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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 28

Lark and her crew lay low on Colony 12 for about a week. It took that long for word to get back to Lark about the fallout from the installation’s destruction. That news would come from Waterburg’s brother, Kenneth Waterburg, who managed to escape from one of Monrage’s crews before Leader Monrage found out he was Waterburg’s sibling. Kenneth had communicated with his brother shortly after Lark and her crew left Colony 9.

Waterburg then planned for a rendezvous with his brother. It was Waterburg’s idea to meet Kenneth elsewhere lest the meeting end up being a trap of some kind. It turned out all right, and Kenneth and his cooking talents joined Lark’s crew. Kenneth, as it turned out, was a bit peeved that his brother hadn’t given him a heads-up about the destruction of the installation. Waterburg then protested that he barely knew anything about the situation before it happened, and that his brother pretty much cut off their conversation that day anyway. Plus, did Kenneth really want Monrage to find out that he had gotten the information beforehand? That was that, and Kenneth didn’t bring it up again. Still, Lark could tell that Waterburg, despite his comically antagonistic relationship with his brother, was relieved he was safe.

Of course, having two Waterburgs on board caused a bit of confusion at first since the crew members were used to calling each other by their last names. Also, Waterburg had refused to give Lark his first name. Lark never did figure out why. Still, given her lack of desire to ask questions and to have them asked of her she decided to remain silent. So, it was determined that Waterburg’s brother would just be called Kenneth — with no last name — from then on. Lark, for her part, decided not to confound the crew too much and permitted them to call her either Officer Twelve or Lark — her last name really didn’t feel like an option for her somehow. Strangely enough, the crew took to just calling her Lark rather quickly. Maybe without Monrage’s costume, the name Lark fit her better. Or, maybe they were just afraid that they could all be linked to Leader Monrage if they used the other moniker. It turned out for the best, especially given that Owen had already taken to calling her Lark. It would have been awkward if Owen were the only one who did that.

As for the story of the incident, most of what Kenneth knew was also known by Lark. However, one piece of information was new, and it concerned Lark’s cousin, Celeste.

Lark found out that Celeste had been in the area of the explosion when it occurred. Lark, for some reason, couldn’t handle not knowing what had happened to Celeste. She, therefore, decided to return to Colony 9 to find out what became of her cousin. In order not to risk her crew, she contracted for a small ship to take her there. Days later, she arrived back on Colony 9 dressed as Lark to see what she could find out. Part of her was relieved when she saw a very much alive Celeste standing amid the ashes and rubble of the installation site.

Come to see what you left of me?” a shrill voice called out to Lark, after all the other bystanders had departed the vicinity.

Lark considered briefly.

You may not believe me, but I’m glad you’re not dead.” Lark answered.

Oh, I believe you, all right. That I believe. How can I suffer unless I’m alive, right?” Celeste returned.

You might not want to stay around here.” Lark advised. “The police are bound to be looking for you and Frederick.”

Oh, so that’s your game. You want me on that prison colony. And what about you? You can be returned there, too. In fact, under the circumstances it may be worth it to me.”

Celeste started looking around for someone. Perhaps in her frantic state she was actually looking for a police officer.

I don’t exist. You saw to that.” Lark reminded her.

Celeste stared back at Lark with confusion.

How do you mean?” she asked with an eerie softness.

I’ve done my time … or should I say your time. Then, there’s Officer Twelve. Leader Monrage took her with him. He’s probably killed her by now.” Lark finished.

Too bad I couldn’t watch that.” Celeste stated.

I’m done.” Lark concluded in disgust. “I’ve done enough for you. If you want to blame me for everything, go ahead.”

I do blame you. You destroyed everything, and what was it to you?!” Celeste screeched. “That was my future you were ruining back then — you and your neediness! You wouldn’t have been much better off if I had been taken to the prison colony instead. Only one of us could have lived, so what that it was I who survived?!”

Lark was dumbfounded; Celeste was serious.

I had to do it. Leader Monrage couldn’t be allowed to keep those weapons. There was no way to know what he would do with them. Not to mention what he would have done with me.” Lark informed her.

Then, why not just turn him in?” Celeste countered.

To whom? And with what proof?”

So, this is your solution?” Celeste gestured with her arms. “This rubble? You could have killed someone — murderer!”

Lark just stared at her. It was pointless to mention how many lives would have been lost because of Celeste, Frederick, and Monrage’s actions.

You know, I’ve lost Frederick. I have no money and no house. I have nothing. What am I supposed to do now?” Celeste stammered. “Of course, you don’t know. You don’t think anything through. Nothing is your responsibility.”

Good-bye, Celeste.”

Lark was about to leave when Celeste shouted her name. Lark turned partially back toward her.

Good-bye?! I’m the one who says that. This time I’m the one who’s going to leave you!” Celeste spat. “From this day forward I no longer have a cousin, and you have another enemy.”

Celeste turned abruptly and stormed off. Lark found she was glad to see her go. Yet, she still felt that most of the conversation had been disturbing. Could Celeste really do worse to her than she had already done?

Lark.” a familiar voice called from behind her.

Lark turned to see Owen standing there.

Are you ready to go back to the ship, Commander?” Owen asked.

Lark smiled.

Owen.”

You didn’t think I’d let you come here alone, did you?” he offered. “Are you all right?”

Lark looked at him a moment.

It’s possible to go so far deep into yourself that you become lost there.” she whispered.

A moment passed, and then Owen asked, “Is that what happened to you?”

Almost …” she admitted. “Almost.”

Suddenly, Lark smiled.

Let’s go. I have one more stop to make, and then I’m through here.”

Lark went to visit her parents’ graves and to say good-bye to the people from the church. She and Owen then headed toward the cargo ship for their departure. She noticed that Owen breathed a sigh of relief when they successfully took off.

It will be nice to get home.” Lark mentioned to him.

Home?”

Our ship.” Lark said smiling. “The crew is there. And Cinnamon is there, of course. Oh, and you.” Lark beamed.

I’m glad I made the list.” he joked.

We will all have a lot of planning to do, and I want every member of the crew to be involved. I think we’ll be quite the success. Still, it’s too bad I couldn’t have paid Leader Monrage for the ship. I have this thing about stealing — particularly now.”

I think the years of forced, barely paid servitude should be compensated for somehow.”

But does it even out?”

Well, maybe someday you’ll be able to ‘pay him back’.”

Lark laughed at the way he said that.

Maybe.” she replied. “Maybe.”

Plus, you talked him out of destroying that ship … and wasting his weapon. Oh, that’s right, the weapons were destroyed.”

Weapon …” Lark repeated.

What is it?”

Just thinking that Leader Monrage never did anything until he was paid.” Lark started. “Maybe he was just grandstanding, but I remember he also mentioned something about a weapon. I wonder whether it really is one of the ones from the installation.”

***

Celeste scrounged the streets for days hiding in the alleys and trash receptacles. Life for her was misery. And what was more, she lived in fear. It had occurred to Celeste that Frederick could easily lie and blame her for the whole incident. After all, it would be easy to link her to Leader Monrage through Lark. Maybe that’s why Lark had been involved all along, so that Celeste could take the blame if the scheme fell through. Then, one day she saw a familiar figure and followed him. She couldn’t seem to help herself. She even overheard a conversation he was having. He was looking for someone they both knew.

Out of desperation, she made herself known. What could be worse than how she was living?

Leader Monrage.”

He turned, and a repulsed look crossed her face.

Well, well … you’re still alive. Sort of. I’m surprised you would lower yourself to live like this.”

Celeste flinched. She didn’t like the feeling of being pitied — when it wasn’t part of her plan at least.

Tell me.” she started, her voice barely recognizable. “Did Frederick set me up? Were you in on it with him? Was that why Lark was here?”

An odd look crossed Leader Monrage’s face when she mentioned Lark — it contorted in a grotesque way as though Officer Twelve’s former name had stabbed him.

What of her?” he stammered. Then, he remembered Celeste’s question. “No, why would I care?”

Did he know about Lark before?” she pursued softly.

Leader Monrage began to get antsy. He didn’t care about this woman.

No, not from me. Is that all?”

Celeste considered. She had been so sure. Still, did it really change anything? Frederick had felt no qualms about sending Lark to prison to save them both. Surely he would send Celeste there or have her executed to save himself. Leader Monrage turned to leave before she could respond.

Wait!” she pleaded.

What now?!” He spun around. “Don’t you dare follow me!”

I won’t … unless you want me to.”

Want you to?” he questioned her in disbelief.

You know. I was reminded the other day of where I come from.” Celeste paused. “I’m thinking now that you and I have more in common than I ever had with Frederick.”

Is that so?” Leader Monrage’s eyes flashed. “So, what exactly is it you want from me?”

I’ll do anything. Just get me out of here.” Celeste begged.

Leader Monrage took a moment to think that through.

Fortunately, I remember when you were beautiful.” he finally said while touching her face with his hand. “Maybe you can be of use to me. Well, come on. You’ll have to keep up if you want to be with me.”

Of course. You say jump …” Celeste started. “I say how high.”

Months passed … and Leader Monrage journeyed with Celeste to a place he hadn’t been for years but couldn’t get out of his head.

There you are.” Leader Monrage stated as he stared at the monitor.

I don’t know why you need me here.” Celeste answered.

Leader Monrage turned. It almost seemed as though he was startled by her. But how could that be, given that he had just spoken to her? There was no way to tell his mood. Since most of the lights in the room were turned down, his eyes remained in shadow. And he had summoned Celeste to this dark room without letting her know his purpose.

I don’t need you here, but I do want you here. I thought you’d be interested.”

Interested in what? A barely visible planet?”

I made a mistake. I see that now.” Leader Monrage stated. “She was under my control until I brought her to that planet of yours — to you.”

You’re still moping over Lark.”

Yeah, well. She was mine.” Leader Monrage turned back toward the monitor. “I trained her well. See how well she did that last day. I didn’t have the heart to destroy her — not when she did it so well — just as I would have done.”

Yeah, whatever.”

Celeste was about to turn to leave.

You did well, too. Incredibly well, in fact. I wanted to show you just how well. You see, Twelve tried to stop me. But I’m going to show her it was pointless. True, the scale is going to be smaller, but she doesn’t need to know that. She also doesn’t need to know that this was the plan — or at least part of it — from before I even knew of her existence. Then again, knowing her she’ll probably blame herself for talking me out of destroying her with the one weapon I managed to obtain. Regardless, what she does know of is this place. I don’t think she will ever forget it. And now, you won’t forget it either.”

Why don’t we go back to our room? I’m tired, but I can stay up for a while.”

That won’t be necessary. I have all I need right here.”

Well, I’m going back to the room.” She turned away from him.

Stop!” Leader Monrage yelled.

Celeste stopped.

I want you to see what you’ve contributed to.”

Me? I haven’t done anything. It was Frederick.”

Celeste’s eyes had adjusted enough to the light that when she turned back she saw an intense Monrage staring back at her.

We’ll see whether you still believe that after …” He paused. “We’re almost in range. You set all this in motion for me. True, I lost Twelve and a ship, but I did get this weapon because of you …”

So, you’re going to destroy that dinky planet?”

No … not directly anyway. Though, they’ll probably wish I had.”

Celeste looked at him skeptically as he started a countdown. He then grabbed Celeste by the arms, so she couldn’t turn away.

Remember this is all because of you.” Leader Monrage insisted. “And just in case you try to blame Twelve for this, you can’t. It’s all you and me. That’s what this little demonstration is meant to show you, and I won’t let you change that.”

You should be blaming that guy she was kissing instead of me.”

What guy?” Monrage demanded in a dark tone.

Celeste was taken aback for a moment.

I don’t know. How should I know? The point is she betrayed you!” Celeste screamed.

Leader Monrage sighed.

But only because you betrayed her first.” He glared at her with ferocity. “But don’t worry. I won’t destroy you for it, but you may destroy yourself before this is all over.”

What is that?” Celeste demanded in a disturbed tone of voice.

Leader Monrage released Celeste then turned from her. Now that he had gotten her interest, there was no need to detain her further.

They took most of my weapons and think they’ve won. I’m about to unleash the ultimate weapon.” Leader Monrage explained. “There are more of these scattered throughout the galaxy, but I can’t free them all now. My down payment is only enough to destroy one of the force fields. I chose this one because it’s weak and because it means something to me.”

Celeste blinked. The reality of what she was viewing had just started to sink in. Leader Monrage turned back briefly to grin at her as he reached his hand out to press a button on the console.

Wait, no!” Celeste cried out in horror.

Leader Monrage pushed the button without hesitation. He then zoomed in the camera toward where the weapon had gone. There was an explosion. Celeste squinted at the image. Then, as it became clear in her sight, she screamed again.

Relax. It’s much too far from us. We’ll be able to escape long before they even realize we’re here. Too bad the same can’t be said of that planet.”

He then walked behind where Celeste was standing and began massaging her shoulders.

I just wanted to see the nebula reapers freed.” He hissed in her ear. “I can relate more to them than people, you know. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Beautiful.”

And hence it began.

End of Book One.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 27

The target is within view.” Jensen stated. “ETA … two minutes.”

And our pursuer?” Lark asked. “When will he be within firing range of us?”

At our current speed … one minute.”

Can we increase speed?” Lark questioned.

Yes, but not without compromising our ability to hit the target. It could stray into another district.” Jensen brought up.

Lark stared at the screen for a moment.

Officer Twelve?”

Power us down.”

Down?” Owen confirmed.

Yes, Smythe’s ship doesn’t have our maneuverability. Right, Captain?” Lark mentioned.

Right.”

You can handle it then.”

Yes. I can handle it.” Owen assured her.

Then, use evasive maneuvers between the buildings. It may take us a little longer to get to the installation, but at least we’ll get there. Ready the counter weapons for any confrontation that occurs after the installation is destroyed.”

Lark braced herself as the ship flew through the comparatively narrow spaces. Each turn seemed to be too tight to make. Somehow, Owen managed to stay clear of the obstacles; though, the cruiser did skirt along the structures’ edges more than once. For most of the crew, it was too stressful to watch. But Lark couldn’t seem to remove her eyes from the screen. Strangely, it was almost as though she were watching her own life moving along. So many times it seemed she had been heading for total disaster. Yet, at that moment, she felt a sort of assurance that somehow they were going to make it through all this and come out of it okay.

The installation is coming within range.” Owen mentioned after several minutes had passed.

Scan the building for signs of life.”

None detected.” Jensen responded.

Set the coordinates for the radiation containment shield and deploy it.”

Right … it’s done.” Jensen returned. “Officer, we’re now upon the target. I’m locking on.”

All right then. Take out the installation.” Lark ordered.

“… It’s done.”

The pretty, speckled lights of the streetlamps were soon replaced by a hot, piercing light. Finally, the light was gone, and the crew of Lark’s ship was left with the darkness.

I hope no one was down there.” Lark mentioned softly.

It didn’t take long for the scanner to pick up on the presence of another ship. Though it was still out of range in terms of its weapons, it was coming fast upon them. Jensen zoomed in on the image, which he projected onto the monitor. It was Leader Monrage’s ship.

We’re being hailed.” Jensen stated.

I’m not surprised.” Lark said. “He couldn’t destroy us without letting us know about it first.”

Will he destroy us?” somebody questioned.

If he can … unless it isn’t worth it to him …” She paused briefly. “Put Leader Monrage up on the monitor.” Lark commanded.

Jensen did, and a rage-filled Monrage appeared on the screen. He started spitting venom towards Lark.

Leader Monrage, you may want to reconsider wasting your time pursuing me.” Lark stated coolly. “I know you have sent Smythe after me, but under the circumstances you may want to make plans for your escape instead. The explosion has no doubt alerted the Security Force. And now that you have no incentive to complete the mission …” Lark trailed off. “Unless, of course, you think I’m worth going back to the prison colony for. Bear in mind, this time you might never leave that place.”

Leader, should we use the weapon on Officer Twelve’s ship? We can’t let them get away with this, can we?” someone off-screen asked.

Leader Monrage’s lip quivered. Then suddenly, he got a hold of himself. He considered for a moment.

No, they’re not worth it. I have other plans for this weapon. Believe me, if I had the entire cache of weapons I would.”

The monitor went dead. Lark sat back in her chair and breathed. Then suddenly, Lark removed her contact lenses and crushed them under her feet.

Incoming, Officer Twelve. Smythe has managed to lock onto us.” Jensen spoke up.

Disperse the counter weapons.”

All right …”

Lark, once again, held her breath for a moment.

The oppositional weapons have been neutralized.” Jensen sighed in relief.

Good. We’re going to ascend now. We need to get into space and away from here.” Lark informed the crew.

What about Leader Monrage? He’s still out there.” Jensen wondered.

We don’t have a choice. We can’t stay around here; we’ll be sent to prison.”

We’re criminals?” Jensen asked.

Not really.” Lark said. “But people don’t always know the truth.” Lark paused. “Get us out of here, Captain Smithson, as fast as you can.”

What about fuel?” Jensen worried.

We’ll get it at the nearest refueling station. I’m fairly certain it isn’t that far away.”

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF

JUDE

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints,

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

And of some have compassion, making a difference:

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen (Jude: 1-25).

Acts 6

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the Synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake.

Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the Council,

And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the Law:

For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

And all that sat in the Council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6: 1-15).

Isaiah 48

“Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.

“For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is His name.

“I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.

“Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;

“I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, ‘Mine idol hath done them; and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.’

“Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.

“They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’

“Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.

“For My name’s sake will I defer Mine anger, and for My praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

“For Mine own sake, even for Mine own sake, will I do it: for how should My name be polluted? and I will not give My glory unto another.

“Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.

“Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

“All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be on the Chaldeans.

“I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and He shall make his way prosperous.

“Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and His Spirit, hath sent Me.”

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; “I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

“O that thou hadst hearkened to My commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

“Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before Me.”

Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, “The LORD hath redeemed His servant Jacob.”

And they thirsted not when He led them through the deserts: He caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: He clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.

There is no peace,” saith the LORD, “unto the wicked.” (Isaiah 48: 1-22)

Luke 11

And it came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

And He said unto them, “When ye pray, say, ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

“‘Give us day by day [Or, for the day] our daily bread.

“‘And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.’ ”

And He said unto them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;

“For a friend of mine in his journey [Or, out of his way] is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him’?

“And he from within shall answer and say, ‘Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.’

“I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

“Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”

And He was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.

But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.

And others, tempting Him, sought of Him a sign from heaven.

But He, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.

“If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

“And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.

“But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:

“But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

“He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, ‘I will return unto my house whence I came out.’

“And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.

“Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

And it came to pass, as He spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked.

But He said, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”

And when the people were gathered thick together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

“For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation.

“The Queen of the South shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

“The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.

“The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

“If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.”

And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him: and He went in, and sat down to meat.

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that He had not first washed before dinner.

And the Lord said unto him, “Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also?

“But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

“But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

“Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto Him, Master, thus saying Thou reproachest us also.

And He said, “Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

“Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

“Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

“Therefore also said the wisdom of God, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

“That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;

“From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.’

“Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered [Or, forbear].”

And as He said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things:

Laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth, that they might accuse Him (Luke 11: 1-54).

Acts 5

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.

And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.

There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation [Or, envy],

And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life.

And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the Council together, and all the Senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,

Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the Council: and the high priest asked them,

Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.

When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

Then stood there up one in the Council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the Law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed [Or, believed] him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

And they departed from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ (Acts 5: 1-42).