A/N: I do not own Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' Kiesha'ra book series.

Hawksong: Modern Warfare

My breathing was steady, controlled. In and out, in and out. I gripped the barrel of my rifle tightly as I proceeded into the fire zone.

The smell was overpowering. Avian blood, splattered and smeared in the dirt and grass, mingled with serpiente blood to create a ghastly odor. A fire had raged earlier in the forest to my left—the acrid smell of burning wood was strong. Alongside the smell of fire was that of steal, of lead, of charred and broken metal scattered throughout the battlefield. And above all was the smell of gunpowder, freshly ignited just moments ago in the heated firefight.

I heard a strangled cry from the forest to my left, then the sharp crack of a rifle. The crack resounded through the area; it sounded like a high-powered rifle, perhaps a .50 caliber.

I jogged into the trees. After a half minute, I looked up to see an image that would forever be imprinted into my skull.

"Oh, god no! Xavier!"

His body lay there, curled up beneath a tree. Golden hair covered his pale forehead. He was completely pale, the blood leaked out of him through the six bullet holes in his chest. He was dead, just like my sister and father, like my aunts, uncles, and friends. He was dead, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I was the last child.

I had emotional constipation. I should've cried, wanted to cry, needed to cry. Yet my eyes were as dry as the forest underbrush in the summer. I did not cry, or wail, or scream out my pain. Not here. Not on the front lines.

Front lines. I looked up. Lying behind his body was Xavier's rifle. It was huge: a massive, .50 caliber Barret M29 anti-vehicular sniper rifle. The thing stretched six feet from butt to muzzle, completely dwarfing the M14 hunting rifle in my hands. I reached out and stroked the weapon. The barrel was warm. The shot I heard from outside the forest was from this gun.

I gazed longingly at Xavier's eyelids, wishing them to flutter open, wishing my beloved brother to come back to life. Nothing happened. Wishing never got me anywhere.

"Take him home," I ordered.

"You should come home too, Shardae."

I turned around. Andreios stood behind me, his assault rifle in hand, along with an elite flight from the avian army. All of them had their assault rifles ready. We were vulnerable this far behind enemy lines.

"I won't be here long. Just wanna secure the area."

I heard another yell come from deeper in the trees. Andreios caught my arm. "There's no need for that one."

I would have agreed with him under normal circumstances. But, after walking these bloody battlefields for hours and helplessly watching both friends and foes die slow deaths, I didn't want to abandon another soul.

"Why not?" I demanded.

I heaved up Xavier's rifle—damn, it was heavy—and slung it across my shoulder. Then, I started toward the sound, practically shoving Andreios out of the way.

"I'll be back shortly."

I left Andreios and his squad to stare dumbly at me as I proceeded through the trees. I heard a moan come from nearby, and out of habit I lifted my rifle to my shoulder and scanned the area for hostiles. There were none. The only person in the vicinity was a man slumped against a rock.

At first, I didn't recognize him. But when I saw his jet black hair and the deep garnet color of his pained eyes, I immediately identified him. Gregory Cobriana. Serpiente royalty. My enemy.

Right now, however, I felt no anger toward him, toward what his kind did to my people and family. I was tired. I felt like a robot underneath my layer of avian reserve.

As soon as I began walking toward him, the serpiente prince stopped his cries for help and focused his garnet eyes on me. I thought I would've frozen on the spot—all the myths said staring directly into a serpiente's eyes meant instant paralysis. Somehow, though, I continued forward until I was beside Gregory. I knelt.

Aside from a few cuts and bruises, Gregory didn't have any other major injuries except for the gigantic hole in his stomach. The hole that my brother no doubt shot in him while trying to defend himself. I was amazed Gregory was still alive after being shot by the .50 caliber. Xavier's rifle was designed to shoot through the armor plating of serpiente Humvees and tanks. By all rights, Gregory's innards should have been strewn everywhere. Yet the hole seemed pretty clean cut, at least by comparative standards.

Why Xavier's shot didn't kill Gregory was not the main priority. The main priority was deciding whether to kill Gregory now, or let him suffer.

Gregory deserved to suffer and die a slow death, considering all the things his fellow snakes had done to us. But, watching his agony, I couldn't summon the rage to leave him where he was. I was compelled to end his life now, compelled to take him out of this hellish world of war and hatred.

As if reading my mind, Gregory whispered, "End it. Now."

I closed my eyes, gritting my teeth, preparing myself to do the deed. Reluctantly, I reached my right hand to my hip and retrieved the 9 millimeter handgun holstered there. I took it out and put it to Gregory's chest.


The shout shocked me to my legs. I pointed my pistol around, searching for the person who shouted it.

"Hawk," I heard the prince whisper mockingly. I wanted to whip back around, but my reflexes weren't as fast as a snake's. I was a second too late.

While I was searching for the hostile, Gregory had taken out his own silenced pistol. He was pointing it at my chest.

It had been a trap, right from the start.

I barely had time to dive backwards before the bullets started flying. In his near-death condition, Gregory didn't even have the ability to shoot me at point-blank range. Instead, the bullets whizzed past my body and legs as I dove behind a tree for cover.

The sound of a gunfight really got Andreios's attention. He and his squad stormed toward me, firing their guns at the serpiente soldiers I had failed to notice earlier. Andreios was shouting for me to get down, when I heard the returning fire of the serpiente's silenced weapons.

No time to retrieve my rifle, which I had set next to Gregory and forgotten to pick up when the shooting started. I only had my handgun. There were 15 rounds in the magazine. I hadn't packed more ammunition because this wasn't supposed to be a long excursion.

I peaked around the trunk. Gregory was slumped against the rock, his chest already riddled with bullets. Past him, I counted four serpiente firing through the trees. I heard the quiet pings of silenced pistols as well as the louder rapping noises of silenced sub-machine guns. They were armed and fighting back hard. Still, I was thankful that none of them had a shotgun.

Andreios and his squad took cover beside me. A barrage of bullets flew toward us. I stuck my pistol out and fired at the nearest enemy. He seemed about fifty feet away, but it was hard to hit him through the shadows and eaves of the trees and brush. I fired eight rounds. I don't think any of them hit.

I hid behind my tree and stayed there until the firefight ended. It was probably only a minute or two, but it felt like an hour to me. When all I heard was the panting of Andreios's squad, I risked a second peak. All four of the serpiente soldiers were down.

"Dani, what the hell is wrong with you?"

Andreios yelled as he ran up to me. He looked intimidating—an avian man with an M4 Carbine running towards a girl with nothing but a handgun. The worry in his face, however, brought me back to earth.

"You could've gotten yourself killed there!"

"I couldn't just leave Gregory Cobriana to die like that, Andreios. No one should die like that."

"He wasn't dying if he could plan an ambush like that."

I couldn't say anything against that. I had almost joined Gregory.

Still, the pain in his eyes. The hole in his chest—or holes, now. The torture he was going through was palpable.

But, once again, there was nothing I could do. Gregory was dead, and so were four of his comrades.

Somberly, I walked over to his body and picked up my rifle where I had left it. It remained unscathed. I gazed up at Gregory's body, now little more than a carcass. The horrors, the brutalities of the war…

I couldn't even look Andreios in the eyes as I holstered my weapons and said, "Alright. Let's head back."

We took off into the air—a golden hawk, a crow, and several ravens, all with guns strapped to their backs. We turned back toward the capital city, leaving the smoldering front lines in our wake.

A/N: Just to be clear. This story has no connection to the actual Modern Warfare game from the Call of Duty game franchise. Some of the weapons mentioned in this Fanfic are based off of real weapons; however, none of it is solid, proven fact. The "Modern Warfare" title is just a reference to the changed time period of the story from the traditional setting of Hawksong.

Just clearing things up. :)