"A Nation is not conquereduntil the hearts of its womenare on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriorsnor how strong its weapons."
-Death Song of the Cheyenne Nation
Be On the Look Out.
Bo awoke with a throbbing headache. It was a pounding, stabbing pain that felt as if someone was trying to jackhammer their way out of his skull. He tried the rub his eyes with his left hand but for some reason his arm didn’t want to work. Son of a bitch,
he thought as he tried to remember where the hell he was.
The memories wouldn’t come though. They hid behind a stubborn fog that clouded his mind, and with each heartbeat the stabbing pain hurt so badly he might have passed out again if it had not been for the water. It was freezing cold and filling the driver’s compartment at a rate that probably should have worried him a lot more then actually it did.
What the Hell is going on here? Why is there water in my truck?
There was something seriously wrong happening, he was sure of that. With all of the terrible pounding in his head though he couldn’t quite make himself think straight. Bo struggled hard but the pieces of the puzzle refused to fit together. It felt like a dream, but even as strange as it seemed, he knew deep down it was really happening. By the time the water reached his chest his entire body had pretty much gone numb. Bo Roberts began to panic.
He tried his arm again and suddenly realized it was caught in the seat belt. His fingers felt stiff and useless as he fumbled with the release until he felt something give way. Bo breathed a grateful sigh of relief as the restraining belt retracted away, allowing him some room to move.
Now, lemme get out of this damn truck so I can figure out what the hell is going on!
He pulled at the latch and shoved but the door didn’t budge at all. Growing even more frustrated, he shoved at the door again, but the effort made his shoulder hurt and his head spin while the door remained completely unimpressed with his efforts to open it. Oh fuck, that hurts!
By now the water was reaching his neck, and even through the haze of pain he knew he had to get out of the truck. He really couldn’t see much outside, other than a murky darkness that seemed to be everywhere, so he flicked on the cab light. The sudden brightness stung his eyes and for a moment, he squinted and blinked as they adjusted. Slowly, the sting retreated and only then did he truly realize how much trouble he was in. Oh goddamn, I’m under water!
Bo may not have understood the physics of water pressure, but then again he wasn’t a man used to making complicated decisions anyway. Sometimes the direct approach is best
he thought as he drew his blaster pistol from his belt and smashed it hard against the driver side window.
There had been many safety innovations built into vehicles over the last two hundred years or so. Among the oldest of these was that the transparencies were designed to give way safely if enough force were applied. So it was that when the metallic butt of the weapon impacted the window, the synthetic glass shattered into a flurry of tiny spheroids and the cold water of the quarry lake flooded the cab, completely immersing the man inside.
Bo had just enough time to take a breath before the cold water almost knocked it out of him again. He had it in his mind to swim out of the window, but in one of those moves that people make purely out of habit, he tried the door again and this time it swung open easily. Well, ain’t that a bitch
he thought as he swam out and headed for the surface.
He swam up quickly, but he was deeper then he guessed and his burning lungs felt like they were going to burst before he finally broke the surface. He sucked in air and coughed out water until his head was spinning. He was cold, freezing in fact, but at least the cold water had tamed his pounding headache to the point where he could finally think.
Realizing he had to get out of the water before he froze, Bo swam for the rocks at the waters edge. He climbed up on a boulder and seeing the fifty foot cliff above him, suddenly remembered the biker gang that had forced him off of the road and into the lake.
He didn’t know how long he’d been down there but it had to have been at least a few minutes, long enough anyway that the gang had moved on. The fact that they weren’t shooting at him from the Rim Road seemed proof enough of that. He took a long look at the cliff face and figured he could climb it. This is gonna be a pain in the ass but its either climb or sit here on this rock. Damn, this is gonna take awhile. Myra’s gonna be pissed!
Then, more frightening than the climb, another thought struck him like a hammer. Myra! Damn, they’re headed right at her!
Bo felt his heart skip a beat when he realized that, but he quickly calmed himself. Naw, she’ll be alright. She ain’t just gonna sit by the edge of the road, waiting for a bunch of bikers to find her
. Knowing her as he did, he was certain that she would be someplace safe while she waited for him to return. Bo smiled in relief at the thought. Ain’t nobody gonna sneak up on Myra, nobody but me anyway!
Bo had just begun his climb when the rapid staccato thunder of an accelerator rifle sounded off in the distance. The sound was unique to the weapon and easily distinguishable from the hail of gunfire that immediately followed. Oh hell no! That ain’t happening!
A deep fear gripped him, one that was far more terrible then the thought of falling. Bo Roberts began scaling the cliff, determined that nothing would stop him until he found her.
Silence filled the air as he climbed. It was as if time had stopped as the universe paused to watch, wondering if he would succeed or fail. By the time he finally reached the Rim Road, he was past exhaustion and he lay on the ground with scarcely enough strength to move. Part of his mind screamed at him to rise and to go to the woman he loved, but the human body has limits that even the raw determination of love cannot overcome. A voice deep within his mind pushed and pleaded with him to stand, but it was swallowed by a darkness that refused to be held at bay.'If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.'
The Art of War
The night was moonless and the darkness under the canopy of the trees was as deep as the emptiness in her heart. Myra could barely see the ground beneath her feet, but still she moved silently through the forest. Crouching low beneath the branches that seemed to be clawing at her from every direction, she followed the downward slope until the vines thinned, and the dim outline of the road below came into view.
She had no weapons left. She had discarded her empty rifle, keeping only the power cell that gave it life. She could have made a spear, but against ten men with automatic weapons, it would have been virtually useless. Still, weapons were only as deadly as the mind of the person using them and Myra's mind was focused more intently than it had ever been.
The rage she'd felt was gone now, as was her fear. Her grief at seeing Bo killed still gnawed at her, and that she held close, nurturing it and letting those feelings fill her heart. Right now, that grief was the only thing that made her believe she was still alive.
Myra reached the road and began walking down its edge, keeping close to the brush just in case one of the men dared to leave the false sanctuary of their fires. She didn't really expect that to happen, but then she wasn't one to take unnecessary chances either.
She walked slowly, not from being weary, although she should have been completely exhausted. No, she knew that time was on her side and she simply wasn't in a hurry. She was well aware that her enemy would be at their weakest just before dawn. It was at that time she planned on making her presence known. They would be surprised, she was certain of that. There were ten of them after all, and they were heavily armed. Why would they fear a single woman walking out of the darkness? Why indeed? 'Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.'
Those were the words of Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese tactician who had written a book called The Art of War. Myra had read this book while in boot camp years earlier, and had been impressed by the simple wisdom it contained. It was this wisdom she was willing to bet her life on now.
When she faced these men earlier, she had only been interested in killing as many as she could, and she had done just that. In the hours that had passed though, she felt no better for killing them. Revenge had proven to be an empty meal, and her appetite for more had been burned away in the same fire that had purified her spirit. No, she had decided that she would add no more death than was necessary to a world that had already seen far too much already.
Still, these men were too dangerous to be allowed to continue their rampage. They were a threat to the people who had given her a home. Bo's people,
she though ruefully. She may no longer have wanted them all dead, but she couldn't allow them the chance to harm anyone else either. It took almost an hour for her to make her way to them from her clearing, but now she could see their camp fire on the road ahead, burning like a beacon in the darkness.
"Hey, wake up asshole!" Darwin spat as he shoved the man sitting next to him, nearly knocking him off of the log he was sitting on. "If Cam sees you falling asleep on watch he's gonna shit all over us!"
Doug Randle shook his head and tried to clear the cobwebs out of his mind. "On watch against what?" he said with a yawn. "Do you really think that bitch is just going to come walking in into our camp. It's fucking freezing out here and she left her damn coat on the road. Besides, like Cam said, she's out of ammo. Hell, she's probably huddled up next to a fire ten miles from here!"
"Yeah, I bet she's smart enough to get some sleep too," Willie Preston added. "Cam's lost his fuckin' mind, if ya ask me."
Darwin shot the other two a deadly glare. "If you two morons keep yapping about this, you're gonna get us all shot. Do you think Cam is just gonna take a bunch of shit from the two of you?"
"Hey, fuck you Darwin. Just 'cause you earned a name by not getting yourself killed don't put you in charge. You ain't shit in this outfit." Willie glared back at Darwin, daring him to say something more.
Darwin met his gaze for a moment and then looked away, feeling deeply the sting of Willie's insult. Earning a name among your friends had become a universal mark of respect among people after the War, and a couple of years ago his crew had taken to calling him Darwin because he managed to live through several fights that should have gotten him killed. What they didn't get was that he'd lived only because he knew when to be cautious and back away.
He considered himself to be a natural survivor, and sometimes that meant knowing when to back down. Unfortunately for him, guys like Cam thought that was just a notch above being a coward. Over time, Cam's constant belittling of him had caused the name that had once been a compliment to become nothing more than a snide insult.
That same instinct for survival had been screaming at him ever since that woman shot up his crew the night before. Somehow he just couldn't shake the feeling that she was the one doing the hunting. In his mind, Cam was being an arrogant fool by insisting they stay to find her, but he sure as hell wasn't going to try to tell him that. Obviously neither Willie nor Doug thought there was any real danger from her at all.
"Okay," he finally replied, resigned to the fact they weren't going to listen to him anyway.
"If you two morons want to sit here and talk shit, that's up to you. I'm telling you right now, if either of you wake up Cam or Fryer, you're on your own. I'm not gonna stick my neck out to protect either one of you!" Darwin stood and walked toward the trees, shaking his head in disgust.
"Hey, where the fuck do you think you're going, we're suppose to keep watch until dawn!" Doug challenged as Darwin walked away.
"Fuckin' relax, I'm just gonna take a piss if that's okay with you! I'll be back in a minute." Darwin crossed the blacktop muttering to himself. "Shit, they're probably right. Why the Hell would she come back anyway? We're probably never going to see her scrawny ass again." Stepping off the road, he found a large tree and unzipped his pants.
Darwin breathed a sigh of relief as his water began splattering against the tree. The day had been a horrendous disaster. They'd lost ten of his friends, but now at least he figured he'd lived through it. He was sure Cam would have them all tramping through that damn brush in the morning and spat in disgust. That fucking guys' completely lost it! Without our bikes, we got better shit to do than go chasing through this shit after some crazy-ass bitch!
***'Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.'
No Honor in Death
Myra couldn't believe her luck. She'd spent the last half hour scouting the gangs encampment and was now certain she had everyone accounted for. On the deserted road in front of her, several synthetic camping tents had been erected around the fire where the three men were standing guard. Sitting in the center as they were, they would have been hard to approach without giving them a chance to alert the other seven.
If she'd had a knife, she could have cut her way into the back of one of the tents, but with nothing to use but her bare hands, her options were more limited. She'd almost decided to throw the power core from her now discarded rifle into their fire to create a diversion, but the tall man taking a piss just a few feet from her had made things much easier.
Silently as a cat, Myra rose from her prone position in the brush and ran low to his left. Once past his field of view, she came up behind him and wrapped her left arm tightly around his neck, pulling him back hard against her body to deny him the leverage he would need to throw her off.
"What the hell," he started to yell, but Myra quickly pulled his pistol from his holster with her right hand and pressed the barrel hard against his cheek.
"Don't move!" Neither one of us wants me to shoot you, so do us both a favor and don't make me!" When the man's strangled cry abruptly died, Myra grinned in satisfaction.
"Right, that's better! Now move!" Her words were but a harsh whisper, but the man was thoroughly surprised and she easily forced him behind the tree he'd just been urinating on.
Darwin grunted in pain as she pushed him face first into the rough bark. "Holy shit lady, don't shoot! I was just takin a piss, okay!" He felt the cold steel press against the back of his neck and he kept his hands raised, trying desperately to not aggravate his assailant. "Damn, you win okay? I ain't gonna try shit!"
"Good boy" she said evenly as she slid his assault rifle off of his shoulder. "There's been enough death already. You're going to help me prevent more, right?" Myra pressed the pistol harder into his neck, bluntly emphasizing her point.
Darwin winced and another cold chill raced up his spine. "Yeah lady," he said quickly. "Anything you say. The last thing I wanna do is piss you off!" His knees were shaking uncontrollably and he felt his open pants start to fall down. He felt completely helpless, and her cold and sarcastically mirthless voice chilled him to the bone. The memory of how easily she had mowed down so many of his crew flashed in his head and he whimpered in fear.
Myra heard his plaintive whine and smiled viciously. "I'm glad you understand the situation. Now, here is what you're going to do..."
Darwin's heart hammered in his chest as she told him what she wanted, and by the time she was done, he was certain she was even crazier than Cam. Unfortunately, he was also sure Cam would kill him the moment he tried to do what she demanded. His mind raced as he thought desperately for a way out and then suddenly, it came to him. "Lady, I can't make that happen, they'd kill me just for trying."
Myra responded by rubbing the cold metal of his pistol over his exposed butt cheek. "That's a shame, I guess I don't need you then."
Darwin's glutes clenched uncontrollably at the icy contact and he probably would have pissed himself if he hadn't just gone. He couldn't remember ever being so scared and he hugged the tree in a near panic. "No, wait, wait! It's Fryer okay? He's the guy you need to talk too! I can get him for you!"
He felt her pull the gun away and then she took several steps back. "Good, now why don't you be a dear and go fetch him?"
Darwin cringed at her lifeless tone and hurriedly re-buckled his pants. Just as he started to move away, he heard her slam home the bolt of the assault rifle she'd taken from him.
"There is a fully loaded, thirty-round clip in this thing," she said flatly. "That makes three for each of you, and yours is in the chamber now. I advise you not to do anything stupid. Now move!"
Darwin stumbled through the thin line of brush as he headed for the road. He was shocked that she hadn't killed him and terrified that she still might if he messed this up. Once his feet landed safely on the black top, he forced himself not to run. Walking the short distance back to the fire seemed to take forever, and with every step he feared she would change her mind. Worse, he knew with bleak certainty what would happen if Willie or Doug sounded an alarm. Goddamn, how the fuck am I gonna tell them this! Why does this shit always happen to me?
When he finally returned to the others, Willie looked up at him and sneered. "Hey, shit-for-brains, did you forget something? Where's your rifle?" He laughed quietly as Doug slapped him on his back.
"Fucking Darwin, its amazing you've lived this long, doing shit like that," he added with a snicker.
Darwin ran his fingers through his short, blond hair and looked back toward the brush, but saw only the empty darkness of the forests edge. It looked quiet and peaceful and gave no sign of the danger that hid just beyond the light. A now familiar cold chill ran up his spine and he swallowed hard, barely hearing the derisive chuckles of the two men next to him. "Will you two just shut up! We need to wake up Fryer, quietly! She's out there right now!"
It was the cold. A freezing, paralyzing cold that penetrated his stiffening body like a thousand icy knives. That was the first thing Bo felt as he began to return to consciousness. He shivered uncontrollably and felt a terrible numbness weighing down his arms and legs. He was bruised and battered and his head throbbed horribly, but it was the cold more than anything that was sucking the life out of him.
His clothes were dry at least. Modern fabrics had become much more water resistant and durable in the years before the War. That was fortunate, because in the hours he'd laid unconscious, the ambient temperature on the Rim Road had fallen to near freezing. The simple fact that his clothes had allowed the moisture to wick away from his body had probably saved his life. Slowly, and fighting the pervasive numbness in his limbs, Bo Roberts rose to his feet and began heading up the road, grimly determined to get back to the woman he loved.
He walked along in the darkness, step by torturous step, following the hard blacktop for what seemed like an eternity. The numbing cold faded as the physical exertion warmed him, but his legs ached terribly. Worse still, a sharp, stabbing pain in his chest was beginning to make his breathing difficult and his entire body throbbed angrily as if it were protesting the forced march his will imposed upon it.
He had no idea what time of night it was or how long he'd been out, he only knew he wouldn't rest until he got back to Myra. He stumbled down the middle of the road for what seemed like hours, his mind growing numb with exhaustion. He almost thought he was dreaming when he saw the glow of the fire in the distance.
It wasn't until he was close enough to make out the flames that Bo accepted their reality. Knowing even through his stupor that Myra would never expose herself in the open like that, he guessed it had to be the bikers camp.
The bitter taste of anger and hatred filled his mouth, and the hot rush of adrenaline that went with it cleared his mind of the fog that had beset him. Shaking his head slightly, he rubbed his eyes until his vision cleared. That's when he recognized the jumble of wrecked electro-cycles that were scattered across the road.
Suddenly wide awake, Bo ducked low and hurried to the broken mass of metal and shredded carbon-fiber that had once been almost two dozen bikes. He could hardly imagine what could have done so much damage to them, but felt certain that his lovely little woman had done it. Holy shit Myra!,
he thought and smiled in admiration. Damn woman, I knew pissing you off wouldn't be a good idea!
Still, despite the damage done, he could see the tents surrounding the fire. Their very presence there proved that she hadn't won the battle. His heart began to pound in his chest as he considered what that meant for her. Slowly, and with growing desperation, he worked his way closer to the circle of light, hoping she was safe and fearing that she might have been captured, or worse.
Using every bit of the field craft he possessed, Bo moved silently, ever closer to the ring of tents. There, just beyond the firelight, he took cover behind a large boulder on the lake side of the road. Fingering the butt of his blaster pistol, he considered his options. Damn, I wish Myra was here,
he thought vainly. She's the damned tactical expert! What the hell do I know about this kind of shit!
His nerves frayed to the point of breaking, Bo lay prone behind the rock, peering around it's edge just in time to see one of the three sentries wake a fourth man. He couldn't hear their whispered conversation, but they were clearly agitated and then two of them headed across the road toward the brush on the other side of his position.
They were out of his sight for several minutes and Bo had almost decided to work his way to the other side when he saw Myra walking calmly back with the men! What the fuck!
he thought in a near panic. He pulled his blaster up and almost made a made dash toward her, but then he saw the rifle hanging from Myra's shoulder. None of it made sense to him but he controlled his panic, trusting that his mate must have known what she was doing. For the life of him though, he just couldn't figure it out. Helplessly, Bo watched as one by one, the men were woken up and gathered around the fire.
Bo Roberts bit his lip, trembling in fear and watching intently as his Reason for Living stood dispassionately in the company of a gang of killers.'Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.'
"Hey Boss, wake up. You gotta see this!" Fryer was standing in the entrance to his tent, holding back the sealable flap when Cam Bradshaw woke from his sound sleep.
"Goddammit Fryer," Cam snorted as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. "This better be good. I'm in no mood to be fucked with today!" He crawled out into the dim light of the dawn, scowling at his second in command.
"Trust me Cam, you're not going to believe this!" Fryer helped the big man to his feet, and as he stood, deftly removed Cam's pistol from his holster.
Shocked at suddenly being disarmed, Cam spun violently toward the smaller man as he felt the weapon being taken away. He raised his hand, flailing at Fryer and futilely trying to grab his arm as the smaller man backed away.
Cam glared at his second in command and spat on the ground in front of him. "I don't know what you think you're doing Fryer," he said in seething anger. "But you better think carefully, because you're making a big mistake!"
Fryer tucked the pistol in his belt behind his back and held his other hand out toward Cam. "Just hold on a second Cam," he replied evenly. "There's something you have to see and I just didn't want you to shoot anyone before we could explain."
Cam straightened to his full height and stared menacingly at the man. In his mind Fryer had badly disrespected him and challenged him in a way that couldn't be ignored. He clenched his fist in rage and took a step toward him. "See what? That you've got a sudden death wish? You better give me that gun back right now or I'm gonna kill you with my bare hands!"
"He means me, big guy."
The distinctive soprano of an unfamiliar woman's voice cut into Cam like a knife. As he turned, he already knew who he would see. He gazed at her with death in his eyes, studying her with the practiced eye of a killer. Then his eyes fixated on the rifle she held casually in her hands.
Cam gestured angrily at his assembled men. "Do any of you assholes want to explain what the hell she's doing here with a fucking gun? Have you all lost your minds?! Kill the fucking bitch!"
Myra smiled easily at him, lowering the rifle until its butt rested on the pavement. "I've taken the liberty of explaining to them why that wouldn't be a good idea. Besides, there's been too much killing already. I've offered them another option."
Cam glared at his crew, but none of them dared meet his gaze. He turned to Fryer but his second just shrugged. "She took Darwin's rifle. It was either let her talk or she was gonna start picking us off one by one. Do the math Cam."
Cam gave Darwin a long cold stare before finally turning back toward Myra. "So, you wanted to talk, then talk! I can't wait to hear this!"
"It's pretty simple really, she began." These men are survivors, just like me. It makes more sense for us to work together than to go on trying kill each other, especially considering how things have gone for your side so far."
Cam let her words sink in for a long moment then actually burst out laughing. When he finally composed himself, he grinned wildly. "You gunned down half of my men and now you just want to join up, is that what you're saying? Bitch, you're even crazier than I thought!"
Myra smiled mirthlessly and handed the rifle back to Darwin. "Join up? No, not exactly. I could never take orders from a shit-for-brains man like you." Myra replied flatly as she tied her long, dark hair into a pony tail. The big man's face reddened deeply in anger as she calmly continued on. "No, what I intend to do is challenge you for leadership. Single combat, just you and me. What do you say? Don't tell me you're afraid of a woman?"
Cam sputtered as his rage threatened to explode and raised hand, pointing at Myra. "You crazy fucking cunt! You actually want to fight me? That's your plan?" He laughed in evil derision despite his obvious anger. "What happened to you, little girl? Has the world become such a Hell for you that you actually want to die!"
Cam cackled maniacally, clearly enjoying the apparent absurdity of her plan. In moments, many of his men were laughing with him, as if they just realized how little chance this woman really had against a killer like Cam Bradshaw. Cam gathered the inferred support around him like a cloak, and then spread his arms out as if he were addressing the entire gang. "Well, let me tell you something bitch," he went on menacingly. "I'm not gonna let you die easily or quickly. Oh, I'll kill you in the end, but first I'm gonna beat you bloody and then fuck you good before I finally let you die!"
Myra just nodded, smiling grimly as she slowly side stepped to the big man's left. "Oh, the things you say. I get all wet just thinking about it. So, it's on then? Come on big guy, show me what you've got!"
Seething in anger, Cam took two quick steps toward Myra and swung his massive right arm with every intention of slapping the defiant look right off her face.'In war, the best way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.'
Bo felt completely, helplessly frozen. Hiding behind his rock, he'd heard Myra issue her challenge. Stunned by her audacity, his mind and heart instantly began warring with each other over what he should do. He trusted her instincts and abilities enough to know better than to doubt her, but looking at the mountain of a man she was facing off against, he couldn't help but doubt that even she could hope to beat him in a stand up fight. He pulled his blaster from it's holster and fingered it's grip nervously.
With his blood pumping wildly through his body, he considered stepping out from behind the boulder and killing the big man before it was too late. It was a powerful urge and his muscles tensed in deadly anticipation of acting on it, but down deep he knew it would be the worst thing he could do. There were ten men there, all heavily armed and he had no doubt that whatever truce Myra had managed to arrange would instantly come to an end if he opened fire. Worse still, his blaster had been submerged with him in the quarry lake and he wasn't even sure it would fire at all.
Silently, he cursed himself for not testing it when he'd had the chance. Knowing it was too late, he realized he had no choice but to trust that his mate knew what she was doing. Hugging the stone, he forced himself to stay concealed behind it. He felt terribly conflicted and completely shamed by his decision. Never in his life had he been so unsure of what he should do but slowly, one dreadful thought formed like ice in his mind. If he hurts her, I'm gonna kill him and as many of those assholes as I can!
The chants and whooping cheers of the men resounded over the road as their leader started toward Myra. Unable to intervene, Bo cringed in fear as he watched him take a wild swing at her. What happened next seemed more like an accident or a parlor trick. Just as Cam's blow seemed sure to land, Myra pivoted slightly and gave him what, for all the world, looked like a gentle push. The result though, was anything but gentle.
Caught off balance, Cam's own momentum carried him forward awkwardly. Spinning wildly on his heels, the big man stumbled hard and then fell with a dull thud onto the pavement! For a moment, the cheers faded into stunned silence as the big biker slowly rose to one knee.
Bo watched intently as Myra took a few steps away from the man. She moved with a calm detachment, as if she was completely unconcerned. Then she raised her hand, beckoning the seasoned killer to try again. With a roar, the big biker rose and ran straight toward her, only to grasp empty air again, and again stumble out of control until he landed face first onto the cold, hard blacktop.
The circle of bikers grew eerily quiet as Cam Bradshaw once again struggled to his feet. The burning rage that had fueled his attack dulled into what Myra knew was a slow realization that she was far more dangerous then he first imagined.
Cam rose to his full heigh and wiped a trickle of blood from his quickly swelling lip. Looking at the blood on his hand, he spat a wad of red saliva to the ground. "So, you're some kind of Kung Fu expert, is that it? You really think that's gonna save your scrawny ass, bitch?"
"Something like that, yeah." she replied coldly. "Enough of one to take you down. You're way out of your league here Cam, you're just to stupid to realize it." Her tone was icy and filled with contempt.
Myra continued to circle him as they traded barbs and all the while she watched him intently as he stalked her. With a practiced eye, she noted the way he was favoring his left knee and the fact that he was beginning to press his hand against his lower back as if it were stiffening badly. By her standards, he had been slow and clumsy from the beginning, and she was very much aware that the accumulation of twists and bruises he endured would only worsen his condition. It was by just this sort of grinding, debilitating wear that she planned on defeating him. It was simply a matter of time.
"I don't know what kind of game you think you're playing, bitch" he snarled angrily. "But you can't keep this shit up forever. Once I get my hands on you I'm gonna rip your fucking head off!"
Myra shook her head slowly as if she was saddened by his continued desire to fight. "No, you're not. I could have easily broken your arm or your knee by now. The only reason you're still standing is because I don't want your blood on my hands. The sooner you understand that the better off you'll be."
The big man growled in anger and stepped toward her several times, only to back away again. Myra read his movements easily though. The moves were nothing more than bluffs, crude attempts made in the hope that she would react too soon and create an opening he could exploit.
It was an amateurish strategy she thought. One that may have served him well against other, untrained street fighters like himself, but was nothing more than a waste of precious energy against her.
What Cam Bradshaw couldn't have known was that Myra had been studying the Martial Arts since childhood. From the beginning, she proved to be an extremely gifted and passionate student. By the time she was fourteen, she had earned her Shondon
Black Belt in the Art of Jujitsu. It was a technique that suited her natural quickness, but as the boys she trained against became men, Myra realized that Jujitsu alone wouldn't be enough to reach the goals she had set for herself in a future military career.
As she got older and her training intensified, she understood that any opponent she faced in combat would almost certainly have the advantage of both size and strength. It was a sobering reality for the young girl, and determined that her diminutive size would not hinder her dreams, she searched for a discipline that could offset the natural advantages men she faced would have over her. That search led her to the teachings of a twentieth century Master named Morihei Ueshiba and the Art of Aikido.
Known as the art of Fighting without Fighting, Aikido was perfectly suited to to her small stature. Aided by her natural athleticism and single minded determination, Myra learned quickly. By the time she finished Ranger school, Myra had earned her fourth degree Black belt, and the title Sensei, Yondan.
It was with these skills ready that she waited passively for his next attack. Keeping her gaze fixed on the center of his chest, she anticipated his movements before he could actually make them. When he finally gave into his rage and renewed his attack, she timed the arc of his blow with unerring precision and deflected it with her arm.
As his momentum carried him forward, Myra wrapped her arm around the back of his head and slid her hip under him. Suddenly off balance, Cam's two hundred and twenty pound's became his enemy and he grunted hard as he slammed into the ground.
Once again Myra could have put him into a submission lock but instead stepped away. Safely out of arms reach, Myra wiped her hands together as if she were brushing off so much dirt from her palms. "Don't force me to seriously hurt you Cam. Shattered bones will only mean a slow death for you. Stay down before it's too late."
With his breath knocked out of him and his body aching from head to toe, Cam's angry response died in his throat. He rolled onto his back, barely understanding what had just happened to him.
Like the rest of his gang, Fryer hadn't believed for a minute that Myra would survive the fight. Cam Bradshaw was easily the most dangerous man he'd ever met. To him, her plan to fight Cam had amounted to nothing more than a death wish. The last thing he expected to see was the sight of his boss beat and bleeding on the ground.
The men around him had grown eerily silent, clearly in shock. As surprised as they understandably were though, none of them was as moved by this seemingly impossible turn of events as was the man they called Fryer.
Once, long ago, he had been a 'man of God', a priest and a believer that good would always overcome evil. The war and it's resulting carnage had changed him though and filled him with bitterness. He had seen so much death and so much evil that he had lost his faith. Still, he had joined Cam's gang in the hope that he could somehow temper the mans thirst for destruction, only to find it was he himself who had been seduced. In the years since, he had seen nothing 'Godly' in this unholy world.
Nothing, that was, until Cam hit the ground for that third time. To Fryer, watching such a tiny woman effortlessly master a man like Can Bradshaw was nothing short of a miracle. Like the ancient tale of David and Goliath, she seemed to him as if she were guided by the hand of God.
As Cam lay tired and battered on the ground, a single tear ran down the face of the man who had once been known as Father Thomas Wells. For the first time in many years, he felt the quiet warmth of an old faith cover him as would a great cloak and he pulled a long forgotten rosary from his pocket.
Running it through his withered fingers, he whispered a passage from a book that had once defined his life. "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations."
In that moment, Fryer knew his life had changed forever, no matter how this new day ultimately played out.
With the guilt of his many sins suddenly weighing heavily on his heart, Fryer felt that this was his day of reckoning. He knew he needed to make amends, and that his amends could never be made in the company of a man like Cam Bradshaw. Sadly, he pulled his pistol from his belt and stood over his former leader. "Best you just stay down Cam. The lady doesn't want to be your executioner, but I think you know your blood couldn't stain my hands any worse than they already are. This fight is finished, and so are you."
Cam glared at his former friend with hate in his eyes, but if he had anything to say, the cold stare Fryer returned convinced him otherwise. Scowling darkly, he sat back with his eyes fixed on the barrel of Fryer's gun.
"What about the rest of you?" Fryer said to his men."Any of you have a problem with the change in management?" He waited for a long moment, casting his gaze at man after man but as he expected, none of them were willing to speak in Cam's defense. Cam had been too brutal and too unpredictable for any of them to be truly loyal. With him defeated, their fear of him had vanished, and with it, so did their reason for following him.
Myra nodded to the men, tacitly accepting their support. Although she'd won, part of her still couldn't believe it, or even that she had actually lived through it at all. The biting cold she'd resisted through the night suddenly seeped into her bones and she began shivering hard in the morning air.
Her thoughts clouded thickly with exhaustion, and her grief at losing Bo threatened to overcome her again. She wanted desperately to sleep, but she had one last thing to do before she could even consider letting her guard down.
Looking down at her defeated opponent she swallowed hard, trying desperately to keep herself together just a little longer. "Not long ago," she began, barely keeping the weariness out of her voice, "I was forced to leave everything and everyone I loved. I spent weeks crossing these mountains until I found a man who saved my life." Myra paused briefly as her pain welled up in her her heart, choking her words in her throat. The tears she had not yet shed formed in her eyes, but not wanting Cam to see how badly he'd hurt her, she held them back with iron determination. "He's dead now," she finally went on. "Dead by your orders. For that alone I should kill you."
Myra took a deep breath and then took the gun from Fryer's hand. "I should kill you now. You're too dangerous to have around, and God knows you deserve it, but I won't have your blood on my hands. Instead, I condemn you to the fate that was forced on me. You're going to head west to Oklahoma, alone and on foot. Whether you live or die is in your hands, not mine. But I tell you this Cam, if I ever see you again, I'll kill you where you stand."
Unable to look at the man any longer, Myra turned toward Fryer. "Get him out of here before I change my mind."
"You got it boss." he replied, wondering if it was wise of her to let him live, but still relieved to know she could show such compassion. He watched in admiration as she waked away, then turned back to his men. "Willie! Doug! You two get this piece of shit up and send him on his way. He's got one hell of a long walk ahead of him!"
It took awhile for Bo to understand what had happened. Myra's voice had grown so soft that he couldn't make out her words and by the time he understood it was over, the two men were dragging the big biker to his feet. Overjoyed that she'd won, he was about to call out to Myra when the big man suddenly snapped out of his lethargy and dropped one of the two men with a single, powerful punch.
Horrified, Bo saw him grab the second man's pistol and raise it toward Myra's back. In a panic, Bo snapped his blaster up and fired just as the big man leveled his gun and took aim. The high energy weapon coughed with a sickening squeal and flashed in blue fire as it's wet circuitry burned. The blaster's energy exploded through it's emitter and back through its frame but miraculously the weapon still fired true, sending a bolt of charged particles slamming into Cams body.
The brightness of the flash blinded Bo for a time and he screamed in agony as the heat from the overloaded weapon seared his hand. Through it all, he heard the yells of shock and alarm rise from the bikers and above that, the plaintive scream of a woman's voice.
Knowing in his heart that he was too late, Bo collapsed, overcome as much by his anguish as he was by the physical pain.
As Bo hit the ground, the sound of Myra's screams reverberated in his mind, growing louder and more panicked. Bo was sure he was about to die and he welcomed it, if only it meant he would be spared hearing her painful cries. Then he felt hands holding him, soft, gentle hands and slowly Myra's screams became words that penetrated his stunned and confused mind.
"Bo! Oh my God Bo, don't you die! Don't you die on me again!" Warm, familiar lips kissed his and the soft embrace of Myra's body held him tightly. For the first time since the War, Bo Roberts began to cry.
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<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/fantasy-scifi/the-survivor-ch-3-be-on-the-look-out.aspx">The Survivor ch 3: Be On The Look Out</a>