D&BM11: Establishing Guidelines
"For a little guy, you hit damn hard," called a deep voice with traces of something other than French to his words.
Logan looked at the man, seeing a bruise covering his left eye and part of his cheek, his face swollen enough his eye could only open a little. His knuckles were also bruised, and there was something familiar about the man's scent. He had almost a foot of height on Logan, with clothing and posture suggesting military.
"You were one of the soldiers Hudson tossed into the ring?" Logan wished his words weren't half question. Wished he hadn't been so busy fighting the red rage and urge to claw that he could remember everything clearly.
The man nodded, "I was. I'm still not quite sure how you managed to throw Dumond at me, he's bigger than I am."
Wondering if this man or Dumond was the sort to hold grudges, Logan shrugged. "I guess I'm stronger than I look."
"Hudson seemed to think you needed to build your confidence. That doesn't seem quite accurate to me," the bruised man commented.
With a small chuckle, Logan admitted, "I can’t control what Hudson says, and he might even think that's the case. Not what I'd say, but I can't read minds to know what’s going on in his. He also seems like the type to get an idea and hold fast to it until he can’t argue any longer."
"So what would you say about yourself?" the question was soft, low enough that a normal man might not have heard it.
"I'd say that something bad happened to me. My temper's messed up, I can't remember much of my past, and I've got to get to the point where I'm not trying to put anything threat-like down, possibly for good, whenever I get twitchy," Logan sighed, and forced himself to relax, telling himself this man wasn't here to attack. Wasn't a threat. That he didn’t need to fight just now.
"So you don't need confidence in your abilities, but in your control," the other mused. "I'm Jeff Walters, in case you missed the names for all of us when Hudson was sending us to our pain."
"The control needs to be there before I can feel confident about it, and I’m not too sure about that yet." Logan could feel a smile spreading over his face. "To your pain?"
"Nobody died, though I make no promises about wounded egos and pride. Nobody was crippled or permanently dishonored. Nobody's going to have any permanent scars, limps or injuries to the body, it just hurt. A lot more than most would have thought someone your size could dish out, no offense intended. A few have been wondering what Hudson expected, and who he was planning on needing help out of the ring," Walters shook his head. “There wasn’t too much good will between scientists and soldiers before, and Hudson isn’t helping.”
A cold feeling twisted in Logan’s gut at those words. Tension between the scientists and the soldiers could lead to lots of trouble, maybe even the sort that caused men to wind up standing naked in the snow without all of their memories. “Why the tension between scientists and soldiers?”
“How much do you remember about some of the assorted super soldier projects that have been in the papers and history books?” Walters tilted his head, and then muttered, “damn, he just said he had memory gaps and here I go bringing up memories…”
“Not a single practical thing,” Logan paused as he considered the idea. “I think I knew a little before. I’m not getting any details, but it doesn’t feel like a surprise.”
“I’ve got a buddy who’s very fond of history, I’ll ask him to write up a list of some books for you to help re-familiarize yourself with history, especially the last century or so. That’s when most of the stuff trying to bite us in the ass now happened,” Walters offered. “The States have their Captain America, Russia had a few that caused some big problems, and we know Germany and Japan were doing serious research in the area. The scientists and the generals and politicos think this means the face of war is changing, and maybe we should have our own super soldiers. We think that’s another way of saying regular soldiers aren’t good enough.”
“красный Омега,” Logan murmured, remembering ugly dreams with a laughing tall figure with tentacles, in a cold, snowy place. “Ugly Russian bastard. Their Winter Soldier and Black Widows were more normal looking…”
“Should I ask how you know that?” Walters had stopped fidgeting, and looked quite startled.
“I think I used to be a soldier. I can’t remember much of anything, which I suppose is a hell of a way to enforce security classifications. Sometimes I have dreams that I think are bits of memories. Maybe they are, maybe I’m remembering books and movies, maybe I used to be that guy always making up bullshit stories. You saying some of the soldiers want the different people here to become super soldiers?” Logan tried to push back the echoes of maybe-memories but hopefully nightmares.
Walters paused to light a cigarette and shrugged, “Most of them don’t seem to have abilities suited for combat. There’s a girl who talks to squirrels. A kid who can change the color of paint. There’s a few more that the scientists are trying to figure out a way to copy what they do. There’s this kid who’s a twitchy little weed, but when he gets startled, this bubble forms around him and nothing can touch him. Or the guy who can bench press a jeep. Another girl can breathe underwater.”
“Bench pressing a jeep suggests some definite muscle power. Always helps if when you hit the other guy, he goes down and stays down,” Logan commented.
“Probably why another guy I know says some people are trying to locate a girl who kicked in a steel door and caught an arrow some lunatic shot at her. Abilities like that’d be worth bending the rules about women in combat,” Walters agreed.
Logan nodded, though his mind wondered if this girl might be a vampire, like Angel. Or maybe someone had done something to her as well, like someone had meddled with him. Or maybe it was a genuine gift – but then what sort of strings would be hidden behind such a tempting first impression? “Am I going to need to worry about Hudson trying to set up a repeat event? How mad are the rest of the guys?”
“No clue about Hudson, I can never figure out those scientists. I know most of the guys aren’t going to be too pissed, but they might want rematches. The way you tossed us around isn’t good for our pride, after all,” Walters smiled, though it was a bit weak.
“Someone used me in some kind of super soldier program. I can’t remember the details, I’m not sure I want to. Less idea if I had any sort of idea or consent to what happened,” Logan shook his head and raised one fist. Slowly, about three inches of one claw slid out, the metal gleaming and the blood bright in the sunshine. “My bones seem to have metal on them too, seems to make me hit harder, and you don’t want to know what the medic had to say.”
Walters stared at the claw, jaw dropped for several moments as he tried to find words. “I… that’s… holy… how…”
“Apparently so classified I don’t even know,” Logan tried to smile. He doubted he succeeded.
“Work on that temper of yours, and your control. For all our sakes,” Walters managed.
Logan nodded. “I’d appreciate it if you and your buddies can help keep an eye out for stuff like this. I’d like to know what the hell happened to me, and I don’t want it to happen to anybody else. What I do know isn’t pretty.”
“We can do that,” Walters was still staring at the claw.
End part 1.
Sunset found Logan in the local park. It wasn’t very big, compared to the forest where he’d been before they’d seen the Hudsons, but it was greenery and wild animals, was away from all the people. He felt like he could relax a little while he was there, breathe easier and he could feel some of the tension between his shoulders ebb away. The park was too small for any large animals, no deer nibbled at the young leaves, no bears, wolves or puma stalked through the shrubs. About the largest creatures were the rabbits and foxes, though maybe you could make a case for the owl nesting over in the pine tree… Which didn’t make much difference on the park being restful.
“Did anybody get mad about the sparring Hudson organized?” Angel’s voice caught Logan’s attention. The vampire was walking out from a grove of pine trees, looking calmer and more relaxed than usual.
Logan sniffed and then grinned, “Rabbits? How many did that take?”
“Enough that I think I’ve made friends with the local foxes,” Angel sighed. “What about the aftermath of your sparring?”
“I had a talk with one of the soldiers this afternoon. He wasn’t mad at me, said most of the others weren’t either, though I bruised their pride some. There’s apparently some research on how to replicate some of the abilities people have. Not the girl that changes the colors of the flowers, or the kid who can change the flavor of his cereal, but like the kid with the bubble, or the girl who can breathe underwater. Stuff they think would be useful for soldiers,” Logan paused, considering the fragments of maybe-memories, maybe-nightmares that Walters’ words had stirred up in his head. “We had a little chat.”
“What happened?” Angel’s voice suggested he was resisting the urge to make nasty contingency plans.
“I showed him a few inches of claw. Told him I didn’t remember, but didn’t want anything like that happening to anyone else,” Logan tried to smile, “I told him it was so classified I didn’t even know what they’d done to me.”
“Do you think that was wise?” Angel’s voice was soft, as if he was afraid someone would hear them.
“I doubt it. But sooner or later, someone’d find out. Best under my terms rather than damned bad luck, or losing my temper. I asked him if he and his pals could keep their ears open. I can say the claw shocked the hell out of him, scared him some too,” Logan shook his head, and found a tree to lean against. “He’s now fully in favor of me getting a handle on my temper.”
“Thought about what that claw could have done to him if you’d had it out instead of just fists?” Angel’s words weren’t really a question despite his tone.
“There’s too many other people here. I can’t stay truly alone, and they don’t – can’t – know about you,” Logan mused. “I need allies, people I can trust not to stab me in the back, or walk away if I get in trouble. Some of the soldiers might be a good place to start. Another would be the one guy, stinks of magic, they’re just calling him Shaman.”
“Isn’t that what he is?” Angel countered.
“Might be, but I’m pretty sure most people now have a name as well as their title. Most people will help more if you call them what they want to be called,” Logan shook his head. “Just a matter of figuring out what he wants to be known by, and how to say things without it sounding like a mess.”
“It is a mess,” Angel countered.
“Confusing them as much as we are won’t help anything. Though I don’t know how much they can help,” Logan sighed.
“We may never find out everything about what’s already happened. Focusing too much on the past can cause its own problems, Logan. Maybe we should focus more on making sure nothing like it can happen again, or at least not be swept out into the snow the same way,” Angel cautioned, hands stuffed into the pockets of his big coat.
“So, past is gone, focus on tomorrow rather than yesterday?” Logan ran his hands through his hair, “Stuff from yesterday can show up to bite us on the ass.”
“I didn’t say ignore yesterday. Just don’t ignore today in favor of yesterday,” Angel gave a small grin. “And remember, today is tomorrow’s yesterday.”
Logan tackled him.
The resulting wrestling match scattered leaves, and resulted in both of them smudged with dirt, leaves in their hair, and laughing. Anybody who’d seen them might have assumed they were trying to kill each other, with the way they had been flinging each other about, the growls, and the few flashes of sharp teeth and metal claws. But Logan and Angel knew better, they were just playing.
Once they’d stopped laughing and growling at each other, Logan raked the leaves and twigs from his hair. “I think the people at the base aren’t out to cause trouble. I’m hoping I can at least get some of the soldiers to keep an ear open for rumors of problems. And sparring with them should help me work on my temper, on remembering that humans are… that they…”
“That humans are fragile, and how to not break them by accident?” Angel finished.
“A rough plan, but those are the most adaptable ones,” Angel leaned on the ground, watching Logan. “Try talking to the shaman. Magic can do a lot of things, and some of it’s a bit terrifying. Making someone forget everything could be done with magic. Probably a lot more easily than giving a vampire back a conscience.”
“Which means don’t piss him off at me,” Logan decided.
Angel laughed and threw a leaf at him.
End part 2.
In the morning, Logan found Heather Hudson. “Your idea, about the sparring. I’m in.”
For a few moments, she blinked, clearly trying to remember what he was talking about. “Oh, the sparring. Just like that? I thought you had some concerns?”
“I do, and that’s why I want some medical people on standby. At least the first several times, just in case things get ugly. And I’ve still got concerns, but I need to get a grip on my temper sooner or later. Sooner’s better than later, and they have training and a better idea of the risks. How else would I do it, go from bar fight to bar fight? Maybe find one of those cage fighting circuits?” Logan shook his head, “That’d be asking for trouble.”
“I’ll make sure medical is alerted before any sessions, and all the soldiers will be volunteers,” Heather promised.
Logan watched as she left, thinking about everything. Sparring with the soldiers should help him work on getting control over his temper and his habit of hitting too hard. But he couldn’t forget what Walters had said about scientists wanting to replicate the abilities, like the unbreakable bubble, the increased strength, the breathing underwater. Wouldn’t his healing be the sort of thing they’d want to copy? Especially since he knew full well it had kept him looking young or at least not-old for a very long time. That idea bothered him, and he couldn’t just dismiss it as paranoia.
At least once, there had been someone out to get him. And he didn’t need his memories to know that people would want a way to copy his healing. Self-repairing soldiers? Never getting sick? Not getting old? Hadn’t people been looking for a way to do that since forever?
He couldn’t trust the science division, regardless of Heather’s possible charm. He didn’t want to let himself trust the brass in charge of the soldiers, even if he might start trusting some of the fighting men themselves, though not just yet. And he had no intention of letting them know what he suspected, and less of telling anybody about Angel. Angel was his emergency plan if this went to hell. He hoped his friend never had to save him from that, and not just for the fact that he’d like to never be in that sort of mess again.
Logan wanted to believe things would get better.
End part 3.
End Drink & Be Merry 11: Establishing Guidelines