Crest skidded to a stop in front of an alley. All of the Crays had cleaned it out, but she came back. A small form in the corner gave a groan.
Crest bent down next to it.
"Crest?" came a croak.
"Sarah's alive. Find Carli. Save her." Crest stood and dropped a bag onto Darkness's body, hiding her.
A Cray stopped in the alley.
Crest was searching for something.
"Drop something?" he asked.
"I heard metal...might have been a nail." Crest ran back towards the Cray headquarters.
Lauren stumbled into the apartment, collapsing on the floor.
Ellen, who had been confined to the bed for weeks, looked up.
Julie hurried to her side, picking her up, and guiding her to the couch where Ellen lay.
"Yes...I think." Lauren coughed. "I saw Michelle."
"Michelle?" Ellen asked slowly.
Lauren nodded. "I think it was Michelle. She sounded like it."
"She talked to you?" Julie asked, wiping blood from Lauren's cuts.
Lauren nodded. "Then she ran off with a Cray."
"A Cray?" Ellen mumbled.
Ellen reached for her armor, but Julie threw a rag at her. "Not yet. You can barely run, much less fight."
Ellen sighed. "What did Michelle say to you?"
"Sarah's alive. Find Carli. Save her." Lauren repeated.
Ellen frowned. "I know. Sarah's been captured by the Crays. That's where she went."
Julie nodded. "And if you're supposed to find Carli, that means-"
"What does she mean by save her? She didn't say us, but HER." Lauren said.
"Well, that means-" Julie began.
"Michelle might not...want to be saved?"
"No, that means-"
"But why WOULDN'T she want to be saved?"
"IT MEANS THAT MICHELLE'S UNABLE TO BE RESCUED, AND THAT IF WE RESCUE SARAH WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO RESCUE MICHELLE EVENTUALLY!" Julie, being fed up with being interrupted, exclaimed.
Lauren and Ellen paused. "Maybe, just maybe."
Julie rolled her eyes.
"Look! I don't know if you haven't noticed, but the Crays have been getting away with a heck of a load of crimes, but Michelle, who is still able to roam, isn't stopping them. That means Michelle is with the Crays."
"How do you know?" Lauren said.
"think. You guys said that Michelle used to be a Cray leader, right?" Julie asked.
"Well, if she was a good leader, which I'm sure she was, knowing Michelle, they would want her back. What better time than when she supposedly died? We wouldn't know to look for her."
"And...knowing Carli...she would resort to blackmail."
"-Sarah!" Ellen jumped out of bed. "WE have to get her!"
"I'm find!" she said, ignoring the spinning room.
Julie stood. "Ellen-"
"Julie, duty calls."
"I know, but your service provider has declined your renewal, get back."
"Oh, burn." Lauren said.
"I'll go out as soon as I rest up."
"Julie! I want to go!"
"What are you, three?"
Ellen shrugged. "Maybe," she said innocently.
Julie handed Ellen a bowl of food. "Here. Eat."
Ellen poked at the mess inside the bowl. Julie wasn't a top notch chef. Sarah was.
"Deal with it." Julie said upon seeing her expression.
Ellen pinched her nose and swallowed.
Lauren eased back stiffly and fell asleep.
Michelle stared at her hands. They were covered in cuts and gravel, and they still bled.
She'd been knocked out of a car by the Crays.
Apparently, Garret didn't seem to enjoy her refusal.
Sarah used the sink to help her rinse her hands off.
"I wish I could go out. I might become claustrophobic." Sarah said as she took Michelle's wrists.
"I'd rather stay in here...the things I do." Michelle said.
The door burst open, and Carli entered, red-faced and angry.
"Michelle." She growled.
"Hang on, I have a splinter from when your men shoved me out of the van."
Carli shoved Sarah aside and pressed Michelle's head under the faucet. She stuffed the stopper into the sink as Michelle struggled to raise her head from under the stream of water.
Carli turned it on full blast, water pouring forth.
"What do you want?" Michelle demanded, struggling against Carli's grasp. The water was halfway to her face.
"I thought I had made it clear that you were not to contact your...Squad?" Carli said.
Michelle opened her mouth to speak, but Carli slammed her fist into her face.
"Ah! Shit." Michelle felt her nose as the water touched skin.
Carli wrenched Michelle's arm behind her.
"Carli! Stop!" Sarah said, rising.
Michelle blinked rapidly as the water reached her nose.
Carli laughed. "I told you what I would do if you contacted them, didn't I?"
Michelle nodded, her head beginning to dip beneath the surface.
"Hey! Wait! Let go of me!" Sarah struggled as twp Crays took her arms. "Michelle! Don't kill her!"
"That should be the least of your concerns." Carli said as Michelle struggled.
She took one last breath as her head went under.
Carli held her until her legs went limp.
She slammed Michelle's body against the wall and left the room.
Darkness tore through the Crays like a madman, knocking down all who came in her way. She had one objective, and one objective alone.
To save Sarah.
Darkness broke through the Crays to find Carli in the middle of the warehouse, Sarah on her knees in front of her.
Well. It seems you know about...us. I wonder how."
Lauren did a quick scan of the room. Michelle was nowhere to be found. Not good.
Lauren narrowed her eyes. "I figured you took her, sister.
Carli laughed. "True, true. Perhaps someone jogged your memory? Crest, perhaps?"
Lauren glanced at Sarah. "Release her."
The Crays closed in around Lauren, forming a circular wall, encasing the three girls between. "All right. We fight for it. A duel, like last time."
"Oh, HOW is Ellen? Did I drop her IQ?" Carli chuckled.
"She's alive, not like you care." Lauren growled.
"I don't. What will happen if I beat you in this...duel?"
"I don't know. Do you really think I have a chance?" Lauren asked.
"Good point." Carli dropped her knife. "Shall we, sister?"
Lauren lunged, latching onto Carli quickly.
Carli grabbed her and flung her to the ground, laughing. "You never learn."
"I do, actually," Lauren pressed a button.
"You-" Carli collapsed, shaking with the electricity.
Before the Crays could react, Lauren threw something at the ground, enveloping her in a cloud of smoke.
Something crashed down from the roof.
As the Crays scattered, Lauren had Sarah over her shoulders and was sprinting for the city.
Michelle was glad she had taken swimming and relaxation levels. They had saved her life.
She could hold her breath for some two minutes before needing to take a breath.
Those two minutes saved her.
Michelle's body wasn't found in the cell, she had disappeared.
The girls in the apartment mysteriously discovered Crest's armor replaced in the closet. A set of clothes, a hat, and a backpack were missing, however.
Lauren stared at Michelle's suitcase.
"She's alive, I know it. But why didn't she come back?" Lauren told Julie.
"Well...Unless we meet her again, we'll never know."