The First Age

Full Version: Dissonance or harmony
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Evening, while others were going to dinner, the Ascendancy rearranged his schedule to accommodate an extra event in his schedule.

He was currently accompanied by two Barrier Preator agents, following close like the shade of death. Dark-haired Budek Sobol touched the sleeve of his suit and transferred information to his German companion, a blonde, younger man. Alric integrated the update without missing a pace, and together the two surveyed the terrain like lions were waiting on the rocks ahead.

Nikolai's appearance was perfect, as he allowed himself nothing less. His facial hair was perfectly groomed, but the hair on the back of his neck bothered him. His regular haircut was scheduled for tomorrow. The Arcus Band gleamed laser-sharp as the points curled around his temples.

Thoughts of his schedule, that tonight was meant to prepare for tomorrow's meeting with his Export Council, and of his haircut, soon gave way to the task at hand.

This would be Marcus's introduction to the burden of being the first among gods, as the Ascendancy was, obviously. Nikolai guessed how the young man would react, it was not a difficult extrapolation. Arrogance was an easy trait to predict. Michael, on the other hand, was the bigger enigma. Nikolai hadn't expected to see him in that mountain-village and he hadn't expected to work so smoothly alongside him either. His reaction to the Facility could swing dissonance or sweep harmony, but in the end, Nikolai didn't care. Michael was a device to be used like the rest of them. He happened to be a very powerful one, but still only a tool.

The last week had seen Marcus busy with his work, both public and private. The Consulate of Communication was a whirlwind of activity now that the plan for DV had been approved by Ascendancy. He found himself fascinated with the myriad actions and strategies being followed to remake an entire culture. Of late, he had been working with Anatoly Yushakov, Director of Media Affairs. Watching was more like it, fascinated at the way the man shifted effortlessly between the seemingly frivolous and insubstantial to the most serious of religious ideologies and cultural norms. Whatever else he could say, these people knew what they were doing. From time to time, he and Elouera discussed via email or chat what was going on. The power here was immense and yet subtle, all the more so for being utterly invisible to most people.

When not at the Consulate, he was either at the gym or engrossed in his newest mystery. The sword of the woman drew him as nothing ever had in a long while. It was an enigma and he struggled to understand how it was possible and what it meant- and how it could be used. Not the weapon itself, of course. However deadly it might be in a melee fight, it didn't compare to the Force. Not even to a gun, really. But what it represented or hinted at, that, that was the real mystery.

He methodically probed at it step by step with various threads of the power and dutifully recorded the results in his journals. But his equations became convoluted and more than once he had to throw them away and start again. However this worked, it had to be elegant and clean, evincing the beauty and symmetry that was the hallmark of all deep scientific mathematical truths. Euler's Identity was the standard and anything that did not match its elegant simplicity was not true enough. Order, harmony, structure- that was the universe he sought to live in, to help bring about.

From time to time as he worked, memories of that weekend with the Butcher came to him and he smiled to himself. That had been a work of elegance and symmetry. It was justice and he had enjoyed it immensely. He felt a sense of peace and tranquility wash over him. Being a god of justice had reinforced how far he had ascended. It brought him a sense of purpose.

This day, he dressed- a simple dark maroon suit with a black shirt and gold checked tie, his purple Sigma pin on his lapel- in an unhurried manner as he made sure to have plenty of time. Ascendancy had summoned him to the Facility- a place that was only spoken about in hushed tones, more rumors and whispers than anything else. He was curious to what the day held. Given his interactions with the man before he knew it would be interesting to say the least. He was not, by nature, humble. But he knew when it was time to bend the neck. This was one of those times. Still, he doubted Ascendancy had an interest in sycophants and yes-men, all signs of weakness. Marcus himself despised that trait.

Bend the neck he would, but not at the price of his own identity. But he doubted there would be any discord. He and Ascendancy both wanted the same thing above all- an abolishing of the chaos and disharmony that threatened their world. The universe was, as theoretical physicist Max Tegmark had so clearly explained, a mathematical structure. It wasn't "described" by mathematics. It was mathematical. That being the case, their world was a tangled mess of equations and variables and operators. It needed order. Simple as that. Order and harmony. Marcus was glad to be working with a man who wanted the same thing. He wasn't too arrogant to recognize what it meant that Ascendancy had done in reality what he had only planned on doing. He had come here to learn, after all.

Once Marcus was finished, he wasted no time traveling to the entrance if the Facility closest to the Kremlin. He was not surprised to find that it looked like it had originally been a bunker of some sort from the last century, though it had been dressed up in the latest technologies. He entered the building and gave the guard personnel his name and ID. "Be seated, Sigma DuBois. We have word the Ascendancy will be here shortly." Marcus gave the man a slight smile and sat down to wait. As he did, his gaze ran over the massive glass display and computer in front of him. It made him curious as to what went on here.


Edited by Marcus DuBois, Dec 14 2014, 09:02 PM.
Michael had no time for anything other than the draped blacks of warmth along with freshly starched military uniform. Today his mind was singular, ignoring any distraction as he passed through the Kremlin.

The directions had been simple. The Facility sat metres below the Kremlin in an old Soviet bunker. It sounded like a clich├ęd madman's lab, but it was an appropriate place considering its patients.

Within the hour, he had arrived at the entrance, such as it was for a jumped up Soviet bunker. Two men waited outside, one stepping forward to meet him. Michael produced his I.D before any unnecessary distractions arose. After a brief perusal, the guard gave a brief salute of acknowledgement. "The Ascendancy be here shortly."

After his meeting with Dr. Weston, the iron curtain fell once more across his face. She was one of the few that had earned such trust. The same could not be said of the Ascendancy, and he would not show any weakness here of all places.

His head swung to the other man and it came as a surprise to see a recognizable face. He gave a short nod to the man. "Sigma Marcus,"
before turning to the same glass interface the man had been studying.

It seemed as if his assumption about the man was correct. What Nikolai sought to achieve bringing him here after his reckless game, he had no idea, but that was not his problem. Not yet, at least. If Nikolai wanted to play with fire, it was his own affair.
He heard voices through the glass but didn't look up. He was looking at the glass trying to decipher what he was . He thought about getting his wallet out and looking some stuff up but he thought better of it. This was a secure facility. Very likely, they'd confiscate wallets anyway. So he contented himself with sitting there, letting his mind drift.

The door behind him slid open and a man walked in. Marcus recognized him immediately and smiled to himself. "Commander Velles."
Aside from those brief words at the Christmas party, they'd had no other interaction.

Still, Marcus thought he had an idea of what was going on now. The Force, obviously. Specifically what about it, he had no clue. The rumors of this place ran the gamut.

Thinking of the Force made his mind return to the puzzle at hand, the sword. It felt like he was bashing his head against the wall. He was getting nowhere. He needed a different angle. Away from paper and pencil and equations, all he could do was just bounce ideas around in his head. What was interesting was the way the metal had somehow been attuned to the Force. More than that, the metal had been strengthened in some way. He'd tried to nick it or bend it or do something physically to it but it resisted all efforts.

Swords were not common weapons nowadays. The fact that someone would imbue a melee weapon with such characteristics meant it was no ornamental thing. It was made for use. That meant great age. He would have to ask the woman where she'd gotten it from. It hinted at ancient things.

He wondered if one could do the same thing to other materials like ceramics or plastics. Not that he would try. Metals seemed ideal, being relatively simple. The logical thing to do would be to experiment on a normal piece of steel and compare and contrast with the sword.

Now that he had a new plan of attack, he let his mind drift. There was really nothing more he could do about it, not here anyway. The room was mostly quiet though the feel of the air was different. It was noticeable now. Low pressure. A memory clicked, something about buildings with low pressures. Something about hospitals. It gave him another hint as to what went on here.

Well, he'd know soon enough.
Security at the access point fell under the pervue of the Kremlin police. The men doing that very job were alert and unphased by the seemingly impressive individuals to have joined their company. Several minutes after Michael arrived, two exchanged looks just as the door slid open.

Nikolai crossed the threshold ahead of his Preator agents. He paused to greet his guests.

"Michael. Marcus."
He looked to each. "I trust you remember one another."
They had shared a table at the Christmas feast, after all. Of course, after Marcus' stunt with the flash of power, he fully placed himself on Michael's radar. Conversely, Marcus might have little interest in Michael Vellas but for the display in Mecca. Marcus likely guessed at Michael's true nature, and if he didn't, he would soon enough.

"Thank you for being here,"
an unnecessary greeting, but wide swaths of people always spoke to finding comfort in Nikolai's presence: like greeting a stern, but beloved grandfather.

"If you will follow me,"
a gesture and security unlocked the entrance to a sleek vault, thereby disabling the impressive array of measures monitoring traffic in and out.

The group of them filed into the elevator. While almost every aspect of the Facility was upgraded, their elevator would descend at the normal pace. There was time to explain.

"You will never have access to the Facility without me present. Therefore, do not attempt to enter. My orders, permission, or word will not work. Either you have the appropriate security credentials - and you would know if you had them and neither of you do - or we go together."


He heard the chip site hurt for days after implantation.

The elevator was not fast, but the descent was smooth as silk. The graphic on the panel indicated their position relevant to the surface and the Facility, but there was no indication of the distance of their depths. Yet Nikolai did not need one. He grew bolder by the moment; and power called. And he knew he was all that much nearer the center of the earth. His home.


His voice could tense steel for all the promise of strengths revealed. "Any questions?"
Nikolai arrived on time as punctual as his reputation. He wore his headband as usual, for all the good it did. Perhaps it was more than a simple trinket. A camera? Emergency locator? Or perhaps it served as a distraction from a more potent defence.

Greeted like he actually had a choice or Nikolai was really pleased to be giving him a tour of his top secret 'Facility'. Was it some charade for the sake of Marcus? It certainly wasn't for Michael's sake. Whatever the case was, he nodded. "Of course."


Whatever Marcus said was lost to him as Nikolai bade them to follow into an out of place elevator almost sterile amidst a ruin. Five of them filtered in, and he could not hold back the sense of claustrophobia that emanated, not from the small space itself, but the raw power that lurked beneath the surface. Three men, two of whom could annihilate the elevator in seconds, held the power of Nikolai's 'Ascendants'. What did the guards feel? Did they suspect the danger they were in? If they did, they hid it well, as did Michael.

After the cursory evaluation, his attention was fixed on Nikolai who spoke as they descended. It made for a dour atmosphere that grated on his nerves. Nobody took a step inside the Kremlin without Nikolai's permission, he had expected no different from a facility secret even among the top tiers.

But perhaps he had a point, considering Marcus' display the last time they had crossed paths. The reflexive aggravation Nikolai caused dulled at that, and the annoyance was turned on himself. Why did the man annoy him so? He could not afford to let anything affect his judgement around this man more than any other, yet he was the only one that managed to get under his skin.

He embraced cold ice as his mask as much as he could without taking hold of the 'Ascendant' power. What questions could there be? His will was quite clear.

"Nothing as of yet,"
he replied, hoping the trip didn't take too long.

So, the Facility could only be accessed with Nikolai present. By the pleasant greeting they received, it seemed like some absurd 'Ascendant' secret meeting. Unpleasant indeed.

Damn... Again, Nikolai unknowingly brought out the worst in him.
Ascendancy arrive exactly at the time he'd stated. Marcus idly wondered if the man had waited outside until this moment or had just timed it perfectly. In the end it didn't matter except for the impression it gave. Clearly, time meant something. A memory floated up, a quote from Malcolm X. You won't find anybody more time-conscious than I am. I live by my watch, keeping appointments. Even when I'm using my car, I drive by my watch, not my speedometer. Time is more important to me than distance. Evidently, every second counted to Ascendancy too, it seemed.

They filed into the elevator, Ascendancy flanked by his two guards. Marcus recognized them from that night at the Christmas party, outside his apartment. He smiled at the memory. In hindsight, it was perfectly clear that his little stunt had really been about getting Ascendancy's attention and revealing himself to him. It had been, perhaps, foolish, but it had accomplished its purpose. That he was in this elevator with the man in a facility who's exclusive access Ascendancy was just now making clear was proof of that. He nodded at the warning, all the more curious as to what went on down here. Perhaps a Force training program or something? Marcus was always interested in learning more, taking the things he picked up and analyzing them for deeper applications, as he had with Vellas' spirit weaves, for example.

He glanced over at the man and from the set of his jaw and clipped words, he could tell the man was irritated. At what, he had no clue. Perhaps he disliked being underground. Ascendancy, on the other hand, seemed...more relaxed. He still stood at attention and exuded control, but there was something in his posture that said he liked it down here. Marcus had no particular inclination either way.

"Any questions?"
Ascendancy finished. Marcus suspected that the question was rhetorical. Any question he asked was going to be put off until they were shown why they were there anyway. That was the point of this trip, after all. He was content to wait.

"No, Ascendancy."
He glanced over at the taller of the two guards. Idly, he wondered if he could use the Force. It made sense.
The elevator came to a stop, and the doors slid apart. The hallway beyond was less like a hospital and more like a bunker. The walls were iron plates, the floor cement, but all were brightly lit. The recirculated air was clean, but smelled vaguely of sanitzer. Nikolai stoutly proceeded to a large glass column at the opposite end, its red glow drenched the walls a hellish paint while the sounds of his steps echoed in the metal tunnel.

"These facilities were constructed during the Cold War. The Kremlin could sustain a direct nuclear hit and those down here would be safe until the fallout recovered. When the structure was built, it was impregnable, but with our state-of-the art advances, is a self-sustaining island. Life on the moon would be less isolated. Thus, we are safe from the world above, and yet, they are safe from what harbors down here."


The column swirled to life, sensing Nikolai's hand as he waved his palm across the surface. The surface rippled and a map came into sharp focus. The layout of the Facility depicted three levels with a singular main corridor off which branched various rooms. "The upper level is for research."
He gestured at the various laboratory spaces. While he didn't point them out specifically, living quarters for the workers were also apparent. "The lower levels were once designed as weapons holds."


There was a glint in his eye when he turned toward Michael. "The weapons held now are likely not what the original architects had in mind, but they suffice."


Suddenly, a pulse of energy, like a burst bubble of power, snapped his attention sideways. It was over within a second, but there was doubting exactly what he felt. The glass column showed movement in the floor below, but Nikolai was not concerned.

"You two aren't the first of my ascendants to be placed in key positions of my government."


Glad for the elevator ride to be over, Michael stepped out into the iron-clad hallway. The red glow did nothing to endear him to the place, but it was Nikolai's words that interested him.

Whoever had designed the upgraded features had done an impressive job. The idea was ingenious, he had to admit, but the premise made his shoulders itch.

He withheld his full judgement for the moment but the dark storm in the back of his mind watched and remembered.

When Nikolai turned to him, the gleam in the man's eyes spoke volumes. Consequently the burst of power came as no surprise. Why Nikolai snapped to attention he could not say.

The revelation, if it was meant to be a grand surprise, did not hit its mark. Michael only nodded. He would expect nothing less from a man with Nikolai's influence.

It scratched at him like a hundred gnats, but he would have done the same thing. Trust power to too few and the allure of betrayal would prove too strong for some. The burden of power was not supposed to be a comfort. A commander should never be comfortable in using the power he wielded. Complacency bred mistakes.

"Impressive,"
he said, although his voice held no amazement or glowing praise. He acknowledged the competence but words were deceptive. He needed to see for himself. "I would like to see these weapons as soon as possible, they are of great interest to me."
Redundant speaking to Nikolai, but his assignment was not widely known. He would not be the one to let slip, even if Marcus already knew. "By your leave of course,"
he added. "Unless Sigma Marcus has any questions."
The elevator ride finally stopped and Ascendancy strode out boldly into the newly revealed room. The air smelled of some sort of cleansing agent and the place was spare, a glass column casting a reddish glow that reflected off the dull steel panels on the walls, creating a hell-like illusion.

It was not homey at all. And yet there was something in the way Ascendancy strode and spoke- something detectable in his voice- that spoke of contentment. This was his domain, more so than any above. The vast weight of the ceiling and however many hundreds or thousands of feet of concrete, earth and reinforced steel- and it had to be in the thousands, he thought, as Ascendancy spoke of this place's ability to survive a thermonuclear exchange at the height of the cold war- that vast weight could almost be felt. The air felt slightly...compressed, he decided.

Ascendancy brought up a map of the structure and began to describe its various levels, though somewhat obliquely. It didn't matter. In the distance, he could sense the burst of menace that indicated a man had used the Force. From the indicators on the screen, it looked as if others were responding.

Vellas wore his expression like a mask, though he responded to Ascendancy's words with the desire to see these weapons. He had an 'interest' in them. The logical conclusion clicked into place. Human weapons trained in the power. Commander Vellas. Jeddah. He smiled to himself, understanding the man's 'interest'.

He looked at Ascendancy. It was a difficult position to be in. People who wielded the powers they did could cause destruction on a scale never before seen. They were popping up everywhere and without any particular pattern. Pyotr, a lowly waiter, was a good example of that. Which reminded him. He needed to contact him again. Now that Ascendancy knew, he could be less circumspect about using him in his own research. There were a number of weaves he wanted to try with another Force user, but one that could not be a threat to him.

In any case, the options were either to eliminate all Force users who popped up- something that history had born out was always doomed to failure. Selective pressure would build to uncontrollable levels and finally explode- or too harness them. Ascendancy had chosen the latter course. His and Vellas' positions were proof of that. As was this Facility.

No, he had no questions at all. He looked at Vellas and merely shook his head, eager to see more of what happened here.
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