Oyama tucked up against the planter as incoming fire shredded the cherry blossoms overhead. He barely heard the panicked orders of his group’s commander over the com-link as high velocity rounds impacted the barrier in front of him, rapidly chipping away at the concrete.
He glanced back from his fire-team to Oshoku and saw the worried expression on the old man’s face. “This isn’t right,” came the locked-frequency burst from his friend’s com channel. “We’re contacting AI units. This is supposed to be a lightly held CA sector”
“Your point?” barked a flustered Oyama, as an armour piercing round bounced off of his pauldron.
“This is a setup. Black file deployment orders, bad intel, and now we’re in the middle of a heavy blue-on-blue. We need to source our dep. orders before…”
“You work on that after I get us out of here!” Oyama’s transmission had already pinged out by the time Oshoku noticed the veteran vault his cover, and charge headlong into machinegun fire.
For the first time in his life, Oshoku wasn’t certain that there would be an “after” to act upon.
Hoping to go first in the deadly game of Tic-Tac-Toe, Aleph set up an aggressive picket. Ajax and the Mark IV Posthuman prepared to rush the right flank objectives while the Zayin Rebot covered the center consoles from the window of a low building. A Thorakitai, Sophotect, Lamedh Rebot, and Achilles held the left flank. Two thermo-optically camouflaged operatives, a Dasyu and Mark II proxy, deployed near center line objectives.
The JSA tried to anticipate the rush from Achilles and Ajax and deployed the Keisotsu link on a roof overlooking Ajax’s likely approach on the right flank. The Kempei lurked nearby to help rush the closest consoles. The Raiden HRL camouflaged himself behind an ancient Tori archway, hoping to keep Achilles’ head down if the monster approached. The Lu Duan and holoechoes were likewise deployed in the hopes of blunting the hoplite’s rampage. Neko Oyama and the Domaru shotgunner were placed out of sight behind a low planter, ready for a counter attack into the left flank. The Shikami was held back from the right flank where his mobility would prove useful in accessing consoles in the cluttered alleyway. Shinobu Kitsune concealed herself in the left-middle of the board, ready to intercept any hard targets that may come her way.
The Dasyu revealed himself in midfield and quickly captured the left-center objective, while the Mark II proxy mirrored his actions on the right flank.
Ajax rushed forwards on the right flank, and engaged the Keisotsu link team. The missile launcher couldn’t find his range, and was quickly felled by the giant’s gunfire. The Keisotsu FO was able to land several shots on Ajax, wounding him heavily.
Achilles broke into a run, and targeted the Lu-Duans with his spitfire. Fortunately, he guessed wrong and only gunned down both holoechoes. Now deprived of targets, Achilles was forced to inch deeper into the midfield for his next shot at the remote, and that’s when the trap was sprung.
The Lu-Duan and Raiden both opened fire on the hoplite at the same time that Shinobu Kitsune leapt at him with her monofilament blade: an impossible situation for the greek. Achilles easily gunned down the assassin, the Raiden, the Lu-Duan, and even managed to wound Neko Oyama over the next few orders as shot after shot either missed their mark, or pinged off of his armour. Achilles had fought his way out of the ambush easily, and now held a suppressing stance just outside of the JSA DZ. Things were looking grim.
The Keisotsu link managed to drop Ajax with weight of fire, and the Shikami failed three attempts to activate the right-flank antennae. Sensing the need for action, Oyama and his Domaru partner broke cover and rushed Achilles. The Domaru was felled by suppressing fire, but Oyama was able to valiantly clear the distance in a blindingly fast assault and severely wound the Greek construct with his blade. Unfortunatley for Neko, the Dasyu was able to perforate him as he advanced on Achilles. Even in his badly wounded state, Achilles readily dispatched the veteran warrior, granting him his “good death.”
Achilles pressed his attack, gunning down Yuriko Oda from across the JSA deployment. He then swung back further into the DZ and gutted a lone Keisotsu who was guarding the JSA extraction point. The Dasyu captured the middle console, thereby completing the “three in a row.” The Mark II proxy attempted to ambush the Kempetei and Shikami, but was quickly repelled by an “over the shoulder” shotgun blast. She retreated to cover, reeling from the old man’s quick response.
In desperation, the Shikami vaulted a wall into the alleyway behind the Mark II. The post human spun as the combi rifle rounds struck her in the back, but it was too late for her to escape the crossfire between the Keisotsu link, and her demon faced attacker. The Shikami then re-programmed the right-center console, deactivating the Aleph “three in a row.”
Achilles wasn’t done. He circled back to midfield, gunning down the Kempetei and the Shikami. The Dasyu then activated the JSA-center console to re-establish the Aleph uplink. The game ended with the remaining Keisotsu scattering. There was no hope of withdrawal or evac. Their only option being to hide, and hope for a guerrilla campaign at a later date.
Oyama cleared the planter with his blades drawn. He could feel the pulse of battle in his head like the beat of a distant drum as he closed the distance to the heavily armoured titan. Achilles sensed his peril and half stepped backwards, reaching for his kopis with his off-hand. “Too slow,” thought the lightning quick Domaru, as he immediately stepped across Achilles’ draw and sliced at the warrior’s exposed elbow. Neko grinned wolfishly as he pressed the attack and sank his Katana deep into the hoplite’s abdomen. Achilles cringed as the veteran bushi drew close upon him, pressuring his blade further into the wound. Achilles knew he’d been bested, and that knowledge cut more than the blade.
The crack of rounds punching through armour woke Achilles from his moment of panic. He immediately crossed his right elbow down into the Katana, snapping it at the hilt. His left hand retrieved his Kopis and rammed it clean through the chest of the JSA warrior. Oyama’s expression still held a surreal, confident expression as he slumped to the ground, his heart pierced.
Achilles saluted his helper, and the Dasyu melted back into the shadows.
“All units, press the attack. I have the flank controlled. Victory is assured.”