Author: Notmanos
E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Rating: R
Disclaimer:  The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; the
character of Wolverine is also owned by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics.  No copyright
infringement intended. I'm not making any money off of this, but if you'd like to be a patron of the
arts, I won't object. ;-)  Oh, and Bob is *my* character - keep your hands off!   

The airstrip that they landed at in Chiapas was actually outside of Tuxtla Gutierrez proper, and Logan guessed - since it was just a dirt runway hidden by a clutch of scraggly trees from the nearby villages - that it was one of the spots where drugs and arms smugglers came in and got out of Southern Mexico. Considering Marc's profession and Mattie's military rigid posture, he guessed their pilot was more involved in the illegal arms trade.

The bright eye of the sun was just starting its downward creep towards the base of the horizon, turning the sky a sherbet pink that gradually darkened to the color of blood oranges. This was the more tropical side of Mexico - where deserts and endless stretches of sand gave way to groves of coconut palms, lianas, and the threat of malaria . Well, to to those without a healing factor, at any rate. It was somewhere in the nineties, with the heat still rising from the hard packed earth, and enough humidity thanks to the near by Gulf of Mexico that the air was close and uncomfortable. It smelled of brine and industrial pollution,  cooking fires and greenery, earth and raw sewage.

Thanks to Logan's fluency in Spanish and Marc's money, they were able to hire a car ( a jeep, really ) and a driver that would take them to the border of Santo Marco. They weren't worried about getting scammed, robbed, or kidnapped - they were two mutants who had carved out a niche kicking ass. In fact, it would be a nice five minute diversion if someone tried it. But of course no one did; they were probably giving off too many "Try me, pendejo" vibes. Wasn't that always the way?

The driver knew a short cut that took them deep into the jungle, through rocky paths and muddy roads, and as the light shaded to a deep violet overhead, a slash of sky seen through the canopy of trees, he almost wished they could stop and just drink in the sights. It was lovely here, and he knew there was something about being deep in the trees - be they forests or jungles - that he really loved. For reasons he couldn't even explain to himself, he felt at peace, safe; more at ease around the wild and animals than around people. Maybe because animals operated from a very basic set of motives - Humans were far more messy.

He knew the driver, Carlos, didn't speak English, so they were free to talk. "Did Xavier ever ask you to come to the school?" He asked curiously, as they sat side by side in the back seat. Logan was prepared to move up front soon, as he was the one who spoke Spanish.

Marcus nodded, looking up at the low branches of trees that just barely avoided hitting them; this was a very little used "short cut". And Logan could have sworn he just saw a sloth clinging to a higher branch. They didn't get this far North, did they? "Yeah, he told me I was "welcome" there - but man, I couldn't do it. I know he means well, but normals are never gonna share the world with us. But frankly, I'm glad - I don't want the world. It's a fuckin' mess. And besides, I don't go in for this political shit. You know what happened to Martin Luther King? Assassinated by some cracker dipshit. And Malcolm X was assassinated by a nut in his own group. Politics just gets you dead, and is never worth it."

That reminded Logan of Jean's death, even though it wasn't politics that got her killed. "So why do this? No one's payin' you to make sure that mutants are being treated well in Santo Marco."

"No, but if I know my mutant brothers are bein' used and abused, I am gonna put a stop to it - end of story. No one hurts my people if I can help it."

Yes, they really could have used him at Alkali Lake. Scott wouldn't have liked it, but who gave a fuck? And for some reason, he thought it might have been fun if  Marcus had met that arrogant shit Magneto. One tap, and Magneto would have been on the floor and out for a while - or dead, if Marcus just decided it was time to end it. "So mutants are your brothers, huh? I thought I was the only one."

He gave him that smart ass grin again. "I told you our dad had the happiest pants in the circus."

After a scary series of serpentines that took them too close to several trees and travel over supposed roads that seemed to be made up of nothing more than big holes, Carlos swung them on to an actual paved highway. While it was a relief to not be in danger of accordioning against a banyan, he drove at manic speed, swinging the jeep in between huge semi tractor trailers, hauling goods to ( and from, when he briefly swerved into oncoming lanes ) South America, one problem had been replaced by another. Had Bob taught him how to drive?

"Tell me you're wearing your flak jacket," Logan shouted, over the howl of the wind. It wouldn't do much in a high impact crash, but it was better than nothing.

Logan discovered Carlos's terrifying excuse for driving was more tolerable if you looked up instead of ahead, so he did, sinking back against the seat and gazing up at the sky. It was beautiful, so much so that it startled him. It was a deep black now, like velvet, the white pinprick of stars like diamond dust scattered on its surface. The moon was a mere sliver of white light making its way across the darkness, and when they got close to the ocean he could see it floating on the surface of the ink black water like it had fallen out of the sky.

For some reason, he thought of Jean, and then made himself stop. He had enough going on right now, and he didn't need to think about her. Of course, just thinking of that made him feel like a traitor for some reason, but hey - she was not the first woman to die on him, and was probably not the last.

Now there was a cheerful thought.

Eventually Carlos took them back off road, back into jungles that seemed to spring up out of nowhere, and when he started to slow down, Logan got suspicious and crawled up into the passenger seat, ducking low to avoid a branch as thick as his arm. Carlos told him this was a "troubled" area - meaning the juntas patrolled if not outright ruled this area. He had to slow down to seem just like a local, and he thought it might be helpful if they had a running conversation ( in Spanish, of course ), so they wouldn't be inclined to go check and see if there was any Americans in the vehicle. Logan almost pointed out Marcus was the only American - he was Canadian, damn it, and most people liked his people - but that seemed pointless. Besides, there were Canadian oil workers in Santo Marco, and they were probably just as despised as the Americanos. And his cover identity was American, wasn't it?

So he sat up front and talked with Carlos about a soccer game he hadn't seen, a bar in Chiapas he had just made up, and several other things, aware that his Spanish was so impossibly fluent that he knew Marcus was right to take him on as an interpreter.

The jungle was simply the jungle, but in the dark it had taken on a sinister aspect. Thick clumps of undergrowth and vines twining up trunks all could have been people lurking in the shadows; rustling of leaves and scuffling in the dirt could have been men shifting position, taking better aim; eyes of animals gleamed in the dimness, as chatoyant as a cat's, and could have been laser sights, infrared scopes pulsing out into the night. But only if you didn't have any other senses telling you different, and of course Logan did - he didn't smell Humans, cordite, machine oil, didn't hear the creak of leather boots or the shush of cloth uniforms, didn't feel predatory eyes.

But after a while, he did get a scent of old humans, men who had passed through recently.They reeked of sweat and too many coca leaves, gun oil and desperation. Logan couldn't think of a worse combination of grinding poverty, political inequality, a long tradition of high level corruption and exploitation, delusions of grandeur, and access to weapons - was anyone really surprised at how deadly most of the region was? And that was before you added the drug cartels to the mix. He wondered what would happen if a mutant - a really powerful one - joined the conflict on one side or another.

Carlos was nervous, but admirably kept it out of his voice - perhaps he knew, native or not, that some of these guys just smelled fear and moved in like a pack of attack dogs. Marcus was so relaxed he looked like he was slumped half conscious against the seat, but Logan knew better.

Anyone who really who knew how to fight knew that you didn't tense up before you went into battle - you loosened up, let your muscles relax, focused your mind. If you were trained well enough, your body knew what to do and didn't need interference from you; reflex was always faster than conscious thought. Marcus raised his eyebrows questioningly when he glanced back at him, a tacit "I'm not supposed to be following this conversation, am I? ", and Logan could see on his lap, beneath his loosely folded hands, one of his HK semi-automatic handguns. Sunk low in the seat, head resting against the top edge, he was a hard target for snipers as well, and he had taken his sunglasses off, pretty well assured that Carlos wasn't about to turn around and look at him. Although he appeared half asleep, Marcus was actually on full alert, ready to take out any hostiles before they even had a chance to realize someone in the vehicle was capable of firing back. All of this told him Marc was a professional, in case he wasn't aware of that, and he knew the X-Men really needed someone like Scorpion in their ranks - someone who knew how to read a situation instinctively and knew how to kick ass as reflexively as breathing.

( A cynical little voice in his mind said, "Isn't that what they have you for?" )

Maybe because they were both on full alert and ready to fight, it never happened - none of the shadows in the forest was truly humanoid, and none of the scents were more recent than a day. But that didn't stop Carlos from stopping deep in the jungle, right before the rutted, muddy road turned into nothing but a cluster of a trees and a type of fern so large it was almost as tall as he was. It was the end of the line, literally - they'd have to walk the rest of the way to the Santo Marco border.

It was a literal no man's land; even Carlos warned them this part of the jungle was dangerous, especially at night, and they needed to be careful. "Don't worry, we can take care of ourselves," he assured him, as Marc put his sunglasses back on, pocketed his gun, and grabbed his backpack of ammunition off the floorboards.

Logan gave Carlos an extra twenty bucks for getting them there in one piece and not trying to rip them off, and since that was a virtual windfall, Carlos was excessively grateful and warned them to stay away from the main roads and keep heading South. He thanked him and told him to be careful, and then Carlos was out of there like a shot - it didn't matter that he no longer had Westerners in his jeep: these jungles near the Santo Marco border were dangerous for everyone.

As soon as he was gone, Marc took off his sunglasses and put them in one of the many pockets of his safari shirt. "Follow me," he said, moving ahead into the trees. Logan did, although there was enough moonlight for him to see by, and his sense of smell and hearing compensated for any gaps. Marcus was the one who saw night as bright and clear as daylight. As if to prove that, he never took a single misstep: never tripped over a trailing vine or a root that rose unexpectedly out of the ground, or rocks that seemed almost invisible in the shadows.

They'd gone about a mile into the jungle, avoiding roads and startling animals, when Logan finally whispered, "So what's it like? I mean, you don't see everything washed out, like night vision goggles, do you?" His curiosity was killing him.

Marcus shook his head. "It's not like those shitty digital depictions in movies, either. It's ... everything living gives of a specific heat and radiation signature. And some non-living things too - radiant heat, radiant energy, chemical reactions. But it's not uniform - there are specific variations from person to person. Even gender to gender - women generally have a greater heat concentration in their cores - trunk - than in their limbs. This is true of nearly everyone, but more so in women, for whatever reason, and even more so if they're pregnant. Although some mutants have some weird energy signatures. You, for example."

"What's weird about me?" As soon as he said that, he regretted it.

But Marcus didn't take the insult bait. "Your body temperature is extraordinarily uniform; weirdly so. No variations at all. Also, about four degrees below normal."

He hadn't expected that answer, but he didn't know what answer he had been expecting. "Really?"

"Yeah. I thought maybe it was all the metal you're packin', but maybe it's natural, related to your metabolic processes. Because once you're hurt and your healing factor kicks in, your temperature automatically shoots up to about a hundred or so. Then it goes back to normal once you're good."

"Huh. Wonder what that means."

"No idea. You'd have to ask ... a doctor. I read 'em, but I can't always diagnose."

Logan knew he had paused because Marcus had almost told him to ask Jean, but stopped himself in the nick of time. Still, he didn't need to say her name for it to feel like he had been punched in the gut.

They went back to silence for the next two miles, and that seemed like it was for the best.

Logan knew they were near the border when the scent in the air started to change. The musky smells of animals and decomposing earth, leaves and flowers both fresh and rotting, gave way to more industrial smells: auto exhaust, oil, industrial effluvia - the smells of progress and people who didn't spend half their life hiding in the jungle, fighting a war whose purpose got more blurry every day.

Then he began to hear an odd noise. It was an electrical hum, barely audible even to him, and he could smell charged ions in the air. "Whoa," Marcus said, stopping at the edge of what could generously be called a "clearing" - the trees were spaced much farther apart, and the lush undergrowth seemed to be tamer here.

"Trap?" He asked. It felt like it.

He nodded. "This place is lit up like Christmas in Vegas. They have infrared beams making a net of this place. They're at waist height, a couple inches off the ground, and at head level - it would be impossible to avoid all of them. What the fuck? Do they have the mechanisms in the trees?"

"I assume the question is rhetorical," Logan opined, as Marcus continued looking around the clearing.

"Yeah. I don't think we can go this way."

"No way to lead us through?"

"Can you see the beams?"

"No. I can smell 'em, though; hear the machines puttin' 'em out."

Marcus looked back at him, eyes seemingly bigger, blacker, and more alien in the dark. "Seriously? They have a smell?"

He shrugged. "Sort of - the charged particles kinda have a smell. They fry dust and other particles that drift in their path."

Marcus continued to stare at him, and his failure to blink was unnerving. "Fuck - you're serious, aren't you? How do you ever stand bein' around people?"

"You learn to filter it out."

"I bet you do." He looked back at the jungle full of infrared beams he could only see, and said, "Follow me exactly. If you bust a beam and somethin' happens, I ain't savin' your clumsy ass."

So what followed was what seemed like ten minutes of bad try outs for Cirque du Soliel - Marcus moved with great care, stepping over and ducking under unseen beams, and Logan copied his movements precisely, feeling as foolish as hell. He suddenly recalled that line in several old movies -"Walk this way." - and the joke where the character would then mimic the walk of the person they were following. If someone as watching them (no-he didn't sense eyes), they'd have been laughing their ass off. Logan knew he would have been.

Logan was certain one of them ( okay, him ) would fuck up and set off ... something, but somehow, in spite off all the strange movements and contortions, they made it through. "No junta did that," Logan noted, regaining his balance just in time before he fell flat on his face.

"Oh hell no," he agreed. "Where they gettin' the power to feed these things? I smell oil money."

"But what are they protecting, besides the oil?" It was a rhetorical question, because what else had they come down here for?

"Maybe it's not protection," Marcus replied. "Keepin' someone in is the same as keepin' someone out."

Now there was a chilling thought.

They'd barely gone another three hundred meters into the jungle - the smell of industry growing thicker - when Marc started looking down and slowing his walk. "Hold up - weird cold spots in the ground ahead."


"That's my thinkin'. Claymores, if I don't miss my guess."

"Home made or prof?"

"Looks pretty official to me. "

"So not the juntas either."

"Probably not."

All landmines were nasty by nature, but Clays were mines with prizes inside - metal fragments, ball bearings, nails, any assortment of objects given lethal velocity by the detonation of the mine. Claymores gave you a lot of bang for your buck in sheer collateral damage. They were vicious weapons - whoever put them out here really wanted to hurt as many people as possible. "How many are we talking about?" He wondered, following Marc's steps closely - he really didn't want to find out how long it would take him to heal from a Claymore mangling.

"I've got twelve spread out over this entire area," he said, gesturing with his arms.

"Shit. That's big bucks."

"And big paranoia."

"Wanna bet small dicks?"

"Micro-fucking-scopic." Marcus agreed. After a moment, he said, "I wonder how many animals they've nailed with these."

"Enough that they don't come around here anymore." He didn't smell any recent "marks".

"What the fuck are you now, Doctor Doolittle? Can you do a Tarzan yell and get the lemurs to help us?"

"Fuck you," he snapped. He let a moment pass before he added, "There aren't any lemurs in Central America."

He just shrugged. "Whatever."

Logan heard the Rio Preto and smelled its polluted waters long before it came into their sight. The river made up a natural border for Santo Marco and helped keep some of the "riff raff" out, but judging from the minefield and clearing full of infrared beams, not nearly enough.

They hid in the trees and scoped out the "land bridge" portion, leading up to the heavy gate that marked the entrance to Santo Marco proper. It was like viewing a section of the American border from the Mexican side. "I'm smellin' several armed men," Logan muttered.

" I got six hots in the vicinity," Marcus whispered in reply. "Two men on the main gate, four others on perimeter patrol inside the compound."

"You mean country."

"The country's a fucking compound - the terms are interchangeable. They're all heavily armed and wearing body armor. They're sweatin' like fucking pigs."

"Lit up like pyres?"

"Yeah. They smell like burnin' tires?"

"Not from this distance - more like sweatsocks."

"Bad enough."

The "bridge" across the Rio Preto looked like a flattened arch of hard packed dirt, about twelve feet wide and twenty feet long. It was reinforced on the bottom by concrete and steel, spanning the inky, lugubrious ribbon of water beneath it. It smelled like a waterway tainted by sewage and petroleum distillates, and Logan idly wondered if there was anything still living in it.

The bridge was part of the dirt road that snaked out of the jungle on their far right, leading down the slightest of inclines to Fortress Santo Marco. There was no other access point, as the river and the concrete wall surrounding the border crossing left it pretty isolated.

This really was the perfect place to commit horrific acts - as if being wealthy enough to silence corrupt neighboring governments, angry insurgents, and terrified villagers wasn't enough of a protection, they had the Preto and a border tighter then a narc's asshole in prison. Oh god, there was a simile he really could have done without.

"Ready to get this farce under way, bro?" Marcus asked. It only sounded like a question - it really wasn't, and they both knew it.

"I was born ready."

Marcus gave a mock "black power" salute. "Fight the powers that be."

They then cut through the trees to the main road, and started down towards certain doom.

Now there was a scenario Logan couldn't help but think was starting to get old.


For all their security, it was almost too easy to get inside Santo Marco. Not that he was complaining.

Marcus had a flask of tequila in his backpack, and they both took a big swig from it before crossing the bridge. They were barely on it before they were hit with a spotlight, but they had been anticipating it, and Marcus had put on his black sunglasses before they left the relative safety of the trees.

They pretended to be slightly dazed by the light and the shouting men, and Marcus draped his arm over Logan's shoulders and hung off him, laughing. He was going for really wasted drunk, and he was doing a damn good job of it; once again, he wondered why he hadn't become an actor.

Oh, right - insect eyes, poison fingernails. Would probably make for awkward close ups and unfortunate handshakes.

Marcus began a rambling discourse about a broken down truck and a guy named Pedro, and while guns remained aimed at them, they were allowed to approach the gate. A really bored and irritated looking guard who looked like six feet of muscle packed into a squarish five and a half foot package met them there, sweltering in his flak jacket and ammo belt, met them there. With his AK-47 assault rifle slung over his shoulder, he listened with veiled hostility to their rambling tale about coming in early to visit Cancún, and how they ran out of money and decided it would be best to show up bright and early for work. The pug like guard winced at their tequila breath, and shouted to his wary fellow guards, "These guys are tanked."

"Tell me no one ate the worm," one of the guards who was standing at a station near the top of the wall ( like a guard tower in a prison movie ) shouted down. To Logan, it didn't sound like he was speaking from experience more than he was worried what would happen if someone did.

"Are they crunchy?" Marcus replied, then giggled like an idiot. Logan forced himself to join in, if only because Marc was pretty funny when acting like a complete asshole. He had warned him before he was going to do an impersonation of one of those "drunken frat boys you find at agricultural colleges". Logan had no idea what that meant, but simply nodded like he understood, because frankly there were some things you just didn't want to know.

Finally, the guard asked impatiently, "If you're employees, where are your i.d.'s?"

Logan had decided to play the drunk guy who thinks he's doing a good job of playing sober. Which meant all he had to do was pause for a long time before answering anyone, have a hard time focusing on any one thing ( save for the ground ), almost lose his balance several times ( especially while standing still ), and move like he had someone pulling his strings. After some hesitant movements, he found his i.d. and promptly dropped it while trying to hand it to the guy. Marcus went through several tortured movements and false starts, laughing at himself as he failed to find his own i.d. badge.

The grouchy guard handed Logan's i.d. to a taller, slimmer guard behind him, and he waved a gun shaped wand over it. There was a bleep in the guard tower, and the guy on the wall went to check it out. "He's clear," the guy yelled back.

Grouchy guard ( Oscar - that was the name of the grumpy muppet ) handed him his badge back, just as Marcus found his and gave it to him. He glanced at it before handing it back to the guy for confirmation, and said with obvious disbelief, "You're brothers?"

Marc looked at him sharply, changing from goofy drunk to surly drunk in a heartbeat. "Gotta problem with dat?"

Even though his eyes were hidden by shades, Oscar the guard must have felt the intensity of his gaze, because he took a step back and said, "No, whatever, just sayin' - "

"Sayin' what?" He snapped.

Oscar held up his hands in mock surrender. "Nothing, nothin' at all."

Marcus had been absolutely right - Logan was roughly certain the race issue wouldn't come up again, at least not among these guys.

There was a bleep of confirmation from the computer and another shout that he was clear, but they seemed rather subdued about it, perhaps because they didn't want to set Marcus off. But when he handed his badge back, Oscar asked, "What's with the gloves?"

"These are my drivin' gloves - they go with my hat." He reached up and patted his shaved pate. "Where th' fuck's my hat?"

"Don't ask me," Logan replied, after waiting a very long beat. It had occurred to him that, if they wanted to, he and Marc could probably take down this entire crew right now. He'd have to go after the guy on the wall with the gun, but that wouldn't be a problem, and Marc could take out the guys on ground level.  But right, the stealth thing - they were going to figure out what the hell was going on here first. Then they were going to burn the house down.

"You stole my hat," Marcus slurred accusingly. Out of the corner of his eye, Logan saw Oscar roll his eyes.

"I did not," Logan protested, as the gates were retracted open.

"You did too," Marcus insisted, as they staggered forward into Santo Marco. "Yer mad 'cause we didn't get the smokin' burro."

Logan hoped he'd made that up - what the fuck was a smoking burro? It sounded like an animal cruelty charge.

The skinny soldier who'd been acting as middleman was their unofficial escort inside the compound, and they followed him like Siamese twins connected at the shoulder, a shambling four legged beast of drunkenness. From what he could see, this part of Santo Marco could have been air dropped in from a fashionable part of Atlanta or San Francisco: houses with veranda and gables sat evenly spaced beyond the cold grey cinder block building that Logan couldn't help but think of as the "booking" area. "You guys were lucky, you know," the slender soldier told them, his long face shiny with sweat. "There's a lot of dangerous people out in the jungle. You could get killed."

And by your traps, he thought, but didn't dare say.

Even though the only lights were high energy halogens lining the cement interior wall and spots around the forward bunker and some of the insultingly lavish homes in the interior, it was still possible to make out in the far distance the reason for all this security and wealth - six oil derricks pumping away into the night, the heavy heads of the drilling rigs driving the polish rods down into the well heads and creating the suction necessary to draw up the oil hidden deep in the earth.

(How the fuck did he know that?!)

They looked like giant erector set versions of dinosaurs, towering in the background like an everpresent menace, repeating the same movements over and over again in slow motion. They had tiny red lights on them, outlining them in the dark, and Logan could feel the thrum of them in the ground, but he didn't know if Marcus was picking that up or it was just him.

They cooled their heels on a stone bench outside the bunker while the guard went into see if they had any "barracks" open for them ( was the use of a military term ironic or revealing? ) since they arrived ahead of schedule - well, ahead of the schedule Marcus had planted in the computer.

There were still perimeter patrols in sight, so they weren't exactly unobserved, but they did pass out of ear shot on patrol. Marcus slumped back against the bench, as if about to pass out, and murmured, "Why do I get the feelin' this is just like entering East Berlin back in '72?"

He hadn't even whispered it; it was so low it was almost sub-vocalized. But Marc knew he'd hear it as clear as day. "Well, at least they ain't speakin' German," he whispered in reply, rubbing the back of his hand across his mouth to hide the movement of his lips.

Logan turned his head towards the building and strained hard to hear, but they'd done a pretty good job of soundproofing the check in point; he was just hearing mutters, sounds not quite words. What was it called in Berlin? Checkpoint Charlie. Maybe this was Checkpoint Carlos.

"Gettin' anything?" Marc subvocalized at him.

Logan just shook his head as he pretended to bat a mosquito away, and leaned forward heavily, as if about to be sick, when the guard came out. "You guys are lucky, we have some open units out in Meadow Lane."

Logan couldn't help it. Still doing his damnedest to appear drunk and out of it, he replied, "Meadow Lane? You got meadows around here?"

The guard chuckled as another jeep - newer than the one Carlos drove, and in much better condition body and engine wise - pulled up. "Well, sort of. You'll see." The guard tried to help him up, but Logan yanked his arm away, and at the last second remembered to stumble and just barely regain his balance.

The jeep's driver looked to be a native, a short bronze skinned man with a weary expression, like he really hated his job but didn't know what to do about it. The guard got in the passenger seat while Logan and Marcus spilled into the back seat, and maybe they were just two extraordinarily broad shouldered guys or the seat was built for smaller people, because they both just barely fit.

Unlike the roads in the jungle, or even the ones in Chiapas, they were as smooth as a freshly tarred street, with not a bump or stone to their name, and the driver - while relatively fast - seemed to be familiar with the rules of driving. The night air was cool and felt good, but still smelled too much of people and industry for Logan's taste. "Hey, I was wonderin' if you could tell me where a buddy of mine might be," Logan shouted over the roar of the wind in their faces.

The guard looked back over his shoulder, and, unseen by him, Marcus gave Logan a brief, sharp kick in the ankle. They hadn't discussed this beforehand. "Maybe. What's the name?"

"Ethan Casey? He was one of the drillers back in Texas."

The guard's bright, naive blue eyes seemed to cloud just a little before his face set in a bland expression. "No, sorry, never heard of  'im."

As soon as the guard faced front, he and Marcus exchanged quizzical glances. Drilling supervisor Ethan Casey, subject of several internal memos over an "incident" that was never described in detail but mentioned as "potentially disastrous", was persona non grata in Santo Marco? They could stonewall him out of the official records, but they couldn't make him cease to exist - what about his family? Did he have family? What if he didn't - or didn't anymore?

He shared a grim look with Marc before glancing up at the looming towers of the oil drills, which - through some optical illusion - seemed to remain the same distance away as they were taken deeper into this splinter of a "country". He felt an itch of impatience in his mind, and it was all he could do not to break his cover and fidget. He wanted to get wherever the hell they were being dumped off, so they could wait for the surveillance to disappear and leave them free to sneak around.

Logan had a feeling their best bet for answers laid on the "Plain of Night". But he did wonder how in the hell they were going to find it - and what would be waiting there for them.