1-06: The Flower and The Eclipse

Completed episodes of the Azalea Company. Coming to a webcomic near you! https://www.su-comic.com
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1-06: The Flower and The Eclipse

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Northern Lorani Province
Piyapon

The Creature is an Ambush Predator

It was surreal. Creature watched as his troops rehearsed their maneuvers. A squadron on the left and right flanks would hide on the road side embankments, then at the signal they would form up and lock shields. Advancing while the ones who had pistols would fire as they marched. The main line would do similar, though concealing them was a harder problem. Especially with the big bear. The good news was the fog was concealing them, the bad news was these troops were slow with their heavy makeshift shields.

The idea of the operation for Team one which was Thaddeus, Mizuki, Valériane and Esaria rested on the concept that their new enemy had little respect for the Viscountess and her forces, and would accept that they would send out a radio call giving away their movements. This would hopefully cause a force to intercept them. However, chances are they'd eventually run into an enemy patrol anyway. Whichever the case, the enemy would eventually show up, though they likely would not hang around the area of the camp. Heavy patrolling would ensure the ambush position was secure for the time being.

Creature was on Onikuma's back and the pair were barking orders and encouragement to Azalea's footmen. Creature was worried about Valériane. She was a good fighter, no doubt. But she needed confidence. However, they didn't have much choice. If they sat still they would just let the enemy have free run. No, they needed to make a statement to the people in this Provence, that the Azalea could stop the other army that had been terrorizing them. The camp was secure, and he had the riflemen pulled back as a reserve. But they needed some speed.

The Hiksha was already several miles ahead, and the driver - Mizuki had clear instructions. Make contact, lure any enemy forces back for the ambush. Take as many captives as possible for interrogation. The Hiksha was a Gartagen vehicle, noted for rugged dependability and durability. But Thaddeus, Lukina, Mizuki, Valériane and Esaria would find the ride was bumpy, and the vehicle creaked as it hit each imperfection in the road. The moist autumn air was chilly and bit into their skin like teeth, but the first step was done. They were the "Wild Rabbit."

Creature, standing on Onikuma's thick armored bear hide looked on. "All this to get a fucking house to bang Hilda in as she pretends it’s against her will." He muttered. Creature slapped the great white's armored hide. "Alright everybody, fucking get to your positions. We are laying our asses down until that stupid fucking truck gets back! When they do wait for the signal."

"Uh! Ser Creature?" A young woman's voice called out. "What is the signal?"

Creature stood up on Onikuma's back, resting his right forearm on his knee and looming over the young soldier. "Oh, that’s easy. I’m gonna yell "HEY EVERYBODY GET THE FUCK UP AND ATTACK! But like. Louder and shit. So, get into position!"

It would be an awkward experience for Valériane to fight in a curve-hugging dress and heels. Her two chakrams and her pistol were strapped to a set of holsters on her legs, while she held her assault rifle in her hands. The dress was quite uncomfortable to fight in, but for the sake of the mission and the fact that she had volunteered to be the "bait", meant that it was necessary.

Valériane leaned on the side of the vehicle, with her pistol sighted as she scanned the passing countryside

Thaddeaus was having the time of his life riding in the center of the Hiksha, manning the top mount machine gun. Granted, the gun was busted to crap and back so was just swinging around making rat a tat tat sounds to make up for it.

"How much longer are you going to do that?" Mizuki asked from the driver seat, shaking her head in amusement. "Just keep an eye out for hostiles. And try to not warn us by getting your head shot off, okay?"

"Roger, got nothing so far." Thad scanned around 180 degrees keeping an eye out for anything that would indicate enemies are near. "And will keep my head down, they got to work to kill this guy." Thad replied back with a smirk.

"So... What exactly is my job again?" Esaria asked, sitting in the middle seat, her new bow clutched tightly in her lap as she looked around the truck. "I don't exactly know how I'm supposed to help here," She said, trying to get someone's attention. She had asked a couple times, but the engine always seemed to drown her out.

"Shoot anything that shoots at us," Mizuki replied, yelling over her shoulder. "And I apologize in advance for the swerves that'll throw your aim off. I promise I'm doing it so we don't get shot up too much."

"Yup, nothing to do with all the drinks from dinner at all. I am sure of it." Thad said with a laugh

The road itself was a paved dirt road that was obviously well traveled and followed the levy system along the river north towards Lucarin City. Which from what the Viscountess said had a significant urban sprawl and population living in it. Traveling on the road however was not an easy thing. Stones and holes marked each second with a loud TICK, or a deep THUMP as the vehicle bucked and adjusted for the obstacles. The Engine hummed, as like most Gartagen vehicles it used a self-regenerating fusion battery system rather than the wasteful and loud diesel engine. Mizuki would find the lightly armored transport vehicle easy to handle, and nothing seemed to make it want to halt.

The thick smoke worked to obscure the scenery. The rolling hills and verdant life bearing forest made the land of the Lorani province seem more fantastical, like that of a colony world on the fringe of Taianese space. Green, and even little birds with bioluminescence fluttered about. Their flapping wings, made it appear that waves of green light were rolling through the air. But they were likely being driven away due to the thickening of the air. Clearly this group of rebels had little regard for the land they were fighting over.

The thick morning air however was soon made thicker by the scent of burning. Soon the light of a fire could be seen growing larger as the team approached. As they got closer, they could see it was a construct of vehicles and rubbish made into a pyre that cut off the road entirely all the way to the levy dyke to their right, and to the heavy wood's a dozen meters to their left. Creature and the Viscountess both pointed out that if there was preparation, then the enemy had indeed been listening to broadcasts in the region, and was reacting accordingly. The plume of black smoke indicated that a chemical fire had been started, and the fumes from the fire were filling the air and would cause eyes and noses to begin to water. As they approached the sensation would get more intense.

Thaddeaus being above everyone else in the Hiksha was getting hit good from the fumes. "Damn," Thad said with a cough. "Is some nasty ass smoke in the air." he added, coughing a few more times.

"Knew I forgot something when we left," Mizuki said, her words mostly drowned out by the noise of the road. "So, any thoughts on what to do, Val?" she asked, looking over at the Helashio.

"Move the truck back from the smoke and dismount. We're gonna utilize the trees as cover for our advance. This looks like a trap." Valériane ordered. "Everyone but Esaria is going to hold their fire. She has a silent weapon, so she can fire on any hostiles that emerge without detection."

"I've barely had time to practice on actual targets with it! Why am I being given the important job!" Esaria whined, covering her face. "What if I miss? Or I use the wrong type of arrow?!"

Valériane placed her hand on Esaria's shoulder and stared deeply into her eyes. "These are not important shots. It doesn't matter if you miss them, but if you happen to snipe a few targets before the actual engagement starts, that will make it easier for the rest of us," Valériane replied in a soft and intimate tone.

"Now!" Valériane said in a more authoritative tone, turning towards Mizuki, "Back us out of the smoke! When it looks clear enough, stop the Hiksha in the middle of the road and dismount."

"Will do, boss," the Kowloonian said, slowing down to turn around, since it didn't seem like a good idea to attract more attention with showy maneuvers.

It was the little elf. With her sharpened senses she heard a rustle in the brush off to her left. Then she'd saw it in the bright green foliage that wasn’t changing with the season- the figure of a man in black combat armor aiming at them. There was a loud SLAP. Then Mizuki felt the vehicle shake. They had been hit by a projectile. Then more, from both sides could be seen in the brush aiming and firing their weapons. The troops with their black armor were using Impaler rifles on the Hiksha. The slapping report of the rifle gave off a brief blue pulse that caused the vehicle to shudder. The Impact left a contusion in the light armor plating of the Hiksha. More hits like this and the vehicle would be little more than smoldering slag, and the team would be forced to continue the fight on foot.

"Everyone dismount now!", Valériane yelled out as the projectiles hit the Hiksha with force. "Out the back, spread out towards the trees and fire at will!" She called out.

"Let me get off the road first," Mizuki yelled, shifting into reverse and putting the pedal to the metal for a burst of acceleration. The Hiksha shook more as it left the beaten path, but they soon came to a stop ten or so feet from the tree line. "Might as well start blasting this as a distraction," she said, turning the speaker system to full blast and hitting the play button.

"SUPER MEGA DEATH EAGLE FUCK YEAH!!" the speakers screeched, playing Dragon Corrupter's most popular single as she bailed out and ran towards the trees, rifle in hand as she looked for targets.

Thad was already returning fire into the bushes as the Hiksha switched into high gear. He started to jam to the music as it came to a hard stop. "Let’s rock and roll girls, they seem eager for a date with our guest of honor." Thad said as he jumped out of the truck.

The soldiers were clearly well organized and trained. They were firing in synchronization, each shot in tandem with the others. An order over the radio could be heard by sharpened elf ears "THEY HAVE DISEMBARKED CLOSE IN!" The deep booming voice of the commander echoed from within the woods. "We need the Viscountess alive, by order of your king!"

"MOUNTED INFANTRY AT THE READY!" The voice bellowed from within the smooth barked trees. As he said this the Infantry line began advancing. One line of them pushed forward, with the other one leveling covering fire at the Hiksha, to lessen their casualties. The armor they wore was a mixture of various types of non-powered armor. Sutakame combat suits, old Taianese suits but all were painted soft black. They began pushing on the now disembarked squad.

So they would hear the thrumming of engines in the woods. The noise was growing louder and faster approaching on their position. Judging by the numbers, a sizable force had been mustered and committed to this. Capturing the Viscountess was clearly a priority for the black armored soldiers.

Esaria wasn't expecting to get ambushed. As she got out of the car, a thought hit her. Weren't they supposed to be running back to the others? She pulled the string on her new bow back, arrow nocked and ready to fly. She could feel the tension bands and inertia amplifiers taking effect making the pull notably harder than her simple wooden bow, losing it on one of the soldiers.

As soon as the Hiksha stopped, Valériane jumped out the side of the vehicle, her feet hitting the ground as she dove into cover behind a nearby tree. She felt a stab of pain in her feet, having hit the ground quite hard in heels and a tight dress. However, the diminutive Huoshio quickly recovered her stance.

Valériane leaned out of cover with her pistol sighted, only exposing her head to the enemy. She quickly found a target that was firing towards the Hiksha. Taking a deep breath to steady her aim, Valériane fired three shots at the figure with her rifle on semi-automatic.

Quickly switching targets, Valériane fired five shots at a black-figure that was advancing on the vehicle and the group.

Thad hit the ground and slid into cover, shots flying by as he did so. "I think we got the attention of whoever this black knight fellow is." Thad shouted out as he put rounds down range at the troops closing in on them.

"No, really?" Mizuki asked, ducking behind a tree and switching mags, before aiming her rifle back and taking a couple of shots at the closing combat suits, the 9mm explosive rounds smacking into the black-painted armor. "Oh, anybody want to call Creature and tell him what's up? And that we're out of the car now?"

There were bursts of supporting fire from above and behind the Hiksha. The point of origin was concealed by the growing shadows of the tree line that seemed to be constantly moving. The only hints were the suppressed bursts of light that stopped as soon as they began as the over watch stayed hidden.

Lukina balanced on the wider branches of the trees, jumping from tree to tree between bursts of fire as she remained obfuscated by her stealthsuit.

The explosive arrow launched out and missed its target. A black armored soldier aimed at the elf, and then the arrow detonated in a cloud of fire and smoke that shimmed the tree it hit, sending splinters out in all directions. The man flew a few meters and smacked into a nearby tree, and so did his arm and leg.

Valériane had more success, as her shot caught one of the men in his visor. The back of his helmet opened and he fell to the ground limply. As he fell two more took up position and fired back at Valériane from the hip. The bursts of fire from the trees that Lukina was delivering caught one of the black armored soldiers mid advance. The round smacking his armor and sending him flying to the ground. He attempted to get up but soon found himself clutching his left leg as some of the burst fire had gotten through and bitten into his flesh

Valériane quickly switched targets towards the two that had emerged from behind her first kill. Without breaking her focus, Valériane lined her sights up over one of the black armored soldiers, and fired four shots at the figure. She was not immediately concerned with being hit, as the targets were firing from the hip and the only part of her body that was exposed to the enemy was her head and a small part of her left shoulder.

After firing her shots, she swung herself back into cover, glancing around her to assess the positions of the remainder of the squad. She quickly pulled out her communicator and called Sir Creature.

"We've been ambushed!" She yelled over the communicator as she sprinted out of cover and fell back to a tree that was behind her previous position.

Thaddeus was secure. A pulse hit the tree splintering it all over him. But his shots rang out slowing the advance of the rear soldiers. The rapid-fire tore into one forcing him down, and his buddies behind him dove behind trees for cover. Mizuki's 9mm HE was fired with a thump, and let out a louder thump as it detonated in the chest of another one. But they kept coming. For each man fallen, more rose up and they were only slowed. They steadily advanced. It was then one of them tossed out a grenade at Thaddeus' position. Valériane would soon see an electric flash, and then a pulse was fire from one of the rifle at her.

Mizuki and the Elf were soon taking alternating fire from multiple positions on their flanks.

"Thad! Fuck," the Kowloonian yelled, angry at the suppressive fire as she broke for another tree, firing to try and throw off her pursuers. "You still up, Thad?"

Thad watched in slow motion as the grenade sailed through the air. He had just enough time to say, "Oh shi-" as he bolted for new cover behind another tree. The grenade kicked up one heck of a lot of dirt and tree some of which showed Thad. After a moment he shook off the blast he yelled back at Mizuki. "Still alive and no new holes." He leaned around the tree and fired at the guy who tossed the grenade. "Fuck you, ya ball lobbing son bitch." He shouted to the enemy.

Esaria took a moment, blinking at what she did, then looking at the bow. "I don't remember selecting..." She said before she realized she was being shot at. The grenade made her shriek, running to the closest tree as she tried to manipulate the selector screen of the bow. "Why didn't I calibrate this thing!" She yelled, trying to figure out the much too complicated piece of tech she was given just a couple days ago.

Lukina watched as the situation rapidly degraded. She loaded an airburst grenade into the grenade launcher that was mounted on her Showstopper and dropped low onto her chosen branch. She lined up her shot between a group of the black armored combatants and launched the grenade. She thought for a moment to warn her allies but figured they were too preoccupied with their retreat and assaulted by the roar of gunfire to hear her.

"Uhhhh cccccchhhhhhsssssss. /i]Over," Creature responded obviously making the static with his own voice. "That was a part of the plans Ktscht, over."

"Fall fucking back! Ktsch! Over."

Valériane saw her shot cut down another soldier. The initial shots only hit him and made him jump back. Then his red blood turning into a mist as the final shot from her assault rifle opened his body armor like it was paper. As Thaddeus relocated the grenade detonated, sending shrapnel in all direction. Valériane relocated and she would hear the sound of brush parting as one of the troopers jumped off of an ATV down at her, sending the butt of his rifle into her face. The vehicle rode off into the woods being stopped by a nearby tree.

The communicator fell to the ground as Valériane quickly ducked under the blow and utilized her vertical deficiencies to take out his legs with the butt of her gun. She followed the strike up with four nearly point-blank shots aimed at his chest.

Lukina could see from her branch, that the soldiers were advancing, but there was a squadron of ATV riding soldiers weaving through the trees and crashing into the bait. The grenade flew out into the rear ranks of the advancing troops and detonated, forcing them to all reflexively drop down to the dirt. Some of them would stir, but the grenade liquefied the insides of four of them. The moistening of their gear could be seen darkening their uniforms.

Mizuki could see from her vantage point this was pretty much an entire platoon. The wood was swarming with these black armored soldiers. Then the rumble of an ATV would disrupt her, and a club came down on her as the Vehicle buzzed around her cover. The man was using what was essentially a plank of wood with a rusty nail driven through it. The little elf had some success fiddling with her bow, and got it to respond to her wishes.

The soldier Thaddeus fired at went back behind the tree, and Thaddeus' rounds chewed the tree up. Then Thaddeus felt it. Heat. Burning. One of those pulse rounds struck his torso as he fired. An ATV flew past him, and a man hopped off armed with a pistol and a metallic club. He advanced yelling as he swung the weapon down on him.

With her success, Esaria scrolled through the arrow options, seeing one that might be useful. Armor Piercing. Far less collateral, which was good. She looked around, taking sight of the man dealing with Val, drawing the bow and taking careful aim this time, feeling the strain in her arms before loosing the arrow.

Mizuki yelped in surprise as the ATV roared towards her, bringing her rifle up to block the swing. Thankfully it kept the nail out of her. Unfortunately, it tore the rifle from her hands and off into the bushes. "Fuck you," she yelled, pulling her BFR as she turned and fired at the driver. She then ducked behind another tree, taking her time to see if she had hit and try to see enemies before they snuck up on her like that. Get out of the Alliance for a few months and you end up like this? She thought. Got to do better.

Thaddeus took a round to the chest. By now his adrenaline was pumping hard so would take more than one hit to put him down. The ATV zoomed past and Thad turned to see a guy with gun and club running his way. Without even thinking he bolted towards him. Hand to hand combat was his thing and would not be bested by this fool, not today. He charged put a shot in center mass of the charging soldier.

Lukina quickly switched trees again before she repeated the process of grenade loading, prone firing position and firing again. She lined out her newest shot for the ATVs. Her ears were ringing despite her hearing protection and her shoulder throbbed from the recoil of her rifle. Moisture trickled down her brow under the shrouded hood of the suit. They need to pull the fuck back. I'm going to run out of grenades at this rate. The buzz of her communicator was static in her ears.

Esaria drew back, and this time taking aim. The Bow creaked as it flexed. Then with a soft THWISH, the arrow was launched. The arrow arced through the air and hit the man in his left side. Right as Valériane's shots tore through him. The arrow was embedded. Then it detonated, the force hitting Valériane just as she started to with draw, and soaking her in his gore. The force sent her back into the tree and she was dazed. Sound was gone and her vision was blurry, but she was still aware.

"What's with all my arrows exploding!" Esaria screamed, stomping her foot before running towards Val. Tried a regular arrow, has it set to explosive. Switch it to armor piercing, and it still explodes! She got to the Huoshio, dropping her bow and patting the bait down frantically. "You aren't hurt? Please tell me you aren't hurt!" She said, trying to figure out what had happened, momentarily realizing that Val was covered in the gore of the man she had just turned into modern art.

Valériane looked up at Esaria, trying to read her lips to interpret her words, doing so unsuccessfully. In the explosion, one of her heels had fallen off her foot. She stared into Esaria's eyes and kicked her other heel off. It was then when she realized that she could not hear anything.

Valériane, internally panicked for a moment, an expression of alarm crossing over her features before she picked up her pistol and stood up, a dazed and stunned expression crossing her features.

The rifle hit the ground and he quickly snapped his club around and smacked the gun Mizuki hit. Her shot went off and the round hit him in the thigh making him growl. He then snapped the club up into her chin to take her off her feet. Mizuki felt it, but she was pushed back and moved into cover. The man limped after her. He was bigger than she was, but not by much, and his speed was nothing special to her, from the fluidity of his movements Mizuki could see he was a Kowloonian.

The shot hit the man breaking his momentum, but his armor turned the round and kept him alive, but it certainly took the gusto out of him, and he paused when the massive Thaddeus rushed at him. He moved defensively to shield himself from the massive man roaring his way. He stepped back, by this point it was too late. Thaddeus would set on him, and there was little this man could do to halt it.
Thad was on the guy like white on rice. He took his blade and swung it hard down and across the front of this guy’s body. Thad was pissed and this guy was going to be his stress doll. The follow through for the slash was to step into him and jab against him to push him off his feet. Being exposed Thad would make quick work to run him through.

The shot from the ATV thundered out of Lukina's rifle, and the recoil surged through her body. But she saw three of the ATV riders fly off their vehicles and tumble into the brush. The vehicle bouncing around and tumbling away into pieces, as the air-burst grenade shook the combat zone. She however was not being shot at, the steathsuit did its intended job but that shot had done something to the tree branch she was standing on. The tree, was half dead on a closer more detailed inspection. It began to pop, then it cracked the massive log toppling to the forest floor below her feet.

The half-elf sniper inwardly cursed as she re-slung her rifle and made the leap to the next tree, grabbing the branch with the deployment of a wrist fired hook and line. She used the line to keep her dumb ass from falling and quickly climbed to the top of the branch, checking its soundness like her grandpa had taught her. She had to be quick and move to a different tree to start her over watch again.

Lukina had lost her 'tween jumping point and had to use her hook and line to zip to the next tree. Once she was certain of the next location, she dropped prone to the branch and readied her next airburst grenade.

Mizuki heard Lukina's tree toppling to the forest floor, but was busy with her own problems. Now that her opponent had made the stupid decision of dismounting, she was more than prepared to bring a gun to a knife fight. She let him take the first swing, then took hold of his weapon arm with her offhand and pulled him down and towards her or more correctly, towards her pistol, which she fired at point blank range into his chest.

Lukina saw that the rest of the ATV troopers were closing in around Valériane. She saw a massive armored soldier weave around the trees and circle around not giving a clear shot. At over eight feet tall, and arms almost like the tree limbs Lukina was using as her perch for this battle, it was clear what his lineage was.

Valériane shot one of the soldiers up, and he slumped over but with her hearing impaired she didn’t hear the Massive man rush up on her. She would feel a sudden force in her stomach and a jolt that went through her body. Electricity. The blow was full force and she would see a massive fist that gripping a stun baton holding it, and pushing into her belly. His free hand grabbed her by the head, and the massive Black armored man lifted her up off of her feet. He turned. "WE HAVE THE VISCOUNTESS! FUCK THE REST LETS GO!" He roared as he held the little Huoshio in his massive mitts. He bounded over taking care to keep in cover, and jumped back on his ATV. He'd smash Valériane's head into the steering column to knock her out, or at least get some chill into her.

The full elf would go to take another shot when one of the soldier's leap out and struck her across the face with his rifle. She'd fall, but he'd catch her by the wrist and start booking it along with his commander. He took little care with the young girl and was dragging her gruffly across the ground and through the brush to the nearest ATV trooper.

Thaddeus took the poor soldier apart. He fought back, blocking and swinging his club, but the enraged Thaddeus was pretty hard to stop considering he had stolen the charge from his would-be attacker. The man was on the ground broken and beaten.

Mizuki underestimated herself and the man bobbed when he should have weaved. The pistol emptied into his face sending his white matter all over her. But the thunderous voice cut through the air, and the troops all began to rapidly with draw. They fell back in all directions, to avoid giving away their regrouping point. Shouts of "Fall Back!" Began ringing out from the team leaders.

Lukina's eyes narrowed behind the hood, the ogre was a prime target but he held her comrade. She estimated that she could lob the grenade behind him and his body might absorb most of the blast. But otherwise, a volley of bursts from the Showstopper might be enough. She chewed on her lower lip. Damn it. She aimed for the path that the ATV was advancing towards, quickly doing the calculations to minimize the shrapnel to the prone Valériane. She picked a tree to explode in their path and launched the airburst grenade. Don't die, Valériane.

Thaddeus was feeling proud of himself when he overheard the shouts of retreat. He looked towards the noise quick enough to notice someone getting thrown onto an ATV. "Fuuuuuuck," Thad shouted knowing damn well someone was getting taken. He looked quickly and the ATV the guy he just killed rode in on was close by. With a hop, skip and a leap he was on it, peeling rubber and dirt giving chase.

The tree was up rooted. The Black armored ogre hit the gas on his oversized ATV and it launched forward, barely making it under the falling tree. Several of his men made it, but the tree managed to crush half a dozen others as it thundered down with a climactic BOOOM!

Thaddeus, would find his direct route was halted by the tree. The Elf girl was now missing, hauled off into the woods with the retreating ground fighters.

The radio clicked on. "Uhhhhh. Where the fuck are y’all?" Creature chimed in on the open band. "What the fuck happened? Ktsch! Over."

"Fuck," Mizuki said, wiping brain from her clothes as the black knights retreated. "Mizuki here," she said over the radio, "They got Val and Esaria."

"Who the fuck is Esaria? What do you mean they fucking got Val? They just walked the fuck away with her? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME! KTSCH! Over."

"She decided to stop instead of driving back because we got hit some," the Kowloonian said, feeling that annoyance and anger that came from being the officer left to hold the bag after the shit hit the fan. "We spread out to try and find a way out, but there were too many of them and they picked her and the elf up with her."

"Fuck you!" Creature said loudly. "GET THE FUCK BACK HERE!" He howled over the radio no longer vocalizing the static himself." The was a pause "Oh my fucking space god." He said the radio still on. "They fucking got Valériane and that elf shit she found. Yeah. I am going to hate fuck Mizuki while her fucking boyfriend jerks it and uses his fucking tears as Lu-" The radio suddenly shut off.

"Yes, sir," Mizuki said, turning down the volume as she looked around and picked up her rifle. This sucks, she thought, heading to the road to see if there was a functioning vehicle left.

Thad zoomed over on the ATV and stopped next to Mizuki. "Fuckin A, bloody night." Thad said out loud. "Orders?" Thad asked her.

"Invent time travel so we can go back and tell ourselves that this was a horrible idea," the Kowloonian muttered, before taking a breath and saying, "Find a vehicle so we can get back to base."

"Oh," she continued, looking in the direction of the tree she had heard fall earlier. "Hey, who's out there?!" she yelled.

Thad looked at Mizuki with a concerned look. This was not going to end well once they got back to base. He noticed she had noticed something and put his gaze in that direction. "You notice something?"

Lukina tried to locate Valériane in the carnage of vehicle parts and trees. Fuck. He got away...
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