I Believe

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Welcome Part 2

Frank, Jake, Corporal, John, Charles, and Nick stand outside and wait for Doug, Roger, and Shawn to come back out. They are exhausted, sore, and bloody, especially Charles. They have injuries from the fight with the wolves and the bears. Frank, Jake, Corporal, and Nick all have minor cuts and bruises from the fight. Since they were not in the fight with the wolves none of their injuries are major. The worst injury between Frank, Jake, Corporal, and Nick is a gash on Corporal’s forehead from a tree branch. Because they were in the fight against the Wolves, Charles and John’s injuries are much worse. Both of them have multiple bite and claw marks on their arms and legs. John has a deep cut on his arm from a wolf bite. The wolf almost bit John’s arm off. Charles is in the worst condition of everyone.

“Hey Charles, how are you still standing?” Nick asks.

His clothes are stained with blood. Some of the blood belongs to the wolf he blasted with his shotgun, but most of it his. The blood that he gave Lucas only made it worse. Charles has lost so much blood that he is having a hard time standing. The others think that he is about to pass out.

“God’s looking out for me.”

Out of the corner of his eye Charles sees Zathora and another Dog coming towards them. Charles stands up when he sees Zathora coming. He pretends that he doesn’t feel any pain when Zathora walks up. When she gets close enough, Charles notices that the cut on her forehead where the bear hit her has already been stitched up. But she still looks a little woozy from the hit.

“If any of you have injuries, please follow with us.” Zathora says to them.

All of them have injuries, some are just worse than others. Charles and John, the two with the worse injuries, are the only ones who follow Zathora and the other Dog. Frank, Jake, Corporal, and Nick stay back. They don’t think that their wounds are serious enough for medical attention.

“I said if any of you have any injuries to follow us. I do not care how minor your injuries are.” Zathora angrily orders.

Frank, Jake, Nick, and Corporal instantly jump up and follow her. Almost immediately Charles starts having difficulty keeping up with the others because of a deep cut on his leg and left side. He’s been too busy taking care of Lucas and the others to take care of his. Charles tries to follow Zathora, but the pain from his leg is not making it easy for him. Zathora looks back and sees that Charles is having difficulty keeping up. The medical building is on the other side of the village. Zathora knows that it will be difficult for Charles to make it there by himself.

“Hey Sampson one of the humans is falling behind. I am going to try to help him. Can you lead the others to the hospital? Zathora asks the other Rottweiler.

“Sure no problem”

Zathora walks back to Charles who has stopped to rest. She can tell that he is in need of immediate medical attention.

“Let me help you.” Zathora says.

Charles looks like he is barely conscious. He hardly acknowledges Zathora.

“Thanks”

Charles is not afraid to ask for help when he needs it. Zathora grabs Charles’ arm and gently lifts him up. It takes everything she has to carry Charles. Zathora lets Charles lean on her shoulder to support him. Even though Charles is four inches taller and about a hundred pounds heavier (muscle –wise), Zathora has the strength to support him. This is one of the times that Zathora is glad that she is stronger and taller than the other Rottweilers.

On the way to the building, Charles notices a difference between some of the Dogs.

“Can I ask you a question?” Charles asks.

“Sure, go ahead.”

“Why are most of the Dogs wearing black armor while only a few of you have black cloaks?”

“It represents the status of your skills. A Dog that wears armor means that they are in the army, or what you would call “Infantry”. They are our soldiers. A black cloaks means that their skills are extraordinary. We are a special fighting force. We are sent on dangerous missions like the one we just did today.” Zathora explains.

“So ya’ll are like the Special Forces.”

“Yes, we are called the Zioners.”

“Why do you call yourselves that?” Charles asks.

“To honor a small group of brave heroes that defended Christianity over two thousand years ago.”

“I’ve heard of a Jewish group called the Zioners that existed around that time. I know their name and that’s about it.”

Zathora and Charles don’t talk for a little bit. She keeps trying to think of a question to ask but can’t come up with anything. Zathora stops thinking when she notices that Charles is acting a little dizzy. She knows that it is from blood lost. Zathora focuses on carrying Charles. It doesn’t’ last long. Zathora’s curiosity gets the better of her.

“So did you serve in the military?”

“Yes, I served in the Infantry for a few years.”

“That explains a lot.” Zathora replies.

“Yeah, well this is one the few times I’ve used it where I didn’t have people shooting back at me.”

“You’ve seen a lot of battles haven’t you.”

“Yes, most of my combat experience is small firefights and skirmishes. I was in a few big battles. Unfortunately that’s when I had my medical work cut out for me.” Charles answers.

“So, you know a lot about medical work.”

“My knowledge doesn’t go that far beyond stabilizing people. Since I was often in the middle of battle, I didn’t have the equipment to perform anything too serious. What I did on Lucas really pushed my knowledge and skills to the limits.”

“What you did on Lucas was impressive.” Zathora asks. “So are you still in the military?”

“No, I’ve been out of the military for seven years now.”

“Why did you leave?”

“I got shot in the hand.” Charles answers and shows Zathora his left hand.

The back of Charles’ hand has a small hole where the bullet hit. It does not look like much. But Charles turns his hand over and its appearance almost freaks her out. The hole is three times bigger. It looks like the bullet disintegrated when it hit and tore Charles’s palm up. To make it worse, to Zathora, the bullet seems to have blown off Charles’s middle finger. It is smaller than the others and it looks disfigured.

“Did the bullet blow your middle finger off?”

“Yes, the doctors sewed it back on though.”

“Does it hurt?”

“Occasionally it does. It is difficult for me to close at times.” Charles answers.

Zathora feels Charles suddenly go limp. She reacts quickly and catches him. It takes everything she has to keep him from falling to the ground. Charles doesn’t pass out; he just lost all the strength in his legs. Zathora quickly sets Charles on a nearby bench to rest. She knows that he cannot make it to the hospital on his own. He needs to get the hospital immediately. Zathora wants to run to the hospital but Charles’ condition is too severe to leave him on his own. Out of the corner of her eye, Zathora sees two Rottweilers running up to help.

“What can we do to help?”

“I need you to run to the hospital and tell them that we have a man in need of serious medical attention. Tell them that he needs an immediate blood transfusion.” Zathora answers and reaches into his pocket and pulls out the information that has Charles’ medical information on it. “Give them this when you get there.”

“Yes ma’m” The two Rottweilers answer in unison.

The two Rottweilers take off running towards the hospital. Zathora stays close to Charles to keep him awake. She knows that Charles will probably not wake up if he falls asleep. Zathora’s primary goal is to keep him awake.

“Can I ask you another question?” Charles asks.

“Yeah sure”

“I’ve noticed that you’re much taller than almost everyone here. Why is that?”

“My father was from Rottweiler clan and my mother was member of the Rhodesian Ridgeback clan.” Zathora answers.

“So I’m guessing that the Rhodesian Ridgebacks are bigger than Rottweiler’s?”

“They are the biggest physically. You are just a little bit taller than the average Rhodesian Ridgeback.”

“Really, and I thought that I was a giant compared to you guys.” Charles jokingly replies.

“You are a giant compared to most Dogs.”

“Alright, so how many clans are there?”

“There are five clans: Anatolian Shepherds, Rottweilers, Greyhound, Mastiffs, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. We are named after the Dog breeds that we resemble.” Zathora answers.

“That’s interesting. Were you guys always Dogs?”

“No, our ancestors were humans.”

Charles is showing all the signs of too much blood loss. He starts acting a little confused, like he doesn’t know where he is or how he got there.

“You said your name is Zathora right?”

“Yes, I told you that already.”

“Sorry I’m not good with names. But yours should be easily to remember. It’s a pretty name, it matches your perfectly.

Zathora blushes at Charles comment. She is used to guys commenting her beauty, but there is something different about Charles. Zathora can tell by looking in his eyes that he is an honest, kind, and a gentle giant. She knows that Charles is confused and that his comment probably doesn’t mean anything. However she can tell by looking in his eyes that Charles is completely serious about it.

“Thanks Charles.”

“You’re welcome”

At that moment six Rottweilers show up to help Charles. In less than a minute, they have blood transfusion in his arm and are carrying him to the hospital. Zathora stays close to Charles the whole time. Normally, Zathora would have just walked away, but she is drawn to Charles. She has never felt this way about a guy before. Charles slips in and out of consciousness twice on the way there. He is unconscious when they are setting up the blood transfusion. But he wakes up as soon as the doctor inserts the needle into his arm. Charles, who is confused, panics. For safety reasons the doctor strapped Charles’ arms, legs, and to the bed. But Charles almost pulls the straps out. Zathora grabs Charles hand and tries her best to comfort him.

“Where am I? What happened?”

“You passed out before we made it to the hospital. We tried to start the blood transfusion but you woke up before we could start.” Zathora calmly answers.

Charles relaxes and lies back down on the bed. He sees the restraints on his arms and legs.

“Are these restraints really necessary?” Charles asks.

“Yes, you freaked out when you woke up and almost broke the straps.”

Charles looks at the metal bands holding the straps. They are bent and almost broken.

“Yeah my bad.”

Doug, Roger, and Shawn stand in the center of the building. It doesn’t take them long to figure out this building is a church. The inside of it is a lot different than the outside. The outside looks no different than any of the other buildings. The inside looks like the inside of a catholic church. They are amazed on the beauty of it. Words alone cannot describe the beauty of the church. It is quite obvious that it took to build. The windows are stained glass art of Bible stories. The pews appear to be casted in solid gold and have soft silk pillows aligned on the seats. The walls are covered in twelve ancient tapestries telling the stories of the twelve disciples. By the altar are scrolls of seven virtues: honor, courage, commitment, honesty, faith, loyalty, and strength. By the altar are pieces of armor representing the Armor of God. Each of the pieces of armor has writing on it telling what part of the Armor of God it represents: the Helmet of Salvation; the Breastplate of Righteousness; the Shoes of Peace; the Belt of Truth; the Shield Faith; and the Sword of the Spirit. This place is even more amazing than King Solomon’s throne. Doug, Roger, and Shawn can feel God’s presence in here. While the rest of the building is covered in art, the altar itself is simple. It is just a wooden Cross. Doug and Roger instantly get the message. It shows that even something that looks insignificant (the Cross) can have a powerful impact. That one person can change the whole world.

“Wait here” Judas orders.

Judas walks to the altar where another Dog is kneeling at the foot of the Cross, praying to God. The Dog is wearing a gold cloak. Even though Doug, Roger, and Shawn can only see this Dog’s back, but they all notice a long scar on his right arm. The Dog just sits there praying when Judas walks up to him. The two Dogs have a quiet talk that Doug, Roger, and Shawn cannot hear. Doug, Roger, Shawn, and Judas stand there by the door and wait for him. Finally, after what seems like forever, Judas approaches them again. From a distance Doug notices that Judas has the same upset look like before.

“What did we do this time?” Doug asks.

“No weapons or hats are allowed in here.” Judas says to Doug, Roger, and Shawn.

“You should have told us that before we came in here.” Doug says.

“I forgot about it. You guys are Christians right?”

“Yes all three of us are. What does that have to do with it?” Roger asks.

“I thought that it would be obvious to you guys to take your hats and weapons off before entering a church.”

“It’s been a long day. We are all exhausted. It slipped all of our minds.” Shawn replies.

Doug, Roger, and Shawn take off all their weapons and put them in the weapons box by the door. All three of them have several guns and knives on them. It takes a little bit for them to get all their weapons off and on the table. Doug is the only one wearing a hat so he takes it off. He pulls the band that is keeping his hair in a pony tail off. His hair falls down to its full length, past his shoulders. Doug, Roger, Shawn, and Judas stand and wait for the Dog by the Cross to finish praying.

Charles flinches when the doctor pours the antibiotic liquid into his wound. The liquid immediately starts a burning sensation in his leg. It feels like his leg is on fire. It takes everything he has not to scream.

“This stuff burns like sulfuric acid. What is it?” Charles shouts.

“It is a liquid that we use to clean out wounds.” The doctor replies.

“Yeah I can tell that by the burning sensation, but what do you put in it?”

“I am not allowed to tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Because, this stuff can kill you if you miss use it. Several years ago, a young boy made some of his own, and he accidently drank it. Needless to say his death wasn’t quick and painless. I was there, I saw it.” Zathora answers.

“I can understand that.”

The doctor finishes pouring the burning liquid into Charles’ wounds. Zathora hands Charles a cloth to bite on to keep from screaming. Charles’ relaxes when the doctor stops pouring the liquid into his arm. The liquid stops burning within ten seconds of being poured onto his arm. Charles relaxes once the burning stops.

“Okay, I have to go help Lucas with his injuries before I can fix you. Zathora, do you mind to watch him until I get back?” The doctor asks.

“Sure, I don’t mind at all.” Zathora answers.

The doctor walks to John’s cot leaving Charles and Zathora alone. Charles lies down on the cot. The cot is too small for Charles. He stands seven inches taller the average Rottweiler. He has to bend his knees to keep himself from falling off the cot.

“So, what about your battle experience?” Charles asks Zathora trying to break the silence.

Zathora pauses and thinks about it. She tries to think on how to tell him.

“Well, I do not have had as experience in combat as you. However, I’ve done a lot of covert work.” Zathora explains.

“And you can’t tell me anything about it right?”

“I could but then I would have to kill you.”

“Now you’re starting to sound like Doug.” Charles says, sarcastically.

“Who is Doug?”

“He is the one who killed the bear.”

At that point, the doctor comes back. He has some good news.

“Ok Zathora, you will be glad to know that Lucas is going to be okay. He will make a full recovery in a couple of weeks. What your friend here did to him saved his life.”

“That is very good news. Katrina will be happy to hear that. By the way, how is she?”

“She will be okay. She is sleeping right now. Whatever you guys did to her really helped. I had to do almost nothing for her. She will be running and jumping again in two days.”

“What about John?” Charles asks.

“Your friend’s injuries were not too bad. However the bite on his arm was the worst. He is lucky that he didn’t lose it.”

“What about him?” Zathora asks as she points to Charles.

“He has cut several cuts, but they are not that deep. He will need at least fifty stitches though. But he is really lucky that got the blood transfusion going when we did. He would not have lasted much longer.” The doctor answers.

“I expected it to be a lot worse.” Charles says then turns to Zathora. “I owe you my life.”

“How do you figure that?”

“I saved your life once while you’ve saved mine twice.”

All of the sudden, Charles started feeling really tired. He almost fell back on to the cot. The feeling hit him really fast, he isn’t prepared for it. Charles grabs a hold of the side of the bed to keep from falling off.

“Do you feel really tired right now?” The doctor asks.

“Yeah, I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes open. What did you do to me?” Charles asks.

“That is what the stuff that we poured on your leg does to you. It acts as a sedative. It is much easier for us to operate if you are asleep.” The doctor says.

Charles tries to argue, but he falls asleep before he can say anything. He plops down on the cot with a loud thud. Charles starts snoring within seconds.

“That never gets old.” Zathora says.

“It is always funny.” The doctor adds then turns to Zathora. “You do not have to be here anymore, we will take good care of him.”

“Ok, will he be better by tomorrow evening?” Zathora asks.

“Oh yes, by the time he wakes up he will be feeling much better.”

“Good, I guess I will see him later then. Can you point me to Katrina’s room?”

“Down the hall, first room on the right. Be quiet when you enter. Last time I check she was asleep.”

Zathora slowly and quietly walks to Katrina’s room. She doesn’t want to wake Katrina. To her surprise, when she opens the door Katrina is wide awake. Katrina is sitting up in the bed drinking water wide awake.

“Come in Zathora”

Zathora walks in and sits down in the chair by the bed.

“How is the leg?”

“It stills hurts a little bit. The doctor said that it will be healed in a couple of days. I will be able to leave here tomorrow afternoon. How does your head feel?”

“I am still a little dizzy from the blow but I am okay.” Zathora replies. “This has been an interesting day, getting attacked by a pack of wolves and then by a pair of bears. I swear I thought that we were going to die.”

“I knew we that we would make it.” Katrina replies.

“I am just glad to be alive. At least we know that one of them is the chosen one.”

“I already know who it is.”

Zathora stares blankly at Katrina.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I would not joke about something like that.” Katrina replies.

“Alright how do you know who it is?”

“The tattoo on his neck and the prosthetic arm.”

“Which one is he? I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy helping Charles stabilize Lucas.” Zathora asks.

“Doug, the one who killed the Bear.”

Doug, Roger, Shawn, and Judas wait for about five minutes for the Dog to finish praying. While the wait, Shawn asks Judas the same question about the cloaks that Charles asked Zathora. Judas explains it to them as simply as he can. When the Dog finally finishes praying, Judas signals for Doug, Roger, and Shawn to stay back. Judas approaches the Dog and has a few quiet words with him. Doug cannot hear what Judas is saying to him, but he can see Judas pointing and occasionally looking at him. He can’t tell if what Judas is saying about him is positive or negative. Finally, Judas signals for Doug, Roger, and Shawn that they can come forward.

“Welcome to Jeremiah my friends. My name is Griffin, the chief of the Rottweilers.” The Dog says.

Doug, Roger, and Shawn bow their heads just like Judas told them to.

“Which one of you is the leader?” Griffin asks.

“I am” Doug answers.

“No offense but I expected one of them to be the leader.” Griffin says pointing to Roger and Shawn.

Roger and Shawn are both in the fifties while Doug is in his late twenties.

“I know, but it is my idea to come here.” Doug replies.

“How did you get the idea?” Griffin asks.

“I received a dream from God telling me to come here.”

“And you obeyed his command without hesitation?”

“Yes sir” Doug answers.

“You did the right thing.”

“What do you mean by you volunteered?” Judas asks trying to get to the point.

“I asked the Colonel from my old unit for permission to come here. He temporarily reinstated me back into the Rangers.”

“You were in the Rangers?” Griffin replies.

“Yes sir.”

“I hate to be assertive but what is your mission here Doug?” Judas asks.

“Judas stop, I am trying to be friendly with them. You are not helping.”

“It’s alright sir. All my Colonel asked me to do is just report back to him what happens while we’re up here. We’re not here to spy on you.”

“I did not think you were. So how is the ride up the vine?” Griffin asks changing the subject.

“Well, it took us almost a full day to climb up the vine. We were exhausted.” Doug answers.

“I hate to tell you this but there is a much easier way up the vines. There is a small hole in the base of the vine. All you had to do is just crawl through to the center. There are stairs that lead all the way up. And you wouldn’t have had to climb up out the cave.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Shawn almost shouts.

“No I am not. But you are definitely not the first to miss it.” Griffin says while trying not to laugh.

“I got a question. How long have you guys been hovering above our planet?” Roger asks.

“Around two thousand years” Griffin answers.

“Wow that is a long time. You guys haven’t been spying on us have you?” Shawn says.

Roger and Doug both punch Shawn in the shoulder. His question was really inappropriate for this situation.

“No, we have not been spying on you.” Griffin answers. Shawn’s question does not seem to bother him.

“Why did you stay in fight with us against the bears when you could have left?” Judas asks.

“Judas please stop, these men risked their lives to help you when they didn’t have to. If anything Judas, they deserve an apology from you.” Griffin shouts at Judas.

“I don’t blame him for being an assertive. He was trying to protect your daughter and we were making it difficult for you. I don’t mind answering his question. We stayed for three reasons. One, Katrina saved my life from the wolves. Two, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I had left you. And three, I would be surprised if you didn’t chase after me if I had left them.” Doug answers.

“You are right about all three. I can see that you are all good man, and tough warriors, but you Doug, you are a strong leader.” Griffin says.

“Thank you sir.”

“You can call me Griffin. Now before we discuss anything else, I have a few things I want to talk to you about. Set a few ground rules if you know what I mean.”

“Okay, it’s probably a good idea for there to be a few rules. Some of my guys are a little rowdy.” Doug replies.

“Can you control them?” Judas asks.

“Yes, I have their respect and they are all afraid of me.”

“Good to know.”

“So what are the rules?” Roger asks.

“I only have three. No foul languages, nothing inappropriate, and treat us as you want to be treated. Your men follow those three rules and we will have no problem getting along.” Griffin answers.

“Sounds easy enough” Doug replies.

“Are there any of your guys that we need to worry about?” Judas asks.

“Nick, ya’ll have to keep a close eye on him. But if any of my guys give you any trouble just tell me and I’ll do my best to solve it.”

“Glad to hear it. But I want you to know that if any of your guys cause any trouble I will hold you three responsible.” Griffin says.

“Sounds fair to me” Doug and Shawn answer in unison.

Griffin, Judas, Doug, Roger, and Shawn negotiate for thirty minutes. They establish two more rules for the humans. The first rule is that the humans are allowed to carry their knives and one of their pistols. However their rifles and big weapons must stay in their tents. Doug, Roger, and Shawn know that Charles, Frank, Jake, Jack, and Nick will not be too happy about that. But they know that the rule is for the safety of both the humans and the Rottweilers. The second rule is that while Doug, Roger, Shawn, Charles, Mark, Frank, Jack, Jake, Nick, and Corporal are here, they will have to stay within the Rottweiler village boundaries. They will have to ask for permission to leave.

“Is there anything else we need to know?” Doug asks after thirty minutes.

“Yes there is something very important that you need to know. We Rottweilers have a tradition where we welcome newcomers to our village. We have a small welcome celebration. We do it to show kindness to everyone who enters our village, and to get to know our visitors. It’s not a big celebration. A hundred is the most that will probably be there. There will be some music and dancing.” Griffin answers.

“Okay, do you expect anything from us?” Roger asks.

“Just to introduce your men and give a brief summary. Beyond that we do not expect much. We usually have the leader of the group give the introduction. You can even play your own music if you like.”

“Cool, my guys will definitely enjoy that. What time does the celebration start?”

“It will be a week from today. I am giving you guys a week to relax and heal. The celebration will start tomorrow as soon as the sun sets. I just have one rule for the celebration: try to keep your men under control and on their best behavior please.”

Alright, is there anything else?”

“No, I think that is it.” Griffin answers. “Are you going to need help getting your campsite moved over here?”

“Yes sir, without a doubt.” Roger answers.

“Ok, I will send some men to help you.” Griffin replies and then turns to Judas. “Judas, get Matthew, James, Daniel, and Nathaniel together and tell them to go and help our friends move their campsite.”

“Consider it done”

Judas turns to leave the church but Griffin stops him before he is even out the door.“After you tell Matthew, James, Daniel, and Nathaniel what to do I want you to go to the hospital and get yourself looked at.”

“Yes Griffin” Judas replies.

Doug, Roger, and Shawn turn to leave with Judas. Griffin stops Doug by the door.

“I need to talk to you, alone.”

“Ok” Doug replies then turns to Roger and Shawn. “I want you guys to get the camp set up without me.”

Roger and Shawn leave the church and follow Judas leaving Doug and Griffin alone in the church. Griffin walks to the altar, Doug follows behind him.

“So Doug, what do you think of this place?”

“It’s absolutely amazing. I like the message it portrays.”

“And what is the message?” Griffin curiously asks.

“That all it takes is one man to change the world. That something insignificant can have tremendous affects.”

“That is an impressive assessment.”

“Was I right?”

“Yes”

Griffin doesn’t talk for a few moments. He walks up close to the altar like he is expecting something. Doug stands back and waits for Griffin to say something. He doesn’t say anything because he knows that Griffin is thinking about something important. Griffin is silent for so long that Doug starts getting a little anxious.

“I want to be serious with you Doug. We Dogs take our religion very serious. I want you to know that we do not put up with people who make fun our religion.” Griffin finally says.

“I understand what you mean. I believe in God with all my heart, so do most of my men. But it is important for you to know that throughout most of my life I did not believe. If you went back two years ago you would see a completely different person.” Doug says.

“I understand what you mean. But I do not want to talk about your past right now. That will come later.”

“Ok, what do you want to talk about?”

“I want to talk to you about what Judas told me about you.” Griffin answers.

“What did he tell you?”

“Do you want me to start with the good things or the bad?”

“What were the good things?” Doug replies.

“He said that you are a powerful warrior, courageous, strong, fast, and an excellent leader.”

“That’s more than I thought he would say. What are the bad things?”

“That you put too much faith in your guns. You are unorthodox, rebellious, rude, and a little crazy.” Griffin responds.

“Is that all he said?”

“No, those were just the nice things he said.”

“I can understand why he doesn’t like me. He was just protecting your daughter Katrina and I was making it difficult for him.” Doug says.

“And Zathora”

“Zathora is your daughter to?”

“She is my niece.”

“Ok that explains a lot. No wonder he was being overprotective.”

“He has always been like that.” Griffin responds. “I am curious what you have to say about the bad things he said about you.”

“He said that I put too much faith in my guns rights?”

“Yes he did. I am curious what about you have to say about that.”

“Oh that’s an easy one. I participated in the Army’s kickboxing competition six years in a row and won every time. I’m a third degree black belt in both Jeet Kune Do and T’ai Chi and have studied multiple martal arts from all over the world. And I’ve also served with Delta Force, but I wasn’t one of them.” Doug explains.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty – nine”

“You are twenty – nine and you are a third degree black belt in two martal arts?” Griffin replies shocked.

“Yes sir”

“I feel sorry for anyone who wants to fight you.”

Doug tries not to laugh but doesn’t do a good job.

“So do you want me to explain the other things Judas said?”

“Yes please, what about what Judas said about you being unorthodox?”

“It has been my experience that some situations call for unorthodox plans.”

“I can agree with that. I’ve lead men into battle before.” Griffin says. “I’m definitely curious about what you have to say about being crazy.”

“Easy, being crazy makes life fun.” Doug replies jokingly.

Griffin doesn’t hide his laugh very well.

“That is definitely true”

“I hate to interrupt but I want to know why you’re asking me all these questions?” Doug asks.

“Because I can tell you that Judas has some hostility towards you and your men. He feels that you are going to be nothing but trouble.” Griffin replies.

“I know he does, but I’m used to it. So how do I get his respect?”

“It is very hard to get Judas’s respect. You have to earn it.”

“And how do I do that?” Doug asks.

“The best way I know is by demonstrating your combat skills. The only way to do that right now is to challenge him.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, if you show up and are able to stand your ground you will not only earn his respect but also the respect of just about all of the clan members. If what you told me about yourself is true, then you should have no problem.” Griffin explains.

“How does a challenge work?”

“The challenge is fought in rounds like a martal arts tournament. A round is won when someone scores a hit. Real weapons are used but they are sheathed and padded to prevent injury. A round is won by a hit with a weapon. A landed punch or kick does not count. The winner is the first one to win three rounds or land what would be a fatal blow. The round has to the won by a hit with the weapon or by submission. Do you have any questions?” Griffin explains.

“I have a one. Does my right arm count as a weapon?”

“Does it have armor on it?” Griffin asks.

Doug pulls up his sleeve and shows Griffin his robotic arm. Its appearance shocks and puzzles him.

“I say that would definitely counts as a weapon. Looks like it would hurt to get hit by it.”

“I know it does. I’ve used it before in a fight. It has the strength to lift five hundred pounds. And if a bear’s bite couldn’t destroy it, then there is no way that Judas can.”

“Then it should be an interesting fight then. But I must warn you Judas has never lost a challenge. Your chances of winning are slim at best.” Griffin replies.

“Then it should be a fun fight. So when do I get to fight him?”

“Three days from now if you want.”

“Sounds good to me”

Griffin calls in Ezekiel, one of his higher ranking officers. Ezekiel looks to be around the same age as Griffin, except he doesn’t looks as strong. Ezekiel looks like he’s seen too much combat in his life.

“Ezekiel, can you show our friend here where they will be staying?” Griffin orders.

“Yes sir”

Ezekiel turns around and faces Doug. Doug has to look down at him. Ezekiel is much shorter than him. He is the smallest Rottweiler Doug has seen yet. But based on what he’s seen so far Doug knows better than to doubt their skills. Ezekiel leads Doug out of the church and to a large military training facility on the edge of the village. The training camp reminds Doug of Fort Chaffee, just a lot smaller. There are several small buildings that look like they are used for housing and classes. There are multiple obstacle courses and exercise locations. Doug sees a multiple shooting ranges for both bow and gun, which surprises him. He didn’t expect to see the Dogs using guns.

“So how good are you guys with guns?”

“Our accuracy is better than most humans. We start training guns when we are ten. But we start our combat training at age seven.”

“Why do you need to train?” Doug asks.

“It is our duty to protect the human race. Sometimes that means protecting you from yourselves. You understand?”

“Yes, I know exactly what you are talking about.”

Ezekiel first leads Doug to a small clearing outside of the training facility. Doug sees a small fire pit in the middle and several signs of past residents. There is even a small building housing a toilet and a shower.

“This is where your men will stay. If you have any requests come to me and I will do my best to get it for you. You got any questions?”

“Yes what time is church Sunday?” Doug asks.

“Church starts tomorrow at 9:30.”

“Tomorrow is Saturday”

“We Dogs believe that because God rested on the seventh when he created the Earth also we rest on the seventh day.” Ezekiel answers.

“Makes sense to me. I’ll be there.”

Ezekiel heads back to the village leaving Doug alone. Doug picks up a stick and marks out an area for the two tents and cooking area. He then places two sticks in the ground for his men to know where to place the tents. Doug then takes a shower. He is covered with dirt and blood from the battle. It takes Doug an hour to wash all the blood and dirt off of him. His long hair makes it difficult. The blood and dirt cling to it. By the time he gets all the dirt and blood out his guys are back with their equipment. They quickly set up their tents on the outskirts of the village. After they get everything set up, Doug sits the guys down and tells them the rules that he and Griffin agreed on. Just like Doug predicted to Griffin, Frank, Jack, and Jake are not too happy about not being able to carry their weapons, but they accept it anyway. Doug also tells them about the celebration and his challenge with Judas. Nick, Todd, Jack, and Mark make fun of him by telling him how badly he is going to lose, but Doug just ignores them.

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