30. Cole

"Phone!" I snapped. There was a beep at my shoulder. "Call Z."

By some miracle, the voice command recognition worked over the sound of gunfire and the ambulance siren. As the phone rang, I fired three bolts into the backs of Reapers who'd turned to watch the ambulance's joy ride. Each body crumpled, twitching.

"Hey, Cole, that you?"

"Yea, Zeke." I ducked into an alley before any other Reapers could return fire.

"Excellent. Guess the phone's still working?"

"Zeke, I need you to call the cops. Get them to send everything they have to Archer and Main. The Reapers have turrets set up but the west side is clear."

"That's right near me. How many are there?"

"About thirty, maybe more." The corner of the wall I was sheltering behind exploded in a shower of shattered brick and shrapnel.

"What's going on?"

"Just make the call, Z. I'm a little busy right now."

"You got it. Be careful." He hung up. I gathered a charge in my hand, binding it tightly so it would explode on impact.

Diving from behind the wall, I lobbed the grenade into a group of three more Reapers and rolled to take cover behind a parked SUV. Bits of concrete rubble rained down. My cover vehicle shook as bullets impacted the engine block and passenger side doors. I crouched low and began to drain the batteries of the car behind me.

The next moment, I was flying backward through the air. A bullet must have pierced the fuel tank of the SUV, causing it to explode. I skidded to a halt in the middle of the road with zero cover and incoming fire from my left and right. Time to move.

I sprinted for the far side of the street, running straight toward a Reaper. Stance wide, he was firing his weapon wildly as he pivoted at the waist. I pushed electricity out from my hands into a wall of force, sweeping the car in front of me along the ground to crush the Reaper against the wall. His pinned body slouched but his weapon continued firing. My momentum carried me forward and I leaped from the sidewalk onto the roof of the car, springing up to grab a wide awning.

I swung my leg over the lip of the awning and was beginning to scramble up when the car I'd used as a springboard burst into flames. Smoke billowed upward, engulfing me. The gunfire stopped and I heard Reapers cheering up the street.

I fired a flurry of bolts through the smoke in the direction of the cheering before climbing off the burning remains of the awning. Moving from windowsill to windowsill, I reached the roof and rolled over the edge, panting.

The ambulance siren was still wailing. Anger flared in me at the thought of the Reapers having an ambulance. Ambulances were forces for good, tools for saving lives. These thugs were bent on destroying the city from the inside out and now that they had the perfect Trojan Horse: an ambulance. Surely they had a plan to wreak more havoc by masquerading as good guys. There were too few good guys left for me to let that happen.

With a quick glance over the roof's ledge I saw the ambulance up the street and heading my way. All civilians had long since fled. The quickest way to end this would be with a single massive blast to the ambulance, then go around and pick off the stationary turrets.

I forced as much of my charge into my hands as I could muster. The muscles of my arms quivered. I would have to make this one shot count. The Reapers on the street continued firing, most shots impacting to the left of my position. I slid further, sheltering behind a ventilation duct. It was just high enough that I could peek out from a crouch.

The street below was littered with debris, including the smoldering bodies of the two burning vehicles. Two blocks from me parked cars were being pushed to the side by the ambulance's blunt nose as it wove left and right, horn braying. Just a little closer. My shoulders ached but I held onto the powerful charge, my entire arm vibrating as I tightening my muscles.

I narrowed my eyes and waited. One shot.

The bullet storm from below was dying down. I studied the Reapers' movements. They worked in pairs. One squad had given up firing at me, instead watching the ambulance approach. Several others had split off to circle the building. I would be long gone before any of them managed to climb up. Stopping to pick them off would only give away my position.

The Reapers didn't work as well-trained units but at the same time there was something coherent and coordinated about their movements. This was definitely a directed attack, with a leader. I watched for hand signals and saw very few. Perhaps they were using radios.

The ambulance was a block away and snaking closer. I had enough energy bottled to explode the ambulance on impact. I drew a deep breath, preparing to stand and fire as quickly as I could.