Erik leapt from the truck to where Corry crouched over the wounded Ensign Bartley. Corry didn’t even look up at him as she snatched the med kit from his hands. Erik let Corry work as he stripped Bill’s corpse. Damn it, why did Call and Bill have to take the money? Why in the hell did they agree to assassinate the princess of the Empire? The whole plot against Corry made no sense. She wasn’t even the heir to the Imperial throne. So, why try and eliminate her? 

The snarl of orcs snapped Erik’s attention to the wall. Two of the eight-foot tall creatures perched above Corry and the ensign. Both were aiming their heavy crossbows down. Erik grabbed Bill’s pistol off the ground and emptied the magazine at the two orcs. The .400 Imperial cartridge did okay against goblins and draks, but it wouldn’t penetrate against the thicker hides of the orcs. That didn’t mean getting by a whole bunch of the bullets didn’t hurt the orcs. A crossbow bolt skittered off the asphalt while the other thunked into the shed above Corry’s head.

“Erik, would you stop them from doing that?” Corry ordered without looking up. “It’s distracting.” Erik knew better than to reply when Corry was in her working zone. He unslung his rifle. The two orcs tossed their crossbows, drew heavy swords, and leapt down off the wall. Erik stitched one with a burst as soon as it hit the ground. Its partner charged Erik with a bellow. Erik fired two more bursts, but the orc ignored the wounds and slashed out with its sword. Erik rolled to the side. The orc redirected his blade faster than Erik thought it could move. He barely managed to deflect the blade with a telekinetic push. The sword sparked as the orc dragged it across the asphalt. 

Erik rolled up into a crouch with his rifle leveled at the orc. He emptied the magazine into the monster. Twenty rounds tore the orc’s chest open. Erik dropped the spent magazine into a pouch before snatching a charged magazine and slamming it into the magazine well. He scanned around him, looking for more threats brought by the gunfire. 

He felt the alien emotions at the same time as he heard the heavy grunts. Two trolls rose up from behind the ruins of a small building. Trolls were twice as tall, twice as strong, and twice as tough as orcs. About the only good thing was that the ponderous monsters were about half as smart as an orc. Erik slung his rifle and jumped to the heavy machine gun on the back of Bill’s truck.

Erik had barely grabbed the heavy machine gun’s handles when the sun was blocked by a twelve foot section of wall one of the trolls threw at him. Erik made a quick calculation and jumped. There was a disheartening crunch as the wall flattened the truck. 

“What the hell just happened to the truck?” Corry called out from behind the shed.

“Trolls,” Erik answered as his mind raced with how to kill the two giant monsters. If he’d had another second or two, he could have brought the heavy machine gun with him. 

“Why’d you wake up the trolls?” Corry asked, with an exasperated tone.

“Because I was trying to save you from those two orcs, and I didn’t sense them sleeping here,” Erik shouted. 

“Don’t yell at me, Erik. Just hurry up and finish them off,” Corry said. 

“How exactly would you like me to do that without the heavy machine gun?” Erik asked as he dodged a six-foot metal bar as it whistled past. 

“Maybe that magic sword of yours?” Corry called out. 

“Don’t have it. Long story,” Erik said. That actually caused Corry to shoot a surprised look over her shoulder at him. Erik didn’t have time to enjoy catching Corry off-guard. The trolls were continuing to try and squash him with debris. He managed to knock the man-sized boulder off course so that it missed him by a foot or two. It still showered him with shards. 

“Well, what about Little Britches?” Corry asked. Erik thought about that as he dodged more improvised missiles from the trolls. That might work, but Erik would have to get in close to the trolls. Closing with trolls was generally considered a bad idea. 

Erik made some quick calculations, sprinted, and then pushed himself into the air. The trolls stared up at him. They didn’t react well to surprises, and humans weren’t supposed to fly unless they were in one of their contraptions. As Erik arched down, he drew Little Britches and aimed the stubby tri-barrel. Three feet above the troll’s head, Erik touched off the armor-piercing barrel. 

Erik had the barest instant to see the heavy dart pulp the troll’s head before Little Britches’ heavy recoil tossed him back away from the troll and straight into the second troll’s fist. Pain flashed as Erik was slammed to the ground. Erik pushed with a bit of power to slide out from the troll’s stomp. He swung the heavy weapon around and touched off Little Britches’ fragmentation barrel. The troll howled as a hundred and fifty flechettes sliced through the its foot. The monster staggered back, trying hard not to step on the mangled mess of its foot. 

Erik leapt into the troll and touched off the final barrel. The troll screamed as the white phosphorus landed into its hide. Trolls were vulnerable to fire and burning. The troll ran away from Erik with a loping gait. Erik popped open Little Britches’ breech and three heavy steel casing clattered on the asphalt. Erik slipped in three more six-inch long, two-inch wide cartridges.

“Can I tell you how glad I am that the Imperial Guard let you keep that weapon?” Corry said as Erik approached.

“I’m fine thanks. Just a few bumps, bruises, and scrapes,” Erik said flatly. 

“Why are you complaining?” Corry asked, “Aren’t you Jaegar the Troll-Killer?”

“Because I killed one troll with a magic sword!” Erik nearly shouted. Two more orcs dropped down. Erik turned, put them both down with rifle bursts, and then turned back to Corry. The woman had one of her knowing smirks on her face. 

“Hey, now you’ve got two more on your record. She’s stabilized, but we need to get her to a field hospital,” Corry said. “Give me that rifle and ammo pouch so I can cover is while you carry her.” Corry scanned the horizon as Erik unslung the weapon. “Where are we going?”

“Thirty-Fourth and Broad,” Erik answered. “I’ve got gear stashed there for you.” He concentrated on the moaning ensign and carefully lifted her with some power. This kind of fine work was always more draining. “We’ll need to hurry or we’ll miss the boat.”

“Boat, what boat?” Corry asked as they moved into the city. She shot another orc that tried to stop them. 

“The boat that’s going to pick us up at 1600 tomorrow at Green Cove,” Erik said as he guided the ensign’s body through the streets as fast as he could reasonably control. When they were a bit safer, he’d fashion a stretcher and carry her. 

“Why don’t we go to Fort Andrews?” Corry asked. 

“Because the Army may be complicit in you getting shot down,” Erik answered.

“Damn it. It can never be easy, can it?” Corry said as she covered their rear.

“That’s my line,” Erik complained as he covered their front with his submachine gun. 

“Where do you think I got it from?” Corry asked. As they rounded another corner, she stopped Erik long enough to give him a chaste kiss on the cheek. “By the way, thanks for coming to get me.”