Chapter 27:

Determination

BRO: Battle Royale Online


The three notes rang out again and the voice disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.Bookmark here

Immediately, Rin withdrew her hand and exclaimed, "Top 5? Did you hear that? We're in the last five!"Bookmark here

My partner was gloating next to me. She stood up and hopped around, seeming to forget all about her fatigue and pain.Bookmark here

I heard her whisper as if to herself, "Top 5! That's amazing! It's my first time playing this game and I'm already there! A beginner in the final!"Bookmark here

Then she paused, looking thoughtful as if she had just realized something.Bookmark here

"Wait… But I am no beginner! The voice said it: I'm one of the elite!"Bookmark here

At these words, she puffed out her chest and her cheeks flushed with pride.Bookmark here

She suddenly turned to me, "Did you hear that Mordred? I am an elite! One of the best players in BRO!"Bookmark here

Getting up with more difficulty, I returned her smile.Bookmark here

It's true that for us both to be in the top 5 is incredible... Bookmark here

When I saw her for the first time, I never imagined that she would end up in the final quintet after accompanying me for so long. Her bright smile chased the clouds from my heart. Top 5... That meant I was almost there. Victory was within my grasp. Excluding Rin, that meant only three enemies. I could do it. And if I had any luck, they would kill each other first. It was almost too easy. All I had to do was wait for them to fight each other, and I'd just have to finish off whoever survived. And then...Bookmark here

And then Rin.Bookmark here

There could only be one winner. This rule was absolute. It was the very foundation of BRO. The best of the best all would rise to victory, with their feet in a bloodbath. At this thought, my face closed again. I had never been so close to my goal, but I did not feel relieved anyway. On the contrary, I had never felt so sad since the beginning of the tournament. Victory meant only one thing: killing Rin. I refused to let her suffer. The very idea of someone shooting her made me angry. No, if she was to die, it had to be by my hand. Or her own, if she felt strong enough.Bookmark here

But it was too soon! I knew the end was near, but I hoped I still had a little time. And I didn't think it would fall on us like that! That voice... It was just another novelty! It had never appeared in the previous years. And what about that zone? Snapping out of my dark thoughts, I opened my map. Almost in the middle of it, a circle was drawn. It seemed to surround an area of about one kilometer in diameter centered by a park. Fortunately, it didn't seem too far from our position, so we should be able to get there before nightfall.Bookmark here

Standing next to me, Rin stared at me. She had finished gloating and was now looking at me with a worried expression. I shook my head, realizing that I looked concerned, and then thought to myself:Bookmark here

Raaaah make an effort! If you know you're going to be separated from her soon, you could at least try to enjoy your last moments together, couldn't you? And stop with that funeral face of yours!Bookmark here

My partner held out a hand with a contrite look on her face. I grabbed it and pulled on it like before. Only this time, Rin didn't move. I gave her a surprised look, and her smile changed to "See? You can trust me!" Still being careful not to put too much weight on her, I got up with her help. Bookmark here

She suddenly handed me Orso's knife. Bookmark here

"I had stowed it in my pocket when I got into the van. I suppose it's yours now?"Bookmark here

Grateful, I grabbed the weapon and put it in my old sheath. Just the right size. As I thought back to Orso and our ridiculous but exhilarating duels, I sighed, I would miss that too.Bookmark here

Suddenly, Rin said, "I think we have a new goal. Shall we go, partner?"Bookmark here

I nodded and tried to smile at her, but without success. I pointed in the direction of the zone and Rin dashed ahead of me. As we walked along the bank at the bottom of the canyon, the landscape gradually changed from ochre sand to dirt, then to concrete banks. We were back in town. In front of me, Rin was whistling cheerfully. She seemed to be surprised by everything and stopped several times to watch the sky turn a thousand colors, each time uttering little exclamations. She looked like a little girl.Bookmark here

Following her more slowly, I called out to her in a deep voice, "Rin."Bookmark here

She flinched but turned a deaf ear. It seemed as if the moment she had been dreading for the last 10 minutes we had been walking had just arrived. Stubbornly showing me her back, she seemed to have lost all interest in me.Bookmark here

I called out to her again, "Rin…"Bookmark here

This time she didn't even react. I lost my patience.Bookmark here

"Rin! How much longer are you planning to keep this masquerade going?"Bookmark here

I had almost shouted these last words. Surprised, she froze on the spot. I grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her to face me. Suddenly, her face appeared. Her eyes were red.Bookmark here

I resumed more slowly, "Rin… What are you doing? You're just delaying what's inevitable."Bookmark here

She shook her head and answered me in a weak voice, "I don't want to…"Bookmark here

"We have to separate."Bookmark here

She suddenly raised her voice, as if these words revolted her. Bookmark here

"I. Don't. Want. To."Bookmark here

I shook my head.Bookmark here

"It’s too dangerous, you'd better stay here. We're not in the zone yet, you'll just have to wait for like half an hour and it'll all be a bad dream. You won't suffer, I promise."Bookmark here

I placed my hands firmly on her shoulders and forced her to look at me in the eyes. As soon as she met my determined gaze, she turned her head away.Bookmark here

I resumed, "Stay here, it's for your own good. If you come, you will suffer and you will only embarrass me."Bookmark here

I felt her twitch under my fingers as I said these words with fatality. Slowly moving my hands away, I ruffled her hair one last time.Bookmark here

"Goodbye, partner."Bookmark here

I turned and walked away without a second glance.Bookmark here

This was the third time I abandoned her. But this time my heart felt a little less heavy. Although our separation pained me greatly, I was certain that I had made the right choice. Our team had come to an end. That was it. All good things must come to an end, and this one was no exception. Thoughtfully, I replayed in my mind all the twists and turns we had gone through. It had been quite an adventure. Even I had never been through so many developments at once. Despite the twinge of sorrow I felt, a slight smile broke out on my lips.Bookmark here

Suddenly, I turned around. I was being followed. I drew my pistol and cocked it. I hid behind the corner of a building and waited for my opponent to give himself away. I heard hurried footsteps and jumped out of my hiding place, my finger on the trigger. Rin's face suddenly appeared before me.Bookmark here

She had followed me. I felt an anger rise in me and distort my features. I had told her to stay put, and she hadn't listened to me. As a result, I had almost killed her by mistake.Bookmark here

"Riiiiiiin…"Bookmark here

Faced with my fury, she threw me a defiant look. Slightly unsettled, my anger dropped a notch but I continued all the same.Bookmark here

"What are you doing here? I told you not to come!"Bookmark here

"I refuse."Bookmark here

Her cold tone cut short my admonitions. Disconcerted, I could not find my words. Not knowing how to react, I turned and walked away, ignoring her. Immediately, footsteps echoed behind me. That was the last straw.Bookmark here

I faced her again, "Go away! If you stay with me you'll only get in my way! You're just a burden!"Bookmark here

When I said this last word, it felt as if a part of me was vanishing. I had just lost something precious. But my choice was made.Bookmark here

Rin's face contorted in anger, "Oh really? I've already saved your life five times, haven't I?"Bookmark here

My words had hit the nail on the head and her offended tone proved it. Only, they hadn't had the desired effect at all. I grumbled.Bookmark here

"Go away Rin, I don't need you."Bookmark here

"Well, I do!"Bookmark here

This change in approach caught me completely off guard. As I stammered in search of a retort, Rin continued, "Let me help you. I've done it before, and I can do it again!"Bookmark here

"I refuse. It's way too dangerous."Bookmark here

Faced with her almost pleading tone, I firmly objected.Bookmark here

Rin continued, "You won't have to take care of me. I want to help you."Bookmark here

I rejected her a second time. Judging that this conversation would not get us anywhere, I turned around and walked away quickly. Immediately, the sound of running resounded and Rin came to stand before me.Bookmark here

With a voice as sharp as ice I addressed her, "Rin, move."Bookmark here

Taking back my words, she answered with an equally categorical tone, "I refuse."Bookmark here

I had no choice. I refused to take her further into danger, I had promised myself, and Milena was counting on me. I clenched my fists. The feeling of my gun in my hand felt more real than ever. Slowly, I raised my pistol and pointed it at my former partner.Bookmark here

"You leave me no choice, Rin. Go away or I'll shoot you."Bookmark here

My voice was as weary as it was icy, and my determination intact: she would not suffer because of my fight.Bookmark here

Rin took a step forward. While plunging her confident eyes into mine, she took my pistol in her hand. With infinite gentleness, she straightened it, then pressed it to her forehead. Without taking her eyes off me, she pressed her head against the barrel of my gun. Feeling the soft pressure of her skin on the end of my pistol felt like a jolt. I immediately knew that I could not shoot. For a moment, I tried to take my finger off the trigger, but her hand clamped down on mine and prevented me from doing so.Bookmark here

Betting everything on a final bluff, I said, "I won't hesitate to shoot, this is your last chance."Bookmark here

Rin did not even flinch. On the contrary, I had the unpleasant feeling that it was I, the only one with a gun, who was in a weak spot. A shiver ran down my spine.Bookmark here

Rin pressed her forehead even harder against my weapon.Bookmark here

With a determined voice, she said, "Shoot. It's the only way you'll get rid of me. For me, whether it comes from you or someone else, the result is the same: death."Bookmark here

Each of her words was heavy with assurance. The frail and fragile Rin I had met a short time ago was gone.Bookmark here

Slowly, I lowered my pistol. She had won.Bookmark here

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