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Altar of the gods
#1
Collaborative post between Jaxen & Ascendancy to take place concurrent to Tantalizing & A simple job.


   
Scion Marveet, 
PPC


It was late when a call arrived. Only by the glow of video light did Scion watch the display, darkness alone concealing his horror. But before he could even think of response, the night-butler interrupted. Guests that invited themselves in: their mercy gave him two minutes to dress, but no matter his fate, Scion Marveet was not going to meet it in a bathrobe and slippers. He was escorted from his own home fully dressed, if a little haggard.

He wasn’t surprised when the red walls of the Kremlin blurred, but he wasn’t sure whether the walls were to be his final prison or a fortress of protection. He swallowed as they led him within. This was no celebratory parade; he was here because of Jaxen. It remained to be seen if he would walk out again.

Unlike the ball, the gilded palace was far away. These halls echoed empty footsteps as Scion was led to a part of the fortress he had not previously traversed. Finally, they arrived at a series of offices where he was thrust into one and told to wait. No wallet, nothing to soothe the angst of time’s passage, he paced and watched the door.

It finally opened, and despite all mental preparation, through it strolled a sight that rendered what remained of the color from his cheeks.

He tried to approach quickly, but a hand stopped him after a single step.
“Sir—” he tried to explain, but the edge to the Ascendancy’s sharp stare silenced him. It cut to the soul and he shivered.

The skidding of a chair on the floor made him jump.
“Take a seat, Scion,” Brandon’s kindness chilled. Scion scanned the faces of those watching. Were they to bear witness to his murder? Blood would wash from the vinyl floor easily enough. Scion killed men for lesser infractions. He finally eased himself onto a cold seat, but Brandon remained standing, hands behind his back.

The first thing he said was far from what Scion expected. “I ask myself, what is it you love most, Scion: your country or your family?”

Scion shook his head, “Both, Ascendancy, but I love my country above all else.”

“So that’s your answer: country? You’ve had many wives. You have many children. They are replaceable, but country is forever. Is that it?”

Scion’s frown etched crevices deep in the hollows of his cheeks. Brandon was one to talk. No connections, no roots. No family. Just a throne and darkness..  Ascendancy’s glance summoned someone with a video. Scion did not need to watch to know what it would contain. He looked down.

“You’ll watch it, Scion.” An invisible wedge lifted his chin. Scion complied, teeth ground tight, and beheld the video of the cabaret for a second time. Fury roiled his blood, but fear kept him frozen in place. His life was over because of that imbecile child. Everything he worked to attain, to provide for him! His own son!

“Your son is a channeler. I remember him at the ball, though I do not believe you were able to peddle him around as much as you hoped.” Ascendancy looked at the images, his expression absolutely unreadable as the face of his son shifted. “He’s very talented.” Scion’s breath caught in his throat.

“Now I must also ask myself, Scion. How someone who loves his country as dearly as you sired an offspring that loathes his country as much as this.” Ascendancy gestured.

Scion shook his head, jaw tight. He asked himself the same thing. “I have many children, Ascendancy.”

Something of surprise touched the Ascendancy’s expression.
“So quick to sacrifice your youngest are you? Hmm. That one was always something of a troublemaker, yes? I am told he was moved between schools as a child, eventually coming under the tutelage of private educators. A criminal record for minor offenses that somehow never blemished your gilded name. Eventually, you could take it no more and shipped him away to India. Never could quite bring yourself to truly punish the lad, could you? That surprises me, Scion. You do not seem the kind of man to be soft and forgiving.”

Irina’s face hovered before Scion like a ghost. Their child. Irina’s baby. He forced himself to say it, insinuation implied “I have many children…”

Scion was yanked to his feet, the chair falling away. He gasped, finding suddenly himself unable to move. His weight shifted. Feet no longer touching the ground.. A squeezing around the chest. But he didn’t squirm or fight. He would meet fate eye to eye, whatever it would be. Ascendancy moved close while another video pulled his eyes aside. This time, it was a live image. Jaxen in a chair, unaware as Prince Prospero roaming his ballrooms while a dark-haired woman, her face unseen, hovered near as the red death. She seemed to be waiting, and Scion finally understood.

“So you’ll sacrifice your youngest child as a gesture of your love at the altar of your country?”

Scion shook his head, “No,” he gasped, groveling, “For you, Ascendancy. Love for you. I am no traitor. I will do anything to prove it. Anything.” He swallowed. He’d beg if he had to. Irina’s baby…

Long moments passed. His breath came in shallow gulps. The whites of his eyes flared, flickering between Ascendancy and Jaxen. When finally Scion suddenly crumpled to his feet, a pang wrenching one knee in the fall. He ignored it.

“Your sacrifice is a poor symbol of devotion, Scion. I do not want your son’s blood. Offer me a greater lamb and I will entertain the idea of accepting the gift,” Ascendancy’s voice was cragged as stone, his expression eternal. Scion thought frantically…

Money, power, friends.. He had nothing to offer Ascendancy. A traitor offered up in his place? Scion’s plans for Valentin were not solidified. Too risky to accuse him yet. Vena’s skills were valuable, but not enough. What to offer the man who has everything in the world..?

Then the thought came to him.

There was only one substitute. It was a shadow of a plan, but one that might work. The timeline would need to be accelerated, but with the Custody’s resources greater than his own, the plot was doable. “I can offer you the one thing in the world you want most,” he stated with every last shred of confidence he had.

“And what is that?”

“I can give you the state of Texas.”

Ascendancy stared so fiercely that Scion almost felt himself unravel. The window cracked, he continued to wrench it open. “You don’t have to be a politician to know the state wants to break from the nation. The port of Houston will become mine—ours – yours within the year. From there…” his voice trailed. Would it be enough?

Ascendancy nodded and the image of Jaxen’s near demise disappeared. Scion breathed a sigh of relief as Ascendancy offered him a hand up. He tentatively accepted the help, only to be pulled close.
“You’ll remember this day for the rest of your life, Scion. Knowing that you draw breath by my mercy alone. That each beat of your heart is another closer to your last, by my mercy for you as you love me. You are my man forever, Scion Marveet. This is your final chance, I will not offer another.”

An hour later, he was deposited at his front door again. It wasn’t until he was in his bedroom, failing to pour a glass of vodka, when he realized how hard he was shaking. At least he was alive.. At least Jaxen was alive.

…Assuming Scion didn’t kill him instead.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#2
By sunrise, Jaxen disappeared without a trace when Scion sent his people to retrieve the boy. The faint light of a new day dawning lit his window when he called Irina.

His ex-wife answered almost immediately.
“I was expecting you.” She wore a silk robe loosely tied at the waist. The thick black of her hair was loose around her shoulders, curls from the previous day fallen flat with restlessness. Gray streaked the onyx mane, wrinkles crimped lines in her face, but she remained the most beautiful woman on the planet.

Scion was as tired as she, but something fueled his anima that Irina could never know. Terror. “You know what your son has done?”

She shrugged. Fury gripped Scion’s fists tight.
“You think this won’t touch you!? If this family falls, it will be at his feet. He will bury us.”

Irina put a porcelain cup to her lips, eyes flicking over the rim. “And yet it hasn’t. If Ascendancy wanted retaliation, he would have done it already. Yet you are safe in your slippers at home, Scion. Jaxen is safe. That means we have something Ascendancy values, and it’s not your business acumen, my dear.”

He knew Irina would be the one to smuggle Jaxen out of the country. Impossible to know where he may have gone, but if Irina was funding his exploits, then he could be anywhere. Scion put a hand to his forehead, squeezing away a headache.

Irina blinked patiently, but when it was clear Scion was shaken, her voice softened to one he recognized.

“He values ruthlessness. Your ruthlessness.”

He looked up. Belief lit her eyes wild. She looked at him only a few times like that in the past. It was the reason he fell in love with her in the first place.

A press ended the call just as she took another sip of her coffee.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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