CHAPTER 1

The lightning bolt hit the boat, blasting Zeke sideways, searing his right hand. "Damn! God, Cole, even in death is still calling down… Wait…" Zeke placed his left hand on the boat rail, stood up, adjusted his shades and took off his melted raincoat, dropping it to the deck. The coffin was sizzling, a large black burn mark scarring the lid. "If that was… Maybe…" Zeke snuck his fingers under the lip of the coffin and heaved.

"What are you doing?!" screamed the deckhand that had come from outside of the cockpit of the boat to check any damage done by the lightning. "That man is dead!" Zeke slid the coffin open. Cole's eyes were open. "God! Is he alive?"

Zeke let his head drop. "No. The lightning must have just triggered a spasm." He took a few heavy breaths. With that, Zeke took two fingers and pressed Cole's eyelids closed. "He's dead. And there is nothing that anyone can do about it." Both men slid the coffin lid upwards, resealing it.


The people called it a Deicide. Not that those freaks were gods, but the term was used in a newspaper somewhere, and it stuck. Murder of gods. Cole MacGrath may be a hero to those prostitutes and druggies down in New Marais, and the people living on the east coast, but not elsewhere. The death tolls were in the millions. MacGrath killed more people than the Beast, Hitler, and Stalin combined.

That isn't considered heroism to us. And since MacGrath is dead, someone else needs to be punished for the deaths of thirty-six million Conduits.


There was a knock at the door, three taps in quick succession. "Yeah, who is it?"

"Zeke Dunbar? We need to speak to you. It's important." Zeke grumbled as he stood up from his reclining chair, tossing the remote on the seat once he was standing up. He scratched his stomach, walked over to the wooden door, peering through the peep hole. There were two men dressed in suits, well built, with wires over their ears. They were obviously government, or at least a secret organization.

"What do you want?" The men looked at each other, then faced back to the door.

"We just want to talk to you about Cole MacGrath." Ah, shit, Zeke thought, more questions that I don't have the answer to. Zeke backed away from the door and slid the chain lock open, then twisted the handle.

"Ask away, but like I've told your buddies, I don't know much about Cole's mental state, alright? Up in Empire there was this black tar-"

"We don't have questions about Cole," the man on the right interrupted, "we have questions about you." Zeke squinted his eyes. "Do you realize that over thirty million people were murdered a week ago? And that in America, taking of ones life, unless in defense of home, person, or country, is a crime and is punished with an equal amount of life sentences or the death penalty?"

"Uh, yeah, but Cole did it to save everyone who had the plague. And he already got the death penalty… Activating that device killed him too."

"Yes, we know, but the families of the dead demand acquittal, and when hundreds of millions are affected by an event, the government must listen, or they will lose all power they hold over the population." Zeke shifted his stance.

"I don't really like how this is going. I'm gonna call my lawyer, and then-"

"Zeke, we aren't government. We're here to protect you. In," the man looked at his digital watch, "six minutes or less, a black van will drive into a certain hotel's parking lot, approximately four men will get out, go upstairs, bust down the door, and kidnap someone that they think is responsible for the deicide."

"Well, you better go talk to that guy, cause if it doesn't involve me, I don't much care. Besides, Wolfe is dead too." Zeke started to close the door.

"Zeke, it's you. Now you need to come with us, or things are going to go very wrong very fast. Get your shoes on."


The black hood was removed an hour after they had started driving. The SUV was in a long tunnel, seemingly infinitely long the row of lights in the center of the ceiling stretching farther than the eye can see. "Where the hell are we?" Zeke whispered to the man sitting to the right of him.

"That's classified information. Only two people know the exact location." The guy pointed to the driver. "Him, and the director." Zeke looked at the man's lap. There was a black hood laying there.

"Damn, if this ain't the most black ops shit I ever seen…" Zeke turned his head to left, attempting to look out the window. It was completely blacked out. "Not taking any chances, huh?"

"Nope. Even if you managed to somehow get the lock open on the belts," the man ran his thumb under the two bands of weaved metal thread that clipped to both the seat and the hood, "the rolling steel door keeps you from looking out the front window. We are taking every precaution. If you or I were compromised, then we would be shut down."

"How does the driver look out of the back window then? Y'know, for backing up and shit."

"The rear view mirror is a small television screen, not a mirror. There is a camera in both back lights."

"Hmph. Wait, you guys would get shut down?! The hell is happening down here?"

"You'll see soon enough." They drove for another five minutes before they came to a security door. The driver, the man on the left at Zeke's hotel room, showed his ID to a bubble camera. The door opened, the black and yellow 'warning tape' design splitting up the middle. The door was made up of two ten foot thick concrete blocks. It must take some serious hydraulics to move those bad boys.

The SUV continued on, turning right, then going down a large corkscrew road. There were elevators in the center, no space wasted. "How deep does this thing go?"

"Not too deep, the main shaft goes down only a quarter mile or so... Nothing too extreme. Just deep enough so that no heat signatures can be seen from above ground, no sound can be heard, and no forms of radiation can get in… or out." Just then a loud crash echoed up the shaft.

"DAMN! That was from a quarter mile down? You shoulda dug deeper!" The man folded his hands across his lap and faced forward. He didn't have the time, or the patience, for Zeke's attitude at the moment.