Strictly speaking, all the vampires I’d seen when I’d decided to face the xosk weren’t coming. The implant volunteered that bit of information. It had counted them earlier and counted them again once I turned away from the xosk’s hopefully dead body.
Mateo and Vincent had taken the number of them down from 41 to 23—which was pretty impressive. How they’d done it became obvious as I looked the scene over. Ball bearings were scattered across the floor and as vampires came across them they stopped to count.
As they did, Vincent stabbed them through the chest with one of the thin, knife-like wooden stakes I’d made last night. I’d given twenty or so to Mateo and he must have given them to Vincent. It made sense. The last I’d seen of him, he’d been stabbing vampires with pieces of a broom handle. You’d run out of those pretty quickly.
That isn’t to say that the vampires were stupid. A few of them were picking up ball bearings as they counted them and passing them on to the next vampire near them, saying the number to the next one in line, and rushing toward Vincent and Mateo in a blur.
Of course, they weren’t stupid either.
Mateo ran the closest vampire through with his rapier while Vincent reached out, knocking the ball bearings out of the next vampire’s hands before he could hand them off to the vampire behind him.
The ball bearings fell to the floor and the vampires hissed, diving to the floor to prevent them from rolling too far away.
I turned to Amy, “I’m going to pull the Xosk away from the window and see what happens. Can you help those guys?”
She raised an eyebrow and said, “Sure. Don’t take too long. I don’t know how long they can keep up knocking ball bearings out of their hands and then stabbing them—“
She stopped as the sound of another cascade of metal balls fell to the floor and a vampire gave a scream that turned into a death rattle. She stared, “Okay. They’re good. The women in my head are comparing them to ancient warriors that I’ve never fucking heard of. But anyway, hurry up. Do it.”
I turned and covered the few steps I needed in seconds, reaching the xosk’s body and then facing the challenge of the moment. Where exactly was I going to grab the thing? It went all the way around the room to a height of ten feet or more.
Looking up to where I’d seen the top of a window frame before, I grabbed a handful of tentacles in one hand and stuck my other hand partially into one of its mouths, getting a grip on a tooth in the second layer of teeth.
Then I pulled back, hoping that it wasn’t too heavy for me and also that it was really dead. Sure, the V4 suit could move tons, but there was a lot of xosk. Still, I only had to move the nearest part.
It didn’t come free in an instant. I should have expected that the xosk would have stuck tentacles into crevices in the floor and wall in the same way it had my armor, but my life had been busy since the moment I’d realized it existed.
On the bright side, dead tissue didn’t hold on as well as live aliens. I heard snaps as I pulled it back and it scraped across the floor. I did my best to turn it sideways as I pulled it in, hoping that the sunlight would destroy the whole nest.
I didn’t know where Barrington, their leader was, but if he were in the middle of all the others, we’d only have him to deal with when sunlight burned all the rest away.
I looked up from pulling on the xosk’s remains to see the window. It was disappointing. While the sky looked a touch lighter, I could still see stars in the sky. I checked the time in my HUD. It was past the point where I should be seeing the dawn.
What was going on? Had vampires found a way to block the sun, throwing us all into a world of endless night?
A closer look put a lie to that idea. Though the world seemed to be all night, I could see sunlight hitting the buildings. That prompted another realization that I checked on the HUD.
The GPS location showed what I suspected—we’d fought the xosk on the west side of the tower. The east, of course, was where the sun rose. The sun would be there soon enough, but not yet.
I froze, considering what to do next. Then I gave the xosk’s body one last yank, let go, and flew across the room, relieved to find that the suit’s repair mechanism had cleared out xosk remains well enough that the rockets worked.
Everyone stared upward at me as I flew over the fight and the coffins, landing next to the other side’s piece of the xosk. Giving it the most powerful yank I could, I pulled it away from the east side’s windows, hearing a sound that reminded me of frying bacon as sunlight entered the room.