Disclaimer:

I do not own Love Hina, Red Dawn or any other movies or shows. Any other characters used in this fic are mine, however.

Chapter 12 – Sacrifices for Freedom

July 10th – 0513 hours

Colonel Kazchnya manned the lead T-80 tank in the combined strike force. The group consisted a total of four T-80s, two BMP infantry carriers, two trucks and one BRDM armored scout car. Among the vehicles were eighty soldiers, all heavily armed. Earlier the Colonel was informed by one of the Listening Posts that an invasion by NATO forces was taking place near the beaches south of the city. Determined to repel the imperialists, Kazchnya gathered his forces to stop them.

"Comrade Colonel: we are approaching the residential area of this road. What are your orders? Over," said Major Taroski. The major was unlucky enough to be traveling in the BRDM in front of the tanks.

"Dismount all troops from the trucks and BMPs and reconnoiter the main road. Report back if you have found anything. Over," replied the Colonel.

"Roger that. Out."

Kazchnya switched to the tank commanders' frequency. "All armored elements, prepare for contact. Ivan two, you and a squad will try to flank any defense through the gap on the left. All other armored elements, maintain your positions and keep alert. Out."

Kazchnya knew that the Americans had made contact with the rebels; the fact that all top-priority buildings and structures where destroyed validated his suspicion. He also knew full well that they would try to slow his advance to the beach. As long as his tanks and armor where still operational, the overwhelming firepower of his troops should easily destroy any resistance in the area. This was a tenant to his attitude to war; his soldiers under his command where expendable. All that mattered now is total victory.

~~

"Enemy armor spotted," whispered Keitaro. "Twenty or so infantry as well following it."

He turned to his left to see Seta, signaling more infantry coming to his position. To his right, he saw Motoko signal the same thing. Kitsune brought out the detonator, flipping the safety switch off. Naru readied her rifle as they waited.

"Kitsune, when that scout car blows, set off the claymores," said Keitaro. Kitsune nodded and braced herself for what was to come.

Haruka and Mutsumi traversed their machinegun to the incoming infantry, placing the sights on one column of soldiers. Mutsumi readied another belt of ammunition as the others cocked their weapons. In a moment, all hell would be breaking loose.

~~

Major Taroski surveyed the area through one of the slits of the BRDM. All seemed too quiet and calm as the armored vehicle made its way down the street. It looked as though the Colonel's suspicions where unfounded as the streets gave a sense of calm to him. As the major relaxed a bit, the vehicle violently shook. Fire engulfed the interior as the BRDM struck an antitank mine. All occupants inside where killed instantly.

~~

The moment the mine blew, Kitsune instinctively squeezed the trigger. In a split second, six claymores detonated and blew thousands of round pellets into the air, decimating the troops behind the wreckage. All defenders watching the main road opened fire on the survivors of the initial blast, cutting down six more Soviet soldiers in the process. Smoke from the ensuing carnage rose up from the area, as if the souls of the dead were returning to which they came from.

"Keep firing! We can't let any reinforcements come through here!" screamed Naru.

Keitaro fired downrange at his adversaries; brass fell all around him, making clinking sounds as they hit the pavement below. He then turned to his left to see Seta's position firing on soldiers trying to get through the narrow alleyways.

'I hope that we'll be able to keep this up,' he thought as he reloaded a new clip.

~~

"Shit! More Soviets coming from the left!" screamed one boy. Haruka traversed the machinegun to a squad of soldiers trying to flank their positions. The weapon made a metallic clicking sound, indicating that she was out of ammo.

"Mutsumi, more ammo now! Hurry!" she screamed.

Popping open the breach cover, Mutsumi loaded another belt of ammunition. Haruka slammed the cover back into position and pulled down the charging handle. Sighting her enemy again, she pulled the trigger. Bullets whizzed by, striking at anything that happened to be in the way. Glass and splinters of wood flew in all directions as incoming fire intensified.

"Mutsumi, tell Seta that this position is about to get overrun!" yelled the one boy. Mutsumi didn't need to be told twice. As fast as she could, she ran down to the ground floor. Seta was busy bandaging one of his students – two of them were lying in a pool of blood, dead.

"Seta, there's too many! I don't think we can keep this up all day!" cried Mutsumi.

"I know! Tell everyone to get down – we're gonna blow the fougasse and mines!" he shouted.

Running back up the stairs, she reached Haruka once again. "Everyone take cover! Seta's gonna blow the traps!"

Diving for cover in the room, the booby traps exploded, shaking the entire building. All incoming fire ceased as screams of agony and pain echoed outside. The fougasse, filled with gasoline and metal shards, burned and ripped men that found themselves unfortunate enough to stand near them. The claymores only added to the carnage, creating a shotgun affect down the alleys. Their plan had worked, but the flames and debris wouldn't keep their enemy at bay for long. More soldiers ran into the destroyed homes and use those as cover. They soon took up a position to cover future assaults against the three-story house.

"Hold your positions! Ken, get some more people back up here to defend this flank - now!" shouted Seta. Ken nodded and ran to the rear of the building and toward Keitaro's position.

~~

Motoko heard the sound of a T-80 and infantry approaching her position. She switched the safety off and signaled to Su and Akiko that incoming armor was approaching. Su nodded in reply and brought out the C4.

"You ready?" asked Su.

"Yes," replied Akiko

Both girls stuck a time-delay fuse into the plastic explosive and held onto the priming pins. Taking cover in one of the buildings, they waited for the right moment. The steel behemoth came closer and closer as each moment passed. Motoko and Ryo sighted a target through their rifles and opened fire. Soldiers scrambled for cover as their comrades began to drop one by one. The tank soon found itself without proper cover, and the opportunity that the girls had been waiting for was there.

"Pull the pins!" shouted Su.

Yanking at the priming pins, they raced to the side of the tank. As quickly as they could, they stuck the explosives on the tracks and took cover. Several seconds later, a small explosion rang through the gap – the plan worked. The track was disabled and the T-80 wasn't going anywhere. There was still one problem; the tank is still operational and can fire its main gun at will. Traversing its cannon at Akiko and Su made Motoko freeze.

"Su! Akiko! Get out of there!!" she screamed.

Sensing the danger, both of the young girls dove out of the way as the main gun fired its shell. The projectile traveled the short distance in a split second and detonated. Akiko and Su barely managed to escape death by a few short feet. The spot where they were just standing was charred and burnt – debris from nearby houses rained down upon their heads. Four other partisans, lead by Alice, climbed up onto the tank.

"Get a grenade in there!" Alice cried as she fired her weapon inside the compartment.

The rest pulled out grenades from their ammo pouches and pulled the pins. Prying open the top-hatch, they dropped them inside and shut it tight. Three blasts resonated inside, killing any crewmembers inside. Suddenly Su saw a squad of soldiers running toward them. Two of them had a grenade launcher attached to their rifles as they brought them to bear on Alice's group.

"Look out! Get off the tank!" shouted Akiko.

Tragically it was too late. Two grenades struck the tank, spraying shrapnel and metal shards in all directions. Three partisans dropped dead, their blood splattering in all directions. Alice was thrown off the turret, screaming in agony. The blast had severed her legs and she crawled desperately to safety. One of the soldiers saw this and fired a burst into her before Su could get to her. Alice's screams were cut short and she lay still. In retaliation, Motoko and Ryo opened fire, scoring a headshot for each grenadier. The rest of the men fell back behind a corner, firing wildly in the air.

"Come on Akiko, there's nothing we can do," said Su. With that, they returned to the relative safety of Motoko's position.

~~

Keitaro and the others near the main road were pinned down form incoming fire from the wreckage. Just as he was busy passing out more ammo, Ken ran up.

"We need more people to help defend the left flank," he said. "Seta doesn't think that it'll hold for long."

"I'll go," said Keitaro. Naru grabbed his arm and gave him a worried look.

"Keitaro…be careful," she said.

"You to Naru."

Keitaro knew that if they lost the left flank, their defense would fold. He and three other defenders from his group ran back to Seta's position, leaving Naru, Kitsune, and several others to defend the road. Bullets ricochet off the road and surrounding buildings as they ran full speed back to Seta's group. After crossing the gauntlet of hostile fire, he and his group reached the building.

"What's the situation here Seta," Keitaro asked.

"We lost two of our people already and we're running low on ammo. I think we're going to have to fall back soon," Seta replied. An explosion followed his statement, shattering the glass windows inside the house.

"Our position near the road is holding, but I have no clue what's happening on the right flank," said Keitaro.

"From what I heard, a tank tried the gap, but it looks as though Su's plan worked," replied Haruka.

Just then, a platoon toting several RPGs ran around the corner. One of the soldiers managed to fire a rocket at the group, impacting near a wall that Seta and Keitaro where standing. By sheer luck, Seta and Keitaro managed to duck out of the way as the rocket detonated, spraying shards of metal and plaster in all directions. Mutsumi, now manning the machinegun, returned fire and drove the soldiers back.

"Seta, if they hit this place again like that more time this place may fall apart!" shouted one girl.

"I know," said Seta. He turned to Keitaro. "Listen, head back to the other positions and let everyone know that we're going to the second defensive perimeter!"

"Okay!" he shouted, and bolted out the door.

~~

Motoko and the survivors of her group where busy keeping the enemy at bay. Using her sniper rifle, she and Ryo managed to beat off several assaults against the house. Su and Akiko began to move the wounded back down the street. Hopefully they'd bring more ammo back with them – Motoko was now down to two spare magazines for the M-14.

"Motoko, were the hell is Su and Akiko with that ammo!" shouted Ryo.

"I don't know, but they'll be back here soon!" she shouted back.

Loading another clip into her rifle, Motoko fixed her sights down the gap once more. Sighting each individual soldier, she began to methodically take each soldier out. Just as she was preparing to fire her last round, a BMP rumbled around the corner. Mounted on the top of its turret was a guided missile, pointing straight at them!

"Everyone get down now!!" Motoko screamed.

Too late – the BMP fired the missile at the building. A moment later the warhead of the incoming projectile struck the house; the explosion decimated the structure, the shockwave shattering all the glass windows around the area.

Akiko and Su had just reached the CP, where Sarah, Tama-chan and Taro where. They both began to treat the wounded boy Kazuki as Akiko and Su loaded up on ammo. Just then they heard the explosion of the missile back where Motoko and the others were.

"Oh no!" cried Sarah.

"We gotta get back there!" said Akiko.

Su then turned to Sarah. "We'll be back shortly, don't worry."

Nodding silently, Sarah watched as Su and Akiko raced back to what was left of the house. Su prayed all the way, hoping that she wouldn't have to say goodbye to another friend.

~~

Naru and Kitsune watched in horror as the explosion annihilated Motoko's defensive position.

"Motoko!" cried Naru. She tried to run from her foxhole, but Kitsune pulled her back.

"Naru, keep your head down!" scolded Kitsune.

Just then a T-80 cautiously approached the main road and stopped short of the burning hulk of the BRDM. Traversing its turret, it fired its coax machinegun down the road, indiscriminately hitting anything that moved. Kitsune and another girl picked up a LAW and fired. The rockets had little affect on the steel beast, only alerting the crew of their location.

"Oh shit! Displace! Get out of the foxhole, they're gonna blow it!" screamed Naru.

Scrambling to get out, the tank crew took its time aiming the cannon at the group. It fired, and the ensuing explosion kicked up the earth and concrete from its point of impact. Naru looked back and saw that the rest of the partisans didn't make it out in time – their bodies lay everywhere, blood painted the nearby walls. Naru pulled Kitsune behind one of the ruined houses. Reloading her rifle she turned to her friend.

"Kitsune, we gotta fall back," she said.

No response.

"Kitsune are you okay?" said Naru.

She turned Kitsune over and was horrified at what she saw. Shrapnel had pierced her abdomen and midsection, causing massive bleeding. Through the sheer pain, Kitsune managed to give a small smile back to Naru and clasp her hands in hers.

Naru was on the verge of tears. "Kitsune, you're gonna be okay. Just hold on."

"It's okay Naru…it doesn't matter now," Kitsune whispered.

Keitaro soon appeared behind Naru. He was shocked at Kitsune's injuries. Breaking out a bandage, he and Naru tried to stop the bleeding. Kitsune turned to Keitaro.

"Please…take care of the others," she whispered.

"I will," he said.

Just then, Kitsune's body went limp. Her eyes glazed over as air escaped her lungs. Naru closed her eyes and shed a few tears for her long-time friend. Keitaro reached in Kitsune's shirt pocket and pulled out the letter to her family. Placing it in his pocket, he looked at Naru.

"We have to go…Seta and the rest are falling back."

Naru nodded and picked up her weapon. She gave one last look at her friend, and ran back to the others with Keitaro.

~~

Su and Akiko desperately searched the remains of the house for any survivors. Just as things began to look hopeless, Su noticed movement in one of the rooms.  To her relief, it turned out to be Motoko – wounded but alive.

"Motoko, are you okay?" asked Akiko.

"I'm fine…what about the others?" she asked.

"You're the only one that made it in the blast," replied Su.

This saddened Motoko, but she knew that there was nothing more they could do. With the help of Su and Akiko, the three girls made there way to the secondary line of defense.

~~

Haruka and Mutsumi were busy covering the retreat. The machinegun jammed on them, and now they had to use the grenade launcher to beat back enemy troops when they spotted incoming armor. Firing the last grenade round, the two of them ran back to the ground floor before a tank shell impacted the upper level.

"Dammit! They've broken through!" said Haruka. "Let's get the hell out of here!"

Gathering up what weapons they had, they made a mad dash out into the street. Bullets ricochet all around them as they followed the rest back down the block. Just then the tank rumbled past the corner and pointed its cannon downrange. Firing its coax machinegun, the bullets had found its targets. Haruka was struck several times in the back and collapsed in the middle of the street. Mutsumi tried to help Haruka on her feet, but a bullet stuck her as well and she too fell to the street.

"Musumi! Haruka!" cried Keitaro.

He and Naru made a mad dash back to where they were. Dragging both to the relative safety of a sandbag bunker, they checked for any signs of life. Mutsumi was mortally wounded, and lay bleeding on the ground. Tragically it was too late for Haruka – she had succumbed to her wounds and laid still. Keitaro and Naru felt like crying on the spot but couldn't. Mutsumi then looked at both of them.

"I'll be all right…it'll all be okay Kei-kun," Mutsumi whispered.

"Hang on Mutsumi…please," replied Keitaro, grasping her hand.

Mutsumi died several moments later.

Seta appeared by Keitaro's side. Seeing what had happened, it was evident that he was devastated by the loss. He took a deep breath and told them both their next plan.

"There no way we can hold out for long…we have to blow the houses near the road to block access to the beach," stated Seta. "Get the demolition charges ready."

Keitaro got himself ready and began to get the charges ready. Gunfire from enemy soldiers made the earth around him kick up puffs of dust. After connecting the wires to the explosives, he made his way back to the others. Before Keitaro knew it, one of the Soviet soldiers fired an RPG straight at him! He didn't have time to react – the force of the blast nearly blinded him as it flung him to the ground. Keitaro crawled back toward the bunker in pain. Su and Akiko ran to his aide and dragged him the rest of the way back.

"You okay Keitaro?" asked a concerned Su.

"I'll be fine, just help me connect the wires to the detonator," Keitaro replied.

Helping him with the task, they heard the sounds of an incoming T-80 coming. Taking one last look down the road, Keitaro set off the explosives.

~~

Colonel Kazchnya was now poised to take the crossroads. He had suffered moderate casualties, but it wasn't a bother for him. All that matters now is winning a decisive victory over the rebels. A feeling of triumph flowed through his veins as he saw his objective – the crossroads. He switched on the radio and brought the microphone to his mouth.

"All units be advised: engage all hostiles as they appear. There will be no retreating or turning back. Out."

Victory was now his; nothing could stop him now from attaining it. Suddenly a thunderous explosion rocked the compartment, and the buildings on either side collapsed. Trapping the T-80, Kazchnya caught a glimpse of an attack from the air. An antitank missile slammed into the turret turning it into a pile of twisted, burning mass of steel.

~~

Keitaro didn't believe what he saw. He was positive that the demolition charges didn't do that kind of damage to the T-80. Looking behind him he had found what did: two AH-1 Cobras circle overhead strafing what was left of the opposition.  The remaining armor began to make a hasty retreat, only to be destroyed by the Cobras. The surviving defenders of the crossroads cheered as they saw this. Naru turned to Keitaro, tears streamed down her face.

"They finally came! Help has finally come Keitaro!"

He and the others couldn't believe it. Moments later, a detachment of U.S. Marines supported by the remnants of the J.D.S.F appeared. Securing the area, the combined force pressed forward, keeping the pressure on the retreating Soviets.

It was nearly dawn now, and soon another sunrise broke over the horizon, lighting up the morning sky. The darkness that shrouded Japan in death and destruction had disappeared.

~~

Epilogue

May 22nd – One year later

Keitaro and a group of people stood in front of a small monument set up at the Hinata Sou. Su, Naru, and Motoko stood near him; Seta, Sarah, Akiko and the other survivors of that terrible battle stood watch from behind. Tears welled in all of their eyes as they thought back to the tragic days of the war – the days that brought them so close to each other…and the days that took so many of their friends.

It has been nearly a year since the end of the war. Ever since Japan had been liberated, it helped NATO forces drive deeper into Soviet territory. It became evident that the war was lost, and that prompted the Soviet government to surrender. There would be peacekeeping duties from now on in Europe and Asia – duties that would last for at least a decade.

In Japan, it will take the country years to rebuild its infrastructure. With the help of the international community, it'll be easier for the government to do. The people of Japan did not forget how liberation was attained. They would be forever grateful to the members of the Resistance forces who fought the Soviets in he early days of the war.

Back in the Kanagawa region, one city dedicated a monument to those who had given their lives. It was located in the Hinata Sou, the home of several of the resistance members. The monument had the names of those who had died at the decisive battle at the crossroads. Among those names included Shinobu Maehara, Mitsune Konno, Haruka Urashima, and Mutsumi Otohime. The families of all the former residents of the dorm where there – those who had fled the country or hid from the Soviets finally found there way back to the Hinata Sou. The families of those who didn't make it where devastated after hear the fate of their loved ones. Naru and Keitaro gave each family the personal belongings of each girl. Hopefully it brought them some comfort and closure.

Keitaro knew that things would never be the same, but he had a duty as manager of the dorm. He would make sure that Su, Motoko, and especially Naru would have a home to go back to. Keitaro would also make sure that those who weren't coming back where never forgotten. Keitaro turned toward the crowd, then back to the girls. Laying some lowers near the names of the fallen he stood up. Through his tears, he said those words that he thought he would never say again.

"We're home everyone…we're finally home," Keitaro said softly.

***

A/N – Well that's it! My fic is finally complete! I'm sorry that I had Haruka, Kitsune, and Mutsumi die in the last battle, but I wanted to stay true to the theme of my story.

A special thanks goes to all of those reviewers who had given me so many positive comments and who have enjoyed my story – without you I wouldn't have completed it!

Anyway, I'll be taking a little break from writing. Have a nice day, and thanks again for your support!