Deeper: Part Six
I sat down at the table with the six that evening. It was the usual thing to hang out with them in the evening now. Eva didn't like it, or the lieutenants, any better than she had day one. Then again, Eva Starender liked no one but herself. Other people were only things to be used to advance her power hungry aims.
We were listening to Miles stutteringly tell a story about one of his first missions as a soldier. It was meant to be comedic; however it was a little hard to enjoy since Miles was such a poor speaker. When he finally ended, the others kindly told him it was hilarious, and it was probably true, if you had been there to experience it.
Sharron turned to me. "So, Starender, can we count on seeing you tomorrow?"
"If nothing better comes up," I replied. "Sadly, nothing has so far."
Sharron just smiled and chuckled. She was still trying to convince herself that Starender's nasty comments were just attempts at witticisms. I really felt bad for her.
Moire pointed at me across the table. "You're going down, Starender."
I smirked. "Is that a challenge, Moire?"
"Maybe," she said with an arrogant grin.
"That's too bad. I was going to be nice. Now I'm going to humiliate you all," I replied with a dark grin as I rose. "See you tomorrow."
I walked back to the office I was sharing with Buzz and went in. Buzz wasn't at his usual post of monitoring the situation. That wasn't terribly uncommon; he met with Garoo privately sometimes. I never knew if it had anything to do with the mission or Garoo was taking advantage of Buzz being around to make him help with other things.
I sat down at the computers, happy to find that Buzz hadn't locked them. He didn't need to, since we were the only ones with access to the room. I sat down and started to look through the surveillance footage history.
Buzz came back in about two hours later. He looked surprised to see me seated at his desk.
"What are you up to, Kimmy?" he demanded.
"The infamous six told me they do these training runs every week. I was watching some of their previous runs, to try to learn more about their styles. Also, I noticed that they communicate over headsets during it. What are the chances I could tap into their frequencies so I can listen to their chatter? That sounds like the kind of underhanded thing Starender would do to get ahead," I said. "Also, studying the schematics, there are a lot of maintenance tunnels around that room. I could probably go in there and never have to leave cover to attack. Many of them open into the ceiling; I'd have a Pteri's eye view."
"Ah, you get more clever the more you get into this character," Buzz said, nodding approvingly. "I'll get you tapped into their frequencies. I think you stand a good chance."
"Oh, I certainly hope so. Because, if I blow this, I doubt I'm getting an invite to the evil villains' association, and that'll make everything we've done these past weeks worthless," I said.
We stood in the armory off the training arena. The six were gathered in their teams of three, quietly discussing strategy. I was sitting off in a corner, checking over my laser rifle. It was similar to one of the weapons Chloe had trained me to use, so I was sure I'd have no trouble using it.
Moire, Sharron, and Nicola were one team. Nigel, Miles and Andrea were the on the other.
Sharron left her group and came over and sat next to me.
"Ready to humiliate us?" she asked jokingly.
"I think so. Miles has the personality of a rock fish, but I've heard he's decent on the battlefield, so I think he might hang around awhile. Nigel's men may bungle things, but he's a decent fighter. It is a toss up between the others on who will go in what order. They are pretty equal," I said.
"That may be the nicest I've ever heard you say before," Sharron said.
"I may be better than all of you, but that's because I take the time to study and understand my opponents. I'm not an idiot, and only an idiot completely disregards her opponents' potential," I snapped. "Maybe if you learned that you'd have a better chance at moving past where you are. As it is, you're only slightly ahead of Miles in being considered to advance, and his chances are nonexistent."
"You don't--" Sharron started.
"Yes, Sharron, I do. I am privy to that kind of information, because I am useful and have earned it with my abilities to perform," I replied.
Sharron looked down at the floor, turning her face so I couldn't see it. Her breathing became very slow and even. I could tell she was trying to control her emotions, to keep from crying.
"This is not a place for the weak, Sharron. You'd better think long and hard about that," I said.
Sharron nodded, getting up and going back to her group. The whole thing about Sharron had been a bluff. I had no clue who was in line for advancement. I really didn't pay attention during the meetings, so if they had said anything I missed it. I was hoping she'd spread around what I said about my level of information so that it reached the ears of the mole.
An automated voice told us to take our positions and I went down a hall to my door. We would be entering through different entrances, so we wouldn't be on top of each other, in which case it would simply be a shootout.
The door opened and I looked around, locating the maintenance hatch I'd read about. I opened it and crawled in, closing it behind me. The tunnels were a little narrow, as they'd been designed for Grundos, but I was small. I found the ladder and started climbing, heading for the tunnels above the arena.
When I reached the top, I pulled out my headset communicator and put it on. Immediately the chatter from the two teams started. I smirked, this was going to be too easy.
I found a vent in the floor of the tunnel and opened it. They were not likely to notice or even think to care about a missing grate in the ceiling. I listened carefully the the voices, pinpointing rough locations my opponents.
Moire was alone, approaching my position below. From the opposite direction, Miles and Andrea were approaching. I grinned, I could take down three of them with only one shot.
Miles was ahead of Andrea by enough of a distance that my plan would work.
I tapped into Moire's com and imitated Sharron's voice. "Moire, Miles just passed me. I wasn't in a position to take him down without exposing my position and leaving myself open to attack by Andrea. He and Andrea split up. I'm pursing Andrea, and Miles is coming at your position alone from the south."
"I read you," Moire replied.
I smirked and waited. Moire got into position. Miles came around the corner and right into the ambush. She tagged him and he went down. The suits we were wearing initiated a stun when tagged to prevent cheating. Once the game was over, it would wake the stunned players. It also alerted the team a player was down.
Moire rose and turned, she needed to go back the way she'd come just in case Andrea was still close. She didn't want be ambushed if she went forward. However, Andrea was turning the corner right at that moment. She got hit from behind and went down.
I already had my shot lined up and I took Andrea down from my position in the maintenance tunnel. I replaced the vent grate and tuned back into the chatter of Sharron and Nicola. They were speculating on who had taken down Moire so quickly. Now that Nigel was teamless, he wouldn't be using his com again, which did put me at a disadvantage on his account. I'd have no clue where he was.
I decided to follow Nicola and Sharron. They were staying close, though not close enough to always see each other or to communicate without their coms. If I lucked out, I might be able to trip them up by imitating Sharron again, but I'd have to be careful. I could still get tagged from my position if anyone noticed an open grate and got suspicious.
From my position, I noticed that Nigel was approaching from the opposite direction that other two were coming in from. I opened the grate and got ready to do something wildly showboating and idiotic. But, if it worked, it would show them just what I thought of them, and it would be brilliant.
Nigel had gotten into cover in just the right spot. Tapping into Nicola's com I imitated Sharron's voice again, "I thought I just saw Nigel. Get to cover!"
He ducked right into alcove I wanted him to. Sharron kept advancing, unaware that her partner had just gone for cover on her instructions. I took aim and tagged her. She went down and Nicola started scanning the area best he could from cover, wondering where the shot had come from.
I added Nigel to my channel and contacted them in my Starender voice, "Poor boy, all alone. What will you do now?"
They both jumped.
"How did you get this channel? Where are you?" Nicola demanded.
I dropped from the ceiling, attached to a tether that stopped me two feet from the floor. I started to turn my weapon towards Nicola as he jumped out of cover to take advantage of my perceived disadvantage.
However, Nigel's hiding place was pretty much directly across from Nicola's. Which meant that Nigel was behind me, also trying to take advantage of my perceived disadvantage. I pressed the button and my line hauled me back up so fast it was dizzying.
They both fired, too late to catch me, their shots heading at each other. Nicola's went wide and missed Nigel, but Nigel's hit. From my position above, dangling a few feet from the ceiling, I whistled. Nigel instinctively looked up. That was when I tagged him.
Nigel didn't go down because he was the last one to be tagged; the suit didn't need to stun him. Nicola woke up with a groan, Sharron got up and staggered out towards them. I let myself down slowly, and then pressed a button to release the clamp.
"That's got to be cheating!" Sharron shrieked upon seeing me.
"As far as the rules you gave me went, it was 'win if you can', Sharron. Besides, if you always play by the rules and with straightforward combat, you always lose. That was as sad a performance as I expected. Two of you bought the fake Sharron ruse," I laughed mockingly at them. "Ah, and the ending, you two are so stupid. I mean, I knew you were, which is why I decided to try that trick on you, but part of me hoped you were just smart enough to see what a blatant trap was. Oh, that's going to be a fun story to tell in the future."
"Y-you-you, you used me to trick my teammates?" Sharron demanded, looking horrified. "That's, that's..."
Sharron turned and stomped off. The inside of Nicola's ears turned red and Nigel clenched his fists. I walked out into the locker room and tossed my gear on a table, not bothering to stow it away. The other three were in there with Sharron. They turned to look at me, but didn't say anything. Eva sauntered out, feeling pretty pleased with herself.
"That was a pretty stupid move you pulled back there," Buzz commented.
"Yeah, I know. But, I kinda thought it would show some of Eva's need to be something, to be in the spotlight. Her outright arrogance. You don't think it was too out of character, do you?" I asked. "I mean, I only did it because it was a game. I'd never have done something that stupid in a real combat situation."
"No, not really. They probably know that. You displayed your willingness to do anything to win and your abilities, so it was a good thing in the end. We'll just have to wait and see if this bears any results."
I nodded, hoping it would.
To be continued...