An Asura’s Bargain

Something like the following dialogue will probably make its way into Shattered Guardian.

MORGAN: Why couldn’t you have told me a decade ago that you needed me for this?

ISAAC: You would not have believed me. Moreover, I needed you to grow through experience and develop ego-strength through your bonds with others. Will you help me now?

MORGAN: After everything you admitted to doing to me, Naomi, and Chr- Annelise, I should kill you.

ISAAC: You tried that once already, which is how we got here.

MORGAN: I’ll help, but afterward you will all stand trial. The Phoenix Society’s executive council is going down, and you are going to answer for everything you did starting with Nationfall. We all have a right to know the truth about everything, so we can decide whether the Phoenix Society is worth even trying to reform.

ISAAC: So, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

MORGAN: No. A public trial before a tribunal by as impartial a jury as can be managed. What you did, what we’re doing—it needs to be documented lest it be forgotten.

ISAAC: Very well. I accept, though I feel like I am the one making a deal with the Devil.

MORGAN: You wanted an Adversary, didn’t you?

The Informed Consent of the Governed

Trigger warning: The following touches on race and class issues in a fictional capitalist society, and uses rape as a metaphor for the rich exploiting everybody else. Reader discretion advised.

NAOMI: I know informed consent is important, but think about the consequences of telling the world that Liebenthal and Mellech were right about the Phoenix Society. The public would panic and think we’re trying to start a second Nationfall. There’d be chaos.

MORGAN: You think I don’t know that?

SID: Bro, you don’t know shit. My father would say you’re too white to know shit, and maybe he’s right, but the real problem is that your whole life depends on you not knowing shit.

MORGAN: You think we don’t want to rock the boat because working for the Phoenix Society as an Adversary made our lifestyles possible?

NAOMI: It’s deeper than that. I might not have had my musical career, or it might have followed a different trajectory, but I might still have found a way to study my art and perform. Without the Asura Emulator Project and the Society’s under-the-table dealings with Ohrmazd Medical and AsgarTech, you wouldn’t exist. Sid doesn’t think you can accept that.

SID: Of course he can’t. Just like he can’t accept that he isn’t human, and that all the rhetoric about individual rights, equality under the law, and justice for all are nothing but rhetoric.

MORGAN: Why do you think I retired?

SID: Retired, my ass. You were right there beside me when I finally got to raid Murdoch Defense Industries and shut it down. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad you were. But you saw how the Phoenix Society fucked you afterward, how they faked the Witness Protocol footage to make it look like you killed Victoria Murdoch.

NAOMI: I’m surprised you didn’t say ‘murdered’.

SID: That bitch all but murdered my father. Not even fifty and he’s nothing but a broken old man fingerpickin’ twelve-bar blues on a guitar I gotta tune for him because he’s too goddamn deaf to realize half the strings are half a step flat and the others half an octave.

MORGAN: You’re saying the Phoenix Society used me the way Murdoch used your father.

SID: It ain’t the Phoenix Society. It’s the motherfuckers running it. Not just Imaginos. The whole damn XC.

EDDIE: I resemble that remark. You know they just keep me around because it’s cheaper than killing me, right?

SID: Bullshit. They figured that if they kept you in booze, drugs, and whores you’d eventually take care of yourself.

EDDIE: Probably would have, too.

CLAIRE (walking in): I heard you clowns arguing from the kitchen. I’ve tried to tell Morgan for years that the Phoenix Society is just how the capitalists go about getting our consent, putting on a condom, and lubing us up before they fuck us.

NAOMI: Isn’t that an improvement over how the powerful treated others before Nationfall?

CLAIRE: Sure, it’s better than how they used to do us: bareback, dry, and without so much as a ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. But I think Sid’s asking if we should be getting fucked at all.

SID: Damn right I am. Morgan, you know damn well the whole damn system is corrupt. I think we should just burn the motherfucker down, but it ain’t just my decision. Likewise–

MORGAN: It’s not just Naomi’s decision or mine to attempt reform. We all need to have a hand in deciding how our societies should be governed.

NAOMI: And that means we must expose the Phoenix Society’s corruption so that everybody can make an informed decision.

MORGAN: Regardless, the Executive Council needs to be taken down. They re-engineered our entire civilization to suit their purposes, and that cannot go unpunished.