January 9th, 2020

_War Party_ part 26

***

Then the windows of the sandwich shop blew in, the building jerked and creaked. Ice grabbed his backpack and joined the other lunchers heading for the exit.

A few cuts and bleeding, but it looked like everyone had been looking at the screen. Scalps cut, yes. Faces and eyes, no.

He elbowed his way through the door and eeled through the crowd milling around on the sidewalk.

A wreck in the intersection to the west. The people abandoning their wrecked cars and running. Other people running. Frantic honking and loud engine noises beyond. Ice shrugged on his backpack and trotted forward, dodging fleeing pedestrians. On the far side of the wreck, a car scrapped through an inadequate space and roared off to the north.

The next car to try, got stuck.

What the hell?

He climbed, up on the wreck and looked west toward the climbing smoke.

A line of stalled cars, people abandoning them . . . a tank reared up behind one, driving over it as it collapsed, a woman throwing a child out the window . . .

Ice sliced across the tank, pushed up and back, slid, pulled power and anchored the push! Under and up! The tank slid back and crashed down again.

The woman crawled out of the car and ran to scoop up the child. And kept running.

Smart lady.

Ice slid off the wreck and ran toward the tank. More tanks beyond it. These with an infantry escort.

Metal arms, rifles, bald head with metal plates, one metal and glass eye piece, each.

Just like Mom saw, and helped defeat . . .

Ice pulled power, and anchored physical and energy shields ahead of himself. Then reached mentally for Dog.

:: Cyborgs with tanks on the west side. Get on the traffic cams and find out where they are coming from. There may be more than one gate, so get everyone looking wide. ::

:: Shit!. Right. Don’t get killed without me! ::

:: Have little faith, here! :: he shrugged off his back pack and slung it through the broken window of the nearest store.

Ice trotted forward. No use wasting energy on distance shots . . . and there are still people in these buildings. Shield in tight, flow a thin blade off each hand and . . . go!

The first tanks and escorts were a brutal slaughter.

Then he was knocked flat by a hard slice to his shield. He rolled to his feet hardening his shields. A man in black, no cyborg parts visible. Pulling power and throwing a fireball. Ice pulled power from it, shoved it into the ground as fast as he could, added a mental shield . . .

Dammit, which shield do I drop so I also throw a spell?

A boom behind him. A Cyborg flopped limply to the ground to his right.

“I’ll hit the magician with bullets, you do the magic.” Keiq’s voice behind him. Calm and unbothered as her gun roared again, and the magician staggered.

Ice hit him with sleep, heat, hiccup, a fireball.

A ping as Keiq fire the last shot in her clip.

Ice threw a hard slice that caught the magician dropping his physical shield to throw his own slice.

Blood and gore . . .

Ice looked back at Keiq. In full black body armor, helmet, and visor. Two rifles slung, one in hand, bandoliers with clips . . .

“Damn. You look good in black. Let’s go find their gate.” He turned and galloped past the late magician, and she caught up with him as he slowed to pull power and trash a dozen Cyborgs and the tank behind them.

“You think they have an open gate?” She raised her gun and fired three times.

“Several, more likely. One gate limits how fast and how many men and weapons they can get through” Ice felt the heat of the gun barrel, and pulled just a little, not wanting to cool it too quickly.

A quick slice through a tank . . . “And there it is.”

With a tank coming through . . . A diagonal slice to take off the sprocket, front driving wheel, and track.

It slewed, hit the edge of the dimensional phenomenon, and shredded explosively as the gate disappeared.

Shrapnel bounced off his shield. He jumped to get in front of Keiq, but she had a shield of her own, and laughed at him. “Mind yourself, you maniac!”

Ice grinned and ran across to where the gate had been. A ramp, no doubt matching one on the far side to elevate the tanks enough that their wide tracks could easily get through the gate.

On the ground behind the gate, a long shiny plate.

A beacon.

It spat sparks and snapped as he sliced it.

“Ice? We’ve got some injured Cyborgs. Shoot them?”

He spun, but they were all in pretty bad shape. He rolled a stun spell across the street. And they all went limp.

:: Dog? I’ve closed the gate and sliced up their beacon, on Twenty-first Street, west of Turner. Where else do I need to go? ::

:: Yeah, we caught that flash. The Black Horse is heading for the other three, but the one to the south of you has the most equipment through. It looks like that gate is on Two-twenty-seven, somewhere between Midnight and the West-side Bypass. ::

:: Right. I’ll see if I can get there. ::

“Keiq, you catch that.”

Wide-eyes behind the face shield. “Yes! How can you telepath that far?”

He grinned. “C’mon, let’s see if we can find a car.”

He jogged back down the street, plenty of sirens, but injured people all over, trying to get away . . . The hospitals are going to be overwhelmed.

He spotted the broken window he’d tossed his pack through, reached in and grabbed it. Focused on the shaky barrel of a gun.

“Just getting my pack, sir.” He kept his voice soft . . . then the store registered. “Oh, a liquor store. That’s exactly what we need. Umm, sir? If you would point that somewhere else, I need to buy a whole bunch of cheap wine.”

The old man lowered the shotgun. “I . . . those were Cyborgs!”

“Yes.” Ice fished in the pack for the cash cards . . . “Here’s a fifty. Can you hand out some of those boxes?”

Keiq poked him. “What are you doing?”

“Breaking some laws, no doubt.” Ice looked over the street. “Is there anyone here with any medical skills at all?”

“I’m a nurse.” A sweet-looking middle-aged woman.

A bulky young man looked around. “Orderly at the hospital . . . what are you doing?”

Ice popped the pour spouts on all the boxes, and pulled out his bottle of wine. “Comet Fall Joy Juice. Distribute as needed, please.”

The liquor store owned produced stacks of plastic glasses as Ice turned away and headed east, zeroing in on a familiar voice.

“As you can see, this is an actual Cyborg. I apologize for all the blood, but you need to see and understand who is attacking us. And over here we have a small tank—it’s obviously sized to fit through a gate, and One only knows how many people it crushed, as you see it was driving right over this one . . .”

“Noon! Have you got that dune buggy along?”

“Ice! And, er, whoever you friend is, did you do this?”

“Yes, here, and I closed the gate that was further west, but there are three more gates, and we need to get to them.”

The poor camera man, already looking horrified, gulped.

Noon, of course, grinned. “Yes! Let’s go!”