"There!" He pointed to a badly damaged and smoking structure of immense size. "The humans fight for that ground, so we will take it as ours."
The search for Linus Guthry was a half remembered fancy to Maximillian. He was lost in the pure white glory of wanton violence and destruction. His potential was fully realized here like nowhere else.
The last of the pitiful humans surged forward in a final suicidal charge and were cut down in a matter of seconds. Maximillian wiped fluid from his armored lenses and pushed on, pleasantly aware of the fire already pouring down at him from the rooftops and windows of the enormous building. He could see wrecked human flying machines and corpses littering the courtyard and his combat computer told him with certainty that fighting still raged within its walls.
"For Imperatrix!" He cried, and the battle began anew.
Captain Patrick "Liberty" Henry advanced cautiously down the hallway, but the beat of his boots on the polished marble floors echoed no matter how hard he tried to move silently. He kept feeling this creeping sensation as if he were being followed. Twice he even heard a whisper-soft movement of cloth almost like curtains billowing in an open window. Yet he saw no one behind him and no one lurking in the broad hallway ahead.
With another furtive glance in both directions Captain Henry paused to check the chambers of his sixth backup pistol; a .454 Casull painted bright red and nicknamed "The Red End". Four of the big magnum rounds remained in the weapon's cylinder. After that Captain Henry knew he would be reduced to his combat knife and the deadly weapons of his lightning fast karate moves. He carefully rotated a live round into firing position and closed the cylinder.
He moved forward, urged on by another barely-heard sound of fluttering cloth, and reached a ninety-degree turn of the hallway. He pressed himself flat against the wall and edged to the corner of the turn. With a quick flash of his combat mirror he took in a barricade obstructing an enormous archway and a room beyond. More than two dozen Panzer Kommandos waited behind carefully sandbagged positions, some stripped out of their combat frames to man an enormous artillery piece. It seemed impossible for them to have even brought such a large cannon inside the Presidential Palace. Yet there it was, 155 millimeters aimed right down the hallway in the direction of Captain Henry. A few Panzer Kommandos spoke softly to one another in German.
Captain Henry considered his options. With four bullets he could normally hope to take down only four Nazis. Even if he pulled off four miraculously good shots he could at best wound a couple more on top of that. The cannon provided him with another option. If the Nazis were truly waiting in ambush they would likely have a shell already loaded into the howitzer. With the barrel of the artillery piece aimed over a flat trajectory it might just give Captain Henry the angle he needed to fire a magnum bullet straight down the barrel and blow up the gun. If he was lucky this would take out several of the Nazis and throw the remainder into disarray. While they reeled from the blast Captain Henry could move forward, using his three remaining shots to take down any of the enemy that seemed to be regaining their senses. By shot three, legs willing, he could be right on top of them and ready to finish the job with spin kicks and some top notch stabbing.
Captain Henry absentmindedly checked the cylinders on his revolver, took three deep breaths, and ducked his head and pistol around the corner to take aim.
The Panzer Kommandos did not move or seem to notice him. Captain Henry steadied himself to fire and then realized that the Nazi soldiers had fallen completely silent. He studied their position again and quickly realized that someone - or something - had already done his work for him. Nazi troopers slumped over sandbags, their blood still leaking from slashed throats. A few had long wounds to the center of the forehead that Captain Henry's knowledge of ninjitsu weaponry allowed him to identify as throwing knife wounds. A handful sprawled on the floor, their boots visible around the edges of the barricades.
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
As the 19th century diver approaches a giant clam, a flash of brilliant golden light flares from within the shell. I emerge in a swirl of bubbles and do the timeless universal underwater hand signals for the following: ZODIAC KILLER, KKK, BLOOD OF YOUTH
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