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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

By Mark W. Meier

Part 20

Act II

Prophet of Death

Chapter Nine

Back home, you and Amy parted ways on the second floor landing, and you hiked the final flight of stairs in a dream state. Recalling your time with Amy yesterday and this morning brought forth a witless smile. Anticipation of the next meeting filled you with hope for the future.

A hope I would crush.

Then you opened the door to your apartment and found Marshal Woods sitting in your desk chair, feet propped up on your nearby bed. An incoherent scream burst forth from your lips. Since your door was still open I had to dampen the noise so nobody else in the building heard you.

“Mr. Reymond.” The smirking marshal uncrossed his ankles and stood, taking out his ever-present notebook. “Good to see you again.”

I could have cheered. This man didn’t know it, but he’d helped my cause more than anything I could have anticipated. The time had come to finish my mission.

POP! The oven this time. You yelled wordlessly at the offending appliance.

“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” You stomped your feet. “You returned all my belongings! Why isn’t this case over?”

“We found more evidence this morning.” Woods looked up from his notebook. “To be honest, there’s so much proof that you must be guilty.”

“What evidence? I’ve been trapped here all weekend. I could only get to church because someone else drove.” Your blood pressure climbed, and I helped.

POP! Your electric razor in the bathroom.

You shrieked again.

Woods gave you a measuring look. “Remember Gaming in Greensboro? Turns out the game console he uses had a camera hooked up to it so players can see each other. It also records, even though he’d set it to not transmit to the boy at the other end.”

“So what!”

POP! Your computer.


Woods’ smile widened. “I have that video here.” He turned his phone around so you could watch my impersonation of you descend a flight of stairs and come up behind Gaming in Greensboro.

“That is not me!”

POP! The marshal’s phone.

Woods gloated. “When you told Gaming to go ahead with his planned weekend, you cautioned him to keep hydrated. He did, but he wasn’t about to interrupt a marathon session simply to use the bathroom.”

The video showed “you” approach the youth.

POP! Your printer.

Your eyes widened in disbelief as “you” rounded the end of Gaming’s sofa. You drove a fist into his abdomen.

Woods continued. “His bladder ruptured.”


You watched as “you” danced in glee while Gaming writhed in agony.

“But . . . .”

POP! Another incoherent scream ripped from your throat.

Woods’ smile turned especially nasty. “The video goes on and on while blood and urine pools in his guts, and you do nothing to help him. It took hours for him to die.” He blanked the phone and dropped it into his suit pocket. “You’ll get extradited to Alabama, charged, and tried on first degree intentional homicide.”


You screamed again. It was wonderful to watch your eyes protrude as your stress mounted.

“I believe that state has the death penalty, Mr. Reymond.”

I elevated your blood pressure even more. Then you clutched your chest and fought for breath. You did your best to remain calm, but failed miserably.


Your eyes rolled back and your mouth fell open. The pain must have been excruciating. To me it was fantastic.

Then you fell to the floor and died.

Woods looked directly at me and smiled.

He’s a Brother! Shocked, I appeared in my natural form for the first time in years.

A noise from the hallway.

Amy stood there, slack jawed.

Woods and I both vanished in a puff of ecru smoke.


If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.

Next week: Act III - The First Horseman

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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The hatch opened to admit the other three crewmen. L-T took the remaining chair behind Carnifor, and Olthan ordered a fifth seat. Marc sat cross-legged on the floor between and behind Lannetay and Olthan.

Goofball started a simulation of the ship and yawed all the way around. After a brief pause, he spun on all three axes. “Bill tells me we have a higher velocity than our listed rating,” Goofball said through the sound inducers. “Would you please enter the code to give me access for that, Captain?”

Lannetay entered the codes. She could feel Goofball testing their acceleration and maneuverability. “Bill, you’d better turn up the gravity in our cargo bay.”

“Already done,” said Bill/Goofball. “Quadruple normal.”

Marc tugged on his mom’s sleeve. “I hope Bill doesn’t do that too much. It’s weird hearing him and Goofball at the same time.”

Lannetay patted Marc’s hand. “He’ll disconnect when we take care of this pirate situation.”

“They must think we should see them now.” Bill/Goofball said over the inducers. “They’ve increased speed. They’re faster than we are.”

“Is that a problem?” Lannetay’s sarcasm fell flat.

“Yes,” Bill/Goofball replied. “We’ll have to outsmart them.”

“We’re all pretty clever.” Carnifor’s voice betrayed an apprehension.

L-T’s voice was bitter when he said, “We can’t be that smart if we’re all stuck here.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” Lannetay’s sarcasm was biting. “We’re here for various reasons, but none of them is because we’re stupid. We should easily out-think them.”

“They’re cunning, or they wouldn’t make it in the pirate business,” Bill/Goofball said. “Look at their ship.”

A holo of the pirate ship appeared. Matte black to hide in visible light, the clean lines showed no sign of deterioration. Readings accompanied the holo, displaying well-tuned engines and self-powered weapons systems.

“An armed cargo ship?” Lannetay didn’t like that idea, though it did make a certain sense. She prayed they’d be able to handle the situation without loss of life.

“They could blow us out of space whenever they want.” L-T’s forehead dampened.

Bill/Goofball said, “Can’t outrun, can’t even shoot back. This could be tricky.”

Carnifor pointed at the display of the ship gaining on them. “Don’t you think we should put on a burst of speed?”

Goofball might have shaken his head, but nobody could see because of the enveloping material. “No. If they see us as having the ability to maybe break free, they’ll cripple us as soon as they’re in weapons range.”

“How long?” Lannetay asked.

Bill spoke without Goofball’s overtones. “They’re hailing us.”

“Play it.” Lannetay and Carnifor spoke over the top of each other. They shared a worried look.

William Placard, cut your drives. You cannot escape.” The woman’s voice had a rich, velvet tone pleasing to the ear. Her message wasn’t.

Bill/Goofball grunted. “Your orders?”

“Evade for now.” Lannetay didn’t want to give in too soon. “Do what you need without damaging the ship.”

Stars whirled, and a false-color disrupter beam flashed past. Bill/Goofball chortled, mocking the pirate ship. “Is that the best you can do?”

Carnifor spoke up. “Goofball, they’re firing on us. Try to take this seriously.”

Goofball snorted his derision. “That peashooter? My shielding could handle that all day.”

L-T mouthed the words, “my shielding,” with a questioning glance at Lannetay. She shrugged.

Sensors showed a maneuvering thruster on the enemy ship accepting a trickle of power, and Goofball laughed again. “They can barely keep up with us. Their pilot must be pretty inept if this wallowing beast can keep ahead of them.” His course correction opposite theirs sent the two ships on vastly different courses.

William Placard, I have a missile primed and locked on your ship. Decelerate or be destroyed.”

Lannetay leaned forward. “Goose our speed by another two lights. Be prepared to come full stop.”

“Aye, Captain,” Bill/Goofball said.

Seconds later a sensor lit. “They’re prepping a missile,” Lannetay said. “Come about and stop.”

Stars twisted again, the engines howled, then the whole ship quieted. An uncorrected slow spin sent the stars drifting across their main display. The pirate ship blasted past at more than a hundred times the speed of light. It quickly reversed and returned, with Goofball keeping the William Placard’s bow pointed at the pirates.

“Now what?” Marc asked of nobody in particular, voice betraying a slight waver.

“We wait.” L-T sounded grim.

Lannetay shook her head. “No. We get ready.”

The macrites covering Goofball withdrew. He stood. “I’ve seen your plan, Lannetay. It’s a good one. I’ll see to it.” He strode out of the control room, slipping between L-T and Olthan. Marc leaned to port to give him room. Lannetay slid back into her own seat, and Marc took the chair she’d vacated.

“What’s going on?” L-T asked. “What plan?”

Bill spoke before Lannetay and Carnifor could explain. “What’s the use of having a fighter pilot on a cargo ship?”

Olthan shrugged. “Ta fly it?”

“Marc could fly it, if that’s all we needed.” Lannetay broke into a grin. “There are more secrets on this ship than any of you know.”

“Goofball is in position,” Bill announced. A moment later he added, “Checkout complete.”

Marc asked, “What position?”

“Wait one.” Carnifor ordered the ship to rotate a few more degrees, and absorbed Lannetay’s scowl without reacting.

Olthan looked at Marc. “What we waitin’ for?”

Marc only shrugged.

“Almost.” Lannetay paused. “The pirates are getting closer.”

William Placard, stand by as we neutralize your rotation,” the pirate’s voice announced.

Bill said, “Their ship’s calledOlinerie, according to their transponder.”

The stars froze in space as the traction field from the pirates seized the ship. “We’ve scanned your ship,” the pirate continued. “We count five people. Have everyone meet us at your port airlock.”

L-T muttered, “There’s six people aboard.”

Lannetay objected to the pirate. “Any chance we could make that our starboard side, Olinerie?”

“Negative, William Placard. Port airlock in two minutes.”

The connection ended and Carnifor turned to Lannetay. “What was that about?”

“They’re expecting resistance. That little opposition might allay their suspicion.”

Bill announced, “They’re docked.”

“Why couldn’t they scan Goofball?” Marc asked.

Lannetay sent a private message to Marc.I’ll tell you when I can. Things are going too fast right now. Then she sent a message to the fighter pilot.Goofball, go.

“The fighter is away, and our ‘guests’ are at the lock.” Bill’s voice was clinical.

Lannetay climbed out of her recliner and hastened toward the common room. The others followed.

William Placard,” came the same woman’s voice, “open your lock or we’ll burn it open.” Her voice seemed a bit angry.

If you're wondering more about these characters, their origins are detailed in Ebony Sea: Origins. If you appreciate this story, please share on social media, and consider supporting the author's ability to continue writing by purchasing the Origins story and leaving a review at the link above.

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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

By Mark W. Meier

Part 19

Act II

Prophet of Death

Josh pulled into Corinthian’s parking lot and located a space.

Sarah continued. “At that point Jupiter would be right above the horizon, too. From Jerusalem, it would look like it was hovering just over Bethlehem, which was only a few miles away.”

You opened the door and stepped into the remaining bits of snow. The church had plowed in advance of services. But even rushing you couldn’t make it to Amy’s door soon enough to assist her.

On the way to the church’s door the three of them chatted about the meaning of passages about Moses and Pharaoh, all of them getting it wrong. No surprise there. American culture focused mostly on how a person felt, and songs were written about hardening one’s heart against emotions. Is it any wonder they don’t think that when Pharaoh hardened his heart it really meant he grew in his resolve? Egyptians discarded the brain during mummification, viewing it mainly as a mucous generator.

Josh pulled open the door to the church and gestured for the rest of you to enter.

The only reason I could get inside the building was because I was “riding” you. The eerie feeling of being so close to . . . them . . . leaked from me into your awareness even as I drew resolve from your free will to stay where my enemy held such sway.

Fortunately I wasn’t alone. A dozen or so Brothers like me exchanged acknowledgment, all of us too hemmed in by . . . His . . . influence to do more than greet each other.

After chatting aimlessly for endless minutes, the four of you sat in a pew halfway back on the right. Padded seats. Too bad. The pain in your backside was still distracting, though.

The service was interminable for both your bruised tailbone and me. The singing, even by human standards, was horrible. Bether, the singer I’d strangled not long ago, had attended here as a child, but left in disgust when the choir director ask her to rein in her ability. She never went to another church again. I smiled, but not for long.

A half-hour into the performance the music stopped, the congregation sat, and a preacher positioned himself behind the pulpit and began his lecture on the season of Advent. I didn’t listen too closely, just tried my best to keep you thinking of other things.

When the message turned toward the astrologers from the east, I couldn’t stop you from listening. The pulpiteer mentioned much of the same information Josh, Sarah, and Amy had told you, and added a couple of other reasonable options for the “star” the astrologers had followed. He finished by saying the exact date and astrological signs prompting the journey didn’t matter. That’s when you relaxed and I was able to make your mind wander away from such things. I was better off if you didn’t ponder those kinds of thoughts.

After the eternal chanting and bobbing and jumping, things came to a close. Parishioners stood around blabbing with each other, and it seemed Josh and Sarah would waste the rest of the day. Eventually all my Brothers left with their assigned clients, leaving me surrounded.

You perked up again when conversation turned to King Herod. Someday I might have a victory like when he slaughtered all those kids, but not the way things were going. That Brother of mine still bragged about his time with Herod. I hated him, despite the achievement which had advanced the Brotherhood’s agenda.

“Sure, the Wise Men went to Jerusalem,” said a man with glasses two sizes too large. “The planet, star, and constellation all point to a powerful king being born in Judea. Jerusalem was the local capitol, so of course they’d go there.”

Another in the small crowd asked, “Why ask Herod? All he thought about was which construction project to do next.”

Josh knew the answer to that. “The Wise Men didn’t know anything about Herod. Being in charge of the nation, Herod had the knowledge, or at least access to someone who did.”

The man with big glasses spoke up again. “And his experts knew from Micah about the Savior being born in Bethlehem. Herod only told the Wise Men so they’d find out what was going on. ‘Hey, when you figure it out, come back and tell me.’ Only so he could kill the baby king who would displace him.”

“A lot of good it did Herod,” someone quipped. That brought a few chuckles.

Even I found humor in that situation. As adroitly as the Brother had corrupted Herod, the man had failed to terminate the life of the one person who counted. So much for Kulak’s big win.

“And when those Wise Men stepped outside, there’s Jupiter right above Bethlehem. Perfect confirmation about what they heard from Herod’s experts,” said one woman.

I stopped laughing to myself because I could see you were being swayed by these people.

And I couldn’t stand for that.

If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.

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