That Which is Gone Astray

Disclaimer: This is a fan-made fictional story intended for entertainment purposes only. Original characters belong to the writer, me; all other characters belong to someone who isn't me. ):


"Open your eyes. Wake up."

Vaguely, he heard and recognized the voice. He didn't want to wake up, already felt pain flooding every part of his body from simply the awareness that someone was calling him. Waking up would hurt very, very much. Still, he couldn't do much to block out the persistent voice.

"Come now, wake up. You have to move."

I don't want to, he insisted, cringing at the very breathy whine his voice—it was his voice even in his mind, right?—made. Instinct told him that the persistent one was right—that he needed to wake up, and move. He couldn't remember why just yet, but he knew that he had to move. Someone had made him promise to survive. He didn't remember who, but he had a pact with them. And he had sworn an oath, to protect…to protect his family. Right? His foggy brain struggled to piece together the pieces of his memory that he was clinging to—the only pieces he had left.

"This shouldn't be so hard, not for you. Remember? You were born for this. You've lived this sort of life for years. You have to make it back. You promised that you would. Do you remember? Your partner, your team, the little girl…they are all waiting for you."

He didn't remember much, he had to admit. But he decided to listen, that the voice seemed trustworthy enough. Disoriented, unable to remember which way was up or down, he struggled to open his eyes. Water blurred his sight immediately, and for a moment he wondered just how he had gotten underwater. Then, his chest heaved and his lungs burned, starved for air. Automatically, instinctively, his arms and legs moved, kicking and stroking in a graceful, learned manner. He didn't panic—somehow, he knew that panicking would only make things worse. A hand broke the surface first, and he pushed himself upward until the precious, cool night air filled his lungs. Darkened blue eyes blinked, and scanned his immediate surroundings. He was nearby a dock, in a marina of some sort. The place looked familiar, but if he were being honest he would have to acknowledge the fact that he couldn't pinpoint his location at all. He started swimming toward the dock, noting the immediate hazard of the sharks that would be in these waters.

"Keep going. Stop thinking, you have no time to slow down."

He listened to the instructions, forcing aching muscles to move more quickly to push himself through the water. When he reached the dock, something urged him to move under it, and not over it. He did so, crawling onto the sand and coughing to clear his lungs of any debris that had gathered within them. A biting pain tore at his shoulder, leaving him weak and almost causing him to tumble. He managed to right himself, but immediately the burning at his shoulder was accompanied by several other immediate, searing hurts—one at his knee, one decorating his abdomen. There was a throbbing sensation at his temple, and it added to the mind-numbing headache that was spreading from his neck upward.

He relaxed against the cool sand below him, catching his breath. The aches and the sharp pains he felt did not ease, but grew sharper, awakening his senses and sending his thoughts flaring. Yet again, his instincts told him what it was he needed to do. He lifted his head once more, ignoring the protests of his body as he pushed himself upright and knelt, trying to regain some sense of his bearings. Immediately, he registered every nuance of sound that didn't seem to fit in with the rest: a scuffling of multiple feet against the sand and rock nearby, the faint clicking of a gun being loaded, the feverish whisperings of his pursuers, the crackling of a large fire somewhere nearby.

He knew all these sounds, but something was wrong. He could tell it as soon as he gained awareness—something was amiss. His thoughts, while focused on the task at hand, were still somehow disoriented, not giving him the information that he needed. Beaten, hurting, and failing to remember…what, exactly? What was he trying to remember?

He looked across the span of water, toward what remained of a small boat. The source of the fire, he realized, watching as the vessel slowly began to sink while black smoke billowed up from the blaze that engulfed it. He remembered that bit—that he had leapt into the water and that the explosion had pushed him further down. Who had been on the boat with him? Had he been there himself?

"No time for that. They've gotten close. Move!"

He shook himself free of his questions, and crouched low to the ground as he weaved his way toward the expanse of lush greenery nearby, ducking into the cover of the leaves before turning and seeking out the ones pursuing him. They were nearby—he saw them, dark-clad figures running down to the shoreline from the shadows, all armed. He counted ten of them, but recognized instantly that they weren't a normal team. Their movements didn't flow, they didn't synchronize quite like a tactical unit. Mercenaries, maybe.

He kept low in the leaves, listening as one of them whooped and laughed, "I can't believe we did it!"

"Shuddup, Jones," grumbled another—an older man, from the sounds of his gruff voice. "We didn't do anything 'til we recover the body. He's a tough bastard to kill, and the boss wants proof of death."

"I'm not going out there to collect a body," retorted another. "I have a thing about water."

"Pansy," the first, Jones, laughed. "I'll go, Old Man. Where're the suits?"

They weren't giving him much information to go on, except that obviously only one of them seemed to know what he was doing. He knew that he ought to start moving; that he could use the time that the team wasted trying to find his body to put some breathing space between them. He could get rid of them now, if he'd kept his firearm. He touched his side where he knew his weapon typically sat, and silently rued its absence. Reaching around his back gingerly, he felt to see if he had the knife he also liked to keep handy—yet again, he was disappointed.

"Just need to avoid them for the moment, remember. No need to take revenge just yet."

Not that he knew what he was taking revenge for. He couldn't clearly remember it. He eased back and slipped into the shadows. The pain in his thigh hindered his progress—he would have to stop soon, and see to whatever it was. It was too dark to do anything about it yet—he pressed a hand against the hurt absently, wishing he could see how bad it was and what the nature of the wound was. A bead of sweat trickled down his brow, and he wiped the back of his hand over his forehead. When he noticed the blackish stain on the back of his hand as he lowered it, he paused in his slow trek, confused. He wished, yet again, that he could recall just what was so important that he struggled to grasp in his shadowy memories. Some event, something that had happened only recently that had set this whole thing off…he knew bits and pieces. There was something important, something he had to bring to mind before he could bother with the other details.

"You want to remember them…your team. You want to remember who you are."

His insides twisted uncomfortably. And suddenly he remembered all too clearly what he had been struggling with since this chase began. Something had happened to initiate everything, but when it did—when it did, he had stopped remembering important details. Like the name of the brunette child who grinned at him and offered him a shave-ice in his memories. Or the identity of each of his teammates, all of whom he trusted—all of whom he needed to return to, to take care of. Or his sister, the damaged young woman he had to look out for. Or…or…the woman with the dark hair, the one who had been lying so still on the floor, so still on the red carpet…

"I've got a trail here!"

He heard the distant call, and ignored the sudden clamping pain in his chest as he cursed and struggled to move more quickly. He hoped to hear more advice from the voice that had manifested somewhere in his mind, but the voice had grown still, waiting for his advancement. He pressed on, trying to formulate a plot all the while. There was no need for any of the others to lie as still as the dark-haired woman. He would make sure of that. As soon as he got his damned gun back.