Together In The Dark

Chapter 17

"I need back up here," cried Saya into the radio. "Officer down, repeat officer down!" She and Takano had taken cover behind a grove of trees.

Takano had never really thought about death. He had thought about loss but never death. He now knew why shooters at a gun range would wear headphones to protect their ears when they fired their weapons. The gun fire in the clearing was deafening. Conner Johnson had seemed to have brought enough artillery to take on a small army, which made sense. Johnson was expecting the private military from Shoutaru Incorporated, to be marching into the forest to find Onodera, not just a bunch of cops.

Saya fired a few bullets in return at Johnson. Shuusei still hadn't moved from where he had fallen. Blood was pooling all around him. Takano was afraid to find out if he was actually dead. Hachi had disappeared, Takano assumed he was somewhere near Saya, ready to protect her when the time came.

Suddenly the shooting stopped as Johnson called out, "Give up! You're out gunned. I promise I'll allow you to return to your car, if you just walk away."

"And what about the man you buried," cried Saya. "Or the man you just shot!"

"The deadline for the ransom is up! If they're not dead yet, they soon will be. There's nothing you can do to help! The nearest hospital is a good ways away from here."

Takano watched as Saya made a hand motion while chewing her lip. "Sergeant Homiura, don't please," he hissed.

Saya sighed, closing her eyes, before reopening them and firing her gun at Johnson. Then, they were back to the deafening noise of bullets for several minutes. Takano wondered if he should pitch stones, like a little kid, but he highly doubted that would help. He was entirely useless. Takano looked down at his watch. Ritsu only had 28 minutes and 49 seconds of air left.

Suddenly, the gunfire stopped. A scream followed along with snarling. Takano dared a peak past the tree he was hiding behind and saw Hachi attached to Johnson's arm that was holding the gun. Hachi's teeth were digging in drawing blood as the dog shook his head. Taking her chance at this, Saya charged at Johnson, tackling him to the ground and fighting for the gun.

Takano looked down for a weapon, only to find he still was clutching the rock he had picked up earlier. Takano didn't even think as he ran over to the struggle, and proceeded to club Johnson with everything he had.

The head wound gushed with blood, from where Takano had hit Johnson. Johnson had immediately stopped struggling when the rock collided with his skull. Hachi release his hold on his arm while Saya kicked the gun away before rushing over to Shuusei. Takano sank to the ground as he looked at Conner Johnson's face.

Johnson looked to be in his late 30s, early 40s. His close cropped caramel hair had flecks of gray in it. His face was deeply tanned from spending so much time in the sun, with deep lines in it because of how much he had frowned. Takano closed his eyes as he reached down to the man's neck to feel for a pulse, afraid to find out if he killed this person. Even though he had kidnapped Takano, Takano knew that he himself could never kill someone, that is... until now.

Saya carefully flipped Shuusei over, as Hachi nudged at Shuusei's face. Seeing where the bullet had entered, Saya quickly ripped open Shuusei jacket and button down shirt. Her gazed intensified as she looked. "You are an asshole for making me worry," she hissed. Shuusei had been shot twice. Once, in the right shoulder, where the bullet had gone clean through, resulting in the blood loss and the second time was in the chest, right where the heart is, only the bullet had been stopped by Shuusei's bulletproof vest.

Shuusei groaned as he opened his eyes, "If I had moved to help you, he would have figured out that we're wearing bullet proof vests, and would have started shooting at the head, starting with me because I had no cover. Besides, I can't move my right arm, and I'm having a hard time breathing. I just got fucking hit by a fucking projectile going god knows how many fucking meters per second! Give me a fucking break!"

"Ok yeah, you're in a lot of pain that's why you're swearing so much," Saya sighed as one of the back-up teams arrived with the medics. "We'll get you squared an away, and feeling better, yeah?" One of the medics went over to Shuusei while his partner attended to Johnson. Saya pulled out her radio, "All units, please be advise, the situation is under control. Continue the search. If you find Onodera, alert me immediately." Saya stood up then and walked over to Takano, the medic, and Johnson. She pulled Takano away then to talk to him. "Is he alive?" Takano just continued to gaze at Johnson. "Hey! Takano," Saya called, smacking him in the side of his head.

"What," Takano finally asked.

"I saw you feeling for a pulse. Is he alive?" Takano nodded, before returning his gaze back to the medic and Johnson. The medic was currently feeling Johnson's head and shining a light into Johnson's eyes.

"We… who's dead?" Takano finally looked backed to Saya. Saya looked at him questioning before remembering what Hachi and Shuusei were doing before the shooting.

Saya turned around, "Shuusei, the body… who is it?"

Shuusei looked back at them, "Remember what Damon Wes said? He gave us their names, so I had Luka get me their passport photos. The body belongs to Ethan Smoake, one of the kidnappers. He must have done something to piss Johnson off, so Johnson killed him."

"So Ritsu is still missing! He only has," Takano looked down at his watch. "13 minutes and 26 seconds left!"

"Takano relax. I've got all the other teams are still looking. We'll find him, don't you worry," Saya said gently.

"Sergeant," called the medic working on Johnson. Saya turned around, as did Takano. "We've got to get him out of here and to the hospital. He's bleeding in his skull."

Saya turned and looked at Shuusei, "You good?"

"The wound isn't that bad. I bound it for now so he should be okay for a little while, but I recommend that he goes to the hospital too," the other medic answered.

"Can he last another twenty minutes," Saya asked.

"He can, but I don't recommend it," the medic answered.

"I'll be okay. Let's go. Tell your dog to impress me," Shuusei answered Saya. "I don't need pain killers, I need to stay sharp," he yelled at the medic. The medic removed his hands and backed away. "All right, everyone else listen up. We have a body here, start collecting evidence and call the medical examiner. Let's go people," Shuusei yelled at the back up team as he stood up. One of the officers walked over to the medic working on Johnson, so he could be ready to accompany both of them to the hospital.

Saya ran over to where she had previously dropped Onodera's sweater. "Hachi," she called, "come here boy." She patted Hachi on the head as he smelled the sweater. Saya realized she would have to give him one hell of a treat as a thank you, because it was all because he had looped around the clearing, out of the way of the gunfire, to get to Johnson, that she was standing here.

Hachi barked when he was done smelling the sweater, and perked his ears. He started to circle the clearing before running right back to where Ethan Smoake was buried and started growling and digging into the earth.

"Saya, I'm not impress with your dog, we already know there's a dead body there," Shuusei said as he stood beside her.

"Hachi," Saya called. "Here boy, I need you to smell it again." Hachi returned to Saya again, and started sniffing the sweater once more as Shuusei and Takano, standing nearby, looked on. Hachi again barked and began circling the clearing before running towards Ethan Smoake's body.

"Saya, there has to be something wrong with your dog," Shuusei sighed. "We're just going to have to rely on the other teams."

Saya glared at Shuusei as she shoved the sweater into Hachi's face again. Takano's brow began to furrow as he watched. "Come on Hachi, we've gotta find him," Saya breathed. Hachi, merely cocked his head again, before circling the clearing and running back to Ethan Smoake's body again.

"Sergeant Homiura," Takano called.

"What," hissed Saya annoyed as she put the sweater in Hachi's face once more.

"What's Hachi's signal for finding a dead body again," Takano asked.

"It's growling and either digging into the earth or pawing the ground, depending on where he is," she answered in a huff.

"And what's his signal for finding a missing person," Takano questioned.

"It's just… growling," Saya answered, realization hitting her.

"Hachi, found Ritsu," Takano said. "He just also found a body, on top of where Ritsu is buried."

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