Written by: Darren ‘The Wolf’ Pearce
“The Cleric is
our last line of defence, not our first form of attack.”
~ John Preston ~
avenger, killer and saviour of New Libria had finally been allowed to
rest. After faking his own death to trap Ezekiel Kayne and bring an end
to the machinations of Father’s best, he had gone above and beyond his
call of duty and even the Governess had understood the need for such an
act – though she did not agree with it.
Preston’s life had been turned upside down and inside out, the man had
dealt with terrible events and demons that had robbed him of the two
links to his wife, he barely thought about her of course due to the
iron-grip Prozium had managed to take on his body during the reign of
the Tetragrammaton Order. But as the drug had worn off, been purged
from his system he discovered a plethora of emotions that he could
Six months of rest, recuperation and he still felt like a mannequin in
a man’s body. The deaths of Robbie and Lisa had burned deeply at his
soul and he spent the majority of his time wandering the Nethers
looking for stragglers from Father’s regime. If there were any, they
had gone to ground and slipped right under the radar.
Tonight he walked the Halls of the New Grammaton Order and paused at
the training room, memories of DuPont’s classic rote-training and
mastery speech sparked in his subconscious.
"The Gun Katas: Through analysis of thousands of recorded gun fights,
the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of
antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically predictable element.
The Gun Kata treats the gun as a total weapon. Each new position
representing a maximum kill zone; inflicting maximum damage on the
maximum number of opponents, while keeping the defendant clear of the
statistically traditional trajectories of return fire.
By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no
less than one hundred and twenty percent, the difference of a sixty
three percent increase to lethal proficiency, makes the master of the
Gun Katas, an adversary not to be taken lightly."
He remembered that speech and it spurred feelings of hate towards
DuPont, towards the Grammaton itself and the whole misguided Order.
Preston was shocked to find how quickly that particular feeling burned
at the forefront of his skull and he sat down on one of the many
The Hall of the New Grammaton resembled the old in the way it had been
laid out, the arches casting somnambulant shadows across the metallic
and unfeeling décor; it mirrored the regime of emotionless stagnant
government perfectly. It was uncompromising in every way; there was
nothing that redeemed this place of death.
It was here that he taught others how to kill; ironic thoughts
spiralled out of control in Preston’s mind as he contemplated this. To
defend and to safeguard New Libria from outside threats and possible
internal struggles, he would have to keep on teaching the Grammaton
Arts to new aspiring Clerics until old age caught up with him, for a
bitter moment he realised – he had not ended a war, but simply diverted
the final battle.
For many years the outside world, the other cities, had taken no real
notice of Libria because it was caught in Father’s grip, in his
carefully constructed spider’s web of sense-offenders and ‘feeling’
Clerics. He had played everyone against each other and kept the truth
hidden, that his regime was as corrupt as those he sentenced to death
in the Nethers.
But now that was all gone and the news would spread to the outside
world, New Libria had awoke from slumber and people were feeling
emotions across a broad spectrum, at the moment these emotions were
happiness and an awe at how free they truly were – but with the
illumination of shadows, comes a darker side.
The free range of emotions had no check, no counter and no balance to
keep them under control. Anger, hate, fear, jealousy would be the next
of the Four Horsemen to ride out from New Libria’s fledgling order –
regardless of the best intentions, he had recently read a line in a
book he’d saved.
“The best laid plans of mice and men…”
How apt that particular piece seemed now as he took the book from the
inside of his jacket, noting the author’s name: John Steinbeck, he
tapped it with a finger before putting it back safely. He was broken
from his reverie by the swift movement of another into the Hall.
Tara Night had been his constant companion, almost like his shadow and
the only person to truly see him through the hell of his last sixth
months. He’d grown to like the woman a great deal, and as per usual she
arrived when he was at his most thoughtful.
“John,” he voice questioned in the shadows as she found him sitting
amongst the remnants of his memories. “This is starting to become a
“I know,” he replied and patted one of the seats. “I like to come here,
when the training is over and just sit – to think, there’s a lot to
“Care to share?”
“You’ve heard it all before Tara,” he offered the barest of slim smiles
and folded his hands together. “There’s nothing different in my
thoughts, the same hopes, frustrations and fears still haunt me like
ever present wraiths.”
“I know, but it doesn’t stop me asking. We’re worried about you John,
six months down the line and you’re still pretty much – John Preston,
you cried what, three times over Robbie and Lisa’s deaths.”
“I cry inside,” he shook his head. “One day I’ll shed enough tears to
drown the city in my emotions. I haven’t really got the time for or the
luxury of sorrow.”
“Don’t forget who you are,” she chided a little and touched his cheek,
he didn’t flinch.
“I never do,” Preston met her eyes with his own, defiant to the core
but soft and almost liquid in their depths. “I am indebted to you Tara,
more than I could ever hope to repay.”
“There’s no need for repayment, but you need to focus on something more
“I do,” he lied and then bit his lip. “Sometimes,” the admission was
enough to rectify the falsehood and he smiled genuinely. “I thought
that I was simple, but I guess I am more complex than I give myself
“You can say that again,” a rare whisper of a chuckle passed her lips
and her features softened before she spoke up again. “So, what is your
biggest problem – what is that number one nagging trouble you can’t get
out of your head?”
“I have to pick just one?”
“For now,” she winked.
“That we haven’t seen the last of our good friend,” he said that word
with as much sarcasm as he could manage, experimenting with the
newfound emotions and words. “Ezekiel Kayne, the man might be dead but
as you know – fanatics live on when they’re a martyr to a cause.”
“So you’re wary of the dead?”
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t seen the dead get up and walk, well, apart
from your,” she chose this next line carefully, “perfectly needed
deception to put an end to his plans.”
“I did what I had to, it was the only way,” Preston’s voice dropped
into a grumble and he began to tap his fingers. “Now it is over – I
keep on thinking that it will all blow up again.”
A low beep sounded at Tara’s belt and she hooked the communicator off
it with a deft finger, flicking it into her ear. “Cleric Night?”
Preston watched her for a moment and then began to contemplate the
shadows in the Hall again.
Tara finished her conversation and frowned. “There’s a minor riot over
at the food court, do you want to stretch your legs?”
He shook his head and smiled for the last time. “I think I’m going to
get some sleep, there’s a new batch of recruits coming in to the
Monastery this morning and I need to have a clear head for tomorrow.”
“That sounds fun.”
“It should be interesting,” he chuckled. “Regardless, you can handle
this – you’re a Cleric.”
“I learned from one of the best,” she winked at him and turned to
leave. “I will be careful, before you ask.”
“How’d you know I was going to say that anyway?”
“It’s my job to tell what you’re thinking,” Tara echoed Brandt’s words
and Preston felt a small shiver just for a moment. “Goodnight John.”
Tara left the Hall and passed down the darkened corridors, she nodded
to the Weapons Clerk and requested the usual side-arms and a few other
things. A small pair of high density ‘wobble’ clips and some
speed-loader magazines were the next on her list.
As she stowed away her equipment, John Preston returned to his new home
and sat before a monitor, the glow of the screen threw his features
into stark relief.
Tara sat upon the motorbike and thrummed the engine; she twisted the
throttle a couple of times and then under the cover of darkness roared
out of the underground parking lot of the New Grammaton building. She
relished the feel of the harsh wind on her face, the sensation of air
deprived from her lungs and the sheer power of the bike as it growled
through the streets.
New Libria at night was a very different place to the Libria of old,
the streets were lit and often gangs of colourfully dressed men, women
and children prowled them. Usually there was no trouble thanks to the
lessons of the old city, and the ever present fair but sometimes deadly
hand of the Sweepers and the Clerics.
The people of the city were content to live out their lives without the
hand of Prozium on their shoulders, but some of them feared the same as
John and the Government, a return to the ways of humanity prior to
Tara’s bike slowed and she stopped outside the food court, she swung
off the vehicle and adjusted her coat already the business-like mask
fell into place and she approached the first of the Sweeper teams.
In a clear voice she demanded, “Sweeper, report?”
He turned his helmeted head towards her and stepped away from his three
companions. “Cleric,” he offered her a nod. “Numerous individuals have
barricaded themselves into the court, with at least a hostage. They
have some misguided notion that the Government is putting Prozium back
into the food supply.”
She frowned and raised a single brow, elegantly. “Are they armed?”
“Not to our knowledge, we tried to use the hose but they evaded our
team before we could bring the pacification device to bear.”
“Understood,” she replied and began to walk towards the door. “How many
The stalk was a definite reminder for the men of John Preston and his
encounter in the Nethers, where they had seen him dispatch a room full
of armed Resistance in the blink of an eye, and the pitch black.
“Six, Cleric,” the lead Sweeper answered and began to motion his men to
follow. “What do you want us to do?”
“Cover the side and back entrances,” she reached the barricaded front
door and pulled a small metal disc from her pocket. “Only shoot to
incapacitate, if they are armed and offer significant resistance,” she
The disc was placed and a small red LED began to pulse softly, Tara
withdrew to a safe distance and began to count down from the moment
she’d thumbed the activation stud on the explosive.
The Sweepers moved into their positions and the sound of their weapons
being readied echoed through the night air.
Tara scrambled up onto a low wall, across the stonework and onto a
narrow roof, with a small leap she landed on the flat surface of the
food court. From there the Cleric moved quietly until she reached the
back of the roof, where she found a skylight that allowed light into
the building during the day.
Thirty seconds later there was a resounding bang and the front door was
battered by an explosive force, the device shattered the wood and
buckled the metal. At the same time this happened Tara blew out the
skylight with her pistols and dropped through the opening.
Six Librian’s had taken refuge in the food court and they held a
seventh (a man) hostage, a single revolver pointed at his head. The
sudden appearance of a Grammaton Cleric dropping into their midst,
panicked the woman holding the gun and she turned, aimed and
Four of the Librian’s moved quickly, they went towards the back door
and away from the dealer of death, the image of Father’s ultimate
enforcer still locked in their mind – man or woman, the image of the
Cleric was enough to make them break and run.
Tara’s knowledge of the Gun Kata saved her life as she turned to the
side and dropped low, both pistols hammered out a reply to the woman’s
shot, taking her in the kneecaps and forcing the air from her lungs as
she hit the floor hard. The second male suspect threw up his hands and
remained absolutely still, while his injured companion scrabbled for
the revolver in a desperate attempt to get even.
A second shot sounded and the gun whipped away across the floor, the
bullets missed the female suspect’s fingers by mere inches.
Sweeper Harris stationed at the back door wasn’t so lucky; the man took
a stomach full of shotgun at close range as the four men ran past him.
The leader of this group kicked the man’s body out of the way and
growled, “Get to the van!”
The Sweeper’s body slumped and the other two Sweepers made entry into
the building, blasting the locks of the side doors. The converged in
the main food court area and found Tara cuffing both the man and woman,
her fingers snapped the metal onto the man’s hands and she was off and
“Deal with these two,” her order was like ice and she sprinted from the
room, just in time to see a van screaming off around the corner. She
radioed in to the Sweepers and informed them of the current situation,
called in a MedEvac for Harris and then sprinted off towards her bike.
Part 2 coming soon...