“Escalating situation protocol to level RED. You’re weapons free. Calling for backup.”
The professionally calm voice of the dispatcher didn’t help me at all. I was frozen with terror, huddling behind a damaged, burning garbage sweeper and staring in panic at the dead chassis of my partner, cored through the chest by an armour-piercing bullet.
“Officer Callahan, your vital signs indicate a state of distress. Please remain calm, backup will be at your location in four minutes”
I tried to force myself to breathe slowly, but I couldn’t help but imagine the havoc a sniper round would do to my squishy, biological body. My hands seemed to grip the handgun handle of their own volition and I couldn’t force them to flip the cover over the bright red button that would switch the gun to autonomous lethal engagement mode.
It wouldn’t help against a sniper, anyway.
“Officer Callahan, I have notified your medical supervisor and she has released the safety interlock on your injector. Please stand by for combat drug response.”
I couldn’t pry my eyes from the dead body of my Partner, lying on the road and leaking bright green coolant all over the greyish white surface of the pavement. My intellect knew that Pix wasn’t dead. Before we went on patrol, just as every cop went through mandatory drug testing, every Partner went down to the precint’s basement, to make a backup on the offline storage frame. But the fear response in my brain knew what I was seeing – a dead body of my friend, killed by a high-powered, military grade weapon. A weapon that its sights now set on killing me.