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Authors: Warren Murphy

Remo The Adventure Begins (7 page)

BOOK: Remo The Adventure Begins
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“Okay,” said Remo. He was smiling. It was fun. It could be fun. Without looking he knew where Chiun was. If he were to be asked in feet and inches he would say Chiun was eight feet, seven inches in front of him. He knew it. And he didn’t question it. All of this came from the knowing that was in the air in his lungs with his breath. He had captured the rhythms of the universe, and had joined them.

The floor beneath him was somewhat soft to the footstep. He heard Chiun jump up two feet and land on something hard, hard as concrete. Remo jumped two feet and landed next to Chiun. Chiun moved forward and then jumped horizontally fifteen feet across this concrete floor. Remo stepped, breathed, jumped and landed fifteen feet forward. He could never jump fifteen feet in high school but this wasn’t just jumping. This was letting the body move where the mind wished. The body knew so much more about itself than the person did. It all came through the breathing. That which should have been alive all the time was alive now. And it was simple.

Yet there was a strange feeling as he spanned those fifteen feet; it was as though the concrete had become exceedingly light, very thin, like clouds beneath him. He opened his eyes to find the reason behind that odd lightness, and when he did, he gasped.

“Holy shit,” screamed Remo. He was looking down forty stories from the concrete railing of a roof. He had been jumping from one building to another with his eyes closed. He felt his legs give way and, terrified, he reached in toward the dark surface of the rooftop behind him. He fell to it, trembling.

“What is your problem?” asked Chiun. “If that railing were on the ground you would strut across it like a peacock.”

“That’s forty stories down. It’s not on the damned ground. It was never on the damned ground. You had me jump from one building to another with my eyes shut.”

“Why are you afraid? Do you want to fall?”

“That is a dumb question,” said Remo. The tar on the roof was sticky. That apparently was the softness he felt beneath his feet on the roof he had left before he jumped to the concrete railing. He stood up.

“Answer the question,” said Chiun.

“No. I don’t want to fall, of course.”

“You fall because you are afraid. Fear is nothing more than a feeling. Do not give it more due than it deserves. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you. So what are you afraid of?”

“Falling forty stories.”

“If you fill your mind with fear, you cannot fill it with the powers you have. And to do that you must breathe. Allow yourself to fall and you will not fall. Up. Come,” said Chiun, and beckoned Remo to the railing.

Remo forced himself up on the rail and avoided looking at the streets below.

“Do not tell yourself the fall is not there because your body knows it is a lie. Your body is becoming Sinanju through your mind. Come. It is easy,” said Chiun, and backing away in the dark robes he seemed to glide backward across the other building. “But remember, do not jump. Move. Believe. You are the power of yourself. You are one.”

Remo took a few steps back to get up a running start until he saw Chiun’s hand raise to stop him.

“I said, do not jump. I said move. Move your body. Move with your body. Look, beyond there over the ocean, dawn arises. That is your sun. You are becoming the sun source. See the sun. Run to the sun. I will never let you fall, neither will the sun or the universe.”

Remo moved. His legs sank his body into the concrete railing, feeling it, knowing it, being one with it in the cool dawn, and he sensed the world, he tasted it on his tongue and on his whole being. The sun was rising before him, and his body was moving. When he landed he saw he was on the far side of the Master of Sinanju. He had jumped past Chiun, across the narrow alley between the buildings and over Chiun. He didn’t even dare calculate how many feet it was, but it certainly would have been some sort of record, if he bothered to record it.

He smiled at Chiun. He had done it.

“Your elbows,” said Chiun. “They were too wide.”

“I would have set an Olympic record if someone were judging me.”

“I was judging you. You failed,” said Chiun.

“I’m not dead. I didn’t fall. I jumped I don’t know how many feet. Did you see what I did?”

“Most certainly. You let your elbows fly. I teach. And I teach and I teach. I give the best days of my life to you, and what do I get? Flying elbows. Now again.”

Remo went back to the other roof, keeping the elbows in.

“All right?” said Remo.

“Of course, all right. I told you how to do it,” said Chiun.

Remo was not certain when it happened, but he was sure one night when he woke up in a sweat.

“What is the matter?” said Chiun. Chiun was in the blue velvet sleeping kimono. He had tried to get Remo to wear a kimono but the young man didn’t seem to be able to adjust to it, and besides, a kimono on a white might attract attention and that would violate the peculiar wishes of the black Con McCleary and his superior, Harold W. Smith, equally if not more insane.

“I couldn’t remember my real name,” said Remo. “I couldn’t remember it. All I could hear about my name was that it was Remo because you were saying it was Remo.”

“No,” said Chiun. “You were saying it was Remo. Besides, who gave you your other name?”

“I think my parents. I never knew them. I was left at an orphanage. The nuns who raised me told me the name was pinned to my diaper.”

“Ah,” said Chiun in the darkness. “Discovery. I will tell you who your mother and father are, but you must be quiet within yourself to understand.”

When Chiun could hear the silence of the large room, and knew there was silence within the young Remo, he spoke.

“Some say a mother and a father are those who give knowledge and love. Others say they are those who pass on life through their bodies to you. But I will tell you who must be your mother and father. For you as for all of us, it can only be one person.”

“Me?” said Remo.

“Yes,” said Chiun.

His name was Remo.


arold W. Smith moved efficiently. He had always moved efficiently. In fact, he had been so excruciatingly reliable ever since childhood that one of his teachers once turned to him and asked if he could possibly act like a child for a day.

“In what way, ma’am?” asked the young Smith.

“Harold. Do I have to instruct you on how to be a child? Break a rule or something. At least mess your shirt like the other boys.”

“Where do you want me to mess it?” asked Harold.

“I give up,” said the teacher. “If you do it on my instructions, you are not being a boy. Do you understand, Harold?”

Harold Smith understood. Even in a New England town hardly noted for free expression, Harold was considered rigid. But he was not a fool. He would not drink until he was two years into the army because the law said he could not drink until age twenty-one. He honored stoplights at three
at lonely intersections. How Harold Smith joined American intelligence services early in his life was somewhat of a mystery. Perhaps, as rarely happens, someone knew what they were doing, because Harold W. Smith had the sort of mind that could organize an avalanche. He saw order in all sorts of chaos. His rock-solid New England honesty enabled him to see things clearly. No reports were ever fudged for his advancement. This honesty would not let him, as happened to so many intelligence operatives, deceive himself. Thus when a now-dead President knew America needed an organization dangerously free of almost all controls, one man in the entire intelligence establishment stood out. Harold W. Smith.

The only one fit to run an organization outside the law was the one who had the most respect for the law.

As a result, admitting that the organization needed a killer arm was perhaps the most painful decision in Smith’s career. And he was still not sure that reliable Con McCleary had not hung them all out on a limb. Smith had seen too many men killed at a mile’s distance . . . blown up, shot, bombarded . . . to have faith in hand-to-hand combat, no matter what McCleary said. Yet they had to have it.

Smith glanced at the computer. There were still some problems with access to defense expenditures. Then he spotted the problem source. A computer at Grove Industries had blocked access to a military file. Regular auditing procedures by other agencies were being stalled. There was only one way to get past that kind of high-tech blockade: someone had to physically enter Grove offices, get access to their computers, and find the bug. Only then could Smith figure out how to remove it and let the government go about its business while making sure it wasn’t robbed blind. Smith would send McCleary to do the job when McCleary had a free moment, which should be soon. Then Smith turned to the most important matter of the day. The new man.

McCleary had promised miracles. Smith by his nature did not believe in miracles. He believed in reality. But reality too was a very modern bullet that could not hit the Master of Sinanju. According to McCleary, the former policeman had fired at least three shots at Chiun at close range.

“Will Remo be able to do that?” Smith had asked.

“Speak to Chiun yourself,” McCleary had said. He had said this with a smile. “But one thing. I want to be there when you two meet.”

And so the day had come when Smith would see what America had bought with a submarine hold of gold. It was as though Smith was attending a parent-teacher conference for the new hired hand.

Chiun entered in a radiant gold kimono, ignoring all of the computers.

He’s very old, thought Smith. McCleary entered behind Chiun, his smile becoming a grin. Smith had allocated fifteen minutes for the meeting. Ten minutes for McCleary to be late, and five minutes to get a summary of Remo’s progress. Smith glanced down at his watch. The second hand arrived on the twelve at the minute the meeting was supposed to begin. And so did Chiun. But the man wore no wristwatch. His nails were long and graceful, the face parchment old, the hair but wisps of white.

It was five seconds past the moment scheduled for the meeting when Chiun’s delicate fingers probed the air in greeting. It was a half-hour later when Chiun stopped glorifying Smith as an emperor, saluting Smith’s power, divine right to rule, pledging the loyalty of the House of Sinanju to the glory of Smith’s name and descendants. All the while McCleary’s grin kept getting bigger.

“He thinks you hired him to place you on the throne. He doesn’t understand what we do,” said McCleary.

Chiun gave the whiskey-smelling servant a disdainful look.

“An assassin must understand an emperor’s secret wishes as well as his proclaimed ones,” said Chiun. “An emperor and his assassin never have servants in between.”

“Yes, well,” said Smith, clearing his throat and shooting a single sharp dirty look at McCleary’s enjoyment. “I want to thank you for your services and we certainly are going to make use of your pupil. I would like to ask when you think he will be ready.”

“With speed, with sureness, and with total dedication to your everlasting glory, Emperor Smith.”

“I think I had better make this clear now. Master of Sinanju,” said Smith, “I am not an emperor, nor do I wish to be.”

“Of course, you are a loyal subject, but when you will be called upon after the most unfortunate death of the current emperor, you will serve as emperor as faithfully as you have served as subject,” said Chiun and gave a knowing wink.

He sensed the machines around him, and saw the big American who smelled of alcohol and meat hold his sides to contain laughter. This did not bother Chiun. A fool’s humor was meaningful only to another fool. Chiun could see clearly this Smith did not heed the whiskey drinker. A wise and sober emperor. Always good to work for. They made correct decisions, and left their empires in prosperity, thus bestowing further glory on the house of assassins that enabled their reigns to survive and thrive.

“Chiun,” said Smith, “America is a democracy. We elect our leaders by voting. Every person over a certain age can vote. They select who will run the country. We have no emperors.”

“As you say. Quite so,” said Chiun. “What do you call the person you decide will run the country?”

“We call him President.”

Chiun nodded. So that was the American word for emperor. Of course he could not quite believe something so absurd as people selecting their own leaders without an army at their back, but if Harold W. Smith whose gold was good said America chose its emperors that way and not by heredity or by the more reasonable and controlled methods of assassination, then Chiun would not argue. President it was. Democracy chose him, and Chiun was here only to serve. He would be ready when Chiun assisted Democracy in making him the new President.

“Hail President Smith,” said Chiun. “We will soon remove the usurper from the President’s throne.”

“On second thought, call me emperor if you have to,” said Smith. “When do you think Remo will be ready?”

“He progresses extraordinarily well. The question is how quickly can his body learn. After all, he has lived in such a bad environment for so long.”

“In weeks, what are we talking about?”

“You want to know in weeks?” asked Chiun.

“Yes, weeks.”

“All right,” said Chiun, the longer fingernails working the air as though an invisible abacus lay before it. “If we use shortcuts, if we press the training, if his body performs as it seems to be performing, we can get you an assassin in a quick seven hundred weeks.”

“That’s fourteen years,” said Smith.

“You said you wanted the time in weeks,” said Chiun. He looked to the other barbarian. McCleary was rolling on the floor.

“What can we get in a month?”

“A month?” Chiun thought a moment. “Nothing you would want to carry your name to glory.”

“Could we get a man for a job in a month?”

“I wouldn’t if I were you. He shows promise. But a promise is not a deed. You could well kill him if you use him too early.”

“A year?”

“Well, he has started late. A true assassin should begin at seven years of age. Still, he is a fast learner and I have given the best of Sinanju to his meager body.”

BOOK: Remo The Adventure Begins
6.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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