Authors: A. King Bradley
A Novel by A. King Bradley
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by A. King Bradley
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Cover design by A. King Bradley of A.B.Entertainment LLC and Damian Bradley of Jack of Art Trades LLC
Soundtrack produced by Travis Schroder
*** FREE SOUND TRACK ***
For the most complete experience be sure to download the
Son of Eden Soundtrack
This book is dedicated to my precious daughter, Christine.
It may take a few years before you can actually read it, but when the time comes, I certainly hope you enjoy it.
And also in joyful memory of my dear friend and mentor
Dr. Dawn DeVeaux.
“Your destiny is to die, as is the fate of all who foolishly seek my Father's crown.”
I WAS NEARLY INVINCIBLE BY THAT POINT… OR AT LEAST I thought I was. In the two years that had passed since I discovered my abilities, my strength had increased to the point where I could lift nearly 9000 pounds without even breaking a sweat. My muscle mass had increased to the point where I appeared to weigh around 200 pounds; but due to the extreme density of my unusual physiology, I actually weighed nearly six times as much. Simply put, I was a walking powerhouse—twice as strong as I had been when I initially discovered my abilities, and several times more powerful than any man on the face of the planet.
Still, something told me that I should have waited for Ace but I was too confident in my abilities to listen to that gut feeling. After all, I was virtually a superhero. So what did I need backup for? I clenched my fists and watched from beneath my metallic black gasmask as smoke poured out of the semi-truck that I had just obliterated. I tightened my black gloves as my long, black trench coat fluttered in the wind gusts created by the few cars that still dared to drive by the crash site on the massive Las Vegas freeway on which I stood.
It was clear that the device we sought to recover was not inside the trailer of the semi-truck, but as I stood there and gazed upon the wreckage I was certain that there was
in there. I could somehow sense it.
The Air Force Apache helicopters that filled the sky continued to rain hellfire onto the countless Stranger operatives that were attempting to surround me, but I stood motionless amongst the fray as an invisible energy seemed to emanate from the pillars of fire and smoke that continued to rise from the wreckage.
My heartbeat quickened as a massive, armored right hand suddenly arose from the debris and pushed a large piece of wreckage aside. I narrowed my eyes in anticipation as a heavily armored figure finally emerged from within the flames and slowly stepped forth to oppose me.
His sophisticated armor was comprised of a shiny black and silver metal that gleamed brightly in the ominous glow of the fire that spread from the wrecked semi-truck behind him. His face was shrouded by the hood of a flowing, snow-white cloak that flickered in the wind behind him as he continued to trudge towards me.
It was then that I noticed he stood around 6’5”, nearly three inches taller than me, and even though he was covered from head to toe in a full suit of highly advanced armor, it was clear to see that he had the physique of a professional wrestler. Still, despite his size advantage and the eerie feeling that sweltered in the pit of my stomach, I couldn’t help but feel as though he stood no chance against me. This was just another Stranger at the end of the day—a heavily armored Stranger who at first glance appeared to be twice my size, but a Stranger nonetheless.
They were always bigger than me—always better equipped, or operating with droves upon droves of backup, but none of that ever mattered. In the end, none of my adversaries were ever able to give me the one thing that I had craved for the last two years: a decent fight.
I braced myself and smiled beneath my menacing skull-faced gasmask as the massive assailant suddenly rushed toward me with his enormous right hand cocked behind his head. I always let them have the first punch. I always got a kick out of watching their expressions as they threw everything they had at me only to witness me take the punch without even flinching. I was still thinking of a snappy remark to respond with when his fist slammed against my face with the full force of a freight train. The unexpectedly crushing blow knocked me from my feet and sent me flying several meters in the opposite direction. I hit the ground hard and tumbled head over heels for a few more feet before coming to a stop near the edge of the freeway.
How did he do that?!
I wondered as my attacker suddenly leapt thirty feet into the air and landed no more than fifteen feet away from me. Dazed and confused, I scrambled to my feet as he suddenly backhand slapped an abandoned sedan into the air as he made his way toward me. I met him head on and fired a right handed hook that could have leveled a small building. He easily blocked my attack with his left hand and landed a devastating overhand right to the side of my face that nearly snapped my head around as he sent me sprawling to the pavement once again.
My head slammed against the street as I hit the ground, causing my vision to become blurry. As my consciousness slowly slipped away my mind frantically searched for an explanation as to how my attacker had so easily defeated me. My heart skipped a beat as the mysterious juggernaut suddenly threw back his flowing white hood and I finally realized my mistake. It was in that moment that I discovered I wasn’t fighting a man at all. As I peered into the subtle bluish glow that emanated from his eyes, I suddenly realized that the individual who had just so easily overpowered me was much more than some run-of-the-mill Stranger foot soldier—this man was the one they called The Greater—this man… was the Son of Eden.
- FIVE MONTHS EARLIER
SEEING MY BROTHER DIE WAS ONE OF THE MOST heart aching moments of my entire life but I had hoped that at least some good would come of P.J.’s demise. I had hoped that his death would stop the spread of the chaos that he had started but instead of being looked at as a monster, my adoptive brother was heralded as a martyr once news of his death was made public. Instead of viewing him as the introverted, rage harboring, sociopath that he was, he became an instant folk hero—a legendary freedom fighter who had made the ultimate sacrifice in opposition of the oppressive establishment.
In memory of their so-called
the members of the domestic terrorism group known as The Strangers replaced their expressionless white masks with the same version of the Greek Tragedy mask worn by my brother P.J. when he led them as The Suspect.
Each time I found myself staring into the piercing dead eyes of one of those masks, I was not only reminded of the agony and guilt that I felt for not being able to save him but I was also haunted by the anger and frustration that I felt from knowing that this is exactly what he wanted.
He must have been laughing in his fiery grave as his forces rallied behind his death and their new leader, Alias, led them from the obscurity of anonymity and plunged the country into a civil war. No one could have fathomed the true extent of their power. What was once thought to be a force of tens of thousands turned out to be millions. In addition to their surprising numbers, the highly advance military grade equipment and sophisticated training that had been provided by their secret benefactor, The Righteous, made them just as formidable as any military on the face of the planet. And they had been busy. In just under a year, entire cities along the eastern coast of the Unites States had fallen under complete Stranger control during a Stranger operation known as The Acquisition. The U.S. military had been spread so thinly between the three wars in the Eastern hemisphere that once The Strangers initiated their plans to seize those cities, there was very little anyone could do to stop them. To make matters worse, half the country’s civilian population actually supported the Stranger Acquisition. The Strangers’ message of “Taking back our country,” seemed to resonate well with the growing number of ultranationalists that had no idea that they were simply being manipulated by The Righteous.
He had his mysterious hand in everything; our national politics and foreign policy—even our economy. At that point, I still knew just as little about him as I did two years ago. All I knew was that he and some of his followers were from a planet called Eden and that they had once been prisoners of the United States government. I knew nothing of the circumstances that brought them to our planet or of how they ended up in U.S. custody, but I did know that somehow they had managed to escape, and since then The Righteous had led a global shadow war against the United States of America and its allies. From darkness he had slowly and methodically turned the world against us and with the help of my adoptive brother P.J. he had now managed to turn us against ourselves.
A mysterious government official that I had come to know as Mike Wells had recruited me and my best friends, Howie and Ace, to help his top-secret government agency take down The Righteous but I still didn’t know exactly how I fit into his overall plan to do so. I certainly wanted to know more, but I had learned that asking too many questions would typically lead to long periods of time in which I would get cut out of the action—and the action was the one thing that was able to numb the pain of the devastating losses that I had incurred.
It had been two years since the night I watched my brother blow himself up in front of me—two years since I walked away from my hometown and left Monica, the absolute love of my life, behind. I was never able to completely shake the pain brought on by losing them, but after the first year came and went, I finally realized that I could at least numb the pain by throwing myself into my work. That’s when I decided to keep quiet and devote myself to being the best weapon that I could be—because ultimately that was all that I had become. Whenever Wells needed something done or whenever he wanted something that was hidden deep within Stranger territory, he would simply point me at the problem and pull the trigger. After a while I got so used to being the tip of the spear that I actually started to like it. I had reached a point where I no longer fought solely to satiate the burning rage that accompanied my insane adrenaline rushes or simply to numb the pain brought on by those who I had lost. I now fought because I thought it was fun—I now fought because I liked it. Naturally, my growing obsession with throwing myself head first into the most dangerous situations I could find began to lead to behavior that some would consider reckless.
THIS WAS ESPECIALLY TRUE THE DAY I FOUND MYSELF headed into the teeth of the most dangerous Stranger controlled area in the country—Manhattan. There were certain parts of what was once our greatest city that were now completely off limits if you weren’t one of them. If they got the slightest inclination that you were an outsider, you could easily find yourself surrounded by thousands of Strangers within a matter of minutes. As I approached their New York stronghold on foot, that was exactly what I was counting on.
Midtown Manhattan was a shell of its former glory. It had been almost a year since the Stranger Acquisition reached Manhattan but the streets were still littered with the chaos that transpired as the NYPD tried and failed to defend the borough. It had only taken a single day for the invasion to overwhelm the police department and push them completely out of the area. The Stranger forces moved so swiftly that by the time the military was ready to respond, The Strangers had already rounded up thousands of hostages and imprisoned them in the Empire State Building which was wired with enough explosives to level the entire block. It was the same M.O. every time. We never knew when or where they would strike but when they did, they hit hard and fast, capturing as many hostages as possible as they overthrew the city. The bureaucrats in Washington were all so worried about the backlash of sending in troops and causing The Strangers to detonate their bombs and kill the hostages that none of them had the stones to do what needed to be done. Even Wells was sitting on his hands when it came to Manhattan, but as far as I was concerned, I had had enough. There were too many innocent lives crammed into that building, and I was sick of waiting around for permission to get them out.
According to the media, nearly 3000 people were being held captive in the Empire State Building but courtesy of my best friend Howie, aka the smartest person on the face of the planet, I happened to know that there were almost three times as many hostages in there. Howie was the only person in the world with enough juice to hack into the Stranger Network and get a look at the security cameras inside the Empire State Building—and the footage that he had shown me was absolutely gut wrenching. The Strangers had packed as many captives as possible into the building’s office rooms with no regard for hygiene or the risk of suffocation. They were only feeding them once every two days and between starvation and suicides, nearly 2000 of the hostages had already died. You may wonder how any of the civilian population could support The Strangers given how cruel they had been to their hostages. But it would seem as though P.J. had thought of everything. As far as the public knew, they didn’t capture the “common man.” Their prisoners were always the high rollers—the Wall Street bankers that had tanked our economy, the crooked politicians that were driving our country to hell in a hand basket… the so-called “one percent” that most of America believed had it coming anyway.
I PAUSED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERTED STREET AS the Empire State Building came into view nearly 1000 meters away. The cool evening wind picked up and a thick blanket of dark grey clouds hung low over the entire city as I continued my approach toward the building. A blaring alarm was suddenly sounded and several heavily armed Stranger foot soldiers poured out of the buildings on each side of the road as I trudged forward with my long black trench coat fluttering in the wind behind me. Their body armor, and most of their gear, was completely black and they all wore chalk-white Greek Tragedy masks as they moved into position on each side of the road. I kept my focus on the Empire State Building looming at the end of the path before me, and completely ignored the army of mercenaries that were slowly and methodically emerging from the countless buildings that lined the streets. I was out numbered nearly 800 to 1 as I continued onward, but as the hoards of Strangers on either side of me anxiously gripped their assault rifles it was obvious that I wasn’t nearly as nervous as they were. They all recognized the skull-faced gasmask that I wore upon my face. They all knew what I was capable of. This display was nothing more than an attempt to use their sheer numbers in order to force me to retreat without provoking an actual attack.
I stopped in my tracks as their pace suddenly quickened and they spilled out into the streets and cut off the path in front of me. With a quick glance over my shoulder I realized that I was completely surrounded. More Strangers had now emerged from the rooftops and were training oversized sniper rifles on my position as I silently stood amongst their ground forces. A deafening silence fell over the entire city block and the only audible sounds were the rustling of their armor as they nervously huddled around me.
“State your business, outsider!”
a distorted voice ordered from within the crowd of Strangers in front of me. Blood rushed to my head and pulsated throughout my temple as I recognized the voice.
I gritted my teeth in anger as a slender Stranger wearing a half-smiling/half-frowning version of my brother’s Tragedy mask pushed his way through the crowd. When he reached the front of the line the surrounding Strangers grew much more anxious, no doubt wary of the fact that I could zoom over and snap his neck in less time than it took them to blink their eyes.
They feared for his safety because this man was the Stranger known as Alias, the one who had assumed control of their organization after the death of my brother. The cool evening wind suddenly changed directions and caused the tale of his black trench coat to flare open, revealing a large .50 caliber pistol holstered at his hip. He only stood about 5’9” and something told me that his black and metallic-red body armor made him appear a lot bulkier than he actually was. I took a deep breath and tried to remain calm as I peered at the twisted expression on the version of my brother’s mask that he wore upon his face. Its taunting expression angered me beyond belief and it made me want to show them all how easily I could destroy him, but luckily for him I needed him alive.
“I said state your business, outsider!”
Alias insisted, as his legion of gun-wielding Strangers watched on in uneasy silence.
“I’m here for the hostages,”
I growled, my voice electronically distorted by my Reaper gasmask.
A chuckle escaped Alias’ mask as he slowly tilted his head and studied me.
“Is that right?”
he asked as he took a slow and deliberate step toward me.
“And how, might I ask, do you plan on liberating these hostages, sir? What makes you think that my men won’t reduce you to nothing more than a bullet riddled pile of flesh should you but take another step forward?”
“I don’t think you understand who you’re dealing with,”
I grumbled as he and the army of more than 800 Strangers tightened their circle around me.
“Oh, I know exactly who I’m dealing with,”
Alias replied as he placed his left hand on the pistol holstered on his hip.
“You pull that gun and you’re a dead man,”
I threatened as I quickly clenched my fists. The entire crowd suddenly backed away and froze out of fear as I crouched and prepared to attack.
“I think it’s really him,” someone whispered from the crowd as my fists trembled with rage and my eyes darted from face to face, daring any one of them to advance toward me. Alias tilted his head again as he studied me with his hand still resting on the pistol at his waist.
“I disagree. There’s no way this clown is the real deal. Even he wouldn’t be stupid enough to set foot in Manhattan,”
Alias arrogantly declared.
“Then why don’t you go ahead and pull that peashooter?”
I snarled. “
I’ll show you how real I am when I take it and cram it up your—”
“What do you want?”
I shot back.
“Well that’s just not gonna happen.”
“We’ll see about that,”
“Man, screw this guy!” one of them yelled from behind me just as I felt the barrel of a rifle suddenly press against my back. “Just say the word, Boss, and I’ll waste this foo—”
Before he could finish his sentence, I had already turned quicker than the blink of an eye and grabbed the barrel of the foolishly bold Stranger’s gun, crushing it in my right hand as if it were nothing more than a wad of paper. Before the others could react, I sent the foolish Stranger flying with a powerful shove to the chest and lunged toward Alias just as a rush of adrenaline poured into my veins and sent the world around me into slow motion. As I zoomed toward him with my right fist cocked behind my head; I was moving so fast that, by comparison, they all seemed to be barely moving at all. I was inches away from delivering a massive hook to Alias’ midsection when a vibrating sensation at my waist caused me to stop dead in my tracks.