A/N: Sorry 'bout the wait, computer fried and I had to re-write everything. Shame on you infidels who thought I had given up on writing those stories :O Anyways, here's an update :P It's short, but it's something, and like Gandhi once said: Update is better than shit.

Discovery Channel is NOT a reliable source kiddos :|

Guh… Shit… My head.

What happened? Wait… Yeah, I was running from something or someone; not panicked running, just trying to get away quickly. Not much fear, just annoyance.

I don't know how long I ran, but I'm not in the city anymore, that's obvious.

You want more details? So do I.

Everywhere, as far as my eyes can see, all there is is rocks, burnt trees and wrecks.

I remember crossing water… Why is everything so fuzzy anyway?

Peoples… I met strangely dressed peoples… What happened afteward?

Pain… Yeah, pain and a coppery taste, like that time I slipped on a patch of ice and damn near knowcked myself out. Felt like my brain was trying to force its way out of my nose.

I try to focus my vision on the shapes that are moving around in front of me, but my eyes don't seem to understand I don't give a fuck about the scenery.

Something brown-white appears before me and my eyes finally show me what I want to see.

It's a face, a few centimeters from mine… Real dirty too… I think it's a she…Yeah, it's definitely a woman; kinda pretty too, under all that crass.

"Well, well, look who's back amongst the living… Slept well?" She teases.

I don't answer, what I am supposed to say anyway? I scan my surroundings instead.

"Fuck me." Maybe not the best exclamation to say in the circumstances, but still damn accurate.

The woman laughs and leans back against the fence I'm slouched on.

I'm in a pen with seven other peoples… And I still have my armor.

Why the fuck did they lock me in a pen without taking off my armor?

My visor's down and the re-breather is up; the armor must have locked down when it registered I was unconscious.

Glad it still can do something right, but that means they don't care if I have it on, which means the armor won't protect me from whatever they're planning.

Looks bad.

I look at the others:

The woman who talked to me when I woke up is wearing a pink dress that seems to glow despite all the dirt on it, she has short blond hairs and green eyes. She also has a weird necklace with a glowing red light.

Standing next to the pen's gate is a large, muscular man; red neck type with a sleeve-less leather jacket and imposing mustache. He too is wearing a bulky metal necklace.

Sitting next to me is a tall and imposing man, nearly as big as the redneck, wearing colorful robes and a turban.

Looks like one of those Bedouin tribal. Could be some kind of pilgrim.

He's speaking with a small African-American girl who's completely dressed in red.

Most of the color seems to come from dried bloodstains.

Next to them, starring into thin air, is an old man in battered clothing with a military haircut and rough beard.

Finally, two boys, around sixteen, are playing with sticks in the middle of the pen, they are dressed just like the pilgrim.

All of them have those strange collars on.

I touch my neck and curse.

Instead of a thick rubbery fabric, I find hard rusted steel.

"Don't touch the collar," the woman warns, "They tend to, you know, blow up."

Well fuck. Now I'm pissed.

I'm a demolition specialist; You. Do. Not. Lock a demolition specialist with full body armor in the same pen as seven explosive devices.

"Who knocked me out?" I growl, getting up and earning a general 'what the fuck' look.

"Who do you think?" Redneck laughs. "Slavers."

Well, of course, how did I not think of that? Silly me!

"They have my guns?"

A spark in his eyes looking strangely like compassion appears as he nods. Guy's a soldier; he knows how attached soldiers get to their guns.

"Where are they?" I bark without pause.

The pilgrim stands and tells something to the kids in Arabic or Farsi –I mean, Persian- , something about Allah and the time being right.

They pick up stones and form a circle around the little red girl.

Redneck frowns before answering the question;

"They're in the shack, behind you. You got a plan to get us out of here already?"

"Us? Who's us? How do I know I can trust you?"

The man snickers and goes back to watching the horizon.

"Sir," the pilgrim interjects in a calm voice. "We are all brothers here, if not of blood, of circumstances, let us watch after each others like a family, and maybe we can get out of the predicament."

I've known peoples like him, back in Kosovo, good bunch, a bit fanatical, but good heart.

I nod and extend my hand.

"Name's Roach, CANSOFCOM sapper."

We shake hands. A handshake tells a lot about the other man; for instance, the strength of his grip tells me he was raised in a farmer or worker family, the callosity of his skin clearly shows he's not afraid to roll up his sleeves and the precision and care of his every moves scream Martial Artist or leader of some sort, most likely an Imam.

"I am Adi, this is Omar and this is Abdel ."

The kids nod respectfully.

"You are pilgrims, right?"

Adi nods with a large smile. "Yes, we may never see the Mecca, but the destination is only a small part of a Hajj."

Really now? What's the point of a pilgrimage if they ain't headed for the Mecca? And where are they coming from? This is the fucking U.S.!

"And what is the bigger part?" Maybe I sounded a little more sarcastic that I should have, but I can't really help it, can I?

"Allah." Adi answers, with a welcoming motion of his arms, as if he's hugging the universe.

Whatever.

"You said you were a sapper, an expert of explosives devices, am I right?"

Oh no, I see where this is going…

"Yes."

"Could you disable these devices?" He taps his collar.

No, no, nonono, nooooooooooo…

"Yes, but I'd need a volunteer." Why the fuck don't I ever listen to myself?

He smiles and sits in the dirt.

"Let us get started."

These are going to be the longest five minutes of my life, I can feel it.