10.2 Aftermath

by Matt P.

Walter lost track of how many different fights he had been in. It was possible that he had never been in so many different fights in one day, let alone in a few hours, at any point in his life. 32nd and Main had turned in to the West District Police building, which had turned in to Border Power and Electric, which had turned in to an alley outside of the hat store. He was exhausted, and he had run out of ammunition for his rifle, and he was down to a single full magazine for his pistol as he walked out of the alley and looked to Morgan. “Where next?”

Even Morgan was starting to look exhausted. She had explained that showing up with the force that they were was far more draining than just showing up, and that the amount of interfering metals he was carrying added to it, as did the fact that she was giving him some of her energy during the process to keep him going. “I’ve got juice for one more, and we’ve got two left. Far west side of town or far east. There’s no radio report, I just know where there’s fighting—but not much more. Your call,” she breathed slightly.

Walter winced a little bit. “Absolutely no intel on either?” He asked, drawing a shake of her head in response. He nodded, acknowledging the limitation and not blaming her. He sighed, and pulled a coin out of his pocket. “Heads west, tails east.” He flipped the coin—a nickel—and watched as it spun through the air. He was tired enough to not even bother with catching it, just following its path as it flopped to the ground with the visage of Thomas Jefferson staring up at the sky. “West it is,” he offered, rolling his shoulder.

Morgan looked around for a moment, and spotted an honest-to-goodness old fashioned phone booth—albeit one covered in graffiti and with the phone long since gone. “How quaint,” Morgan breathed appreciatively as the two of them slogged toward it. Walter pulled out his radio and toggled it.

“Badge 928 to all units, two ongoing firefights remaining in city. Badge 928 going to reinforce units on the west end of town, find and reinforce units on east end. 928 out,” Walter spoke in to the radio before he put it back on to his belt. “Best we can do if we don’t have the time or juice to hit both. Ready for sufficiently advanced technology?”

The power with which Morgan rolled her eyes could have probably juiced a helicopter to get them where they were going. “Get in the goddamn phone booth, Superman,” she commanded, and Walter obeyed.

**** ****

What seemed like four hours later but was probably no more than about forty minutes, Walter walked exhaustedly in to the Border PD main building to weary but excited applause. Almost the whole department had been called in during the evening, and as the fighting had died down they had made their way back to the main office for debriefing and treatment of minor wounds. Walter saw far too many wounded, and far too many not there—either at the hospital for more serious injuries or dead—for his liking.

Andre Alexander came up with a stack of documents in his hands as the applause was dying down. “Walt, that was a hell of a thing you did. There’s a lot of people here who would have been a lot worse off if you hadn’t run yourself through the ringer.” He reached out and squeezed Walter’s shoulder as Leah Silverman came up with another pile of documents.

“Initial reports,” she explained, walking with Walter to one of the big conference tables in the main entryway. “We’ve got a lot fewer KIA than we could have, although we’ve got a lot of wounded. And the media is going crazy—we need to say something to them.” She also held something out in her other hand for him to take—a Border PD coffee mug filled with what it was designed for. He took it gratefully and downed a long gulp of it. Andre offered a similar cup to Morgan, who gave him a grateful smile and took it as well.

“God that’s simultaneously the best and worst coffee that I’ve ever had,” Walter offered almost reverentially. “Did everyone get here alright?” He asked a heartbeat later, still holding the coffee like he was trying to absorb it by smell. Leah nodded, and motioned to one of the conference rooms, which Walter began walking toward tiredly.

“Your daughters and their friends are all here, as well as the girl from the hospital and Ryan Aquino are all in there. We’re waiting for some of the final clean reports, we’ve still got units out in the city we don’t have contact from. And some smaller incidents we don’t think are related; people taking advantage of the ‘riots’,” Leah offered with a wrinkle of her nose. They went through the door to the conference room, the same one they had sat with Ashland in not long ago. As soon as he passed through the door he was smothered in hugs from his children.

“Thank God you’re OK!” Antigone breathed as she squeezed him.

“And you were worried about us doing crazy shit?” Siobhan’s comment was playing it more cool but she was hugging him no less tightly. He wrapped his arms around them, squeezing and reassuring himself that they were wholly safe as well. “We’ve been following your reports on the radio.”

“We were going out of our minds!” Antigone agreed, her voice somewhere between an admonishment and a gasp of relief.

Siobhan, as usual, had a slightly different take. “But it was kind of amazing, you were kicking ass all over the city! No wonder they clapped when you came in!” She sounded proud of him, which warmed Walter’s heart a little bit even through the weariness. “BPD should invest in teleportation, looks like it works pretty well.”

Walter snorted and pulled back from their hugs, looking over to the others. Lacey, Monica, Scotty, and the girl from the hospital looked similarly shaken but not particularly worse for wear. He opened his mouth to ask how they were doing, when the radio on the table crackled to life. A panicked voice came through on an all channels broadcast.

“Badge 344 to all units. 10-34 at McPherson Warehouse. Hundred is wounded. I repeat, Hundred is down!” The terrified voice came through. Leah, Andre, and Walter all stiffened, and Andre cursed.

“That’s the Marshal!” Leah gasped, as they all started for the door.