder, shoved my bag into my arms and pushed me toward the boat. Murphy had done the same to Echo.
We were on the boat then, the engines roaring as Taylor and Murphy pushed the boat off the beach. Tango gripped my shoulder painfully, leaning down to my ear and whispering, voice low and dangerous. He did the same to Echo before unlatching his nails and leaving us. Echo came to stand next to me, hand coming to hold mine.
“You okay?” He asked, leaning into me. Nodding, I leaned back, holding tight as the boat hit the choppy waves, escaping into the night.
“As long as I am with you, I’m okay.”