Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Thirty-Seven

With the inconsistent drip of water fueling his rage, Cale stalked through the warehouse. The girl had gotten away, Raine had disappeared, and the whole damn thing had fallen through his fingers. The phone started to ring. A growl erupted from his throat as he scrambled across the room, grabbed the set and pitched it across the room into the mirror. The ring cut off abruptly as it shattered in a hail of glass. He collapsed to the ground, legs crossed and arms useless with exhaustion amongst the puddles of water and the sweeping light. Strands of his black hair framed his vision.

Closing his eyes, he eased his breathing, regaining control.

He considered how to proceed but came up blank. He had no explanation for how Raine had escaped him, no reason for his shot missing and his mark gone. Shaking away the fog of exhaustion, he stood.

He’d never live this down.

Resigning himself to lying awake for hours ahead, he collapsed onto the single mattress,. With no reason to leave, he watched the light carve over his building, listening to the drip drop of the leaky faucet.

He closed his eyes for only a moment.

Heavy banging rattled the door as incessant yelling came from the other side. Cale groaned, fighting through the murk of sleep, as he pitched his legs over the edge of the bed. He breathed in deep. Pressure in his chest clamped down, a reminder of his failures. He rubbed his forehead, hoping to ease the throbbing. The knocking persisted and he stood. Crossing the room, he tripped over a chair, recovered, then pulled on the knob.

Terach stood there, face red, sweat formed on his hairline. Absolutely miserable, he finally made an impression. “I thought you’d never answer,” he said as he pushed past.

“I hadn’t intended to.”

“I tried calling.”

“I disconnected the phone. I wanted to sleep.”

“Shit man,” Terach said, “things have spun out of control.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“It’s Raine.”

“I said I don’t want to know.” He pushed against the handles of the faucet to stop the drip. When it didn’t relent, he slammed his hand against it. It stopped.

“He’s killed Keir.”

Too exhausted to fight, to scream, Cale’s grip tightened against the basin. He wanted to lash out, to throw Terach out the door, but he forced himself to breath steady. He stared at Terach with an all-encompassing coldness.

Terach seemed not to notice. “The place is a mess, one of the members is taking it upon himself to take over the organization. There is no sign of Raine, but he’s been blamed for it all.”

“I had him and lost him.”

“And are you going to let that mar your record?”

Cale shot him a hard look. He sighed, his face soft once again. “I just want to sleep.”

“And you will,” Terach promised, “but with Raine out there, none of us will get any peace. We don’t need another Stalker, but that’s what we’re getting.” He paused to let that sink in. “Will you help me?”

The lighthouse cast its gaze over, illuminating Terach’s pleading face. Cale hesitated, then nodded.

“Great,” Terach said. He smiled, which Cale hated him for. “I’ll wait outside while you get ready.”

Cale watched Terach slip out, catching a brief glimpse of the waiting city. The lights beckoned him, calling him to find their Stalker, the guy who’d bring down the whole place if given the chance.

With a groan, Cale headed over to his segmented armor. He picked up the suit and began to force it on. He had days to go before he’d sleep properly.

He prayed it’d be over soon, though he doubted Keir’s gods listened. If they existed at all.

 

Cale approached the fortress that housed Keir’s legacy. Glass doors caught the sun’s glare, partially blinding him as he walked closer. He put a hand in front of his eyes, looking up to the spiraling towers. The first of dark clouds dotted the horizon, creeping closer. He flexed his fingers, feeling out of place. Here he stood, an enemy of everything they believed in, raw and exposed against the watchful eyes of the Syndicate.

The doors had been etched with the symbols of Oki, alive with reverence, though their piety faltered. Through the glass, he saw a single slab with a pure white sheet spread over it. He dipped down, trying to get a better view, but a guard stepped in front of him.

“I’m sorry, Officer,” his eyes slipped down to the name etched on his suit, “Edmonds, but we are currently closed.” Dressed in a light grey suit with a shoulder holster plainly visible under his jacket, the sentinel rested his hands on his belt.

“I didn’t know Na Creidmhigh ever shut its doors.”

“We are in mourning, sir.”

“I understand. I would like to assist in the capture of Raine.”

“That’s a matter we will deal with privately. But thank you for your concern.” Two more guards stepped up on the other side of the doors, hovering like phantoms.

Cale nodded, trying his best to smile. “Give my regards to the family.”

The suit tipped his head. “Of course, Officer Edmonds.”

Dipping into a full bow, Cale gave a slight flourish, a detail he lamented as he retreated. They no doubt had a dossier on him, filled with every indiscretion and case he’d subverted them, whether deliberately or not. He’d pay for it later.

He forced himself not to glance back, to keep his vision straight. He passed a dried up fountain, rapidly descended the stairs, ducked to the side.

Terach smirked. He pushed from the wall. “How’d that go?” With a brief wave, he continued down the causeway, away from prying eyes.

“Road blocked.”

“Told you.”

“Yeah yeah,” Cale conceded. “What’s your plan?”

“I was having fun watching you.”

“That’s a lot of help.”

“I know. Let’s see,” his voice trailed off as he tilted in mock consideration, “we could break in.”

“I don’t think that would go over well. A whole building of armed men gunning for us. We’d last a whole five minutes, if that.”

“True. What about Jaiden?”

“He’s the one they’re gunning for.”

“Exactly.” Terach smiled, stopping to face Cale. “He had to do something to get them so up in arms. Raine was by no means a low profile collector. Jaiden had to be important.”

“But we already grilled him and got nothing. He didn’t even seem affected by seeing his buddy murdered.”

“Did he say why Raine was after him?”

“No.”

“Well, I think we need to pay him a little visit. See if he’d sing for us. You know, strictly off the books.”

“I don’t know.”

“Trust me,” Terach said. His eyes glinted with mischief.

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.