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Prologue

For sure, the world had changed beneath Mack Bolan's feet. He had been born to a triumphal world, reared in a frightened one, matured in a confused one, plied his manhood in a threatened one. What was next? A dead world? An enslaved one? Or a world again triumphant and reaching once more for the stars? Mack Bolan was no prophet, nor was he priest or politician.

He could not preordain a world of justice, freedom and abundance for all-and he was not sure that he would if he could. Bolan was a soldier, with a soldier's understanding of moving, forces. He knew that the planet earth had not been designed with Heaven in mind. It was a place for challenge and growth, a place where a force called Life raised awareness toward the stars and dreamed of rest, perhaps only because there is no "rest" in life, nor obviously had it ever been intended.

Things changed, sure. It had to be. Life was a process, not a thing in and of itself, but a force moving inexorably along a pattern of continuous action.

Process means change, yes, but change does not necessarily mean growth; it may also mean decay... or annihilation. This was Bolan's understanding and also a large part of his motivation. He lived now in a threatened world, a world almost literally torn apart by blind forces comstruggling violently toward a new order, a new stage for its actors, a new definition of "good." There were currents and crosscurrents in that struggle, tidal pools and eddies, also "rock and shoals," comz the navy called it, and Bolan knew the dangers were very real for this threatened world. He did not deal in personalities, in conventional moralities, in political nuances of right and wrong. This soldier dealt with a world in trouble, and it would not be a severe overstatement to say that he worked from a cosmic viewpoint. Some activities he perceived as beneficial, others as detrimental, to mankind as a whole. This remarkable warrior was not anti any person, group, cause or movement. He was pro World, and sought only to keep its changes forever positive and constructive, forever moving toward growth and away from decay and/or annihilation. It was, he knew, a struggle of cosmic dimensions.

One of the more troubling aspects for Bolan lay in the realization that some of those who would face him as antagonists would be as selflessly motivated by the same concerns that moved him, but with different goals in mind. Bolan had always respected the true soldier who fights for his idea of right, "enemy" or not. He took no joy from the death of such men. But he also did not shrink from the call of his duty as he perceived it. He could respect and still kill the holy warrior of whatever persuasion who sought to dominate the world as a means of saving it. He did not and could not, however, find any respect in his warrior's heart for those who indiscriminately killed and maimed innocents and terrorized populations in the name of their "holy" cause.

The cause is defamed and the war debased when children are murdered as deliberate pawns for power, and Bolan has no stomach for those who proxied their battles onto safe streets against a defenseless "enemy," no matter what the cause or motivation.

IRA, SLA, PLO or PDQ ( whomever and whatever, these initialized would-be warriors who dealt only in terror and intimidation of civil-populaces would find no stir of regret from the likes of a Mack Bolan should they ever rise into his gunsights; he would give them what they had bought by their own activities, and their blood would make no stains upon his soul. The world had changed, yes, and so had Mack Bolan... but not that much.

Not that much. The enemies of Man were still their own judges and their own juries-and Bolan was still their Executioner. Some things would never change.


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