3rd Year, Part 7

Roudan slumped in the black leather swivel chair and rubbed his temples with both hands.

“Did that really just happen?”

“Hell yeah, it did,” Yoshida cackled. “That can’t be unseen or unheard, ever.”

Roudan smirked.

“It was kinda of hot though, right?”

Yoshida nodded in agreement, then turned his attention to the monitors’ screens. He moved the coordinates of the camera angles to zoom in on the corridor that Savoi led the team down. It was sectioned off by large steel walls, so they could not see members from the Bravo, Charlie, and Delta squads also in the area. Each group traveled through the maze until they came upon a door that merged them all into the same room. The room was roughly 4000 square feet, with only one entrance and exit on the other side.

Without warning, an unknown liquid sprayed rapidly from sprinklers on the ceiling. The cadets were drenched with a sticky solution. Mist from the spray was so thick no one could see in anything even directly in front of them. Although everyone was in full battle gear, the liquid ricocheted off their Kevlar helmets and seared some of their faces. It felt as if hell-fire rained upon them. Blood-curdling screams echoed through the room and bounced off the walls. Panic ensued, as everyone struggled to pull their protective headgear from their rucksacks.

Savoi was the first to don her MOPP suit correctly. She frantically scanned the room in search of where the control board for the sprinklers would be. The academy issued infrared goggles, which had thermal imaging technology. Through the steam and fog, on the opposite side of the room, she could see a metal box with a circuit breaker inside. She aimed a laser pistol in that direction, as she was clear across the room near the entrance.

A cluster of terrified cadets pummeled into her, which caused her to miss the target. By then, Shevchenko and Farouk were in full gear, prepared to block interferences. Savoi shut her eyes and counted to ten. She calmed her breathing, opened her eyes, braced herself, and took another shot. This time, she blasted the metal box open. The sprinklers system was disabled. Instantly, the room erupted with cheers.

Yoshida and Roudan were in awe of Savoi’s calm demeanor during so much chaos.

“I can’t believe she made the shot!” Roudan shouted.

“The epitome of grace under fire,” Yoshida beamed energetically.

Moments later, the lights in the room flickered out. Another wave of pandemonium arose in the darkness. Savoi seized both her teammates by the arms and slung them forward. They mad dashed towards the exit with their flashlights. The remaining cadets brawled amongst each other without noticing the Alpha squad had escaped. Shevchenko took a large rubbish bin and blocked the door path behind them.

The trio sprinted towards a door which led to a tiny room. The room was barely large enough to fit the three of them inside.

“This must be one of the main control panels,” Farouk said, as he shined his flashlight across the circuit board.

After a few fumbles, he turned on the building lights. When they came out of the room, they noticed a metal pulley hanging from the ceiling. Two ropes were attached to the pulley, but appeared to lead nowhere. Behind the pulley was a vented shaft door mounted on the wall. When they carefully opened the door, there was another rope hanging inside. Farouk scanned his flashlight to see a red flag hanging 100 meters upward.

“I see our flag, but how do we get to it?” he asked.

Savoi looked at the pulley and ropes just outside the shaft door, then back at Farouk.

“One of us is going to have to tie themselves to the rope inside the shaft, while two of us pull him up to it,” she replied.

The trio gawked at each other until they heard voices coming from down the hall.

Shevchenko broke their silence.

“There isn’t much time, and this is a no-brainer. I nominate Maaz,” she blurted.

“What? Why me?” he gasped.

Shevchenko patted his shoulder.

“You’re the lightest weight among the three of us,” she said, then winked at Savoi. “No offense, Thomasa.”

“None taken,” Savoi sighed.

Farouk wanted to protest, but did not want to take time away from the team’s effort to capture the first flag. He perched himself on the ledge of the shaft doorway and allowed the girls to harness the rope around his waist. Then he waited for them to grip one rope attached to the pulley before he plunged down the shaft. The walls were made of steel, which made it difficult to climb. Since Farouk’s MOPP suit had not absorbed the wetness from the sticky liquid sprayed earlier, he could not plant his feet and slipped off the walls.

“I can’t stop slipping,” he cried. “Perhaps a little coaching or a pep talk might help!”

“Move your ass, Maaz!” Shevchenko shouted.

“What kind of pep talk is that?” he asked, as he was slightly frustrated and hurt at the same time.

Savoi released her portion of the rope, which caused Shevchenko to lose a bit of her grip.

Both Shevchenko and Farouk screeched.

“What the hell, Thomasa?”

Savoi took a step backward to rummage through her rucksack.

“It was a lube,” she whispered, as she rubbed the stickiness of her sleeve.

Shevchenko and Farouk looked at each other in panic.

Savoi continued to talk in a low whisper to herself.

“This viscous solution is a combination of parabens, petroleum, and phenomia acid.” She looked up at her confused team mates and spoke in a normal voice. “They sprayed us with that solution so that we couldn’t easily climb up the shaft to retrieve the flag.”

Savoi grabbed her end of the rope and signaled for Shevchenko to pull Farouk back up. She took a bar of charcoal out of her rucksack and rubbed it all over and Farouk. His eyes revealed a certain level of concern, so she calmly explained what she was doing.

“This charcoal has a chemical agent that can decrease the effects of the lubricant.” She looked at Shevchenko, was crossed for not receiving the same treatment for the lube. “I only have enough for the two of us. Maaz is light enough to pull up, but he will need more support from me.”

Shevchenko helped adjust the rope harnessed around Farouk so that Savoi was also squeezed inside. The pair lunged backwards inside the shaft, then braced their backs against each other and scaled the walls in unison.

~The Waring Robins~

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