"Flywheels: If There Were Hillbilly Ninja"


My writing style is unique. I heartily admire Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jeff Cooper, Elmer Keith and some of Hunter S Thompson's Writing.
Much of my free online offerings are intended for the "Intramural" Online Fiction Forums. Much of it is formulaic "Beans and Bullets" Survivalist/Prepper Morality plays.
I wrote this after discovering "Naruto" and watching 5 or 6 episodes daily until I had watched well over 500 and then discovering that I could read online Manga/Manwha/Manhua for FREE Online.
{I'm on disability and my net is about $850/Month…}
I wanted an Anime-Style story set in a Manly Wade  Wellman/ Horace Kephart/ Carlos Castenada style rural America.
I was not aware how freely Manga Artists borrow each other's ideas back when I wrote this. Consequently I used the awkward word "Spawn." I wish now that I' have just said "Kage Bunshin" and been done with it.
I also wanted the powers of my characters to be weaker and hence stress the suspension of disbelief less—but with every adventure the Main Character's Powers—and his Opponent's Powers grew…
This is the first chapter. If I get a positive response I'll post more.
If you really really like it, its on Amazon Kindle for $7.
I don't mind folks reading for free—but if you enjoy it give me some good reviews on Amazon.


Chapter One

The origins of The Outfit are shrouded in mystery. I’ve never examined them, but I’m told that the oldest fragmentary records are in Gaeilge and some later documents are liberally sprinkled with Romany words and terms.

Be all that as it may. The Outfit today is a distinctly American institution, though a very secretive one.

Go to any skeptic and he’ll be happy to tell you that chakras, chi and chi meridians are pseudo science and superstitious claptrap.

Let me point out that in some special circumstances—right where self-hypnosis, visualization and biofeedback are hard to distinguish—some visualizations are surprisingly powerful.

Imagine—not ordinary imagine—but visualize very strongly that you’re lounging by a sunny beach and your blood pressure will drop—not all day, but for ten or fifteen minutes. Imagine a clogged sink breaking loose and your sinuses will drain. Surprisingly this works even when the subject hasn’t been told the purpose of the exercise.

Spend two or three years learning to visualize and manipulate The Outfit’s chakra tree and you can use it to manipulate your body and even your immediate environment in surprising ways.

The chakra tree is as real and as unreal as the clogged sink and the sunny beach.

Once The Outfit used another mental construct to work their craft, but sometime in the mid seventeen hundreds they encountered the Hindu system of chakras and the Chinese system of chi and their acupuncture charts of chi meridians.

They modified the system a great deal, but the new mental construct was so much simpler and versatile that no description still exists of the old system.

“What difference does it make, since they’re all purely mental constructs anyway?” as Coach O’Brian once told us. 

Yeah, The Outfit goes out of its way to declare its Occidental roots. Nonetheless you will find many Oriental terms and martial arts weapons in use. There are two reasons: they are a good fit and many outsiders who are recruited into The Outfit come from martial arts backgrounds.

About two thirds of The Outfit’s Adepts are born into the organization and they will have been training in some way all their lives. For the other third there is a rather laid-back three-year training program.

The Outfit’s two Golden Axioms are:

#1} Nothing of lasting value ever results from haste.


#2.} Pressure and anxiety is evil.

It is blameworthy to try to motivate people through pressure and anxiety…

{An exception is given for attacking enemies.}

But it is also blameworthy to allow pressure into your life. If you can’t posses, practice or pursue something without getting uptight about it or its possible loss, then you need to ruthlessly cut it out of your life.

Nonetheless, one of The Outfit’s Silver Axioms is to always cut yourself and others a good deal of slack.

I trained for three years at the village in Northern Georgia in the foothills of the Appalachians. It’s a small town of about thirty five hundred with only about fifteen hundred being trainees and Adepts. The rest are carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, cooks, clerks, schoolteachers and children among other things.

Some of those children—whose parents are not Adepts—will join the ranks of Adepts some day.

I could give you a detailed topographic map pricked with a pinhole right where the town sits, a compass, detailed directions how to get there and the GPS coordinates and you probably couldn’t find the place even then. For that you’d need a guide who has been there, not once but several times.

The Outfit can hide things in plain sight and make you detour all around them while convinced that you are forging straight ahead.

The Outfit supplied me with a nice private room. The mess hall served three tasty and plentiful meals every day at no cost. They also paid me six hundred and fifty undeclared dollars in cash every month. 

The pay went up every year. Now as a graduate and a casual—meaning that I was between assignments—I drew eight hundred and eighty dollars per month. It was kinda like a salesman’s guaranteed minimum.

The training covers five things: martial arts, acrobatics, people manipulation skills, meditation and visualization skills and finally throwing.

The Outfit has their trainees put in some time throwing almost everything that can be thrown: baseballs, Frisbees, chakram, Irish darts, spears, bolas, spikes, tomahawken, lumberjack throwing axes even rocks.

The two items that they stress most though are Kunai knives and throwing stars.

I’d had high school and college wrestling, a third degree black belt in judo and a couple years serving as a sparring partner for an aging pro boxer in exchange for boxing lessons. I’d stack my martial arts expertise up against anyone.

I came in at six foot and two hundred and forty pounds. I was fit and trying to get lighter hurt my strength and endurance while giving me a 24/7 obsession with food.

Nonetheless, I came in with a few tumbling skills unusual for someone my size: cartwheels, headstand, back walkovers and such. Under The Outfit’s expert tutelage I added several more maneuvers that I’d never thought to master.

I figured that even if I was terrible at visualizing, who could tell? I did spend the recommended time every day in lone meditation—and generally a few minutes extra—often more than a few.

There was no way to practice people skills in a village full of cognoscenti. I just diligently memorized scripts and axioms.

My great weakness was in throwing knives—particularly left-handed.

I’d been pursuing the will-o-wisp of ambidexterity since the age of five or six. The list of things that I could do and do well left-handed was impressive. I could draw, paint, shoot a pistol, and shoot a left-hand bolt-action rifle or a left-handed bow. I could cut my meat or butcher an animal with my knife in my left hand. I used a left-handed saber. 

Two things that I’d never been able to do at all well left-handed was write legibly and throw things accurately.

The Outfit encouraged trainees to be able to throw from unorthodox positions with either hand out to ridiculous ranges.

As my first year had drawn to a close, I was very afraid that my poor throwing would get me eliminated from the program. That fear turned out to be ill founded. Very few people are ever eliminated from the program against their will.

At any rate, I’d gotten into the habit of heading for the outdoor knife throwing range when weather allowed and practice my knife throwing. I got steadily better—even without using chi to guide the missile and to drive it harder.

The range was typical of many of The Outfit’s facilities. The targets were 4’x4’ slabs of end-grain pine. There are less exacting ways to make an end grain target but The Outfit laboriously piled and stacked ten inch butts of 2”x4”s and fastened them together with both dowels and glue.

There were stacks of straw several feet behind the row of targets to make it hard to lose a knife regardless of how egregiously wide of the target it might fly. 

O’Brian, who’d been my coach all through the training walked out to the range to speak to me.

“They have a mission they’re going to offer you. You have some special expertise that they feel will be helpful.

“Spoil, there are reasons why it’s been almost a year since you graduated and this is the first mission that you’ve been offered,” Coach said.

“Coach, I’m willing to serve The Outfit, but I’m also more than happy just to hang around being a casual. I’m not ambitious or greedy. I have more than enough,” I said.

************* ******************* **************************

I went to see Harold the dispatcher by myself. That was SOP. He might have special instructions for me. Also, if I opted not to take the mission there was no need for me to know who was going or what the detailed instructions were.

“You will be going against the Russian mob in Chicago. These dudes play a very brutal game,” Harold warned me.

**************** ******************* **************************

I went by my room to pick up some gear.

All the buildings in the town seem to be made of the same roughhewn lumber and dark brown paint like they use in all the boy’s summer camps that I’ve ever seen.

Two-story buildings serve as dorms or barracks for single trainees and Adepts. They are built along the line of the old military barracks—except that the buildings are all subdivided into single rooms inside. 

They don’t put the quarters all in one spot. They spread them more or less evenly and randomly throughout the settlement.

The rooms vary in size a bit. Mine is ten foot by thirteen.

Inside they dispense with the rustic roughhewn look. The walls are lined with amber colored knotty pine and most of the furnishings are from the village. There are many gifted craftsmen living here.

My room has a single bed, a chest of drawers, an armoire, a desk, chair and a recliner. They supplied a seven-shelf bookcase and there was a four-position horizontal gun rack solidly bolted to the wall.

I’d brought an industrial sized fan, several wall hangings and three bright colorful bed coverings with me when I arrived. I had a faux Navaho blanket, a tie-dyed bedspread and one in eye-popping psychedelic.

On my desktop is my plastic artist skull, several artist mannequins, a big plastic two gallon pickle jar about two-thirds full of Magnetics, some Legos and my comically oversized windup alarm clock with the huge twin bells that were oversized even on the big clock.

I’d ordered a dorm refrigerator, microwave, toaster, blender, hot plate and electric coffee pot through the quartermaster and I’d picked up a big black beanbag chair at a yard sale.

That room is my home and it means a lot to me.

When I was in the US Army—busily trying to convince them that we weren’t right for each other…

They brought in a temporary platoon leader for a few days and he wanted us to repeat a marching cadence that contained the words:

“I like it here;

“I love it here;

“I’ve finally found a home.”

I got dressed down—I was surprised that I didn’t get worse—because I wouldn’t say the words or even lip-synch them.

Not even God Almighty on his throne has the authority to order someone to lie. God wouldn’t, because he is righteousness but I’m just saying.

I damn sure wasn’t going to tell an egregious lie like that at the beck of a buck sergeant filling in for a sergeant first class.

I could truthfully say that about the outfit though.

********** *************** ***********************

There is a reason that the outfit doesn’t stress firearms very much.

One of the most common and basic of the abilities—and one of the more powerful and versatile ones—is to create copies of yourself. They call it “Spawning”.

Metals don’t spawn at all well. Small metal objects like zippers or dental fillings seem to do okay—but nothing much more massive than a thimble will copy well.

Lets say that I have a 1911A1 .45 Automatic. Lets also say that I spawn two copies. My .45 will still be fine but both Alpha and Beta’s 1911A1s will be as bollixed as all Hell. The copied guns probably won’t fire. They’re likely to explode if they do fire.

It takes some serious chi to copy a 1911A1. I would be extremely likely to omit copying the pistol. While I can’t spawn what I don’t have, it is simple to omit whatever I chose to leave out.

Cast iron and wrought iron as well as lead copy fairly well. The old Japanese Kunai was a multi-tool used as a bricklaying trowel, a garden spade and a small pry bar more than as a knife. It has a very thick blade. And they were usually made of cast iron.

All those qualities made them good weapons to carry and copy.

No, the Ninja seldom if ever threw the damned things. People in the outfit watch martial arts movies and anime as much as anyone else though.

The fact is that people who diligently practice throwing for years tend to get very good at it. Then at some point one learns to use chi both to guide and flatten the Kunai’s trajectory and to add three to five hundred percent more impact energy.

Our armorers had also come up with an obscure alloy that seemed to copy very well. We call it “Mystery Metal” since no one except the metallurgists seems to know its composition.

It is heavier than aluminum and only marginally stronger than wrought iron. It comes in a rainbow of blue-white tones. The armorers have succeeded in turning out a dazzling array of layered Damascus-like composites of wrought iron and mystery metal.

You can’t make a good sword of wrought iron or of mystery metal, but some of the other groups must have better metallurgists or at least more accomplished metal workers than we do because squaring off against rival Adepts armed with big katanas, dao or gen isn’t unheard of.

How would I fight an Oriental swordsman who’d been mastering kendo, iaido and jodo since early childhood?

Given the opportunity, I’d cheat like Hell.

Use of the Saber is a legitimate martial art though modern day fencers have gotten away from true combat applications, but there has been a resurgence of Historical European Martial Arts and traditional Polish style saber fighting.

I’d match my thirty-nine inch blade left-handed saber against any Oriental adept. I’d take him far out into uncharted water and let him drown.

It is all kinda academic because our armorers can’t make me a saber with a blade that won’t snap like a piece of peanut brittle when blades are crossed. They did make me a matched pair of hangers though—right handed and left.

A hanger is a mini saber. Mine have twenty-five inch blades. Sometimes the guard is minimized along with the blade but mine have full-sized guards. Surprisingly a hanger gives up little utility in defense compared with a saber but it does suffer in offense. They do allow me to go through squads of knife wielding foes like Samson going through the Philistines though.

Although it is a bit short, I generally limit myself to the left hanger. It’s quite enough of a problem to hide one hanger under halfway normal clothing.

Be all that as it may. I’d been working with the armorers to develop a semi-automatic pistol that could spawn. That was one reason that I hadn’t been placed on a team or offered any missions—but there was no reason to tell Coach O’Brian that. Being an Adept means living much of your life on a “need to know” basis.

My pistol was made of wrought iron and mystery metal sandwiched in tens of thousands of tiny layers and it had the same approximate size and shape as a Star PD.

We’d made over a dozen of the small pistols but this was the only one that had proved able to spawn without picking up ruinous inclusions. It was a bit worrisome that there were only five magazines prepared.

That meant thirty-one shots on tap. Folks say that you’ll have killed all your opponents, been killed yourself, taken cover or have broken contact before you can possibly fire thirty-one rounds. This is less true of an Adept with skills that ordinary folks cannot equal.

Brass doesn’t spawn very well so the cartridge cases are also made of mystery metal and we’d found that a slightly lighter charge and round flat-point pure lead bullets worked best. I had a hundred and fifty of the loads. Running out of ammunition wouldn’t be a problem.

Since there was nothing to prevent me from carrying two pistols, I didn’t have to rely on the cranky little pistol—only the spawn that I threw would depend upon it.

The armorers had made a few muzzle-loading weapons prior to my Star.

Josh the leader of my new team was a fellow large enough to have been an NFL lineman and he carried a Colt Walker replica and sometimes a short barreled 10 gauge muzzle loading shotgun when conditions allowed.

Gerald was the second in command. He was an albino. If he had any firearms neither he nor anyone else felt the need to tell me. I really didn’t care. 

Ladonna was the third team member. She was a six-foot and one hundred and eighty pound black amazon. She had three cap and ball revolvers—two .44 caliber replicas of the Colt Navy and a five-shot .375.

Organic materials spawn well so it was no problem for her revolvers to have pearl grips or for my Star to have stag grips.

The two men and I were supposed to pick up Ladonna in Knoxville on our way to Chicago. I didn’t need to know what she’d been doing apart from the rest of the team.

************** ****************** ****************************** 

We split up in Knoxville and drove two different cars into Chicago. We rented the cars at two different car rental agencies using fake ID and charge cards that The Outfit supplied. Even under torture, I couldn’t tell you what make of car Josh and Gerald were travelling in or what names that they used because I simply didn’t know.

Even if we passed them on the road I wouldn’t recognize them. It is relatively simple to use a mind effect to obscure facial recognition.

Yeah I can see the effects if I really look. I made it a point not to look too deeply en route to Chicago—just in case.

Ladonna said that I drove too slowly and cautiously so she wouldn’t relinquish the wheel all the way to Chicago.

“Why do you keep staring at me?” she demanded.

“If you’re some sort of racist then spit it out. We don’t have to like each other to work together,” she said.

“First of all, everyone is racist. Get over it. Second, I’m sorry that you caught me looking at you. I may be blond and fair with glacial gray eyes, but my ideal woman has always been deep chocolate brown.

“There aren’t many black women in The Outfit—especially dark ones like you,” I told her.

“Don’t white girls turn you on at all?”

“A very few—mostly, they might as well be men,” I said.

“So in essence, I’m the first woman that you’ve seen in a long time?” she said.

“That’s about the size of it.”

“Looking is free, but quit looking away when I glance your way. It makes me feel paranoid.

“Here, I want you to practice. Look me up and down while I look right at you,” she said.

That was a very hard thing to do.

My father frequently said that a young man that starts chasing girls and dating before the age of thirty is a sissy and probably a homo too. I never believed that myself, but what teen wants his father to think that he’s a pouf?

I made sure that he never caught me looking at a girl and I got a lot of my values from reading Victorian novels. I’ve always believed that for a gentleman to ever show overt sexuality unless he were one hundred percent convinced the feeling was mutual was the height of vulgarity and crudeness.

Misreading a situation and making an unwanted advance—even something so mild as to try to take the lady’s hand—was the greatest insult that a man could give a woman. It was insulting for you to think that she might return your interest when she did not.

Another rule I lived by was that a gentleman presumes that every female that he meets is a lady. Even when a woman has proved herself a whore and a pickpocket, he still treats her as if she were a lady.

I mean sure break her arm if that’s what it takes to save your wallet, but don’t use coarse language or let your hands wander while you do it.

I’m not shy—not even around women really. If the purpose of the exercise is to be rude and obnoxious I can do so without the slightest reluctance. When sitting on my hands and trying desperately to think of something to say that helped my case…

That saw me staring off into space and given broken-off replies to all attempts at conversation.

Fortunately there was little need to engage Ladonna in any sort of dialog.

************* **************** *******************************

When we got to Chicago it was daytime so we went straight to the hospital to meet our client.

I’d seen photos and even a couple videos of the old man. He was sixty-three years old and until a few weeks ago he’d been slim, active and agile.

A gang member had raped his daughter. She had pressed charges largely at the old man’s insistence. The gangster was tight with one of the Russian gangs. You couldn’t say that the old man and his daughter weren’t warned more than once. The old man had remained admirably obstinate even after a beating that cost him a kidney and much of the sight in one eye.

The old man and his daughter both disappeared the same day. They’d killed the daughter—after they’d repeatedly raped her and then tortured her.

What they had done to the old man was worse—far worse than mere torture and death.

They’d amputated both his arms close to the shoulder. Then they’d taken both of his legs close to the hip. They split his tongue just to add insult to injury and then they’d kept him injected full of LSD-25 for ten terror filled days.

Then they’d tranked him and left him on his doorstep early one morning for his wife to find. 

Any butcher or maniac with a meat cleaver or machete could have cut off arms and legs, but they’d wanted him to live and be a lesson to others. The blood vessels had been neatly tied off and the stumps were well done. Sure, a doctor could have done it, but so could a surgical nurse or a veterinarian. Truth be told, I know enough to have done it—though I never would have.

The old man slurred his sibilants and drooled a bit, but he was surprisingly coherent. I suppose that his body had endured enough traumas without trying to fix his tongue. I’m not sure that you can fix a split tongue.

We talked with the old man about two and a half hours. We pumped him for every relevant detail. Then I set to work.

I was a reasonable portrait artist and I’d read a how-to about how police sketches are done and I’d practiced. I ended up with eight recognizable likenesses. The fact that the old man had been pumped full of hallucinogens might have been enough to thoroughly impugn his testimony in a court of law, but they were good enough for me. 

The old man’s nephew pulled me to one side.

“I’m a reporter. I’m a sports reporter, but I still have contacts and my co-workers have contacts. The old time mob is footing your fee here through what is supposed to be charitable contributions.

“I want to see the dirty SOBs who did this pay out the ass, but my conscious tells me that I should warn you. These old school guys are as crooked and as brutal as the Russians. They just go about it differently,” he said.

I thanked him briefly for the heads-up. Then I told the nephew and Ladonna that I needed to talk to the old man alone. Ladonna gave me a brief hard stare but I stared back just as hard and gnashed my teeth at her out of the nephew’s line of sight.

************* ******************* ***********************

“Some folks believe that it is an unforgivable sin to commit suicide. I’ve never believed that myself,” I began my spiel.

“The thing is, you shouldn’t tell a lie even if it costs you your life. God wouldn’t want you to lie. He couldn’t ask you to do that. 

“In your position I’d be wanting someone to end it for me.

“So unless you tell me that you’d rather go on living like this and say it with conviction…

“I’m going to end it for you,” I said.

His eyes teared and he placed a hand on my shoulder in gratitude. It seemed so right at the time that it wasn’t until much later that I remember the hand and wondered where he got it.

I drove my index finger through his skull into his brain. Since the chi sealed the skull against leakage there was an audible pop as I withdrew it. It is poor tradecraft to kill someone only once, so I drove my finger through his sternum as well.

Some Adepts have mastered chi finger to the point they can punch a fist through a man’s torso. A finger to through the sternum into the heart is just as effective if less sensational.

I left a “do not disturb” sign on the door. A nurse would ignore it but Ladonna and I should be well clear of the general area before that happened.

“That wasn’t very professional,” Ladonna said as we rode the elevator down.

Just then the door opened to reveal a half dozen security guards waiting for us with drawn weapons in the lobby. I didn’t even know that Illinois had armed security guards.

“Apparently not,” I said.

For just the briefest instant I allowed myself to feel anger. I was tempted to draw my pistol and show them just how far they’d stepped outside of their class.

Neither of us could teleport nor become invisible.

Have you ever watched a stage magician do his tricks? Nine out of ten times the difficult part of the trick has already been accomplished before you even start watching to try to catch him at it.

Neither Ladonna nor I were ever actually at the hospital. We’d sent two wet spawn. When a spawn pops his cork there is a human-sized vacuum formed and there is a characteristic “Pop!”

Witnesses? Never mind witnesses. Within a half-hour they will have convinced themselves that they’d seen something—anything besides two people vanishing before their eyes.

We hadn’t been wearing our own faces anyway.

************ *************** ********************

We were both checked into a single room in a medium quality hotel as per Outfit doctrine.

Ladonna left the door to the bathroom open as she showered. I wasn’t a child and I wouldn’t sneak a peek, but we often dealt with people with unreal skills. If somehow, someway someone managed to sneak past me into the bathroom, having the door open would make it marginally harder for him to neutralize Ladonna without me knowing.

“Ding-Dong!” Ladonna shouted in the shower.

That was her way of saying that she’d gotten her spawn’s memories.

************* ****************** *******************************

There are broadly speaking two types of spawn. Wet spawn can eat, eliminate and bleed. They can last for hours or days—possibly even longer but the investment of chi would become enormous.

Although wet spawn can eat or drink their assimilation isn’t on par with a human’s. When they run out of chi they send a request for more.

Wet spawn cease to exist when they decide to pop their own cork, when the original pops their cork for them, when they’re slain or when they run out of chi. In the first three cases one gets back at least a portion of the chi invested. 

You always get all the spawn’s memories and experiences.

  Broadly speaking, you must divide your chi evenly with your spawn. There are ways to cheat and hold back a bit extra for yourself, but that’s an advanced technique.

That means that if I can throw four wet spawn but I decide to limit myself to one, he gets twenty percent—not fifty percent—of my chi.

Incidentally a human—unlike a spawn—can survive exhausting all of his chi. He’ll be mighty drained until he generates more, but he can live.

The human brain has a bit of difficulty keeping track of multiple simultaneous time-lines. It resembles reading a novel that gives multiple first person descriptions of the same event.

While the spawn is alive I have very little contact or control over him. I can sense his chi level and I can choose to terminate him. I can talk to him. I can give hand signals or I can phone him, but I have no special connection to him.

Dry spawn last three to four minutes at most. Their skin is about a quarter inch thick and tough but pierce it with so much as a hatpin and the spawn pops. Strike him two or three stout blows and he’ll pop.

Dry spawn cost very little chi, but when they pop you don’t get any chi or experience back.

Wet spawn can throw dry spawn if they have the chi, but it is axiomatic that wet spawn cannot throw other wet spawn.

********** ************ ******************************

Ladonna came in from the shower.

“Gather your things, we’re leaving,” she said.

I’ve never met an Adept who could see the future. If I did, I’d think that the source of such ability had to be demonic. Quite a few Adepts seem to get premonitions or forerunners though. They’re usually accurate and I take them seriously.

“We can leave the car,” I said.

We had several sets of fake ID and charge cards. We’d left nothing behind in the vehicle.

I placed my Star in one hand and my left-hand hanger in the other and threw two spawn. All three of us sheathed the small sword and the Star. Both of my spawn checked to make sure that the four extra magazines and the Kunai knives had also spawned.

It would be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence if they hadn’t, but it was procedure.  

Ladonna also threw two spawn. 

She had a Browning Highpower and a double-barrel 20 gauge with barrels just barely long enough to be legal. She loaded it with magnum loads of buffered and plated #4 birdshot and the gun had custom extra-full chokes tuned to throw the tightest possible pattern with her pet load.

At very close range—about as far away as you can spit—birdshot can do impressive amounts of damage—more than buckshot or a slug. Farther than across a medium room though and it rapidly looses effectiveness.

She’d told me that didn’t concern her. She had her pistols for longer-range shots.

One of her and one of me exited our door and went left, and then one of me and one of her exited and went right. 

Within a second or two there was gunshots. It sounded like there was at least two AK-47s on full-auto—one on either end of the hallway.

One of my spawn went down, but not before his side was all clear and he’d gotten a good look all around.

I threw a single dry spawn and handed him two Kunai knives. It takes about as much chi to spawn a Kunai knife as it does to spawn the dry spawn himself. I had several extra Kunai knives in my gear, but chi might soon be a factor.

My spawn looked up and down the hallway and threw his knives in less than a second. One hit the sole remaining gunman right in his eye and into the brain. The other penetrated the man’s bullet resistant vest and then his sternum.

I was wearing a vest of sorts—a rather weak one. It wouldn’t stop 9mm or +P .38 Specials but it was all that I could wear and move freely. I’d always figured that even if a round penetrated the vest it would have lost some of its potentially tissue destroying energy doing so.

My remaining wet spawn had taken a round to his right hand that had mangled the first three fingers. One of Ladonna’s wet spawn seemed to be gut-shot but mobile.

I whipped a quick tourniquet on his wrist for him and helped him sheath his hanger. When he’d lost his Star along with most of the fingers on his right hand he’d went medieval.

“Having your right hand blown off hurts,” he said.

“Did you think that it wouldn’t?” I asked him.

I picked up a long barreled but pistol gripped double-barreled twelve gauge off of the floor for him and made sure that it was loaded.

I handed the Star and two of the magazine’s from the wet spawn’s belt and handed them to the dry spawn. He’d already reclaimed his Kunai knives.

“You and the wounded Ladonna take the service elevator to the basement,” I told them.

“Why?” Ladonna started to ask.

“He has less than two minutes left—but if this one dies his pistol and magazines will vanish too,” I explained.

“You two, ride the main elevator to the lobby. Hold out as long as possible,” I said.

My duplicate stared into my eyes and gave a brief nod of assent and respect.

Within a few minutes—if I lived that long—we’d be one again and all duality would have been left behind. For that moment, we were two different beings and I was the one willing to sacrifice him to preserve my mission and my life.

Ladonna had broken down her shotgun and stowed it. She had acquired an AK, found a fresh magazine to load it with and had stuck another magazine into the front of her pants.

“The team in the basement encountered light resistance but they cleared it,” she said to me.

**************** ******************* ****************************

As the elevator stopped I created three dry spawn and launched them out of the door in all directions. I gave them all a pair of Kunai. I wasn’t long for this world. I would certainly bleed out, get shot or simply run out of mission well before I ran out of chi. There was no point in hoarding chi.

I wished that I could have given them all whole right hands, but you can’t spawn what you don’t have.

I heard two of my dry spawn pop as Ladonna’s dry clone and then the wet one rushed out into the lobby. I heard many rounds fired. It sounded like Mac 10s or Uzis. I’d heard both and I’d fired a Mac 10 a couple times. I wasn’t anything like an authority.

The shotgun was clumsy for one-handed use. It was meant to be halfway concealable without being an NFA weapon. No one had ever intended to fire it one handed like Roadwarrior.

I ran up to point blank range and let one rapid firing enemy have both barrels. I drew my hanger and looked all around.

The wet Ladonna and my single remaining dry spawn were just finishing off the last. I’d been shot again, more than once, but I was too numb to tell where.

I took one last look all around on the off chance that my eyes might see something important and then I popped my cork.

*********** *************** ************************

As we rode the elevator down to the basement, I said to Ladonna:

“Can you send a couple of dry spawn out to draw fire? I’m a bit wasted right now.”

“I can do better than that Honey,” she said to me.

She threw off two wet spawn. They stepped out into the basement with a pair of six-shooters in each of their hands.

“All clear!” one of Ladonna’s spawn shouted.

“Take this,” Ladonna said to a spawn as she handed her the AK and the spare magazine.

“I’ll take this,” she said while grabbing one of the spawned girl’s pearl handled Navy pistols.

We left via a service exit. Ladonna held the pistol low. Once we were on a busy city street the pistol abruptly vanished.

She’d kept the pistol ready for six extra rounds right at the outset as well as having the spawn listening for gunfire until we were almost clear.

We went through a dozen tail-spotting and tail-loosing maneuvers.

There was a Dairy Queen three blocks further away from the hotel.

“I’m beat. I need food to recharge my chi. I need to sit down for awhile. Most of all I need to make a deposit in the porcelain bank very badly,” I told her.

She laughed at my lack of stamina, but she agreed.

*********** ************* ************************

“What do you want?” Ladonna asked.

“Get me a large cone, a large vanilla malt, a hotdog, a fish sandwich and French fries,” I said.

“I’m headed for the restroom,” I added.

After we’d eaten and rested for awhile, Ladonna had gone into the women’s restroom to send a scrambled text to Josh and Gerald. We had several burn phones with us and even so they were kept in foil wrap except at designated contact times. Phones can be hacked to send out homing signals.

“None of those people who came after us were Adepts,” Ladonna commented as we walked briskly down the sidewalk. 

“That means that they were probably Russian mob. That means they’re already onto us. Josh said to go to ground, stay out of sight and await further orders.

 “I memorized a list of safe locations. I’ll take you to one,” she added.

Some of what she said was coded of course.

************* **************** **********************

We had taken a long circuitous route to end up in a run-down crackhead hotel. As I walked into the room I took several deep breaths through my nose. My father had told me that bed bugs have a very distinctive pissy smell. No bed bugs.

I pulled the bedspread back and sprinkled sevin dust all around and then remade it.

I took my 1911A1 out of my pants—summer special holster and all—and placed it on the small round table beside the bed. Wallowing around on a holster will ruin it very rapidly.

“The bed should be safe now. Leave the covers up so you won’t be rolling around in sevin dust. You can sleep first,” I said.

Ladonna walked up until she was right I my face. She took my Star out of my waistband and laid it beside my full-sized.45 on the table. My left hanger was next.

She kissed me and then she hooked my heel with her foot so that I fell backward onto the bed. She wiggled and crawled astraddle me.

“Now is the time…” she started to say in a curious monotone voice.

Men knocked the flimsy door in with one of those two-man battering rams and rushed into the room.

My guns and knives were all a couple steps away on the table and Ladonna had me at a severe disadvantage. Someone gave me an injection. A couple of the others used stun guns about the same time. Then they forced a pillow over my face.

************* **************** **************************

When I woke I felt like I had been unconscious for geological eras. I felt achy and cranky and my mouth was both very dry and tasted incredibly foul.

“So you’re awake,” a fellow in a blood stained surgical scrub shirt said. 

He held an extra big empty syringe in his right hand. I guess that was what had awakened me.

“Look up,” he said while pointing upward.

There was a full-length mirror on the ceiling. I could see myself clearly. My arms were bound out to my sides as if I was going to be crucified lying down. Most of my legs were gone leaving just a freshly bandaged stump about six inches long on each side.

“The first time that you refuse to answer I’ll put you under again and when you awaken you’ll be minus your right arm,” the doctor said.

There were four men in the room besides the doctor. They all wore expensive dark suits. None of them wore ties and bright colorful shirts seemed the rule. They all left the top couple buttons undone—exposing hairy chests, gold chains and prison style monochrome tattoos.

A man with blond hair stepped forward to play the “good cop”.

“My friend, think of all the things that you an still do with what you have. Don’t force us to turn you into a total freak,” he said in a sympathetic and heavily accented voice.

“We’ve been at some pains to drain your vital energy. None of your tricks will work here,” the doctor chimed in.

“And even if you managed to create a copy of yourself, he’d be as legless and helpless as you,” the doctor rambled on.

Mind control starts with getting your own chi to resonate. I had never been particularly good at it. With my legs gone, along with over a dozen minor chakras and meridians I found that not only was it far easier to get the chi to resonate but also it resonated at a notably higher—and more effective—frequency.

I took over the doctor’s mind momentarily. I had him suck the big syringe full of air and then ram it deep into the Russian good cop’s right eye. He filled the pierced eye with a syringe full of air just in case a big syringe needle wasn’t painful and destructive enough.

The Russian reacted on instinct. He drew what looked like a 9mm Beretta and emptied the magazine into the doctor. He had the presence of mind to reload and transfer the pistol to his left hand before he pressed a clean handkerchief to what was left of his eye.

The door opened and two Oriental gentlemen walked in. They had a brief parlay in Korean while the Russians reverted to Russian.

Guess what dudes: while I have little ability with languages, I’m persistent. A Half-hour per day for three months with a Pimsleur’s stage one, two and three makes me fairly fluent in one language—sometimes I have to repeat so many lessons that it takes me four or five months to finish. That doesn’t matter. I get there eventually.

Learning languages is a sort of obsession with me for one simple reason. I hate for people to be able to talk around me. I can’t learn every language on Earth, but every widely spoken language that I can knock in the head cuts the number of people who an talk around me dramatically. 

I was well into my thirteenth language when I started this mission. I can speak and understand both Russian and Korean.

The head Korean was a fiftyish dude with a shaved head, barrel chest and wide shoulders. He gave off a faint aura of a metabolism heavily augmented at every level by large amounts of chi.

“What is the meaning of this?” he snapped at the head Russian.

“Your instructions were to leave the interrogating to us,” he finished.

“We just softened him up a bit for you comrade,” the one-eyed Russian said in a “gee-whiz” joking tone.

The Korean hit the Russian in his neck with the little finger side edge of his extended hand. The Russians head flew clean off.

That was heavy-duty! I was impressed. It also gave me the distraction that I was hoping for.

Could a legless Adept throw spawn with legs? Perhaps, but it wasn’t going to happen today. Imagine a legless man with about three times the upper body strength of an Olympic gymnast and far more agility.

While I can’t throw spawn arbitrarily far away, I do have several feet of discretion to play with.

While the doc half blinded the Russian, I’d thrown two dry spawn. The left handed one hid behind a taboret with surgical instruments covering the top. The right side spawn scrabbled to get under a low shelf on a table.

While the stump of the Russian’s neck still spurted blood the right hand spawn grabbed the pistol that landed no more than a foot from him. The left spawn grabbed a half a dozen of the disposable scalpels off the taboret.

The spawn with the Beretta shot the boss Korean right in his calcaneus. Adept or not, when your ankle is shattered with no warning, you’re gonna fall. Even as the boss fell my spawn fired three double taps at the heads of the three Russians. Five of the headshots connected.

A scalpel with a cheesy plastic handle is a very poor throwing knife, but with a chi assist it can fly true at short range and cut a swath almost an inch wide.

The first scalpel hit the tall skinny Korean right in his Achilles tendon, practically severing it. The second missile went through the thick part of the calf. The third blade half severed the patellar tendon at the knee. The fourth and fifth scalpels went through the thigh in search of the femoral artery. One penetrated the right leg and almost went all the way through the heretofore-undamaged left leg. 

The last scalpel must have been aimed at the throat but instead it buried itself in the man’s right deltoid even as he was reaching for me.

Even as the boss hit the ground and my right spawn sent a bullet into the man’s shoulder, the boss Korean popped. He was a spawn. Imagine that.

The tall skinny Korean wasn’t a spawn. I got that as he touched me. He had to actually be there for his mind reading to work. 

As his leg was cut from beneath him, he fell towards me and then he fell on top of me with a hand on my forehead.

There was a dead doctor, a headless Russian and three Russians who’d been shot in the head. The boss Korean had popped his cork and the mind reader had a bollixed leg.  I had collected all he intelligence and done all the damage that I could reasonably expect to…

So I popped my cork.

************* ****************** ***********************

“Sweet Jesus,” I said as a brief prayer as the memories of the mutilated wet spawn hit me.

I’d spawned in the Dairy Queen restroom. I’d given my spawn my 1911A1 and its spare magazines. I’d called Josh on my cell phone and asked him to come pick me up.

I’d also planted a small homing device on the fake Ladonna. That was why I faked exhaustion, so I wouldn’t be expected to throw any wet spawn any time soon.

********** *************** ************************

A week later I made contact with the fake Ladonna.

“How did you make me?” she asked.

I shrugged.

“The Outfit knew that you were an imposter when they briefed me for this mission. How I don’t know.

“I’d have known in an instant though. Ladonna was a close personal friend and you killed her. 

“I pleaded to be the one to take you out,” I said.

“You can’t take me out,” she said.

“I’m far too strong for you.”

She made a gesture and there were four wet spawn surrounding her. Each spawn held a curved bladed Chinese dao sword.

“I feigned weakness and fatigue,” I told her. 

I gestured and threw five spawn and each one drew a right hand and a left hand hanger.

Each of her wet spawn threw two sword-bearing dry spawn.

I gave a brief stage chuckle and each of my wet spawn threw three dry spawn.

When she wasn’t impersonating Ladonna, she was one of the Adepts who eschew firearms. That’s why I could try out my twin hangers against her dao.  

It was purely a matter of time since I had her soundly outnumbered. Besides she knew that the fight was being observed and even if she somehow defeated me she would still die.

She hadn’t kept Ladonna’s form, but she was still black. I assumed that was her true form. As she lay dying though, she became a Chinese looking woman with long straight hair.

I put my hand on her forehead and grabbed a few random bits of useful data as she expired.

The best way to explain it…

When the Korean mind reader was prying into my mind while assuming that I was an original—and when I popped my cork—it was like surprising a burglar and having him leave a large but random assortment of burglary tools behind.

Some were very useful. Some others were only useful occasionally. Some were fragmentary or beyond my ability to assimilate and some rapidly faded away like dew.

Now that I had the basics though, I could use my own chi to strengthen my mind powers both for defense and offense.

************ ****************** **************************

“What are you so glum about?” Josh asked as we travelled back to the camp in Georgia.

“I knew that there were cruel abominations in this world but that was the first time seeing a victim up close and then being a victim.

“If that had been my real body I’d be ruined for life,” I said.

“Never trust anyone completely. Watch your six diligently. Never go into danger if there is a way to send a copy,” Josh said. 

“I’m putting you in for a raise in pay grade and I’m requesting that you be permanently assigned to my team,” Josh said.

That was okay, but it failed to cheer me up.

“Are you still sad?” Josh asked.

“Ladonna was a couple years ahead of me in the program, but Coach Brown put us together.

“I tutored her in the martial arts and she helped me to learn to throw well and how to do a number of mind skills.

“I’ll really miss her,” I said.

“Ladonna isn’t dead,” Josh said.

“But I saw her body in the fake Ladonna’s memories,” I said.

“Very few Adepts can throw five wet spawn. The natural tendency would be to go for even more. I’d recommend that you stop trying to increase the number any further and work on the chi level and quality of your copies—at least for awhile.

“Ladonna can only throw three wet spawn but she has a number of tricks that they can play.

“One of the tricks that Ladonna’s spawn can do is to hang around for twenty minutes to an hour after they’re slain. That can convince someone that she’s really dead.

“I’ve never seen anyone else who could do that.

“You can talk to her when we get back to camp.”

That cheered me up. 

Saxon Violence

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