Walls rose up with a deafening thud. Benches, desks, and other furniture filled the room around them. The markers they stood on, Quin realized, were to keep them away from the construction. Quin, Alice, Kevin, and Clyde were alone in their room, cut off from everyone else.
It only took a few seconds for everything to settle. Quin realized that this room was a church. Pews lined both sides of the room, and there was a podium in the front. Everyone took in their surroundings, waiting for something to happen.
“Hello?” Lauren’s voice said overhead. “Guys?”
There was a loud mixture of “yeah?”s and “I’m here”s.
“Guys, we need to try to talk one at a time,” Alice said as she rubbed her ear with her finger. “What is it, Lauren?”
“I’m all alone in here,” she said factually.
“Me too,” Blair said.
“Same,” followed Davontaye. “I can see our side of the board and where everyone is.”
They didn’t sound frightened, just informative as to what was going on.
“I can see both sides of the field but only the offensive team is marked for me,” Lauren stated.
“I can see both sides,” said Blair. “Also, there are some instructions in here. It says that only I can hear everyone at any given time. Once the offensive team crosses midpoint, they will only be able to hear Lauren and myself, and Lauren can only hear you guys. Davontaye and the defensive team can only hear people on our side of the line. I will be the messenger to pass information between the two sides.
“Noted,” Sam said. “You guys need to get moving. We don’t know when they will strike.
“Right,” Quin said. “Lauren, lead the way.”
“All right. Exit the door directly next to you.” She sounded like she was scrambling to figure where to go. “Um… Okay. So the flag is in a room in the far corner of their side. How do you guys want to do this?”
“We should stick together; it’ll be harder for them to take on all four of us at once,” Clyde said confidently.
“Yeah… But what if they can?” Alice said. “We need to be smarter than that. Lauren, you see four dots on the screen now, right?”
“Yeah?” she said, confused.
Alice walked up to Quin and wrapped her arms around him and put her head up against his chest. Quin was taken aback at first, wanting to push her away, but then he realized what she was doing.
“How about now?”
“There’s only three now. One is slightly larger than the other, but you’d really have to pay attention to notice that.” Lauren said. “You’re brilliant, Alice!”
“Clyde, join us,” Alice demanded.
Clyde rushed the two and joined the embrace.
“How’s that look?” Alice asked.
“It’s larger, definitely noticeable next to a regular-sized dot.” Lauren said.
“Okay, perfect,” Alice smiled. “They don’t know what an enemy dot looks like yet. We will only get one chance at this. Kevin, I think you should be our ace. You’re going to get the flag, quickly, and get out.”
Kevin smiled, but his look of excitement quickly turned to nervousness when he realized he would be alone and separated from Clyde.
“You’re the fastest. You can do this, Kevin,” Quin said.
Alice quickly explained her plan. “The three of us are going to huddle and walk slowly in the opposite direction of the flag. This will hopefully get them to trigger a fight with all their fighters. They will think they can quickly dispose of us. As soon as the fight starts, Lauren will need to get Kevin to the flag quickly while they are all distracted with us. We don’t need to win the fight; we just need to hold them long enough to let Kevin do his thing.”
Quin, smiled. It could work, and it could work quickly. “Let’s do this,” he said.
Lauren was able to guide them up to the midpoint line. They passed very differently styled rooms along the way. One looked like a spaceship, another an outdoor butterfly garden. It was like Phase 1 but condensed into large rooms instead of entire floors. The room they stood in now looked like an old Western saloon. Dust was settled on the tables. The detail was impeccable, Quin thought.
The four stood before the door leading to the other team’s side. “All right. Get in tight,” Alice said.
Quin, Clyde, and Alice huddled together.
“Good luck,” said Davontaye. It was quickly followed by, “Guys, I got enemy activity ov –”
His voice was cut off as they shimmied through the door. It was a tight squeeze, but they managed to get through it without splitting apart.
“They’ll be all right,” Alice said with confidence.
“Yeah, so will we,” replied Clyde.
The three moved as quickly as they could in their awkward formation. Surprisingly enough, they managed to move at almost a normal walking speed.
“Okay, guys,” Lauren said. “Their flag is somewhere in the upper left of their map, so, basically, as far from your starting point as possible. Kevin, I need you to go down three rooms to the right on your side and wait by the door that would lead past midpoint.”
There was no response. Apparently, they couldn’t even hear their own teammates if they were on the other side.
“You three, keep making your way up. Go as fast as you can.
Make it look like you are moving with purpose.”
“Got it. Thanks, Lauren,” Quin acknowledged.
They moved through doorway after doorway. Each room was more bizarre than the last. One looked like an underwater aquarium, while another looked like a five-star restaurant. When they got to the end of the restaurant, they came to a door that was smaller than usual.
“We need to be careful through this one,” Alice said.
They turned their bodies and positioned Clyde to back through the door first.
Quin was worried that this would be where their plan failed. Hopefully the other team would still take the bait, even if they found out it’s three people.
Clyde had to stretch his feet into the other room to keep his balance. The moment he did so there was a loud buzz. A wall rose out of the ground below the doorway they were trying to get through. Quin and Alice were forced to let go of Clyde. Clyde was still in the doorway, his feet on the far side with his upper body still leaning towards them. The door hit the underside of his rib cage and scraped up his body until it connected with the underside of his jaw. With a deafening “CRACK!” Clyde’s body was flung into the other room, sealing him off from Quin and Alice.
A shrill scream erupted from Alice. “Oh my God!” Her knees buckled underneath her as her hands covered her mouth.
Quin turned around, the back of his hand resting underneath his nose, but he quickly refocused when he saw four people standing in front of them.
“Alice,” Quin said, trying to get her attention.
Alice was still at the door, banging and clawing at it. “Clyde? CLYDE!” She screamed.
“Alice!” Quin yanked her arm.
After finally noticing the enemies, she wiped the tears from her face and took a deep breath. “Well, shit.”