Nathan rose wearily from where the Entity had slammed him on the concrete before Jama's attack had torn the creature to gobs of ichor and gore. He fell to one knee, propping the sword up point down into the ground, and bowed his head in thanks to the Lord for their victory.
As he opened his eyes, he caught sight of a hard object protruding from the slime. He lifted it and wiped the quickly decomposing remains off it, but stopped as he realized what it was.
It was a human skull, its jawbone and most of the flesh gone, gold still visible on one of the upper teeth. Nathan's stomach lurched. He knew that the Entities sometimes possessed living hosts. He hadn't had the chance to meet Ed Bentley, the only survivor of the expedition that had unearthed the Animus Mortis. Now he had a strong suspicion this was the closest he'd get to do so.
Placing the skull softly back on the ground, Nathan bent his head down again for a moment. He had no idea who the skull had belonged to, or even what religion, if any, he or she had followed, but a soul still deserved a prayer.
Rising from the muck, his uniform covered in Entity gore, he signaled to Dr. Burton and showed him the human remains. "The forensics people will need to see this, Doctor. We need to know who the victim was."
Burton gazed at the remains of the Entity with a look of anticipation on his face. "Victim? Oh, yes. Of course." He holstered his C-60 and touched a button on his databand. "Sgt. Hanlon? Burton here. I need to requisition a bulldozer, a dump truck, an industrial roll of plastic, and 200 pounds of dry ice, ASAP."
Nathan walked over to the young Renuka, casually sheathing his sword. Smiling as he wiped the foul-smelling goo from his hand and held it out, he said, "Thanks, Jama. That was a good shot. You probably saved our lives."
"Good shot?" Jama pointed to the huge cut in the hospital's wall and the wrecked ambulance, shaking her head, sending her ponytail bouncing. "I missed. Twice!"
Nathan chuckled. "To be honest, I didn't notice. I was too busy chasing the durn thing all over the parking lot."
Tyger stood to his full height from behind the wreckage of the ambulance that had narrowly ended his life. With one hand pressed to the back of his neck, he worked his head around, producing a series of loud cracks, before holstering his pistol.
"That went... well...." he said, belying his concern. This had been easy, too easy, at least based on his past experience with Entities.
"Call dispatch and get an emergency team here to tend to any wounded. I want to know where that fucking thing came from and why it ate our evidence!"
In a more sober voice, Nathan continued, "Jama, taking on an Entity is not a cakewalk. You didn't back down and you tried your best. That counts as good in my book."
"Thanks." Jama spent a moment studying her mud-splattered boots. "I think my grandfather would have a few things to saw about my first outing, though. Probably tell me to go back and study harder." With a sigh she looked up. "Some heir to the Renuka name, eh?"
Tyger looked at Jama and shook his head slightly, "You did alright kid.... Can't say much about your accuracy though, but I think XSWAT has facilities where you can practice your aim on with your spells. If so, I highly suggest that you make use of them."
Nathan looked askance at the clade then addressed the young woman once more. "A person's worth is measured by what he or she strives for. I'd think your grandfather would be proud of what you've become."
He glanced at the damage around him and grinned, winking at Jama. "Of course, there is something to be said about 'practice makes perfect.'"
Jama managed a rue smile, apparently not hearing the feline replicant. "At least I hit it before it managed to kill any of us, eh?"
Nathan's grin grew into a smile. "See? All it takes is a positive attitude!"
The dead Entity stank to high heaven. The smell itself was nearly indescribable - a murky mix of sulphur, coppery blood, rotting flesh, and other scents that had no earthly equivalent. Tiny pieces of rock continued to crumble away from the damaged wall above the Asylum's garage, while steam rose from the wrecks of Hemelshot's police spinner and the Asylum's ambulance, jutting upright like some kind of bizarre sculpture in a crater at the center of the parking lot.
The flesh of the creature dissolved quickly under the heavy rain, with an oily residue dully reflecting the colors of the rainbow spreading out in a wide circle around the site of the battle until it, too, faded to nothing.
Burton's expression changed from anticipation to disappointment, and then to determination. "Sergeant, cancel the requisition," he said wearily into his databand. "Note to self: Entity's body displays an odd, inexplicably severe degree of instability. Oily multicolored residue suggests a highly diverse hydrocarbon content. Need to design and build a high-pressure liquid nitrogen gun and appropriate container to preserve future Entity samples."
The rain soon uncovered more chunks of a human's decomposing body as the Entity's massive form slowly vanished. The heavy, oppressive feeling in the air had disappeared as well with the Entity's death, but there was a brooding quality to the silence of the asylum's building nearby. Surely, the team wondered, there would be more noise if there were any survivors...right?
The silence was soon broken by the sounds of sirens as the team's backup approached - normal police cars and ambulances responding to the distress call.
"About dammed time..." Tyger grumbled as he heard the approaching sirens.
The weather and recent events had severely dampened his mood, making him feel about how he looked: like a cat stuck out in the rain. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes, thankfully relieved that they had survived the battle. Unfortunately, his lighter had not been so fortunate, but after several tries and a subtle string of curses, he eventually got his cigarette lit. He took a long drag and exhaled slowly, letting the toxins relax him.
"Alright people. Backup has finally decided to show up, which means our job has only just begun." This part was stated with some dread; he could barely imagine the ginormus, heaping mound of paperwork that would appear on his desk now. Not to mention having to hear about the 'false alarm' with him demanding his Blue Steel. Fuck, where was that dammed thing anyway? That's it, he vowed to himself. No more going out on missions, investigations or anything else without his baby.
"There will most likely be civilians, Normal Police and others that are not in 'Need to Know' category. We need to do what we can from letting them get too close. And by God, NOBODY gets into that building unescorted or unarmed! Who knows what else may be in there waiting to bite your face off."
Tyger was not in the best of moods. He took another long drag from his cigarette and waited patiently for a whole different flavor of shit to hit the fan.
Nathan looked at the hauntingly silent building. "I was just going to suggest that we go in and secure the building. If there are any injured, they need to be cared for. And if there are any more hostiles..." The hand resting on the hilt of his sword tightened, finishing the rest of his unspoken sentence.
Jama nodded in agreement. "We should at least try and find that Bentley fellow. Or..." she glanced at the stinking mess that marked the recently slain Entity. "What's left of him."
Nathan followed her glance, his face clouded in sorrow. "I'm afraid we may be too late for that."
Hemelshot approaches from the ruined corner of the building. His C-60 is slung over his shoulder, but his right hand remains on it and you notice the safety is off. There is a fresh bandage on his left arm, easily seen through a large gash in both his cloak and uniform sleeve.
"I think we're about ready to move on." He looks at a small notebook in his left hand and continues. "I've left a message with Community Relations to send a damage assessment team tomorrow, as well as contact the property owners for insurance and reconstruction. We shouldn't have to worry about that end of things, thankfully, though I'll probably have to route some paperwork by you," he looks at Tyger, "in a few days.
"There should also be a towing crew out here in a few hours to see what can be done for the spinner, and I've put in a request for a replacement driven out from the motor pool. I don't know when that'll happen, though—it depends on availability.
"I notice several of you don't have A/V units set for continuous recording—that'll make your after-action reports a little more difficult in the event verification becomes necessary, but I'll be addressing the deficiencies in our kits in due time. Feel free to see me for a hand getting the paperwork for this incident straight.
"Sergeant Tyger, your suit is being prepped as we speak and should be here in eighteen minutes, along with two squads of regular officers—I've requested a security perimeter established to contain the situation and prevent anyone from getting in to look at things like this corpse, though that seems to be taking care of itself. The perimeter will be fairly wide, but even so they have orders to fall back and inform us if they spot anything they don't recognize. They'll be weapons-free as soon as they arrive so be careful about leaving the building in a hurry."
He turns to Tyger and Renuka. "That primarily applies to the two of you—any flashy exits and you're likely to draw friendly fire," he specifically does not look at Tyger, "Especially after all the screaming about the situation needing heavy armor support. The men are good about target verification, but they're going to have fingers on the triggers, so be careful."
"Speaking of that request, I'd better be the one to speak with the media when they arrive—I figure we've got half an hour, tops. I don't know if a secure channel was used for the armored support request, but the media morons have their contacts even if it was. They'll be here with recordings and you," Hemelshot gestures to Tyger, "Probably don't need to have your first media appearance turn into a circus. I know Amanda Larkins of Channel 88 and I gave her a heads-up but I don't know if she'll be the first to get here. So no matter who it is, direct them to me with a smile and a 'no comment.' Questions?"