Chapter 20:

Troublemakers / Rule-breaker (Part 2: The real enemy)

The Dusk of Revenge

   “…I know that there are no citizens in the city and that nobody here is looking at us, but I do really feel uncomfortable seeing the four of you having fun while leaving me alone to secure the area! I don’t think this is the best moment to…”

“…So…You want to join us?” Akira interrupted Rin, making her face turn Red immediately. She blushed then screamed: “Like hell I would do such a thing!”

We laughed at her reaction as we stood up.

I retreated a bit to inform Asahi and Rin: “…Can you hear me, Shuna, Asahi!”

“…Tell Akira that I am going to punch him later to make him regret his actions! For a moment, I thought we lost them. I was even preparing myself for the worst!”

I looked at the three boys, who forgot the whole thing and were making fun of Rin, then tried to imagine the funny scene where Shuna beats them up.

“I hear you clearly, Shinji!” Asahi answered, “but I don’t think this is the right time to talk about what happened! The five of you are really in a bad situation. The transmission device of Akira was just destroyed. One of the enemies probably noticed that he was being followed.”

“…I think this is the best opportunity for us to strike first!”

“…You will charge towards the enemy? Are you sure of your decision, Shinji?” Rin looked at me as she looked a bit worried about the decision that I made. Seconds later, Kazuto and the others come to hear the conversation.

“I think this is the right thing to do.” Asahi declared, “I will continue supporting. I guess Shuna’s job will be hunting them down with her sniper as always… Am I correct, Shinji?”

Rin’s expression didn’t change a bit even after hearing Asahi. I decided to ignore her for a moment and focus on the plan. Shuna, who finally found a perfect spot to hide joined the conversation once again: “I am ready now! You can launch any attack on the enemy. I will be covering your backs!”

I walked toward Rin as I gave the orders to everyone: “…The plan won’t change from what we’ve done in training multiple times! Kazuto and Rintaro will jump in first. They attract the enemy’s attention. I will be jumping right after them. As for Rin and Akira you will wait for the best moment to jump. Both of you will try to land the final blow when you find the chance. All of us will be relying on you Shuna to cover us and Asahi who will inform us with any changes during the fight. We will start the mission immediately!” I looked at Rin in the eyes then continued talking: “…But before that! Come with me Rin! I need to talk to you in private before the start of the operation!”

Everyone looked at me surprised, especially her. She kept silent as we walked away leaving the guys behind us. I kept looking around verifying the distance and whether anyone was following us. I put my right hand in my jacket’s pocket as I kept thinking about pulling the gun.

“…You surprisingly didn’t say anything to the boys. You didn’t think of defending them nor blaming them. I wonder why!” I said as we kept walking.

Her face turned pale and sweaty immediately. “…I wonder why! Maybe I was so happy they were still alive to the point where I forgot even to talk!” a meagre smile appeared on her face as she tried desperately to change the subject. “…More importantly, why did you want to talk with me privately just before the attack?”

“You didn’t say anything at that time because you felt as guilty as them!” I replied.

“W-what do you mean by that?”

I pulled my gun and pointed it at her: “…You didn’t stay in the house as I ordered! After they left the house and Shuna went to take some rest you sneaked out and went somewhere. To be precise you tried to follow me!”

She took a few steps back out of fear then answered: “I… I… What makes you so certain about that in the first place? It’s true that I didn’t get a second of sleep since I was worried. I kept waiting for your arrival before the front door…

“…And you weren’t able to notice the boys roaming around the house to check out for enemies?” I interrupted her. “…I was…” “…And how were you able to know that the traitor woke up before the explosion?” I glared at her as I put my finger on the trigger preparing to shoot.

She sighed deeply then answered: “…And here I thought I was able to avoid any problem when I returned to the house quickly. I should’ve been more careful when I talked with you when you returned.” I looked at her with a surprised face as she suddenly gained some confidence and started walking toward me

“Leader, I guess you’re a bit soft with us! I understand that you’re suspecting me now… But isn’t it wrong to point an EMP gun at anyone in this squad you know very well that this isn’t the right weapon to use against normal humans.”

I lowered my gun as I showed a faint smile on my face: “…And you know that the first thing you learn in the military before holding a weapon is that you should never point a gun at an ally unless he becomes an enemy!”

“Hmm,” She smiled then continued, “…So does that mean I am still an ally?”

I ignored her question as I asked while returning my gun to the jacket: “…What do you know exactly? What have you seen there?”

“…I actually couldn’t hear what you had said but I remember hearing you scream (We’re in hell already thanks to you!) that’s when I understood that you had already started the interrogation, so I decided to leave.” She lowered her head a bit as she kept explaining what happened. “When I returned, I noticed that the boys were absent. That's why I kept silent. I felt guilty and responsible for what might have happened for them.”

“…Why did you even follow me in the first place?”

Rin looked at me silently for a few seconds then she turned her face as she answered shily: “…I was just… worried… about you…”

[Is that? Could it be?]

I smiled as I saw that cute reaction of hers.

“This might be a simple guess, but I think you knew things that I haven’t told anyone about.”

She looked at me with a puzzled face then answered with a large smile: “…You mean Ai-chan?”

I wasn’t expecting that kind of answer, so it took me a few seconds to respond. More than her answer itself, the tone in which she responded made completely speechless.

I needed some seconds to rethink what I had to say...

“When did you find out?”

“…I am just surprised how you didn’t notice for all this time! Since the first week I joined the squad, I found out about her.

“…I thought I was doing a decent job protecting my secrets!” I answered as I started walking back to join the others. Rin stood silently for a moment then added: “…At that time I was actually trying to verify if you had that badge or not! I… remembered seeing it somewhere.”

I turned to her and then answered with a firm look: “…You’ve maybe seen it when you were in Saitama 6 years ago!”

“…Wait what?!”

I turned to see the surprised look on her face… “You remember?” She asked. I looked at her with a puzzled face then continued walking. “…Everyone has one secret or two! This isn’t the right place or time to think about the past. Let’s defeat the Red Claws first!”

I didn’t wait to see her reaction… All I was able to do at that time was to walk toward the unknown future where maybe I can get my revenge…

[If everything goes well and we were able to defeat them, what shall I do with my life? This might be the final battle after all. It’s funny how I just started to realize that I wasted 6 years of my life trying to kill an unknown enemy. Was I really wasting my time? Wasn’t this the choice that I made in my life? Did I really join the military for this sole reason? What am I even going to do now?]

The weird thoughts kept hunting me as we were preparing to attack but all of that came to an end when the sound of Asahi reached my ear suddenly: “… Shinji! Get away immediately!” I looked around me quickly trying to find the location of the enemy but before I was even able to move a muscle I was thrown to the ground after receiving only one punch.

“Eh! Is this really the famous Shinji the leader of the 10th squad? What a weakling!” The man started laughing as he stood before me. White clothes, a bloodlust that can be sensed from 10 or 20 meters away, and shiny black metallic legs and arms. This is one of them definitely! An old member of the Red Claws and one of the first test subjects of the cyborgs project.

Rin and the three boys started immediately running towards me. The plan went completely to the wind…

As I stood up, I glared at them as I yelled: “…Stick to the plan!”

Akira and Rin stood in their position without making any move while Rintaro and Kazuto kept running.

A large smile appeared on the man’s face as he bowed elegantly: “…Gentlemen, let me introduce myself! The sixth Commander in the Japan branch of the Red Claws: Sasaki Yamato!” Before he was able to say any other word, he jumped back dodging a sniper attack.

[Wait! Wasn’t the speed of EMP bullets comparable to the speed of light!]

Technically, the EMP bullets were laser beams, but the movement of the magnetic field was a lot slower than the speed of light that is why we said that it was comparable. Even so, that speed wasn’t something any human can detect or dodge easily…

“That was really a sign of bad manners. You’re not a gentle person!” He looked in the direction of Shuna then smiled: “Lady sniper!”

“Shuna, do you hear me?” I asked “…Change your position immediately. I don’t think we will be moving any time soon from the centre plaza. Go find a better place! You won’t be able to hit him from that distance. This man has some kind of sensor that detects the EMP waves in the air before it reaches him. A natural enemy to a sniper!”

“Finished with your strategy meeting?” He smiled as he tried to do the attack he did earlier. But this time things didn’t go as he wished.

[This man! He is completely underestimating us]

A maniac smile appeared on my face as I answered: “Yeah! Thank you for coming all the way down here all alone! I guess this is what we call a death wish! Okay! I shall grant you this last wish!”

“Youngman! I think you’re making a big mistake here!” He jumped behind to attack Kazuto. “Who said I came alone?”

When he pronounced those words, I started looking around us as the enemy started to appear slowly from every direction.

“Let me introduce you to my comrades!” The man bowed once again as he dodged another shot from Shuna.

“Aah! Damn it! If the next bullet won’t hit, I will be joining the battlefield!” She shouted as she was running to another location.

We looked around us to realize that we’ve fallen right in the enemy trap… But even so none of us was worried.

It looks like the troublemakers and the rule-breaker were excited just like me to start this fight…