2007-07-28: Among Thy Saints


Sal_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif

Summary: He who sheds Man's blood, by Man shall his blood be shed.

Date It Happened: May 11th, 2008

Log Title Among Thy Saints

Location Somewhere in war-torn NYC.

"You did good today, boys. You did real good."

Jack twists an unfiltered cigarette between his lips and lights it with a stick match. He inhales deeply, savoring the feel of smoke in his lungs and the taste of victory. He and his squad are huddled in the concrete hulk of a half-caved in pawn shop. The Irishman moves from trooper to trooper, giving out cigarettes, prideful shoulder-squeezes, and quiet words of approval. "I caught you workin' that SAW, Vokkidas. What are you tryin' to be, a hero?" He grins crookedly and moves on. "Masterson, that was quick thinkin' thinkin' on the sticky bomb. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were buckin' for my job."

When he's finished, Jack turns his back to his team and heaves out a pent-up sigh. He crosses to lean against the concrete wall next to Sal, his second in command and the only other seasoned soldier in the unit. "Man. Did we ever get lucky today," he whispers. "When Vokkidas started up on the SAW, I got so nervous you couldn't have fit a jellybean up my ass with a jackhammer."

Sal is working on lighting up by the time Jack strolls around, lifting his gaze to him briefly before continually flicking the near-dead lighter, swearing under his breath. Finally, he gets a flame, cupping his tattooed hand protectively around it, head ducking to touch cigarette to fire. That comment of Jack's gets a short grunt of laughter from Sal, a puff of smoke accompanying it. "Thank god he did, though," he says, with a quick shrug as he leans back against the wall. "I mean it, we only do good when teamed with crazy fuckers just like us."

"Ain't that the truth?" Jack replies with a laugh. He's still chuckling when a bullet smashes through one of the few remaining panes of glass in the ruined pawn shop and neatly clips his cigarette in half. "We're under attack!" he shouts hoarsely.

No matter how green a soldier is, he knows exactly what to do when he hears this particular warning. Hit the deck. As one, the squad flattens against the floor and scoots into the protective shelter of the concrete walls. All but Vokkidas, who panicks. Rather than freeze, the boy pushes the barrel of his SAW through the window and rattles machine gun rounds off impotently. All it does it make him a clearer target. Another bullet hits him just under the chin. He drops his weapon and goes down choking on his own blood.

"Jesus!" Jack shouts. "Masterson, get that SAW up, west window! Fire team B, north window! Sal, you're with me!" The stalwart bartender takes up position next to the remaining window on the east wall, which is substantially larger than others. Outside the building, enemy troops are slowly advancing on the pawn shop. They easily outnumber Jack's team three to one, and are just as well armed.

As much work as was put into that cigarette, it falls from Sal's hands as soon as Jack's order is yelled, moving with the rest of the pack as if it were second nature. His back slams against the east wall, just beside the window, and he shoulders around his own weapon, an assault rifle that is probably designed specifically for the military. Well if this isn't a full out war, Sal doesn't know what the fuck is. "Any sign of— ?" Sal starts to ask, but the ensuing gunfire drowns out his words. He tenses, waits, then angles his gun out the window, firing off a mess of bullets before finding cover again. "Powers?" There's really, really only one thing the man can mean by that.

"What're you waitin' on, ladies? A formal invite? Return fire, steady as you please!" Following Sal's example, Jack props his rifle against the windowsill and starts picking out targets. Between them, they immediately level three soldiers and give the rest approaching from the east a reason to pause.

Masterson is aquitting himself nicely with the SAW, despite the fact he's got to aim the cumbersome machine gun and guide the belted ammo in simultaneously. Fire team B is holding their own, at least for the moment. Troopers Robinson and Albrecht are taking turns firing through the north window, though they both look appropriately terrified.

The query about powers pulls a wince from Jack. He's about to give a gratefully negative response when a decidedly unnatural-looking purple beam smashes out a meter-wide section of the wall, spattering both men with dust and debris. "Shit! Shit! That answer your question, boy-o?"

"You've gotta be fucking kidding me," Sal says, eyes widening when he sees— he's not even really sure what that was, but now there's a big damn hole in the wall, the one he's attempting to hide behind. No longer trusting brick and wood to offer him protection, Sal crouches right down, shaking his head to clear his face and hair of dust. He risks a peek out, fires off a few careful shots, before hiding once more. "We get to the south door," he offers over the noise when Jack takes his turn to return fire, "that's off the street. Sooner they dunno where we are the better, amigo." That's code for: I think we're somewhat out numbered.

"Agreed!" A bullet zings in a little too close and ricochets off the barrel of Jack's rifle, cracking it and rendering the weapon useless. With a disgusted grunt, he heaves it out the window in the general direction of the enemy. "I liked that gun, you fuckers!" He draws his sidearm and gets back to blam-blam-blamming, albeit a little less effectively. "Squaddies! Ante up! Hail Mary on one, then we get the fuck outta dodge." he barks.

This is another command Jack's team is familiar with. One by one, they toss their grenades and demolition charges toward the Irishman until a respectable pile of explosives starts to form at his feet.

A second crackling, intensely purple beam of energy sears through the wall, barely grazing Masterson's shoulder in passing and providing another swiss-cheese hole for enemy troops to fire through. The gunner cries out as his uniform burns away and his skin begins to blacken from neck to elbow, but he doesn't stop firing.

The beam of energy sears through, Sal jerking his head away from it, wincing. At a crouch, his back is pressed to the ruined wall, he impatiently reloads his weapon in aggravated but efficient movements. "This fucking fairy beam shit is getting old," he growls, but if anyone knows him at all, there is some enjoyment to be had from the challenge. He smoothly turns, firing once the gun is prepared and trying to pick out exactly who is wrecking the building, but to him, they all got guns. "Fuck this." Bail time! He catches sight, however, of Masterson's injury - endurable, but Sal doesn't trust burns like that, and he reaches to grab a fistful of the makeshift-soldier's shirt, urging him along.

Jack re-holsters his sidearm and bends to scoop up a pair of grenades from the pile. "Okay, maggots! Form up on Sal. He'll take the point while I cover your retreat." To Sal he murmurs, "Take 'em straight south. I'll be right behind you."

As instructed, the squad falls back from defensive positions follows Sal out the door in the south wall, though Masterson grumbles out something about still having one good arm and plenty of ammo before he's dragged along as well.

Jack stands and grins viciously as he flips the safety clips from both grenades and uses his ability to relocate them squarely into the middle of the assembled troops. They explode with a hearty BOOM-BOOM, pulverizing men and equipment with the same casual ease. In quick succession, a series of explosives are primed and sent out. By the time he's depleted his supply, the enemy forces have been thinned substantially.

The ones out front, anyway.

It was a good theory. The roads are the most dangerous places in the city and you can get by if you know how to stay off the big ones, and that's where Sal leads them. Leaping over ruin and rubble, he charges out with their squad into a broken up alleyway, veering towards the side street at a run. He knows there's no guarantee for safety, hence his rifle is still comfortable in his hand, against his arm, but that doesn't mean he's not confident that they're heading in the right direction. Fluke or ambush? Sal hears the engine, then hears the gunfire, and with a lurching halt, a car mounted with an automatic starts up a chase from where it was parked, waiting, bullets piercing through the air at random, causing every man to duck their heads.

Okay, new plan. Sal turns his gun to a wooden door attached to a mostly intact building - hell, probably still inhabited, but he's beyond caring. He fires off enough bullets until it swings open, lock blown to uselessness. "Go!" he barks, and obediently, they rush into the safety of the complex, a few men firing off their weapons as they can but the priority is to get out of dodge. Sal flattens himself against the outside wall, lifting his rifle, and fires, providing cover as the last few get inside. A quick series of shots, and the enemy manning the mounted gun suddenly tumbles off the vehicle, dead before he hits the road.


But it only takes one bullet, and with an angry cry, the driver aims a pistol out the window and fires. Sal feels the impact of the wall behind him more so than he feels the bullet pass through his body. In shock, he wraps an arm around himself as the car drives by, last on the street. With a stagger, he tries to make it for the door.

Now that he's earned himself a bit of breathing room, Jack approaches Vokkidas's body and gently closes the soldier's terrified and surprised eyes. In death he looks even younger than the nineteen year old he'd claimed to be. "I'll be back for you, kid. You can bet on that."

Like a ghost, he's gone before any of the surviving enemies can draw a bead on him.

It takes Jack a moment to catch up with the rest of the squad. He doesn't see Sal get hit. Just the aftermath. Wordlessly, he sprints to his lieutenant's side and supports him on his way into the building.

Sal takes the help gratefully, a hand bunching in Jack's shirt as they retreat inside. It can't be that bad. His legs are still going, even if Jack is helping propel him forward. A graze of a bullet that might put him out of action for a coupla days but he got everyone inside and that's the main thi— Sal trips over his own feet, falling hard onto his knees and giving a groan, sharp pain somewhere in his midsection giving him grief. He can feel the tear of skin more so than the deeper, warmer damage, at least at first. "It's cool," Sal says breathlessly, levering himself back up to his feet. "I'm good." His hand stretches out to balance himself against a wall, now exposing the blood seeped into his dark shirt. "Where to now, boss."

Instantly, Jack is back under Sal's arm, urging it around his shoulders so he can lower the tattoo artist to the deck. With a quick jerk, he rips open the bloody shirt to expose the wound for inspection. "Form a perimeter," he orders Robinson, Albrecht, and Masterson. "You're lookin' at home sweet home."

"Hey," he says to Sal. "You're right, man. This ain't so bad. I've cut myself worse tryin' to shave with a hangover." The lie comes easily. His strong palms press down against the bullet hole, attempting to staunch the flow of blood.

He feels like he should be doing something. Checking the level, securing the entrances, checking his companions to see if they're hurt - all those habits the war has forced him to pick up, that everyone else is doing except him. Instinctively, Sal moves to pick himself up, but his body has other ideas, especially as Jack's hands clamp down over the wound, drawing a hiss of pain from the Latino. "Please," he says, with a breathless laugh. "You never fucking shave, what the hell're you talking about." He winces. "Oh Jesus." Sal turns his head, looking towards those in the vicinity. "Who'd we lose."

Jack's jaw quivers. No matter how hard he pushes, the blood just keeps coming. "Don't worry about it, man," he murmurs reassuringly. "You did great back there. We're gonna get you patched up and back home in time for that boxing match we were talkin' about. You'll see."

Robinson approaches slowly and unassumingly, coming in from the side. "We're clear," he whispers, then retreats.

Jack doesn't hear him. He's had a flash of insight and torn off his shirt to use as an impromptu bandage. "…and I'll even shave if he wins," he finishes, still doing his best to distract Sal.

Jack's not the only one with sudden insight. Sal focuses on him as he speaks, watches distantly as fabric is applied to soak up blood. His blood. There's too much of it on the outside of him, that's for sure, draining away and making him dizzy, which at the very least, steals attention from the sheer pain. He abruptly begins to cough, as if he'd inhaled water, but he can taste blood at the back of his mouth and can figure it out from there.

"Jack," he says, voice strained, a hand coming up now to grip his friend's arm. His gaze slips to his own arm, where ink begins on his knuckles, on the back of his hand, covering his arms and disappearing up a rolled up sleeve, and all the images seem to be blending together. His chest exposed, 'Los Mochis' can be read, a hometown he never desired to go back to, and the words, 'Trust No One', not a statement he can say he agrees with anymore. There's an important lesson! At least he got one in. "We gave 'em hell, didn't we?" An easy smile, head relaxing back against the floor, listening to footsteps, gunfire likely blocks away. "You gotta keep it up, man."

"We did, Sally. I promise I won't ever give up." They're well beyond the point where bandages will make any difference. Jack flings his now-soaked shirt aside and instead clasps one of Sal's hands in both of his. No more lies. They're both soldiers, and soliders should tell and hear the truth. Raggedly, he replies, "It was an honor to share the field of battle with you."

His other hand comes around to clasp over Jack's, squeezing. Sal doesn't want to waste his breath on apologies he knows Jack won't really accept, apology that he didn't last through this 'til the end. That he can't be there to take over leadership when necessary. It has to go assumed. He turns his head, lungs once more trying to clear themselves of blood, but his grip doesn't slacken until he can meet Jack's gaze again, as hazy as it is by now. "I'd do it again," he says, with a flicker of a smile before it fades. After a moment, the only thing that changes is the slackening of his hands, fingers loosening, arms lax, and finally, the focus goes from his eyes.

"Saints of God, come to his aid. Come to meet him, angels of the Lord. May Christ, who called you, take you to Himself. May angels lead you to Abraham's side. Give him eternal rest, O Lord, and may your light shine on him forever. All-powerful and merciful God, we commend to you your servant. In your mercy and love, blot out all the sins he has committed through human weakness. In this world he has died. Let him live with you forever."

Jack pauses to suck in a strangled gasp of air. A single tear seeps from the corner of his eye and washes a clean trail through the blood and dirt smeared across his face. "We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."

He comes to his feet and wavers with one hand propped against the wall to balance himself. After a moment, Robinson steadies him and hands him Sal's rifle. Gratefully, the Irishman nods to him and accepts it. He reloads the weapon, then makes eye contact with each of his surviving troopers in turn.

"Let's go kill those motherfuckers."

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