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Full Metal Panic! - Volume 8 - Chapter 4


Chapter 4: Collateral Damage 
 
 
White smoke came from the right flank; the M9 lay powerless above the rubble. Looking down at that unit, Sousuke spoke in the exterior speakers. 
“Come out” 
After a little while, there was a detonation in the head attached to the M9, blowing off the head part. 
In the event that the chest hatch can’t be moved, an escape device for emergencies is available. The pilot crawled out from that narrow escape opening in the head part. 
Although the power system in the abdomen was destroyed, and the chest and cockpit had been badly damaged, the pilot had no major injuries. 
Standing atop the rubble, the pilot said “Dammit” and removed his head gear. 
He was in his 30’s, a man with a tanned side moustache. The pilot suit was similar to the type Sousuke wore at Mithril. 
Sousuke’s Savage had already used up all of its weapons, but then living flesh cannot run away from an AS. The other man also knew this well and did not show any sign of a struggle. 
“I thought you traveled here in desperation but...I was wrong. So everything was calculated. Being so familiar even with this M9’s characteristics...exactly who are you?” 
“I will be the one asking questions.” 
After saying that, Sousuke knelt his unit beside the man. That alone was enough to intimidate him. 
“I will have you talk about that M9 and your identity. You can’t acquire that kind of unit simply with money.” 
“You think I will honestly talk to you” 
“Did you think I would honestly give up?” 
He suddenly extended the AS’ left hand, grabbing hold of the man. 
“Uo” 
“Fighting with you has considerably worn my joints out. The grip control is also questionable.” 
Although I don’t want to crush you, give up before your ribs are crushed. 
The five rough fingers tightly grasped the body. The man struggled with his limbs. 
“Hot isn’t it. One of the characteristics of the old model RK-91, as it doesn’t carry a cooling system. 
“With continued fierce battles, the heat of the engine and hydraulic system is transmitted into the fingertips. If you weren’t wearing that pilot suit, you would be burned. But, even then, how many more seconds....” 
“Alright, alright! I give in! I’ll talk just let go!” the man shouted, waving around both his hands. 
After Sousuke let go the man fell down onto the rubble on his backside. He was breathing over his shoulder and gasping. 
“Dammit...geez, you’re a cruel guy” 
“You’re someone who should have been killed, be thankful that you’re alive” 
While saying that, Sousuke operated the switch in his unit’s sensor. He was bothered that the Chief had not said a single word or sent a communication after his victory. If he planned to make him disappear here it would not be strange to have new AS attack here. But Sousuke didn’t detect that kind of movement. 
“Are there other ASes drawing near?” 
“No, it’s only me” 
“How careless” 
“It was unthinkable that the M9 would lose to the Savage. I also thought that.” 
“Are you a soldier of Amalgam?” 
Hearing the question Sousuke posed, the man went silent for a while. Then he gave a sarcastic smile. 
“So that’s it huh. Well, in this kind of way, I’ll be fired immediately. No-this time it would be an execution.” 
“Are you a soldier of Mithril?” 
“That’s right.” 
After the name Mithril came up, the man looked surprise. 
“Until the other day that is. Wait, Could it be that you’re-” 
“I was in the West Pacific Fleet. The SRT.” 
“It’s no wonder you’re so knowledgeable about the M9-. Tuatha de Danaan huh. I heard that a tough lady leads it. Also that bastard chief- knowing that we were former comrades, he didn’t let me know.” 
The man with a hard voice narrowed his eyes, and made a small sigh. 
“Where were you?” 
“I’m in the Mediterranean Fleet. Sergeant George Laplock. From the SRT.” 
Laplock. It’s not that he hadn’t interacted with the other fleet members, but he didn’t remember the man’s name. However, this wasn’t unnatural. Having 4 fleets and a tactical headquarters, Mithril would have a number of members in the SRT. As for an unknown face, there would be many. 
The man, Laplock, asked, “Do you know Ben Clouseau? Last year, he was assigned as a First Lieutenant there. Before he was assigned in my squad...” 
“I know him well. More ever, what happened to the Mediterranean fleet? Why are you piloting the M9 under Amalgam? Tell me.” 
“...... Probably, my whole fleet was completely wiped out. The base in the Aegean Sea was attacked; my comrades were most likely killed. I don’t even know how many survived.” 
“Why were you saved?” 
Laplock looked down and made a painful expression. It was like Sousuke had asked, “Why are you living in shame?” 
“I was absent from the base. There was a simple operation with Basque. An Observation Mission using only one M9. After it was over, I returned to Hercules.” 
Basque was one of the locations in Spain, an area where isolated independent movement and terrorism was not constant. 
Hercules was a C-130 transport. It was not an unusual point. 
Even for Sousuke’s Pacific Ocean fleet, there were many missions like that. 
“By the time we noticed the disaster when we returned, the base was already taken over. There was only a small amount of fuel remaining in the transport, we couldn’t run away. The only landing runway was controlled by the enemy. And then we discussed-” 
“Surrender, then” 
“That’s right. I approached them with a deal. This unit.” 
He glanced at the damaged M9. 
“Making use of the M9 and its tactics- and then there is this and that. Amalgam also had information on the M9, in the end it was only the specs. With only opinions of the people who used it in the field, they themselves have not heard of it.” 
“With only that the enemy gave their consent?” 
Sousuke asked with doubt, Laplock kept silent, looking up at the Savage’s Optic Sensor. 
“Yeah” his voice rose, trembling. “-They gave their consent. They also practiced. They also needed an Aggressor. After being offered that kind of information and situation, Amalgam employed me.” 
“What about the others. The transport surrendered didn’t it?” 
“...I don’t know. We were separated immediately after surrender, we didn’t see each other.” 
“Are there others from Mithril that surrendered?” 
“I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be strange if there were.” 
“What’s Amalgam’s plan?” 
“I also don’t know that. Speaking of the surprise attack Mithril is being chased into complete annihilation, there is no doubt that the scheme is above the multitude of fleets.” 
“What is their positioning activity? What is their organizational chart?” 
“All I know is that, Bucharest, Tripoli, Corsica, The Crimea, Sri Lanka and Yemen. I don’t know the details of the location, but I’ve seen the camp in the outskirts of Tripoli, somewhere in Ceylon. The others were not splendid establishments. Rather---they are bases that can always be withdrawn and constructed at anytime. Someone is preparing the equipment; the budget must have come from somewhere. Probably most of the members of Amalgam don’t know the whole picture. They are always fluid, and dispersed the command center of the organization.” 
“Like the internet.” 
Originally, the internet, with the United States on the verge of nuclear attack from the Soviets, built a network for the survival 
of a decentralized chain of command. Amalgam made use of this concept applied to a Terrorist Organization, ensuring their survival. 
“That’s right. If you take down one another would take its place, having an accurate picture of all the organization, it is virtually impossible to destroy them. Nobody understands the truth. That’s where they’re strong.” 
“However, you can’t make a decision. If a pyramid doesn’t have a summit....” 
“It can’t. That’s not it. It’s just, slow. It’s not that I don’t grasp what I saw....I think that Amalgam is a ‘Democratic’ organization. Ironically it is mighty. To reach a conclusion, it takes time. 
“I see” 
That is why Sousuke had so much time while in Tokyo to “guard” Kaname. 
If it was a fast decision making facility, there would have been a fierce attack following the Shun On incident. 
Also for the A21 incident, that’s also true for the Pacific Chrysalis issue. And to determine exactly what would be the next hit. There were strange points in both incidents. There were many inefficient aspects. 
But, what about looking at it from the perspective of the risks? 
As a result, their operations were stopped by Mithril. And the personnel involved in the operations, as well as highly rare equipment fell into the hands of Mithril. 
With careful analysis and examination, it was not strange that fatal information was obtained by the enemy organization---even after a considerable amount of time, Mithril was not able to grasp the information of Amalgam. 
That’s right. Even after many failures of bold operations, it was not a huge blow to them. 
“I only came to Namsak the other day. I was at the Libyan camp until that time. A man called Kurama came, made me-” 
“Did you say Kurama?” 
Sousuke blurted out, Laplock knitted his brows. 
“You know him?” 
“A little. He’s here?” 
“Yeah. He’s watching the battle right now. There is a mountain to the north-north east. That’s the ‘Grandstand’ where the VIP guests are-” 
At that time, there was a reaction in the infrared sensor. 
“Wait.” 
<Direction 3-4-8. Distance 3000. Altitude 85 meters.> 
Most likely the units sent by the Chief. A small attack copter headed their way. The Savage’s sensor aimed at the target. 
He put it to maximum magnification. The helicopter was loaded with Stub wings, a rocket launcher, and a cannon. 
There was no mistake that they had the intention of killing Sousuke. They knew very well that he had no means of retaliating with his weapons. 
“Looks like the time is up.” 
Sousuke smacked his lips and raised the engine output of the worn out unit. 
“What are you planning?” 
“I told you. Time is up.” 
Sousuke controlled the unit and extended his manipulator into the right arm of the exhausted M9. Grabbing the wrist of the M9 with both hands, he gripped it with full power. 
Mustering the small amount of power in Sousuke’s Savage he forcibly tore off the interior and exterior armor of the M9’s 
wrist. Together with the distorting sound of metal, he exposed the interior mechanism. Sousuke briskly controlled the Savage’s manipulators, taking out the wire of the wire gun in the lower part of the M9. 
“Hey, wait. That Savage doesn’t have any more weapons right? How do you plan on fighting against them?” 
The enemy helicopter was drawing near. At full speed, in its forward bent posture, Sousuke made the unit step left, reeling the wire from the M9 and swinging it overhead. Like a cowboy in a western film. 
“Hide.” 
At the same time that Sousuke said this, the helicopter in range fired its rocket. 
A large rocket spread from the lotus-like launcher. The Savage jumped to the right and evaded the attack. The rocket exploded in the area surrounding the unit. 
Recovering from the attack, with the wire in hand, he threw the wire towards the helicopter in the sky. 
The M9’s wire gun was a special piece of equipment that allows a unit that weights 10 tons to maneuver mountains and urban areas. Shooting at a vertical cliff as an anchor, the unit was capable of running up. Even though the wire was only a mere 10 millimeter in diameter, it was made of tough metal and carbon fibers and could hold up to 10 times the weight of the unit in an instant--- in other words its toughness could bear a load more than 100 tons. 
The wire traversed straight above into the enemy Helicopter’s rotor; it coiled around it like an animal. 
What came next was simple. 
He gripping the base of the wire and pulled strongly with full force, collapsing the enemy helicopter at once. It crashed into the ground and exploded. 
“Are you alive?” 
Hearing Sousuke’s call, Laplock crawled out from the wreckage of the M9. He seemed to be in shock after the point-blank explosion and stepped with uncertainty. 
“Yeah.” 
“Although I have mountains of question, there is no time. You are-” 
Sousuke smacked his lips. 
Unlike the M9, the damaged old model Savage had no more room to take this man. To begin with, the overheating unit would not be able to carry Laplock. 
“---enough, do what you like. Run away to anywhere.” 
The man was more and more surprised. 
“Run away? Me? You don’t understand. Why would-” 
“I don’t have time to mind you, like I said” 
“Wait. Could it be that you’re alone? You don’t have any friends coming?” 
Suspicious of the words, Sousuke answered briefly. 
“I don’t have comrades. I’m alone.” 
“What did you say? Then, why are you fighting in a place like this?” 
“I have something to pay Amalgam. I’m also in the same circumstances as you. While being away from the base, my comrades were massacred. 
“.....” 
He checked the condition of the unit. 
Oil pressure was going down. A decent cooling system just came to a standstill. Nevertheless, it was better than being naked. After catching up to the enemy’s tail, he couldn’t just let go. 
“An important thing was stolen. I’m definitely going to take it back from them.” 
“Hey hey. You’re fighting them just because of only that reason!? Are you serious!?” 
“...only that reason?” 
The unit’s generator output was rising. He cut off the oil pressure in the left arm; it saved some time in operation. 
“For me that is enough reason. No matter what, I will recover it by any means. That’s what I vowed.” 
That’s right. Vowed. 
In that classroom. 
He turned around toward the direction where the Chief was. From behind the departing Savage, standing on top of a mountain of rubble, Laplock shouted. 
“I don’t understand! You’re just a mercenary aren’t you? When the wind blows you also change employer. Wasn’t our style to follow the best terms!?” 
Somehow, Laplock’s words were bitter. Not towards Sousuke, but to someone far away- no, he was saying it to himself. That was how his voice sounded. 
“That’s right. In the life of migratory birds, that is essential.” 
“Then---” 
“I’m no longer a mercenary. I’m just a man.” 
After uttering that, Sousuke moved his unit. 
Laplock fell on his knees calling out something that a bad state external microphone was not able to pick up. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Michael Lemon, who had saved Ash and the maintenance crew, cleaned up the corpses of the killed corrupt policemen. Immediately his “men” started to move. 
“What exactly are you people?” 
Inside the van traveling on the unfinished road, Ash inquired. The other members of the maintenance crew, together with several of Lemon’s men, were sent back from the outskirts of Munamera Village. 
“I think it would be better if you don’t know about the penetration.” Lemon replied, offended. 
Ash waited for him to expand, but he noticed that Lemon was staying silent. He raised his voice and tried again, “I don’t understand. Explain it to me. How did you escape the detention cell? Are you some kind of spy? Were you keeping quiet from us all that time?” 
“It’s true that I deceived you but that’s beside the point.” 
“With that manner of speaking, there’s no way that I can understand!” 
Then Lemon wrinkled his eyebrows, and with some difficulty he opened his lips. 
“When I met you guys, it was really a coincidence. No matter how strong any team would be alright as long as there was a connection to the Arena in Namsak. That’s why when Nami gathered the funds, I thought of finding another connection that was suitable to handle. At any rate---excuse me but, you guys are too weak. Until that hits, you’re just on the category of a general plans. It’s just---” 
“It’s just?” 
“On that day, when Sousuke came I changed my mind. His knowledge of ASes and others, there are others but- it’s his 
demeanor that drew me. He’s young but he’s accustomed to fighting. I understood immediately. I knew.” 
After muttering that, Lemon’s facial expression became gloomy and sobering. It was similar to his face when he had ordered his men to kill the corrupt policemen. 
“That’s why let your body flow with the current. That’s what I think. In any case, it is not half hearted to get close to that organization. But it’s impossible; I didn’t think that his goal was similar to ours.” 
With the enigmatic words of Lemon, Ash could only shake his head. 
“I can’t understand at all. After all, where are you guys from?” 
Lemon gave a bitter smile. 
“An information department from a certain country. My country is being pulled by the line by Amalgam and Mithril.” 
“I really don’t understand, Monsieur.” 
Ash grumbled, then Lemon finally smiled. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Sousuke used every trick he knew to continue. The weariness of his unit was almost at its limits. Many warning lamps were flickering inside the cockpit. It was just like the decorative lights on a Christmas Tree. 
Before he had reached the “Grandstand” over the mountains that Laplock had pointed out to him, his unit’s hydraulics temperature needle had reached over its limits. Losing oil- to a human it was like losing blood- after resupplying, it could still work some more, but this was not that time. 
Sousuke stopped the unit, opened the cockpit hatch and got out. 
“.....” 
From the lock in the cockpit side, he took out his favorite pistol and magazine and got down into the ground. An Australian made Glock 19.  
The feeling of insufficient heat was undeniable. If necessary, he would have to deal with one man then two. Then after, it would be good to take a weapon off the enemy. 
The mountain where the “Grandstand” sat was a stereotypical forest shrouded with broadleaf trees. Sousuke, within the darkness, raced in the thick trees, turning from the east bank. At first he was in a difficult situation with a pitch black field of vision, but slowly his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. 
How many sentries will he run into? Sousuke headed close to the highway on the east side of the mountain. 
The map of the neighborhood had been stored in his head. He was familiar with the vegetation and surroundings, having fought in South East Asia a few years ago. 
Advancing in the darkness, he saw a concrete gate installed on the slope of the mountain. The gate was enclosed on four corners with barbed wire, illuminated by a strong light. There were also a suitable number of guards. Not far from this gate, getting closer to Sousuke’s Savage, pilots were loitering around the neighborhood, but it was not unreasonable. 
If he left things alone, with himself hiding in the thicket, he might be discovered by the lookouts. 
Well, what now? 
Sousuke was losing interest in attacking the enemy camp. Then there was a new movement in front of the gate. 
In front of the gate coming out from a patrol car of Namsak city, two policemen and one girl got out. 
It was Nami. 
Then, from the inside of the gate, the targeted man appeared. A private army surrounded the two men. One was the Chief- the other one was him! 
That’s right, it was Kurama. 
He had a tall solid figure. Even with the sweltering climate of Southeast Asia, he wore a black coat. 
Kurama glanced at Nami, firmly grasping the girl he thrust an automatic pistol to her jaw. 
“Sagara! Are you watching? If you are then you understand!” 
His loud voice resounded. He had guessed that Sousuke was lurking nearby. 
“Come out and throw away your weapon! If you don’t, I’ll kill her! I’ll give you 10 seconds!” 
Nami’s small form started shaking uneasily with extensive nervousness. 
The atmosphere of the tropics late at night was humid and heavy; no wind was blowing in the many trees. Countless insects and reptiles, nocturnal birds and small animals concealed their breath and looked down on Sousuke crouching in the dim light. Many unemotional eyes. It was no different from the sensor of the AS, the functioning eye that gathered exterior information, silently staring at the back of Sousuke. Like some cold fate reaching unto him. 
“....10!” 
The private army of the Chief surrounded Nami. It was not a number someone could take out in an instant. 
However- 
“...9!” 
If it’s that Kurama, he’s serious. It’s not just some bluff. Besides-why? What a bad premonition. 
“...8!” 
What now. It was the first time for these feelings. Actually- actually- he felt like something bad would happen. Something he could not recover from. 
“...7!” 
7 more seconds. Only 7 more seconds. 
If he moved out of this thicket now, what would happen? Would he forcibly shoot to kill? Kurama was not a forgiving man. 
“...6!” 
One second felt like one minute, next it felt like one day, before long it was a week, and then became a month. 
If he went out, Nami might not be saved. He was originally a human who had nothing to do with this. But, there was no mistake that he would be killed. With the way things had unfolded up to this point, Kurama had every reason to do so. 
He had been passing through a suitable amount of bloodshed. Nevertheless he had survived somehow. Suddenly he was stuck in this place. 
“...5!” 
There was no reason for Nami to die here. A blameless girl who had nothing to do with the battle of Mithril and Amalgam was going to die in a place like that. But, he couldn’t think about dying there. What would happen if he died? Who would save Kaname? Who would make sure that Leonard and the rest of Amalgam paid for their sins? 
“....4!” 
Dying there, that conclusion was not permitted. Do what you can, bring all that you have- technical skill, experience, 
physical strength, knowledge, everything- use that to strike the world, take back Chidori Kaname from those people. After that, die in a blaze. 
That’s why, you cannot die here. 
That was the same for Nami. Her hometown was destroyed- to be able to go back to her peaceful school Nami was fighting hard with her Savage. If he tried a little harder, Nami would have made her dream so much closer to reality. For her, she could not accept that everything ended there. 
Between him and the girl, which one was Kurama coercing? In either case the battle couldn’t be changed. In either case the countdown could not be reversed. 
In contrast to his hesitation, Sousuke, from some time ago, was groping for that third choice. A way to end up with him and Nami both not being dead. A bright way of doing it. Thinking up every possibility, he was scrutinizing at high speed. 
“....3!” 
Can’t. Can’t go out. 
Is there no other way? At the very least, he had three more seconds to think. Kurama’s countdown had a possibility of being just a bluff. If he hid until the last minute, that guy might think “he’s not here after all, it was a misunderstanding”, and might pass up the chance to kill Nami. No, that’s wasn’t it. If he declared he will shoot then he will surely shoot. He wouldn’t think of changing his mind in front of the people surrounding him. 
What would be the best course? Is there no way? There must be some other--- 
“....2!” 
He can’t. He has to go out. 
He would have extended the 2 second delay. There was no way to escape from the dilemma of buying time. That’s right, must go out- 
“No, I’ve changed my mood” 
Kurama didn’t call for “1”. He thrust Nami casually, aimed at her back and mercilessly fired. 
Most probably with a 45 caliber from the sound of the gunshots. 
He continued with 3 more shots. 
All hit. Nami’s small body trembled bit by bit at the shots. Inside the searchlights, red liquids were splashed. From what could be seen, it was obvious Kurama didn’t miss the vitals. 
Nami’s facial expression couldn’t be seen. 
She wasn’t even staggering. The girl was just like a puppet controlled by a string, falling in place. 
“.....!” 
No sound escaped him. A lifetime of soldier training and being accustomed to it was the only way he managed to stay still and quite. It was an automatic reaction, like being unable to make a disadvantageous tactical move should anything happen.  
Why? 
Why did he shoot? 
Why didn’t you even say “1”? 
I planned on showing up. Like you wished, I planned to come out from here. Even then, this shouldn’t be happening. Don’t your rules even have standards? 
His body burned with an overwhelming fury that tried his self control and his determination. Those two emotions conflicted and Sousuke’s body was like a small explosion. 
“I can feel it! Your anger!” 
The Chief and the private were dumbfounded by the sudden events. Standing in the midst of the corrupt policemen armed with carbine guns, hands raised slowly, Kurama called. 
“Good killing instinct! You’re close by after all. The killing intent intended for me is brimming in every corner of this dense thicket. You understand right? That’s right, isn’t this the life? The atmosphere is trembling, Sagara Sousuke!” 
How dare you. 
Automatic pistol in hand, from the shadow of the leafy cover he headed without a sound towards Kurama. The distance was roughly around 100 meters. There was barbed wire in the way. 
Shall he kill that guy now? 
It was useless. 
It would be better if he had a rifle, but he had a short pistol. It won’t hit a target at 100 meters. A pistol was such a weapon. Even if he hit, he still wouldn’t know if the wounds from a 9 millimeter would be fatal at this distance. Moreover, Kurama purposely wore a black coat in the middle of such a sweltering climate; it was like the same bulletproof vest from a previous confrontation. 
There was no significance in shooting. He wouldn’t be killed. 
And then the enemy would react from the gunshot there, sending a number of soldiers. If they knew his position and direction even Sousuke couldn’t run from that number of people. He could probably only take about ten people with him, and then it would be over. That was why Sousuke did not move during the countdown. 
“Do you want to kill me!?” 
Kurama raised his voice again. 
“Why don’t you come here right away? No need to hesitate. Do want you want. If you’re going to demonstrate your splendid self control, that would be fine. Why don’t you get affection from the no good bystanders in this good for nothing country your whole life. Just...let me tell you this. If you leave me alone, I will give this treatment to that important woman of yours!” 
It’s no other, it was about Chidori Kaname. Kurama knew that. 
“That’s right, I know her whereabouts! Coming out from here and there, I’m getting irritated from your interruptions. I’m going back to that place, I feel like I want to FUCK that woman. Leonard- that affectionate boy, in place of that worthless Gauron! I’m going to force it like this pathetic girl over here! How about it, Sagara Sousuke!?” 
All of it was provocation. He knew that. 
Kurama was not a normal hoodlum. He was a refined cold hearted professional. All of this was is his tactic to end the tranquility, nothing more than that. This was to expand the search perimeter and discover the surroundings. 
However- 
Shooting Nami and referencing Kaname made the inside of Sousuke’s heart shake. 
Kurama sounded a sigh through his nose. 
“....well, he’s not coming out huh. Then just watch. I’m a harsh man, remember that.” 
Aiming at the motionless Nami stretched down on the damp ground, Kurama sot a bullet. 
“....!” 
It was already unendurable. 
At the same time that Sousuke, who has lost discretion, stood up, there was shooting in the other direction from where he was at, attacking Kurama. And there were a number of them. 
Gunshots sounded from Assault Rifles and Sub Machine guns. There were 8 men in the thicket, no, there were more than that. 
A number of policemen surrounding Kurama fell down from the bullets of the raid; also a few searchlights were sniped. In the vicinity of the gate, wrapped in darkness, the enemy shouted, screamed, and fired in a haphazard way. A grenade flew from somewhere, aimed at the parked patrol car, causing a flashy explosion. 
Where were they from? 
No, this was not the time to think that. Anyhow, take advantage of this opportunity. Take down Kurama immediately. 
Sousuke flew out from the thicket, running past the slowly developing broadleaf tree. 
Before the fence, the private army of the Chief with carbine guns in hand was present. Trembling from the sudden raid, they looked in the wrong direction. At just under 5 meters, the enemy noticed him. 
“Wha...” 
There was no chance to retaliate. Sousuke steadily aimed. 
Without stopping, he did not hesitate to shoot. 
Just one shot. It was an accurate headshot. There was no excuse at this distance. Inserting the Glock in the back of his belt, he took up the carbine gun and magazine. Confirming that the first bullet had entered the chamber, he changed the selector from Full auto to Semi auto. 
The gate’s surrounding was now a melting pot of confusion. Gunfire and bellows were mixed with cloud of dust from the 
impacts. The black flames from the burning patrol car and the dim light visibility got worse. 
Sousuke swiftly shot two enemies ahead of him. 
One who was desperate, not knowing where the attack was coming from, and the other who saw Sousuke for an instant and then died. Passing beside the two dead bodies rolling on the ground, Sousuke noticed something. The first one that was killed was the man who had hit him in the police station’s interrogation room. His name was unknown. And wouldn’t be know from now on. 
Finding a handy shelter in the shade of the obliquely slant Patrol Car full of bullets, Sousuke investigated again the surrounding situation. 
It seemed that the attackers had complete dominance. Not only because it was a surprise attack. The attackers, compared to the corrupt policemen, won in terms of training and tactics. In front of the opened space at the gate where Kurama and the others were standing, they were steadily prepared and established a “Killing Zone”. It was from the unit in a semi-circle formation. Then they concentrated their attack in that area and in a short amount of time had obliterated the enemy forces into smithereens. A standard raid and ambush. 
He couldn’t be careless. Still not knowing whether the attacking forces were allies or enemies, if Sousuke were to enter the plaza where Kurama went to earlier, there was no mistake that he would become a target without mercy. 
How sarcastic. 
Thus, in the flurry of gunfire in the middle of the danger zone, he became composed. He watched the surrounding 360 degrees, the power and movement of each force, and read accurately the positional relationship and tactics. The violent emotions from earlier were no longer present. 
And then- Sousuke himself was surprised. Since coming out from the thicket until coming there he had not been thinking of Nami. Bearing a fatal wound, she was left behind in the middle of war with flurry of bullets. 
He couldn’t see Kurama from there. 
They had turned the place where he had been into a place of massacre. As long as he was alive, Kurama could have gone inside the gate and escaped through a rough tunnel drilled into the mountain. It was possible- 
Sousuke could hear the roar of an engine and tire screeching. Kurama could be getting away in the rough tunnel, possibly- 
In front of his eyes, over the thick black smoke, one patrol car started to run. Narrowly, he saw the back of the head of a large built man in the driver seat. In the passenger seat was the Chief. 
Sousuke smacked his lips. Kurama was aiming for the tunnel, running away in the opposite direction. He had found an operational car and was escaping this dangerous area with full force. 
Shifting his body, Sousuke quickly put the bonnet on top of his carbine gun and changed the selector. He aimed at Kurama’s patrol car and fiercely fired on full auto. He pushed on to the jumping gun barrel, pulling the trigger without mercy. 
The enemy car was splashed with sparks and the glass of the rear window broke. Even then the patrol car did not stop, but continued to accelerate. 
The bullets were consumed just like that. The figure of the patrol car’s rear got smaller. 
The shrubs in the highway were obstacles. Difficult to aim around. The car look like it was the size of a fist, no, now it looked more like the size of a thumb. Removing the magazine in his 
pocket, he reloaded. And then shot all the bullets. Rifle bullets were spit out of the muzzle, relentlessly piling into the patrol car. But even then the target was too far. 
He reloaded the last magazine. The car continued to drive, becoming the size of a grain, heading for the hill- 
“Dammit...!” 
It was already useless. Sousuke moaned softly, fingers still on the trigger; he finally ordered it to “stop”. 
The patrol car that Kurama and the chief rode could no longer be reached. 
He stood by helplessly. 
Feeling resentment at himself for letting the enemy escape, with the shadow of the car hidden, Sousuke thought of his next move. Should he escape, or should he remain? 
In the field of vision of a hesitant Sousuke, there came a shadow. It was not one of the Chief’s men. It even had a different uniform. Sousuke aimed the gun suddenly and the opponent faced him with his palms up. 
“Stop, Sousuke!” he said. 
It was Michael Lemon who was supposed to be in a dirty jail cell in Namsak. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
The battle ended shortly thereafter. 
A number of patrol cars continued to burn and there was still black smoke spewing in the area. All of the private army of the Chief were either dead or had run away. There was no one still moving in the slaughter area. 
The attackers could be seen confirming their spoils of war in the forest. They were searching with caution, carefully covering the grounds. 
In the black uniform, there was a tactical vest full of pockets. If necessary a bullet proof plate could also be inserted. It also had a balaclava cap, and Passive infra-red vision goggles. No, rather than goggles, they were more like large sunglasses. 
Even with the abundance of equipments their movements were swift. They had the characteristics of a well trained military organization. 
Their guns were dangling randomly at their shoulders, their posture was straight, and they had a unique way of walking. The smallest unit was a two man team. They guarded each direction, without negligence, proceeding with organic cooperation. Watching over the ally’s back and striking the companion’s shoulder. Even when confirming the dead bodies of the enemy on the ground, they did not approach casually. Especially when both hands of the corpse could not be seen. 
“What’s the meaning of this?” Sousuke inquired. 
“Leave it for later,” Lemon said with a melancholic voice. 
That’s right. 
Walking to the completely controlled plaza in front of the gate, they immediately saw Nami. 
Black blood spread over the unfinished pavement. 
In there the she sunk. 
He had seen this scene a number of times, but Sousuke felt like an invisible reaper was gripping on his heart. 
He felt goose bumps all over his body. 
The girl was not moving. 
She was no longer emitting an anguished voice. 
She lay there, without tears, even without blinking. No words remained that could be said. 
Of course. 
The bullets were shot by Kurama. Her vitals- heart and lung, also the big injuries to the large arteries- had been hit with deadly accuracy. If the supply of blood to the brain was cut off, consciousness would be lost in a matter of seconds; then you would lose the functions of the body forever. The head was a hollow point wasn’t it? With the impact of a large diameter bullet, she would have lost her consciousness instantly. At least, that was what he wished for. 
He couldn’t think of any compensation. 
Everything was decided at that instant. 
In that one second. 
The one second that Sousuke hesitated. 
“How could this be?” Lemon murmured with a trembling voice. 
“How could this be?” Lemon repeated, kneeling beside her, letting out a pharyngeal weep. He put his gun on top of the mud and embraced the girl who had lost her strength, shaking her shoulders. Before long the trembling spread to his arms, head and feet; his whole body shivered. 
Sousuke could not let out a sound. 
He simply stood there exhausted; turning around simple words in his brain and staring vacantly. 
Dead. 
Nami. 
Got involved. 
One more second. 
Why didn’t I go out? 
Why didn’t I hurry? 
Got involved. 
Even though she did nothing wrong. 
I let her die. 
Nami. 
School. 
One more second. 
What would others do? 
I got her involved. 
Choices. 
Brought upon myself. 
Unforgivable. 
Nami. 
I got her involved. 
I let her die. 
Just like Lemon, if would be good if his whole body could tremble and cry. At most, if only he could let the 35 kilo weight of the gun in his hand fall to the ground. 
What would be an appropriate reaction for a time like this- no, what would be the natural reaction to come out? He knew the symbolism, but he didn’t know the true feelings. 
Ash of the maintenance crew appeared from somewhere and started crying and swearing at him. 
“You’re not human. Why didn’t you help her? Did you only use her? This good girl. You are the scum of the humans. Say something. Don’t you feel anything?” 
Even then Sousuke was completely expressionless, standing exhausted in that place. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
In an operational car filled with bullet holes Kurama headed to the south on a bending and warped road. 
South- towards the town area of Namsak. 
Both headlights were broken and the roads at night were not illuminated, but he didn’t mind and let the car fly. Because the cracked windshield was distorting his field of vision, he carelessly hit it with his fist to break it. 
The fragments flew into the passenger seat and the Chief let out a groan. 
“Exactly what happened?” 
Unable to hide his bewilderment, the Chief raises his voice. With so much wind blowing in the car, and with the muffler lost, his voice did not reach. 
“My private army- my private army was annihilated! It was the associates of that Sagara right!?” 
“You’re a little mistaken.” 
On the right shoulder, taking out the metal plate from his bullet proof coat, Kurama said, “If he had more colleagues, then he would have been trying to buy time cleverly. The response was also slow, there was no cooperation.” 
“Then who are they?” 
“I still don’t know. They’re also not the remains of Mithril.” 
“I can’t believe it. Wasn’t it a trap from the start? I was manipulated by your mistaken information, something like that-” 
Excited, Kurama grabbed violently at the collar of the Chief who was accusing him. 
“...uh?” 
“You don’t even have a guarantee” Kurama told him in a deathly voice. “Well, we didn’t talk elaborately on that. Whoever those people were, or how they were connected to Sagara, we will 
find that out soon. It’s not a problem. The problem of what happened there is just simple. It’s really simple. After all-” 
As Kurama increasingly tightened his grip on his throat and neck, the Chief let out a muffled scream. 
“Uh...h..hard to breath” 
“-after all. The policemen that were following you were an amateur group. Inferior to a watch dog. Allowing the enemy to get that close…” 
“I’m, I’m sorry, Monsieur. But....” 
“Listen carefully. I’m pissed. I can’t stomach that brat in front of my eyes, even the destruction of the M9 was not fun. Even shooting the woman. When it comes to the perverted bastards you guys are, getting aroused from something like that, a civilized person like me is different. I’m annoyed.” 
“But then- I don’t know. Why did you have to shoot that girl? That, wasteful method-” 
“That was enough. If that would piss him off. I’m different from an idiot villain from a cheap looking police drama. If I say ‘kill’ I will firmly kill. And I had no sense of duty to seriously adhere to the ten count. That’s right, life is short. That’s that I wanted that guy to know.” 
“...but” 
“That guy will definitely chase after me. He will be tightening up to kill me.  And he purposely worked hard to look for me.” 
“......” 
“Are you going to run? They already made preparations for when you return to the city. If you stay with me, will they come. Then we’ll smash them when they come. I will need your cooperation. Do you understand?” 
The Chief, who was not able to let a sound out, could only nod. 
Somewhat slacking the fingers, Kurama let the Chief go. The Chief coughed a little, glaring at him. He was no longer able to hide his hatred. 
“Monsieur. This treatment is going too far-! I contributed to the organization, managing Namsak. And then, like this-” 
 
 
“Sorry. Your high pitched voice was getting on my nerves. And then-” 
After saying that Kurama searched his coat pocket and opened the cigarette case he took out. In the case was a clean carrot stick cut into quadrilateral pieces. 
One stick being preserved, he held it in his mouth like a cigarette. 
“-speaking to a man who stopped smoking, it would be better to be careful. Because, as you can imagine, he is very irritated.” 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
How did he chase him from here? He surely didn’t know. 
Kurama would get far away from Namsak; he might run into a place where Sousuke couldn’t reach. But if he were late in the pursuit, for even one second, the possibility would be enlarged exponentially. 
In order for Sousuke to chase Kurama with the car, the remaining car in the area was not enough. Since this was the outskirts of Munamera, the road towards Namsak would continue like a snake having a stomach ache. It wouldn’t be far for a straight line but, if you take the actual road, the distance would be three times more. 
Another effective means came to mind, but he would need to make use of an emergency repair to the badly damaged Savage. If he was in the AS he wouldn’t need to take the road. Disregarding the bending and warped road, he could immediately cross the steep terrain. Even considering the amount of time for repair, it was still an effective plan. 
Without even time to explain to each other their identities, Sousuke brought the plan to Lemon, and Lemon approved. 
Sousuke returned with the Savage that he had left in the forest, and quickly brought the unit to the front gate. Lemon and the others had already made the preparations and proceeded with the emergency repair of the unit. Ash from the maintenance crew, who was still there, did not help. 
The damaged hydraulic system was patched with a forced taping, taking the unknown oil from inside the tunnel, they poured it in the similar diesel to the fuel tank. If this were another AS, it would not have worked. 
They also found only one weapon. It was brought in from the tunnel. It had the appearance of a new kind of HEAT Hammer. That only would be very good. 
But the savage had been damaged by the battle with the M9, and it was not possible to get it back to the best condition. After changing the parts they could it was still in urgent need of a whole new fuselage. 
Lemon and the others gave a surprisingly loud cry. 
“Can it move with just only that?” 
“For a little,” Sousuke replied with a dark voice.  
If it were in a different circumstance, the Savage by all means was tough, this was his opinion. No, it wasn’t just his. Even the girl who was the owner of this unit would explain with pride that it was this unit’s strength. 
But she was not here anymore. 
She wasn’t. 
The emergency repairs were finished. 
Sousuke, with little words, ascended the military unit and got in the cockpit. 
He started up the electronic system and used the remaining standby energy to restart the engine. He checked the hydraulics and drive system and tested the optical sensor. Firearms control is... 
“Sousuke!” 
The noise was from the suspicious communication system; it was Lemon’s voice that came out. 
“What?” 
“Let me tell you this. I’m definitely a guy from an intelligence agency. But by meeting you and Nami by chance, it was unexpectedly fun.” 
“Right.” 
Kneeling on the side of the girl, Lemon’s whole body was shivering. Sousuke knew that, at least, was not an act. 
Then, what about himself, who had stood there silently? 
“Beyond that...you’re a soldier of Mithril?” 
“Former Mithril. Right now I’m not.” 
He continued to operate the unit. He closed the cockpit block. Lock. He glared at the hydraulics and connected the drive system. 
“All of you are DGSE agents. You colleagues are similar to the 29 SA. Isn’t that right?” 
DGSE. French Foreign Security Directorate. 29 SA was the 29th Mobile Bureau. The DGSE was known for their special forces. They were also on the streets of Namsak finding anything related to Amalgam, and attempting to infiltrate them. 
“I’m surprised. You knew that much.” 
“It’s a guess. And then, whatever.” 
Sousuke felt desperation inside. 
He had heard that Ash and the others were ordered by the Chief to be killed. Lemon and the others had saved them. This was unexpected to Sousuke, it was a mistake. The Chief and Kurama 
targeting Sousuke was natural, and he could stop it, but he did not think that it would make it to a point that Ash and the others would end up being targeted. 
He was not able to see the big picture of the enemy. Sousuke’s naïve perspective had resulted in this pain. If Lemon had not intervened, not only Nami but Ash would also be dead. 
If he was alone, he thought he could deal with protecting the safety of his co-workers. In other words, he got caught up in trying to catch up with Amalgam and became impatient. 
Even with the unbearable regret in his heart, Sousuke couldn’t stop. It was like some supreme motive, not just a strong will that pushed him. Right now he was not even thinking about the name of the girl he was searching for. He couldn’t even remember that smile. 
But, he didn’t know what else to do. 
If he stopped there, he felt that he would disappear without knowing anything at all. 
He had to go after Kurama. 
He had to capture him, torture him, and take information. 
What did he expect to hear? What would be useful now? Sousuke was not thinking of anything. 
The connection was complete. Carefully raising the output of the engine, he slowly stood the unit up. This would probably be the last time the white Savage that Nami loved as the “Crossbow” would stand up like this. 
“I’m going,” Sousuke murmured with a dim fire of sadness and gloom embracing his heart. 
 


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