Chapter 2:

The bloody mask

BRO: Battle Royale Online

The girl froze, not daring to breathe. The three men were armed, the finger on the trigger. If they saw us, they would not hesitate. She understood this and tried to make herself even smaller than she already was.

Scrupulously, they went around the room.

"No one…"

"It's strange, I'm sure the voices were coming from here."

As they approached the corpse, she closed her eyes, the pressure was unbearable. One of the men pushed the corpse lightly with the tip of his rifle. The rookie stifled a cry of panic.

I beg you, don't move!

I couldn't see her from where I was, but I could hear everything that was going on in the room. My grip tightened on my pistol. I had to act quickly or they would find her. A thought crossed my mind:

But wait a second: why should I care about her? I don't know her… And she even tried to kill me! I'm not going to risk losing just for her! Am I? Yes... that's exactly what I'm about to do. I'm such an idiot. What the hell, it's her first game, and it's kind of my fault too that she's in this situation, hiding under a corpse.

The image I had of her trembling with fear like a little rabbit, bathed in a dead man's blood, was amusing and touching at the same time.

Inside the room, the situation was changing.

"According to its countdown, the corpse must have been there for just over five minutes. They can't be far away."

"Let's look around a bit more. You, go to the window and see if they're already on the street!"

5 minutes... The body will soon disappear! If they find her like this at their feet, they'll shoot her! I have to act fast!

The man who had been ordered to do so leaned out of the window.

Noooo! Not the window!

The soldier turned his head towards me. He was surprised to find someone standing on the narrow ledge along the facade. But I didn't give him time to express it. He was shot in the head. With an almost unreal slowness, the body tilted into the void.

The other two rushed to the window. I had nowhere to hide, I was done for. Unless…

"Kid! Now!"

Hearing my cry of distress, she understood immediately. Reaching out from under the corpse she swept the legs of the two men. Surprised by a shock they had not expected, they fell to their knees. My pistol still smoking, I threw myself into the room. I shoved the nearest one and smashed his head against the window sill before putting a bullet in his skull. The second man, still in shock, held his pistol towards me, but I snatched it from him with a knee blow. Now unarmed, he realized he was done for. I shot him in the forehead as well.

The girl looked at me, her eyes wide with astonishment. I nodded to her and slumped between the still-warm bodies. That little skirmish had left me breathless.

It's a good thing she understood what I wanted. Maybe she's not so bad after all.

With a wave of my hand, I signaled her to come closer. Surprisingly, she didn't move. Or rather: she moved slightly so as to replace herself behind the body.

What's wrong with her?

She stared at the corridor with a frightened look.

Oh no, not again!

Just as I feared, a fourth man was standing in the doorway.

"Looks like you had fun."

The man pointed his gun at me, a rapid-fire assault rifle. We were in trouble. With a slight movement of his barrel, he invited me to hand him my pistol. Not having much choice, I complied and threw it at his feet. He bent down to pick it up and threw it through the window.

"The sniper rifle now," he said with a big smile, certain of his victory.

Again, I complied and the gun also ended up in the street below with a sound of breaking metal.

"Oops sorry, I should have realized that this was a cheap gun. But now that it's done, slowly crawl to me."

That's when I understood: he thought I was alone! He hadn’t seen the girl in her hiding place! And she still had her pistol!

He wants to humiliate me? Fine, let him enjoy this while he still can.

"Oh, and before I forget, you're also going to gently slide your knife towards me."

With a grunt, I complied. I was now completely unarmed. While holding me at gunpoint, he retrieved my knife and slipped it into one of his pockets. Then, with the tip of his weapon, he motioned me forward.

Slowly, I got down on my stomach and began to crawl towards the unknown. Turning my face towards the newbie, I moved my lips in silence, "Shoot! You have to shoot!"

Her panicked eyes shone through her bloody mask, she had understood me. Only, she didn't seem to want to cooperate.

But that's not possible! What is she doing? She has to shoot or we'll both die!

She held her gun firmly in her hands but refused to raise it to our opponent. Her hands were shaking and her breath was short. I slowly approached the man who was still gloating.

"Let’s hurry up, I don't have all day to kill you, you know? But still! To see one of the best players crawling like a worm in front of me! It's kind of a thrill, isn't it?"

Swallowing my pride, I continued to pull myself up to him.

Whatever I decide to do, I have to do it quickly: the girl will soon be defenseless…

I took one last look at the one I was counting on, but she was still trembling. Tears were starting to run down her cheeks.

Well, it looks like I'm done for... I wish I could have ended it some other way than being shot down by a dog.

I stopped crawling.

"What are you doing?" he barked.

He came to stand right in front of me, then planted his rubber sole against my cheek, smashing my face against the concrete.

"Who told you to stop?"

With my cheek pressed to the ground, I could perfectly see the girl hidden underneath the body. I gave her a last farewell smile.

Slowly, she nodded. Something had changed. Her eyes were filled with a newfound determination. My eyes widened. Perhaps I had something left to try after all.

With a sharp tug, I pulled on my attacker's free leg. Deprived of his only stable support, he collapsed to the ground.

Brandishing his weapon, he shouted, "Ahh what are you playing at? I'll kill you, you hear me!"

But before he could finish, I shouted back, "SHOOT!"

Astonishment painted itself on his face as his eyes widened in a mixture of surprise and fear. In a split second his crazed eyes roamed the room before settling on the corpse. He had understood.

At the same time the body disappeared, he had reached the end of its countdown. As if by magic, a young girl appeared in its place. She was cowering in a corner, her face covered by a mask of blood in which her tears were drawing furrows. But it was with a determined look that she pointed her pistol at him. When their eyes met, she fired.

For a moment time itself seemed to hold its breath. Then, the man let out a howl of pain. At such a close range, the shot had hit him with a violent shock that made him lose his weapon. His head hit the concrete floor and blood from his wound was already starting to spread on the ground. He stopped moving.

"I… Did I kill him? Oh my God, I killed someone!"

Sitting just a few meters from the body, she stared at him with horrified eyes. Her gun slipped from her hand and hit the ground with a metallic clang. Her hands were shaking. I looked at her in silence, not knowing what to say. It was not her fault, she didn't have the choice. She had to know that. But before I could open my mouth a moan came.

"Ah, that fricking hurts. You've pissed me off!"

The bullet was only lodged in his arm. I had been careless. He was still alive. With astonishing speed, he dragged himself to his assault rifle. I couldn't let him have it. With a deft kick, I sent his gun flying away, then threw myself at him. His wild eyes scanned the room for a solution or an escape. He noticed that the girl had dropped her pistol. It was lying at her feet, less than a meter from him. He had found the key to his escape.

Digging his fingers into the concrete, he dragged himself to the ground with all the energy of despair. Despite my weight on his back and his injuries, he was almost there. But I was determined to stop him.

As he struggled and crawled with jerky movements, I opened the pocket of his jacket that I had spotted earlier. With a slight smile of satisfaction, I pulled out my knife which he had hidden there a few minutes ago. At the same time, he grabbed the butt of the gun and turned around to face me with a victorious look. I lowered my blade against his armed hand. In a spray of blood, the pistol joined his rifle at the opposite end of the room.

Good. He was wounded, unarmed, and in hand-to-hand combat with me, in other words: he was dead. Realizing that he was done for, he wanted to open his mouth to plead for his life, but I didn't give him the time. With a slight groan, he collapsed to the ground, a gaping wound on his throat.

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