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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Many chapters contain brutal violence.

The Mantis Equilibrium - Book Two - 6. Chapter 6 - Vion, Part Two

Vion is looking for the killers of his friends.

Gate Town was the most welcoming region of Teshon City. The neighborhood at the entrance was made vibrant by the diversity of its inhabitants, the colorful murals that were painted on the outsides of many buildings, and the unique shops and taverns that catered to the Shifts who lived there. The cold winter wind that blew in off the harbor did not stop the inhabitants of Gate Town from being out and about under the grey sky.

Near the small region that bordered the industrial district, and above the old Oselian airstrip, Gate Town was hosting its morning market. Farmers from the area surrounding Teshon City gathered together each day to sell their produce to the gathered crowds.

The market was busy as Vion and his inquisitors entered.

He began to shout.

“With the authority bestowed upon me by her lordship, Relliduna Aruckleon, Principal Messiah of Teshon City, I hereby declare that the investigation to find the Shift murders who have killed five Messiahs is now open.

People started to congregate.

“If anyone has any information regarding the murderous Shifts,” Vion continued, “the Principal Messiah would be grateful of you sharing it. We know that the murders are Shifts, and we will find them.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Get the fuck out of Gate Town!”

“Messiahs are murderers!” yelled another.

“No one here is telling you shit!” cried a woman.

A voice farther back jeered, “Cannibals!”

Most of those in attendance at the market were angry, and they were bunched up together by Vion and his two officers.

“I demand that my authority be respected!” he bellowed.

The woman in charge of the market stepped up and said, “Your authority doesn’t reach this far, and respect is the doppelganger of honor. No,” she continued, “you will be receiving neither respect nor honor here, and I think it’s time you leave. You are not welcome.”

There was no way for the trio of Messiahs to know who they were up against, especially in a huge crowd of people at the edge of the Shift neighborhood. There was a strong possibility that they were far outmatched. Quite a few of the individuals gathered before them looked ready to kill the three Messiahs and be done with it.

Vion’s fury raged below the surface, but he kept it buried. Who do these people think they are? he thought to himself. He knew the crowd would be made up of some humans, who he viewed as less than Messiahs. The presence of Shifts was also a certainty where they were in Gate Town. Vion even told himself that there might be a few ex-Messiah traitors among them. He scowled at the gathered masses, who not only blocked his way further into the market, but also denied him access to the entrance of Shifton.

“Murderers are living among you,” he called out, “and I came here to keep you people safe by finding them!”

“You people?!” someone snapped.

Vion’s inquisitor Proge said to him, “Truth Seeker, it does not seem like this tactic is going to work.”

He growled but conceded, and the trio turned their backs on the angry mob. They walked away in silence. The neighborhood was bustling and they disappeared among the other pedestrians. Once they were away from the market, no one paid them any mind. The three ducked down an alleyway.

“I can’t believe that crowd of degenerates treated us that way!” the inquisitor Chenchi fumed.

“I can,” replied Vion.

“But the disrespect was shocking!” Proge added.

“It should be expected with filth like Shifts and those who keep acquaintance with them, but no, this did not go according to plan.”

The alley in which they found themselves opened onto a main street, but back in its shadows stood several dilapidated shanties. Bottles clanked and went rolling along the pavement, as a man stepped out of one of the huts. He leaned towards the wall of the alley, brought one of his palms to it for support, and he began to relieve himself. One of the bottles bumped his foot, and he flailed at it, kicking it away. It shattered.

As he turned to shamble back into his makeshift dwelling, he saw Vion and the two inquisitors staring at him from the mouth of the alleyway. Then the three of them heard the man’s voice inside their heads, and even in their minds, his speech was slurred.

What’re you lookin’ at?

The man stepped back into his shack.

“That’s a fucking Shift,” Vion whispered. He began to walk into the back of the alleyway towards the deeper shadows. His inquisitors followed him, and when they heard their leader draw his dagger, they both pulled theirs from the sheaths at their belts.

Vion approached the hovel, and he could hear that the drunkard was already snoring again. He slipped the door open and looked down and the sleeping man. Without even glancing back to see if the coast was clear, Vion thrust his knife into the man’s neck and yanked it out again.

Then the alleyway, the man, and Vion vanished.

There was only darkness. Then the dark was replaced by a void.

Vion could see, but there was no light. It was as if he was floating beneath the surface in a pool of water. He was surrounded on all sides by nothing. Above him was nothing, and his feet were standing on nothing. He could feel nothing below himself, but he also knew that he was not falling. He was simply standing in place surrounded by emptiness.

A violin began to play in one of his ears, and he turned, but the origin of the sound remained a mystery. Then a child giggled in his other ear, and he turned in the opposite direction. Still, he saw nothing in the emptiness. Then the sound of two stringed instruments in harmony filled the space all around him. He looked everywhere but there was nothing. Then the music stopped.

In front of Vion’s feet, a flower grew. It was not strange or unique in any way, and he thought it looked as forgettable as the countless others like it he had seen in his lifetime, except that this one was growing from nothing. It only stretched up until it was above his ankle, then a bud appeared at its terminal limb that opened with a little yellow blossom. When the flower did not do anything else, Vion tried to walk, but even as he did so, the flower remained the same distance from him.

Vion looked around again, but still, there was only the nothingness. Either he was not able to walk forward, or the flower was moving with him, and since there was no point of reference at all, he could not be certain that walking transported him anywhere.

For a moment, he considered reaching down to pick the flower, but instead, he called out into the silence, “Hello?”

His voice sounded muffled.

When he looked back down at the flower again, there were four of them. He did not see the others grow. They were similar but not identical; all were the same species and each was yellow.

Then there were more. Again, he did not notice them until they were fully grown, and several were suddenly behind him. Without his comprehension, a full ring of flowers circled him. The countless little yellow blossoms did nothing.

Something flashed in Vion’s peripheral vision, and he turned, but there was nothing there. He saw it in a different direction, but again he turned to see only the void. All of a sudden, three little sparkling entities like hummingbirds flitted noiselessly in front of him. They shimmered in rainbow colors, dipping and swirling around each other.

Vion then heard a thump. It was so low that he felt it more than heard it. A moment later, there was a pair of thumps, one right after the other. Then the double-beat started repeating. The sub-decibel sounds were slow, and the silence between them seemed to linger. As they continued, they started to grow the tiniest bit in volume. It almost felt to Vion that the non-ground he was standing on was thumping. He could feel it in the soles of his feet.

It almost seemed like the void itself was pulsing. He looked around but the little birds of light were nowhere to be seen. The flowers seemed to be unaffected by the quiet thumping. Their neither swayed nor quivered with the sound waves. Vion then notice that one of the flowers to the side of him was lying down. It looked like it fell to the ground, but because there was no ground, it just hovered horizontal in the void of nothingness.

As his eyes moved, he saw that more of the flowers had fallen over. He did not see them fall, yet they were laying beside their neighbors. Vion did not see any movement at all, but before he knew it, every single one of the flowers was lying still in a ring around his feet.

Little by little, the thumping grew louder but also slower, as if the increasing volume required more effort for each thump.

Then the void around Vion crackled, not with electricity, but with flashes of some entirely different reality. The emptiness returned and remained, and again, there was only Vion in the void.

The flowers were gone.

The bird-entities were gone.

The thumping was gone.

Then the emptiness flashed again, and it began to flicker all around Vion. Glimpses of something else teased his vision, and the nothingness could no longer retain itself.

The void was instantly replaced by that other world.

Vion was damp. He opened his eyes.

He and the two other Messiahs were down. They were sprawled in the alleyway. Chenchi and Proge were not moving.

Vion pushed himself up from the piss-covered concrete. He was soaked in the drunken man’s urine, but also his blood. Within the shack, Vion could see that the man was dead. The horrible wound in his neck still seeped a little blood, but the rest of it was all over the ground. His eyes were unfocused and his mouth hung agape. The man’s limbs were twisted in strange angles of pain, but he was motionless.

The wave of psionic energy that created the hallucination in Vion’s mind also blasted both of his inquisitors. They were slowly pushing themselves up from the alley floor.

Chenchi groaned. “That Shift fucked us up,” she mumbled.

“I want his fucking head,” Vion growled, as he picked up his dagger. He stepped into the shack and grabbed the corpse by its hair. The dead man’s tongue lolled out, and Vion cut through the meat of his neck until the head was only connected to the body by its spine. One strong pull decapitated the corpse.

Vion stepped back out of the hut, as his inquisitors were helping each other to their unsteady feet.

“We need to come up with a different method to find those Shift murderers,” Vion grumbled, and he looked back into Gate Town, “but at least we got a mantis gland out of this debacle of a mission.”

He held aloft the dripping head✪

What will all of this cause to unfold?

Copyright © 2023 Adam Andrews Johnson; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for sticking with my crazy story!

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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These Messiahs are more than just a bit obtuse to not know how people feel about then.

It really is too bad the residual energy of the shift wasn't enough to kill them.

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Vion killed a poor drunken shift in his hovel. He did not fight back. Vion was just cruel and intolerant.  His only punishment was to hallucinate.

Vion took the man's head and mantis gland. Will this be a pain free conquest? What will the gland enable?

Now, Vion and his crew will be more hated in the area. They do not realize how much they are hated. They need to change tactics to find the killer.

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Vion and his helpers just may have started something they can't finish...

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You would like to think that among those that remain with the Messiah's there would be a good person; but that does not appear to be the case.  Those that realize how horrible they are flee much like Agrell.  Those that stay, are damned in a way they will never fully understand.

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