Welcome to the world...
where the right of way belongs to those with the biggest guns
where killing is ok, as long as it is not premeditated
where most of the world's food supply is divided into an edible species of algae,
fruits and vegetables grown in hydroponic vats,
and an experimental breed of grain made within a small town in the American Midwest
with the potential to feed the rest of the world,
where chaos is just a step away from your front door and your own survival depends on
your wits and weaponry.
Welcome to Anime Car Wars.
Chapter 1 – The Die is Cast
The City of Boise, a fortress-town in the south-western part of Idaho, that lies on a broad flat plain that descends to the west and was bordered by foothills from the north-east to the southeastern end of the city limits.
The said city's fourteen inch reinforced concrete fortress walls reach out as far south as the southern part of the Bench and as north as North Hill Road and even branched out into Interstate 84 at the western end.
Its southeastern wall had gone lightly past the Eastern End where the intersection of I-84, Idaho 21, and Federal Way to ensure a safe passage into the town itself from either of the roadways.
As for its southwestern wall, it had bordered Gowen Road just past the old Gowen Field Air National Guard base.
Its eastern wall had come across Warm Springs Ave and its gate was just a few miles northeast of the end of its southeastern wall.
All in all, the city-fortress of Boise is one of the largest among the city-fortresses and was one of the Rocky Mountain strongholds and haven for weary travelers in the Pacific Northwest.
Near the Gowen Field Air National Guard base is the Boise White Ridge Arena where the Northwestern Rocky Mountain Autoduel Demolition Derby Elimination Finals was about to be staged in two days' time.
The arena itself had taken a large part of the Gowen Airfield beside it and it is filled by bleachers surrounding the arena itself that could seat five thousand at maximum capacity.
The bleachers are protected by a ten meter titanium mesh that surrounds the arena proper itself. There are also driveways leading to the pits near the city walls with the frontage becoming mostly ticket offices and parking buildings for the spectators, management, and staff.
Within one of those pits is a certain agent of Mithril who was given a chance to rest and comeback to his professional dueling life until he was needed again.
The said agent was at the moment, reaching into his duel car's engine compartment and trying to make his vehicle's back up voltage regulator to pump up some more juice for the said car's four wheel electric motors from the main power plant.
The gray Aston Martin Vanquish was basking under the four overhead fluorescent lights that were placed in specified portions of the pit itself to provide illumination to the whole room.
On the car's right was the shelves for the tools and small diagnostic equipment for the various gadgets and parts of the power plant. On the left are cabinets for the spare parts and built in metal compartments of the maintenance bots of the MTB and BRS series.
One of the shorter walls (the one farthest from the doors) were framed with digital screens that when turned on would show either numbers and graphs from the diagnostic equipment, more numbers and graphs from the racetrack mainframes, programs from the local cable, and finally, images from cameras outside in case of sudden attacks.
There was also a small changing room for the driver, mechanics (if available) or the owner, although in this case, Sousuke Sagara was all three.
The last wall held the human sized door for the drivers and crew with a larger garage door for the duel vehicle itself.
"Al, is the voltage regulator now providing more than sufficient electrical energy to the wheel motors?" The agent was asking while manually calibrating the said regulator's diodes and transistors with his gloved hands.
"Negative, Sousuke." The AI of the Arbalest then answered by means of the car's interior speakers. "I can say with outmost certainty that the present components could not be adjusted to achieve a superior performance that you wished as they were not made to regulate a voltage of that measure."
"Hmm, I think I need a break for now." The black haired twenty year old spoke with a sigh as he had retrieved his upper body from the tight confines in between the flywheel and the starter engine that starts up the flywheel and provides extra power when needed. "Al, be on standby and if you can, research whatever part do we need to reach the 42 volt threshold."
"Understood," the robotic voice then answered almost immediately as hood was brought down to a close with a soft thump. "Anything else?"
"None, I'll be back in an hour or two." The Mithril agent then walked towards the door and programmed the pit to be on lock-down mode with the electronic lock also activated until he came back. "Goodbye, Al."
Sousuke then walked a few blocks towards his favorite hangout of late – the Piston Ring Bar after leaving the arena at around eleven in the morning.
From the outside, the bar seemed to be an ordinary building with a sloped roof, tall walls with some windows giving both illumination and ventilation.
An aluminum chimney with some holes was seen protruding through the sloped orange terracotta tiles that themselves were bordered by aluminum gutters at the edge of their eaves.
The concrete walls were also reinforced to repel bullets of various calibers thus the damage could only be seen in the numerous bullet holes that would later be filled over and covered with dark brown paint.
The windows themselves were bulletproof and photosensitive to ensure the needed illumination at the various times of day.
Sousuke had come to the bar most often to forget about his break up with his ex-girlfriend – Kaname Chidori who was currently working as clerk at the Uncle Al's Gunnery Shop in Kansas City, Nebraska.
He had also eaten his lunch there so as not to walk too far or take a cab just to eat lunch in other restaurants. Thus, the bartender – Atsunobu Hayashimizu has the waitresses like Ren Mikihara buy some boxed lunches for the famished duelist.
This time, our young mercenary was more thirsty and in need of something to cool his anxieties at the coming dueling event. This would be the reason why he was eating a large bowl of ramen with a cold mug of algaebrew on one side and another mug full of water on the other.
He was still talking with Atsunobu on where he could find a voltage regulator that fits a 42 volt line when a ruckus nearby had made them pause and forget about their subject matter.
That particular ruckus was Ren being bothered by a bunch of rowdy locals who had one too many algaebrews under their belts.
The mercenary let out a long sigh as scenes like this were expected in public places especially bars, no matter how aboveboard they may be.
It was too bad that the bar's five bouncers were taken by Eric Newell, the bar's owner for a three day symposium and bazaar for security people in Black Rock, they were surely needed now.
Sousuke then stood up and slowly approached the table where the rowdy ruff boys were keeping Ren hostage. Atsunobu had stayed in the bar with his delicate hands hidden under the counter, where a SPAS-15 was locked and loaded.
One of the goons, a well-known biker gang leader that was a rated a terror in the highways towards North Dakota had asked him. "Whaddya want, Shrimp?"
"I was wondering when you would let the young lady go so she could go on with her work," the mercenary replied simply, his brown eyes darting and sizing up his probable opponent if a fight were inevitable.
"Well, she would if we'd like ta." One of the other goons said with sly smile. "So how about you head on down the road and pick up your own girl."
"Hey, Sousuke." Ren then spoke up as she was still holding the tray with one mug of algaebrew sitting on it. "Would you let me serve just one more 'brew before I go?"
"Sure," the mercenary said with a nod, mentally calculating his next moves for the next minute. "He seems to be thirsty anyway."
"Thanks, Sousuke." Ren then grabbed the mug and splashed it at the gang leader. "Time to go."
The goon had answered Sousuke earlier had tried to grab the girl only to be sneakily tripped by the mercenary and fell into one of his drunken buddies, their heads hitting each other.
"You're gonna pay, Shirmp." The biker leader had tried vainly to punch the mercenary, but he was much too blinded by the algaebrew in his eyes and hit yet another of his laughing buddies in the face. "Gotcha."
"Youse got me, Roger." The large biker retorted while giving his leader a right cross in the face. "Put on glasses next time you punch someone."
"Don't call me, Roger." The biker answered as he had stood up and even gave his fellow biker a leg sweep. "Also, you punch like a girl, Algernon."
It was around this time that some of the local lumberjacks was getting bored of the fight and thus threw the four bikers out of the bar along with their friends.
Outside, the said bikers were met by a rival gang and thus a full-fledged fistfight/free for all was underway as all of them had their hand weapons confiscated and their bikes' weapons were temporary disabled.
"Thank you for the help everyone." Atsunobu then said to the crowd who were more interested in just watching the autoduels on TV rather than hold their own rumble inside their favorite hangout. "For tonight, you can get a free beer tower for each table. The boss himself said so."
Cheers had erupted at the good news that was given and waitresses then carried beer towers to the grateful customers who started filling up their iced mugs one by one while yelling for their favorite duelist.
"And as for you, hero, take this." The silver haired bartender then slipped the mercenary a piece of paper with some numbers on it. "You can call the boss there and ask anything you wanted to know."
"Thanks, Mister Hayashimizu." Sousuke then said as he had taken the note and kept it in his green shirt pocket before coming back to his ramen. "I'll call him later."
After finishing his ramen, the black haired young man then drank his water and the remaining algaebrew before leaving the bar altogether.
Seeing that his lunch break was over, Sousuke then made his way back to the pit without knowing any way of improving the voltage regulator to increase the voltage from thirty to forty two and thus provide more power to the wheel motors.
He then made a mental note to visit the library in town to conduct his own research as he made his way back to the pit.
After walking for a good ten minutes through the sidewalk, passing small business and light traffic, the mercenary finally arrived at the arena.
He then showed his ID to the guard and written his name in the logbook. After being cleared, Sousuke then continued on towards his pit passing by the other pits where the other duelists had come back from their choices of restaurants to eat during their lunch break.
It was then that he had noticed that the door leading to his pit was slightly ajar. Not so much to be noticeable from ordinary passersby, but for a duelist and more so for a mercenary, it was plain obvious.
Sousuke then drew his Sigsaurer P226 X-6 Lightweight from his waist holster and immediately put his back to the wall as careful as possible to make little to no noise in the process.
The mercenary then walked sideways until he had reached the door and used his shoulder to push the door away as he made his way in with his raised weapon held in a double grip.
"Freeze," Sousuke then yelled in the darkness as he had moved his pistol in an arc before freeing his left hand to grasp the wall to his right where the light switch was laid out. "Raise your hands in the air."
The scene that our hero saw instead made him holster his pistol and slap his left palm to his face.
A good two meters in front of him stood his immediate superior Sergeant Major Melissa Weber -Mao and his fellow squad mate Sergeant Kurz Weber. Both Mithril members were holding a three feet by six feet plastic banner that said – "Good luck, Sousuke" in large and bold red letters.
"Hey, Sousuke." Kurz said with an airy tone. "We were supposed to surprise you. Boy, were we surprised instead."
Sousuke had massaged the bridge of his nose at the fact that he would have killed his friends if he had let his instincts fully take over before shutting and locking the door. "Are you here to cheer me in the coming in the Derby or are we in a mission?"
"Actually, it's both." Melissa then replied as she and Weber had neatly folded and laid the banner over one of the tire cabinets. "In about three hours' time, Belfangan and a special guest will arrive here so we can proceed with our mission."
"So what is our new mission then?"
"Well, you will be taking our special guest to the Alpine Algae manufacturing plant in Seattle, Washington by eight in the morning."
"That's it?" Sousuke was stupefied to learn the simplicity of the mission so he asked again. "Are there any complications with this mission that I should be aware of?"
"Well, there is that crackpot group of tree huggers known as Green Circle and our guest is important in a sense to foil their latest attempt of terrorism." The Chinese woman of twenty five then answered with a shrug. "Their threat level is a step higher than yellow yet thankfully; their numbers were much too few to make it to red."
"I understand," Sousuke then spoke up with a nod. "I think I will use the remaining time to prepare for the mission. Also, thank you in advance for cheering me in the Derby. I really do appreciate your moral support."
"Think nothing of it, Sousuke." Kurz said after pulling up a metal box from a larger cardboard one near the rear door. "We'll use the time here to upgrade Arbalest's voltage regulator with the new model from the labs. I've heard that it could raise the voltage capacity to about forty two volts or even higher with some tinkering."
Sousuke's eyes had widened at the solution to his own problem only hours before and thus hugged his big sister figure and saying thank you.
"Like Kurz said, think nothing of it as both the Arbalest and the Altron will be given the upgrades anyway this week." The older woman said while returning the hug. "So go and get ready as time wouldn't be on our side once you and the Arbalest get moving."
Sousuke then let go and walked briskly towards the door and later towards the gate of the arena as he only had less than three hours to prepare for his mission and every minute counts.
Rather than use his cellphone that could be tracked down, Sousuke had used a payphone in the corner of to call Ernie Newell through the number that his silver haired friend had given him.
It had taken three rings before a raspy voice was heard in the receiver. "Hello?"
"Is this Ernie Newell, owner of the Piston Bar?"
"Yes, I am he but there is no need for the last part though." The voice replied with a short chuckle. "I've learned from Atsunobu that you helped Ren out of a tight spot so thanks for that."
"It was not a problem as she is a friend of mine," Sousuke then added. "May I ask a few questions?"
'Of course, my boy." Ernie said with a hint of amusement in his tone. "Ask away."
"Thank you," the young mercenary then said. "Do you know anything about Green Circle?"
Ernie's voice had dropped to a hoarse whisper as he said. "Be careful on saying anything about that group, they may be considered as mostly harmless eco-nuts, but they have a faction that can do anything and I mean anything."
"I see," Sousuke then took a few seconds to think about his next question, something that would steer the conversation to safer waters. "How about the quickest route towards Seattle then?"
"Ah, well there is the I-80 to Pendleton, then north to McNary Dam. I think its Route 37, but just check the signs to be sure. After passing the dam, you could turn left to I-82 until Ellensberg where you could jump to I-90 and continue on to Seattle itself."
"Ah yes, thank you." The twenty year old was about to put down the receiver when Ernie then said. "Almost forgot, in I-82 after the dam and a town called Kenniwick, the road is a mess due to some unfinished construction work. Oh and if you're going to Uncle Albert, tell the salesman Account number 317, it's my reciprocal account with them and since I'm not much of an autoduelist, you could use it today in my stead"
"Thank you," Sousuke then said while slowly putting the receiver back in its hook. "Goodbye, Mr. Newell."
"Goodbye, kid." Ernie said with a chuckle. "Oh and tell Borda that I said hi. That old goat needs to come down to my bar so we could talk like we used to."
"Wait, you know that I'm from Mithril?"
"Well, duh." Ernie added with a deeper chuckle. "I also cater to Mithril once or twice when they're in the neighborhood. Besides, I've been a merc myself before I retired and put up this business."
"I understand," Sousuke had finally realized why the owner had agreed to let him eat his lunch there from the start. "Again, thank you."
The black haired merc then put down the receiver and hailed a cab for the AADA offices that were in Broadmoor Drive about a mile or two away.
The cab ride was short but also peaceful as traffic was light for a Saturday early afternoon. Sousuke had paid the fare once he had gotten off the cab and sneaked a look at his destination.
The American Autoduel Association has acted as a combination of elite driver club, lobby group, and support organization all rolled in one. It has branches everywhere in United States 2 including one here in Boise.
Considering that Boise by itself was a crossroad to the northwest, the association itself had made the office from a storefront composed of two secretaries and an office for the branch manager to a two story building with a storefront of its own along with a kitchen and two public toilets and six offices plus two toilets on the second floor.
The storefront has a plexiglass as its facade with seats for the customers while they wait for their turn to be called by the five tellers that handle the traffic of duelists that ask for various services.
The two shorter walls on the right and left were given bright green wallpaper to make the room seem brighter than it was and one of the walls has a heater/air conditioning unit that keeps the temperature of the large room comfortable.
The five tellers were sitting behind a long divider with a Plexiglas glass screen that kept them safe from attackers that would break in the office.
In addition, there were two security guards armed and armored standing at the door that had frisked our hero for bombs or listening devices.
Sousuke then sat down in one of the couches as he waited for his number that was given to him by the second guard to be called via the intercom speakers overhead.
After waiting for a good ten minutes, it was Sousuke's turn as he headed for booth number three. The kind teller then asked for his AADA card before inserting the said card in a slot before waiting for the card reader to finish scanning the said card.
"Ah, you are Mister Sosuke Sagara, am I right?" The young woman behind the Plexiglas said with a sweet smile that showed the slight glitter in her eyes. "How may I help you?"
The young mercenary only gave a slight nod and a grunt at the first question before adding. "I would like to request some information about Green Circle."
There were a few gasps from around him, but Sousuke did not care as knowing more about his potential enemy was important before taking a mission.
The girl had kept her right hand on her ample chest to calm herself down upon hearing the said group as it was open knowledge that a faction of theirs were almost identified in every terroristic act.
Yet it was thanks to their high powered lawyers and ability to destroy important evidence linking them to the crimes, they were either never arrested or let off with a slap in the wrist.
The girl whose name patch had put her name as Mildred had asked the Mithril operative to wait for a few minutes while she left her post.
She then opened a door at the right side of the booths and led him to the second floor of the building. They had climbed the two flights of stairs and turned right before walking to the third door on their right, making small talk along the way to mask their nervousness.
The girl then knocked four times before a muffled voice responded by saying "Come in."
"Sir, this is Sousuke Sagara." Mildred then said while opening the door slightly and leaning in. "He would like to see you about Green Circle."
"I see," the baritone voice said from further inside the room. "Send him in please."
"Yes, Sir." The red head then said before leaning back and telling Sousuke. "You can enter now."
Sousuke then nodded and waited for the teller to leave him, but was surprised for Mildred to give him a quick kiss on his left cheek where a scar from one of his missions before running towards the stairs, hands in cheeks.
He then looked at the older man who was sitting on the desk who was smiling from ear to ear. The man then motioned for the mercenary with wrinkled hands to come in.
Sousuke did so and had to squint at the brightness of the room not to mention the large bulletproof glass bay window behind the man himself.
"Sorry, I'll close the curtains now."
The sun's glare had considerably lessened after the curtains in a dark shade of red had covered the whole window. Even then with only the elegant chandelier providing illumination, the whole room still was a bit too bright for him.
"It is a nice room, is it not?" The man was now making small talk to calm the younger man down as it was obvious that he was tense about something. "Take a look around, I can wait."
The said statement had gotten Sousuke's full attention and thus made a quick inspection of the manager. The said man had worn glasses and has brown hair with some grey at the sideburns, his square jawed face looked wrinkled and yet there was a gleam on his light green eyes.
The man's grey suit screamed elitist, yet it would seem that his stance did not support such a way of life. His large hands were also scarred as if he had done plenty of hard jobs before taking his present position. This fact was brought home since the man's body was still rock solid underneath the three piece suit.
The room itself, albeit bright was well furnished with articles of famed autoduelists that were bordered in elegant wooden frames. There were also paintings of contemporary artists and some plants that not only provide some contrast to the room's furnishings but also filter the room in a way.
Of course, there were hidden cameras hidden in the chandelier and in some of the frames of the paintings, but other than those, the room was not as different as any other office room in the (Twenty) Thirties.
After giving his host and his office a look over, Sousuke finally sat down on the seat in front of the oak desk that the manager was using.
Looking pleased that the mercenary had finally calmed down, the man then said. "Before anything else, please be reminded that our conversation will be recorded at the behest of our superiors back in Austin as terrorist groups are very sensitive issues for our esteemed organization."
"I understand," Sousuke answered with a short nod before glancing at the finely crafted elongated pyramid shaped name plate chipped from marble near his left elbow. "To begin with, how could I tell if Green Circle is in the area?"
"The only distinguishing feature that Green Circle have are the black with green trim paint on their vehicles," the older man whose nameplate was written as Gerald Knickenbacker – Station Manager of AADA in Idaho. "They were painted that way to let their fellow members and maybe even select victims on who they are."
"I see," Sousuke said with a nod. "Quite arrogant of them to do so, but at least it works in our favor."
"Yes, but even then utmost care should be taken to ensure that your life would not be taken as these group of loonies are still formidable in pairs or groups in which they hunt their victims."
"I will remember that," Sousuke said before standing up and shaking the hand of Gerald. "Thank you for giving me the bits of information that I will certainly need on my way to Seattle."
"It is my pleasure," Gerald said with a wide smile. "And remember, Drive Offensively."
Sousuke then left the office and headed down both the hallway and stairs with a gait of a young man who had rediscovered his sense of being.
Once back at the ground floor, the mercenary had continued on towards the divider where another staff member had unlocked and even pushed open the door leading towards the lobby.
The young man then waved at the older janitor before continuing on towards the outer door. He was then frisked briefly by the guards before going out of the street.
He had thought that he had seen a brief flash in the direction of the adjacent street, but had shaken it off as just his imagination.
The Mithril operative then waited for a cab after crossing the street and conveniently, one such yellow taxi had stopped just in front of him.
"Where to, Mac?" The toothless driver of the cab said with a wide grin. "I'll take ya anywhere except past the city walls."
"Uncle Al's please," Sousuke said succinctly. "I need to be out of town for a few days."
"Ah, yes." The large man said with a shrug that raised the sleeves of his brown leather vest slightly. "Well, consider yerself there, Mac. These days, everyone's askin' fer trouble out there."
"Of course," the younger man replied with a slight nod. "It is best to be prepared for any emergencies."
The cab had gotten through a few blocks south before stopping at the large warehouse like complex that covered good two or three blocks of prime real estate.
Our hero then alighted from the cab after paying for his fare. He then made his way towards the complex and entered.
From one could see outside, it looked like any ordinary structure with a few windows and air conditioners protruding from the brightly colored walls with splashes of blue and red to provide contrast.
Above the main entrance, a large neon sign had filled up most of the empty space with a familiar face on its upper right corner, the mustached squinty-eyed man with a three piece suit and a railroad cap on his head.
In the large space that occupied most of the sign were the words – "Uncle Albert's Auto Stop and Gunnery Shop".
To keep it from being attacked by two bit hoods, the building itself had a vast array of hidden weapons and cameras that were accessed and controlled from a room deep inside the building.
In addition, the main entrance had four armored and well-armed guards frisking and guiding the customers through a metal detector after disarming them. The customers' hand weapons were then carried to a special counter where the items were kept and even cleaned and reloaded for a price.
Further in, Sousuke had seen many stalls giving various products and services lined up along the walls before ending in the shop proper. These had ranged from jalapeño flavored ice cream to body piercing to Gold Cross insurance card premiums.
Sousuke did make a mental note to check if he had paid for his own purchased premiums back in Chicago before shaking his head back to the present day and continuing inside as the young woman behind him was about to tap his left shoulder.
The crowd for this day was quite light, being a Tuesday, and the hot air coming from the numerous vents had kept the temperature a bit higher than outside. Sousuke actually thought of taking off his leather gloves while he was in the building, but thought better of it as he did have his spare driving gloves back in the pit.
After rummaging his pockets for a list, Sousuke then hit his forehead with his palm upon remembering his personal digital assistant where he had typed his list of needed items to be bought for the mission.
He then looked for a salesman who could help him find his would be purchases to save time as he had only two hours left before leaving and he needed the extra hour to get himself and the Arbalest ready just one more time.
He had looked past aisles filled with various types of small bore ammunition in one row to rockets of all types in another. There were also aisles were dropped weapons were placed in steel racks that tower over the buyers and had to be assisted in order to get the items into their shopping carts.
People were also rushing about, pushing carts and pulling kids, sometimes doing both things at the same time. There were also people holding plastic baskets in the crooks of their arms as they search for their purchases.
Everything was made visible by the rows of fluorescent lamps that run through the ceiling that were interspersed in the white ceiling to maximize the lighting effects and make things brighter without resorting to adding even more lamps.
After walking briskly for a few minutes, passing aisles and people alike, Sousuke had finally found a salesman who had just finished assisting another customer.
The young man's name was Daisuke Ono and he was an old hand in giving Uncle Al's customers what they wanted.
"Hi, I am Daisuke and welcome to Uncle Al's." The brown haired young man said with his right hand raised for a handshake. "I will assist you in purchasing our wonderful products so that you could come back and buy from us again."
The mercenary had to so smirk inwardly at the sales pitch that he had heard from other salesmen hundreds of times and then made a mental note to send a better sales pitch by e-mail much later.
Out loud, Sousuke then said. "I would like two boxes of Gauss Gun ammunition along with two boxes of smokescreen charges. Oh, maybe three magazines of Colt .45 Autos and one magazine for a Glock 41 Auto as well. Plus a spare set of improved body armor, make that two."
"No machine gun ammo?" Daisuke then asked as he knew that almost every duel car has to have a machine gun even as a backup weapon while writing on his notepad through his pen that he usually hid behind his left ear.
"Oh yes, I'll need four boxes of machine gun ammo as well, high density." Sousuke said after a minute. "Also, I would be using Account 317 along in purchasing the items."
"Got it," the taller brunet said with a nod while making another note in his held pad. "Please wait here while I get a cart."
The mercenary only nodded and continued to reconnoiter the place while examining a new weapon on display in the display stand in front of him.
The said weapon was a Heavy sonic cannon and it worked by using concentrated sound waves as weapons to give ordinary pedestrians an earful or break up even vehicular armor at nearly point blank range as much as twenty yards in test conditions. This one has also been modified to use tight beams in order to increase its range.
After Sousuke had finished reading the brochure that was pasted on the stand where the weapon was placed, the salesman had come back with a large aluminum cart that he was pushing with both hands.
Together, both men had picked up various boxes of ammunition and two sets of improved body armor in their respective aisles before joining the other customers in the cashier lanes.
It was there that both Daisuke and Sousuke then parted ways with the mercenary readying his autobank card from Bank of America.
The mercenary then pulled out a newspaper from its rack near him as he waited for his turn. He had flipped pages and pushed his cart for a few inches in the span of fifteen minutes before it was his turn with the cashier.
Sousuke then paid for his purchase while getting a twenty percent discount thanks to the account that he had borrowed.
He then pushed the cart with the boxes and paper bags towards the exit before being frisked once again by the guards.
Outside, Sousuke had once again felt that he was being watched and sure enough, a guy that was checking his text seemed to have his phone moved once or twice slowly while looking in his general direction.
The mercenary then hailed a cab and told him to head for the airship field. He then texted a secret message for Melissa about a tail.
Once the cab and the tailing cycle had arrived in the airport, Sousuke made his way towards the men's restroom outside the terminal building along with his packages in another cart while his tail was arrested by the Boise police force for illegal possession of firearms.
After relieving himself and getting a text that the tail was taken out, Sousuke then boarded a second cab and continued on towards his pit after buying a print out of the NANS e-news.
The cab had arrived at the pit only five minutes later and a tired mercenary had to be helped by his friends who were waiting for him at the gate while pushing yet another pushcart.
While making their way towards the pit itself, Sousuke had asked about the progress of the new voltage regulator and Melissa said with a wave of her left hand that he need not concern himself about the little things.
Around them, other duelists and their crew had come back to their own pits and started to prepare their own machines for the upcoming duel with whatever resource they had at their disposal.
Each pit was by itself a beehive of activity with duelists, mechanics, engineers, and their hired help running around their duel vehicles and scrounging around for parts or comparing notes.
The trio of mercenaries had gotten inside their own pit after pushing the cart inside. The said cart was then taken by two of Mithril's hired help and it was pushed further inside where its contents were either loaded to the car or in the pit's stock room for storage.
"Sergeant Sagara, you're still late by two minutes." A gruff voice was heard saying from the left side of the Arbalest. "It is best that you change to your armor immediately before we start the briefing."
Sousuke was caught by surprise by the sudden order from his new superior – Lieutenant Belfangan Cloussou. "I'm sorry for the delay, Sir."
The youngest mercenary then left for his dressing room to put on his armor over his black T-shirt and gray jeans. As soon as he left his dressing room, Sousuke had seen a much older man leaning in the passenger seat of the Aston Martin Vanquish.
"Well, it would seem that this machine seemed to be ready for its mission." The grey haired old man was telling the dark skinned Canadian standing on the other side of the car. "Let's see if its driver is just as ready."
"I can assure you sir that I am just as capable in bringing you to the objective," a slightly deep voice then came from the rear of the car.
The older man then leaned out of the Vanquish before giving the younger man a once over. "So you're the wunder kid – Sergeant Sousuke Sagara. It's too bad that I've already retired when you joined Mithril; I would have taught you on how to treat your superiors with utmost respect."
"My apologies for speaking out of turn, Sir."
"Apologies accepted," the old veteran said with a tight lip. "I've heard that you had taken precautions prior to our arrival here."
"Yes, Sir." Sousuke nodded in his client's direction while answering. "I have read some articles about Green Circle along my way here and had also collected additional information from the AADA and some other sources."
"Did you mean Ernie Newell?"
A multitude of heads had turned in the veteran's direction upon saying the name of the old mercenary that had retired and as such had set shop in Boise.
"How- I think I would rather not ask that question." The youngest mercenary said while shaking his head in disbelief.
"I told you that I've been in Mithril before you joined."
"Now that we have somewhat introduced each other, let's us start the briefing." Cloussou then said while the light beige wall to his left with his sign pen, the tapping loud enough to get everyone's attention. "Take a seat even though this would not be long."
Everyone within the pit had sat down wherever they could sit, dragging seats from the closet or just sitting on the hood of the car much like Mao and Kurz did.
Sousuke had taken a seat on the driver seat of the car and settled down while the old man sat down on the shotgun seat.
"Before I could begin, I'd like to re-introduce our guest and client to our latecomer." Belfengan said with a wide smile that had elicited some chuckles in Sousuke's expense. "Our client is Dr. Richard Mardukas who had served as our commander five years past before retiring to continue his civilian work. He is here today to defuse a state of the art detonator that was stolen en route from its main laboratories to the nearest US base."
"Sir, wouldn't the Arbalest be considered a target as well if our mission is leaked somehow?" One of the technicians then asked after Bel had pointed in his direction.
"A valid question," the black Canadian said while unconsciously rubbing his chin with his fingers. "As for the answer, I have set up a sting operation along with elements of the Boise police force including their SWAT teams to take out the main base of Green Circle here in Boise to take the heat of Sousuke and the Arbalest. It may not really work as there are also satellite bases in the whole Pacific Northwest, but it would get a lot of attention from them."
"Yes, it was to our good fortune that most of the residents nearby were in a local charity event downtown." Mellissa then added with a purr. "We won't have to worry about kibitzers and people complaining about the fireworks display."
"Well, I say that we get a move on as I just received the signal to move out." Kurz was saying while pushing the green button that activated the garage door opener. "I'll get Sniper out in a minute."
There was a loud whine that came from outside that had gotten everyone in the pit to draw their weapons and hide for cover.
The guardhouse was shot up by six bikers and their riders before the guards could even fire back. The gate itself was blasted by three micro-missiles fired in a spread from a car's turret that was also firing its front machine guns at the guards that were firing back at the bikers.
The bikers had come through the busted gates and continued on, their riders firing back at the other pits to keep their occupants low while taking some damage.
By the time that the remaining two bikers had turned the corner where Sousuke's pit was, they were shot up by Mithril's men plus the Arbalest's machine guns. Suffice to say, neither of the suicidal bikers had made it to even kill their targets.
Bel had searched both of the bodies along with a mechanic and found two billfolds in each of the bikers in the amount of 500 dollars for each biker.
"Such a waste," the Canadian said while giving the bills to Sousuke. "They knew that they would never get out of this mission alive so why."
"They are obviously part of the crackpot faction of Green Circle," Kurz said in a somber tone. "I never thought that they would that crazy though."
"It is just par of the course for every anarchist group to have a faction that would go overboard which is why Mithril was created in the first place." Richard answered with the same tone from the gunner's seat, his right thumb still on the trigger. "Yet this is nothing compared to the chaos and destruction that will befell Seattle if their objectives were made."
"Well, I think we need to pay them back for what they did." Melissa was saying while the police had arrived and was now putting the dead bikers into body bags while the others were pulling the mangled bikes to the truck for recycling. "Time's a wastin', everyone."
"Yes, Sousuke get the Arbalest out of Boise as soon as possible." Bel then told the youngest mercenary while everyone was packing up. "Both Melissa and Kurz would be joining me in the raid in Green Circle's base and try to neutralize them as much as we could."
"Right," Sousuke then turned on the ignition of the car before putting the car in gear. He then led the car with its Global positioning navigation system turned on and Automatic Targeting Acquisition Device on standby. "I'll see all of you in a few days."
"See you then, Sousuke." Melissa then replied after giving Sousuke a friendly ruffle on his hair. "Good luck and drive offensively."
"Thanks, you too." Sousuke answered before driving his car out of the pits and into the city streets. "Sir, I think it would be better that Al take care of gunner duty as he would be a better shot than either of us."
"Yes, I am willing to think so too." Richard said with a nod while keeping his briefcase on top of his lap. "But remember, we need to get there in the earliest time possible so duels are to be kept to a minimum and if only we had no other choice. Once those in the plant would be apprised of our attack in their HQ, then they would blow up the plant that much sooner."
Back in the pit, both Melissa and Kurz had gotten on their own gray Mercedes Benz SLS AMG. Melissa had pushed the keyless fob button to get the power generated from the batteries towards the flywheel that then spun until it could achieve 20,000 revolutions per minute.
Once the flywheel had achieved its operating capacity, the luxury vehicle's engine's hum was heard by its driver who then engaged the gear shift and moved out of the garage followed by Bel's black Porche 911 that was armed with a Vulcan on its roof and two lasers in front once it was out in the streets along with two more duel cars behind them as support.
While all of this was going on, most of the more peaceful members of Green Circle were being held against their will by their more violent co-members.
"What is the meaning of this?" One of the senior members of Green Circle had exclaimed while her eyes had gone wide at being on the receiving end of a Colt .45 Automatic.
"Well Miss Mcgory, we thought that you and the others are just too soft to convince the government to save our environment." One of the men wearing improved body armor was saying through his helmet's mike. "So it would be best that you give control of the organization to us and retire."
"No, it is people such as you that give our organization a bad name." Felicia Mcgory answered with a screech. "You think that strong arm tactics would work in our favor; it doesn't as it would only make them even more stubborn and make us look bad to the general populace."
"That's because people are so taken by the government's bullshit to even know what's right from wrong," another man yelled in anger. "You of all people should know that or we wouldn't have this organization in the first place."
"And you, Oswald Rendon, have your head up your arse so high that you only know how to use force even if it would fail completely."
This time, Oswald had heard enough and thus took a few short strides to stand in front of the tied up woman standing in front of the sofa and grab her throat. "Well Fell, soft words and placards won't do shit against big corporations and the corrupt government. So shut the fuck up or you and your fellow softies would be eating lead."
"That only shows how much of a thug you are," another mezzo-soprano voice was heard from Felicia's right. "You think that with a big enough gun; you could scare people to submit to your needs."
"I said, shut the fuck up." Oswald turned around and with his left hand had grabbed the older woman by her blouse's collar. "You think you're so fucking smart that you could play along with the G men and their employers. Well, go sell your body to them then as you are a goddamn hooker anyway."
Felicia had heard enough and bumped the five foot ten curly haired man with her pudgy five foot two body. There was some movement in the collision, but as any physics teacher would say, it would always be the smaller mass that would lose.
And lose Felicia did as she was bumped off towards the waiting sofa before releasing an unladylike grunt upon landing.
Oswald was so surprised that he had let the other woman (Adalais Favre) go and she fell to the sofa as well.
Oswald was to continue in physically abusing the woman when he had heard police sirens becoming louder by the minute. "Get the weapons online and in this place in lockdown. You, Ahmed, get the cars ready for a breakout once the heat is too much."
"Yes, Boss." The eighteen year old high school dropout answered and ran out of the room through another door leading to the garage in the back.
"Orion, get the others near the doors except the one leading to the garage and prepare for a fierce fire fight."
"What about you, Ozzie?" The young man with a crew cut purple hair answered with a sneer. "Where would you be goin'?"
"Well, I get to the cars first and get their attention." Oswald retorted while grabbing Felicia by the left shoulder roughly and pulled her towards the garage. "We'll meet outside of town once we bust through the city gates."
"You do know that it's a suicide run, right?"
"You do know that Felicia is also known about in town as one of the members of Green Circle that even the mayor and governor trusts."
"Good point," Orion retorted while readying his AK-74 for action, the said weapon dangling from the young man's tattooed right arm. "We'll see you soon then, if we get out alive that is."
Outside at the corner of W Linden Avenue and S Broadway Ave in Southeast Boise, a certain gray Mercedes Benz SLS AMG was parked with only its Gauss Gun seen and probably armed.
"So why are we parked here instead of Ivywild or Melrose St?" The black haired Chinese woman was asking her blond gunner.
"Simple," the blond German answered with a huge grin. "If they were to make a getaway, they would always take the backdoor and both of those streets plus Targee would be crawling with cops and some of our own fellows."
"Wow, I'm surprised that you of all people would actually think about the best place to take out some tangos."
"It sucks that this place doesn't have enough clearings or place high enough to serve as a sniper nest."
A voice from the radio speakers then startled the two mercenaries who were watching the screen and waiting for the proper time to strike. "Sniper, are you in position?"
The woman had picked up the mike and thumbed over the talk button before answering. "Yes, Black Wolf Leader. We are in position."
"That's good, Mel." The release of air was discernible in the transmission. "Kurz, make sure that one could escape from the back as we could not afford a car chase as it would give them enough time to warn their friends."
After a pause, he then added. "Remember, our scramblers could not go past two hundred meters and I'm sure that we may have to explain to the local residents on why they cannot even watch cable or access the internet for the next hour."
"Yeah, yeah." Kurz then answered with a dismissive motion on his free hand that he knew only his wife could see. "I won't mess this up, Bel, don't you worry."
"Last time you said that, I had a good reason to."
"That's just a case of bad luck and nosy girls."
"Those 'nosy' girls happen to be belonging to your fan club, strange as it may." Bel then added in the encrypted airwaves. "I mean, a professional model, really?"
"It pays the rent so to speak," the blond sniper answered as he had gently taken the microphone away from his wife's hand. "But I'm quitting since Mel's a little annoyed with the fan girls popping up wherever we are while we're on break."
"Damn straight I am." Mao was positively smiling as she had looked at her frowning husband with a large smile on her face and lifted her left hand so that the gleam of the ring on her finger had briefly flashed the blond. "I mean I am the Supreme President of the Kurz Weber Fan Club."
"Just tag the escaping tangos and I'll put in a good word for both of you with the brass." Blefangan said with a groan, some shouted orders were heard at the background. "We're moving in."
"Good hunting, Bel."
Just as Belfangan had just returned the microphone in its receiver, one of the SWAT team members had informed him by hand held radio that one of the vehicles of Green Circle with two people inside coming out of the impromptu gates at the rear of the house.
The Canadian had grabbed the radio off its shoulder clip and answered. "Are there any Green Circle leaders there?"
"Leave it," the black commander then added. "It's a decoy. I'll have one of my men deal with him as soon as he could not be seen from the target."
"Yes, Sir." The SWAT team member said with a relieved tone. "Over and out."
Belfangan then got out of his duel car that was parked in front the New Pioneer Federal Union building and surveyed the house at the end of the cleared street with his binoculars.
What he could see from his vantage point was the lone and heavily armored police car approaching the Green Circle base of operation's house with sirens wailing.
This was the signal that the operation would begin. The reason being was that once the two heavily armored police officers (SWAT team members in disguise) would start knocking on the door with a written search warrant, all hell would certainly break loose.
As it was, the nearby buildings had some of their office spaces borrowed by police marksman with Sniper as their automotive equivalent and secret weapon.
Speaking of which, the Green Circle vehicle that had gotten out of the compound through a hidden gate was already neutralized once it had taken the turn to W Linden Street just before its passenger was able to report in to HQ.
Inside the compound, an increasingly agitated Orion was looking back and forth at the television set connected to a security camera that was directed at W Melrose St.
The sight of the police patrol car approaching had filled him with dread as it was possible that someone had heard the commotion or had suspicions about his and some of the other radicals' arrival yesterday afternoon.
The fact that no one had even left their houses was a clue that only an idiot would ignore along with the fact that some police cars and a SWAT Van were parked at W Targee St early in the morning.
The grey haired young man then told his underlings. "Get the weapons online. We'll get out of this hellhole or die trying."
It was coincidence that the minute that he said that, power was suddenly cut off, leaving the whole place in total darkness.
"Shit, grab any weapons you can find and get the hostages to the cars." Orion then yelled in the darkness. "We're not making our last stand here."
"So is the big man now resorting to running like the rats they really are." The vice president of Green Circle - Adalais Favre yelled while being pulled to another duel car that was being started. "How about you just give up and then ask for a pardon in exchange for telling your next activities."
"Shut up, Grandma." The thug pulling the older brunette said while blindly slapping her in the face, letting go of her left arm temporarily.
The sound of skin hitting skin was music to his ears as he continued to pull the woman towards the garage, guided by a flashlight in his other hand.
Outside, the sound of the front gate being shot at with high caliber hand weapons to permit entry was heard. This made the Green Circle renegades even more jumpy.
The fact that the members of the Boise Police Force SWAT Team were forced to break in the compound itself to facilitate a rescue only proved how serious they were in ending the hostage situation and put the renegades behind bars.
Feeling their way with only flashlights providing illumination, the renegades had finally managed to get to the cars and they left as quickly as they could with only a few remaining to keep the cops away.
After a few minutes, the gate was kicked in with a bang and a fleet of footsteps were heard coming in with sounds of guns cocked and flashlights being turned on.
The remaining green circle members then saw the flashes from the direction of the door and started shooting in its direction, taking one of the SWAT team members before someone yelled in the din of gunfire. "Switch to IR."
As the flashlight of the downed SWAT member was also hit in the barrage, darkness had returned to the compound until a flash of light and a high pitched whine from a thrown flash grenade had temporary blinded and deafened the defenders who chose to stay put rather than have their footsteps heard in the darkness.
This was followed by flashes of fire and muffled reports from the SWAT teams' M4 assault rifles as the remaining Green Circle members were shot dead.
"Sir, we have taken care of four tangos that had shot Charlie." The fire team leader was telling his superior on his headpiece. "We're not sure if there are more or the rest had already left so we'll be doing a room to room inspection. We could have the power back now."
"I copy," Chief Inspector Ronald Dahl answered in the speaker of the headset. "Our friends had already crippled the ones that tried to escape with the second car taken out after a brief chase so it is best to do a search and retrieval on the site before the warrant expires."
"Yes, Sir." The fire team leader said with a nod. "Over and out."
To his men, he added. "Everyone start searching in pairs and tell me if they're in trouble or find something interesting. Move out."
Outside the New Pioneer Federal Union building, Belfangan was listening to the narrative given to him by Mao.
The said narrative had described how the crazy Green Circle bandits tried to escape being shot by Sniper only to be surprised by another Mithril duel car leading to its immobilization once its power plant in the rear was knocked out of commission.
"So there were two cars running like crazy out of the houses and one of them were actually shooting at us to scare us away," the black haired former Marine said animatedly. "Kurz tagged them with two shots, one at their car's turret and the second at the front left tire."
"How about the other?" The commanding officer of the whole joint operation then asked. "Did you chase him?"
"No, but Mike and Encyclopedia* did." Mao answered with a chuckle. "They'll be reporting any minute soon as it seemed that they've stopped at the corner of W Victory road and S Matthew Street."
Pretty soon, there was a radio message about the remaining goons being accosted in the houses along S Matthew Street after a short foot chase.
"Well, this part of the mission is already done." Kurz had told his superior. "I wonder how Sousuke and the Doc are doing."
At the time of the surprise attack, the Arbalest was already in the city of Ontario, having just crossed both the Idaho River and the state border just a minute ago.
Sousuke already had the Global Positioning System as well as the Automatic Target Acquisition Device activated just as they had left the arena and just now had turned on the radio to hear the breaking news of a raid in the well-known headquarters of the environmental group – Green Circle.
"This just in- the leaders of Green Circle were told that they were held hostage by a breakaway faction that is still at large," the radio announcer then told in the airwaves. "We need your help in bringing these eco-terrorists to justice so please call-"
Mardukas had changed the frequency to his own favorite station that plays classic ballads from the simpler times of nearly a century ago. "Eco-terrorists indeed, these so-called glorified disk jockeys does not even know what how to brand a threat correctly. Green Circle is just a band of dangerous malcontents that use the environment as a legitimate platform, no more, no less."
Sousuke had only shrugged his shoulder in response as the Vanquish had overtaken a slow moving Peterbilt truck with a tank gun on its turret.
He then noticed that the song being broadcasted is "The Lady is Tramp" famously sung by Frank Sinatra. It had reminded the young mercenary of his own ex-girlfriend – Kaname Chidori who he had left back in Chicago.
'Someday, you'll understand why I am doing this, Kaname.' Sousuke thought as a tear had escaped his right eye and flowed down past his scarred cheek. 'Until then, I'm not coming back to you.'
* - the Mithril operative's real name is Leroy Brown, but the others had liked to call him Encyclopedia for protagonist of the children's mystery books that Mithril had in their headquarters' library to his dismay.
My apologies in revising this chapter after a long spell, but doing the Familiar Phases Special series coupled with real life is certainly taxing on one's writing.
Of course, given that I had gotten a lot more practice in typing stories, this chapter is a lot better than its predecessor with more action and description.
I may comeback to revise the other chapters if I find them less than unsatisfactory, but that is only in between breaks in typing the chapters of Familiar Phases.
Just in case, I do not own Full Metal Panic as they belong to Dragon Magazine, Monthly Comic Dragon, and Gonzo in the light novel, manga, and anime respectively.
The same could be said for Car Wars as it is under the ownership of Steve Jackson and his company Steve Jackson Games.
The only drawback to this revision being the larger numbers of other characters in this chapter alone, but it was necessary for the added content.
With this revision finally done, I'll now return to brainstorming and later typing the fourth chapter of Familiar Phase - Burst Familiar. Be seeing you all in February 2016...maybe.