Wings of Unity
“Things might be turning out better for us,” Morita said as the three of us ran through the streets of Urasaki. The sound of the mechanical footsteps with the Constables echoed along.
I looked ahead to see what she was talking about and found the survivors of the Leviathan’s attack setting up a makeshift base along the street – consisting of the inside of a corporate building and barriers along the curbside and street.
Their numbers seemed to have since grown, most likely due to the fact that we were all rallying at one point. A few Rhino tanks sat at the edge of the barriers they were beginning to set up, guarding the others.
Surrounding the barriers were the countless bodies of Runners, possible stragglers.
I saw the Blue Team sitting by a couple of ammunition crates by the entrance of the building, gearing themselves up for our impending final push against the Leviathan.
“I’m surprised we didn’t run into any Harvesters on our way here,” Yusa remarked. “It makes me wonder… could they all possibly be doing the same thing as us and rallying for their own push?”
“These aren’t usual tactics of the Harvesters,” Morita said. “I’ve seen along the Breach, the undead usually stagger along with each other… but this is different. There’s something bigger behind this… And that’s bad…”
“I agree,” I said. “… Just what the hell is going on?” I whispered to myself.
“Senpai!” Sayaka waved to us. I watched as the other members of Blue Team joined her with either waves or the nods of their heads, with smiles to us included along.
“Go,” Morita said with a small smile. “I’ll take these Constables with me to safeguard the perimeter, so we can tally up our numbers.”
“I’ll go with her, Ozaki,” Yusa said. “We’ll meet back out here.”
I nodded to the two and began to walk towards the Blue Team – passing by Troopers who were heading to their objectives around the makeshift base.
“Constable Drones?” Tatsuharu’s voice asked as I walked closer. “Very interesting indeed, senpai.”
“This belongs to you, senpai,” Ayano said with a smile as she threw Danketsu over to me.
I caught the Divine Weapon in my hands and I felt Danketsu’s grip, finding myself relieved that we were reunited.
“How’s everyone doing?” I asked.
“Well… we’re missing Yukino, Nobu, and Shadow…” Ayano rubbed the back of her helmet. “We… were separated after the Leviathan appeared… It was a mess for a while, but we managed to meet up with each other here, senpai. You… haven’t had a chance to see them, have you?”
“No, I didn’t…” I looked away for a brief moment. “But I’m more than positive that they’re okay!”
“Senpai,” Mika called me. “I just wanted to say… thank you…”
“Huh? For what?”
“He doesn’t remember, Satō-san,” Yusa said.
“You don’t, senpai?” Mika asked.
“Wh-what did I do?”
“You saved us, Kitaru-senpai!” Tomoko exclaimed.
“When the Leviathan fired on us…you shielded us using Danketsu,” Sayaka said. “I personally thought with the amount of power you used, you would’ve been hurt again. But you were okay, senpai. You absorbed the entire blast… for all of us.”
“Danketsu got knocked out of your hands and when we all came to… we couldn’t find you,” Ayano said.
“I’m glad you’re all okay,” I replied with a nod.
“It wouldn’t have been for you, senpai,” Erika put her hands together and bowed towards me.
My attention was caught by the arrival of Zenko and the rest of the Troopers that were in the cellar with us. Most of them carried packs of ammunition and such to use as supply for the rest of the survivors.
“Rally in the lobby!” Zenko ordered as he walked into the building.
All of us, minus the Constables who stood guard at the perimeter, followed him into the lobby of the building. We walked by wounded Troopers who were being attended to with what little medical provisions we had left, and a wall that was littered with those who succumbed to their injuries – covered in white drapes.
They deserve more than that to honor them…
I soon found Yusa and Morita by my side, with what remained of the Blue Team standing behind me.
“Constable’s are guarding the perimeter with the Rhinos,” Morita said.
“Hopefully they’ll be reliable,” Ayano said to her.
“They’re made to police the public, they’ll be effective against the crowd control we need against the undead,” Morita replied. “I’m surprised the ASC hasn’t utilized them on the frontlines yet.”
“That would make us Insurrectionists, Morita-san,” Tatsuharu said. “Unlike those… terrorists, we don’t employ robotic masses upon our foe.”
“Everyone!” Zenko took a stand in the center of the lobby. “Now’s the time. We’ll be doing one last push against the Leviathan! Here’s our plan – the Leviathan will be targeting the ICE Cannon. We’ve chosen this place as our rally point for a reason. Hidden directly underneath this building is an underground passageway to get to the control room of the ICE Cannon. One team will head underground to the control room, while the rest of us push on the frontlines to the Leviathan.”
“How are we going to kill the Leviathan, sir?” someone asked.
“My tanks can’t even scratch the thing, let alone kill it!” Sergeant Eizo crossed his arms over his chest. “And we only have four operational Rhinos left!”
He’s right. Rhinos don’t do a single damn thing! And they proved to be just as easy to destroy…
“Danketsu,” Zenko pointed at me. “It’s what brought us all here in the first place! While our original objective has changed – our key to victory is still present.”
“Sir, with all due respect,” an angry voice from the crowd of survivors spoke up. “We came into Urasaki with nearly three-thousand Troopers! We’ve barely got five-hundred left! The ASC Dawn was destroyed, we’ve lost all of our air support, and we only have four tanks left! Just what the hell do you expect us to do against this damn Leviathan!?”
“My whole squad was wiped out!” another one added.
“Everyone I knew and cared about is gone! They’re either dead or roaming these streets of hell as the undead!” a third Trooper shouted.
“WHY DO WE HAVE TO GIVE A DAMN ABOUT SOME SWORD!?” the first Trooper shouted as he pointed at me.
“Especially in the hands of some cadet!”
“WE’VE ALREADY RISKED EVERYTHING! AND LOST IT ALL!”
“Don’t let them get to you, Ozaki,” Yusa said to me as a sad look was on her face.
“They’re right…” I looked down at Danketsu.
Troopers began to clamor in their opinions, mostly negative, at Zenko. Their voices rose to the air, screaming curses and cries as loud as they could.
This isn’t good… We’re losing their morale…
As their cries lasted for what seemed to be minutes and began to die down, Zenko stood affirm.
“I understand your frustrations and worries,” Zenko began. “However, we have no choice but to go forward with this…”
“Just why is that, sir!? Why couldn’t we have just packed our bags and left the moment things turned for the worse!?” The same angry Trooper took a step forward.
“The Alliance Space Command… isn’t willing to risk any more Troopers – or ships – especially in this time of war we’re in. Even though Danketsu is in the hands of Kitaru Ozaki…” Zenko took a deep breath before continuing. “If they must destroy Urasaki to get to the Leviathan… they will. And that includes us.”
The Troopers fell silent.
What!? Impossible! They’d kill all of us just for the Leviathan!?
“I-I… Uh…” the angry Trooper took a step back into the crowd.
“As if it couldn’t get worse…” Morita shook her head.
I looked around and saw everyone’s faces. It was as if they had been shot in the chest – the morale was at an all-time low. I took a second before I felt my body walk up to the center of the lobby, where all eyes fell upon me.
“I understand that everyone is upset, I’m right there with you,” I began. “What seemingly feels as if the ASC is abandoning us, but I know they have no choice but to do what they need to do. I do want to commend Lieutenant Zenko for telling us the truth – he’s giving us a chance! There’s… not too many people who get a chance to fight for their survival by knowing the truth, not in this war we’re fighting in.”
My eyes traced across the individual faces of the Blue Team – the amount of things they had been through in just the past twelve hours alone proved their worth here on the battlefield was greater than what others expected.
We were just students the day before. Learning the basics of combat at the Holographic Arena at the renowned Miyamoto Academy hundreds of miles away from the frontlines – we never knew we were going to be sent to a city within the Haven that had been invaded by the undead.
But now, here we were – fighting for the survival of the human race. And we’ve survived so far.
“We’re just cadets,” I said. “We haven’t even graduated from the academy yet! And here we are, fighting alongside the rest of you. Believe me, when I first found out that I was in charge of an entire team of first-years, I was mortified. I thought it was a punishment.”
I paced around, feeling more confident in my abilities to speak to this crowd.
“They’ve pushed themselves to become better not just for themselves, but for their team. They… are more than what I could’ve ever asked for, and now I’m honored to be their team leader. As for Danketsu… I’m just a kid who didn’t read a sign and stepped into a room… only to defy another sign and I touched Danketsu.”
My eyes locked onto Yusa and I felt my heart feel warm inside of me.
“Even at the discretion of the Student Council President…” I rubbed the back of my head. “There was this team of young Troopers that I met on my first day back to school, they were headed to their first mission in the Void… On the damned frontlines! Years of training and they seemed ready for it! I found out they didn’t make it… And I felt so betrayed that despite their attitude, they still died! But there’s one thing I’ll remember that they had…”
I looked into the crowd and saw the faces of Hayato and his team. Knowing now what they believed in and where it led them, maybe it can help everyone else here.
“They had hope.”
The Troopers around me had changed the expressions on their faces. Moments ago they seemed hopeless, but now it was as if there was a chance for them.
“Everyone! We have a chance at this! We defeat the Leviathan, we save the Haven! We live to fight another day!” I raised Danketsu high into the air. “Let’s remind them who they’re up against!”
Troopers around me cheered and raised their fists into the air. The lobby of the building lit up with their shouts and cheerful cries.
I looked at Yusa and she nodded her head slowly with a small smile on her face.
We can do this.
Zenko stepped back up to the center of the lobby and he put his hand on my shoulder and whispered to me. “Not bad for your first time. The story of you achieving Danketsu’s powers was my favorite part. How’d you feel?”
“I was kind of just being honest,” I whispered back.
He chuckled and let go of my shoulder as the cheers began to die down, with the new emotion of the entire lobby being now of determination. “Alright! I want all squad leaders on me. The rest of you, grab your ammunition and charge up your wrist-pads.”
The lobby began to empty out, leaving a handful of Troopers standing amongst us. Tatsuharu and Morita found Yusa still there and I raised a brow.
“Tachibana-san?” I asked.
“You need someone to remember what sensei says in case your idiot brain forgets,” she remarked.
I nodded and we all gathered around Zenko.
He threw the small cube from earlier onto the ground and a holographic projection of the building where we were all in appeared. It expanded to show the surrounding buildings and Highland Park, where there was the massive hologram of the Leviathan nearing the outskirts of the park.
“The Leviathan is getting closer…” Sergeant Eizo shook his head.
“Indeed,” Zenko nodded. He traced his gloved finger to a street a few blocks away from where we were. “Captain Higona is still making his way here with the survivors from the evacuation center. His last report a few minutes ago, while Kitaru was giving his speech, said that the Harvesters they were encountering had lowered drastically in number.”
“I noticed that on my way here as well,” Sergeant Eizo said.
“Same with us,” Yusa commented.
“This Leviathan… it’s possible that it’s calling all of the Harvesters towards it…as if it’s also doing one huge push against our lines,” Zenko said. “If this is correct, we’re going to expect more Harvesters coming at us at once than ever before. And it may be possible that we’re going to experience that from a few different angles of the frontline.”
“What does that mean, sensei?” I asked.
“Look,” he gestured towards where Highland Park was on the hologram. Three major streets led to Highland Park, as the rest were blocked off by buildings. “Three chokepoints that we’ll be attacked from by the Harvesters. We need to hold the Harvesters back from reaching the park so that the squad underground can activate the ICE Cannon.”
“What’s the point of activating the ICE Cannon?” Yusa asked.
“We’re going to use it against the Harvesters.”
“The blast will be… tremendous, Lieutenant,” Sergeant Eizo said. “It’s built to fire as far as the moon, maybe even all the way to Mars! The blast would destroy everything in its path… even us.”
“Not if we’re behind the ICE Cannon when it fires. At most, it will stun us for a few moments while it fires, but it will wipe out the majority, if not all, of the Harvesters in its path… and hopefully, the Leviathan,” Zenko said.
“Won’t it destroy Urasaki, sensei?” I asked.
“The ICE Cannon will have a function to lessen its blast radius, and that’s what we’ll do. Kitaru, I want Tatsuharu and Morita to go with the team underground to activate the ICE Cannon – they’ve proven their abilities with technology and might be able to help them,” he responded.
“Yes, sensei!” I nodded.
“Sergeant Eizo, take the rest of your tanks and as many infantry as you need and hold the Northern street. Once Captain Higona arrives, his teams will take the Southern street to defend. Kitaru and Yusa, you and the Blue Team will be with me and a few others, plus the Constables – we’re going to defend the center street. Everyone understand?” Zenko asked as he looked around.
“Understood, sir!” we shouted in unison.
“Relay the message to your teams, we will move out in ten!”
We disbanded and began walking to the exit.
Yusa walked by my side and I looked at her.
“Now… this is it, Tachibana-san,” I mouthed to her. “Life or death.”
“Idiot, how can you say all of that before and have that mindset?” she shook her head. “We’re going to win… and you might not even have to use Danketsu on the Leviathan!”
I felt bothered by something.
What if I have to?
“I’m… ready to use Danketsu if I have to.”
“I hope you don’t have to, Ozaki,” Yusa said and I stopped dead in my tracks.
She glanced over her shoulder. “Because I can’t risk losing you, even if you’re an idiot.”
She continued walking and I smiled to myself.
Even if I have to use Danketsu, you’re not going to lose me.
“How’s everyone doing?” I asked as we took cover behind Construct barriers that were built. I looked around and saw the Blue Team dug in around me, minus Tatsuharu and Morita, who had since gone underground to assist in activating the ICE Cannon.
“I’m… ready, senpai,” Ayano uttered.
“Everything we’ve trained for, has finally led to this moment!” Mika said.
“Haven’t we said that before?” Erika shook her head.
“I’m still worried about the others…” Tomoko frowned as she chewed on a strawberry cupcake. “The last of my sugar supply… what if… this is my last sweet treat forever?”
“Don’t say that, Tomo-chan,” Sayaka rubbed Tomoko’s back. “Kitaru-senpai is wise, he’s got us this far already! We just have to trust that Zenko-sensei’s plan will work.”
“It’s the only chance we have,” Ayano looked at me. “Tomo’s right though… I’m worried about them too.”
I nodded understandingly and looked over at Yusa, who was loading her Y98 with a new magazine.
“It would pay well to have some artillery right about now,” Yusa said as she cocked her SMG and brought the stock up to her shoulder. “Or some air support.”
I heard the sound of rushed footsteps and saw a Trooper running towards us. She passed us and crouched next to Zenko nearby, rapidly tapping his shoulder to gain his attention.
“Sir! Scanners have picked up Harvesters! You were right – they’ve formed into three large groups to attack the streets that lead here. It’s… a tremendous amount of Harvesters, sir,” she showed him her radar scanner. “More than what we’ve encountered so far. Nearly five times our strength in numbers, going to attack us all at once.”
“Everyone,” Zenko’s voice echoed in my ear over the radio. “Defensive positions. We have to hold the Harvesters here at all costs! We have to buy the team underground enough time to activate the ICE Cannon!”
Zenko dashed over to where we were positioned.
“Sensei,” I called. “Thank you for everything.”
“Hmph,” he chuckled. “Thank me when everything is over, Kitaru. Constables, engage defensive shields – maximum power and set to one-way fire!”
The robotic Constables moved forward from their positions behind us. Their metallic footsteps echoed as they marched towards the invading Harvesters. As they reached a certain point where they were at the center between us and the Harvesters, they stood at attention. The Constables raised their arms up and a shield made of Construct energy began to form in front of them.
“We can shoot through their shields! Everyone, open fire!” I shouted.
Massive amounts of gunfire all around me erupted as Blue Team and the others opened fire. I could see the flashing lights from the other areas where there was also gunfire, in addition to the booms of the cannons coming from Sergeant Eizo’s Rhinos as well.
The Runner’s bodies stacked on top of one another as we continued to gun them down as much as we could, but with the amount of Harvesters that were charging us, we weren’t doing anything at all as they continued to rush us.
“Lieutenant! They’ve passed through the first line!” the same female Trooper shouted.
First line? What first line?
“Now!” Zenko shouted back.
Instantly, bombs detonated across the advancing line of Runners. Their bodies were torn apart by the explosions, sending limbs flying and debris high into the air. Thinned lines of Runners emerged from the smoke and we continued to fire.
“I never knew you had bombs planted, sensei!” I laughed.
“Three sets of bombs. Once the Runners pass all three, we fall back to a position I will highlight if that happens,” he coolly replied.
“Anymore tricks up your sleeve, sensei?” I asked.
“Just a trap card, Kitaru,” he nodded as he fired his M22 Assault Rifle.
“Additional Runners inbound!” the Trooper said.
“Yusa, how are you doing?” I asked her as I glanced over my shoulder.
“It would’ve personally benefited Zenko-sensei if he were to tell us that he had a more thorough plan to combat the Harvesters,” she shook her head as she reloaded her Y98. “Why would he have you prompt a speech when he easily could’ve done otherwise?”
She’s right. Why would he? Unless…
“Maybe he wanted to see if I had the courage to sway everyone else’s minds…” I observed as I looked at Zenko.
“Smart,” she replied. “Impromptu tests to see if you’re willing enough.”
“I hope I passed.”
“Ozaki, we have bigger things to worry about!” she shouted at me. “… I believe you did, though.”
What seemed to be hours was in reality just thirty minutes as our gunfire didn’t seem to be a match for the Harvesters numeric advantage. Mindless pulling the trigger and then reloading the magazine once we ran out of ammunition took a toll on many of the Troopers around us.
The Constables had been all wiped out, overwhelmed by the amount of Harvesters.
While we haven’t lost anyone yet, I could feel the morale begin to shift as the Harvesters passed the final line of mines that were set by Zenko.
“Morita-san, Tatsuharu, how are we looking with the ICE Cannon?” I asked into my radio as I reloaded my M22 Assault Rifle.
“We’ve reached the control center for the ICE Cannon. Controls are locked to a designated passcode that we have no idea on how to access it, senpai,” Tatsuharu replied. “Morita-san is attempting to rewire the ICE Cannon to be manually fired on a secondary trigger on the cannon itself.”
“Tell five-eyes we need him to get that damn thing up soon, senpai!” Ayano shouted at me.
“Senpai, we’re losing ground fast! We need to retreat to the last point!” Sayaka said to me.
“We can’t! We need to buy more time for the others at the ICE Cannon!” I yelled back.
“By the time they get the ICE Cannon to work, it’ll be too late!” Mika shouted.
“I, for one, agree,” Erika added.
“Th-this is hopeless!” a Trooper yelled. “RUN!”
A few Troopers began running away from our position, retreating to the unknown.
“DAMN IT, HOLD YOUR GROUND!” Zenko yelled at the top of his lungs.
“LIEUTENANT! LOOK!” a Trooper pointed.
We turned our attention to the skies and the Leviathan appeared in the distance, letting out a tremendous roar. It aimed its mouth high into the skies and released a volley of fireballs into the air. I watched as the fireballs descended towards us, crashing behind us and sending a tremor.
I looked around once more and saw that only the Troopers that fled in terror were the ones killed in the blast – but the blast had cut us off from our final position of defense due to the spread of the flames from the fireballs.
“The… The Leviathan cut us off from retreating…” I said out loud.
It’s intelligent. If it wanted to have killed us already, we’d be dead. But… why hasn’t it done so?
“WE’RE CUT OFF!” someone screamed.
“THEY’RE GETTING CLOSER!” another voice wailed.
I switched to my T05 Shotgun and found the Harvesters were now no less than twenty feet away from us – and we were trapped.
I pumped as many shots as possible into the Harvesters, seeing nothing but blood and having survival on my mind.
As I ran out of ammo for my T05, I brought Danketsu and held onto it.
It was as if time had slowed down.
To my left, Yusa had emptied her entire Y98 magazine into a Stalker and she threw it at a Runner before unholstering her H45 Pistol to fire into another undead Runner. Her face was dirtied and had stains of blood from her victims, but she was hopeless.
Past her, the members of Blue Team were holding off the Harvesters. Their faces littered with different emotions. From fear to doubt, they were doing their best to survive.
To my right, Zenko had engaged the Harvesters with his sword made of blue flames, cutting them down with everything he had.
All around me, Troopers had begun to engage the Harvesters in close quarters combat. But we were unprepared, they had resorted to using their assault rifles to block the jaws of a biting Runner, the bloodied and razor-sharp claws they had, and their undeniable fury to kill us.
Stalkers proved to be the dominant foe as they continued their reign of terror by slicing Troopers into pieces, stabbing them and lifting them high into the air to frighten those around them to leave them to be killed by Runners, and annihilating anything in their path.
Nothing. Nothing but the screams and cries of those awaiting to meet their death, the howling and numbing screeches of the Harvesters, and the massive amounts of bloodshed was all I could see and hear.
This was it.
I could feel myself begin to fall again, into the deep, dark void.
I had failed once again.
We didn’t stand a chance… I’m sorry, mom.
I wasn’t able to save everyone.
I failed everyone.
How could Danketsu have chosen me?
When this is the path that was ahead for me.
I saw the face of a Runner that was headed for me, about to attack me with its vicious teeth and claws.
“ROYAL FLUSH!” a female voice shouted and the Harvesters in front of us were enveloped in explosions.
“Is that...” Zenko looked up.
I looked up and saw two large ASC ships in the skies, keeping a safe distance from the Leviathan so their fate wouldn’t be the same as the Defiance.
A pair of feet landed in front of us. I looked up and saw a woman bearing the mark of the Storm Ravens. Cranes marked in black and maroon colors with the mark of the Storm Ravens landed and dropped off more Troopers that also were a part of the unit before ascending quickly out of harm’s way.
The Storm Ravens began to attack the Harvesters with massive amounts of majutsu and power, pushing the undead back in order to give us time to readjust ourselves.
“Sergeant Tomasu, have your Black Wolves get that perimeter set up! Storm Ravens, let’s move! Buy these Troopers some time to recuperate!” the woman ordered with the wave of her hand.
Out of nowhere, all-terrain vehicles known as Hounds that transported squads of up to six Troopers appeared, halting their tires to a screeching stop in front of us. Troopers clad in black and white camouflage armor with gray markings immediately exited the Hounds and began to set up huge walls of Construct energy.
I saw Yukino, Nobu, and Shadow appear and along with the Black Wolves, they immediately joined in on helping us.
“Yukino!” Ayano shouted. “I would definitely run and hug you right now, but we’re a bit busy here!”
“Agreed, Ayano!” Yukino nodded back.
“You asked for reinforcements, sir?” Nobu chuckled.
“Now with that minigun of yours, you count as twenty Troopers!” I remarked back to him.
“You’re alive,” Erika said as Shadow ran next to her, aiming his SR1 Sniper Rifle for a quick shot at a Brute's eyes – killing it instantly. He looked at her and nodded, while Erika returned the nod. “Courageous, Shadow. You’re nearly as honorable as I… but it’s a pleasure to see you.”
I glanced around and saw that with our new reinforcements, everyone’s hopes were back up to how they were before – possibly more than that.
Zenko stood up from where he was crouched and looked at the woman. “Ren?”
“Sir,” the woman known as Ren nodded. “Figured you all would need some help here, so I rallied a few units of Void Clearers to assist. Black Wolves under Sergeant Tomasu and your very own Storm Ravens are yours to command.”
“And here I thought we were on our own,” Zenko chuckled. “What’d you roll?”
“Double-sixes – a midnight, sir,” she replied.
“Midnight, huh?” Zenko stood up. “There’s only one solution to that!”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
Ren turned around and looked at us.
“We bring light.”
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