Chapter: 29
Li dai tao jiang
(Sacrifice the plum tree for the peach tree)

"We can't just sit here doing nothing!" Nabiki raged
impotently. The ambulance had carried Sasuki and the monk
away almost two hours earlier. Nabiki's chest was tight with
terror as she imagined Kasumi in Genma's hands.

"I've made some tea," Nodoka said, setting a tray
before Nabiki. "It will relax you."

"I don't want any damn - - "

"Thank you for the tea," Akane replied, squeezing
Nabiki's arm gently. Akane took a sip of the tea Nodoka
made. "You're right. It is calming."

"How can you sit here drinking tea," Nabiki hissed,
after Nodoka went back into the kitchen. "You ought to be
out doing something." She glared at her sister, then flinched
at the bleak look in Akane's eyes.

"It's good tea," Akane replied calmly, Only her white
knuckled grip on Kasumi's book-bag betrayed her feelings.
"And your pachinko commando's are on the alert, Kodachi
has mobilized her brother's Patriotic Youth League - - "

" 'bout time the little fascists bastards were useful."
Nabiki muttered.

"And we've got help from . . .ummmm I'm sorry, I
don't know your name," Akane apologized to the Amazon
who was speaking into a cell phone.

"It is I who should apologize," the phone vanished
into a hidden pocket. "I did not properly introduce myself. I
am Ke Lun, First Matriarch of the Nyuchezuu."

"Cologne?" Ukyou repeated doubtfully.

"Close enough," there was gentle humor in Ke Lun's
voice. "It is merely the Mandarin equivalent of my real name
in any event."

"And thou'rt . . .an Amazon?" Kodachi paused in her
pacing to pose a question that had been bothering her. "Thou
hast not the look of a Greek." She said uncertainly, trying to
peer beneath Ke Lun's concealing hood.

"They're _Chinese_ Amazon's." Ukyou explained,
recognizing the name from a TV special on China.

Ke Lun laughed. "Nyuchezuu roughly means 'Woman
Hero Tribe', but after that American television program came
out, they started calling us Amazons. Actually it was pretty
good for tourism."

"You talk as if you're not Chinese?" Nabiki said, glad
of the distraction from her worries about Kasumi.

"We're not, or at least not originally. Though after so
many centuries it doesn't matter, other than in terms of
tradition."

"What do you call yourselves?"

"Em'a Ghalduu'," Ke Lun replied, swallowing the
middle of the second word, which ended with a sharp click.
"Literally, 'Lost Woman', but it means 'bitch' in the old
tongue." She chuckled again. "Legend has it that her husband
and family were _very_ glad to see the last of her when our
ancestress left home a few thousand years ago to found her
own tribe."

"Why - - " Nabiki's question was interrupted by the
ringing of Ke Lun's phone.

There was a rapid fire exchange in a liquid sounding
language. "We have him." the Amazon said simply.

*****
*****

"Why Shinjuku?" Ukyou asked, looking nervously
around at the sea of humanity that flooded the floor of the
worlds busiest train station. "It seems funny that he would
want all these people around."

"It's because of all the people," Ke Lun replied.
"Easier for him to hide in a crowd." She moved effortlessly
through the densely packed throngs, occasionally slowing to
let the others, grunting and sweating, catch up. Of the rest,
only Akane, walking slightly in front of Nabiki's wheel chair,
moved easily through the crowds. Lacking the Amazon's
preternatural agility and grace, she substituted brute force,
carving a path for her sister like a nuclear powered ice-
breaker moving through the Greenland straits.

"Now what?" Nabiki asked quietly as they made their
was along the north wall of the station.

"In here," Mu Si said, appearing suddenly from out of
nowhere. Moving aside some lumber, he uncovered a service
door that had been casually covered over with repair material.
Signs indicated work in progress and forbidding entrance to
any but service personnel.

"Is it alright to go in?" Nabiki asked, unable to
completely overcome a lifetime of conditioning to obey higher
authority.

"I have no doubt that the railway would be very
surprised to learn about _these_ particular repairs."

"You mean Genma _faked_ this?"

"It's actually quite clever," Ke Lun remarked as they
made their way down the deliberately darkened tunnel. "A
few seconds only to put up the signs, a few boards, rope and
electric wire artistically placed and he has almost perfect
privacy."

"Isn't he trapped now?" Ukyou asked, uncasing and
assembling the battle spatula hidden in a guitar case for more
discrete transport. Nervously his eyes darted around, trying to
pierce the darkness, illuminated only by the flashlights Mu Si
had provided.

Ke Lun laughed shortly. "I'm quite certain Genma
knows more about the tunnels under Tokyo than the people
who built them."

For an endless time they moved through the darkness,
the silence broken only by the soft slap of naked feet against
stone, subdued breathing and the purr of an electric motor.
Ahead a tiny pinprick of light grew in size.


"That's far enough!" Genma's voice rang out, echoing
strangely against the rock walls. "Where's Souun?" Kasumi's
bound and gagged form appeared suddenly in the dim light of
a single hanging light. "Quick, My package or she dies!"

There was a flair of light and Genma's disembodied
hand appeared from the shadows, holding a lighter.

"What th' hell?" Ukyou muttered. Then a current of
air brought the odor of - - "Gas! Son-of-a-bitch. Th'
bastard's soaked her in gasoline!"

"I don't know where my father is," Nabiki's chair
whirred forward before anyone could stop her. "And we don't
have your package." The flame jerked, coming perilously
close to Kasumi.

"NO!" Nabiki's scream was high pitched and terrified.
"Please, no! Dammit, if I had your stupid package, I'd give it
to you. My father too!"

There was silence, then the flame vanished. "Souun's
really gone?" Genma laughed grimly. "He's smarter than I
thought. He took the stuff and left you worthless bitches. I
underestimated him."

"No. Daddy wouldn't do that?" But even to herself,
Nabiki didn't sound certain. Swallowing hard she tried to
figure the odds on the biggest bet of her life. "Listen . . .just
listen a minute. I want my sister back. If my father's got what
you want, I'll help you get it. Get him. Anything you want"

"You've got nothing to bargain with." The flame
reappeared with a flick of the lighters flint wheel.

"I _can_ find him. I know where he is. Where he was
a few days ago."

"How?" The flame danced closer to Kasumi's petrol
soaked body.

"I know people. My pachinko games. I know lots of
people all over Tokyo. They look and tell me what they see. I
give them free games and they look." Nabiki stumbled over
her words she was speaking so quickly. "Just tell me what
you're looking for. I'll get it. I'll get it."

"An interesting proposition," Genma said
contemplatively. "But I don't believe you're serious."

Kasumi's hair ignited like a torch and Nabiki lurched
from her chair with a shriek of horror.

"God DAMMIT old man!" Ranma leaped from the
darkness, grabbed the burning figure in his arms and rolled it
over and over until the flames were extinguished. "What
th'hell do - - CRAP!" Ranma flinched from the body in his
arms, then threw it away from him. "What're you playin' at
old man?"

Almost hysterical Nabiki hobbled over to the limp
figure, laying forlornly on the cold stone, overtaken by
Kodachi who sprinted past her.

"God's Wounds!" Kodachi swore prayerfully as she
reached the twisted, smoldering form, followed a moment
later by Nabiki.

"A doll?" Nabiki's voice was high and childlike. "A
doll?" She lurched forward on all fours and emptied the
contents of her stomach noisily onto the floor.

"You don't expect me to throw away my trump card
that easily, do you?" Genma's voice was jovial. "But now that
I have your attention, we can talk business."

"What do you want," Kodachi asked quietly, the
venom in her voice barely suppressed. "What ransom you
want, I will pay for Kasumi-san's safety."

"You can't afford me, kid." Genma dismissed. "Now,
where is Souun?"

"We really don't know," Ukyou said, having been only
a step behind. She helped Nabiki to her feet and held her
while she sobbed brokenly. "And we don't know what the hell
you're looking for." Moving slowly Ukyou helped Nabiki
back to her wheelchair.

"Even I don't know," Ke Lun stepped into the light.
"So it's unlikely these children would know."

"That's far enough, Amazon!" Genma snapped. I still
have the girl, and I assure you I'll kill her."

"Pop," Ranma started forward. "Are you drunk? It's
Okay. You'll feel better once you sober - - "

"Stop where you are," Genma stepped into the light.
"and I'm not drunk." He smiled, a mad light in his eyes. "The
Amber Room." he said apropos of nothing.

"Ahhh . . ." Understanding was in Ke Lun's voice.
"That's really what you were after. Our amber?"

"I needed something authentic. Something that would
fool the experts. But the rest was quite useful in funding the
deal."

"What's the amber room?" Ukyou asked, rubbing
Nabiki's back soothingly. "And what does this have to do
with Kasumi? Or anything."

"In 1716 King Friedrich of Prussia made a gift to Tsar
Peter the Great of a room of amber and gold." Ke Lun
answered softly. " It vanished during World War Two,
rumored to have been destroyed, broken up or hidden. A
work of art literally without price."

"Not priceless," Genma chuckled, "The Russians put a
quite definite price on it."

"On a fake," Ke Lun countered.

"What th' hell is she talkin' about?" Ranma demanded
of his father.

"You sold them a fake, giving them just enough
genuine amber from our treasury, to fool them."

"You had the only source of the right kind of amber in
sufficient quantity." Genma sounded quite pleased with his
cleverness.

"What were you paid for the return of this unique
treasure?" Ke Lun asked. "Or, more precisely, how?"

"Alexandrite, Tourmaline, Emeralds - - " Genma
catalogued his fee in a tone most men reserved for their
lovers.

"No diamonds?" Ke Lun asked rhetorically.

"Some _very_ nice D grade Icy White's." Genma said
complacently. "Now," his voice hardened. "Where is my
package?"

"Where is my sister," Akane limped forward, her knee
protesting the strain of the day. "I want to see her."

"And I want . . ."

"The package you mailed to yourself?" Akane replied.
"To us? To the Tendou house? That's really why you came to
stay with us." Maybe it was all the time she'd spent with
Ranma, or perhaps fear for Kasumi's life. But suddenly, in her
mind, she could see what Genma had done, as clearly as if
she'd been looking over his shoulder.

"Where!" Genma's voice was hoarse and eager.
"Where is it?"

"My sister," Akane said with a calm she didn't
understand. It was as if she were standing on a vast icy plain.
She felt frozen, isolated. "Let me see her or you get nothing."

Something about her voice persuaded Genma. He
vanished into the shadows, reappearing seconds later with
Kasumi. "Here she is." There was a glint of steel in his hand.
"Poisoned blade, so be very careful."

Akane stared at her sister's bound form for a moment,
then, without taking her eyes off her, reached into Kasumi's
book-bag for what she knew had to be there. "Is this what
you want?" She held up the long forgotten package.

Genma stared at the package, then cursed vilely. He'd
had it in his hands. Right in his hands and - - "

"Give it to me."

"I don't think so," Akane replied tonelessly. "I don't
trust you. Give me Kasumi."

"I'm not stupid," Genma snarled. "Once you have her,
you have no reason to bargain."

"Give 'em to me." Ranma said, moving between
Akane and his father. "Me and Pop an' Kasumi 'll go down
the tunnel a ways, to give Pop a head start. I'll give him th'
stuff, and bring Kasumi back. I promise."

Akane almost fainted with relief, feeling a vast burden
lifted from her shoulders. "Okay," She made to toss the
package underhand to him. "That's - - "

"NO!" Ke Lun snapped. "The truth is not in him. He
can't be trusted."

"No," Akane shook her head. "Ranma would never let
anything happen to Kasumi. He would never lie to me."

"Shut up, old ghoul! This ain't none of your business."
Ranma growled, holding out his hand for the package.

"Not so old," Ke Lun dropped her cloak to the ground
and Akane gasped as Ke Lun moved into the light.

"Ranko?"

The familiar face smiled, the expression subtly unlike
the one Akane was used to seeing.

"No child." Ke Lun/Ranko answered, "That is
Ranko."

Uncomprehending, Akane followed the pointing finger
to see her husband hit by a stream of ice water, shot by the
Super-Soaker in Mu Si's hands.

"R . . .Ranma?" Dazed she watched Ranma's familiar
features melt and run like softened clay. His body dwindled,
his hair lengthened and changed colour. "I . . .I don't . . .
what? Ranma?" She said helplessly, taking a step back.

"The Pools of Sorrow," Ke Lun answered. "The
Curse of Zhou Quan Xiang."

"Dammit, old ghoul," Ranma, now Ranko groused,
wringing out her sopping wet shirt. "Whyd ya go and do that?
And what th' hell happened to you?" He glared at his new
found twin accusingly.

"I was too old to go running over half the world
chasing you and your father. With the permission of the
Council I fixed myself up, though unlike you, my change is
now permanent." She held up a tiny pale hand, flexing the
fingers. "It's nice not to ache in the cold, but I could do
without the teenage hormone storm."

"What is going on?" Ukyou looked between the two
identical, impossibly kawaii girls. "How . . .?"

"The cursed pools," Ke Lun spoke, not unkindly, to
Akane who seemed stunned. "Cold water causes him to
exchange his normal form for the cursed body you see. Hot
water reverses it."

"Akane," Ranko moved hesitantly toward his bride,
who stumbled back. "Akane, don't be afraid. I can
explain . . ."

"That you tricked her?" Mu Si sneered. "That you
used your curse to get close to her, learn her secrets. What
perverted . . ."

"Dammit" Ranko snapped, "this ain't none of your
business."

"I want my sister," Akane's voice was calm, but her
face was deathly pale. "I want Kasumi." She started walking
toward Genma.

"Akane, wait!" Ranko moved in front of her. "Ya
can't trust the old man."

"Get out of my way."

Something in her eyes made Ranko flinch. "Akane,
don't - - "

"Genma," Akane pinned Ranko with a glare, but her
words were for both father and son. "I want Kasumi. I don't
_care_ about you or Amazons or diamonds or anything else.
You're going to give me Kasumi, I give you this." She held
up the package.

"Don't be stupid!" Ranko reached for Akane, who
backhanded the tiny girl, slamming her into the ground.

"And what about the Amazons?" Genma asked,
seemingly unconcerned with the fate of his son.

"One hour," Akane replied. "I'll keep them here one
hour. After that, you're on your own."

"What gives you the right!" Mu Si started angrily.

"Kodachi, Ukyou! If the Amazons move - - ." There
was a hiss of steel from behind her as the two moved to
interdict Ke Lun and Mu Si.

"Unnecessary," Ke Lun answered calmly. "I will not
endanger an innocent life. But Genma," her tone hardened.
"At present I am merely inclined to kill you for what you have
done. Harm this girl . . ." she smiled and Genma took an
involuntary step back. "Just so we understand each other."

"Akane," Ranko gasped, struggling up, "ya can't trust
him."

"I know," she answered calmly, some undefinable
emotion in her eyes as she looked briefly into Ranko/
Ranma's eyes, before crossing the distance separating her
from Genma and her sister.

"Here is your package."

"And your sister," Genma replied, a cruel light in his
eyes; Which widened in horror as Akane suddenly flipped the
package over his head. He made a grab for the package and
the instant his attention was diverted Akane snatched Kasumi
from his arms and tossed her through the air. Kodachi's
sword dropped to the ground with a clang as she lunged for
'her lady', the impact driving them both to the ground.

"BITCH!" Genma screamed, whirling and driving a
slender blade into Akane's chest directly over her heart. At
almost the same instant Akane's left fist lashed out in a blow
that would have ruptured Genma's diaphragm if he hadn't
twisted aside like a snake.

"AKANE!" Ranko covered the distance impossibly
fast, knocking his father away with a savage side kick, which
sent the package skittering across the floor, out of sight.
"Akane? Akane!" Ranko cradled the limp body in her arms.

Mu Si and Ke Lun rushed Genma. Ukyou charged him
from the other side.

Trapped! His hostage gone, Genma looked wildly
around, then made a slashing motion, and something flew
through the air. There was a blinding explosion as the ball of
magnesium powder detonated with a whoosh. During that
instant of blindness there was a startled shout, the heavy
pounding of desperately running feet, the thud of fist on flesh
and a girl's high pitched scream of pain and fear.

"Nabiki!" Ukyou's hoarse shout echoed in the tunnel
as he frantically tried to clear his light dazzled eyes.

"Mu Si," Ke Lun's voice had an unexpected note of
panic in it. "Mu Si!" She started toward his crumpled form.

"Hold it, old bitch!" Genma commanded. "Another
step and she dies!" Everyone turned toward the sound of his
voice; Nabiki white-faced sat stiffly in her wheelchair, a bulky
shadow behind her, grinding a dark, blued-steel cylinder into
her temple.

"That's a gun!"

"Very good," Genma sneered at Ukyou. "Better take
care of your little sissy-boy," he directed at Ke Lun. "I know
how Amazon's dote on their _men_."

"What did you do to Mu Si?" Ke Lun barked.

"Dim Mak," Genma gloated, "if you work fast you
might be able to reverse the Death Touch." He held out an
empty hand. "My package and I'll be going. If you take time
to chase me, the boy will probably die. I don't think these
children will be able to stop me. Plus," Nabiki cried out as he
screwed the barrel of his pistol into her temple, "I'll take this
one along for insurance."

"Take it," Ukyou scrambled around in the shadows,
finding the package of gems. "Just leave Nabiki and go!"

"Alright," Genma stepped back from the chair and
Ukyou tossed him the package. Eagerly he ripped it open,
pouring a stream of crystalized rainbows into his hand.
"Ahhhh . . ." With a sigh of pleasure he stuffed the loose gems
and package into an inside pocket. "Thank you," with a
mocking bow he grabbed Nabiki's chair and started pushing it
down the darkened tunnel.

"You lying bastard!" Ukyou started forward with a
scream of rage. Genma's gun jerked up, there was thunderous
flash and a body hit the ground with a thud.

"DADDY!" Nabiki screamed, jerking frantically
against Genma's hold.

"Souun!" For once Genma seemed stunned,
wondering who the hell else was going to show up.

Souun pushed himself painfully erect, holding his left
hand tight against his belly to slow the flow of blood that
leaked around his fingers and dripped onto the stones. "Let go
of my girl." Gaunt and filthy, Tendou Souun looked like a
prison camp survivor, but his eyes burned with a terrible fire.

"You don't look so good, old friend." Genma said,
backing carefully away, keeping Nabiki in front of him.
"Perhaps you ought to sit down."

"I've been trying to catch up with you, _old friend_,"
Souun hissed, taking a step forward. "to ask you about all the
_interesting_ people you attracted to my home. But you've
been moving around."

"Another step and I'll shoot!" The muzzle of the gun
fixed on Soun's chest.

"Go . . .ahead," Souun gritted, "And while you're
shooting me - - ," he jerked a thumb behind him and smiled an
ugly smile. "You've got five shots left and I bet I can take
two more," another step. "You're getting fat and slow,"
blood dripped between his fingers hitting the ground with a
monotonous sound. "I don't think you can stop all five of us."

"Six, daddy. I'm a martial artist too."

"Akane!" Nabiki gave a little shriek of joy and Genma
started in surprise. He _must_ be getting slow. People just
weren't staying dead. It was all very discouraging.

"Uncle Genma . . ." Akane struggled to sit up,
groaning in pain. "Just . . .let her go. And leave us . . .alone"

"How . . ." Ranko helped Akane sit, scrubbing tears
from her eyes with her free hand.

"You forgot," Akane grabbed the hilt of the knife
sticking from her chest and yanked, eliciting a gasp from
those watching. "about my exercise vest, didn't you?"
Powdered lead leaked from the tear in her shirt and dribbled
down her front. In her hand she held a knife, blade broken off
near the base. She started to get up, then fell back with a cry.
Her face twisted in pain, she gingerly pulled her shirt open to
show the bent and broken blade sticking from one of the lead
filled pouches, a trickle of blood staining the material and
running down the steel. "Oh . . . hell." Akane muttered,
disgusted with herself.

Ranko quickly but carefully pulled the vest away from
the broken blade, relieved to find it had penetrated only a few
centimeters into Akane's dense pectoral muscles, missing any
major blood vessels.

"Look OUT!" someone shouted.

The barrel of Genma's revolver jumped as he
triggered a quick shot, exploding the single bulb and plunging
the tunnel into darkness.

"Stop him!" Ukyou started after the man he hated
most in the world.

"Help!" Nabiki was on her knees, beside her father
who had collapsed. "Ukyou, help me!"

The okonomoyaki chef stumbled and slowed. In the
beam of his flashlight he could see Genma vanishing in the
dark, but he could still catch him. Ten years of chasing him. It
could all end now.

"Oh god, I can't stop the bleeding." Nabiki sobbed.

"Put pressure on the wound," Ukyou turned and
sprinted back the way he had come. Ripping off his shirt he
made a pad for the wound, settling beside Nabiki. "I'll elevate
his feet." He yanked the cushion off Nabiki's chair and put
under the older man's feet. "Kodachi!" Ukyou called across
to the Templar, who had pushed Kasumi into a corner,
shielding 'my lady' with her own body. "Get on your cell
phone and call an ambulance."

"POP!" Ranko shouted after the running Genma.
"GODDAMIT!, What th' hell - - "

"Where do you think you're going, Saotome?" Mu Si,
grey with pain and moving stiffly stood over them, flashlight
in one hand, bulky black pistol in the other.

"They got laws against those," Ranko said, shifting to
put himself between the Amazon's gun and Akane.

"Diplomatic Immunity," Ke Lun remarked, coming up
behind him. "Where is Genma headed?"

"How th' hell should I know?" Ranko groused. He
looked at Mu Si's pain ravaged face. "Th' old ghoul fixed ya
pretty good. But if ya was ta get hit again right now, you'd be
in trouble."

"You won't be so much trouble after I shoot you."
Mu Si raised the pistol, and fell, screaming as Akane's leg
lashed out, the heel of her foot catching him in the side of his
knee. Whipping around Akane pinned him to the ground with
an arm across his neck, snatching Mu Si's gun and pressing it
to his temple.

"Go!" Akane snapped at Ranko, who hesitated.
"Idiot --RUN!!" She yelled and the petite redhead vanished
into the darkness.

"You should have told her it was only a Taser, Mu Si"
Ke Lun remarked, holding out her hand for the pistol. Akane
blinked, then handed the stun-gun to Ranko's twin. "Let's
go," the Amazon directed at Mu Si who scrambled to his feet,
rubbing his neck and wincing as his abused body protested.

"I've got watchers at all the exits and," Ke Lun pulled
an orange plastic box from a pocket. "I put a transmitter on
the boy, when he wasn't looking." Bowing minutely she
directed her final remarks at the prostrate Akane, pale faced
and feeling the consequences of her sudden exertion. "It's
unlikely the blade was really poisoned. Genma is too cautious
to use something that might be turned against himself." She
started to go, then added, "I admire loyalty, even if it's
misplaced. You will be welcome among the Em'a Ghalduu',
should you visit."

*****
*****

"For an old fart, you're still pretty fast."

Genma whipped around at the unexpected voice
behind him. "Son!" He exclaimed, a multitude of expressions
flitting across his face. "Thank god you got away. I thought I
was going to have to break you out of their Embassy or
something."

"Nah," Ranko spoke from the shadows. "I got Akane
trained pretty good. She broke me lose."

"Well done boy," Genma said jovially, one hand
gripping the pistol in his pocket.

"You was playin' kind o' rough back there, though."

"Boy," Genma thundered, "What have I always told
you about a good gag?"

"If you don't believe it yourself, why should th'
mark." Ranko smiled sourly. "Sorry, Pop." She paused, "But
you was getting kinda _real_, what with shootin' Souun - - "

"I didn't know the old fool was there," Genma
protested honestly, "he jumped in front of the gun as I fired. I
was aiming for that Ukyou boy's spatula." he added, with
somewhat less veracity.

"Better get rid o' th' gun, Pop." Ranko added, "th'
cops catch you with that an' we'll never make it out o' the
country."

"Right you are boy," Genma judged the light and
distance, then pulled out the pistol, wiped it clean of prints
and tossed it down a drainage grate. "Good thinking."

"You shouldn't have cut Akane," Ranko moved out of
the shadows, "you know I don't like it when you mess with
my stuff."

"An accident, boy," Genma looked sorrowful, "due
entirely to her own clumsiness. She _lunged_ onto the blade.
You know what I've always told you about amateurs and
how unpredictable they are. But you saw how I pulled my
blow. Otherwise she might have been seriously hurt."

"Yeah," Ranko agreed, "She ain't real bright
sometimes." He chuckled mirthlessly. "She believes all that
crap 'bout honor 'n mercy an' shit. I could tell you stories
'bout the bonehead stuff she's pulled."

"Later my boy," Genma replied, fingering the icepick
he'd never had a chance to use. "We need to get out of here.
Better we split up, and meet later," he paused a moment,
"Thailand I think. The Golden Dragon, you remember it?"

"Yeah," Ranko nodded, "But I'm gonna need some
more cash. I didn't get as much as I thought from the Tendou
place."

"Of course," Genma pulled out a handful of gems,
tossing them in his hand, their dazzling sparkle almost
hypnotic. "Half of this is yours," his other hand tightened
around the pick as his son approached. "Haven't I always
taught you that we share and share alike?"

"Yeah Pop," Ranko looked greedily at the priceless
baubles, "you taught me real good."

*****
*****
The chase through the dark wet tunnels had been
interminable. Twice they'd lost the signal and had to fall back
on older but more reliable techniques evolved centuries earlier
when the Amazons had survived as hunters and warriors.

"We're almost on top of the transmitter," Ke Lun
made a hand signal and a dozen Amazon's spread out in a
semi-circle as she continued to monitor the GPS locator.
"Remember, I want him alive. The son too, if you can." A few
more meters and she raised her fist, pumping it up and down
once. The Amazon's moved forward in a silent rush, ready for
anything, - - anything but what they found.

"What the . . ." Mu Si felt his jaw drop at the sight
before him. "Shit . . ." Cursing Mu Si stalked forward in a
killing rage, only to be stopped by Ke Lun.

Ke Lun motioned again and half of her Amazon's
fanned out, searching the side tunnels for the other one. He
hadn't had time to go far. Putting aside what couldn't be
helped she walked up to her quarry, pinned to the ground like
bug on a plate, a tiny transmitter sitting just out of his reach.

"Everything . . ." Pulling futilely at the icepick driven
flush through the center of his palm, he jerked and wriggled
like a worm on a hook. "Took everything and left me." And,
just like a worm he, along with Ke Lun's transmitter, had
been left as bait for the Amazon's.
" . . . left me!" Tears of rage and frustration ran down
Genma's face. " . . .his own father!"


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