The New Destroyer: Choke Hold [NOOK Book]

Overview


Pity poor tobacco tycoon Edgar Rawly.  Thanks to lawsuits, government meddling and the inexplicable deaths of many of his best customers, his megabucks industry is gasping its last breath.  That is, until the introduction of the Cheyenne Smooths, Rawly's latest product.  Not quite tobacco, not quite legal, more addictive than crystal meth.  Suddenly customers are once more beating a path to his door.  That's when the bodies start piling up.  Seems people are not only ...
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The New Destroyer: Choke Hold

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Overview


Pity poor tobacco tycoon Edgar Rawly.  Thanks to lawsuits, government meddling and the inexplicable deaths of many of his best customers, his megabucks industry is gasping its last breath.  That is, until the introduction of the Cheyenne Smooths, Rawly's latest product.  Not quite tobacco, not quite legal, more addictive than crystal meth.  Suddenly customers are once more beating a path to his door.  That's when the bodies start piling up.  Seems people are not only dying to taste the flavor of a Cheyenne Smooth, they're killing for it. 
 
Enter Remo Williams, the Destroyer, and Chiun, the deadly Master of Sinanju.  They've been sent to kick some butt, but wind up in danger of being snuffed out themselves.
 
Turns out Edgar Rawly is not the only shady character to recognize the value of the Cheyenne Smooths, and things really start to heat up when Remo bumps into a cult of ancient Chinese assassins, an Asian crime lord, and a worldwide addiction that just might send civilization up in smoke...and dump the Destroyer on the ash heap of history.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466800632
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 10/30/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 151,562
  • File size: 720 KB

Meet the Author


Warren Murphy's books and stories have sold fifty million copies worldwide and won a dozen national awards.  James Mullaney has worked for Marvel Comics and has ghostwritten books that have sold over a million copies.
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Read an Excerpt


THE NEW DESTROYER: CHOKE HOLD (Chapter 1)

For some reason that morning, on the day he would die for unleashing an unimaginable plague on an unsuspecting world, Dr. John Feathers remembered the screaming girl.

He did not even know her name. He had met her three years before on a commuter train to New York. The girl must have been a college student somewhere because she carried a textbook before her like a shield, and with jutted chin seemed to dare the seated passengers she passed to comment on the title. All the other seats were full, and so she and her fat book had wound up next to John Feathers.

She attempted to appear casual as she angled the book so that John could read the title. The book was called Modern Feminists from Abzug to Zeigert by Nora Personning. John would have preferred to ignore it and the girl, but every time the train jostled, her book hand managed to bump against him and it was either allow her to bruise his ribs all the way to Grand Central Station or ask her what she obviously wanted him to ask.

"Good book?" John queried politely.

The girl who had been trying to get his attention for five minutes turned to him as if his question were as welcome as a dead horse in the Russian Tea Room.

"It's brilliant," she accused.

She was pretty, but exposure to academic life was clearly putting her through a metamorphosis to perpetual anger. She wore no makeup and her hair was cut too short. Her clothes were lumpy and formless, yet here and there when she moved was fleeting evidence of bumps and curves that suggested a good figure, one that might even emerge like a moth from a chrysalis when her twenty-something flirtation with militancy ended and her real life began. She had the very ordinary college-age bearing of someone with an infinite number of opinions but not one single thought of her own.

"Dr. Personning is a genius," the young woman said. "She's opened my eyes to the reality of this bourgeois patriarchal society."

John didn't think anyone still said "bourgeois" these days, and under normal circumstances he might have mentioned this. But this girl did not seem likely to respond well to criticism, so all he said was, "Hmm."

"Abzug was a pioneer, of course," the girl said, whacking the book cover with the back of her hand, "but Zeigert is a fascinating figure. A proto-feminist from the early twentieth century, but she couldn't stand the slowness of societal change, so she just dropped out. Disappeared in the 1940s."

"Sort of like Greta Garbo," John suggested mildly.

The girl's eyes narrowed. "Who?"

"She was a famous actress who dropped out of the limelight, I guess at the height of her celebrity or something. They chased her around for years after, trying to snap pictures of her, but she just wanted to be left alone."

The girl looked for something in his words to snarl at, but finding nothing she hummed a little noncommittal hum and sank into her seat. They rode in silence for a few long, awkward minutes until some vestigial polite impulse that Dr. Nora Personning and her fellow professors had not been able to eradicate completely surfaced in the girl and she asked what John Feathers did for a living.

"I'm a research scientist for Cheyenne Tobacco," he replied with a friendly smile.

The next thing he knew, the girl was on her feet screaming bloody blue murder. At first he thought she must be accusing him of improperly touching her or something, but through the bugging eyes, frothy spittle and her finger pointing straight at his nose, he picked up a few words.

"...mass murderer...innocents...baby killer...dying in the streets...worse than heroin..."

She accused him of being a bigger murderer than Hitler and George W. Bush combined.

"Please. Sit down," John Feathers begged.

But the girl would not stop. She just stood in the aisle, screaming and spitting and pointing, until John was forced to get off at the next stop and catch a later train.

That was three years ago, and it had been the last time he ever admitted to a stranger what he did for a living.

But on this morning, the last of his life, John Feathers felt even greater shame than he had that day on the train. On that day, he had walked a gauntlet of embarrassment past his fellow passengers, melting inwardly as he passed each set of accusing eyes. But this morning, he walked amidst peers who scarcely noticed him, so busy were they cheering one another and popping champagne corks. A white-coated scientist spied John skulking by and grabbed him in a bear hug.

"This is the guy," said the man, whose name tag read "Neil Speckman." "This guy is responsible for the addition on my house that the old ball-and-chain has been nagging me for, and the brand-new, heated inground pool I'll be building to get away from her. Ain't it the truth, Tonto?"

John hunched uncomfortably among the group of scientists. Although Neil Speckman was smiling, the rest sneered silent resentment at John as they scratched their arms and faces.

That outbreak of skin-itching at the Cheyenne Tobacco labs had started a few months before and had been growing steadily. The little red bumps were worse around the mouths and right hands of most of the men and women.

"Tonto here is going to make us all rich," Speckman roared, gesturing with a Styrofoam cup of champagne. Sparkling wine sloshed over the rim.

"Knock off the Tonto stuff, Neil," someone nearby suggested.

"Johnny doesn't mind, do you, John?" Speckman asked. "I mean, look at him. He looks about as Injun as I do. Hey, is that really true what they say, John? You really Indian?"

John nodded. "Excuse me," he said, and extricated himself from the man's bear hug.

"No way. Can't be Indian," Neil Speckman whispered boozily as John headed for the exit. "Guy's whiter than my lab coat."

One woman was still trying to hush the man silent as John Feathers stole out of the lab and into the hallway.

There was a portrait on the wall outside the lab. A man with stony visage, steely gaze, and robust bearing stared unflinchingly at passersby. A tiny plaque at the base of the picture read, "Edgar Rawly, CEO Cheyenne Tobacco."

The caption was unnecessary. There was no one at the Cheyenne Tobacco complex who did not know their company's founder and chief executive officer. Rawly was the picture of health, with an athletic red glow to his chiselled cheekbones and a hint of a smile on his full, manly lips. On his knee rested one hand, and between his fingers was a cigarette. The cigarette was painted so brilliantly white it should have had a halo.

In portrait form, Edgar Rawly was living proof of the health-giving qualities of all tobacco products.

The picture nearly made John Feathers retch. Panting, he raced down the hallway, away from the portrait, away from the labs. In the stairwell, John leaned against the wall. And then it came back to him....

...mass murderer...baby killer...worse than heroin....

That incident had been three years ago and now, still, the shrill, accusing words of that young college student on a Manhattan-bound commuter train echoed in John's head as if she were shouting them up from the depths of the stairwell. He wanted to cover his ears, to run screaming from the building.

From upstairs, he could still hear the happy buzz of his fellow workers. There were big bonuses all around, thanks to him. Most of the workers were stockholders as well, and their stock in Cheyenne was about to go through the roof. There were sales projections from marketing that had the guys from corporate doing cartwheels down the hallway. In three years, maybe less, Cheyenne would corner the world tobacco market. It was simple, it was neat, and the only things John had traded away in the deal were his soul, his people and the world.

And for what?

The Cheyenne Smooths.

The first great tobacco product in a century. A gold mine of curling smoke that would make them all rich beyond their wildest dreams. And they could not have done it without Dr. John Feathers.

For John Feathers, knowing what he had done--what he was about to do--it was all he could do to keep his breakfast from launching up out of his churning stomach.

He took the back stairs down to the parking lot. Two men and a woman were smoking near a trash bin.

"I wish I'd never tried these things," one of the men commented, hacking a viscous glob of mucus onto the pavement.

"It's cheaper now anyway," the woman said. She was puffing away as if possessed, launching plumes of curling white smoke at the eight-story glass and steel building across the parking lot. The Cheyenne Tobacco world headquarters reflected the yellow sunlight and brilliant blue of the West Virginia sky. "I figured it out. Back when we started, when the stuff was so hard to come by, it used to cost Cheyenne five thousand dollars a puff."

The second man was suddenly racked by a coughing spasm. Doubled over, he held his cigarette far away from his face as he fought to catch his breath. The woman, careful to keep puffing, patted him on the back.

"You okay, Stan?" she asked once the spasm subsided.

Stan sniffled, cleared his throat and stuffed his cigarette right back between his lips. "I hate this," he said, his voice hoarse. He was nearly in tears. "It was never this bad with my old brand. I get up in the middle of the night to smoke now. I even dream about these damn things. If it wasn't for that son of a bitch John Feathers, I wouldn't have that spot on my lungs, I know that for damn sure. Someone should shoot that scumbag."

The woman noticed John walking by and nudged her companion in the arm. Stan glanced at John, scowled and turned away. But he and the others never stopped puffing.

John noted that each had a rash around their mouths. The rashes were older now, and the early-stage cherry redness was now a lunar surface of tough, jaundiced boils. Although the morning was humid, each wore rubber gloves on their right hands, filched from the Cheyenne labs. Still, the rash was faintly visible on their forearms.

John did not blame them for giving him the cold shoulder. He deserved whatever anyone gave him and much more. Like a zombie, he walked to his car. From his coat pocket, he removed a book of official Cheyenne Tobacco matches and slipped them in his trousers. After, he took off his lab coat with its ID tag and dropped it to the pavement. He would not be needing the tag any longer. He was never coming back to this place of death.

John drove to the airport, bought a ticket to Montana, and flew back to the land of his people, to his home, back to the place where he was known as Johnny Crow Feathers of the Chowok Tribe. It was the father of Johnny Crow Feathers who picked up his troubled son at the airport.

His father was waiting in the parking lot, perched on the hood of his old Dodge. He had not gone inside the terminal to wait for his son. William Eagle Feathers had told his son when he called from the plane that the health fascists did not allow smoking inside the terminal building.

It broke Johnny's heart to see the red rash on his elderly father's face and hands. Like Johnny, William Eagle Feathers was light-skinned, with only a broadness to the nose that might have indicated Indian blood.

His father tried to hug him, but Johnny leaned away.

"I warned you about those things, Dad. Can you please not smoke?"

It took all of the old man's willpower, but he stubbed out the cigarette on the bumper of his car. Johnny noted with great guilt that his father did not toss away the half used cigarette, but slipped it into his pocket.

Johnny shook his father's hand, his left hand, where the rash was fainter. At the touch of his father's weathered fingers, the floodgates burst. All the guilt he was feeling for what he had done poured out and he began weeping.

"This is all my fault, Dad."

"No, Johnny," his father insisted. "A man makes his own decisions. They might be stupid, but they're his to make and no one else's."

Johnny didn't argue although he knew that was a load of crap. He had the test marketing data to prove it. Free will might open the door a crack, but Johnny's work would make sure that door was kicked down and a loaded gun was held to the homeowner's head.

Without exchanging another word, they rode to the Chowok reservation.

The Chowok were a puzzlement to researchers, and had been featured in many articles and documentaries through the years. DNA testing had proved that they were related to other North American Indians, yet there had been great influence from European immigrants. On his people's land, John saw white-skinned and fair-haired men and women smoking. Worse, and to his eternal shame, many of the pink-skinned children he passed were puffing as well. And not just stupid teenagers, but kids as young as nine or ten.

There were signs in front of every package store and the little main market: CHEYENNE SMOOTHS, A WHOLE NEW TASTE IN FLAVOR! Hand-painted signs made by the store owners read, "Smooths Available" and "Smooths Inside!"

Johnny had heard the cigarettes were already being sold on certain reservations. The government had not yet gotten wind of that.

When Johnny was a boy, the main village abutted pristine wilderness. Now he and his father drove past cultivated fields of gently waving leaves. The four-foot tall plants had already been pruned to direct nourishment to a few leaves. Although only recently transplanted, the plants had been manipulated for rapid growth and were racing toward maturity and would be ready for harvest in a few short weeks. In the distance were the greenhouses where the next crop of seedlings was being tended and big barns for drying the tobacco leaves. Other buildings would eventually be constructed for blending, shredding and packaging. Right now, all that work was taking place off the reservation.

"I've unleashed a great evil on the world," Johnny said as he watched the results of his handiwork speed past.

"Now you stop saying that," his father replied. The old man was gripping the steering wheel too tightly. More than once his blistered hand strayed out of habit to his pocket and his pack of Cheyenne Smooths. But then he remembered his son in the passenger seat and his shaking hand would retreat to the steering wheel.

"It's true, Dad. I should never have told them about it. I never should have come back here for it. It was dead, and I brought it back to life."

"It's history and history makes its own decisions. That plant was important to your ancestors," William Eagle Feathers insisted. "We only have to learn how to use it wisely, as they did."

"There's no evidence they used it wisely at all, Dad. Have you seen PBS? Every documentary says something nearly wiped out the Chowok. Only we know the truth. We survived because of the 'yellow fire' that burned the old crops. From the oral histories, it sounds like that was a lightning-sparked fire, so you must have some god or other to thank for that. Maybe he was trying to help our people out, Dad."

His father shook his head firmly. "It was not spirit aid, but wrath that destroyed the sacred crops, Johnny. Our people were able to smuggle out only a few dried leaves, but they were dead and could not be planted again. We kept them as sacred objects for hundreds of years. Then you came along with your science and genetics and you brought it back to life. You've restored our history. You're the savior of the Chowok, Johnny, the savior, and don't you ever forget it."

The savior of the Chowok felt sick to his stomach. He slouched down in his seat and closed his eyes on the freshly planted fields and new buildings.

The legend of the sacred plant was one of the most mysterious of the Chowok past. The great migration from the east had come long before the forced resettlement of other North American tribes--before, in fact, there was a United States. Even without their sacred plant the Chowok were a mysterious people. So many of the tribe possessed white features that there was doubt until genetic testing came along that the Chowok were even true Indians.

They were a strange people. And thanks to Johnny Feathers and a few dried leaves that he had brought back to life, illness and death would ensure that they--and many others around the world--would soon vanish into the mists of history.

Fields led to a few scattered houses. William Feathers stopped in front of a modest ranch and the two men went inside.

His father had turned his son's childhood bedroom into a small study. John Feathers tossed and turned on the couch until eleven o'clock before he kicked off the old afghan his late mother had knitted and climbed to his feet.

He carried his shoes in his hand. The floor still creaked in all the old spots, but Johnny knew just where to step to get out to the porch in silence.

Outside, he went to his father's toolshed. There was no lock, just a piece of twisted wire looped through the holes where a padlock would go. Inside the shed, he found what he was looking for in the same place it had always been. Johnny picked up the heavy can of gas his father kept filled at all times and carried it to the trunk of his father's Dodge. The reservation was deep in slumber as he drove out to the big tobacco fields.

There were no lights in the new buildings. This was all costing Cheyenne a pretty penny, but the Chowok reservation was a forgotten backwater. Cheyenne relied on security cameras rather than actual guards. There were none nearby that Johnny could see, but even if they spotted him he no longer cared. He was going to do what was right.

Rain had been scarce in Montana during the past two weeks. The night was warm and the soil dry. The automated sprinklers would not kick on until early the next morning.

Johnny lifted a bare arm to the breeze and felt the short hairs blow. The wind was to his back and away from the settlements. The conditions were ideal.

Unscrewing the cap on the gas can, Johnny sloshed gasoline along the eastern edge of the field. He worked as quickly as he could, careful to soak the plants nearest the road. When they caught, the adjacent rows would go up as well, until the whole field was ablaze. He would go get more gas for the field on the other side of the road, as well as the greenhouses. He would steal a tanker truck if he had to. Johnny could not let the evil he had helped revive be unleashed on the world. He would wash the shame from his soul with a cleansing fire, just like the fire that had saved the Chowok before the great migration hundreds of years ago.

The world would know. The fire would attract the media. Washington would be alerted. Cheyenne would be stopped.

He reached in his pocket for the matches he had brought with him from the Cheyenne Tobacco office complex in West Virginia.

Johnny was surprised at his own calm. His hands were rock steady as he tore a single match from the book.

As long as the wind did not shift, he would be fine. If not, so much smoke from the genetically altered tobacco leaves might be deadly. There was no way of knowing what such a high dose could do to a human.

Johnny brought the match to the book.

"Dr. John Feathers."

The cold voice behind him made him jump, and he fumbled the matchbook out of his hand. Instinctively, he tried grabbing for it as it fell, but wound up swatting it away. He heard the matchbook rattle a big tobacco leaf a few feet away on its way to the ground.

Johnny turned. A dark figure stood behind him.

"What? I--I..." he stammered. "It's okay. I'm from Cheyenne Tobacco, from West Virginia. Corporate HQ."

It was a stupid thing to say, he knew. The person had known his name. They knew who he was. Maybe they had followed him from West Virginia, knowing that he was about to snap. But how could they? Even Johnny hadn't known what he was going to do until he got here. But now that he was here, standing next to the field with a useless match still in hand, they would know. Certainly they could smell the gasoline he had dumped all over their expensive crop.

"Look," Johnny said. "You're just a night watchman or something? Well you don't know what this stuff is." He waved a hand at the field. "This is not ordinary tobacco. This is genetically altered plant life. We brought back a form of tobacco that has been extinct for hundreds of years."

"And you're proud of that, aren't you?" the cold voice demanded.

Johnny saw something rise up in shadowed hands. A weapon. He quickly raised his own hands in surrender.

"Whoa," he said. "Hold on. No. No, I'm not."

"Dr. John Feathers, you have been judged in absentia for crimes against humanity," the voice intoned.

"What?" John said, confusion darkening his brow. "Listen, there's no problem here. I'm not fighting, okay? I'm going to lower my hands. Let's just go sit down and--"

A loud pop, as crisp and clear as the bright stars in the moonless Montana sky.

Johnny felt a sharp pain in his chest, to the right of his sternum. Shot. He'd been shot. Gasping disbelief, he grabbed at the bullet hole he knew must be there.

But there was no bullet wound. His searching fingers found something flat, rounded. Hard like metal.

Another shot. The impact trailed the pop, and he realized now this was much slower than a normal gun. More pain. The last pain. Straight into the heart.

Johnny fell to his knees.

The shadow moved and he felt something press against his chest. Feebly, he tried to brush it away.

"You have been found guilty," his executioner said.

And before the final pop, an image sprang unbeckoned to the mind of Johnny Feathers. It was of the young college girl, textbook in hand, screaming on that long ago train.

Murderer!

He saw the faces of the men and women who had watched him slink guiltily down the aisle. Saw through the window the look of smug satisfaction on the anonymous girl's face as he stood on the platform and watched the train pull out of the station.

And then he heard a voice, but it was not the voice of his killer, or of the girl on the train, or of his father, or of any of the great spirits that the Chowok prayed to. It was a voice from inside his head, but which seemed to roll to him in warming waves from the very center of the universe. And the voice assured John Feathers that his murder would be avenged, and that his people had been mistaken these hundreds of years, and what had been thought a scourge would return once more with purifying vengeance.

Johnny wanted to ask this voice of the heavens what it meant, but before he could there was another loud pop that seemed to come from inside his head, which was followed by another sharp pain to his chest. But this pain was less than the last, because he was already dying, and then he was on his back on the ground in a puddle of gasoline, and his killer was backing away and Johnny no longer cared.

And as he watched the stars above him wink out one by one, Johnny was content to know that all would be made right. And then the black shroud of eternal night drew over and, as would be the same one day for all men, the shadow claimed Johnny Crow Feathers as its own.

THE NEW DESTROYER: CHOKE HOLD Copyright © 2007 by Warren Murphy

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 19, 2011

    Duo are Back

    What a wild ride, enjoying the books again and again, the writers are doing a bang up job of story telling, keep up the good work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2007

    The Destroyer is back

    Finally the Destroyer I enjoyed so much is back. It is almost as if the original team is back again. Keep it up. Any true fan of the Destroyer series will like this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2007

    Remo Returns and so does Warren Murphy and James Mullaney

    Wow. That is the best word I can use to describe this newest edition to the Destroyer series. When I first heard that Tor Books would be publishing the series and that Warren Murphy and James Mullaney would be writing the books I got my hopes up really high. I was not disappointed. This book ranks right up there with the best in the series. It is topical, dealing with the immigration crisis, and it is extremely satirical, as all the best Destroyers are. The characters are back to being themselves and not some alien beings as they were in the last few books that were published by Gold Eagle. I am really looking forward to the next books in the series. Warren and Jim have righted the ship and have set a course for success.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2006

    Great Hopes

    Even though it's another four months until this book is out, I find myself having high hopes for it. Warren Murphy, who hasn't written since 1995 for the series he helped created is back as co-author. Jim Mullaney, who wrote over twenty books for the Destroyer while it was published by Gold Eagle (#s 110 - 131) is back co-author. He is one of the best of the ghost writers, capturing the characters and the satiric edge that made the earlier Destroyers sell over 20 million copies.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2009

    long time reader

    since the passing of Sapir the stories have gottend bored & repetitive, it seem that the authors have run out of ideas for the next story or their not even trying to be creative anymore, and its time to stop making all the black & hispanic characters dumb thugs or drug dealers, you guys make white people the only intelligent people in the book, are you all RACIST, im curious & you dont have enough interaction with Shiva, i really enjoy the story when remo turns into Shiva, it makes the story much more exciting & you could let remo go off on his own & clean up crime while secretly giving all the criminals a warning that sinanju is watchdog, of course this will be against Chuin & Smiths approval & lastly please allow reorder of old & new issues in back of the novel, i dont see that anymore

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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    Posted February 17, 2011

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    Posted April 4, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2009

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