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Isaiah 45

Thus saith the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden [Or, strengthened], to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

“For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I am surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me.

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me:

“That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

“Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.

“Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, ‘What makest thou?’ or thy work, ‘He hath no hands?’

“Woe unto him that saith unto his father, ‘What begettest thou?’ or to the woman, ‘What hast thou brought forth?’ ”

Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, “Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands command ye Me.

“I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their hosts have I commanded.

“I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward,” saith the LORD of hosts.

Thus saith the LORD, “The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, ‘Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.’ ”

Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.

They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.

But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD; and there is none else.

“I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek ye Me in vain’: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.

“Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

“I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

“Surely, shall one say, ‘in the LORD have I righteousness and strength’: even to Him shall men come; and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed.

“In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” (Isaiah 45: 1-25)

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Luke 9

Then He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

And He said unto them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.

“And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.

“And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.”

And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;

And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.

And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see Him.

And the apostles, when they were returned, told Him all that they had done. And He took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

And the people, when they knew it, followed Him: and He received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.

And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto Him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.

But He said unto them, “Give ye them to eat.” And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.

For they were about five thousand men. And He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down by fifties in a company.”

And they did so, and made them all sit down.

Then He took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.

And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.

And it came to pass, as He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him: and He asked them, saying, “Whom say the people that I am?”

They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.

He said unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answering said, The Christ of God.

And He straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;

Saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.”

And He said to them all, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.

“For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

“For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

“But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.”

And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering.

And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias:

Who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.

But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw His glory, and the two men that stood with Him.

And it came to pass, as they departed from Him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.

While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.

And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son: hear Him.”

And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met Him.

And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech Thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.

And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.

And I besought Thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

And Jesus answering said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.”

And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.

And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, He said unto His disciples,

“Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men.”

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying.

Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by Him,

And said unto them, “Whosoever shall receive this child in My name receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me receiveth Him that sent Me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.”

And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

And Jesus said unto him, “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”

And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,

And sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him.

And they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem.

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

“For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went to another village.

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.

And Jesus said unto him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.”

And He said unto another, “Follow Me.” But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Jesus said unto him, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”

And another also said, Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

And Jesus said unto him, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9: 1-62)

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 24

 

They all headed to the conference room as a group. Then, they sat down and waited. Leader Monrage had yet to show up. Eventually, he did appear with a small group of unknown men. He seemed a bit surprised and maybe a tad annoyed when he saw them all there together waiting for him.

Unfortunately, Leader Monrage then began to prepare the papers at his table … slowly. It seemed to Lark that he was purposefully wasting time. After everything was put where he wanted it on his table, he engaged in prolonged small talk with his group. This caused Jensen to grow antsy. Lark turned her eyes toward Jensen in disbelief. Eventually, Jensen’s distracted eyes fell upon hers. Afterward, he immediately straightened up and stopped fidgeting. Luckily, he relaxed his appearance just in time for Leader Monrage to begin his presentation. Monrage would not have tolerated any distraction from the audience. What was more, he would have demanded to know the reason for it.

Everyone watched as Leader Monrage turned to a nearby man and nodded. The man in question had a list; he started approaching Lark’s crew with it. The man seemed to ask each crew member a question. As the unknown man neared, Lark could hear him asking for each person’s name. Lark managed to get eye contact with Jensen after the man asked for his name. It was clear by the look they exchanged they both knew Lark had made the right decision insisting that Jensen attend the meeting. In fact, Jensen looked downright ashen as he considered what could have happened had he not come. He started staring into space.

Well then, seems we’re all here. Now, we can get down to business. We have a new assignment for which we will need the entire syndicate.” Leader Monrage began leering at Lark. “We’re going to be attacking certain key positions for our customer. The reward we receive will be very advantageous to our syndicate. We have copied each crew’s assignment onto a disk. You’ll be given the disk to insert into your computer at 1700 today.”

Lark was taken aback. Today? Lark had been hoping that Owen was wrong about the mission being moved up. And to make matters worse, the time Monrage had set for them to go forward with his plan was a mere six hours away. Could they even be ready in that amount of time? What if Leader Monrage decided to babysit them until the appointed time?

The disk will create navigational coordinates for your part of the mission. It will also give you instructions on what exactly you’ll have to do for me. There shouldn’t be any questions, so don’t ask any now.”

Jensen looked relieved by how quickly Monrage had finished. He had apparently accepted Lark’s theory about Monrage’s plan as fact and, therefore, wasn’t surprised by the content of his speech. He seemed more concerned about the computer program he left running. Unfortunately, Jensen’s relief was short-lived.

So, since I have you all here, and you’re all so interested in protocols — I have created a handbook, which details the goals for our syndicate after we successfully complete this mission. Yes, this should be very fun. Oh, and be sure to pay attention; there might be a quiz at the end.”

The entire crew just stared blankly ahead not offering an obvious reaction. Lark knew that Leader Monrage was basically blaming them and their manual reading for having to go through with this lecture. Though Lark knew he couldn’t possibly have gotten this whole handout done in an hour, blaming people for their own suffering was just Leader Monrage’s way. However, Lark was a bit concerned about Jensen. Once again, he was becoming agitated. His eyes were huge, and there was a look of disbelief plastered on his face. He then leaned his face against his left hand and stared at Leader Monrage. Lark had a feeling that this was going to be a particularly grueling meeting.

After a long time had passed, it became clear that Leader Monrage was struggling to find something else to say. His sentences became more and more scattered and nonsensical. It actually started to get a little disturbing. Eventually, he sighed. His eyes looked down briefly then darted around the room.

Okay, well, that seems like it for now. I guess you all can go. If I think of something later, I can always call you back here. There’s still plenty of time before 1700. In the meantime, I’ll be on my own ship.” Suddenly, his eyes seemed to lose focus, and for at least fifteen minutes he stared unseeingly into space. No one wanted to say anything to him. All were silent. Eventually, he began to thaw from his stupor. “Anyway, you’re all dismissed. So, leave already.”

Monrage made a movement with his hand as though he were shooing them all away. Still, no one wanted to be the first one to stand.

What’s wrong with you? I said go!” he screamed.

Lark stood with a cold, indifferent look on her face; she glided smoothly toward the door. The crew filed in behind her. It made Lark feel comforted; it felt as though the crew was on her side. After a short time, one of the crew members gained on Lark. It was Jensen. He walked quickly toward the control room. Lark watched as he unlocked the door with his own key. Then, he disappeared inside.

Lark found him at the console upon entering the room. Then swiftly, she turned her attention away from him and toward the corner. She checked to make sure that her scrambling device was still working. Lark found the pale red glow from the button to be reassuring.

Thank goodness it hasn’t been breached yet!” Jensen declared. “I would hate to have left open a connection that could easily be traced back. I had no idea that meeting would take so long; I never would have left it running had I known. Oh, man! I thought for sure I would be too late.”

Lark wondered to herself how anyone could think an official meeting by Leader Monrage wouldn’t take a long time. Then, she realized that not many people had the same type of experience with Leader Monrage that she had — very rarely were crew members asked to attend meetings such as these. Lark sat down in the commander’s chair. Her brain was in a bit of a fog. Having to listen to Leader Monrage’s rant had taken its toll. It was one thing to be in a room with someone who wouldn’t stop talking; it was another thing entirely to have to listen to that person. After all, if Leader Monrage picked up on the fact that she was tuning him out, it would most assuredly set him off.

There!” Jensen declared aloud. He laughed robustly.

Then, he looked around the room at the worried faces of the others and started talking in a more normal tone. Lark was grateful he wasn’t whispering, though. That would have been too suspicious should someone have entered the room suddenly.

Lark went to the screen and had a look at the schematics. There it was as plain as day — the exact location of the weapons Leader Monrage coveted.

I wonder whether the location we’ve been ordered to go to by Leader Monrage is anywhere close to there. Why do I think it won’t be.” Lark mentioned.

Owen came up behind her.

If you’re right, that means we’ll have to break off from formation.” he added softly.

We won’t have much time then.” Lark said. “I think it’s safe to assume we’re basically trapped on the star cruiser now. And even if we weren’t, it’s too late to come up with a way to break into the installation and deactivate the weapons ourselves. So, we’ll have to destroy the installation from the air. Of course, that means we’ll have to be prepared to fend off some ships in case they come after us.”

So, you think my brother’s ship will attack us?” Waterburg asked.

Lark and Owen turned towards him.

I don’t know.” Lark admitted. “But it’s not as though we’re looking to destroy anyone — just prevent them from destroying us. Speaking of which …” Lark paused briefly. “Will there be any projected casualties at the facility?”

Doesn’t look like it.” Jensen replied. “Most of the security is automated. The system is monitored by a computer team off-site. The few workers on-site go home by 1700. I guess that’s not a coincidence.”

Good then. We have a plan.” Lark concluded.

Time seemed to inch by. Then, just before the designated time, a messenger arrived with a disk. He asked to speak to Officer Twelve. Lark went to the door, and the man handed her the disk.

Be sure to wait until exactly 1700 before you insert the disk.” the man directed her.

Lark looked at him in disbelief. Would Leader Monrage really go to the trouble of trying to tell when the disk was inserted? And why should he care at this point? It was not that long until 1700. Lark thought this could be just another example of how Leader Monrage loved contrived rules. Then again, maybe he just wanted them to believe he could tell what they were up to. That would fit his pattern of behavior as well.

All right. Thanks.” Lark said. “Is there anything else?”

No, that’s it.” the messenger replied.

Okay, 1700. I got it.”

After the man continued to linger, Lark just turned her back on him and returned to her chair. After a few moments, she could hear him leaving. She turned and looked back just to be sure.

All right.” Lark said. “We have the disk.”

She handed it to Jensen.

Now, it’s really going to come down to you and Owen. You’re the ones who will be doing most of the work to pull off our mission.”

Yes.” Owen agreed.

Yes.” Jensen replied with slight trepidation. “I guess it does come down to that now, doesn’t it?”

There were ten minutes left until 1700. It was the slowest ten minutes Lark could remember. She could tell that Jensen in particular was feeling the strain of anticipation. Whether Owen, who was standing by Lark’s side, felt any stress — one couldn’t tell it by looking at him. It actually helped Lark feel better. While the crew was looking to her for reassurance, she could feel silently reassured by Owen’s presence.

Lark watched the clock. At the exact moment that the minute hand hit the twelve, Lark spoke, “All right. Insert the disk.”

Jensen inserted the disk. The program displayed a menu with two links. One link would give them the coordinates for their part in Monrage’s mission. The other link led to instructions.

Let’s look at the coordinates first and see how they compare with our set.”

Jensen posted the information onto the screen.

Just like you thought, they aren’t all that close.” Owen remarked. “It seems I’m going to have my work cut out for me after all.”

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 23

 

Lark was lying on top of a comforter. She was tired, yet she hadn’t planned on actually sleeping. Her goal was merely to rest for a little while. She didn’t honestly think she could sleep, not with all the thoughts that were wafting through her mind. So, instead, she thought she’d stay up and think about her next move for a while. There was only a short amount of time before events were set to unfold. If Lark wasn’t prepared, she would most likely not have another chance to escape. Lark was filled with anxiety. She couldn’t help but wonder what the cost of her freedom would be to everyone else. She reminded herself that preventing Leader Monrage from gathering an arsenal as well as stopping Frederick from taking over the colony’s government should be best for more than just she. Lark breathed. It wasn’t long after that thought that she succumbed to sleep despite her best efforts not to.

Lark awoke with the morning light. She shot up startled. What time was it? Thankfully, the clock said it was still early. Suddenly, she heard a knock at the door. She knew it was most likely Owen, but she was still gripped with uneasiness. The fact was it could be Leader Monrage, and that was enough to fill her with fear.

Lark.” Owen called in. Lark rolled out of the bed. She felt relief. Not only did she recognize his voice, but he had called her Lark. Leader Monrage probably wouldn’t have done that. Lark grabbed Cinnamon and crossed over to the door and opened it. Since there was nothing else that Lark had brought with her, she just left the room.

Did you sleep well?” Owen offered.

For a second, Lark felt as though his words were a criticism of her. It occurred to her that this reaction was probably a result of her time with Leader Monrage. Even if she managed to get away from him, Lark realized it would take some time before she could rid her mind of his influence.

Lark looked up at Owen.

Yes. I actually slept very well.” she replied.

Owen smiled at her. Lark managed to smile as well.

We’ll do the scan and take it from there. I’m actually pretty optimistic about it. Really, I’m looking forward to being on a ship with you in charge instead of Leader Monrage.” Owen informed her.

Lark laughed.

Yeah … me, too.” Lark admitted. “Then again, it would be difficult for it to be worse.”

Yeah.” Owen responded, his voice solemn.

Do you want some breakfast first?” he suddenly asked her.

No, I’ll eat when we get back to the ship. I have the feeling that we don’t have any time to waste.”

They walked rather briskly to their destination. Once they caught sight of the ship, Owen stopped. He looked over at Lark.

Maybe I should go ahead first, so the crew doesn’t get the wrong idea.”

Plus, you can make sure it’s safe.” Lark mentioned.

Yeah, well. I’ll be back for you and Cinnamon.”

Lark smiled at the mention of her cat’s name. She watched Owen head into the gathering crowd of pedestrians walking the usually busy street. As she waited, Lark could feel people glancing over at her with curiosity. She had forgotten she was still in her uniform. How oddly she must look in Leader Monrage’s contraption. Was it possible that someday, possibly soon, Lark would be able to tear off this costume for good? It seemed too much to hope for. Yet, maybe …

Suddenly, Lark caught sight of Owen returning to her. There was a look of concern on his face.

What’s wrong?” Lark wondered.

Owen hesitated.

It seems we’ve been banned from the ship. Everyone else has been recalled.” he started. “They’ve moved up the time table — that or he always planned it that way. Either way, they’ve locked us out. I was lucky to avoid being detained by the guards.”

Lark looked over at the star cruiser. Every once and awhile there was a lull in the crowds, and she could see two guards standing in front of the hatch. She didn’t recognize them.

Is it us specifically or …?” Lark began.

Owen considered.

The gist was that no one is allowed to go in at this point. Yet, the way they looked at me made me think it may be personal. Still, there’s really no way to know for sure at this point. After all, I didn’t have my radio on last night.”

Me neither.”

Owen considered.

You don’t seem that upset.” he remarked.

I’m not.” Lark said, still looking at the hatch. She then turned her eyes toward Owen.

You know about the service entrance, don’t you?”

Yeah, but it’s opened from the inside.” Owen pointed out.

That’s because no one knows the code … but me, of course. I set the code myself in order to regain access. Then, I waited a long time without using it.” Lark answered. “You see, I’ve conceived of this possibility before. And since no one has seen that door opened from the outside, people such as Leader Monrage don’t think that it can be, but it can.”

Owen laughed. He placed his hand on Lark’s shoulder.

Good for you.” he told her.

We should probably head in.” Lark offered. “Of course, we’ll have to be careful. He could be in there.”

If he isn’t now, he probably will be later.” Owen suggested.

Yes.”

He’ll probably seek you out. Are you up for that?”

I guess I’ll have to be.” Lark concluded.

I’ll intercede on your behalf, but if he’s got backup …”

I know.” Lark stated. “But if I hide … I mean can I even hide here on Colony 9? What’s to stop my cousin from throwing me in prison again on some trumped-up charge if her lover takes over? It’s clear she doesn’t want me here. All that I can hope for now is that Leader Monrage isn’t quite ready to dispose of me yet.”

I doubt the crew would allow that.” Owen stated.

They’re fond of me — that’s true — but they don’t know what to make of him. That kind of uncertainty could lead to inaction. By the time they determine to intercede, it would probably be too late. I’ve been living with this fear for a while now. I’m surprised I’ve managed so long really. I could have been killed by him any number of times. I’ll just have to believe today’s not going to be the day. Anyway, we’d better get going; we have a lot of prep work to do. And I’m pretty sure that getting the crew on board with our plan is not going to be easy.”

Lark and Owen blended in with the crowd that was moving in the direction of the service entrance. Then, they filed off unseen toward the small door on the side of the ship. Lark proceeded to punch in her code. For a brief second, she wondered if Leader Monrage somehow anticipated her maneuver and altered the code himself. However, as it turned out, the concern was unwarranted; for the green light came on, and the door slid easefully open as she had planned.

Let’s go.” Lark said, as they quickly slipped inside.

Lark headed directly to the control room. There Lark and Owen found every member of the crew sitting around discussing something in whispers. They all turned when they heard the door open. They then looked at Lark with blank stares. Lark couldn’t tell whether they were surprised to see her or concerned about something that had happened. Either way, Lark could tell they were now looking to her to tell them what to do. But first thing was first.

Lark stepped to the side of the door. Hidden in the corner was a small red button. When she pressed it, it began to glow. She had installed it a long time ago. It was designed to scramble any listening devices that had been planted in the room. It did this by replicating environmental interference. Lark had decided to use it for emergencies only, and she stuck with that. It had been tempting to potentially freeze Leader Monrage out more than once, but she held off. After all, if it happened too often it would be obvious something was up. Actually, there was another one of the devices in her bedroom. Only, she kept that one on all the time. “Let him think what he wanted with that one,” she concluded.

Jensen. Is the diagnostic scan done?”

Yes, um, yes, ma’am … Officer Twelve.”

Then, there’s something else I need you to do. Conduct a thermal scan of the area.”

A thermal scan?” Jensen repeated. “Yes, right away.”

Jensen went to his console and began to work. Stopping by and talking to Jensen the night before had really paid off. He didn’t even hesitate to follow Lark’s direction. Lark turned toward Owen briefly. She motioned with her eyes toward the door. Then, Lark went to sit down in her commander’s chair. Since the crew members were either watching Jensen or Lark, Owen took the opportunity to lock the door.

We may as well have a meeting.” Lark stated.

Without Leader Monrage?” one of the men questioned.

Lark clutched the arms of her chair with her hands. She knew this was a risk. Though there was no hard and fast rule, it was generally understood that you did not have meetings without Leader Monrage. He was just too paranoid for that. If he found out, he would assume the worst. And it wouldn’t just be Lark who would pay the price. Anyone who stayed, anyone who didn’t run out of the room and go straight to Leader Monrage, would be viciously punished.

To trust those whom Lark had never spoken to about Leader Monrage was a big deal. She would have to hope that somehow they would all come to the same conclusion — that Leader Monrage’s current plan was putting them all in danger. Still, just one person wanting to turn her in … but Lark couldn’t think about that right now. She had to trust that her judgment was solid when she chose these men, and that they would stand with her. In the end, Leader Monrage had put Lark in the position that she had to act. The consequences of doing nothing were no longer acceptable.

Leader Monrage has a plan that we haven’t been informed of yet.” Lark found her voice. “It is a plan that will put us in danger of prosecution. It involves the whole fleet. The other crews all know about it and are probably in orbit around Colony 9 right now. We, on the other hand, obviously haven’t been kept in the loop.”

What’s his plan?” one man asked.

I believe it’s to aid a local man in a coup in exchange for weapons.”

Wait a minute. You believe? You mean you don’t have any proof?!” one demanded.

Do you even know whether this colony has better weapons than we have?” another put forth.

Just then, Jensen cleared his throat.

The scan found something, Officer Twelve. There’s a large source of radioactive energy. Apparently, it is in a warehouse facility not far from here. Is this what you were looking for?”

Yes.” Lark replied.

Lark had worn the contact lenses the night before. Now, her eyes were becoming blurry, and they stung a little. Lark decided to remove the lenses. It wasn’t until after they were out that Lark realized that if Leader Monrage showed up he’d know right away that she defied him on some level. If she brought up the fact she had left them in all night, he’d ask to know why. Where had she been the night before?

You mentioned the rest of the fleet probably being around …” a man known as Waterburg started. “My brother works as a cook on one of the ships. I can ask him whether he’s in the area. He has no cause to be; this isn’t his route. Even if he doesn’t disclose anything to me, we can still track him via the communicator signal and tell whether he’s in the area.”

Do it.” Lark returned.

By the way, do you think we should get some food in here?” Jensen suggested. “It sounds as though it may take awhile.”

Lark looked toward the door. If Leader Monrage were out there, she would have heard sounds of his displeasure by now. But then, there was the crew. They looked at her as she looked at them. Did she trust them enough to let them out of her sight? They could easily make contact with Leader Monrage if she did. It was a dilemma. On the one side, how could she expect them to trust her if she didn’t trust them? But was it naïve to trust all of them? Leader Monrage would say yes. And how much of a fool would she be if she did trust them and shouldn’t have, especially after realizing the possibility of betrayal? And what if it proved fatal for her?

Go for it.” Lark finally concluded.

Lark then made eye contact with Owen again. She could tell he wasn’t sure about her decision either. Still, he reached over to unlock the door anyway. A few of the men volunteered themselves to go down to the cafeteria. Lark watched them pass by her with her peripheral vision. Her life was in their hands now. But if she could trust them, or at least enough of them to keep their eyes on the others, then they’d be counting on her to pull this off. She had to focus on that.

Okay. Let me know when you’ve made contact.” Lark remarked.

She assumed that Waterburg hadn’t gotten a hold of his brother yet. After all, Waterburg hadn’t spoken again.

All right. No one’s picked up yet …” Some time passed. “Oh, hello. Is Kenneth Waterburg available? His brother. Yes. I’ll wait.”

Lark looked around her as Waterburg began to engage in small talk with his brother.

Yeah, it’s kind of boring here. I kind of wish I were on your route.” Waterburg laughed. “Kenneth? Oh, you’ve got to go. All right. I’ll catch you later then.”

Have you gotten the location?” Lark asked.

Yes.” Jensen responded.

And?”

They’re in our orbit.”

Lark glanced over when the men returned with the food. They must have heard that last part since their eyes looked wide with surprise. Lark, in turn, was pleasantly surprised when she saw Owen was among them. She guessed he was keeping an eye on them for her. She smiled to herself.

So, what do we do now?” one of the men who just entered the room asked.

Everyone looked to Lark.

First, we need to know what security the warehouse facility has. Then, we need to know the best way to destroy the facility. If we have to, we’ll fly the ship over it and destroy it from the air. We’ll have to use the radiation shield first in order to contain the explosion. Actually, it would probably be a good idea for us to refresh ourselves on the workings of the radiation containment shield.”

The crew members took turns nodding in agreement.

So, who should do the research on the facility’s security?” someone wondered.

Jensen — assuming he’s up for hacking into Colony 9’s server without being detected.” Lark offered.

Yes, of course.” Jensen returned. “I’ll get on it.”

Lark remarked to herself that she’d never felt closer to her crew than she did now. Perhaps Leader Monrage’s presence was always in the way before, making them distrust one another. Of course, it wouldn’t be easy for Lark to trust completely. Still, assuming things turned out well this was a good beginning.

All of a sudden, Lark caught sight of Owen heading purposefully back toward the door. Out of curiosity, she turned toward the door as well. Owen cracked the door slightly and looked out into the hall. Soon after, he slid the door closed softly.

Heads up.” Owen started. “Monrage is on his way.”

The crew members looked between one another. Lark noted that none looked particularly happy about the news.

Quickly, Lark replaced her contacts.

Jensen, continue your work. The rest of you take out the policy manuals and start reading.”

Jensen was almost always on the computer, so it would have seemed odd to Leader Monrage if he was reading instead. Plus, Monrage wasn’t skilled with computers and wouldn’t know what Jensen was up to anyway.

A few moments later, Leader Monrage entered the room.

Well, what have we here?” Leader Monrage demanded.

The impact of Leader Monrage’s entrance wasn’t as unnerving to Lark as it usually was. Lark credited Owen’s warning her in advance for this. Monrage seemed to enjoy trying to startle her.

Manuals, huh? And your cat — is there a reason it’s here?” Leader Monrage asked pointedly.

Lark had forgotten about Cinnamon still being with her.

You saw me leave with her the other night.” Lark returned.

So, why don’t you take it back now?” he demanded.

We’re working on refreshing ourselves on your manuals.” Lark changed the subject. “We haven’t had a chance to do that recently. And it’s not as though we have anything better to do, right? Still, if you’d like us to stop …”

Leader Monrage considered. He looked around the room.

No, that’s fine.” he said. “Still, I wonder about the timing and where you’ve been since last night. I couldn’t find you — but you must have been here somewhere I guess since the guards didn’t see you come in. At least that’s what they said.”

Lark just looked at him blankly. She noted Leader Monrage had asked about her specifically. It was a good thing she hadn’t approached the guards with Owen.

Well, at least everyone is here. We’ll be having a meeting in the conference room in an hour. I imagine you can finish up the manuals by then.” Leader Monrage added.

Of course.” Lark replied.

Leader Monrage walked out just as Lark’s irritated eyes began to water uncontrollably. Fortunately, he hadn’t asked her to read from one of the manuals out loud. Lark removed her contact lenses. She would have to clean them before the hour was up.

So, how are we looking in terms of your work, Jensen? Will it take more than an hour?”

There’s no way of knowing.” Jensen responded.

Just do your best. Unfortunately, you’ll have to go to that meeting. I have a feeling that Leader Monrage will notice if someone doesn’t show.”

Yeah, okay.” Jensen didn’t seem convinced. Yet, instead of arguing the point he quickly set to work again. Lark leaned back in her chair. She breathed. Now, it was a waiting game. It was not safe for them to discuss anything more about the coup now that they knew Leader Monrage was on board the vessel. It was dangerous enough before he suspected them of being up to something.

Should we really continue to read these manuals?” one man asked.

Yeah, it’ll probably be a good idea if you do that actually.”

There was an audible groan.

I’d better refresh my memory of these, too.” Lark announced, wanting to be a good example. “Who knows, he might quiz us on them.”

What about me? I mean, I read them not that long ago …” Jensen started.

A couple of the other crew members rolled their eyes.

I’ll cover for you.” Lark assured him.

Jensen nodded and returned to work. Lark began reading from one of the numerous policy manuals Leader Monrage had written over the years. Unlike the first one, which detailed the plans he intended to use to get a fleet, these manuals detailed how he wanted the crew to behave once they became members of the fleet. Lark soon found she was having difficulty concentrating. Her eyes often wandered from the page to a nearby clock. After awhile, when it became close to the time, Lark just stared at the clock in a daze.

All right. We’d better head down there now.” Lark told the men.

But I’m not in a place where I can stop easily.” Jensen protested. “I really shouldn’t leave.”

Lark was afraid this might happen. She looked over at Jensen.

It doesn’t matter.” Lark told him with an air of decisiveness. “If you don’t go, he’ll come looking for you, and we can’t have that.”

Lark stood.

You’ll have to handle it when we get back.”

She then thought of something.

Can you hide what the computer is doing?” she asked him.

From a novice or a professional?”

The best you can.” Lark replied.

All right. I can do that. I’ll hide it in the background and run another program on top of it to further confuse things. Oh, and I’ll also have to slow down my program. I’m hoping it won’t break through while I’m gone. There is more than one way to slow it down, after all. That way I can keep with the port scan while I’m gone, and I won’t have to start over. All right … there.” Jensen grudgingly pulled himself away. He had a tendency to want to finish what he started, but it had become clear to him while he was talking that Officer Twelve wasn’t going to back down.

Lark left Cinnamon in the control room curled up in a ball on her chair. She then walked to the door in front of the others. Finally, Lark hung back as the others passed by her just long enough to lock the door behind them.

 

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

James 4

From whence come wars and fightings [Or, brawlings] among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill [Or, envy], and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts [Or, pleasures].

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy [Or, enviously]?

But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, “GOD RESISTETH THE PROUD, BUT GIVETH GRACE UNTO THE HUMBLE.”

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is [Or, For it is] even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (James 4: 1-17).

 

Zechariah 5

Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.

And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.

Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.

I will bring it forth,” saith the LORD of hosts, “and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by My name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.”

Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.

And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.

And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.

And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.

Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.

Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?

And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base (Zechariah 5: 1-11).

Isaiah 44

Yet now hear, O Jacob My servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:

Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; “Fear not, O Jacob, My servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.

“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring:

“And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.”

One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the LORD of hosts; “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God.

“And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.

“Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even My witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.

Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workman, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.

The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.

The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.

He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth [Or, taketh courage] for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.

Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:

And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.

They have not known nor understood: for He hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

“Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art My servant: I have formed thee; thou art My servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me.

“I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee.”

Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, “I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself;

“That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

“That confirmeth the word of His servant, and performeth the counsel of His messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, ‘Thou shalt be inhabited’; and to the cities of Judah, ‘Ye shall be built,’ and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:

“That saith to the deep, ‘Be dry,’ and I will dry up thy rivers:

“That saith of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure’: even saying to Jerusalem, ‘Thou shalt be built’; and to the temple, ‘Thy foundation shall be laid.’ ” (Isaiah 44: 1-28)