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Luke 4

 

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days He did eat nothing: and when they were ended, He afterward hungered.

And the devil said unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

And Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘THAT MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD OF GOD.’ ”

And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

And the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, ‘THOU SHALT WORSHIP THE LORD THY GOD, AND HIM ONLY SHALT THOU SERVE.’ ”

And he brought Him to Jerusalem, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down from hence:

For it is written, “HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER THEE, TO KEEP THEE”:

And “IN THEIR HANDS THEY SHALL BEAR THEE UP, LEST AT ANY TIME THOU DASH THY FOOT AGAINST A STONE.”

And Jesus answering said unto him, “It is said, ‘THOU SHALT NOT TEMPT THE LORD THY GOD.’ ”

And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about.

And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and stood up for to read.

And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,

“‘THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE HATH ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR; HE HATH SENT ME TO HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, TO PREACH DELIVERANCE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERING OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET AT LIBERTY THEM THAT ARE BRUISED,

“‘TO PREACH THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.’ ”

And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him.

And He began to say unto them, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

And He said unto them, “Ye will surely say unto Me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Thy country.’ ”

And He said, “Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

“But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;

“But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

“And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.”

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

And rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow [Or, edge] of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong.

But He passing through the midst of them went His way,

And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath Days.

And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power.

And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

Saying, Let us alone [Or, Away]; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God.

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.

And the fame of Him went out into every place of the country round about.

And He arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought Him for her.

And He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.

Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them.

And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And He rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that He was Christ.

And when it was day, He departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought Him, and came unto Him, and stayed Him, that He should not depart from them.

And He said unto them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.”

And He preached in the synagogues of Galilee (Luke 4: 1-44).

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Daniel 12

 

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

And they that be wise [Or, teachers] shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.

And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?

And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half [Or, part]; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days (Daniel 12: 1-13).

Daniel 11

 

Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.

And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.

And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.

And the king of the South shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.

And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the South shall come to the king of the North to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.

But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the North, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:

And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North.

So the king of the South shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.

But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.

And the king of the South shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the North: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.

And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.

For the king of the North shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.

And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the South: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.

So the king of the North shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the South shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.

But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the Glorious Land, which by his hand shall be consumed.

He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.

After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.

Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

Then shall stand up in his estate [Or, in his place] a raiser of taxes in the Glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.

And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.

And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.

And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.

He shall enter peaceably [Or, into the peaceable and fat.] even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.

And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army; and the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.

Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.

And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.

Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.

At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the South; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.

For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate [Or, astonisheth].

And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt [Or, cause to dissemble] by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.

Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.

And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.

And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

But in his estate [Or, But in his stead] shall he honour the God of forces [Or, munitions]: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.

Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

And at the time of the end shall the king of the South push at him: and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

He shall enter also into the Glorious Land [Or, Goodly Land], and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.

He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.

But tidings out of the East and out of the North shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious [Or, goodly] Holy Mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him (Daniel 11: 1-45).

Isaiah 40

 

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people,” saith your God.

“Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare [Or, appointed time] is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight [Or, a straight place], and the rough places plain [Or, a plain place]:

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand [Or, against the strong], and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young [Or, that give suck].

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being His counsellor hath taught Him?

With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and shewed to Him the way of understanding?

Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity.

To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?

The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.

Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is He that sitteth [Or, Him that sitteth] upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

That bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and He shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.

“To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal?” saith the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth.

Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40: 1-31).

PSALM 25

A Psalm of David.

 

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.

O my God, I trust in Thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

Shew me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths.

Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day.

Remember, O LORD, Thy tender mercies and Thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.

Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will He teach sinners in the way.

The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.

All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.

For Thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.

What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall He teach in the way that he shall choose.

His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant.

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn Thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.

The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring Thou me out of my distresses.

Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.

O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in Thee.

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on Thee.

Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 16

Lark could remember the first time she saw the uniform. She remembered thinking how bizarre it looked. The dress and the cape were odd enough — but it was the face paint and contact lenses that made it bizarre. While looking in the mirror, Lark thought her eyes looked sort of like a cat’s or maybe a snake’s eyes.

“Why?” she exhaled.

Though her voice was barely audible, Leader Monrage pounced on her words as though she shouted them.

“We need to strike fear into our enemies. I can’t have some cute kid running around.”

Lark picked up the outfit in her hands.

“Oh, and I want you to introduce yourself as Officer Twelve from now on. No more Lark.”

Lark looked up at him with a disturbed expression.

“What do you mean?”

“Weren’t you listening?! You’re a new person. Officer Twelve is your identity now.”

Lark had thought the need for her moniker would be over once they left the prison colony. She looked at the uniform once more. What could she say to that? She needed time to think.

“Why don’t you get dressed? My brother got us these things. It will please him if you wear them. It will please me. I’ll leave you to it then …”

After Leader Monrage left, Lark just stared at the uniform for a moment. She was completely numb. But really what choice did she have? She couldn’t leave the room without having the uniform on. So, she put it on slowly. The last things she put on were the contact lenses. They weren’t a prescription; they were just tinted plastic. They were meant to create an effect. Since they were so darkly tinted, they would be hard to get used to, Lark thought. How could she wear them every day for the rest of her life? There was no mirror in this room, so she could only imagine what she looked like. Lark breathed. There was no point in waiting around here until Leader Monrage came to get her. Lark finally made her way to the door.

Instantly, when she stepped across the threshold she could sense a presence to her left. She turned a glare onto the figure. It was Leader Monrage standing just to the side of the door; he was leaning against the wall. He was clearly lurking there waiting for her. Yet, when he saw her glare at him, his reaction surprised Lark — he actually seemed excited. He smiled broadly.

“Well then, that will be effective.” Leader Monrage admitted. “Come on, my brother is waiting. This is just the beginning. He’s impressed by my plans; I can tell. So, he’s going to set us up in his smuggling business.”

Lark raised an eyebrow.

“We’re even getting our own ship. Face it, Twelve, we’re on our way up. They’ll be no stopping our little group now.”

Things had been going pretty well with Leader Monrage’s brother. It was a surprise to Lark how well. Still, Oliver Bertrand, Leader Monrage’s brother, was pretty stoical. It was hard to know what he was thinking let alone feeling. Outwardly, however, he always seemed pleased whenever Leader Monrage entered the room. Secretly, Lark wondered whether he wasn’t afraid of Leader Monrage. Maybe she was merely projecting her own feelings onto Oliver Bertrand, but it occurred to Lark that his brother was just humoring Leader Monrage until he left. Then again, maybe Leader Monrage knew that. Maybe that’s why he was so giddy. He knew that, for some reason, he could get what he wanted from his brother, and he was enjoying himself because of it. It was clear to Lark that Leader Monrage had no intention of leaving until he was ready to go.

In the meantime, it was clear that Leader Monrage’s group hadn’t had it this good in years — if ever. The food, the amenities, and the accommodations were all top-notch. It certainly worked to keep the former convicts entertained and everything relatively calm. But there was always this tension around, and it felt as though Leader Monrage could light the fuse anytime he wanted to. Perhaps it was the smirk Leader Monrage always seemed to wear as he stalked the halls. Oliver Bertrand did have security staff members, but they didn’t seem as formidable as Leader Monrage’s crew.

As Lark and Leader Monrage entered his brother’s office, Oliver Bertrand looked a bit surprised to see Lark. Still, there seemed to be a little relief in his eyes when he recognized her.

“Bro, may I present Officer Twelve.”

“It seems as though you got what you wanted.” his brother started.

“Yes, well. It’s a start.” Monrage acknowledged.

“So, why don’t you two have a seat?”

“Don’t mind if I do.” Leader Monrage stated. “Twelve, you may sit down, too.”

Lark just looked at Leader Monrage a moment. Then, she sat down in the chair next to him and across from his brother.

“So, should we talk about that plan we discussed before?” Leader Monrage pursued.

“Ah, yes, the ship. What exactly is it you think you need?”

“I want something fast, but that has enough room in it. You know, for the smuggling.”

Leader Monrage said this last part in a whisper — sort of a mock confidential tone. Oliver Bertrand rapped his fingers upon his desk.

“I see, of course, the smuggling. You know, we call it transport …”

“I don’t like the word transport — you know given everything.” Leader Monrage countered, his expression feigning offense. Leader Monrage sat back in his chair.

“Yes. Well, I can order you a craft such as the one you specified, but it will take at least a week. Still, I can have it made to your specifications.”

“That’s great. I’m in no hurry … unless of course you know something I don’t.”

“No, I haven’t heard of anyone coming here to look for you. Though, I suppose anything is possible.”

“And those guards from the transport carrier — you’re sure they don’t know where we are? I mean, if they talk it will be on you. You’re the one who insisted we deposit them safely somewhere else.”

“If they’ve figured out where you landed, it wasn’t from me.” Oliver Bertrand insisted. “I don’t think you should worry about it.”

“But they may know we’re brothers.”

“If they know that, then they’d probably know that this planet doesn’t cooperate with the Security Force, especially now.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’m counting on …” Leader Monrage stated. “By the way, what does ‘especially now’ mean?”

Oliver Bertrand’s eyes turned to the side.

“You know, the politics has always been strained here. The king is old and has taken ill; he is without an heir. And as you know, there are so many families that have claims to the throne. We don’t need complications from outsiders.”

“Yes, and if I remember correctly our family has one of those claims. Don’t tell me you have aspirations to be a figurehead, Oliver.”

“I will do what’s best for the colony.” Oliver Bertrand responded.

“Ha! You couldn’t keep me tied down to this rock. I would rather make myself king of wherever I place my feet. Other people’s needs aren’t my thing. Of course, that would work for you — less competition.”

“Yes.” Oliver Bertrand nodded. “You’re probably right about that.”

“Well, I guess that’s all for now. Oh yes, I do have a list of supplies I will need from you.”

Oliver Bertrand reached for the list.

“I will work on this.” he assured Leader Monrage.

“Good. I’m glad to hear it. You know, this visit has been better than I expected, Oliver. Much better.”

Oliver Bertrand nodded again.

“Now, who do we have here?” Leader Monrage began.

He had caught sight of something of interest to him near the doorway. It was around then that I first came into the picture. I was only six at the time, nearly seven. My long blonde hair was kept in a loose ponytail. My green eyes were filled with curiosity. I wore a typical school uniform for my colony, even though I was being homeschooled at the time. The outfit was navy blue with bright red cuffs on the sleeves. The buttons were also red. I had only come to see my father but wound up stumbling upon his brother, Leader Monrage, and a strange-looking young woman, who was sitting next to him.

“Hmmm … that’s right. Your wife, Margaret, was pregnant before I left.” Leader Monrage acknowledged. Lark could tell Oliver Bertrand seemed unnerved to be discussing his daughter with Leader Monrage.

“Aurore.” my father stated. “Her name is Aurore, and she is supposed to be with her tutor.”

“She let me go early. I got my work done.” I told my father.

“All right.” my father smiled. “Come shake hands with Uncle Leader Monrage and his friend.”

I headed over to the two visitors to do that which my father requested.

“I’m pleased to meet you.” Lark told me as I grabbed her hand.

She looked even younger up close. “She can’t be a grown-up,” I remember thinking.

“I’m pleased to meet you, Miss …” I responded. I have to admit I was staring at her eyes.

“Lark.” the girl said. Then suddenly, Lark threw a concerned look toward Leader Monrage.

“Officer Twelve!” Leader Monrage exclaimed through his gritted teeth.

“Officer Twelve.” Lark corrected herself.

I tried to smile at Lark reassuringly. Next, I shook Leader Monrage’s hand, too. Though by then, he seemed to have lost interest in me.

“You know, I think I might have another list in me.” Leader Monrage said, releasing my hand.

“Aurore, go find your mother. We have more business to discuss.” my father informed me.

 

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

 

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 15

 

“You seem deep in thought.” Owen began as he and Lark walked down the street and away from the restaurant. Lark looked up at him.

“I am.”

“Have you thought much about what we talked about?”

“No, refresh my memory. What did we talk about?”

“What Leader Monrage is up to here …” Owen responded.

“You should be careful.” Lark replied coolly. “If he finds out that you’re asking about him, he’ll turn on you. You don’t want that.”

“And who’s going to tell him?” Owen eyed her.

Lark looked at him intently.

“Not me. I don’t talk to him unless I have to.”

“Hmmm …”

“It can’t be a surprise that we don’t really get along.” Lark said.

“Then, why do you stay?”

Lark could feel herself ringing her hands. Suddenly, she stopped in the middle of the street. Owen stopped as well and turned around.

“Say I wanted to escape …” Lark started. “Where would I go?”

“I don’t know, but you have a star cruiser — a fast one.”

It was amazing to Lark that this man was so candid. True, he wasn’t speaking loudly, but he was speaking in the open air. Anyone could be listening. Lark looked around her. The only people she could see were far enough down the street that they were out of earshot. Chances were that Owen had noticed the same thing. Still, had Lark become paranoid and overly fearful living with Leader Monrage all this time? No, there was reason to fear him. There were plenty of instances to provide reason.

“You know, the thing of it is that Leader Monrage could get you and the rest of us into a lot of trouble. You should know better than anyone how strict some of the laws are here.” Owen mentioned.

Lark looked at him with curiosity.

“It would seem to me pretty reckless for a man to choose to start a scheme here of all places, especially given his stint at the prison colony. Not to mention that he must be aware of what happened to you. What could possibly be worth that kind of risk? Unless, like I said, the man is reckless.” Owen added.

Lark’s eyes shifted to the side.

“Lark, I can tell you’re afraid of him. But is he really worse than possibly being executed?”

Lark cocked her head slightly to the side.

“You really think that what he’s up to is as bad as all that?” Lark pondered. “I mean, the only reasons to be executed here are murder and treason.”

Owen looked down.

“You’d know better than I would. You went with him to his meeting.”

Suddenly, Lark wondered whether she could trust Owen. Why was he so curious about Leader Monrage?

“So, that’s the reason you came looking for me?”

“Part of it.” Owen replied.

“Well …” Lark began, looking down. “I’m not privy to what he’s doing. I just know it involves my cousin and the man she betrayed me for.”

Owen looked surprised.

“It’s getting to be that time.” Lark said with a chill to her voice. “If we don’t return to the ship soon, we’ll be sleeping on the street tonight.”

When she got back to her room, Lark thought a lot about what Owen had said. Part of Owen’s motivation for asking so many questions may have been fear. The laws on Colony 9 were notoriously strict. Risking that kind of punishment really didn’t make sense for him or the rest of the crew. But mainly, Lark began to actively think about what Leader Monrage could be up to. One thing was for sure, Lark had no intention of being convicted of another criminal offense because of her cousin.

“So, what could Leader Monrage be doing here?” Lark pondered aloud. Just after they escaped the prison colony, he would rattle on about ideas he had. He’d have off the wall schemes — most of which made no sense. Lark would force herself to listen. After all, if she didn’t listen and he quizzed her on what he had said then she would be punished. Still, none of what he ever said had anything to do with Colony 9; she would have remembered that. Lark had assumed later, once she knew they were coming here, that he’d been scant with the details because of Lark’s history with this place. Now, it occurred to Lark that he was not even close to being that sensitive. In fact, Leader Monrage’s taking Lark to see her cousin was more of a true reflection of where he was coming from. Lark could tell that he enjoyed watching her reaction — that was up to the point where Lark went too far and jeopardized his plan.

Maybe the real question was what Frederick Applegate had to offer Leader Monrage. Lark had found out that Frederick Applegate was wealthy and related to powerful people. Lark had been given the equivalent of a death sentence for stealing his aunt’s diamond broach. But why did Frederick steal from his own family? The thrill of it? He didn’t want to ask for the money? Perhaps he wouldn’t have gotten anything if he did ask? But if he were on the outs with the powerful people on Colony 9, then what could he offer Leader Monrage?

Perhaps he wasn’t on the outs with his family later on but was back then? Certainly, if Frederick’s family had found out about what either he or Celeste had done, he would have risked losing any power he did have. In a way, even being related to the thief wouldn’t help Celeste’s position with Frederick’s family. Then again, maybe Celeste could persuade them to feel sorry for her. Celeste had a delicate beauty like a china doll. The sad tale of how her bad seed cousin went astray could endear her to people already inclined to be fooled. Still, it would probably be better for Celeste if Lark had never reappeared again — not that Lark cared about that at this point.

In the end, Lark concluded that Celeste really did have no cause for concern. After all, look what Lark was up to now and whom she was hanging out with. It just reinforced the idea that she, Lark, had been the problem all along. How strange it was. Lark had tried to save her cousin. No, she had, in fact, saved her cousin, and now she was the problem.

Either way, Lark was sure Celeste and Frederick must have something to offer Leader Monrage, or he wouldn’t be here. Leader Monrage, likewise, must be bringing something to the table. Even by what little he said, it would seem Lark was a part of that something. Lark shook her head. There was anger in the pit of her stomach. Help her cousin with another scheme? Lark wrung her hands. Leader Monrage would get his jollies forcing Lark to do that. Still, even he didn’t seem to know all the details of Lark’s past. Now, he would have to worry that Lark wouldn’t go through with it.

There was a hard knock on her bedroom door. Lark could tell who it was instantly. She went over to the door and opened it reluctantly.

“You’re still dressed like that?” Leader Monrage demanded bitterly.

Lark kept her left hand clasped securely on the door. She just stared at him.

“I remember when you weren’t this defiant towards me.” Leader Monrage started. “Were you faking who you were before?”

Lark forced herself not to roll her eyes. How could he even be serious? Leader Monrage had never accepted reality. Every time he sensed criticism of himself, he would punish the critic. There had been a time when Lark had been isolated and kept squarely under his thumb. So, she hid herself from him lest he find fault with her. Now, he had the nerve to act as though she betrayed him about it?

“Perhaps I’ve given you too much slack these days.” Leader Monrage added.

So, that was what it was — a threat to control her again. While part of Lark wanted to withdraw, she chose to stand stiffly in front of him instead. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of backing down.

“There will be a party tomorrow night. You will be going. Our customers need to know that you’re over your past. Since you will be there under official capacity, you will wear your uniform then as you will every time I see you from now on. That’s an order not a request.” Leader Monrage spat.

Leader Monrage wrenched Lark’s arm.

“Then again, maybe you’d like me to tattoo the pattern on your face.”

Lark shook her head.

“Good. Then, there won’t be a problem.”

Leader Monrage released her. He then turned and walked down the hall towards the control room.

Lark looked over at her hand, which was now shaking. She shut the door and locked it. She had to wear the uniform. It would probably make Celeste feel better. After all, Celeste could pretend Lark really did steal that broach and brought this whole thing on herself. Celeste did nothing wrong; she was the victim. How many times Lark wished her parents were alive! This time was no different. Lark was desperate to have someone to talk to, to hold her, to make it right. She cried that night upon her bed with Cinnamon by her side. By the time morning came, she resolved to change things somehow. She would pray for a way out of the situation with Leader Monrage. She knew one thing; she wouldn’t be the person he and her cousin wanted her to be anymore.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015