The American Civil War saw the rise – and also the fall – of many brave men. At the epicentre of their quest was freedom and liberation. They sought it with every drop of their blood. And they claimed it, when it mattered most, mindless of the deaths that surrounded them or the number of lives that were lost. It was their freedom above all.
But, like everything billed to come to an end, there was a paradigm shift – men were repulsed by melee and scrimmage combats, redirecting their focus instead toward technological warfare.
Little wonder fast-forward to 1861, a war broke out between the two domineering political forces – the Union from the Northern State and the Confederacy from the Southern State. The Union wanted to liberate men and earn them a desired and deserved freedom. However, the Confederacy advocated a society where the elite – a select group of capable hands – ruled over an equal-labour generating people.
The emergent victor of the war was meant to be responsible for the setting of the dominant ideologies which most American States were to follow, stringently. However, there was no virtual vanquisher, thus, the war raged on for years. The Union continued to fight for the reclamation of their territorial states from the Confederates while the Confederacy fought tooth and nail to exert absolute control and dominance over the said states.
That notwithstanding, and definitely insentient to either side, there were other indifferent yet greedy parties whose quests were to siphon proceeds into their own pockets during the raging war.
Syndicates, headed by nefarious gang leaders, made deals to feather their own nests. Consequently, as the peace talks broke down, arms dealers rose to prominence, both financially and politically. They refused to pitch their tents with either warring factions, instead preferring to keep the money flowing into their pockets. No thanks to the ammunitions traded to either side of the war, the rate in bloodshed escalated alarmingly. Unfortunately, none of the syndicates who pledged allegiance to either of the sides at loggerheads noticed any foul play.
Under the cover of night, the Union arms dealers resided in the restricted regions of the Californian Hanford Forests. There, they were able to strike a deal with the Confederate outlaws and peacefully trade weapons and armaments despite being from the opposite sides of the war. Though both trading factions still flew their banners, they were able to reach a compromise to use each other to make ends meet.
The Union syndicate was a three-man male team; they appeared dictatorial and quite high-handed, regarding themselves in a chauvinistic light. Their uniformed suits and top hats signalled they were one. Their ringleader, a fairly corpulent man, was sandwiched between his two comrades.
Assured they were not being followed, the Confederate gang snuck into the inconspicuous territory. They were armed to the teeth and ready for battle. Their intimidating appearance and blood-thirsty looks could give the dead raw chills. The Union gang however had an intellectual aura around them. Not only did they look civilised; they acted the part as well. Contrary to the Union men, the Confederates were clothed differently; their leader was the only one with a hat out of the five men. This was meant to be just another one of the meetings the two groups had to broach their corrupt trade.
The Union boss, slipped his arms onto his waist, his head tilting to a side. “So, you guys came? I didn’t think you would show up.”
The leader of the Confederate group nodded his head dismissively, ignoring the Union leader’s derisive comment. He sized up the Union leader’s men for a second before he re-focused his glance toward their boss. “About the terms you discussed earlier, you got a deal.”
The Union leader couldn’t conceal his excitement as he bared his teeth. “Good, then I guess I should make all the necessary preparations.”
Excited, the Union leader revealed the strategy he had devised to trade with the Confederate gangs in the Southern States, just enough for him to garner enough profits from the protracted conflict while the leader of the Confederates too would make enough yields from the transactions. Without wasting any valuable time, he relayed the terms and conditions that needed to be met to conclude the trade. The leader of the Confederates appeared pleased; he wasted no time in reaching an agreement with the leader of the Union party.
“As usual, it’s a pleasure doing business with you,” the Confederate leader uttered, shaking hands with the Union leader. They said their goodbyes as the Confederates took their leave from the grounds leaving the Union gang to watch them disappear into the blackness of the forest. The two counterparts of the Union team were left confused once they were left alone. They turned toward their leader, questioning his motive.
“What is it?” he asked, sensing their growing displeasure.
“Boss, do you think it’s right if we sell weapons to those Confederate lap dogs?” the one to his right enquired. The one to his left nodded his agreement to the question his comrade asked. “By all indications, they’re going to use them against our mates in the war,” he added.
A bit indignant, their leader addressed them; his voice was berating.
“Don’t you get it already? We work in the shadows and there are no rules where we stand. We are arms dealers and nothing more,” explained the Union boss, trying to keep his temperament in check. The two comrades exchanged puzzled looks, wondering if their boss hadn’t overstepped his boundaries or crossed a sacred line. Vigilant, he was quick to dispel their doubts about him, knowing the most apt words to weave at that moment. He dredged up a smile.
“Ever heard of the Golden Rule?” he asked with a large grin on his face as he stared ahead, dreamily, into nothing in particular.
“The Golden Rule? What’s that?” chorused his comrades, more puzzled than they had been previously.
He sighed, stunned by their naivety. “He who has the gold makes the rules.” He paused briefly, weighing their reactions to his catch phrase. They were attentive, like kids who had just been promised a treat. He was glad he had their attention.
“You see, to win this war we need money and the Confederates are basically selling out their cause all on their own. They’re giving us more money, consequently granting us more power,” he quickly added. The comrade to his right seemed to be smarter for he was swift to decode the words of his leader. Yet, he had a question that needed to be answered. “Makes a lot of sense. Yet, it’s a sacrificial victory where we’ll have to live with blood on our hands knowing that our actions basically got our own people killed, I take it?” he asked. Although he wasn’t expecting him to redirect his question in that guise, he had no choice but to concede to his statement.
“Now you get it,” their leader retorted. His subordinates smiled deviously, as they exchanged relieved looks. Be that as it may, he couldn’t conceal he was impressed at how they were quick to understand the rubrics of the war and the requirements for their own survival. No sooner had he patted them on their backs than their review was disrupted.
“Gyaaa!!” “Yaaarrghh!” “Aaarrgghh!” suddenly loud agonizing screams were heard in the distance just ahead.
“What the hell is going on there?” their leader, taken aback, asked. He became frightened, hoping the Feds hadn’t discovered they were trading. He was darned scared of being arrested. The sounds drew nearer with each fleeting second. The party was left to hear heavy feet crunching bones, snapping boughs and breaking twigs. Seconds later, the sounds were accompanied by vicious growls and grunts – the likes of a ginormous, rabid predator feasting voraciously on the carcass of its hapless, fresh prey. In a flash, they caught sight of a somewhat beastly shape slither about into the shadows. It was hairy and enormous. They could have sworn it had cold, blazing eyes that shone like the pits of hell itself in the pitch darkness. They froze to death, unable to move a muscle, lest they become the next meal of whatever leviathan was roaming in the shadows. It shook the trees as it advanced in their direction. Cornered, the men backed away, unable to plot a definite escape route for themselves. It went silent, giving the men a moment of respite. While they were catching their breaths, the figure charged out of hiding at lightning speed. Caught off-guard, the men were defenceless against its beastly force. As it tackled, with a swipe of its supernatural energy, the leader was shoved over and one of his companions ended up being sent sprawling against a large tree while it mauled the other man callously. Shell-shocked, the Union leader scrambled to his feet only to witness the goriest scenery he had ever come across in his entire life. He was only inches away from the beast as it tore into the lifeless form of his comrade, snapping his bones like they were dried bamboo sticks and tearing off flesh and muscles from his body as if it was a papyrus. The mere sight of blood erupting like a geyser from the mangled body of his comrade left him traumatised. Moments later, the other comrade coming to, having hit his head harder, blurrily saw the beast mutilating his work mate. Although, it was well after dark now and there was no visible illumination to identify the unearthly creature, its figure appeared to be that of a giant man wolf. His hairs stood on end as he seemed to recognise what the creature was. He could barely speak, shaky all over. “What? It can’t be!” he mumbled his words.
The Union leader, still acting all brave and calm, moved quickly to grip the arm of his partner, trying to shush him. He turned to face the monster as it panted heavily.
“Its the Navajo Skin-walker, I thought it was only a myth…” the Union leader added, whispering.
Hearing the remaining duo mutter, the monstrosity rose to its full height standing twice the height of an averagely tall man. Muscles jutted out of its arms as if it was sculpted from the stoniest of rocks. Dispossessing itself of the mangled body of their comrade, it turned its attention on them. The creature bellowed sizzling hot gas from its nostrils. Its eyes were sunken and in the place of its nose is a hollow space allowing it to breathe. The movements of the baiting predator were aggressive and unpredictable circling them who it saw as prey. Instead of fingers, it had giant and long talons with sharp, knife-life edges. It also had a pair of muscular legs which made it easier for it to move faster and jump at a thunderous speed. Heat was being emitted by its entire body, the like only an active volcano was capable of generating. They could both feel its supernatural aura impacting the wind, causing it to blow against them and singe their faces with its bodily heat. The two men cried out, unable to contain the pain that nibbled on their bodies as they felt their flesh burn off them.
Suddenly, the sentient opened its large jaws stacked with razor sharp, sabre-like teeth that shone in the night. The only thought on their minds were that the men were dead where they stood. There was no escaping this one – not tonight.
Leaving its message, the wolf-like beast roared deafeningly, leaving the men to ponder if or not they were going to escape an imminent death just yet. There they closed their eyes, slipping their hands into each other as they sobbed loudly, crying for help while they expected the merciless creature to pounce on them and shred them to pieces where they stood.