Friday, December 23, 2011

Chapter 8

A test of traps – A test of time
Chapter 8 by Tobias Nixon

Outskirts of Mogadishu Refugee camp, 18:35:25, Beyond the city walls of Mogadishu.
Aimee realised they had made good time, when she looked at her watch. Twenty eight minutes to the edge of the huge camp site that sprawled alongside the city proper. As with all such impoverished arrangements, the majority of living quarters were in various states of disrepair. The people of this place walked slowly, their old clothes belying a down trodden existence, of daily subsistence living.

They didn’t look out of place. Minutes earlier each team member had donned extra layers of “urban camouflage”. Old clothes placed strategically gave a gun toting bad boy the look of a chubby farmer. Head clothes and arm wraps disguised tight fitting helmets and comms bracelets.

The rendezvous point was at the other end of the camp. A contact would be waiting with two cars.

As they walked amongst the squalid conditions of the camp, they could not help but notice the shambolic state of its inhabitants. Poor farmers from the south, driven wild by the desperations of living under a nihilist movement. Al Shabab made you give your heart to god, and your gold to them. Like cutthroats throughout history they hid behind whatever social truths were available, in this case religion. The reality, that hundreds of thousands of subsistence farmers were now starving.

One in two of the population. An awful statistic, until you saw the awfully awfuller truth in front of you. Truth lay somewhere out there in the great camp. Amongst the people with their skin hanging and their bones weakened. The hollow looks and desperate gazes looking in vain for salvation. That silent plea, for something, anything. The burden of a generation born unto abject poverty.

These are a people who are refugees in their own country, too hungry to feed their own children, thought Aimee. Sadness flooded her mind. She was a professional and held to the objectives and parameters of her mission plan. Still she was a human and the unbearable pain of these times made their mark on her.

A small Somalian women hobbled up to them, she wouldn’t have been more than twenty eight, already driven old by hard living, “Are you the one I pray for every night? Help me! Save me!”

She tried to push closer, noticing the rigid looks of the soldiers for the first time. Each having been trained, they looked straight ahead rather than engage her eyesight. It was left to Aimee to push the women to the side of their path. Pressing a small bundle of food into her hands, she whispered, “May god heal your pain sister.” [In Somalian]

The lady gave up with a sullen disgruntled look at her new found source of food, wandering back towards the line of tents.

The two man squad of SAS, codenamed “Tunnel Rats”, jumped in one car with the contact, they would be driven past checkpoints stationed with friendly guards to the start of the entrance to the tunnel. The rest of the team, codenamed “Death Angels”, moved into the second car and sped off in another direction, towards the north east of the city.

Old Power Station Sub-basement 2, 15:30:30, City of Mogadishu.

The scientist carefully pulled back the stick of explosives, wrapping the wire tightly around the detonator, before pushing it very firmly back into the Plastique. He moved with the experience of someone for whom the deadly secrets of chemical engineering were second nature. The scientist was a man of true intelligence if somewhat lacking in a corresponding degree of ethical behaviour to control his fertile mind.  Once when he was five he had almost destroyed the family home mixing a couple of household cleaning agents. Ever since then his parents and insisted he pursue a career in science. Looking back now it seemed almost as though fate had had a guiding hand in ensuring a once in a generational mind was put to good use.

The lack of clear specific goal early in his life, and a desire to do more than just write research papers, had once again conspired to point his younger self down roads less travelled. In fact it was while studying abroad for his 3rd PhD in as many years that the scientist met the first of a group of radicals that would guide his path for the next twenty years to come. His good friend through college Hasseem Al Haqua had introduced him to a Mullah who believed in true freedom for North Africans.

Always there was one more mission to complete for Al Qaeda, for the Turkish underground, the Syrian brotherhood, the Muslim brotherhood, Hamas, Al Aqsa brigade. A never ending pipeline of desperate cells all needing the genius of a man who had no scruples. Or so they had all thought. Some bombs didn’t explode, other exploded early, but always in a way that left his masters in no uncertain terms that those carrying the weapon had been at fault. Of course there was never going to be much evidence, or if there was it would usually end up in the hands of the authorities.

The scientist knew his one true shield was his anonymity. He had used all of his impress brain power to construct an elaborate scheme of proxies both physical and web based. The channels for communicating with him were complicated indeed. After every job he naturally assumed his existing network was completely compromised and rebuilt it from scratch. The efforts were not cheap but the results spoke for themselves. The authorities weren’t even sure if he was African. No name, no details, no birth of origin, no list of friends (he had none), no family or political allegiances. He was a ghost in the machine of life.

Getting up from a crouch he mentally checked his preparations. Everything was in readiness. The strange Chinese in his black ninja garb had been very specific. At seven o’clock all hell would break loose.   The foreigners wanted their LU crystal back. It was not possible. It was a gift from Allah to his people. After a lifetime of carrying out other people’s orders, the Scientist had been given the ultimate means of saving Somalia from the crippling effects of starvation and civil war.

He just needed the time to design and build. For now he had to collaborate with the Chinese. They were a necessary partner. Al Shabab however was a necessary evil, the sooner they were destroyed the better he thought. The government were no better. The forces would feud and meld. Ultimately a solution would emerge for a united Somalia, one with the economic power to rise above the quagmire of challenges that held it back.

The Scientist moved on throughout the sub basements looking at each trap. Checking each tripwire, the power circuits, the position of the device. Nothing escaped his attention; his hallmark was the meticulous nature of his planning. He had never failed.

Checkpoint Alpha, 18:35:25, Inside the city walls of Mogadishu.

The two SAS soldiers began removing the outer layer of rags almost as soon as they entered the car. Disguises would be useless. If the guards at each checkpoint weren’t paid off, a careful visual inspection would quickly reveal they were not African or starving. It mattered not.

Through each checkpoint they breezed, never stopping for a soldiers head through the door, just the lining of pockets and the slack style of talk that preceded such bribery. Soon the car was in position to unload its cargo. The two SAS warriors running as soon as their feet hit the ground, moving swiftly through a nearby back alley to stand at the start of a rough concrete hold that formed the entrance to the tunnel.

The smell of the brackish water and associated filth would have been considered overpowering to most. Each step taken was a step into an ever rising stench of shit. Two steps would, or rather should have induced a near fatal reaction. Certainly the human nostril was not designed for an assault of this degree. For the two SAS it was barely worthy of any attention other than as a guide to the age of the tunnel, or their relative location to sources of danger.

Their suits were already performing spectral analysis of the various chemicals in the tunnel. Nothing came up dangerous. Next the suits combined their full spectrum sweep coverage to work over half the tunnel each. Each member of the SAS team was able to review the results of the completed analysis in real time. The suits internal LED retina displays, revealed what they had collectively suspected, that a multitude of traps existed even in the tunnel leading up to the entrance of sub basement level 2. Each source of explosives was marked by a small red circle, a rotating internal arrow indicating the direction of the electronic detonator.

Working forward carefully and efficiently the two man team approached each trap meticulously. They were all the same. Laser tripwires acted as the trigger points, while semtex provided the disincentive. The suits were pretty cool, having detected the lasers; they were capable of feeding in a dummy signal to prevent the device triggering. This then allowed the team valuable time to disarm the device. Each suit had a mini-robotic arm that popped from the left shoulder blade area. The tiny tri fingered maniples made small delicate movements such as disabling a bomb much easier, whilst the inbuilt laser cutter made pinpoint destruction of the internal electronics a snap.

At the entrance they looked back, the LED displays registering 10 laser triggered bombs disabled. There was little hope of most people getting through ok. The bombs had been placed in the obscurity of darkness, triggered from ten feet out by a multitude of laser lines. Even the dude from mission impossible would have struggled without one of these suits. Which led to an interesting point. Did they know about this latest tech? Surely not, so that meant they really did have something worth protecting up top. Each man came to the conclusion at the same time Aimee said to them over the encrypted comms link, “Gamma Foxtrot, you are clear to engage with primary objective, proceed with caution. These guys are serious about keeping their secrets, go smoke ‘em out!”

“Yes, ma’am” they repeated in unison.

Gary “Dusty” Tikehurst and Paul “Lion Tamer” Laverty, adjusted their assault rifles, the inbuilt laser targeting giving instant feedback to the right eye retina display of Dusty, and the left eye of the lefty lion tamer. Each man approached the large metal door cautiously. Doors were by virtue of their nature, the perfect place to booby trap, necessitating as they did an enemy to open them. The suits reported heat sensors deployed along the door handle, no doubt with a failsafe pressure gauge placed under the foot of the door itself.

A metallic arm extended out and grasped the door handle, tugging it gently open. The other man was already on his knees in front of the opening. Sure enough electric wires ran from a hidden pressure plate up the inside frame to a narrow hole halfway up the door hinge. The wires were intercepted by the second arm, which first held the cabling aloft then clamped and sutured it with the laser cutter. Finally a new dummy emitter was soldered onto the “live end” of the wire. The entire operation to disable the device had taken less than ten seconds.

Each man stepped through the gap carefully, already dialling up the spectral analysis within the sub basement. The team perched above on the enchanted blue roof of the power station, pooled their collective skills now to provide distributed analysis of the best way to deal with each individual bomb. The other SAS suits now acted as localised data processing units. The suits found only devices on this level similar to those found in the tunnel. Each was easily dismantled in rapid succession. The two man team proceeded rapidly through the sub basement to a grubby shadowed set of stairs that ran one flight up to the upper basement level. Before proceeding further analysis was completed.

Dusty muttered, “Just as well Mr Lion Tamer”
His LED retina display showed more lasers on the upper part of the stairwell. At least two more bombs with pressure pads placed on different steps.

Paul smiled back at his mate Dusty. It was a running joke that the largest most formidable hand to hand fighter in the squad had once come face to face with a lion in the mountains of Syria and lived to tell the tale. To this day he kept the skin on display but refused to say, how, armed only with a knife he had bested it. Only a deep scar that cut across his upper chest bore any testimony to that day of life and death.

The lion tamer pushed down onto his belly and slithered forward. Using elbows and knees he got to within a short distance of the first laser tripwire, and deployed the robotic arm. Dusty watched from below monitoring the activity of the first bomb. Suddenly he detected a change. Another type of sensor they had missed? There was no time! Immediately he deployed his own arm albeit in a somewhat different configuration. The arm extended... with a small mace looking attachment in place of the three fingered hand. Then at full extension, the arm released the mace weapon which shot out towards the position of the first bomb, trailing a small metal chain linked cord as it did so.

The small device with the club like design hit the part of the wall that was partially hiding the bomb. Plasterboard and wood had been partially torn out just enough to hide what was inside. It didn’t matter. Anyone sent to investigate would have been long dead before they got anywhere near that section of the wall. As soon as the device made impact it seemed to pop up three small metallic nodules from around the circumference of its head. Each one glowed blue, then the device released a strange whirring noise. Like a mini-turbine, this was the crucial pre-load stage, the electricity from the suits invisibility generator re-routed along the metal cord to the device. Less than half a second later the device emitted an ear piercing whine! A tiny localised EMP field was the result. Too small to effect either man’s suit it was nether the less powerful enough to knock out both of the bombs on the stairwell and the surrounding lighting.

The pitch blackness was soothing to the small squad. They trooped up the stairs in the quiet darkness, eyes long since taking in the view from their passive field scanners. It was bizarre, but SAS had consistently found during testing that night ops made the suits easier to handle, primarily because the volume of retina based information did not have to be reconciled with a naked interpretation of reality. Everything was soo much clearer in shades of green when you were British.

The second basement level was the same as the first. The only difference was they now had to work their way back in the opposite direction to the main stairwell on the other side of the floor. They moved forward, starting to listen to any tell tale signs of other humans. Breathing, talk or footsteps; the audio analysis was running constant background checks that could do pickups from two hundred metres away. Dusty looked over at his mate. This was going to be a long slow day, with more surprises than a nasty day in hell fooken guaranteed.

The Kimberly Ranges, Midday, Far North Western Australia

Cub stares over at Bear... woo00oo wooah!
Bear just stares back. Wtf is Cub doing?
Cub gets up and looks around.
“Yarnyum Gianarma tribe land. This is a sacred site. We are the first white people to see it.”
Cub smiled secretively to himself, while Bear sniggered at him and said.
“Is that what your Aussie spirit tells you Cub? That we are in some super remote fucking part of Western Australia? I’ll tell you exactly where we are, without any GPS wristwatch.”

Cub smiled back at him, “Where?”

“The middle of the fucking Kimberly Cub. We are as far from civilisation as it is possible to be and remain on dry land. Luckily for us, it’s not the wet season. We may still have a chance of survival.”
Cub began to shiver uncontrollably. Immediately Bear hugged his brother, as he too was overtaken by wracking shakes. Both look past the others right shoulder, catching glints of shadow in the dawn.
Each man knew the reality. This place, because of its remoteness and the in hospitability of terrain, was completely unsurvivable.
They had been trained by some of Australia’s greatest trackers to survive. They would need all their skills. The first one was energy conversation and getting better. There were plants; they also needed meat quickly to avoid toxicification from the nanites that were now circulating through their blood streams.
When they had been re-corporealerised, the physical forms required the briefest contact with the other realm. At transfer the exposure tarnished them, causing the weakness. It would pass, but each knew that could be measured in years. There was one catch though, as surely as there always was in life. If you could flush the nanites quickly enough they wouldn’t get a hold and do as much damage. Recovery then could be in days, as the body fought of the vestiges of what had already been done.

Flushing nanites required consuming roughly a third of your bodyweight in protein, and the quickest way to do that in the wild was, hunting and eating animals. But first they needed energy. It was no good tracking if you couldn’t move properly. They were like recently arrived astronauts. Weak from space, desperate to renormalise to earth’s conditions.
Each moved off after a further minute, in exactly opposite directions from the cave mouth, having decided that this would be their base camp. The men soon found loose branches and bent to making a sharpened leading edge. No second was spared for fashion, only killing potential was considered. Each knew that any attempt at this point to use chi for pyrokenesis or what the westerners called using your mind-force-chi-spirit to control the elementals such as fire. Any attempt could or at least would eventually lead to permanent death.
They had been lucky, it was best not to push it, when you got your life’s back.

The two ninja adepts, stepped through the portal of darkness. Night descended into that pit, sharp noises and howls of ghoulish proportion roamed and echoed. Each ninja dressed head to foot in black wraps, most of which concealed ancient and modern weapons.

Both were fully grown cold eyed fellows. Each carried a large blade in hand. One was slightly and an inch or two shorter, seemed to move with the grace of a women. The adepts leaned into the black sphere’s entrance chancing forward to the void.

The edges of the sphere collapsed crackling with arcane purple lightning bolts. This was the magic of the Ancient Master. His wizened wizardly form appeared even now urging them on through the portal. They quickly made landfall, hurling themselves from the crackling-frozen surface of clouds back into reality. Immediately the portal winked out of existence.

Landfall was a set of bushes deep in the vast jungle of... the Kimberley Ranges in far north W.A. So said the device on the left arms of each adept. The female adept stepped forward silently looking back at her male companion. Each had deployed non reflective silver wraparound shades.

The male adept suddenly hold out his left hand in a complex triangle symbol. A faint red glow emanated. A fine mist formed rushing outwards from his palm. The female blew on to it, and another red mist shot out creating two dots on across a large topographical map. The map features seemed to shift and alter like those in a dream. They are near that cave, it was a gesture that conveyed a statement from the male to the female. Two sets of eyes when red with power chi. Each adept was now measuring the distance to the kill sight in physical kilometres, preparing their bodies to unleash the devastating psi attacks they had been taught, as well as a vast array of standard weaponry should such an attack vector prove necessary.

The adepts ran with smooth efficiency. Each strode in close fitting but comfortable black mesh. The ninja blades were retained in micro sheaths on their backs. The secret of their clan was stamina. They could run for days if necessary. One of the secrets. Now that most of the other clans were broken or missing they carried many secrets. Like how to get a man to vault over ten feet, keep warm in a blizzard or see long distances underwater.

As they closed on the two targets they formed a mental bond wall, and reviewed strategy. Each posted ideas for potentially improving the odds on killing one target by effectively favouring the other thus causing that target to act overly offensively. Ultimately though the o.g. strategy of simply going one on one, and trying to use the element of assassination if possible was key. In fact you could say the ancient master almost didn’t want his targets to be potentially taken out early by crafty ninjas in the night. He wanted these two humiliated, after the triumph they had endured in forcing him into seclusion in the mountains in china.

In addition to run power-chi circuits every forty seconds to keep muscles on standby, each adept fed chi into an active psi trap relay on their blades. This “red energy” accumulated slowly and let them deliver deadly psi chain attacks that could knock out victims, making them easy prey.

Cub and Bear come back in to the sacred site. They are deep in the Kimberley, thousands of kilometres from anyone. Wet season or no, even so it will take all their tracking skills just to survive. And they are weak from their journey. They know what is coming. They have seen the adepts that were sent to kill them. Being pure spiritual beings they can see their karma.
Each is currently gorging on the last edible piece of a massive wild boar. The gods have been kind. A plentiful sacrifice for coming back. A gift from god, fate, destiny, or good luck. They had expected nothing and had twin boars present from the first thicket. Sensing closure Cub had grabbed Bears spear from his left carrying hand and hurled it right handed at the left board. Then seeing the wild rush of the escape, he made the judgement to chance his left arm, hurling his own homemade spear at the beast on the right.

They have finished eating the cooked insides of the second carcass, feeling fat and bloated from so much red meat. The nanites are sated. Now it was as though chains had loosened and they could... React! Quickly each man hurled himself from the scene of wanton gluttony. No sooner were they each combat rolling in opposite directions than black blades burning with red mist slashed through the spaces they had been.

An oddity then that saved them. Cub had heard a faint twitch in the darkness. Not an adept crunching leaf underfoot, but that of a wombat bashing through the foliage. Whatever saves you was meant to be. Cub was coming out of the roll jumping into the air seeming to almost fly; the female adept followed.

Bear stood from his roll, roaring defiantly with his voice. The male adept leaned back as though temporarily overcome, then walked forward swinging his blade from side to side. The swirling motion of the tip made tiny circles from the red the mist. The eyes of the ninja were now leaking with a faint red glow that seemed to trail for several inches behind him. The adept twirled on the spot swinging his blade out wide. It made a wicked arc out in front. Having brought his body into a tightly heeled circle, the adept now stepped onto his right leg and chopped down from the three hundred sixty degree circle toward Bear’s knees. He stepped back nimbly.

Bear roared a second time. The adept was frozen, as he stepped inside the blade’s range, delivering closed fists directly to the side of the ninja’s body. Whack, whack, smack. The blows fell like the blows, of a particularly nasty and vicious claw hammer.

The adept was knocked back, recovering straight away, he advanced once more. Bear felt the first moment of wonder. Back in the day when he had been Davis’s age, that punch would have knocked Mohammed Ali into next week, now it barely kept him in the fight.

The sword was cutting through the end at Cub once more. He rolled backwards into a defensive crouch. Without taking her burning red eyes from him, the ninja pulled a brace of shuriken from her vest and threw them at him. Her arm shot forward from two metres away, Cub jumped, just, gracefully into the air, somersaulting over the top of her attack.

More shuriken followed, now Cub was running. In a circle trying to outflank her. She twisted in time to everything he did. The small barbed pieces of steel barely missed him now. Speed is not your ally anymore my friend, Cub said to himself. The adept stepped in cutting downwards with the blade. He dodged to the left and the blade instead cut down the middle of a tree trunk, treating it like soft butter. He waited till the adept was just about to pull free of the trunk, then kicked out with all his might. As he thought even though the weapon was like a turkey carver for trees and humans, it still got stuck in the base of the tree. He followed up with a second snap kick to the adepts hand and then to her shoulder.

He reached inside the void, pooled all his strength, and it was like a baby lifting itself to stand. Like the tiniest speck of power had decided to flow. He knew what he wanted to do, but the days of meditation required to regain control of that flow were currently beyond him. Even so the barest skerrick of power existed. Just for that second it seemed.

As the saying goes it’s not how much you have its how you use it. Cub was doing just that. He used his tiny connection to bend the thread that curled air around the female adept’s right foot. Samsara enforced the intent of the universe via the laws of physics. Cub changed that instance to enforce the laws of Cub. Tiny wisps of air became steel, for a bare half second, but it was enough. The foot tripped, the adept fell forward off balance.

Cub knew now that a crucial junction had been reached. Both adepts were instantly aware of the use of power on the local threads of samsara. How could they not?

Everything in the universe was connected. There are not those things now that reflect what I want but those things that matter more now that they are gone? What do you want Davis? What for you is still permanent in this place of non-existence? – Cub questioning Davis, 5 seconds before his initiation began.

The female adept’s loss of balance was all he needed. Stepping in he grabbed her neck, breaking it swiftly in hands that were even in this weakened state still strong than most forms of steel. In such life and death battles there was no extended fight sequence. Just a loss of advantage, followed most usually by a swift and brutal ending.

Cub rounded on the fighters in front of him, advancing swiftly to within striking range. A furious exchange of punch, chop, and block was going on, and his brother was starting to flag badly. A peerless fighter in his own right, Bear was however slower and more vulnerable in his current physical state. The adept was holding nothing back. Using mind power to focus his attacks, he launched punches that could tear through brick walls, and blocks that must have felt like iron bars.

Still Bear fought on through gritted teeth. His pain was obvious, but then again so was his courage. Like drops of water, the blood from his many wounds now dropped freely towards the ground.  Beaten back by an advancing enemy, Bear suddenly stiffened, even as a fatal blow descended. The ninja adept had unleashed a cruelling blow, using a chi push to temporarily block Bear upper vertebrae, an instant cause of body paralysis.

Cub screamed forward, jumping onto the back of the remaining adept. His body was locked like a lover on the adept from behind, moving his arms up and in front of the adepts body, holding him in a full nelson. The ninja strained clearly not used to having to fight off such a wiry yet impossibly strong man as Cub. Like a UFC fighter at the top of his BJJ prowess, Cub twisted and turned to counter everything the other fighter had. Bear looked on silently fighting the paralysis, willing his body to get back into the fight. What should of taken seconds to recover from, what should not have even been possibly to inflict in the first place was in fact an attack for which to Bear had almost proven fatal.

I believe I will conqueror fear. You will fear the thing you come to like the most, yourself. Then you will grow to distrust your own shadow, and when you at last become that shadow? Cub hummed in the ninja’s ear, and as he had predicted the adept thrashed to the other side with his head... straight into Cub’s upraised elbow smashing back in the other direction. Knocked by the blow but not unconscious Cub quickly used the advantage to once again snap the neck of his opponent.

He let the body drop to the ground, and walked over to his brother. Blood streamed from his wounds as Cub grabbed his arms and gently pressed subtle chi energies along the spine every few inches. The key to quickly restoring the body for one untrained or unable to wield their own chi, was to use small pushes that gradually brought the chi to the surface of the main channel letting it flow again. Everything was just blocks and flow. Press in the right place and you could kill a man in less than ten seconds.

Cub caught Bear as his body suddenly went limb and slumped.. some seconds later Bear was groggily raising himself. He looked disbelieving at his younger brother.

“You saved me brother! My little brother saved my life! How will I ever live down the embarrassment?” Bear said still disbelieving. He felt keenly the humiliation of allowing the adept to paralyse him.

Cub just smiled warmly at his brother. They had been through too much, put up with too much, done everything together, to worry too much about Bear’s emotional state. Besides they were baby boomers, life wasn’t fucken fair, you worked hard, then maybe if you were lucky you got to go on holidays before you died. What his brother felt now, was his own way of saying thank you, in a way that neither of them could or would ever tacitly acknowledge. Such was the way of men, to share without talking, to say through action what was only confused in the tongue of man.

I am the alpha, I am the omega. Hadn’t god said that? Yes but man had never realised quite where things really began. One day Cub had been curious and asked Bear to come along on a trip to Thailand. It was a journey that would, some twenty years later lead here. I have seen the end thought Cub,  I know where I will return. It filled him with an amazing sense of purpose. The energy of that place was something unto which there was nothing similar at all on the earth. The land of the living dead, the place that souls go to wait.

Cub nodded slowly at Bear. Bear nodded back. It was going to be a long trek, perhaps in a few days they would be strong enough to tele-link with one of the tribal elders of the far north, to ask for a pickup. First they had to get stronger, and even then there were not many of the old ones left. Western ways had cut and insidious path through the culture of this countries proud guardians. The young had lost interest in the ways  of their fathers. The great dream, that held Australia in its midst. The spirit which without most people’s knowledge gave it the true moniker of “the lucky country” was slowly fading.

Cub looked back around at the bodies of the two adepts thinking they could scavenge clothes and perhaps some food. Instead he instantly went into a defensive crouch. Bear was soon in front of him, hurling forwards at the two re-animated puppets in front of them. Each moved more rigidly as if pulled by a master puppeteer, yet each still just as deadly. The chi enhanced swords swung in deadly precise arcs towards each man. Now loosened from the restriction of pain the adepts became deadly whirlwinds of non-stop attack and destruction. Cub ducked picking up two heavy stones and handed one to Bear. Raising their right hands each man threw the heavy stone with all his might. Cub’s one skimmed past the male adepts blade landing a blow smack into the bridge of the nose, cracking the head back. The adept stepped forward its head rolled back at an obscene angle. Bear’s one was deadly accurate from less than one metre it crashed into the shoulder of the female adept causing a compound fracture that left the collarbone hanging loosely.

The adepts seemed to cackle madly! If this was fun, I’d hate to think what they didn’t like, thought Cub even as he knew that they must be already dead. This was all part of the sinister ancient master’s bag of tricks. How he would be furious that he had failed to kill them. Cub was suddenly worried, he thought he had seen this trap before. He grabbed Bear and began to run away into the bush beyond. They had made perhaps two or three hundred metres on the slow moving puppet adepts, when suddenly a wild and unholy roar ripped through the jungle. A massive fireball had erupted behind them, but for them it seemed the first sign were intense waves of heat burning down their backs.

A second later and they were hurled forward by a blast wave. Close enough to feel the rush of compressed air forced out from ground zero. Close enough to stand amongst the crashing trees as the whole jungle floor was desiccated by the explosion. Singed now, burnt and weary from the fight of a life just after a journey back from the beyond the grave, each man lay down to sleep the sleep of the dead. No dreaming for a long time, this time, it would be a small time still each thought before either of the two dreamers dreamed again.

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