Raine charged forward even as a thunderous crash sounded from the direction of the gate. The heat of the flames was unreal, and instead of commanding his men, Raine was rescuing two kids who didn’t know how to stay inside when they were told to.
Well, Makara at least. Samuel must have been among the Bunker survivors, gone unnoticed hidden behind one of adults. Still, for his age, he was big and strong, with wide shoulders and a mop of brown hair. His face was neutral within the flames, as if they were more of a puzzle to be solved than an imminent threat to his life.
Raine skidded to a stop, doing his best to ignore the sweltering heat. If either he or Samuel went through them, it would be a death sentence.
There was only one thing he could do. The only question was, was there time?
“Stay out of the flames,” Raine said. “I’ll be back.”
Raine sprinted toward the bucket brigade, and was at the line in moment. The people’s eyes widened at the sight of the Angels’ leader.
“Buckets on that flame, now! There’s a kid in there!”
Instantly, the civilians diverted their course. Within moments, the flames was being doused by dozens of buckets.
By now, the flames were dying down a bit; they should have been gone completely, but unfortunately, the cocktail had fallen on a pile rubble, within which was plenty of wood to keep it going.
The buckets wouldn’t last forever.
“Samuel, you’ll have to jump while it’s down,” Raine said. “Jump!”
Samuel nodded, waiting for the splash of several buckets in tandem before charging forward and giving a mighty leap. He cried out as he landed on the other side, the hem of want his pant legs aflame. Instantly, he was doused with water until nothing but steam hissed off of him.
By now, Makara had run up and was hugging her brother tightly. He grimaced from the touch; it would have been impossible for him to have remained within that circle without burning at least a bit.
All Raine could hope was that the damage wasn’t life-threatening.
“Get them both inside,” Raine said, turning to a nearby woman. “Make sure they’re all right.”
“Will do, Lord Raine,” the woman said.
“Raine…” Makara started.
“Not now, Makara!” Raine shouted. “Get inside, and if you come back out here again, you’ll wish you were with the Reapers!”
Makara’s eyes widened, but Raine had to say something to get her to go.
The fire bombs had mostly ceased, but Raine’s attention was now on those gates, against which came another loud crash.
They were being battered down.
Green’s voice crackled out of the radio on Raine’s side
“What is it?” Raine asked, raising it to his mouth.
“They aren’t all in position, but if we wait any longer…”
The gate was battered again. Raine ran forward to get a better handle on things, but if he understood right, the Reapers would not have all entered the trap before that gate fell down.
“Just a minute longer,” Raine said. “If they bust it open, they bust it open. But this has got to work, Dan. How many hours have we spent on this?”
Raine’s question went unanswered as he arrived at the gate.
“We hold ’em here!” he shouted, his voice loud enough to carry despite the cacophony of gunshots and motors. “Off the wall, now! Down here! Hold him long enough for…”
Raine’s voice was cut off when what remained of the front gate splintered. There was an odd moment of silence, like a calm before the storm.
Even as men formed ranks around him, pointing their guns into the breach, nothing could be seen but smoke. Even the motors had gone quiet.
To Raine, the silence was far more unnerving than the noise.
And then, in a single, guttural yell, they poured through — some with long pikes, some with guns, others with large, metal shields.
They came by the dozens.
“Fire! Fire!” Raine yelled.
Even as the Reapers’ human shield fell, some of them got through, tackling his men with feral tenacity. And, Raine could see, there were still more pouring through.
“Hold position!” Raine ordered. “We hold ’em here!”
A large club swung toward Raine’s head, which he narrowly dodged. A bullet fired, missing his head by an inch.
He hastily pulled his radio. “Now, Dan. Now!”
Not a moment later, there was a deafening explosion from just beyond the walls, followed by the sounds of screams. For those who were screaming, Raine knew there was no chance.
The large, multistory building across the street was collapsing, and would crush hundreds, if not thousands, of Reaper soldiers.
“Push ’em back!” Raine called above the din.
There was no sound other than the colossal crash of the buildings. The screams were gone, and there was only silence broken by aftershocks of concrete continuing to fall on the buried street outside.
And then, a swell of dust rose over the walls, engulfing the fighters. Even as Raine covered his nose and mouth, he started hacking, along with everyone else around him. Raine waited for that dust to clear, could hear the coughing of all of his fellow fighters.
But the dust didn’t clear. It remained for even two minutes afterward, never abating.
“Back up,” he said to the man next to him. “Pass the message along.”
He said it quietly, so that the Reapers – if any were left within the perimeter – wouldn’t know what the Angels were up to.
If the explosion had killed enough of them outside, Raine knew they had what it took to finish the rest of them.