E-Mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; theNotes: Takes place shortly after the "X Men" movie, and "Fearless".
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!
As deserts went, it had its moments: the sunsets could be spectacular, the wide and empty sky melting into a hundred different shades of orange, streaks of red bleeding in when the pollution haze blew in from Monterrey. Some of the barrel shaped cacti in the surrounding plains would occasionally bloom, with yellow or red flowers nestled between the hair like white spines, and the place would seem almost liveable for a little while. Almost.
But mostly it was just sand, a dingy brownish tinged gold, stretching off towards far hills that were a more dung colored, depressing brown, while the daytime sky was such a pale, washed out blue it was more ivory than anything else. Sometimes there was nothing to do but put drops of booze on the scorpions and watch them sting themselves to death, but even that got boring after a few weeks. This was sunbaked, desolate nothing, and Murdoch wondered why the hell he'd ever come to Mexico. A gig was a gig, but this one had never made much sense - guard a building invisible to the naked eye in the middle of an empty desert, roughly fifty miles from the nearest sign of civilization, teamed up with a slob like Corso. There was only the two of them, and the fuck cheated at poker - like he wouldn't notice!
At least the building was always reasonably cool. Carved from slabs of granite with such precision that they didn't need any mortar or materials to hold it together, it was more like a crude mausoleum than the church it supposedly was. As for the not being seen, the guy who hired him, Craven, said it was some mystical "security system" or whatever the fuck, as this place was beyond holy and therefore a "treasure" for sacrilegious plunderers. Well, Murdoch had poked around, and had never seen anything resembling a treasure, unless the ugly gargoyle like statuary was worth something on the black market.
And nothing ever happened to break the monotony. He was hoping some of those supposed "threats" would manifest themselves, but they never did. So it was day after day of getting drunk and playing cards with a dirty rotten cheater, and hoping for some major threat to come down on their heads so he could actually do something more exciting than listen to his own stubble grow.
Finally, the day came when something unusual appeared, and yet it was more and less than he expected.
Wavering in the heat of the blasted desert like mirages, there were three figures walking straight towards their unseen location, and there was no way in hell they were locals.
Two figures clad head to foot in black flanked a white guy with no shirt on, wearing only jeans and hiking boots and a belt with a metal buckle that glinted hard in the sunlight. The guy should have been sunburnt redder than a beet, and possibly dead of sunstroke by now - it was a hundred and twenty in the shade, and there was no fucking shade out there, and the nearest paved road was twenty miles back - but the guy was just sweaty and deeply tanned. He was built too; toned upper body, sizable arms, and a flat stomach just one can short of six pack abs, so he guessed he was a weightlifter or some shit. he had something slung over his back - his shirt, and ... a leather jacket? In this heat? No fucking way. What was a weightlifter doing out in the middle of the Mexican desert? And who the fuck were those two weirdos with him?
It looked like they were wearing those full body black veils he'd seen Arab women on the t.v. wear - what the hell were they called? Some kind of foreign name. They must have been near death themselves under those things, roasting in their own juices, but they showed no signs of heat fatigue either.
What the fuck was this shit? What was a white guy doing with two fanatical Muslim chicks in the middle of nowhere?
As soon as he decided it wasn't a mirage, he went back to the main room of the 'church", and told Corso they had company. Corso was sitting with his feet up on the folding card table, gnawing on a stick of beef jerky and watching a Mexican soap opera on the portable television, and seemed so caught up in the problems of Pilar and Rodrigo he didn't seem to hear him at first. Finally his tiny blue eyes scudded up to him, and he stopped chewing on his jerky stick. "What?"
"I said we got company. I think."
"Either we do or we don't."
He sighed in frustration. "Look, there's some freaks out there - you tell me if they are or aren't comin' for us."
Corso let his rattlesnake boots thunk to the stone floor, and put his jerky chew on the table, not bothering to turn off the t.v. before he followed him out into the small excuse for a front room, where two square holes cut into the wall, on either side of the heavy stone door, served as windows. Corso studied the figures, now much more clearly defined in spite of the heat shimmers, and suggested, "Maybe the caravan for a circus sideshow broke down."
"That guy has the worst hat hair I've ever seen.But where's his hat?" He wondered, pushing his own cowboy hat back on his head.
"What's with the Islamic chicks?"
"Maybe he's a eunuch." Corso straightened up, chuckling at his own joke, and said, "Anything could be hiding under those cowls."
Murdoch was pretty sure they weren't called cowls, but since he didn't know the right name, he kept his mouth shut. "So it's trouble?"
Corso didn't reach for the automatic pistol tucked into a holster clipped to the back of his pants; he went for semi-automatic sub machine gun he kept propped up in the corner. He had a lot of odd things stacked there, including a sawed off shotgun, a cattle prod, and a baseball bat. "They do seem to be headed right for us, and that guy don't look like he sells Amway."
"No," Murdoch agreed, wondering which weapon he should pull. He finally decided his .45 Magnum was good enough.
Corso positioned himself at the right side window, sub machine gun braced against the sill, and Murdoch knelt in front of the left side window, pulling his Magnum and resting the gun butt against the cool stone sill. If this was a charge, it certainly was an unhurried one. But the guy didn't look all that happy, although traveling with religious chicks would do that to a guy.
He could feel the tension knotting in his stomach the closer they came - by the time they were within ten feet of them, his hands were so sweaty he could barely keep hold of his gun. Why weren't they doing anything? Were they really just odd but innocent victims who had stumbled into the wrong patch of desert?
"Corso," he whispered, shooting a look at him. He seemed as cool as ice, totally focused on his targets, sharp face even sharper in the glow of sunlight, and never looked at him.
"Take it easy. Set a target, go for it on my mark."
"What if we're wrong? Or what if ... what if they're like us?"
"Then we completely open up on 'em."
That didn't answer his question. In fact it made the butterflies
in his stomach flutter that much harder.
And the millisecond he said that, the guy said something to the women, and took off running towards them, like he'd heard Corso just give the order to fire.
The weird shit got weirder.
The chicks in the robes seemed to defy gravity - they leapt straight up towards the roof of the supposedly unseen church, and he could almost swear he heard them scrambling up the sides of the smooth walled building. That settled it - they had to be mutants.
Corso strafed the guy good - he heard the bullets thud into the guy like he was a fucking car, but he kept on running full force towards the door, only now he was bellowing in rage, blood rising in a red mist around him as Murdoch saw the holes torn in his chest.
Something silver glinted in his hands. No, they were coming from his hands, like knives wedged between his fingers, and he had never seen him pull them out.
The door was heavy stone, and difficult to open even with his mutant enhanced strength, so he didn't see what good this guy's knives were gonna do. And he was still thinking that even as the man's knives burst through the one foot thick stone door.
He was a mutant too, wasn't he? Shit - no wonder they weren't concerned. They knew they could take this place without much trouble.
Just then, the women jumped down, right in front of the windows.
Murdoch saw enough of the black blur to reel back, and while the woman grabbed the muzzle of his gun he didn't fight her for it, even though he knew he was probably stronger than her - he may have had enhanced strength, but he had no idea what her gifts were.
Corso wasn't so lucky. He held onto his sub-machine gun as that other woman grabbed it, and for it she smashed his head down on the bridge of his nose, making it break with a noise like a rifle shot. He made a noise that was half startled, half pained, and stumbled backwards sans gun, grabbing at his bloody noise. He did have the wherewithal to shout the emergency phrase Craven had told them to use if everything went diddly shit: "Locuna ran mal deimos!"
As far as Murdoch could tell, nothing happened, except knife guy was kicking out chunks of the door he had completely demolished, and then he was inside, bloody, snarling ... and oh god, his skin was moving.
No, not it wasn't. For a moment it looked that way, but it was just healing over so rapidly it looked like his skin was actually crawling. In spite of all the blood now splattered over his chest and arms, Murdoch could clearly see the entry wound holes sealing shut, and a couple actually expelled the bullets that got stuck in his body; they hit the floor with a metallic noise, like falling pennies.
And now the guy look pissed. Really pissed. "What the hell kind of welcome is that?" He snarled, nostrils flaring, face matted with his own blood. He looked something less than Human, and even though Murdoch was relatively sure he could send this guy flying with one punch, he wasn't sure he wanted to make him more pissed off than he already was. He had a suspicion it wasn't conducive to your health.
The women were inside too. They had thrown the guns outside into the sand, which, again, he didn't consider a good sign - they didn't think they needed them to take them on.
"Asshole!" Corso said, and flexed, throwing his fist across the room and cracking the guy right across the jaw. That was Corso's mutation - he could become elastic, and stretch himself to fantastic proportions. He didn't like to do it to often, though, as he said it hurt once he got beyond a "reasonable length". Murdoch had no idea what a "reasonable length" was, but had no desire to find out.
Whether he was all elastic or not, one of them women hit him in the back of the head and he obviously felt it, as his arm snapped back to original length and he stumbled forward, nearly going head first into the wall. And that's when the ugly ass gargoyle statues joined them.
Normally they were about a foot high, made of the same grey granite as everything else. But now not only were they somehow alive, but six feet tall, green, and even uglier than before, with muzzles like gars and grey eyes like horizontal slits in their grotesquely misshapen heads. They slashed out at the women with their gnarled hands, and one grabbed knife guy by the arm and threw him into the stony embrace of one of his pals.
Murdoch sunk back against the wall and simply watched, not sure
what the hell was going on, but glad
The women teamed up on one gargoyle, one grabbing it from behind while the other twisted his head off like a bottle cap, proving they had some pretty enhanced strength too. As for knife guy, he jammed his knives into the gargoyle that had him and ripped them in separate directions, cutting the thing in half. As its body parts hit the ground, they shattered into stone.
As the women and the guy made short work of the gargoyles, not even blinking at the oddity of it all, Corso stretched out his arm and grabbed something from the weapons pile in the corner. He then shoved it in his hands, and Murdoch saw he'd given him the baseball bat. "Make yourself useful, strong guy," he snapped, grabbing something from the pile for himself. He reeled his arm back too fast for him to see what he had.
Just then, a fight with a gargoyle had thrown one of the women in his path, her back to him, and he seriously hoped there wasn't a woman under there - or a mutant. He hated fighting fellow mutant ... but fuck if he didn't need the money Craven was paying for this otherwise boring gig. Murdoch swung the bat, putting all his strength behind it, and he was surprised the woman's head didn't go flying across the room.
The bat snapped cleaning in half, one part of it flying away, and the woman dropped to her knees, grabbing her head. Weirdly enough, the other woman did the exact same thing at the same time, as if he had hit them both.
He then heard knife guy roar like an aggrieved lion, and he looked just in time to see he was swinging the upper half of a stone gargoyle's body at him, as if it was a weapon and not a semi-living thing.
'I hate fighting mutants,' Murdoch thought again, just as the torso of the gargoyle slammed into his face and knocked all the consciousness right out of him.
Shit, strength was a dime a dozen among mutants, and even then they usually had something else too. Look at the shirtless hat hair guy - he had to be stronger than he looked, he could take bullets, and he had those pig stickers in his hands. That was powers multi-tasking.
He didn't know about the skirts - they seemed pretty strong, but what was it with Murdoch beaning one and both of them going down?
The stone gargoyle shattered against Murdoch's head and sent him flying back into the far wall before he collapsed face first to the floor, flat out and completely useless. Hair guy busied himself fighting the other gargoyles, but it was obvious they weren't much of a challenge for him. So Corso bided his time, waited, and as soon as the last stone gargoyle shattered on the floor, he flicked out his arm, lengthening it in a snap ( fuck, that hurt ), and jammed the activated cattle prod right in the guy's balls.
He didn't see it coming, and had no time to react. He screamed in pain and hit the floor like a sack of hammers. "Damn straight that hurts," he admitted, as the guy struggled to breathe. "A cattle prod in the balls will stop a charging bull dead in his tracks. Believe me, I know - I grew up on a cattle ranch."
Corso set the prod back in its corner, but seeing the girls both struggling to their feet, he elongated both his arms and wrapped them solidly around their delicate necks, about an ounce of pressure away from strangling them, and helped them up to their feet. "Play nice and I won't kill you," he said, a sort of partial truth. They were going to play nice, and they were going to die anyways.
The guy on the floor made a sort of gagging noise, but still didn't have the strength to get to his feet or move just yet. Yeah, a few tens of thousands of volts to the nuts would do that to a guy.
"Let's see your pretty faces, huh?" He said, stretching his hands up to remove their heavy veils. It really hurt to stretch his fingers - he could hear the elasticized bones crackling like fresh celery - but there was no way he was letting go of their necks. These bitches were strong; that was obvious.
He pulled back the black cowls to reveal not only were they females with unmutated faces, but they were young - girls. And identical twin brunettes at that. He couldn't help but feel a bit aroused as unfulfilled sexual fantasies rose to the forefront of his mind. "You gals legal?" He wondered, hoping they'd answer in the negative. They looked sixteen at the oldest - prime for picking.
They both grinned at him, mismatched eyes ( one silver-blue, one hazel - gold, and in the exact same place on both of them ) shining, but not with fear - it looked more like hunger. Were they actually as turned on as he was? Cool. "No-" the one on his right said.
"-we're-" the other one echoed.
"-very illegal," the other one finished. Why the hell were they talking like this?
"Great." Yes, they were freaky as hell, but twins-teenage twins. Who could pass that up? "So why don't we-"
"-eat?" They interrupted him. "Great-"
And that's when their faces changed.
Their foreheads seemed to slide over eyes turned molten yellow, and too many teeth seemed to be crammed in their small mouths, lead by jagged, protruding fangs. Before he could react to this new and startling unattractive mutation, they turned in unison and sank their fangs into his neck.
He tried to move but found himself paralyzed as his arms snapped back to their usual length and type, and he could feel his blood leaving his body in a dizzying rush as they sucked it out. It should have been erotic, but it wasn't.
Corso had time to consider that maybe they weren't mutants before his vision faded to black.
He wanted to get up, he really did, but his body seemed to have just absolutely quit on him. Aftershocks of pain shuddered through his, fracturing his vision, and he found, if he just waited a few seconds in utter stillness, that the pain would slowly start to ebb.
And he had thought all those bullets slamming into him had been bad.
The asshole was a real sicko, getting turned on by having two female captives, unaware that they weren't as young as they looked ( they were what? About a hundred? ), and that he was actually the captive. Did anyone actually catch the Weird Sisters who didn't ( sometimes ) live to regret it? As much as he loathed going anywhere with the Loony Bin ( Amaranth's nickname was so apropos ), Bob thought they might be useful on this mission, and he had to admit it was nice to travel with people as naturally bullet proof as he was.
They had finally stopped playing with their food and bit him when Logan found the strength to move his hand, and propped himself up on his knees, his balls still radiating an unholy pain that made his legs feel like Jell-O. His claws must have retracted of their own accord, because they weren't out anymore. He knew he was supposed to keep the Sisters from unnecessary killing, but he honestly didn't care if they killed that prick - in fact, he hoped they did. An electrical shock to the balls? What kind of dirty fighter was he?
Finally they released their grip and he collapsed to the floor like a sack of garbage, his cowboy hat finally falling off and rolling away. The Sisters made a noise of disgust as they looked at each other, and said, "Ick."
"Beef - "
"Kill him?" He was surprised he could talk.
"No - "
"-for you." They said cheerfully, turning beaming smiles on him. Although they had gone back to their "normal" faces, they teeth and lips were still stained with blood, and that was a hell of a lot more creepy than their vamp faces.
He grunted in bitter acknowledgment of their joke ( it was a joke, right? ), and as he attempted to gather the strength to stand, they ripped off their sun protective burqas and revealed their oddball wardrobe of bright turquoise Hawaiian shirts, black and white striped capri pants, and tan lug boots. It was the most butt ugly outfit he had ever seen, but he knew the Sisters were like that. They seemed to have no fashion sense at all ( were they colorblind?), but exactly who was going to criticize them for it?
They came over and helped him to his feet, and not for the first time Logan wondered which one was Belinda and which one was Beatrice. Bob had said those were their names, and seemed to be able to tell them apart ( how? ), but if you asked them outright, they just said yes to both names. Insane and smart asses - what a combination.
They let him go, and he wrapped his arms protectively around his still aching chest, waiting to catch his breath before he moved again. The bullet wounds - healed but still there - ached, and his balls ached, and he really felt like sitting down before doing something as complicated as walking, but he knew they didn't have a lot of time to waste. And besides, did he really want to look wimpy in front of the Weirds? He had a feeling they capitalized on any weakness they could find, even if it was just out of habit. "Come on, let's find the fucking thing and get out of here," he growled, forcing himself to move. Since it was so cool in here, he considered going out and retrieving his dropped shirt and jacket, but fuck it - he'd grab them on the way out.
"-serve." They said, stealing Bob's occasional smart ass phrase.
This place was supposedly the "holy" sepulcher of a sorcerer named Arturo Gonzalez de la Vasquez ( sounded more like a Vegas stage magician ), who had supposedly been entombed with the Sword of Vardalos, which had killed him. Vardalos was a demon that took up a symbiotic but ultimately fatal relationship with sorcerers and sorceresses, a "familiar" who increased their powers but at the expense of gravely shortening their lifespans. The Sword of Vardalos was supposedly imbued with enough of its power to kill anything with the slightest touch.
Bob said that was a steaming pile of shit.
But there was an artifact of actual power and worth in his grave, but it was unknown to the Cult of Vardalos, that protected sites "sacred" to the demon and those it had "blessed" with its powers. And that was what he and the Weirds were here to collect.
He followed the Weirds into the main room of the mausoleum, which was furnished with a folding card table ( currently with a half eaten stick of beef jerky and a portable t.v. showing a Spanish soap opera on its top ) and two metal folding chairs. There was a cooler tucked into the far corner, but nothing else.
Logan shoved the table aside, making the jerky stick roll off, and knocked aside the chair on his side. "Is he grave under here?"
Bob warned him it was sealed beneath concrete, and he might not smell it; he was right, he just smelled the scents of the two living guards and the demonic inhabitants. The Weirds paced around the tiny room for a moment, staring down at the stone floor as if they could see through it. After a moment, they stopped in the middle of the room, and said, "Right-"
"You grabbin' shovels and joinin' me?"
They gave his stereo vacuous smiles that were infinitely creepy in their emptiness, and replied, "What-"
He gave them an evil look that he knew would have absolutely no effect on them, then got down on his knees, popped his claws, and started slicing through the stone.
It was after the first slash that he smelled what could only have been a moldering and long desiccated corpse, and he wasn't even through all the concrete yet. At least it was long past the bloated with noxious gases phase.
It didn't take that long to finally breach his grave, it just felt like it. And while they were absolutely no help at all as far as digging through the crap went, but to be fair they did remove some of the bigger slabs of rock and concrete as soon as he carved them away. He was glad he didn't put his shirt back on, because soon he was sweating like a pig again, and the cool mausoleum seemed hot.
Finally his claws cut through metal and wood, and the scent of stale decomposition hit his nose. He had to look away for a moment - even aged beyond true deliquescence, it was almost overwhelming to his sensitive nose - and as soon as he was sure he had it under control, he went back to clearing enough space to carve the casket open. "So Bob really thinks there's somethin' in here that'll help us find Ares and Kumiho, huh?" He knew this already, but he was just making conversation. The Sisters could stare at you in complete and utter silence for hours; they really loved their "cuter and creepier and deadlier than thou" schtick.
"So - "
"- he - "
"-says. And - "
"-Bob is - "
"-never wrong. Except - "
"-when he is."
He looked up at them, scowling. "Was that a joke?"
"Are - "
"-laughing?" They gave him those stereo grins again, the ones that always brought to mind the old Sex Pistols song "Pretty Vacant". But they were not dumb, and they were far from innocent; it was just their guise to lure in prey.
And they worked for the good guys? Well, in theory - there would always be something extremely evil about them. Perversely, he was sure that was why Bob liked them. Evil, yes, but extraordinarily effective.
Once he carved an opening in the hood of the coffin, they reached in the hole and helped him pull away the lid, revealing something that was more random collections of bone than actual skeleton, and a few black beetles climbed into the eye sockets of the skull, avoiding fresh air.
What may have once been the hands of Arturo Gonzalez de la Vasquez was roughly clasped around the jeweled hilt of a dull silver sword, now tarnished with age and the byproducts of decomposition. "Which one is it?" He asked them, not completely sure.
"-from the -"
He retracted all but one claw, and delicately used the tip to pry the jewel out of the setting. It popped out easily, as if eager to leave, and it was hard to believe that this thing, hardly bigger than a marble, would be the solution to their problem. Well, one of them anyways.
And hell, it goddamn better well be after all this trouble. Did Bob have any idea what it was like traveling in the Mexican desert with two cranky, crazy vampires, dressed like Ibn Saud's very fanatically repressed wives?
He stood up, holding the amber gemstone in fist, and retracted his claws. "Cover up, girls - we're outta here."
"-time." They sighed, as if this was all his fault.
Man - first chance he got, he was kicking Bob's ass over this.
Lau, the man mountain of a bartender, was standing placidly behind the bar, polishing a beer mug with a rag that was just mildly blood stained, and gave him and the Sisters a terse nod as they entered the scarcely populated bar/office/whatever the hell it was exactly. Hard to say; he'd been here quite a few times, and he still wasn't sure he understood everything that was going on under its roof.
"If I could, would you?" Bob howled along with the song, and then waved them over from his table in the back, where he was working on the ubiquitous iBook. The song ended, and kicked into a slightly less grungy song, although it was still way too loud. How did it not penetrate the mystical barrier? "I sense you got it. Good on ya," Bob said, throwing them a wink and a grin.
Logan sighed, and collapsed so heavily in a wooden chair that it almost gave way beneath him. "Yeah, i did, and I ain't takin' the Sisters into the desert anymore."
"You have pretty-"
"-nipples." They said, one of them trailing her fingernails on the back of his neck.
Bob laughed, and Logan rested his arms on the table before dropping his head onto them in a posture of defeat. Why couldn't he kill them again? Why? Just two snickts and he'd never be bothered by them again.
"Now girls, I thought I was the object of your affections," Bob replied, trying not to chuckle.
"-fun. He really-"
"-knows how to-"
"-show a girl a-"
"You say that about anybody who'll take you out brawlin'," Bob countered.
Bob chuckled again, and then suggested, "Why don't you help yourself to some cups of blood? You deserve it."
"Want - "
"Go away before I kill you," he muttered into the scarred tabletop.
One of them ran her hand through his hair. "You're-"
"-funny." They said, but thankfully he heard them walk away, towards the bar.
"I think someones are smitten," Bob said cheerfully.
Logan looked up at him, and gave him the deadliest glare he could muster. "If I ever have to buddy up with them again, one of us is going to die first."
Bob laughed again, even though he had to know he was serious."But they're crazy about you, mate. You can't buy that kind of loyalty."
"Okay, yeah, that's part of the package. But no one rides for free, right?" He raised an eyebrow at Logan's continued death glare, and wisely changed the subject. "So where's the talisman of Vardalos?"