Chapter One of The Brazen Shark by David Lee Summers

A Legion in Hiding

Shinriki hefted a twelve-foot long marek and sighted his quarry. With a practiced thrust, he drove the spear's hooked tip into soft flesh and lifted the squirming body, streaming water and blood. He turned and dropped the flopping salmon onto a mound of its kin and nodded, satisfied.

"A good haul," said Pasekur from the boat's stern.

Shinriki looked to the river where salmon still schooled. Although plenty of daylight remained, the boat lay low in the water and the catch needed to be cleaned and prepared for the smokehouse.

His gaze drifted to the Russian village called Poronaysk on the river's far bank. A year ago, the smoke would have alarmed the fisherman, who would have assumed a nearby forest fire. Now, he knew it came from Russian factories. At least the Sakhalin Islanders left his village alone. According to travelers, Japanese soldiers harassed Ainu villages in Hokkaido to the south.

He took a deep breath of pine-scented air. At least the wind blew the smoke out to sea, away from the river. Aside from the smell of salmon, which indicated a satisfactory catch, the air near the village remained fresh.

Shinriki lay the marek down in the boat, then settled into the bow and retrieved an oar. Together, he and Pasekur rowed against the current to the Poronay River's far shore. As they reached the bank, Shinriki spotted his wife, Ipokash. From a distance, the dark ink around her mouth looked like a smile. Once he pulled the boat onto the beach, he saw a genuine smile within the tattoo. She summoned several young women who helped them haul the salmon to a work area in front of the smokehouse.

After a few minutes to refresh himself with some water and to wrap his weary arms around Ipokash, Shinriki settled in to help gut the salmon. As the messy work drew to a close, long shadows darkened the land. The women hung the cleaned salmon in the smokehouse and rekindled the gentle fire while Shinriki went to the river to wash up.

As he knelt by the water, horses thundered in from the northeast. He stood and turned, water dripping from his long beard. Russian soldiers would ford the river nearby.

These soldiers wore lacquered metal armor and helmets. Vertical, rectangular sashimono flags adorned with a flower in a circle fluttered from poles mounted to the backs of four riders. Horn-like maidate adorned the leader's helmet. Shinriki blinked a few times. Samurai!

The Meiji Emperor's army outlawed the samurai in Japan. These samurai must be bandits, driven northward. Of course, raiding a city as big as Poronaysk with a contingent of Russian soldiers would be futile, but the small Ainu village on the Poronay River's far bank must seem like easy prey.

Shinriki ran to the boat and grabbed the one weapon available, his marek. As he rushed toward the village, the samurai fired pistols and at least six Ainu fell backwards. Women ran around, shouting and herding children into the huts. Men rushed at the samurai with knives and clubs only to be rebuffed by the mounted warriors.

Pasekur appeared from his hut with a bow and arrows. He loosed an arrow, which ripped through a sashimono flag. A mounted samurai fired a second pistol. The bullet caught Pasekur, whirled him around, and he flopped to the ground.

Shinriki ran forward, cursing the long, narrow marek. Not made for combat, the spear wobbled with each step.

The samurai stirred up a dust cloud as they brought their horses to a stop, dismounted, and dispersed through the village, unleashing a fresh cacophony of screams, shouts and cries. One group of warriors made straight for the smokehouse. Ipokash charged out and shouted at the warriors in Japanese.

The leader whirled around and pointed at her with a curved, gleaming katana. Shinriki sprinted a dozen steps, planted his feet, and prepared to drive the spear's hook into a joint between armor plates. The leader spun and knocked the spear away with the flat of the katana's blade. As Shinriki backpedaled, he noticed the leader wore a face guard, adorned with a fearsome horsehair mustache. The leader took a step forward and crouched, spine straight, and glared at Shinriki with dark, brown eyes. The posture seemed unbalanced, but the fisherman didn't have time to consider it further before the samurai brought the katana back for a blow.

Shinriki dove inside the strike and tackled the leader. With surprising agility given the armor, the leader rolled out from under Shinriki, dropping the katana. Shinriki lunged for the sword, but the samurai kicked him backwards. The fisherman gasped for breath and fought to focus on the swirling pinks and blues of the twilight sky above. The samurai retrieved the sword and rushed back to the village center.

Shinriki's vision cleared enough and he lifted himself onto one elbow, then reached up and touched his moist forehead, not surprised by the blood on his fingers. No doubt, the samurai's armored boot cut his scalp. Perhaps the warrior thought Shinriki had been dealt a fatal blow. Dizzy as he was, he considered it possible. He lay back for a moment swallowing gulps of air.

Soon, breathing came easier and he sat up again. He reached out and ripped a strip of cloth from his sleeve and wrapped it around his head wound. The samurai tied salmon bundles to their horses. A woman's scream brought Shinriki to his feet. Ipokash yelled curses in Japanese, Russian, and Ainu as a samurai shoved her onto a horse between a rider and a bundle of salmon.

"Ipokash!" Shinriki reached down and grabbed the marek. He stumbled forward as Ipokash struggled, causing the horse to dance around in a circle. Shinriki circled with the horse, found an opening and drove the marek home. The samurai whirled and dislodged the spear's hooked head.

Another samurai rushed in from the side and shoved Shinriki to the ground as the rider regained control of his horse. The leader barked a command and the samurai ran for their horses. The fisherman foundered on the ground, his joints screaming in pain as the samurai mounted their horses. Ipokash had fallen silent. Shinriki tried to focus as he pulled himself to his feet. The samurai rode away. He finally caught sight of Ipokash, lying between a bundle of salmon and the rider. He ran after the horsemen, but they soon outdistanced him. He stopped, panting.

After a few minutes, Shinriki caught his breath and turned around to face the tattered and broken village, so beautiful and idyllic just moments before. The samurai bandits hadn't burned anything, but they'd ripped out door curtains and burst through walls, taking anything they thought held value. Friends lay on the ground, dead or wounded. The horse corral stood empty, the Ainu mounts stolen or run off. Shinriki unleashed a yell of rage which set his head throbbing.

Just then, Shinriki remembered Pasekur, cut down by a bullet. His friend lay near his hut, blood pooled under his ruined shoulder.

Shinriki knelt beside Pasekur, and examined the wound, which seemed small and bled little despite the pool darkening pool of congealed blood. Shinriki tried to revive his friend, but his gut lurched as though falling from a great height when he felt the cold, waxy skin. Pasekur would never wake again.

Shinriki leapt to his feet and ran several steps after the samurai. He needed to rescue Ipokash. They killed Pasekur. He sank to his knees when he realized he held no weapon and the growing darkness swallowed the bandits' trail. The night's first stars seemed to mock him. The samurai had his wife, but how could he hope to fight for her. His village had been decimated and might not recover. Men, women and children all wailed into the darkening night. Did anyone remain to fight?

Shinriki shot an angry glance at Poronaysk. Lights winked on, defying the darkness. More than once, Russian soldiers had come across the river to demand the Ainu's fealty to the emperor a continent away in St. Petersburg. Perhaps the time had arrived to determine that fealty's worth.

* * *

The next morning, far to the east of Shinriki's village, Ramon Morales awoke to bright sunlight streaming through a round window in a metal wall. He lay in a comfortable bed next to the most beautiful woman he knew—Fatemeh Karimi, his wife. He supposed that made her Fatemeh Morales now. Onofre Cisneros, a one-time pirate, swept them away for a honeymoon aboard his freighter called the Ballena. The Spanish word for whale suited the sturdy, powerful steamship. The name belied the ship's speed, but served to keep people from associating the new vessel with Onofre's sleek pirate frigate, named Tiborón—Spanish for shark.

Cisneros turned pirate to demonstrate a small submersible boat's potential in warfare. The Mexican government shunned him because of ties to the former Emperor Maximillian. He gave up the career in piracy when Fatemeh showed him the submersible boat may have more uses in peacetime than in war. Since then, Cisneros had purchased shares in the seaport at Ensenada, Mexico and ingratiated himself with President Diaz.

Now, the captain traveled to the Hawaiian Islands to sign a trade agreement with a British sugarcane plantation owner. The captain thought the islands would be the perfect vacation getaway for the couple.

Ramon leaned over and kissed Fatemeh gently on the cheek. She squirmed a bit, but remained asleep. He climbed out of bed, pulled on trousers and washed up. A Bible sat on a table next to a chair. Ramon wasn't sure whether Fatemeh had brought the Bible or whether it belonged to the cabin's previous occupant. It didn't matter. It allowed him to check the faint memory of a Bible story which had been gnawing at him.

He sat down and thumbed through the book. Less than a month ago, in Sausalito, Ramon spoke to an invisible creature—or were they creatures?—that came from a distant star. The creature, called Legion, helped the Russians invade America, but Ramon persuaded it to let humans solve their own problems. The creature soon departed, which allowed the American army to push back against the Russian invasion. At last, the two countries negotiated—a distinct improvement over fighting.

Ramon found the passage he sought in the Gospel of Mark Chapter 5, verses 8 and 9: "For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many."

Legion described itself as a creature from the stars, but Ramon saw parallels with a mischief-causing demon. Certainly the "heavens" the creature showed Ramon seemed more hellish than any angelic realm he'd ever imagined. Ramon pictured Legion as a swarm of tiny clockwork automata.

A knock at the cabin door interrupted Ramon's thoughts. He looked back and made sure a blanket covered Fatemeh, then cracked the door open. A steward held a tray containing two breakfast plates and a carafe filled with coffee. "The captain's compliments," said the man.

Ramon thanked him and brought the tray inside and set it on the trunk at the foot of the bed. Fatemeh stirred and sat up.

"Well, good morning, sleepy-head," said Ramon.

"If you hadn't kept me awake so late, I would have been up earlier." Fatemeh gave a sly grin. "Did I hear breakfast arrive?"

"Thanks to the captain." Ramon handed her a plate with eggs, beans and chile, then poured the coffee and handed her a cup. She took a sip, sighed contentment, then dug into the hearty breakfast.

Ramon gathered up the second plate and cup, but felt uncomfortable and lazy as he returned to the chair. He'd been many things including a sheriff and a ranch hand. He enjoyed working, but Captain Cisneros insisted Ramon and Fatemeh were guests and must enjoy their time together. Despite his lethargy, Ramon's stomach rumbled. He gulped down breakfast and sopped up the leftover egg yolks and chile with a tortilla.

"Slow down," said Fatemeh. "You'll give yourself a stomach ache."

"I don't know why I'm so hungry."

She shrugged. "Must be the sea air."

Glancing over at the tray, Ramon spotted a folded paper. He set the empty plate on the small table next to the Bible and read the note. "Captain Cisneros has invited us to visit him on deck after we finish breakfast."

"Does he say what he wants?"

Ramon shook his head. The captain had been occupied since they boarded the ship and they only visited him once as guests for dinner. The newlyweds dressed and made themselves presentable then left the cabin. Ramon eyed the steamship's steel girders with suspicion. Even though Fatemeh had explained it to him, Ramon found it counterintuitive that a steel vessel could float.

The two reached the companionway to the ship's afterdeck. There, beside the rail, a man wearing denim trousers, a teal waistcoat and a white, peaked hat looked off into the distance. He turned around and removed his hat. "You look lovely today, Señora Morales."

"Why thank you, Captain Cisneros." Fatemeh curtsied. Ramon noted her grace, and tried to recall if she'd made the gesture before.

"When we first met, I had the privilege of taking you aboard the Legado." The captain referred to a submersible he built based on a Spanish design. "Not only do I have a new ship, I have a new submersible as well."

The captain led them to the ship's stern, where he lifted the protective lid on a control pedestal. The captain pressed a button and a hatch slid aside. A mechanical rumbling sounded from below decks and a white, egg-shaped mechanism arose. Four fins, each resembling a ship's rudder, encircled the stern. Round windows lined the vessel's sides. Near the front, four long, arm-like cylinders protruded with finger-like claws. Ramon thought it resembled a stubby, pale squid with four tentacles instead of ten. The machine seemed ready to grapple some unseen foe.

A chemical reaction steam engine that vented into the cabin itself powered the captain's prototype. If the steam engine had burned coal or wood, such venting would be fatal for the crew, but the captain's craft used oxygen-producing chemicals.

Cisneros strutted alongside the strange craft and banged on its metal side. "I've made this new submersible much stronger than its predecessor." He climbed up ladder rungs welded to the craft's side, opened a hatch and then disappeared inside. With a whir and a hiss, the arms moved out to the side. The claws opened and closed. Afterward, doors opened near the craft's keel. Hydraulics hissed and squeaked as a pair of continuous track treads similar to those on a steam tractor emerged.

The captain's head protruded from the submersible's hatch. "I can use the arms to repair ships under water. I can use the treads to work on a ship close to land or push a grounded craft into deeper water. I call this new submersible, Calamar."

Ramon smiled, thinking the Spanish word for squid was indeed an apt name.

"It's marvelous," cried Fatemeh.

"You gave me the idea," said the captain.

Ramon's brow furrowed. "And the execution? This looks quite sophisticated, not unlike the Russian airships. How did you figure out how to build this craft?"

Cisneros pursed his lips. He left the submersible, then led Ramon and Fatemeh to the rail and looked out over the sea.

"I gather you know about the creature called Legion," said Cisneros. "He split into multiple parts. Part remained with the Russians. Part traveled with Maravilla…"

The captain referred to an exiled Mexican professor who invented craft that flapped their wings to fly and an automaton disguised as a wolf. He'd also invented a mining machine called the Javelina, which wreaked havoc in Apache country southeast of Tucson. "Part of Legion went with you," surmised Ramon.

"Legion has been a good companion." Cisneros's voice held a sorrowful note. "He guided me as I built my business, helping me choose good investments. He showed me better ways to build machines. He even helped me build better ships, such as the Ballena. A few more years under Legion's tutelage and I could imagine Mexico surpassing the United States as the Western Hemisphere's commercial leader."

"Except if Legion's influence continued—and he succeeded in his plans—there might be just one country and our emperor would be Czar Alexander." Ramon folded his arms.

Cisneros nodded. "I wonder if one world government would be so bad."

"I think it would be a good thing," said Fatemeh. "However, I think humans have to build that government on their own."

"Do you know what happened to Legion?" asked Cisneros. "I just caught a glimpse of him reunifying before he vanished from my mind." His smile grew wistful. "I have to admit I had grown used to his incessant chatter in my brain. It's lonely with him gone."

Ramon shook his head. He didn't like the idea of an alien creature knowing his thoughts and poking around his memories. He was glad the interfering, invisible alien had vanished. "I have no idea where he is. No idea if he'll even return." He hoped the alien had left for good.

* * *

Legion lingered on Earth, observing humans in a contrite silence as he pondered his actions. He'd chosen the name Legion millennia ago because he was a swarm of microscopic self-propelled automata. Although the name also could mean an armed contingent, he possessed only a limited ability to alter the environment around him. Long ago, he had been a single, self-aware organism who discovered he could upload his memories, consciousness, personality—everything that made him alive—into a machine which had the ability to modify itself. The machine evolved and grew stronger until it achieved its present form. No longer encumbered by a planet or mortality, Legion wandered the universe, observing, learning, and gaining knowledge.

Since arriving on Earth, Legion had encountered beings who referred to themselves by names such as Duncan, Gorloff, Morales, and Cisneros. One called himself Maravilla—marvelous in the Spanish language—a name the being assumed to identify himself, much as Legion created his own moniker. Legion remembered assorted names. Most were simple combinations of letters and numbers which identified the different machines he once occupied, but some held ancient meaning. Perhaps one had even been his name as a corporeal life form.

For millennia, Legion never once cared about any names he once held. Now, he looked back on his long journey and wondered how his knowledge changed him. Perhaps if he knew his earlier names, he might remember what he'd been like in times past. He searched volumes of data, but couldn't tell which name had once been his. One early machine he'd occupied had deemed the information irrelevant and erased his early names from memory. If Legion had tear ducts, he might have wept for the memory of the organic being he had once been.

His. He. What did personal pronouns mean when you were a swarm of microscopic machines that reproduced asexually? Since he arrived on Earth, Legion gravitated toward male hosts. He wondered if that meant anything. Humans ascribed much meaning to gender. According to his observations, men tended to cultivate power more than women. Legion never cared about power before arriving on Earth. He was an invisible being, content to observe whatever he came across. Power only mattered once he developed an agenda.

Over the millennia, Legion observed much. He watched solar systems form. He watched supernovae destroy thousands of species in a microsecond. On one planet, simple multicellular organisms frolicked among algae forests. In a distant, barred spiral galaxy, a star empire held sway over a million worlds. He occupied a green and tentacled space explorer's brain to understand the reason for a lonesome voyage and found a kindred spirit who thrilled in being the first of his kind to visit a system of planets orbiting a pulsar. Legion examined a five-gendered animal species to find out what they sought in mates. He rode tachyons from one end of the universe to another. He placed himself in a slingshot orbit around a black hole and listened to the whispers of information retreating with the radiation. It all fascinated Legion, but he never once involved himself, except as a spectator.

Never once, though, had Legion come across another creature identical to himself—a merging of organic and machine intelligence.

What compelled Legion to get involved with humans? He supposed it came from encountering them at just the right point in their history, when machines moved beyond tools. He hoped, perhaps, to influence human evolution. Perhaps they would avoid the suspicion some species held about machines and form a true kinship. Over a few thousand years, they might evolve into creatures like him.

Was he lonely?

There was no logic in the idea that a swarm could be lonesome. Nevertheless, when he integrated with Maravilla, Cisneros, even Gorloff, he enjoyed interacting with other beings who might interpret the same data in different ways and see meaning beyond the physical. He also knew their loneliness when he sat quiet in the back of their mind and observed.

Legion had been tempted to fully integrate with Maravilla and Cisneros. He could have lived out their mortal existences as them, sharing their consciousness. It would have been a flicker in his existence, but what a joy it would be to understand the world as they did and bring the experience back to the swarm. Then he realized they had a right to their own existence, no matter how fleeting. He must not trifle with their lives.

The human called Ramon Morales also helped him see the inherent danger in attempting to manipulate the entire species. Instead of unifying the species, he might cause them to destroy each other. Legion had seen civilizations self-destruct. He could fix the problem by occupying every human on the planet, but then humans would just be puppets. Their free will and their perspectives made them interesting potential companions who could help him evaluate and find meaning in the knowledge he'd gained.

Legion decided to pull back and see what the humans did. If he could prevent destruction, he would. If they asked for help, he would evaluate the situation and take the most beneficial action. He wanted them back on a track to meld with their machines. He looked forward to a day when he would have a companion. He could wait. And if humans failed, he would seek other beings, elsewhere.

* * *

Shinriki worked late into the night helping those who survived the raid clear away the dead and restore order to the village. Only forty of the one hundred twelve villagers remained and most were bruised and bleeding. After the elders counted, the only Ainu missing was Ipokash. Despite their wounds, the few surviving men made brave noises about tracking the samurai to their lair. The village elder, Akiki shook his head as he cradled his splinted arm. "We are too weak to fight the samurai. Fighting now would just bring more tragedy."

Shinriki trembled as he stared into the campfire, tears streaming. He agreed they didn't have the manpower to hunt the bandits, but he needed to take action. "I'll go to Poronaysk tomorrow and ask the Russian mayor for help, he choked out at last.

Akiki looked up, a faint glimmer of hope warring with resentment. "What do the Russians care for us?"

"The Russians might not care for us," said Akiki's wife, Katkemat, "but they will surely care about a Japanese incursion on the island."

Shinriki nodded, then trudged off to his hut and fell into a troubled sleep.

The next day, he sought a simple breakfast but found the samurai had taken all the grains he might use for a porridge. Stomach rumbling, he dressed. Fog rolled in overnight and poured through the holes in the hut's walls, adding to the day's dismal, dreary feeling. Shinriki strode to the river, pushed his boat into the water, and rowed across to the far side.

Men in tattered coats and trousers eyed him as he reached the far bank. A few spoke in hushed Russian, but didn't speak to him. The Russians who worked along the riverbank were accustomed to the Ainu fisherman, neither hostile, nor congenial. None seemed concerned about the village's condition. Had no one witnessed the samurai raid?

Shinriki slogged up the riverbank onto the village's cobbled streets lined by gray boxy structures. Sometimes, the Ainu villagers crossed the river to barter for food or supplies. Shinriki knew his way around. Along the main street, men strung white, red, and blue banners between windows. Beyond the city hall, workers raised a long, narrow tower. Poronaysk poised for a celebration.

Shinriki climbed the city hall's steps and entered a bare, gray corridor. Although a steam radiator stood in the hallway, the Ainu fisherman shivered and wondered how the Russians could work in such a sterile place. He entered a small office. A clerk wearing a coat, trousers, and waistcoat only a little less tattered than those belonging to the men on the riverbank sorted papers. Shinriki waited for a moment. When the clerk continued to work, the fisherman stepped forward and rapped on the tabletop. The clerk looked as though he'd eaten something sour. "May I help you?" The words came out in a huff.

"I wish to see the mayor." Shinriki spoke serviceable Russian.

The clerk shook his head. "I'm afraid that would be impossible. The mayor is much too busy right now."

"Raiders attacked our village last night," said Shinriki. "My wife abducted. Many killed. Our horses stolen."

"I'm sorry to hear that." The clerk's words sounded rehearsed rather than sincere. "But what you Ainu do to one another is of little concern to us." He leaned forward, ready to return to work.

Shinriki barred his teeth, frustrated. The Ainu were not mere savages who raided one another. "Not Ainu," said Shinriki. "Samurai."

The clerk looked up and blinked, showing interest for the first time. "Samurai? From Japan?"

"Where else would samurai come from?"

The clerk sat back as though evaluating Shinriki anew. "When did this raid occur?"

"Last night. Many men killed. My wife—taken."

The clerk removed his wire-frame spectacles and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Wait here." He stood and disappeared through a door behind the desk.

Shinriki noticed the clerk had not offered him a chair. As he waited, raised voices came from the other room, but not quite loud enough for him to make out the words. After a few minutes the clerk followed a man with silver hair and a neat goatee through the door. Taller than Shinriki, the new arrival wore a tailcoat and a purple waistcoat.

"You say samurai attacked your village?"

Shinriki recounted the previous night's raid, but sensed he was losing precious time. "They took my wife. Will you send soldiers to find them?"

The mayor waved his hand. "You're sure these people were Japanese?"

"They wore samurai armor," insisted Shinriki.

"Does it matter if they're Japanese?" interjected the clerk. "If this raid occurred, it's clear we have troublemakers on our hands."

The mayor nodded. "And we don't need trouble. Especially not now." He met Shinriki's gaze. "Return to your village. I'll send a patrol to check out your story and follow up."

"The raid happened." Shinriki opened his robe and revealed his bruised shoulder.

The clerk stepped forward, took Shinriki by the elbow, and led him from the office and down the hall. "I can assure you this matter is of the upmost importance to the mayor. You should return to the village and wait for the soldiers."

Shinriki frowned, but couldn't think of anything better to do, so he returned home.

As the day wore on, the fog dissipated, but a high overcast remained. The Russians' half-hearted response disheartened the villagers and they again debated whether they should attempt to follow the bandits' trail on their own. Despite their brave words, only Shinriki's cousin Resak seemed up to the task. He'd survived the battle with just a few bruises and scratches. While Shinriki pleaded with the mayor, Resak followed the samurai trail a few miles upriver before returning home to report what he learned.

Before noon, two barges ferried a squad of mounted Russian soldiers across the river. The soldiers examined the village, questioned a few of the men, then walked around the perimeter while the horses grazed on the lush grass. Completing their circuit, they convened near the remains of the smokehouse. "Whoever raided your village rode off along the river," declared the squadron leader. Shinriki didn't know Russian military insignia well enough to know his rank.

"Why does the mayor doubt us?" asked Shinriki.

The soldier sneered, as though simple questions from peasants annoyed him. When Shinriki refused to back down, the soldier explained further. "It's not that he doubts you. He just doesn't want soldiers tied up with everything that's happening right now."

"What exactly is happening?" pressed Shinriki.

The soldier's eyes drifted along the tree line. "You'll find out soon enough. All I can say is that it's an important time for Poronaysk." He returned his gaze to Shinriki. "Don't worry. If the bandits are still around here, we'll find them and we'll deal with them."

"We want to come along. At least a few of us." Shinriki brandished his bow and arrows. Resak stepped up beside him.

The Russian soldier raised his hand in an unspoken signal and the scouts mounted their horses. "You'll just slow us down." The soldier's words held no malice. "We're better equipped to deal with these bandits." He mounted the horse and swept his hand forward. The soldiers rode off, following the samurai's trail.

Akiki approached and grabbed Shinriki's elbow as though he needed a little extra support. "So is that it? We just wait for the Russian soldiers to return?"

"I may not be as fast as them, but I can follow their trail and report what they find."

Akiki grunted approval.

Shinriki strode after the soldiers. Resak followed but Shinriki held up his hand. "Stay here and help the elders. The Russians may detain me if they catch me following. If I don't return, it'll be up to you to rescue Ipokash and the supplies.

Resak gave a sharp nod as Shinriki set out.

The adventure continues in The Brazen Shark

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