“Whoa,” she said, jumping away from the burst of heat and flame. “That went up a little faster than I expected.” She reached the edge of the rack with her toe and forced it beneath the boiler.
Another rumble and crack echoed from the corridor behind them. Jacob turned around in time to see Drakkar come running back into the station, his cloak rising in the breeze behind him.
Jacob swung the air cannon off his back and racked the slide.
“Jacob, Alice!” Samuel’s voice rang with authority. “Fall back with Smith. If you need to use the cannon, use it at the last second. You don’t want to injure a Scythe Beetle. You want to kill it.”
Drakkar’s arm snapped out to the side, and his sword unfolded with a rapid series of clicks.
There was a calamity behind the Cave Guardian, and it grew louder with every second. Jacob and Alice scrambled off the railcar. Jacob paused and then ran to the pump to turn it off. The last thing they needed was wet fuel bars.
Alice made it to Smith ten steps before Jacob did. Samuel and Drakkar set up a loose line between the railcar and a steeper section of the shattered wall.
Smith spoke into his transmitter. “Mary! Get the chaingun down here now!”
Her static-laced reply came back in an incoherent burst.
Mary cursed and began shouting orders before she stopped transmitting.
Drakkar had the best view of the corridor, and everyone tensed when he said, “Here they come.”
The iron gate in the stone hall collapsed at the first impact. The metal rattled and screeched as it was twisted and trampled. The creatures were not very fast, but once they were moving, nothing seemed to stop them.
They ran on three-toed claws, the spikes on their legs tearing through stone and rending metal as they crashed onto the platform. Jacob watched in awe and horror as the front most beetle paused, and its back split open. A pair of leathery wings extended from beneath the carapace and gleamed in the rising moonlight.