—Transcript of conversation between Agent X-23 and Captain John Cheveyo—
—Italicized impressions of emotional response are the Agent’s. Bold impressions are ours.—
X-23: Good morning, John.
Cheveyo: Morning, Clint. You ready to hit the mountain again?
X-23: Not quite yet. You mind stepping in for a minute?
Cheveyo (uncertain): I don’t mind, but… We got a body to look at.
X-23: I know, and we’ll get to it. I just need to ask you about something first.
Cheveyo (understanding dawns): This is about the note, isn’t it?
X-23: (pause) Just step inside, will you?
Cheveyo: Sure, sure. No problem.
(Agent is anxious. Looks up and down hallway, then closes hotel room door.)
Cheveyo: Clint, you look like hell.
X-23 (relaxes somewhat): I had a hell of a night. Why’d you think it was important to tell me that opa means owl?
Cheveyo: I was hoping it would convince you to find different accommodations.
X-23: So you think the Opa Lodge is tied up in this?
Cheveyo (hesitant): I don’t know anything for sure, but anytime owls come up in relation to a case… I don’t want to tell you, “this is the rez, white man,” but… Things really are different on the Mountain. How much do you know about the Alo?
X-23: The tribe has a file, mostly filled with speculation. Why don’t you tell me about it?
Cheveyo: Fair enough. The Alo are the oldest tribe in North America. When the first primitives came across from Asia, we were here waiting for them, with a thriving civilization that spanned the continent. Is that in your file?
X-23: That tribal belief is recorded, yes.
Cheveyo: But you don’t believe it.
X-23: Don’t see how I could. Archeological evidence would seem to point to an African origin for human life.
Cheveyo: We were already here when the first apes walked upright. When they arrived, they met us. And we changed them. There are Alo words in every other Native American language, because we taught them to speak. There are Alo images, teachings, and customs in every other Native American culture, because we gave them what we had. And like all proud parents, we let them go their own way when it was time, while we dwindled.
X-23: The other tribes see things differently.
Cheveyo: That’s their right. But if you dig down into their genes, you’ll find us there, too.
X-23: I’ve seen the studies. But this is ancient history. What does it have to do with the case?
Cheveyo: Maybe a lot. Whether you believe me or not, your file must have told you that the Alo are an ancient people, and I’m here to tell you that we have ancient ways. Sometimes, those ways seem jarring to outsiders.
X-23: Do those ways include ritual sacrifice and the summoning of demons?
Cheveyo: Not anymore. But there are old men on the tribal council. Very old men with very old ways. They know things I don’t, and I work for them. Sometimes I have to accept their laws.
X-23: Even if their laws allow murder?
Cheveyo: I have my limits. Part of my job is to balance those limits against the needs of the tribe.
X-23: Are you saying that you compromise your ideals, or that you serve as a conscience for men who don’t have one?
Cheveyo: The Council has a conscience, and normally it guides them well. When it doesn’t, I step in. I was hoping to figure out if this was one of those times while you worked off-Mountain with the Sheriff. This sort of thing is delicate. I have to be certain of my resolve.
X-23 (uncertainty giving way to decision): What if I were to tell you that I shot an owl-headed man in the kitchen of the Opa Lodge last night?
Cheveyo (does nothing surprise this man?): I’d say we need to secure another crime scene.
X-23: I may have done it in a dream.
Cheveyo: Never secured one of those before. But let’s have a look, anyway.
(The two men proceed downstairs. In the elevator, the conversation resumes.)
Cheveyo: So who do you work for, anyway? I know you’re not FBI.
X-23 (paranoid): And how do you know that?
Cheveyo: I’m not an idiot. I watched you dowse residual spirit energy out of a car, and channel it. That’s not exactly Bureau standard practice. So who are you with? Project Blue Book?
X-23 (alarmed): I’m not at liberty to say. But, no. I’m not with the FBI. And Project Blue Book was shut down in the 1960s.
Cheveyo (cynical): Heh. Sure it was.
X-23: Believe what you like. But I’m not with Blue Book, either. We go a bit… deeper than that.
X-23: Alright. Why do you think the Opa Lodge, specifically, is tied up in the killings?
Cheveyo: The owls, like I said. If owls come up in relation to a case, the Council is usually involved. The Council owns the Lodge, it’s the Opa Lodge, Opa means owl, you’re staying here. Why are you staying here, by the way?
X-23: It’s the accommodations my people set up for me.
Cheveyo: You weren’t worried that we were going to serve you the long pig?
X-23 (hides surprise): Of course not. No one believes those rumors.
Cheveyo (shrugs): We’ve eaten stranger things. What was the owl-headed man doing in the kitchen?
X-23: Chopping meat. Then he threw the knife at me.
Cheveyo: Huh. I’d have shot the son of a bitch, too.