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  1. For Blood "Through the darkest night, And the deepest hell, Past the raging winds, And kingdoms that fell: We stayed unbroken. We came as a flood, We left as wildfire. Why? All was for blood." --Recovered text from ancient Malahic Cult. “Suppressive fire! Vortex Three, I need two stand-off payloads. Eidolon, highlight the targets.” I ran out into the dark night, signalling the four soldiers that came with me to get our three diplomats to Vortex Two—the diplomats were of no use here. They nodded and took the surprised women and man to relative safety. “Vortex Two, where are my payloads?!” I shouted as an armoured hovercraft smashed through the make-shift barricade. Locking on the target, I fired a timed explosive into the offending vehicle just as its doors opened for the soldiers to get out. “Get out while you can. We’ll hold them off.” Aditi said, firing a short range homing missile at a jet that came into sight from the east. I nodded and told my brothers to pull back. Two missiles raced from the west, lighting up the sky with brilliant yellow light as they hit home. “Better late than never! Good job, Two.” We retreated to where Meera was impatiently hovering. If the Nightelves had hooters, she would be blasting them non-stop by now. “Hostiles are a quarter mile away. Should I engage?” The pilot of Vortex Three asked. I strapped myself into the co-pilot’s seat and stared down at the failing defence of the Resistance. “Provide support, Meera. Two, get to safety. Three, watch our backs. We’re going in.” We dived into the chaos of flames, smoke and angry screams. As explosion upon explosion rocked the ground, we answered. Fire for fire, rays for rays, death for death and terror for terror. Meera banked the craft hard and my eyes caught Aditi on the ground. Bloodied and bruised, her rifle lay a few feet from her and hostile troops were closing in. “Eidolon, the hatch!” I commanded, even as I unstrapped myself and rushed to the exit. As I jumped out, Eidolon followed me, shooting sporadically in all directions that enemies were. As I approached the ground, he grabbed me for a moment, dropping me hard to the ground. “What was that for?!” I asked, firing at the approaching soldiers. “Don’t expect me to come saving you like that again. I’m not your servant.” I didn’t have time to pick another fight, so I turned towards Aditi. Her eyes were open. “You are stupid.” She said, rebuking me in much the same tone as my mother would have. I shrugged and gently hoisted her onto my shoulder as Eidolon told me she suffered from no internal bleeding. “Meera, I need you to—“ I stared in horror as Vortex One came crashing down behind enemy lines. “Meera!” Jenz’s weak voice came online. “Get yourself out of here, Hisashi…” I left Aditi in the care of Petrovsky and turned back to look at Vortex One. The soldiers were cautiously approaching it, ready to fire at any movement. “Meera? Answer if you copy!” Her voice was slow and confused. “Whaa….?” I sighed in relief and reloaded my firearm. “Vortex Two, go Winchester.” As death rained on our enemies from above, Eidolon and I battled our way to Vortex One. Twice, I was blown off my feet by projectiles that Eidolon barely managed to intercept. For all our effort and the stalwart determination of the Resistance, we were unable to break through to the downed craft. A soldier picked up Meera from the wrecked craft and pointed his gun at her head. “No…No… Please don’t!” I screamed as I blindly ran toward him. “Hisashi, get back now!” It was stupid of me to run out of cover, but I didn’t care. Meera was the closest to family I had, if she died, I would follow in seconds. He paused for a few seconds as if considering whether or not to take her life. As our eyes met, I stopped and waited for him to drop her. In that moment of time, a message was passed. With a pull of his trigger, the soldier sent her to the afterlife and I blacked out. The first thing I remember my sane self doing was putting a laser ray through his forehead. That was the last thing I could clearly remember. I was berserk and flinging death like I had a Death Note with pages to spare. Eidolon was shouting something in my ear. I didn’t care. It was irrelevant. There were only two ways this was going to end. Either they killed me, or I killed them all. Nothing else mattered. They had killed someone of my blood. I growled, snapping a soldier’s neck backward. “For you, Meera. For Blood.”
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