Chapter 211

                Alice was scary. That wasn’t really news, and hadn’t been for years now. If anything, Violet was among the first person to realize that when they had their mid-air tussle during the sophomore final. All the same, it was eerie to watch as Alice raised her hands, face pinched in concentration, and suddenly every Sim on the ground went shooting up into the air. Dimly, Violet thought she made out a few crunches from way up high, although that may have just been her imagination. Big blasts of energy Violet could deal with, same as she could handle people who could punch through cars. But to just watch a battlefield be wiped out like that, no screams or chances to fight back… it was unnerving. Once Alice hit the real world, Violet had a hunch that a lot of crooks would take to wearing parachutes as regular fashion accessories.

                “So far… so good.” Alice’s words came out terse, and her hands shook a little. The area she was affecting with her power was huge, easily the biggest she’d done in any of these fights by a healthy margin, and the effort was visibly taking a toll on her. She was still able to talk, at least, and walked forward under her own power, albeit at a plodding pace. “Amber… your turn.”

                The words had barely left Alice’s mouth when the huge section of the wall around the second floor blew open, leaving a massive crater easily large enough for them to walk through. Unfortunately, the fact that it was on the second floor meant walking wasn’t an option, and Alice seemed in no position to try flying the group.

                “Can you get us up there?” Amber asked.

                “Have too. You need me. Otherwise, you’d go up too.” Alice grit her teeth and started forward, her feet wobbling a bit as they left contact with the group. She had a point though; if they entered the area without Alice’s protection the gravity would affect them just like the Sims. No wonder she’d said she couldn’t help with whatever they found, Violet was amazed Alice had the concentration to do even this much. Once they were inside, they were on their own.

                Traveling to the hole in the wall was a brief, somewhat terrifying affair. Violet, at least, had the knowledge that if Alice slipped up she could semi-fly around, but Amber would be in a much more vulnerable position. Thankfully, nothing went wrong as they made their approach, all three walking through the air on whatever unseen gravity field Alice was weaving, until they finally touched down on the dull gray carpet of the building’s interior. There were no Sims around the entrance, which wasn’t a great shock since they should be pinned to the ceiling, but Violet still positioned Alice behind her all the same. From here on, it was up to her and Amber to finish the job. Alice had done more than enough, time to prove that they could make a difference as well.

*             *             *

                “Oh dear.” Chad stopped running, holding up a hand for Vince to follow his lead. Tapping his earpiece, he spoke to Will in quick, clear tones. “Will, can you sweep the area south of 19th for me? I’m hearing a big group of Sims moving in what I suspect is the same direction as us. If they’re not on the same path we can swing wide, but if they’re backup for the target it might be more prudent to handle them now.”

                “One moment.” Will’s voice was soon followed by a buzz overhead as one of his drones swept the sky. This time, however, it was interrupted by a sound like something crackling and then a soft thud as it smashed into a building. “They’re going the same way, and they spotted my drone. Second one I’ve lost so far. Alice has a reversed-gravity field around her building, but since we now know they have at least one blaster, I’m not sure how that would impact their ability to strike from a range. Can you two intercept the gang before they arrive?”

                “Can and will, Will.” Chad faltered, his accidental wordplay tripping him up. “I mean we’ll do it, if that’s what helps the most.”

                “Seeing as neither of you can fly through an area of manipulated gravity, I’d say you’d do the most good by stopping these potential threats before they arrive. Stay ready for new instructions though, we’re down to the wire. If anything goes wrong, it will be all hands on deck.”

                Vince waited, but no more guidance followed, so he turned to Chad instead. Lowering his hand from the earpiece, Chad nodded to the southeast and then met Vince’s eyes. “You should be aware; I hear a lot of them. This won’t be an easy fight with just two of us.”

                “The fate of the world is at stake, I wouldn’t expect anything less.” Together, they ran off toward the group of migrating Sims, each hoping they’d be able to help in some small way before their time ran out.

*             *             *

                All of the indoor Sims had not met an equal fate. The heavier ones had smashed through the tile ceiling, getting pinned under the sturdy floor of the next level. Others were still in sight, twisting and turning to try and see what was going on below them. A few had managed, through luck or effort, to face downward toward the ground. Those, Amber picked off as they made their way through the halls. Violet wasn’t sure any of them had ranged abilities, but they might, and even if they didn’t they could still raise a ruckus, so she didn’t protest Amber’s methods too hard.

                The biggest enemy they were facing was time, unfortunately. Not much was left, and Alice’s slow pace made searching each room a longer task than it needed to be. So when they finally came to a large office with thick wooden doors and sounds of movement from the other side, it filled all of them with hope that they’d reached the final step of their trial. Amber looked to Violet, who looked to Alice, who was sweating visibly from the strain of manipulating gravity over such a large area.

                There was nothing to say, really. They knew they had to bust in, and it was clear that Alice couldn’t hold this much longer. It was time to act, all they could do was stay on their toes and trust their training. There wasn’t enough time to try anything else.

                Carefully, Violet positioned Alice directly behind her and then dialed up her own body’s density by several degrees. Given the way Amber liked to knock, there was a good chance this was going to come with collateral damage.

                “Ready?” Amber stood, hand outstretched, waiting for her cue.

                Violet took a deep breath, scanned the area one last time for danger they might have missed, and then nodded. Her head had barely finished moving before the door exploded inward, spraying flecks of wood all over the hall.