In the heat of combat
Almost before Dan and Cliff can react, the trio sweep left around the atrium onto the mezzanine and rush Dan where he stands before the stair-head. Almost. For as their claws sweep out, Cliff leaps in front of Dan, his tac-vest taking the brunt! A line of red grows on his cheek, and blood dribbles down to splash on the floor.
Usher grins a mad, hungry grin. He moves his head a little, and his henchmen fan out, ready to sweep around Cliff to get at Dan.
Then Dan’s voice calls loud:
“Feel the wrath of God – again!”
Another blinding globe of light licks over the stair-head – to devastating effect! Usher’s two henchmen scream and clutch at their eyes. Dan retreats out of harm’s way, back past Paul and Sandi and right down the staircase, to cower under cover at its foot. Hitch, only feet behind Cliff, yells:
“This is gonna hurt, Cliff! Take one for the team!”
At Cliff’s back, a wall of fire leaps up! Its fierce heat scorches him, and his outer garments smolder, but its effect on the vampires is harsher still. Inured to pain though they be, the flames are scorching them, their skin flaking off each second they’re exposed. Cliff, wary of trying to pull off a shot under the very claws of the vampires, swings his Colt Python club-fashion at Usher, but his opponent slides easily out from under. Cliff’s not worried: the move was merely to buy a split-second’s chance! Gritting his teeth against the pain, he leaps back through the fire, landing next to Hitch.
Unseen in the fire-fight, Rich Saville dies, writhing in pain from the second round of holy wrath Dan called down and dry-roasted by the fire. As he loses consciousness his body becomes visible, slumped pathetically against the far wall. The Academy’s warrant on his life has been fulfilled.*
Paul brings up his PDA: flicks his stylus over a line of runes, and the air around the vampires seems to congeal. It’s as though the henchmen are mired in water, as slow as they seem to be moving. Usher shakes off the effect, as he levels a machine-pistol at Hitch. Then Sandi’s guns stammer out their message of pain! At that range, and with a target blinded and staggering about, every one of the ten rounds she pumps out strikes home! Usher’s left-flank henchman, burning, screaming, does not so much dissolve into dust as explode into dusty particles.
*Hitch will develop convenient amnesia about this warranted killing being at his hand, and claim he took no lives.