Day 070: One Cut Among Many
Summary: Grey takes part in Cage Wallace's Death of a Thousand Cuts.
Date: 8 August 2016
Related: None directly.

Day 70 After Landing — The Hood, Tondc

Grey may be one of the Skaikru most comfortable with Grounders — hell, he's shacked up with one — but that doesn't make him comfortable in a sea of vengeance-seeking Grounders with knives. He's jostled here and there, several rows back in the crowd, watching Cage Wallace get his first cuts from Indra and a succession of wan-looking Trikru. The man doesn't scream for the first cut, or the second, or the third, but by the low teens, he's grunting in pain, by the mid twenties he's crying out, by forty he's screaming, and by seventy he's panting, beyond even screaming for a while.

The sickly-looking Trikru are replaced by others, Warriors, Makers, Farmers, and more. They each take their five-to-ten centimeters of flesh, a shallow cut, just enough to bleed and cause pain. At another time, Grey would be wondering about the organized manner in which the semi-existent line moves. It's almost as if everyone knows exactly when it's their turn, without ever having discussed it. But the Guardsman is too far into his own head to notice or to wonder. With his Grounder-born girlfriend beside him, and her Sky-born… apprentice… Second… hanger-on somewhere nearby, Grey's eyes stay on the last President of Mount Weather, but his mind is somewhere else entirely.

Hanne, Cookie, Ruth, Adam, Rawlins. There are at least thirty or forty Skaikru present, and most of them have a similar list. Some might ignore Rawlins the bully, and some might focus on just one or two names, but they're all part of Grey's family, in his mind. Cookie, team mom. Ruth, the black sheep come back too late. Adam, the quiet dreamer. Rawlins, the jackhole you'd rather disown but can't. Hanne, the innocent, what might have been.

Hanne, Cookie, Ruth, Adam, Rawlins. The screams continue, rising up and falling down to mere moans again as Cage gains and loses consciousness, but Grey doesn't notice. The knife at the back of his belt, the knife he made himself on their very first day on the Ground, suddenly feels heavy, like it's trying to burn the young man through his t-shirt and pants. Hanne, Cookie, Ruth, Adam, Rawlins.

Now the first of the Skaikru, those who were captured by the Mountain Men and made it out alive, are being allowed to step forward. It's been more than an hour, and many have lost interest, moving off to join in the revelry that can be heard from the center of town. Hanne, Cookie, Ruth, Adam, Rawlins.

Finally, the way opens up before Grey, and he's at the front of the lines. A dour, bearded giant of a Trikru grunts words that he's repeated for each of the Skaikru before Grey, and which he will repeat for each of the Skaikru after him, "Short. Four inches. Shallow. No penetration." Another time, it would make a great set-up for a serious burn. But Grey's focus is on the bound man ahead of him.

Hanne, Cookie, Ruth, Adam, Rawlins. Cage Wallace is barely recognizable now, even if Grey had ever seen him before in his life. His face and body are covered in blood, his clothes in tatters, and the rich pork smell of burned flesh lingers in the air around him where his wounds have been cauterized to staunch the bleeding. The Mountain Man's chest still rises and falls, however, showing that he is alive, and Grey has caught him in one of his lucid phases, his dark eyes open but clouded with pain.

The matricide hesitates, licking his lips, and then steps forward almost hesitantly. He's not rethinking things, precisely. But this is a whole lot worse than he expected — and Wallace hasn't even lost his eyes, his tongue, or his hands yet. Hanne, Cookie, Ruth, Adam, Rawlins. He has a duty, and he reaches behind his back, pulling out the broad-bladed knife. Under the watchful gaze of the Trikru giant, Grey searches… and finds an unmarked section of skin. The back of the forearm, up by his elbow.

The Trikru tenses as Grey's blade nears the Maunon's bound hands, but does not interfere when Grey grabs Cage's arm and lays the knife along it. This time, the mantra is repeated aloud, "Hanne," Grey's voice shakes just a little, "Cookie, Ruth, Adam, Rawlins." And then the blade is drawn slowly across Cage's skin, opening a cut about three inches long that begins bleeding immediately.

Cage's lips move, perhaps trying to say something, perhaps 'please,' but Grey wipes the blade on the President's tattered shirt, his vision blurred by unshed tears, and then steps back, clearing the way for Gideon. Cage has received cut 427. He won't make it to 1,000, at least not alive.

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