Even though he knew Santon was in the room, that facing him alone was dangerous, probably ending with pain and blood, mostly his, Michel still entered on the slim chance that the relationship that he had fostered all these eons with Godiva might save him.
He was wrong.
With every intent to walk into the room as if he did not know the bastard he hunted was there, that the goddess he pretended to worship had not betrayed the ones who had loved them, nurtured them, brought them into existence. When he saw Santon leaning back in his chair, lazily swirling the amber liquid in the glass he held around and around as if he had not a care in the world, a smug smile on his lips. When he turned his eyes towards Godiva to find her staring at him as if he had done her a great injustice, that he had somehow betrayed her, Michel lost all common sense. Self-preservation would have told him that lunging at the powerful goddess, his eyes blazing hatred snarling, would not be the best course of action if he wanted to live beyond the next five minutes. Especially with her just as powerful brother sitting next to her. Unfortunately that had also disappeared with his common sense. All Michel knew was these two had cost him and those he loved countless centuries of misery and angst. It needed to end.
Before he could grab Godiva around the neck and squeeze the breath from her, Michel was slammed up against the far wall with the force of a freight train.
“You dare attack your mistress?” Santon roared.
Blinking his eyes to try and dispel the myriad of stars dancing before his eyes, Michel tried to focus on the enraged god. Santon stood by the table in the middle of the room, his black eyes lite with fire in his full glory from horns to hoofs. The sight should have frightened Michel, because this being had the power to do him a lot of harm if not outright kill him, but for some sadistic reason it only fueled his hatred and the need to return the favor. Clearly, he had hung around Fallon and Gideon far too long. Then his eyes sought out Godiva and his hatred and rage grew tenfold. How dare she look like her world had tilted sideways. She, who had performed the ultimate betrayal against the very beings who created her.
“I should kill you for your disloyalty,” Santon snarled.
“My disloyalty?” Michel gasped, outraged the bastard would even go there. “That’s rich coming from you. My loyalties have never wavered.”
“Liar,” Santon snarled stalking towards him. When they were nose to nose, he hissed, “You thought to keep hidden. That I would not notice you lurking in the shadows like some wraith. You played your role well, I will give you that, but the time for lies and deceit are over. I will have the names of those who worked against us. You can give them to us freely and I will make your suffering quick and painless, or we can do this the hard way.”
By the gleam in Santon’s eyes, Michel knew no matter what he did it would end in pain and blood. A lot of blood. It did not matter. He would not betray his true masters.
“Go to hell,” Michel snarled, spitting in Santon’s face for good measure. The demon god was already angry with him. Might as well make sure Santon was good and enraged so he earned the bastard’s wrath.
“Very well,” Santon answered far to calmly for Michel’s comfort. “Shall we begin?”
* * *
Gideon sat at the seedy little bar on a small planet that was known as a safe haven for people who did not want to be found by law enforcements nursing his whiskey. Where he was not one to drown his sorrows in drink, today he felt the need to numb some of the turmoil rolling inside of him. It had been a long couple of weeks.
After Santon had appeared at the cave, he, Fallon, Zara and Damien had battled for days trying to elude the assassins Santon had sent to capture Zara and bring her back to him. Finally, Fallon was able to spirit Zara some place safe while he and Damien had dispatched the rest of Santon’s men. To be on the safe side, he and Damien then split up, each keeping a low profile while trying to find out any information they could about Santon and Godiva’s plans. So far what Gideon had found out showed him he had been too long without his memories, too long not knowing who he really was. Why he existed. At least Michel had the sense to make sure he was assigned as Zara’s guardian when she was human, giving him some peace even though he did not understand why.
Zara. It had been many centuries since he had uttered that name. True, Sara was close, but something in the far recesses of his mind had always told him that the pronunciation was not quite right. Now he knew why. In punishment for not cooperating and telling Godiva where Zara and Damien were hidden, she had his memories of everything to do with his masters erased. What she could not eliminate, was the unwavering love and devotion he bore for them. Nothing could erase that, and it had shown through the moment he laid eyes on Zara in her human infant form.
Now that he had his memories back, Gideon was having trouble reconciling who he thought he was to who he really was, and if their sacrifices had been worth the suffering they all endured. The resulting confusion and headache was part of what brought him to this hellhole. The other was the guise of hiding in plain sight. If the assassins following him thought he hadn’t seen them and eventually lead them to Zara, then Zara was safe. Of course the natives were not particularly happy to see him either. Even if he looked the part with his ripped jeans, brown worn leather jacket and white tank, he was a stranger to this bar, and strangers usually meant trouble. Thank the gods he didn’t have to worry about showers or he’d stink just as bad as the rest. The clothes he actually liked.
Finishing his whiskey in one gulp, he motioned for the bartender to give him another.
“Why you aren’t three sheets to the wind is beyond me,” the bartender mused as he poured more whiskey into Gideon’s glass.
“High metabolism,” Gideon answered before downing half of it.
“Yeah. Sure,” the bartender frowned, clearing not believing Gideon.
“I’ll have whatever he’s having,” Damien said as he sat down at the bar stool next to Gideon. “Only leave the bottle.”
“About time you showed up,” Gideon growled.
“Had to lose a stray,” Damien murmured, scanning the bar. “See you picked up a few.”
“They are like cockroaches,” nodding his head as he downed the rest of his drink towards the table of three that had wandered in one by one in the last hour. Glancing at Damien, he smirked at the similar attire he was wearing. “If you’re not careful the locals might think we were dating.”
“You’re not my type,” Damien scoffed. Turning back to the bar he downed his drink them poured himself another. Frowning at Gideon’s hunched shoulders and the way he fidgeted with the glass in his hand, Damien’s eyes grew soft. “Stop second guess yourself. We all made sacrifices we wish we could forget, but it was the only way to keep everyone safe until the time was right.”
“Understanding that in here,” he tapped his temple with his finger, “is one thing. Reconciling it in here,” he put his open palm over his heart, “is another. I was never comfortable not knowing where you were hidden. My whole existence centered around protecting you and Zara. When Lucinda wiped my memory.” Gideon shuddered. “There was never a moment I felt whole. Always something was missing, and I could never figure out what it was. Even the memories of my men were wiped. It’s a miracle we found each other again.”
“You can thank Michel for that. From what I understand, every moment he could spare he spent looking for them, and once found figure out a plausible reason for them to become part of your team. Apparently, when you were brought before them and no one recognized the other, Godiva thought it would be some great joke to have you all work together so didn’t question Michel’s reasoning.”
“That and he was her favorite,” Gideon grimaced. “I know she was your first…child, and had a hand in creating the universe as we know it. And far be it to overstep my place.” The last was said with much sarcasm because that particular boundary had been overstepped a long time ago.
Damien snorted followed with a, “Uh huh,” before he downed another drink.
Gideon grinned. “Santon is suppose to be the evil one, the one who creates havoc, mayhem. Godiva…?”
“Is much more subtle about it,” Damien frowned. “She has always had a sadistic streak that gave me chills.”
“How Michel could stand being in the same room let alone her bed knowing what he knows. The male is far braver than I am.”
“Or has the patience of a saint, which he does. Unfortunately that patience will not help him now.”
“What do you mean?” Gideon asked, suddenly serious. Where he did lower his voice, he knew it would do no good. Like him, the creatures surrounding them had supernatural hearing.
“Michel was found out,” Damien answered grimly.
Gideon just stared, because the inside of his stomach was clenched so tight he cold not breathe. When his memoires returned they included everything that had been done to him in an attempt to break him. Michel had played a dangerous game of double agent, so they could keep one step ahead of their enemies. Now those same tactics used to try and break Gideon were now being used on Michel.
“We need to free him,” the urgency thick in his voice.
Damien put a hand on his arm, stopping the warrior from rising. “Easy,” he cautioned looking behind them. The tables where they knew the enemy sat, and a few others, were watching them closely. “No need to make the natives more eager to skewer us than necessary.”
“You don’t know what they will do to him,” Gideon hissed, although he did sit back on his seat.
The expression in Damien eyes when he looked at him tightened his stomach a little more. “You knew,” he breathed.
“We were just about to transform into what would become our new persona as Lucifer and Sachi’s children when we heard Fallon cry out for us. He could not endure watching what they were doing to you any longer. Zara,” he turned back to his half empty glass, needing something in his hands to help him explain one of the most painful memories he and Zara held. Not being able to help the ones they loved. “Even though she did not remember who she was, there was always a part of her that felt as if she had abandoned someone important to her. When she found Fallon in Lucifer’s dungeons her soul immediately recognized him, as did his recognize hers. It was why the mating bond was instantaneous.” He looked at Gideon. “It was also why when you became her guardian your bond was just as quick.”
“I was never mated to her,” Gideon corrected. “I knew I would protect her with my life the moment our eyes met, but that was just the guardian bond.”
Damien slowly shook his head, a small smile on his lips. “We may have been separated physically, but the bonds that connected us together as one were never broken. They can’t be. It was also why, even though Zara and I thought we were brother and sister, there was always something…else between us. Souls recognize souls. You know this. It was the reason we chose you and Fallon in the beginning. You were always ours, and we were always yours.”
“How can that be? You were the first beings to exist. The soul of the universe. Two halves of a whole. A soul cannot be split four different ways.”
Gideon frowned. “I don’t follow.”
Damien glanced out at the small crowd that were far to interested in what they were saying. With a wave of his hand, they all froze. Gideon did not even blink at the show of power. The creature before him was the heart and soul of the universe. If he wanted it to stop spinning, then it stopped spinning.
“When Zara and I woke, it was true we were the only ones in a vast sea of darkness. At first that was okay. We had each other and it was all we needed. All we wanted. After a while we realized something was missing and decided to create Godiva and Santon, our children as you put it. As the universe was created, growing, learning, we still did not feel complete. When you and Fallon strode into our temple fearless of who we were, what we were, bent on our destruction something clicked.”
“I remember,” Gideon mused, his eyes growing distant as the memory from that day filled his mind. “We had been hired by a group of priests who believed you were imposter and wanted to show the people that you were not immortal, that you bled as they did. That you could be killed.” He looked at Damien. “The moment we were in your presence we knew otherwise. But that doesn’t not explain your comment about not being the first beings.”
“How did we come into being? What created us? One moment we were not, the next we were. How did that happen? Why? There are people on Earth that believe in what they call the Big Bang Theory where there was an explosion in the middle of the universe and everything they know was originated from that explosion. That time and evolution explain how every planet, eco-system, creature came into being. Something did wake us, and as we came to understand what we were, we also realized in the darkness that surrounded us there were shapes. After further investigation we found on a few of those shapes there was life. Not sentient beings, but plant life, animal life.”
“So Godiva and Santon did not create all life as we know it?” Gideon breathed eyes wide in shock by this revelation. “Why am I just hearing about this now?”
“Because we didn’t think it was important that you know. You had your belief system already turned upside down. We decided not to confuse you even more by telling you this truth. After time it was a moot point.”
“Does Godiva and Santon know?”
Damien shook his head. “They knew the planets were there and that they could shape them however they chose. They assumed we were the ones who created them as part of their playground. While Godiva may have created your race, your home planet has always been our home. We had chosen it long before, and made sure to keep secret our gardens while Godiva ruled there. Centuries after she left to play elsewhere, we made ourselves known to your people. Where you and Fallon came from, why you of all the creatures we have come across were destined to be a part of us, we don’t know. What we do know after you came into our existence, a peace we had not known in a very long time descended upon us, as did the truth of what our children had become. The destruction of all that had been created. Zara and I could not bear to destroy that which was so dear to us, so, as you know, we hid. Now it is time to finish what we should have done a long time ago. But the first thing we must do is rescue Michel. He does not deserve what they are doing to him anymore than you or Fallon did.”
“Speaking of which, we need him and Zara.”
“Yes, we do.” Damien’s eyes grew distant. After a moment they snapped back into focus. As he stood the bar came alive, no one the wiser of the time lost. “They will meet us in the gardens. First we must lose our friends.” He poured himself a drink and downed it, slamming the glass on the counter. What he wouldn’t give for the what passed as alcohol in this shithole to affect his kind.
Gideon followed him, finishing his own drink. Damien’s hand on his shoulder stopped him from moving towards the door. They locked eyes.
“No matter what happens, no one must know. We take our secret to the grave.”
Gideon looked away, his back molar’s grinding. Where he knew why, there was a part of him that wanted to gloat. Not very noble, but then again the nobility that they had been created with had been drummed out of him centuries ago in that white room splattered with his blood.
“Fine,” he finally muttered.
Grinning, Damien clapped his hand on Gideon’s shoulder. “Now,” he turned to the mortals before them and frowned. Instead of men and women of questionable background, demons of various sizes and color stood before them salivating at the chance to kill a god. “Isn’t that the bastard that has been trying to kill you for…well ever?” he asked pointing to one very large, very nasty looking demon glaring a hole through Gideon.
Grimacing, Gideon growled, “Loathar. Can’t you just….” He waved his hand in a sweeping gesture as swatting at some annoying insect.
“Where’s the fun in that?” Damien grinned. “Besides, there are a few here that I’ve been wanting to teach a lesson or two from my time as Lucifer’s pet punching bag.” His eyes narrowed on a few who were smirking as if they had the upper hand. Obviously they had not heard that Damien was not who he seemed to be, and Lucifer would not be there to save them. “Shall we?” Damien asked pulling his sword from thin air.
“After you, oh ancient one,” Gideon gallantly bowed and waved his hand, his sword appearing it in.
“Ha, ha. Ancient my ass. Keep up if you can, boy.”
Laughing, the two ancients beings did indeed teach the demons a lesson…or three.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes