Ex-Heroes
knocking down another handful before the shaft cracked. He rammed the broken pike through an ex’s skull and kicked the corpse away.
    Cerberus stepped up onto the bed of Big Blue and the lift gate gasped with relief. Luke toggled the switch and the metal plate swung up to block them in. “All aboard,” he hollered.
    Johnny K gunned his engine and brought the truck around, crushing exes as it made a wide turn.
    Dozens of hands pawed at St. George, grabbed his clothes, his hair, his limbs. He lashed out, felt them fall even as new hands reached for him. They pinned him with sheer numbers and he felt a swarm of teeth across his body.
    This would be a good end, he thought. Overwhelmed saving my team. A good way to be remembered.
    There was a roar of automatic fire and skulls exploded around him. Bullets slapped his head and shoulders like hailstones. His sunglasses shattered and his headset twisted into plastic scrap. The weapons barked again and exes sprayed blood and meat over him as they slumped and fell.
    In the back of Big Blue , Lady Bee stood with Jarvis, Luke, and Ilya. Their weapons coughed up smoke. Jarvis dropped his empty magazine and reloaded.
    St. George wiped gore from his face. The rounds had cleared a wide arc round him. “What the fuck are you doing?!”
    “You’re bulletproof,” shouted Bee with a grin. “Stop whining and get in the truck.”
    He landed next to the stripe-haired woman. “You just wasted a ton of ammo.”
    “Maybe we just wanted an excuse to shoot you,” said Ilya with a smile.
    “Thanks.”
    “No worries, boss.”

NOW
Nine

    The pipe clanged down across the gate, and the dead resumed their eternal grasping though the bars. The clatter of their teeth trembled in the air.
    St. George stood and watched them. Big Blue was getting unloaded behind him. Lynne had just punched Jarvis hard in the back of the head. Mark was already halfway to the hospital.
    “She wants to see you,” said Gorgon. “First thing.”
    “I’m covered in shit,” the other hero said without looking away. “Infected blood. Rotted meat. I think some actual shit.”
    “Yeah, I noticed.”
    St. George studied one ex; a rough-bearded man caked which as much dirt as blood. It had a gold tooth that flashed every time its jaw snapped shut. “What happened with the Seventeens?”
    Gorgon shrugged. “About fifty. I just got up on the wall and dropped half of those imbeciles.”
    “So you’re feeling pretty good.”
    “Better than I have in ages.” He cracked his knuckles. “Tier five, easy. Want to go a few rounds?”
    “I want to burn these clothes. And then get in the shower until sometime tomorrow.”
    “She said first thing,” echoed Derek from the guard shack.
    He sighed and spat a stream of fire at the ground.

    * * * *

    It was a five minute walk to “city hall.” He could’ve made it in one good leap from Melrose, but he wasn’t in the mood to rush. Instead he shrugged out of his jacket and tried to wipe some of the gore from it.
    The building was named Roddenberry, after the man who created Star Trek . Like most of the newer structures in the Mount, it had been built without any consideration for what was around it. The lines and windows belonged on a college campus, not wedged between warehouse-like workshops and the old water tower.
    The elevators worked, but the stairs took more time and he could tell himself he was going easy on Barry. His boots echoed in the empty stairwell.
    Stealth had claimed the entire executive fourth floor as her own. Most people in the Mount thought it was a status thing. St. George knew it was because it was central, had the best sight lines, and was already wired for mass communication. She wasn’t the type who cared about status.
    He rapped on a polished door and walked in. There was a large table people once sat at and discussed syndicated television shows and DVD box sets. Now all the chairs were gone and it was covered with maps and reports from across the

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