By N.D. Roberts and Michael Anderle
QBBS Meredith Reynolds, Medical Level, General Lobby
Guardian Commander Peter Silvers crossed the lobby on his way to check on Craig. The hush of the night shift reminded him a little of being in church when he was young.
Same peace, or something.
He nodded at Madeline as he passed her at the reception desk. The administrator smiled and wiggled her fingers at him before returning to work.
Peter took out his tablet while he waited for the elevator to arrive and replayed the captured footage the guys at the APA had sent him of Craig’s latest failure to think before acting.
It wasn’t that the newly-booted Guardian didn’t have brains—he was damn smart for a wall of muscle—but Craig’s failure to apply that intelligence in the heat of the moment was going to get someone killed. Probably himself.
It was time for him to grow up.
Peter left the elevator and made his way to the ward to which Craig had been taken for observation. He checked the room number, put his tablet away, and knocked softly before entering.
Craig looked up as Peter came in. “Sir?”
Peter picked up Craig’s chart and sat in the chair by his bed. “We need to have a talk.”
Craig’s head dropped. “About me losing to the Chinese team?”
“No. About you assuming you’d win because you’re a Wechselbalg. And about you being foolish enough to give away your advantage for the sake of bragging rights.”
Craig was confused. “I don’t get it, sir.”
Peter held the chart up. “That’s because you took eighteen—no, make that nineteen, they found another when they got you in here—tranq darts. That’s thirteen more than they would have shot you with if you hadn’t had such a big mouth. I’m surprised you’re even awake.”
Craig sat up and put a hand to his head. “Yeah, well, I learned my lesson.”
Peter put the chart back at the end of the bed. “I’d love to believe that, but unfortunately, I know you.” He sighed. “Look…you have the potential to be one of the best, but it’s not gonna happen if you keep doing stupid shit. I’m putting you on probation.”
Peter shook his head. “No buts. You need to shape up, and until you do you’re off active duty.” He held up a hand to stay Craig’s protest. “You’ll be assigned to me until you don’t need a babysitter anymore. Seriously, if you would just take the time to think before–”
Meredith pinged Peter, saving Craig from his lecture–for now. “I have to take this,” he told Craig. “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early. You got enough sleep today, right?”
He left Craig’s room, speaking to Meredith as he made his way back to the elevator. What’s up?
There is a situation in the psychiatric wing. I thought you should know.
You thought? Peter asked, heading for the psych wing.
You know very well what I meant, she chided. It was appropriate to inform you, and I attempted to do so in a more human fashion to put you at ease. If it is a problem, I shall refrain from doing so in the future.
I’m just riding you. Practice away. Peter chuckled, getting his tablet out again as he stepped aboard the elevator. Show me what’s happening.
The screen lit up to show a room Peter didn’t recognize and a man wearing a hospital gown fighting valiantly against six orderlies. Where is this?
Meredith brought up a map of the level.He’s currently on Ward G.
Well,he’s not going to be there for long if he takes all the orderlies out. Dude’s got moves, that’s for sure. Put the live feed back; let me see if they’ve managed to contain him.
Meredith switched back to the ward’s cameras. Peter sucked a breath in when he saw that the man had incapacitated all the orderlies. Are they okay?
Yes, Meredith replied.They are unconscious but alive.
The man’s head swung to the left and right, his hyper-aware gaze alighting on the open door. The next moment a wolf stood in the man’s place, sandy-furred and broad across the shoulders.
The wolf broke for the door.
We’re there now, the EI cut in as the elevator doors opened on the lobby. I have requested that additional orderlies be dispatched, and they are on their way.
Peter strode out of the elevator on full alert. The lobby was still and silent now. Even Madeline had packed up and left for the night.
Where is our wolf?
Approaching from the west corridor, she told him. The orderlies I requested are in pursuit.
Before Peter had a chance to reply a sandy blur shot out of the corridor leading to the psych wing, closely followed by a bunch of orderlies with tranquilizer guns drawn.
Peter chuckled. I guess this guy won’t be walkingback to his ward,he quipped when he spotted another two orderlies coming up the corridor pushing a gurney.
Is that really a laughing matter? Meredith asked.How will I ever get the hang of humor if the boundaries keep shifting?
The lead orderly was relieved when she saw Peter. She gestured for him to cover the exits while her team fanned out to prevent the Were from escaping farther into the medical level.
Peter swerved to intercept the Were, vaulting over the benches toward the revolving doors as the armed orderlies skidded to a halt and unloaded their tranquilizer darts into the rear end of the panicked wolf.
The darts didn’t slow the Were down. If anything, he was spurred on by the pain. He yelped when they hit his hindquarters and hurtled even faster toward the exit, unheeding of Peter standing between him and his freedom.
Peter hesitated for a split second. He didn’t want to hurt the Were; he wasn’t an enemy, just a sick man.
“Don’t let him get out,” one of the orderlies called.
I’ve locked the main doors, Meredith told him. You just need to make sure he doesn’t leave by the access ramp.
Peter altered his course again, placing himself between the open ramp and the wolf. Thanks, Meredith.
Don’t thank me yet. I calculate it’ll be another two minutes before the tranquilizers take effect. You may have to restrain him.
Peter agreed. The drugs were beginning to take effect, but not fast enough. He held his position as the Were almost lost his footing, his claws skittering on the smooth stone. Then he gained purchase and pelted toward the exit with the hospital gown flapping around him. He finally saw Peter blocking his way and leaptto the side to evade capture.
Gott Verdammt, he’s not going to give me a choice!
He winced at the chokingcough the Were made when he slammed throat-first into Peter’s outstretched armand dropped.
Peter prepared himself to take a rough dive as the Were hauled himself to shaky paws and shook his head sluggishly. He thought the wolf was about to bolt again, but the hospital gown he was somehow still wearing finally slipped all the way down and tangled in his front legs, tripping him. Peter grimaced as the half-conscious wolf lost his equilibrium altogether and crashed face-first into the bench.