After inspecting the building and probing the minds of its occupants for more
than 15 minutes, Nehemiah entered another of the "old haunts" no one knew he
had haunted over the years.
"Lucas, Good to see you again!", said Nehemiah as entered the bookstore.
"Lazarus, I can't believe it's you", exclaimed the elderly, black shopkeeper.
"Been more than 2 years... and you look younger...couldn't look any skinnier
though, you was all wiry muscle and bone the last time you was here."
"Have you been staying out of trouble, Lucas?"
"You know it man. Keepin' my nose clean as a whistle."
"Can we get those first-aid books I left?"
"Sure can Lazarus, lets go fetch 'em."
The old man disappeared into the back of the store, followed closely by
Nehemiah, who met him at a section of removable wall that was situated
underneath a staircase.
"Here you go Laz, just like you left it!", exclaimed the shopkeeper as he laid
a large military duffell bag at Nehemiah's feet. Lucas then replaced the
section of wall and headed for the front of the store to once again take up his
stool behind the cash register.
Nehemiah smiled as he stepped into the bathroom, removing the lock on the bag
and opening his favorite cache. He loved this particular gear more than
anything because it was the best. Only the best was good enough for him now.
He stripped off his simple black robes, leaving only his loincloth. He even
removed the black wig momentarily from his shaved, bald head. Contemplating his
reflection in the mirror he cursed the Confederation dogs that had tried to
break him in prison.
His skin was dark and leathery, his mixed Indo-caucasian ancestral flesh-tone
baked even darker long ago in the wastelands of Terra. A simple loincloth was
his preffered attire ever since his earliest conscious memories of life...his
The old master Hideyoshi had claimed the monks were a true Shao-Lin order.
Whatever they were, they were deadly and hard, but benevolent. They had taken
him in as an orphaned infant and raised him until he could no longer be
Nehemiah had learned their skills, their discipline, had fostered his mental
talents in their care, and was forged into a human who could survive in the
radioactive wastes that the government did not attempt to control. One thing he
would not learn from the order, however, was their misbegotten theology and
Inspecting the corded muscles that covered his 6'7" frame, Nehemiah cursed the
Confederation again, angered that he was denied access to the luxurious, modern
workout facilites at the prison. He had preserved his strength with
old-fashioned sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, running, and the like. Well, the old
ways were usually the best ways, he corrected himself. Reliance on too much
technology could make one soft.
Of course, the other extreme was to ignore useful technology at your own peril
and stupidity, he thought, as he reached into the bag.
He first pulled on the displacer softsuit, an engineering marvel he truly
admired. Instead of trying to build suits of armor that resembled tanks more
than personal suits, some genius had concentrated on a form of protection that
was truly magnificent.
Pulling on his soft boots, he then strapped on his lightweight battle harness.
'Ah, little rocks to throw at crows', he thought, as he attached numerous
grenades to his harness. Pulse, plasma, and incendiary were wonderful ornaments
he happily added to his harness, but he cradled the last two grenades like a
mother would her children.
Torc! The wise men of the day called them mass grenades, but he knew the wise
men of the day were just now reaching and exceeding the personal technology the
Ancients of Terra once possessed before nearly destroying themselves. True
these modern-day engineers far exceeded the Ancients in the ways of travel and
space, but the Terrans had been devising better ways to kill each other for
longer than many cultures had been around. He had used relics the Ancients had
called Torc grenades, and these mass grenades were just as awesome.
He next donned finely-crafted formal robes, fit for any wealthy businessman or
diplomat. These were no ordinary robes, but were in fact a stealth-cloak
disguised as finery, like high-ranking planetary officials and spies sometimes
wore. This suit had, in fact, belonged to an elite Terran special operative
until he attempted to apprehend Thrash about 4 years ago.
After adding the assortment of spare charge cells to his harness, and pocketing
a sizeable amount of unmarked cash, he then concealed his two gravmaces where
he could make them appear in each hand at a moment's notice.
He then destroyed his old robes, wig, sandals, and the empty bag in the store's
After Nehemiah walked to the front of the store, Lucas proclaimed, "Now you
look like a rich fat cat, Lazarus!"
"I feel like a million dollars even if I don't have it. Are you still set from
my previous contributions to your retirement fund?"
"Absolutely, Laz, I owe you, not the other way around."
"Nonsense, Lucas, I will transfer some more your way in a month or so.
Is Oscar still the man I want to see?"
"Yes he is, Laz, Oscar is still your man."
"See you around, Lucas," Nehemiah said as he left the store.
"Thanks, Lazarus, see you whenever I see you." After Nehemiah had left the
store, Lucas muttered to himself. "If I'm still alive when you come around
again. I swear that man doesn't age while I get older and older."
Nehemiah blended into the crowds as he went to see Oscar.