The Overlord was not on her good side and S.M. imagined she wasn’t in his good graces either, which was probably worse.
You didn’t want to be on the bad side of the one that created you; the one who repaired your body when the world broke you. The one who could decide on a whim if you had outlived your welcoming.
But sometimes dealing with Overlord Eight was difficult so she avoided it as much as she could. Until the gatherers showed up and pointed for her to go to him.
“What is this?” he had asked her before she even had a chance to cross the threshold into the atrium.
“Good morning,” she murmured as she took the newspaper from him, stepping back to put as much distance between them. There was a picture, a mugshot. It was hard to focus when she was trying to keep tabs on the three gatherers and the Overlord but she immediately knew what this was about.
It was supposed to be her.
The girl was too small, to pale, and the black and red makeup was smeared, perhaps during a scuffle when she was apprehended. She was immediately drawn in by the girl’s eyes; her dead stare. They could have belonged to any one of the eighth generation guardians.
She flipped the page over to where the article began and her heart dropped.
Emma Rose Gold.
“I’ve seen her before,” she said. She was being charged with evading arrest, assaulting an officer, and killing seven people, perhaps even more. And that last name. What were the chances she had any relation to a particular doctor she had run into previously?
“It’s apparent she’s seen you too. Your charge?”
“Yes.” Not true. Her real charge had summoned her to raid the place. Kill everyone, but she had spared the child. She couldn’t remember why.
It was part of the history that had been tarred over by Eight when she had been mortally wounded a couple years ago. The cover over her memories hadn’t lasted long. In fact, Dr. Gold had broken that spell when she had swapped charges with a sixth generation guardian, A.D. It was a long story but upon discovering A.D. carried most of her memories prior to her death and resurrection, she had made the unfortunate (but at the time, warranted) decision to kick her Overlord in the face, shattering his goggles.
“That was almost as stupid as the time J.E. shot an arrow in Eight’s direction as a distraction tactic.” A.D. had told her afterwards.
“He’ll get back at you for it, but witnessing it was perhaps the best moment of my entire existence.”
“You’re going to find her and bring her here,” Eight was speaking as he stood and made his way to the hall.
“You want me to…gather her?” She could feel the gatherers shifting behind her.
“It’s your mess.”
“She was a child when I met her and she’s still a child now.”
“That child is impersonating a guardian. She’s giving them unwanted exposure.”
“There are people who know we exist. How else do you think we’re summoned?”
He smiled but the spirals in his eyes turned to slits. “I may not walk amongst the humankind but I’m not the idiot you take me for.” He disappeared down the hall and returned quickly. “The gatherers will join you of course.”
“I can handle this on my own, sir.” She flinched when a hand clapped on her shoulder.
Eight waved as the blue light surrounded them. “They’ll make sure you handle it correctly.”
A long time ago, the guardians used to be in charge of gathering the dead and their injured and fallen fellow guardians. That changed when the gatherers were created. It could mistakenly be thought that it made things easier for the guardians who could focus wholly on guarding.
That was not the case.
The gatherers could communicate amongst themselves but the communication channels had long been severed between them and their guardian counterpart.
“Well?” S.M. asked. They were standing in an alleyway and she could hear city traffic at the other end.
They turned to themselves, cloaked heads moving side to side. She looked down at the paper. Emma Rose had a public defender, a Mr. Eric Thompson.
“Can we find this man?”
A gatherer drew closer to the newspaper, then shrugged.
She rolled her eyes. A door into the alley opened and a young man wearing shades, face buried in his phone stepped out. He looked up and saw her, did a double take. Before she could even speak, the gatherers swarmed him and she turned away.
Fine. Breakfast for them first, then find Mr. Thompson.
Eric Thompson was running late again. He didn’t care. What were they gonna do? Fire him? He’d probably make just as much money panhandling on the sidewalk as he did working as a public defender.
Still, he rushed up the stairs to the law office, wishing Beatrice at the front desk a brusque good morning (he hated that bitch), and up two flights of stairs to his office. In his hurry to get his laptop out of his bag, he hadn’t realized his office was unusually crowded until he heard a man clear his throat.
He looked up to find his chair at his desk occupied by a woman in a black suit with black and red face paint.
“Are you the Eric Thompson who was elected public defender to one Emma Rose Gold?”
His eyes widened. “I…I…am.”
She sighed. “Good. Otherwise, you would have been the third Eric Thompson of the lawyer variety we’d have to kill.”
His mouth dropped. “Excuse me?”
“I want you to take us to Emma Rose.”
“How did you get up here? Beatrice let you in here, didn’t she? That bitch.”
“I thought she was quite charming actually. Wouldn’t you say so?”
“I said she was a bitch.”
“Mr. Thompson, the world does not revolve around you.”
Cold, bony hands clapped down on his shoulders then snaked up his neck as they guided him into one of the chairs his clients sat in (the ones who weren’t currently sitting in a prison cell).
“My client’s privacy is of the utmost importance to me…” S.M. waved him silent.
“Mr. Thompson,” she hummed as she leaned over the desk and he realized her eyes were crimson like the markings under her dark circles. “My traveling companions are bottomless pits. This will be the only warning I give you.”
He stood suddenly, waving his arms, to get the hands off of him. “Look, mister or miss. You need to leave. I can’t take you to see her. There’s no way they’d let you through.”
She lunged across the desk and grabbed his wrist. “Wait!”
She meant to keep him from turning away as the gatherers threw back their hoods and removed their shrouds.
A/N: This post went on way longer than I meant it to, so I chopped it up for easier reading. The second part will be saved for next time.
Edit 5/11/18: Part 4 — Rose Gold