The drone of the count down could be monitored everywhere in the locker room, littered with large digital screens above the door, shower, and even in the toilet area. Both sets of girls and boys locker rooms for the simulator were identical.
Jacqueline stood under the shower silently preparing for the upcoming battle. The rest of the team had always thought it strange to take a shower before the matches, but she found it relaxing, not to mention it was the only time before one of their matches that she could be alone. She didn’t mind the team, but she never knew what to say around people, especially in this country. She missed France.
The sound of the shower cut off as Kerra and Haley stood almost back to back at their lockers putting their gear on. The conversation hadn’t changed much in the last few days since they accepted the challenge from the team transfer students. Haley wrapped the bandages as tight as she could around her chest “I still don’t know see why they were allowed to start at such a high rank, I don’t care who they were at their old Academy.” She tightened the bandages, the discomfort only lasting a few seconds. “It’s not right that they get to start in third place.” She threw her sleeveless grey shirt on and turned to look at Kerra, “Are you even listening?” She turned to see what had taken Kerra’s attention from her and sighed “Go talk to her, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.” Kerra turned, eyes wide and blushing, whispering loudly “Shut up!” She turned back to see Jacqueline, seven lockers down, was mostly dressed. Her black and white long sleeve shirt damp from her ponytail, Kerra had a hard time not staring.
The other kids at the Academy were very tolerant of such things, but Haley was the only one she trusted with her secret. She wasn’t often this obvious about it. It was probably the stress of this fight against a team they knew nothing about, the distraction was nice. Kerra and Haley arrived at the Academy on the same night, and to say they formed a fast friendship would be an understatement.
The two of them, both seven years old, sat opposite each other in the waiting room outside the office that night waiting to be checked in. Haley was sobbing in restraints, having just been rushed in from Chicago. Kerra sat across from her, legs swinging, just watching her. A minute later, Kerra walked over to Haley and hugged her, not saying a word. When the Dr. came out to check on them both girls were giggling and talking like normal kids. From then on the two were always together.
Jacqueline made her way out to the briefing room shortly after she finished dressing, leaving Kerra and Haley to their conversation.
Seth sat at the end of the large table in the briefing room while Brandon and Jacqueline helped each other stretch off to the left. Haley and Kerra, finally finished gabbing with each other, came out of the locker room. Kerra’s eyes immediately found Jacqueline and Brandon, seeing them together always made her wince.
Haley piped up to quiet the little storm brewing in her friends mind “So we know what layout we’re getting today?”
Seth wave his arms over the empty holographic map table “What’s it look like, genius?” He usually spouted stuff out like this to Haley, something most people were too afraid to do. Everyone swore she was going to go berserk on him one day. Kerra told her it was just him crushing on her, and Haley knew he didn’t mean any of it. Haley let it go knowing it was just him being angsty as usual, they were all a bit on edge for the same reason.
They all sat there quietly, lost in thought, just waiting for the Simulator computer to give them the layout they’d be battling on. It never did so at a set time. It could be twenty minutes before the battle or three minutes, and with the team not knowing anything about who they were up against, the sooner the better.
The table map flashed on with a three dimensional map of the field they’d be presented with when the clock hit zero.
Jacqueline spoke first. “I know this layout, I’ve practiced on it very many times.” She was rarely interrupted by anyone on the team, they all loved hearing her French accent.
Everyone looked to Haley, the usual leader of the team. She didn’t mind the role, but she was never sure how she earned it. “Well, Jacqueline, you know the layout that well and you know what each of us can do.” Haley took a turn looking at everyone, and then back to Jacqueline. She took a coin out of her pocket and tossed to Jacqueline “You up for it?” It was the first time Jacqueline had been chosen to lead a match, practice or real.
Jacqueline nodded, placing the coin on the table in front of herself. “Seeing as we do not know nothing about this other team, I have a couple of plans in mind.”
The five of them stood at the door, their assignments buzzing through their heads.
The buzzer sounded with each tick of the clock, signaling the start was near.
Thoughts racing with excitement and fear, they stared the door down ready to dash out.
They readied themselves.
They knew they couldn’t lose
The door rushed upwards as the loud bell sounded the beginning of the match.
Jacqueline rushed out into the false bright sunlight first, and began climbing the nearest building setting her on the course to try and get some reconnaissance done before the other team got too close.
Seth spotted the pile of rubble Jacqueline pointed out in the planning and built a doll the size of himself. He then ran down an the alleyway, sending the doll in the opposite direction. Controlling it with his mind, he’d be able to see anyone coming from either direction.
Kerra took a left down the third alley that lead to a straight shot clear across the broken city. If she could get close enough to one of the opponents she could get a feel for at least one of them with her mimic abilities. She was to mimic them and retreat back to Haley as quickly as possible.
Haley stood back near Brandon and waited for Kerra. If the plan worked, Kerra would bring at least one person trailing her for them to jump. If all went well Brandon could telepathically transfer the opponents power at any time to Jacqueline after they knocked him out.
The Dean announced the match over, declaring the victors as a team of nurses checked to make sure Haley, Kerra, Brandon, Jacqueline, and Seth were okay, then placed them on stretchers and carried them to the medical wing.
The crowd stood there in silence not sure what had just transpired, but all were glad they wouldn’t have to go against this new team.
Nurse Forte turned to the Dean “That was unexpected, sir.” She stared at him as he sat there at his desk. His hands propped in front of him as he viewed the Simulation field through his office window, thinking before he spoke “Dean Mendrick did say they would win.”
The Dean looked over to Nurse Forte “How’s Uroko coming along?” The nurse looked out the window allowing time for her copy to ascertain Uroko’s current condition. A few seconds later she looked back at the Dean and replied “Dr. Sahlyana just informed me that she hasn’t made any progress, he seems to be resisting her. As for his vitals go, they have not changed at all.” The Dean nodded and stood up “Please inform his team mates and the Dr. that I’d like to see them in my office.” Nurse Forte nodded and then reviewed the files of the transfer students again, her other selves would pass the Dean’s request along.