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Ryker wiped away the sweat from his brow as he herded another batch of survivors towards the boats. The Avia Rebellion, as some of the others were already calling it, was in full swing. Once the collars had been deactivated and the security systems shut down, courtesy of Adaline, all hell broke loose.

His role had evolved from instigator to leader. It was weird for him but he didn’t have the time to stop and contemplate it all. While the vengeful kept the scientists and guards at bay, he rounded up all of the others. The youngest were already safely on the boats and now his attention was on getting the next group on.

They were rightly terrified but it was like herding cats at some points.

The work was exhausting; his telepathic powers spread almost too thin trying to make sure they had found everyone. Those in isolation had been freed remotely, the doors sprung when the back-up generators were drained of their energy. Whatever Adaline was doing with all that electricity at her disposal, he was positive that he didn’t want to know.

“Are all they all comfortable?” He leaned heavily against the railing that led up to the boats and smiled weakly at the woman who had become his partner in crime. Ani helped construct this master plan and as smoothly as it was going, he’d prefer if they had just sunk the damn island already.

“As comfortable as to be expected,” He answered, glancing up the boarding plank and shook his head. Two boats; it was all they had to get all of the innocent people off. Thankfully, what ‘birds’ that could manipulate water had decided to forgo the boats altogether; it was going to be crowded as it was.

“Ry…” Ani’s hushed tone made him come to attention. His head snapped up so fast he could feel the sharp beginnings of whiplash as he looked around for what brought on what he thought was fear. Turns out, it was just surprise.

Down the docks came the infamous Magpie. Not many had personally met the guy but everyone knew about him. Ryker knew more than most.

Tucker Hayes; codename Magpie, power was genetic manipulation, had an explosive temper and an inclination towards massacre. He also had a habit of shifting between a form of a child and that of a teenager. Currently it seemed he favored his older form and it was no surprise considering he carried what was probably his only friend.

Stepping forward, Ryker caught himself before he held out his hand to shake. No way in hell was Tucker going to drop Winny for something as simple as a handshake. He might not have been formally introduced but he’d been pulled into both of their minds enough to know who they were.

“Tucker,” He greeted, looking over the girl in the boys’ arms for any injuries. It was rare that Winny was without them but she seemed fine other than being knocked out. “I’m Ryker. We’re glad you made it an—“

It became hard to speak when Ryker’s attempts at friendliness were shut down by a gaze that was as hard as ice. Tucker seemed to struggle with decision for a moment and Ryker allowed him the privacy of his thoughts for a few more seconds before focusing on the other guy’s mind.

“She isn’t to be troubled or involved in this.” Tucker’s voice was deeper than he thought and yet completely void of the threats he thought he’d be getting. Then again, threat was all in his gaze and in his thoughts as Winny was gently transferred from his to Ryker’s arms.

Ryker adjusted himself as best he could, careful not to jostle Winny or even look like he was about to drop her. Right now, that would be tantamount to a death penalty. Before he could say anything in response to Tucker’s directions, the guy was already walking away.

“Don’t wait for me.”

Standing in complete shock, he almost missed when Ani came up to brush Winny’s hair from her face. After everything he’d witnessed telepathically between the two, he never thought that Tucker would leave this girl’s side and especially not during the breakout of all things.

“Is she alright?” Ani asked, helping steady him as he made his way up the boat. There wasn’t much either one of them could do if something was seriously wrong but Ryker knew it wasn’t serious. He had snooped through Tucker’s thoughts for the answer before he disappeared.

“Yea,” he answered as he laid her out on one of the lounge chairs on the deck of the boat. The next on his agenda was to procure a blanket to cover her with. Even if they were all on the same side, he couldn’t be sure what Tucker would do if Winny had been mistreated in any way. “He knocked her out so she wouldn’t have to see all the death.”

“That was…sweet.” Ani said the word as it were a foreign concept. Neither one of them had really thought to use the word sweet to describe Tucker. Even Ryker who thought the guy was just misunderstood for the most part wouldn’t exactly use that word in his description.

“Yea, it’ll be sweet until she wakes up.” Ryker sighed, throwing a blanket around the sleeping girl. With this new charge, he wouldn’t be leaving the docks. He’d have to rely on Adaline and maybe connect with Benjamin to get the rest of the birds off of the island in time.

“What do you think will happen then?”

“She’ll try to go after him.” After everything the pair had done for each other already, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind that he would have to physically restrain Winny to keep her from leaving the boat. Ani’s smile was sympathetic as she patted his shoulder before going to collect more terrified kids from their cells.

That was the good that was coming of this death and destruction; all of the kids who had been subject to torture as test subjects for years would get to lead real lives. Ryker hoped they were all ready for the challenge and as he tucked the blanket in around Winny, he hoped that Tucker would come back soon.

He didn’t want to be the one that had to step between the two, even if it was Tuck’s request.

___________

As per Maura’s request, I have started a ‘first impressions’ of Ryker and all his friends (other birds previously mentioned and/or written about). This one is Tucker before the events in Winning Justice by a Tuckered Hand. Like…right before. The last one I did was Friend’s in Low Places with Adaline. Next up: Winona!

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