The first shots of gunfire came in shortly after Anton made his way into one of the city’s worst hit districts. He was walking down a main road, assessing the damage done to the residential zone there when sniper fire began to pepper his position. He immediately scrambled to cover, but wasn’t sure whether he should plan on retaliating against the shooter or not.
Those might be survivors, he thought. They might be all that’s left of Hoop.
Anton readied the action on his Vektor and began to slink along the tenement buildings, using them as cover. From one heap of rubble to the next, he moved swiftly and quietly.
He spotted the iridescent eyes of a cat staring at him from under the husk of a demolished car nearby. Until the firing had started, Anton believed the only things alive here were the strays. Animals without a home.
Scanning the immediate area from the cover of a half demolished apartment building, he spotted the remains of an office building a few blocks down. He waited a few minutes before moving that way, cautiously. The firing had stopped, but Anton knew that didn’t mean anything. Any sniper worth their salt was going to be patient.
He breathed a sigh of relief when he reached the base of the building. Much of the frame had been stripped away and now the only things visible happened to be some of the interior floors. Some looked out in the direction of the gunfire and the rest of the city. Anton hoped the vantage point would be sufficient to identify his shooters and also help him plan his next move.
Climbing through the debris, he noted the various bodies that lined the lobby and subsequent floors. Secretaries, mail clerks, maintenance workers–all of them dead. Judging by the looks on their faces and the strange odor that permeated the building and the immediate area around it, these people were gassed to death.
Anton wrapped his bandana around his face as he proceeded further into the building and up the stairways. Large blast holes throughout the building seemed to suggest that the gas was brought on from aerial assaults of some kind.
It was reasonable to imagine that the NP must have used drones to drop gas all over Hoop, incapacitating the city right before sending in troops. This was a new tactic for them. Never before had they resorted to using chemical weapons.
If they were resorting to this, he thought, then the resistance were making more progress than anyone could have anticipated.
To his knowledge, chemical weapons were still considered illegal conventions of war by the League of Nations. If he could provide proof to an international court of justice that the National Party was using chemical weapons against their own people, it might signal the beginning of a resurgence for the Resistance Campaign’s struggle against their oppressors.
That’s if I can manage to get out of here alive, he thought.
Squeezing through a twisted metal door that led to an emergency staircase, Anton made his way up to the sixth floor of the building and sought cover behind a turned over desk near a set of blown out windows.
He slung the Vektor around his shoulders and produced his set of binoculars. Using them, he scanned the other buildings in the surrounding area, making sure he did so under the cover of shade. He watched and waited patiently for hours before he finally spotted movement several city blocks away at a high rise that was still mostly intact.
Adjusting the lens on his binocs, he spotted the sniper moving down and away from his field of vision. Anton’s teeth gritted together when he was able to make out the sniper’s NP uniform. These were stay behind forces, he realized. And where there was one, there was bound to be many, many more scattered around the city.
“It’s over,” he breathed out loud. “We’re finished.”
“Not over just yet,” someone said from nearby.
Anton snapped to his feet and readied his Vektor, bringing it to bear. Moving slowly and cautiously, he made his way to the hallway outside where he had heard the voice.
“Let’s see your hands,” he ordered when he spotted the man in the dark suit standing in the shadows.
“C’mon, is there a point to this, really?” the man said.
Anton aimed at the man’s head, finger on the trigger. “I’m not going to ask you again.”
The man walked toward Anton, hands in his pockets. The resistance fighter lowered the weapon and fired at the man’s left leg, the echo reverberating throughout the hallway like a small thunderclap. Anton’s eyes widened in surprise when he realized that though he had made the shot, nothing happened to the stranger.
The man came face to face with Anton and held out his arms. “I’m not really here, pal. Sorry. I’m in your head.”
“That’s not possible. You’re a ghost,” Anton reasoned, backing away.
“Kinda sorta. Not really. Look, I need you to remember, ok?” the man said. “Do you remember the other times you died?”