A "Winds of Change" Story
I followed Captain Nightsky back to about 1000 feet. The sun had dropped below the horizon, and I turned my night vision goggles up to full power. The ground was suddenly bathed in a soft green light.
Even as I gained altitude, I couldn't get the thought of what I'd seen down there out of my head. Jon came close to charging me only a few hours ago, I though, I might have been able to fend that off, but what if he'd done that to me?? I tried to put it out of my mind. For whatever reason, he didn't.
"Okay, Coe. Talk to me." yelled Nightsky, "What have got to the north?"
I focused tight on the flashing lights to the north. "Units M-95, A-65, H-9 and T-12. Also it looks like three SWAT vans, numbers 3, 6 and 9."
She nodded and began directing the units to position north of the plant. I looked back down at the line of cruisers heading up to a staging area near the highway. As the cars passed between buildings, I saw something that looked odd. I looked up at Nightsky a moment about to ask her what she made of it when a shout came over the radio, "Ambush!"
I jerked my head down in time to see the back window of Jon's cruiser explode in a shower of glass. Nightsky started shouting for more units to converge on the blocked line of cruisers, and I pulled my pistol again. I started to make for unit L-56, but Nightsky stopped me. "Don't worry about Jon, he's got it covered."
I didn't exactly believe her, and I punched in his radio code, "Jon! Are you okay."
His calm voice came over the radio. "I'm fine. I've got a nifty little shield, too. Don't worry about me. I'm about to do something out of the ordinary. Just stay up there!"
I tore my eyes away from his car a moment and survey the scene. There were flashes of light coming from all direction, both from officers and from the lawless. I looked back at Jon in time to see him standing outside his car, as calm as anything. What the hell is he doing?
In rapid fashion, Jon seemed to absorb the bullets flying at him, or at least their energy, and used it to knock out about half the attackers from the left side. Between the flying bullets and Powers, about half the total attackers were either dead or injured, with the rest fleeing.
There was a lull in the battle as the ambush ended, and I radioed to Jon, "You wanna tell me some more about this little 'talent' of yours before you do something else, Jon?"
He briefly filled me in, but I had to admit that all he did was make me more nervous. Not about what Jon could do, but rather what he could have done. I was a little glad that he hadn't told me about this before. I'd have likely left the apartment when I realized how nuts he was getting earlier.
"Brian! With me!", yelled the Captain. I looked up and saw her flying to the east of the plant. I saw two units pinned down under fire. I started rattling off the other units in the area, and Nightsky directed them to the area. Each one, though, got held up. Finally, I decided that I'd had enough.
My mind suddenly got very calm, and the familiar concentration returned. I held the 9mm in my hand firmly and unfolded my wings fully. My body was stable in the air at about three hundred feet. I aimed at one of the instigators, a frilled lizard morph who I could see some sort of glow from, and fired. He took the bullet in the leg and went down.
I didn't even flinch as the bullets started flying. All I kept hearing in my mind was these are my prey...
I went through the last of my ammo that way, aiming to wound. I only missed twice, but I only had two clips, and one I had emptied half of in the first encounter.
As I fired my last bullet, I heard a call over the radio. The cavalry was arriving. I looked around the sky and saw the familiar shapes of Tiltroters in the distance. Along the highway were more flashing lights.
Nightsky and I managed to get them to the staging area, and then landed there ourselves. Her to coordinate with the other unit commanders and myself to reload and rest for a minute.
I picked up more ammunition for the Glock. As he was handing it to me, another officer looked at my chest. "Are you okay?"
I looked at him and then down. There was a small hole in the body armor I was wearing. I reached a single talon into the hole and slid out a small, misshapen slug. Between the vest and my shield, I hadn't even realized I'd been shot.
I tried to look nonchalant, "Sure, why wouldn't I be?" I don't think that he bought it, but he was too busy to make it an issue.
For me, the rest of the night nearly passed without event. There were over two dozen bird morphs now in the area, all of whom were more trained in police work than I. I mostly stayed close to Nightsky and relayed what I saw on the ground. As it approached 3am, it looked like the situation was largely over. Most of the instigators were either dead, injured, arrested or had run off.
Then two things happened in quick succession. First, while I relayed the unit numbers from below, something slammed into my arm, hard. The radio that had been strapped there suddenly exploded in a shower of sparks as a bullet passed through. I ripped the strap off and let the arcing hulk fall to the ground. I looked down for the guy that fired that shot in time to see two LAPD officers (a rhino and a bull moose) beating the hell out of him with their rifle butts.
Nightsky glided over and looked at my arm. It was singed, but not hurt. "Okay, Brian. You're done here. I promised that you wouldn't be in danger and obviously that didn't happen. Fly back to the staging area and we'll take care of you."
I nodded and moved to glide back. I was at nearly 1000 feet still, but I started looking around to see if I could find Jon. I hadn't heard that he'd gone down or anything, but I also hadn't heard from him in a while. I spotted him leaning against a low wall.
I also spotted the leopard headed straight at him.
I shouted a warning, but Jon seemed too tired to hear me. Then, I felt myself go calm, very calm.
My wings went out to their maximum, You... and I tilted down to close the distance. Are...I focused on the leopard and my pistol. My... I felt the wind rushing by. Prey! I felt my talon squeeze the trigger. Twice.
The leopard fell to the ground at the last second. Jon seemed only then to see him, and I saw him strike out with his Power. I saw the leopard shake violently with the blast, then lay still.
Jon looked up and waved. I know he said something, but didn't hear it. Then I saw him throwing up.
I should have landed next to Jon, then. But I didn't. I flew to the staging area and signaled an ambulance to follow me. We arrived at the sight to see Jon still throwing up. We waited in silence for him to finish and all piled into the ambulance.
The woodchuck paramedic looked Jon over while I leaned back, my eyes closed. I was exhausted. I'd flown most of the day to get here, and most of the night under fire. I suppose that this night did show me one thing, that I did have an animal half, it just wasn't as strong as other peoples.
When I had been up in the air, firing that pistol, it had been as a predator to prey and nothing more. I didn't find it at all disturbing that I may have killed some of these rioters (though, it would turn out, that I didn't). They were simply prey. It had really taken the heat of a battle for me to find it, but I suddenly felt more complete.
I looked at Jon and saw that he was a mess. His own eyes were open, but seemed to be focused on a non-existent spot in the a foot or so in front of him. I realized that he must have been exhausted as well, his ears barely moved. I tried talking to him a few times, but I'm sure that he didn't hear me.
We arrived at the hospital, and they led us in. Jon looked to be in worse shape than me and they started looking him over. Physically, he was fine, though it was clear that he had pushed himself too far. A blood test showed that he was severely malnourished. His body had burned away almost all it's blood sugar in the battle. They started him on an IV.
Nightsky arrived and ordered me, as a last act before she released me from duty, to be looked over. A doctor started a physical, and in the course of it determined that I'd been hit no fewer than four times, including the bullet that I'd found earlier and the one that destroyed my radio. The other two had left large bruises, one on my shoulder and the other on my hip, though I had never felt them impact.
We decided not to tell Jon this. Earlier, when this all started, he seemed to blame himself for me getting drafted, so to speak. There wasn't any point in making him worry about my having been hit, since I wasn't even hurt.
They'd given him a sedative to sleep, and I decided to wait for him at the hospital. Too tired even to perch, I found a stool and propped myself up in his room. I ruffled my feathers out a bit for a little added warmth, and fell asleep myself.
Copyright 1997, Brian Eirik Coe
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