10.1 Semper Gumby

by Matt P.

“Does your mere presence make Vampires flee?” Walter asked as the closet door closed behind them. He knew he would only have a few seconds, so he asked the first question on his mind. “And where are we going?”

Morgan shot him a look and a little bit of a grin. “Of course it does—I’m the Queen of Winter, and they are most definitely not. But mostly the fact that I’m massaging a hole in time and space means anyone vaguely supernatural can feel it coming unless I take effort to hide it.” Her grin turned a little but lupine as she held out her hands to begin doing whatever it was that she did. Blue light began to expand off of her hands, frost licking the walls across from her fingertips. “And if I can’t outright fight for the side I want to, then I can damn well make my allegiances known in other ways. They’ll feel me coming.”

Walter raised an eyebrow, and resisted the urge to comment on her phrasing, when he felt the now familiar feeling of being folded in on himself and the world shuddered. It was cold, whatever flashing space he took between worlds, and the world was a swirl of blue in light and dark shades. It felt both…formless and purposeful at the same time, and it felt like it went on for longer than the few moments that he objectively knew it was. When it was done he was in another closet, this one stocked with office supplies rather than janitorial ones, and he reached for the door.

“Where are we?” He asked curiously, waiting for an answer before he opened the door. “And are these vampires or humans?” He did a quick mental count of how many bullets he had and quickly made sure that he had his other magazines—but even so he wasn’t sure he’d have enough for what he had to do.

“32nd and Main,” Morgan answered immediately. “I heard it as one of the firefights on the police radio that was going the worst. I think Andre and Leah are here. Ready?” Walter nodded, and then they bolted out the door. Which was dramatic, but apparently they were just in the supply closet of what looked to be a small law or accounting firm right off of the street. He started to look over his shoulder at Morgan before he saw through the window that he was overlooking the firefight. “Yes, I can pick a good spot, now go save your friends,” she offered, walking casually to the window to watch. “I believe it is just humans here.”

Walter grinned. “See you on the other side for round two,” he offered, before moving quickly to the door, keeping low to make sure that he wouldn’t be seen. In dark clothing in a dark building at an oblique angle it wasn’t likely—but he didn’t want to make it easier, either.

Outside there were two police cars forming a barricade, behind which officers were clustered with service pistols and a few rifles, with most wearing bullet proof helmets and jackts. On the other side there were a matching pair of carefully parked SUVs behind which hid a much greater number of people wearing armor and helmets and almost universally holding automatic weapons of some kind. He winced, because that was a serious imbalance of firepower, but there wasn’t a lot he could do. He pulled out his radio, and switched it to the police frequency but kept the volume just barely on. There was every possibility they would be monitoring police frequencies, so he had to come up with something that would let Andre and Leah know that something was going to be happening without tipping off what it was. He only thought for a second.

“Badge 336,” he murmured in to the radio, using Andre’s badge number. “Semper Gumby.” He watched one of the police officers behind the car, otherwise unidentifiable, take a quick look around before he returned his eyes to the fight. There’s Andre, and he now knows what’s coming, Walter thought. The enemy closest to Walter perked his head up at this new intrusion to the chatter he was clearly monitoring, although it was clear he didn’t know what it meant, and he looked curiously around…in the wrong direction.

There, Walter thought as he opened up the door cautiously. The Rangers Rules, both in ancient form and modern, tell an Army Ranger to wait in ambush until their fire is doubly frightening and that after firing an enemy could be rushed with hatchets. Walter wished he had his hatchet with him, but he figured an orichalcum knife would due. He pushed the door open and, just as the man at the end of the line was starting to look back, threw himself out in to the street at a full run. He braced the hand that held the gun against the hand that held the knife, holding it like he would a flashlight in a standard shooting stance.

He was firing before his other foot hit the ground on the first step of the run. Each of the enemy soldiers was wearing body armor and a helmet, so his shots had to count—and he made sure they did. The first one took the soldier listening to police radio chatter in the side of the head just below the helmet, dropping him instantly. The next shot had been intended to do the same to the following man, but he turned at the sound of Walter exiting the office building so the bullet took him directly on the chin. The third soldier in the row figured out what was happening more quickly, but by then Walter was to the rear of the SUV that acted as half of their barricade, crouching down low. Since they had been parked hood to hood this gave him his own little bit of cover, although he was only too aware of how little cover it was.

But that was alright, he knew, because his job now wasn’t really to take down more of them—but to distract them so they would keep making mistakes. He leaned around the rear of the car and fired two rounds quickly at the next two men in line, purposefully aiming low. One hit the target in the calf and the other forced the fourth man in line to dance back. Walter finished off the man he had shot in the calf with a double tap before he crouched back around to cover because he was out of ammo. The fourth man who had jumped back realized a second too late that doing so left him exposed to the other police officers, who obligingly dropped him with a shot to the upper neck.

Walter ejected the magazine from his pistol and was just slamming the other one in place when one of the men burst around the end of the cover to try to take him out. Walter saw the barrel of the rifle sweeping toward him and desperately threw up hid left arm to block its descent. The man fired and Walter cursed at the spray of gas—and the volume of the gunshot so close to his face—but the bullet flew wide and embedded itself in the asphalt. In return Walter brought his own pistol and jammed it up toward the man’s chin to try for a killing shot; but the other man was too good for that and blocked it as well. That left them each out of position and each blocking the other man’s gun, with the first man to break the stalemate likely winning.

Walter dropped his block of the man’s rifle but stood up quickly, slamming the crown of his head in to the man’s chin. It dazed Walter slightly but did worse to the soldier, sending him stumbling back a bit. That was all Walter needed to take the orichalcum dagger he held reverse gripped in his left hand and bury it in the man’s throat. He dropped to the ground as Walter turned desperately back to the other soldiers…

To find them fleeing as the Border PD advanced toward them, the fight having turned against them because of the flanking maneuver. Walter breathed out, panting slightly as Andre and Leah ran up to him in full tactical gear. “Holy shit, Walter, that was incredible,” Leah breathed.

“Incredibly stupid, you could have been killed…but thanks for the help,” Andre offered with a shake of his head. “Semper Gumby, huh?” He asked. Walter smirked as he leaned down to pick up one of the discarded automatic rifles. It was an M4A1, and Walter checked the magazine before grabbing another one from someone who was no longer using it.

“Always Gumby?” Leah asked, parsing the Latin and looking at Walter curiously.

“Marine lingo,” Walter answered. “Always flexible. I can’t stay, I’m playing pinch hitter for the whole department thanks to some sufficiently advanced technology.”

“Magic,” Leah corrected helpfully.

“Never,” Walter responded immediately. “You guys alright here while I go help elsewhere?” When they nodded he returned it, jogging back toward the office where Morgan waited to go to their next site.