Chapter 11:

The sniping duel

BRO: Battle Royale Online

As still as possible, I held my breath. Suddenly, my finger tightened on the trigger and the shot went off. A small mound of earth exploded about ten centimeters from my target. My opponent stepped back and disappeared behind the hill.

Taking advantage of this moment of calm, I indicated to Rin to advance. She shook her head, refusing to come out of her hiding place.

"Go on, I'll cover you!"

Faced with my eagerness, she finally gave in and came to lie down beside me.

"On my signal, you run straight ahead, then dive to the left just behind that big tree."

I pointed with my chin to a gigantic tree covered with moss. With a feverish look in her eyes, she nodded.

The bright glow reappeared, this time a little to the left. The opposing player was still on the hill. It made sense. Why would he give up his field advantage? If we wanted to win, we would have to dislodge him. I tightened my grip on my rifle and put my eye back in the scope. Immediately, the image of the man appeared before me. In a deep green military uniform, he was perfectly camouflaged in the thicket. Aware of this advantage, he lay down behind tall grass that kept him hidden from the view of his opponents.

Fortunately, the sun is behind us! Without its reflection in his scope, I would never have noticed him in time.

From his perch, only the black tip of his rifle and the top of his head which popped up from time to time betrayed his presence.

The glare seemed to flicker for a second, then a wave of pressure washed over me.

He's going to shoot!

My sharp instincts told me that this was the moment. Without wasting another second, I pulled the trigger. A bang echoed, closely followed by a second. The ground at my feet exploded, sending up a spray of dirt.

"Now run!"

No sooner had I said these words than Rin dashed forward.

My shot had disturbed my opponent exactly as I had expected. It was like coughing before the opponent hit the ball. A loose technique, but a technique nonetheless. Only, this rather quick shot didn't reach its target and just hit the ground a little bit below. It was predictable.

As Rin ran towards the tree I had indicated, the glare reappeared on the right, getting a clear view of my partner and her target.

As if I was going to let him!

Putting the man back in the center of my sights, I exhaled deeply to limit my shaking, then pulled the trigger. The shot landed right in front of the sniper, forcing him backward.

Her frantic run over, Rin collapsed against the giant tree, out of breath.

While she was gasping for air, she called out to me, "What now? What's the plan?"

To put it simply, I didn't have a plan. Or rather, I did have a plan, but it was as basic as possible, and still required the more or less voluntary participation of my partner.

"How about a suicide plan?"

She rolled her eyes, probably fed up with the fact that all I ever asked her to do was to throw herself headfirst into the enemy lines. She looked up at the sky for a moment, canceling her face from my view. When she turned back to me a big smile split her lips.

"When do we start?"

With that, a bang rang and splinters of wood flew just an inch away from Rin's hair. She turned pale as she backed away hastily.

It's her fault for moving around so much... Of course he's going to shoot at anything that sticks out!

A little exasperated by the behavior of my teammate who was still acting like a newbie, I shook my head. It had seemed to me earlier that she was changing, but my partner's terrified face reassured me otherwise. It was with a small sigh of relief that I thought:

No, there's no doubt about it: she's still the same!

While I was lost in my thoughts, the white glow stared at us with an icy gaze, ready to bring death to anything that came within its sight. As if to urge us to surrender, the man fired a shot that landed right in front of my face, spraying it with dirt and leaves. As I spat out debris, a cold rage seized me.

Oh, I see, you want to play it that way...

Stowing my sniper rifle behind my back, I unhooked my new rapid-fire rifle from my hips. I checked that it was fully loaded with bullets, then cocked the weapon against my shoulder. Without really taking the time to aim, I sprayed my opponent with a deadly rain. Slowly rising to my feet while continuing to fire, I advanced towards the gunman. I was completely exposed, but the barrage of bullets I fired continuously prevented my opponent from firing.

Or so I thought. A bang echoed and almost instantly the bark of the tree just behind me shattered. My smirk vanished in an instant, then, without waiting another second, I dove for cover behind the nearest tree.

Well... That was really a terrible idea...

I reviewed the outcome of the operation: positive point: I had advanced ten steps forward, negative point: I was now cornered behind a much smaller tree than the previous one. According to my extensive knowledge of trees, it was a shrub. It was like a tree, but smaller and with much less room to protect oneself from the scoundrel who was shooting at me like at a rabbit. With a sardonic smile, I adjusted my position behind the small shrub.

Well, there's no point in being ironic, it's not going to get us out of this.

Rin, now almost at the same level as me, was looking at me with a stunned expression.

Yes, I know I didn't do well on this one, but there's no need to look at me like that, is there?

With a wave of my hand, I told Rin to move on. Immediately, the earth exploded beside me. Don't let a single finger stick out. Okay, the message had been received.

A thought crossed my mind. I nodded, satisfied with that idea. Then in a low tone, to make sure the enemy didn't hear us, I addressed my partner, still hidden behind her giant tree.

"Change of plan, we're stopping everything. Listen to me, here's what we're going to do."

My plan was simple: a diversion and a bypass. That was all. We nodded our heads together, ready to execute our strategy.

After the bitter failure I had suffered with it, I put away the assault rifle, and drew the sniper rifle from my back. I glanced inquisitively at my partner, who was pointing to the side where our opponent was hiding. Her index finger was stretched out in the middle. I remained dazed for a few seconds, waiting for her to decide to indicate a side: right or left. Then, faced with the insistent look she was giving me, I let out a small exclamation. I wanted to slap my forehead. Of course I did! It was neither on the right nor the left but in the middle! Not knowing which way the enemy was going to come, it was normal that he decided to cover the middle of the slope! I nodded my head to confirm that the message had been passed on.

I wriggled to move without going beyond the cover of the shrub and lay face down on the ground. The heavy rifle rested in my arms, the butt firmly against my shoulder. A shot rang out, raising a cloud of earth just in front of me. I began to count down.

Suddenly, another bang echoed, sending dirt flying into my face. I hadn't even had time to count ten seconds. The time frame was short. Taking a deep breath, I tried to slow my heartbeat and suppress every last tremor.

One more shot. My mind crystal clear, I rolled out of my hiding place.

It was as calm as ever that I found myself in the middle of the dirt road that climbed up the hillside. Suddenly, I felt the glare coming towards me. He was going to shoot. Holding my breath, I placed my opponent in the center of my scope, then, taking into account the slope and the wind, I shifted my sights slightly. At that moment I felt a kind of connection with the man in front of me. Time slowed down and the world seemed to lose its colors. Only the glow that faced me seemed to live in this world of silence. Then, breaking this connection, we pulled the trigger at the same time. A single detonation sounded.

Far too quickly for me to follow with my eyes, the bullet left my rifle and flew straight towards my target. The one fired by my opponent approached, even faster, following the same trajectory. The collision was inevitable. Yet, there was no explosion. The bullets had not only collided with each other but, driven by their rotation, slid past each other with a metallic whistling. Then, very slightly deflected, they resumed their course.

Less than a centimeter from my head the ground exploded, throwing gravel and roots around. My face got covered with scratches but I did not move, staring at my opponent through the scope of my weapon. A metallic clang sounded.

My bullet had been deflected by only a few centimeters and had landed right in my opponent's sights, causing the metal to shriek. I could see the man drop his rifle. It was time to act.

While our opponent looked at his weapon in disbelief, I took advantage of the diversion to roll to the left side of the path. With a few more steps, I reached Rin and handed her my rifle.

"Now it's your time to shine!"

She nodded and grabbed the black weapon, too heavy for her. As I saw her slump to the ground, the rifle straight in front of her, I shouted as if to cover the sound of the gunfire, "Go around to the left! I'll stay here to keep him busy!"

Well, let's hope he heard me and doesn't suspect it's a trap. Let's pray he's not bright!

Immediately after, I slipped away discreetly. Leaving Rin behind the giant tree, I moved as quietly as possible to our left, deeper into the forest. Suddenly, I turned and headed back down towards the camp. Behind me, the sound of gunfire resumed. I needed Rin to keep him busy long enough or my plan would fall apart. Once I reached the camp we had left earlier, I grabbed the new sniper rifle I had set aside then started walking again.

This time, I did not climb the ridge directly as we had done the first time but took a long detour to the right. I walked briskly, aware that with every passing minute, my plan was in danger of falling apart. If Rin was shot or went too far beyond her shelter, my whole plan would be spoiled.

The bangs were getting louder and louder, I was getting closer to the fight. From my off-center vantage point, I could now see Rin appearing between the trees. She was a bit far away but still saw me. With a wave of her head, she begged me to hurry up. I nodded without stopping. Soon the mound appeared in my field of vision. It was plowed with craters and sprays of dirt rose up at regular intervals. Not a single blow hit our opponent or his immediate surroundings.

I know she still has trouble aiming but she could make an effort! Now it looks like she's shooting at random... Or is she really shooting at random?

Glancing back, I saw Rin's face.

I must be dreaming! She closes her eyes with every shot!

I shook my head, a little disappointed. It was predictable but I couldn't help but feel a little discouraged.

Well, let's say that's part of her charm...

My partner disappeared behind the trunks, and I turned to my right. The echo of the shots was now coming from far away, I had to be at the right distance.

As stealthily as possible, I began to climb the hill. After a few minutes of climbing and clinging to the roots, I reached the top of my objective. I checked my map: a dot was flashing a hundred meters ahead of me, while another was flickering a little further down. I crawled towards the nearest point.

Suddenly, I saw movement in the foliage further ahead. I stood still. My opponent was there, right in front of me. Drawing the sniper rifle I had just retrieved, I placed his back in my sights.

Slowly, I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to calm the blood pounding at my temples. With that, my slightly gasping breaths slowed down.

It was time to shoot. I opened my eyes again, blocked my breathing, and put my finger on the trigger. One more shot and it was all over. We had won.

Just as I was about to end the fight, my opponent turned around in my direction.

Damn, he spotted me!

Immediately, the air whistled over my ears. The ground exploded before me. I backed away hastily, taking cover behind a large rock. He was now completely uninterested in my partner and was pointing his rifle at me. He must have realized that his opponent was not even taking the time to aim, and had deduced my plan. Unless he had seen her pink hair and realized that she was just a diversion. Either way, my ploy had been shattered.

No sooner had I tried to adjust my position than a bullet exploded against the stone.

Okay, if I move I'm dead, the message got through.

I was stuck behind a rock, unable to make the slightest move or I would be shot. Conclusion: I was deep in trouble.