tagNovels and NovellasSchemes of the Unknown Unknown Ch. 17

Schemes of the Unknown Unknown Ch. 17

bybradley_stoke©

Chapter Seventeen
Intrepid - 3755 C.E.


The lawn surrounding the villa that Isaac and his five surviving comrades had secured was littered with the bodies of the recently slaughtered. One corpse belonged to Jacob who'd suffered a martyr's death in the struggle to secure the villa for true believers. Two belonged to the accursed heretical Baptists who'd obstinately fought to defend the villa. But to no avail. One of the heretics had died at Isaac's hands. Isaac's had jumped on top of the man, tugged him forcefully by the beard that the heretic had sinfully let grow and smashed his head repeatedly onto the hard patio. It took four, maybe five, attempts but at last there was a satisfying crack of the skull and the fresh dribble of blood from the nostrils, ears and mouth that was proof that Isaac had released the heretic's soul to eternal damnation.

However, had Ezra not been so watchful Isaac too might have been killed as another of the crazed bearded heretics leapt onto Isaac's back while he was bashing open the skull of his comrade. Like all Holy Crusaders the only weapons at Ezra's disposal were those he could improvise from what little he could find. In this case, he employed nothing more than a rock that he'd dug out of the soil and used that to first smash the assailant's nose and then to bring it down again and again onto the heretic's head until it also cracked.

The bodies of the two Baptist heretics and the one Christian martyr weren't the only ones scattered about the lawn. There were three others which hadn't yet been cleared away by the Intrepid's waste disposal systems and were therefore less than a day old. Judging by the fact that the heads were shaved as well as the faces, these naked men were probably Buddhists. There was further evidence that the Baptists hadn't been at the villa very long at all from the sticky sap in the groove of the cross carved into a tree. They'd probably only secured the property from the Buddhists a few hours before Isaac and his comrades in turn wrested it away from them.

One of the Buddhists was moaning. He wasn't quite dead.

"What should we do?" asked Elijah.

"He is worse than a heretic," said Isaac. "He is a pagan. He should be burnt alive. Recall Chapter 7 Verse 15 of the Book of Joshua: 'And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.'"

"We haven't got anything to burn him with," said Elijah.

"It says in Chapter 17, Verses 2 to 5, of the Book of Deuteronomy that 'If there be found among you... man or woman, that ... hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;... Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.'" said Isaac.

"In that case, then let the Lord's will be done," said Ezra who was still carrying the stone he'd used to kill the Baptist heretic. He threw it with some force into the Buddhist pagan's face. Then, with blood staining both the stone and his hands, he kicked over the prostrate body so that the pagan could look directly towards the sky.

"Is he still alive?" asked Elijah.

"Best to be sure," said Ezra who bent down on his knees and hammered the stone onto the Buddhist's skull until the blood flowed from the nose and mouth so abundantly that the pagan couldn't possibly still be alive.

"Amen," said Isaac.

"Amen," echoed his few remaining companions.

Isaac surveyed those around him. With Jacob dead there was now even fewer true believers. The first to die was David and of all the recent deaths this was the one that most troubled Isaac. The others had died as martyrs to the cause: which in truth was now simply to find and secure a place to live in the perilous regions of the Intrepid's outermost level.

It had become ever more apparent that Isaac and his comrades weren't welcome in the villa that had once been their original home. In fact, not one group of Holy Crusaders could tolerant the presence of another for very long. Civil war soon broke out between the different rooms where the diverse factions had housed themselves. It was obvious that that the Seventh Day Adventists were the most numerous in the villa and also those with the most fearsome reputation. After they'd massacred every last one of the Methodists who lived in the adjacent room, it was inevitable that Isaac and his comrades would be the next to be slaughtered. The only reason they delayed their flight was the knowledge that this would in itself be risky.

And so it was. Although Isaac and his comrades tried to fool the Seventh Day Adventists by leaving singly so as not to arouse suspicion, by the time there was only two left it was unavoidable that a fight should break out. It was a miracle that only Amos was to die a martyr's death. Ezra escaped with only bruises and scratches.

From then on, Isaac's company were fated to wander the outermost level like the Prophet Abraham in search of other villas in which they could settle. The other splintering factions of the Holy Crusaders had all independently arrived at the same conclusion as Isaac and his comrades. There was no countenancing the proposition that they should share accommodation with one another. Any attempt to do so would result only in slaughter. Indeed, Isaac soon realised that mutual intolerance might often be determined in a rather less merciful solution than mere slaughter.

As they travelled across the level not so much in pursuit of their original mission but more now of mere survival, Isaac came across the bodies of Holy Crusaders who'd endured their final moments in unspeakable agony. Eyes had been gouged out. Heretics had been crucified. Bodies dangled from high tree branches. Pagans had been buried alive. Limbs had been methodically torn off. These weren't, of course, novel sights to Isaac. In his capacity as a Soldier of Christ on Holy Trinity, he'd often administered similarly savage punishment on heretics and doubters. The method he preferred was to burn a heretic alive. There was usually plenty of time for the heretic to express remorse as their skin bubbled and burnt in the intense heat and the intolerable smell of burning flesh. If only the atheist devils had provided the means by which Isaac could build a sufficiently vigorous pyre.

There were martyrs amongst Isaac's comrades who'd made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of trying to secure living quarters. This was an endeavour that was much harder to achieve than anyone had originally anticipated. Three attempts to do so had been repulsed with so much force that they were lucky that more of their number hadn't been martyred. Two assaults, including the current one, had been successful. On other occasions, prudence had determined what might otherwise have been judged a cowardly retreat from the fray.

It was necessary for their survival that the Holy Crusaders should secure possession of a villa. It was only at such a place that Isaac and his comrades could partake of the daily spread provided by the atheist devils. Although this feast provided far more sustenance than was needed to feed the declining number of Holy Crusaders, the defenders of each villa could never share it with other crusaders. It wasn't just meanness that determined such a policy. It was the very realistic fear of being massacred, tortured or stoned.

But of all the deaths that Isaac had either witnessed or executed, he remained especially troubled by that of David. Who could ever have believed that a soul could stray so far from the course of righteousness?

It was also proof if such was ever required of the folly of extending Christian charity to those who didn't deserve it. The Holy Bible frequently counselled against such weakness. Does it not say of those who are sinners in Chapter 18, Verse 21, of The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.: "Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle." Yet despite the wisdom of the ages, Isaac and his comrades extended pity and charity on the solitary soul that they found wandering in shame and terror. There was also the hope that he might help to bolster their depleted numbers.

His name was Jonah. He was also a believer of the Holy Trinity, although his faith had diverged from those of the true believers over a thousand years ago. Nevertheless, he believed that the King James Bible was the only authentic word of the Lord and there was not one doctrine that he was willing to dispute with Isaac and his comrades. He'd lost his own comrades in a bloodbath of terror. He hadn't expected that the Episcopalians with whom he shared the same villa would turn against him and his comrades so violently. It was all Jonah could do to wriggle free from the orgy of violence in which tongues were pulled out, ribs were cracked, necks were twisted and skulls were smashed open. Nevertheless, his nose was broken and there were black and blue bruises over his chest and across his face.

"But the Lord be praised," said Jonah. "You have come to save me and carry me towards salvation. The sacrifice of my fellow believers will not have been wholly in vain."

It was with Jonah's help and assistance that Isaac and his comrades were at last able to secure a villa. It took some cunning and it was in the dead of night, but Ezra had noticed that the villa was guarded by only one crusader and that he didn't seem to be very alert. The fact that he was bearded and his head was shaven was evidence that the villa was under Muslim control and that the residents could therefore expect no mercy from good honest Christians.

And, naturally, none was extended.

The guard was killed by Elijah who was skilled in stalking on his victims unawares and throttling them before they could choke out an alarm. The crusaders then crept into the villa and disposed of the jihadists one by one with silence and efficiency. David and Jonah worked particularly well as a team. They emerged wearing grins on their faces—of which Isaac naturally disapproved—only minutes after they'd entered the house and displayed three freshly decapitated heads. Their crude improvised weapons had been used with devastating effect.

Not all the Muslims were dealt with so swiftly. It was unthinkable that any should be allowed to live, of course. The Godless heathens deserved the full vengeance of the Lord. It was also possible that they might regroup and seek vengeance if even one was permitted to live. The Holy Bible had many helpful prescriptions as to how pagans should be punished. As it says in Chapter 15, Verse 13, of the Second Book of the Chronicles.: "That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman."

There was no limit to the torture and torment that Isaac and his companions visited on the four Muslim infidels who'd escaped the original carnage. They soon discovered that the ones who'd already died were the lucky ones. No mercy was given and none could be expected. As it says in Chapter 22, Verse 20 of the Second Book of Moses: Called Exodus.: "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed." To be utterly destroyed required that there was no relief from the torment that Isaac and his comrades inflicted on the infidels. It was satisfying for Isaac to know that he was doing the Lord's work. The infidel's limbs were broken, their testicles crushed, their entrails torn out and their blood spilled over the lawn on which the ritual torture took place.

And after all this, several hours later, when the infidels' souls were released to meet Mohammed in the special corner of Hell that Satan reserved for the most vile of Creation, Isaac and his fellows praised God, recited the Lord's prayer and asked forgiveness for their sins, of which none related to the extreme means employed to utterly destroy the disbelievers. No man should slacken in his pursuit of the Lord's greater glory on Earth or elsewhere in the Solar System. Did the Holy Bible not say in Chapter 15, Verse 3, of The First Book of Samuel, Otherwise Called: The First Book of the Kings that of His enemies: "utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

What could be more unambiguous than that?

However, Jonah who had acted so bravely at first and who Isaac at first believed to be a valuable addition to their company soon proved instead to be a scourge. He was no less than the devil incarnate. But this was something that Isaac wasn't to discover until many days later.

Life was relatively easy for Isaac and his comrades in the villa. They each had a room in which they could sleep once the atheists' robots had cleared up the offal and human detritus that was all that remained of the previous inhabitants. All the same, Isaac and his comrades still had to guard the villa against other Holy Crusaders which required that three or four of them had to be on constant guard duty all through the day and night. There was a real risk that a group of crusaders just as determined as Isaac's company might attack the villa and perhaps take possession of it. Constant vigilance was required at all times.

David and Jonah became good friends. In fact, theirs was the closest friendship of all the Holy Crusaders. The others were naturally wary of becoming too friendly with one another. Partly this was because it wasn't approved behaviour in their home colonies and not at all encouraged by their religion, but also because there was the worry that it might cause conflict should a doctrinal difference become too evident. Religious tolerance required a certain degree of wilful ignorance. The less one knew of the heresies practised by another the less inclined one was to purge the other person of their sinfulness and blasphemy.

It was Elijah who discovered the extent of Jonah's sinfulness and of David's slide into temptation. He was in the villa in the early hours of the morning while Isaac was on guard. Isaac's concentration was very much on the shadows in the distance that he had to be sure weren't just thrown by foliage in the artificial twilight. An assault could come at any time and was most likely to happen under cover of darkness. It wasn't Elijah who told Isaac of what had happened, but Jacob who came running towards him with a look of sheer terror in his eyes.

"Come quickly," he said.

"What is it?" wondered Isaac who knew of nothing that could possibly take priority over the duty of defence.

"There is an abomination in our midst," said Jacob.

"An abomination?"

"As it is said in Chapter 18, Verse 22, in the Third Book of Moses: Called Leviticus," replied Jacob.

Isaac knew exactly what Jacob meant. It was, of course, David and Jonah. Elijah had suspected the worst and his investigation of the two men's behaviour together proved that his fears were well-founded. They were caught in the act and despite their denials, it was obvious what needed to be done. As was said in Chapter 20, Verse 13, of The Third Book of Moses: Called Leviticus: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Such was the fury of the Holy Crusaders that little remained intact of the two sinners after they had been tortured. Their genitals were of course given especially cruel treatment as they were the font of temptation. They were torn off and thrust into the sinners' mouths. Implements were thrust deeply into their anuses as punishment to the recipient vessels of unnatural passion.

Isaac was merciful. He spared the two men the measure of torment he would visit on Muslim infidels. Both men were dead within an hour of the torture's commencement. It was unlikely that either would enter Purgatory. The gravity of their sin was such that they could only expect the torments of Hell. Satan would take their souls to the special place of torment reserved for those who behaved unnaturally and perversely.

The sacrifice of the unclean brought only temporary reprieve for Isaac and his comrades. A savage force of twenty or more Catholics descended on the villa and forced them to leave. Jeremiah paid the ultimate sacrifice for his lack of haste in fleeing the Catholic invasion. As Isaac and the others hid in the shadows within sight of the villa that had so recently been their home, they watched as Jeremiah was beaten to death and his entrails disgorged while the Catholics prayed and chanted in Latin over his twitching body.

Although Isaac was as disgusted as anyone would be that a good Protestant soul should end his days at the hands of such evil apostates, he reflected on the relative weakness of the Catholics' resolve. The apostates had allowed Jeremiah to die after less than a quarter of an hour's torture. If Isaac had a Catholic at his mercy, he would never have been so merciful. He would have had all the Catholics flayed, hung, drawn and quartered. At the very least.

Now Isaac and his fellows were in their new home that had so lately been the territory of heretical Baptists and before that of infidel Buddhists. It was now incumbent on Isaac and his comrades that they should hold onto the villa. Their numbers were getting dangerously low and it was unlikely that more true Christians would arrive to replenish their numbers. Indeed, after the disappointment associated with the pervert Jonah, it was unlikely that Isaac would trust even Jesus Christ Himself if He became manifest in the atheist space ship.

In many ways, Isaac was in the place most like Paradise he could ever imagine. He had enough to eat. There was warmth, running water, a comfortable bed and a landscape of grass, trees and lakes that was so much more uplifting than the dark and dismal levels of Holy Trinity. The only penalty was that he had no access to clothing to cover his shame and that he was in constant fear of his life from the other Holy Crusaders.

Isaac could never voice his thoughts to his comrades because it would be perceived as a sign that his faith was weakening, but if it were only possible for all the Holy Crusaders to return to the state of uneasy tolerance that originally prevailed on the space ship Judgement then this could truly be the Paradise he envisaged when he read the first few chapters of Genesis. Was this not a land of plenty like the Garden of Eden? Was it not also characterised by the nakedness that prevailed in a more innocent form before accursed Eve had eaten of the fruit of the tree which was in the midst of the garden? And was there not also a guiding force represented by the space ship Intrepid that was more benevolent and merciful than God Himself?

It was all very confusing.

There was more time to relax now. Although Isaac was aware that the nearby villas were occupied by infidels or heretics, there no longer seemed to be a war for occupancy. Perhaps the villas were all now taken and an uneasy peace had been established amongst the quarrelling factions. Perhaps Isaac and his comrades could stay alive long enough for the Intrepid to reach the Apostasy and the return journey home to the ecliptic.

It was difficult for a Soldier of Christ to admit it even to himself but he was looking forward to returning to the embrace of his wife's arms and seeing his children once again. It had been more than five years since he'd left Holy Trinity and it was likely to be another year or more until he could return. That was assuming, of course, that he wouldn't share the fate of Jacob and those other crusaders who'd died in one another's arms. He looked forward to days of quoting from the Holy Bible and finding comfort from its words. In truth, the words that gave him most comfort weren't the ones from Leviticus or Deuteronomy or Revelations that prescribed severe punishments on those who wavered in their faith but rather those so rarely quoted in the chapel such as the words of Jesus in Chapter 10, Verse 14, of The Gospel According to Saint Mark: "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." However, as Isaac knew so well, the God he worshipped was as stated in Chapter 20, Verse 5, of The Second Book of Moses: Called Exodus: "the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

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