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[Fiction] Endeavor: Why We Fight


Jager

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Endeavor sat back in her hospital bed, feeling sore and utterly exhausted. She didn’t know how long she had snoozed, but she found herself nodding off toward the door. She realized after several seconds that there was someone standing just inside the door, hugging the shadows.

She started, wide awake and the figure moved half out of the shadows.

Jager.

He had that deep brooding, ‘taking life to seriously’ look. She almost welcomed him right then, but she caught an unfocused look to his eyes and there was something unsettling about his aura.

Endeavor blinked and for a moment a repressed memory from the fight with DeathSquad came back to her. More accurately, a signal transmitted by a damage drone had tried to send to her. The brave little thing had soldiered on to the end, still trying to defend her even after its power core had been breached and its primary weapons and mobility systems had been crushed. It has still sought instructions, attempted to re-route reserves to anything that might propel it one last time at a clone, and tried to call out to its slain brethren so that they might come once more to the rescue.

The drone, #471 of the B-style had transmitted right up until the last moments of its life. What it had witnessed had been beyond most of its abilities to define. Even Endeavor in her near-comatose state hadn’t really understood what she was seeing. Jager, swarmed by DeathSquad clones until their sheer weight of numbers cut him off, and then cut him down. They had born him down to a kneeling position, clearly meaning to execute him. One of the clones had twisted Jager’s arm so hard that it had been torn loose. With that, Jager had looked up and smiled. More accurately, something resembling Jager had looked up out of Jager’s eyes, and it had smiled. It had been the coldest, most predatory smile Endeavor had ever seen. Totally non-human and it was something that had chilled her to her soul. It was the truly nova side of Jager. A horrific, terrible killing machine, assassin, and nova-hunter. Something born and honed to hunt and kill novas and it liked it. It liked killing them and watching them die. Hell, it existed only for the moments it could hunt and kill, and loved nothing else.

Endeavor shivered. She had seen that side of Jager. She had heard about it, but never imagined how soul-chilling it could be. She had watched that Jager smile and slam its fist into the ground. He had smiled as a quantum wave roll out from the impact, smiled as it stole the energy from every nova around him … weakening them and growing stronger himself … and then he had started killing them.

Endeavor shivered and looked over at Jager. She saw him, the killer, as well as the man she knew. She also saw his pain and loneliness. She opened up her arms and motioned him to come to her. Jager came over, dragging his feet and looking down. She sat up as best she could, hugged him to her chest, and told him,

“Everything’s okay, Jager. It’s okay.”

Jager sighed against her shoulder and hugged her back. After a few moments, he pulled away.

“Thanks.”

This smile was warm and friendly. Very Jager-ish, the way she remembered.

“Thank you, Jager. Long says that if you hadn’t shown up, it would have gone very differently.”

Endeavor sighed, acknowledging the sacrifices others had made on her behalf.

“I … thanks again … anyway.”

“What is it, E?”

It was Endeavor’s turn to look away.

“So many of you gave so much. I … I saw what you … what you went through … to save me.”

Jager gave a short laugh.

“You don’t understand, do you?

Endeavor looked up at Jager. His voice had that far-off quality to it.

“Endeavor, why we fight … well, it’s about you, but more than you. E, we … Long and I, and those like us … even Typhoon to a degree, we kill. Either we have killed or are prepared to. Worse, we willing chose that kind of existence. Even if we have moved on, that quality remains with us … forever.”

“You are different, though. See, E, you believe the world is a better place. A kinder, more wholesome and forgiven existence than people like me think can exist. You give us hope and you show us that there is the possibility of something else.”

The look on Endeavor’s face showed Jager that she clearly thought he was still battle-addled.

“Seriously,” another warm smile, “that kind of virtue that you have is pretty rare. You believe, and by believing, make it so. Even if the others can’t put their fingers on it, its there. You are a better person than you think you are.”

“Some people hate you for it as well. They tell you that you are silly, childish, or confused, but it comes from a sense of jealousy about the goodness within you.”

The smile faded from Jager’s lips and something dangerous flickered behind his gaze.

“Even DeathSquad felt it. It’s why he came for you. It’s why he couldn’t kill you … and it the end; it is why he couldn’t leave you. I … I knew that about him … sensed his weakness … and I used that against him.”

Jager choked back something, but continued.

“He knew that someone was going to die on that ship. I let him know, it was going to be him or you.”

Jager stepped away from Endeavor and turned away.

“It was DeathSquad that chose how it ended. He knew that I wasn’t bluffing, just like I knew that he couldn’t leave you.”

Jager headed for the door and opened it.

“That’s why I didn’t come earlier. I thought you needed to know … about me and about DeathSquad. As horrible as he could be, there was something … decent about him at the end. You brought that out in him, so I guess there is still hope for bastards like me as well.”

He looked over his shoulder.

“If you want, we can talk later, but you need to heal right now and get your life back together. I’ll be around.”

With that, he was gone.

Endeavor sat there stock-still for several long seconds after the door shut. Had she dreamed it all? Had Jager really been here and told her what she though he had? Had he really planned to kill her if DeathSquad had fled?

She lay back in bed and a smile crossed her lips.

He had, and she understood something that Jager didn’t. Yes, he would have threatened to kill her and really meant it … if it was what it took to stop a madman from threatening the rest of the world. She was tougher than Jager gave her credit for and she understood the nature of sacrifice better than perhaps she should.

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