Bitter 475

“Only us three left,” said Owen. “Do you think she getting rid of James was part of her plan, too?”

“Maybe,” said Britta. She had assumed Gabba had killed James for the benefit of the group. He was obviously going to be a pain and not someone you could rely on, especially after loot became an issue, so her taking steps to remove him seemed like an admirably proactive thing to do.

Of course, it always seems like a person is reliable and trustworthy when they side with you. It was a neat way to win people over, which comes in handy when you’re a sneaky so and so.

“Which way do we go now?” said MrKappa. There were five tunnels to choose from, not including the one they’d come from. Four, if you also didn’t include the one Gabba had gone into.

Britta opened her map. It showed the tunnels they’d been through so far, and markers representing her and the other two. There was a lot of empty space around them. The shade would have been the ideal person to have on her team right now.

“No sign of Gabba on the map,” said Owen, who had his map open, too.

“She must have turned her signal off,” said MrKappa, looking at his own map. “She can see us, though.”

“Should we turn ours off, too?” said Owen.

“Then we won’t be able to see each other if we get split up,” said MrKappa, “or captured.”

The three of them stood in a little triangle, pondering their options.

“She could have poisoned us, like she did James,” said Owen.

“True,” said MrKappa. “I guess we were lucky.”

Britta wasn’t sure it had anything to do with luck. Gabba hadn’t seemed the sort to kill or even bully others. She had her own agenda, clearly, and went about it in a rather underhand manner, but that was to be expected when people were dealing with matters they wished to keep secret. Britta had plenty of experience of that.

It felt more like Gabba had managed the situation as best she could, and when it became impossible to continue like that, she left. There was nothing really wrong about it. There was no rule that said you had to help other people. If she didn’t want to share her quest with them, she didn’t have to. And if she wanted to lie about what she was really after, that was her right also.

On the other hand, if she had been leading them to their deaths, as Owen had claimed in panicked fashion, that would be taking it a little far.

“So many tunnels,” said MrKappa, shaking his head. “We could spend the rest of our lives down here and never bump into the other party.”

“That would be… very boring,” said Owen. “We need a better plan.”

Both OwnedbyOwen and MrKappa turned to look down at Britta.

She hadn’t minded them wittering on, more or less ignoring her. The thought that she was the one in charge and had to make the decisions was one she had been doing her best to ignore. It wasn’t really fun to have responsibility when things weren’t going so great.

“We could split up,” she said. Judging by the looks she got from the other two, they didn’t think it was a very good idea. “We’d cover more ground that way.”

“Be easier to pick off, too,” said MrKappa.

“We do still have the totem Gabba set up,” said Owen. “We could use that as our meeting point if things go badly.”

The totem was marked on the map and was also still on their list of available spawning points. Gabba was also still a member of the party. Since Britta was the leader, she could kick her, but it also meant she could talk to her on group chat. Not that she had anything to say to her at the moment.

“We’ll stick together for now,” said Britta. The other two were visibly relieved by her decision, which wasn’t necessarily how you should lead, but it made things a bit easier to handle. “Let’s try this tunnel.”

They headed into the tunnel on the far right, opposite to the side Gabba had gone.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t,” said Owen in a rather sour voice.

Britta was a bit confused until she saw the message written on the wall.

Don’t forget our bet.

“I think the game’s trolling you,” said MrKappa.

“I know,” said Owen. “It’d be funny, if it didn’t involve my brutal murder.”

They walked through a bunch more tunnels, meeting no one and finding no further clues. It had been reassuring having arrows point the way, even if they were fake. Britta tried to resummon the shade, but with no success. She was starting to think about abandoning the mission and just going home. It had turned into quite a dull adventure, and she couldn’t see the point of aimlessly wandering around. Britta was all for a quiet life but this was ridiculous.

Just as she was about to suggest they call it a day, there was a Ping! and a voice said, “You have entered the Korlath Raid Zone. Prepare for battle royale.”

The three of them looked at each other with shock. They were in a small tunnel, with nothing ahead or behind them. Who were they supposed to be battling?

“Battle royale?” said MrKappa. “What? Who?”

A screen appeared in front of Britta. It showed a map of the tunnels, a much more detailed one, and small dots in various positions. A list of names ran down the side, hers and her companions appeared at the bottom. One of those names was Guildford Underpass.

She’d found Dad, it seemed. Now, apparently, she was going to have to fight him.

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