2007-08-19: DF: And All The King's Men


DFCyprus_icon.gif DFJack_icon.gif DFNathanReal_icon.gif

Summary: Because in the end, it's about where your loyalties lie.

Dark Future Date: August 19th, 2009 - Midnight

And All The King's Men

Weischel Carcass House - Packing Room

With a crinkly, plasticky ripping noise, Jack pulls the cellophane off of a brand new deck of playing cards. "Okay," he says, holding them up where Nathan can see them clearly. "This is a fresh deck. I think we'll have better luck with these. Those last ones…" He trails off and glares at a worn, much-loved deck that's been set off to the side. They had been his lucky cards until tonight, when he and Nathan added a third player to their evening game. "I dunno. I don't like your friend. He's too lucky and he wins too damn much."

Jack continues to scowl as he deals out three piles of five cards. One for himself, one for Nathan, and one for Cup, who has a great deal of Jack's money stuffed into his eternally grinning mouth.

Nathan picks up the cards dealt, although angling a glance towards their recent addition to the game. "Don't worry about it," he tells Jack, picking up his smoking cigarette and ashing it out. "They call that beginner's luck, you'll win it back." No. No they aren't crazy. But they virtually live in a meat packing plant. That's really all there is to it. Nathan sticks the cigarette between his teeth, talks around it as he fans out the cards. "What the hell's he gonna spend it on anyway?" Around them fluorescent lights cast shadows and beams of harsh light, and it's eerily silent, save for the buzzing of freezers.

It's not an unusual noise in the night of New York City, especially not since the war. There's is just a faint, repetitive chopping in the background of the evening. At first, it's nothing to pay any attention to. Then, it's finally notably loud enough and steady enough to seem out of place. And then, something happens. There's a pulse of some kind of force, and then the skylight buckles inwards and the glass shatters all at once. It's something sonic, that much is obvious, as several lights burst as well. Then the three black riplines drop into the center of the room, which is now roaring with with formerly muted chopping noise. It's a big black helicopter. With flood lights. And three riplines descending from it to the middle of the plant. This can't be good.

"Good point. His lap's too small for strippers and he doesn't have the nose for blow." Still, Jack doesn't stop glaring at Cup. He picks up his own cards and spreads them out so he can check them. "Man," he grunts. "I don't have—SHIT!" The curse slips out of his mouth when the skylight folds in on itself and fragments. For a moment he just sits and stares at the rapelling ropes, dumbfounded by the sights and sounds. This is it. This isn't his worst nightmare. In his worst nightmare, the rest of his family is here when they come for him.

Jack makes a critical error. All of his hard-fought training and finely honed instincts flatly fail him and he freezes

The cards go flying as Nathan ducks his head instinctively when directly above him, a light seems to explode and rain down shards of glass, arms up to protect himself. None do him any damage, which is possibly the best luck he's had in a long time, and besides, he has rat bites and scratches to compensate. With almost a spasm, he's on his feet, knocking over Cup who goes rolling away, money in mouth and all, like the cowardly sunuvabitch he is. "Jack," Nathan bleats when he sees the ropes come down, and he glances down at his friend, still sitting in shock on the floor. Through the bars, he grips the shoulder of Jack's shirt roughly to haul him up. "Get out of here, go."

And down they come. First two, then a third, all dressed in uniform black combat gear with headsets, kevlar, and goggles. The first two down are carrying the assault rifles, and the third is holding a pistol. As soon as the first two hit the ground, their guns are raised and pointed at Jack. "ON THE GROUND NOW!" comes the shout from the one closer to Jack. He's only a few strides away. And with the lighting as awkward as it is, Jack could probably easily close the gap in an instant. The third one touches down slower than the other two, and sweeps the area with his gaze fast. His objective doesn't seem to be the terrorist. He's moving quickly towards Nathan.

Spurred into action by Nathan's urgency, Jack staggers to his feet, sending cards, coins, and snacks flying. "I'm not gonna leave you here," he growls. A smart man would pick now to take cover. Hell, a stupid man would take cover. Jack is neither. His credentials lie more in the area of being stubborn. He twists his body into an evasive spin and flings both arms in the direction of the nearest rifle-bearing intruder. In response to the gesture, a pair of heavy knives dematerialize from his desk drawer and rematerialize in mid-air, already en route to finding a home in the intruder's groin.

"Oh Jesus," Nathan says, a little helplessly, when Jack flings himself into the fight. His hands grip the bars of the cage door, gives it an angry rattle. Because, you know, he'd be so much help out there. All the same. He doesn't want to watch one of the few friends he has get gunned down while he's stuck in a cage. His gaze snaps towards the other approaching agent. "There's only going to be more," he tells Jack, moving to the side of the cage closest to him, to make him understand that he has to leave.

It would appear that Jack isn't cooperating. Still, the closer of the two riflemen barely has any time to react before catching the knives low in the guts. Kevlar does wonders for bullets, but not so much for knifes. He drops to the ground, screaming in pain. The third figure stops moving towards the Nathan and shouts "Jaspers! Get the President out of there! I'll cover Schmidt!" It's an unmistakable voice, despite the anonymous garb. Cyprus Donovan. Apparently, he's not just the President's desk jockey today. Cyprus turns to face Jack, and seems to focus for a moment before he raises his hand in Jack's direction, and then makes it into a fist. The other rifleman glances a moment at Cyprus, then rushes over to the cattle cage. He doesn't even nod to Nathan before bringing the butt of his rifle down hard on the lock. Once. Twice. Three times.

"More?" Jack queries impishly. "I know that, you jackass! There's never less than a dozen o' the fuckers in one place. The way I see it, I've got 'em outnumbered!" His smile shows mirth that he doesn't feel. Even when he was at his fittest, three to one odds would not be a thrilling prospect. When the second rifleman end-runs around him toward Nathan's enclosure, he lets out a roaring battlecry and throws his body across the room after him. It's an unsubtle attack. Jack drives his shoulder into a kevlar-clad back and smashes the agent between his body and the cage. The impact jars his bones and rattles his teeth, but it's nothing compared to the barrage of sensations that wash over him immediately afterward.

Can't breathe. CAN'T BREATHE. Not only that, Jack feels like he hasn't been able to for much, much longer than is strictly comfortable. He claws at his throat ineffectively and lets out a strangled gasp. When he takes a step forward he almost trips and sprawls on the deck. The floor is taller that it was a minute ago. Or his legs are shorter? He'll figure that out in a second. Right now he has to vomit up some beer, kthx.

The clanging of the rifle against the lock gains Nathan's immediate attention. The first hit sends a spike of panic through him. No damaging his home, his safety net, the thing keeping the Bad Wolf in. No ruining it. But the panic subsides, especially when Jack hurtles himself towards the man… and almost immediately falls back once some damage is done. Cyprus. He earns a sharp glance from Nathan. Shit. He recognises both that voice, and the effects of his power. But Nathan starts when the agent resumes his work against the cage. Fuck that. Fuck that.

He moves quickly towards the door, putting on a limp. "Thank Christ you came," Nathan says, sounding sincere, almost broken with gratitude. It's rather convincing, with the numerous scratches and bruises, the bandaged hand, the apparent limp in his step. "Get me the hell out of here." CLANG. The door swings open from the momentum when the lock finally breaks, and Nathan jerks it open the rest of the way, ready to fall into the arms of his saviour… before attempting to wrestle the rifle away savagely, twisting the weapons in his hands and bringing up an elbow into the face of the agent. Come on, military credentials.

And Cyprus continues to squeeze that fist slowly tighter, the violence occuring in Jack's body and organs keeping up their intensity. Jaspers is slammed into the cage with a bit of a crunch coming from his chest, and he rolls away from Jack and the cage, clutching at his side. Jaspers pulls himself out of Jack's arm's reach just as Jack up ends the contents of his stomach. And then the cage door is forced open and then Nathan is attacking him. The agent might have been able to defend himself were it not for the sudden surprise of just who is attacking him. He goes down with the elbow to the face and Nathan easily pulls the rifle from him.

And when that happens, Cyprus's concentration flickers. The President just punched out one of his own rescue team. This was not according to plan. And then, there's the pained voice of Schmidt from the ground. "Dirty… terrorist!" And he raises his rifle, and fires. But… that's not on a controlled burst. And he's far from steady. The spray goes wide… right towards Nathan.

And Jack moves in the way.

Jack falls to his hands and knees with a sad, low groan. His second spewing of vomit is more blood than vomit. Can't take this for long. Can't keep it up. Through hazily watering eyes, he glares up at his tormentor. When he screams it's not because of pain, but because of frustration. He's almost ready to give up and pass out when he spots the intruder he knifed trying to rise. "NO!"

The Irishman lurches to his feet and shoves Nathan back into the cattle cage just as the sound of gunfire floods the room deafeningly. Still holding his closest friend by the shirtsleeve, he takes a moment to reassure himself that no Presidental flesh was pierced by bullets. It doesn't look like it. "You okay?" he asks. His voice is quiet, though. Distant. Confused. He topples backward on a leg that no longer supports his weight. The low angle and firing position of the rifleman were not advantageous for Jack. The burst of automatic rounds caught him in the back of the right leg, raggedly severing the limb just below the knee.

Blessedly, he fades to a state of partial consciousness as blood rapidly begins to pool beneath his body.

…what. What. What just happened.

Nathan stares at Jack in shock after the sound of bullets fades, a moment of total silence seeming to pass by. Did he just… Jack's question goes unanswered, especially when the younger man stumbles back, his leg— his leg is a mess, blood pooling and Nathan almost slipping in it when he moves to kneel beside him just outside the cage. Need to get them out. Need to get them both out of here. There's always the sky light.

Nathan's head snaps up to where Cyprus is, and he points the rifle, a look of total uncertainty on his face. Then, steely resolve, as he fires off a round of bullets. God bless America (or wherever) for kevlar, though the shots do go a little wild anyway as Nathan wastes no time in abandoning the weapon, grabbing Jack's arm to hook over his shoulders, haul him up. How successful he is… well, Jack is a tall guy, Nathan's had a rough week, and the former is barely conscious. But he's trying, teeth grit together.

With that, Schmidt collapes, bleeding from where the two knives are buried in him. Jaspers groans wetly by the cage. And Cyprus just stands there and stares. Blood. So much blood. Blood, and meat, and bone. He doesn't even move an inch as Jack collapses, or even as Nathan lifts the gun. There's only a moment of recognition, of panic cutting through the horror, as Cyprus manages to get out only a confused "Sir?" before being cut off by the report of automatic weapon fire.

Even with Kevlar, it's point blank range and those are not slow bullets. Cyprus is luckier than he knows that he's not moving. The first three shots slam hard enough into the vest to take him clean off his feet, and knock him to the ground. The rest go wild. At least there's no further obvious signs of bullet wounds in Cyprus's chest, but he seems just too stunned for the moment to do anything at all except lie there in pain.

There's something unique about opening your eyes and seeing your own leg sitting on the floor. Jack knows it's his. It's got to be. It has his one of his boots on. Nearing a half-decade of age and covered with scuffs and scraped of every size, shape, and description, there's no denying that's one of his favorite kicks laced up around one of his favorite legs.


Jack's tough. He's goddamn tough. Every man has his limits, though. Jack's limit is somewhere between nearly barfing up his own lungs and getting one of his legs blown off. Shamelessly, he clings to Nathan and weeps.

If there was ever a time to keep things together… it's right now. Right now, three agents are down, one of which is a man who can send people into convulsions with a thought, and Nathan needs to get his friend to help before he bleeds to death from a severed limb. He doesn't know where the fuck to go, and the idea of flying makes him want to just curl up and not move for a while, but, well, fuck. What choice is left?

"Jack," Nathan states, evenly, as they limp together through the space, Nathan aiming for underneath the sky light. And… they stumble, his grip on Jack slipping. "Jack, you need to stay awake." He was never good at this part, but he tries anyway - and he has a little experience, now, of what one wants to hear when in a great deal of pain. Nathan shakes Jack roughly. "Come on, a little longer, then you can sleep, I promise."

There's a sharp groan from Cyprus, followed by a great deal of coughing. Apparently, the wind was knocked out of him, and its taking him a few moments to catch it back. He gets an arm underneath himself, and pushes onto his side. "Christ Almighty," he chokes out. Yeah, in pain. Not dying, but definitely in pain. He didn't seem to have noticed that the other two haven't made their escape yet, but once he's on his side, he's looking towards Nathan. His face is covered but its not hard to imagine the look of shock and uncertainty on the aide's face right now. But he's not making a move to stop them.

When Jack vomits for the third time he doesn't need any coaxing from anyone. His tightly knotted grip around Nathan's shirt and the support the other man is providing are the only things that are keeping him remotely upright. He moans quietly and his head sags against his chest. Rather than from his voicebox, the sound is a sickly, unhealthy thing that crawls out from somewhere in his belly. His skin has gone deathly pale and a thick sheen of sweat is building up around his forehead and torso. "Jesus, Nate Dogg…" he whimpers. "I'm so sorry."

Beneath the skylight, the ropes from the agents' descent hitting their shoulders, Nathan just tries to keep his grip on Jack. God, flying. Just. "It's okay," he says, and looks up at the sky. It's a source of freedom, of destination and migration, and he can even see the goddamn stars twinkling up there, and it's sickening saccharine. His legs buckle, and Jack is laid out on the floor. "I'm sorry too." And with that, he lets go, and without the limp he'd been playing up, he stalks across the room. A rifle is picked up, and pointed at Cyprus. "Call in medical back up, immediately," Nathan demands.

Cyprus looks up the rifle towards Nathan, and just stares at him for a long moment. And then he's reaching up to the headpiece. "This is Donovan," he says into the radio. "We need immediate medical evac. Repeat, immediate medical evac. Agents down. Over." He lowers his hand slowly, making no sudden movements as long as the gun is trained on him. He just reaches up to pull the goggles and mask from his face. The accusation is obvious. Nathan just shot him. The sound of the helicopter is quickly joined by another one, this time with the sounds of feet landing on the roof. Apparently, Cyprus had the chopper for the medical evacuation prepped.

"My Lord God, even now resignedly and willingly, I accept at Thy hand…" Jack's voice is weak and tremulous like that of a man many times his age. Fading fast from consciousness, he curls into a ball and writhes. The middle of his prayer is lost, but he finds the strength to make the end audible. "… an' sufferins, whatever kind o' death it shall please Thee to be mine. Amen." Stricken, he looks up at Nathan. Nathan told him he had to stay awake, so he knows he has to do it, but he can't. He can't force himself to cope any longer. "M'sorry," he mumbles a final time. Then he closes his eyes and slumps against the dirty concrete.

Nathan keeps the gun steadily trained on Cyprus as he calls in the order, but when the mask is removed, his resolve is shaken. Because once upon a time, they'd known each other, before all of this began, and in a really strange way, he was the only one to stay loyal, at least to his name. But Cyprus also acted as an integral part of an evil government, so, one can see how this might be a conflicted situation for Nathan. The rifle is lowered, and Nathan steps back. "For what it's worth," he says, shakily, "I'm sorry, Cyprus. This must be a hell of a ride."

There's a clatter as the rifle is dropped, and Nathan moves back towards his fallen friend, kneeling down just as the last of that prayer is uttered, Jack's body slackening. Nathan takes his hand, clasping it as comrades might. "Fratelli in armi," he mutters to himself, just as the moonlight above is blotted out by agents descending through the roof.

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