"Waiting on further instructions, boss man!!!" HeriTech shouted into her com link.
"Ummm...give me a minute!" I said.
"We don't HAVE a minute, Roland!"
"Give me a couple of SECONDS of then! Tell the Ark to prepare for extraction, and just have it ready when I get back to you!"
I watched the kid scurrying up the fire escape and rushing to get to the roof. I wasn't sure how much fuel I had left in my booster rockets, but with my enhanced cyber suit fully functional, I figured it couldn't be that hard to catch a skinny teenager within the next few seconds. So I jumped up to the fire escape myself and followed him to the top of the building.
God DAMN, that kid was fast on his feet! Then again, I guess he'd have to be in the middle of this chaos.
More gunfire rang out as my dedicated team attempted to buy me a little more time to retrieve my target. Nosferatus were literally climbing over one another to flood the downtown streets and get a shot at ripping us all to pieces. I was going to have to work fast and get us out of her before we ended up being boxed in by these fucking things!
I got to the roof and looked all around, using my scanners to try to detect the kid and see where he had gone. But without him being baptized, my technology didn't do me much good. I just happened to catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye just as he began running again.
Exorcyst got online. "You're putting us in one hell of a bind over a hallucination!"
"It's NOT a hallucination! I'm in pursuit! Just get that evac point open! I'll be on my way soon!"
Attrition asked, "Roland...let it go! Whoever it is...if he's not baptized we can't carry him home! You know G.O.D.'s law..."
"I know, I know! Just...HOLD ON a damn minute!!!"
I'm not exactly sure what made this kid so special to me all of a sudden...but I do remember being his age, and being orphaned and left all alone to fend for myself in a nightmarish warzone like the one we were in now. A part of me made it my mission to save him. And another part of me...
...Was dedicated to saving a part of myself.
I saw the kid running towards the edge of the roof, and my eyes widened as he didn't seem to be slowing down. I didn't think he would have the guts to simply take a leap of faith and jump to the next roof, considering how high up we were. But sure enough, as he neared the ledge, he only picked up in speed...his boyish face frowned up with determination...and I held my breath as he took a champion leap right off of the roof of this building and onto the next one! Jesus! The BALLS on this street kid!
My enhanced suit allowed me to make the same jump without much effort, but he must be tiring himself out now. He wasn't going to be able to keep clearing the same distance for much longer. Still, he kept running.
"HEY!!! STOP!!! I'm not trying to hurt you!!!" I shouted.
Just at that moment, he reached the end of the second roof, and even though he seemed to be getting fatigued, he didn't hesitate to push forward and force himself to land that jump as well. This time, he lost his footing and had to roll forward to get back up on his feet again. How is he even doing this?
"'God's Gift'...the Ark is ordering us back to the Ark! Like, NOW! What are you doing?" HeriTech asked in a panic.
"You guys go ahead! I'm coming! Just forward the coordinates!" I said, taking the second leap to continue the chase.
I could tell they were all getting frustrated now. Hell-Razor said, "Whatever it is you're chasing...it's not worth it!"
"Just GIVE me the goddamn coordinates!!! I'll be there!" I shouted, saving what little breath that I had left in me while trying to run down an agile and energetic kid that was nearly half my age and twice as fast.
"Fuck!" Hell-Razor grunted! "Sending link up now! Don't you disappoint us, bro!"
I got the instant link from the Ark above, and it told me...
"Immediate evac for Team 797 has been issued. Request approved. Move South to the corner of 8th and State for rapid Ascension to the Ark. Estimated Time Of Arrival...six minutes. Repeat, ETA...six minutes."
That doesn't leave me much time...
I boosted my energy levels and took advantage of my enhancements to speed up. But the kid could duck, dodge, and corner, much easier than I could while moving at those speeds. He began sliding under pipes and rolling over exhaust panels, zig zagging his way out of my reach before I could lay a finger on him. And that's when I noticed him angling himself towards the edge of this roof as well...however, that was going to be WAY too far for him to make it to the next building. Not even on his first jump at full speed and with full energy. This stupid kid is going to freakin' KILL himself! Does he have any idea how high up we are?
I kicked things up another notch, trying to stop him from making a big mistake. "Don't do it, kid! You won't make it!" I shouted with what little breath I had left in me. But he didn't seem to be slowing down at all. I'm all for being an optimist, but this was clearly suicide. I diverted some of my battery power to the small flare rockets in my boots, preparing to jump over the side after him with the hopes of catching him and bringing him down to the ground without shattering my own mechanics in the process. I'm not sure how much weight my suit can hold or how much of an impact it can withstand when dropping down from that height...but the kid wasn't giving me much of an opportunity to get my calculations right. I guess it'll just have to be a huge leap of faith for the both of us.
He's almost at the edge! I activated my rockets to give me a short burst and leap into the air, aiming my thrust in a direction that would hopefully catch him in mid air and guide us both towards the wall of the next building where I could slide back down to street level. But once I was airborne...everything changed.
It was almost as if the kid was waiting for it. I was already in motion when he suddenly ducked down and stuck his front foot out to slide to a complete stop right next to the very edge of the roof, and without losing his rhythm, he spun around and began running back the way he came. All this as I soared right over his head...looking back at the smirk on his boyish face as I traveled over the edge of the building.
That little fucking BRAT!!!
By the time I was able to grab on to the wall of the next building and slow my descent by digging my metal fingers into the bricks, he was already racing in the other direction. It took me a few well placed hops from wall to wall before I could return to the roof, and by then...I was only able to see him swinging his legs over the side of the opposite ledge, finding a pipe to climb his way back down to the street. I really should just leave the obnoxious little bastard to fend for himself...but as I heard the approaching horde of Nosferatu V's approaching rapidly from all sides...I knew he wouldn't stand a chance. Even a quick witted, savvy, street urchin like him would be dead within seconds.
I've got enough on my conscience already without leaving this kid to die and get eaten alive.
I worked my way down to the ground level, and I saw him cutting a sharp left around the corner. I made sure to keep his crafty nature in mind this time as I continued my pursuit. I wasn't about to let him outsmart me a second time. Why is he working so hard to get away from me? Does he have any IDEA what kind of danger he's in out here???
"ROLAND!!! You're going to miss the boat if you don't get your ass over here, pronto!" Alicia said, her 'Attrition' suit still booted up for battle if she needed to fight her way out of this predicament.
HeriTech shouted, "We're out of time! Hostiles are jumping out of every corner! There's too many of them for us to fight off! We've got to go! NOW!"
Determined to catch this kid, I hollered back, "You guys get back to the Ark! I'm gonna retrieve the anomaly and find a lace to hide out until you guys can get me another escape route!"
"Are you fucking KIDDING me???" Attrition asked.
"DO IT!!! Clear the area! We'll be fine! Just don't forget about me for too long!" I said. "That's an ORDER! Make your way out of here, and I'll send you my coordinates as soon as possible!"
There was no way that I was going to make it to 8th and State in the short amount of time that I had left. I was just going to have to grab the kid and hole myself up in a tiny sanctuary for a short while until the Ark could find a way to send out a rescue team for me at a later time. That was the only sane course of action that I could come up with as I rounded the corner and saw the boy I was chasing running at top speed in an attempt to get away from me.
This wasn't a game anymore. The Nosferatu horde was already upon us, and I drew both of my electro swords to defend myself as I tried to keep the kid in my line of sight.
An ear piercing shriek echoed off the walls of a nearby alley as two of those demonic beasts charged at me, eyes glowing red, salivating with a lust for blood. I had to duck down to avoid their vicious swipes from taking my head clear off of my shoulders! I fell forward and swiftly rolled under their attacks to get back on my feet. The sensors in my cyber suit were going WILD with activity as they detected more and more hostiles moving in from all sides. I spun around to slice one of the Nosferatu vamps open at the belly, and kept spinning to cut the legs out from under another one. Two more approached, and I went into a desperate windmill, cutting and slicing every bit of them that I could, defending myself to the best of my ability. There were more than I expected, and I started to wonder if this was all a big mistake after all.
I felt two of the monstrous creatures charge me from behind, knocking me halfway across the street before I was able to catch my breath. I spung back up to my feet, and assumed a battle stance as the tech in my mask targeted all of the threats before me, calculating the best course of action by figuring out my priorities in terms of handling them all. It looks like I only had a 17% chance of survival...but I guess it's better than nothing. Right?
I jumped forward and took on the massive crowd of vampires with the fury of an angry deity! Hot splashes of blood spraying all over my armor as I cut them down, left and right. A few of them got their punches in and tried to attack my legs to get me down on the ground, but I just kept spinning around with my blades drawn, slashing at their vulnerable flesh until they were too wounded to press their attack any further. Limbs were falling to the concrete, screams being shouted up to the heavens above, but even though my energy reserves were beginning to run low, I didn't plan to go down without the kind of fight that other soldiers were sure to talk about for years to come. You want me? Come get me!!! And know that you're going to have to EARN the life you take from me! Fucking filthy animals!!!
I used my swords to cut both arms off of one of the vamps, kicking it in the chest so it slammed backwards into two of its cohorts. I spun around to cut the head clear off the shoulders of the monster standing behind me. I could feel another one charging from behind, and backflipped over him to get out of his path, slicing his back and shoulders wide open before bring my foot around to round house another vampire to the ground. My suit was already wearing down in its battery life, but I didn't pay that any attention. I just kept fighting. Two more Nosferatus went down. Then another one. Then three more. Then five more! They couldn't stop me. I was outnumbered and struggling with fatigue, but I wasn't about to let them take me down. Not like this.
I could hear more of the ravenous horde coming, and as I looked down both ends of the street...I could see a giant mass of twisted flesh heading my way. Their terrifying screams flooding the air like the unrestricted howls of banshees in torment. And even though I had the fire and fury within me to fight off the attackers that I was currently dealing with...I knew that what was headed my way was going to be way too much for me to deal with. My cyber suit even began to give me a power warning as it ran low on juice. And it was time for me to brace for impact, and perhaps embrace the inevitability of a painful demise. The truth was staring me right in the face now...and I wasn't going to make it out of this war zone alive.
It was my own fault though. I disobeyed orders, and I took a risk that I probably shouldn't have...all for the sake of saving one lone boy in the midst of this urban horror. I should have known better. But, in the end...for what it's worth...
...I have no regrets.
I spent my remaining energy on boosting my electro swords to full power, the sizzle and crackling of lethal strength coursing through the heated blades as they prepared to assist me in my last stand. And then...just as the running crowd of monstrosities were close enough to rip me apart, I saw them being electrocuted from above, crying out as they shivered and twitched and fell to their knees in agonizing pain.
That's when I looked up and saw Alicia, her Attrition suit rushing in and slamming down onto the street in front of me, creating a painful barrier between me and the creatures attempting to devour me whole.
Sonic waves disrupted the ground beneath my feet, and I saw Mara in the HeriTech suit focusing her energies on the ground, and creating a perimiter of safety around me. And from the rooftop above, BLASTphemy set down his tripod and began firing an entire arsenal of heavy ammunition into the crowd of Nosferatus, ripping them to pieces right in front of us! His gunfire was seriously splattering them to pieces, and he had no problems cutting them down, four or five enemies at a time! The calvary was here...and they didn't come to play around!
My entire squad moved in to take on the approaching threat, and even though we were overwhelmed with attackers, they didn't flinch when it came to fending them off. "I thought I told you guys to get OUT of here!" I shouted, using my swords to nearly cut a Nosferatu in half!
"Yeah...we figured that was just an offbeat part of your wacky sense of humor, boss man!" Exorcyst said, using his high powered chains to wrap around the throats of two vamps and yank them back down to the ground for me to split them wide open.
"We all go home, or nobody goes home! That's the rule, right?" HeriTech shouted.
Hell-Razor yelled, "HeriTech! On your left, babe!" And she was able to dodge JUST in time for two of his razor sharp discs to fly over her shoulder and past her head to curve around and cut the throats of the two monsters in front of her.
"A little more warning might be nice, Hell-Razor!" She said.
"You'll be alright! Just keep your head up!"
We all went into survival mode, the entire squad slaying these creatures a dozen at a time. A murderous dance that would have impressed even the most battle worn sergeants in our sector. It got to the point where the blood being spilled on the ground was almost slippery, even in our battle mech uniforms. But I still had a mission to complete. And when I saw the boy I was chasing watching our squad cut down an entire horde of Nosferatus without much effort at all...I decided to make this entire shit show worth the pain and anguish that it caused.
My team had gone against their orders, and missed the evacuation protocol on purpose...just to help me fight off the imminent threat and put faith in the idea that what I was doing was ultimately going to be worth the risk. I didn't want to let them down. So I dashed in the direction of this loner boy and took a hold of his arm before he had the chance to get away from me again.
"What are you doing??? LET ME GO!!!" He screamed, but I didn't give him the chance to say much more.
My suit gave him a rather painful shock as I diverted my limited reserves towards knocking him unconscious. It wasn't my intention to hurt him but it was clear that he had no plans of coming along with us peacefully. So....sorry, kid. It looks like we're going to have to do this the hard way.
As he fell, limp, to the ground...I thought about what he said earlier. 'Justin is truth! Justin is light! Long live the Vampire Dawn!' What does that even mean? Who is Justin? And what did he have to do with the Vampire Dawn? It's talk like that that started this massive war in the first place. When we get him back to the Ark, I'm going to be the first to question him on this.
Because there seems to be a loyal cult surrounding this 'Justin' vampire, and we haven't been able to figure out how it works just yet. But, once we fight our way out of this hornet's nest, we'll get to the bottom of this. Believe me.