THE NEW RONIN By Kurt Saxon
Chapter 11: WOLFF, KILLER OF RONIN
The young mens' hopes that Namoto would not be on Kuwahara's
trail were fruitless. Namoto was naturally enraged at the attack. Moreover,
he was intent on retrieving the records and eliminating all who had had
access to them.
The karate students had described the attack and the appearance
of the young men who alternated as cyclists and ancient samurai. At first,
Namoto was skeptical and accused them of being liars, cowards and insane.
But the spirit of the evil shogun of long ago still lived
on in him. So his instincts told him that the power of his ancient foes
still lived on in the old priest and whoever he was closely associated
He could not understand the illusion of the ancient samurai
and how the cyclists could so easily have defeated his young proteges.
Even those students who were also trainers had done little or no better
than their juniors.
But something from his higher consciousness told him of
the old priest and certain remarks about him by the students. The priest
was the only one in town who could have realized his students were actually
the nucleus of a developing criminal empire. On thinking of the old priest
and the apparitions described by the students, pictures of an unrealized
past swam before his mind's eye. He saw the black-robed priest and the
seven black-armored fiends destroying his dream of empire so long ago.
In a flash he remembered. For a moment he recoiled before
the memory of defeat. But he quickly rallied and saw this present time
as an opportunity to settle old scores. His cunning had helped him outwit
the strongest opponents he had met. He could outwit the old priest and
his seven recruits, whether or not they were the same as faced by his dimly
remembered self of a past age.
For the next few days he had his karate students make
enquiries about the university students they had fought weeks before. They
found that the damaged motorcycles had been moved to a new location and
one of the young men had hired mechanics to help rebuild them.
From other sources he also learned that the motorcycles
had not been ridden or sent by train out of town. This was significant
as all but one of the young men had left town. He learned, too, that the
day after the university students came to the town, they had taken a launch
to an unknown destination for several days.
This was enough to firmly establish the connection in
Namoto's mind. The first action he took on his own was to visit the police
station and ask about the damaged motorcycles. Captain Fuchida had always
suspected Namoto of being an unsavory character but had no real evidence
of illegal activity on his part.
Namoto told the captain he had an admission to make and
wanted to make up for a wrong committed by his driver. "Sir," he said,
"my driver has a strange sense of humor. During the scuffle on that day,
involving those university students and my own karate students, the motorcycles
fell over. My driver saw the fuel leaking out and intentionally tossed
a lit cigarette at the fuel and caused the damage.
"I have disciplined him for that and have also ordered
my students to be polite at all times, as I've heard they have occasionally
acted like bullies. Also, in order to wipe out any hard feelings, I wish
to pay for the damage to the motorcycles. So if you will give me the names
and addresses of those boys, I'll send each a check for enough to buy a
new machine, as I hear some were beyond repair."
"Mr. Namoto," said the captain, "it interests me that
you take me for an utter fool. Some university students have a brawl with
your slimy ruffians and soon thereafter, your school is wrecked. And now
you want their names so you can make amends for destroying their machines.
"My department has no concrete evidence of illegal activity
on the part of your students. But we hear enough to piece together the
fact that you are all vermin, even though you are beyond the law at this
time. But here are the names of those young men, which we took down as
a matter of course." He held up a police report, and after lighting his
cigarette, set fire to the list.
"We saw nothing, Namoto. But from now on we will see everything.
We will guard old Kuwahara night and day. We don't know who wrecked your
school, although we suspect. But as we have no evidence against them, any
more than we have evidence against you, we will do nothing. Now, get out."
Namoto left in a rage and returned to Tokyo. He met with
some of his lieutenants and explained the possible danger to the organization.
They all agreed that the old priest had to be questioned and his home searched.
Knowing police procedures, they realized that the guarding
would be by patrol. They also knew that in time, the patrols of that area
would be reduced to one passing vehicle every few hours.
Upon his return, Namoto ordered his students to completely
change their behavior towards their neighbors. They were never to appear
in public in their karate school jackets. They were to be polite to all
and pay in full for every purchase. Concerning the old priest, they were
to avoid him if possible but to treat him with the utmost respect if they
While Namoto was pursuing his investigations, Takeo, Saburo
and Hideki visited the island again after outfitting Mr. Tsubaki's launch
with a new engine. The old man was quite willing to let them use the launch
in return, plus payment for any time when Tsubaki would ordinarily have
been using it. In this way there were no records of the seven being connected
with any seafaring enterprise.
Soon after the seven had settled in their new lifestyles
in Tokyo, Takeo visited Max Morrell on a personal matter. Max had taken
a liking to the surly young man. Takeo was quick to come to the point.
"Mr. Morrerr, Isoroku told me he attended a kung fu school.
I want training. I don't know of such things and it would save looking
around if you could tell me which school he goes to."
Max thought awhile. "Well, first, Takeo, why not call
me 'Max'? You're never going to handle the l's in my name. As for the kung
fu school--," he chuckled and thought awhile. "You want to learn self-defense,
is that it?"
"No, Max," said Takeo. "I can defend myself. But I may
be in situations where I may have to attack."
"Well, you're on the right track then," said Max. "Rocky
calls it a kung fu school but it's more than that. It's actually a school
for people violently opposed to the criminal elements such as the Yakuza
and, especially their ninja assassins. It's run by an old American who's
just a little crazy and has launched a private crusade against the underworld
here in Japan."
Takeo nearly showed excitement as he said, "Then he seems
to be the one my associates and I are looking for. I would like to meet
"I'll phone and introduce you," said Max, "but I'll tell
you at the outset that his school is secret and exclusive. He was barred
from teaching martial arts by the police. His students had a way of turning
up dead under his none-too-gentle instructions.
"I warn you, Takeo, his teaching methods are rough. Only
the most dedicated fighters pass his initiation. You could be crippled
or killed. Rocky was hospitalized for weeks after his tryout. Had his mother
suspected the nature of the training, she would have forbidden it. That's
why he only describes Wolff's murder academy as a 'kung fu' school."
"When can I meet him?" asked Takeo.
Takeo's future instructor, Henry Wolff, was born in Hamburg,
Germany and brought by his parents to America at the age of six. He was
raised in Hell's Kitchen, a slum section of New York City. At seventeen
he joined the infantry and soon worked his way into a Ranger battalion.
A quick learner and an aggressive fighter, he rose in the ranks and was
a captain and trainer at twenty-four. He led many raids into German occupied
territory and became so fixated on battle he was uneasy and even unstable
during periods of inaction. But he was a scholar and studied history in
his slack periods. Consequently, he was never in trouble, as were many
of his Ranger comrades.
One evening near the war's end, two Rangers were in an
English pub, drinking heavily, as was their habit. A merrymaker slapped
one on the shoulder and asked for a light. The Ranger spun around and killed
him. The other turned on his friends and between them, they killed one
more and injured several. By the time the MPs and police arrived the place
was a blood-splattered shambles.
The next day their commander was summoned to a meeting
of British and American top brass. "Now, what happened yesterday," said
a British colonel, "was a repeat of several, less serious incidents. We
simply can't have any more of this. Your unit is overtrained and composed,
for the most part, of borderline psychotics."
"Well," said an American major, "some of your commandos
aren't exactly rowing with both oars."
"Right," spoke up a British captain. "We acknowledge that.
No slur on you Yanks implied. We have put several of our chaps in asylums.
Others were sent on zero-chance missions. Wouldn't be good for morale to
let the public know the extent of our measures in dealing with our own
battle crazed incorrigibles."
"Yeah," said the American major, "but if we round up about
a hundred of our loonies and send them directly from the port of New York
to Belleview, that could hit the papers, you know."
"But there is an alternative, major," said the British
colonel. "Our Intelligence has ferreted out Kommando leader Otto Skorzeny's
present training center. Since his operatives caused such consternation
among American units by dressing in their uniforms and passing themselves
off as G.I.'s, he's going for the big one this time. We believe he means
to kidnap Eisenhower. With this force, he might just do it.
"He has over fifty of his brightest, bravest and best,
training at Bad Tolz, in Bavaria. That was originally an SS cadet school.
Anyway, my plan is for you to select the, shall we say, most intensively
trained, of your Rangers, and send them against Skorzeny's present group."
"Sort of like killing two birds with one stone," said
the Ranger chief. "I don't like it. But I can see the sense in it."
"Hey!" said the American Major. "We could call it 'Operation
Hornets' Nest.' I like the ring of that. Sure glad I don't have to go."
Within a week, four transports left a base in France and
at three a.m. dropped one hundred and eight psychos on "The Hornets Nest."
Having been warned of an impending attack by the same British double agent
who had scouted the target, the Kommandos had been put on alert for the
past several nights.
At the sound of the sentry's alarm the majority of the
Kommandos were out and firing at the parachutists. They killed a couple
of dozen Rangers before they landed. The Rangers also were firing on their
way down and got at least ten before the rest ran inside for cover.
Henry Wolff landed on the roof of the main building. Leaning
over its edge, he lobbed grenades through four windows of the second floor
where several Germans had gathered to repel the attack. As the rest landed
and took cover and fired into the building, Wolff shinnied down a drain
pipe. As he hit the ground, his helmet was ripped off by a burst of machine
gun fire from the library. He lobbed in a grenade and ran to the other
side of the building.
There, he saw about thirty of his men sprawled in the
floodlit courtyard as Skorzeny's men literally bathed the area with rifle
and sub-machinegun fire. The Kommandos were fearless and took cover only
if it did not impede their field of fire. Several of them left the building
to meet the attackers head on, spraying bursts of sub-machinegun rounds
and lobbing their own grenades into groups of disoriented attackers.
As with any battle for a position, the defenders had the
edge. The Germans were also the best trained of their type and were hellish
By the time a column of regular German Army troops moved
up in trucks, it was all over. All the Kommandos were dead or critically
wounded. Ninety-five Rangers also lay dead or wounded. Nine were rounded
up by German regulars as they surrendered due to a lack of ammo.
Wolff woke up in a German hospital after having been treated
for seven bullet holes in his legs and upper torso. After a week of mending
he was able to receive visitors. His first and only one was announced by
the head nurse. It was SS Oberst Otto Skorzeny.
Wolff looked keenly at the man of whom he had heard so
much and had hoped to see only through a gun sight. Skorzeny pulled up
a chair and sat down.
"Well, Hauptman Heinrich Karl Wolff, Third Ranger Battalion,
U.S.A., you carried out your mission successfully, I'm sorry to say."
"Thank you, sir," said Wolff in German. "I'm glad our
mission was a success. Pity you weren't there."
"It was only luck which kept me away," replied Skorzeny.
"I was with Hitler, discussing my plan to kidnap Eisenhower."
"Can't say I wish you luck with that one," said Wolff.
"Oh, that's all over," said Skorzeny. "Of course, you
wouldn't know. You were under the impression you were attacking an extremely
important communications center.
"Incidentally, just as you were awakening from surgery
you were injected with scopolamine. Whether from ignorance or subconscious
reserve, as the interrogator suggested, you couldn't be made to divulge
any useful information. But you did discuss knocking out the 'communications
"Our agent warned us of an attack on my Kommando school,
calling it 'Operation Hornets' Nest'. So you see, your superiors knew of
my training base and probably of my intention to send my men to capture
Eisenhower soon. Yet you were told your target was only a communications
center, not the most highly trained and disciplined unit in the German
Wolff stared straight ahead.
"It seems to me, you and your men were sent out to die.
We've heard of incidents where emotionally exhausted Rangers took the war
back to England. What better way to rid a force of its unstable personnel?
Simply send them on a mission which would be impossible, even if provisions
were made to give the men a chance to return. Even the SS doesn't have
suicide units. Are the Americans that desperate or is it true that you
have so few good fighters they are overused to the point of insanity?"
Wolff said nothing.
"Oh, well," said Skorzeny, "the question was academic.
Our war is lost. I must congratulate you on hastening its end. But if we
had more time, we could have won. Our men are fighters for fighting's sake.
Unquestioningly obedient, emotionally hard, with contempt for all racial
inferiors and in lesser measure, for those who do not belong to the SS,
feeling the strongest bonds of comradeship with those who do belong, particularly
their fellow soldiers. Overall, much like the Japanese samurai. We are
now in the same position as your own Confederacy. Lack of time, lack of
resources, but superior, nonetheless."
"That's the easy way out, isn't it?" said Wolff. "You
start something you can't finish and then make up excuses. You don't have
the resources or the time. But the fact remains that the leaders of you
Nazis, as well as our Confederates, and the Japanese, gave a lot of rousing
speeches to a bunch of damnable, fanatic crack brains and got hypnotized
by the applause.
"And then they try to take on the world. Every damn time.
But they're always outnumbered by a lot of inferior farmers and factory
hands who have no stomach for war. They fight well enough, just the same.
But they just want to get the dirty business over with and go back to their
work and families. They've got something to live for, not to die for, like
"I'm a military man," said Skorzeny. "There may be truth
in what you say. But it's for history to decide if a nation can breed and
train enough superior men to dominate its neighbors. Those are not considerations
for a soldier to ponder.
"But I believe that by breeding a superior man and training
him to dominate those not so endowed, the upper class has wealth and the
lower class has security. Your plowmen and factory workers would then have
no need to leave their work for war."
"Your basic philosophy is flawed, Herr Oberst," said Wolff.
"The very quality of unquestioning obedience in your soldiers means they
can never be masters of their own fates. So they can never be stronger
or more intelligent than their leaders. And if the leader is flawed, as
all such leaders are flawed, the chain is broken in time, and the outsiders,
whether foreigners or internal social rejects, take over.
"You speak of history being the judge, as if washing your
hands of the problem. But history has judged, over and over. The Roman,
as the Weimar Republic, was replaced by such Caesars as Hitler, and in
their turn were replaced by Christians who gave western civilization a
dark age lasting longer than the Roman Empire. The despotic and ignorant
Czars were replaced by an ignorant proletarian mass which threatens Germany
today and promises mediocrity for the whole planet and another Dark Age.
"And the parallels between the time of the Caesars and
your Germany are remarkable. Like the Caesars, you have looted your subject
nations. Your farms and factories are manned by subject peoples. Even your
SS is made up largely of foreign nationals, as were the legions of Augustus.
Even your party salute is identical to the Roman salute. Your ceremonial
standards are similar. Your subject nations are even now being invaded
by savage hordes as in the time of the last Caesars.
"And if you had won your war, your farmers and factory
workers, replaced by foreign nationals, would be idle. They would be in
your Sportspalast watching gladiatorial games while the Russians edged
closer. No, your system is flawed with the seeds of its own destruction,
planted at its birth.
"History is staring you in face, you fool. Are you blind
or is it that you can only see through the eyes of your maniacal friend,
Hitler? Are you, yourself, enslaved and doomed by the unquestioning obedience
you boast of in your troops?"
Skorzeny laughed aloud. "Such a scholar! Such a philosopher!
I'm glad I met Hitler before I met you. Otherwise I might now be resting
in death with all the burned out plowmen and factory workers you brought
"All?", asked Wolff. "Don't tell me I was the only survivor."
"Well," said Skorzeny, "if my memory serves me, there
were fourteen wounded and nine captured by regular Army men. I had them
"You Nazi son of a bitch!" yelled Wolff. "Then why are
you keeping me alive?"
"I'm not," said Skorzeny. "Next week you go to a prisoner
of war camp."
With that, he saluted briskly and walked out.
Wolff spent the next few months in the officers' section
of a POW camp. Food was scarce in Germany and prisoners, even officers,
were a low priority. But Wolff managed to survive on a day-to-day basis.
Wolff mourned his comrades. Worn out from being pushed
into the breech once too often, they were finally discarded. He felt their
betrayal by his country and so refused repatriation. Instead, he had himself
reassigned to the Pacific Theater where he saw little action. He signed
on for another stretch in the Army and became part of the Occupation in
After learning Japanese, he married Suni, a middle-class
girl with little personality or useful education. She was sweet and loving,
however, and just the wife for a war-weary scholar.
During his last years in the Army he devoted much time
to the study of the martial arts. Something in his talk with Skorzeny and
his own experiences drove him toward the building of his own idea of the
He believed Man to be a spirit occupying and using an
animal body. That animal body, to him, had all the drives and instincts
of any other animal. Only by acknowledging those animal drives and instincts
could one control and so rise above them.
Further, he believed, once a man could control his animal
vehicle, no one else could control him. So his vision of the perfect man
was one who could not only control his own vehicle but resist control of
it and himself by others. With enough such men, there could be no more
Skorzenys or others using people like livestock, because no men would lend
themselves for use by despots.
But he knew these were ideals as irrational in practice
as were the ideals of despots. Even so, he could at least demonstrate them
to a limited few. He would be a teacher of martial arts to those students
who would act against despotism of any kind.
As he mastered the various schools of martial arts he
eliminated all form and ceremony from from his fighting style. No bowing,
no shouted challenges, no sparring. Just get in there and demolish the
enemy without fanfare. No blocking of blows, only parrying. No wearing
down the opponent; the object was to kill or cripple as quickly as possible.
His method of training a student was to first attack him.
He would beat the poor fellow to a bloody pulp. In this way Wolff would
gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the student. Before he learned to
control his blows, some students died and he lost his permission to teach
martial arts in Japan.
He stayed on anyway and taught in secret. As he learned
and his students learned, word spread that graduates of American Henry
Wolff's secret school were unbeatable. The were better than ninja.
So effective was his teaching that not one of his graduates
ever lost a contest. Not one of his graduates ever submitted to the will
of another without question. Moreover, every one achieved success in his
calling and was never intimidated by a looter or competitor.
As his fame grew among Japan's underworld, the Yakuza
became alarmed. Some of their most lucrative victims turned on those demanding
tribute and either killed them or crippled them for life. The Yakuza sent
ninja to destroy Wolff. He killed them.
When they stopped sending assassins, after the fourth,
Wolff went looking for them. Through his contacts with both legitimate
and some underground martial arts schools, he learned of hoodlums taking
martial arts and using their skill against society. He killed them. Offering
rewards for tips on Yakuza ninja, he would contact them and challenge them
to fight. If they took up the challenge, they were never heard of again.
Those who refused his challenge either fled the country or were likewise
The Japanese police were ineffective in even proving there
was an anti-ninja vigilante loose against their underworld. Some were secretly
pleased. Most of those who knew of the menace to the Yakuza were in its
pay. They could do nothing without incriminating themselves.
In the meantime, Wolff stalked ninja as a form of relaxation.
When he became bored or haunted by the war, he would go on the prowl. When
he disposed of a ninja he felt refreshed and cleansed.
Such was the man on whose door Takeo knocked. Suni opened
it and said, "You must be Takeo. My husband is waiting. Come."
Takeo followed her down a long corridor stretching around
the large Japanese house. She pulled open a sliding panel and stepped into
their living room. Henry Wolff, dressed in traditional Japanese robe, greeted
Takeo in a friendly manner. He had him kneel at the low dining table and,
while Suni served them a light lunch, he questioned Takeo on his reasons
for wanting to be trained in the arts of offense.
Takeo said, "I have an older friend who is threatened
by the Yakuza. He is one of the few people I respect and I must be able
to protect him. I would rather not say any more."
"That is good, Takeo," said Wolff. "Never say more than
you must. Max Morrell's recommendation says it all, anyway. It also gives
you a complete security clearance.
"Now, I must first tell you of my training methods so
you will know what to expect. I will take you from street-fighting to the
most exotic methods of disposing of opponents. We will start out by me
beating you within an inch of your life.
"I notice you didn't flinch when I told you that. Either
you are too polite to laugh at an old man of sixty-five or you do not fear
discomfort. Which is it?"
"Sir," said Takeo, "I have no doubt you can beat me. Otherwise
my coming here for instruction would be a waste of time. Insofar as my
fearing pain, in my teens I worked on a fishing schooner and had many brawls.
There is little pain when one is without fear. I got over most fear in
"Wonderful," exclaimed Wolff! "You will be easy to train
at first, then. It often takes several sessions for a student to become
aggressive, since he has a natural fear of being bruised or hurt. But once
he accepts injuries as a part of the game, injuries become less and less
Wolff then arose from the table and led Takeo to another
room which was outfitted as a regular gym. There were even punching bags
and other boxing equipment, except that there were no gloves.
"Now," said Wolff, "we will start out with simple street
fighting. As I get you to one level of competence, we will go on to the
next. In this first session I will test your ability to take punishment,
but don't act like a punching-bag. Don't defend yourself, either. Attack
and attack again.
"Never block a punch. You're not in a boxing ring hoping
for a bell. In a real fight your opponent wants only to hurt you. You owe
him nothing. Blocking just gives an opponent a respite from your own punches.
So don't block, parry."
With that, Wolff lashed out at Takeo's jaw. Takeo parried
the blow and caught Wolff's wrist in an iron grip and jerked him forward.
As he came forward, Wolff crashed his foot into Takeo's chest, causing
Takeo to loosen his grip. The kick would have collapsed a lesser man but
Takeo was not phased. He moved forward and struck at Wolff's head. Wolff
ducked and applied a jujitsu hold on Takeo's hand and wrist and brought
him to one knee. Takeo then spun on his knee to kick Wolff's legs from
under him. Wolff jumped over Takeo's leg and planted both feet in his face,
bowling him over.
Takeo bounded up and went in punching. Wolff parried his
blows and finally put him away with an extra hard chop at the back of the
neck. Takeo came to quickly and attempted to charge again.
"Session over," said Wolff. "I'm delighted! You are one
of the best novice fighters I've had the pleasure to meet. Come back tomorrow
at this time and we'll continue. I believe I can start you on a much higher
level next session."
Takeo, none the worse for wear, said, "Sir, I have six
close friends who would like to take your courses. They are not so hardy
as I but their purpose is the same. They are equally tenacious and quick
"Wonderful," said Wolff. "Six more who are anything like
you and I'll accomplish my own purpose. Please bring them with you. And
by the way, young man, since Max is your sponsor and you proved out so
well in the first session, I want you to see what else goes with the training."
He led Takeo to the back of the gym and pushed a hidden
button. An electrified panel slid back and revealed a staircase leading
down. They descended and Takeo found himself in a large basement room with
a fifty foot tunnel branching off from it.
At the end of the tunnel were lighted silhouettes of men
with bullseyes on their foreheads and hearts. In cabinets around the main
room were rifles, shotguns, pistols and even submachine guns. In a corner
was one of the machine guns Takeo had brought from the island. Several
of the rifles were Arisakas, also from the island.
Wolff said, "Physical combat is only part of the course.
You will also become a weapons expert, learning to be a crack marksman
with anything that shoots."
Takeo didn't bat an eye on seeing the weapons from the
island. But he knew Max and Wolff were a part of his destiny.