the battle is to the strong
Is this tragedy or our fate?
It was impossible. There was no way… And yet she closed her maroon orbs, her body going limp and the baby was crying again, as if sensing something wrong with her mother.
Time seemed to stop.
All around him the other holders–Hunter, Gandhi, Newton–were scrambling to revive her, or else to defend against the endless wave of mindless drones that continued to pour forth. But to him, they didn’t matter, not anymore.
‘H-Hey…why won’t you open your eyes?’ Numb, nothing to feel or think now, not even his soon-to-be fatal wounds or the exhaustion that he’d been running on since nearly half an hour ago–
–they were all meaningless now.
“Oy! Jack, listen t’me mate, yeh’ve gotta snap outta it! I know it looks bloody terrible, but it’s gonna get even worse if we cannae get her back! Ye hear me? There’s still a chance we can save her, but not here! Jack!!” Hands grabbed his shoulders and shook him out of his reverie, Hunter’s expression looking grimmer than ever, but not defeated. “Listen, dinnae you give up–either ’f ye. We can evac her back to the base, an’ then–”
“Hunter! The helicopter…it can’t land~su! They’re saying it’s too risky to land with that anti-air Object crawling around…the zone’s too hot!” Galileo breaking in, the poor girl sounding on the verge of tears but still doing her job, her duty.
As it was his.
“Fuckin’ fuck, I really dinnae need this right now…” As if the situation wasn’t already SNAFU; all their fighters were injured one way or another, one was dying, not to mention a pre-mature newborn who was now being swaddled and held protectively by the anatomist himself. “Shite, cannae ye do anything about it?!”
“…They just need those bloody anti-air tentacles destroyed, right?” Climbing to his feet, nearly stumbling from the blood loss had it not been for Gandhi’s shoulder–
“–yur not really thinking of goin’ back out there, mate?” And now the anatomist truly looked scared, all determination having vanished and being replaced with a deep-seated fear. “Jack–Adam, th’ state yur in…you’ll die! Shite, I dinnae know how you’re still conscious–but ye cannae do this! Your body…it’s already beyond its limit…”
“That…no longer matters; all I care about now is gettin’ the two of them back alive…” He was dizzy and nauseated, the pain was beyond intense at this point but he had to–because whatever chance there could be that she would live…he had to take it.
“You’re not going alone, Adam; Newton and I will come with.” The two support members standing behind him, camaraderie and solidarity at its best…if only their last member could join them. Behind them, Hunter was sputtering with shock, then simply shook his head as if to say ‘godspeed’.
“That’s right, or did you forget, Sio-chan’s important to us, too?” The blonde, probably the least injured out of the three of them, stomped the ground slightly, as if offended that he could be so selfish.
“Heh…thanks, you guys… But, the plan I’ve got…it can only be me. Th’ two of you, I want to stay behind and make sure Sio and everyone else gets evacuated back.” They didn’t move, only stubbornly standing there, as if challenging him. Gripping his AU ball tightly, it glowed even brighter than it usually did, a sudden primal killing instinct reflected in his emerald orbs. “That’s an order.”
“Even with the three of you, the chances of taking the anti-air unit out fast enough won’t be possible! Jack, please, we’re going to send–”
He cut off the Commander’s voice, tired of being told this and that, tired of having to act like he was just another soldier. “I already said, we don’t bloody have time for it!! Just…please, trust me, it’ll work.”
“‘That’ mode…” Already the blades were forming but this time, it was taking two separate forms–a sword and a claw, as bladed feathers were being spun out of liquid steel before they reformed and pieced together into two enormous razor-edged wings–
“Nightingale mode…? No, this is something else–wait a minute, you aren’t–!” Even Gandhi was confused, because this wasn’t like his normal mode-change; no, there was something darker, more sinister about this form–
“–he’s activating both modes at once, simultaneously~su! Jack the Ripper and Florence Nightingale…!”
Years of research and intense documentation had resulted in fairly well-detailed reports on the mode-change capabilities possessed by certain e-gene holders, such as Jack and Geronimo. Further theorizing on Vidocq’s part had come to the conclusion that it may even be possible to activate both at once, though at a great cost to the holder, of course.
“Adam, stop! Yer crazy–the strain, it’ll be too much fer ye to handle!” Already he had to kneel, the stress of forcing the wings into a more aerodynamic shape causing him to cough up a mouthful of blood. “Yer killin’ yerself! Adam!!”
“It doesn’t matter! Galileo, what’s the maximum amount of time I’ll get?” Choking back another bloody cough, he climbed to his feet, the pressure of maintaining such complex AU weapons causing his heart to work overtime, his pulse pounding madly in his ear as he struggled for breath.
“A-at this rate, no more than 3, maybe 4 minutes~su! Your heart won’t be able to handle any more than that…”
He cracked a bloody grin. “Three minutes eh? That’ll be…hah…plenty…” Without another word, he spread those bladed wings and took off with more speed than he’d ever possessed.
“Galileo, keep an eye on his vitals; we can’t afford to lose another holder.” Back at base, the Commander had long since resigned to his pure bull-headed stubbornness; even after getting married and having a child didn’t seem to dull his penchant for impulsive actions, if at all.
“Y-Yes, Commander! Heart rate at 120bpm and climbing, RR at 25rpm–climbing, blood pressure is 110 mm Hg–ah, it’s falling~su!”
For all intents and purposes, he should be dead–or at least, in a state of severe shock. But then again, it was like Sio had said when they first met–
“–but you’re no ordinary human, are you?”
He had turned himself off to everything but the goal in front him, and it was currently staring back at him with five eyes and six legs too many. The horde didn’t even have time to react to his sudden landing before they were massacred in a whirlwind of blades, a shrill cry from the anti-air class in charge of the assault–
“–take that, you fuckin’ monsters!” Not one, but dual-wielding weapons: a monstrous claw and a jagged sword that tore and sliced apart the skittering legs like a hot knife through butter. It was as if he was reacting purely on automatic killing instinct–dodge left, strike with the right, parry, then shields up at the explosion–
“–Hrrk–!” A sudden tightening in his chest and he crashed into the dirt, barely able to breathe as he vomited on reflex, heaving up a pool of blood that splattered into the ground. “Urg–f-fuck, not now…”
“Jack!! You’re pushing yourself too hard–stop~su!” Galileo, not even disguising the tears in her voice, wincing at each painful wheeze. “Your cardiovascular system…i-if you don’t disengage–it’s already failing…!”
“Hnn–don’t care, no time–how long?” Stabs of pain were radiating from his chest, each rapid-fire heartbeat sending a painful throb through his veins and yet he was getting closer, to that monstrous anti-air Object whose tentacles were lashing out at the helicopter that was doing its best to get closer. If he could just simply disable those tentacles…
“I-I, I don’t think you should–”
“JUST TELL ME!!” He roared into the mic and there was a squeak of terror on the other end, just as his blade severed an eye-stalk–there was a great shriek from the beast as it noticed him at last, turning its attention away from the chopper. Good.
“Heek! One–n-no, just thirty s-seconds, maximum~su, but–!”
Shit; that was less time than he’d originally calculated, but as long as he could still swing that sword… A moment too late as he only just noticed a spiked tip, too caught up in his mental calculations as he barely dodged in time, but not before it ripped through his side, right along his old scar.
“Aaagghh!! Gah, bloody hell…!” The pain was intense, his body instinctively recalling the first time he’d obtained that wound as he groaned, clutching his side as crimson seeped through his fingers. Fuck, he knew this wasn’t going to be easy…but there was no way he was going to give up. There was no more room for error now; another careless move and he’d really be done for, failing to save either of them.
The 'Voice of God’…if you really exist… The elaborate insignia bore itself in his right eye as he scanned the Object, before pinpointing the second joints, a sliver of flesh between the plates. Gotcha.
A flash of movement as the creature barreled a tentacle at him but it was easily dodged–and then forming one of the razor-sharp feathers into a shard-like dagger that was fired at the squirming tip, effectively pinning it in place. Too late did the Object realize the trap, futilely thrashing about as he dove underneath and sheared upwards in one clean motion, severing the limb.
“Heh, one down, just one to–hrrnng–” The familiar taste of bitter copper flooded his mouth and he had to land, spitting it out as he panted hard for oxygen. Stabbing his sword into the dirt to prevent himself from falling over, the only thing Adam could do was bear the pain, to hope that he could still push himself just a little more, even as it felt like his heart was going to burst from the strain. “Ugh–no, no, j-just one…more…”
“Adam! Please, you must disengage your AU weapon now! The feedback damage is killing you!”
“Pulse at 140bpm now!”
“Blood pressure is weakening…he’s lost too much blood!”
“Commander, any more and the damage will be irreversible–”
Gods, they were all so noisy…without another second’s hesitation, he reached up and switched off his earpiece. “Sorry guys, but you’re distracting me…”
“Now, where were we…” A sadistic grin on his face, the killing instinct he was giving off so primal, that even the monster with one tentacle left hesitated to charge now, almost as if afraid for its own life. “Ooh, scared now, are we? Well, maybe yeh should’ve considered that…before you tried to kill my wife and child!” Faster, he had to move faster than he’d ever thought possible, to weave through that hail of explosive scales faster than the eye could track, parry with the back of his sword and retaliate with his own wings–
It couldn’t have been more obvious if someone had painted a bright-red bullseye on it, that weak point which would disable the remaining obstacle. The claw lacerated the tendons, while the sword pierced the center; a roar so loud it nearly shook him from the air, before it fell, like some monstrous tree being felled at last.
“Here’s a hint, hah, t’ take back to your–hah–kind: Don’t. Fuck. With. Me.”
And finally, at last, his body gave out; not even having the strength to land somewhat gracefully as his AU weapon faded into that of a ball again, unable to even move as his entire body radiated with an agonizing pain. In the distance, there was the whirring of helicopter blades and he felt a wave of relief, because he had done it now, they would be safe…
She would be saved…
“Tch…t-told you I’d do it…S-Sio…” Everything was so heavy, and he was pretty sure he’d earned a nap after all that. Hell, he could’ve slept anywhere at this point, even with two voices getting closer, shouting his name…
“Adam! Adam! Goddamnit, you better not be dead, or I swear I’ll stomp your corpse more than six feet under!”
“Give me the syringe Newton, and we can talk about stomping later–”
A pinprick in his neck, though barely noticeable now compared to every other open wound all over his body, and then it was getting very, very dark and quiet…