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Maverick #2 “But I Can’t Make ‘Em Stay”

Two equally-sized panels on this page. The top panel has Christoph Nord looking at his Maverick outfit. The bottom panel has Nord looking at his Agent Zero outfit. As we saw last issue, Nord is staying at a safehouse run by a former contact living under a false name in the town; she warned Nord to keep a low profile since his last job in the Ukraine went poorly. But the former spy instead took work, under each of his public identities, with two rival gangs intent on wiping the other out to claim this small Mexican bordertown for their own.

Continuing from the first page, this double-page spread is divided in half horizontally. The top half is a montage of Nord as Maverick and the bottom half is Nord as Agent Zero. In both identities: he shoots at the opposite gangs, in some cases the men and women he worked with in his different persona; and he meets with his bosses La Loba of the Guecufu cartel as Maverick and Alberto dos Santos of the Hielo cartel as Agent Zero.

Exterior shot of Ivonne’s bar. It’s midday. Inside, Inna, Ivonne’s real name, is alone and sits at the bar looking at her tablet. On the screen is a CBNC news slideshow with the headline “Tragedy in Costa Verde.” Nord appears behind her in the door to the backroom. She feels his presence and spins to face him. Her face sours. She looks around the bar to be sure they’re still alone.
INNA (in Russian): [[You need to leave.]]

He walks towards her and goes to pull out a bar stool.
NORD: [[I’ve checked it out. We’ll have some privacy.]]

She grabs his arm, hops of her stool and pushes him back.
INNA: [[I don’t mean the bar, idiot. I mean you need to get out of town. Did you get my messages at the house?]]
NORD: [[I must have missed them, I’ve been busy working.]]
INNA: [[Yeah, I know. The whole city knows about the Guecufu’s tiger faced killer.]]

He smiles.
NORD: [[The whole city?]]

She frowns.
INNA: [[Are you enjoying this? People are dying.]]

NORD: [[No civilians.]]

She stares at him.
INNA: [[Not yet.]]
NORD: [[I’m being careful.]]
INNA: [[And how careful are those people you’re working with?]]
NORD: [[I’ve got them under control.]]
INNA: [[What about the people shooting back at you? You know someone has come to town for you, right?]]

He smiles again.
NORD: [[Who?]]
INNA: [[He goes by Zero.]]

He frowns.
INNA: [[Apparently a Canadian killer. The Hielo have hired him to get you.]]
NORD: [[I’ve heard. We haven’t met yet but I know he’s put many of my coworkers in the ground.]]
INNA: [[If you stick around, he’ll find you eventually.]]
NORD: [[It could happen.]]
INNA: [[And you might not like it.]]
NORD: [[If I quit now, how will I be able to pay you back for your hospitality?]]
INNA: [[Wire me from some place safe.]]
NORD: [[No good. Zero’s been following me around for a while now. It’s best if I deal with him here, wipe out your gang problem, and get paid for it all.]]

Inna stares at him for a long time.
INNA: [[If there’s no talking you out of it…]]

He smiles.
INNA: [[Then try to maintain a low profile. And keep me and my bar and my house out of it.]]

Alberto Guzman escorts Maverick into La Loba’s rooftop garden at sunset. They approach La Loba from behind as she sits and watches news footage of a reporter in a reflective vest.
TV REPORTER: (in Spanish): [Aid organizations working in Costa Verde have–]
ALBERTO G.: [He’s here.]

She mutes the tv and motions for Maverick to come stand before her. Alberto leaves.
LA LOBA: [Why are you here?]

He pulls out a burner phone.
MAVERICK: [You called. And I know you don’t like to wait.]

She gives a half-hearted smile.
LA LOBA: [Good. But why are you here in the first place? You say you need work but why here?]
MAVERICK: [I saw the Hielos. I saw you. I saw a profit in putting my thumb on the scale.]
LA LOBA: [You would have passed through if I wasn’t here. I created a market for your business. I’m in this town because I want to be in the next town. I want to be over the border. But I must take this to take that. Then I can service markets north and south as I wish. And your market will dry up and you’ll move on to sell your bullets somewhere else. That’s all business. Where would you want to be?]
MAVERICK: [I can’t remember the last time I did something for a reason other than work.]
LA LOBA: [I don’t want to be here or across the border. I want it for work. I want to own these places. But I don’t want to be here. I want to be home.]
MAVERICK: [I will get this for you.]
LA LOBA: [I don’t want to wait any longer. We’re accelerating. I want the Hielos wiped out.]
LA LOBA: [We’ve found a Hielo tunnel into the states. Alberto will get you the details and a team.]

Alberto reappears behind her.
LA LOBA: [You’re going in there tonight. When I get up tomorrow morning, I want to know it’s mine.]
MAVERICK: [I’ll tell you now, it’s yours.]

She smiles and picks up her tv remote. Maverick walks away as Alberto directs him.
LA LOBA: [Alberto?]

Alberto stops.
LA LOBA: [Any word?]
ALBERTO G.: [Not yet. Phone towers must be down or jammed. We’re still trying.]

She waves him away.

It’s 2:30 am. Maverick sits in one of a pair of cars parked on a narrow and deteriorating street in a residential neighborhood. He sits in the backseat behind Guecufu Goons One and Two and beside GG Three; in the other car are GGs Four to Seven (anyone who survives this issue gets a name). All eyes are on a squat brick house with decade-old yellow paint and chipped black bars on the windows.
GG ONE: [Don’t do too much damage. After we take it, we have to keep it.]

Maverick smiles. He gets out of the car and touches his mask to activate heat vision in his lenses. He pulls from the backseat a gas grenade launcher and sends it through the bars and glass of the bedroom window. He watches men in the front of the house stir. The men sleeping in the back of the house begin to have a fit and fall off their cots.

MAVERICK: [Take the door.]

GGs Four to Seven get out of their car with guns slung over their shoulders. They carry a battering ram and begin to knock at the door. GGs One to Three run to the windows along the side of the house and begin to fire in. The men inside duck for cover and fire out the windows. Maverick watches the battering ram’s progress. The ram hits the door. Maverick fires a gas canister. The men pull the ram back. The gas canister enters into the living room. The ram hits the door. The gas explodes. The door flies back. GGs One to Three stand up and fire into the room. They stop. GGs Four to Seven run inside.

Maverick points GGs One to Three to fire at the back bedrooms. They do. Maverick gets out a burner phone and dials.

Alberto dos Santos rolls over and picks up the phone on his nightstand.
ALBERTO D.: [Who is this?]
MAVERICK: Agent Zero.
ALBERTO D.: [I didn’t give you this number.]
MAVERICK: [Be glad I’ve got it. The Guecufu’s are taking your Calle Aguirre tunnel.]
ALBERTO D.: [What? How do you know that? When?]
MAVERICK: [Now. Send reinforcements.]

Maverick hangs up and goes to the door and looks in. The men are hiding behind furniture and pointing their weapons down the hall. The dead Hielo gang members bleed out the floor. Something flies into the living room from the hall. Maverick steps back and over away from the door. The GGs scramble. The grenade explodes.

Maverick reenters the room. GGs One to Three follow behind him. GG Four and Five are dead. GG Six is alive but on the ground. GG Seven fires his gun down the hallway. Maverick sticks a small microphone with a pin into the living room wall. He follows GG Seven down the hallway where they shoot the grenade thrower and another Hielo member. GG Seven lowers his gun and exhales, smiling.
GG SEVEN: [We got them!]

The GGs celebrate. Maverick walks around.
MAVERICK: [We’re missing one.]
GG TWO: [Are you sure?]
MAVERICK: [He’s in the tunnel. Find it!]

Those who can walk look around the house. As he looks around, Maverick places small grey spheres with a red light around the house.
GG THREE: [Here!]

The others join GG Three in the bathroom where he’s pulled away the shower basin to reveal a hole with a ladder in it. Maverick climbs down into the tunnel. It’s just short enough that he needs to crouch but wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side. There are running lights along one wall. On the ground are tracks for a small cart to travel. The cart is gone. Maverick looks back into the house.
MAVERICK: [We’re going north. Who’s the fastest?]

GG Three, Six and Seven stay in the living room. Three has helped Six on to the couch where he presses a dish towel to a wound on his abdomen.

GG One and Two run down the tunnel. Maverick follows behind them but continues to drop the small grey spheres at this end of the tunnel.

In another house, the bedroom closet floor drops down. The missing Hielo cartel member sticks his head through and is startled by the many guns pointed at him.
HIELO ONE: [They’re coming!]

Some of the men pull him up and close the panel behind him.
HIELO TWO: [We know. Alberto warned us.]

The group of five Hielos wait in the house.

GG One and Two reach the end of the tunnel and look up at the stairs and the panel. They turn and look back at Maverick.

Maverick runs past them and places a grey brick to the panel and runs a pair of small thin wires back. He backs up and his companions do so as well. Maverick looks back towards the first house. He presses a finger to his ear.

The microphone Maverick left in the living room listens as Hielo reinforcements storm back into the Mexican house and shoot at the men there.

Maverick removes his ear piece and looks at the two men with him.
MAVERICK: [Cover up.]

They cover their ears and put their backs to the American tunnel end. Maverick sets off the plastic explosives on the entrance to the American house.

Heilos in the American house begin shooting down into the tunnel. Maverick presses a remote control on his waist. The small grey spheres at the Mexican house and the first half of the tunnel explode. Dust and smoke rush down the tunnel and erupt into the American house.

Maverick runs forward, climbs out of the hole, guns blazing. GG One and Two follow him up and run in pursuit of the surviving Heilos. Maverick drops more of his small explosives spheres, now with green lights, down the tunnel.

GG One comes back into the bedroom.
GG ONE: [We got them. But what happened down there?]

GG One sees Maverick’s explosives.
GG ONE: [What are you doing?]

GG starts to raise his gun but Maverick pulls a knife and slips it between the man’s ribs. Maverick holds him close and turns him to the lip of the tunnel hole as GG One’s legs give out and he slides down.

Maverick tosses more explosives around the room and steps into the hallway over bodies. He spreads out more explosives. He moves to the front of the house where GG Two waits with his gun pointed at Maverick’s chest.
GG TWO: [Stop right there.]

Maverick pauses.
GG TWO: [You… You blew up the other house.]
MAVERICK: [And I’m about to do the same to this one.]
GG TWO: [You set us up. Why?]

Maverick doesn’t reply.
GG TWO: [I’m going to tell La Loba. She’ll have your head.]

Maverick drops to his side and behind a loveseat. GG Two fires into it. Maverick puts his back to the wall, and with both feet kicks the loveseat. It slides forward at GG Two who loses his balance to avoid it. Maverick jumps out the window. He rolls to a stop on the dying lawn and presses a trigger, setting off the explosives.

Maverick stands on the lawn and waits for neighbors to look out their windows and see him in the burning light of the house. He jogs off down the dark road.