Canticle: Code Caligula

by

NAITO

Chapter 1: Prologue (Beginning of the End)

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Wajima, Japan — Year 2110. A slight drizzle of rain sprinkled over the barren landscape of what was once lush and vibrant fields of green grass. Children used to play here a decade prior; enjoying the warmth of a summer afternoon. Fishermen cast their lines in the sea, the scent of the crisp blue salt water filling their nostrils as seagulls cawed overhead.

What littered the broken, cracked earth were now scattered bones. Bones of the families that once called this land a sanctuary. A home. Boats lay abandoned, full of scorch marks and bullet holes from a vain attempt at using the vessel as a shield. A beast of unearthly origins cawed from above, descending from the grey heavens above as gusts of wind emanated from its leathery wings. Letting forth a screech, the beast landed in the shallow waters of the ocean side; pecking at the remains of a corpse too bloated and swollen to be recognized.

Not too far away, three figures cloaked in tattered rags clasped their hands together in prayer. They stood in silence with only the soft pitter-patter of the rain to accompany them. Before them were two freshly dug graves, each marked with a hastily made cross, crafted from twine and sticks.

“We can’t stay much longer.”

A man’s voice broke the trio’s reflection. He spoke somberly a few yards behind the three, wrapped in rags like they were.

“You won’t say anything? Not after everything that happened?” said one of the trio, turning to face him.

Turning away, the man replied with silence as he felt the wind pick up significantly.

“Let’s continue. We can’t lose focus now.” He said while the three men walked away from the graves. Together, they stood behind the one they called leader and didn’t question his judgement.

They found their way along a muddy, dirt road trying their best not to be seen. They walked and walked, their joints aching. Their toes numb and minds fuzzy. The only goal the four had was reaching the shoreline, nothing else.

As they eventually reached a small village of no more than a few houses, mostly destroyed or ransacked, the leader held up his right hand signaling his followers from behind to halt. Not too far ahead was a small girl, no older than maybe five or six.

“What the hell, a child!?” whispered one of the cloaked men from behind.

“We don’t know, it could be something else. I have no idea what kind of hell got unleashed in the time we were gone. Just because it looks human doesn’t mean it is.”

The child was holding a sealed tin can of corn in her hands, gripping it tightly. She walked carefully towards a figure slumped against a chain-link fence. Unaware of the four veiled men who observed her from behind a wall, she knelt by the figure.

“Big brother! Wakey wakey!” she said with an oblivious smile.

The little girl took the sealed can and facing a small pointed rock, she bashed it repeatedly until the can burst open; spilling most of its contents onto the dirt. The girl revealed a spoon she kept in her pocket and scooped up what remained in the can.

“Open wide!” the girl smiled sweetly and pushed the spoon against her brother’s lips.

One of the cloaked men placed a hand up to his mouth in horror.

“Dear God…”

His head tilted to the side from the spoon’s force, exposing his blank eyes staring upwards at nothingness. Droplets of rainwater ran down his pale face, pooling up on his eyelids like tears.

“Oh, you’re dropping your food all over! You’re so silly, big brother! You have to chew it!” she stated innocently while corn slid down the boy’s chin.

Several footsteps splashed across the mud in the distance. The girl didn’t take notice, but the men in rags did and became alert. A squadron of five soldiers raced towards the girl’s giggles and chatter, their forms entirely covered by pristine ivory white armor.

“We got two over here!”

Approaching the girl, the captain among them aimed his rifle at her. A blinking indicator on his helmet flashed several times before turning a solid green.

“She’s human. The other one’s deceased.” the captain bluntly stated. His voice echoed out through his helmet’s filter, with a hollow mechanical sound.

“Does she have the Lord’s blessing?”

“No, but she can be reformed. Take her to the nearby center, she might become a potential acolyte in a few years’ time.”

The girl panicked like a wild animal caught in a trap, looking around frantically at the towering armored soldiers.

“No! I won’t let you take me away from my big brother!”

The captain simply pointed two fingers towards the girl. The other soldiers rushed to restrain the girl, injecting her with a tranquilizer. The chaos continued as the girl bucked and struggled, her screams slowly dying out until she lost consciousness.

By now, the cloaked figures were long gone. This was the way of the world now. They couldn’t save every helpless innocent they came across. Nothing would come from that in the long run. All they could hope to do was target the source of this misery.

The cloaked man finally reached the shoreline as his followers behind him dropped to the ground. All three looked up at the sky in both exhaustion and disbelief. They had heard rumors, barely able to confirm them until now.

“I’m done hiding! I’m sick of it, the cowering and biding our time until we think something can save us!” said one of the followers, his voice cracking between sobs.

“Don’t worry… We’ll think of a way, we always have.”

A gust of wind blew up against the leader’s rags, exposing a crimson left arm that was completely alien from the shoulder down. It was slender with translucent skin that revealed entrancing silver blood that seemed to almost dance from within. Thin tendrils coiled along it down to the wrist, where long fingers adorned with black talons curled into a rageful fist.

He looked upwards at what his followers had been marveling. Towards the heavens, far off in the middle of the sea and untouched by rain and gloom itself was a floating city, the size of a small continent. Within this colossal levitating fortress was the one responsible for this hell on earth.

“We’ll regroup, find the others, and then…” the leader said as a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky.

“—Kill this so-called God of the New World.”

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A note from NAITO

The beginning of the end. Don't worry that this prologue takes pretty far off in the future, we'll return to it in due time. I hope you all enjoy the universe of "Canticle"! Did you enjoy the chapter? Let me know in the comments below and if you really liked it, be sure to subscribe and support the release!


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NAITO

  • Yomi
  • Jikininki

Bio: Author and creator of light novels~ ( ´ ∀ ` )

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