Paradigm Shift 16

Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
Content Warning: hostage situation

It felt like they were hidden for hours, days even, but that was just his sense of time getting away from him. He'd sweated through his shirt, but he was scared to take off his tuxedo jacket because waves of cold would suddenly hit him with no warning, causing him to shiver uncontrollably and he clenched his teeth to still their chattering. It was completely miserable.

At least Park had stopped asking him how he was doing, seeming to sense that the answer was about to be something unpleasant. Gregor felt like he was going to go off the rails at any moment.

When Park nudged his hand with a cloth he recognized as a handkerchief square, Gregor grunted his thanks and used it to mop the sweat off his face. He felt uncomfortably moist, every bit of him pouring out sweat and discomfort.

Bad enough hiding from gunmen, but of course his stupid biology would have to make things even worse for him.

There was the muffled bzzz-CRACK! of a weapon discharging and terrified screams. Gregor didn't have a lot of familiarity with weapons, but television had taught him the almost vibrating-metal sound of a needler, and whatever had just gone off was nothing he'd heard before. It was a more frightening sound.


"Sh," Park hissed. "That was a Tumbler. They're highly illegal. Even the backwash can cause irreversible nerve damage." There was a hint of fear in Park's voice, proof that even the most fearless of men had some fears they wouldn't want to face. "They are under a Class Four Sanction."

A Sanction like that meant anyone caught in possession of the weapon would earn themselves a public Execution in the Main Square. Everyone coming for the Morning Prayer would be able to view the body on display until the Writ of Removal was approved.

It was odd to think that Park, as a Magister of the Law, could be the one to fulfill the Writ of Execution. He wasn't one of the frightening, faceless drones anymore to Gregor, so to imagine him coldly and methodically bringing death to someone…

Gregor shivered.

He had a feeling that things were going to get bad.

He was proven right when less than two minutes after the first discharge, the Tumbler was fired again. And again. And again. The sound ran so close together that it was just this continuous buzzing in his ears accompanied by the screams of the hostages as they watched their fellows gunned down.

The Halcyon Horde wasn't going to ransom the hostages. They were going to kill everyone.

"I can't allow this to continue." Park brushed against Gregor in the dark, then there was the scrape of the partition being drawn back. Gregor flinched back from the bright light, his eyes having adjusted to the dark. "Stay here. Don't come out until I come for you or other Law Officers declare it all over."

Gregor wanted to object, but he knew he would just get in the way. "Be careful."

Park's grin was fierce and unfamiliar. "I always am."

The partition slid back shut and Gregor was left alone in the darkness.


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