They came to a stop at the front of the tower. Felix had to tilt his head back to look at the top. Both Kohuts had their weapons drawn, almost daring a cy-bug to come at them.
"Alright, boys, when I open this door, be prepared to give ‘em your best."
The Kohuts stood tall, rifles drawn; Felix stood behind them nervously, one hand placed awkwardly on the pistol still in his belt.
The door opened and a swarm of cy-bugs burst out, whirring and buzzing. A fair few were destroyed almost immediately; between Calhoun and the Kohuts, the bugs didn’t stand a chance. The ones that escaped were those that didn’t seem at all interested in them, buzzing mindlessly deeper into Hero’s Duty.
"C’mon. The other soldiers will have to deal with the rest." Calhoun led them through the doorway, keeping a sharp eye out for any lingering bugs. All seemed clear for now; she lowered her weapon, though she was still on her guard. The group continued down the hall in a looming silence.
They traversed the first few floors with ease; few cy-bugs lingered, and most of those that did were blasted before they even processed the presence of the trespassers. Felix was less nervous as they reached the tenth floor; Calhoun and the Kohuts were having no problems and they weren’t even breaking a sweat! His optimism faded fast as they headed deeper into the tenth level and to and beyond the eleventh. Of course it would get more difficult as they moved on. This was a video game, after all.
Felix stuck by Kohut’s side as the levels grew harder, trying his best to keep only the wall to his left and Kohut to his right. That way, he was protected, and he didn’t have to- and he could focus on the job at hand.
They made it through to the twentieth, thirtieth, fortieth floor without any mishaps. The levels certainly weren’t as easy as floor one, but they were far from surpassing the skill level of even Calhoun on her own.
Felix had lost track of what floor they were on. He knew they hadn’t reached fifty yet. Maybe forty-eight? They’d reached a large room, and had spread out some, especially compared to the cramped corridors. The three soldiers scanned the room for cy-bugs; there were a few broods of eggs, but the room seemed otherwise empty. Still, Sergeant Calhoun scanned the room with scrutiny, looking for something she seemed to know was around somewhere.
"There!" she said aloud, cutting across the room from the right side to the left. She passed Felix, who followed her closely but tentatively. The Kohuts followed behind, less concerned about the distance between them.
"It’s an Easter Egg," she explained as she pushed rather forcefully against a hardly visible button on the wall. "An elevator. A shortcut right to the eightieth floor." The sergeant wore a proud smirk.
"Sarge?" The new Kohut had his rifle drawn and aimed at the ceiling. The others all followed his gaze; Felix gasped, the soldiers drew their weapons. Saying that the cy-bug that hung from the ceiling was large was an understatement; it was probably the mother of all the eggs they’d exterminated.
Her mandibles clicked together and her wings buzzed as she came at them. She landed on the floor, creating a barricade that separated the Kohuts from Felix and Calhoun.
"You guys go, we’ll catch up!" Kohut could just barely be heard over the firing of three weapons and the incessant buzzing and clicking of the cy-bug.
"Negative! It only works once per game. If we go now, it won’t reset until the next player logs on!"
"We’ll take the long way. It’ll be alright!"
The beastly bug was sustaining damage on both sides but didn’t show many signs of weakening. She had focused first on the Kohuts, but when she seemed to realize there was another offender, she turned to face her. A glint of light that reflected off of Felix’s hammer caught her attention. She blinked her eyes once, clicked her mandibles, and in a flash she was airborne, focused entirely on the shimmer of the hammer.
Calhoun moved quickly, pushing Felix back forcefully into the elevator and then following, half-running and half-landing in the small space right as the automatic doors clicked shut. There was a metallic clang and a skritch skritch skritch as the cy-bug clawed frantically at the door, and then everything was completely silent for a fraction of a second as the elevator’s teleporter worked.
The door opened on the eightieth floor and Calhoun slammed a fist into the wall angrily.
"I should have known there’d be something there. That was downright careless.” She was talking to herself rather than Felix, who only just heard her as he began to recover from a stupor.
"All due respect, ma’am, but haven’t you reached that level before?" Felix asked tentatively, immediately wishing he hadn’t.
"None of the players made it that far yesterday," she answered, far less annoyance in her tone than Felix had anticipated. He’d forgotten how young she technically was. Her game had only just been plugged in.
"Well, we better get moving. The sooner we get you up to that beacon, the sooner this mess will be over with."