Chapter 14

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The full moon was supposed to shine through a clear night sky but smoke from all the gunfire and explosions in the city below smeared all the light away. Zoe looked down from her hundred meter high rooftop as a group of three Knights charged toward an approaching Dannic tank. The sight of three women on foot charging a 60 metric ton armored vehicle would have been comical if they were normal humans. Zoe knew though, from the crystalline glint of their skin, that between the tank and them, the steel would crumple like paper.

She leaped off the roof, shooting a grappling hook from a spool winding around her waist for support. The hook dug into the wall behind her, anchoring her as she descended toward her three targets. With one hand held behind her to keep the cable attaching her to the wall steady, Zoe extended her right arm forward and fired off an incendiary buckshot round. The rounds flattened themselves against the Knights' diamond hard skin, leaving them more or less unscathed. Their relief was short lived, as the gel-like fuel burst into green white flames. It only took seconds before all three women crumpled and fell on the ground, howling in pain as the fire roasted them alive. They fell silent soon afterward.

Zoe grappled up to another rooftop before anyone else could see her. She retracted the cables back into her waist bound spool. She heard gunfire behind her and rushed across the building to see. A pair of airborne rangers were swinging up and down between buildings, setting fire to the brave but stupid Knights rushing out into the open. They weren't veteran soldiers. Even the dumbest Knight with combat experience would have known not to charge in a straight line against Dannic rangers.

Most of the enemy artillery and missile defenses had already been sabotaged by the time Zoe had arrived. Enemy foot soldiers, for all their armor and numbers, had proven relatively easy to cut down. More Angleyan Knights, flanked by at least a dozen riflewomen, suddenly came pouring out of a dark and plain concrete parking garage.

Before the enemy had a chance to pounce on a squad of unsuspecting Dannic infantry, Zoe jumped toward them. She shot all six incendiary shells left in her shotgun in a scattered volley around the enemy, using the recoil from the weapon to steer her as she made her first pass. The solid belt around her waist rattled from the recoil of her gun, which had been fastened to the apparatus to protect her arm. Zoe counted seven or eight women on fire before she made it to the next rooftop. A scattered volley of rifle fire followed her, but with darkness and speed on her side, none of the shots even came close.

She made another pass. Three of the Knights had survived, with seven riflewomen still standing. They lifted their blades and pointed them up at Zoe like javelins. She'd seen the stance a thousand times. "Go on monsters. Make my night."

The runesteel blades dispersed into a wide but predictable volley of small daggers. Zoe disengaged the hook holding her up to the building behind her and used a jet of air from her waist spool to somersault up. The daggers missed her by a wide margin on the first approach, but Zoe had learned not to let her guard down yet. The Knights had their hands outstretched, calling each and every piece of the metal back to them. Zoe stopped the projectiles cold in their tracks with an explosive bullet to each of their wielders' eyes. Their burning corpses fell to the ground, not far from where their useless daggers clattered.

The remaining Angleyan soldiers were shaking in terror by the time Zoe landed in their midst. She flipped a machete blade out from her right wrist and cut the top of three women's heads off before they could turn around. Another one tried to shoot her, but Zoe cut a gash into her jugular before she could raise her gun. She extended her leg back to trip the woman behind her and thrust the blade into where her eye socket would be. Zoe yanked her machete out of the eye socket and cut the last two soldiers standing. She only cut one of their throats while the other leaped back far enough to survive with a scratched cheek. Zoe rectified her mistake shortly after, firing her grappling hook at the lone survivor's face. The same spearpoint designed to penetrate concrete shattered the hapless woman's skull into a dozen jagged red shards. Zoe looked back and noticed the woman whose eyes she'd gouged out, still alive and squirming on the ground.

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