Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
Content Warning: hostage situation
When Park appeared, Gregor wasn't sure what he was seeing at first. It was all just so FAST.
He knew that the katas could be used for self-defense and for aggressive attacking, though Gregor had only bothered to study a few of the easiest katas. He'd learned the Morning Prayer, of course, but it didn't even seem like martial arts to him. It was just a series of slow stretches and some punches and kicks to clear the mind of negative energy. It was something everyone did, and somehow he had allowed himself to forget what all that training could be used for.
He'd heard of the Gun Katas that the Magisters and Judges used, but they were strictly regulated and could not be recorded without a special permit. To watch vids of the Katas without proper clearance was an automatic sentence to Hard Labor. It was one of those things he'd never worried about.
In his fight to stay off the radar and live the quiet life of a Two, he'd gone out of his way to stay clear of Law breakers and to avoid anything like trouble. Extra katas meant extra certification and the interest of the State; it had been a no brainer to stay away from the whole deal.
What Park did… It was the reason why Gun Katas were strictly regulated.
It was like dancing and flying and Gregor was mesmerized by the odd beauty even as bodies began to fall. A fist fracturing bone, a foot snapping a neck, a twist, a bend, a careless throw flinging a human body across the room as easy as breathing, and throughout it all there was the rhythmic sound of the needler firing, ZING ZING.
Blood splashed wildly and the Horde members started falling before they even knew what was happening. A few tried shooting back, and a hostage cried out as he was gutshot, but it did no good. Park was amongst them and he was graceful, merciless death.
If they had only wanted to ransom the hostages, the Halcyon Horde members would have been allowed to live. They could have gotten their money and fled the scene with only some Primes to worry about. It would have been dangerous and Gregor couldn't imagine the risk was worth it, but maybe a few would have gotten away clean.
Instead they were facing a Magister and there was no chance of escape. Not when one of the living embodiments of the Law had declared their lives forfeit.
It was the most horrible, beautiful thing Gregor had ever seen. Park's face was an expressionless mask of concentration as in the space of a few heartbeats he killed over twenty people. The sounds of his first shots were still ringing when the last body tumbled to the floor, limp and broken.
"Wow," Gregor whispered.
Park wasn't even breathing hard. Gregor was too far away to see his face clearly, but he could tell the guy wasn't winded. He could have just completed practice for all the concern he showed.
"Check the bodies," he ordered. "Make sure they're really down."
Down, not dead, as though anyone was going to get up after what he'd done to them.
There was some hysterical babbling, but a handful of the once-hostages moved to obey. The Firsts checked for pulses as though it were something they'd always done, a genetic memory of the Zombie Wars when people only cared for their families, and then only until they became a liability. The Twos had a more human response as they carefully nudged the sprawled bodies before fumbling and cringing as they felt at necks and checked for breathing.
A Third would have punched an extra hole in each body just to make sure. A nice clean headshot, or "Third Eye" as it had teasingly been called.
Park was prowling around like a lion, making sure there were no hidden enemies. If Gregor could hide, what stopped a Horde member from playing the same trick? It was why Gregor hadn't already left his hidey hole. Not until he got the all clear.
He waited and watched instead. Which is how he saw one of the "dead" bodies roll away from the Two checking it and wrap arms around a fragile old lady bowed down under the weight of jewelry and a rich black stole that could have been real animal fur.
The Horde member had probably smelled weakness on the woman, using age as a judge, but Gregor could have told him it was a mistake. One look at the woman's face when she was jerked around in the man's arms, and it was obvious she was a battle hardened First that had more than earned her retirement in spilled blood.
Her movements were jerky, lacking the smoothness young muscle could have given her, but it made no difference as her hand drifted down to the arm holding her and *wrenched* with misleading strength.
The crack of bone breaking was loud. She pivoted and drove her foot into tender flesh, then her hand rose–dreamlike–and gripped the sides of the masked head and *twisted*.
The body fell to the floor and the woman turned to the Two that had been checking for survivors. "Always make sure your kill is a clean one before relaxing, honey. Sometimes they'll surprise you by pretending, then you end up being the killed instead."
"Yes, ma'am," the Two said humbly. He seemed ashamed of his failure.
"And someone plug the hole in that man," the woman continued. "It's like none of you kids ever had basic Aid courses."
Someone hurriedly pinched a nerve in the man's neck and he went quiet, the pain of his gunshot wound a distant memory. Someone else began checking his wound and packing it to keep him from bleeding out before Medical arrived. His partner fluttered around looking useless, all wringing hands and tragic eyes until he was firmly nudged out of the way.
Gregor watched as all of the Horde bodies were carefully checked for signs of life. One still breathed, but someone used a Foot Break to snap her neck. It was always better to make sure.