Paradigm Shift 17

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

He didn't hesitate a moment to slide into Park's abandoned spot and peer out through the observation hole. He had to kind of mash his face close to see, but he didn't care.

Their balcony overlooked the whole theater. People were huddled in groups around the seats, their finery in disarray and their expressions terrified. The Players had been hustled off the stage and shoved in amongst the Patrons, their brightly colored costumes contrasting sharply.

There had to be over a dozen members of the Halcyon Horde standing by with weapons slung. They wore black and blue camo pants, black boots, and heavy flak vests. Each of their faces was covered with the flat black mask of the Horde, the only color the gold outlining the eye holes.

Gregor winced when the leader of the Horde cell opened fire on a woman in a red dress. A man had been holding her in his arms, and when the multicolored blast hit her directly in the chest, the man too went down with a choked cry, his limbs flailing before going still. The woman died without a sound.

"Now you see that we are serious," the leader's voice was strange and mechanical. He had a voice distorter built into his mask. "Would you like to live?"

No one said anything, too terrified of giving a wrong answer.

"I said, would you like to live?" the leader asked. "Answer me!"

"Yes! Yes we want to live!" "Please don't kill us!" Hundreds of voices shouted out, pleading for their lives.

The leader laughed and turned to one of his own men. "You see how easy it is? You threaten the safety of the herd, and the individuals fall over themselves to spare their own lives. Pathetic."

He turned and shot a young man; the guy was just a kid really, probably still a teenager. An older man shouted something — a name — and made to go to his son, but his wife held him back. She was crying, but resolute. Her husband stopped resisting.

Gregor had seen violence before, but it had always been through the safe medium of a view Screen. This… this was real and horrible and he hated his sense of helplessness, but there was nothing he could do to help. He had no training and no real weapons.

But Park does, an insidious voice whispered in his mind.

Park had weapons and training and he was out there, planning something to save the hostages. Something dangerous enough that he hadn't been sure he would survive it, which is why he had told Gregor to stay hidden.

The leader of the Horde was still talking, rambling on about human weakness and animal herds and blah, blah, totally crazy, blah. Gregor had spotted Zero surrounded by the circle of his Family bodyguards. He was sitting quietly, not making a fuss, not drawing any attention to himself.

Gregor couldn't help admitting that Zero had impressed him a bit. The guy had seemed like a complete airhead when Gregor first met him, the kind of useless, ornamental rich guy that wasted all of his opportunities by not even realizing what he had going for him. But Zero really knew how to be a good hostage. He didn't even look afraid.

Gregor had been staring at Zero, so he was just as surprised as everyone else when the leader of the Horde developed a hole where his right eye used to be. The shot punched through the lens of his mask and continued on into his brain.

His legs folded up and he dropped to the floor. Dead.

There were screams from the hostages and the Halcyon Horde members started waving their guns around wildly, trying to triangulate where the shot had come from. There was no sign of Park.

When a female Horde member tried to scoop up the dropped Tumbler, her hand was barely an inch away before she was struck between the shoulder blades and was sent flopping forward, her spine severed. She aspirated a bit of blood across the polished floor and her limbs twitched minutely, then she died.

Gregor covered his mouth with his hand. His breathing was loud and wheezy to his own ears. His paranoia insisted they would be able to hear him.

He needed to be completely hidden until Park killed the Halcyon Horde cell, then he could fall apart and scream and cry or whatever. Until then, Gregor would let the Magister handle the Executions.

Because that was what it was. Not a rescue, though that was one of the results. Park was proving the power of the Law and the State over its citizens by stamping out insurrection with brutal efficiency,
executing the offenders.

It was terrifying to watch. Bodies falling as bolts from the needler tore through what should have been protective body armor and into fragile human flesh.

Gregor thought of that excited gleam in Park's eyes and wondered if the guy was getting off on the violence. Then he had to shift uncomfortably as a surge of arousal went through him.

He had it bad.

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