The Long Night
A "Winds of Change" Story
By Jon Sleeper
I hopped in the passenger seat behind Mike, focused on what could happen. God. This is bad. And I've had no formal training except with that bloodhound-morph. What the hell am I doing anyway? I really had no idea. At the moment I felt like I wanted to run and hide, but my mental state was very fragile at the moment. I did not want to let It win.
I watched the roof, seeing Nightsky, Brian, and the other bird-morph officers take off for the old power plant. A better question might be: What have I gotten Brian into? I did not know, none of us from the total rookie (i.e. myself) to the thirty-year veteran had ever seen anything like this. I snapped on my shield in preparation in the cruiser, sticking my arm out the window to take KE from the wind going by. I normally did this to get up a charge. But something peculiar happened. I was charging about four times as fast as I used to. I looked at Mike. "Maybe something about that velvet was holding back your Power somehow. Now that it's gone you've got a faster charging time."
"I hope so. I'm going to need it." We got the Captain's message about where most of the activity was located. Two hundred people! I heard Mike growl dangerously.
A minute or so later I'd worked up to Violet, my maximum charge level, and happened to look where Brian and the others were in the air. I saw flashes and the muffled pops of gunfire. "Mike! Stop the car there's something going on up there!"
"I heard 'em!" He slammed on the brakes and pulled over, letting the other cars go by. My night vision is much better than it used to be. Colors are muted, but I could clearly see when Steve got hurt, then when Bronc dove and caught him. Our nickname for him in the department is "Diver". And it fits.
Brian was losing altitude fast, making these incredible maneuvers that in any other situation would of garnered applause, but this was serious, and then I caught sight of what was chasing him. Three other bird morphs, their feathers painted in a gang pattern (a flock-gang, I guess) were converging on him and Nightsky. I had to do something, but they were still too high. They had to get within five hundred feet if I was to be accurate. I transferred a Green charge to my hands.
I've got lots of control over my Pulses. The color denotes how powerful a charge is, and I don't have to use all of it at once. Most know the colors humans can see is ROY G BIV. It turns out that it's a perfect scale for how powerful my pulses are. Red, Orange, or Yellow are kind of like "stun" on a Star Trek phaser. You get the breath knocked out of you, and maybe lose your balance, but nothing else. Green's effects are borderline, it'll blow out a weak wall, or cook someone a little, maybe blow their fur off and make a small shockwave when it hits. It's when I get to Blue, Indigo, and Violet that things get really violent. That brick wall, for instance. I had not yet known what I could do, and sent a Indigo pulse into the well-built wall that was behind our assailants. It collapsed on top of them in a pile, and gave me a guilt trip that still bothered me.
In the accuracy department it's my hypersensitivity that gives it to me. It's almost like I can just see where the person is, and pinpoint them. No matter where they move, I can still "see" them.
They dropped below five hundred, lower, lower… Three hundred. I focused on my target, "locking on", cupped my hands, made the fireball-type move and sent it on it's way. Direct hit, gotcha!. The raven (?) took it head on, he was in the middle so the shockwave knocked his buddies for a loop, and they flew off. Brian caught, then on Nightsky's orders dropped him into a prison bus. "Thanks, I think I owe you one. And I need to have a long chat with you later…" he said. Oops, I thought. I meant to tell him tonight, but… oh, well.
Chaos was brewing, and Mike and I dove onward to Encina.
It's a good thing Mike was wearing the new full-body armor. Because the whole column was ambushed about a thousand feet from the staging area. On both sides. I'm not the only officer with a defensive or offensive Power. While the car was holed through like Swiss cheese, I protected Mike with my shield, and gave as good as I got. One-handed Blue pulses all around, the hail of bullets provided an ample reservoir of KE. Charles, one of the other officers had an amazing ability to fire something like a laser from his eyes. Cyclops had nothing on him! Other officers with such Powers also made their own counters. About 20% of the force can do such things.
A voice crackled over the radio, "Jon! Are you OK?" Brian yelled.
I pushed the talk button, "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!" Why I do these things, I have absolutely NO idea. When I stepped out of the car, unhurt, they concentrated all their fire on me. Dumb idea, at least for them.
I feel no fear when the bullets are flying. Only irritation. God knows why. I also tend to break the seriousness of the situation with humor. "C'mon guys! That tickles!" I made ready to make a throw. Then something funny happened. Instead of the single large Indigo I was intending to release, a bunch of tiny Greens flew off my fingertips, each little flying ball seeked out a gunman, and made him or her rather, um, fried like that raven was. "That's new," Mike said in astonishment.
All I could say was "Yeah," dumbfounded. I heard praises over the radio, "Way to go, Buck!" was the most common comment. There had been few injuries to us in the ambush, most of the cars still ran. "Get on with it, Buck," said Nightsky over the radio. "We need to get moving."
The injured were picked up by ambulances, and the rest of us piled into the remaining cruisers that were heavily armored. My communicator clicked on again, "You wanna tell me some more about this little 'talent' of yours before you do something else, Jon?" his voice was troubled.
"Sorry Brian, I was going to tell you about it tonight anyway. My Power, as I understand it, is like this," then I explained it in as much detail as I could. "…and it seems since my velvet has come off there might be a minor change in it. God knows what."
The radio was silent, Brian seemed to be thinking. The other units had circled around the converging gangs (and, we found out later, hate groups that had popped up over the past month or so. What were those people thinking? Their kids might become something they hate!).
The reinforcements from Oceanside, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos, San Diego, and LA arrived in fast V-22 tilt rotors. Even the military got involved. It was indeed a long night. I barely spoke to Brian any more that night, we were too busy. His eyes turned out to be invaluable, and he ended up having to use his marksman's skills (when he told me that he had them). He saved several lives that night. Mine included.
I'd been taking a momentary breather behind some cover. I thought I was safe, and shut off my shield. It does take a mental effort to maintain it, and it was nearly 3 a.m.. I did not notice the dark shape of a leopard-morph behind me, and he was downwind. I must of been really tired. I normally notice these things way ahead of time. He had a gun.
But before he could use it, he was brought down with a bullet in the leg, then the hand that held the gun. Brian must of been several hundred feet up. I heard the leopard's scream of pain, turned around, and pegged him with an Indigo. He died right in front of me. And not, the coroner would determine, from Brian's bullets. I waved my thanks to Brian, and promptly threw up. The Situation was over, really. We were only mopping up. And this had to happen. I looked up at him, "Now I owe you one." And went back to my retching.
They would award the both of us for our bravery, among others, for what we did that night. That came a few days later, though. It had been a strenuous night, and the doctors wanted to be sure we were O.K, so we were taken to the hospital to be looked over. I was feeling very guilty. The only thing on my mind was if he'd been hurt (which, it turns out, he had not, but I did not know that at the time. I could not bear to look at him, and I was still sick in any case) than I'd never forgive myself. They gave me a shot of some kind and I fell asleep.
Copyright 1997, Jon Sleeper
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