Noble Warrior


By Alan Lawrence Sitomer

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After placing teenage mixed martial arts phenom McCutcheon Daniels and his mother and sister in the Witness Relocation Program,the FBI comes to realize they have a unique asset on their hands. Recruited to help the FBI, McCutcheon finds himself hunting bad guys. But when he discovers that the notorious Priests have targeted Kaitlyn???the girl he loves and was forced to leave behind???as a way to seek revenge on the Daniels family, MD convinces the FBI to send him right into the belly of the beast: Jenkells State Penitentiary where the mob boss of Detroit is serving time. Yet in his universe where up is down, McCutcheon ends up disavowed by the government and left to rot in one of America’s most notorious prisons. It’s there here connects with his father and discovers the truth about his circumstances. McCutcheon, a trained urban warrior, escapes ??? and sets out for revenge on those who betrayed him and his family.



—Niccolo Machiavelli

McCutcheon “M.D.” Daniels ate like a caveman. Raw food, raw power. After switching to an exclusively Paleolithic diet nearly three years ago he felt immediate benefits in each realm of the fighter’s holy trinity: body, mind, and spirit. Physically, by cutting out all the crap he used to eat, M.D. recovered more quickly from the vicious toll cage wars take on the human body. Mentally, like most serious mixed martial artists, McCutcheon sought to carry his discipline off of the mat and into his life, which meant that saying no to tasty foods like pizza, burgers, fries, and cake meant saying yes to deep reserves of mental strength. In the sphere of spirit however, McCutcheon owned wounds. Deep ones.

How could he not be scarred after all the senseless violence and pain he’d already witnessed in his young life? He once saw a neighbor get shot in the face. Saw another overdose on heroin and drown in his own puke. Watched a girl stumble around like a drunken hobo with a knife sticking out of her eye after she’d been stabbed during a robbery gone bad. Yet despite seeing all this and more before the age of seventeen, McCutcheon still deeply believed in religion.

The religion of being a warrior. In its nobility he found truth. Living by a code wasn’t a burden to M.D.; it was his church.

“We’re closing in fifteen,” a waitress said. “Here’s your check.”

McCutcheon clicked a red cigarette lighter and torched up a bowl. “Thank you,” he said exhaling a plume of thick white smoke.

“Pay at the front.”

“Shall do.”

Putting toxins in his body was entirely out of character for M.D., but the waitress didn’t know that. To her and everyone else in the establishment, McCutcheon was just another guy lighting up on a Friday night.

Which, of course, he wasn’t.

He gazed out of the corner of his eye across the dimly lit, smoke-filled room at his six-foot-one-inch tall target and took another soft, sweet hit off the brass hookah pipe resting in front of him. The chocolate-skinned Somalian he spied—male, eighteen, typing on a laptop—didn’t lift his eyes from the glowing bluish screen. Arabs had been smoking from hookahs for well over five hundred years, but M.D. hadn’t come to Mystic Wonders to puff.

He’d come to fight.

His mission: apprehend a teenage terrorist who had plans to blow up the senior prom of the largest high school in the state. Biggest obstacle: the chances of a radicalized Al-Shabaab soldier simply coming along with an undercover federal agent without putting up a fight landed somewhere between zero and no fucking way.

The clock ticked to 1:47 a.m., and two girls, one with mysterious brown eyes the other with swollen, perky breasts, rose from their table, threw their purses over their shoulders, and exited through the dark green front door, their men following right behind.

A brass bell, cheap and tinny, jingled as the door closed. McCutcheon pulled another hit off his pipe and waited seven full minutes before making his move. His training had stressed the importance of allowing a battle theater to settle into stillness before initiating action, and no one trained with more diligence, dedication, or balls-out mettle than the soldier who didn’t even officially exist—Murk Team recruit Agent ZERO X1.

M.D. walked to the front counter. His target sat on a black bar stool, a woven Persian tapestry hanging on the wall behind him, a twenty-four-inch touch screen digital cash register sitting on the hard wooden counter directly to his right.

“You paying cash or credit?”

“I’m looking for Ibrahim Ali Farah.”

A pause. Eye contact as the North African’s gaze slowly moved to meet M.D.’s. His fingers froze mid-stroke, he turned his head and waited. It was almost as if he expected someone else to come out and answer the question for him.

Which is exactly what happened.

A bloodred curtain parted and a muscular silhouette appeared from a private back room. Penetrating, threatening eyes sized up McCutcheon.

“Zuri. Come,” the shadowy figure called out over his shoulder. “Trouble.”

A second silhouette emerged, tall and lithe, and two men stepped forward into the dim light. They both glared at M.D. with coldness. One stood thick and stocky, biceps like bank safes rippling underneath a white V-neck tee. The other was six feet three inches tall, had a goatee, lean physique, and a two-inch scar above the corner of his left eye.

Just two? McCutcheon thought. They weren’t as prepared as he’d expected. Nor as they would need to be. Not if they were going to deal with M.D.

Not tonight.

Prior to getting the green light to strike his target, McCutcheon had been having a rough evening. Extremely rough. Ever since he made the decision to abandon his girlfriend—no good-bye, no explanations, no “talk-to-ya-soon”s or “I’ll-be-in-touch”s, just Poof! he disappeared—emotional hurricanes of sadness, regret, and anger had been washing over him. As with all elite soldiers, M.D. knew his job was to put his emotions on a shelf and go do the hard work that had been set in front of him—no excuses, no complaints, no bullshit—yet tonight he felt edgy.

M.D. was in no mood for messing around, and though discipline, patience, and the science of being a poised and methodical warrior usually steered his decision making, frustration, tension, and an urge to just rip through somebody with the rage of a lion raced through his blood. A late night dance with a couple of evil-hearted partners, he thought, might be just the bucket of cold water M.D. needed to douse the flames scorching his wounded heart.

As much as McCutcheon loathed his father, Damien “Demon” Daniels, an ex-prizefighter who washed out of pro boxing and then fell into an abyss of crime, drugs, gangs, and whores, it was all playing out just like his dad had once told him it would: “Relationships’ll just fuck a fighter up.” McCutcheon dismissed his father’s warning back when these words were first spoken as nothing more than the BS of a jaded man. But this was also before M.D.’s heart had been spiked by Cupid’s arrow. The truth hurts, but when the truth comes from the lips of a person you despise, its sting yields twice the pain.

Nerves tingling, his fists curling into the heads of hammers, M.D.—too tightly wound, too eager to deliver a beating—readied for war.

The short, muscular guy fiddled with his hands underneath the counter. Despite his view being blocked, McCutcheon didn’t make a preemptive move. Instead, M.D. just breathed in and breathed out, calm, even, steady breaths. No need to waste energy, he thought.

The tall one raised an axe handle. Hickory. Four feet long. A stick like that, M.D. knew, would leave marks.

McCutcheon stood his ground as if carved from stone. Confidence in his skills had never been a problem for Bam Bam, the legendary teenage cage warrior from the projects of inner-city Detroit. M.D. had put enough people in stitches, casts, and hospitals to know his own capabilities. The real battle for him was not one of mustering up enough aggression to go to war, but rather of summoning up enough restraint to see if bloodshed could be avoided. “I said,” M.D. repeated, working hard to remain composed, “I am looking for Ibrahim Ali Far—”

“He’s not here,” the tall one interrupted.

“And who’s the fuck is you?” asked his thick, squat associate.

McCutcheon glared. “It does not matter who I am,” he said. “It matters that I think that you”—M.D. pointed at his original target, the guy sitting behind the cash register—“are in cahoots with Ibrahim.”

“Cahoots?” came the reply. “I do not know this word. Are they a type of pants?”

The three Somalians laughed.

M.D. took another long, slow deep breath. In front of him stood Massir “Max” El-Alhou, the CyberFang of Al-Shabaab, a digital Houdini that the U.S. government had been unsuccessfully trying to apprehend for more than two years. An innovative piece of NSA software had mapped his Wi-Fi fingerprint and tracked him to the state of New Jersey. After two weeks of covert hunting, M.D. had tracked him here.

“No,” McCutcheon answered. “It means that you are an associate of Ibrahim’s, a conspirator.” M.D. pointed at the laptop. “And I have a feeling your computer contains a lot of cahoot-like information, so I am going to ask that you pack up your things and please come with me. I have a minivan. It’s parked out back.”

Silence. No one moved. Menacing looks lasered in on McCutcheon.

“You’ll be comfortable,” M.D. added. “It’s got leather seats.”

The beefy kid cracked a defiant smile. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Well, cock you.”

Cock me? M.D. thought. I don’t even know what that means. The musclebound guy with a neck as thick as a fullback’s thigh stepped from behind the counter and McCutcheon saw what had previously been shielded from his sight.

Knucks. Brass ones. Scuffed, sturdy, threatening from his left hand.

Brass knuckles have always been a favorite of soldiers because they hold the power to transform a glancing blow into a knockout punch and a knockout punch into a cerebral hematoma. But only wearing them on his left hand? Dude shoulda just made a sign, M.D. thought: Look at me, I’m a southpaw!

The muscular guy squared his stance, raised his fists, and cocked a big left hand. M.D., quick as a cougar, spun and fired off a low Muay Thai shin kick to the inside of his opponent’s back leg and CRACK! a violent pop exploded through the air as his enemy’s knee snapped. With his freshly torn anterior cruciate ligament unable to sustain his body weight, M.D.’s foe buckled forward face-first.

Into an exploding palm strike.

The blow shattered his nasal bone and like a work of art being splashed across a canvas, blood splattered against the white wall in a shower of speckled red dots. Slowly, his enemy’s eyes rolled back into his head and, after an involuntary parting of his lips, a soft sigh, and a gentle exhalation, there was a thud.

Boomph! He hit the ground.

Night-night, M.D. thought. One target down.

The tall guy launched an assault, and as if by instinct McCutcheon ducked underneath a strike aimed at his temple a tick before it would have knocked him out. His fierce enemy followed with two more blows, swinging the ax handle expertly, not like a street fighter wildly waving a baseball bat but rather like a martial artist who had been schooled in the skill of stick fighting. Concise, focused, swift strokes aimed at M.D.’s core, head, and then knees caused McCutcheon to backpedal.

M.D. kicked aside a chair, clearing some space, and Thwwwwisshh! the wind of another strike sailed by the front of his face. The angular, fierce Somalian refused to give him an inch.

McCutcheon knew he was going to have to absorb a blow. His challenge, he recognized, was to make sure it’d only be one shot and not multiple whacks. After that, M.D. told himself, he’d have him at a disadvantage.

As they say in the cage, everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face. McCutcheon knew the time had come to see if his tall stick-swinging opponent owned any balls.

His enemy struck from the left; M.D. slid to his right and absorbed a smash to the ribs and groaned. Then M.D. countered. From the inside. Once the two adversaries were only three inches apart, McCutcheon maneuvered both of his elbows above his foe’s forearms, which made the ax handle about as helpful to him as a mosquito net.

Head butt—Boom!—just above the eye socket. Few blows are more crippling. As if in slow motion, the sense of alertness in the tall Somalian’s eyes shifted from clear to glazed.

Spleen shot, forearm shiver to the face, a knee to the chin that hit like a brick, and Bang! second enemy down.

Only one task remained: apprehend his target.

McCutcheon straightened his spine, stepped around a tall brass pipe that had been knocked over in the melee, and advanced toward the front counter. The time had come to stake his claim. M.D. looked up, ready to take his man into custody.

And found himself staring into the barrel of a gun.

Delivering Ibrahim Ali Farah’s lead cyber operations officer to the clandestine command center alive was the reason McCutcheon went to Mystic Wonders in the first place. This was not a “dead or alive” mission; only alive would do. His orders were simple: capture the technology coordinator behind a new-era sleeper cell that had been created by teens, was recruiting teens, and, most terrifying of all, was targeting teens for upcoming bloodshed. These “kids,” he was informed, were pretending to be regular students, working late nights, studying computer science, wearing blue jeans and so on, when in reality it had been discovered they were actually a group of young chaos causers plotting mayhem on American soil. Their leader, Ibrahim Ali Farah, functioned as an underage operative for an international terrorist organization known as Al-Shabaab.

In Arabic, the name Al-Shabaab means Movement of Striving Youth. McCutcheon Daniels got recruited to the world of hunting them after his own underground mixed martial arts career in the ghettoes of Detroit. His father had pimped him out like a violent whore to make money. Pound for pound, M.D. was the best young mixed martial artist the Motor City had ever seen. Maybe the best ever. Undefeated for years and unmatched in his dedication to training, M.D. had taken out some of the best underground fighters from coast to coast. However, a street gang named the Priests lost a very large sum of money betting on M.D. the night he absorbed the first loss of his career.

A loss that could have been—and should have been—a victory until McCutcheon purposefully threw the fight. M.D. had only done it to escape his father’s abusive clutches, but the Priests didn’t care about stupid little father/son squabbles. They’d lost a lot of cash fronting money for uncovered bets made by McCutcheon’s dad, and according to the code of the streets, the only way to pay someone back for such a giant loss of green was with the spilling of a large amount of red.

The High Priest, the gang’s kingpin, sought revenge.

Payback for the Daniels family began with having Klowner and Nate-Neck, McCutcheon’s two closest friends and MMA training partners, butchered. A hollowed-out eye socket, necks slashed to the white of the bone, ears carved off with a hacksaw—gruesome, merciless street executions had been carried out on both men. Of course the High Priest had also put a green light out on Demon Daniels, M.D.’s dad, but he slithered away before hit squads were able to take him out.

As the leader of a criminal enterprise growing more influential by the month, D’Marcus Rose, the High Priest, understood that most people feared death. But what people feared even more than death, he knew, was excessive, prolonged pain.

This knowledge led him to create a campaign of terror aimed directly at Detroit’s most impoverished residents. Targeting the poorest made good business sense because the down and out were the most easily victimized and the least well-protected by law enforcement. With their fear came power.

Once Detroit became the largest American city in history to declare bankruptcy, opportunities opened like flower buds in the springtime. Fewer cops. Less resources. Virtually no chance to stop the Priests.

Rose became the city’s biggest shotcaller. As the High Priest he held only one aim: own Detroit. Anyone who tried to stop him found themselves in either a wheelchair or the morgue.

McCutcheon’s mom, baby sister, and M.D. ended up being whisked away in the dead of day and put into protective custody by the U.S. Marshals’ Witness Security Program. Once the whole family was safe in Bellevue, Nebraska—like who in the world moves to Bellevue, Nebraska, from the projects of D-Town?—some black op government guys, fans of McCutcheon’s unique skill set as a cage fighter, began recruiting M.D. to a covert, anti–domestic terror unit nicknamed the Murk.

Like so many other adults in McCutcheon’s life, they too wanted him to fight. But for something more. Something bigger. Something worth fighting for.

America. Freedom. The red, white, and blue.

After all the betrayal and all the violence during his childhood years, McCutcheon hungered for something positive to latch on to. Corny as it sounds, the whole idea of being one of the good guys appealed to him. M.D. was a badass. He knew he was a badass. He’d been raised ever since the crib to be a badass. At three he was shadowboxing, at seven he was executing heel hooks, and by the age of nine he was punching the ticket of thirteen-year-olds who outweighed him by more than fifty pounds. There was never a question about McCutcheon Daniels being a great and mighty warrior; the question, as posed to M.D., was “Can McCutcheon Daniels be a great and mighty warrior who fights for a great and mighty cause?”

A gravel-voiced guy named Stanzer envisioned M.D. as a prototype for the next generation of soldier, the kind that could handle the challenges of fighting the next generation of terrorist.

“The enemy doesn’t have an age limit,” Stanzer barked. “Why should we?”

M.D. was young. He was skilled. He was the type of lone wolf that could get into places only teens could gain access to and then do some serious damage in an under-the-radar style.

All in the name of saving American lives. On the inside of Stanzer’s left forearm the colonel wore a tattoo that rationalized it all:

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Beneath these words rippled the image of an American flag. To Stanzer, his ink wasn’t just body paint; these words gave meaning to his life.

“Fact is,” Stanzer said to M.D., “sometimes good people have to do some very bad things.”

Few teens if any had ever excelled in the world of mixed martial arts to the extent that M.D. had. But his whole life he’d been programmed by his piece-of-shit father to fight for personal, self-centered reasons. Demon Daniels taught his son to dream of winning a belt. Of becoming a world champion. Of living a life of luxury and material wealth. Stanzer spoke of something more.

Duty. Honor. Service. A higher calling.

McCutcheon loved him for it.

Like legions of others who sign on the dotted line, warring for something bigger than himself rang true to McCutcheon, and M.D. decided to accept the challenge. His country, he was told, needed him.

It didn’t take long for Stanzer to recognize that McCutcheon was unlike any other recruit he’d ever seen. Yet for all M.D.’s physical skills, perhaps the most impressive quality Stanzer saw in McCutcheon was the manner in which he respected the theater of battle. To M.D., the mixed martial arts were more than just a system of fighting; being a warrior meant living by a set of principles.

Honor, strength, humility, respect. These weren’t just ideals to M.D.; these were his ethics, on display morning, noon, and night. A lot of MMA fighters worked hard to build their physical skills in a wide range of the martial arts’s fiercest of fighting styles. M.D. had, too. Yet, as Stanzer noted, Agent ZERO X1 also worked just as hard to embody the warrior’s ethos of dignity. McCutcheon approached his training with ferocity, his teachers with humility, and his foes with a combination of respect, bravery, patience, wisdom, and unrelenting aggression.

He stood out as a once-every-decade type of soldier so the colonel fast-tracked him and covertly schooled McCutcheon in the art of modern-day urban assault. Weapons, lock picking, phone hacking, disappearing like a ghost—McCutcheon proved to be a remarkable student, and it wasn’t long before the military had a teenage warrior on their hands who could slide into house parties, hip-hop shows, high schools, and hookah bars without anyone batting an eye.

The fight against domestic terror had a new weapon: an underage war machine, perhaps the first of its kind. And Stanzer believed that before McCutcheon’s time was over his impact on those that would seek to do America harm would become legendary. As far as the colonel could tell there was only one weakness—the memory of the girl. McCutcheon carried it around like an overpacked suitcase.

“You gotta slay that dragon,” Stanzer would say. “Cut its fucking head off and leave its carcass for the flies and rats.”

“My dragon died a long time ago,” M.D. responded.

“Being wounded and being a corpse are two different things.”

“I’ll try to remember that,” M.D. said. “Then again, you know how I feel about murder.”

No matter what Stanzer tried to explain to McCutcheon about the true, dark nature of the job, M.D. still continued to hold on to two nonnegotiable rules for himself when it came to his participation in the Murk.

Number one: no killing. Yes, M.D. was an expert in the art of hurt, but he refused to take another person’s life. Capturing them with a bit of stank on it? No problem.

Number two—and this was the big one for M.D.: come summer, he planned to break cover, ditch the false Wit Sec identity that had been created for him—as a new-to-Nebraska homeschooled student from Pittsburgh named Jarrett Jenkins—and go back to his true hometown, Detroit.


To see his girl.

McCutcheon had been forced to leave her at a moment’s notice in order to make sure his mom and sister were safe, but Kaitlyn Cummings had never left M.D.’s heart. Sure, ladies had been throwing themselves at “Bam Bam” ever since he was twelve years old—that’s what happens when you’re a hard-bodied underground celebrity cage warrior with long, thick eyelashes and a six-pack of ripped, granite abs. But when it came to Kaitlyn, things were different.

M.D. was sprung for her. Totally and completely. Kaitlyn was the girl of his dreams—smart, beautiful, took no shit—and he wanted her back. Desperately. The first month without her was hard. The second torturous. By the end of month seven, not seeing her, not smelling her, not feeling the soft, tenderness of her skin burned in M.D.’s heart and grew into a rage.

Time had not healed this wound.

To their credit, the Witness Security Program owned an unblemished track record when it came to keeping those in their custody safe from harm. Literally, never once in the history of Wit Sec had someone who’d come under federal protection ever been harmed or killed while under the active protection of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Of course Wit Sec’s first and foremost rule for achieving this was that a person could never return home; and while M.D.’s head might have said yes to his current arrangement on a moment’s notice in a high-pressure, no-time-to-really-think-about-it situation, now that McCutcheon was actually having to live out the terms of the deal, he was dead set on breaking the contract. In fact, it had gotten to the point where M.D. missed Kaitlyn so badly that he’d begun taking chances. Chances he hadn’t told Stanzer about. Chances that could have had immensely negative consequences.

But these were prices M.D. was willing to pay. For the opportunity to be with Kaitlyn, no cost felt too high.

Four times during the previous three months McCutcheon secretly slipped out of Nebraska and drove ten hours into Michigan to do some intelligence gathering on his girl. Essentially, he stalked Kaitlyn. Not with any ill will, of course. Adding fuel to the fire, he still felt awful about the way he’d been forced to leave her as she stood less than twenty yards away crying, “McCutcheon, McCutcheon!” as he coldly climbed into a white government van and disappeared forever.

He hadn’t turned around. He hadn’t said good-bye. He hadn’t explained the circumstances or anything. He just left—that abruptly, that unresolved, that icy and heartless.

Yet he knew it had to be that way. For Kaitlyn’s safety. So she didn’t get mixed up into any trouble with the Priests and they didn’t target her. But now that things had settled and everyone was safe, McCutcheon hungered to see her again. He wanted to set the record straight, to fix what had been broken, to go see a movie, hold her hand, and then, like any other red-blooded American boy, find a nice quiet place to cuddle up and go turn out the lights.

M.D. knew that if he didn’t see Kaitlyn again soon he’d explode.

Of course Agent ZERO X1 was trained to know better than to allow Kaitlyn to catch sight of him on these secret sojourns, but each time M.D. snuck away he felt more and more tempted to initiate contact and reappear in her life like a long lost ghost.

Their reunion, he imagined, would be like the final scenes of a great romance movie. Passionate. Filled with joy and happiness. And never again, once reunited, would McCutcheon ever let her go. That was a promise he’d made to himself.

His hunger to be with Kaitlyn turned the logical side of M.D.’s brain to mush. M.D. had come to learn, over long periods of isolation and deep stretches of loneliness, the heart wants what the heart wants, and it rarely gives a shit what the mind has to say about it. Were these secretive trips to see Kaitlyn logical? Not at all. Were they essential? Absolutely, he felt.

It was just like Demon said: “Love, it’ll fuck a fighter up.”

Now that M.D. was about to deliver on his fifth successful mission he felt he deserved official permission from Stanzer to go meet up with Kaitlyn face-to-face. That was the deal. Or at least, that was the deal as M.D. understood it to be, even though Stanzer had never agreed. Once McCutcheon bagged tonight’s target, however, he planned to cash in his chips and make rendezvousing with Kaitlyn a reality. McCutcheon gazed down at the pools of blood forming around each of his two fallen opponents lying on the hookah bar’s floor, but he didn’t allow himself to feel good about the victory. Taking pleasure from hurting people was what bullies and tyrants did. Martial artists who conducted themselves with honor sought to avoid conflict. To win without fighting, as the ancient texts said, was the highest form of triumph, and McCutcheon knew if he started taking pleasure from violently devastating his adversaries it would open a vault of blackness that had been buried deep inside of him.


On Sale
Jul 21, 2015
Page Count
400 pages

Alan Lawrence Sitomer

About the Author

Alan Lawrence Sitomer is a nationally renowned speaker and was California’s Teacher of the Year in 2007. He is also the author of multiple works for young readers, including Daddies Do It Different, Nerd Girls, the Hoopster trilogy, Cinder-Smella, and The Alan Sitomer BookJam. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

Learn more about this author