Chapter Seven: Not the End
"Greg!" Constable Ed Lane threw himself forward, racing flat out for his unconscious boss and nephew. Word was right on his heels, but… "Word, Sam, get up top and secure Collins!" the team leader roared. "He doesn't get to walk away from this!"
"Copy!" both men acknowledged, breaking off to sprint for the hallways leading to the catwalk.
"Spike, check the kid! Lou! Monitor room! Make sure Pownell knows to keep his mouth shut!"
Lewis sprinted after his other two teammates, Spike detouring to Lance's side; Ed only had eyes for his boss. He skidded, letting himself fall forward onto his knees as he reached the still form. "Don't be dead, don't be dead," he begged under his breath. "Come on, Greg, don't be dead."
Alanna half-sobbed as she sat next to the unconscious man on top of the platform. Two bows rested in her lap, one wooden, the other synthetic. Her hands touched the black one and she silently mourned for the man who'd held it – a man who'd never existed in the first place. She'd felt it, the surge of power that pulled all the magic the Shades had gleaned away from them, sending it…somewhere…
He'd met her eyes, calm in the face of his end. "Here, take it," he'd said, holding his bow out. "It's yours anyway."
The teenager could still feel the last traces of the Halloween spell in the bow, all but obliterated by that sacrifice of life and power. In a day, even the traces would be gone; the costumes would be just that again. It felt unjust, unfair, and plain wrong – they had done something important, she could sense it. Why should they pay for that with their lives? But what sort of life was it to be a Shade? To be little more than a costume?
She gasped, turning and gazing upwards. "Here, Uncle Wordy."
Uncle Sam slithered down the ladder first. "How the heck did you get here?"
"I bet their magic warned 'em about Sarge again," Uncle Wordy opined, landing next to the unconscious man. "Sarge can scold you two all he wants later, but nice timing."
Alanna nodded, hugging the bows to her chest. "Yeah, we saw," she whispered. "He was…he was going to let that man kill him."
Both of her pseudo uncles looked away at the anguish in her eyes. Then Uncle Sam huffed a sigh as he crouched next to the unconscious man. "Wasn't expecting this," he admitted, gazing up at the ladder. "How do we get him back up?"
"I could levitate him," Alanna offered, pushing herself up carefully. Once back on her feet, the redhead hooked her bow to its quiver and glanced uncertainly down at the black bow still in her arms.
"I'll take that," Uncle Wordy decided, tugging the black bow away. "Sam, get up that ladder and guide him through the hole."
"Copy," Uncle Sam agreed, heading for the ladder. "You and 'Lanna will be right behind me?"
"Yep. We get him up, then I pass you the bow. Then we'll come up." Uncle Wordy's gaze switched to Alanna. "You first, missy."
"Yes, Uncle Wordy."
Greg's pulse throbbed under his fingers, a slow, skipping beat that left Ed worrying his lower lip. But he was breathing. He was alive. The alien savagery had left his face and the gryphon fangs were nowhere in sight. His hands were still wrapped around the gun the ghost had slid to him – to the gryphon. A trap of some kind for the gryphon, Ed could see that now. No wonder the demon had shown up, trying to stop the ghost.
The team leader frowned, gently tugging the weapon away from his boss. Whatever it had done was finished. Then he paused, examining the sidearm more closely. What the…? "Greg, is this your gun?"
No answer, not that he'd expected one.
But it was Greg's gun. One thumb rubbed at the soot-stained serial number, a number he knew by heart – after McKean, Ed had made sure to memorize all the serial numbers, in case there was ever another gun swap. This…this was the gun Greg had lost in the latest Halloween mess. The Narrows and the poison gas and the demolished monorail they'd somehow avoided getting blamed for. The Glock was lighter than it should have been; Ed ejected the magazine, not all that surprised to find it empty. The gun itself was coated in debris from the fire, unreliable at best and non-operable at worst. To return it to service would require multiple cleanings and possibly a gunsmith.
Ed shifted back, letting out a huff as he glanced between the Glock and his boss. The gun tingled in his grasp, as if a trace of magic still lingered in the polymer. "What happened to you, Greg?" he wondered aloud. "What were they trying to pull?"
Parker's silent, still form did not answer.
Spike reached Lance as the young man groaned and stirred. Sapphire blinked open and the teenager sat up carefully, catching the Skeets model as it tumbled off his chest. "Uncle Greg?"
"Ed's checking him now, kiddo," Spike reassured Lance, swiftly checking the teen for any bumps and bruises. "And what have we told you two about sneaking into the middle of hot calls?"
"Not to," Lance mumbled, eyes finding the floor. Then indignation brought his head back up. "But he was gonna kill him, Uncle Spike!" Sapphire pleaded for understanding, for agreement that his decision had been the only way.
Spike refused to yield. "And what about the gryphon, Lance? What was the gryphon gonna do?"
The young man shivered. "It…it thought all of us belonged to it," he managed. "I was trying to make it submit again and it just laughed at me."
The bomb tech felt a similar shudder up his own spine. For a few seconds there, he'd felt like he belonged to the gryphon – and not in a good way. Dark eyes fell to the Skeets model. "Any idea how those guys showed up?"
The brunet head shook. "I think it was Skeets who knocked me out," he admitted, running one finger over the silent metal. "They…they must've been able to get magic from us each Halloween. Enough to manifest on their own."
"And do what?"
Sapphire met his dark orbs. "Heck if I know, Uncle Spike."
"Lou, call the Healers," Ed ordered. "I don't want to move Greg until they get here."
"How's Pownell doing?"
"He was already planning on spreading the security footage all over the Internet," Lou replied coldly. "Threatened to Obliviate him myself; I'm already collecting all the footage from today."
"Good, we can seal everything under this call," Ed agreed. Lou's actual threat might've been a bluff, but the team leader had little doubt that Giles would've obliged without batting an eyelash if it had been necessary.
"What about Collins?"
Lane shook his head. "Sam and Wordy reported in; he's out cold and 'Lanna says Blue Beetle did it. Once he wakes up, we'll have a little chat."
"That was freaky, man."
"Tell me about it," Ed breathed. "I don't think we even know the half of it yet, Lou." What did they do to you, Greg? "Once you call the Healers and get the footage, get Pownell out of here – if you even get a whiff that he might break the Statute…"
"Copy that, Ed."
Grim, the team leader's attention returned to his boss. "Stay with us, Greg," he ordered quietly. "You do not have permission to die." Not now. Maybe not ever.
Greg Parker shivered as he stood on thin air in complete blackness. He was clothed; he could feel fabric under his fingers; but beyond that…he felt stripped bare. Nothing to protect him from scrutiny. Nothing to hide his faults and flaws. No masks, no bluffing, no acting to hide his own uncertainty. To hide his fear.
Alone. In the cold. In the dark.
Where am I? And how do I get home?
His magic was silent. His 'team sense' was gone.
Please…I just want to go home…
~ Ad Alia
Author note: To Be Continued... *cue closing Flashpoint music*
Yep, I'm whumping Greg big time. Poor guy...how evil we authors can be to our favorite characters - over two stories, no less! Maybe a few more than two (like half my series...) Anyway. I hope everyone's enjoying so far and, as always, I adore reviews and I so appreciate all of you who are willing to spend a few minutes to leave me a review. Our next story, "Soul of a Gryphon", will take us off to the Flashpoint/Chronicles of Narnia crossover archive and it starts this Friday, May 1st 2020.
On a RL note, prayer is very much appreciated. I essentially worked from the time I got up to the time I was finally allowed to go to bed yesterday and today's not looking any better so far. I prayed so hard for this project and so far, it's been a job, but it's been the job that consumes my life and won't even leave me alone long enough to go grocery shopping on Saturday!
See You on the Battlefield!