Through my observation bots, I watched Bloodmaiden take to the air. I knew she could fly, but from her motion, it looked more like she’d jumped. One leg bent in a step, and the other straight, her pose reminded me of early Superman comics, and how Jaclyn jumped.
If she used her ability to fly to cushion her landing, I didn’t notice it. Her boots sank into the ground next to Jaclyn.
She’d jumped over the building. I knew she wasn’t this strong normally.
All the surviving soldiers stared as Bloodmaiden started talking in a harsh, consonant filled language that they obviously understood. I’d never heard it in my life.
One of them replied, and let his rifle fall to the ground. The rest began to follow his lead.
Bloodmaiden smiled. Her teeth were pointed like a carnivore’s–very similar to Haley’s when she transformed. “They’ve surrendered.”
“Good,” I began, but then I realized that I couldn’t see the Xiniti’s body on the ground. I thought about where it could be, and knew that it had to be inside the building.
Worse, if it wanted to, it had had time to kill everyone inside by now. I felt sick.
What could I do next? I needed to know if they were dead or not. I needed Rachel, or no, wait, another observation bot.
A bot would be faster.
I fired one off, but it didn’t matter. A silvery blur rushed out of the front door, stopping in front of Bloodmaiden, swiping across her abdomen with one silvery arm.
I didn’t see its hand connect, but blood flew through the air, spattering the ground in front of her.
She fell over, bleeding through slices in her armor.
The Xiniti turned toward Jaclyn before I even realized that Bloodmaiden was falling. I couldn’t give her any warning. I had no time to think, hope, or fear what would happen next.
All I knew was that Jaclyn became a blur of purple and brown, and the Xiniti found itself flying backward across the clearing. It hit a tree, cracking the trunk.
At that point, you’d have expected it to be dead, but it stood up, and blurred again, running toward me.
I probably wouldn’t have had time to respond except that I’d fired off five killbots when I realized that it was getting up. As I did, I worried that I was wasting bots, but the feeling didn’t last.
The Xiniti slowed and started jerking from right to left, backwards and forwards, but still managing to cover half the distance between the trees and building in less time than I would have.
It was dodging the bots, or at least it seemed to be.
Replaying its last run showed that its movements became more erratic as the bots got closer and closer and its escapes became a nearer thing.
Even in slow motion, I wasn’t sure how it avoided some of them. It seemed to slide between them, but how do you do that when three of the five appear to be just about ready to enter your body?
I don’t know how it died.
Dodging must have slowed it down enough for Cassie to get it in her gun’s crosshairs. So, at the same moment a ball of flame exploded out of its side, a white beam pierced its head.
It fell, turning into barely recognizable silvery goo, and burned biological fragments.
I stared at it, waiting for something. I didn’t know what. Maybe I couldn’t quite believe it was dead. Maybe I needed a moment to process all that had happened in the brief time it had fought.
Grandpa had told me that the Xiniti normally lived and fought in packs. I didn’t like thinking how this fight might have gone if there had been even one more of them.
I couldn’t say I found the way it disappeared when the fight started particularly impressive though. The observation bot I’d fired off showed that Dr. Griffin’s family and staff were still alive, so it hadn’t decided to simply kill them.
Bolting could be something Xiniti typically did during an attack, or maybe it was something Xiniti operating alone did?
As I decided that I’d be best off figuring it out later, Bloodmaiden spoke over the comm.
“Rocket?” Her voice sounded weak and raspy. “I need help.”
I turned toward her. She held her hand over the slices the Xiniti had made in her armor. She seemed to have gotten at least partial control of her bleeding.
Blood wasn’t flowing from the wound. Red lines glowed across the plate armor that covered her abdomen.
She’d need a lot of help. Damaged abdominal muscles would make it hard to breathe, and the intestines behind them held a lot of things that you never wanted to make it out of your intestines.
I called Agent Lim.
“Bloodmaiden’s down,” I told him as he answered. “We’ll need to get Paladin over here or send her to him.”
Indistinguishable voices ran on the background of Lim’s connection, “How bad?” His voice sounded distant, distracted.
Trying not to say it loud enough for Bloodmaiden to hear, I told Lim. “I’d bet it’ll kill her. I don’t know how soon.”
“Shit,” Lim muttered. “She’s not the only one either. Portal will open up a gate to your Jenny, and we’ll bring her through.”
“We’ve also got prisoners.” I glanced over at Izzy and Jaclyn. Having taken the soldiers’ weapons, they stood on opposite sides of the group. The prisoners lay face down on the ground.
Cassie had come out of the woods, and after she’d taken a look at the Xiniti, she’d joined the rest of us.
“Prisoners?” Lim didn’t sound distracted at all. “How did you manage that?”
“I think they lost a lot of confidence after we took the ships out. Plus, I’m guessing Bloodmaiden can speak the language of anything she kills, so she translated.”
“No kidding,” Lim said. “We don’t have any official cells, but we’ll figure something out. NYPD’s got more metahuman containment cells than any other police department in the country.”
Some kind of noise rumbled in the background of the connection. Was it static? An explosion?
“Sorry,” Lim continued, “I’ve got to go, but take a break while you’re waiting for Portal, and find out what Griffin and company were working on.”
“Sure,” I said.
Lim hung up.