Here’s the current installment I hope you enjoy.
As always please vote and comment and tell me how you like the storyline. Suggestions are always welcome.
October 6, 2012
Lost But Not Forgotten:
Nick followed the water upstream for miles until it reached the outermost ring of water. This lake was wide and deep and with no mode of transportation it appeared he might be swimming the distance unless he discovered another way. He decided to the leave the stream that cut arrow straight to the center to see if there were any piers or boats beached somewhere else along this side of the lake. Nick had to admit that at least the weather was nice and no tropical storms or adverse conditions were threatening the island.
He was alone with his thoughts and they were turning to the outside world and impact of Project Aries. Nick wondered how high the death toll would reach before people realized what was happening. It was true the original project had been stumbled upon by James but it was Nick’s foresight and problem solving that allowed it to reach fruition. The government hadn’t used it because they hadn’t been able to control it with the creation of a vaccine. But with the help of the avatars and an unlikely ally, the Old Ones, a better more controllable virus had been developed along with a vaccine. The catch was that you had to be given the vaccine first otherwise it was ineffective. Nick and the trusted few had been inoculated and then before leaving the ship he had checked his watch and saw that the deadline had passed and the canisters containing Project Aries had been triggered worldwide. Oh the nano-virus wouldn’t kill everyone but it had the potential to and that was the staggering power of the solution that Nick had created. He hoped that after his meeting with the Eternal Master that he had shoulders wide enough to accept the responsibility and perhaps even the blame should someone discovers what he had done.
As he walked the circuit around the lake every thousand feet or so he passed a decorative stone pillar done in similar fashion to the black obelisks but carved from local volcanic stone. The obsidian pillars were polished to a glass like finish and etched with curious Egyptian like hieroglyphics. After the fourth pillar had been passed Nick was no longer alone.
“Really are you going to walk by every means of crossing this lake until you return to your starting point,” Lilith asked.
Nick turned and saw his favorite female avatar matching him stride for stride. She was much changed from the typical sultry form he was accustomed to. She was nearly as tall as he was and sporting shiny black horns that poked out from her blonde hair. Gone were her normal colored eyes they were now a molten gold with black sclera. Lilith was as buxom as he remembered but the piercings and skull heads adorning her nipples were new. As was the blood red skirt that covered her pubic region and the crack of her ass, the sides were open and did little to keep him from peeking. The last and most drastic alteration to her form were the massive bat wings and cloven hooves; which were the color of a night sky.
“What’s with the new look,” Nick asked.
“Actually it’s an old look,” she replied. “Since my last visit didn’t go shall we say splendid; I was commanded by the Master of the Isle that if ever I should set foot here this is how I should appear.”
“You look like a succubus,” he said admiring her ruddy colored skin.
“MMMMMMMMMMMMMM I see that you like it so I shan’t be upset then.”
“So you know who the Eternal Master is,” Nick asked raising an eyebrow.
“Oh no you don’t,” she waggled a finger in his face. “Don’t give me ‘that’ look. Even I have my limits on what I might share with a new master.”
“Okay,” Nick smiled. “Can you help me across this lake?”
“That I can do,” she said stopping and heading back towards the nearest pillar.
Nick followed her enjoying the view as she wiggled and sauntered her way down the beach.
“I always knew you were an ass man Master,” she said over her shoulder.
“You will get no argument from me,” Nick said licking his lips.
It was a short walk to the pillar and she did a strange thing she laid her hand upon one side of it and said…
“I require a Navigator.”
The top of the pillar lit up and a man who appeared to be in his sixties or so dressed in a Romanesque toga bowed and greeted them.
“I am Gaius Octavia and how may I be of service?”
“We require transportation to the inner circle we are expected,” Lilith replied.
“The young Master is most assuredly expected but YOU, hehe, I do not think HE will want to see YOU.”
“She belongs to me,” Nick said.
“Oh my most sincere apologies young Master,” Gaius bowed low and appeared genuinely sorrowful. “Had I known that she was your property I would not have spoken out of turn, please forgive.”
“No apologies are needed but my feet are getting sore and standing around here is not doing my mood any good.”
“Yes… of course… let me summon transportation.” Gaius turned to face the lake and let out a ruby whistle and an ancient boat that reminded Nick of the story of Charon and the River Styx came to mind.
“Do we pay the ferryman,” Nick asked.
“No, but I do see the similarity Master,” Lilith mused.
“Oh good I am glad it’s not just me,” he said feeling a bit of his tension fade.
The skiff pulled up to the shore and Nick and Lilith stepped aboard and with no one at the helm it turned around and headed for the stream that Nick had first discovered.
“We are heading for that stream I found,” Nick told Lilith.
“It is called the Grand Canal and is the quickest way from the outermost part of the island to the center.” Lilith explained.
“So who built this place,” Nick asked looking at the hints of buildings that the jungle had grown up over.
“That is a very long story Master,” Lilith. “It spans millions of years since this island was formed by a massive meteor strike that cleaved the ocean floor and the resulting tidal wave did so much damage. Then the Titans of the Deep rose from their fiery lair and formed and shaped the island as you see it today.”
“Titans of the Deep,” Nick asked.
“We do not often speak of them. There are forces that sleep Master, forces so ancient and alien that to even think upon them is to rouse their unwavering attention. You are to them as a gnat and with an unconscious effort they could end you.”
“So ‘they’ formed the island, you mean the concentric rings?”
“Yes ‘they’ are fond of geometric shapes. When the isle had cooled and had become stable the Old Ones and a few others came here and made it a sanctuary and a school. Here in the Long Years they shared their wisdom with humans and the like.”
“Long Years, Abaxxa used that term,” Nick commented.
“Abraxxa, she is a servant of the Titans and not to be trusted Master,” Lilith said adamantly. “The Long Years is a term for a time so vast that it is difficult to calculate.”
“Got it, please continue.”
“The brightest and those showing the most potential were brought here to live learn and master their talents. Whether it was Math, Science, Music or even Meditation if there was a child who showed a gift here it was nurtured until…”
“Until what,” Nick asked.
“Until the day that the Master of the Isle broke faith and aided the enemy of all living things,” Lilith whispered.
“The Nephilim,” he said.
“That is what we call them now but in those days they were the Akhkharu. Those abominations created by the Promethean in a moment of weakness. They have been a bane to Old Ones, Humanity and others alike.”
“Others,” Nick asked.
“If we survive this I will share more about the others but that is not important now. The Old Ones rose up a flood and drowned the Akhkharu to the last or so it was thought. At least one managed to survive and she was mother of nightmares. The Master of the Isle found her washed up upon these very shores and instead of finishing what the Old Ones started her beauty bewitched him and he nurtured her back to health and worse fathered those that haunt the cities and dark places of the world. It was his seed that stabilized the race made them reasoning creatures and oh so more dangerous. They departed the Isle never to return but in a moment of clarity and reason the Master sealed the Last in a silver sarcophagus for all time so that her terror would never spread again.”
“And what about the Bloodstone Ring,” Nick asked.
“That, which was the Eternal Master’s first ring he ever wore. It was what allowed him to survive the long centuries before he secured the Obelisk.”
“So he is a Nephilim,” he asked.
“No longer he cured himself of that by an ancient purification rite and trod the path of blood no more. When the Old Ones learned what he had done the Isle was abandoned and for his hubris the Master was scorned by the wise and left to his own devices unless he somehow made penance and killed the Dark Mother.”
“I take it he hasn’t done that,” Nick said.
“No and he never will, if you wish to become Master of the Isle she must perish Master.”
“I never said that was my goal, I came here to confront him and learn why he did all that he did.”
“Good luck on that front his mind is nearly as complex as…”
“STOP the skiff,” Nick hollered.
Lilith gestured at the rear of the boat and it stopped but continued to move along the current backwards now.
“I want to get up there,” Nick said pointing to the top of a heavily overgrown bluff.
“Okay… why,” Lilith asked.
“I can see something glinting through the trees I want to investigate.”
“Alright, shall I stay here and guard the skiff?”
“Do what you want,” Nick said as he untied his silk sash and tied off his katana so he could wear it over his shoulder.
Lilith directed the boat to a spot close to one of the largest roots and there it would stay until Nick’s return. He leapt from the boat and grabbed a large root that was hanging from the side of the bluff and using it like a rope he began to make his way upwards. Lilith simply sat in the skiff and watched her Master being unpredictable as always. He covered the thirty feet in good time and was soon waving from the top of the bluff and then disappearing from her line of sight. Nick weaved his way through the overgrown jungle to the glittering edifice that was a building in bygone days. Even though the structure had been abandoned thousands of years ago what was visible appeared untouched by time and weather unlike the Lost City of Iram. There was an open doorway illuminated by the slanted rays of sunlight that managed to penetrate the dense foliage. Nick entered cautiously his gaze taking in every detail of the amazing architecture. The interior was without a single crossbeam or strut or any sign of bracing to keep the free standing walls from collapsing. He slowly moved to the center of the only floor and when he finally looked down he gasped at the intricate design cut into the glass like substance. There were eight curved lines that met in the center of the floor and between these main lines were thousands of tiny laser-thin lines forming an amazing geometric symmetry.
“How can I be of help Sir,” the voice was heard scant seconds before the holographic figure appeared.
“What is this place,” Nick asked and again sound preceded the movement of his lips.
“It is whatever you require Sir,” the avatar explained. “I am sorry my holographic matrix seems to be a little out of sync.”
“Can you please explain what you mean by whatever I require?”
“Ah, this structure is polymorphic in nature and so its use is dictated by those that enter.”
“So if I needed a dojo you could create one for me,” Nick asked.
“Exactly Sir,” the avatar was finally speaking in time with his image.
“Can you create a place to perform music?”
“Oh YES Sir,” the holographic features shifted into a beaming smile. “Please stand back and observe.”
Nick moved to the entrance and once he was ready there came a very familiar thrum of power from the floor and the geometric pieces that formed the clear mosaic began to vibrate and then flew into the air. The clinking sound of ten thousand pieces of transparent material filled the air and where they touched they became one piece of glass. Larger and larger pieces formed until a geodesic dome like structure formed above Nick and he was all smiles. What seemed to have taken forever were just a few minutes and the hologram waved him over and each footstep was like a symphony of music. Then he looked down once more and saw that each piece of crystal-like flooring lit up and gave off a perfect tone.
“Amazing,” Nick gasped and his voice seemed to hang in the air for long moments.
“Thank you Sir,” the avatar said bowing low.
“Can you teach me how to sing,” Nick asked.
“Sir,” the hologram asked blushing. “You would grant me that great honor?”
“If you think you can manage with the raw material you have to work with,” Nick said.
“But Sir has a fine voice it would take little to improve upon it,” the avatar announced.
“Can you teach me to break glass with my voice,” Nick asked with a sly grin.
“That kind of control would take time but I don’t see why not.”
“Master,” sang a choir that could only be Lilith. “It is nearly dusk we should seek a place of shelter for the night before it becomes too dark to see.”
“Of course,” Nick replied unsure of why she wished him to leave but was wise enough to take the hint. “I will return if I can.” Nick told the avatar before turning to leave.
The odd pair left the glass structure and headed back towards the cliff edge and found a spot large enough to start a fire but far enough away not to burn down the jungle. Nick sought kindling and enough dead wood for the night and built a nice cozy fire to keep away any animals that might come upon them in the dark.
“Why did you want me to leave that building Lilith,” Nick asked watching as she lay on her back staring up at the sky.
“It isn’t good to get their hopes up Master,” she said appearing almost lost in thought.
“Explain yourself,” Nick said a little irked by her statement.
“Every building here has at least one avatar residing in it. They have been sleeping away the millennia quite peacefully. When they are awakened they are hoping that the city will once more be what it was. A place where they will be useful again,” she finished.
“I understand,” he said nodding. “And do you feel useful Lilith? Have I made your existence a worthwhile one?”
“Between changing the world as we know it and the amazing sex I have absolutely no complaints Master,” she said smiling suddenly.
“I’m glad,” Nick said as he yawned. “Can I get a morning wakeup call?”
“I will get you UP at first light Master,” Lilith said with an evil grin.
Nick took his Kimono jacket and made a pillow of it and settled down for the night. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift where it would and found thoughts of the Lost City painting his dreamscape. But it wasn’t the city as he saw it but in its full glory newly carved from the desert rock. He saw those ancient people going about their daily business walking among the thousand pillars and they were happy. Water flowed and there was life in that godless region of the world. They were not Old Ones or even Nephilim they were human beings who challenged nature and won at least in the beginning. But it was the darkness beneath the earth that rose up and consumed them. It was the discovery of the first city, the older city that led to their ruination. There were no monsters or survivors as such it was the magic that lay dormant for so many eons left untouched until that day when they dug for a new well and found something more precious than water. They found the machines that the Titans of the Deep had left there. Mere playthings to their creators but to the humans it was nothing short of magic. Only a few could use them only a few could harness their terrible power. There arose a sect of magician priests who used them wisely at first but as with all power of such magnitude it corrupted even the most devout holy man in the end. It wasn’t the sun and wind that tore down the pillars of Iram it was a battle between the priests over control of the city. In the end most lay dead and the city had to be deserted else there would be none left to tell the tale. The survivors buried or sealed away the magic and fled the evil spot never to return. Until Nick had come and taken his spoils for his own and he was unafraid of the machines for he knew they were not magic but Organic Technology. They were a tool like any other that could be used to create or misused to destroy. All this his dream showed him until it all faded away and Nick lay in his perfect darkness with its immutable silence and he was safe.
Nick had not come to the island unarmed. He had brought the very obvious weapon the Orichalcum Katana that Petra, Kat and his Father had given him. But he also carried a not so obvious weapon the Scepter of Iram and its formidable powers. It was the sentience within the scepter that had been whispering to him in his dreams and showing him the history of the Lost City. As it whispered to him it saw a more proper form to take to better serve its new Master. It slowly altered its form and slithered from its hiding place at the small of his back beneath the kimono to his naked right wrist. It changed the shape of the blue diamond from a perfect smooth sphere to a gorgeous faceted round cut stone. It was around this gem that the metal that was not metal was spun into an ebony gauntlet with the ruby resting in the palm of his hand and the blue diamond on the back of his hand. The fingers were left bare and when finished the machine now covered at least one half the length of his lower arm in a comfortable metallic mesh. It purred to him in an almost sensual way now and they were bound one to the other.
October 7, 2012
Lilith true to her word got onto her hands and knees and crawled over to her sleeping Master as the first hints of true day were coloring the sky. With deft fingers she untied his kimono pants and freed his morning wood. He must have been having some very naughty dreams she thought as she lowered her mouth to him. She flickers her tongue over the sensitive head and heard his soft moan. Lilith wrapped her slender fingers around the shaft and began to stroke him as her tongue and mouth engulfed the first few inches of his cock. His moans got progressively louder until he awoke with a start as his cum splashed down Lilith’s throat. Before he could move she straddled him and lowered her soaked sex around him and rode him slowly.
“MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM Morning Master,” she purred.
“Damn Lilith hell of a wakeup call,” he moaned.
“NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN I hope Master is pleased,” she cooed.
“MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,” was all he managed as he lowered his head back down and enjoyed the pleasure she was giving him.
Lilith twisted around with him still buried in her and his cock flexed inside of her sending her over the edge. Panting and moaning she leaned forward and lifted and dropped her shapely ass faster and faster squeezing him now and again to push him towards his second climax. Soon enough he had shoved her onto her hands and knees and was behind her thrusting hard and fast into her. She pushed back against him as he pounded her pussy harder and harder now. Lilith urged him on and was squeezing each time his cock slid into her pussy and his breath was coming in harsh gasps now.
“MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM come for me Master… fill my pussy with your cum.”
His only reply was a firmer grip on her ass cheeks and even harder thrusts of his hips. Then came the tell tale swelling of his generous cock and soon she knew she would feel those delicious pulses of cum shooting into her.
“UNNN UNNNN UNNNNNN,” she was grunting now as he slammed into her with one thought his climax.
She was not disappointed when he pulled back paused and rammed his cock home one last time sending ropes of thick cum deep inside of her.
“YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS,” she screamed and her voice carried over the canyon like walls for miles.
“Damn I needed that,” Nick said as she cleaned his cock with her mouth.
“Stress is very bad for Master,” she said coyly as she licked the last of his cum from the tip of his manhood.
“We better get going,” he said dressing and looking around frantically for a moment.
“Did you lose something Master,” Lilith asked scanning the ground.
It was then that Nick noticed his new jewelry he was sporting on his right hand. He recognized the material of the machine instantly and knew somehow that it could reconfigure itself to suit its master’s needs.
“Never mind lets head on down to the skiff,” Nick said as he levered himself over the edge and down the roots towards the boat.
Lilith gathered up his kimono top and sword wondering if Master’s mind was fully focused and then remembered she had just rocked his world.
“Hehe… men,” she mused as she glided down to the boat.
Los Angeles: 2:00 a.m.
The urban landscape was lit by the perpetual illumination of street lamps and headlights. This is the city that never sleeps. It was scarcely eight hours since John D. Small or as his crew knew him ‘Biggy’ Small had been released from prison after a fifteen year stint for manslaughter. He had his one trusted friend Nathaniel Brown better known as ‘Natural’ who had taken the murder weapon and hid hit all these years. Without a weapon the police could not prove premeditation and so Biggy spent fifteen years of a thirty year sentence behind bars. He had managed to dodge the bullet on the day the prisons went up like the Fourth of July by being transferred to a medium security facility the day before. Fate was kind to Biggy or so he thought. He and his crew were driving around the old neighborhood or what was left of it when something caught Natural’s eye.
“Hey Biggy you see that,” he said pointing to the curvaceous piece of ass walking into the local quickie mart.
“Damn that is one fine woman we should introduce ourselves,” Biggy replied.
“No man check out her ass,” Natural said very intense and serious now.
Biggy leaned forward and stared at her shapely behind and it was only then that he noted she RED rag hanging out her back pocket. Red was definitely not a healthy color to be sporting in Biggy’s neighborhood.
“Does the bitch have a death wish,” Leon muttered from the back seat.
“Let’s find out,” Biggy said turning into the parking lot of the store.
The three men entered the quickie mart and saw the woman at the counter chatting it up with the young guy behind the bullet proof glass. They made no pretense and walked up behind her and cut off her escape. They took in her exotic beauty and were wondering what the hell a fine looking red head was doing in their territory. Her hair came down to the small of her back and below that well damn she had the finest ass they had ever seen.
“Scuse me,” Biggy said tapping her on her shoulder.
The woman turned around smiled but it was an icy smile that never reached her cold green eyes. The three men were impressed that her front half was better than the rear. She was the kind of stunning you see in pornos or your best wet dreams.
“Yes,” she replied in her sexy southern accent.
“Well darlin’,” Biggy said eyeing her up and down. “You are the finest lookin’ bitch I have ever laid eyes on.”
“Does that work for all the girls or just the stupid bitches that you manage to fuck?” she replied without missing a beat.
Leon and Natural both took a step back knowing this wasn’t going to end well.
“What did you say CUNT!” Biggy was up in her face now.
“I said do all the skanky hoes go all wobbly in the knees when your pencil dick ass slides up and calls them bitches?”
Biggy’s hand moves to the small of his back where his chromed nine millimeter rests so very comfortably.
“Go ahead and pull it and it’ll be the last motherfuckin’ thing you ever do,” she spat at him.
“And why is that bitch,” Biggy asked as he cocked the hammer and slid the gun into his hand.
“I am a voodoo priestess,” she said bringing her hands up forming the evil eye. “You even think about pulling that trigger and you will drop fucking dead.”
Biggy began laughing in her face even as he brought the weapon to bear and pointed it at her face. There was something wrong and it was Leon of all people who first noticed it, the bitch wasn’t afraid she didn’t even blink at being on the business end of the pistol.
“Hey Biggy I think we should go,” Leon said in a harsh whisper.
“Go… why the fuck should we go,” he asked.
“Cause dude she ain’t afraid,” Leon continued. “She’s either crazy or she put a hex on you man.”
“Leon grow a pair,” Biggy said smiling. “I ain’t gonna shoot a fine bitch like this. Not until I fuck every hole this loud mouth cunt has. Then, well then that’s another story altogether.”
“I get her tits first,” Natural says trying to make himself feel the confidence her cold green eyes was stealing by the second.
“I get her ass,” Biggy said reaching up to grab her by the hair with his free hand.
“Touch me and you die,” she snarled with such ferocity his hand dropped to his side.
There was something wrong with this red hair green eyed bitch but nothing that a bullet couldn’t fix. Biggy’s finger began to wrap around the trigger as she smiled her serpentine grin. She was daring him to pull the trigger and Biggy had no qualms about icing some crazy bitch even in front of a witness. He felt the cool cold security of the trigger and even as his brain thought ‘pull’ the pain slammed into him like a freight train. It was his left arm and then his chest and even as the late Biggy Small hit the ground dead in a pool of his urine Natural did what was expected and drew out his own gun and aimed at the crazy smiling bitch. Just like Biggy the minute Natural’s brain screamed ‘PULL’ there came an agony in his skull that made the world go away and the aneurism that killed him dead was proof positive she wasn’t crazy. Leon looked at his two dead friends and he had seen enough death on the streets to recognize it and he did the smart thing.
“Sorry,” he muttered and left his friend’s corpses where they were and ran for his life.
The clerk behind the bulletproof glass stared out in dumbfounded wonder and when she turned around again he just smiled and gave her the pack of chewing gum she had come in for.
“On the house,” he managed.
“Why thank you kindly,” she said with a warm smile and stepped over the body of Biggy Small as she left the quickie mart.
Chicago: 9:00 a.m.
Mary Ann Marx was bent over her kitchen table wearing only an apron and a smile. She shakily slipped the ball gag into her mouth just before she put on the blindfold. Like a dutiful slave she had inserted the anal plug earlier in eager anticipation for His arrival. The affair had started six months ago and it had only taken Him two weeks to break her of her willful ways and make her His own. She heard the back door open and close and knew that His eyes were caressing her naughty flesh. His footsteps came closer and her legs were shaking so bad she thought she would collapse. Thank goodness for the table beneath her.
“I see that you have prepared yourself for my arrival,” His voice was deep and cultured and made her pussy drip with need. “Let’s see what we have here.”
She felt His fingers probing her sex and He gave a little tug on her butt plug for good measure.
“Excellent,” He said praising her for her dutiful following of His latest instructions. “Now be a good little whore and drop to your knees and worship my cock.”
Mary did as she was told. She stood up and felt around blindly as she carefully bent her knees and with a wandering hand found His hardness hidden beneath His jeans. She unzipped Him and freed His semi-hard cock and took Him into her mouth. Mary felt Him harden in her mouth and soon His foot long monster slid down her throat. He had taught her how to repress her gag reflex as any good slave should be able to. He had trained her tight little asshole for His pleasure. He had treated her skin to the joy of His sperm as He jacked off on her face or tits or wherever He delighted to. He was the Master and she the pitiable slave. Her head moved forward and back as she deepthroated Him. His moans of pleasure were music to her ears. She dared to cup and pleasure His balls but He gave no reprimand so she put one then the other in her mouth and suckled them. When He was painfully hard He directed her to bend over the table once more. Mary moaned as the head of His cock opened her pussy up and He was soon slamming into her making the table shift just a bit. As He hammered His cock into her she felt Him ease the plug from her ass. Soon the Master’s cock would be buried in her nether region and give Him great pleasure. Mary felt His cock withdraw from her pussy and press its way into her ass and a deeper moan escaped His lips.
“Damn tight as ever,” He said praising her exercises to keep her holes nice and firm for Him.
She would never even think of letting her husband fuck her ass that belonged to her Master. Soon the long thick cock she adored so was moving in nice even strokes in and out of her. She could hear Him panting and the slight swelling of His cock. Soon He would spray her with His cum but where she wondered; her ass cheeks or maybe her back and if she was lucky her tits and face. Mary felt Him ram His cock deep into her and stop and that’s when she heard the other footsteps.
“What the FUCK is going on here?” it was the voice of her husband George.
“Listen,” her Master’s voice was sounding a bit funny then she heard the cocking sound of the double hammers on the shotgun.
“NO you listen, nobody ass fucks my wife and gets away with it,” George roared. “Now move away I don’t want to hit her by accident.”
Mary felt her Master’s cock shrivel inside of her and He slowly pulled out. Then there came a strange gurgling sound and she tore off the blindfold and saw her dear husband of twelve years laying on the floor of the kitchen ashen in face and looking quite ill.
“George!” Mary screamed rushing to his side and she could tell by the glassy eyed stare that he was stone cold dead. “What happened?”
“He looked like he was about to pull the trigger and then he grabbed his arm and dropped to the floor.” Her Master explained.
“Call 911,” she hollered but when he tried the number was busy.
It wasn’t just Los Angeles or Chicago it was the entire world. The body count was staggering in the first few hours and the panic that it sparked ratcheted up the deaths to nothing short of biblical proportions. No one knew what it was and where it had originated but it struck rich and pool old and young alike. Any overt act of aggression triggered the virus. Wars stopped dead in their tracks. Gang violence was solved in mere heartbeats as both sides fell dead to the street. Even those in power who panicked faced the unseen hand of death. No one was immune and everyone was faced with the simple fact violence will not go unpunished. Project Aries had been unleashed and whether the world liked it or not there would be peace.
The Grand Canal: 9:00 a.m.
Nick and Lilith sailed up the Grand Canal towards the mountain and the heart of the island. Everywhere he looked he could see the signs of the sleeping city. He suspected where he was but he wanted to hear it from the mouth of the Eternal Master himself. Speculations aside what little was visible from the jungle was breathtakingly beautiful. The glimmer of glass and steel was everywhere and it made Nick wonder at how many people lived here when the city was populated. It had to be well into the thousands. They had entered the second circular lake and the wildlife was as varied as what he had heard about in the Galapagos Islands. An isolated ecosystem that allowed for the evolution of species found nowhere else on the planet. As the skiff made its way across the lake it disturbed a flock of brightly colored birds and one of them was heading directly for the boat. Nick threw up his arm to ward off the inevitable collision but instead something settled lightly on his shoulder. He lowered his arm and slowly turned his head leery of having his eyes pecked out but it was no bird perched there but a feathered snake. Its feathers ranged from an emerald green to an almost golden hue and its scaled body was the color of grass at the height of summer. It had beady little eyes that were as black as pitch but he seemed as curious about Nick as Nick was about it.
“It’s called a Couatl,” Lilith explained.
“Okay,” Nick said bringing his index finger up and stroking its serpentine head and it made the most amazing sound that was somewhere between a chirp and a purr.
“Hey it likes you,” she said with a smile.
“Well as long as it doesn’t shit on my shoulder we’re all good.”
Lilith laughed and it appeared that Nick had a new fan for it seemed quite content to sit and observe the strange man-thing. The skiff crossed into the next ring of jungle and a loud coughing sound caused the couatl to seek refuge behind Nick.
“Shadowcat,” Lilith said. “But don’t worry they only hunt at night.”
“Well that’s good it gave our couatl buddy a bit of a fright,” Nick said coaxing the feathered serpent out with a reassuring word. “It’s okay I won’t let it eat you.”
“You haven’t seen a shadowcat in flight or you wouldn’t be saying that.” Lilith said her smile never faltering.
“Wait, did you say ‘flying’?”
“Yeah, it is the island’s apex predator.”
“How big are we talking,” Nick asked peering harder at the jungle that now surrounded them on most sides.
“Ever see a puma,” Lilith asked.
“No,” he said.
“Oh then you have nothing to fear.”
“Glad to hear it.”
The rest of the journey was pretty much in silence as they crossed the third and final lake. From here they could see the dock and the shoreline of the mountain. There was no welcoming committee and Nick really didn’t expect one. He was going to the mountain not the other way around. He adjusted his kimono so he looked his best and the couatl seemed awful interested in the preening that was going on and began to clean his feathers for the occasion. The skiff docked with barely a noise and Lilith and Nick left the boat and headed up the road to what appeared a very large structure that was still being used.
“Is there some sort of ritual I should observe,” Nick asked and Lilith shook her head. “Why not?”
“No Hidden Master has ever met the Eternal Master face to face.”
“Oh I am the first… great.”
Undeterred Nick and Lilith strode towards what had once been the Great Academy where the best and brightest on the island were taken for training. Now it is a husk of its old glory and home only to a single living being and the ghosts of those that have passed on. Nick stopped at the bottom of the marble stairs that led up and into the building and took in the recognition of the moment. Once he set foot on those stairs there was no going back. His heart pounded in his chest but smiling he placed his foot on the first step.
Somewhere below ground…
A circle of twelve men sits and debates over the next course of action available to them. They are scientists, doctors, politicians and military upper echelon.
“Are you telling me we can’t stop it,” the man with five stars on his shoulder asks.
“I’m telling you we don’t know what we are dealing with,” says the man who heads the Center for Disease Control.
“It’s like a plague but it can’t possibly be natural,” the elderly man mutters. “It has broken out in every major population center on the planet at the same time. Nothing natural acts like that this has to be manmade.”
“Who developed this damned thing it’s monstrous,” asks the head of a major think tank.
“We did,” replies the young man with the thousand dollar suit.
“Who is we,” many voices cry out.
“The United States Government, Project Aries was begun to neutralize large hostile ground forces and leave them dead or incapacitated. But we never used it because we never came up with a vaccine.”
“What exactly is this Project Aries,” the head of the CDC asks.
“It is a polymorphic nano-virus that attacks the parts of the brain that house aggression and primal instincts.”
“So somebody managed to steal it and complete your project for you,” the five star general growled.
“I can’t see how that is possible,” the young man said. “Project Aries has only been in existence for two years. The likelihood of someone getting their hands on it and solving the delivery and vaccination hurdles seems unfathomable.”
“Yet here we are,” said the Senator from Texas. “So what do we do?”
“We have to go public and inform them what they are up against or more people will die. We don’t have to say who created it just that it is out there and to keep calm. Aggressive behavior is the trigger and we are working on a solution.” The head of the CDC offered.
“I agree we go public. So what are the chances of finding a cure?” A doctor from the great state of California asked.
“There is no cure for Aries it was meant as a one shot one kill weapon.” The young man said but left out the fact that it is passed onto the next generation and so on. It was literally Pandora’s Box and there was no closing it now that it was open.
“What about this Shaw fellow his people created these crystal mainframes can they come up with a technical solution to this crisis? You said it was a nano-virus surely they could try.” The elderly man who represented the Mayo Clinic asked.
“We haven’t been able to reach him, but then again communications are not so reliable with the crisis at this point. We will continue to keep on trying to reach him but until then we must create an attack plan to control the spread of the virus and disposal of the dead.” The five star general said calmly.
The Great Academy: 11:15 a.m.
Nick topped the stairs and the massive double doors opened silently inward.
“I guess we are expected…” Nick said nervously. “…Ladies first.”
“Oh HELL no and I’m no Lady,” Lilith said with a weak grin.
“Coward,” Nick muttered as he entered the main hall.
The ceiling was lost in darkness as was the far wall and floor. In a word this place was huge. Nick’s footsteps echoed off the unseen walls but undeterred he activated his contact lenses and set them for low light and suddenly the chamber’s full majesty came into view.
“Damn,” Nick gasped. “This room alone must be thirty feet tall and at least sixty feet wide. Those must be the Old Ones on the ceiling gazing down. Well we can take the stairs to the second floor or the two wooden doors on this level.”
“Are you asking me,” Lilith said hiding behind Nick and his couatl companion.
“Um yeah, you have been here before,” he said but getting no immediate response Nick looked to the feathered serpent who was staring straight ahead. “Okay forward it is.”
They crossed the first thirty feet of the main floor when the double doors opened on their own but this time there was movement. The great black cat that padded silently into the main foyer was massive. He or she had to measure a good twenty feet from nose to the tip of its tail. It had jade green eyes and when it growled Nick could see its five inch canines flash menacingly. But it was the last display that made Nick stop and stare in disbelief. The Shadowcat spread its massive thirty foot wingspan of black feathery wings that made him look on in wonder. It wasn’t fear that coursed through Nick it was the sheer splendor of the thing.
“Look at you,” he muttered. “So beautiful.”
“It’s a she by the way,” Lilith offered.
Nick dropped down to a kneeling position so he could look her in the eye and the winged cat pulled its wings back against its body and returned Nick’s unflinching stare.
“Master what are you doing,” Lilith whispered.
“Taking in her measure,” he replied.
“Did you miss my remark about being the apex predator you do know what that means?”
“Yeah it means she is the one to impress around here,” Nick said with a smile.
The great cat walked towards Nick and Lilith slowly at first but then picked up speed very quickly launching herself at Nick with a practiced pounce. Nick cried out in surprise and Lilith was screaming at the top of her lungs.
“Lilith for god’s sake you’re scaring her,” Nick managed from below the three hundred pound cat.
Lilith managed to pull her hands away from her face and looked down to see the great apex predator licking her Master as if he were one of her cubs.
“Figures,” Lilith finally managed to say.
“What figures,” Nick asked giggling as the rough tongue lapped at his throat and face.
“If that had been a male Shadowcat you’d been dead,” she replied.
“Are you insinuating something?”
“No I am flat out stating a fact,” Lilith said in a huff.
Nick began scratching the Shadowcat behind her ears and the purr that followed was loud and primal.
“You see I rest my case,” the avatar pouted.
He managed after several long minutes of ‘loving’ to get to his feet and the cat was never far from his right side. The couatl took a few more minutes to coax from its hiding place to assure it that all was well now that Nick reeked of predator.
“Let’s continue shall we,” Nick said grinning.
“How did you know,” Lilith asked.
“How did I know what,” he replied knowing full well what she meant.
“How did you know that she wasn’t going to rip your throat out?”
“I just did,” Nick replied.
But it had been more than an instinctual thing. The Scepter of Iram didn’t react to the cat even as it raced towards him. Nick felt sure that if the cat had meant to harm him the Scepter now Gauntlet would have alerted him somehow would have done something in his defense. With a shrug he and his motley crew made their way to the open double doors.
Beyond the doors was a much more modest chamber that measured about twenty feet on a side with a ten foot ceiling. In the center of the chamber a round oaken table that had fourteen high backed wooden chairs around it. The chairs were identical and bore nothing to mark one from the other.
“Damn,” Nick cursed.
“What,” Lilith asked.
“I was hoping to see names etched on the chairs,” he admitted.
“Like,” she asked confused.
“Oh I don’t know Arthur, Gawain or even Lancelot.” Nick said disappointed.
“Don’t you think they knew where they sat do you think they needed a placard?” Lilith mused.
“Damn I didn’t think of that,” he admitted.
“This is where the ruling body of the island met for various issues. It was also used to council students in the ways of politics. Many that came here returned to rule areas of great import.” Lilith explained.
“It seems multitasking is a recurring theme here.” Nick noticed.
“Keeps space from being wasted or going unused.”
“Seems logical to me,” Nick said looking at the doors leading from the room.
“He lies beyond one of these doors,” Lilith admitted.
Nick felt his skin get goose bumps and knew the Eternal Master was close but which door to chose?
“Let’s see the building is orientated towards the cardinal points,” Nick was talking to himself. “But that’s not right because the Northern door is marked with the sign of air and that is supposed to mean East.”
“Much has changed in the Long Years since the school was first built,” Lilith shared.
“Well if that’s the case the symbolism on the doors means squat,” Nick cursed.
He looked around and walked to each closed door and laid his hand upon them and felt no change. After completing his circuit of the three possible exits he noticed the Shadowcat facing the Eastern door and sniffing the air. That was the door they had entered in he had discounted it as a possible choice but now he wasn’t so sure.
“It’s as good a shot as any,” Nick said opening the Eastern door and standing in the center of the main foyer was the Eternal Master.
“Hello Nick,” he greeted with a warm smile. “You are here at last.”
Casablanca Morocco: 2:12 p.m.
The Grand Mosque was surrounded by a sea of bodies; the faithful come for an answer for this terrible thing that had happened. Within the clerics prayed for a sign of why the believer and the unbeliever alike had been smitten by the wroth of God. Had they done something deserving divine retribution? However among those that had fallen silently had been a brother of one of the clerics and he knew that he was a god fearing man. He was an honorable man who would lie down his life for his god. It made no sense. His brother had killed many infidels in his time and was a warrior for Allah.
There were so many dead that it was ordered that the bodies be burned to keep the spread of disease to a minimum. It was not a popular order but a necessary one to save those still alive. Corpses by the truckload were prayed over then dumped in the mass funeral pyres that would burn long into the night and many nights that followed.
Rome Italy: 5:58 p.m.
St. Peter’s Square was a mass of bodies as the city became a focal point for Christians everywhere. The borders had to be closed to Vatican City and the Pope had to go live on television to tell the faithful to go to their local churches and pray or to pray in their homes. He sat alone feeling so very old and wondered why such terrible things must happen during his lifetime. The people were scared and they had every right to be. This plague that had struck had killed millions worldwide in a matter of hours! The geopolitical impact was devastating as people in power were struck down as likely as those who were poorest of the poor. The destabilization was spreading and would only get worse before it got better if it ever did. The panic inspired just seemed to escalate the death toll and many were trying to send messages that called for calm. The Pope pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes saying yet another silent prayer for guidance. Receiving no divine answer he opened his eyes and slowly stood. The council of cardinals would be waiting and he had to issue some sort of statement that could be spread and give some measure of hope.
P’yongyang North Korea: Midnight
The command center for the might of North Korea was in complete disarray. The bodies of the dead were being drug out and tossed into waiting garbage trucks for disposal and it was only getting worse. Every outpost containing military personal was in utter chaos and those few of the upper echelon were striving and failing to maintain any facsimile of command procedure. How could this have happened? The world seemed to have gone mad over the last few hours and no one was to blame. Was there some sort of divine punishment being reigned down upon them? Each and every order to attack resulted in more and more deaths. When commanders began refusing to give those orders and forced at gunpoint their superiors dropped dead of this invisible menace.
Once a lowly second lieutenant now promoted by simple attrition Yong Fang saw the pattern and decided to use it to his advantage. What normally would have been suicide in the past was now a means of gaining true power in this time of great change. He moved from the command center to the bunker where the elite were hold up and found the door propped open by the corpse of the former Grand General of the Army. He could still hear voices within barking out orders and smiled to himself. If his observation was correct he would soon take command in a bloodless coup. Well he would never have lifted a finger. Fang stepped over the body of his deceased competitor and strode into the room observing the scene. Three people remained alive and only one of them was a real threat to his plan so he would have to go first.
“Yong Fang isn’t it,” the Supreme Commander asked in his shaky voice.
“Yes,” he replied.
“What is the situation,” the son of the previous ruler asked looking around like a man clearly out of his depth.
“They are all dead, troops, middle echelon and upper echelon. They are all dead.” Fang reported.
“But I ordered a full scale attack of those Southern bastards hours ago.”
“Yes you did and they followed your orders and died,” Fang reported.
“Well they can’t all be dead,” he shrieked.
“No the smart ones went home to be with their families,” Fang said walking towards the Supreme Commander.
“What are you doing?”
“I am taking over; you have lived your life as a fool and you will die a fool.” Fang said walking closer still.
“NO!” the Supreme Commander cried out and pointing his customized pistol at Yong Fang and tried to pull the trigger but death reached out and snatched away his breath before he could do any harm.
The two remaining men dropped their weapons and bowed low to Yong Fang awaiting his orders.
“Inform the entire military to stand down and go home to their families. Well those that are still alive and when that order has been acknowledged you two will help me rebuild our once great nation.”
“Yes Sir,” they both said as they delegated the orders to what few remained of the army.
“And somebody get this carcass out of here before it begins to stink up the place.”
Outside the Grand Academy:
The two men sat on the top step of the Academy while Lilith sat leaning against one of the massive pillars observing the two men so different in appearance and yet so similar in bearing. The feared apex predator sat at Nick’s feet sleeping in the sun and amazingly the feathered serpent lay on Nick’s thigh also sunning itself.
“You have a lot of questions I imagine,” the Eternal Master said.
“That would be the understatement of the Millennia.” Nick replied.
“I guess why is at the top of your list,” the older man said.
“How about we start with your story; who the hell are you?” Nick asked his frustration showing.
“Hmmm,” the Eternal Master sat in silent contemplation before he began to speak. “My name is Moksha Jeherrum Khaine and I was born on a small island that now rests at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It was at sea level before the last great ice age and when the snow melted the island simply disappeared. I am a mutation in the ever evolving experiment of the Promethean. It was she who began tinkering with subhuman stock and nudged them along the evolutionary track you see today. She never expected her pets to actually achieve sentience but we did. She sure as hell never expected something like me to come out of the genetic soup.”
“What’s so special about you,” Nick asked.
“My quasi-immortal status I suppose. Most humans at that time lived around sixty years on average. I didn’t reach full maturity until I was almost twice that. So I received her undivided attention for a very long time. I did age just very slowly. She was trying to replicate me in the lab when she stumbled upon the Akhkharu strain. The first generation was utterly virulent they killed whatever life form they came into contact with. Her second attempt wasn’t much better but when she added my DNA to the mix they stabilized a bit. But there was an unexpected permutation the Akhkharu achieved sentience when they were mingled with my DNA. She learned this when just one of them managed to escape her lab and infect not only the human population but three Old Ones as well. To say the Promethean took some heat would be putting it mildly. They had to seal the three infected away for all time and well you know what happened when too many Akhkharu had multiplied. The Old Ones do not condone killing unless there is no other choice. It forced many of them to make amends to the human lands that were especially devastated.”
“So where do you enter the story?” Nick asked.
“Ah, due to my unique nature I was chosen to take over as Master of the Isle replacing the Old One who desired to see the outside world and help repair it.”
“So you are not the first that is interesting.”
“It was an exciting time for me. I was young and impressionable and foolish. I was handed the keys to an institution that had stood for millennia without a single blemish and within my first year the school was closed and I was a pariah.”
“Did you love her,” Nick asked.
“I don’t know even now I ask myself if I love her or just in lust. She was dying and the right thing to do was to put her out of her misery. But she was so beautiful and I was so damn young.”
“If you killed her you’d be forgiven isn’t that true?”
“Yes, if I were to go up to the pyramid and slay her I would be restored to my old title.
“If you are so unsure why not finish the threat she represents,” Nick asked.
“You haven’t seen her, haven’t heard her voice or known her as intimately as I have.”
“All that is true but some acts require great sacrifice, I know,” Nick said turning to face the Eternal Master. “Why did you do what you did to me? Was there some purpose or am I just some experiment?”
The bitterness in his voice was open and clearly evident in each and every syllable.
“Nick, everything I did was for a reason.”
“Good then tell me… why did you ruin my life?”
“Is that what you think I did,” the older man said his face losing all its color. “I tried to give you something special; but the greater the gift sometimes the greater the sacrifice.”
“Just tell me this, what was the endgame?” Nick said glaring at him.
“Nick I am tired I have been running things for so damn long… I was grooming you as my successor.”
Nick’s anger vanished as if it never had been and he looked at the older man and though his skin was healthy and young his eyes showed the uncounted centuries of his existence and their heavy burden.
“I didn’t know,” was all Nick could manage.
“I know you didn’t,” he replied with a sad smile. “But for what it’s worth you’ve done one hell of a job so far.”
“Perhaps we shall see after Project Aries wreaks its cost,” Nick muttered.
“But in the end there will be peace,” the Eternal Master offered.
“Eventually,” Nick murmured as they rose to their feet and began the long walk up the mountain towards the Black Pyramid.
Beijing: 4:03 a.m.
We have marshaled our forces and are ready to strike! The chaos that the world was experiencing was not going to take the Great Army of the People off guard. There were enough infantry alone to protect this great country or so they thought. They were not fighting an enemy they were fighting themselves. The alarms sounded, intruders were detected in Chinese airspace as well as radar lock on armored columns moving on Beijing itself! The orders were given… attack! Rockets and aircraft and marching men went off to die against silicon ghosts in the machine that appeared on their systems but existed only in the pulsing beat of the cybernetic heart of the Chinese War Machine. Men and women perished by the millions and attacked only phantoms their superiors swore were there. All over the nation warriors fought and died as Project Aries took its mortal toll from all people willing to raise a hand against their neighbor. Aries stopped hearts or caused aneurisms or simply shut down the nervous system. It was an equal opportunity assassin that had no remorse and in the end it was the people who did not fight that won the day. It took time for the survivors to believe there could be a lasting peace upon the earth at the cost of one simple freedom, was it worth the price?
Washington D.C.: Noon
The riots died off because the people waging them were dying in the streets. The rampant crime and violence was slowly but surely evaporating because the people too stupid to realize what was happening were dropping like flies. However the people who stayed home and huddled together felt the angel of death pass them by and knew that it was keeping perpetual watch and they were okay with that. Neighbors began to go out and help neighbors stack the bodies of the dead for cremation for suddenly the dead outnumbered the living. Churches and Synagogues and Mosques were filled to capacity as the people prayed together calling this the End of Days. But in truth it was the beginning, a new beginning. The President put off calling on martial law fearing it would insight more deaths and right then and there they could not afford any more losses, no nation could. So he called for the citizens and the police and the military, what was left of it, to work together to rebuild and fix what so long had been broken. With the fear of war now a memory the nations of the world could truly come together and work as a single people, a single race for in this new future there was no room for division.
Antwerp: 6:30 p.m.
The Ancient and Radiant Order of the Dragon was assembled en mass. The Nephilim council had not been called into full assembly since the Dark Ages. Black was the color of the day and Ulrich Ahriman looked dire in his demeanor and bitter in his countenance. He addressed the council…
“I don’t know how he did it but it is that brat Nikolas Shaw! He murdered my son and now… NOW… THIS!!!”
“Your son did have his mother killed,” spoke the venerable T’Sien Fu representing the House of Anu.
“By the Twelve if my son had killed his entire bloodline and pissed on their graves nothing warrants this atrocity that he has wrought!” Ulrich raged.
“It is because of him that we are divided as a people,” purred Lady Katya of the House of Ishtar.
“I do not deny my own daughter has become his concubine,” spat the Lord of Nanna Sin.
“You see he has us fighting ourselves,” Ulrich cried out. “We are a humbled people now. We cannot HUNT else we perish and if we do not FEED we will surely die.”
“Well put so what do we do?” Asked Lady Garbielle of the House of Tiamat.
“We offer him a peace,” purred the Lady Katya.
“Peace… PEACE!!! There can be no PEACE…” and Lord Ulrich nearly swooned as Aries raced in his system.
“Calm yourself Lord Ulrich,” Katya half moaned. “We offer him an out so that we can crucify him before the entire world.”
“You mean to tell the public about what he has done with no proof,” Ulrich scoffed.
“I never said anything about no proof did I? You should know me better than that old friend. He will give us all the proof we need I assure you.”
“And what if you fail,” he countered.
“Then we are no worse off than before now are we?”
“I suggest complete and utter surrender,” said a voice from the back.
“Who DARES,” roared Ulrich his face livid and eyes bright with pain.
“I do,” Akira Kusanagi said pulling down her hood of black.
“Akira,” her father cried out.
“Hello Father,” Akira replied coolly.
“You speak nothing short of treason,” Ulrich accused her.
“No, what I speak is the best course of action for our people.” She shot back unafraid.
“OUR PEOPLE, who are you to dare use those words when you ally yourself with our most dire foe?” Ulrich screeched.
“I am honor bound to serve the Shaw, and it is out of love and respect for my people that I am here today,” Akira replied still calm and cool. “You make yourself ill getting so upset Lord Ulrich.”
“He killed my son,” Ulrich screamed his hands shaking.
“Your son killed his mother,” Akira said raising an eyebrow. “We can throw accusations back and forth or we can come to an understanding.”
“Speak daughter of our blood,” the Lady Katya purred.
“The Shaw offers a treaty of nonaggression between humans and Nephilim with certain feeding rights that can be negotiated later. He does not want conflict or war believe it or not he wants peace.” Akira said with great conviction.