Broken Crown, Part VI


baruti_icon.gif raid_icon.gif tafero_icon.gif uluru3_icon.gif

Scene Title Broken Crown, Part VI
Synopsis Some of Mazdak's inner circle reacts to the capture of a spy.
Date April 5th, 2021

Sunlight reflects off of gently rippling water, revealing all of the colors of a sunset in inversion to the cloudless sky.

Cranes perch on hexagonal stone tiles flush with the water line, wings outstretched and backs toward the setting sun. They peer into their own massive shadows across the water, waiting for the glimmer of iridescent fish scales within the darkness, beaks ready to strike. Nearby, the beige stone façade of a sprawling compound surrounded by botanical gardens serves as the demarcation line between the cranes domain, and the domain of man. Everything divided into regions and kingdoms, with their hierarchies and signifiers.

One of the black cranes spots a glimmer in the dark and lunges its crooked beak into the water. A fish dies so it may live.

The cycle continues.

Al-Faw Palace

April 3rd

6:17 pm Local Time

Soft sandals scuff across the marble-tiled floor of the Al-Faw Palace as Ra'id Abdul-Jalil Sabbagh hurries down its spacious halls. On reaching a grand foyer lit by concentric circles of pillar candles melting in the middle of the floor, he turns toward the darkened recesses of what was once a lounge, now a wide space devoid of furnishing save for the bare stone floor and a thousand burning candles lined from wall to wall. Ra'id abruptly stops in the doorway to this chamber, tucking his hands into the sleeves of his bisht as he lowers his head in a brief bow of obeisance.

Ra'id does not pause for more than a beat before continuing into the room. "«Your holiness,»" he says in a clipped tone of voice, only to be cut off wish an abrupt—


The bare figure of Adam Monroe stands unclothed in the middle of the room, bathed in the golden light of a thousand candles. He holds up two fingers toward Ra'id, eyes closed and listening to a sound only he can hear. But it is merely the face and voice of Monroe, for what lies behind the slowly revealed eyes of molten gold are another entity all together. He slowly blinks his focus from a vacant point in space to Ra'id, one brow raised. "Now you may interrupt." He says in English.

Ra'id sucks in a sharp breath and continues to advance, refusing to address the Entity in anything other than his own native tongue. "«My men have captured a spy from America.»" He says with a sense of leading urgency, as if trying to teach a child through context clues what was important and what was not. The entity says nothing, merely continues to inspect his own body in the candlelight. "«One is dead, but the one we kept alive—she is February Lancaster, of this world.»"

The entity looks up to Ra'id again with the languid disdain of a cat disrupted from afternoon lounging in a sunbeam. "So fucking kill her," the entity says dismissively, "I am trying to feel something."

Ra'id keps his eyes averted to the tile, but approaches two steps closer. "«Given what happened to the interpretation of her that was in Twin Falls, I thought you would appreciate—»"

"You thought wrong." The entity says, closing his eyes again. "She is of no significance to anyone. Please, if you're looking for guidance then kill her. If you aren't, you can bloody well stop disrupting me."

Ra'id swallows down the next word that was about to leave his mouth, dipping his head down instead to show respect where none has been earned. "«Of course. This will be the last you hear of it, your holiness.»" He said, backing out of the room. The entity does not even acknowledge this much, instead lifting a hand and looking at it in the candlelight as if it were the first time he was ever seeing his own palm, flexing fingers one by one in the air, then rolling his wrist and watching the way candlelight plays off his skin.

By the time Ra'id has gotten back into the foyer, he has dug his nails so deep into the hem of his bisht's sleeves that he is pulling up threads.

Constitutional Hall
Private Suite


April 3rd

7:57 pm Local Time

Jakob Tafero looks uncomfortable in his surroundings. The curving glass wall of a private suite within the Constitutional Hall feels too much like Washington DC for him to ever be comfortable. Out the windows the city of Baghdad glitters like a cobalt plate of gemstones, but the beauty of it is lost on him. He rankles against the eggshell white walls, the ornate glass sculptures, the fluted lamps and crackling fireplace. All of it feels like so much waste.

"Lancaster's a good win." Tafero says with a look across the room to Baruti Naidu, who reclines in a high-backed synthetic leather armchair near the fireplace. "We lost Bosclair but… you know." He shrugs noncommittally. "Wish we could've kept Ruskin's brains inside his fucking skull long enough to tell us something. Lancaster feels like she'll take a bullet in the mouth just to be spiteful."

Baruti looks at the fire, then Tafero. "She will not," he says with some confidence.

"Your elders tell you that?" Tafero wonders, crossing his arms over his chest.

"I trust the Skein," Baruti answers, slowly sitting forward in the chair. "I trust you in the same regard. But you are two very different methods of trust. Regardless, I have faith that Lancaster is exactly where she needs to be."

Tafero seems less inclined to believe that, but he doesn't openly contradict Baruti's faith. He knows better than to do that. "We lucked out with the tip," he says instead. "We knew right when to move into their room and wait for one of them to come back. Timing could've been a little better, but… you can't argue with the results."

Baruti is less concerned with those details. "Were you able to absolve Ms. Davignon of her telepathy?"

"Yeah." Tafero says. "St. Germain got what he wanted, he'll do double time for us now in France. Davignon Corp will secure the rare earth materials you asked for, which'll keep us from having to push too hard on the Malagasy angle until we have to."

Baruti considers Tafero with a thoughtful stare. "Do you think we would lose?"

"Against the Malagasy army? No." Tafero opines. "Against the Apo Mpiambina? Absolutely."

"Why?" Baruti pushes back, then slowly rises from his chair.

"Good force diversification. They're not all-in on Evo shit, they've got the tech to back it up." Is Tafero's honest answer. It elicits a smile of amusement from Baruti, then a restrained laugh and a shake of his head. "The fuck's so funny?"

"Evo shit." Baruti quotes back to Tafero with a bright smile and a shake of his head. "Do you even listen to yourself sometimes?"

Tafero snorts, scuffing a hand at his jawline. "Expressive whatever the fuck you say here. Jesus."

"Dumuuda," Baruti says slowly with a roll of his tongue on the d. "Child of the sun. It's Sumerian."

Tafero shakes his head. "I'm never saying that correctly, and I'm not going t'fucking embarrass myself. You'll take the Evo and you can laugh at me behind closed doors." Baruti only smiles in response, then walks past Tafero toward the windows. He lingers there at the wall of curving glass, looking out over the Baghdad cityscape.

"Do not kill Lancaster without checking with Nabu." Baruti says quietly, looking at the reflection of his own neon blue eyes in the glass. Tafero bristles at the notion, but says nothing. "Mr. Kellar can put you in touch, he speaks for him when he cannot speak." Something about that rubs Tafero the wrong way.

"When do I get to meet him?" Tafero asks. "Nabu. I've met Sabbagh, I've met Sa'id. What gives?"

Baruti looks at Tafero in reflection until he is sure that Tafero feels those cold blue eyes on his skin. "You don't. You return to work. You stop asking stupid fucking questions." Baruti's tone doesn't bother Tafero much, but being told to get back to work doesn't set well with him either. Making a frustrated face, Tafero circles around on Baruti and looks him up and down.

"If you want me working, next time send some more fucking backup." Tafero hisses and Baruti looks away from him and out into the city. "Lancaster could've popped my fucking head right off."

Baruti nods. "That would have been a tragic sacrifice," he says, choosing his words very carefully. But before Tafero can express frustration he adds, "But I will do what I can. I would prefer it if we did not cross-pollenate resources too much to keep up the appearances of separate interests. But, I suppose there's not much time left to worry about those semantics." Baruti watches Tafero again, noting that he hasn't moved a muscle. "Go, if you need to be dismissed to. Figure out how to get what we need out of Lancaster."

Tafero starts to leave, then hesitates and sharply asks. "What the fuck is that anyway? What do we need from her?"

Baruti stays focused on the city, or perhaps something further away in the dark. "We'll know it when we see it…"

"…and not a minute later."

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