What happens when the only way to win is to break all the rules? Find out in the eighth chapter of War Games!

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Paragons 1.3.8

Book 1  ♣  Episode 3  ♣  Chapter 8

When their Quest goes completely sideways, Savannah and her team have to make a tough choice. Chapter 8 of the Paragons Episode War Games.

Chapter 8: Off the Playing Field

Bronte rushed forward. “No, the phone has to be here somewhere.” She circled the trail marker, surveying every splinter of wood on it. “It has to be here.”

“Bronte,” I said quietly.

She circled the post again, muttering over and over again, “It has to be here.”

“If there’s no phone, how are we supposed to call the General’s soldiers to come get us?” Kylie wondered. “This doesn’t make any sense.”

Dutch was frowning. From the looks of it, he’d come to the same realization that I had.

“They were never going to come and get us,” I said.

“That doesn’t make any sense.” Bronte shook her head, hugging her shoulders. “That’s not what the assignment said.” She started pacing. “The assignment said we just had to make it here, and then we’d be extracted. Then we’d win.”

“Bronte, I think…” I tried to figure out a diplomatic way to say this, but I just couldn’t. “They lied to us, Bronte. This whole Quest was a lie.”


“I’m not sure. I guess they wanted to see how we’d react when everything went sideways.”

“But how do we win?” Bronte looked to me like I had all the answers.

“I don’t think they expected anyone to win this,” I told her.

Bronte kicked the wooden post.

I caught her arm before she punched it too—and hurt herself. “Look, just because they designed this Quest so no one could win it, that doesn’t mean we can’t still win.”

Bronte’s arm relaxed. The tension in her body eased, and hope crept into her eyes.

“What do you mean, Savannah?” Asher asked. “How do we win?”

“Think back to the scenario card,” I replied. “The backstory.”

“Your team of Knights from the Green Nation has discovered a rare treasure—designated Object 2861—in the Woods, unclaimed territory,” Bronte quoted perfectly, word-for-word. “Your objective is to bring Object 2861 to the point indicated on your map. There you will find a phone you can use to call in the extraction team. They will rescue you and bring you and your treasure to the General.” She shook her head. “But there’s no extraction team, Savannah.”

“That doesn’t matter. It’s just an irrelevant piece of exposition,” I said. “The important part is where the treasure needs to go: to the General. And we’re perfectly capable of delivering it to him ourselves.” I gave my teammates a triumphant smile.

No one smiled back.

“The General’s office is in the Black Obelisk,” said Kylie.

“Yes. So we bring the treasure there,” I said.

Kylie frowned. “Have you forgotten that they locked the Castle gates after we all arrived this morning? And there are Watchers guarding the gate. And I bet the General instructed them not to let anyone in or out of here until this game is over. How are we supposed to get past those soldiers?”

“By thinking outside the box,” I replied.

“This isn’t just out of the box,” said Bronte. “It’s way off the playing field.”

“Forget the playing field, Bronte.”

Forget the playing field?” she gasped.

“Look, do you want to win this game or not?” I arched my brows at her.

Bronte nibbled on her lip for a few moments before she answered. “Yes. You know I do.”

“How badly do you want to win?”

More nibbling. Then, “Very badly.”

I looked at the others. “And you guys?”

“Whatever it takes,” Asher said.

Kylie nodded.

That just left Dutch.

“Well? What do you say?” I asked him.

“I think you’re trouble, Savannah Winters.” His eyes locked with mine. “But it’s not like we’ve been left with many choices. If you have a plan, let’s hear it. How are we going to get past the Watchers? How are we going to escape the Castle grounds when the gate is locked?” He braided his fingers together and waited.

“Ok, here it is.” I turned to face the whole team. “The Watchers drive everywhere, right?”

“Yeah,” said Asher. “And? How does that help us?”

“They must have driven here, to the Castle, this morning. And since they’re still here, their vehicle must be too.”

“It’s parked right next to the track,” Dutch said.

Everyone looked at him.

He shrugged. “I saw it this morning. I arrived early to run a few laps around the track and get in a good workout. They have a bunch of exercise stations there too.”

Yeah, I was not surprised that Dutch was doing extra workouts. He looked like the sort of guy who crushed cans with his biceps and cracked coins with his teeth.

“You want to steal the Watchers’ SUV, don’t you, Winters?” Asher said.

Bronte, Kylie, and Dutch all gawked at me.

“I’d like to think of it less as stealing and more like borrowing,” I replied.

Bronte let out a little squeak.

“You wanted to win,” I reminded her. “And this is how we do it: we borrow the Watchers’ SUV. There will be a remote inside that opens the Castle gate. Then we drive to the Black Obelisk and deliver the infamous Object 2861 to the General. Easy-peasy.”

“Uh, I can think of at least a dozen parts of this plan that won’t be easy at all,” Asher said.

“You’re welcome to suggest a better plan, Asher. Any of you are, actually.”

No one said anything. Though Bronte did turn a very unflattering shade of pale-as-a-ghost.

“I’m going to take that as a sign that you’ve all agreed to my plan.” I turned to Kylie. “How far are we from the track?”

She looked at the map in her hands. “If we cut through the forest—and run fast—under ten minutes. But that’s assuming the other teams don’t attack us.”

“If we move fast, before they get here, they won’t,” I assured her. “They can’t imagine that we’d ever head away from the extraction point.”

Sighing, Kylie folded her map and tucked it into the waistband of her running leggings. “I hope you’re right, Savannah.”

So did I. Because otherwise this was going to be a very short trip.

Copyright © Ella Summers

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