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Chronicles of Oxanu - James Matthew Dexter by Anthony Stevens
SUMMARY: Prologue of the short novel entitled James Matthew Dexter. First Satellite Novel and Prologue to the Chronicles of Oxanu.
The entire city cowered, ensnared in fear, something tangible enough on a night such as this; an emotion that, if left to fester, tends to bring out the darker side of man. Yesterday, a day of destiny where the first extraterrestrial government was established by settlers on the moon, proved to be a small respite from the talk flooding the districts. Each telling spawned new stories and fed terror like oil in a wildfire. The infamous Dexter brothers had incited the mob to literal war against the State and then disappeared into thin air; successfully avoiding the most brilliant minds the world was capable of producing and pushing ordinary men into the bounds of madness. Though most were wise enough to separate foolishness and fact, the populace was on the verge of belief, seeking beyond the realms of logic for even one possible explanation. The entire city had been picked over as if the military was attempting to separate weevil from wheat one grain at a time. Though certain the gang had not fled the city, their efforts continued to yield nothing.
The Common sector, unlike the Private and Public, slept with the fall of night, buildings becoming moonlit specters with the feel of monuments in a graveyard; monuments in truth to the fallen. The city was on the verge of descending into open civil war. All it needed was a spark. For now, the city rested in uneasy slumber. That is, all save the two battalions sent to prowl the broken streets where silent air, cold and wet with fog, stole into the bones like a thief leaving the body empty and dead.
Inside an abandoned warehouse deep in the Common huddled a group of men foreign in every way to the hollow despair of the sector, yet fear shone in their eyes with an intensity that clenched the heart with unrelenting fury. The unhappy group, powerful to the man, had the unfortunate luck of stumbling across the Dexter gang where the brilliance of the military had failed. It was not known as yet that the gang held hostages and no sign was given that they were interested in making demands.
Hard steel ribs of the warehouse rose in the fading light of a lamp running low on power, gloom pressing ever closer as the hours passed shrouding the faces of all in masks of shadow. One in particular, who crouched slightly apart from the others, seemed to disappear entirely, black skin blending with the darkness. It was obvious he felt no comradeship for the others and it would have been noted, under different circumstances, that he was a Common man. He had made not a sound since being taken and gave no resistance in the taking; and for this, at least in part, Zane watched him. It required much of a man, rising to lead the mob. He was no fool and had become well trained in reading the power of an opponent. This man, though valued less by society than his companions, was not to be trifled with. Fear, so blatantly exhibited by the others, seemed to affect him none whatsoever.
Across from Zane, at the edge of the light, a wiry boy shook himself out of troubled sleep and, glancing around nervously at the dark, crawled to sit closer to the lamp.