Within the Smoking Mirror

Outside, at Sweeney Ridge. Harry and Angela start off down a dirt trail at a mortal jogger’s pace. Angela looks around boredly, easily breathing through her nose. An exasperated look overtakes Harry’s expression. Eventually he looks to his sister.

HARRY
So, is it as annoying to you to go this slow, or is that just me?

Angela tilts her head to the sky.

ANGELA
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGH. Gods, I feel like a snail.

Harry laughs. They jog away from the POV.

HARRY
Do you have any idea how hard it is to hold six human speed records, and know you could have done it eight times that fast without breaking a sweat?

ANGELA
No, but I know I couldn’t stand it. That’s part of the reason why I teamed up with Naomi and… the others…

Cut to Alejandro, who slips into the trees. As he weaves his way stealthily through the woods with ease, shadow and light plays across his face. Wisps of dark fog also begin to impede on the panels. After a few panels of this, a black prosthetic foot comes down upon a twig (SFX: Snap!). Alejandro whirls around, half-cloaked in shadow. Standing right behind him is a painfully handsome Central American man wearing a dark business suit, a leopard-print tie (with light spots to make it subtler than it normally would be), and a watch with a large, black face that expels smoke. A stripe of shadow runs across his nose. He smiles and calmly pulls his right foot back. Alejandro straightens, narrowing his eyes.

ALEJANDRO
Did I not make it clear last time we spoke? I’m through with you.

TEZCATLIPOCA
My brother does not want you, Alejo, no matter how much of your own blood you spill, no matter how hard you try to curry his favor. You are too darkened by filth for his tastes.

Alejandro’s eyes widen a little. But he furrows his brow and juts his jaw, lifting his chin with what he thinks is dignity but is more defiance than anything else.

ALEJANDRO
That doesn’t matter. I renounce you.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Even at the cost of your gifts… your powers?

ALEJANDRO
Take them. Take it all, all the power from the sacrifices, everything. I don’t want any of it if it comes from you.

Tezcatlipoca grins. It’s a predator’s grin, with all the subtle ferocity that entails. He puts his hands behind his back and begins to circle around Alejandro.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Are you sure?

Close-up on Alejandro’s ear. He hears, from a long distance:

MIKE
Hey Jan! Meet my gang! Groupies, to the fight! [guitar riff] Groupies, meet assassins! They need death! Bring them to the Underworld!

Alejandro turns from his father and starts off.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Ah, yes. As I thought. It’s not the power you want to give up, is it? It’s what you did to get it. Just as well. Renouncing your power won’t change what you did.

Alejandro whirls on Tezcatlipoca, snarling, his eyes like that of a jaguar’s.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Nothing can, not even I.

ALEJANDRO
Are you done stating the obvious?

TEZCATLIPOCA
If you could, if it were possible, would you? Would you give up Sofia?

This causes Alejandro to settle and straighten once more. His eyes return to normal.

ALEJANDRO
In a heartbeat.

TEZCATLIPOCA
That eager to be free of her?

Alejandro narrows his eyes.

ALEJANDRO
You’re not that dense.

Tezcatlipoca grins.

TEZCATLIPOCA
No, but it almost got a rise out of you, didn’t it?

ALEJANDRO
Is that why you’re here? To taunt me? Is that how the mighty Tezcatlipoca punishes the wicked? If that’s how you want to waste your time and mine, punish away!

Alejandro spreads his arms apart in a “Come at me bro” manner.

TEZCATLIPOCA
I don’t have to. You are my son, after all, in more ways than you know.

Lacking a retort, Alejandro simply glares at his father. The god begins to walk away, his hands behind his back. Alejandro decidedly stays behind.

TEZCATLIPOCA
But I am here to ask a favor of you.

ALEJANDRO
A favor?

Alejandro laughs bitterly.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Yes.

ALEJANDRO
And why should I do you any favors?

Tezcatlipoca turns back to Alejandro.

TEZCATLIPOCA
I’m asking not as a god to his subject, or even a father to his son. I’m asking as a father to another father.

Alejandro falls silent, warily eyeballing Tezcatlipoca. The god begins to walk away once more. After a moment, Alejandro falls into step beside him.

TEZCATLIPOCA
What do you know of Alejandra Cruz?

ALEJANDRO
Alejandra Cruz? You don’t mean Ja-Cuze.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Yes.

ALEJANDRO
She’s your daughter.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Yes.

ALEJANDRO
I should have guessed.

TEZCATLIPOCA
She has gotten herself in over her head.

Alejandro sneers.

ALEJANDRO
Since when does that concern you? She’ll either come out on top or fail.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Do you take the same attitude with your daughter, then?

ALEJANDRO
I’m not you.

Tezcatlipoca smiles.

TEZCATLIPOCA
She is a hot-blooded young woman, who fearlessly spares no sinner her lyrical criticism. It would be a shame to lose someone with such potential.

Alejandro rolls his eyes, but doesn’t say anything, prompting Tezcatlipoca to continue:

But she has overstepped her bounds and challenged Los Comemierdas, though, which is led by Tunante, a powerful son of Mictlantecuhtli.

ALEJANDRO
So why not simply spirit her to safety?

TEZCATLIPOCA
Shame though it might be to lose her, the sun still needs to travel through the sky.

ALEJANDRO
You want me to protect her, then.

TEZCATLIPOCA
No. I want you to send your team to protect her.

Alejandro stops, giving Tezcatlipoca an incredulous look.

ALEJANDRO
Why? They’re mostly new to their powers.

TEZCATLIPOCA
Which means they aren’t as well-known as you.

ALEJANDRO
I won’t risk them. It may be a shame to lose your Ja-Cuze, but each of them has just as much potential, and they outnumber her.

TEZCATLIPOCA
That is true. There’s also only one Tunante.

ALEJANDRO
And how many mortals does he command?

TEZCATLIPOCA
That’s hardly a concern.

ALEJANDRO
Says the god.

TEZCATLIPOCA
So far your team has conquered every challenge they’ve come across so far without spilling so much as a drop of their own blood.

Tezcatlipoca scents the air and grins before proceeding:

That is, until now.

Alejandro stops and turns his head as if to go but thinks better of it. Tezcatlipoca stops and turns to Alejandro.

ALEJANDRO
That only proves my point.

TEZCATLIPOCA
What, no Alejo running to the rescue?

ALEJANDRO
Assuming you’re telling the truth… they can handle it.

Tezcatlipoca grins.

TEZCATLIPOCA
So you’re telling me that you trust them to take care of each other?

ALEJANDRO
That’s not what I —

TEZCATLIPOCA
She has escaped danger, by the way. For the most part. So you were right.

Alejandro crosses his arms.

ALEJANDRO
And if I refuse?

TEZCATLIPOCA
I cannot think of any better than a son of Mictlantecuhtli to spill Alejandra’s blood in the proper way.

The god chuckles at Alejandro’s look of disgust.

ALEJANDRO
So if my team fails miserably and I get them out of there before they can come to too much harm…

Tezcatlipoca smiles magnanimously.

TEZCATLIPOCA
I will not be offended. And if your team succeeds…

He spreads his hands to silently indicate the possibilities. His son gives him a suspicious look.

ALEJANDRO
Fine. I trust we’re through here, then?

Tezcatlipoca idly looks at his smoking mirror watch as if checking the time.

TEZCATLIPOCA
One more thing.

Alejandro rolls his eyes to the side, clearly irritated.

TEZCATLIPOCA
I’m curious: you’re so concerned about your daughter’s well-being, but surely you must know that, while she’s with you, she will never have a patron.

ALEJANDRO
I’m not to blame for that.

TEZCATLIPOCA
If not you, then she is. After all, she won’t accept any other in your place.

Alejandro stares at his father.

TEZCATLIPOCA
So why not ascend? You’ve been putting it off for a very long time now. It will solve so many problems. The shinobi, for example. And Sofia will finally have a patron.

ALEJANDRO
No. If Quetzalcoatl won’t accept me, then I want nothing to do with the rest of you.

TEZCATLIPOCA
You cannot avoid it for eternity, you know. Fate catches up to us all.

This time his grin is distinctly feral and entirely humorless.

Besides, we could use a god of hypocrisy. Your symbol could be a little burned girl.

He breaks into hearty laughter. His son’s face goes stone-cold.

ALEJANDRO
I’m done talking to you.

Alejandro turns to leave. As he does, his father leaves this parting shot:

TEZCATLIPOCA
Say hello to Tlazolteotl’s daughter for me, Alejo! You know she’s just dying to eat your filth. And you have so much to give her.

His laughter rings out over the trees (SFX: HAHAHAHAHA…) as Alejandro walks toward the viewer, cold fury on his face.

Within the Smoking Mirror

God-Touched Nut_Meg