Venkman covered Baptiste as the younger man approached the loading area of the warehouse, shotgun ready. No movement, either from the street or the yawning opening of the loading bay.
Something electronic was arcing under the downed sign, creating flickering, intermittent light. Shadows danced despite the optics of his helmet, giving new life to the dead and distracting Venkman as he searched for threats. Forcing his gaze from the illusion of movement, Venkman focused on the areas his partner could not see in his approach.
Baptiste smoothly advanced about five more steps and knelt in the cover of the metal upright of the large roll-up door. Venkman saw his point of aim scanning across his front.
Clear! Baptiste signaled after a moment.
Before moving, Venkman gave a moment’s attention to his helmet systems as they updated. The perimeter was almost complete, with just the southern approaches uncovered.
Venkman advanced as quietly as his kit would allow. Four bodies lay on the road surface, none breathing. Lots of thick head-blood.
“Perimeter is almost set,” he murmured, drawing abreast of Baptiste.
Venkman pressed on, rounding the corner and entering the building at a fast, even clip.
The loading bay was darker than the street. Venkman’s helmet optics quickly adapted, supplying him with crisp images.
Two more dead men lay on either side of the opening, about a large vehicle’s width apart, their heads popped open by small arms fire. A third body lay a little beyond the first on the right.
No one standing or armed.
Venkman continued his circuit, hearing Baptiste adjust position to cover the inside of the building from the door. The move left Baptiste unable to observe what was happening on to his left rear.
Not safe, having your ass in the wind like that. Got to make this quick.
The big officer kept moving, quickly approaching the thin walls separating the loading area from the warehouse proper and glancing inside.
He looked back at Baptiste, signaling: Clear. Hold.
Baptiste’s response was a shift of his point of aim back to the street.
Venkman was collapsing on the door when a bubbling-wet cough drew him up short. He flicked his gaze to his left and saw a gout of blood spatter upward from the mouth of the man furthest from the entrance.
Venkman keyed his mic. “Got one breathing, sort of. Moving to render aid. Man is down inside the warehouse at my twenty.”
“3D6D copies. Holding.” Baptiste, acknowledging.
Venkman hustled over, slinging the long gun and reaching for the medpad clipped to his harness. The stricken man lay still, eyes rolled up and part of his skull open to air. Thick, heavily-oxygenated blood seeped through the gangster’s long hair from the right side of his forehead back to above the ear.
Venkman went to one knee and looked for someplace to apply the medpad. The things weren’t generally intended for head injuries, as the technology was meant to prevent free bleeding, something that could be preferable to the clotting and swelling that was likely to result if a head wound was sealed prematurely.
Fuck it. Not like he’s breathing all that regular anyway. Any swelling should be less of a problem with half his brain dished out. He gingerly placed the medpad over the wound and activated it.
A steady amber LED appeared. Venkman tripped his mic again. “Victim is not breathing regularly. Single wound, looks like bullet entry and exit. Three centimeters along the right side of the forehead to just above the ear. Applied the medpad.”
“Dispatch copies. Starting countdown.” If the medpad didn’t show a green LED in the next minute, indicating the miniature cortex believed itself capable of saving the gangster’s life, Venkman could move on.
Never see the gangsters hanging with their supposed blood brothers for this, do I? No, it’s the cops and medics get to hold their breath and see if the dying will pull through. The thugs scatter like cockroaches with the light on, despite all the shit they talk about loyalty to the grave.
The light never came green. The kid didn’t breath again.
“No further life signs, medpad is amber. Moving.”
Venkman took up a position on the far side of the entrance, covering the rest of the street.