Fellah runs across the grass to take care of Jack. She is hurt, limping from the bullet in her shin, but Jack is hurt worse. The blood trickles from multiple wounds and his breathing is labored and ragged as Fellah pulls out her med-kit and labors heroically to save Jack’s life.
Clyde sits in the darkness of the armored hummer. He’d never seen himself as a killer, but the realization rolls over him as to how many people are dead at his hands. What lies does he need to tell himself to get forgiveness? Right now, the irony doesn’t seem funny.
Liam also contemplates his hands. His brass knuckles are covered in blood. How much of it is his own? How much belongs to these things, these cultists, who lie on the ground in the gun-smoke mist that surrounds him? Religious warfare, with the conflicts he’d known as a child so long ago and so far away, could it happen here? The bottle of grain alcohol tucked into his vest, to be used as a Molotov cocktail if necessary, finds instead use as a salve to restore Liam’s shaky sanity.
The early September breeze begins to clear the gun smoke from the air and points to the fact that autumn comes early to the Rockies. Where had summer gone? A few days in jail, a few days at a cabin, a week in the virtual jail of the CTU offices and travelling, travelling, travelling: hotels and truck-stops and Liam’s empty beer bottles filled with his cigarette butts. It all adds up. It is a cliché, but in some ways it felt like summer, with all its naïve promises of fun adventure was just days ago. But the passing of summer, with its harrying, real life adventure seems like a lifetime has passed.
Men in uniform, run around, picking up the bodies of the dead, tending to the wounded. As they pick up the bodies of these new, strange members of the cult, the bodies crumble into dust. Kody and his wives are well and truly dead, zipped up in bags, and hauled off. Most of the cultists are dead as well, medics care for the others.
One of these medics takes over working on Jack from Fellah, while another begins to tend to Fellah. The press is coming. Of course the press is coming. That had been the point of provoking the attack. Kody could be exposed as the mad man that he is . . . that he was. Kody is in a zippered bag now.
The military personal rush Liam, Fellah and Jack back to the hummer ahead of the onslaught of cameras and questions. They sit in silence.
“Where to?” the voice comes from a camouflage and armor clad woman in the driver’s seat.
It is unclear who responds, but the words “donuts” and “waffles” come from somewhere in the party.
“I know just the place” the woman says. The hummer moves. *******
In a roadside diner a combination of carbs, fats and caffeine bring the party back to their old selves. There is good natured teasing and laughter. Kody is gone, and even though they have been through Hell to get there, this is a really, really good thing. There is hope. Evil is being defeated. There is good reason to celebrate, and 24 hour breakfast is as good a means as any holiday feast.
Over the diner’s wi-fi, they get in touch with Director Scalper. He congratulates them on their victory, and has even more great news. The Korean diary that Fellah found on the body of the dead Mormon in the Catholic church building in Boulder Colorado has been translated and decoded.
“It appears to be the diary of a Sulsa, and it looks like they’ve been dealing with people a lot like our cultists for years. When you feel ready, go back home. I’ll meet you there and we’ll talk about the next phase of our plan.” Director Scalper says before logging out.
“Salsa,” says Liam, “What the @#$% does Mexican food have to do with this.”
“Sulsa,” Clyde corrects him, “sort of a like ninja.”
“Seriously,” Liam says, “That was a ninja book that Fellah found!”
“Not exactly” Clyde says. “I heard about the Sulsa when I was looking into eastern religions for a while. They occupy a place in Korean culture similar to the place that ninjas have in Japan or the Thuggee in Hindu cultures.”
Fellah sucks in air through her teeth at the mention of the Thuggee, a group not well liked in Pakistan, “So they are murderers and hitmen,” she says.
“Assassins,” Clyde shrugs. “But they have this whole religious thing built up around it. It has to do with the ying-yang and Daoism. They practice something the call ‘the way of darkness’ which they say is balanced by people who practice ‘the way of the true sword.’”
“Jeong dō,” Liam says, not looking at anyone.
Jack, Clyde and Fellah look at Liam with shock, as though he has just begun speaking Korean, which he has.
When Liam looks up and notices their faces he continues incredulously, “What the @$%& do you think CTU was teaching me while you two were @$%&ing around at the farmstead? It was a bunch of martial arts and $#!*. ‘The way of the true sword’ is ‘Jeong dō’ it’s a part of that Korean Tae Kwan Do $#!%. I don’t know anything about this @$%&ing ‘way of darkness’ $#!% though.”
“I don’t really know any more about it than what I just said.” Clyde slumps back in the restaurant booth.
“We were NOT @$%&ing around at the farmstead,” Fellah says firmly.*******
It is late at night when they finally get back to Boulder. There is a car in the driveway, and the party enters cautiously, feeling a little sick that they feel like they have to enter their own home that way. It appears that the police have removed the bodies, but there are still blood stains on the carpet and bullet holes in the wall. Director Scalper is there. He has found a blanket and pillow and appears to be sleeping on the couch. Some discussion is made about waking him, but Jack recommends letting him sleep.
While the excitement of the past two days, indeed, of the whole summer, might have keep them from sleeping, fatigue, and in Liam’s case half a fifth of Jim Beam, win out. In the morning the smell of bacon and coffee awaken them. The party comes into the kitchen to see Director Scalper in Angela’s apron, cooking. Due to his massive muscles and layers of fat, the apron is much too small for him, but he seems to have found some string to make the straps longer. He appears to be humming, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and shaking his ample buttocks as he pours pancake batter onto a griddle.
He turns his head and smiles, “Breakfast will be ready in 15 minutes if you can wait.”
Liam pours himself a cup of coffee and steps outside for his morning cigarette. As he takes in the smoke and early autumn air he hears a “thump” coming from the trunk of Scalper’s car. He yells in the door, “You got something pounding in your boot, Scalper.”
Everyone rushes outside, armed. Scalper gestures for everyone to circle round the back of the car, weapons aimed, as he pops the trunk, and the man who called himself Obi-Wan last time the party met him climes out.
Scalper slaps his head, “How in Sam Hill did you get out of your cell again, and how did you get in my trunk.”
The old man looks seriously at Scalper, “Why, Captain Picard, I climbed into an escape pod before the Death Star was destroyed. I can only hope that the Daleks have made peace with the Romulans and that Mr. Spock here,” gesturing toward Clyde, “has learned to use the Force for something besides aiming photon torpedoes at Lex Luthor.”
“Well,” says Scalper, “I don’t have time to take you back right now, so why don’t you come inside and have some breakfast.”
“Delightful,” Obi-Wan says.
Breakfast is good: crisp turkey bacon, eggs, pancakes, fresh melons, grapes and strawberries, orange juice, coffee and milk. As everyone eats, Director Scalper talks between his own mouthfuls:
“Here’s the situation. The diary was from a sulsa. Apparently, his sect or clan or whatever have been fighting people like this Mormon sect for decades, maybe longer. They’ve been fighting people who can teleport in blue light, who steal women and castrate men, who sometimes have these weird weapons, like you saw in the park. Even the name tags and white shirts seem to have shown up in the last two or three years. Here’s the good news. It looks like this particular group of sulsa know where they take people they kidnap and how to reverse the brainwashing process.”
“Yes,” says Obi-Wan, “Sulu knows the location of the hidden Rebel base, but if he tells Darth Vader, the Klingons will send in sentinels to flush out the mutant children. Then how will Drizzt get to Oz? The yellow brick road would have to be disintegrated.”
“So here’s what I think we should do” Scalper recommends, “You will fly to Seol and try to find this particular group of Sulsa. Hopefully they can help you get to Angela, and whatever other Americans might be under the sway of these freaks.”
“Just as Yoda foresaw in the Mirror of Galadriel!” Says Obi-Wan enthusiastically.
“But none of us speak Korean,” Fellah says.
“And I can’t go.” Jack says grimly.
“Why not?” Clyde asks.
“Because when Frodo threw the ring into the main reactor, it was a direct hit, and the crystal was shattered and the Mystics and the Skeksies were born.” Obi-Wan says, by way of explanation.
“I’m afraid that’s classified above my level to discuss,” says Jack, looking sideways at Obi-Wan as though he almost understands him, “but one time I prevented World War 3 and most of eastern Asia has ‘shoot on sight’ orders for me now.”
“I’ll have another partner for you.” Says Scalper.
“Who?” Jack demands.
“Müller,” Says Scalper.
“Wolfgang Müller?” Jack settles back into his chair thoughtfully. “He’s perfect, but he is so strange and he’s not part of CTU. Can we trust him?”
“What Han Solo did with Arwen and Kitty Pryde in the cargo bay of the Enterprise still causes the Vogons to lust after the Aes Sedai when they watch the tapes,” Obi-Wan giggles.
“He’s with the CIA now. They’ve got him in South Korea. He speaks Korean and will believe every insane word that these kids tell him.” Skinner replies.
“It all has to do with Fox Mulder’s sister,” Obi-Wan says, sadly, “But Skully is the one who got pregnant, not Padme Amidala.”
“Just watch his hands and don’t believe everything he says,” Jack said, looking directly at Fellah.
Obi-Wan also looks at Fellah, “When Captain Kirk was Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Princess Leia was his pleasure servant.”