Allison looked down at the first floor. It was an ungodly mess, likely the result of Gregory's actions, if their encounter with him was anything to go by. The floor seemed to be flooding with water, just as the bathroom from the floor Allison was currently on. Other than the water, the room was in general disarray, meaning that fighting would be difficult if it ever came to it, but movement would only be slightly more inconvenient. The main issue for the girl was that she was heading towards the wreckage of part of a building, glass and rubble guaranteed to be everywhere, and she didn't have shoes, thanks to Hazel's power.
After only a few moments of staring, Allison heard the sound of a heavy impact, and the familiar beep and zap of the cuff taking out someone who used lethal force. The girl's head snapped around immediately, to find the crumpled forms of Hazel and Brent lying on the ground. From what Allison could discern, Brent had slammed some part of a machete into the back of Hazel's head, though luckily there seemed to be no wound, so he hadn't outright killed the girl.
Allison rushed over to the two forms, though there was little she could do. She did, though, eye Brent's equipment, and specifically, his shoes. He was unconscious, and his feet didn't seem to be that much bigger than Allison's, so of course she took some liking to the idea of taking the boy's shoes. Though, it did seem like a pretty awful thing to do, just taking someone's shoes whilst they lay unconscious.
After a moment of debating with herself, Allison reached at the Brent's shoes, and pulled them off of his feet. "Sorry, Brent."
She said softly as she tied the shoes on. It was odd, wearing someone else's shoes, it felt wrong and awkward, especially to some part of her deep in the back of her head. The shoes seemed to be only slightly too large for Allison, and were comfortable enough that she didn't completely regret the decision.
After the shoes, Allison looked around at the rest of the boy's gear, tempted by the machete, and even Brent's gun, but ultimately decided to leave those where they lay. Allison had little use for them. Instead, she ripped off each of her opponent's flags, turning to Lawrence as she did so."We'll need to carry Greg down by ourselves. They're probably still by the bathroom."
Allison's words were quick and dull.
Lawrence, for his part, was kneeling next to her, checking Hazel's pulse on the ground. He had no doubt that Brent and Zoe were fine after their shocks- USARILN East had a lot of practice making sure their methods weren't lethal. Overall, this clusterfuck of a team game had gone south incredibly quickly. Had the staff scheduled it too soon after their first combat mission? Whether by stress or misfortune, this was quickly turning into a bad idea.
Still, unless Brent's blow was fatal, Hazel would probably wake up in a few minutes. It wasn't the first person Lawrence had seen knocked out- and thankfully it looked like for the moment she wasn't going to join the list of people he'd seen killed as well. As far as Allison looting the other team while he did this- he didn't really have an opinion. In fact, he took a minute to strip the boy of his pants- the only real piece of clothing worth taking- while Allison spoke to him.
Finally, he grabbed the boy's weapons that his teammate had neglected before answering her:
"If she's not dying, Hazel should be with us again in a few minutes. If she is dying, they'll probably stop the game in order to treat her. We have an injured healer, one we don't know the location of, and as far as we know we're outnumbered three-to-two right now. If we go down there and get jumped we're going to have our hands tied by carrying that dead weight on top of being outnumbered.
Finally, moving to check on Gregory, he added:
"We should defend here, guard the healer we already have, and buy time for Hazel to come to. Do you think your power can destroy Emma's things when she comes at us with them?
Allison said, halfheartedly. "And if Hazel doesn't wake up in time?"
"Then she doesn't wake up.
He said simply, before looking at Brent's gun and shrugging.
"Look, if I could use lethal force- not that I want to- there's plenty of options for wiping out the other team with just you and me. We have to look at this realistically though- we have you and me. That's it. If we lose this game- missions get bungled. Right now our mission is bungled, and the priority is salvaging as much as we can.
With an added sigh he ran a hand through his hair and continued:
"The main lesson here is teamwork. If we were in the field right now we have no idea if our healer is still alive, but we do know Hazel is. Our focus at this point should be staying alive, and keeping her alive- while guarding the objective we managed to capture. If we can't apply this game to a real world mission then... there's no goddamn point to it.
Allison got up from her place next to Lawrence and the unconscious pair, and moved closer to the edge of the floor. She stood idly, watching for any signs of the other team.
Hoping his message had gotten through to the girl Lawrence made his way over to their overly violent captive, pants in hand. At least this way if he did
manage to wake up and try to fight back again like an idiot later on in the match he'd be robbed of both his legs and
arms. ”...ou there?”What?
A short investigation revealed something him and Allison had missed a minute ago- Brent's phone- shoved into the pocket of his pants. Shoved into the pocket of his pants and broadcasting the other team's chatter. With the first bit of good fortune since this match started- Lawrence set it next to the body of their captured healer. Then, making sure to broadcast as little noise as possible to the other team- began preparing to tie up their prisoner.
Listening all the while.
Ernie's foot shot out and dislodged the last piece of wood needed to create a small entrance. Far too long. With people like Team 3 on the loose above them, he couldn't afford to lose his shit like that again. He needed efficiency. With exhausted breaths, Ernie pulled himself through and crab-walked his way under the table."Stay close,"
he instructed Savannah quietly, "If we get split up now, we're screwed."
His boots tread carefully across the half-flooded floor. Thank god he got his footwear back. Going shoeless through a battlefield was bad enough but doing it through all this
would have short-circuited him. The floor itself looked like it'd be bitch to search. Already, it seemed like a mini-maze. Ernie didn't like the number of corners he would have to turn. Too many potential traps lying in wait. He tugged the table to the side to clear their possible exit route, but also to make the most of their current resources."Sav,"
he pointed to the small room that was closest to the way they entered, "Could you check that for me? And maybe the kitchen too."
While the girl searched, Ernie hacked at the table's legs. If Team 3 wasn't pulling their punches, then his own team needed everything they could get. It only took one or two chops for the legs to detach, much faster than the door. One for Savannah, one for him, and one for Emma. Brent already had his own weapon. Plus, there wasn't really a way for Ernie to hand it to the Arbiter teammate. The table rested on its side now."Thwacking stick. For you."
When the girl emerged from her initial search, she was greeted with a makeshift wooden weapon about two feet long. Ernie decided to give her the second one too. He wanted his hands to be as free as possible. "That one's for Emma, when we find her."
Savannah crawled into the house with more ease than Ernie had, due to her stature. The house was wrecked. Who had done this? One of the healers? She hadn't recalled Team 3 having gone to the first floor, so it must have been them. If she had to take a guess, it would have been Gregory. From what she recalled when they had met, Sophia was not the type of person to go around wrecking rooms. Or, at least, that's the impression Savannah had gotten from her. Sophia hadn't talked much.
Savannah mock-saluted at Ernie when he gave her the instructions. She ran off into the smaller room, checking it pretty thoroughly. Just like the other rooms, it was wrecked, but no one was there. She checked the kitchen as well, but that yielded no results. She came back to the hallway, and was about to say that she found nothing when Ernie gave her a stick.You were actually serious about that?
" she asked. "I didn't find anything.
""We need to be prepared,"
was the only explanation he gave. He gestured silently to indicate that they were going to make their way through the house, "Did you check the fridge and cupboards too?"
"I don't think she could hide in there.
" Savannah replied. Ernie merely nodded in return. They could always check on the way back.
Emma was finally ready to move. ”Okay, you can put me down now.”
She said, glancing down at the Tulpa below her.
Unfortunately, Love took her order rather literally.
Instead of gently floating down she was dropped suddenly. She hit the ground hard, wind knocked out of her. ”Shit. So much for my sweet landing.”
she groaned to herself. She got up, dusting herself off. She reached for her phone, thoughts on what Brent had said. Find Sophia, get her out. Seemed sensible, but first she was concerned with regrouping with Sav and Ernie. They wouldn’t fare well if they were caught without her. She went for her phone, ”Hey, Sav, you there?”
she said. She hoped that the small girl was able to get down safely.
She wasn’t as concerned for Ernie’s safety.
"Yeah, I'm here. Did you end up falling off the roof too?
" Savannah said lowly into the phone."Uhhhh, yeah... you alright?"
Emma whispered back. Savannah was whispering, so it only felt appropriate to do the same. "And what about Ernie?"
she added as an afterthought.
"I'm fine, just got a few nicks and scrapes from the glass. Ernie took the brunt of the fall, but he's fine.
"Ernie took the brunt of the fall? Sweet
. She commented to herself. "Alright, roger that. We should probably regroup so we can make a run for the healers. Where are you guys?"
"Ground floor. We're looking for Sophia. Near the back door.
Emma nodded to herself, "On my way, than."
She responded, heading towards the building.
While Savannah was updating Emma, Ernie searched the floor. The area after the kitchen consisted of two wide rooms, nothing there that could hide a small girl besides a few stray chairs. He noted the destroyed stairs that would have prevented them from reaching the top floor had they taken a more conventional route. The bedroom was the only remaining place on the ground floor that was a possible hiding place. The closet yielded no results. Same for the adjacent bathroom. Then Ernie peeked under the bed to find Sophia's wide eyes staring back at him."There you are!"
he whispered in relief, "We need to get you outta here."
He turned to Sav with an excited smile."Tell Emma we found her!"
Savannah obeyed Ernie's instructions, whispering into the phone, "Hey, Emma! We found her."
Emma was coming through the back door by the time Sav updated her. "Sweet, I'm right-"
She peeked out of the kitchen towards the bedroom, "Here!"
she gently called, giving a small wave as she saw the small group. She began adding up the points in her head... with no word from Brent she assumed that he had been snagged, and that would mean Team 4 was still in the lead, even with Sophia. So, to win they'd have to duke it out more? Not something she was exactly looking forward to, but there wasn't a whole lot of choice.
Ernie offered his hands to the quiet girl and pulled her out from beneath the bed. Sophia's front was completely soaked but at least she wasn't bitching dangerously loudly about her situation. Unlike another tiny girl he could mention. He beamed at Emma's arrival. So they still had a fighting chance against the monsters on the top floor."We gotta move fast!"
Ernie hurried the two girls out of the bedroom. "Sav, give Emma the other stick."
Savannah waved back at Emma. "Heads up!"
she said lowly, and once she had gotten Emma's attention she gently tossed one of the sticks to her. She then turned her attention to Ernie."What are we supposed to do?"
she asked Ernie quietly. "For now, just get Sophia back,"
he replied, trying to sound as confident as Brent did. Thinking was for other people like the Arbiter and Emma, people with powers that could actually accomplish things. He disliked this position he was in. Remembering a detail about Allison's power from the team talk in the observation room, Ernie also began dragging the houseplant they passed earlier by a handful of leaves.
Emma caught the stick with a slight fumble. She gave it a curious glance What the hell do the excpect me to do with this?
she considered mirroring her question aloud, but decided that it was best to just accept it and keep moving. Emma gave a slight nod to Ernie at the mention of getting Sophia to the safe zone. They could worry about the other team later, something that Emma was perfectly fine with. "Yeah, let's get her to the safe zone."
She said, gesturing for the others to follow, hurrying out the back door.
Lawrence, for his part, was in the middle of tying up their captured healer's hands just in case he decided to try and cause more problems before the match ended. On the ground next to his kneeling form was the phone he had fished out of Brent's pockets a few moments ago, still broadcasting the other team's chatter as the Arbiter worked silently. For the most part what they were saying was unimportant- although he suspected the game would have ended if Hazel's earlier attack ended up fatal for one or more of the other team- just confirmation that each of the team members that hadn't been shocked into submission was fine. Annoyingly though it did confirm that Lawrence and Allison were both outnumbered and outgunned. Figuratively of course, in the case of the latter."Hey, Emma! We found her."Shit.
While he didn't expect it, Lawrence still had hoped
that the other team wouldn't be able to locate Sophia before the time limit expired. Just like on a real battlefield though- shit went wrong if there was any chance at all that it could. Fantastic. With a final, frustrated pull he tightened the pants around the arms and hands of his captive before standing up and leaving the phone where it lay. It had served its purpose. With a quick pause to check Hazel's state once more he then made his way over to where Allison had taken up her watch, scratching the back of his head before explaining:
"Well, other team has Sophia, I'd say we lose this one.
If the other team had Sophia, they needed to be stopped before they got to their point. Unlike Lawrence, Allison wasn't willing to admit defeat. Sure, she wanted the battle to be over, but she couldn't allow all of the suffering to be in vain.
Allison quickly lowered herself down to the first floor. If the other team had found Sophia, they were likely still in the building. From her vantage point, Allison could see one exit with quick access to the other team's point. If they were going to head anywhere, it would hopefully be that door. Luckily, Allison seemed to be right, the sounds of footsteps were approaching below her spot at the edge of the first floor. As they approached, Allison jumped down behind them, onto a couch at the bottom of what remained of the stairs. She summoned the shard to it's full length of 6 meters as she fell.