Jason cried out as a third bullet found its mark in his lower right abdomen. A fourth quickly followed, slamming into his left leg above the knee. He staggered backwards and fell against the wall. His legs gave out and he slid down, hitting the pavement hard enough to jar his spine.
The Spectran troopers he had confronted came closer, rifles raised. Jason tried to squelch the sudden panic welling up in his chest.
Blood was running down his chest and right arm from the first two bullets: one was buried in his right shoulder and the other had clipped his upper right arm. He couldn’t reach over to activate his Bird Scramble.
Jason tried to get to his feet, but his left leg wouldn’t cooperate and the burning pain in his side was getting worse. His vision was blurring and he knew he was quickly going into shock. He had to move.
Jason leaned to his left and pushed up with his arm. Before he could move any further, a rifle was pressed into his face.
Jason slowly raised his eyes, straining to focus. Five troopers stood in front of him, all pointing their rifles at him. The closest one jabbed the end of his rifle into his right cheek under his visor. Jason growled at him, adrenalin flowing, hoping the team would realize something was wrong since he was late for his extraction.
“So, G-Force isn’t as invincible as everyone thinks,” the trooper said, glancing over the bloodied Condor. “Not so bad assed now, are you?” He emphasized his words by jabbing the end of his rifle into the tear in the shoulder of Jason’s Birdstyle where the bullet had hit. Fiery pain flared through his chest as the bullet lodged in his shoulder grated against bone. His vision flashed in agony, but he didn’t utter a sound as he bit into his lower lip.
“There’s a high price on your head, Condor,” the trooper went on. He swung the rifle back over and pointed the barrel directly between Jason’s pain filled eyes. “Dead or alive.”
Jason’s heart pounded. ‘This is it. Sam, I’m sorry for leaving you,’ he thought to the love of his life, knowing the trooper was going to pull the trigger. He kept his eyes on the man’s masked face, having no intention of giving them the satisfaction of thinking they had beaten him. He grit his teeth, giving them his patented glare.
A black object suddenly whipped through the troopers, dropping them one by one to the ground as blood sprayed. The rifle pointing between Jason’s eyes fell with a clatter as the trooper dropped, his masked cracked, a stunned look on his face.
Jason looked about, his consciousness starting to ebb. ‘The team. They got here,’ he thought in relief, but none of his teammates appeared.
A man did appear in front of him, dressed all in black body armor, a red emblem on his chest. Jason’s vision was so blurred he wasn’t sure what the emblem was.
Jason didn’t know where he’d come from. He didn’t look like a Blackbird. The man walked towards him, his face covered by a mask that rose above his head into two points. It looked a little like Zoltar’s mask, but the nose wasn’t pointed.
The man crouched down in front of Jason.“Are you all right, Condor?” he asked. Jason couldn’t fight the darkness overwhelming him even as he finally made out who the man was.
“Batman?” he asked and promptly passed out.888
Terry McGinnis caught Jason as he toppled over. He pushed his fingers under his cowl and found his pulse fast but thready. Terry smiled with relief. The last thing he wanted to do was tell Princess one of her brothers was dead.
Using the power of the batsuit, he gathered Jason into his arms and rose, carrying him towards the spot where he’d stashed the Batjet. Once there, he shifted Jason so he could press a button on his utility belt. The top hatch of the Batjet slid back with a hiss.
Terry gently laid Jason down into the far side of the seat and climbed in after him. He closed the hatch and then maneuvered so there was room for both of them. The Batjet hadn’t been made for two.
There was blood all over Jason’s uniform. Terry quickly noted the four wounds and spent a few moments pressing pressure bandages from a first aid kit against them before he started the powerful vehicle and hit a switch on the console.
“Bruce, you need to prep the triage unit,” he said, slowly pulling back on the yoke. The Batjet began to rise.
“How bad are you hurt?” Bruce Wayne asked, his voice tinged with concern and age. Terry turned to look at the face resting against his shoulder, a tuft of coppery brown hair visible under the helmet visor.
“It’s not for me. I’ve got a severely wounded G-Forcer with me. The Condor.”
“Roger,” Bruce acknowledged. Terry waited until Batjet was high enough to clear the nearby buildings before accelerating, heading for home.888
“He’s still not responding,” Princess announced from her station.
“When was the last time he checked in?” Mark asked, twisting around in his seat to face her.
“A half hour ago.”
“I think we should look for him,” Keyop said, his worry clear. “There’s an awful lot of trooper activity down there.”
Mark was silent for a moment and then nodded. “Princess and I will go take a look around. Keyop, keep trying to get him.”
“Roger,” Keyop said as Princess rose from her seat and stepped over to join Mark as he headed for the bubble lift.
Keyop stared at the tracker, scanning the Gotham district of Washington DC with his eyes, fear growing in his stomach.“Darn it, Jason. Where are you?”