Super-spy Gertrude Eisenstein in...

The City of Ul Chalan

A 10-Chapter Adventure in exotic Tibet!

by Richard K. Lyon
About the author

Previously: Sent to Tibet to investigate a mysterious disaster CIA masterspy Gertrude Eisenstein contacts Jar Quinan, a Buddhist monk and freedom fighter.  Together they trick Red Chinese Army Major Tong into assisting them but China is plunging into civil war.  Attacked by both Tibetan freedom fighters and the other side in the Chinese civil war, they flee toward Ul Chalan.  Realizing that Quinan is a rebel, Tong draws his pistol and levels it at the monk.

Chapter Five - Rogues' Alliance

THE MONK LOOKED INTO THE BARREL of the gun with vast indifference. Had he shown the slightest fear, Tang would have slain him. As it was they faced each other for a frozen moment, the gun in Tong's hand ready to explode while his mind struggled to grasp the situation. While the monk's motives for acting this way were a total mystery to Tong, the Chinese major had never tried to understand Tibetans.  Now the only thing he knew with certainty was that he didn't want to do the monk any favors.

Swearing under his breath Tong put his pistol away. The monk walked up the trail in silence. His face grew darker. He would not speak when spoken to. This brooding silence continued much to Gertrude's anxiety. Though Jar Quinan was a Buddhist priest, a follower of the most pacific religion in the world, he was also a warrior fighting to free his country from the Chinese invaders. While he was at war with the Chinese, he could manage this contradiction, but could he survive peace?

While her concern with Jar Quinan was uppermost in her mind, Gertrude also worried about other aspects of this situation.  The U.S. State Department probably wouldn't think civil war in China was a good idea.  For sure they wouldn't like having that war with its cost of countless lives started by an agent paid by the CIA.  That kind of situation would make it hard to get Jar Quinan his back pay.

She worried.  Time passed.  The climb was nearly complete. The trail widened into a broad flat area. Ahead the mountain rose to form a high wall. The trail cut straight through this wall, so that they were approaching a natural gateway, the gateway to Ul Chalan.

Natural? When Gertrude considered the matter neither the trail nor gateway appeared to be accidents of nature. Rather they appeared to be artificial and very ancient.

Major Tong ordered the soldiers to put Gertrude down. He started to give Jar Quinan an order but the monk interrupted him. "Why should I take orders from a coward who deserts his own men under fire?"

With this he slapped the major's face. Tong's hands expressed his fury. Blow after blow struck the monk who made no effort to defend himself. When he fell senseless at Tong's feet, the major drew his pistol. It popped out of his hand when Gertrude tackled him. They fell in a tangle and came up facing each other. Tong's face showed brief surprise then battle joy. His powerful hand flashed toward Gertrude in an expert karate chop. Gertrude evaded this while delivering a hard right cross to Tong's chin. This was followed by a groin kick and a fine rabbit punch.

As Tong dropped, Gertrude dropped with him, using his body as a shield while she drew her forty five. A pistol is a poor match for machine guns, but only one of the soldiers showed fight. Gertrude's first shot struck him in the shoulder. He staggered, dropped his gun and ran through the gateway into Ul Chalan.

Climbing to Ul Chalan, whence none had returned, had strained the courage of the other three. When a dying woman was transformed into a fighting demon, they fled back down the trail.

Gertrude examined Jar Quinan. His hard body had absorbed the beating without serious injury. She slapped his face not too gently, and as he regained consciousness she said, "That was extremely foolish. You forced Major Tong to try to kill you. Why?"

"I always wanted to slap that pig's face" replied the monk. "With Tibet freed, my own life no longer seemed important."

"Again why?"

"I have violated the eight fold way with countless acts of violence. Even though I am a priest, when need arose I butchered animals for meat, even practiced the blacksmith's trade. These are the acts of the untouchables, whose children cannot even be priests. I fought fire with fire, a foreign army with foreign weapons and ways."

"But the victory was yours. This you achieved in a single stroke."

"Know you not the story of Moses, that he delivered his people but he himself could not enter the promised land. So it is with me. I am too tainted with foreign ways to live in the ancient land of my ancestors. But hold, why am I still alive?"

The monk's eyes fell on Tong's unconscious form, then the soldier's blood and the machine gun he had dropped. "The place of women in Tibet is lowly for they are weak. Major Tong is powerful. Did you, a frail woman, overcome this brute in hand to hand combat, then drive off four well armed soldiers in a gun fight?"

"Yes, the major was a sucker for a right cross."

"That is another thing an orthodox Tibetan should not know."

Gertrude thought she now understood her comrade: he had a compulsive drive to achieve. Given a goal he worked tirelessly, doing miracles but the goal achieved self doubts and self recriminations assailed him and he fell apart. Major Tong groaned and started to rise. Gertrude turned to face him. His eyes cleared and seeing Gertrude he started to charge. She leveled her forty five and barked, "Stand still, Tong, or I'll blow your brains out."

Since her gun was aimed at Major Tong's lower abdomen, the threat was clearly insulting. Tong stopped and laughed. "Truly in view of the way you two tricked me, that's where my brains are. Now shoot me and be done with it."

"Why did you come to Ul Chalan?"

"I knew the starting of civil war in China was connected with Ul Chalan. It was my forlorn hope to learn some secret here, something that would help bring the civil war to a compromise settlement."

"Jar, I think we should help Major Tong. After all Tibet's independence is won, but it is not secured. If the Chinese civil war ends by the victory of either side, the victors will soon enslave Tibet again. If the war ends by compromise, Tibet's independence is assured since neither side would agree to let the other rule here."

Jar frowned in thought. "Help a man who has been a hated enemy for years? Yet your words ring true; new circumstances demand new goals. So be it. Here, Tong, you are probably best trained to use this."

Jar Quinan picked up the machine gun and tossed it to the major. As the gun flew towards the outstretched hands of the Chinese, Gertrude had second thoughts. She had proposed this alliance to snap Jar out of his depression. He had grabbed it as a drowning man grabs a rope, but was the alliance a good idea?

Tong's fingers closed about the machine gun, his face split in a wide grin. "Now that you have wisely elected me to command this expedition, we shall go forward as true and loyal comrades."

Good idea or not it was done. Gertrude decided on balance Tong would be an asset. Subtle treachery was not part of his character, and his arrogance could be managed. The real problem was courage; Tong possessed great physical courage, but the mystery they faced might be beyond the limits of his orthodox military mind. The three adventurers turned toward the gateway to Ul Chalan.

What dire perils await this bold threesome in Ul Chalan? Will they solve its dark mystery in time to halt the Chinese civil war, in time to save China from self inflicted nuclear destruction? If they fail, will Jar Quinan be able to collect his back pay? Don't miss the next episode: EATEN BY A DEMON!

Previous episode: Dogs and Whistling Arrows
Next episode: Eaten by a Demon

Table of ContentsPulp and Dagger Icon

The City of Ul Chalan was originally published in Analog Magazine, July 1973, copyright Richard K. Lyon.  It is reprinted here with the author's permission.