A flurry of stars preceded my appearance in the courtyard of the GC. The God Complex. I don’t think there’s ever been a more perfect name for a building. I was quickly relieved of any worry I held that my starry arrival would cause shock or a problem. None of the people milling about even batted an eye in my direction.
I took a deep breath.
The air seemed purer somehow. The breath came easier than it had in weeks. Maybe it was the air at the base of Mt. Olympus. Maybe it was being close to home. Whatever it was, there was a subtle ease that seemed to flow over my body from just being there.
Before coming back, I’d fixed the Alton situation as best I could. The visible mess had been cleaned and disposed of properly. The letters that needed to be typed were left with people that could have them disseminated appropriately. My case was closed. Blind Equity had been paid. On the night in question, I’d even made it back home to Anthony before he knew I was gone.
Once he realized his father was gone, he’d blame me, whether there was a body or not. There definitely would never be a body to identify. He’d never be able to forgive or forget. I would never be able to lie to him if he asked me about it. So, I’d done what I was summoned to do. I did the thing that would take me as far away from Anthony as I could get. I went home.
Looking up at the shiny structure in front of me, I grimaced. In my time back, I’d easily adapted to technology and this new world. I enjoyed the perks and ease that came from its information highway. So, I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a traditionalist, but the building just looked so—modern.
I approached with more hesitation than I’d like to admit. With slow steps, I eventually made it to the front door and the guard that stood there. He nodded. “Welcome home.”
I frowned slightly, the greeting making me uncomfortable. He opened the door and pointed toward the reception desk. The lobby was just as busy as the courtyard. It was full of people running back and forth.
Annoyance. Yes, I felt—annoyed.
I mean, if I were honest, I really did feel a lot better than I had in…months. I could breathe without needing to force myself to center. The cramping and rage were all echoed in the back of my mind. They were still there. My scales were still mightily imbalanced, but the closer I’d gotten to this new home, the better I’d felt.
One of Anthony’s favorite artists was Toni Braxton. He’d go on tangents about how she should have never changed her style from her “Breathe Again” days. He’d played that album over and over again. For some reason, I always heard the lyrics as, “and I will breathe again” instead of, “and I will never breathe again.” Coming to the GC was freeing. It also had that stupid song playing in my head over and over. I was home. I would finally be able to breathe again.
I walked over to the receptionist’s desk. The guard at the front of the building had told me this was the place to check-in. The building was all shiny, modern, glass, and chrome. The interior decor seemed simple, almost plain, and the staff blended with it perfectly. Their demeanor and faces were so blank and serious. I wasn’t sure if they were under some sort of drone spell or if they were functioning purely under fear of the penalty of death. I hoped it wasn’t the latter. I thought we’d given up those old ways. But, I acknowledged to myself as I glanced around, with my family, one could never be sure.
“May we assist you?” asked the human-furnishing to the right of the desk.
The use of we momentarily caught me off guard. For some reason I couldn’t define, it disturbed me that I couldn’t determine if she was using the royal we, just a we that referred to all three receptionists, or if she had just pluralized herself. Frowning, I rotated my shoulders as I looked away from her. I glanced toward the guard for a moment, before turning back to face her. “I’m…”
“Dikê. Yes, we know.” She tapped her left ear as she glanced over my shoulder. I followed her line of sight to a small camera in the ceiling high above my left shoulder. “How may we assist you today, Dikê?”
My lips pursed again at the sound of we. Were they robots? “He,” I pointed out the guard I’d spoken to, “said to check in here.” I waved my finger around at him dramatically to give myself cover while I scanned the lobby. I made sure to take in all the security features. I could spot them easily—too easily. So easily, I knew that meant there were definitely more security measures at play.
She nodded, looking to the woman at her left, who started clacking away at her keyboard. “Yes, well, your arrival was expected—much sooner.”
“Was it now?” I asked, sarcasm lacing my voice. My eyes flashed from brown to silver as I leaned across the desk. “Maybe the next time, dear old Dad sends a summons, he should send a car or chariot to collect me. Or even,” I glanced at the guard I’d just noticed on the opposite side of reception, “a police escort would do.”
She smirked, the first sign of individuality sparkling through. “Justice shouldn’t need to be summoned home. Justice should never leave the world that needs it. Now, here’s a pass to the left elevator bank. Go up one floor, and the receptionist will have your welcome packet and floor assignment.”
“My welcome packet?” I asked, confused. I was thrown off. The concept of a welcome process completely upended me. It disconcerted me enough that I almost forgot that human-furniture number one had been snarky. “What’s your name?”
She laughed, returning to her seat at the center of the circular desk. “Oh, dear, I know the rules. If I told you my name, you’d have to kill me. Elevator-bank one, get off on the first floor, see the receptionist, receive your welcome packet.
“Why do I need a welcome packet?”
Her eyes twinkled as she glanced up from her computer. “We do not know the answer to such questions, only that you are welcome, therefore you get a packet. G’day, Goddess.”
I thought of reaching across the desk. I considered pulling her from her chair and taking out all my frustration on her fragile form. After some slight hesitation, I decided against it. The decision was made partly because I knew my rationale was as askew as my scales, and partly because I needed to go find out what was in the welcome packet.
Just as I made my way across to the elevator-bank, I heard a hissing sound.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
I spun around, eyes already shining and ready to do battle. I did not get along with my family, and the greeting let me know the feeling was mutual.
“They called in Justice? That’s rich…”
My eyebrow arched as I took in her visage. Like most goddesses, she was stunningly beautiful. In fact, she was so beautiful it made most people underestimate her danger. Even that underestimation required, they almost always forgot her heart. Yes…Ruin had a heart, a fact most never wanted to acknowledge.
A smirk curved her lips. “Dikê.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Atë.”