Since you liked Damian so much, here is that scene in its entirety. 🙂 It will likely preface BLOOD HEIR to remind old readers about the events of Kate Daniels series and hopefully keep the newcomers from feeling lost.
One month after the Battle of Atlanta
Order of Merciful Aid
Wolf Trap, VA 22182
14 Sep 2045
Transcript for Record
FOR: Grand Master, Angevin, Damian, 3rd Knight-Preceptor of the Order of Merciful Aid
INDIVIDUALS PRESENT: Grand Master Damian Angevin, Knight-Inquisitor Bruce Dolivo, Knight-Secretary Timothy Hanson (recording)
SUBJECT: Battle of Atlanta /Attempted Invasion by Roland aka Nimrod of Shinar
BD [Reading]:To understand the conflict that took place in Atlanta resulting in the Battle of Atlanta in August 2045, it is helpful to consider two theories.
First, the forces of magic and technology exist in a balance. Both must be present for life to survive. The complete absence of either results in a mass extinction event, as we saw during the Lighthouse Keeper incident in Palmetto GA. Using technology or magic through means of devices and spells increases its respective potency in the world at the cost of the opposite force. So, the more spells the population uses, the stronger is the magic and the weaker is the tech and vice versa. This continues until the imbalance becomes too great and the system auto corrects. This is known as the Balance Theory.
DA: I’m well aware of this. Last time I checked, I wasn’t an idiot.
BD [Reading]: The Shift, the return of magic to our technological civilization is an example of such correction. The correction isn’t instant but gradual, which is why we’re now experiencing magic waves with periods of technology in between. That is also why magic destroys objects with a high technological concentration, such as tall buildings, aircraft, and computers.
DA: Bruce, my time is valuable. Get to the fucking monkey.
BD [Reading]: Second, the Shift isn’t the first such correction our world has experienced. Evidence suggests that several advanced civilizations existed in pre-history, based on the practice magic and that they obtained a level knowledge and innovation at least equal to or surpassing our own. They had experienced their own Shift, which brought waves of technology and ultimately resulted in their demise. This is known as Second Shift Theory.
DA: You’re doing this on purpose.
BD: Yes, you asked me to do this, I dropped everything, and now you’re going to sit and listen to my damn report.
DA: You always did love the sound of your own voice.
BD: And thirty years later you still can’t pay attention to the lecture. I’m still doing your fucking homework for you, Damian.
DA: That is a lie, and you know it. I did my own damn homework. It’s your job to investigate. It’s my job to decide what to do about your findings.
BD: Oh no, I’m losing my train of thought due to the constant interruptions. I think I’m going to have to start from the beginning.
DA: I already know this. The kid knows this. Tim, is any of this news to you or were you awake during the classes at the Academy?
TH: No, Grand Master. Yes, Grand Master.
DA: Tim, tell me who Roland is.
TH: He’s an exceptionally powerful wizard born in the prehistoric times when magic civilizations flourished. It’s rumored that he is the basis for Biblical figure of Nimrod, the man who built the Tower of Babel. When the first Shift destroyed the magic civilization, Nimrod went into hibernation. The current Shift woke him up and he took the name Roland. He possesses god-like powers, he uses blood magic, and he may have created vampires. He seeks world dominion and is classified as extraordinarily hostile.
BD: How is it you have a kid who uses words like flourished? Give him to me, he’s too smart for you.
DA: Get your own smart kid. This one is mine. Just give me the Cliff’s notes version, Bruce.
BD: Fine. Think of magic as water and technology as a dam holding it back. A little bit of water always flows through, but it’s barely a trickle. Then we have the Industrial Revolution, a couple of World Wars, and the Space Race, and information technology. The more we progress, the greater is the pressure on the dam, until eventually the damn thing starts cracking. We think it really started sometime in the 70’s, when all that psychic crap hit.
So, the magic keeps leaking through the cracks, the cracks widen, and eventually Roland wakes up, probably sometime in the 90’s. He crawls out of whatever cave he was sleeping in and starts running around waiting for the dam to break. Which we know it did, and we have our apocalypse.
Nobody exactly knows what happened to Roland in the past, but it was some heavy shit, because the man is unhinged. Mad genius, megalomaniac wizard, crazy cosmic powers, the whole enchilada. He’s obsessed with rebuilding his ancient kingdom, the Shinar. He settles in Ohio, creates the People, and sets about building the foundation for his kingdom.
Shortly after the Shift, he meets a woman, Kalina, and falls in love with her. She becomes pregnant, and at first, he’s happy, but then he decides to kill the child in the womb.
BD: He’s had children in the past, and it didn’t go well. They were powerful and every one of them died or turned against him and then died. No one knows how many of his own kids he murdered.
DA: Clearly, father of the year material.
BD: Kalina had other ideas. She somehow seduced Roland’s warlord and ran off with him. Magic may have been involved. Roland chased them. At some point she gave birth to a girl. Roland caught up with them, so she gave the baby to the warlord and confronted her husband to buy them time. She did a damn good job, by all accounts. Bought her daughter twenty-five years before Roland learned of her.
DA: What happened to Kalina?
BD: She stabbed Roland in the eye, and he killed her.
DA: This has turned into a lifetime movie.
BD: Do you even know where that saying comes from?
DA: Yes, do you?
BD: Timothy, bonus question. Where does the phrase lifetime movie come from?
TH: Lifetime was basic cable channel that provided programing targeted toward women and featuring women in leading roles. Lifetime’s original content included made for TV movies, which often portrayed women overcoming adversity resulting from men’s actions, particularly in mystery genre.
BD: I’ll trade you Lisa for him.
DA: Pass. What happened with the girl and the warlord?
BD: The warlord decided to make the girl into a killer, and he did. This woman can kill anything. There are reports of her fighting in the pits South of the Border when she was eight years old. Eventually, the warlord died, and from fifteen until eighteen she ended up in a guardianship under one of ours, Knight-Diviner Greg Feldman.
DA: We had her?
DA: Did Feldman know?
BD: Looks that way. He tried to enroll her into Academy twice and she bolted both times. You can check the enrollment logs yourself. She went by Kate Daniels.
DA: Well, fucking shit.
BD: Eventually she ended up in Atlanta and ran into Curran Lennart.
DA: The first Beastlord of the Pack?
BD: Yep. Apparently, there was some sort of instant attraction. It gets better. Ted Moynohan at this point is in charge of the Atlanta Chapter.
DA: That fuckhead again. The gift that keeps on giving. I still don’t understand how he got to be the Knight-Protector. If that man was in charge of nothing except his own dick, sooner or later he’d suspect it of presenting a danger to humanity.
BD: He was one of the original 50 people Stone knighted. Stone liked him for dependability and promoted him to Knight-Sergeant, and after he died, Heath took over and Heath prized seniority over ability. We’re taking about the same man who commissioned a life size portrait of Stone and had it framed in gold…
DA: And if Stone was alive, he would’ve brained Heath with it.
BD: And I would’ve paid good money to see that. Anyway, Moynohan hires Daniels as an agent of the Order.
DA: What the actual fuck?
BD: Your guess is as good as mine. This thing is actually a lot more complicated, but you asked for highlights. She works for us for a bit. Meanwhile, her daddy wakes up his sister. Her name is Erra and she is the human equivalent of a nuke. In ancient times, she was his warlord. She’s got a list of titles a mile long, things like Plaguebringer and City Eater, and she is even less sane than her brother. For some reason, Roland sends her to Atlanta, and she runs into her niece. Shit hits the fan. A plague almost wipes out the city, crazy crap happens, but eventually Daniels kills her. In the process, it becomes clear that she and Lennart are an item and Moynohan thinks shapeshifters aren’t people and should be put down. So our girl quits and goes off to be the Beastlady.
BD: You okay?
DA: Just think about it. If only we’d managed to reel her in. We could’ve had our own nuke.
BD [sigh]: Yep. This is what happens when you promote people beyond their intelligence. Anyhow, some years pass and Roland and Daniels keep coming into conflict with each other remotely. Meanwhile, Heath is leading us into political nightmare ass first. The Order’s reputation plummets. Moynohan, who is gone full lunatic by now, becomes convinced that the only way the Order can survive is to have a holy war against an evil enemy.
DA: And we know this how?
BD: He wrote a memo to Heath about it.
DA: … Continue.
BD: Moynohan looks around for some enemy to fight and settles on Roland. Roland decides it’s time to meet his daughter in person, so he sends his warlord to get her.
DA: Hugh d’Ambray, another massive pain in the ass.
BD: He was a pain until Roland threw him away.
DA: That man is a butcher. Right now, he sits safe in Kentucky playing house with his new wife, and the moment he steps foot outside of that state, I’ll be on him like white on rice.
BD: Okay. Moving on. Moynohan makes sure that d’Ambray slaughters the entire Atlanta Chapter and burns a deep cover agent embedded with d’Ambray. That agent is…
DA: Are you going to tell us?
BD: It’s a dramatic pause, Damian. That agent is Knight-Crusader Nikolas Feldman, Greg Feldman’s son. Didn’t see that coming, did you?
DA: How does this woman keep doing this?
BD: Luck? Coincidence? Fate? Anyway, Heath refuses to go to war with Roland and for some reason decides to promote Feldman to Knight-Protector and set him up in charge of the Atlanta Chapter. Mariana de Leon calls for Heath to step down and your name is brought up as the possible replacement. You know what happened next. While we were busy sorting all that out and fighting our civil war, Roland and Daniels come into open conflict. This family has an inborn ability to claim land.
DA: Define claim.
BD: They become bound to the land and all living creatures within it. If a significant magic power enters their domain, they know and can track it. It’s something that had been deliberately bred into them to make them better rulers. Apparently, there is a big price tag attached to all this, but we won’t go into that. Short version: Roland tries to claim Atlanta and Daniels blocks him and claims it instead. They make a deal. Lennart gives up the Pack, and Daddy dearest will mind his manners for the next hundred years. Basically, Lennart and Daniels bought some time.
DA: Didn’t last.
BD: No. He keeps poking her with a stick. She and Lennart get married and she gives birth to a baby boy, and that’s just makes her father’s meddling worse. While he’s harassing her, an ancient dragon decides it would be a great idea to invade the world. He opens a secret dimension where he’s been hiding with his slave army and starts capturing people and boiling them alive. The entire city comes together to fight him and somehow Daniels convinces Roland to help her. They kill the dragon, and the moment he croaks, Roland turns on his daughter. When the dust settles, Roland is gone, jettisoned out of our world.
BD: Nobody knows. Feldman has written a report in which he claims that Roland is imprisoned in the realm outside of our existence and can never escape. I pressed him for explanation, but he hasn’t given one yet. He doesn’t have the highest opinion of us. Like Moynohan, he’s been writing memos for years explaining that Roland is going to invade and Daniels is a danger to democracy.
DA: I’ve read them. His points were valid, but we had more urgent things on our plate. What happened to Daniels?
BD: She unclaimed the land and went back to living in the suburbs with her ex-Beastlord husband.
DA: Just like that?
BD: Just like that. Here’s the kicker. You remember the aunt she killed? Erra, the Plaguebringer? The one with all the titles?
BD: She got resurrected on the battlefield.
DA: Bruce, death is forever. In all the decades since the Shift nobody has ever come back to life.
BD: Well, she did. Rumors said she wasn’t fully dead, and she and Daniels have some sort of arrangement. Shortly after the dust settles, she leaves. And here is another tidbit for you. Years ago, Daniels rescued a street kid, a little girl named Julia Olsen. Lennart and Daniels formally adopted her. Julia, they call her Julie, was a sensate and had some weird powers. Word is, she and Erra left together. Their whereabouts are officially unknown.
DA: So, we have an ancient warlord princess running around the country, possibly starting plagues and, good news, she found an apprentice with weird powers. Fantastic. How sure we are that Roland is no longer a threat?
BD: One hundred percent sure. Daniels is unconcerned, and she would be his primary target. As to Erra, we will find her.
DA: What makes you so sure?
BD: Because she looks like this. [passes photograph]
DA: … How tall is she?
BD: Six two.
DA: When you said she was thousands of years old, I didn’t expect… that.
BD: No. I know this look.
DA: What look?
DA: Yes? Is there something you want to tell me off the record?
BD: No, I want it on the record. It’s Timothy’s job to record every word that passes here, and I want to be damn sure that he puts this in writing. Do you understand, Knight-Secretary Hanson?
TH: Yes, Knight-Inquisitor.
BD: This woman is a weapon of mass destruction. She can do things we can’t even imagine. She can make indestructible weapons and armor out of her own blood. She has centuries of education and experience. The Shift happened less than fifty years ago. Our most advanced mages are babies compared to her. Leave it alone.
BD: I’m dead serious, Damian. This woman is trouble. Don’t get involved. I mean it.
DA: I heard you. Thank you for the report, Knight-Inquisitor. The Order appreciates your efforts.
BD: I warned you. Ignore me at your own peril. Besides, it’s Julia Olsen we need to focus on. Roland had taken an interest in her. She was seen at his Swan palace and his subordinates referred to her as talmir, which means disciple. Daniels taught her to use bladed weapons, Roland taught her magic, and now, Erra took her with and God alone knows what she’s teaching her. Three individuals from that family have chosen to pour their knowledge into this child. Why? On top of that, this girl had a front row seat to the mess that is Atlanta’s politics for years. She has close ties to the Pack and the Witch Covens. Also, she’s welcome at Hugh d’Ambray’s Kentucky castle. She worries me.
DA: She’s what, eighteen?
BD: Just about. We don’t have an exact birth date.
DA: Young. Independent. And probably has a shit load of power. Find her for me, Bruce. We can’t get Erra, we lost Daniels, d’Ambray was never an option, but we can still get Julie Olsen. We can’t afford to pass on this one. The ruling family of Shinar aren’t the only ones waking up. We need the knowledge in her head, or we’re going to get outclassed fast.
BD: I’ll find her. The question is, how are you going to convince her to join us?
DA: She is an impressionable eighteen-year-old kid. Between the knights and the support staff, we have eighty thousand people who chose our side. Just get me to her, and I’ll take it from there. Make this a priority, Bruce.
BD: Understood, Grand Master.
Knight-Inquisitor Dolivo left the room.
DA [holding photograph of Erra]: What do you think about woman, Tim?
TH: She’s very dangerous, Grand Master.
DA: I’m sure she is. What was it Bruce said? Trouble.
TH: Yes, Grand Master.
DA: When you get to my age, Tim, you realize that playing it safe isn’t always the best strategy. After all, what’s life without a little trouble? Don’t write that down. We wouldn’t want Knight-Inquisitor Dolivo to lose his beauty sleep.