Diabolos Darkness [Abridged]

Aaron R. Ziegler

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

CHAPTER ONE

THE WYRM

The date according to the centralized Gardenia Utopian Community originating from Old Earth now known as Eden Prime is May 20th, 2755 CE. Post-Darkness, Post-Lawlessness, Post-Gardenia Utopian Community on Eden Prime the Homeworld of Gardenian Humankind. In an era where Eden Prime is stranded from interstellar intervention from the intergalactic Gardenia Utopian Community and the greater coalition of the Celestial Cosmic Coalition where Humanity resides stranded in their Post-apocalyptic homeworld. Where either anarchy ruled or dystopian governments enforced tyrannical law just to survive among the pockets of civilization against Lawless Psychopaths and Extradimensional Eldritch Obscene Horrors. This is an Eden Prime that has suffered a cataclysm in the dimensional rifts of its existence as the paradigm has been shifted where in this world terrorized by the extradimensional forces of Lawlessness and Darkness that has come with the nightmares from the darkest realities of the multiverse. Where everyday a Human must fight for their life in order to survive. Not a single day is without strife. The world is decaying. Humanity comprises four categories which have originated from the Human which evolved through the traditional perspective of natural evolution in the Homo Sapiens. Humanity has evolved to encompass one species of four subspecies. Homo Sapiens being the one which has branched out into three others, all of which can intersect into hybrids of the subspecies of Humanity. The Human born biologically natural which technologically evolved into a cyborg known as the Homo Nexus with 90% of all cybernetic advancements being subdermal. Humans with the all encompassing evolutionary advancement of their cognitive functions which some would argue is a spiritual evolution pertaining to the phenomenon of Humans having psychic and psionic powers in the species of Humans known as the Homo Esper. The Human not born of the womb but of a biotechnological or technological engineering and scientific endeavors which created the artificial general intelligence of above-average or genius androids who have emotions, thoughts, and free will as well as all the characteristics that would consider a being to have a right to their Humanity and personhood known as the Homo Synthetic. The Human who has biologically and spiritually evolved to use psychic / psionic abilities which they have powers such as telepathy, psychic empathy, telekinesis, elemental-based kinetic energy, precognition, divination, astral projection, scrying, and more supernatural phenomenon awaiting to awakened under the veil of the gloom of day and the darkness of night.

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The Shadow Society’s squadron of nine elite special operatives belonging to the Order categorized as the Shadow Knights leapt from the top of a decaying building through the circular aperture of a ruined skyscraper to the ledge of a decrepit high-rise condo, with a great dexterity, each one jumping from ledge to ledge till they reached their next landing spot, a top of an old office building. The skies over Eden Prime were dark and overcast as always, the dark grey shadow that made up the sky allowed light from the sun through but it is always like trying to shine light through a plastic trash bag. The Shadow Knights were lucky it is still day, the fiends that dwelled beneath the Eden Prime didn’t come out during the day, unless you hit the ground very hard and repetitively. The various unworldly fiends could hear the repetitive beats of footsteps during the day and could be lured out to cause havoc and destruction to the remainder of what used to be known as the Eastern Sprawl, this sector of the Eastern Sprawl is the New York Sector or what used to be known as New York City, Manhattan to be exact in the United Socialist States of America.

The Shadow Knights were able to jump hundreds of yards in the air, upward, downward, diagonally, from side to side, they were able to do this with a special exoskeleton rig known as a Spring Heel Jack. The Shadow Knights were renowned for this Spring Heel Jack exoskeleton armor and Superhuman aerodynamic rig. The Spring Heel Jack is a hydraulic powered exoskeleton armor that went from the soles of their feet, along their spinal cord all the way to the back of their neck, along the underside of their arms to the palms of their hands. This is worn underneath attire. Shadow Knights, the elite special operatives in the field. The Shadow Knights were able to jump hundreds of yards in the air, upward, downward, diagonally, from side to side, they were able to do this with a special exoskeleton rig known as a Spring Heel Jack. The Shadow Knights were renowned for this Spring Heel Jack exoskeleton rig. The Spring Heel Jack is a hydraulic powered exoskeleton spine that goes from the soles of their feet, along their spinal cord all the way to the back of their neck, along the underside of their arms to the palms of their hands. This is worn underneath a Shadow Knights attire.

The Shadow Knights bound through the heavens as the fabled Dragoons, leaping as wingless angels to the skies to do battle with Dragons. For Dragoons are knights who have mastered Dragon slaying. The fabled Guild of the Dragoons which the Shadow Knights are modeled after, for the Shadow Knights are Dragoons as the Dragon slayers of their phantasmic reality except they protect civilization, eradicate Lawless, and hunt the eldritch terrors which hunt them. The Shadow Knights achieve great leaps of faith that the Dragoons used for bounding to the heavens to slay the Dragon except for the Shadow Knights leaped forward into an abyss forever gazing into them, only to fight with monsters that would render their flesh and make them one with the monster in this Darkness enshrouded land of Lawlessness if the Shadow Knight did not slay these monsters first for survival is every darkened lawless day in the world of everlasting decay. The Shadow Knights relied on their Spring Heel Jack exoskeleton suit which relied on a computing system interface that regulated the exoskeleton. The steel dermal embedded cybernetic modification rested on the back of the neck. The computing system would read the user’s kinetic movements through electric pulses from the brainstem where a bio-cybernetic supercomputer has advanced the Human brain to an exponentially greater form of evolution in the cybernetic cerebral enhancement of the elite model known as the Quantum Autonomous Cerebral Computing Enhancement, (ACCE). The basic rudimentary model of this grayware cybernetic evolutionary advancement is the Universal ACCE.

Shadow Knights were the elite special operatives within the Shadow Society. The Shadow Knights were known for their utilization of Spring Heel Jack exoskeleton rigs which fit all along the user’s bodies from the cybernetic access where small magnetic interlocking plate to the suit at the base of the neck which plugged directly into their central nervous system which led to the Quantum ACCE. The exoskeleton is a mechanical spine that went from the back of the neck to the tips of the user’s toe, it has special shock absorbers which could lessen any fall or impact, the added utility of using a quickly changing multiple latching grappling hook improved the Spring Heel Jack exoskeletons suitability greatly as an essential part of transportation via the Spring Heel Jack rig.

The Shadow Knights wore the form-fitting, easily concealable and silent to operate exoskeleton suit of the Spring Heel Jack with the ordinary clothes of black cargo pants, black long or t-shirts shirts, and black socks. The special Shadow Knights field operative uniform involved Shadowstep Boots which were jet-black combat boots which never made a sound upon the terrain they traversed upon by foot as well as making the climb of a building with unparalleled speed and agility which made any terrain the same. The hooded shadow cloaks they wore had stealth technology consisting of fiber-optic mirrored technology which could reflect light off it making the cloak translucent rendering it’s wearer almost entirely invisible. Talons of Shadow were jet-black colored, form-fitting, thermal yet breathable material gloves which always kept the comfort of the hands, these gloves matched the Shadowstep boots in climbing with retractable Arcturian Vorpal steel blades at the fingertips as well as Arcturian Vorpal steel plates in the fingers and knuckles for unarmed fighting, the plates protection underneath them made from the material of all their attire, arachnoweave armor. Shadow Knights wore form-fitting, full-body, from neck to wrist to ankle, dark as the void, arachnoweave combat armor. The Arachnoweave body armor is ultra-lightweight, resistant to stabs, shrapnel, and pelts from projectile weapons. Arachnoweave full-body armor is weaved from the silk of enigmatic spiders from an extradimensional origin. These spiders belonged to a pandaemonic spider deity or Archon of Balance known as Anansi and his Astral Arachne. This is the official Shadow Knights Guild attire of the Shadow Society. The Shadow Society is the elite esoteric order that has divisions known as Shadow Society’s. The Shadow Knights are an organization or Shadow Society within the Shadow Society.

There were nine Shadow Society members including their two commanding officers, these Shadow Society members belonged to the Shadow Society known as the Shadow Knights within the larger Shadow Society. There were nine Shadow Society Shadow Knights members including their captain and counselor. Their captain, Shadow Templar-Captain James Booker and the Shadow Magi and Counselor, the enigmatic Zen van Nihil. James Booker is thirty year old man, wild crimson hair, all one length, his racial-ethnicity bore that of a Half-Elf of Solar Elf and Irish Human that were present in his elongated ears that came to a slight points as his eyes bore a primary golden amber coupled with jade green swirls looping from around the pupil color, he stood at six feet, three inches tall, he weighs 180 pounds. Zen van Nihil’s skin complexion is as pale as a ghost, he has a snow white skin complexion, what pre-Darkness medical books would call an albino from the exactness in skin pigment, he has radiant sapphire blue eyes and jet black hair which is styled into a pompadour, he stood at 6’0, and weighs 185lbs. From what is read from pre-Darkness history books when the world is a united one world government that spanned the solar system, Zen is a notoriously famous person, he is known as the Sovereign of Saturn but as the spiritual philosophy that prevailed in his spiritual socio-political revolution of Zenarchism in the universally accepted following of Zenarchists from the United Revolutionary Collective. In the antiquity of the Dharmic Theosophical spiritual philosophy, Zen van Nihil was celebrated as the Zen Archon Zeitgeist who asserted by his own volition a paradigm shift that caused a quantum flux of the Great Awakening or the Aeon of Enlightenment that among the stars outside Eden Prime thrives among the Utopian Community. However, on Eden Prime the evils of Lucifer Illuminatus from the nihilistic to eldritch cults of paganism dedicated to Chaos Archons and Eldritch Horrors imbued with the essence of extradimensional chaos energy. Zen van Nihil is well-over 450 to 550 years old but doesn’t look a day over twenty-seven. Everyone believed the remnants of documents found pertaining to him, the books, the data files found on old computers which had information concerning him. He is renowned for his psionic and psychic abilities, he would make things freeze, set them on fire, make things move, read people’s minds, see the history of places and objects by touching them, all with the power of his mind.

Zen van Nihil has explained to the Shadow Society records himself that unlike the race of Humanity known as the Homo Esper with such sensitivities among the Human race who have similar powers. The reason his powers were different being that they were significantly more powerful is because he isn’t completely Human, he isn’t a monster that dwelled within the Eden Prime either, he described to the people far and wide in his travels as one of the most elite Shadow Knights and Chaos Magi that he is the fusion of Human and a super-powerful alien that transcended the realms of the known to Humanity by observance as 4th Dimensional Space continuum that extended beyond all realms of the cosmos. What Zen clarified time innumerable between the revolution and event horizon of Darkness, was that Zen is of a sole species of Human from a hybrid of Hyperborean and an Eden Prime native Homo Ultra Esper. Zen van Nihil is of a ghostly albinistic skin tone, has jet black hair, and sapphire blue eyes. Zen van Nihil in his wanderings through dimensional Astral Sea to reside at meetings of the Saturnian dimensional plane where Zen van Nihil communed among the Great Architect that anointed these 12 chosen for the Council of the Great Commission that appointed Zen from once an Archon of Balance to the Sovereign of Saturnian Magistrate for the Great Architect is truly the supreme designer and master of the multiverse known as the Great Architect. The admiring yet curious common person who had no education outside of mastering the art of survival in this Post-Darkness hellscape of Eden Prime, when these survivors asked Zen about his immense powers.

Zen told them, “I am a man sent by the Divine to bring twilight to the shadows of the lands, from dawn until dusk and throughout the night I fight as the guardian of every good soul,” which rolled off Zen’s tongue in charismatic candor.

The Shadow Society as well as Post-Darkness survivors of Humanity on Eden Prime always felt safer with Zen around. The exception to this feeling of safety were those who belonged to the Lawless reavers, raiders, and savages who Zen hunted. Any Shadow Knight serving with Zen felt safer than the general military units and field operative guilds of the Shadow Society because Zen could slay an apical colossal monster of a region in single combat. Whereas, in a fight of a squadron of Shadow Knights operatives against the same colossal monster, the losses and casualties were greater in that situation.

The other seven members of the Shadow Knights squadron from greatest to lowest in rank with the Shadow Templar George Escalon, a thirty year old man, three months older than James, 6’4 in height, 210 pounds in weight. George has long jet-black curly locks of hair, the mane of a lion, and a well-groomed beard. George is a handsome blend of Caucasian and African-American descent. His muscular physique bulged from vigorous exercise. George is known for his pride and chivalry as a model of masculinity and a brother to all.

Shadow Paladin Eiko Sakura Musashi is a twenty-five year old, beautiful Asian-Ainu biracial woman in the North American sprawl. Standing at 5’5 in height, 125 pounds in weight. Comprised of an athletically built woman who is androgynous in the field but in civilian life she celebrated her physically enamoring feminine traits through mostly modest dress, pure raw intellect, wisdom that was beyond her years, all put together by the subtle application of makeup in a world where Lawless women and outer-settlements used cosmetic and synthetic beauty enhancement in opulent excess of the Utopian Community luxuries, she is of an androgynous psychological nature who revels in her assigned biological femininity while commanding admiration and respect despite her slightly deep and raspy voice. Eiko is known for her kindness, compassion, and empathic abilities.

Journeyman Knight Titus Sarkin, a young man in his late-twenties, blond hair in a French Crop, 6’0 in height, 220 pounds in weight, athletic and a honeyed Latin golden complexion in skin tone, he is regarded as an alert, attentive, analytical, highly-intuitive, and a reasonable man with a strong connection to point of guardianship of his fraternal younger twin sister Ramona Sarkin. Journeyman Knight Ramona Sarkin, a young woman who was 23 years old, she stood at 5’7 in height, 135 pounds in weight, she is incredibly attractive, muscular yet slender in appearance, she has a mutation of deep purple hair as well as an olive sepia complexion that was darker than her brother Titus. Titus is of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian ancestry while Ramona Sarkin is of half-Anglo-Saxon and half-Hispanic ancestry. Honor Knight Vanessa Harris, a young woman of twenty-one years of age, she stood at 5’4, she weighs 130 pounds, she has long black curly locks and tawny olive skin tone complexion of being from Hispanic and Caucasian ethnicity, dark brown eyes, thick lips, extremely beautiful, a secret admirer of Zen who sent him love letters, she covered her tracks to not be found out or Esper traced traced, she is always optimistic, always kind and level-headed, she would go far in her career in the Shadow Society. Neophyte Knight-Errant Johnny Johnston is a Caucasian man of twenty-four, well-groomed and stylish in appearance reflected outside of his occupation with its appearance on the job in his appealing blond hair, standing at 5’11, he weighs 185 pounds, he is known for his moody and reckless behavior, known for being a party boy in the Bohemia club scene, his addiction to the variant of stimulants in the Daemon Dark extremity didn’t help his emotional instability.

The Neophyte Knight Gary Hubbard is a twenty-one year old, he stood at 5’10, he weighs 175 pounds, he is a Caucasian male with a pretentious pseudo-intellectual bookish personality who only wishes to appear intelligent while not truly knowing anything or gaining wisdom from any experience. Gary spends his days off publicly reading popular works of fiction or philosophical novels of Celestialism which were preserved in large part from the collapse of the Utopian Community society. Gary felt his nonconformity to the Shadow Society is the best way to rebel against the thing he took the most pride in, publicly bragging about his fictitious exploits and how close he is to Zen. Gary is reassigned from the Keepers of Secrets Shadow Society of the Shadow Society for failing rudimentary tasks of being the division of the Shadow Society that dealt in the influence of the intellectual over the force of indomitable will present within the Shadow Knights in fighting Lawlessness and Darkness.

There were rival gangs of raiders who made use of the Primal Spring Heel Jack known as the Kangaroo King or Leapfrog exoskeleton technology but they did the best they could to erase them. The majority of people didn’t have access to Spring Heel Jack rigs but the tribe of Bohemia is overtly peaceful and held the modicum of civility so greatly that the members of the Shadow Society found it a safe haven to flourish with its citizens in even setting up a Militarized Police Force of the Shadow Society known as the Nightwatch to help the Bohemia City-State Army, Militias, and Guard their operations and wars with raider tribes were conducted mostly under anonymity and outside of Bohemia’s militia. Today, they were going to hit the large tribe of raiders known throughout Eden Prime as the Collectivized Lawless who were under a mass Pandaemonic Spell of the Supreme Lord Archon of Chaos, Lucifer Illuminatus for in these Soulless Husks of Humanity driven by Primal Psychopathy and Malignant Narcissism of the Lawless called themselves the Hell’s Kitchen Cannibals after their favorite meal and where they resided in New York City while the Shadows Knight were to make it look like another tribe of Lawless from New Jersey being the New Jersey Minions had attacked them, that is if they made it there and back by sunset. They saw one of their camps, the Lawless kept their hoarded Pre-Darkness Tech for the sake of bartering what they had no knowledge over. However, Nightwatch Shadow Society Intelligence had led a decent amount of scavenging for something as prized as Spring Heel Jack rigs which the Lawless held in one of the storage facilities. 

Zen scoped out the area from the sights of his Q-Antimatter Energy Rifle, he saw a bunch of vagabond Lawless sitting in front of a storage unit long forgotten, two Lawless with Kalashnikov AK-47’s stood in front of one unit making it blatantly obvious that it is where they had hidden their rigs. The Shadow Society members aimed their primary ranged weapon known as the Q-Antimatter Energy Rifle which deatomized a three foot circumference in structures but obliterated Lawless to dust. Energy Weapons were silent, stealthy, sophisticated, clean, quiet, with zero recoil despite how rapid one could fire. The Q-Antimatter Energy Rifle fired an Ultraviolet laser beam was a deatomizing energy which was superior to the Vega-Esher Energy Rifle which fired Infrared laser beam that caused extreme thermal heat while the Q-Antimatter Energy Rifle fired a Deatomotizing Ultraviolet compressed precision particle pulse of energy which always hit its mark as shown through the Holographic Sight with optional deployable Telescopic Sight attachment for sniping. Energy Weapons required either Magick for permanent effects or the science of crystalline hyperfusion batteries which both supplied an infinite source of power powered rifles which were the two crystal power supplies of the highest quality with exclusive attainability to the Shadow Society. Two .550 caliber silenced high-powered Gauss powered projectile handguns known as the Gardenia Nighthawk in holsters akimbo at both sides of their hips on a utility belt with a number of gadgets and gizmos. A shock baton which is an extendable steel baton which electricity encircled around the bone destroying bludgeoning force and muscle neutralizing weapon. Two Void Daggers forged from Arcturian vorpal steel were next to the holsters in sheathes which when drawn would glow with a red thermetic energy around the blade such as the Void Blade, and the primary melee weapon of a Shadow Knight. A Void Blade in an appropriate energy neutralizing alloy sheathe across their back is a Arcturian vorpal steel katana or longsword blade which is infused with the constant harnessing and flowing of glowing darkness of opalesque thermetic electromagnetic energy. The Void Blade and complimentary Void Dagger could slice through a ten-foot high, one-foot thick wall made of titanium alloy steel if it were immaterial.

The Lawless stood around oil drums burning Keroilian fuel for warmth. Zen motioned to James Booker to move the rest of the seven into position, the Lawless electromagnetic kinetic projectile weapons known as Gauss powered firearms which relied on a hammer and electromagnetic energy from magnets aligning the barrel. The Gauss rifles were not an assault variant but a hunting model manufactured by Autumn Industries Beast Killer 550. The weapons of the Lawless were no match for the weapons wielded by those of the Shadow Knights Guild of the greater Shadow Society. There may have been twenty-three of the Lawless with Gauss powered hunting rifles but there were nine Shadow Knights with Q-Antimatter pulse laser assault rifles at a distinct vantage point gathered around their campsite, the only fear the Shadow Knights have is the reverberations from their ancient projectile weapons and what monstrosities that may draw out from the ground.

James motioned to Zen to use his abilities to do what he did best. Zen snapped his fingers causing the two Keroilian oil drums to explode flames upward immolating several of the twenty-three in flames, they screamed in agony as the fire consumed and incinerated them. Eiko Sakura Musashi is the first to get a hit from an Energy Rifle, disintegrating one of them, the second is George. At this point, the Lawless took cover, drawing their hunting rifles, submachine guns, and handguns before firing at the places where they saw the luminescent particle beams had been fired from. Eiko and George took cover as James fired and confirmed two hits on direct opponents disintegrating them.

The number of Lawless has gone from twenty-three to fifteen in a matter of a few seconds, the Shadow Knights would need to act fast to not alarm more Lawless in the area or monstrosities from underneath. Zen leapt forward fifty yards by utilizing his Spring Heel Jack rig, he landed directly among the fray of the Lawless, lifting two of them with his inherent abilities of telekinesis, he ripped them limb from limb in a gallant show of force. They drew towards Zen who took cover behind an old rusted EisenHaus town car allowing Eiko and George to regain their firing position to continue shooting, the Lawless dwindled quickly into piles of ash, only clothed in leather armor they did not stand a chance. Eiko dove towards Zen for assistance to where the previously guarded garage is, the rest followed, James Booker is there third with his sidearm at the ready. Zen opened the garage door breaking its lock with his psionic abilities of telekinesis.

Inside they found six Spring Heel Jack rigs, an armament of projectile weapons, power cells for Chaos laser pulse assault rifles, and tons of canned goods. Vanessa, Victoria, Gary, Johnny and Titus began loading up duffel bags with the Spring Heel Jack rigs, power cells, and canned goods, leaving behind the unusable projectile weapons. They felt a tinge of a panic that they must act quickly for they felt slight vibrations in the area around them. James surveyed the four as they did this while Zen, George, and Eiko stood watch over the garage to make sure no other opposition came their way. They heard the dreadful moan of the unliving, what is better known as Grendelkin. These feral abominable beasts walked the surface world but were nothing compared to what thrived beneath the Eden Prime’s crust, the commotion must have alerted them for several hordes of Grendelkin from both sides of the corridors that is the aperture between the two rows of storage units of the facility appeared.

The attacking Grendelkin were all of the male gender, one would need to venture through the Global Metro Subway Station in hopes to find a nest or hive where the Grendelkin kept their women, their women has not yet been publicly documented besides a few elite researchers and scientists in the Shadow Guild of the Keepers of Secrets, the Intelligence Community of the Shadow Society. Grendelkin have large misshapen bull, goat, ram, or stag horns which sprout up from their head. The Grendelkin have the jowls of a hound with a more Human mouth, this mouth is filled with large tusks and fangs of sharp jagged teeth. The Grendelkin has large hooked ears providing them with the ability to hear for miles while this feature remained reminiscent of their prior elven form. The Grendelkin has solid yellow eyes which radiantly glow ominously. Grendelkin are covered in a jungle of disgustingly matted and crusted dreadlocked hair that covers their large scaled plates of natural armor. Grendelkin has large skeletal razor sharp claws extending their fingers and toes which they used for rendering flesh, their teeth for biting through bone. Grendelkin favors Humans for meals but are cannibalistic to their own. They are trapped in a state of paleolithic era of Humankind with only the most basic of instincts as their guiding force with Lawless and Darkness energies in complete control of them.

Zen, Eiko, and George began firing upon them. Zen used telekinesis to knock a good portion of them onto their backs for them to squirm back up and charge again. Johnny handed his bag to James his commander and charged out with his Q-Antimatter Energy Rifle drawn and began firing. The Grendelkin were closing in on them, there seemed to be no stopping to their onslaught. Zen created a wall of fire with pyrokinesis on both sides of them then shot tunnels of flames through the horde of Grendelkin on both sides burning to a crisp. James led Titus, Vanessa, and Victoria into a leap of faith to a towering apartment complex roof. Eiko and Zen followed suit to the towering apartments, Johnny tried to leap but his leg was grabbed by Grendel, ripping it off from its joint, from exertion Johnny flew head first into the top of the storage garage roof, almost clearing it for him to go tumbling back down to the ground.

Victoria screamed, “No! Johnny! Johnny! No!”

As her lover is ripped to pieces by the Grendelkin, Johnny’s screams matched that of the Wilhelm scream as the Grendelkin cannibalized him, Johnny is ripped to pieces in seconds, eating around the Spring Heel Jack rig as if it were a steel chicken bone but breaking his actual bones and sucking the marrow from them. Victoria screamed and pleaded with James, James Booker saw no point in saving a dead man but his rig is still valuable. Zen charged back throwing balls of incendiary energy at the gathering horde that surrounded the pieces of Johnny’s corpse burning dozens upon dozens of them as he soared, he drew his Energy Rifle taking out the ones directly around Johnny’s corpse. Zen landed, standing over Johnny’s remains, he pried off the Spring Heel Jack rig and grabbed the Energy Rifle. George has also leapt and is standing on top of the row of storage units providing immediate covering fire for Zen as he recovered the valuables before both leapt back to where their team was standing.

Victoria is in hysterics, she is pleading with James to recover his remains to which James’ answer is, “What remains?”

Zen walked over to Vanessa placing the Energy Rifle, cloak of shadows, and Spring Heel Jack rig in her duffel bag which contained two other Spring Heel Jack rigs. Zen holstered the .550 caliber sidearm at an open gun holster at his side. Victoria’s bag carried two Spring Heel Jack rigs and an immense amount of canned goods, Titus’ bag carried two rigs as well as battery packs for their Reapers of Pride pulse rifles, Gary’s carried two Spring Heel Jack rigs and a mixture of weapons, canned goods, and battery cells. They heard a rumbling in the distance as a monster is emerging from the subterranean nether reaches of the Eden Prime.

“Go, now!” James commanded grimly to the remaining six squad members who with the exception of Zen and Eiko may have been reeling from the gore and horror of the death of their two fellow Shadow Knights.

Zen has already begun his leap away from the epicenter of the quake as a monster is emerging from the depths of the land below. The seven followed, first James, then Eiko, Gary, Vanessa. Victoria is still in hysterics being consoled by her brother Titus and her friend who is like a father figure, the good old George Escalon. She regained herself and the three followed behind at a hundred yard distance.

Zen has already begun his leap away from the epicenter of the quake as a monster is emerging from the depths of the land below. The seven followed, first James, then Eiko, Gary, Vanessa. Victoria is still in hysterics being consoled by her brother Titus and her friend who is like a father figure, the good old George Escalon. She regained herself and the three followed behind at a hundred yard distance. Zen looked off to see in the distance a monstrosity unlike any he has seen before, it is a Wyrm, a 2,500 yard long Dragon without limbs, despite its inferior protrusions one could call legs that it propped itself up on, it has decided in its wretched existence to rile about as a serpent but has wings so it could also fly, large barbs protruded from around its head. It is crashing through the streets towards the Shadow Knights that were quickly upon the move. Zen is leading the way, Zen is leading them to the Hell Gate Bridge near Lawless country in Hell’s Kitchen, Zen thought that maybe the Lawless could handle the Wyrm while they made their escape back to Bohemia. They were leading it away from the outskirts of Brooklyn towards Manhattan, away from Bohemia located in the former Queens Borough in the Eastern Sprawl of the New York city Sector. The Wyrm slowed as it stopped to fight with Lawless and Grendelkin alike. The Shadow Knights saw many Lawless settlements being destroyed and this pleased them, the real target is the Lawless capitol in Hades formerly Hell’s Kitchen, New York.

They were atop a roof of a high-rise building, firing their Chaos laser pulse assault rifles at it to garner its attention. The Wyrm’s hide is too thick for the mere projectile weapons from the hordes of Lawless it devoured in its wake of destruction, their bullets left dents in its scaled hide, the Chaos burned its flesh leaving singed off scales to its softer underbelly which caused it great pain. James Booker directed those with duffel bags of loot to activate their stealth cloaks and make their way for Bohemia to leave Zen, Eiko, George, and himself to deal with the Wyrm. Hordes of Grendelkin have climbed upon the green-scaled Wyrm, slashing and slicing at it, the Wyrm rolled around in pain smashing the Grendelkin like bugs.

Finally, the Wyrm is unfettered as the Shadow Knights could direct it back on its way to the Lawless capitol via blasts from their Chaos laser pulse assault rifles. The beams shot with imperceptible accuracy because the scopes on the Chaos laser pulse assault rifles showed precisely what target was going to be nailed. The Wyrm charged back towards the four remaining Shadow Knights, without their Shadow Cloaks stealth ability they leapt through the night leading the Wyrm to Manhattan to do damage, firing from their Chaos rifles to get the attention of the Wyrm. Finally they were entering Lawless country, the Lawless were already set for the attack. The four Shadow Knights hid on the pinnacle of the Hell’s Gate Bridge, they then activated their Cloaks of Shadows to hide at the top while heavy armored Lawless in power armor, armed with bazookas fired upon the Wyrm, there is even a giant mechanized suit known as a Mecha carrying a giant chain-gun firing at the Wyrm. Six out of ten missiles hit the Wyrm doing damage and irritating it greatly, the chain-gun rounds pelted the Wyrm, with a mighty flap of its wings the Wyrm lunged across the river into the Lawless wearing power armor and the heavy Mecha destroyed them instantly. The Shadow Knights were glad they had taken out that Lawless tech because according to Bohemia militia intelligence it is going to be used in a raid against their city. More Lawless, most in insignificant Kevlar Vests and disrepair power armor stood up to the Wyrm with projectile weapons firing upon it. The citizens of Hades could be heard screaming as the Wyrm breathed fire upon them incinerating thousands, setting old tenement buildings, houses, high-rise apartment complexes ablaze. The Shadow Knights watched in horror as men, women, and children were being decimated by the Wyrm. James sighed deeply at what was happening, Zen watched with a meditative understanding, George nodded his head in approval and disapproval, Eiko Sakura Musashi covered her mouth and wept silently.

The four Shadow Knights understood that the Lawless were their enemies. After all, the Lawless were raiders, rapists, murderers, pillagers, a large tribe that took up an entire borough, their men and women are ruthless bloodthirsty psychopathic beings, their children would grow up to be the same. After the ensuing carnage as the Lawless population has been eradicated, the Lawless no longer exist as a tribe of people but as a painful and tormented memory. Whether it is Zen or a natural occurrence, a downpour of rain began putting out the flames to save the rest of the borough from burning to the ground. The Wyrm rested bloodied, too weakened by the slaughtering of the tens of thousands in the battle that has ensued. Knowing now that the Tribe that encompassed Bohemia, known as the Bohemians, is safe from the vast population of Lawless, the four rested easily for a moment, watching the Wyrm. The supplies have definitely made it back to one of the several Guild houses in Bohemia. There is perhaps only one thing left possibly to do. Slay the Wyrm.

Zen has his arm around Eiko Sakura Musashi, her head resting on his shoulder as she wept into the cusp of his neck. James and George saw that Zen is handling his primary function as a physician, this case being psychological counseling. Eiko is a Journeyman of the Shadow Knights Guild of the Shadow Society but they have never done anything like this. They were responsible for wiping out an entire society of people, despite these people being their rivals, their rivals being savage monsters as evil as the Grendelkin, it didn’t matter. Eiko has empathy and Zen felt it is his fault for her trauma she has just witnessed. James is reasoning with George on whether or not to kill the Wyrm before it somehow regenerated which could take hours or days then it would borrow back into the vast network of subterranean tunnels that was once the global spanning high-speed subway system known as the Global Transit System which is how most of the monsters traveled from the netherworld beneath Eden Prime. There has once been bullet-trains which could take someone across the entire world, from continent to continent, from city to city, across oceans. James found he could not reason with George Escalon for George is set in his hubris to slay the Wyrm.

The twenty-five-hundred yard long Wyrm with curved razor sharp horns protruding from its head, large reptilian draconic wings from its upper portion of its serpentine body, and large green scales that encompassed it, rested. Its long forked tongue going in and out of its massive fanged mouth, one of its orange snakelike eyes missing from its head from the battle. The Wyrm was covered by multiple bloodied wounds encompassing its body. The Wyrm is grievously wounded, a black pool of its own blood oozed from around it. That black ooze that was a foot deep and has become a standing pool for the hundreds of the Lawless mangled deceased bodies which were saturated in its blood. The Wyrm is not going anywhere anytime soon.

“George don’t, I’m giving you a direct order to stop.” James Booker screamed at George.

George ignored him as he leaped with all of his might as he activated his stealth shadow cloak. Q-Antimatter Energy Rifle and Void energy sword drawn, he is ready for battle. Eiko has stopped crying, still cradled in Zen’s arms but still softly sobbing.

She whimpered behind tears for solace, “That damned fool.”

They watched as George leaped from structure to structure to reach his designated target, the Wyrm. George fired his Energy Rifle hitting the Wyrm in its protruding tongue cutting it off from its vestige, eliminating its sense of smell. The Wyrm instantly lunged upward, towering above the refuse which surrounded it. George leaped with his energy blade ready to strike, he sliced through the side of the Wyrm releasing a spray of black ooze that is its blood. The Wyrm turned toward George breathing out a large projection of incendiary fire catching George Escalon’s cloak ablaze, George landed with a roll on top of a building putting out the flame before rising again, The Wyrm lunged at him crashing into the building he was upon. George leaped backward to a lower tenement building firing a shot into its visage nearly missing its one good eye. The Wyrm kept coming, George kept up the fight valiantly while jumping backwards hundreds of yards at a time, looking behind him to make sure he was going to hit his target destination safely. The Wyrm is directly in front of George. George held firmly onto his Void energy blade and dug into its head. The blade went directly into its brain as the two crashed through buildings. The Wyrm rolled smashing George through structure after structure until it finally came to a stop.

The three now standing on top of the Hell’s Gate Bridge watched in horror as their friend may be dead. Zen has a sullen look upon his face as he is the first to leap towards the end of the calamities position, James and Eiko come soon after. They came upon the Wyrm, lifeless, not moving, the Wyrm was slain. They walked up along the side of the remains of the Wyrm to see if George had somehow survived. They came to its head where they found George in a bloody mess of smashed gory pieces. Pieces of George’s Spring Heel Jack rig still attached to the dismembered parts of his body. The energy sword is placed directly into the depths of the monstrosity’s brain. James walked up and pulled on the energy blade hard enough until it finally gave way spraying black ooze with large chunks of brain matter flopping out of its head. Finding George’s still intact titanium sheath upon his torso with a destroyed utility belt. The cloak and the rig were destroyed beyond supposed speculation or repair. James sheathed the blade, dispatching an adult sized body bag from a pocket sized metallic storage unit that is simply a small cartridge on his belt utility belt. They began to gather up George’s pieces and things then throw them in the body bag with the Spring Heel Jack Rig still intact to his heroic limbs.

CHAPTER TWO

BOHEMIA

A sixty foot high steel wall surrounded the city, a mixture of steel and concrete surrounded the innermost part of the city, outside that wall is a forty foot tall electric chain link fence with barbed wire that topped it. Guard towers were located within eye distance on the perimeter on the inside concrete and steel fence with snipers positioned there. The city gates were made of sliding reinforced barn doors where the only opening in the electric fence is made accessible, this area is heavily guarded.

When they went to Bohemia, Bohemian Polis city-state militiamen let them through. They knew who the Shadow Society especially the elite militarized special operatives of the Shadow Knights and Chaos Magi for the Shadow Society Security and Support Forces of the Nightwatch who were the paramilitary organization acted in the same authority of the Bohemia Militia and Police Forces. The Nightwatch wore Black Medium Power Armor and were equipped with bionics by the Shadow Society as a universal force in every Polis or City-State the Shadow Society operated in throughout the Galactic Civilizations of the Gardenia Utopian Community and United Cosmic Federation for among them  were three high-ranking city officials before in their eyes. The special forces of the Bohemian Polis city-state except the Shadow Society is an intergalactic organization among the intergalactic Utopian Community which left them on Humanity’s homeworld of Eden Prime to their own devices, their own accord, anything done here was of their own. As an honor from battle, unfettered by enemies, the leader would have to carry the remains of the fallen, the fallen being George Escalon. Johnny didn’t get his honor of having his body buried for his body has been completely devoured by Grendel, still a Shadow Society memorial service at a Guild hall would be held in both their honors, their funerals would be to whatever Post-apocalyptic philosophy or religion they belonged to where their family and friends could attend as well, The tribes people of Bohemia acted as a family in order to survive so the vast majority of the public would pay their respects at their funerals.

Journeymen Titus and Ramona Sarkin, the siblings, have reported Johnny’s death to the Morgue, as well as his cause of death, cannibalized by Grendelkin when he misjudged his Spring Heel Jack rigs course of action, a humiliating way to go. Victoria and Johnny had been lovers, they were engaged to be married and when they got back from their mission with the Shadow Knights of the Shadow Society, they were going to pick out flowers for the wedding, those flowers would have been blue-eyed Marys and Blazing Asters.

This Shadow Society Master Guild Hall they were visiting in particular is the place of the old Kaufman Astoria Studios building. An elegant and regal place they have set-up shop. Its large studio rooms have been renovated into a mess hall, a lounge, an armory, a laboratory or garage for research and development, a gym and training center, a library, and bunk hall. The three found this out when they entered the Shadow Society Lodge and Victoria is still in hysterics, pounding on James’s chest, pleading to the reason why Johnny has to die in order to retrieve some tech from the Lawless.

“Why James? Why? Damn you James! Damn you!” She sobbed at him, her breath was at a loss, she didn’t know how to handle the loss of her sweetheart and best friend since Childhood.

Titus pulled her off of him and took her over to a couple of chairs in the lobby where they could sit, her brother Titus comforted her, holding her in his arms as she bawled. James has sent Journeyman Trey with three initiates to the morgue with pieces of George’s body after instructing them to pry the broken remnants of the Spring Heel Jack rig off his shattered remains with the rest of his gear to see if it could be repaired or salvaged. Which it could, it would just take time.

James felt at a loss, George has been his comrade since they have migrated here from the Boston sector to start their own guild of now all functioning aspects of the Shadow Guilds as it began to flourish like the Shadow Society in the Boston sector of the Eastern Sprawl, it is just beyond his own grief to even accept that George is dead. George has done thousands of missions, he has taken out a few monsters in his day but to think one that is already practically dead is the one that killed him was beyond him. James’s face is downcast at today’s losses.

Zen patted James on the back to get his attention, “Are you alright my friend?”

“Yeah Zen, I… I guess I’m okay.”

“Are you really my friend?”

“No, I’m going to probably head to my home and think about my loss,”

“Don’t you mean our loss?”

James has known George since they were kids when their parents were members of the Shadow Society, Zen has been in the Shadow Society since its origins which is a mighty long time ago. Zen is an old soul, he is more of a myth than a man, rumored to be anywhere from five-hundred to six-hundred-fifty years old but did not look a day over twenty-seven, by most accounts, Zen is both as intimidating as he is friendly, despite his skin tone being paler than an albino, he is considered a remarkably handsome man, many women of Bohemia and even the females belonging to the Shadow Society has had the pleasure of having him yet he has no known offspring.

James considered having the heart and soul of the Shadow Society over for company, maybe inviting Eiko, the three of them could mourn the loss of George Escalon together. Maybe have some drinks of moonshiners whiskey or that good absinthe Zen always seemed to have, they could reminisce about the now legendary hero that is the 28th degree Shadow Knight in the Guild of Shadows, George Escalon. Maybe James could get Zen drunk enough to tell him his true age or find out Zen’s degree or just more about the life of a good friend that has been on every mission with him who has little to say but sage advice and strategic battle plans which when he came up with an alternative means of strategy worked out better than the squad leader James’ plan.

“Zen, Mr. van Nihil, would you mind coming over and bringing some of that good absinthe to match my moonshiners whiskey for good company and drink, I might need a good friend and comrade-in-arms to help me through my grieving process, George and I have been friends since we were milk drinkers.”

“Hahahaha,” Zen laughed, “Mr. van Nihil is my father’s name, I’m Zen van Nihil, it’s more of a title than a surname but yes, I’d be more than happy to come with you, do you mind if Journeyman Eiko Sakura Musashi comes with as well, she is still shaken by seeing the death of children and all the carnage that happened today.”

Zen is that type of good guy or good alien-Human or Outsider kinda guy who was born on Eden Prime who happened to just care about his friends more than he cared about the missions, something he is adamantly passionate about, the amount of love this once known as the Zenarchism Maitreya is ridiculous as something I originally experienced in my early adulthood years after spending my first 13 years of childhood and adolescence in some Community Underground Military Base for cultivating my powers as a weapon unmatched by anything, James felt more than happy to oblige his request.

“Certainly Zen but only Journeyman Eiko, she is also a loyal comrade to the Guild of Shadows as well as a vital asset to our team,” James grinned, feeling better than he has before.

“Thanks James, she’s talking to Shadow Society’s Regional Guild Overseer, Templar-Director Justice Constantine in the Lounge about today’s events, the two of you are being promoted.” Zen said earnestly.

“The two of us? Why don’t you?” James interjected.

“Director Justice cannot promote me, no one can.”

“Why’s that?”

“Are you inquiring about my rank?” Zen asked in a way that warranted if he wanted to beg that question.

“Yes, yes I do.”

“In the Sovereign of the Shadow Society, I am a thirty-three degree Master of Monarchs, I am the Sovereign, the master and monarch above the Four Noble Lords of the Shadow Society and its Guilds, I am the highest authority, above the Four Noble Lords, I am the Sovereign of Shadows.”

James is taken back, James is a 26th degree Shadow Templar, now promoted to 27th degree Shadow Templar-Commander. Justice Constantine is a 30th degree which is where 99% of Shadow Society members peaked where they would be assigned to prestigious classified missions or become Regional Guild Overseer of all the Shadow Society’s Guilds within an area. It could be decades before James Booker reached that but for the Sovereign of the Shadow Society to undertake his missions as his second-in-command in Zen van Nihil while being obedient to James in their own missions as Zen operated under James respectfully was the greatest shock and honor anyone who belonged to any Shadow Guild of the Shadow Society could receive. The Honor that has been kept secret until now. Zen’s rank has been speculated at a 27th degree at most but to have the Sovereign follow orders humbly under a mere Templar-Commander is beyond comprehension.

“Zen, I ummm, I am, uhhh,” James fumbled over his words from the mere shock of the information that has just been shared.

“Honored? I am equally as honored as my brother to serve with you.”

James got done on a knee and grabbed Zen’s hand, he whispered, “I swear my fealty to you Master of Monarchs, Sovereign of Shadows, Zen van Nihil.”

Although none has overheard their conversation in the lobby, Zen pulled him to his feet.

“Please James, I do not appreciate the praise that comes with the title, it is something I was elected to be from its inception, I used to lead the organization more openly but now I do it by means of humility.”

James arose to his feet, regaining himself.

“I apologize Zen.”

“No apologies necessary friend, let me go fetch Eiko and we will be off to your home for a drink and talk of the greatness that is the Knight Regent George Escalon.”

Zen hurried off leaving James in the lobby. Initiate Gary Hubbard rushed over to James, a look of excitement upon his face.

“Templar-Commander Booker, I’ve been promoted from Neophyte Knight to Knight-Errant, I hear you are having drinks with Zen and Eiko at your abode, may I please join?” He inquired hastily.

“No, this is for those who were close friends of the late Knight Regent-Commander George Escalon, no Knight-Errant’s allowed, and certainly no one who didn’t know Sir George Escalon personally,” James thundered.

Rage is building up inside James, he felt the need to hit the puny Hubbard for his insolence. James’s rage subsided as Hubbard fled in fear as Zen is returning with Eiko, they had already gone to their lockers to retrieve their street attire to join James at his home. Zen wore black cargo pants, short black sleeved shirt, black dress boots, and Buddhist worry beads around his neck. Eiko wore what she wore before the mission, a purple sundress with black plimsolls for shoes. They both carried duffel bags which had their Shadow Society equipment in them. Being their rank, they have their own personal gear which they could take with them, all ranks below twenty have to return everything to the armory and quartermaster. James would change out of his gear when they returned to his estate.

“You ready?” Zen asked.

“Yes,” James answered.

They walked outside the Guild Lodge into the street where people roamed about, Grendelkin moved through the streets, there were some cars and motorcycles but most everything was drawn by horse and buggy. Zen hailed a taxi, that being horse and carriage, they climbed inside and headed off. They looked out the windows at the furnished well-kept Eastern Sprawl New York sector which used to be Queens. Zen and Eiko chatted about her love interest which is an upstanding council member of Bohemia named Tristan Sheers, a predominant member of the Bohemian polis city-state, Zen commented on how he would like to meet him. James listened to them chat but kept having intense memories or flashbacks of his fallen friend George Escalon, it seemed it was only yesterday they were jumping on the cushions of George’s family home pretending they were Shadow Knights like their father’s wearing Spring Heel Jack rigs. One time they were doing this and James fell, hitting his head on the coffee table. George scooped up his injured friend, rubbing his head and holding him while James cried in pain, it has left a small scar which he still has there to this day on the far right portion of his hairline.

Zen noticed James’s forlorn attitude and switched the conversation by asking him, “What’s on your mind James?”

“Zen if you can really read minds, you should already know.”

Zen’s demeanor changed for a second before asking, “George is a good man who took out the apex predator of the Manhattan area of monsters, we will not need to worry about another one of those beasts moving in for several months and the Lawless have been decimated or all have been scattered. We will be sending Bohemian soldiers into that area with construction workers to expand our territory, I don’t know what we’re going to do about that Wyrm’s body, the Grendelkin have probably already picked it clean as well as the bodies of the Lawless, what we need to worry about is the upcoming Grendelkin infestation that might follow that area with the amount of sustenance the Grendelkin now have, we will need to see if our allies in the Ravens tribe will need our help in fighting off the Grendelkin infestation that will soon migrate to their small tribe now that the Lawless tribe has fallen.”

“True Zen, we will need to run extra missions in those areas to secure them and our alliance with the Ravens.”

The carriage stopped as they arrived at James’ place of residence. Eiko and Zen grabbed their duffel bags and hopped out, James followed, they stood in front of James’ magnificent manor, refurbished from before the Abominations began appearing and the fall of civilization. James jumped fifty feet in the air over the gate grabbing his spare key to unlock the massive gate to his manor from the other-side, only accessible by a Spring Heel Jack rig for the fence is just as high as the gate he has just jumped, he opened the gate and Zen van Nihil and Eiko Sakura Musashi entered as he closed the gate behind them, working the chain around the two focal points then locking it with a padlock, he slid some sliding locks sealing the two together. James Booker was fluid with this motion. The three walked to the front door which is a large oak door with a small window at the top, James unlocked this door with the same fluidity. They entered the manor’s foyer, James closed the door behind them then locking it. At the foyer, a wide set of wooden stairs could be seen, if you turned through the doorway on the right you would be taken to the office area then through there would be the kitchen, to the left of the kitchen is the dining room which has large floor to ceiling windows that peered out to the backyard which is a spacious overgrown garden with an old mason built brick wall that spanned the back of the property. To the left of the dining room made up the entire other side of the house which is a living room. Zen has been here enough to know where everything is, he moved straight past the stairs to the second floor to the dining room, then the kitchen. Once there, Zen opened his duffel bag, pulled out the bottles of absinthe with wormwood extract putting them in the freezer, He pulled out a plastic baggie of sugar cubes, putting them in the fridge. Eiko didn’t know where everything is since it has been so long since she has been there, the first and last time she has been here is when she is merely an initiate, now a journeyman-master ranked Shadow Paladin who has matured and grown greatly passing the former-self she is in her initiate prospect to the novice ranks through the apprentice ranks then from the apprentice ranks to the Journeyman to journeyman-master ranks. 

She went through the doorway to the living room, sitting down on the couch. James followed her. James opened his fireplace, placing three logs in a triangular fashion, he stuffed the open portion on the bottom with kindling, then dosed it in kerosene then lighting the kindling with a lighter, closing the fireplace doors and opening the smoke passage to the chimney by twisting a knob. Zen is getting three glasses ready with ice from the freezer.

Eiko sprawled herself out on the couch, she is of native Ainu descent and Japanese descent, her hair in a ponytail, esprit-tech aviator sunglasses could sort data on motion, heat, enemy tracking, all at optimal times of combats, she held a cigarette in her mouth, she is athletic built in standard Shadow Society uniforms while appearing as an androgynous hardened special operative while on missions concerning Lawless population control but despite her tomboyish appearance is an extremely attractive feminine woman despite her voice deep and raspy as an elite among them in skill, off missions she is known as one of the most sociable friendly and empathic people one could meet. James contemplated her to his just turning thirty, feeling old he then contemplated Zen’s hundreds of years in-age lifespan without the man appearing to be over the age of his mid-twenties but is wise according to his enigmatic years while retaining his youthful spirit. James is finished with the fire when Zen walked in the room with three glasses of absinthe, he has cooked the sugar cube and dumped them into the glasses changing its color from a green liquor to a clear opaque drink, he has done this through the use of telekinesis and pyrokinesis while at the sink.

Zen handed them each a drink, drinking deeply from the tumbler he has poured himself. James and Eiko both nursed their absinthe then took a deep drink as Zen took an even deeper drink finishing his beverage, returning to the kitchen to make himself another glass.

James called after him, “Zen, how did you get a hold of Absinthe with wormwood, I read from clippings that it is made unavailable with wormwood long before the war, long before the fall of Eden Prime’s civilization when the monsters began showing up.”

Zen returned almost immediately.

“That’s because I brew it myself,” Zen replied.

“How do you do that?” Eiko asked.

“With the utmost care and from a recipe I found in the archives of the Shadow Society with my own little twist to make it my own special absinthe, you can’t find real absinthe outside of me,” Zen said matter-of-factually.

“Zen, how old are you exactly?” James asked.

“My natural body is six-hundred and fifty-five years old and am expected to live till time shall end and the universe is no more,” Zen responded soberly.

“What is it like before the monsters showed up?” Eiko implored of him.

“Well it is a turbulent time with the Reptilian occupation through the means of a deceptive shadow government that influenced the empire that is the Community Eden Prime and it’s interstellar civilization, our planet as well as many other worlds in our solar system were all under a united interstellar civilization of Humanity, after the outside reptilian alien occupation, the Utopian Community of Eden Prime became the Community of Humanity then simply known as the Utopian Community, a faction of the utopian civilization of the Celestial Cosmic Coalition which the Utopian Community of our species now spans the universe,” Zen took a drink before continuing, “The long since dead, intersolar civilization of the Utopian Community of Eden Prime is once a proud union that spanned from Eden Prime to Mars and Venus, which were known as the inner-planets. the outer-satellites which Humans has colonized were the moons of Jupiter: Europa, Io, Ganymede, Callisto, as well as the moons of Saturn: Titan, Enceladus, Tethys, Mimas, Dione, and Iapetus. I know that is when I was very young but two-hundred years later, the Utopian Community has joined the Celestial Cosmic Coalition to span the universe yet still colonizes everything in our own solar system while isolating Eden Prime in its current state.”

Zen has made mention at Shadow Society bonfires and other campfire stories about life on other worlds and how Eden Prime has been left alone thanks to the abominations and monsters which inhabited the planet.

“Zen do you think we’ll ever get off this cursed rock and explore the solar system?” Eiko asked.

“It’s possible, ships from Mars and Venus make trips to our atmosphere to observe the world below, those observation missions are risky considering the fact that there are flying monsters and the Utopian Community is still aware that Humans still live on this planet, they just think that it would be hard to acclimate us to their advanced society, we are considered to be highly barbaric in their eyes.”

They all drank their drinks deeply, James and Eiko finished their first drink, Zen his second. Zen took the glasses by having them float through the air from James’ hand and Eiko’s has been placed on the coffee table. He disappeared back into the kitchen to make another drink for them. He returned with the clear opaque liquid that is once the neon emerald green liquor. James has sat down in his reclining chair, Zen sat next to Eiko on the couch, Zen placed the Absinthe on the coffee table, near them respectively. They all picked up their drinks.

“To good friends and the hope that we will someday make it off this rock,” Eiko said, raising her drink to start a cheer.

“To the many battles we fight and may we be forever victorious,” James clinked his glass.

“To health and prosperity,” Zen said soberly.

Their glasses clinked and they drank deeper than before.

A weird absinthe induced trip started, they drank to keep themselves in this lucid surrealism. Zen seemed to open up about himself telling stories of who he is, how he is raised by Buddhist monks, how he earned his name, how he started a revolution, how an interplanetary war between Mars and Eden Prime took place, all of his deeds before the abominations and monstrosities.

“When did the abominations and monsters show up?”

“In the year 2540 Common Era, there is a quantum physicist who built a gate to another world, this quantum physicist is named Doctor Dexter Mortem, a confidant I once trusted but in-turn is actually an agent of an Archon known as Doctor Azazel Apocalypse, once known as the humble and skittishly shy man of great oddity without self-confidence emboldening him as a non-eccentric cowardly bookish man once known as Doctor Dexter Mortem but in truth was always the mad scientist of doom known as Doctor Azazel Apocalypse, an Archon of Chaos who was death, the destroyer of worlds for his madness in modus operandi is to bring overwhelming Chaos dimensional essence to those of Balance or Order. Doctor Azazel Apocalypse gathered his mad scientists chosen for their destruction of all in embracing nihilism in essence of existential ethics. Together, Doctor Azazel Apocalypse led these martyrs to oblivion in their unauthorized opening of the most enigmatically destroying Pandora’s Box or dimensional door that changed Eden Prime. Darkness as its relativistic area of effect for the Pandora’s Box 127 of many enigmas to dimensional realms discovered by the Utopian Community was stored on Eden Prime never to be opened for its highest level of volatile energy to be shipped to the farther reaches of the intergalactic Utopian Community reaches for storage. Doctor Dexter to merge with the Archon he became a twisted monstrosity since he infused himself with the Archon known as Thanatos through chimeric genetic mutation making him a Outsider-Human hybrid such as myself but to a much lesser degree, I wounded the newly made Doctor Dexter Apocalypse as he is fused with the Archon known as Thanatos but not before he sealed himself into a more powerful form by making a pact with the Dominus of the Abyss, Diabolos Darkness in Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus the evil Nemesis Paragon of Chaos, in this infernal pact he summoned the Lawless Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus, an even greater, more evil manifestation of a dark and evil Archon of Chaos, one that is supposed to exist in the world under ours which is the Eden Prime underworld or world within a world is known as Agartha. Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus is like me for he is immortal and most definitely dwells within the Eden Prime communing with the demons, monsters, and abominations which dwell below our feet, the Eden Prime’s crust is hollow, there are other races of Men and even Elves who dwell beneath us as well, who have been fighting these monsters or steering clear of them, these men look much different than us, entire races have been corrupted by Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus. The Grendelkin males are the product of the Necronacht Dwarves who perverted worship of Grey Dwarves and other Agartha Deep Dwarves slowly through maltreatment of trust that the Grey Dwarves and assorted Deep Dwarves from a world below Eden Prime, in Agartha, and spawned in enigma who had become this way after Necronacht Dwarves showed them the allure of their Chaos Baals of Abyssal and the Infernal swayed the Grey and other Deep Dwarves which they protested at first. The Demons piqued the Grey and Agartha Deep Dwarves interest but the Chaos Dominus MetaBaphomet was arranged to grant the Deep Dwarves the knowledge of the ways of the Necronacht Dwarves which the Necronacht Dwarves would see their lesser Deep Dwarven neighbors become subordinates to their whim until how the various powers of Darkness and Lawless power was undone by the Chaos Baal Magnus Omen the Maniac who cursed the population of Agartha Deep Dwarves with growth as they intermingled in the dark heart of madness known as Enigma with the Orcish race of Malakite Erebus that mastered the creation Grendelkin race which now spawned through reproduction of Malakite Erebus Orc and Sasquatch female DNA as the Deep Dwarven women were made infertile and extinct in this populace spanning pact among a coalition of varying races of Grey and Deep Dwarves who sold their souls to endure through this process of growing their fashioned beards into grey wild dreadlocks, their teeth and claws yellow jagged sabers of bone. The blasphemy of Grendelkin became a reality.

Many Ashen Elves were tricked by the Void Elves through unspeakable tortures of metamorphosis that would produce the many forms except with the infusion of Draconis reptilian DNA to create these monstrous Humanoids. The once fair and palish blue skinned Ashen Elves has been perversely twisted from their former selves into Wild Ones of the Ashen Elves which all the males of the vast populace were wiped out at the Dark Elven Chaos Archon of Erinyes Nyx who blinded their race into chaos.

The Shadow Society scientific division has done their extensive studies to come with undeniable data that the Grendelkin were irredeemable while the Wild One Ashen Elves held onto the sentient part of their civilized race of Ashen Elves. The transformation from Ashen Elf to Wild One Ashens was from the fungi spores that were grown from the dwellings the Grendelkin held. The Grendelkin Cacophony Mushrooms that grew near them emitted the spores that caused the exposure Darkness miasma and arcane torture of inciting them to do Lawless acts. The Grendelkin are a race of these Orcish-Dwarves who have become vampiric in nature, while the Wild Ashen Ones are generally a beautiful ravaging ravenous race that still did not match the mindless hordes of Grendelkin that existed to turn against all races and species besides Dark Dwarf and Void Elf due to the plans of the Lawless Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus which is why the Grendelkin and Wild Ashen Ones exist. The monsters, abominations, fiendish Humanoids are his loyal subjects in his command by the power of Lord Aiden Aka Manah, I’ve been looking for ways to destroy his replacement Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus, just as I banished to the void their Chaos Emperor Aiden Aka Manah, my equal in power who still influences our world today.”

“What does Lucifer Illuminatus look like?” Eiko asked in amused horror, as if she were hearing a macabre story told over a campfire.

“He is of a majestic angelic form, he is a tall man, around 7 feet, 4 inches, he is of a chiseled muscular build, he has radiant golden eyes, he is beautiful even for a male almost high-elvish, his hair is curly locks of golden fleece, his skin if you could call it skin is a series has an Illuminating golden hue, and he has six retractable purple wings, the Supreme Paragon of Lawlessness and Darkness appears as the most majestic of the Great Architect’s Archangels.” Zen continued, “The Wyrm George slew, is one of his monsters he personally created, I am certain of that.”

“Zen van Nihil, you once explained what caused you to be an Archon of Extradimensional power unmatched by regular Homo Espers. You are a Hyperborean-Homo Ultra Esper hybrid, that’s what you are. Aiden Aka Manah was the same, Doctor Azazel Apocalypse infused himself with Lucifer Illuminatus also Outsider-Human?” Eiko asked.

“To be specific about what kind of Outsider I am, I am this trivial anecdote of a Hyperborean and Human, not necessarily originally from here, but have ascended to the position of an Archon at the rank of an Archon labeled the Sovereign, I am the combination of prior Archon and extraordinary Human Super-Psionic genetic coding, I have found favor in what I call Friend or the Great Architect who created the Archons to do his work throughout the Multiverse.”

They cantered on further to Zen, imploring him about Archons, Agartha, and the Utopian Community until it is time for bed. That night, when they were turning into their rooms, Eiko and Zen shared a bed for a night of lovemaking. James Booker went to bed alone that night, before falling asleep, his thoughts were of what Zen has said, as well as the recurring haunting reminders of the life and death of his closest friend, George Escalon.

CHAPTER THREE

GOOD MOURNING

It was almost noon when James rose, he saw that the guest bedroom door was open and sheets had been changed after Eiko and Zen’s lovemaking. The bedding was in the downstairs which he could hear as he walked down the wooden stairway to the foyer, turning, he heard his two companions in the kitchen, Eiko is eating eggs and bacon, Zen is cooking eggs and bacon for James. Zen is dressed in a black tank-top and black gym shorts, Eiko in yellow booty-shorts and Zen’s shirt from yesterday. Eiko looked up from her coffee mug as she smiled at James.

Zen turned and said, “Good morning James.”

James sat down, assuming Zen had already eaten as he came over with a fresh plate of hot bacon and eggs for him, a cup of coffee in his other hand, he placed them in front of James. Zen took his seat where his coffee is, drinking heavily for it is now cool, he warmed it by emitting a heat from his hands then drank again. James poured milk and sugar into his coffee then sipped it because it was hot.

They sat in silence as James ate for a moment before Eiko broke it by saying, “Zen, what do you have planned for your day off from the Shadow Society?”

“I never get a day off but today is an exception, I am running an errand to survey the decaying Wyrm, I’m documenting it with a camera as the Grendelkin eat it for the area news. Something to boost morale for the people of the surrounding area now that our Monster and Lawless infestation is over, I will also be leading a group of Shadow Society sharpshooters in gunning down as many Grendelkin as I possibly can so photos won’t be the only thing I’m shooting.”

Today is James’s day off, he is thinking about going to the cinema to see an old pre-apocalypse movie then attending the Memorial for George.

“James what are you doing today?”

“George’s Memorial and probably go see a movie at the cinema before that.”

“Oh okay, I’ll be at George’s Memorial, do you want someone to go to the cinema with you?”

“No, it’s personal, a movie is showing that George and I enjoyed as kids, I’d rather go alone, without company.”

Eiko is silent for a moment gazing at James, “That’s fine,” she said soberly.

They remained silent after that, Zen finished another cup of coffee he had poured, Eiko and him went upstairs to get dressed then left. James sat at the coffee table pondering his day which consisted of remembering the life and times of George Escalon.

______

“You’ll never catch me!” said the boy with the auburn hair.

“Oh yeah? Watch me.” said the boy with golden hair.

The two boys were running through the yard, jumping as high as they could to change direction, they were pretending to be like their parents, members of the Shadow Society, running and jumping as though they, themselves were wearing Spring Heel Jack rigs. The boy with auburn hair is running from the boy with golden hair. The boy with golden hair is closing in on the boy with auburn hair but the boy with auburn hair is too agile to be caught, a natural born Shadow Society member. When the boy with golden hair would get close to catching the boy with auburn hair, the boy with auburn hair would change directions by jumping then running in an opposite direction. They played for fifteen minutes before the boy with auburn hair was finally caught by the boy with golden hair. Tackling him to the ground they began to play fight, throwing empty hands at each other, not landing a single blow but feigning that they did. The boy with auburn hair is named James Booker, the boy with golden hair is named George Escalon.

Their mothers stepped out of the backdoor to the house in the Boston sector of the Eastern Sprawl, “Boys, it’s time for dinner.” George’s called out to them.

“James get up off the ground before you get dirty, we can’t afford to wash your clothes right now.”

“Yes mother.” James called out timidly.

They went inside and ate their dinner, macaroni and cheese with cut up pieces of pork sausage mixed into it.

______

Zen is aiming his camera at the colossal Green Wyrm which Zen has identified as the Velbetrix, Zen is taking pictures of the magnificent specimen. He would leap from building-top to building-top trying to capture all angles of the specimen, Shadow Society sharpshooters shot the Grendelkin which fed along the side of the Wyrm. Zen has a limited time-frame to capture all angles of it which he had. Zen now had an even better idea, to capture film of the Shadow Society members taking pot shots of Grendelkin while they fed on the Wyrm, the amount of Grendelkin is immeasurable, they would clear the entire Wyrm of the long line of Grendelkin for more to climb out of the shadows of the innards of buildings for more to feed. 

They swarmed on the area, eating the Wyrm. The corpses of the Lawless had all been cleaned off the streets. This would be an excellent day to film the consumption of the Wyrm along with Grendelkin dying as marksmen have a day of happy hunting while a notorious Lawless epicenter city of sins too grievously disturbing to mention the former Lawless inhabitants who had vacated too a hellscape realm of chaos they’d feel right at home in for their choices of unspeakable horror in fathoming the evils of Humanity except as understood as regular daily life of a Lawless. The danger to everything as the bane of existence in the Lawless were gone from this close proximity to the civil, reasonable, and peace Post-apocalyptic city-state of Bohemia. An imminent threat and daily antagonist wiped from this Eden Prime in the Lawless by the very abject praise of the Lawless was their fate in the Wyrm brought by the Darkness.

As Zen finished documenting the scenic landscape of the hellscape, he thought to himself in an ironic sense of sarcasm and empathy a quote from Psalm 137 that he whispered to himself, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion-Persian.”

Zen jumped down from the rooftops to land on the ground, invisible by the Shadow Cloak. Zen translucent to the most visual sensory devices then walked into an establishment and snapped some photos of the empty buildings that showed personality traits of Lawless design and architecture. The use of the skulls, graffiti of profanity were gratuitous. For cloth and leather they have stitched together the workings of Human flesh. A shoppe with Human skulls turned into candelabras on the counter with the register, a large sign with profanity and the name of the store is behind where the clerk would stand, Lawless goods which were all stolen from the dead who fell victim to their raids, clothing of various tribes with their own little twist, a dagger and cleaver crossed to make a sigil over the heart and spray painted largely on the back through the use of stencils. Lawless’s were professional plagiarists who’s commune of killing has come to an end in this area. Zen leaped up to film more Grendelkin rending and devouring flesh from the Wyrm then leaped down to walk into an empty bar. The window curtains were made from Human flesh crafted into leather like all their establishments, inside the bar there were bottles of alcohol which is moonshiner ale, whiskey, or lager with a good amount of Human blood in it, skulls adorned the counter, skull caps as ashtrays, chandeliers made of Human bone, the Lawless were a morbid society who would not be missed. Zen left as Grendelkin were entering the bar. Zen upon exiting the door of the bar. Leaped to a top of a building with his Spring Heel Jack rig. 

Zen then checked his photos that he had gotten of the homesteads and establishments, all this information would be on Bohemia’s televised broadcast. Other Spring Heel Jacked freelance journalists from various neighborhoods has arrived to memorialize the event, their training may have implied by the pre-doomsday technology that is made available to only a certain elite of exoskeletal suit enthusiasts who were those who has acquired the antiquated model known as the Dynamic Athletic Exoskeleton Suit or the proper terminology for this technological advancement which paled in comparison to the masterful advancement for the exponentially greater wonder of technology the Shadow Society has revolutionized through their ingenuity known as the Spring Heel Jack exoskeleton rig. Although the Spring Heel Jack is extremely dangerous without proper training which talent grew in it with years of use for the complexities of the device and handling, which despite these enthusiasts becoming proficient with this antiquated tech it yielded them to be amateur photographers at best with the hazards surrounding the area. Zen is receiving the premium of the capturing of the film for the documentary he is making although this documentary is going to be for official Shadow Society records. Zen would make this a documentary to make the Shadow Society with its Guilds known throughout the Post-Darkness world by honoring George Escalon as a publicly recognized civic hero of the Shadow Society with the documentary available on all Shadow Society running servers so ragtag broadcasters could run the film wherever towers could broadcast, the still-frame photos would go to all newspapers free of charge under the title of ‘Zen van Nihil.’ The only person who would be infuriated by this is the lecherous amateur journalist or newsman willing to make a buck off of scare stories about the giant Wyrm and Hordes of Grendelkin. Zen is thinking about the program he would produce from his audiovisual recorded video and still-frames to instill hope in the people about the Shadow Society and its only known and most famous member. George Escalon the Wyrm-Slayer. 

As night fell, they began to clear out. The day yielded the now eradicated masses Grendelkin. A ghost town that was once a sprawling civilization of Lawless Humans, and a deceased giant monster that all once claimed territory in that area which were the most of your worries during the hours of when the light spread across the land. However, at night there were things which paying it an attentive gaze as measurable as a passing glance could drive a man into insanity. An insanity that he may one day snap and go into a homicidal frenzy taking even those he loved most then eventually himself, that monster in particular, that has that effect is known as the Murmur which is an Elder Thing from the Hallowed World or Wherever Eldritch Elder Things come from. The Murmur is something Zen never would want to film or photograph, let alone encounter with any of his empirical senses.

Zen never took photos at night. In places where Shadow Society policies have affected the social laws of civilizations they have been welcomed into. It is a law that no surveillance or recording device is allowed to survey secluded areas at night because of this horrifyingly macabre yet rare creature which could appear anywhere in a blink and then be gone in the next. The Murmur is drawn towards those who emit the deepest and darkest of anxieties as well as emotional distress similar to a moth to a flame, or as the common day idiom would-be, like a Murmur to a heavy heart. The Murmur has been seen by one of Zen’s now deceased friends. That friend was the docile yet mild mannered during his lifetime Thomas Kapital, one of the many descendants of Zen’s dear friend Ernesto Kapital. Zen remained close to his friends and the descendants of his friends throughout his immortal life. To see Thomas Kapital die is a tragedy.

Thomas Kapital is a living descendant of Ernesto Kapital who was a person Zen considered to be his friend when Zen was still young in his immortality. Thomas Kapital has seen the Murmur while when the Shadow Society is launching its first major and crucial operation during the Hell Gate Incident in Berlin, Germany when an extradimensional portal has been opened to another dimension by the three Archons of Chaos: The Lawless Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus, Doctor Azazel Apocalypse, and Lucifer Illuminatus. Innumerable unfathomable eldritch beings of the Darkness with a highly-militarized army of organized Lawless soldiers swarming the city of Berlin, Germany. Thomas had seen the Murmur when his lover Nicole had been shot in the head by a Lawless sharpshooter as they flew through the air on Spring Heel Jack rigs, Thomas caught her mid-air as he landed with his deceased loved one of four years. He is overcome with guilt, despair, and hysteria as his heart weighs with a heaviness to crush a man. When Thomas looked up, he saw the Murmur then blinked.

Thomas has made mention of it to Zen van Nihil, Ian Carys, and Oliver Autumn that night when they found him in his hysteria, Thomas described the anomaly as being covered by eyes and black lips of mouths holding fangs of jagged teeth which varied in size, each of these mouths is a devilish fleshy worm for a tongue, the thing is described as having a foul spherical bulbous body and tentacles drifting from underneath its underside as innumerable eyes and mouths encompassed its body with different pieces of patchwork flesh held together by stitches or staples. The Murmur is fashioned together out of patchwork discolored flesh, black thread and staples held these pieces of flesh together along with scars from the healed portions of its patchwork flesh were visible on these eldritch things. This eldritch thing gazed at you, into you, as well as through you, while unfathomable blasphemies of obscene madness that in the individual’s scope of relative time, aeons of time seemed to pass in mere seconds.

The Murmurs’ many eyes that were visibly gazing at Thomas, they were upon him, it’s gaze pierced through him. The Murmur spoke to Thomas with all it’s mouths the way Nicole spoke with her mannerisms, with her words, emulating her voice exactly.

The Murmur had said innumerable things to Thomas as it emulated his departed yet beloved Nicole with such things as, “What’s wrong Tommy? You don’t recognize me?” “It’s me Nicole, don’t ever leave me,” and “I love you.”

As the Murmur disappeared after the aeons that had passed in mere seconds when Thomas could finally blink out of the madness, it said in a million unworldly voices, “Nicole,” as Tommy descended into hysteria over the realization that Nicole had just fallen dead.

It is many decades later that the effect has taken Thomas Kapital. It is the cause of the massacre at the House of the Shadow Society High Council and Monarch Lodge, the man who has seen that horror is the Noble Lord of Twilight Thomas Kapital, two men survived, Sovereign of Shadows Zen van Nihil and Noble Lord of the Law Oliver Autumn, where Noble Lord of Dusk, Ian Cyras also lay slain as well as the five out of ten members of the Shadow Society High Council. The High Council were the ten members of the parliament branch of the Shadow Society, the High Council then had to regenerate as the whole organization did after that nearly fatal blow dealt by a Murmur. The last thing Zen remembered of all those events is when he tried to reason with Thomas Kapital. Zen saw down the sights of his Energy Rifle at Thomas Kapital’s head. Thomas Kapital is threatened Oliver with an energy dagger, holding Oliver as a shield with the blade to Oliver’s throat, when Zen has made the decision in his mind to shoot knowing he has a clean shot, Thomas Kapital slit his own throat spraying his blood and sinew all over his close friend Oliver. No one in the Shadow Society blamed Thomas Kapital. Blame did not even Oliver or Zen or the High Council, the blame fell on the contemporary real life boogeyman, the Murmur. In hindsight, Zen could say it haunted Thomas Kapital his entire life, it’s voice still could be heard in his ears. There were times he claimed Nicole to be talking, whether it be pleasant or she should be in peril, Thomas Kapital claimed to hear her voice, haunted by what had happened that night when Nicole died and what he had heard and seen. Many have seen the Murmur and gone insane, people who have admitted to seeing it are kept in Sanitariums funded through the Shadow Society’s charity, those afflicted are criminally insane patients who are kept safely away from others, and safe from themselves.

______

Shadow Templar-Commander James Booker is in line at the theater to see an old world children’s movie, by all means of the films which has survived the end of days, this one is regarded as a classic. He is wearing his funeral mourning attire, a black suit, black tie, black dress pants, black socks, black shoes, with a white button-up long-sleeve shirt. He has his friend Katie Flinn from the bar he frequented, cut his hair for she is also a stylist, as well as a good friend of himself but knew of George. She tried to get him to talk about his day-to-day struggles that he shared without ever mentioning the Guild of Shadows, but outside of talking about the haircut he wanted, and answers of compliance, he said nothing unlike the usual talks with Katie at the bar. When she has become unnerved by this, he said he is a very close friend of George Escalon, the famous Shadow Society member who has passed and he is preparing for a funeral. To what extent he knew George, his involvement with where George is, is kept ambiguous for the secrecy of the Guild but Katie has a feeling that George and James’s kinship at the bar in black clothes at late hours of the night meant that they were work associates with the Guild, this gave Katie a new understanding of James as well as George for her to ponder the ideas upon.

James stood there, contemplating his time with Katie, rubbing his hands threw his auburn hair which is short on the sides and back but long on the top to the point he has a bun in his hair like a Feudal Nippon Japanese Samurai. Last night, when Zen has shared his life with himself, he has gotten the books Zen has given him out of the cardboard box in his closet. This morning he has been reading them, something he seldom did but by telling by Zen, Zen is an immortal bookworm. Zen has given James a large collection over the years of medium-ware but still good for their age books that Zen has salvaged for the Shadow Society library, everything Zen seemed to share with the guild he shared with the people for many of the books were back in-print from Shadow Society charity publishing houses which replenished libraries for all tribes spanning Eastern Sprawl, from the New York sector to the Miami sector, even to Maine, and some in the Midwest. It would probably be the same for the footage he is getting of the Wyrm and the hordes of the Lawless tribes city that has been destroyed. The Lawless have no port in a storm and seeing that vicious psychopathic tribe in the Northern sectors or any sector of the Eastern Sprawl is eliminated. Those broadcasts would really be heartwarming for the Eastern Sprawl and would put faith all the way to the Midwestern Settlements to the West Coast which is known as the Western Sprawl despite it being more agrarian in nature.

James contemplated all this as well as the essence of greatness that is Zen van Nihil. How could he have had such a great Humanitarian, philanthropist, and a Noble Lord serving under him this whole time is beyond James. James, without knowing this information now, just thought of Zen as a very good guild member and eccentric genius badass good guy operative but truth is stranger than fiction.

It came to James’s turn to order his ticket for the cinema, a cinema only showing four movies, a documentary on the Ocean dated back in 2020 CE, an action movie about time-traveling robots, a romance movie about a Human and supernatural doppelganger romance which is viewed as a dark-humored satire given the things that go bump in the night, and the movie James came to see a Barnabas Jones children’s movie called “The Brave Ones” shot on Holofilm in a time before Humanity knew of Darkness  Lawless, and the Desolation of their homeworld of Eden Prime long ago in what seemed to be aeons of time. This movie is George and James’s favorite movie from when they were kids to when they were adults, there were plenty of movies that they thought were great, they were both cinema buffs who saw every movie they could watch, praising the good ones, and criticizing the bad ones.

James sat down alone, in the movie, the age range is varied since whatever could kill time would in this day’s age. James sat at the end and watched the entire movie. There were parts that were special to him and George, moments where James, the most manly of men, cried in the theaters, sobbing silently to himself. Years in the Shadow Society taught him how not to be noticed.

When the movie is over, James walked out, his eyes red, you could tell he is either tired, very stoned from wizards weed, or crying, (he preferred people think the prior two since it is a Children’s movie for it’s time.) He hailed a taxi and made his way to the Memorial then public funeral, since in today’s age, embalming fluid is hard to come by hence the quick burials. James couldn’t stand wakes, he spent his time at the wake for his friend George Escalon in the theater, that’s where he remembered George, that’s how he wanted to remember his friend and how he lived.

______

Eiko is with her man at the wake, she couldn’t go to the Memorial at the Shadows Society which is suggested to be mandatory by honor but she promised to make an appearance at the Memorial, her boyfriend, Brad Summers is a Bohemia councilmen, an elder of the Bohemian Polis city-state. By elder that does not relate to age but to experience, he is a thirty-five year old learned lawmaker with ties to other tribes throughout the Eastern Sprawl. He is shaking hands with people for making an appearance at the Wake, a well-known and well-received official making claims to being a confidant of George Escalon, all a ruse, she threatened to break-up with him if he gave her away as a Shadow Society member which from her involvement in, with her and George being shadows member or coworkers or better yet, friends, is how Councilman Tristan Sheers knew George Escalon. Soon it would be off to the funeral, where James has been given the honor of being the eulogist. Zen would miss it entirely while he is out doing surveying work.

The Shadow Society memorial services were held at an old cinema museum across from the Guild Hall which is generally used as a place for high-ranking officials of the Shadow Society to meet and commune joyously, on days where a service is held the black flag with the Shadows Society’s emblem of a skull and crossbones with a green floral wreath around it would be at half mast, which is a weekly thing that all Shadow Society initiates were made aware of from day one. The Rest and Relaxation hall is also the cathedral for memorial services, the celebration of life. As soon as the Memorial services hours were done the hall would be turned into a place for your Moonshiners drink of choice.

It is around 12PM when the funeral procession started, Tristan has a look of wonder in his eyes that this would move his career forward, Eiko is pissed-off with the way he is acting and wished Zen is there instead of out documenting the end of the Lawless, the decomposition of the Wyrm, the dead Grendelkin, and would probably spend his night created a documentary about George Escalon and the events around the creatures slaying, in promotion for the Guilds that comprised the various factions of the Shadow Society with all parties held in complete anonymity besides the posthumous celebrity Templar-Commander, Master of Shadows George Escalon, raised to 26th degree for his honor in death, four degrees he rose posthumously.

James appeared to be nervous as he sat in the front, he arose to deliver the eulogy for his best friend from childhood who is likened to a brother to him. James has helped himself to meditation over drink in this time of hardship, he found meditation to be more relieving than drink. James mounted the podium, he began speaking.

James said somberly and without fumbling over words, “George is a noble man, George is everybody’s best friend, everyone loved him and he loves everybody unless you were a Lawless or a person who didn’t tip their servers.”

The crowd chuckled a little as James successfully lightened the mood.

“George did what no man has done before, taken down an apex predator of beasts, he has killed the beast in such a way that not many thought would be possible, I can imagine it now, his squadron leader in the Shadow Society advising against it but George doing it anyway because George is a free spirited individual who though reckless, is successful in most of his endeavors. George was born in the Boston sector to well-off parents, his father a businessman, his mother a magistrate, George has a knack for lighting up a room and befriending everyone in it, he will be loved, missed, and cherished.”

The audience is taken aback by this, they were relieved to know that the Shadow Society truly has their best intentions by having their members smite two birds with one stone. The Lawless were beyond abominable in nature, they were influenced by complete Lawlessness with no regard for life whatever it should be, the Wyrm is dead meaning that they could travel the day safely only having to worry about Grendelkin as terrifying as they may be, the Wyrm has been captured alive on film before as well as seen by many and many more Lawless were dead while Bohemians lived because of it. They only knew that another apex predator would take its place, something as massive and gargantuan as before, something possibly more monstrous and evil.

James stepped down from the podium to let the Pastoral eulogist run the rest of the show, George has been a devout Celestian who loved mother Celeste very much or so they would like to think, the only vow not kept from George’s last will is he wanted a Shadow Society funeral service and at a congregation this large, James isn’t sure how it would go over with his friends and family. How the Shadow Society worshiped nothing and truly found nothing sacred besides existence and Human life. As the Shadow Society closing funeral line goes, “From Darkness we came, to Darkness we shall return.” James said this passage as he returned to his seat to enjoy the farce that is Celestian funeral processions.

George being an avid lover of comedy would have probably enjoyed himself and wanted it this way over what he would have willed. James knew him all too well to know that George wouldn’t go out without one final prank to pull. Eiko laughed aloud at one point during the Celestian funeral proceedings, a religion based around a being much like Zen known as the Great Mother Celeste whose icon is primarily most effective when propagated through satellites which used electromagnetic broadcasting waves to affect the psychic energies and mental states of Humanity mass holograms over the planets and colonies in their direct vision through psychic energies a mental states of Humanity in the simulations of this being which is just a well-formulated conspiracy to spark a one world religion as a system of instituting universal control in a one world government by opportunistically subverting the destruction of the Human race to be united under a lie? This is something Shadow Society members know and are expected to understand, she is not alone in laughter both external and internal. Although, Celestialism is the remnant of the civilized world’s largest religion. In Post-Darkness Eden Prime, new religious movements have grown to become predominant religions with old religions returning; both with their own unique, interesting, and anomalous perversions from the norms of what religion truly is and what it is supposed to be.

CHAPTER FOUR

LAWLESSNESS IS GODLESSNESS

Zen arrived as darkness fell, he made it to his abode which is a humble two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of town but still inside the safety of the city-walls. Zen has walked to his home in the Litchfield Villa in Brooklyn, New York. He has walked the streets of Bohemia from the post office where he has received more enigmatic love letters which he could not place due to the penmanship being none he has ever seen with his psionic powers bringing up the identities of many women with none being the author or admirer who wrote these letters. 

The sweetest sentiments were shared about the, “shining white snow that is his skin as the glory of the brilliant sun reflecting the glorious majesty that is our beloved Sovereign Zen,” that “Zen is the most unique and rare of the greatest hope for Humanity and wished to show him the love he rightfully deserved,” and “I will be writing you again my sweet Sovereign,” with a caricature of an amorous heart drawn in lipstick at the bottom with the signature, “Your most beloved admirer.” Zen held these letters in great regard for something that made his week greater with her prose in allegory and alliteration being unmatched. Zen admire her almost equally as much.

Upon unlocking the security mechanisms of his house’s front door. Zen’s bog is a domesticated dire Grizzly Bear variant named Orson who has been sleeping but awoke as Zen entered. Dire Grizzly Bears were the size of a medium sized Kodiak which Zen has gotten in Alaska which weighed 990 pounds. Zen’s pet Bog, ran up to greet him. Zen’s domesticated bear or Bog is amicable to Zen and his company which has Zen’s smell on them. Much similar to the story of the domestication of the wolf, thirty-thousand to forty-thousand years ago, man domesticated bears after one would look feed off their scraps. When bears became inquisitive to Humans, the biggest strongest Gardenia man would wrestle the bear and tame it by beating it to be it’s alpha. Bears from both the brown and black bear have been domesticated to the point of a servantile house pet known as a Bog. Zen took a slab of meat out of his fridge, with a bag full of Dog chow which consisted of dried fruit, vegetables, nuts, and dried meat. Zen fed his beloved Orson with a hefty sum of food, opening a couple tins of tuna and placing it on top of the food Orson is already eating.

Zen then began to work tirelessly to develop film and string together his video recordings of what happened, he has culminated some copies of photos and video of George Escalon and meshed together other famous Shadow Society events with only the deceased as mentionable, everyone else has their names in anonymity or by rank. The documentary is about the Shadow Society and the life of Honored Templar-Inquisitor George Escalon. This piece of propaganda would replace the documentary of the ocean from 2008 CE, forever in the local cinema and be played in cinemas and on a televised broadcast all the way to the West Coast. The Shadow Society is finally making itself known with its activities. The documentary is spliced into three parts, its origins, its mission statement, then sedge-way to its most venerated member George Escalon who from the notebooks George kept that James allowed Zen to borrow which arrived via courier.

Zen is making a ninety minute documentary that would help people take their minds off the trouble of life knowing that the good guys like the Shadow Society exist. Zen van Nihil finally meditated in the morning when the project was done, he only relied on a fifteen minute meditation to be well-rested. He took the film to the Shadow Society who would copy it then mass-produce the film to all forms of entertainment media. It would be a live broadcast in a day and in a week everyone from Southern Canada to the West Coast to Central America would know of Knight Regent George Escalon, the Shadow Society member who slew the Wyrm of the North Eastern sector. Upon entering his meditation, he sensed someone, someone he hadn’t known of for a long time, Lucifer Illuminatus. This tantalizing antagonist is trying to communicate with Zen directly. Zen opened the doors of perception and answered the call.

“Hello Zen.” The man known as Lucifer Illuminatus began in a cool ominous demeanor.

“What do you want, Lucifer Illuminatus?”

“I want the destruction of all life on Eden Prime, for my beasts and creations to run free, run free of mankind in the eternal night embodied as the Eldritch Titan of Ancient Chaos, Darkness Diabolus to encompass all that is the Community”

“What is it you NEED then?” Zen asked emphatically

“I need you, Zen my friend, to keep doing exactly what you’re doing, slaying Jormungar or what your kind calls ‘the Wyrm’ got you nowhere for another beast is on his way to claim his territory, three other beasts are coming but this beast will beat the competition. This beast is my son, this beast is Fenrir, As for your friend James, I wish him the best of luck in his endeavors.”

“My Nemesis of Chaos, Lucifer Illuminatus, you abominable Great Archon of Chaos who is nothing more than a sower of discord and chaos, an Archon with no honor, leave my presence, I command of you in the name of the Great Architect.”

Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus dissipated his telepathic message to Zen just as Zen awoke from his meditation calmed but pondering this disturbance. Zen sensed that Sovereign Lucifer Illuminatus had not lied, that four beasts were on their way from the abyssal depths of Eden Prime to the subterranean surface, just thousands of yards beneath their feet, dwelling within the Eden Prime, going back and forth to make their nests or dens. Zen swallowed the knot of fear building up in his throat. Debating on whether he should tell the Shadow Society this diabolical possibility, he thought it better they found out for themselves.

Zen took the finished documentary to the Shadow Society hall located at the old regal hotel that is the main headquarters where the primary of Shadow Society happenings took place, unlike a lodge a hall is much larger and could house more Shadow Society members.

Zen arrived at the lobby where the place of a doorman is a Shadow Society Apprentice holding an Energy Rifle, he nodded at Zen addressing him, “Good morning Sovereign Zen, Master of Monarchs.”

Zen nodded back in response saying, “Are the servers up and running?”

“As always sir.”

“Good.”

Zen took his leave of him and opened a door to the stairs climbing to the third floor where the pre-Darkness tech is kept and tested, this is also the floor with the computer lab and servers. Zen entered the pre-Darkness tech room, the quirky Shadow Society scientists were working on a new weapon, the plasma rifle, they were firing it at hanging pigs in a target range adjacent on the floor from the humble computer lab. Shadow Society tinkerers were refurbishing the Spring Heel Jack rigs they had found yesterday, repairing them, from counting of them, they had restored even George Escalon’s Spring Heel Jack rig. Zen paid them no mind and entered through a glass door accompanied by glass floor-to-ceiling windows to the people in the laboratory which held in open view what is happening in the computer room so no masturbatory privileges could be taken place while utilizing the facility, even in the years following the fall of civilization, computers were treasured for their ability to view pornography on the ancient databases which housed the obscenities in the vast network of satellites which is ironically considered the most sacred of technology.

Zen took out the Datajack from his black cloth backpack, unzipping the bag then lunging his hand inside grabbing the Datajack drive. He plugged the Datajack into the computer which took several minutes to open the Datajack portfolio then download the information. Zen opened the broadcasting que, he created a television channel just for the Shadow Society Documentary as well as the still-frames of what he has captured of the empty Lawless city, the Grendelkin, and the Wyrm. Zen sent the documentary he prepared over the Ozymandias network so other Shadow Society Guilds could freely broadcast over public television through the Wardenclyffe UtiliTech Energy Towers then to a series of satellites for Gardenia Utopian Community access across the universe. After Zen was done he logged out then hoisted the black cloth backpack over his shoulder to go to the primary hall of one of the many Shadow Society’s within the Shadow Society known as the Keepers of Secrets. The Keepers of Secrets is the Shadow Society division which covered the advancements of Humanity concerning the fields of science, engineering, technology, and utilizing these fields to expound onto them the plethora of marvels they have brought forth while preserving the history of the Human race that is still apparent in Post-Darkness Eden Prime. The Keepers of Secrets were the most remarkable contributors to this era of the Humanity’s advancement as well as the Keepers of the Humanities. Where Shadow Knights preserved the lives of Humanity through physical force, the Keepers of Secrets preserved the spirit of the Humanities through the research, development, documentation, and ethical experimentation. The Shadow Society known as the Keepers of Secrets only accepted the most extraordinarily genius intellectual elite into its ranks or those with the means of cognitive function to ascertain the erudition to acclimate themselves to that level. The Keepers of Secrets were the preservers of history and revolutionaries of the future. Zen is going to give the Datajack containing the Shadow Society Documentary with the head librarian at the archives building so it could be saved to the Shadow Society Guild Database. It would be a while for the information to be sent but here at home it could be broadcasted almost immediately.

In two weeks from that night they were holding a premiere for the documentary at the cinema as well as a live broadcast after the news at 6PM on the local North Eastern sector of the Sprawl. It would be syndicated for inter-continental broadcast to instill hope in the people of the civilized technologically areas of Eden Prime. Zen feeling accomplished went to a local beer hall known as the Sub-Pub to celebrate his hard work, the premiere would take place in a week at the local cinema, where an all inclusive invitation to the highest Echelons of the local friendly tribes were to come watch the Premiere the two other theaters would be showing the Documentary to Shadow Society members. He has two weeks before his big moment of glory but tomorrow he has to leave for another mission, one that would take exactly a possibly a single to several days total, he would be back in time for the Premiere, if he returned from this mission at all. What he needed now, in the absence of James not answering his Utilitech which he understood James needed to mourn the loss of his childhood friend which could have been equated as essentially as his brother. Zen has a sense that James is reading the books of Eastern and Western philosophy and meditating but also that James has discovered something else more endearing in the form of a feeling of love and the fulfillment of his love by expressing this love to another.

“The power of friendship, relationships, positive thoughts, good feelings, meditation, masturbation, and sexual healing can save anyone,” Zen said aloud in his office as his pet Dire Grizzly Bear, Orson nuzzled his head against Zen’s torso and arms, licking his face.

Zen thought he would spend the week before the big mission by going hunting for big game off while on Shadow Society time. Eiko has broken up with Brad and is messaging him more and more. So has Vanessa, in the age of a Post-apocalyptic, Post-Darkness world… polyamory is a commonplace thing. He is Sovereign Zen van Nihil, he would ask both of them out on a date, Eiko for old times sake, Vanessa as his romantic venture. The three of them were going to go do what every Shadow Knight loved most, go hunting eldritch horrors and monsters. Zen generally hunted the eldritch terrors of the Darkness with only Eiko and Orson, but he knew that every Shadow Knight enjoys hunting. Zen knew as the tradition goes that Eiko needed something to get her catharsis for her boyfriend is a weak male who generally is always being a pollyannaish facade of a Human being in public but an abusive prick behind closed doors while Vanessa could really use the experience, she is too shy, he also wanted to see her rise the ranks because she has potential as well as Zen’s heart aching for Vanessa every-time he envisioned her smile or laugh or any mannerism, behavior, or thing she said that was running laps through his head.

Zen addressed Eiko “Would you like to go hunting with me and another woman as a triple date, you know it’s our tradition friend and I have a thing for Vanessa, a very romantic thing, is that okay with you Eiko? Will you be my wing-woman?”

Eiko’s response was immediate via Utilitech, “Hell yeah Zen, I’d love too, love is a strong word but that’s how I feel about you for a long time, even more so than a friend ;)” Eiko sent a private winking emoji over to Zen allowing them both to know that Eiko was done for the plan Zen debriefed the Shadow Society at large about.

Zen didn’t receive Vanessa’s message by Utilitech. Zen received Vanessa’s response while he was taking his route through the 100 yard walled area of the protected zone of Bohemia as Zen was taking his stroll that happened pass Vanessa’s large august wooden manor in a wooded area that Vanessa the highly-observable and perceiving type saw Zen walking to his lab 15 more blocks down where she jumped for joy to address him personally.

Vanessa rushed out of her large wooden cabin styled mansion home, just as Zen was walking to his personal laboratory to do some various research. He wore his lab jacket, black button up, red tie, black dress pants, black combat boots off to do some work. Vanessa shined a brilliant smile of sincere love that caught Zen’s attention that he had to catch himself from his own encompassing grin to a cool smirk as Vanessa smiled wonderfully beautiful in a quick moment that seemed to be dreamlike that was broken as a surreal reality as Vanessa finally spoke with the enthusiasm of liberating herself from all restraint of her social-anxiety in a romantic encounter with her crush, “You want to go out on a date with me?”

“Yeah Vanessa, my one and only life as of now, however, we are going hunting and possibly something between tonight where I treat you better than right, I treat you like the wonderful woman you deserve to be treated as after hunting. Vanessa, I was wondering while we went hunting in one of the most dangerous places around her for monsters, undead, abstract terrors, eldritch horrors, fiendish Humanoids, the whole 10 yards of the most dangerous game. Is it okay with you if Eiko joins us, she is a close friend of mine and we have an extremely long history of being best friends, her and James, we generally go hunting at the Central Park together on the weekends with my big Orson, I hope you’re okay with that, we are doing a mission with the Order of Darkness.” Zen gave her a look of seriousness about the monstrous rumors about the Order of Darkness in a moment of silence, “We can enjoy the wilderness and I’m not going to lie, hunt some strange game you’ve never probably seen before but I trust you and care for you, we will need all our Shadow Knights gear and weapons we will be making our rendezvous with Sergeant Voss Lynx Thorn and his Gideon’s Rangers of the Order of Darkness, now there’s more to this date than just that but would you want to go as my big game hunting date? That’s if it’s okay Eiko tags along?”

Vanessa responded with, “I’d love too Zen, yes, yes, yes!”

Zen leaned into Vanessa’s face where Vanessa seized her initiative to passionately press her lips to her most beloved man she trusted with her life; whether it was in the line of duty or heart-to-heart conversations in the mess hall. Vanessa loved Zen van Nihil as so many others did but the man always too busy in the service of his people of Bohemia had found time to spare for Vanessa. This time they would spend together would be the best of times, no matter what happened.

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