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estimated reading time: 21 minutes

I’m roughing out the first chapter of Shattered Guardian as a screenplay. Naomi Bradleigh learns that her lost love might yet be found, and she is not pleased.

The theme song for this episode is “Cemetery Gates” by Pantera, from Cowboys from Hell (Atlantic, 1992).

EXT. 64 YEARS AFTER NATIONFALL

The Manhattan skyline is visible not because of its lights, but because of the dark silhouette it casts against the moon and starry sky. Small red lights like fireflies dot the streets, but the city doesn’t blaze as it once did before everything fell apart. A single light breaks away from the others.

Closer: The lone light is that of a lantern held by a statuesque woman wearing a burgundy wool overcoat and a sidesword on her hip. This is Naomi Bradleigh, a classically trained soprano, concert pianist, rock musician, and former Adversary. Her long, snow-blonde hair trails behind her in the wintry breeze. Her mouth, with lips done in deep carmine to match her eyes, is set in a hard, determined line. Her stride is swift and purposeful as she finds her way to a cemetery.

We see in that in her other hand she is carrying two bouquets of black-tipped scarlet roses as she ignores the majority of the graves on her way to the Adversaries’ Graveyard.

EXT. MANHATTAN, ADVERSARIES' GRAVEYARD - NIGHT

We can tell this part of the graveyard is different from the complete absense of all conventional religious symbolism. Every grave is marked with the swords, serpent, and scales of the Phoenix Society’s Civil Liberties Defense Corps (CLDC), aka the Adversaries. Each grave bears two sets of dates indicating the lifespan of the deceased and the term of their service. Most bear as their epitaph the same Latin motto that is inscribed over the gate: “Mors omnibus tyrannis” - “Death to all tyrants”.

At the center of the graveyard is an eternal flame in the form of a sculpture in marble of a heroic male figure, nude save for broken manacles and leg irons, holding a flaming torch in one upraised hand while crushing an eagle beneath his heel. Though NAOMI BRADLEIGH recognizes the figure as the titan Prometheus, the pedestal is inscribed in Latin:

LUCIFER INVICTUS

Naomi lays one of her bouquets before the pedestal, and kneels as if to pray.

NAOMI
For my fallen comrades.

EXT. MANHATTAN, ADVERSARIES' GRAVEYARD - NIGHT

One grave stands apart from the rest, between a pair of newly planted saplings. Its stone is thrice the size of the others, for it bears more than just the salient facts and a reference to the deceased’s true nature:

MORGAN STORMRIDER 2082 - 2112 2101 - 2112 WEAPON BY DESIGN, HUMAN BY CHOICE

Below it is a discography:

  • PROMETHEUS UNBOUND
  • GRAVITY MARGIN
  • TO REIGN IN HELL
  • SPARTACUS
  • HOMO EX MACHINA
  • TEAR DOWN THIS WALL

Naomi Bradleigh approaches the grave, her head bowed as if she hopes to hide the tears welling in her eyes. She stands before the grave, looking for a place amid other bouquets and gifts to the dead from previous mourners to place her own offering.

NAOMI
Damn it, Morgan, why did you have to play the hero?

Naomi creates a place by pushing aside a half-empty bottle of whiskey that somebody had left after pouring a libation, and places her roses by Morgan’s grave.

NAOMI
I told you it would get you killed someday.

EXT. MANHATTAN, ADVERSARIES' GRAVEYARD - NIGHT

A tall, slim brunette approaches, her heels clicking against the flagstones. She is dressed at the height of understated winter fashion in an open blue wool overcoat over a blue suit with a just-below-knee-length skirt and black stockings and spike heels that make her almost as tall as Naomi.

Closer: We see that her face is drawn and haggard from too many sleepless nights and too little food. Her hands tremble a little. One of her blue-grey eyes is streaked with a wide band of orange. This is Annelise Copeland, the artist formerly known as Christabel Crowley.

ANNELISE
That may have been my fault.

Naomi turns on her heel and grasps the hilt of her sword.

NAOMI
Christabel?

EXT. MORGAN STORMRIDER'S GRAVE - NIGHT

ANNELISE
When did you take up the sword?
NAOMI
At least a decade too late. I should have had a blade handy when I first saw you sniffing around Morgan.
ANNELISE
I suppose you’re right to hate me. How much did he learn about me?
NAOMI
He learned enough.
CHRISTABEL?
(looks away) What did he say?

EXT. MANHATTAN, MORGAN STORMRIDER'S GRAVE - NIGHT

A man in a white double-breasted suit approaches. He has white hair, like Naomi, and cold blue eyes. Though he’s tall and gracile like a European fashion model there’s a sense of mortal peril about him, that behind the dandy’s appearance is a cruel and calculating power, a bitter heart that bides its time and bites. This is ISAAC MAGNIN, whom those he trusts know as the sorcerer and ensof IMAGINOS.

ISAAC MAGNIN
Unfortunately, Annelise, that will have to wait.
NAOMI
(drawing her sword) Leave her alone, Magnin.

Naomi places herself between Annelise and Isaac Magnin. She raises her sword, ready to fight.

ISAAC
Please come with me. Morgan needs you.

INT. ASGARTECH SPIRE, RECOVERY ROOM - NIGHT

24 hours ago...

Dr. Josefine Malmgren, a petite blonde wearing jeans and a cardigan, approaches a high-tech hospital bed in which a lithe, dark man with long black hair rests. She is nervous because she knows the man by reputation.

JOSEFINE
Adversary Stormrider? Are you awake?

Morgan Stormrider opens his eyes. They’re green, and have slit pupils like a cat’s. He scans the room, but does not startle the way many patients do when awakening in a hospital room. Instead, he gets out of bed. Naked, he turns his back on Josefine and stretches.

MORGAN
Where am I? Who are you? When was I injured? How long have I been out?
JOSEFINE
You’re in the AsgarTech Spire, in the Asura Emulator Project’s R&D lab. I’m Dr. Josefine Malmgren.
MORGAN
Medical doctor?
JOSEFINE
Computer science and psychology, actually.
MORGAN
Asura Emulator… You know what I am?
JOSEFINE
We haven’t met in person, but our mutual friend Claire has told me a great deal about you.
MORGAN
Which explains why I don’t recognize you, but—
JOSEFINE
I’m afraid this is going to be hard for you.
MORGAN
Coma?
JOSEFINE
Worse than that. You were dead.

INT. ASGARTECH SPIRE, CAFETERIA - NIGHT

22 hours ago...

Morgan Stormrider, dressed in jeans and an AsgarTech t-shirt, returns to a table where Josefine Malmgren is waiting with a tray laden with coffee and two plates of chicken tikka masala with rice. Giving one plate to Josefine, he tries the other. He’s tentative at first, as if he doesn’t trust the cafeteria staff to make a decent meal, but is soon eating with gusto. Afterward, he sits back and sips his coffee, which is black like Sabbath.

MORGAN
I refuse to believe I was dead.
JOSEFINE ^
Your body was so thoroughly damaged we had to restore your psyche from a backup into a 200 Series model.
MORGAN
200 Series? Are you suggesting that this isn’t my body.
JOSEFINE
It is now. I suggest you make yourself at home, because it gets worse. Your last backup was a month prior to your destruction. You will have to reconstruct your personal narrative from external records. Dr. Magnin and Dr. Desdinova asked me to help you.
MORGAN
No. That can’t be true. The last thing I remember was getting in Naomi’s car after Christabel’s funeral. There must have been a crash. It must have been bad enough to leave me comatose.

Morgan grabs Josefine’s hands.

MORGAN
Where’s Naomi? I need to see her. I need to see that she’s all right. Please!

EXT. MANHATTAN, CEMETERY - NIGHT

the present time...

Naomi stares at Isaac Magnin, trembling so badly that she cannot hold her sword steady.

NAOMI
I saw Morgan die. He came apart in my arms, you bastard.
ISAAC
I know. I’m sorry you had to go through that.
ANNELISE
Then why taunt Naomi so?
ISAAC
I would never taunt my daughter so, Annelise.
NAOMI
I am not your daughter. Not in any sense that matters.
ISAAC
For which I’ve only myself to blame. Please, Naomi. Sheathe your sword and come with me.
NAOMI
Why should I believe you?
ISAAC
When have I ever lied to you?
NAOMI
When have you not lied to me? You’re a grandmaster in the art of lying by omission.
ANNELISE
He wouldn’t lie about this.

Naomi takes a step forward and presses the tip of her sword to ISAAC’s throat. The veins in the crystalline gray blade pulse as if it were alive.

NAOMI
If you want me to come with you, you’d better tell me everything.
ISAAC
Sheathe your sword and I will. Having the Starbreaker’s point at my throat makes me nervous. It hungers, you see.
NAOMI
I know.

Naomi sheathes her sword.

NAOMI
It whispers in the back of my mind every time I touch it, tempting me to kill.

INT. SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE, RUINED CATHEDRAL - NIGHT

16 hours ago...

The full moon streams through the heavily damaged stained glass windows of a ruined cathedral. A cadaverous man with close-cropped brown hair and feline yellow eyes approaches the altar, which appears to have been desecrated long ago. This is Abram Mellech, whose public pose is that of a televangelist and the founding head pastor of Agape Ministries. His true identity is that of the ensof Adramelech.

Closer: An obsidian mirror rests on the altar, its surface roiling with tenebrous clouds. A voice issues forth, like that of God or of Oz the Great and Terrible, but it remains disembodied. This is all that Sabaoth — the ensof that claims to be Shaddai (the almighty) — can manage.

ADRAMELECH
I trust, Lord, that you have called me here for a reason.
SABAOTH
I am displeased, Adramelech. You told me that Morgan Stormrider had died for defying Me. I feel his signal on the network strangling this world.
ADRAMELECH
He did indeed die. Our problem is that he did not stay dead.
SABAOTH
Has IMAGINOS learned to resurrect the dead?
ADRAMELECH
Asura Emulators are an exception to the general rule. Their psyches can be backed up and placed in external storage.
SABAOTH
Could IMAGINOS copy a backup of MORGAN to multiple bodies?
ADRAMELECH
It stands to reason that he could, but I doubt he would profit by doing so. I suspect they would each assert the truth of their identity, and fight amongst themselves. Moreover, there is but one Starbreaker to wield against you, SHADDAI.
SABAOTH
To think IMAGINOS and his cabal call Me “SABAOTH”, the “LORD OF HOSTS”, when they’ve possessed the technology to raise armies of biomechanical abominations against Me and my righteous all this time…
ADRAMELECH
Lord?
SABAOTH
Destroy all backups of Morgan Stormrider’s psyche. Ensure no new backups can be made. Then kill him.
ADRAMELECH
(bows) Thy will be done, Lord.
SABAOTH
But first, break him. Strip him of the bonds from which he draws the strength to defy My divine will. Kill everybody he cherishes.
ADRAMELECH
Everybody?
SABAOTH
Save Naomi Bradleigh for last.
ADRAMELECH
Lord, it would be safer to destroy Stormrider first. What he cannot protect, he will avenge. Nor will he be the only one seeking to avenge Naomi.

Lightning arcs out of the clear night sky, transfixing ADRAMELECH.

SABAOTH
You dare question My will?
ADRAMELECH
Only that I might see it done and thy kingdom brought forth. ‘Tis only your victory that I seek, Lord.

The lightning ceases. ADRAMELECH does not speak immediately, but takes a moment to recover.

SABAOTH
MORGAN STORMRIDER will fight all the harder to avenge those he loves, but to no avail. It is My will that he die knowing the full extent of his failure.
ADRAMELECH
I understand now, Lord. Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

ADRAMELECH turns to leave.

SABAOTH
Do not use Polaris. Their loyalties are divided, and they were no doubt Imaginos’ tool from the beginning.
ADRAMELECH
When we last spoke, they had insinuated themselves into Stormrider’s circle. I shall destroy their backup before killing them, as well.
SABAOTH
Thou art my good and faithful servant. In thee I am well pleased.

ADRAMELECH smiles, as if he had succeeded in bullshitting SHADDAI.

INT. MANHATTAN, LIMOUSINE DRIVING DOWN 5TH AVE - NIGHT

the present time...

Dark streets blur outside the tinted windows of the limousine as Isaac Magnin pours brandy for Naomi Bradleigh and Annelise Copeland. Annelise sits beside Isaac Magnin, and he treats her as if she were a former lover for whom he still retains a strong fondness. Naomi sits across from Isaac and Annelise, her strange sidesword resting across her lap. She keeps one hand on the weapon’s scabbard as she accepts her brandy.

ISAAC
I figured you’d want a drink.
NAOMI
(gently swirls the glass) I do, but that doesn’t make drinking a good idea.
ANNELISE
ISAAC, what did you do to NAOMI to earn such distrust?

ISAAC and NAOMI both look at ANNELISE. They answer in unison.

ISAAC
It’s complicated.
NAOMI ^
It’s complicated.

NAOMI glances at ISAAC before continuing.

NAOMI
He’s persuasive enough sober. It’s harder to see through his bullshit after a drink or two.
ISAAC
As if I’d take advantage of my own daughter.
NAOMI
You would, you have, and you will undoubtedly try to do so again. I’m surprised you didn’t offer me to Morgan as a prize, Imaginos.
ISAAC
Please don’t use that name around —
NAOMI
Around Annelise? Spare me. I’ve read her letters.
ANNELISE
Has Morgan read them, too?
ISAAC
Of course he has. Why else would I have sent him the archive?
ANNELISE
Those were private. Why would you do such a thing?
ISAAC
Because it was necessary.
NAOMI ^
Because he’s an arsehole.

ANNELISE and ISAAC both stare at NAOMI. NAOMI finally sips her brandy.

NAOMI
Don’t look at me like that. You’re both arseholes, and you richly deserve each other.
ISAAC
You’re being unfair to Ms. Copeland.
NAOMI
Am I? Morgan is dead because of her.
ISAAC
Morgan is dead because of his own hubris. He thought himself capable of defeating one of the ensof alone.
ANNELISE
Failed? I was there. Whatever it was Morgan fought disappeared.
ISAAC
He managed to destroy SABAOTH’s avatar. That isn’t the same as killing him.
NAOMI
And you had some kind of magic that let you resurrect him?
ISAAC
I had the technology, yes.
NAOMI
Not that I’d mind seeing him again, but why do you need me?
ISAAC
His last memory is of getting in your car after CHRISTABEL CROWLEY’s sham funeral.
NAOMI
Are you telling me he thinks he was in a car crash, and blames me?
ISAAC
No. He’s distraught because he thinks you were injured.

INT. ASGARTECH SPIRE, JOSEFINE MALMGREN'S OFFICE - NIGHT

8 hours ago...

JOSEFINE paces inside her office, clutching a copy of The Unix Programming Environment as if it were a talisman. A short-haired TUXEDO CAT slips into the office via a cat door, and jumps up on JOSEFINE’s desk. It has a live mouse clutched in its jaws.

TUXEDO CAT
(drops the mouse into JOSEFINE’s coffee mug) Hi, Doc. I brought you a snack.
JOSEFINE
(pulls a barely alive mouse soaked in stale coffee out of the mug) Thanks, ZERO, but I’m not hungry anymore.
ZERO
Can I have it back, then?
JOSEFINE
(puts the mouse in a box lined with tissues) You should give the poor thing time to rest, so it can play more later.
ZERO
(purring) Oh, yeah. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.
JOSEFINE
You didn’t come here just to show off your latest kill, did you?
ZERO
No, but I’ve got to look like I do something around here besides lick my own balls and cough up hairballs on ISAAC MAGNIN’s chair when he’s not around.
JOSEFINE
(gives ZERO a pointed look) Sometime before Ragnarok would be nice.
ZERO
I checked on your new boyfriend, the dude you brought back from the dead. He’s got a cat who looks like me curled up with him.
JOSEFINE
You’re not the only kitty emulator we’ve got roaming the Spire, ZERO.
ZERO
meow! When did the AsgarTech Corporation start making kitty emulators big enough to replace ponies?
JOSEFINE
Big enough to replace a pony?

JOSEFINE rushes from her office, and races to the room where MORGAN is being kept. Opening the door, she finds MORGAN scratching a GIANT CAT the size of a golden retriever behind its ears.

JOSEFINE
How did that cat get here?
MORGAN
(shrugs) Beats me. For all I know, he walks through walls.

The GIANT CAT’s purring starts to resemble a biker convention as it rubs its face all over MORGAN.

JOSEFINE
Is… is it safe to pet him?
MORGAN
Probably. MORDRED has always been the friendly sort.

MORDRED purrs even louder as MORGAN says his name, and gives a chirping meow. JOSEFINE starts scratching behind MORDRED’s ears, and he rolls over to expose a fluffy white belly.

ZERO
Is that a cat or a cannoli?
MORGAN
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that your cat speaks English, DR. MALMGREN.
JOSEFINE
ZERO was the first project I worked on at AsgarTech. Much of the tech we developed got reused to create asura emulators like you.
MORGAN
You’re overworked and look like shit, but you can’t be any older than me. No way you were involved in creating asura emulators like me.
JOSEFINE
But you’re no longer part of the 100 Series. You’ve been upgraded.
MORGAN
Bullshit.
JOSEFINE
I don’t get paid enough to bullshit you, Adversary. Not when you seem perfectly capable of doing it to yourself.
MORGAN
I’m sorry. You must be tired, and I haven’t been very cooperative.
JOSEFINE
In a way, all of this is my fault.

MORGAN stops petting MORDRED, and fixes his gaze on JOSEFINE.

JOSEFINE
If I hadn’t helped CLAIRE develop the firmware patch you used to disable automatic incremental backups, I could have restored you with all of your memories.
MORGAN
Including the moment of my alleged death. Do you truly think that would have been wise?
JOSEFINE
What do you think?
MORGAN
I think it would be as traumatic as remembering one’s birth… or being aware of one’s conception at the moment it happens.
JOSEFINE
Only you were neither conceived, nor born. You aren’t human. The sooner you accept that…
MORGAN
That is not a premise you want somebody like me accepting. If I am not human, then of what concern is a human life to me?

JOSEFINE stares at MORGAN in horror as the implications dawn on her exhausted mind.

JOSEFINE
I’ve been such an idiot. No wonder you want to see NAOMI. Not to mention CLAIRE, EDDIE, SID, SARAH, and the rest.
MORGAN
Don’t you think they’d want to know that I’m not dead?
JOSEFINE
Look, you’re the first asura emulator we’ve ever resurrected. We don’t know what we’re doing. I’ll tell DR. MAGNIN and DR. DESDINOVA that you need visitors.

INT. ASGARTECH SPIRE, CONFERENCE ROOM - NIGHT

the present time...

This corporate conference room is set apart from others not only by its size, but by the gentleness of its lighting and the opulence of its furnishings. The long table and well-padded chairs exhibit a level of craftsmanship worthy of Versailles during the reign of the French tyrant Louis XIV of the Bourbon dynasty.

Two men sit at the far end of the table. One of them, MORGAN STORMRIDER, is watching video on a wall-mounted display. The other man has blue eyes, long gray hair, and wears a tailored charcoal gray suit under a white physician’s lab coat, and he’s watching MORGAN. This is DESDINOVA, who goes by no other name despite the risk of exposure he and other membes of IMAGINOS’ cabal face.

EXT. RIO DI JANEIRO, SOCCER FIELD, DAY

3 months ago...

MORGAN STORMRIDER has been cut up, beaten up, and burned. His armor is ruined. His sword is a jagged stump that might only be good for shaving. He glances around the stadium, sees that the evacuation is still in progress, and tightens his grip on his broken sword for a moment. It is the only outward sign of his fear he allows himself to display.

CLOSER, we see resolve, pride, and righteous anger in Morgan’s eyes as he stands tall and defiant before a towering inferno that appeared in the middle of a soccer game and spoke with a voice out of a whirlwind.

We know that this voice from the whirlwind is the ensof SABAOTH (lord of hosts), who calls himself SHADDAI (the almighty), but all Morgan knows is that it has killed innocent people after demanding obedience, and is thus a tyrant who must be put down.

SABAOTH
How long do you think you can defy me, little asura? How long before you fall to your knees in fear and trembling and confess that I am the Lord thy God?
MORGAN
If you want me to kneel, then break my legs. If you are the God you claim to be, it should be easy for you.

An arc of lightning lances at Morgan from the infernal tornado taking up most of the stadium. Rather than attempt to dodge it, Morgan catches the thunderbolt in one hand as if he were a legendary Japanese sword saint catching an arrow in midflight.

MORGAN
That’s right. Keep throwing your power at me. Give me everything you’ve got. I can take it.
SABAOTH
Such hubris is unbecoming, little asura.

A storm descends upon Morgan, its lightning pounding him like an A-10’s 30mm gatling ripping apart a tank. When it dissipates, Morgan is still there, though his clothes are in worse condition than before. Electricity dances along his skin as some of the power he absorbed leaks out.

Screaming with psychotic fury, Sabaoth redoubles his assault. He drives much power into his attack on Morgan that the ground on which he stood is vaporized.

But Morgan is still there at the bottom of the crater, still on his feet, and still defiant.

SABAOTH
Impossible…
MORGAN
(leaping out of the crater) You don’t get it, do you? This is my world. This is where I live. Everything I love is here. Everything that made me what I am is here. What you do to the least of all of the creatures of this world, you do to me.
SABAOTH
You’re nobody’s savior.
MORGAN
That’s right. I’m not Jesus. I do not forgive.

Morgan throws away his broken sword. A sword of deep purple flame blazes to life before him and he grasps it without fear that it will burn him. He no longer cares; he is committed to striking Sabaoth down even if it takes a kamikaze attack to do the job.

MORGAN
I am an Adversary, sworn not to the service of the Phoenix Society, but by my own choice. This is the sword of my rage, the blade of my hatred. In my own name I wield it and accept its price, and with it I will strike you down for your sins against the world.

Morgan points the weapon forged from his very soul at Sabaoth, who has taken the form of a crowned beast out of the Book of Revelation.

MORGAN
This is your last chance, false God. Leave this star system, never to return on pain of death.

INT. ASGARTECH SPIRE, CONFERENCE ROOM - NIGHT

the present time...

MORGAN STORMRIDER stares at the screen, which has gone black because the feed had cut out. The other man studies Morgan for a moment before speaking.

DESDINOVA
Are you sure you don’t remember any of this?
MORGAN
(indignant) Of course not.

Morgan extends a short blade of deep purple flame from his fingertip. Letting it blink out, he points at the screen.

MORGAN
I’ve always had certain preternatural abilities, and I’ve always suppressed them. I’ve never flaunted them as if I were…
DESDINOVA
(smirking) One of your friend Claire’s shonen manga heroes?
MORGAN
Exactly.

MORGAN stands, and leans over Desdinova.

MORGAN
Speaking of which, where is Claire? Where are my friends? Why the hell do you have me in a Faraday cage?

INT. ASGARTECH SPIRE, LOBBY - NIGHT

NAOMI BRADLEIGH leads EDMUND COHEN, SID SCHNEIDER, CLAIRE ASHECROFT, SARAH KOHLRYNN, and even MUNAKATA TETSUO into the AsgarTech Spire’s lobby. She draws her sword, and the others draw weapons of their own, as security guards rush to stop them.

NAOMI
Gentlemen, you aren’t getting paid enough to get in our way. Put your weapons away and—
CLAIRE
(brandishes a rune-covered black cricket bat) Bugger off before I bugger the lot of you with Cluebringer.
NAOMI
(sighs as the guards raise their weapons) Dammit, Claire.

A melee ensues as Naomi and the others draw into a tight knot, guarding each other’s backs as they fight security guards outnumbering them two to one.

CLAIRE
(already beating up one guard) Arioch! Arioch! Hookers and blow for my lord Arioch!
EDMUND
Goddammit, Claire. Try to take this seriously.

The temperature drops to sub-zero levels. Frost coats every surface as ISAAC MAGNIN enters the lobby with ANNELISE COPELAND in tow. MAGNIN does not raise his voice, but he doesn’t need to.

ISAAC
Stand down.

One guard doesn’t get the message.

GUARD
But Dr. Magnin, they came armed.
ISAAC
They are Adversaries. Of course they would come armed. They are also my honored guests, and are to be afforded every courtesy.
GUARD
But —

ISAAC MAGNIN stares into the guard’s eyes.

ISAAC
Every. Courtesy.

INT. ASGARTECH SPIRE, CONFERENCE ROOM - NIGHT

DESDINOVA attempts to reason with MORGAN STORMRIDER, who isn’t impressed.

DESDINOVA
We kept you isolated for your own good. We weren’t sure what your mental state would be like immediately after resurrection.
MORGAN
You keep talking about resurrection, but that’s impossible. Why not just tell me I was grievously injured, and had just come out of a coma?
DESDINOVA
How many times have you taken a bullet to the head?
MORGAN
A couple of times. The round just goes around my skull instead of through it, and I wake up with a headache.
DESDINOVA
No. The round went through your head, and your higher functions shut down while you repaired yourself. After you destroyed Sabaoth’s avatar, your body failed to repair itself. It was too heavily damaged.
MORGAN
Bull—

The doors swing open and strike the wall, as if forced open by a mighty blow. NAOMI BRADLEIGH does not break stride despite having kicked the doors open. She stalks across the length of the conference room, advancing upon Morgan.

MORGAN
Naomi?

Naomi plunges her hands into Morgan’s mane of glossy blue-black hair and kisses him with the ferocity one normally expects from a male lead in a bodice-ripper as he ravishes the heroine. Once she’s satisfied that she’s kissed Morgan breathless, Naomi draws back and glares at Morgan.

NAOMI
You bastard. I had to play Chopin’s Funeral March in b-flat minor for you.

Naomi bursts into tears and throws her arms around Morgan, who holds her close.

ZOOMING IN, we see Naomi add in a softer voice, as if for Morgan’s ears only…

NAOMI
Do you have any idea how hard it is to sight-read when you can’t stop crying?

TO BE CONTINUED