"Lieutenant Darkshot. Attention! You are a traitor to the Japanese Military. You must report to my quarters, IMMEDIATELY!" Bleeding skies. Come on Airon, come on.
Then a rumbling starts up above us, and the air raid sirens go off. Thank the gods. He pulled through with his end of the bargain.
"APPROACHING UFO! I REPEAT APPROACHING UFO! ALL UNITS REPORT TO MAIN BASE IMMEDIATELY! ALL CIVILIANS TAKE COVER. I REPEAT ALL CIVILIANS TAKE COVER. I'm suddenly confused, thinking about aliens landing and all that stupid stuff. But then I remember that they've never seen a nuke before, so of course they wouldn't know what one looks like when it's rushing at their capital, 5,000 miles and closing.
I look around and there are red strobe lights flashing all around the room, and all the exits are blocked with the crush of panicking bodies rushing to get out of the building. Shadow comes running up to me, tear tracks plain on his dirty cheeks, and it suddenly hits me that he really is nothing but a 9-year-old kid right now, no matter what he's been training for. I feel a pang of sympathy when I notice the front of his pants are wet. I was that boy once, and it hurts me to see Shadow like this. Maybe you were being too hard on him. I bend down and look him in the eye, trying to comfort him. "Hey, it's ok. I'm going to get you out of here. But I need you to trust me. Ok?" My voice is gentle and calm.
"Ok." His Adam's apple bobs in his throat as he swallows hard. "I trust you."
I swing him over my shoulder and bolt for the trapdoor placed in the ground along the left wall. I set him down to open up the door, and one of the last soldiers out glances back over his shoulder, as if to check that everyone is out. His eyes fall upon us and widen.
"TRA-" Is all he gets out before his head takes leave of his body. A soft gasp from behind me reminds me of the child I currently have in my care. Bleeding skies, the poor kid. I totally forgot about him, and now I've gone and shot someone through the mouth right in front of him.
"Shadow open the hatch. We don't have much time." I tell him, remembering how something having to do helped me block out the horror.
He stops starting at the body on the ground with the lifeless pale gray eyes and the widening pool of blood seeping out of his mouth, and instead turns his attention to the hatch door. While he's working on opening the hatch, I turn back towards the main entrance, expecting multiple highly trained assassins to come charging in because of the gunshot. But no one comes. It must have been drowned out by the roar of the approaching nuke, I think. Oh no. THE BOMB! The roaring sound I've been hearing has been drowned out by my shock, but my ears are slowly starting to work again.
"Darkshot! I got the hatch open!" Shadow screams over the roar, and my illusion of calm shatters.
"GET IN! NOW!!" I scream, calculating in my head, a small voice saying, 200 feet and closing, 150 feet and closing… I ignore the voice and jump in after Shadow, just barely managing to pull the hatch door closed behind me. And I keep falling, falling, falling, even after I hear a soft thump below me, and some small part of my brain says, "That was Shadow." My last coherent thought is a memory I have of my brother and me joking around outside the run-down shack I used to live in before they took me away. I must have been about 10 years old at the time, still blissfully innocent.
"Come on Bolt, you're as slow as a turtle." Dom calls over his shoulder. I laugh at him and stick my tongue out, even though I am struggling to keep up as we run through the market stalls, weaving in and out of the vendors and shoppers. It's a game we always play on market day. Dom disappears through a gap in the crowd, and I lose sight of him for a second. But then he appears above me running along the rooftops, flipping over the gaps, his bandana somehow still in place around his neck. "What, you can't keep up?" He mocks me, at the same time running along a fire escape of one building and then effortlessly vaulting over to the next, parkour style.
"Watch me." I flip up onto one of the canvas stalls, startling the fruit vendor below me enough that he loses his grip on the mango he was displaying to the crowd. I lean down and catch it, to the joy of the crowd. They cheer me on as I flip up the fire escape, vault off a windowsill on the adjacent brick tenement, and land on a roof ahead of Dom, going into a roll and then popping up on my feet with my hands on my hips. I sneer at him and he laughs as he jogs slowly towards me.