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Vendetta Dark | Chapter 2

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Josh Pederson, Author

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The Grand Master dropped a match into the chalice, igniting the black powder within, creating a scarlet mist that rippled toward the ceiling. The ceremony was almost complete.

The initiate’s journey, just like those who came before him, started at the first level. Much like the way monarchs of old molded their children into kings and queens, an initiate must be molded into a being of higher purpose. In essence, the skin of his or her former self must be shed so that a new individual can emerge. They’re taught and tested, broken and rebuilt, all for the sake of humanity. Or at least that’s what they told themselves. Every vision comes at a cost and is eventually distorted from its original state. Freedom turns into oppression, oppression into genocide, and genocide into rebellion, all sharing one single inevitability: death. Such is the cycle of human existence.

Daedalus stood back as two of his cloaked brothers stepped forward. Together they stripped the initiate of his white robes until he was as bare as the day he was born. He had a muscular body that brightened and dimmed in the waning light. Compared to others, he was a mark of human perfection, a sculpture in a mausoleum. He had something money could not buy: youth. Next, they dressed him in the black cloak of a full-fledged member, pulling it carefully over his shoulders, tucking his arms into the sleeves and tying the sash around his waist. The Grand Master stepped forward, placing his aged hands on the initiate’s cheeks.

“By what name shall we call our new brother?”

“Caligula,” the initiate answered.

There was a moment of silence, not so much filled with speculation as it was with surprise. Caligula was a Roman Emperor who ruled from 37 AD to 41 AD. His reign was chaotic and bloody. He believed himself to be a deity; he even went so far as to remove the heads of every statue depicting the gods and replaced them with his own. Historical accounts describe him as an insane tyrant, a pervert, and a sadist. He was the first Roman Emperor to be assassinated. Why the initiate would choose this as his name was a mystery to all of them.

“Very well,” the Grand Master said, pulling the hood up over his head. “From this moment forth, you will be known as Caligula.”

They all stepped forward, shaking Caligula’s right hand, welcoming him into their congregation. When it came time for Daedalus to welcome his new brother, he gripped his hand firmly, momentarily trapping him. Beneath the shadows of their hoods, they locked eyes.

“Welcome, brother,” Daedalus said, his tone cautious. “You’ve been initiated at a very important time. There are big things on the horizon.”

“So I’ve heard,” Caligula replied, hoping for more information. He was no longer an initiate, which placed him at equal standing with everybody except for the Grand Master. He was tired of secrets, or the ones he was left out of. “I would like to know more.”

Daedalus pulled free of Caligula’s grip and smirked.

“In time,” he said. “For now, know that we’ve waited in the shadows long enough.”

 

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Vendetta Dark | Chapter 2