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Driven equally by his duty to his nation's leader and by his need to avenge his father's murder, Zak Cody is on the trail of the gold-hungry killer who made him an orphan. But while he's taking down his adversary's hired guns every step of the way, their leader, Ben Trask, continues to elude him. And Trask is brewing up a poisonous stew of betrayal, death, and lies with the powerful help of someone at Fort Bowie—a plan that will bring about the terrible slaughter of a proud but volatile native people. The death ...
Driven equally by his duty to his nation's leader and by his need to avenge his father's murder, Zak Cody is on the trail of the gold-hungry killer who made him an orphan. But while he's taking down his adversary's hired guns every step of the way, their leader, Ben Trask, continues to elude him. And Trask is brewing up a poisonous stew of betrayal, death, and lies with the powerful help of someone at Fort Bowie—a plan that will bring about the terrible slaughter of a proud but volatile native people. The death storm is rolling relentlessly in—and Cody must battle time, bullets, and savage nature to reach the one man who might help him prevent a massacre—the warrior named Cochise.
So many men killed now, fallen to his gun.
But none of them the man he wanted to kill: Ben Trask.
The last three men hadn't needed to die. He'd given them a chance and a choice. Maybe it was something in the outlaw way of thinking. Three against one was fair odds. Maybe they thought they were better than he. Well, they had found out and now they were cold dead meat. Fair odds, fair warning, he thought.
Ben Trask had brutally murdered Zak Cody's father years before. Now, Trask and several other men were headed east on the old stage road, and Zak meant to stop him in his tracks. He had tracked Ben Trask ever since Russell Cody had been murdered, whenever his undercover military duty allowed him the privilege.
When he'd last spotted Ben Trask and the outlaws, the circumstances were not right to make his move. He knew they would stop at the line shack before long, and figured his opportunity would come after they left the shack.
Cody looked over at Colleen O'Hara, situated with the soldiers in a vale not far from the hill where he had stationed himself. She had been hired as a teacher at Fort Bowie, upon her brother's recommendation. But Lieutenant Ted O'Hara had been kidnapped by Trask and his men before she even arrived at the fort. She had been riding to Tucson, accompanied by two soldiers. When their path crossed that of Zak Cody and the two soldiers in their search for Ben Trask, Colleen had insisted on accompanying them.
Now, hunkered down on the side of the hill, Zak held up a silver dollar so the sun caught it just right, and flashed signals up the oldstage road. He was out of sight, the hand that held the coin not visible to anyone down below. He hoped the kidnapped lieutenant, riding among his captors, would see the signals and know that help was coming.
Cody moved the coin slightly after each flash, spelling out the words he wanted the prisoner to decipher. There wasn't much time. Soon, the column of outlaws led by Trask, the man he was hunting, would be passing the hill. Then he would lose the opportunity to send any more signals to the lieutenant.
His hand ached. Pain coursed down his arm in searing rivulets, burning into his muscles, his flesh, as he manipulated the coin. Flick, flick, flick. Flash, flash, flash.
Help soon, wait, be ready, he signaled over and over until the column of men came too close for the signal to be seen beneath the rise of the hill.
He could hear the hooves of the horses hitting the ground with dull thuds. In the west, a group of clouds appeared on the horizon like the sails of distant sailing ships, their underbellies already turning sable against a stretch of desert landscape that was taking on a sepia hue. The sky had been bloodred that morning, telling him that a storm was coming. Until now, he hadn't known from where, but the signs were all there, in the western sky.
He pulled his hand down, stuck the coin back into his pocket. He flexed his arm and fingers until the feeling returned to the tendons and muscles in his right hand. His gun hand. He drew deep breaths and listened to the unintelligible mutterings of the men, the creak of saddle leather and cinches, the plod of hooves, the crackle of iron shoes on sand.
"I hope the lieutenant got the message," he said to himself, his voice so low it wasn't even a whisper. And none near enough to hear it.
He had done what he could to prepare the captured soldier for rescue. That would not be soon. He would have to wait for night, or until the black clouds on the horizon swallowed up the sun.
Lieutenant Ted O'Hara didn't know what to make of it, but there was no mistaking the clear signals he had gotten. Who could have sent them? Jeffords? Could be. Tom Jeffords knew the new Morse code and semaphore. A soldier? An Apache? No, not an Apache. Had to be a soldier. But if so, when could he hope to be rescued? The signaler had told him to wait, to expect help. No time specified. Why not now? And if not now, when? A small mirror, not like the ones the army used. Very small, like a piece of glass, or a silver coin. A quarter, or a dollar, maybe. Strange, he thought. But he took the messages to be friendly. Someone was looking out for him.
Although his hands were not tied, O'Hara knew that Jesse Bob Cavins kept a close watch on him. Still, he could make plans for his escape. He could act when the time came. He was sure of that, but meanwhile went over every move he might have to make when that time came.
Trask set a punishing pace as soon as they reached level ground. He figured that Julio Delgado and the other Mexicans would catch up with them. He had no way of knowing that they were already dead. Trask and the others kept looking back, their anxious gazes on the approaching storm, and there was much talk among the men about past storms in this dry part of the country. None of them wanted to be caught out in the open, where the danger of flash floods was great.
The wind built in some secret corner of the universe and brushed against their backs. The white thunderheads in the west had turned coal black, great bulging elephants stampeding across the heavens like some malevolent herd galloping after them, spreading wide, gobbling up blue sky and blotting out the falling sun.
The clouds seemed to be descending on the outlaw band, and although some of the thunderheads were still snow white, their underbellies had begun to darken like the others, as if they had been smudged with light soot. More and more of these clouds filled the sky as the wind built, blowing high, slowly pushing the clouds together. When they all touched, they would blot out the sun and spark lightning discharges that would open the floodgates for a drenching rain.Shadow Rider: Apache Sundown. Copyright © by Jory Sherman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted June 6, 2010
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Posted October 25, 2008
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