Silence ruled as Derrick lay on the floor. Then, there was a lot of moaning as people picked themselves off the floor one by one. When Derrick rose to his feet unsteadily and searched himself, he found three cuts on his exposed skin and one piece of glass about an inch long half stuck in his cheek.
Why the face again! He supposed he should be grateful it hadn't hit his eyes. He shuddered at the thought. He was gingerly pulling it out when he heard Kate speak, he could barely understand her over the ringing in his ear though.
“What the fuck hit us?” Kate shouted. “Did the Greys do that?”
“No,” said Blake with shock in his voice. He had recovered the fastest and was looking out the shattered window. “I'm pretty sure someone just hit the city with a fuel air bomb.”
“You don't know what...” The female officer began but stopped because it was obvious no one was listening to her.
Universal Support System Implant
Warning! Proximate Airborne Spore Tyrant Infection.
All Users should equip their masks immediately and seek airtight shelter.
Medical stations are being prepared for affected Users and Civilians.
“What is it?” she asked instead. Watching with fear as all the users quickly donned their masks. He noticed the others had all paid to upgrade theirs as they covered their full face. Slim and hard, hey didn't quite look like gas masks but no one would mistake them for anything but protective equipment.
Derrick had grabbed his half mask and was just about to finish putting it on when he hesitated.
“What is your name?” he asked the brunette police woman.
The policewoman's face showed clear suspicion at his question. Which was fair enough in her situation. Still annoying though.
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because if a User knows someone’s true name they can cast evil magic on them,” Derrick said with no small amount of sarcasm. This whole situation was making him cranky. Not even the whole getting bombed thing, just dealing with all these crazy people.
“Jenny,” she replied apparently realizing the pointlessness of antagonizing them now that her precious “Human Civilization” had almost hit her with fuel air bomb. Whatever that was.
“Here, take this Jenny.” He threw her the mask. Derrick could see the confusion on her face. “Killer spores,” he told her and fear flashed across her face.
He'd considered himself a practical and fairly selfish person before, but this moment made a lie of those assumptions. When even his violent introduction to the Grey Legion left him mostly calm, his mind was now a storm as he considered what to do.
Without the mask he might die. The USS had implied his Curative Blood trait protected him somewhat.
Without it, she would almost certainly die. Probably horribly considering it would be because of something called Spore Tyrants. That was something he didn't want to see. No one had ever really needed him before. He'd always kept himself apart from others and apparently that had been smart because the first pretty face in need of help caused him throw caution to the wind. His newfound allies didn't seem impressed with his decision but didn't stop him. Which wasn't surprising considering their practical approach to allies.
“I'll trade you for the gun,” he replied forcefully while offering the knife. “This works better against the Agents anyway. They can walk of a gunshot.”
“Fine,” the police woman said and deflated a little. She must have realized that staying here was a death sentence for her and her partner. If the Grey Legion didn't get them, spores would. She untied her holster and they exchanged weapons.
“This is the safety and it's on right?” he asked.
Jenny looked like she regretted her decision but Derrick didn't let that bother him. Instead he equipped the holster and moved to the couch the wounded officer was passed out on.
“Do you want his arms or legs?” He asked quickly, wanting to get into the stairwell as soon as possible. It had no windows, steel doors and was made of concrete, making it safer from whatever spores the explosion was sending their way.
Instead of answering she just grabbed the man's legs, leaving Derrick to snake his arms under the man's armpits from behind. The group quickly hustled into the stairwell and he began the awkward task of walking down a million stairs while carrying a large unconscious man in his arms. Kate had pilfered a mask from their fallen comrade so at least it wasn't a total waste of his time and the man wasn't likely start sprouting killer mushrooms while in his arms.
They moved in silence for awhile but they weren't moving very fast, eventually Blake broke up the silence.
“I can't imagine the Canadian government ordering a bomb dropped on one of our own cities. Even if it was the right call and it saved the city.” Blake said. The explosion seemed have brought out his intellectual side, from what Derrick had seen of the other User, he been exclusively about stabbing things and planning stabbings.
The female officer grunted. No doubt like Derrick, she was too tired to add more.
“Was it an illegal strike? Part of a Military coup? Did aliens hack our military? Was this an act of war by the States?” the blond User theorized aloud.
“Does it matter,” asked Kate as she covered them with her rifle. They would be sitting ducks if the Grey Legion atacked them now. “All we really need to know is that something was over there where the bomb was dropped was much worse than what we have here. There was no important targets over there, just suburbs. Just..”
She stopped talking suddenly and turned her attention above them. In a split second her rifle went from pointed at the ground, to pointing almost straight up. Derrick winced as she fired a shot above them.
Two shots were fired back at them from above, luckily missing but sending everyone diving away from the middle of the stairwell.
“Everyone out!” Kate yelled, spooked by whatever she saw above.
“How many?” Asked Blake calmly. He was back into stabbing planning mode.
“Too many,” she replied. “I think they're all making a break for it and we’re in the way.”
A body fell from above and at the last second grey fingers grabbed the railing, stopping it's fall and leering at them.
“I see you,” a skinny female Agent said a second before Blake put a knife into her eye, cuasing her grip to fail and her body to keep falling. He dodged backwards just as another gunshot rang from above.
A second later three more bodies fell down the middle of the stairwell, stopping somewhere below them and cutting them off from below. From above Derrick heard the click of claws impacting on cement. He'd grown up with a dog so he recognized the sound of many many pawed feet scrambling across a hard surface.
“Everyone out of the stairwell!” Kate repeated unnecessarily.
Bob... Bill? Whichever, had already opened the door and Derrick was trying to angle the large police man's shoulders through the door frame.
Once that was done, Kate and Blake darted in after them and the metal door swung shut.
Well almost. At the last second a huge grey hand held the steel door open and violently ripped it open. The door slammed into the wall with a clang and the tiny glass window in it shattered. Blake spun around and stabbed at the Grey Agent following them, a large man in shorts and a t-shirt. Because of his revealing clothes, Derrick could see that his flesh looked a little odd, like his bones had grown into weird shapes under his skin.
Blake was fast but the Agent was as well, it caught the blade of Blake's knife with its open palm without flinching and smiled as fingers closed around Bake's hand. Blake gave a short scream and threw himself away from the huge Agent. The Agent stepped forward and Kate shot it twice in the throat, taking advantadge of Blake's retreat.
Derrick watched in disbelief as both shots only caused it to pause for a second before wrenching the knife out of its palm and moving towards their group. The wounded blond User looked afraid for the first time since Derrick had met him, to his credit however he'd already drawn another knife from somewhere and looked like he could use it even left handed.
“Bastard broke my fingers,” Blake cursed between gasps as he backed away from the agent. “Don't let that brute near you.”
How the fuck was he supposed to stop it? Sighing, he tossed the gun he'd just gotten back to its original owner. Jenny at least would hit what she aimed at.
“Everyone hit it at once,” said Blake as they readied themselves. His black half mask muffed his voice slightly. “We should be able to disable it and cut it to pieces.”
“You know Grey Agents are not actual zombies, right?” questioned Derrick.
Blake shot him an irritated look.
“Why is that important right now?” he said.
The door to their floor swung open again and two large dogs ran into the room and took positions at either side of the large Agent.
“Because they can probably understand what were saying,” returned Derrick, matter of fact.
One of the dogs swept its grey eyes over the group and barked.
“Ri Ree Rou,” it growled at them, sounding eerily like it was trying speak english.
Derrick sighed again. So much for dignity, he was going to be murdered by evil Scooby Doo. Fuck. All three Agents sprinted forward to attack. In the seconds it took them to reach the Users, Derrick positioned himself to the side of the group, aiming to intercept one of the Dogs. He figured he'd be no help against the brute. he would just get in the way, clumsy as he was.
Bill did the same for the other grey dog as the others all prepared to face the brute.
In a split second the dog went from a hundred meters away to leaping right at his face. It moved too fast for him to even track and try to throw an axe. Instead, he swung at the last second, felt his blow land and sink into flesh but at the same time saw the dog twist in midair and bite deeply into the limb that wounded it.
Derrick let out an embarrassing squealing noise as dozens of teeth sunk into his arm. Pain caused him to loosen his grip and his axe fell from his hand, still buried in the flesh of the dog. It landed at his feet and not slowed in the slightest, bit into his ankle and tried to pull him off his feet. For a few desperate seconds, he thought he would keep his balance, until the vicious creature pivoted to the side and he began to fall. As a last effort not to be mauled to death, he threw himself on top of the dog. If it was allowed to move around freely while he was on the ground, it would have no trouble tearing his throat out.
He grabbed a handful of fur and skin as he fell to prevent it from escaping and knocked it onto its side by sweeping the mutatnt canines front legs. It of course tried to bite him, but he kept his chest by its head. Not only was the large surface of his chest much harder to bite, but he was wearing an armoured undershirt. The bites still hurt, but would only leave terrible bruises instead of shredding his stomach.
Grabbing another handful of neck fur, he pressed its head to the ground and pivoted so that he had room to swing his remaining axe at its neck.
A few seconds of spasms later, he rolled off the fresh corpse and gasped for air. At some point he'd forgotten to breathe. He'd also forgotten he was in the middle of a larger fight. A huge foot appeared above him and he quickly rolled away before it could land on his face. It didn't follow him, and he stood up and took the situation in.
The situation was not great.
The only person smiling was seven feet tall and had grey skin. Although he was bleeding grey fluid from at least a dozen new wounds that Derrick could see.
Kate was the only one still in the fight with the brute, having discarded her rifle for a pair of knives. She was doing very well for someone who looked like they weighed a hundred pounds when wet. Blake was helping where he could, but he was clearly slowing down. Neither was doing much more than surviving one moment at a time.
Derrick felt like cursing. He would have to ste up. He pulled his axe free and circled around to the brute's back. Kate dove forward and sliced at it, no doubt to give Derrick the chance he took to throw an axe in the back of the brute's head.
It didn't work as well as he hoped. Whatever the brute's skull was made of, it clearly was a lot tougher than bone. For the first time he found something an Ethisium weapon couldn't easily cut, his axe sunk in only about an inch.
The brute didn't even turn to face him, just ignored the axe sticking out of his head completely as it tried to grab the other two Users. It looked like a bad Halloween prop. Perhaps this should have scared Derrick, but the opposite was true.
It made him angry. How dare it ignore him.The annoyed and ignored User sprinted toward the occupied Grey Agent and it aimed a distracted backhand at him. It seemed like a casual move but Derrick knew that hand contained enough power to put him through a wall and pulp his organs. The brute had made its willingness to sacrifice its limbs clear, Derrick's plan was to use that against it. He brought his axe down in an arc that seemed like it would try to lob off the brute's wrist. He was guessing it would try to catch the axe, so at the last second the axe left his hand and spun right into the back of his enemy's knee.
That particular knee just happened to be supporting most of its weight. When the unbelievably sharp weapon sank into flesh, severing tendons and muscle, the brute fell.
“Timber, bitch.” snarled Derrick with savage glee.
Unfortunately, the brute fell toward Derrick and its swinging arm clipped his shoulder and sent him sprawling across the floor. It was like getting clipped by an out of control car.
Even when his body stopped spinning, it took a few moments for his mind to join it. He tried to pick himself off the ground only to fall clumsily forward. Luckily, the fight was over. Kate and Blake had moved in for the kill without mercy or hesitation. Derrick would guess the brute had died of multiple stab wounds before it even hit the ground.
Kate was already beside him and Derrick grabbed an offered arm and climbed to his feet unsteadily.
“That was less terrible than last time,” Kate said as she hauled him to his feet. “You almost pulled your weight.”
“Please, that was all me.” Said Derrick as he fought wave after wave of dizziness and nausea. “At best you two were... ughhh.... distractions.” He was about to try and say more when the crack of distant gunfire interrupted his thoughts.
He shook himself, found his balance and joined the others in moving into the closest room, identical to the one Jenny had retreated into with her comatose partner once she had run out of bullets.
Peering out the broken window, they saw the struggle between the escaping Legion dogs and the Users guarding the streets below. Instead of going all the way to the ground floor, it seemed like the escapees had jumped out of a third story window onto the roof of the lobby and finally off of it and onto ground level. Man made barriers did little to slow the dogs as they easily leaped on top of them. Derrick noticed that one dog, the largest, seemed to stay near the centre of the pack. Even from nine stories up, its outline was misshapen, no doubt due to the drone it was carrying. If the drone escaped, they could start another outbreak somewhere else. Especially with those dogs to hunt down people.
The pack moved like a single organism, pairs moving to intercept and distract gunmen. He winced as he saw them overwhelm and maul Users as they fought to escape the apartment's encirclement. The pack leader remained unharmed as its pack was whittled down by the guns and knives of the Users. He felt his heart beat pickup as it moved closer and closer to escaping.
“Useless bastards,” cursed Blake, “All this had better not have been for nothing. Those fuckers had one job!”
At the last barrier, a half dozen grey dogs still fought to escape. The drone carrier leapt atop the cars meant to bock its way and still surrounded by its pack, exploded like a pumpkin filled with firecrackers.
One second it was leaping over the final hurdle to its freedom, the next, it's body was an expanding sphere of guts and blood. The sheer unexpectedness of it shocked Derrick.
“That was a good show,” Kate said, her tone envious. Derrick watched her eyes roam the terrain below in search of the shooter. “Had to have been at least a kilometre away, I want one of whatever did that.”