Chapter 10:

Again?

BRO: Battle Royale Online


The man let go of me and plunged to the ground, his hands crossed over his head. His whole body tensed up, ready for the explosion that was sure to come.

He waited. But the explosion did not come. Slowly opening his eyes, he tried to understand why the blast had not sounded. Turning around as if to check that the grenade was real, his skull hit a metal object. He froze, the barrel of my gun pressed against his head.

With a toothy grin on my lips, I said, "Don’t move."

The old soldier replied with the voice of a man still unsure of what happened, "And the grenade? Where is it?"

Looking over my shoulder, I questioned my teammate, "You never had a grenade, did you?"

She answered no with a shake of her head, sticking her tongue out mischievously.

At our feet, an innocent rock lay. The man cursed, before addressing me with a sharp look.

"And now, what do we do?"

In a voice as cold as steel, I answered, "This."

These were the last words our opponent heard. He collapsed to the ground, a hole the size of a coin drilled in the back of his skull. A familiar beep sounded again.

And that's five!

With a few minor details, the operation had been a resounding success. Two against five —or rather one and a half against five— we had assaulted a fortified camp and emerged victorious with nothing but scratches.

Rin joins me, jumping up and down slightly.

"So how did I do? This time you can't say I was useless!"

My comrade was gloating and with good reasons! She had played her part to perfection and beyond. She had reacted exactly the way she needed in order to catch the enemy off guard, and she had even put in place a plan to get me out of a bad situation. Proud of her, I almost restrained myself from stroking her head. Her playful smile grew wider before disappearing in a flash.

She continued in an innocent tone, "And then, it must be the third time... No, the fourth perhaps?"

The question seemed to be of serious concern, so I asked her, "What are you talking about?"

"Oh, nothing... Just the number of times I saved your life, 'master'!"

She emphasized the last few syllables, her mocking tone brimming with malice.

Although she irritated me quite a bit, I let it go for the moment, as a tribute to her miraculous plan that had just saved our lives. I had to admit that the grenade trick was a masterpiece. An old soldier trained in combat like our opponent was bound to react to a throw followed by the words "Take cover". It was in his blood. It was a reflex that must have saved him many times. But in this world, it had cost him his life.

"Come here, let me thank you properly."

Curious, Rin approached me. I took advantage of her naivety to block her head under my arm before placing my fists on her temples. I rubbed my knuckles against them with force.

Faced with such cruelty, my victim exclaimed, "I surrender! You've won! I'm sorry!"

Once I judged that the impertinent girl had learned her lesson, I let her go. She glared at me. I replied with a friendly smile. Judging that I owed her that much, I congratulated her nonetheless.

"Frankly, the idea of the grenade was genius."

Then I said in a more hesitant tone, a little embarrassed by my lack of habit, "Thank you. You really saved me on that one."

Dismayed, Rin vaguely stammered an answer, probably surprised to see me behaving so nicely.

Wow! If I had known that a simple thank you would put her in such a state, I would have said it before!

As I was preparing a biting retort, ready to tease her some more, I stopped in my tracks. I had a feeling that this was not a good idea. Realizing that I was also feeling strangely hot, I preferred to change the topic of conversation.

"We mustn't hang around here for too long. We'll go around the camp, collect anything interesting we find, and then we'll leave. Our fight has probably alerted other players in the area, and they're sure to come down on us to fight over the leftovers."

"Got it!"

We quickly toured the fortified camp but found nothing particularly exciting. No sniper rifle matched the one I already had. I sighed, slightly disappointed. I would have liked to find a legendary or at least epic class weapon, but that was not the case. I kept the rifle I'd picked up earlier, and just replaced the bullets it was missing. I kept my pistol but carried a few extra magazines. I stowed the latter on my belt, the stolen assault rifle at my hips, and the sniper rifle behind my back. I was ready to set off again.

As for Rin, she took the old soldier's light machine gun with which he had threatened me some time before. Rin called him the commander and was proud to carry his weapon. She must have hoped that some of the man's courage would be passed on to her through his weapon. For the rest, she simply refilled the few ammunitions she fired with her pistol. She refused to take the heavier gun I handed her claiming it would slow her down. "Two guns are already enough!" she told me, sure of herself.

Although my partner seemed satisfied, a bitter taste stuck in my throat.

Was it all for this?

Coming here, my hopes were slim as we were a day late. But when I had seen that the point had turned into a fortress, my expectations had redoubled. If they had taken the trouble to turn a simple drop point into a foolproof bastion, it must mean that it contained a real treasure! With this in mind, I had set out on such an assault. Only disappointment came over me when I discovered what was really there.

The soldiers had probably just set up there to train for an enemy invasion. Nothing more, nothing less.

Disheartened, I grumbled in my corner, sitting against a metal crate while watching the forest. A cold touch on my cheek startled me.

"Are you still bleeding? We need to get this fixed before it gets infected!"

Rin stroked my cheek with her fingertip. She withdrew her bloody finger and waved it under my nose.

Although infections were extremely rare in BRO, it was still a plausible complication.

She pulled out a roll of bandage from her first aid kit. It was a basic piece of equipment that was part of every player's starting kit, along with a handgun.

"Don’t move."

Without giving me time to argue or say anything else, she brought her face close to mine and, looking serious, carefully bandaged my wound.

After a few endless seconds of me not daring to move, her warm breath went away and Rin exclaimed, "That’s it!"

With a satisfied look, she observed her work. As an artist would have admired his creation, her eyes filled with pride.

For the second time in less than an hour, I thanked her, more gently this time. For the second time too, Rin stammered a reply, looking vaguely embarrassed.

I stood up abruptly, we had stayed there long enough. In the middle of the camp, now stood a small mound of all the weapons we had collected. It was time to get rid of it. In a few trips back and forth with Rin's help, all the weapons we had decided not to take with us ended up at the bottom of the river. If we didn't take them, it was wiser to make sure no one found them to use them against us. Hopefully, no one would go looking for them underwater. I left one or two out in case we needed to retreat here.

Once our task was accomplished, we left the camp. I took the lead, with the stolen rifle in my hands, ready to react at the slightest sound. Behind me, Rin covered my back, her pistol clutched to her chest. No matter how hard I tried to convince her to use the commander's rifle, nothing worked. She would only agree to brandish her first weapon, assuring me that she would draw the rifle without fail if the need arose. After a few minutes of heated debate, I finally gave in. With a smile of relief and satisfaction, she set off again.

Suddenly, I stopped, my sharp eyes fixed on the distance.

"Rin, get ready to dive behind the tree on your right, okay? On my signal... Go!"

At the same time, a blast echoed and we both dove into the thicket.

In the distance, perched on top of a hill, a white glow was shining.

The reflection of a scope.

It had been close. If I had only seen it a second later, one of us would have gone down never to rise again.

Only a few centimeters from where we were standing, the soil had exploded. Rin stared at the small crater that marked the spot where she had stood only a second ago.

A sniper. We hadn't even gone a hundred meters from the drop point when a new adversary was already falling on us.

Will it ever stop? I'm usually the one hunting! So why is it that since I've been with this girl, we're always caught off guard? She's a jinx, isn't she?

As I glared at my partner, she stared back at me with a questioning look, not understanding the source of my hostility.

Pfft... It's ridiculous, of course it's not her fault. But still, it's getting tiresome!

So as not to offend her more than necessary, I gave her a reassuring smile.

A bang echoed and the ground exploded even closer to us.

Well, this sniper is not here to laugh... That's fine with me, I'm not here for that either.

Once again, my mind was racing for a solution. If the man had shot at us directly, he must have been watching us from afar and waiting for us to come within range. He must have been watching the drop point for an opportunity to attack. Only we had attacked before him.

Hmph! If we did steal his prey, he must not be in a good mood!

What if I tried to bargain with him? Could I promise to hand him over the point's weapons? No, of course not, if he had been watching us for as long as I thought he had, he had probably seen us dispose of them in the river.

Grabbing a pebble that was lying at my feet, I threw it into the open. I watched it make a silent curve before it crashed to the ground. Immediately, a bang echoed and the rock exploded, throwing dirt and shrapnel around.

I summarized our situation: in front of us, was a sniper who could aim accurately from over a hundred meters away. From the impact of his bullets in the ground, a caliber sufficient to kill in one hit. And to top it all off, from his high position, he had a huge advantage. In a word: we were in trouble.

She must be a jinx. It's the only possible explanation!

But it was no longer time for complaints. I signaled to Rin to get down on the ground behind the tree as I untied my weapon from my back. I lay flat on my stomach, the heavy black rifle against my shoulder, and stepped out very slightly into the open, my eye in the scope. Suddenly my opponent invaded my field of vision.

It was time for a sniping duel!