Age of Darkness – Scenes – Ren and Cell

Quiet fade up on two travellers sitting against a bartop. They’re leaning on it heavily, the structure holding their tired bodies up, mugs of wine lazily in hand.
 
They are dressed for cold weather, with functionality key to everything they have. Tools, weapons, bags and pockets - they are prepared.

REN, however, wears heavier armour on their shoulders and chest, with bracers and buckles on their forearms getting in the way of leaning comfortably on the counter. CELL is more fluid, with a copper robe flowing over the top of lighter armour, and their pointed ears and longer claws mark them out as a different species. CELL's sleeves are rolled up - they are at ease.

                      REN
                (whilst trying to lean on
                 the bar with their
                 forearms) 
          Argh. 
                (continuing to try
                 different angles)
          God - fucking - 
                (slamming their fist on
                 the bar top) 
          Fuck these things. They barely help
          anyway. 
 
They start unclipping the fixtures on their bracers.
 
                      CELL
          I don't know, honey. You're pretty
          good at getting your swords stuck
          in someone. You need some
          protection when it gets down to
          fisticuffs. [beat] And I mean,
          c'mon. It's you. We're in a bar.
 
REN stops. They share a look.
 
                      CELL (CONT'D)
          Keep them on.
 
Pause between them both.
 

                      REN
                (redoing the undone
                 fixtures, with a slight
                 smirk)
          You have a point.
 
CELL grins from behind their mug, eyeing up Ren before taking a deep drag of wine. REN settles on leaning on their elbows, resting their chin on their hands, and as they get comfortable they glance at CELL, raising their eyebrows.
 
                      REN 
          You alright there? I'm sure you 
          can take your time.
 
                      CELL
                (indignant, but
                 humourous)
          I'm fine, thanks. Do we not both
          deserve this? 
 
                      REN
                (laughing)
          Absolutely. 
 
REN takes up their own mug.
 
                      REN (CONT'D)
          Cheers.
 
                      CELL
                (loudly, as if making a
                 toast)
          Cheers to the Twilight Raiders! The
          finest purveyors of Ori -
 
                      REN
                (mid-drink, scrambling to
                 cut Cell off, faking
                 disappointment) 
          Woah, woah, come on now Cell. Don't
          go quoting that awful bard, we've
          spoken about this.
                (emphasised) 
          We're exploratory historians, not
          raiders. He wouldn't listen to me,
          but it plays far better in
          conversation [beat] and on my
          conscience.

                      CELL 
                (chuckling)
          Yes, yes, very true. [beat] Why he
          added Twilight to it as well, I
          still have no idea.
 
                      REN
                (laughing with them,
                 faking dramatics)
          Wasn't it something about matching
          the 'mystery he was struck with
          upon meeting us'? God, he was
          exhausting.
 
They both laugh, reminiscing together.
 
                      CELL 
                (collecting themselves)
          Okay, okay. [beat] Cheers to
          Kallos. Another ruined city checked
          off the list. 
 
They drink after clinking mugs.
 
                      CELL (CONT'D)
                (sighing)
          Another empty remnant that tells us 
          sweet fuck all.
 
They both laugh dryly, quiet and resigned. They sit in comfortable silence for a while, taking sips of their drink. CELL pulls out one of their blades, a sharp and weighted dagger, and starts drawing on the table with the pointed end. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds pass like this.
 
                      REN
                (staring at the table,
                 without looking up)
          It's coming, y'know. I can tell.
          For better or worse, things are
          gonna change. [beat] And there's no
          telling for sure if people like us
          will see it through.
 
                      CELL 
          Well, yeah. 
                (with quotation marks in
                 the air) 
          'It's' been coming for as long as
          I've been around. This world always
          has something wrong with it, this
          time it's just more [beat] final.
 
They both pause.
 
                      CELL 
                (wryly)
          Remember when we first met? [beat]
          That was one hell of a first date.
 
                      REN
                (surprised)
          Date? You call that a date? I
          stopped my excavation team from
          killing you when you almost
          decapitated one of them. 
 
                      CELL 
                (acting innocent, but
                 laughing)
          I didn't know who any of you were!
          My instincts were to protect my
          own and can you blame me, with
          what came next from the rest of you
          Null?
 
REN shakes their head, bemused, and takes a long drink.
 
                      CELL 
                (resolute)
          Yes, it was a date. You came to my
          rescue and I haven't left you alone
          ever since, so -
 
They lean across to get in REN's face.
 
                      CELL 
                (smirking)
          I'd say you're stuck with me.
 
REN pushes their face away, chuckling.
 
                      REN
          You stink of wine. And, for your
          information, we were expecting to
          find the corpses of our ancestors
          in that cave, not a group of live
          and violent Fey -

                      CELL 
                (softened, slowed down
                 friendly ribbing) 
          Yes, yes, I know, you've told me
          [beat] several times now. However,
          there's still not much room for
          good first impressions when I wake
          up in a cave and walk out to an
          angry mob trying to exorcise me.
 
                      REN
                (with quiet affection)
          You made a good one with me, for
          all that's worth. [beat] And I
          convinced the angry mob to give you
          a chance.
 
They both smile warmly. CELL goes to take a drink: noticing their mug is empty, they pout childishly.
 
                      CELL 
          Maybe they'll come for the wine
          first. That'd be the way to break
          morale. 
 
They begin looking around for the bartender, leaning over the bar to search.
 
                      REN
          Who are 'they'?
 
                      CELL 
                (still distracted)
          Y'know. [beat] Whoever it is that
          ends all of this. 
 
Pause. Cell gets off the bar and looks around behind them, taking a few steps to the left and right as they search.
 
                      CELL (CONT'D)
                (as they search)
          I suppose it could be a what, a
          'thing', a concept, rather than an
          army or a creature. [beat] Although
          I expect the Craven will have
          something to do with it. [beat] As
          they seem to do with most things
          right now.
 
As REN replies, CELL slowly makes their way back to the counter.
                   
                      REN
                (nodding) 
          All possible. The Ori weren't very
          descriptive. [beat] Sometimes I
          wonder if the Ori even knew at all,
          or if they were just guessing.
 
                      CELL 
                (back to paying
                 attention, but deflated) 
          Hah. Wouldn't that be amazing.
          [beat] Years of prophecy, entire
          populations fearing for their
          lives, and all based off a guess.
 
                      REN
                (wistfully)
          We can but dream.
 
After a moment, CELL reaches into their bag and pulls out a dusty scroll. As they carefully unroll it, REN sighs.
 
                      REN (CONT'D)
          It's not gonna say anything new
          this time, Cell. It didn't the last
          time, or the twenty times before
          that.
 
                      CELL 
          I know that. 
 
Pause.
 
                      CELL (CONT'D)
                (quietly) 
          It doesn't hurt to try, though.
 
They read it over again. The text is short.
 
                      REN
          It's a shame, really. 
                (struggling to believe
                 it)
          If we did a thorough search, which 
          I like to believe we did, then
          there was only one person in the
          entire city that saw what was
          going wrong.

                      CELL
                (preoccupied with the
                 scroll) 
          Yeah. 
                (scoffs) 
          For all the good it did them.
          [beat] It's not surprising though.
          They were living under Hallow occupation,
          regularly executing dissenters.
          [beat] When a cult’s beliefs are
          heralded as science, it's dangerous
          to even suggest they might be
          wrong. 
 
Pause, while they smooth out the scroll to examine some detail.
 
                      CELL (CONT'D)
          Gods, these people suffered so
          much, [beat] but then punished
          anyone else who tried to fight it.
          They were brainwashed by fear.
 
                      REN
                (staring out at nothing) 
          Exactly. Whoever wrote that, they
          must have felt so alone. So [beat]
          useless.
 
                      CELL 
          I know the feeling. 
 
                      REN
          Ouch.
 
                      CELL 
                (annoyed)
          Oh, you know what I mean. Not you.
          [beat] Being useless.
 
Pause.
 
                      CELL (CONT'D)
                 (defeated)
          You're right. Nothing new.
 
                      REN
          I'm sorry, Cell. I wish there was.
          [beat] We did good work in Kallos.
          Found important relics, like that
          scroll. 
                (reaching for Cell's
                 hand)
          Not everything has to have all the
          answers.

                      CELL 
                (annoyed, refusing Ren's
                 hand) 
          I know that, Ren, but when do we
          ever have any answers? 
 
That stops them both, and REN looks offended by the harsh words.
 
                      CELL 
                (angry)
          The planet is still dying and none
          of the knowledge we have is
          helping. None of the expeditions we
          keep going on has found us anything
          new, you did more five years ago
          with people who tried to kill me
          than you have done since I showed
          up! 
 
REN is silent for a while, a quiet anger bubbling within them. CELL pulls their knife back out and starts inspecting it.
 
                      REN
                (carefully, holding back
                 anger)
          I left that group behind because
          you helped me to see the evil in
          them. [beat] You saw what we were
          up to, the lengths we went to! You
          showed me that you have to have
          some sort of baseline, some sort of
          code to follow, and we both agreed
          we'd do it properly.
 
They pause, something catching in their throat.
 
                      REN (CONT'D)
                (quietly)
          Don't tell me now that that was the
          wrong choice.
          
CELL is the one to choke up now, sighing quietly and, after some hesitation, taking REN's hand in their own.
                      
                    CELL
                (With some sensitivity)
          We're doing it the right way.
          You're right. But someone still has
          to find answers, somehow.
                (becoming practical/pragmatic)
          What do we know so far? [beat]
          Something happened to the Ori.
          [beat] Well obviously something
          happened, they're all dead, but
          something more than just a civil
          war. The Apex back then were -

	          REN
			(cutting in)
          - Cell, stop. Going over this 
          won’t help you calm down.

		  CELL
                (getting more frustrated)
          But no one bothers to remember them! 
          We find their technology and make 
          our own broken version of it, we find 
          their relics and worship them like 
          idols. [beat] Argh, it feels like 
          everyone is just okay with not knowing!
 
They both pause briefly, CELL panting and sighing and REN looking at them with sympathy.
 
                   REN
          We all feel it, Cell. That's why. If
          we aren't okay with the world as it is 
          - if we don't at least try to carry on 
          - we'll go mad. Maybe someone will find 
          something. But it wasn't us. 
                (affectionately)
          Not this time, anyway.
 
They both stay silent for a moment.
 
                      CELL
                (quietly)
          And what happens when the Apex
          decide to try again? No one will be
          left to stop them.
 
Lights snap off. 

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