Over the next we fleshed out our plan for escape. Lorrie went to scout out a route to the sewer, and had been attacked apparently. She hadn't said much to me when she got back so I didn't know what she had found. Apex had walked in with a small smile on his face, and Lorrie had come back in a neutral state. After talking with Newt she disappeared, and I didn't see her for the rest of the day.
Lorrie had a fight the next, and I was able to catch her before she left.
"Hey Lorrie!" I took a quick look around for Tiamone, and lowered my voice. "How did the umm... expedition go?"
"There's only one route. You know the preparation hall?"
"Yeah of course."
"One of the tunnels leads to a storm drain. There's a trap door in there somewhere, but i wasn't able to find it before I was spotted. There are heat sensors there, so Apex will have to disable them through the panel."
"Ok sounds good!" She continued looking at me half-expectantly, and half something else that I couldn't quite place. I didn't know what else to say, so I started to shuffle away before throwing a, "Good luck!" over my shoulder. Then I went to find Apex.
Apex and I went to spar in the practice room for the first time since we'd both gotten here. It was good to be able to fight without having to fear for your life. And I needed the practice too. I hadn't done much of anything since Tiamone had almost killed me, and while the injury had mostly healed, there were a few kinks I needed to work out.
Apex flashed behind me and caught my side with a jab. I charged my body with electricity, and when Apex flashed around and tried to hit me again, he experienced a sensation quite like touching an electric fence. I let some energy build up on my fist and started to release it when Apex lifted a hand and caught me by surprise with a blast of ice that froze the lightning bolt just as it had been about to leave my hand. The result looked like something out of the Thor movie when Loki was sabotaging the Bifrost.
I couldn't feel my hand, and it was awkward to swing. Apex took advantage of my partial paralysis and flashed around me, bombarding the area with explosions. I stopped him short with a wall of telekinesis and rolled away. He stood and prepared to launch another explosion, but I was ready. I created a ball of telekinesis around the blossoming explosion and swung it back around to throw at Apex. My aim was off and the ball hit the ground between us, but the compressed explosion being released, sent a shockwave that sent us both flying.
When the dust settled and my hearing returned, I could hear Apex laughing. I realized I had joined him too.
"Well that was pretty wicked." He said, standing up and dusting himself off.
"It was a bit of a gamble, but I had to think fast. Without my right arm, things wouldn't have been good. The whole frozen lightning thing was pretty awesome too though. We'll have to use those in a battle sometime."
"Agreed. How's the plan progressing?"
"We have an escape route. Can you disable heat sensors?"
"Ok. We'll be going through a tunnel that branches out of the preparation room. From there we go through a trapdoor and into the sewers."
"Tomorrow during Tiamone's fight."
"Great. I'm looking forward to busting out of this god forsaken compound."
We went inside and watched Lorrie's fight. As it began, both Lorrie and her opponent were slow to move from the starting spaces. They threw a few half-hearted punches, and appeared to be communicating with each other. Then after a minute, they both stopped and sat down.
"Can they do that?" I asked.
"I don't think so. The fight moderators aren't going to be happy. Wonder what they're going to-"
Without any warning, the arena floor began to shake and explode as bombs began to fall from the ceiling. Lorrie and her opponent sprang up and began dodging the bombs as best they could.
"She has to kill the other girl, or they're both dead." Apex said grimly, then he stood up.
"I'm going to go do something." he said, then ran off.
"Apex are you-? Come back!"
But he was gone. All I could do was keep watching.
A bomb came perilously close to hitting Lorrie. As it was, the explosion knocked her backwards and her body blossomed with cuts.
The other girl shouted what might have been "I'm sorry" and then picked a handful of dirt and threw it into the air. The little grains hovered in the air for a moment and then began to shake and change shape. A buzzing came out of the speakers, the girl had turned the dirt into some kind of bug! The bugs moved to attack Lorrie, who was struggling to stand, when the other girl disappeared in burst of earth and fire.
As the guards rolled on to bring Lorrie back, I wondered what had happened to Apex.
A few minutes later,the entrance slid open and an unconscious Lorrie was deposited on the floor.
Without hesitation I picked her up and moved her to her room like I had done so many times with...
Even while I was treating Lorries cuts and numerous stings, my mind kept drifting to Newt and her actions from the other day.
"You've been sad. I thought I would try and cheer you up."
I've been sad.
Oh ya think?
I thought... maybe... after the whole thing with Apex, which she had avoided explaining, she might have realized that I liked her. It was hard to put the pieces together where Newt was concerned with Apex, and her refusal to talk about it was a pretty good confirmation.
"I should have just stuck at friends like what you and me have."
Translation: You're in the friend zone pal.
I couldn't help but grit my teeth... I didn't want to be just friends. Why couldn't she that? Was she really that oblivious, or was she intentionally cutting my heart out with a spoon?
I looked down and realized that the bandage I had just wound around Lorrie's arm was way too tight. With a sigh, I unwrapped it and re-wrapped it.
I couldn't hate Newt though. I was stuck in a limbo of sorts. I wasn't able to just drop it, and admit defeat. I couldn't be angry at her and turn her away from me. I couldn't avoid her, I mean we lived two rooms apart from each other.
To make it simple, I couldn't think about her, without wishing I were dating her.
And I couldn't not think about her.
Lorrie's voice broke me from my thoughts.
"Huh? Oh. Hey. Doing ok?"
"I guess so. I didn't want her to die."
"Ashley. My opponent. We agreed to not fight. And then... and then they did that!"
"I'm sorry. I do know exactly how you feel though. I have been there."
"I know. Makes me glad you're here."
I guess I blushed or something as I looked at the floor, because she tried to hide a smile.
"Yeah it's...it's no problem. Those uh... those stings look like they hurt."
"Oh you bet they do!"
"You sound almost excited Lorrie, were you looking forward to being stung?" I asked with a small laugh.
"Yes Visp. I go into every battle, just hoping to be maimed or hurt" it wasn't hard to catch the smirk on her face.
"Um... right... stupid question I guess. Well, I better go I suppos-"
"Well... actually I could use help taking care of these stings, if you wouldn't mind."
I looked from the door to Lorrie, and back again.
"Well... I guess I could help."
I found something to help treat the stings and after a few miuntes, I had applied it to all the irritated areas.
"Is that it?" I asked.
"That's all of them. Thanks Visp." She was looking at me again, and I once again felt very awkward.
"Yeah, I was glad to help." I told her. "We make our move tomorrow during Tiamone's mat-"
Lorrie pulled herself up and kissed me.
No... no no no...This was wrong...
I pulled back.
Lorrie looked shocked and... disappointed. Then her face hardened and she lifted her chin and looked away. I slowly backed away and turned as I made it to the door.
Newt was staring at me with a confused look on her face, almost as if it were weird of me to be kissing a girl. It's not like I was gay.
I gently pushed past her and went out to the kitchen, where Apex was just being escorted in by some guards.
"Apex are you all right?"
"I'm just fine. I hadn't even done anything, when these tin cans grabbed me."
"You were preparing to enter the ring. That is not permitted by non-scheduled contestants."
"Oh whatever. How's Lorrie?" he asked me.
"U-uh... I don't know... I mean... fine but... yeah she's fine."
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah. Just be ready to leave tomorrow."
I ran for my room.
"Good luck Tiamone." It took a huge effort to say that and smile at the same time, but somehow I managed it.
He nodded curtly and left.
"Alrighty guys! Up and at 'em! Let's move!"
Apex was first out, followed by Shard, then Lorrie, then Newt. I gave Lorrie a smile because I didn't want things to be awkward, especially not now, but she didn't give any indication that she saw it.
Why me? Why did I have to stop the girl who gave me my first kiss?
I shook my head to clear it, then started speaking once again.
"Ok. We leave in 15 minutes. That's when the fight starts. Apex, you have to disable the heat scanners, Newt, if you could synthesize a bunch of food and pack it that'd be great. Shard, just get ready to kill stuff, and Lorrie... you'll be leading."
They all nodded and set about their tasks. I turned the T.V. on to watch for the fight to start. When Tiamone and his opponent took their places I called out once more.
"Let's go guys! It's time!"
"Visp!" came newt's telepathy.
"There are no bags, so I had to roll stuff up in blankets."
"Hmm... alright. It'll have to work. Let's roll!"
Lorrie took the lead and we fast-walked out the doors towards the Arena. The preparation hall was in sight when two guards appeared out of the doors and came towards us. The only thing suspicious about us was the wrapped up blankets that Apex was carrying, but it seemed enough to catch the guards attention.
"What's the bundle for?" The first guard asked.
Thinking fast I stepped forward, "It's an impromptu treatment sir. He had his hands frozen during a training fight. The blankets are warming them."
Catching on, Shard took the bundle from Apex who displayed his now ice covered hands. The guards stepped back in astonishment and repulsion.
"Um. Very good. Sorry for the trouble." And they were gone.
"Great thinking Visp" projected Newt.
"Um... thanks. In here guys, hurry!"
We burst into the empty preparation hall and followed Lorrie down the correct tunnel. Once we came to a dead end, Lorrie turned around and said,
"Ok, there is a loose stone in here somewhere. We need to find it fast."
Everyone except Newt, who was now carrying the bundle, got down on their hands and started searching. Apex gave a small exclamation and then punched the stone, setting off an explosion as he did so.
"Apex!" I whispered. "No powers!"
He shrugged and followed Lorrie down the steps that the rock had covered.
"Ok, it's just a little further to the sewer..." Lorrie said. We turned a corner and stopped dead in our tracks.
In front of us were about 2 dozen robotic guards.
"Newt" I thought. "Newt get back!"
Then it started. Two grenades were launched at us. Or at Lorrie rather. Apex flashed and grabbed one, while I used my telekinesis to stop another. Then a third was shot with a whump. It was headed straight. Towards. Newt.
I lashed out with my telekinesis and hurled the grenade back towards it's tube at double the speed. Then I lowered the telekinetic shield around it and charged it with a bolt of lightning.
The blast only took out one robot.
Apex began flashing around, and I let bolts of lightning fly. Shard was nowhere to be seen but I trusted Apex's impression and hoped he was doing something helpful. Lorrie was phasing through robots, acting as a distraction, because her psychic navigation wasn't effective against something without a psyche.
One guard broke through me and went for Newt. He lowered a blaster and fired.
Oh god... I wouldn't be in time...
And then Newt was 10 feet in the air.
"Good Newt! Stay there!" I said, as I tangled with her almost killer. I had stocked up on things for my breath power this morning, and now seemed like a good time. I took out a match, scratched it on the guard to light it, then inhaled it.
The whole thing.
I could feel the heat in my lungs, and I exhaled sharply, releasing enough flame to melt the robot into a lump of superheated scrap metal.
Lorrie was surround by three guards. I started to run towards her, but hesitated for a split second, thinking back to yesterday. Luckily, Apex didn't.
He flashed in front of one robot, catching the fist with his chest, then rocketed it backwards with an amplified punch.
"Visp!" he called, "Frozen lightning!"
I stuck out a hand and began to charge power. I could feel the ice coming as I released the bolt, and was careful to not to curl my hand around the lightning icicle. It snapped free of my hand and I launched it towards one robot while Apex turned to deal with another. Apex flashed behind his opponent, formed a spike of ice around his fist, and drove it through it's chest. My bolt had struck the other robot through the head, and released a miniature thunderstorm that blew the circuits off the guard.
Lorrie meanwhile had taken on another guard. She picked up an arm from a defeated guard and phased through her opponent, dragging the arm in as she did so. After she was out, she released the arm which solidified and was now protruding from robot's chest. She kicked at it and the arm broke out the back of the robot with a circular object skewered on it. Since the robot collapsed, I assumed it was it's central processor.
Even Newt had been able to free a stalagmite levitate with it and drop it onto a guard from above.
We might be able to take them, we actually mig-
"HELP!!!" Newt screamed.
We all spun to see Newt in the arms of a man we all hated. Next to him, was a boy we hated just as much.
Kobish and Tiamone.
"I should have killed you when I had the chance!" I yelled at Tiamone. I turned to Kobish, "Let her go!"
Kobish had Newt under the control of the strange immobilizing power that Kobish possessed. To my surprise, Kobish himself began to levitate until his head was inches away from the cave ceiling.
"As you wish Visp."
"Newt!" I ran towards her, sticking my arm out as I did so. My telekinesis had been weakened to the point where I was only able to slow Newt's descent. I concentrated hard and threw all of my will into my power, determined not to let her die.
It was enough. Barely. She was so close, that I had to slide to get between her and the ground.
My breath left me, and I'm sure one or two ribs broke, but Newt was safe.
Kobish floated back down and when he touched down, Newt was able to move again. She helped me to my feet and allowed me to lean on her as I limped back to our group.
"You must realize how foolish this attempt was Area 50. I am most displeased, but at the same time I must thank you."
"Why is that?" Apex sneered.
"Because you will be used as an example to the rest of our residents to ensure that they don't try something as idiotic as you. In fact, we are be being broadcast to them right now. Say hello to the cameras!"
I wanted to shoot a bolt of lightning, snap his neck, incinerate him, or something, anything to shut him up and wipe the self-satisfied grin off face.
"You're going to kill us?" Lorrie asked, "It's not like we wouldn't have met the same fate in the arena."
Kobish's grin grew wider, "Oh no I'm not going to you. You will be tortured over a period of a few days."
"You can't torture Newt. I won't let you." I said adamantly. I stood as tall as I could and stepped in front of Newt with feet planted and arms raised. One of the guards trained a weapon Newt, but I made a crushing motion, and it's firearm crumpled.
"Leave. Her. Alone."
"Spring, that time when a young man's fancy turns lightly to love. Worry not Visp. I have better plans for your squeamish friend here. She will be allotted one hour to patch you up as best as she can following your release from the torture lab. Assuming she stays conscious." He said with a laugh. "Then you will have your first team fight. Oh and Tiamone will no longer be joining you. His hard work has earned him a transfer to a new Area. Area 34. That is all."
As the guards closed in around us, I couldn't help but think that we had descended into the next circle of this hell in which we were living.