The helicopter containing Squad Beta touched down on the narrow roof of an old townhouse and the SWAT team inside disembarked, fanning to the roof edge.
Lillian and Curtis took up position on the lip of the roof with their sniper rifles while the others started to descend through the building, smashing furniture to make stakes of their own. On the roof, Curtis spotted movement in the streets and pointed. “There!” There was a flash of black cloth as the three remaining agents from Team Alpha sped past, then the little beastly children ran into view. Curtis and Lillian opened fire, alternating shots, keeping up the rate of impact to give the investigators time to pull ahead. The creatures screamed as the bullets pummelled them; shot after shot after shot, as meanwhile, below, the SWAT team finished fashioning stakes then ran for the stairs.
Down at street level, Kate, Brock and Annie were almost back on the road at the far side of the ruins; only yards away from the townhouse. But two of the children were upon them. The women started firing again, stunning the things while Brock reached for his stake. One of the children shook off its injuries and leapt for him, slashing the front of his shirt, but he drove the stake through its bony chest and into its heart. For a second, it only blinked, perplexed, then its skin bubbled, liquefying. Inside, its bones cracked and crumpled and then the entire creature erupted screaming into a vomiting fountain of black excrescence.
Brock and Annie shared a moment of triumph. Then the second child leapt onto Annie’s back, knocking her forward off her feet. Simultaneously, a shrieking harridan in a long red dress with beautiful but unearthly smooth skin emerged from the shadows behind them, wielding a pair of lethal daggers. She whirled the blades, charging toward Kate, who could only parry and fall back, using her pistol to hamper her pursuit.
The dark lord was on his feet now, stalking toward the women. They were surrounded, not even realising he was approaching from behind.
Lillian put a call across the com for them all to withdraw to the chopper but Brett snapped back a “No.” He kicked the back of the female’s knees then plunged a stake between her shoulder blades. “Keep up the rate of fire!” he cried.
Every remaining agent blasted at the creatures that were left, obliterating their faces.
“Keep it up!”
The remaining things screeched, flailing out with their claws.
“Now stake them! Fast!”
The bullets stopped flying and every agent with a stake ran forward. The creatures were regenerating with lightning speed but it wasn’t fast enough. Every one of them was reduced to bubbling goo as the stakes hit home.
Except for the dark lord. His taloned claw closed around Brett’s neck and he smiled. Then brett pressed hi pistol barrel into the creature’s eye and pulled the trigger. As it flailed back he jammed his stake into the things chest and stepped back.
The last of them roared and screamed and then fell silent.
Each agent looked to their closest number; all of them utterly stunned by what had just happened.
“Treat the environment as extremely hostile.”
The words came back to each of them now. They looked around them at the dark city stretching away and they realised, each one of them, that the warning had been an understatement.