2020-06-09: Off the Deep End



Summary: James continues to make his way back from the North; new mission on his mind.

Date: June 9, 2020

Log Title Off the Deep End

Rating: R

Middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire

It was 4 a.m. when the pair of Hunters packed up their equipment and hit the road once again. Having said nothing since they left camp, James sits nearly motionless in the passenger’s seat; his shut as he quietly meditates on the details of returning to the ‘Den. But, while technically only a few hours away, the hyena is taking the scenic route by partnering up with a familiar face: Robert. A mutant hunter with the innate ability to track mutants.

Sitting quietly in the driver’s seat, Robert navigates the ever-crumbling roads; occasionally having to find alternative paths around discarded cars and destroyed bridges. One of the many reasons it takes longer to get from point A to B than it did 10 years ago. Not to mention the maze-like conditions New Hampshire streets present on even the best of days. But that’s okay with the driver. It means more time in an area of the country where the air manages to wash away all but the occasional the smell of death. Rolling past an old park 3 hours, yet only 20 miles, from where they started, Robert pulls onto the lawn and radios in his position before stepping out to give the area a look with his binoculars.

James stirs in his seat and lets Robert do his thing. Leaving the Hummer, the hyena asks, “Anything?” He scent-scans the park, eyes on a broken playground long ago left to rust. A nearby sign proudly displaying “Keyes Field: Milford, NH.

“Naaaa,” Robert says with a headshake, “Nothing more than usual. Not picking up a thing, but was hoping to see something if we stopped.” Another look through the binoculars, “So, why are you in such a hurry? You should soak up this illusion of freedom while you can.” Leaning into the vehicle he radios that it’s all clear and he’ll be heading out soon. A beep, then nothing, as the Sentinel-based recording device on the other end logs the report.

James is a forward scout for the Hunters, a job that involves large tracks of open land. As such, he gets miles and miles of freedom every time he’s sent out. Standing here in a deserted park is nothing new. He grunts, ‘Business.” Silence creates a void as he steps over to check a once-used pool; the bottom 4 feet filled with leaves, brackish water, and the remains of an animal that couldn’t scale the smooth walls. Frowning a little, James adds, “Bullet.”

Robert looks over, “Bullet? As in you need one? Found one…got shot with one?” He steps away from the vehicle as if to signal his need to stay a few moments longer. Busying himself with his binoculars, he tries to look preoccupied, only half paying attention. Maybe that’ll bait the hyena into offering some more details?

“Shot,” James says simply, “Awhile ago, in the chest. Coughed it up. Didn’t know it was still in there. Figure it’s a sign to look for it’s owner.” He chuffs, “Healing factor kept it sealed up inside me. Odd time to make itself known.” Especially since he had been reflecting on his next move the moment before.

Robert shakes his head, “Looking for the owner? Sounds personal.” And Crazy. And a perfect excuse not to hear any more, “Alright. Lets get moving. Lots of places mutants can be hiding around here.” A smile forms on his face, “If you’re done chillin’ lets get to thrillin’ ‘n’ killin.” It’s his idea of a joke. A poor one at that.

James snaps his head over towards the other hunter, his expression one of a person waking up from a recalled memory or long forgotten dream. He narrows his eyes, “Do you enjoy this?” No malice, no anger. Just a simple question from a person whom others assume does. And he’d be hard pressed to mount an argument against that seeing as how he keeps a detailed kill log in his pants pocket. Regardless, something isn’t sitting right suddenly.

Robert shrugs, “Ehhh…it’s a living. I mean. We’re alive. I guess that’s what counts. Not always pretty…but better them than us? Right? So yeah, I do. Given the choice of being the master or the dog…I’ll take master.” He raises his eye brows, “Woops. I mean…not that you’re a dog. Uhh.. Sorry. Nothing personal!” He laughs in a forced way and tosses his keys towards James as a distraction, “It’s my turn to get some sleep.” That’s Robert for you. Honest to a fault. As most low-ranking weak-willed re-programmed Hunters are.

James pupils shrink to pinpoint, jaw setting tight. He snatches the keys out of the air and walks up to Robert, “None taken. And yeah…it’s your turn.” Five minutes later, the hyena puts the Hummer into gear and pulls out of the park leaving Robert to get all the sleep he wants. At the bottom of the pool.

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