The Guardians

By Rilbur

Standard Disclaimer

Works best under Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera... any major browser except Internet Explorer 8 and below.

You're all probably familiar with the standard drill: this story may contain sexual scenes -- including same-sex encounters -- rape scenes, cross-generation themes, abuse, and other nastiness. If reading such is illegal in your area, please do not continue. If you are under eighteen, please do not continue. This writing is copyrighted to the author and unauthorized reproduction is illegal. Readers are authorized to download and store the page for reading purposes. Readers are authorized to print one copy of this story for reading purposes. Any distribution of those copies is prohibited. Reproduction of this text for any purpose is strictly prohibited.

Legal stuff aside, this is not a standard Nifty story: sex is there, and it's a major element of the plot, but only insofar as sex is a major issue in life. And the sex scenes, in general, won't be in any sense 'detailed'. This story isn't intended to get your rocks off, but to be an enjoyable read in its own right, much as any published work might be. (In fact, you can find hardcopies on sale via Lulu, and E-Book versions are also available at )

Remember, please, that e-mail is an author's only payment -- please do pay! Short of outright flaming, I enjoy and consider almost every e-mail comment I recieve, both positive and negative. I will answer any and all e-mails that I recieve.

Chapter Twenty-Three

"Jason wake up! Now!" Ronan ordered harshly.

"What?" Jason asked fuzzily, mind still stuck in sleep. "Whats going on?"

"Wake up!" Ronan repeated, yanking the covers off the bed with one hand as he stripped down with the other. "No time to explain, just wake up and dress!" Ronan yanked open his closet and rummaged around for a moment before pulling out a false wall and revealing a hidden compartment inside. Tossing a pair of swords on the bed, he pulled out a set of clothing as well. "Hurry!"

Jason rolled out of bed and grabbed some clothes. "Any special dress?"

"Casual, and nothing you care about getting ruined," Ronan ordered as he pulled on the clothes. Jason didn't have a set yet, but Ronan and Lara had explained to all of them what went into the Guardian 'uniform'. From the skin out everything that could be made of animal parts was, be it hide, fur, or something else. A special mix of fine wool and silk was used for the underwear, and Ronan had chosen to use leather strips for cords. Jason was almost jealous at how comfortable the underwear had to be, but the rest of the uniform wasn't as much fun. Made in a single piece, Ronan 'stepped into' the suit in a ridiculous looking contortion that just had to hurt, whatever he claimed. It was almost impossible to wear without a touch of magic; the flap of material that sat under the gap in front couldn't possibly be placed properly in any other way. The longest part of the operation was the leather ties, one set up the front from just below the belly button and up to the throat, and another along each arm. There were dozens of them, and each one had to be laced and then tied by hand. The ones in the sleeve covered gloves that went up halfway to his elbows, but the result was leather running from his collar straight down to the full length, custom made boots he would don after the rest of the outfit. Despite long practice at donning it in a hurry, Ronan wasn't even halfway finished before Jason was fully dressed. "Go make sure your brother stayed awake!" Ronan told him when Jason reached over to help.

"Gotcha," Jason agreed. Jason rushed out the door, twisting sideways to make sure his katana didn't bump against the frame. He hadn't worn it much, but he'd already come to prefer wearing it over the shoulder, rather than at the hip. Unfortunately, he currently had it set up to wear at the waist and from the way Ronan was acting, now was not a good time to try and switch. Paul was blinking, confused, but dressing.

"What's going on?" he asked, confused.

"No clue; Ronan simply said to get dressed- not that shirt!" Jason snapped. "Nothing you care about, casual clothes!"

"Thanks for the catch," Paul told him, dropping his iSophagus shirt on his bed. Digging around, he found a worn out shirt that would suit. "Ronan didn't give you any hint?"

"Just to bring this," Jason touched his sword. "I'm going to go see if I can get anything more out of him."

"Alright. What a great day for this; we just had the damned contractors lined up to get the sound proofing installed! I was going to move out, and now-" Paul's grumbling was cut off as Jason raced back to his bedroom. Technically it was just Ronan's still; the 'move in' had been scheduled for- Jason glanced at a clock. Yup, for the last three hours it had been scheduled for 'today'. What the hell could possibly be going on at three in the morning?

"Move!" Ronan shouted, rushing out the door before Jason could reach it. "We have no time!"

Jason fell in behind Ronan as he ran for the door. "Paul, haul ass!" Ronan shouted as the door flew open in front of them. Jason took the opportunity to grab a few things from the closet before he ran out, still just seconds after Ronan. Lara met them in the hall, immaculate in her black leather. It showed off her bosom perhaps a bit more than she liked, but she followed much the same pattern as Ronan in her design. The flap of leather that made his decent wouldn't work over her breasts, unfortunately, so she was very much 'on display' in that area. Just a small slice, but very... deep. She laced it tight to minimize that, which also meant that the suit itself acted as a bra. Much to Jason's surprise, her favorite necklace was wrapped up in the leather ties. The gemstone at it's end was left free to swing, or grab.

"Jericho and the rest will meet us at Ashley's; most of them will be there before us," Lara told him as they ran down the hall.

"As soon as we get there, we'll move. We'll leave Paul, Barney, and Jason behind, and take Ashley with us," Ronan told her as they reached the stairs. Ronan didn't bother with the stairs, he just leaped over the guard rail and fell down, flexing his legs to land on the guard rails of the flight below and then bounce off, into the empty space directly beneath Jason's feet. Jason shook his head as Lara followed suit.

"I'm going to break a damned leg," he bitched. "Hurry up Paul!" he shouted at his laggard brother as he jumped off himself. He didn't break a leg, but he might have preferred that to missing his landing with one foot on either side of the guard rail. He was down quickly enough and picked his run back up... even if he was a bit hunched over. Ronan already had the car started up and moving, and Jason had to literally hop in at a run. Ronan slowed a little to let Paul in once he caught up, and then took off out of the garage dangerously fast.

Jason held on tight to the handle over the door, and Paul cursed as he flew sideways. "Fuck, let me get my seatbelt on!"

"No time!" Ronan told him. "Short version: Quentin found them."

"Found who!" Paul shouted as he finally got his seat belt on just in time for another turn that nearly span the car out. "And slow the fuck down!"

"No time!" Ronan snapped. "Quentin was hunting those bastards who survived the ambush the other day, and he hit the mother load instead. He's got their thrice-damned command structure in his sights, in some kind of meeting. If we get there quickly enough, we can end this, before Merlin has the time to call in the Watchers!"

"What do you mean, has the time?" Lara asked, surprised.

"Simply put, their communications trail is a bit convoluted to try and hide it from 'normals';" Ronan told her. "If we move quickly enough, he won't actually be in contact when we tell him to forget about it!"

"That sounds like a good idea," Lara agreed. "Step on the damned gas then!"

"I can't go much faster," Ronan said unhappily. "I'm going to have a hard enough time-"

With a blare of horns and lights Ronan just barely managed to dodge a car on a cross street. Jason had an instant to give a sigh of relief before a siren started up; the car in question had been a cop car.

"I don't have time for this!" Ronan snarled, and Jason came to a decision. Unbuckling his seat belt he opened his door and tossed his sword, halfway switched from the hip harness to the over the shoulder one, to his brother. "What the hell are you doing?" Ronan asked angrily, and then Jason jumped out. One hand on the handle, one foot on the door, the next thing he knew he was on the roof and jumping again. Soaring through the air he landed, hard, on the engine block of the cop car. The impact stopped the car, destroyed it's engine, and shattered its windshield, and he reached out with his mind to knock the cops out. They hadn't even had a chance to call in their pursuit yet, and he wiped all memory of what happened from their minds even as he leaped back towards Ronan's car. He'd somehow transferred all of the momentum the cop car had picked up to himself, and he bounced off the roof of the car and wound up crouched on the hood. He calmly walked up and over and the roof until he reached his door, which a white-faced Paul was holding open.

Jason belted his seat belt and then rolled down his window before retching. "I can't believe I did that!" he screamed.

"Neither can I!" Ronan told him. "Next time warn me, unless you want to give me a damned heart attack!

"Ronan, step on the gas!" Jason told him, leaning forward and placing a hand on Ronan's shoulder. "Lord, help me," he whispered. He sensed more than heard Lara and Paul's gasps of amazement as Ronan pressed the pedal to the medal. With his eyes closed he couldn't see the speedometer, but he didn't need to. Somehow he was acting as a living radar, telling Ronan where the cars he couldn't see were and how to avoid them. Where to speed up, where to ease up long enough to avoid a collision. Where to turn to avoid an intersection blocked with early morning traffic. Where the converging lines of speeding automobiles needed a leader, someone to guide them as Jason guided him. Soon an entire convoy was barreling down the road, taking reckless turns and speeding even by freeway standards through the residential district.

Ronan slammed on the breaks and spun out, halting in front of Ashley's house. "Jason, Paul, out!" he ordered.

Paul was halfway out the door before Jason could say it. "No. I'm going with you."

"Jason, we do not have the time-"

"I am going with you, and that is final Ronan!" Jason cut him off. "You need me. And beyond that, I have the right. The right!"

"Jason, you-" Ronan tried again.

"They killed Eric in front of me; they tried to kill me; they are targeting me," Jason cut him off again. "I am going, and that is final. Besides, where you go, I go."

"Dammit, we don't have time... Lara?" Ronan asked.

"Ashley, stay here and keep watch!" Lara shouted out her window. "Sorry about the last minute change in plans!"

"Whatever!" Ashley shouted back before turning and running back into the house. Ronan didn't wait long, sitting up out of his window long enough to take count over everyone. Waving forward, he pulled out through the suddenly crowded street, slowly building up speed.

"Lara, get back on the cell tree," he ordered. "I want them to break up into two groups when we get near the target; one goes left the other goes right. The building has two parking garages, and I want us to come at both of them from opposite directions, just in case the bastards hear we're coming."

"Gotcha," Lara agreed. Jason smiled at their using his idea. The cell tree was a simple concept, an elegant solution to a problem he'd brought up. Their magical communications were supposed to be secure, but they couldn't be sure. And while it was possible to tap into cell phone signals, it was difficult. By making sure every Guardian had four or five disposable cells, and arranging them in a 'tree' pattern radiating outward from two or three key people, they had set up a completely untraceable, and nearly untappable, communications net. The government might be able to track them, given enough time and resources. No one without the resources would stand a chance. And a simple magical 'scramble', nearly invisible unless you were right on top of it, would hide the signals (and the actual physical conversations) from any kind of magical tapping. Unless the bastards had their hooks into exactly the right cell networks, and knew exactly what to watch for, they couldn't hope to 'listen in'. And they could only know it was happening if they tried to watch a person when the scramble field went up, blocking their view of them.

Jason unfortunately didn't have any of his cells with him, though he did have the numbers he was responsible for memorized already. "You're going to have to patch around me, and probably Paul too," he told Lara. "Ronan rushed us out so quickly we didn't have time to grab 'em."

"I know, already adjusted the network," she told him as she dialed a number and began to explain the plan. Jason could feel the shift as everyone was briefed, as their attitudes, their minds, their plans fell into a perfect alignment.

The Guardians rode to war. God might be able to help their opposition, but nothing else could. They rode to war, and victory!

Jason took off his shirt and started rearranging his gear. He wanted everything placed just right, so that it would be at hand when and if he needed it.

The convoy formed up into four columns, sweeping down the road at reckless speed. A single oncoming car would ruin everything, but Jason didn't care. There wouldn't be an oncoming car, they were already seeing to that. A dozen minds roved out with his own, acting as one to route traffic away. This was their road, for now. This was their war. And as Ronan stuck his hand out the window, Jason felt the break as they split suddenly into two. Still one, despite the split, the convoy screamed around the corner. The river that split the city had many bridges over it, and they rode for two separate bridges, straight into the heart of downtown.

Soon enough they began to converge, and Jason checked one final time that his sword was firmly buckled in place. It made for uncomfortable seating, but he didn't intend to slow anyone down so he could put it on once he was out of the car.

"Jason, I want you-" Ronan began.

"I will go where I will go," Jason told him. He felt strange, almost disconnected from himself. He was reaching out, grabbing hold of the greater spirit around him. He touched it, and it touched him. Jason leaned forward and grabbed Ronan's shoulder. Ronan stiffed momentarily, then shook his head.

"You will go where you go," Ronan conceded.

"Ronan?" Lara asked, concerned.

"First rule of command: never give an order you know won't be obeyed," Ronan explained with a sigh. "Jason wouldn't have stayed behind, and he's going to do whatever the hell he feels like now. I can't stop him, so I won't try."

"You can't, or won't, stop him?" Lara asked.

"Lara," Jason broke in, "nothing can stop me save death. I am a Guardian now."

Lara turned around. "You may be a Guardian, but-"

"Lara!" Jason snapped. "You can't stop me, so don't waste your time!"

Lara opened her mouth to argue, then closed it with an audible snap. Power was collecting around Jason and Ronan. A massive surge of power that rivaled anything she had ever dreamed of wielding herself. Not even in her wildest dreams could she have opposed what they were pulling to themselves. Ronan was powerful, Jason was powerful. Together, they strengthened each other beyond mere 'power'.

The Guardians rode to war, and their greatest champions sat in this car. She couldn't stop him.

They didn't even slow down when they reached the gate to the garage. Ronan simply thrust a fist forward, releasing a bolt of energy that shattered their windshield. What it did to the door in front of them didn't bear speaking on; nothing was left. They roared in at the head of the column, and again Jason jumped out of the car without thinking. Even as the car roared into the lower level of the parking garage he rolled along the floor of the second level, coming up at a run for the door. In front of him a shocked figure armed with a spear gaped and Jason didn't hesitate. His blade seemed to leap into his hand and with a single cut he opened the man up from crotch to shoulder. Jason twisted, stopping long enough to apply a second cut just to make sure the man was dead.

Speed above all else. Surprise above all else. Utter ruthlessness.

Jason didn't pause after his kill, simply continued his run. Applying his shoulder to the doors, he slammed into the building proper without even slowing. His senses ranged forward. No one there, just a cloaking blackness that hid his prey. Despite this he was the very wind of death. Around him he felt more than heard the other Guardians slamming into the defenders, but the defenses were weak, distracted. The hardest hammer fell on him, all the defenses distracted by his assault, guards rushing to face him. By the time the bastards understood that this was a general assault it was too late, they were out of position. The carefully laid ambushes and tricks that would have slowed down and killed the Guardians were abandoned, and all that was left was to vent their fury on him.

A decision which did them no good. Speed. Surprise. Ruthlessness. Jason was beyond their defenses before they could solidify; he was behind the ambushes before they could be sprung; he was death made flesh. Inside him the two sides of his power merged and met, and this battle was, in it's own way, a form of prayer for him. An offering of what he was, a sacrifice of what he had once been, a ritual of death.

Calmly, evenly, thoroughly he cut his way deeper and deeper into the building, chaos behind and panic ahead. His clothes were rags, slashes and burns everywhere. He never felt the blows that came so close to killing him, never felt the blasts of fire, ice, and electricity he shrugged aside by brute force. They didn't matter. Nothing mattered but the rage. The sword in his hand and the fire in his eyes.

Finally the defenses solidified in front of him, and ten men charged him. Rolling aside he danced the dance with death, but it was all he could do to hold them off. More men piled in, and more, and the ground beneath him grew slick with blood.

And then Ronan arrived. Like a grizzly bear charging into a pack of wolves he scattered them, and the fresh onslaught broke the bastards as a group. Together Ronan and Jason raced forward, the rest of the Guardians mere steps behind as they fought their way up the building. In a large atrium halfway up the building, they found their prey waiting for them.

Jason was the first through the door, and stopped a few steps in. "So, we meet at last," he growled as Ronan and the rest followed. Jason looked around uneasily, knowing this couldn't possibly be what it appeared.

"Indeed," one of the figures sneered. "I'm not going to bother asking how you found us. But I will give you this one last chance to leave. Leave this building, leave this city, leave your gym and the treasure inside."

"And let you use it?" Ronan laughed. "Not a chance. Counter-offer. Surrender, let us bind your powers. We'll give you new memories and new lives, but you'll live."

"I'm afraid that's not much of an option either," the man sneered. "I guess that really only leaves us with one choice, doesn't it?"

"Yes, it does," Ronan raised his fist, and then pointed at the man who was clearly the leader of the group. The window behind them shattered, and the man's head exploded. Jason didn't have to look to know that Quinton was having 'fun' with his sniper rifle. With a roar, he charged, a heartbeat behind Ronan. The Guardians who had reached the atrium spread out behind them and followed, and the men in front of them fell back. Several of them stumbled, but clearly their shields were firmly in place, blocking Quinton's shots. Jason breathed deep of the smokey air, the smell of blood and gasoline- Gasoline?!

Jason grabbed Ronan and yanked him back. "Trap!" he screamed, pointing back to the door. "Fall back! Fall back!" The carpet underneath was wet, but not with blood. One of the men pointed his finger at it and a spark leaped forth. The fire erupted in a rush, a wall of fire and fury fit to smash even Jason's defenses aside. Magic could counter magic easily enough, but countering this firestorm after it had already started would require preparations no one had time to make. A moment of concentration, of focus, that would spell their death in the furious melee that they'd all expected to erupt.

Jason didn't need that moment though. He couldn't stop it, couldn't prevent the flames from spreading, but he didn't need to. The mystic arts would require concentration and focus, but the divine arts merely required that he offer up his intent and ask for aid. He pulled the oxygen out of the air and created a wall of cold air that the fires hit and broke over. It didn't last long, the fires still threw sparks and ash that could ignite the carpet beyond the barrier and all the barrier did was slow the flames. But it lasted long enough. They were through the door they'd entered in, and Ronan pointed at a window. The fire behind them wouldn't stop for a while -- and would probably wind up consuming the entire building -- and they didn't have time to wait. They had to go around.

The barest of ledges outside it was enough for them. Ronan led the way, with Jason behind. Dropping down and going hand-over-hand, the rough concrete felt reassuring under their fingers as they dangled hundreds of feet in the air. After a while, Ronan hung by one hand and drew his sword with the other. Smashing the window in with the hilt, he pulled himself up, grabbing onto the window frame for support. Leaning down, he gave his hand to Jason and pulled him in. Guardian after Guardian, they first got pulled in and then pulled another in while the others filtered outward, careful for traps.

"If you hadn't been here..." Ronan whispered to Jason.

"I am here. I will always be here, for you, my love," Jason told him, tears in his eyes. "We've got a fight to win."

"Indeed," Ronan agreed. "This is going to be interesting, isn't it?"

"Lara is downstairs, helping to keep those bastards blocked, right?" Jason asked.

"Yeah. The sheer number of traps they have in place..." Ronan shook his head. "We've already got them blocked off, so she's taking the time to track all of them down. They can't go down, so eventually we'll get them, but... there were a lot of traps. If we'd tried this without you... I could have killed you for that little stunt."

"And instead, it kept you from being killed," Jason reminded him. "Mind you, I'm not in the mood to do any more matrix impressions unless I absolutely have to."

"That's exactly what it looked like, honestly, just minus the slow mo," Ronan laughed quietly. He shook his head and then chided Jason, "we need to focus on the mission, this idle chit-chat will get people-" A loud roaring interrupted him, and Jason looked outside. A chopper was roaring past, climbing hard.

"There's a helicopter pad on the roof!" Ronan swore.

"No!" Jason roared. Smashing out the window with a single blow from his sword, he grabbed onto the frame and looked up. The chopper was climbing fast, but it hadn't quite made the roof when he launched a blast of fire up at it. Someone had clearly tried to protect it, but the intense, focused needle of flame he followed up the blast with cut straight through the defenses, and the engine block. The chopper's engine sputtered and then failed, and it began to fall. With a snarl, Jason created a whip of pure force and prepared to snap it outward, and then had an idea. Grabbing the firehouse off the wall he quickly smashed the wheel that it was wound around, leaving a makeshift rope. He prepared to swing it up at the helicopter, but by the time he was ready it was already completely out of control. There wasn't any point to trying to use it as a way to get up to the roof himself.

"Well, never mind that," Jason sighed. "Forward and onward on foot it is."

"That was a crazy idea," Ronan told him. "Brilliant, but crazy."

"You aren't going to call it stupid?" Jason asked.

"If the chopper had waited another minute to loose all control-" they both flinched as the chopper turned into a fireball on the ground. "There goes any hope of keeping this quiet," Ronan sighed. "Anyway, if the chopper had waited another minute to loose control, it probably would have worked. And if it's stupid but it works, it ain't stupid."

Jason laughed. "Good point. Come on, we need to find those bastards."

"They're probably up on the roof already," Ronan sighed. "We're wasting time poking around like this, checking for traps every-"

A loud scream cut him off, and they ran forward. "Fire, again," Jason snarled.

"What better way to get past our defenses," Ronan said, sickened. There wasn't any point in trying to help the poor bastard, the napalm had already killed him.

"Alright, be careful!" Ronan told them. "Don't just check for ambushes and the like; check for actual booby traps. This place is probably loaded with them. If in doubt, just back away and smash it. Stealth is officially out of the equation people!"

"Stealth..." Jason whispered. "Stealth!"

"What about it?" Ronan asked, concerned.

"That helicopter was hardly stealthy. These guys always strike from the shadows, use prepared positions to bleed us dry, catch us when we're weak and trick us when we're not," Jason ticked point after point off. "They specialize in being prepared, having their resources in place before they're needed. Why did they call in a chopper from the ground?"

Ronan's eyes widened. "A diversion!"

"The other side of the building, now!" Jason roared. Reaching up, he called power to himself until his hand glowed with the brilliance of a newborn star. Eschewing stealth or finesse he threw the bolt forward, ripping through the building with all the delicacy of a charging rhino. Walls, doors, piping, and electrical systems alike were simply bashed aside, and concussive shockwave rippled outward, triggering traps and destroying the building's structure.

"Jason, where are you getting the power to do that kind of shit?" Ronan asked, awestruck. Electrical discharges snapped around the corridor Jason had just carved for them, ebbing remnants of the sheer power Jason had just used.

Jason placed his hand on Ronan's chest. "I'm not sure, but I don't think I'm doing it alone."

Ronan placed his hand over Jason's, and nodded. "I getcha." Waving his hand forward, he shouted "Hey, guys, we have a way!"

They moved cautiously, despite the way Jason had destroyed any possibility of a trap. The floor was unstable, and no one really wanted to fall down through it. God only knew what traps lay on the floor beneath, untriggered and waiting. Still, they made it across the building much quicker. Jason got down on his hands and knees and crawled forward until he could stick his head out and looked up. "Shit!" he swore. Looking down, he saw figures dangling from ropes, nearly halfway down and rapidly rappelling further. Drawing his sword, he cut the one close to him. The scream as the person fell drew the attention of the others, and they quickly gave up rapelling in favor of smashing in the nearest window and getting the hell out.

"They're right on top of Lara! Shit!" Ronan snarled. "Downstairs, fast!"

Jason reached his hand out and called one of the ropes to him. "Nice idea!" Ronan followed suit, and so did half of the Guardians with them. The rest made for the nearest staircase, unwilling to try it. Ronan wrapped a loop of the rope around his arm and swung out, letting his leather take the friction of the rapidly passing rope. Jason didn't dare try the same thing with the rags he was reduced to, so he had to go slightly slower, letting it out hand over hand. Still, he moved very quickly, quick and precise despite having to go one grip at a time. As a result, he wasn't much behind when another explosion went off overhead. For a moment he wasn't too terribly concerned about it, but then the rope went slack. For an instant he didn't understand, but then he was tumbling free of the building, falling downward.

Of all the shitty ways to die, falling off a skyscraper really hadn't been one he was expecting, he mused. Time seemed slow, but his life didn't flash before his eyes. Instead, something inside of him snarled and defied fate. Pulling his powers together, he took firmer grip of the rope and lashed out with it. Alive under his will it smashed through a window and wrapped around a support. He swung around with a final tumble and smashed into the building with brutal force, almost blacking out. Coughing up blood, he dragged himself upright and looked around. He was in the middle of a war zone, but the battle had passed. From the sounds overhead, it was coming back though. Depending on how you looked at it, he was behind or in front of the front lines. And badly injured. Grabbing hold of his thigh above and below the bend that just didn't belong, he screamed in pain as he pulled it straight. The broken bone would take a few minutes to mend, but at least it was in the right place now. He couldn't do anything about the throbbing pain in his ribs, except wait for them to heal on their own.

He couldn't use his powers to accelerate his healing any further, he knew, but from the sounds of it the battle wasn't going to wait politely. "Set up blocks on both side of the main corridor, funnel them in at me!" Lara shouted as she emerged from a staircase down the corridor. "I want- Jason!"

Lara rushed over and helped him pull upright. "What the hell happened to you?" she demanded.

"They used ropes to rappel down," Jason coughed.

"Shit, don't try and talk!" Lara snapped, placing a hand on his chest. "Damn, you should be dead!"

"In more ways than you know," Jason groaned as she lifted him into a fireman's carry.

"Change of plans; just slow them the hell down," Lara ordered. "I'm getting Jason out of here."

"No," Jason ordered, coughing. "Fight them, Lara. Just hide me."

"Jason, you're in no condition-" Lara started.

Jason thumped his hands angrily on her back. "You have to stop them! Can't let them get away!" he tried to shout, but it came out too garbled to be understandable.

Lara paused, and lowered her head. "Damnit," she swore, clearly understanding him despite the garbled nature of the message. "Alright. I'll hide you. Stay hidden, understand?"

Jason coughed, unable to answer. The throbbing in his side was getting worse, and the taste of blood was growing stronger. But it didn't matter. They had to end this. Today. Now! He didn't know how many innocents had been killed already, how many of the bastard's pawns they'd had to cut down for no other crime that being caught up against their will in something beyond them. How many innocent people had been killed when the helicopter crashed, how many had taken shrapnel injuries from the explosion on the roof. No idea how many people's livelihoods they had smashed by the battle raging through this building, how many Guardians had fallen already or would fall by the end. But it was too many. It had to stop!

Go, he ordered Lara with his mind. It must end! he impressed his meaning into the message, and Lara nodded curtly.

"One way or the other, it ends," she told him before turning and closing the door.

Jason curled up on the floor and tried to forget the pain. Sobbing, he tried, and failed, to force it back as the darkness crept closer. Cold... so very cold...

Again, let me remind you that your e-mails are the only payment I recieve, and please do send them in to me at -- I enjoy the positive responses, and negative responses are invaluable for a chance for me to develop my skills! All it takes is a simple one line e-mail telling me I did a good job to make my day for a good five minutes, so please take the time to send it in!

This story is also available at Castle Roland, courtesy of 'Lord' Roland, and additional stories by this author can be found there, not all of which will make it to Nifty. I also maintain a presense at GayAuthors, and additional stories may be found there not available elsewhere. You can also visit my website, for information and a selection of my works. If you wish to purchase a copy of this work, provides both a print and e-book edition, and you can find additional copies of my work through various other self-publishing websites. Thanks to my editors for helping sort out all the many typos and other stupidities that creep into my writing!