They’d cornered Orion’s Belt.
Finally, Alpha Dog had had enough, and he demanded answers, and his pride demanded the ones he wanted answered for himself first, and that was how the Council finally confronted Orion’s Belt.
“You want answers?” he said back, to no one in particular, ignoring the glare of Alpha Dog, ignoring all of them, really, a sad, distant look on his face. He looked just like the rest of them, the same glorious, ridiculous costume, all alone, cut off from the Red Dean, cut off from the rest of the Witch Doctor’s budding alliance, or conspiracy, depending who you asked.
The one element of that costume that everyone always took note of was the collar, the one so huge that it looked more like a necklace, or a belt. Hence his name.
“I’ll give you answers,” he continued. He didn’t look at any of them, just reached his hand upward, toward that belt, the one that glowed all the time, even when all the heroes were sitting around, like they were right now. He clicked the center, what would have been a belt buckle, if it had actually been a belt. At first, nothing happened. The belt simply fell off.
You could hear Alpha Dog grunt derisively, but then, the Council, and certainly Orion’s Belt, was used to that.
But then Orion’s Belt started to fade, to glimmer actually. No one knew what was happening. He’d never done that before. Then space seemed to shift around him. No, that’s not right. The space didn’t shift. He shifted, from one to three separate forms. Each of the three forms that emerged from this transformation was a male, about thirty years old, all the same height, all just under six feet. One of them had a beard. Two of them were clearly brothers. And they were all naked.
The one with a beard spoke: “So, now you know. The name’s Jake Remus. These are Norris and Joe Browne.”
Alpha Dog grunted again.
“Fascinating,” the Boolean said. “This is not unheard of, but still. Fascinating.”
“There’s more to it,” Ajax concluded.
“There is,” Jake Remus said. “You’re not going to know what it is.”
The two brothers beside him nodded as if there was no question about it.
“This is unacceptable,” Alpha Dog. It was his favorite refrain. Everyone had heard him say it, everyone had had it addressed to them. It didn’t mean he didn’t believe it every time. “You’re to return to quarters for further questioning. No questions.”
The three members of the Orion’s Belt matrix didn’t think to question him, not with the entire Council present, except for Sky Fox.
Justin Proper was the only one who didn’t speak in that moment, besides the Browne brothers. He alone seemed to understand the gravity of what had just occurred. The Council had just forced a most intimate secret into the open, from one of their own squires. Yes, they had just succeeded in reasserting their authority. But the cost would be greater than any of them could yet realize. The Witch Doctor would be displeased. Was he really the only one who understood what that meant?