We filed out and in to the police van while the lead hostage negotiator patched in to 911 and got the brief from them. The guy looked like he could handle pretty much anything, lean like a greyhound but with remote grey eyes that told me his slight body was just to lull people in to a false sense of security. There was steel underneath all that, and he gave me the impression that he was a fantastic mimic, able to put on an air of sympathy as easily as he could play the hardass. That made me feel a little better. They put him through to the suspect. I could hear the suspect screaming even in the back of the van.
I put the Benelli M4 shotgun across my lap and collapsed the butt stock. I doubted I’d have enough room to use the weapon’s full length. The frangible rounds would get me through whatever shitty look they had on the back door, once I was sure I wasn’t going to set off any explosives by using it. Any nervousness I’d felt before fell away like a crumpled piece of paper thrown in to a trash bin, leaving a fresh, blank sheet behind.
We parked the van just behind and to the side of all the black and white police cruisers, parked sideways to form a barricade. The hostage negotiator got out, still talking in to the phone in a tone so hushed I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Even though this was my first live situation with S.W.A.T. I knew what to do; I got out and waited for the others to take their positions, then followed and darted around to the back of the house.
No one. I drew my magical shields close against my body, imagining a beige veil with no distinguishing marks. If anyone scanned the area for those with awakened auras, they’d miss me. For all the average seer knew, I didn’t exist. This was also why I didn’t need a bomb suit or a riot shield for this type of work. If I could keep the magical protection powered up, the average projectile would burn up before it hit me. I still wore a spine protector panel sewn in to my vest, and every piece of equipment that came in contact with my body was made of ballistic integrity approved materials, but the fact remained that I could go in quieter and lighter than the average mortal.
I could smell the stench from out here, that distinctive mix of garbage, piss, and despair. The clapboard was rotting too, eating away at the floors so that the house sat at an obvious angle. Magic coiled beneath my feet, telling me that underneath it all the earth still breathed, that one day nature would reclaim this place.
I put my back against the wall and slid around to the backyard, a sad little postage stamp filled with sere grass. A kid’s bike lay tipped over in the overgrowth, glinting purple and teal. I grounded, reaching in to the black soil somewhere beneath the stones. Those steely wires bit in to me again, my magic, my will. They lit up with power, needles piercing my heart, my lungs, filling me with liquid potential. I could shape whatever I believed in enough from this source, all of it waiting under my bland covering. I was a star in Nuit’s firmament in my own right, a solar system unto my own in Lucifer’s endless night, and I burned like one.