Deep Into the Game
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12 chapter twelve
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Deep Into the Game
Author :Saul_Tanpepper
© Webnovel

12 chapter twelve

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"Finally!" Reggie yells at us as we drive into the parking structure. His voice booms through it, sounding eerily hollow.

I had pinged the others to let them know we were going to be later than we'd expected because Grandpa decided to give us the fifth degree and the guards were hassling us.

Apparently the guards also hassled Jake. They'd torn the van apart, searching it. But they found nothing, and finally accepted his explanation that the equipment was for the store.

Kel and I tumble from the car. "Is it too late to go?"

Micah walks over from the rail. He shakes his head. "The tide's still going out. We should be okay."

"The direction of the current will change in about an hour," Jake says, checking his Link. "If we don't leave now, we'll be swimming against it."

This snaps us all to attention.

Ash comes over and hands us our wetsuits. "I've been watching for the cop," she says. "Same as the other day: there's just one on patrol." She looks at Reggie, who tilts his head at her and gives it a quick shake.

He says, "It looks like they're on the same sixty-minute schedule. He comes, hangs around for about ten minutes, then leaves. His last check was twenty six minutes ago, so…" He checks his Link. "We've got about twenty minutes to get suited up, grab our gear and get under water before he returns."

"I still think that's odd," Kelly says. "Why patrol? And why with such regularity? They might as well announce to the world, 'If you want to do something illegal here, you got about thirty or forty minute window to do it in.'"

"Bureaucracy," I say. But something about it troubles me too.

Ashley opens her mouth to speak.

"Enough jibber-jabber," Reggie quickly says. "We need to hurry to make our window. Otherwise we'll have to wait till tomorrow."

Jake has already arranged the gear. Luckily, I've thought to wear my swimsuit under my sweats. The guys did too, but Ashley hesitates. Then she shrugs and strips off her shorts and tee shirt, right down to her undies.

Jake stares openmouthed until Reggie slaps him upside the head. "Give the girl some privacy."

Out of the corner of my eyes, I see Kelly smile.

I go over and block the boys' view.

"I can't believe you forgot your swimsuit, Ash." A part of me wants to believe it was an honest mistake, but I can't help wondering if she did it on purpose, like she's hoping she won't have to go. She pretends embarrassment, but then doesn't even try to be discrete.

"Well, you forgot your inhaler," she counters. I snap my mouth shut. Her actions haven't put the trip at risk. Mine have.

After the suits, we don our knife belts and hoist the waterproof backpacks onto our backs. Each one contains a pair of oxygen rebreather cartridges, light sticks, food and water and any other stuff we've brought. An extra cartridge is Velcroed onto our weight belt, along with a flashlight and another light stick. Each flashlight is attached to us on a short tether, so if we drop it, we won't lose it.


Kelly's off to one side, his back to us, transferring what he brought into the sack he's been assigned. I want to go over and see what he's brought, but I know he'll be upset if I do. He already told me once it's a surprise, and I don't want to ruin whatever it might be. Every once in a while, he gets a little romantic streak in him. Doing something special on LI would definitely give us something to remember.

Jake finishes getting geared up before the rest of us. He passes around our goggles and masks, attaching the cartridges as he goes. "Kelly?" he says, tapping him on the shoulder. Kelly spins around as he stands, his eyes flashing. "Number three, right?"

"I'm three," I say, reaching over for it.

After our practice dive yesterday, Micah put numbered tags on the masks and goggles so we won't have to readjust them. They're in order by our first names.

Jake stares at me for a second before slowly handing me the mask.

"Everything okay?"

"S-sure"

He drops Micah's and Reggie's equipment in their laps. They're busy discussing last minute details. They mumble thanks before resuming.

"No prob."

I glance over at Ashley, remembering how much of a fright she gave us toward the end of our dive. But she looks as cocky as usual, as confident and assured of herself as ever. Maybe it's the way the suit clings to her body and her awareness of the boys' hypersensitivity to it. I don't know, but if she has any of the self-doubt left over from yesterday, she's definitely not showing it now.

Micah packs the last few things in his sack. I notice the old tablet computer and a few other electrical gadgets. I don't bother to ask what he plans on doing with them as it seems pretty obvious. He wants to find an old terminal and see if he can hack directly into the iVZ infrastructure using one of the old nodes.

Whatever. I doubt we'll have enough time to find a working node, much less figure out a way turn it on, if it isn't already, plus physically splice into it.

He checks his Link and announces that we've got nine minutes at the most before the next patrol. It'll take us three of them to get down to the walkway, leaving us only six minutes of leeway.

"Ready?" he asks. "Last checks. Let's make sure everyone's good to go."

We buddy-check to make sure there aren't any loose belts or straps and that everything that needs to be sealed is sealed.

"Everyone got their Links?"

We all dutifully hold them up. They're strapped to our wrists so we won't accidentally drop them.

Micah holds his up and says, "Smile." Then we're all snapping photos of each other and laughing. Already I'm dripping with sweat and thirsty from the dry heat of the approaching day.

"Okay, enough of that. Let's go."

We shuffle off after Reggie, looking like a pack of upright seals that happened to get tangled up in a bunch of equipment. Kelly and I trail along in back. I look over and give him a smile. He smiles back, then turns his determined gaze forward again.

Then, before we know it, we're standing at the railing pulling on our flippers.

Nobody hesitates. We're all climbing over and are perched on the other side looking down into the water. None of us wants to think about what we're doing for even a second longer than we already have, because to do so would be to realize the insanity of our plan.

Micah takes a quick look around, then slides into the water, doing a perfect scissors kick that barely makes any noise or splash. We all follow, trying to imitate him.

A moment later, we pop back to the surface: six black lycrene-covered balls bobbing in the water. The coolness of it feels so good on my exposed skin. I was seriously starting to float inside my suit, standing out there in the heat. Everyone else looks just as relieved.

As one, we spit into our goggles, polish and rinse them, then slide them over our faces.

Micah signals to Jake, who slips his mask into his mouth, then his head sinks into the water.

Within seconds, the rest of us join him. The world and the hot sun and the noises of the dry August wind all disappear.

Visibility is about thirty feet. Light sticks begin to glow. A beam of light stabs the murkiness. Then, one by one, five more join it.

At nine thirteen a.m., we slide into the gaping mouth of the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
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