aida_icon.gif kellar_icon.gif lucien_icon.gif raid_icon.gif

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Scene Title Superpower
Synopsis Everyone places their faith in something.
Date July 3, 2021

Wind blows over an arid mountain, from which a triangular piece is cut out like a slice of cake. The sun sets behind the mountain ridge, and massive cranes are silhouette against it.

On the ridge overlooking the construction site, Adam Monroe stands with his hands tucked into the pockets of his dark jeans. He squints against the sun, letting the warm wind blow through his hair. "Spring's nice here," he says casually, glancing at the white-haired man at his side. Claudius Kellar smiles, knowingly, and looks over at Adam, half his face cast in the shadow of sunset.

"There's a lot to be had here, Mr. Monroe. More than Pinehearst ever realized, more than America ever dreamed." Kellar looks back at the construction site. "It's a cradle of humanity, Mr. Monroe. Older than even you. My father, Albert, used to live here. He was a member of a very important group to the people of this country."

"Mazdak." Adam says, though there's a hint of question in his tone. Claudius nods in affirmation. "We Kellar men have a profound understanding of the power of lineage, of birthright." He glances at Adam, as if sharing a secret. Adam restrains a grimace as best as he can. "Mazdak is the birthright of all of us, Children of the Eclipse."

"Children of the Eclipse." Adam parrots back dryly. "This sounds like a cult, and it also sounds like you don't know what the bloody hell you're talking about."

Kellar laughs, but it's a bitter one. He hates needing to prostrate himself to Adam Monroe's fortune. "Maybe," he concedes. "But I think you can understand where our allegiances overlap, right? Our kind are the ones who deserve to hold the power. It's natural selection."

Adam furrows his brows, breathing in deeply and sighing as he agrees. "I suppose it is." He admits with some reluctance, watching the construction continue as the sun dips down behind the mountain. "But I'll be honest with you, chap. I don't want to rule a damn thing."

Claudius raises a brow, inviting Adam to finish his thought.

"I want to fucking destroy."

Nine Years Later

Zagros Mountains
Fifteen Miles North of Mosul

The Confederated State of Iraq

July 3rd
7:08 pm Local Time

A gleaming pyramid of glass and steel rises up from the mountains, looking itself like an artificial peak behind which the sun is slowly setting. Claudius Kellar finds no beauty in the majesty he helped create as he is driven up the wide road to the ziggurat Telmun, phone cradled to his ear.

"No, we're going to put it into production on the eleventh." Claudius says over the phone. "Oh don't give me that piss-baby line of shit, he's not going to do a god damned thing. He's too busy jerking off to cuneiform tablets or whatever the fuck he's up to these days. I kind of expected the Old Testament God and we got a useless pile of shit." He says with a rueful laugh, earning an askance look from his driver in the rear view window. "Anyway, let's set the meeting for the 30th. I'm in charge of most of the technical side of things these days, Lucien's just busy sucking the prophets off." He notes with a roll of his eyes. "Sounds good. The thirtieth. Right, Ciao."

As Kellar ends the call he watches out the window as his car drives through the massive entrance of Telmun, entering one of the many branches of subterranean tunnels. "Fucking hate this stupid building," he says under his breath.

It only takes six minutes for his vehicle to dock at an underground parking lot lined with identical automobiles. Kellar ignores his driver saying goodnight and briskly strides away from the vehicle and into an elevator, taking a swift trip up dozens of floors. On the journey up Kellar's view in the elevator changes from bare rock and machined steel to a sudden panorama of the northern countryside of Iraq as the elevator passes into the glass superstructure. It reminds him of Praxia, and the setbacks suffered there.

When the elevator stops, Kellar steps out into the middle of an argument happening in an indoor garden.

"No one—No one told me this was even going on. I would have—I'd have—I'd like to know these things before I make decisions!" Lucius Crane yells, standing nearby to a moss-covered fountain depicting a Assyrian Shedu. "I wouldn't be here right now, I'm not—this makes me very uncomfortable."

Lucien's protests might as well be made to the Shedu statue for all that Aida seems unmoved by them. Her attention is instead directed to Kellar as he steps out of the elevator, motioning to him with her jamawar-laden arm. "Perhaps Mr. Kellar would hear your complaints," Aida deflects, giving Claudius a pointed look. There is no perhaps in her eyes.

"Somebody forget your juice box, Crane?" Kellar jabs as he straightens his suit jacket and approaches the argument.

"Nuclear weapons," Lucien hisses. "You didn't tell me we're sitting on top of nuclear weapons. This is going to be the first place the US hits if this goes sideways. I wouldn't have come here. I would've—I would've—"

Aida gives Kellar a look, then turns and walks away without saying anything. Kellar, meanwhile, put a hand to the small of Lucien's back and urges him toward the fountain. "Crane. If the US so much as sneezes in our direction you know our gold-eyed savior is going to turn their ICBMs into Ice Cream Cones, or whatever the fuck he does, right?" Kellar's gold eyes scan Lucien up and down. "You're safer here than anywhere."

Lucien jerks away from Kellar, then waves one hand wildly in the air. "No, I don't know that! God damnit Claudius, I could've sent a proxy here. I didn't need to be sitting on top of a fucking nuclear stockpile while you and these people play chicken with every nuclear superpower in the fucking world."

"It's only chicken if one person pulls away." Kellar says with a crooked smile. Lucien's eyes track from side to side, searching Kellar's for a hint of a joke that isn't there. Kellar is the only one smiling. "Crane, my boy, you thought you were a big fish. And honestly, you were for the pond you were swimming in. You did great, by the way. Kudos to you for getting us this far, right? But now you're getting a little shaky-legged, because this is all a little bit bigger than you expected. Now you're the Medium fish in a much, much bigger pond."

"Don't fucking patronize me." Lucien sneers, staring Kellar down. Yellow light flickers in his pupils.

Kellar isn't impressed. "What're you going to do, have me kill myself? How do you think that'll work out for you long-term?" Kellar boldly reaches up and taps Lucien on the forehead with two fingers. "Come on, buddy. Think with those brains of yours. Do I seem like the kind of guy who takes unnecessary risks? Was I there when Praxia fell in on itself? Was I there when Wolfhound hit our building?" Kellar pumps his brows up, he wants to hear Lucien say it.

"No." Lucien says through his teeth.

"No. I wasn't. That's right." Kellar says with a toothy smile. "Because I'm smart, because I'm a fucking survivor, and because I have a plan." He gently brushes a little lint off of Lucien's jacket sleeve. "Think of me like the rats on a ship. You don't see me going anywhere, do you?" He spreads his hands. "Ship ain't sinking."

Exhaling a sigh, Lucien looks down at the floor. More embarrassed than anything, now. His face is heated and red.

"Don't do that." Kellar says quietly. "Trust me, Aida couldn't think any lower of either of us. We're two old white men edging in on their ceremonial bullshit," he says with a barely restrained roll of his eyes. "They tolerate us because we're useful." He points out. "So as long as you remain useful, they're going to keep a dim view of you and keep you around in the new world order."

Lucien nods, wetting his lips as he does and smoothing down his hair. "You done having your little nuke-fit now?" Kellar asks. Lucien exhales a sharp breath and steps around Kellar, heading for the elevator. He watches Lucien leave, then clicks his tongue.

"Fucking idiot."


"«Did you kill him?»" Ra'id Abdul-Jalil Sabbagh sounds disinterested as he asks that question across the length of a candle-lit temple contained within Telmun.

Aida, strolling between the rows of candles shakes her head on approach to her old friend. "«No,»" she says with a hint of amusement. "«Claudius bothered to show up, so I left them to play with each other.»" She speaks of them like two unruly dogs. "«Has Nabu contacted you?»" She asks, coming to stand by Ra'id's side below the imperious stare of a statue of Ishtar, weathered from age and exposure to the elements.

"«Nabu has been suspiciously silent as of late.»" Ra'id says with a hint of contempt in his voice. "«But the situation in America is moving apace. The other toy soldiers are marching, and given time they will ignite the tinderbox they've been given and burn themselves alive.»"

Aida nods slowly, trouble evident in her expression if only for the furrow of her brows. "«This continued deviation from the skein worries me, Ra'id.»" She looks up at the inscrutable eyes of the statue. "«We are rapidly approaching the end and our savior has done nothing they were supposed to. The cracks are getting larger and he stands by watching them like it was the weather passing him by.»"

Ra'id seems less worried by all of this. "«A few more days is not going to cost us the world,»" he assures her. "«I have seen no alarming deviations. Even if we cannot predict his movements, nothing around him is moving out of pace. Galatea will be successful, and we will be in control. And once the situation in America settles some, Nabu will contact us. The skein is still the guide.»"

Stepping closer to the statue, Aida brushes her palm against the stone. "«Have you ever wondered if we have misread the signs?»" She asks, watching her hand as it moves along the stone. "«Were we hasty in letting our predecessors fall? Was it right to, metaphorically, hide beneath their corpses while biding our time?»" She finally looks at Ra'id, and the white-bearded seer does not off-handedly dismiss her concerns. Instead, he breathes in deeply and sighs in weary response.

"«Concerns for younger times,»" Ra'id admits in a hushed voice. He too has felt these doubts. "«If we are wrong, we will fail. It is as simple as that. Do you not feel as though we have done everything in our power to maneuver the course of events for the best possible outcome of our kind?»"

Aida nods, though she looks away to the statue's feet. "«What if he chooses not to save us?»"

The question makes Ra'id fall silent and join Aida in observing the statue. "«Uluru will not let this world burn, not even this incarnation,»" he says with some measure of certainty, leaving just enough room for a whisper of doubt. Aida hears it.

"«You have no reservations?»" Aida asks, pushing the issue. "«Your faith is adamant, even in the face of the deviations?»"

Ra'id looks up at Aida. Silence hangs between them as she waits for his answer. His dark eyes show a vulnerability she has rarely seen in him. "«It has to be.»" He whispers.

Aida looks away and nods. She does not press the question again.

They spend the rest of the night in silence.

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