2020-06-21: Hurt



Summary: With the Eve of the attack coming quickly, James receives his final orders. And requests.

Date: June 21, 2020.

Log Title Hurt

Rating: PG

OOC Note: Hurt as performed by Nine Inch Nails and as covered by Johnny Cash.

The Future - Salem Center - Hunter's Den

The surrounding area that serves as the Hunters Den is as expansive as it is diverse. Looking much like an extended bivouac, tents and improvised shelters stretch for blocks in all directions. For those with the means, makeshift bars and eateries offer a change of pace from enlisted foodstuffs, while other structures offer questionable forms of entertainment and more. Beyond the archway, in stunning contrast to the outside shantytown, the Mall has been renovated into a well defended headquarters of sorts offering the Hunters elite a temporary respite from the war and a place to rest, shower, eat, and rearm.

Captain Spaulding has never like his job. As the section commander of the many Hunter squads, it’s his duty to account for everything that goes on underneath him. Some squads make the job easy, some individuals make the job hard. He still decided which side of the coin Tooth represents. But one thing is sure: He’d still hate his job no matter the answer, “Well. As you no doubt know by now, the Resistance struck a serious blow. We will be moving the timetable for our attack well ahead of schedule. And, as you requested, you will be part of this attack.”

Arriving fresh from the field from his battle with Connor, James is covered in some still knitting. A battle that will leave its mark on the Captains’ nice rug in the shape of muddy, bloody footprints. “Yes sir, thank you sir,” the says at full attention, “I only wish I could have brought back Volk’s head. I tried. I failed. I take full responsibility for the damage he did to my AFS link.” The latter being the device planted in his spine that tracks and monitors James’ class of mutant. And kill if needed—should he prove disloyal.

The Captain waves it off, “I saw in your report that you will be down until Friday if the unit is replaced. That’s no good. The attack happens sooner. We’ve reviewed your paperwork and feel you’re not a flight risk. So, we’ll handle it when you return.” He nods to a folder on his desk, pushing it forward. “Here’s your briefing. The timetable and the details are inside. Be ready when you’re needed. And be ready to perform.”

James takes the folder and shoves it under an arm, “Thank you sir. My only regret is I will be unable to lead. But, as a mutant, I understand that is not possible. But, I’ve already been told I will be leading point.” He smiles grimly, “At least I will get the pleasure of seeing the looks on their faces when we break through their defenses.” The hyena’s expression changes as he pulls out a piece of paper and offers it to the officer, “Sir…if I may. I have a list of requests.”

The higher-ranking man frowns, but takes the paper anyway. He looks over the list and back at the hyena. “Interesting set of requests.” He leans backwards in his chair, eyes on the beast in front of him, “One gets the feeling you think you might not be returning.” The chair groans an the man is sitting upright again “But, you’re not the first one to ask for special favors. So, consider them granted.”

James nods, “I’ve always been a realist sir. I know the odds. And if this is the time for something to happen, I’m just glad it was while I was doing something I believe it.”

The Captain chuckles, “Credit to your programming. Dismissed.” He nods to the door and starts pouring over the preparations for the upcoming attack

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real.

Sitting back in his tent, James stares at the liquid inside the vial and the auto injector it’s attached to. He’s familiar with the medication inside. It’s been used on him more than once. Almost always in unpleasant circumstances.

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

Holding it to his neck, he squeezes the trigger. There’s a hiss, a twinge of pain—and then the burning. The latter is the worse. Every nerve in your body lights up. He’s literally been on fire more than once in his life, but even that takes a back seat to something that shuts off what you’ve been for years. There’s a thud as his form hits the floor, the crippling sensations taking over. He prays for numbness, for darkness. It can never come too soon. But when it does it never last long enough.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end

Waking up, James takes a painful deep breath. Rolling over onto his back he lifts his head and—with some amount of work—sits up. Surrounded by shed fur and liquid goo, James holds his hands in front of himself and sighs. Human. Once again. But for only a limited time. The nullification serum worked.

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

Standing rather weekly, and some 250 lbs lighter, the Human James opens the bag that was left along with the requested medication. Inside, another 2/3rd of what he wanted. The supply list reads:
• 2 pair standard issue t-shirts, Black. One: XXXL. One: L
• 2 pair standard issue BDU pants, Black. One: XXXL. One: L
• 2 pair machine shop goggles One: XXXL. One: L

He runs his finger over the list and tightens his jaw. If he’s going to hit them where it hurts it will be on his own terms, familiar terms, while wearing things familiar to him. And them. The same clothes he wore in school.

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair

On goes the clothing, on go the goggles, out comes a mirror. Looking at himself for a long moment he laughs, “Like to say I’m happy to see you again. Like to say I didn’t feel it would be the last time.” It’s to no one real…just an image of a person he never was. Himself.

Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

Tossing the mirror back into the drawer, he gives his room a scan, “Alright, enough of this crap.” Turning, he gets his larger set of clothing ready, transferring his collection of notebooks into the side pockets; each one containing a series of names. Names that Tooth took from this earth in the name of the Government. And his one separate sense of duty.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end

Walking over to the far table he checks the straps on his new body armor. Picking it up, he notices something under it. Jinx’s prisoner shirt. The one she arrived in. Picking it up with both hands, he buries his face in it, hoping to catch her scent. His now-human senses fail him, only picking up the smell of weeks-old mud and grime.

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

James frowns and tosses it into a wastebasket. What does he care…she was his weakness, not the other way around. And when ‘it’ happens, he can’t afford the luxury of nostalgia. He walks over to his footlocker and pulls out a harness, each strap decorated with a holster, an ammo pouch, of a knife. Hunter’s weapons. His weapons. The weapons he will use against his enemies and anyone who stands in the way of his job.

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

Dropping the web gear and the body armor off on his bed he pulls out the final item: a special rations card. Good for anything he wants and as much of it as he wants. Picking up the mission folder, he walks towards the flap of the tent before turning to make sure his gear is ready. He smiles, every detail in its place. A frown follows. Well almost. Crossing the room to the trashcan he pulls out the shirt and rips off a rather large swatch. Shoving it in one of “Tooth’s” pockets, he nods to no one before leaving the tent, a smug sense of satisfaction setting in as he speaks to himself a final time, “June 21st. Happy Birthday, James. Hope you like what I got you.”

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