by: CJ Fogarty
The next day……
It was certainly a joy having to carry a half-sleeping D.B. into my flat, which makes me feel relieved to have a simple rectangle of a home with only two levels. I’m not much for sleeping and functioning on five hours or less is generally how I get by. I don’t get by, however, by placing a drunken, “legend”, on my bed which seems more and more comfortable by every minute of tossing on the couch.
As the sun shines through the large space of glass toward my living room, my hand reaches for the remote and the single, flat ceiling light spills blue luminescence around the room. I figure D.B. ought to be up by now, and while I don’t look forward to dealing with a hungover D.B. any more than a drunk one, but it’s already 10:00, and we’ll have to get to Sage’s if we’re going to get started finding R.S.
I slowly turn the knob and open the door, room showing white grey through the curtains over another large window. I guess I’m not surprised to find him sleeping, so I move to wake him up. As I approach my bed, which seems much smaller and dirtier with him in it, the one object unnatural to the room catches my eye. It’s a gold chain with a circular locket. I pick it up only to find it isn’t a locket, but there is a ticking sound. There doesn’t seem to be an external power source keeping this mechanism moving, but by the press of a button I feel foolish not to guess that it was a watch all along. I look behind the lid of the old thing and I find a little photograph. It’s old, a black and white original by the look of it, and thus over a century old. The photo shows a young woman, with short, light hair, big eyes, and fair skin. She’s…very pretty, but who could she be in relation to D.B.
I look back up to find two eyes staring at me intently. D.B. is not only up but is giving me this look, his eyes totally set on mine, intensely. This is a 180 from last night’s drunken stupor, his attentiveness showing no signs of fatigue or even being hungover
Without taking his eyes off me, he snatches the watch from my hand with no word of apology save a firm, “I ought to keep my things to myself”, but this was followed by a smile, deductively as an attempt to disarm the situation.
“Come on, we’ve got to get going. We’re going to meet Sage, the Order’s informant”, I say, trying not to let the previous encounter faze me.
“Alright”, he replies shortly, and as he proceeds to get dressed, “I suppose there isn’t any time to shower or anythin’. Pretty sure I smell like hell right now.”
“You’ll be fine, we’ll just have to hurry.” For his sake and mine I’m trying to mask how fast we must be going. Though, I must say the desire for basic hygiene is a nicer trend in character for him. Even if he insists on wearing the same shit he was in last night and, by the look of it, has been in for over a week straight. As he gets dressed, I get a better look at his body. No, not like I’m checking him out, let me make that clear. While he looks big in that trench coat, he’s actually very large. Broad-shouldered, yeah six”three just as predicted. A medium-sized bruise on the upper arm about three days old, but beyond that his skin is quite fair. Certainly doesn’t speak of years in the service of the Order. Let alone centuries. No, remember, that’s a lie.
“Funny how men don’t care whom they get dressed in front of, whereas women do so privately. Do you think that means women have more to hide than men?”
Wait, what did he say?
“Umm, well, women have to worry about their bodies more”, I reply rather unsure how to respond.
With a laugh through closed lips, he continues, “Guess that’s true. Alright. Is his place far? There’s a few things I’d like you fill me in on, if that’s alright.”
“I’ll be the one asking questions, D.B. Once we get to Sage’s, you may ask anything once we get to Sage’s.”
With a responsive nod, he flips back the collar of his coat and gestures for me to lead the way. Outside to the car, we get and I shift to drive and pull out onto the surface street.
Looking back at D.B, his sleeve is covering eyes squintting in the sunlight. I guess I’m not surprised he’s hungover. Guess it figures. We get into the New Frontier and I shift into drive and pull out onto the surface street. Surface driving’s more crowded, but it’s more straightforward, requiring less control and handling on my part.
“The levels of this city just seem to, flow outta each other. I’d love to meet who came up with this idea.”
D.B.’s observation drew my eyes out the window, viewing the same thing.
“Sorry, if anyone’s gonna get sidetracked it’s me”, D.B. continues, yet I don’t really hear him. I look up as the Sun shines on the buildings of New York.
“Yeah, each level gives off a different color, representative of the dynamics of different parts of the city. The 2nd Level, being more modern, gives off a bright, metallic glint of chrome and neo-bronze, with greens and other bright colors, courtesy of various post-war beautification projects. Looking through the skyscrapers, the dual black and red of the 3rd Level is seen in portions, it being the manufacturing heart of the city. I can’t quite see the infamous 4rth Level, but I know from experience how the brightness of the Sun seems not to brighten the area at all, when in reality it makes the darker colors more apparent.”
“Wow”, I suddenly hear, “guess I’m not the only one who gets sidetracked.”
Was that out loud? Jesus, I never get a break. Focus, Miri.
“Well, when you spend a few years working with Order R & D, you figure out some things about the science of uh, colors, you know?”
I look over at D.B. whose face displays obvious confusion.
“Yeah, you know, we develop cloaking devices for personnel and vehicles and it has to do with how people perceive colors by how the sun bounces off objects on different spectrums and if you isolate an object in a neutral, spectral field it makes it appear invisible.”
Reciprocated from my statement is a look no longer confused but inquisitive. Well what the hell is he assuming.
“Hey, look, I’m not an artist or shit like that. It’s a science you know”, I continue with a smile that I’m sure looks awkward. Like this exchange.
D.B. responds with a firm face and, “Sure, I get it.”
I’d let out a sigh of relief, but I can’t let him see that. Gotta make sure I’m in charge here.
“Okay, now. You mentioned last night that the last time you and R.S. interacted was a month ago, correct?”
“Yeah”, he replies nodding.
“And before that, how long had you been active in New York?”
“Uhhhhh, about three-four months. Yeah about that much”, he answers.
There’s supposed to be another question, but I don’t ask it just yet. Passing by us on the left are the instantly recognizable Cortanza Gates, the twisting lines of neo-bronze making up a structure gleaming green and brown in the Sun. The Cortanza Gates were considered a fitting piece of work, opening up into The Park. Yes, that was the only name it was given because the legislature held a debate over what to call the place. The trees were planted in memory of those New Yorkers who had died in the war and the metal for benches and stone for paths was recycled from rubble of the bombing some fifteen years ago. Thus, it was supposed to be called Memory Park, but there were those who felt that it ought to be called Victory Park, because, it was in the name of those who had died that we had won. To some, Memory Park sounded too melancholy for a city, for a country, that wanted to remember those gone, but more importantly, needed to move forward. Since no one was in a mood to start drawing lines and fighting over a stupid name, they just decided to keep the place, the Park.
“Next question”, I state, moving right on, “what is your purpose within the Order?”
“Well, it’s similar to the overall mission of the Order itself”, D.B. replies, “there are forces in this world that are not natural to human existence, and some of them are even hostile to it. Similarly, there are forces of malice and evil stemming from humans in general. Both of these, the former moreso, are in our ability to combat and alter so that they become less and less of a threat to humanity. Humanity is thus left with the goal of bettering itself and society as the history of the world progresses.”
That’s about right with the mission statement of the Order of Godesye. We monitor certain threats deemed as unnatural and attempt to remove them from the path of human development. That’s why we were called the Order of Godesye, forever keeping a watch on our road and acting as guardians of peace, balance, and justice in general. However, we are explicity forbidden from attempting to use our power to influence the course of governments, nations, or peoples. We watch, we operate, and if necessary, intercede. We do not change the world, we just help people help themselves, letting a few aspects of our dark past fade away.
“Okay then”, I continue, “how long have you and R.S. been active in the Order?”
“Why do you ask?”, he replies, almost hesitant.
“To understand your importance to the Guardians.”
“Well, you won’t believe me, apparently, but, both of us have been active, technically, since its founding”.
“And what year is this?”
So, we’re at this again, “D.B., you’d better start telling me the truth.
D.B. does another of the laughs through closed lips and responds, almost sarcastically, “Alright, you caught me. Rich and I are both 29 years old and we’ve been Guardians of the Order of Godesye since 2057.”
That’s better, I think to myself, “Now, D.B., how do two men who’ve only been with the Order for five years, garner such a reputation?”
“Are these questions out of necessity or just personal-”
“Regardless of their intent, I am the one asking the questions here. Give me your most concise answer”.
Good, Miri, good.
D.B. replies with, “Well, you could say that the Great Guardians are figures connected to the founding of this Order whom are looked up to across the ages as exemplars of the right and just, peace and balance, guarding humanity from powers beyond the strength of most people and shit like that.”
I stop the questions for a little bit to piece together some good sense. Alright, this makes better sense. These two are people within the Order who were chosen, by John himself I’m guessing, to act as “Great Guardians”, figures of morale more than anything else. And thus around them developed this mysterious persona of immortal heroes battling demons, monsters, cultists, dictators, terrorists and the like. No doubt John, since becoming grandmaster, had the old tell these stories to young Guardians so that they’d live up to the principles the Order stood for. I get it. Lie to your kids because you know what’s good for them. Well, no, I can’t say that about John but, still I mean-
“I honestly don’t figure why we were chosen, you know?”, said D.B., his postulation breaking into mine, “I mean, we’re pretty good at our job, and we believe in what we do. At least we used to. But we’ve got our hefty share of blood and vice on our hands, and they’ve have gotten pretty dirty with it. Sorry, you got more questions?”
“Yeah”, I respond, “is Duke Bishop your real name?”
D.B. replies chuckling, “No, bit more of nickname really. My real name is Michael. Michael Bishop. Yeah, I guess Duke Bishop doesn’t seem like a name to be taken seriously. Sounds like some hero in an action flick or video game.”
This causes me to let out a chuckle, involuntarily. He’s right. He sounds like a hero outta some of these degenerate games Sage pours hours into.
“Alright, thanks for your cooperation D.B.”, I declare, with a nod of approval coming from my passenger, “we’ve arrived at Sage’s place”, I continue, pulling in front of sixty-year old, green two-story with the dilapidated asphalt roof, the “moat”, of Domino’s pizza boxes lining the porch. I push familiar Star Trek-symbol doorbell, and wait for the trudging steps to get to the door. Knowing Sage, he’ll take his time.