Nate rattled the handle a few times. 'Good enough, lets go.'
They hadn't gone far when they met Rick coming the other way. His look of surprise quickly turned into a relieved smile. 'I was coming to check on you guys. Everything all right?'
Nate shook his head. 'No… Rick, you seen anyone suspicious around?'
'Been all quiet here, what's wrong?' Rick shoved his hands into his pockets as he came closer
Nate turned and gestured back up the corridor, toward the generator yard. 'I think we've got problems, someone deliberately destroyed the generator.'
Rick drew level with Nate, pulling his hands out of his pocket he made like he was about give Nate a comradely slap on the back. 'You got magic though, you can deal with it, right?'
Jess crashed into Rick before his 'backslap' could connect, her torch and the slap patch Rick had been holding went skidding across the floor.
Surprised, Nate turned to see them struggling on the floor. 'What the hell?' What's going on?? Why is Jess fighting him? Unsure what was going on, Nate hesitated…
To his eyes, Jess' attack looked uncontrolled and uncoordinated, and it took him a moment to realize that a remarkable amount of her blows were connecting, usually with vulnerable points. Then something happened that ended his uncertainty; Rick pulled out a long bladed knife and slashed at Jess with it.
'Hell!' Suddenly grateful that he had started drawing in mana earlier, Nate released some in the form of a telekinesis spell that slammed Rick's knife hand into the floor, a second ahead of Jess' elbow connecting with the underside of Rick's elbow. Grimacing in pain, Rick grimly hung onto the knife and tried to swing it again.
No you don’t.
Nate made a grasping gesture and the knife pulled out of Rick's hand, span round as it flew through the air, letting Nate catch it by the handle.
Jess' other elbow connected with Rick's temple and he went limp. She rolled away from her opponent and came to her knees, one hand reaching into her vest.
Still not sure who's side he was on, Nate watched carefully. She's pulling a gun… He un-tensed slightly when she pointed it at Rick.
'Jess, you want to tell me what the HELL is going on here?'
She didn't take her eyes off Rick's recumbent form. 'He had a tranq patch. Watch your step, it went flying when I tackled him…' Without taking her aim off Rick, she edged round so she could look back in the direction he'd come from.
Nate looked puzzled. 'A tranq patch? So?'
'He was going to slap it on you.'
'He was trying to knock me out? What the hell for?'
Jess' expression changed gradually from confusion to one of shock 'Nothing… unless…' She grabbed her radio. 'Dispatch, this is M1-7, security has been breached at Harborview probably ganger threat inside the hospital. I repeat: Security has been…'
Nate went pale as he looked at Rick. 'Holy cow, he was with them… take out the magic user… the biggest threat to them…'
Jess looked up and nods. 'We had better sweep this floor. I'm laying odds emergency is out... too much blood... they'd want something quiet... passive victims/hostages....'
They looked at each other for a second, turning the options over in their heads. Nate hit on the answer a moment before Jess did.
'...ICU.' He turned and ran down the corridor, drawing in mana as fast as he could, his Shamanic mask blossoming around him.
Jess retrieved her flashlight and applied the slap patch to Rick's arm, then set off in pursuit of Nathan
She caught up with him not far from the ICU ward. 'Nate… slow down… we've got to do this carefully.'
Jess shivered as she approached him, she had encountered Shamans who took on the aspect of animals in their mask, but never one like this before - a mask that played directly on your subconscious fears. The air around Nate was cold, he looked gaunter than she remembered, his skin had paled to an all most dead white and the light from her torch didn’t illuminate him anywhere near as much as it should.
Nate was studying the doors into ICU. 'They're not in there. Where next?'
'Huh? How do you know?' Jess paused and examined the doors. Someone, presumably Rick or his friends, had barricaded the doors. Sealing the doors and trapping those inside. Not the kind of thing you do if you're in there with them.
Nate glanced at her. 'Ideas?' He whispered
Jess shivered again in the cold aura that was radiating off Nathan, and stepped away from him slightly. Then she noticed something interesting: despite generating a chill cold enough to freeze water, Nate seemed quite comfortable and - perhaps more importantly - his breath didn’t hang in the air when he exhaled. Its an illusion… Jess thought. The air isn't really cold
She glanced around… 'If they're not in there, they could be anywhere… and we don't even know how many there are…'
Nate was thinking, turning over options in his head. 'I could ask the buildings spirit, but if they've got a magic user with them, he'll probably notice.'
Jess nodded, now that they didnt know where their quarry were, options became sharply limited. 'And we cant just gas the place…'
Nate looked up. 'I've got an idea, may be able to draw them out of where ever they are.'
Jess looked at him questioningly.
'You'll love it. Get out of sight, and I'll try and draw them in.'
Nate glanced around for a hiding place and then hid behind the coffee machine. Jess hesitated for a moment - there were remarkably few hiding places that couldn’t be seen from one of the ways into to the room… the stairwell? No…. behind the seats then.
Crouching behind the row of chairs, Jess drew her gun and flicked the torch off, reducing the illumination to the dim glow from the battery powered exit signs. Nate looked across at her, and when she signaled that she was ready, he cleared his throat and started talking.
Jess looked at him in surprise… the voice she heard wasn’t coming from him, it was coming from down a nearby corridor and didn’t sound like Nate at all… it took her a few moments to place it… Rick.
'Guys?' The voice was full of pain and anger.
'ahh, damnit… I could use some help here… guys?
There was silence.
Nate frowned and tried again, the voice coming from the entrance to the stairwell this time.
'Guys?… I got the shaman, but the medic bitch stuck me with a scalpel and got away…'
A voice came echoing down from upstairs.
'Didja get him?'
Nate grinned at Jess and punched a fist into the air. Victory!
'Yeah, I got him… he's out man, but the medic is still loose. Can ya send some help down huh? I'm bleedin here…'
'Don’t worry. Spook'll be down in a minute just hold on, neh?'
'Got it, I can see where she went.'
There were the sounds of footsteps on the stairs, several people descending cautiously.
'Don't worry man, we'll get her.'
The voice started drifting down the corridor directly opposite the stairwell. With a little luck, the people on the stairs would follow it down the corridor, leaving their backs to Nate and Jess.
'Hurry up will ya? She'll get away.'
The stairwell door swung open.
'She ain't going anywhere. We got people on the doors... just hold yer horses.'
'Damnit, what's taking you so long? I owe that bitch.'
'Just being careful.' Four figures emerged from the stairwell, the first three were dressed in gang colors and carrying a variety of hand weapons. The fourth, which had to be 'Spook', was slightly behind them, dressed in a similar fashion but unarmed and floating several inches off the ground. Great! Thought Nathan a damn mage, just what we don’t need. Well, its obvious who I go for.
The lead ganger glanced around the room suspiciously. 'Rick?'
Nate checked where his voice spell was, and made sure it would sound like it was just out of sight round a bend in the corridor.
Two of the gangers started across the room toward where the voice had last come from. Spook held back, grabbing his companions arm to stop him from following. He was regarding the corridor with suspicion.
Damn, he's caught on.
Spook raised his voice. 'Rick? Where are you?'
Nate swallowed, the odds had just increased significantly. If the mage was suspicious, there was every chance he might pierce Nate's illusion before he and Jess were ready. 'Down here, come on will ya?'
The two lead gangers continued across the room toward the source of the voice.
No more time. He looked at Jess, pointed at himself and then at Spook and the ganger with him. Jess nodded, indicated herself and then the other two gangers. Nate gave her a thumbs up and then held his hand up where she could see it, the first three fingers extended. Readying spells for his first attack, he started a silent count down.
At zero he launched both spells toward Spook and his companion. Spook yelped as he was poked in the eyes by a Magic Fingers spell and his companion shouted in surprise as he lifted bodily into the air and crashed into the mage.
Behind him, Nate heard the thud of somebody falling over, and hoped that Jess was ok, until the mage was down, he couldn’t risk diverting his attention.
Forming the magic fingers spell into a fist, he punched Spook as hard as he could manage, then hurled the levitated ganger down the corridor. That’s one down
Unprepared for the nature of the assault, Spook was caught off guard, but quickly recovered. Dropping the levitation spell he quickly located Nate and with eyes watering hurled a combat spell at the Shaman.
Nate felt the spell as it came in, but was too slow to stop it. He staggered sideways as if someone had slapped him. His retaliation was no where near as effective; Spook was prepared now, and his defenses were up. The mage swayed slightly as the telekinetic punch hammered into his shielding.
Spook smiled and Nate doubled up like someone had just gut punched him.
Wheezing for breath, Nate frantically examined his opponents shielding. He's too strong for me, far to strong. I'll never break through his spell shield in time… Another attacks hit him and his head snapped sideways, blood flying from his nose. Desperation made his thought processes run like quicksilver
NO! I musn't fail! THINK!
A sudden flash of inspiration, and Nate smiled. Spook just about had time to look puzzled before the stairwell door flew open, smashing him into the wall. I wont get another chance. The door swung quickly back and then slammed into Spook again and again, beating him into unconsciousness.
On his knees and breathing hard, Nate watched as the door swung away slowly. Spook stood there for a moment, then slumped sideways.
Nate staggered to his feet and turned to help Jess. She had already dealt with one of the gangers, he lay on the floor nearby, peacefully asleep with a slap patch covering the side of his face. Jess was grappling with the remaining ganger, trying to stay clear of his knife. She rolled away from, but as she stood, he grabbed at her ankles and she fell again.
Fighting though the dizziness and nausea he felt, how hard did he hit me? Nate forced himself to cast another levitate spell. The ganger hurtled straight up and hit the ceiling hard, then flew sideways and slammed into a wall before Nate dropped him again. He didn’t get up. Nate felt his legs weakening and leaned heavily on the wall.
Jess bounced to her feet and looked round, still keyed up and looking for threats. After a moment she relaxed and looked at Nathan. 'You okay?'
Nate gently lowered himself to the floor, his head swimming. He wiped at the blood running freely from his nose. 'That mage… almost beat me… he was stronger… far stronger… didn't expect that… trick with … the door though.'
Nate shook his head. 'I ... hate ... fighting...'
Jess nodded. 'I'll agree with you... on that one.' she looked around. 'Better tranq the others, just in case...'
Nate looked up. 'Yeah… gimmie a minute here… 's just drain…'
Jess patted him on the shoulder. 'I'll be right back.'
She stuck a tranq patch on Spooks neck, grabbed his arms and dragged him over. She went back for the ganger that Nate had thrown down the corridor. As she was dragging him back, the stairwell door opened again.
Neither of them realized there was another ganger until they heard the tiny metallic sound of a round being chambered. Jess stiffened and stood quite still. It was right behind her.
Nate looked round wildly, trying to locate the gunman.
The gun pressed against Jess' ribs, the ganger smiled over her shoulder at Nathan.
'You stay right there or she's dead.'
Nate raised his hands slowly. 'No problem, I ain't moving.' He started turning options over, looking for a way to end the threat. Eyepoke? No, he might shoot. Try and grab the gun with a levitate spell? Same problem…there's always a solution… THINK!
Nate watched the ganger carefully, looking for an opening. 'But if you kill her, then what?'
'That depends on you. You stay cool and no one gets hurt. Got it?'
'I'm cool, Now, what are you gonna do?' Keep him calm, it buys you more time…
The man looked around uncertainly… his comrades were unconscious on the floor around him, they hadn't got what they'd come for… 'I'm going to think…'
Nate was still stuck for a solution. Damnit, if only I could cast a sleep spell! 'No hurry, take your time. No one wants to rush this…' And the more time you spend thinking, the more likely the 'Star are to get here. Lets hope you think slow.
The ganger glanced around indecisively for a moment, then made his mind up. 'Your gonna go open the doors.'
Great, we got a freaking genius on our hands! Stall for time! 'Which ones? The main doors? I just wanna be clear on what's happening here.'
The ganger indicated the corridor that led the main lobby with a jerk of his head. 'Your gonna open the doors and let the others in…'
All through this Jess had been thinking of ways out. The gun was pointed at her armor vest, even at this close range; it may stop the bullet. But Nate didn’t know she was wearing a vest. If she struggled, the man would shoot. He was twitchy enough as it was, despite Nate's efforts to keep him calm; and Nate obviously couldn’t risk anything whilst she was held hostage. The simple answer was to take the hostage out the equation then.
She caught Nate's eye and held his gaze for a moment, then went completely limp, as if she had fainted. The ganger struggled with the sudden dead weight, but couldn’t keep her up. As she fell away from the ganger, she saw Nate's sudden brilliant smile and then heard the gangers yelp of shock.
She hit the floor rolling, and came to her feet with her gun in hand, aimed at her recent captor. The ganger was fighting his weapon as if it had a mind of its own. Every time he tried to aim at either of them; the gun would jerk to one side. The expression of concentration on Nate's face was enough for her.
She clicked her safety off and growled 'Drop it.'
The man froze as he realized that the tables had been turned. Then he let go of the gun. It squirmed out of his grip and flew through the air towards Jess, flipping over in midair to present its handle to her. She snatched it out the air and tucked it away.
'Put your hands on your head and get down on your knees....'
The ganger complied, but slowly.
Nate shook his head to clear it. He was beginning to suspect that Spook had hit him a lot harder than he had thought. He focussed on the ganger who was glaring at Jess as he slowly got down on his knees.
'You wont shoot me.' He was telling her. 'you’re a medic.'
Jess gave him an innocent smile. 'That just means I know where to put the bullets so they won't kill you.'
There was a brief flicker of doubt but then he repeated 'You CANT shoot me, you’re a medic and I'm unarmed.' Muscles in his legs began to tense.
Nate had had enough. He stepped up beside Jess and held out his hand for the spare gun. 'She's a medic. I'm not.'
Jess handed him the gangers gun and he aimed at the kneeling man, his face absolutely unreadable.
The ganger considered the odds for a moment, then gave up. Jess edged round behind him like she was about to cuff him, and stuck a slap patch on the back of his neck.
'Say nighty night…' She caught him and eased him to the floor. Then she looked at Nate, who was looking very ill. 'Are you ok?'
Nate glanced at her and shook his head. 'I… I don’t know. He said there were more outside, but we've been relatively quiet in here so far. Maybe they haven't heard?'
A banging at the main doors came echoing down the hallway. Nate looked weary. 'So much for that theory. I….I'll hold the door as long as I can…' He started slowly down the corridor, one hand on the wall for balance.
Jess switched her radio and hammered at the send button ' Dispatch, this is M1-7 requesting IMMEDIATE backup at Harborview - we've got trouble here. I repeat this is...
By the time Nate reached the doors, they were rocking as those outside pounded on them. Fighting back the nausea that was rising inside him, Nate cast a barrier spell, layering it over the door, reinforcing it. The pounding stopped. Sweating and with his head swimming, Nathan waited.
'…this is M1-7. Immediate support required at Harborview…'
There was a crash and the door rocked in its frame. Battering ram.
Nate staggered as his barrier absorbed the impact. Slumped against the wall, he raised one shaking hand, palm toward the door and forced everything he had into maintaining that barrier.
Nate gasped and staggered backwards; his nose started bleeding again from the strain.
He ground his teeth and forced himself to stand. You're not getting in. No whilst I can still stand.
Jess could see Nate at the other end of the hall, slumped against the wall and twitching every time the ram outside hit the door. She was about to start repeating her message again when a reply finally came through.
'M1-7 be advised... Lone Star units now at your location... surrender all weapons.'
Almost laughing in relief she ran down the hallway, calling to Nate.
'It’s the good guys! Let them in! It's the 'star!'
Nate didn't look away from the door. He staggered again as the ram hit the door. 'Your sure?'
Nate nodded and dropped the spell. Weary beyond words, he staggered backwards and Jess only just caught him before he fell. She eased him down into a sitting position and examined him. He was gray faced and sweating, blood still trickling from his nose. He seemed barely aware that she was there.
This is not good. She thought. How hard did Spook hit him? And it didn't help matters that he was forced to keep going.
The door rocked under a final impact and the lock gave out. Lone star officers charged through and spread out through the hospital. The first two in leveled their weapons at Nate and Jess - taking no chances.
One of them addressed Jess. 'Did you put the call in? Outside, now.'
Jess indicated Nate. 'He's with me. He's hurt-- we need to get him to ER-- now!'
The officer nodded. 'Fine, just keep him out our way.'
Jess turned her attention back to Nathan 'Nate, hon? We made it.'
Nate blinked at her. 'We did?'
She nodded. 'Yeah. They're gonna want to ask us some questions. But yeah, we made it.'
He gave her a slightly wobbly smile. 'tha's good… 'cos I don' feel too….' The sentence was never finished, Nate's legs gave out and he toppled slowly sideways.
Jess struggled to catch him and lay him down gently, but it was awkward at best.
She relaxed for a moment until she noticed the blood on her hand. She frantically began examining Nate, realiziation finally dawning that it wasn't his-- and things were much worse than she'd originally thought.
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