Beware the Left Eye

Dividual 1/POKER FACE

Disclaimer: All references to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex belong to Masamune Shirow and Production I.G. Ken DiFalco and Tom Delaney are the creations of Solid Shark, used with his kind permission. The Equatorial Union Civil War is the setting of Ominae's fanfic "Rebellion", and is used with permission. All Minerva crew are property of Sunrise. This is a non-profit facfiction and sidestory based on Solid Shark's "Cry of the Falcon".
It was a small group who met around the table to play poker; a mix of Minerva crew, Section Nine pilots and ground force personnel in between shifts. A TV set blared in a corner of the lounge: "The Chief Representative has just welcomed Foreign Minister Ramos of the Equatorial Union to Orb with a warm handshake; since the revolution that overthrew the Chua regime, the post-revolution government has been reaching out diplomatically in an attempt to distance itself from the Chua regime's policies and to enhance its standing and legitimacy among the surrounding nations."

"Yuki, how successful does this diplomatic initiative appear to be?"

"I'd say that it's been moderately successful. This evening's meeting with the Chief Representative and the joint military exercises between both nations are ample proof that in Orb, at any rate, the current policy of government of the people, for the people, and by the people, strikes a chord between both nations; among the items Minister Ramos will be discussing with the Orb government is a mutual defense pact between Orb and the Equatorial Union. Sources close to the negotiations say that there is a strong possibility of the ratification of this proposed pact, but with Prime Minister Seiran's pro-Earth Alliance stance, and considering the Equatorial Union's revolution against the pro-Earth Alliance Chua regime, denounced by the Seiran government as the overthrowing of legitimate authority, obstacles remain in the way. With the events of Break the World two weeks ago, the geopolitical situation remains unstable, though the Equatorial Union has gained goodwill amongst Earth Alliance nations by its quick disaster response efforts-"

"Turn that damned thing off," grumbled an annoyed Bart Heim, Minerva's sensor operator, glaring at his cards. "Even if you're just kids on a break, you shouldn't watch that crap!"

"Don't take it out on them just because you're losing," murmured Azuma, wearing the slate gray coverall fatigues common to all the Section Nine personnel seated around the table, as Lieutenant Castille dealt the cards to each man around the table: Minerva's CIC officer Chen Zhen Yee, helmsman Malik Yardbirds, Rey Za Burrel and sensor operator Bart Heim; Section Nine's Azuma, of the ground forces, Jack David, one of the Greenland raid Murasame pilots, and a quiet man with his left eye covered by a plastic eyepatch, known only as Saito.

"Hey, look who's talking," retorted Bart, pointing meaningfully at Azuma's woefully diminished pile, smirking as he caught sight of his first card, the Ace of Diamonds. "This time, it's all on me."

"I don't think so," said Saito calmly, gazing at his cards, taking a pull on his cancer stick, before pushing 100,000 in chips forward. Bart's reaction was to narrow his eyes and glare at the observing rookies. "Why haven't you kids turned that crap off yet? This is a serious game! Give us some quiet!" he growled, picking up another card. Good, Ace of hearts. I've got two Aces. Saito is going down.

"Don't take it out on others just because you're losing."

"I'll turn the tables on you, Saito, damnit," replied Bart, and another of the Section Nine pilots snorted in derision.

"You can try," said Jack David dryly. "We've been trying to best Saito for almost two years; what makes you think you can beat him on your what, fourth game?"

"Ah, who cares! He's goin' down. Hey rookies! Quit watching that crap! I'll raise."

"I'll raise too," murmured Saito, picking up the 4 of Diamonds, slotting it next to his Jack of Hearts. "If you have enough concentration, you can ignore the crap the rookies are watching."

Meyrin Hawke shrugged and turned her eyes back to the poker game, lowering the volume. "Well, what else is there to do, besides watching this poker game? Mr. Saito's always winning."

"That's bugged me for a while," admitted Lunamaria. "I mean, in poker, it's basically about predicting the cards, right? It's a game of chance, so why is the same man winning all the time?"

"It's especially strange when you consider that under the rules of this game, all you need to do is to memorize everyone's cards," said Meyrin, gazing at men around the table thoughtfully, "and predict their hand from their first and last cards. There's no reason Mr. Saito should be winning every time, yet he takes all the chips in the end..."

"When you play poker, you don't play your cards, you play the man in front of you," said Castille suavely. "That's how you play poker."

"He's just good at bluffing," growled Bart. "I'll tear down that front of yours soon enough."

"Yeah, this is what they call a poker face," interjected Azuma, pointing at Saito. "Remember that. An expressionless face that hides your emotions and intentions."

"You guys can't do it. Compared to the game of life and death, poker is child's play."

"I'll admit that you're apparently a top-notch sniper," said Bart, recalling the impromptu shooting contest a few days before: on the known distance range, Saito had singlehandedly outshot Minerva's MS team at short, medium and long range... all this despite having only one eye and being a Natural. It was causing no small amount of consternation to the more extreme members of Minerva's crew, who believed in the superiority of Coordinators (and less ideologically, to those crewmen who had been conned by Lieutenants David and Snow into betting against Saito). "Still, your comparison of sniping to poker won't hold water."

"I was once in a one-on-one sniping duel with someone who had me scared shitless," continued Saito, cool and expressionless as ever. "I'd never feared a battle of wits as much as I did in that match." Intense stares were directed to him, everyone unconsciously leaning closer to the one-eyed sniper. "Ever since that match, I've been able to predict the thoughts of most people with a single glance."

"Saito, I find that hard to believe," said Azuma dubiously; then again, he hadn't been in a position to observe Saito in his element during the Greenland raid.

"Who was your opponent?' asked Lunamaria curiously; her interest peaked. She remembered how Saito had effortlessly outshot herself and her teammates; someone who had scared him shitless must have been exceptional.

"You want me to tell the story?" asked Saito, fingering a chip and looking at his cards, before taking a pile of chips and pushing them forward. "I'll talk if everyone calls me."

That got their attention. Bart narrowed his eyes and pushed his pile to the center of the table. "It isn't like I want to hear your story. Don't get me wrong," he warned.

The players pushed their chips toward the center of the table, and Saito took a drag of his cigarette before beginning his story, his gaze far off into the past. "It was around 2 years ago when this happened," he said. "I was sick of Japan, which was enjoying a nihilistic isolationist existence, and caught word of the civil war in the Equatorial Union. You know how the revolutionaries had their Foreign Legion-esque volunteer corps, well the loyalists had their own mercenaries; I joined Red Bianco, a mercenary corps supporting the Chua government. At that time, my left eye was still safe and sound in its socket..."

Oil in the Middle East; drugs in South America, uprising against oppression in the Equatorial Union: conflict is a given in areas where a vested interest exists. Blue Cosmos, weakened by the recently concluded war and Murata Azrael's indiscriminate nuclear bombardment of Orb, was keen to increase their influence in the world. Under the pretense of mutual defense pacts and a security treaty, not unlike the current treaty the Seiran government supports, Blue Cosmos incited the Atlantic Federation and OMNI to effectively take control of the Equatorial Union, changing the status quo from protectorate to outright occupation. That set the stage for the revolution led by Jack Bauer and Richard Chung; bit by bit, the EURM revolutionaries gained ground faster than OMNI could reinforce their garrisons, aided in no small part by the presence of the foreign volunteers - among them notables such as Morgan Chevalier, Sophia DiFalco, and the Grimaldi Falcon himself. The EURM suffered setbacks but kept on advancing steadily, using mobile suits and mechanized infantry to sweep out OMNI and EU troops loyal to Chua.

All my comrades had been eliminated by mechanized troops quickly enough; judging that it was time to call it quits, I was waiting for a good opportunity to surrender. I would have kept to that plan, but it was at that moment that a terminal monitoring enemy communications reported an enemy spec ops team in possession of a tactical nuclear device. Not having made much of an impact up to that point, I decided I should work for my pay, and the thrill of the hunt.

I fully intended to rain terror down on those bastards from God's own vantage point, since they had shown they had the gall to bring a nuclear device into play.

"Waitaminute," began Lunamaria, glaring. "The Equatorial Union revolutionaries didn't use nuclear weapons! They didn't have nukes! No nukes were used during the civil war!"

Saito merely gave her another expressionless look; Bart scowled and Jack twitched. "Could you please just hold your tongue? Who's tellin' the story, you or Saito? Now STFU, I wanna hear the story!"

"That's why you'll never have a poker face, Jack," murmured Saito.

"I'm an ex-Orb Navy fighter jock, I don't need a poker face. Story, damnit!"

Rain falls down as the sky turns gray, while combat boots thud on the ground, fatigue-clad troops moving through the suburb. Rifles held at the ready, the 8-man squad moves in single file; the lead five in the jungle camouflage of the EURM, the other three dressed in urban gray fatigues and black body armor, the leader of the three pausing for a moment, his eyes scanning left and right, falcon like, hands gripping his antique PSG-1 sniper rifle carefully, katana sheathed by his side.

"Something the matter, Boss?" asks the 2nd gray-clad figure, the long antenna of a backpack radio poking out behind his left shoulder.

"No, it's nothing," says Ken DiFalco, the man known and feared as the Grimaldi Falcon, the mysterious Major of Section Nine, pushing back up the tinted wraparound sunglasses he wears, taking a look at the abandoned church and hospital to the west, before picking up the pace.

The team moves through, towards a town square; as the hands on his Rolex watch move closer and closer to 5.00 p.m., synchronized with the clock tower in the town square, Saito makes his move with 15 seconds to the hour. "Bit start," he announces, pulling the bolt back on his SR90 sniper rifle and chambering a round, sighting on the 2nd man in the squad, the man carrying a large black and yellow case. He marks his target and lies in wait, and prepares himself for what is about to happen.

The clock tower gongs sound as the clock strikes 5.00 p.m., startling the squad, who momentarily pause, eyes darting left and right. They've stopped moving, and are right where Saito wants them to be, as he counts the gongs of the clock tower and times his shot: "Three. Four. Five." Squeeze.

The SR90 rifle barks and sends forth its emissary, the round traveling at supersonic velocity, entering the gut and exiting below the hip; the EURM Special Naval Brigade commando falls to the ground like a sack of meat. His death awaits him, a slow painful end. If the medic gets to him now, he'll survive, but his comrades are holding the medic back. This is the oldest trick in the sniper's book: wounding one soldier, and picking off the rest of his fellows as they try to aid him. And medics are prime targets for snipers.

"Sniper! Keep down!" barks the Major, regardless of the fact that he isn't in command of this squad. "Tom," he says, turning to the Section Nine operative behind him, "assume that the sniper is using a satellite feed. Hack the sat and triangulate his position."

"Understood, Major," replies Tom Delany, as he removes their helmet; from his rucksack, Tom pulls out a handheld computer, plugs it into the radio transmitter, and begins typing, eyebrows furrowed in concentration. "He isn't using a sat feed. A long range jammer is active within a one kilometer radius of us."

"Determine the sniper's position by tracing the jammer's transmission point."

"Already on it, Boss."

"You guys are efficient," remarks the third Section Nine operative, a rookie. "Are you guys pros?"

"If you have time to chit-chat, scout for enemies," orders Ken. "We screwed up."

"We have to treat him quickly," pleads the medic, watching red blood stain the ground. "Corporal Mather! Hang in there! Sir, we need to get him!"

"Alright," the EURM team leader nods to the medic. "Ginger, get Mather out of there. We'll cover you. Singh, help Ginger!"

"Racist bastard," mutters Singh, glowering at the Filipino team leader, who ignores him and looks at the gray-clad operatives.

"You Coordinators! Target the west buildings! Everybody else, target the east buildings. Let's go!"

6 rifles begin firing, a mix of full auto and controlled burst, as Ginger runs to Mather and quickly patches him up, Singh covering him. "Can you make it?"

"You'll be fine, Corporal, hang in there! Okay, let's go!" calls Ginger, picking up Mather, ready to drag him to safety... before Saito shoots him in the neck. Singh watches with wide eyes as Ginger's lifeless body falls to the ground, and curses as he turns and fires to the west. "The sniper's in the west! Shoot the west buildings!"

It didn't take long for them to start shooting westwards. None of those rounds hit me, though one did come pretty close, missing my head by an inch. Then again, when you're dealing with a sniper, an inch is as good as a mile.

I'd have to make them wonder for a while more where I was, so I reached down, paused the jamming, and prepared a surprise for them. "Crap in your pants."

Before I'd taken up my position in the hospital, I'd set up an anti-material rifle to the east, replacing the scope with a camera, aiming it at an abandoned car I'd seen. With the jamming killed, I pressed a key and sent the activation code. It worked like a charm. The remote-controlled rifle I'd rigged fired like a charm, and the force of the round sent the car end over end.

That got their attention.

The leader called for a cease-fire and began firing to the east, but then the leader of the gray-clad commandos began arguing at him. Curious, I looked through my scope, and took in his features. He looked... ordinary. Nothing really special, at first glance. Just a brown-haired young man.

I underestimated him to my peril.

"Check fire! Check fire! The sniper is in the west!" yelled the Major, taking off his helmet, his enhanced eyes scanning the area.

"What the hell was that then?" yelled the EURM spec ops leader. "Didn't you see that car get blown up? That was at least a 20mm round! The sniper's in the east! No, more than likely, we're surrounded!"

"Tom, did you triangulate the jamming source?

"Rough estimates only Boss, but I have three spots. One's in an east building. The other two are the church and the hospital."

"Do you think the east building position is a decoy?"

"Probably. The jamming disappeared a split second before the 20mm fired. Besides, it's basic strategy to place the sun at your back."

Ken nodded and turned to the team leader. "That shot from the east is most likely a decoy; the sniper is in the west. We've been engaged from only two directions; if we were surrounded, we'd be taking more fire. There is only one sniper."

"How the hell can you be sure?"

"This is what the situation indicates. I will come to your side after passing through the east building. I'll signal you once I've confirmed the building is empty. Once I give the signal, everyone conduct suppression fire on the hospital and church. Use that opportunity to retrieve Corporal Mather and the tactical nuclear device. Without it, our mission is a failure."

"Alright, go with Singh," orders the leader; Singh merely scowls before running to follow Ken.

"Meeting up via a detour, eh?" mutters Saito, tracking the movements of the two commandos and noting their projected path. "They'll know soon enough that there's no one there. Before that happens, I'll take out someone else."
The rain slowly came to a stop, as the spec ops leader watched the church's bell tower carefully through his binoculars, and he started when he heard the 20mm rifle being dropped behind him; he whirled around to look at the crouching figure of Ken, who hadn't even broken into a sweat.

"As I suspected, this was just a decoy. There was only one round in the magazine. This sniper is good," he said, noting the surprise on the leader's face. "He set an ambush for us and we walked into it. He's smart, but we have the numerical advantage."

"Alright, when I give the signal, concentrate all fire on the church. You go and grab Mather."

"How can you be sure he's in the church? He could be in the hospital. Even excluding the other buildings, because the jamming was cut and we can't confirm the position, we can't dismiss the hospital as a possible sniping point."

"Look at how far away the hospital is! He's in the church!"

"How can you be sure? This is a sniper who engages us while making sure that we can't use GPS or communications. If he's a veteran fighter skilled in the art of war, we'll all be killed."

"This is too complicated," grumbled the Section Nine rookie with ash blonde hair. "Who gives a damn which one it is?"

"Be patient," chided Tom. "Carefulness is the key to survival on the battlefield, not humor. Take a look at the Major. He's what you call a real pro."

Ken continued scanning the hospital with the binoculars he'd grabbed from the EURM team's leader, and he was the only person who didn't flinch or start when the crack of Saito's rifle echoed around, the bullet having killed the EURM commando who was about to fire a recoilless rifle into the hospital. The reactions of the men around the unlucky soldier were reactions of shock and anger, in complete contrast to his controlled tone.

"Got him." Ken's voice was firm and commanding, as he spotted Saito concealing himself. "The enemy's in the hospital! Tom!"

Needing no words, Falcon and his Demon ran to the courtyard as the rest of the team began firing; Tom raised his assault rifle and began firing bursts of suppression fire at the hospital, as Ken sprinted to the fallen Mather. His expression didn't change as he lifted the commando and saw that Mather was dead, and didn't let that stop him from doing his duty; he drew his katana and sliced through Mather's hand, slipping off the handcuffed tac-nuke case. Picking up the pod, he motioned towards Tom, and the latter nodded and continued covering both of them as they made their way back to cover.

"We were too late for the Corporal," said Ken quietly. "At any rate, we've recovered the pod."

"Alright, let's fall back for now. We can't all die here."

"You gotta be kidding! They killed Bakar! We gotta avenge him!"

"We need to retreat and regroup. That's an order!"

"In difficult ground, press on. In encircled ground, devise stratagems. In death ground, fight. Retreating is the wrong decision. No matter what we do, we'll have to deal with the sniper. We can't call for reinforcements since our comms are still out, and attempting to retreat will reduce our numerical superiority. By retreating, we miss the tide of battle. We press on."

"That's right, we still outnumber him. He shot our friends!" yelled Singh. "Are we just gonna let him get away with that?"

"Alright, let's do this." He swallows, and then slowly, reluctantly, asks Ken: "What do we do now, Major?"

"When I saw them, I knew something was wrong. They didn't panic, they were regrouping: the sign of a good commanding officer. I realized that the final battle was drawing near. The tension shot up, and I could feel my adrenalin level rising on the cellular level. When you kill each other on the battlefield, you can't tell who killed whom. But there is one exception to this rule, and that is a sniper. The very act of sniping comes with a calling card. That's why snipers can't become POWs. As the hated enemy who killed their buddies and commanding officers, snipers are fated to be killed on the spot."
The depleted group moves closer to the hospital, leapfrogging through what little cover there is, approaching the hospital, getting closer and closer to where Saito is holed up. The EURM team leader has taken point, and moves ahead, tacnuke slung across his back, poking his head up from a piece broken wall, looking back at Tom, who has appropriated the recoilless rifle. "Once you fire a recoilless round in there, pump the place full of smoke grenades! We'll storm the hospital under the cover of the smoke! Alri-" He raises his head some more and is about to move, when Saito shoots him in the neck, and he falls back, dead.

"Damn bastard!" snarls the Section Nine rookie, firing his light machine gun at the hospital, while Tom raises the recoilless rifle and fires it at the hospital wall; the 84mm projectile spirals up and impacts into the hospital, sending shockwaves and dust falling throughout the ruined building. All remaining commandos fire smoke grenades from their grenade launchers, following up with suppression fire, watching as the smoke billows up and about, and as soon as the smoke spreads out far enough, Ken dashes forward, Singh right behind him. "Singh and I will storm the hospital. Cover me!"

"Damn, why do I have to be backup?" mutters Batou in disgust.

"Congratulations," says Tom. "You've earned the Boss' trust."

It was a race against time and death. The white smoke would hide Ken and Singh from Saito's rifle: no sniper could hit at what he couldn't see. But they had to get to the smoke to be safe, and no human had ever moved faster than a rifle round…

Until now.

Saito raised his rifle and sighted through the scope, and felt a flicker of surprise as Ken dashed through his sights, faster than he'd expected, even while wearing body armor and combat gear. Saito didn't waste any time on speculation, immediately switching to his alternate target and squeezing the trigger. His shot was true, and Singh fell limply to the floor. Batou's response was to return fire with his LMG, but he only managed a single burst before it jammed.

"That's enough," said Tom quietly. "Leave it to the Boss. He'll take care of everything."

"The Boss? What's up with him, being called Boss and shit? Who the hell is he?"

Tom's reply was a small, enigmatic smile. "He's a genius of combat, a master of the blade and himself. He won't lose."

Ken's footsteps echoed through the ruined hospital as he ran up the stairs to the top floor, pausing at the end of the stairwell. Using a mirror he peered around the corner, making a quick scan of the top floor, nothing the missing ceiling, puddles of water, cracks in the floor, and the jamming device set in a far corner, hidden in shadows. Across the floor, crouched up against a pillar, Saito loaded a fresh magazine into his SR90 and pulled the bolt back.

Pulling a thin wire from the PSG-1's scope, Ken attached it to his wraparound shades and pressed a button on his belt, and quickly calibrated the holographic HUD projected into his wraparound tinted glasses, synchronizing the rifle and targeting pipper, ignoring the draining water that ran down his hair into his eyes. He flipped the safety off, took a calming breath, and moved.

His speed took Saito by surprise, moving faster than any Natural could hope to move. Seeing that speed through a scope was one thing; seeing it in front of you was another. In one swift deadly movement, Ken moved out from cover and fired three quick rounds into the exposed jamming device, destroying it. Saito whirled to the side, stepping out of cover, rifle raised to aim at Ken's unprotected head…

And then his eyes widened and he pivoted back behind the pillar, his breathing ragged and unsteady, sweat trickling down his shocked face

"Upon confronting the Major, in that moment that was less than a second, I imagined the conclusion and felt a chill of fear. It was a conclusion my experience as a sniper arrived at after considering all possible variables and conclusions: 'I will be killed.' From his stance, the way he held his rifle at his waist, how he was totally still, I immediately understood that he was a Coordinator. I could see the glow of the heads-up display in his glasses, and knew that he was wearing a Land Warrior setup. In addition, his rifle was semi-automatic with a computerized full-sensing scope. He would then of course have targeting control software for long, medium and close range installed.

"I tried firing a shot at the Major in my imagination," continued Saito, his poker face as secure as when the game had started. "The Major will shoot down my first shot; I, with my bolt-action rifle, will get hit by his second shot while trying to re-conceal myself behind the pillar. No matter how many times I ran the simulation, it was the same result."

"But you couldn't have let the situation continue!" blurted out Meyrin, leaning forward, and Saito nodded to her.

"Yeah. If I had let the situation continue, I would have been killed anyway. I desperately tried to think of how I could turn the tables. Then I noticed something. It was the jamming device the Major had shot. Why did the major destroy this first, even using three shots to do it? 'Wait, could it be that he doesn't have medium-range targeting software installed? Yes, that must be it. Even though he's a sniper, he had his rifle use a shorter barrel. That's because he has decided to use the rifle act as a submachine gun at medium range. If so, to snipe me at this medium range, he needs the targeting software. Is he in the middle of downloading the targeting software from the satellite?' "

"Let it be in time!" urges Saito, as he leans around the pillar and fires. The round travels at supersonic velocity, more than three times the speed of sound. The Major's reaction is to fire a single round from his PSG-1, and move imperceptibly to the side; both boat-tailed rounds cross their flight paths and speed toward their targets: Saito's round grazes the side of Ken's HUD shades; Ken's round travels through Saito's scope, exiting in a shower of glass that is driven into his left eye. He falls to the pillar, hand covering his eye, as Ken dashes forward.

The wounded sniper pulls out his pistol with his left hand and tries to fire, but Ken is too fast; a quick chop to Saito's left hand causes him to drop his pistol, and Ken grabs the hand and slams it up against the wall, nailing it there with a combat knife, and Saito hisses in pain.

"You have good skills. I want you to join my command."

Saito looks up at him in disbelief. "From the very beginning, you-" and then his voice trails off, before closing his eyes and exhaling deeply.

"Lesson Eighteen: If the beast cannot be slain, tame it, and set it against your other enemies." The small curving of Ken's lips could almost have been a smile. "Lesson Thirty-eight: Only seldom is true surprise achieved in battle; usually, it is simply that the commander misinterprets what he's seen all along."

"Yes, I was deceived by the Major's poker face from the very beginning. I had no right to refuse; that was his first order to me, afterall." He gazed at the faces around the table, at Lunamaria and Meyrin who were sitting on the edge of their seats, and nodded to Castille. "Deal me my last card."

"That was an interesting story," said Bart, picking up his card, his expression changing to a fierce smirk. "But it has nothing to do with this game. I'm all in!" he added, looking at the two Kings and four Aces he held in his hand.

"I'll call," murmured Saito coolly. Ten, Jack, Queen, and King of Spades.

"Don't play tough. This time, you can't bluff your way through," replied Bart eagerly. "You're going for a Royal Flush of Spades, aren't you? But you've got rags! I know, because I have the Ace of Spades," he gloated, tossing down his cards on the table. "You have no chance of winning. And besides, that story just now was a lie, wasn't it? It was an interesting story, but there was an old movie that had a similar plot."

"Yeah, that's right," agreed Saito amiably, shuffling his cards. "I made it all up."

"Really?!" gasped Meyrin. "Say it isn't so!"

Saito merely closed his eye and stood up, folding his cards face down on the table, walking to where a bulky keypad-locked rifle case was placed at the foot of the table. "I'll let you guys go for today. Castille, cash me out, okay?"

"Heh," smirked Bart unpleasantly. "Got embarrassed, eh? Hey, rookie, I want it all in advance."

"You're a really demanding guy," muttered Azuma sourly, turning to his chips.

"I wonder if Mr. Saito really had rags," mused Meyrin, walking to the table and picking up the cards, and then she gasped in excitement. "Look, look! Is this good?"

"Bloody hell. Straight Flush with a Nine of Spades. Damn good. He just beat everyone's hand," breathed Malik Yardbirds, awed, as Jack, Azuma and Castille shared a moment of mutual bemusement at the shock and awe among the Minerva crew, including a stunned and subdued Bart Heim.

"Then, that story just now…" her voice trailing off, Meyrin turned to look behind her as Saito walked out of the room.

"Could it be…"

Dividual 1 FIN
To be continued...

Notes: Several notes that I'm putting in here, because there was no way I could put them in. Savvy GitS:SAC viewers will recognize where this fic came from, as well as the origins of the title. First off, the full-sensing scope that Ken used. In the GitS movie and manga, as well as where Kusanagi shows up with a WA2000, Section 6 uses sniper rifles equipped with full-sensing scopes: these are computerized scopes that can be used with the naked eye and plugged into a cyberbrain jack. Since Ken didn't have a cyberbrain, I improvised a replacement. I'm showing Ken here as a sniper; Solid's done an excellent job of showing Ken DiFalco, swordsman, so it's my turn to attempt Ken DiFalco, sniper.

The Land Warrior rig that Ken was wearing and which I didn't elaborate on is based off the US Army's Land Warrior program. Anyone who's played Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter will know what I'm talking about. Think the GRAW rig, but with the miniaturization and improvement that comes after about 100 years or so, give or take a few decades.

No, the PSG-1 cannot be used as an SMG. Saito's confused it with the G3 from which the PSG-1 was derived from.

The tacnuke was an OMNI tacnuke being recovered for use as proof of OMNI's evil. Remember, Saito is on the side of the bad guys during the EU Civil War; for more details on the Civil War, read Rebellion. It's in my favorites, along with Solid's.

And thus ends my first foray into the world of Gundam SEED (laughs). I'd like to thank Solid and Ominae for letting me play in their universes, and for creating such worlds in the first place, as well as Cry of the Falcon, Solid's retelling of Destiny. (Which I think is better than Destiny canon, but hell, almost anything is better than canon Destiny.) And yes, there will be a sequel to Poker Face… and it'll be a lot more involved with Cry of the Falcon that this one is.

This is Goose, signing off. (Ignore the 01 at the end of my name. I prefer Goose.)