<--Younger | The first New York Magician | Older-->
The gray man lifted its face slightly and there was a high harsh sound, almost like a shriek. I realized that it sounded an awful lot like a modem signal, which made a twisted sort of sense. I started to slide left along the wall without taking my eyes off it as it launched itself from the elevator door and headed for me.
Almost immediately, it ran into a pair of cops who had been facing it, guns out but not levelled. It didn't bother to stop and ran straight into them before they could react, bowling them over and aside. As it did so, a uniformed officer in the second rank got his gun up and fired four rounds, in two double taps. I was impressed to note that all four appeared to hit the oncoming figure. Although it jerked slightly as they hit, it ignored them otherwise. When it reached him, it grabbed him by the wrist and flung him sideways. I could hear the crack of snapping bone from twenty feet back before he went into the wall with a thump and slid down it. I decided speed was going to be more important, and turned and started to run back towards the door to the interview room. I heard several shots behind me and various voices shouting, but nobody stopped me.
As I reentered the bullpen area, I became aware of shouting to my right, across the building. I glanced over to see five or six cops grappling with another of the gray figures. It was tossing them around handily, but since the melee was taking place inside a cubicle maze it wasn't making a lot of progress. It saw me and emitted its own modem scream and began pushing through its attackers. Since it was coming from the only other exit from the floor, one of them had to go. I stepped towards it, figuring that the ten or fifteen cops in the hallway behind me would probably give me at least a few seconds from that quarter, and slid my left hand under my cardigan where the bandolier lay. As the gray man in front burst from the clutches of the police who were wrestling it, my left forefinger and thumb closed on one of the photo strobe capacitors in the bandolier and my right hand thrust out, fingers in a forward cone.
I slid to a stop, facing it, and as it emerged from behind the last cubicle wall I squeezed hard with my left hand. The familiar snap shook my left hand and wrist, and I felt the power rush through the pocketwatch. I twisted it into what I hoped was radiofrequency static and pushed it out my right hand. There was a sharp CRACK and a slight flash, then the figure stopped, shook slightly, and collapsed. The cops behind it were picking themselves up - well, most of them were - and I shouted "Tasers! Tasers!" at them before turning back and pulling open the door to the interview room.
There was another roar of tortured metal from the direction of the elevator. I didn't look that way but bolted through the door and slammed it behind me. Unfortunately, the lock didn't work from the inside, so I shoved the table in front of it. Patrick was standing against the back wall, looking perturbed but not panicked. "Michel, what the living fuck-"
"Later." I looked around. The only ways out of the room were the door, a grimy exterior window which had metal grilles mounted securely over it, and the obligatory mirror stretching along one wall. I looked around, but NYPD interview rooms for some reason don't have many large, heavy, throwable objects in them. There was a thumping at the door, a fusillade of shots from what sounded like the elevator corridor (although it was hard to hear through the soundproofing) and then I heard a quieter double snick and the thumping stopped, replaced by a sharp crackling noise. Sounded like at least one cop outside the door had heard my shouted advice.
"Patrick," I said, "I need to tell you something, later."
"What, not now?"
"Yeah. All that crap I've been dancing around, the psychic stuff, the magic stuff..."
"You're not going to tell me you're something outta faerie, are you, boy?"
"Not...precisely." I reached up with my right hand. His eyes tracked my hand as it extended out towards the ceiling, almost in a hail, and then I saw them widen as I felt the weight of the Beretta settle into my palm and pulled my hand back down, flicking the safety off with my thumb.
"Where did you..."
"Later. I told you." I turned to the mirror and fired four shots at it in a rough square maybe a meter on a side, hoping against hope the thing wasn't bulletproof, counting on the notorious cheapness of New York's Finest.
It wasn't. There was the sound of glass shattering over the muffled thumps of the suppressed Beretta; four holes the sizes of golf balls had appeared in the mirror with cracks radiating out towards each other. I safed the gun and ran the three steps towards the mirror and jumped, turning sideways to hit it with my left shoulder, the Beretta tucked in along my leg. There was a much louder noise as I plowed through the mirror and hit a whole stack of things which had been resting against it before rolling through them as they fell backwards, rolling to my left across a surface and mostly catching myself as I hit the floor. I stood, shakily. "Patrick, get a move on!"
He was already climbing gingerly over the broken glass. The door had started thumping again, and I could see it flexing at the corners. I had time to wonder why the hell they didn't just turn the handle and shove, but you know, never turn down the gift of a stupid opponent. I grabbed Patrick's arm and moved towards the door out of the observation room, set in the same wall as the one next door. Unsafing the Beretta again, I slid my left hand back into the bandolier, snapped a second capacitor and held the energy in the pocketwatch. I couldn't hold it for more than a few seconds, so before it dissipated, I swung the door open and rotated my body around the jamb, coming to face the door of the room we'd left with the Beretta presented. One of the gray men was just drawing back its arm to punch the door again; it turned its head towards me and tilted its head back slightly.
Before it could scream, I double tapped it, center mass. I stole the energy of the first shot, and as the second fired I dumped that energy and the power from the watch into an electricity cast, pushing a hard core of electrons into the bullet. It struck the gray man in the chest and it staggered back, a hole larger than a normal bullet wound appearing in its midriff as the charge in the bullet disrupted whatever was holding it together. I had time to notice another gray figure on the floor in front of the door, a thin pair of taser wires running back towards the cube maze. Town or three of the cops who had been wrestling with the one I'd stunned were visible crouched there, holding pistols and tasers. They reflexively swung towards me and I lifted my left hand ostentatiously, letting the right one drop towards the floor until I felt the Beretta slip back home, then raised the now-empty right one too. One of them stood and came towards us. "What the fuck is going on?"
"Don't look at me. I just want to get me and my lawyer here the fuck out of here."
"Where's your gun?"
"Don't have one."
"I just saw you shoot that guy, don't fuck with me!" The Glock was aimed at me now. Two of the cops that had been crouched with him took off down the elevator corridor into the wild struggle I could see was still going on. I couldn't see how many of the gray men were involved, but there were a good fifteen cops in there, and although they weren't strong enough to even seriously restrain their attackers, there were enough of them to block the hall with simple presence. The gray men were fighting to push through them.
Patrick moved around from behind me, his arms raised. The cop swung the gun to cover him, reflexively, but Patrick didn't flinch - he paused and spoke as quietly as he could while still being heard over the din, "Listen to me, officer, we're not your problem right now. My client and I just want to get out of this."
The cop reached a decision. "Get in a room and stay there until this is done."
"I can't," I said. He swung his eyes back to me. I counted three more cops in the cube maze watching our little drama.
"That wasn't a request," he snarled, his cool visibly fraying. Well, damn it. We all flinched as there was another flurry of shots from the direction of the elevator.
I gave in. "Okay, okay. Which room?" He pointed at one of the rooms on the other side of the bullpen from the one we'd been in, which was an improvement. I hustled Patrick in that direction. As I opened the door and shoved him in (none too gently) I looked back. One of the three who had been in the maze was looking in my direction, and he nodded at me. I nodded back, and went in and shut the door.
"Michel...who are those people?" Patrick sounded far too calm. I figured it would take about a gallon of whisky to get him properly unstrung later.
"These are, I think, the guys who killed Raymond. They're looking for me."
"How do you know?" He moved over and dropped into one of the battered chairs. I was still near the door, listening.
"Patrick, not there. Get on the floor by the back wall. Lie down."
"Yeah." I moved over and firmly pulled him out of the chair and got him prone under the windows, then tried to tilt the table over in front of him but found it was bolted to the floor. "Stay there. These walls aren't bulletproof." I saw him get it, and he tried to flatten himself harder. "Okay, like I said, don't move." I took off my London Fog and draped it over him. "Don't take this off, either." Although I was more vulnerable without it, the bandolier offered some protection for my body - more than its size would suggest.
"Where the hell are you going, boy?" his voice came up, muffled slightly from his position facedown.
"I'm going to see if I'm right about them being after me. If I am, you'll be safe." Before he could argue, I left the room and shut the door behind me, remembering to lock it from the outside.
When I looked around, I could see a few cops near the entrance to the elevator corridor. They were aiming tasers down the hallway, and firing intermittently. I moved back to the door I'd shot the gray man in front of, and saw a pile of clothing on the floor. Sure enough, there was roughly two people's worth of garments, including a jacket with a regular-sized bullet hole in the back - a jacket I recognized as having been on the gray man I'd shot with the Beretta. But there were no bodies, just clothes. Looking down the hallway, I could see that there was really only one knot of activity, what looked like ten or twelve cops trying to wrestle one gray man to the floor. There were several cops on the ground; I couldn't tell if they were dead or just knocked out. As I watched, a sergeant shouted to the other cops at my end of the hall and they all fired tasers simultaneously into the pile. A few cops jerked aside, falling to the floor, but at least two pairs of darts hit the gray man at the center and it, too, fell flat - continuing to fall apparently straight into the floor, ending up as a a few garments underneath a pile of struggling police.
What the fuck were these things? Who was running them? Damn it, I had no idea.
As I stood up and looked that way, the cops started dispersing, moving around the floor with guns up. I raised my hands and tried to look unthreatening as a few of them moved back into the bullpen area and approached me. I recognized Polvani behind a small but serious looking gun, and carefully placed my hands on the top of my head. She stared at me from behind the sights as one of the other cops approached carefully and searched me on both sides under the loose cardigan. "He's clean, Lisa," he said. I looked back at her and didn't move.
"What the fuck is going on here, Wibert?" She asked. There was a lot of rage in her voice.
"I don't know, Detective," I said.
At that moment, one of the cops shouted "Hey, you, stop right there!" across the bullpen. Polvani didn't move, didn't take her eyes off of me - you don't make Detective in the NYPD without learning to never take your eyes off someone you're holding at gunpoint - so I decided I could risk looking to my left. Two cops had started across the room, threading through overturned furniture; Polvani was still staring at me from three yards away, and the cop who had searched me was watching the other two but standing off to one side to back up Polvani.
There was a person moving along the other wall, a woman. I couldn't see her very well but she was wearing what looked like sensibly fashionable clothing and a pair of sunglasses. She ignored the cops moving towards her, and something in her carriage - the way her head was held straight up without her seeming to even be aware of her surroundings - triggered my recognition.
It was Erika Shearson.
What the hell was she doing here? Why wasn't Mario following her? She was heading for the room I'd left Patrick in, and she was going to get to the door before the cops approaching reached her - and they'd have no reason to stop her going into a dead-end room, since they didn't know Patrick was in there. "Polvani," I said, "That woman-"
"Shut UP, Wibert," she gritted. "Sit down now. Against the wall."
I could hear the cops moving across the room calling to Shearson, but she ignored them. I saw her open the lock on the interview room door, and then I saw her right hand come up. "POLVANI, SHE'S GOT A-"
There was a sudden flurry of shots from across the room, the cops started shouting, and then another series of paired shots. I gritted my teeth and looked left, carefully. I couldn't see Shearson - she must have fallen behind the low cube walls - but the door was open and I could see two of the cops heading inside. As Polvani shouted at me to sit against the wall, one of them came back out, and I could see blood on his hand as he raised it to his mouth. "MEDIC!"
<--Younger | The first New York Magician | Older-->