Four in the fragging morning and I’m standing out here waiting for a ghost…
Troy Gallagher checked the chronometer again and brought up the AR feed from the terrace cameras. His father was still talking with Brackhaven and Ward. Well…drinking with them would be more accurate. Ellen was sticking around for the show. And Governor Brackhaven? Well, no-one would ever accuse him of turning down 40-year-old scotch…
Where the frag is that drekking mage? Some people have to work in the morning…
At least Hutts and Tremblay had gone home at a reasonable hour. Fewer important people to worry about if Wolfe was playing him. Not that he wasn’t being cautious. Sure, the main ‘security team’ were slags from the office, but the FRTs in the garage, house and ghost chopper would make sure he could handle a doublecross. Plus, Antonio knew his role, whether things went smoothly or not. If it all went to shit, he could plausibly claim to be luring them in with a ‘soft target’ before dropping the hurt.
Besides, he’d briefed Ellen about the scenario. She sure as hell wasn’t sticking around for the company. Said something about getting a chance to assess Brackhaven ‘under pressure’. Although he’d had enough scotch that he was likely pass out before the action started. Or piss himself with fear.
Good thing that Hutts and Tremblay had left. The Chief Justice was already antsy about the meeting without weird shit happening. And Sharon just gave him the creeps. Fragging lawyers.
Any fucking time. Getting cold out here.
The first crack of gunfire announced the start of the show, and Troy used it to focus on the tactical situation. The ‘security force’ was responding as haphazardly as expected. Enthusiasm doesn’t replace actual training. They were firing at something over by the wall, and Troy allowed himself a small lump in his throat when he saw Ryan’s body floating toward the house.
It looked like the mage was good to his word. Overwatch was reporting a lone figure with an invisibility spell and no sign of other credible threats. A few spirits dealing with the cannon fodder, including that punk from research who thought a little magical ability made him a bad-ass combat mage. The footage of him knocking himself out with that counterspelling attempt might make it to the department Christmas party trideo…
The rest of the sacrificial loud-mouths went down in less than five seconds. Should boost morale around the office by shutting up the jackasses who think going to the firing range once a week makes you qualified to critique operations…
By this time, Dad and his guests were noticing the disturbance. Time to provide the necessary distraction.
“Antonio. If you please.”
The Spaniard drew his blade and dramatically stepped onto the lawn and challenged the ‘enemy’ spirits. Wolfe didn’t know the adept would be here and his spirits attacked Antonio like the rest of the security team. Three seconds later, all four spirits were gone, and all of the attention in the house was focused on Troy and Antonio instead of the floating dead body.
“FATHER, WHY HAVE YOU FORESAKEN ME?"
Nice touch. Troy wondered if Wolfe had spliced the vocals together, or if Ryan had recorded them already. Probably the former. His brother wasn’t big on planning ahead. But maybe his former team would be of some use after all…
Still, a shame he wasn’t really here to see their father’s response to his dead body floating onto the terrace booming out the existential challenge. The old man looked like he was going to have a stroke right there. The Awakening might have made the world jaded to mystical events, but having your dead son floating into the room, in the middle of the night, after a few drinks, to demand answers for your failures as a father?
And Brackhaven? He surprised Troy. Apparently surprised Ms. Ward too. The governor had his pistol out, ready to shoot, but despite the number of drinks and the general mayhem, he clearly read Ellen’s and Troy’s calm demeanor. He put the gun away and sat down, picking up his drink and watching as if nothing more unusual than a heated discussion was occurring.
Ellen’s going to have her hands full once this inquiry nonsense runs its course.
Troy double checked the feeds from the various house cameras. He didn’t want to lose any of the footage of dear old dad scrabbling backward on the floor, whimpering as Ryan’s body chased him around, booming accusations. Wolfe had even rigged a microphone and smart-system to splice phrases on the fly, responding to their father’s pleas, questions and statements. The dark suit might hide part of the problem, but Troy’s thermographics clearly showed the warm spot growing on the old man’s pants.
“OK”, he subvocalized into the commlink. “I think you’ve made your point, Wolfe. Time to put this to rest.”
The troll’s body floated back to the edge of the terrace and turned back to their father.
“YOU NEED TO CHANGE, FATHER. OR I’LL BE BACK.”
Ryan’s body floated away from the building and then up out of sight before presumably heading to the van parked outside of the compound. Troy snorted at the dramatic departure.