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Acts 1

 

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen:

To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

And, being assembled together with them [Or, eating together with them], commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, “but wait for the promise of the Father, which,” saith He, “ye have heard of Me.

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

And He said unto them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.

Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey.

And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The Field of Blood.

For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HABITATION BE DESOLATE, AND LET NO MAN DWELL THEREIN’: and ‘HIS BISHOPRICK [Or, office, or, charge] LET ANOTHER TAKE.’

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.

And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two Thou hast chosen,

That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles (Acts 1: 1-26).

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Luke 1

 

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:

And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name.

And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.

He hath holpen His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;

As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.

And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people,

And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David;

As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant;

The oath which He sware to our father Abraham,

That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear,

In holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;

To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by [Or, for] the remission of their sins,

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us,

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel (Luke 1: 1-80).

Daniel 10

 

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.

In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.

I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;

Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:

His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.

And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.

Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.

And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.

Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one [Or, the first] of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.

And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.

And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.

For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.

Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,

And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.

But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince (Daniel 10: 1-21).

Isaiah 7

 

And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, “Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;

“And say unto him, ‘Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

“‘Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,

“‘“Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal”:

“‘Thus saith the Lord GOD, “It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

“‘“For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.

“‘“And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” ’ ”

Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,

“Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.”

But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes [Or, commendable trees].

In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;

And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.

With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.

And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle (Isaiah 7: 1-25).

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

 

Chapter 12

 

Lark was dropped off in front of the docking port of the star cruiser. Leader Monrage never stayed the night on Lark’s ship. He had his own ship, but he rarely stayed there either. He always liked to skulk around the planets, especially at night. He once said that was how he got most of his information, most of his contacts.

In fact, it was at a local tavern on a different colony that he first heard about the new pilot, Captain Smithson. Lark had to admit that she’d been a little skeptical of Captain Smithson the first time she heard about him because of this. But somehow when she saw Captain Smithson in his environment, her opinion of him began to change. The planet he was from had been quite troubled. This meant that a large portion of the population had been forced to live in underground tunnels. The atmospheric regulator malfunctioned in parts of the planet. The areas where those with power lived were regularly maintained; the other areas were not.

Leader Monrage had insisted Lark accompany him on his cruiser to meet with Captain Smithson. She spent most of the journey in a windowless room and away from everyone else. This living situation began to feel quite confining. Occasionally, she was allowed to get food from the commissary. Finally, they landed. She first saw Captain Smithson standing in front of an underground gateway. He was leaning back against a wall, his hands in his pockets. He was staring straight ahead. Then suddenly, as Lark and Leader Monrage approached, he causally pushed himself off from the wall. Captain Smithson turned and looked at them. He waited for a moment watching them then started walking toward them. Lark was surprised to find he didn’t look much older than she did. Yet, his piloting skills were apparently much better than Lark’s.

“You’re Owen Smithson.” Leader Monrage stated.

“That would be correct.” he replied.

Captain Smithson looked at Lark, who was dressed as Officer Twelve, and she looked at him. It had been the first time in a long time that she felt a twinge of feeling deep inside. Something about him reminded Lark of her own life. There was a solemnity in his eyes — almost a wistfulness.

“You’ve talked to Thomas Ingot?” Monrage demanded.

“Yes, that’s why I’m here. I’m assuming she is the reason you had to leave before meeting with me?” Captain Smithson asked in a low tone, referring to Officer Twelve.

“Never mind that.” Monrage advised. “Is Keller okay with you leaving?”

“I don’t know, but if I decide to leave I guess he’ll have to be okay with it.” Captain Smithson stated. “Is that a problem?”

“No.”

“You wonder about my loyalty?” Smithson pondered.

“I don’t think about things in terms of loyalty. But I do expect people to fulfill their obligations to me.” Leader Monrage informed him.

“Fair enough.”

“Good.” Leader Monrage shook Captain Smithson’s hand. “I will, of course, need a preview of your skills before the deal is done.”

“Of course.”

Leader Monrage smirked.

“Very good. Very good indeed.”

 

***

 

Lark waited for the car to pull completely away. Then, she headed on foot away from the star cruiser. Lark didn’t feel like spending the entire evening trapped on the ship with the rest of the crew. She also didn’t want to speak to Leader Monrage any time soon, and there was always a chance he’d come looking for her.

Instead, she decided to spend the time before the nightly curfew at the church. She needed a place to think in peace about everything that had happened. She didn’t want to just stuff it inside like everything else. She thought the church was the only place she could go for that.

Fortunately, the door to the church was unlocked. Still, the lights were dim, and there didn’t appear to be anyone around.

“That’s fine with me,” Lark thought.

She didn’t really want to talk about the past — not when she was so unsure what to think of it herself. Lark slipped inside, carefully shutting the massive wooden doors. She could almost hear her sigh echo through the rafters. Lark went up a few pews toward the altar then sat down. She folded her hands, fell forward then leaned her forehead against the tips of her fingers.

Lark worked to steady her breathing, to let the anxiety release. Still, it was hard. Lark knew she didn’t have all the time in the world. She knew time was ticking by — pulling her back to the ship — to Leader Monrage and all her problems with Celeste. She didn’t have the luxury of waiting at the church until she was ready to face her reality. If only Lark could pretend that she had the time she needed. Maybe then, she could relax and deal with things.

Suddenly, there was a creaking emanating from the door behind her. She sat back slowly then turned around.

There standing in the entranceway was Captain Smithson, slowly closing the door again. Lark stood.

“Is there something wrong?” Lark asked.

“Not with me.” Captain Smithson replied.

“But it’s not a coincidence that you’re here.” Lark started. “Did you follow me?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I saw you head into the city. I thought it would be a good time for us to talk.” he mentioned.

“About what?”

Captain Smithson looked concerned. Apparently, he wasn’t expecting such resistance. Lark looked off to the side.

“So, how did you get out anyway?” Lark wondered softly.

The change of subject seemed to suit Captain Smithson just fine.

“They released us from captivity shortly after you came back.” Captain Smithson said.

“Captain …”

“Owen. Just Owen is fine.” He paused. “Do you have a name?” he queried.

She looked at him a moment.

“Lark.”

“Lark … all right, thank you.”

“I wouldn’t call me that in front of him.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Lark looked away again; his gaze was intense.

“Have you eaten?” Owen wondered.

Lark looked up in surprise then shook her head.

“There’s a restaurant down the way. It’ll be nice to eat food that hasn’t been vacuum-packed.” he added.

Lark looked at him searchingly.

“All right.” Lark agreed after a minute had passed.

Lark walked past him and toward the door. He filed in beside her as she passed. At some point, Lark became aware that Owen was looking down at her. Lark looked up at him inquisitively.

“I’m sorry. I can’t get over the difference in how you look.” Owen said. “Is this going to be permanent?”

Lark sighed and stared at the street in front of her.

“I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to think about it yet.” Lark stated lowly. “Maybe when I’m on duty, I’ll go back. Then again, I always seem to be on duty when I’m not in my room. And I did that before —being the way I am now only when I was alone in my room. Still, it might cause unnecessary stress with Leader Monrage if I stay like this.”

“I really don’t see why he should care.” Owen said with irritation in his voice.

“I don’t know.” Lark said. “Other than he likes who I am when I’m wearing the uniform.”

As they walked along, Lark glanced at Owen briefly.

“You know, for some reason your life growing up reminds me of my own.” Lark mentioned softly, her eyes cast downward again.

A pit grew in her stomach as she said the last words. Lark wasn’t used to bringing up topics of conversation; she especially wasn’t all that comfortable talking about herself. After a period of silence, Lark started to wish she hadn’t. She looked at him then, fearful she had said too much.

“How so?” Owen asked smoothly. He was looking straight ahead.

“I guess … the feeling of being trapped somewhere. Dreaming of getting out — assuming there is a way out or anything better.”

Owen looked over at her.

“You got all that from our first meeting? We didn’t even talk.”

“Yeah, well …”

“Then again, you said you could relate.” Owen paused. “I’m surprised you didn’t think I was disloyal. I left the syndicate I was in without permission.”

Lark looked at him intently for a moment.

“Why should I care?” she put forth. “I’m assuming you had cause.”

“I doubt they saw it that way.”

“Will they come after you?” Lark asked.

“They’re not going to bother with that. They don’t have the reach to chase me around space. I was in the most danger that first night. Fortunately, I was already packed, and I was able to do my test for Leader Monrage right away.”

Leader Monrage — why did it bother Lark to hear Owen use his name? Perhaps she wanted to keep the two of them separate. She knew she didn’t necessarily want Owen to be a part of the world she belonged to — not the way it really was. The question was did he even want to be? And if he didn’t, would he be leaving again soon? Then again, what difference could it make? Lark had been alone before. Surely, she could handle it again.

Lark and Owen came upon the restaurant then. There was a line of people waiting to be seated. The wait really wasn’t so long as it had first appeared. Then again, most of the others in line were in larger groups. Lark and Owen only needed a table for two.

After being seated, Lark started to peruse the menu.

“This is nice.” Lark stated. “This reminds me of when I was a child. We went out to dinner for Mother’s Day. It was the first time they let me select something from the adult menu.”

Lark lifted her face to see Owen looking at her.

“So, you’re from here?” he asked.

“A long time ago.”

Owen scanned the environment with his eyes, a look of confusion on his face.

“But I left here. I was taken away when I was still a child.” Lark added. “I wasn’t implying this place is like yours.”

“And that’s when you met Leader Monrage?”

Lark’s eyes glazed over.

“Yes.”

“I heard he was from a prison colony, and that he escaped not all that long ago.”

Lark lifted her eyes to his.

“You … were there? A maximum security prison colony?” Owen was incredulous.

Lark sensed someone coming and looked over at the approaching waiter.

“Hello, may I get you anything to drink?”

“I’ll just have water, no ice.” Lark said.

“Same here.” Owen stated.

“And to eat?”

“I’ll have the chicken sandwich with a side of mushroom soup and french fries.” Lark ordered.

“I’ll take the steak with the baked potato and the mushroom soup.”

“Very good.” The waiter took the menus.

Lark could tell that the waiter was relieved that they ordered something more substantive than water.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think he heard anything.” Owen mentioned.

“I don’t care.” Lark said. “I was convicted of stealing a diamond broach.” She hesitated. “I didn’t do it, but I confessed.”

Owen looked as though he wanted to ask why, but he didn’t. His eyes drifted to the side. Though Lark appreciated that Owen respected her privacy in this matter, Lark decided to tell him anyway.

“I was covering for my cousin and, it turns out, her boyfriend.” Lark admitted.

Owen nodded; he seemed to understand her.

“That must have been hard …” Owen offered, after a few moments had passed in silence.

Lark looked at him from the side. She wasn’t exactly sure what he meant.

“… Having to be on the prison colony — you being just a child and all.” he added.

Lark looked down. She barely managed to fight back the tears all of a sudden.

“I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Lark told him. “I haven’t felt like a child in a long time.”

She inched her eyes back up to his again.

“I’ve just felt responsible for everything for so long.” Lark whispered.

Owen nodded and seemed moved by her words.

“So, how did you survive?” he asked in a deep voice.

Lark’s eyes darted.

“That’s how, huh? Joining a syndicate.” he concluded.

Lark gave him eye contact once more.

“I guess we do have that in common.” Owen acknowledged. “That’s how I did it, too. So, that means there is one good thing about a syndicate after all.”

Lark actually managed to smile. Then, Owen did, too.

 

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

 

Chapter 11

 

The night air was cool and damp, but the dark, hooded cloak that Lark was wearing cut into the sting of it.

“So, what are we doing here?” Lark queried as she and Leader Monrage stood in front of a large mansion.

“I used to respect you.” Leader Monrage stated. “What happened? One trip to this pathetic little wasteland and you forget who you are now? We created something from you, something strong and self-sufficient. And you embrace sentimentality instead? That little crying child. I mean, seriously. They have control over you if you go back to that. Now you’ve at least chosen to be what you are — at least I thought you had.”

Leader Monrage rang the doorbell.

“I guess we’ll see whether I was right about you. I guess we’ll see whether you can live up to my expectations of you after all.”

The door was opened by a butler. Leader Monrage placed his left foot upon the step and leaned forward toward the butler. The butler seemed very disturbed by this.

“Hello?” the butler uttered with an edge to his voice.

“Get Marlock.” Leader Monrage demanded.

The butler backed away slightly.

“I’ll be right back.” he responded softly.

The door was shut. Before Lark had the chance to react to the absurdity of the situation, the door was reopened. A tall, thin man dressed completely in black opened the door.

“Come in, Mr. Monrage.” he offered.

“Yeah well, next time make sure you’re the one to open the door. Unless, of course, you want questions.”

“Speaking of questions … who’s the girl?”

“She? Who knows. No really, she’s with me. She’ll be of interest to the people inside.”

Leader Monrage turned a smirk onto Lark.

“Ready?” he asked her.

Lark felt a little unnerved. People that would be interested in her? It had been a long time since Leader Monrage had turned his more sadistic attention onto her. Really, it had ended that first day when Lark had been capable of burying her emotions so far down inside herself that even Monrage couldn’t see them. Now, unfortunately, her feelings were visible to him again, and things were escalating. Still, it was important not to react to him. The more she reacted, the worse it would be.

“Fine.” Lark stated coolly. “Let’s get this over with. I have things to do.”

It was harder without the uniform to hide; it was a cover and a shield. But Lark managed.

There was a main area to the mansion, and then there was a series of darkened corridors to the left. Left was the direction Lark and Leader Monrage headed. Then, at the end of a really long hallway there was a massive door.

Marlock took out a card key and swiped it. Just as the door was unlocked, Leader Monrage pushed through the opening into what appeared to be a large room with stairs leading to a podium in the back. That’s all Lark was able to make out before the door slid shut seconds later. Lark was confused by this move of Leader Monrage’s. Marlock looked back at Lark.

“Coming?” Marlock asked in a deep voice.

Lark pulled back the hood of her cloak as she slowly stepped forward. Inside, she could hear voices.

“Yeah, I really am pleased to see that your lovely lady is here tonight. Very pleased.” Lark could hear Leader Monrage proclaim. “I have a surprise for you — a girl of my own. Not as beautiful as yours, but she’s been trying lately.”

Lark slowly pushed the heavy door forward. It squeaked open.

“Oh, here she is. I call her Twelve … Officer Twelve. But you probably know her as …”

“Lark!” a ghastly cry rang out.

Lark’s eyes lifted to the podium. A man sat on a huge throne; standing by his side was a familiar figure. Lark’s eyes met those of her delicately beautiful cousin. Lark watched as her cousin began to shake under Lark’s stare. Sympathy and concern immediately went to Celeste from the man by her side. Apparently, Lark thought, Celeste’s ability to make people feel sorry for her was still as strong as ever. But given everything that had happened, Lark was unmoved by the display.

“What? What are you doing here?” Celeste stammered.

The man next to Celeste grabbed her hand in a reassuring way.

“What is the meaning of this, Leader Monrage?” the man Lark knew to be Frederick Applegate demanded.

Leader Monrage turned and looked at Lark. Lark, in turn, stared at Celeste.

“I’m not dead, obviously. There’s no point in overreacting.” Lark said in a low voice. “Unless you’re worried about there not being a statute of limitations on theft here.”

Celeste turned a shade paler and began to shake more.

“Now, that seems more genuine.” Lark sniped.

Leader Monrage raised an eyebrow. Apparently, even with all of his intelligence, Leader Monrage hadn’t guessed at Lark’s reaction. In fact, he seemed a bit disturbed by it. Perhaps, he was suddenly worried that bringing Lark to the mansion may have actually ruined whatever plans he had with Celeste and her accomplice.

“Why should I worry about that?” Celeste called out bitterly, regaining Lark’s attention. “That case is closed now. You may have heard that someone confessed.”

Lark’s face began to flush. So, this was the truth? It was hard for Lark to believe, but Celeste actually seemed to view herself as the victim and Lark as the perpetrator. Now that there was no need for Lark, apparently there was no need for the pretense of love either. Leader Monrage cleared his throat.

“Twelve is one of my best officers and commands my fastest ship …”

“I’m not sure this is such a good idea.” Frederick informed him.

A thought seemed to occur to Leader Monrage. His eyes glistened as he detected vulnerability.

“And what choice do you have exactly?” Leader Monrage chided. “I am interested in your offer. But let’s face it — you need me I don’t need you. Whom else are you going to get that is willing and able to do this thing for you?”

Leader Monrage was getting into stride again. One of the things Lark knew about Leader Monrage was that he didn’t like to be taken off guard. Lark’s statement had done that, had almost ruined his plans. But now, he was back in control again.

“You’d think it would be a sign of good faith my bringing her to your attention. Not to mention, it’s proof she does what I tell her. It’s clear she doesn’t want to be here. Still, I don’t like to waste time.”

Leader Monrage turned as if to leave.

“Wait.” Frederick called out. “Come back tomorrow … alone. We’ll solidify the details.”

“Fair enough.” Leader Monrage remarked without turning back.

He then motioned to Lark with his eyes to follow him. She cast one more look at Celeste, who was being comforted by Frederick, before heading for the door. Leader Monrage smirked to himself with satisfaction. It was again going as he expected. Then suddenly, Leader Monrage stopped short right before the door. He turned his face toward Lark.

“By the way, you almost blew it.” Leader Monrage whispered to her.

 

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

Matthew 28

 

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
And, behold, there was [Or, had been] a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word.
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “All hail.” And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him.
Then said Jesus unto them, “Be not afraid: go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me.”
Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept.
And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Amen (St. Matthew 28: 1-20).