Battle of Haibi Chapter 22
Previous: Battle of Haibi Chapter 21: Siege Command
Chapter 22: Dooshiyoomonai (どっしやっみない, Hopeless)
Shinzoo arrives and joins the throng of citizens taking shelter in Defense Tower Four, the designated second phase evacuation point for the South District. Once inside, he advances through the crowd gingerly.
"Take them to the seed room on your left," he hears Ruby's voice.
"And make sure you open the box before you leave them," says the voice of Tori.
A new voice then says, "Once you're done that, get as many people who will listen, and lead them to the Well of Flight."
"Well of Flight?" he gasps.
In the crowded conditions, several people hear him, and start discussing it. Most think he's probably lost his marbles.
"You have thirty minutes," the new voice warns.
"Hey, boss," Roku says calmly, "I need to change barrels again, can you cover Six and One for about twenty seconds?"
<It'll be tight, Roku-san,> Kabocha responds, <Start your change, right about ... now!>
Roku fires her last burst and then depresses the turret.
Samurai, outside the turret, turns towards the smoking mount and watches the weapon fall out. Pondering how he's going to single handedly shoehorn the seventy-kilogram plasma conducting barrel into position, he spots another Defender emerging from the pod elevator with another such barrel. Samurai waves him over. The Defender, (could be a woman), limps over to the back of the turret after dragging his barrel and high energy action out of the pod.
The turret pops open, and Roku, indistinguishable in her armor, emerges. "Samurai-san, do you need my help?"
"No," he says, "I got someone."
This someone extends his left hand to Roku and hands her a small grey box.
Roku gasps, then nods with gratitude. She returns to her turret and picks up the spare high energy action, putting the grey box in its proper place. "Kabocha, I need release codes for Mode B. Somebody just handed me a bunch."
<Which turret?> Kabocha asks.
Roku has no idea.
With only his left arm available, the new helper provides a steady support for Samurai to push the fresh barrel into the turret's front. He can hear the action run into battery on the inside. He then grabs Samurai's right hand with his left. The Defender is apparently unable to lift his right arm. He puts Samurai's hand on his own shoulder and Samurai figures it out, activating his radio.
"It's Kioko," he winces, "Turret two-seven-zero ... Roku-san, I gave you eighteen Mode B rounds, I hope you can use them."
The turret suddenly comes back to life, the barrel swinging around. Samurai and Kioko must hit the deck to get out of Roku's way. She starts firing blue bursts over their heads to the north as Samurai gets his hand back onto Kioko's back. Kioko visibly recoils as he does this, but grabs his hand to keep Samurai from pulling it away. Samurai reactivates his radio.
"I don't have much longer," Kioko explains, "My turret got blown off the wall with me still in it, much like Yuki. Broke my right arm, sprained my ankle, and my wings ... one of them is bleeding bad."
Green fireballs fly from Roku's weapon, intent on dropping batwings from the sky.
"This can't be good," Roku realizes as she sees the big paws of a Guardian clawing at the narrow breach in the wall. The beast emerges and begins to open a portal. Roku shoots her before she can fire the powerful plasma cannon. "Penetration at zero-two-zero," she radios.
The deceased attacker's body is dragged out of the break before it even burns up. Another Guardian jumps through. With no portal open, it is invulnerable. Roku first shoots her three seekers, and those of the one behind, then fires her last Mode B missile.
The Guardian flies as she's hit, bouncing off the wall. Without a portal open, she can merely get back up and shake it off. She blindly advances into the city, blundering through the stone bakery. Roku thinks the two Guardians bumbling around without being able to see is comical, but she can't laugh aobut it.. She's reminded of her own near-blindness as her red-only mask oculars begin another spectral pass at the bottom, where the civilians of the North District running every which way show up best, along with the wounded and killed who can't.
"Kioko," Samurai urges, "I still need your help."
His voice crackles softly over the radio, "Sayo ... na-"
Samurai shakes him, "Kioko!!"
<Hey, boss,> Kabocha says, <We have four chicken turd Guardians through the wall in Sector One, blinded and blundering along on some sort of inertial navigation. Any way we can persuade them to open their portals? Roku-san?>
<Wait for them to fire that new plasma cannon,> Roku answers, <They're probably headed for Central Tower.>
<They're headed for the aqueduct, they'll leave Central Tower alone completely,> Kabocha says with conviction, < I've noticed the pattern with the Batwings and Chompers already. They know Central Tower is of no importance.>
Samurai stands at the edge of the roof and says, "I'll see what I can do," then jumps.
Roku gasps, "Boss ... somebody, I need help changing barrels. This one's almost done." Roku watches her action temperature go into redline while the crow selects another target. No shortage now as Hellknights pour through not only the first breach, but another one to the west. The weapon quits working. "Kabocha, I'm overheated!" she cries.
< I'm ... hit,> he answers weakly.
Roku watches as the batwings fly over unimpeded. She suddenly realizes that hers is ... was the last operational turret in all of Haibi. She throws open the door to the back of the turret, grabs the unarmored crow and chucks him out, barely in time before the fireballs start hitting the roof. Enclosed in the turret, Roku closes her eyes against the red glare, feeling herself tumble inside the the turret, protected by her personal armor.
Samurai lands at the eastern breach, skillfully avoiding getting hit in the air, draws his glowing sword and starts slashing Hellknights and Mancubi almost effortlessly. He kills about twenty before they get scared enough of him to avoid the breach. Unfortunately, the North Gate and the western breach can't be blocked.
"Sector Four mortars, bring it down on that Southern District," he orders. "The aqueduct is their target, slow those Guardians down."
<Yes, sir,> comes the reply.
"Kabocha, and Defense Tower Four," he sighs, "Please give my apologies to the refugees whose homes I ordered destroyed in the defense of Haibi."
<Defense Tower Four has collapsed,> he replies, <Those homes don't belong to anyone now.>
Samurai kills several more Hellknights before he can reply, "Kabocha-san, do what you can."
< I'm signing off,> comes the weak reply, < I'm sorry, but ... I can't move my legs, and I can't see ... got more than half as many as Roku...>
"Roku-san, can you hear me?" he cries desperately. "Roku-san?"
There is no reply.
Next: Battle of Haibi Chapter 23: Survivors