Dawn the next day saw the trio outside the Terminal. As Falken mounted his bike, the huge man beckoned to Rai.
"Yew wantin' a ride? From here on, yew might find things in the sky that yew really don't want to meet, if yew catch my meaning.''
"Things that c'n sense me?"
"Yeah. Yew could fool the beasts, o'course, but there's also a fair number o' rogue aircraft from the War period floatin' arawnd up there. Yew can't fool heat-sensors, now can yew?"
"Hmm... A'right. I guess that's th' best course then. Thanks f'r the heads-up."
So the two vehicles set off down the turnpike, headed towards the old laboratory.
The biker could see Murdock's van in his rear-vision mirror. He was some way ahead, though he guessed, knowing his old squad-mate, that was a fact which could change quite rapidly. He'd never been known for his subtlety. Even less so, in fact, than Falken himself.
"So why'd he have to show up NOW?" The swordsman cursed into the headwind.
Some way back, the heavy-weapons specialist grinned as he watched his friend up ahead.
"He's a bit agitated at the moment, I'd bet. None'a this is going his way."
"His way?" Rai questioned, his wings somehow crammed uncomfortably into the space behind him.
"Yeah. Even back in the War, he'd always walk his own road."
"It's hard t'imagine him walkin' anyone else's."
"Guess so. He took a while to... Settle in ta military life. He started a little high-up, I suppose"
The winged man raised an eyebrow in question.
"Yeah, almost straight after training they took him into an elite strike force. Just 'soon as they picked up on his mutation."
The knife-fighter glanced at the giant sharply, then looked out the window.
"I guess that's why y'can see through my illusions then, is't? Anti-cloakin' trainin'? I mean, if y'were in th' same unit n'all..."
"Yew're pretty sharp for a guy with wings. Yeah, what yew do's pretty much the same as what a lot o' cloaking devices do."
"Ay. I know."
They travelled on in silence, Rai lost in his own thoughts, Nick clearly reminiscing about the battles he and Falken had fought together.
The closer they got to the lab, the less they had to fight. That much had become clear; where at first they'd had to cut through bandits every so-many kilometres, they'd reached a stage where they had been travelling for about an hour with no interruptions at all.
"Must be something up ahead that's keeping the gangs away," drawled the giant.
"Or 'tcould be that there's just nothin' there." The knife-fighter pointed out.
Murdock looked at the hacker strangely, but said nothing more.
Around sunset, the two vehicles came into view of the disused laboratory. As the rider dismounted, the giant hopped out of his van, and Rai slowly disentangled his wings from their steel prison.
"Thanks f'r th' ride, but I think I'll just risk th' planes next time if y'dun mind." Said the grenadier as he stretched out his huge vans, much to Murdock's amusement.
"Enough chitchat. We gonna set up camp for the night, then go in tomorrow?" Falken cut in.
"Sownds good to me." Nick agreed.
Rai took off a little gingerly, soon returning with news of a relatively sheltered space close to the old facility where they could stay the night.
The next morning saw the trio standing outside the burnt-out husk of a laboratory, with smashed walls, no roof, piles of rubble everywhere, and nothing of import seeming to show its face
"Something weird abowt this place, ain't there?" Fenix said.
"Uh-huh." The biker agreed, " but what good's it to us?"
The better part of a day was spent investigating the ruins, every aspect of the remaining walls was checked. Bits of rubble were examined. Even the shattered glass lying around where once windows must have been was looked at. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at all.
The three once again stood puzzled outside the collossal wreck.
"I guess whatever's causing th' radiation could be buried underground. Well, I'll go tak' a look from above, I guess." Rai stated.
"Pfft. This is going nowhere." Falken said as he entered the ruin complex to look at some more rubble.
A cry sounded out from above, which brought the biker back outside, his gun already in his hand, but it turned out the winged man was already back on the ground.
"You just walked in there, ay?" Rai asked.
"Yeah. What of it?" replied the swordsman as he holstered his gun annoyedly.
"Well, from above, 'tlooked like you disappeared."
"So... Yew're sayin' this thing could be just one big illusion?" Nick connected.
"Aye. But if 'tis, it's the most complete I've ever seen. I got no idea as to how we're gonna get 'round it."
"But we're gonna have to." Falken stated. "So let's go back and sleep on it for now. We can take another look in the morning."
He walked off, back towards the campsite. Rai looked slightly taken aback at his companion's sudden assertiveness, wondering what had suddenly made him care about this strange quest they'd set out on. With a shrug, he followed the other two men, thinking that it may all become clear on the morrow..