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EXCERPT...

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The four Danes walked out of the trees and stopped short. Dawson stood there, covered in dried blood. The image would give any rational Dane reason to pause. The Danes were staring at Dawson. Logan realized his buddy was the spitting image of the war god Thor as he slowly swung his battle ax back and forth, etching a small figure eight in the air. “They’re going to split up and hit us from four sides,” Logan observed.

“No shit,” Dawson exclaimed “Stop pointing out the obvious, and save your breath for the fight. Attack?”

Logan smiled. “Sounds like a plan to me!” The two men conversed in their native English, giving them an advantage. Logan threw himself down the slope and aimed an ax blow at the head of the nearest Dane. The man wasn’t ready for the attack and was caught slightly off balance. He stumbled getting out of the way, making it easy for Logan to swing the ax in a wide arc to the right, severing most of the man’s spear arm from his torso.

Nearby, Dawson moved lightning quick, swinging his ax in a wide arc at the Dane circling to his right. Dawson’s adversary blocked the ax strike with his shield, but barely. Then Dawson shifted his weight and swung his shield horizontally, using it as a weapon. The Dane, caught focusing on the ax, ate Dawson’s shield edge full in his face and went down. Dawson leaped in to bury his ax in the man’s exposed chest even as another Dane drove his spear deep into Dawson’s right thigh.

There were two more Danes left. Logan danced left then right before bringing his ax upward, hard between the legs of a remaining Dane. As Logan wrenched the ax free, he saw Dawson take the spear thrust his thigh and drop to one knee. Logan watched as in slow motion the last Dane drew back his arm to jam his spear into Dawson’s exposed back.

The ax was thrown with precision. Spinning end over end, it traveled the width of the clearing until it landed with a thud in the back of the Dane’s head. 

The last Dane stopped in mid-motion with a surprised look on his bearded face. Dawson struggled to stand up and in one smooth action pulled his short knife and buried it deep in the last Dane’s throat just to make sure. The Dane fell with Dawson collapsing right on top of him.

Logan ran to his side as Arthos walked calmly across the clearing and retrieved his bloody ax. “Dawson! Wake up!” Logan saw Dawson was close to death. He’d lost enough blood from his first wound to stop most men. Now he lay still, his heart rate dangerously slow. Logan knew they only had to get a little farther up the slope to guarantee there was enough space for their departure to work.

“Time to grow up, boy,” Arthos growled. “Your sweetheart there looks like he’s done for. Better we just leave him behind.”

Logan ignored Arthos and reached down to strip Dawson of his weapons. He dragged the big man upward, straining every muscle in his body. As Arthos took more trophies, Logan shoved and dragged Dawson half the way to the top of the rocks before collapsing. The two men were both suffering from exhaustion, and they were near the end of their endurance. 

Logan passed out for a moment. They were so close to the top. Dawson woke up and sat up with great effort. Time was their enemy, and their luck was running out. Dawson shook Logan until he recovered. Logan struggled to sit up next to Dawson, and that’s when they heard the voices. More Danes moving through the woods in their direction. They knew they didn’t have a prayer fighting off more warriors.

Arthos completed his evil work and joined them. Dawson surveyed the ground around them. There were few trees, and those were at least twenty meters away. He stood up, wobbling a bit, and then reached down to help Logan to his feet. “What do you think? Too tight?” Dawson asked.

Arthos looked around. He was by far the most experienced of the three. “Looks good enough for me. You sure we can’t stand a little longer? Fresh meat approaching, and I’m just getting warmed up!”

Dawson wasn’t sure if Arthos was bluffing or being truthful. The troll-like warrior had fought all day, too. He looked at Logan. “What’s your opinion?”

The rules were strict, but Logan was sure there were safety margins built into every technical procedure. He rotated his wrist, looking at the two-inch-long rectangular device surgically inserted under his skin. He shifted over a little until they were close to each other and exposed his wrist. “This is as far as we need to go, I figure. The only way to know for sure is to activate our bounce right now!” Logan waited for Dawson and Arthos to agree.

“Sure, fuck it. Why not? Same time, right?” Dawson placed his right index finger on the chip embedded in his left wrist.

Arthos sighed. “Yeah, fuck it. We can always come back.”

Logan nodded. “Okay then, we’re ready. Three, two, one…”

The ten Danes burst through the trees and spotted the three Saxons. Their leader shouted a battle cry, all the more intense after seeing his four friends lying dead on the ground with bloody holes where their ears used to be. His fellow Danes shouted in unison as they surged toward the top of the rocks. The fastest of the Danes led the way, pulling his ax from his belt and preparing to throw, but he never released his weapon.

A massive shock wave of moving air ripped across the rocky hilltop, hitting the Danes like a sledgehammer. The ground around them shuddered, and an intense white light, as bright as the sun, burst from the hilltop, bathing the two wounded Saxons in its intense glow. The Danes, knocked flat by the initial shock wave, lay on the ground, shielding their eyes in fear and awe as the white light flared brighter and larger until, as suddenly as it started, it was over. A dead calm reigned over the rocky knoll as the Danes tried to compose themselves. Their leader rubbed his eyes and looked around. The Saxon warriors had vanished.  

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