The Red Circle stronghold Zemiyah Zedek: a cauldron of violence and
lust hidden deep in the desert sands. Here Kak and the wily Abdullah
direct the kidnapping of dozens of young girls, the first victims of a
massive white slavery empire. When the teenage niece of the American
Consul disappears, it's up to K'ing and The Moor to get her
back—before Kak plunges all of North Africa into war!
“You are a fool. You dare to challenge me? It would be a joke,
nothing more. But,” he continued, swinging his left leg in a smooth arc
over the head of his horse to the ground, “my fighters have not been
amused in many days. You are a fool, but a privileged one. You will be
fortunate enough to be killed by a king. Come!”
Bob squeezed Kerry's hand and, before she could grab him, he had
dropped to the ground. “I have your word of honor as a chieftain of
these people”—he indicated the throng of leering horsemen—“that if I
win you will release us all?”
Kak bowed deeply. “Of course.”
Then he beckoned to his riders, and the horde of cloaked figures
wheeled their horses into a wide circle around their leader and his
challenger. The plain was silent but for the crackling of flames and
the whimpers of the injured. Kak grandly unclasped his cloak and hurled
it into the ready hands of a lieutenant. Then he bowed again, smiled
thinly, and waited.
Bob's first rush was met with a light judo sidestep that sent the
young man whirling into the dust. A chorus of laughter arose from the
ranks of the horsemen. Kak bowed to them lavishly, and the laughter
Now he took the Stance of the Cat. As Bob picked himself up for a
second attempt, Kak let loose a vicious Lightning Kick that just grazed
the young man's face and sent him staggering backward in surprise.
Blood trickled from a long slice that the sharpened steel toe of Kak's
shoe had made in his cheek.
Kerry screamed. Bob turned toward her, and Kak shot out another
Lightning Kick. It drew a thin line of blood on the other cheek. The
horsemen cheered again.
Now their leader took the Stance of the Horse, and raised his hands
in mimicry of the American boxer's classic guard.
Bob took the bait and came out swinging.
The series of left jabs that had made Bob Blaine captain of the Yale
boxing team five years before was no more than a joke to Lin Fong's
renegade pupil. He batted them away with lazy Rock Smash Parries as if
they were so many troublesome flies.
Bob circled right, looking for an opening. A solid right cross met
Kak's Whipping Branch Parry. A left jab drew another Rock Smash Parry.
Another right, and another Whipping Branch.
A left, and a backhanded Hammer Blow cracked a finger.
The lethal one-two combination was to Kak a mildly amusing game. As
Bob became more and more excited and began to dance in tighter circles,
Kak stood his ground firmly, and casually deflected everything that was
thrown at him. He looked as if he were playing ping-pong.
For five minutes Kak enjoyed himself in this manner, building the
tension, setting his opponent up for the climax. His cadre were
enjoying the show immensely.
Kerry's screams were becoming more insistent. “Leave him alone,
please. I'll do whatever you want!”
Kak waited until the young man showed the first signs of real fear,
the first indication that he knew he was about to die, and then he set
him up for the spectacular finale. The horses stamped nervously, as if
they like their masters knew what was coming.
A Double Hammer Blow threw Bob off balance for the second Kak needed
to drop back a yard and brace himself. Then, like a horrid mythical
beast, he threw his feet high into the air and shot a flying Double
Dragon Stamp toward Bob's head. His deadly heels could not have missed
by more than a half-inch on either side, as he twisted in mid-air and
executed a perfect, fluid somersault which left him, as he landed, once
again directly in front of his opponent.
It was a crass piece of showmanship, and the crowd of riders cheered
as they might cheer an especially adept belly dancer. But it had the
desired effect: it showed Bob that he was done for. Kak was forcing him
to dance with his own death before he died.
But Bob Blaine was no Taoist, not even a renegade one, and he was not
accustomed to thinking of death as something to be taken lightly. He
panicked. Desperately he lunged at Kak's groin, fists flailing.
Kerry, horror-struck and speechless, saw Kak almost smirk as, lightly
as a bullfighter, he rose to his toes and twirled away from the attack.
Bob was left standing along in the middle of the circle. Kak in a
graceful glide across the makeshift arena had left him stranded,
panting with fear, on a dais of humiliation before the assembled
Kak stood quietly at the rim of the circle of horses, and placed his
hands on his hips.
His audience was with him. The riders shifted in their saddles,
anxious for the finale. Even the survivors of the wreck, still atop the
smoking train, had quieted and were rapt on the fight. Kerry huddled in
the arms of an old Arab woman who stroked her hair softly and tried to
avert her eyes from the approaching butchery.
Kak had performed the preliminary passes, and now he was going in for