The Dawn of MAN

Copyright © 2011 By Elbert Lewis, Jr.

Part I

The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation.
When great causes are on the move in the world
we learn that we are spirits not animals,
and that something is going on in space and time,
and beyond space and time,
which whether we like it or not, spells duty.

~Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965
Radio broadcast to America [June 16, 1941]

Chapter 1

An Inhuman Act

Mark Olson stood rigid and dumbstruck after a blinding flash of incongruity assaulted his mind. Reality lost its meaning on a bright, cloudless day in early June as the here and now faded to nightmarish flashbacks of tracer rounds, exploding mortar shells and bloody swards littered with the broken bodies and shattered dreams of idealistic young men. Gruesome images of the hideously ripped flesh of comrade and foe alike pressed upon him and threatened to penetrate his carefully constructed psychological armor. An uncontrollable trembling began in his bullet scared left leg and a wintry chill suffused his whole body. Olson closed his eyes but he couldn't escape the searing memories of the anguish and the pain—the gut wrenching fear.

His partner, Special Agent Bradley Stevens, reached the top landing on the front steps of the Fulton County, Alabama, Middle School before he realized his superior had stopped. When he glanced back, Olson's shocked expression froze Stevens mid-stride. His heart lurched and his right hand jerked reflexively toward his holstered .40 Cal. Glock 22. His eyes arced wildly as he scanned the immediate area for signs of danger. Stevens saw nothing to alarm him and started breathing again. He turned back to Olson.

"Jesus, Mark! You look like you just saw a ghost!"

Olson stood frozen in place with eyes wide staring and his mouth agape. He was very pale, as if every ounce of blood had suddenly fled his body. He said nothing and didn't acknowledge his partner's remarks or presence. In fact, Mark Olson thought he did see a ghost. He turned slowly; his body a rigid automaton, to gaze at the young black man who'd casually walked passed them after exiting the building. Olson's mind, his entire being, was torn between the reality he had not questioned for more than thirty-five years and the brief flicker of hope his logical mind knew was futile.

Stevens had tagged the man as the physical education teacher or a coach. He was tall, at least six feet, with a very muscular build and obviously physically fit. He had a medium brown complexion with uncharacteristically keen features for a black man. His hair was close cropped in a style that would blend in on any military base. Stevens, in the brief moment of eye contact, was struck by their near perfect match with the hue of his complexion and their intensity. He'd nodded a greeting to them and Stevens had returned the gesture. He glanced over Olson's shoulder at the retreating back of the black man then back to his partner.

"Is he someone you recognize, Mark? Is he on the list?" Stevens referred to the FBI's ten most wanted list. "Should we stop and question him?"

Olson still didn't answer.

Stevens walked back to place a hand on Olson's shoulder. "Mark, talk to me!" Srevens implored.

Olson shuddered; his arms hung straight down, ending in tightly clinched fists. He tried in vain to deny that which threatened his sanity, his hold on reality. He felt an irrational and all but overpowering sense of dread and impending danger. It took a monumental effort for him to refocus on his anxious partner. He stood mute and shook his head slowly from side to side. His eyes were still wide and disbelieving. He was bewildered and didn't speak until Stevens tightened his grip.

Olson blinked several times then shook his head again. "," he answered hesitantly, "he just...looked so much like someone I knew a long time ago...but, it's not couldn't be."

Olson's thoughts were as chaotic and jumbled as the words he spoke. It was him! But it couldn't be him! But it was... no. No! Oh God, have I lost my mind? Olson took a deep shuddering breath then grudgingly turned away and walked slowly up the remaining steps to the front entrance. Stevens, after a moment of indecision, followed a couple of steps behind. Olson's mind was still in raging turmoil when he grabbed the handle but didn't open the door. Instead he half turned and peered over his shoulder to stare again at the black man as he walked along the circular driveway. The man moved with a smooth and powerful athletic stride. He appeared to glide, more so, than walk. Stevens stopped and looked alternately at Olson and the teacher until he disappeared around the side of the building, presumably to the staff parking lot.

Olson released a pent up breath as he opened the door and both agents entered the building. Stevens was still concerned and cast occasional sidelong glances at Olson as they followed directional signs to the principal's office. He was becoming concerned about his boss and mentor. During the two years Stevens had worked out of the Birmingham Alabama, FBI Field Office, Olson had displayed an uncanny ability to maintain his composure in any given situation. He had been a member of the elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team for more than ten years and rose to command a unit. His reputation in the Bureau as a superior agent and dedicated supervisor was well deserved as far as Stevens was concerned. However, this case was proving to be an extremely unusual and difficult one. The social ramifications and intense political pressure resulted in Olson, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the FO, leading the field investigation while the DDO, the Deputy Director of Operations, second-guessed his every move from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The crime scene photographs of the case they were investigating had deeply impacted both agents. Olson had been particularly affected. His youngest child, born late in his life, was twelve years old; the same age as Treanna Lynn Johnson when she was kidnapped, raped, brutally beaten and murdered by someone, Stevens felt, was an animal in human disguise. Three days of chasing down leads had netted them exactly zero progress beyond the findings of the Fulton County Sheriff's homicide investigation. Olson had become more than a little disturbed after reading the coroner's report of the horrid details of the little black girl's last hours of life. His zoned-out act after mistaking the teacher for someone else was another in a growing list of bizarre occurrences surrounding the case. Both of them considered the visit to the victim's school a long shot.

Olson continued to walk in a stiff, mechanical manner and seemed barely conscious of his surroundings. He looked thoroughly spooked. Stevens thought his behavior was completely out of character and a little bit strange. He'd come to view Olson as larger than life and regarded him as more of a mentor and a friend than his superior. Stevens knew that Olson had chosen him to be his investigative partner on this case to give Stevens the kind of experience and exposure he needed to further his career in the bureau; Olson was like that.

At that moment Olson was far from his usual self. His thoughts were still chaotic and he found it impossible to concentrate on a rational line of thought. He was desperately fighting the urge to turn back, to run to the black man and confront him, to look once more into his eyes. The logical part of his mind recoiled from that course of action, madness lurked there. He clung desperately to a precarious hold on reality and fought a losing battle against the downward slide into a nightmare realm as his subconscious dredged up frightful memories.


He was two strides from cover when the bullet from an AK-47 Assault Rifle struck a sledgehammer blow to his left leg and knocked him off of his feet. The earth rose up to meet him and he slammed hard to the ground. Although stunned and breathless, he rolled against an anthill and reared up to fire a whole magazine, in one long burst, back along his trace. He was rewarded with a scream of mortal agony from one of his pursuers. He glanced down at his leg as he ejected the empty magazine. Blood gushed from an exit wound in his thigh. The bullet had missed the bone but a blood vessel had been severed. He grimaced in fear and outrage. The pain was just starting. His thoughts careened around his combat first aid training;

Have to stop the bleeding soon.

Immobilize the wound.

Beware of shock!

He methodically inserted a full magazine, slammed the bolt release and chambered a round. He waited for several anxious moments but no more enemy soldiers appeared. Olson used his M-16 as a crutch and struggled to his feet. He dragged the injured leg for several yards and found better cover behind a larger anthill. He clamped a hand on a pressure point to slow the bleeding then slumped back against the earthen mound with his eyes closed and teeth clenched against the mounting pain.

Olson knew that he couldn't stay there very long. If the North Vietnamese didn't find him, the ants, attracted by the blood, would eat him alive. Working quickly, he removed the scrap of parachute cloth he used for a sweat rag, tied it around the leg then used the hilt of his K-Bar combat knife to tighten the makeshift tourniquet. His head jerked up when a sound startled him. The muzzle of an AK-47 pushed through the elephant grass on the far side of the clearing not thirty feet away. The glaring, hate-filled face of an NVA soldier appeared behind the weapon.

Olson reached for his rifle but he knew in that instant that it was too late...

Olson shuddered violently and tried to banish the familiar but disturbing flashback. His mind reeled and careened from the wild, brain numbing shock of who he'd just seen on the front steps of the building to the soul wrenching memories that made that sighting impossible. He was pale and in a cold sweat. Olson felt like the halls were closing in on him but he made a supreme effort to regain his composure. He glanced furtively at his partner who seemed to be preoccupied with the hallway.

God, what a dump! Stevens thought, shaking his head in disgust. He had not lived in the deep south long enough to become jaded to the lower standard of living. His life and middle class upbringing was something he'd taken for granted and never questioned. Poverty was a realm of the inner city, a world far removed from the Village of Madeira, an affluent and mostly white upper middle class suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. The trip to the victim's foster home left him wondering how anyone managed to grow up normal under those conditions. The school building was no better. The walls appeared not to have seen a fresh coat of paint for a decade and most of the lockers looked as if battering rams were used, instead of the combinations, to fetch books.

They turned a corner and saw two black custodians engaged in an animated discussion. They fell silent as the agents approached. Stevens figured the Johnson murder was the topic of conversation, as it was in the entire South and much of the nation. Even America's Most Wanted had profiled the case. The custodians didn't return Stevens' greeting as they walked past; their hostility was palpable. Stevens opened the office door for Olson and glanced back down the hall. The two men stood staring sullenly at him.

Damian Alan Logan sat behind the wheel of his late model SUV pondering the implications of what had just transpired and marveling at the totally unpredictable nature of the currents of time and random occurrence. It was obvious that Olson recognized him. Logan could imagine Olson's current state of mind. Ha! Thought you saw a ghost, didn't you, Sandman. It brought a wry smile to his face. The chance encounter had surprised him too. He'd last seen Olson nearly forty years ago when they took part in an ill-fated reconnaissance mission across the DMZ into North Vietnam during the latter stages of direct U.S. involvement in the conflict. Their mission had been the gathering of intelligence on the buildup of Communist forces just north of the border. Logan sat for several minutes, his mind awash with memories of his time in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division's Force Reconnaissance platoon. His eidetic memory recalled, in vivid detail, all of the crazy times, the brotherhood, the bloodshed and death—the tragic ending.

Mark Olson, the Sandman, in Eddiesville, Alabama. He thought, laughed out loud and wondered what the odds were of the two of them crossing paths after so many years? It was an interesting development but it complicated things for Logan. He would not be able to operate as openly anymore. It was obvious that Olson and his companion were armed and members of some law enforcement agency, probably the FBI. There was little doubt they were involved in the investigation of Treanna's murder and the ADF's ultimatum. Hmmm...perhaps? He pondered, mulling over ways to bend this latest turn of events to his advantage.

Logan reached to what appeared to be a normal radio. He turned two knobs in sequence to precise positions and pushed a third. A panel in the dashboard slid open to reveal a complex electronic control board. He tapped a series of icons on the touch screen that activated the communications module and switched to the surveillance circuit attuned to a listening device he'd planted in the principal's office prior to her interview with a Deputy Sheriff. The speakers erupted with the sound of muted knocking on the principal's door.

"Yes, Mildred." The principal's voice came through loud and clear.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Adkins, I know you're really busy and asked not to be disturbed but there are two FBI agents here to see you..."

Logan leaned back in his seat listening intensely.

Stevens set the record mode on his mini-recorder and nodded for Principal Joyce Adkins to begin. After identifying themselves and explaining the reason for their visit, the agents gave her several moments to compose herself and collect her thoughts. They wanted her interview to be as detailed as possible. Olson, after the initial introductions, had sat stoically and stared out the office window while Stevens gave her brief instructions and readied the tape recorder. The office was small and sparsely furnished. Her desk, two large book cases, a corkboard with selected students, artwork and a couple of file cabinets were the entire contents. They were seated in front of her desk like two errant students waiting to be reigned in after their exuberance overflowed in the last few days of school before the summer vacation began. Olson had been a rambunctious child and had spent more than his share of time in principals' offices. Hers appeared completely interchangeable with the others. His somber gaze returned to the principal when she began to speak.

Adkins was a short, slender woman well into her fifties. She had sympathetic brown eyes. A large mane of auburn hair streaked with gray framed her age-lined face. She wore little makeup and her hands fluttered constantly, nervously, in concert with her words. "I'm not sure if I can add anything more than what I told the Deputy Sheriff." Adkins began. She was visibly struggling to hide her discomfort with the subject of the interview. "Treanna was a very bright student and a sweet young girl. She was so full of life, all of us were impressed by her enthusiasm, her abilities and potential. She really blossomed in the last couple of years. It was obvious that she would accomplish great things in her life." Adkins pressed a hand to quivering lips, closed her eyes and slowly shook her head. She was unable to hold her emotions completely in check. "How could someone do that to her, to any child? What kind of person could commit such an inhuman act?"

Neither agent had an answer for her. Olson offered his handkerchief but she politely declined and reached into her desk drawer for a tissue. The photographs from the crime scene flashed across his mind again. All three of them sat in perfect silence for a few moments, mourning the young victim. Olson watched the grieving woman. She seemed symbolic of all the survivors of the prematurely deceased, questioning the senselessness, the unfathomable-fate. He reluctantly broke the silence.

"Mrs. Adkins, your statement that the Alabama Young Rebels may be responsible for the abduction and murder of Treanna Johnson is our main concern. Of all the interviews conducted in the course of the Sheriff's homicide investigation, yours was the only one that contained a reference to the Young Rebels. As you probably know, the ultimatum from the African-American Defense Force, the ADF, named unidentified members of the Young Rebels as the perpetrators. That was several days after you mentioned them in your statement."

The principal regarded him solemnly. Her eyes still brimmed with tears but wariness began to creep in. "I...ah," she hesitated then fell silent. Adkins briefly considered confiding in them but she pulled back and took a more cautious track. "I don't know how much time you gentlemen have spent in the South; I was born and raised in Chicago. I followed my husband back here to his hometown after we graduated from teachers college and got married. That was over thirty years ago. In all these years I've not managed to understand how black people down here maintain any semblance of sanity. On a daily basis I see white people, some of them dirt poor and worse off than many African-Americans, display an attitude of superiority and thinly veiled hostility towards minorities that in my opinion borders on mental illness. It's gotten worse since the election."

Olson didn't comment but nodded to indicate he understood. Indeed, he was well aware of the pathological hatred some bigoted whites held toward black people and other minorities. Sixty percent of his caseload, since being banished to Birmingham, the southern Siberia of the FBI's management career ladder, consisted of investigating claims of ethnic intimidation and violence. The economic downturn in the eighth year of the new millennium resulted in a sharp increase in racially motivated murders, assaults and other hate crimes. With the waning terrorist wars being fought largely in the Middle East and Europe, a full third of the Bureau's resources were now dedicated to the investigation of violations of the Federal Civil Rights laws. When she resumed there was a definite edge to her voice.

"Mr. Olson," She continued,, "There isn't a single man or woman in this county, black or white, who has a reasonable doubt that the Young Rebels are behind this and numerous other racially motivated attacks in the weeks leading up to Treanna's death. The blacks are afraid to speak out and the whites are either too ashamed or have family ties to one or more of the Young Rebels." Adkins paused to calm herself. She regretted letting her anger and frustration show. When she spoke again her voice was more controlled.

"Most white people down here are decent folks, but there is something about race relations in the South that defy all logic. Black people have never been a threat to white control of local government or business interests but since the last presidential election some whites have a fear that is all out of proportion to the number of black people in our society." She fixed her stern gaze on each agent in turn. "Why? Why all the hatred, the hurting and the killing?"

Again, they had no answer for her. Stevens felt ashamed and found it difficult to meet her eyes as memories of his high school days came flooding back. A favorite past time of the group he ran with was getting tight on beer, driving through the black neighborhood of Madisonville and beaning pedestrians with the empties. The practice came to an abrupt end when an angry black motorist who'd witnessed a beaning, forced their car off the pavement into a drainage ditch along Camargo Road. Bobby Pritchard, his best friend, took most of the heat for that fiasco. His parent's car, nearly totaled, had to be towed to a repair shop. They never told the police or their parents the truth about the real cause of the accident. Bobby failed a sobriety test and lost his license for a year. He also had to attend a mandatory DUI class where he met his future wife. Neither of them ever touched a drop of alcohol after that. Stevens was god-father to their two sons. He absent-mindedly rubbed his nose that was still slightly crooked after being broken in the crash. Stevens didn't recall hating black people. He believed that the beanings was just some of the stupid shit immature kids did after downing one too many beers. But then he wondered why they never beaned any white pedestrians.

"Mrs. Adkins, since your interview with the deputy sheriff, have you seen or heard anything that would lead you to believe that someone you know may be involved in this case either prior to or after the murder." In afterthought he added, "Or of anyone making threats of revenge against the Young Rebels, prior to the ADF broadcast?"

The question from Olson brought Stevens back to the present and he became aware of a change in her posture. Adkins wasn't as animated now and she seemed much more guarded. He knew instantly that Olson had hit upon the right line of questioning.

"Well...ah..." she muttered; looking from one agent to the other, unsure whether or not she wanted to go on record with what she knew.

"Mrs. Adkins," Olson prodded, he was uncharacteristically impatient, "we really need your help. We're trying to keep the lid on a very tense situation down here. I don't have to tell you what will happen if the ADF makes good on their threat to take some vigilante action against one or more white men in this county. It would ignite widespread violence and a bloodbath between the races."

The newspapers lately had been full of stories of Klansmen, Skinheads and other self-styled protectors of white supremacy, converging on Fulton County in defiance of the ultimatum from the ADF. Adkins stared hard at Olson for a long moment before nodding in agreement. When she spoke, her voice was profoundly sad. "Treanna was more than just a good student, she was a Light Bright."

No further explanation was necessary. The term, a part of the slang in the African-American community for generations was a derogatory name for light-skinned Negroes who displayed an attitude of superiority. It became a part of the national dialogue early in the new millennium and now referred to students of mixed race who excelled academically. The number of Light Bright students crowding the top ranks of National Merit Scholars had become a subject of intense debate and study among the elite of the nation's education establishment.

"She was Mr. Logan's top—"

"What! Who...di...did you say Logan?" Olson had nearly screamed the question. He felt electrifying jolts of raw emotion cascade across his mind. His face was flushed and he had that wide-eyed look again. Olson was so pale, freckles that Stevens had never noticed before, were plainly visible. He was perched on the edge of his seat, his right arm extended-rigid, in a white knuckled grip on the edge of Adkins' desk. Olson's violent reaction had startled her and surprised Stevens. He feared Olson was on the verge of a heart attack. When Stevens lightly touched his boss's arm, Olson sheepishly sat back onto his chair. He became embarrassed when he realized he'd frightened her. Olson struggled to regain his composure but he was deeply shaken. He'd almost rationalized away the striking resemblance but now he was confronted with something even more disturbing. The same last name! Is it coincidence? What were the odds...but how else to explain it? When Olson spoke, it was through lips drawn tight, with barely suppressed intensity. "Mrs. Adkins, are you referring to Damian Alan..Logan?"

"Noooo," she began hesitantly and glanced at Stevens for a clue to where Olson was going with his line of questioning. Stevens was staring at Olson, unsure of what if anything he should say or do."

"I meant David Logan, our math and science teacher." Adkins answered. She was becoming leery of the direction the interview was taking. "He founded our Twenty First Century Club for gifted students. We placed three students in the top ten percent of National Merit Scholars this year," She stated proudly and then added, "Treanna was our top performing student."

Olson settled back and took slow deep breaths to force himself to relax but he remained transfixed on every word she spoke. "Mr. Logan has no family of his own, which is rather strange considering how handsome handsome he is." She blushed. "I guess the Century Club became his family. He donates a large portion of his personal income to pay for their projects and extracurricular activities that the County won't fund."

"Why the county?" Asked Stevens.

"All but two of the club members are wards of the Fulton County Department of Social Services. Some, like Treanna, live with foster parents. If their per pupil special activity budget did not accommodate a trip to...oh, let's say the National Conference of Junior Mathematicians, Mr. Logan would foot the bill for the club members. He invests an enormous amount of his personal time and effort as well as his own money into these kids and now he may be leaving." She paused to dab a tear before it fell. The hum of the air conditioner was the only sound in the room. The two agents, preferring to let her proceed at her own pace now that she was talking, didn't press her. After many years of conducting interviews Olson found that material witnesses often recalled more details and were more forthcoming with information when allowed to proceed at their own pace without pressure from investigators. Their patience was rewarded.

"Three days ago, he sat in that very same chair with tears streaming down his face." She indicated the seat Stevens occupied. "He had a special relationship, a bond, with Treanna and the rest of his students. He's that kind of teacher, really one in a million. Any staff member will confirm that. Treanna was like a daughter to him. In fact, she sort of adopted him. She said on many occasions that when Mr. Logan got married he would adopt her and she would have a bedroom all her own, with pink curtains and a hundred stuffed animals, just like in the movies." Adkins grabbed another tissue to stem the tide of tears she could no longer hold back. Stevens glanced over at Olson who seemed to be somewhere off in his own world and unaffected by her tears.

"He was very distraught over her...her death," Adkins continued, her voice quaking, "as were we all. I didn't know how to console him. I've never lost a student this way myself. Then, a strange thing happened. One second he was sobbing like a child and then he looked up at me and said: "They won't get away with it. That, I promise you. Nothing on earth will save them." It wasn't what he said but..." Again she hesitated, unsure of how to describe what she had seen, but she was determined. "His face changed!" Adkins blurted out and thought; Now, I've said it. Let them make of it what they will.

The quiet that reigned after her last statement was different. The air seemed charged with tension and a chill beyond the air conditioning pervaded the room. Olson didn't comment. He seemed subdued and inclined to let her continue without his coaxing. Stevens was curious and wanted the taped record of the interview to be as complete as possible. "Changed how, Mrs. Adkins?" He asked gently.

She looked towards him but seemed to be focused on something far beyond. "Well, one second we were both crying and the next he looked up at me and his face had changed. It's hard describe. He was still David Logan, but he was different...somehow his face had become leaner...harder...and his eyes...his eyes actually turned darker and so cold!" She struggled to compose herself then looked at each agent in turn. "You've seen those National Geographic close-ups of eagles and hawks. His eyes were like that, like he was searching for prey, totally devoid of emotion or mercy. It was eerie and very frightening." A shiver ran through her body with the memory.

A more profound silence descended on room for several moments while they considered her last statement. Adkins noticed the brief glance and looks of skepticism that passed between the two agents but she was beyond caring. She took a deep breath and resumed her narrative. "I became concerned at that point and cautioned him to let the Sheriff handle it and not do anything rash. He answered: "Rash? No, I won't do anything rash, just what should have been done thirty years ago. If I'd done something about them then, Treanna would still be alive today." Then he said goodbye and abruptly walked out. I didn't realize how strange that statement was until later that evening as I was driving home. How could he have done anything thirty years ago to change what happened? I checked his personnel file the next day to confirm what I already knew. He's only twenty-seven years old. He had not been born yet thirty years ago."

With that, Adkins crossed her arms and sat back in her chair. Olson sat quietly struggling with the impossible conclusions forming in his mind. Stevens frowned; he was trying to decide how much creditability to give to her story when she spoke again.

"That's all I can tell you that I didn't tell the Sheriff." She waited for the agents to question her further but her body language left little doubt that the interview was over.

Olson paused at the door as they were leaving. "One last thing Mrs. Adkins, do you have a photograph of Mr. Logan?"

They returned to the temporary field office in the county administration building and spent the rest of the afternoon discussing the Adkins interview and reviewing other evidence. Olson was moody and withdrawn during the twenty-minute drive to the I-65 interchange and the Ramada Inn. He continued to stare at the teacher's photograph. Dinner turned into a strategy session and Olson gave Stevens last minute instructions before retiring to his room. Olson didn't bother hanging up his cloths. He tossed them into a pile on the chair then fell onto the bed emotionally and physically drained. He stared at the ceiling a long time before drifting off into a restless, tortured sleep.

...Olson ran for his life! He could hear the NVA closing in from the left flank. He angled to the right and slowed his pace to minimize the noise he made. Sweat stung his eyes and he blinked several times to clear his vision. He pushed into a thicker clump of elephant grass and stopped to listen. The enemy soldiers had not been fooled by his maneuver.

"Fuck, I'm in deep shit now!" He muttered and wondered about the other members of the recon team. Not that he was in any position to help any of them. His objective now was to reach the secondary rally point for extraction.

"That fucking dip-shit asshole!" He cursed the new Lieutenant. Logan had tried to warn him that the NVA squad they observed crossing a valley towards their position was probably the point element for a larger unit but he wouldn't listen. It was the Lieutenant's third patrol without enemy contact and he was eager for some action. He ordered a hasty ambush and they cut the five soldiers down without a single round of return gunfire. They were searching the bodies for documents when a burst of AK-47 fire shattered the silence. No one was hit and they quickly laid down suppressing fire then withdrew on the run. An orderly retreat turned into a rout when a large enemy unit joined the pursuit and started dropping mortar rounds on top of them. When enemy flankers cut off their escape route, the Lieutenant panicked and ordered them to scatter and rendezvous at the secondary rally point. A wild melee ensued as the Marines fought their way out of the trap as individuals.

"Dumb-ass, cherry!" Olson cursed the Lieutenant again and pushed through the thick, chest high grass. He reached the edge of a natural clearing. Several large anthills dotted the landscape before the grass continued thirty yards beyond. He scanned the surrounding terrain and then dashed toward the nearest anthill.


He was two strides from cover when the bullet from an AK-47 Assault Rifle struck a sledgehammer blow to his left leg and knocked him off of his feet. The earth rose up to meet him and he slammed hard to the ground. Although stunned and breathless, he rolled against an anthilland reared up to fire a whole magazine in one long burst, back along his trace. He was rewarded with a scream of mortal agony from one of his pursuers. He glanced down at his leg as he ejected the empty magazine. Blood gushed from an exit wound in his thigh. The bullet had missed the bone but a blood vessel had been severed. He grimaced in fear and outrage. The pain was just starting. His thoughts careened around his combat first aide training...

Have to stop the bleeding soon...

Immobilize the wound...

Beware of shock!

He methodically inserted a full magazine, slammed the bolt release and chambered a round. He waited for several anxious moments but no more enemy soldiers appeared. Olson used his M-16 as a crutch and struggled to his feet. He dragged the injured leg for several yards and found better cover behind a larger anthill. He clamped a hand on a pressure point to stop the bleeding and slumped back against the earthen mound with his eyes closed and teeth clenched from the mounting pain.

He knew that he couldn't stay there very long. If the North Vietnamese didn't find him, the ants, tracted by the blood, ould eat him alive. Working quickly, he removed the scrap of parachute cloth he used as a sweat rag, tied it around the leg then used the hilt of his K-Bar to tighten the makeshift tourniquet.

His head jerked up when a sound startled him. The muzzle of an AK-47 pushed through the grass on the far side of the clearing, thirty feet away. The glaring, hate-illed face of an NVA soldier emerged behind the eapon.

Olson reached for his rifle but he knew in an instant it was too ate...



A bullet struck the NVA soldier in the throat and knocked him violently aside. A wild shot from the dying man's weapon thumped into the anthill, missing Olson by inches. After he got over the surprise of still being alive he looked around, searching the grass. The wall of green parted and an apparition in camouflage face paint glided towards him.

"Logan!" Olson breathed a sigh of relief.

"Hell of a time to take five, Sandman!" Logan responded as he crouched down beside his wounded comrade.

"There's more coming behind me!" Olson blurted.

Logan shook his head. "They won't be bothering us."

Olson noticed the blood on Logan's hands and jungle utility shirt. Logan quickly checked the tourniquet then hurriedly bandaged the wound and gave Olson a shot of morphine.

"Let's go dude, break time is over." Logan joked as he hauled Olson up to a shaky one-legged stance.

They angled away from the sound of heavy gunfire. Their pace was slow with Logan half-supporting Olson. Several times Logan left him concealed in the tall grass and decoyed enemy soldiers away from their route. It seemed an eternity to Olson's drug fogged mind before they finally reached the rally point.

Cpl. Andrew Reinhart, the team RTO was the only one to make it before them. Reinhart lowered his rifle and took a deep breath after he determined they were Marines.

"Shadow! Sandman! Man, am I glad to see you guys! I thought I was the only one left." He beamed. The huge grin was in stark contrast to his fierce grease painted face. "I waited as long as I thought I could before making the call. The evac bird is inbound." Reinhart finished as he relieved Logan of his burden and lowered Olson to the ground.

"No one else made it?" Logan asked.

"Nah, I think they're all wasted or lost in the bush."

"What happened to the Lieutenant, I thought he would stick with the radio?" Logan asked.

"That shitbird wanted to call in an air strike without knowing everybody's positions. He was scared out of his mind and tried to lead me in the wrong direction so I left his sorry ass!" Reinhart's face was grim. His arm was bandaged just below the elbow.

"You hit bad?"

Reinhart peered up at Logan. "Just a flesh wound but it's my third Purple Heart. I'm going home early, man!" Reinhart was a short-timer, with less than fifty days left on his tour. Logan placed a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm happy for you, Hawk." And he was. Next to Olson, Reinhart had become his closest friend. "But first we have to catch that chopper."

They tended to Olson and set up a hasty defensive position in an old bomb crater from some long forgotten battle. They jumped when distant gunfire resumed. First the distinct crack of M-16's followed by the throatier bark of multiple AK-47s. Tension began to mount while they listened to the occasional bursts of automatic rifle fire draw closer. It sounded like other members of the patrol were still alive and fighting to reach the rally point.

"Come on guys, you can make it!" Reinhart whispered encouragement as they checked their weapons then readied magazines and grenades. The thirty minutes felt like hours. They waited in vain for the other members of the patrol. They talked in whispers about what they missed the most and the first thing they would do when they got back to the States. In spite of their desperate situation Logan had to laugh at their argument over which hamburger, the Frisch's Big Boy or the upstart Burger Chef, was the best.

Logan heard the approaching helicopter. "Hear it comes, saddle up!" He barked.

Reinhart got on the radio to give landing instructions to the pilot.


The single shot sent them scrambling for cover. Then all hell broke loose.


Suddenly they were receiving fire from several AKs. Logan and Olson returned fire furiously while Reinhart screamed into the radio handset.


Mortar rounds exploded forty yards away. The concussion picked them up and slammed them to the ground with stunning force. Logan was the first to recover; he rose up and fired his M-14 on full automatic. The heavy 7.62 mm rounds cut down two NVA soldiers using the mortar barrage as a diversion to assault their position. He flopped down to reload and Olson opened up with his M-16 killing another as more NVA pressed their attack. Logan watched Reinhart crawl several yards and throw a smoke grenade into the clearing behind them. Then he emptied another magazine into the enemy skirmishers. When he looked back again he saw the Huey's nose rise to kill its forward momentum and start its descent.

"Reload!" Olson yelled and ducked down.

Logan popped up and continued firing at the enemy. Several bodies littered the approaches to their position but the NVA soldiers kept coming, determined to exact the highest price from the Yankee Imperialists who dared to enter their country. The incoming rifle fire was overwhelming now. Reinhart low crawled back into the crater, impacting bullets kicked up dirt around him as he joined them on the firing line and emptied a magazine in three quick bursts.


More mortar rounds landed closer to their position. A hot shard of bomb casting lanced the flesh of Reinhart's shoulder and the explosions forced them to cower lower into the shell hole. The concussion hammered their eardrums and took their breaths away. Debris from the explosions rained down on them.

"We've got to hat-up now, Sarge!" Reinhart screamed. Blood seeped between his fingers from his new wound.

Logan's ears were ringing and he could barely hear Reinhart but his body language was clear. He crabbed closer and yelled into Reinhart's ear. "You help Olson to the chopper, I'll lay down cover fire!"

Reinhart stared at Logan and started to protest but realized there was no other way. He crawled over to Olson and told him the plan. Olson looked over to gaze into his friend's eyes and nodded grimly while something passed between them, something indefinable; something that only men standing in the shadow of death can begin to comprehend.

On the count of three they all fired a full magazine in one sustained volley. Five more NVA regulars were knocked to the ground and the rest were forced to find cover from the deadly fusillade.

"Go! Go!" Logan screamed then starting lobbing the last four grenades in quick succession.

Reinhart helped Olson struggle to his feet and they stumbled off in a clumsy three-legged run for the helicopter while Logan continued to fire on the NVA. Now the door gunner had the situation sorted out and directed a devastating stream of hot lead at the enemy skirmish line with his M-60 machine gun.

"Come on, hurry the fuck up, goddamnit!" The crew chief urged as they neared the helicopter. He grabbed Olson after Reinhart heaved him up through the hatch and quickly followed.

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Pzing.

A swarm of AK-47 rounds rocked the Huey after the NVA shifted their fire to the bigger prize. The door gunner screamed and fell back, his black face glistening with sweat and grimacing in agony from a bullet shattered right arm. Reinhart jumped up to man the machine gun and sent more deadly 7.62mm rounds into the enemy soldiers.

Olson heard the crew chief yell again and levered himself up on one arm to peer through the hatch. He spotted Logan, who'd abandoned his rifle, pack and web gear, sprinting towards the helicopter. Tracer rounds from the M-60 passed mere inches over his head while the ground around him erupted from the impact of gunfire from the NVA.


Logan disappeared in the blasts of exploding mortar rounds. Olson instinctively ducked to escape the hot metal shards; concussion waves rocked the Huey. When he looked back, smoke and dust from the explosions had billowed out to completely obscure the impact area.

"Logaaaan! Noooo! Logaaaan!" Olson howled over the engine noise and gunfire.

The crew chief, his hands slick with the blood of his door-gunner grabbed Reinhart before he could jump out and screamed for the pilot to take off. He was frantic. The bullet strikes sounded like popcorn as the helicopter took an increasing amount of fire. It was only a matter of time before a round found the pilot or some vital part of the chopper and doomed them all.

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thump! Thwack!

More incoming rounds, fired blindly through the smoke and dust, ripped into the Huey as it climbed. The crew chief convulsed when a bullet drilled through his flak jacket, splintered two ribs and ripped into his right lung. All breath left his body but he hung on to a frantic, sobbing Reinhart.

"Nooo! No, goddamnit, no!" Olson shrieked and lunged for the slumping crew chief. "We can't leave him you motherfucker! We can't lea—"

Olson woke up screaming. The sheet he'd twisted in a death grip was damp with sweat. For a terror filled moment he feared the chopper would be shot down and plunge him to his death. Then he realized when and where he was; the guilt came flooding back. The shame of having survived returned as strong as three and a half decades before. His heart and psyche had been ripped apart by the guilt and self-reproach from leaving behind a fellow Marinethis friend. But the base instinct for survival could not be denied. He fumbled for the lamp switch and turned away when the light lashed his retina. He was still groggy when he picked up the photograph of the teacher and stared through squinted, tear filled eyes.

Stevens became even more concerned about his superior the next morning. Olson had toyed with his breakfast and ate very little. He looked as if he hadn't slept at all. His eyes were bloodshot, hollow and distant. Every five or ten minutes he'd pull the teacher's photograph from his pocket. He handled it like a fragile, ancient parchment. Stevens didn't understand what was bothering Olson and was at a loss for words that might help. He tried to ignore his boss's strange behavior while reporting what he'd learned.

Information gleaned from the interview with Mrs. Adkins added a new wrinkle to the investigation. David Logan was now a person of interest. The teacher was, in his opinion, on top of the list of possible leads to the ADF. Stevenson recalled the man's physique, the way he moved. Definitely someone who could make good on a threat of violence, he thought. As instructed, Stevens had spent the rest of the evening on the phone with the Birmingham FO organizing an investigation of David Logan. The initial results generated more questions than answers. The preliminary background check had turned up very little. He had no criminal record but his academic history and credentials proved to be fakes. He seemed not to have existed prior to accepting the teaching job with the Fulton County Board of Education.

"What do you make of that?" Stevens asked.

Olson gave him a blank stare. What am I supposed to think? I don't want to think! His mind raced but he said nothing.

They were on their way back to the middle school with hopes of interviewing the mysterious Mr. Logan. Olson trudged heavily to the car, entered on the passenger side and sat staring through the windshield after clicking his seatbelt into place. Stevens got behind the wheel but he didn't start the engine.

"Okay, boss man! Now that I'm sufficiently worried, do you want to tell me what's got you so rattled?"

Several tense seconds passed before Olson responded. "I...I don't know where to begin." His voice sounded vacuous and uncertain.

Stevens was not sure if he wanted to hear it or not; an unwelcomed feeling of foreboding crept over him. He looked at Olson, hunched his shoulders and smiled encouragement as he started the engine. "The beginning is a good place to start."

"Yeah," Olson said, "The beginning is always best, I suppose." He paused to collect his thoughts. "I first met Logan in Vietnam, in 1971."

...Corporal Mark Olson turned his body and pulled his bush hat down over his eyes as sand, driven by the prop wash from a Huey helicopter, peppered his bare back and arms. He was a one-man detail sent to meet the weekly mail run and escort a replacement back to the recon platoon's compound. He slowly turned as the mini sandstorm subsided when the chopper lifted off and gained altitude. The 'cherry' knelt on the edge of the helipad with his head down to protect hiseyes. The satchel containing the Platoon's mail lay on the ground alongside his WP, waterproof, bag of personal belongings. When he stood up to adjust his utility cover he spotted Olson approaching.

Mark saw a powerfully built African-American around six feet tall. His skin was light brown with facial features that were not as full as the average Negro. His eyes had a slight oriental cast. Olson thought the ladies would consider him ruggedly handsome. When their eyes met Olson was struck by their intensity and near perfect match with his complexion.

The replacement picked up both bags and walked to meet him. Olson noticed that he seemed to glide rather than walk. He wore sergeant's chevrons on his collars.

"Welcome aboard, Sarge. I'm Cpl. Mark Olson, acting first squad leader. I'm here to escort you to our platoon area. I'll take the mail."

The black Marine handed him the bag. "Logan, Damian, A," He responded.

Their handshake was firm and in those brief moments the beginnings of a bond of friendship formed between them. Olson shouldered the mailbag and led off toward the compound gate. Logan slung an M-14 rifle over a shoulder then picked up his WP-bag and followed. Olson was surprised that the replacement had chosen an M-14 as his personal weapon. Although the M-14 had superior man stopping power by virtue of its larger 7.62mm bullet, nearly all recon marines favored the 5.56mm M-16 for its lighter weight which translated into greater mobility in the bush.

As they walked, Olson pointed out significant features of the Special Forces compound that was set apart from the other billeting areas inside Quang Tri Combat base in the I-Corps of South Vietnam. They approached two Marines returning from a beer run. Olson exchanged greetings with them.

"Hey, Sandman," a Marine named Reynolds bellowed after they'd passed. "Who's your shadow?"

Olson frowned and ignored the question. He glanced at the new sergeant who displayed a wry smile. Olson left Logan at the platoon leader's hooch and headed toward the mess tent to sort the mail. The two men they'd passed, Reinhart his teammate and Reynolds, a Marine from second squad, were sitting at one of the tables, gulping beer. Reinhart tossed Olson a can when he joined them. He sipped the cold brew while he briefed them on the new guy.

"Fuck! Just what we need right now, a cherry sergeant to break in with a new lieutenant on board." Reinhart complained.

"And a nigger to boot," added Reynolds, a massively built red headed native of Austin, Texas, who disliked blacks, "I'm glad he's not bunking with us, no fucking way, man." He drained the last of a beer and crushed the can like a paper cup.

Olson and Reinhart fell silent when his comments turn blatantly racist. The three of them made short work of the mail sorting detail while Reynolds ran through his collection of nigger jokes. Afterwards, Olson got up to distribute the mail. He took two steps then stopped and looked back at Reynolds.

"I don't think he's a cherry. There is something about him that's strange and...I...I'm not sure. One thing I do know, Reynolds, you'd better be careful around him. He's different."

Reynolds laughed. "Olson, all niggers are different and they're strange. Don't you know that by now? And I'm gonna have some fun with that boy too."

Olson walked away shaking his head...

A burst of static from the radio transceiver interrupted Mark's narrative. He reached for the device. "Olson here, go."

<"Pratt here, Sir.>"

Special Agent James Pratt was the junior member of the FBI contingent. He was a recent graduate of the FBI Academy and newly assigned to the Birmingham office. He was acting as the liaison with the local authorities and was their staff support.

"I was just notified that a male white assault victim was dumped at the County General emergency room last night. He was in shock and barely able to speak coherently. He required extensive medical treatment overnight. The doctors took three hundred stitches to close multiple knife wounds. He has several broken bones and head injuries, including a severe concussion. When a deputy sheriff interviewed him this morning he identified himself as John Gates, a member of the Young Rebels. He claims he was held captive and tortured into revealing the names of all members of the local chapter including the names of three men whom he suspects were involved in the Johnson murder. Over">

Olson had jerked upright and remained as taut as a bow string while Pratt recited the laundry list of injuries. Stevens glanced over at him for a second then back to the road ahead as Olson continued the conversation.

"Jimmy, are the broken bones the index, little finger and thumb of the right hand?" Olson asked in a strained voice, "And the right knee?"

<"Yes sir, including his right knee. How did you know? Over">

Olson thought about it for a second then shook his head. "I'll fill you in later. We're on our way to see the patient."

Olson returned the transceiver to its cradle then sat back in the seat with his eyes closed and his head pressed against the headrest. He took several deep breaths before he opened the street guide. Stevens stole glances at Olson as he studied the map to find a route to the hospital.

"How did you know?" Stevens asked softly.

Olson stalled by continuing his scrutiny of the map and didn't answer right away. Stevens was about to repeat the question when Olson looked up.

"It's what I did to a Viet Cong insurgent, a Vietnam. He's sending me a message, Brad. He recognized me yesterday and he knows that I recognized him," Olson was silent for a long moment than said, "Turn left at the next light. I don't want to say anymore until we talk to our fine Young Rebel. I need to hear it from him."

The smell of a strong antiseptic, body fluids, sickness and death combined to produce the peculiar hospital odor that never failed to make Stevens' stomach churn. He flashed his ID at the young Deputy Sheriff stationed outside of the patient's room.

"Yes sir, I was told to expect you'all. He's awake now. One of his doctors just left. His name is John J. Gates and he's one freaked outindividual." The deputy glanced suspiciously at Olson who barely acknowledged him and hardly broke stride as he approached the door and entered.

"Thank you, Deputy." Stevens said and followed Olson into the room.

Gates was incased in a body cast and multiple bandages. The body surfaces that were not covered were bruised and discolored. Another cast covered his right leg from ankle to mid-thigh. It was held suspended by a rather complicated metal-framed contraption. His face was bruised and swollen. His lower lip was twice its normal size; the split had required eleven stitches. He watched them enter with weary, frightened eyes. Olson stopped at the foot of the bed while Stevens positioned himself to conduct the interview. He presented his ID.

"Mr. Gates, I'm Special Agent Stevens with the FBI. He's Special Agent in Charge, Mark Olson." Gates blinked several times trying to focus on Stevens' ID. "We're here to talk to you about the assault. How many assailants were involved? Can you describe any of them and tell us what happened?"

"There wa.." Gates voice was weak and raspy, barely a whisper, "Water." He croaked.

Stevens helped him sip a little ice water through a straw. After gingerly licking his abused lips he tried again.

"There was only one," Gates said. "He...he was waiting for me, broke into my house, attacked me when I walked in."

...John Gates fumbled in the dark and finally managed to unlock his front door. He flicked the light switch and tossed his keys onto a small wall shelf. He'd taken a couple of steps toward the bathroom before he noticed the black man seated in a chair near the far corner of the living room—Gates froze.

The shock was total and then their eyes locked. The stranger's eyes held Gates until his surprise gave way to outrage. "What the fuck are you doing in my house?" Gates roared and advanced into the room, his hands balled into enormous fists, his rage building. Gates was a big an, six-five, two hundred and forty pounds. He was a body builder, had pumped iron for years, and was a local high school football legend. He had become a bitter man and more of a bigot after he failed to make the roster of three pro football teams after a not so stellar college ball career. He had convinced himself that the number of black players in the NFL was the real reason he had never made the cut. He believed the owners and head coaches opted for brute strength rather than intelligence in a player.

"Sit down, Gates, and shut up." The black man said calmly and barely moved a muscle.

Something in the way he spoke stopped Gates dead in his tracks but the way the man just sat there, in Gates' favorite chair, as if he owned the damned place, was too much. Gates' rage spilled over and he lowered his shoulders and charged, not thinking, just wanting to hurt the insolent black bastard. Gates was almost within arm's reach, his huge hands just inches from closing around the man's throat...then...suddenly he wasn't sitting in the chair anymore and Gates felt searing jolts of fire from an explosion of pain in his right hand. The black man had moved with incredible swiftness and perfect timing to intercept Gates' right hand and viciously break his thumb.

"Aggggg," Gates screamed!

The black man remained a blur of motion and before Gates could sort things out he sent a pile-driving sidekick into Gates' right knee that shattered the joint. Gates' second scream was seven octaves higher than the first. The leg buckled and as he collapsed his face slammed into the solid oak arm of his chair. He saw a blinding flash and a wave of pain washed him to the brink of unconsciousness. Then he felt hands lift and toss him roughly into the chair. When he opened his eyes, the black man was sitting on the edge of the coffee table as calm as before.

"Now, can we talk?' He asked, almost politely. "I have it on good authority that you are very active in the Young Rebels. Is that correct?"

Gates found it hard to think around the pain. His eyes darted around the room in desperation, seeking a weapon of some kind. The .38 Cal. S&W revolver he kept in his night stand might as well have been on the moon. Gates was no stranger to physical violence and he'd suffered broken bones before, but this was different. As Gates came to accept the vulnerability of his position a knot of cold, naked fear began to grow in the pit of his stomach. But hatred, more so than the fear and pain, stilled his tongue. The black man continued to act as if he was inquiring about the weather. He seemed not in the least bit excited or angry; he wasn't even breathing hard. His absolute calm was almost as menacing as his demonstrated capacity for inflicting bodily damage and causing pain.

"I understand that you are the membership chairman of your little social club and that you might have reliable information about the people responsible for the murder of Treanna Johnson." He said it in the same casual tone but the words chilled Gates to the bone.

Gates tried to squirm deeper into the chair, to distance himself from his inquisitor. His injured right hand was pressed against his chest; the left clasped his ruined right knee. He was hurting and more pain seemed a certainty but he was dammed if he was going to tell the intruder anything. The black man read the message of resistance in Gates' eyes. He was on Gates in the blink of an eye. Before Gates could react or defend himself, the black man captured his right hand and broke the index finger. Gates screamed and swung at his assailant with his left hand. The black man easily slapped the punch aside. When Gates tried to pull his right hand back he felt the baby finger pop and shoot lances of new, more intense pain up through his arm to reverberate inside his brain. He fought through the mind numbing agony and tried again to defend himself. He reached for the black man's throat. This time, after intercepting Gates' left hand, the black man bent the wrist back until the joint ruptured. The rolling wave of intense agony from three traumatized limbs was too much; Gates blacked out.

He regained consciousness, sputtering. The shock of cold water quickly gave way to wave after wave of mind searing, throbbing pain from his injuries. After Gates' vision cleared the black man was again calmly seated on the table, an empty glass in his hand.

"I really want to know the names of the men who killed Treanna Johnson." His voice was still calm but now a little more demanding. The fear became a living thing in Gates' chest that threatened to take his breath away. At some point he'd lost control of his bladder and pissed his pants. The rancid odor of beer piss permeated the room. Shame stoked his anger but still it took him what seemed an eternity and all the courage he could muster to respond.

"Fuck you, nigger!"

A fist ballooned in Gates' vision, crashed into his mouth and brought back the darkness for...he didn't know how long...more cold water!

After he regained his senses, Gates tasted blood from a severely split lip and several front teeth felt like they had been knocked loose. After he could focus, his eyes riveted on the knife. No! It was a short sword the black man casually held.

"Where do you keep the list of members?" He asked with the same maddening calmness.

When Gates didn't answer, the man's arm blurred and the blade slashed deeply across Gate's chest and left biceps before he could move. The blade had sliced effortlessly through thick chest muscle and severed his sternum. The massive wounds tingled, burned and then blossomed into the most exquisite pain Gates had ever experienced. He screamed in abject terror. Blood quickly pooled in his lap. The smell, taste and sight of his own blood and ripped flesh brought on a whole new level of fear. When Gates opened his mouth to tell the black son-of-a-bitch where to go, the information the stranger demanded spilled from Gates' mouth at its own volition. Gates could not help himself. He told the black devil about the membership rolls concealed in a gun chest in his basement. He told him about the rumors of a rape club that preyed on black women. He told him the names of those he suspected of being involved. He didn't stop talking for many minutes and continued to babble frantically when he ran out of pertinent information...

Olson had listened stoically to Gates' story. He stood next to Stevens now and held the photograph of David Logan inches from Gates' face. "Is this the man who assaulted you, Mr. Gates?"

"That's him! That's the bastard who cut me." Gates wailed and choked on his own rage. The agents waited until he composed himself.

"There was a message for me. What is it?" Asked Olson.

"After he..." Gates nearly choked again, "after I told him what I knew about the girl, the rumors about Billy Carter, the Lt. Governor's son, and his buddies, he told me to ask to talk to the FBI and that an agent named Olson would come to see me. He said that after I told him what I knew about the murder, to tell him...tell you, that it's like... Cua Viet, the Shadow and the Sandman."

Olson's face turned stark white and he took an involuntary step away from the bed. He was totally speechless. His mind had nearly shut down while he struggled to draw a breath. He wanted desperately to flee from the room but his body refused to cooperate.

"Is that all, nothing else?" Stevens asked. He wore a perplexed frown as he looked from one man to the other. Gates didn't respond. His eyes were closed but hot, silent tears rolled down both sides of his battered and bruised face. He seemed to have run out of energy now that he had relayed the message. Olson recovered momentarily and at his urgent signal they turned to leave after thanking Gates for his cooperation.

"You'll have to shoot him." Gates spoke softly to their backs.

Stevens stopped and returned to Gates' bedside, "What did you say, Mr. Gates?"

Olson appeared not to have heard him but he stopped at the door when Stevens turned back.

Gates swallowed and looked directly at Stevens, "You'll have to shoot him to stop him. He won't go down easy. I ain't never saw a man move that fast. He's ice cold and he's a killer. I saw it in his eyes, he's killed before. He said he'd come back and finish the job...kill me, if I didn't deliver the message." Gates' face clouded with emotion, his lips quivered. "He let me live just so I could deliver the message to Mr. Olson," Gates fell silent for a few seconds then asked, "Who is he?"

Stevens gave the injured man a quizzical look. "That, Mr. Gates, is a good question."

Stevens was becoming annoyed at his superior's zombie routine. Olson was so preoccupied with his own thoughts that he paid little attention to the world around him. He bumped into two people in the halls after leaving Gates' room. His thoughts were tumbling and confused. He'd almost convinced himself that the man he'd seen was just someone who bore a striking resemblance to Logan. Having a last name in common could be a coincidence. But how could he possibly know about something that happened in a previous century on the other side of the world? When they came abreast of a nearly empty cafeteria, Stevens steered Olson to a table in the far corner. He walked to the serving line and returned with two large cups of black coffee.

"Okay, let's hear it boss, talk to me! What's all this about? What is this Cua Viet business? How did you know there would be a message for you? Who is this guy, this Logan?

Olson gazed at Stevens for long moments. Brad returned the stare with one of determination. He was ready to do battle in a contest of wills but Olson relented. He sighed deeply and reached up to massage stiff neck muscles. When he spoke his voice was subdued.

"Cua Viet is a village northeast of Quang Tri, South Vietnam. In 1971 it was pacified, had been for years. There was a CAP, a Civil Aid Program, supported elementary school where I and several other Marines from our platoon helped out in our down time between missions. It was written up in the Stars and Stripes as one of the success stories of the program. I guess that's why the Viet Cong targeted it.

"Early one morning a VC political action unit infiltrated the village and shot up the school, they killed four teachers and kidnapped another. Their timing was well thought out and planned. A group of us arrived later that same morning to work on an expansion of the school. The school building had burned down and the mutilated bodies of the murdered teachers were left on the ground. The VC had ordered the villagers to leave the bodies for the Marines. That was the scene that greeted us that morning." Olson paused for a few seconds. His face was carved in stone, yet it revealed an eternal sadness.

"The missing teacher, Nuyan...she...I loved her...I wanted to marry her. I had not hated the enemy until that day. What they did changed my life forever. One of the villagers, a kid we'd befriended, approached us with information about one of the local men who took part in the attack on the village and the possible location of their camp in the hills nearby. I started after them, against orders. Logan sent the rest of the work detail back to Quang Tri and came after me. He tried to talk me out of it but soon realized that he'd have to resort to violence to stop me. Instead, Logan joined me and we tracked them to their camp. We ambushed and killed all but one of them as they were preparing a meal. The political cadre was only slightly wounded. We captured and started to question him about why they had targeted the school and what they'd done with Nuyan. We didn't have any time to play around with him. We were at least nine klicks from the Quang Tri perimeter, in enemy controlled territory and didn't have much time before other VC in the area came to investigate the gunfire.

"I tortured him, I was brutal. I broke the man's right thumb, index and baby fingers, broke his left wrist and stomped his right knee until it was jelly. When he still refused to talk I went to work on him with my K-bar. All the while Logan was questioning him in Vietnamese. The son-of-a-bitch finally broke and talked. He was still talking; begging for his life when I cut his throat...nearly decapitated him. We found her body off the trail where they'd dumped it."

Olson closed his eyes against the painful memories. He could still, after nearly four decades, remember her face, her smile. It was a face composed of the best features of her Vietnamese and French parentage. She had been gang raped then beatened to death.

"We carried her body back to her relatives in Cua Viet." Olson finished his story, quickly wiped at a tear then bowed his head and gazed into his coffee cup. Stevens didn't say anything for a while; he just looked at his mentor in an odd way. He was trying to reconcile the Marine who committed such a brutal act with the staunch law and order advocate he knew Olson to be. They sat in silence while he sipped his coffee and thought over what he'd been told. Olson never talked much about his wartime experiences. Stevens had been aware that he was a Vietnam veteran and had served in the Marine Corps' Special Forces. He'd heard the nickname 'Sandman' some agents used to refer to Olson; alluding to his record of sending many enemy soldiers to an eternal sleep during his tour in Viet Nam. Now he knew why. He also knew that Olson had spent several years with and rose to command a unit of the elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team; that he had been reassigned after the fiascoes at Waco and Ruby Ridge. Out of frustration he'd made statements, off the record, to a reporter that was not very flattering to the FBI's handling of the cases. The reporter betrayed his trust and went public with his complaints. Olson was rewarded with a reassignment to the Birmingham Alabama Field Office, considered second only to the Juneau, Alaska field office as the most disadvantageous of career moves. Twelve years later he was the SAC, Special Agent in Charge, of the field office.

It was now clear to Stevens where Olson's thinking was leading him. "Are you trying to tell me that the Logan who served with you in Vietnam is the same man who attacked Gates last night?" He asked softly, incredulously.

Olson was unresponsive for several moments then he looked up. "I'm not sure, Brad. I know that Logan is dead. I saw him die after he saved my life." He told Stevens the whole story, the ambush gone wrong, the harrowing run to the alternate PZ and Logan's death; the stuff of his reoccurring flashbacks and nightmares. Afterwards he bowed his head to stare into his coffee cup for several silent moments before speaking again.

"All that I have and all I've become or accomplished, I owe to Damian Logan. There hasn't been a single day in nearly forty years I haven't thought about him...and thanked him." After another long pause he said, "Brad, I saw that man walk past me yesterday. I know it's crazy...but I also know that it was him! I could never mistake that." He raised his head to face Stevens, held his gaze until Brad was forced to look away.

"You know the old saying, we all have a twin somewhere," Stevens replied, "Or it could be his son."

"No!" Olson answered vehemently. He knew that walk, the stride, and the way he moved as if he glided...his eyes!

"Think about it, Mark. If he were Logan, he would be as old as you. That guy was about my age or younger."

"I know...I know!" Olson hissed and after a short silence, "But this man knows things that no one else in the world knew, except me...and Logan!"

Stevens thought that over. "Well, there's one sure fire way to settle this," He said, "Let's go have a friendly chat with Mr. Damian 'Eternal Youth' Logan.

It came as no surprise to Olson when Mrs. Adkins sadly informed them of the resignation letter from David Logan. Attached was another letter addressed to Olson. Mrs. Adkins handed him the sealed envelope. The note was a request for a face-to-face meeting.

"You're going to meet with him aren't you?" Stevens asked as he drove out of the school parking lot and headed towards the Sheriff's office.

"I have to." Olson responded after a long thoughtful silence.

"I'm going with you." Stevens stated emphatically.

"No! He wants to talk privately."

"No way, Mark, are you out of your mind!" Stevens barked. "This guy is homicidal. He's probably in league with the ADF. In fact, we should turn this over to the Sheriff's office and let them pursue it as an aggravated assault. Besides, you don't know what his game is and I can't let you go alone. Besides, it would be a violation of field procedure. The same procedures you've drummed into my head for two years."

Olson pursed his lips. He was silent for a while then spoke in a low, serious tone. "Listen to me, Brad. I know this man. I realize that sounds crazy, but I trust him and I need to speak with him privately."

Olson only half listened to the rest of Stevens' arguments against making a solo contact without backup. The tension between them mounted as they drove to the task force meeting they had been informed of before leaving the hotel. Neither agent noticed the silver-gray SUV merge into traffic four cars behind them. They had no inkling that a listening device, planted in their car, transmitted every word they spoke to a receiver in the SUV.

Logan listened-with a wry smile-to every word of their conversation.

* * *

Olson drove slowly as he checked the road map again. He turned off the interior light and made the last turn onto Old Leeds Road. It had taken the whole day and all of his powers of persuasion to convince Stevens to let him handle the meeting his way. He'd finally had to admit that his reasons for wanting to comply with Logan's request were purely emotional and contrary to all established FBI investigative field procedures.

"That's why I'm playing it his way," He'd said with a wan smile, "sometimes you have to bend the rules a little and go with your gut feelings, Brad."

"Oh really!" Stevens had replied with a dubious look on his face but he reluctantly agreed to go along with Olson's plan.

There were few houses in sight as he came out of a sharp bend in the road. Most were at least a quarter of a mile apart. He found number twenty-nine without much effort. The real estate records indicated the house had been unoccupied for nearly a year. The owner had died intestate and had no known relatives. The County would take possession of the property in another couple of months for unpaid taxes. Olson parked on the deteriorating driveway and stepped out of the car. He stood for several moments looking around, barely breathing. He had a brief moment of intense uncertainty about the whole thing and wondered if he would be able to plead temporary insanity if it blew up in his face. Whatever might happen he felt that he was there and there was no turning back.

The night sky was cloudless; a half moon painted the landscape a dark gray with deep stygian shadows. The grass was over three feet tall and shrubbery was growing wild and crowding the crumbling stone walk. Insects buzzed and swarmed as he brushed past. A small animal scurried into the undergrowth. The house was completely dark. When he mounted the wooden steps they sagged and squeaked under his weight. The boards of the front porch were warped and uneven. The front door was unlocked so Olson pushed it open and walked in. He closed it behind him and stood in a dark and empty room that was musty and devoid of any of the telltale odors of human habitation. He flinched when a strip of light appeared under a door then headed in that direction after a few moments of hesitation. He slowly turned the doorknob and pushed. The door creaked as it swung open on rusty hinges. A black clad figure stood at the window with his back to the room. A card table with a battery powered, portable camping lamp and two metal folding chairs were the only items of furniture.

Olson closed the door behind him and stood for a few moments before speaking. "Logan?" He asked softly. The figure turned and Olson gasped. "It is you!"

"Hello, Sandman," Logan replied behind that wry smile. "It's been a long time my friend."

Olson felt light headed and couldn't think. His emotions flared to high altitudes, plummeted from the heights, bottomed out and then rebounded. The emotional roller coaster ride left him confused and off-balance. His mind refused to settle on one line of thought. He wanted to say more but unreasoning fear seized his vocal cords and his voice failed him. They stood for an eternity staring at each other, saying nothing. Olson felt the hairs on the back of his neck stiffen. He felt an unreasoning fear but at the same time he longed to run to the black man, to embrace him.

Logan smiled again. "Relax, Mark. You're not losing it, I assure you. Please, sit down. We have a lot to talk about."

He moved in the fluid manner Olson remembered so well and sat down at the table. He was dressed in a form fitting black outfit that was festooned with multiple streamlined pockets. The garment resembled the ballistic uniforms worn by SWAT teams but the material, composed of thousands of tiny facets, resisted the eyes attempts to focus on any one part. Olson walked stiffly forward, sat down opposite him and placed both hands, palms down, on the table. His eyes never left Logan, the man who sacrificed his life for him.

"You look well and prosperous, Sandman." Logan said.

A brief uncertain smile flitted across Olson's face. He'd spent an uncomfortable ten minutes that morning while shaving and taking inventory of the age lines that seemed to get deeper with each sunrise. "Yeah, well, you look absolutely great, Logan. Tell me your secret." He said in reply.

Logan smiled. "In good time."

Olson grimaced. He still found it disconcerting to be having a conversation with a man who he believed had been dead for nearly four decades and appeared not to have aged a day.

"How...I saw you die?" Olson muttered.

Logan leaned towards him with his elbows on the table and fingers intertwined. "In fact, I did die, Mark. I suppose a doctor trained in modern medicine would have declared me clinically dead but someone intervened, a higher power you might say, and brought me back."

"Resurrection—that's bullshit!" Olson blurted but instantly regretted his outburst.

Logan just smiled. "Not by a God like you're thinking, Mark."

Olson took a deep breath and tried to gather his thoughts. He couldn't shake the eerie feeling. He felt as if he were conversing with a spirit and couldn't control a shiver that raced through his body. His logical mind searched desperately for an explanation. "It's obvious that you were wounded and captured by the NVA. We suspected all along that the North Vietnamese turned many POWs over to the Soviets and the Chinese. Some were probably brainwashed. You're one of them. Are you working for the Russians or the Chinese?"

"That would be a plausible explanation...except," Logan paused, "how old do you think I am, Mark?"

Olson pondered that. "Plastic surgery. Hell, these days they're transplanting whole faces!"

"That won't wash and you know it, Mark," Logan snapped. A brief expression of impatience crossed his face. "Look, I have a story to tell you; a fantastic story that you will find difficult to believe but please hear me out before you pass judgment. Let me explain and then I will offer proof for you and your superiors."

Olson sighed as he raised his hands in mock surrender. "Okay," he replied. "I'll listen. I'm here, aren't I?"

Consternation was written all over Olson's face. Logan looked at him and felt great sympathy. He regretted what he was about to thrust upon the best friend he'd ever had. But he knew what Olson had overcome during his training from Marine boot camp to the Force Recon course and what he'd endured in Viet Nam. Logan made up his mind and resolutely crossed the point of no return and began his story.

...The Reiign was an ancient race with a far-flung interstellar confederation, at the time when nomadic bands of cavemen roamed the Earth. Their golden age spanned many millennia and brought their philosophy of peaceful co-existence and technological exchange to more than a thousand sentient species in their spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. The philosophers of the time spoke of manifest destiny and a galaxy united under their benevolent guidance until their march toward universal self-determination and enlightenment was shattered by an invading menace from the Large Magellanic Cloud.

In the twenty-third millennia of their reign, an advanced culture in the neighboring star cluster was discovered. After many failed attempts to communicate through tachyon transmissions and unmanned probes, the decision was made to dispatch a manned exploratory and diplomatic mission. The three ships vanished without a trace. No distress signal was ever received. The ten-ship rescue mission likewise failed to return or communicate concerns of eminent danger.

The Reiign at that point were confronted with a dilemma that tore at the very fabric of their non-violent philosophy. It was obvious that the missions had fallen prey to hostile action. The Reiign were not without the means to wage war but for thousands of years had done so only as a last resort, in self defense. They never succeeded in establishing contact with the race of beings that attacked without provocation and destroyed their intergalactic peace missions. No further attempts were made to communicate and the event became a part of history and the vast Reiign archival record.

Three hundred and ten years later a full-scale intergalactic invasion was launched from the Magellanic Cloud. The Invaders—for there was no other name for them—proved to be a ferocious and relentless adversary. Their level of technology was equal to and in some respects superior to that of the Reiign military establishment and its Confederation allies. Their penchant for waging war proved to be far superior. The clash of equally advanced but diametrically opposed cultures left the Reiign, a race genetically cleansed of most aggressive tendencies for generations, facing defeat and annihilation.

After a century of warfare, a rogue faction of the Reiign military-scientific complex realized that the key to defending the Empire lay not in superior armaments or numbers of war machines but in superior strategy and execution of military tactics. In other words, a regression of the Reiign psyche and culture to a more primal level was required to successfully defend the empire.

The realization came too late.

After four more centuries of grinding defensive war, fought largely by Confederation allies who still retained some of their primitive, aggressive tendencies, the Reiign Empire was shattered and reduced to isolated planetary strong points and streams of frightened refugees fleeing the onslaught. Thousands, millions of small groups of survivors fled as far and as fast as was technologically possible. The better equipped and organized bands of survivors established outposts on many uncharted and unsettled planets beyond the empire's frontier.

Desperate times breed desperate measures.

One band of refugees, a large splinter group of radical scientists along with their families and military support personnel, crossed the great rift and escaped to an adjacent arm of the galaxy, Earth's spiral arm.

In a last ditch effort to save their empire, they devised a plan to counter the threat of the Invaders. To that end, an exhaustive survey of life bearing planets, with oxygen-nitrogen atmospheres, was conducted. Many candidate species, one of which evolved on the third planet of an insignificant G3 star, were identified for their project. A discredited and banned experimental procedure, termed Genetic Optimized Development "GOD" was performed on the primitive, indigenous beings on scores of planets. The geno-biological experimentsocombining the genetic material of two or more species in eugenic programs that included manipulation of mutation ratescif successful would result in the creation of hybrid Reiigns better suited for conflict, a race of super soldiers. The quest for a Mutation Accelerated Nemesis "MAN" began in earnest.

Information sharing between the colonies gradually diminished as the centuries passed and the following generations of Reiign gradually replaced scientific cooperation and discourse with economic exchange and competition. The scientific missions separated by vast interstellar distances eventually evolved or were consolidated into less than a hundred independent planetary settlements. The many versions of the GOD project achieved varying degrees of success in mutating the dominant life forms on numerous planets but failed to produce a MAN in the short term. After more hundreds of years and many half-successes or failures, the colonies gradually lost their cohesiveness and sense of common purpose. Some failed altogether, abandoned their GOD projects and set about making the planets their new homes. Others continued to pursue the original goal in isolation, while a small number lost their technological level of existence, went native and regressed to a primitive state.

On earth, the Neanderthal specimens selected for the GOD Project were subjected to advanced DNA infusion therapy and gene splicing, extensive intra-species breeding, geno-biological experimentation for intelligence enhancement, improved manual dexterity and better body symmetry. Several variants and other sub groupings were created and investigated for enhanced intellectual performance, climatological adaptation and most importantly, increased aggressiveness and war fighting abilities. The end result of many centuries of effort was Cro-Magnon, modern humans.

Although Cro-Magnon was in many ways superior to their Neanderthal breeding stock' they were crude and lowly in comparison to the Reiign. Invariably the Cro-Magnon, who were capable of symbolic thought, came to regard the Reiign, their creators, as supernatural. They called them Gods after the project designation and acronym.

In the twelfth century of their colonization the Reiign military personnel gained control of earth's GOD project. Their takeover would have tragic and fortuitous consequences. Within a couple of generations they had regressed and became despotic in their reign over the mutated primitives and the Neanderthal aboriginals. They became totally corrupted by their life style of depraved indifference to the suffering of lesser beings they treated as lab specimens and slaves. In the furtherance of a perverted version of the GOD project and often for their own entertainment, they fermented internecine conflict, tribal wars and bloodletting on a large scale among the early humans while they observed from on high. Many times they pitted their mutated humans against Neanderthals and other animals in vicious gladiator bouts, for public spectacle. They demanded all manner of tribute from them, including human sacrifice.

They used advanced technology and slave labor to build gigantic monuments to the memory of the Reiign Empire. Pyramids and other colossal temples were built and used to keep alive the glory and the majesty of an Empire that the younger generations of Reiign never really knew.

When they attempted to expand their empire to other colonized planets a war ensued; the War of the Gods. Several colonies banded together to defeat what they considered a serious threat to the grand plan. The fighting, conducted with advanced nuclear weapons, resulted in the destruction of Atlantis, earth's capital city, most of their budding civilization and their space fleet. The devastation poisoned the earth and precipitated a nuclear winter.

The victors evacuated the Reiign who renounced their allegiance to the defeated, corrupt regime as well as the most promising experimental subjects to the colony on an earth-like planet revolving around the star that would one day be designated 18 Scorpii. The Scorpii-Reiign would go on to build a confederation that spanned seven colonized planets. They left behind the die-hard Earth-Reiign and a large number of mutated primitives whom they believed were perverted beyond salvage and would surely perish from the increased radiation, they were wrong.

Within eleven thousand years earth had healed itself. During those eons the marooned Reiign did die out but several groups of mutated humans survived and flourished. Moreover, the radiation further mutated them in ways the Scorpii-Reiign never anticipated and they thrived. The growing populations of modern humans, endowed with higher intelligence, were able to adept and endure widely varying climatological and environmental challenges. They ventured out of their enclaves to form larger more complex social groupings and modes of self-governance. Nearly all of them continued to emulate their Reiign Gods in some form or fashion. They continued to waste vast resources and use slave labor to build monuments to the Gods who created them and would surely return one day. They engaged in endless wars of conquest and unwittingly perpetuated the GOD Project. The Neanderthals were easily defeated and decimated. Within a few thousand years they were extinct. Now Cro-Magnon reigned supreme on planet earth.

The Scorpiins never abandoned the earth completely. Planets with oxygen-nitrogen atmospheres are rare and highly prized. Once they discovered that a significant number of the mutated specimens survived, they routinely visited the planet to evaluate their progress. In many instances, over thousands of years, they intervened at critical junctures in human history to assure the GOD Project continued in some form or fashion. They fostered many human institutions and behaviors such as religion, racism and royalty to ensure continuing friction warfare and conquest between various cultures, tribes and civilizations. Many times the Scorpiins caused devastating "natural catastrophes" to cleanse the planet of defective cultures that promoted passivism or to give an advantage to groups who displayed the desired militant attributes. They guided the scientific and technical advancement of mankind by covertly assisting the race of mutated humans who displayed the greatest propensity for violence.

During the following forty millennia humans struggled up from barbarism to build the great human dynasties; Mesopotamian, Aztec and Mayan, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mongol and the European kingdoms. Forty-three thousand years of human empire building culminated in the founding of the Unites States of America. By virtue of its multi-ethnic population, the melting pot, America became the first societal repository of the entire genetic code of the mutated human species from every Reiign enclave established on earth. The high incidence of interracial marriage and procreation resulted in the birth of many humans with combined and elevated percentages of the mutated genetic code that endowed them with the latent abilities of the threshold genome-adept. Eventually two first-born adepts mated and produced the first individual with the entire enhanced genetic material of every race of the mutated human species and a Mutation Accelerated Nemesis, a MAN, was born.

In the Hadar solar system, three hundred and ninety-two light years from earth, the Reiign settled on the fourth planet of the system. They chose a species of sentient felines for experimentation. They infused their genetic material into the indigenous cats and created a mutated race of the most ferocious predators the planet had ever known. After a hundred generations, little of the Reiign culture remained. They had been completely supplanted by their own creation. What was left in its place was a hybrid race of supremely intelligent, highly aggressive feline beings. The Hadar-Reiign, after obtaining dominion over their planet and solar system, sought to extend their dominance to nearby solar systems. Within fifty millennia their empire had engulfed ten habitable planets. Their relentless expansion continued until they encountered the Scorpiin Empire. The war that ensued has continued for more than seven hundred equivalent earth years.

Around 700 BC, the Scorpiins expanded their version of the GOD project to include test subjects from among the human populations of earth. After the war with the Hadarans began in 1310 AD and the tide of war turned against them, they began using abducted humans, mainly military personnel harvested during earth's wars, to serve as mercenaries in their struggle against the felines. Forty years ago after a routine mission to collect more experimental subjects and mercenaries the Scorpiins learned that one of the abductees demonstrated some rather unusual attributes. Extensive tests convinced them he indeed, could be their long awaited MAN. While the training of their specimen continued the Scorpiins were forced to concede large portions of their empire to the relentless Hadarans. Thirty years ago the Scorpiins, in a strategic realignment of their defensive forces had to abandoned the region of space a scant eleven light years from earth. Now the earth lay in the path of a Hadaran pincer movement that threatens to engulf the planet in a raging war of annihilation...

Olson's body felt stiff. He'd barely moved or drawn a full breath the whole time. His mind reeled with the impact and implications of Logan's narrative. He found it nearly impossible to believe what he'd heard; the scope and the immensity of it all. Yet his friend seemed sincere. He'd been very convincing, but what evidence was there? Olson was a law school graduate and a trained federal investigator whose mind dealt in logical arguments and conclusions. Was the proof of what he'd heard sitting less than four feet away? To make matters worse, if what he'd been told was true, he and everything he held dear, the whole of humanity was the product of a scientific project, an experiment!

If true, what had happened on earth was not unique, but one of many genetic breeding programs, Genetic Optimized Development. GOD, a cold-blooded procedure designed to produce super soldiers to fight in an intergalactic war for the survival of the Reiign culture, the Reiign Empire.

Logan sat quietly while Olson struggled with his desire to believe his friend and his mind's refusal to accept unconditionally what he'd been told. Olson finally managed to drag his mind back from the land of imponderables and focused on the man in front of him. He shivered as he mentally crossed over into a frightening realm he really had no desire to contemplate.

"And you are that abductee...that MAN?" He asked.

Logan nodded.

If you enjoyed this sample of my novel and would like to read the entire story please log on to and order my novel by:

ISBN No: 9781450280440 for the paper back version, or

ISBN No: 978145028457 for the E-Book version at your favorite electronic book vender.

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