Nineteen

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How long will this last?

Scythe-like hands swiped at him, their deadly edges inches away. Gabriel didn't even blink. He had grown numb to the danger they represented long ago. Instead, he merely dropped beneath them, allowing them to pass overhead. Then he lunged upwards in a powerful thrust that sent his blade deep into the creature. It squealed shrilly, its jaws opening wide, emitting a hot spray of saliva and stink. Gabriel spun away from it, not even seeing it fall, for he was already tearing his daggers through a slimeball's ugly face.

Dead. Two more dead. A shadow fell over him. Gabriel dove sideways, tearing his blades free in the process. A huge claw reached down where he'd just been, ripping into the already damaged slimeball.

The claw belonged to one of those large, armored monsters. Without any pause, Gabriel rolled up into a crouch and sprinted over to the large creature's backside. As he went, a slimeball leaped at him but only met the edge of his blades. It hit the ground, spouting black blood and twitching violently.

Another dead. How many more are there?

Gabriel darted in between the large creature's legs, where he hacked violently at the nearest joint. More hot blood splashed across his face and upper body and he grimaced. Instantly, the large creature reeled back with a roar. Gabriel spun around and leaped upwards, planting a foot against the leathery belly to propel himself higher yet. Like a super-powered uppercut, he slammed a blade up through its throat. The creature fell backwards. Gabriel kicked off before it hit the ground, landing in a low crouch.

Also dead. Doesn't matter.

The nearest slimeballs immediately ran for him but were cut down in several shots from Jacobs. They had been the last few of the newest batch to come through the doorway, but there was no time for anyone to catch their breath.

With a terrible burble, the doorway let another trio of scythe-armed creatures through. Gabriel tightened his grip on his blades, aware that to lose them now meant certain death. He forced his tired body into a run, giving a hoarse cry to make sure their attention was rooted on him.

I'll kill them all.

He didn't know how long he'd been fighting. All sense of time had blurred into an endless cycle. Sometimes he had a moment to re-catch his breath. Sometimes it was just one after another. It seemed hours ago when a single scythe monster had made it past him and taken out the rest of the soldiers. Only Jacobs was left now. The man had surrounded himself with the weapons and ammo of his fallen men and had been supporting Gabriel as best he could.

But even that couldn't last.

Gabriel managed to plunge a blade deep into one creature's heart, while twisting away to avoid the claws of the other two. He darted sideways before leaping onto the back of the nearest one.

"Now!" He shouted, even as he gripped its small head and yanked it sideways, forcing it turn in that direction, presenting a clear shot to Jacobs. The man fired once, twice, and with a little geyser of blood, the thing fell.

Gabriel leaped clear, and turned toward the last one. Hissing, it launched itself, scythe arms extended. Gabriel simply moved forward beneath it, almost casually jamming a blade upwards behind him in a reverse grip, tearing through its flesh and finally snagging its heart. The thing collapsed on him.

He shoved it off and wearily got to his feet. His chest ached. His side ached. Every muscle burned with exhaustion. He was beyond exhausted. His head felt fuzzy, and his skin felt like it prickled. He turned to Jacobs, took a step towards him. His leg trembled, then nearly gave out beneath him. Staggering, he barely managed to regain his footing before he fell.

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