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Written by Andrew Roberts These stories are based on characters and settings by Pinnacle Entertainment and Great White

Games.

Somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle 1934 The sounds of gunfire pulled Buck Savage out of his stupor. The other passengers on the Clipper were ducking in their seats as they felt the rapid decrease in altitude. The sound of several other engines could be heard outside. Air pirates. Buck muttered to himself. He anticipated that they would be making an emergency landing so they could be boarded. A steward was making his way to the front of the passenger cabin. Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you not to panic. He addressed, These people wish to come aboard, and when they do, you must follow their instructions. It will all be over soon.

Buck remained seated, feeling the heavy bump as the Clipper hit the water. It became eerily quiet as the engines wound down. Looking out of the window, Buck could make out two red seaplanes setting down nearby. Shouts were heard as the doors opened. A man in aviation gear entered the passenger cabin, a tommy gun pointed at everybody. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your new captain speaking. He announced, Everybody is to remain seated for the duration of this emergency landing. Once directed, present your valuables to my in-flight crew. I dont want any heroics. As he spoke, two more pirates entered the passenger cabin while two others ran into the cockpit. Buck sat and watched as they snatched items from the passengers; wallets, watches, jewellery, anything that looked like it worth something. One of the pirates trained a Colt automatic on him while grabbing his satchel, watching as several gold coins dropped out, along with some old maps. Whats this? The pirate demanded. Read the maps and youll find out. Buck replied, There wont be much there. As he spoke, he tried to reach for his holster. Keep your hands where I can see them! The pirate yelled. What have you found? The spokesman with the Tommy gun asked. Weve got some kind of treasure hunter on board. The other pirate replied. Stand him up. The pirate gestured with his Colt. Buck raised his hands and obliged, stepping into the aisle. His leather jacket and fedora made him stand out amongst the other passengers. The pirate directing him opened is holster and pulled the revolver out. I could use a treasure hunter like you. The spokesman said, Youre coming with us. If you insist. Buck responded.

Buck was led outside by the pirates and directed to sit in one of the seaplanes. As the pilot started the engine and took off, Buck sat back and watched the Clipper fade away into the distance. After a short flight, the seaplanes touched down near a tramp steamer. Buck imagined that they were somewhere in the vicinity of Cuba, but he wasnt sure. H e was hauled out of the seaplane by one of the pirates and herded up a gangplank. On the deck, he was grabbed by two rough-looking sailors as a man in a white suit limped over, a walking stick clutched in his hand. I thought we decided against hostages. He reminded his crew. This ones supposed to be a treasure hunter. The spokesman reported, I figured he might interpret those papers we found ifproperly motivated. The man in the suit paused for a moment. I recognise that attire. He pondered, You must be Buck Savage. So, youve heard of me. My name is Jacques Cunningham. The man introduced, And like you, I am a thief. The only difference is that I choose to rob the living. However, there is something in my possession which should interest you, which Iobtained from a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Just tell me where they are. Buck replied. As you wish. Jacques answered. The sailors holding Buck prepared to lead him away when Jacques gestured them to halt. Just dont try anything. He warned, pulling the head off his cane to reveal a concealed blade. I do not take kindly to double crossing.

Buck was led into one cabin, where he was presented with a set of scroll cases. Jacques stood across from him, while the two sailors kept him seated. What do you know about them? Jacques asked, What do the scrolls speak of? Sorry to disappoint, Buck answered, But I dont know. The writing looks like a form of ancient Japanese, but I have no idea what it says. Well, I guess youre of little use to me. Jacques replied, Kill him. As Buck was hauled to his feet, Jacques picked up the scrolls and limped out of the cabin. Almost immediately, Buck wrenched free of the first sailor while throwing the other one over his shoulder. Jacques turned to see the commotion. As he tried to leave, Buck tackled him to the ground while trying to grab the scrolls. Jacques attempted to retaliate by pulling the blade from his cane, only for Buck to subdue him with a well-placed jab.

Grabbing the scrolls, Buck ran towards the door, only for the other sailor to block his path. Before he could react, the sailor knocked him back with a heavy right hook, sending the scrolls flying out of his hand. As Buck tried to stand up, the sailor drew a pistol, but he quickly grabbed the sailors arm and put him out of action with a rabbit punch. More pirates ran to the commotion with their weapons drawn. Buck grabbed a crowbar and hid behind one of the crates on the deck. The first pirate to run past was struck in the torso, allowing Buck to grab his gun, along with his satchel. Stuffing the scrolls inside, he began to climb one of the tarpaulins holding the crates in place. The pirate with the Tommy gun prepared to open fire, only for Jacques to run out and grab the barrel, wrenching the gun downwards. What are you doing? he screamed, You could kill us all! Hearing the shouts, Buck tried to peer under the tarpaulin and see the label on the crates. Danger Explosives He continued to climb, as another pirate scrambled up after him with a dagger. Buck stamped down, his boot connecting sharply with the pirates face. The pirate tumbled down from the stack while Buck undid the straps holding the tarpaulin. Climbing to the top of the stack, he spotted more pirates climbing after him. Thinking quickly, he punched the first one out before leaping towards a hanging crane and swinging away to where the seaplanes were moored. Landing in the ocean close to one of them, he quickly knocked the pilot out with a wild haymaker before climbing into his seat and starting the engine, flying away as the pirates on the steamer opened fire. Get after him! Jacques screamed, as the other aviators jumped into their seaplanes. Buck quickly primed the Lewis gun mounted on his plane and circled around to strafe the pirates. With a sustained burst, he destroyed the other seaplanes and detonated the explosives stored on the deck. The explosion promptly tore a large hole in the ships hull. As he flew off into the distance, Buck could see the ship sinking. Its Davy Jones Locker for you, Jacques. He muttered to himself.

These are some very interesting finds. A day had passed. After sinking the pirate vessel, Buck had travelled to Miami. After the adrenaline had worn off, he was paying a visit to Dr Matthew Whitman, an old friend with an interest in Japanese history. What do the scrolls mean? Buck asked. Well, its an older form of the language, so it will take a longer to translate. Whitman replied as he ran his magnifying glass over the writing on the scrolls, Hold on. I can make out something in the title Amaterasu. That sounds familiar. Buck commented, Wasnt that the name of a deity? Yes. She was the Shinto pantheons Sun Goddess. According to legend, she sent her grandson to settle in Japan, and presented him with three treasures: A sword which represents valour; a mirror, representing wisdom; and a jewel which was supposed to represent benevolence. Supposedly, Amaterasu had been living secluded in a cave to hide from her brother, the Storm God Susanoo, an action which plunged the Earth into a state of perpetual darkness. Another deity hung the jewel outside to lure her out, where she promptly glanced at the mirror and was shocked. What about the sword? Buck asked, Where did that fit in? Dr Whitman studied the scrolls further. He had been making a hurried translation as he read through it. I believe that the sword was presented by Susanoo as a token of apology. He explained, They say he recovered from an eight-headed serpent known as Orochi. That sounds like the Hydra of Greek mythology. Buck observed, Does it say anything of where the treasures are kept? No. The exact whereabouts of the treasure is a closely guarded se cret. In fact, nobody has seen the treasures, except for the Emperors and certain priests, those who partake in the enthronement ceremony. Buck, I dont like where this going. Are you planning on stealing the Imperial Regalia? Youre liable to create an unfortunate international incident. Well, the very least I can do is have a look at them. Buck retorted with a smirk. He shook Whitmans hand before making his way to the door.

A day later, Buck was once again making travel preparations. He had been kicking back in Miami while dismissing news stories about his abduction. Whitman had accompanied him as he prepared to leave, bringing with him a diary with the scroll translations. Buck, Ive said it many times and Ill say it again. If you try and steal the Sacred Treasures, youre likely to be executed for treason. He warned, Ive heard that Japanese Nationalism is a scary thing to behold.

Well, Japan buys a lot of oil from some burly Texans. Buck argued, I doubt that relation will change any time soon, treasure hunts aside. Then again, I never agreed with the industrialist types. Crooked bunch, the lot of them.

Days passed. Eventually, Buck was wandering the streets of Tokyo. He had studied Whitmans translation carefully, and was ready to set ou t the following morning. The night was young, and he was strolling to a bar close to his hotel. Soon enough, he was hunched up in a quiet corner with a beer, watching the world go by. Is this seat taken? A womans voice asked in English. Buck raised his head to see his long-time rival, Virginia Dare standing at his table. Be my guest. Buck replied warmly, Free country or not. What are you doing in Japan? Well, Im just on vacation. Virginia answered, What about you? Thats convenient. Im on vacation too. I read about you in the papers. That youd been kidnapped by pirates. Well, I made a lasting impression. Buck replied.

By midnight, Buck was strolling back to the hotel. The dark corridors were empty as he trudged through them towards his room. He raised the key to unlock the door, only for it to open on its own. Feeling nervous, Buck slowly peered through, only to be grabbed and hauled through. Two figures were loitering in the room, their faces concealed by dark fedoras and bandanas. Buck swung at one of them, catching him across the face. The other, wearing a long coat, drew a concealed knife and attempted to flank. Buck was too quick and deftly sidestepped the thrust, catching the assailants arm and twisting it. As the knife fell out of the thugs hand and embedded in the floor, Buck span rapidly while letting go of the arm, hurling the thug into his accomplice. As they both tumbled into a nearby desk, Buck made a grab for his suitcase. His revolver was still in the holster. Before he could withdraw it and aim, he felt a sting in the side of his neck. His hand impulsively went to where he felt it. Just as he feared, he could make out what he perceived to be a dart. A feeling of numbness immediately overcame him. Lurching forwards, he was promptly greeted with a sharp punch by one of the thugs, followed by darkness.

Some time had passed. Buck was being roused from his blackout by something dabbing his face. He winced at the mild stinging pain as he tried to move. Hold still. A familiar voice said with an almost jovial tone. Buck opened his eyes to Virginia pressing a wet cloth to his forehead. Thats convenient. He remarked, I get mugged in my own hotel room and now youre here. Whats been taken? Virginia asked, Anything that looks valuable is still here. Buck had a grim sense of foreboding. He ran where the contents of his suitcase had been strewn around the floor. There was no sign of Whitmans journal or the ancient texts he had acquired. Id picked up a souvenir from those pirates who abducted me. He explained to his rival. It was a set of ancient Japanese texts telling the story of the Sacred Treasures of Japan. A friend of mine translated it. Those people have obviously taken both the scrolls and the journal with the translation. Well, what are you waiting for? Virginia asked, Lets get them back! Nobody steals treasures from Buck Savage except for me! Buck grabbed Virginias hand and shook it before following her out of the door. That dart I pulled from your neck uses a very rare sedative. Virginia explained as they jumped into her car, I believe that there is only one known garden where it came from.

Virginia led Buck out of Tokyo. After what seemed like hours of driving across empty roads, they arrived at a large castle deep in a forested area. We might have a lead here. Virginia suggested. Buck nodded in agreement, having changed into his rugged attire. While the castle seemed like a place to hold a formal occasion, he was likely to be getting his hands dirty. Buck, do you have a plan, or are you making this up as you go along? Virginia asked. That was my plan. Buck replied. He lurched over to the gate, clutching his chest and groaning loudly as he knocked on the doors. Virginia watched him and immediately caught on to what he was planning. A man in a dark suit opened the door and looked the pair over. Youve got to help us! Virginia cried hysterically, We got a flat tyre and my friend is in pain! What are you doing way out here? The servant asked. We missed a turning somewhere. Im afraid were lost. Virginia replied. Youd better get inside. The servant advised. Virginia led Buck inside as he continued to groan, while the servant closed the door behind them. Once he was convinced that they werent looking, he produced a blade and crept silently behind them. In a flash, Virginia quickly turned and delivered a haymaker which knocked the servant off his feet. Nice work, Buck commented, throwing his faade aside now they had gained entry. Virginia patted down the unconscious servant, picking up his knife, along with a snubnosed revolver. She stashed them in her belt next to her Colt automatic.

Minutes later, the pair had separated to cover more ground. Buck was cautiously moving through the dimly lit halls of the castle, revolver in hand. After searching several empty rooms, he noticed a pair of shadows cast on a paper screen door by a desk lamp. We got the scrolls back. A voice reported in English, but with a slight accent. Excellent. Another replied, Perhaps this adventurer would be discouraged from his search. He did not strike me as one who would be swayed. Im worried that we may have somehow led him here. You shouldnt worry too much The other man said, only to pause. He opened t he desk and reached for a pistol. Buck dived out of the way as two shots penetrated the door panels. He fired back, hearing the sound of running further down the hall. Without a second thought, he dived into the room, seeing one of the thugs slumped in his chair. The other thug raised his own pistol, but Buck was able to fire off another shot to take him

down. More thugs were on their way, and he knew it. He rifled through the desk hurriedly, finding Whitmans journal and stuffing it into his jacket. A thug emerged at the door with a Tommy gun, spraying the room with wild fire. Buck fired more shots to make him take cover. Realising he was trapped, Buck turned to see another paper door on the opposite side of the room. After firing a few more shots, he sprang up from behind the desk and ran forwards, crashing through the paper door and vaulting over the balcony that lay behind. Dusting himself off, Buck found himself in a large courtyard garden. He looked up to see a thug watching him from the balcony, but he wasnt shooting at him, or even aiming. With a grim sense of foreboding, he stood up and turned. Standing behind him was a large figure clad in Samurai armour. Without saying a word, he unsheathed a large Katana sword and wielded it menacingly. Buck grimaced as he aimed his revolver and pulled the trigger. The hammer fell on an empty chamber. Ohshit. He muttered as he frantically tried to reload while the samurai approached menacingly. His instincts told him he had to quickly move. He dived forwards as the samurai swung the katana, narrowly missing him while cleaving straight through a nearby tree. Buck quickly ran through the garden in search of another weapon. Thinking quickly, he saw a small bridge with two lanterns hanging from wooden poles. He grabbed one of the poles and swung it at the samurai. The lantern smashed as it collided with the samurais helmet, but he was unphased. Buck deftly sidestepped another swing while attempting to strike the samurais arm. The samurai quickly parried the blow. Buck desperately tried to avoid more chops and slashes. He swung the pole again. If he could get a good angle, perhaps he could break the samurai s bones underneath the armour. The samurai slashed at Buck again, this time slicing the pole in half. Oh, shit! Buck screamed as he tried to back away, tumbling into a pond. A solution presented itself immediately. The water was deep, and that armour was bulky. The samurai was stooping over the bridge, noticing Bucks fedora bobbing on the surface of the water. Buck swam under the bridge and climbed up behind him. There was a hanging branch above the bridge near to where the samurai was standing. Making as little sound as possible, Buck grabbed the branch and swung forwards, kicking the samurai off the bridge into the pond. Sleep with the fishes. He muttered as he recovered his fedora.

The thug watching from the balcony was staring in disbelief as Buck was catching his breath. He primed his Tommy gun and aimed at him, only for Virginia to shove him over the balcony. Buck ran over and grabbed the Tommy gun as Virginia jumped down into the garden. Its nice to be working with you again Virginia. Buck remarked. Who are these people? Virginia queried. Ive no idea, Buck answered, But frankly, I dont want to stay and find out. Weve got the journal; now lets get out of here.

The pair quickly ran back through the castles maze-like halls, hoping to avoid any more guards. Upon reaching the entrance, they found the doors to be barred. Great, were trapped. Buck lamented. Before Virginia could reply, more shots rang out. Two more guards were firing on them from down the hallway. Buck returned fire with another burst from his Tommy gun. The guards scattered and ran as Buck slowly advanced, keeping the suppressed with a burst. Another guard ran at him with a blade. Buck attempted to stop him, only for the gun to jam. He hurriedly tried to clear the mechanism as the guard closed the distance, screaming loudly. As soon as he got close, Buck swung the gun forwards, sending the stock into the guards face. More guards were from the opposite hallway. Virginia quickly took cover behind a large gong as the bullets started flying again. Seeing an opportunity, she drew her knife and cut the ropes the gong was hanging from. The guards scattered as the gong rolled towards them, allowing Virginia to grab Buck and run down another hall.

I think weve lost them. Buck panted as they hid in an empty room. I still dont understand who these people are. Virginia reminded him. They are the Guardians of the Sacred Treasures. A familiar voice explained. Buck turned around to see Dr Whitman sat in the room. Whitman? He asked in bewilderment, What are you doing here? Did you get yourself abducted or something? Im sorry, Buck. Whitman replied, I tried to warn you, but you didnt listen. What? Buck asked in disbelief. He turned to see the guards converging on their position.

Later, Buck and Virginia were being led through a series of caverns beneath the castle. They had been disarmed and their hands were bound behind them. Whitman was hurriedly walking alongside them. I read about the Guardians of the Sacred Treasures in those scrolls you found. He explained nervously, They found me before I could reach you. I had to talk. So, you saved your own skin? Buck snarled. Silence! One of their guards demanded, Save your breath! Buck immediately complied, noticing as Virginia was able to steal the guards switchblade and palm it without anybody noticing. At the end of the cavern lay a magnificent shrine. Standing at the centre was a robed figure with a serious look. He was clean shaven, but his eyes always carried a look of anger. In the centre of the room was large pit which emitted smoke.

Who might you be then? Buck asked defiantly. You will be silent! The figure yelled, You may only know me as The Monk. Are you the leader of this wacky outfit then? I am a loyal servant of the emperors. The Sacred Treasures have been a secret since the beginning, and we have kept that secret safe for all that time. We protected the regalia from thieves like you. Right Buck muttered, not understanding or even caring about The Monk s words. The theft of the Sacred Treasures is an act of treason. You and your friend will be put to death. The Monk continued, However, I will not deny you the privilege to cast your eyes upon the treasures. Buck and Virginias eyes lit up. While they were in mortal danger, they were almost gleeful at the prospect of seeing the almost mythical regalia of Japan. It felt like the last request of the condemned. The treasures were set out in the centre of the shrine: A straight-edged, gilded sword; a disc of polished silver, resembling a small buckler shield; and a shining emerald, the size of a tennis ball. So these treasures were presented to Hirohito back in 26? Buck asked. That is correct. The Monk replied, Enjoy them well. You will not live to tell of them. About that Virginia interrupted, By what means are you planning on executing us? You will be cast into that pit before you. The Monk told them, That happens to be a volcanic vent in there. That explains the heat. Buck commented, So if the fall doesnt kill us, we get deep fried by the lava. Thats correct. The Monk growled, Do you have last words? Well Buck answered, I think my bails arrived. Immediately, Virginia had managed to cut herself free with the knife shed pickpocketed. She elbowed the guard standing behind her while tossing the knife to Buck. He cut himself free and punched out the other guard. Get them! The Monk screamed. Another guard lunged at Virginia, clutching a spear. She sidestepped his thrust and grabbed at the shaft. Pulling hard, she was able to wrench the spear out of his hands and deliver a sweeping blow to his legs, sending him tumbling down the pit.

At the same time, Whitman had drawn a knife and was attacking Buck, slashing his arm.

Traitor! Buck shouted, delivering an uppercut that hit the scholar square in the jaw. Whitman reeled backwards towards the pit. Buck! He shouted as he lost his footing. Virginia raced forward to grab his hand, only to miss him by a whisker. He screamed as he fell down the pit. Well leave the treasures. Buck said as he helped Virginia to her feet, Lets save our own skins. As they left, they were confronted by the Monk, wielding a staff. Behind them, more guards were approaching. Virginia raced to hold them off while Buck advanced on The Monk. He was a fast opponent, deftly evading Bucks punches. Buck tried to grab his staff, only for the Monk to deliver a roundhouse kick which sent him flying. Panting, Buck peered down to look at the Monks feet, only to have to roll to avoid another swing. As he rolled, he kicked at the Monks leg to knock him off balance. He grabbed the staff and ran to aid Virginia with the other guards. As the pair fought them off, the Monk leapt for Buck, knocking him off his feet. Go! Buck shouted to Virginia. As she ran, The Monk attempted to pursue her. Seeing an immediate opportunity, Buck grabbed the Monks ankle to send him falling forwards. As he tried to stand, Buck held the staff tightly against his neck, slowly choking him. The Monk attempted to grab Buck, but to no avail. His arms continued to flail until he finally went limp. Buck set the body down and ran to join Virginia. He ran through the caverns and back up to the castle when he heard a loud explosion. In the courtyard, Virginia waved at him from the balcony before throwing down a rope. Buck nodded as he used the rope to scale the wall, the guards following close behind. Come on, Ive made a way out. Virginia told him. They ran to a gaping hole in the outer wall of the castle and jumped through, landing outside. Virginia s car was waiting for them, untouched by anybody.

Within moments, they were back on the main road to Tokyo, the castle far behind them. You surprised me this time Buck. Virginia remarked, I thought youd be stealing the regalia. Well, as tempting as it was, I cant imagine being able to get them out of Japan. Buck replied, Wed never get them through Tokyo if those people have such a wide reach. That is true. Besides, we still saw them didnt we? I guess that counts for something.