Paradox – Chapter 7

“Who’s the on scene commander?” Scimitar asked as he exited vehicle.

The lights from the surrounded convenience and liquor stores flooded the area in a hazy white light. The light rain coated everything and created bright sparkles and streaks of light as it reflected the red and blue from the many surrounding police cruisers flashing emergency lights. Scimitar glanced at Trauma as she exited the driver’s seat and sighed. They were on their way to dinner together when the JTF ordered them to a hostage situation on the east side.

“About damn time,” said a Metro officer with three stripes on his jacket, a Sergeant, as he walked up to Scimitar. “I don’t know what you guys are busy doing, but when we call for a negotiator, it means we need you here right now!”

Trauma noted the increased levels of muscular tension and adrenaline coursing through the police officer’s body as he continued to berate Scimitar for some perceived inaction. Like a professional, Scimitar remained silent as the officer continued to vent his frustration with the entire emergency response system.

“We had to call three different numbers to even reach your office and you guys finally show up twenty minutes later. And where the hell is your vest?” the officer asked looking at Scimitar, his slick rain jacket covering his Harris Fiber suit. “We already have one victime thanks to these assholes.”

Scimitar punched several keys on his Ecomm virtual keyboard, the soft blue light emitting a faint glow on the officer as he continued to yell.

“What the hell is that?” the officer asked when he noticed Scimitar looking down at the EComm. “Who are you guys? What agency are you with?”

Scimitar’s face never changed as he looked up at the officer. “Start from the beginning, what happened here?”

The officer started to protest when Trauma tapped him on the arm and he immediately relaxed. “We have two gunmen, one armed with a rifle, another with a pistol. One of our nearby Metro units heard gunfire and tried to enter the store but the pair barricaded themselves behind the counter and used the hostages as shields. They started making demands when more units arrived and that’s when we called you guys.”

“Net, have you patch us in yet?” Scimitar asked through his earpiece.

“Yes. You’re connected to the stores DVR” Net replied. “I’ll rewind the video to when the suspects walked in.”

“Show me,” Scimitar ordered as he lifted his arm for Trauma and the Metro officer to see.

The virtual display lit up as a video recording from one of the cameras displayed three men entering the liquor store. After demanding money, the owner pulled out a revolver from behind the counter and fired at the robbers. The room filled with bright flashes of light that appeared to blind the store owner. The gunman with the pistol dove for cover behind a snack stand shooting wildly around the store. The other gunman, wielding an AK style rifle, calmly raised the weapon and fired several bursts at the store owner, his chest exploding from multiple hits. The clerk collapsed immediately and the gunmen approached the register, their weapons waiving between the customer and the store owner’s family still behind the counter.

“And what were planning on doing with their Enhanced buddy that just lit up like a Christmas tree?” Scimitar asked the officer.

“Enhanced?” asked the officer. “God damn those freaks. You guys with the JTF?”

“Yes,” replied Scimitar as he removed his jacket, showing his gold JTF badge against the black Harris armor. “And we’re the God damn freaks that are going to save your asses. Keep your men out of that store until I say so,” said Scimitar with an angry tone as Trauma simply nodded.

The officer did not hesitate and pulled the radio from the belt.

“All units, this is Sergeant Malloy. Do not enter the store. The situation has just bumped to an Echo level. There is an Enhanced in there, repeat, an Enhanced is inside. JTF is here and has command.”

“What are you thinking, Khaleel? Some sort of light elementalist?” Trauma asked as she watched the video again on her EComm. All three suspects were black, the two mundanes with the guns wore black bandanas to hide their identities while the Enhanced, a younger male around seventeen or eighteen, barely moved during the robbery. He was definitely less experienced than his partners.

“Makes sense. Bring a flashbulb to keep your victims from seeing you while you rob him…or shoot him in this case. It’s nothing a street-punk cat one couldn’t do.”

“If you get me close enough, I can take the Enhanced and the mundanes down,” Trauma said as her screen changed to display the building plans. “From the store blueplints, they are most likely near the storeroom. The snipers won’t be able to see them back if they keep their heads down.”

“I’ll get you in there, just try to avoid putting them in cardiac arrest,” Scimitar teased as Trauma flipped him the finger. “Those bullets might not be fatal to us, but they will be to those hostages.”

“And that’s why I keep you around, hun” Trauma said with a wink. “So what’s the plan?”

Scimitar looked around as several police office backed away from the liquor store. When a call goes out that an Enhanced is involved in a crime, only the brave or the stupid mundane tries their luck. Most police departments have policies against mundane officers engaging Enhanced criminals at all; the result is most often dead officers. As the ranking officer from the JTF on scene, Scimitar had command.

“I think that Metro cop had the right idea,” Scimitar said as he looked around. “Those gunmen are expecting hostage negotiators from Metro to arrive so that’s what we’ll give them.”

Trauma nodded in agreement. “It’s better than anything I can think of,” she admitted. “Lead on, oh wise one.”

“Sergeant Malloy,” Scimitar yelled, “why don’t you do something useful and find us some Kevlar vests.”