Chapter Three: Squall

“Yo, let’s go grab some girls,” said a bandana-wearing man.

“We did that just the other day. The cops might start givin’ a fuck,” said a slightly younger man seated in a black leather chair. He wore multiple layers of loose clothing, typical attire for a gang member like him. His hair was dyed bright orange.

Bandana and Orange were lazing around in their usual hangout, the top floor of an abandoned building in the middle of their territory. Despite the drab exterior of the building, the room they were in was well-furnished.

“Dude, the cops’re just a buncha lazy bastards!” Bandana’s eyebrows scrunched together as his lips curled into a smirk. “Betcha they don’t even care who goes missin’ near our turf. Even if they did, they got no balls to do anything about it.”

“Guess yer right.” Orange stood up from his chair.

A red dot appeared on his forehead. Bandana was looking right at his face but did not seem to notice anything unusual.

The upper half of Orange’s head burst open, spewing bloody citrus into the air.

Brain matter stuck to Bandana’s hair, and blood coated his face. He had definitely heard the gunshot, but it seemed as if he was still unable to process what happened. Glass shards from the broken window were scattered on the floor.

“Wha-”

This time, it was the bandana-covered head that exploded. The thin cloth did not reduce the human splatter in the least.

“Entry point secured,” said a girl perched on top of a building beside the one with a newly broken window and two fresh corpses. She was covered neck to toe with a dark grey form-fitting suit and wore a protective vest with numerous pockets. Her sleepy, unmoving face made it seem as if she was looking at the most boring thing in the world.

“Proceed with the mission, Arashi. Leave no one alive,” said a gruff voice coming from her earpiece.

“Roger.”

The girl stood up and aimed her customized assault rifle at the same window she had shot through earlier. The large rifle did not seem as if it could be carried, much less used, by a girl her size. It had no scope, but a small laser sight was attached to its frame. Only Arashi could see the emitted light because of her special right eye.

She flipped a switch on her rifle and pulled the trigger. An arrow shot out of the bottom barrel of her rifle and dug itself deeply into the concrete wall inside the room. Attached to the arrow was an extremely thin alloy rope, the other end of which was connected to the rifle.

With a running start, Arashi jumped off the roof as she flipped another switch. The rifle rapidly pulled the rope in, causing her to fly towards the window without losing much altitude. She slipped through the opening and used her cybernetic left leg to land on the wall where the arrow was anchored. She nimbly bounced off the wall and landed on the ground. Using her right hand, she pulled out the arrow and reset it in her rifle.

Her unkempt black hair had been further ruffled by the jump. Her half-open eyes scanned the room as she walked to the open door. She peeked into the corridor and saw several men appear from the stairwell at the far end.

She closed her left eye and used her bionic right eye to zoom in and calculate the distance. The men noticed her and readied their handguns as they took cover. Arashi took out a compact grenade from her vest, pressed a button on it, and pitched it to her targets. It was an absurdly accurate long distance throw. The concussion grenade landed right in the middle of the gang members and exploded. Arashi entered the corridor after confirming there were no active hostiles. She ran past the corpses, her face still deadpan, and went down the stairs.

On the next floor, she met two more gang members and promptly shot them to death. Running down the corridor, she heard some activity in a closed room. She kicked the door open and tossed in a frag grenade without looking inside. Screams of panic resounded in the room, but they were erased by the explosion.

Reloading her rifle in between encounters, she continued clearing out the floors in the same manner. A rare smile slowly crept into her emotionless face.

This is so much fun!

She arrived at an intersection on the second floor. She engaged two men taking cover at the end of the eastern corridor. While they exchanged gunfire, another gang member with a pistol appeared from the western corridor. Realizing she was sandwiched, Arashi immediately shot and destroyed the two ceiling lights on the eastern corridor and dove into the darkness.

The two men shot randomly because their eyes had not yet adjusted to the dark. Arashi calmly stayed prone on the ground and shot the heads of the two men one by one. Her right eye’s heat detection capability had compensated for the lack of light.

The man from the western corridor approached her from behind as she stood up. He aimed his gun and fired, but she managed to avoid the gunshots by jumping to the side. He quickly adjusted his aim, but a split-second before he could pull the trigger, she lowered herself almost flat to the floor. His bullets missed, flying just above her head, but Arashi was rendered unable to shoot or dodge due to her position. The man aimed his gun at her with a confident smirk, but before he could fire, a shock wave coming from behind threw him towards Arashi.

Right before Arashi had ducked, she had lobbed a concussion grenade over the man’s head with her left hand. It had been a rushed toss and had dropped quite a distance from the target, but it was enough. The grenade had exploded on impact, pushing the enemy towards her. She met the frightened man’s head with a roundhouse kick. His neck snapped like a twig from the combined force of the blast and Arashi’s alloy leg.

The innocent smile on her face grew even more pronounced. She looked like a normal teenage girl having fun with her friends, only she was surrounded by dead bodies.

This was the only time that Arashi could express herself properly. Normally, she did not know how to interact with people because she lacked social experience.

That was close!

Good thing the grenade didn’t fly too far.

The upper floors are clear. I should head to the lobby.

Her abnormal reticence did not mean that her mind was always blank. Her tongue and face were simply too untrained to translate her thoughts to words and expressions.

This incapability caused various problems for her in everyday life, but her current task was different. She could be herself while doing what she was trained to do. It was something she knew well and excelled at, so not even a shred of her usual awkwardness could be seen.

I feel bad about Father’s injury, but being in the front lines makes this so much more fun!

Her father usually took the role of the vanguard, with her focusing on support. Due to a gunshot wound, he had to take the supporting role this time. He only gave her instructions and information while observing from a different location.

Arashi jumped down the stairs and landed on the ground floor.

They gathered in the lobby as planned.

There were over a dozen people in the large room. They were watching the numerous lobby stairwells and elevators. One of them saw her peek into the room and alerted the others. She hid herself, pulled out a grenade, and threw it into the middle of the room using her right hand.

Her ARMS guaranteed that the grenade covered the large distance to her target. The grenade hit the ground, and a blinding flash of light filled the lobby followed by an eardrum-shattering boom.

Arashi rushed into the room and picked off the man who had noticed her earlier. Her rifle’s high-calibre bullets tore through his body as if it was paper. The rest of the gang members were still blinded by the flashbang and did not shoot, likely afraid of friendly fire. This room had become her own little garden, and she intended to play to her heart’s content.

She continued running across the room while changing targets and firing in short bursts. Each pull of the trigger meant one less enemy. Their innards and blood flew through the air and painted the dirty old carpet red. Not ceasing her run, she reloaded her rifle as she counted off the remaining enemies.

Don’t worry. I’ll get to you in a minute.

By the time some of them regained their vision, Arashi was already quite a distance from her initial position. The remaining gang members looked around in confusion until one of them got her face blown off. They immediately started firing at the source of the gunfire, but Arashi had already leapt away from her position. She executed a landing roll, stopped in a kneeling position, and shot down the closest man. Noticing a gaudily dressed woman aim a submachine gun in her direction, Arashi jumped up over ten feet to avoid the bullet trajectory.

The female gang member pulled the trigger but missed Arashi by a hair’s breadth. Arashi returned fire while in the air. She held the trigger longer than usual to compensate for the accuracy lost due to her lack of stability. The shock on the woman’s face became unreadable because her jaw had been blown off. The heavy recoil caused Arashi to float backward. She landed on her butt and used the remaining momentum to roll back and stand.

You thought you could actually hit me?

Despite her internal boasting, her smile remained cherubic. She was not skilled enough to express her more complicated thoughts.

She took a firing stance and shot the backs of two women who were running towards the building exit in terror.

Her deadly, flamboyant dance had finally ended. A slightly satisfied look surfaced on her face. She had poured forth her entire self without reserve.

“First building clear, sir,” she said in a monotone.

“Roger that. Move on to the next building. We have to clear out three more for this mission. Eight targets have surrounded your building’s main exit. They only have handguns and melee weapons, so just break through them.”

“Yes, sir.”

She started walking towards the exit doors. They were tinted, so she remained undetected as she eyed her prey. Her smile returning, she readied her rifle and pinched two compact grenades between her fingers.

I wish this would never end.

 

 

Next Chapter

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