THE CATHEDRAL OF KNOWN THINGS (Part 15)

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-FORTY YEARS EARLIER-

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-FORTY YEARS EARLIER-

Shoving out with both hands as hard as he could, Samuel pushed the twins away from him in opposite directions. He dropped to one knee just as a hail of bullets ripped through the door with violet flashes of thaumaturgic bursts and flew over his head.

Samuel was sprayed with splinters of wood. The bullets made a thudding noise as they hit the scuttling shadows on the opposite wall. Samuel's deeper instincts guided him. Aiming up, his revolver spat four times. The hail of bullets ceased immediately.

Samuel sprang forward, kicking the door open and rolling into the room beyond. He came up shooting. Four more golems fell to the floor to join the two he had shot through the door. They thrashed and jerked upon hardened shadows, cracking and popping as their bodies began breaking into chunks of dry stone within their cassocks.

The revolver empty, Samuel holstered it, drew his rifle and primed the power stone. His magic took stock of the situation.

The apartment had been gutted. Door-shaped holes had been cut into the left and right walls, leading into the neighbouring apartments. Samuel's prescient awareness warned him that danger approached from the left side hole, into which all the shadows seemed to be crawling. He pressed his back to the wall next to the opening and waited.

Another golem stepped through, holding its pistol directly in front of it. Samuel drew his empty revolver and held the barrel to the golem's temple. Without a bullet to propel, the burst of thaumaturgy still punched a hole straight through the creature's head, and it crumbled to the floor. A second golem appeared, tripped over the ruins of the first and stumbled into the room.

Samuel's rifle spat a bullet into its face.

Wasting no time, not bothering to wait for the twins, Samuel darted through the hole in the wall into the apartment where the darkness congregated. He shot three more armed golems before they could fire, and smashed the head off a fourth with the butt of his rifle.

As Samuel quickly ejected the rifle's empty magazine and slapped a fresh one into place, he was vaguely aware of the twins entering the room he had just left. He heard Macy telling Bryant to check the other apartment through the hole on the right side wall before she stepped up beside Samuel. Her breath caught as she saw her fellow agent was now aiming his rifle at Fabian Moor.

The Genii sat cross-legged upon the floor, deep in a trance which the noise of fighting had not disturbed. Through the lenses of the goggles, he appeared to Samuel in perfect colour. His eyes were closed and face expressionless; his smooth, pale skin was only blemished by a patch of scarring upon his forehead. His long hair, white and straight, flowed over the shoulders of his black priest's cassock.

Samuel had wondered a hundred times what this creature of higher magic might look like. Never had he imagined that he would be facing someone so human-looking.

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