When the immense pain subsided, Kieran could no longer feel the left side of his body.
He looked down where he had been shot.
The wound was near his abdomen. A bullet was embedded in the protective vest, blood gushing out.
If it had not been for the protective vest, his abdomen would have been penetrated completely.
But even with the protective vest on, he had taken quite a hit.
[Shooting: Target Inflicted 80 Damage, Equipment Protection On, 40 Damage Deduction, Inflicted 40 Damage to your HP, Moderately Wounded]
[Moderately Wounded Status: Strength, Agility and Intuition Lowered by 1 Level]
[Durability has gone down, T1 Bulletproof Vest Degraded]
Rifle and handgun bullets were so different that the vests durability had gone down by about 5 points and its rarity had gone from Common to Damaged.
The main issue, though, was that Kierans HP had dropped from 95 to 55. He had lost around half his life points and entered a [Moderately Wounded] status.
All of his stats had dropped by one level. Strength and Agility had both dropped from F to F- while Intuition had dropped from F+ to F. His jaw dropped as he took it all in.
Compared to his flesh wound earlier, this time he had really gotten hurt and he would have to deal with the consequences.
It was a good thing that this was his digitized body, and that he knew he could push it further despite the immense pain he was feeling and the fact that all of his stats had dropped.
He clenched his teeth and covered his wound as he entered the [Undercover] mode again, holding his makeshift rifle.
Once again, he was grateful that he had chosen this particular terrain, which allowed him enough space to avoid the incoming fire and enough time to leave his current hiding spot.
By the time Hank and the others reached the spot that Kieran had occupied, he was not there anymore.
Damn it! If we had a bazooka, a grenade launcher, or even a goddamn grenade, this scumbag would have been long dead! Hendrall the Bait expressed his frustration when he saw that no one was there.
This is Zarukhars orders! Hank told his men in a steadfast tone without any further explanation. He could not provide one.
Even though all the men were Zarukhars trusted troops, Hank still ranked higher than them.
He was the only one that knew what Zarukhar really wanted.
His goal was to retrieve the jewelry, not kill Kieran.
Even if they succeeded in killing Kieran, if they could not get that bag of jewelry, the mission would still be considered a failure.
Hank knew perfectly what Zarukhars attitude toward failure was.
Considering the high level of evasive maneuvers that Kieran had performed, it looked like he did not have the package with him. Still, Hank dared not order his men to use the bazooka or the grenade launcher.
He did not know how much jewelry they were searching for, because Zarukhar would not even disclose that much information to his right-hand man.
Hank could not help but stay on the passive side.
Was the package they were searching for mobile or not?
Based on the situation, he could not be sure.
If it was not, all Hank and his men had to do was continue searching until they eventually found it.
But if Kieran had the package on him and Hank ordered his men to use an explosive, what would he tell Zarukhar? That theyd accidentally blown up the very thing that theyd been searching for?
Not unless he wanted his own head blown off. He was almost certain that Zarukhar would shoot him without waiting for an explanation.
Therefore, even if they were being suppressed, Hank dared not bring out the explosives.
HE IS HURT!
One of the soldiers had spotted blood on the ground.
In an instant, everyones eyes shined, including Hanks.
Follow the trail! he gave a direct order.
Kieran was hiding under some ruins made up of concrete walls and fallen wooden beams. If it were not for the sunshine between the gaps, he would have been in total darkness.
He knew he did not have much time, so he hastened up.
Even though he had covered his wound with his shirt, blood was still gushing out of it and dripping on the ground.
It would leave a trail behind for the soldiers to track.
Soldiers were extremely familiar with blood trails, so it would only be a matter of time before they caught up with Kieran.
Within that short period of time, Kieran needed to heal his wound and get back on his feet.
He had to at least get rid of the [Moderately Wounded] status.
If he didnt, he would not even be able to fight anymore.
As for his lowered stats?
Lowered [Strength] made the makeshift rifle and the magazine feel heavier, and lowered [Agility] affected his [Undercover] movement. He could barely walk in a straight line anymore.
Of course, [Evading] was also affected severely, and [Intuition] compromised his sight and hearing to a certain extend.
With all these stats down by one, he was a good as a handicapped.
It was even worse than the damage to his HP.
I hope this works!
Kieran took out a hidden can of food.
Never put all your eggs in one basket, thats what they used to tell him in the orphanage every time he lost his candy to the older kids. In order not to compromise his [Agility], he had hidden canned food and water all over the ruins.
He found himself wishing that all common game rules applied to the underground game, and that food could both restore his HP and clear the debuff on him.
[Canned Food, Recovers 25% of HP and 50 Stamina within 1 minute]
His max HP being 100, the canned food could restore 25 HP.
It was enough to restore his HP from 55 to 80.
He opened the canned food and gobbled it down, waiting patiently.
[Eating canned food...]
[Hunger Status Cleared...]
[25 HP Recovered in 1 minute...]
A notification popped up when his HP reached 60.
[HP over 60%, Moderately Wounded Status Cleared...]
[HP at 80, Lightly Wounded Status...]
[Lightly Wounded Status: It wont hurt if you dont touch the wound!]
Although the wound had not really healed and blood was still gushing out, it was not as bad as it was before.
The pain had subsided, but the most important part was that hed gotten rid of the [Moderately Wounded] status.
Kieran let out a long breath. If he had not been able to get rid of it, he would have been as good as dead.
Kieran picked up the makeshift rifle. He felt comfortable holding it again now that the [Moderately Wounded] status was gone.
Hank and three of his men tracked the blood trail to Kierans hiding spot.
Pieces of concrete walls and fallen wooden beams were covering it. Hank lifted one of the wooden beams and Hendrall stepped forward, leaning on a concrete wall.
Come out with your hands up in the air! he said without even looking underneath.
You are surrounded!
We will spare your life if you do not resist!
Although he hated Kieran, Hendrall was aware of his exceptional gun skills and he did not want to risk sticking his head inside to take a look.
Hendralls loud voice could be heard from a couple of meters distance.
However, he got no response from the inside of the hiding spot.
The fact that the blood trail led there made Hank and the others certain that Kieran was inside. If he was not responding, then that meant that he had chosen to resist till the very end.
Machine gunner, get your ass over here before I kill you! Hank yelled into the walkie talkie.
According to war rules, if the first gunner was killed in battle, the aide would automatically take their place.
This particular aide, though, had a very poor performance and the fact that hed gotten scared and abandoned his post when the main gunner had been killed certainly had not improved it.
He could be considered a deserter.
If this was Court Martial, he would have been shot to death. Sometimes there was not even a need for Court Martial as the squad leader could make the decision himself.
Yes, Hank could have killed the aide, but he did not, because they were still chasing after Kieran.
Hank had given the newly appointed machine gunner a chance to redeem himself.
He would not kill him. He would just send him to Court Martial. Whatever happened from then on was not Hanks concern.
Hank had promised that he would not kill him on the spot.
Yes.. Yes, sir! a young voice replied through the walkie talkie. The man sounded afraid as he stuttered on his words.
How could someone like this be under Major Zarukhars command? Is he new? Hank thought to himself in dissatisfaction as he frowned. He quickly came up with a possible explanation.
Major Zarukhar was invasive and merciless, but he was also a brave soldier. It was because of his courage that he had been promoted to Major and taken command of the Rebellions most advanced military base.
Zarukhars base was the main opposing force against the Government Army.
Because of the constant fighting, the base camp was always in need of men.
Troops or squads from other bases could be transferred to the base for replenishing purposes.
They might even recruit a couple of new men as well, but there was no guarantee of the quality of the new soldiers.
As a matter of fact, the man had just been transferred to Hanks squad right before this mission to act as an aide to his machine gunner.
But considering his level of cowardice, Hank wondered how he could even have enlisted, let alone made it into the squad.
Hank shook away his thoughts. He was a soldier and his job was to follow orders, not question them.
The next moment, Hank felt an inexplicable sense of danger.
He ducked and took cover without a second thought.
A shot had been fired once again.