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Colin King, code-named Ninjak, is the enforcer for the mysterious Weaponeer and the top espionage expert in the world. From martial artists, to demolition, to information acquisition, Ninjak’s multitude of skills and keen intellect keep him a step ahead of his opponents. Additionally, his amazing ability to prepare for any outcome in a given situation means that, no matter how outmatched he may seem, Ninjak always has an ace in the hole!

Whether his approach is stealthy or direct, Ninjak is never caught unprepared!

Hope and Glory

Hope and Glory – Part I

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During a storm in 1984, Dr . Augustus Silkowski recounted for Fitzhugh the events surrounding his father’s death. During a similar storm in 1950 the night before Augie was to start the third grade, a placement test showed he was a genius, a feat his mother said had earned him the chance to go to university for free, which his father, Charlie, objected to and beat his mother to stop. Though used to standing between his parents to spare his mother from harm, Augie had had enough of Charlie’s drunken abuse and lashed out. Furious, Charlie chased Augie to the street. Brandishing his belt, Charlie slipped on the wet floor and fell through the window of a pet shop. Bleeding on the floor from a severed artery, Charlie told Augie to help him, when then a black widow spider bit him for smashing her egg sack. Coldly walking away, Augie went home to get ready for school.

Nine years later, during a reception in Buckingham Palace in 1959, Colonel Neville Alcott and Captain Jonathan King discussed Project Hope and Glory, which purpose was the development of Para–humans. At Neville’s urging, Jonathan was to choose a woman who would carry to term a baby altered from conception through the project. Though Neville objected, Jonathan had his eye on Catherine Harland, who unbeknownst to them was already pregnant with the son of Lord Colin Braxland. That night, Catherine threatened Colin to expose their affair if he did not pay her to stay quiet, a threat that enraged him, so he hit her. Just then, an assassin posing as a waiter showed himself with a gun, but before he could fire, Jonathan, who had discovered the waiter’s body, leapt through the window and stopped him. Upset with Colin, Catherine left with Jonathan.

Days later, Jonathan and Catherine were married by a sea captain on a ship headed to Tokyo, Japan, where Jonathan was to assume the role of ambassador previously vacated by Abnett, a vanished intelligence agent. Within weeks of their arrival, Jonathan noticed that Catherine’s pregnancy was far in advance than it should be, a development he believed was a result of the Hope and Glory injections she was taking.

Five months later Abnett reappeared at the embassy after escaping from Hideyoshi Iwatsu, and before he died he warned Jonathan of Schwarz Top and Shishi. Just then, Catherine went into labor, and two hours later delivered a healthy baby boy. Discovering that the baby was full term and not premature, Jonathan learned the truth about Catherine’s deceit. Deciding to name him Colin, Jonathan told Neville of his intent to raise the baby in Japan. Soon afterwards, Jonathan met with Master Matsuoka, who told him that Abnett was a prisoner at the Musashi Chemical plant owned by Hideyoshi Iwatsu, a recluse industrialist with many political connections. Matsuoka also told Jonathan that Shishi were outlaw ninjas who worked as Iwatsu’s private guard. Warning Jonathan to think before moving against Iwatsu, Matsuoka gave him a ninja uniform to conceal his identity.

10 years later, Neville Alcott, his wife Jessica, and their daughter Jillian visited Bodine Electronics in La Jolla, California, where they met Augustus Silkowski, doctor Marcus Bodine’s partner. Under the pretense of taking a group picture for their second honeymoon, Jessica captured an image of a circuit board that Augie was working on using a double–lens camera.

A week later, Jonathan broke into Musashi garbed in Matsuoka’s uniform. There, he discovered a room where Iwatsu was conducting experiments on children close to Colin’s age. Seen by a guard, Jonathan escaped due to his uniform, which was identical to the ones worn by the Shishi. The next day, Jonathan met Neville, who requested that he allow him to conduct a comparison test between Colin and Jillian, who was also born as a result of Hope and Glory in an effort to save the project after Jonathan decided to stay in Japan. Implying that the effects of the injections might be recessive, Jonathan claimed doubt in their effect on Colin despite his being the top of his class and best athlete in school, then he restated his intent to remain in Japan.

Five years later at the International School, Colin scored the winning goal in a soccer match, which infuriated the goalie, Goro Sanada, and impressed Michiko Okubo, the girl he had a crush on. That night, Michiko’s father, Senator Okubo, who disapproved of her friendship with Colin, ousted Jonathan to Iwatsu.

Two weeks later, Jonathan left the embassy after receiving a tip that Musashi was in Tokyo. Unbeknownst to Jonathan, Colin saw him leave and followed him to a warehouse where Iwatsu had set a trap for him. From atop a crate, Colin saw the Shishi approaching his father and yelled at him, but he was too late and the Shishi sliced Jonathan’s right hand off with a sword. A believer in karma, Iwatsu was certain that if he let Colin go he would grow to avenge his father’s death, so he had the Shishi deal with father and son immediately.

Hope and Glory Part II: Bitter Beginnings

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Begging Iwatsu to spare Colin’s life, Jonathan offered to help with his Schwarz Tod experiments. Revealing that Colin was the product of genetic programming, Jonathan approached Iwatsu to tell him the name of the British project, but instead he grabbed Iwatsu’s robe and told Colin to run. While Colin escaped, a Shishi, reacted to Jonathan’s jostle of their master and killed him. Worried that Jonathan shared his discovery of the Schwarz Tod experiments with Colin, Iwatsu ordered the Shishi to capture him. Running into a dead–end, Colin was rescued by Kyoko, a friend of his father, who disarmed one of the Shishi with a shuriken. Picking up the Shishi’s sword, Colin killed a second Shish before he and Kyoko escaped with Matsuoka. That night, Matsuoka took Colin to Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan, where his brother, Otami, agreed to shelter him.

In a matter of hours, the Japanese government accused Jonathan of being a British spy and confiscated Catherine and Colin’s passports so they would not leave the country, while back in the temple Colin learned that if Iwatsu ever found him he would kill all of them. Elsewhere, Michiko’s father told her that Colin killed a man, but kept the details of the truth to himself. Later in the embassy, Catherine refused to leave Japan without her son even though Neville offered to help her escape, while in Iwatsu’s home, Iwatsu conferred with his aides on the status of Number Seven, a Schwarz Tod survivor he planned to replace the Shishi with.

Two years later, Otami updated Matsuoka, and Kyoto on Colin’s progress in the temple; guided by a schedule of necessity, Colin slept late into the afternoon and confined himself to his room in the evenings to study until dawn. Far in advance for his age, Colin instructed the priests who brought him his meals during the time they were to be teaching him. Troubled by Colin’s isolation, Otami told his brother and Kyoto that he had never seen Colin emote, not even grieve for his father, since the night he arrived. That night, Matsuoka and Kyoto followed Colin to the park, where he defeated in armed combat. Filled with confidence, Colin considered himself their equal, and ready to face Iwatsu, but Matsuoka harshly reminded him that in Nippon he would never be more than a dog, a lesson his father never understood that ended up costing him his life.

A week later, Colin saw Michiko walk into the temple, and garbed with a robe, he approached her to tell her the truth of what happened. After Michiko agreed to meet with him, Colin returned to his room, where Kyoto was waiting for him. Disrobing, Kyoto offered to teach Colin the secrets of the Jade dragon to prepare him to face the allure of a woman. That night, Colin lost his virginity to Kyoto. The next day, Colin met with Michiko at her family’s farm, where he told her the truth and they made love for the first time.

Two years later, while Neville received a photo of Augusts Silkowski at the opening of the new Comsat facility, in Japan Iwatsu met with Goro, his Number Seven, with whom he shared a hatred for Colin. A week later, the Shishi found Colin at the temple and killed Otami. In retaliation, Colin killed them and left their heads outside Iwatsu’s window. Left with no where to go, Colin asked Senator Okubo for help, but he betrayed him to Iwatsu., who growing sick in his old age proposed to let him leave Nippon. However, as a condition of their truce Iwatsu demanded that Catherine stay behind until the day he died. Though Michiko begged him not, Colin, understanding that in Japan he would always be a dog, left. One week later, Colin moved into his father’s state in Canterbury, where he forced Neville to help him get into Oxford University.

Four years later, an explosion at the Comcast facility left a piece of shrapnel embedded in Augustus’ skull, which damaged his frontal lobe. Though Augustus recovered, he lost all his sense of morality and ended with a facial deformity that was a symptom of a degenerate syndrome that would lead to his complete paralysis.

While Colin flourished as a star student in Oxford, graduating top of his class, Augustus’ renamed himself Silk and had Fitzhugh kill Marcus Bodine so he could retain complete control of Comsat. At Marcus’ funeral, his widow shared with Neville her suspicion that Marcus did not commit suicide and that Silk killed him.

Four years later, Iwatsu and Neville met in secret to discuss Silk’s growing web of corporations owned by Comsat. Fearful of loosing his holdings to Silk, Iwatsu offered to release Catherine in exchange for his help. Unable to act directly, Neville contacted Colin and informed him of the situation. As Silk himself was untraceable, Colin followed his personal physician’s trail to Monte Carlo. Garbed in his Ninjak uniform, Colin broke into a sub–basement op–center where he deleted all the files in their computers. Discovered by Silk’s bodyguards, Ninjak fooled into shooting the computers with their own guns. Injuring Fitzhugh with his shuriken, Ninjak faced Silk and then left. Hours later in Silk’s casino Colin learned from Smyth, Neville’s aide, that his mother never reached her plane in Japan. Heartbroken, Colin walked away.

Blackwater

Blackwater Part I

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While monitoring the unauthorized sale of missile launchers by rogue Weaponeer agent Pierre De Vries to a man called Saleh Abdel and a group of unknown nationals at a pier in Monaco, Ninjak saw as Dominique, Pierre’s wife, killed him with his own gun and then left to meet with Colin King for a date. Once she left, Ninjak dispatched Saleh’s men and recovered a bracelet from Pierre’s hand he took from Dominique that alerted him to Webnet’s involvement in the transaction. Using the missile launcher, Ninjak destroyed the rest of the weapons cache and left, leaving Saleh alive in the water off the pier.

At hour later at the Princess hotel, Colin King entered Dominique’s room and returned her bracelet under the pretense that he found it on the hallway. As Dominique and Colin made love, Saleh called to warn her she was in danger, but Colin made sure she would not answer the phone. When Saleh and his men arrived, Colin confronted Dominique and demanded that she tell him what she knew about Dr. Silk and Webnet, but she refused to talk. Breaking into the room, Saleh saw Ninjak by the window draped in shadows and ordered his men to shoot him. Pushed by the barrage, Ninjak fell out the window into the street, where the light of the moon revealed him to be Dominique garbed in a tunic with tape over her arms and mouth. Standing on a ledge over the window, Colin dropped a red rose over Dominique’s body, while inside, Saleh told his men that regardless of what happened nothing could stop Blackwater and then ordered them to retreat.

12 hours later at the King State in South London, Colin called Henri Montblanc to warn him that they only had 48 hours to prepare until Silk retaliated, and to recommend that he suspend all Weaponeer activity until he intervened, but Montblanc refused to heed his warning.

At Webnet’s headquarters, Dr. Silk, having discovered that Saleh killed Dominique and intended to blackmail their suppliers to profit from it, killed him by sealing him inside a tube with hundreds of black widow spiders as a lesson for the others in the organization to ensure their loyalty. Moments later, Silk ordered that Webnet focus on destroying the Weaponeer’s organization, in particular their enforcer, Ninjak.

The next day, Montblanc watch a report on television that 132 Weaponeer agents across the globe had been murdered. In a panic, Montblanc fled his office, but soon as he made it outside two armed thugs gunned him down. Leaping off the roof, Ninjak kicked a man through the window of his car and then killed the other with his sais. Though he was injured, Montblanc got in his car and drove himself and Ninjak away, unaware that they were in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle.

Thinking that they were clear of danger, Ninjak forced Montblanc to stop the car, which unfortunately activated a rigged canister that filled the inside with Blackwater that threatened to drown them.

Blackwater Part II: Deluge

Pushing on the accelerator, Ninjak crashed the car into a church, which shattered the windshield. Leaping out of the car, Ninjak turned to see that Montblanc was dead, and with him so was the Weaponeer’s organization. Removing the canister from the beneath the car, Ninjak left the scene just as the constabulary arrived. The next day at WEBNET’s Blackwater facility, Fitzhugh informed Dr. Silk that both Montblanc and Ninjak were dead. Accusing him of being incompetent, Dr. Silk pointed Fitzhugh to the news, which showed that though the authorities found Montblanc’s body, Ninjak’s was nowhere in sight.

Three days later at the King Estate in Canterbury, Colin tracked the components in the device he found to a series of legit purchases made by subsidiaries of Comsat International, the front for WEBNET. Following this clue to Rio de Janeiro, Ninjak stalked Calder, a WEBNET operative, to a WEBNET helicopter he managed to board. 12 hours later, a briefing of the joint chiefs of staff in Washington DC was called to analyze data by Ninjak in their secret AR–21 spy satellite that revealed the location of a secret WEBNET biological weapons factory in Brazil and their plans to infect North America with Blackwater in three days.

Somewhere in the Brazilian rain forest, the WEBNET helicopter entered an underground facility hidden behind a waterfall. Leaping off the copter before it landed, Ninjak proceeded to infiltrate their computer mainframe and download the formula for Blackwater. Giving himself 15 minutes to escape, Ninjak activated the Blackwater nanite reactor to explode. Just then, Zeigler, a WEBNET mole within NORAD, informed Dr. Silk of the US’s discovery of his plans and of an impending SEAL strike of his facility.

Intentionally activating the alarm to cause a massive evacuation, Ninjak dispatched Silk’s security guards and made his way to an underground tunnel where according to the facility’s schematics Dr. Silk kept a getaway subway. Kneeling beside the elevator waiting for Silk to arrive, Ninjak threw a handful of blast bearings on the floor to create a deception, unaware that Sabrina, Silk’s plaything, was coming up from behind with a gun. As the elevator doors opened, Silk and Fitzhugh saw Sabrina kneeled beside a seemingly dead Ninjak holding the CD he made earlier and a gun in her hands. Thinking that she killed Ninjak, Silk congratulated Sabrina, who revealed she was an undercover CIA agent and ordered them to surrender.

Knocking the gun off her hand, Fitzhugh grabbed Sabrina by the hair and prepared to kill her, when then Ninjak stood up and kicked him across the head against the wall, knocking him out. Taking the CD from Silk, Ninjak revealed that Sabrina did not shoot him, and that the sound they heard was from his blast bearings. Just then, the entire structure shook and the tunnel filled with Blackwater. Ignoring Silk’s plea to take him with him, Ninjak took Sabrina’s hand and pulled her into the subway, leaving Silk and Fitzhugh to drown.

Two weeks later, people in two continents had as many questions as they did before. While the Americans wondered who left Sabrina in a hospital in Rio, where she experienced withdrawal from the drugs that Silk and Fitzhugh kept her under while she was in their care, Neville and Charles "John" Sinclair wondered if there really was such a thing as a Blackwater formula, unaware that Colin King held its secrets in his possession.

The 7th Dragon

The 7th Dragon – Part I

At the home of Senator Okubo in Osaka, Shotaro Ishimatsu, a Yakuza lieutenant, cautioned the senator that his refusal to concede his Oyabun’s request for help put Michiko at risk. After Shotaro and his men left, the Senator decided to call an individual that even the Yakuza feared, much to Michiko’s dismay.

A week later at a costume party in Buckingham Palace, Colin King and his aunt Margaret came across Neville and Jillian. Aware that their invitation to the party was a ruse plotted by Neville, Colin had no qualms with making his feelings about him known and left with his aunt. Minutes later Colin met with Neville, who asked him to join his organization. Claiming that he had nothing to offer him Colin walked away, but at the mention of Michiko Okubo he stopped in his tracks and accepted Neville’s invitation to meet with him the next day. That night, at a swanky nightclub in Osaka where Shotaro and his men discussed their taking advantage of Michiko’s recent disappearance, of which they had no part in, a gigantic individual in a Kendo outfit carrying a sword walked up to their table and delivered a box that held the severed head of their messenger, Tomo. After killing Shotaro’s men, the individual ripped his clothes, revealing a dragon tattoo on his chest, and warned Shotaro that unless he returned Michiko he would suffer the wrath of the Seventh Dragon.

Hours later, at MI–5 headquarters beneath Heathrow Airport, as Sinclair escorted Colin to Neville’s office they walked past Bloodshot, who much to Colin’s surprise recognized that he was Ninjak. Minutes later, while Sinclair took Colin’s Ninjak gear to Dr. Watson, the head of their weapons division, for her to arm it, Neville briefed Colin on recent events in Japan, including Michiko’s disappearance six days earlier, which he believed was due to the Yakuza kidnapping her to force her father to capitulate to their demands. Though Colin offered the possibility that the senator had hidden Michiko for her safety, Neville dismissed his theory. Moving on, Neville told Colin that Shotaro was the only survivor of the massacre at the night club. Shown video footage of the attack, Colin recognized the tattoo on the killer’s chest as belonging to Goro. Telling Neville to release Shotaro so he could follow him to his Oyabun, Toshiro Matsuda, Colin took his leave.

Later that night in Osaka, Ninjak followed Shotaro to Toshiro’s home, where he overheard the Oyabun order Shotaro to kill Senator Okubo to invalidate his contract with Goro, the 7th Dragon. Sometime later, Shotaro and a group of ninjas broke into the senator’s home, but before they could kill him Ninjak arrived and dispatched them. Enduring the senator’s insults, Ninjak inquired about Michiko’s location, but the senator, who was upset with the profound effect that Colin had on his daughter, refused to answer. Throwing a picture of Michiko on the fireplace, Okubo accused Colin of causing her to turn against him and expressed his disgust at the notion of the two of them sneaking off to their secret hideaway. Just then, Goro, to whom the senator had promised Michiko’s hand in exchange for his help, arrived and Okubo ordered him to kill Ninjak, who having realized where Michiko was, leapt out the window and escaped on his motorcycle.

Three hours later, Colin arrived at the Okubo farm and found Michiko there. Unfortunately, not long after he got there, four helicopters swooped down and landed on their position.

The 7th Dragon – Part II: Dragonslayer

Inside the deserted family farm of Senator Okubo in Rural Japan, the Senator demanded that Colin face Goro or leave his daughter, a threat Michiko begged her father to withdraw. Calming Michiko, Colin told Goro that the Senator duped him into killing for him with the pretense that he would give him her hand. Though the Senator assured Goro that Colin was lying, Colin asked Goro how the Senator knew where to find Michiko and said that he waited for them to save them from Makuda’s assassins. Just then, Matsuda’s men opened fire on the farmhouse from a chopper and hit the Senator. Pushing the Senator out of the way, Colin led Michiko and Goro down a tunnel, while inside the chopper Matsuda ordered his men to land and recover the bodies.

Standing on the mouth of a cave, Colin donned his mask to go deal with Matsuda despite Michiko’s plea that they leave. Pointing out that her father was in no condition to travel, Colin said that it was only a matter of time until Matsuda found them. Concurring, Goro offered to help over Colin’s protests, then as they walked away Michiko found blood on her hand. Moments later, while Matsuda’s men found the tunnel and Colin and Goro blew up the choppers, at the Japanese Secret Service regional office in Kobe City, a Mr. Takeshi, whose satellites surveyed the Okubo farm, told his men to notify the police of the attack and to send back–up.

Though Colin tried to stop Matsuda from leaving in the last chopper, he escaped while Colin dispatched one of his men. As Colin returned to the farm and Michiko ran to his side, afraid that the blood was his, Goro accused the Senator of lying and being a disgrace even by Yakuza standards, when then he collapsed from a wound on his hip that he sustained while protecting Michiko. 20 minutes later, after Colin stopped Goro’s bleeding, Okubo heard the sound of police sirens in the distance, and, certain that his political career was over, conceded that Goro was right and he was a disgrace. Standing up, Goro accepted to take responsibility for what he did, and, consenting that it took a Gaijin to show him real honor, agreed to surrender to the police, a self–sacrifice that earned him Michiko’s respect. Offering a solution beneficial for all, Colin gave Okubo and Michiko instructions on what to tell the police while he and Goro escaped in his motorcycle. Moments later, Takashi told Okubo and Michiko that Ninjak was an MI–5 operative working with the Kempei Tai, and that their refusal to cooperate hindered their joint venture. Following Colin’s instructions, Michiko threatened to tell the news bureaus that the Imperial Secret Service used senators as pawns unless Takashi let them go.

14 hours later, at Matsuda’s Castle, Matsuda was confident that his guards and sensors would alert him of Ninjak’s arrival, when the power suddenly went out. While Ninjak dispatched the guards, Goro entered the compound. Searching in the shrine, Goro barely avoided a strike from Matsuda’s sword. Walking out into the hallway garbed in Samurai armor, Matsuda demanded that Goro face him, then soon as he did he recognized his half–brother. Brandishing his sword, Matsuda damned Goro to hell, but before he could strike Goro cut him in the stomach with his sword. Severing Matsuda’s arm Goro was ready to kill him, but suddenly Ninjak broke his sword in half with a shuriken. Assuring Goro that he proved his honor, Colin warned him to leave before the police arrived. Watching Ninjak leave, Goro said that he did not wish their paths to cross again. Finding Takashi waiting for him, Colin told him to enter the castle and arrest Matsuda.

The next day, at the Okubo residence, Colin was ready to take Michiko with him to London, but looking at him with tears in her eyes, she told him that she had to stay with her father, who had cancer and wanted to see his grandchildren before he died. Feigning understanding, Colin left Michiko and returned home.

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket – Part I

In Ulster County in Upstate New York, at the home of Aric Dacia, X–O Manowar repelled an attack from a group of assassins garbed in ninja outfits bearing the colors and markings of Ninjak’s own uniform. While Aric returned to the office to ask Ken Clarkson if he knew anything about the attack, Randy Cartier stayed behind to bury the assassins’ bodies, unaware that a man standing on a snow mount in the distance was watching her. Two hours later, at the Orb Industries offices in New York, Aric burst into Ken’s office and interrupted a meeting between Ken and Colin King, who he obliquely dismissed and sent on his way.

Thirty minutes later across town, Colin made his way onboard the USS Intrepid, a naval museum that served as a front for a joint CIA/British Intelligence station. Meeting with Neville, Colin reported that his mission to infiltrate Orb Industries was a failure, but nonetheless, he sat by a computer and used it to hack his way into the company’s mainframe. Back at Orb, as Ken informed Aric of a series of lawsuits against the company that could force Orb into a bankruptcy, he discovered Colin’s intrusion, the latest in a series of raids connected to the lawsuits. Using the X–O, Aric stopped Colin’s download of the company’s records of product–related injuries, but then Colin severed the link. Leaving, Aric was resolute to discover the identity of his infiltrator. One mile away, in a WEBNET laboratory, Dr. Silk congregated with a captured Spider Alien informant.

That evening, Colin broke into Orb Industries and disabled the surveillance system. Donning the Manowar Class Armor, Aric destroyed Colin’s bypass while his remote node found Ninjak in the computer room downloading the data he stopped him from acquiring earlier. Believing that Ninjak was another assassin, Aric confronted him in the stairwell, but using a flash grenade, Ninjak ran into the elevator. As Aric followed him, Ninjak recognizing him and removed his mask. As Colin told Aric that he believed someone was setting them up, the elevator cables blew up. Kicking Aric out before the doors closed, Colin stayed inside as the cart fell down the shaft.

Outside in a limo, Fitzhugh told Dr. Silk that he caught Aric on tape with the armor and left to meet with him.

Full Metal Jacket – Part II

Flying down the shaft, X–O Manowar grabbed the cables and pulled the cart up to an open floor so that Colin could leap out of the elevator. Standing in a hallway, Colin told Aric that he was there to stop whoever was trying to bankrupt his company by altering his computer databases to reflect thousands of lawsuits against it because he worried that if they could do that to Orb they could do it to anyone else. Meanwhile, in Columbus Circle, Fitzhugh boarded a rail car that took him to Dr. Silk’s favorite arboretum less than a mile away, where at that same moment, Dr. Silk sacrificed one of his lackeys to the Spider Alien, who had informed him of the existence of the X–O Manowar, which he planed to use to heal his decrepit body.

That night, in New York’s Little India, X–O Manowar and Ninjak followed an address from a calling node that Aric found in Ninjak’s disc using the armor to the Hindu School for Metaphysical Study, which turned out to be a dead end. Returning to Orb, Colin called Grant, a CIA liaison, at the Intrepid and asked him to locate the calling node. Less than 30 minutes later, Ninjak and X–O breached a WEBNET facility a hundred feet beneath Central Park. Though hesitant to believe that Silk had survived, Ninjak nevertheless accepted the fact and went looking for him to finish what he started. After Ninjak dispatched Silk’s men, Aric followed the Dr. and Fitzhugh into the rail car tunnel, but as he got to them they detonated a series of mines and escaped. Back in the facility, Ninjak fought and defeated the Spider Alien, earning Aric’s respected.

Interlude

Fire And Forget

Following the assassination of two UN ambassadors on US soil by a terrorist known as Djinn, security at JFK International Airport had stepped up for the arrival of UN negotiator Spiro Duranna, but, laying in wait in the airport’s environmental control room, Djinn serenely assembled a high–tech gun designed to kill Spiro.

Watching Spiro and his aides make their way through the airport, Colin King, who had an intuitive feeling that he did not want to be right about following the two murders, decided to miss his plane to London and stay to watch over him. Having met Spiro before, Colin liked him for having the frankness and objectivity needed for the peace talks. Suddenly, Colin noticed three smart bullets zigzagging through the multiple secret service agents in the airport and hit Spiro on the chest, killing him instantly. While mass panic chocked the stairs, and the secret service men wasted their time looking for a line–of–sight marksman, Colin leapt onto the mezzanine and searched the area for Ishak Hadji, aka Djinn, a trusted member of the Weaponeer’s inner circle who two years earlier betrayed him and stole the Forget–Me–Not smart gun. Disguised as a pregnant woman, Djinn approached a man waiting in line at the gate. Injecting him with an air bubble, Djinn pushed the man through the metal detector and dropped a gun on his lap. While the police took the man’s body away, a stewardess took Djinn to the plane right past Colin, who recognized Ishak and followed him.

Though the flight was full, Colin managed to get a seat behind Djinn using a pay phone and a portable modem to access the airline’s database. Not long after the plane left the tarmac, Djinn ditched his disguise and took the plane hostage in the name of the Arab Ascendancy Militia. Opening fire to get everyone’s attention, Djinn killed two flight attendant, while Colin pretended to fall down during the barrage. While Djinn left to see the pilot, Colin stood up and found a bomb in the bathroom.

Returning to the passenger hold after informing the authorities that he was on board and shooting the radio in the cockpit, Djinn asked the passengers to remain in their seats, when just then Ninjak leapt out of the service lift and kicked the gun off his hands. Equally unarmed, as his weapons were on their way to London, Ninjak had to rely on his armor and himself. During a hand–to–hand combat, Ninjak surmised that Djinn intended to crash the plane while he escaped with a parachute to fake his death. Gaining the upper hand, Djinn knocked Ninjak down and recovered the forget–me–not smart gun, and taking aim shot Ninjak. Dodging the smart bullet, Ninjak grabbed a kid’s Gameboy and used it to interfere with the bullet’s lock.

Throwing the Gameboy out the open door, Ninjak beat Djinn and took the smart gun, then he aimed it at his head and fired, but the clip was empty. Mocking Ninjak, Djinn jumped off the plane. Running back to the bathroom, Ninjak grabbed the bomb and jumped after Djinn. As Ninjak approached Djinn, the smart bullet, reprogrammed with Djinn’s face, hit him on the head and killed him instantly. Gliding toward Djinn, Ninjak grabbed him and opened the chute. Landing in a forest, Colin walked away feeling satisfied.

Chaos Effect Gamma

Lights Out

Finding the Secret Weapons running an exercise outside Heathrow airport, Bloodshot stopped Mach’s high–jinks before he alerted airport security of their presence. Asking Bloodshot to let him run the team his way, Sinclair reminded him that he was the Secret Weapon’s leader, a de facto decision that Sonar, who Bloodshot could tell was bitter over what happened to the original Para–Man, did not agree to. Upset, Sinclair told Sonar that there were many things he did not agree with that he was stuck with, just like she was stuck with him. Just then, Jillian arrived to inform the team that they had clearance to enter the Tower of London to diffuse a hostage situation. Watching the Secret Weapons walk away, Bloodshot whispered to Jillian that for a new team they already had a lot going against them. Meanwhile in suburban London, the Immortal Enemy, empowered by the influx of necromantic energy, gained the ability to transfer his consciousness from Timmy, his latest incarnation, to the boy’s father without touching his new host or having to kill the child.

Beneath the Tarmac of Heathrow Airport, as Bloodshot made his way to the locker room to retrieve his bag, the lights suddenly went out and the lift he was in plummeted to the ground. Awakening an hour later unable to access his internal clock, read his metabolic system, or employ his enhanced strength, Bloodshot realized that his nanites shut down when the elevator did. Some miles away, the Immortal Enemy, drawn into town by the effects of chaos, wandered the empty streets, which reminded him of the days when he could kill an entire family and it would take the authorities weeks to find the bodies. Two hours later, the Immortal Enemy discovered that he was burning out his host’s body and needed to find another one, when then he ran into an acceptable subject.

Under Heathrow, Bloodshot, unsure of what was going on topside, retrieved a dead guard’s gun and made his way to a system of access tunnels Neville told him about once. Coming upon a fork in the road, Bloodshot, unable to access any of the data stored in the nanites, had to make an educated guess on what path to follow, one of which had been walled off years earlier. Above ground, not many miles away, Cheng followed the death energy that caused the chaos around him in his new body, leaving Lloyd’s corpse behind on the lawn.

Reaching a dead end, Bloodshot turned back and found an exit that opened in a cemetery. Staring at Big Ben, Bloodshot noticed that there were no lights on in the city. Presuming that Para–Man had the sense to abort the mission, Bloodshot went to find the Secret Weapons. Sometime later, outside the Tower of London, Cheng attacked a sentry and two police officers, one of which shot him. Hitting Cheng on the back with the butt of his gun, Bloodshot stopped him from snapping a cop’s neck, when then, he recognized his distinctive eyes. Fighting Cheng hand to hand, Bloodshot accused him of being part of the craziness around them. Grabbing Bloodshot by the neck, Cheng, who was unable to take over his body, told him that he could make him watch while others died. Taking a switchblade out of a pouch, Bloodshot slashed Cheng’s face.

Certain that Cheng was connected to the night’s events, and feeling a different type energy coming off of him, Bloodshot chased him inside the tower. Feeling the same energy coming from the top of the tower, Bloodshot deduced that it was the center of all the chaos. Reaching the top of the tower, Cheng searched for the Silver Basin, a container of death energy that held the necromantic power he needed. Following the basin’s call to a hall in the wall, Cheng stepped through it, when then, Bloodshot jumped him and pushed him into the other room, where the Secret Weapons were fighting a man called Crona.

Clothes Make The Man

Standing outside the White Tower, Carol Hatcher accused Sinclair of not deserving to wear his suit, then she said that Richard Grant would not have had them stand there like fools during a hostage situation. Pointing at the guards, Sinclair told Carol that there were two of their own inside, and that they deserved every chance to rectify the situation themselves. Laying against a tree, Andre DuBois asked Joe Valez what moved Carol, Richard’s death or the fact that Sinclair was wearing his Para–Man suit, which he himself was not sure he deserved. Assuring Andre that Sinclair, with whom he had worked before, could handle the suit, Joe said that Carol was another story. Fed up, Sinclair ordered Carol to fall in line, when then Tex, one of the burglars, opened fire on the guards. Telling the others to check their suits’ batteries, Para–Man ordered them to breach the tower.

Standing by a window at the top of the tower, Tex watched with delight as the guards scattered, when then a raven flew at him and he shot him. Recounting the legend of the ravens that guard the royal treasures in the tower, the burglars’ leader, a blonde woman, told them that the queen could sleep easy as they were too stupid to pull of a simple robbery. Telling the woman that there was time for them to retrieve the Silver Basil, Tex questioned why their boss wanted her to tag along and wondered what her part in the robbery was. Assuring Tex that he did not have to worry about her, the woman told him that he worry about the storm. Telling Tex that he would find out why she was there soon enough, the woman discreetly placed her hand on a knife.

Under the cover of a blanket of white noise generated by Sonar’s suit, the Secret Weapons broke into the tower, startling a sentry in the lower level. Advancing on the man from opposite sides, Tank and Mach told him to lower his weapon, when then the lights went out. Refusing to surrender, the man shot Tank, who snapped his neck. Upstairs, the woman killed all the burglars and filled the basin with their blood, which released a surge of energy. Kneeling down, the woman recited an incantation that called forth Crona, a spirit trapped within the basin that manifested beside her. Seeking nourishment, Crona sucked the woman’s soul.

Hearing a scream, Para–Man sent Mach to investigate, but soon as he took a step, Mach fell down and they all discovered that their suits no longer worked, but nevertheless, Para–Man ordered them to go up. Reaching the top of the tower, the Secret Weapons were astonished to find the badly decomposed corpses of the guards and the burglars. Enraged, Sonar accused Sinclair of being responsible for those people’s deaths, when then Crona ordered them to leave him to the power in the basin or suffer the same fate as the other mortals.

Angered, Mach lunged against Crona, who easily pushed him out of his way. Grabbing a scepter, Tank hit Crona across the jaw, but proving to be stronger than he was, Crona grabbed Tank’s neck and pushed him to the ground. Looming over Tank, Crona reached for his head to rip it off his shoulders, when then Sonar came running toward him with a sword. Promising to keep her alive long enough for her to see her own body rot, Crona shot Sonar with a blast from his hand, but then Para–Man tackled her to the ground before it connected. Standing over Para–Man and Sonar, Crona accused them of distracting him from tapping into the power within the basin, when just then, Bloodshot and the Immortal enemy came crashing through a wall.

Grabbing the side of the basin, the Immortal Enemy could feel it drawing the power from whatever was going on outside in great amounts, while Crona, sensing that he was not like the others, warned him not to test him. Deciding that they were out of their league, Para–Man ordered the others to retreat, but Bloodshot refused to let either Cheng or Crona have the basin. Telling Para–Man that whatever was going on outside powered Cheng, Bloodshot explained that it was the silver that was focusing it and ordered him to destroy it. Certain that his suit would protect him, Tank grabbed Mach and threw him against the basin, which shattered into a dozen pieces. Enraged, Crone lunged against Tank, when suddenly the ravens swoop down on the broken pieces of the basin and took them with them, taking Crona’s power as well. Grabbing an ax, Tank then beheaded Crona, who turned into energy and vanished.

Sometime later, while paramedics took Bloodshot out in a stretcher, Carol accused Sinclair of killing Richard and two guards had to drag her away.

Heart’s Desire

While on his way to Heathrow Airport, where Neville was expecting him to brief him on a mission to capture Janine Noir, who had escaped from MI–6, Colin King avoided an airplane that crashed within meters of his car. Feeling the blistering heat on his face and the stench of aviation fuel and smoke in the air, Colin wondered what brought the plane down, when then he heard the shrieking sound of a second plane crashing behind him and he realized that there was nothing natural about these disasters. Sometime later, Ninjak broke into MI–6 headquarters through the vent system. Informing Alcott that Heathrow was a disaster area, with planes dropping like lead balloons, Ninjak asked if anyone knew what was going on, so Sinclair told him that before everything died on them they registered a global power surge on the electromagnetic scale.

Deducing that Silk would be blind and more helpless than he had ever been before, Ninjak wanted to strike, when, suddenly, Mademoiselle Noir, empowered by the chaos effect, materialized in the middle of the room as an unearthly Goddess behind a carpet of red muzzle flash fired by puppets who were once MI–6’s finest. Falling to their knees, all the men in the room became Noir’s slaves, except for Ninjak, who despite his racing heart and lust for her, resisted her irresistible charms. Amazed by Ninjak’s resistance, Janine desired to know more about him. Taking Ninjak to a tropical island, Janine found him to be a man who had strength that made him a worthy lover. Savoring his immunity to her power, Noir found Colin to be everything she desired.

Confessing that when Master Darque made her what she was she lost the chance to love, Janine told Colin that she loathed the human cattle that fell at her feet, and that she longed for a partner who would love her, not her powers. In awe of her, Colin told Janine that in exchange of her taking him to face Dr. Silk so that he could finally end his struggle with him, he would be hers forever. Finding his heart’s desire to be a fair exchange for her own, Janine entered Colin’s mind and used his memory of Silk to take him to Dr. Silk.

Appearing in Webnet central in less than a blink of an eye, Ninjak engaged Silk’s security guards, when then Janine ended their lives with a snap of her fingers. Telling her to stay out of his business, Ninjak moved forward, but Janine ignored him and continued to interfere, until he threatened to rescind their deal unless she allowed him to finish things his way. Reaching the inner sanctum, Ninjak swiftly dispatched Fitzhugh, Silk’s bodyguard. Holding Silk at bay with the tip of his sword, Ninjak ignored his pleas for mercy and was ready to strike, but then he hesitated and pulled back. Realizing that his journey had been a mockery of everything he struggled for, Ninjak accused Janine of taking away the challenge and the prize of being hollow. Accusing Ninjak of being unbearably noble or pathetically squeamish, Janine used her spell on Silk to make him beg Ninjak to kill him, but turning his back on both of them, Ninjak told her to let him go and called their deal off.

Upset, Janine blasted Ninjak across the room with a wave of her hand and threatened to burn the flesh from his bones if he defied her any further, when just then, she noticed Fitzhugh wheeling Silk out of the room. Though she commanded him to return to her, Janine’s spell did not work on Fitzhugh, who took Silk away. Facing Ninjak, Janine demanded that he honor their deal. Asking Janine to reach into his mind, Colin told her that it was fitting that they should be together since they were kindred spirits destined to never find real love again. Showing her his memories of Michiko, Colin told Janine that her prize was as empty as his. Appalled, Janine accused Colin of buying her help with an empty promise. Her heart fluttering away, Janine released Ninjak, who through the vestige of their psychic bond, felt her hopelessness before she vanished.

Finding himself alone, Ninjak centered his thoughts and focused to drive aside the madness of that insane day. Though he threw away the change to kill Silk, Ninjak felt no regret, certain that Silk would soon die by his hand in a victory that he would earn. Hearing Webnet’s guards approaching, rallied, rearmed, and returned in force, Ninjak welcomed the challenge.

Risen From The Dead

Outside Heathrow airport, Gilad Anni-Padda witnessed as an airplane crashed on the tarmac after its engines cut off as a result of the strange clouds gathered overhead. Wondering if anyone survived the crash, Gilad jumped over a fence and ran toward the airplane to help the survivors. Ripping a door off its hinges, Gilad walked inside the plane, while outside the paramedics and ambulances gathered around the crash. Kicking the emergency door aside, Gilad emerged from the wreck holding two children on his shoulders. Hearing the paramedics say that even their flashlights did not work, Gilad felt like he was back in the dark ages. Watching the paramedics take the passengers away, glad that theirs was the only plane on the glide path, Gilad wondered what would have caused the disaster, when just then, he felt a strange sensation that drew him elsewhere. Resigned to accept that the whole world seemed to have turned on its rear end in the last few hours, Gilad decided to play by the new rules and followed the strange calling wherever it might take him. Meanwhile, Malloch, empowered by the chaos effect, escaped his confinement within a cavern in a hillside near Heathrow

Sensing Gilad’s presence in a horse ranch where he was borrowing a mare, Malloch thanked the fates for delivering his old enemy into his hands. Retreating into the cavern, a resting place prepared by his followers, Malloch opened his lady Julia’s crypt and commanded her to rise so they might reign once again, but the death power that brought him back was not enough to rouse her from her slumber. Soon, Malloch found Gilad looking to take what he sought from him. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Geoff McHenry made his way to Gilad’s apartment looking to gather others who could help him against the chaos effect, when suddenly the pipes blew up and the stairwell filled with water that threatened to drown him.

While riding through a canyon, Gilad got the inexplicable feeling that Geoff was in trouble, when suddenly Malloch threw him off his horse. Lunging against Gilad, Malloch said that his death would awaken his lady, but Gilad hit him across the fate with a rifle and knocked him to the ground. Looming over Malloch, Gilad told him that he believed that he had died in a fire. Crawling away, Malloch said that the cursed silver coins wielded power beyond that ken that saved his body even as the fire took away his life, and that he had laid there ever since, interred alongside his coven, waiting for that night of death. Shooting the mountain to seal the entrance to the cave, Gilad told Malloch that he would have to dig his friends out. Crying out for Julia, Malloch used his power to barrage Gilad with a pile of rocks, but, standing his ground, Gilad shot him repeatedly. Taunting Malloch to pray to his dark Gods to keep his dusty bones together, Gilad shot him in the chest and said that that night was no different than the other times he defeated him and his damned priests.

Standing over Malloch’s remains, Gilad wondered what had brought him back. Taking a dagger from his bag, Gilad walked into Malloch’s resting chamber to finally bring peace to the lost souls that followed him and look again upon the face of the woman he stole from him. Back in Brooklyn, Geoff yelled for anyone to help him and asked the walls to tell him how to get out, when, suddenly, he vanished in a flash of light.

Reaching London’s East Side on his mare, Gilad felt Geoff calling him again, but he also felt that he was all right. Thinking that if anyone in the city would know what was going on it would be his brother, and that he would not be surprised if he had a hand in it, Gilad rode to Ivar’s apartment, where he found a letter addressed to Aram that said that Ivar had left in a time arc. Getting the feeling that the world was coming to an end, Gilad left Ivar’s apartment thinking that there was nothing he could do about it.

Fossil Fuel

Trapped in the flooded stairwell of Gilad’s building, Geoff McHenry could no longer feel the geo–lines of the Earth, when, suddenly, he vanished in a flash of light and reappeared in a cemetery in New Orleans where Sandria Darque told him that the world was full of Darque energy and that chaos was upon them. Taking Geoff by the hand, Sandria told him that there were others they needed to find before they traveled to Ladakh.

That evening, while Archer and Aram were stuck in Los Angeles traffic, an earthquake shattered the bridge they were on and sent all the cars down to the ground. While helping the other drivers, Archer got the feeling that Ladakh was calling him home, so he and Aram went to find a way to get there. As they sky darkened and the temperature fell, Archer said that it seemed like the end of the world, when then he and Aram came upon a mini mall under the protection of a man armed with two guns that was keeping the looters away. Stepping forth, Archer assured the man, Fred Ames of Ames music, that they were not looters. Shortly, a group of actual looters broke into the store, and while Archer and Aram attempted to dispatch them without bloodshed, one of them shot Aram in the chest and Fred, unaware of Aram’s immortality, killed him. Astonished to see Aram still standing, Fred gave him a boxed set of jazz recording as a thank you for his help.

Taking their leave, Archer and Aram followed a crack in the Earth that lead directly to Ladakh that took them to a petroleum field overran by dinosaurs. Igniting the oil around them to cook the dinosaurs, Archer and Aram took shelter in a ridge within the crevice. Just as the fire sucked the oxygen up, and it looked like the end was at hand, Sandria and Geoff appeared and took Aram and Archer with them to Ladakh. Telling them that the chasm would take them to the temple, Sandria left to search for the one who could end the chaos.

As Archer and the others neared the temple, a volley of arrows stopped them in their tracks. Showing himself, Chan ordered them to halt where they were, but then Archer told him that they were friends and had come to help. Aware of who Archer was, Chan gladly guided them to the temple. Reaching a high peak from where they could look at the temple in the distance, Archer knelt before it, grateful that he was able to see it again. Telling Archer and the others that a traveler had fallen out of the sky and not yet regained consciousness, Chan took them inside the temple in the hope that they might recognize him. Walking inside a room where the monks kept Ivar as comfortable as possible, Aram knelt beside his brother and grabbed his hand in his.

Interlude II

Dogs Of War

One night in London, Mekurakan, a trained assassin posing as a blind man, cornered Kyogami, a Japanese negotiator, and ordered his dogs to kill him for conspiring against the future prosperity of Japan. The next day, Neville Alcott informed Colin King that he assigned units to protect the remaining diplomats except for Taka Wasura, who out of honor refused their protection. Since Colin had dealt with Taka before, Neville asked him to talk to him and help him see things their way.

That night, outside Crowley Hall, Colin met with Taka, who adamantly refused to accept protection from his people because it would be public acceptance of British intervention and cast shadows on his honor. Urging Taka to accept that isolation was foolish, and that he had to accept what the global community had to offer, like the trade agreement, Colin warned Taka that his sole bodyguard, Ori, would not protect him from trained attack dogs. Turning his back on Colin, Taka promised to reconsider Alcott’s offer, but then, when he turned back, Colin was gone. Moments later, while Ori and Taka were walking down the street, four dogs came out of a van and attacked them. While the dogs killed Ori using a neurotoxin in their teeth, Ninjak stopped them from harming Taka. Killing all the dogs but one, Ninjak tagged him with a homing beacon that would lead him to Mekurakan, then he removed one of the dog’s poisoned teeth from his mouth and took it with him.

In a warehouse somewhere north of London, Mekurakan’s assistant informed him that they had lost contact with their attack team. Musing that he should have been present for Taka’s execution, Mekurakan told his assistant to equip the dogs, their perfect killers, with explosive termination devices to destroy them and prevent the secrets of his canine augmentations from falling into their enemy’s hands. Looking down at a room filled with killer dogs, Mekurakan said that only their perfect soldiers and them could stop Western products and commercialism from diluting Japan’s culture and ideals.

Learning from Neville that Taka had agreed to their protection while following the beacon on his motorcycle, Ninjak raced to find Mekurakan’s hideout before the beacon he implanted on the dog exploded. Shortly, the dog arrived at the warehouse and, while Mekurakan’s assistant tended to his wounds, the beacon exploded. Breaking through the main door on his bike, Ninjak was surprised to find that Mekurakan had twice as many dogs as he expected. Releasing the hounds, Mekurakan ordered them to attack Ninjak.

Leaping off his bike, Ninjak landed on a catwalk and ordered Mekurakan to call of the dogs so he would not have to kill them, but Mekurakan refused. Engaged in battle, Mekurakan saw Colin’s eyes and accused him of stealing the weapons and techniques of Japan to turn them against her, then, saying that he would kill him for Japan, he threw the broken blade of his staff at Ninjak. Grabbing the blade, Ninjak stabbed Mekurakan on the leg and tossed him over the railing. Landing beside Mekurakan, Ninjak believed that he had hit him hard enough to knock him out, but Mekurakan pushed him inside a dog cell and closed it.

Trapped beneath the bars, Ninjak heard Mekurakan use a code word to order the dogs to attack him. As Mekurakan cam close to him to gloat, Ninjak threw the dog’s tooth he recovered earlier at him and killed him with his own neurotoxin. Repeating the code word, Ninjak got the dogs to move away from him and left, certain that Mekurakan’s threat to the English/Japanese trade relations was over.

The Little Cossack

Leaping off a plane, Ninjak performed an insertion over the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan to search for General Vukelic, who Neville feared would attack a Russian garrison as an excuse to use the Metalex cannon, a weapon capable of inducing spontaneous combustion in organic matter to vaporize flesh without harming metal, which would force Russia to retaliate with nukes. Upon landing, Ninjak made contact with Paulina and a group of Russian soldiers that took him to an old farm they were using as safe house. Inside the farm house, as Gregor, Paulina’s second, grabbed Ninjak’s backpack to get it out of the middle of the room, Ninjak told him to put it down and Paulina sent him outside to check on security. Apologizing for Gregor, Paulina told Ninjak that he did not trust anyone and was just looking out for her welfare. Flirting while she told him that she would sneak him into Vukelic’s compound with the new domestic staff and briefed him on where Vukelic kept the Metalex cannon, Ninjak took Paulina to bed that night and made love to her.

Later that night, Vukelic’s forces stormed the farm house and killed everyone, except for Colin, who escaped. Sneaking inside a military truck, Ninjak got a free ride inside the compound. Stealing a guard’s uniform, Ninjak made his way to the General’s offices in a tower overlooking the courtyard and main highway. There, he climbed atop the tower through a out of order elevator.

Meanwhile, in the General’s office, Vukelic told Gregor, who betrayed Paulina and the others, that soon they would seize Russian’s nukes and the world would be forced to deal with them. Resolute, Vukelic ordered Gregor to attack the Russian garrison while he would use the Metalex cannon to liberate their territory. Just then, Ninjak walked into the room and, holding them at gun point, ordered them to disarm themselves. Tossing a pot at Ninjak, Gregor aimed his gun at him, but Ninjak cut off his hand and then killed him.

Taking the General hostage, Ninjak commandeered his helicopter and flew it off the base. Landing in an airfield where Vukelic kept the Metalex mounted on the nose of a plane, Ninjak and the General entered the hangar to take the plane, but then Vukelic ran away. Climbing on the cockpit, Ninjak used the Metalex on Vukelic and then took off.

Contacting Neville, Ninjak informed him that he was successful in neutralizing Vukelic and the threat he posed, but since he was unable to land the plane he triggered his homing beacon and ejected from the plane to let it crash in an uninhabited region of the mountains. Exhausted after over 30 hours of non–stop fighting, Ninjak, certain that there were no trees where he was landing, fell asleep while his parachute took him down.

Untitled Yearbook

Beneath Heathrow Airport, inside MI–6 headquarters, Neville Alcott showed Colin King a video taken by the Australian Coast Guard of the Kuru Maru, a cruise ship found out at sea two days after it left port in Sidney littered with dead bodies. While Colin deduced that a neutron bomb was responsible, Neville informed him that Webnet had been hauling weapons–grade plutonium they acquired from the former Soviet Republics across Siberia to the Ryukus. Just then, Agent Orange, MI–6’s man in Okinawa, sent in a transmission that contained the coordinates of several uninhabited islands to where he had traced the plutonium, and reported that Webnet had already sold a nuke to Hamas. Suddenly, a high–level Yakuza specialist that Dr. Silk had brought in to supervise security, killed Agent Orange and used his transmitter to send a burst virus to MI–6 that shut down their computers. Following Neville to his office, Colin inferred that Hamas plotted to use their nuke at the Goodwill Games in Sidney to nuke the Israeli team and everyone else within a one mile radius. Shown Harry the Hyena’s bio, Colin deduced that he was making a move to regain leadership of the radicals.

Several hours later in Sidney, Colin gave a homeless man a picture of Harry and his beeper number so that he would call him when he saw him, and that night, the man told him that Harry was staying at the Chester Arms on MacDougal Street. Breaking into Harry’s room, Ninjak found a piece of paper with Japanese writing on it, when then two men broke into the room and he had to escape. Early the next morning, Ninjak stopped Harry from detonating the nuke and got him to tell him that Goro, the Seventh Dragon, was in charge of Webnet’s operation. After slitting Harry’s throat, Ninjak took the nuke and dropped it in the desert. Elsewhere, Dr. Silk, having discovered that Ninjak stopped Harry, ordered Goro to take care of him before he found their factory.

Sometime later, having followed a clue that Harry gave him and information he acquired in Okinawa, Colin broke into a facility on Kyushu Island that he deduced belonged to Comsat. After dispatching the guards, Ninjak found the neutron bomb and activated, when then Goro arrived and challenged him to a samurai duel. Standing on a catwalk, Ninjak faced his old foe, and, though they were equally matched, he tossed him over the railing to his doom. Escaping on a speedboat he found anchored beside a submarine, Ninjak returned to his boat and used a rocket launcher to destroy the submarine. Moments later, as Colin watched while the island exploded, Dr. Silk escaped in a subsonic plane cursing Ninjak for ruining his plans.

A Canterbury Tale

A Canterbury Tale – Part I: The Pilgrim's Tale

In 1360 AD, in Northern Ireland, a place of pilgrimage renowned throughout the land, a group of pilgrims stricken by followed Cadmus to the tower of St. Thomas, which they believed held the cure to their ailment. There, a friar locked them in the old vaults beneath the chapter, which they believed would be their sanctuary. In 1995, in Canterbury, workers at the church discovered the vaults by accident.

In the Western Slopes of Bergfjallet in Sweden, Ninjak dispatched two Webnet agents on snowmobiles using the chameleon effect in his redesigned suit. After tying the corpses to the snowmobiles, Ninjak hid a bomb in one of them and sent them on their way to crash with a helicopter waiting for their cargo. Shortly, the bomb exploded, killing everyone, and Ninjak returned home to check on a blip his computer flagged hours earlier.

Eight hours later in Canterbury, Colin learned of the discovery of a series of catacombs that the Ministry of Defense apparently used during the last war, and worried that they might run adjacent to his underground facility, turning the discovery into a security matter, he called Neville to confront him for not notifying him. Trying to reassure Colin, Neville told him that there was a real danger of disturbing a plague beneath the old city, and that they needed bacteriological specialists to confirm it as safe before they proceeded, but Colin did not believe him and demanded to know the truth. Relenting, Neville said that he suspected that the place might have connections with Colin’s father and his war–time missions. Putting his father’s involvement aside, Colin convinced Neville to assign him to the team of specialists to ascertain the threat to his facility.

Reaching the site, Colin met Provost Caister from the Cathedral Bureau, who took him into the catacombs and introduced him to the Russian specialists; Professor Petrov, Arkady, and Zina, whose credentials he doubted given that the best plague specialists were from Calcutta and Cambridge. Finding artifacts that made it clear that the MOD had indeed been down there, Colin wondered what his father was doing, when then Arkady caused a cave in that revealed a sealed set of passages. Suggesting that they wait until the engineers shored the area so they could examine it the next day, Colin walked the others out and left a sentry behind.

That evening, while reviewing his father’s files, diaries, and service records, Colin found sketchy details that in 1945 his father’s work concerned a clandestine MOD project called Hope & Glory, along with tantalizing mentions of British Gold and references to an SOE agent named Pinter. Just then, someone activated the motion tracker he left in the tunnel and he had to go investigate.

Down in the catacombs, Zina, Arkady, and Petrov, who in reality were members of White Wolf’s pack who had replaced the real specialist, used a map to search the tunnels for a vault, but soon as they found it, Ninjak made his presence known and stopped them. While Zina and Arkady engaged Ninjak in combat, Petrov tried to open the vault, when just then, a Webnet firearm team arrived and trained their weapons on them.

A Canterbury Tale – Part II: The Knight's Tale

In 1945, Captain Jonathan King, Pinter, and two other British agents invaded a Nazi stronghold to set back a Nazi project called Schwarz Tod, the Black Death. After dispatching the officers in the laboratory, Pinter set up explosives while King took photographs of the Nazi’s documents, when then a group of Gestapo troops discovered them. While King and Pinter escaped, the rest of their team was not so lucky, but nonetheless their mission was a success, and Pinter’s explosives destroyed the stronghold.

In 1995, beneath Canterbury, Ninjak dodged Webnet’s bullets while Petrov was not so lucky. While Ninjak dispatched the Webnet agents, Zina and Arkady dragged Petrov through the hatchway and closed it behind them. Inside the room, they found a laboratory where the MOD ran project Hope & Glory out of instead of the gold that Petrov had promised them. Leaving Petrov to die, Zina and Arkady left to find an exit. Entering the room after dispatching the Webnet firearms and sealing the tunnel to stop their reinforcements, Ninjak found Petrov barely alive and revealed that he knew he was Pinter, who in the 50s defected to Russia. Asking Pinter why he returned, Ninjak learned that Pinter was searching for the British gold associated with Project Hope & Glory, of which he knew little about other than it was a safeguard against Black Death. Feeling sorry for Pinter, who let greed lead him back to the land he betrayed and earned him nothing but a painful death, Ninjak asked him if he ever considered that gold might have been a euphemism. As Pinter’s corpse slid of the wall it was lying against, Ninjak discovered a bomb behind him and escaped to survive the blast.

In the catacombs, Zina and Arkady found the chamber where the friar locked Cadmus and the pilgrims while searching for an exit. Startled by the explosion from their bomb, Zina and Arkady fell into the oozing remains of the pilgrims, when then they found a way out into the cathedral, where Ninjak was waiting for them. Engaging them in battle, Ninjak tried to disable Zina and Arkady to take them back alive, but then, Provost Caister showed up and, pulling a machine gun from under his clothes, revealed that he was a Webnet agent and shot them. Leaping out of the way, Ninjak tossed a shuriken at Caister’s head and killed him..

The next day in Alcott’s office, Neville told Colin that he did not know what Hope & Glory was about, and that all he knew was that Black Death was a Nazi germ warfare program. Reiterating what Pinter said about Hope & Glory, Colin expressed his dissatisfaction with the lingering questions and asked Neville if there was a file he could study, but Neville told him that there were no files and that his father had taken the secret of Hope & Glory to the grave, an excuse Colin did not believe. Turning his back on Neville, Colin walked away to find the answers to his questions.

At Webnet central, while Fitzhugh informed Dr. Silk of their operatives’ failure, Dr. Silk, who had a folder labeled Hope & Glory on his lap, said that someday they would get closer to the secrets held within it.

Interlude III

Mad Dogs And Englishmen

In the British embassy in Aden, South Yemen, Robert Folly stared out a window in the governor’s mansion and saw an artillery barrage lighting the sky. Certain that the north Yemeni forces were about to take the city, Robert feared what would happen to him. Alone in the building, Robert stayed behind to destroy as much of the embassy records as possible before the northern forced arrived, assured that an agent who Neville Alcott had sent was coming to tidy up. Hearing a sound coming from outside the room, Robert went to investigate and Ninjak disarmed him. As Ninjak told Robert to stay inside the office and not make sound, a trio of rebel–allied mercenaries broke into the embassy, and in awe, Robert watched as Ninjak dispatched them.

While Robert finished shredding papers, Ninjak accessed the embassy’s computer and uploaded information into the mainframe. Thirty minutes later, Ninjak and Robert were on the roof waiting for a helicopter to take them home, but then, a SAM blew the chopper up. Going back inside, Ninjak sent Robert to the harbor to meet the reserve pick–up while he stayed behind to deal with the mercenaries. Though Robert jumped out a window to escape, he decided that he would not leave Ninjak behind and, moments later, crashed the governor’s Bentley through the wall and ran over three mercenaries.

After Ninjak climbed inside the car, Robert made a break for the harbor, but two jeeps followed them close behind. Nevertheless, Ninjak hurled a shuriken at one of the driver’s and caused his jeep to crash into his cohort’s vehicle. Fighting their way through the rebel–littered streets, Robert and Ninjak reached the docks, but had to drive the car straight into the river. While the car sank, Ninjak dragged Robert to an MI–6 submarine that was waiting for them. There, Neville chastised Robert for not evacuating with the others and staying behind to play a hero, almost jeopardizing Ninjak’s mission to plant false information for Webnet. Speaking in Robert’s behalf, Ninjak suggested to Neville that he might consider him for other special duties, like chauffer.

Cry Wolf

Cry Wolf – Part I

In the woods above Dorillac in Southeastern Languedoc, France, Wassily Borkov rode his horse to a cliff overlooking the Chateau Dorillac to forget what happened to his son, Arkady, when, suddenly, two Webnet agents on motorcycles surrounded him. As the agents accused him of betraying their organization to British Intelligence and using the Dorillac operation, a plot of vital important to Webnet, as a dowry to defect to the British, Wassily killed them with his genetic enhancements to ensure that they would not report his duplicity to Silk. At the Chateau, Wassily looked at a picture of his son and swore that he would soon avenge him

Arriving at Chateau Dorillac for a wine auction that served as a front for a massive Webnet information laundering operation, Colin King and Neville Alcott were certain that Wassily would hand over the operation to them as part of his deal to defect. An hour later at the auction, Colin bid on a bottle of wine that served as a proxy to signal their willingness to proceed with the deal and pay Wassily his blood–money, a price Wassily raise by outbidding Colin at every turn until they arrived at a comfortable sum.

That evening, Ninjak did a reconnaissance of the chateau to get a closer look at the heart of the operation, starting with the hardware suite in the cellar where they processed the disguised information into the labels of the bottles at the auction. While using the mainframe to feed data directly back into Webnet’s CPU, Ninjak overheard Wassily order his aide, Sabine, to go call Neville for dinner while he went to find Neville’s aide. Leaving in a hurry, Ninjak returned to his room moments before Wassily knocked on the door. As Colin let him in his room, Wassily unexpectedly hit him across the head with the bottle of wine that he bought at the auction. Looming over Colin, Wassily revealed his genetic enhancements and ordered him to face him. Though Colin put up a brave fight, Wassily swiftly defeated him, and, moments later, he tossed him onto the dinner table right in front of Neville’s eyes. While Neville stared at Colin’s corpse, Sabine proclaimed that his King was dead and wished long life to Wassily, the White Wolf.

Inside an MI–5 mobile surveillance van in Dorillac Village, the real Neville Alcott, surprised to learn Wassily’s identity, worried for the real Colin’s life.

Cry Wolf - Part II

Making Neville his prisoner, White Wolf ordered him to leave the chateau with him immediately and sent his guests on their way. Meanwhile, inside the MI–5 surveillance van, the real Neville ordered his extraction team to mobilize. Back at the chateau, as Sabine discovered that Colin was wearing a latex mask, Neville leapt out of his chair and kicked her out of his way before he jumped out a window. Watching Neville escape, White Wolf realized that he was really Ninjak, the one he truly sought. Crouching in shadows to change out of his costume, Ninjak watched as Neville’s fireteams secured the location and smoked out the Webnet contingent.

Returning to the chateau in his uniform, Ninjak confronted White Wolf and demanded to know why he sacrificed an entire Webnet operation to find him. Confessing that he did not care about Webnet, White Wolf accused Ninjak of killing his son, Arkady, and then leapt at him to slash him limb from limb with his claws. Elsewhere, Sabine informed Webnet of Wassily’s duplicity and requested an emergency strike team.

Engaging in physical combat, Ninjak used all the weapons at his disposal to take White Wolf down, but no matter what he did, White Wolf was the superior fighter. Throwing his sword at White Wolf as a last resort, Ninjak stabbed him in the chest, but, surprisingly, White Wolf removed the blade with minimal pain, making Ninjak realize that he was nowhere near human. Just then, as three Webnet choppers arrived on the scene, Sabine activated a self–destruct device and left to rendezvous with them. Intercepting the transmissions between the choppers and Sabine, Neville ordered his men to retreat.

Standing on a balcony, White Wolf assured Ninjak that he was going to die, when just then, one of the choppers, following Sabine’s orders, opened fire on them to kill White Wolf for betraying Webnet. While White Wolf took the blunt of the blasts, Ninjak leapt out of the way and jumped into the water below.

Sometime later, Ninjak joined Neville and the others and told them that the disaster that had occurred had nothing to do with them or Webnet, and was nothing more than one man’s revenge. Removing his mask, Colin told Neville that when they returned to London he would like to see his file on the White Wolf to stamp it closed, unaware that White Wolf had survived.

Plague

Plague – Part I

At MI–5 headquarters beneath Heathrow, Dr. Damien Forest reexamined Arkady Borkov’s body at the behest of the chief pathologist, Helen Pickering. Reexamining due to unanticipated viral activity detected in bacterial growth on the dead tissue, Dr. Forest injected a DNA stimulant to test the viral strain, but, unexpectedly, Arkady woke up and killed the doctor, then he walked out of the room and attacked the security guards.

An hour later, Dr. Pickering and security chief Simms took Colin King into custody and locked him in an ISO–tank in the quarantine block to test him for a possible infection as a result of his exposure to the toxins in Canterbury. While Pickering gave Colin a clean bill of health, Neville informed him of what happened to Arkady’s body. Theorizing that Arkady was not dead, Colin suggested that they did not know what metabolic aberrations he might have inherited from his father, who was a parahuman. Upset, Dr. Pickering confronted Neville for not telling her that Arkady might have been a Harbinger like his father, when suddenly the dead guard rose up and attacked them. Before he could do any harm, Robert Folly luckily arrived and shot him.

Shortly, while Pickering took blood samples from the guard’s corpse and theorized that they were dealing with a contact–virus, Folly informed them that Arkady had escaped, so Ninjak went to find him. Following Arkady’s trail to Hamilton parkway station, Ninjak realized that Arkady was searching for his father, when then he saw an ad for a phone company and asked Neville for any of White Wolf’s London addresses. Meanwhile, at a mansion in Belgravia, White Wolf assembled a team to recover his son’s body and kill Ninjak.

Far below the city, while Ninjak, Simms, Folly, and Baker, a security man, followed the tube line on trail bikes, Neville gave him the address to White Wolf’s mansion and informed him of a report of a tube train stopped between stations. Reaching the tube, Ninjak and the others were shocked to find it filled with infected corpses. While checking the tube, Arkady, who the plague had transformed into a monstrosity, killed Baker. Chasing Arkady, Ninjak told him that they wanted to help him, but reacting violently, Arkady lashed out and tried to hit him. Avoiding the blow, Ninjak kicked Arkady across the face and engaged him in combat. Meanwhile, back at Heathrow, Minister Critchlow, who was unhappy that Neville failed to inform him of the diseased creature running riot in the tube system, ordered him to send a strike team to kill Arkady.

Back in the tunnels, Arkady tore through Ninjak’s Kevlar vest and made contact with his skin. Falling to his knees, Ninjak fought against the fatigue to get back up and stop Arkady before he walked out of the station and killed the Saturday night theater crowds in Leicester Square.

Plague – Part II

Just after midnight, inside the Leicester Square tube station in Central London, Ninjak watched as the thing that was Arkady Borkov headed for the exit stairwell. A walking undead thanks to his mix of parahuman metabolism and the plague virus boiling in his system, with one touch Arkady could inflict a lingering death on anyone, and he had just clawed Ninjak, who he did not have time to think about that as at the top of the steps lied London and a population ready to contaminate.

Staggering after the creature, Ninjak saw as Folly and his men fired their guns into the air so that the sound of the gunfire would drive passersby away from the station entrance and away from Arkady. Moving to corner the creature before he reached a crowd, Ninjak was unable to stop Arkady from infecting a constable. All of a sudden, two Puma helicopters that Neville Alcott sent to stop the creature swooped down on Arkady, who grabbed a chopper’s skids and, in trying his strength against the Puma’s turbine engine, caused it to explode.

While the fireball busted windows all down the street and the six men inside the chopper died incinerated, the other bird set down and disgorged a hazard–suited fireteam in Ninjak and Folly’s faces. Walking past Ninjak, who warned them that he was there on the authority of Neville Alcott and told them not to mess things up worse than they already had, the fireteam indiscriminately killed the infected constable. Enraged, Ninjak ordered Folly and Simms to help him put the fireteam down without killing them, so the three men swiftly dispatched their supposed allies.

Commandeering the chopper, Ninjak and Folly followed Arkady into the park while Simms stayed behind to keep the goons out of harm’s way. Contacting Neville, Ninjak informed him that they were in pursuit of the target into Green Park aboard a borrowed government birds. Accusing Neville of being stroppy, Ninjak demanded that he explain what he thought he was playing at by sending soldiers on shoot–to–kill mode. As Neville assured Ninjak that he was not responsible, Minister Critchlow took the radio from Neville’s hand and ordered Ninjak to back off Arkady and leave him to his people. As Ninjak accused Critchlow of acting behind his superior’s backs to cover up the experiments he authorized on Arkady, Folly told him that he saw Arkady scaling the walls of a residence adjoining the park. Certain that Arkady was going home to see his father just as they thought, Ninjak ordered the helicopter pilot to take them over the wall.

Inside the house, a radio operator informed White Wolf that the residence’s perimeter had been breached and that there was an army helicopter dropping into the grounds. Shocked that they discovered his whereabouts, White Wolf ordered his men to mobilize outside and blast anything that moved.

Leaping out of the helicopter, Ninjak followed the sound of gunfire up ahead and saw Arkady looming over the corpses of a group of mercenaries. Pleading with Arkady to let him help him, Ninjak saw a spark of recognition in his eyes and was sure that he was getting through to him, but just then White Wolf and his men showed up and opened fire on him and Arkady. Barely able to avoid the first salvo, while Arkady was not so lucky, Ninjak stood in front of the men’s weapons with nowhere to run, when then, Folly opened fire from the helicopter and suggested to the men that they thought very carefully before their next move.

Accusing Ninjak of taking his son, White Wolf demanded that he make his masters give him Arkady’s body back. Pointing at Arkady as he laid on the ground nursing his wounds, Ninjak told White Wolf that his son had found his own way home. Thought White Wolf flinched, despite his revulsion there was something in Arkady’s voice that he knew, but just as father and son approached each other, White Wolf’s goons, who did not understand and only saw a shambling aggressor, opened fire on the creature with incendiary rounds that instantly killed him. Heartbroken, White Wolf ordered Ninjak to go and kneeled beside his son’s corpse. Returning to the helicopter, Ninjak told Folly to contact Neville and tell him the threat had been contained, then he showed him his injury and said that he better get him back to isolation as soon as he could.

Shortly, inside MI–5 headquarters beneath Heathrow airport, as Folly and doctor Pickering escorted Ninjak to the isolation unit, Minister Critchlow stood in their way and said that he could not have contaminated persons brought into the installation given that the crisis protocols he issues were quite specific. Enraged, Folly told the Minister to stuff his protocols and move aside, then, when he refused, he knocked him out.

Later, doctor Pickering informed Colin that he was not infected and that she wanted to examine him again to figure out why, but, having been probed enough, he refused. After Neville warned Colin that he made a powerful enemy in Critchlow, Colin turned to Folly, who lost his job, and offered him a freelance position.

Breaking The Web Prelude

Icebreaker

Onboard the Brundtland, a commercial factory ship bulk trawling for pelagics in the Bering sea, Olaf Smigurd, a 300 pound man able to lift a hundredweight of tinned herring on a shoulder without straining who had overdosed on amphetamines and had 30 seconds of berserk life left in him, and Colin King crashed into the crew messroom. According to information that Colin had come by, the Brundtland was a cover for a mobile Webnet communications hub, so, using the name Johansson, he had been aboard for ten days trying to find out which of the crew were members of Webnet and where their equipment was stowed.

The night before, Colin found the Webnet satellite uplink hidden in the forward freezer bay, but Smigurd, who he positively identified as a Webnet agent, found him. Unable to simply eliminate Olaf, Colin struck him with a cocktail of drugs to simulate a recreational overdose. Letting the fight carry him along while he tried not to look too capable, Colin hit Olaf with a frying pan and pushed him against the pantry until he died. Finding himself surrounded by the B shift and Gegor, the bosun, and the first mate, Svenson, Colin told them that Olaf was out of his head on drugs and tried to kill him. Just hen, the Captain walked in and ordered Svenson to put Colin in the brig while the ship’s surgeon looked at Smigurd.

Later, while Colin reminisced over the night’s events in the brig, and made plans in case the crew did not believe what he doctor told them, Svenson came inside demanded to know why he killed Olaf, but Colin repeated what he said before. Beating Colin with his belt to get the truth out of him, Svenson did not believe him, but just then the Captain showed up and confirmed Colin’s story that Olaf was on drugs. As Colin left to return to duty, Svenson warned him that he would be keeping his eye on him.

Rejoining the work shift, Colin noticed that both Svenson and Gregor were watching, while the crest of the crew mistrusted him and kept their distance even as they hauled in the catch nets. Worried that the suspicion in everyone’s eyes would make it harder to detect the Webnet agents aboard, Colin did not stray from the busy areas, like the mess hall and rec room, so that Svenson would not catch him alone and kill him.

That night, the radio operator picked up an SOS from the Hengist, a trawler. Obliged to render assistance, the Brundtland followed the Hengist’s distress flare and heaved close to the trawler. Taking advantage that the flare drew a crowd to the rail, Colin ran inside the ship behind their backs, but Gregor and one of his goons saw him and went after him. Donning his Ninjak attire, Colin jumped on Svenson and Gregor and killed them.

With the clocking ticking toward a reveal upstairs, Ninjak left in a hurry. Upstairs, the Brundtland’s engines thundered into reverse as they came alongside the Hengist, which unbeknownst to the crew of the Brundtland Neville’s people had commandeered and replaced its catch–hoist with Vulcan cannon batteries and a Rapier missile system fresh off the British Aerospace production line. Ordering the Brundtland to prepare to be boarded soldiers from her Majesty’s government sized the ship.

As a fire fight ensued between the British soldiers and the crew, Ninjak went to find Svenson, who killed the Captain and went to the satellite uplink to emergency dump all the data stored aboard the spy–ship to Webnet so it would not fall into enemy hands. Finding Svenson, Ninjak took a silent step toward him despite his warning that he had loaded the failsafes to force him Svenson to send the transmission to Webnet.

Standing over Svenson with his sword, Ninjak revealed that before Olaf found him he had loaded a virus into the system so that when he sent the emergency transmission of priceless data, one with the correct failsafe codes, it went straight into Webnet’s mainframe before they could check it for a computer virus. Enraged, Svenson opened fire on Ninjak, who dodged the bullets and kicked his weapon off his hand. As the two combatants fought, Ninjak punched Svenson and tossed him into the cargo hold with the fish. Standing over the railing, Ninjak witnessed as the slippery mass enveloped Svenson and sucked him down, where the crushing weight and asphyxia finished him off.

Elsewhere, inside Webnet headquarters, one by one all of their computer systems crashed right across the board. Astonished, Fitzhugh asked Dr. Silk what they should do, but Silk was speechless.

Breaking The Web

Breaking the Web – Part I

At 0300 hours on March 19th 1995, Ninjak led a group of MI–5 soldiers on an assault of a Webnet command base in the Baltic sea. Ninjak had single–handedly tricked Webnet into uploading a computer virus of his own creation into their system, which crippled the communication network of their entire operation and provided the opportunity for MI–5 to initiate a series of tactical strikes against the terrorist organization. After Ninjak decapitated two Webnet agents, he fell in the crosshairs of three armed agents, but Agent Folly saved him, and, together, they made their way deeper into the structure. Ordinarily, Ninjak would not have participated in a British operation of such magnitude, but Webnet had been a thorn in their sides too many years, an embarrassment of sorts to the British Intelligence community, while for Ninjak finding Silk and disbanding his treacherous web had become a vendetta of a much more personal nature.

The second attack force made their move at 0315 hours on a sex shop in Amsterdam that served as front for one of Webnet’s command posts. Breaking through the door of the shop, Bloodshot opened fire on the Webnet agents in self–defense and killed most of them. Chasing two survivors, Bloodshot, whose almost primal fighting prowess made him invaluable to the team, found himself smack dab in the thick of things.

Two hours later, as Neville Alcott recorded his concern that he had not heard from either operative since the successful completion of their separate campaigns into a tape recorder, he received a secure transmission from Colin King, who was calling him from a safe house in Amsterdam. Informing Colin that his staff had been working round the clock trying to locate Webnet central, Neville said that their tactical strikes were serving their purpose but they were not enough, and that while they may be able to cut off the limbs, unless they got to the heart Silk would escape. Colin agreed with Neville, but he told him that he was convinced that there was no Webnet central, and that, much like the center of a real web was wherever the spider was, Webnet high command was wherever Silk himself was found. Though Neville wanted Colin to join Bloodshot at the raid in Scotland, Colin told him that catching Silk was his primary concern, and reminded him that he did not work for him and was under no obligation to follow his orders, then he hung up the phone.

Later that night, in Amsterdam, Bloodshot met Ninjak in a dark alley during a thunderstorm and agreed not to tell Neville what he was planning to do, even though he believed that his plan was suicidal. Using his sword to cut himself, Bloodshot shook hands with Ninjak and, silently, wished him good luck.

Meanwhile, at Chateau Dorillac in Southerneastern Languedoc, France, The Specialists, a four–member team that worked for Dr. Silk, broke into White Wolf’s bedroom demanding that he make reparations for his attempted double–cross of the organization.

At the King Mansion in Canterbury, Colin King used the computers in his lair to try to geographically pinpoint the location to which the emergency squirt went from the Brundtland. Figuring that a signal of such import should have been automatically routed to Silk’s location, Colin was certain that he had found the twister old man’s location, which meant that it was time to put the difficult part of his plan into motion.

In Scotland, the third strike against Webnet took place. While Folly and his men immobilized the guards, Bloodshot engaged Webnet’s forces inside the compound on his own, as Ninjak had gone after Silk without back–up, which worried Neville, who feared that if he were captured it could compromise their plans to take out Webnet once and for all.

At 3:30 am, Ninjak followed the transmission to a building in the London dockyards where he was certain that he would find Silk. Engaging a group of ninjas in the lobby, Ninjak successfully dispatched them and then continued on his way to find Silk. Using an elevator, Ninjak reached the top floor, where Silk welcomed him into his parlor. Facing Silk, Ninjak realized that he was looking at a hologram, when, suddenly, the room filled with gas. As Ninjak reached for his gas mask, the chair that the hologram was on shot him with three darts that paralyzed him.

As Ninjak fell down, Silk’s visage appeared on a screen and told him that he belonged to him body and soul.

Breaking the Web – Part II: Delusions

Holding Ninjak against his will inside Webnet central, Dr. Silk ordered Fitzhugh to inject him with a drug that made Colin experience a series of hallucinations. Seeing his spider–riddled corpse in a coffin, Colin yelled out in horror. Waking up in a cell, Colin felt like he was going into convulsions and fought through the nausea, shakes, and sweat to stay awake, but he passed out.

Awakened sometime later by the sound of scratching coming from the cell beside his, Colin stroke up a short conversation with his cellmate, who assured him that he was an enemy of Silk as he assumed him to be. Though he believed that the situation was far too convenient, Colin agreed to work with help dislodge the rocks between the cells to escape. To Colin surprise, his fellow captive was none other than White Wolf, who still believed that he murdered his son.

Thanking Silk for doing him the favor of putting him in a cell beside his son’s killer, White Wolf lashed out at Colin with his claws to avenge Arkady’s death. Certain that Silk was playing games to fuel his perverted sense of irony, Colin was not amused. Unsure of how long he could hold out before he collapsed, Colin had to end the fight quickly. With his body acting sluggish and the room practically spinning around him, Colin punched and kicked White Wolf repeatedly, but White Wolf almost gutted him with one hit. As White Wolf almost killed Colin, who was on the verge of loosing consciousness, a voice ordered him to stop.

Waking up in his cell, Colin wondered whose voice he heard before he passed out. Were not for the scratches on his body, Colin could have sworn that the confrontation with White Wolf took place only in his head. Struggling to stay lucid, Colin discovered that the door to his cell was wide open. Realizing that Silk was toying with him, leading him on like a rat in a maze, Colin nevertheless picked up a torch and followed a path to a stair that led him to the outside.

Running away to find some cover before Silk began his next attack, Colin heard someone in the brush, but could not pinpoint where they were. Suddenly, Shrapnel, one of the Specialists, pinned Colin to a wall with random metal objects and Pariah punched him. As Colin knocked Pariah’s goggles off, Pariah angrily snapped Colin’s fingers. Kicking Pariah in the groin, Colin ran away, unable to take them all on in his condition, but then Jack Knife stabbed him in the leg with a dagger. Reaching for the dagger, Colin had so many drugs in his system that the pain did not bother him, but then, Brick, the final member of the Specialists, knocked him out with one punch. After injecting Colin with enough sedative to keep him under for hours, Brick carried him to a chopper that took him and someone else to another location.

At MI–5 headquarters, Neville told Bloodshot that it had been four days since he spoke with Colin, whose last transmission they traced back to Amsterdam at the same time he was there. Suspecting that Colin made contact with Bloodshot before he went off after Silk, Neville demanded to know whatever information he had, but Bloodshot refused to divulge anything that could jeopardize Ninjak’s life until he contacted him.

Elsewhere, Colin awoke inside a casket and fought his way to escape. Following a voice offering to help him, Colin, whose body bore a resemblance to a starved man with exposed skin and bone, faced an apparition of his father that told him that if he put his faith in him and took his hand, he could take away his pain. Transforming into Dr Silk, the apparition extended his hand at Colin, who accepted his offer.

Elsewhere, Dr. Silk and Fitzhugh stood watch over Colin, who after only 30 seconds of being under the effect from their drugs had fully taken to their treatment.

Breaking the Web – Part III

At the lair of Doctor August Silk, Brig, the muscle–bound member of the Specialists, held White Wolf on a chained leash like he was a dog and took him to see Dr. Silk. Infused with implants in his cerebral cortex that insured that he would never cross Webnet again, White Wolf’s brain was fried. While Jack Knife and Brig took White Wolf to his pen, Fitzhugh’s men freed Ninjak from his restrains. In a trance, Ninjak sat to a computer station while Silk mused that he had waited years for that moment and that he had broken Ninjak physically and shattered his spirit. Though Fitzhugh warned him not to delude himself as Ninjak was a dangerous individual, Silk was certain that he owned him body and soul.

Looming over Ninjak, Silk said that if he wanted him to take away his pain, he had to first purge his compute core from the virus he infected it with. Tense minutes later, Ninjak deactivated the virus and restored all command functions, but warned Silk the system needed time to reboot and reset to a fundamental level. As Ninjak rose up from his chair, Fitzhugh punched him and he fell down to the floor, where he tried to use a poisoned tooth to kill himself to no avail. Grabbing Ninjak, Silk’s men strapped him back on the contraption for further conditioning. Though Fitzhugh suggested that they kill Ninjak, Silk plot to make him betray everything he held dear and turn him into what he hated the most. Silk desired to have Ninjak know what it was like to be trapped inside a body that would not obey, but he left a small part of his mind untouched so that he knew what he had become.

Sometime later, at the Albert Memorial in London, Ninjak, in full gear, killed the Prime Minister because Dr. Silk ordered him to do it. Fighting to stop himself to no avail, Ninjak decapitated the minister, then, after realizing what he had done, he escaped, but Bloodshot shot him with an energy blast that knocked him out.

Following a signal to the Tower of London, Bloodshot and Folly found a secret entrance into Webnet central which security systems were down just like Ninjak had informed them they would be. Inside the base, while Bloodshot and Folly engaged Silk’s men, Ninjak experienced a hallucination in which he killed the Prime Minister and engaged Bloodshot in a fight for his life. As Bloodshot freed him from the contraption, Ninjak grabbed a foe’s weapon and went to find Silk, while Bloodshot stayed behind with Folly and his men.

Chasing Fitzhugh, Ninjak ordered him to tell him where Silk was, but he refused to betray the doctor, so Ninjak cut his hand off. Fighting to stay focused and not fall unconscious Ninjak failed to avoid one of Jack Knife’s daggers, which hit him in the back, but then he pulled it out and threw it at Jack’s hand, which hit a junction box and killed him. Meanwhile, Bloodshot single–handedly dispatched Brig and Shrapnel.

Following Silk’s trail, Ninjak briefly fought against Pariah, who even though willingly told him where he could find Silk, he slashed his throat. Shortly, Ninjak found Silk at the Wharf trying to escape with White Wolf in a motor boat. Facing White Wolf, Ninjak, who felt spent and was on the verge of collapsing, let his training take over and destroyed the gas tanks to stop Silk from escaping and killed White Wolf.

As a fire engulfed the wharf, Ninjak assured Silk that he was defeated, but the doctor refused to give up and promised that he would rebuild Webnet with the knowledge that he had broken him and could break him again. Crawling toward his sword, Ninjak told Silk that he let him capture him, which was the only way to get close to him because he needed him alive to purge the virus he infected his computer network with. Unbeknownst to Silk, he felt into Ninjak’s plan and gave him the chance to keep his base useless until Neville’s men could move in. Looming over Silk with his sword, Ninjak told him that enduring his sorry attempts at brainwashing him was a sacrifice he was willing to make to get him, and that he was gong to make sure that he rotted in jail for the rest of his days.

Mocking Ninjak’s confidence in his ability to shrug off the conditioning, Silk reminded him that he was ready to kill for him and betray his country. Pointing an accusing finger at Ninjak, Silk said that he was not faking that, and that if he had not been rescued he would have become his puppet, but now they would never know if he would have been able to fight off the conditioning before killing the Prime Minister. Laughing at Colin, Silk told him that he beat him and that he would always wonder what he might have done, while the urges will remain within him, buried deep inside. Stopping Ninjak form killing Silk, Bloodshot reminded him that they needed him alive and then followed him outside.

Several hours later, Ninjak and Bloodshot shook hands once again so that Bloodshot could take back his blood that he and Ninjak exchanged when they met in Amsterdam so that Bloodshot could follow him after he swallowed the pill from his tooth and the nanites detected a tailored chemical reaction.

Watching Ninjak walk away, Folly wondered if he was upset because Fitzhugh got away, but Bloodshot told him that Ninjak was hooked into Silk’s torture device for almost four days, subjected to horrors that only God knew about, and that he would carry scars from this for a long time, maybe forever.

Interlude IV

Pendragon

On January 10th, 1941, William Michael Pendragon experienced his first taste of blind, unadulterated hatred when he killed a soldier that had murdered his mother. 50 years later, this emotion that filled him with a mixture of fear and ecstasy still burned in him, and until he took his revenge there would be no peace.

At Le Grand Casino De Bon Fortune in Aix–En–Provende, France, Doctor Ming, a young Japanese man, accidentally collided with William Pendragon and his wife Coy at the hotel bar. Offended, Pendragon lashed out at Ming, a reaction that caught the attention of the Casino’s owner, the Contessa Ginetta Barsalini, who subtly hinted that she would kick Pendragon out of her property if he did not apologize. Although the desire to lash out was almost overwhelming, Pendragon momentarilly controlled himself and apologized.

Having witnessed the altercation, Colin King mused that after he spent too long obsessed with Dr. Silk, it seemed that he was reduced to watching bar brawls for amusement, and that now that Silk was gone he was bored. Recognizing Colin, Ginetta stroke up a conversation with him, but said that she feared that even his charms could not lift her spirits that night. As Colin asked her what was wrong, Ginetta told him that Pendragon, who had already won almost a million Francs that night, had been harassing some customers and employees all evening, and that she believed he had some kind of grudge against the Japanese.

Intrigued, Colin watched while Pendragon played a game of Baccarat with stakes that were higher than simply fuelling a gambler’s addition. After Pendragon won another hand of many, Colin made contact by flirting with his wife. Upset, Pendragon walked up to Colin and, after making remarks that emphasized the words web and silk and warning him to stay away from his wife, he told him to take his adolescent flirtations elsewhere and left with his wife. Certain that the emphasis on silk and web were not accidental, Colin wondered if he was reading too much into them, or if there could be a Webnet connection there.

Later, as Colin left the casino with Ginetta, they heard a scream and followed it to a Rolls Royce where they found the bodies of doctor Ming and his wife. Gasping in horror, Ginetta told Colin who the bodies were and asked him if he believed that Pendragon might have killed them. While Ginetta pushed the crowd away, Colin wondered if Pendragon would murder those people simply because they annoyed him. Just as he believed that the suggestion was too far fetched, Colin found two beads that appeared to have come from the dress of Pendragon’s wife and decided that someone that ruthless certainly bore further investigation from Ninjak.

The following week, at the King Estate in Canterbury, England, Colin mused over what he learned from Pendragon while he worked on a Bonsai tree. Though it took Colin no time run a background check on Pendragon, unfortunately there was not much to find, as Pendragon had been a recluse most of his adult life. Deciding to dig further, what Colin found gave the situation a much more frightening sense of urgency. The day after Pendragon’s large win at the Contessa’s casino, a million Francs were deposited in a Swiss bank account that belonged to Adolfo Pakisterner, a weapons dealer in the Soviet bloc and a man know to have had dealings with Webnet. As the string of coincidences suggested that Silk and Webnet were not so far out of the picture as he had assumed, Colin traced monies from Pakisterner back to Pendragon that led him to speculate that Pendragon paid a small fortune to acquire some ultra–deadly weapon.

Days later, Ninjak traveled to Istanbul to find Pakisterner, who he believed would lead him to Pendragon after he was heard boasting at one of the local watering holes that he had created his magnum opus. As Ninjak arrived at Pakisterner’s home, however, he was too late to save him from falling out a window. Standing over Ninjak, Pakisterner’s murderer, Coy Pendragon, shot him with a crossbow, but, luckily, he avoided her arrows. Reaching out to grab Coy, Ninjak grabbed her cowl as she ran away and was surprised to discover that she wore a wig. Realizing that he had underestimated both Pendragons, Ninjak inspected Pakisterner’s corpse and found a scrap of paper that contained stats on safety precautions and operating instructions for the detonation of a modified nuclear device under extremely frigid weather conditions.

Assuming that Pendragon planned to set off his nuke in an Arctic area, Ninjak followed a hunch that led him somewhere over the Beaufort sea. A few days later, posing as a co–pilot on Pendragon’s chopper heading off to the Arctic, Colin witnessed as Pendragon ordered Coy to assassinate him and Raul, the chopper pilot, after Raul tried to blackmail Pendragon for more money. Forced to reveal himself after Pendragon ordered Coy to kill him as well, Ninjak found himself staring down at the barrel of Pendragon’s gun and the shaft of Coy’s crossbow. Stopping Coy from killing Ninjak, Pendragon unmasked him and was, though he recognized him from the casino, he believed that his real name was an alias. Assuming that King was part of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Pendragon tried to make him talk to no avail as King refused to say a word. Certain that if King was from British Intelligence there might be support troops on the way, Pendragon ordered Coy to take him inside his compound, a secret facility hidden within the mountain itself. Inside, Colin saw the nuclear weapon for the first time, a terrifying sight that urged him to ask Pendragon what he planned to do with it. Though he prided himself of being an honorable man, and promised to answer Colin’s questions, Pendragon instead reiterated his warning that he stay away from Coy, who she raised after her parents died and made his wife. Giving Coy a kiss on the cheek, Pendragon told her to do with Colin what she pleased.

Minutes later, as Colin hung from nylon ropes like a captured fly on a spider’s web, Pendragon told him that within minutes a series of subterranean explosions would begin and cause a chain reaction that would lead back to that cave, where the nuclear detonator at his feet had been set to go in three hours. As Pendragon went on to say that the blast would release an extraordinary amount of methane, while immense hurricanes would form in the Pacific Ocean and make their way to Japan, Colin asked him how he expected to control those storms so that they only hit Japan. Confessing that such a thing as a steering device was not possible and that he was simply providing Mother Nature with enough of a nudge to drive the storm on to Japan, Pendragon said that his goal was to gain restitution for the murder of his parents and his time in a survivor camp. Having sworn that Japan would suffer as he had, Pendragon accused Japan of making a mockery of the Allies after the war and turning Britain into a second–rate power, which he hoped would make Colin sympathetic.

Accusing Pendragon of being a liar, Colin told him that he did the arithmetic and realized that Coy was his daughter, who he raised to take her dead mother’s place. Turning back, Pendragon bid Colin goodbye and told him to take comfort in the knowledge that his death would coincide with the beginning of a new world order.

Shortly, while Pendragon and Coy rushed to leave the compound before the shock wave ripped apart the ice below their feet and the entire area caved in and crumbled even before the nuke went off, inside, Ninjak used a falling stalactite to rip apart the nylon ropes to break free. Though he did not fancy groping about blind in the dark while the stalactites were falling, Colin could not leave without grabbing his gear and securing the bomb, which he hoped he could shut off before it blew.

Moments later, as Ninjak successfully deactivated the bomb, Coy leap off a helicopter flying overhead and kicked him in the face. As Coy fought with the bloodlust of an animal, Colin could not help but wonder what Pendragon had done to her and felt that she was a victim who perhaps he could help. The truth, however, was that her eyes were filled only with hatred and contempt for those around her, just like her father, and though Ninjak tried to take her in alive, the fates were not as merciful and she died, killed by a falling stalactite.

Using a grappling hook, Ninjak climbed on to Pendragon’s chopper, but, as he went inside, Pendragon punched him with a fire extinguisher and told him that if he killed his beloved he would drag him to hell himself and make sure he stayed here for eternity. Enraged, Pendragon used the extinguisher to destroy the chopper’s controls, but then, Ninjak punched him in the face and jumped out of the chopper, which seconds later crashed on the mountain.

An hour later, after Ninjak diffused the rest of the explosives that Pendragon scattered about the landscape, he mused that once he radioed for pick up he could set off flares to burn off whatever methane gas managed to escape into the atmosphere. Finding the helicopter’s wreak Ninjak was surprised that there were no signs of Pendragon’s body anywhere. Sitting down on the snow, Ninjak found some small comfort in knowing that this was the plot of one insane man and not the return of Webnet as he suspected, but even though he accepted that Silk and his organization were gone for good, he was disturbed that the revelation was so disappointing.

Uncharted Territory

Uncharted Territory – Part I

In the Brazilian forest, Gabriela Ramirez and Tomas traced the perimeter around their rendezvous point three times without a sign from Raul and his men, who should have been there two days earlier. Suddenly, a scream lead them to a body. Holding the corpse in her arms, Gabriella could feel that he suffered a great deal before his passing, and that his agony was almost overwhelming. Assuring Tomas that he did not need to worry about her, Gabriella said that, sometimes, her empathic sensibility overwhelmed her unexpectedly. As Tomas wondered who the man was, and surmised that a panther killed him, Gabriela suggested that that they leave before the predator that killed him returned. Suddenly, someone shot Tomas with six darts and he fell to the ground. Startled by the sight of Tomas’ unconscious body, Gabriela heard a sound coming from behind her.

Several days later, at the King mansion in Canterbury, England, Colin King received a letter that said that Jason Haynes, one of the top lawyers for one of his corporate holdings in North America, was reported missing almost six months earlier. Blaming himself for overlooking matters closer to home and not dealing with this sooner, Colin accessed a computer file and learned that Haynes’ yacht was found off the coast of South America somewhere between Cayenne and Belem, partially sunk in the water and stripped clean, which implied that the vessel may have been raided by some sort of modern pirates.

One week later, on a sailing boat off the coast of South America, Colin mused that Haynes was not the only missing person to be reported in those waters, as it seemed that there had been a string of disappearances over the past two years that the Brazilian government was doing its best to keep quiet to avoid bad press. Though after his battle with Silk, Colin was not keen on playing decoy again, he did not see a batter way to gather information, and hoped that the precautions he had taken would ensure his survival.

Two nights later, a group of Askati South American warriors with glowing red eyes and armed with spears boarded Colin’s boat. Going through the motions of putting up a fight, Colin allowed the Askati to capture him in the hope that going along as the model prisoner would lead him to find Jason Haynes.

The next evening, the Askati took Colin to their camp in the very heart of the Amazon, where slaves were picking up orchids. As a group of Askati beat a man to dead, Terrence Whittingham, the site’s taskmaster, told their leader, Uaku, to tell the Askati to lighten up before they killed all his workers, or else he would use them to pick what the Botanist needed. Pleased to meet the Askati’s newest capture, Colin, Terrence told him that if he worked hard and well he would be set free in a year or two, and guaranteed that the more productive he was, the less time he would spend in the pit.

Displaced with the productiveness of a man currently occupying the pit, Terrence ordered the Askati to seal him inside, an act that Colin found horrific. After warning Colin that every night at high tide water flooded the low lands there, including the cavern, and telling him that no one had survived an overnight visit to the pit, Terrence ordered the Askati to strip search Colin, who to him looked like a clever man.

Two hours later, inside a holding cell, Colin watched as Terrence told Uaku that the Botanist would deliver the guns he promised them once they had collected enough specimens through a peep hole. As Uaku expressed concern at how Terrence betrayed his kind with such ease, Terrence told him that those people were not his kind, and that nothing would make them happier than the chance to exterminate his kind.

Wondering what the Botanist was about, Colin focused on his primary concern, which was to find Jason Haynes and get out of there. Certain that Haynes had to be in one of the other holding cells, Colin planned to make contact with him the next day. Just then, Colin met Tomas, who had heard about his exploits as Ninjak from Father Marcus Wilcox of Vatican Intelligence. As Tomas told Colin that he and his partner were captured, one of the Askati hit Tomas in the face with his spear and told them not to speak. Though Colin was not planning to stay there long, he could not make his move until he found Haynes, so he decided to stay low until he knew the score.

Elsewhere, Terrence met with the Botanist, who despite not feeling too well, was eager to continue his work to gather enough specimens to implement their plan. As the Botanist vowed that, soon, the narrow–minded fools were going to pay for their arrogance, Terrence said that it was almost a pity that they would not live long enough to know what hit them.

The next day, Terrence took Colin, Tomas, and the others to show them the corpse that Tomas and Gabriela found as a warning to remember that the jungle was filled with predators. Recognizing the corpse to be Jason Haynes, Colin decided that at the first opportunity he had he was going to escape, and vowed that only God could help Terrence when he did.

Several hours later, at the Askati’s camp, Colin watched as Gabriela punched an Askati with a rock to stop him from hitting one of the prisoners. Leaping off the ridge to help Gabriella, Tomas was killed by a group of Askati that stabbed him with their spears. Having seen enough, Colin joined the fray and killed some of the Askati with their own weapons, until he and one of them fell into the river. Tense moments later, after neither Colin nor the Askati resurfaced Terrence proclaimed that they had killed each other and their bodies had become tangled up in the weeds. Just in case, however, he told Uaku to take a group of men and scour the banks to make sure that Colin had not tricked them and made a dash for the far shore. Behind Terrence’s back, Gabriela hid the tip of an Askati spear in her uniform.

Later, Colin returned to the camp under the cover of darkness and retried his Ninjak uniform and weapons from the drums of fuel that the Askati took from his yacht. Donning his uniform, Ninjak went to look for the mysterious Botanist to shut down his operation. Just then, he stumbled across Gabriela, who used the spear to kill a guard and escape. As Ninjak realized that Terrence would be looking for her, he told Gabriela to run away with him, but, suddenly, Terrence and a group of Askati found them before they could escape. Unmasking Ninjak while the Askati tied them up, Terrence said that it was time for them to visit the pit.

Uncharted Territory – Part II

Standing outside the mouth of the pit, Gabriela wished for the lord to have mercy on Terrence, who, enraged, punched her in the mouth with his rifle and pushed her inside the cavern. Unable to help Gabriela from up there, Ninjak jumped after her to take his chances inside the pit. Upset that he did not get to toss Ninjak inside, Terrence ordered Uaku to seal the pit.

Inside the massive damp cavern, Ninjak used a scalpel hidden in his gauntlet to sever the ropes keeping his and Gabriela’s hands tied. With the pit flooding fast, Gabriela surmised that they had les than half an hour before they drowned, while Ninjak was certain that their best bet was to wait until the water level was high enough to reach the hatch, after which he hoped to get it open. Upon examining the hatch, however, Ninjak realized that his plan was not going to work. Just then, he realized that if the pit flooded every day at high tide, the waters had to recede at low tide, which could only mean that there was an underground channel connected to the river. Grabbing Gabriela’s hand, Ninjak pulled her alongside him across the channel out into the river. Coming up on the shore, Ninjak and Gabriela made a run for it to hide.

Shortly, as Gabriela thanked Ninjak for saving his life and he apologized to her for Tomas’ death, he was surprised to learn that Gabriela was a nun. As they gathered vines for Ninjak’s plan, Gabriela explained that all she could say was that they stumbled into Terrence’s operation by accident while they were on another mission. Accepting that, Ninjak asked her if she had any idea why they were picking the orchids, which without access to his database he could not determine any specifics. Confessing that her knowledge of botany was minimal, Gabriela asked Ninjak if he knew that Terrence had also had slaves collecting bioluminescent moss from the pit for months, none of which he kept at the camp and she suspected he stored elsewhere.

Telling Gabriela that he did not believe that Terrence was in charge of the operation, Ninjak said that he heard Terrence mention someone called the Botanist, and asked her if she knew anything about him, but she did not. Explain that the night before he saw Terrence taking the days’ harvest into the jungle to the mysterious Botanist, Ninjak said that there was another part of the operation, and that they had to find it if they were going to get some answers, but not before they freed the slaves.

Using several sacks of fertilizer and the diesel oil the Askati stole from his yacht, Ninjak devised a bomb that destroyed the Askati’s hut and caught them by surprise. Then, while Ninjak fought the Askati, Gabriela freed a group of slaves and organized them to free the others and help Ninjak. Bloody minutes later, Ninjak asked Gabriela to watch over things while he went after Terrence.

Following Terrence’s trail, Ninjak found the wreckage of a 20 year old plane that had been moved to cover a tunnel into the mountainside, which he surmised was the Botanist’ lair. Entering a cavern, Ninjak made his way up a wooden staircase and found a room filled with crates that contained medical supplies and lab equipment. Turning a corner, Ninjak met the Botanist, who he recognized to be Arthur Saltzman, a doctor with a PhD in microbiology and genetics who earned the Nobel Prize for his work in the Brazilian forest in the late 80’s, but then dropped out of the lecture circuit, after which no one had heard from him.

Stringing Arthur along, Ninjak got him to tell him that he plotted to use the orchids and moss to expose humans to a highly toxic poison to kill them to teach mankind a lesson for turning a blind eye toward ecological devastation. Unafraid of Ninjak since he had cancer, Arthur had nothing to loose, but when Ninjak revealed that Terrence had been using slaves to collect his precious specimens, he appeared surprised.

Suddenly, Terrence showed up and ordered Ninjak to leave. Tossing a table filled with chemicals and an oil lamp on the ground, Ninjak set the laboratory ablaze, while Terrence, armed with Bagh Nakhs, a set of claws used in India to simulate a tiger’s attack that Ninjak surmised Terrence used to murder Jason, lunged against him. Catching Terrence in mid–air, Ninjak tossed him against a vial of Arthur’s chemicals, which he knew would kill him within 20 minutes. Enraged, Terrence tossed a vial of the chemical at Ninjak, but he avoided it and the vial hit Arthur instead. Lunging after Ninjak, Terrence told Arthur to leave while he took care of him. Evading Terrence’s poison–dripping claws, Ninjak incapacitated him with his shuriken long enough for the poison in his system to take its toll, and then he ran out of the cave, which collapsed.

Crawling out of the cave, Terrence apologized to Arthur for failing him, and confessed that he used slaves because he could not pick up the amount of specimens he needed even with the Askati’s help before he died. As Ninjak noted that Terrence’s blind obedience could have only been because he in love with Arthur, Arthur grabbed one of the claws and, in a rage, lunged against Ninjak, who kicked him over a cliff.

Several hours later, at the Askati camp, Gabriela agreed to stay to keep things secure while Ninjak left to radio for help. Shortly, as they parted ways, Ninjak told Gabriela to take care of herself and said that maybe they would meet again.

Interlude V

Killzone

In the fall of 1986, in the sewers beneath Berlin, West Germany, a group of Webnet agents captured Jessica Alcott during a firefight with British Intelligence to take her to see Dr. Silk.

In Autumn of 1995, Neville Alcott met with Ninjak in a cemetery in the English countryside and told him that he had found the man responsible for killing Jessica. Explaining that Jessica was working undercover in East Germany in the 80’s, and that when the group uncovered one of Webnet’s arms schemes Silk’s people raided them and killed the others but kept Jessica as a pawn, Neville showed Ninjak a photo of Aaron Herkovitch, a celebrity sculptor who two days earlier confessed that he gave away Jessica’s group. Telling Ninjak that they were bringing Herkovitch to Scotland for a full debriefing, Neville said that Herkovitch requested that he guard him from whom he worked for before he silenced him, or else he would not tell them any more. Furthermore, Neville added that Herkovitch knew Colin’s father.

The next day in Scotland, a helicopter dropped Herkovitch off outside residence, where Neville introduced him to Dobson, head of Intelligence for Northern Scotland, his assistant Jonathan Rourke, and Simons Bressler, who worked for the Israelis and whose presence made Herkovitch noticeably anxious. As Neville accused Herkovitch’s dabblings in espionage of costing him his wife, Herkovitch lashed out and told him not to judge him, then he accused him of being the one who killed his wife for trying to bluff with Silk. Upset, Herkovitch took his arm to his chest and swallowed a nitroglycerine pill that Rourke gave him for his heart. As Bressler suggested that they postpone the questioning until Herkovitch had rested, Ninjak could not help but wonder what Neville hoped to gain by antagonizing Herkovitch.

That night, Herkovitch told Ninjak that he met his father in 1960, when he was in Japan for one of his shows. Ninjak believed that Herkovitch found himself in a sour deal between art collectors and shady businessmen that Jonathan King bailed him out, but Herkovitch revealed that he only got involved because of his father, who he met at the Embassy and thought his contact could be useful, but left him to fend off the wolves on his own. Certain that he would not come out of the interrogation alive, Herkovitch wanted his story to be told and asked Ninjak to listen to his tale and consider that he was not the monster Alcott made him out to be.

Confronting Herkovitch with his knowledge that the leak that resulted in Jessica’s death came from Jessica herself, Ninjak accused him of setting her up and leaving her to die. In tears, Herkovitch revealed that Webnet did tell him to have an affair with Jessica, but that she feel in love with her and when he gave her location to Silk he promised that she would be spared, but he betrayed him. Standing Herkovitch, Ninjak asked him if Neville knew about the affair, but while Herkovitch did not know, he believed it was possible.

The next morning, Ninjak warned Neville that he had been on the net since dawn and learned that it seemed like remnant Webnet factions had hired Sister Serenity and her boys to terminate Herkovitch, and that it was only a matter of time before they found them.

Later, during the interrogation, Herkovitch revealed that Webnet meant to dispose of him for his involvement in a strike against Silk, but he convinced them that he would be more valuable to them alive. By the time he realized the truth about his financial backers, and had no means of escape, Herkovitch met with the Israeli Mossad, who approached him with a solution to his problems. In exchange for information about a Russian defense system, the Israeli got Webnet off Herkovitch’s back, but then a year earlier he met Prime Minister Majors and they became friends, quite publicly enough to grab the attention of some folks in Ireland. Just then, Herkovitch had need of a pill for his hearth, but as he took it he keeled over and died, poisoned. Meanwhile, outside the castle, Sister Serenity’s boys confronted the British Intelligence guards.

As Bressler accused Alcott of killing Herkovitch over the affair he had with his wife, Rourke accused him of calling Silk’s bluff on purpose when he found out about his wife’s infidelity. Suddenly, Sister Serenity’s boys broke into the room and opened fire on everyone. Shielding everyone in an alcove, Ninjak used an explosive shell to bring the roof down on Serenity’s boys.

Later, Ninjak told everyone that their accusations against Neville were misplaced. Herkovitch had told Ninjak that the IRA learned of his dealings with Webnet through a leak from Dobson’s office, and blackmailed him into re–joining the spy circuit. Pointing an accusing finger at Rourke, Ninjak revealed that he had been part of a clandestine IRA cell for years, and accused him of slipping a cyanide pill into Herkovitch’s medication to keep him from saying anything that might lead to the wrong questions.

Furthermore, Ninjak said that Herkovitch had been leaking information riddled with inaccuracies. Turning to Bressler, and revealing that he had been Herkovitch’s liaison with Mossad, which was how he knew about him and Jessica, Ninjak got him to say that they had doctored the data he delivered to the IRA to avoid his involvement in a scandal behind his back. As Bressler that he was there, not to kill Herkovitch but to help him make peace with his conscience, Neville solemnly pointed out that it was a moot point.

Several days later, Ninjak visited Jessica’s grave and told her that she could rest easy.

Inner Sanctums

Twenty miles from Rome, in Italy, Ninjak clandestinely assisted to the wedding of Antonio Vincenzo, the most influential industrial in Rome and possibly all of Italy, with Eva Lenya, a top fashion model. Antonio did Ninjak a favor back in his Weaponeer days, which made him dangerous enemies, so when he got the tip that someone had planning trouble on his wedding day, Ninjak had to make sure there was none. After Eva and Antonio got into their horse–drawn carriage, a man aimed a gun at Vincenzo, but Ninjak leapt out of the tree he was hiding on and kicked him aside just as he fired.

Leaping into the carriage, the killer held a knife to Eva’s throat and threatened to kill her if Antonio and Ninjak made a move. Just then, Ninjak threw his shuriken at the killer and made him drop his knife, which gave Eva the chance to break free and cut him in the face with a broken champagne glass. Kicking the killer of the carriage and under the wheels, which resulted in his getting trampled, Ninjak gave Eva his best wishes and left before Antonio arrived.

As Ninjak went into the bushes to find his bike, the priest who performed the ceremony gave him a note signed by MW that asked him to be at the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa the next day. Leaving on his bike, Ninjak was certain that he had caught the attention of the folks in the Vatican.

The next day, at the Church of Saint Peter’s in Rome, Colin King walked into the Cornado Chapel to find the sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, Marcus Wilcox’s favorite piece in the cathedral. Speaking in whispers, Marcus told Colin that he was there at the request of another, and assured him that he did not betray his secret. Regretting that he could not be his contact, Marcus told Colin to go to the confessional to be absolved of his sins, then he blessed him.

Shortly, Colin fell down a trapdoor inside the confessional into a mini train that took him down a tunnel to a station where two guards lead him to see Cardinal Arcadius. Welcoming Colin, the Cardinal, who happened to be the head of Vatican Intelligence, told him that for years he had told the Pope that they needed to pursue a more aggressive stance in the global community, and that with terrorism on the rise he had no desire to see the next attempt on the Pope succeed. Having read Colin’s file, the Cardinal knew he was the best, and told him that he wanted him to put one of their people through an intensive training program to give them their own version of the perfect spy, but Colin refused.

Ringing a bell in his hand, the Cardinal summoned Gabriela in the hope that seeing her would convince Colin to reconsider, but Colin found the whole concept to be ludicrous. Though the Cardinal offered to share information with Colin regarding his mother as a token of good faith, Colin said that if he wanted he found he would not need their help. Pleading with Colin to reconsider, Gabriela told him that she hoped that their experience together in South America would count in her favor, but Colin told her that he was not comfortable with the idea and that he enjoyed his privacy.

Later, at a convent outside Rome, as Sister Gabriela packed her things, she told Sister Catherine that Colin ultimately agreed to take her for a week, and that supposed that he wanted to prove she could not endure the training. Giving Gabriela a box that she said had something inside it that would help her to understand Colin, Sister Catherine told her not to open it until he had agreed to be her teacher.

After Sister Gabriela arrived in Canterbury and settled in her room in the attic, the only place in the grounds that fit her vow of poverty, she changed into her training clothes and went to the gym, where she surprised Colin with her handling of the Jo staff. Impressed with Gabriela’s collapsible staff, Colin offered to introduce her to Maggie, his technical advisor, then, after he left, she told her that her testing would begin the next day at four in the morning in the Rose garden.

That morning, as Ninjak showed up at two minutes before seven, Gabriela realized that making her wait three hours was part of her test. Standing over Gabriela, Ninjak told her that he needed to check her tenacity and patience to determine how sincere her interest was in becoming a Kunoichi, a female ninja. Saying that a less disciplined individual would have taken off in frustration, Ninjak was pleased that Gabriela waited for his arrival without protest, a remark that made her realize that he had been there all along watching her.

Taking Gabriela inside, Ninjak told her that there were three levels of physical training that were the basis for Taijutsu, the ninja system of unarmed fighting. The first involved conditioning one’s body for suppleness and agility, and since Gabriela had already studied the way of the Jo, which required a balance of spiritual and physical discipline, she possessed a natural edge that impressed Colin.

As the days went by, Colin took Gabriela to the second level, which involved the channeling of the body’s energies. A quick learner, Gabriela did not complain or lost her patience despite the intentional hard time Ninjak gave her. Throwing Gabriela down on the math during a demonstration of Fu No Kata, the ninja’s wind–like mode of response, Ninjak tossed a towel at her and told her that the art of evasion would allow her to overcome an opponent who appeared superior in strength and speed.

By the sixth day Colin explained the third level, which involved learning to use the dynamic force of the universe, a force that the West did not acknowledge existed. Taking Gabriela to the garden, Ninjak suspected that the concept might not jibe with her theological views. Telling Gabriela that the trick laid in learning how to tap into the force, Ninjak asked her to position her body so that he would not be able to knock her over if he pushed her. Doing as told, Gabriela reacted through Ninjak did not intend to strike and knocked herself over. Telling Gabriela to stand up again, Ninjak tried to punch her again with his open palm to see if she could feel his blow. As Ninjak’s hand came close to touching her breast Gabriela stopped him and said that, after six days of not objecting to his attempts to discourage her, she drew the line at becoming his punching bag, and suggested that he fulfill his adolescent sexual fantasies elsewhere.

As Gabriela turned around to leave, Ninjak congratulated her for reacting the right way, and agreed to train her if that was what she still wanted. Revealing that she was there at her own request, Gabriela told Ninjak that she suggested contacting him after their encounter with the Askati, then she went back to the house.

Later that night, Colin stood in the study hoping that he had not made a big mistake since Gabriela was more than a capable and it would be a waste to not hone those skills to their outmost proficiency. While Colin mused that there was nothing to worry about Gabriela, who was a nun that could not have any ulterior motives, unbeknownst to him, Gabriela had opened the box that Sister Catherine gave her and unveiled a personal journal of Captain Jonathan King written in 1955.

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