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Red Threads

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The revolution was coming to a close. The rebels had managed to gain footing near the Capitol, and the final push was impending. Stacie had been completing her drills amongst the soldiers for some time. Cynthia Rose and her were deemed battle buddies and were participants in a variety of drills in preparation for the storming of the Capitol. 

 

Beca and Chloe were supposed to be taking their final test that day, so Cynthia Rose had asked Stacie to help decorate for the private victor’s celebration when their friend’s passed. Stacie had seen Aubrey and Jesse training as well for the cameras, but she doubted that they were going to join the regular soldier ranks, anytime soon. Stacie would be lying if she wasn’t relieved at the thought that Aubrey was staying back in District 13. Not because she was worried the girl would kill her, but because the blonde could put herself in danger should one of her relapses occur. 

 

“Hey, Stacie, you’re the tallest here, put this up?” Jessica requested, handing Stacie a makeshift banner. 

 

“How did you convince Coin to allow the use of these materials, isn’t it superfluous use of resources?” Stacie quipped. 

 

“I may have found them in a storage room, and I may have just taken them;” Fat Amy grinned. “What Coin doesn’t know, won’t kill her.” 

 

“How many people are coming?” Emily inquired, she was busying herself with napkins and stolen silverware. 

 

“I don’t know, but I convinced Jesse to help us make some cupcakes!” I said they were for Jessica and Ashley though,” Fat Amy replied. 

 

“Aubrey wanted to make cupcakes,” Stacie muttered under her breath. 

 

“What?” Cynthia Rose asked, not quite hearing the other girl. 

 

“Nothing,” Stacie sighed. 

 

 

The party turned out to be a bit of a bust, Chloe didn’t pass her test since they flooded the entire room with water and mimicked the sound of a thunderstorm. Considering the torture the girl had endured at the hands of the Capitol, that was a particularly cruel move. Something that Beca made a point to raise to Coin, via shouting. When the brunette did arrive in her private room, the other victors were standing around wearing dusty and marred party hats. Cupcakes were on the only table in the room, and everyone was crunched together in the tight space. 

 

Beca didn’t stay long, instead opting to visit Chloe in the med bay. Which left Stacie, Cynthia Rose, Fat Amy, Lily, Donald, Jessica, Ashley, and Emily to finish off the cupcakes themselves. With one cupcake left, Stacie grabbed the last one and bid her friends goodbye before rushing off herself. 

 

Taking the familiar path down, Stacie wound up in front of Aubrey’s room. The blonde was still languishing under surveillance, but the room definitely looked more lived in. A journal laid open on a bedside table, and clothes stocked the closet. A box of pens was on the dinner tray, along with a finished meal. Aubrey sat in her bed, reading a book. The other woman wore the traditional drab wardrobe of District 13, but she looked just as beautiful to Stacie as she did when she wore that evening gown the first day they met. 

 

Stacie pressed the intercom button and cleared her throat. “Hey, I have something for you;” Stacie waited with bated breath as the blonde’s eyes widened for a moment, lithe fingers twitched and tightened around the book. A deep breath, the closing of green eyes. “You shouldn’t be here, I know the doctors are out at dinner.” 

 

“Maybe I don’t want to stay away from you,” Stacie replied. 

 

“You should,” Aubrey cautioned.

 

“What if I brought you a cupcake?” Stacie said, holding up the cupcake as though Aubrey could see it through the one-way glass. 

 

“You’re holding up a cupcake right now, aren’t you?” Aubrey chuckled. 

 

“Maybe, tell me I can come in and you’ll find out.” 

 

“Alright, fine, give me a moment.” Aubrey flitted around the room as Stacie watched. The blonde began to wrap one of her hands in a bundle of clothing, using a roll of tape to tighten the bundle. Stacie suppressed a smile as she watched Aubrey work, endlessly amused by Aubrey’s efforts. When the blonde was finished, she had one hand wrapped in bundles of cloth while the other was firmly under her bottom. “You can come in now!” 

 

Stacie pressed the button to unlock the door and strode in, a barely contained smile on her face. She hadn’t seen Aubrey face to face in weeks, the blonde had repeatedly refused to see her. “Come bearing offerings,” Stacie teased, holding the cupcake up. Aubrey smiled at her, eyes crinkling at the corners at Stacie’s approach. 

 

“I guess the party didn’t go as planned?” Aubrey commented. 

 

“No, they flooded Chloe’s test. She went into a panic attack, she’s in the med bay right now;” Stacie informed the blonde. She took the spot at the foot of Aubrey’s bed, cupcake still clutched in her hand. “How did you know about the party?” 

“I helped Jesse make the cupcakes, it was deemed therapeutic.”

 

Stacie felt a spark of jealousy at the idea of Aubrey making cupcakes with Jesse, Stacie got such little time with Aubrey nowadays. “Was it?”

 

“Was it what?” Aubrey asked, blankly.

 

“Therapeutic?” Stacie hedged. 

 

“Oh, yeah, I guess it was. I had a good time, and Jesse knows how to bake.” 

 

“Well, he is a baker;” Stacie snorted. 

 

“What’s that face?” Aubrey inquired, Stacie dropped her eyes to the covers subconsciously. “Are you jealous of Jesse?” 

 

“Maybe, he gets to spend so much time with you and -” 

 

“Stacie, I’m not safe for you.”

 

“I can handle myself, you haven’t killed me yet.” 

 

“Yet, being the optimal word, Stacie. We can’t keep playing with your life, you can’t keep playing with your life.” 

 

“I miss you,” Stacie murmured. Aubrey brought a bundled hand to Stacie’s cheek instinctually, so it almost felt as though a pillow was being held to her cheek. 

 

“I know, and I miss you too, but you shouldn’t be here. You should go, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” 

 

“Aubrey-”

 

“Stacie, what are you doing in there!” Beca shouted over the intercom. Stacie sighed and stood up, placing the cupcake on Aubrey’s bedside table. “I’ll come back some other time,” Stacie muttered. 

 

“Like hell, you will!” Beca protested from the doorway. Aubrey allowed her bound hand to drop to the bed, a sad smile on her lips. “You should go.” Stacie nodded and walked towards the door dejectedly. “Wait, Stacie!” Aubrey called. The brunette spun around excitedly, hoping the blonde would tell her to stay. 

 

“I-” Aubrey hesitated for a moment, “Um, thanks for the cupcake.”

 

Stacie nodded affirmation and traipsed out the door. 

 

 

Jessica and Ashley’s wedding came two weeks later. Stacie wasn’t allowed in Aubrey’s room at any point between, but Stacie knew Aubrey would be at the wedding. Jesse had progressed in his treatment to the point that he didn’t need to be handcuffed to guards, although he was constantly shadowed by them. 

 

The wedding was the biggest affair that District 13 had held, those selected to attend showed up in their best clothes, which meant the uniforms that were the least torn or stained. Aubrey and Chloe attended to Jessica while Stacie and Beca attended to Ashley. They raided their old homes in their various districts for proper gowns, all the time chatting amicably. 

 

Jessica wasn’t heading into battle with everyone, instead, Jessica and Ashley were looking to start a family. Their first fertility appointment was supposed to be the week after the invasion. Stacie couldn’t help but feel happy for the pair as they made their rounds amongst the wedding guests. Jessica wore the dress that Aubrey had worn the night they had met. Aubrey wore another gown, one that was unfamiliar to Stacie. She still looked stunning. 

 

“Excuse me, but I think it’s unfair how beautiful you look;” Stacie flirted. 

 

Aubrey turned towards Stacie with a smile, “You look good too.”

 

Stacie was wearing the same dress she had worn when they first met, it seemed the safest bet since the night of their meeting hadn’t been tampered with. “Gorgeous as always,” Aubrey said, her hand moved closer to Stacie, causing the security guard shadowing the blonde to stiffen. “It’s alright, I’m aware of what I’m doing,” Aubrey assured the man. Stacie watched as Aubrey traced the cut of the dress with the tips of her fingers, rising the dangerously low v that stretched from Stacie’s shoulders to her navel, upwards to cup the back of Stacie’s neck. Stacie let out a breath that she didn’t know she was holding as the touch settled delicately, thumb brushing her jawline. “I missed you,” Aubrey admitted. 

 

“I missed you too,” Stacie said, her voice low. “May I have this dance?”

 

Aubrey turned to talk to her security guard who acquiesced. Stacie took Aubrey’s hand and led the blonde to the dance floor where Jessica and Ashley were happily dancing together. Turning, Stacie took Aubrey’s hand and settled her other on the blonde’s waist. Dismissing a warning glance from Beca, Stacie began to shift slowly to the music with Aubrey in her arms. 

 

“You’re smiling,” Aubrey commented as they spun around slowly. 

 

“I like being with you, it’s been two weeks. I missed you;” Stacie explained. Stacie raised her arm so Aubrey could twirl beneath, pulling the blonde back sharply so that they were chest to chest. “I’ll be here no matter what, waiting for that someday or some life.” 

 

“You got a lot more romantic while I was away,” Aubrey remarked, her lips were pressed together as though suppressing her own smile. “I love you, Stacie. I want you to know that.” 

 

“I love you too,” Stacie returned, her cheeks were burning with the sensation of smiling as widely as she was, but she didn’t want to stop. “Is there a reason you’re breaking your own rules?” 

 

Aubrey paused for a moment before letting out a sigh. “I know you’re going into the thick of things tomorrow. If anything happened to you I don’t know what I’d do. I just want you to know how much I love you. This moment, this moment will mean everything to me while you’re gone. They can’t do anything to this memory. I want to savor this, at least for now.” 

 

“I’m coming back, you know;” Stacie said. 

 

“Knowing our luck,” Aubrey chuckled sardonically. 

 

“Hey, I’m coming back. No matter what, I’ll come back to you.” Stacie took Aubrey’s head between her hands and leaned her forehead in. Bracing herself for an adverse reaction. She felt Aubrey’s hands twitch at her hips, tightening around her dress. Stacie brushed her thumbs over Aubreys cheekbones, wiping away the prick of tears on blonde eyelashes. “Look at me, breath, I’m here, I’m real, and I love you. I’ll always love you, and I’ll always come back to you. That’s our thing, okay?” 

 

Aubrey nodded, eyes shut as her hands began to shake slightly. Holding back something she didn’t fully grasp herself. “I’ll be okay, I just need to get the bastard that did this to you. I’ll get the job and then I can come home. You’ll get better, and we can have a wedding just like this.” 

 

“Stacie,” Aubrey began to protest. 

 

“Do you want a future with me?” Stacie asked. 

 

“Yes, but-” 

 

“Then that’s it, that’s all that matters. That’s all I want to think about. The Capitol isn’t in our way anymore, after we storm it there will be nothing left to stand in our way. Nothing but ourselves. I won’t fight us anymore, Aubrey. Please, stop fighting, if you want me you have me, oka-” 

 

Stacie’s gasp of surprise was quickly muffled by the press of Aubrey’s lips to hers. Once the kiss began, Aubrey yanked her hands away, tightening them at Stacie’s hips to almost painful pressure. Stacie cupped Aubrey’s jaw and wrapped her other arm around Aubrey’s middle. Smiling into the kiss, the pair reveled at the moment. “I missed doing that,” Aubrey mumbled into Stacie’s mouth. “Me too,” Stacie replied, she pulled Aubrey back into another kiss, allowing her tongue to swipe along Aubrey’s bottom lip. The two continued to kiss for some time, oblivious to the various onlookers. Aubrey’s security guard had sidled up to the buffet table to give the couple some privacy, although it didn’t appear that either woman cared who saw them. Beca sat by Chloe, on a break from dancing, Stacie didn’t see it, but the District 12 victor was smiling and shaking her head while whispering comments into a grinning Chloe’s ear. The cameras were flitting from one couple to another, every once in a while coming back to the still embracing Aubrey and Stacie. 

 

When the pair finally parted, Beca pulled Stacie aside. 

 

“You gave Snow an eyeful tonight, they kept flickering back to you for the live broadcast.”

 

“Don’t tell me you don’t approve,” Stacie said suspiciously.

 

“No, I do, I just wanted to say that I was wrong. Aubrey isn’t a monster and I shouldn’t have treated her like she was. I guess I just hate what they did to Jesse, and I took it out on her. I don’t love him, but he became one of my best friends. Maybe if I was as patient with him as you’ve been with Aubrey, things would be different. Maybe I could have a conversation with him, or thank him for the cupcakes. I guess I just miss him.” 

 

“Have you told him that?” Stacie exclaimed, throwing Beca’s words back at her. 

 

Beca chuckled, “No, I haven’t. I guess I should, huh?” 

 

“Yeah, I think it worked out pretty well for me,” Stacie turned to catch a glimpse of Aubrey talking animatedly to Chloe. Her hands weren’t balled into fists and she seemed at ease for the first time in a while. “You love Chloe, but you love Jesse too, in a different way sure but it’s still love. Tell him before you leave, maybe it’ll mean something.” 

 

“Yeah,” Beca hummed, pondering the taller brunette’s words. “Maybe I will.” 

 

….

 

Stacie was awoken five hours into the day, fully outfitted with her gun and various gadgets that Lily had made. Stacie had something of a gift for chemical reactions, so most of her gear had pockets for Stacie to place self-made grenades in. Donald wheeled himself in with Lily on his lap to say goodbye, a smile on the couple’s lips. “When you come back, I expect you to be my best man,” Donald chuckled. Stacie stooped down to hug him along with Lily before turning to board the jet that was supposed to fly her into the warzone. 

 

“Stacie, wait!” Aubrey’s voice broke through the all-encompassing sound of the jet’s engine. Stacie whipped about, her eyes meeting the rushing blonde. Another moment in time appeared in her mind, instead of a jet it was a train, and the sun was peeking over the far off hilltops. Stacie dropped her bag and opened her arms in time for Aubrey to jump into them. The blonde’s hands curled into fists and around her belt loops as Stacie was pulled ever closer. Their lips met in a passionate kiss as the pair soaked in the moment. Stacie moved her hands to trace along Aubrey’s jaw, thumbing her chin for a moment to rest her forehead against the blonde, whose eyes were tightly shut. 

 

“Look at me,” Stacie prodded. 

 

Aubrey swallowed thickly and looked at Stacie, somewhat reluctantly. Stacie felt it when hands tightened around her belt loops in a violent spasm. The idea of walking away from the blonde now felt almost painful. They had just gotten back to each other, and now she was off to fight a war. Part of her wanted Aubrey by her side, the other wanted to stay in District 13 with the blonde. Guarantee a future where they would grow old together, but the idea of not seeing Snow into his grave personally would be one of her deepest regrets. 

 

“Come back to me, please;” the blonde’s words were mumbled against Stacie’s mouth. 

 

“Always,” Stacie said. 

 

The pair allowed themselves one last kiss before Cynthia Rose called Stacie’s name, demanding the girl “get her ass on the plane or else.” Stacie let out a laugh and pecked Aubrey on the lips once more before grabbing her bag and hightailing it onto the jet. She watched Aubrey wave goodbye until the doors shut, smiling the entire time. 

 

 

Upon their arrival, Stacie was herded into a tent where their status as a squad was explained. Apparently, they were to be the star squad. They would be sent down unoccupied alleys with the intent of shooting jars, windows, or non-threatening and unactivated pods. The pods were an extremely intimidating factor that seemed to make Beca’s eyes grow wide with surprise and something else Stacie couldn’t put her finger on. 

 

“This is a holo,” Lieutenant Boggs exclaimed, showing the group a machine that emitted a detailed holographic map of the city. “The Capitol Gamemakers decided to make a series of nasty traps we call pods, when activated anything can happen. They can release tracker jackers, spikes, make the ground drop out from underneath you. They all trigger something that has one goal and one goal only, to kill you.” 

 

“Welcome to the seventy-sixth Hunger Games,” Stacie muttered under her breath.

 

“Yeah, Boggs, why’d you have us go through all that training when you had your most experienced soldiers here;” Cynthia Rose chuckled. Benji nudged her with an elbow, smile wide. 

 

“We have four victors here, Stacie, Cynthia Rose, Benji, and Beca; you are all the faces of the rebellion. They want shots of you fighting with us to bolster the troops. We’ll be focusing most of our attention on areas that have been fairly cleared already. Hopefully, we’ll get back to District 13 in a week with the war won, so we can all get back to our families. 

 

 

Their days from that point forward went pretty easy. Despite Beca’s reticence to participate, the star squad took turns shooting whatever they were told, never seeing a single peacekeeper. The most excitement occurred when one of the pods was mismarked, and one of the soldiers that came with Boggs, one of the twins, was hit by a metal dart. She dies before the medics can reach her. When Gail is phoned in for the next moves, they’re assured that a replacement will be on their way. 

 

The next day, when Stacie wakes up to quite the ruckus. Cynthia Rose is bellowing at someone full force while Boggs’s voice seems to yell at her. For a moment Stacie thinks the two are arguing but then the context catches up, and it sounds like they’re agreeing. Rising, Stacie makes her way to the center of the crowd to find Aubrey and Jesse standing there awkwardly. Aubrey is standing there with her hands balled into fists at the edge of her shirt, while Jesse fidgets with the cuffs around his wrists.  

 

Stacie had never seen Boggs angry before, she hadn’t interacted with the man as much as Beca had, but even the smaller brunette was shocked. 

 

“Stacie,” Aubrey exclaimed upon seeing the brunette. Stacie strode over to the blonde, arms draping over the blonde’s shoulders. “I thought you weren’t coming,” Stacie said. 

 

“It’s a long story,” Aubrey replied sheepishly. 

 

“Conrad, Mitchell, with me!” Boggs ordered. Stacie gave Aubrey a reassuring squeeze, paired with a promise to catch up later before trailing after the Lieutenant. 

 

 

The conversation with Boggs could be surmised in one way and one way only. Coin had decided that Beca is of no use to her alive anymore. Deemed a danger, Beca was to die for the rebellion, becoming the martyr that spurs everyone to better action. However, the same was not said for the case of Aubrey’s appearance. In fact, Stacie’s interactions with Coin had been relatively brief, if not minimal. Stacie had been the perfect helper, assisting in ideas for traps and medicine for the troops. Boggs seemed just as confused by Aubrey’s presence as Stacie was. 

 

“They won’t be allowed guns, if they do have to hold a gun for a shot it won’t be loaded. We’ll give them blanks. All I know is that you two will be living long lives, whether Coin likes it or not.” 

 

Stacie and Beca walked back to the group where Jesse was being watched sharply by Cynthia Rose and Benji. “I’m not going to do anything Benji,” Jesse groaned. 

 

“We don’t know that,” Cynthia Rose responded. Her gun’s safety was off, and her finger was close to the trigger. Stacie frowned and approached Aubrey. The blonde smiled pleasantly at her from her place on the floor, Stacie sat beside her and draped an arm over Aubrey’s shoulders. Warmth rushed through her body when she felt Aubrey scoot closer. Hands firmly balled at the ground. Stacie took Aubrey’s right hand with her own and smoothed the fingers out. “It’s okay, I trust you;” Stacie hummed. Aubrey’s fingers relaxed and entwined with Stacie’s as both girls sunk into the embrace fully. 

 

“Why are they here?” Benji asked. 

 

“Isn’t it obvious?” Cynthia Rose scoffed. 

 

“What, it’s not like they want Beca dead, she’s the Mockingjay;” Benji groused. 

 

“Yeah, and she did her job well, she bound the districts together and fanned the flames of the galvanized troops;” Aubrey chuckled, her eyes met Stacie’s as she said it, pulling away slightly. “What’s one thing more she can do for the rebellion?”

 

“Die,” Beca said bitterly. 

 

 

Stacie managed to talk the others into allowing Aubrey to share a tent with her. The one catch was that there had to be someone on watch at all times to check up on the two. Jesse was simply put in another tent away from Beca, where he was expected to stay. Stacie was quite satisfied with this arrangement. She let Aubrey be the little spoon and slipped her arm under the crook of the blonde’s neck while she brought her other hand up to wrap around Aubrey’s waist. She rested her chin on the crown of the other victor’s head, a self-satisfied smile stretched across Stacie’s face as she felt Aubrey’s hand slip into the one around her waist.  

 

“Why are you here?” Stacie murmured, glad to have a moment of privacy with the other woman. 

 

“I was told to come here by Coin personally, I didn’t like it but it was her direct order so I couldn’t say no without being thrown into a cell for disobedience.” 

 

“Why did she want you to come here?” 

 

“I overheard her talking about sending Jesse, I made a comment in an attempt to dissuade her.”

 

“So now she wants you dead,” Stacie groaned. 

 

“Because I stood up to her, apparently;” Aubrey sighed. 

 

“Well, that’s not going to happen, because you’re not going to be in any danger. I’ll talk to Boggs about having you stay at base camp, I’m sure he’ll agree. He probably isn’t keen on the idea of having to keep an eye on you and Jesse. One is probably enough for him.” 

 

“What if you stayed here with me?” Aubrey suggested, hopefully. 

 

“I can’t, they need me,” Aubrey groaned but acquiesced. “Fine, but I expect you to come back to this tent every night, got it?”

 

“Heard,” Stacie chuckled. Pulling Aubrey tighter, the pair shifted a little bit before closing their eyes to go to sleep. 

 

 

The next couple of days were filled with the type of ease people were unaccustomed to in a warzone. Aubrey and Stacie woke up together, with smiles on their faces and lazy morning kisses. Aubrey seemed to be getting better as well as more memories were made, burying the old ones. Her hands twitched but stayed far away from Stacie’s throat. 

 

The star squad was filled with relative laughter and banter as the soldiers mixed with the victors. Some of the conversations were easy, such as what was life like in everyone’s respective district. Others were harder, like their experiences in the games. Stacie, for what it’s worth, didn’t pay much mind to public opinion, but there were plenty of questions about the secrets she uncovered during her forced trysts in the Capitol. The only reason Stacie clammed up sometimes was because of the faraway look Aubrey got in her eyes when the matter was discussed. Eventually, she simply refused to answer, her eyes never leaving the face of her love until the questions stopped. 

 

...

 

It was on a particularly arduous day for Aubrey, where the blonde stayed back at camp, that everything went wrong. Stacie left with the group to film the triggering of a pod. Beca lined up her shot with a bow and let fly, triggering a small nest of tracker jackers. They all cheered when it went off, smiling and waving for the camera, their faces quickly changed to fear when the ground exploded underneath Boggs, blowing his legs off. 

 

 

The next series of events were still a shock for Stacie. Jesse snapped, the soldiers fought back, a wave of black goo swept over the square, and Stacie was rushing into a home and climbing a series of steps to escape it. Beca claimed the holo despite Sergeant Jackson’s protests, and they were suddenly on a mission to assassinate Snow. Something that Stacie knew was utter bullshit, but she also would be lying if she said she didn’t want a crack at the old man herself. So they all went along with it and followed Beca back, away from camp. Away from Aubrey. 

 

At some point, they were declared dead, and Stacie wondered what Aubrey was doing. How she was feeling. Whether the blonde had seen the peacekeepers blow up the home that Stacie, Beca, and co. had been reported last. The peacekeepers were going to have a nasty shock when their bodies were nowhere to be found. 

 

To escape the home, they all went into the service tunnel, where one of the cameramen, Pollux, led them through. Jesse had smiled kindly at the man and said that the avox was the most useful one of them, a kind statement that was almost reticent of the boy’s former self. Something that Stacie made note of, maybe Jesse was improving after all. 

 

The squad marched through the service tunnels, anxiously awaiting Snow’s revelation that they were alive. 

 

 

The service tunnels were dark and odorous. They passed by streams of sewage and ducked behind corners when peacekeeper trucks moved through. They sometimes manage to claim another abandoned house, where they found food stashed throughout. Sometimes they wound up in a dark corner of the service tunnel, waiting for the right time to move. It was one of those times when Jesse started acting strange. He started to whisper Beca’s name, the sound echoed through the tunnels with a hiss. Beca was up and shaking, a feeling of foreboding came over them all. 

 

“Jesse?” Beca inquired, prodding the boy. 

 

Jesse sprung to his feet, eyes wide and arms trembling. “We have to go, now.” He pushed Beca forward and began to nudge the others awake, herding them frantically in one direction. “Hurry, before they get here.” 

 

“Jesse, who’s they?” Benji inquired. 

 

“No time, hurry up;” Jesse shoved Benji after the others, pressing a gun into the other victor’s hands. 

 

 

They were all scrambling through the tunnels away from the voices when whatever it was, caught up to them. A pack of large lizard men sprung from the shadows screaming and reeking of a mixture of blood and roses. Beca seemed to be gagging as she ran, firing off rounds at the beasts when she could. Stacie sprinted after the smaller brunette, tossing small grenades towards the back of the lizard cluster. 

Explosions shook the tunnels as the grenades went off. Peacekeepers peeled into the area in trucks, guns blazing, but the mutts didn’t seem to care. They tore through the other Leeg girl and Sergeant Jackson upon their exit. At some point one of the camera crew got caught in a pod that shot out a blinding beam of light, stripping the flesh from the man’s body. Jesse herded their avox guide along, pushing the man away from the chaos vigorously. 

 

They were in a tunnel filled with water, a ladder was in the center. The avox scrambled up, followed by Benji. Cynthia Rose threw an ax at one of the lizard monsters as it attempted to pull Benji down. Jesse was wrestling with a particularly fierce lizard, while Stacie shot at the mutts indiscriminately. Stacie caught a particularly vicious one that had sprung at Cynthia Rose from behind. Cynthia Rose turned to thank her, but suddenly Stacie was thrown into the water. She felt claws rake along her back, as water began to fill her lungs. 

 

Just as quickly as the pressure was there, it was gone. Stacie was back on her feet spluttering as Cynthia Rose stood above her, hacking at the surrounding reptiles. Jesse was scrambling up the latter after Beca, the remainder of the camera crew was nowhere to be seen. Most likely up top with Beca. “Cynthia Rose, go, I’m right behind you;” Stacie directed. Grabbing one of the axes, Stacie began hacking at the beasts as Cynthia Rose started up the ladder. There were four lizards left, all of them seemed to ignore the wounds inflicted on them. Stacie could feel her body growing weaker, whether from blood loss or the actual motions of the fight she had no clue. Once Cynthia Rose was up the ladder, Stacie began to climb, every once in a while slashing with the ax at extended claws. 

 

Stacie made it halfway up the ladder when one of the lizards made a wild leap and bit into her ankle. She let out a sharp cry as she was dragged down the ladder, landing with a splash. She frantically tried to get back up again, but she wasn’t able to. “Beca!” She called, desperate for any aid. Plucking up the ax, she managed to behead one of the creatures in one swipe before parrying another taloned slash. She quickly dealt a death blow to the creature’s solar plexus, but the ax got lodged in the bone. Stacie loosened her grasp on the ax and switched to her one knife. It wasn’t big, but it would have to do. 


“Beca!” She called again. She heard a beeping and a sudden splash, the flashing of red light. Stacie swiped at the next claw, as the image caught up to her. Flashing red light, no help. ``The Holo self destructs.”