Chapter 15:

The Duel

The Young Knight of the Desert

Bushehr, Eurasian Tsardom. July 31, 2030; 1644 hours (Tehran Time)

The battle resumed across Bushehr. This time, however, it was between Walgears. While the three SH-6s piloted by the Nomads and Solbein, piloted by Tarou Ganji, charged at the advancing Imperial Eurasian Army SH-6s, Leila Alam in her EG01 provided fire support despite having little ammunition in her 120mm autocannons.

So this is a real battle involving Walgears, Leila thought.

Aiming at one SH-6, Leila fired from her right autocannon. Despite the SH-6’s pilot detecting the 120mm round, it was too late as the round reached the Walgear’s left arm, not only destroying the arm but also significantly damaging the Walgear before the pilot had a chance to press a certain button. As the Walgear fell into the ground, a large hole was made in the SH-6’s cockpit with the pilot filled with shrapnel that he slowly died.

However, another SH-6 pilot saw what Leila had done and charged at the EG01. Leila then spotted the SH-6 coming at her and again fired from the right autocannon. The SH-6’s pilot managed to evade, much to Leila’s horror. The Eurasian Walgear pilot began to use the SH-6’s Strike Knuckle found in its left hand but as soon as he got close, a Nomad in his SH-6 appeared before him and fired its AKS-74U, destroying the Eurasian SH-6 and killing its pilot.

“Are you okay?” the Nomad pilot asked over the communicator of Leila’s EG01.

Leila, however, was surprised to hear that the Nomad spoke in Farsi. “Y… You know Farsi?” Leila asked.

“I’m also an Iranian. Now find a suitable distance and continue firing.”


While the Nomad Walgear pilots and Leila continued fighting one squad of Imperial Eurasian Army Walgear pilots, Tarou by contrast, had little difficulty in eliminating another squad. All that was left of the squad he was fighting were two SH-6s, with their respective pilots widening their eyes and shaking their mouth upon having seen their fellow pilots slaughtered.

“H… He’s a monster!” shouted a female Eurasian SH-6 pilot.

“Then get out of here!” shouted Tigran Nazarov over the communicator.

The female SH-6 pilot saw Nazarov’s SH-6 charging against Solbein, which was carrying a carbine similar to the Sayf Tarou had carried on foot. The two surviving Walgears did as Nazarov ordered and withdrew.

“So you wish to die too?” Tarou solemnly asked, while his eyes glowed red. “Fine, then.”

As Nazarov fired his SH-6’s AKS-74U, Tarou managed to evade the shots. Instead, the shots from the carbine carried by Nazaorv’s Walgear hit another SH-6 fighting the Nomads.

How did he- Nazarov pondered until his SH-6 lost its left arm to Tarou.

I must be fighting a demon! Nazarov desperately thought as he fired again, only for Tarou to evade and fire again at an incredibly short span of time.

The rounds from the carbine carried by Solbein hit the carbine of Nazarov’s SH-6. This left Nazarov with only his Walgear’s right arm.

“Damn you!” Nazarov shouted.

Nazarov charged at Tarou while using his SH-6’s Strike Knuckle. However, Tarou quickly evaded the attack and removed Solbein’s left hand from the carbine the right hand carried. Readying its Strike Knuckle, Tarou pushed the left arm with its hand, gripping the Strike Knuckle against Nazarov’s SH-6 while it emitted an electric charge.

The Strike Knuckle then hit the head of the SH-6. Not only did it deprive Nazarov of the camera he needed to see, the electric charge disabled the electric components of his Walgear, creating a blackout throughout his cockpit.

Tarou then moved Solbein in front of the disabled SH-6. Switching from the wheels back to the panel that allowed him to walk the Walgear with his legs, Tarou slowly readied his left hand’s Strike Knuckle again as he got closer to the SH-6.

In his disabled cockpit, Nazarov desperately attempted to escape, but to no avail. “Help me!” Nazarov shouted as he heard Tarou getting closer to him. “Please spare m-”

Whether or not Tarou heard Nazarov’s pleas didn’t matter to the former. Tarou punched the SH-6 at the chest, creating an electric discharge against the nuclear reactor that stood between the chest armor and the cockpit. The electric discharge hurt Nazarov but only for a short while. However, Tarou punched again and again until the fourth punch pushed the damaged SH-6 back and exploded.

“Senior Volunteer Ganji, you did this?” Leila asked as she in her EG01 and the three Nomads in their respective SH-6s appeared and surrounded Tarou and Solbein.

Tarou, however, didn’t respond. “Senior Volunteer Ganji, do you read me?”

“Who… ?” Tarou asked.

“Seni- Mr. Ganji, are you alright?”


“I’m detecting four more Walgears incoming!” interjected the Nomad who knew Farsi.

Approaching the Nomad SH-6s, Leila’s EG01, and Solbein were the Imperial Eurasian Navy Walgear team led by Vladimir Mirov. In Solbein’s cockpit, Tarou’s eyes glowed red again, and he turned Solbein to the direction of the incoming Walgears.

“Is he really that crazy?” another male Nomad piloting one of the SH-6s asked.

“Let’s leave those to him,” Annabelle Yuan answered. “We best help A.K.”

“Roger that,” the two male Nomads responded in unison.

“EG01 pilot, what’s your name?” the Nomad who knew Farsi asked as he contacted Leila.

“Leila Alam.”

“You’ll have to come with us. I doubt you have any ammo left.”

Leila’s subsequent response, however, was in Farsi. “I’m sorry, I can’t understand y-”

“She’s saying she can’t leave Senior Volunteer Ganji and that she wishes to help him,” the male Nomad who knows Farsi interjected.

“Suit yourself,” Annabelle replied.

“There you are!” Vladimir Mirov shouted as he saw Solbein charging at his SH-6 through the screen of his Walgear’s control panel. “Aslanova, move back, stop and fire. Kipiani, divert to the right, Yusupov, divert to the left.”

“Zametano,” Nadezhda Aslanova, Giorgi Kipiani, and Talgat Yusupov replied in unison.

Having did as ordered, Aslanova, Kipiani, and Yusupov moved to the directions Mirov assigned to them. While Mirov continued moving forward, he fired his SH-6’s AKS-74U. Aslanova, Kipiani, and Yusupov followed with their respective Walgears’ carbines. Just as when the rounds fired were about to hit Solbein, it jumped to the horror of the four Eurasian Walgear pilots.

Mirov, Kipiani, and Yusupov stopped. However, Aslanova didn’t in time as Tarou managed to catch up to her and fired Solbein’s carbine, depriving her Walgear of its primary weapon.

“Nadia!” Kipiani shouted before going back with his SH-6 to help Aslanova.

Upon reaching Solbein, Kipiani fired his Walgear’s carbine at Solbein. The attention of the latter was now focused on Kipiani, with its two eyes glowing red.


1727 hours

The three Nomads in their respective SH-6s reached the Bahmani neighborhood, now filled with wrecked Walgears. They stopped upon seeing one Nomad in his SH-6 struggling against two Imperial Eurasian Army SH-6s.

One Eurasian Walgear fired its carbine at the Nomad’s Walgear, depriving it of its right arm and, by extension, its Strike Knuckle. The pilot, none other than A.K. was undaunted and charged against the other Eurasian Walgear.

However, A.K. didn’t use his Walgear’s remaining Strike Knuckle, but instead, he used the right hand to grab the Eurasian SH-6 by its carbine. The other Eurasian Walgear fired its carbine again; this time hitting its right leg.

Again, A.K. was undaunted by the shot. He pressed a series of buttons in his Walgear’s control panel, culminating with the screen of the control panel showing a red screen with words written in yellow. The topmost writing had the words “Self-Destruction Activated.” Below was a countdown that started with 5 and it became 4.

In the midst of this, A.K. found a button to press and after pressing it, the cockpit of the damaged SH-6 flew into the air. What followed next was an explosion that not only destroyed the SH-6 whose cockpit was ejected but also the two Eurasian SH-6s.

The other Nomad Walgear pilots saw their commander’s cockpit land on a house. Annabelle moved her SH-6 toward the house where the cockpit fell into and found A.K. looking at her SH-6.

Annabelle offered her SH-6’s left hand with A.K. jumping onto the hand. The three Nomads with A.K. in tow opted to withdraw back to the airport.


1735 hours

The Nomad pilots returned to Bushehr Airport. Wouter Vos got off his SH-6 and rushed to A.K. after his female subordinate dropped him off onto the tarmac. The latter also got off her SH-6 and rushed to join Vos and her commander.

“Where are Ganji and Alam?” Vos asked.

“They’re still in the east,” Annabelle answered. “It’s unbelievable. He took out one squad in minutes.”

“Did you say ‘one minute’?” Vos asked with concern in his tone as he turned to Annabelle.

“Has this happened before?” A.K. asked.

“Yep. Not only that, Caguiat’s told me that a force of Eurasian VTOLs are coming here.”

“Then we’ll have to help Ganji as well.”


1738 hours

East of Bushehr Airport, only three Walgears remained standing: Leila Alam’s EG01, Tarou Ganji’s Solbein, and Vladimir Mirov’s SH-6; the latter two having sustained damage while they continued to aim their respective carbines at each other. The respective SH-6s of Nadezhda Aslanova, Giorgi Kipiani, and Talgat Yusupov have been too damaged to remain standing with their respective cockpits ejected and abandoned.

“Y… You’re pretty good… ” Mirov said while looking at the screen of his Walgear’s control panel as it showed the damaged Solbein. “How about we toss aside our rifles and resort to our Strike Knuckles?”

Without saying a word, Tarou managed to remove Solbein’s carbine. Mirov followed with his SH-6’s AKS-74U.

Mirov then made his first move by using the Strike Knuckle of his Walgear’s right hand but as he made his strike, Tarou evaded. The latter used his Walgear’s right Strike Knuckle in response but the former evaded it.

Impressive, Mirov thought. Ganji can still fight despite the damages his Shagokhod sustained.

Tarou struck again but Mirov not only evaded, but used the Strike Knuckle of his Walgear’s left hand. Tarou turned and used his Walgear’s left Strike Knuckle to intercept the Strike Knuckle of Mirov’s SH-6.

It now became a battle of willpower. Both Tarou and Mirov strove to push their respective Strike Knuckles against each other, but they knew that their respective Walgears were at their limit. Tarou, however, managed to press on that the further he pushed his Walgear’s left fist against Mirov’s Walgear. Eventually, Tarou mustered enough strength for Solbein to damage the left arm of Mirov’s SH-6.

Tarou again punched Mirov’s Walgear, but this time, he used Solbein’s right Strike Knuckle. The electric discharged disabled the electronics of Mirov’s SH-6 and just as when Tarou attempted another punch with Solbein’s left Strike Knuckle, the Walgear stopped.

The eyes no longer glowed red. Tarou then slowly came about.

Where… am… I? Tarou pondered as his eyes opened.

Regaining his vision, Tarou now saw that he was still inside Solbein’s cockpit. It happened again, didn’t it?

Tarou then saw that on the screen of Solbein’s control panel were words in white. Topmost were the words “Rebooting operating system” with a countdown of one minute below.

Outside, Leila rushed to Tarou and, after making her EG01 kneel, she opened her cockpit. Reaching Solbein’s cockpit, Leila found a button at the bottom right of the cockpit’s rear and opened it.

Tarou turned to find Leila behind him. “You opened this?” Tarou asked.

“Baleh,” Leila replied.

“We have to wait though.”

Tarou’s smartphone began to ring. He found Wouter Vos’s frequency in Military Communicator and responded.

“Mr. Vos?” Tarou asked.

“Ganji, you’re okay!” Vos exclaimed over the smartphone. “What happened?”

“It was Mirov and his team. I was able to disable their Lances.”

Suddenly, Vos, along with the three Nomads, all of whom piloted SH-6s, appeared. Vos opened his Walgear’s cockpit.

“Then we better leave,” Vos shouted to Tarou and Leila. “Helpers are on their way here.”

“I can’t,” Tarou answered.

“Why not?”

“Solbein is rebooting right now.”

“Not good!”

An explosion occurred. While it didn’t hit a single Walgear, Vos, Tarou, and Leila turned their attention to the advancing T-99 main battle tanks.

“Looks like the attack’s started in earnest,” Vos remarked.

Tarou then heard that the operating system of Solbein was operational again. He rapidly turned to Vos.

“Solbein’s functional again,” Tarou shouted.

“Then we’re leaving,” Vos replied.

Leila then said something in Farsi as she pointed at Mirov’s disabled SH-6. “What’s she saying?” Vos asked.

“She’s asking what should we do with him?” Tarou answered.

“Leave him. He’s their problem now.”

The mercenaries and Leila moved away from the advancing T-99s. Tarou, however, was the last to withdraw as he grabbed his Walgear’s carbine that he threw into the ground during his fight with Mirov. Joining the T-99s were Kz-28s. Unlike those built to carry Walgears, these Kz-28s functioned as both transports and gunships. While they carried infantry, these Kz-28s also carried rotary cannons underneath their respective noses, Sa-8 rockets, and Medved anti-tank missiles.

The pilots of the Kz-28s spotted the fleeing Walgears and pursued ahead of the T-99. Each Walgear had rear cameras found on the left and the right of the rear. The footage they collected was transmitted to the screen in the cockpit’s control panel.

“They’re on our tail!” Vos shouted in his SH-6’s cockpit.

“We’ll deal with them,” the male Nomad who knew Farsi said over the communicator.

“Make sure you eject fast enough that you can rush back to the airport,” interjected Annabelle.

“Yes, ma’am,” the male Nomads replied in unison.

While Vos, Tarou, Leila, and Annabelle continued to Bushehr Airport, the male Nomads began firing their SH-6’s respective AKS-74Us against the advancing Kz-28s. Despite their ability to dodge, the Nomads were able to destroy them and resume retreating.

However, more Kz-28s appeared and fired their Medved anti-tank missiles. Seeing the approaching missiles, the Nomad pilots ejected their respective Walgears’ cockpits. While they were able to escape, the missiles hit the SH-6s, destroying them.

The cockpits then landed behind the old power station of the city. As they got out of the cockpits, the Nomad pilots rushed to the airport just as the surviving Walgears made it.


1825 hours

The two Nomads made it to the airport. However, they found not only every surviving Brotherhood of Freedom member along with the Nomad infantrymen gathering to the east, but also the Galaxy moving. One Nomad SH-6 knelt with its pilot, Annabelle, getting off to approach her fellow Nomads.

“It won’t be long now until those Eurasians make it,” Annabelle said to the two male Nomads. “Senior Volunteer Ganji will be the first inside because his Walgear is too valuable to give to the Eurasians, so once the rear bay door opens, he goes inside first. You can follow with A.K.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the two male Nomads replied in unison.

“Here they come!” Vahid Farahani shouted as the two surviving Kz-28s, the same ones that destroyed the two male Nomads’ SH-6s, neared Bushehr Airport.

“I’m also seeing Eurasian armor approaching,” Kourosh Bakhtiar added.

Everyone saw Eurasian armor, comprising T-99 main battle tanks, BTRs, and BMPs, approach the airport. “Everyone get into their positions,” Farahani ordered. “RPG handlers, use your rockets wisely. Once you’ve finished your rockets, run as fast as you can to the plane.”

“Yes, sir,” men with RPG-7s, including Yusuf al-Saqqaf, replied in unison.

“Once the silver Walgear is in the plane, we run to the plane in waves,” Bakhtiar added. “The remaining Walgear pilots will go last.”

Every Brotherhood fighter and Nomad infantryman moved to their positions, making a defensive line for the Galaxy as it moved to launch into the air. By this time, the two Kz-28s were within sight of the mercenaries and rebels.

Annabelle went back to her SH-6 and began to aim her Walgear’s AKS-74U at one of the Kz-28s. Wouter Vos in his SH-6 also aimed at the other Kz-28. Once the VTOL aircraft were near enough, Vos and Annabelle began firing.

Annabelle was able to destroy her target. However, she found Vos wasting what little ammunition his Walgear’s carbine had left in destroying the other Kz-28 as it was able to evade every shot.

For Annabelle, this allowed her to aim at the Kz-28 while it was distracted by Vos firing at it. Once a red-colored cursor on the screen of her Walgear’s control panel was locked onto the Kz-28, Annabelle fired her Walgear’s carbine. Having switched to semi-auto, the carbine only fired one bullet. The shot reached the Kz-28, destroying it.

However, Vos now saw that the T-99s neared the airport. He then switched to using his SH-6’s wheels with Annabelle seeing this in her Walgear control panel’s screen. Seeing what Vos was attempting to do as she knew he was out of ammunition, Annabelle opted to provide covering fire for Vos by attacking the T-99s.

Although these T-99s were the modified ones now used by the Imperial Eurasian Army, Annabelle continued firing despite 30x173mm rounds being ineffective against main battle tanks. This allowed Vos to continue charging at the distracted T-99s and as he got close, he activated his Walgear’s self-destruction sequence and as its countdown reached 3, he found a particular button and pressed it, ejecting the cockpit and himself out of the Walgear as it got close to one T-99.

The explosion caused by the SH-6’s self-destruction sequence engulfed the T-99. While the other T-99 continued firing at Annabelle’s SH-6 despite missing, Leila Alam in her EG01 fired the last round in her Walgear’s left autocannon. Miraculously, the 120mm round destroyed the T-99. Annabelle also opted to escape her Walgear, but not before activating its self-destruction sequence and opening her cockpit. After getting out, she too raced to the Galaxy.

As the cockpit of the Walgear he blew up landed, Vos got out and rushed for the plane as its rear bay door opened. Tarou Ganji in Solbein was the first to go inside.

“Come on,” A.K. ordered to his two subordinates with Vos joining them.

Behind the destroyed T-99s, BTRs arrived. Despite the efforts of the survivor RPG wielders, more BTRs arrived. Infantrymen rushed out of the BTRs and began charging at the outnumbered rebels.

The Brotherhood members, the Nomad infantrymen, Sunan Wattana, and Leila, while using her Walgear’s anti-personnel machine guns, fired at the advancing Eurasian infantrymen. Vahid Farahani not only turned his head back but heard the engines of the Galaxy being activated.

“It’s time!” Farahani shouted.

Hearing what Farahani said, Bakhtiar nodded. “First wave, run to the plane now!” Bakhtiar ordered.

The RPG carriers, now running out of rockets, threw their launchers away and made a mad dash for the plane. The remaining rebels, the Nomad infantrymen, Wattana, and Leila continued firing to help the first wave rush to the Galaxy while moving backward.

As Farahani saw the former RPG wielders made it to the plane, he began to see casualties began to mount up for those still firing.

“Second wave, now!” Farahani ordered.

Those who rushed to the plane next were the surviving volunteers who joined the Brotherhood earlier in the morning and Wattana. However, the Galaxy made a sound that indicated that it was now moving.

“It’s moving!” Bakhtiar shouted, making many rush to the plane.

“Machine gunners, give us time!” Farahani added.

Seeing the plane move through the screen of her EG01’s control panel, Leila then turned to using her Walgear’s front camera and found more Eurasian infantry charging at her and the remaining rebels and Nomad infantrymen.

She then activated her Walgear’s self-destruction sequence. However, she didn’t press the button used to eject the cockpit out of a Walgear. Instead, she made her Walgear kneel for the last time and after opening the cockpit, Leila rushed out of the cockpit and toward the Galaxy just as the EG01 exploded, killing a great deal of the Eurasian pursuers.

Already inside the Galaxy, Wattana saw Leila rushing to the plane. She brought out her Artashir and began firing at the Eurasian infantry, hoping to cover Leila as she ran to the plane.

At that instant, the bay door began to close. Wattana was now distracted, not only because of that, but it was also for another reason. As a result, she got close to the bay door.

“Leila, hurry!” Wattana shouted.

Managing to hear what Wattana shouted, Leila ran as fast as she could. Luckily, the bay door was still low enough that many of those still getting into the plane jumped. Some who carried wounded loaded them onto the plane first. Leila was one of those who jumped with Wattana rushing to help her if it was needed.

Leila jumped as high as she could with Wattana rushing to grab her. It worked as Leila landed on Wattana.

“Could you get off, please?” Wattana asked.

Although she didn’t respond, Leila did as Wattana asked. Wattana then decided to help those who still needed to get on the plane, but she found that the bay door was slowly closing again and speed of the plane increasing. Despite that, Wattana continued to help with Annabelle, who managed to board earlier, and Tarou assisting.

Among those still rushing to the Galaxy were Vahid Farahani and some of his cell. However, those still rushing to the plane were being shot, with Qazvini having wasted his RPK and rushing to join before being shot or captured.

The plane increased its speed again, making it even more desperate for the Brotherhood members. Wattana, Tarou, and Annabelle respectively helped Yusuf al-Saqqaf, Qazvini, and al-Saqqaf into the plane while Manuchehr Farahmand died while firing the last of his MG3’s ammunition.

Only Saman Dabri, Armin Khadem, and Jaleh Javadi were the last not to board. However, the bay door began to close again, forcing Saman to jump. While he got on the plane, Jaleh followed by jumping like Saman did, but it was then the door began to close some more.

Armin opted to help Jaleh up into the plane, but his left leg was shot. Despite that, he used the last of his strength to help Jaleh.

“Who got shot!?” al-Saqqaf asked with fear evident in his tone.

Jaleh then fell as she was inserted into the plane. “It was Lieutenant Khadem… ,” Jaleh answered.

“No!” al-Saqqaf shouted before rushing to the closing bay door.

al-Saqqaf found Armin desperately attempting to reach the plane despite his wound and the Eurasians closing in on him. “Stop the plane!” al-Saqqaf shouted while rearing his head before facing Armin for what will be the last time. “Armin, keep running!”

“I can’t… ” Armin weakly replied. “K… Kill me… ”

“NO! I can’t!” al-Saqqaf turned his head again. “Stop the-”

“Just shoot me!” Armin shouted with what little strength he had left. “Fatima… Fatima!”

Closing his eyes, al-Saqqaf brought out his Sikiyn. He repeatedly fired, hoping that all the bullets he’s spending will hit Armin. Unbeknownst to him, only one bullet hit Armin in his chest.

Armin now laid on his bleeding chest in the tarmac yet he was conscious. A Eurasian infantryman, seeing that the rebel was dying slowly, aimed his AK-2000 and shot Armin in the head.

al-Saqqaf then looked away and kept walking. At this time, the plane began to elevate itself, hiding its landing gears.


Above the Persian Gulf. 1950 hours (Tehran Time)

al-Saqqaf sat while surrounded by civilians. Farahani, Tarou, Bakhtiar, A.K., and Saman found him.

“Was that really Armin who couldn’t make it?” Farahani asked.

“Yes… ” al-Saqqaf answered without looking. “I shot him… He cried out his wife’s name, and I shot him… ”

No one said anything else. They had difficulty finding themselves in either Armin's or al-Saqqaf’s shoes.

“I’m… going to talk to Caguiat,” Vos said to break the silence.

“Same here,” Tarou added.

“I’ll go too,” A.K. added.


1930 hours (Arabia Standard Time)

Vos, Tarou, and A.K. approached the communications room of the Galaxy. Hearing their footsteps, Alicia Caguiat faced the three mercenaries.

“Gentlemen, what can I do for you?” Caguait asked.

“What’s going to happen next?” Tarou asked.

“Straight to the point. I like that. First, this plane will land in Kuwait International Airport.”

“Then what?” Vos asked.

“Every Iranian in here will have to be dropped off,” Caguiat answered. “It will be easier on us to drop off A.K. and his subordinates at Mauritania then take this plane and Solbein back to Japan.”

“And what about us?” Tarou continued.

“As for you, Mr. Vos, Miss Wattana, and Dr. Hamilton, you four will be in the custody of the FIA until they’ve worked out a way for you to return to Japan.

“Lastly, you’ll need to tell every man and woman with a gun to ditch them into the Persian Gulf. It would make it easier for us to land the plane smoothly.”

“Roger that,” Vos, Tarou, and A.K. replied in unison.


Kansai City, State of Japan. August 1, 2030; 1850 hours (Japan Standard Time)

In her office, Tatiana Ioannovna Tsulkidze, while eating ramen, received a call from her smartphone. After slurping and swallowing a noodle, Tatiana answered the call.

“Tatiana, are you there?” Vycheslav Puzanov asked over the smartphone.

“Director, what is it?” Tatiana asked.

“I’m hearing from my contacts in GRU that the mercenaries have escaped Iran with the remnants of the Brotherhood of Freedom. Most likely they’re in Kuwait now.”

“Any reports from Mamluk yet?”

“Nothing yet. Listen, I need you to continue keeping an eye on those mercenaries should they return to Japan.”