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Scene Title Sacrifice
Synopsis Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it. — J.M. Barrie
Date July 10, 2021

It's raining.

The New York City skyline looks like little candle flames set against a dark room. Glittering city lights swallowed up by the night. From the penthouse of the Deveaux Building, the city looks at once small and distant. Charles Deveaux looks past his reflection in the glass, watching the beads of water as they track forking paths across the window. Never moving in the same way twice, and yet never moving in ways entirely unpredictable. Charles turns, looking at a corner of the room unoccupied by anyone, though the potted fern there is rustling as if someone just was.

Claire de Lune is playing on a record somewhere else in the penthouse, only faintly audible here. Just enough to matter.

"I asked you a question." Charles doesn't look at the woman talking to him. Instead, he looks at her reflection in the window. Alice Shaw is defiant, arms crossed and head bowed, brows knit together in that way she does to show her disapproval. She doesn't have to though, Charles can feel it in the tone of her voice. In the texture of her thoughts. He stops prying, it's a bad habit. "What did you see?" She asks him again.

Charles delays his response to massage the bridge of his nose, then exhales a slow and calming breath through his nose. "Everything," he says with a quaver in his voice. He looks at her reflection again, and Alice steps up to stand behind Charles, looking at his eyes reflected in the window. "I saw god damn well everything." And it's killing him.

"And what are we going to do?" Alice asks, glancing at the fern. It's still, now. Not a breeze to be found. She steps around to get between Charles and the window, looking him in the eye. "What's the plan?"

Charles doesn't answer. He looks past Alice, out the window, out to the dark city beyond set against a suffocating night. He closes his eyes, breathing in deeply. Out through his nose. Calming. Centering.

"We're going to have to make some sacrifices."

Thirty-Seven Years Later

Phoenix Heights
NYC Safe Zone

July 10, 2021
11:17 pm

A black 1984 Lincoln Continental rolls down a street riddled with potholes. Rain rolls off the car's hood in sheets, windshield wipers swish from side to side.

The car has seen better days, pockmarked with dents and dings, cracks in the windshield. What used to be a luxury car forty years ago is little more than a clunker these days. But its engine predates the placement of widespread computer use in cars, making it EMP proof. In post-war America, vehicles like this have been given a new lease on life. It hardly looks out of place on the empty streets of Phoenix Heights. The car pulls to a vacant stretch of ruined curb, headlights off. This far out from the city's heart there's barely functioning street lights, and with the heavy rain everything is thrust into an oppressive gloom.

The car sits idle for a while, directly across from an old blue USPS drop box. Further down the block, a single light comes on in the window of a brick factory. There is a pattern marked in tape on the window, half a DNA helix. But not just that, it's the symbol to those that know it. They'd capitalize Symbol. Dredge up names like Adam Monroe and Kensei. On seeing the black silhouette of the symbol against the window light, the driver steps out of the car, sweeping gray dreadlocks over his shoulder and upturning the collar of his jacket.

The man known only as Damian steps away from the car, cutting onto the sidewalk and briskly makes his way down to a door set in the factory's brick wall. It's unlocked, and he slips into the darkness inside without resistance. The factory floor is dark, riddled with crisscrossing catwalks and old conveyor belts laden with dusty bottles. Damian doesn't hesitate as he ascends a flight of stairs, moving toward the distant sound of a piano being played. His footfalls are firm and purposeful, ring like announcements on the metal steps and catwalk grating. Eventually he finds light, an oil lantern burning in a former office space converted into a tiny living area. There's a throw rug on the hardwood floor, an antique armoire and a dressing screen with a velvet robe draped over it.

Claire de Lune echoes through the space, and Damian follows the purposeful melody that shifts between rambling fingerwork to forceful condemnations. It leads him past an old antique trunk, a little armchair positioned by a window where the lantern hangs, illuminating tape on the glass. Through a doorway partitioned by a beaded curtain, into another converted office space. There's old paintings here, leaned up against the wall. A red velvet chaise lounge with a black fur blanket draped over it. An empty bottle of wine and a long-stemmed glass with dark lipstick on the brim.

The back of the room is partitioned by another folding screen, this one displaying cranes in flight over a field of white orchids. Damian can just make out one half of the baby grand piano, and one hand of the woman playing.

"You're early," she says, continuing to play. "Did you deliver my gift?" She asks, and Damian moves to the screen but not around it.

"I did. She hasn't used it yet, as far as I know." Damian admits, though his brows furrow when he does, as if he's unsure why — or if he needs to explain himself. The woman on the other side of the screen doesn't stop playing the piano. "What's next?" He asks, stepping closer to the screen.

"We've done everything we can for now," she admits with reluctance. The answer frustrates Damian, and he takes another step toward the screen.

"With all due respect—"

"With all due respect," she cuts parrots back, cutting him off, "I didn't ask you. Don't tell me you've come this far, after all these years, only to get anxious about dancing on the spiderweb."

Damian tenses, looking down, then leans away from the screen. His silence is answer enough.

"I have something else I need you to do." She says, finishing the last soulful notes of the song. She does not explain immediately, and Damian gives her the time she needs. He can hear her push the piano bench out, the sound of her slippers moving across the hardwood floor. He stands up straight when she steps into view, gray hair and weary, dark eyes. She wears a necklace, the Symbol in gold, though partially melted as if by great heat. She holds it like a rosary in one hand.

"I need you to find someone," she says with a hint of intensity he rarely sees in her anymore. "Family," she specifies, and Damian tenses.

Thirty-Seven Years Earlier

The Deveaux Building, Penthouse
Central Park West
New York City

November 15th

"It's the only way." Chares says without looking at Alice. She breathes in deeply, then exhales again and nods. "Things are moving too fast, and I don't know how many members of the Company were compromised. We're working with days, probably." He says, finally turning to look at Alice. The piano music coming from deeper in the penthouse ends. Claire de Lune has ended. All that anyone can hear now is the rain, and the occasional sound of thunder.

"I need you to get him." Charles insists, and Alice dips her head in a nod before turning around and retreating deeper into the penthouse. As she does, she bumps into someone approaching from the hall. They pause, speaking, and the other woman gently puts her hand on Alice's shoulder in a reassuring gesture, then they disappear together, leaving Charles to his thoughts. Ones as vast as the ocean, just as deep, but twice as dark. Charles finds himself flexing his hands open and closed, knuckles popping.

After a few minutes left with his tortured thoughts, it isn't Alice that returns, but the woman who had been playing the piano. She steps out, leading a teenage boy with her. Charles looks at him with an immediate lurch of guilt in his expression. He forces it back behind a grimace, swallowing down the bile in the back of his throat.

"Dad?" The boy asks, looking at the woman at his side and her glittering gold necklace, then to his father, Charles. "What's going on."

"I'm in trouble," Charles says with a quaver in his voice. "We all are." His son looks confused, stepping closer to his father. "And I'm going to need your help to set it all right," he admits with a shake of his head, tears welling up in his eyes.

"Charles…" The woman who escorted his son in starts to say, but stops herself from saying more.

"And it means…" Charles continues, "we're not gonna see each other again. It means you won't even remember me," he adds, swallowing audibly. "Not for a long, long time."

"Dad," his son doesn't understand. Can't. He steps closer to his father who holds up a hand to keep some distance between them.

"Damian, let me finish."

Thirty-Seven Years Later

Damian nods, hands clenched into fists. "Family." He repeats what she said back to him. He has an idea of where this is going, knew it was a matter of when not if. But once she makes this request of him, there's no going back. This opens all of the doors, this lays everything on the table. The beginning of the end. The end of the beginning.

"Anything," Damian affirms. "All you need to do is ask."

She looks him in the eye, and asks what he expected.

"I need you to find my son."


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