Healer Team: Halvost and Defensive Support: Roless
- Failures -
- Failures -
『ℤ𝕠𝕖』 『ℂ𝕙𝕣𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕞𝕒𝕤』 『𝔼𝕣𝕟𝕖𝕤𝕥』 『𝔹𝕣𝕖𝕟𝕥』
𝕊𝕖𝕡𝕥. 𝟙𝟜, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕎𝕚𝕤𝕗𝕠𝕣𝕕, 𝕄𝕒𝕣𝕪𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕 / / 𝕋𝕠𝕨𝕟 / / ~𝟙𝟟𝟜𝟝
“Christmas, is there a particular reason why you’re getting closer to the frontlines?”
Oh, was Brent mad at them? Knowing that the blond's difficulties with doing anything coherent without blanking out, Ernie took the radio and answered for the team. "Sorry, old location got compr-- uh, it's not safe anymore. The mage was hiding a mic and--"
His train of thought was derailed by a sudden transmission. Strange voices, strange noises, and... was that screaming he could hear on the other side? Emma didn't seem to know the source so it wasn't from the support team. And there was too much screaming to consist of a three-person healer team, strike team or one of the snipers. The only team left that was travelling with a large number of people was Evac and...
Ernie blanched. They were the ones who had David. And if it was them who was screaming... What was happening? He cast a brief glance at Zoe before talking into the radio.
"Evac, what's the situation with the mage? Evac, can you hear me?"
"...and Brent would have a clearer view if we get into trouble again."
Remembering his own words, Ernie thumbed through the channels and switched to the amethyst-eyed sniper's.
"Brent, what's going on?"
Zoe had reached much the same conclusion - this had to be connected to David in one way or another. Had they missed a tracker when they searched? Another mic? Either way, this was on them. They should've killed him when they had the chance, and now Evac were paying for their mistakes. But out of everything, there was one thing that stuck out.
Why are they screaming?
They were supposed to be calm. If things weren't calm, there was every chance that Lawrence was in trouble. And it was her fault, coming off the back of her decisions. She wasn't sure if she considered him a friend, but... He'd helped her, given her a chance when she probably didn't deserve one, and now she might have gotten him killed. She'd stopped moving, fists clenched tight and an expression mirroring that of a rabid dog. Panicked, angry, and viciously afraid.
Not again. She couldn't do this again.
"I'm going out there."
“Offensive Support, Strikers, Healer Teams, Gregory. The APC has been attacked by three subnaturals. One male with olive skin, one female with black hair, and another with blond hair in a ponytail. Necks hidden. Don’t know their powers yet. Don’t message anyone on Evac team. Lawrence is down and the rest are missing.”
Three subnaturals with necks hidden. Aberrations. Fuck, fuck, FUCK. They must've come after David. Now one of their classmates was down and Marcus was badly outnumbered by what Ernie presumed were experienced mage agents. The long-haired aberration grit his teeth. He should have poured drain cleaner down that fucker's throat instead.
"There are three of them, you can't go out there!" he grabbed Zoe by the wrist but let go after remembering her ability. He opted to keep a firm grip on her covered shoulder instead.
Brent's voice sounded from over the radio. "Ernie, Zoe, Christmas, head northwest, away from my building."
"Healer comes first," Ernie insisted furiously, concurring with the tech mage's orders.
Zoe shrugged off Ernie's hand, her voice shaking with barely-restrained anger. This was irrational, and she knew that, to an extent, but that didn't change her priorities. "Then take Christmas and start walking. I'm no healer."
Events seemed to prefer simultaneous starts, at least from Christmas's limited perspective. No sooner had they wordlessly resolved to put David behind them both figuratively and literally than the sudden buzz of radio static sounded from apparently multiple speakers.
First it was one of their teammates, asking him in particular why the group moved as they did (and Christmas had come up short for an acceptable answer, anyway), then it was the ominous transmission from another group that sent only screams and muted noises through the speakers. And that prompted even more responses from others, asking the inevitable questions of "What."
He couldn't juggle this mentally. It was hard enough just thinking about where he should and shouldn't be on the battlefield, especially now when they didn't have the relative certainty of assigned locations. Trying to process it all at once was a huge mistake and Christmas felt that old panic rear its head against his heart and nerves.
Zoe and Ernie were saying something, and the tones of their voices were harsh. Biting. But he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do here. It had been simpler to let them make the calls, but now they and someone else on the radio were arguing. Meanwhile distant screams petered from all of their cuffs, echoing and replicating the sounds threefold.
He thought it sounded a bit like the white noise in his head.
"...U-uh..." he managed, the sound preluding a series of half-thoughts he didn't know how to piece together and voice.
Losing your goddamn minds like you did today will get them killed.
Prioritize your objectives.
Criticisms from a half-skimmed pile of evaluation papers swam around in Ernie's head. The objective was here. Healers as powerful as Christmas were a one-in-a-billion find. He couldn't fall into the hands of an Aberration faction. The objective was here and he couldn't have Zoe endangering that.
They had to stay back here. Because back here was safe.
Ernie's eyes widened at that thought. 'Safe'? He hadn't been thinking about Christmas at all. It was all for himself. Just like it always was. Even when a comrade, a friend, was facing certain death, Ernie was only looking out for his own hide. Marcus had stuck by him even after finding out how awful he really was. He'd scolded and advised him. He was a friend.
But as amazing and right as he was, he couldn't make Ernie a better person. Friendship had no meaning here in a warzone.
A golden noose shot from his hand and wrapped around Zoe's neck. Christmas was of no help here. It was up to him to make sure the team stayed together. Even if it meant dooming Marcus. Even if it meant he'd lose yet another person he cared about. Even if it meant that he would stay selfish.
"I'm sorry," Ernie murmured, looking sullen, "You can't go."
"It's not your choice to make. Let me go, Ernie." Zoe's voice was cold with rage, the redhead forcing herself to keep it level as she glared at the other aberration, but there was a note of something else underneath. Something akin to desperation.
She was meant to stop this, to stop people from hurting them. That was why she'd made her choice in the first place-- So what use was she if she couldn't even do that? Every time someone tried to help her, she just had to go and fuck it up, leave them worse off than before.
After a few seconds of pulling at the rope, she began to realise it was hopeless to try and break it - At least without seriously hurting Ernie. And with his durability, holding back wouldn't be an option, so she couldn't afford to try. She tried to pull on the rope and unbalance him, but the guy was immovable. There was no way for her to run with the rope tight around her neck. No way out. Trapped.
No. No, this wasn't supposed to--
Her voice finally cracked. "Ernie, please."
He shook his head silently, ruefully. Selfish. Stupid.
"Christmas is..." he struggled to not choke on his rationale, "one of the strongest healers I've ever known. We can't let those Aberrations have him."
One good reason.
"Cal and Angel and Emma. All our classmates. They're important too. What if they need us and we're not there?"
Another solid point. So many valid excuses for this retreat, so logical and effective. Ernie wished that they could outweigh his own cowardly justification.
"Zoe, do you understand?"
Zoe was silent for a long moment.
Of course she understood. She knew it made sense, that it was rational and sensible to retreat. But it didn't make her feel better. The others were so far away, and... Fighting was the only thing she knew how to do, really. They needed Christmas to live, they didn't need her to run away so that could happen.
"I just don't see what difference I make." Zoe spoke almost inaudibly, weakly protesting the statements. Despite her arguments she wasn't looking at either of the others, shoulders slumped as she looked down at the floor. She wasn't winning here at any rate, and it was clear that the girl knew that to an extent.
It almost hurt to see her look so defeated. Almost.
"Throwing your life away won't make any difference either," he said quietly.
The rope returned to its loose state, releasing its hold on Zoe. He still had a bit less than twenty minutes left, and if she tried to run again he could easily leash her. Hopefully the whole thing will have blown over by the time his rope time ran out. Cal will have responded to Brent's call for help and the Evac team would get out with minimal casualties. Hopefully. A guy could dream.
"Cal's making her way over now," Ernie offered, "We'll go back to them as soon as it's clear. But for now we need to hang back."
"We both know that could be too late." Zoe nodded halfheartedly as the rope disappeared from her neck, rubbing her throat absentmindedly. This hadn't gone the way she'd hoped. None of it had, really-- Everything had just fallen apart when it got the chance, and a lot of it was on them. No, a lot of it was on her. At least until now, most of it had been her decision.
Forcing herself to at least appear composed, she sighed, sounding almost too exhausted to bother arguing anymore. "If we're going... then let's just go, okay?"
Ernie scratched his head tiredly and nodded, keeping the rope on just in case. What a mess. One hand ushered his teammates north while the other raised the radio to his mouth.
"Brent. Heading to the location now."
Subdued after his failed attempt to say anything cohesive, Christmas bit his lower lip and followed Ernie, trying to put aside his self-deprecating thoughts until a better moment. He stared at the moving feet in front of him instead, counting the steps and letting his mind linger on simple numbers so it wouldn't find out that he had been--and still was--entirely useless. Far more than anyone here.
Oblivious to all the drama, Brent's voice sounded through the radio once more. "That's good. Get as much distance as you can from my location, cause it's gonna be attracting attention very soon."