“How are you doing?” Mateo’s voice sounded in my head. “We’re a few floors in. We haven’t run into anyone, but there are definitely vampires.”
“Busy,” I said. “Two people in powered armor so far. Might be more.”
“Got it,” Mateo said. “Don’t be afraid to retreat or call for more help. We’ll keep you informed of what we’re doing. Do the same.”
And with that, he closed the connection and I stopped listening. The two figures in powered armor were tailing me and gaining—which didn’t surprise me. I’d designed the V4 armor with the idea that it would be bigger and stronger than the Rocket suit, but spend less time in the air.
I wasn’t going to outrun them. The V4 suit’s flight system was designed to help in hand to hand combat. So, despite the suit’s size, the new armor beat any powered armor I’d seen in agility—probably. The system was based on a combination of anti-gravity, inertial dampers, small rockets for directional changes, and making use of the speed of my thought by using the implant for the controls.
In short, it was a complex, untried, experimental system that had the potential to go horribly wrong and this was its first big test.
The people facing me on the other hand? A spray of the suit’s sensors showed me that they were using Rocket tech.
I recognized design elements in the knee joints, the rocket pack on the back, and the shape of the body. What struck me as strange in the moment was that Syndicate L’s designer hadn’t copied my grandfather. He’d copied from me. Those design changes were from the last two years.
Giving the suits a closer look, they still seemed to echo Syndicate L designs that I remembered—wide, transparent face masks for maximum peripheral vision, and the organic look of the underarm automatic rifles.
Peppering me with bullets, the pilots gave me the latest of many illustrations of the fact that getting distracted during combat was a bad idea.
I’d learn that lesson someday.
In the meantime, bullets were hitting my armor, most of them bouncing off. Then a series of three hit my leg and exploded, setting off error messages as the suit started to repair the damage.
I felt the heat. At least one of them had penetrated the suit’s outer layer—which was not supposed to happen.
I needed to end this fight before they blew my leg off or, given the size of the V4 armor, my foot.
Turning around with a speed that should have turned me to paste or at least hurt me, I found myself directly in front of the first attacker.
Through the transparent face mask, the man’s eyes widened, and I knew why. When I’d been testing the tech, I’d watched the early versions of the armor move. They made quick movements that included jerky, stuttering stops.
It didn’t look natural.
I don’t know if it helped my punch. I threw it forward as I finished my turn, the suit’s strength assisted by directional rockets and my opponent’s own momentum.
I hit him at the joint of his right shoulder—my intended target—and pulled back before the momentum from my punch threw him sideways.
As he moved into upward and to my left, twirling and out of control, he only missed the suit behind him by inches. The second suit dodged to the right avoiding him. For a moment neither of them were moving in my direction, giving me time to flashback to details that I thought I’d seen, but wasn’t sure.
First, I’d smashed the shoulder joint. He shouldn’t be able to aim his rifle much at all.
Second, the pilot had a grey complexion and elongated canines but otherwise appeared to be in his forties. He flew well enough that had to have been recently turned.
Even as I began to wonder how I’d stake a vampire wearing powered armor, the second suit shot toward me, firing away. I weaved around, dodging to the degree that I could, but better, weaving enough that I came at the second suit from its side, firing my paralysis weapons and finding that it didn’t show any effect.
So, I punched it, knocking the armor backward and getting a good enough look to notice that the pilot was a female twenty-something with short hair and elongated canines as well.
It was a good punch. She flipped over a couple of times and hit Book Tower, smashing a statue of a naked man.
The statue’s remains dropped toward the sidewalk 38 stories below, shattering, but not hitting anyone. The sidewalks were empty this early in the morning, but that wouldn’t last.
“What is my goal?” I asked myself and answered in my head. I was trying to distract whoever was inside from Mateo and Vincent so that they could get up the tower and we could take Barrington out.
Winning this fight was optional. What I needed to be doing was pissing people off.
I might be out of EMPs, but I had additional missiles and it was time to use them.