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Within the Collective...


Vincent Praxius
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(OOC: Sorry for the thread spam, I'm just trying to keep things organised!)

Within the Collective...

"Sweet Jesus."

Despite the acclamation, this was not a man in prayer. Filip Ražnatović moved back from the window, and stood hesitantly, unsure what to do.

He would be the first to admit that he had not been following the news regularly. The apocalyptic cult that had risen with frightening speed had made itself known only tangentially to him. He had heard the distant, eerie Latin chanting of parading, marching -- doing something communal, at any rate -- cultists in the nights of the past week. And he had heard rumours of the "New Jerusalem" being built close by.

He could hardly be criticised for this ignorance. He was a man on the run. He had been for years, now. Before they disappeared without trace from the area, the previous authorities had sought him -- for a crime he did not commit. The precise charges he had long forgotten; all he knew now was his innocence --

His gaze snapped back to the open window of the bedroom he was in. He was on the second floor of a grim apartment building. On any other day, the view would have been, actually, quite pretty. A river glinted in the sunlight, lined by trees. The stained grey urban landscape dissolved into the background of the reserve of nature that ran defiantly, albeit thinly, through the middle of the town, and which he had the good fortune to border.

Unfortunately, a squad of men clad in fascistic black uniforms had decided to besmirch this particular idyll with their presence, standing directly below his window. Looking up.

"Brother Ražnatović!"

An instinctive response he had grown to uniformed men that were calling his name now finally kicked in. He didn't care at this particular moment how they knew his name, or why they were calling it. He spun round and yanked open a drawer, taking out -- of all things -- a hollow Bible. He opened it, and withdrew the pistol he had grown so acquainted with over the years.

"Filip Ražnatović! This is the Holy Inquisition of the Final Church!"

He couldn't see what was holy about them, but he could certainly see they were inquisitorial. He took the pistol, and moved rapidly away, and into the short central corridor of his austere dwelling. He could take the main door and run down the stairwell -- but that would be insane. Instead, he withdrew, and made his way to his living room -- there was a balcony he could use there. When he got there, a breeze greeted him, rolling in from the open door to his sole escape route.

He tread quickly up to it, and peeked carefully outside. Sure enough, the men had gone -- gone into the building, and were presumably making their way up to his flat. He checked again, and then left the room, grimacing at the wave of cold that hit him. He was still in his bedclothes, which helped very little. He leant forward on the railings and looked down. It wasn't too hard a jump. He spotted a patch of soft turf.

He was about to leap over the railings, when he felt something grasp his arm all too firmly. It was all he could do to stop himself from yelling.

"Brother. It would be best if you came with us."

A thought hit him, at that most inopportune of times. Where is everyone?

* * *

Since the Collective had moved in to assume control of the region, a bizarre form of silence had descended over the populace. The situation, after all, was somewhere between terrifying and insane. Within the space of days, the authorities had collapsed and withdrawn to some unknown place, and the only contact they maintained was the government radio station, which had become crackling and intermittent. Corrupt they may have been, but in their stead had risen the apocalyptic Eschaton cult, which had turned churches into centres of government and proclaimed its Final Gospel from the barrel of a gun. The TV stations, when they worked, all displayed the face of the new Emperor-Pontiff, the enigmatic demagogue, Vincent Praxius Garton, his cross-emblazoned visor cap and sunglasses prominently helping to mask his person.

Now, the situation had intensified somewhat.

The hamlet of Jelcik had, with staggering lack of luck, managed to find itself in the middle of the takeover, and cloaked cultists and uniformed Inquisitors regularly made their way through the settlement, chanting, marching, or silently moving. The few hundred inhabitants had all but withdrawn into their homes for the past week, venturing out only to furnish provisions. They had, with tacit unanimity, decided to weather out the storm.

Unfortunately, that storm seemed in no danger of subsiding, and that was all too clear now, as the amplified drone of a powerful monotone voice rang out across the neighbourhood once more, with enormous predictability. "All residents are to report to the Supervising Inquisitor for compulsory labour and service to the construction of the New Jerusalem."

Well, it at least confirmed the rumours. Rumours that had seemed mad a week ago, Anka noted.

She sighed. There was little option but to comply. To help satisfy the wishes of the Collective.

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OOC: I must say, very well-written. I like it.
OOC: I must say you write very well and I shall thoroughly enjoy being your rival and opponent. :)

OOC: I agree with these above statements! Cant wait to read some more. :D

Edited by JEDCJT
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(OOC: Thanks for the comments :))

Zechariah sat back in his chair, enjoying the cool night air and the view from his balcony. Searchlights lit up the sky where the New Jerusalem was rising from the ground, illuminating the heavens in diffuse white light.

He heard the sound of several pairs of metal-heeled boots behind him. He made no move to turn around -- he knew who they were.

"Your holiness!"

He smiled to himself. "Thank you, Inquisitors. You may depart to your duties."

They did as they were told. He was left, still looking ahead into the distance, and he could hear the erratic breathing of another man behind him. He stayed silent for a while before speaking.

"Filip. It's been a while."

"Who are you? And why the **** have you brought me here?"

"That kind of talk will get you nowhere, brother." He stood up, and turned around, facing Filip. He had changed somewhat -- for the worse. He was ragged and looked rather -- broken. He was still wearing his bedclothes. He could see the confusion on Filip's face dissolve in a flood of recognition.

"Dmitar?"

Zechariah held up a hand. "I am Archbishop Zechariah of Anteslavonia. You shall address me as 'Your holiness'."

"Dmitar, what the hell is this?"

"How the tables have turned, Brother."

Silence.

"The Second Jubilee is upon us. The meek shall inherit the earth."

"What are you talking about?"

The Archbishop sighed. "This --" he waved his hand vaguely behind him -- "This is the Kingdom of God."

"If it's the kingdom of anything, it's the kingdom of insanity. What have you dragged me here for?"

"I had wanted to see ... an old friend."

There was silence again.

"Thirteen years ago, I reported you to the Government."

Filip doubled back. He spoke calmly. "What?"

"For He hath put down the mighty from their seat... I have made you meek, brother. I have prepared you for the Apocalypse of the Lord."

"This Church -- you've been involved in this for thirteen years? And you put me through thirteen years of !@#$ to satisfy your -- your madness?"

"Thus commanded the Lord. And now I present you with your choice. You shall either join us in exultation, or you shall be condemned to a first and second death. For your name shall be wiped from the Book of Life --"

"Spare me the cult babble. You want your answer? Here it is."

To hell with caution. He clenched his fist, and punched the self-proclaimed Archbishop in the face. He could see the Inquisitors had noticed, and were running to the balcony. "Sorry. Can't hang around." He did what he had been planning to do when they caught him first -- braced himself, and leapt over the railings of the balcony.

Zechariah grimaced with the pain. After a few minutes of commotion, he sighed, and muttered under his breath, making the sign of the cross.

"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do..."

Edited by VinceG
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(OOC: Thanks for the comments :) )

OOC: No problem... :D

Zechariah sat back in his chair, enjoying the cool night air and the view from his balcony. Searchlights lit up the sky where the New Jerusalem was rising from the ground, illuminating the heavens in diffuse white light.

He heard the sound of several pairs of metal-heeled boots behind him. He made no move to turn around -- he knew who they were.

"Your holiness!"

He smiled to himself. "Thank you, Inquisitors. You may depart to your duties."

They did as they were told. He was left, still looking ahead into the distance, and he could hear the erratic breathing of another man behind him. He stayed silent for a while before speaking.

"Filip. It's been a while."

"Who are you? And why the **** have you brought me here?"

"That kind of talk will get you nowhere, brother." He stood up, and turned around, facing Filip. He had changed somewhat -- for the worse. He was ragged and looked rather -- broken. He was still wearing his bedclothes. He could see the confusion on Filip's face dissolve in a flood of recognition.

"Dmitar?"

Zechariah held up a hand. "I am Archbishop Zechariah of Anteslavonia. You shall address me as 'Your holiness'."

"Dmitar, what the hell is this?"

"How the tables have turned, Brother."

Silence.

"The Second Jubilee is upon us. The meek shall inherit the earth."

"What are you talking about?"

The Archbishop sighed. "This --" he waved his hand vaguely behind him -- "This is the Kingdom of God."

"If it's the kingdom of anything, it's the kingdom of insanity. What have you dragged me here for?"

"I had wanted to see ... an old friend."

There was silence again.

"Thirteen years ago, I reported you to the Government."

Filip doubled back. He spoke calmly. "What?"

"For He hath put down the mighty from their seat... I have made you meek, brother. I have prepared you for the Apocalypse of the Lord."

"This Church -- you've been involved in this for thirteen years? And you put me through thirteen years of !@#$ to satisfy your -- your madness?"

"Thus commanded the Lord. And now I present you with your choice. You shall either join us in exultation, or you shall be condemned to a first and second death. For your name shall be wiped from the Book of Life --"

"Spare me the cult babble. You want your answer? Here it is."

To hell with caution. He clenched his fist, and punched the self-proclaimed Archbishop in the face. He could see the Inquisitors had noticed, and were running to the balcony. "Sorry. Can't hang around." He did what he had been planning to do when they caught him first -- braced himself, and leapt over the railings of the balcony.

Zechariah grimaced with the pain. After a few minutes of commotion, he sighed, and muttered under his breath, making the sign of the cross.

"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do..."

OOC: Again very nice. Hey, wait a minute. New Jerusalem is the name of my capital! :lol: Hmm, that's gonna cause some tensions, I am certain.

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