Plastic Bullet Frenzy!
A Negima! Magister Negi Magi fanfiction
Synopsis: Encouraged by positive feedback from the attendees of the Mahora Festival's 'Martians vs Mages' event, Yukihiro Ayaka organizes another such massive event, one that is open to not just students and faculty, but visitors and players from around the world! Dubbed Operation: Azure Typhoon, this massive wargaming event utilizes the system known as TAG, or Tactical Action Gaming, as a means of waging battle. With four massive factions (including NPC's) and the entire Mahora Academy grounds as their battlefield, this event promises to be a rollicking good time for all involved. Crossover with story 'Crossfire: Tactical Action Gaming'
Disclaimer: Author retains no ownership of Negima! Magister Negi Magi, which is property of Ken Akamatsu and Kodansha. All trademarks featured herein are copyright their respective owners.f
Chapter 3: Escalation
"Attention all players, the pre-game waiting period is now over. As of 0900 local time, Operation Azure Typhoon is underway. Game on, Game on, Game on! May the best team win the war!"
As Azure Typhoon finally got rolling, members of the Free Mahorastan Alliance piled into a number of technicals, pickups, and 2.5 ton trucks and made their way out of the Mahora Forest as Akashi Yuna led a small force of her fellow rebels to mount an assault on a makeshift prison where MRG forces were holding FMA sympathizers under lock and key. As far as Yuna's situation was concerned, these prisoners had to be freed if a newly democratic Mahorastan was to function smoothly. Thankfully, the FMA rebels were not alone in their endeavor to release their country from the grip of a corrupt, oppressive government. The FMA had been promised air support, and sure enough, they were getting it, and Yuna waved to the pilots of the Huey and Little Bird gunships and transports that flew overhead bearing the markings of the Coalition Forces. The air support overhead would provide additional firepower and assist the assault on the prison while the Rebels on the ground went toe to toe with MRG infantry. As they neared the prison's perimeter, Yuna issued the order to charge, and the technicals and pickups surged forward full-throttle, any and every weapon aboard ablaze, with the 2.5 ton trucks not far behind. As the rebels aboard each vehicle dismounted to storm the prison walls, the gunships in the air swooped down to lay down suppressive fire on the guards within the vicinity. Halfway to actually reaching the prison walls, Yuna happened to notice an off feature about the guards: they were all wearing gas masks. When she heard the sound of a rocket soon after comprehending this fact, her eyes widened as her realization came full circle.
"RETREAT! THE ENEMY IS USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS!"
The warning was a case of too little, too late. As her fellow rebels turned, some not quite hearing the message, the rockets impacted and released their potentially deadly payload. The most any of the rebels could do was place cloth over their mouths and noses to avoid breathing in any of the pink mist-like particles that were spewed from canisters mounted in each rocket. Strangely enough, Yuna couldn't feel any adverse effects from the rockets' payload.
It's not teargas... not even smoke. What kind of weapon is this if it doesn't even make my eyes water?
Yuna's wonders were answered when she heard a slow tearing noise and a slight tingle on her upper thigh. For the second time in the span of a few minutes, her eyes widened in shock when she saw that her momentary exposure to the mist was already causing her clothes to be eaten away. In her mind, Yuna panicked; there was no worse way to fight than when one was wearing next to nothing. Grudgingly, she called for her troops to fall back. The MRG clearly wanted them humiliated before defeat, but she would not allow the enemy that satisfaction, even if it meant running away with their tails between their legs. Besides, this was one battle out of many. A loss now might remove points from them, but so long as they succeeded in their other missions, this would be insignificant. As her comrades took cover behind their vehicles to shield their mostly unclothed bodies from enemy fire, Yuna tossed a Red Smoke grenade at the prison walls to mark the attack position for the gunships. Behind her, she tossed out a blue flare to mark an emergency pickup zone. Pilots flying transport Hueys, expecting to pickup prisoners, took note of this and its incongruity with the mission timetable.
"Red Five, this is Charlie Actual. You can't possibly have rescued all the prisoners already. Why did you pop smoke, over?"
asked the lead Huey pilot.
"Charlie Actual, We've been hit hard down here with chemical weapons. We can't evac the prisoners the way we are now. Unless of course, you pilots are a bunch of perverts who think that chemical rockets sent to destroy our clothing is a godsend. Like it or not, I will not allow my comrades to suffer the indignity of fighting the enemy in our skivvies! Now land that bird and get us out of here, over!" replied Yuna.
Knowing better than to disobey a direct order and jeopardize the partnership between the FMA and Coalition Forces, the pilots of the transports landed, and the rebels were quick to pile on. The gunships, still loaded with plenty of ammo, were there to provide cover fire for the transports' retreat. For Yuna, the retreat was necessary, even if it cost them several hundred points. No amount of points, in her book, was worth losing dignity over. As Negi checked in on Charlie Actual, she soon took the opportunity to notify her ally and teacher of her situation.
Meanwhile, on a main artery of Mahora's roads, a convoy of MRG vehicles, composed of armored cars, gun buggies, and a few ventilated tractor trailers, made its way down a two-way street. The ventilated trailers contained a number of hostages, many of them civilians. Among them were ace war correspondent Asakura Kazumi, her assistant and best friend Aisaka Sayo, and her entire camera and sound crew. For the MRG's security purposes, their equipment was confiscated before they were shoved roughly into the trailer with a number of other hostages, mainly 'westerners' doing business in the region. Fortunately for them, the MRG's worst nightmare was already in place to save them. A contingent of Coalition Forces Special Operations troops, comprised of three specialized platoons, had been given intelligence leaked from field agents infiltrating the MRG concerning the route of the convoy. Equipped with the knowledge of the convoy's route, the 'operators' laid an ambush along the deserted, secretive route of the convoy. In a sheer stroke of luck, there was a suitable LZ nearby in the form of a multi-story parking garage. They could defend it once they gathered the hostages, and it was wide enough for several helicopters to land and pick up multiple passengers. All that mattered now was to catch the MRG at the right place and the right time.
As the convoy approached an intersection, the lead vehicle was stopped by two pedestrians. As far as the front gun buggy's occupants could tell, an old man and his granddaughter had interrupted their travel plans. The old man's clumsy grandchild dropped one of her belongings, and while her grandfather almost continued on without her, the little girl ran to pick up the item she dropped.
At the rear of the convoy, a gun truck was besieged by a pair of twin street urchins offering goods in exchange for money. Candy, liquor, cigarettes, and cold drinks were among their offerings, but the driver and passenger of the gun truck would have none of them. Little did they know, two little words spoken over a network of thirty-some earpieces spelled the imminent demise of these drivers and their comrades.
The two urchins at the rear of the convoy each tossed their wicker baskets into the gun truck as soon as the short sentence was finished. Among their goods was the nasty surprise of armed and pin-less anti-personnel Tornado Grenades. As the stunned guards in the gun truck fumbled for the devices, they were quickly slaughtered when the grenades went off, spraying the gun truck's occupants with 'shrapnel'.
At the front of the convoy, the 'old man' and his 'granddaughter' shed their white civilian hooded shawls, revealing tactical gear and ammunition for weaponry they had kept concealed up to this point. The little girl gave the MRG soldiers an even bigger shock; she hauled out an M16/M203 combination that she had somehow managed to hide on her person, and now she was killing about two or so enemy soldiers in the gun buggy with the M203. Meanwhile, the 'old man' stripped off his gray beard and mustache as he leveled his custom Bizon submachine gun at the remaining soldiers and sprayed them with plastic death from the helical magazine of his weapon, which held upwards of several hundred rounds. By the time the rest of the convoy's guards reacted, it was already too late. More operators sprang up on either side of the road, placed in alternating spots some distance from each other so that they had a clear fire arc that wouldn't result in needless friendly fire. The few enemy troops that survived the initial fusillade of BB's were cut down from a distance by UJG Scotsman, artilleryman, and team sniper Adrian Murray, equipped with a specially-made SR-25 semi-automatic sniper rifle built by the Airsoft Surgeon, Clarence Lai. The excellent weapon made short work of the enemy survivors, and those who ran out of his range were quickly disoriented by Mk 9 Thunderflash grenade simulators thrown by Diana Smith, whose team, Sabaku No Ookami, cut down the MRG soldiers in the split second after.
The violent ambush took but 10 seconds, and in that span of time, the special forces operators had wiped out an entire platoon of MRG soldiers. Outnumbering the enemy 3 to 1 certainly helped, and the MRG high command had clearly underestimated the amount of intelligence leaking from their ranks like a bad seal. As other force members secured a perimeter around the disabled convoy, a squad led by Kaname split up and unlocked the ventilated trailers. Flashing weapon lights inside, they lowered their weapons when they saw that each trailer contained little more than hostages. With about twenty hostages total, the force had to work quick to make sure there weren't any sleepers amongst the hostages. As the members of Gakuen Vice frisked each hostage, including Kazumi, Sayo, and their crew, one sleeper finally broke his cover, drawing a Walther P38 from a hidden shoulder holster and firing at whomever he could hit. Kaname's childhood friend and Gakuen Vice rookie Hasaka Seiji took a number of rounds meant for the former while the MRG gunman was suddenly blasted from behind by two shots from Adrian's SR-25. The first shot hit the back panel of gunman's vest, the second one struck the gunman in the back of the head for good measure. As the gunman went down, Kaname quickly called for a medic, and Ayase Yue of Class 3-A responded. Alongside her best friend Miyazaki Nodoka, Yue pulled out her own pair of defibrillators, applied them to Seiji's vest, and punched the discharge buttons. Seiji's vest loosened up, and the nonchalant girl helped the elder boy to his feet.
"Thanks for the help. I won't forget that I owe you." said Seiji honestly.
"It's not a problem. I'm just doing what I have to." replied Yue stoically.
"All the hostages are accounted for, then." said Diana, slapping a new magazine into her accessorized M4A1 RIS. "Radioman, let those flyboys know we're ready for pickup."
At this, Nodoka nodded and grabbed the handset of her backpack-mounted AN/PRC-150 radio. Making sure it was set to the correct frequency, Nodoka pressed the transmit button and called in to their insertion/extraction helicopters.
"Mega Hawk, this is Delta Actual. Packages are secure, repeat, packages are secure. Requesting pickup at LZ X-ray, over."
"Solid copy, Delta Actual. We'll be there in one five mikes. Mark the LZ with smoke. Mega Hawk Out." responded the pilot curtly. As Nodoka turned to the hostages, she formulated a quick evacuation plan. With twenty people, she divided the hostages and assigned them to squads of five from the rescue team. Five at a time, she had them move at regular intervals to the Landing Zone, leaving a clean-up squad to scuttle the vehicles and partially deny the enemy. Once the emptied vehicles billowed red smoke, the clean-up squad quickly double-timed their pace to link up with the remainder of the rescue team. Upon entering the parking building, members of the rescue team split off to lay traps in the vehicular entrances and exits as well as the pedestrian walkways and stairwells. Regrouping at the top of the parking building, Yue made a quick head count of the hostages and team members to make sure they were all still there. Satisfied that all of them had gotten there safely, she turned to the twin 'street urchins', Narutaki Fuka and Narutaki Fumika who removed the enemy gun truck from action.
"Fuka, Fumika, that was impressive work back there with the gun truck." Yue praised. "Who taught you that idea? Was it Kaede?"
"Kaede-nee didn't teach us anything about guerilla tactics." stated Fuka.
"We got that from watching some movies set in Vietnam, and we remember that kind of tactic being used by the Viet Cong. Simple, but very effective." added Fumika, wiping the 'grime' makeup off her face.
Off to the side, Eric Vicious was chatting up Nodoka as the group waited for hide or hair of Mega Hawk. For once, Eric chose not to smoke in anyone else's presence as he conversed with the avid reader.
"So Miyazaki-san, do you do stuff like this often?" asked the 18-year old Englishman.
"N-not really." replied Nodoka shyly. "This is actually maybe the second time I've participated in a war game. Usually, I spend most of my free time wrapped up in a book." she added, referring to the Martians vs. Mages battle. "I-I'm not really one to do this sort of thing very often."
"I'd say whatever you've been reading has helped. You seem to know the phonetic alphabet pretty well, and you're talking on a military radio like it's second nature to you."
"Ah, well you see, that's because I've read a few military books, sorry to say."
"Don't be sorry! I like a girl who knows her way around military equipment." the playboy complimented, turning on the charm and going in for the kill. "Tell you what, if I can get your number, we'll go out to lunch sometime and get to know each other better. That sound like a plan?"
Nodoka flushed red and didn't know how to respond. "I-I... um... that's... uh..."
Without warning, Bruce Harris appeared behind Eric, and whipping out his hand, caught Eric's right ear betwixt thumb and forefinger, pulling hard. Eric immediately yelped in pain, backing away from Nodoka as Bruce continued to pull.
"Could you please stop hitting on every girl in sight? We're in the middle of a game, for god's sakes." said Bruce, a sigh escaping his lips as if he had done this many times before.
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Ow!" replied Eric, wincing in pain.
"Have you even considered the fact that what you're trying to pull might get you arrested? She's in middle school, you twit!"
"Miyazaki-san, please inform my friend of your age."
"O-oh, I'm 14 years old, Vicious-san." said Nodoka.
"And you are how old, Eric Vicious?"
"18... oh. Oh, damn. I am so sorry, Miyazaki-san. I really didn't know."
"I just saved you from having to say the same thing to a judge. You best thank me."
"W-wait! Can we still be friends, Miyazaki-san?" asked Eric. Nodoka's flustered expression changed to a friendlier one, and she smiled.
"Of course. Give me a moment." she replied, taking out her cell phone. "Your cellphone has Bluetooth, right?"
"Well here, I'll perform a Bluetooth handshake."
Nodoka pressed a button on her cellphone, and it sent a message to Eric's own phone. Opening the message, he received Nodoka's name, e-mail address, and phone number in a pre-programmed format.
"If you and your friends are ever in Mahora any time after Azure Typhoon, give me a ring, and we'll meet up someplace. I'll introduce you to my other friends."
"We'll take you up on that, I'm sure." replied Bruce kindly. Putting an end to their idle conversation was the sound of the simple alarm they had set up going off. "Sounds like the enemy found us." He checked his magazine pouches and weapon for full ammunition. "How are the both of you for ammo?"
"I only used up two mags. I'm still in fighting shape." replied Eric, flipping the fire selector on his HK416 to full automatic.
"I didn't use any during the ambush, so I'm full for ammunition." said Nodoka, gesturing to her AK-105.
"Good. I better tell the others. "Heads-up, Delta Actual. We got baddies coming in. Defend the top three levels at all costs! We need to get those hostages out alive!" reported Bruce on his radio. The other platoons acknowledged, and some of them went down from the top to help defend the top three levels of the parking building.
"Nodoka-san, you better get upstairs. We need you to mark the LZ as soon as you see the helicopters." said Eric.
"What about you, Eric-san?" asked Nodoka apprehensively.
"We have to stall for time down here. Don't worry; we know what we're doing."
"Be safe then."
"Thanks, Nodoka-san. You too."
As Nodoka proceeded upstairs, she couldn't help but take a last look at Eric and Bruce. A few other members of their team had gathered, and they hustled off to man a defensive position. Silently, she prayed that they would be all right and make it out with the extraction helicopters before going to the top to help defend the hostages. As she got in position, she contacted Mega Hawk again to check their status.
"Mega Hawk, this is Delta Actual. What's your status, over?"
"Delta Actual, Mega Hawk is still ten mikes out. Are things getting hot down there, over?"
"Mega Hawk, the enemy is lighting a fire right under our asses!" replied Konoka with uncharacteristic anger. "Pour the coal to those engines and get us out of here! These hostages are toast if we all die, over!"
"Acknowledged, Delta Actual. We're sending our gunship escorts forward, but we still need you all to hold out for the next ten mikes. Mega Hawk out."
Three floors below the top level, a heated firefight was underway as MRG forces exchanged bullets with the Special forces team. Several Claymore mines had already been expended in attempts to slow down the enemy, but now, it was a down-to-the wire firefight. Eric and Bruce had dispatched several opponents each when they saw grappling hooks attach to the chest-high walls of the parking building when they saw who ascended these ropes, they paled and took cover immediately. The white fox insignia on the berets of the climbers told them the whole story. Their most feared opponents, the all-female Kousetsu Kitsune were on the MRG's side. And just their luck, the UJG wasn't exactly in the habit of firing shots at women; in fact, it was part of their code of honor and chivalry not to do so.
Diana, who had paused to reload, saw the two UJG members cowering behind cover. She scrambled over to them furiously, angry that these two were chickening out for unknown reasons.
"What the hell is wrong with you two?! Get up and shoot!" admonished Diana.
"We can't!" replied the two in unison.
"Why the hell not?!"
"We're up against the Kousetsu Kitsune!" replied Eric.
"Our code of honor and chivalry doesn't allow us to shoot females, Diana!" Bruce clarified.
Diana growled and popped up to spray a few MRG troops with automatic fire before ducking down again. "Listen, you morons, when someone is shooting at you, your own safety takes precedence over some stupid code of honor, regardless of what gender is shooting at you. You're letting this stupid code hold you back, and this is why the UJG will never best the Sabaku no Ookami, you hear? Now get up and shoot those Hokkaido skanks!"
The two shook their heads side to side, refusing to get up and shoot. With an annoyed growl, Diana grabbed the pull handle of Eric's TAG vest, wrapped her arms around him and guided his weapon downrange. Placing her index finger over his on the trigger, she made the 18-year-old strike down the Kousetsu Kitsune's leader, Seimiya Kaori. As the opponent's teammates dragged her back behind cover, Diana looked Eric hard in the face.
"Was that really so hard?"
As she finished this sentence, the two were forced to drop behind cover again when Kaori's fiercest disciple, Kanai Toshi, opened fire on them with her G36K.
"Bastard pigs!" cried Toshi. "You shot Kaori-chan!"
"Look what you did, Diana!" cried Bruce. "All you did was piss them off! I guess you're not familiar with the saying, 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'?"
"Very funny Harris, but while she's spazzing out, she doesn't take note of the Thunderflash I'm about to throw."
Diana tossed the pyrotechnic device down the driveway of the parking garage. The simulator went off, the loud blast disorienting the Kousetsu Kitsune. Diana immediately called her aces in the hole into action.
"Fuka, Fumika! Do it now!"
The Narutaki twins, having hidden in the space of the parking garage ceiling by wedging themselves against the pipes, hooked their legs around a pipe and swung down headfirst, their Ingram MAC-10 submachine guns in hand. Before the Kitsune had any chance to react, the two ninja-trained sisters mowed the team down with one long burst.
"How many did we get?" asked Fuka.
"All nine of them, if you count the one Eric-san and Diana-san shot." replied Fumika.
"That's not all of them." said Diana. "Their sniper must be elsewhere."
Kousetsu Kitsune team sniper Ivonne Weisskopf was, in fact, engaging Adrian and David on the roof, keeping their heads down, unaware her teammates had already been taken out by two little girls. Taking full advantage of the UJG's code of honor and chivalry, she kept their heads down, unaware that another rifle barrel was aimed at her, while Adrian and David cowered behind the wall of the parking building.
"We're dicked, aren't we?" asked Adrian.
"Aye." responded David. Suddenly, they heard a loud pop, and shortly after, they were no longer pinned down by Ivonne. David looked up and saw the Sabaku no Ookami's Russian-born designated marksman, Ilyana Kasdryev reaching out to him, offering to pull him up from the ground. Beside her was Takahashi Yoshiko, the Ookamis' Japanese representative, helping pull Adrian to his feet.
"Entire UJG is babies, da?" queried Ilyana to David.
"What?! We're not babies! And you're not the heavy from Team Fortress 2, either!" replied the UJG's DM.
"That's not the point, David-kun." said Yoshiko. "You might as well be a bunch of babies if you can't return fire when a girl is shooting at you guys. I admire your loyalty to the team code, but that will get you killed more often than you'd like in games."
"She's got a point." said Adrian. "Fact is, we're probably gonna have to be dealing with a lot more female players, so we might as well get used to having to shoot them if we're to survive."
David frowned. He didn't like it, but Adrian was right. They would have to make exceptions for the code of honor and chivalry if they were to be a proper team.
With Gakuen Vice on the topmost level, Rin and her cousin Ryosuke were blasting away with their M16A1 and Bizon when Ryosuke was struck in the chest by a burst of enemy AK fire. As he collapsed to the ground, Rin quickly rushed over to him in panic.
"Ryosuke-niisan! Ryosuke-niisan, hang on! I'll get help!" Rin cried in desperation. "Someone get a medic!"
"Calm down. I'm here, Yanagawa-san." replied Yue soothingly as she pulled out her defibrillator kit. In short order, Rin's dear cousin was back on his feet. Yue smiled as she saw Rin hug Ryosuke tightly.
"You two are close, aren't you?" asked Yue.
"You could say that." replied Ryosuke. "We're cousins, but we hang out with each other all the time. We might as well be siblings, really."
"I never go anywhere without Ryosuke-nii!" chirped Rin happily. This created some curiosity in Yue.
"Why are you guys so close?" the medic asked, earning a reluctant sigh from Ryosuke.
"It's a long story. I'll tell you once we're out of here."
"Fair enough. But make sure I hear it, all right?
The two went back to fighting off the MRG forces besieging the parking building, once again using the walls as their cover. Meanwhile, as Nodoka stood guard with the hostages, a feeling of discomfort came to her. While she was guarding the hostages, she felt a sense of guilt at not even having fired a single shot from her weapon, ashamed and feeling like she had not done anything to help. Suddenly, her walkie-talkie crackled with Eric's voice, delivering a message that gave her an opportunity to participate in battle, but at the same time dashing her hopes of Bruce and Eric both finishing the mission unscathed.
"Nodoka-san, I need your help down here! I'll take your place up top if you can come down here and help hold the defensive line. Bruce just took a round to the head. I need to get his 'body' up there for extraction as a casualty, over."
Nodoka keyed her microphone in response. "I'll be down there, just hang on, over!"
Nodoka turned to Yue. "I have to go down there. Eric-san is making his way back up here with Bruce-san. The latter was hit fatally, so they need me to replace him."
"Be careful with that radio, Nodoka-chan." said Yue worriedly. "If the enemy sees that, they'll focus all their fire on you."
"I will be careful, Yue-chan. I'll see you in a few minutes or less. Key your radio twice when you see Mega Hawk, all right?" replied Nodoka.
"No problem. Now you better get down there. Good luck."
With that, the librarian turned radioman sprinted down the garage ramps to where she had last seen Bruce and Eric. Sure enough, Eric was behind the barricade of cars they had moved into place, Bruce's still form next to him. With only a moment's hesitation at this sight, Nodoka crouched and moved quickly to the barricade, which was still rattling with the impact of incoming rounds.
"I'm here, Eric-san. Get moving." she said curtly.
"Watch your head when you're shooting. Don't stay up too long, Nodoka-san." advised Eric, preparing Bruce for a fireman's carry.
"I won't. I got you covered." replied Nodoka, getting ready to pop up. "Go!"
As Eric hustled out of the area with Bruce over his shoulders, Nodoka popped up, took aim, and directed a burst downrange at an unlucky MRG player who happened to silhouette himself against the incoming light behind him. As he crumpled dramatically like a sack of potatoes, she switched over to another opponent wielding an RPK machine gun and directed a burst at his head. When she started taking fire, she ducked down behind the barricade and found herself giggling madly. Here she was, under fire, and all she could do was giggle. Her first time under fire should've been scary. But when she remembered this was a game and Bruce wasn't dead, but just out of play, she found herself having fun. Diana saw this and smiled.
"Now you're getting the hang of it! Keep up the fire, Nodoka-san!"
Encouraged by Diana's words, Nodoka popped up during an opening in the enemy fire and expended the rest of her mid-cap magazine to keep the enemy's heads down. She ducked down and reloaded, forcing out her empty magazine by pushing the magazine release and the empty mag with her fresh one. As the empty magazine dislodged itself from the weapon and fell a little ways forward, she grabbed the empty magazine and placed it in her dump pouch, then tilted her AK-105 to the left and racked the charging handle with her left hand. Confirming the weapon was in firing condition, Nodoka continued the firefight, successfully downing several more people before Little Bird and Huey gunships from Mega Hawk flight arrived to help drive back the enemy. A Huey hovered at Nodoka's level of the parking garage while its door gunner swept in fire. Somehow, over all the noise Nodoka managed to hear the sound of her own walkie talkie reporting a push-to-talk button being keyed twice. It was her signal to head back up and mark the LZ. Nodoka turned to Diana and quickly excused herself.
"Diana-san! I have to mark the LZ! Our extraction helicopter is coming in!"
"I'll take care of things down here. Get moving!"
Nodoka nodded and sprinted back up the ramps. When she arrived at the top level, prop wash from the helicopters overhead tousled her hair as she quickly found an open spot. Producing a flare from her tactical gear, she struck the head of the flare with the friction-based ignition tool and as the flare hissed with smoke and chemical light, she tossed it out onto an unoccupied section of pavement. Up above, Mega Hawk's pilot caught sight of the flare.
"Delta Actual, we confirm the LZ. Coming in now for extraction, over."
On the ground, Nodoka immediately organized the extraction process. The LZ would still need a security perimeter if the hostages were to get out safely. Keying her radio, she called all the platoon leaders.
"Delta Actual to all platoons, extraction has arrived! Form a security perimeter around the LZ. Disengage and regroup at top level, over."
Nodoka didn't have to wait long for a response. "Copy, Delta Actual. Platoon 1 securing LZ, over." came Kaname's affirmation.
"Affirmative, Delta Actual. Platoon 2 falling back." reported Diana.
"Roger, Delta Actual. Platoon 3 is regrouping." replied Eric.
As the platoons retreated to the rooftop, they formed a perimeter around the hostages and the Landing Zone itself as five helicopters in all came in to land. A CH-47 Chinook and three Hueys touched down on the pavement and the Hostages were ushered aboard. The MRG troops downstairs weren't far away, and now that they had stumbled onto the LZ, were directing small-arms fire at the helicopters, the MRG's shots, for the most part, bouncing harmlessly off the sides of the helicopter. Nodoka responded to the threat immediately, shooting her AK-105 at a few machine gunners advancing towards their position. The hostages she was covering were being ushered onto the aircraft at the pace of a goosed hare. Despite the efforts of the SF platoons, incoming fire was still passing dangerously close to the hostages, missing them by inches. As Yue got onboard with the rest of the hostages in the Chinook, and the rest of the platoons piled into Hueys, a last burst of incoming fire streaked into the helicopter. Ticking harmlessly off the windshield, the incoming fire still forced the pilots into a hasty decision.
"Mega Hawk flight, the situation has gotten too hot! We're lifting off now!"
In the confusion of the hasty evacuation, however, the entire flight forgot the very person who called them down to extract the rescue team and the hostages. Only the decreasing volume of the rotor blades gave her a clue that she had missed her ride out. Nodoka turned in horror to see the helicopters flying off without her. Unclasping the handset from her radio. She frantically requested to be picked up.
"Mega Hawk, this is Delta Actual! I'm still down here! Requesting extraction, over!"
"Negative, Delta Actual, the LZ is too dangerous! You need to find an alternate location, or even just a PZ for a single helicopter. We can't risk these hostages getting shot, over!"
Nodoka realized the pilot was right. While being picked up now would be desirable, she would be putting the hostages in danger. With no other options, she had to first escape the MRG forces that now severely outnumbered her. Thinking quickly, the librarian pulled the pin on a smoke grenade and tossed it out from behind the car she was using for cover. As the smoke built up, obscuring her from the view of her opponents, she fell back on her pre-event training with the military club. Among the exercises they did was rappelling, and she would quickly put her skills to the test. Using the axle of a nearby car as an anchor, she flung a bundle of parachute cord over the side of the parking building, the cord barely reaching the street below. Making sure that she had tied it correctly, she sprayed a burst of rounds from her AK through the smoke, hoping to deter any would-be attackers, and then vaulted over the side of the parking building and started down the rope 'Australian Style'. She descended front-first, enabling her to fire her weapon as she descended the rope, rather than the traditional back-first descent. Luckily for her, she had managed to avoid any opponents thus far, since most of the MRG players were on the roof. By the time they finally rushed into the smoke, Nodoka was already long gone and putting escape and evasion training into use. Now, what mattered was that she escape the reach of the MRG and hopefully be picked up by her comrades or make it back to friendly territory.
Across Mahora, at a heavily-fortified mansion that served as Poseidon Tactical Inc.'s HQ, a motorcade of SUV's, dirtbikes, and technicals awaited the departure of its most precious cargo. Ayaka was playing the role of the Democratic Mahorastan Party's top candidate. The contractors around her were assigned to provide personal security as she traveled to and from a meeting with Natsume Reiko, top official of the Coalition Interim Government Authority (CIGA), who was in real life the student council president at Tokorozawa High School. Like a true head of state, she had a Personal Security Detail with her almost all the time, but if push came to shove, she could defend herself very well. However, Ayaka hadn't really handled firearms before, and that was exactly what the security contractors protecting her had trained to do for a long time now. Ushered into a vehicle somewhere in the midst of the motorcade of identical SUV's, the formation got underway, led off by the motorbikes up front, each carrying a driver and a Submachine gun-toting passenger. Following closely behind were Technicals-- up-armored Ford, Nissan and Toyota 4x4 pickup trucks that carried 1 of three formidable weapons: a Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun, an M240 machine gun, or custom-built Mk 19 Full-automatic Grenade Launchers. Finally, the middle of the convoy was populated by a number of GMC Suburbans occupied by several contractors armed with some rather heavy personal firepower. In addition, two to three Tactical Vehicles inspired by the designs of Dillon Aerospace were located somewhere in the convoy, ready to surprise the enemy with overwhelming firepower from an M134D Minigun mounted inside each of these nondescript SUV's. Already, Ayaka's motorcade was a force to be reckoned with, but Poseidon Tactical upped the ante and tacked on a Huey gunship equipped with rocket pods and quadruple M60 machine gun mounts. Tatsumiya Mana would personally oversee the security of the Yukihiro motorcade from the helicopter and would be there to cover Ayaka's vehicle if the motorcade got ambushed, even extract their principle if things got really hairy.
As the motorcade exited the relative calm of friendly territory, tension amongst the security detail mounted as they put their game faces on while the gaggle of vehicles pressed on towards the actual 'city' of Mahora along the established Main Supply Route (MSR) Philadelphia, as it was called by the Coalition Forces. The 5-mile long two-lane stretch of blacktop asphalt concrete was flanked on either side by continuous elevated banks of grass, as if the road was cutting a valley through what had once been grassy plain. Indeed, the plain it had most likely been in its former life had very tall grass, providing ample concealment from eyes on the ground for potential ambushers. Thankfully, aerial observation was much harder to hide from, and Mana could make out a few human shapes—armed and dangerous ones, no less-- lying in wait less than half a mile ahead from the outriders in the convoy. Mana radioed the enemy locations to the motorcyclists, who leapt forward of the convoy to go clear out these nuisances by using their own brand of hit-and-run tactics. The motorcade pressed on in this manner, not even coming under stray fire. For Mana, clearing out these pathetic ambushers was child's play; the real challenge lay in traversing the urban area. They might have more ways to move, but their speed would be hampered by the small streets, and if they were bogged down in one particular area, the motorcade would be obliterated by enemy fire. But Mana, after having met the members of Wildfire Tactical Solutions, had come to trust them as experts in their field, and was willing to have faith that they could bring their comrades and principle safely through any sort of encounter.
Upon arriving in the city, Michael Kealington, who was with his team as they guarded Ayaka in both her vehicle and an escort in front of it, noted that the organizers had done an excellent job re-creating urban conflicts. Despite the war that was going on around them, civilians still milled about, ignoring the violence around them and trying to live a semblance of a normal life. There were still plenty of vehicles running around the city, though mass transit had been shut down, for scripted 'fears' that the systems could be used by insurgent groups to conduct terrorist attacks. Most of the shops were open despite the fact that property damage might become an issue with so many BB's flying around.
The convoy made a turn onto another road, this one devoid of people. This set off warning flags in the heads of Wildfire Tactical's members. This was rarely a good sign, and in previous experience, it meant they were rolling into a potential ambush.
"Eyes peeled, ladies and gents." radioed Michael. "I think we may be rolling into a trap, over."
"Copy that, Mike. We're thinking the same thing up here. Over." replied Ray Jennings, Wildfire Tactical's second-in-command.
A few meters ahead of the convoy, two RPG-7 tubes jutted out of windowsills, and as the convoy got within the right distance, the MRG players wielding them armed the rockets and squeezed the triggers. The rocket simulators slammed directly into the lead technical, catching the motorcade by surprise. On instinct, Yasumeko Jun, who was riding in Ayaka's vehicle along with Michael, pulled the class president to the floor of the SUV and shielded the blonde with her own body. Meanwhile, Michael, Pierre Blanc, and Hayder Al-Zahim aimed their weapons out of their windows and began putting down suppressive fire. Michael shouted an order to the drivers of all the Suburbans in the convoy.
"Guns up, peel out! Split up and rendezvous at the destination! Confuse the enemy and make their job more difficult!"
The drivers responded and all of the heavily-tinted SUV's raced out of the kill box in staggered formation before quickly turning into side streets and racing away before the enemy could get a bead on them. In Ayaka's vehicle, Wildfire Tactical member Sofia Thorborg firewalled the gas pedal as she quickly steered to the left, and quickly cleared the area of attack. Despite the considerable heft of the American-designed SUV, she was able to drive the vehicle as if it were an extension of her body. Having hailed from the birthplace of Saab automobiles, she had been off-road driving since the age of 13 on dirt tracks and was an accomplished amateur-circuit racer by the time she was old enough to drive on Sweden's roads. Her skills aided in her defensive driving as she slowed down entering a corner and then powered out on the exit as they raced through Mahora's streets before finding an open road and unleashing the full 500 horsepower of the customized Supercharged 6.2L Vortec V8 engine. Not too far behind was Mana's helicopter, providing overwatch for Ayaka's Suburban, ready to mow down any more MRG forces that were trying to kill or kidnap the principle. As they neared their destination, however, it looked like no one would be attempting to attack them anymore, at least for the time being. Mana radioed to the SUV below.
"Looks like you're in the clear, Bronco." said Mana, using the randomly-generated callsign for Michael. "It doesn't look like anyone else is gonna attack, and from this point in, Coalition Forces and Poseidon Tactical have the area secure, over."
"Copy that, Oracle. Any sign of the other vehicles, over?" replied Michael. Mana's callsign was originally 'Old Lady', but as soon as this popped up on the callsign generator, she placed a gun to the head of the computer's operator and had them pick another one that she would tolerate.
"Negative, Bronco. You guys are the first ones here. Perhaps it's best if you let the principle sit in her seat again; she can't be comfortable after being dragged to the floor and taken for a ride at close to 100 mph, over."
Michael realized Mana was right. He nodded to Jun, who was still shielding Ayaka up to this point, and the raven-haired 18-year-old helped the class president of 3-A back into her seat.
"Exciting enough for you, Yukihiro-san?" asked Jun with a smile.
"Perhaps too much, Yasumeko-san." replied Ayaka sheepishly. It would've been better if Negi-sensei was shielding me, she added mentally.
"All units, this is Bronco. We have reached the objective. Radio in once you're in the clear, over." ordered Michael. It took a few minutes, but Michael soon got responses from other vehicles in the convoy.
"Hammerhead reporting. All clear, over."
"Spitfire checking in. We've shaken the enemy, over."
"Bricktop calling. Coast is clear for us, over."
"Thunderbolt says hello, Bronco. Proceeding to objective now, over."
"Mustang saying howdy, Bronco. Regrouping at objective, over."
"Hellfire to Bronco, sorry to keep you waiting, over."
As the other Suburbans joined up with Bronco, they proceeded inside the guarded compound, followed by the technicals that survived the ambush and turned the tables on their attackers. Even the motorcyclists returned, looking a little worse for wear but amazingly unharmed. Pulling up to the shaded driveway, Natsume Reiko waited patiently, flanked by her bodyguards, as Ayaka's Suburban stopped at the entrance to the main building. The members of Wildfire Tactical exited first, scanning the perimeter for any potential threats, then allowing Ayaka to exit into their protective diamond formation. At the top of the stair set, the two presidents greeted each other.
"Konnichiwa, Yukihiro-dono." began Reiko. "I trust that your journey here was not too arduous?"
"We had a bit of excitement, Natsume-dono." admitted Ayaka. "Fortunately, it was nothing these very capable contractors couldn't handle. And please, feel free to call me Ayaka."
"I am glad that you are unharmed then, Ayaka-san. Likewise, you may call me Reiko." replied Reiko with a smile. "Come, let us go inside. There are more important matters to discuss at the moment."
As the two 'diplomats' went inside the building, the Poseidon Tactical convoy parked their vehicles elsewhere so as not to block the driveway. Their escort gunship had landed on the helipad nearby, and Mana quickly hopped out to speak with Michael while the rest of his team sat idly by in their vehicles, scanning for threats.
"Good job on the way in, protecting the principle." commended Mana. "I'll be sure to reflect your hard work in your teams' salary."
"Thank you very much, Tatsumiya-taishou." replied Michael. "I am glad my team is able to be of notable service to you."
"You're very welcome. Now, for the return trip, we are changing the contingency profile. My helicopter will no longer be around to cover you in case of attack. Split up like everyone else and make sure you're not followed."
"Why the change in profile, Tatsumiya-taishou?" asked Michael, puzzled. "Our strategy worked the first time. No one messed with us."
"One cannot use the same trick twice, Kealington-san. To outwit our enemy, we must first outwit their decision-making ability. No doubt, some of them have witnessed our helicopter following your car specifically. We can use that assumption to our advantage, at least temporarily. If we come under attack, our helicopter will follow another vehicle while you try to sneak past and take advantage of the confusion to escape. Same idea as meeting up here, in which all transports regroup at the destination when their mission is complete. If you have any other ideas, let me know before we leave."
"Well, the only route out of here is MSR Philadelphia. I think as soon as most of us meet up there, we'll definitely have to travel in staggered formation for better protection."
"Good idea. I'll relay it to the other teams."
Meanwhile, inside the CIGA compound, Reiko and Ayaka discussed the political future of Mahorastan, most importantly, how the locals were going to interact with the Coalition Forces.
"Ayaka-san, once the major fighting is over, what do you intend to do? Do you have any plans for rebuilding Mahorastan's government?" asked Reiko.
"To be completely honest, I'm not entirely certain." admitted Ayaka. "As far as I know, I will most likely try to establish a representative or parliamentary government, similar to the American or British systems. Ultimately, however, I know the Free Mahorastan Alliance will be influencing most of my decisions. Not really the best way to run things, but in all honesty, I have no other real alternative. What about the Coalition Forces? How will they assist in the transitional process?"
"For my part, we'll try to be as Laissez-Faire as possible. The Coalition Forces are trying to avoid a CPA-type situation that bogged down the rebuilding effort and simply skimmed off of the local economy. Instead, we'll reduce our presence and role to that of a peacekeeping force and let the Mahorastani people do as they wish. We certainly won't leave the FMA out of this; we'll probably have them become the military force for Mahorastan, which means leaving behind some Special Forces troops as instructors and advisors. You have my word that the Coalition Forces will interfere as little as possible."
Ayaka smiled. "Thank you, Reiko-san. I accept your promise."
Reiko grinned in response. "Wonderful! For this, we must have a toast. I'll be back shortly."
The high school student council president walked off to the kitchen while Ayaka simply turned to observe the flowers in the nearby garden. With her attention diverted, she didn't notice as Reiko slipped a black book-shaped item and some stick-like objects from her blazer into Ayaka's purse.
The meeting had finally ended, and as Ayaka bade farewell to Reiko, the convoy pulled up to pick up its principle, and as they headed out the gate, the technicals and motorcycles were once again in the lead. In Ayaka's Suburban, the class president noticed a little bit of added weight to her purse. She quickly dug through it for anything unfamiliar, and pulled out a black book-shaped object. Causing surprise to her and alarm to the contractors around her, she found the note attached and read it:
If you're reading this note, then you have received my present. While you weren't looking, I slipped a Magpul FMG-9 and a number of gas Glock magazines into your purse. I understand that your guards are capable people, and I am certainly not downplaying their ability, but I give you this concealable weapon as a means to defend yourself. Those who survive have a habit for planning contingencies for emergency situations. In this case, this is to be used if your guards are incapacitated or otherwise unable to continue their work. Accompanied are instructions on how to open and use this weapon. Hopefully, you never will have to, but it's best not to take chances.
As Ayaka and Jun finished reading the letter, both breathed a sigh of relief. Then, the female contractor chided her principle concerning the discovery of the apparently helpful object.
"Yukihiro-san, that was extremely dangerous. Next time, before we leave an area like that, I would appreciate it if I was allowed to inspect your belongings for anything harmful." voiced Jun concernedly.
"But this ultimately turned out not to be a dangerous, but instead helpful object! Isn't that enough?" replied Ayaka.
"Yukihiro-san, Natsume-san could have just as easily been an enemy. We don't know everything that the Coalition forces are going to do. All we know are the joint missions that we perform. We certainly don't know the true extent of the motives of each faction. You lucked out this time, but from now on, I will need to inspect any belongings or luggage you bring around. I apologize if I seem to be invading your privacy, but your safety is my primary concern."
"I understand, Yasumeko-san. Next time, I'll go to you first."
As the convoy proceeded from the city to MSR Philadelphia, Ayaka checked out her present from Reiko. According to the manual, the FMG-9 was basically a concealable personal defense weapon comprised of a modified Glock 17 pistol. It only had one firing mode, and Reiko had selected the full-automatic variant for her. A Glock 18 select-fire pistol, on the other hand, was not designed to work with the FMG-9's design, as there was no way to control the fire selector from the outside of the weapon. She read the instructions on its operation, and learned how to deploy the weapon for action, pressing a release button to ready the weapon. The book-shaped item split in half, the latter half of the FMG-9 rotating 180 degrees to fall in line with the other half of the weapon. A pistol grip flipped down 90 degrees, the trigger revealing itself as it locked into place, and a small foregrip flipped down from the muzzle end of the weapon. Fascinated, Ayaka inserted a extended Glock magazine into the hollow grip and she confirmed its loading when she heard the click of the magazine release locking and seating the ammunition in place. She then pulled the small charging handle with the knuckle of her index finger and let it slam home to chamber the first round of the magazine. She shouldered the weapon to get a feel for it, then just as suddenly folded the weapon back up. It wasn't something she needed right now, and hopefully she would not have to use it.
Her thoughts on the matter had barely been finished when an explosion occurred about 5 car lengths ahead. A roadside IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was set off as one of the technicals in the lead passed it by, removing the technical and all its occupants from action. The Suburbans quickly moved into stagger stack formation as they all floored it in a high-speed escape attempt. Mana cursed herself for not considering this, and was somewhat thankful that Michael had the foresight to have the convoy deploy into a stagger if they came under attack.
Damn, I should have known! Thought Mana, frustrated. The shell game trick won't work here; there's only one escape route. We have to defend on speed, agility, and firepower to get out of this one!
RPG's attempted to take down the Huey Mana was hitching a ride on, and the door gunners on either side responded with a hail of automatic fire. For single-barreled suppression purposes, nothing beat the custom-made MG3 machine guns mounted in lieu of the traditional M60. The real weapon's predecessor, the MG42, could fire up to 1,500 rounds per minute. With scaled down ammunition, a robust propulsion and air supply, and large ammunition reserves, the two door gunners rained plastic on the sides of the road, attempting to obliterate the enemy with a mighty sweep of fire.
On the ground, Ayaka was once again pinned to the floor of the Suburban as Jun shielded her while the men in the vehicle fired their personal weapons out the window once again. As they sped past their attackers lining the road, a burst of BB's streaked into Michael's chest and throat. With the wind knocked out of him, he collapsed against his seat, the muzzle of his AKM hitting the floor of the car. Beside him, Sofia cursed as she noted his condition.
"Jävlar! Mike's down! Pierre! Defibrillator, now!" shouted the Swede over the din of battle.
"Coming your way, mon ami." replied the Frenchman, tossing a small electronic device. Without looking, she caught the device and attached the electrodes to Michael's vest. The defibrillator design was more akin to a civilian Automatic External Defibrillator, and it was much simpler to use than the 'shock paddle' style of defibrillators. Once the electrodes were attached, Sofia fumbled for the controls of the AED and punched the red button when she heard a tone. Michael was quickly returned to play, drawing in air that had been driven out by the compression of his sensor vest. Picking up his AKM and racking the charging handle, he peeled the electrodes off and readied his weapon for firing.
"Thanks, Sofia. I owe you one."
"Save it for later, boss. We're not out of the woods yet."
Sofia's words proved true when enemy fire tagged a hit sensor mounted in the vicinity of the engine bay. The Suburban suddenly lost all power and came to a shuddering stop. The smoke generator billowed puffs of red smoke, indicating the vehicle was disabled, but not destroyed. Sofia attempted to restart the engine, only to be met with silence. Michael quickly used his personal radio to summon backup.
"All units, this is Bronco. Our vehicle is disabled, can anyone assist, over?"
"Bronco, this is Oracle. Switch to our original contingency plan. Pop smoke and make your way into the field for a suitable LZ. We have you covered, over." replied Mana as her Huey strafed the sides of the MSR with guns and rockets.
As it passed over Ayaka's Suburban, Sofia deployed white smoke grenades to mask the position of the Suburban from enemy eyes and racked the pump on her Remington M870 Shorty as she retrieved it from the space between her seat and the center console. The Suburban's occupants quickly dismounted, Sofia taking point as they made their way to the field on the side of the road. Two MRG soldiers were waiting on the other side of the smokescreen to ambush them, but Sofia was smart enough to not take chances. Working the pump quickly, she let loose two blasts of .2 gram BB shot right into the vests of their would-be attackers as they dashed through the smoke. Sofia tossed out a green smoke grenade to mark the LZ for the gunship as it circled round to land. No sooner had the landing skids settled on the grass than when Mana leapt out and raced several meters from the helicopter before dropping to a knee and opening fire on MRG forces trying to rush the group from the smokescreen still lingering on the MSR. As she did this, Ayaka's security detail automatically fell into a maneuver known as the Australian Peel. While Ayaka was rushed to the helicopter, Mana furiously expended all the ammunition in her M21's magazine. Michael, who was directly behind her, opened fire on full auto while Mana spun to her left and dashed to the back of a single-file line as she reloaded. When Michael 'peeled' off to the helicopter, Hayder took up the firing, followed by Pierre, then Mana again.
As Mana used up her most recent magazine, she turned to reload and board the Huey when three rounds struck her right rear calf. Losing her balance, Mana fell to the ground while the Ayaka and the Wildfire team members warned her about the MRG soldier quickly approaching. Mana rolled sideways to draw her pistol, but she quickly found it blasted out of her hand by the enemy, who was moving in for the kill. Mana was resigned to her fate when....
The soldier was riddled in the chest with a 10-round burst. As the MRG soldier slumped to the grass, Mana turned around to see Ayaka extending one hand to help the mercenary to her feet and return her pistol, and holding her new FMG-9 in the other, index finger within easy reach of the trigger. Mana held onto Ayaka's forearm and carefully got to her feet before retrieving her pistol from the class president's hand.
"Thank you, Ayaka-san. You should've left without me, though." said Mana.
"And lose the leader of these fine bodyguards? Absolutely not. You would've done the same for me; after all, I'm the one paying your contract." replied Ayaka with a grin.
"Good point." replied Mana with a smile. The two quickly boarded the Huey and the helicopter dusted off towards the Poseidon Tactical compound. As Mana looked back at the now cluttered MSR Philadelphia, she got on the radio to HQ to send out a wrecker unit. The disabled vehicles on the MSR would impede traffic flow, if not make a perfect ambush point for enemy forces.
"HQ, this is Oracle. Requesting a towing crew to mile marker 5 of MSR Philadelphia, I count zero-five disabled units that need to be removed ASAP. I'm authorizing gunship support and armed escort for the crew, over."
"Copy, Oracle. Dispatching wrecker to designated location. Out."
Mana watched MSR Philadelphia for a few minutes before sighting a Little Bird flying over a gaggle of technicals driving in formation around a heavily-armored American-made Mack M915 modified into a heavy-duty tow truck with a dozer plow mounted some distance from its front bumper in order to protect its operators from IEDs and mines. Just in case the truck itself came under attack, there was a roof-mounted remote weapon station slaved to the front passenger's binocular video sighting system, which worked on the same concept as the chain gun mounted on the US Army AH-64 Apache. Wherever the passenger looked, the weapon aimed, and a built-in camera helped the user see what was in their blind spot if they had to check the rear without using mirrors. Much of Poseidon Tactical's technology and vehicles were furnished by both Wildfire Tactical and Excalibur Tactical Group, the latter of which Michael's father was President and CEO. Because of this link, it was something of a downplayed fact that Excalibur Tactical was also field-testing equipment in a simulated combat scenario before modifying the technology for combat usage with live weapons and ammunition.
Mana looked at the wrecking team with interest before diverting her attention to returning to HQ. As far as she was concerned, the mission was a success.
Across Mahora, the MRG was suffering a number of serious defeats by the other three factions pitted against it. The FMA had successfully destroyed a major ammunition and supply dump (using 'explosives' supplied by the Coalition Forces) and taken the bell tower they were using as an observation post. Against the contractors of Poseidon Tactical, they had failed to capture Democratic Mahorastan Party representative Yukihiro Ayaka, failed to prevent the taking of Library Island, and despite causing many casualties to the contractors, failed to prevent humanitarian supplies from reaching a refugee camp. Against the Coalition Forces, one more failure was added to their list when several hostages they were holding were rescued by three Special Forces platoons that managed to hold off more or less an entire company of MRG troops and escape with the hostages. This gratuitous amount of bad news enraged Evangeline. The constant success of her enemies felt like an insult to the feared and infamous Maga Nosferatu. She was still trying to cope with the fact that mere toys had managed to wipe out not just Chachamaru (which by all accounts should've been impossible), but an entire battalion of her troops as well. At this point, even the slightest bit of good news would be welcome, hopefully before she lost her temper and killed a subordinate with an entire magazine from her AK-47 and the strength of her own two hands. As luck would have it, a rather nervous subordinate interrupted her thoughts with a report.
"G-General McDowell, ma'am?" asked the MRG player with a clipboard in his hands.
"What is it?" hissed Evangeline venomously, her patience clearly worn thin.
"W-We've received a report of a Coalition radioman separated from her platoon. Witnesses report her having been part of the Coalition SF platoon that snatched out our hostages. Our forces are now pursuing her as we speak. How do you want them to proceed?"
Evangeline grinned devilishly. This was exactly the kind of good news she needed. "Allow me to speak with event control first."
Evangeline called into the event control station from her radio set. "Event Control, this is MRG HQ. Requesting a mission to capture a Coalition radioman currently attempting to flee our territory, over."
A few seconds passed, then a response. "Acknowledged, MRG HQ. Your new mission is to capture the Coalition radioman, who we believe may hold valuable radio codes. As this can tip the odds severely in your favor, we are assigning a 700-point value to this mission. Over and out."
Evangeline grinned and turned to her subordinate. "Tell our forces to capture her alive. Use whatever means necessary."
At the Coalition Forces Airfield, cheers erupted as the helicopters bringing back the Spec Ops team and hostages came in to land. As the passengers dismounted, Negi watched with a tired smile, having returned from the ruckus on Library Island. The War Pigs returned as well, mainly to patch up the partially damaged 'Fat Man'. No longer willing to risk the sort of damage that Chachamaru wreaked, the automotive safety glass was replaced with ballistic glass that would stop up to .338 Lapua Magnum rifle rounds. The body of the vehicle, thankfully, had not been damaged since it was designed to stop up to .50 BMG ammunition. The only trace of Chachamaru potentially damaging the vehicle were scuff marks left by multiple BB hits to the outer metal of the vehicle, but these could be buffed out and made to vanish.
As Negi reloaded his magazines and topped them off with ammunition, Yue, Diana, and Eric approached him, having ran all the way from the helicopters.
"Negi-taishou! Negi-taishou, there's a problem!" announced Yue frantically.
"What's the matter, Yue-san?" asked Negi worriedly.
"Mega Hawk flight took off without Nodoka, Negi!" stated Diana gravely.
"Commander Negi, we need to go back in there and get Nodoka out of enemy territory!" demanded Eric. "The enemy's on her trail now, and we don't have time to waste!"
"I understand this, now let me call it in!" replied Negi, riled up by the sudden influx of bad news. He connected to Event Control and did the same thing as Evangeline.
"Event Control, this is Coalition HQ. Requesting a search-and-rescue mission to retrieve radioman Miyazaki Nodoka, over!"
"Affirmative, mission is go, Coalition HQ. Better hurry. The MRG's mission is to capture her for several hundred points. She's got radio codes that I'm sure you don't want going to the enemy. Over and out."
With the end of the radio transmission, Negi turned to the three Special Forces platoon members in front of him.
"We've got several hundred points riding on this, as well as Nodoka-san's safety. Your rescue mission is granted, now go and get her out of there! We don't leave our comrades behind, got it?!" ordered Negi.
"Sir, yes sir!" replied Diana, Yue, and Eric, saluting. Negi returned the salute and watched as the three gathered more ammunition and raced to a waiting helicopter. All Negi could do was watch them go and pray that they and Nodoka would return safely.
Please, everyone. Be safe. Get Nodoka-san out of there in one piece.
To Be Continued
The race for Nodoka is on! Who will get to her first? How will she survive, alone, and hunted in enemy territory? Can her comrades save her in time?
Also in the next chapter, it is a known fact that every army marches on its stomach, regardless of the army's size. As Azure Typhoon breaks temporarily for a lunch break, how does the staff of Chao Bao Zi handle 4 armies of some very hungry people? All that and more in the next chapter, Salvation before lunch!