The Preparation, 5

Marcus strode out of the study shaking his head. He had been curious when Yuri Petrov came looking for him on his employer's behalf. In light of the extraordinary circumstances affecting everyone on the planet, Marcus really couldn't figure out what Stefan needed to say to him alone.

'I am to understand that you have chosen to assist in your department's policing of the local citizenry ...'

He hadn't exactly chosen. That implied Marcus had a choice. He didn't. He was a cop. It was what he did. It was who he was.

Soon after the stunning announcement of the meteor's existence, Marcus had gotten a text message from police commissioner Mac Scorpio. Telephone switchboards were already jammed with calls worldwide. Mac had taken a chance that his brief message might make it through. 'I could use you' , the simple message read. And really, that was all it needed to say.

Marcus reached the door of the suite he shared with his wife, Alexis. It was larger than the first place he'd rented at Bobbie Spencer's brownstone. He took a deep breath and then stepped inside. As expected, Alexis was waiting.

"What did Stefan want?" The reluctant words were torn from her throat.

"To let me know that he wouldn't be able to spare any of the guards to back me up while I'm out. They're all needed to protect Spoon Island." Marcus was hardly upset about the news. He had never been comfortable knowing that, unlike his fellow officers, he had extra protection as he went about his daily routine.

Stefan's words did not have the same affect on his Alexis. She glared at Marcus and slammed the television remote down on the nearby table. "Why are men so stupid, ” she railed. “ Jack has gone off to find his daughter even though Stefan offered to locate her safely! Now you want to go out in the middle of all this madness!”

With every news report about the growing lawlessness worldwide, Alexis renewed her objections to his decision to 'serve and protect'. They had argued most of the night about his intention to report to the PCPD. Nothing Marcus said made any difference. Alexis was fully in ‘ lawyer mode' , arguing each point the detective put forward as though they were opposing counsel in some high-profile trial.

Arguing was the last thing Marcus wanted to do in the hours after the shocking announcement. He wanted to hold his wife and steady himself in the strength of their bond. But when the Commissioner's plea for help appeared on his phone, Marcus suddenly didn't feel quite so helpless. Here was a chance to do something.

"Lex." Marcus waited while she visibly regained her composure. "You remember my promise to you that I would always accept you for who you were? ” At the time, Alexis had quickly returned the sentiment, claiming it to be the easiest thing she'd ever promised. "Well this is who I am."

They embraced and Alexis cautioned him to protect himself and come home before darkness fell. Her words were tight and clipped and Marcus couldn't miss the faint distance that surrounded them. Even as he strode off, he was uneasy about the way they left things.

"You are ready?"

The quiet inquiry drew Marcus from his thoughts. The launch sat waiting for him to climb aboard. It was the normal manner of transportation to and from Wyndemere and was ordinarily manned by a captain and two guards. Today, however, Marcus counted six security personnel. "Yes, I'm ready," he replied and stepped onto the launch.

Detective Marcus Taggert was no little man. Yet, surrounded by the Cassadine guards, he felt small and vulnerable. All the sentries were heavily armed (though they hardly needed the weaponry). Each of the hulking Russians stood over 6 feet and easily topped two hundred pounds. “Expecting trouble?”

The question might have seemed foolish in light of what was going on. “Da,” the nearest guard nodded. “There have already been attempts to board the launch by force. Easily handled," the guard shrugged, “but Master Stefan prefers to take no chances.”

If someone tried to penetrate such an obviously protected fortress, then things were lawless indeed. That was how television reporters were referring to conditions all around the world – lawless. It made Marcus more aware of the climate he prepared to subject himself to. It also gave him a greater appreciation for his wife's justifiable concerns.

Two of the guards stepped off the launch as soon as it touched the docks. They fell into place beside Marcus as he turned the direction of the Port Charles Police Station. "What are you doing?"

"We have been instructed to see you safely to your police precinct."

"Even in these circumstances,” Marcus said, “ I don't think the Commissioner would be happy seeing me with two bodyguards at my side everywhere I go."

The older of the two guards shook his head. "No. We have not been instructed to accompany you as you police. We have been directed only to see you safely to the station. Master Stefan thought it wise you not travel alone. He suggests you apply that same wisdom once we depart."

Although heavy and armor-plated, taking a Cassadine limo to the station would be like waving a red flag at those gathered in the streets. It was only a mile or two to the station, not enough to break a sweat over. Marcus broke into a gentle jog, not surprised when the heavily armed, black-suited Cassadine guards effortlessly matched his stride.

None of them spoke. The only sounds, Marcus marveled, were the guards' occasional faint grunts when they were forced to deal with an overly curious or boisterous loiterer. Halfway to the precinct, one obviously intoxicated man threw himself in their path and earned a vicious chop to the throat for his trouble. He went down like a log. The guard who assaulted him merely sidestepped the unfortunate man and continued on.

It wasn't long before they reached the station. There weren't a lot of people near there - for obvious reasons. Marcus turned to thank the guards and dismiss them but the two big sentries were already cutting a path through the crowd on their way back to the docks.

Marcus hoped that the other officers were out patrolling the streets. Otherwise very few of Port Charles ' police force had chosen to answer the call. As far as Marcus could tell, the ‘calvary' consisted of two rookies (one male, one female) straight from the Academy, a sixth-year detective and a recent transfer from the 1–9 in Brooklyn who thought he was Rambo.

"No Alex?"

Commissioner Mac Scorpio shook his head. "He's going to Texas to get his wife and child."

"Wife? Child?"

"Apparently they married just out of college, stayed together a couple of years and just never divorced."

Marcus was thrown for a loop. "Alex has a wife and child." He shook his head in disbelief. "And it only to the world ending for me to find that out."

 

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