TWO

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The circle looked as if it would zone into the northwest end of Neo Tilted, although the closing storm on our heels had been the least of our problems. At least it had been a minute ago. The air was silent after our mute teammate's flint-knock pistol had surprisingly copped him a clean elimination.

"Yah love to see it," Fresh complimented. "Yeet pistols for the win, am I right?"

Dodo quickly shuffled through the loot of his victim and I swept by for the scraps, then ran off toward the safe zone with more mats and chug splashes. "I wouldn't say that exactly," I pointed out to Fresh with a tip of my head, pausing to swap around my loadout, "but for this fight? Yeet pistols for the win."

I didn't need anything other than his snigger to know how proud he'd gotten at the sound of a foreigner using his coined lingo. "Yeet," came his whimsical hoot of a response, followed by the sound of the gun going off, but then he inhaled sharply. It was a gentle gasp, no matter how horror-stricken. What condemned him was the bleep that indicated he was knocked.

"Fresh, what happened?" Blues' marker spun around on the map, but I was the one who was close enough to see the Reflex skin doubled over on the dirt.

If we really looked at it, there hadn't been another shot but his own. There was no one around but us. I slid the mouse and rotated the screen in the last area we'd seen him at, only to spot the pine trees that loomed over the crippled player. "You fell, didn't you?"

"Oh, gosh, Fresh."

There had never been another silence more embarrassing and the streamer in question didn't move. "Look," the boy slowly began, defending himself the best he could, "it could've happened to anyone." He began to crawl in my direction, expecting some help as he continued to admit, "Alright, I hit the tree. Now, are you going to rez me, ma'am? Please?"

"Then you'd better get to me before the storm gets you," I joked, crouching my character and standing her up again. Of course, I wouldn't leave him to become a victim to the storm. Let alone because of his accidental feat with fall damage, but there had to be some payback for his pyramiding bit from behind the hill.

"That's so mean, [Y/N]," Blues hummed, but nonetheless showed no signs of coming back.

"Yeah, that's so mean, [Y/N]," Fresh repeated to elicit the reply of an eye-roll from one person and small laugh from the other, but stopped his crawling when I ran to his rescue. Despite the pause I'd taken from hearing my name spoken in his voice and his accent, I didn't let it phase me further than that. There was no point in scolding anybody for it, especially Blues, for getting a little excited.

It wasn't until the next few seconds that I assumed our teammate had seen the map and recognized the storm, because the young player had developed a lilt of panic in her voice. "Should I come back? Do you guys need help? I have more bandages."

"No, no, stay with Dodo, Blues. The storm's almost here. Peps and I'll help each other into the zone, 'cause that's how teamwork works."

"We've gotta go as soon as you're up, man." As the gauge came to a full circle, the cloak of purple had pulled itself over the shoulders of our characters. The first few spikes of damage the storm took on my health got my fingers tingling but, the second Mrfreshasian stood, we made a run for it. He built us a ramp over a short overhang and I hit us with a well-timed chug splash that saved him from another knock. "Are you always this wholesome or is this just an act?"

Fresh planted down a few more ramps to get over a cliff, then a platform for us to hop back onto the sweet, sweet ground with two satisfying thumps. "What'dya mean? I'm just tryin'a stay monetized." He was the closest to the edge of the storm, but not enough to get out of it yet he spun around to jog in reverse. It was probably then that he realized that he'd fucked it up. "No, wait—" Fresh stopped himself—not in time but it was a good effort—to hum a long 'hm' and started running again.

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