Cherry 9/Jarhead

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The Cat Named Jarhead


Stooping down next to the remains of a dumpster I had a few moments to ponder how exactly I'd ended up here. Here being Baumton, more commonly, and might I add accurately, known as Boomtown. As for the why? Well I made the mistake of letting my Lieutenant convince me to go along on one of his wild goose chases.

Turning my head slightly at the sound of gravel cracking slightly a dark figure entered my peripheral vision. Echo came up next to me shaking his head. The comm in my headset cracked slightly as he came over the general line, "Marksman, I don't see any Council, I only see Clocks and Vahz. While it’s really fun to take potshots at the Vahz goons, we're wasting time here."

Grumbling I stood up and hit the button on my goggles restoring the HUD display. Biting down slightly I activated the comm in my mask, "I gotta agree wit 'em Marksman, this place is deserted. We're wastin' our time here."

Marksman, of course, didn't reply. Cursing under my breath I pulled my gun from the sling and stopped suddenly as I felt something bump up against my leg.

Really didn't have to think about it, this place gave me the creeps enough as it was. So my reaction might've been a bit overkill. Never less I brought the sight of my rifle down to the ground near my leg as I prepared to step back and fire. However instead of clockwork, or even what I really didn't want to see, a stray animated Vahz zombie part, I was greeted to the sight of what was probably the mangiest cat I'd ever seen.

Now when I say mangiest I really mean it, trust me I saw some screwed up pets during my time in Eastern Europe during the war. This cat though was something else entirely. His fur was patchy and bald in spots, singed and scorched in others. It looked like something had chew off the top half of his left eat then nibbled at the edges of the right. And from where I was standing it really looked like he was short an eye on the right side.

You could almost say the bugger was cute. Cute in a way only its momma could love. Did I also mention he was huge? Like the size of a medium dog easily. Probably been eatin' whatever it is that Max grew up on.

My finger stayed on the trigger as I watched the cat a moment. Nothing in this damn city was ever what it seemed and for all I knew this was really some mutant ninja cat with mind control powers. Stubbornly the cat butted its head against my leg again then meowed.

At least I think it was a meow. It sounded more like a small jet engine that was about to die. The Cat stared at me with that one good eye. It wasn't woeful eyes like most animals. This cat knew he was a bad ass.

"Well fuck all. Looks like Jack got himself reincarnated into a hairball."

Echo who had stopped briefly when he hadn't heard me following turned and looked at me. His eyes then fell to the cat. Moving careful around the cat he took up a spot next to my shoulder and I heard him chuckle, "I can see the family resemblance. Hey Marksman come..."

I'd learned pretty early on working with some of the boys that they had vastly better hearing then me. Impressive all things considered, but when Echo suddenly went quiet and dropped to his knee I wasn't more than a half second behind him.

That half second though almost cost me my head. I felt the grenade whizz over my head and bounce away. The concussion a few seconds later pelted us both with debris.

When you've been in enough fire fights you don't necessarily think, everything becomes more of a reaction honed after many years. Most of us in Spec-ops were pretty new to workin' together. End of the day though we were professionals and it hadn't taken long for us to gel as an efficient team. Today wasn't going to be much different.

Echo had disappeared, but I could still pick up on both him and Marksman's locations over the HUD, two steady blips in my goggles. I'd long since reactivated my cloaking device and crept out of the spot I'd slipped to, the cat long forgotten.

It happened quickly, we'd all moved into positions around the attackers and the fight lasted barely a few seconds before all 5 were on the ground unconscious. Marksman was moving in to prep them for transport and relinquish them of any toys or objects of interest. I could damn near feel the cocky joy emanating from him; I spent a second debating making a bet with Echo on how long it would take for him...

"Told you so," Marksman declared flatly over the comm. Not even a full second, god damn Rangers.

"You want a cookie Marksman?" Echo deadpanned over the comm.

"Yeah, as a matter of fact I do."

I chuckled to myself as they continued to argue. After the dust had settled I'd punched up OPS at Headquarters to get the transport authorization on the pseudo Nazis. The boys went quiet as Marksman wandered off; all he needed was that little cartoon rain cloud over his head to finish the picture.

OPS was thankfully brief and the unconscious figure began to disappear as they got beamed up to a new sort of hell in interrogation. Marksman and Echo had both wandered out of my line of sight, my assumption being they'd gone off following any path the five Council goons had left.

Turning a bit I took a good look at the wasteland around me. Baumtown had once been a bustling city center, that was before the war when it became ground zero. Now it was nothing but burning smoldering wastes. No idea what the Council could want here though, there wasn't a blessed god damn thing left here.

I barely caught the shadow as it darted just barely inside of my peripheral vision and ducked instinctively diving into a roll. The height and width on the shadow could only be one thing, a Warwolf. Lightning fast and stronger then a god damn rhino, they had fists was bigger than my damn head.

Warwolves were bad news for more then a few reasons, but mainly because it was like trying to fight an angry moose on PCP. Nothing short of a knock out blow would phase them and there wasn't a damn thing that could slow em down. I sure as hell didn't have time to call Marksman or Echo over the comm for support. The next second would determine whether I walked away from this, or if he gave me a one way ticket to the doc's tender care.

All of this crossed my mind as I skidded to a stop as I came out of the roll one hand behind me on the ground the rifle coming forward in my other. Falling back onto my heel for support I hit the toggle on the rifle switching it to the lower mounted grenade launcher.

It was a satisfying thoomp as the grenade grenade rocketed towards the charging Warwolf. The impact came directly in the Warwolf's chest and I turned my head a bit as it exploded. My hearing faltered slightly on that side and hot debris pelleted my face.

Quickly looking back I caught the last bit of the Warwolf sailing backward and slamming into the remains of a wall that gave easily under its weight. Jumping up I sprinted several feet forward toggling the gun back to auto.

"Come on, stay down you ugly son of a bitch." It was out loud and mostly for myself, it was a soldiers sort of prayer for when shit hits the fan. But when the Warwolf started to struggle up I felt my stomach hit my feet.

My rifle came up and I aimed for a shot on its head and clicked over to the comm, "Assuming you boys just heard that party favor go off, better get here before the surprise is over."

The Warwolf got up with a howl and came charging back at me, more pissed then before. I took the shot, and damn my luck it went wide.

There were a few things I was expecting to happen, they included the Warwolf turning me into its own personal punching bag. I can however say that the list of things I had going through my mind didn't include watching the Cat leap at the Warwolf and onto its head hissing and clawing like a thing possessed.

I was dumbfounded, but at least not more so then the Warwolf. The Cat turned the Warwolf's face to so much ground meat in short order. Bastard even managed to take out one of its eyes. The Warwolf howled in pain and anger finally getting a grip on the cat and throwing it aside roughly.

It'd been enough time, even with my initial shock it gave me enough time to reload the grenade launcher. As soon as the cat was clear I nailed the Warwolf again in the face. It wasn't really pretty and looked a hellva lot worse then the things chest. Damn thing was still twitching though, even with half its damn head missing.

Wasn't much remorse in me as I coated it with accelerant from my flamethrower and lit it on fire. It stopped twitching though, eventually.

Echo and Marksman came into view as I picked up the cat, he didn't look so good, but he was still breathing at least. They both stopped at the smoldering body of the Warwolf, Marksman's eyebrows were both raised when he looked at me.

"Don't look at me like that, you know I fuckin' hate dogs." I began hitting up the coordinates to HQ into the manual controls on my Medicom beacon, "You two clean up here, Marksman call in for some backup, obviously more goin' on here then we thought initially, I'm heading back to HQ."

"Where's the hairball going?" Echo had no love lost for pets, it wasn't really a big secret.

"The hairball saved my bacon, gonna see if I can get him some help. Figure its the least I can do, all things considered."

--=2000 HOURS - 2008-JUL-20 - S.C.O.R.P.I.O. HEADQUARTERS, [CLASSIFIED]=--

The Cat proved to be one tough son of a bitch. Two broken legs and a broken rib, and he was currently hobbling around the Spec-Ops office issuing his opinions every so often in his normal cantankerous manner.

Video recorded from my goggles by Intel had apparently made the Cat quite popular around the office. It had also apparently earned him the name Jarhead somewhere along the line. The women folk from the administrative offices thought he was the cutest damn thing they'd ever seen.

One of them with a sense of humor had affixed a eye patch over his bad eye, surprisingly enough the cat didn't seem to care, word was however Slayton wasn't amused. I'll admit to snickering every time I see it.

Marksman, of course, didn't seem to mind the steady inflow of young women to croon over the cat. It was however, starting to get on my nerves. Thankfully right now it was after the time when most civilian staff went home and Marksman was off doing something else.

The Cat had curled up on my feet and was grumping at me anytime I moved them. Can't say I really minded though, the company was nice and at least the Cat could be made happy easily. All it took was a couple treats or a scritch behind the ears and he'd settle down for awhile.

I'd finally buckled and agreed to rent out one of Marksman's spare apartments, so I'd be taking the Cat home tonight. The office tomorrow was sure to be full of broken hearts. Least it meant I wouldn't get to hear Slayton bitching about the animal being here. I think he's just jealous bout the cat getting so much attention.

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