Smith followed the arrows to a reinforced door. It was retrofitted, and Smith turned the handle and pushed the arrow open with the ax handle. It wasn’t enough, and he threw himself against the wall to avoid the runner that was inside.
It came up short, a metal collar and heavy chain keeping it in the room. It slashed at him and opened a long shallow cut across his chest.
He slid back and out of the way. He looked at the runner, straining against the chain. Fucking producers.
The thing’s hands had been hacked off, replaced with long metal knives. That was new, and it didn’t make Smith happy. He touched his chest and his fingers came up red. Not a serious cut, but it could lead to infection if the thing had any of its own blood on it. He looked at the runner and realized where the keys were.
The runner, quite helpfully, had a big red k painted on its forehead. This was going to be tricky, even with the ax. The chain gave the runner just enough space to get into the hallway. He couldn’t easily get past it, and there wasn’t much point in doing so.
He glanced back at the stairway door, which was starting to bend in. He swore to himself and got a good grip on the ax. He tried coming in at head level with the ax, but all he managed to do was peel off a chunk of the runner’s scalp. The runner slashed at him again and he got a stab wound in the rib for it.
It didn’t feel serious, but that was dumb luck, and he wasn’t having much of it. He took the ax in one hand and step closer to the runner, it slashed at him and he batted the arm to the side. He tried to get a grip on its wrist and chop at it with the ax, but he didn’t have the leverage. He hurt the arm, but he didn’t disable it.
He choked up on the ax and charged the runner. He felt one of the knives slide beneath the skin underneath his arm pit, felt warmth spreading. He slammed the top of the ax into the runner’s face, using it like a battering ram. He felt the thing’s sinus collapse, and he pushed it back.
Smith dropped the ax and pinned both of the runner’s arms beneath his own. He stepped in close and drove his head into the runner’s. Dull crunch. He reared back and did it again, slamming his helmet into it so hard that his vision went white.
He blinked it off and he felt the runners go limp. He dropped it to the floor. He checked the wound under his arm. He was bleeding pretty good, but the wound wasn’t deep enough to kill him. At least, not directly. He could feel himself slowing down. Even with the stimulants in the mix, he was fighting fatigue.
He stepped into the room. No more runners, but he did find Hiller, or what was left of him. He’d gotten into the room and released the runner, but without the ax, well, he’d ended up a ground beef. Smith drug the runner into the room and closed the door behind him.