A wave of fire lifted the SUV into the air. Letting it fall to more than four meters high against the hard concrete breaking the sidewalk with the impact. The car landed with a crushing clang on his side, just leaving the windshield and pilot's door as feasible escape routes as the fire spread enveloping it in flames that looked like tongues licking the walls of the alleyway but somehow miraculously, the car's integrity remained. Hiding inside the two passengers that inhabited it.
"Move! Move! Move!"
Lane vigorously ordered exploiting his teleportation abilities to land on top of the SUV on fire to started kicking at the pilot's door to make sure the man inside was effectively dead. There was no room for error, this was their chance and if they fail, all the blame would be on his shoulders. He needed to corroborate that Pierce was effectively finite.
The mutant rebel squad surrounded the van as best they could but couldn't get close enough due to the intense flames which made the alley almost uninhabitable. Plunged in the darkness, the flames became the only source of light. Making it almost seemed like hell on earth.
The car was being eaten by the flames and the red fire blew black smoke into the darkened sky. No one could survive that, Reaver or not...it was certain death. But Lane knew better.
"Lane, we have to leave, the gas tank is going to explode-"
"No, it will not. The bastards modify the vehicles to make them fire-proof, we need to breach in." Explained Lane, manically kicking at the door.
Unable to help due to the intense flames which swallowed the entire corridor, Adrien concentrated and freezing his body, released a blast of ice to cover the alley minimizing the flames until only hot steam remained, forming a thick white veil that swallowed the whole passage. Everyone felt relief when the flames were reduced to zero but their relief was low lived as fire was replaced by an annoying and unsettling thick vapor, making them visage only a white screen in front of them.
"What's with this fucking fog!? It's suffocating…I can't see shit! Well done, Adrien!" Henry angrily complained.
"Shut up, at least I did something." The frozen boy shouted back in frustration, hunching his gun closer to his body.
"Stop wasting time, I don't know how long I can keep it dark." Ruby quarreled keeping her distance from the group to cover more terrain.
With little to none visibility, the rest of the rebels could only be guided by the noise of the incessant beating their commander kept providing to the door between gasps.
"Is he dead?" someone asked but no one dared to respond.
The group stealthily strode towards their objective, until a bullet sound stabbed the dense cloud of steam followed by a shrill scream of pain. Henry was hit. His powers of intangibility did not help him when a bullet traveled through his stomach and took refuge in his intestines. The young mutant fell to the floor among desperate screams and howls of pain, writhing out of his control while clutching his hands over the open wound. Blood gushed out and mixed with the dirt under his palms.
"Henry, quiet! That was a test bullet-" Lane quickly briefed from top of the car, aiming for the boy to shush down so as not to give away the rest but the pain had blinded him and the distraught screams, promptly brought a more precise round of bullets which forced Lane to teleport away.
"Get Down! He is very much alive!"
The Mexican accent girl shouted and fear enveloped them when they heard the door opening with a forceful loud thud, producing a dry metallic sound as it fell against the ground.
"Retreat!-" Ruby shouted, fear sipping through her voice.
"No! Ruby, hold the darkness, ¡that's an order! we need to find him, we will not have another chance."
Lane's orders came from above the alley dragging everyone's eyes up but were unable to find him, thanks to the dense screen of white steam which refused to give in. The dark haired commander was eagerly looking from above, in a higher range of visibility, desperate to glimpse his target but deep inside knew that time was running low. The reinforcements were probably coming; these damned Reavers moved in flocks.
"He has the advantage, Lane. He's a trained mercenary...¡he's THE trained mercenary!" One of the newest members of the rebellion ranted, trying to convince him to flee. Fear disrupted his speech making his voice tremble, letting his grip tighten around his gun, as he added.
"He killed Zed, for the love of god! How do you kill a man that can turn into iron!?" he shakily pleaded.
"Easy mutie, you make him swallow a hand grenade and wait for the fireworks."
Pierce's voice made appearance right in the middle of the searching squad, rooting everyone in place before hysteria took over them. Like flu in December, fear spread like a virus infecting them till the point of panic.
Those who had assault powers used them mercilessly against what they thought was the loose mercenary –not minding who they hurt in their way– and, those who brought weapons began firing into the darkness. Yowls of pain erupted from one point to the other and Lane couldn't find the source, Piece was moving too fast and his methodic mind didn't supported in the light like them. He was a creature of the dark, no wonder why he could move so easily among the shadows.
Lane ordered to ceased fire but nobody was listening anymore. Fear had eaten them alive the moment they found out Pierce wasn't dead.
And, how could Lane blame them. The man was like the boogie man for his race. Even finding people to volunteer for the mission was difficult. Most of his squad was freedom fighters but even they had their limits and one of those limits had a very specific name –which actually was blasting them into oblivion right fucking there.
The situation had turned nasty in no time and Lane could only reproach himself for not listening to his instinct.
The only way out he could glimpse was to cancel the darkness which envelop them and collect as many as he could to teleport them out of there before losing his entire squadron. Among all the chaos, Lane could clearly hear Amelia's characteristic panting when she was involved in a hand-to-hand fight and knowing she didn't stand a chance. Took a bold decision.
The violet haired girl immediately dropped the cover of darkness, letting the bright light of the sun blind them momentarily.
"Regroup and use the portal out to-"
But Lane wasn't able to finish his order when recovering his sight saw the largest Reaver group he had ever seen blocking the only way out of the alley. Shit! Shit! Shit!, He cursed under his breath and making a swift scan found what was left of his squad cornered against an brick wall.
The inert bodies of his mutant allies were scattered in different parts of the alley, bloodied and dismembered, carving an image in his head which would never, ever, dissolve into the back of his mind. The few that remained were either wounded or too frightened to fight. Imposing mercenaries surrounded them, black lenses depriving their eyes of the sun's brilliance and macabre smiles adorning their wicked faces, telling Lane how close he was to losing his entire squadron, he had to think fast. The commander was just a 'happy trigger' merc away from utter defeat.
"You lose, Lane."
The raven haired commander heard from down below, Pierce's voice mockingly announce. Blood slid down his forehead and his disheveled blonde hair had a slight reddish tint embroidered, part of his clothes were burned letting his prosthetic metal limbs shine under the light but outside of that, he looked whole.
He held Amelia –the hot-blooded Latina who dared to have a hand-to-hand fight and utterly lose– in an iron hold against his chest, while pointing a gun to her head. Lane watched them from above the alley, displaying a stoic façade. Deep inside desperate searched for a way out.
His gaze moved from his troops to the alley feeling his jaw clenched at the morbid sight presented before him. There was no way out. He alone had managed to doom his entire squadron, anger fluttered inside his chest and his fists tighten at his side.
He could easily shake himself out of this mess by merely teleporting out, but it did not even pass through his mind abandon his people. A miracle, that's exactly what he begged for, if there's any God above who still cares for his race. Dart him with a miracle and will forever looked for a way to pay it back.
And, in the most unexpected of ways, someone answered his petition, when could clearly hear a low –almost imperceptible– groan coming out from the scorched car. The gears in his head began to race as a risky idea came to him, but out of options bet everything on it.
Vanishing from his previous spot on top of the alley at everyone's sight, murmurs erupted as some of the reavers teased the defeated mutants under their guns, reproaching them how their leader had abandoned them, until they heard weird noises coming from inside the scorched car.
Lane had teleported into the wreckage of the car looking for the girl who was traveling with Pierce. And, as he assumed found her still there. Hands tied to the safety belt, messy hair, clothes a little singed but the fire had not touched her skin or hurt her in any way. The girl was coming in and out of consciousness, trying to recover from whatever factor left her cold and seeing her as her only chance for a clean getaway, untied her hands and carried her in his arms –bridal style– to teleport them out.
Lane re-appeared on the top of the alley holding the petite brunette between his arms and actually, he did it just in time, for the scorched car was bursting with reavers in less than a minute, all ready to blast him.
Holding a comatose Molly, the dark-haired man with equally dark eyes stared back down into the blue eyed Reaver leader.
Pierce's face showed nothing, it was a flat almost indifferent facade, but obeying his intuition –as he should have done from the beginning– the mutant sensed that he was controlling his facial expressions.
"I propose an exchange."
Lane bellowed from on high, voice bouncing between the blackened walls of the brick alley, and patiently waited.
Dragging everyone's attention to him, a mute silence echoed. Not the birds chirped or a car passed by, nothing. It was as if the world itself had stopped to witness their quarrel. But Pierce's blank face was hard to read and when the Reaver leader shrugged his shoulders –uncared. Lane pursed his lips and his intuition informed him it was an act, but he needed to corroborate his theory before putting all the eggs in one basket.
Crossing glances with a furious Amelia –who mouthed him to escape. He slightly shook his head at her and dragged his gaze up, until it fixed in Pierce's stoic blue eyes. The standoff didn't last long, for Lane opened his arms out of the sudden, letting Molly's inert form rolled out of his hold in free fall.
Lane's gaze never faltered and was able to testify how Pierce's body unwittingly flinched, –although his gaze never wavered.
And, that small, highly unwitty flinch was his signal to break the fall and catch the petite girl in his arms before could reach the ground. A knowing smirk spread over his handsome face and his dark eyes gleamed with keenness at his discovery.
"Not so uncaring now, are we?"
Lane sharply spatted from his original spot, away from their reach. And, Donald deeply frowned before letting a cynic smile steal his lips.
"There's no way ya can get away with it, but I'm listening."
"Like I said…an exchange. My troops for your girl." The mutant smoothly bargained.
His troops were cornered by Donald's, most of them sporting serious wounds while others looked seriously scared. Donald seemed to be pondering and Lane felt that his only chance of success was slowly slipping through his fingers the more he let him think about it.
"This offer expires, Reaver. Take it or leave it." Lane pressed and being duly ignored, pretended to drop Molly again before adding.
"I'm not going to be able to catch her again, dude."
Witnessing him play with his unconscious precious Omega really put a sharp edge on his gaze. Had passed from dangerous to murderous in mere seconds, his sapphire orbs gleamed with controlled fury and Lane's hands began to sweat wondering if maybe he took it too far.
But needed to be bold while bargain with a monster. And, deep inside knew his body was reacting so visceral, not to the fear of him but of keeping his word. If Pierce killed even one of his people, he was going to be forced to let go of the girl. And, it weighted on him take that path. He hated to kill without need, but would certainly do it on wings of freedom.
"Let me put a bullet through his skull, boss."
A skinhead Reaver viciously hinted, as a red dot fixed on Lane's forehead. The sniper was firm in its goal, only needed a word from its boss and there would be no more Lane.
The dark haired mutant stood his ground without caring about the threat on his life and calmly, Pierce raised his hand for his subordinate to lower his weapon.
"How do you propose we do it?" The blond finally spoke.
The teleporter released a deep sigh he didn't know was holding and avidly suggested.
"Let my men go…" he motioned his head to where his troops where cornered and very gently shook Molly in his arms to then add."…the one you have under your gun, too." Donald pressed his gun harder against Amelia's skull, pulling a squeal out of her which made him smirk.
Lane let go of the ill act and forcibly continued with a clenched jaw. "And, I give you the girl."
"Sounds good, very good. But I have a question…do you think I was born yesterday?" The crude leader flouted. And, there was a unison laugh among his troops. "You are a filthy mutant; ¿who tells me that once you have your men you are goin' to follow through with yar word, I wonder?"
Even when he found himself at disadvantage still held the traits of a leader, and his word always was his fiercest card. His honor forced the dark haired man to solemnly reply.
"You have my word."
"Your word means shit to me, mutie." Pierce nastily informed after a couple of seconds and loosening his grip from Amelia's neck, cheekily retorted. "Put the girl on the ground as sign of good faith and then we can have business."
Lane had the advantage as long as he had the girl. There was a big probability, she was the only reason they were still breathing. It was clear as the sky was blue, Lane had assumed it from the easy head shot they had minutes ago, they could eliminated him with a shot and be done with it but the cold mercenary saw too much risk. Too many variables he could not control and that made him desist from the idea. And, was there when realized he held something precious between his arms.
"No can do, amigo."
Lane ended up saying. Pierce let out a curt nasty chuckle and his eyes squinted with ferocity.
"You being almost…extinct-" he signaled at the other mutants who were kneeling on the hard cement, guns ready to shoot against their heads.
"-Should not take such a great risk just to keep an upper hand, amigo."
Even when Lane knew him a skilled manipulator somehow his statement hit home. There was too much to lose to be playing at his level. The Reaver had the advantage from the beginning and he was barely betting for the crumbs on his table.
The dark stare Lane gave back did not reflect the turmoil inside of him and trying to get a better grip of what he should do, his gaze met Amelia's. The girl sent him an unrequested hard stare as if she was trying to tell him something. Her eyes motioned to Ruby who was knelt under a gun and Lane knew exactly what she meant. The dark haired man shook his head almost imperceptibly and Amelia lightly grin at him before closing her eyes and gather enough courage to set her plan in motion. She was never one to accept defeat.
"Wait, I have a better solution-" Pierce heard the girl in his hold speak and most of the presents fell curious for her next words. "How about you fuck yourself, Reaver-" The girl nastily grunted and the blond holding he squinted his eyes not believing her irreverent stance. Amelia used his brief instant of perplexity to shout.
Ruby instantly caught her drift and plunged them into darkness. Donald immediately ordered to shoot at ease and the gunshots rained over the mutants like snow in a storm. As he back away diving in between his troops to maintain his solid grip on the feisty girl. Interpreting the sounds around him –due to the darkness cloaked them to the point of pitch black– the Reaver leader ordered his troops to step away and dropped a grenade which kicked towards where he saw this ruby for the last time.
The flash grenade illuminated everything as if they were taking a picture, and the outbreak, stunned Ruby enough so that his troops could give some hits.
Luckily, Adrien created an ice shield around them for Lane to act quickly. The teleporter appeared in the middle of the group and mouthing a soundless 'Sorry' to Amelia, all those who were still alive laid their hands on him and vanished, leaving an empty gap between the ice barrier and the brick wall.
Donald carelessly threw Amelia to the ground to be held by his men. And, went behind the ice barrier to find…nothing. The bastard took Molly with him.
The furious blond glanced over his shoulder letting his blue orbs pierced the mutant kneeling on the ground and in a low ominous voice, promised.
"You are in for a real share of pain, mutie."