The beeping of a heartbeat monitor, the iridescent white light of a cheap overhead light fixture, the all-white walls. These were the first things that Jackal perceived as he woke up in his hospital bed. A woman in a fur lined aviator jacket, black BDU pants and a black tank top with “VLUM”, standing for Vizaran League Unified Military, embroidered across the chest sat in one of the nearby chairs. She quickly jolted up with a high boost of energy upon noticing Jackal was waking up. She rushed over to his bedside, brushing blonde hair out of her face so she could get a better look. She laughed from joy before speaking.
“Why do you always sleep in so much?” she said through a laugh.
“Hyena, I-” Jackal was interrupted by Hyena going in for a hug. Jackal waited a few seconds before continuing.
“How long was I out?” he asked. Hyena pulled away, but stayed at his side.
“Four days.” she answered.
“Four days?!” raising his voice caused him to strain and cough. “W-was the mission successful, at least?”
“Well…” Hyena said hesitantly, “sort of? That one specific operation has been shut down, but due to the death of the commander we weren’t able to track where all these guns are coming from or who’s buying them.” Jackal let out a sigh. As he did, a doctor and a nurse walked into the room.
“I will have to request you step away from the patient, Agent Hyena.” the doctor said. Hyena nodded and left the room. The doctor cleared his throat before he walked in front of the bed Jackal laid in. He pulled out a small holographic device, which when placed face down on a flat table projected a series of x-rays.
“When we pulled your body out of the wreckage, we did a series of x-ray scans to better evaluate your injuries.” the doctor said while adjusting his tie, clearly nervous about something.
“What we found was worrying. As you can see here, there were a number of foreign objects found within your body. Roughly four hundred individual pieces of shrapnel from the crash divided between your chest, arms, and head. We were able to get almost all of it out over the course of several day-long operations. However…” The doctor shook his head slightly while running his hand along the top of his head. Jackal, throughout all of this, was continually getting more and more uncomfortable. He knew the crash was bad, but didn’t know it would be this bad. The doctor continued.
“We weren’t able to recover everything. It would be easier to explain if you saw for yourself. Please, Agent Jackal, look down.” Jackal’s gaze shifted downward, and toward the stump where his right arm used to be. Shock, dread, and confusion were the only emotions to fill the Sentinel. He could’ve sworn he felt his right arm just a few minutes ago. His breathing became labored, as he merely slumped back in his medical bed, exhausted.
“So, what now?” Jackal asked the doctor.
“Well, an arm is easily replaceable. We can have you outfitted with a new arm in a couple days but it will still take you weeks of physical training and reconditioning to be able to use your new arm at a high level of combat effectiveness. You’re looking at a month of paid leave at the minimum.” the doctor answered.
“I see. And what of the team?”
“Shadowteam Feliformia is expected to maintain a minimal operational status while you are away.” Jackal nodded solemnly in response to the answers he received.
“Will I be able to pick which Sentinel medical station I’ll be staying at?” Jackal asked. The doctor shrugged.
“I don’t see why not.” The doctor answered.
“I want to stay in the Vathri System.”
“That was fast. What’s in the Vathri System?”
“My homeworld, Vathri II. I figured this would be a good opportunity to visit family.”
“Yes, I know. Due to the sensitive nature of my duties, I am restricted from revealing my status as a Sentinel to people who previously knew me. I’ve heard it a hundred times over. We have cover stories, right? I’ll just use the cover story.”
“Are you comfortable lying to your family?”
“It’s part of the job.” Jackal responded. The doctor thought about this for a moment, and then sighed.
“I suggest you get more rest, Agent Jackal. You’ll need it.” The doctor said before leaving the room. Jackal closed his eyes, and as quickly as the doctor left, fell back into a deep slumber.