The wind howled outside the second story window as Vronic tossed on his hard queen-sized bed. The sheets tangled around his legs, and his flannel pajama pants twisted around him, pulling and pinching his skin. He muttered in his sleep. The wind outside pushed dark clouds over the bustling city. They promised rain soon — rain the valley rarely saw.
A small gasp escaped Vronic’s lips and he jerked awake. The room was as dark as he could make it. Even with the blinds all drawn, light from the city still allowed him to make out his small dresser and the larger armoire in the far corner. Just a dream. Always that dream, he thought, as he took a deep breath to calm his pounding heart. The same dream had plagued him for weeks now. Although he knew it was only a dream created by his mind, it still frightened him. It was not a vision of things to come, or his ancestors truly contacting him. The dream was simply a representation, an expression of his inner fears. It always started the same. Standing in a large conference room, with vaulted ceilings and a heavy oak table. The chairs were all filled — His father, his grandfather, and older faces that he knew only from pictures. The faces of the founders of his order. The all looked at him, spoke to him, called out his name. The words they spoke were always the same. “Do not lose faith. Stay true to the Order. Your work will bring to pass the work of God. Do not falter, for your fate.” Then, they would fade to cold dark nothingness. Everything faded to blackness. He shivered at the thought. Darkness forever, not able to feel any sensation but cold, icy cold until all memory of warmth faded. The fate of those who fell. Outer Darkness.
He ran a hand through his short-cropped hair. The light carpet felt soft under his feet as he walked into the bathroom connected to the bedroom. He lived alone in a small three-bedroom home. It wasn’t anything spectacular, just enough to fit his needs. This morning, like most, started with the oppressive depression of being alone. As Vronic prepared for the nights work he offered a silent prayer. Lord, Why have I been l left with this burden? Grant me the strength I need to endure. Help me to do what I must while here on Earth. All that Vronic had known had been extinguished. Only he remained, and he had to keep going, keep true to what he knew was right until his God called him home. He was the last paladin in the world, the last righteous person on Earth. The New World Order controlled all communication lines, and they hunted the paladins down with a fervor and zeal to rival the most dedicated of persons. Through his meditation, the way he communed with God and those who had gone before, he knew that he must remain in Las Vegas, that he must find and teach whomever he could, that he had a duty to perform. He would seek out the most corrupt and destroy them, but true purification would only come by the hands of the destroying angels. When they would come, Vronic knew not — only that he must remain until called. Remain, stay true, and work.
He had received word from his informant. There was going to be a gathering of changers, those who had given up humanity for the ability to change into animals, in an abandoned warehouse on Quail Avenue. They would need to be purged. They, even more so than any Warlock, had known what they had given up. They had turned to the devil. Most were more animal than human. Vronic dressed in his standard paladin clothing: a white dress-shirt, black dress-pants, and a thin black tie with a double windsor knot. As he walked out of his room, he grabbed his black three-fourths length overcoat of waxed-canvas cotton. He hitched on his coat as he walked down the dark hallway of his house. Thunder crashed outside, and the drum of rain began. It escalated quickly to a consistent drum-drum-drum. Fitting, Vronic thought as he walked into his small meditation room. The walls were painted with scenes of valor and honor, of family and friends, all long gone the way of the earth. His Wakizashi rested on a stand at the far end of the room, and next to it in a wooden box was his Kimber 1911. The .45 caliber round wasn’t really necessary. The paladin magic that was imbued within the gun made the caliber not as important. The paladin order had been blessed from on high with the power to cleanse the earth. There was truly no limit to what they could do; the only limit was their faith. However, the gun had been his father’s. He walked to the center of the room and knelt in meditation. The sound of the waterfalls in three of the room’s corners calmed his mind and brought him peace as he closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing.
It was almost an hour before Vronic stood, holstered his 1911 and tied his Wakizashi on his belt. On his desk, he looked over the notes and journal entries he had made. It was one of the principles of the order. Journal every experience, keep a record of those you have cleansed and those you have saved. The words of his father suddenly filled his mind. “Remember to keep this record, son. It will be the key to saving many generations in the end of all times.” Vronic had hoped that he would be able to personally hand his records on to the next paladin to be raised, a hope that seemed to be thinner with each passing day. The new “travel documents” required by the New World Order made it near impossible to travel for a paladin. The documents would be too hard to fake on his own and he had no influence, power, or money to get a team to make the fake documents. If there were other paladins outside of Vegas, it would most likely be the same for them. If the NWO fell, then someone could find his notes and bring the light of the lord back to this part of the world. Vronic bowed his head, saying a small prayer in his heart. Lord, how can I continue to have faith? It is so dark. Who will carry this torch when I am gone? How will righteousness be found on the earth once I am gone? Suddenly a feeling of peace filled his heart and mind.
Changers are meeting tonight in an abandoned warehouse on Quail Avenue,he wrote solemnly. I don’t know who will read these words, but know that I have kept the faith and sought an apprentice daily. I fear when I die none will be left to keep God from destroying this city.
The people of this city are all wicked. They seek nothing good, noteworthy, righteous or of good report. Furthermore, they seek to do evil in all things, care not for one another, or for the land that provides all they have. They are a wicked and perverse generation. There has been an increase in the number of changers and witches in this valley. I have sought to find out who is pulling them in and have yet to find any reliable source or reason for the increase. I believe that they are actively recruiting through the nightclub PURE. The management is definitely made of changers and witches, and I believe a warlock leads them all. Another nightclub of interest is the Ghostbar. I know that the managers there are warlocks following the witch Marissa.
When Vronic left his small house, rain still poured heavily from dark leaden skies. He pulled up a heavy, waxed hood, keeping the rain off his head and from running down his back. His desert landscaping was flooding with the sudden rain, rivulets of water cutting through the small rocks and bubbling along the dry river bed rocks. The few plants looked near drowned in the downpour. He climbed into his Night Armor Xterra and turned the key.
12:05 am showed up in green on the stereo. Vronic backed out of the steep driveway. It would be a twenty minute drive to warehouse. The city streets were empty, but when he got to the freeway, it was populated with vehicles. Not crowded, but more than there were in most cities. He drove along the 95 South and took the exit for the I-15 southbound. The Strip looked as alive as usual, lights and neon signs making the sky glow, cars bumper to bumper from one end to the next, and people packed like sardines along the sidewalks. Vronic’s stomach hurt thinking about them. I can’t believe the wickedness of this generation. He grimaced as he remembered an old saying from his grandfather. “Las Vegas may have the most wicked people of all the earth, but it also has the most righteous, to keep them in check.” Where are those righteous now, grandpa?
Vronic shook his head ruefully. One man to counterbalance this? He gestured out the window towards the lights of the Las Vegas Strip, where scantily clad women paraded themselves about, and men drank until they knew nothing. The lights of signs advertising for various shows, entertainments, and “gentlemen’s clubs” gleamed in the night and made reflections in the water on Vronic’s windows. Yet, he remembered the promise of the Lord. As long as there is one righteous among you I will not utterly destroy the city.
He parked behind a semi-truck a block from the warehouse. The rain had died down to a slow drizzle. If 35 years of living in Las Vegas was any indicator, it would stop soon. He checked his 1911 in its thigh holster. He could see the warehouse in question. Two bouncers stood out front, their large forearms wrapped with tattoos. He slipped two more magazines into the case on his hip. There was a small pop as he opened his door. Small puddles in the road reflected the street lights. He looked up into the gray sky, the light of the valley reflected off the clouds. It created a dim ambient glow. He bowed his head and mumbled a near silent prayer.
“Father in heaven. I thank thee for this opportunity to serve thee. Thank you for my life. Thank you for all that I have. Bless this day, my work, and what I do. Allow me to return home this morning. In the name of thy Son. Amen.”
He lifted his eyes and looked again at the warehouse. His eyes burned with a soft yellow light as the spirit of the Lord descended upon him. It filled him with light and glory. He felt the power of the Lord fill every part of his being. It expanded his mind, his soul, and his spirit. He walked down the street. He drew up his hood as he bowed his head. The guards glared at him as he got close.
“What do you want?” A gruff voice. His throat sounded raw.
“Nothing that you can give.” Vronic responded.
The guards eyes widened in momentary shock. They didn’t have time for much else.
Vronic’s Wakizashi flashed from under his coat. The blade passed through the first ones neck like a hot knife through butter. It cut clean through the others head. The sword was imbued with the power of God. As it passed through both men, they flashed into dust. The motes drifted slowly through the air as their clothing fell empty to the ground. Any scream or warning they could have given cut short.
He walked slowly around the warehouse looking for a ladder of some kind to allow him access to the roof. There was only one ladder, but it was protected by a metal covering. However, he did find a back door. He knelt and pulled out his lock picking kit. The lock was easy to pick. There was a small click, and he pushed open the door into a small hallway. The dark hall was empty. He moved slowly, crouched, and ready to defend himself. The warehouse was silent as he moved into a large open room. In the center there was a large circle drawn on the floor. Three men in long cloaks stood outside the circle. Their hands were stretched above their heads. In the center of the circle there was a man and a cat. He knew there would be more Changers within the building. It wouldn’t be smart to use his gun. As he watched, the man in the center pulled a knife from his belt. The cat flailed and clawed at the man as he picked it up by the scruff of its neck. He took the knife to the cats throat and spilled its blood on the concrete floor. The man quickly skinned the cat, leaving its entrails on the floor and placing its fresh skin across his shoulders. The empty skin hung limply on his back as blood ran down his bare back.
The men around the circle dropped their arms to their sides. The man standing the furthest from Vronic, and at the head of the circle embraced the cat clad man.
“Now go, and bring us the flesh of an innocent, and you will be a changer.”
The man nodded and turned towards a door heading towards the front of the warehouse. Vronic decided to strike, despite the risk. He pulled his 1911 and started shooting. Two went down quickly, and the other two made a quick escape through the door at the far end of the room. The warehouse was silent as he moved towards the bodies. One was still moving slowly, crawling away from him. He would die before he moved far. The bullets of his weapon were soaked in consecrated olive oil. The olive oil acted as a poison to these corrupted men. If they were less corrupted, it could act as a healing balm. It could cleanse them. However, they were so far gone, there was only one thing the olive oil could do–clean them from the earth.
He opened the door, ducking behind the wall as gunfire erupted down the hall. Bullets bounced off the wall. The sound was muffled through his in-ear plugs. He held his gun calmly as he turned his head to try and peek around the corner. The hall was dark and from the corner of his eye he couldn’t make anything out. He turned away from the hall and quickly scanned the large room again. There was another door, up a flight of stairs. He made for it, quickly crossing the large room. The stairs he took two at a time and tried the handle. Locked. He could hear his pursuers moving down the hall. Their shouting getting louder. They would enter the large room below in only a moment.
“Lord, I call on your power and authority. Open this door.” He tried it again. The handle turned. He pushed open the door with ease. Just as he moved inside, he heard someone shout.
“Go around! He is in the store room upstairs!”
The room was dark and filled with boxes. Vronic moved slowly around the edge of the room, looking for a way through the clutter. He found one narrow passage about halfway to the room’s outer wall. It ran straight through the room and to the far wall. There he followed the wall to another door. This one opened easily. The hall he entered into was empty. He looked both ways down the short hall before he moved. He ran left holding his 1911 at the ready. The offices here were empty. He checked them all. Better safe than sorry. He heard heavy footfalls coming from a door at the far end of the hall. Vronic ducked inside a small office break room, putting his back to the door. The small kitchen looked clean and well kept. You notice funny things when your life is in danger, Vronic thought as he listened to the footsteps approach the door. The door opened loudly, and several men flooded into the hall. They had two dogs with them, sniffing the air as the moved. Their eyes held the intelligence of men. They were not mere dogs; they were changers taking on the form of dogs. More here than I thought there would be, Vronic thought. Lord, I pray that thou wilt protect me and give me the strength to defeat your foes.
Turn, Shoot. The spirit spoke to his mind. It filled him with the glory of God.
Vronic turned, exposing himself as he raised his 1911. Time seemed to slow. The two dogs snarled. The dogs leapt into motion, bounding forward. They looked to be moving through Jell-o. The men were raising their weapons, sighting in on Vronic. Vronic pulled his trigger. His gun fired. The bullet struck the changer standing in the middle of the group. The glory of God exploded from the bullet, consuming the changers and the dogs. The orange and yellow flames consumed the flesh of those it touched, but the walls and the building itself were only bathed in glorious light. The heat warmed his face and his arms. He lowered his 1911, holstering it beneath his overcoat. As the last of the flesh was consumed by the fires of God, by His glory, the flames dissipated, leaving only an empty hallway. It looked as if nothing had happened.
Thank you, Lord for your blessing and protection.
Vronic walked through the burnt hall and down the stairs. At the bottom, there was a room filled with caged animals. Their howls, cries, barks, and the rattle of the cages filled Vronic with anger and pain. He walked slowly through the room to the desk at the far end. Vronic sat down in front of the computer. “What do we have here?” he thought as he browsed through the files and the calendar on the computer. If Vronic believed in luck, he would have been astounded. The email account of someone who was here tonight was still open. He quickly browsed the email subjects, nothing looked out of place. He searched through the folders and clicked on “Warlocks”.
This should lead to something useful, he thought, as he quickly looked over the list of emails. He opened the first one. As Vronic read the through the email, his jaw dropped.
Your new recruits better be ready. Mordiki found the last paladin. We strike next week’s full moon. We will be preparing on the 23rd and 26th at PURE and Ghostbar respectively. Be there.
Vronic read the email three times over. The next thing he knew, he was writing a response.
“Hunter is dead, you will never have me. I will not die unless God wills it.
Vronic stood and ran to the exit. A plan was already forming in his mind.
He burst through the front door and ran to his den. In moments, he had his journal opened to the next blank page. He stared at the blank page and bowed his head.
“Father in Heaven,
I thank thee for all my blessings and ask that thou wilt confirm that my forming plan is of thee and thy will. In His name I pray. Amen. “
His pen flashed on the page.
“Today, August 21st, I was led to a den of changers. I killed them all. However, while searching the den, I stumbled upon an open email account. Within it I read an email addressed to one “Hunter.” I assume he is dead. The email claimed that one Mordiki has found where I live and that, furthermore, the next full moon, which is on the 28th, they will strike and kill me. By the will of God, this will not be the case. I will make sure I escape and relocate before they have a chance to strike. This failure will for sure be the fall of Mordiki, the warlocks don’t like to be tricked. They will find an empty house, and Mordiki will take the blame.” Vronic stopped. His mind was filling with clouds. Is this what I should be doing? Is there another plan. A plan of God. Then a thought filled his mind, one that he wasn’t sure was his.
Hide this record up unto the Lord. Preach unto the heathens the truth. Allow your testimony to be sealed with blood. That your blood might cry from the dust. That the judgments of God may be just.
Vronic sat for a moment longer. Thinking. Pondering.
I will go into the canyons of Red Rock and there hide up my sword and my record unto the Lord. The Lord has shone unto me what I must do. I will show forth His power and glory unto this people. I will go and preach unto them in their dens of evil and show unto the Lord my sacrifice. That his judgements may be just unto this people. That I may be washed clean of their sin. I go to my death. By what means, I know not.
With that, Vronic shut the book and stood. The journal would be deposited with those of his father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather. Records older than that were taken by the Order before the great downward spiral. Before the spirit of God ceased to strive with man. Vronic still remembered that day seven men dressed in long white robes had shone up. They had spoken quietly with his father for almost an hour and then had taken his large chest that he had kept under his bed. That had been nearly forty years ago.
Vronic dashed back out of the house and climbed back into his Xterra. He could see the red glow of the sun on the eastern horizon. The drive out to Red Rock was short. He parked in Calico Basin and prepared to hike into the actual park from there. The morning air was already warm. Vronic pulled his backpack from the car. It would be near a ten mile hike into the canyon he was heading towards.
As Vronic trekked across the red mountains and desert, he marvelled at the creations of God. There was life, both creatures and plants, even in this barren land. Even here there was beauty, and the hand of God was evident.
How can this people not see the works of God in all things?
People think they are so smart, that they know so much. They willfully ignore what is right
in front of them.
In short order, he found himself climbing down a short shaft of rock. He was in a narrow canyon at the bottom of a rock slide. Under the rockslide was a small cave, which he was climbing down into. He climbed into the back of the small cave, and there he pulled his pack off and dropped it to the ground. Vronic opened the buckles and unrolled the top of the pack. Within was a small aluminum box. He knelt and removed the box, placing it on the stones near his feet.
Vronic quickly moved a few of the larger rocks away, revealing a large aluminum box beneath the caves loose floor. The box that contained the writings of his father, grandfather, and his great grandfather. Vronic removed the lid and took his smaller aluminium box and placed it inside. His own writing within the smaller box. Vronic kelt there and bowed his head in prayer.
“Father, direct my actions that I might find favor in your eyes. Amen.”
He sat a while longer in silent meditation. Allowing the spirit to fill his mind with revelations. Before he rose and left on what he knew would be his final objective, he placed his most prized possession within the box. His 1911 and his wakizashi. He replaced the larger box lid and again covered the box with the natural stones of the cave floor.
As Vronic pulled up to the Palms Casinov he ran through this plan one more time. He didn’t risk using the valet parking instead he drove to the third level of the parking garage. The Ghostbar was on the fifty fifth floor. Getting in would be easy enough. Getting out was the question. He walked slowly letting his mind empty. It quickly filled again with thoughts, plans, and a small part of doubt and fear. He quickly pushed away those thoughts, seeking instead the spirit of God. He sought the blessings and spirit of God. Soon he found himself singing an old hymn in his mind.
“ MAKE UP AND WRITE A SWEET HYMN ABOUT FAITH!”
The elevator door opened unto the top floor. The club was nearly empty. There were only a few staff cleaning the room, preparing it for the that night. It was only midday, and the staff was just as Vronic had suspected. Slipping in wasn’t hard at all. Now he would need to hide, wait and reveal himself when the time was right.
Vronic could hear the loud music thumping, The vibrations shook the walls and, by extension, the air duct he was hiding in. The bathroom below him was empty for the moment. People had been coming in and out for hear the last hour. Vronic slowly climbed out of the shaft and into the stall below. The bathroom was built nicely with the tile floors and granite counters. Vronic walked into the overly noisy night club with his head down. He could easily feel the difference in his mind. His body suddenly filled with urges that he thought were long suppressed. He watched as people danced and pushed their bodies together in a rolling mass. His body craved to be like them. His mind filled with thoughts and desires…
Vronic shook his head. He thought these thoughts and feelings, these desires, were long since conquered. he soon found himself whispering and singing in his mind the same hymn he had song in the parking lot. A peace settled over him and his mind began to clear as he continued singing. He made his way through the crowded nightclub and out unto the VIP deck area. Vronic was surprised when the bouncers didn’t try to stop him; one even nodded like an old acquaintance. Vronic quickly nodded back, thankful for the protection and help of the spirit of God. He walked quickly to the small wall surrounding the outside patio. It was here that he would testify against this generation. Vronic jumped onto the wall and, in a moment, his mind filled with what he had to say.
“You wicked and perverse generation!” Vronic yelled from his small platform.
“You have wilfully disobeyed your God.” The outside patio was quiet. Everyone had turned and was now staring at Vronic as he continued to speak.
“I testify unto you that the sword of justice hangeth over you! You are a wicked and perverse generation! How could you have fallen so far! Repent I say, Repent! The Lord has weighed thee and thou are found wanting! You have forsaken your God! You have poisoned this promised land and only for the righteous sake are ye spared. Yea, the destruction of this city is nigh at hand. The destruction of the Lord shall fall upon the inhabitants of the land until ye are utterly destroyed and the face of the land is wiped clean! Repent, repent and the Lord will spare thee!”
The noise within the club had died, and many people had pushed their way out to hear Vronic talk. Most stared at him, a look of murder in their eyes. Many, obviously ready to charge and push him to his death. Vronic continued unafraid of those before him.
“The Lord knows your sins, your evil works that you keep secret and commit in the dark. All is light before the Lord. All is known unto Him! Ye this day seek to cast me out from your presence. Behold, I testify unto you, ye are ripe for destruction!”
Six of the VIP members stood, their chairs toppling over in their haste. Each drawing a handgun as they stood. Vronic stood on the wall, continuing as six men pointed their barrels at this chest.
“If you kill me, my blood will cry unto the Lord for vengeance! I know in your hearts you wish to kill me. Yea, I know my words cutteth to your very souls! And yet, you stay your hand!”
At that moment, two of the six pulled their triggers. Despite being only feet away, they both shot wide. In the next instant both were on the ground, convulsing uncontrollably.
“Witness, the power of God!” Vronic’s heart was racing; he was certain he had died when he heard the shots fire.
“Behold, the Lord will not allow me to die until I finish what he has sent me to say. You tread upon the word of God, ye cast it out as a thing of no worth! Yea, you cast out and kill His paladins!” One of the remaining VIP’s climbed onto his table and stood shouting.
“You lie! We know there is no God, some vile sorcery is the cause of this!” He gestured to the two men still convulsing on the floor. “There is no wickedness or righteousness! Each of us is allowed and free to choose for himself!”
“Oh ye child of the Devil! You do not hear nor understand His word! Yea, all men are free to choose liberty or eternal damnation, but ye have said there is no wickedness and no righteousness, it is not so! The Devil has hold of your heart!”
Vronic tried to yell over the resulting shouts but his voice was drowned in the voices of the crowd.
“ Liar!”, “This man is mad!”, “Take him to the High Warlock!” “Let him be put to death!”
Three men grabbed Vronic by his arms and yanked him from the wall. Immediately, Vronic began to struggle against his captors.
Vronic, relax, settle, go quietly, this is why you have come here.
The spirit constrained Vronic and he stopped resisting and went quietly. His captors placed cuffs on his hands and quickly took him to a black SUV. The drive to Pure at Caesars Palace was short. Vronic was roughly pushed out for the car and through the courtyard. Once in the night club, Vronic found himself in a small room, cuffed to a chair, and surrounded by four warlocks.
“You have lied to my people, saying they are wicked and know not God. Yet, how can they know that which is unknowable? how can they know a being who does not exist?”
“God exists, he is the creator of all life. If it was as you say, if there was no righteousness, no sin, no good and no evil then we would not exist, for there would be no God.”
“You are deceived by your primitive mind! you are a fool,” the head Warlock shouted. Turning to his companions, he commented. “This is the last Paladin that had Mordiki shaking in his boots? Those changers are a sorry lot.”
The other three warlocks laughed, and Vronic shook his head as the warlock continued.
“So, you have come to show us the power of God have you? Well lets see it. Let us put an end to this game.” The warlock motioned to the mirror in the back of the room. A moment later, two changers came through the door. They grabbed Vronic by his shoulders. As soon as their hands touched him, they both began to shake uncontrollably. Vronic stood, the cuffs falling from his wrists. A blast of light shot out in a circle from Vronic, sending the warlocks and changers flying into the walls.
“Your people, as you call them, have chosen to be subject to the devil! They have chosen to be carnal, and devilish. For this purpose, I have come to testify. You have misunderstood that which God has given you. you believe, because your intelligence, that God does not exist. You have been lead away by the devil, who seeks to destroy you. The devil doesn’t need you to believe in him, only for you to not believe in God.” Vronic stood boldly, his voice commanding, and firm, yet soft.
“Well, you misunderstand. I know the devil is real. I know who I serve.” The head warlock spoke as he climbed back to his feet.
“You, yes, those under you, no. This testimony I bare unto you that your judgement might be just.”
“I will give you one chance to deny your god.” The head warlock continued as he drew a handgun and leveled it at Vronic’s head.
“I know who I serve. I will not deny God. You have chosen eternal damnation. My blood, and the blood of those who follow you will be on your hands!” Vronic yelled definitely at the head warlock. The gunshot reverberated off the walls of the small room as Vronic’s body fell to the floor.
“Clean this up,” the warlock said as he moved to the door.
One of the warlocks hesitated a second before following the others out. Something had awoken within him. Something he had never known was there. A light had begun to shine. A seed had been planted.