Read The Phoenix Crisis Online

Authors: Richard L. Sanders

Tags: #mystery, #space opera, #sequel, #phoenix rising, #phoenix conspiracy, #phoenix crisis

The Phoenix Crisis

BOOK: The Phoenix Crisis
10.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The Phoenix
Crisis

 

Book Three of The Phoenix Conspiracy
Series

 

by Richard L. Sanders

 

Smashwords Edition

 

Copyright 2012 Richard L. Sanders

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes:

 

This ebook is licensed for
your personal enjoyment. It may not be re-sold for profit, however
I (the author) don’t really care if you share it with others. In
fact I do not support DRM and refuse to include it on any platform
that gives me the option. Just keep in mind that at the time of
publication I am an indebted student and every purchase is greatly
appreciated. Thank you for your support and
understanding.

 

Note to the reader: this is
Book Three in an ongoing series. If you have not read the first
book
The Phoenix Conspiracy
it may be found
on itunes, nook, kindle,
and other platforms.

 

Chapter 1

 

There wasn’t much to the apartment. Its dull
brown carpet was about as noticeable as a black dog in a dark room,
and the cheaply assembled furniture did nothing to give life to the
place. Even the monotony of the blank white walls was only broken
up by the even more boring replica artwork that hung on the vacant
surfaces. There was nothing special about this place, nothing that
separated it from the countless other rental flats that filled so
many of the massive buildings scraping the skies of Capital World.
But, Blackmoth supposed, it was a fitting enough place for a man to
die.

He’d tracked his prey to this location and
had watched the man’s routine over the past several days. For such
a wealthy man, he’d spent almost nothing on security. Other than
altering his appearance and making a crass effort to blend in with
the planet’s lower classes, he’d taken no measures to protect
himself. No doubt he believed he’d disappeared. Fallen off the
grid. Vanished into the ether.

Not that it mattered in the least. Even if
he’d put all his billions of q into saving his life and built
himself an impregnable fortress constantly guarded by thousands of
soldiers, it would have made no difference. Yanal Kemmer’s number
was up. The false masters wanted him dead. And God had agreed.
Blackmoth was merely a weapon. And a weapon in the hands of the One
True God never dulled, could never be blocked, and—most
importantly—never failed to reach its target. So, in truth, Yanal
had been doomed from the beginning. The events of this night were
merely the fulfillment of an eternal contract—the consequences of
which had always been inevitable. Written in the stars before any
world ever came to be.

Just over six
minutes
, he thought. He was sure that was
right, even though he had no time piece to check. Instead he relied
on his well-honed internal clock. A gift from the One True God. He
had no need for anything else. The mechanical tools of men, be they
gears, crystals, or electronics, it made little difference; none
could hope to be truer than the whispers of the One True
God.

As he waited he brushed his sleeve. Thinking
of the gruesome scar hidden behind the cloth. It was large and the
old wound had been cut deep. It was the kind of scar that people
took notice of, the kind that drew unwanted attention. Blackmoth
would be a poor servant of the One True God if he couldn’t be
invisible when he needed to be. His life’s work had ever been about
achieving results, not about getting noticed. Or getting caught.
Certainly the One True God could deliver him from such a situation,
but the One True God would never accept the services and offerings
of one so careless, Blackmoth was sure. So he always wore something
to cover the self-inflicted scar. To hide the unworthy from the
symbol of his pure devotion. 

Blackmoth took up a position in the hallway,
just out of sight of the door. He breathed silently and slowly, but
remained ever alert. Ever vigilant. Taking note of every creak and
moan, the rumble of air through the vents, even the faint
scratching of something going on in the apartment directly above.
None of it was the Truth. He waited, his mind filtering through the
different noises like air currents shifting away the fog. And then
the Truth was before him. He could hear Yanal’s footsteps approach
the door.

Blackmoth tensed and readied himself.

The sound of an electronic key sliding
through a lock. A beep of approval.

Blackmoth put his left hand into his pocket
and felt his fingers curl around the Gift of God.

The door opened and someone entered.
Blackmoth listened to the sounds, almost able to see the events in
his purified mind’s eye. The newcomer closed and locked the door,
put away his jacket, and activated the apartment’s dim lamp.
Blackmoth could tell by the weight of the footsteps that it was
Yanal. Once he heard Yanal approach, Blackmoth came out from around
the corner.

He knew he was a terrifying sight,
especially to one not expecting him. He was tall and his
well-developed muscles, perfectly toned, were easy to make out
through his tight shirt and exposed arms. Yanal’s eyes widened when
he saw him and his mouth opened, ready to shriek. But not fast
enough.

Like a blur, Blackmoth closed the distance
and in a single motion grabbed hold of Yanal so he couldn’t flee
and clamped a large, iron-like hand over the man’s mouth and nose
while pressing the man’s chest firmly against the wall with his
other hand. Yanal struggled as violently and desperately as he
could, arms flailing, pounding against Blackmoth, legs trying to
kick and break free. But it was like a fish flapping against the
jaws of a bear. Its efforts fruitless, its fate sealed. The One
True God had decided Yanal’s fate long ago; there was nothing he
could do to escape it. 

Blackmoth kept Yanal pinned to the wall with
his right hand while his left withdrew the Gift of God from his
pocket. He raised it so Yanal could see—the very large hypodermic
needle gleamed in the faint lamplight.

Yanal tried to bite Blackmoth’s fingers but
he ignored the pain and only held his victim steadier. He made a
hushing noise, as if he were trying to soothe a frightened animal,
while he opened Yanal’s clothes and found the appropriate
artery.


The One True God welcomes
your lost soul to his bosom,” Blackmoth said peacefully just before
stabbing the needle into Yanal’s artery and injecting the
fluid.

Yanal lurched and made one final struggle,
attempting to kick and break free, but Blackmoth held him
firmly.


As the bringer of darkness
I welcome you into the arms of the One True God. In His name—a name
I am unworthy to speak—I usher you into the fires and ices of His
judgment. May your broken soul find peace and absolution in the
darkness. And know that when this universe passes away, along with
the million more that follow it, we will meet again my
brother.”

He held Yanal until every last trace of
fight had gone out of him. As Yanal’s body suffered the effects of
a stroke and he slowly died of air embolism, Blackmoth held him.
Only when Blackmoth was sure Yanal was dead did he allow the corpse
to fall to the floor.


One-thousand four-hundred
and ninety-seven,” he whispered as he bent down and inspected the
corpse’s vital signs, verifying that the One True God’s work had
been done. Blackmoth had killed that many people over the years,
and in almost as many ways. He’d killed and murdered on almost
every planet in the Empire. And still he’d never been caught. He’d
mastered the deadly arts beyond anyone he’d ever heard of and knew
how to kill as swiftly and as cleanly as he liked. He could
contaminate and destroy the evidence if he wanted to, but sometimes
left evidence behind deliberately, just for the sport of
it.

He reached into Yanal’s jacket and withdrew
a small book of cigars. He lit one and then used its fiery end to
burn the skin on Yanal’s body where he’d inserted the needle. He
left the cigar there, still alight, as though Yanal had collapsed
from his stroke while enjoying one of his outrageously expensive
smokes.

Blackmoth’s own clothes had been selected to
keep back his own flakes of hair, skin, and other DNA traces. He
wore long tight sleeves and gloves as well as net over his face and
head. However it was an unnecessary precaution, even if he had left
traces of his DNA on the scene, as he sometimes did, the evidence
would only be useful in proving to Intel Wing that someone else had
been at the murder scene, not tell them who. They’d never in a
thousand years connect the evidence to Blackmoth. He was off the
grid. And had been for over a decade. Even he barely remembered his
true name and the person he used to be.

Ten years of faithful service to the One
True God had not erased the sins of his past. Not even a hundred
years would. Or even a hundred million slayings in the service of
that God. He was a sinner and as unworthy as the next soulless,
lifeless husk of a person that inhabited this part of the galaxy—or
any part, really.    

He took a moment to pray for his sins, and
to pray for Yanal’s soul, and then he left. It was time to report
to his false masters that the deed had been done.

 

***

 

Raidan sat in his office on the ISS
Harbinger and slowly tapped his fingers on the cedar desk. The
nearby bottle of whiskey was as empty as the black space around the
ship and, though he tried to concentrate, he found himself
preoccupied. There was a lot going on, more than most people could
possibly know. And managing it all was proving to be a delicate
balancing act. More than ever he needed his resources in position.
And as he received regular updates from The Organization’s eyes on
Renora—which was becoming more violent by the day, and was about to
get a whole lot bloodier—the bleakness of the situation was almost
overwhelming. And not for the first time he wished he was the sort
of person who could turn his back to the whole thing and drink
himself into a quick and happy grave.

There was a beep on the nearby intercom. He
tapped the button. “What is it?”


Message coming in, sir,”
reported Mister Mason. “Highest priority.”


I’ll take it in here,” he
replied.


Aye, sir.”

He shot a forlorn glance at his empty
whiskey bottle and thought the universe was quite an unfair place
when liquor was allowed to run dry and the steady stream of bad
news showed no sign of relenting.


Raidan,” said a new voice
over the speaker. “Are you alone?”


I am,” he replied. He knew
the voice transmitting to him over kataspace belonged to Mira
Pellew, one of his most trusted lieutenants, and perhaps the most
ruthless.


I have news from Capital
World. It’s regarding Yanal…”


He’s dead, isn’t he?” asked
Raidan.


Yes… how did
you—?”


Rebecca Hewitt, Apu
Malhotra, Bradley Porter, and now Yanal Kemmer… and all within the
last three days.” This was the latest and most high profile case in
the ever-growing list of Organization assets found dead on Capital
World. Obviously they were being identified and eliminated by the
Phoenix Ring. Someone was going to great efforts to curtail the
Organization’s operation there. If these slayings continued, their
resources there would evaporate. As it was, the loss of Yanal would
be a devastating financial blow.


I’m sorry…” said Mira. “I
know he was a friend of yours.”

Raidan took in a cold, deep breath before
replying. Yanal had been something of a friend. But this was war.
And Yanal wasn’t the first friend Raidan had lost to it. “How did
they do it this time?” he finally asked.


He was ambushed in his own
apartment. Local authorities ruled the death was from natural
causes. Apparently he had a stroke while smoking a
cigar.” 


Foolish Yanal…” said
Raidan. He’d warned the man to at least keep a group of personal
bodyguards around at all times. It wasn’t like Yanal couldn’t have
afforded it.


Yanal is a lost cause, but
I believe there are others in danger.”


I’m sure that’s true,” said
Raidan wondering who might be the Phoenix Ring’s next target. “How
many other high priority assets remain on Capital World that have
declined to evacuate the system?”


Fourteen. There are other
people whose lives are in danger too, plenty of low level operators
and the like, but as for high value civilian assets… there are
fourteen left on Capital World, though none as high value as Yanal
.”

BOOK: The Phoenix Crisis
10.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The King's Bishop by Candace Robb
Pecan Pies and Homicides by Ellery Adams
Revenge of the Manitou by Graham Masterton
Die Job by Lila Dare
Smoke River by Krista Foss
Field of Screams by R.L. Stine
The Sandalwood Princess by Loretta Chase
The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Thurgood Marshall by Juan Williams
Brother's Keeper by Elizabeth Finn