Chapter 9:

The attack of the fortress

BRO: Battle Royale Online

While Rin performed her distraction role to perfection, I advanced towards the enemy camp. The scan had just passed, revealing Rin's position to our enemies, but also theirs. Vague gunshots reached my ears. They seemed to come from a distance as if they had been muffled by something. Something like water, for example.

Standing still in the middle of the river, I let the current carry me slowly forward. In this world, I could hold my breath for several minutes, but even then, I was at my limit. I had immersed myself from head to toe just before the satellite passed, allowing me to escape its dangerous scan. Thanks to this little technique, which I had omitted during our discussion the previous day, I was now completely invisible. However, this stratagem was not very reliable and required a sufficient depth to attenuate the satellite's rays. As a result, I had never used it in practice. It would have been useless to talk to her about this second, rather hazardous means of escape, and it was still much classier to tell her that going underground was the only one way!

Satisfied with my success, I turned my gaze towards the surface. Despite the refraction of the light, I could still see my surroundings. The water was transparent enough for me to make out the metal shields that formed the enemy fortress. If I could see outside, then the reverse was true too, I silently prayed that the 5 dots I had seen displayed were heading towards Rin. If any of them had stayed behind, our whole plan was in danger of falling apart.

The shots became sharper and sharper, and I could now hear some kind of deformed voices. A little further ahead of me, planted in the stream, a pair of boots appeared. I had arrived.

In a flash, I sprang out of the stream. At the sound of water exploding behind him, the man turned, his assault rifle raised. Without giving him time to fire, I slipped behind his back like a deadly shadow and cut his throat with my knife. Before his weapon landed in the river, I grabbed it with my free hand. A skull icon appeared above the body and disappeared, as it got carried away by the torrent.

One down, four to go.

I put my knife in its holster, then checking that the assault rifle was well loaded, set off again. My wet weapons were useless for the moment, so I would have to improvise with what I could find.

Rin needed me, if I didn't get to her as soon as possible, she was going to be shot like a rabbit. At the thought of a shivering Rin, hiding behind a tree, holding a gun as heavy as useless for her small hands, an amused smile escaped me. But as much as I laughed, I didn't want anyone to hurt her. If those scoundrels ever hurt her, I wouldn't just shoot them. Oh no, I was going to make them regret every bullet they fired at my teammate. As quickly as it had come, my smile faded, giving way to a cold rage that I was the first to be surprised by.

No one in sight, strange... Glancing at the map, I discovered three red dots a little further away. The closest one was just away from the camp, slightly off-center as if to take advantage of the clear view. The other two seemed to be moving away from the camp and into the forest. One point was missing.

Well, I'll worry about that later, the important thing is to save Rin.

Diving into a trench, I started to move towards the most outlying point. Probably a sniper, if I left him alive too long he could become a real nuisance, forcing us to retreat into the camp.

Soon, the man appeared before me. He had everything of the elite soldier: from the muscular build to the cycling glasses, to the camouflage net. This feeling was not only due to his avatar but especially to the total absence of unnecessary movements. There was no doubt about his real profession. His every move seemed calculated, each of his slow, deep breaths seemed to be mastered to perfection. I swallowed, if I lost the element of surprise, I would be the one to be killed.

But I had a plan. I grabbed a rock sticking out of the bottom of the trench, and threw it with all my might behind the sniper's back in the hope of making him turn around. With a thud, the stone hit the ground a few meters from my opponent, right where I was aiming. Satisfied, I waited for him to turn around and reveal a gap. Only he did not react. Then slowly, he pointed his weapon at me.

It was a total failure. Not only had I lost my most valuable weapon, the element of surprise, but I had also betrayed my position. I was in trouble. If I didn't act quickly, he would warn his teammates. I had no choice, relying on my only remaining asset, I leaped out of my hiding place.

He was a soldier, a man used to real combat, he wouldn't hesitate for a second to shoot and he had to aim much better than any other player, including me. Only, therein lay his weakness. He was a soldier. A man used to real combat. But here, we were in a game. Far from the real thing he was used to. So it was with unreal agility that I threw myself out of the trench.

He fired. A whistle passed close to my ear, leaving a burn along my cheek. Still in the air, I fired back. The rifle spat out a shower of bullets. Most of them were lost in the thicket, but a shout rang out. Some must have hit their target. The man collapsed. I crashed to the ground, then scrambled to my feet, ready to dive for cover again. But the soldier did not move. With a familiar beep, the skull and crossbones icon appeared above him. I breathed a sigh of relief.

I had staked everything on my enhanced skills to win this confrontation. The man probably wasn't expecting me to come at him at such speed. I had done well to increase my agility. Only, my opponent had been formidable too. To be able to hit me at such speed with such a weapon, the man must have had quite the exceptional aim.

Saluting the corpse of my opponent with respect, I put myself back on guard. As I walked as quietly as possible, I felt a sticky liquid running down my cheek. Blood. That was a close call. Not even an inch to the left and he'd blown my brains out. I had really faced a talented opponent. Only now, I was also on the map. I was going to have to change my strategy, my opponents were now waiting for me.

A glance at my holographic map showed me that I was the only one whose position was displayed. The other two soldiers following Rin had stopped firing, becoming invisible again. Still, I advanced towards their last known position.

Leaving the trench that surrounded the camp, I crouched against the metal protections of the fortress, ready to fire at the slightest suspicious movement. Passing behind a metal crate that must have previously contained weapons, I reached the edge of the camp. As I was about to go out into the open, a metallic glint caught my attention, stopping me in my tracks. There, a few meters from the camp, crouched in the grass, was a soldier. Just behind him, a second one was watching the forest. As discreetly as possible, I crouched down under the crate. I took a deep breath.

Three... Two... One... Let's go!

Straightening up abruptly, I appeared in the field of vision of the opposing soldier. He gave a cry of surprise and brought his rifle up to his shoulder to aim, but I was faster. A hole in the middle of his forehead, he went down heavily. The second reacted in quick succession and showered my direction with a deadly rain. I crouched behind my cover. The metal crunched under the blows.

He swore as he came towards me. If I ever ventured out into the open, he would drop me like a fly before I could do anything. I was done for.

If I stay here I'm dead too! Come on, think! You can do it!

Suddenly, a shot rang out. On the other side of the metal wall, the man panicked.

Of course! I'm not alone anymore!

Silently thanking my comrade's courage, I fidgeted behind my hiding place. The soldier had his back to me, scanning the forest where the shot had come from. A small cloud of dust was rising not far away.

Rin hadn't even taken the time to aim! If she was ever able to, of course...

The man thought he was caught in the crossfire and had lost all control of the situation. He kept turning around, his frightened eyes darting back and forth between the metal box he suspected and the forest. It was from the metal box that death came. Emerging from my shelter, I put a single bullet between my opponent's eyes. With a slight groan of pain, his body joined that of his comrade lying in the tall grass. If one omitted the two small skulls floating above the thicket, no one would have suspected what was hidden there.

And that's four! Only one left! It was almost easier than expected. Come on, I'll quickly flush out the coward who's still hiding, and I'll have all the weapons at my disposal!

At this thought, a greedy look came over my face. If Rin had ever seen me, she would surely have disapproved. I felt a slight surprise as I realized that Rin's opinion now counted for me. Then shaking off this thought with a shrug, I stood up.

"Don’t move."

The hard feel of a gun barrel against my skull stopped me dead in my tracks.

"At the slightest movement, I fire without further warning."

The man holding me at gunpoint had clearly not come here to play. He had the calm and cold tone of those who are used to being obeyed.

"Tell your little friend to come out of hiding. If not, you can say goodbye to life."

Faced with a voice that would not be challenged, I swallowed. I sensed from his assurance that this was not the first time he had uttered these phrases. And I was more than willing to swear that the first time was not in a game.

But he wasn't shooting. Only, he was not like the players we had met in the morning who did not shoot for fun. No, his plan was much simpler: he was taking me as a hostage to force Rin to come out into the open. It was terribly effective.

Very quickly, a voice came from the forest, "Okay, I surrender! Don't hurt him!"

With these hesitant words, a hand emerged from behind a tree at the edge of the forest. With a clumsy gesture, it threw its gun in our direction. The weapon collapsed just a few meters from the thrower.

"That’s it! I have no other weapons, release him!"

"But who said anything about releasing him?"

Why on earth did she think it was smart?

"Get out of there! If you want it that much I'll release him but you'll have to take his place!"

Obviously, the man was clever, and a fine negotiator with that.

Rin answered, "All right! I'll come out slowly, don't shoot!"

Suddenly, I shouted, "Rin! Don't do that!"

To shut me up, the soldier cocked his rifle butt. Only, I had planned it. Taking advantage of my superhuman speed, I moved my head out of the way, ready to draw my knife.

A shock fell against my temple.

"Whoa! What are you trying to do? Who told you to move?"

The man spoke in a light tone, amused by my desperate attempt.

I see... He too is a player...

Despite the blow that clouded my thoughts, I had grasped the nature of our opponent. The very reason why my attempt had failed. More than a soldier, he was a player. His abilities were also enhanced! He didn't seem to be all about agility and speed like I was, but the very fact that he was able to follow my move and adjust his strike accordingly was proof enough.

Suddenly, Rin shouted, "Mordred! Take cover!"

She appeared beside the tree, something heavy in her hand. With all her might she threw what appeared to be a round object in our direction.

Just as it was about to crash into our feet, the old soldier reflexively called out, "GRENADE!"