He looked round at the people in the room in silence as the group around him got to their feet. They must have been a two or three years younger than me. I counted thirteen including the man who had spoken. Thirteen super enhanced humans in a room full of innocent bystanders. If we didn't play this right there was going to be blood on the floor.
I stepped forward and felt Pietro try to grab at my arm but I avoided his grasp. I saw the man's eyes focus on me, he hadn't changed as much as Chris had. His dark hair and eyes were still the same, still cold and hollow. He'd always been so good at manipulating the people closest to him, they saw a man raised above the rest who fought for justice. I saw him for what he really was, a coward and a liar.
"How did you find us?" I asked coming to a stop a few paces in front of him
"We never lost you, I've had eyes on you ever since Brookhaven." he said pointing to a woman to his left, she'd been one of the first to emerge from the trees. I remembered her from school she was an amazing tracker, maybe she had been watching us this whole time.
"Don't do anything you'll regret." I said as a few of them closed in around us.
"Blake come back." I heard someone say behind me but I ignored them
"Yes run back to your family, that's what you do best." said the man in a cold voice "You left us Blake and you abandoned Chris."
I scoffed "Me? I wasn't the one who had him beaten half to death."
There were mutters from the enhanced as I said this but he waved them away "He broke the rules. He had to suffer the consequences."
"You haven't changed a bit." I spat at him and saw something flicker in his eyes "Since when did experimenting on your own people become the plan?"
"We have to be stronger if we are going to survive, they know that. It's what they signed up for."
I noticed a shift in the group, some of them seemed uneasy and looked to one another for reassurance.
"Are you sure? Seems like some of them don't agree with you."
"We had some difficulties along the way but they are loyal to me in a way you could never understand."
"Difficulties?" I asked intrigued then realised what he meant "Oh, I get it. You experimented on them and these are what's left, what happened to the others huh? Did they sign up to die?" I looked round at them and they averted their gaze "You call this loyalty?"
"Like I said, you wouldn't understand. They are the best, the others were weak."
"How many?" I asked trying to keep my voice steady. He just stared at me like he didn't care "How many!"
"Fifteen." he said without blinking "Fifteen dead before we ran out of your blood."
A look of horror crossed my face "Murderer." I said in a vicious voice "How could you they're just kids!"
Again he said nothing. The crowd behind me were becoming restless, I looked over my shoulder and saw Steve, Nat, Clint, and Sam join Pietro and Wanda at the front of the group. Pietro's eyes were begging me to come back but I couldn't, this monster he had to pay.
I turned to face him again. "You don't have to do this, just turn yourself in and nobody has to get hurt." It was a long shot, I knew from the moment I laid eyes on him he wouldn't back down.
"I'm sure, so what did you do with Chris? I thought he'd have made his way back by now."
I stiffened but decided not to lie, these people needed to know the difference between us "He died."
"See?" he said to the group "They'll just kill you anyway."
"That's not what-"
If I hadn't been waiting for it, it might have caught be off guard. He drew back his fist and launched it at me. My own connected with his and I felt a force shudder up my arm as we were both knocked off our feet. Suddenly someone kicked me in the side and I doubled over in pain, it came again and again and I heard yelling all around me.
I caught the next blow in my hand and pulled the person off their feet, they hit the floor next to me and I stamped my foot into their face. They released me right away and grabbed their bleeding nose. Jumping to my feet I saw jets of red energy flying out of Wanda's hands. The people in the room started rushing for the exit but it was blocked by two enhanced. I didn't like to think what would happen if they tried to get out. A blur of colour rushed by me and suddenly I stood across the room with Nat and Pietro. He let me go and I grabbed hold of his hand.
"Did they hurt you?" he said checking the place I'd been kicked.
"No I'm fine." he looked back over at his sister in dismay still holding onto me. I wouldn't make this hard for him.
"Help Wanda I'll be right behind you." he squeezed my hand gratefully and took off.
"Nat what do we do?" I said panic stricken turning to her, she seemed to be surveying the room. Two enhanced guarded the door but they weren't attacking they were just keeping people in. Another two flanked the boss while the rest were single handily taking on the twins, Sam, Clint and Steve. I spotted Rodriguez from the crowd near the door, he met my gaze and my stomach dropped, if we hadn't been in trouble earlier were certainly were now. At least the recruits had formed a protective circle around the guests.
"If we can get the big guy the others might stop, this doesn't have to end with everyone dead."
"I got him." I said and she shook her head
"Not alone you don't." I smiled as she handed me a gun
"Where did you..you know what never mind." she ran forward and I followed close behind her. I rolled out of the way as one of Wanda's energy balls hit someone in the chest and they were blasted out of the open window. Someone grabbed my ankle from the floor and I saw the girl from earlier with blood caked all over her nose.
"Don't" I pleaded as she went to grab my other foot. I didn't want to hurt her but she left me no choice, I had to help Nat. Kicking off my heels I rolled over and punched her in the chest. She spluttered trying to get in air and I wrapped both my legs around her neck holding onto her wrists so she couldn't fight back. She struggled for a moment and then I felt her grip go slack. I let go immediately not wanting to strangle her and got to my feet.
Nat was already halfway to the boss and I scrambled after her. She dispatched another enhanced who had been kicked into her path by Sam, I caught her up just as I heard a loud grunt to my left. Someone slammed into the wall next to me and I looked over to see and large man with a smug look on his face dusting off his hands.
"Quick little basterd." he said and turned away from the wall. I skidded to a stop and saw it was Pietro. Nat looked back at me and nodded "Get him and catch me up."
I grabbed Pietro's arm and helped him stand up. He rubbed the back of his head wincing.
"You alright?" I asked as he shook his head a few times and glared round the room.
"I will be as soon as I get him." he sped off again and I lost sight of him. I didn't have time to worry right now so I took off after Nat. She was mid fight with one of the boss's guards, I tried to sneak past but was caught by the other one.
"Alissa?" I said coming to a stop. I saw a look of recognition cross her face and she pulled me into a hug. I almost laughed but then her grip became tighter and tighter. I tried to kick out but she was so much taller than me and both my arms were pinned down to my sides.
"You left me." she said next to my ear "You left me with this maniac. I thought we were friends. I'm gonna to kill you." I couldn't speak, I couldn't breathe. Black spots popped in front of my vision and I thought ribs were going to break.
"Please." I croaked out and felt her grip loosen slightly. I managed to free my arms and head butted her so hard she fell over. She tried to get to her feet but I knelt on her chest and grabbed her face in my hands. "I'm so sorry." I said and knew what I had to do next, if they had all taken my blood and had my powers, it wasn't just my strength and projection they had.
"Get off me!" she yelled her hands beating hard against ribs. I tried to block out the pain as I saw Nat take down her guard. I had to do this now if we had any chance of living through this.
I leant down and spoke softly to her "Remember that time we were out climbing? I said you couldn't get any higher than me, I thought it would be funny to watch you try though." she started to struggle against me "You did it anyway, to prove me wrong. I should have know you would. You got all the way to the last branch-" her eyes grew wide and unfocused "And it snapped." I said in a shaking voice as she began to moan, she couldn't see me anymore. I knew she was back there, up in the tree. "I'll never forget the sound when you hit the floor." I finished trying to hold back tears. She screamed in pain and I felt her leg jerk to the left, the sound again echoed in my ears as it broke. I scrambled off her and took in a deep shaky breath.
Nat looked down at me sadly "You had to." she said and I nodded
"Yeah, come on." I grabbed my fallen gun from the floor and turned to face the last man. He glared down at Alissa.
"How did you do that?" he asked bitterly "She was my favourite." I held back a scathing comment, she had after all once been my friend. I didn't like anyone talking about her like they owned her.
"You didn't know? This isn't my only power." I said and punched him in the chest. He stumbled back and Nat shot him in the leg. Amazingly he didn't fall over, I watched as he gritted his teeth and pull out the bullet.
"I don't scare that easily." he said and dropped it at our feet. It tinkled to the floor and the room became very quiet. I saw only four enhanced were left standing, two trapped at the door by the crowd, one suspended against the wall by Wanda and the other was begin held in tight neck hold by Steve. "Avengers, what a joke." he said and I turned back to him "You have no idea what it's like on the outside. We are being hunted like animals, Shield wants us on their radar so they can monitor us 24/7, but you-" he said gesturing round me and the twins "You they love."
"I wouldn't go that far." I said thinking of Rodriguez words "But at least we try to do what's right. This is chaos what you've created. Did you really think giving yourself more power would make them less afraid of us?"
"Of course not. I want them to be afraid of us if that's what it takes to be better."
Nat rolled her eyes next to me "You amazingly failed, you can guarantee if they weren't hunting you before, they will be now."
"You said we don't understand what being enhanced really means? Sorry but I think you've got that backwards." He flared his nostrils and glared at me "Being enhanced gives you the ability to use your powers to try and make this crappy world a better place, not the right to do whatever the hell you want and go on a power trip just because you think you deserve it. How do you expect them to trust us with this much power if you go around killing them and experimenting on your own people?"
"I forgot why I hated you so much, you're just as-" I waited for him to continue but he didn't. His eyes so cold before became wide and terrified. I couldn't tell why, I hadn't done anything. I looked behind me but nothing in the room had changed. He coughed and spat out a mouthful of blood.
"Oh my god." I said running forward out of instinct but he pushed me back and I stumbled into Nat.
"Stay back!" he spluttered out and more blood came leaking out of his mouth. I heard awful wrenching noises behind me and saw the other enhanced doubling over and coughing up blood too. Wanda and Steve looked alarmed and let down their captives onto the floor where they lay shaking and bleeding from their ears and eyes.
"What's happening?" asked Clint rolling a boy onto his side so he could breath "They're all dying."
"I don't know." I said dropping to the ground next to Alissa. Black liquid trickled out of the corner of her mouth and she gripped my hand him hers.
"Blake. I don't want..." I stroked her hair as she coughed violently
"I know, I know just hold on." I said tears rolling down my face "Someone call medical!" I yelled as one by one the kids stopped breathing and slumped onto the ground.
Alissa tried to speak again and a red tear escaped from her eye "It's the blood, our bodies are rejecting it. We weren't meant to last this long." she said and took in a long wheezing breath "Don't....don't let them do it again, it's not safe-" her hand went limp in mine and I lay my forehead against hers.
"I won't." I whispered and threw my body across the room to where he lay coughing in a pool of his own blood. He looked at me with wide eyes and shook his head. I let my breath come out through my teeth and knelt down next to him.
"How could you do this you son of a bitch!" I screamed and held my hand over his mouth. He jerked trying to move away but I just glared down at him disgusted. How many lives had he ruined? How many people's children, friends, brothers and sisters had died for his insane power game.
"Twenty seven lives." I said to him quietly as his eyes rolled back into his head and he stopped moving. There was silence in the room as I got to my feet. My dress was soaking in blood and ripped in a few places, my shoes lay long forgotten halfway across the room. I walked forward feeling the slick floor under my bare feet and saw Wanda cradling a boy in her arms as he took his last breath, the kid must have been fourteen at most. I felt sick and wanted nothing more than to be out of this room.
I silently handed my gun to Nat and walked towards the door. The crowd of on lookers stared at me as I passed. I stopped as I reached the door and turned back. Chancellor Rodriguez was staring at the body of a girl next to him, her eyes were still open and she just looked confused.
"I'm sorry we've been an inconvenience to you Chancellor, but the Avengers Initiative will continue to operate from this base, even if we have to do it without the backing of your government." he took his eyes off the girl and looked at me "Is that understood?"
"Yes." he said giving me a low nod and I walked out of the room trailing blood behind me.