Warren Murphy: The Color of Fear

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Red Alert When a diabolical superfoe acquires a superlaser that uses hypercolor to control emotion, he throws the world into a kaleidoscope of deadly mood swings. CURE goes on red alert. And if things aren't black enough, a rival nation has seen the mind-blowing potential of beaming mood-altering color from satellites...and rendering entire nations defenseless. Color them crazy, but Remo and Chiun know they've got to thwart this bizarre color scheme. More than ever before they must rely on their sensory skills honed to a razor sharpness - because the Destroyer is going to catch the enemy blindfolded.

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Destroyer 99: The Color of Fear

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir


No history book ever recorded it, but the first shot of the Franco-American Conflict of 1995 was fired on a Civil War battlefield outside the city limits of Petersburg, in Virginia.

This time civil war would escalate beyond the shores of the continental United States.

Before it was all over, two long-standing allies would launch punishment raids upon one another's most sacred institutions in a new kind of war, one never before witnessed in human history.

And two men, one famous and one obscure, both of whom the world believed long dead, would collide in mortal combat.

All because Rod Cheatwood misplaced his TV remote control.

History never recorded that fact, either.

Chapter 1

If Colonel Lester "Rip" Hazard had known as he sped down the Richmond-Virginia Turnpike toward Petersburg that before the sun again rose over his beloved Old Dominion he was destined to fall in what history would call the Second Battle of the Crater, he would have driven even faster.

That was the kind of man he was. Virginia born and bred, he loved the land of his birth, which to Lester "Rip" Hazard meant Virginia first and the good ole U.S.A. second.

It was not that Hazard was no patriot. He had served in Panama and again in the Gulf War. He had fought for his country and he had killed for it. And when he had returned from Kuwait, whole in body but tormented by a nagging cough that forced him to resign from the Virginia National Guard, he swallowed his bitter disappointment in manful silence and devoted himself to software support. A gentleman of the Old South did not complain, and so he did not. His great-great-grandfather, Harlan Hunter Hazard, had died with both legs blown off and his lifeblood oozing into the dark and bloody loam of the land he had loved, and it was passed down through the years that Captain Harlan Hazard had died dry of eye and bereft of regret while humming "Dixie."

That was during the 1864 Battle of the Crater, soon to be renamed by historians the First Battle of the Crater.

If Colonel Hazard could only know, his eyes would have shone with pride, for he loved his heritage far far more than he loved his life.

Instead, he piloted his silver Lexus at high speed while checking in with the caterers by cellular phone.

"Ah'm running a mite late," he told the caterer's office. "Them eatables been trucked in yet?"

A honeyed voice said, "Yes, Colonel Hazard."

"Right dandy. On account of mah boys and me expect a hard siege on the morrow, and they need full bellies and satiated souls to get them through the coming ordeal."

"According to the invoice," the voice continued, "you are getting hardtack, salt pork and red-eye beans sufficient to feed a party of thirty-five."

"That sounds about right, honey."

"No meat?"

"Mah great-great-grandpappy ate no meat unless you count rancid pork for the last six weeks of his God-fearing life. What was good enough for Grandpappy Hazard is right suitable enough for me and mah boys. Let them Yanks come loaded down with pork and beef. We'll whip 'em good and chase 'em clear back to perdition or California--whichever is furthest from Old Dominion."

"Good luck, Colonel. All of Virginia will be with you tomorrow."

"Amen," said Colonel Rip Hazard, his voice choking up. It was not for nothing that the Richmond News Leader had taken to calling him "the Hope of Virginia."

At the big brown sign that read Petersburg National Battlefield, he pulled off East Washington Street and followed Crater Road past Napoleon cannon batteries and earthen battlements to the rest area he knew so well. It was dark and so easy to imagine the fortifications as they were when newly erected, back when this was Jerusalem Plank Road.

At the parking area Rip Hazard pulled the Lexus in beside a beat-up '77 Chevy Impala that had been painted over a flat Confederate gray, the stars and bars of the Rebel flag covering the battered hood big as life.

That would be Robins's car. A good boy, that Robins. They were all good boys, but by this time tomorrow, God willing, they would have become men, baptized in bloody hand-to-hand combat with a fearsome and implacable foe.

Hurriedly Rip Hazard opened his trunk and removed the thousand-dollar replica Confederate uniform with blue piping and the gold stars of his rank, a three-hundred-dollar forage cap, yellow buck gauntlets and vintage Spencer repeating rifle. Removing his prescription glasses, he replaced them with 1864 coin-silver spectacles and retreated to the woods to change.

More than a change of outfit came over Colonel Hazard as he donned the regalia of his honored forebears. His dreamy blue eyes turned to flint, his soft face hardened and, leaving the raiment of the twentieth century behind, he strode into the piney woods a true son of Grandfather Harlan Hazard.

He felt as if he were walking back through time. Had he fully understood what lay in store for him, Colonel Hazard would have gone to his maker with a glad smile on his face. He loved the America that had given him his freedom, but he yearned for the South of old and, more importantly, for the South that never was, the victorious Confederate States of America led by wise old President Jefferson Davis.

But he knew none of these things. Only that a great battle impended and the first order of business before him was to break the difficult news to his men. Hazard didn't know how they would take the dire tidings. He couldn't imagine what they would say. But if they were gentlemen and patriots, they would buck up and endure as their forebears had.

As he walked, accoutrements jingling, his campaign saber scabbard slapping his lean blue thigh, Colonel Hazard detected the smell of fresh chicory coffee over the tang of salt pork frying.

Camp food. There was nothing like it on God's green footstool.

Then he heard the familiar harmonica strains.

"God damn those damn-fool pups!" Hazard snapped, breaking into a run.

The harmonica strains begat words, and the first sweet lyrics floated through the pines.

The years creep slowly by, Lorena, The snow is on the grass again. The sun's low down the sky, Lorena, The frost gleams where the flowers have been.

"Damn them!" Hazard cursed.

His men were bivouacked beyond the crater itself, in the shadow of Cemetery Ridge. Their too-innocent faces burned in the crackling camp fires.

It was Price who worked the harmonica across his mouth, eyes closed, oblivious to all except the rising voices of his fellow volunteers.

The years creep slowly by, Lorena, I'll not call up their shadowy forms. I'll say to them "lost years sleep on," Sleep on, nor heed life's pelting storms ....

"Turn out! All of you!"

The men jumped to their feet. All except Corporal Price, who sat transported by the strains of his own playing.

Colonel Hazard fell on him like a thunderclap, cuffing the offending instrument from his shocked hands and dragging Price off his stony perch with a strong right arm.

"At attention, you thoughtless cur!" he raged.

"Colonel Hazard! Beggin' your pardon, sir."

"Ah gave you no leave to speak."

Price swallowed. He pulled his fattish body to attention.

"But, sir," another voice quavered, "we were only singing."

Hazard whirled on the speaker. "A song Stonewall himself banned on account its doleful strains set good soldiers hankering for home and hearth. Ah'll have no sloppy sentimentalism in mah ranks. Is that clear to one and all?"

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