#53 Zealots: Part 5
One mystery solved, another begins
Previously: Detectives Clarke and Styles have tracked down the leader of an emerging cult to a warehouse on the outskirts of London. They’re not the only ones - also in attendance are two actual gods from Palinor, annoyed at their names being used without permission…
On duty: DC Yannick Clarke & DC Lola Styles
Clarke stared at the piles of equipment and random tat stored in the back room of the warehouse. “Well,” he said, “that clears that up.”
“It’s not magic, per se,” Myrodin said, if that was even his real name, “but it is still really quite clever. You see—”
“Silence, fool,” said Glaicius, his voice able to cut through any background noise just as his body pulled all attention towards it. “Trickery is not clever; it is merely taking advantage of weaker minds.”
There was a complicated pulley system with wire wound through it, thin enough to not be visible even in daylight while still being strong enough to attach to a harness and a person. “Levitation, my arse,” he said. “Although I’m impressed that you managed to get this strung up over St. Paul’s without anyone noticing.”
“And the portal you opened in Greenwich,” Styles said, examining a complicated folding mechanism lined with mirrors, “it was all reflections?”
“I was on the roof the whole time,” Myrodin said, “the mirrors and false panels did the hard work.”
There was a shifting of some of the store room’s detritus as Paf jumped on top of a stack of books. “But why the fakery? You had a portal tear here. There was no need for falsehoods.”
Myrodin slumped down into a rickety wooden chair. “Because I can only use it here! It’s useless! This entire realm is pathetic. I wanted to change things, and for that I needed people, and money.”
“You’re Palinese,” Clarke said. No human from Mid-Earth or Max-Earth had ever demonstrated any capacity for magic, even while on Palinor. “Why are you here, if you find us so pathetic?”
The failed magician glowered at him, his eyes full of disdain. “I’m in exile. I can’t go back.”
“Ironically, for abusing his use of magic to deceive others,” Paf said, flicking her hand in a delicate flourish.
“And doing it badly, I should add,” Glaicius said. “You give all illusionists a bad name, Lord Myrodin.”
“Wait a minute,” Clarke said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Since when is exile on Mid-Earth a formal punishment?”
Paf shook her head. “For magic wielders, it is the worst of all outcomes.”
There was something to follow up on back at the office. Clarke was fairly certain the immigration service would have a few things to say about that policy. The idea of his planet being used as a dumping ground for miscreants rubbed him up the wrong way.
“Presumably,” Styles said, pointing to Glaicius and then Paf, “neither of you have your powers while you’re here, either. Unless you use the portal tear back there.”
The two self-proclaimed gods stared at her and Clarke felt a cold shiver on his spine. He had the distinct feeling that neither of these beings were to be messed with. Gods or not, and he was leaning towards not, they had already demonstrated some of their powers and their ability to command a room.
“We are never without powers, detective,” Glaicius said. “Do not mistake us for mortals.”
Clarke raised his hands. “OK, let’s clarify what’s going to happen here. We’ll be shutting down this whole operation. Myrodin, I’m arresting you on suspicion of fraudulent activity. You do not have to say anything but anything you do say will be taken down and may be given in evidence. You’ll be coming with us to the station once I put a call in.” Myrodin looked ready to object, but chose to stay silent. Clarke turned to Glaicius. “I need to know what your intent is here.”
“Justice and punishment, detective.”
Pondering the best way to phrase his next question, Clarke took a breath. “This seems a little out of your way. I’m sure you both have important matters to attend to at home.”
Paf harrumphed and hopped back down to the floor. “When someone takes our names in vain, it becomes our business. Word of what was happening in this city had spread even to Palinor.”
“And besides,” Glaicius said softly, “we were bored.” He turned to leave, Paf climbing up onto his shoulder.
“We will need to take statements from you both,” Styles said.
“No,” the god said, “you won’t.”
They walked out of the store room and Clarke watched them go. He should have tried to stop them but his gut told him to let it go. He’d seen Myrodin’s reaction when they’d walked into the warehouse.
“Something tells me this could have gone a lot worse for you if we hadn’t been here,” he said to the diminished man. “Now, where’s the nearest telephone?”
“You’re kidding me?” Kaminski grinned at Chakraborty as he listened to Clarke explaining the situation. “Yeah, understood, we’ll make sure you get some officers to support you. Sounds like you’ve had a fun afternoon.” He placed the received back on the cradle.
Chakraborty stood with her arms crossed. “What? What is it?”
“Total con job,” Kaminski said. “Smoke and mirrors, plus a convenient portal tear. No actual magic outside of their base of operations.”
“Oh,” Chakraborty said. “That’s a little disappointing.”
“Hm. Part of me liked the idea of everything going to shit. Can you imagine?” He lit a fresh cigarette. “Mm, that’s not the half of it, though. You’ll never guess who showed up.”
“Couple of gods from Palinor.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Kaminski laughed as he walked across the office to where Robin was sat talking to DS Collins. He passed on Clarke’s instructions, then turned back to see Bakker emerge from his room.
“Everything under control?” Bakker asked, as Kaminski crossed back to them.
Chakraborty nodded. “That was Clarke and Styles on the phone. Sounds like it’s all wrapped up.”
Bakker stared at them both in turn. Then he pointed at them, then towards his office, without saying a word. Kaminski frowned. Whatever this was, it was going to be trouble.
They dutifully followed the DI in silence into his room. Bakker closed the door, then flicked the blinds shut. He put a finger to his lips, checking that they both understood, then he pulled the chair from the desk to the middle of the office. Clambering up onto it, he balanced carefully as he pushed at one of the ceiling tiles, lifting it and sliding it off to one side.
Kaminski glanced at Chakraborty, who wore a similar expression of concern. After reaching into the hole in the ceiling and moving his hand about for a few moments, Bakker slowly, carefully retrieved a bundle of wires and a small box. Some sort of electronic device. Bakker held up a finger again, then replaced the device and the ceiling tile. He climbed back off the chair and returned it to its normal place.
Moving to his desk, he picked up a pen and started writing on a slip of paper. He held it up so they could both read it.
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