Jumping over the tentacles, Vincent dove into the room, but not before drawing two curved knives which he used to chop at the tentacles that tried to grab him even as he landed.
Knives were his weapon, I remembered. I’d always wondered why, but this didn’t seem the time to ask.
Stopping out of reach of the tentacles, Amy muttered, “Don’t go in before we know what this thing is—“
I did stop, but I wasn’t listening. Instead, I was getting an unasked for data dump from the depths of my implant’s database. Sudden visions of blood red blobs with tentacles and multiple mouths, some without teeth, but most with disjointed, unmatched teeth set in layers around circular mouths.
Along with the visuals came the words:
Excerpted from the Encyclopedia Extra-Galactica
The earliest mentions of the Xosk place them at the core of the X.79 galaxy. Linked to Artificer ruins found there, the Xosk have since spread to at least five other galaxies, causing the extinction of at least fifty spacefaring species. Their ability to drain psychic energy from their victims has prompted advancement in the area of psychic defense technology in multiple civilizations. Despite being a genderless species with asexual reproduction, they have complex cultural beliefs about reproduction and social hierarchy…
After that I stopped paying full attention, shouting, “Lovecraftian, psychic space vampires!” into my comm.
It made sense. It felt like the only kind of vampire we were missing.
“Sure, why not?” Amy pointed the Bloodspear ahead of her and ran for the door. I started after her, picking up speed with every step. I could have blown past her, knocking her out of the way and going through the door first, but that would have been rude, so I stayed behind her.
Some part of my brain whispered that tentacle monsters posed a special risk to anime-themed magical girls, but I kept that to myself. Amy wouldn’t get the cultural reference and I didn’t ever want to explain it to her.
Aside from which, she didn’t have much of a problem as she entered the room.
Stabbing the first tentacle that snaked toward her legs with her spear, Amy’s blow turned it to dust. I didn’t know what exactly she’d done, but given that her spear drained people’s souls/life essence/whatever, the Xosk couldn’t be happy.
In the next second, I knew that I was right.
Coinciding with the second telepathic communication came unbearable pain. I’d never had a migraine, but I guessed that the pain in my head must be something like that. It hurt so badly that I wanted to throw up—except I didn’t want to because I was inside the V4 suit.
Ahead of me, Amy stumbled.
Hoping it would do some good, I pulled energy from the well of energy I’d learned how to tap in the spring. This thing was related to the Artificers and it was an Artificer technique.
It might work. The only bad thing was that if it did, I didn’t have much energy to work with before I hit the bottom of the tank.
Also, I hadn’t ever tried this exactly. I was going to use the energy to juice the mental defenses Daniel set up in my head years ago, the ones he’d drawn inspiration from Lee’s defenses to create, leading to madness on the part of the telepath that tried to break into my mind.
But anyway, the side effect of growing up as the best friend of a telepath was that I had a clue of how to do it. Though I hadn’t known how to do it when he’d set them up, Daniel had taught me how to feel my defenses. Now I sent energy into them, extending them, expanding them, hoping that none of my friends would be affected.
As Amy stumbled, tentacles stretched toward her from all directions, but she never fell, she flew.
In the same moment, the creature began to wail telepathically. I could feel its pain, but it didn’t hurt. Either my defenses took the edge off or it was too involved in its own pain to attack.
Not sure of how long I could keep it up, I took advantage of the moment and followed Amy into the room.
It wasn’t much different in shape from what I’d seen through the suit’s sonic view, but the details mattered. The room was large, taking up most of the building’s floor. It must have been a ballroom at some point in the building’s history. The ceiling was twice the height of the floors below and covered in paintings and golden decorations. Chandeliers hung throughout the room with the biggest in the middle.
The walls of the room were another story. If there were windows, the body of the Xosk covered them. Its uneven blobby mass stretched around the room, thicker in some spots than others, but all mouths and tentacles the entire way around.
Mateo and Vincent fought them to my right, Mateo being pulled in toward a mouth full of uneven teeth half of his height, but he was still fighting, cutting one tentacle after another. Vincent dodged between them, slashing with his knives.
That would have been bad enough, but the middle of the room was worse. It was filled with coffins and with the coffins were vampires, some standing, others sitting on the lid, still others halfway inside as if they’d been about to lay down. I didn’t know how many there were, but more than twenty for sure.
It was near dawn, and no light could get in.
Oh, yeah. We had them right where we wanted them.