By the time the clock read 4:01pm, Marcus was all but running through the white tile lobby of the Nelson Trading building. He immediately spotted the bulky frame of Sly waiting next to Cato’s car. As soon as the two saw one another, Sly was opening the door of the long body car and Marcus was diving into the backseat like he was escaping a last minute explosion. Just as he began settling himself, Marcus noticed there was someone far larger than his uncle next to him. He turned, saw Dorian’s smiling face, turned to the front of the car and saw Cato looking back at him with a smile. Sly got inside the car and threw his red braid over his shoulder as he turned the keys in the ignition.
“How was your day, son?” Cato asked as he turned back around.
Marcus shook his head. “Long,” he exhaled.
“What did you think of Ser Nathan, young cousin?” Dorian asked as the car pulled away from the curb.
Marcus sighed and laid his head back, the leather cool on his bald head. “Let’s just say I now have an idea of what public high school was like,” he said. “I always imagined kids grew up after elementary school...I was wrong.”
Dorian and Cato made eye contact. Dorian sniffed as he inched forward in his seat.
“Is… is someone… harassing… you?” he asked, eyebrows lowering ever so slightly.
Marcus felt the atmosphere of the car change in that instant, becoming heavy. He shook his head and the air became breathable again. “Nothing like that,” he said. “It’s the power moves Ser Nathan makes. Particularly with Byron Celso.”
“Old Byron?” Cato asked.
“Byron had a stint in a mental hospital-“
“How did you already hear about that?” Dorian asked. “Is Nelson fueling them or something?”
Marcus shrugged. “I don’t know about fueling but I know is he keeps a file on hand containing the full report of his stay at Mount Gundrun,” he said.
Dorian shook his head, pressing a thumb to both his shoulders and kissing his nail in the ancient sign of warding against evil.
“That’s not even the half of it,” Marcus said looking between Dorian and his blank faced uncle.
Marcus filled in his uncle and cousin on the power struggle between Ser Nathan and Byron as Sly began careening down the Federal Highway. The two of them remained silent and when he was done, the two elder Spyros men looked at one another for a second before turning their golden eyes back on their young relative. Marcus caught the look between his uncle and his cousin and frowned as he looked between the two men.
“And what exactly was that?” he asked.
Dorian pointedly looked up at Cato with the same blank face and Marcus turned just in time to see his uncle turning back to the front of the car. Marcus’s frown deepened as Dorian turned back to Cato. This time Marcus moved to block his view.
“Is there something I need to know here?” Marcus asked, a little heat seeping into his voice.
Sly cleared his throat. “Sir, if you could be so kind as to retake your seat,” he said in his bored monotone voice. “You are currently blocking the rearview mirror.”
Marcus smacked his lips with a sigh and fell back into his seat. He didn’t take his eyes off of Dorian until Cato sighed and shifted in his seat. Dorian smiled.
“Tell me, young cousin,” Dorian said. “What do you remember of our conversation at your graduation party?”
“You didn’t say much,” Marcus said thinking back. “You told me of some plan you had but that it was an ‘inside conversation.’ As soon as we got inside, you were swept away.”
Dorian flicked his eyebrows up with a smile on his lips. “That happens sometimes when you’re me,” he said. “Men chase women. Women chase money. Money chases me. Being at the top isn’t as fun as everyone thinks it is.”
Cato groaned loudly, making sure that the both of them heard how much he didn’t like that.
“But I remember that,” Dorian said chuckling. “By the way, that was quite a networking feat you pulled off there, Cato. I don’t think I ever congratulated you on it.”
Cato grunted, but said nothing else. Marcus wasn’t sure but that sounded suspiciously close sulking.
Dorian chuckled. “The always affable man has his grumpy days too,” he said under his breath.
Cato growled and Dorian raised his hands, leaning back as far as he could in his seat. Uncle Cato was sulking, but Marcus got the conversation back on subject. He’ll deal with that later.
“What were you saying about our lost conversation?” Marcus asked, getting Dorian’s attention.
“Ah yes, our ‘lost’ conversation,” Dorian said rubbing his hands together. “Tell me, young cousin, what do you know of how you got your job at Nelson Trading?”
“From what I understand, I was some sort of wager or prize in a game or something between the ITG members,” Marcus said. “Which I must say sounds tremendously illegal.”
Dorian nodded. “Oh it most definitely is illegal,” he said smiling. “About as illegal as tricking prostitutes into group affairs but those games serve their purpose.”
“Games? So these illegal games of collusion between ITG board members are a regular thing,” Marcus said with a nod. “Alright then.”
Coming to grips with his family’s dirty nature was never an easy thing, but reality was reality. In this modern age, the Minoan Royals were supposed to be legitimate, above bloodshed and backroom deals. Especially the Spyros, but power was power and they are who they are. As this truth settled, a connection bloomed in the back of his mind and this conversation suddenly made sense.
“You arranged for the game to be rigged,” Marcus said.
Dorian shrugged. “I may have had a wish that carried a little weight in the real world, but I know of no such thing as game rigging,” he said with a wink.
Marcus smacked his lips and sighed before he asked the inevitable question. “Why?”
Dorian turned to Cato and raised his eyebrows in question. Marcus turned to see his uncle looking away before he sniffed.
“Take us to Police Headquarters,” Dorian said to Sly.
“Sir, your meeting with the Mayor?” Sly asked in that dead voice.
Dorian managed to wave once before Cato exploded.
“LET THE DEMONS TAKE THAT LITTLE CREEP OF A MAN!”
The explosion from the grumpy man left the inside of the car silent, cars outside blaring from Sly’s irresponsible driving as he turned the car around. Once they were careening towards their new destination and no longer holding on for dear life, Dorian nodded as he slapped his thigh.
“I couldn’t have said it any better myself!” the large man said pulling his phone from a vest pocket and swiping away.
Marcus frowned, looking between the once again quiet Cato and the preoccupied Dorian. “Do either of you want to tell me why we’re going to Police Headquarters?” he asked.
“Because we’re answering your question,” Dorian said, never taking his eyes off his phone. He began squinting and retrieved a pair of glasses from his jacket, balancing them on his nose before he began tapping on the screen of his phone with one finger.
Marcus nodded. “Yes. Yes that answer is a good answer to my already answered question. Thank you,” he said sitting back and turning to stare out of the window, knowing there was nothing else to be learned.
“So polite.” Dorian said like an admiring grandmother. “Your welcome, young cousin,”
Cato chuckled, but he quickly suppressed it.
Sly rocketed through the metropolitan city uncaring of laws or life. As the manservant tore through the streets of the city, the buildings flew by the window as nothing more than blurs reflecting the dwindling sunlight. Before long, Marcus began catching glimpses of buildings where there were once only streaks and he looked forward to see Sly slowing down on an avenue. They were somewhere in the administrative section of the downtown, but Marcus wasn’t sure which part. The buildings were all blockish and functional with no real style or flair. Sly turned onto a driveway up the incline of a small hill, an LED lighted stone monument along the sidewalk at the base.
‘HEADQUARTERS OF THE DAMOKLES POLICE DEPARTMENT’
Marcus looked from the sign to the tall slate gray building, windows breaking the surface of the building with the stoic rigidity only government buildings could achieve. Sly managed to drive like a normal human being as he pulled up to the front of the building and stopped to let the three Spyros men out. As Sly pulled away, Dorian patted Marcus on the shoulder, walking towards the building without looking back to see if the uncle and nephew were following him. Marcus looked at his uncle who stared after Dorian with a glare closely resembling hatred. Cato realized Marcus was looking at him and jumped into motion as though pinched by some invisible force.
Dorian held the door open for a woman chastising her son as Cato and Marcus caught up to him. The three of them entered just as the woman cut off, looking backwards with a puzzled expression. Her reaction was to be expected. Dorian’s face was everywhere as the most enigmatic ITG Commissioner in the last fifty years. Who would expect a man like him to walk into the DPD Headquarters? Marcus was still caught up in his thoughts when he nearly stumbled into Dorian. He looked up to see a lobby covered in white and blue tile with metal detectors sectioning off the second half of the lobby. An elevator bank was sandwiched between two hallways on the cordoned half of the lobby and throughout the bank and entire lobby no one was moving. Everyone, even the struggling suspects, stopped in a wave as others turned to see what everyone else was looking at. Then their eyes widened once they recognized Ser Dorian Leo-Alexandrus Spyros the third.
Dorian seemed comfortable with the attention, choosing to ignore the stares as he walked right up to the kiosk in front of the metal detectors. He smiled that signature smile of his as the attendant looked up at him. He nodded to the young man and asked to speak with Commissioner Knight. The young man nodded back, barely taking his eyes off Dorian as he picked up the phone and dialed. A woman’s voice could be heard on the other line clearly rebuking the young man. Eventually the young man was able to squeak out that Dorian Spyros was there for the Commissioner. A deliberate pause followed on the other line before woman’s voice began once more. She was soon cut off and replaced by a man’s deep voice. Almost immediately, the young man’s eyes grew wide, his back straightening. Following a flood of yes and yes sirs, the young man hung up the phone. He started to get to his feet when a redheaded woman in a black officer’s uniform materialized next to the kiosk and scared all four men. Marcus’s heart was in his throat, but he was proud to say he didn’t jump out of his skin like the attendant did.
“Ser Dorian!” the woman said, “Please come right this way! Commissioner Knight is finishing up a meeting with his senior officers but he will be happy to see you immediately!”
Dorian smiled. “Ah yes, thank you…” he trailed off raising his eyebrows.
The woman’s eyes widened. “Lieutenant Huxley!” she said in a rush. “My name- I mean- I- Huxley, sir. Lieutenant Huxley.”
Dorian chuckled. “Nice to meet you, Lieutenant,” he said. “I think I will remember your name.”
Marcus swore he heard the lieutenant squeal. Who wouldn’t in today’s day and age? Dorian Spyros had the kind of fex to change a person’s life. Whatever reaction she had was covered up by her motioning the three Spyros men through the metal detector. The metal detector began blaring and the supervising officer got up to walk over as his job likely required. The tired man in a blue uniform stopped dead in his tracks after two steps when he registered the glare of Lieutenant Huxley. The officer wilted and returned to his podium, dabbing at his neck and forehead with a napkin as he resettled himself.
Commissioner Knight’s office on the top floor of the building was an austere affair for such a pinnacle of power. The space was utilitarian with bare wood paneled walls and dark red carpets absent any furniture, rugs or adornments. The desk was large and well made with two matching chairs in front of it and a third bigger chair behind. The sole piece of flair in that office was the large window behind the desk, but even that was lackluster, only giving views of other drab government buildings.
“As welcome as a visit from any one of you is,” Commissioner Knight said in that deep rumbling voice, “I wasn’t expecting either one of you. Is everything alright?”
Dorian and Cato settled themselves with Marcus standing behind them.
“We weren’t exactly expecting to be here either, old friend, but things have escalated quite quickly,” Dorian said. “The young one needs to be brought into the fold immediately.”
“Already?” the Commissioner asked. “I thought today was his first day?”
“Things are much more advanced than we initially predicted,” Dorian said.
“After only one day of having a man on the inside?” Domanick asked.
Dorian nodded. “Much, much more advanced,” he said.
“How much more advanced?” Commissioner Knight asked.
When Dorian remained silent, the Commissioner looked over at Cato who gave a single nod. Commissioner Knight then looked up at Marcus and whistled softly as he shook his head.
“Follow me then,” the large man said getting to his feet.
The Commissioner led the three Spyros men to an old style elevator with the swinging gate. After a long ride down, the elevator opened up to a concrete hallway that had pipes running along the ceiling and cracks in the ground. Domanick took them to a room halfway down the hallway and the reaction inside this room was like a mirror copy of what happened in the lobby, but for entirely different reasons.
There were men and women wearing both suits and the black uniforms here as like before, but now there were stares of suspicion on their faces. Marcus saw surveillance equipment, monitors that looked to be broadcasting live feeds and files everywhere with the badge of the DPD emblazoned on them. He even saw a large cork board at the back of the room straight out of every movie featuring police and government spies. The room came back to life once the Commissioner motioned and closed the door behind him. He led the three men deeper into the room talking about something important, but Marcus couldn’t take his eyes off the picture filled cork board. As he got closer, he saw why.
The picture at the center of the cork board was an old surveillance photo of a smiling man sporting a gold tooth bearing a single diamond. The edges of Ser Nathan’s picture were thick with strings linking him with other pictures and pages with question marks or detailed notes. Marcus felt his skin crawl as he recognized a growing number of the faces on the board. All of Ser Nathan’s sycophants from that morning were on that board, certain board members, and a host of people Marcus didn’t recognize.
“What…what exactly is going on here?” Marcus asked without moving.
Dorian came up next to him looking at the picture filled cork board. “I arranged for your employment at Nelson Trading because I have traces of evidence that implicate Nelson in a laundry list of crimes,” he said. “Crimes serious enough to see the ITG board dismantled due to Nelson Trading’s wealth and status on the board. We can’t let that happen.”
“Crimes that will destroy any chance of a career for me,” Marcus said, feeling like he stumbled onto the edges of a trap.
“No,” Dorian said. “You’re safe. I had the Commissioner enter your name in the DPD database as a volunteer informant.”
“But I didn’t volunteer for anything,” Marcus said.
“I know,” Dorian said. “I did it for you.”
“And you let him?” Marcus asked his uncle, unable to shake the feeling of being exposed and betrayed.
“Hear him out, son.” Cato said.
Marcus turned back to Dorian. “What exactly have you involved me in?” he asked.
Dorian didn’t move as he spoke. “Six years ago we noticed discrepancies in the official ledgers turned over to the ITG by the shareholders of Nelson Trading. Their profits, while nothing spectacular, have been entirely too steady.“
“Like it’s the same number year after year?” Marcus asked.
“Not exactly,” Dorian answered. “More like its been in the same range year after year. Which is peculiar considering Nelson’s bizarre move in cornering the lumber market of the Armlands.”
“Wait. You said six years ago?” Marcus asked finally turning away from the board.
“Yes, six.” Dorian confirmed, turning to Marcus with a frown on his face. “Why?”
“Because Byron said it was six years ago that he noticed the change in Ser Nathan.” Marcus said.
Dorian turned to look at Cato, neither man’s face changing. Dorian turned back to the board as Cato stepped up next to his nephew and put an arm around Marcus’s shoulders.
“Look, son.” Cato said. “If you don’t feel comfortable doing this then don’t think you have to. You won’t disappoint anyone. We’ll get Ser Nathan eventually. This was just an opportunity we took. Your place at the Lions Club is secure. Don’t you dare even think about doubting that.”
Marcus knew his uncle was trying to push him to follow the plan by offering him a way out. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Lions Club was brought up. He loved his uncle but the Spyros sometimes lived up to their reputation for duplicity in the most disappointing ways.
“I promise you, son.” Cato said, patting Marcus’ shoulder. “You have nothing to worry about, but we do need to know your decision before we leave here.”
Marcus nodded but his decision made was made as soon as Dorian intimated foul play with Ser Nathan. His eyes continue to drift from picture to picture for another few seconds before settling on the picture of a grimacing old man with half a cigar in his mouth.