Ignoring the scream, I checked the vampire I’d staked. She’d slumped and stopped moving. For lack of any reason to think otherwise, I decided to assume she was down and turned to face her partner.
That turned out to either be a bad move or one that saved my life.
As I turned, I saw the other mech’s right arm move and even though I knew I’d damaged that arm, I used the implant to fire off the directional rockets and send me sideways into the air, giving me a second or two of movement to the left before sending me to the right.
Between the implant and my own consciousness, the world seemed to slow as the bullets sprayed across the parking lot, one hitting his partner on ground, sending a spurt of blood into the air, others taking chunks out of the asphalt, while three more hit my armor.
One hit a directional rocket, throwing off the suit’s steering. The rocket shut down almost as his happened, but not before turning me completely around. I spun two more times before I got it under control, but that wasn’t all.
My HUD showed that the other two bullets had hit as well, one of them had sunk a good three inches into the right side of my armor. Had I been wearing the Rocket suit, it would have sunk at least two inches into my leg.
If I’d been that unlucky, I might be bleeding out too quickly for my suit’s first aid to help.
The third bullet had shattered the paralysis gun under my left arm—so none of that for a little while. My suit would repair itself, but the paralysis gun was complicated. It would be slower than I wanted.
I wondered how he was aiming and a mental replay from the implant told me what I expected. Whoever designed the vampire’s armor had duplicated my armor’s ability to self-repair. Not for the first time in my life, I wondered who supplied Syndicate L with their powered armor and mecha.
Copying my tech might not be as challenging as reverse engineering alien tech, but it wasn’t easy. The suit’s armor used elements of alien materials and techniques. Whoever it was, they knew what they were doing.
Someday I wanted to meet them.
To live until then, I needed to survive the next few seconds. I took evasive action, flying forward toward him, jerking in one direction and then another and adjusting on the fly.
With the damage to one of the rockets, it felt a little sticky as the direction changes came a touch slower than I expected, but they were working—mostly. The vampire was firing his weapons but wasn’t landing any hits, at least not any that hurt.
Superhuman reflexes must not be one of the side effects of vampirism for these people. I was fine with that.
Jinking to my left as I reached him, he might have thought that I was going around him. At least that’s what I wanted him to think, but the V4 suit’s arms were longer than the Rocket suit’s and I reached out, grabbing his left leg and dragging him behind me.
The flames and, more relevant, the thrust from his rocket pack didn’t slow me down. Better, he panicked, noticing, I assume, the streetlight ahead of us and turned his rocket pack up to full, doing his best to turn in one direction and then another, attempting to throw us off course.
Unfortunately for him, mass, momentum, the shortness of the distance, and my directional software’s ability to adjust combined to throw him into the streetlight less than a second after he noticed it.
I may have already said this, but the one good thing about fighting the undead is at least you don’t have to worry about killing them.
When I swung him into the streetlight, it would have. The armor shattered, pieces of it broke off, falling to the ground. The rocket pack broke, releasing its fuel, a jelly-like goo that resembled my own fuel.
The streetlight didn’t do very well in the collision either, cracking and falling over in a shower of sparks. Also, the light shattered, surprising no one.
The annoying thing though, was that he didn’t go down. In one sense, that’s not a surprise. Streetlights aren’t among the classic ways to kill vampires, but I expected to get a bit more out of it.
It went like this. I let go of the vampire as I slammed him into the streetlight. My armor’s inertial dampers slowed my armor to a speed I could handle as I turned off my rockets and touched down to the ground. Turning around to face him with the momentum I had left, I did it in time for him to fire off more bullets. Two more ricocheted off my armor. The third penetrated the V4 suit’s inner thigh, destroying the channel that brought fuel to the rockets on my right leg’s boot and the directional rockets on that leg.
Then he turned into a mist and floated through the night toward Book Tower. The remains of his armor and guns dropped to the ground, abandoned.
I smashed his guns, shattering the barrels by hitting them against the ground in two quick strikes. This was in no way a gesture of frustration. It was me making sure that people couldn’t hurt themselves.
It had nothing to do with being unable to fly or use my paralysis gun until the repair systems finished several minutes from now.
Putting his left arm gun down, I ran toward Book Tower, trying to connect to Mateo and Vincent over the comm.