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Chapter Five

When I woke up, I was half-expecting to see Damian next to me and yesterday was just a dream drawn up by my wild imagination. Though, when I blinked my eyes open, Echo’s sleeping face greeted me not Damian’s. Yesterday was real...

“Stop staring,” Echo mumbled, eyes fluttering open. This close, I could see gold spirals decorating the dark green of his irises and dilated pupils.

Clearing my throat, I leaned my head back to give him space. As I moved, my exposed neck rubbed against the rough pillowcase, sending pricks of pain into my skin. Echo was up in an instant, towering over me as his hand came to cup the side of my neck, eyes changing as his cryokinesis kicked in.

“I’ll have to bandage your neck before we leave for breakfast,” He muttered, eyes fading to their original colour as his arm dropped to the mattress.

“When does everything start working around here?” Moving onto my back, I stretched, hearing my spine pop.

“Normally six but since you are new, we have this week to get you adjusted to life here.” He leaned back against the wall, yawning. “We should get going before the leader of Alpha team comes looking for us.”

“Do they do that often?”
“When they have the chance, Victor generally gets us up half an hour before everyone else.”

We were quiet, trying to come out of the blanket of sleep when Victor walked by the opening to my area. He stopped, glared at Echo before sneering at me.

“You sleep well princess or did your hero whisper sweet nothings until you did?”
“Shut up, Vic. Your jealous ass could leave me alone for a night or two.”

Victor snorted but a small smile showed itself on his lips before he carried on walking, calling for Rooi and Fox to wake up and get ready for the day.

“Come on lazy bones, time to get up.” Echo smirked as he got off his bed, straightening his nightshirt so it covered the peeking abs from underneath. Snickering, I pulled my blanket over my head, getting ready to go back to sleep when my comfy bed was replaced abruptly by the rough carpet and my head bounced off the floor. Sighing, I glared up at Echo, feeling his eyes on me.

“You’re mean you know that?” Grumbling, I pulled myself to my feet as Echo walked past, snickering to himself.

Breakfast was awkward and under a blanket of tension. Tango was nowhere to be seen as well as Foxtrot. The glares we were receiving from all around the mess hall did not help, making me think that every move I made was being judged. It took all my might not to squirm in my seat or just give up eating all together. When that ordeal was done with, Echo made sure he was by my side as we made our way to the outside training area. Alpha team was already warming up, waiting to drill with us. The drill instructor’s eyes were immediately on me as I walked by, the clogs in his head working just under his eyes.

“Gifted, take a lap around the field. When you get back, Alpha team will drill with you. Newbie, you better keep up,” He ordered, narrowing his eyes at me. In return, I nodded, following the others in a jog.

“Take it easy. Alpha team will take any ounce of energy left in you when we drill,” Victor breathed, taking lead. Echo kept to my side, matching my pathetic pace while Rooi and her brother stayed close behind Victor.

“Drill instructor Oswell won’t pair you with someone he doesn’t think you can’t take,” Echo said, side-glancing me.

Somehow, that did not make me feel any better when we got back. I was breathing hard but I refused to show it. Oswell ordered us to line up facing Alpha team. The soldiers in front of me looked mean, rough, ready to crush us, crush me.

“Usual partners, but I want Kingston to go with Alpha.” The man in front of me nodded, dark eyes on me and a smug smile on his lips. Alpha? Why the hell was my nickname Alpha?

“Sir, Alpha has not drilled before, surely he should go with someone-” Echo tried to say, but Instructor Oswell stopped him.

“Echo, let the top of your kind battle with the top of ours,” Oswell said, amusement clear in his voice. He wanted me to get beaten up.

“Powers or not?” I asked, feeling everyone’s eyes on me.

“Choose the less deadly power of yours,” He replied with the nod of his head. “This only applies to Alpha. The rest of you, go find a spot and spar. If you are pinned on your back, you are out.”

Everyone moved off with their partners to patches on the grass that had turned brown from being overly used. Kingston did not move from where he stood, deciding that we would spar on the pebbled assembly point. When I opened my mouth to question his decision, he lunged at me. His fingers nicked my stomach as I jumped back just in time.

“Better focus before I beat your ass,” Kingston growled, standing inches away from me. My legs began to shake as he raised his fists up, trying to punch me but, maybe it was because of who I was in school, I could see exactly how it would connect to my jaw before his fist was shoulder level. Somehow, I could also sense metal on him. The knife on his hip hidden in its sheath, the dog tags around his neck, the bullet in his front pocket. Was this another ability showing through, my second?

Kingston lunged at me again, this time his fist connected with my stomach making me stumble over, gasping for breath. He laughed, his leg coming up to kick my side just as I dropped down onto my stomach. Bad move. Kingston was on top of me like a shark on a fresh kill. He pulled my arm back so I was slightly raised off the ground, my exposed skin on my stomach pushing down onto the pebbles painfully. Pain shot through my body as he moved, knee coming to lean onto my spine. Grunting, I let out a breathy laugh.

“The collar burned worse than this,” I spat. Kingston growled low in his chest, pulling harder on my arm to the point I was waiting for it to pop out of the socket. Under the blanket of pain, my thoughts were clouded and desperate to get away. Something tugged in my core and the pressure on my shoulder left abruptly as Kingston shouted. Twisting onto my back, I pushed myself onto my feet, standing defensively over him, trying to find the reason he had let me go. When I saw it, I wanted to laugh. His own knife was thrust into his thigh, his hand bloody as he held it in place before further damage could be done to the muscle.

“Get out of the way, Gifted!” Oswell shouted as he shoved me away into Echo’s arms. He held me steady as we watched Oswell and another soldier help Kingston to his feet. As they passed, Kingston spat at my feet, his words burning into my memory as a threat for the future. Watch your back, kid.

“Are you okay?” Echo asked, turning me around so we could face each other. My body was shaking, the world spinning as my hands held onto Echo’s arm tighter.

“A-are we done?” He looked at me confused, still trying to figure out what was wrong. The metallic taste of blood was becoming thick on my tongue, making me feel nauseous. “P-please take me to the dorm, I-I’m gonna be sick.”

“Shit, your nose is bleeding!” He grabbed my shoulders, the green of the training grounds changing to the tiled walls of the bathroom. Disorientated, I stumbled to the nearest toilet and vomited. Echo was by my side, rubbing my back as blood ran down my top lip.

“W-what’s happening to me?” Groaning, I held folded tissue paper to my nose, stomach clenching as blood continued to assault my tongue.

“You’re developing a new gift,” Echo stated, looking surprised as he slid to the ground next to me. “You need to rest or you’ll make yourself feel worse.”

“I-I need to shower first, my body’s sore and sticky,” I tried to argue, climbing to my feet by using the wall and Echo’s guiding his hands.

“Sleep first then shower.” I don’t know how but Echo managed to get me into my bed, my head resting on his thigh as he read his book aloud and the blankets drawn up to my chin.

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