The stars are cold overhead, and he can taste their distance, because it is measured in time.

She plays a dirge for the moon, and he records it to later make a battle hymn. As she plays, the strains of violin ghost through the city, and the Dersites look up. Identical smug tics drag up the corners of their mouths before their faces smooth to default. The crypts won’t be well-guarded for long.

The light of the constellations fluctuates with her tempo, their infinitesimal flickers declaring ‘soon’ for a value of soon whose picoseconds are engraved on his bones.

He jumps easily from the signal tower to the main portion of the roof. It’s only twenty feet. It won’t do any good if they’re allowed to interrupt her. There’s only one door that opens onto the roof, and only one fire escape that leads this far up. They are spaced such that he can keep an eye on both, and he does. He needn’t do more than that, not yet, so he stands with his hands in his back pockets and his shades firmly in place.

There will be no flashstepping tonight. He is here to defend and protect, and it’s not the drop to the street that he’s protecting. The first Dersite bursts through the door like the door did her a personal injury, then slows as she sees Rose up on the signal tower. She walks forward entranced, weapon in hand. She walks forward almost into Dave’s arms, but encounters Caledscratch instead.

They come in waves, lured by a melody they can’t escape. They fall like drunk surfers, unwilling or unable to pay attention to the steel and stars cutting them off from their goal.

He is sweaty and covered in blood not his own, and her melody has changed, no longer hitting high notes. The waves have slowed. They will not be ambushed on their way to their goal.

She floats down to join him, and blood leaks down her face where a string has snapped and recoiled.

He takes her hand and they take their tumor to the crypts.
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