Glenn Walker Is Gone And I Really Don’t Know What To Say About That

Maybe it’s because I knew Glenn but then again, I didn’t know him. Like so many of you reading this, I only have become friends with you because we’ve exchanged stories, anecdotes, ideas, life experiences, jokes and tragedies via The Internet. Yes, there’s a shared intimacy on a certain level but most of you I’ll never meet. That doesn’t mean to say I don’t want to. I hope to do so as so many people I’ve met online are some of the most fascinating and interesting people I’ve ever met in my life. Glenn was one of those.

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Glenn wrote for the Biff!Bam!Pop! entertainment website and that was one of the maybe six or seven websites that I would visit every single day while having that most important first cuppa joe in the morning. Thanks to Glenn, I got turned onto a lot of excellent writing and media information via that site and I can’t recommend it enough. Glenn wrote reviews, think pieces, what could be considered op-ed pieces and I would frequently read what he wrote and email him my thoughts and we’d go back and forth for a bit. Not arguing, mind you. But the email discussions were stimulating and Glenn always made me THINK, something I truly value in all my friendships, be they Real or Electronic. You want to be my bosom buddy? Then challenge me and make me THINK.

One of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid as both a writer and as a human being is when Glenn said in his review of “Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell” is that when he was trying to write a story in a pulp style he wrote on a sign “I want to be Derrick Ferguson when I grow up” and taped it on the wall above his desk. He was an enthusiastic Dillon fan and wrote several reviews of two of my Dillon books. We spent many hours online discussing pulp both Classic and New, movies, comics and I always came away both amazed and enriched. I always came away from a conversation with Glenn Walker having learned something new. Because Glenn had more ideas in a hour than most of us have in a week and it came out in his writing, his podcasts and his blog.

Apparently, Glenn was in poor health for a while, something I didn’t know but that was like Glenn and something I suspect we had in common; he wasn’t a complainer so his death took me totally by surprise and affected me in ways I’m sure won’t hit me until later. I’ve lost a few people this year and while they all were deeply affecting, on a whole different level, losing Glenn hurts. I had planned on making it a point on meeting him the next time I went down to Florida and now I’ll never get the opportunity and that is yet another reason to mourn.

But I did know him and that is reason to rejoice. And it gives me more incentive to meet more of my friends who I’ve only known online. So if for no other reason than I can touch them, hug them, share laughs and stories while actually in their company and connect. I think Glenn would approve.

Here’s a link to Glenn’s personal blog; Welcome To Hell. He wrote about movies, television, pop culture…the whole bloody business and he did it with style and grace. You want to honor the memory of the man? Then go read what he wrote.

And here’s a link to a wonderful elegy written by Andy Burns.

And here are links to the reviews Glenn wrote of two Dillon novels. Review that I will always treasure:

Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell 

Origins of Dillon

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The Griot of The Lost Refuge!

I bet you thought we forgot, but we honestly were way too busy at the time to bring you this the penultimate episode of the best animated cartoon miniseries never!

But here it is, the Episode Five of Derrick Ferguson‘s DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA!

In today’s episode Dillon, Coco Brown, Fortune McCall and the Golden Lady are reunited in time to hear a strange tale from THE GRIOT OF THE LOST REFUGE!

We join our story already in progress…

Dillon and Coco were herded into courtyard. the ground was smoothed and paved in stone that displayed images of ancient warriors in battle with creatures beyond description, an apparent record of the history of the men and women who had surprised them when they approached the hidden city. Dillon was fairly sure that the city, this legendary “Lost Refuge”, had been hidden by something more than natural camouflage. He had spent too much time out in the wild tracking and discovering hidden temples and buried civilizations and there was always something – a marker of some sort, remnants or artifacts… something to indicate that people actively occupying or recently passing through an area had been there in fact as much as fable. The way the ancient structures they entered suddenly appeared was so sudden that it couldn’t be just a trick of light and landscape.

In the center of a circular courtyard, sat a heap of gray cloth, that took the form of a man as they came closer. It was hard to gauge his size and a grim hood obscured his features. From the stiffness of his movements, Dillon presumed the man was quite old. The head beneath the hood craned up but the face was still hidden in gloom despite the small fire blazing before him.

“Do they have it?” The hooded man’s voice was a rasp of sandpaper slowly scraping wood.

The soldier or guard in charge who brought them here nodded. “They do. It led them to us and through the gate without incident.”

“Good, good.” The gray hood nodded slowly. “Bring them closer.”

Dillon and Coco crossed the circle. Dillon’s gaze scanned the courtyard, taking in details and filing them away. Like the weapons his captors carried, the city wasn’t what it seemed to be. The buildings were smooth carved white stone and the architecture resembled what one would find on ancient mosques, but some of the windows were lit from a modern source of illumination despite there being no obvious power generation system that he had been able to determine. The place was a paradox of the ancient and some sort of hidden advanced technology. The “gate” that was referred to wasn’t something that could be seen – one moment, he and Coco were following Fortune McCall’s trail had been blazed an hour or two earlier through a thickly covered jungle, the next they found themselves on a cleared out plain, surrounded by soldiers, with the Lost Refuge laid out before them and no sign of the veldt anywhere near them. Before Dillon or Coco could react, the leader fired off an energy beam from the tip of his spear to discourage any resistance. The soldiers didn’t disarm them, which told Dillon they didn’t feel the weapons the pair had available to them weren’t a viable threat, so they went along quietly. As they stood in front of the hooded man, Dillon was beginning to think maybe he and Coco should’ve taken their chances at the clearing.

“Please, sit. Sit!” The hooded man motioned to several cushions set nearby, some in stone bench frames, but most piled high on the polished pavement near the fire. Dillon settled on those making certain that if the need arose, he could move quickly. Coco followed suit and Dillon could see she was sizing up their host and scanning the area around them. If the hooded man noticed or cared, he made no sign of it outwardly. As they sat, one of the soldiers stepped into an alcove and emerged a few minutes later with a plate of fruit and a pot of tea with three earthen cups. He poured, the drinks, the hooded man took a cup from the tray and sipped gingerly. “You may feel free to join me or not. I do not waste excellent tea and handpicked fruit from my gardens with poison or drugs. You are my guests and your presence is welcome.”

Dillon picked up one of forks on the serving tray, speared a slice of melon, studied it for a moment, and took a bite. The sweetness almost made his toes curl. He waited for the bite to go down and after a few seconds passed with no ill affect, he took another.

“Okay, so we’re welcome guests here,” Dillon said finishing the first slice and spearing a second with his fork. “Just guests that require twenty armed men with laser weapons to stand around while we make nice.” Dillon’s fork made an arc, taking in the soldiers standing alert and ready. “I sure feel cozy.”

The hooded man nodded at the lead guard who made a gesture to his men who promptly melted away into the corridors that led to the greater city beyond the courtyard. Besides Dillon, Coco, and the hooded man; the lead guard and three of his men remained in the courtyard but far enough back to be considered a respectful distance for conversation. “Good. Good. Now before we begin, I have one last loose end to tie up with you. Bring them.” The head guard nodded and disappeared for a few moments. When he returned, the Golden Lady and Fortune McCall were in tow.

“I return your friends to you,” the hooded man said. “They have served their purpose by getting you here.”

McCall and the Golden Lady crossed over to Dillon and Coco. “They got the drop on me, Dillon,” McCall began.

“Don’t sweat it,” Dillon said cutting him off. “They jumped us too, probably the same way.”

“Is that better for you, Mr. Dillon?”

Dillon started to ask how the hooded man knew him, but considering everything that had gotten him to this point, he simply assumed that his name had preceded his actual presence for a bit. “That’s fine. Thanks.”

“I presume you have questions,” the hooded man plucked a slice of mango from the plate. “I probably have answers to most if not all of them. However I have one first: Where is the mask of Amiri Ezana?”

Dillon knew, they knew he had it. He slid the pack he was wearing from his shoulders, fished around inside and pulled up the bag he had secured the mask in when he and Coco recovered it in Kaizaro. Dillon loosened the drawstring and pulled the opening loose.

The mask of Amiri Ezana was glowing for the first time since that night he first encountered it in the Golden Lady’s tower. It gently rose out of the bag and hovered obediently between Dillon and the hooded man. The fire was almost directly below the mask and the light of the flames cast shadows on the mask making it seem like a living thing.

“At last!” The hooded man exhaled heavily as if he had been holding that particular breath for several eternities with infinities to go.

“You didn’t say the mask did tricks, Dillon,” Coco said sitting next to him. She seemed mesmerized by the floating mask which held her attention, Coco’s focus went from the mask to Dillon. “What the hell is going on? What’s this about?”

“That, young lady, is why we are gathered here” the hooded man said. “It is a relic finally returned to its rightful home and it is time to fulfill the destiny it was created for.”

“And that is?” Coco asked.

“A story I’m about to share”, the hooded man replied.

“Great”, said Dillon, “You can start with who you are, what this place is and maybe explain why the mask is doing…” Dillon waved a hand in the direction of the floating, glowing mask, “…whatever the hell you call that.”

The hooded man chuckled softly. “The mask is doing what it normally does when it’s near one who has plumbed its secrets. I? I wear many names, Mr. Dillon, but for the next few moments, I am merely a griot with a story to tell. I trust you will grant me time to tell it since it is necessary you understand what has come before in order to understand what will follow.” Coco began to say something, but a look from Dillon made her pause. She was about to ask about what was following what, but Dillon’s look seemed to say that he wanted this self-appointed griot to spin his story uninterrupted. “As to the name of this place, it, like me has many names. Some call it the “Quiet Place”, others the “Palace of Whispers”, most know it as the “Lost Refuge” – but its proper name to us who live here is Chigaro cheMambo.”

Dillon thought he recognized the words, but couldn’t place the language exactly. He ran through a few phrases, things one picks up crisscrossing the globe over the years. No it wasn’t Kissi, or Maasai, or Jalaa… Shona, it was Shona. Something to do with kings…

“So ‘Land of the King’?” Dillon asked.

“Seat, Mr. Dillon, Seat of the King to be exact.” The griot nodded beneath is hood. “You are as advertised and as expected, Mr. Dillon. Very good.”

Dillon looked surprised. “Seat of the King? That’s —“

“Correct again, Mr. Dillon. That is a story from your childhood, is it not?” The hooded man took another sip of tea. “I trust I have your full attention now?”

It was Coco’s turn to look at Dillon in surprise. “The Seat of the King? What are you two talking about?”

Dillon spoke, but did not take his eyes off the griot as he answered. “The Seat of the King is part of a legend of a wandering warrior king who was considered to be one of the greatest protectors of Shamballah and was the first true Warmaster of Liguria. But…” Dillon’s expression was intense, like he was trying to pull a detail from his memory that refused to budge. “…no, there’s something else. The details are right, but they’re not right at the same time.”

“Considering the last time you heard the story, you were probably a boy, that is astoundingly good, Mr. Dillon.” The griot was staring right at Dillon and yet the glow of the firelight couldn’t penetrate the shadow the hood cast to clearly make out the man’s features. “The part you missed was the warrior’s original home before he began his travels and why he was wandering the world in the first place.”

“A castaway warrior king,” Dillon said absently. It was obvious he was trying to pull together the details of the legend he recognized. “He caged a demon, but his people cast him out because he became the monster he defeated.”

“Their belief was the warrior king became the evil he fought. The truth was he finally found clarity. He became both the light and the dark,” the griot said. “He became sure of his purpose and that purpose was to lead. To rule. To eradicate the darkness with light and if that wasn’t possible, with a greater darkness than what his foes could muster.” Coco started. She was fairly sure that the griot’s voice was changing, becoming richer and less raspy. “He, and his followers, were cast out of their lost paradise into the world outside by those who feared the power he discovered. To insure that he was never able to return, they locked away his access to their realm by hiding their land from human eyes as well as his own.”

“But not before draining away some of the power he gained.” Dillon’s eyes seemed to focus on some distant marker in his past that no longer existed, but nonetheless foretold of a hazard to come. “It was said they took the very heart of his power as he was exiled. That energy was locked away in a totem and…”

“Patience, Dillon,” the griot said. “There is more to tell. For a time the warrior king wandered the world until he and his followers found Shamballah. They fought, and even ruled there. They formed the core of what would eventually become the Warmasters of Liguria and were also the source for many of the martial arts found throughout what you call Asia and Africa. Their battles were glorious! The Pale Colossus of Shanto, The Night Lords of the Bygone Land, the Deathwalker, the Fourth Child of Doom – so many foes and each one that was defeated restored some of the power the Castaway King.

As they journeyed through the outside world, their fame brought them followers. Warriors who thought that they could become part of the legendary band, but at best could serve as vassals. Pieces to employ as agents among the peoples of the outside world.”

“Like the Azure Dragons,” Coco said.

“Yes, child.” The griot’s hood dipped slightly in her direction. “The Dragons were probably the greatest and most loyal of those outside the Castaway King’s circle of true warriors. Their enthusiasm at being considered the elite among their peers made them the perfect arm into the outside world while the Castaway King and his people looked for a place to settle and wait until they found the means to return to their homeland. Eventually they found an area that was lush, green and full and this place was built as a home to those who served the Castaway King.”

“So this ‘Castaway King’ is dead and gone by now, right?“ Coco’s sentence trailed off as she saw the stricken expression on Dillon’s face. “Dillon?”

“I don’t think so, Coco…” Dillon stared hard at the mask as the light it radiated intensified. He frowned and started to reach for his gun.

The Golden Lady took in a sharp breath. “Dillon the mask!”

“Ah,” the griot rose from his sitting position to his full height and towered over Dillon who rose at the same time. “You’ve figured it out, but you’re too late!” With a savage jerk, the griot tore away his hooded robes to reveal a powerfully built black man with a well groomed goatee covering strong features. He snatched the mask from the air and placed it over his face. As he did so the mask seemed to melt into the flesh it touched and as the man took his hands away from his face, Dillon and Coco saw that the two had somehow merged. The markings on the mask; the gold and pearl crown were now blended into his features.

“And I have you to thank for reuniting me with the totem that held the last of my power. I am Amiri Ezana, the Castaway King, and the one true Warrior Lord of —“

“Usimi Dero,” Dillon said with a whisper.

Amiri Ezana smiled and the aspect of the mask that conformed to his features stretched them into something hideous – an expression that bore the mark of evil and madness behind the pools of molten gold his eyes had become.

Coco placed a hand on Dillon’s shoulder as she looked up at Amiri Ezana. “So how exactly does the legend end?”

Dillon looked at her and pulled his Jericho. “Doesn’t matter, C. We’re gonna have to do a rewrite.”

“I was really hoping you weren’t going to say that.”

Amiri Ezana laughed. “I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you, the children of Usimi Dero are going home. It is a truth that is out of your hands.

“Don’t think so,” Dillon replied. “You just melded with a mask from a time when you were bat-shit crazy,” Dillon took aim. “I think the last thing I’m about to do is let you go on a field trip to the old neighborhood and see what goes down next.”

“Pity,” Amiri Ezana said with the hint of a sigh. “I’ll just have to destroy the world without an audience.”

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We Join Our Story, Already In Progress…

And the greatest cartoon miniseries never is BACK!

Today, Dillon finally gets a line on the Mask of Amiri Ezana and is in the middle of trying to recover it in Kaizaro in the African nation Orlorei. Riding shotgun with him is Agent Brown a freelance investigator working for a spy agency Dillon’s never even heard of called ECHO in today’s episode of Derrick Ferguson‘s DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA: SHOWDOWN IN THE SILVER SPHERE!

We join our story, already in progress.

As he fell in behind Agent Brown, Dillon was still being surprised by her. She was a deceptive package: gorgeous, funny, and a seasoned pro that he’d easily rank up there with any of the operators he’d encountered in his adventures. Right now though, he was glad she was with him as they ascended the last level of the building below the distinctive globe that took up. They’d been fighting Azure Dragons since they set foot across the lobby and it was a running battle that had cost them time as whatever the hell the mask of Amiri Ezana was needed for was coming to a head. Brown, stopped short, placing her hand on Dillon’s chest. The wicked looking jet black modified Pepperbox pistol she carried seemed to just appear from thin air.

“We’ve got company,” she said softly. She threw back her hair and slipped on a pair of wraparound black sunglasses. She tapped the frame with a delicate finger. “I’m picking up three, maybe four heat signatures nearby. We’ve got a few minutes though, they may still be waiting on a call from that guy with the radio downstairs.”

“Okay,” Dillon nodded at Brown’s glasses, “how do those work?”

“Standard ECHO tech – the glasses have multiple functions built in. The heat signature thing is meant to be used in night vision situations, but I use it like limited radar through the HUD.”

“And I didn’t get those before we came here because —“

“You didn’t ask?” Brown chuckled as she replied. “They just handed me a pair because I said I needed a way to get data updates on the fly.”

“Seriously?”

“A closed mouth, don’t get fed, Dillon.”

“Seems like a small bunch,” Dillon said steering the conversation back to the current situation. “You’d think with all the Dragons we’ve put down so far, there’d be a bigger bunch protecting the mask.” Dillon pulled his Jericho, “In fact I’m surprised the local law hasn’t dropped by to investigate why a couple of those Dragons wound up high diving into the sidewalk outside.”

“Past them is the elevator to the exclusive floors in the Silver Sphere. I think this bunch is a patrol. As to the fallen Dragons, if there’s one thing they do well in Kaizaro, it’s cater to the whims of the wealthy.” Agent Brown expelled a sigh, “Public Works will mop them up and pretend the whole thing was a performance art piece with digitally altered footage for the news.”

“Well I figure we can handle this,” Dillon said.

Agent Brown flashed Dillon another one of those damn smiles that made him forget they were in a situation where a building full of assassins were trying to kill them. “Baby, we had this before we showed up. If it gets too heavy, You get to the elevator and I’ll hold things down here.”

“You sure about that?”

“If I wasn’t, it doesn’t matter,” Agent Brown responded. “This is the job.”

Dillon smiled “When this is over, we’re going out.”

“You think so?” Brown said absently.

“A closed mouth, don’t get fed, Brown.”

“Um-hmm,” Brown replied, Dillon was rewarded with a smirk that seemed to promise that if they did make it, she just might let him take her out.

“Okay, it’s almost showtime,” Brown said, her voice dropping to a whisper.

“One last thing though,” Dillon said.

“What’s that?”

“I’m not calling you “Agent Brown” on date night.”

“Coco.”

If Dillon had been drinking water, he knew that was a spit take. “Come again?”

Brown sighed and grinned, “Here we go…”

“You’re joking with me though, right? Who names their kid ‘Coco Brown’?”

“My Pops thought ‘Constance Corrine’ was beautiful at the hospital, it was ‘Coco’ by the time Momma got home from the hospital,” Brown said.

Dillon nodded, “Okay, Coco Brown, let’s get ready to mash on these last Dragons.”

Coco, heard Dillon stifling a snicker, “Well laugh it up, big man, but do me a favor.”

“What’s that?”

“Be careful with the jokes if you ever meet my aunt. She don’t play that.”

“And her name is?”

“Later. Here we go!”

Three Azure Dragons emerged from the corridor near the elevator bank and Dillon’s eye flashed gold as soon as he saw the man at point: Xuanzhuan Siwang.

“Man I am getting tired of that little bastard!”

Coco checked her Pepperbox a last time. “Well handle your business, I can hold down the other two.”

“Bet. Just don’t kill them, we still need to locate the mask.”

Coco sprang from their cover gun blazing. She fired wide to scatter them and choose her target. She was a crimson and black blur as she went for the Dragon to the left of Xuanzhuan Siwang. She went from a full run to a slide that dropped her below the blade swung at her. She let her momentum carry her between the blade and knee, of the Dragon and Coco hammered both fists into the man’s groin. The Dragon groaned sucked in air and his eyes bugged out like an old Warner Brothers cartoon wolf, and Coco came up from her slide, pivoted and hammered the Dragon in the back of the neck where the base of the skull met up with the spinal cord. Already dazed, the Dragon was slammed face first into the unyielding floor.

She was already in motion for the next man as Xuanzhuan Siwang and Dillon began to square off. They had encountered one another enough over the last couple of weeks to know what they were dealing with. Dillon knew the second he saw his opening, he had to roll on Xuanzhuan Siwang hard and fast. He had already holstered his gun so he wouldn’t give in to the urge to let off a shot that could go astray. The last thing he needed was to be distracted against a man who showed he was more than capable of taking Dillon down.

So, of course, that’s when the whole damn situation went sideways as the elevator bells dinged across the row of elevators going up to the Silver Sphere and vomited a squadron of Azure Dragons. Dillon and Coco were easily outnumbered twenty to one.

“I shall be the one to bury you, dead man.” Xuanzhuan Siwang smiled. “But I will take my time, make you beg for death and deny you that death for as long as I possibly can. You will…”

“Dillon, is this guy going to talk us to death or what?” Coco Brown had her gun up and was sweeping the circle of Dragons who were apparently waiting for the order to take them.

Dillon played along. “He’s like that, Coco. The man is a damn chatterbox.”

Xuanzhuan Siwang went from smug to confused. He opened his mouth to speak when from the floor below came a tide of ECHO agents and a battle royale nobody asked for took off on its own. Xuanzhuan Siwang didn’t wait, the Dragons had turned their attention to the ECHO agents, while he exercised the better part of valor and scrambled for the elevator.

“Oh HELL no!” Dillon bellowed as he smashed through combatants on both sides, bulling his way through the melee in pursuit. Xuanzhuan Siwang had reached the car and slapped the button to the floors above. The doors had nearly closed when Dillon squeezed through like a man late for an interview. Xuanzhuan Siwang flattened against the wall of the car. “Not possible!”

“Okay, Siwang,” Dillon’s gold flecked eyes narrowed, “let’s see who’s burying who today.”

With a snarl, Xuanzhuan Siwang sprung towards Dillon.

Dillon smiled. “You know, I think I’m gonna miss your crazy ass when this is all over.”

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Now Before We Begin The Next Episode…

Now before we begin the next episode…

This is a bit of conjecture on my part because I was having fun with visuals which means I ignored Dillon’s continuity a bit when mixing the mess together…

…so any resemblance to characters already wandering in Dillon’s universe are purely coincidental…

…and kinda sorta intentional as you’re about to see…

Also parts 4, 5, and 6 were in various stages of production before the muse took a nap. They’ll appear as completed. But thanks for allowing me to indulge myself and then be a public exhibitionist gluing words together for a story that doesn’t exist…

…yet.

To be continued….

And now, episode three of Derrick Ferguson‘s DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA, already in progress…

The gambling room exploded into chaos.

Dillon and Xuanzhuan Siwang crashed through the doors from the deck in a tangle of limbs. The little man still held on to his massive bagua dao, and Dillon was doing his best to keep it out of play by shifting his weight so his left arm pinned down Siwang’s sword hand. Dillon’s right kept busy by delivering three sharp rabbit punches that collided with the side of Siwang’s head enough to rock him. Dillon was a little startled that his blows didn’t have a greater effect. He once decked a sailor who was twice the size in a bar in Casablanca with two blows of similar force – Siwang just looked mildly annoyed. Dillon felt the little man squirm away from under him, he was trying adjust himself to regain his advantage when he felt something graze his chest before his chin caught a blow so hard that his teeth slammed together with an audible clack.

The crowd didn’t need much more incentive than that, the room became a madhouse of screaming and panicked patrons crowding the exits in their frenzy to get out of the path of giant sword as it arced up into Siwang’s left hand. Dillon’s floundering around had temporarily numbed his favored arm. Unlike their earlier encounters though, it was obvious to Dillon that Siwang wasn’t expecting him to be on board this particular gambling ship, especially one in waters off the African coast so very far from the shores of Xonira. As Dillon sidestepped a heavyset woman in a shimmering sequin gown who wore so much perfume it made his eyes water, he saw Siwang’s glare taking in the room.

“I am not here for you, dead man,” Siwang said coldly. “If you try to hinder me, your death will occur far more painfully than the one I’ve consigned you to.”

Dillon’s eyes flared their molten gold fury back, “Look, are we gonna fight or are you gonna haiku me to death?”

They were both looking for an opening when a door opened from behind Dillon and the dapper man who owned the vessel cum fight club stormed into the room.

“Trevor, what the hell is going on?!”

Dillon didn’t have a chance to respond to his host who until now, assumed that the man calling himself “Trevor St. Simon” was just a guy trying to work his passage off after being caught as a stowaway after they left Xonira last week. Siwang’s expression changed with the entrance of the new arrival.

“He is here,” Siwang said calmly. “STRIKE!”

And the gambling room exploded into chaos yet again as men stormed in from the galley and from below decks. Dillon counted six, maybe seven some carrying guns, some carrying deadly looking blades much like the one Siwang just shifted over to his right hand. From the grin on his face, Dillon didn’t bother to wait, he was already in motion and airborne, tackling his host hard enough that the momentum pushed them both behind the the marble bar that he knew was reinforced with a steel core for situations like this. Siwang’s Azure Dragon brothers also performed on instinct, cutting lose with a hail of bullets.

“Trevor, what the hell —“

“Not Trevor”, Dillon said pulling his back up gun from the ankle holster he wore, “my name is Dillon.”

“Trev- wait, did you say ‘Dillon’?”

“Yep.” Dillon popped up from behind the bar, let lose three shots, then dropped down in time to miss the next volley of bullets twanging off the imported marble which seemed to be protesting the indignity.

“Dillon the wanted terrorist Dillon?”

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” Dillon popped up again got off another four shots and was rewarded with two men dropping as he dropped down to reload.

“So wait a minute, these guys are here trying to capture you?!”

“Nope.” Another volley cut into the bar. Dillon had managed to reload, but once he emptied this clip, things got dicey. “I think they’re out to get you.”

“For what?” Dillon caught the exasperated surprise from his companion.

“You tell me, man,” Dillon replied, “I’m a stranger here, myself.”

Dillon popped up, got off four more rounds and dropped at least one more man. He also noted the knives were at the ready. As he dropped down he heard his companion hiss, “Aw, HELL, no!”

Dillon wasn’t expecting what happened next. The man next to him smacked a panel and an old fashioned tommy gun slid out from a concealed panel. His host caught it smoothly cocked it and came up blasting. The Dragons who were behind the remaining gunmen started to scramble, the gunmen were trying to sight, and return fire while running. The tommy, was too busy redefining the meaning of spitting lead to be concerned. When his host dropped back behind the bar, he looked at Dillon who seemed to have a question, but wasn’t quite sure how to phrase it. the smaller man reached across to another panel and slammed it open. He leaned in grabbed a smooth black case and opened it.

“Okay,” he yelled over the counter. “If anyone’s still left out there breathing and in a fighting mood, I’m not having it. You’ve obviously gotten the rest of the crew out the way, so here’s how this goes: I’m armed, I’m pissed I’m gonna have to close this room off for the rest the damn voyage plus renovate when we put in which is going to cost me time and money, and I just got my uzis out of cold storage. I don’t give a rat’s ass why you’re here, but if you’re not out when I come up, I’m sending everyone home in some of the best goddamned Tupperware money can buy.”

They heard some grunting and movement that sounded like bodies being dragged away.

“I see, I now have two dead men to contend with.” Dillon sighed. Siwang was still among the living.

“Whatever, punk,” Dillon’s companion roared. “Just get the hell off my boat before I have to get rowdy. You ain’t ready to see that kind of ugly, son.”

More dragging came to their ears along with the opening and closing of doors.

From farther away than the last time he spoke, Siwang said, “This is not over.”

“Oh it’s over,” Dillon’s companion yelled back. “Our next conversation starts with a bullet in your behind as our ice breaker. Now get to gettin’!”

They heard the sound of the door opening and closing a final time. Both men sat behind the bar an extra minute listening to bits of marble giving up the effort to hang on to the whole.

“So,” Dillon’s host said absently.

“So,” Dillon replied.

“They say you killed a lot of good people back in Xonira.”

Dillon sighed and shook his head. “Wasn’t me.”

“The little dude with the giant butterknife?”

“Yep.”

“Figured.”

Dillon leaned around the bar. “No one’s waiting to kill us.”

“Day’s looking up.”

“Yep.”

“Well, I don’t know about you, but as soon as I check on the crew —“

Dillon raised a finger. “Down in the hold. I stumbled on them when you sent me downstairs for more champagne. My good friend “Whirling Death” turned up before I could get them loose.”

“Ah,” his host reached for his hat which he had put on a shelf under the bar earlier. He plopped the gray fedora on his head and rose. “I guess I’ll go straight to the having a drink portion of the rescue then.” He sorted through the mess that was once an impressive array of spirits, grimaced, and reached under the counter. “Well, I guess it really is your lucky day, Mr. Dillon. It’s Demerara.”

“Works for me.” Dillon rose and looked at the open case. He laughed and shook his head.

“What?”

“Nothing, man. Pour.” Dillon watched as his host gave up a generous portion of the bottle, Dillon could afford to nurse his favorite rum for a moment. “I think I figured out why the Azure Dragons were so hot to do whatever they planned to do to you.”

Dillon’s host took a sip of his drink and tipped back the fedora. “Do tell.”

“You’re linked to Khusra royalty aren’t you?”

Dillon’s companion burst out laughing, “Man, no! I’ve enjoyed a quiet life of exile from there for the last few decades. If I’m connected to anything, it’s a bunch of folks still mad that I’m running a literal floating crap game and own my own island with a casino resort that’ll put any house on Star Island or Vegas to shame.”

Dillon frowned. The man before him had a history of being evasive, but he let it lie. “What about what’s in the case here?”

His host smiled realizing why Dillon laughed a few minutes ago. he dipped his hand into the case and took out a gray duster overcoat. He slid into it easily, and checked himself in the one mirrored pane that remained intact.

“Well if I was going to die today, I was going to look my best.”

“You told the man you had uzis.”

“I did.”

“What under the coat?” Dillon looked back at the case but didn’t see anything obvious in its construction to presume there were a pair of uzis hidden away.

“Nope.” Dillon’s companion walked over to a spot in the middle of the room. He reached over the roulette table and flipped a hidden switch. A drawer sprung out and Dillon could see the familiar squat shape of two uzis and enough ammo to hold off a few dozen men if necessary.

“So you’re saying…”

“They were under our friends out here,” Dillon’s host said. “Good thing we weren’t in the billiard room, I’ve got two old school bazooka launchers behind the cue rack.”

“So you bluffed them.”

“I’m a gambler, Mr. Dillon. Now, let’s get the crew out of the hold and the passengers back to Fortune’s Cove and then try to figure out why the Azure Dragons are looking to eliminate the wrong man, not to mention the wrong generation of Fortune McCall.”

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Dillon and The Mask of Amiri Ezana: Part Two

Dillon had no idea why the small man dressed as a server was at the convention center. Well it was obvious that the little man was up to no good given how he turned rabbit and ran when Dillon saw him preparing to hide a package on one of the serving carts going into the hall where the delegates were meeting. Even without looking around, Dillon knew that Rual had seen him move for the door and was probably signaling his men to give chase and find out what was happening. This was one time the Xoniran security chief’s obvious disdain for Dillon would work to his advantage, he had been so obsessed with showing up Xonira’s favorite adopted son that Dillon figured by the time he caught up to the little man with the package, Xoniran security and the assorted military escorts of all the delegates on the island would show up en masse to back him up. Right now, though, Dillon was having a devil of a time keeping up with the springy little man who was starting to open up his lead.

The small man did a quick look over his shoulder, his long hair was tied into a pony tail and whipped across his shoulder like a ferret hanging on for dear life. Without being right up on him, Dillon could see he was of either Asian or Islander origin. With Xonira being a land founded by uniquely diverse groups of people from across the world, this didn’t mark the little man as unusual – he could’ve been a native, immigrant or tourist. Dillon wouldn’t know anything until he caught him. That task was starting to look easier as he pushed himself to pick up the pace. Dillon was a big man, but his size was deceptive where speed was concerned. The gap bean to close a little as the two men flew down rain slicked streets like they were the leads in a marathon, when the little man looked one more time, flashed Dillon a smile and sprang into an alley. Before he even reached the mouth of the alleyway, he heard the noises that made him want to spit nails. Sure enough, the little man was already scrambling up the side of the building to the rear employing some kind of freerunning method that Dillon wasn’t going to pull off in a tux and dress shoes.

That was when Dillon heard a roaring noise behind him and he turned.

The convention hall, that was filled with international dignitaries when he left, had exploded and was being consumed in a conflagration that belched waves of heat that Dillon imagined he could feel even though he was several blocks away.

As his mind raced over what he should do next, he saw the little man’s package in a heap about midway through the alley. His movements were automatic, he saw the contents of the package strewn across the concrete and moved to investigate. Dillon hadn’t noticed that his quarry hadn’t left from his perch, but the little man wore a smile as he watched Dillon squat down and extract a pen from his pocket to poke around the debris. His eyes widened as he recognized the materials were not just items that could be used to make bombs…

…they were from his weapons locker on his plane.

“I’ll save you the trouble, Mr. Dillon. There is plenty of evidence at the site of the blast to tie you to what has just happened”, the little man yelled. “Let me be the first to congratulate you on becoming an international terrorist. By morning you’ll be the most wanted man in the world.”

Dillon stood. It was a frame, probably not a solid one, but one that would pull him off of the quest to discover the secret behind the mask of Amiri Ezana long enough for this joker and his friends to find the Golden Lady before he did. Plus this would cut him off from everything he usually had at his disposal, his friends, his resources, anywhere, including Xonira, was no longer a safe haven. The little man wasn’t seen by anyone else, and Dillon had the sneaking suspicion he was lured away from the hall in a manner that made it look like he was trying to escape the building before it blew up.

In a sentence: Dillon knew he was screwed. Still, he didn’t bother with anything other than burning the features of the little man above him into his memory. Dillon made a promise to himself that he would resolve their unfinished business sooner over later.

“One thing, friend” Dillon said by way of a response.

“A dead man should have a last wish, Mr. Dillon, what shall yours be?”

“I’d like to know your name.”

The little man smiled and stood with an ear cocked. Dillon did likewise and could hear the distant sound of sirens. He was going to have to get the hell out of Dodge soon if he wanted a chance at getting off the island before security locked the place up tighter than a convent in Miami during Spring Break.

The little man bowed low from the waist. “That is the easiest wish to fulfill, Mr. Dillon. I intended to leave it with you. A dead man should know who murdered him.

“I am Xuanzhuan Siwang of the Society of the Azure Dragon. We await you should you survive long enough to find us.” Siwang, stepped back, bowed once more, and was gone.

The sirens were getting louder, coming closer. If he could make it to the roof, Dillon could double back to get to his suite of rooms, grab his bug out bag and lay low in his bolt hole while he figured out what to do next. He had no one to call and no one he could count on or trust.

But he had a name. “Xuanzhuan Siwang”, Dillon whispered to himself as he tried to remember his Chinese. He frowned as he figured it out and what the name translated to. The sirens broke him from his thoughts and he did the only thing he could do, Dillon ran.

But in the back of his mind, he was already trying to work out what he had to do to clear his name when he found the Society of the Azure Dragon and once again met Xuanzhuan Siwang, the polite little man whose name translated to “Whirling Death”.

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Sean E. Ali’s Been Busy…

From the same folks who brought you the greatest live action hero film adaptation never, Derrick Ferguson’s DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN, comes the six episode animated miniseries that never happened: DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA.

Here’s some of the dialogue from the first episode: “THE LAIR OF THE GOLDEN LADY”…

“Lady, after everything I went through to get here, there’s not a damned thing you can say that will be any more effective than all those guys downstairs hoping that medical is part of the henchmen health plan.” Dillon’s eyes were pools of molten gold as his gaze fastened on the mask of Amiri Ezana in the slim fingers of the Golden Lady. “You took something that doesn’t belong to you, and I’m here to get it back.”

The Lady seemed to not be terribly concerned over Dillon’s declaration. She continued to focus her attention on the mask. “Mr. Dillon, you say nothing will prevent you from taking the mask back to the museum. Fine. I’m happy to return it once I’m done with it.” She whispered something that even Dillon’s acute hearing could not make out and with her free hand she made a pass over the mask. Dillon thought it was probably a trick of the light, but mask seemed to be… struggling to break free of the Golden Lady’s grasp. Her fingers fell away as if she were releasing a bird and the mask of Amiri Ezana began to glow as it glided above her outstretched palm.

“Tell me something, Mr. Dillon. Have you ever heard of a land called…Shamballah?”

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So Is Dillon’s Real Name Dillon Or What?

This has been a question asked of me for longer than I can remember, actually. It seems as if from his first online appearance way back in the Frontier days where DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN was first serialized, people have been asking me on a regular basis; “Is Dillon his first or last name? Is it an alias? If it is, what’s his real name? And if it isn’t, then why does he only have one name?”

An old online writing pal of mine, Joel McCrory thinks that Dillon won’t reveal his last name because it’s Savage. Gave me a long laugh there (which I seriously needed, considering the summer I’ve had) but no…Dillon is in no way, shape or form related to the Savage clan. Except that the exploits of Dr. Clark Savage, Jr. have most definitely been an influence in the adventures of my creation.

So here’s the straight skinny: Dillon’s never had another name because when I created him that’s the way he presented himself to me; as Dillon. One name and one name only. And here’s one of the main reasons why. As I said many times elsewhere, there’s a lot of DNA in many characters in Dillon such as James Bond, Derek Flint, James West, Doc Savage, Race Bannon. But the one character that I think can legitimately claim to be Dillon’s creative grandfather is Paladin, the hero of the classic Western TV series “Have Gun Will Travel”

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No, Dillon doesn’t doesn’t go around passing out business cards proclaiming his stock-in-trade. But like Paladin he is an highly educated man with extensive knowledge in martial arts (there are some episodes of “Have Gun Will Travel” where we see Paladin practicing judo). They both are proficient with weapons and while they both take pay for their services that doesn’t mean they don’t have a sense of honor or what is right. Remember in DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL when he forfeits a twenty million dollar payday if Lord Murphy C’jai will blow up The Golden Bell so that nobody else will find it?

And they both go around in well-dressed suits until it comes time for them to go to work and then they both dress in highly distinctive and stylish outfits that proclaim to the world that they mean business. We know right from the start of the show that Paladin resides at the obscenely lavish and expensive Hotel Carlton in San Francisco (which I’ve always believed he secretly owned) but we’ve only just learned in DILLON AND THE PROPHECY OF FIRE that he has an obscenely lavish and expensive private estate in Pennsylvania named Coppereye (in homage to Ian Fleming’s Bahamian Goldeneye estate)

And like Dillon, we went through most of Paladin’s career not knowing much about the man he was before taking up his unusual career until the 6th and final season’s first episode; “Genesis” in which we at last learn the origin of Paladin. I’m not gonna summarize it for you here. Go find it for yourself. It’s one of the best origin stories you’re ever gonna see. Trust me. But I will tell you this: at the end of the episode we still don’t find out what Paladin’s real name is.

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Over the years I have been revealing Dillon’s background little by little and I think that those of you who have been following the character like it that way. But on the subject of his name content yourself with knowing him as Dillon.

And quite honestly…would you want to know him as anything else?

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