They were standing in the rain, the two men, their fingers on the triggers of the guns that were aimed at each other. One of them, a man with a scarred palm and no name, held a sphere in his other hand.

Nobody made a move.

Nobody made a sound.

All that could be heard was the splatter of the roaring rain as it splashed all around them, soaking their clothes, flooding the street. But the men had been trained under fire and steel.

Rain did not stop them.

It could not.

“You know,” the man called Cage Idowu said, smiling, “I won’t lie to you. This is not how I thought the day would end.”

The man with no name answered, but he did not return the smile. “Same here,” was all he said.

“One of us is going to have to die,” said Cage.

The unnamed man looked at him. “Yes.”

Cage’s smile widened. “And one of us will leave with the Sphere.”

The man with no name gripped his gun tighter. “Yes.”

Cage’s gun didn’t move an inch. “Do you even know what you have in your hands?” he asked. “That weapon has the power to change the world. It can revolutionize the way we are. And you just want to use it as a silly heirloom and pass it down to the next unfortunate soul unlucky enough to be your offspring.”

“The sphere is not a weapon,” the man said, “my grandmother gave it to me and it is an honour to guard it — ”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Cage said, rolling his eyes. “Yadi yadi yada. I know all about you people’s code and your creed and your pretentious obsession with the sphere. But have you ever, I mean, ever, asked yourself: guard it from what?”

The man hesitated. Then, “It is not my place to ask questions. Only to pass it on.”

Cage smiled. “It’ll be very hard to do that when I kill you.”

The man with no name cocked his head. “You assume you will win?”

“Oh, I know,” Cage said, there was something in his smile now and somehow the man with no name felt the shiver in his spine, the shake in his limbs.

It was a new sensation, and a familiar one at the same time.

He was scared.

“Ask me how I know so much about the Sphere,” Cage said. “Come on, ask me.”

The man looked at him for a long moment. “How do you know so much about the Sphere?”

Cage held up his right palm and though he was far away, the man with no name could recognise the marks straight away: the concentric circles scarred deep into the skin of his palm.

He would know, he had the same exact mark. The Mark of Akino.

He was not scared anymore, no.

He was terrified.

“Still feeling lucky?” Cage asked.

And no sooner had the last word been said that a shot rang through the air, overpowering the sounds of even the cold rain, as it washed warm blood down the street, as only one man remained standing.

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.