CHAPTER 34 - From Our Mistakes (1)
“How many shots?”
“The mana here is much thicker than back on Earth. It hasn’t even been twelve hours, and I’m back up to 10%.”
Alex nodded as he lifted ALICE to his cheek. Despite running with Quinn and Treya, his aim was steady. He slowly swept the scope across the perimeter of the burning village, where he saw the flare wolves and smoky creatures with swords.
He had made it halfway through the village when he stopped suddenly. His brain kicked into overdrive as he watched on while a person who looked every bit a fantasy version of a MAGES member faced off against three guards. The man wielded his sword with dizzying skill even against the outnumbering opponents.
Seemingly countless scenarios passed through Alex’s mind in the blink of an eye, narrowing down immensely after three more similar people showed up. He watched as the guards died horribly from the magic melting their armor, and he winced.
‘There’s no way, Alex. Intel like that would have been passed on to you.’
ALICE’s voice was inside his head, so the others couldn’t hear what she was saying. He replied similarly as his hands lightly trembled beneath her.
‘You can’t tell me that you aren’t thinking it, too, ALICE. They look just like me!’
‘Sure, except for the fact that they are slaughtering innocent civilians! Snap out of it, Alex!’
She was right, and he knew it. His heart raced as he watched the MAGES-lookalikes talk to one another, noting every fine detail of their uniforms. He wished, not for the first time, that he had magic that could amplify his hearing. A cursory glance showed the Flare Wolves and shadow figures gathering around the group.
“Quinn, move up and cover me. Treya, make yourself scarce and have your bow ready. Take Aundell with you.”
He didn’t wait to see if they would follow his orders as he fell forward into his prone firing position. He pressed a button on ALICE’s underside, and a bipod sprang from beneath the handguard. He made himself as comfortable as he could while sliding his hand over the chamber and down the magazine.
As ALICE’s mana reserve dropped slightly, Alex took a few deep breaths and stabilized his firing platform. He opened his free eye to peek around and saw Quinn a few meters ahead of him. Treya was nowhere to be seen, presumably behind him. Satisfied, he closed the eye not against the scope and focused once more.
Through the glass, information constantly flickered, declaring wind speed and direction, elevation, and other variables that one needed to consider when taking a shot at this distance. To most, it would look like gibberish, but ALICE and he synced up, processing the data as readily as it appeared.
The argument, he assumed it was, seemed to wrap up as the first man sheathed his sword. The woman spoke before the other two started running after a woman and some children. Soot and blood covered the terrified family, and Alex’s heart slowed down immensely. The world seemed to come to a standstill as he peered through the sights at the spectacle. He was no longer alarmed or confused.
Now he was angry.
‘Break the chains, my Fenrir.’
Two wolves joined the assailants. Alex exhaled, holding his breath once his lungs were emptied. He slowly shifted ALICE as his finger tugged the trigger. His thoughts were quiet as he finished ALICE’s statement.
‘Swallow the sun.’
The sound of the rifle discharging vibrated throughout his chest.
Four people who looked a lot like his brothers and sisters in arms gazed across a great distance.
They were staring at him.
He was staring back.