Authors: Saxon Andrew
I want to thank Captain Dray East for helping me with the details of the action scenes in Vietnam. I’ve been reluctant to write this book because of my sense that I couldn’t get it right. I have friends that fought and died in the war and I honor those that endured the horrors they faced in that far-a -way land. I’ve listened to their stories and all of them say that you had to be there to fully understand what happened. That comment has prevented me from finishing a book I started after the first book of the Annihilation Series.
I would occasionally see the file in my computer whenever I looked at work I was completing and it seemed to call out to me. Finally, I gave in and finished it. So to those that fought there, please forgive one who didn’t and know that I’ve tried to make it as real as this humble author could make it. And to Lee and Gary, I still miss you. Both of you deserve your place of honor on the wall and I will always honor what you and your fellow warriors gave for our country.
he sun was starting to descend on the horizon and the cool day began getting colder as the wind picked up and blew lightly through the old oak tree, causing numerous acorns and leaves to fall to the ground. Most of the students had left school earlier when class ended, but sounds from the athletic fields of the football team practicing and cheerleaders cheering echoed hollowly around the buildings. He sat under the oak tree with his back to the building listening to the echoes and the constant pinging of the acorns as they hit the cars parked at the edge of the parking lot. He pulled his jacket collar up around his neck as the late afternoon shadows covered him. He didn’t like the short days of fall leading into winter and it was going to get dark quickly. He looked up into the branches of the old oak and marveled at the old tree’s strength and age. He smiled at all the tree must have witnessed over the years and then huddled closer to the waist high brick wall that ran from the building along the parking lot. He ducked a little lower to avoid the strengthening wind. “It won’t be long now,” he thought as he looked out into the gathering darkness.
Robert Adams left the locker room and found Cynthia shivering in the cold waiting for him. “What took you so long?”
Robert smiled and said, “I’m sorry. I forgot you were waiting. Some of the guys were playing cards after practice and I got caught up in the game.”
“Then why didn’t you get a ride with them?”
“I said I’m sorry. I forgot you were here. I’ll have my car back tomorrow and then it won’t be an issue.”
Cynthia looked at him with her hands on her hips and tilted her head, “You would think a girl’s boyfriend wouldn’t forget.”
“I said I’m sorry.”
They started walking toward the parking lot and Robert took Cynthia’s hand and said, “I am sorry Cynthia. Aren’t your parents going out of town this weekend?” Cynthia looked at him and nodded. “Well, what about my coming over and you and I do some things we haven’t done before.”
Cynthia shook her head, “You leave me standing in the cold for an hour and now you’re asking me to be all lovey dovey. Forget it and besides I’ve told you, I’m not ready for that.
Robert dropped her hand, “There are a lot of girls who have come on to me and I’ve turned them down because of you. A man has pressures, Cynthia.”
Cynthia looked at Robert and knew he wasn’t lying. He was extraordinarily good looking as well as being the captain and quarterback of the football team. His father was a wealthy attorney and she knew that there were many girls who would jump at the chance of getting his attention. It’s just that it didn’t feel right with Robert. He had an ego bigger than his bank account and expected everyone else to bow down to him. For her part, she could not remember why she had agreed to get into this relationship.
Cynthia was a great catch herself. She was one of the prettiest girls in school, standing at five feet nine inches with long blonde hair and green eyes. She was captain of the cheerleaders, and her father was also an attorney with more wealth than Robert’s. She guessed it just seemed right at the time that they matched up well. She sighed and decided that if she was going to be in a relationship with him then she should give in to some of his needs; but not all of them. They walked up to her car and she looked at him and said, “Well, Why don’t you come over..” Suddenly they were surrounded by three men. The biggest of the three grabbed Cynthia by her throat and slammed her against the side of her new 65 corvette.
The tall man squeezed her throat and said, “I’ve been watching you pretty girl and you and I are going to have some fun.” The other two grabbed Robert by the arms.
Cynthia could barely breathe and she looked at Robert for help but she immediately saw that his eyes were wider than hers; he was paralyzed with fear. She struggled to break free and the man lifted her off her feet and shook her. “If you don’t settle down I’m going to knock your teeth out and then knock you unconscious and have my fun anyway.” The tall man was of Asian descent and he looked through his narrow eyes at Robert and said, “You know who we are?”
Robert was trembling but managed to say, “You’re warriors of the Wang-dao Clan.”
The tall warrior started staring at Cynthia and said to Robert, “Leave now and say nothing about this to anyone. If you do we will come for you.”
Robert looked at Cynthia who was starting to cry and said, “I’m sorry. If I stay then we will both be dead.” He turned and ran away into the darkness.
Cynthia heard a noise and looked out into the road next to the school and watched a police patrol car pull up and shine a search beam at the group gathered at Cynthia’s car. Her hopes soared until the tall Wang-dao warrior said to one of the others, “Go tell them this is none of their business.” The shortest of the three Wang-dao walked slowly toward the cruiser who shined their beam on the approaching warrior and immediately sped away. Cynthia now knew there was no hope; she was helpless against the strength of the big Wang-dao. He dragged her to the back of her car, turned her around and pushed her down on the rear of the car. Cynthia closed her eyes and prayed it would be quick.
All four of the participants jerked when they heard, “May I address the brave warriors of the Wang-dao?”
Cynthia opened her eyes and saw someone with his head bowed, kneeling on his right knee, with his left hand extended toward the three warriors palm up. The three Wang-dao had not heard the young man approach and the tall warrior said, “What are you doing here? You’re interfering with Wang-dao business.”
The young man kept his head bowed and answered, “I am a loyal servant of the Wang-dao and I humbly ask protection for myself and my chosen, as loyal servants are entitled.”
“I told you to leave.”
“Great Wang-dao warrior, I mean no disrespect but I desire protection for my chosen that you are holding down on that car.”
The tall warrior looked at the other two, “Teach this bug a lesson to those that interfere in the Clan’s business.”
The short warrior looked at the young man that was still bowing and said, “Tao, he is following the forms.”
“I don’t care what he’s following; do as I say and make sure he’ll never interfere again.”
The two warriors looked at each other and decided that they didn’t want to take on the leader, so they turned toward the bowing young man. Tao turned his attention back to Cynthia and heard the grunts and punches behind him. Then he heard, “Great warrior of the Wang-dao, if you will not listen to my plea may I take my request to your Kahn.”
Tao turned and saw the two Wang-dao warriors were on the ground unconscious and the young man still bowing. If that wasn’t enough, he saw the Clan Talman was approaching him with three guardian warriors. Tao released Cynthia and said, “Don’t move,” and then turned to the young man. “I am going to kill you and this pretty one.”
“If you won’t listen to my plea and you won’t allow me to take my grievance to the Kahn, then I challenge you to the Gen-Cho to settle this issue.”
The approaching Talman heard the young man’s challenge, saw the two downed warriors, and looked at Tao and said, “What is this?”
“Why are you here, Talman?”
“Because we heard on the police radio that some of our warriors were in this school’s parking lot assaulting a student. We came to make sure our interests were not damaged.”
“They left and didn’t come back. You know they will not interfere.”
“I know that most know the penalty for interference, but there is a possibility of a new police officer not knowing of the danger of interfering in our business and it’s messy to dispose of a policeman. Now I ask you again, what is going on here?”
Cynthia thought about running but she saw two warriors approaching from the other side of her car and she saw she was surrounded; there was no escape. She noticed that the young man that had interrupted the warriors plans still remained bowed with his arm extended.
Tao shook his head and pointed at the young man, “This bug interfered with our business. I ordered Ju and Gan to teach him a lesson.”
The old Talman looked at the two warriors being tended to by the guardians and said, “It appears that these two weren’t very effective at delivering a lesson plan.” He then turned to the young man and saw he was still bowing. “What do you have to say, bug.”
The young man never raised his head, “Great Talman, I am a loyal servant of the Wang-dao and I humbly asked for protection for myself and my chosen that he was about to attack. He refused to hear my plea so I asked for my issue to be brought before the great Kahn. He also refused to grant that request. As a last resort to protect my chosen, I challenged him to the Gen-Cho.”
The Talman looked down on the young man shaking his head. “You know that once it is accepted, the Gen-Cho may only be stopped by the one challenged.”
“Yes, Great Talman.”
The Talman looked around and made a decision, “Tao, you will take these two warriors you brought here and report directly to the hall for questioning about tonight’s activities. I want these other two taken to the hall for an audience with the Kahn.”
Tao looked at the Talman, “What do you think you’re doing.”
“Did you not know that this man has followed the forms that loyal servants of the Wang-dao must use to communicate with the Clan?”
Tao remembered that Ju mentioned that the young man was following the proper forms. “So?”
“You did not respond appropriately. Now the Kahn must resolve this servant’s claim against the Clan.”
“Claim against the clan; are you crazy? What claim? He interfered in my business. He would be dead now but for your coming here.”
“That is something the Kahn will resolve. Be there quickly.” The Talman turned to his guardians and pointed at the young man and Cynthia, “Bring those two to the hall. Blindfold them and treat them with respect; for now.”
Cynthia and the young man were blindfolded and put in the back of a van. They were sitting next to each other and Cynthia said softly, “Who are you and why did you come to help me?”
“I’m someone who cares about what happens to you but you must listen to me. We are going to the Wang-dao Clan Hall where we are going to be questioned by their leader. It is absolutely critical that you be totally honest and tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Do not try to guess the right answer; tell the truth. Our survival absolutely depends on your doing that. They will know if you aren’t honest.”
“You still haven’t told me why you came to help me.”
“The reason really doesn’t matter if we don’t survive. I’ll answer all your questions after this is over. Please be patient.”
One of the warriors in the van hissed, “Enough talk. Be silent.”
Cynthia could feel the young man riding next to her and wondered what possessed him to help. It seemed that everyone was terrified of this gang of thugs. The police ran away. Robert ran away. She started softly crying about that betrayal. She really shouldn’t blame him for saving himself but she did. She knew that if you loved someone you would willingly give your life for them. He didn’t even offer mild resistance. The young man reached over and placed his hand over hers and whispered, “Have courage, Cyn. I will not let them harm you.”
Cynthia could feel the strength of his hand and knew he meant what he was saying. However, after seeing the Wang-dao warriors and feeling the strength of the one that held her pinned against her car; she didn’t know if anyone could save her; or him.