Barer of the Ghost Nation

Squad V - Book Three

by John Steiner

Wanniukaga is the last of his people. No one else carries on his cultural traditions. It was the end of the world for the healer and spiritual leader. He is four hundred years old, and he is not alone. Afflicted by vampirism from those who slaughtered his nation, Wanniukaga is further burdened with the spirits of his people inside his mind.

Shattered by hard economic times St. Louis lays atop an older city whose people died out centuries ago, save for Wanniukaga who wanders its urban decay to this day. Locked in a struggle to preserve his people's traditions and adapt to accelerating change the healer must balance his many personalities. Two homeless teenagers befriend and help Wanniukaga through difficult times against other vampires responsible for the death of his people, evade religiously motivated amateur vampire slayers and confront a hardhearted Squad Five operator stepping outside the rules of his unit.


Chapter One


~ Trickster In Necropolis ~


Endless times they walked through the barren yards of faded industry by the riverside—now empty shells of buildings once active with workers. Crumbling brick, rusting steel and broken windows everywhere one turned. Dead ground laced with industrial residue, ensuring scant little could grow beyond the hardiest weeds from a distant continent.

Here and there ran twin rails for iron horses, no longer thundering by, or at least very infrequently. So dreary this place, especially in winter, many of the Ghost Nation considered themselves lucky not to see it by the light of day.

Among them, East Wind Speaks saw into the dark with ease and commented, “No footprints, no talking and I don’t hear anything else. She didn’t come this way.”

Wanniukaga doubted him in the same language. “I’m sure this is where she went.”

“With respect, Elder,” the younger male voice said, “Why would a vulnerable woman come down here of all places? Whoever she finds wouldn’t be anyone good.”

“Precisely,” Wanniukaga’s aged words sounded. “The girl turned down a dark path in life. She wants for trouble in place of despair.”

“But she’s one of the white invaders,” East Wind Speaks reminded, “A worshiper of Wendigo spirits. Suppose she’s waiting in ambush. Maybe Gray Knife should handle this.”

The oldest and most skilled Wolf Warrior he also advocated, in contrast to all others, that the Ghost Nation should wage unrelenting warfare against the invaders.

Wanniukaga vigorously shook that off. “Absolutely not! We let him lead our people and none other may gain control back. The council won’t risk it.”

“Wait!” East Wind Speaks stopped everyone up short. “I hear her!”

“She’s in that—what do you call it?” the old healer asked.

Warehouse. Do you want me to go in there and talk to her?”

“Yes, do that. But just take a step or two inside. Don’t follow.”

All of the Ghost Nation strode toward the warehouse, un-fazed by the night’s biting cold. Everyone tread with nary a sound up to the large roll-up door.



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