Erik felt more than saw the Servitors’ shield come down from Anne’s magic strike. He could see the shock on the cultists’ faces as they scrambled to finish digging their summoning symbol. All except their leader. The High Servitor seemed more annoyed than anything else. Erik brought up his Galil ACE and fired a burst at the man. The High Servitor anticipated the attack and pulled one of his minions to shield himself from the gunfire. The cultist jerked as the three bullets hit her and then went still. The High Servitor dropped the body and smiled. He bent down and drew a circle on the ground. Erik had a sinking feeling he knew what was going to happen next.

“Kurt, open fire!” Erik shouted an instant before the clearing rocked with a horrific roaring. Something large and tentacled lifted itself out of the circle. Erik couldn’t tell much more because it hurt to look at the monster. Kurt yelled something in German until the rapid dud-dud-dud of the machine gun drowned him out. As they’d planned, Kurt didn’t fire at the monstrosity that was bearing down on them. Kurt was there to kill as many of the Servitors as he could. Half a dozen of the Servitors were cut down before one of the monster’s tentacles ripped the machine gun from Kurt’s hands. Erik aimed at the painfully blurry mass and fired his grenade launcher. The monster’s howl drowned out the pop-hiss of the willie-pete grenade. The next thing Erik knew he was airborne and his ACE was bent nearly in half. 

Erik knocked down several of the black-eyes as he landed on them. He tossed the useless carbine aside and drew his revolver. Erik didn’t bother wasting the precious rounds in the cylinder on the black-eyes. He sprinted back towards the monster. It was still screaming in pain as John and Nigel each pumped in more of the burning white-phosphorous grenades. The monster lashed out at the two operatives. The chemical fire made weakened it, but the monster’s tentacle slap was still strong enough to throw John a good five meters. Erik braced and fired all five rounds in his revolver. 

Erik wasn’t sure where Kurt got the “mostly-depleted” uranium he’d used in constructed Erik’s bullets, and he damn sure wasn’t going to ask. Especially not after seeing the effect they had on the Outsider monster. It’s screams took on a new high-pitch wail, and it slinked back to the portal. Erik popped open the cylinder of his revolver and dumped the brass. From what he saw, another five “special” rounds should be enough to finish the monster.

The human scream ripped Erik’s eyes away from the monster. He looked to where the High Servitor stabbed deeper into Veronica’s chest. Blood poured out of the small woman onto the grass. The High Servitor smiled triumphantly and chanted something in the Outsiders’ infernal tongue. A brilliant white tear appeared in the air behind the pair. It had to have been fifty meters high. The bastard had managed to open a gate for the Outsiders. That must have taken most of the High Servitor’s power, because suddenly Erik felt all of his powers flood back into him. He was nearly buried under the emotions and psi-scents that permeated the clearing. Erik focused on the satisfaction of the High Servitor and Veronica’s terror. 

Far’ling gleamed in the night as Erik pushed himself into the air. The High Servitor’s satisfaction dimmed as he watched Erik arc through the air. Shock and surprise blossomed in the man. The High Servitor dropped Veronica and tried to run. Erik made a small adjustment and then felt the High Servitor’s vertebrae crack and pop under his weight as he landed. 

“The Nameless God will see this world before the night is done,” the High Servitor croaked. Erik silently slashed down with Far’ling and neatly parted the man’s head and body. Decapitation was one of those wounds that made resurrection nearly impossible. Erik’s head snapped up as he heard Veronica’s whimpers of pain. Erik leapt over to Veronica. She was still bleeding profusely from the stab. Erik slapped on the single magic-infused patch he had on him. It couldn’t heal a wound that severe, but it would make sure that Veronica didn’t bleed out.

“I’m going to get you to the medics,” Erik said, “This is going to hurt.” She pushed his hands away. “Veronica, we need to get you help, now.”

“Erik, stand me up,” Veronica wheezed. He felt the determination and fear running through the woman. Carefully, he used his power to help her stand. Veronica stared at the gate. Her determination and fear heightened even more.

“We need to close this gate. Right bloody now,” Veronica said, holding her hand to patch. “I can feel them coming through.”

“I can get Arem and Anne up here to help,” Erik said, but Veronica just shook her head. 

“No time, Erik,” Veronica said. “I can see the framework of the gate, but I need more power to close it.” She gave him a sad look. “I need Far’ling.” The request took Erik aback. He’d won the sword over a decade ago. The pleading look in Veronica’s eyes told him she understood how much the blade meant to him, and how desperately she needed it. Reluctantly, he handed the elven blade over to Veronica. She closed her eyes and murmured in elven. Then she collapsed to the ground and cried out in pain and frustration. 

“What?” Erik asked as he knelt next to Veronica. 

“It’s not enough,” she cried. She looked up at Erik and he felt the pure terror that ran through her. 

“I don’t want to die,” Veronica whispered. Erik didn’t understand why she said that, but he could feel her bracing herself. Veronica handed the sword back to him, and then gave him the most sorrowful expression he’d ever seen. 

“Erik, stab me through with that sword and toss me into the gate.”

Erik didn’t hesitate. The elven blade punched through Veronica’s chest like the woman’s body was made of silk. He felt her fear, pain, and last-second fight to cling to life. He used his power to hurtle the dying woman into the widening gate. The brilliant light was the last thing Erik remembered before everything went dark.