Meta-tribes #7 Compromise



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PART 1: DEADMAN’S CURVE BASHAR AND AQAT two girls are sitting by an oasis making wreathes out of dandelions and clover. There is a small stone wall (mostly made of junk) between them and some goats and a camel that are drinking behind them. There is a bright light on the horizon, the girls are silhouetted expressions of shock and fear The older sister shoves the younger into the pool. The older sister blasted into a photo image on the wall, particles of her are sifted through the stone and garbage. The younger girls emerges from the boiling hot water, flesh is dropping off of her bones. The dust settles a stony hand emerges from the sand behind the wall. There are ripples of movement on the surface of the steaming blood red waters of the oasis. THREE YEARS LATER Nivian soldiers are testing a bomb in the desert and have set up on observation post in a small town. Beta-Com, why had the detonation sequence been disrupted. I’m sorry Sub Comptor, there seems to be interference with the probe. Wait I’m getting something, it sounds like---CRUNCH the undetonated bomb lands on top of the communications officer. It looks like an old ‘Fatboy’ atomic bomb. It has the standard of Nin’eva on the side. panels Choshekh walks into observation post, floats into the air with a smoky aura, black tendrils shoot into the surrounding buildings Debris on the ground rise up and form a figure. Aqat walks into it and is coved in an armor or wreckage. narration Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my She begins smashing a building. Nivian soldiers approach with hesitation. A dark figure calls to them. They look over, the figure comes out of the shadows, it is a dried and withered corpse. The body cracks apart and Bashar emerges. She stretches out and starts chopping up the officers and draining their blood. (Splash page of the 3 villains wreaking havoc) The three figures walk off at a leisurely pace. Some people begin to peak out of the shadows. Others race to help injured friends and family. There is a combination of sobbing on the ground and curses hurled into the air. mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. THE DISCIPLES Rahzel is standing in a doorway looking out at some storm clouds. He is holding a coffee in a tin cup. “Lot of rushing around today…somet’ins goin on.” Hanan: “The court is deciding what to do about Ugrit. He’s gotten wrapped up in something with the Persicaans and Sushans…there’s bound to be some blood in it.” Rahzel: “All this over one little punk.” Hanan: “He’s Kayn… besides, there aren’t many surgeons in the Outland.” Rahzel: “I guess we need bonesaws, even the bad ones.” Hanan: “So what are we waiting for again?” BASHAR distant shot of a lone figure walking in the desert, the figure is obscured by heat distorting the light. Close in on the figure it is a dry-rotted corpse. not terribly decayed. Loudspeaker: “There is no want of power in El to cast sinners into the mouth of Mot at any moment in time. The body falls to the ground and cracks in half. Loudspeaker: “They deserve to be cast into the pit so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against El's using his power at any moment to destroy them. A red slime is rising out of the husk of a body. Loudspeaker: “They are already under a sentence of condemnation to eternal torment. Next frame, inside a shelter. Flies are buzzing around a corpse is laying in the corner of a shanty house. Loudspeaker: “They are the objects of the wrath of El that is expressed in the crucible: why they don’t descend into the underworld, is not because El is not then very angry with them; as he is with many of those miserable creatures that he is now suffering in the flames, and do there feel and bear the fierceness of his judgment.” Aqat, the blood elemental is standing above it looking down at it with a blank affect. She is translucent red and some organs and large vessels can be seen inside her figure. Loudspeaker: “The accuser stands ready to fall upon them and seize them as his own, at what moment El shall permit him. She liquefies and seeps into the cadaver. Loudspeaker: “There are in the souls of wicked men those decadent principles reigning, that would presently belch out abominations, if it were not for El's restraints. The body opens its eyes. Loudspeaker: “It is no security to the vile for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand.” It sits up looking at its self, Loudspeaker: “Prudence and care to preserve their own, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment” looking at its hands. Loudspeaker: “El has laid himself under no obligation by any promise to keep anyone out of condemnation one moment.” It is sitting at a old rickety vanity staring in the mirror. Loudspeaker: “The evil doer’s pains and contrivance they use to escape damnation, while they continue to reject the anointed one and so remain the putrid, lost to ruin.” She starts putting thick make-up on the rotted flesh. Her appearance is even more obscene with the heavy rogue and powder. Aqat: “It’s time to go to court.” Loudspeaker: “Let us pray.” THE FACTION ATTACKS NIN’EVA Camels and goats without any skin are howling. Bashar is floating on the surface of the red water. The charred silohette of Aqat is moving. The bricks of the wall that bear her image spring out of the wall in to a pile. The rubble and debris build up like a fountain into the form of a body. The stone crumbles away to reveal Aqat. she grits her teeth, the wind blows sand and dust out of her mouth. She clenches her fist. Rocks and trash rise up to form a gauntlet around her hand. THE DISCIPLES RELAX Esh’la’s disciples are hanging out, waiting for dark. Flying Fox and Rahzel are playing cards. Hanan: “this is the last game, we should be getting orders from Esh’la any time now. Rahzel: OK, this next round, I win…you tell me your real name. Flying Fox: Flying Fox, that’s my real name. SANGOMA ON HER WAY TO THE COURT OF JUDGES There are 42 different tribes, all with their own traditions and creeds. In Kayn City there are clusters of ethnic Kayn, they are the old money. They believe that you may do whatever the law does not strictly prohibit, Shun has a lot of sway with that lot. You’ll have the most face time with the nationalists policy is their orthodoxy, they start lining up at the courts before dawn. The theocrats congregate around the schools, newsstands and taverns, naturally. Their code is all about interpreting precedent and context. Those are Xrqeth’s people. Just about everywhere you look you’ll see pilgrims that have adapted our culture, but they are mostly around the markets. They do as the mob rules. And then, somewhere out there, are the mystics, militants and isolationists. They range from zealous to xenophobic and believe that you may only do what that law explicitly permits. That’s where Esh’la lives. CHOSHEKH Aqat: “Do you think that people are basically good or basically evil. Choshekh: “That depends.” Aqat: “On what?” Choshekh: “How sheltered you are.” Aqat: “The other day you said that nothing is inherently evil, does that mean people too? Choshekh: “I don’t know, maybe some people.” Aqat: “I think there is evil in the world that is… sentient, self aware.” Choshekh: “When I was a child I saw something. Not saw…felt. It was a cold night. I was in the low hills looking at the fireflies and suddenly I had a sense that there was something malevolent watching me… getting closer. I stared into the night and I saw a darkness that was beyond darkness. It was like an emptiness in space that had…presence. I was petrified with fear, I could feel my heart beating in my throat, everything inside me told me to run. But, my curiosity got the better of me.” Aqat: “What happened?” Choshekh: “It overcame me.” Aqat: “…” graphitti in the background reads: “…and if the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.” Bashar: “Let’s go. It’s time to get Ugrit” THE DISCIPLES RELAX Rahzel: “HA! I win, cough it up! poonjab!” Flying Fox: “I never agreed to anything!” Rahzel: “What’d you think we were playing for? MISHA!!! Spill it!” Zoom in on Misha’s grinning face. Misha: “Hardwood Fang-boner!” Laughter erupts. Even low gurgly laugh from Azar can be heard from inside his box. “Hur hur hur.” Flying Fox: Fortress of lies!!! (shouts something corny) Flying Fox throws a mace at Misha, it passes right through what is really an illusory projection of her. Unsatisfied, FLYING FOX turns to Rahzel and starts punching him. Rahzel is still laughing between pitiful ouchy sounds. Flying Fox: “It’s Harwud, HAR-wud!!! It means virtue in my tribal tongue you ignorant asses!” Flying Fox turns to the door. Flying Fox: “Real mature, Misha. Hey, anyone know what she looks like when she’s not projecting the goon face?” (everyone stops laughing and turns, MISHA gets a nervous look on her face). Hanan: “what?...what are you talking about?” Flying Fox storms out. There is awkward silence. Misha has an unconvincing annoyed look on her face. Misha: “Uhm…no…this is what I look like.” SANGOMA ON HER WAY TO THE COURT OF JUDGES One neighborhood fights against another because of resentments over bride prices or where the wind blows the trash. But these neighbors will come together if one of them is threatened by another tribe. Because the tribal feuds over the rights to a well or the damning of a creek are bigger and neighborhood grudges. However, any two tribes would happily align over any dispute with Kayn proper because of the favoritism that is granted to citizens of the royal city. And no matter how much mutual hatred there is between a toothless brick baker in Shomron and a merchant in Kayn City, they will always share a deeper bond over their hate for anyone or any thing Persicaän. AQAT Ugrit: “Do you want to talk about it?” Aqat: “What is there to talk about?” Ugrit: “Our mission…the emotional toll…” Aqat: “there is no emotional toll, there is just the mission.” Ugrit: “There is supposed to be an emotional toll, that is what is appropriate. If there isn’t then it means that something is not right.” Aqat: “If I let myself feel things then I won’t be able to come back from it. I have to kill it. It’s not enough to be hard on the outside, we have to be hard on the inside, that’s the only way we can perform.” Ugrit: “…” Aqat: “…” Ugrit: “Aqat, have you ever thought about what you will do when this is all over?” Aqat: “…” THE DISCIPLES RELAX The crew is just waking up after a sleeping during the daylight. Flying Fox is a little out of it, picks up a bowl full of bugs, he drops it and freaks out. “OH MOT!!!, Esh’la left her food out!!!” Rahzel is groggy and walking towards the water closet. Rahzel opens the door, Misha is on the toilet. She is not projecting her goon face. She is a dumpy looking teenager. Misha screams, Rahzel screams. Misha: “GET OUT!!!” Rahzel: UHGUAHH!!! Misha: “GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!!!” Rahzel: Gah…your real face is uglier than the goon” Misha: “SHUT THE DOOR!!!” Rahzel: “Geez, keep your goon face on, I’m shutting it!!!” Misha: (from behind a shut door) “chub-hole!...keep your…chub-face out of…KNOCK FIRST!!!” suddenly Hanan slams the bathroom door open Hanan, “GEAR UP, WE’RE GOING TO SUSA!” THE COURTS OF KAYN What is she doing here? I’d rather sit with representatives from the Midlands than your pig eating face. It’s about the affiliations with a certain ‘Cult’ of a certain ‘Black Flame’ What’s it to you? They kill those that have excluded the ways of El. Yes and heard them right into everyone else’s villages, stirred up madder than piss. They bring trouble from Persicaä, Nin’eva, AND Susa, what’s next? They are right, out treaties are ignored and our protesting goes unheard. They have just as much right as anyone else here. When all else fails, YES, we use violence. The Faction of Four bring more trouble than solutions. Are the Tribe of Ishmael Kayn? Violence is the only thing the foreigners respond to. We have a high priest from Lakroa and you are concerned about one seat for an Outlander? I would remind this court that four of our tribe stood against Nin’eva when they violated our lands with their tests. The same four entered Nin’eva and returned their bomb with a message that was not ignored. We laid wrath upon their mightiest; Gol Balmu, Nisrokh, Zyrukahn and Atra’Pazu. Holding the standard of Kayn we shamed the dogs for their trespass. conflicted whispers They’re Kayn, you don’t have to like them or agree with them. Please have a seat. “I will speak my business and be on my way. The Sushans have one of our countrymen. We will reclaim our man. We object, the Faction of Four mustn’t be allowed to further provoke the tensions with Susa. Shushanese peace is Kayin submission. QUIET!, the court agrees. A delicate situation require a more elegant response than what the Tribe of Ishmael can provide. The Judges will select their own extraction team. Let the court be of one resolve on the matter. You misunderstand, the Faction wasn’t asking permission. chaos erupts. This court is a group of sheep that think they are shepherds And you think shepherding is a matter of moral policing Your rules require no faith, only tradition, conformity and oppression. We don’t fear you, we fear the will of El alone. You don’t fear sinning against El, you fear sin itself, and it has crippled your mission. THE UGRIT CHASE Misha is in the van sitting in a pentacle of stealth. Ugrit is sitting, tied up with rope, with his hands bound behind his back. Rahzel is staring at Ugrit Ugrit is staring back. Rahzel has a look of disgust. Ugrit: “FUCK YOU! Your not the judge of me!” CRASH!!! The van hits a dodo bird, the pentacle is obscured and the Sushan’s are alerted. The Disciples? Who cares, they’re just humans with guns. NO, there is something going on, they are hidden from the eyes of the Ark, I can’t see them. Big chase scene. A’tahn, Ninurta, Shinza, & Dimmekur. Rahzel shoots a mortar at A’tahn. Hanan casually loads another rocket. Rahzel shoots Ninurta, there is an explosion of mustard yellow dust. Ninurta falls to the ground shrieking, “It’s SULFUR, I AM RENT APART’ Shinza: What do you want me to do? Ninurta: WASH IT OFF! Shinza: I’ll go get some water. Ninurta: NO! NO WATER! Shinza looks puzzled and then squats over Ninurta. Rear shot, Shinza is pissing of Ninurta. Ninurta: That’s enough! Ninurta holds her hooked fingers over Shinza’s face: GO! Shinza teleports on to the back of the van. A’tahn directs his people to fly low. The DOE are deadpan and silent while loading weapons in the windy and shaking van. Shinza rips the back doors off of the van. Without any drama Rahzel cuts Shinza’s hand off with a machete. Shinza still holds on with one hand. Ugrit gives Shinza and explosive back-turn sidekick. Hanan kicks Azar’s coffin out of the van at Shinza. Azar bursts out and begins a cat fight with Shinza. Flying Fox shoots Dimmekur with sulfur rounds from his shoot gun. Misha tries to stop Ninurta “By the ring of Sulayman grant us access and bind this witch. By the seal of Aandaleeb I call your secret name, Asmodeus, and counter your authority. I command Uzza and Azzael of the Dark Mountain to be our sentries and subdue the demon king.” THE CULTS STEALS UGRIT FROM THE DISCIPLES Choshehk fights Dimmekur. Aqat fights Shinza. DAHUD, ESH’LA & XRQETH STOP THE SHUSHANS FROM ENTERING KAYN Xrqeth: May I ask his royal highness what he is doing in our lands? A’than: Just chasing one of your rabble out of Sushan territory, who knows what diseases he carries with his fleas and lice. Esh’la: Diseases? That’s rich coming from a Sussy. Dahud looks at Esh’la with a deadpan expression. A’tahn grits his teeth and flies away. Dahud to Esh’la: Was that really necessary? PART 2: THE POLITICS OF DANCING Insurance “Life is fragile.” A Bearilla is holding its baby, rubbing their faces together. The male is just beyond them. “There are no guarantees.” the baby has big anime eyes and is tugging on the jowls of the tolerant mother. “You never know when some dumb ass cock swinger is going to come along…” The babies head is in the cross hairs of a scope “and destroy your whole world and crush your heart.” there is an explosion “It is times like these when it pays to trust in a power greater than yourself.” nothing but a smoldering crater is left “This is what the protection of Al’Ishkandar Insurance & Security has to offer.” The father Bearilla is going berzerk Kharnov: “Peace for our clients and fear those that would threaten them.” An old fat man is holding a bazooka and looking at a potential client being treated to a company safari, wined and dined under the shade of a parasol. Tijan is on a horse next to them a says insincerely, “Excellent shot sir.” There is a younger man on the ground is hollering like he just won the Indy 500 and making a face like he just had an orgams, “YEE-OW!!! Dija see those dumb-ass Bookies ‘splode? Damn, that was great!!!” Kharnov: “Go on boy, go fetch me a trophy. There’s a lesson for you Tijan, if you want to drop the 500-pound Bearilla, you strike from a distance with something that you know will get the job done and then you get someone else to pick up the pieces.” Close up on Tijan’s face, he hates this man. TIJAN AND WIFE (no name yet) A Persican couple. Tijan is standing in front of a mirror with his wife. He is grinning like a child admiring his new uniform. Wife, you look so good in this uniform. Look at this badge! Tijan, Don't get used to it. Wife looks at him concerned. Tijan smiles, one day it will be our family crest on that plate. Wife, oh, so they are just giving away command posts now? Tijan turns to his wife, This is it babe, now that I'm an officer we'll be able to get a joining license no problem. Wife, you are going to do great. And In no time at all we'll have our own home. Tijan, I know it's been tough, scraping by for the last few years. But if we can just hold on for a little while longer...I think we can get a child permit. Smiles exchange. YOUNG TIJAN Another Zig-freak killed his manager, it’s always the same. They should chain them all together and sink them in Meranti-ville. Or sell em to the stadiums. No way, the stadiums are scar on the face of Persicaa. Ya know, they aren’t so different from us, the Z-freaks I mean. If we were in their situation, we would be acting in the exact same way. I would never kill someone over a promotion, it doesn’t matter how desperate the situation got. So you’re saying you’ve gotten to where you are by honest means? I haven’t compromised my values to get ahead. Sure. It’s all about how you talk to people, reciprocation, and timing. Call it what you want, it looks rotten from the trenches. You can call me a leach, but my people always have everything they need. Is that what you tell yourself so that you can sleep at night. It’s just a game, try not to take it personally. SHIT JOB Chairman Khelar is talking to Tijan Tijan, but sir, I'm already at my limits for core exposure this week. Khelar, Ya know son, we gave you the bronze because we saw in you the qualities of a man that rises to the occasion, to meet a challenge damn the consequences. Now take a guy like Astygenese, when the D-Blok started to flood he didn't hesitate to rush in there and save his men. And when the containment doors sealed do you know what he did? He walked right through the walls carrying his men on his back. Tijan, Sir, with all due respect, Captain Astygenes chose to sacrifice himself, he was lucky that it didn't end up as a suicide mission. Khelar, ...We all know that most die from over exposure and the ones that don't are messed up so bad that they either do themselves or run off to Kreas. But I think that for those few...the gods saw something rare, special and blessed them...beyond all other mortals. I thought there was something special about you… Cut scene Tijan enters his office, his aid is seated reading a paper. Assistant, "Hey listen to this latest report. It says here that the Nivians are suffering from something called "learned victimization." Tijan, “Why are you reading that crap, PNN media is just a bunch of council propaganda.” Assistant, “Okay, maybe they just make this stuff up, but it’s more infotaining than listening to you mumble on about farms and babies. Can we talk about something that I’m interested in for once.” Tijan slumps down in his chair, looks at the ceiling and with a sigh says, “… go on.” Assistant grins again and shakes the paper, “The Ministry of Education says that, ‘they are exploited by degrees throughout their lifetime and that by the time they are adults they are so dehumanized that they will do anything that they are told, submitting themselves to even the most debase treatment.’ Thank the gods we live in Persicaä.” Birds-eye-view of Tijan draped over his chair staring up, “Yea, that would never happen here.” THE SUSHA/PERSICA KONSPIRACY Ziu’sustra and Chairman Khelar meet. It is the middle of the night in a dark back lot two ornate sedans flash their lights at each other and slowly roll side by side. There are armed soldiers around every corner and high place. Tijan is standing on the street smoking a cigarette. Shinza of Susa is standing on an opposite corner staring at Tijan like a hungry dog. Tijan shakes his head. The passenger windows roll down. No faces are seen, only black silhouettes. One figure raises a cigarette on an long holder, and arm reaches out of the vehicles and lights the cigarette with a fancy butane lighter. The smoking man is slightly illuminated revealing some kind of uniform and a handlebar mustache. The extended arm goes back into the sedan, and the man shuts the lighter before briefly illuminating an Asian face and 1930’s British suit. Khelar takes a deep drag, pauses, exhales, and watches the smoke for a moment: The Meranti… Ziu’Sustra talks with half closed eyes and slightly through his teeth. He always looks like he’s looking down when he talks to you. His speech is sharply annunciated but has an unusual rhythm, almost like he is reading a script with no periods: Sushan spies have been placed in the ruins of the coast cities since the first day of the attack. After a thorough investigation we have concluded that the coastal attacks were merely an assessment of human combat efficiency and that these attacks are but a prelude to a campaign for the complete conquest of the known world. The Meranti threat affects all nations. Khelar: … Ziu’Sustra: However, we have been able to conduct our own assessment of Meranti combat efficiency. Extensive intelligence has been collected on Meranti weaponry and warfare. Khelar: And what will this information cost? Ziu’Sustra: Nothing. Susa is willing to take care of this problem for the world. (Khelar turns his head slightly and raises his brow) We have run several simulations and are confident that we can eliminate the Meranti threat with a pre-emptive strike. We can take our ziggurat right over their heads and destroy their main defenses. The Sushan lieutenants will engage the entire Meranti army and cover The lord A’tahn as he advances into the heart of their Empire where he will burn them out, all of them. But there is one problem. We cannot take our ziggurat into Kayin space, they would not understand our initiative and interpret our movements as an act of war. Khelar in an angry tone: The coast cities were very good clients to Persica. They were armed with the most advanced Persican military hardware. The Meranti wiped out three heavily fortified cities in a little more than 9 hours. Now you are telling me that you can defeat the Meranti, but you can’t handle a few fig farmers? Ziu’Sustra: They didn’t have Persicaa’s most advanced weapons, you sold them your discontinued systems that were collecting dust. But to answer your question, yes, we could eliminate them quite easily, but the Kayns were the first to provide relief to the costal cities. They have gained quite a lot of sympathy with the other empires. Aegys and Lakroa would most certainly come to their aid, as well as the remnants of the costal cities. It is likely that in this situation we would loose the element of surprise with the Meranti. After factoring in the projected losses of engaging Aegys and Lakroa, Susha could not guarantee a victory against the Meranti. Khelar: So what are you asking? You want Persica to destroy Kayn? Ziu’Sustra: The destruction of Kayn has already begun, all we ask is that you allow it to happen. Khelar: … Ziu’Sustra: Kayn maintains a very delicate social chemistry. Nothing destabilizes a people like internal division and strife. Too little harvests and too many guns; bad press for their leadership and too much press for the dissidents… Khelar: Persicaä has no interest in Kayn. Ziu’Sustra: Forgive me, but isn’t Persicaä holding a Kayin terrorist? Khelar: We have apprehended a very dangerous criminal. Ziu’Sustra: Your investigators have no doubt found that this dangerous criminal had in his possession advanced weaponry, military meds and rations… Khelar: That is correct Ziu’Sustra: They will assume that the contraband was stolen from Persicaan supply trucks. They will ask your dangerous criminal who has been supplying him. We don’t want those questions asked. Khelar: This is a very serious request you are making. Ziu’Sustra: Susha may or may not be responsible for his activity and we regret that these affairs have spilled into your borders. But, you should be warned, the Kayns are notoriously possessive… and private about their affairs, even their criminals. It won’t be long before the Kayin Champions come calling to collect your little bomber. The Kayns won’t bring a bounty, they won’t negotiate, and they never compromise. There is no profit in bringing this one to justice. Khelar: If you expect me to just hand this man over to you then you mistake us for the Imperialists, this is the New Persica. We are not politicians, we are business men. Let us speak of business. You say there is no profit in trying this terrorist, perhaps there is profit in a prisoner transfer? Ziu’Sustra smiles and takes a drag of his cigarette. Tilting his head he exhales smoke as he talks: What can we do for you? THE TRIALS OF LIFE Tijan,'s just this one weekend. Wife, I can understand a memorial service, but it's not just this one weekend, it's leaving at dawn and not getting back until night and sometimes the next day, missions that you can't tell me about that go on for weeks...all the time I'm wondering when I'm going to be one of those widows watching a casket go by. Tijan, We knew it would be hard at first, I got us the house didn't I? Wife, "What's the point?" Tijan... Wife, We never see each other anymore, and when we do you are too tired. Tijan, I have very important responsibilities. Wife, More important than us? Tijan, I love you, but there are a million other wives that depend on me for their husbands to come home. COMPROMISES Tijan is with Khelar parked at an estate on the eastern plains. There are some soldiers standing as a barrier between them and a family and a barking dog. background, "...with Kreasian extremists, this domain is being re-zoned for a military-" Soldier approaches Tijan, "Sir, the papers say that he is a ACP Lord." Man, "my family has done service, we've been here for three generations." Khelar, "Well that's a damn shame. I wonder which one of your ancestors thought it would be okay to plant roots on a future base camp?" Tijan, "Sir, won't this get back to the council?" Back ground, " security threats in the Eastlands." (barking) Khelar, "Sure, tell him while he's making his report to remind Chairman Khaldash who has controlling interest in the counsel. By the gods, shut that damn dog up." Soldier, "Commander Tijan, shall the survey team take quarters?" Tijan, "Stand by soldier." Khelar, "...I'm feeling generous, give'em a week. But, I want construction of my pool to begin immediately. (back ground noise, BANG) That's better. You there, woman, go and fetch us something to drink." Tijan trying not to look at the old man on his knees holding a dead dog. Khelar, "You see Tijan, where resources are scarce there is conflict In every conflict there is collateral damage. Thankfully we are a civilized people with systems to minimize losses for the innocent. It’s all about the system Tijan, without it, it all turns to chaos. Tijan: I think I understand sir. Khelar: Now, Let's have a look at those servants." TIJAN GETS THE SHAFT (Don’t get too attached. Tijan is smart. How long do you think it will be before he figures out about our deal with Nin’eva? And he will figure it out) Tijan: With all due respect, I have trained specialists for these kind of insertions. We’re looking at the possibility of losing a lot of good men. Kharnov: That’s why I want you to handle this personally. If you want a job done right, you gotta do it yourself. Tijan: Certainly one of the heavy gun-wagons would be more effective. Kharnov: I’m sorry, currently all units are tied up with VIP escorts or a cargo transport. You know how morale gets when the troops don’t have their poke. Tijan: Sir, for me to lead from the from the front is highly inappropriate. Kharnov: I suppose it is inappropriate for a decorated senior officer to be going out on the front lines, much like going over a superior to talk to ministers of the Coalition, very embarrassing. But, I guess when we want something bad enough the proper protocols become trivial. Isn’t that right? Kharnov: Now if I were the kind of superior that felt strongly about chain of command, I might do something inappropriate to make a point. Tijan: … Kharnov: You are dismissed Commander. Indar Indar puts his hand on Tijan’s shoulder and leans in, “Be careful with that one.” Tijan makes a condescending face, “I know how to handle a company assassin.” Indar, “No, I mean that one in particular.” Tijan, “Are you serious? Agent V is just-” Indar, “Old lions are unpredictable.” Tijan, “She’ll be the first assassin to make it to retirement, so what.” Indar, “She wants out and is making a play for power. It’s going to be just the two of you out there, don’t get caught with the short straw.” Indar walks away Tijan has a pensive look on his face. LIFE EVALUATION Tijan talking to his wife. Wife, Let's leave this life. Tijan, and go where? The flats?, never knowing when the next raid come to our door? Wife, Kreas, one of the ports cities. Tijan, We don't even have the money to load a transport. Wife, sigh Tijan, what? Wife, How are you a commander? You're already defeated before we even know what we want. Tijan says nothing. Wife, "Are all of our dreams dead? Have we given up?" She looks at a framed accommodation hanging on the wall, 'Titan of Persica, Heart and Character that towers above all else.' "What happened?" THE KILLER Kharnov: Thank you for arranging this meeting. Are you sure no one else knows about this, none of the other Ministers? Tijan: “I have take every precaution. I assure you we are invisible to the world.” Kharnov: As I told you in my first message I have confirmed that the Ministers of the Coalition are being targeted for assassination. Some of us suspected that one of the Ministers was trying to take over the coalition. Tijan: Yes, the case you are assembling is quite alarming. Kharnov: It is worse that I told you. I now think that this is the work of more than one person. Khitta was the only one with the assassins that could pull of these kind of high profile hits, but it would have taken one of Kutri’s people to rewrite the surveillance, and the hardware had to have come from one of Khelar’s manufacturers. Kharnov: The coalition approached Indar about investigating the murders…he was killed the same day. Tijan: Indar was killed in action…by the enemy. Kharnov: No, it’s too much of a coincidence. How many times has he gone into action. He never took unnecessary risks, not with the mission, not with his men, not with himself. Tijan: “I cataloged Indar’s armor myself. There was evidence of some tampering. It had to be someone with Persicaän intel, the armor was rigged to send an echo self-destruct command. I still can’t figure that one out, anyone with that level of programming capability would know that it would have been an inefficient sabotage.” Kharnov: “What I am suggesting goes beyond mere sabotage.” Tijan: “Are you trying to tell me that a Nivian soldier was supplied with the Indar files and acted on behalf of a Persicaän Minister?” Kharnov: “It wouldn’t have been the first time the coalition made a deal with the Nivians. During the uprising we approached Nin’eva to give us an advantage against the Emperor. But when it came time to pay, the coalition severed all contact with the Nivians.” Tijan: “If the coalition betrayed Nin’eva, why would they ever deal with one of you again?” Kharnov: The answer to that question is what scares me the most. Tijan: Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, I know who the killer is and his motivation and he’s not a Nivian. Kharnov: “And the bad news…” Tijan looks at him: “As I said, invisible to the world.” Kharnov has a look of shock and terror: “Oh my God!” Tijan calmly puts on a glove Black panel.