With his chair rocked back on two legs and his booted feet propped up on the table, Malcolm Eady looked like any one of the other dozen men in the department’s morning meeting. The captain, a smugly serious man, glared at the withered arm dangling at Malcolm’s side while he handed out morning assignments. Like every other morning, Malcolm Eady just grinned his devilish grin at the captain.
“Eady,” a voice from behind whispered into his ear.
The raven-haired god dropped his chair to the floor and let his feet slam hard against the cold tile. He turned as another officer, a desk-jockey, hand him a scrawled message. Malcolm nodded his thanks, dismissing the junior officer from his presence and his mind.
The note was short, hastily scrawled and unsigned, but it told the god everything he needed to know. Malcolm Eady rose to his feet, ignoring the startled stare his captain shot at his back. Then he sauntered out of the meeting room and out of the station.
The god-man stopped at a street vendor for breakfast, steamed sausages floating in fragrant cheeses and topped with a pile of sliced tubers. He slipped a chilled bottle of fresh spring water into his pocket, along with a wooden spoon, then he hurried on his way out of the district.
At the edge of his precinct, he slowed his pace, glancing around to make sure he wasn’t noticed. Sensing no prying eyes, Malcolm Eady slipped between two buildings, into an alley barely wide enough to allow his bulk.
In the morning shadows, the fairy girl’s platinum hair stood stark and shining. Her sapphire eyes landed on the food the god-man held. Malcolm Eady grinned, then shoved the food at the girl’s outstretched hands.
“You’ve done well,” the dark-haired man said. “You see, when you provide results, I provide for you.”
The frail girl wolfed down the food, nearly choking herself in the process. She nodded, never looking directly at Malcolm. When she was finished with the biodegradable carton, she tossed it carelessly to the ground.
“Pick it up!”
Malcolm Eady’s voice was sharp, low, and menacing. Startled, the girl snatched the refuse from the ground, hugging it to herself. Her teary eyes turned to his.
“This,” he snarled, anger getting the better of him, “isn’t your slum. This is my district.”
The fairy’s tattered wings wrapped around her body, a futile attempt to guard against his ire. Her body trembled and her eyes dripped tears, but Malcolm could tell neither was from fright but righteous indignation.
He chuckled, his anger flying from him. He beckoned the child with his good arm, pulling her to him by his force of will.
“Now, my pet,” he purred, “tell me all about your gathering of my army.”