I’d barely settled myself on a rock and made myself comfy before he popped back in.
His gorgeous mouth was set in an unhappy line and his eyes snapped blue fire. “What have you lot been doing?”
I raised a brow.
He made an impatient motion. “Your Watchers have all but died out. Somewhere, down there, you have less than ten souls doing what should be the work of thousands, if not millions. Some of those reports appear to be highly questionable as to their provenance and some are clearly outright fraudulent.”
“You mean to say that you guys were going to wipe out my planet due to some errors in paperwork and red-tape?”
A muscle ticked at his jawline, his eyes frosty. “Do not you dare blame this on me. What have you been doing on that planet of yours that your Watchers are near extinction?”
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know. For that matter, I wasn’t sure what the Watchers were or what they did.
Some of my confusion must have leaked through. He sighed in frustration. “Who decided you were a good candidate for this position?”
I shrugged, “There wasn’t exactly much of a choice in the selection. Also, the Watchers aren’t part of my purview. Why would I know anything of them?”
His brows snapped together and his eyes narrowed. “You have no Watchers? Then who catalogs the evolution of humanity and how?”
“That seems like an extremely inefficient and potentially error laden way of doing things. We tally up the sins and good deeds of every soul at death and enter them into the appropriate ledgers. At the end of every solar cycle, we take the total and run that through Zhang Heng’s Theorem. We arrive at the evolutionary coefficient in that way. All of our paperwork is uploaded at the moon rise.”
He took in a deep breath. A vein pulsed at his temple. “You are a goddess of the Chinese pantheon.”
He drew a symbol in the air.
The night sky blazed with sudden light. Rows upon rows of numbers and words scrolled up from the horizon.
“That explains why the accounts for your planet is such a mess. Do you gods speak to one another? I’m not going to ask if you cooperate with one another because I already have the sorry answer to that.”
I stared at the numbers, ran some quick calculations in my head, and cursed mentally
Alexandros. I’m going to put you in a world of infinite pain for this.
He had to have known. There was no way that he didn’t know that his numbers were spotty at best and completely missing in far too many places. He wasn’t the only offender, of course, but his high number of followers made him falling down on the job a much bigger problem. It was like taxes — a multibillionaire skimping on his return was going to be a problem. Someone barely making minimum wage? Not as much of a big deal.
“The order has been rescinded, for now. You are required to bring in documentation of your evolutionary coefficient and proof of it in seven solar cycles in order to maintain the reprieve. Of course, you will also destroy the tech before it becomes a problem.”
I raised my eyes to the heavens in search of patience. “Oh, for the days of having a proper enemy to smite and be done with. Death is so much easier than bureaucracy. At least with that one you knew where you stood at all times.”
“Any questions?” His words were prim and his tone prissy.
Clearly, someone didn’t agree with my barbaric notions.
I shrugged. “No. It was fairly clear. Straighten up a few millennia’s worth of messed up numbers, put a whole new bureaucracy in place for a couple of religions who won’t appreciate me butting in, and set up some sort of protocol to unify the world’s religions. Nothing to it.”
“Your levity seems inappropriate.”
“Honey darling, you have no idea. Either I can sit down on this here rock and start rocking and weeping, or I can indulge in a wee bit o’ sarcasm. I’m choosing the latter because I have a personal rule against crying in front of a man I’m not fucking.”
His eyes widened. “I see.”
“No. You don’t, and that’s fine. Just letting you know what the score is.” I stood up from the rock and stretched out my limbs, wincing with each little pop.
I inclined my head. Courtesy was courtesy, no matter how much I wanted to jump on his prim and proper ass.
“Thank you for reviewing the case and for gaining us the reprieve. Will I see you again when I come to submit the paperwork?”
His mouth quirked. “Yes.”
I nodded and was just about to shift when he casually added another sentence.
“I will be with you when you do.”
“I have been tasked to assist and observe.”
I arched a brow. “Oh, no no no. No. I don’t do together. I don’t do partners. I don’t do guys, especially.”
He didn’t miss a beat. “How fortunate that you are not required to do me then. That wasn’t a suggestion or a request, Amarantha. My company is a requirement for your reprieve.”
He drawled my name, caressing the syllables with his deep voice.
I inhaled. “All right. We need to discuss this.”
“By all means.”
I ignored the note of amusement in his voice. “What, exactly, is your task?”
“It is not to spy upon you and the workings of the gods on your planet, if that is your fear. We already know that it’s a spectacular mess.”
“Much as you may find it hard to believe, Amarantha, the Council does not set such orders lightly. There seems to be an inordinate amount of confusion involved in the situation and I have been seconded to you so that I may ensure that your planet receives as fair a treatment as possible. Should there be further extenuating circumstances, I might be able to garner more sympathy for your planet’s plight.”
I tapped my fingers against my thigh and considered him.
He didn’t seem to be lying and he didn’t seem to be a big honking scumball like that god from before, if a bit on the prissy side.
I just knew this was going to be another one of those things I’d regret. Not that I had a choice either way. “All right. Fine.Are you going to interfere?”
“In how you do your job? No. In how you deal with others? No. In anything not directly pertaining to this case? No.”
I sighed again. “Allrighty then. Let’s do this.”
I said it as if I had a choice.