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Earth Fragment on the Horizon ch3

Boom! That’s the sound Konomi heard behind her minutes after evacuating the laboratory that served as a temporary home for a short-lived three weeks.

Crowds of people on the street flocked together in large groups to witness the rising fireball a mere five blocks away from where they stood. Konomi couldn’t help but look back as well and be mesmerized by the surreal disaster that destroyed a place where she had just come from. The fiery blaze that rose hundreds of feet in the air perfectly paralleled what a demon rising from hell would look like. A true apocalyptic vision. You didn’t have to look at it to know how severe it was, because one look at her wide-eyed expression was more than enough to tell.

This explosion was caused by none other than The Bringers themselves: the ruthless henchmen belonging to the organization behind the Genesis Project. Blowing up the lab meant they already knew it was empty of anyone, probably with some infrared technology used to scope out the inside. This act alone said so much about them too. Other than not caring if innocent civilians got in harm's way, they also fancied going all out if given the opportunity.

She couldn’t keep her eyes off it but knew she needed to get a move on. First her legs, then torso, and finally her head pulled away and dashed away to pick up from where she left off. The wide street Konomi was on was flooded with people including some small spaceship like vehicles parked on the sidewalk edges, the occasional pothole surrounded with flashing warning signs, speed bumps, and people's limbs to bump into that normally made up a busy city street. Her senses were being shot at with all sorts of noise and images coming head on from different directions and angles and it seemed almost difficult to keep going because of how distracting it became. If anything, she could very well be a contestant on a late night game show running an obstacle course.

She ditched the street and made a sharp right for a flight of stairs that lead her into some kind of weird pachinko-like hall where she tripped over a bucket full to the brim with dozens of casino-like chips.

“What's the big idea!? Knocking over my chips like that!” Complained the owner of the bucket loudly.

“Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing in here! This is no place for brats like you!” Yelled a man dressed in a quirky outfit (most likely the manager) as he thrusted an angry fist in the air.

Konomi looked back at them, terrified, dragging her body across the floor then clumsily getting back on her feet to continue running. “Where’re you going? Hey! I'm not done with you yet! Get back here and pick up this mess!!” His shouting was soon drowned out by the loud noises of the game machines. She ran all the way inside the gambling hall and to her luck there was a wide, doorless exit at the end similar to the opening, and raced out of it amidst a horde of people who looked like they had came out of a rave. The whole time as she ran, passerbies would either slow down to watch her zip through or be taken by surprise as they nearly collided with each other.

Konomi started going into routes with less people. For example, narrower streets between buildings where only a couple bodies could go in at any given time. The good thing about them was that they were more likely to offer less lighting and more places to hide so it was obvious which was a better option.

As she zigzagged aimlessly and turned every corner possible, Konomi was already nearly at her limit and her thin legs were feeling heavy with each stride now. So she decided that the next corner would serve as a check point to rest.

Her feet stomped hard on the ground as she slammed on the breaks to make the turn, pushed her back against the wall, and slid straight to the ground to sit on her bum. Heaving and puffing out air from the escape, her chest expanded and deflated with each breath escaping between her dry lips. With each exhale she felt a rigid harshness brush against the walls of her dried up throat like a chunk of her lifespan were drifting out every time. The air felt bitter and hostile just like this world made of metal and concrete. Somewhere along the way she had lost her slippers and was running barefoot on potentially dangerous surfaces where she could’ve sustained deep cuts. Fortunately for her feet they were only covered with dirt any minor scrapes.

Now settled down, Konomi could finally observe this new place she had been taken into by the very people who were currently chasing her: The Bringers. The world was silent on this side of the city where only a deep jungle of alleys appeared to go on forever in a gloomy hue of blue.

It seemed to be abandoned as well since many of the buildings, houses, or whatever they were lacked any indoor lighting whatsoever, making it look like a ghost town -no-, more like an apocalyptic dumping ground. The only few lighting fixtures were of neon lights fixated over garage looking doors and windows, probably businesses.

In a way that brought an unexpected feeling of familiarity to her perception, Konomi mirrored these decaying back alleys with the ones found in Tokyo, for example, Piss Alley, Memory Lane, the notorious red light district Kabukicho, and the famous Golden Gai packed with tiny pubs, just to name a few. But this was no time to reminisce. Konomi stumbled to get to her feet in order to cover more ground and put a lengthy distance between her and The Bringers.

Then suddenly, distant voices.

“They said the blue haired girl came running over this way.”

A gasp plunged down into Konomi’s throat.

“Alright. We'll survey this area here while units four and seven take the west side. Motion detectors and night vision should be in use. Keep an eye out for a blue haired girl, I repeat, a blue haired girl.”

At the same time the voices spoke so did their proximity get closer to Konomi’s current location. She rapidly inched her way behind a nearby mound of garbage and kept quiet by covering her mouth over with her right hand tightly so not even a peep would get out. The sound of rushed footsteps came closer with each passing second and she could have sworn her heart was about to pop due to the mounting suspense. They passed along the alley where she hid without bothering to inspect thoroughly, which Konomi became severely grateful for.

They headed down the curved path and soon went into a street going in another direction. Now was a good a time as ever to bail out and she was out of there instantly. She took one, two, three, four, even strides until it was time for the fifth one and then…

Splash! Water doused everywhere, or at least it felt that way.

Konomi found herself face flat on the unpaved ground with a stinging sensation holding back her right leg. She groaned in a painful tone as she lay immobile trying to recuperate from the sudden event. Using both arms, she slowly pushed her upper body up and twisted it enough to allow her to look back at what happened. Her foot laid over a small pothole now halfway empty of its original water volume, wet blotches of it scattered randomly everywhere.

“Tch!”

She clicked her tongue fiercely.

Konomi pulled out her leg, knee bleeding, and half walked half jogged out of there.

 

About fifteen minutes or so had passed since Konomi saw herself forced to seek a new hiding place. The environment still hadn’t changed that much since she had decided to stick to back alleys for protection because they provided a wider variety of hiding places according to her judgement. Compared to the main roads, the alleys were almost void of people going on about their business which when she thought about it it seemed strange considering how crowded the place proclaimed.

Be that as it may, her current condition didn’t allow for such luxuries while being pursued. The task at hand remained.

Off into the distance Konomi could hear what sounded like police or ambulance sirens blaring into the night sky with full force. She pondered whether maybe it was a vehicle belonging to The Bringers joining in on the hunt for the female scientist and her, and just as if to shake her noggin for questions she remembered that her name was still a mystery to her. They had lived together for nearly three weeks, gotten to know each other, and formed a bond, and yet only Konomi was the one whose name was tossed around the lab. “Scien-tist…”

Her ability to speak normally again had seen worse days but it was an improvement from three weeks ago. The thought of not knowing even the name of the person who had given her her life back was about the most frustrating and discouraging thing she could experience. She hung her head low in a depressing manner, knowing they may never cross paths again.

That emptiness communicated the same feeling for when a puzzle is near completion but you find out the last minute that just one crucial piece is missing and it belongs right in the puzzle’s center. Truly irritating. She hung her head low in a depressing manner, knowing they may never cross paths again. The only course of action left to take was find somewhere else to survive and hope that no one found out who she really was.

As Konomi was in the middle of turning a corner, she raised her head out of pure chance and her heart almost burst out of her chest at what was at a mere couple dozen feet ahead. A man two and a half times her own height fitted almost entirely from head to toe with black, robotic armor that made him out to look like a cyborg, a long deadly rifle carried in both hands, and… what the hell did she know? She needed to walk back behind the corner she just turned and wait him out until the coast was clear. And that’s exactly what happened. Her body went into autopilot mode and as if in replay was in the same spot she was three seconds ago. Again, for safety precautions, Konomi covered her mouth with one hand tightly and couldn’t help but hear every heartbeat pounding gravely on her eardrums. Fear governed her being all over in the form of a cowering shiver. She had only seen The Bringers once before and that was when she was still in Japan at the time of her abduction, except what remained in her memories of the incident was but a blur. The way the man was attired -and that gun nonetheless- knocked on the front door of her common sense saying, “This guy means trouble”.

Five seconds, ten seconds, then fifteen seconds going on twenty passed and she still hadn't made a move. Konomi was scared frozen and on the verge of letting fear get the best of her. But after coming this far evading groups of men in high tech gear with war weapons there was no way she could let that happen no matter what the odds were. So in order to take that next step she had to start somewhere.

Leaning acutely to the left, she peered over the corner’s edge enough to barely catch a glimpse of what lay on the other side. And like magic, he was gone. Out of there. The spot where he stood keeping guard was completely empty of him.

But how?

The guy didn't even emit a sound when he left. Not even fading footfalls or the clanking of his equipment brushing against itself.

Could he have had a jetpack or something to let him fly out?

Questions such as these bombarded Konomi’s brain to no end after finding out the man had left. Her fear turned into perplexion which then turned into relief. Her brows loosened up dramatically and slanted backward to a more comfortable position, letting out one of the most relieving sighs of her life.

Now that that was finally over with she was thankful to whatever invisible force out there for helping her go undetected. If things were going this smoothly that meant The Bringers’ deadly reputation wasn't as bad as they said. With that said and done, Konomi set foot outside the alley, stealthily tiptoeing out into a more open area, until she was yanked back with a force so incredible a breath of air was involuntarily pushed out of her lungs. Suddenly, she felt large, bulky extremities wrapping around her stomach and neck.

“Ba-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha… I guess today's my lucky day now am I right? Who ever thought I was gonna be the lucky one to catch you all by myself hmmm? Ain't nothin’ in the world like showin’em who’s boss. Aha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

The owner of this arrogant voice grazed these words at Konomi’s right cheek as he boasted of his accomplishments. At the same time, Konomi nearly experienced a second heart attack in a row and now found herself at death's door. From the corner of her right eye she saw the one holding her was none other than the same guy in armor who had disappeared moments earlier.

He was maybe in his mid forties, robust facial features and rugged five o'clock shadow. The man spat particles as he spoke only millimeters from her face. Whether he was aware of it or not wasn't her biggest problem right now, rather trying to break free from his suffocating grip, though in comparison Konomi was powerless against it.

“Where were you this whole time, huh darling? My buddies and I have been looking for you like crazy for the past three or so weeks, thinking you were out there somewhere enjoying a quiet, peaceful life like you’re not supposed to. And then, a little bird gave us some very useful intel that could lead us to your whereabouts and it turns out they were right. He-he-he-he… guess this putrid hell-hole of a city isn’t that big after all I see.” His whispering sent a cold chill rampaging down her spine and to every nerve in her body that practically drowned her in despair, then rubbed her cheek using the barrel of his handgun in a belittling manner.

He continued mouthing off.

“You were there with the doc, weren’tcha? She let you stay in her little lab this whole time according to our reports. How’s she doing? Still young and gorgeous I bet, that doctor Lilia. He-he-he-he. Rumor has it she’s still living the single life I hear. I was thinking… after we capture her, maybe I’ll find a way to bribe the disciplinary committee to have her on house arrest at my place…after all, I know a guy with some pretty juicy connections up in the corporate ladder. How’s that sound eh? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

In a laughter mixed with wheezing, the Bringer did nothing but make Konomi feel like she was covered in extreme filth. The vulgar way in which he whispered and laughed painted a new picture of what exactly this world was made of. During his pompous laugh session, Konomi somehow managed to slip under the man’s grip (probably loosened up unintentionally) and without thinking twice, sprinted with all the strength she could muster across the street towards a small plaza. The destination was a small garbage shoot she scoped out while he babbled on and on in nonsense. “This is it!” she thought in her head. A new chance had opened a door for her and she wasn’t about to let it slip away.

But in an instant found herself face-planted on the ground again after something had collided hard with her knee she had injured when she fell into the pothole earlier.

“Nngh!” A dull grunt flew through her teeth as she toppled over face down, stopping Konomi dead in her tracks.

“Uha-ha-ha-ha… where d’ya think you’re going little darling? Were not done talkin’ yet. I take my eyes off you for one second and you’re already runnin’ away from me like I’m some kinda weirdo or somethin’. You left me no choice but to kick you, and I don’t like to hit girls you see.”

Konomi pushed herself up with all her might but immediately was taken down again with a solid boot to her backside. “Nngaaaaah!”

Just then… she felt as if a hot pulsating sensation had shocked her body, her veins and arteries. It quickly disappeared unlike the pain sustained from getting stepped on by a grown man. He went around encircling her until he got in front and squatted down to meet her eyes. The Bringer flashed a cocky smile at Konomi while she stared back with anger growling. “Hey there now, I didn't know you had such beautiful eyes darlin’. What color are they hmmm? Turquoise I'd say. Like the ocean waves shimmering in all their splendor from the sun’s warm rays on a beautiful picturesque day. AHa-ha-ha-ha, quite the romantic poet aren't I? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.” He grabbed a hold of Konomi by her neck and pulled her up a half dozen inches of the ground

Reacting to the pain, she automatically grabbed onto his hand while he lifter her up. Then, she heard a third party’s voice right next to them but no one else was there. To her surprise however, it came from the man's wrist: an integrated communication device on his armor.

“Captain, we still haven't found any leads in regards to the target. How is it on your side? Over.” With his free right hand he touched somewhere on his left forearm where the voice was coming from and spoke back.

“All units, this is captain Marlow speaking. Keep searchin’ the area for another half hour. We'll rendezvous in east Lockheart after that. Still nothing on my end either. Over.”

Two seconds of silence passed.

“Copy that. Search will continue for another thirty minutes.”

He obviously lied. Konomi, aka their target, was in his grasp the whole time during the exchange. This guy was clearly up to something different.

“Well… as you've noticed just now… I lied through my stinkin’ teeth.”

Konomi was baffled herself, though struggling to stay on her tiptoes so as to not dangle freely, but wondering why he’d lie in the first place. The Bringer did another few clicks on his arm and then pulled away looking satisfied for some reason she couldn’t think of. Whatever it was though, she didn’t like the cynical sneer that came to his face after that.

“Don’t get me wrong darlin’, I’m not siding with you or anything like that. I turned off my communications channel and the locator here so they can leave us alone for a while before I turn you in. Now then… allow me these next thirty minutes to satisfy my thirst for torture.”

His handle around her neck tightened in the blink of an eye, transforming ten year old Konomi’s face into one of pure agony. Eyes out at their fullest and mouth gagging. The Bringer laughed as he added strength to his choking and even more at how much Konomi was suffering because of it. She perilously tried everything and anything she could come up with in order to make him let go. Pounding on his arms, kicking wildly, squirming side to side. All attempts resulting in wasted effort. This was supposed to be torture which didn’t involve killing, yet the way things looked for her suggested otherwise since everything in sight started to take on a darker, cloudier tone. In other words, she was well on to losing consciousness.

Konomi kept on fighting back by striking at his forearms however. Even she knew this wouldn’t render any results in the end, she already knew the outcome of her destiny well before she was caught. Nothing she did now was going to turn the tide in her favor. Nothing.

“Ba-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! What’s the matter darlin’? We’re just gettin’ started and you’re already lookin’ blue. Plus, you’re not hittin’ me as fast anymore. I’m just too strong for my own good he-he-he-he.

He was right. Konomi was losing the will to fight now that any possibility to escape became narrower than the space between two sheets of paper. All four limbs ceased to move one by one and dangled freely in mid air, her head went back and the next thing she saw was a beautiful starry sky endless and eternal like death itself where she was headed shortly. The ten year old girl from Shizuoka prefecture Japan knew she had fought to the very last second without turning away. No regrets existed in her tiny heart except for the fact that she’d wished to thank her father for saving her life and telling her mother how much she loved her before being captured by The Bringers.  And maybe thanking the female scientist again whose name had remained a mystery until now. “Ghaa… hrn...angh…” were the only sounds she could produce at this point with her airways blocked. Everything seemed like a lie again. Like a bad dream she needed to wake up from and forget about the second she was called downstairs for breakfast.

Live… want, to… live…….

Her heart pumped blood slower now as the words stated by Lilia, the female scientist, came back to ring aloud in her ears before they fled the lab compound.

I didn’t put in nine hours of my life pulling a bullet out of your spine and repairing it so you could tell me you’re not gonna put my efforts to use. What would your father say if he saw you this very minute, this very second not taking any action to save your skin after he sacrificed his own life to give you a second chance at one? You’re throwing away his efforts like you are mine…

“Life.” She uttered this in her own voice, dry.

The Bringer didn’t hear as he was in his own world taking in the extreme pleasure of torturing for fun. He was laughing and talking to himself.

Lilia’s words boomeranged again inside Konomi. Let this be a lesson learned and ingrain it deep into your soul so you can take it and use it as a weapon against those who tell you “No”. Prove them wrong about your kind being weak and show them the newer and stronger you. And when you’re done with them thank them for becoming yet another stepping stone to achieve your goals once they find themselves under the soles of your feet. Out of nowhere, Konomi gasped deeply a whiff of oxygen from an electric shock she felt in her spine to liven up her nerves like crazed fire ants.

A plethora of images and memories replayed in the back of Konomi’s eyes like a movie/slideshow depicting her everyday life in Japan before being brought to this new planet. She could hear her parents’ voices talking to her, laughing during family meals, enjoying P.E. class with friends and classmates, the time when she went to Hitachi Seaside Park to admire the ceaseless fields of nemophila flowers during springtime. Boy, did she love the first time she set eyes on that blissful scenery, revisiting it every year since her sixth birthday. Konomi figured she had done so much to leave a lasting impression on her being during those ten years of living and so much more left to experience, at least another seven decades.

Ba-dum… ba-dum…

The pounding of a heart resonated its indomitable will to every corner of her body. This time around it beat ever so stronger, mightier than she had ever felt since birth. Those memories and unforgettable sensations fed her heart a great purpose. This was what you called desire to live. The Bringer kept mouthing off and laughing with ridicule, still grasping her by the neck and tightening it to his liking, whatever satisfied his immoral rotten core.

Then, Konomi remembered those words Lilia had told her before going their separate ways, the woman’s voice echoing true to the tone she had spoken in.

If you happen to find yourself in trouble and you need to fight back, deep within your core is the trigger to activate it.

As if responding to that hint, a strange new reflex turned its gears somewhere that not even Konomi knew she had, somewhere deeply hidden in the most unforeseeable parts of her body. She could feel it there, her core, the center where the soul resided, like if she had an extra arm hidden within herself and could freely touch it at will. That was when that last sentence said by the female scientist resounded powerfully back to Konomi like a final catalyst, the trigger.

 

Once you feel it, you'll know what I'm talking about. Farwell Konomi.

 

Out of nowhere, Konomi brought her right arm upward over her head in a fist to the sky and held it in position for a few seconds. He noticed this and refuted in a patronizing voice. “Oho-ho… Don’t tell me you still had a little strength in you? Well… I can take care of tha-”

Thwack! A loud popping sound suddenly filled the plaza in repeating sound waves. “Uh-gaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!” Captain Marlow, The Bringer who captured Konomi, was sent tumbling backwards yelling in agony at the top of his lungs as he cradled his left arm into his stomach. Metal debris and small pieces of technology hardware belonging to his armor became scattered around. Konomi now free from his grip landed majestically on her two feet and stood quietly unfazed at what had happened. “Wha… w-w-w-what, what just happ… what the hell just happened?” He stared down at his left arm, combat armor crumbling before his eyes like it were made of thin glass and he was utterly dumbstruck at what he saw. This was tough material made to withstand heavy impacts from rock hard objects, not flesh and bone. So why -or more importantly- how did this happen? He asked himself.

Changing his focus over to Konomi, starring daggers, and challenged, “You… she altered you, didn’t she!?” The ten year old offered no response but stared back with eyes of a beast. That one action was all it took for him to exhibit fear and he interpreted her silence as an answer. The man’s perception wandered for a while not wanting to make direct eye contact, looking for what he could do to not lose face. “He-he… ehe-he-he-he-he-he-he… I see, I see. So that’s how it’s gonna be huh?” He steadily rose to his feet. “Just because she treated you with a pill and everything doesn’t mean all your problems are solved. It doesn’t matter how many of us you can fight without breakin’ a sweat. We’ve got guys like you on our side too and won’t think twice about sendin’em to you, so don’t start gettin’ full of yourself darlin’.”

Just as he was in the middle of the conversation, with his left hand he secretly reached behind his leg and carefully drew out a handgun. “You may’ve won this battle, but the war… is… ours!!” And not a second later he brandished his handgun and shot it straight at Konomi who stood at only a short distance, the bullet screaming through the air at a supersonic speed. It inched closer and closer until the gap dividing them was too miniscule for anything to dodge. But it didn’t land.

Instead it hit a building right behind where she stood and in her place was only a wavy cloud of dust sweeping the ground. The next thing he knew was a crushing sensation forcefully pressing on the side of his left rib cage. The blunt pressure sunk in bit by bit to where the tip of the rib sounded off a crunching noise. The action happened so fast, The Bringer’s limbs stayed in placed until they were dragged along with the rest of the body as it flew in reverse a few feet. The cause: Konomi. She had dodged the bullet clean of injury and zigzagged her way fluidly over to her pursuer’s standing point and unleashed a blow with incredible force. All in what appeared to be in the blink of an eye.

“Guhaaaaah!” He bellowed out in pain once his nerves registered the punch’s effects.

Saliva was blown out of his mouth and snot from his nose respectively. He stumbled to stay on his two feet but failed miserably until the end when he gave out and fell on all fours, handgun lost somewhere during the fall.

Panicked, he reached over to fetch the assault rifle looking gun strapped on his back and hurried to stabilize it in his hands. He peered into the rifle’s scope and once more locked eyes with Konomi who was walking steadily towards him. She had on the same face, expressionless and eyes of a predatory beast cornering its prey. His skin swelled with goosebumps and arms shook uncontrollably due to fear. The Bringer ignored all warning signs of danger by his conscious and instead flashed a canine grin tinged of defeat as he gazed at Konomi through the scope.

“Die!” He yelled defiantly and shot a round.

Konomi swayed her head to the right and the bullet zipped past to miss her.

The Bringer captain Marlow clicked his tongue annoyingly and shot again. Konomi only had to sway her head left this time and without a change in walking speed. “Shit!” He stood up angrily, prepared the next round, and began shooting, this time nonstop. Sensing the incoming change, Konomi swerved her body majestically away from the hail of bullets as she sprinted the plaza’s circumference at an astounding speed.

She crisscrossed through obstacles like trash cans, rails, and benches scattered about. Every bullet aimed at her always ended up eating dust in her wake, leaving behind deep craters.

This is it… this feeling…

Konomi’s inner voice channeled with a newfound hope. Was this what the female scientist, Dr. Lilia, meant by making her better, faster, and stronger than she ever was before?

I don't have to suffer anymore. I can finally fight back, for my sake. Konomi made a hard left turn and burst straight for The Bringer amidst the rain of bullets in a move that could temptingly be called suicidal. But she moved so swiftly between each one, weaving in and out like it was second nature for her, child's play.

His efforts futile, The Bringer took one, two steps back unconsciously preparing for retreat while at the same time his nervous smile fading away. “Stay back… don’t come any closer… Stay Back!!” Out of bullets, the rifle ceased all firing and with it brought The Bringer’s wide eyes down to it in stupification. “What!?”

Konomi neared ever closer with each step wide like a leap and nimble like a speed skater.

I've found it… this strength… MY STRENGTH!

Before she could miss her target, she slid to a precise stop just below him and within a split second in between both saw into one another’s eyes for the umpteenth time. A trail of sweat ran down the man’s edgy face not expecting anything like this. Konomi followed through with a reverse heel kick to his abdomen as she lifted herself up in a handstand, turned a three sixty on the left palm, forward flipped to land on her feet, and initiated a jabbing frenzy almost unseeable to the naked eye. Every hit landed on target where she desired whether armored or not. The impacts reverberated through his armor and clothes and into his skin shockwave after shockwave to cause internal damage as an added bonus. Blood splattered here and there on the floor and even on Konomi.

She stopped the repeated jabbing for a brief minute to analyze her foe’s condition. The fearsome captain Marlow looked black and blew all around ready to fall over at any second with his head jerked loosely to one side. He did, and halfway to the ground he smirked suddenly. Immediately reaching to his left waist pocket, captain Marlow of the unit seven Bringers hauled out a pocket knife and swung it at Konomi with all force in his arm. Konomi ducked in due time, although even she didn’t see it coming at first, and escaped with a few hair strands sliced off from her front bangs. Captain Marlow caught himself and promptly resumed with his turn at close quarter combat. His blade swinging was all over the place which was understandable because he was nearing his own limits and fighting with a broken rib cage wasn’t exactly a pain free experience. Nevertheless, the ten year old Konomi dodged each and every one of his attempts at getting her. Maybe by this time she was playing with him, or so that’s how he interpreted her movements against his sloppy style, so he bared out his teeth even more and howled at her in reproach. “Don’t think you can belittle me! I’m captain Marlow of unit seven! I’ve brought many petty criminals and escaped monkeys like you to my knees, begging to be spared of death! You’re no different just because you’re altered! Oraaaaaaaaah!!”

As he finished that last swing, there was an opening that Konomi saw an opportunity in and immediately snatched him by the wrist, twisted it in a way that it shouldn’t go, and took hold of the combat knife into her hands. He yelled out of pain but held on to continue fighting. To his luck however, he found that his fallen handgun from moments earlier was there next to him within arm’s reach thanks to his right leg stepping on it out of pure coincidence and so came up with a plan. My grenades... He reached out desperately to one of his uniform pockets to retrieve one and because of that desperation, both the safety and the countdown button were pushed. Noticing this, captain Marlow fumbled it away in mid air to Konomi how ever he could. The grenade had a big enough screen on it that displayed a numbered countdown from five to zero which was obviously the instant of detonation, and by the time it spinned into view for Konomi to see, it was at 2… 1…

Boom!!

Dust, smoke, debris flew in all directions. The captain rolled away to a safe distance, handgun again in his possession as he rose to take a knee. He looked on at the explosion’s aftermath in the form of rising black smoke. Tired and ready to throw in the towel, he wheezed heavily with every breath moving his shoulders and upper back up and down to allow as much breath in his lungs as possible. “Got… her… I got her… finally.” There were no footsteps or other sounds signifying life as in coughing or grunting, so the next thing he concluded was that she had gotten herself caught up at the explosion’s center. No more fighting. Mission complete. He lowered the gun down to his side and sighed out a heavy one containing all the adrenaline that had built up.

Or so he thought it was over.

Lunging out of the smoke like a bat out of hell, was someone who had been lurking behind the smoke’s cover for the right time to counter strike. It was none other than Konomi. Unscathed by the explosion and unshaken to have been seconds away from meeting the grim reaper, charged ferociously down the path where the captain of unit seven currently rested. He was in total shock with mouth agape, utterly flabbergasted to acknowledge that what was happening before his eyes was reality and not some outlandish “what if” scenario that otherwise never occurred. Captain Marlow could have betted his entire retirement pension that no one, not even an altered human being had the capacity to avoid an explosion from such proximity with so little time left on the ticker. Quick thinking to get on track again, he raised his handgun to point it directly at the charging girl. Grinding his teeth against each other angrily out of frustration, he shouted at the top of his lungs and shot bullet number one. It surged the distance between them instantaneously and reached Konomi precisely on target only to be deflected by the knife’s razor-sharp edge, causing sparks to fly out, as she shielded it in front.

Bullet number two blasted off towards her soon after. Instead of being deflected this time, the combat knife’s keen edge was able to slice the round flawlessly down the middle and send both halves hurling apart in differing directions. Konomi bared her fangs like the beast she was and kept running without the slightest show of fear and never flinching at whatever was sent her way.

The captain shot a third time in haste and while he was at it pulled the trigger for a fourth one. His heart stopped the second he realized the magazine had reached its end. As the third and final bullet reached Konomi, she viciously disregarded it out of her way like a pesky mosquito, the impact between the bullet and the knife produced a speedy sound of ricochet which sent it straight back at his chest.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!” Realizing the fight’s outcome was within her reach, Konomi then let out a heroic battle cry containing every bit of suffering and hardship she had gone through these past three weeks into this one, final attack. The knife -headed for the captain’s face- made contact at the left corner of his lips, drove its sharpness into it cleanly ripping through all the way to the left ear while at the same time slicing half of it off. She followed through to the end with a one eighty swing of the blade, it’s shiny margins tracing out a curved blue line of afterimages that resembled the tail of a shooting star over a pitch black sky.

Captain Marlow, groaning quietly as he stood motionless with his back to Konomi’s respectively, collapsed to the ground face up with mouth cut open to the left ear like an exaggerated cartoonish grin. His arms and legs splayed out and eyes rolled back almost concealing his pupils completely. Blood covered his face, and the spot he lay over started becoming soiled from the blood of his exit wound he took to the chest as a result from the ricocheted bullet. Fingers and feet twitched out of nerve reflex, but he wasn’t getting up any time soon. Maybe never more.

On the other hand, Konomi stood triumphantly over the body of captain Marlow of unit seven who she had just killed bare handedly was now relevant. Like him, she also stayed put in one place (the one where she delivered the final blow) and held her head high in a proud manner.

The night was distant, silent, you could even say on edge depending on how you interpreted the battle’s outcome along with it. This was a somewhat deep area as well. Meaning it could be a bad part of town like a ghetto or slum since the surroundings looked like a dumping ground of leftover building blocks all over the place. A forsaken environment omitted for the less fortunate. And because it was intended as a plaza, it couldn’t go on without a certain trademark to label it as such. With that said, if you went down a certain path, it would connect you directly to a city overlook type cliff of sorts which offered a most spectacular view of the city at its full glory during the evening hours when it would shine every light and every laser imaginable to maximum force. The skyscrapers mimicked the shape of colossal space ships ready for take off. Towers of web shaped exoskeletons taking on even the most unimaginable of shapes that hinted they may as well be defying the laws of physics.

Shimmering strobe lights atop building summits dazzled in different colors as if they were putting on a concert, the same could be said of large screens displaying intricate graphics that occupied the sides of those same structures. Holograms of every hue on the spectrum hovering around. The city truly seemed like it was one mammoth organism all on its own, alive and breathing. A megalopolis. A cyberpunk city.

Konomi’s bobbed hair was caressed by a passing breeze as she stared dead straight at the tremendous civilization before her. Brows furrowed and eyes of a beast, Konomi held out her right hand to the city in a manner that could be defined as enigmatic. With this hand I will take control of fate. Bend it to my will. Brave any danger set before me no matter how tough or risky it may be. I swear revenge for my father, I will search for doctor Lilia. Slowly and with conviction, she curled her hand up to a hard fist as it pointed toward the city like a missile ready to blast off. The Bringers… the Genesis Project… they will someday fall to my knees and I alone will beat them down, I swear it.

With that said, Konomi took her leave from the battle ground, captain Marlow lying cold, and set out to initiate her epic.