Blood and Toil
It hurt to breathe. It hurt to lay here. It even hurt to see.
Wreckage surrounded him. Smoke choked him. His vision had been blurry and he could not make out what lay around him or where he laid for that matter. His hands were clutched at his hip where a deep ache forced him to his knees.
Finally managing to focus, Jerry stared at his orange furred hands that were covered in blood.
Something sharp had bitten through his uniform and tore through his left hip. A moan near him drew his attention from his own hurts to see a cream-colored lump in the same blue uniform of the royal infantry pull themselves from the wreckage of, what was it?
Jerry peered around, trying to remember. A hover-cycle, borrowed from the forward scouts. Jerry could vaguely remember that it was a stupid plan. Suicidal and desperate, but Lieutenant Powel proposed it only because the only other plan had been to send Infantry on foot against tanks.
They were fighting Tanks with Hover-Cycles and Satchel Charges. Jerry volunteered on the spot at the mere mention of it being stupid and suicidal and did so vehemently and with great enthusiasm. They had taken out two, with Jerry laughing like a mad Mobian in the sheer delight of the thunderous explosions.
The third one?
Jerry managed to get up on one foot, the other refused any sort of weight and the pain had been deep.
Jerry ignored it, looking for their target only to discover the wreckage that smoldered the vegetation and trees around them had been the tank they had used a charge on. The hover-cycle they had ridden rested nearby, overturned and leaving a deep gouge in the grass before coming to a halt.
“There they are!”
Whirling, Jerry pulled a dagger he had hidden away beneath his uniform. The movement, however, caused him to fall on his knees, the wounded hip still refusing to do anything but remind Jerry that he was bleeding.
The one who called them out had been a brown Duck with a bandana on their head as well as the familiar blue uniform. There was a grin on their beak as they peered around the remains of the tank.
“They got three!” the Duck proclaimed proudly.
“Fuck!” a Walrus offered as they came into Jerry’s view, “What the fuck did they hit that thing with?”
“All of it,” the cream-colored being, a Rabbit with ears that had been obviously been mutilated unnaturally, declared as they managed to stand. The Rabbit’s accent was thick, and despite some tear on their uniform, they were little more than dazed.
“All of it?” the Walrus demanded in disbelief.
“Never can do too much damage to the enemy,” the Duck proclaimed, moving to inspect both the Rabbit, then Jerry.
“Battle’s been over for half an hour. They pulled their tanks back and it dissolved into a close-quarters fight in the forest,” the Duck announced, moving towards Jerry to help support the Fox, who could not stand without the help.
“I missed the Fight?” Jerry half snarled, in pain and disappointment.
“And a good one, best fight I’ve had in years,” the Duck teased the Fox.
“Yeah, got my hands on an officer,” the Walrus grinned, shouldering bloodied axes, “Powel ordered us to look for you and Dunny-boy, though there was a standing bet you were both dead considering neither of you showed up for the rest of it,”
The Walrus pointedly looked towards the Duck. “You owe me fifty,”
“Yeah yeah,” the Duck grunted, “Help me with this Lad, he is heavier than he looks,”
Jerry growled, still not believing what he was hearing “Wade, I seriously missed the fight?!”
“Yes,” Wade, the brown feathered Duck replied, still smiling, “I’d never lie to you about that TJ.”
The blood in Jerry’s veins boiled. Even with him fighting with unconsciousness and the increasing burning sensation that seemed to encompass his whole left leg, Jerry wanted to fight. It was all he had. All he wanted. He sheathed the dagger and shoved away from Wade in disgust, even smacking away the Walrus’ reaching hand to limp towards Camp. Every step physical agony. Every moment the world blurred more and more.
But he ignored the pain and the hazy sensation. He ignored it and fumed on the fact that he missed his chance to sink steel into the enemy.
And then he found himself staring into the darkness with one eye blink.
Leaning up from the bed he lay in, Jerry still clutched at his hip, the pain still fresh in his mind. Turning on the lamp, Jerry peered at his blood-red hands, then at the very spot where a gash had been oh so many years before. Yet the pain was still there. Jerry could still feel the dampness of the blood between his fingertips.
With hands shaking, he reached over to where he had a pack of cigarettes nearby. Lighting the thin cylinder, Jerry peered at the clock. One AM. He was expected to be up at Six.
Standing up, Jerry unconsciously favored his left leg as he paced until the phantom pain finally faded away to a dull throb. He looked around, trying to find something to preoccupy his mind.
The room he occupied had once belonged to a female, or a really effeminate male, the telling furniture had been pink or bright yellow. Jerry did not care in all honesty, it was just color to him.
Unless it was white.
Jerry really hated white. And snow. And the Cold. Goldeyes swiveled, seeking something else to focus his mind on.
Music in both current and pre-war formats was shelved with stuffed toys. Jerry plucked one out, a pink cat of some kind to inspect it, before putting it back with a grunt. Peering back to the clock, he had wasted twenty-three minutes with his pacing and odd exploration of a room that was clearly not his own.
Another look around the room, it became painfully obvious there was no liquor anywhere to be seen. He could not sleep. He could not get drunk.
“Well, fuck this,” Jerry proclaimed and pulled on a sweater and his boots. Jerry knew where the Armory had been, knew where the shooting range would be.
If he was going to be awake, Jerry was going to train.
The next few days, Jerry quickly became familiar with different tricks and tactics to use with his firearm. Every so often, Bron came down somehow to spar with Jerry for a good two hours in paw to paw combat.
The Fox was good at taking down larger, more powerful foes than himself. Jerry had to be considering that a typical Overlander stood twice his height, had twice his body weight in muscle.
Bron however, was a different cup of tea.
The Bear had been a part of the Freedom Fighter group that held their own lines against Robotnik’s nightmares during the first decade of the Robotnik Wars. Though they were being whittled down one by one, Bron’s Fighters ruthlessly crushed patrols and incursions with avalanches of snow, rock, and bear claw in the snow-capped peaks of the Western Mountains.
They lived in caves and only returned to the villages when Robotnik had been declared dead and gone. If it not for Sonic and the Knothole Freedom Fighters, however, they would have eventually been overcome.
Bron had the experience, they had power, and their arms were way faster than they looked. It was like fighting a giant, furry tornado. Jerry barely stayed out of their reach, ducking and dodging, weaving around the larger’s obvious advantages.
Finally, Jerry landed a solid punch, bloodying the Bear’s nose, fully intending to stumble the bear by hitting their ‘weak’ spots. In fact, it was the first solid punch landed since they started their sparring. However, Jerry had been suspended in the air a tad too long and found himself swatted like a salt-pack, flailing head over heels out of the ring they were in and unto a padded floor.
Oh, it was supposed to be padded, yet it felt like cement to Jerry when he hit.
“Enough yeah?” The Bear offered, they wiped their nose with a paw as they loomed over the ropes of the ring to the panting form of Jerry. For a second, Bron worried that they hit the poor, frail-looking Fox too hard.
“Enough Bah! You’re the one with the extra help with the identical bastard twin. I’ll get back in once the room stops spinning. And my brain turns back around,” Jerry grumbled into the mat.
“Spirit I see, and tough. Good, good, we can whip you back in shape yet, yes?” Bron grinned down at Jerry, who managed to stand up, stumble, then righted himself.
“Fuck that, if I had that SAS or my blades, you’d be dead by now,”
“Do not be so sure,” Bron replied, reaching down to help Jerry up and into the Ring.
“I’m sure, as sure as you’re some kind of ComBOT, you got metal underneath that fur,” Jerry huffed, shaking the fist that contacted Bron’s nose.
The bear laughed a bellowing laugh, “Come, my friend, hit me again like that and we can say you are fi-,”
"-Control to MARS4, report to the briefing room at once, Bron, you are needed back in the Tavern.”
They both started at the sound of Control’s voice, they have not heard from her all day yesterday, and now she was here like she never left.
And Control was issuing orders, not asking, which was a bad sign in both their books.
Jerry, despite having some issues trying to walk straight the first fifty feet or so, rushed to the room with the holographic table. He got to know this floor well since the other floors were closed off and sealed for some reason or another. The base was bigger than what the Program needed apparently.
Jerry entered the room, Jeebs quickly abandoning their spot on the same side of the table to find another on the opposite end. Jerry glared at the Red SWATbot, then shifted his gaze down towards the Holographic map the table projected.
“What’s going on Control?”
"Standby,” Control blurted, and Jerry grounded his teeth as he forced himself into being patient. He needed to fall into that routine of obeying orders again, despite presenting some obvious change in the style of leadership he had been used to. Add the fact he was no longer serving the King directly-
-Margaret rushed in, coming from the Tavern. Jerry turned to her and losing his train of thought.
“What’s going on?” Mags demanded as she looked at Jeebs and Jerry. Both of them shrugged.
“Control?” The Sparrow questioned, concern in her voice.
"Standby,” Control responded curtly.k
The Map on the table had projected the image of Traitor’s Gulch, with the real-time image of the Battleship marked with the House of Ivo markings. Now it was scrolling madly across the terrain of an island, moving at a pace that Jerry could not keep up.
"Standby,” Control repeated a third time, now a red dot blinked weakly at the base of a volcano.
"Registered, MARS3 Omega beacon onli-,” she started, and the dot winked out abruptly “-Omega beacon offline, standby,"
“Verlos?” Margaret questioned excitedly.
“Who?” Jerry asked though he could figure it was this MARS3 they had lost contact with before Margaret explained it to him again.
Control’s voice once more repeated herself before announcing softly, ”I’ve found him.”
Everyone, even Jeebs leaned over the table to stare at the image.
"This island is not on any map database, however, energy signatures and communications traffic suggest a Legionnaire presence, odds are a light garrison."
“What is MARS3 doing there?” Jerry asked, inspecting the island as thoroughly as he could.
Mags repeated herself from the first time mentioning MARS3. “He was sent to investigate Reconnaissance Drones dispatched from the Primary Objective, he never communicated any information after three hours into the mission, tracking of the Reconnaissance Drones were lost over the Mountains.”
“Looks like you found the Drones,” Jerry noted with a nod.
Control’s voice picked up in volume as if she was excited all of a sudden, ”Re-establishing Communications Uplink,"
The holographic map immediately changed to a blurry, static-ridden image of vegetation,
"Thank the Gods," came a tired, worn-out voice, ”MARS3 reporting."
Margaret shuddered at the voice, muttering her own thanks to the Gods.
Jeebs leaned forward, offering up a “Good to hear your voice MARS3,”
"Good to hear your own, friend,” the tired Mobian replied, ”I’ve MARS1′s report ready, but we better make it fast, the Legion has some sort of jamming device, sabotaged it about an hour ago,”
"Control to MARS3, MARS1 is KIA. He could not wait,”
There was silence on the other end. It took them a few moments, but they finally composed himself to reply ”That brave old fool."
More silence and MARS3 sighed, more out of exhaustion than regret.
"Recon Drones landed here, I hitched a ride on one, ditched when I got a chance but one of them got me pretty good in the leg with something stronger than a laser. Legion and the Drones got into an open fight deeper in the jungle, they don’t like each other apparently."
Voices were heard in the background of the static.
"Captured, don’t know how long I’ve been in their cells, managed to escape. Spent a while stalking around this island avoiding patrols and hitting them where I can. I do not think they will capture me alive again. When I sabotaged their jamming device, I detonated explosives on their communications array, and maybe wounded a few of their compatriots," they paused to catch their breath. ”If they bother to take me again, they might put up to a wall and shoot me,”
“How long will it take me to get there?” Jerry asked, looking towards the Camera, more-so to Control.
“We can have an exfiltration in route in ten minutes, you can get there in four hours,” Jeebs answered instead, and Jerry twitched. However, he did not snap at the Machine for answering faster.
"Who is that? My replacement?" MARS3 questioned curiously.
“MARS4,” Jerry replied matter of factly. “I’m coming to get you,”
"Don’t friend, I’m spent, ancestors be praised I managed to talk to a friendly voice before the end,”
"Negative.” Control spoke up sternly, ”MARS4 prep for retrieval, I do believe you have experience in this. MARS3, you are to hide as best you can, if you are found, surrender, MARS4 will come and get you,”
"And if I am executed?" MARS3 asked grimly.
"Then we retrieve your body, or your ashes, you are coming home.”
Jerry started moving before he was being ordered to, heading straight to the armory as MARS3 grudgingly accepted their orders and signed off.
Margaret was following Jerry. They said nothing to each other as Jerry pulled on his green vested armor, then a pair of pants. Typically Mobians did not need to wear clothing due to their generous layer of fur or feathers, but the Fox wore them for the pockets and extra pouches.
The Old Sparrow passed him magazines, grenades, the SAS-G, and his sabers, helping him get things arranged so he could move comfortably. Mags then passed him a pack, it was a single strap duffle of canvas material, field green, and no markings.
“Medical supplies as well as some explosives in case you need to plant them,” Mags offered, and Jerry slung on the pack and felt the weight of it.
Heavy. This will weigh him down more than anything.
“Hangar?” Jerry demanded, and as he followed after Mags, she reached out to pluck up an odd-looking gun, something they called a revolver. They headed for the lift that would take them upward from the armory and towards a level where Medical, a Food Court of some kind, and the Hangar would be located.
On the way up, Jerry tugged out a faded black bandana from the pocket of the blue sweater he wore underneath. It took Jerry some effort since the pocket was beneath his armor, but once it was free the Fox fashioned it expertly on his head, pushing the loose strands of hair from his face.
“Wade used to wear the same thing,” Margaret commented as she watched him.
“Stole it from him, started wearing it when he retired,” Jerry admitted quietly, “I miss his-”
“-And this experience of yours?” Margaret asked, changing the subject almost immediately. The old Bird did not want to think about missing her husband, not when she needed a clear head.
“Ask me later,” Jerry frowned, his expression held a brief instant of pain before that mask of indifference he wore molded itself over his face. Mags noted it, then nodded as she let it drop.
Both wanting to keep their minds on the mission at hand. Neither of them wanted to dwell on old wounds.
The ship she brought him to was a hover transport used by G.U.N. which made Jerry uneasy of this connection between a Human Organization and the one he had volunteered himself into.
It was not the technology that bothered him.
That ship meant to him that MARS had connections with G.U.N. That meant dealing with Humans. And Humans were the same as Overlanders as far as Jerry had been concerned.
Gods he hated Overlanders.
What made Jerry’s day even ‘better’ more-ever, was Jeebs standing just inside a side hatch and a small boarding ramp. When the Fox got close, the SWATbot retreated to the cockpit.
“Overlander-Shit,” Jerry cursed, looking to Mags with disgust, “Does he HAVE to be my pilot?”
“Mine too,” Mags commented, getting on board ahead of the Fox.
Jerry was about to argue, but since Control was not objecting, why should he? The Fox climbed aboard, grunting at the extra weight he lugged with him, wondering vaguely if he’d ever get used to it.
“Oi, you freak of nature wrapped in sheet metal and copper tubing,” MARS4 called towards the cockpit.
“ETA is four hours right?” Jerry continued when all that got him had been silence.
“Yes sir,” the SWATbot replied in its polite, melodramatic voice.
“Whatever it takes, ” Jerry said, inspecting the newest addition to the gear he was getting. Margaret passed him a funky looking device that looked like a half a pair of glasses and a microphone.
“Get us there in three.”
To say Jerry was eager to fight was something of an understatement.
They offered Jerry little more than a chance to partake in a one Mobian Suicide mission, and he took it with minimal fuss.
And now here he was, being dispatched on an official search and rescue. His ‘specialty’ Control had called it. She knew a lot, and the unsettling sensation was thrown out the window even as Jeebs set the Transport down.
The SWATbot pilot had done exactly what Jerry had ordered, and it blew out an engine getting here. Being on the outside of this jamming device, Margaret coordinated with Control on the repairs, Jeebs stood watch, and where was Jerry?
Jerry did not wait. He could not wait. As soon as was given the general direction of where Verlos would be the newest MAR Specialist dove headfirst into the brush without giving them a goodbye.
The ‘communications’ device MARS4 wore static out once he was a good twelve feet into the jungle. He turned it off and ignored it.
Jerry had something else to focus on. Something else to drive him.
Maybe his ‘experience’ had been why Control was so easy to expend resources to rescue ‘expandable’ personnel. The smart thing to have done before such a major operation would have let MARS3 die. Sending Jerry was risky and foolish. Now the Fox had a newfound respect for Control, considering Jerry liked risky and foolish.
Jerry was as silent and as stealthy as he possibly could manage. Though with a bright blue sweater beneath a light green laser-proof vest, he stuck out like a sore-thumb out in the open. And his fur? A shade brighter than blood red, which still was not going to help him too much if someone got a good view of him.
On the way to the island, Control had rattled off the possible cybernetic enhancements, including ocular and strength boosters, then listed reasons to avoid a direct confrontation and to withdraw if he needed to. Withdraw? Retreat? In the face of the Enemy?
For someone who had detailed records, Control did not know Jerry altogether that well. Regardless, Jerry avoided two patrols like a good little Soldier, trying to keep his distance though the urge to test his steel against them had been oh-so-tempting. One had come so close that Jerry could have reached down from his hiding spot in the branches above them and maybe slit a few throats before they knew he was there.
But he had to wait. Just wait. Rescue first, and the fight will come to him. Study. Observe. Hunt.
The Legion was a collection of Nations that sought the same Power as the Eggman Empire and threw their lot in with the psychotic of a Robotnik. The Legion were separated into different Chapters, mostly keeping to the same species, and sometimes fought against the other rival Chapters just as openly as they did everyone else. There had been two kinds, the Legionized, and those who volunteered called Centurions. Legionized were conscripts with explosive implants injected into the base of their necks. They were given the very basic equipment, such as spears and swords until they were fully indoctrinated into the Chapter. The Centurions were normally enhanced with the Cybernetics Jerry had been warned about, bore laser rifles, and wore armored robes with hoods,
The Legion here were Centurions alright. Though their armor matched the greenery, the robes were royal purple, and though Jerry could see the hilt of a gladius at their hips, they all had rifles in hand, but not shouldered.
They were being sloppy. Jerry was almost offended.
The Centurions were still looking for a wounded MARS3 with the way they kept their ‘enhanced’ eyes scanning the ground. Jerry listened with little interest to some of their conversations, picking out power-hungry egomaniacs, others thinking about family or how the initiates were looking good this year.
Jerry kept moving, creeping, keeping vegetation and trees between himself and their ‘enhancements’. Shifting through the canopy when he could, moving from bush to bush, tree to tree, little more than a shadow despite the glaring difference in color schemes.
Everything had been going smoothly, up until the third patrol.
“I’ve got movement again,” one of them announced, looking down at some sort of handheld device they grasped in both gloved hands.
Jerry’s ears perked and he stared at them from his perch in the trees. What was this about the movement?
“That thing has to be malfunctioning,” another hissed in agitation, the billed Mobian snatching the device away.
“No sir, it’s registering seven signatures,” the original speaker snatched the device back. “There’s only six of us here, it’s right on top of us,”
That was not Jerry, he was still some distance off. Looking upward, above them, Jerry could not see anything, but that had to be MARS3.
Jerry quietly moved out of the tree, trying not to disturb the underbrush as he unslung the bag he carried to take a look at a map on a thin little pad, confirming the location before stuffing it back inside.
“See? There it is again.”
Whatever was going on, Jerry had to close in on them and get their attention away from MARS3. There was only one way to do that.
Jerry grinned fiercely.
“Control?” Mags asked as she lay on the floor of their ship, trying to do a two-handed job with one mechanical arm. Mags would not admit it, but it would have been easier if she had smaller fingers.
“You said that this sort of mission was in Jerry’s experience,” Mags finally yanked a circuit board that needed to be removed then tossed it over her shoulder. This prompted Mags to scowl slightly at oil-covered fingers, the Sparrow, though physically fit, was not used to playing Mechanic.
"I did,” Control commented through a communicator Mags but said nothing else.
“So? What did he do that warrants this as his first Mission, he doesn’t seem keen on talking about it,”
"Next, you have to go to the engines and connect a bypass, that way you won’t have to worry about the emergency shutdown board not being detected,” Control instructed, obviously distracted.
Mags nodded as she stood, fruitlessly wiping her fingers on her shins.
“I take it you don’t know details?” the Sparrow asked as she stepped down the ramp, patting Jeebs on their metal shoulder as she moved towards the engine compartment.
Another long, silent pause before the ever-steady voice of Control finally answered her question.
"Jerry Tyson was a Healer for the Royal Army at the Second Battle of High-Low Tower. When the Royal Army was defeated by the Overlanders, he attempted to rescue a wounded infantry officer and several others from Overlander captivity,”
“Attempted?” Margaret asked, not liking how that sounded.
"He failed," Control said, and their tone did not change, there was a good chance she was reading this from a sort of file.
"They detected Jerry’s presence before he could rescue them, and managed to keep him away before they moved the prisoners deeper into their territory, "
Margaret’s eyes widened, “How is failing THAT helping him NOW?”
"A Camp of Heavily Armed Overlanders managed to keep Jerry away," Control repeated emotionlessly, ”Not capture or kill him,”
Their collective eyes turned upward, looking in the branches above them as the Legion Patrol continued to argue amongst themselves.
“I don’t see anything,”
“I’m telling you there’s something there,” the Centurion with the device continued to defend the piece of technology, glancing down and up. “It’s gotta be something with mass to set off this thing,”
“Well I say the thing is broken, I don’t see nothing,” another growled.
“Hered, do you see something?” spoke a yet another Centurion.
The one named Hered did not reply.
“Hered? Where’d you go?”
Laser Rifles quickly became shouldered as a rustling in the brush drew their attention to their left. A few tense seconds later out walked their missing companion from an evergreen wall of leaves of head high underbrush.
“What?” the one named Hered asked, perplexed at all their glaring, “I had to take a leak,”
“We’re out here looking for a sly little Wolf, and you’re out wandering around on your own,” Chastised their apparent leader,
“Get over here and start looking for the trees,” they all started to relax. Their guard lowered for a moment.
More rustling and something dropping into the tall grass brought their attention back to where their comrade had stood.
Then they watched Hered fell unceremoniously to the side, missing everything above their shoulders.
Shock had been the first reaction, then the Centurions drew themselves into a tight circle. The one with the device pointing towards Hered’s body as another made a call for backup.
“Where did that come from?!” their leader demanded sharply, “Did anyone see what got him?”
“No, no new cont-wait! There! Over there!” the device wielder pointed and even unslung their Laser Rifle to fire with the group just to the right of where Hered had been beheaded.
After setting the nearby brush on fire, they slowly closed in on the area their comrade had indicated. All the could see was a growing pillar of smoke and flames licking at vegetation.
“I don’t see a body,”
“There was movement over there I swear!”
“Well, it’s not-BEHIND-” the leader started as they turned around, but they never got the warning off in time.
Someone stood behind the Centurion with the tracking device, the curved point of a saber protruding through their robes that adorned their armor the very instant the leader took note. For a moment, the others of the Legion froze, the sight bewildering and brutal even for them.
While their minds contemplated what they saw, the other hand of this assailant produced an odd-looking rifle, wherein they fired one round from a large barrel beneath the first.
Right before the impaled Centurion’s eyes, three of their comrades were torn to shreds by an explosive grenade. A fourth fired a wild shot of crimson energy, the concussion throwing them off their armored feet. A quick adjustment from their attacker followed by a bark from that gun silenced the last of the Centurion’s comrades forever.
A violent jerk and last of the Legion standing were forced to turn on their feet. The implants of their body working overtime to stem the pain that shot through their almost rigid frame. The last image prior to the long dark had been a pair of predatory gold eyes, then a flash of silver beneath their bill.
Jerry was not impressed.
He had distracted them with a thrown bag, deducing the device tracked the motion of sufficient mass, gods know HOW, but he guessed right. Then MARS4 rounded behind them as they fired, using auditory exclusion he had been lectured about when using a firearm.
When they realized they were flanked, they took too long to react where any one of them with these ‘enhancements’ Jerry had been warned of, could have easily shot out his eye or something.
Maybe they did not have the enhanced eyesight Control had harked about? Or that strength. Or they just were not trained to deal with a squadmate being a body shield. Maybe they would have shot their comrade to get at Jerry if he had let them think a split second longer? Who knows, but they did not need to have super-hearing to have heard that detonation, nor super-sight to see the smoke.
“Here,” came a weak reply from above, then Jerry could see the slow movements of a Wolf, holding themselves up with one arm. Jerry moved to catch him, grunting as they both went to a knee.
“Little my ass,” the Fox snorted. The Wolf stood a good half a foot taller than Jerry, their fur was a-typical wolf gray, and their hair black with feathers decorating a braided topknot.
They were also heavy.
“Can you walk?” Jerry asked, looking around the Jungle, “Because we got to move, think one of them said something to their buds and they sure as hells heard all of that,”
MARS3 shook their head doggedly, “Tired, leg hurts, arm broken.”
Jerry growled, straining to stand up and forcing the larger Mobian to their feet.
“Let’s get your mind on something else. Like a nice bed, cool shower, Control?” Jerry had turned on his communications again and asked for his ‘superior’ yet got no response.
“Jamming went back online,” the Wolf stated the obvious.
“I know, just hoping she could make it through,” Jerry said as he looked around again.
“You’ve been here all week, there a cave or a ditch or something?” the Fox inquired, hearing shouts coming in from the direction he had taken to get here.
“Close, can’t stay there, though, they know about it.”
It was not close as the Wolf promised, and Jerry was thankful to let the Wolf settle down inside a hollowed out tree trunk after seven minutes of nearly half dragging the male there. Jerry was tough, but he was not some strong-armed-mobian who could carry all that combined weight without panting for air.
Shifting through the duffel Jerry had recovered, he found ‘easy to read’ instructions on the Medical Kit Margaret had packed for him. Jerry needed it, it was a long time since he used bandages and needles.
As Jerry splinted then wrapped the Wolf’s arm, who had introduced himself as Verlos somewhere in the dragging, Jerry remembered quite vaguely of doing this once before.
The Fox then caught movement out of the corner of his eye.
Jerry glanced towards the direction and noted more wounded had been carried into the Tent. Gunshot wounds to the chest, the holes in their blue uniforms dotted with a disturbingly familiar dark red colored pin-pricks.
The smell of burnt ozone and meat filled Jerry’s nostrils, making his fur stand on end and his stomach uneasy. The noise of Overlander Weapons’ Fire mixed eerily with the sounds of steel ringing, punctuated by the calls of the dying in the distance made Jerry quiver in fright.
Another quick look around himself, however, and the young Healer’s Aide became determined. Jerry was here to serve, just like his Father before him.
The Young Fox swallowed his fear and concentrated on finishing his task.
First, he would get this Hound’s crushed arm bandaged and prepped for the Healer, a Bright Yellow Avian, a Duck, Jerry could not remember their name. Then he would move on to the next Infantryman, and then the next.
Jerry may not be old enough to be a swordsman yet, but he will not fail in his task because of his blubbering.
After he injected the pain-killers into the bicep of the Hound, Jerry turned round to stand, looking to tend to the next wounded Soldier of the Royal Army. The Young Fox was expecting to see a row of cots, occupied by those brave souls who had charged the enemy headlong for Honor and Glory of the Kingdom of Acorn.
Instead, Jerry was confronted with wet looking bark.
Confused, MARS4 looked around once more, unsure of the sudden change of scenery before gnashing his teeth and closing his eyes hard.
The Second Battle of High-Low Tower. Before the Healers were forced to flee with what wounded they could carry, and even then there were not many who lived after their tender mercies.
Before Ronson and several of their Command staff were surrounded as they covered the Healer’s escape.
Before Ronson had been dragged back in bonds towards the Ruins of the Tower.
Before Jerry failed to save them.
“What’s the matter?” Verlos asked weakly, “Legion?”
“No, don’t worry about it,” the Fox turned around again, his tail flicking in annoyance. Jerry picked up his rifle and shouldered it, “Tell me what you can.”
And the Wolf did, giving their new-found comrade as much detail as they could, describing the tower and the base as best as their drugged memory could remember.
Then Verlos went silent when Jerry took his eyes off of them for just a moment, falling into a deep sleep. The Fox checked Verlos’ pulse, it was weak, they needed to get to that medical bay they had back at base. But Jerry could not carry this guy to the ship, and then again, they knew about this hiding place, they could stumble onto a defenseless MARS3 while Jerry went back to Mags to get the ship to come closer.
There was just one thing to do then.
Jerry had experience in this sort of thing. Alone, cut off from rescue, surrounded by superior numbers by superior ‘soldiers’, it was High-Low Tower all over again.
This time, however, he was older, more experienced, skilled and with far superior equipment.
This time, the prisoner was in his care, and he had no qualms in killing outright.
Jerry had everything he could want in order to do these new set objectives. Attack the Enemy, Destroy the Jamming Device and then get off this island.
With a confident gait in his step, the Fox walked straight into the Jungle as he lit his first cigarette in the last four days.
“Right,” Jerry offered the brush around him a cold smile, “Round two.”