Shadows of God

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Chapter 28

Marcus and Noch were investigating a call about forty minutes south Damokles proper where less than an hour ago, this gun store was robbed. Three people were dead, the clerk and two customers, and the shelves behind the counter were empty. This was another unauthorized robbery and neither brother was happy about it. Marcus had Noch make a phone call to the local Precinct Chief and this gave the brothers time to investigate. These unauthorized robberies had to stop or the whole system would collapse.

There wasn’t much to be learned from what evidence was left behind, but one thing was for certain. There was no possible way one man would be able to pull this off. Everything was gone. The store's shelves, cabinets, and cases were all empty, but something about the shelves behind the empty register caught Marcus’ eye. He began to fly closer when he caught sight of Noch. Looking at his brother brought Marcus face to face with what Noch told him a few days ago.

Marcus had called Ali the next day after speaking with Cato and the two of them had a long and necessary conversation. Cato said Marcus should be eternally grateful for being able to have a rational conversation with her, but Marcus wasn’t sure what he meant by that. Besides, the more Marcus thought about the situation, Spider Gidon wasn't only loyal, but smart too. If the Spider was going to buck three decades of loyalty, he wouldn’t go around spreading his own name while doing so. Even Noch’s appearance wouldn’t affect him, but that still left so many unanswered question. One of which at the moment was exactly what Noch was doing staring at the dead body so hard.

“Why are you staring so hard?” Marcus asked as he touched back down to the ground.

Noch jumped at the sudden sound and he spun around, face panicked like he was just caught masturbating. “What?” he asked in a rushed voice.

Marcus was about to repeat his question when he looked down at what his brother seemed to be so fascinated with. Something wasn’t right with that body. The dead man was pale, but his skin was far whiter than what was normal. Even the man’s hair seemed off and Marcus bent down to touch the body.

Noch snatched his brother’s arm before Marcus touched anything. “Something isn’t right about these bodies,” Noch said in a hushed whisper, his cheek twitching slightly.

“What do you mean?” Marcus asked, fighting down his thudding heart. “What’s wrong with the bodies?”

For answer, Noch grabbed a big shard of glass and tossed the fractured pane onto the odd body. Marcus jumped back when the body crumbled to dust in a puff of ash like the burned husks a log in a fireplace. Marcus looked at Noch who stared at the pile that was once a human being in morbid fascination, his face twitching in different areas.

“I have seen some truly terrible things in Gamma but this?” Noch asked. “Nothing about the way these people died was natural.”

Looking down at the scene, there was only one conclusion Marcus could come to. “This was ring work,” he said without turning his brother.

Noch’s head snapped up and he stared at Marcus. “What do you know?” he demanded.

Marcus sighed and told him about the fight he had and just Noch nodded as he listened silently. His brother made no other reaction outside of that, only frowning when Marcus finished his story.

“So what kind of power did this other ring user use?” Noch asked.

Marcus hesitated. He knew Noch would believe him but he still felt like a crazy man anytime he thought about or contemplated telling anyone about this night.

“He used… darkness.” Marcus admitted.

Noch nodded. “But why do you think this was a ring-bearer?” he asked as though any of this made perfect sense. “What makes you think there are other rings at all?”

“Uncle Cato has a meter capable of honing in on the rings,” Marcus revealed, surprised to find himself feeling relieved to have finally told someone about his fight with darkness. “Ever since I took over as the Crusader, Uncle Cato has been busy finding the rings.”

“Do you think he has found any?” Noch asked sounding eager.

Marcus shrugged as he nodded. “I would assume so,” he said.

“Do you know where these other rings are?”

Marcus opened his mouth to answer, but was surprised when he realized he actually did not know where Uncle Cato kept the rings. He never even thought to ask. If the day came when he needed the other rings, he would just ask and his uncle would produce them for him, simple.

“It never even occurred to me to ask,” Marcus admitted.

Noch shrugged. “Secrets in every corner,” he said with a resigned tone. “That’s our family for you. Even if you never asked, Cato should have found the time to share the location with you. But what Spyros can give up information they don’t have to?”

A distant siren caught the attention of the brothers and they knew their grace period was over. The Eight may have rescinded their calls for him, but the Crusader and his ‘sidekick’ were still wanted men. The two of them ran out of the gaping hole in the face of the store before flinging themselves into the air.

When the two of them were above the cloud cover, Noch pulled into conversational range and established a tendril of connection between their shield covers that allowed them to talk.

“Talk to Ali?” Noch asked.

Marcus nodded without turning.

“And?” Noch asked.

Marcus turned back to Noch and shrugged. “And nothing,” he said. "We're still together."

Noch’s lip curled as he squinted over at Marcus. “You talked to Cato, didn’t you?” he accused.

Marcus nodded.

“What did he say?” Noch asked.

Marcus shrugged again. “Pretty much what you said back there,” he said. “Our family has secrets and dead bodies around every corner. The things our Spyros ancestors have done? The things our Minoan ancestors before them did? Spider Gidon is an angel in comparison to the darkness of our blood. Who am I to judge her?”

Noch sighed but he could only shrug and nod in agreement as they flew. He fell silent, but he remained in conversational range with the connection in place. The two of them passed over a township with a few posh looking offices and shops when Noch spoke again.

“Although it doesn’t really surprise me that Cato would ask forgiveness for holding family secrets,” Noch remarked.

“Our uncle is a man free to keep whatever secrets he wants.” Marcus replied growing tired of his brother’s witch hunt. What exactly did he

“Like our dear old uncle being as sweet as a bowl of fruits covered in sugar under a rainbow?” Noch asked. “Like Sly has been our dear old uncle’s secret lover? Like the fact that the horny toad of a manservant is intensely jealous over our dear old uncle?”

Marcus flinched and slowed in the air for a brief second as his brother’s words hit his chest and caused his heart to skip a beat. That was definitely something he didn't know but the more Marcus reviewed his memories growing up, he’d always known on some level. He always explained away his uncle’s smiles when Cato spoke about Sly or the way Sly said his uncle’s name with a little too much breath or the lingering touches between them.

“I’ve had my suspicions,” Marcus said turning back to his brother as he sped back up. “But if I’m being honest, as much as the secret bothers me, I still love him so I don’t really care what he and Sly do together. I mean…thinking about it, with the life I lived, Cato and Sly are both my dads and I love both of them.”

Noch flinched at the worlds from Marcus, but before he could say anything, the villa came into range and they were landing outside a rarely used door of the Residential Wing. The two of them stripped their uniforms and began heading inside when Noch said something as Marcus closed the doors. Something that made Marcus’ entire spine turn to ice.

“Would you still love our dear old uncle if it turned out he knew more about the death of our parents than he let on?”

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