"Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
Brooder dropped behind the car as another barrage of bullets hit the passenger side. This had been going on for too long. He looked over at Thomas and could see him going into another seizure.
“Dammit!” he spat. This was not the time for any of this to be happening.
“Tell me again why they’re shooting at you,” Jess said, crouching next to Thomas, checking his vitals with one hand and holding a pistol in the other.
“Seems that some guys I stopped from terrorizing an old lady are part of this gang,” Brooder replied as he popped a couple of rounds from his pistol at the gangers. “They recognized me and didn’t hesitate at shooting me. Especially when someone yelled ‘Star’.” Two more shots.
“Try not to create any more work for me, ok?” Jess said, shooting of a couple of rounds of her own.
“Gel rounds,” Brooder said, slamming in another clip. “I am such an idiot.”
Two minutes earlier, Brooder had approached the gangers, hoping that he could at least convince them to have this fight somewhere else. Jess had warned him that the ambulance would be hard pressed to enter a gang war zone. And with almost no help coming from the Star with any speed, Thomas might not make it.
“Try the device,” Brooder had said to Jess. “I’ll try to talk to these guys.”
“Be careful,” Jess had replied. “I don’t need to patch you up, too.”
No sooner had Brooder started walking toward the gathering gangers, than he spotted the ganger called Slammer. Unfortunately, Slammer also recognized him.
“That’s the fragger!” Slammer yelled. “That’s the fragger that messed with my crew! Busted up Stimpy!”
“He’s Star!” someone else yelled.
Then war did erupt.
Now, Brooder and Jess were pinned behind a car with a dying man and two rival gangs shooting at them. Brooder looked at Jess.
“Not your fault,” Jess replied. “But I’d like to know why they haven’t advanced on us yet?”
“Because they hit me with two spells and probably five bullets and I didn’t go down,’ Brooder said. “They’re a little nervous right now.”
Jess looked at Brooder, amazed.
“Two spells? And bullets? How are you standing?”
“Bullets only hurt as long as I let ‘em,” Brooder answered as he fired off a few more shots. “Most of ‘em hit my coat anyway.”
“Great,” Jess said. “Any idea how many are left?”
“Twenty,” Brooder answered. “Give or take a couple.”
Brooder looked at Sandy. Thankfully, she had pulled Tamara into a nearby shop. One less target for the gangers.
“M1-7, this is dispatch. Do you copy?”
Jess grabbed the radio from her belt.
“Copy dispatch!” she said. “We can use some help.”
“Roger that, M1-7. We are aware of the current situation. The truck is there but they’re not willing to enter the shoot out without backup.”
“Dammit!” Brooder swore again. “This guy has to get out of here.”
“I know,” Jess replied. “Dispatch. Are any Star units in the area?”
“Negative, M1-7,” the dispatcher replied. “You are on your own. Do you have backup?”
Jess looked at the small pistol she carried. Not much by the way of backup.
“Roger, dispatch. I also have first responder with me. He’s carrying.”
While Jess talked to the dispatcher, Brooder was looking for the ambulance. He spotted it parked two blocks away, lights off, trying not to attract attention. Now he had to figure out how to get Thomas there in one piece.
“Looks like we’re on our own,” Jess said, interrupting his thoughts. “Johnson and Curtis won’t bring the truck into a firefight and there are no Lone Star units that can help.”
“I have an idea,” Brooder said. “And don’t look at me like that. Yeah, my last idea stunk. But this is our only option. Did you try out the device?”
“No,” Jess answered. “I didn’t want to have it backfire when you might have needed my help.”
“Great,” Brooder said sarcastically. “That means we really need to get him out of here. Here is my plan. They want me. Flat and simple. You’re clear as a medic. And Sandy can probably get clear helping with Tamara. I want you to get Thomas and Tamara to the truck. It’s over there.”
Jess looked in the indicated direction. When she saw the distance, she looked back.
“There is no way we can carry him that far without getting hit.”
“We’re not,” Brooder said. “You are.”
Jess looked stunned. She then started shaking her head.
“No. You’re not going to do it.”
“I am. And it’s the only option. And, from a military officer, that’s an order.”
Without waiting for an answer, Brooder yelled over the car.
“Slammer! I want to talk!”
“Frag off!” Slammer replied. “You ain’t got nothing more than death coming.”
“I have a paramedic here! She’s neutral. And by gang rules, a non-target!”
“Frag that! She’s with you. She’s…” He trailed off.
“Let that mean what I hope it means,” Brooder said to himself.
“Law dog!” a new voice yelled.
“I’m not with Lone Star,” Brooder yelled back. “I’m a regular citizen.”
“Whatever,” the voice said. “Your medic has passage. Does she have anyone to take?”
“Three,” Brooder answered. “One injured, one pregnant, and a nurse.”
The moments ticked by without a response. Brooder was worried they wouldn’t let Sandy go. When he looked at the store she was in, he could see her looking out the window, shaking her head. She had heard and wasn’t going to go quietly.
“Alright!” the voice yelled. You got 5 minutes to get ‘em clear. Then you’re ours.”
Brooder sighed. He quickly began helping Jess load her gear. Jess had already radioed the ambulance with the situation. With lights and sirens going, the truck pulled onto the scene. Sandy brought Tamara out of the store. The timing couldn’t have been better. Tamara looked like her labor was progressing quickly. The baby wouldn’t wait for much longer.
After loading Tamara and Thomas into the ambulance, Sandy approached Brooder.
“I’m not letting you do this,” she said. “Get in the truck. We can get out of here.”
“I can’t,” Brooder replied, watching the sadness creep into her face. “It’s implied that I have to stay. If I try to go, all of you will be in danger. I can’t have that.”
“But they’ll kill you,” Sandy said, starting to cry.
“Hey now,” Brooder said, wiping a tear from her eye. “You’ve known me what, 3 hours? I’m not worth crying over.”
“Time’s almost up, law dog!”
“Go. Don’t worry. I know where they’ll take you. I’ll find you. I promise.”
“You’d better, Phillip Duvall,” Sandy said, taking his hand. “You’d better.”
With that, she climbed into the truck. Jess rolled her motorcycle next to him.
“Be careful, Lieutenant,” she said.
Jess started her bike and started off.
From the back of the ambulance, Sandy watched Brooder’s shrinking form dive back behind the car. Then, in horror, she watched as he spun violently around and hit the ground. Then the ambulance turned a corner and she couldn’t see him anymore. Sandy cried.
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