28 December 2006

A Home for Christmas

Dear Sarge,

You missed quite a Christmas dinner. Smitty has as much talent with the stove as he does with communications equipment. Apparently, he has a new friend, Ulrike, who helped him prepare the meal. She is rather tall and of a fair complexion. Tolstoy would say she “was a handsome woman.”

We told her I was an exchange student from the University of Toronto studying prostitution management.

The two made goose with Rotkohl and Kloesse. Bless her heart, she made the Kloesse from scratch with Semmelwuerfel in the middle. And the gravy? I’d kill for that gravy. Then again, I’d kill for a lot of things. In fact, I have.

Does all of the death around us dehumanize us? Are we monsters or heroes? I asked this to Smitty, and he handed me a beer and some photos from Ranger.

Ranger has sent me photos of Deseilligny’s remains. Other than making them wallet size I am not sure what he expects me to say. It is difficult to interpret the photos without being there. There is a definite lack of insect infestation on the body. This leads me to believe that 1) the body is extremely fresh, 2) it has been somehow preserved (i.e. embalming) or 3) Deseilligny is as distasteful in death as he was in life.

It would be advisable to send the remains to HQ if possible. If not, a dental casting may help positively identify the remains. If I remember correctly, a cast was made from Tomaszewicz’s midsection after being bitten by Deseilligny.

Ottawa is quiet at the moment. The red snow falls loudly on the tundra. The young colt carries many fleas.

Be safe.


27 December 2006

In Which Sarge Calls Down the Rain and it is Snow Snow Snow...


What is left? I had taken a coffee cup from Aglionby's sink, dried it and threw some bullets in it; the cup sat at my feet and I leaned against the wall, looking out at the slow traffic of the holiday. I thought about Nwargo in Africa, I thought stupidly, "it's warmer there" and let my thoughts wander across the landscape of the last few months and then further back toward thoughts I need hardly describe. Idly I looked at the colors that drifted by under the window, from even just five floors up, people are reduced to the colors they wear and a few identifying features. "What tells me who I must kill?" I thought. Aglionby didn't have an answer for that.

I didn't either.

I started to get hungry from the boredom. I didn't dare leave the window and I could feel an old hunger return. It creeped up from my blood into my thoughts, and then it was in my pores. I was sweating, the corpse was beginning to smell. I knew Aglionby had a few faults, it was an idle thought.

Still people walked by to their relatives, to their friends, for meals together, for opening presents; Aglionby smelled. If there was a clock it would have counted the hours but there were only the shadows falling into the apartment, now longer. I thought about her smiling at that judge, he was a good man. I was happy for her.

Out the window nothing changed. I could feel the urge, I could smell it past the corpse. I knew he had some. I knew it was here, in the apartment where I had killed him. I needed to look out the window, to focus. I had seen it on his arms. The winters are long here, his assignment had undoubtedly bored him and the women, if they don't challenge, don't long interest. From his file, he must have never learned this about women; he must have been going out of his mind. There was nothing about tracks in his file though, it must have been a recent development: something to make the nights go away.

Let me tell you something about the thing that enslaves you, it is always interesting. It's never the same old thing. I thought about her and what had happened after dinner with the judge. I looked away from the window, appraising the room. Aglionby was sprawled out, there was a shelf with a jar, house keys splayed next to it with a keychain from the Space Needle. Fate with its obvious sense of humor, a tracing of our weaknesses like laughing at a man tripping over a rock. I looked in the jar: nothing: some change. A pencil. I settled back against the wall, looking out across the street. Nothing. The weak sun of afternoon was already beginning to fade, in an hour there would be no light, and then what?

I sat there for a few minutes trying to clear my mind. Suddenly I was exhausted. I wished Nwargo was here and looked at the corpse on the bed. His boots were Russian, there was a backpack in a corner near the bed: the eternal student. I looked in the bag, I had been trying not to because I knew what I would find there. Nobody would stop me. I tried to fool myself. I looked out the window, but wouldn't they have come by now? By now they must have had some idea that if I was anywhere, I was here. Aglionby had been dead for some hours now. Would they dare wait for night?

With my talent for escape?

I found the stuff I needed to fix, but not the stuff itself. I knew where to look for that too.

I started with his pants pockets. Nothing. The usual things. Gingerly I rolled him over a little, the bed was streaked and puddled with blood; I found his breast pocket. The baggie hadn't let the blood in but it was greasy, I was shaking and it was hard to open it right. Everything smeared. I felt sick. I looked out the window. Nothing. My hands were shaking. I thought of Greenville, the Sinoe River, my last fix and the corpses there. They had floated like logs, colors of their shattered bodies and torn clothing muted by the river. When a thing is a corpse that is all that it looks like, but you know that. I didn't want the junk, but I had the fever. I was bored and scared, the last month had shattered me. What was this betrayal by Ottawa? What had happened to those villages in the Sahel? Her smile and the judge. The endless watchfulness, the double-crossing and wondering who knew what? I told the Spanish captain that I would come to Tallinn and that was it, he would say I was in Helsinki or that I had told him Helsinki but he guessed Minsk. What kindness there can be in this! But my hands were shaking, I didn't want to be who I was anymore. I didn't want this accumulation of lies and truth so that it hardly mattered anymore if this were Greenville or Tallinn, New York or Tokyo. I wanted it all to mean something, and if it couldn't, then it couldn't matter anymore. Ottawa left me out in the cold? Calrissian, who had recruited me years ago? I wanted a reason. I wanted payback.

The junk was bubbling. I let it bubble. I dropped the spoon and immediately cursed at myself. "Fool!" I said out loud. I leaned back against the wall, without even that to distract me now. My victory over the junk meant nothing to me, a noble but meaningless gesture. I would probably still die before the next sunrise. But I refused to die a slave and I refused to die with my belly up to the French pursuit. I found a stick of gum from God knows when in one of my pockets and stuck it in my mouth, waiting for them to appear.

Undoubtedly they would be shadows. Clouds obscured the slipping sun and the snow began, ever so gently, to fall. The snow caught the light from windows and streetlights that slowly blinked on, awakening to the night. I only felt my tears then, when I thought that I loved this earth more than anything. It is good that we can still feel this way, Cpl.

It is late, I must conclude for now before I bore you completely, but you must indulge me to continue with my narrative when I am next continuing this present journey. There is a morning train, and I will try and continue it then, but I know you wait in Berlin for news of me. You have found some of that news here.

Barking like a dog? Quick thinking Cpl., it has saved me once or twice as well. Indeed, man's best friend!

without further delay,

I remain,


26 December 2006

Ranger - The snail


Ramirez guided me to an enclave outside of Oaxaca where support for the Emperor has not waned, and where a rare book store offered us many treasures - including a second print edition history of the Pastry War. I believe you will find the book quite interesting. I apologize for the blood stains. Other brown calf-skin bound pages held memories of untold numbers of cigarillos commingled with the writings of the great French masters.

I spent my Christmas trying to figure out what the hell happened to Deseilligny. I long to believe that his death was a good omen, but I cannot when he did not face a commando in the moment of truth. It, and rough seas soured my dinner, at least to the extent that lutefiske can be soured. The mail is slow to reach Corporal in the mountains and I cannot imagine you are in a safer place.

Mercerier was in Mexico for Dia De Los Muertos. Though he is long gone, his imprint on Oaxaca is clear. Starting with the book seller. He confronted me between the stacks, taking note of my interest in Tartuffe and The Learned Ladies, asking whether I would prefer the Spanish or English translation. When I told him my preference was the original French, his face dropped. The sickly green fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling began to flicker as if on cue. The look in his eyes changed from skeptical curiosity to something more martial. He motioned to me to stay and promised he had an antiquities book shelf which he thought would be more to my liking, He then falsely sauntered away, navigating the delicate labyrinthine shelves of the shop, towards a rear egress.

Ramirez was there to meet him. When the book seller unsheathed a small .380 ACP pistol, Ramirez closed the distance, pulling him in by his arm and near simultaneously drawing a knife under his belly. He knocked the man’s draw arm against the bookshelf, which wavered with the blow. The gun and entrails fell to the floor. As the moment stretched out, I had closed the distance and found my hand over the booksellers mouth and my knife to his neck. I felt him trying to scream obscenities before he instead decided to relieve his pain by biting down hard on the blade of my hand. I felt the blood began to flow and brought the knife closer. In a second I realized the situation was too far gone, and that we were already going to be cleaning up a mess, rather than getting information. I ended it.

But Ramirez, clever haruspex bastard, had an idea. Did I mention he was part Mixtec? He started in with the intestines, apparently after he noted a half-eaten snail. There can’t be too many places in town that are selling escargots. Wilson and Heath, back at the safe house, begin the search.

Meanwhile, I am stuck here dragging the book dealer to the back room, setting out wet floor signs and mopping the floor. Ramirez took over the register when another customer walked in less than ten minutes after tonight’s soiree. Strange to see him with the wire rimmed glasses he found in a drawer set upon his nose, struggling to give advice about Ochoa. I smile at the customers and try and explain the blood on the floor by pointing at my heavily bandaged hand. The floor is dark with blood, slick and dangerous now that the overhead light has gone out.

After the customers leave, Ramirez takes great pleasure in asking me if the Royal Ontario Museum was burning, would I rather rescue a painting or a cat. Art is but an imitation of life. And besides the changes to the museum look like hell. I'm not sure I wouldn't just watch the whole place burn down from the McDonald's across the street.


25 December 2006

In Which Sarge Wishes Peace to His Comrades and to the Demons...


Here it was, they say, that Kalev's grieving wife made for him a burial mound some one thousand years ago, this hill of Toompea dominates the central geography of Tallinn and there it is, in that apartment, just off Dunkri, I thought one day I might surprise another who has grieved, perhaps with pastries from down the street and an omelet made with whatever looked nicest at the market, perhaps other days with a bottle of wine and a picnic basket. A grief that has been the foundation for castles and governments, this hill of Toompea, and I'm writing holed up in some junior efficiency apartment wondering if I have the scope on correctly. Wondering if I have ascertained the angle of the sun correctly so that I won't give myself away, but I fear Cpl., that I may already have.

Tallinn has been one disaster after another, and I wonder now how many enemies have made their way here to watch my death and to perhaps assist in it? Still, there is this junior efficiency, with it's refrigerator stocked with sausages and pickles and a half a bottle of vodka on one of the two windowsills, the corpse of Aglionby keeps me company, sprawled out across a dorm bed probably carted overland from Vilnius where he studied seven years ago. He is not the catch that Deseilligny was, but his soon to be worm-eaten hands will count no more money toward his vile cause and the information he had on me dies with him, unspoken save by my own lips: I am in Tallinn.

They suspect though, and they gather, and if they find that the woman might still be a useful bargaining chip and is still here, then I am done for. I need to know things that I cannot know fast enough about my own position but all I think of is yesterday I saw her smiling over dinner with another man, a judge. Maybe the only honest judge in Latvia. I re-read Ranger's missive, delivered by the old flower-peddler with seven fingers who served other, more desperate causes a few generations ago. It offers grim hope though, if Ramirez is right then there is a thaw in Ottawa and this might not all be for naught.

I am writing with the regrettable news that I will not be able to make it to dinner in Berlin tonight, but I will wish you anyway, the warm hopes and yes, the faith that is Christmas. Please send the same regards to Ranger and Nwargo, I have odd company for Christmas this year, but perhaps next year will offer more convivial company and more edible repast.

With fondest regards,


Ranger - Sand and surf.


Your Autumn suspicions are confirmed. No doubt you too have noted the world service has picked up word that the French are withdrawing their special forces from Afghanistan. Resolve!

A French prison is pessimism. And that is what we have found, along with Yarborough. On our approach it was clear there was no continuing presence here. The jungle and sea air are engaged in the danse macabre with scents of heat rot and decaying fish. And over the remains of the old geol that same wind drives a tricolour.

Yarborough is not the turncoat, as I feared. We found him here, in the oubliette, chained to the wall, long dead. The heat here does horrible things to the body and there is no way for us to tell how many suns have set since he left our troupe. As if to mock us, the window above where he spent his final moments allowed the midday sun to shine into his cell, and on the window ledge a rooster statue was placed. Its shadow cast as a reminder for the dead and the living. On the wall, we were able to translate the Baudelaire:

If rape, poison, dagger, burning,
Have still not embroidered their pleasant designs
On the banal canvas of our pitiable destinies,
It's because our souls, alas, are not bold enough!

Deseilligny did this. But there is little need for me to reward his bloodlust with vengeance for we found what remains of him as well. He died thirty meters from the main entrance to the prison. I’m certain he had been moved for our benefit. We found defensive wounds of the right radius and ulna, with the hands removed. Heath discovered the plate and screws in his ankle where you long ago shattered it. Otherwise, I doubt we would have been able to make an identification. I have sent photos to Corporal of these and other conditions to see whether he has any further insight. No whit of information as to what happened, although we can discern that there was a sizeable encampment here. They make no effort to hide their numbers.

We cut Yarborough down and buried him in the Atlantic today. Not my first choice, given he was from Vancouver. He was a MARCOM man before he was called to serve in The Regiment. To his family, I believe we are closer to the eighth anniversary of his death. I hope they have work for snipers in heaven.

My unit is in need of medical attention. We will finish our reconnoiter of this area and then return to civilization. I have a man, Ramirez, already working in Mexico. He reports – the Lady Jane Gray lay in clean green sheets. Godspeed.


24 December 2006

Building Snowmen

I brought Alan and Henry to the ridge overlooking Kukes in the early afternoon. They took out binoculars and mumbled to each other while scoping out the city. The wind pushed ice floes across the narrow lake and carried banks of clouds crashing into the mountain ridge, periodically obscuring the view of the snowy valley below us. Alan turned and barked, “Wait for us here.” Henry tossed me a bottle of Vodka, “Stay and watch our packs. We’ll be back in the morning.” I grinned and opened the bottle, taking a long pull to their satisfaction.

Down the narrow ridge they set off, the setting sun illuminating their way.

There was no cover on their path to Kukes. Completely exposed, they were confident that they were safe. They had believed my ruse and their voices chided me inside my head, telling jokes of finding a frozen drunkard upon their return up the ridge: “Take one fifth of vodka and mix with one Macedonian. Allow to chill overnight. Serve in a frosted glass.”

Hubris tainted their judgment and they never looked behind to notice that a mountain sheep followed.

If they had been careless regarding me, they proved their abilities infiltrating this city of smugglers. As dusk approached they grew bolder and moved more quickly through the blocks of prefabricated buildings. They approached a dimly illuminated doorway where an old man with a newspaper smoked on an upturned paint drum. As I concealed myself in a pile of scrap metal opposite the courtyard, they handed him something. The old man disappeared inside, closing the door behind him. The two waited outside nervously, aware they were being observed and obviously uncomfortable about it.

A hand grasped my shoulder. I wheeled and snapped the offender’s neck before I realized it was an old woman wrapped in a shawl. The scrap tumbled and betrayed my location. The two were no longer in the doorway.

I barked like a dog.

There was no movement.

The babushka’s shawl smelled of piss, brown coal, and onions. I wrapped it around my head and hobbled over to the door where moments ago my quarry had waited.

The snow beneath my feet announced, “Here he comes!” In plain view I stopped and doubled over with a consumptive cough, supporting myself with her walking stick.

I knocked at the door. The old man’s narrowed eyes peered through the crack. I mumbled something and began coughing again. The door opened wider and the walking stick crushed his trachea then sent the other guard’s pistol flying. His cry was cut off with an uppercut.

No alarm sounded in the dim hallway. I followed my ears to a closed door where a heated discussion was underway. As I pressed my ear to the door, the latch failed and I fell into the middle of the room.

The room was silent. “Borka?” Henry’s confused expression mirrored his voice. Alan was not curious why his mountain guide suddenly appeared on the floor and used the distraction to grab a canister on the table and draw his pistol. Gunfire erupted in the room as I somersaulted away. Alan darted into the hallway but crumpled, still clutching the canister. Henry was screaming. There was a shot, then silence.

I entered the room and ensured that all parties to the prior negotiation were reunited at the bargaining table, joints placed at festive angles.

The canister contained Polonium.

For whom? For what?

All assembled carried multiple passports: Albanian, U.S., Russian, English, French, Serbian, German, Turkish – a United Nations of dead smugglers.

There was no time to investigate further and there were still two travelers waiting to be escorted to their destination…

The snow and Bill’s ankle had forced the two men to descend into the village. Everyone in the village knew of the two foreigners and where they were staying. Now I knew as well. I recruited a young boy to take the canister to the guests and tell them it was a gift from Borka. He dutifully marched off to the house.

At night I set the house ablaze. A steady wind caused the fire to spread beyond my intended target. The village alarm was sounded and people rushed to and fro trying to extinguish the blaze. Bill limped out into the street. I emerged from hiding to engage him and a bullet grazed my left shoulder. I retreated back into the shadows. Gene lay down an excellent cover fire while Bill limped to take up position. Gene then appeared, covered in soot, but Bill’s cover fire hindered my movement. I was pinned down. They would maneuver themselves until they had a clear shot at me. Hastily, I scraped a pile of snow together; returned fire then put my jacket and hat on my snow-doppelgaenger. Shivering, I moved back and watched bullets pierce my jacket. Gene approached cautiously. Before he could discover the ruse, I shot him. He lay groaning for a moment, then there was a flash and I was knocked back.

My ears rang as I scrambled to my feet and hid once again in the shadows. I had the advantage of mobility over Bill and I began scrambling in a half circle to put the fire between him and me as to give me a better shot.

Bill leaned against the wall and drank. His head darted left and right, peering into the shadows, searching for me.

He yelled into the night, “Who are you?”

“Canada.” I whispered into his ear as I cut his throat.

I am making my way back to Berlin as I write. The recovered canister is in my possession, although I do not know what to do with it. General Calrissian has been notified, but no orders as to its future have been given.

Stop by for Christmas Dinner if you can. It would be good to see you again, and Smitty is cooking goose.


18 December 2006

Ranger - Through the lens

What a strange turn we have taken. We continue towards Devil’s Island. Indications so far are good that we have picked up a trail. Unfortunately, the jungle has collected its toll. Heath and Wilson now fight malaria.

There is no civilization within a 80 kilometers of our current position and so we have had some time to speak freely. Guiana is an inhuman place indeed. And our communication itself is bad air. I would liken it to Conrad, but I cannot disabuse myself of the notion that it is we who have brought evil to this place and not the converse. Wilson, perhaps affected by his malaria, questions me – “Is it possible we have escaped from the dark canopy of the jungle and found only more darkness?” I think our night vision supports his conclusion.

Every night at dusk we enter our shadow world, gathering the information we can and destroying the rest on the edge of a machete. Every hour is filled with long shadows and long knives. Thoughts erupt like muzzle flashes, how do we gain knowledge when we have come to kill rather than ensnare? Though I recognize that men like Devenuelle, Deseilligny, and Mercerier cannot be left alive long enough to bite down hard on the cyanide capsules I have no doubt they carry. In the case of Devenuelle, as you know, I hope the last thing he remembers was your face. Standing next to his assassin, the sand beginning to sting his eyes, the warmth of his essence running down his chest and out of his extremities with not even the desert sun able to restore it. And that he choked on that memory.

We brush past leaves, past signs of archaic encampments and I find my mind drifting back to training in Yellowknife. And most unusual of all, longing for a dime store Scotch Egg. Hope things are well with both of you. Once we have cleared here, we will conduct our own investigation of the cold trail in Oaxaca.

17 December 2006

In Which Sarge Traces the Bullet...


Again Estonia: the old sow of a country full of guns and the smell of its occupiers, from the Swedes and the Poles to the Nazis and the Soviets. I made it into Virtsu looking over my shoulder and I knew Tallinn was next. Tallinn of the dreams and the doubts, a fog in my imagination out of which I could conjure the wonders and the terrors of what I have known. It is in the oddest places that we stash our hopes and fears, and while there is little anymore of faith, what faith there is, why does it end up where it does?

From Virtsu, its corrupted shores slick with industrial ooze and the sky above coughing with smoke, I took an afternoon train to Tallinn so I could get in before the shadows I feared, before they might meld with the night. Cpl., I tell you now, I did not want to be there but we go where the trail is. And it is the only way, after all, nobody wants to be where we end up, but we want to be the ones who go there. Ranger himself ends up in the jungles of one continent and you and I in the sewers of another. This whole time though, I feel weighted down by the oppression of a conscience that doubts I can be the tool of a righteous cause. I long now for the relative stability of my life in Africa, where Nwargo was always sure to take measure of my moods and find ways of placating me. I am over the edge here and of course, SHE is here. Well, she had to be somewhere but I thought I would be safe in Riga. That somehow in this desperate scramble, the one place I wouldn't end up was that place I dream of when I don't dream of Africa. Fate mocks however, and I'm sure the sound most of us will hear at our deaths is a soft rustle of laughter: here I am, in Tallinn.

I avoided Tallinn, looked for anywhere else I could make my way to the truth, but that time is over. The old city, the dignified port with it's twisting and cobbled roads, the undercurrent everywhere of the idea that anything here could happen. All the nations come to Tallinn, though they would like to pretend they are of other, larger, more sophisticated locales - when the fights break out at the bars near the wharves the business of nations is settled there; Tallinn itself is concerned with larger matters, and right now there are a lot of guns in Tallinn. Where there are guns, there is money, and where there are both, there are the French Separatists.

This is where the deals go down, and where I thought I might be happy one day.

Those days are no more, but there it is. From Riga I knew it would be to Tallinn because everybody there wanted to pretend it wasn't so. The informants were saying the Black Sea and the agents who sell are still insisting on Moscow. Moscow? That haunt of overripe discos and the paunches of 30 year old billionaires retreating into the infantile antics of the supremely pampered with their private armies like so many Tybalts and not a Mercutio among them? I have nothing but disgust for anybody who could convince me there is anything of value for me there at all. In the back of their voices I found the whisperings of Tallinn that, in their chatter, they desperately tried to mask, but finally, one night, by a fountain in Riga I found the one person who told me that what I heard was not my own fears and hesitancies in those whispers, but the almost indistinguishable sound of truth. To hesitate any longer, the informant said, meant discovery of my actual identity with those who could bring death. I had trusted this particular informant for years though he had never given me much in the way of usable information. I cultivated the relationship out of respect and out of hope, and now there was the pay-off, he knew I had no friends now anywhere near: he was it. No place that was not out in the cold, and he knew too the Canadians and the French both, being himself a lonely Spaniard. He is a captain of a freightor that knows its way too well around places like Vladivostick, Murmansk and the Orkneys, and of course he, like me, knows the fever of Africa.

He told me Calrissian was being filled with doubts by some of the politicos at Ottawa, particularly one, meanwhile the French are angry I disrupted the pipelines they had established in Chad that stretched out through Sierra Leone, the Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia and are working hard to pay their respects. Now, was the time, he advised, to enter into the den of the lions. It was how I found myself on a train trying to pretend it was the most natural thing in the world to look for death, and also, that it was the most natural thing in the world for a Commando, battle-tested as I was, to be tracing my tears onto the begrimed windows of a slow-moving train.

With all this information of the Spanish captain's to digest, I thought instead of an afternoon not so long ago really, spent wandering the shores and then the forests just outside Tallinn with her. I fell into sentimental reveries of what might have been, these last few weeks on the edge of my thoughts like so many darker clouds that the fog of my reverie kept momentarily at bay. Perhaps I allowed myself, in that brief moment, to grieve for the self that was lost to this calling, to this training, and finally to my own weaknesses which drive me and push me more than they should.

I never got used to the plosive sounds of the Russian-made rails though, and along the way I was finally jarred from my wandering thoughts, and now I am here in Tallinn, already the whisperings I am hearing tell me this is where I needed to be all the time. Slowly I feel the confidence of the professional, doing what he must do, returning to me. It has been a busy evening.

Tell Calrissian this, though he won't believe you yet, there is a mole. Deep and trusted, a comfortable mole but one not complacent. Tell him I am in Asia if you can. I know it is risky to you, but we risk for each other my friend. And the favor I ask now might well save both of us.

If you don't hear from me in the next week, make sure what I have enclosed here makes it to Nwargo, who besides you, is my most trusted confidant. Tell also, to Ranger, that Mercerier has a weakness for rare editions of Molière and the French Symbolists, especially Verlaine.

Wasn't it Verlaine who wrote of the autumn song? It is winter now, and my heart must steel itself, for the buffeting of fate has begun, and though I progress well and have some optimism, I know too the furies are about: my own, and theirs. My misgivings keep me in a state of sleeplessness, and I fear what mistakes in judgment I have already made.

All about us the clocks are against us, but we have been in tighter spots, and if the time for zeroes is now, the game has been a good one, and I think more than fair to me.

Cpl., I remain

your most trusting servant,


06 December 2006

Ranger in.

I arrived in Caracas last week. Thank you for the tickets to the Leones game. It brought back memories of our last Expos game down to the smoked meat sandwiches. How long it has been. I spoke with the vendor outside the stadium as you suggested, however, his look of confusion after I asked him about the guinea pigs necessitated an immediate fracture of his (C-2) vertebra.

We make our way to Bagne de Cayenne slowly. The jungle hardens soldiers. Each river, swamp, and insect gnawing away tallow from sinew, both dulling and sharpening sensations. Obviating the need to focus on anything other than survival. If Mercerier is not here then he is soft. The embers of soldiers I see in this squad evidence recognition of the destruction and renewal of our surroundings and show appreciation for their application to the world of men. I question why only the Foreign Legion continues to train here. We were able to interdict some unrelated smuggling operations en route. I will say they have a wonderful operational system. And they had quite a perimeter set up around their manufacturing facility. We tracked two American surveillance planes which seemed to focus on locating their lab. How quaint. We poisoned two wells in the village before moving on.