Chapter 12: Nino’s gift.
It took them a while, too long of a while, but they eventually reached some kind of warehouse complex. Without stopping, nor mindful in any way of how Nino was desperately gasping for air, Rivaldo ran towards a specific warehouse.
He finally stopped into a crouch, leaning over a big container. Nino tripped as he was stopping, falling and tumbling once against the container. Rivaldo got his arms in the way to keep him from hurting himself too much.
Or to keep him from making a huge noise, that was also a concern.
Trying to keep his heavy, long-torn breaths from being too loud, Nino wheezed against the container, trusting Rivaldo to give some feedback on what he saw.
“There’s two guys chatting in front of the place, I guess they’re guards. Big place like this, I guess they’re not just keeping my mom and brother, they must be keeping everyone they’ve kidnapped.”
Nino tried to joke by asking him what else he could guess, but all that came out was a coughing laugh.
Rivaldo sneered at him.
Then he looked back out.
“I’ve done a gig around here before, there’re other entrances, one on the side, connecting the different buildings, and one on the back, so you can park there.”
“You’ll attack them from here. Shoot at them. I’ll surprise them by going around.”
Nino glanced at Rivaldo, realizing he was telling him to be bait. It was left in the air whether Rivaldo meant to attack and participate in the fight, or try to stealthily take people away while Nino dealt with the firefight alone.
“Give me two minutes and then start.”
Rivaldo pulled back and sat next to Nino, looking at him. He seemed to be on the verge of crying and had a face that seemed to be keeping that from happening by focusing on the action.
“Okay? You understood?”
Nino stuttered in between short breaths, and feelings.
Nino didn’t know why he didn’t protest. Why he didn’t complain. Maybe it was because he just couldn’t think of a better alternative. He was the one with the gun, and he was a better shot.
Maybe it was because it was Rivaldo asking, and Rivaldo was Rivaldo, his greatest friend, the one he could trust the most. Rivaldo knew Nino like no one else did and wouldn’t just use him as bait, even for his family, he wouldn’t just leave him to die.
“Okay.” Rivaldo took a breath, leaning his head against the would-be wall that offered them cover. The container.
He put a hand on Nino’s shoulder.
“Like I said. It’s…it’s really bad, but I gotta try. We gotta try.”
Nino sighed and smiled helplessly.
“For Rita’s sake.”
Rivaldo smiled sideways at Nino, proud beyond belief.
“Yeah. Yeah…no matter what happens, Nino. You’re the best man I know, I wouldn’t choose anyone else to be with me here.”
Nino shrugged with a chuckle.
“I wouldn’t be here for anyone else.”
Rivaldo head-butted Nino lightly and cursed gladly.
“You know how to reload the pistol?”
“Show me again.”
Rivaldo was antsy and in a rush, but he quickly showed Nino how to reload. Afterward, he took another breath. Nino had mostly recovered, to the point he was breathing normally.
Nino smiled and shrugged.
Rivaldo bowed his head down in gratitude and then ran off in a crouch. And Nino started counting.
With each count, it was as if his heartbeat quickened. His breath tried to shorten, but he wouldn’t let it.
Breathe. Breathe. Squeeze. Keep your eyes open.
Nino did his best to mentally prepare himself. The warehouse’s main entrance was a couple hundred feet away, it was a long distance when compared to his past experience.
He had to do it, though. He had to get their attention and survive long enough for Rivaldo to get into position and attack.
Or to get Rita out.
Why didn’t I ask which he was going to do?
Nino sighed, knowing full well it was because he didn’t want to know. Was Rivaldo truly sacrificing him? Was Nino okay with being sacrificed like that? In a situation where there really was no other alternative, if they wanted to get Rita to safety.
How would Nino feel when he found out which was which? Would he even find out, or die too soon to realize which was which? Perhaps that would be better.
No, Nino thought, sighing again. Better would be for us both to survive. Even if he plans to get Rita out unseen, he’ll come back for me.
The two minutes were up.
Nino hesitated, his heart skipping a beat. However, he growled at himself and turned his body. That got the rest of the nervous system on board since it knew its body was seen and now fully in danger. Survival now dictated fight rather than flight.
Nino aimed, reflexively blinking one of his eyes, and squeezed the trigger.
One of the men bounced away and against the warehouse’s wall, right after spraying it in blood.
His friend cursed and drew a gun, but Nino hit that one in the chest. He bounced off the warehouse’s wall and began to bleed out.
Nino blinked and shook his head as if bringing his thoughts back.
Whoah, Nino reflected, and even his thinking sounded like a numb echo before the effect of the gunshots.
Shouts then came from the warehouse, and the door opened soon after. Nino shot twice, hitting the wall right next to the door twice. The second shot grazed a hand.
It might be a false impression, but Nino felt as if he could see better. His vision was tunneled, but everywhere he focused, he could see very clearly. His hands, his shoulders, the tiny tilt of his head, everything assumed a firmness of stance that revealed knowledge he could not explain, but Nino felt an inordinately high confidence that whatever he could shoot, at that distance, he could.
The door was suddenly flung open by a kick and three bodies holding four weapons, since one of them was wielding two pistols, unloaded a flurry of bullets over Nino’s position.
Nino took cover and crawled away as the gunfire started to bite into the container, stubbornly trying to blow its way through the cheap steel.
Nino then realized he had taken a reactionary shot as the door opened, and killed one of the three by hitting him in the neck.
Nino leaned out at the other end of the container to catch a glimpse of roughly five men shooting at his position. Two of them instantly noticed him and turned their fire on that end of the container.
Nino panicked for a moment, seeing no way out, but then he noticed how some gunshots were hitting the floor or even the containers beyond him.
They were hardly managing to hit the container.
Rivaldo said he’d never seen someone like me, Nino remembered, trying to gain courage. He looked around and saw that there was a container facing him, which was closed with a padlock.
Nino shot the padlock twice, breaking it. The door whined and slowly opened. Nino could reach it in three steps.
I gotta try.
Surrounded by gunfire, Nino stepped back and then ran. He dove, shooting twice more into the amassing crowd of enemies. He landed and tumbled into the door’s cover. He stepped back before the trailing bullet fire could push it closed and strafed to take cover behind that new container.
He ran along it, recounting his shots.
Seven, he thought, reaching the end of the container. Before they could think of him doing that, he came completely out of cover, took aim and shot.
He was farther away now and ventured three shots. He wanted more, but the kickback from the pistol sent his third shot way out of control, so he stopped there and took cover again.
Still, two more were dead, and a third was injured since his wild shot had still hit the man in the leg.
Whoah, Nino thought again.
It was too much, now. Nino could feel it, especially with how he lost control on the third shot, that he was not simply lucky.
Somehow, Nino knew very well what he was doing.
These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:
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