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Chapter Forty-One

As soon as those words left the soldier’s mouth, a burst of adrenaline hit me. The cell door swung open and I allowed myself to fully open up my mind, searching for all the guards. Their minds were frantic, screaming with activity that would allow me to slip in with ease. Before I could do anything, Sophia was asking for one of the soldier’s knives.

“What gift do you have?” He asked, pulling out a switchblade from his pocket, eyes peering down the hallway. Sophia smirked, her weak twelve-year-old face seeming to get stronger as she slit her skin.

“Blood control.” Her blood floated above her torn skin, hardening into spiked orbs before going back to its liquid state. Alarms began blaring, sending the cellblock into a bloody red colour. The soldier smiled, giving an approving nod.

It was utter chaos as we ran through the halls, burning down rooms and killing anyone who got in our way. Our team was handpicked, but our inexperience as a group showed as we bickered and fought before Triston let go of one of his charged orbs and destroyed more of the underground base than needed.

“Where’s Axel meeting us?” Echo shouted, icing over the flames so they wouldn’t block our exit. Two guards came sprinting out one of the rooms, both meeting a swift end from Claude.

“Right here.” Axel came bounding around the corner, prisoners behind him. Damian with him. There was no time for the shock of his appearance to settle in, we needed to get out.

“Backtrack now. Did you plant the bomb?” A girl next to Damian caught my attention. She was limping, leaning heavily against him as if she trusted him with her life. There were others injured holding onto each other.

“Yes, in the lab with all the Gifted samples as requested.” Axel lifted a boy onto his back, the boy unconscious.

“Everyone, form a protective circle, support the injured!” I ordered, heading towards the girl, feeling both Echo’s and Damian’s eyes on me. “I’ll carry you if you don’t mind.”

The girl nodded, unsteady on her feet. She was deathly pale, but she was not bleeding externally, just covered in scabbed wounds. Glancing at Damian, he couldn’t look me in the eye. Throwing it aside, time was of the essence. I bent my knees, Damian helping the girl onto my back. She hooked her arms around my neck, breath ragged.

“We must hurry before-” Axel was cut off as bullets rained towards us, aim lacking in skill. Managing to stop them from getting closer, I watched as five guards dropped their guns, screaming horridly as blood seeped from their eyes, ears and nose. Damian was staring at them, silver eyes glowing with revenge and hands shaking.

“We must leave, now!” Echo shouted, grabbing the nearest Gifted and pushing him the way we had come. Hefting the girl my back into a more comfortable spot, we ran as a group out of the underground base, passed dead bodies and blood-stained crumbling walls. When the strong smell of the ocean and the light of the exit came into view, we all pumped our limbs harder as the bomb went off. The building began to fall apart behind us, the floor cracking as we barely got out before it gave one more moan and collapsed. Seawater crashed over the destroyed entrance, burying the guards in a watery tomb.

As soon as I was outside, the gunfight around us stopped with the soldiers stepping away from their enemies with confusion. Glancing at Damian, I watched as sweat dripped down the sides of his face. He looked at me as if asking for orders. Thinking of my answer, I watched in awe as a smirk graced his lips and the guards who had kept him and the other Gifted prisoner began to scream bloody murder as they turned their weapons on each other and themselves. It was instant bloodshed.

“To the ship, now!” Tango took charge, helping Taylor to his feet as he swiped blood off his face. Dark clouds began to form as Rylan morphed into existence.

In a way, it felt like the night we had lost Victor while rescuing Rook and Rylan. The difference, however, as Echo teleported us, was that we were prepared for a fight and the casualties.

I felt seasick as the ship, a navy carrier, cut through the waves, surging forward with each dip and rise of the ocean even with a hydrokinetic trying his best to make it a calm bubble around us. The ocean was wild and followed its own rules.

Sophia, who sat groggily next to me on a cushioned bench, looked green as she gulped down bottles of water. She had used too much of her blood in the fight out of the cellblock even though I said I would handle it. Her stubborn need to help outweighed my fight to stop her.

“Damian, can I talk to you?” Gazing up, I saw Hunter. He was trying hard not to show emotion, biting the inside of his cheek to keep himself in check most likely.

“Sure. Sophia, try rest and no blood play.” She flipped me off as she curled up on the bench, hugging a water bottle to her chest. Following Hunter to a secluded corner, I took a deep breath.

“What do you-” Hunter threw his arms around my waist, burying his face in my chest. He was shaking, his mind a frantic mess as it called out to me. Resisting, I held him until the shaking stopped before leaning my chin on his head.

“I didn’t expect you to do this, especially after everything,” I confessed. Hunter sniffed as Echo briskly walked past us. Where was he hiding?

“I...don’t know why,” Hunter mumbled, finally letting go and taking a step back. “I was worried in this weird way, okay. You still looked after me for six months, even though you did horrible stuff to me, I couldn’t bring myself to leave you in there to rot. It did not feel right.”

“Then, what do you plan on doing with me now?” Leaning against the wall, I felt my stomach rise in my throat as the boat lurched to its side. Hunter shook his head, holding himself before meeting my gaze.

“I really don’t know, but if you are willing to be transparent with us and not cause trouble, maybe you can find a home with us?” Hunter smiled shyly at his words. Was there a tiny bit of him still willing to trust me after everything?

“Are you sure?” I pursed my lips, trying not to get ahead of myself. “I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or cause more trouble at this camp. Your new boyfriend is already giving me the stink eye and I’m sure you are just being kind and don’t actually mean it.”

“Well, I do,” Hunter stated plainly. “I really do because you can help protect the camp. You’ve got connections and money we both know you don’t know what to do with. You already showed compliance when you looked to me for orders anyway, meaning you don’t feel like a king anymore, do you?”

“Point taken.” Sighing, I scratched the back of my neck as my stomach rumbled. Hunter chuckled, offering me his hand. “Won’t your boyfriend be made?”

“For the time being, but I will apologize later. For now, you and the others need a proper meal and rest before we get to our new home. So, come on.” Hesitantly, I took his hand, still small in mine, but this time it wasn’t shaking or fragile.

“We’re safe now, right Damian?” Sophia asked as we walked to the mess hall. Smiling down at her, I swung my arm over her shoulders.

“I do believe we are, Soph.”

“You sure about this, Alpha? There’s no turning back after this,” Rylan warned while we sat at the back of the Humvee, coming to the clearing next to Camp Dragonfly.

“Yes. He’s genuine in helping us, Reign.” Rylan chuckled at his nickname while shaking his head. Then his eyes landed on my neck and he began to smirk.

“At least you and Echo made up. Though, calling you Alpha may have to change to Cheetah or Leopard.”
“Shut up! I can see the hickey Rook left on your collarbone so you have no room to talk.”

Rylan went silent before muttering, “Touché.”

“Something tells me we are going to need Damian anyway,” Tango muttered as he parked the Humvee. “We will keep an eye on him until he proves himself, but when anyone tries to attack, he will be a strong ally.”

“You think we will be attacked even though we have a country protecting us?” I asked, shrugging on my winter jacket. Tango was silent for a heartbeat before slumping in the driver’s seat.

“Hunter, Gifted will always be under some sort of attack until the whole population on this planet has power, it’s how we humans work.” He held the steering wheel loosely. “We have to be prepared for anything and this country is willing to do that. But we still need help.”

“And that’s where we come in?” Rylan prompted with a cocky smirk.

“The government has made Camp Dragonfly private land. Anyone who crosses it without permission will be punished by the head of security and Gifted. The rights they have given us almost makes us our own little country,” Tango explained, rubbing a hand over his face. “I expect a massive thank you with a six-pack of beer.”

“I can give you a thank you and one soda,” Rylan stated, making us chuckle. When we left the Humvee, it was with the intent of building a better future for ourselves.
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