Abdul was screaming, an endless wail of suffering that connected him horribly to a distant past of jealous gods and the harsh duties of desperate faiths. Africa hangs on to these gods even as it puts up cell towers and hunts those animals to extinction that once made this land sheer wonder even to those who would be Caesars. The rain fell in thick sheets, tearing at trees and pummeling the tall grass. I had carved a place in the mud for myself and set up a field of fire hoping to ride the storm into the morning, hoping it would not come to shooting, for if my place was discovered my final battle would be an empty gesture prelude to the cyniade pill. I felt for its vial and caressed it as one would a sad lover. I was wet through and my clothes clung to me like paste. Calrissian's incursion team lay dead like breadcrumbs for the last six miles or so. I had not liked radioing that one in, and had argued against their inclusion. I know Medicine Man has contacts in too many places not to connect the dots, for his shadow is long and his claws are sharp. I imagined that their bodies must be flung and buried by the consuming jungle and idly to myself I sang grimly a song from my youth:
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real
And many are the dead men too silent to be real.
But the morning came and with it birds' song and some strands of sun. The rain had past and Medicine Man had left me once again, a plaything for an old cat seemed my destiny. Was I to be killed by such a man? Even after all this?
I endeavor most to get my dog back, and then perhaps to kill Medicine Man. But before that, I think we should meet, as you are so close, and we should decide what it is that we are up against. What it is we must do. Perhaps the dead will rest easier, as Hamlet supposed, if there is vengeance. I know this, that Medicine Man deserves nothing so good as hell.
I will make my way north over the next few days. I will check in on Cody and perhaps make a few contacts and set myself up for future operations. This land, scarred as it is, acts as a deranged New Lanark of sorts for that dark figure. I am beginning to understand the local predisposition not to name him.
You will receive this from the man with three birds and one eye. Please pay him beyond the normal price as he once did a favor for me. We must not forget our friends of the longest nights.
with best wishes and anticipation at meeting an old friend after so long again,