Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi, mpreg
Though he hoped Zero wouldn’t really ruin things. He didn’t need his first introduction to Society to involve a scandal. Considering he was joining the Duadenora rather than a lesser Family though, there wasn’t much that the Society matrons could do to him.
He watched as Park took Zero’s arm in what was supposed to look like brotherly affection, but that involved whitened knuckles on Zero’s glass and a hidden wince. Park faced Gregor and said, “I’m taking Zero to some privacy and I will be right back. Promise to stay here?”
“Of course,” Gregor said. Where was he going to go? There was Family Security lining the walls in black formal wear that hid their body armor. It wasn’t like he was going to be alone.
“Thank you.” Park gave him a small smile that disappeared when he turned to Zero. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.”
Gregor watched them go, then shook his head. It was better that he not get involved, considering he was at the heart of Zero’s issues. Anything he did would only make things worse.
Time to get back to business. Otherwise he would spend all night greeting guests.
He waved a finger at the Security officers manning the door and they let the next couple inside.
Gregor admired their pretty clothes without much envy. They looked like they belonged in photographs. Their outfits consisted of pastel silk and trailing ribbons of gauze. They sported matching face makeup that gave them diamond-dust sheened cheeks, thick blue mascara, and glossy cobalt lips. They were androgynous and beautiful, but Gregor could tell the one in cherry blossom pink was a man, because he recognized him.
Gregor leapt to his feet and jackrabbited it for the double doors into the ballroom. “S-class criminal!” he shouted.
He could see the expressions changing on the guards’ faces as he raced past them, but he didn’t slow down. Didn’t pause to watch them draw their weapons and return fire. He threw himself through the doors to the sound and feel of shots punching into the wall behind him. His left cheek stung.
There were screams and various Security were gathering up their principles, weapons bristling everywhere. He felt a couple of Duadenora guards at his shoulders, but he bolted ahead of them.
His mind was a focused beam, getting away his only impulse. There was no room for further thoughts.
* * *
Back when Gregor was seventeen, wide-eyed and naive in a way that now made him feel embarrassed, he’d let himself be seduced by a guy that crossed the line from “bad boy” into “serial killer” territory. Not that he’d realized it then. Hanson hadn’t yet been caught for the first time. He hadn’t become completely creepy either.
Gregor had been working as a waiter in a small restaurant. Hanson had been a regular, one with a good job and a lot of money. It had felt like a fairy tale. Gregor had let himself be swept off his feet.
Six months later he was climbing out a bathroom window to escape, and he was starting a new life in a different city. He’d tried to put Hanson behind him and focus on the future, but then he’d looked up one day and Hanson’s face was flashing across the wall Screens as an escaped murderer. It was only the fact that he was at work that had kept Gregor from falling apart. And that fear had never left him as the charges against Virgil Hanson continued to grow. Men and women were dying by Hanson’s hands and his expanded box of toys as he rampaged across the country, gathering followers.
That was the creepiest thing about Hanson: that strange fascination he had, sucking people into himself. He drew in his victims, but he’d also managed to attract a group of fellow murderers that called themselves his Acolytes.
In the last decade Hanson had escaped from prison twice and earned himself an official S-class criminal stamp. There was a kill on sight order on him and the public was kept informed on just how dangerous he was.
And now he was here, obviously accompanied by his crew of whackjobs.
Gregor had noticed a lot of pretty clothes that had been made in a highly theatric style. Flowing silk, pseudo-kimonos and hanbok, most done in pastel hues of pink, yellow, and blue with the occasional dramatic black embroidered with vivid reds and greens. He’d noticed the similar clothes, but he’d thought it was a rich people thing. Turned out it was a Hanson thing as is Acolytes produced weapons that never should have made it through the detectors.
Gregor had managed to duck everyone and he was pretty sure no one could see him. He’d crawled under a table and used the tablecloth as a cover to slip behind a wall hanging. From there he’d worked the cover off the vent and had slid feet first into the wall. He’d pulled the cover back in place and was trying to think what to do.
There was the sounds of gunfire and screams and he thought he could hear the thud of bodies hitting the floor. He was glad of the curtain blocking his view–he didn’t want to watch people die.
The duct was tight around him as he slid himself back away from the vent. If that curtain was pulled he didn’t want his face to be framed in the light. Not until he knew whether Hanson was still nearby.
Gregor lay on his stomach in the vent and rested his cheek against the cool metal. He was still blasting out fear hormones, but he wasn’t going to let himself do anything without thinking first. Hanson had an uncanny ability to spot weakness and take advantage.
Listening, Gregor could tell the firefight was still ongoing. A half-dozen couples were holding their own against hundreds of people.
It made Gregor consider how far he’d have to crawl to get himself away. He wished he had entered head first, but he’d needed to replace the vent. So now he’d have to crawl through the vents backward and hope there weren’t any sudden down-slopes. The last thing he needed was an uncontrollable slide into the basement.
He listened, closing his eyes to build a better mental image of what was happening. Then he heard his voice, Hanson.
“Where is my darling Gregor? I know that I saw him. Fetch him for me, won’t you, dear?”
There had been a part of Gregor that had dared to hope this was all chance, that Hanson was here for some reason that didn’t involve him. Looked like he wasn’t so lucky.