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As the elevator door opened, I could hear gunfire once again. I was under the hospital now, heading out into the garage. Although I had some anger toward Jacques, the supplies were far more important. I’d never forgive myself if they had managed to grab the supplies needed for the anti-cancer drugs and I wasn’t able to protect my mother. Ultimately, I had to always remember why I was here.

The gunless Destroyer began to move out from the elevator, and I hid behind it. I had the Stealthco activated, but there was no saying how effective it was. The garage was dark, filled with shadows, but I could see daylight breaking in through the exit. It looked like I had been unconscious for some time, at least six hours. That was probably enough time for them to strip the hospital bare. After all, the hospital would have already been stripped clean, and the supplies unlocked by security only accounted for a hand full of drawers and closets.

I tightened my grip on Katarina’s smart gun and continued forward while peaking carefully from behind the Destroyer. I saw the other two Destroyers. They seemed to be at a standstill fighting a force that had taken cover behind concrete slabs and broken-down vehicles. The destroyers weren’t doing good. They had taken a beating. One looked like its eyes had been damaged, and the other seemed to only be able to shoot from one gun.

I could see at the entrance to the garage some kind of vehicle was parked in it and it was being loaded with boxes of goods. There were about ten corpses on the ground, and another six people remaining. A man poked his head out of the side of the vehicle. It was the syndicate boss from before.

“Let’s move it! Move it! I want all the supplies, not some of the supplies. Anything missed will be taken out of your monthly allotment!”

“Sir! We’re pinned down! We can’t get the rest of it on the hover.”

“Shit! Another destroyer is coming!”

“Fools!” The man cursed and then reentered the vehicle, a moment later he came out with a long cylinder tube.

I recognized it, although I had never seen one before myself. It was some kind of rocket launcher. He lifted the tube and aimed it at the sightless Destroyer and fired. A missile shot out and I fell back in shock. It struck the destroyer and exploded. Dust and flame erupted everywhere. A wave of heat struck me, blocked partially by my defensive Destroyer. I couldn’t stop myself from coughing as my visibility became nothing.

I knew the destroyer protecting me had no offensive abilities. Once it took out the other Destroyer, I had no cover. They would quickly realize it was a feint. I had no time to waste. With a breath, I pulled out Veronica and began running alongside the cars, running around the battlefield and taking the syndicate behind their barricades from the side. I heard my Geiger counter peek, saying there was some radioactivity in the area, but I ignored it and kept moving.

I reached the other side of the battlefield just as the dust was starting to clear. The remaining six were still crouched, but the syndicate boss started yelling.

“Idiots! Move now.”

The men started to run out, grabbing more boxes and loading them, but after only thirty seconds, the gunfire renewed, and two men ended up dying before the rest could dive back in cover.

“Idiots!” He dived back into the hover.

At that moment, I swung the smart rifle over my back and moved up quickly with the handgun in both hands. Remembering everything that Jacques and Katarina had taught me, I walked along the path. I was just a strange blur, like a moving heatwave on black asphalt. I walked only two feet away from a cowering man, pointed my gun at his head, and shot twice. Then, I continued without checking if he lived or died.

I moved at a run, closing the distance between the next guy. With the Destroyer shooting, he couldn’t tell which bullets were coming from which side. I shot him as well, two more bullets. I moved along the line. When the fourth body fell, I dropped the gun and swung the smart rifle back into my grip. By this time, the last two men started to realize something was up. One guy shot wildly in my direction, but without being able to see me, he missed. I shot back, and it took three shots before I hit him. I really wasn’t that good of an aim. My hit on Punk could have been considered luck.

“I surrender!” The second guy threw his gun down.

I shot him and then spun to the vehicle called a hover. There were two people left. One of them was the pilot of the hover, who had been watching this with his mouth open. The second was the boss, who had only just managed to get a second missile loaded into his launcher. As he turned from the vehicle, he only saw a blurry form coming from him. All of his men were dead, and the destroyer I had ordered to put its gun on the pilot.

“Drop it!” I cursed. “Drop it now!”

{Stealthco depleted.}

I cursed my luck as my five minutes ended at just that moment. I supposed I should consider it lucky. Had it ended thirty seconds prior, I might have been shot. The syndicate leader tossed the rocket launcher back into the vehicle and then held up his hands. When he saw me, a small smile formed on his lips.

“Daniel… you don’t want to do this.” He spoke in a calm voice.

“Why not?” I demanded, moving even closer, leaving the garage and entering the ramp that led to the street.

I wasn’t confident I could shoot him from a distance. I couldn’t leave it to chance.

“The syndicate is a powerful enemy.” He responded. “You kill me… you steal the supplies, you’ll make a very dangerous enemy.”

“You stole those supplies first.” I snapped. “You forced this on me.”

“Daniel… we can still work together. This is just business. You don’t want to die, do you?”

I felt enraged by those words. I had heard those words three times now, and I was starting to hate them.

“You should be worrying about yourself!” I snapped.

“Oh… Daniel…” He shook his head. “I always do.”

He brought out his hand from behind his back, branding a single fire pistol. I had fallen for the same trick twice! This time, I had even kept a distance so he couldn’t reach me, but I still ended up being outsmarted. He aimed and fired before I could even react. A bullet struck me in the forehead. There was an electric humming sound.

{Personal shield depleted.}

I clicked the setting on the smart gun.

“Burst mode.” the female voice announced.

A surprised expression appeared on the syndicate leaders face. “W-wait… shi-“

I pulled the trigger. The was a boom, and the upper part of his body was turned into a fine mist of red. The head and shoulders were completely gone. His lower body slumped to the ground a moment later. I let out a stuttered breath. That had been close. I didn’t even know if the shield was working. Jacques had shot me earlier, but he shot me in my armor. The personal shield must only trigger if the attack struck skin. I turned to the pilot and raised my gun.

“Now… get ou-“

Boom! A sledgehammer struck my chest and I collapsed to the ground. I could barely breathe, and my sight was dizzy. However, I was looking up now, and I saw a vehicle in the air. It resembled the one on the ground. They looked like a helicopter mixed with a drone. They were a large box with a door. Someone could even stand in it. Then there was the cockpit and four helicopter rings.

“Go!” A gas canister erupted behind me, blocking the vision of the destroyer.

The helicopter on the ground took off. The Destroyer started firing, but it missed the guy and only hit the side of the copter causing a few dents as it rose into the air. I looked at the man who had shot the canister in the second helicopter. He was sitting on the edge with a gun in his hand, surveying the whole scene.

“Jacques!” I let out a shout, but it came at hoarse and weak.

It was enough to catch his attention, and he turned to look at me, a smile on his face. “Oh, hello, Daniel! Saving their supplies, the Syndicate will pay us well for this. Oui?”

“You bastard! I’ll kill you!” I struggled to get to my feet but found the blow I took far harder to recover from than I thought.

The best I could do was get on my hands and knees, glaring up at him.

“My, my… don’t hold a grudge. Nothing I’ve done is that bad.”

“You… shot Katarina!” I yelled.

“And you killed Punk. Doesn’t that make us even?” He asked innocently.

Punk had tried to kill me. It wasn’t the same thing at all.

“Remember, Daniel… Snipe is a good shot. He could have aimed for the head. Instead, he just broke that silly armor of yours.”

“Then why didn’t you kill me!” I demanded, knowing it was a stupid question but unable to temper my anger.

He shrugged. “I have nothing against you, Daniel. Rather, I have a recent opening in Perry. I require a guy with a Perco.”

“You have to be fucking with me!” I yelled.

“Punk was named Punk cause he was a little pissant. Thought way too highly of his skills, and wasn’t much of a team player. You, on the other hand, I see great potential in you. Just saying, the option is available. I can keep you off the syndicates radar, we can make a lot of money, and you can have whatever it is you want from this wasteland.”

I stopped for just a moment. I didn’t want to consider his words, but didn’t he teach me how to shoot? And didn’t I feel safe working in his team? A Perco 7000 was much more valuable than a Perco 3000. I wouldn’t be disposable like Punk. Most importantly, I could get my medication, and probably return home today.

Using the last bit of my strength, I let out a scream and lifted the smart gun, pointing it at the hover.

“Impact Mode.”

I pulled the trigger.

{Insufficient ammunition. An Impact shot required ten bullets to activate.}

I stared in stunned silence. Meanwhile, Jacques laughed quietly.

“Goodbye, Daniel. Next time we meet, we might even be allies. I doubt it though, the Syndicate’s pockets are deep.” He stood up and then hit the outer hull of the hover twice.

It rose and began to follow the other, which was limping along, seemingly having taken several hits from the Destroyer-class security bots. The hovers didn’t get any higher than the buildings. It might be because that was as high as they could get.

I collapsed to the ground, unable to move again for some time.

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