It was morning when Kat finally made it to the hospital. The sun was breaking through a low cloud cover which, although normally only mildly irritating for a night-one, was aggravated by lack of sleep and worry about Nate.
First the power goes out... completely. Then Nate gets hurt in a train accident. I mean whoever heard of a train accident in Seattle? And then, if that isn't enough I can't go to the bloody hospital.
It's too dangerous at night they said... There are gangs out there they said... Wait till morning they said...
I was lucky to get here alive.
It was true too. Kat had barely managed to win a game of high-speed tag with one of the notorious Seattle gangs. Playing tag with gangers who were currently running riot over freeways around the city, was not what Kat would have considered a good way to start the day. Still, discounting all of the bad things that had happened, she had made it here and she was in one piece. It couldn't be too bad.
Kat rocked her modified motorbike onto its stand and giving it a friendly pat. Moving quickly she made her way to the hospitals front doors and stepped into its foyer and the pleasant shade therein. She removed her helmet so as not to disturb security overly much looking around at the same time. It was surprisingly busy considering all the mayhem that was currently happening in the city. Still, all the better for finding Nate and making sure he was going to be ok. With that in mind Kat made her way quickly to the front desk and addressed an inoffensive woman stationed there.
"I'm here to see Nathan Summers."
The woman looked up from where she was juggling a blatantly makeshift radio-phone system and smiled. "Certainly. May I ask your name?"
The woman consulted something behind her desk and looked up at Kat. "Ah, very good. If you could please speak with the gentleman over there?" She gestured to a tall, moderately handsome man in an expensive suit who was propping up one of the foyer walls.
Alicia started towards him calling a 'thank you' over her shoulder.
As she approached the man he straightened up off the wall and adjusted his suit jacket.
Strange, why would someone in such a nice suit have a military haircut?
"I'm here to see Nathan Summers."
This doesn't make sense. All the military people I've met seemed kind of rigid. This man is more like a combat biker or something.
"Is he ok?" She added still worrying that perhaps they hadn't told her everything the night before.
The man smiled at her and glanced over at the receptionist seemingly looking for a signal of some sort. "He's all right, but I need to talk to you..." he trailed off as though unsure how to broach a difficult subject. Kat tried not to overreact as her heart leapt to her throat.
".... about what?"
He's watching me. He wants to find something...what though?
"I'm afraid there was an incident here last night... Nate was attacked." He paused "Could we please go somewhere a little more private?"
Alicia reflexively looked at him in the astral, trying to get some measure of the man but there was nothing she could use in his aura. Frowning she tried to get more information. "You are in charge Mr...?"
"I'm sorry, I'm Jonathan Walker. I'm helping out here right now."
I doubt that's all you're doing here Mr Walker. Oh well, there's only one way to find out.
"After you Mr Walker." Following along behind as he lead them towards a break room Kat asked in an offhandedly. "So, which agency are you with?"
He turned towards her smiling slightly as he opened the door. "I'm officially attached to the Salish-Sidhe council."
"Of course, it all makes sense now." She muttered acidically to herself, adding in a louder voice. "What can I do for you?"
Having smiled tiredly at her muttered comment Jonathan became serious again "I understand your concern for Mr. Summers," he sat down "last night, there was an attack on the hospital. Mr. Summers and a paramedic were injured in the attack." He held his hand up forestalling her questions. "I assure you he will be fine, but he, and the medic are now under protective custody..." He trailed off again.
Kat took a breath as questions bubbled up in her mind but stopped when he started speaking again.
"There was a mage involved... your friend was able to withstand his attack, but he was injured. He's a bit groggy, and we need to wait until he's fully conscious before we allow him to have visitors."
Yeah, especially visitors you can't verify if they're here to silence him or not.
"And you are ordering this under whose authority?" There was no way Kat was going to sit harmlessly out of the way if people were threatening Nate. "Nate is a Renraku citizen, I am a local citizen, and you are a representative of neither government."
"I am merely the messenger," he replied "He is under the protective custody of the US Marshal's office. We believe the Mage that attacked him is wanted on federal warrants... we also believe that the mage in question will try to... eliminate any perceived threat..."
There you go. Let's lock him up nice and safe.
"Well and good. So I guess the question is, are you going to verify me somehow or do I need to talk to the US Marshals office?" Kat knew her voice was raising but there wasn't anything she could do to control it.
And perhaps teach you all not to fuck with people.
Jonathan looked at her. "Under normal circumstances... I would run you through the computer."
She thought for a moment. "There is of course a slightly easier way to do this."
And I don't really want to call Dad, he'll just 'get me somewhere safe'.
"And that would be?" Jonathan queried.
"Have you actually talked to Nate about who I am?"
Jonathan looked at her. "I'm afraid we haven't been able to talk to him yet."
God, it's worse than I thought.
With her voice losing some of its edge and taking on her underlying worry she explained quickly. "I guess that would explain it. I presume you've heard of Bill Waterson?" At his nod she continued "I'm his daughter."
Proffering her cred-stick she smiled at him. "You could check the papers for a picture of both of us I believe."
Jonathan tilted his head slightly eyebrows raised.
"If we can be quick though? Nate is probably freaking out about now."
Jonathan nodded and pulled a pocket read out. His eyes narrowed slightly in recollection. "Fund raising dinner... last year... a reporter shoved a camera in your face... no?"
"And I broke it along with a couple of his fingers?" She smiled, some of her former confidence returning. "That'd be me. Sorry I didn't stay for dinner, I was busy getting in trouble backstage."
Jonathan nodded, handing back her cred-stick. "As I recall my mother was quite impressed."
Alicia smiled while giving the requisite thumbprint for verification. "A supporter." The humour value of the moment bringing a mischevious grin to her face. "she's the only person I've heard of actually agreeing with me."
Bringing the conversation back on topic Jonathan looked at her, all traces of humour gone from his face. "I must warn you... Mr. Summers has been unconscious since last night. The fight left him rather drained..."
Oh god Nate, what have you done this time?
Alicia nodded curtly, "If I can see him now?" The strain was beginning to show again.
Jonathan gave her an apologetic looked. "Once he's awake..." his tone was gentle but firm "We can wait outside his room..."
I want to see him now!
"Ok let's go."
We'll see what happens when I know where he is.
He lead her to the elevator, "I'm sorry it has to be this way" he gave her an encouraging smile and pressed 4. A brief pause and the doors opened. They walked down a long corridor till they arrived at the last pair of doors. Kat who was still periodically scanning the astral was shocked at the number of spirits that seemed to be on guard.
What have you gotten yourself into Nate?
The last two doors were protected by a strong looking ward, dashing Alicia's hopes of a quick sprint into one of the rooms.
"What is this?"
Jonathan took a moment to reply, seemingly communing with the spirits first. "A defensive shield. No one can enter without authorisation."
With a patient and guard in each room it seems.
"Which room is Nate's?"
He pointed at the left one.
"And the right one?"
"The medic..." he paused, "my sister."
"I'm sorry to hear that" she relaxed slightly though belying her words.
So he's pretty safe then.
He nodded towards the chairs and as they sat launched into the story of what happened the previous night. Kat listened fascinated by what had happened then sank back, thinking about all the implications.
While she was distracted Jonathan suddenly focused on four men down the hall. Quietly he spoke to her under his breath. "Alicia... those four men... they don't belong here, but I think... I think we're supposed to react to them..."
Kat nodded in reply and let out her breath slowly. Switching into astral vision she glanced down the hall. From what she could tell two of the intruders were muscle and two were mages, one more powerful than the other.
"That's a diversion? Scary."
At that point Jonathan winced slightly.
"Someone's trying to break through the shielding from outside." He growled.
Without responding Kat pulled her phone out and hit the auto-dial number for her father. It rang once and was answered by a familiar voice.
"Dad?" Jonathan was saying something in the background but it was impossible to carry on two conversations at the same time "I'm at the hospital and there have been some attacks on Nate." She listened to her fathers response and tried to forestall his fears.
"Yes I'm ok but the police are worried someone is going to try again." He promised her some guards would be sent down as soon as possible and told her to be careful. "Thanks" she said and hung up wondering what was going to happen.
Jonathans features seemed to be morphing between his own and a bear and a bird thing. It was very confusing and not proper shaman like behavior ... assuming that's what it was. Kat on the other hand stayed where she was seated pulling her helmet from under the chair and checking it for blemishes that might impair its usefulness in an accident.
"They aren't going for subtle." Jonathan said in a resigned voice. "I'll be right back." Kat looked up in response, seeing two of the men bring up shotguns.
Kat pushed her will into creating a barrier of force between them and the guns. Meanwhile Jonathan was up, off the bench, and countering the magic that had started to pour at them from the two mages. His features flickered through several different apparently shamanic masks as he shielded them then threw lightning out at the group approaching. The two with guns fell writhing to the floor dropping their guns in the process.
"Freddie! Help!" Kat screamed and a small being made of a shiny, constantly flowing, liquid coalesced in front of her. It stepped through her physical barrier as though it didn't exist and moved quietly towards the intruders.
One of the gun wielders obviously some kind of street samurai picked up his shotgun and fired it, the shot peppering Kats barrier and destroying it. Freddie responded immediately jumping on him and forcing him into a very different kind of fight. Kat on the other hand staggered under the backlash of her spell being shattered. Gathering herself as much as possible Kat threw her helmet at the mages trying to distract them but missing completely. Beside her Jonathan let out a growl and struck out at the more powerful mage. The pair facing them reacted in tandem and as the stronger shielded them, the weaker one launched an attack. Jonathan was forced off his own attack to shield Kat and himself, standing like a rock in the currents of raw power. The power surged around him and through the corridor flowing over into the physical world causing windows to crack and light bulbs to pop in showers of sparks.
Alicia was grateful for the small respite and used her breather to try and levitate one of the shotguns to her. Sadly it was slightly late and the second gun wielder managed to grab hold of it quickly, wresting it from the spells grasp.
Alicia tried another spell, hoping this would be of some use and watched the world slow down around her. Pulling her only weapons, a pair of composite knives, from their concealed sheaths in her jacket she threw them at him. They connected although not well cutting into his fingers and ruining his aim.
Meanwhile, Jonathan was not a happy camper. While his face had begun looking more and more like a bear, his attitude had grown to resemble one as well. Moving with surprising speed he crossed the space to the two mages and began to fight physically with the two mages who showed surprising resilience.
Alicia was not about to let her protector go that easily and entered the fray in his wake. The now injured, second gun wielder also seemingly a street samurai was trying to target Jonathan with his shotgun and she couldn't let that happen. Diving forward she rolled across the samurai hitting his chest hard with her shoulder and again distracting him from his intent. As she came to her feet the power from Jonathan's duel sent shivers up and down her spine. Bursts of light played in the corner of her vision and her hair stood on end as he delivered an electrical bolt at point blank.
Sparing a glance at the first samurai Kat was disturbed to see that he was in the throes of some kind of fit. She tore her gaze from him in time to see the second climb to his feet.
Should have shot me first idiot!
Not letting him recover from his mistake she stepped inside of the gun and drove her stiffened fingers into his throat. As he flinched back she stepped in again striking him in the midriff. This continued for several seconds till Kat delivered a double fisted strike to his sternum hoping to finish him off. The effect was slightly more than she had hoped for as her strike drove him through Jonathan's barrier causing some kind of shock. Kat arched back in pain and by the time she had recovered it was all over. Jonathan stood over the bodies of two mages and her opponent was a charred corpse on the ground.
Kat quickly moved over to a fire alarm and tripped it hoping that help would arrive before whoever this distraction had been for did.
She turned to Jonathan who stood in a daze. "Let me through the barrier J!" she screamed. Jonathan seemed to snap out of his stupor and gestured to the barrier. "Go!" He yelled. "Check the ducts!"
Kat ran to Nate's room, there was an alert guard standing protectively by the bed but nothing else. Pulling herself up to look into the air duct she saw a drone heading away from her, towards the other room. Quickly she ran out and into the other room only to slide to a halt as its only conscious occupant pulled a gun and pointed it at her keeping himself between her and presumably, Jonathan's sister.
Kat threw up a barrier between them and pointed at the roof, putting two fingers on her head and acting like a bug. The policeman didn't react though simply keeping his gun on her.
Come on think. Think!
She tried to move so that the policeman could see where the drone would come out without taking his eyes off her.
"Stay right there!" he warned continuing to aim at her.
Kat growled slightly trying to work out a way to warn him, then she smelt something. Sniffing the air in an obvious fashion Alicia could tell that something was burning and then a hole appeared in the wall.
Big enough for something to shoot through.
Giving subtlety up as a lost cause she screamed. "Drone!" and threw up a second barrier at the wall. Almost immediately a bullet flattened out on her barrier causing her to sag from effort. It did however attract the policeman's attention and she could drop the first barrier.
"I have a barrier up, can you do anything?" She asked. The drone fired a second time and the strain of the day started to show on Kat. She staggered slightly pushing her effort into the barrier as she tried to drag a chair in front of the hole.
The policeman just looked at her. "Get Jonathan! He has lightning!" Kat yelled. The policeman made a half step towards the door and then, as Jonathan burst in, belatedly gasped "Drone". Jonathan fired a bolt of electricity at the wall causing severe scorching.
"Is it dead?" Kat asked knees buckling underneath her. Another bolt of lightning came. "It is now." Jonathan replied.
Kat dropped the barrier and slid to the floor breathing heavily. "My father sent some people, they'll re-enforce you in about 7 minutes."
Jonathan was busy checking out the drone but once that was done he slid down beside her.
"Are you ok?" Kat asked. Jonathan nodded, breathing heavily. "Well done," he glanced around the room, gaze lingering on his sister "thanks."
A shimmering presence arrived "That was fun." It said "Remember you've got two more." and disappeared. Kat smiled. "Bye Freddie." She paused turning to Jonathan. "Thank you, I thought we were in real trouble there. You're slightly more than police right?" He smiled gently at her. "You could say that."
Kat was struck by a thought. "I'll see if you can get on our table at the next benefit, it'll be more interesting than the usual stuffed shirts." Jonathan grinned. "Thank you" He closed his eyes, mind apparently drifting "Nathan is awake... Marshal Casey is taking his statement now..."
Kat just smiled.
Copyright © 2002 Shane Riley. All rights reserved - - -Jonathan dialog by deckerM
Return to Story Page