Chapter Two (Showdown)

Ash filled the broken room—

Deunan found herself back up against a cracked wall, catching her breath. The last several minutes were chaotic. A blur of gunfire and explosions. Their cover had been blown. Tokyo was not safe anymore.

"The target has been silenced," responded Isamu over the radio.

Deunan breathed a sigh of relief. She wiped the ash from her eyebrow and glanced out the shattered window. The enemies' helicopter lay burning in the middle of the street. A successful shot from the Brick sent it crashing down.

"What's the status on the shooters?" she asked.

"We still have no kill confirmation."

She huffed.

"Briareos is checking it out."

It was only a few blocks after the abandoned shop when Deunan and her team had been ambushed. They had run across what seemed to be a base "tower system." Two building corners reinforced with metal sheets and tables. It wasn't so clear that they were defenses until they were nose to nose with the enemy. An unfortunate turn of events.

"Daiki," she said, "how's Hachi?"

There was a brief moment of silence before his voice came on.

"He got clipped in the leg."

"Is it bad?"

"I should be able to patch him up at base."

Hachi had been the first one hit. To survive in the city, one must be extremely quiet and cautious. Two traits that Hachiro doesn't have. He spent the walk talking about cooked food and a "nice hot shower" on his return to base. Fell behind a few times in his daydream state. But the more he talked, the more attention he got. Specifically an unfriendly bullet in the leg.

"Get him home."

She pulled out the empty cartridge and dropped it on the ground. No use caring it around. It would take too long to refit it with ammo.

"What about the bandits?" asked May.

"The fight is over," she explained, "we don't need to make our presence known to all over Japan."

Mayumi didn't answer. She was too hot in the fight to just walk away. But there was nothing a sniper could do with no backup. So she left the line silent.

Deunan made her way outside. The helicopter still burned. It had landed on top of an old rusted van. The untouched gas tank had been hit by the copter and blew up. Fueling the fire longer. Just outside the building was Daiki and Hachiro.

Daiki laid Hachi up against the wall as he wrapped his leg up.

"…that's why you don't walk with your big mouth open," said Daiki.

Hachi rolled his eyes a bit. Too tired to respond. The loss of blood and adrenaline had weakened him quite a bit.

"You all right, Hachi?" Asked Deunan.

He looked up with a weak smile. His expression was awkward from his limp eyelids.

"Yeah, me too." She said.

Deunan felt bad for earlier. She was so wrapped up with Briareos and the cyborg conversation, that she didn't give anyone else the time of day. Especially Hachiro. The one who didn't get her aggravation.

On their way out, he kept asking her questions about their hideout. If they had a good food supply. The possibility of a hot shower, etc. At the time, his childish remarks were bothersome and she brushed him off angrily. But after seeing him get shot and laying there beaten, her circumstances weren't so important anymore.

"When we get back," she said, "we'll get you a nice bowl of hot—"

A gun shot from the distance, smothering her words. Hachi's chest cavity opened at the punch of a sniper round. His body went limp, smearing blood on the wall.

"Hachi!" Screamed Daiki.

Deunan shot up, yelling into her radio, "Sniper! Take him out!"

She pulled him back behind an old car.

"Daiki," she barked.

His wide eyes couldn't look away from Hachi's dead face. He just kept staring at him.

She pulled his face towards her, "Get yourself together… Daiki. We need to get the sniper, you hear me? We need your help."

Her words were stiff as she looked him straight in the eyes.

"Get your gear and let's go."

He finally blinked, nodding in response. His gun was by Hachi's side, right in the open for the sniper. There was no way he could safely get to it. So he pulled out his pistol, clicking the safety off.

Deunan spoke into the radio, "Briareos, what's your location?"

"Second tower is clear. The bandits left this place already." He said.

"Kat, I need you to get visual. We're in the dark down here."

"I'm lookin' right now. I believe he's at the bottom of the first tower."

"Be careful, he already got Hachi."

Another loud shot came from ahead. It hit the ledge of the window above. Bits of cement crumbled down, dusting the ground below.

The soft crackle of the burning copter distilled the silence. It was the only thing making noise. Deunan wiped her cold nose. The smell of old gasoline and burnt rubber had finally made its way around the street. It was sickening, and potent. The flames took up some of the overgrowth and sent it floating back down like hot snow.

The combination of the thick smoke and cold fog had darkened the skies. There were no stars out tonight. At least none that anyone could see. It was the familiar atmosphere of the warzone.

"And ash will litter the sky," she whispered to herself.

Deunan wasn't too much of a religious person. Never believed in the end of the world. Even after the Great War had ended. When all civilizations had collapsed and left to ruin. But now and then, in the heat of battle, she would remember biblical verses. The ones her mother would read. It seemed like every day there was something else that lined up with the Book of Revelations.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Isamu, "I think he's trying to hit me."

Another shot had gone off. This time it was closer to Isamu on the second floor.

"He's trying to spook you out. Make you move from your hiding," explained Deunan.

"He's got an M82 like mine," said Mayumi, "I'd know that shot from anywhere."

A sharp burst came from above. Three stories up a small flash of light had popped. It happened twice. But before Deunan could say anything, Kat had chimed in.

"Got the bastard! He was by the door to the le—"

Another heavy shot came from the first tower. It echoed louder this time, crashing straight into the wall three stories up. Kats voice had stopped.

"Kat, are you oka—"

"That was an Mk 211 shot! Kat!" May screamed in the radio.

Deunan had no idea what that meant. She sort of knew about sniper rifles. The fact that they could pierce through armor. But the thing with rifles is that it's a one shot deal. If Kat was hit, it would have only wounded him. But Mayumi's reaction had made her unsure.

She didn't hesitate to run back into the building. Quick dodge around the door and straight up the stairs. Deunan ran as fast as she could, blocking out the overwhelming chatter on the radio. She didn't even tell Daiki anything. Just left him sitting there behind the car.

A quick sprint up the stairs and down the hallway, she was at the third level. Where Kat was at. She peered into the room.

The window was completely shattered. Below it, a dark form lying on the ground. It was Kat.

Duenan ran up to him, crouching. His entire side was riddled with shards. Torn and bloody, Kat was dieing. The sniper round had exploded the wall inside, covering him with shrapnel rounds. That's when she heard May.

"…one shot can clear an entire room."

Mayumi was desperately trying to convey the extremeness of the situation to Deunan. Tried to get the importance across. She couldn't do anything for Kat herself since she was across the street. The only one who could take action to help him was Deunan. Who knew nothing of the true power and capability of the M82.

Deunan responded, "He's still alive. We need to get him back to base, now!"

A round of machinegun bursts echoed through the streets. The building ahead lit up with sparks.

When it settled, Briareos spoke, "First tower is clear. The sniper is dead."