Tuesday, September 19, 1989
Three disheveled men pulled someone from the rubble where a wall had just collapsed on a dozen American aid workers. Hurricane Hugo had decimated the island of Montserrat, and the Americans arrived that very morning to search for survivors. The three men guessed the rescuers had something worth taking on their bodies.
Gunshots at their feet sprayed sand, stinging their faces. They yelped and dropped the arms of the American, jerking around to see two dark-haired men in expensive suits and aviator sunglasses aiming at them. The three locals ran to find shelter in the ruins of what remained of the town.
The shooters kept their guns level in front of themselves, jogging toward the body. One got on a radio he carried while the other checked over the victim, who had a weak pulse and a nasty head injury. He was tall, lean, and strong, his hands calloused. He didn’t have so much as a watch on him, and the man examined his left hand and saw no ring had ever been on his finger. Feeling around in the young man’s pockets, he found only some identification and a humble stainless steel cross. He quickly took in the name and details on the card and turned the cross over in his palm. It was unremarkable except for a testimony to many years of handling.
Finally, a man worth saving. He thought he’d seen a ghost earlier when he and his partner had done surveillance on the plane that landed with the aid organization. They’d tailed the young man ever since, satisfying their previous mission and discovering a new one. This man’s demeanor and character made him better than the man he’d now be forced to replace. Not many men get to vet their future employer, he mused.
The young man moaned.
“What’s your name?” asked the dark-haired man. He stashed the identification and cross into his own pocket and touched the head wound lightly, pushing aside sun-streaked, light brown hair that was a couple inches long on top. It was darker where it had recently been cut to taper short along the sides. He found himself anticipating the man opening his eyes. He hoped they were green.
The injured man tried to make his mouth form words. “Name?” he managed to repeat. He didn’t open his eyes, squeezing them in concentration. “Not... sure...”
“Do you know where you are?”
The injured man barely shook his head before gasping in pain. He lost consciousness again, and his rescuer pulled the polo shirt with the aid organization logo up over his head to wrap around the bleeding wound. He used a hand to sweep away evidence of the man’s blood in the sand.
Helicopter blades sliced the sky overhead. “God has let you live today,” he said conversationally to the unconscious young man. “Congratulations on your new identity as the Jaguar, the beloved son and heir of a powerful man. It’s not heaven, but his enemies will send you there soon enough. I pray that’s where his real son went when they killed him two days ago. Thanks to you, the legend of the Jaguar that can’t be killed will topple strongholds without effort, and those enemies will assume they’ve lost this battle in the war.”
Men with a stretcher spilled onto the sandy beach from the helicopter. The last ones in wiped away their trail and in no time at all, they made as clean a get-away as they’d ever pulled off.
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