Forty-one minutes left.
Heard metal sing out next to me, saw Mouse step forward, her pair of wakizashis--Japanese short swords--at the ready, blades gleaming under the lights of the shopping arcade.
"I got this," Mouse said to me, a toothy grin creasing her face.
"Time," I said, the FAL still raised.
"Done in two," she said and stepped to the edge of the light-well.
I dropped the FAL's barrel to low-ready.
The Dragons drew weapons--sais, nunchakus, butterfly swords--and dropped into fighting stances.
Mouse took up a fighting crouch. "Let's dance," she said to the four Dragons.
And the Dragons struck, rushing Mouse from two directions.
Mouse simply waited until they closed.
Then she moved, going to boost, almost too quick to watch, just a flurry of motion and a twirl of metal, cutting through the Dragons as if they were standing still, blood fountaining around her.
Less than two minutes later, Mouse stood over four dead bodies, her wakizashis at her sides, their blades dripping crimson.
She looked over her shoulder at me and smiled. She was about to say something when her expression changed.
I whirled, saw the hugely muscled Trog closing on me, less than a meter and half away, a massive spiked club raised overhead.
Brought the FAL up and squeezed the trigger, held it down.
The rifle roared and bucked upward, the rounds stitching up the Trog's torso toward his head, chest cratering and geysering blood, his body jerking and convulsing under the impact until his face exploded, spraying bone and gore.
Rolled left as the Trog let go of the club and pitched forward face-first. He hit the ground where I had been with a wet sloppy crunch, bounced, and went still.
I was on my back, looking up the light-well on our left, when I saw more figures rappeling down toward us from about halfway up the low block.
"Incoming," I said, scrambling to my feet, and reloading the FAL. "I make ten."
"I see them," said Mouse. "Fuck."
Heard her sheath the wakizashis and reload the M4.
Then: a howling war cry from outside.
Saw a line of Trogs with weapons raised charging toward the building. At least twenty.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck--
Then I spotted it.
"Follow me," I said and bolted for the service stairs.
Thirty meters away.
* * *
Mouse reached the door first and went through.
I skidded to a stop and whirled, the FAL coming up to bear
Ten meters away, six Dragons raced toward me.
I swept fire at them and they went down, sprawling.
Turned and went through the door and up the first flight of stairs.
And heard Mouse call out from above.
Spotted Mouse leaning over the banister two floors up and gesturing at me.
I sprinted up the stairs, taking two at a time, then burst through the door onto the fourth level.
And came face-to-face with Mouse.
And a familiar-looking woman with a thick halo of blond curls.
(to be continued...)