Vuloc, one of the Swamp Tribesmen, carefully observes the Tyrannosaurus Rex Doom killed. Making sure that there is no longer any life in it, Vuloc is certain that he be will greatly rewarded once he brings it to his masters. But Vuloc decides to only take the armor with him. Not so far away, an angry Bloodhawk attacks Doom and wants him to pay for what he has done to the dinosaur. Hawk brings Doom to Liebowitz and his other helpers, and informs them about Doom’s deed. Bloodhawk has also seen that less than 20 T-Rexes were killed. The protectors aren’t happy with this. Liebowitz tells his wife Chalda to hold Doom, not knowing who he is, while they interrogate him. Liebowitz knows that the Alchemax hunters usually hunt in group and not alone, so they want to know why they did this time.
Doom, exhausted, tells them to get away from him. Liebowitz tells Zar to get the bandages from the medkit to tend Doom’s wounds. Doom asks where he is and who all the people around him are. Chalda introduces herself and the rest, and reveals that they are in the Village of the Sky. Chalda calmly tells Doom that she has some salve that can heal his wounds, but an angry Doom turns away and tells her that he doesn’t need her pity. Chalda tries to tell Doom that he better accepts her help, because they usually don’t treat Alchemax employees to kindly.
Doom takes the bandages and puts them over his head, so that only his eyes and mouth are visable. Bloodhawk tells Chalda and Liebowitz that they are wasting there time, as he believes that Doom doesn’t deserves it. Doom turns away, saying that he will answer to no one, and tells Bloodhawk that he is no more a native than he is. Bloodhawk is surprised that Doom knows his name, he still doesn’t realize who Doom is. Doom explains that they fought against the Aesir together now two months ago. Doom introduces himself to the group. Nobody believes that he is the real Latverian Victor Von Doom.
Doom explains that he is disoriented now after he crashed with his escape pod from the Chin San space station, but promises them all that, once he has retrieved his armor, he will leave them to their ecoskirmishes. Bloodhawk doesn’t believe Doom’s story. Liebowitz doesn’t know it for sure, but says that the Newsnet reported a Chinese space station having exploded two days ago. Liebowitz tells Doom that he picked a lousy time to strand in the Savage Land, because ever since the United Nations disbanded and the unified tribes finally gained autonomy, there is still a foreign interest in trying to stripmine the land’s natural resources.
Doom knows that. Liebowitz continues to explain that, in the past year, an Alchemax executive named L’Argent convinced the Swamp Tribe to give him drilling rights to their land. Since then, Alchemax employers have been running through the land and enslaving any other tribe they could find. Liebowitz wants Doom to swear that he isn’t one of the Alchemax employers. Doom confirms that he is no friend of Alchemax. He reveals that if the company could, they would see him dead. He explains that they got angry at them after he brought down their corporately created Panthenon. And, Doom continues, it got worse when he salvaged and claimed their floating cit… Suddenly, Doom stops talking! Everyone asks if he’s alright, but Doom doesn’t answer back.
Suddenly, all of Doom’s certainty of self slips away from him on an ice-cold wind, and he is left without past or present to anchor himself onto. Then, incomprehensibly, Doom finds the pieces of another’s life with crystal clarity in front of him! Doom sees himself bounded, and having only one eye and there’s a woman with him. The woman calls him perfect for the experiment, and tells her dark, clouded boss that he is so much like him. The woman’s voice knots Doom’s stomach and claws at his heart. He endures unfathomable pain as the woman touches his body. What’s strange in this intrusive, foreign moment is that Doom himself is watching, aloof and unreadable, and he is an enigma to even himself.
Doom wakes up and the others ask him if he’s all right. Doom wants to know what happened. Liebowitz tells him that he faded black without falling down. Doom, with a troubled face, tells Bloodhawk to bring him back to the place where he found him. Doom wants to get his armor back, no matter what. Meanwhile in the temple of the Black Sun, which is a gravestone of a long dead civilization, the Swamp Tribe have found the armor already and claimed it for themselves. Dinosaur hunter Raoul hates this place, because it’s hotter than Hades and twice as humid. He hates the bugs that treat the insect repellent he is wearing like its nothing. He hates that all the locals despise them, except for the Swamp Tribesmen. And Raoul hates seeing his boss flip out like he is doing now.
Kincaid, another hunter, tells Raoul to give his complaining a rest, because everyone knows that he is just mad because the truck they lost is coming out of his pay check. Kincaid says that they wouldn’t be here drilling for Vibranium if L’Argant hadn’t established a relationship with the tribe’s elders. Raoul agrees that he’s mad about that fact too, but he is serious about their boss. He doesn’t like all the time L’Argent is spending with the tribe’s “witch doctor.” Vuloc enters the temple and asks if he can speak to L’Argent, as it’s an urgent matter he needs to discuss. Kincaid apologizes, explaining to Vuloc that their boss is busy with Vuloc’s shaman.
Deeper inside the temple, the shaman draws a weird insignia on L’Argent’s head, which resembles a black sun. The shaman, in his own language, explains that the black sun burns through your flesh and into your soul. Once marked, you will experience its heat until you lie on your deathbed. You will become an ember on the dark furnance and… The ritual is disrupted by Vuloc, who apologizes, but shows L’Argent Doom’s mask. L’Argent can’t believe it! He, seemingly angry, gets up and can’t believe that no matter how far he travels to the end of the Earth to circumvent Doom’s infernal machinations, he still finds him!
The Avian Grove…
Bloodhawk has brought Doom and the others to the place where he has found him, near the now dead T-Rex. Doom hates to see his armor gone. Liebowitz believes that’s maybe for the best, because perhaps Doom spent too much time in it. A person needs fresh air now and then. Doom tells Liebowitz that he doesn’t understand it. Doom explains that his armor is literally a part of him and that he is physically linked to it by a nanocircuitry interface implant. Chalda jokes that Doom better learns to live without it, because the Savage Land is a huge place and it’s not likely that they’ll find it back.
Up in the sky, Bloodhawk and Zarr scout the area for Doom’s armor. Zarr wishes that he had wings, because his solar flight turbines can hardly keep up with the fast Bloodhawk. Zarr says that Liebowitz told him that Bloodhawk is a mutant. With a serious look on his face, Bloodhawk tells Zarr that Liebowitz talks too much. But Hawk knows that he owns Liebowitz more than he can ever repay for helping him find a purpose and meaning in this life. But Bloodhawk tries to at least repay a little bit by helping out here in the Savage Land. The two land, and inform Doom that they have found tracks leading to a river, which is maybe six hours from there.
Zarr confirms that it’s definitely one of the Swamp people who took the armor, as the prints were deep enough to suggest the person was carry a heavy weight. Zarr says that it could be Doom’s armor, but also something they killed to eat. Doom wants to continue the pursuit immediately, but Liebowitz tells him to hold on. He suggests that the one who took the armor is heading up river into swamplands. They are savagely territorial. Bloodhawk tells Doom that, if he is truly the brilliant scientist and leader he claims to be, he should not need the armor to get power. Unless, of course, Bloodhawk laughs, if the armor is all that defines Doom.
The only thing Zarr knows is that the last scouts they send to investigate the Alchemax drilling site have never returned. Zarr says that Doom is looking for trouble if he wants them to go there. Doom that he will go alone then because, no matter what, he will retrieve the armor! Once everyone has agreed to go along, they ride through the jungle and cross a river on a boat. Doom asks Liebowitz how Alchemax secured drilling rights in the heart of their land, if the Swamp Tribe is hostile against any foreigners. Liebowitz explains that the corporation sent a hotshot executive to this place, a man named Christian L’Argent. The rumor says that Tyler Stone signed the transfer to keep L’Argent away from his job.
Anyway, L’Argent did his research, learning the old swamp language and customs before heading up river alone. Most outlanders would have had their throats cut the moment they were spotted, but L’Argent managed to talk his way into the inner circle of the shaman elders. L’Argent convinced them that Alchemax’s interests were theirs. Doom can admire L’Argent’s conviction. He is clearly more than a simple bureaucrat to Doom. Liebowitz continues and says that lately, he has heard reports that L’Argent has spent less time overseeing the site, and more time with the shamans, developing a heavy appetite for Black Lotus Extract, a dangerous psychedelic. Doom asks if L’Argent is unstable. That’s possible, Liebowitz confirms.
As they go, a giant sea creature swallows a flying fish whole. Doom can’t believe the sight and almost panics. Liebowitz tells the rest to keep everything safely into their boat. In his thoughts, Doom wonders why he feels so uneasy. Could Bloodhawk be right, he wonders. Has he let his armor define his identity? Without it, does he fear that he is someone else? Doom can’t believe that he is caught in such a silly identity crisis. Liebowitz shuts down the boat’s engines, as they can see the swamp tribe ahead of them. Liebowitz wants to park the boat and proceed on foot, as it’s not necessary to announce their presence.
Chalda tells her husband that he’s right about that, as they are attacked by several angry swamp people! With blood chilling yells to kill the outsiders, the swamp people jump from the high trees, with their hearts racing from the adrenal push caused by the river roots they chew. The Swamp Tribesmen see no worth in the trappings of progress; they value only fire and blood. Zarr and Liebowitz attack their enemies with tranquilizer guns, but Doom has got it harder. One of the Tribesmen defeats him with ease and puts his head into the river, with a piranha approaching fast! Liebowitz kicks the Tribesman, who loses his grip on Doom, so he is free. But the Tribesman drops into the river and the piranha kills him instead.
Doom thanks Liebowitz for rescuing him. Liebowitz wishes that he didn’t kill the man, because, unlike some of his colleagues, he still believes in the sanctity of life. Suddenly, bright lights appears, which blinds everyone. Their attacker tells them all to surrender. Bloodhawk refuses to surrender and attacks, but is shot by one of the hunters and falls unconscious into the river. Raoul says that he knows that, as an Alchemax representative, he doesn’t have legal jurisdiction here. But, since he is holding the guns, international laws don’t mean much here. He tells Liebowitz and the rest to fish the mutant out of the water, as L’Argent wants to have a word with them all.
As they go to L’Argent’s camp, Liebowitz asks the hunters how L’Argent was able to talk the locals into letting him drill here. The hunters sadistically answer that their boss can be very persuasive. Zarr says that he believes that the contract was written in blood. The hunters tell the boy that he isn’t much wrong with that remark. Liebowitz asks the hunters if they have any idea of the environmental repercussions Vibranium could have on the Savage Land. Liebowitz tries to tell the hunters that if they disrupt any of the geo-thermal wells, they could damage the eco-system irrevocably. Doom believes that the drilling might already be responsible for the seismic activity experienced recently. Doom stops, as he can’t believe what he sees in front of him: his armor, spiked against a tree!
Behind Doom and the others, two hunters who carry a bonded Bloodhawk on their backs, sulk and can’t wait until the assignment is over. Suddenly, the ground begins to shake. It’s an earthquake! An obelisk collapses, but luckily nobody gets hurt. A dark clouded figure stands in front of Doom and the others. L’Argent introduces himself and welcomes the strangers to the Apocalypse. L’Argent threatens that the time of truth nears; as the Earth trembles below their feet, their civilized veneer will be stripped away and their dark salvage hearts will be revealed.
Liebowitz tells L’Argent that his ignorance betrays him. L’Argent simply replies that he has a clearer understanding of the rules of the web that tangles the world in falsehood and deception. With bride, evil eyes, L’Argent says that there, in the Savage Land, he has been given vision and understanding. Here, he has foresworn his corporate allegiances for the truth of the Black Sun. L’Argent continues to say that the Children of the Dark Light know that technology is a false path that will be washed away in blood. The blood of Doom and his “friends.”
Somewhere in the Pacific…
A mysterious man in a cape asks the mysterious woman by his side if she has already found her knight in borrowed armor. The woman says that he remains lost, but is sure that’s only for the moment. The man tells the woman that she is always so certain that these diversions will return to her. The woman knows that the man enjoys the diversions as much as she does. The man reveals to the woman that, of all his opponents, she has been the most dangerous. Because her games have always been deadly…
“Never fight with a stranger, boy. You’ll never get out of the jungle that way. ”
- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman.