More to the point, I could answer the question of why there was even any kind of fight going on. With Marcus and Sydney raining down lasers from above and Amy, Cassie and Vaughn getting out of that side of the van, they had a lot of firepower to work with.
In the moment that I looked over there, I fully understood why the fight was still going. Worse, it was coming for us.
Amothel fought Necromancer Thing, but not directly. She couldn’t get near her, and neither could anyone else.
Smokey figures surrounded Necromancer Thing, making her disappear amid a cloud of gray.
The smokey figures weren’t the worst of it. The worst of came when the smokey figures got a distance from her and solidified.
They were students.
They weren’t recent students. They wore clothes from every era of Grand Lake University’s history—sweaters with a big letter “G” on them, fur coats and odd hats. Some of the men wore old military uniforms.
Almost all the people in the oldest clothes were men, but women and men both appeared wearing clothes from the 50s onward.
It would have been bad enough that Necromancer Thing appeared to be creating bodies for the souls of the dead, but that wasn’t all. She’d created monsters. At best the faces were jagged toothed, and bug eyed, but were less odd than grotesque, with mouths that reminded me of lamprey or multi-faceted eyes like bugs.
Cassie burned them down with the gun, sometimes two or three at a time when her line of fire wasn’t close to Amy or Vaughn.
Unlike Cassie, I couldn’t connect telepathically to her gun’s AI, but something about the way it burned the monsters into ashes struck me as joyful.
Amy took them out one by one, stabbing them with her spear. They shriveled and turned to dust.
Vaughn’s lightning strikes started them burning. They shriveled up while still walking and fighting. Sometimes Vaughn would hit them with wind, blowing a few away from the main group and letting Sydney or Marcus burn them down with lasers from the sky.
The anti-personnel lasers weren’t perfectly careful about what they targeted, more of a shotgun than a sniper.
Marcus was doing the right thing. Spraying laser fire into the crowd could easily hit one of us.
All the same, I didn’t envy whoever worked on Grand Lake University’s grounds crew. They had a job waiting for them tomorrow—assuming we all survived.
Meanwhile Amothel hacked at the creatures with her sword, sometimes taking to the the air to avoid being surrounded.
Amy stabbed a shark toothed hippie wearing a tie dye t-shirt. It shriveled into dust. “We need to end this before we get tired. Concentrate our fire on clearing a path through. Shift and Railgun, keep Philo off us.”
I checked Latoya and Jillian on the ground, deciding that it couldn’t hurt, I hit them with a couple more goobots.
Both of them looked back at me with the head of The Thing That Eats. “It’s hopeless. We’ll infect everyone.”
I ignored them, running after Amy, Cassie, Rod and Samita along with me.
Vaughn stayed in the air, helping from above.
As we began our charge, I tapped HQ’s comm icon in my HUD. “Watch for Alden. If you see him, tell Vaughn. He’s got a chance.”
“Got it,” Haley said.
Rod ran faster than Amy—than any of us. His strides were at least twice ours, so he took the lead position.
I don’t know how a ghost animating a monstrous human-like shell experiences a charge led by troll, but if the troll’s on your side, it’s the best kind of charge.
At more than twice the size of any of them, Rod kicked them like soccer balls, crushed them under his feet, smacked them with his hands and left nothing (un)living in reach.
Following close behind him, I burned them with my laser, used a couple boombots to clear particularly dense spots, and even punched a 60s era football player.
He exploded into dust.
We pierced the mass of ghosts, finally reaching the middle. Behind a smokey wall of grayish figures, Necromancer Thing stood, loosing more figures from her hands even as we came closer.
The Thing smiled at us, showing teeth practically across the entire width if it’s head. “You’ve reached the beginning of the end. Even if you slay me, I’ve already won.”
Rod growled, tensing as if he were about to leap on Necromancer Thing. But then The Thing gurgled, and the Graffiti Knight’s metal staff poked through the side of its cheek. The Thing shrieked as the Graffiti Knight ripped all the way through.
He landed on the ground next to Necromancer Thing, dripping saliva and blood, pausing only to whirl around and begin to beat the creature.