Chapter 1: "The First Day" 6

Everyone is waiting in a room next to the open-plan office area where the constables and corporals have their desks. The assembly room can just accommodate the full complement of police at this station, and even then it’s a tight fit.

Wait, not everyone is here. He does a quick count – all the mortals, the Guardia Popula, are here, but with annoyance he sees that only one of his two Guardia Dei sergeants is present. He recognizes her for a goddess immediately – no mortal would dominate a room like that, radiating power and aloof grace. She stands slightly to the side as if avoiding being too close to the mortal officers. Or are they the ones trying to stay away from her? She is so shockingly beautiful that Sky must force himself to ignore it, giving her only a small nod of acknowledgment, which she returns with a subtle movement of her head, before turning his gaze elsewhere. She is not wearing the standard uniform, he notes, and this compounds his annoyance, since he has, for nearly the first time, actually worn the full, proper dress uniform. The part of him that constantly examines himself for signs of backsliding, giving in to his dark side, laughs at him. He has no reason to be annoyed at her, after all. Gods have their own dress codes. It was his choice to dress as he did, hers to wear those lovely blue robes. In fact, as formally as he is dressed, he feels quite shabby in comparison.

He makes eye contact with the mortal sergeant and approaches him. Sky takes out the envelope the Commander had given him the day before and hands it over to the Sergeant. “My orders, Sergeant Machado,” he says, hoping he pronounced the name correctly.

Though the sergeant surely knew about the change of command well before Sky did, he follows protocol, taking out the orders and reading them, his very round, very dark face serious. Satisfied that nothing is out of order, he comes to full attention and snaps a precise salute. “Inspector Tuma-Sukai, as per orders from the Commander of the Guardia, I turn over command of this station to you, sir!”

Sky salutes in return, attempting to mirror the man but knowing that his long habit of ironically sloppy salutes probably shows. “Sergeant, I take command from you.” He brings his hand down, and the sergeant does as well a moment later. Then Sky holds his hand out. Machado looks down at it, his face registering mild surprise, then without betraying any other emotion, takes the god’s hand and shakes it firmly.

Sky smiles briefly. “I understand you will need to promote two constables to corporal, Sergeant.” He knows Machado was himself only promoted from corporal to sergeant a few days before--the Three Rats Station had been so small that it had only rated a corporal as a commanding officer until now. “Have you already made your choices?”

Machado nods, as if being allowed to choose his own corporals were perfectly natural, when in actuality it was the prerogative of the new commanding officer. He beckons over a tall, powerfully built young woman who is grinning nervously, her long wavy brown hair in a thick plait running down her back, and a young man with green eyes and pale skin turning paler as he is presented to his new lieutenant. Machado says, “May I introduce Constable Aliyah Kaur and Constable Phillipus Stathos? They have both served under me for years, and served very well. They will make fine leaders.”

Sky looks them over. He finds himself unable to resist the urge to smile at the big, bright grin on Kaur’s brown face, and his slight smile makes her smile even more. He tries to look reassuring to the nervous young man beside her. “Of course I am required to review their records before giving final approval, Sergeant, but I think we can take that as given at this point. I assume you have their corporal’s bars already?”

“Of course, sir,” Machado replies, taking two small boxes out of the pocket of his dress jacket. Kaur giggles from pure joy for a moment, then tries to cover it with a fake cough, and snaps back to attention. Machado shoots her a glare, then offers the boxes to Sky.

Sky waves that off and says, “Please, Sergeant. You should do the honor,” and is happy to see Machado finally smile.

The sergeant removes the single bar of a constable from each of Kaur’s shoulders first. He looks at the corporal’s bars, weighing them in his hand, and says to her, like a proud father, “These were mine, you know –”

The ceremony is interrupted as a god wearing the finest Guardia dress uniform Sky has ever seen suddenly opens the door and enters. He has sergeant’s stripes on his shoulder, and but for a livid bruise forming on his cheek, he is as handsome as the other Guardia Dei sergeant is beautiful. Sky locks eyes with him and, as the newcomer opens his mouth to offer some excuse, freezes him with a look of cold anger at the interruption.

Breaking off his gaze, Sky notices that the mortal cops in the room are staring at him in shock. He curses himself and tamps down his anger, knowing what his face looks like, the fierce black tattoos beginning to bloom on his skin. He brings himself back under control and signals for Machado to continue.

The human sergeant finishes the ceremony in unsmiling silence, then salutes the new corporals, as does Sky, who shakes their hands and offers his congratulations, afterwards standing aside so that the two immortal sergeants can do the same. He notices that they both avoid his gaze, the latecomer trying to hide his nervousness, the goddess not hiding her coldness towards him. It is only then that he realizes that, in trying to ignore her beauty, he ended up ignoring her entirely, allowing himself to get caught up in the pleasure of the promotion ceremony, when he ought to have addressed her immediately after taking command of the station.

He sighs. Protocol has never been his strong point. “Sergeant Alma, Sergeant Gwydion,” he says, prompting them to face him and come to attention, the goddess so perfectly and completely that it feels like a rebuke to him, the handsome god more slowly. He returns their salutes. “At ease. Welcome to Three Rats Station.” He looks at the entire assembly: three sergeants, two of the Guardia Dei, one Guardia Popula; two corporals and nine constables, all more or less human, though he wasn’t sure about the one with skin the color of dark red wine; and two more mortals standing at the end of the room, one apparently a doctor from his clothes, the other perhaps some kind of lab tech, both showing no interest whatsoever in the little show unfolding before them.

“Though some of you are veterans of Three Rats, I know we Guardia Dei are not the only ones who are new here. Welcome to all of you. We have a lot of work to do, getting this station set up and running smoothly. I look forward to getting to know each of you over the next few days, and I hope you will come to me if you have anything you think I need to know. Though of course...” he says, at a look from Sgt. Machado, “...you should go through the chain of command in normal circumstances. I’ll leave you now to Sgt. Machado, as I need to speak with my fellow Guardia Dei. Carry on.”

He glances at each of his immortal sergeants and heads back to his office, assuming they will follow.


  1. This section cements Sky as a reactive character instead of a proactive character. I hope you intended this, because (unless you send him through a character development arc) any planning he does in future sections except in the guise of "That didn't go so well; next time I will [...]" will not fit/ring true to his personality as you've shown it.

    This section feels like it was intended to come directly after section 4. If it was, that would have made sense of the lack of designation of who "he" is until the middle of the second paragraph. As it stands, though, without a formal chapter break, anyone reading straight through your sections will still be thinking of "he" as Dion, regardless of section break. Not a big problem, but it will throw the reader a little to see "Dion" referring to "his Guardia Dei sergeants."

    This section also opens up the question of how religion or multiple religions work here, by way of the human character names ("Kaur" being Sikh/Hindi and "Phillipus Stathos" a form most often associated with Eastern Orthodox Christianity). More mysteries to keep reading in order to understand.

    1. From Sky:

      Well, as Sky finds his footing, he will regain his confidence. But this will take time.

      Argh! I should've seen that pronoun ambiguity before. Thank you. We do sometimes switch the order in which something is posted around, and yes, this did originally follow 4. I'll have to keep a sharper eye out for problems caused by such switches...

      Yes, religion (and even non-religion!) and its role in the many cultures of the City will be making larger appearances in the story.