Chapter 217

                The approach was the hardest part. Between the nearest building and the orphanage was a ten foot area without cover, and crossing it meant being completely exposed, if only momentarily. Given enough time and materials, Chad could have created some alternative methods of entry, however with the clock bearing down on them his only choice was to simply sprint across the open area as fast as possible. The chance came when Vince started yelling about burning the place down. Several of the Sims repositioned themselves, bracing for an attack from the front while letting their attention toward other directions wane. In their moments of distraction, Chad took his shot.

                His legs were a blur as he bolted along the concrete, moving as fast as he physically could without causing unwanted noise. In seconds he was across the gap, through a window and into the orphanage. He’d done a good job with the timing, but not a perfect one. A lone Sim had spotted him, more by chance than skill, so Chad didn’t slow down as he entered the room. Bounding across it, he struck the Sim in its neck before it could make so much as a peep. Two more blows and it was down for the count, although Chad’s focus on speed and stealth had lessened his capacity for delicate work. This Sim would definitely be counted among the dead. Chad had a hunch it wouldn’t be the last before their work was done.

                Artificial voices spat out yelps of simulated pain as Vince let off some massive attack. Peeking out into the hall, Chad saw the majority of Sims near the front of the building rubbing their eyes and stumbling about. A light-based attack then, and what a perfect choice it was. Distracted enemies would have been enough, with partially blinded ones Chad would encounter virtually no resistance whatsoever. He slipped along the floors, steps no more than a whisper, and listened closely to chart the locations of everyone inside the building. By far the majority of bodies were clustered together near the front of the orphanage, split fairly evenly between the top and bottom floors. There were two rooms further away filled with Sims, though. One on the ground, with what seemed to be most of the orphans, corralled to keep them out of the way until they were useful. The other was on the second floor, not as full but certainly not stocked with mechanical children. Four bodies in that room, with one standing and three pacing.

                A Sim, still rubbing its eyes but slowly recovering, turned around to look at the stairs. A moment earlier and it would have seen a flash of white as Chad vanished from view. Instead, it found only an empty staircase. With no concerns from the rear to defend against, the Sim followed the lead of the other units and turned its attention to the silver-haired Super who was holding fire in his hands again.

*             *             *

                Stealth had not been as integral a part of Camille’s training as others might have expected. True, since her ability worked best when she had the element of surprise it might have seemed like a natural fit. The problem was that no matter how good she was at sneaking around, sooner or later someone would spot her, and if all she had in her skillset was the element of surprise then she’d be sunk. That was why Camille had made stealth a secondary concern in favor of working on her melee skills. Knowing how to fight, dodge, and land a blow meant she was useful with or without getting the drop on her enemy. With all of that said though, she was finding herself extremely grateful for the time she had put into working on moving silently. It was paying huge dividends in this fight.

                Pressing two fingers to the neck of a Sim, she watched as it powered down seconds before getting off another blast on Thomas’s dome. Some ways off, on another rooftop, she saw Alex make a brief gesture with his hand a second before his nearest sniper Sim slumped over in a heap. It was going slower than she might have liked, but they were definitely making progress. One by one they were taking out the ranged threats. It felt good, like the class was carving out some progress. She just wished it was half as showy as what was going down on the ground.

                Between Shane and Roy, the Sims were taking a beating. There were more of them, tons more in fact, however that was actually working against them at the moment. Shane was out of reach, tucked behind his alley entrance and shredding any who dared venture close, while Roy was bounding and leaping around the battlefield too erratically for the Sims to take any sort of formation. Their own bodies blocked others from getting a line of sight on Roy as he smashed about, and the chaos made it hard for them to even tell where he was in a given moment. Then again, even if they did manage to get close to Roy it wasn’t like the hard part was done. His bat swept through the air freely, tearing through any Sim who dared get within reach. What was all the worse, at least for the Sims, was that Roy kept driving and leading bits of the mob toward the alley, where Shane’s shadows made quick work of them. Honestly, Camille genuinely wondered if those two could win this fight on their own, numbers be damned. If they had more time, she might have gotten to find out, but at the edge of the Sim group she could see more white uniforms appearing. Brittany, Selena, Adam, and Rich had finally made their way across the battlefield to help, and with four more Supers the fight was about to take a decidedly sharp turn against the Sims.

                For now, all that mattered was holding out and keeping Will safe enough to work. Camille made her way down the fire escape, choosing speed over silence this time, and started heading toward the nearest building with another sniper. It might not be as impressive to watch, but she had a job to do, one that people were counting on her to accomplish. Flashy or unseen didn’t matter though; the only way they were going to win was by everyone getting their tasks done.

                That was how teamwork was meant to function, and that was how they’d try to win this thing.

*             *             *

                Chad was nearing the door, hand outstretched, when Will’s voice caused him to stop in his tracks.

                “Chad, where are you?”

                “Second floor, approaching the back room with several Sims lying in wait.”

                “Shit, I was afraid of that. I think it’s a trap, Chad. They’re trying to bait you in. I just had a drone catch sight of two Sims sneak out a side door of the building. One was carrying the other in her arms, and the man being carried was throwing off some high-level energy. They’re trying to trick us again.”

                “How far and how fast are they moving?” Chad asked.

                “Quick, but not impossibly so. From where you are, I’m not sure you’ll be able to catch them.”

                “Then that only leaves Vince.”

                “You want him to try and chase those two with most of the Sims from the orphanage attacking him?”

                “If you have any other ideas for how to potentially save the world, I would love to hear them.” Chad waited, shifting his position back toward the stairs. He wouldn’t be as eye-catching or scary, but he could still try and draw some attention to help Vince escape.

                “Give him all the help you can,” Will said. “Something tells me this one is going to get messy.”