Introduction: This is an Army of Two fan fiction based on the video game. It takes place post The Devil’s Cartel. Salem gets a bit of a break and during a prison riot manages a risky escape. He makes his way out of Mexico and back to the U.S. and begins setting up his new life.
Disclaimer: I do not own Salem or Rios. I do not reap any financial gain from this work. I do own Vasily Tyannikov, Secour and Giddy
It was hot. It was hot and that was a fact that Elliot Salem had grown to hate. Maybe it was not the heat he’d grown to despise but instead, the idea that he had no control over it. There had been no air conditioning in the Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 Altiplano, no way to control his environment and that, more so than the heat was the single issue driving him slowly mad. His loss of control. Humans were one of if not the only creature capable of controlling their environment and the Mexican government had summarily stripped that control from Salem the day they dubbed him number 7687 and incarcerated him for what should have been a twenty-year sentence.
Should have been, those were the three words Salem kept running over and over in his head for the last four days. After a life of ill fate and disappointments, he’d finally, as Rios would say, ‘caught some luck.’ Rios would also probably say that only Salem could turn a prison riot and massacre into a lucky event. Rios, he shuddered and squeezed his sun weary eyes closed against the memories that always raced in flooding his mind when he thought about the big man. Maybe, he thought, as he sipped from the tepid bottle of water he’d been nursing for the last fifty miles, maybe this time if he truly, truly had a pure heart life might deal him a kinder hand and a second chance.
He tossed the empty bottle under the seat of the stolen old Chevy truck, took a deep breath and then spit out of the truck window and coughed. Heat and dust both were a miserable bane to man. He clicked on the Chevy’s left directional signal and slid into turning lane behind and old bus spewing black sooty exhaust. He coughed again, a bit harder and spit into the smog filled air. Just five more miles to the border, five more miles until he’d be home. His stomach hitched and he forced down the anxiety surging through him. He couldn’t go back to the prison. He wouldn’t go back. That much he’d decided as he stepped incredulously through the open door of his jail cell in the Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 “Altiplano”, sixteen miles outside of the city of Toluca. This was his last run at freedom and in ten minutes he’d know if it worked. He tried to relax as the slow snake of cars and buses inched toward the border. Sure he thought fresh air and freedom, more like black smog and gridlock. Then, five more miles Elliot just five more miles.
Four long arduous days ago he’d walked out of his cell and fought a running battle to make it through the breached facility’s gates before the Mexican officials could lock the prison down again. Against all odds, he’d made it and after obtaining civilian clothes he stole the nondescript, gray Chevy truck and headed northeast for Tampico where he had a safe house. Once there he cleaned up, sorted through his few remaining possessions, stashed once Bautista removed his leash and let him run free, and continued north toward the Brownsville Veterans Port of Entry.
Salem hadn’t allowed himself to feel relieved that the safe house and his belongings were still in place after nearly three years of imprisonment. Sure he’d carefully or more importantly meticulously, planned for this event, his need to escape Mexico and repatriate himself as a new person, by stashing money, American dollars, a lot of it and creating a new identity. He had weapons and what few items Bautista had returned to him. His old mask and silver chain, his watch, and old belt buckle all of it seemed to belong to a man he no longer knew and sadly the reality was that within hours he’d once again lock that man away. He sat down on the sofa swirling the charred chain through his fingers and tried to still his trembling hands. Finding the safe house intact had actually frightened him more than it relieved him. It was a sign that his plans were effective and Salem had a long history of effective plans suddenly falling to pieces.
He’d showered, packed and triple checked his new passport, passport card, birth certificate, U.S. driver’s license, and social security card. All the information matched and any expiration dates were still valid. They better be good, he thought, he’d paid dearly for them. Those he would need to cross the border so he stowed them in a small red satchel. Next, he sorted through the documents for Elliot Nicholas Salem. Also obtained, or actually made, for a high price. These he hid in a secret space sewn inside the backpack bottom. It had a special lining to evaded x-ray machines and was virtually invisible to the human eye. Elliot Nicholas Salem was about to die and after a life of scraping and scratching to stay alive the idea of killing himself, albeit only on paper, galled him.
That was the day before yesterday, now if didn’t asphyxiate and die, and all else went well, in ten minutes he’d walk across the border into his new life with nothing more than what he could fit in the large Kelty Redwing backpack. Turning to the left, annoyed at the tightness of the scarred skin of his neck, he studied the pack while waiting for the traffic signal to change. It wasn’t much to start a life with. His accounts for the new name would provide a marginal kick-start, but since he’d not be able to work, it would not be enough. Besides that, there was a small, very small chance that he might have more. Rios. Salem hoped beyond hope that the man, just as he’d always done during happier times, had stubbornly refused to give up on him despite what Alpha had said. If so he’d have money, plenty of money in his American accounts. It was really the only spot of hope he’d allowed himself.
Three blocks from the crossing he parked the old truck in a church lot, tossed the keys onto the floor board, took out his pack and headed for the checkpoint losing himself in the throng of pedestrians also going that way. He got in line and finally, after a two-hour excruciating wait in the sun he approached the booth and sighed. If his papers were, for whatever reason, refused he’d already made his peace and he would ‘die by cop’ as the saying goes. The family in front of him moved ahead and Salem proffered his identification. The clerk gave it a bored once over, looked up at him to ask a question, then seeing his scarred face cleared her throat nervously and waved him through. ‘Jesus,’ he thought, ‘it worked, I’m on my way.’
With a shuddering sigh, Salem hitched the backpack higher up onto his shoulders and winced when the straps pulled painfully at his scars. Home, or was it? Despite the dusty American soil beneath his booted feet he just couldn’t force himself to accept the idea. The last seven, no ten years really, ever since Shanghai, had destroyed his capacity to embrace anything positive. For Salem, the other foot always seemed to fall. He walked out of the shaded checkpoint and into the hot Texas sun cursing, beneath his breath, when even the slightest rays once again seared his tortured flesh.