BY JERRY W. VANDAL
RED HORIZON: VINCENT GREY
STORY PT. 1
For the times they are a changin’. My father used to say that all the time. From a Bob Dylan song, not that most anyone these days remembers him. Seems a whole lot has been forgotten after the election in 2024. The economy never really recovered from the crash in 2007. Every other week there would be a report of a riot having broken out in one of the big cities. The crime rate steadily rose and every little group we’ve broken ourselves into, race, religion, political affiliation, blamed everyone who wasn’t in their circle. Now that I think about it, things haven’t really changed, they’ve just gotten worse.
I’m sitting at my desk staring out through my snow painted window when there’s a knock at the door I’ve been waiting for. It was strong and stern just the way it needed to be.
He enters my office and I stare at him with a smile that only an old friend can offer. He returns the smile and without having said a word yet we’re two guys back in boot camp waiting to be deployed—excited and nervous at the same time.
“Mayor Adler,” he said with a hearty laugh that took a jab at my ego.
“Senator Grey,” I said, a small return jab. Both of us talked about getting into politics, but not wanting to be refereed to by a title. We wanted to rise above politics and truly make a difference. Though, at least on my end, I’ve found over time I rather enjoy hearing mayor in front of my name.
“William, so very good to see you,” he said as he reached out for a handshake that quickly turned into a hug and a pat on the back.
“Great to see you too, Vincent. Please, have a seat. Coffee?”
“No, trying to cut back. I think there’s enough going on to keep me going without a caffeine boost.”
“That there is.”
He laughed slightly as he looked around my office. I’m a bit ashamed to say that while my constituents are begging for the job market to finally kick back into gear and damning their employers for cutting hours and wages, my office is decorated like there’s not a thing wrong in this world.
“It’s been a very long time. I see you’ve done pretty well for yourself,” he said, another jest, though this time I could hear a bit of harshness in his voice. He tried to mask it in the same way most people do when their friends don’t live up to their expectations.
“Mayor,” I said with the saddest attempt in recorded history to hide my pride. “I have higher aspirations. Not as high as yours though. I’m not sure I could handle all of that.”
“Well, I’m ready. I’ve seen enough of this world to know it’s failed at being what it can be.”
“My kind hasn’t really helped.”
“No, no we haven’t. I’ve played the role of Senator for long enough to learn a few other things. We sit in those large rooms and we argue over every little thing if only to piss off the guy sitting on the other end of the room. We’re not looking to solve anything, we’re not looking to right the ship. We’re just looking to make sure the other guy gets the blame.”
“I suppose that’s been the course for quite some time.”
“Yes. And do you know who’s to blame?” he said as he sat upright in the large leather chair across from my desk like a king.
“Well, we are of course,” I said as took a sip of my coffee. We had completely and utterly failed the voters. I wondered briefly how much worse I had made things.
“No,” he replied to my shock. He got up and walked to the window. The sun’s touch pressed against the frost. “It’s them. It’s this nation. The people. They’ve allowed it to happen. They’ve allowed a culture of greed to become acceptable and never fought against it. They let out a few whimpers and expected things to change.”
“It’s a fair point,” I said with a raised brow. “You can change that.”
“I know you will. And while I’m honestly glad to see you, you know I would have given you my support after all we’ve been through.”
“Actually I wanted to make sure I want your support.”
“Please, don’t take offense. It’s just that I don’t want anyone’s support who doesn’t agree with me. I can’t have friends in this. I need people who believe in my vision.”
“I’ve known you for a very long time Vincent.”
“Do you believe the ends justify the means?”
“Not all ends. Not all means. But certainly there are situations where they must.”
“I look out that window and what I see is a comatose nation waiting for someone to either pull the plug or wake them up. I can wake them up, but I can’t do it in a world where I know they’ll simply go back to business as usual. This country was founded on freedom and it has been squandered.”
“What are you getting at Vincent?”
“This isn’t the greatest country in the world. Not any longer. There are no great countries. Only those who have dressed for masquerades, but it can be again. Sadly it would take us stealing another one of our adversaries’ ideas.”
“Vincent, I’m going to be honest with you. You’re scarring me. I’m not sure I like where this is going.”
“They must be lorded over.”
“Despite your warranted lack of confidence in the American people to stand up for themselves they will not stand for that.”
“I know they won’t.”
“Then what do you aim to do?”
“The American people have shown they will give up a great many freedoms in the face of fear. I can rule as I see fit if they realize the peril they’re in.”
“Whatever it is you have planned. I’m asking you, as a friend that you seriously consider the consequences. This country has stood as a free nation for hundreds of years. Our forefathers sacrificed so much to give us those freedoms.”
“I have thought old friend. I’ve thought long and hard. I love this nation. I love it with all my being which is why I must take the crown and sit on the throne and guide it back onto a proper path. This is why I apologize. I had hoped you would understand. I hope one day you will.”
“I’ve brought with me a briefcase. Thankfully I have some friends in the scientific community and they devised a bomb that couldn’t be detected by standard methods.”
“It’s too late old friend. But know that your death, and so many of the citizens here will not be in vain. Yours will be the first, and hopefully the only deaths that lead to this country rising from the ashes it is buried under and finding new life.”
“What good would our deaths do?” I said in panic and a pathetic attempt to reach out to the humanity I suddenly noticed was lost in his eyes.
“No one would ever expect a place like this to be struck by our enemies. Imagine the fear that will ripple through the country when they believe it’s no longer only the major cities who will be threatened. From that fear they will surrender everything to someone who they believe will protect them.”
I stared at the man who was once my friend. He was still in there somewhere. The love for the United States that we had both shared when we met in boot camp was still there. But it was twisted now. He didn’t want to change the country. He wanted to rule it. “This world has changed you.”
“No. Time has changed this world,” he replied as he placed the briefcase on my desk. I reached out for it but he smacked me away like I was a child. He was always strong. But the force he hit me with was unimaginable.
“You’ll die too, Vincent.”
“Actually I won’t,” he replied with a half grin and sad eyes.
He pressed a button on the case and the click though soft was like a .45.
He crouched over me. “No. I simply have a vision.”
RED HORIZON: MISKA
Miska is a Special Ops commander for the Canadian Armed Forces. The daughter of its late army general, Miska grew up realizing the military was incompetent, unfocused, and worst of all, selfish when it came to the protection of its people. Miska has dedicated her life to improving the army with her skills as a great leader and soldier. It helps that she also has a large, self-made cannon she funnels her soul energy into, and an ingenious wolf she shares an uncanny connection with.
Now, looking down at the United States and its sudden upheaval after the institution of martial law, Miska knows it won’t be long before the entire world is dragged down with President Grey’s insanities. She questions whether her special power will be enough to hold back the onslaught, but she understands that it has to. Otherwise, her life’s goal will be meaningless and everything she believes in will be destroyed.
RED HORIZON: KADEN
Kaden is the first successful test subject of the ENKI Tactical Enforcer Project. His true name, like his past, is a mystery, as all records of his identity have been destroyed. While other subjects were driven insane or warped by horrific genetic mishaps, Kaden proved strong enough to resist the perversion that was artificially fused to his being. Although blinded by genetic mutation, Kaden commands a force more powerful than the combined strength of an entire Tactical Implant Legion. He is able to convert his power into physical energy in two bell-shaped resonating chambers, unleashing absolute mayhem onto his opponents. Nearly invulnerable to conventional arms, Kaden serves as the ultimate weapon in President Grey’s arsenal.
Recently, however, odd behavior has led some ENKI scientists to suspect that Kaden is beginning to be consumed by the energy inside him. Others believe it to be a sign that Kaden is evolving into an even more powerful being. Regardless, as long as President Grey has need for him, Kaden will ruthlessly and relentlessly serve as direct enforcement of the President’s will.
RED HORIZON: LILY
Lily likes guns, beer, and riding horses, but it’s not for these reasons she’s infamous throughout the South. For as far back as she can remember, Lily has been able to speak with spirits who have long since walked the earth. She discovered that every few generations, someone in her bloodline develops this connection, giving him or her power unlike any other in the world.
With the help of ghosts from her past, Lily uses her power, or rather soul energy, to collect the bounties of the most dangerous criminals in the country. While she does this to protect others, she figures the beer money can’t hurt, either.
But with the election of President Grey and his installation of martial law throughout the US, Lily begins to feel there is a bigger threat to the nation than just a bunch of criminals the police are too incompetent to capture. In Lily’s eyes, her government no longer represents what it is meant to. Freedom is being traded for the comfort of safety; force has replaced discussion. And while she doesn’t know if she can do anything to alter the course of events, she knows she wields a power that’s capable of almost anything.
She might not know what she can do, but Lily knows exactly where to start−ENKI. The corrupt corporation is providing the new technology that’s allowing the government complete dominance over its people. If she’s to break a chink in the armor of the President and his rule, it must begin with whoever is at the top of ENKI Genetics.
RED HORIZON: ALLAHRA & SYRITHE
Allahra and Syrithe are a pair of twin angels charged with preventing war between the succubi and Etherians. When they are not guarding the gates of Ether, they are monitoring succubi activity on Earth and protecting humans against their influence. No succubus will rise against the two, but it’s their ability to combine and form a new being that makes them truly feared by the succubi.
Allahra is boisterous and caring. Unlike her brother, she enjoys being on Earth and fulfilling her duties as protector of humanity. Syrithe is quiet and reserved, and while he cares about humans, he feels their inability to interfere in human life is a waste of time and would be better spent carrying out justice throughout the rest of the universe.
Omniel is the being that is formed by the fusion of Allahra and Syrithe. Though the fusion has rarely been witnessed throughout history, the being that develops is known to be the most terrible and frightening entity in existence. While the Etherians fear Omniel, they know he is the greatest weapon Ether has against the Abyss, and with the growing threat facing Earth, they are ever more reliant on Omniel’s protection.
RED HORIZON: VESPERA
Vespera is the only succubus in eternity that has ever violated the truce between Ether and the Abyss which forbids either race from laying with one another. With an insurmountable sense of superiority and disregard for authority, Vespera turned her back on her people’s laws to be with an Etherian. Upon their discovery of her betrayal, the succubi were prepared to rip out the child growing inside Vespera and destroy it in order to prevent war between Ether and the Abyss. But instead, Vespera bargained her own life in place of her child’s. She was sentenced to having her wings replaced with the legs of a spider, the most humiliating punishment a succubus can face. She was cast down into the lowest part of the Abyss where she would wait out her punishment, wandering aimlessly and plotting a way to reclaim her child and return to her soul mate; however, an old acquaintance, Nehtali, spared her from her exile and brought her to Earth to help in her endeavors. While she does Nehtali’s bidding, Vespera contrives ways to return to her former glory and bring down the High Lords of the Abyss.
RED HORIZON: EVA
Eva is the first female test subject of ENKI’s Tactical Enforcer Project. Following the success of Kaden, ENKI’s rapid advancements in technology and genetic alterations produced an even more lethal weapon that they called “Eva”. With mechanical upgrades such as ocular infrared scanners and a robotic arm attachment, Eva is the most formidable force in Vincent Grey’s army, and he knows it. With his new asset, Grey is enforcing his will upon all who oppose him. By using Kaden as his soldier and Eva as his executioner, Grey threatens the world with an invincible army. He isn’t stopping there as he continues ENKI’s research and its attempts to bind soul energy with human hosts.
RED HORIZON: GABREK
Gabrek stopped counting his age shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire. Having lived for countless centuries, he had become bored and felt complacent in life; he had watched the history of man unfold and knew that the world had nothing else to offer him.
There had been a brief time in Gabrek’s life where he thought he had been wrong about this belief. Yugovia was unlike any woman he had ever known, and despite their worries and fears about his unusual immortality, they decided to settle down in a small village and start a family together. Shortly after the birth of their second child, a man witnessed Gabrek pulling his horse and carriage out of the mud as if they were weightless. Horrified, the man ran back and reported what he had seen to the other villagers, and in their fear they attacked Gabrek’s home, setting fire to his cabin while his family was trapped inside. When they came for Gabrek, he killed half the village before, finally, a mob of men dragged him down with ropes and rendered him unconscious. When he awoke, the village he had known was in ruins, and his family had long since been laid in the ground. With nothing to live for, Gabrek resides deep in the mountains of Romania in a castle that has long been forgotten by men.
RED HORIZON: ZOEY
When Zoey was a child, she discovered she could control the wind. She was both amused and frightened by her newfound ability, and confided in her grandfather in the hopes that he would have some answers. Her grandfather told her of an ancient wind god who searched through time and space for the perfect soul to transfer his ability into, a child who would use the power to revive the only surviving race that could restore peace and order to the land. It was then that her grandfather told Zoey she was the protector of her people, the Maori, a race that was close to extinction and only getting closer with the changing world order. Even though the troubles of the US seemed far away, Zoey knew it wouldn’t be long before Vincent Grey’s power reached her home in New Zealand. She knew she must be prepared to leave her home to join the resistance against terrorist invasion, and in so doing, find out how to restore her people to their former glory.
RED HORIZON: ALICE
Alice never knew what became of her parents, or how she had ended up in the St. Rose orphanage, but she was certain fate had brought her here to do the righteous work of the Guardians of Souls, a secret order that has been using the orphanage as a front for its operation for over two hundred years. Alice learned all there was to know about life while living at St. Rose, and under the tutelage of the Guardians, she discovered what the Soul Bound are and why she must hunt them down.
Being a Soul Bound herself, Alice is the greatest asset the Guardians have. On her eighteenth birthday, she was given the Soul Eye, an ancient artifact the Guardians have been protecting for centuries but have never been able to use without the help of a born Soul Bound. This artifact gives the wearer the ability to not only identify Soul Bound on sight, but also to reveal their strengths and weaknesses.
Armed with the greatest weapon against the Soul Bound, Alice is faced with the mission of finding young Soul Bound and recruiting them to the Guardians of Souls before they are captured by others who would use them for evil. Although Alice is reluctant to leave her home and newfound family, she can’t wait to come across an old friend who she’s been dying to see− Lily.
RED HORIZON: PRESIDENT VINCENT GREY
Vincent Grey gained worldwide recognition as the greatest war hero in history. With the strange ability to level battlefields almost single-handedly, Grey won wars along with the hearts of the American people. Upon completion of his service, Grey made his way into politics and by using his natural leadership skills, he solidified his position as the strongest candidate in the presidential elections.
When Grey gained office by a landslide, he moved quickly to establish himself as the US’ leader. First, he took over ENKI Genetics and began research that would create “super soldiers” to defend American soil against impending terrorist attacks. Second, he declared martial law, persuading the American people they were at serious risk from foreign powers. Shortly after doing so, a coalition of Canadian and European armies attacked the United States’ northern borders, thus ensuring America’s support of President Grey’s decision and ultimately his tyrannical rule over the country. The United Nations and every international ally the US possessed severed ties with America, leaving it politically and economically vulnerable to President Grey’s persuasion.
All the while, Grey has been in collusion with his advisor, Nehtali. Although Grey is aware of Nehtali’s true identity, he is oblivious to her underlying motivations. He believes they share a special connection, and he can’t help but listen to her advice. She is the one woman he trusts, and as the nation quickly turns to revolution rather than submitting to his rule, he relies on her more than ever to guide him.
RED HORIZON: SUPER SKULL MAN 33
Greg was your average American teenager with a more than average obsession with superheroes. His room has been littered with comic books and action figures for as far back as he can remember, and while he loves to re-enact scenes from popular comics, he can’t help but wish he lived in a world where these kinds of superpowers were real.
Greg’s passion for comics never made him very popular in school, and one day he was faced with even worse bullying than he was used to. He was cornered behind a dumpster after school and as he shut his eyes against oncoming fists, he imagined he was a hero who, if he kicked and punched while making sound effects like “Bam!”, “Pow!” or “Ka-Blam!,” could win this fight single-handedly. As he flung wildly at them, he found that his fists were making contact with ease and his sneakers were hitting hard. He could see bright sparks flying through his eyelids and he could hear his attackers crying out in fear. As they ran away, Greg opened his eyes to find himself alone in an alley with a ferociously beaten-up dumpster. He looked down confusedly at his still-clenched fists; the metal banging noises he had heard now made sense, but he still couldn’t explain the bright fireworks he had seen or the heat the sparks had given off.
As he walked home, a sense of power and purpose flooded over him. He had a special power inside of him, and now all he needed to do was learn how to control it. He had never felt happier in his entire life. He was going to be the world’s first and only super hero!
RED HORIZON: REESE
Upon his father’s sudden death, Reese inherited ENKI Genetics, the largest medical research facility in the world. However, during his first term of office, President Grey, who had been a close friend to Reese’s father, declared a government takeover of ENKI Genetics and began using its research for his own means. Within the span of 3 years, Reese had witnessed his father’s death, made the transformation from celebrity-status heir to the world’s richest tycoon, and watched his father’s legacy deteriorate at the hands of Vincent Grey. Determined to live down his previous years of reckless partying and youthful rebellion against his responsibilities as the sole heir to ENKI, Reese is quickly learning to become the man his father needed him to be. He has learned the ropes of his company and strives to maintain as much control over it as possible while Grey watches his every move. Reese knows the only way to stop Grey from completely taking over ENKI and following through with his twisted plans is to remove him from office. But how can he do this while pretending to be on Grey’s right-hand side? His answer lies in the South, with the rebellion, but for now, he must play his part as Grey’s puppet.