By Jeff A. Hatch
About the Author

Episode One:

Begins the Beginning

It was dark. What an understatement, it was always dark in the city of Necropolis.

The city was called Golden City at its founding over two hundred years ago. Since the time of its birth, the city had earned a less than innocent reputation. The place was overrun with gangs, and the sky was blotted out by a continuous veil of dark storm clouds. What was more -- it rained all year round!

Below the dark clouds, bathed in the torrent of the perpetual rains, stood the city of night, a place filled with crime and evil. The police were hard pressed to control even a fraction of the crime. It had been that way for over sixty years. The citizens of the dark city by the bay were alive and in some cases well, but never particularly happy. It was hard for anyone to be truly happy when the chatter of gunfire was a constant reminder of what the once shining city had become.

Blane Trask walked the streets of Necropolis. He did so because it was late, there were no cabs, and he lived very close. Blane was the son of one of the most powerful men in the world....Anthony Trask. The industrialist had formed his company several scores of years earlier, and sound business sense matured the company into a gold mine. Blane reaped the benefits of his father's wealth. Blane worked for the company as a computer engineer, designing weapons for the police department on the computer.

The prototype plans for Blane's newest device swung at the end of his hand inside a leather briefcase. Blane hated carrying the plans on him, but he wanted to do some work at home, so that on the weekend he would have more time to chase women and drink, his two favorite pastimes. Whistling, Blane walked down cobbled steps into the Embarcaderro Plaza, a short-cut home.

The click clack of his expensive shoes kept the roaring noise from the nearby expressway from annoying him. Blane stopped to check his Rolex under the light of a neon cafe sign, some coffee place that was closed after 5pm. The time was midnight. If Blane hurried he could get a couple of hours in on the computer, then catch five hours sleep before he got up to go to the gym in the morning. Blane took the same ritual each morning, an hour of exercise and kick boxing with his friend Lane Briggs. This happened five days a week before work.

Blane was destined to miss his work-out in the morning.

Ahead Blane saw a flash. Several blocks away a motorcycle passed his field of
vision. It happened again. Then there were lights, bright and intense. Several bobbing glowworms of luminescence came toward him. Blane shaded his brilliant blue eyes from the light. The intensity was enough to disorient him.

Blane finally summoned enough presence of mind to call out to the riders of the bikes, but it was too late. There was a rattle, and then an impact as several feet of chain hit him square in the chest. Blane hit the ground with no argument. The taste of bile was in his mouth; he was scared. Six men on cycles revved their engines as they road around him in a tight circle.

"The case.... boy!" hissed one of the cyclists.

Blane decided this must be the leader. He was clad in black leathers from head to toe. His face was split by a terrible scar that ran from his forehead to his chin on the right side of his face.

"Will you leave me alone if I let you have it?" asked Blane, his muscles tensed.

"Sure, why don't you let me ha..." The rider let out the air from his lungs all at once as Blane slammed the case into him.

"You got it!" screamed Blane -- he tried to boost his confidence.

The leader lashed out with a knife.  The point jammed into the case as Blane lifted it to intercept. The remaining riders took to beating Blane with weapons varied in type but equal in lethality. Blane hit the ground again and spat some of his teeth onto the hard surface. He looked up to see that the gangsters wore red blotches on their leathers. This meant that they were The Bloodstone gang; everyone had heard of them.

Again and again they hit him till he released the case from his grasp. The leader grabbed the case and lifted a heavy automatic from his jacket. The thug leveled the weapon at Blane's temple.

"You got a lot of nerve, boy -- it's a shame I godda whack you!" mused the leader.

Then everything went black....really black.

Blane was still conscious, but it was dark as pitch around him; a palpable substance
closed around him. Nothing was visible.

Then came the laughter.

Blane had heard laughter before, everyone had. Nothing in his hedonistic life could have prepared him to hear this laughter, though. It was long and low, mocking yet sardonic. There came another kind of cackling, the menacing cackle of an automatic weapon; it discharged with thunderous noise. The gang members were screaming, dying and wailing at the top of their lungs.

Blane covered up to make himself small. He thought that if he was to curl up small enough, he would be safe. Blane tried to summon enough courage to die like a man, but he just kept thinking of a bullet slamming into him, and how much that would hurt, just before it blew all the life from him.

No bullet came; in fact, silence came, but only for an instant. There was suddenly the same mocking laughter from before that rose, only to fall off again and trail away. Also gone was the cloud of pitch around him. Blane cast his eyes around for the source of the laughter and machine gun cackle, but saw only a scarlet river running along the ground of the Embarcaderro, a river of evil blood!

All of the Bloodstones were dead, savagely torn to shreds by hails of lead from Blane's unknown savior. Then it struck him -- the sudden realization was like a hammer blow.

The darkness and the laughter....He was saved by Eclipse, the master of darkness.

Blane had heard of the vigilante who was clothed all in black, and whom he underworld feared. In fact, the only thing that the criminals of Necropolis seemed to fear was the ebon-clothed avenger.

"Why would Eclipse save a piece of shit like me?" thought Blane to himself.

This really troubled him. Blane was grateful to be alive, yet he could not fathom what a vigilante, who cared only for justice, would want with a spoiled hedonistic corporate executive. The walk home was fast and wholly forgettable.

Blane slept all of five minutes the whole night.

Morning came like a guest that was not expected. Blane had just gotten his five minutes of sleep when the infernal clatter of his alarm rang out. He had meant to set it to music someday but he could never seem to do so. Reflexively he swatted at it to hit the sleep button. In his haste Blane smashed the alarm against the wall.

The next sound Blane heard was the phone.

"Hello" Blane said, sounding like he had just risen from the grave.

"Blane, this is Lane -- where the hell are you?"

"What?" Blane was trying to get his head together.

"I didn't mind you missing our workout this morning, but it's ten-thirty."

"Shit!" exclaimed Blane. "I didn't sleep all night, now I sleep half through work!"

"Just get in; I told your Dad you had a doctor's appointment."

"Thanks, Lane, I owe you one."

Click. Blane leapt out of bed and crashed to the floor. "Shit! I forgot how hard those guys hit me last night."

Blane held his ribs as he found his way to the shower. His blond shock of hair was crusted with blood. His brilliant blue eyes were blood-shot, like they were several days ago after a combination birthday and New Year's Eve party. Blane was thirty-two but, thanks to good genes, he didn't normally look it.

Once out of the shower, he took to the task of grooming himself. It took about an hour to make himself presentable. Noon came and went by the time that Blane parked his Porsche in the executive lot. He no longer cared that he was late. Blane wanted to see his father; he needed to talk to someone about last night.

Arriving at the 22nd floor of the Trask Building,  Blane stepped through the elevator doors, limping from the horrible beating he had got the night before.

His father sat behind an enormous desk. It was antique, but tasteful, huge and inlaid with gold. The elder Trask looked up at his son with cold blue eyes. Not the same brilliant blue as his own, but different like tiny glaciers. Blane never thought that he looked much like his father; he had assumed that he looked more like his mother, but he had never seen her in person.  She died when he was small.

Anthony Trask was tall and gaunt, youthful, but with a shock of white hair. He spoke with a powerful voice, covering almost completely his accent. Trask
was born in Austria.

"What happened to you, son?" asked Trask, as he placed his hand over the receiver
of the phone he was speaking into.

"I had a problem last night -- I need to talk."

"Just a minute, son, I am long distance with Brazil."

Blane knew that his father had holdings in Brazil and Peru. He had been to both places several times; they even had a summer home in Brazil near Curumba.

"Now, dad!" There was urgency in his voice.

The elder Trask dismissed the caller and turned to Blane: "That was important,
but it looks like you do have a problem."

"You bet I do. I was jumped by six Bloodstones last night; I barely got away!"

Blane suddenly realized that his father would scarcely believe the rest of the story.

"Did they steal anything?"

"What do you mean?"

"I know you were planning on taking the Defender plans home, and I was wondering if the Bloodstones took them." Trask looked at Blane intently now.

"No, the uh.... police came along at the right time; the plans are fine, but I feel like hell."

"Well, take the day off, if you wish, and you can get Lane to cover your work."

"No thanks, dad, I'll get to work." Blane sounded disappointed.

"Take care of yourself, Blane." Trask went back to work.

In the elevator down, Blane felt betrayed. It was always like this; his own father never showed more than a passing interest in his life. Sure, he sent Blane to the best schools and always made sure he was financially secure, but he did not show Blane the same passion that he showed for his work.

Blane slumped his shoulders, and headed to his office. Right then Anthony Trask was showing a great deal of interest in Blane's life -- or rather in the failed attempt on it.

In his expansive office, the frost-headed industrialist was exploding into the phone.

"So, six of your idiotic cyclists could not complete one task!?" The voice on the other end buzzed apologetically. "Next time I tell you to do something, I expect it to be done! No, you won't be needed tonight -- go scrape your brethren off the pavement, and find out who killed them."

Trask hung up the phone, and hit a button hidden in the surface of the big desk. A voice came from the intercom. It was hollow and reminiscent of death itself.

"What is your bidding?" asked the voice.

"Blane is working late tonight -- I want the plans. I want it to look like an attack from a rival." Trask was deadly serious.

"And the boy?" inquired the voice on the other end.

"He has outlived his usefulness. You may destroy him!" Trask ordered.

The intercom went dead and Trask turned to the window. Outside the storm raged, and Trask plotted...

Next episode....The End of the Beginning!

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Necropolis is copyright 1999, Jeff A. Hatch. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)