Marko and the others arrived at the doorway to the security office in a panting tangle. Their eyes all went to the physician lying facedown inside the doorway. Jason was standing across the room, in front of a wall mounted control panel with his back to them. He paused, on the act of punching a code into the keypad and turned at the sound of their racing footsteps, looking relieved and bewildered.
“Boy am I glad to see you guys! What the hell is going on? I came back from the crapper to find the doctor fiddling with the control panel, trying to shut down the entire security grid! He managed to shut off the perimeter force field, before I could subdue him.”
“Why the hell didn’t you turn the force field back on,” snapped Harold moving to the desktop control panel to Jason’s right.
“I was just about to do that,” Jason said placatingly.
Marko stepped into the room, knelt and pressed his fingers to the side of the physician’s neck. He could detect a weak sporadic pulse. Janet knelt beside him and unbuttoned the top two buttons of physician’s shirt, to free his collar. Andrea stood over them watching, with hands on hips, in case the demon jumped out of him. Harold paused in the act of reactivating the force field, to berate Jason.
“I don’t see how you were about to turn the perimeter force field back on from across the room. You’re standing at the wrong control panel…wait a minute, the physician doesn’t even know the codes for the force fields. Only the security team knows those codes. He couldn’t have shut off the perimeter force field,” mused Harold.
“You humans aren’t as stupid as you look.”
“What the hell is that supposed to…”began Harold pausing and turning to face him, his eyes widening at sight of Jason drawing a gun and aiming it at him. The gunshot was deafening in the small office. The bullet struck Harold in the chest, before he could make a move. Shock momentarily immobilized the group. In rapid succession, Jason turned, shot the two Doorkeepers standing in the room with Harold and began shooting at the rest of the group peering in through the doorway.
Marko shouted for everyone to get out of the line of fire. Andrea crouched to help Janet and Marko pull the physician into the hall and to the right of the doorway. Across from them, one of the security officers flattened himself against the outer wall, gun drawn and repeatedly leaning in through the left side of the doorway to return fire and duck back out. Jason punched the last two digits into a keypad on the control panel behind him.
He spun around, to return fire. The security officer’s kill shot found its mark in the center of Jason’s forehead, spraying the wall behind him with a red mist of brain matter, a millisecond before the activated electromagnetic force field cut the group off from the security office. Marko and the others cautiously returned to the doorway, watching with horrified fascination as the demonic spirit stepped forward out of Jason’s lifeless body, allowing it to fall to the floor like a discarded article of clothing. Marko spoke without turning his head, eyeing the boar like demonic spirit warily.
“The bad news is that if we turn off this force field, then that thing will leap into one of us.”
“What’s the good news,” murmured Andrea.
“The good news is low level demons can’t generate enough energy to exist in this realm for very long, without the energy generated by a host body to feed on.”
“So we can just wait it out and that thing will get have to return to his own realm?”
“That’s one way to put it. The only problem is, the longer we go without a perimeter force field the higher the risk of Mukesh and his crew opening a portal into this place. We’ve got no one to coordinate or defense, now that our Interim Defense Director is dead.”
“What about the physician? Is he dying too,” asked Janet.
“He’s a little bruised and battered, but I didn’t feel any bumps on his head. So, he doesn’t have a concussion. Nothing appears to be ruptured, so he’ll recover physically. I can’t say the same for his mental state. He’s pretty traumatized. I think he’s catatonic. Are the spell weavers in position, guarding the antiquities vault?”
The remaining security officers realized the question was directed at them and looked blankly at one another, shrugging their shoulders. Marko surveyed them with disgust and stalked back to the vault with the others at his heels. Two spell weavers were standing in front of the vault looking bored. He angrily confronted them.
“Two spell weavers? Where’s the rest of your group?”
“We discussed it amongst ourselves and decided that with the perimeter force field off, the compound would be better served with us guarding the entrances,” the balding pudgy one spoke up.
“The Defense Director told you…”
“You mean the interim Defense Director. A young man still wet behind the ears,” he said dismissively.
“It doesn’t matter, he was the one selected to be in charge,” Marko pointed out.
“He wasn’t selected by us! I don’t recall his selection being put to a democratic vote. No doubt, one of our many out of touch committees made that decision, without consulting those of us who are actually down in the trenches!”
“I’m telling you, we need more spell weavers down here! Use your head! Mukesh and his men wouldn’t be so predictable as to try and come striding in the front door. They’re going to strike right at the vault. Get on call the others down here, while there’s still time!”
“I will not! Why the hell should we listen to you? You’re not even a Doorkeeper! The decision has been made. Step aside, Ted and I have things under control down here.”
“I hope to God you know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, you’ve doomed us all,” Marko snapped.