E-Mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The character of Wolverine is 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 patronSummary: Post X2: Logan gets roped into the search for a mystical object that is wanted by several dangerous beings, and ends up getting help from a notorious vampire. But are they good enough to survive a demonic gang war? And dare he trust the undead?
of the arts, I won't object. ;-) Bob and Yasha are *my* characters - keep your hands off!
A sharp whistle made Logan jolt upright, muscles tensing and claws just itching to pop out.
Marcus looked back at him over the front seat of the car. “Are you not sleepin’ anymore, is that it?”
It took him a moment to get re-oriented, but then Logan remembered where he was. In Marcus’s rental car, on the way to meet his client at a private airstrip in British Columbia. He had cleaned up last night, but didn’t feel much better today; he still felt like he was running on helium, not blood.
Logan squinted at the sunlight bleeding through the windows, as it seemed as bright as a spotlight right now, stabbing back into his brain. Maybe this was what having a hangover was like, except he didn’t have hangovers. He was pretty sure you needed to get drunk first. “So we’re here?” He asked, as his eyes adjusted.
Marcus, being his usual smartass self, looked around before answering. “Sure looks like it, yeah. You been asleep since we left; you even slept through my award-winning rendition of the Theme From Shaft.”
“I could kick myself for missing that.”
“So what is it? You join a religion that prohibits sleep?”
Logan sighed heavily, and gave him an evil look that he hoped clearly
conveyed “Drop it”. “I’m goin’ for
Marcus shook his head, smirking as he opened his door. “I love going places with you, bud. You’re like a blast of happiness, straight up the ass.”
“I wouldn’t know,” he grumbled, fumbling for the door handle. “I’ve never had a happiness enema.”
He vaguely recalled last night, but Marc told him the client was an old one of his, Toshiro “Tony” Tagawa, a “rich old dude” who made his money as the co-founder of a Japanese electronic toy company. (Marcus couldn’t tell him if he made those annoying toy robot dogs - if he did, that was an offense worth killing over.) According to Marcus, “Tony” usually hired him for “private detective-like shit”, as he’d once hired a P.I. that was apparently a con artist, and he’d never trusted them since. When Logan exclaimed in disbelief, “And he trusts mercenaries?” Marc pointed out that Tony had a simple philosophy about that: “Mercenaries do what they are told to do if they want their payment.” That was perfectly logical, and he saw how Tony probably was pretty sharp, as Marcus had indicated.
Marcus had a problem, though. He liked Tony as a client, wanted to keep him, and had agreed to meet him here five days in advance. But the day before yesterday, he got a call from an even bigger client with a mission more immediate and personal to Marcus - doing some possibly destructive industrial spying on a genetics company in Liechtenstein. “Something exists in Liechtenstein?” Logan asked in disbelief.
According to him, a lot of stuff existed there; it was a haven for “shell” corporations, businesses that existed only on paper, and were used mainly to funnel and launder drug money and service the illegal weapon trade, as well as serve as tax dodges for overseas companies that wished to stash away some profits away from the prying eyes of Uncle Sam. Marc said there were more businesses registered in Liechtenstein than there were people.
There were some businesses with an actual physical presence there, and that included Ursprung Pharmazeutik Limited (Genesis Pharmaceutics, translated from German - and didn’t that sound suspicious?), a German-based company working on new gene therapy techniques. “They’re exploiting mutants,” Marcus told him confidentially, over a much higher quality beer. (It did appear they were in a gay bar, though - certainly Marc’s idea of a joke.) “It looks like they’ve been trying to use mutant genes to engineer various therapies, which would be fine if they got consent and didn’t lie about it to the public, but my client in this case is a representative of the European Union who has no desire to lose patents and money when U.P. goes public with mutant derived gene therapies, not to mention the potentially devastating PR fallout if the news of using mutant genes to treat “normal“ people gets out.”
“So human rights has nothing to do with it, huh?”
Marcus laughed so hard he almost shot beer out his nose. “Oh yeah, sure it does,” he said, choking on his drink. As soon as he was done with that, he said, “I go get concrete evidence to nail the suckers, and this guy with the EU plans to blackmail them into shutting down quietly, as to not to cause a scandal. I really want to do this, but I can’t just brush off Tony, ‘cause he’s a good client who always pays well, and is really generous in his definition of “expenses”.”
“So you want me to spot you, is that it?”
He nodded. “I should send you into U.P. - just think of all the little happy dances the scientists will break into when they realize they found a mutant with a pandemic healing ability. They could stop all their work and just send vials of you out.”
“I think that’s been done,” he noted sourly, then asked, “So what the fuck do I get out of this?”
“Half the money,” Marc replied, then gave him that toothy grin again. “Nah, all of it. Unless you really can’t use ten thousand dollars.”
Logan was roughly certain that was another joke. “Ten thousand?”
“Actually, that’s just my base rate. It’ll probably be more, based on the job.”
“But if I don’t like the sound of the job, I won’t take it. I’m not agreeing to anything.”
Marcus only shrugged. “Sure, however you want to play it.”
Still, Logan was sure Marc had no intention of letting him off that easy - why would he have hunted him down in Manitoba otherwise? But Logan intended to get out of it. Ten thousand was a lot of money (“The easiest money you’ll ever make,” Marcus had claimed, trying to sell it), but what good was money? What good was any of it? Would it bring Jean back from whatever hell she was in?
The meet was on a private airstrip in B.C. because Tagawa was very “security conscious”, and on his way back from a board meeting in Tokyo (he lived most of the year in Vancouver). Marc had a special magcard though, and as soon as the gate guard ran it through the scanner, the whole staff was deferential to them, and they had no problem getting through any gate.
It was a cool day, but the sun was unmercifully bright, and Logan still had to squint more than he generally liked as they crossed the tarmac towards the slim-bodied blue and white private Lear Jet, leaving the rental Lexus far behind. “Oh yeah, I found this, and thought you might get as much of a kick out of it as I did,” Marcus said, reaching in the pocket of his leather trench coat and pulling out a folded piece of paper. He handed it to him, and Logan took it with some reluctance.
He unfolded it and realized it was a book page, and wanted to cuss him out for defacing a book, but resisted the urge. The page must have come from a demon dictionary of some kind, as it had a couple of definitions of Belial demons. The first was the one he’d heard before, “liar demons”, but the second and third were new to him. The second said Belials were demons of destruction and fornication (!), sensual and lazy, while the third said Belial was an alternate name for Satan. “Didn’t Bob say that’s what he was? A Belial demon?” Marcus asked.
“Yeah. Except I think it was more he was trapped or incarnated in a Belial body, or something like that.”
“Yeah, but that means he’s at least part fuck demon, right?”
Logan couldn’t help but snort a laugh. “Fuck demon. Who knew there was such a thing. And why doesn’t he advertise it?”
“What, that he’s a demon in the sack? I know I would, but who knows? He looks like the type of guy who has no trouble getting laid - hell, I’d do him. But if I had to be a demon, I‘d wanna be the fuck demon.”
Logan handed the paper back to him, but Marc waved for him to keep it. “Show that to Bob next time you see him. I’d love to hear his explanation for that.”
He almost told him that he didn’t plan to see Bob for a damn long time, but he didn’t feel like talking about it, so he crammed the torn page in the back of his jeans. He’d surely forget about it in no time, and - knowing him - it’d be too bloody to be legible soon enough.
(Satan was supposedly a god, wasn’t he?)
The stairs lowered automatically on the jet as soon as they were within ten feet of the plane, but the door didn’t slide open until Marcus reached the first step. A huge man in a dark suit who just screamed hired muscle blocked the doorway, though, his meaty arms crossed across his front, hands hanging down in front of his crotch. From the way his left arm hung, Logan knew his shoulder holster was on that side. He probably had a gun in a back holster too, and perhaps another in an ankle holster; but they weren’t here to fight, so he had no idea why he was sizing the guy up.
“Mister Drury,” the man said emotionlessly, his voice betraying the hint of an Israeli accent.
“Ehud,” Marcus responded politely. “This is my associate, Logan.”
(What, not “guy I’m trying to pawn this off on”?)
Ehud? Definitely Israeli, probably former Mossad, as a lot of them went into private security as soon as they got out. Anyone who survived a long tour of duty in either the Israeli secret service or army was probably a badass you didn’t want to mess with, and once again proved Tagawa was smart in his choice of security.
Ehud - who had a blank face, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses - simply nodded, and didn’t move from the door until Marcus was about to walk into him. Logan knew he was watching him as he came in, but obviously Marc had some cache among Tagawa’s security staff, as he did nothing but just stand back and watch.
They left Ehud to close the door and otherwise guard against terrorists, and Marc led him back into the main cabin, which was done in calming shades of sky blue and cream.
It wasn’t as luxuriously appointed as Logan had been expecting; it was mainly an open cabin, with wall to wall azure carpeting, and four plush blue seats - more like home recliners than anything you’d find on a commercial airplane, with lots of open space between then. A small, slender Japanese man with stately silver hair stood up as they came in, and bowed deeply at the waist. Logan found himself bowing in return on pure reflex; Marcus didn’t, but since he was behind Marc, he probably missed it. “Hello, Mister Drury,” Tony Tagawa said, straightening up. He spoke English with a Canadian accent. “Thank you for your promptness. “
“Konnichiha,” Logan said, only aware he’d spoken Japanese after he said it.
Tagawa smiled politely. “Konnichiha.”
Marcus gestured to him, and said, “This is my associate, Logan. He may take over for me in this case.”
There was the slightest flinch visible on Tagawa’s face before he smothered it, but that bothered Logan. “Is there a problem, Tagawa-san?” Again, he was speaking Japanese. He really had to stop that. Even Marcus gave him a strange look out of the corner of his eye.
“It’s just a silly superstition in my family,” the man said, gesturing to the seats across from him. “Logan is considered an … inauspicious name.”
Logan had no intention of asking, but Marcus, who threw himself in the chair closest to the aisle (of course he was going to leave him the more potentially dangerous window seat), asked, “Why?”
Logan waited until Tagawa took his seat before sitting down, and he had no idea why. “It’s a … story in my family. A mononoke named Logan supposedly wiped out the Takabe and Yashida crime families some time ago.”
“Mononoke?” Marc asked, and looked rather pointedly at him, not Tony. It didn’t take a genius to put it together.
“Vengeful ghost,” Logan admitted reluctantly.
Tagawa nodded in agreement. “They say he was murdered by the families, and came back to seek revenge.”
“Murdered, huh?” Marcus was still staring at him out of the corner of his eye, and Logan desperately wanted to punch him. “I’m not a big believer in ghosts.”
“Nor I,” Tagawa replied. “It’s just a story in the family.”
“How long ago was this?” Marcus wondered.
“How do you know that?” Logan interjected suspiciously. “I wouldn’t think a story like that would circulate outside the crime families.”
Marcus’s inquisitive stare became angry (good), as he didn’t want to piss off his client. But Tagawa dipped his head in acknowledgement, a weak smile on his face. “My family was not always legitimate. There were some Yakuza connections in the past, I fear.”
“But no longer?” He didn’t care what the gig was - he was never going to work for a Yakuza.
He shook his head. “No. The profit never overcomes the losses.”
Smart man. Actually, he almost liked Tagawa; he had a sort of grace and dignity you didn’t find in many people, let alone business executives, and seemed to radiate the quiet serenity of a man who could sleep without a raging conscience getting in the way. There were very few wrinkles on his slender face, but his dark and lively eyes suggested he was in his sixties at least. He was still sharp, though, still a man you wouldn’t want to toy with.
“Would you like a drink?” Tagawa asked politely.
“No, thank you,” Logan replied on their behalf. Maybe Marcus did, but he didn’t care; he just wanted to get this over with. “We should probably get down to business.”
“Indeed,” he agreed, steepling his hands on his lap. “What I need is for someone to go to Japan, and find a valuable family heirloom for me.”
Talk about an anti-climax. Even Marc, who’d probably been expecting something like this, seemed slightly nonplussed. “Uh, okay. What kind of heirloom are we talking about? Do you have any idea where it might be?”
“It’s a sword, nicknamed Raifu-Kisei.”
Logan studied the man suspiciously, glad the shade was drawn on the window next to him. It was hard to scrutinize a man with the sun in your eyes. “Life/death?”
“It is - ” he grimaced in embarrassment, dark eyes flicking down to the carpet. “It is yet another superstition. It’s believed to be enchanted.”
“How so?” Marcus asked.
Logan watched a muscle work in the man’s jaw, under skin as thin as parchment. His refusal to meet their eyes suggested a deep shame. “I do not know which of the stories linked to it are true, but supposedly it can resurrect the dead.”
Logan felt a twinge in his gut. Bring back the dead? Seriously? “Life/death - gives life to death?”
Tagawa nodded, still not
meeting their eyes. In Westerners, that would be a sign of lying, but he
knew in this case it was simply embarrassment. “This is truly silly. I am
not a superstitious man, although my ancestors were. I don’t believe
the fairy stories attached to the sword, but many do, and people have died
for it. It was believed destroyed for decades, but I have word from very reliable
sources that it still exists, and is somewhere in Tokyo, possibly among antiquities
dealers who have no idea what they have.
“This embarrasses you,” Logan said for him. “Not your family or its heirlooms, but the stories attached to it; Raifu-Kisei’s legacy.”
He nodded, and gave him that wan smile again, this time looking up and meeting his eyes again. “I sense you have a great understanding of my culture, Mister Logan.”
Logan knew if he shifted uncomfortably he’d give himself away to Marcus, so he forced himself to sit stock still. “It’s just Logan.”
He dipped his head in acknowledgement. “As you wish.”
“So, that’s it? You just want us to hit the antique stores of Tokyo and buy your sword back?” Marc seemed truly baffled about this, but Logan knew the real score here. Tagawa wanted them to get it not only because it was part of his family’s treasures (and Marcus obviously didn’t understand how important relics could be to the Japanese people), but because he feared some of the talk around the sword could have indeed been true. Which also meant, if word was out - and there was some legitimate mojo done on the sword - some others might want it; some non-human others.
(Would it work on Jean? If it worked - if it was as advertised - could it help him get her back?)
(Would it even work on someone as long-dead as Mariko?)
Tagawa looked down again,
and clasped his hands together, interlacing slender fingers that had seen
their share of physical labor. Nothing about Tagawa was soft, and Logan always
liked that in a person. “I fear
“Ahh,” Marcus said, sinking back in his seat. Now he felt more at home. “What’s the complication?”
“There are many. One, I would like to bring it here, to my Vancouver home, but the government may not allow me to do that.”
“Why? It’s yours, ain’t it?”
“National treasure,” Logan told him, answering for Tagawa. “How old is this sword? Was it crafted by a famous katanakaji ?”
That was the Japanese name of a swordsmith, and he hoped Marcus knew what a katana was, and could guess the rest. “I do not know. It’s rumored to be four hundred years old, but I believe it to be closer to two hundred.”
Marcus let out a low whistle, and Logan figured four hundred could be an actuality, if some mojo had been done to the sword. But he didn’t say anything, because it seemed that Tagawa didn’t wish to discuss the possible mystical connotations of the artifact. “Wow, so that sucker was forged well, huh?”
“It would seem so,” Tagawa agreed.
“Do I trust that the sky’s the limit as far as buying it back goes?” Logan asked.
Tagawa nodded. “Price is no object. It’s a part of my family history, and there is little that still exists.”
Now Logan was fairly certain that others had to be after it; if money was no object, there was a lot of money being thrown around. “You covering all expenses?”
“Of course. You will have the use of one of my corporate jets, as I doubt you could get the sword through airport security, no matter its status.”
“I doubt I could get through airport security,” Logan riposted.
That made Tagawa smile. “Yes, your line of work.”
Well, no, he wasn’t a mercenary, but he didn’t bother to correct him. If he wanted to think it was because he was packing heat (as opposed to having a metal skeleton), fine with him.
Tagawa sat forward, resting his hands on his knees. “If I paid you twenty-five thousand up front, would you be willing to leave for Tokyo by tonight?”
Tagawa was looking at him, not Marcus. Either he’d caught the gist that Marc was trying to pass the job off, or it was simply because he was sharp enough to catch his interest in it.
“Full payment of fifty thou?” Marc asked, always the businessman.
Tagawa dipped his head. “And expenses, as well as access to my corporate account to cover expenses and open certain doors. Is that acceptable?”
Marcus didn’t answer, he simply looked at him too, waiting for an answer. Logan knew that was a fucking buttload of cash - how many drunks would he have to beat the shit out of to make that kind of money? - but what good would money do him? He could get money; it never helped him. And it was in fucking Japan, for Christ’s sake - it had nothing but bad memories for him right now. If he was smart, he’d say no and walk away.
What if the sword was the real deal? What if it did do what it claimed? What if it was so mystically charged even Bob would flinch?
(What if he could use it in some way - barter it even, he didn’t care - to bring Jean back? To free her?)
He didn’t want Tagawa’s money; absolutely none of this mattered. All he wanted was the sword.
Logan grunted, and nodded in acquiescence. “I’m in.”
Helga picked up the remains of a table leg off the bar, and said, “Lia’s gonna kill you.”
Bob took a gulp from his can of iced tea, and shrugged. “It won’t be the first time. Besides, if she kills me, who pretends to pay the bills?”
She made a gesture that seemed to say “Whatever”, and stopped playing with the debris piled up on the far end of the bar. Instead, she perched on a stool well away from it all, and gave him a skeptical look. “Why did you let Logan do this?”
Bob scoffed, trying to laugh it off, as he positioned the new tables just so. He couldn’t remember the exact layout of the tables at the Way Station - he embraced chaos theory as a lifestyle - but this looked close enough. “Does anyone let Logan do anything? He’s the most fucking stubborn bastard this side of you and me - he does what he wants.”
She made a throat clearing noise that meant he was in such big trouble it wasn’t funny. “Bob, need I point out you’re the Lizard King? You can make anyone do anything! You’re about the only person I know that can stop Logan dead, and you don’t even have to put down your beer.”
The fact that he was cleaning up after all this time was his fault. He'd left Lau in charge of doing it in order to do some more hands-on research, but, as it turned out, Lau’s idea of cleaning up was shoving all the debris in one corner, and propping up an unconscious Laran demon to block the hole in the wall. Although he couldn’t help but be annoyed by him, Bob could hardly blame him - he supposed he would have done much the same thing, if he couldn’t conjure stuff up or away. They had all lucked out that Lia was away on vacation, or she surely would have shoved them through a meat grinder, or at the very least hit them with Thrakazog. But Lia was due back in two days, and if she figured out the place had been trashed in her absence, she’d definitely have something of a hissy fit. And Lia’s hissy fits often ended with the authorities being involved.
“Logan needed to vent,” he finally admitted, deciding to have a seat himself. He just wasn’t cut out for interior decorating by memory. “He was seething with pain, Hel. It was like she had just died again, and he couldn’t bear it. He needed to get it out before he exploded, and I figured inanimate objects were better than people; he could have killed an entire army. And he didn’t trash the whole place.”
Her tail flicked back and forth impatiently as she continued to try and figure out how much of this was lies and how much was truth. She wore a black t-shirt that was tight enough to flatter her form, and low riding hiking shorts that still showed off what nice green legs she had. If the bar had been open to the public, everyone would have been buying her drinks and trying to look down her blouse.
“Bob, hon, you’re full of shit.”
“I know. But I swear I’m bein’ honest here. He needed to get it out before he hurt someone.”
Her tail continued its metronomic twitching as her green eyes narrowed. “But he didn’t get it all out, did he? He stormed off in a huff about what, two weeks ago? Have you seen him since?”
He shook his head. “No, but he needs time alone, time to decompress. ”
“From what? Knowledge that Cammy probably fucked over Red?”
“That, and the data dumped in his head.”
Her tail wrapped around her can of beer and she hoisted it up, but paused with the can half way to her mouth. “Data? What?”
“The Jean thing dumped a lot of stuff in his head. I couldn’t get a good look at it, as it was still highly charged and running at a different energy frequency, but I got some glimpses of fighting Fenrir - Jean’s memories.”
“But if it’s at a different frequency, he can’t access them, right?”
She raised a jade eyebrow at him, and gave him a look that meant, had he been anyone else, he’d be drinking his meals through straws from now on. “You are explaining that before I kneecap you, yes?”
“Remember how he adapted to my energy on the hell plane? Same deal here - he’ll adapt to the energy pattern.”
“And then what?”
Bob hated to do it, but he had to shrug. He really had no idea. Best case scenario, he’d simply be able to make sense of all the jumbled imagery in his head. Worse case scenario … oh hell no, he wasn’t even going to contemplate that. He’d burn that bridge if they came to it, but until then, there was no point in worrying about it.
What else could he do? Sometimes even a supposed “Higher” had to admit they were fucked.