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Cannon Fodder
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Haruka wasn’t quite so sure how she had found herself at the edge of the building so soon. She had finally made it up the attics stairs, each clumsy step causing the floorboards beneath her to groan and creak. There wasn’t really a place to hide, if the constant creaking of the floorboards didn’t reveal her to her attacker, then the trail of blood she was leaving behind would. Haruka fell to her knees and frantically tried wiping the blood away, silently praying through raspy breaths that Clio wouldn’t notice the macabre breadcrumb trail in the dim, musty attic. Realising she was only smearing the blood even further into the dusty floorboards, Haruka clambered to her feet again and staggered into the shadows.

Twists and turns around boxes, covered furniture and drapes hanging from rafters. The history of the house spread out before her and she was too busy trying to hide amongst it rather than take any notice of the old story each antique told. The shard of the plate was still in her hand, held outwards as if to stab any monster that should pop out from the shadows and give her a surprise. Soon she found herself covered in cobwebs and dust, particles of lint seeping into her wound. It was a scary thought that she should simply bleed to death in that labyrinth of furniture and never be found again. That she’d be one with the house forever.

She could hear the echoes of Clio and her accomplice heading up the staircase now, each footstep urging her to find a better hiding place before it was too late. Smearing a bloody handprint onto a globe, Haruka ditched her hiding place behind the dusty davenport desk and staggered through another thick curtain of cobwebs and moth-eaten drapes. The ground began to give way beneath her, sagging dangerously with dampness and decay. Haruka sank to her knees after trying to turn back, the smell of mould stinging her nostrils.

She was in the mouth of the house now. The blasted out section of the west wing that allowed the island to seep in and turn careful crafted detailing into rotting wood. Lush carpets into damp patches of moss and mould. Shingles and splintered wood hung around the mouth like teeth, and Haruka knew what lay beyond the steep drop where the floor gave way completely. Maybe I could turn back, it’s not too late, it’s not! But turning on her heel only brought her face to face with Clio Gabriella and Maxwell Lombardi, whose names spoken out loud early in the morning labelled them as killers.

There would be no reasoning with them. There would be no begging or pleading. No negotiations. She was gone for, but maybe it wasn’t too late to save herself. Maybe she could somehow scale down the side of the house and drop into some bushes. She took a step backwards, arching her back. She was suddenly reminded of the hot, searing pain in her shoulder. She was practically handicapped now, useless, like a bird who had cruelly had it’s wing clipped.

"Unlucky... Seems like you've reached the end of the line, eh? No where else to go except through the two well-armed killers who've cornered you against the edge of a particularly nasty looking drop..."
Haruka slowly looked over her shoulder at the drop. A two or three storey plummet down to the overgrown bushes, where no matter how she landed, she was sure she’d infect her wound further and break a bone. If she jumped she’d hit the pathway, surely that would be instant, like when a fly was crushed with a swatter. If she put some true momentum in, maybe she could make it to the lawn. One thing was for sure, she’d rather die out there and in the attic, in the mouth of the mansion. There was no way she could fight the two, she could only jump and deny them her inevitable death. She took another step backwards, biting her lip as the floor began to sag.

"But where are my manners...You spotted her first after all. What kind of gentleman would I be if I were to steal away your glory like that?"

Haruka Watanabe needed to make her decision. Was she going to save herself any further agony and throw herself to her death or was she going to let Clio Gabriella end her life there and then? She could commit suicide like a coward, or face her death with a mix between dignity and stupidity. Neither of those results sounded particularly appealing.

But there was a problem, even when faced with one cruel form of escape, Haruka was too scared to consider even suicide. She urged herself to lunge forwards and fall to the stone paving below, but she simply couldn't. She was frozen to the spot again, like that pathetic coward staggering about in the tunnels, freezing at every sound and echo.

The shy meek girl who nobody paid attention to, the one who was simply there, sinking into the background. Haruka Watanabe, a disappointment to her parents who strived for success. Haruka Watanabe, a social coward who could barely work up the nerves to introduce herself. Haruka Watanabe, who spent the last days crawling around in the dark like a frightened little mouse.

Was that all she was destined to be? A cowardly rodent? So jittery she allowed paranoia and delusions to choose her pathway? So scared that she allowed her only weapon to be taken away by Feo? So frightened that she foolishly deprived herself of sleep and water? So terrified that she deserted Trent and the others after Craig had been shot? Weakness was written allover her face, the looks of apathy in her killers eyes only confirmed it. She was an easy target not even worth remorse. A scared little rat.

But even cornered rats can fight back.

And that was that. Haruka ignored the agony coming from her ruined shoulder. Haruka ignored her bleeding palm as she tightened her grip on the plate shard. Haruka ignored the odds stacked so highly against her that it was almost a joke. Even if she didn't even land a single blow upon Clio or Maxwell, she'd die knowing she had tried. Her parents would know what their little disappointment had fought back against the odds before her death.

Clio stepped forwards, the sai in her hands. How many lives has it taken? Three? Four? The china dug into the cuts in Haruka's hand, blood seeped through the napkin. Maybe if I wasn't such an idiot I wouldn't have found myself in this mess...I could have been amongst friends or sane persons! I thought my fears were supposed to be good for me, to keep me on the alert, and look what I've got now...If only I had stopped being such a scared little idiot things might have started to work out for me.

Maybe one final act of bravery could make up for Haruka's past mistakes, even if the outcome didn't change the circumstance. Maybe thats how all the soldiers who died first in the wars felt. They may have been running, guns blazing, straight into enemy territory. They would probably be sent home in a coffin with the stars and stripes draped over it. Maybe they wouldn't be found at all.

But they would have died for something, no matter how insignificant it seemed to other people, it meant alot to them. A narrow chance, hope even, or maybe it was the final fact that they were dying for a cause. And like that, Haruka ran forwards to Clio Gabriella, the shard of china raised high in the air. Even if her death was a mere spark and fizzle in the inferno that was V4, she would have gone down in her own blaze of glory.

She made it three steps before Clio sent the sharp tip of the sai into her stomach. Pain exploded in Haruka's gut and she opened her mouth to let out a scream, but could only frantically gulp like a fish. Her eyes clenched shut and her wrists shook violently, the shard of china shattered like a little bomb as it hit the floor. Clio Gabriella slid the sai out of Haruka's stomach, preparing herself for another stab.

Haruka's legs gave out beneath her and she doubled over, falling forwards into Clio just as the sai entered her body a second time. Haruka's bloody hands held onto Clio's arms, desperately clawing for support as she sank to the ground. A bleeding beggar frantically using their superior as stability. Haruka's face pushed past Clio's chest, and she found her cheek pressed against her shoulder. There was a third stab to her stomach, lifting her off her feet a little before she settled back into Clio's frame.

There were no images of her past, a happy girl in Japan with her parents before she became a burden in America. No nostalgia or bad memories, no happy moments. All Haruka could do was look at Maxwell Lombardi, the blood running down her chin, trying to make some kind of eye contact. Black hair fell over her face, obscuring her vision until she finally gave up and looked down at the floor. She couldn't scream or fight back, she could barely breathe. She was merely a ragdoll now, unable to even make one last effort to throw herself over the edge of the sagging floor.

Another stab, this time cracking a rib. Haruka let out a shrill cry of agony, before finally sinking to her knees, her hands tugging at Clio's clothing in an almost childlike fashion. Haruka tried to tilt her head back, to get one last look at her killers face, to maybe try and decipher some kind of human emotion behind the veil of black and purple, but could only let her head droop forwards like a dead flower.

Maybe she'd see Craig O'Hoyle when she crossed over to the other side, maybe she'd be able to say sorry for ditching Trent. Maybe. Clio delivered two final stabs, before letting Haruka lean against her legs as her life finally began to ebb away, through the many holes and cuts etched into her frail body. Clio rested a warm a hand on Haruka's shoulder, maybe there was something in that touch, guilt even, or maybe she just didn't want the girl to bleed all over her.

With a gentle push it was all over. Finished. Haruka didn't stretch out her arms to make a last attempt to anchor herself to her killer, she wouldn't have been able to muster the strength even if she wanted to. Haruka wouldn't use her last moments to forgive or damn Maxwell and Clio for what they had done. She merely kept her eyes shut and embraced the fall like a withered leaf at the start of winter. Maybe there was bright side to this, somewhere.

G112 Haruka Watanabe, Eliminated
x 1 oz. Rat PoiSon
x 1/2 oz. Meta-cyanide
x 1/2 oz. Fex-M3
x 1 cup Tiberium

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