Category: Fiction (Page 1 of 2)

The Brothers part II

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series The Brothers

David eyed the youth before him; he bore the mark of perhaps eighteen years upon his body.  The malnutrition had kept his frame small and bent his legs, but his scarred face spoke of many years of determination and his long-sighted stare bespoke a hardened eye for the cruelties of the world.

When he spoke, the youth had the habit of making direct eye contact.  David admired him for his simple honesty and his brazen confidence.  The youth reminded him of himself.

“What is your name, young man?”  The youth turned quickly, startled, but recovered and look directly into David’s eyes.

“Jason, sir.”

“Heh.  You needn’t be so formal around here, we aren’t in the military, boy.  My name is David.”

“Sorry, sir, I mean, David, I just have never seen such a gathering of men.”

“Not men, kid!” Martin was grunting from under the stalled halftrack vehicle, “Mercenaries!”

A chorus of rough, quiet chuckles came from the circle of armed men around the fire beside the dirt path that masqueraded as a road.

“Aye, mercenaries.”  Jason turned to look directly into David’s eyes again.  “What I really mean is, would you be recruiting?”

Another, less jovial laugh went round the orange lighted semi-clearing.  The jungle erupted into its own chorus of barks and shrieks from beyond the shadowed vegetation – shadows that had the cruel curves of some wicked ceremonial sword and shifted like a wary enemy.

“Sir…  David…  What can I do to help you?”

David smiled slightly, relaxing his stare.  “I will find a use for you, young man.”

A genuine laugh shook the men around the clearing for as long as they could afford.  This time the jungle did not answer.

The youth was dragged away by Luther’s rough grip; he would not find rest anytime soon.

David’s desire to make all wheels spin together, to move all things forward at all times made everyone around him feel a portion of every move…  In truth, they were.

“Martin, how long?”

“At least another hour.”  Martin moved his dolly from under the vehicle.  “David, we need a more reliable vehicle.  I’m making a temporary structural fix.  This beast will lose its legs, and we will be up a creek.”

“Fine technical form, old man,” David smiled broadly.  “Take your hour and we will acquire a new mode of transportation in the city.”

Martin scowled and stretched as he went back to his dolly and slid under the broken halftrack.  “If we make it in this I will be impressed.”

“We’ll make it, Martin.  We have no choice.”  David turned to the north, deeper into the dense vegetation, no hills to provide a line of sight over the canopy, too dark to be able to use one.  Then he slowly turned to look at his men.  If we must travel blind, he thought, at least we travel prepared.

The Brothers part I

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series The Brothers

The oldest of the three, Daniel was the deepest thinker.  He had dwelt introspectively for decades while pursuing and devouring studies of every aspect of the mind of man.  His was the power of farseeing; trends and activities drew themselves into the horizon for his eyes like pieces of a complex puzzle reduced to a simple pattern.

The middle son, David was a man of action.  Sparse with the many languages he commanded, but concise and efficient.  He drew his strength from the ability to read the language of the body and mind before him as plainly as one would a book.

The youngest son, Alexander was the planner; the strategist; the leader of men.  His older brothers were the perfect inner circle for a man who would bring civilization back from smoldering ashes and teach Mankind to rebuild what he had destroyed.

A Man of His Time

The now is simple enough.  People want, people need, rarely do the latter arrive in abundance to the former, but when the stars rejoice over a newborn, the world is as a playground to the newborn’s growth.

Such was the world of this man.  although he bore simplicity sometimes as a shield, his description would be anything but simple.   He was graced with a swimmer’s body, all lean muscle, tightly cropped blond hair.  His eyes were a deep green, almost going brown.  His intellect was as keen as the fabled monomolecular knife.

In his time, the world would go through what history refers to as “growing pains” for mankind as a species.  A species intent on merging physically, despite philosophical distances which proved harder to span than any land or water.

He knew only that life should be not so barren for all…  that equality is a natural function of a soulless world, controlled by logic and the logical.

Such was the world of this simple philosopher, this man grown from all the world had to offer, delivered into a new millenium.  What some hoped to be a new world.  Hoping against the withering stark truth of a past which mankind thrust out in naked defiance of all things logical and the logical.

The Wars

When the first device was released, we lost most every bit of electronics that was powered up. Naturally, the bastards knew we would have the ability to turn on more, so they waited a full month before letting the next one go.

I had a layman’s knowledge of what electromagnetic interference could do before the wars, when airliners rained from the skies and electronics seized up like rusty old bolts…

Now, it simply doesn’t matter.  Internal combustion, steam, hell even coal power are the norm again.  I use a Savage 30-06 to hunt for food, and keep my land free of fools who still think their cellphones will come back to life.

“The satellites are still there!”  They insist.

I don’t usually have the heart to mention the meteor showers that immediately followed the second device.

I’ve heard all of the scientific information about how there is no way anyone could have a device with enough power to do the job, but the fact remains…  It happened.

The hardest thing for everyone now is not trying to win the argument, it is fighting to survive.

Fortunately for me, I have an edge.  My father was a Marine.  Not a Marine of the new millenium, thank you.  A Marine from the mid-Twentieth.  He fought fourteen wars no one ever heard of, then went to VietNam, three times.  Then he came home to raise his kid.  When I was eight, my old man took me to a pistol range…  I learned how to shoot straight with a .22 before most of my friends had graduated from GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip.  By then, I was also drown-proof, so said the United States Marine Corps lifeguards who trained children on the weekends at the base pool.

Pennsylvania Hills

Where hills stand like gods
Wreathed in worshipful mist,
A veil of heaven's silken vapor
Brushed by the breasts of Earth.
Where the waters of Earth's blood
Spring forth from Her navel,
And Her children float free
Over Her Mystery.

The Pennsylvania hills were monolithic gods with clouds at homage obscuring their deities within the veil of worship.

The mists in the Pennsylvania hills seemed to promise rain but never delivered.  The view from the farm on the mountainside was like looking out upon a forest as the European settlers would have seen, and evoked the same sense of wonder and desire to take root.

Of course the high tension lines could detract from the scene if they were allowed to intrude upon the idyllic vista…

I think that’s a clause in the contract of life.

Where I learned to smoke a pipe was a utopia of nature.  No matter that man intruded, no matter the beasts he brought, no matter the boughs he broke, the land was as it had been since before his birth and would remain so long after he departed.  Primal, primeval — cliché compared to the reality.  Natural, eternal — despite the best attempts by her visitors to render her otherwise, so she remained.  And when these guests were departed, there would again be giant forests and pristine waters — even should their departure be heralded by the unquenchable flames of their most infernal machines of holocaust.

How could anything so endurable be brought to its knees?  And how could we do it?

Ask the neighbor who cuts down a tree in another’s yard out of spite.  Ask a man who feels hatred for another without knowing his face or the faces of his fathers.  Ask the leaders whose agendas bear resemblance to the ravings of those most mad.  There is the quest for destruction; there is the geas of the Opposer.

But for now, the land bides its time.  Unhindered, growth will return.  Unencumbered, the land recovers.  Even the thirst of the suns released upon the Mother of All Known Life will slake one day.  Then there will be new life — which is the way of things.  And always has been.

When the wars began it seemed a documentary of some distant catastrophe.  What suffering I witnessed seemed so far removed from my reality that I thought myself a dreamer in a sea of fantasy, very dark fantasy.

Vale Of Shadows

At the Vale of Shadows, he dismounted and regarded the body of a young girl.  She had been set upon by the men whom he had chosen not to slay for their crimes.
He knew remorse.
From the shadows crept a demon shaped as a man, with the scales of a snake and the fangs of a wolf.
“Whither thou goest, thy guilt follows thee.”  The demon’s speech grated with a metallic sibilance.
“Be not familiar, beast, and take you back to the offal that spawned you.”
“As thou speakest, so mote it be.”  The demon melted into the shadows.
Having carefully laid her to rest, he rode on to the Mount of Heaven, wherefrom he spied a burnt and wasted farm.  The farmer and his family now blackened upon spikes erected within the fields they once tilled.
He bent to the task of relieving at least the abuse of a noisome death and laid low the spikes of impalement.
From beneath the wrecked foundations, there rose a demon of fierce mien.  A beast born of dragon and man with talons of iron and eyes of coldest lead rose upright.  From its gaping jaws flowed venom and speech.
“From thy soul drips a poison like unto mine own.  Thou art, indeed, reviled in all wise.”
“Vile demon, take your words and your form from this scene of maleficence, else I should set upon you and grant you the true death you so richly deserve.”  So saying, he brandished his axe.
“Violence shall avail thee not at all.”  The dragon demon dispersed into a cloud of ash.
Replacing his ancient war axe, he mounted and marked the traces of those he sought, tallying the score against their souls as he rode past the four smallest of the six cairns he had built.
Knowing the men he hunted to be within his grasp, he disdained rest and crossed the Marches of Swee, sighting a small village along a fierce and narrow river at the edge of the great plain of Fuirst.
The trail came to an end within the village, among its thatched roofs and meager shops and stalls.
He dismounted and sought among the fishermen and farmers for those whose doom he carried.
Their base natures gave them up, and about an ancient vintner there arose an outcry and row.
He drew his greatsword and ran to the fray, laying into the four beasts who walked as men.  Striking quickly, he cut down first the beast of shadow, then next the venomous demon of ash.  The two remaining turned from their prey and attacked with a strength born of desperation.  But in the end nothing availed them.  For the blade that sang death sang for them all.
At his feet lay the men who had paid for their crimes.  No more could they slay the innocent and hapless, no more need he hunt for their deaths.
With his oiled cloth, he swept the blood and gore from his greatsword and sheathed it.
About him rose a cry of dismay mingled with oaths of revenge.
He sought his detractors in the gathered townsfolk.
As if wax touched by flame, the faces and bodies about him melted, flowed and twisted into misshappen visages born of nightmare.  Demons of shadow, of blood, of ash, demons born of every sin of Man.
He leapt upon his mount and found passage through the roiling mass of beasts and human mockeries to the river path beyond.
He rode till weariness threatened to throw him from his saddle.  He rode till froth and sweat sheened his powerful mount.   He came upon a still inlet from the swift river that promised peace and forgetful rest.
He drew off his helm and sank to his knees at the water to slake his thirst.
A demon in armor stared back from the water at his knees.

“Wolf” Part V

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Wolf

I awoke to the glare of sunshine outlining Silver’s upper body as he approached my rock.  All I could recall of the dream was the lupine grin the great wolf wore that seemed to approach laughter as I shouted, “Wait!  I need to know!”

“Need to know what?”  Silver crested the small hill and I could see his smile.

In a flash of remembrance, I saw Silver flying at my throat.  My fragmented, wispy dream made me suddenly wary of him, and Silver’s eyes belied his confusion.  “What’s the matter, why are you upset?”

His confusion was genuine.  I couldn’t place it, but something was wrong with me.  Silver’s presence was agitating me, and he knew this, as only a wolf’s synthesis of senses can know a thing.

“If I’ve upset you with this rogue talk, forgive me.”  His brow was creased with his concern and his manner and scent showed me his sincerity.  I did not doubt him, yet I grew more restless as Silver approached.

Finally within a couple of yards of me he stopped.  “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this, I came to the park in pursuit of the rogue, and here you lie in the wake of his path.  Did you not sense him?”

I moved as if to speak, but halted.  I knew my body would betray me in so many ways that lying to Silver about the rogue in my store would be impossible.  I began to understand the message my body was trying to send my mind: flee; leave this wolf behind; conceal the source of your discomfort and unravel the knot, your mind!  The dimly recalled flashes and swirling half-images of the dream were ever at the helm of this decision.

“I’m sorry, Silver, I must leave.”  I did not run.  I knew Silver would not follow, his dignity forbade it.   I stepped from the gates of the park into the incessant traffic, both human and mechanical.  I had to grin at the thought of Silver mulling over this episode as he tracked the rogue.  I knew he would eventually seek me out to discover the truth behind my avoidance.

I couldn’t face him now.  Not knowing what I —  What?  I mused, What did I know?

I could easily face Silver if my only knowledge were that of the rogue’s appearance, but  it ran deeper.  So deep I could not fathom its form.  How could I defend myself and the rogue from Silver if I was unsure why I should feel the need to do so in the first place?

Why hadn’t I just spilled everything – the rogue, the dream…  Silver would understand, wouldn’t he?

A chill crept up my spine: Silver at my throat in dream world was the only answer I had.

“Wolf” Part IV

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Wolf

The strange man’s difference had been apparent to me all along, but his utterly sublime charisma had caught me off guard.  I felt there was a promise buried within his every look, his every movement.  If only I could discern what he offered…

I knew without a doubt he was a wolf, even without the telltale markings of a chemical nature.  Yet, as Silver had suggested, there was something more to him, something not quite right.

I decided to close early and to regroup my wits at the park.  I could always think better within the trees.

I paused in the doorway as I entered the noonday pedestrian flow.   I could scent the day’s other customers: four women; one, two months pregnant; nothing, however of him.  Even his clothing left no discernable trail – impossible.

Seated upon my rock, I watched the play of the children on summer release.  They appeared to swim below me in the shimmering warmth the golden sun poured into the vale between the trees.  I felt the warmth creep upon me and the slow shuttering, momentary muffling, ever more reclining signs of a catnap overtaking me, so I gave in.

It seemed my eyes had just closed when I dreamed of the scene below.

The children swam in their play.  I could see within their roiling midst a group of dark, frenzied form, blazing eyes, bared teeth, moving about as if searching for something.

Across the sea of youth and wolf I saw a lone, magnificent wolf gazing toward me.  I had seen its like only once and then only because I had chanced upon his epic clash with Silver.  I knew however, this wolf was not Zens.  In appearance he came from the same stock.  He was huge beyond any dog or true wolf, black as the absence of light.  Blazing crimson eyes seemed to reach out to me, pleading with me, drawing me.  I rose to heed them and I saw the pack below whirl and advance on my position.

They sought to keep me from the beast across the vale, but I would not be stopped.

I had never willed the change, merely succumbed to it; now however, my desire to reach the great wolf far outweighed my fear of the agony it would bring.

A strange sensation overcame me, a pleasant warmth suffusing my entire body.  I watched in rapt fascination as my extremities contorted, widened, flattened, shortened, shifted themselves painlessly, effortlessly into their destined forms.  I realized with a start that my skin was blackening, then laughed aloud as I discovered that it was a thick black coat pushing its way out through my skin.

I felt the transition begin and could no longer lie upon the ground as witness.  I rolled to all fours on unfamiliar appendages as my rib cage expanded and my waist shrank.  I shook the tatters of clothing from about me and became absorbed in the fascination of my elongating snout.  I laughed a short, sharp bark as whiskers pushed their way from out my newly formed face.

I knew this for a dream, yet I knew this must be my true wolf form.  I wondered that Silver had never remarked on my obvious descent from the great ones, he had seen me return from the kill often enough…

I beheld the wolves climbing the escarpment to my rock and felt a growing pity for them.

I growled a warning that they should depart.  To my surprise, to a wolf, they turned about, leapt to the field and fled into the trees.

The great wolf still stood across the sea of children.  I trotted down the rocky path to seek a way through the maze of sun-drenched children at play.

I spied a glimmer, a flash, within and between the gleaming bodies, never a definite shape; Silver paced me within the maze.

I could see the end of the sea of children, my escape from the maze, when Silver darted out from between shimmering forms before me.

I paused for an instant when Silver launched.  He wanted my throat, but the moist crack as my shoulder struck his lower jaw changed his mind…  He hadn’t seen me move.  I couldn’t believe he was so slow, so frail – surely a product of the dream.

Silver collapsed and disappeared amid the seething, sun-glistening mass of youth, and I could see the great wolf at the very edge of the tree line, upon his own rocky escarpment; I saw him beckoning with his eyes, his body, his very essence.

I leapt free of the sun and into the shadow of a tree line some yards away yet, and a glint from the rear was all I received in warning of Silver’s leaping attack.  To avoid him I had to drop to the ground, losing sight of the great wolf.  Silver recovered from his leap and sought to bar my way, no longer attacking, just pacing me.  He blocked my view up the gravel and stone laden path to the trees.

As I bunched my muscles to leap over him, Silver surprised me by speaking through his lupine throat.

“Sshtop.”  He collapsed before me, in a rain of silver fur, which quickly dissolved into a fine gray dust about and upon the human that is Silver.  “Stop, hear me out.”

I paused, still crouching, and growled.

Silver, eyebrows arching, remained undaunted, even in the nude on a hill before a sun-soaked playground in my dream.

“If you wish to follow the rogue I will not bar your way –“

He didn’t acknowledge my grunted disgust.

“But you must understand that he has come to destroy us and all that we live for; everything we believe in.”

I could no longer bear to remain unheard so I sought to speak and my throat, my tongue, even my teeth shifted to accommodate my desire.

“You cannot be serious.”

Silver’s mouth gaped.  His shoulders dropped and his head bowed to his chest as walked the trail toward me.  In a whisper, he spoke, “So it has begun.”

As he spoke, he fell to all fours and transformed simultaneously, fluidly becoming a wolf and pushing past me to exist as a flash of silver among the golden play.

There awaited a wolf within the woods before me and hopefully, some sort of sense, else this dream were fantasy.

From the darkness between the trees there approached a deeper dark, then the great wolf stood before me.

“I know what you would ask of me, yet I do not believe you are ready for the answers.”

He turned to go and the sun exploded above me.

“Wolf” Part III

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Wolf

Business was light all morning, which left me with ample time to mull over the preoccupation Silver had planted in my head.

Since I had known him, Silver had repulsed dozens of rogues and accepted a few, including me.  The worst of them had never roused the kind of concern I had sensed in him.

If Zens couldn’t frighten Silver, then I had no desire to meet whatever was raising his hackles now.

Zens had no man’s name, he had no desire to live in man’s world.  To that end, he had made it his crusade to devour man’s world.  He slaughtered indiscriminately, which would bother few wolves I knew.  He had however crossed several unwritten, but instinctive, boundaries among our kind.

He never concealed the nature of his kills – of itself no great offense.  It had occurred throughout man’s world and had become food for conspiracy theorists and tabloids on an unending basis.  No, the greatest offense was that he encroached on territories with the same lack of concern which he had for revealing his nature.  This could not be tolerated within the pack structure: to reveal a pack was tantamount to destroying it, even if man’s world only saw a “lunatic cult” it was still shining light into something best left in the dark recesses of man’s imagination.

That the Others were the first to confront the rogue Zens was debatable, even doubtful.  Silver, however, made certain that no other pack would deal with him again.

Zens was a huge beast, some of the old ones said he was a throwback to the fathers of our kind, the Eastern European stock.  Black as night, blazing, feral red eyes – impossible to mistake him for a large dog or coyote.

Silver led the Others for longer than the span of a man, some say many times longer.  He was an elegant beast, shining silver like the moon, eyes blazing like stars trapped on Earth.  Where Zens possessed cunning, Silver blended an educated man’s mind with the innate intelligence of a beast’s.

Zens fought as only a great wolf can, wicked speed and ferocity, but the end was ordained.  Silver was mercifully quick with the death stroke and had never doubted the outcome.

Now Silver knew doubt.  I shivered at the thought and started as the door chime announced the all too infrequent entrance of a customer.  I looked at my watch, still half an hour until lunch.

“Excuse me, sir, I hope you can help me.”

I looked up at the deep tone colored by an unplaceable accent and was stricken by the sheer grace of the man I beheld.  He was tall, well over my six feet three, but unassumingly svelte; he wore his hair long, draped in an auburn mane over his left shoulder which fell to mid-chest.  As his eyes met mine, I was captivated by the deepness of their blue, enhanced by the size of his pupils in my dimly lighted shop.

He continued, unaffected by my scrutiny.  “You wouldn’t happen to have a copy of Mendel’s Works of Man?  I have been less than fortunate around town, and three of my stops have yielded your store as a possible end to my search.”

I tore my eyes from him and cleared my throat, affecting a cough to cover my embarrassment.

“Pardon me,” I began.  “Mendel, hunh?  Well, I seem to remember having a copy here, but it’s been some time…”

I moved from behind the counter, passing within a foot of this most elegant man, trying to concentrate on finding the text.  I heard him follow, and glimpsed his distorted figure in the security mirror at the end of the aisle.  Even in the convex silvered glass his motions possessed a certain refinement.

He chuckled, and I turned to see what he had thought humorous.

His face held little to describe his age, and his eyes sparkled as I beheld the even whiteness of his smile.  “Pardon me, but it has been some time since I saw a copy of the Gita in the occult section.”

I grinned faintly, unaware of the joke and doubting its sincerity.  I picked up the errant Bhagavad Gita, intent on reshelving it.  “Wrong section.  I get customers who treat this place like a public library on their lunch hour.”  I felt somehow inadequate to the conversation he seemed to be seeking, and returned to the search for his book.

“Here,” I reached to retrieve Mendel’s one true contribution to philosophy.  “I thought I had one.”  I extended the book to him.

His slightest movement enthralled me; merely reaching for the book brought to mind the spreading pinions of some great bird preparing to take flight.

As he accepted the book he chuckled again and flashed an even broader smile, all teeth.  His eyes rooted me to the floor with unabashed appraisal.  He weighed the very soul of me and as he turned to leave, I felt I had somehow come up lacking.

With the last jingle of the door chime I started as if from sleep.

I tried to remember what he had looked like but could only recall the blue-black eyes.

Several minutes later I realized I still held the Gita and he had failed to pay for my last copy of Mendel.

It took me another fifteen minutes to realize that the stranger had at no time evinced a scent.

“Wolf” Part II

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Wolf

Amid the pungent moistness of the drying streets, cars and buildings, I caught the scents of Silver and three of the Others approaching as I left to walk to work.  I could tell they had had a successful hunt, but then, their hunt was under no self-imposed qualms or restrictions, nor did it occur only one night per week.

The Others had a more instinct-driven approach to the Gift.  Theirs was a bond forged from natural hierarchy: pack mentality.  The oldest and strongest ruled, while the weakest served.  The young were held in the place they deserved: cared for, nutured, taught the ways of survival in man’s world.  If any of us treated it as a Gift, I thought, it was the Others.

If it weren’t for Silver, I felt certain the Others would have chased me from their territory long ago.  But he and I had developed a relationship I hesitated to call friendship, closer to kinship, only because my hunting never posed a threat to their survival.

Sometimes I thought Silver pitied my stunted sense of the Gift, and adopted me to save me from the oblivion of loneliness.  To him, a wolf without a pack was akin to a fish out of water.

“So,” Silver began with an arched eyebrow, “ how’d you fare last night?”  He brushed at a stray lock of silver-blue hair, his namesake.  In man’s world, his name was Steven, but I could never bring myself to consider this beautiful beast a “Steven”.

I grinned, of course he had scented my success as I had scented theirs.  “I had passing good luck.  And that string of rapes on the upper-east side has just come to an abrupt end.”

He clapped me on the back and grinned.  “You know, your super-hero antics make for ome good reading in the papers.  But I still don’t understand your need to help them.”  He waved an all-encompassing hand at the world as we walked.

This was old territory between us.

“I’m not helping them as much as myself.  I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror if I had brought down an innocent woman or child, or worse.  What I do needs to be done, one way or another.”

“That’s a man talking, not a wolf.”  The Others chuckled, silenced by a grunt from Silver.  It was no wonder I had no friends among the Others, but Silver; I was obviously favored above Silver’s own pack.

“I was a man before I became a wolf.  So were we all.”

His nostrils flared, “I surely don’t remember that.”

He even curled his lips in mock indignation.

We had played this same game for nearly six years, almost word for word.  Laying claim to our positions in man’s world every time we met.  It sure beat sniffing his ass.

“So, Silver, to what do I owe this capable escort?”  I gestured at the Others behind us.

I was assaulted by the crisp, acrid scent of fury as Silver’s face darkened, “Something has come into my domain.”

His brows drew together and he stopped to face me, “I can smell it, feel it. This ‘something’ isn’t right.  I’m not sure what it is, but it doesn’t feel like one of us.  One thing is certain, it knows of us and has taken great pains to avoid detection.”

The scent of him and the tension in his square jaw bespoke volumes of concern for his Others.

“I haven’t noticed anything strange, but then, I don’t roam in Others’ territory very often.  You keep it free from the prey that match my tastes.”  He would know my words were as sincere as his.

He halted, looked at my bookstore then at me.  “We part company here, my friend.  If you do notice –“

“You’ll be the first to know, Silver, you must realize that.”  I had never seen this formidable wolf so concerned and it moved me to distraction.

Silver sensed it right away, “Listen, Jared, perhaps I am blowing this all out of proportion, but I just wanted you to be aware, and alert.  It simply doesn’t feel like the usual loner.  Not like you, not even like that rogue Zens.”  He glanced back at the Others.  “We had best be about our search.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Hope business goes well.”

“Be safe, Silver.”

He grinned, “No worries.”

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