As I ran, I glanced over at the train station. A bus was parked under the pavilion and a small crowd stood near it, all of them looking in my direction.
I pointed back at the two shattered sets of powered armor and the vampire on the ground. “She’s a vampire. Whatever you do, don’t pull out the stake!”
If they replied, I didn’t hear them. I didn’t know that she’d revive if they pulled out the stake, but better safe than sorry. The sheer variety of vampires in this mess argued that caution was a good trait.
Looking up at Book Tower, I considered my plan of attack. Running up the stairs sounded like a good first step. If I were lucky, maybe I’d run up the same stairway they did.
“Where are you guys now?” I asked into the comm when my HUD showed the connection.
Mateo replied, “The 21st story. We’ve had to dodge a couple groups of Syndicate L people. I think they’re setting up defenses, but I’m not sure. Either way, I don’t think they were looking for us. What you’re doing is working. So, look out on your way up. If they’re preparing for anyone, they’re preparing for you.”
Running down the street toward the front of Book Tower, I said, “The Syndicate L people. Were they human or vampires? I just fought Syndicate L people that had been turned.”
Vincent broke in, “They didn’t smell dead. I’d say human.”
“Hmmn,” Mateo muttered. “Nothing undead showed up when I looked at them through the mask, but we were hiding, so I didn’t see all of them.”
I turned the corner and found myself back at the front door, ornate decorations around the doorway and above it. For a moment, I wondered if I should try to scale the outside of the building, but decided not to. There was no guarantee that my rockets would be working again by the time someone decided to throw me off.
That meant I might be setting myself to fight all the way up the tower, but the V4 suit wasn’t meant for stealth.
Deciding that I couldn’t wait any longer, I pulled the door open and stepped inside, ducking so that I didn’t hit my helmet on the top of the doorway.
The inside was a mix of old and new. On the one hand, there were white pillars and painted ceilings that in my peripheral vision appeared to show people standing around in a style I associated with Greek pottery. On the other, some ceilings opened up to metal beams and new wiring. Plywood kept in place by orange duct tape covered what I assumed were holes in the concrete floor.
Most importantly, no one tried to shoot me.
Ignoring the elevators, all of which were white with gold paint, I looked around until I found the stairwell past the elevators.
Like the lobby, the stairwell and been stripped down to the concrete. It still had gold chandeliers and an ornate iron-wrought railing, though.
Reminding myself not to look at the architecture, I ran up the stairs, thinking that it was a little odd that the police hadn’t shown up yet. Given that Barrington’s vampires controlled enough cops to put Unity HQ under siege, you’d think that he’d have pulled in help by now.
Book Tower couldn’t be far from the Police Department.
I took a moment to look out of one of the windows. The glass was hazy with dust from construction and years of disuse, but I didn’t see any lights from cars approaching the building.
Given that Barrington controlled the local Syndicate L and to some degree the media, he might have other resources he could call in. If Syndicate L had more powered armor like I’d just fought, this would not be a good situation.
Okay, I reminded myself, people are depending on you. Time to move. No time to think.
I started running up the stairs, using my suit’s sensors to throw information into my HUD and hope that I’d still notice important details. I concentrated on throwing myself into the flow of information, watching for movement, and ready to act.
I ran up a few floors like that and my comm started flashing in my HUD.
I stopped on a landing in between floors, opened the connection, and heard Haley’s voice, “Are you okay?”
It took me a moment to turn her words into something that made sense with the blood pounding in my head from the last few minutes of combat, “Uh… Sure. Kind of.”
She sighed, “HQ got a call from the Michigan Heroes Alliance saying V4 needed help. No one was up in Michigan, so I got it here in Colorado. What’s going on?”
How could I say this quickly? “Detroit’s Syndicate L group’s been taken over by vampires.”
“You’re not fighting them alone, are you?”
“No,” I felt myself shaking my head. “I’m with Blue Mask and Vincent, you know, the talking hamster.”
“Oh,” her voice trailed off. “What about Unity and Working Man?”
“Don’t know. Working Man’s not around right now and neither is most of Unity except for a couple of people who are controlled by the vampires.”
“Okay,” Haley’s voice became more businesslike. “There’s no chance I’ll be able to get there in time. Bloodmaiden, Troll, and Red Hex said they’ll be able to teleport. I’m going to call them.”
I felt a little tension go out of me at that. “That’s good. And thanks. I wish you were here.”
“So do I. Don’t die, okay?”
We hung up and I took another look out the window, reminding myself as I did that I should keep going.
Except, there were lights now, some of them in the air and others on the ground. I couldn’t see them through the haze, but none of them were the police’s red and blue flashing lights.