Chapter 5:

The Hunter's Bounty

Echoes of the Sanguine

"End of the line, little sanguine!"

Emerging from around the corner, the leader of the black-clad figures appears: A tall, even-toned, boastful Castilian man wearing a large dark, amber-accented trench coat and a stab vest. Even though it’s night, his eyes are shielded with angular orange sunglasses.

"Fear your demise by my hands, for it is I, Cruz, 5th Squad Leader of Los Cazadores!"

After that bombastic introduction, I stupidly confront these armed newcomers. “Who are you? What do you want with us?”

Cruz turns to one of his men. “¿Qué pasa with this boy?”

“Appears to be a regular human, boss,” his underling replies.

The eccentric leader chuckles to himself. “I didn’t know sanguine were capable of making friends.” He then calls out to me, “We only have business with the girl, so step aside and you’re good, amigo.

I glance at Eliana, who's still clutching her shoulder wound. “Are these the ones you’re running away from?”

“Don’t talk to her,” Cruz shouts, “never trust the words of a sanguine!”

“A what?” I shout back, confused.

Cruz shakes his head and mutters to himself. “Civvies can't get a damn clue.” Then more loudly to me, “There’s a reason sanguine like her have a bounty. World’s better off without them, and I really love getting paid. Get out of the way, or my Hunters will deal with you too.”

A crossbow is cocked.

I should heed their words and leave quietly, but his attitude is starting to piss me off.

Seeing my defiance, Eliana stresses to me, “I'll handle this. Just go.”

Instead, I shield Eliana with my body and get in a fighting stance.

Cruz cackles amusingly. “Has the sanguine charmed you? Muy bien, gilipollas.” His Hunters aim their crossbows at me.

Eliana immediately leaps on her feet and shoves me out of the way.

She pulls a throwing knife from her thigh holster and launches it, striking one of Cruz’s men in the neck, instantly killing him. The others scramble for cover, except Cruz.

Eliana weaves through the incoming arrows fired by the Hunters, advancing towards the squad from cover to cover. She throws a knife at Cruz standing in the open, hitting him right in his stab vest, which he casually removes unharmed and unfazed.

Eliana closes the distance to the other two Hunters, taking down one with a dropkick to the head, with the other flipping out his karambit. Blocking the slashes with her metallic arm, she grabs his wrist and drives the blade across the attacker’s own neck. Blood spills out from the gash and he crumples, gurgling to death.

Eliana turns back to Cruz and see that even more Hunters have arrived by his side, ready to take her down.

This is shaping to be a tough fight.

Cruz retreats to the rear, allowing his squad to attack with a mix of crossbows and folding karambits. Despite being outnumbered, Eliana holds her own, using her incredible athleticism to deliver effective punches and kicks while dodging arrows and knife slashes.

From my vantage point, I observe Eliana fight valiantly. If I try to help her now, I definitely would be killed.

I look back at my escape route down the alleyway behind me. The rational thing would be to leave right away. My gaze then notices the Great Dragon’s gun lying on the ground…

Cruz, observing his men losing the chaotic fight, licks his lips. “Looks like it’s my turn.”

He swiftly unzips the case strapped to his back and assembles two pieces of a modified TAC15 crossbow-rifle. He loads a long silver arrow into the chamber, cocking it back with a single, powerful motion.

He pulls out the cross pendant on his neck and kisses it before looking through the scope.

Cruz then recites a latin prayer.

"Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio,” he recites under his breath, “contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium..."

His right eye shifts color, turning a toxic green. Despite Eliana's flurry of movement and frequent blockages of line-of-sight by his own men fighting, Cruz tracks her with deadly accuracy.

Cruz’s Ability: Deadeye

He finishes with an “Amen,” and pulls the trigger.

With a CLACK, the arrow releases, flying between his squadmates, and strikes Eliana.

Luckily, she barely blocks it with her prosthetic arm and knocking her backwards, damaging the outer shell and exposing internal mechanics.

The attackers take the opportunity to subdue her, but Eliana counters with a kick, bringing herself upright and sending one stumbling backward. Another leg sweep takes care of the others surrounding her.

Cruz loads another arrow and cocks his rifle. He fires again.

Eliana ducks behind one of the Hunters. The arrow meant for her pieces straight through Cruz’s own man instead.

Carajo, you’re in the way!” Cruz reloads his rifle.

Another arrow from above narrowly misses Eliana. She ducks and grabs a loaded crossbow from one of the downed Hunters and shoots the attacker on the roof. Direct hit: he falls three stories, into the pavement.

More Hunters descend on her. Looking for an escape, she reloads the crossbow and aims at a window frame above. She fires and it hits a latch that unfolds a fire escape ladder. She pulls a grenade from her belt and tosses into the middle of the alley. Smoke quickly fills the area, obstructing Cruz’s view. She grabs the rungs and climbs up the ladder, but…

¡Idiota! I can see through the smoke!”

Cruz fires and the arrow pierces Eliana’s leg. Silver makes contact with her blood, burning her flesh. Eliana cries out in pain, but steels herself and continues climbing. Cruz reloads his rifle and fires again, this time he hits the rung the Eliana is gripping, the close call causes her to let go of the ladder and fall on her back with a thud.

Cruz approaches confidently, stepping on her wound and relishes in his apparent victory.

“You’re worth a lot more than the other sanguine I’ve hunted. Not only will HQ reward me double, The Appraiser might even promote me to 3rd Squad Leader!”

He raises his rifle and prepares for the final shot.

“It's time to collect your head, diablilla.”

BANG BANG! Two gunshots echo from the end of the alleyway, one grazing Cruz’s face. Completely startled and taking his eyes of Eliana, he checks who the shooter is.


With the CZ-75 pistol shaking violently in my hands.

Ese pelmazo…” Cruz mutters, shrugging off his face wound. He looks back down at Eliana. Seizing the moment, she pulls the pin out of a flashbang from her belt.

WHITE FLASH! Cruz becomes disoriented. When he comes to, Eliana is gone.

Supporting Eliana with her arm around me, I help her down Tokyo’s narrow side streets.

“Why did you help me?” she asks with a pained voice while we scurry away as fast as her injuries will let her.

“To get even from earlier.”

“We're even if you can lead us out of here.”

I hear Cruz and his Hunters descending down the alley in front of us, so we turn around and head a different way.

But we find ourselves at a dead end.