Chapter 212

                Although it was Amber who opened the way, Violet was the one who led the charge inside. With her density turned up she could function as a strongman, and that meant she needed to draw any potential fire before waiting Sims could attack her team. She bolted through the still falling pieces of debris that had once been the door and scanned the area.

                Four Sims were in here, waiting for them. One was a short man with energy crackling from his eyes and hands, which were clutched together like he was saying a prayer. Given the amount of juice he was putting out, this seemed like the best bet for what Will spotted, and that meant he was their nuclear threat. Unfortunately, the other three Sims were standing in her way, all of them still on the floor. Glancing down briefly, Violet noticed that they’d drilled in climbing hooks and rope, lashing themselves to the ground. Had they climbed down while she and the others made their way in, or were they like this from the start? It was a question she’d deal with when the fight was over, first she had to clear out this room.

                Leaping toward the nearest Sim, a woman in full business attire who seemed to be rippling with muscle, Violet threw a punch that would knock out a regular person and hopefully knock a Sim with enhanced endurance off-kilter. The woman took the blow without so much as a blink, grabbing Violet and flipping her into the carpet. It was a good thing these floors were reinforced, or Violet would have gone slamming through it. As it was she left a sizable dent in the ground before scrambling back up, just in time to miss an electrical blast from one of the other guard Sims.

                These were tougher than the usual robots, and seemed to be smarter as well. Violet could still beat them; she hadn’t made it this far for nothing. It would take time, however, and time was not an asset they had a lot of remaining. Glancing at her watch, Violet saw that they’d just passed the nine minute mark since this mad scramble of a test began. Less than a minute left meant they didn’t have time to play nice. Much as Violet disliked the killing aspect of the job, in that instant she looked at the situation as if it were real, if the lives of everyone in the world were at stake, and Violet realized she had it in her to do what was necessary. Even if these Sims had been real, she’d still have to wipe them out.

                “Amber, blow the heads off anything that’s not me. I’ll clean up the rest.”

                Without waiting for confirmation, Violet leapt forward, snagging the Sim who’d thrown her in a grapple. She wasn’t trying to actually throw or submit the Sim, however. Violet just needed a grip to put the other side of her power to work. Because she didn’t just impact her own body, she could change the density of other things too. Usually, she only worked with inanimate objects, but today was a special occasion. In the span of seconds she’d lowered the Sim’s density by more than half, and that made snapping its limbs into a minor effort. She tore it apart, taking the head as soon as she had a clear chance, trying hard not to think about the spray of viscera that would be coming in place of electronics if this were real.

                When the task was done, Violet looked around to find the other two standing Sims in smoking heaps, clearly Amber had taken her instructions well. Honestly, she was always a little too ready to kill for Violet’s tastes, but in moment’s like this it was a trait that paid off. With less than a minute left, they had a clean line to the Armageddon Sim.

                Not wasting a moment, because who knew how many they even had left, Violet leapt over toward the sole Sim remaining. She jumped so high that part of her accidentally left the bubble of normal gravity that Alice was holding around them for an instant, disorienting herself, and what had been a leap turned into a fall as she struggled to regain her sense of direction. Violet managed to right herself just in time, angling her knees forward and cranking up her density as high as possible before impact.

                She slammed into, and through, the last Sim, cleaving him into messy halves from the weight of her landing. Due to their positions, she could see his face for a few moments before his power went out. It was haunting, watching the last twitches as the crackling energy faded away. Realism was all well and good to a certain extent; she just wished they hadn’t programmed the Sims with death expressions. That felt like taking it a step too far. Still, the job was done, and Violet was cheery as she tapped her earpiece to make the report.

                “Will, our target has been taken out the hard way. What’s the status, did we pass?”

                “You got the last one? That’s good, but… strange. I thought there would be an announcement when we won, or lost. They’ve said nothing though, and our time…”

                Violet could see for herself, the seconds on the watch were piling up, and before her eyes they officially passed the ten-minute mark. She braced herself for an announcement, telling them there was some other threat that they’d missed. It would suck, but she felt like as a whole the class had put on a good showing. Even if it was a failure, it was a failure they could take some pride in. And yet, as the big moment came and went there was nothing, not so much as a peep from Dean Blaine either way. What was going on?

                “I don’t get it.” Will might have been talking to himself at this point, it was hard to tell. “We had a firm time limit, and we hunted every suspect I could find, why isn’t Dean Blaine interrupting this test with… oh for fuck’s sake. Interruption. The Sim needs ten uninterrupted minutes to set off Armageddon.”

                “What does that mean?” Violet asked. Amber and Alice were staring in from the outside of the room, the latter looking like she might be sick from the strain of keeping the huge gravity field in place.

                “It means that you killed your target, and Roy’s team killed their target, but Chad and Vince told me they neutralized their target. I’ll bet that means incapacitation, knowing those two. Vince or Chad, can you confirm?”

                “Chad… crippled him.” Vince sounded out of breath, like he was mid-fight even as he took the time to reply.

                “One moment.” It was strange, standing in the office, amidst the electronic corpses they’d created, waiting for Will to tell them what to do next. “Drone has confirmed that we’ve got a new target back on the east side, most likely our museum Sim once more. These Sims have been working together the whole time, I’ll bet they have some units that are the equivalent of healers. Alice’s team, I know you just had a fight but you’re our fastest option, can you get across the city in time?”

                “Me? Maybe,” Violet replied. “There’s no chance Alice is flying anyone though. She looks like she might puke in the potted plants. We thought this was our last push so she put everything she had into it.”

                “Vince and I are still pretty far east, we gave up moving toward Violet’s team in order to cut off a gang of reinforcement Sims. Unless anyone is closer, we may be the best option.” Chad sounded as calm as usual, though it wasn’t quite as comforting this time around. The pretend stakes were a little too high for just a voice to soothe anyone’s nerves.

                “Then break off Sim engagement right now and run that way. I’ll try to crunch the numbers and give us a new time estimate, but I’ll be guessing at best so you have to hurry. Violet, take to the sky and try to meet up with them. There’s still a chance to pull this off yet.”