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Even with his eyes shut tight and hands over his ears, Anthony knew exactly what was going on around him. It wasn’t quick and he could feel the terror and pain coursing through all the bad people around them as well as the anger and worry from their mother. Something splattered against his back and he tried not to think about it. However, it did have him cracking his eye open to make sure that his shirt was still tied securely around his sister’s ears and eyes.

Claire still had her hands clamped tightly over her ears but he’d tied the cloth to make sure she didn’t slip. The third layer was his body blocking her from view. She was scared, he could feel it, but she also trusted him and their mother. Claire didn’t even have any special powers to make her a target. She had just been with him when he was grabbed.

That had been the real surprise of this whole day. He had expected a rescue mission. His and Claire’s adoptive parents were powerful, but all their aunts and uncles were just as powerful. They’d told him the dangers in the world, about Avia and the rebellion. All of the kids knew about it, with the exception of Claire since she was still too young to understand.

He’d expected Uncle Ryker and maybe their father. He never expected anyone would have allowed Winny near this at all. Especially when the head scientist of the facility seemed to be obsessed with her and her power; his empathy had picked up all sorts of emotions from the sick man when she was dropped in the middle of the room. Their mother was terrified of the man but she was more worried and angry than scared.

Anthony had known his mother’s powers though, had heard the stories and knew that she had to use it in order for them all to escape. She was the one they really wanted, they’d said as much, and she was using their knowledge of her as a teenager to handle her now. She played the scared victim well enough but he felt her rage and had seen it in her eyes when her head was yanked back so they could confirm it was, in fact, Avia’s Hawk.

So he’d done the only thing he could think of when all eyes were on her. He’d slipped out of his outer shirt and quietly told Claire what to do before covering his ears himself. They had only been the bait so no one was really paying any attention to the two kids in the corner of the room. They were only making things worse as they threatened him and his sister, their mother’s rage only grew and he could imagine the look on her face.

Once he stepped to block Claire from the rest of the room, all hell broke loose. Even with the majority of sound blocked, he couldn’t really prepare for the scream that ripped through the building. He’d known his mother to use her voice to mimic birds, to make the most realistic voices when she told stories, and to sing while she cleaned. This was the part of her power that she’d always hated, the part that had been coveted by scientists and could be just as deadly as a gun when she reached the right pitch.

The sonic scream no one expected her to use with the pair of them in the room. That was what their lack of attention had cost them.

All at once the ringing in his ears stopped, leaving behind a small headache. He didn’t dare lift his hands until he felt soft ones on his shoulders to turn him around. Opening his eyes, he met the watery brown of his mother.

“Are you alright?” She fretted over him, using her sleeve to wipe away the blood on his shoulder. He was sure that there was more on his back but she was quick to wipe all that away as well. In return, Anthony reached up and wiped away the drops on her cheeks before her tears could make it run.

“I have a little headache but we’re fine,” he pat her shoulders, trying to keep her from crying more. His empathy was working overtime to keep Claire calm and to deal with all that happened. He could tell that most the scientists were still alive but the ones that had been closest to her weren’t so lucky.

Despite the warning not to, he glanced quietly around the room while she focused on Claire. All the scientists and guards were on the floor. The bloodiest part of the room was near the center while the men and women around the edge just seemed to be out cold, though there was still blood trickling from everyone’s ears.

“Where’s daddy?” Claire’s tiny voice brought him back to them and Anthony was able to witness the way their mother flinched.

“He’s on his way, sweetheart, him and Uncle Ryker,” Winny wrapped her arms around Claire and drew her close. It wasn’t long until she reached out to draw him into the hug as well. Normally, he didn’t enjoy being smothered in all that attention but her trembling told him that she needed it as much as he did that moment.

The stories had not prepared him for the reality of it all. He’d thought Avia was a distant threat, that they’d never really have to deal with what their parents did. This had only proven him wrong and he was suddenly thankful for the protection the family provided. If it happened once though, he wondered if it would happen again.

With that thought in mind, he clung to his mother and thanked all the gods he never believed in that she’d come. Oh, their father was going to be livid she came along and he suspected that Mason was already in trouble for telling her where to go without any backup.

“What about the rest of them?” He finally mustered up the courage to ask after pulling away. He stuck close and winced at the lingering anger that welled up in his mother as she looked around. The glare was back on her face as she looked down at the pair that had claimed to be behind grabbing him and his sister.

“Your father and Uncle will deal with them.”

From the ice in her eyes, he had a feeling that it might actually be a mercy to let someone else deal with the rest. Though he and Claire were only hers by adoption, she was still as protective as if they were her blood. He just wondered how much trouble she would be in for acting on those motherly instincts of hers.