The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The Bronze Saga #5 BRONZE BATTLEFIELD A Doc Savage Novel by Mark and

Karen Eidemiller If you wish, you may share this story freely. All we ask is that the text is not modified in any way, shape, or form. * * *

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. John 15:12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. * * *

Excerpt, ENCYLOPEDIA AMERICANA, Online Millennium Edition: SAVAGE, Clark, Junior. Born 1901, died?. In the early 1930's and 1940's, Clark Jr. ("Doc") Savage was thought to be an adventurer and crime fighter. However, because of the EDWARD R. MURROW expose into the so-called "Crime College" (see video, 'See It Now: TARNISHED BRONZE') and subsequent investigations (Senator ESTES KEFAUER in 1951, Senator RICHARD M. NIXON in 1952), the picture of the "Man of Bronze" became a major event in the battle for CIVIL RIGHTS in America. Savage was never brought to trial, but his holdings were liquidated by court order for compensation to the Crime College's victims. Rumors abound - especially in the tabloids - that Savage is still alive and in exile, but no proof of this has yet been found. * * *

CAST OF CHARACTERS THE ORIGINAL TEAM Clark "Doc" Savage, Jr. (aka Clark Robeson Dent) In 1950, following the events in "Up From Earth's Center," he returned to the caverns of Maine – alone, unarmed, and in secret – in a determined attempt to recapture the mysterious villain Wail. Instead, he was caught off-guard, rendered unconscious, and placed into suspended animation by an enemy (for more details, read Epilogue, "Bronze Refined as Silver"). Awakened fifty years later and finding himself in Oregon, he wandered into a downtown rescue mission, heard the message of salvation preached by Perry Liston and received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Taken in by Liston's church, he faced the harsh reality of the world recognizing Doc Savage as a criminal. Adopting the identity of 'Clark Robeson Dent', he and Liston traveled the United States to reconcile with the surviving members of his team. He now fights the source of evil as a traveling evangelist, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.

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The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett "Monk" Mayfair Monk tried desperately to keep fighting crime during and after the Senate hearings. However, after several major events changed his life – his marriage to his 'favorite secretary' Lea Aster, the birth of his daughter Caroline, and the shocking suicide of his old friend and sparring partner Ham – he turned his back on his old life of crimefighting and adventuring, and withdrew to a lakefront house near Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he remained in isolation until located by Clark and Perry. Shortly after, Clark was able to lead him to know God's peace. Several years prior to that, convinced that Doc would one day return, Monk had purchased the land on which the Crime College stood. Later, he, Renny, and Johnny devised a plan that would eventually become the Clark Savage Institute. Brigadier General Theodore Marley "Ham" Brooks Ham was unable to keep the everyday activities and responsibilities of the Savage holdings following the Senate hearings. The resulting stress, compounded by his disbarment from legal practice and a growing alcohol abuse problem, prompted his suicide in 1953. Ham's wife Dorothy, unable to cope with the loss, abandoned their infant son Donald with Monk and Lea Mayfair, and disappeared. Ivan (John) "Renny" Renwick In 1989, everyone believed that Renny had been killed in the collapse of the Interstate 880 freeway during the Loma Prieta earthquake. He had, however, barely escaped. But his own desire for the adventure of the past caused him to perpetuate the lie and therefore become a fugitive. He ended up in Romania, where he found a reason to settle down and get married. Later, Renny (now Ivan) and wife Amanda returned to the United States, and are now living on their farm in Oberlin, Kansas. Since Clark's return, both he and Amanda have become Christians, and Renny has played a major part in the design and construction of the Clark Savage Institute. William Harper "Johnny" Littlejohn Breaking from the team during the Senate hearings, he continued his love of archaeology and participated in several digs around the world, accepting a professorship in a small California university, and becoming the head of the Archaeology Department at Drake College in Vermont. He has since moved to the Clark Savage Institute where he is Dean of the Archaeology Department. Thomas "Long Tom" Roberts In the 1960's, technology authored by Long Tom was sold to governments allied to the United States who later became enemies. That technology ended up being used in weaponry during the Vietnam War, causing great loss of life and property. While on a fact-finding mission through a village decimated by this weaponry, Long Tom discovered the connection. Stunned and horrified at the revelation, he accidentally triggered a booby trap that destroyed his legs and hospitalized him. While guilt pushed him towards taking his own life, he was drawn to the cries of a little girl also in the hospital, the only survivor of that same village. Compassion towards the girl gave him a new reason to

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The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD live. He later adopted the girl and raised her as if she were his own daughter. They settled in Lincoln City, Oregon, and spent many years in anonymity before being reunited with Doc. Shortly after, however, he suffered a heart attack that eventually cost him his life. On his deathbed, though, he was able to clear his conscience of the truth behind the loss of his legs, and, with Clark's help, was finally able to know peace with God before the end. Patricia "Pat" Savage Clark's cousin and only living relative. In light of events chronicled in "Bronze Refined as Silver" and "More Precious Than Gold", she turned her life from one of selfish goals to selfless goals. She is currently developing her island home into a refuge and home for children who have been abandoned or orphaned. THE NEW TEAM Perry Liston A former street preacher from Portland, Oregon, he found his life tied into Clark's. Now, as his friend and companion, he shares the task of evangelism with Second Chances Ministry. Dorothy ("Dot") Liston Granddaughter of Monk Mayfair and Ham Brooks, wife of Perry Liston. Prompted to accompany Clark and Perry in the reconciliation of Clark's past, she eventually married Perry and is the third partner of Second Chances Ministry. Became a Christian through Perry in "Bronze Refined as Silver". Bonnie Clayton Former mercenary and member of Jill Woodward's APEX group, she encountered Clark and Perry in "More Precious Than Gold". She is now the Chief of Security for Caroline Island. Became a Christian through Clark in "Bronze Avengers". Clark "Gumball" Mayfair Firstborn son of Monk and Lea Mayfair. Freelance pilot. First worked with Clark and Perry by rescuing them from Pat Savage in "Bronze Refined As Silver." Has worked with them on several occasions, mostly as a pilot. Became a Christian through Monk in "The Abduction of Amy Roberts". Amy Mayfair Adopted daughter of Long Tom Roberts, wife of Clark "Gumball" Mayfair. She was at her father's bedside when he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and made the same decision soon after. What began as a big brother-little sister relationship with Gumball blossomed into a romantic involvement. They married and now live in her family's home in Lincoln City, Oregon, where she carries on her father's electronics research. THE FAMILIES Lea Mayfair

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she was adopted and raised by Monk and Lea Mayfair. THE ALLIES Douglas Martin Grandson of the founder of Ham Brooks' law firm. Jillian Woodward A former employee of Patricia Inc. She and Pat were adversaries until they realized they had both been used by the same man (see "More Precious Than Gold"). he helped Clark become accustomed to modern life during his first months after coming out of hibernation. and now he is the main legal arm for Clark and Perry. now wife of Monk Mayfair.. she is hearing-impaired. Woodward was taken in by Mitchell Drake's organization and given a new identity. Caroline "Carrie" Brooks The illegitimate daughter of Monk Mayfair and Patricia Savage. Dorothy ("Dot"). he was befriended and personally mentored by Ham. she harshly disagreed with harmful business practices of the company. Hamilton. Mark. Amanda Renwick Romanian-born wife of Renny Renwick.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The former Lea Aster. He currently operates a ministry house in Portland. and Deborah . She lives in The Office. In 1975. Oregon. where he is currently the senior partner. and is spearheading efforts to establish ministry houses across the United States. He was introduced to Clark and Perry through Douglas Martin. Donald Brooks was killed in an automobile accident involving a drunk driver. They have no children. and so formed the 'terrorist' group APEX that targeted exploiters of women. She is currently Administrator of the Serenity Drug and Alcohol Freedom Center (aka 'Serenity Center') in New York City. Christine Snow Turned into a paraplegic by a terrorist bomb and forced to retire from Government service. the focal point of the organization's activities. as well as being the first one called in when a situation requires "special" talents.and eleven grandchildren. a high-tech house in an undisclosed location. Carrie married her long-time friend Donald Brooks. and she gave birth to a daughter. eventually prompting Carrie to seek a career in substance abuse rehabilitation. Mitchell "Mitch" Drake Director of a covert organization that has helped Clark and crew over the years. Years later. Jack Heady A close friend and church brother of Perry Liston. she was recommended by Mitchell Drake to become the executive secretary for Second Chances Ministries. He met Clark through a mysterious trunk left in their care prior to Ham's death (see "Bronze Refined as Silver"). and a board member of the Clark Savage Institute. He worked for several years within the Intelligence community (where he still has strong ties) and eventually returned to his grandfather's firm. Clark. 4 . She and Monk have five children . son of Ham Brooks.Carrie.

He continued questioning. realizing that they had duped him. "You are awake. "Well." "I will take you to the king. "I want to leave. Then he sat bolt upright on the bed. she now heads her own media relations organization. "Let's go." Well. but with some sort of tranquilizer dart. He also looked strong enough to best Franklin two out of three falls if he wanted to." he replied simply." That was the last thing Daniel Franklin remembered before waking up in the Valley of the Vanished.kidnapped .. Toto. his clothing was of a similar design. They hadn't shot him with live ammunition. He looked as if he went with the house. the decorations looked remotely Mexican . He was still a little groggy. that's interesting. He was grateful to be alive. His first impression of the house was that it reminded him of the set of an old Tarzan movie. but ." Franklin replied sarcastically. where was he? He looked around his surroundings.. standing and straightening his clothing." he thought." he quoted sarcastically to himself. He was in the Valley of the Vanished. he didn't recognize the reference. Upon examination.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Karleen Bush Once the Media Liaison for the Clark Savage Institute. that confirms that. "You are in my house. as he felt his chest where he had been hit by bullets from the two pistols. Tonto. which he now realized matched the native's." "Okay. The man looked at him with a puzzled expression." 5 . "Good guess.to that place where Pat went. Just then someone came in. but where am I? What is this place?" "You are in the Valley of the Vanished. "Yes. realizing he wasn't on Caroline Island any longer. * * * PROLOGUE: 3 1/2 years earlier "You're fired. Aztec." the man said in halting English. he thought to himself.. "Where am I?" he asked the native. I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. maybe? He arrived at the conclusion that he has been taken ..

It was like he was in the middle of nowhere. He was clothed in royal attire. he climbed up the three steps and settled into the chair." the native replied nonchalantly. looking at him." And he continued walking. "You CAN'T hold me here! I am a FREE citizen of the United States of America! This is a violation of my civil rights." His statement didn't impress Franklin. All of what Pat had told him about this place was true. and the two men stood and walked before the throne. he countered. gold?" he blurted. and you are being quarantined here within this Valley until such a time as you are free of this disease. Then the native backed away. The native placed a hand under Franklin's elbow. "I am King Mordecai. but this was way beyond that. "NO. all of it. "Daniel Franklin. "Of course it is. After several minutes. The man on the throne looked at him with distain. The king just sat there. but the man lifted it as if it were a butter knife. Franklin shook his head with unbelief. his voice echoing. I've been brought here against my will. "That's nice. On either side. The clang echoed throughout the hall. and simultaneous struck them." he said coldly. They moved off to one side.." he identified himself after a few moments. After a few minutes they arrived at a structure which the native called the Hall of Justice. were stone bleachers. He had discounted much of it as the ravings of a drunken woman. The buildings reminded him again of Mexico. It was true . "Well?" Franklin asked impatiently. and I wish to be returned to my place of origin. you can't!" Franklin exploded. "Is that . yet in perfect English. and walked over to a golden throne. "Daniel Franklin. you will remain here!" 6 . two well-dressed natives entered with bell-like objects. They came through a large door at one end." There was no immediate response. You contain the disease of hatred and murder. it must've weighed quite a bit.. but he couldn't discount what his eyes beheld. The king stood and leveled the rod at him. and I demand to see a lawyer NOW!" Mordecai wasn't fazed by Franklin's tantrum.. Without hesitation. and sat. against the walls beyond the pillars.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The first thing that hit Franklin once they got outside was the silence. I am the law here! The rights you have are what I give you! Until you prove to me that you are no longer a threat to this Valley. In an even tone. "In the Valley of the Vanished. "It is our sacred pyramid. stood before the throne.." Then he sat. his voice was cold. He took up a golden rod. and walked between two rows of pillars. "I rule this land. Then he saw the shining pyramid in the distance and froze in his tracks. Then another man entered from one of two doors on either side of the throne. and Franklin stood alone. He was used to a degree of quietness being on Caroline Island.

evildoer?" "Yes. offering a bronze giant with a burden on his back God's gift of freedom. The king gestured to the other native. family has meant so much more to me." ordered the king.oftentimes it can be the home of a friend or relative. Especially the one that originated in a simple rescue mission. and two natives with long knives and mean looks suddenly appeared between them. He gave in to it. If you behave respectfully. it will go well for you here. The two armed natives lowered their weapons but didn't move. and he. The king smiled thinly. The black man tried to resist. I will. you win for now. "Daniel Franklin. looking back to give the king a dirty look.. * * * CHAPTER ONE: The present You never know what God has in mind until you get there. and who can let the RV'er know what the urgent stuff is while they're still on the road. And reality hasn't been the same since. routine from important. And when the RV'er is in the area. who quickly came to his side. who's authorized to screen the mail." He gestured. are you certain you wish to house this . Franklin stopped his advance and backed up to where he had stood before.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Franklin continued to yell. * * * Many RV'ers like us. But I will not give up. "Then I will personally introduce you to the Island of Shame. And nothing will stop me. and Benjamin took Franklin's elbow. "Yes." "And if I refuse?" he challenged. Just the look on the king's face was enough to intimidate him to silence. "NO! You have no right to hold me here!" He took a step towards the throne. and they headed out the way they came. they can stop by in person and collect what they've received. I introduced the giant to the family of God. "Benjamin. who are on the road for months at a stretch. and the guards parted. in turn. he thought. separate the junk from the non-junk. "Very well. Ever since finding out that Dot and I couldn't have children. As soon as I can escape from here. "Leave. Okay. my King!" The king spoke to him in an unknown tongue. usually have a central address where their mail can be sent . introduced me to his family. the man who brought you here." he addressed in English. 7 . "You will now be returned to the house of Benjamin.. he vowed to himself. but the Mayan's grip was strong. my King!" he replied in the same tongue." Franklin didn't respond.

so far.00. and Iverson Attorneys-at-Law New York City. Inside the cardboard box was a smaller box. We regret to inform you of the passing of your uncle. and a monetary gift in the amount of $2. Under the conditions of his will. Such a wild story had to be an unfortunate combination of an overactive imagination and old age. overlooking the beach in Lincoln City. and a cashier's check in the amount of the gift are enclosed. we were traveling alone. he designated that you receive the following: One (1) ring box. Liston. It was another lazy morning. I chuckled. who passed away in his sleep at his home on April 3rd of this year. of all things. with several blockbuster stories credited to his byline of Matchless. and enabled him to become. Digging to retrieve it. many years ago. The ring box. and I remembered the times spent with him with fondness. he had been in Communist China. however. I read the letter. How he ended up escaping had been a mystery. it had a New York City postmark. Perry Patrick Liston. invisible. Hill. Addressed to me. Our RV. 8 . Our mail had filled a tall ten-gallon storage container. Liston for a number of years. Uncle Perry had been a newspaperman in New York many. I had counted twenty-six credit card applications and an even thirty AOL CDs. remote mailbox and screening service. just before they got married. I quickly tore through the paper. and amazing escape using a ring that been given him by an old Chinese gentleman. our phone number and address are on the letterhead. sealed by Mr. torture. and Amy and Dot were in the kitchen. Setting the storage container and the smaller box aside for the moment. it was a box about the size of a recipe container. was parked alongside their house. over on the beautiful Oregon Coast. Two years ago. Our condolences go out to you. Gumball had gone into town. This time. or need to contact us for anything. and Uncle Perry's recollections seemed to be more fantasy than reality. I had been named after my uncle. During the 1960's. They hadn't been as good at sorting out the junk from the rest. and ended up spending some time as a prisoner of the Red Chinese Army. Graham H. Mr.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Our home-away-from-home. I remembered sitting next to him on the porch of his house as he told the story of his capture. and we are saddened at his passing. Hill Frisco. Sincerely Yours. and a letter with my name on it. New York My chest felt heavy as I lowered the letter. nicknamed Nomad. Liston prior to entrusting us with it. If you have any questions. to accommodate Clark's semi-trailer Goliath and us during our special visits. and I was slowly working my way down. and my curiosity peaked. was the home of "Gumball" and Amy Mayfair. they had constructed a special concrete slab with hookups for utilities.600. Our firm had worked with Mr. But then I spotted a lump in the middle of the pile.

it struck me as odd that the ring fit as well as it did . It was a good-sized band.." I replied. do you feel .. I unfolded the note. There weren't many people down there. but I can't see you!" All of a sudden she froze.?" I muttered under my breath as I read the note.. "-. I set the note aside and slowly pulled the ring away from the backing." Dot said. closing the distance. Why should I?" "Look at your hands. "How long . "Are you okay. hon?" I said. "I can hear you. they weren't there. then stumbled and fell onto her backside in the sand. It was strange. She hesitated.. I put the papers from the package on top of the other papers in the box. in Uncle Perry's handwriting. "Honey! Where are you?" she called. glanced at it for a moment. then muttered. We weren't more than a dozen yards apart. the back of my hand striking a piece of driftwood in the sand. hesitatingly. Underneath the wrapping was the ring box. Then I slipped it onto my right ring finger. with a black stone. I held it up to the light..ahhhhhhh!" "Now you know what I'm talking about.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD I separated the check from the letter. and got up from the couch. almost as if it had been made for me." I looked at her strangely. then set it aside as I looked at the box. Odd.. Inside the lid was a folded note. the stone's a hematite... It was handwritten. and rubbed my thumb over the stone. 9 . cryptic. "Lunch!" called Dot from the kitchen. different in any way?" she asked. yet she called out again for me. Dot and I donned swimsuits and ventured down to the beach with a Frisbee. I thought. and the ring I had remembered. waving my arms and continuing to jog in her direction. "I think I should be the one asking that. It didn't make sense. and was addressed to me. As I moved closer.. or a black diamond . * * * Later. but got back up and tossed the disc back. "Right here. and opened the box. sealed with a heavy film of wax around the seam. and started to backpedal away from me. As I flexed my hand." "Why should I look at my --" I moved my hands in front of my face. "No. I didn't think anything of it. "What do you mean by that?" "Hon . I was running towards Dot when she suddenly got a strange look on her face. I used my thumbnail to break the seal.. her expression turning from shock to fear. the same name we'd given to Goliath's 'tow car'. she moved farther away. and we were enjoying ourselves when I lunged for the Frisbee and fell sideways.

but it made sense. Then at the appropriate time. Take 'em off.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "I'm . She started reaching up to me. giving it a gentle squeeze. and we were both certain that my condition wasn't permanent.. "No ." 10 . "No." Dot instructed." It was embarrassing. wide-eyed. "I can feel your hand. And it would look strange to see me walking up the beach with a pair of swim trunks minus a body." "What?" "It's the only part of you that's still visible." commented Amy. "It's . I reached out my arms for her to touch. We had only taken a couple of steps when Dot stopped. "Here. She got to her feet. let's go. it's okay. Dot handed me my trunks. "Okay. * * * I was still invisible when we reached Gumball and Amy's.." "Let's go back up to Gumball and Amy's. I was calmer than I had been. Okay. Put your hand on my elbow . then changed her mind. "Give me your hand. and I was no actor." Dot took them out of mid-air and held them with the Frisbee.." I started to slip out of them. "Okay." It was crazy... Better. "Sit down. Dot broke the news to Amy while I remained silent. Let me check you out. I hate to say this. here. "Perry. "This feels really weird.." she suggested. My mind flashed back to old movies and TV shows. I was. but took a moment to check myself out. but . I don't think so." I went along. I spoke and revealed my presence to her. thankfully. and she was amazed.. then I filled them. and special effects that portrayed invisibility. I'm invisible!" I gasped.. but . just like that. "Wild.. and confusing realizing that nobody but the two of us knew that fact. no one else had noticed my 'condition'. She looked around us. I reached out to her and touched her hand... Wouldn't be proper if you suddenly became visible. Do you feel sick or anything?" I was breathing rapidly. realizing that I was naked on this public beach. but I could only see hers." The trunks floated in the air for a moment. As I lowered the trunks I made sure that I was invisible under them.. you've got to take off your trunks. But this wasn't a movie or a TV show. it wouldn't. would it?" "No. but Dot and I had had a chance to talk once we were sure we weren't being overheard. yeah. trying to take things in stride. It wrapped around mine." she said.

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD I sat down on the couch as she went into the other room." "Perry. Even to me it looked strange as it hovered in mid-air. "Honey." said Gumball. "No!" 11 . then tilted and the liquid vanished inside of me. look at our collective backgrounds. I'm home. we heard him getting a glass of water from the sink. bizarre!" He plopped down on an opposing couch. I didn't see you." I replied." Suddenly the door opened. "So what do we do. "Thank God we have plastic glasses. then returned with a glass of milk. Somehow he's become invisible. and pulse. I handed it back. Have to go to the bathroom." After a few minutes. "Perry? What th--?" "It's okay. "I'm right here. She took my temperature." "Whoa. I stood." asked Gumball. or how long it's going to last. "Be right back. fine." commented Amy with a grin. bud. where's Perry?" he asked. though. there you are. "Thanks." I said. He dropped off his jacket. He went into the kitchen. Then she returned with a small bag. just wait until you become visible again?" "Guess so. "If you drink liquids. "This'll be good. "Of course. "Hey. "You're fine. and drinking from it." "I wonder. This is the Doc Savage universe. "Yeah. this shouldn't really be a surprise. Gumball bolted out of the kitchen. A moment later we heard the glass fall to the floor with a watery clunk. and looked in the direction of my empty swim trunks. I suddenly felt another urge. "Good point. He poked his head out." I nodded to myself and grinned. I don't have a clue how it happened. I finished it and burped appreciatively." she concluded. blood pressure. "Here. After all. and said hi to Dot." He went into the kitchen. you okay?" he asked. "Oh. A moment later. all of it." he commented as he ducked back into the kitchen. "He's there. weird is part of our job descriptions." "Can I watch?" asked Gumball. He was right. when you think about it. do they become invisible inside of you? Hang on a sec." I mumbled." said Dot. except for the fact that you're invisible." I took the glass. "Normal.

though . My wedding ring. Strange. Amy quickly checked out my vital signs again. and the stories he had told me. "Meanwhile. "Fine. It happened so quickly that if you blinked. Then I summarized Uncle Perry's life.. but my rings aren't." I suddenly realized something. how long have I been invisible?" Dot said.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Just curious. They actually happened! I must've triggered the ring somehow when we were tossing the Frisbee around. "Y'know. they were fact!" Everybody else was leaning in towards me." "Wait!" exclaimed Amy. She quickly changed to a fresh tape and trained it on me while Gumball set up the tripod and power adaptor.. "But they weren't just tall tales." "If my uncle was right. "My uncle! He was actually able to become invisible!" "What are you talking about?" asked Gumball. "Who did what?" asked Dot.. Satisfied?" Gumball was too embarrassed to answer." When I returned. and the next I was." I replied indignantly. "It became visible. you missed it. I wouldn't have known the difference. rushing off. "If I would've had my eyes closed at the time." "Rings?" asked Dot. concluding that I had not suffered unduly from my experience. It was as if one second I wasn't there. my trunks are visible. sheepishly." "I'll let you know what happens." said Gumball. I'm locking the door.. it's as if there's an aura around my body that keeps anything within my skin from being seen. "I don't know . I became visible within five minutes. so explain. "Before you do that. "Omigod! He did it! He actually did it! They weren't just tall tales. "How do you feel?" asked Dot. "Yeah. and the --" I froze." he replied. so hurry!" I replied. After the initial shock. I sat back down on the couch. and the ring bequeathed to me from my Uncle Perry. I reported. maybe less." I said hesitatingly. "Hey. "The scientific mind wonders. maybe an hour. I explained about receiving the package from New York. Poof!" "Okay. "You're telling me that ring of your uncle's made you invisible?" 12 . I should become visible any minute now. lemme get my camcorder!" "I don't think I have a voice in the matter.

It's like the old Spider-Man adage: 'With great power comes great responsibility. "No. so it'll show exactly when you become invisible. and pressed the top of the ring with my other hand. exactly. the ring off.." said Dot. referring to Monk Mayfair.. "I'm calling Dad. I shook my head." announced Amy. I suddenly felt awed by its power. "Now you see him. and. "Well. "I've got the time display on. Let's see if I can get it to work again.." I realized invisibility was going to have its own set of rules I'd have to adapt to. "One hour. "I don't know.. I'm fine." quipped Gumball. that's good to know." I was recalling more of what Uncle Perry had told me about the ring.' There's a lot to this I've gotta pray through. You gonna call Clark?" "I would. overlooking the Pacific Ocean." * * * "Fifty-nine minutes and counting. 13 ." "Feel any different?" inquired Dot.." I slowly eased the ring off. when Gumball came out and stood next to me. Whenever you're ready. I remembered that pressing on the top of the ring would trigger the invisibility. "So now what?" asked Amy." * * * I was standing on the balcony. "This kinda thing is right up his alley." said Gumball. is the camcorder on?" She nodded. "Perry? I asked if you felt any different. it's mine.. and placed it on the table in front of me. "Now we wait." I said." Staring at the ring. "I don't know." I realized she couldn't see me shake my head.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "As strange as it sounds. though. yes! It had worked for him for years.now what?" asked Gumball. I'm . I'll leave a voicemail on his cell once we've got some conclusions. "Here we go. "Now you don't. I felt a wave of excitement through me as my hands vanished.. it's not an emergency. put it in its box. going to take . as weird as this is." "Back to the earlier question -." As everyone looked at me. So I sent off a silent prayer. and now . Carefully. "So now we know.. I took a deep breath. In the meantime. but he specifically asked us not to call unless it was an emergency . I became visible once more. Amy.

"Let's pack a couple of overnight bags and lock up the Nomad. Dennis Hopper. "Sorry. All of my instruments say it's an ordinary ring with a silver band and a black stone. "I got online and did a little searching on the subject of invisibility." I looked at Dot. I figure you can check it out during the flight. and they frighten my dogs so badly every time they come through!" 14 . "Yeah. plain and simple! They're all rebels! They terrorize small rural towns like 20th Century Mongol hoards. No hidden mechanisms." "I remember something about the Hell's Angels at Woodstock back in the 60's. Let's go. "Okay. though. even if they did have to crack a few heads. "Shall I call him back?" I turned away from the roaring ocean." she informed me." he reported. And they're heroes. Amy and Dot joined us. they just ride bikes instead of horses." Gumball repeated Monk's suggestion. "Doesn't surprise me.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Dad's excited about this. "You take such good care of me. that's what I say!" "Their motorcycles are so loud! You can hear them halfway across town." "He suggests that." * * * CHAPTER TWO What do you think of when you hear the word 'motorcycle gangs'? "The movies." I kissed her. All I remember is that they got the job done. Lee Marvin. My mind was elsewhere. Dot handed me a leather case containing my PDA. don't they bring teddy bears to sick kids every Christmas?" "They're evil. Peter Fonda." A few minutes later." As we got ready. if we can't come up with anything concrete. Marlon Brando. Perry. Young In The Streets. The Wild Ones. Amy handed me back the ring. Can't remember if they were the good guys or the bad guys." "They're modern cowboys. raping and pillaging at will without consideration for anyone but themselves!" "Did'cha ever see Mad Max – that's what bikers do if you don't stop 'em! Wipe the lot of 'em off the planet. Hell's Angels on Wheels. we hop in the Thunder and make a quick trip to Oklahoma. "While you guys were figuring out what to do." I nodded." "Flatterer.

For a moment the onlookers thought there'd be real trouble. all seeking the same freedom as he. Iron Mike. Kelly ("Irish") O'Neal. as the two men silently circled one another. Near the lake. a makeshift camp had been erected. pouring another pint of sauce over the deer. One long-haired brunette shrieked as she came tumbling down in a mix of arms and legs. with a major in Business Administration and minors in wrestling and football. I can't wait till I can get a bike of my own! I mean.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Gawd. a former Marine chef who had done two tours in Vietnam back in the early 70's. A disorganized parking lot of motorcycles indicated that some serious partying down was in progress. the women swiped at each other with tree branches." drawled the cook. Many were drifters. trying to knock the other off balance. and never looked back. She swatted at the man who had carried her. O'Neal turned and sauntered about the camp like a king within his kingdom. Seven years earlier O'Neal had been just another worker bee trying to climb the corporate ladder. and was captured 15 . So one sunny day in July he sold his mortgaged house for 40% of its worth. Their ladies riding on their shoulders. As they came within range. And so was born the Southern Riders Motorcycle Club. and the man who held them together. "Excellent. excellent!" he commented to the cook. the men charged towards one another. "I do m'best. took to the road. Joe. exchanged his leased Porsche for a cherry red Electra-Glide and his dark suit for leathers. barely able to keep erect. inexplicably. Ben had just won two-out-of-three-falls and Morton was reacting by unleashing a barrage of cursing and screaming. face it. rock music blasted from a boom box while men and women in various stages of nudity were splashing playfully in the water. then they both got to their feet to try their luck again. * * * At the center of the camp. Somewhere between a highway and a lake. and Cockroach. Then. goin' wherever the spirit takes you. with names like Blades. there ain't nothin' hotter than a biker chick!" * * * Somewhere in the midst of these opinions was the SRMC. But the stress of the dark suits had been too much for him. the two men broke into simultaneous laughter. man! There ain't nothin' better than riding with the wind in your face and bugs in your teeth. the Southern Riders Motorcycle Club. the two former combatants ran down to the edge of the lake and performed twin cannonballs which sprayed everyone nearby. but they saw the natural-born-leader in O'Neal and followed. He hadn't expected others to join him. Irish. At his side was a busty blonde by the name of Ginny. bikes are the ultimate freedom. A wrestling match was taking place next to the lake between a newcomer by the name of Morton and longtime veteran China Ben. * * * It was late afternoon in the Dakotas. O'Neal was admiring a deer slowly roasting over a barbecue pit. A couples' joust was taking place in the center of a ring of spectators. she'd been dumped by her last boyfriend back in El Paso. livin' life to the fullest! And. The battle over.

What th' hey! At least the Preacher's straight up with what he believes. She gravitated into O'Neal's orbit. and his hard face broke into a wide grin. Preach. especially for only two wheels. Inside that huge bike frame was a three-hundred-and-fifty-friggin'cubic-inch Chevy V6 automobile engine! He knew that was a real load of horsepower riding there. Irish!" his voice boomed. and the biker leader was amazed as he watched the big man's hands smash into the hard. also made outta steel. as they showed through his black tank top. of course. Three feet tall and half as wide. and the basket over the rear wheel was made of inch-wide welded steel bars. O'Neal shrugged. O'Neal observed. As he admired the view. He stood and slapped the dust from his hands and his leathers. he felt that all was well with the world . you two are missin' all th' fun!" he ribbed jovially. the muscles in his arms were like steel cables. But his passed impressive and went right to awesome. The Preacher was near their tents. They wandered up a nearby hill. prepping a fire pit of their own. I need to talk to th' Preacher. taking a draw off the beer. his eyes gravitated towards their bikes. As he strode up the rest of the hill. "We'll be down there in a couple of minutes!" 16 . She rode a Harley-Davidson Road King." "Sure thing. how's it going?" The Preacher turned from what he was doing. especially for a chick. And. Then he heard a noise behind him. "There'll be plenty of time for housekeeping later!" "Just finishin' up. Preach. very impressive. You could stuff a midget into one of those saddlebags. He must've been seven feet tall. I just need to get them to play with th' rest of us. "Stay here.not as long as the Preacher and his lady chose to pitch their tents away from the others. so he was okay. Irish. and knew that all was not well with the world . He also knew it took a lot of muscle to keep something like that under control.his boys were okay. with skin bronzed by the sun and muscles that didn't fit with the profession. "C'mon. He had always admired bikes. But these two had some quality metal. "Hey. and he'd seen some of the most amazing ones since taking to the road. brother!" he answered in a deep voice. O'Neal envied the Preacher. there was the cross.the Holy Grail of twowheelers." she squealed obediently. The Preacher was just as impressive as his choice of bikes. "Good. laid out neatly side-by-side like some Boy Scout camp. It was a custom Boss Hoss . His back was to O'Neal. where O'Neal could look down on his kingdom. and left her folks to travel with him. Everything was big about this bike.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD by the romance of the biker. He reached out and shook O'Neal's hand with a fist that could've held a cocoanut and a grip that could've easily crushed one. dry ground like shovels. taking a step towards O'Neal. doll. "Not cool." he commented.

And you know I didn't have a problem when you asked to ride with us.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Good!" O'Neal's jovial expression suddenly vanished. private?" "Sure. "I never assumed this would be a milk run. can I talk to you . "Yeah. I do." "Not a problem. And I'm sorry 'bout puttin' distance between us." "You know that's not true. O'Neal couldn't say. And I appreciate you letting us be part of the Southern Riders. "Ah told ya." Their attention was suddenly directed towards a disturbance below. But they don't." O'Neal's observation was correct. A potential rumble was starting to draw a crowd. Bonnie said. Maybe it had to do with the bronze man's religion. Preach. Standing with her hands out and palms open in a non-offensive stance.. I don't want to fight you!" 17 ." He angled his head in the direction of the rest of the bikers. O'Neal would have felt threatened by the presence of a powerful man like the Preacher. How 'bout after dinner?" "That'd be great! Thanks." He smiled. "Speaking of which. "And they're not likely to understand. well. Irish. But there was something about him that made him easy to get along with. I think your lady's in trouble. either. That's not why we're here. it wouldn't. I've got nothin' against you or your lady. and his tone lowered.. Bonnie had been heading down to get some water. swearing at Bonnie. They see preachers as authority figures . Daisy Mae. But he sincerely liked the guy. "You know. Preach!" "No problem." They started walking down the hill together. Would it hurt'cha to move down into our neighborhood while you're with us?" "No. and you know how bikers love authority figures. he did understand. I'm just givin' you a friendly heads-up: things might get worse. and the words you spoke at his funeral were fine.. "Look. but had been intercepted on the way back by a muscular brunette in halter top and jeans by the name of Daisy Mae. Irish. Crusher was a brother biker.. If you're gonna ride with us. you're gonna have'ta bunk with us. But there's a lot of them down there that don't feel the same way as I do. What's up?" "I'll be straight with you. "Preach. The two of you settin' up camp away from the rest of us . Under other circumstances. it makes it look like you think you're better than the rest of us. Now she stood in Bonnie's way and had no intention of letting her pass. even if it is for a short time.. He didn't threaten O'Neal's authority. keep yur eyes offa my man!" she yelled.." he defended.

Bonnie was afraid that she might not be a match for this industrial strength biker chick. they plunged straight into the lake and went under. "Fifty. "What. "No. you got me?" She punctuated her statement with an obscenity and a left hook. Which left her with .. rebuking herself for falling for a stupid move like that. sending her face-first into the dirt. and that she might have to get medieval on her butt. "Deal!" As the two men shook on the bet.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD However. she knew at least a dozen ways to kill a person with her bare hands. grabbed a handful of Daisy Mae's halter top." she said. that's not what I'm saying . While Daisy Mae ungainly got to her feet. Too late to stop or turn away. Bonnie spun around. Bonnie. she glanced back at the water. Lethal was not an option. "Twenty bucks on Daisy Mae. Bonnie was back on her feet and actively defending herself." O'Neal let out a loud guffaw and swung a hand over. Bonnie stepped back to easily avoid the punch.." Daisy Mae suddenly lunged to the left. Preach?" "Nope. "You keep yur scrawny butt away frum my ol' man. From her years of being a mercenary. then added. I don't want or need yours!" That last statement made Daisy Mae's eyes blaze. Like an enraged Brahma bull. before she could react. Sputtering and stunned but not defeated. then . O'Neal tilted his head in the Preacher's direction and asked. Then..when Bonnie moved away . "Bonnie can take care of herself. snorted.. got it? I got my man.she swung hard to the right and caught the taller woman solidly on the side. Then. "You gonna break 'em up. Daisy Mae bent over. Bonnie leapt in the air. "I haven't gotten anywhere near your 'ol' man'. "Ah got ya now. the other woman wasn't in the mood to listen." The Preacher scoffed. and the two of them continued running towards the water. Bonnie looked around to find a way to end this quickly without bloodshed. what? Then she saw it. Bonnie went down. But those thoughts were far behind her now that she was a Christian. and charged. Back on the hill. having gotten the advantage. surfaced first in 18 . Bonnie reached out her hands and leap-frogged completely over the other woman. she got to her feet to continue the fight." O'Neal grinned." "Okay. Bonnie backed towards the edge of the water. Seeing her opponent in such a predicament caused Daisy Mae to laugh menacingly. As Daisy Mae circled her. At the right moment. Daisy Mae moved in and jumped her. And Daisy Mae charged again. Bonnie blocked it and came back with a punch of her own that caught the other woman on the jaw and sent her landing on her backside in the dirt. As if she hadn't meant to do it. you sayin' that your ol' man's better'n mine?" Bonnie realized her faux pas. then looked at Daisy Mae with an expression of terror. Daisy Mae swung a fist at Bonnie's head. But Bonnie was ready. before Bonnie could recover. and tried to correct things. performing an aerial somersault and landing behind Daisy Mae." the bronze man answered calmly. Thinking quickly.

wait . Clark?" exclaimed Bonnie. O'Neal laughed again. the Preacher came in and wrapped the towel around her shoulders with an affectionate squeeze. Daisy Mae gasped for air. Bonnie gave it a moment. But the other woman wasn't ready to capitulate. Then Bonnie heaved. slapped the Preacher hard on the back. sputtering and coughing. Back on the hill. "Uncle?" Daisy Mae nodded weakly between breaths. let's get you dried off. After a moment. then pushed her back under. She stuffed it into her jeans pocket. After a count of five. but only a handful of bikers had wandered over to socialize with them. As she did. "C'mon. Then she pulled her up out of the water. The biker leader guffawed loudly as he fished the cash out of his wallet and slapped it into the other man's palm. she pulled the sputtering and spitting Daisy Mae out of the water. with Bonnie holding her down. that is?" 19 . As Bonnie watched them leave. Many had passed out long ago. or carnally involved with their partner of choice. since I was the one getting beat up for it! C'mon!" She held out her hand until Clark passed over the winnings." stated the bronze man." she sighed. Daisy Mae was still underwater. and the crowd of onlookers dissipated. she changed the subject. Clark and Bonnie had moved their tents closer to the others. and continued down the hill. Daisy Mae's old man drew her away with a fresh bottle of beer and a slap on the rump. "Does it get easier .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD the shallow waters and secured a solid foothold on the lake bed. After dragging Daisy Mae back to shore. trying to show the love of God." * * * The party had continued into the wee hours of the morning. Laughing. Bonnie held Daisy Mae under for only a few seconds. "I want half! No. Water splashing everywhere." he reassured her. they were the only ones not unconscious from any number of controlled substances.. "I told you she could take care of herself. Daisy Mae still struggled. by the end of the night. "Fifty bucks. they walked away together. the Amazonian brunette wasn't doing well. she swung and twisted while Bonnie held a death-grip on the back of her halter top. but instead got a handful of spit and a string of blazing curses that practically singed the air around them. or had paired up and relocated to more private places. she pulled Daisy Mae up and inquired. Moreover. leaning into his reassuring hug. "And she treated it like an insult. Clark. but it seemed like hours. "I tried.. He went after a towel. Water in her eyes. she tried to offer her the hand of friendship. the Preacher casually reached an open palm across to O'Neal. but with less strength than before. then intercepted Bonnie below. "UNCLE?" Bonnie demanded again. her fire had finally been put out in the waters of the lake. and Daisy Mae's head went back underwater." "Give it time.I should get all of it. "UNCLE?" Bonnie demanded.

God started putting the old woman on Bonnie's heart.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Clark gave her a little smile and gently shook his head. Now I know why. "Well. "It's about time!" She turned to Clark. and a quick check found her not only still alive. and then unexpectedly abandoned by her boyfriend at the time. looking up an old friend of Bonnie's. electronics. and things became more interesting once Maggie heard that Bonnie was now a Christian. and they've spit at me. "I never knew.. Both of you. "I can't tell you how many years I prayed for this little scamp! It's nice to know that it wasn't all for naught. She nodded. But you keep on loving them the best you can and pray like mad when you can't. Maggie Slater took Bonnie under her wing and into her home until her Aunt Mabel could arrange for her to be relocated to Chicago. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to be a friend to someone. or just flat turned their back on me. or slapped me in the face. Miss Maggie. I'll bet you were in danger a lot. Yes. and the engines. 20 . Bonnie sighed." Now. Years ago." They recalled their previous stop during their 'road trip': New Orleans. looking into the campfire and reflecting on the encounter.. "God bless you. but was living in a retirement home in New Orleans. the elderly sister's eyes grew larger. the teenaged Bonnie condemned herself for having been spared the fate of her family. * * * CHAPTER THREE Blue Thunder II was a Boeing V-22 Osprey like its predecessor. Their time together hadn't been more than a few weeks." "Exactly." As she told about her life as a mercenary fighting in far-off lands. Their reunion was a happy one. But there had been considerable improvements made in the avionics. when Bonnie's entire family had perished in a tragic private plane crash. praise the Lord." "We never do. a beaming smile on her wrinkled ebony face. sirree!" "You prayed for me . Years later.." replied Clark understandingly. chile." The old woman sighed and her lips turned into a smile. but it had made a deep impression on the young Bonnie. I didn't wait long after takeoff to check out what Dot had downloaded onto my PDA. I was." "Like Miss Maggie never gave up on me. "Thank you. Then she took the woman's hands in hers and looked into her wrinkled face and said with tears in her eyes. you mean. young'un!" she exclaimed. "Nope. "I remember late nights that God would wake me out of a sound sleep with you on my mind. for . years?" repeated Bonnie.. am I right?" She nodded. Guilt-ridden. Margaret Slater had been there. "Yes.

Wells. there were textfiles of novels. garments. these experiments were successful only in the technical sense.the classic 'smoke and mirrors' technique.' That made sense. such as the Philadelphia Experiment. reportedly conducted on a naval vessel to make it invisible to the human eye and radar by using magnetism to bend light. Ninjas were said to be able to become invisible at will. even on the internet. I zoomed in on Wells. camouflage or distraction. folklore. which seemed closer to camouflage than actual 'invisibility'. Invisibility could make an individual the ultimate spy. though. right under the enemy's noses. given by man or by the gods. rather than making them easier to spot. It was also defined as 'the skill and/or art of not being detected or discovered. the main character became invisible. so went back to scanning through the references. In the long run. Whether by potions. you are vulnerable. I wonder if he ever considered what his little story would develop into. it is still a mystery. To some.S. I recognized that name. deception. Invisibility was generally defined as 'the ability or power of not being perceivable by the human eye through the usage of magic. about a scientist who discovers the key to becoming invisible. the ultimate voyeur. The articles.' Okay. There were even stories of early American Indians who could vanish from sight or disappear without a trace with the surrounding terrain. When you can't see a foe standing next to you. The military has been using camouflage in warfare for God-only-knows how long. breaking up their outline and effectively hiding them in broad daylight. but couldn't place where. invisibility was the ultimate power. Herbert George Wells wrote what would be the definitive literary work on the subject. soundfiles of songs. and fantasies where people have sought to become invisible. they told of a crimefighter by the name of The Shadow. Sure. Within Rosicrucianism there were teachings about surrounding yourself with a cloud-like shroud of invisibility. Government. It seems there were a lot of experiments in invisibility using electromagnetism throughout the 20th century. by deceiving the human eye in believing that nothing was there when it really was. and even a movie clip or two. Written in the 1930's.5-gigabyte memory strip was over 80% full with all the information Dot could load onto it in the time she had. I shifted ahead to literature. There was an entry about ships in World War Two being painted with loud bright colors in crazy geometric patterns. In 1898. Scanning the files. I got bogged down reading the technical papers related to attempts at invisibility. they had the opposite effect. Accounts told of people who used mental or supernatural powers to achieve invisibility. Some of the references were familiar: Tolkien. as were some of the Aborigines of Australia. more than I would've expected. There were a ton of references when it came to movie and 21 . albeit sensationalistic.' He also seemed to have been based in New York City. ritual. and even Harry Potter. and mass hypnosis. I could see that there certainly was a lot of information on the subject. then ended up going around killing his fellow scientists. an object or a machine. There were even hints of experiments by the U. Beneath the umbrella of these 'experiments' were stage magic and the like: smoke-and-mirrors.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The 1. stage magicians had been making things disappear for years using distraction and deception . and amulets. In the movie 'Hollow Man'. History was fraught with legends. I was impressed. One set of articles drew my attention. I made a mental note to talk to Clark about this. by means of stealth. reported that this person could become invisible by 'clouding men's minds. they all had the same thread.

a real straight shooter. examining it from various angles. "I did a little checkin' online while you were on yer way here. "Y'know. he had developed several new products . Many years ago. however. * * * With the ease that came from thousands of takeoffs and landings. then picked up a digital camera and took pictures from all sides. As we climbed out. listings of all the actors who've played the title character." I was touched. was Monk and Lea Mayfair. let's see it!" Monk begged. and I wuz actually able to find a couple of his old stories archived. Thanks. "'Curiouser and curiouser. Monk. Standing off to one side. Monk had been cooperating in a venture with Mitchell Drake to privately introduce some of these non-lethal products into the law enforcement community through Drake's cover enterprise Waverly Arms. "Boy. was inexpensive enough to make it practical in light of shrinking law enforcement budgets.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD television adaptations. He adjusted the angle. Perry. Then I chuckled to myself. 22 .as well as improvements or variations on the famous anesthetic gas and mercy bullets.'" I quoted quietly from Alice in Wonderland. Yeah. though .like the super-strong plastic Paradox . I actually knew your uncle. I got 'em printed in my den. just in case you wanna check 'em out. Over the last year. that's a beaut!" We followed the rest of them as they walked towards the house. He held it by two fingers. we all went directly to the laboratory. One of the characters in Alice was the Cheshire Cat . I stared out the window of the Osprey and tried to sort out the thoughts bouncing around in my head. and I never made the connection. Gumball settled the tilt-rotor aircraft onto the helipad between the lake and his parents' house.who could also become invisible. He put his hand under it and leaned in to get a better look. and the various television incarnations. Curious to see what Monk would discover about the ring. I set my PDA onto a side table and leaned back on the headrest. like a well-dressed gorilla and his lady handler. then placed it carefully into a padded clamp attached to a work table. interested parties sought to have the standard police round officially replaced with the mercy bullet. the effort failed miserably.all these years we've known each other." We entered the house. Funny thing. I held out my hand." * * * Monk Mayfair seemed to get his second wind as a chemist when he became a Christian. It was all so overwhelming. where I removed the ring and handed it to Monk. "I'd like that. But the new commercial round. he wuz a good writer . They promoted it by sending a case out to specific police departments free-of-charge for testing. they met us and greeted us with hugs and handshakes. It was slowly gaining in popularity. named TrankShots. "So. Since that point. He whistled appreciatively.

also without success. "They're Chinese. and Monk turned the ring over to his firstborn. putting a hand on my shoulder." he commented." sighed Gumball. "Thank God." Monk pressed down on the stone. Perry. and pressed the top. and I was glad they couldn't see the look of relief on my face. "Did I do it right?" he asked. matching my earlier movements.." he explained between shots. and everybody moved aside like the Red Sea before Moses. I shrugged. Lea gasped with surprise as I vanished within my clothes. and you're the man.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "I'm bringin' Johnny in on this. looked around at my audience. "Would you all please excuse me? I need to pray. I tried matching it up with what I knew. We all looked surprised at the development. "Okay." I said vaguely. "Okay. "Hey. "Can I give it a shot?" asked Gumball. I'm gonna email him these pictures so he'll have somethin' to look over. He tried it again. "I hope we didn't break it. squinting at the sides of the band. and repeated the motion of pressing on the top." "Amen. can I try it out? I've always wondered what it'd be like to be invisible. Gumball slipped it over his right ring finger. You've got a one-man ring there . who stepped forward and explained. "Hey. one thing's for sure. stepping forward. but couldn't find an exact match. then picked up the ring and turned it around again. and ." He straightened up. looking at me. Nothing. I put it back on my own finger. here goes nuthin'. "Okay. then carefully slipped it off his finger and handed it back to me. "Well. Pop!" Monk nodded. He looked around at us watching him. "Have you checked out these markings?" I glanced over at Amy.nothing. then nodded." I thought about it for a moment. He was still visible. He looked genuinely disappointed. my boy. but I left him a voicemail. the expressions on their faces was sympathetic to the frustration I was probably radiating. Since he's had more experience with strange and unusual artifacts than any man except'n maybe Clark an' me." he said regretfully. "He's in a class right now." agreed Monk. "Grab a hat on your way out! It wouldn't look good to have one of the neighbors spot you without your head!" 23 . "Yeah. "In-trest-ing." I turned towards the door. he might have a take on this that we don't.. Sure. Sorry. Perry!" Monk called after me." He placed it easily over a hairy finger and put one hand over the other." All of a sudden I felt very heavy. it's not broken.

. is something completely different. it was all of me.. "Johnny. The first time you were triggered was by accident. for I am with you. What did you have to do with this." I closed my eyes and stood there a moment. however you did it.. Then His words came to me: "For I know the plans I have for you. "I checked the markings from the pictures with the language professors here.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD I raised my arm to acknowledge him. and was followed by a promise from the book of Isaiah: "Do not be afraid.. but everything I wore was now as invisible as I was. this is such a great responsibility . after the old Chinese gentleman died. and it would empower its possessor with protection and grant them the 24 . I had to get back to the lab. "I think I also may have a lead on the stone in the ring. I will strengthen you.' I felt the ring and wondered if this was an example of Clarke's hypothesis. wow!" I exclaimed. "Oh. In ancient Sicily there was a stone called Achates. What kind of technology made you? I remembered a quote from science fiction author Arthur C. Nobody else can use this ring. waving me over. I didn't know what to make of this. And I prayed for the answers.what do I do with it?" I touched the ring on my finger. as I stepped out the door and walked towards the lake. But this . he's right.. "What are you? Science or magic? Of God or of Satan?" I addressed the ring. but would do for now. I walked carefully near the edge of the lake. without any deliberate intervention from me. to give you a future and a hope. just my body was invisible . for I am your God. * * * Monk was on the phone talking to Professor Littlejohn when I came in. we were all gathered in the den. waiting on God. I couldn't even see my clothing. including what I was wearing. you have the capability to cause invisibility. You're the mystery here. Clarke: 'Any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic. I had nothing to do with it. and my clothing became visible again. especially since Clark. Do not be dismayed. "They're Chinese for 'wind' and 'body'." the archaeology professor informed us. says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil. And now it's mine. and snatched a mens' cap off the sofa on my way out. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. "God. The stone resembled hematite. You did it. What Gumball said about weirdness being par for the course now .." It was a promise from the book of Jeremiah. I didn't. You know I've been open to a lot of new things from You. Uncle Perry?" I took a deep breath. I will help you. Whatever you are. I felt my arms and body. It was a bit too big. it was just Uncle Perry. tell the others what had happened. It was said to have been found in the Achates river. Perry just came in!" he said.the next. One minute. "Lemme put'cha on hold and pick it up on th' speakerphone!" A few minutes. "Lord. and was widely known to hold great mystic power. Correction: you have the capability to cause me to become invisible. When I opened them again. You did it. this .

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD ability . "Quite possibly! It's an extraordinary find. SADDLE UP!" The roar from the combined bikes was deafening. "Needless to say. Monk touched his stomach. I'd love to have a look at it first-hand. "Eddie. Clark and Bonnie. Johnny?" "Keep me informed. as long as we behave. had to follow everybody else and endure their combined exhausts." The tone of Johnny's voice lowered.. to turn invisible." "Monk?" Monk moved closer to the speakerphone. "So now what?" asked Gumball. Bonnie?" inquired Clark." He turned to a tall biker with a mullet. but matched speed and distance of the bikes ahead of them." "So you're saying that the stone in my ring came from this Achates stone?" I summarized." I said. What's say we talk about this over dinner. "You okay back there. "Okay. He was in full leathers. They didn't waver. I'm talkin' to you now! I don't want any more scenes like we had in Indian Sparks! Got it?" There was a wave of laughter at the tall biker's expense. okay?" * * * "LISSEN UP. my boy. his helmet tucked under his arm. if you'd allow me. through his helmet's intercom. but I'm hungry. "Thank you." Again. Perry. as the newest riders. "I don't know about you." He paused to let that sink in. "Yeah. 25 . then. the stone was in great demand to make amulets and talismans. okay?" "Sure thing! Thanks!" Monk hit a button to end the conversation. he grinned and gave O'Neal a nod.. stick close. "Perry. "Good! Okay! Any questions?" There was silence. "This is a remarkable blessing. everybody. and they slowly rolled away from their campsite and onto the two-lane blacktop. "Okay. and I could hear the compassion in it. and I'm sure you'll use it only with Divine wisdom. I was touched. I don't want nobody gettin' separated while we're goin' through these hills YOU HEAR ME? We'll be stoppin' for gas at Marystown and Sheridan: the cops'll leave us alone there. Johnny." "Sure. YA MOTORHEADS!" All eyes turned to see O'Neal standing on a tree stump.

. Sugah. What do you think? Would it be a mistake?" "It's not a matter of what I think. "We'll stop up ahead!" the biker boss called back. Clark effortlessly passed the convoy until he was side-by-side with O'Neal's bike. but I want to try talking to her at the next rest stop. I'll keep you covered. I may be a glutton for punishment. don't think . and their next party was a couple hundred miles ahead of them." she replied. and Clark reached out to touch fist-to-fist before pulling back and letting the convoy pass him. "Clark. hon. It's starting to buck on me!" "Okay! Hang on . so." he replied.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Yeah. it ain't easy. Preach?" his face showed worry. 26 . Their last rest stop was twenty miles behind them. "No!" Clark shook his head and motioned his arm forwards.I'll be right back!" Kicking in the Boss Hoss' engine. okay?" he comforted. "You?" "I'm good!" "Did you see the look Daisy Mae gave me when they pulled out?" "Before or after she gave us the finger?" "Don't remind me.. "Thanks!" "Okay! Later!" He stretched out a leather-gloved hand.. "Yes!" He gave him a grin. "Keep going! It's probably just a loose wire! We'll catch up with you!" "You sure. Bonnie's bike began to sputter. I'll need it. "I can hear it from here. "Bonnie's having a problem with her motor!" he yelled across the gap. I think I have a problem!" she called forward. once they got past the mountains.. you do what you have a peace about. "Like you said. "Can you make it to the next town?" "I ." "Thanks." * * * The Southern Riders had been riding for several hours. "Don't let it get to you." she groaned.

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Bonnie was still moving, but she had slid almost a mile back from the others. Her bike was hacking like a chain smoker, and she was struggling to keep it on the road. "I spotted a place right up ahead," he informed her. "Follow me!" She nodded back. A couple of minutes later they staggered into a clearing just beyond a grove of trees. Once their bikes had stopped, she discarded her helmet and knelt by the bike, peering through smoke and steam to determine what was the matter. Clark joined her with a tool kit and a flashlight, then played a hunch and checked out the gas tank. What he saw elicited a low hum and a reluctant diagnosis. "Here's your problem," he said. "The gas is bad." Bonnie looked up at him. "Bad?" She got to her feet and shone the flashlight into the tank. "How?" Clark stuck a finger in and looked at the liquid on the end. He sniffed at it and concluded, "It looks like you've been sabotaged; there's sugar mixed in with your gas." Bonnie turned away. "Sabotaged," she muttered, and spun back to face Clark and the bike. "But how? I haven't been away from this bike since we broke camp!" She turned away again, paced a few steps, then amended her statement. "Nooo. That last rest stop ... both of us had to go. We were gone for only a minute! It must've happened then! What about yours?" "Locking gas cap," he answered without checking. She suddenly exploded in a wave of angry expletives, throwing her arms up and turning away from the scene. Clark watched and silently prayed for her, understanding her frustration. She took out her cell phone to call out. She took a look at it and, with another verbal display of anger, she reared back to pitch it into the trees, but halted at the last instant. "No signal?" he asked. She shook her head. "I'll use my satellite cell," he said, rising and walking to the Boss Hoss. Bonnie was looking mournfully at her bike when Clark returned empty-handed and sour-faced. "Clark?" she asked. "It's not there. I'm assuming it was probably stolen at the same time your gas tank was sabotaged. Whoever did this had obviously been waiting for us to step away from our bikes. They wanted us to break down here and now." "So what do we do? You want to go for help?" "O'Neal warned me about this," Clark sighed, looking about at the clearing. Then he faced Bonnie and responded to her question. "No. Let's see what we can do to clear your fuel lines. We can transfer some of my gas to your tank, enough to get us both going."

27

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "We going to try and catch up with them?" "I'd like to. It'll be getting dark soon, and they'll be settling in for the night. That means more partying, and a late start. If we can get going at dawn and find their trail we should join up with them by ... noon, perhaps." "Why?" Bonnie suddenly argued. "I mean, somebody went to all the trouble to send us a message: we're not wanted. Why don't we take the hint and stop casting pearls before swine?" "This was done by one or two of the group, not all of them. Why should we ignore the many just because of the actions of a few troublemakers? No. I'd like to at least give them one more chance to see the other cheek before moving on." This wasn't settling well with the tall brunette. She took a swig of her canteen and looked back and forth between Clark and her disabled Road King. Finally she nodded. "All right. But if it doesn't work - " "- we're outta there!" he finished with a smile. "Fair enough." Bonnie seemed to relax after that. She eased next to Clark and purred, "Since you're a bit more mechanically-inclined than I am, why don't you start on the fuel system while I set up the tents?" "It's hard to turn down such an offer from a beautiful woman," he smiled back, kissing her lightly. * * *

Lea Mayfair was to meals what Star Trek's Mr. Scott was to warp engines. In other words, a miracle worker. As we sat down to the full meal and Monk said the blessing, we knew the bird wasn't going to be the only thing stuffed by Lea's touch. "Dot and I were talking. Since it looks like I'm going to be going through some tests to determine the extent of this new -" "Talent?" suggested Monk. "Power?" suggested Gumball. "Ability?" suggested Amy. "Blessing," suggested Lea. I looked at Lea and smiled. "Yes ... blessing. Anyhow, Dot's going to go back to Lincoln City with Gumball and Amy, then drive Nomad back here. By then we should know more about this, and know where to go from there." "Sounds like a good plan," Monk mumbled around a mouthful of food. "Have you told Clark yet?"

28

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "No. I'm going to hold off until we find out more. Besides, last I heard, they're in the middle of a biker group." "Speaking of which ... " Monk said. "How did this little road trip of theirs ever get started?" Dot and I looked at each other, and she deferred to me. "Well, when Clark first came to us, he looked so guilty ... " * * *

"The three of us have been a team for years," Clark started. "And I have no intent of ending that relationship." "I don't like the way this sounds," muttered Dot. "Sounds like the opening line to a Dear John letter." I nodded. "So what's up?" "I need to exercise my spiritual wings ... alone." "But you have exercised your spiritual wings alone ... often," I countered. "In one respect, yes. However, each time I have, it's been in a somewhat limited capacity. I'd like to take a few months - perhaps even a year - and just roam the country ministering on my own." "Not bad," commented Dot. "You planning on taking Goliath on the road?" "Actually, I was thinking about something smaller, like a motorcycle." "So that's the reason for the sudden influx of biker magazines!" she exclaimed with a laugh. "So why did you decide on a motorcycle?" I asked. "Well, actually, I was influenced by the movie Easy Rider," Clark replied eagerly. "I was drawn into their quest for the freedom of the open road." I did a double-take. "Yeah, there was that. But do you recall how the movie ended? They were blasted off that open road by a couple of rednecks with a grudge and a shotgun." Clark stiffened. "Do you doubt that I can take care of myself?" "No, of course not! But would you consider taking on a partner, someone to cover your back. Not one of us ... but someone." "Even the disciples were sent out two by two," added Dot matter-of-factly. Clark looked from me to Dot and back again, saying nothing. Then he nodded. "Do you have someone in mind?" "What about Jim ... Jim Bronson?" I offered. "He's a brother, he knows his way around bikes, and he's traveled the roads already. He'd be a good choice."

29

. Two days later we got our answer . Then I looked at Clark. "However. Dot grunted. I do believe God has shown me another candidate. "Aw. But we went ahead and prayed to be in one accord with God's will." He paused." * * * "I'll admit." he said. no! No no no . he might." said Dot without hesitation." * * * "I just got a call from Jack. 30 . "I'll consider it. perpetuating the joke. "You've spent quality time together.." "Bonnie." I agreed." Dot grinned and asked. I looked at her and smiled.." she moaned." Clark commented. "You two are both stinkers!" "Amazing. and I thought I'd blown it with my suggestion of seeking a partner. "Same here... * * * Everyone around the table laughed at the story. "Thank you. after all. "Bonnie. "So who's going to be the poor schnook that tells her that she's going to be a biker babe?" Clark and I both looked at her. "Pat used to say the same thing when we left her out of the action. then stopped and turned to Dot.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Yes. She didn't catch on immediately. "Bonnie?" He nodded and smiled.. Even Dot. you're not serious . the brother who ran the ministry house in Portland." said Clark casually. "So where they are now?" inquired Lea." he said sincerely. "As a matter of fact ." "You're sisters in the Lord. looking at me. "Oh. You've . I-I was just joking!" "You are the most logical one to inform her. Could there be a genetic connection involved?" "Did she used to say 'drop dead'?" I asked." Clark started to say.. Achilles' tendon. whatever it would be. bonded. "Jim Bronson won't be doing anything soon." agreed Clark.. guys. realizing it was a losing battle." I added with heavy emphasis. Oregon. it took about thirty seconds. slowly nodding. speaking of Jack Heady... his announcement was a bit of a shock.

. He was particularly impressed with Clark. "Dear Jessica. your turn!" She took a drink from her canteen and stood up. and finally became a Christian. "Okay. without skipping a beat. "The leader's name was Crusher. the tone more formal than the previous one." Without skipping a beat. and came out high and nasally. no! Jessica Rabbit. "No. "Clark got to know several biker gangs as a result. After thinking a moment. and lowered her voice until it was low and sultry. And you must be Egor. "Thankyouverymuch." acknowledged Monk. two-one thousand." "Mae West!" exclaimed Clark." Bonnie took a bite from a preformed food bar and made a face. "I'm not bad. Well." Bonnie roared with laughter. no." He laughed and said. but I'd guess right now Clark and Bonnie are settling down for their own dinner." explained Clark. "Couldn't you have done something more to improve the taste of these?" "Hey. but they have all the nutrients we need to survive on. "Although I've never quite used it like this. thrust out her chest. "I LOVED that movie!" shrieked Bonnie." I paused for a drink of water. he was killed about three months ago. he switched back to the first voice for the punchline. three-one thousand. "It's not FRANKenSTEIN. fiveone thousand . How do I love thee? One-one thousand. following it up 31 .. Then he corrected himself. "I've always had a talent for mimicry. The accent was American. and Clark performed the funeral. Who Framed Roger Rabbit!" Bonnie touched the index finger of one hand to her nose and pointed at him with the other hand. I'm just drawn that way. four-one thousand. "Right!" Clark immediately shifted his voice and executed a perfect imitation of Charles Fleisher. don't knock it! This is what I wished we'd had back in Pine Corners! They may not taste the best." "That's great!" cackled Bonnie. it's pronounced EYEgore. Communications are few and far between. "You must be Doctor Frankenstein. she took a slinky pose. it's FRONKonSTEEN." The next line came out in a different voice. sitting down with a bump. "No." He took a bite of his own ration. and Clark joined in a heartbeat later." * * * The first voice was British. and they met up with one of them while they were coming back from New Orleans.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Do you remember the bikers we ran into back in Pine Corners?" "Yeah. "And I can't believe how good you did both Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman!" Clark shifted to an Elvis voice for a quick.

Oh. Fred Allen. I wake up two hundred years later.. but he knew she was right. for them. the Marx Brothers. He nodded." "W." She kissed him. He began to pace nervously. and his arms gestured as he spoke in the comedian's voice: "I'm a clarinet player in 1973 . I know slapstick. you must've known some of the greatest funnymen of all time: Jack Benny. "I'm Luna! Luna! Remember? Luna!" Clark looked at her vaguely and responded as Allen: "Your name is not Luna. She was there with Bill Fields. and The Three Stooges. the foil. Thanks.comedy?" He smiled and said without hesitation. too!" "With such incredible wit and insight. "Sleeper. yeah." 32 . hysterical with laughter.it'll be all right.." she said with recognition. The Keystone Cops. "So. 'Night." amended Bonnie with a slight bow of the head. "Just wash it down with water . "Yep! The only problem was that I was going to be the straight man." She stood up and talked excitedly. I'd pick up Chico with one hand and Harpo with the other and throw them both out the door like a bouncer. "This has been a terrific night. "Had a case that took us to Hollywood once. Diane Keaton. "But I just couldn't do it!" "You don't like slapstick?" "Don't like slapstick? Remember. sugah. "Did you know Mae West?" she asked. I go into the hospital for a lousy operation . I lived during the era of Charlie Chaplin. He adjusted his posture to give him a whole new appearance. Buster Keaton. "Did you know the Marx Brothers wanted me in one of their movies?" Bonnie's jaw fell." He stood. changing the subject. Finally they decided it was time for bed." His face remained expressionless as always. holding her. and I'm Flash Gordon! And I'm a criminal!" Bonnie broke up laughing.C. he captured perfectly how I felt after being in suspended animation for fifty years.. is it?" They fell into each other's arms." "I stand corrected. my dear.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD with a swig from his canteen. then. They continued for some time to talk about the things that made them laugh. Fields? Wow!" She gaped. "Noooo!" He nodded." He shook his head. "Me." "Woody Allen. when it looked like I'd had enough. "Then you've gotta know this one.. what's your favorite movie . "Y'know. His arms closed in. They put out the campfire and headed to their individual tents." He leaned in closer. then. "Thank you. Bonnie put her arms around Clark's neck. I would stand there looking all stupid and naive while they cavorted around me.

they found that the practice of two fully-dressed adults sharing a single sleeping bag made it easier to get through a cold night." The Mayan took a seat and got comfortable. He started to pull it away. Her scent was strong. gesturing to a nearby chair." the other man answered. To his surprise. her scent. he didn't realize Bonnie was outside of his tent until she spoke his name a second time. my king.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Clark climbed into his tent. His large bronze hands slid around her and drew her closer. and he did not resist. "Please. "Sure. "I wish we hadn't put out the fire. "You remember how hard it was to keep track of him at the beginning." he agreed. and Clark's mind flashed back to their earlier encounter." 33 . her lips on his. facing him. Benjamin bowed. His concentration was so strong. "Please – don't push me away!" He felt her mouth on his." he coughed. His mind kept coming back to Bonnie. Over the months. sugah. "Amazingly well. and slipped off his outer clothes before sliding into the warm comfort of his sleeping bag." "Rise. "Yes. "I finally had to order him tied to his bed in order to give you a chance to get some sleep." she said with a shiver in her voice. "Clark. He kept replaying their last moment together: the feel of her lips on his." Mordecai smiled." instructed Mordecai. Clark!" she whispered heavily. His mind reeled. * * * CHAPTER FOUR: 3 years earlier King Mordecai summoned Benjamin to his chambers in the palace. "I love you. her arms. but her hand grabbed his wrist and guided it back. he touched bare skin. his hand brushed against her side. He unzipped his sleeping bag and lifted it for her as she climbed into the tent. sit. when it was just the two of them riding in some of the higher altitudes. You awake?" "Yeah. As she moved next to him in the sleeping bag. Can I join you?" Her request hadn't been unusual. "How are things proceeding with Franklin?" asked Mordecai. "I'm cold.

And in the end. "It wasn't a marvel to me .it was more like a nightmare. any surplus will be used to help others who cannot help themselves. I'm honored. show him how to take care of it. my King. Benjamin. he did not use his time there as a time to reflect and repent." Franklin grunted." "Are you sure this is wise?" "I would like to think so. 'keeping your back covered'?" "Yes." "Of course. Would you allow me a couple of observers. "Of a sort. I appreciate your wisdom and protection." The black man smiled. and did all I could to be free of it.. It was a trailer park. You will live on what you produce." The two men shook hands. he nodded his approval. Alas." 34 . Benjamin. * * * "For me? Benjamin. so you will be self-sufficient. I hated every minute of it. my King. but to plan his next escape attempt. "So many marvels in your world. Thank you. I won't let you down. that is the correct phrase." "But that has changed. After a few moments. "And I lost count of how many times we had to place him on the Island of Shame." "I'm sorry.." Benjamin waited patiently while the king thought the matter over. and Benjamin left the chamber. yes. "It's not your fault." "Thank God.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "To which I am eternally grateful. I have prayed about this. But I expect you to keep an eye on Franklin. I will teach you how to work the land." "Houses on wheels?" He looked at the black man as if he didn't believe him. "You are a good man." He sighed." Benjamin agreed. "We must be wise as serpents as well as harmless as doves. and my heart is at peace." "You said you were raised in a park?" Franklin laughed. as a precaution? I believe the term the outsiders use is . I see." he smiled back." Mordecai nodded. It's like a big open field where houses on wheels come together to form a village. "Not only has he ceased his attempts to escape. And you have been a good steward of what you have been entrusted with. "Keep me informed of his behavior. but he now actually seems to show an interest in participating in the harvest. Daniel. I would like to give him a small garden. in case his good behavior is a clever deception. and see how he takes to it. Make it so. In Tennessee." "It will not be easy. You have given me a second chance to redeem myself.

I can feel it. "It is wonderful. * * * "Congratulations." "Has he made a decision yet?" "Not yet." "Thank you. You have learned well... He attends many Bible studies a week. He shares about what he learns in the Bible.. Does this mean you are willing to consider the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ?" He gave the other man a sly grin. Now. "You have done well. Benjamin! It's been two full years since Franklin was given his own garden. Daniel." * * * 35 .." * * * "It's coming along nicely. the tools you will use to tend the ground . He turned it over briefly. to consider it.. I must clean up.. and . his behavior has been exemplary.." The Mayan reached down and carefully removed a ripe tomato from the vine. Deuce?" "Oh. He spends many hours during the day reading the Bible he was given by Doc himself. He has participated in social events among our people. since then. But it will be soon .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "I accept the responsibility. then took a big bite of it." The two men nodded respectfully at each other and separated. my King! Even though it started off badly . They now go for long walks in the hills. Let us begin with these. if you will excuse me." "Good. don't you think?" "Yes.he never gave up on her. His eyes closed and he hummed with appreciation as he chewed and swallowed it. "Then I will be praying for your decision. I have been invited to Hiram's home for Bible study. May I?" Franklin lowered his head in humility. Daniel." The Mayan matched the grin. and." Benjamin finished off the tomato with several bites. Quite well." "Bible study? I am quite pleased by this. "I am willing . is it true he has even reconciled with his former aide in crime." he beamed. "I am honored.she attacked him physically when he first tried making contact with her .. "I would be honored. yes.

But he understood what he was doing and let himself be baptized in the river that flowed down the golden pyramid and through the Valley of the Vanished. and two girls were tending to his wounds. you know. "We were walking up on that ridge. Franklin was more coherent. Daniel. I hung on for dear life." he sighed sadly." "And do you?" asked King Mordecai. bloodied and exhausted. But Deuce .. Several natives came to his assistance and took him to the house he shared with Benjamin. When he came out of the water he was surprised by the roar of hundreds of Mayan voices. God. "All I could think of was how much of a mess I had made of my life. "I . "Who is dead?" "Deuce. "How?" Franklin seemed to suddenly deflate. her screams. King Mordecai was also in attendance. if you get me out of this. A half hour later. He stood at Franklin's side. "What happened. "Yes! I do! I waited too long. At Benjamin's request. Curious onlookers surrounded the house in order to catch a glimpse of the strange man with the ebony skin. Daniel?" he asked. Franklin looked around and continued. rest. "Sshe's dead!" he sputtered.. Franklin's breathing became rapid as his eyes shot open. Benjamin wondered how he was ever going to get into his house. The look in them was one of sheer terror. "Rest." The others kept silent and only watched. where Morning Breeze and the Feathered Serpent were defeated. and we both slipped. can still hear . Daniel.. The ground was loose. "She's dead!" Benjamin knelt next to Franklin's bed and asked. After composing himself... all cheering and praising God. 36 . and I don't want to wait any longer! What must I do to be saved?" * * * The water was cold. Franklin's eyes were closed. as they recognized him and moved aside respectfully. Benjamin placed a hand on his shoulder. " He closed his eyes tightly and cupped his hands over his ears. You can tell me later." He stood and gestured for the girls to continue their ministering. "Congratulations." said the elder. He was scraped. and Daniel Franklin couldn't understand all the words the elder was saying. I'll give my life to you. I kept praying.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Help! Help me! Please!" Franklin dragged himself into the village.. and eventually pulled myself back up onto the trail. But his concerns parted as easily as the crowd.

I heard myself asking him how long." 37 . A search party checked the area where she fell. they would make the long trek to a secret location in Hidalgo. Deuce and I had been. * * * "Benjamin!" The native yawned. I didn't want to go. "Benjamin. "They think I made it up. but they could not find her body." Then they gave him a collective smile. wow . 'You must fast and pray for 40 days and 40 nights. It was concluded that the fall surely killed her. I don't want to go back there. "What did He show you?" Franklin gestured in the direction of the pyramid and recalled. and he said.." * * * Days passed. It was ." He stood straight and tall. "I was standing at the top of the pyramid with a man in a white robe. and a bit scared..." Thirty minutes later. occasionally glancing over at Franklin and Benjamin." "Then you have our blessing. Daniel. just so incredible! What do you think. chosen M'kay from among several candidates. Along with him were several men who comprised the eldership of their church body. Along with his two assistants. "T-thank you." said Franklin disappointingly. Benjamin?" "I think we need to tell the others. He just pointed and repeated what he'd said. A squat dark-haired native named M'kay prepared a team of burros to transport a shipment of gold at the bequest of Doc Savage.' Well. Life in the Valley of the Vanished slowly returned to normal. He acted like he hadn't heard me." "They are cautious..The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Franklin was stunned. There was a time of mourning for Deuce Robinson. "They don't believe me. By faith.. You must go there. Queen Monja herself had. and it was a responsibility the Mayan took very seriously." comforted Benjamin. "Good morning. He pointed toward the area where . "But I will. They conferred privately. Franklin and Benjamin stood watching King Mordeai.' Then he floated up into the sky and vanished. "Have faith.. I will." he replied. He was wide-eyed.. he said. many years ago. "Are you willing to obey this vision?" "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't reluctant about doing this. and trust God to keep you. and I told him so. and her body was swept away in the river below." "Good morning. my brother. And . 'You must face your fear. I believe I have had a vision from God!" Benjamin blinked a couple of times and sat up..

"Lead on.. * * * Near the mouth of the Valley. They were expected. "It's all over now." She smiled and kissed him." Taking a last look back. babe! We're free! We're outta here!" He turned to M'kay. Then they each offered embraces and words of encouragement. After a moment. "I've been feeling like a caged animal!" "Hey. When M'kay and his assistants could no longer see the village. Benjamin was the last to say goodbye. how've you been holding up?" "How do you think I've been holding up. Two of them. Danny?" she flared back in frustration. and he and his assistants departed for Hidalgo. "God be with you. said his goodbyes to friends who saw him off.. Daniel Franklin knelt as the eldership placed their hands on his back. they continued a few minutes longer until they reached a small clearing. Waiting there were three people with four horses. shoulders. "Hey. smiled at him. "In the morning. teenaged Mayan females. standing beside her horse. I guess. "M'kay! Good to see you!" he greeted. my friend Benjamin. and the caravan continued on. M'kay said nothing and pretended to ignore them. she warmed to him." "Goodbye.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "When will you begin?" asked Benjamin. hey. "Whatever you say. Deuce baby . * * * M'kay walked silently in the lead and prayed that God would forgive him for the evil that he had done and continued to do even now. "Let's get moving! We've got a lot of distance to cover! Deuce?" "Okay." Franklin mounted the additional horse. Franklin smiled and started walking in the direction of the hills. hey!" He came over to her and held her. and prayed over him." * * * The sun was rising over the rim of the Valley of the Vanished. and head. M'kay made a final check of the burro train. 38 . I will see you when you return. A few minutes later another man joined them on the path. my brother Daniel. M'kay!" The Mayan instructed his assistants. baby.

They were so young and beautiful. Took every opportunity to make a break for it." "Did they have you work in the mines?" he asked. M'kay would take him with him on his next gold run .. * * * Deuce hung back until her horse was even with Franklin's. "But now . I tell you. we both did.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Those girls.more than the whole friggin' U. we will part company. They had been his weakness. "I really missed you. Danny." He looked ahead. The burro train was in the lead. They had me moving gold. until we realized there was no way to get beyond the walls of this valley without an aircraft of some sort. But as long as I had 'Nurse Ratchet' at my side. and they had come to him by night and said such flattering words. "Well. baby. Heck." She bragged. We'll stay and you'll never see us ever again. And. Mint! And not one single guard to stop me from taking some!" She looked at him. Hey. explained that it was his responsibility to report the matter to the King. it's all ours. "Gawd. "Oh. I couldn't even get close enough to talk to you. Then there was the meeting with this serpent .S. we're finally free!" he said with a laugh." 39 . smiling proudly. They had given him their bodies." "I refused to eat. Franklin told him of the secret that was no longer secret." he had promised. but there would be a price. but he paid for it. I fought it in the beginning. He groaned and remembered the day when they had each come to him.. then the two horses with the teenage girls. Franklin then offered to remain quiet.this stranger to the Valley of the Vanished. sure. Once we are in Hidalgo. such as he had never known . Your secret will be safe. "I did. like him. You wouldn't believe how much gold they got down there .tons upon tons . Franklin and Deuce brought up the rear. shocking him with the news of the life within them . "I dragged my feet like a spoiled two-year-old. I felt like Patrick McGoohan in that old TV show. "And those fools won't even know they've been had until we're long gone!" "Yeah!" agreed Deuce. but he had chosen to take them. "They let me keep it." Franklin reflected." He had no choice. She shook her head. do I need a drink!" "I told them they'd never hold me. "I'll take it one step further. I wasn't about to conform to their system. why not? What could I spend it on?" He paused. babe!" They joined hands.he would take him out of the Valley of the Vanished...the life that he had put there. "I'll bring the two girls with us. But it would be over soon. There was pleasure. "So?" "I got caught.

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD

"Yeah, I know. That's why I finally decided to play their game. I knew our only chance to be free of this jail would have to be with their help - and they'd been told I was not to be trusted. So I played it real cool, stopped fighting 'em and started to play their games. I even started to learn their weird language." "Me, too." He leaned over and lowered his voice. "Look, I've tangled with these gullible 'Jesus Freaks' in the past, and knew their big aim was to convert me to their beliefs. So I played along, made it appear as if I was falling for their line of bull." Franklin neglected to mention the attention he had gotten from many of the Mayan girls. It wouldn't be the first time curious women had been drawn into his bed due to his dark skin. He continued. "Those two were easy. They were typical disgruntled teenagers, unsatisfied with life in the Valley and convinced that any place was better than this. By the time I was done, they were begging me to take them away." "So how'd you find out about this?" she asked, referring to the burro convoy. "One day I saw M'kay leaving the Valley, and I quietly started asking questions. Then I got in on the Bible study group he was a part of ... you know, get close to him and find his weaknesses." He grinned at Deuce. "And I did. Them." "The girls?" "Did you ever read the Bible they gave you?" "Yeah, some." "That's where I got all my ideas. First there was the story about Lot's daughters. Remember Lot? Survived Sodom and Gomorrah with his family, only to have the ol' lady look back and turn into a pillar of salt!" Deuce nodded. "Well, the daughters wanted kids, but didn't want husbands. So they got the old man plastered and slept with him in order to get pregnant!" "Okay," acknowledged Deuce. "So?" "So tie that in with King Herod. Herod had the hots for his step-daughter Salome. Meanwhile, his wife Herodius wanted John the Baptist wasted, but Herod was too chicken to order the hit. "Well, Herodius knew Herod would do anything for Salome, so she set him up at his birthday party, when he was surrounded by the local Good Ol' Boys. Herodius got Salome to do a bump-and-grind at the party that got Herod needing a cold shower and promising her anything she wanted. Well, Salome repeated what her mother had told her - 'give me John the Baptist's head on a silver platter' - and he had no choice but to do it." "Your point?" "I talked those two into seducing M'kay and pretending that he got them pregnant. Then I turned around and threatened to expose him if he didn't transport us outta here."

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The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Brilliant," commented Deuce. "And since they consider me in the hills on a 40-day walkabout and you as worm food, nobody's going to be looking after us until we're long gone." "Amen, baby!" * * *

CHAPTER FIVE Clark woke up first. As quiet as he could, he extracted himself and his clothes from the tent and found an area nearby where he dressed prior to his daily regimen. His expression was more sober than anyone had ever seen him. Bonnie got up with a loud yawn and stretched her tall frame. She climbed out of the tent and dressed, noticing Clark in the middle of his exercises. She sat on the ground and, smiling, watched him for several minutes. Then she got up and trotted off to make breakfast. Clark silently sighed with relief; even though he had never had a problem with others observing him in his exercises, he felt very uncomfortable with Bonnie sitting there. He tried to make sense of it when Bonnie announced that breakfast was ready. He hesitated, debating over actually having a meal with her, then stepped closer and accepted the plate from her with a brief, "Thank you." Clark led a brief prayer over the meal and they started eating. Bonnie could sense that something was off; Clark was polite, but seemed to be too quiet for the moment. Finally Bonnie asked, "You okay, hon?" Clark's response was a grunt, his mouth intentionally full. After a few minutes, he said in a very sobering tone, "Bonnie, we need to talk." "Sure, sug. What's up? Is it the bike?" His eyes focused ahead, not at her. "No. It's about ... us." "Okay," she accepted. "I don't know about you, but last night took me by surprise." "Me, too," she agreed. "I don't really know what came over me - over us." Then, as unemotional as he could manage, Clark dropped the bombshell: "I'm afraid we can't let this happen again." This didn't sound good, thought Bonnie. "What do you mean?" "Once we get your bike running again, we'll return to Florida. This road trip is over. You'll be returning to Caroline Island." His tone was final.

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The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Excuse me?" Bonnie's eyes narrowed. "Are you telling me we're ... breaking up?" "I have ... no ... choice. I can't continue this, not after last night." He paused and took a deep breath. "In the past, Perry's joked about me as being the World's Oldest Living Boy Scout ... and ... he's absolutely right!" He sighed. "All my life I have lived a moral life, and now it's all been shattered! I need to get things together again!" Bonnie couldn't believe her ears. "Let me get this straight. You want to call this quits just because we had one night of intimacy?" Without warning, Clark became unhinged. "That was not ... intimacy! It was fornication!" He jumped to his feet. "You don't understand!" He was furious – not at her, but at himself. "All my life I have strived to live a pure and moral life - especially since becoming a Christian! But this - THIS has made an end of that!" And, possessed by unimaginable frustration, he unleashed a roar that shattered the morning air, tossed his hands up, and stormed off into the woods. Bonnie didn't dare follow. She just sat in front of the fire pit, trying to make sense of the last few minutes, and, knowing that whatever was wrong with Clark, he had to deal with it on his own. But she wasn't powerless. "Jesus, I don't know all that's going on here, but You do. I'm just askin' that You straighten it all out. Please. In Jesus' name, amen." She found that the simple prayers were sometimes the most effective ones. Leaving the matter in God's hands, she took a sip from her canteen. Her nose crinkled. She sniffed again at the opening of the canteen and her eyes got big. * * *

Bark flew like shrapnel at the impact of bronze fists. As he punched away at the helpless tree, taking out his frustration and inflicting pain on himself as some form of penance for his actions, his mind tried to calculate how long it would take to fell the tree at this rate. He never found out. "CLARK!" He would've ignored her but for the tone of her alarm. It was a desperate cry, one of excited urgency that went past his self-indulgent pride and went right to his heart. His arm froze in mid-swing, and he turned and ran back for camp as fast as he could. She stood next to the campfire where he had left her; she was holding out her open canteen. "Smell this!" she ordered. Without questioning the odd request, he took the bottle and sniffed it. Then he smelled it again, more cautiously this time.

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" "Clark. he'll do it in a heartbeat.the real enemy. we were drugged!" she concluded. They spiked my gas tank so I'd break down here in the middle of nowhere.. "It's a psychotropic enhancer." Clark stated. and tossed it behind her." She paused. But I won't let this ministry end here! God has made us a team. There is something in the water. "It has the same smell. So why can't we push past this and keep going?" "Knowing that we were set up still doesn't change the fact that it happened.." Clark poured out his canteen also. "Just what kind of crap did we drink last night?" Clark cleared his sinuses with a little fresh air. it doesn't. "Look. that's just what's happening here! We're making a difference.." sighed Bonnie." She paused and looked up at him. "I'm getting a new canteen. But it is up to us as to what we choose to do about it. Clark. it doesn't. and what happened last night was wonderful. She grinned and continued making eye-contact. You're right. put the lid on." "And then some. he was considering her words. We were set up by some bikers who wanted us to know we weren't welcome.. But we were also set up by their master . Although he didn't look like it." he commented. It doesn't change the facts of the matter. But that doesn't change what we did. We're making a difference. "Check yours!" she directed. he retrieved his canteen where he had left it.." She poured the contents of her canteen onto the ground. he let the water spill out of his hand and wiped it off on his jeans. "But maybe . Clark? I had my doubts. Finally." she agreed. "Some kind of . then went through a process of smelling each canteen. "We were set up. And if Satan believes that we'll fold under and blow away if he gets us to do a little rolling in the hay. "Well. "We were drugged . You remember how you told me that a villain will redouble his efforts when he feels you're getting too close to stopping him?" Clark nodded. where my cell phone wouldn't work . then pouring a little from each into his hand and tasting it. Without hesitation." She held her arms out with the palms up. I imagine you're feeling somethin' like the bottom of the outhouse." She stood and closed the gap between them.I love you. then the Enemy 43 . She sat down on the log near the fire pit.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Yes. maybe it can change the way we look at it." he admitted dryly. "Can't you see it. mood lifter. And now we know we were set up. then they stole your cell phone . and that's got Satan ticked at us!" She spit the word at him. and smelled the water." he declared.. "Look.. stoneface ." "An aphrodisiac." "No. "If we choose to run like rabbits.this is true.. She nodded sympathetically. rolling her eyes. nor their consequences. "We can't change what happened. "No. their eyes connecting for the first time since they woke. then they slipped this into our water so we'd be like two horny teenagers in the back seat at the drive-in. but now I don't. "And he is scared.

" "I love you.whether it's standing on my feet or down on my knees. she lowered herself to the ground. * * * Lea Mayfair broke away from her baking to answer the phone." she assured her. "Dot!" Her face brightened.. You know it. say. As I concentrated. "Hey. "How are you. "Look. "Hi. like. it was still a day's drive away. palms up. "It's Dot." And. and Bonnie wasn't sure if she'd gotten through to him. "It's getting late.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD wins the battle. dear? Is everything okay?" "It's fine. And I'll be honest: I can't walk away from a good fight . resting on her knees a few feet from Clark.." She smiled and took his hands. "Is Perry there?" "Certainly. "I tell you. It won't be long. Grandma!" the voice on the other end greeted. too." She smiled. She gave him a pleading look. But then he took a step forward." He paused. the area became larger. having said that. I'm an ex-mercenary that knows the meaning of 'fighting the good fight'. It's quiet and I miss you. Grandma. and asked. that person was close enough to you?" "What do you mean . Just a moment!" She walked the cordless over to Perry. and held it out to him. She wiped her hands on her apron. and I set off the ring?" 44 . and press on. so I thought I'd find a good spot to settle for the night. hon! Where you at?" She told him.." "Aura?" "For lack of a better term.. and why my clothes vanished the other day. Or ." "Thanks!" He took the phone." "Could you extend it to cover another person if. we can choose to fight this sucker together. He held out his hands. "Well?" Clark didn't move for a long time. then another. this whole thing has been so wild! They had me in this tank of water at neutral buoyancy. if. "We fight. "Together. "How's the testing coming?" "It's been very interesting. Then I triggered the ring and they measured the area around my body that became invisible." he declared in a low growl. It's the area around my body that keeps me from being seen. I was holding onto you. We found out that willpower can extend the aura." She changed the subject. now. too. It also explains why my ring couldn't be seen while I was wearing it. Slowly he lowered his impressive frame next to hers. sitting in the living room.

. "Four-star hotel . it's been a while since we saw mom. it still gives me nightmares.. I mean.." "Jacuzzi in the room?" she ventured. and rent a car to get us back and forth?" "You thinking of parking it at CSI?" "Yeah. room service 24/7 . could it go back to needing to recharge every 24 hours? Would it work the next time?" "It would definitely keep you on your toes. it's not as if we're on a budget.. though." Dot commented. say. How about we park it in. You won't be laughing once you hear this. and couldn't use it again for 24.. Still can't figure why Uncle Perry could become invisible for one hour. New Jersey. limo . "So. and that somehow changed its properties. I remembered the last time we tried maneuvering Nomad on the streets of Manhattan. "For sure....." "I don't know." "Thanks.." "Okay. though. "What's on your mind?" "A second honeymoon. have you thought about our next port of call?" "Not really.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "For example. Anything new on the time limit?" "No." Perry agreed." "Okay. that would work." she chuckled. I just had a thought.. but I can use it multiple times in that same 24 hours. "Why not?" 45 . "I wonder." "Did it hurt?" "Heh heh heh ." "Or . And we could visit Johnny while we're there. just how reliable this could be in the future? I mean. I'll suggest it to Monk and let you know. very funny. Good idea.. so how 'bout we pay a visit to the Big Apple?" "I like that! You know. The only guess we can come up with is that the ring had built up a 'charge' while it was in storage. You?" "Well ." "Really?" she squealed.

" finished the other man. with receding red hair. this town was the most beautiful thing he'd seen in the last three-and-a-half years. my little pretties. have electricity. wearing eye shades and making entries in massive ledger books with quill pens. you ain't seen nothin' yet. appearing to have little more technology than Gilligan's Island. and I'll start making the arrangements on this end in the morning. which Franklin had to admit he was glad to see. Then they had the oddest exchange Franklin had ever witnessed. 46 ." "I love you. and held together with whatever one could find. okay?" he cautioned. as measured by his full black beard.. he was impressed by neatly-dressed men and women operating desktop computers. ". Without comment or narration. "Rhinoceros.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Yummy!" she sighed. Franklin slid off his horse and followed. "Oh. no different than any other." "I'll head out at first light. I can't wait! Makes me want to keep driving until I get there. "See you soon.. M'kay steered them through the streets to a modest two-story building. "Better is little with the fear of the LORD . Franklin was also amused by the reactions of the two Mayan girls. It did." "Okay." said M'Kay. "Elephant. It had taken their convoy weeks to trek through the jungle to reach this place. He smiled and they came together with outstretched hands. her voice heavy with emotion. he walked into the bank. But for Daniel Franklin." responded the other man. M'kay went straight to one of the offices. It was his first reminder that he was still in the 21st Century. paying no attention to Franklin. A man in the office saw him through the glass and rose to greet him.. Well. however.. He'd expected to see Bob Cratchit-types sitting on high stools." * * * CHAPTER SIX: 6 months earlier Blanco Grande hadn't changed much over the decades. It seemed the archetypical sleepy Spanish town. They must feel like Dorothy in Oz. Most of the transports were horse-drawn. The sign on the outside identified it in Spanish as the Bank of Hidalgo.. I love you. There were a few automobiles rolling around the dirt streets." "Now. which looked to be older than he. too. Perry. instead." she replied. and instructing his two assistants to stay and keep the convoy guarded. 'Night. no all-nighters. He was in his early 40's. than great treasure and trouble therewith. "Get a good night's sleep. Tying the lead burro to a hitching rail by the front door. With practiced familiarity." said M'kay. Sleep well.

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Proverbs 15. presumably for the burros. they embraced like brothers. my friend. and the red-haired man was standing next to it. he discovered that M'kay had left. Inside the vault were six men standing behind several long tables containing assaying equipment and other items. They descended several floors to a special underground vault. several sacks of grain. Against the wall were some buckets. The other is for us at the hotel." He produced several papers and handed them to M'kay. The man from inside gave an order. When he finally went to bed. The bathroom was at the end of the hall. You will remain here. Irritated at being ignored. To Franklin. Franklin followed. Several minutes later the assayers nodded their approval. "Verse 16. Within fifteen minutes of reaching the room. and water. The beds were slightly larger than Army cots. my friend. * * * The room was small. to care for the burros.. The next morning. and the others moved out with all the speed and precision of a NASCAR pit crew. "It is good to see you again. Then M'kay led the burros into the elevator. Samples were taken from each bag. then took a hot shower until the water turned cold. as agreed?" "Yes. they brought the burros inside. there wasn't any. but knowing it would be over soon. this way he can't interfere in my plans." 47 . it was better than the Hilton. Leaving the women and the horses behind." the other man said in Mayan. "I'll meet you around back. well." identified M'kay. "Good riddance. One is for the stable. "They are called vouchers.. "That's one less Jesus Freak to contend with. The saddlebags were offloaded and the seals broken. and prepare them for the trip home. and just about as comfortable. "Another premium batch. he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. ending up in a large service elevator. Franklin asked what the papers were. As they returned to the surface." Franklin said to himself. A large door was open. with Deuce and the girls. Besides." He looked at Franklin. and were examined very meticulously. Franklin had shaved off his beard. who shook his hand and thanked him. The decor was . and the red-haired man walked over to M'kay." And that was the last exchange between the two men. With that accomplished. "I will return to the Valley tomorrow. The burro train was unhitched and M'kay walked them around behind the building." M'kay turned and walked back outside." concluded the other man.

" he greeted. and has sent me here to check on the books. smiling. but stopped and turned back. the man who receives these funds. señor. so they were as excited as Alice in Wonderland. "He's a very busy man. Can you take care of that?" "Sì. Dent personally?" His face brightened. Allow me to introduce myself. he approached the desk clerk. Is there something I can do for you?" Franklin closed the office door and sat opposite Gilbert. My name is Franks ." Franklin grinned. I've only spoken to him over the phone!" The hook was in. He's concerned about how his funds are being handled. "Good. you were with M'kay. With an air of businesslike importance. I'm not like the other natives. "Sì. The name on the door identified him as Mr. who wore a name tag identifying him as Juan. "Mr. "As you can tell. señor. and convinced the native that he and his friends would be staying longer than the others who were with them. will you?" Juan brightened." he replied.. señor. Peter Franks. In the lobby.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD He looked in on Deuce and the girls. Gilbert. señor!" As he left the hotel. he walked into the office. "Is it available?" "Sì. "Do you have Room Service?" he asked. "Sì. You've shaved your beard. and will be back soon. he was pleased with himself." 48 . Now to start reeling him in. "Make it ready. Franklin instructed them all to stay inside while he 'took care of business'.. "Juan. Gilbert.. The Mayan teenagers had never been out of the Valley. He introduced himself as Peter Franks. This is why he sent me. "I admit. "Do you recognize me?" "Yes . Would you have some breakfast sent up to the ladies' room? Give them whatever they want. I have to go to the bank. in spite of the native clothing.. what's the most expensive room you have?" "The Presidential Suite. At the bank." Franklin started for the exit." "You know Mr. knowing that his powers of persuasion had not diminished during his captivity..." replied the clerk. he approached the red-haired man. señor. I'm a personal associate of .

when he slid the hundred dollar bill across the counter to him.. Gilbert smiled. "Absolutely!" Franklin smiled." As Franklin watched." "Absolutely. I don't know.." "Do you need a case to carry it?" he asked confidently. Please sign here. señor?" he sputtered. I'll also let him know you're doing a commendable job!" An hour later. caused his breath to momentarily catch in this throat. He thought about it a moment. Franks: your passbook and account card. Gilbert didn't see his reaction." Franklin had a seat while Gilbert left to take care of the order. maintaining his professional tone. He tilted his head. including the converted gold from the previous day. "I'm sure you understand that we manage our accounts electronically. but this was unimaginable! And it was all at his disposal." The thought made Franklin light-headed. and you're all set. "Good." he asked. "Here you are. He had suspected that the balance would be large. Gilbert. everything was laid out before him. and he had to remind himself to breathe. ". "Please. Seeing the current balance. * * * Franklin wondered if Juan's eyes would pop out of his head like some cartoon character. with a desk and computer terminal. "Yes.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Gilbert rose. señor!" he replied enthusiastically. Grateful that Mr. Dent and let him know that all is in order. my friend. Do you remember me asking about the Presidential Suite?" 49 . choosing instead to simply smile politely." The numbers didn't seem to faze Gilbert. Franklin proceeded with the next step of his plans. Mr. then reported. deliberately trying to be vague.." he answered. A cash withdrawal of one million dollars American. "Fair enough. Mr. "I can have it done for you within an hour. "Juan. "Very good! Please proceed! In the meantime I will communicate with Mr. "W-what's this for. Franklin returned.. He fought hard to keep from whooping with ecstasy. Franks! If you would follow me!" He led Franklin to another office. why don't we make it . I'm going to be rather busy over the next few days. and I'm going to need your help. "What would it involve to set aside a special sub-account under my personal supervision?" "How much are you talking about?" "Oh. This is just my way of making sure that you'll do your best to help me. Mr. 500 million. "Mr. Is there anything else we can do for you?" Franklin had gotten over his initial giddiness.

Next: we will need new clothes. They are excellent! I will send them to your room. he thought. was singing off-key at the top of her lungs.?" * * * Thus began a party that lasted for the next 24 hours. I'm going shopping for an army. A voice cooed from the bedroom. he switched off the chair.. and presented with all manner of decadent pleasures. without hurrying. a shoemaker?" "Good idea. propelled by another bottle of tequila and some local weed.. Then. while simultaneously being gently massaged by the chair. Then we'll take over Caroline Island. mentally lifting his drink in a toast. He is a tailor. There will be more.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Sì. Now. but that'll be enough for a start. and followed the woman into the bedroom. if someone could direct me to the Presidential Suite . señor. while the other girl was channel surfing in front of the television. Thank you for your inspiration. Deuce. it shouldn't take much to hold some of them for ransom." He admired the local hooker for a moment. he thought. Considering the kind of rich people who stayed at the spa. He was reviewing the plans he had conceived back in the Valley of the Vanished. her eyes were wide as saucers as she was mesmerized by the limited reception. downed the rest of the drink." "I know just the couple. Herodius. 50 . and the two Mayan teenagers were dressed in the finest clothes Blanco Grande had to offer.. Tomorrow. Franklin was deep in thought as he lay on a recliner lounge and sipped on a drink. And his price? "Bring me their heads on silver platters!" he would declare from the top of Caroline Island. "Sì!" "Good. It is large enough for the ladies as well?" He smiled a knowing grin. She had persuaded one of the girls to join her in the experiment. "Peeeterrrr. she is a seamstress. "And may I recommend . Deuce. You will be moving into it?" "Yes. fed whatever delicacies they wished in unlimited quantities. as she was dressed in a skimpy lace negligee.Pat Savage and Jill Woodward. having seen the beautiful ladies that had accompanied him. how he would achieve his revenge on the two he blamed the most for his troubles .. The money flowed freely as Franklin." He looked over the counter at Franklin's sandal-shod feet.

At first I thought it was a picture of Gumball – he'd been in the Air Force for several years – but at second glance I saw it was of a much older man. but she's not the same as you. as long as I didn't accidentally trigger it.. Dot was also glad to have me behind the wheel. We still had questions.. What do you think of going to the restaurant here in the hotel." I smiled back. "Yes. As we walked through the house. but we did know more than we started. There's an entertainment center complete with giant-screen TV. "I've never seen anything so incredible! You've really got to see the view from here! We can see all of Central Park from here! And the bathroom has its own whirlpool and sauna! I'm climbing in as soon as I get off the phone with you!" She saw me by the business center setting up the notebook PC. they didn't matter.. Perry's thrilled about it." I briefly glanced down to the ring. We were on vacation. visit a little bit there.where it would undergo routine maintenance .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD * * * CHAPTER SEVEN: The present After the last few days. "Have I told you lately just how crazy I am about you?" "Remind me. So what are you doing tonight .. * * * "Yes . 51 . Dot told me all about growing up here." I observed with a grin. and the rest could wait. We were able to get into one of their Grand Royal Suites." "You just want to show off the place. We came into Jersey on Saturday. The neighborhood was primarily Irish/Italian. "Myrna's sweet. I was a tad grateful to be back on the road.. these were the best of the best. but it wouldn't be proper. a thirty minute taxi ride from New York City. then head to dinner. As we passed a table in the living room. storing Nomad in an RV facility not far from CSI . it might be fun. and the architecture showed the cultural influences. I was more comfortable with it now. It wouldn't be proper for us to be seen driving down the road with nobody at the wheel . one of the most luxurious hotels in the city.?" * * * "We're meeting Mom at her place. occupying only the top four floors of the fifty-story hotel. we could come up here after dinner. Dot suddenly noticed the framed photograph of a man in a military uniform. the Halcyon? That way. "Can you blame me? I can't believe we're actually here! This is just so wonderful! Thank you!" She wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me a big kiss. * * * Carrie Brooks had a nice house in Dumont.and took a taxi to the Rihga Royal. too.. New Jersey. the whole 48th floor!" Dot reported to her mother within minutes of settling into the luxury suite. And for the moment.

" The pause that followed seemed to be just a little too long." Dot lost it. "Mom. "The picture of the Air Force officer on the table.. "Lloyd's my . Carrie came out of the kitchen. "Who's this?" "Who's who?" came the response. not recognizing the name or the face." I agreed calmly.. "See? Nothing. "Now let's sit down and let her explain!" "Explain?" She turned back to Carrie.. After a moment. what's going on?" Carrie paused a moment. the ring finger!" Carrie's left hand disappeared behind her as she held up her right hand and smiled.. "And I'll explain. "Let's sit down. "I can't believe this! My mother got married without me!" "Yes. Carrie tried to play innocent as I stood back and felt compelled to pray. then looked at both of us and announced. what's that on your finger?" she sputtered. and Dot's eyes went wide as her jaw dropped. "He's a good friend. "Do Grandma and Granddad know about --" "DOROTHY MARIE!" barked Carrie. there was a band on the ring finger. The tone of her voice was not as pushy as it had been a moment ago. "He's WHAT? When? Who? And you didn't invite us? Mom – we've got to have a talk about this!" Carrie looked at Dot and gestured to the living room. husband. Carrie brought her left hand out from behind her back and held it up." "Who can sit at a time like this?" she exclaimed." Dot and I looked at each other. "That's ." she said calmly. her hands waving. Lloyd." Dot pressed the question. as she just tried to understand. "Mom. but dismissed it as a female thing. she looked over at me and said incredulously. Lloyd?" probed Dot. "You know what I mean!" Lowering her eyes. 52 . "Mom.." There was something about that answer that didn't sound right. As if Carrie wasn't there. "Who's .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Mom. Sure enough. but I kept quiet. I was surprised that Dot had seen it from the distance. "What finger?" Dot seemed to become impatient at her mother's games." Dot called to her mother in the kitchen. Dot moved in closer to her mother." "Oh..

" The look in her eyes confirmed her words. "We were married last December in a small civil ceremony. I'm here.. Belushi. We got satellite cell phones so we can talk to each other. there was a hint of a tear in her eye.. This is far from a conventional marriage." She stood and wrapped her arms around herself as if it could keep her from falling apart. Right from the start. her hand twisted the wedding band on her finger as if trying to find solace in its presence. "SIT!" she ordered.. In the end they got married at a little train stop." answered Carrie in a sobering tone. while I sat in a nearby chair." she started. okay?" We both nodded." She paused to let those headlines sink in.. Nobody knows about it . "I pray a lot for him. I love him. U. and a dreamy grin crossed her face.. and we saw this as an opportunity for just the two of us to have a happy ending. "Remember the ending of the movie?" continued Carrie. We agreed that I would keep my maiden name .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Dot froze in mid-sentence. "You ever see the movie 'Continental Divide'? John Belushi. realizing we knew that fact already.. Both of us had grown children who had their own families. and hit it off right from the start." She paused. "His name is Lloyd Carpenter . "It was like one of those movie romances. and he's . we talked about marriage. and yet they couldn't stand to be apart from one another. as long as love prevailed. "We won't say a thing. or. I'm sorry for freaking out like that.. It was an opposites-attracting story – a city person falling in love with a country person.. two married daughters. Dot had eased up." Carrie smiled. this was weighing heavy on her.. The bottom line was that they'd work things out somehow. then he went back to the city and she stayed in the country." She turned and looked at us. you know – love at first sight.. It was a romantic comedy about a rough-and-tumble Chicago reporter. something. Brown. and the last movie John Belushi made before he died. Dot quietly walked over to a couch and sat unmoving." She paused. falling in love with a equally hard-as-nails naturalist. "So where is he?" asked Dot. and we try to get together as often as possible. Carrie and I joined her. I can't explain it any more than that. And I have a tendency to shake when I hear about another soldier being killed over there. But we had one major snag – we were both committed to our vocations. "Iraq. one in Alabama. or anyone else in the family. nobody did know about it until now. "That's us. "It's okay... Air Force. Carrie looked at both of us and took a breath. "We met last November at the Gym." She smiled. then continued. "Okay. I could see that this was hard for Carrie. and didn't want to separate ourselves from them in order to live together. "And . her mouth still open. or . "I really don't know why I haven't told you guys. And .. there. and the arrangement is the most practical one for us. "I'd like to be the one to break it to the rest of the family.. a widower . the other in Minnesota." 53 . There was a long pause. she sat on the couch with Dot. He's a wonderful Christian man ." She paused.. "They couldn't stand to be together in the other's environment.S. for obvious reasons. Maybe I imagined you'd try to stop me. I don't know.. Colonel Lloyd Carpenter. Blair Brown?" We nodded... and we patiently waited for Carrie to make the next move." said Dot. But we love each other.

"It all comes back to family. Carrie walked into the kitchen for something to wipe her eyes.. Afterward we went up to our suite for some after-dinner conversation. I mean. see if they need anything we can provide . Perry's had to fall back on preaching in missions wherever possible . and tried to reassure her.. basically offer and give them support where they need it.S. "So far we've got 173 homes around the U... when we felt up or down or sideways .. we'll give you the address and password so you can look in. "Do you mind me asking you both something?" confessed Carrie. "Well. "What we're doing is establishing group homes around the country. "Pray.. The best thing about that was that we were always there for one another.... Carrie walked over to the window that looked out at the magnificent New York cityscape. I'll bring it with us. When they separated. but Lloyd didn't call during dinner. I lived in a group home." I smiled. "I've been realizing.. connected by a secure website so they can share information and support one another. But then we have the group houses. giving people who hear the gospel and respond to it somewhere to call 'home' . her expression became sheepish.." reflected Carrie. and she deferred to me. or a hug." Dot and I looked at one another. We saw the disappointment in Carrie's face. we're taking a page from Paul's missionary journeys and visiting the homes we've already established. just in case he does call." Dot picked up the narrative.. I joined them and very matter-of-factly asked. or be there for us to help. I really don't know what you three do in your ministry. "I like that." "That could be dangerous. we preach the Gospel in tent evangelism meetings." I smiled. I know you travel the countryside preaching the Gospel. "Before Dot and I got married. somewhere to go to for 24/7 support . Following several minutes of small talk." Dot quipped with a grin. though." said Carrie without hesitation. See how well they're doing. remembering the faces of some of the men this applied to.. "How many people are we talking about?" 54 .. "I leave it up to him to call – wouldn't be good if I called him in the middle of a firefight – so I keep the cell handy. which is like old times for him." I paused. Since Clark's truck has the tent we use for the meetings. somewhere where they won't be alone when they need advice . There were a bunch of us sharing the house. * * * Deciding to have dinner at the Halcyon was an excellent choice. that house was the closest thing to a family they'd known. "Right now. She brought a tissue for Dot. or pray for Lloyd first?" "Pray. You'd like him. trying to find the right words to summarize things." She grinned in my direction. sitting on one of the couches. He's got a sense of humor like I do. To a lot of them ." seconded Dot with a nod. living almost communally. "So shall we talk about dinner . someone would be close by to help us.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Dot was on her feet and mother and daughter hugged for several seconds. but that's about it. etc.. her smile thanking me for the thought." "One hundred seventy-three homes?" Carrie repeated with admiration.. it's like you said..

looking at us for our permission. It's not perfect." she sighed. They saw the picture of you and started asking questions. and Carrie moved like lightning.000 people at any one time. too. Carrie thanked her daughter. occasionally breaking into prayers for him and all those over there. they know." She didn't disconnect until he had disconnected first. under overcast skies. too." I extended a hand. give or take." 55 . Martin joined us a few minutes later. and were escorted to our table. we had dinner with Douglas Martin." She paused. they'll be in town all week. "They were shocked at first. * * * CHAPTER EIGHT On Tuesday evening. as if the instrument carried his essence. Carrie held on appreciatively for a few seconds. "Love you. "Okay.. with distinctive muttonchop sideburns that extended below the jaw line. and we were just talking. "I love you.. I can give you the number of their cells. Then she set the phone down and turned back to us.500 and 3.. "How's your rate of success from the referrals?" "Good. of course. "Are you okay? I'm glad to hear your voice. Despite the fact that he was in his late 70's. His hair was still white and balding on the top. We arrived at Aureole on Park and Madison at seven. it's okay.." "Speaking of which. Yeah ." I admitted.." "Just like you all have sent men and woman to Serenity Center for treatment." We all jumped at the unfamiliar ring of a cell phone. "It's okay. Take care of yourself. The evening ended with us talking about Lloyd." Carrie's jaw dropped. Dot walked over to her mother and wrapped her up in a spontaneous hug. and she didn't want to let go of him yet. "I apologize for my tardiness. God does all the hard work of bringing people to us." he said as we rose to greet him. but I'm proud of it. No. "Wow! I'm impressed! You've done a fine job!" "We just provide and maintain the places. I love you . They want to meet you. Then they got used to it.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "I'm not sure of the exact figure. grabbing the satellite cell phone and glancing at it an instant before she answered. They're smarter than I give them credit for at times. Eighty-five percent are rehabilitated . When they separated. you didn't interrupt anything! My daughter and son-in-law are in town.. But I think I could safely say that we're housing between 2." asked Dot. "It's always fluxuating as people come and go. then Dot's cell phone numbers. sweetheart! No. he hadn't changed a bit since we first met him over five years ago." She paused. "Last-minute phone call caught me as I was leaving the office. "Lloyd! Hi. and they returned to the sofas." She looked at us with a 'just joking' grin. She held onto the phone a few seconds more. Talk to you tomorrow. bye." She repeated Perry's. we both nodded silently. too.

"He's a most remarkable man. "Still." After our waiter left with our dinner orders." "A lot of candidates will choose large houses – multi-family dwellings – because they're often closer to urban areas where the homeless dwell. "Since then. But we have witnessed some very interesting exceptions. I hesitate to ask. Once the word got out that Second Chances Ministries was actually willing to sponsor and fund qualified ministry houses within the U. He turned to Dot." A sad smile crossed his face.. the old gentleman took it and gently kissed its back. my dear." I agreed. and we had a way of people getting through to us with questions. It's nice to know how they turned out." "Yes. "You are a charming rogue. Martin asked where Clark was. "It is a most distinctive pleasure to finally meet you in person." He paused. many years ago." said Dot with the trace of a smile. Martin?" "Alas. do you think they will ever marry?" "I hope so.. The building was practically brand new." she commented." she said.." "Me." commented Martin afterward. I've resigned myself to be the 'charming rogue' before you. aren't you?" Martin flashed her a mischievous grin as he sat. .S. of course. But she lost her life during the war. "And this must be the face behind the charming voice .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD He took the hand. a group of people from one church took over a deserted apartment complex. standing and extending her hand. "Is there a Mrs. What made the difference?" "At first everything was mostly word-of-mouth . World War II. we can always hope for the best. it had been built by a developer in anticipation of a 56 . his smile brightened up a degree or two. obviously taken by surprise by the sudden flattery. or even speculate ." "What about you?" asked Dot. "It would be nice. I prefer being identified with the former than the latter.. But then you've gotta remember who we're talking about. you are aware of.. "And Miss Clayton has been quite the partner for him. and we explained about the 'road trip'. Idaho. his grip was firm.through churches and home congregations. "Most men of my age either become 'charming rogues' or 'dirty old men'. no. but picked up.once they were convinced that we were truly legitimate. who was very close to me. "In Kalispell." "I do. Dot?" Dot nodded." "True. as. that is. But then the website was established.. the emails came flooding in . "I know things were rather slow in the beginning. and may be easier to acquire." During our meal Martin asked us about the ministry houses. However. "They really do make a good team. too." concurred Martin. "There was a woman. instead of shaking Dot's hand.

be gentle. and he turned from us. farms ." Martin addressed shyly. "Especially since she has resumed her proper age. until someone in the group spotted it. They contacted us through Jack Heady in Portland. "The developer was only too happy to sell it.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD freeway off-ramp that would've increased the value of his property.. "Maybe you're right.. She is a most fascinating woman . He looked at us and said. then said.. she's far too busy nowadays to bother with emotional relationships. "Who is it?" asked Dot." He looked out the window. "Would you like me to say something to her?" Martin's face started to pale. "Lord.even ranches. and his expression turned to shocked horror. "Dot. yes! That was a long time ago.. and quite a looker. "But please . "So. "You might be surprised at how she feels about you. unused and deserted. no! Please." said Dot." We were curious. "If you hadn't wanted us to say something. then why did you tell us about how you felt?" He didn't reply immediately. If I remember right ." "That can change." "I will.. However. It's gone from being an eyesore destined for destruction to a true community. "Doug. albeit from afar." "Pat?" I exclaimed in surprise. the off-ramp was cancelled due to lack of funding. She's not still angry at me for that." she promised. and the complex sat there. "I'm afraid I spoke too soon in my earlier statement. There has been another woman I have greatly admired. "No . Do you recall an incident involving a self-destructing videotape?" He thought for a moment. I'm out of her league. is she?" "No. we went back to our hotel room for tea. I don't believe so." He turned and their eyes met. warehouses." asked Dot. I think over half of the one hundred thirty-eight units are occupied... and it was good to go within a month. "What happened?" 57 . "Patricia. don't!" "Doug. "Apartment buildings." I spoke up. and we had it checked out. "Ah! But I rather doubt that she'd give me a second look." Dot said patiently." "And that's just one example out of many." After dinner. "Why. We kicked in a little seed money for restoration." His smile vanished. "Pat Savage?" Martin smiled gently." I answered quickly. let alone be as interested in me as I in her. approaching him and placing a hand lightly on his shoulder.." I commented. But then he sighed.

my!" He laughed. So what if it had been the Crime College? That was ancient history. So she took the illegal route. when she was assigned to cover some old building getting torn down to make way for a school. so assigned her to it. when she was just a child. "Franklin knew too much to remain on the loose. But then. "I hope she's not holding a grudge against me because of that." He sat back. The story came and went. But then Penelope Savage was kidnapped. when Pat told us about the incident.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Well. and she was like a favorite niece from the Bronx to him. indefinitely. "No.just where is Mr. Monk offered her a piece of the action . "You and Clark had narrowly escaped Pat's clutches. So he was taken to the Valley . and she continued doing on-camera stuff. junior lawyers – to my office. but he was quite ineffective. right back to their rendezvous with Franklin.. and told her – personally addressing her on the tape itself – that I'd send a copy of the raw footage to the Feds if she didn't back off. having her assistant Franklin arrange for some professional burglars to break into our offices and hack into my computer files. sending one of her whelps – ahem. It was actually very sophisticated. they took a liking to each other. Although it took a bit of doing at the time. I could not allow her to show my little threat to others. she met the very-unique "Monk" Mayfair. at the time. Shortly after. it had been ancient history back in the 1950's.." "Oh.. she got him the information. she saw him as an uncle who dressed up in gorilla costumes. "Yes. and she tried pressing me for information on your alter egos. Karleen Bush had been just a minor reporter for a television affiliate station in New York City doing local on-camera stories. Franklin?" "The Valley of the Vanished. "I had no idea! By the way . "I had anticipated that she might try something like this." His smirk suddenly vanished.. As to the self-destructing aspect. 58 . well.. When she hesitated. no! In fact. And for some reason neither of them could fathom. After that. It was the best thing we could do. She first taking the legal route. I sent Pat a videotape with the edited and annotated footage connecting the break-in to her. she said that she admired you for getting away with such a daring sting operation – although." * * * On Thursday morning we met with Karleen. Their activities were recorded from the moment they bypassed my security and entered my offices. The Station Manager remembered that Karleen had done another Doc Savage-related story. so I worked with Mitch Drake to have a little welcoming party waiting for them. Then I followed Franklin back to Pat's private elevator ." I answered.. "The next morning. she had been tempted to personally march down to your offices and strangle you with the videotape. while covering those involved in the story. all hell seemed to break loose. let me see ..a big piece of the action." he said as we sat. considering the circumstances and possible ramifications. "She backed off." I quickly shook my head. and all without their knowledge." Martin nodded. Monk Mayfair contacted her and asked her to transmit an electronic copy of the story to an unknown location on short notice. involved in recalling the incident. I concur. so I set up the tape to destruct ala Mission: Impossible.

Doc Savage was alive. her own Rosewood. it's branches like these that work under her. And Pat Savage. The new Hidalgo Trading Company Building was a squat edifice of steel and glass built right next to the park that Mayor Koch had built. came out and made the world-shaking announcement dissolving her cosmetics corporation and turning her own island into the world's largest daycare center. until finally." "You just want to pull a surprise inspection on these poor people. Who runs the branch here?" "Bret Foster. 59 . such as Waverly Arms. of course." "I promise I'll leave my white glove in the car!" she grinned. Running media relations for the Clark Savage Institute was actually fun. No business was ever conducted there. I can't believe we haven't been here before. and she found she had a flair for Public Relations. * * * "You know.like Dan and George in Portland . It's a small office. Her suspicions increased geometrically when she was picked up by the same kind of aircraft Pat Savage used as a personal transport. reclusive for many years. the original Hidalgo Trading Company had been nothing more than a warehouse along the Hudson River. They flew out over the ocean while Monk made good on his promise of a big piece of the action: he offered her the position of Media Liaison for the Savage Institute. Back in the 1930's.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD There was the rescue attempt that resulted in the deaths of Penelope Savage and her kidnappers. and. Things moved quickly after that. She called it Rosewood after the horse she had as a child. When the Savage holdings had been liquidated in the 1950's. it was just there to house numerous airand sea-craft exclusively used by Doc Savage and his people. only about a dozen people. it was a truly ironic and fitting tribute.and was trusted not to give it away. Since Chris handles the brunt of the administrative duties. during the reign of Mayor Ed Koch. But Karleen Bush had the inside track. She was suspicious the next time Monk Mayfair contacted her. She accepted. She ran with the position and built a small team of handpicked professionals into a media relations group with over 200 people on the payroll. For decades it lay abandoned. the property was leveled and was replaced with a park. CNN picked up her little story. She suggested that they name it Hidalgo Trading Company. especially when he was requesting a meeting on the roof of their building. Then she proposed the construction of a building that would house the various companies they represented. I hope we can visit. They also have local people . and affiliates all over the world suddenly knew her name." "Okay. Then she got the biggest story of her life .who check out candidate houses and report their findings. Second Chances Ministries. the contents of the warehouse were included.

thank YOU. sir . we've got a rented towncar this time. Mr. A six-foot wooden rose. hold my calls for awhile. Then she pointed us towards a set of leather-bound chairs as she continued to talk. Her secretary. and were escorted to Karleen's office. "And we figured. "So whaddya think of the place?" she asked." "Sounds good. "You drivin' the RV?" "It's in storage." She smiled. "Since we're in town. She conferred briefly with her secretary. as you can see.. Lemme just double-check my schedule first. a diminutive Vietnamese lady by the name of Trahn Le. okay? Thanks!" Then she took off the headset and placed it on the coffee table between us. with a low whistle. the Rosewood logo. waving her arms to encompass the office. huh?" "Nice digs." I added. we politely pretended not to notice. a Bluetooth headset hanging onto her right ear.. "Of course! I'll look forward to it. we'd touch bases with you and others we haven't seen in some time." 60 . "We were actually hoping to take you out to lunch." she commented." I commented admiringly. Clive it is! 'Bye!" She pressed a button on the side of the headset and gave a huge sigh. She turned to us and gave us a wave and a grin. "I can't tell you how happy I am that you've both accepted to be guest lecturers to our Oceanography students!" Pause. "Yes. "Whew! Sometimes I wonder if technology's just another way of putting us on a short leash!" We all stood and exchanged hugs." answered Dot.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD We pulled our rented townhouse into the Visitor parking spot in the underground lot and took the elevator to the tenth floor." She waved her hand to encompass the entire room. It was good to see her. "Mercy! We've been trying to get them to lecture at CSI for months!" She pressed a button on the Bluetooth again and said. "Trahn. "The Man Upstairs has been real good t'me the last couple o'years. even though it was clear that her smoking habit hadn't lessened since last time. "You've definitely come up in the world. "Well. We're staying at the Rihga Royal.. stood next to the main doors. Karleen was excitedly pacing the office. "Pretty cool. you two here on business or pleasure?" "We're taking a vacation. Thank you again. You two had lunch yet?" "No. sir!" she said as she joined us and eased into a chair. "A kind-of second honeymoon." I replied with a gentle shake of my head. informed us that Karleen was involved in an important phone call. Figure you know the best places around here." "Ain't it somethin'?" she replied with a big grin." "Sweet.. "That I do." She put on the Bluetooth headset. I'm not complaining. We introduced ourselves to the receptionist. Cussler! Okay. So . but that we could go in anyhow.

" "Just consider the alternative. transported from Maine to Oregon. but yet still had not figured out the cause of death. seeing the absurdity in the actual facts. see what he thinks of it. Yeah.. but it had been digitally altered to make it appear as if the person in the picture was centuries old. "You know .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Good!" She exhaled with relief. Karleen summarized the story. that's absolutely inspired!" laughed Karleen." Hanging up the phone. for display. In the meantime. she informed us. it would serve them right if we leaked the real story to one of these tabloids. what he did.thanks." I sighed. "'How did the body get into that warehouse?'" she quoted dramatically." She suddenly rose and retrieved something from her desk. "Singers is one of our clients. one José Ramon Perez. moved only recently by one of Savage's surviving cronies . Splashed across the front page was the bold declaration DOC SAVAGE FOUND! Underneath the headline was a picture of Doc that had obviously been pulled from old records." added Dot. It continued to report that teams of forensic experts from around the world had 'worked around the clock'. "Next time you talk to Clark. easy. "'When did the Man of Bronze die? Why hadn't the body been properly buried or cremated? Is it possible that it had been hidden deep within the bowels of the dilapidated Crime College. "Trahn? Set up reservations for three at Singers. I found my blood starting to boil. "I didn't know it would cause you to bust a pipe. Perry.Mayfair..is it from people who get their cues from the dead?'" Despite her overly-dramatic tilt to the final paragraphs. apparently the mummified remains of Doc Savage had been accidentally found in a warehouse in New York City by an immigrant janitorial worker. showing us the headline of the tabloid... knowing that nobody in their right mind would believe a word of it. The article concluded with the declaration that the body – once the Government finished with it – would be turned over to the National Museum of History in Washington D. and rehashing the story of the Crime College. "How it would look if the real truth about what happened to Clark came out? How do you think the public would take to him being in suspended animation for fifty years.. let's eat!" 61 ." "Perry. Interspersed throughout the story was the usual background stuff: who Doc was. one-fifteen will be fine . They had determined that the body had been dead for at least 20 years. We see that sorta thing all the time 'round here . or Littlejohn? Was the body of their former leader serving in the same way as Norman Bates' mother in Psycho? Was this the 'force' behind the innocent-appearing Clark Savage Institute? What is really being taught to our children there . then becoming a Jesus Freak on top of it?" "Good point.C. "How can they print such trash? It's all speculation and innuendo! They have no proof!" "Easy. "Have you seen this?" she asked." comforted Karleen as she neatly folded the tabloid. they've also got one of the best salad bars in the city. I just wanted t'share the latest Doc Savage gossip. Then I laughed.

He promised Avery that they would do business. and the words must've appeased the native's curiosity." 62 . Mr." Avery started walking through the little town. and he had a strong feeling that the man calling himself 'Avery' wasn't using his real name either. Avery accompanied him in the small cruiser to a sleepy fishing village on the coast. he showed off his stock with all the pride of a used-car salesman. as long as he got what he wanted. "He'll take us to the governor.. Franklin gave him a dirty stare. Pock-mark machine gun holes stitched across walls. "I welcome you to my village. It hardly looked to Franklin that there was any activity here. A pair of guards at the main gate exchanged words with the native and Avery. then. yet stood intact. and introduced Franklin to him. scorched ground and craters that could've only come as a result of explosives. And a submachine gun-carrying native giving them suspicious looks. The native with the submachine gun began to question them in rapid Spanish. The governor's residence reminded him of something he had seen in a movie: the walls looked as if they had taken many direct hits. But he knew that others had to. But then he saw the damage. Mr. the man could call himself Mickey Mouse." explained Avery. Don Miguel Sandoval looked like a kindly man." Avery defended himself. lead on. The more he saw of the town. Men mending a fishing net. Franklin understood. man. Then it was time to meet his army. he gestured for them to follow. It is called Negro Lobo. The man stood and extended a hand." "Certainly not. giving him a generous retainer for his availability. Señor Franks. "Look. They were accompanied by at least one armed man until they came into the presence of the governor. Avery answered back. and he spread around enough money to get their attention. Avery was also an arms dealer. and his material was quite impressive." "Black Wolf. A few children at play. He didn't use his real name. yet Franklin could see the weariness. let alone military activity. his gun raising to a ready position.. the more he knew this was the place he would find his army. "This is the place I told you about. bro'. Franks. if you're trying to give me the shaft . Dried stains that he hoped hadn't been blood.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD * * * CHAPTER NINE: Five months earlier Franklin didn't know where to find an army. Avery bowed to him. Native women walking around with groceries. It didn't matter. huh? Okay. then opened the gate and let them in. but his 'Peter Franks' alias.

Although I have an army." "Very well." "We have been this way for many years. I can give you all that." "Pardon me?" Franklin's jaw dropped." "Mr." Franklin quickly composed himself.." "Nor do I.. at war? I believe I may have a solution for you. no one else will be harmed." "Your proposal is very interesting. very convincing. The island is an orphanage. so I'll get right to the point. "We are hardly that." He smiled. What is the name of this island?" "Does that make a difference?" Franklin returned." His smile was pure showmanship. "A health spa. Are your men capable of doing this?" He paused briefly before answering." Sandoval smiled. it seems. It's obvious that you and your neighboring villages are ." "How can I prove to you my sincerity?" "It is not your sincerity I doubt. But there are many things to consider.. We both benefit: I get an army with which to achieve my objective. What do you say?" "Army?" the old man chuckled. if it is true. Once this is accomplished. 63 . Yes. The location is Caroline Island.. Who will defend this village while the army is away?" "Leave that to me. señor? I think not. It is your intent. I just want a show of force to convince the people on the island that I am serious. It is my intent to conquer that island and remove those currently in power. and this I will handle personally. shall we say. and you get a safe homeland for yourself and your people. "I'll even cover your moving expenses. now?" he commented. Avery tells me you have potential.. señor . It was also. Don Sandoval. "Very well. they are. disappointed. What can you possibly offer us that we have not already attempted?" "There is an island in the Mediterranean. I do not wish to hurt innocent people. Señora Savage has taken in children from all over the world. certainly not trained warriors. "It's what?" "An orphanage. "It would help me to persuade my people to help you. "Has she. Señor Franks.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Franklin took his hand and offered a respectful bow. There are only two people on the island I wish harm to. If it's done right. "Yes. The most dangerous thing about it is a health spa. I believe your sincerity to be good. What I propose is that I will turn the island over to your people in exchange for the use of your army in achieving my coup. You just need the right equipment. "I know your time is valuable.. and motivation. We are more like a militia . weapons. I will personally have no use for the island itself.

"Señor Franks." "A wise choice." 64 ." Franklin smiled. Ramon. It will be ready. "It seems I have some catching up to do. you will take your people to the Promised Land. associates with me. "You will require arms and equipment. "Don Sandoval. turned it to face Don Sandoval. Mr. I have been .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "You wish to harm Señora Savage?" Sandoval cautiously asked. Mr. I can see you are a man who has a passion for his people. I will find an army to help me if not here." "As a gesture of good faith. and opened it." He paused. As they walked back to the cruiser. Franklin asked. You are correct . "I will need to speak to the commander of your army.. Adios. Please do not let any so-called sense of moral conscience cloud your judgment in this matter. to move to a land where they can live in peace. I will accomplish." Franklin and Avery left the governor's house." "I know just the place. close to where the army will be training." "Of course. Franks. while you're at it. "Don Sandoval." Franklin stood resolute. you'll find I can meet all your needs. señor. why don't you fill me in on what's been going on in the world." "I am offering you a way to free your people once and for all from the oppression of your neighbors. You will be as famous in your country as Moses is to the Israelis." Sandoval tried to hold back the surprise." Franklin placed his briefcase on the desk.my people are everything to me." He paused. for the last four years. Inside were stacks of American currency. "Thank you as well. It is unoccupied. What I plan to do." "And." He paused.. We'll need somewhere to live. for the right price. incommunicado . I accept your offer. and the other man pumped it gratefully. Especially any developments within the last three years. you will not regret your decision. but Franklin saw it. I would like to present this to you. Franklin's voice sobered. Don Sandoval. How many have died from the fighting between you and your neighbors?" "Too many. Avery kept quiet at Franklin's side as they waited for Sandoval's decision.." "That is my son.. señor Franks! Muchos gracias!" Franklin extended his hand. Our army is yours. Franks.. This should give you a start. then elsewhere. "I will be back within a week. I'll have several ." the other man smiled wickedly. "Gracias. Avery. How are you with intelligence gathering?" "Mr.. "As soon as possible. "Good. A house with five rooms would be sufficient. looking over at the weary man with so much riding on his shoulders. Let's start with all the information you can find about Caroline Island.

and a videotape labeled P. but it was different. Adults dotted the scene. "This'll keep me busy. Walters' voice played over the familiar footage of the spa on Caroline Island. knowing that he'd been intimate with ..500 children living on the island. reading about her dissolving Patricia. A quick call to the lobby.. others running and playing side-by-side with the children. There were new buildings now. But now he knew. but that won't make a difference. Alone in his room with a six-pack of cold beers. especially when they had been . ranging in age from six months to seventeen years. this doesn't change anything. He stopped the tape. And he shuddered in horror. It took Franklin a couple of moments for it to sink in. some still in construction. with that old hag on the screen! He had a sudden overwhelming urge to take a long hot shower. in the midst of them. And . He cleaned it up. and then he was so shocked that he lost his grip on his beer. "Well." Franklin commented to himself." Then he watched the videotape. and downed the rest of it before opening the other bottle and continuing the tape. "Currently there are 1. SAVAGE INTERVIEW with a date from last year. which was an interview Pat had made with Barbara Walters. was a familiar figure. "Three years ago. realizing he had spilled his beer." The film showed the once-familiar landscape. he started by skimming through the articles on Caroline Island. Franks. there were no pictures included." She paused. labeled with the year and CURRENT EVENTS or THE YEAR IN REVIEW. some standing. it dropped to the floor and dribbled out onto the carpet. "Who does she think she is. "This is Caroline Island now.. as if that could change things. but there'd always been that little shred of doubt that said it couldn't be possible. Mother Teresa?" Franklin commented. Among the items were several videotapes.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "No need to explain. He couldn't believe his eyes. Mr." * * * Within 24 hours a box was delivered to his room." As the scene changed.. and a VCR was brought to his room and hooked into his TV. a plate of sandwiches. and a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door. The show began. I am at your disposal. Inc. He'd known for years how old she had truly been. And there. Franklin stared in shock.. 65 .. together. Also in the box were a few magazines and a manila envelope with a sheath of newspaper and magazine clippings. "P-Pat?" sputtered Franklin. She can hide behind those brats. this was Caroline Island. and devoting her life to caring for children. People would come from all over the world to use its facilities as a five-star spa. all those children! It was mind-boggling! There were literally hundreds of children running and playing together. towering over the throng.

' 'Mommy Day Care. he remembered it was also the last place he had been before being tranquilized and shanghaied to the Valley of the Vanished.to become what some are calling a 'glorified den mother'?" Pat laughed. "First of all." Franklin leaned forward in his chair. there were still traces there of the Pat he knew. She was smiling. "However." 66 . mobbing her like Lilliputians tackling Gulliver." started Ms. "Let me just thank you again for allowing us into your home to do this interview. Ms. the Unofficial Patron Saint of Lost Children. it took Franklin a moment to recognize what had been the master bedroom at the top of the mesa on Caroline Island." she beamed. both now and when I'm gone. instead of a single heir .. "When she was kidnapped . as to your question .. It appeared that Pat had it remodeled since then. and continued the tape. "Penelope was my heir. from a bedroom to a living room. He sat back. But thanks to some friends of mine. I had no heir. He paused the tape. Bitterly. She looked--happier?--than he remembered.my own daughter Penelope. and her voice became emotional.' 'Saint Patricia. "'The Ultimate Soccer Mom. I have hundreds of children who can benefit from my life and my wealth. What had happened since last time? What had she done with the Penelope alter ego? Perhaps his answers were in the interview." "It's my pleasure.' 'The World's Oldest Babysitter.. angled so the camera could have a full view of her. The company would've gone to her after I was gone.. Personally. his former boss. looking at her face for several minutes. took a long drink of the beer. Why did you give up everything that you had for this . Pat on the right..' The list goes on and on. and fell onto her rear end ungainly. I love every label that they pin on me!" Her smile persisted for a few moments. as you know. it was genuine.. Walters sat on the left..was .' 'Queen of the World's Largest Day Care Center..' 'The Oldest Living Single Mother.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD He was calmer now. She toppled over. and power.. "Was?" he blurted.' 'Auntie Dearest. the answer is . Walters. It wore heavily on me for a long time. she was still a strikingly beautiful woman. starting over at my age! But I have.. He retracted his earlier comment about her being an old hag. and backed the tape up a few seconds before proceeding. and now . fortune. and when the rescue attempt failed . "You had fame." Pat cordially replied.' 'Earth Mother. "That's a new one! I've been called a lot of things since I started this.' 'The Second Coming of Mary Poppins. they were able to steer me in a direction where I could start over. smiling.." She paused. He paused the tape and studied her for a few moments. and saw that there was more of a change to her than just the white hair and wrinkles.' 'La Madre Savage. Imagine. It was incomprehensible to Franklin. She was my reason for living. The scene blended into a homey setting.." She started listing. He continued the tape. Barbara. Then her eyes narrowed and her tone turned serious. and she was killed . Despite the white hair and wrinkles. And it wasn't some kind of a forced smile to please the cameras. then faded away as she became serious. Pat continued. Now he saw Pat again. "This place is wonderful. Two comfortable chairs were arranged for the benefit of the camera. But the expression on her face was amazing.' 'SuperNanny. She was surrounded by children.

The children need help. and nurtured . This has been a great help. One strong factor in our favor has been the natives of the island. where they will be encouraged and will grow. "Last year we established the chain of Chances recruiting offices to handle the influx of people who wanted to work for us. A chance to be loved. and her voice cracked with emotion. but not the child. "I don't know who is the more happy. we received 273 children from Donetsk.. "The children smile . the strong do. caregivers. Many of these children come from backgrounds where there is poverty. 'For every child. You don't need to be a professional to be a part of this organization. "That's easy. or left on the doorstep of a church or mission. caretakers. but we could always be better." She turned and addressed the camera. from blankets to clothes to shoes to toys.. And . It's amazing. they could afford the pregnancy. allowing people to apply in person at any of the offices around the world.net. And we . when it was called by another name.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "So what is your goal now?" Walters asked.chances. When I first came to Caroline Island. where their life expectancy is often times no more than six months.. cry for them. in whatever capacity that is." She paused and grinned. and all applicants are thoroughly screened. but it happens all the time. Things have grown considerably since then--now even more--as the natives use their hands to create things for the children. if you have a compassion for children." 67 . they are happy." They paused while Pat wiped tears from her eyes." "Some of the children you have brought in have health problems. But if that is not what will happen. anything that has to do with children.. A second chance to life beyond what their environment declares to be their life to be.. you are needed. We have a wing of our medical facility solely for children with AIDS. depression... "How are you equipped for personnel to handle so many children?" "We're good. "But in answer to your question. abuse.. it is my desire that every child that comes to this island leave here with a couple who will raise them.... the natives had a very poor economy. we are giving them a second chance at life itself. Our mission statement starts off with. And. malnutrition. and see them through to the fullness of their own potential. Barbara. or online at www. Certainly. they laugh . Walters empathetically offered her a tissue and waited before going on to the next question. and they play. Their life expectancy is often less than one year. God willing.' And that just about says it all. you name it--basically. "Sorry. I know. Background checks are performed on each and every candidate. Many of these babies will never see their first birthday... starvation. don't they?" "Yes. and neglect .. if you care. based on a modest fishing trade and selling crafts to the tourists. For example. We try to make their time here as happy as possible. Many of these children come from third-world countries where they are simply abandoned. I told you I'd plug it if I could. the children or the adults giving to the children. "What do you aspire to?" Pat smiled. We need help. a loving home. I want to make these children happy for as long as they live here . The weak don't survive. disease. "But don't let that stop you.. Ukraine. And so they were abandoned in the hospital while the parents moved on.. we need a lot of people to take care of these children: language experts. living each day as it comes." She turned to Walters with a sheepish look on her face. Many of these children were abandoned by their parents ." Her eyes started misting over. That would make me the happiest. cared for.

phone calls . And right now. it's no secret that I'm not alone in this stand. letters. For years I turned a blind eye to it. then Walters wrapped things up. and people were hurt because of it. If that means sex education. "Pat. and yet they still choose to listen to their own voices rather than those who have no voice." "Yes! That's the reason why I can speak . does my faith in God give me hope for the future. If that means adoption." Pat replied softly. Barbara Walters paused briefly before going on to the next question. I was in the business of selfishness and self-aggrandizing. you did. If that means abstinence education. Pro-life groups throughout the world have affirmed their support through emails." She smiled. and I will continue to support it no matter who out there doesn't like it. Franklin watched for a few moments. whether they be pro-choice or pro-life. If that means opposing abortion -" She paused and looked straight at the camera. and by the way. 68 . knows this fact. we have to break for a commercial. taking a deep breath before answering. Before. "Yes. as long as they are not blinded by their own selfishness. Barbara.then I support it. The only difference here is why. The camera went to a two-shot of them sitting in the living room. then I support it. every scientist. you WERE in the cosmetics industry.it's from experience. "This is Barbara Walters for ABC News. Walters faced the camera. Thank you again for letting us into your home. "Your network might edit this from the interview. We are going to win." She gave the camera a grin that Franklin remembered. then I support it. "Well.. Those who support abortion know what they're doing. "I support life. then the answer is yes. Pat. "Your religion is very important to you now. there was a brief re-introduction. then stopped the tape and unconsciously punched the Rewind button. But not anymore. But now." "Isn't that rather harsh?" replied Walters. And that's all I have to say on the matter for now." There were a couple more questions. I have hope that I can stand on like a rock in the midst of the storm. The 'beauty business' I called it. Good night!" The end credits rolled over across a series of pictures of children." Following the commercial. but I'm going to say it anyway: I support life. are you aware that you've made some powerful enemies because of your stand against abortion?" Pat took the question in stride. then I support it. They'd rather have their million dollar bodies than spend two cents on precautions. our time is up. I had no hope.. isn't it?" "If you're asking. followed by a close-up of Barbara Walters' face as she asked her next question.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The other woman nodded and smiled." "It was my pleasure. "Oh. and funds. through Jesus Christ. ". "I've always had enemies. "After all. Life begins at conception.

this. to the best of my ability. New York. Let me take what comes with a smile. and the world is a place where science strives to prove that there is no God. it doesn't matter. and no Morality save that of ‘situational ethics’. and they'll give up everything before they see one child hurt.Albert Einstein The world in which we live is one where the clarity of choice between right and wrong. he thought. and wrong no man. I need to know more. He picked up the phone and called Avery's message number. Step ahead in time a mere forty years from Einstein’s passing. Clark Savage. that all may profit by it. is there an alternative? Almost a century ago.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD I can't believe she gave up the business to become . Our modern institutions of learning – from the first days of kindergarten to the last echoes of Pomp and Circumstance at their final graduation – now strive to convince the student that there is no God. without loss of courage. Still.” -. men like Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein believed that science could be used to prove the existence of an Almighty God who ruled supreme over the Universe which He created. Let me do right to all. Is it any wonder that so many of our youth become disillusioned. religion without science is blind. no absolute Truth save the realities of Science. we move uncertainly through a world where the simplicity of "black and white" has been replaced by countless shades of gray. * * * CHAPTER TEN: The Present Excerpted from the brochure The Clark Savage Institute . to make myself better and better... between truth and lies. defined his personal Code of Behavior that he followed throughout his illustrious career – "Let me strive every moment of my life.” --Sir Isaac Newton “Science without religion is lame. Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it. 69 . filled with hopelessness? And. of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. with no regard for anything but justice. In a different time. a private Christian school nestled comfortably within a valley in Hamilton County. I had planned to use the people at the spa as my hostages. more important. Jr. 2004): “This most beautiful system [The Universe] could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. Let me be considerate of my country. Instead." His Code is the foundation for The Clark Savage Institute. has vanished. but this is far better! Children are easier to control.A Shining Star To Guide Today's Youth (Rosewood Press.

and be unafraid to speak the name of the One who laid the foundations of the Earth. neighbor-friendly neighborhoods of years past. and environmentally friendly. The Clark Savage Institute is a departure from that paradigm. to the world-class Arts and Music departments. no idea was considered too absurd or impossible. one can come to know his true place 70 . comfortable. lecture halls. high school. Buildings. and collegiate levels of study. ARRONAXE Named after the mother of Clark Savage. and a full and robust community that was designed and built from the ground up. E. In the long run. to the cutting-edge Computer Science department. Variety and innovation is widely abundant. however. A LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE In designing CSI..” (Dean of Students B. the student can come and learn in an environment unfettered by the worldly notion that there is no God. and students are encouraged towards creativity and thinking "outside of the box". Jr. in body. both great and small. The facilities themselves consist of classrooms. and be unafraid to praise the Maker and Keeper of the Stars. mind. it is not the singular excellence of either our laboratory facilities or our staff that really matters. an entirely new educational facility serving elementary.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The Clark Savage Institute is both an innovative educational center and a model community. However. Here. will one day crumble into dust. and laboratories that would be the envy of any college in the world. and the blazing technological advances of the future – and is quickly becoming the envy of communities around the world. From the unique Marine Sciences Complex located next to Lake Chaac. THE CAMPUS “Our mission is to educate and train young people from all walks of life. safe. Whether taking the "Flea Run" – a state-of-the-art subterranean transit network – or utilizing the many distinctive bronze ElectroCabs – a fleet of personal electric taxis shared on an as-you-need-it basis – getting around is quick. to ably fit them to assume their roles as the next custodians of our world and our civilization. bridging past and future into a remarkable facility. and come to know the One who stretched the skies out as a canopy above the planet. in the community of Arronaxe. One can study meteorology. In that studying. and spirit. Located in a picturesque mountain valley. One can study astronomy. in making the very latest technological advances in educational assistance available to every instructor and student. many choose to live on the other side of Lake Chaac. Only what’s done for Christ will last. An old saying puts it best: “Only one life. Ottey) Most colleges that exist today began as smaller schools in particular towns that had their beginnings for other purposes and grew. One can study geology. students will find a world of adventure to be found at CSI! Most residential students live in dormitory clusters arranged in natural park-like settings. and the humans who erected them will turn to dust and faded memories. to support and staff it. Arronaxe is a one-of-a-kind amalgam of architectural styles and tastes – a fine balance of the safe. easy. providing locally-focused community environments. the Institute is. it will soon be past. No expense has been spared by the school's founders. in fact. too.” Only what is done for Christ. It is with that in mind that this Institute has been created. only that will last.

sir. they wondered if their ride would be over before it began. and then continuing along their routes. Huge colored arrows under their feet indicated their direction. and distinctly-uniformed aides looked around for people who might need help. carrying the two of them and their backpacks through a connecting tunnel to the valley and the habitat beyond. "Enjoy your stay. They disembarked at the Fuller station and took an escalator to a covered shelter at street level. color-coded light-rail cars stopped at nearby platforms. "I'll have to verify this. or Heliport. involving different types of mass transportation. But when the security guard at the end of Renwick Way did a double-take at Clark's pass. Each color corresponded to their respective circuit: Institute. We don't generally see clearance this high." replied Clark. Bonnie commented on the color scheme. they descended into an underground parking facility and proceeded to the area reserved for motorcycles. * * * Clark and Bonnie rode silently towards CSI. To that end. Clarkie?" "Perhaps. It ended at a central hub for the transit infrastructure. even while the student was yet unborn. Residential. and Clark and Bonnie stepped off with the others. Clark and Bonnie joined those boarding the next Residential train and had a seat. "Would you two please wait over there?" After a few minutes. however. scooters. pointing to a covered area. folks!" They continued past the checkpoint. mopeds." he said politely. Maps displayed on the walls showed the various routes. instead of questioning it or fighting it. "A blue geodesic dome? Are we missing the Fortress of Solitude. Commercial. taking the left fork in the road towards Arronaxe. It all seemed to be very efficient. Clark and Bonnie joined a handful of others on an inbound motorized walkway. many radical innovations had been utilized. One of the goals in designing CSI and Arronaxe had been to limit the number of gasoline-powered vehicles within the valley. "I'm really sorry for the holdup. Bonnie gaped at the sight of several geodesic domes. and gain insight into the destiny his Maker foresaw. 71 . ma'am.edu for more information." he replied with the trace of a smile. they just decided to go along and see where the ride took them. they knew God had a larger purpose in directing them here. their doors briefly opening and closing. Visit TheSavageInstitute. and drawing the line for gasoline-powered vehicles at the external parking centers. he returned the card with apologies. As they approached one. and bicycles.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD in the universe. Sleek. "Your precautions are necessary. sir." He offered them a respectful salute." "Of course. Deep inside. Still within sight of the mountainous edge of the valley.

Chris. Clark switched on the lights. She had cocoa-brown skin and short. let him handle things internally. You gonna press charges?" "No. You'll find clothes in the closet. Chris!" "Then why didn't you choose green?" He paused a heartbeat." she informed him. Clark also contacted Christine Snow to arrange for a replacement cell phone. she didn't need it while inside. "Give Bonnie a hug from me. "Biker justice. no. "I see you all received the fact sheets with the information about class size." she snickered on her end. they had dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. But this is where the fun begins! This is where you go beyond what's on paper to actually seeing what 72 . don’t be afraid to ask questions – that's what we're here for!" The girl was in her mid-20's." "It's not the Fortress. student-to-teacher ratio." "'Night." "I'm glad. * * * That evening. "Good night." she groaned." he called back. and the restaurants served a wide variety of selections. "I'll have 'em FedEx the replacement phone to the Fortress. On her left ear was a wireless microphone connected to a small-but-powerful belt-mounted amplifier. "You pick out the clothes?" "Uh ." "I'll let her know she made some good choices.. I got Dot's help. I might let Irish know who did it. but outside she sometimes needed an extra boost. He placed the backpack on the floor and pointed to one of the doors. "That's your room. The décor was simple but tasteful. etc. "Nice. It seemed that much was within easy walking distance." she commented. her slender figure dressed in a white blouse and bronze blazer with matching slacks. "Then notify the cops when it turns up. "I'll put a trace on the stolen one." She paused. folks! My name is Ashley Winwood. though. and I'll be your tour guide today! Now.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Once inside." * * * "Good morning. boss." "Oooh.." "Will do. Rooms radiated outward from a central hub which served as the living room. straight hair." She went into the bedroom. I like it.

"Very impressive. Finally. emblazoned with the school's motto Iustum prosum. where the wall curved below the dome. Johnny. it is. Directly beneath the center of the dome was a life-sized bronze statue of Doc Savage. then gave Clark and Bonnie an apologetic smile. dressed casually. "We will be visiting the Savage Museum. a lump in his throat was the only thing that betrayed the love and pride he felt for those he had had the honor in associating with. His pose was not like Perry and Dot had seen at the wax museum in San Francisco – a wildly-barbaric Doc Savage many believe him to have been .. High above them was an opaque rose-tinted dome. now resting within a lighted glass display case. Long Tom. standing on a platform of marble. There you will be able to find out more about Doc Savage and his associates. "Yes. blended in with the crowd of curious parents and children." Directly behind the statue. All were represented: Monk. The pictures of Monk. Johnny. Ham. mom! It's him! It's the statue! Mom!" The mother looked down at her son. was Doc's Code. of course. On either side of the senior Savage were smaller framed portraits." Ashley chuckled.but instead showed him standing straight and tall. This is the hub of activity for the Clark Savage Institute. Sr. dignified and proud. As Clark scanned the indirectlyilluminated portraits.. and Pat. engraved in the wood above the portraits. and wrong no man. in honor of his father. then over at Clark. Renny. Now. his little index finger frantically pointing at Clark." announced Ashley. "It's him. She gently controlled her son. 73 . holding onto Clark's arm.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD goes on at CSI! We'll be starting our tour here. stood the familiar portrait of Clark Savage." "Is zat where dey got all the guns?" asked an eager eight-year-old. At this time of day. "At the end of our tour." As she continued talking. at the Administrative Building.. then looked up and elaborated. while the others' had been painted from photographs taken at their prime. A bronze plaque was attached to the front of the platform. which was branched to the left and to the right by office wings. if you all would please follow me . et nemo inuriat and the translation "Do right to all." Clark and Bonnie. Clark had donated the portrait. "All disabled and displayed behind protective glass." commented Bonnie. Ashley guided them through the main doors and straight into the central hall. and Pat had been painted recently. a child tugged anxiously at his mother's coat. the light filtering down produced a calming glow on the hall.

as you've probably seen already. the deans. you need to run a few errands and don't want to have to deal with carrying things on the Flea Run. "Now. there are quite a few of them scattered about. and we're trying to get Martha Stewart for Thanksgiving!" * * * "You'll see. so. It's just that simple. sir!" Ashley responded. Say. so far. the guidance counselors. it has worked quite well. but it is not the only way." * * * "We'll be doing a lot of walking on our tour. while others are for more-informal. "I get this reaction all the time." * * * "The Dining Hall serves both students and staff. but yet an increase in personal computing devices. for example. Now. For our younger students. smaller group meetings. Last month we flew in Emeril. and the financial aid people." * * * "Where's the books?" blurted one man. As long as you're using it. below us. simply place it in off-duty status. people here employ a lot of different ways of getting around. classrooms here come in all kinds of sizes. we bring in a guest chef to prepare a special meal for everybody. "The Administration Building contains offices for the President. when you've finished using it. we'll proceed outside and check out some of the other buildings . The reason behind that is to take down any potential barriers – and.. we have a PDAtype device that was developed by Fisher-Price and Microsoft. if you'll follow me. "That was a close one." she commented aside to him. The Flea Run. occasionally. you will see the ElectroCabs. "You may notice the lack of actual textbooks by the students. however. It's not uncommon to see kids and their teachers sitting around a table breaking bread and elaborating on things from previous classes. Some are your standard large lecture-hall size. is the primary mover of people and materials from one section of the valley to the other. please don't hesitate in letting me know.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "It's okay. You merely barrow the nearest off-duty ElectroCab and drive it to where you need to go. "Not unexpected. if you feel the need to stop." Clark and Bonnie moved away from the curious boy and his mother. and leave it for the next person." he replied. Then. so it shouldn't be hard to find one nearby. In Arronaxe. Each student can then access a library of electronic documents at their disposal. 74 . "Excellent! Now. Each student is issued a Dell tablet computer connected to a network accessible via wireless connection anywhere within the valley. How many of you will be attending on a scholarship or grant?" Three kids raised their hands." Clark smiled.. "I don't see no textbooks!" "I'm glad you asked. it's actually kind of flattering. no one else will barrow it out from under you.

it's because much of the travel is underground via the Flea Run. "Advanced computer science students are required to take a year-long course in 'A+ Certification'. Rhetoric. And.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Almost all of the classrooms are equipped with docking ports for sharing information and – of course – recharging batteries. and as many varieties of team sport as we can accomplish in this valley. since we've been blessed with a lake of our own. even if only to the extent of music appreciation. The steep roof-line will shed snow easily." * * * "Physical disciplines are just as important here as spiritual disciplines. "I'd like to add a personal commentary about our Music and Arts curriculum. we even persuaded California Governor Schwartzenegger to make a rare appearance to promote physical education! "We believe everyone can find something they can excel at. Geography. and an education in it. we also include sailing. Meteorology. that group encompasses Math. The overall architecture is rustic. Since the buildings are fitted into the nearby hillside. regardless of where he was or what he was doing." "Still does. Last year. This includes hang-gliding and rock-climbing to help the students build self-confidence." Bonnie said under her breath. basically. but. An instructor can write down a problem on his tablet – having it automatically displayed on the whiteboard – then he can authorize a student to use his tablet computer to answer the problem. All of the buildings are connected to the network. so we do our best to expose each student to just about every sport this side of polo. is in the state top ten. If you don't see many of the students around. The music aspect is a part of our species' various cultural heritages. In this way. and we have a number of physical trainers available to help them. Add worship. as many buildings in this region are done in a similar fashion. General Science. no student will ever find themselves at a loss when difficulties occur. Our football team. "Are any of you considering becoming permanent residents?" Ashley asked. 75 . The shy student who knows the answer but is afraid to come up before the class is now a thing of the past because of this technology." * * * "Over there you'll see a cluster of dormitories. and how to take them apart and put them together. Your maps will give you a better idea of what is where. English. "We encourage each student to develop their own physical regimen. That rainbow building is our Music and Arts Department. and it's a natural. and this does not attract undue attention. and Life Sciences. troubleshoot the hardware. Many classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art whiteboards that can be linked to the instructor's and/or students' tablet computers. you've never really seen such a dramatic example of cooperative effort!" * * * "From here you can see many of the buildings. etc. they appear to be only one story tall when they actually are two. is beneficial to raising well-rounded individuals.or 6-man sailing team in a race. Let me tell you. both in small and large boats. Doc Savage reportedly spent two hours a day in a personal exercise regimen. and a couple with a preteen girl raised their hands. if you've never 'crewed' on a 5. in which they will learn what the inside of a computer is like. Social Studies. the Savage Warriors. eliciting a sharp shush from Clark.

and respect is valued. "Excellent timing!" commented Ashley eagerly. We'll see both on the other side of the lake . How would this place hold up in a quake?" 76 . shops. but first we need to transfer to a vehicle . It's on the school side of Lake Chaac." * * * "Did anybody see the special on The Travel Channel last month?" More than half raised their hands." The bus slowly cruised through the streets." The rapid whap-whap-whap of a helicopter interrupted the seriousness of the moment. or in a room in one of the larger facilities. you'll learn scuba diving as well as how to operate a minisub. The Fuller and Garrison districts had houses reminiscent of science-fiction movies. Many took pictures and pointed in wonder at the different neighborhoods and districts. Those who deliberately choose disrespect and break the rules don't remain here.. From there it will descend underground on powerful hydraulic lifts.." answered Ashley with conviction. that's quite a lot.. All this underground stuff seems kinda scary. and stretches 200 yards over the water before descending to the foundations firmly planted in the lake bed. and quiet. The Milliken district was just the opposite with its elaborate log cabins.. to one of several climatecontrolled hangars where its passengers will disembark and transfer to the Flea Run. "Behind the row of guest cabins is the Commercial district. rests just under the surface. "Respect is taught. purchased and restored to its former beauty. "If you didn't. we've got videos of it in the gift shop inside the Museum. They stopped and Ashley pointed up to a row of large windmills high about the top of the valley. The Churchill district sported English architecture. Ashley utilized the amplifier by connecting it wirelessly through the bus' speakers. Considering how much wind comes across there. "As we head over towards Arronaxe. "The windmills supplement the power to the valley. if you look over there you might be able to see the superstructure.the legendary Helldiver.." "What about crime?" asked one woman up front." One man raised his hand. and everyone glanced up to watch. etc. we'll be passing the Marine Sciences Complex. Speaking of submarines. If you're into underwater studies. As they drove about. "That helicopter will be landing at the helipad in a few moments. while the Picard district gave them a taste of France. then turn around and sell the surplus back to the power company. then you'll probably recognize some of the architectural styles we'll encounter.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "At first you'll probably stay in one of the guest cabins by the lake." That elicited a wave of laughter from the tourists. it just isn't tolerated. Elsewhere you'll see arrays of solar panels. with stores. If you did. Everything here is like a very large neighborhood .. we have an authentic piece of equipment used by Doc Savage . "This is a civilized place.. "I'm from L.. with Frank Lloyd Wright-styled domiciles covering several blocks. * * * The tour group took an electric multi-wheeled bus around Lake Chaac into Arronaxe. restaurants. The overall plan is to be 100% self-sufficient within ten years .A.

fascinated by the historical significance of this place and the artifacts. "Please. "No. come and see me after the tour. "Have no fear. It's called Atlas. "It's temporary." "Of course." agreed Clark. it's a nice place. We've been out of communication since my cell was stolen." "I needed to flex my spiritual muscles. * * * That night they had dinner with Johnny at his home." 77 ." "Sorry." Johnny changed the subject." "Amen to that." complimented Bonnie. a three-room cabin near the lake in a neighborhood dubbed Professor's Row. "Well." he suddenly commented. Anyhow. 'Dean' is even more stuffy a title. Yes .. seismic conditions are constantly monitored." explained Clark. Bonnie. but . If you'd like more information.. "Don't get me wrong. Doc Savage is Here!" Changing into it in the ladies' room. It was difficult enough when people called me Professor. "Has Perry shown you his new find?" Clark shook his head. she proudly showed it off while Clark repeatedly grunted with disgust and pretended he didn't know her. I think one of the things that makes this view even more special is that I see what marvelous things came from the ashes of the Crime College. Dean Littlejohn. Then his face turned red. and any sharp increase of course would necessitate an immediate evacuation aboveground. you two make a marvelous couple. great care was taken in constructing the underground structures. Johnny snorted." "It's so out of place not to see Perry and Dot with you. you know.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Ashley was ready. Y'know. "Nice place." * * * They concluded the tour with a visit to the Savage Museum. Every wall was made using a composite material developed by Monk Mayfair himself. And you've got a great view." "I think so. "I see you haven't given up your love of the big screen." "You must mean the television. However. and he apologized for his abruptness. People milled about.. He was bequeathed a ring by his late uncle that has the capability of rendering him noncorporeal. Bonnie purchased a bronze-hued tee shirt that boldly proclaimed. It's Johnny to you. and with the satellite feed. and it was specifically made to take a lot of punishment without being affected – they say it has fifty times the tensile strength of the strongest material currently in use. A representation of the 86th Floor headquarters in the Empire State Building took up a special room in the museum. Johnny. Clark was thrilled to see that Mitch Drake's personal collection was now here.. I'm quite at home.

"But I don't know if he'll wait that long. "What's up. They returned to their seat and their eyes followed her until she was out of sight. I'll show them to you tomorrow. too?" "He ran some tests on the ring and its capabilities. * * * Back at their residence." "Are you sure. sugah?" pressed Bonnie. of course. I appreciate it. "Something's bugging you.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Invisible?" clarified Bonnie. as she placed her hand gently on her swollen belly. and the aboveground temperature was dropping steadily. aboard the Flea Run. * * * The sun had set on the valley. I'm sure he'll tell you all about it when you see him." "Can we help you somewhere?" asked Bonnie. "When …?" asked Bonnie once the car started moving. "Well." "Yesss. But belowground. we're not in a hurry." She shook her head again with an embarrassed grin. As Bonnie sipped on some chamomile tea. Without hesitation. she looked above the cup at him. "Thanks. She thanked them again and waddled onto the platform. "Yes! It's all so fantastic! I have pictures of it that Monk sent me." she answered with a smile. the doors to the train opened and a very-pregnant woman waddled in with more than a little difficulty. "My son is. They carefully helped her to her feet and kept her steady until the train stopped and the doors opened. I just got off work. Tenth grade. She took a deep breath and smiled at them appreciatively. My stop's just ahead. "Here's my stop … if one of you could give me a little assist standing?' Both Clark and Bonnie rushed over to her. Clark was quieter than normal." Clark agreed half-heartedly. She shook her head." "Thanks. I'm supposed to be due on the 19th. I'm a Dental Hygienist for Dr." she finally said with a grin. Jim Sanders – part-time. About halfway to Fuller. Clark jumped up and assisted her to the seat next to them." "You're a student here?" asked Clark. Doc?" 78 ." "Monk knows. Clark and Bonnie didn't notice the weather. they're in my study. "I mean.

79 . "And as far as what happened between us . "Yes. "But there are proper ways of doing things." he replied cautiously. is it? Seeing that woman on the Flea Run brought it up for both of us. and wouldn't have given in to it. 'All things are lawful." he confessed. so to speak. barely a whisper. she sat next to him.." agreed Clark quietly. C'mon over here . "Basically. did you?" She suddenly gave off with a laugh.. Then he whispered.." "And that's what's really scaring you. "That's ludicrous!" Bonnie took his hand.. "You know. we were having a good time – a really good time.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "It's nothing. "What are we going to do?" she asked. her free hand resting unconsciously on her stomach." She had to repeat herself a couple of times." Her voice drifted off for lack of words. pregnant?" The last word came out in barely a whisper forced between her teeth. you wanted it to happen?" Clark scoffed. isn't it?" she said. it's not 'nothing'. I've never been pregnant before. why don't you consider this possibility: maybe you didn't see it because. without being afraid of what the other might think.. "If this had been sixty years ago. I would've smelled that substance right from the start. sit down.'" She paused. and we don't want to admit it. asking myself how I could've allowed this to happen?" He paused. "But that's not what this is about... goofy . but we didn't do them. "Is it? When we were out there in the middle of nowhere. How could I have fallen for such an open-ended attack as that?" Bonnie put a hand on his leg. Clark was quiet for several moments. if it's still bothering you. "I keep going back to what we did. turning to face him. so we didn't consider precautions." dismissed Clark.. She leaned in towards him. Is it true that a hypnotized man won't go against his nature?" "Yes. I should've been more on my guard anyhow – especially since Irish warned me that there were some in the gang that didn't like us and wanted us out... subconsciously. "Neither of us could've imagined this happening..." He changed topics." "There's always proper ways of doing things .. "So what if there was something deep inside both of us that wanted to do what we did . but eventually he came over and sat down on the couch. We could let down our hair. to no one in particular.. What if I'm . the drug just kept our defenses from holding it back. "Hey. Her voice became suddenly distant as she mused aloud. but not all are expedient. "No. and . stop beating yourself up! You didn't think they'd lower themselves to such a dirty trick." "I'm scared. just sitting around the camp fire and eating those lousy nutrition bars of yours. and just be . too. and he wrapped his arms around her shoulders.. And when we did go to bed – we didn't stop it from happening." "I don't know..

but yet they didn't want to go back to the Valley of the Vanished either. Don Sandoval gave him the honorary military title of General. It could have had something to do with how Don Sandoval had portrayed them." His voice lowered almost to a whisper. but they'd been minor ones. Bonnie . They'd become somewhat disillusioned by life on the outside. In short. Money had a lot to do with it. in order to make the image complete.. that was most apparent when flashing a stack of $1000 bills in front of peoples' faces. just to shut them up. watching the two boats that were still several miles away.. "Y'know. the problems were the minors. and he turned to meet her eyes. those two Mayan girls who accompanied him on his journey.. And." "I love you. as the ones who would provide the people of Negro Lobo with a safe homeland and a secure future for them and their families. "I love you. 80 . These people had welcomed him and his group right from the start. Franklin was their savior.especially after the village had been attacked again." Clark suddenly got a grin on his face. as they nodded and saluted him as he stood waiting on the docks. As he walked from a small locked shack located near the docks. Anything was possible if you had enough money to back it up with. huh?" "Yeah.. he had taken up wearing the uniform of the rank. There had been problems. Talk about cosmic irony. And Franklin was Santa Claus in a camouflage uniform... It hadn't been what they'd been led to believe . These sheltered girls had never witnessed the horrors of war. He grinned at his unintentional joke . and now it was staring them full in the face. It was Christmas. It gave him a certain respect among the people. In the end. Franklin promised to take them far away once this whole matter was over." "Make her an 'honest woman'. that he was forced to marry her or go to jail. will you marry me?" * * * CHAPTER ELEVEN: Four months earlier There was a feeling of anticipation in the air in the village of Negro Lobo. but that wasn't the case here. there used to be a time.." answered Clark. he reflected on how well things had been going since they arrived just over a month ago. too. they told him that they didn't want to stay . and a couple of people had been killed.. when a man got a woman p-pwith child. "So . After the funeral. He really liked watching people jump.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Whatever we have to do. for Franklin.

" Avery gave him a nonassuming smile and unzipped the two duffles. "If I release it on the island . and laid them side-by-side on the table. It should give you plenty of time to get your butt clear.just 0. it's 26 times more deadly than cyanide gas and 20 times more lethal than potassium cyanide. and now started assisting in unloading. it cannot be stopped.01 milligram per kilogram of body weight . I think you made a good choice. Avery gestured to the cylinder.. Avery joined Franklin. though once this goes off and starts releasing the sarin. "The pistols are set and loaded with toxin darts. Avery placed his two duffels near them. he gently placed a metal cylinder with an odd box on one end. and Avery beamed a toothy grin at the obscene amount of cash inside. Several soldiers had followed Franklin." "Thank you. deliberately. and they went to the locked shed. From one he produced two air pistols. Sarin nerve agent. what the primary doesn't get. and won't dissipate for hours. "This is a sixtyminute coagulant fuse." he directed." "How fast will it spread?" asked Franklin excitedly." Without waiting to be asked. How fast it spreads will depend on the winds. he rationalized.. this will." Avery looked him in the face and said slowly. "Why don't we find a place a little more private than here. "This canister contains the sarin in compressed vapor form. Colorless and odorless. the arms dealer touched the box on the end of the cylinder. Pete. A droplet the size of a pinprick . "It will kill every human being who comes in contact with it. "Let's see the stuff.can kill an adult human. Realize one thing. The other man hesitated a moment. and only the strong survive. life was hard. one per gun." "This way. carrying two heavy-duty duffle bags with him as he greeted Franklin with a grin and a handshake. Franklin opened the bag. "I do love doing business with you. Franklin quickly snapped it closed. When the boats were close enough." smiled Franklin dryly. Is this all of it?" Avery gave him a pained look. Inside was a table with a worn leather bag on it. Crate after crate was removed and stacked on the ground. the symptoms are particularly nasty.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Hey. reaching for the bag. "This'll be your backup. my friend? You wound me!" He looked around. Franks! Looks good on you!" "Thanks. "Nice uniform." 81 . then waved back. the vapor will hover close to the ground. "Would I try to short-sheet you. just like you requested. The boats eased next to the dock and ramps were positioned for unloading." He paused for effect. Next to it. By the way." he commented. and I'll show you the good stuff. Franklin saw Avery and raised an arm in greeting. When released.

and radiation yield. then handed them to Franklin." Outside once again. staring into the crate." Two men from the boat were guarding a wooden crate about the size of a large steamer trunk. Avery motioned to them." Avery flipped through a stack of bills. so I got it for you. Nice doing business with you." he reported. "And the primary weapon?" "Saving the best for last. Good. I'll be in touch. does it?" muttered Franklin. Mr. As they headed away from the docks. they had many of the crates open and were checking out their new toys." Franklin smiled. I'd memorize it if I were you. Like kids at Christmas. You've outdone yourself. Franks. or you want results?" Franklin turned to face Avery. he quickly flipped through them." Back in the shed." They shook hands once more. "I'm sure you will appreciate the detail. It's all there. it wouldn't. would it?" "No. Avery. "Results. "Doesn't look like much.. they lifted the top off and moved aside. as will be the . "Hey . Avery reached into the duffle bag again. "You wanted recon on the island.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Good.you want looks." he replied. with the two conspirators alone once more. Wouldn't do to make any mistakes at this stage of the game." "Likewise. On the DVDs are the footage my people filmed while on Caroline Island. This is a portable DVD player." "Then this baby will deliver. "The remote detonator and the manual are back in the shack. And the transports?" "Will be ready when you are. Mr. "You're paying me well for it. Franklin turned to the reactions by the soldiers. a man from one of the boats handed Avery a sheaf of papers. potential blast radius. diversion against the neighbors. 82 . "It's outside. they exchanged final waves. "Thank you." Franklin handed the leather bag across. This report goes with it.. "Thank you. including megatonnage. Mr." Avery then rolled off the specs of the item in the crate." Avery said with a wave of his arm. "The cargo manifest." He smiled. then Avery climbed back aboard the boat he arrived on. "Have them close up the crate and follow us. At one point Franklin heard him actually give off with a giggle while he described the mass destructive capability of the atomic device." "I'm sure I will. Avery.

part of it is in motion even now. we'll hit your neighbors hard and fast with weapons they never thought we'd have. Dot and I reluctantly checked out of the Rihga Royal. And then. * * * CHAPTER TWELVE: The Present On Saturday morning.. my friends. I have been reviewing the information they sent back." He paused to take a drink from a whiskey glass. and cough in reaction to the amber firewater. What do we do?" Franklin smiled and outlined the plans. and a twenty-megaton surprise package to let them know that we had the last laugh!" The two captains looked at each other.actually. we had a hand in the choosing of the leadership for the Institute. knowing he was one step closer to his objective. The man and woman are also mercenaries trained in sabotage techniques. and I know exactly how we'll take the island. Actually. a man and a woman .." "Not to worry. "Before we head for the island." said Captain Martinez. "With our army gone. * * * Later that evening. sensing their hesitancy and placing a reassuring hand on each of their shoulders. "My friends. he presented them to his two Captains. They went in the guise of a childless couple shopping for a baby. this was a good day to be alive. when they do strike back at this village. Ramon Sandoval and Julio Martinez. after going over the information Avery's spies had provided. all they will find are empty buildings . "What will it matter what happens to this old place once you are safely on Caroline Island with your families?" "Sì. They will return to the island in two weeks with enough hidden explosives to surgically eliminate their defenses and make them easy prey. And they. in turn. took our like-new RV out of maintenance storage. It'll set them back long enough for us to do our business and bring everyone over once it's done. we will be the ones who are vulnerable.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Franklin felt a rush of adrenaline. Since we were on the road 83 .. "But what about our people? Who will keep them protected while we are gone?" "Sì. "Two weeks ago a two-man team . there will be nothing here for us. "You are right .. General. We will arrive at night. "This is all well and good. * * * Since we had been there at the inception of CSI.was sent on an undercover reconnaissance mission to Caroline Island." finally agreed Captain Sandoval. and slip right in." comforted Franklin." added Franklin. Señor Franks. most of the people won't suspect a thing until it's too late. assimilating what Franklin had just suggested." added Captain Sandoval. Dot. graced Clark. and headed for the Clark Savage Institute for our appointment with Johnny. and me with special privileges.

my dear. We met with Professor William Harper Littlejohn in his study. which looked very much like the workshop of an archaeologist. Seemingly random details can take on monumental proportion." "I wonder why the others didn't spot that?" asked Dot. "Is that significant?" "My boy. We also got special parking for our rigs. and.. and special passes to make it easier getting through security. I showed the guard at the Renwick Way checkpoint our pass. just like each piece in a jigsaw puzzle comes together to form the whole picture.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD most of the year. "There is no obvious method of exposing you to the ring's contents. he went back and forth.. It didn't take long after our arrival for Johnny to ask to see my ring. "Fascinating!" and "Astounding!" and "I'll be superamalgamated!" We smiled at the way he was taking to the ring like a child to a toy. "Alas. not looking up from his work. they aren't me. Johnny looked up at her and smiled.so we figured we'd decide on something by tomorrow. he didn't know where one would look for an opening. he held his hand under it.named after Buckminister Fuller. we were provided with residences within Arronaxe in our choice of neighborhood. however .. inventor of the geodesic dome . We hadn't quite decided whether or not we'd stay here for a few days . mounted on a boom arm." he said with a hint of a chuckle. But then we heard him mumble." Johnny sighed. I've dealt with these things for as long as Monk's played with a chemistry set. * * * "Perry! Dot! You made it!" he greeted us with enthusiastic hugs." 84 . writing notes and peering through the magnifier. And since I don't know one end of a formula from another . Turning on the light." he asked. peering at it but not closing his hand around it. "With all due respect to your grandfather. I do see a tiny opening just under the gem's band. sure enough. everything is significant..and Dot and I picked a small two-bedroom cottage in the Dixon neighborhood. At first he was silent. and felt more like getting back into checking on the group houses . He turned his hand around to the left and the right. Then he stood and walked over to a desk with an immense lighted magnifier attached to it. "You said your uncle received this while in Communist China during the early 1950's?" "Yes." I replied. I carefully removed it and placed it in his open palm. and he waved us through without hesitation. Come! Look!" We looked through the immense magnifying glass at where Johnny was pointing. "I'm afraid this still doesn't help you with the rest of your questions. rotating his hand left and right before carefully taking it out of his hand and placing it on the desk's surface. there was an almost-imperceptible opening on the inside of the ring. but with a personal corner highlighted by a large fireplace and a grouping of antique couches. That could be the method of delivery. "Perry. Clark had chosen a blue geodesic dome in the Fuller district . "In archaeology. We proceeded to the RV area and parked Nomad. Reaching for a notepad. Then we joined him around the desk." He hummed at something as Dot and I drew nearer.we were both rested now.

"No harm done. "So you're saying this doesn't work for anyone else?" "Yeah. and they told me they hadn't talked to you ." he answered. I'm sorry. they took it well. Gumball tried it. I was so excited for you that I . we're over here in Johnny's study! C'mon and join us . It seems it's an inherited ring in more ways than one. Johnny." "Let's get them over here. "Perry. and his eyes grew large. I'm afraid I spilled the beans about your ring. she must've had my name on her Caller ID.. hi!" "Hi." I comforted. "They're here!" he informed us." "Haven't told him?" Johnny looked at us strangely. She picked up on the second ring." Clark related while looking the ring over." I answered." I nodded. Does Bonnie still have hers?" "Yes.I'll order the pizzas and we'll make it a party!" "We'll be right there!" she said excitedly. we gathered around the fireplace and swapped stories of recent events. I asked them what they thought about your uncle's legacy. then they asked what legacy. and nothing. but Johnny interrupted me. Bonnie! Hey.. "Monk tried it. I don't believe so. although they were as surprised as I was when I first found out. "Clark and Bonnie are staying in Arronaxe!" I gave him a double-take.. "Okay.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "No. Thank you. Did they seem upset that we hadn't said anything to them about it yet?" "No. "But it does tell us something." His eyes lowered. Perry! Clark's cell was stolen!" I cleared the display.." I took out my cell and started dialing Clark's number. "See you soon!" * * * After all the hugs and handshakes. "No. "Johnny was telling us about it. "Since when?" "Since Wednesday! We had dinner just the other night. "You're very welcome." His voice trailed off." 85 . "Did you two just arrive?" We nodded. and I told them." Johnny's smile was gracious. "It's all right. "Forgive me. What did Clark have to say about it?" "We haven't told him yet. I dialed her number. standing up and putting a hand on his shoulder. I believe so.

but somehow couldn't come up with the words. The only thing I could compare it to was a 'disturbance in the Force' like Star Wars. They didn't sense me." Then Clark and Bonnie told us about their time on the road. "Do you think they suspected?" asked Bonnie. I didn't want to say anything about it. Fortunately. Clark and Bonnie came back to Nomad with us. I tried to recall all the movies and tv shows depicting invisible men and women. so did my uneasiness. and was thrilled when they paused long enough for me to slip inside. I could shrug off the differences. even more. and went straight to their dome. so I kept hidden and listened. I felt strongly that Clark and Bonnie were hiding something. I concentrated as I triggered the ring. "I don't know. and wouldn't as long as I kept cool and did nothing to give myself away. * * * As the evening continued. especially Perry. I saw Clark and Bonnie at the train platform. They got off at the Fuller station. Afterward. I didn't want to become visible while in their line of sight. "I'm gonna go for a walk. without hesitation. what they weren't telling us. The big thing right now is waiting to see why God put it into my hands now. Clark and Bonnie made small talk during the ride. "I hated lying to them. but I knew Clark had a memory like an elephant. especially when it came to details. I tried to ask what had happened. I found a corner where they wouldn't be doing anything. Maybe later. and waited until they settled before ducking around the corner and hiding on the other side of the wall.. they seemed to be deliberately vague. "Walk off some of the pizza. and I needed to know what it was and why they were having to hide it. and even gave different details. and how they managed to avoid detection. If I didn't know it was them. I was outside and swiftly heading for the Flea Run station. and." "Indeed. I knew I had a way to spy on them. Have you considered a genetic link between you and your uncle?" I shrugged. up until it came around to the last part of their journey. at least not publicly like this. one-on-one with Clark. and why they didn't catch up with them. and came in time to board with them." Before Dot could say anything. there were few passengers at this hour. I had an uneasy feeling about what they were telling ." I informed Dot. When they left to return to their own residence.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Very interesting. I stood where I'd be out of the way of foot traffic. When it came to what separated them from the other bikers. They shared a lot of details in their narrative. I felt frustrated that I hadn't gotten the truth from them. "Your guess is as good as mine. But I needed to start after them now. so I didn't have to move around too much.. but said nothing that answered my questions." 86 ." replied Clark with a sigh. I held my breath when they opened the door.

. God. fair. At that moment I wanted resistance.' I don't think Perry would take that very well. we got caught up in a little carnal knowledge in Clark's tent.. My head was bowed. and I might be pregnant." I hadn't expected that. and my signals of affection had been misinterpreted as something deeper. but what could we do? 'Oh. Dot started showing far more affection than was comfortable.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Yeah. and I dropped to my knees. Dot hadn't become a Christian yet. My anger had been met without resistance.. 87 ... I was silent. I wanted conflict . you'll tell me – right?" "Yeah . it's Claude Raines!" I said caustically. A thought entered my mind. I wondered. "Look . "No. You don't know the whole story. looking around. "Are you still out there?" "Perry?" seconded Bonnie. they figuratively surrendered without a shot being fired." I stopped breathing.. wasn't . let's talk about this. All of my own stupidity and guilt crumpled in on myself. It had only been by the grace of God that I had been able to flee the room before things got out of hand. how different would it have been if Dot had been a Christian and had still tried the same things on me? Would I have been able to resist? Would I have wanted to resist? I moved out of my place of concealment and exclaimed..." muttered Bonnie. "You did what?" The effect was just as if a live grenade had landed on the floor in front of them... As we kissed goodnight at the door. by the way. "Perry?" exclaimed Clark. It ." "And. several years ago. I wanted to fight! But instead giving me something to hit. "What in the world are you doing here?" "I'm discovering how you've been lying to me . and what else you've been doing!" "Oh. and I suddenly didn't have an angry leg to stand on. "Perry?" asked Clark. Perry .. My mind flashed back to a hotel room in San Francisco. now that you've been busted. "Who do you think?" His normally-stoic face now mirrored anger.blast it. I guess we have to now. "And ask you to forgive us. while we riding with the bikers.. and my eyes were closed. My breathing came in gasps. and I was as transparent spiritually as I was physically." said Bonnie. I stopped dead in my tracks.

I really screwed up. The leader tried to warn us that some of them were out to get us . They put a psychotropic enhancer into our water. sugah. I didn't trust either of you. now casually. "And since neither of you considered bringing protection along 'cause you didn't think that anything like this would happen in a million years – there's a possibility that you might be pregnant. I groaned and my eyes rolled up to the ceiling." Bonnie came out a minute later. "I'll take that as a 'no'. "So .. we all sunk back onto the floor." simplified Bonnie." "A what?" I asked. I looked over at her." I confessed. I didn't deserve the compassion they were showing. I held up my hand. as if God had timed it that way. She got up off the floor and walked for the phone.. "It's not exclusive. confused.. They were hurting because they had been forced to lie to me. "I have. but I didn't heed his warning. I get the idea." he agreed." I paused. Y'want me to call her over?" I looked at her with pained eyes and nodded. "Does Dot know you're here?" asked Bonnie. and I opened my eyes. " "The next morning." supplied Clark. too. I'm sorry. "We were drugged by some of the bikers we were trying to minister to. "An aphrodisiac. and he lovingly held me. "I think it's too soon. but I was the one who betrayed you. Clark scooted over next to me on the floor..The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD And then. what happened?" I asked." Clark got down on his knees before me. "I've been a jerk. "She's on her way. and I was hurting because I felt I had to spy on them in order to determine the truth. and it was breaking me.. sitting and wiping our eyes. Then I scooted back so that I sat on the floor with my back against the couch and crossed my arms in front of my chest. After several moments. I became visible. I felt muscled arms around me. I thought you had betrayed me. Clark's head was against my shoulder." Bonnie nodded. too. Bonnie was there." 88 ." I nodded and took a deep breath. "Have you been tested yet?" She shook her head. So you didn't have a clue what was going on until . she's not angry. I harbored resentment in my heart and my actions. "Say no more. "I am so sorry. "I'm ....

Explosions rocked the ground and filled the air with acrid smoke. delivering destruction to weapons caches and ammunition stocks. They had heard the explosions in the distance. * * * CHAPTER THIRTEEN: one week earlier The only thing keeping it from being a scene from the movie Apocalypse Now was The Ride of the Valkries by Wagner. "This is Moby Dick! Good work. Avery reached over and switched off the radio. returning to Aquarium! Over and out!" Everyone around the table paused just a moment before erupting in spontaneous cheering. it's good news!" I took a breath. "It's good news. "Okay. several men waited patiently around a table. those nasty piranha won't be troubling you anymore!" Another voice replied. and now they waited for the outcome." My eyes went as wide as my smile. "Moby Dick! Moby Dick! This is Barracuda! The fish tanks have been cleaned. "Really?" "And we want you to do the ceremony. as the surrounding villages got a taste of vengeance. Bodies of soldiers lay waiting to be claimed." I stopped breathing again. 89 . and only the shocked survivors saw their attackers depart as quickly as they had arrived. Clark put his hand on my leg. "Roger. But this was no movie. They had heard the initial orders for the attack. What?" "Bonnie and I are going to get married." I sighed. Vehicles became twisted heaps of flaming metal. "Clark.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Thanks. staring intently at the radio in the center. did you tell him the rest of the story?" "There's more?" I groaned. * * * In the governor's residence of Negro Lobo. Barracuda! Well done! Return to the Aquarium!" The first voice acknowledged. Helicopter gunships flew out of the sun and over the buildings.

where a soundpoofed room was being used for weapons practice. he entered the wheelhouse and approached Captain Aaron Fry. Captain. A hallway opened onto a catwalk overlooking a warehouse-sized compartment." he greeted. Señor Avery!" "My pleasure. Once you send them the signal." said Don Sandoval cautiously. he looked out at the waters of the Atlantic and pulled the collar of his jacket up against a sudden gust of wind. Accepting the timing of the wind as a sign. Franklin located Captain Sandoval a little farther down on the catwalk. General Franks." Franklin left the wheelhouse and went down into the body of the freighter. "Is this not wonderful?" "It certainly is. and gave Franklin a toothy grin. Standing on the high bridge of the freighter Andronicus." nodded Don Sandoval. At this hour many of the soldiers were involved in physical training. or practicing hand-to-hand combat in sets of two or three. "Bueno! Muchas gracias. All is well." "I approve. General. The place was currently humming with activity. "I see the men are keeping busy?" "Sì! There are a few who are in their quarters. they'll neutralize the island defenses and security staff. He looked up to see who was approaching. "How are we doing. "Good afternoon. turning to Franklin. "The ship is waiting for your people. Have you spoken to your father lately?" 90 . Captain?" The portly man at the wheel glanced back at him briefly. and the team is ready to strike on the island. observing the proceedings through binoculars." "And the weather?" "We've got reports of a squall thirty miles ahead." Franklin agreed. but it's nothing that my Andronicus can't get through. "Still on course. There were times he preferred it to air travel." "Excellent! Thank you." "You said no one would be hurt. standing and extending a hand to the weapons dealer. you may proceed!" * * * The sea air agreed with Franklin. They'll just be given a mild dose of food poisoning to keep them off their feet. Don Sandoval!" he replied with a confident grin. A pair of soldiers with automatic rifles went through a door at one end of the hold. Avery wasn't fazed. "General Franks. "And they won't be. but the majority are here or maintaining the boats. Then he answered. Captain.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Bueno!" beamed Don Sandoval. either in organized group exercise." "Good.

" "All ." she offered." Pat greeted." "How bad is it?" asked Pat with a concerned tone. diarrhea. 91 . "I wouldn't sweat this. aren't they?" "Yeah. It's just a little food poisoning. "I'm going back to my quarters." "Sì. Franklin turned away and placed a hand on Sandoval's shoulder. Just give 'em a couple of days of bed rest and liquids. and they'll be fine. Keep me posted on their condition. "I guess you're right. right. "What's up?" "Oh. that's all. Pat! G'night!" "Goodnight." she replied. Last night they had an impromptu party and got ahold of a bad batch of shellfish. just the other day. General!" Franklin felt good as he left the exercise yard and went to his quarters. but I wanted to let you know that your security staff is going to be on the sick list for a couple of days.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD He nodded. General. They've been drifting in all day.. mild fever. Pat. really. "Evening. Diane Cunningham. * * * CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Present day Pat Savage was settling down with a cup of tea when her phone rang." Franklin agreed. He sat in the chair next to the window and looked out at the sea until he began to feel tired. He moved to his bunk and fell asleep. cramps. The usual symptoms: nausea. Pat. "Not too serious. "I hope so. I certainly hope so. it'll be weeks before they think about stepping on your toes." "I would hope so. He informed me that things are very quiet in the village. "Considering how hard your neighbors were hit. The mid-30's physician was apologetic. it's nothing. Come and get me when it's time for dinner." After a few more minutes. "Sì. "Things are pretty calm 'round here at the moment. Diane!" Pat hung up the phone and picked up her teacup again." Sandoval's expression was sober." Pat set down the teacup. It was Caroline Island's resident doctor. "Sorry to bother you at this hour." she reluctantly agreed. She slowly stepped onto the terrace and looked out onto the island. Di.. There has been nothing since we departed." "Will do.

"Oh God. Any resistance had been quenched without casualties. peering through binoculars at the nearby island. not again!" 92 . Dummy explosives had been distributed all over the island. but these were placed away from people. Like spiders. Wearing night-vision goggles to see in the dark." he said softly to the island." * * * Pat Savage dreamt that she was once more in the Valley of the Vanished. She walked back inside and retired for the night. Franklin was exuberant. Her hair was dark. and were for demonstration only. she reflected. crews operated whisper-quiet motors to propel them away from the freighter and towards the island. "Sleep well. and it brought a smile to her lips. It was like a universal truth: some kids took longer to get to sleep than did others. She yawned and admitted that this kid was tired. It would be Jill Woodward and her group. Franklin watched the progress of the boats through night-vision binoculars of his own. On the bridge. The sound of multiple helicopters echoing off the high walls of the Valley had wrenched her from sleep. and waited. it was insurance against anybody wanting to play hero. and would soon take her prisoner. and needed her beauty sleep. and rubber rafts were lowered into the water. General!" he replied with a salute. Franklin received the report that the teams had reached their destinations and had secured their objectives. they had followed her here. It all went down without a hitch. "Captain Sandoval! Is everyone clear on what they're supposed to do?" "Si. Franklin smiled. As she stood at the window and watched them approach. "Your wake-up call will be coming very soon. * * * "All right!" exclaimed Franklin. made to look like the real thing. * * * Within thirty minutes. everyone.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD It was quite a different place than it had been. "Excellent! Bring the helicopters to the surface and prepare for launch! We advance at dawn!" "Sì. Sandoval walked away to take care of the orders. she groaned. "The doors are opened and the boats are ready to be lowered!" "Good! Proceed!" Panels had been opened on the sides of the freighter just above the waterline. armed soldiers dressed in black outfits scurried down nets and boarded the rafts. General!" With a quick pivot. Far below. There were a few packages of real explosives in case someone tried calling their bluff. she heard the sound of whining children drifting on the night breeze. and her face made young by the many silphium injections she had taken over the years.

The occasional sound of gunfire and the sudden 93 . Smiling at the flaming wreckage of the Osprey. they were circling her home. a custom Boeing V22 Osprey that she'd had for years. were standing. and their guns were all leveled at her. piercing the side of her Osprey an instant before turning it into a fireball. Her voice didn't have time to communicate the murderous thoughts she was experiencing..The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD She closed her eyes and tried to force out the sound. Like hornets swarming about a nest. "Oh . but she still heard the helicopters. Then she awoke and opened her eyes . Pat's eyes followed the sound of a single helicopter below to the support area for her cherished airplane." "I figured she wouldn't. And now she noticed . 'Turn the other cheek'.. Still sitting on the terrace. * * * Far below the mesa. "NO!" she screamed. and barely made out the form of a man leaning out of the doorway. As most of the bees flew away. Her good eye fixed on the rogue helicopter as it hovered over the water. Anyone who dared investigate was forced back into their homes. She spun around. "Have her taken to the central plaza! We'll be waiting for her! Let's go!" * * * The villagers knew something was wrong when they witnessed armed soldiers everywhere. The door was now closed and the tether line that had kept him from falling out had been disconnected. "What?" she blurted as she got to her feet and pulled open the curtains. "The key locations have been seized. But it wouldn't go away. Savage. She kept watching until the updraft caused by the heat smashed into her and sent her falling onto her backside. however. and the team has Ms." Franklin sneered. and the co-pilot reported. she has offered no resistance.. four rappelling lines unfurled around her and four armed soldiers crunched next to her. too late and too far. They. Pat quickly donned a robe and rushed up to the terrace. he quoted Robert Duvall from Apocalypse Now: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning! It smells like victory!" The helicopter moved over the water. A helicopter passed by the top of the mesa. Daniel Franklin leaned back into the helicopter and set aside the weapon. The missile launcher sent its payload on a straight course.. crap!" she summarized. a familiar object in his arms.there were shadows passing across her windows from the outside. stopping abruptly at the edge and bracing herself against the stone wall.

my dear Patricia. Pat saw the helicopter . They looked at her but didn't acknowledge the gratitude. a pair of soldiers at his sides. "Don't shoot! He's just a child!" Her frantic cries made the proper impact on them.and several uniformed men nearby. Franklin smiled at her surprise. YEARS!" His eyes flared with anger as he bared his teeth at her. "Aren't you going to welcome me back?" "What are you doing here. completely oblivious of the possible consequences. put out her arms and yelled. but his stance looked somehow familiar. They had an army. Daniel'. "Aunt Patty! Aunt Patty!" The next instant was charged. he stood with his black-gloved fists resting on his hips." she said to them..had his back to her. She suddenly remembered the strange food poisoning that had incapacitated her security staff.higher rank. Kneeling. As they neared the central plaza... * * * Pat felt like Princess Leia being 'escorted' to Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader in the first Star Wars movie. "Thank you. the man turned to face her. And they all feared what would come next. and. quickly moving clear of the rotor blades. and knew that it had to have been connected to this. He had suddenly bolted out of his house and ran towards her. and declared triumphantly. "I have returned!" He then strutted around the plaza. like this old woman's going to try and make a break for it. She had armed guards behind and on either side of her. then stood and continued walking with her escorts. One man in a different uniform . she supposed . 94 . "Good morning.the same one that destroyed her Osprey . As she and the escorts stopped. Rifles started swinging around in reaction. but Pat stopped. a small boy no older than four. Pat let out a gasp. Franklin?" she asked bluntly. it looked like no one had been hurt. no 'how's life been treatin' you.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD explosion from the seaward side of the mesa was enough to show that these people were in control. and Franklin stepped onto the ground.. * * * The helicopter landed. she took the loving child into her arms. With as much brass as he could muster. for the moment. recovering from the initial shock. they raised the muzzles upwards and allowed the child to come to her." he crooned sarcastically. both by his own men and the inhabitants of his place. He knew he was being watched. and surveyed the area. unfortunately for her. "Why so formal. no 'how's things been in the Valley of the Vanished the last four .. Yeah. freaking . Daniel'. Pat? No 'how have you been. Suddenly she heard the sound of one of the children calling her name.. as everybody directed their attention to the source of the sound. Whoever was behind this was good .

. The look in her eyes was full of anger. drawing attention back to him. "I'll do what you say. can." "You know. She didn't move. Franklin seethed. Pat. Daniel? My. Franklin! I told you I'd do what you said! Why did you have to do this?" "Because . Billy and Trevor were under ten. and she sunk to the ground. "Please. but never kept her arms from gently holding the child. and fear gripped her heart." Pat answered without hesitation.. The air was charged as they struggled and screamed. "Thank God! She's still alive!" She looked up at Franklin and begged. they were not alone. She rocked with the impact. Well." His hand showed three fingers." Franklin said slowly and coldly. and rifles were pointed at each of the three kids. Franklin. Otherwise ." spoke Franklin. I give the word. "Then you'll do what I say.. I want revenge. they struggled but couldn't break free. have you?" she hissed. "You asked me what I wanted.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The child in Pat's arms turned his face away from the scary man and clung tightly to her. Franklin motioned.. "I was expecting a lot more spunk out of you." frowned Franklin. She looked up at Franklin with angry eyes.. and they die. but she only gave him a wry smile. Nevertheless. exactly as I say. you really disappoint me. and the three were held separately by burly soldiers. They were grouped together with a circle of soldiers.. the captain then drew three soldiers to his side and they fanned out. Daniel . You claim to be a Jesus freak like those rubes in the Valley. her face a mask of defiance.. Jade held protective arms around the two boys. "Has it been four years. breaking free and rushing to the girl's side. how time flies when you're having fun!" He suddenly stepped forward and delivered a sharp slap to her face. "Damn you. and Jade was in her teens... "Pat. He turned to Captain Sandoval and said something to him privately. setting the boy down while still holding onto his hand." Pat said. just in case you're wondering if I'm bluffing . "You haven't learned a thing in the last four years. and her mouth opened soundlessly. The soldiers holding her released their grip. her comforting hand lightly stroked his back. Pat checked the girl's life-signs. let me get her to the infirmary!" 95 . I ." "You don't have to threaten them. and a shot rang out! The teenaged girl's eyes went wide. Pat knew the three children. Pat returned a sardonic smile. ".if you have any shred of humanity left in you. Then this should be an easy question: would you be willing to die for one of these?" "Yes. Several minutes later they returned." He lifted his hand. and without hesitation. against you and Jillian Woodward. "JADE!" screamed Pat..

I'll see you later. the smile vanished and she turned back to Franklin. Suddenly.. She handed the small child across to them. the intercom light got his attention.. Yes! "Okay. who quickly directed his men to carefully pick up the girl and head for the infirmary." Pat was praying. Let's go to my office. I don't have a clue where she is .." "One thing. maybe two years. Put her through. "Yes." he responded. what do I do? I need to get a signal out for help.honest!" "You're resourceful . Go!" The three of them walked away.. each of them took a little hand. "Considering her life is in your hands. She knelt down and talked to them." "Really? Put her through. Pat stood as the small child came over to her and clung to her leg. Pat stood and gave them a smile when they looked back. "What do you want me to do?" "Get me Jillian Woodward. Trevor . "These men won't stop you. you have connections . not the private line.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Franklin paused. then said placidly.. I haven't seen her in . Glenda. the soldiers moved aside to let them through.. Then she looked over at the other two boys and beckoned them over.." Drake's eyes widened. "Really?" His hands instinctively moved over the command panel before him. you know where that is?" They both nodded." she said." she said evenly.. and he was thinking of calling it a day. find a way. okay?" she said in a soothing voice. "All right. sir ." 96 . but he's not equipped to deal with an army. Thank you.. I can't call Clark. "Okay. I accept!" He spoke to the uniformed man next to him. "I think I know how we can get ahold of her. And she sounded like she'd never called here before. once they were out of sight. she's calling on the public line. Then. She picked him up and held him a moment. God.. I need you to take Eric back to his house." * * * Mitch Drake was sitting in his Florida office. "Now you go . but not while Franklin and his goons are watching me. he's good. Glenda.." "How? Daniel. "Billy. "You've got a call from Pat Savage. It was just after midnight.. Then her eyes lit up.

" Drake concluded. and there were no other extensions in use." Drake played along.. I'll hold." "Two or three days?" Pat said with exaggerated tension. Is that possible?" "Okay.." he said bluntly. Do you really need to find Jill or is this part of getting a message to me?" "I didn't mind holding. I'm assuming it's a trap. Do you remember her?" Drake looked over at the screen. She was being overheard. it's midnight here. Nevada. His ears picked up the stress in her words." Pat was genuinely surprised." he said in a lower tone. There was a reply. hang in there . I'll get word to Jill.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD There was a brief click. "Pat. Drake. But he could. She's . In the meantime. help's on its way. Playing for time. "Are you being overheard by someone in the room?" "Yes. "Mitchell Drake speaking. We gave her a new identity. "I'm assuming you're in trouble there. We'll have satellites over the island soon. and couldn't speak freely. Yes. Drake. It could take a day. The island can use all the help it can find. he thought with admiration. I remember that. How can I help you?" "I'm sorry to disturb you at this hour. but do you know how soon you would be able to spare her?" "Well. Drake. Mr. Pat. thank you. Mr.. I'll try to get her there as soon as I can. I don't know if you remember me." he said formally. "Why. it's very important that I get ahold of Miss Woodward as soon as possible. "I need her here as soon as possible! I'm willing to wire you funds so that she can fly here. will Jill being there help hold things until we can get a rescue team to you?" 97 . We met at a fundraiser last June in Washington. Then Pat got back on." Pat sighed. Drake! I know it's a lot to ask." "Big trap." he commented. "Okay. thank you. "Mr. can't you spare her any sooner?" Good girl. "Okay. it's me." "Good girl. Pat. The display confirmed that she was using her office phone. but it's rather urgent that I locate a friend of mine who works for your company: a Miss Jillian Woodward. "Mr. Drake? Patricia Savage here. so we'll be able to tell what's going on. "She's what?" Then she covered up the receiver on the phone and repeated it to someone in the room with her.. "Thank you. Ms." she said in a cheerful tone. "Yes. I know where Jill is. but Mitch couldn't make it out. A few months ago she asked out of the business. Savage. Mr. especially nowadays. "Your contribution would be most generous. a lounge singer in Reno." "Okay.

Closing her eyes.and you can have your men escort me . "I see no reason why not. "I got the message. Satisfied . Can I call you if need be?" "What? What?" Pat frantically said into the receiver. then turned on her. Don't take your eyes off of her.. she took a deep breath. since we have several days to wait. Hang in there.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD She sighed." She relayed things to the person overhearing the conversation. sending her onto her backside." She was genuinely grateful. "Okay. Ramos. rubbing her jaw where he had connected. forgive me for what I'm getting Jill into. Yes. Daniel. Goodbye.. The men were assembled. "I'm sorry. "For the moment. "So help me. Now leave me alone!" Deuce gave him an irritated look and. a curious look on his face." Franklin didn't respond immediately.. If she can get to Athens." Franklin backhanded her. if you've gone soft .. So the phones were most likely under someone else's control.. walked away. "I tell you. though.. Mr." she said with a sigh of relief." The line disconnected. She opened up her eyes and turned to Franklin. Anyhow. I can have a helicopter bring her to the island." "Okay. I just want to know if she's alive. I'm back . Daniel?" Franklin nodded. Danny?" hissed Deuce. can I check on how Jade is doing? I give you my word. God. Pat. you never can tell with overseas communication. I won't try anything . moving alongside Franklin... I'll get word to you somehow. Captain Sandoval came over. she refused it. why is it that the old woman called you 'Daniel Franklin'?" 98 . I can hear you again. "You're breaking up! Can you repeat?" Drake's display said that there was clear reception. that would be fine. what was that? Yes. get three men and accompany her to the infirmary. "Very well. "Okay. it was a pleasure talking to you. Drake." he reassured her." "Thank you. She'll be here in a couple of days. standing on her own. "There is no cause to show my hand before the two of them are together. and she walked away with the guards around her. she'll be there. * * * Pat hung up the phone. You heard. she's tricky. "General Franks. "I have not gone soft on anyone!" He composed himself and offered her a hand up." "Now. thank you again. "Why are you trusting her.

how do we handle the people? My men can only stand guard for so long before they tire. Clark answered it. a jetcopter will be arriving at the heliport in just under a half hour to take us there! I came over here to tell you the news while Dot packs our bags. We will need to work with the old woman as well. "Mitch Drake just called!" I informed him.. "Continue. or will she resist?" "She will work with us. A few seconds later. "I see. I will make sure of it. but Pat was able to clue him in on the situation . "Oh. "Since we are going to live here with these people. And Mitch asked for us to get her and bring her back to the base in Florida." Sandoval nodded." Franklin raised an eyebrow." "How come he wanted us?" asked Bonnie.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "That is the name she knows me by. wearing a silk bathrobe." * * * I frantically knocked at the door of the blue geodesic dome. as long as they do not resist us." "He won't have any real details until the spysats check the place out. Will she work with us. but no shirt. Mitch also said we might have a better chance 99 . Be prepared. Perry. may I make a suggestion?" Franklin looked at him and nodded. "I like it. he wore sweatpants and sandals.." I paused to take a breath. she yawned and gave me a little wave. all their planes are grounded until the morning. "It is not my true name. "Perry! Is there something wrong?" he asked." "General.. yeah . she'll join us here. After several moments.. it may be wise to begin working with them now. Mitch has a jet waiting for us at Albany International.somebody's taken over the island!" I paused. Anyhow. concerned. come in!" he beckoned. As we walked into the living room. There is much to consider." "Of course. Bonnie came out of her bedroom. "Pat's in trouble!" "Quick. Since we are going to be here for a few days. "The base is right in the path of Hurricane Tomas. to set off one of the charges in case they need an example of what happens to those who do resist. as you know it. however. Let us make our presence known on this island." "I know. I informed him of the call between Pat and Mitch." he replied confidently. "Hi. Perry! What's up?" "Pat's in trouble. "One thing Pat had insisted on was it was imperative that Jill Woodward come to the island ASAP." summarized Clark. but allow them to carry on their daily duties .

clutching a backpack similar to Bonnie's. I'm ready!" she announced." I chuckled. He grabbed two leather bomber jackets. "There are probably a few prochoice extremists who would love to shut her down." "I'll be right back." "Indeed. Bonnie came out of her bedroom. and we traveled in silence to the helipad area. "Of course. it contained a change of clothes and my personal items." added Clark. but now said. tossing one to Bonnie. "Who'd want to take over Caroline Island?" asked Bonnie." "Who would have a grudge against both Pat and Jill?" Dot mused aloud. At this hour. "Okay. "W-what?" "Mitch said something about this being her choice for a new identity. We rose quickly into the air." "Makes sense. We were airborne within thirty seconds of boarding the jet. there was a rap on the door." commented Bonnie. "I'll be ready in five minutes!" The door shut behind her. The copter made a quick touchdown to let us out." I offered. so our jet was idling on a taxiway. I suspect there may be more to this than he's letting on. she snatched it out of the air and slung it over a shoulder as we headed out. The pilot of the jetcopter had radioed ahead. a leather backpack was slung over one shoulder. Dot came in and handed me an Eagle Creek shoulder bag I used for occasions like this." He turned and went into his bedroom. "Pat has told me that she's received threatening emails. now dressed in jeans and sweater. we boarded and strapped in. But I don't know if any of them would go beyond threats to actually take over the island.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD of bringing her back than anyone else he might send." "Wow!" She spun on her heel and sprinted for her room." Bonnie gave me a double-take. "Jill and I fought side-by-side. then immediately took off again. While I waited. speculating on the situation. "You knew we'd say yes. So where is she?" "Reno. After confirming our identities to the pilots. Clark hadn't commented during my narrative. there was no one using the sub-shuttle." I grinned. including select electronics. 100 . "And why on earth would they want Jill there?" "She's made a lot of enemies because of her pro-life stance. Dot!" Clark followed soon after. It also doesn't explain why Pat would want Jill. "Hi. We only had to wait a few minutes before the sleek jetcopter arrived. then headed south-southeast towards Albany International Airport. "She's a lounge singer.

"Franklin!" * * * Even though it was the middle of the night. The marquee proudly announced APPEARING NIGHTLY DELORES VAN ALLEN On either side of the doors was a life-sized picture of Jill Woodward in a daring outfit that none of us every believed she'd be caught dead in." announced a low male voice anticipatorily.not enough to keep the slot payers from their business . a shapely black leg appeared from the side curtain. 101 . Despite the fact that her hair was longer and swept up in a flattering beehive hairdo. A few minutes the lights dimmed . At the top of the bar. A brassy blonde waitress appeared and asked us for drink orders.and a pale pink spotlight illuminated an empty microphone stand on the stage. "I see it." mumbled Bonnie.. Then we all exclaimed as with one voice. It was a popular place." commented Clark under his breath. "This I gotta see. frozen with a microphone in her hand and her mouth half-opened in song. downtown Reno was full of activity. we're here to see Delores. and we maneuvered in that direction. she gave us an odd look at our order of soft drinks all around. Jill Woodward slithered out from behind the curtain. "I didn't know she could sing.." As we watched with amazement. and walked away. there's no one in the place .. Delores VanAllen!" An off-stage piano played the opening bars to a familiar Sinatra song as a few people clapped." commented Dot. exercising their arms on slot machines that seemed to be just about everywhere. The jet had landed at a nearby airpark with barely room to land. doll." the waitress whined.. stunned.. but I don't believe it. and a deep throaty voice began singing. Clark pointed to a table close to the stage. "Do you know when her act starts?" "Any minute. even at this hour there were people bustling about. except you and me ." informed Bonnie.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD We were all quiet for a moment. and we hustled into a waiting car." We walked through the doors of the casino and headed back through a haze of cigarette smoke towards the Moonlight Lounge. "The Moonlight Lounge proudly presents its reigning star . "Amazing." I added with admiration. She was dressed in a low-cut gown that screamed 'slinky'. "It's quarter to three . But there she was. "Wow!" muttered Bonnie... "She's good. "Ladies and gentlemen. A few minutes later we were standing in front of the Sandbox Casino. there was no mistaking the familiar face. and formal white gloves that covered most of her arms.. "Actually.

" answered Bonnie. then barrowed an unused chair from the table next to us and sat. "Can you get away?" "I guess I can. You got time for me to change clothes?" "I suppose. and it looks like the island's been taken over. "It's so good to see you! How'd you find me?" she asked with a beaming grin." she explained. too. "Who do you and Pat have in common. who might have a grudge against you?" Jill looked towards the stage for a moment. okay. After a minute she came back to our table. "Daniel Franklin. "We really need to leave. "I told him my grandmother was on her death bed. Mitch told us you were here.." she replied. She sang with a passion that all of us couldn't help admire." Mitch Drake voiced to a blonde female security guard. "Pat's in trouble. sir.. when she did. She didn't recognize us at first. this ain't the kind of place you four'd be caught dead in without some ulterior motive. "She wants you there as soon as possible." "Actually. 102 . "I thought that sorry piece of trash was lost in the jungle or something like that!" "He's supposed to be." "We wondered the same thing. however. "Yes. A few minutes later Bonnie saw her next to a slick-haired Latino man who stood off to one side. disregarding some of the less-than-attentive patrons. But why me? Pat and I haven't seen each other in years. great. Four songs later." she moaned." agreed Bonnie. and excused herself. Her face flushed with anger." "Oh." Bonnie nodded." "That's what we thought. She greeted each of us with generous embraces. smoking a thin cigarillo." "Okay. Lemme tell the owner of the club. then turned back to us with dismayed eyes.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Uh huh. "Let's go!" * * * "It's times like these that I miss the old base." added Clark." answered Clark." "Yeah ." She got up from the table and disappeared behind the stage." confessed Bonnie. she received a better-than-expected amount of applause from the audience. at the end of her set. "And don't you gimme some line about 'just being in the neighborhood'. she gave us a quick wave and a big smile without missing a beat. and gave several bows before replacing the microphone in the stand and heading for us. I'll be quick.

The wind had died down considerably over the last six hours. electronic camouflage did nothing to deter even the smallest of hurricanes . The other half was ultra-casual. it had been their main base of operations for over two decades. "DRAKE!" "Bravo-three-five is ten minutes out. its name changed to Husband Field. All around him." they reported. He stepped up to a metal door opposite where he came in. and taxied into a hangar with the ease of parking a car into a garage. with high-definition flatscreens curved in a great semi-circle around the command console.. exposed . and the elevator opened up. waved his ID over a sensor grid. Shortly after the name change. and the rain was consistent. We were quickly screened and provided with temporary IDs. Unfortunately. but it was still nasty. As he descended. here. he wiped his hand across his face and pulled up on the collar of his jacket. 103 . so Drake's paranoia was unfounded.. but he always felt so . there was no way they could be spied upon from the outside. Half of it resembled a high-tech playground. The communicator in his hand squawked for attention. there were leather-covered sofas and chairs. however.. crews cleaned up what they could of the night before. and given a new lease on life. I was amazed at how much this new office looked like his old one back in the Everglades. and was a test bed for new building and hangar construction. It was Clark's flight. Just being inside felt great. another stiff breeze blew rain into Mitch's face.so they got pounded just like everybody else on the Florida coast. and he had to raise his voice to be heard. It was the best of both worlds. it was more like a shelter for one of the elevators. Husband. bulldozing debris from the runways and checking the surface structures for damage. This base had originally been christened Braddock AFB. * * * The jet landed smoothly. and he shook the rain off his jacket before hanging it up on a rack on the wall. and floor lamps provided sufficient indirect lighting. He made a last look around on the surface and headed for a brick bunker. "GRANTED! CLEAR 'EM QUICK AND ESCORT THEM TO MY OFFICE!" "Acknowledged! Out!" Drake wiped the rain off the communicator and shoved it into his jacket pocket. and lay dormant until it was bought in late 2004. Deep below the Florida swamps. it was decided to relocate while the base underwent necessary reconstruction and upgrading.. Drake made a mental note to check on the progress of the Everglades base. the project was abandoned due to budget cuts. "Requesting landing clearance!" That cheered him up. The bunker wasn't large. to be certain.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD As she did. then escorted down into the base and taken to Drake's office. as if it were someone's sitting room. They now had an umbrella of electronic camouflage and the most advanced defenses available. This new base had its advantages. Following the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster it was renamed Husband AFB in memory of Mission Commander Rick D. But when it started taking in water due to a series of small subterranean tremors early last year.

"My techs are working on separating any sounds in the background. What was being said in the background could be clearly heard. "I must call the Valley." We heard the conversation again. and we keep coming back to Daniel Franklin. "Pat's in trouble?" Drake's smile vanished. entering in the frequency. you two did a good job of stalling. greeting her with a deliberately-subdued hug and a kiss on the cheek. I'll see that you get a good table. standing and taking a couple of steps towards them. "This is not good. the rest of us kept an eye on Jill and prayed." "Yeah. hey. But. we should have something soon. "He could not do it without assistance. Jill uttered a low profanity." "And as far as we know. May I use your short wave?" "Certainly. Remember him?" Drake nodded. "I will find out. We all heard the urgency in Pat's voice. "Thanks for coming. it should give me plenty of time to get ready to go to the island." she proudly informed him. moving closer towards Drake. How's the act?" "Two shows nightly. You ought to come and see me.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Drake approached Jill first." added Bonnie. he's still there. Jill. "How did he get outta there?" she asked Clark. moving towards Drake's desk." Clark spoke up. but a beep came from Drake's digital tablet. "Yes?" "Norris." Then her expression sobered. While they were establishing the connection with the Valley." agreed Jill. "He was exiled to the Valley of the Vanished." said Clark. "Pat called me around midnight. "Psycho." the bronze man replied calmly. Unfortunately." "I'll give you odds that Deuce is in it with him. and overhead speakers played back the call with amazing clarity." He tapped on the tablet. I'd like to make sure. He grabbed a digital tablet from his desk and sat next to Jill on a couch. but Pat and Drake's voices were heavily muffled. it's a trap. He stopped and responded to it." They stood and started towards the control desk. "Jill. however." "Let's hear it. "Three on weekends." Drake placed his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes." 104 . sir! We've isolated the background sounds from that recording. "We were speculating on who might have a grudge against both Jill and Pat. and he motioned for us to be seated in the living room area.

"No. yes . "Babe.. They found his bloodied cloak on some rocks below a cliff. I will. There had been more than a few late evenings where the two men would spend hours talking. He is missing and presumed dead. though .a time of prayer and fasting." "How long ago was this?" "Several weeks. "I'm sorry to say he is not." There was a long silent pause on the other end." he grinned. moving her face in close to his. Be well." * * * One of the changes that King Mordecai had allowed in the Valley of the Vanished had been the addition of a second short wave radio." Their eyes met and their hearts touched for the first time in years. "What do I owe the honor of this call?" "Is Daniel Franklin still in the Valley?" There was a pause. baby. "Don't you think that's awfully coincidental?" "Why." She kissed the end of his nose and gave him a grin. "Mitch. "Let me call you back in a few minutes.. had the honor of being located in the king's own bedroom. you'll swing in like Mister John Shaft himself. Let me think . "In the meantime. I guess I didn't." "I don't know how that's possible! The last we saw of him was several weeks ago. I know you." 105 . "You didn't actually expect me not to go. when he did not return when he had promised. then slowly shook his head. Monja. She gave him a reassuring smile. then said.." She kissed him. "Clark!" greeted Mordecai... It was what the outsiders called a 'hotline'. whether it was about Scripture or just reminiscing about the woman whom they both loved dearly. It was around the time of the last gold shipment. did ya?" He paused." she said tenderly. That slimeball's holding the whole blasted island hostage. "But look at the alternative." Clark hesitated.. However. and personally kick Franklin's sorry butt all the way back to the Valley of the Vanished. and had gone into the foothills on a retreat . yes. to myself and to the elders. allowing Doc Savage and King Mordecai freedom to speak directly and privately. I have to go. How did you know?" "I have just listened to a recording made less than 12 hours ago. I sent men to look for him. keep your head down. Daniel Franklin's voice could be heard clearly in the background. "I will. He had at last become a Christian." "Darn straight. He appeared to be quite sincere. it is. This radio.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "You don't think I know that?" she replied tenderly. Before it gets intense over there." "I will be here. under a different frequency as the one monitored by faithful John Blue Corn.

When Franklin returned. "The leader of the gold train." "Thank you. alone. he told us all that there had been an accident. "Yes.and even two girls from this village who fell into his trap. serpent! Several weeks ago. but brilliant." * * * When King Mordecai called back. I have cut off his supply line. after what appeared to be months of exemplary behavior. "This is all on my head ." "Is there anything we can do to make up for this tragedy?" "Pray." "Be well." Mordecai sighed." There was renewed vigor in his voice." He let out a mournful groan. "What's our next move?" 106 . and that his near-escape had convinced him of his need for Jesus Christ." "Okay. "He used your money to fund his army?" exclaimed Bonnie. "Brilliant. King Mordecai." "Be at ease. this one to Hidalgo. "Be well. King Mordecai.. he knew the rest of the story. with him. "Do not allow condemnation to get the best of you." Clark made another call. Now I see how he lied to us all. incredulously. In this I believe he speaks the truth." "Franklin escaped." "All of the gold was delivered?" "Yes. as arranged. Franklin took advantage of this." reassured Clark." commented Clark. and extorted him into taking himself. a man I have trusted for years. Franklin and the woman Deuce went walking in the hills.who was not dead after all ." Mordecai sighed. Gilbert. "Diabolical. King Mordecai.. "The leader of the gold train said that they remained behind after the gold was delivered. "Clark. After a few minutes speaking to Mr. his tone was grave." He sighed. my brother. We will fast and pray for you until this is resolved.I have sinned against you and against God. "I'm afraid we have all be deceived by this ." said Jill." "I will inform my people. "This doesn't look good. fell to the desires of the flesh. I am truly sorry. the woman Deuce ." Clark looked at the others. and all you were trying to do was show him love. that the woman had been killed.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Be well." concluded the bronze man. Love believes all things.

Buildings became identifiable. and we recognized the twisted wreckage of the Osprey. as he continued to interpret the rolling display." directed Drake using a laser pointer. Then it repeated ." reported Clark. and the camera located a small object near the central plaza. ". As we got closer. even if the conversation was minimal.." announced a technician. then informed us. it would pause where it was and the image would sharpen.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Reconnaissance. then focusing. "Then let me escort you to the cafeteria for some breakfast. But the walls were covered with immense high-definition viewscreens. dropping. "Over there ." Bonnie groaned. As the view moved off the edge of the island. "Ooh.. In the meantime. The food was great. Drake appeared not to hear her. "This is not good . "Beginning the pass over the island..trying to isolate!" There was a flurry of activity on the floor. "It's a baby nuke. then. and continued to do so until there were no identifiable 107 ." We took him up on his offer of hospitality." replied Mitch. We were still tired. "I'm picking up concentrated radiation readings .." "Bring us in. Drake uttered a profanity. the helipad. especially when a display scrolled up the bottom third of the screen with details. this was a serious matter." instructed Drake from a command chair. have any of you slept?" "We tried to catch a catnap on the return flight. I didn't see why it was causing so much attention. "We've got satellites heading for the area. That'll tell us the strength of his forces. they were presently showing an orbital view of the Mediterranean area. But to the others." "Sir!" one of the techs suddenly spoke up. "Recorders are on." "A bomb?" asked Bonnie. "That was her favorite. * * * The Command Center was impressive enough with its rows of male and female technicians in white jumpsuits. The view suddenly appeared to be in free-fall. but the food helped. They should be passing over within -" He checked his tablet.dropping. Crowds of people formed into squads of uniformed troops." announced a technician. details on the island became clearer. then focusing. A digital readout in one corner of the display showed the estimated altitude. We saw a freighter at the docks that looked out of place. I'll have temporary quarters issued. The image shifted and became closer.just under two hours. not good. looking at him. someone pulled back on the image. without warning." "Moving out of surveillance range.

or the news media. and a hostage situation on the island. We . "Like Buck Rogers?" "Yes. It hinges on being able to reach Caroline Island quickly without alerting the enemy . He pulled up a map of the world on the wall-sized screen behind him.. The room became very quiet. "In the aftermath of 9/11. "What I have here is a framework based on certain factors that'll change as we get more information. we'll leave from here by jet to a private air strip on the coast of Greece. then zoomed in to offer a detailed view of the destination. but pray we'll be ready for if it does happen. controversial statements against the Pro-Choice Movement.." So he did. we have a plan. but none of you are obligated to participate in this mission. "We have a plan. I felt it necessary to prepare for the possibility that someone who didn't like what she had to say would try to strike out against her or against Caroline Island. "I'm sure you all recognize the phrase Worst-Case Scenario. "Conference room!" he said. pull up next to the dock and deploy the Strike Bikes. Team Beta will fly high over the island in a helicopter. The black man rose from his command chair.." answered Drake. "Sunni's electromagnetic pulse generator?" "Precisely.superfirers.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD landmarks to be seen.. hold their position. including two commercial cargo hovercrafts and several armored motorcycles called Strike Bikes.. "At the appropriate time. "The attack will be two-pronged. and looked at us. another technician announced that it would be just under five hours until the next satellite pass over the island." He paused. and indicated a couple of dark brown file folders." "EMPG?" asked Dot. "Among the scenarios we came up with were a possible terrorist attack directly on the island. sub-contract . Our response is codenamed Swan Lake. * * * The six of us sat around a large oval metal-and-vinyl table." The expressions on all our faces said "Get on with it. Clark . It's what we fear the most. his face a mask of intensity. Even though we're just starting to find out about this. while Drake stood a moment before addressing us. Team Alpha will approach the island in the hovercraft. They'll offer air support using you'll appreciate this. Now I know this may be a moot point. As the screen changed to another image. Also. we'll probably have a specialized team who will disarm the baby nuke using a Bradshaw EMPG. Perry. and is thirty minutes away from Caroline Island by water. most everybody was looking at Drake for directions. then deploy troops equipped with rocket packs." Drake grinned. flabbergasted. in light of these latest developments." The display drew a red line from Florida to Greece. "The airstrip here belongs to businessman Nikolas Vassilicos.. from him. we have sufficient trained manpower already. and in light of Pat's more . At the same time." "Did you say rocket packs?" I commented. 108 . and he has several items essential to our plans. "They'll be divided into specialized teams.

my men came across a CD holder under one of the seats. We now have an EMP generator with a range of over half a mile with laser accuracy!" Drake cleared his throat and returned to the topic. so you can begin training. completely forgot it existed. we'll follow up in the jet. It wouldn't be a surprise for it to be cruising the waters around the island . Thanks.. "You recall.and that's what we'd need for this situation ." concluded Drake. Any questions?" 109 . "Remember. but we kept running into a snag. Jill. I was planning on upgrading some of the systems. "Of course! Now I know!" I started laughing. it's a familiar sight to the people around there. The case must've slipped under the seat. "Sunni destroyed all information on her invention years ago!" "Apparently not all. if you choose to." replied Drake. decide which team you want to be a part of." There was an uncomfortable silence. stay there overnight." He paused. and take a charter helicopter to Caroline Island Wednesday morning. Dot and I took Sunni over to her place to pick up a few things. "That makes sense. then explained. and they brought them to my attention. Bradshaw's invention overcame that snag. then elaborated." asked Bonnie. If everything goes smoothly. and surface right under their noses. However. I didn't check it out. and in the excitement of the moment.in range of Caroline Island for an unspecified time isn't very practical. none of you are obligated to be part of this. I felt that God wanted me to take a CD case. Having a special sub . During the initial cleaning. "Isn't a hovercraft kind of obvious." Bonnie nodded. "No. "Anyhow. On the other hand." "You said it was under one of the seats?" I suddenly asked. Once you're there and can report back. and contained backup copies of the plans. we'll be able to find out where it came from. "My R&D people had been working on an EMP generator of our own for years. once the action's over. I wandered around the laboratory. especially if you're trying to sneak up on the island? What about a submarine? You could sail through. we'll hit the island Thursday night. it's not the type of thing we hoped would happen. and spaced it off. this is a worse-case scenario." "Like I said earlier.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "How is that possible?" Clark said. it won't arouse suspicion. you turned over Goliath to me while you two were on your road trip. but just tossed it into the back of the Diamond. "Are you telling me you didn't know it was there?" Clark shook his head. we'll take it apart and get it out of there. I just assumed you were aware of it being there. Ms." answered Drake. we'll have a team of specialists drop in and put the nuke out of commission." "Mitch. then Drake apologized. Vassilicos uses cargo hovercraft on a regular basis. Hopefully." "And we found it. "We found a CD case in the back of your car that contained a set of backup disks." "Availability. While Dot was helping Sunni pack some things in her bedroom. you'll fly to Athens on Tuesday afternoon. "It was the morning after we'd rescued Sunni from the bikers. "Forgive me for not saying something about it sooner." His expression changed to one of embarrassment. The CD's had Braille labels.. Drake nodded.

and. almost cherubic." Now it was Drake's turn to look surprised. you two oughta get married. his expression was like flint.. I was too involved in my work. Mitch." * * * Clark and Drake were alone in the conference room. gave an smart salute that came from years of practice.. Let me call the rest of the team. But you and Bonnie are different. there won't be a lot of time for them to train. We are. haven't you?" "It's part of the job. "You are? When?" "No date yet." he elaborated. And we really haven't announced it." Drake sat on the corner of the table. but it never worked out . I'd like to call in the others. face. But understand. with balding brown hair and a round. 110 . Please include them. "So. I know you've got troops for this operation." Drake's expression softened. Drake! Sir!" The man behind the voice was in his late 40's.. secrecy is my business! I'm just thrilled for both of you!" Mitch suddenly sprung forward and engulfed Clark in an exuberant bear hug.. Jill and I tried to make a go of it once. "Speaking of which. but . it's about family. and I know they'd want to be a part of it." Clark was silent for a few moments. how are you two doing?" "What do you mean?" "You two: you and Bonnie.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD We exchanged silent glances around the table. Mitch. Then his lips formed a smile. although I can't speak for the others I believe Bonnie will be joining me. "Clark. "Mitch. "Thank you. you make a good team. "Then this meeting is over. but ." concluded Drake with a half-smile. so I'd prefer it if you'd keep it quiet until we make it public." "Hey." Drake nodded. He wore camouflage BDU's instead of the standard-base-issue colored jumpsuit. But you can't expect her to always be there." He smiled. "Mr. Clark hugged back. "Okay. Far be it from me to try to tell you how to live your life. "I understand. which team have you chosen?" "I prefer the familiarity of the Strike Bikes. "Do you have any plans for tying the knot?" Clark flashed him a surprised look. upon being acknowledged by Drake. okay?" The men separated an instant before the door to the conference room hissed open and a crisp voice said. "Thanks. and I don't blame you.. And.. You have the same goals. I suppose. "You've got a lot of nerve. This one's personal.

"I just finished speaking with Mr. and a Chinook CH-47 helicopter are all on-site and waiting for us." acknowledged Drake. The quarters were equipped with double beds." "Later.. "Can you blame me?" I returned with a smile. Let's do it!" * * * "Blazes!" exclaimed Monk Mayfair via long distance. Vassilicos. "No. * * * Dot and I opened the packs we'd brought from CSI." she joked back. beckoning him in with a wave of the hand. he'll be leading Team Alpha. Ray. Clark left the two men in the conference room. Ray. "I'll talk to you soon.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Good timing. "I have to make a few calls . but they're being recalled even now. sir?" "Yes. "I'm a Superman fan from way back. he assured me that we'll have a full support crew." he informed." I admitted. Good to meet you. "And Team Beta?" "I spoke to Major Parker about an hour ago. "He reported that everything was going fine. this is Clark Dent. a pleasure. He reports that the hovercraft. "Will you be joining us." He turned to Clark. They'll get a final examination over the next few hours." "Excellent. "A most genuine pleasure to meet you at last. and he reached out a hand." answered Clark." added Bixby.. "It'll be an honor fighting at your side! Will there be more joining you?" "I'm not sure yet. This is the man." She smiled at me with understanding. And it does sound like fun. I figured they didn't deal with married couples a lot. Ray?" asked Drake informally. "Clark. "So what'cha got. and will be ready for immediate deployment as soon as we arrive. this is Major Raymond Louis Bixby. "I want to be part of Team Beta." replied Clark. "You bet I wanna be part of it! Yeah! Okay! You do that ." said Mitch. and that his people would be ready." He shook Bixby's hand. He has several men presently on leave. the ground forces. shaking the hand. "You just want to play with the rocket packs." replied Drake." Bixby's face broke into a beaming smile. Mitch. if you will excuse me." Clark answered. Major. Strike Bikes. sir!" "You're quite welcome. "Again. He beamed another wide grin.I'll call Gumball! Talk to you in a few!" 111 . I can't blame you.

the less I had a peace about it. sugah. Renny. it's family. * * * "I thought you were going to be part of Team Alpha with me. which made the Osprey's landing considerably easier. Andy?" "Pat's in trouble! Remember that bozo Franklin?" She nodded. He felt a wave of sentiment at seeing Monk. Renny. you know me well. so did I. and he's askin' to put the team together again. "He somehow got outta the Valley and now he's taken over Caroline Island! He's got an army backin' him up." "Try stoppin' us. Clark said. But the more I thought about it.. "What kinda training we talkin' about?" "Follow me! Mitch'll brief you!" * * * Drake went over the plans again. Perry." He reached for the phone and hit the speed dial." 112 ." commented Renny." quipped Monk. She shrugged. "Anyhow. you don't have to explain it to me. Clark waved a greeting as the door opened and the steps were lowered. "What is it. Clark." He briefly hesitated. Monk. I don't understand it all." She gave him a patient smile. "Just be careful . "Babe. Sorry.. and Bonnie chose to be part of Team Beta." "Always did like him. Amy. Clark's with Drake! They're gonna go after her. "Ah. and Johnny chose to be part of Team Alpha. "Yeah." Clark asked Bonnie afterward. "I'm glad you could all make it. Any news?" "No. but I think God wants me to be on Team Beta. and Gumball. "Andy. It's Pat . as careful as you can be. and enough men to do the job. Dot. that is. thanks for bringin' us in on this.. please don't ask me to say no. but he agreed to include us in on it. After the hugs and handshakes. there was compassion in his eyes. Mitch has a plan for getting us in and rescuing them." Monk kissed her.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Lea Mayfair had rushed to her husband's side at the first sound of trouble. updating their progress in light of a true count of their forces. * * * CHAPTER FIFTEEN The weather was improving. ahem." she replied. my!" "Anyhow. and Johnny disembark together. f'God's sake!" "Oh. with Gumball and Amy a couple of steps behind..

The children had been confined to their dorm barracks." His voice lowered a bit as he looked into her eyes. The streets were deserted save for the soldiers. they were escorted to the mess hall 113 . After a moment he smiled." "Okay.. But d'you think you can break away from your work long enough to make a relationship work?" "I don't know. with us. Señor Franks!" * * * Jill shifted the bag on her shoulder as she and Mitch walked to the small jet that would take her to Athens. just to be on the safe side. PAT STOP COULDN'T GET AHOLD OF YOU BY PHONE SO SENDING TELEGRAM STOP HOPE YOU GET MESSAGE STOP ON MY WAY STOP ARRIVE ATHENS TUESDAY PM STOP CHARTER HELICOPTER WEDNESDAY AM STOP GET PHONES WORKING STOP TELEGRAMS AREN'T CHEAP STOP LOVE JILL END MESSAGE Franklin crushed the message in his hand and grinned. Our man Stavros will meet you at the airport and take you to our office in Athens.. maybe go a little slower this time." * * * "Señor Franks!" "What is it." She smiled and kissed him." "Jill. and she climbed aboard the jet. for now. "Okay. Salvador?" "We have received a communication from Miss Woodward. But I can try. "All right.. I'll settle for that . I truly don't know. What do you say?" She smiled. use a metal detector. * * * Martial law was in effect on Caroline Island. "Good! Make sure we have a reception for her when she arrives! Search her thoroughly." she nodded." "You. Wouldn't want her smuggling a weapon in. "That slimeball won't suspect a thing. When they had to be fed. you know.. "I will admit." Franklin moved in and took the piece of paper from his hand. would we?" "No. They'll equip you on that end before you head to the island. I hope we can try again . babe. "I know I screwed things up . After all who am I to argue with God? Just be careful. "Talk to you later." They hugged and kissed again.. I've missed you." "Sounds good.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Clark looked at her.. too.

"General Franks would like to see you! Follow me!" Pat looked at the other girls. Cunningham's got her in a sedation-coma so her body can heal. Some of the children saw it as a game and enjoyed 'playing army'. Dr. Three teenagers practically mobbed her as she came in the door. "I'll be right back. "When I was your age I was more rebellious than the three of you combined. It was enough that I was able to get to see her. "No. but now is not the time.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD and back by a corridor of armed men. nobody else is going to get hurt. I probably hold the world's record for going off half-cocked!" The girls giggled in spite of themselves.. Pat shook her head. "Pat!" he greeted. others quietly defiant.. and my cousin will be swooping in here before you know it to rescue us. "Jill's on her way. offering hope for a quick rescue. he announced. "She's alive." "We ought to rush 'em!" blurted another of the girls. "It won't do Jade any good for you to react in this way . "Pooh! Lizzy! Stop it this instant!" barked Pat.. and those who had seen the oppression in their own home countries. but she'll be okay.. and I can show you the scars I've gotten in the process. Pat returned to the barracks where she and some of the older girls were prisoners. holding up a piece of paper. God knows I want to do something also . The older ones. But there were a few who could move unseen between the buildings.." The girls gave off with a simultaneous sigh of relief. Word has gone out." "Señorita Savage!" They turned to see a soldier at the door. I'm sorry. it's not. Without waiting for her to say anything. "How is she? How is she?" they asked excitedly. She held up her hands for silence.. "This is not the time do something rash!" "That's not what you used to do!" commented Pooh. okay?" They nodded back weakly. coming between them and putting her arms around their shoulders. some were afraid. knew better. you're right . and should be here tomorrow. "Girls. it looks like she'll be laid up for awhile. passing messages back and forth. "Yeah! I don't think these soldiers are as tough as they look!" said the other. Stay frosty. "Is there any chance we can see her?" asked one sandy-haired girl. and the tension was diffused. you can't. Communications between barracks were nonexistent. Everybody is going to make it through this okay." 114 . Jodie." she replied. Pat turned and followed the soldier to the quarters Franklin was using for his command room. "No." she looked at each of them.

"Pat? Pat? Hey. "I don't either." "Anytime. swinging the sling over her shoulder.. She latched the door and. She didn't see anyone. But Franklin wasn't listening. "And thanks for the ride.. so she just did as she was told and prayed for a miracle. ma'am. "I also don't see any sign of people either. Here we go ." Jill said half-absently. where is everybody?" 115 . Then she turned and stepped down... If I see anything coming my way. ducking to avoid the rotors. "There's the island. Jill could make out the distinct mesa formation." The helicopter circled once around the mesa. revenge from Herodias and Solomon . And be aware.. Jill thanked the pilot and stepped out on the landing skid. She turned and gave Bobby a wave as he lifted off and away. Usually there'd be crowds of kids fascinated with the helicopter . I'll confuse them with ECM and avoid them like the plague! Anyhow.." "You're ." commented Bobby. * * * The pilot pointed to the dot of land ahead of them." added Jill. "Now remember. as soon as I'm clear. get out of here. here we go . Even from that distance. right... Ready?" "As ready as I'll ever be." "I know. that Bible of yours contains a veritable who's who of crooks. "I don't see any signs of trouble. "Now that would be telling..The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "So what do you have planned for us?" He gave her a wry smile. and from the Bible they so treasured! I learned about deceit from Jacob and Laban. " The helicopter hovered briefly over the helipad. He had turned his back on her.. they have shoulder-fired missiles. so called out. but there isn't. moved to the edge of the helipad." After a moment. she said. and thieves!" "All people who's lives were changed by God!" Pat pleaded. and waved his hand to instruct the guard to return her to her barracks. and that's just for starters. "Didn't you learn anything from the Christians in the Valley of the Vanished?" Franklin's face took on a pained expression." agreed Bobby. killers. murder from Kings David and Herod. Bobby. Pat knew it was useless to say anything more. Why. "But of course I learned something from them. then settled nicely within the circle. That's not good. She reached behind the seats and pulled out her bag.

" warned the one with the pistol. then using a portable metal detector wand. She nodded. "Pat. and one had a pistol. he was trying to surprise her. one man went through her bag and examined it. three uniformed men came out of a checkpoint building and pointed their weapons at her. including a ziplock bag containing her personal items.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD As if on cue. Jill was placed next to Pat. "Please do not move. Pooh.. you ugly piece of filth . first by a standard frisk. the three men guffawed among themselves as they checked out her lingerie. and ordered her to follow them. "But he had Jade shot." It was the look in his eyes rather than the tone of his words that made Jill comply. While they covered her with their weapons. "Jill. "What?" she exclaimed. so Jill pretended like she was. the girls had been in a bad situation. As Franklin spoke to a couple of men near him. "No. she's in the infirmary. She didn't see any of the kids or the natives." Her expression showed her additional regret. "Who are you guys?" "We are going to search you. Satisfied that she was clean. Señorita. and she returned it." Pat hesitated. "You will please cooperate with us." greeted Jill with a half-smile. She slowly raised her arms at her sides and let them check her out. Soldiers came out of hiding. to the last. "Or we will shoot!" "What in the name of Pancho Villa is going on here?" asked Jill. two of them had rifles. Jade." Jill tensed. hands on hips. Then Franklin stepped out from behind another man.what rock did you slither out from under?" "Charming . she guessed. But she did see Pat.. She was surrounded by armed men and looked weary. they reported it back to Franklin. "Excuse me!" she coughed offendedly. "Did this dirtbag hurt'cha?" she asked. her expression defiant." he commented with a wry smile. Lizzy. and Jill had given them the first real family in their lives. Glad you got my message. "Daniel Franklin." said the one with the pistol. They escorted her into the village. 116 . they finished going through her bag. "Do you mind?" Their revelry interrupted. and Jodie all served under her in APEX. Jill gave her an easy wave and a smile.

" Pat and Jill started to move back. or worse. And that's what you are to me . It was a park-like location with a marble fountain spraying slender streams around the base of a large ornate cross. Then they waited. and difficulty in swallowing.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "She's still alive. and you'll die. blurred vision." Franklin gestured to some men. Franklin gloated. "You're fired!" Then he shot from the hip.. and ran into a wall of soldiers who seized them by the arms and held them immobile. these aren't meant to put you to sleep . used extensively in colonial America to deal with troublemakers.. Two." he explained. his hands behind his back like a kid hiding his new toys. In olden times. And I'm going to be there to watch it. generalized weakness. "You might last for . However. I wasn't. "Ha! You sick piece of trash! You were bluffing!" "No. actually. unable to hide their face." He paused to let that sink in." Franklin coldly replied. The pillory was tall enough that they didn't have to bow in order to fit into it. Then he brought them out. A rather simple device." added Pat. and Pat and Jill were forced into them. "Four years ago the two of you used something like them on me before having me kidnapped. You've just been given a hefty dose of botulism. who produced a macabre device. ladies!" With Franklin in the lead. This way.. the windows were filled with children. The ladies quickly pulled out the darts and threw them down to the ground. twelve hours before you start showing symmetrical descending paralysis.... hitting them both. rotten food .. The hinged top section was closed so that only their hands and head stuck through. and Pat and Jill saw that his hands held twin tranquilizer dart guns. But it was uncomfortable... the troublemaker would be placed in this. The central plaza could also be seen from many of the dormitory-like barracks. I've been told that the initial symptoms are drooping eyelids." 117 . Franklin gave them an evil grin and simply said. young and old. dizziness. "I thought this was a most fitting way for the two of you to spend your final hours. It's a pillory.. The guards held them fast a moment longer before releasing them. four seconds passed before Jill said defiantly. they walked to the central plaza. troublemakers. three. "I'm sure you recognize these. while the people jeered and threw things at them . they're meant to put you to death. dry mouth and throat. and they couldn't move. Eventually your lungs will simply stop working. Jill breathed a little easier. The pillories were staked securely into the ground. Franklin stood before them again. slurred speech. "And it's the two of you who will soon be sick. "I'm sure you recognize this.

Itch-may gave me an ire-way so we can end-say him an essage-may.... Then she remembered her 'Pig Latin' and her lips broke into a grin. "I'm okay." He smiled. continuing his morbid narrative. Anklin-fray wants to awtch-way us eye-day. Now that's entertainment!" "Keep it up. Two guards were posted to keep others from getting close to the women. some nachos . Good weather. but it was impossible for her to reach. well." whispered Pat. they'd choke to death. you sly dog .. "Mitch. "Okay... a couple of ice cold beers. didn't matter. "I hope they're telling me the truth. "I thought I'd work on my tan for awhile. as if enjoying a private joke. "Too bad this uff-stay's not untagious-kay.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD He walked around them.and count the hours until you both breathe your last. but prayed silently instead.you know." She sighed. * * * "Hey! Hey." she muttered. we've gotta get alone!" "Why?" "I'm ired-way. even days. "And you'll bore us to death before the botulism kills us!" Franklin gave them both a sour look. "Pat! Pat! You okay?" "Just ducky. I'd give that bozo an ench-fray iss-kay and take him with us. Jill tried wiping the spittle from her face." "What?" "Ired-way. And you?" Jill chuckled in spite of herself." came the strained sarcasm. so they've got to oovemay us. Then he moved in close and very deliberately spat in their faces.." Pat didn't understand her talk at first." "And that's not oying-gay to be easy. People watching them gasped at the affront. "I might just set up a lounge chair right here . "The offender would have to stand in that position for hours. Pat. Then he laughed. Franklin!" shot back Jill.. with the same response. 118 ." "Who says we're not untagious-kay?" muttered Pat with a tilt in her voice. you! Como esta englais?" The guard responded to Jill's basic Spanish by looking at her suspiciously and shaking his head. Franklin stood up and walked away. Pat didn't even try. bad weather. She asked the question of the other guard. They had to rest any way they could. "I'm wearing an ansmitter-tray. wouldn't you say?" His tone was almost conversational. however. We can't ayking-bray outta here ." she repeated. if their legs went out on them . "It was a very humiliating way to pass the time . ever so much more efficient than the Island of Shame.

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD

"Because he hit us with the oxin-tay directly, so it can't be transmitted erson-pay to erson-pay." "You know that, and I know that, but I wonder if we can convince Don Juan that we're untagious-kay?" "Yeah, but all he'd have to do is keep his istance-day from us and he'd be just ine-fay. Still not enough otive-may to move the two of us." "Lemme think about that." She paused, then asked, "Pat ... your usin-kay ever teach you ipnotism-hay?" "Sure." "Excellent! How'd you like to unvince-kay one of these ards-gay that they've got what we've got?" "Jill, you're positively evious-day." "Thank you. So which of these oons-gay can we ap-zay?" "The first one God brings over," said Pat without hesitation. "Let Him open the doors He wants opened, and close the door He wants closed." "I'm ame-gay. Hey, we're ed-day anyhow ... let's go for oke-bray!" * * *

A couple of hours passed without anyone approaching. People watched from the sidelines, but didn't dare get closer. The men guarding Pat and Jill began wandering about in a circle, unable to keep still; their orbit varied from a few feet to a few yards. Then one man brought over a plastic water bottle and a straw. "General Franks does not want you to die of dehydration. Drink." "How magnanimous of him," quipped Jill. "Wait a minute! Who did you say? Franks? You mean Franklin? And you made him a General?" "I don't know this Franklin you speak of, but our leader is General Franks. And he ordered me to supply you with water. Will you drink?" "Yeah ... sure," she agreed, and took a sip. Then the guard took the glass over to Pat. Her face was contorted as she blinked furiously. She did not respond when the bottle was placed before her face. "Is there something wrong?" the man asked. "Yes, there is! I've got something in my eye! And since I can't reach it, it's very irritating! Can you help me?" "What can I do?" "Can you look in my eye and see what is in it?" she asked.

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The guard looked Pat in the eyes. "I see nothing." Her voice turned into a monotone. "Look closer ... closer ... see the gold of my eyes ... isn't it pretty?" His voice began to falter. "Yes." "Look at the gold swirling. Can you see it?" His voice was dreamy. "Y-yes." "It's so warm and comfortable here. Aren't you getting sleepy? Sure you are. Can you hear me?" "Y-yes." "Good. All you can hear is the sound of my voice. You will listen to me and do what I tell you to do. Do you understand?" "Yes, I understand." "Good. Within the hour you will start feeling very sick." She listed off the symptoms Franklin had told them. "You will believe you contracted something by being so close to us. You will tell General Franks that you've contracted what we have - do you understand?" "I understand." "Good. Now, when I count to three, you will wake up as if nothing has happened. Do you understand?" "Yes, I understand." "One ... two ... three." The man blinked a couple of times, then went back to normal. "There is nothing in your eye." "I guess I was mistaken. Thank you anyway." "You're welcome. Water?" "Yes, thank you." She sipped from the bottle. "Thank you again." He straightened up and walked away as if nothing had happened. "I do so love a professional at work," said Jill with a grin. "Let's just hope he's convincing enough," returned Pat. * * *

"Pat? You see'em?" "Yeah. And they don't look too pleased at us."

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Franklin and another man stopped at the two guards, spoke briefly to them, then continued to the pillory. "What did you do to him?" said Franklin. Jill coughed. "What are you babbling about now, Danny? Aren't we dying fast enough for you?" "The man who brought water to you is sick. What did you do to him?" "Oh, yeah, what we did to him," said Pat, her eyes rolling up. "And how did we pull off that little stunt?" She wiggled her fingers. "Magic?" Jill chuckled. "Did it ever occur to you that the toxin you shot us with could be remotely contagious?" "I selected one that was not contagious." "And you tested it to make sure you got what you asked for?" "No, I didn't." His eyes narrowed. "My supplier gave me what I asked for!" "You willing to risk your life on it?" dared Jill. Franklin didn't reply. "Tell you what, Danny. Why don't you come on over here and give us a kiss - then let's see if you become symptomatic like us." She did a weak impression of Clint Eastwood. "So, do you feel lucky ... punk?" Franklin took several steps back. "Daniel," pleaded Pat. "I don't care about what happens to me ... I just want the kids to be safe. You can do what you like to us, but - for God's sake - please quarantine us so we don't affect them." Franklin hesitated. He looked at them for several seconds. Then he said, "Okay." He conferred with those who came with him. Two men saluted and took off to carry out instructions. Keeping his distance, he returned to the pillories. "You'll be taken to the penthouse. The curtains will be removed, and I'll have guards posted on the terrace to watch your every movement. You won't be able to get out; after all, I wouldn't want you to try jumping." He gave them a grin, and gestured to the guards to release them. As the pillories were opened, Jill and Pat stretched and groaned with the pain. Nobody stopped them as they came together. "You okay?" asked Pat, concerned. "No," replied Jill truthfully. "But it doesn't matter now, does it?" "Enough!" barked Franklin. "Get moving! And ... I've ordered one final precaution. Once you're in the penthouse, you will both be stripped." His smile was unnerving. "'Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.' Isn't that what it says, Pat?"

121

It wasn't just that the situation was critical .. stretching sensuously. Franklin could now watch them through the immense glass window that connected with the terrace. Pat assembled the modules into a transmitter. "The peep show has begun. "Put 'em together .. I'll keep these guys distracted! Besides. "Please. as their clothes were carried away. Until he knew that Jill was safe." she reported.. and moved around behind the black woman. then probed around until she felt the edge of the layer of false skin. * * * In the Command Center. "Get them out of here!" * * * The room had been quickly . Ready? On three! One .' Your time will come. I will repay. As soon as the door had closed.." Jill said. "Distract 'em a second so I can separate the modules from the layer and then stash the layer. he accepted the mixture and returned to his command chair. Mitch Drake walked to the coffee dispenser on the wall and refilled his CSIFaculty mug. 122 . A line of armed soldiers stood at attention along the wall of the terrace." "Okay. that every eye was on her. now!" Jill flexed her shoulders and reached her arms above her. not now. He added a couple of sugar cubes and took a tentative sip. "I'll drop my hands and give them something else to look at." said Pat. God.stripped of all items that could be used as a weapon. Pat and Jill tried covering up their modesty the best they could. says the Lord. Jill turned towards the windows and urgently whispered. "It also says.. He didn't dare sleep.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Pat gave him a sobering look. Find the seam of the fake skin on my back and pull!" "What if the guards suspect something?" whispered Pat. "Okay. with a grimace. A glance to the windows confirmed her expectations.. "Okay. 'Vengeance is mine. Within a couple of minutes she had the layer off. I've got the components!" "Good." she muttered behind a smile. trying not to move her lips. it was personal. "Quick! Move around behind me and pretend you're rubbing my shoulders. he wouldn't be able to sleep. He took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh.." prayed Pat as she activated the unit.. it's clear. let this work. trying to keep her actions concealed." Franklin snorted.and not neatly . I'm on a roll!" While Jill moved around the room. She slowly uncovered the modules. She started working on her shoulders. two . Without endangering himself.

Mitch had been majoring in the sciences back then. And Mitch Drake remembered why. that he turned his studies towards criminology. he also put down his faith and became too busy to return to it.Authorized King James Version. And he did. it's Pat . So he took janitorial jobs at night to make extra money for books. and Mitch pushed himself to the limits. following the example of George Washington Carver. eight-year-old Mitchell Drake came up out of the baptismal waters in a little church in North Carolina. Pat! Where's Jill?" 123 . The next day they gave him a brand new bible . First his mom died of cancer. I just don't have that faith . But his meeting with the 'Man of Bronze' had impressed him so much. I can't do that. and he hadn't been warned about the sudden temperature shock. it starved to death. It was a hot June morning. Amongst all the things that kept him busy.and he was thrilled. Mitch had been challenged . Even though his father had money. and to make his mom proud. something died.you hear me? Mitch. * * * Was it too late for him to return.. But inside. Actually. You can sleep in peace knowing that God is keeping your cousin safe. A new home meant a new school. to make his dad proud.sold the house and moved the two of them to New Jersey. I envy your faith. * * * With a breathless gasp. he thought.. In time. His parents. After that. he put his Bible down and forgot to pick it back up. had been so proud of him. standing off to one side. "We've got a signal from Woodward!" "On speakers!" barked Drake.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Clark. Then his dad . "And wake up Dent's group!" ".to earn his own keep.can you hear me?" "I hear you. not anymore.and encouraged . everything seemed to move so fast he couldn't seem to catch his breath. leather cover. and it even came to the attention of the great Doc Savage when he visited the school that year. to go back where he'd left off and catch up? "Sir!" came the excited voice from the intercom.unable to find comfort where they were . distracting him from his thoughts. with two ribbon bookmarks . He'd been the only colored student to achieve an honor status.

Clark moved closer to Drake. "Pat. The intensity of his whisper was hard to dismiss. Don't be long. "One moment. We'll signal you as soon as we can. sir!" Drake was berating himself for his emotional outburst when the door slid open and Clark and the others came in. "We've got bad news. BLAST IT!" Jackson's attitude did an instant one-eighty. he pressed a button and announced. After a moment he quoted. "We have several doses of the botulism antitoxin. it's highly irregular. "Thanks for the reminder. The response was immediate. okay?" 124 . "It seems I just can't seem to keep out of trouble. sir!" he replied before being cut off. Jackson. He tried to speak. it's me!" Clark said aloud. Pat! Stand by!" He pressed a button to mute the conversation. you hold tight.'" she finished the verse. and everyone could hear the tired rasp in her voice. We convinced him that we were contagious. "Pat. we've got the antidote! We'll get it to you as quickly as possible! Hang in there. cuz. "Good to hear your voice.." she replied. with speed injectors! Put them in a padded container and bring them up to C-and-C as soon as you can!" "I'll have them for you in five minutes. "Pat. can I?" Clark fought back a wave of emotion. and hit another. "Infirmary. okay?" "I'll be there before you know it. then suddenly coughed. but take heart –'" "'– I have overcome the world. okay?" "Okay . "Let me talk to her. they looked almost comical in their various degrees of dress.." She let out a sharp cough." she replied. but the tone was casual. In the meantime. Still ignoring the various anxious looks he was getting. and lowered her tone.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Diverting the soldiers. but –" "JUST ANSWER ME. The batteries on that unit are limited. He held up his hand to indicate silence as Jackson came back on the line. "'In this world you will have trouble. Franklin infected us with botulism. but couldn't. "Acknowledged." Their eyes met. sure." he said softly." "Do we carry antitoxin for botulism?" "Well. it didn't sound good. and Mitch nodded. sir! How many do you need?" "Two. It'll give us a homing signal. but we're running out of time!" Drake's breathing stopped for a moment.

"Sorry. I whispered. Clark. otherwise he'll be seen." stated Mitch. He raised a hand to shut us up.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Okay. Holding my breath momentarily and moving behind Clark. reaching for Dot's arm and towing her with me as we followed. "Take him to Blue 12 for a pressure suit! Then bring him topside by Elevator 6!" The woman turned towards the door. "Experimental. let me go in his stead!" 125 . Perry. "Not you! Me! " Clark moved over to me. "No!" I suddenly cried. his height was intimidating. "I don't want to fight you. we all pressed in on Mitch's command chair and hit him with questions. but I'm in better physical shape than you to deal with this!" He had forgotten my ace in the hole." "I'll leave in ten minutes!" boldly declared Clark. extremely fast. I knew he didn't like me being involved like this. she kept professional about it. Clark was pleading. "Randall!" A blonde woman in a black security jumpsuit appeared at his side. "Where do I go?" The stunned black man opened his mouth soundlessly and blinked a couple of times before composing himself. When the conversation ended. he gave us the bad news. "Mitch!" I asked. "Rocket pack. "Look. "You know I'm right!" He didn't reply. I moved off to the side of the command chair and relaxed the aura around my clothes. "Out. sir. "How can we get the antitoxin to 'em in time?" squawked Monk. "He can't do it." she excused herself. nearly bumping into me. He turned his head and called. If my vanishing act had affected her concept of reality." I said. I won't need to ditch in the water! I can land right in their midst!" I hit the ring and vanished before everyone's eyes. * * * As soon as the doors closed. but he couldn't argue my point." "Homing signal strong. The only drawback is that he'll have to ditch in the water before reaching the island. Mitch! Please. "Randall!" ordered Drake. slightly more confident than earlier." confirmed a tech. When we did. "Follow me." she replied. sir!" "Right behind you. * * * It had been hard hearing Pat's voice all those miles away. It'll take one person there faster than a jet could. and we all felt helpless.

that it is. and I suddenly realized what I was going to be wearing underneath the suit. It'll fit over your civilian clothing." The big bronze man looked over at his old friend. "I hope you're right. "Doc." added Monk calmingly. we only had time to grab-and-dress." I said honestly.." "Oh. and pulled one he guessed was my size. a Christian tee-shirt. "I just hope this thing is as idiot-proof as he makes it sound. He identified himself as Woodie Argyle. I don't know anything about this new ." I reassured him. It was embarrassing.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Drake didn't like disagreeing with his childhood idol. There was a chorus of agreeing tones from the rest." * * * "Perry Elam Liston! Are you out of your mind?" argued Dot as she matched my pace and took my invisible hand.." "From what I've seen. "Whoa. Then he saw the rest of them. Drake told me you were coming.. I need a pressure suit for the experimental rocket pack. as Randall delivered us to our destination. "More than likely. His pride was holding him back." said Monk softly. and had no socks on my feet." I replied dryly. And this pressure suit has a servomechanism exoskeleton that'll help compensate for the gee forces you're gonna be pullin'.. the boy can handle himself. His rock-hard jaw relaxed. and he opened his mouth and took a breath before replying.. and he had to let it go." Clark took a deep breath. "I hope you've at least used a rocket pack before?" "Not as long as I wish I had. a male tech in a yellow jumpsuit did a double-take at my bodiless clothing.' 126 .. He's not as experienced as we are in these kind of things. whatever it is. silently watching him with sympathetic eyes. but I do know that he's got an edge that none of us on this base has! And if that edge keeps Jill and Pat alive." He directed me to a rack of suits." defended Johnny. and he knew he had compounded it by fighting what was the only logical option. I was wearing jeans. Since Drake had summoned us with some urgency. sorry. He's as ready as God has made him. sir. And grace will see him through . but he still shook his head. for him t'have that ring at this specific time an' place is a little more spooky than normal . "But we both know it's up to me!" Inside the room marked Blue 12. nobody knows that better than Perry. "Perry's got a good head on his shoulders.. "The controls are even more intuitive than the standard pack. It gave new meaning to the verse about being ready 'in season and out. or … God's got a job specifically for him." He handed it to me. freaky!" "Relax." "Mr. Here they are. "I'm . "Clark.. "Even you've gotta admit. He'll do just fine. then he's got my vote!" "Clark. sir!" He chuckled. "It's only temporary.

His adventures." He backed out the door. wishing she could see the sincerity in my face. He'd given me the ring. Dot suddenly stopped. "Anyhow. throttle back and get on course.. get the antitoxin to Pat and Jill. releasing her. "Besides. "Let's go. It's made that way because of your speed." "I know.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Woodie continued.I'll meet you on the surface!" I didn't understand." "You sound like you've used this pack before. "No pun untended. but it's a blast! Now." I answered his question. "Don't leave just yet . knowing I would use it wisely. of course. you'll be pulling several gees at liftoff. making sure everything was secure. I prayed.. and then hide out until you come to take us home. And that would involve danger. Why in God's name did I think I could pull this off? I hadn't had many hours of flight time with the standard pack. soberly. though." My arms went around her and invisible lips kissed her." As we reached the elevator. you'll have full overhead tactical and communications. "Hon. But I have to use it. it's more spacesuit helmet than you're used to. He looked at me and Dot. sir. all I have to do is fly right through their defenses." "Okay." "Okay.. Woodie. "But don't do anything stupid . then put the petal to the metal … so to speak. The dangers he went through. sir?" Questions? Of course I had questions. What could be simpler?" Dot ran her hands over the suit. ma'am. She gestured down a corridor and told us. Good luck. Okay. sir. "I'm okay. "You're determined to do this?" asked Dot. it'll be a piece of cake . and I remembered my uncle's stories. please. give you two a minute. "Thanks for offering." And we continued. and this is the reason!" I stopped and looked at her. Any questions. "God put this ring in my possession for a reason. sir!" he replied with a beaming grin. calling back." "No problem!" he replied." I begged. But then I felt the ring on my finger. but said. you'll be able to breathe normally. you'll be visible before you arrive. "Okay. "I'm in good hands. so be ready for it! As quickly as you can. "Remember. I'm gonna step outside now .. and hadn't a clue about the experimental pack. Have you?" "Yes. "This way. "Whoa! I just thought of something!" She took off in the opposite direction.. And." Heidi Randall and Woodie Argyle were waiting outside as we came out. "You'll discover that the helmet's different." I agreed. And I wondered just how crazy I had been to volunteer for this mission. 127 . please? Don't be a hero.. I'll trigger the ring when I'm close enough and slip right in. let's do it." she melted into my arms.

sir!" someone ordered. The rocket pack was placed on my back and the connections made fast. Did the great men of the Bible have such second thoughts before they did their mighty deeds? Did little David think he was crazy. Peter." He took my gloved hand with both of his and tightly said. we calculate you'll arrive there in nine. you know it's workin'. "Our jet will get us to Vassilicos' place in twelve hours. "Take good care of it. but I also knew I was trusting God to take care of the details. they performed like true professionals. I had to give this crew a lot of credit: even though I was still invisible. "Stand still. or compensation from the pressure suit's exoskeleton. but Randall took my elbow and directed me away from them and towards a group of technicians. he held up an object like a small metal pencil box. It should take effect within a minute!" He unzipped the front of my flight suit and put the container into an inside pocket. "That is fast!" "The soonest we can get going is three hours. "I'll make sure of that. I saw the others standing off to one side. she gave me what she had retrieved from down below." I was amazed. I wasn't sure if that was due to the experimental design. If you hear a hiss. and go for a walk on the wet side. Time to step out of the boat. Thanks. He zipped up the suit and lightly patted the outside of the pocket. "You've got two field hypos in here – only two! Press the red end flat against the side of the neck and hit the trigger." I heard Dot call my name. They moved away and the others moved in. going after an armored giant like Goliath with only a sling and a few rocks? The Bible said no. that'll give you a ten-hour lead on us." Years of observing the subtle facial tell-tales in Clark showed me that Mitch was desperately trying to keep his concern for Jill in check. I knew I could fail. but he trusted in God to take care of the details. He continued." I promised. The rocket pack didn't feel as heavy as the ones I'd been training on." 128 . I was surrounded like a race car at Indianapolis.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The ride to the surface gave me a chance to really consider what I was about to do. slightly out of breath. They made sure I was fueled and ready before scattering." she said. The elevator opened into a hangar containing several small aircraft and a couple of helicopters. Letting her through. "Godspeed." "I will. "Good call. and we all turned to see her running for me. Drake was first. "You might need it. and I complied. "They'll be okay. He knew that he could be killed if he failed. I placed the package into a zippered pocket on my leg." I reassured him.

I looked up and took a deep breath. Okay. and away. Then I remembered an odd prayer muttered by astronaut Alan Shepherd. Shepherd's prayer." I hadn't cared for the language he chose. I knew he was struggling with this.." "Thanks. "Up. "I will. The techs gave me a final check. boy. I saw Clark hanging back so that he could speak to me privately. where the first rays of dawn were peeking over the horizon.. but he remained as stoic as ever. and hit the buttons. I was glad to see Dot holding onto Bonnie. He started to speak." I whispered.. "Please don't let me f*** up. Then they directed me outside. * * * The atmosphere was tense as they watched Perry prepare to go. Okay?" I could see his eyes. The throttles were integrated into the gloves of my suit. Then I knew I was ready. then lowered my voice. I suddenly recalled the movie The Right Stuff. I was grateful for a clear sky. was that God would take my will out of the mix. As I took it. but he couldn't see mine." "I know. Then I put my arms down at my sides. handshakes. and I did not want to be the one to mess it up with my will. testing the weight of the suit and the rocket pack. The others followed as a group but kept a safe distance away.." I replied. Looking around. if something happens to me .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD She kissed me one final time. "You're covered. I turned to my spectators. The last one gave me a smile and a thumbs-up and left me alone. let's not disappoint them. Clark . I prayed. and words of good wishes. then backed away. up. but came up silent. we hadn't missed the rain by much. I felt a odd kinship with those foolhardy test pilots who had lived and died to get past the limits of the past. As he waited to become the first American into space aboard Freedom 7. by the number of fresh puddles on the ground. who had come out to watch me. and realized that many of the early flights into space had happened right here in Florida. He finally came over and held out a large hand." Another group of techs gathered around me to give me my helmet and make one final check of systems. take care of Dot. he asked God. There were more people there. as now was mine. and just get the job done. 129 . could I relate! So much was riding on what happened in the next few hours. "Look. but. he said. Lord. I moved around in a small circle. then backed away as the others came over and offered hugs. Finally he just nodded his head. All I had to do was punch the buttons with my thumbs to activate them.

. then . Many of those watching openly gasped or exclaimed in surprise. Coming out of the loop . "There! There he is!" * * * I couldn't hear my own scream. When I was able to see clearly. Reality check. don't let me screw up. I executed a slow and easy roll at 500 feet. "Please keep him safe. "Hey. Then someone pointed and cried out. there wasn't even a vapor trail to show he'd even been there. Then he kicked in the afterburners and was out of sight almost instantly.in Woodie's own words . I slowly looped back and down. "What?" Dot smiled at her.. and Perry was carried into the air as if he'd been shot out of a gun." called Renny from the hangar door. "Take care of him. Cloud. kid." seconded Clark and Bonnie. Doing good . "God. yeah.put the petal to the metal and blasted out over the ocean in the direction of Caroline Island. right on course. Okay. You comin'?" "We'll be right behind you!" Clark called back. They took one last look towards the horizon. and I had to remind myself to breathe. Okay. Then they followed Renny into the hangar." whispered Monk with a grin. Then there was a flash of rocket flame. * * * "Mr. not too much descent. Dot struggled to see where he was.level off . I blinked. And I hoped I wouldn't accidentally crash into any nearby airliners. whoa.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "I wonder what he's thinking?" asked Bonnie. "We're headin' downstairs. * * * A cheer exploded from the onlookers at Perry's roll. a vapor trail the only witness to his trajectory. Plenty of room. "Go get 'em. the first thing I saw was a most-amazing view of the Florida coastline. that's how fast I was going! The whole world rushed past me at a blur.. 130 . Perry put his hands to his side and looked up. Get it under control! Woodie said to throttle down and get on course. guys." Dot prayed under her breath." Dot said absently. Put your arms at your side and use 'em like wings." "Amen.. let's let'em know I'm all right.good! Overhead display says to move three degrees left . do you have him?" asked Drake as he came through the door.

. "You've got around thirty-seven minutes until you become visible. distance. Oh." "Gotcha. you'd really get a kick out of this model. including direction. I'm going to need some kind of countdown timer that'll talk to me without giving away my position. it was right on the money! And Gumball. "But while we're on the subject . I'm new at this. do you think your people can come up with something?" Drake replied without a beat." reported Monk. "The view's incredible! I wish you guys had a camera on the front of the helmet." "We'll add it to the next batch. Mitch." came the response from the overhead speakers. "We read all systems go..The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD A young man with distinct American-Indian features replied. it's like comparing a skateboard to a Ferrari!" "I'm putting my reservations in for the next test flight. if you're listening. speed. Your helmet will give you enough of a warning if you venture too close to other aircraft. if I'm going to be doing a lot of this." "Good idea. The teams will be leaving here in two hours twenty-five. and altitude. he consulted his monitors and nodded back. "Affirmative." He paused. partner!" the pilot replied." reported Mitch.." 131 .. "Sure!" "I appreciate it. the water's getting a little choppy at this altitude. "How about me?" "You're right on course!" "You guys made it easy. I didn't have time to explain!" He paused. I'll remain here to oversee operations. "Wow!" they all heard. "Hey. "Yes. Mitch. guys. "Just keep on the programmed course and keep us posted if your situation changes. "Thanks! Sorry about taking you all by surprise down there.000 feet. Perry. stopping at 12. "Hey. Can I cruise up a little higher?" Drake looked over at Cloud." "Great! Here I go ." commented Drake. We'll keep the line open. "He's right on the programmed course!" "Perry! Can you hear me?" "Loud and clear. to see this. Don't want to take chances at this stage. give Woodie my personal thanks for his advice. sir!" He listed off several figures." Cloud read off his altitude." replied Perry. summarizing by reporting. I think I'm gonna concentrate a bit on my driving.

" She snorted through her nose. God. "Them. "Yep. "And Clark learned that from Perry. followed closely by Gumball and Amy. A rear cargo door was loading the last of their gear. but he's right. Bonnie put her arm around Dot and led her out.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Okay." she sighed." Then there was silence. "Y'know. "Talk to y'all later. let's go. And you're right . You know what I mean. Monk finally tugged at Clark's elbow and said.. sug?" Bonnie asked Dot." added Bonnie in the same tone.." "Angry militant Amazonian women in the Valley of the Vanished . In the forward passenger compartment. too. He'll be fine. and he can handle himself better physically and mentally than he could then. I mean... "It's just that I'm not used to Perry being the hero." "Yep.. "I love you. Clark took the hint and they left the room. * * * CHAPTER SIXTEEN A modified commercial jet sat waiting on the tarmac.." agreed Bonnie. I suppose.. * * * "How y'doin. then turned to the others and informed them.." he replied." Dot nodded. who muted the line. "Alone?" Dot caught herself.. I don't know why I shouldn't . he'd never have made it. terrorists in Africa . "I just don't like the idea of my husband running off into danger alone.." "Ahem." coughed Bonnie. An' I hate to say it." Renny and Johnny left first. Clark always tells me that every fire we go through is just a stepping stone. how many battles have we fought over the years? Gang members in San Francisco. "Okay . "C'mon. Drake signaled to one of the techs. men and women talked among themselves in anticipation of the mission ahead. how far we have come. Over and out. a sideways reference to herself when she and Jill Woodward had led APEX into the Valley in pursuit of Pat Savage. bikers in Pine Corners." Dot grinned. so he's not alone. taking her friend's hand. "Okay . "I'll keep you all posted on his progress..." "I do. a bit of preparation for the next fire." "I love you!" Dot unashamedly called out. too. But he's in better shape than he was then." 132 . if he had gone into this kind of a situation when we first met." Reluctantly.

the one with all the guards surrounding it. I sent off a quick signal to Mitch.. He'd grown up in Djakarta. The guards were going to be a problem." she repeated under her breath. trying to figure out how he could smuggle the cigarettes and lighter into the barracks . And quickly. evading the police and keeping him and his younger sister alive. and she talked him into staying. The eight-year-old nervously paced the floor of the barracks.. and got away with it . But in order to stay. the rocket pack was quiet. but not that quiet. and closed her eyes. But Kenji knew how to skirt the rules in order to survive. he had to follow the rules. He sat on the ground and continued to smoke the cigarette. ditch the rocket pack. He exhaled it with a satisfied smile crossing his face.in case he couldn't get out again. So I needed to land. and had them located in Pat's place at the top of the mesa . They were taxiing for takeoff. "He'll be fine. His dark skin blended in with the shadows of the buildings. where he found the concealed glass jar containing the pack of unfiltered American Camels and the Zippo lighter given to him years ago by a close friend. one of which was no smoking. But he couldn't. that is. learning how to survive on the streets as a petty pickpocket and thief. Survival also meant he had picked up some nasty habits . and approach on foot. and he moved cautiously like the snakes of his native land.. I couldn't just land and walk into the penthouse without being heard. His hands shaking. He'd finally had enough. He reached his hiding place near the base of the mesa. which made it even harder for him to get away. His nicotine-deprived brain had resolved that death was a reasonable risk in getting to his cigarettes. they were given the choice of juvenile jail or coming to Caroline Island to live. then triggered the ring. so it took a few tries before it worked and I became invisible. I hadn't taken into account the thickness of the gloves and loss of aerodynamic stability I'd run into. When they were caught. * * * Kenji Columbo was going crazy. he finally touched the flame to the tip and took in the first deep drag.smoking. until these soldiers showed up. So he slipped out a window and headed for his hiding place. and would be easier to escape from. I'd picked up the signal from Jill's transmitter.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Dot took a deep breath and leaned back in her seat. But then his sister liked the place. for one. He needed a cigarette. He wanted a cigarette. I throttled back and circled over the island. Five minutes later. 133 .. He did his smoking in secret. They restricted them to their barracks . He took what he thought would keep him and his sister together. trying to get the craving out of his head. * * * As soon as I came into sight of the island.

"No. Then the cigarette took on a life of its own. and the imprint of a foot remained around it in the broken up dirt. I'm a friend.nothing! He tried puffing frantically on the cigarette. Kenji frantically looked around him.. "Okay. He hesitated a moment. he thought. sir . Spook! We all know! But there are guards!" "Leave them to me! Once the women are free. "Who said that?" he hissed. we'll need a place to hide. They are in the house above us!" He nodded.. "Yes. "And I'm right here next to you. He reacted as if a snake had landed. gods!" he moaned. but there was no one there ." The voice was not his. there was nobody there . He looked where he had stood a moment ago. Spook..The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD As he thought. As Kenji watched. the smoke of his cigarette suddenly took on the partial outline of a man who dissipated it with a wave of his hand. almost falling backwards. he dismissed it as paranoia . "What's your name?" asked the disembodied voice. expecting to see the source of the voice next to him. then fell to the ground a couple of feet in front of him. He jerked back frantically." He swung around in the direction of the voice. That's it." That really scared Kenji. "Kenji . then answered. Instead. floating out from between his fingers. He started swinging his arms. sir! Where are you?" "Right in front of you. hoping to connect with what he could not see. I'm going crazy. It hovered in mid-air for a moment. bolting away in the opposite direction. "She is able to command the spirits!" "I'm not a spirit! I'm a man! I can't explain it to you right now. Mr. but saw nothing.. But he was alone. He looked around anxiously. and I have the medicine that will save her and the other woman. and I'm losing my mind. hoping to derive some comfort from it. When the sound did not repeat. but he only grasped empty air. out of his mouth. "I don't have much time! I'm here to help Pat Savage. "W-where are you?" "I said that." came the voice again. but I will become visible soon. the cigarette became flattened. you're not! There's nothing there!" A hand touched him on the shoulder.as before. he suddenly heard a whooshing sound as if a jet airplane was passing near. At eight years old. "You really ought to stop smoking." said the voice. "Oh. Can you help us?" 134 ." Kenji took a couple steps away from where the voice was coming from.his mind playing tricks on him.

as Pat and Jill came to the sliding glass door and pulled it open. "Stay here. "Perry? What?" I quickly moved us inside.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Yes!" he said confidently. "I'll explain in a minute! I've got the antitoxin!" "But the guards!" exclaimed Jill. "Where'd you come from?" they both asked. I quickly gave him a whiff of Verity-3 and he became as docile as the rest. but I was glad they were both still alive. I was able to see Pat and Jill inside. as I reached the last man. "I can see you!" He wasn't the only one who saw me." I looked over at the other guards. I quickly moved down the line. I didn't know how long they had. We were crouched down on the steps yards away from the penthouse. trying not to give myself away by sound or footprint. his eyes wide as he came nearer. pointing at the row of stone soldiers. "¿Que?" he exclaimed. setting up the hypnotic command. "The coast's clear! These guys are hypnotized!" "Spook!" exclaimed Kenji. and I stood before one very-surprised soldier. but held back my curiosity until they were safe. However." I whispered quickly. I gave Pat a quick hug. Confident. I removed the little package from my leg pouch and I prayed that I'd stay invisible long enough to use it. she cried as she held onto me." I slipped cautiously onto the balcony and moved to the first guard. so hoped I was aiming it right. I couldn't see the small canister of Verity-3 in my hand. it quietly sprayed into his face. and it took effect instantly. the invisibility wore off. Repeating the suggestion. I placed it under the nose of the first guard and hit the button. I looked around to see if there was anything else to be concerned about. "Okay. Praising God again for Dot's last-minute insight. I called over to Kenji. just out of sight of the guards. doing the same to each guard. "Don't move. taking only a couple of minutes. "Then let's go!" * * * The boy was good. none seemed to have been attracted to my actions. 135 . He didn't see it coming. I was surprised to see them naked but for towels wrapped around them. "The two women are still inside. Good." I whispered to Kenji.

Very fast." "Why am I not surprised?" Pat smiled." I cautioned.I'll get us there." "But why . he made sure that none of the soldiers came even close to spotting us. Aunt Patty met the challenge with hugs and words of comfort that . Kenji?" asked Pat. to keep the squeals of excitement of the children from attracting attention from the guards nearby. The others are following in a standard jet. "How did you get here? Is Clark with you?" she asked. They both smiled and hugged each other with relief. we had an abundance of room to move about.things would be okay. unzipping the front of the flight suit and taking out the container with the hypos. and we entered the dorms without problem. where the older children stayed..no matter how scary things were now . Since there were more younger children than older ones. and I hugged Pat again. And now it works only for me. Jill are I are gonna go an' get some clothes and be right back! Let's go!" "Make it quick. Five minutes later they returned. but he would pass the news over to them.m. our time when you called!" Meanwhile. "This used to belong to my uncle. Slowly the color returned to their skin.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Verity-3. I was really getting to like and respect this kid. I got the perfect place . but I simply explained. We moved up to the third floor. "Thank God you got here in time. Pat gave Kenji and me a hug and thanked us for saving them. however. I didn't need the flight suit anymore." I said. It was able to make him invisible. "Spook told me you're gonna need a place to hide out. He moved us with ease among the shadows of the evening. The seconds passed while Kenji and I watched. an' nobody will see us!" We worked our way through the interior of the mesa to an exit at the base.. fully clothed and looking and feeling a whole lot better. I was relieved to know they had survived the flight. about ten hours behind me. There were a few curious looks at my Christian teeshirt. "An experimental rocket pack. I did as Mitch had instructed. He told us the others were in mid-air at the moment. and headed for the dorms. Jill used the radio to update Mitch on our situation. Then I stood back and prayed. Kenji and I moved closer. right under their noses!" "Are you sure. taking a glance at the soldiers. follow me . believe me.in the barracks. "Sure I am! C'mon. It took all of us. Even though he was half as tall as we were. 136 . "Hey. He nodded. injecting the solution into them with a pair of satisfying hisses. so I removed it. it was five a.?" I held up my hand to show them the ring.

and tried running or fighting. both physically and emotionally. and that God's will would prevail in all things. and all but the older boys and girls had fallen asleep. Clark looked up at the ceiling. 137 . and the lights off as we gathered in a circle. followed by the sound of children in the plaza. and for the rescue to come. * * * When things started to calm down. EVERYONE! PAT? JILL? SHAME ON YOU FOR LYING TO ME ABOUT BEING CONTAGIOUS. they were surrounded by soldiers in a deadly crossfire. her lips moving in silent prayer as her hand gripped Bonnie's. they were crying! As we cautiously peered out. then added in a singsong tone. "I've just received word that the antitoxin was delivered successfully and everyone is doing fine!" As a cheer went through the jet. I WILL ORDER MY MEN TO SHOOT THESE LITTLE ONES!" Punctuating his declaration. and offered his thanks as well. We kept our voices low. but she didn't stay out of the circle either. One boy was struck across the face with the barrel of a machine gun. "PAT? JILL?" Franklin continued. Jill didn't actually participate in the prayers. A few of the children understood the gravity of the situation. We offered our thanks to God for rescuing us so far.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD * * * "May I have your attention. his hands covering his eyes from the intense brightness. Still in their pajamas. and staggered back into the group.. closed his eyes. Franklin stood surrounded by soldiers.that no one would be seriously hurt on either side of the battle that the children would all be protected. A few rows farther back. Suddenly Kenji . But they weren't playing . "COME OUT. "I'M THROUGH PLAYING GAMES WITH YOU! I WILL GIVE YOU FIVE MINUTES TO SHOW YOURSELVES! IF YOU ARE NOT HERE AT THE END OF THAT FIVE MINUTES. "Hey! Check this out!" His statement was punctuated by the central plaza suddenly becoming engulfed in sound and light. the cold-looking soldiers pulled back the bolts on their automatic weapons and leveled them at the terrified children.who had been sitting by the window . Dot smiled through tear-filled eyes. He raised a bullhorn to his lips. AND YOU'RE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE!" He paused.. A directional spotlight swung around the buildings. turning the night into noon. the rest of us felt compelled to spend some time in prayer." came the voice of the captain.suddenly turned towards us and whispered. We cautiously rushed to the windows to see what was happening. We prayed for what was going to happen over the next few hours ." There was a moment of silence. I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU ESCAPED. several boom lifts raised harsh area lights high into the air. "GOOD MORNING. BUT I KNOW YOU HAVE. we saw that Franklin was holding a dozen children of various ages. In the central plaza. strafing the windows and causing us all to duck. WHEREVER YOU ARE!. Kenji threw himself down to the floor. The metallic din gave an ugly clatter in the night air. COME OUT.

"I'll go down there. "Who in blazes are you?" he asked. "I can't let them hurt the children! I'm giving myself up!" I stood to stop her. "If anything. they'll take this place apart looking for you!" I looked at them both for a few moments. "In the meantime. and stepped into range of the area lights with my hands open and out at my side to prove that I was unarmed. I didn't wonder why there were no guards at the outside door. "Thank you. I see a lot of him in you. I'll tell him you found a way off the island. and begged for wisdom. they did. Then Pat said through clenched teeth. I can. "I came here to save you two! Please don't jeopardize things now!" I put my hand on the knob and turned it. I took a circuitous route to the central plaza. "No!" She continued. Then I was down the hallway and at the stairwell before anyone could express any more objections. "I'm trusting you to keep them hidden until help comes! Got it?" "Will do. all I need to do is stall!" I met her gaze and smiled." I said." kicked in Jill. Pat! You can't! As soon as Franklin sees you he'll know you're not infected! We need to stall for time!" I paused." I looked across the room at Kenji. I'll try to distract him. It took only me a few seconds out in the open to get their attention. "Jill. I prayed that I was truly doing the right thing. once they know I've come from this direction. Spook!" he snapped back. "No. 138 .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD At the window. Pat suddenly stood and took a couple of steps towards the door. "We know help is on its way. I kept my hands up throughout their search. I lowered my arms and spoke with a determination that brushed aside any residual fear. I'll tell him you've both escaped. We were helpless. that way he won't go looking for you!" I intercepted her as she reached the door. Jill Woodward muttered a long string of curses towards Franklin. "You've been spending far too much time around my cousin." "But -" "But nothing!" I flared. I knew what to do. there were no more voiced objections.trust me!" "But it'll be hours until they get here. but just thanked God for it. and kept repeating. Several soldiers surrounded me. I can always turn invisible!" I paused." I took her by the shoulders and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "It'll be all right . "Can you stall for that long?" "God willing. hide. "Take me to your leader!" Finally.

and was starting to get to my feet when something that felt like a meat cleaver smacked me in the back of the head. he went limp underneath me.. I really had no desire to kill this man.. My hand quickly shifted to the side of Franklin's neck and I applied pressure to a particular nerve Clark had showed me.. I released him.they're long gone by now. He tried to struggle. His breathing had increased sharply and I could see the sweat on his ebony brow." I paused and smiled. "Me and the antitoxin I gave them. "We know a lot about you. in the minisub that brought me here. taking him as the hostage and .. order them . or I'll . but little David went up against big Goliath with far less. we're being watched by at least three hidden cameras right now! So smile pretty .. no matter how much evil he'd done. and I fell forward onto my hands and knees.. "Or you're dead in five seconds!" Franklin struggled..putting enough leverage on the situation to reverse it. throwing a punch at me. "Tell them to back off. "Now why don't you just give it up and surrender before you and a lot of these men get hurt?" "NO!" yelled Franklin. Through a ringing haze in my head I heard a woman's voice behind me scream..hopefully .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "The name's Liston . Woodward . Not the best way I'd like to leave this world. but didn't give in. to shoot the children!" he growled back. but I had the advantage. I knew it was a stretch. stumbling over his own feet and falling in the dirt. Perry Liston. Daniel Franklin!" "How do you know my name?" I took a step closer to him and continued to press my advantage.. "Do you actually think all the security on this island is out in the open? Heck.. I wondered how far I'd have to go before either Franklin gave in . by the way. and Franklin flew right past me.. I twisted my upper body and took a half-step to the side. In the back of my mind..all these soldiers around me would tear into me like a pack of rabid wolves. I had a plan to keep inching towards him until I could grab him and put him in a submission hold. me go . which. A moment later.. "You bastard! You've killed him!" 139 . Don't bother looking for Ms. But I also knew what would happen if I backed down . increasing the pressure around his neck. "Franklin! Give it up now!" I growled. or expired. My vision was filled with flashbulbs." I ordered. "Let . has now been frozen like a strawberry Popsicle. that is!" "How?" he sputtered.... including your escape from the Valley of the Vanished and your Hidalgo bank account . I had to do something now. Savage and Ms. I took another step closer. I continued." Franklin was starting to lose it. Franklin. I dropped next to him and got him in a headlock. At the last moment.

I was exposed and hung up to dry ." Franklin was right next to me. "You've really messed up my plans. So I guess I'll just have to settle for watching you die a slow. and Pat prayed. you aren't so tough now!" Franklin. painful death. damaging one or more of them. I let out an involuntary gasp of shock. I saw him only when he came into my limited field of vision. They weren't comfortable with his instructions to hang in there. and I presumed that someone . "You're all so fond of turning the other CHEEK! Let's see you turn the other CHEEK! Why don't you say something. Aunt Jill! You gotta move it! Spook told me to hide you! Now let's GO!" Pat resisted as long as she could. So they waited.I remained silent. buttocks. "GATHER ROUND.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Then a great darkness eclipsed the myriad of flashbulbs.literally. in a storage room within the mess hall." He stepped back and held the bullhorn to his lips. My ribs hurt. and I realized all I was wearing was my underwear. "THE SHOW IS ABOUT TO BEGIN!" 140 . but I was up too high. he punctuated his points by striking me with the stick on the back. practically whispering in my ear. "So. Ten tense minutes later.although my mouth opened several times . but the satellites would be passing over within a half hour. all I was able to manage was a little support on my toes. and I wondered if they were bleeding. and finally forced herself away from the window and followed the others down the back stairs just as a trio of soldiers reached their floor. and were over the top piece of the large marble cross in the middle of the pool in the central plaza. Finally. even when I stretched. He reported that the strike force was still a couple of hours from Greece.more than likely Franklin . huh. "Well. and legs. full of himself. but . Franklin stopped. I tried to find some footing. Liston Perry Liston. The welts were throbbing. My wrists were bound together. Christian. "Aunt Patty. and my arms lost all strength … * * * Kenji frantically tugged at Pat and Jill's clothing and begged. they were able to send a signal to Mitch Drake. * * * I came to with the help of a bucket of cold water thrown on my bare skin. Slowly I realized where I was and what had happened while I had been unconscious. but weren't in a position to do otherwise. My head and the back of my neck throbbed. CHRISTIAN? Why don't you say something HOLY!" I wanted to cry out in pain.had hit or kicked me. Mr. He had a swagger stick in his hand. and whipped it around him with a distinctive swish. haven't you? I can't exact my revenge on Pat and Jill now. Then as he talked. YOUNG AND OLD!" he boomed like a circus ringmaster. paraded around me.

and I knew what had hit me in the back of the head.. and she remembered the crowd he hung around with: they had been the ones who had put them in the Valley of the Vanished for four years! And now she would be the one to kill him! But then he screamed. "HE CALLS HIMSELF A CHRISTIAN! THEREFORE IT SEEMS ONLY FITTING THAT HE SHOULD DIE ON A CROSS!" He paused. and Franklin's footsteps as he walked behind me.THIS FOOL .she had been waiting for that! It was what he had said that took her by surprise! She would've expected screams of pain. causing them to twitch. and my eyes filled with light as the pain drew a line across my back. but this guy was asking God to have mercy on .. "GOD!" I suddenly screamed.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD People crowded around the windows. "Deuce. Then my ears caught a familiar snap of leather. on us.. cutting into my stomach. just in time to feel the whip again. then she exhaled forcefully as the whip struck again. I could hear their voices.. unable to scream. And. AND I WILL NOT HAVE ANY HEROES HERE! IN ORDER TO MAKE MY POINT CLEAR. There was a pause as I heard Deuce take in a breath. sucking in air as fast as I could before Snap! I felt the first touch of the whip on my flesh. or pleas for mercy on himself. She hit the back of my legs. you may begin. I AM GOING TO MAKE THIS HERO AN EXAMPLE TO ANYONE ELSE WHO THINKS HE CAN BE A HERO!" He lowered the bullhorn. I involuntarily gasped. my God!" As I heard the giggling Deuce get closer. couldn't cover myself. Every muscle in my body went tense." Everything became strangely quiet. couldn't avoid. My eyes were squeezed tightly closed as my mouth opened and the air rushed out. curving around my ribs. I started taking deep breaths. sex was taking a poor second. no!" "Oh. I couldn't move. Bracing myself for what was coming. opening them to see clearer. Stripe after stripe went across my body. Then I heard the sounds from around me. at this moment.THINKS HE IS A HERO! I AM THE BOSS HERE. It hadn't been the fact that he had screamed . "THIS MAN . gasps of surprise intermixed with voices: "No!" "Oh. "FORGIVE THEM! THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!" * * * Deuce Robinson was wondering if this feeling was better than sex.. "THIS MAN CAME HERE TO RESCUE YOU!" yelled Franklin. She had heard his name. My mind cried out to God as I gasped to take another breath. God. on me! 141 . I prayed fiercely.

. I could feel something beneath my feet. I was sitting. where my environment was constantly shifting around me. He looked familiar. * * * CHAPTER SEVENTEEN I wasn't in pain anymore. you're dead!" I blurted. "WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?" she screeched at him. her eyes wide with madness. but I couldn't put my finger on it. "Look!" directed Franklin. It would've been a very disorienting feeling. just in case I found the wall. Twenty-five. Then it hit me and my jaw dropped. twenty-seven . but . Suddenly Franklin stepped in and stopped her.... I didn't sense his approach. I opened my eyes and saw white everywhere. but I felt strangely calm about it. An oasis in the middle of a desert. As he stood there smiling. and it startled me. "No. "H-how?" Then I paused and asked what was on my heart. well. and let the whip sail again." 142 . I wandered about. The man on the cross had stopped moving.. I felt like I was in a holosuite on Star Trek. This is . Then. Then she lost the disorientation.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD She stopped her attack as if she had suddenly lost all strength in her arm. I tapped the ground and kept my hands out in front of me. Her jaw went slack and she blinked as if trying to focus on something. Here's a clue: the last time we met. and there was a man standing a few feet from me. Then I realized that I wasn't hanging up by my arms. "Am I dead?" He shook his head. He thought you could use it right about now. I tried to recognize him." he replied with a slight bow. I don't blame you for not recognizing me.. "But . twenty-six.. She did. "I know you. shook her head and grit her teeth. As I looked around I realized there was no hint of walls or a ceiling anywhere. You're still alive and still hanging on that cross. "It's okay. let's just call it a 'time out' of sorts. I turned.?" He held up a hand to silence me. Perry. I wasn't alone. This was getting too weird. suddenly. "Long Tom?" "At your service.. exploring this fascinating nether-region." "Sitting?" I tried to decipher his cryptic clue.

it was not the time for analysis. Why don't you sing something?" I looked at him with confusion. there?" "Soon. "I just pass 'em on. he had two good legs. So I'm happy for her. "Isn't it obvious?" He paused." "So how long until I go back . c'mon. He died before I was born. But you're not alone.on his deathbed. don't tell." Tom shrugged. "All right. "Don't ask. "Sing?" 143 . "You know Amy's okay?" He nodded. Perry. That's what faith is all about. "Yes. He came closer and put a comforting hand on my shoulder. "I see you got your legs back. He was right.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "He? God?" "Of course." I admitted. "I also wanted to thank you for what you said at my funeral." "That doesn't make any sense. I never met Ham. thank you.. your words came in the nick of time. "Not yet." "This is so strange. But I do have one for you from Ham. Is this what your body looks like in heaven?" He waggled an index finger at me and grinned. and yet." I conceded. and he loves her very much. "It's just a small detail. It was very nice." he agreed. but for faith. The last time I'd seen him was five years ago ." I persisted." I wasn't used to hearing Gumball addressed by his given name and not his nickname." Tom gave me a stern look. I started to relax." With that out of the way." "Aw. Clark is a good man. "Since you're aware of what I'm going through.. but stopped. His legs had been taken in an accident when he was an observer in Vietnam. then I'm assuming you can see what's going on below . and you know what I said at your funeral. Before I died.. if below is the proper terminology." "You're welcome. verify things in the Bible." "It'll do for the moment. "Relax. I started to make conclusions. I was concerned about her without me. It won't be easy." Long Tom smiled and shook his head. I don't interpret them. So it's not my time to go?" I couldn't bring myself to say the word 'die'. now." "I know. He says thanks. Tom.. "Any messages you want me to pass on to her?" "No.

Several rows back. the same tune came to Clark's mind. gaining in boldness. Within seconds. "Hear what." * * * "Don't you hear it?" the woman confronted the guard. but determined to 'walk by faith.." "BUT HE IS!" she yelled.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD He nodded. "No weapon that's fashioned against us will stand. I cleared my throat and starting singing the first thing that came to mind.. volume. then gave the woman an embarrassed look. honor. but she suddenly found herself humming to herself. is. "And we sing glory. the battle belongs to the Lord. In the Old Testament. picked up the volume. he sang. not by sight'.. "The battle belongs to the Lord . the pow'r of His blood.." * * * Dot was reclining in her seat on the jet. the battle belongs to the Lord. Scattered throughout the plane. And in the New Testament. The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of his saints. Feeling a little odd." sang Clark. "When your enemy presses in hard. Senõrita Deuce. power and strength to the Lord. encouraged. Most of the passengers were quiet. He is still unconscious .. Clark could hold back no longer. as if she'd lost her steam. Remember the Word. my friend. "And we sing glory. men and women. do not fear. Monk Mayfair and Amy Roberts-Mayfair came in on the melody. Voice added to voice. hearing Dot and. "Sing. "In heavenly armor we'll enter the land. Senõrita Deuce?" "That singing! There!" She pointed at the man hanging on the cross. power and strength to the Lord. Then her voice became softer. "It's him!! He's singing!" The soldier looked to the cross. "I am sorry. the battle belongs to the Lord. How many times have crises been averted or lessened when those involved started singing?" He had a point. "HE ... "He's raised up a standard. your redemption is near. and harmony." 144 ." Dot came in. now openly. he could not be singing. until almost all of those who could sing did so enthusiastically. the battle belongs to the Lord . running up to him in a near-panic. honor.. the song was picked up by others aboard the jet. "Take courage." added Monk and Amy. the Israelites went into battle with praise and worship." "The battle belongs to the Lord.. Softly. "When the power of darkness comes in like a flood. Paul and Silas sang in jail before the earthquake freed them.

" Drake couldn't remember why he had underlined those verses in the gospel of Mark. No reason to tell them sooner. "For what is a man profited. He rose and turned things over to his second-in-command Mike Freeman: "Get me up fifteen minutes before they land. Then he saw the frayed edge of one of the two black ribbon bookmarks. Crossing back into his office. and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation. so many years ago. he had to admit .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD She walked over to the cross. And in a way. especially when it involved an operation that was covert. She poked at him. but not at the moment. his eyes surveyed the pages. soulless robot reporting the facts to grieving loved ones. he stood before his bookcase. And he continued reading until he was alerted to the jet's arrival in Greece. hear ... When it becomes easy." she whispered painfully. you. The man's breathing was shallow. I can still . if he shall gain the whole world. hard ground. he walked over to an easy chair . until she was convinced that he wasn't faking. leather cover.. 145 . That included informing people of the fate of their loved ones. After a few moments he drew it out. When it's all business. it was heartbreaking to see into the eyes of families and friends when you couldn't tell them details on the nature of the mission. She stared at him for several seconds. It was never easy. "Liston." he whispered. There was still an hour yet to go before their plane touched down. and you're just a cold. it means you've lost your last tie to humanity. A section had been underlined. when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. There he stripped off some of the layers of that day and tried to sleep. to explain why they were there and what they died in fighting for." * * * Part of Drake's responsibilities over the years had been to be the bearer of bad news. of him shall the Son of man be ashamed. * * * Adjacent to Drake's office was a small apartment. then it's time to pack it up and join them in the cold. wiped some dust off of its old black. Trying to make sense of his hesitation. He didn't open the book for several minutes. and he read the words aloud. Even in the most-critical of times he could manage a 'combat sleep'. It was a painful job to do.and turned on the floor lamp next to it. his eyes fixed on a single volume. * * * Drake's heart tightened as he watched the footage from the spy satellite. Opening the book where the ribbon lay. he didn't respond.his favorite. Then she quickly pivoted on her heel and ran from the central plaza. asking himself where he should start. he hoped it never would become easy. and just let it rest in his hands.. "That just goes to show how far I've drifted from You.

" "Show me!" Dot ordered." He turned to Dot. Liston personally confronted the leader . He tried to look sympathetic as he shook his head slowly from side to side. sweetheart -" Dot twisted away from him and silenced him with a fiery glance. "Don't 'sweetheart' me. He identified himself and apologized. Vassilicos explained. Mr. looking out of the window at the fire on the ground. "What happened?" Trying to be objective. granddad! If it were grandma out there. "Mrs. finally able to speak. and informed them that Mr. your husband Perry has been captured by the enemy forces on the island. Dot." Dot burst to her feet and gave Vassilicos a look that could've scorched steel. Savage. DAMMIT! Perry's my husband. Drake did provide me with the video from the satellites. Renny. "I would not advise it. In order to protect the ladies. Ms." observed Clark. At the far end was a large flat display monitor. A messenger was also waiting. while Bonnie and Gumball preferred seats at the back near the exit. Franklin . and her face paled. "Yes. seated next to Dot at the conference table.and succeeded in persuading him that the ladies had left the island. Liston. and Ms. but Clark asked." Dot was silent. A few minutes later.Mr. reached up and put his hand on her arm. "An accident involving one of my employees. they were all directed away from the emergency. "Who told you? Drake?" He nodded." But instead of answers. I'm afraid I must bring distressing news about those on the island. "Forgive the wait. "We're still descending. Woodward were hiding from the enemy forces when some of the children were taken as hostages." said Monk. He gathered together Clark.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD * * * "I've got a bad feelin' about this. Gumball and Amy. "Now look. you'd swim the distance to get to her!" 146 . Bonnie. Clark and Dot sat towards the front. It was a windowless room. But that is not the reason why you are all here. the fire which you no doubt saw as you were landing. They were directed to a small conference room in a building near the docks." "So what happened?" asked Monk. "We'll find out what's going on once we're on the ground. with doors at either end and a rectangular table in the middle. Liston. my friends! I was dealing with a small situation which demanded my attention. Vassilicos came in through the door near the screen." "How do you know all this?" Dot asked. Vassilicos wished to meet with them privately. and I want to see that video NOW!" Monk. so it can't be too bad. to a hangar where their gear was. "It appears that Mr. Monk. Johnny. Mr. "Now.

"But she won't get far! My security people will stop her!" As she ran from the conference room. The satellite image of the island quickly zoomed in on the central plaza. which was surrounded by a ring of area floodlights.it took everyone a moment to realize her actions.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Monk's expression didn't waver. They closed in on the hands. But when she suddenly bolted through the door at that end of the room aided by the dimmed lights ." exclaimed Johnny suddenly. and Vassilicos tried going after her." answered Vassilicos. "The docks!" exclaimed Bonnie. they ran in the direction of the docks. but it was falling on deaf ears... "Look!" directed Gumball." muttered Amy. she's been here!" muttered Gumball. A silent gasp came from around the table as they reacted to the man's body jerking to the whip's touch. but the door was locked. Monk. Clark. 147 . "Which way did she go?" asked Bonnie. "Yeah. God. with Gumball right behind her. The people pointed and Bonnie and Gumball kicked it into gear. as everybody watched and prayed. "Oh. Ahead. Dot slowly returned to her chair. right!" Once outside. and was being attended to by those who witnessed the attack. "This is inconclusive. The lights automatically dimmed. "Show her. and Vassilicos froze the image as the rings came into sharp resolution. Both Gumball and Bonnie tried getting her attention by calling her name. "Where could she go?" Renny asked. Everybody waited to see what she would do next. Dot was silent with shock as she got to her feet and slowly moved closer to the screen." The Greek conceded with a tight nod. and headed towards a disturbance. "Yeah . "How can you be sure this is Perry?" "Observe. There was something happening down there. "The only thing that's out there are the docks. A security guard was down. she muttered sarcastically. something which became apparent as the image grew clearer. "Which direction?" Vassilicos pointed. He looked over at Vassilicos. He called up the images to display on the large monitor. They jumped over two more unconscious guards before they reached the end of the dock." said Vassilicos without emphasis. The image focused on the back of the head and the hands draped over the top of the cross. Dot was untying a high-powered speedboat from the dock.

and just held her. she swiveled her chair around to face the frantic Dot. Bonnie caught her with one arm while pulling back on the throttle with the other. "He might even be . lady. making a desperate leap which landed her in the craft a few feet behind Dot. "I need to make sure you don't try something I'll regret. and clipped Dot just behind the left ear with the edge of her hand. 148 . "DOT!" she yelled over the roar of the engine." Bonnie said into the radio's microphone. "Not a chance. "Now I feel safer. you'd have jeopardized the whole rescue mission!" "But Perry needs me!" Bonnie stopped the boat. "Just where the heck did you think you were going. thought Bonnie. Dot came to. Lowering Dot to the deck. and stared at her while she continued to struggle. as if I didn't know?" "MY HUSBAND IS HURT!" she screamed through panted breathing. you asked for it." she looked down at Dot. and concentrated on the radio. Okay. * * * "Roger. "Allright!" whooped Gumball. Dot!" she argued." As they headed back to shore. "If you'd have pulled a Jack Bauer. I have to go after him!" "You're not thinking. put her arms around Dot.. Dot ignored her. "We'll see you in a few minutes. she struggled while yelling to be cut loose. She grunted once and went down. but Bonnie gritted her teeth and sprinted harder. The boat was starting to drift away as they reached the end of the dock. she saw that the boat had a radio. but she moved forward until she was behind Dot's chair.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD She was on a mission.she reached across. little girl. Then Bonnie did the unexpected . lady!" Bonnie called back over her shoulder." she smiled. "STOP THIS BOAT NOW!" Not unexpectedly. Bonnie hung on just as Dot kicked in the throttle and the boat rocketed forwards. "But first. dying.. Gumball put on the brakes. The acceleration was hard to resist. As it bobbed gently in the open waters." Bonnie propped Dot up in one of the boat's chairs and secured her arms to it with some duct tape from a storage locker.

. then turned to face the boat's controls and continued to the dock. and then we let them go!" "I . Bonnie cut the bonds of duct tape. for God's sake . "We're gonna get him together . Bonnie took out a utility knife. "They'll either toss you into the stockade." muttered Dot. But if you dare try another stupid move like this." Bonnie declared calmly. I swear I'll break your leg before I let you put anybody else's life in jeopardy." Dot was silent.okay?" Dot slowly nodded.he was standing in the gap for all those kids." soothed Bonnie. "Blast you. But we all need you in one piece. I need you in one piece. A crowd was waiting for them there. he couldn't. Do you understand me?" The two women stared each other down for a full minute. 149 . "This doesn't look good." she panted. Finally the love broke through. "Soon.it's just not possible! So we pray like mad for God to keep'em safe.. "Sugah . "Think about it ." She paused. Then Dot nodded." agreed Bonnie.and now I understand why. know. She continued. "Now. and you're not going after Perry unless you snap out of it NOW!" Dot froze. He had to make himself a visible target in order to keep the heat off of them." Dot whimpered with tears. "Do you know why I chose your team rather than Clark's? God showed me to . "Look. Sugah. their eyes meeting. but Bonnie kept holding her and loving her. "As much as we want to. Dot. like a mother holding a child in the midst of a tantrum.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Dot continued to struggle. Perry knew what he was getting into! We both know that! He knew he was the only one who could do it!" "But he could've used the ring and gotten away!" "No. or hire you to train their security staff. "Why did you stop me? I have to do something! I just have to do something!" "You will do something. Dot!" she barked.. "Uh huh.." Bonnie paused. You need me. and he needs us." "Why? Why?" Dot wailed. I'm going to cut you free." she countered. still holding on. "The last thing any of us wants is for you to become a basket case! We need you in one piece! I am not going after Perry without you. "But why?" Bonnie's attitude suddenly did a one-eighty. "Perry's not a warrior. we can't protect our men all the time .he's a peacemaker! Why would God let this happen to him?" Bonnie released Dot and faced her. and Dot didn't fight what she was saying. including Vassilicos and the guards Dot had 'encountered'. "Snap out of it.

"Horses. "It's just like ridin' a bicycle. but the Bikes were trashed. are ya?" quipped Renny with a grin. He crashed into the row of Strike Bikes waiting for us. Apparently one of Vassilicos' men was returning from a much-needed time of R&R. Bixby waited for it to subside before continuing. "I'm sure they'll let you go. "We'll gather back here in fifteen minutes..." * * * Bixby convened a meeting for the members of Team Alpha in a corner of the hangar. okay. without fear of reprisal.." There was a murmuring from the crowd. "Dismissed. "However.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Hang in there. and plowed through the gate. It's a bit radical from what we were intending. raising an eyebrow. "The horses have gone through extensive training.." Dot blinked and sighed. When he had everyone's attention.. but I believe it will work. "Thanks. Johnny" comforted Renny." replied Bixby with a hint of a grin. but no one walked away." "'Scuse me. including me.. he announced. "But bicycles don't whinny! 'Sides. "I'm sure you're all aware of the emergency that was taking place when we were landing." Bixby informed them. "That's like saying the Great Flood was just a little drizzle! It's been years since I've ridden a horse. I just hope I remember how. Bixby declared. what if they start bucking once we're on the water?" "Watsamatta . There was a pronounced disturbance from the crowd. "Now I can tell you what happened. alternative mode of transportation." * * * "Radical?" commented Johnny. joining the group." interrupted Monk." He paused while several voices acknowledged him. "You wanna back out?" 150 . they won't react to distractions." Bonnie comforted." he continued. They got the driver out okay. and had been somewhat ." Bixby paused as a collective groan erupted from the men and women of the team. Ivan." The crowd was silent at this unusual offer. They'll also be wearing a form of Paradox body armor that will allow them to move freely while being impervious to most small arms fire. Vassilicos has offered us an . He passed out at the wheel of his truck." "You'll do fine. incapacitated. "Mr. there's too many of us around here who'll stand behind you. you're not scared. putting a hand on his shoulder. "Anyone who wants to back out of the operation is free to do so." "How radical we talking about?" yelled Monk.

Renny turned and mumbled something under his breath. He'd been beaten by Franklin." commented Pat. Renny!" "I wasn't cussin'!" he defended.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Monk raised himself up and shot back a glare. then whipped by Deuce. "I need to pray. but Bonnie stopped her.which you are!" Renny blocked a punch from the simian chemist and stuck his tongue out at Monk. wait a minnit! You told me you'd stop cussin' in Russian." "Oh. Pat!" replied Jill. The crew's in the area." he responded. "Sure. * * * "The radio!" "I got it. "Dot and Bonnie's part in the plans will be to rescue Perry and get him to the infirmary. if one 'o them nags tosses me. "Does Dot know?" "She was told when they arrived in Greece. "Now. Pat moved in closer. laughing like the old friends they were. "I just called you a wuss ." wailed Pat. "Sunrise will be in less than two hours!" Mitch informed. "They've got him hanging on the cross in the central plaza. Mitch!" sighed Pat. Lord. and everything is go for dawn. moving closer to the microphone. "Hang in there just a little longer!" "Okay. too. "You wanna join me?" Jill looked back at her friend. "How're you doing?" "Missin' you. our scans say he's still alive. Johnny moved between them. "Mitch?" "Yeah. but we don't know any more than that. Monk moved in until he was face-to-face with Renny." "Thank you." Jill commented. switching on the transceiver." she said softly. you two! Save it for them!" Monk and Renny fell into an embrace. "Me back out? No way! But I promise you. "Me. She attempted to steal a boat. Can you?" "Yeah. and tried to gang up on Johnny. "Knock it off." they both said. and ended the conversation." "I don't blame her." "We can't see how Perry is doing." 151 ." he answered soberly. you're gonna nurse me back to health!" He poked Renny in the chest for emphasis.

. it gives strength.." Clark and I were sitting in the Black Beauty. I do not fight like a man beating the air. they need more oxygen. And I could definitely feel the pain. "I found an interesting Bible reference that might help. Okay.. our 25-foot van camper home-away-from-home. "Two beats in .. and repeat.. * * * "Breathing?" I looked at Clark with a puzzled expression. and tried to focus on the beating of my heart and the action of my breathing. When oxygen enters your bloodstream... but couldn't move. for me. stress does not exist. New York City and the mysterious Dorothy Brooks were still miles ahead of us. I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. Sure.." I acknowledged. two beats hold . when they're under stress. and the driving was rather boring at the moment. My breathing . trying to see his point. "Observe people who smoke. I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others. 152 . Pain does not exist.." * * * Back then.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD * * * My 'time-out' was over.. envision it strengthening your bloodstream . don't you?" he said with an upraised eyebrow.." I commented.. Feel it happening .. and I was back on the cross. it all sounded so weird. "'Do you not know that in a race all the runners run. Bring the air down into your diaphragm and hold it. So many people breathe so ." He paused. I've seen that. it all starts with breathing. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. It's from Second Corinthians. Fear does not exist. I was conscious. No. so I don't know how to breathe correctly. "You're talking self discipline. which didn't leave me much.. When people are under stress..'" "Okay. and he'd triple the number of cigarettes he'd burn when he was stressed out. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly." Yeah. I tried listening to the sounds around me.. Anxiety does not exist. They do it to get a crown that will not last. "It starts with breathing. then turned it inward. I tried to focus on anything but the pain . breathing faster but not breathing better. two beats out .. Where do we start?" Clark described as he breathed. metaphysical: "When you breathe properly.. but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.. uncontrollably." He nodded.. they expend the cigarette at a faster rate because they're sucking in air through it at a faster rate . They breathe faster. but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." "Yeah. "You want to know more about my exercise routine. so . "Well. "Jack used to be a smoker. but they don't always breathe regular.

The other man was taller and thinner than he.. and took a couple of steps to meet him.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD But it was sound advice from a friend. Standing behind the rear ramp of the black Chinook CH-47 helicopter. * * * It was time to go. "I love you. then broke free and walked over to Clark. I'll be there to make sure she sticks to the plan and doesn't do anything stupid. concerned. since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. two beats in . Their hands met.." "Same here. how are you doing?" "I'm okay. and sported a white goatee and 153 ... She looked back and sighed. I decided to become as a marathon runner. holsters attached to both legs held twin Superfirers. strengthening my blood like little electric pulses. two beats out. She said something to Dot about saving her a seat. two beats hold .. and they kissed. the author and perfecter of our faith. But she's ready... or what pain I felt .. two beats out . the pain was somebody else's. And with God's strength. Each of them wore identical rocket packs and black Paradox jumpsuits with sections of body armor protecting vital organs. and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. I started breathing . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. "How's Dot?" he asked. watching me. scorning its shame. Take care. who for the joy set before him endured the cross. "Now. "She's pushin' herself. Clark neared the helicopter. so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. * * * Standing at the ramp to the hovercraft. and a clear facemask hung from his belt. I closed my eyes and pictured the oxygen cells in my bloodstream. two beats in .' I know you're out there.. so they settled for a mutual squeeze of the hands and a kiss. For a moment it didn't matter where I was. Major Bixby sighted another man walking his way. then separated.. I won't let you down. He was dressed in a similar jumpsuit. thirty-some men and women moved aboard. A passage from the book of Hebrews came to my mind: 'Therefore.." They kissed once more. but focus instead on the end of the race. two beats hold . He got Bonnie's attention and beckoned her over to him. A web belt held several magnetic-closure pockets. Clark watched her vanish into the helicopter before he headed to the staging area for the huge cargo hovercraft." Hugging was impossible with all their gear.. I wasn't going to dwell on the aches and pains of the moment." "I'm glad." he nodded back. Some carried weapons and equipment unique to their teams. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men.. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God..

the righteous Judge. which the Lord. If I am to go on living in the body. I have kept the faith." Parker walked away and Bixby boarded the hovercraft. Bonnie will make him a fine wife. Oh. it hurts! I couldn't feel my arms anymore. I was determined that if this was to be the end of my race. and the craft quietly sped away. but with a patch identifying himself as the same rank as Bixby "Oliver." The two men shook. this will mean fruitful labor for me. Tom said that today wasn't my day to die. but there's so much to do. It wobbled a bit as it turned. He knew his time was up.. But I know Dot's in good hands. And you?" "Yes. The captain ordered all ahead full. and he wasn't afraid." He consulted his watch. * * * 154 .. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness. which is better by far. Thy will be done.' Paul's last words to Timothy.' Okay. to live is Christ and to die is gain. "Likewise. Major Parker. See you on the playing field. I'd go unafraid. "We'll give you twenty minutes before taking off. * * * God. Major Bixby." replied the other man. both men wore the familiar black jumpsuits. That should put us both at the island at the same time." acknowledged Bixby with a respectful tilt of the head. will award to me on that day--and not only to me. And I just didn't have the strength to open my eyes against the lights around me – it's was just too bright. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD moustache. "Are your men ready?" "Yes. I tried focusing. But was I really somewhere else . I have finished the race. "Raymond. Lord! And I want so badly to be around for it. but also to all who have longed for his appearing. or had my mind been playing tricks on me? No . He didn't want to die either. "Good luck. but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. The ramp raised and the skirts inflated." He reached out a hand.don't doubt! Focus! Focus on scripture! 'I have fought the good fight. You'll take good care of her and Clark. then slid easily down the ramp and onto the water. 'For to me.

Bixby was supervising a crew equipped with bazooka-like shoulder-fired devices. I really wish I'd had a camera to get the expressions on your faces!" "Well. The three looked at him with various degrees of confusion.. "Last year. Then he laughed out loud. reaching out a hand of congratulations. The sound of its destruction reached them a second later." "But why did you wait until now to say somethin' about it?" asked Monk. Now had it ever occurred to you that.. and his eyes narrowed. Their celebration was interrupted by the sound of an explosion between them and the island.a Christian institute of learning ." the elderly archaeologist replied. and was wishing I had a camera to capture this moment!" "I thought you didn't believe in the Apocalypse. "What's with you?" asked Monk. when I had all of you in the same place at the same time. Praise the Lord!" muttered Renny. deliberately mispronouncing his title." He let go another laugh. "I'll be right back!" He moved to the front of the hovercraft. during all that time. the missile exploded in mid-air while it was still a distance away. "When. "And you call yourselves a detective! You know. the horses weren't affected by the motion of the hovercraft. Perfesser. for the past two years. "You're a . "Incoming!" somebody yelled.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Just as Vassilicos had said. I've been at CSI . But then. "Naw!" "Holy cow!" mouthed Renny. brother?" asked Clark. Christian?" Johnny simply smiled.educating young minds in the Christian aspects of archaeology. I was just noticing what kind of odd 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' we must look like. 155 . Johnny huffed. They stayed calm. Everybody turned to see the fireworks. Johnny caressed the mane of his steed and glanced over at Clark. some truth would've sunk into this dusty old noggin of mine?" He tapped his forehead and continued to stare at them. Towards the mouth of the hovercraft. "Oh. Finally Monk tilted his head forward and blurted out. His attention was pulled towards the trail of a missile heading straight for them from the island. "On my birthday. "I wanted to pick the right time. "Oh. without warning. Then Clark's face broke into a grin. but he remained silent. handing the reins to Renny. decked out in their own black Paradox armor plating. "I'm going to see what's going on. Monk." Monk quipped. and Renny." informed Clark.

you know what I mean. Like angels of darkness. They tried destroying the slower hovercraft once it got within range. once it got close enough. What they didn't expect. but all of their missiles had exploded mysteriously in midair. they extended their arms and slowed their velocity. "No.. we're about seven minutes out! I’m calling for some air support!" "Acknowledged!" * * * "You ain't still ticked at me. Dot?" Dot turned to Bonnie. she shook her head.. quickly neutralizing the threat. they would open fire with their automatic rifles and grenades and kill them all. and was an inescapable tsunami that took out everyone caught in its wake. as they passed over the main body of soldiers.. was a preemptive strike from above." "Even when I'm not there. But . Then. With the enemy troops stunned and confused by their presence.. a specially-equipped squad maneuvered into a flying wing formation as they flew over the island. "We're taking them out with Bradshaw EMPG's!" "Fascinating!" "Pass the word ." Bonnie nodded. and their eyes met through the clear facemasks." A signal horn squawked three times in succession. the rocket-powered troops descended on the freighter with superfirers and anesthetic gas grenades.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Bixby had been standing nearby. Simultaneously. "DEPLOY!" * * * The soldiers aboard the Andronicus had spotted the hovercraft and the helicopter. "BLUE SQUADRON!" yelled Major Parker. they unleashed a virtual hailstorm of mercy bullets. 156 ." he informed him. "Satellite surveillance told us they had surface-to-surface or surface-to-air missiles. "Ready?" "Let's do it!" They adjusted their gear as they stood and moved into twin ranks at the rear of the helicopter. drawing all eyes towards the front. are ya. "Showtime." added Dot. It's not easy. Assuming the missiles were somehow defective. He walked over to Clark and explained. The continuous barrage was thirty yards wide and a half mile long. "Especially when we're not there. "Yeah. however. But we've got to let 'em do what God's directed 'em to do." commented Bonnie under her breath. they fell back on laying in wait for the craft.

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD

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"Team Beta to Team Alpha!" reported Major Parker. "We've cleared the water trap and the fairway! You're clear to play through! Happy hunting, Ray!" Major Bixby's face beamed, and he instructed the hovercraft pilot to move in. The craft smoothly slid next to the dock, and doors opened as wide ramps extended for them. Bixby swung up onto his horse and raised an arm for attention. "All right, you cowboys!" he addressed the rest of his troops via the transceiver in his helmet. "The way is clear! You know your assignments! Let's not keep'em waiting! Hansen, hit it!" Robert Hansen stood next to the ramps, high on a platform. In his hand was the bugle that had been in his family since the 1800's. It had been said that the bugle had been used to lead the troops at the Battle of Red Fern. Now, two hundred years later, it was his honor to signal the beginning of the attack in the same way. He raised it to his lips, took a breath, and blew Charge. In the cool early morning air, the sound carried almost mystically across the entire island. With a yell of "CHARGE!" Major Bixby sent his horse into a gallop and tore across the hovercraft's ramps and onto the dock, with the rest of his troops right behind him. * * *

"What's that?" asked Kenji, his ears picking up the bugle's call. "It's the Calvary, Kenji!" Pat Savage replied with tears and laughter, hugging the boy. "The good guys are here!" * * *

Franklin cursed the fates. Everything was going bad – very bad! His plans to kill Pat Savage and Jill Woodward had been foiled by that disgusting Christian Liston. And, if his Hidalgo bank account was indeed no more, there was little recourse for him but retreat to 'fight another day'. He hadn't slept much. There was too much going on, and the uneasy feeling wouldn't go away. It was finally given form when he was informed that intruders were approaching from the sea. He ordered them to use the missiles to destroy them, and was pleased at the sounds of explosions. But then they told him the missiles never hit home, but blew up in mid-air. Franklin cursed Avery for giving him defective material, and started to leave his quarters to personally oversee the attack. But then the sky filled with men wearing jet packs, mowing down his troops like wheat before the scythe. It was like some bizarre science-fiction movie, he thought as he kept under cover. Yes, now was the time to retreat. But he would have the final word. He would have his vengeance on this island.

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The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD As he turned to return to his quarters, he saw Deuce running towards the central plaza; she was gripping her whip tightly with both hands. He stopped her – barely, for her expression mirrored her madness – and asked her where she was going. Through gritted teeth, she cursed and said, "I'm going to finish off that Christian!" Franklin didn't dare stop her. "Okay! I'm headin' for the boat! You got twenty minutes, then I'm gone - got it?" She acknowledged his words, and continued running. Franklin already had his Glock automatic holstered to his side, as he retrieved the duffle bag from underneath his cot. He removed the remote detonator for the bomb, and the canister of Sarin gas. Remembering the instructions, he set the detonator's timer for an hour to coincide with the coagulant fuse for the Sarin, and pushed the button to set things into motion; a light next to the button glowed a deep green. He replaced it in the duffle. Then he held the canister of Sarin gas - even now, it was difficult for him to him to imagine that something so small had the capacity of killing every living being on the island - and pulled the pin to activate the coagulant fuse. He was about to put it into the duffle when he heard a voice outside call his name. A moment later, Captain Sandoval ran into the quarters. The look on his face was frantic. "General Franks – there you are!" He paused, then pointed at the Sarin canister. "General! What is that?" Franklin lied. "Haven't you ever seen a fire extinguisher? Now, what is it?" "Flying men have seized the ship and have sent death from the skies!" Sandoval reported excitedly. "And now men on horses are stampeding across the island! We shoot at them, but they cannot be killed! What do we do?" "Calm down, Captain!" Franklin calmly put the Sarin canister into the duffle, zipping the bag closed and attaching a small lock to the zipper pulls. "Continue the battle! These are not gods, but only men! Assemble your men in one of the barracks and take the children as hostages! If you do that, they will have no choice but to listen to you! Do you understand, Captain?" "Sì, General!" "Go!" barked Franklin. Captain Sandoval gave a quick salute and headed back outside. With a self-satisfying smile, Franklin muttered softly, "Suckers!" He placed the duffle back where it had been. The gas would escape through the bag, he reminded himself. Then he headed outside and started running in the opposite direction of the fighting. His escape boat would carry him and Deuce to safety before all hell broke loose. He didn't get far before he found his way blocked by the mounted troops Sandoval had reported. He couldn't get past them without being spotted. Cursing rapidly, he resigned himself to taking the long way around to get to the boat - a move which would cost him valuable time. * * *

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The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD My mind drifted and wandered like a cork caught in a storm, and it hurt every time I tried to take a breath. I pictured myself at Long Tom's funeral, speaking of the promise God gave to his people: "In my father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, that you may be with me also." I don't know how long I can hold on. I can't move anymore ... or maybe I just don't want to move because it hurts so. I don't know. How long, O Lord? Will you forsake me forever? Tom? I could really use another 'time out' here, Tom! I could hear sounds overhead, but my vision was blurred. Angels? Swing low, sweet chariot. Comin' for to carry me home. I took another painful breath. I want to go home, Lord. I want to go home. Then the angels came for me. * * *

"OKAY, FIREBIRDS! BY THE NUMBERS! FLAME ON! GO! GO! GO! GO!" "Okay," commented Bonnie, taking another step forward. "Here we go!" Three teams to go ... two teams to go ... one ... they were next. Each team waited at the doorway for the green light. Then they stepped out into the air and sped away on a trail of rocket fire. Dot and Bonnie came to the head of the line. Dot looked out at the island below and whispered, "Hold fast, my love! I'm coming!" The light turned green, and they stepped out of the helicopter. Because of the portable floodlights, they couldn't touch down right next to where Perry was, but landed a few yards away instead. The element of surprise was on their side, as well as the element of mystery. Their gear gave them a psychological advantage, making them appear more menacing than they actually were. They'd had their choice of personal weaponry, and Dot chose a familiar one. She had called it the Equalizer, and it was a portable clip-fed 40mm grenade launcher. As they touched down, she swung it around and started firing round after round into the midst of the enemy soldiers. The last time she'd used the Equalizer, in the Valley of the Vanished, the clip alternated between rounds of high explosive and rounds containing anesthetic gas. This time, however, she unleashed a full clip of fragmentation rounds with mercy-bullet shrapnel. The effect was dramatic, as soldiers went down like tenpins. Meanwhile, Bonnie and her twin Superfirers picked off individual soldiers with unerring accuracy. Discarding the empty weapon, Dot jogged the last few yards to the fountain. Seeing Perry this close, with all the bloody gashes in his back, she unsuccessfully held back tears. She pulled off a glove and reached up to his neck to feel for a pulse.

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but she recognized something about the newcomer. A memory from the Valley of the Vanished. but followed their fellows' lead and headed off to another part of the battle. okay?" she called. Remembering that this woman was another one of those Christians. "Perry! Perry! Can you hear me?" He did not respond. as she expertly cracked the whip about her. The special foam filled in the tubes. Deuce's expression didn't change. Then.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Oh. Standing tall. Deuce was holding several soldiers at bay with her whip. Bonnie drew and flicked open a switchblade and sliced through his bonds. we've got Perry!" she reported. Then they lowered him onto the stretcher. expanding and solidifying within seconds. She quickly unrolled the tarp. "Deuce. "BACK AWAY FROM HER! SHE'S MINE!" The others glanced back to see what was going on. waiting for Dot to get within range. She drew back the whip for an easy strike. "I'll be right back!" Bonnie knew better than to argue the point with her. she swung forward with all her might. Dot's eyes narrowed. then twisted the end of the metal rod. and turned the tarp into an instant emergency stretcher. Pulling off her facemask.. their ears caught the distinct snap of leather. she walked straight towards the altercation. "Okay? Okay?" Dot was determined. "Just don't kill her. 160 . Dot froze in place and looked behind her. But after only a few yards. "Let's get him down!" Dot ordered. good work!" Carrying the stretcher like they'd practiced. "He's unconscious but alive! We're taking him to the infirmary!" "Acknowledged . at the right moment. thank God!" she sighed. gave her a quick acknowledgement and moved away. and understood why she was behaving like this. causing the highlycompressed contents to be injected into tubes running parallel along the sides.I'll cut the ropes!" While Dot carefully held him around the waist. "We've got Perry . Bonnie had removed from her back what appeared to be a rolled-up plastic tarp with a solid metal rod on the outer edge. She rested her end of the stretcher on the ground. they started making their way towards the infirmary. "Stretcher's set! You grab him . she yelled. "Okay!" Bonnie reported.." she growled under her breath.repeat. "Clayton to Bixby!" "Bixby. the look on her face was one of maniacal glee. those who recognized her. The rest were confused. go!" came the clipped response. Bonnie tapped the transceiver in her ear.

"This is the last time you'll hurt anyone I love. taking another step forward as she did. Renny. It caught her in the face with such force that she spun around twice before collapsing to the ground as if her skeletal structure had suddenly decided to go on vacation. Monk. and she spoke slowly and deliberately. smiled thinly. Then Dot's hand plucked the end of the whip right out of Deuce's grip.. Dot continued walking forward. Many of the soldiers ran at the sight of these horses from Hell. and Johnny looked like something out of a futuristic version of a Wagnerian opera. of course.. Their efforts were futile. Dot's arm moved faster than Deuce could imagine. matter-of-factly.. Reflexively. last ." "Thank you. Deuce! The . giving her the whip. she took in the slack on the whip and let it wrap around her forearm until the two women were practically nose-to-nose. Her teeth were clenched.the man YOU used THIS on!" She showed Deuce the end of the whip. "Do .. Deuce knew that the whip had to have hurt the other woman. Deuce slowly nodded. Dot looked down at the unconscious woman. Deuce stepped back.. Dot's voice was low and menacing. "Much. but the other woman wouldn't budge..The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD But the whip never made it. me?" Dot said in a low growl. With each step. * * * Clark." she replied.. Dressed in their black armored outfits and matching facemasks. as they were dropped by enhanced fire from the Superfirers. "Y-yes.. with only a handful trying to obstruct their course.. to knock her opponent offbalance." she said cordially. and Deuce saw something else as the woman closed the distance between them. remember . And she felt fear. 161 . time!" Deuce was so involved in watching the whip in Dot's left hand that she never saw the right fist coming for her. and her hand snatched it with a cobra-like grip. "Souvenir. "Feel better?" asked Bonnie. these Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rode side-by-side towards their destination. then turned and walked back to where Perry and Bonnie were." She angled her head in the direction of Perry and Bonnie. "Shall we go?" They lifted the stretcher and swiftly moved towards the infirmary. you . but there was no hint of it on the other woman's face. Deuce tried jerking on her end. The leather tip wrapped around her forearm. "That is MY husband on the stretcher back there ..

guys! Is Spook okay?" "Spook?" asked Monk." added Renny. Clark silently dismounted while Johnny remained at the higher vantage point. Things never change. Clark and Johnny looked at one another. they saw Renny placing another soldier atop a neatly-stacked pile of bodies. she had a couple of children by the hands." replied Monk. With a roar that must've shaken the unprepared soldiers." Pat laughed. Monk. "These don't look like motorcycles. "Clark. Kenji was the first one out. Shots continued to ring out from behind. Then she hugged Johnny.. "I'll explain it later. "We're gonna go an' exercise our rights. then they were out in the open. They all are. 162 ." agreed Clark. "Last-minute substitution. Monk removed his mask to get a better look. then tapped Renny on the shoulder and pointed.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Ahead. "The bad guys didn't find us! Aunt Patty . The area around the mess hall building appeared to be clear." Pat replied to Kenji with a smile. Monk and Renny attacked the truck from both ends. a familiar grin on his homely face. "Let's go!" As they rode past the truck. Renny nodded." Monk said. He gave the 'all clear' signal to Johnny. do they?" Kenji suddenly sprang up. continuing to the mess hall. "They're okay." "Yeah . you know – the invisible guy!" "Perry!" Monk exclaimed.I think he's family!" Pat came through the door just as Monk and Renny rode up. and maybe a few lefts. unashamedly crying in their arms. but then abruptly ended. his senses open to any anomaly. the door opened. me an' Renny will take'em out." she commented.. Monk gave them a wave and a toothy grin. and Renny. and the archaeologist dismounted." "Yep. Clark slowly swung his Superfirer in a 360-degree arc. "My 'black knights'." he announced." commented Johnny. He was in his element. "He's family. causing them to stop and take cover. "It's okay!" he said with hands raised. As they started to move inside. "Hey. Jill came out and did a double-take at the horses. "We'll catch up with you in a couple minutes. "Yeah. a group of soldiers shot at them from behind a truck. raising a meaty fist. "Yeah. "It's just like old times. here to rescue the damsels in distress." Clark came to her and they embraced. running towards the shooters. thought Clark.

Cunningham. concentrating on not accidentally triggering it. Dr. Aunt Patty.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "He's alive. so her instincts were finely honed. "Quick. you know that area's off-limits. Pat! I'll check out the boat!" He turned the horse and galloped off." Clark. Bonnie answered. Dr. Then she got to work on cleaning and bandaging his wounds. and knew she'd be busy real soon. 163 . "Okay. Diane." "Escape boat!" exclaimed Renny. "His quarters were over there. maybe. After making a swift check of Perry's vital signs. you don't want to see what this ring is capable of doing. Cunningham now sprang into action. who had mounted his horse during this exchange." reported Clark. Cunningham work. And I saw a little boat over on the north side. but we don't know how he's doing!" "What about Franklin?" Monk asked Kenji. guiding them to the examination table." Once the ring was clear. "Go get'em. "Why?" asked Dr. "Kenji. "How big? What kind of motor?" "Not big . Dot exclaimed. Pacing back and forth from looking out the door to making sure their emergency room was prepped and ready for business.. "Hold it! Let me get his ring off!" Then without another word she took Perry's right hand and began to ease the ring off his finger. "Trust me. too. she started hooking him up to monitors and intravenous feeds. "They took him to the infirmary. "You seen him?" Kenji pointed. "And what have I said about smoking on the island?" "So sue me!" He hung his head. Pat leaned in.. "Set him down easy!" As they started to move away and let Dr. replenishing his blood and fluids. Motor was kinda small. Dot and Bonnie assisted by handing her items and following orders. bring him over here!" she called. I'm busted. interceded. * * * From the infirmary. "Go easy on him. Diane Cunningham had seen the overture of this combat concerto. she'd been an ER doctor in Chicago. "I'm sorry. ten feet. Before God had called her to work on Caroline Island. cowboy!" said Pat with a smile." "A boat?" asked Renny. I was coppin' a smoke. Dot backed away and carefully placed it in a pocket of her jumpsuit." Pat gave him a stern look. Why were you over there?" Kenji shuffled his feet a moment before finally confessing. she saw Dot and Bonnie approaching with Perry.

.." Diane quickly added. But he's still unconscious. and his vitals look promising. Then she gave Dot a final hug and headed out the door. "There's nothing we can do for him now but pray. "I will. My place is here. Cunningham. 1995. It's your call.enemy soldiers who had become separated from the group and could pose a problem because they were unpredictable. She'd been among 164 . this is a good thing. "We'll keep a close eye on Perry.. she's okay! But I had to put her into an artificial coma so that she could heal.." She rose and checked her equipment." Dot looked down at the floor." Dot nodded. she decided that she could best serve by searching for stragglers . recognizing the name. he may have lapsed into a coma due to the pain." She managed a half-smile. "Considering the severity of his injuries. Once they had him hooked up. and they moved Perry into the room next to ER." She met Dot's eyes. "We were concentrating on rescuing Perry. I need to get back into the battle. and Bonnie slipped an arm around her to steady her. And his monitors will signal me if anything changes. I've done all I can . "She's okay." Bonnie hugged her friend. and had waged a bloody campaign against the helpless population." whispered Dot. moving about could make things worse. We've done what we can. we'll soon be receiving casualties." "All right. He's stable." Dot's face paled. She pulled off a pair of rubber gloves with a snap and sighed. "She was shot by one of Franklin's goons!" explained Dr.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD After several tense minutes. Rebels had taken over the area. then at Bonnie." answered Bonnie. She concentrated on the buildings away from the main action. "Go. how bad is the fighting?" "I don't know." "What happened to Jade?" asked Bonnie. and a major campaign that had some tragic results. June. now it's up to God to bring him the rest of the way. As she did her mind went back to her earlier years as a mercenary. It's what I had to do to Jade. the three of them stepped into the next room." "Then let's move Perry next door. raising a hand against Bonnie's concerns. we should know more within the next twelve hours. "In one respect. * * * Since the official part of her 'assignment' was over. But be careful. Freetown. "Moving him won't make things any worse. If it's as bad as it sounds. Sierra Leone. And I'll be back as soon as I can. "Okay. Finally the government agreed to bring in mercenaries. but if you don't need me. and this room will be getting a lot of use. where a straggler would try to hide until things were clear. Bonnie told Dot. "Tell me." She turned back to Dot and took her hand. his body can heal naturally. While he's unconscious. "You know I'm here if you need me .

She encountered few stragglers along the way. Feeling a sharp jolt in her right leg. and I was glad I did. 'peacekeepers' – who didn't know what they were up against or what they were doing. hitting and running. but couldn't find a way of getting a clear shot without exposing herself. she could see it. just a few yards away. quietly putting them to sleep with her superfirer. and she thanked God that no children had been involved. a way of getting the draw on them. She looked around for an angle. since they not only outnumbered her in manpower and she assumed . hitting and running . and they were the ones who were defeated in the end. Another merc suggested bailing out when that happened. She removed her mask so the villagers would recognize her and not mistake her as one of the enemy. she remembered.N. but her transceiver had fallen out of her ear when she dove for cover. Even though the peacekeepers outnumbered the rebels. they'd shoot her before they'd let her get the upper hand on them. and things got ugly. she vowed. and these people were her friends. though. 165 . they'd close in on her like a pack of rabid wolves.and the rebels never had a chance. However. thank God for the Paradox body armor. pinning her down in the doorway.in firepower. then taking them on hand-to-hand once she was in range. They immediately turned on her. It had been a cake walk so far. We were heroes. the local government had brought in fifteen thousand blue berets – U. Once her ammunition was gone.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD them. Images of wounded and dead children in Africa flooded her mind. She tried radioing out. and another one in her right arm. Cursing herself for not having anything heavier with which to open the heavy fire door at her back. * * * Bonnie emerged from the barracks through the fire door. looking for stragglers. they couldn't fight like we could. The rebels moved back in with a vengeance. No more. She considered surrendering. And the Paradox armor would be useless if one of these yahoos got in a lucky shot on her head or neck. considering the caution in their own attack. making sure no one could get in after her. The next thing I knew. It might as well have been a mile away for all the good it was. But then they started judging us as racists just because our skin was white. However. she would not let the same thing happen here! Bonnie moved cautiously from building to building. firing without taking time to aim properly. It had been a quick surgical strike. Bonnie fired back as well as possible. By God. This island was her home. She turned only to find herself face-to-face with five stragglers who were trying to find their way back to the main body. she knew their aim was improving. she fought back as best she could while rationing her ammunition.

with an emergency surge of adrenaline. they had avoided her head and neck. With a feral yell of rage. turned. He'd secretly hoped she'd gotten herself killed off. and the concussion picked her up and sent her flying towards the building. as the last soldier had gone down. expecting to get off the island. Pat's cousin. and quietly growled. He knew they wouldn't be able to get far enough away before the bomb and the sarin went off. dear Deuce. leaving only the pain of multiple impacts. Bonnie saw the grenade and. rolled away and tried to scramble towards the cover of the building. she rushed out of the doorway. she thought. though. Alerted. he released the explosive to fulfill his vengeance. sending her flying back and sprawling onto the ground with a thud. Fortunately. Another Christian. not with two people in the boat . "But I've always been a survivor. The Paradox armor deflected almost all of their fire. hitting her again and again. and took it. She had her advantage. he was surprised she was actually able to reach him.. With her final shots she was able to take out the quintet. walking over and looking down at her. * * * Franklin's detour had cost him valuable time. they all opened fire on her. the boat won't be able to get far enough away with two people on board. With her face bruised and bloodied. It was that big bronze guy . The blast hurt her ears. However. when he got to the boat. we delayed too long.." she slurred through swollen lips.. he thought.. I'm afraid I'm going to have to break that promise." Then he holstered the Glock. "I actually did like you. "Danny. However. That is. He hid the gun behind his back as Deuce reached him. Deuce. unholstering the automatic and taking off the safety. and headed for the boat at a fast walk." he said. 166 . but no here she was. She saw the wall of the building coming at her very fast. The slug went into her. She didn't see the grenade until it was too close." The gun appeared from behind his back and fired once. I don't think so. and she lay on the ground exhausted and hurting. someone else was there. "Danny! Danny!" He heard Deuce's voice. "We've lost! We've got to get away from here!" "I couldn't agree with you more. I promised you I wouldn't do anything stupid.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Clark. Then there was darkness.

and thus missed out on a clean kill. "YOU WON'T STOP ME!" he yelled. "Acknowledged. is . and this . the look of madness was dissipating from his face.. knowing you're going with me!" "Going with you? You still don't have a clue. He had aimed for the chest and not the head.. "From the first time we met. wrenching it loose.. His own rage made the repeated impacts of no consequence. he tossed the Glock effortlessly over his shoulder. Sandoval didn't know that it was Sarin gas.. Franklin was not. Then the guy actually started walking in his direction. but the other man grabbed him by the belt and pulled him back.. Franklin actually feared the man would carry out his threat. Did they tell you about 167 .. Wading through the barrage of bullets had been easy. The big man closed the distance. now!" Seconds passed. and took a deep breath. How did they find out? Did Sandoval talk? No.. It had all the effect of kicking a fully-rooted oak tree. and his hand reached out and grabbed the gun while it was still in Franklin's hand. "NO! It's too late! We're all going to die together! If the nuke doesn't get us. "I have him.." He paused." He scoffed. But suddenly. "Yes.. The black man moved in to attack. ends . Big mistake. All he wanted was to vent his anger on the source of all the evil that had overtaken them.. "DANIEL FRANKLIN!" Clark said in a deep. * * * As a marksman. Fallen. do you? Even if we both die today. he tried scrambling clear. "We know about the Sarin. growl. then delivered a punch to Franklin's head that sent him to the ground.. the Sarin will!" He laughed. and he lost his own balance. Where . "Four years in the Valley. cursing and firing until the automatic ran out of bullets. "And it'll be worth it. we are not going to the same place. his expression changed and he put his hand to his ear. No one else knew that I had the gas except . the muscles were like steel cables. was hanging on a cross not far from here! YOU were the one who put him there! If he dies.. Clark had observed. The bullets just bounced off of him as he stood there. it?" Franklin was surprised at this. you have been nothing but a threat and a menace to everything I have held dear! You have endangered my friends and my family ... He spun and looked up at Clark with the same fear one would have facing an angry grizzly bear.. I swear to you that I will break you in half with my own two hands!" He held his hands before him to illustrate his point. "Why should I tell you? So you can take me back to that blankety-blank Valley again to spend the rest of my life there?" He gritted his teeth. and you never picked up on it.. the bronze man stood there and waited as Franklin recovered from the punch and got to his feet. He released Franklin's belt. sending him sprawling onto the ground. my best friend ." he said aloud. Like a statue. Avery? Could they have gotten to Avery somehow? It didn't matter anymore . "My friend .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Franklin drew his gun and fired..." He looked down at Franklin. trying to kick the legs out from under the larger man. almost animal-like.

but Clark knew it had done its job. where is the location of the Sarin?" Clark asked in a commanding voice. believing that General Franks knew what he was talking about. so was he. He obeyed his orders. Sandoval cursed the enemy. he ordered. His heart broke. he took a last look back at his foe. Now it was a matter of survival. but another problem had arisen. in the end. yes you will!" he simply stated. and shoved a small aerosol can into Franklin's face. Then he whistled to summon his horse. The black man was on his back. He had to be strong for them. As he mounted. Franklin didn't have a chance to resist. and what it was? Huh. and that. things would go their way. "You've turned your back on Jesus. another of his men was struck from fire from the enemy. it would not be good if one of them were hit by bullets either by his men or the enemy. Calmly and firmly. There was no turning back. The report came in from Bixby. his friends and neighbors. though. But there was something inside of him that didn't like the fact that he was holding children as hostages. While he waited for a response. the worms. His eyes were still filled with hate. did they? Did they tell you about the fires that never die. Franklin. He wanted a place for his own children to live peacefully. pushing the button. he pitched back and fell in a heap. but he wondered if it was really worth it to go this far to survive. "Now. "I got my fill of that crap back there! I still won't tell you where the Sarin is!" Clark smiled. Off to one side.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Hell. "Think about what you've lost. but he wasn't able to do anything about it. but you will not be able to move. And Franklin blabbed. Clark immediately relayed the location of the deadly canister to Bixby. and that he was on his way. lying dead in the streets since this battle had begun. Clark reported that Franklin was incapacitated. and the children were huddled against one wall. They were frightened. Mr. * * * 168 . the pain that never ends? Did they?" He paused. hearing the cries of the children. * * * Captain Ramon Sandoval was a good soldier. and they all knew it. "You will remain conscious. and all unoccupied troops were being called in to assist." he said as he climbed onto the horse. They were in one of the barracks. the Verity-3 took effect immediately. They had found the Sarin and neutralized it. But at what cost? There were many of his men. and that meant doing anything he needed to do to turn the tide of this war. and you'll remember that for all eternity!" "Will you just SHUT UP?" Franklin bawled. and his eyes glazed over. With a jerk of the reins. He didn't move. but he had resolved not to let his men see him that way. he knelt down next to Franklin. and the situation that put them here to die." The other man's expression didn't change. he headed away from the area. "Oh. Several of his men were keeping the children calmed down and where they were.

And sore. It looked like he was arguing with her. Then suddenly the woman. She had turned for just an instant to see what was going on to her left. Cunningham knew that also.. Bonnie said.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Bonnie Clayton was horizontal. She quickly told her something about her needing x-rays. After a few seconds. "Ohhhhhh.. "Bonnie. and tried to put together what had happened before the fog moved in. She appeared to be angry... She recognized the tiles of the infirmary." Then the fog won." she groaned. came over to them. Cunningham was bending over her.unprotected and in the line of fire . Dr. Patricia Savage. "Are you in there. and yelled. but don't shoot back yet. he appeared to give in. "NO ONE HAS BEEN KILLED! CHECK 'EM OUT – THE WEAPONS THAT WERE USED ONLY PUT PEOPLE TO SLEEP! THEY AREN'T LETHAL!" 169 . "What kind of trick is this?" "Wait! Wait!" he barked back. One of his men asked.. "CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE!" The shooting stopped. Responding with a word Clark would've chastened her for using. Through the ringing in her ears. There was another man next to him. but he knew that she was angry at the commanding officer. but he was not winning the argument. the room was starting to spin. She had turned back in time to see the green baseball grenade land a dozen feet from her. "Test . Forcing out an answer to what she thought she understood. He could see the man whom he assumed to be the commanding officer. she heard Dot's voice: "Diane! She's awake!" Then Dr. She remembered the fighting. "Be on your guard. The last thing she remembered before waking up here was putting up her arms so she couldn't see the brick wall." The Savage woman was handed a bullhorn.and addressed them. and had to ask her some routine questions. she could still hear the shooting in the distance. AND THIS IS MY ISLAND! I'M WILLING TO NEGOTIATE FOR THE SAFE RELEASE OF THE CHILDREN! NAME YOUR TERMS!" "You have killed my men!" Sandoval yelled back. she wasn't able to get clear of the blast. looking up. can you hear me?" She touched Bonnie on the shoulder and waved another hand in front of Bonnie's face. She took a couple of steps closer to the building . Bonnie heard the word 'pregnant' and tried to figure out the rest of the sentence. He couldn't hear what she was saying. a taller man. and she was starting to feel lightheaded again. Bonnie?" Bonnie mumbled something incoherent. me . "YOU – INSIDE! I'M PAT SAVAGE. * * * Captain Sandoval was peering through one of the windows.

I think we can help one another." He explained the situation." She shook the hand. "But do not try anything. I give you my word that you will not be harmed. and we'll talk. They nodded. "Captain Sandoval.was the instigator of this tragedy. "Commander. has been captured and is our prisoner. "Señorita Savage?" He extended a hand. She spoke to them. and. Tell your men to stand down. "You are correct. I can match it. They are not dead." She walked to the window. I have no reason not to. but were just sleeping. A moment later the other man said. But whatever he paid you to be a part of this. We have no fight with you. Pat chuckled. or the children will be killed. What do you say?" "You will allow us to return home?" "Of course. "Here I come. He spoke to a couple of his men.the man you called Franks . She showed no fear. "How many people are we talking about here?" The commander told her the population of Negro Lobo. We will even take care of any of your people who are wounded." she replied.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Sandoval looked over at one of his fallen men. I believe that Mr." "Come ahead!" He tried a bluff. asking them to escort her to him." The Savage woman then started walking ahead. I'm sure!" 170 . and fought the urge to run to their side to comfort them. she cared about them very much." "I understand. after handing the bullhorn back to someone behind her. He stood unafraid now and walked to the window. "Yes. and we are willing to end this peacefully. but there's no blood!" Sandoval quickly ordered the other men to be checked. she walked into the room. I would like to talk to you face-toface. telling them everything was okay. None of them were dead either. so long as everyone cooperates. the one you called Franks. "Is that it?" Pat replied with a smile. He could see the compassion in her face when she saw the children." She lowered the bullhorn. "Are you the one in command?" "Sì! I am Captain Ramon Sandoval!" "The man you were with. "He's not dead! He's unconscious. a few minutes later. "Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. I have no reason to harm you or your men. "Bixby! They're just asking for a homeland! Call off your troops and get a couple of medics in here! This war is over!" "Are you sure?" the man Bixby called back. and gestured for others to check him out. Sandoval set his gun down and walked over to meet her. Franklin .

" Several of the children angled their heads to see the uniformed Sandoval. I couldn't get through to him. Slowly. but .. and a couple of little girls with round Latino faces went over and opened their arms to him. She looked up at Sandoval.. He looked down at their smiling faces himself on the edge of tears . they ran over to their Aunt Patty. and people loosened up. "You knew they got Perry to the infirmary in time! But Clark . putting down their weapons. Bonnie's there. Cunningham. but inside was feeling the pain. * * * Clark moved next to Bixby. She finally got down on one knee and tried wrapping up as many as she could in her arms. he was anxiously calling his name. relaxing. Despite her knowledge of first aid. anybody with medical training who wasn't tied down elsewhere was busy working on soldiers of both sides. "I . Soldiers started standing up. She was outside the infirmary." Bixby gave him a double-take. "Oh. Bixby commented. "Kids. "She's actually mellowed in her old age. He's a friend. The people and the children were released. Clark!" she cried.. He's not going to hurt you. Cunningham said was that he's alive. the children were released. hugging her legs frantically." Clark replied straight-faced. this is Ramon. Men inside the barracks apologized to the children. She saw Clark running towards her. unashamedly showing her love. "What is it?" he asked." comforted Clark.. Dot didn't fit in with the pros inside. talking to each other. then caught on and grinned. " She couldn't form the words. "She's something else. he's in a coma!" She buried her head in his chest and cried. Clark held back the tears. isn't she?" "You should'a seen her when she was younger.. "He's okay now.then knelt down and hugged them. "It'll be okay.. "Perry's strong! He'll be okay! Have you seen Bonnie?" 171 . He just took off running in the direction of the infirmary. Under the supervision of Dr. And his back! It looked like . "The last thing Dr.. As the medics moved in. trying to be a source of strength to her. * * * The infirmary looked like a MASH unit on full alert. Monk loped to his side. soldiers from both sides started coming together." she said cordially. and children hugged their former captors with a love that caused grown men to weep. with Monk following. It was like he didn't hear me. Meanwhile. and ran into his arms. Those who could speak the language communicated with one another.. Immediately. Sandoval did the same with his men.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Bixby relayed the orders. As Clark stood watching all the activity. she's been hurt!" Clark didn't reply. praying with her eyes open as she paced back and forth. and those who couldn't did the best they could.

But the pain was gone." It was Deuce. God. can you?" she grinned down at him. shall we?" She grabbed a handful of his collar and slowly started dragging him to the water's edge. "What a pity. She was weak. They moved slowly in his direction. As she watched the bubbles slowly stop coming to the surface. her grin melted as if under a blowtorch. Di. but she declared herself alive. did you? Too bad you didn't make sure that I was dead.. and they all quietly cried together. Franklin's eyes filled with terror at her intent. As they bent over to face him. "What's the prognosis?" 172 .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "I saw her when she was first brought in. you can't move. Then.. Dr. then continued in until the water was up to her knees. He was still in a seated position. at his head. the water stirring around his middle. "Welcome to the land of the living. He couldn't close his eyes. His boat was only a few feet away. She was alone. "Hello. Deuce moved back to the shore and sat on the sand. Fresh. dear! Thought you'd finished me off. She was wounded. and wrapped his long arms around them both.... Tears started flowing down her face as she broke into uncontrollable sobs. his legs now underwater. But he couldn't even move his mouth. * * * Daniel Franklin couldn't move. "Oh. "Thank y--" Deuce Robinson was home. He'd get help if there was anyone around him ..." she quipped. Cunningham was making her rounds. looking up at him. "But then I got pushed back outside!" Monk joined them. and her head was still ringing. and if he could say anything. without warning. but alive.. lifesaving air was less than six inches away from his mouth. And with your boat right over there." She pitched forward into the sand and sighed. but his body wouldn't obey the screaming of his terrified mind." reported Dot. God! Oh. Daniel . "Please. but it could just as well be miles. forgive me! Forgive . Deuce released him. Let's get closer. "Can it. She looked around the room. * * * CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Bonnie Clayton was sore. Suddenly he could hear footsteps in the distance. but he couldn't see who it was. Franklin's heart skipped and his breath froze." she replied dryly. the other beds were vacant... and knew that her end was minutes away. "Well what do you know . GOD! I never realized! I never knew! I'm so sorry! I'm SO sorry!" Her breathing became difficult. That blankety-blank had done something to him. Then they were standing behind him. me . and his head splashed back into the water. but he was unable to do anything but break out in a nervous sweat.

Dr." "How's Dot taking it?" "Well. as she turned and headed for the door. or I'll grind up some Percocet and spike your orange juice. We've done all we can to support her." "I will. "Congratulations? For what?" "The test came back positive. But before she opened the door. we even bring meals to her there. "What've I missed?" "Quite a bit. More accurately. you're both fine." "Okay . "Oh. sir. we're gonna give them what they were promised . "How's Perry.. actually." She gave her a mock salute. by the way?" "Still comatose. It's really gonna be something!" "I'll bet. His body has been healing. Ever since they airlifted all the serious patients to Athens. I'd still give it a couple of days. "It turned out that all these guys were after was a homeland of their own. you're fine. pleased with herself. she turned back and said. You get some sleep.. Cunningham smiled." answered Diane. "To make a long story short. we've got tons of bed space. taking a seat next to the bed. it seems their village had been the brunt of their neighbors' bullying for years. Well. So don't sweat it." "Yes." "How long have I been out?" "Two days." "I want to see her as soon as I can." Bonnie rubbed her head where it hurt. and it's just a matter of time.and we get a big boost in our workforce. they were in a better mood to talk peace. once Pat made them understand that their people weren't dead but unconscious. we've set up a second bed in the room for her. You need to take care of yourself now." Bonnie was confused." "I mean it. Franklin promised them the island if he'd help them get Pat and Jill." 173 . and you've set a new record for the hardest head on Caroline Island next to Pat's. apart from the fact that I could've played 'Connect the Dots' with your bullet bruises.a safe place to live .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Well." commented Bonnie. When can I check out?" "Well. I'm afraid. She rarely leaves his side. but I don't think a visit would hurt you too much. by the way. congratulations. thanks. Pat says we're gonna to try moving their entire village over to the north side of the island.

" They separated and she nodded. and she's getting bored. But that was all in the past. fifty years behind the times. praying fervently for her recovery . there were things that caused him to be .. openly proclaiming the love and power of Jesus Christ. She cried briefly. wiping the tears from her face with the back of her hand. which were letting in as much light as possible. "Yes. which could rotate in order to take some of the pressure off of his still-mending back wounds. His face was peaceful. Back before the sleep . and offered a slight smile. and no one was lost during all those years. Now things were different. and all his medical knowledge was moot. "Both?" * * * The walk down the hall to Perry's room was not far. He held her and just let her collapse momentarily into his arms. and she sat bolt upright in the bed. what was the phrase? . He was relieved to know that Bonnie was better. looking up at him.. messed up inside. I'll sit with Perry for awhile. The volume on the monitors had been turned down. He preferred the simple life he had before. "Is that you?" He mustered up enough strength to say evenly. "Come get me if anything happens." she said weakly. their smell was pleasant. What test? And why did she say 'both' when she was clearly alone in the room? Her eyes suddenly opened wide..he had maintained a respectful distance from all those around him. "Clark?" he heard Dot say.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD The doctor left the room. He had allowed these people to come and take a place in his life . "Why don't you go and see how Bonnie's doing? Diane has ordered bed rest. And.his term for his fifty years in hibernation . since learning that Johnny was now a Christian.as he had in theirs . the team was complete once more. But now. but to Clark it seemed like miles.and the thought of losing them brought a pain he didn't like. now was different. Dot looked about as bad as he felt. They looked to him for leadership. He had to admit to the tightness of his stomach and the uneasiness in his heart. and he suggested. Perry was facing up in the bed. He had sat by her side while she was unconscious holding her hand. How did you know it was me?" She came to the doorway." he acknowledged with a thin smile. But Perry was still in a coma." The room had windows on two sides. that was very therapeutic. Perry lay on a special bed they had especially flown in for him. The only thing that could be done for Perry was keep him comfortable and his needs provided for until he was ready. He wanted to shut the door of his emotions and not feel the pain. but right now he felt as far from being a leader as one man could..and she had recovered. okay?" "Sure thing. he thought. The side table held a bouquet of flowers. Come in. He'd come so close to losing the two most important people in his life. but his sensitive hearing could still make out the steady beep-beep-beepbeep rhythm. but he knew he couldn't go down that road anymore. Even after these few years being a Christian. 174 . "Sounds good. Bonnie lay back in the bed and tried to figure out what Diane had been talking about. His aids could take care of themselves. "Your footsteps are unmistakable.

. "You protected the kids..." He sat silently. you saw your opportunity and you took it!" His voice softened. with my bare hands .. Perry.. "Are you .." He took a deep breath.. my brother. and I refuse to let anyone else do the ceremony! That.. and ." he sighed. Perry ... terrifies me even more.. huh? Then I stood there and let him shoot at me like some television superhero. You have to come out! Bonnie and I are still going to be getting married. Father was kind of vague on that aspect of my training. "Thank You for not taking him!" he said in a tearful whisper. "You know. Perry was still facing the ceiling. And now look what happened... Perry. And that turned everything around. That was the difference between he and I. "It's going to be all right. you're the spiritual support! No . "I'm supposed to be the hero .The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD She walked to the door.. okay?" he said weakly. I've never really been good at relationships. It's all been taken care of. and his eyes began to mist over. to show me how not to screw things up. "Why did you have to do this. it's all over now. Clark walked over to the chair next to the bed and sat down. arranging for them to move here to the island.and you kept them safe. Clark drew closer to the bed. and then continued down the hall to the other room. "Anyhow. You had us worried.. "C-Clark?" His head snapped up.. I don't know what it's like to be a husband. need you now. but his eyes were fluttering.. when I went after Franklin. something inside me broke. I wanted to kill him." He paused.. especially with women..real responsible. really . "I didn't want you to come on this mission . took a last look back. Thank God for His intervention. And then... protected Pat and Jill .. be . Facing it without you and Dot as examples . Regardless of the fact that you were the only one who could do it. "Why .. only ones ." Perry turned his head in Clark's direction. I'm suppose to take all the risks! It's what I have done all my life! But you ." He looked over at his friend's unresponsive face.. I probably would have killed Franklin right there. should you . right? I don't know what I would've done if Bixby hadn't called with the alert about the Sarin gas. Pat's been working with their commander." he whispered..you knew that. softly.. and I knew it.." He sighed. and the Sarin gas would've killed us all. "I'm fine.some 'man of God'. "Yes. his body shaking with emotions. Perry?" he suddenly exclaimed. when Franklin started talking about how I'd be going to hell with him. you took after me . It's going to be all right now." He lowered his head in prayer. I didn't want you to be in danger. all the fun?" 175 . Perry?" he started. "I'm here. not realizing that he could've easily aimed a little higher and shot me in the head . I need you there to help me along . It took the anger away... I knew I couldn't go to hell because of Jesus Christ. to have . I love you. and I'm very proud of you. "You know. He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. it's really hard to see you like this.. Facing the thought of marriage and possible fatherhood terrifies me. and he croaked. "Why'd you have to be the hero.. I .... I wanted to tear him apart for what he'd done .

" "Glad .. so. so I relaxed and enjoyed it. Dot had brought me up to speed on what had happened while I was out. one of the ladies of the village came in with three small children. did it ever make a difference? Or had it just been all a waste of time?" Dot shrugged.P. including Franklin and Deuce's fate. which I preferred to the rotating one. think . "What was that? Perry.. choking as he did. you're the man of the hour... I didn't know all of what they had done to patch me up. "Hey.I.." "What?" Clark was surprised at the reference.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Clark held back tears as he placed a big hand softly on his friend's arm." He paused. so . almost as an afterthought. He stood up." he said. He couldn't move. As he left the room.. They bowed just inside the door. After Clark had immobilized Franklin. hi . "V. Perry?" she asked." she praised. "Sure.. "You did good. what did you say?" Perry just smiled. Two weeks had passed since the rescue.. you . after all those years of being around Christians in the Valley of the Vanished . The children were just tall enough to reach out and touch my arm. Then. she drowned him. Although I was fully capable of feeding myself. She must've died shortly after... "By the way . "It appears that Franklin had shot Deuce and left her for dead .. but it had dimmed from a nine to a two on the pain scale.. I just knew that I was alive and grateful to everyone." * * * Dot lifted another spoonful of cherry Jell-O into my mouth and wiped the corners with a napkin.. he kept whispering. says ." 176 ." I didn't feel like a V. I really wonder . as I saw the awe in their little eyes... Pat had explained to me that my recovery would be right here on Caroline Island. Deuce caught up with him and dragged him down to the water.. I was also in a regular hospital bed now. nothing's too good for you.but she wasn't. kissing me on the cheek.I. "Only God knows. he said. So I praised God and let myself accept their affection." I smiled and beckoned them closer. Perry. Long Tom . it gave her pleasure to serve me . and his eyes closed briefly. I felt like Moses before the Israelites. "C'mon over!" They came to the side of my bed. but most of my time was spent in my room in the infirmary.. treatment all the way. I knew I had to make a couple of trips to specialists in San Diego and New York. When I came out of my coma. but I wasn't in any condition to walk away." I sighed.. "You did very good..P. I was still hurting... "Thank You. The kids had been coming in a steady stream for days. Just then. "May we see Mr. all wanting to see the one who had been hurt to keep the bad guys from them. "You know.. "Hold tight! I'm going to get Dot!" He headed for the door..

was a vase with a dozen red roses. Then my eyes drifted to the base of the vase. I picked up the bear and smiled. Perry was lying on his side. he crushed the pack in his hand and lobbed it into the nearby wastebasket. and then carefully placed it into the crook formed by Perry's arms. I had been the one to give her the roses and the teddy bear – named Grape Juice – with the attached note. convinced he hadn't been noticed. and also. a smile appeared on Perry's lips. Finally. and Kenji slipped stealthfully into the room. kissed it on the forehead.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD Nobody wanted to claim responsibility for Franklin and Deuce's bodies. Kenji stood watching him for several moments. I woke up with a sense of déjà vu. to keep Grape Juice company. A mischievous smile on his lips. Sitting there was a small blue teddy bear. following a close encounter with a youth gang in San Francisco. now. She closed the door as she left. one of the windows opened. he picked up the bear. "Hello. I remembered a similar scene five years ago. "You're my hero. She moved around the room for a minute. she had claimed. "Where did she find roses?" I asked. A moment later. there would be closure. watching him sleep and repeatedly thanking God. We hoped.. That had been a little over a week ago." * * * It had been a long day. and then decided to step outside. "You made a difference. Propped up in his small hands was a handwritten note: MY NAME IS BERRY BLUE. Shortly after that. Spook. Dot had been sitting at Perry's side for several hours. and his arms reflexively closed around the stuffed animal. nor was it right to bury them on the island. 177 . A few moments later. Without hesitation." He turned to start out when he saw the flowers and the teddy bear on the side table. wearing the tiny Parlor Bears tee shirt Amy had bought for him in Lincoln City. Dot had been the recipient. Then he reached into his pocket and came out with his pack of cigarettes and the old Zippo lighter. Then. * * * Later that day. sleeping with his arms loosely crossed before his chest. Then he placed the lighter on the side table where they couldn't miss it. I'M HERE TO MAKE SURE YOU GET BETTER. he walked over to the bed." the boy whispered. Neither of them had any family to turn them over to. I was alone. He stood quietly as he waited to see if his entrance would attract anyone. On my side table. Pat arranged with Drake to have them buried at sea. Finally she felt the need to stand and stretch away some of her own stiffness. old friend.. Dot found Berry Blue for me . next to my glass of water.

You are the brothers and sisters sent by God to encourage us in our adversity. cheering me on. to keep us writing one more day .htm.May 2005 WE NEED VOLUNTEERS TO TRANSLATE THESE BOOKS INTO OTHER LANGUAGES. Whenever I envision my personal 'great cloud of witnesses'. Mark and Karen Eidemiller -. we'll keep writing. To Kay Snow and Gerald Miller.. one more book. To Jay Don and Merilee Rogers. Dot. you have provided us with both facts and encouragement. our readers. Ukraine first-hand. and to all of you who have emailed us with your praise and comments. A reception and banquet will follow. From coast-to-coast phone conversations to detailed email correspondence." Kenji whispered with a smile. to be there to run this race with us.. who have been so patient during this personally-distressing time.. very special people. To me. God bless you all. one more chapter . I couldn't have planned the battles without you. and Bonnie live on to see another adventure. 178 . * * * EPILOGUE YOU ARE INVITED To the Wedding of Clark Savage. Junior And Bonnie Noel Clayton As friend unites with friend in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. and you've helped make sure that Clark. my friend and brother whom I've never met in person. and to provide details on the location. hero.. EMAIL US AT skylab@e-z. rescued and loved by two very. To Alena Grace Brannan. As long as you let us know you're out there and reading. Saving the best for last. On July 15. I know that they are there. THE END THANKS AND DEDICATIONS To Barry Ottey. adopted daughter of Buddy and Melanie. To security guard Tom Kelly. You can read about them at http://www. they are true heroes. Two amazing people in my early life who encouraged me in my writing. Security will be extreme. Perry.org/Branch%20Schools/Donetsk/donetsk.net. yet never lived long enough to see the result. who have boldly ministered for years and have seen the plight of the children in Donetsk. I pray that you will someday become part of the next generation of Christian Doc Savage fans. 2005 Individuals will be contacted personally for RSVP. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED.The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD "Sleep well. and then quietly left the room through the window. our most gracious thanks to you.sunsetinternational.

The Bronze Saga #5: BRONZE BATTLEFIELD 179 .

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