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Chapter 38, Part 1: New Home, New Threats
Storm
palladian23 wrote in superwebnovel
Author's Notes/Warnings: Part 1 - Gun violence, attempted assassination; Part 2 - Explicit sexual content

Hello, wonderful readers! Back with another chapter, and as you can see above, it's going to be a big one! I think I should take the opportunity to point out again that there will be sexual content, beginning in this chapter, so keep an eye on the warnings if you're not into that type of thing. I think you'll like the chapter as a whole, though! And I have to say, I'm kind of excited...this is the first time that one of my chapters was so long that I had to split it into two posts! :D

Also, I wanted to let everyone know that if you've been wanting a free copy of the e-book for Book 1 of this series, you're in luck! I've put it up for download to celebrate the impending publication of Book 2, which should be available at major e-book outlets (like Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, etc.) by December 15th (hopefully!). I'll give you an update when it's actually out, but if you'd like a copy of Book 1 to while your time away until then, go here.

Thanks, as always, to my editor-in-chief, gwoman for her excellent help in getting these new chapters ready for you all to read.


Back to Chapter 37

The object she saw looked small and round, spinning so quickly it appeared still. The perspective changed slightly, however, and she recognized it as a bullet. It had been moving through the sky, but now it dipped to viciously rip through the branches of a tree, scattering twigs and leaves in its wake. Sailing still lower, it creased the paint on the roof of one car before piercing the front and rear windshields of the car parked ahead. Picking up speed and defying the laws of physics, the bullet spun to the side, now traveling even faster past buildings and through knots of people on a sidewalk.

Finally, in the distance, she saw what must be the target, since the bullet headed straight for it. A head of short, dark red hair on a person dwarfed as they walked between two others. The scene changed in less than the blink of an eye as the bullet zeroed in on the person's head. The vision of hair, bone, grey matter, and flesh passed by so fast that she couldn't separate them as the bullet went through and then tumbled once, falling beside Lex's surprised face, complete with a perfect hole in the middle of her forehead.


Lex's gasp startled her as she sat upright in her bed. Her eyes and ears informed her of the quiet in the house, and a glance at the clock told her no one else in the house would have woken yet, not for hours. She sat for a moment, took a sip of water from the glass on her bedside table, and then headed for the adjoining bathroom as she realized that her galloping heart wouldn't allow her to get back to sleep right away.

The door hadn't been locked and no one answered to her quiet knock, so Lex quickly ducked into the bathroom and ran some cold water, splashing it over her face. After she'd dried off and looked back into the mirror for a moment, she jumped as she met eyes other than her own looking back at her. She'd automatically turned, but subsided back against the edge of the sink as she caught full sight of Riss leaning against the doorway leading into her room.

“You scared me,” Lex said with a sigh. “Did I wake you?”

Riss raised an eyebrow in response, while shaking her head. “No, I got home from work not too long ago. Apparently I'm not the only thing that scared you, though. Bad dream?”

Grimacing, Lex nodded and glanced at the floor.

“Is this the first time you've had this one?” Riss asked in a low tone.

Lex shook her head and quietly summarized the dream, then looked up at Riss. Her friend's expression looked grim. “Lex, the last time you had one of these kind of dreams and didn't tell anyone...well, you know what happened. Will you tell someone else today when you go to work? Maybe someone who could do something? Because it sounds pretty fucking serious to me.”

“Yeah, OK,” Lex said, knowing her voice sounded shaky. She looked back up at Riss, trying to gauge her friend's mood, and felt concerned since Riss never usually swore. Riss sighed and shook her head.

“I'm not mad, I'm just worried about you. Do you want to sit and talk for a while, or are you going back to sleep?”

Lex tried to smile in return. “Thanks, Riss, but I probably should try to get some more sleep since I've got to work in a few hours.”

“All right,” Riss replied, turning back towards her own room. “Don't forget, though.”

“I won't,” Lex promised.

Due to actually being able to fall asleep again and the normal excitement surrounding getting up and to work, however, Lex didn't even remember their conversation until much later in the day. She and Rolf had ended up on one of the upper floors checking on one of the breaker banks and replacing some faulty fuses. On days when no exercises had been scheduled and everyone was, in effect, on call, Lex had been informed that a chore list existed that those on duty would be expected to work on. A number of their teammates had opted to listen for calls, so she and Rolf had decided to complete some of the tasks on the list.

“I don't know,” Rolf said, trying to fit a new fuse in place and failing. “Maybe you should try it; you have smaller fingers.”

Lex moved in closer as she took the new fuse, standing right next to Rolf as she pressed the new piece in place and managed to get into position so that it snapped in. She smiled over at Rolf as she closed the breaker box back up. He smiled in return as he took her hand.

“Such lovely hands,” he said as he met her eyes. “Nothing like my big paws.”

“Hey,” she replied in a murmur, “I like your big paws.”

Her heart seemed to be fluttering, it beat so hard, and Lex wondered if she'd ever get used to the sensation of touching Rolf. She felt like an idiot, but in situations like these her heart would pound so intensely she couldn't hear much else and her breathing would pick up until it sounded like panting. Lex had just known Rolf would find her idiotic until the day she realized he seemed to be about as affected as she was. All of that was pushed to the back of her mind, though, the moment she could see him getting even closer, and Lex's eyes had barely closed as she felt Rolf's lips against hers.

She breathed in deeply through her nose, inhaling his wild, fresh scent as her lips moved against his and then opened slightly so that she could run her tongue against his. Rolf tasted even better than he smelled, in Lex's opinion—somehow sweet and savory all at the same time—and she could never get enough of it. Her lips parted some more as he brushed her top lip with his tongue, shivering at the gentle sensation and hungry for more, but they both gasped as they heard a voice in the hallway behind them.

“Hey, lovebirds.” Lex and Rolf both turned to see their teammate Tamara standing behind them. She had a characteristic hand in her hair to sweep it back from her face, and Lex could see the light glinting on the red highlights in Tamara's hair when she ducked her own head in embarrassment. Their teammate's golden-brown eyes had humor in them, however, and she inclined her head towards them, maybe to make the other two feel more comfortable since she stood about half a head taller than either Lex or Rolf. Lex could feel herself blushing but decided she didn't mind when she felt Rolf's hand still behind her, at the small of her back.

Tamara stood there grinning in a good-natured way. “The captain sent me around to look for you, Lex. He said he had something he wanted to talk to you about.”

“Did he say what he wanted?” Rolf asked, his brows furrowing.

Shrugging, Tamara replied, “Not really. It didn't sound like anything confidential, so I guess you can go too if you want to. If he has a problem with it, he can always throw you out of his office.”

“Thanks, Tamara,” Lex said, threading her fingers together with Rolf's so that their joined hands swung hidden between the two of them, and starting down the hallway. “I guess we'll head there now.”

The other woman sketched a wave over her shoulder as she continued down the hall in the opposite direction.

“What do you think he wants?” Lex asked Rolf during their walk down the three flights of stairs that would bring them to the ground floor and the team captain's office.

Rolf shrugged. “I'm not really sure,” he said, his voice puzzled. “I know the group of you already had your initial scary talk with him, so that can't be it. Other than that, he usually only calls people to his office if there's some sort of job for that person and not the whole team, or if they're in trouble.”

“Well, hopefully I didn't mess anything up,” Lex said, then bit her lip.

She frowned as she recalled the “scary talk.” Captain Shapiro had called Lex and all of her friends into his office to warn them against breaking the law and tell them that if they did, the whole rest of the team would be sent after them. In particular, he had seemed to have some problem with Riss, raising his voice as he spoke to her and making it clear that he would be watching her. When she'd asked Rolf about it later, he'd mentioned that their captain had abilities similar to Riss'.

Riss herself had laughed when Lex had passed that information to her. “Thanks for the heads up, but I think I know who the guy is online. I've just had to be more careful with what I do so that he can't track it. I think he knows that I keep outsmarting him, though, and that's why he's pissed.”

Shaking her head, Lex hoped that Riss had been careful as she peeked over at Rolf, smiling, before the two of them reached the captain's office. She'd lifted her hand to knock on the door when a voice from inside told her to come in. After exchanging a look with Rolf, Lex opened the door.

“Captain Shapiro?” Lex said, her voice questioning.

“Yes, come on in, Lex,” he said, looking up. Lex took him in a moment, the tall, lanky limbs, thinning hair, permanently sun-darkened skin, and the kind expression in his brown eyes as he looked at her, which seemed unusual for the man. It changed as he spotted, Rolf, however. “I didn't–”

He stopped as the small woman at his side began to speak, however. The woman looked straight at Lex as she talked, and Lex strained to understand what she said, until she realized the woman spoke in another language, probably Flemish. Lex looked expectantly at Captain Shapiro then, because although she'd heard that he'd moved to Israel for a number of years and spent several of them serving in the Israeli army, he spoke Flemish, having been born in Belgium.

“Mrs. Flavian here is an auxiliary member,” Captain Shapiro began once the older woman had finished speaking. When Lex only looked confused, he continued. “There are some people who are unable to serve full time in the special forces, or whose services we only need on a sporadic basis, so they have auxiliary membership. Mrs. Flavian's special talent is to see into the future.”

Lex met the woman's eyes at that point, feeling her stomach sink. Mrs. Flavian appeared to be around 70, but she had a sharp look in her blue eyes, and when Lex's eyes met hers, she lifted her eyebrows and nodded as if a thought had been confirmed. Wordlessly looking back over at Captain Shapiro, Lex waited for him to continue.

“Rolf,” he said once he started speaking again, “this information is really only for Lex–”

“It's all right if he stays,” Lex interrupted, her eyes moving between the two men. “I have a feeling he'll probably need to know all of this, anyway.”

The captain raised an eyebrow a fraction, then shrugged and continued speaking. “All right. Well, Mrs. Flavian said that she had a dream. She said that in it, she saw you get shot, Lex.”

Lex put a hand to her stomach as she felt it turn over and she suddenly, vividly recalled her dream early that morning. “Did she see a bullet in it, doing crazy things?” Lex asked hoarsely, her hand gesturing, showing some of the impossible path that the bullet had taken.

Captain Shapiro gave her a surprised look but translated her question to Mrs. Flavian. The elderly woman nodded, then looked straight at Lex, almost as if she could see right through into Lex's thoughts. When the woman said something a moment later, Lex nearly jumped.

“She asked if you saw it, too,” the captain said, now looking between the two of them.

“Yes,” Lex replied in a tight voice, “I had a dream last night like that. Please ask her if she saw where the bullet came from.”

Mrs. Flavian listened to the captain's recounting of Lex's question and nodded. She pulled a blank sheet of paper towards her on the desk and began making a rough sketch. Once she had finished and pushed it back so that the other three could see the picture, Lex took a breath in surprise. She'd drawn a building, one a dozen or so stories tall that stood a few blocks away from the route that all of them usually took from the house to the special forces building for work. After recovering from her surprise a moment later, however, Lex heard Mrs. Flavian speaking again and listened, unable to understand but hanging on every word the woman said nonetheless, hoping she'd say something that might help.

Captain Shapiro appeared confused as he began speaking again. “She went on to say that she consulted the cards afterwards.”

“What cards?” Lex asked.

“Maybe tarot cards,” Rolf supplied, and Lex let out a breath she hadn't been aware she'd been holding as she realized that his hand had slipped to the small of her back again. She smiled at him as the captain continued speaking.

“Probably, because she said that the cards told her that someone could interfere with what she'd seen in her dream,” Captain Shapiro continued, and then the three of them watched Mrs. Flavian as she sketched a face.

When the elderly woman had finished the sketch, Lex studied it, thinking the man looking familiar, but unable to place him. The captain immediately begin typing on his computer after catching sight of the sketch, however, and finally turned his monitor around for all of them to see. He'd brought up a picture of Victor, and Lex's jaw dropped open as it finally clicked that the woman had drawn him. Mrs. Flavian beamed, pointing at the monitor and nodding.

“How come you recognized it and I didn't?” Lex said, her brow furrowing as she looked back at the sketch and wondered how she couldn't have seen Victor in it.

Captain Shapiro smiled but shrugged before he answered. “Probably because I've had a lot more experience with police sketches than you have. They never look exactly like the person, but if you can get a sense of what they're trying to represent, you can use them to help you identify someone.”

Rolf and Lex exchanged concerned glances as Mrs. Flavian and Captain Shapiro finished speaking, and then the old woman put a hand on Lex's arm before she left the room, saying a final couple of sentences. Lex watched her go, then turned to the captain for a translation.

“She said that she knew you'd be safe since Victor was someone on this team, and wished you good luck,” Captain Shapiro said. He paused for a moment after that, then sighed and continued. “All right, Lex, please don't leave the facilities for lunch or at all for the next couple of hours. I'm going to be calling everyone in so that we can discuss this and figure out what to do.”

Lex looked stunned. “Why are you bringing the whole team in? Surely we can do what we need to with everyone that's here now.”

The captain shook his head. “Lex, do you remember when you joined this team and I warned all of you that if you committed a crime, the rest of the team members would come after you?” He watched as she nodded, then continued speaking. “Good. Well, the reverse is true, as well. We're a team; if one of us is targeted, all of us will deal with it. Plus, who's to say that you're the only one that's being targeted here? The two of you may have just picked up on part of the plan against us, so everyone needs to be warned as soon as possible.”

Lex nodded in response. “That's a good point; I didn't think about that.”

Now that she had, she began to worry about the rest of her teammates. She looked over at Rolf with a frown and her eyebrows drawn together, to which he responded by bringing the hand at the small of her back in tighter, as if to remind her of his presence.

“All right, you two, keep busy until everyone else gets here. It's about 11 a.m. now,” the captain said, looking at his watch, “so I'm going to try to schedule the briefing for 1:30. Make sure to be in the situation room by then.”

He looked at the both of them in turn, then nodded. “We'll think of a plan of action, and we'll take care of whoever it is that's behind this. Lex,” he said, turning in her direction again, “you may want to take some of this time to think about where this attack might be coming from. This job sounds professionally planned, and pretty unusual from the way you and Mrs. Flavian have described it.”

She nodded out of habit and somehow followed Rolf out of the office. They'd only gotten a few feet down the hall when Rolf turned back to look Lex in the eye.

“Don't worry,” he said with an intensity that brought Lex out of it for a moment. She shook her head in response.

“I just can't believe I didn't pick up on that dream right away! I don't think much of bad dreams the first time they happen, but then today–”

“Lex,” Rolf said as he took her hands, his tone firm and deep, “we're both here right now, and we're both safe. That's all that matters. If you think you should have done something differently, take that as a lesson and do it next time. As for right now, we will find out what's going on and we will keep everyone safe, all right?”

The seriousness in his tone made Lex feel solemn as well, and she thought for a moment that whoever had planned the killing might be in some real trouble. “All right. I just...feel kind of bad for putting everyone out.”

Rolf shook his head. “Lex, every one of us has been in trouble before. That's why we have a team: so we can look out for each other. What if someone else on the team was in trouble; would you hesitate to help them?”

“Of course not! I'd do whatever I could,” Lex replied.

“As it should be. And that's how it is with everyone on this team; we all look out for each other,” he concluded.

They continued down the hall and Lex sighed as she caught sight of a calendar on the wall. “We were supposed to go out to lunch today,” she said to Rolf with a sigh.

He fixed her with a grin as he walked at her side. “We'll go out to celebrate once we've caught whoever's behind this,” he said, his voice calm and reassuring. “In the meantime, let's go by the kitchen. I bet Casey is making something she wouldn't mind sharing.”

Lex smiled in response and slid her hand back into his as they walked the rest of the way to the kitchen. After bringing Casey up to speed, they accepted an invitation from her for a lunch of lentil stew and bread from the bakery down the street. She smiled as she watched Casey dishing up food for everyone, happy that the woman had let the dark color wash out of her hair, starting the minute they’d gotten to Europe.

Lex felt comforted as she ate Casey's delicious cooking, and somehow when Lou and Mr. Chen joined them, she felt safe, even after summarizing the afternoon's plans for them. As she walked to the meeting room with Casey and Lou moving ahead and Rolf following just behind, however, Lex remembered a flash of her dream, showing two people walking alongside her, and knew without a doubt who they'd been.

Although she'd been feeling nervous as she walked into the room, by the time everyone had assembled, Lex felt a lot more comfortable. Rolf sat right beside her while Lou and Casey took chairs behind her. Riss and Victor, looking tired, took some seats just in front of her. Kate sat on the other side of the aisle along with Lily. Captain Shapiro stood at the front of the room with his laptop, setting it up so that he could project to the group, and Tamara had already taken the other side of the aisle from Victor. Miranda and Jan had showed up several minutes prior. Miranda, looking drawn and pale, had taken a seat on Rolf's other side. Jan, with his head drooping, had sat one chair away from Tamara. Meg, who'd been out to lunch with Tamara earlier, had taken a seat in the row behind her friend.

Lex watched as all of them focused on the captain as he went through the information they had in a brief presentation. He projected the drawing of the building that Mrs. Flavian had made, asked Lex to recount the dream she'd had, and finally explained what Mrs. Flavian had said about Victor's role. As the captain talked, Victor turned his head to look at Lex in surprise. She shrugged her shoulders in return, shaking her head.

“Now,” Captain Shapiro concluded, “that's all the information we have at present. For those of you who haven't been here for this type of emergency before, let me tell you that none of the information that Mrs. Flavian has ever given to us has turned out to be groundless. Plus, since Lex's dream corroborates what our psychic said, I think real danger exists here.

“For any of you who feel inclined to simply brush this to the side,” the captain continued, glancing over at Jan shaking his head, “let me point out that because we've gotten this intelligence doesn't mean that no one else here is being targeted.”

At this point, the captain stopped speaking to slowly look around the room, meeting each eye briefly. “Any of you could be targeted right now, even though we only picked up on Lex. So everyone please be watchful, because the life you save might be your own. Now, to discuss plans.”

He paused, then looked at Tamara and continued. “Tamara, since you already have some contacts with the local police, please try to find out from them where in the building that Mrs. Flavian drew could a sniper shoot at someone who'd be traveling two blocks away. From the way that Lex described the bullet's travel, I am confident that whoever is shooting needs to see it in order to control it. So, the person would need a clear line of sight down the street Lex usually walks in here on.”

Tamara nodded. “I'll get to it just as soon as this meeting's over,” she replied, shooting Lex a quick glance.

Lex ducked her head, but continued to listen as Captain Shapiro continued. “Next, let's talk about our defensive team. Since we don't want to make any changes that might scare our attackers away before we can get them, Lex, please tell me who you usually walk to work with.”

“Casey and Lou,” she replied, then, after pausing for a moment, “and sometimes Kate. She usually likes to get in here a bit earlier than we do, though, so not every day.”

He nodded in response, then continued speaking. “All right. Lou, Casey, would you please act as Lex's protection as you walk back and forth to work? Please keep in mind that although I know the both of you are bulletproof to some extent, the projectiles that Lex and Mrs. Flavian saw will be different than what you're used to. Due to the fact that they're being controlled, they may be effective to some degree against you. Can you still work with that?”

Casey and Lou looked at each other for a few seconds, then both nodded. “Yes. No problem,” Casey replied, her tone serious.

“Good. Kate, please continue to accompany the group as much as would be usual for you, and you can act as the ears for the group. If you could switch to a form with excellent hearing, you may be able to hear the bullet's approach and attempt to push Lex out of the way.”

“I will,” Kate answered, looking grim and determined as she shot Lex a glance.

Lex tried to smile in return but knew it must not look convincing. She let her attention be drawn away as the captain started speaking again.

“All right, that's settled. Now let's talk about the first offensive group—the group on site. Victor, I'd like you to be part of that group.”

“Certainly,” Victor replied, his tone grave.

“Also,” the captain continued, “since it sounds like our opponents might end up being someplace high up, I’d like to count on your support, Meg, and yours, Miranda. I know you've been wanting to try the equipment that Victor made for you.”

He looked at Miranda as he said that. She nodded once, sharply, in return. Meg looked at Miranda, then at Lex, shrinking in her chair under all the scrutiny, before she replied. “Yes. I am glad to help.”

“Excellent. We can discuss strategy specifics later, and if you have anything you'd like to add then, Lex, since you're our battle captain, that would be great,” Captain Shapiro said, looking over at Lex at that point. She nodded in reply and he continued. “In general, I thought Meg could keep watch overhead, trying to get good vantage points on anyone who might be on the roofs without letting them see her. Victor and Miranda, the two of you could check out some of the lower spots the police identify as possible points for the attacker to be at, but be ready to move at a moment's notice if you hear from Meg. My gut feeling is that our opponent is going to be on a roof.”

Lex watched as he looked at the three team members in turn, then nodded to himself and spoke again. “All right. Now for our second offensive team. Riss, I'd like you to assist me with that.”

Riss' head came up; she'd been looking down at something on her smartphone, but his words had focused her attention back on him. “All right,” she said drawing the words out, as if trying to figure out the idea behind the request.

“Don't look so surprised,” he said, the hint of a smile on his face. “What I'd like for the two of us to do is to find out who's attacking the team so that we can distribute the information to everyone so we know what we're up against. We're flying really blind now, unless any of you have some idea why someone might be trying to kill Lex.”

At that comment, all six of the newest team members began shooting glances at one another or giving each other questioning or calculating looks. After a while, Casey nodded once, followed by Kate, Victor, Lou, and, after some hesitation, Lily. Riss and Lex looked at one another for a moment before Riss began to speak.

“Yes, we do have an idea,” Riss said, opening one of her laptops. She powered it on and let it sit in her lap, then looked over at Lex. Lex sighed and then began speaking.

“When we lived in America, we worked for an organization run by a large corporation that specialized in gene therapy. We didn't know that when we started working for the company; we thought we had been hired to, well, work on teams together and help people out. Due to laws that, likely, their lobbyists helped to pass, they had made it so that anyone with skills or abilities beyond that of an average person was essentially no longer defined as human. Which, of course, would render a chess master or an Olympic medalist non-human, but it seems the corporation only targeted people like all of us in this room. The corporation seemed to take it one step further, assuming that anyone who signed a contract with them to be in their teams became their property.”

Lex stopped speaking for a moment to look around the room at her teammates. She could feel Rolf's hand on the hand she had in her lap, hidden by the conference table, and noted that Miranda looked even paler than she had a moment before. Captain Shapiro had a fierce expression on his face, Tamara and Jan looked incredulous, and Meg sported an angry frown. Lex shrugged before continuing.

“That's why we passed along the warning against people like us traveling to America. At any rate, my guess would be that the company has finally figured out who and where we are. Since they've sent some sort of sniper, I would additionally guess that they feel like they can't retrieve us, so they're trying to silence us.”

“Do you have proof of any of these things?” Captain Shapiro asked in an intense voice.

Lex nodded while Riss answered. “Yes, several types. Please note the electronic evidence we have wasn't obtained legally. However, they forced one of us to work in their labs to keep her family safe, and they gave the majority of us experimental drugs for some time, without our consent. They affected Lex the most; studies could be done that might show what happened.”

The captain looked lost in thought for a minute or so and then shook his head. “Riss, I'd like you to share that data with me.”

She looked at him narrowly. “I don't mind sharing if I know you won't do anything to it,” she said warily.

Captain Shapiro shot her a thunderous glance, but Riss stared squarely back at him. Finally, he sighed. “I'm not planning to do anything to it; I just want to know what's in there.”

After looking around at the rest of the group momentarily, the captain continued. “All right, we'll discuss that topic later. At any rate, everyone has their assignments. Anyone not specifically assigned to one of the defensive or offensive teams, please keep your normal schedule but remember that everyone is potentially on call until we catch our attackers. We may all be needed at a moment's notice if something happens, so please be aware and keep in contact. Any further questions?”

When the room remained silent, he nodded at everyone and thanked them. The group began to break up into smaller knots of people then and Lex could see Miranda, Victor, and Meg drawing off to one side to speak together. As she and Rolf moved out of their seats to leave the room, Lex felt Casey's hand on her shoulder.

“Don't worry, Lex,” she said, smiling confidently. “We've got you covered.”

Lou nodded as well and Lex found she couldn't help but smile in return. “Thanks, guys, I know you do.”

Forward to Chapter 38, Part 2
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Go read Part 2 now! :D



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