Genre: Contemporary, Dark, Mystery
Summary: Our universe is a system of thieves and liars, killers and whores, and you're staring into the sun. Giancarlo Salomon is dead, and no one even has the illusion of choice anymore. The king is dead, and until we know who needs to suffer, everyone will. Where is everyone, Chief Templeton? Can you tell me the crevices The Empire has disappeared to? Until you can, let's play this game.
A/N: There phone conversations lay so much of the plot foundation, here. Some of it may require some jigsawing with the Empire City timeline, but all in all I have to say I'm happy with the little web that's been woven. Julian, you're beautiful and so, so dangerous. These two are a formidable pair, but as you can see, their mutual distaste for trusting the other very often gets in
Document One –
Telephone Conversations Between Giancarlo Salomon and Julian Kendrick
December 15, 2006 – March 18, 2008
The following telephone recordings were provided to Lieutenant Dan Tomlin by private investigator Christopher O’Connor shortly after the publication of the obituary of Giancarlo Salomon. According to O’Connor, he was involved in a privately commissioned investigation surrounding The Empire and its chief operatives prior to Salomon’s murder. The investigation was aided by evidence provided by a third party that O’Connor declined to identify. Evidence included two digitally recorded phone conversations, which O’Connor and his partner treated as irrelevant. Since the time the investigation began, and following the death of Salomon, an unexpected delivery of five more phone conversations was posted to him from a remailing service. While the validity of these digital recordings is still questioned, preliminary verification proves that the voices belong to Giancarlo Salomon (who received the calls) and Julian Kendrick. The conversations began in December of 2006, prior to the death of Dr. Timothy Calohan. Only one other conversation is logged through the following year. Following Alistair Richards’ disappearance in October of 2007 and continuing until March of 2008, five more conversations were made from Julian Kendrick to Giancarlo Salomon, ranging in length from thirty seconds to just over ten minutes.
All seven telephone conversations are presented here.
December 15, 2006
Giancarlo Salomon: Speak.
Julian Kendrick: Are you alone?
Giancarlo Salomon: Why are you calling me, Julian?
Julian Kendrick: We haven’t spoken for what? Six months? I figured I’d give you a surprise.
Giancarlo Salomon: Are you drunk?
Julian Kendrick: Most likely.
Giancarlo Salomon: I don’t have anything to talk to you about.
Julian Kendrick: Sure you do. But I understand if this is inconvenient. After all, you could be entertaining your precious Sebastian for all I know. In which case, pardon my interruption.
Giancarlo Salomon: I’m going to hang up the phone now.
Julian Kendrick: Does he know about the time you threw me against a wall and said you’d break my hips by--
September 24, 2007
Giancarlo Salomon: Speak.
Julian Kendrick: Salomon. [his voice is ragged, punctuated by heavy breathing]
Giancarlo Salomon: Julian, I’m going to offer you a bit of good advice and suggest that you forget this phone number.
Julian Kendrick: I’m scared. I’m really scared.
Giancarlo Salomon: I heard. High Emperor. It doesn’t suit you.
Julian Kendrick: What am I supposed to do? I have no idea where this thing is even going. It was all fun and games before, but now…
Giancarlo Salomon: If you want to continue to satisfy yourself, Julian, you have to learn to control yourself.
Julian Kendrick: What if I die?
Giancarlo Salomon: [a pause] Then I apologize for leaving The Empire in the hands of such shoddy management.
Julian Kendrick: Come back. Come back and it can all be better. They’re scared of you. Whoever this is, they’re scared of you. They have to be. You’ve got Joy on your side. She can carry the vote. Come back, please. I’ll do anything you want.
Giancarlo Salomon: No, I don’t think you will.
Julian Kendrick: Just let me stay alive. I can’t stand up to this when I know it’s him.
Giancarlo Salomon: Like I said…
Julian Kendrick: You don’t want me dead. I know you don’t. You just can’t stand me. And it’s okay. I’ve been thinking about retirement, anyway. I’ll disappear. I’ll fall off the face of the Earth, but just please come and take this shit out of my hands!
Giancarlo Salomon: You know I can’t. You know I won’t. Our business isn’t in sport killing. It was a misstep, becoming involved in the first place.
Julian Kendrick: Just because you landed your trophy wife doesn’t mean you can just turn! You were the first Emperor! You made this! And just because that psychopath is out of the hospital and telling you what to do, you’re doing it? Because you won’t let him tell you where not to stick your dick, you’re giving in to every other demand he has? Is it guilt? Is it something else? Regale me.
Giancarlo Salomon: You turned belligerent awfully quickly, for someone who called asking for my help.
Julian Kendrick: I hate him.
Giancarlo Salomon: And I hate Evan Millirons, but I’m not going to command you to stop thinking of him when you’re fucking your flavor of the month. What is it with you, anyway?
Julian Kendrick: I just don’t know what to do. I’m sorry.
Giancarlo Salomon: At least you apologize well enough. You’re like a dog, you know that?
Julian Kendrick: Don’t you debase me, you sonofabitch. We could have been a great team. You know we could have.
Giancarlo Salomon: [laughs darkly] Don’t tell me this is all because you still want to sleep with me.
Julian Kendrick: If I understand one thing about you, Salomon, it’s that we both know the way it feels to have desire following us everywhere. Everyone wants you. That almost goes without saying. It’s not because of that. And it’s not because you turned me down. It’s because you—
Giancarlo Salomon: Oh, do go on. This has to be good.
Julian Kendrick: You know better than me. You’re a businessman. You’re a leader. I only try. It’s hard enough for me to hold together what I do have. Please. I’m asking you kindly. Please come back to The Empire. Help me.
Giancarlo Salomon: [a pause]
November 5, 2007
Giancarlo Salomon: Retiring, but falling further away from the land of the living. I am not surprised by your lack of self-restraint.
Julian Kendrick: Don’t call it retirement. Is this line secure?
All right, that was a stupid question. Don’t call it retirement and correct anyone else you catch saying it. I'm just laying low.
Giancarlo Salomon: I'm sorry, but if I'm not mistaken you just gave me an order.
Julian Kendrick: If I'm not mistaken I can dredge up every legal document you've buried concerning Sebastian Uliassi.
Giancarlo Salomon: Trust me, Julian, I've not forgotten about your old chestnut of a blackmail scheme.
Julian Kendrick: Why don't you come along, Giancarlo? Bring the psychopath if you want. Leave it all behind.
Giancarlo Salomon: You may think of it as freedom, Julian, but I rather consider what you've done to be the highest caliber of cowardice I've yet witnessed.
Julian Kendrick: I have everything I've ever wanted.
Giancarlo Salomon: At the cost of so much you don't realize you could have.
Julian Kendrick: Such as…? A serial killer wife? A crooked business?
Giancarlo Salomon: Discipline, Julian. This conversation, over and over with you.
Julian Kendrick: However much discipline it takes to run your empire, it takes to run mine.
Giancarlo Salomon: And you were the one who called scared as a rabbit the minute you had to take over. But that island of yours… it's always been your vacation from responsibility, hasn't it? Now you reside there. And what does that say?
Julian Kendrick: To you I'm sure it says a helluva lot more, because you do tend to overanalyze things a bit.
Giancarlo Salomon: So how long until you haul off and kill everyone who cares about you this time, and then pick up the phone again and miraculously remember my number? Or will you finally just go back to Evan?
Julian Kendrick: Your number isn't difficult to remember.
Giancarlo Salomon: My private line is. Four people know this number, and the only reason I didn't change it after I found out you had it is because I respect you, on some strange level. That, and I had no fear of it being distributed, because I know you, Julian. You probably keep this number stitched inside of some old thing, only to be exhumed after a laborious ritual and in most dire circumstances.
Julian Kendrick: An old family locket, actually. Not so difficult to make my way inside, but it's a bitch to find. Sounds like some friends of yours. Giancarlo, I trust you to hold up my name while I'm gone. I didn't call you to play psychiatrist.
Giancarlo Salomon: It always ends up that way.
Julian Kendrick: Because you think you have me all figured out. But you really don't.
Giancarlo Salomon: Last time I saw you, you were sweating bullets over Cory Henderson’s death. Either that or it was the cocaine. I can’t tell with you, sometimes. You were a lot less confident, though. Maybe I don’t have you figured out. But you’re a piece of work, nonetheless.
Julian Kendrick: You’re one to talk. I let The Empire believe we were mortal enemies because it lent me a certain mystique. You went along with it. You draw my bath for me one evening and tell me to relax, that everything’s going to be all right. Then you’re pretending like you don’t even know me again. I hate men like you.
Giancarlo Salomon: There's going to come a day that I'll say “Come back, Julian. Come back and I'll help you straighten this out.” I don't know what factors will have to align for that to happen, but sitting here and thinking of a world without you there to be the only person I'll allow to contest me, to tempt me… I just think the universe is going to fall out of balance, somehow, if you stay away too long.
Julian Kendrick: Funny how you're voicing your own insecurities, but you still manage to make them sound like my problem and my fault.
Giancarlo Salomon: Evan Millirons. The issue still stands. Those boys of yours don't suit you, and neither does Noel Thackery and you know it. Let's play psychiatrist.
Julian Kendrick: I refuse. What do you feel like doing right now?
Giancarlo Salomon: Don't.
Julian Kendrick: I won't talk about Evan to you. Tell me how you feel, Giancarlo. Your voice is getting that bite to it that I love so much. You wanna throw me against a wall?
Giancarlo Salomon: This conversation is going nowhere, I'm going to hang up.
Julian Kendrick: No. You're not. You can marry the pretty Empress who doesn't love you and you can propagate the family name, you can hide behind duty and business as an excuse for keeping Sebastian around, you can lie and lie and lie about everything up to and including how pissed off you are that these boys and Noel Thackery are on the island with me, but you can't hide one thing. The fact that I know how fucked up you really are. Your demon.
Giancarlo Salomon: You called to hear me say it, didn't you? This is better than sex to you.
Julian Kendrick: Is it? That’s up to you.
Giancarlo Salomon: I want to tie you down and beat that smirk off your face. I want to lash you to a hot water pipe in the basement and kick you in the gut until you heave blood. I want to pistol whip you. I want tears on your face. I want you to admit that I'm right, that you're weak-willed, and that if I ever came so close as to wade into the territory of The Empire you'd never see another motherfucker as ruthless as me. And that's what you can't handle.
Julian Kendrick: [a long pause] Is that a—
Giancarlo Salomon: I'll fuck you whether you want me to or not, until you scream and bleed and beg me to stop. And I’d just be getting started.
Julian Kendrick: Oh.
Giancarlo Salomon: Goddamn you, why do you pull this out of me?
Julian Kendrick: You can't rape the willing.
Giancarlo Salomon: I wouldn’t—
Julian Kendrick: That is exactly what you’re describing. But don’t worry. It’s okay. I just wanted to hear you say it. I’m not scared of you.
Giancarlo Salomon: Does that appeal to you, Julian? Wondering how far I’ll have to go until you are scared?
Julian Kendrick: Oh. You have no idea.
Giancarlo Salomon: Neither do you.
Julian Kendrick: You want to fuck me?
Giancarlo Salomon: Stop.
Julian Kendrick: You want to fuck me? Hm?
Giancarlo Salomon: [overlapping] Stop.
Julian Kendrick: Did I arouse you, getting you to talk about it? Going to go present that little gift to Sebastian, or are you going to take it out on someone else?
Giancarlo Salomon: I want you to suffer at my hands.
Julian Kendrick: Do you want to fuck anyone, or is it all that? Discipline, duty, punishment?
Giancarlo Salomon: [a pause] I'll tell everyone to expect you back soon enough.
Julian Kendrick: Please don't take this out on anyone who doesn't deserve it.
Giancarlo Salomon: Trust me.
Julian Kendrick: Oh, I do. Emperor.
Giancarlo Salomon: Hn.
November 22, 2007
Giancarlo Salomon: Really, Julian? Today, of all days.
Julian Kendrick: Just a reminder, I suppose, to be thankful for what you have.
Giancarlo Salomon: I don’t know whether to construe that as a threat or a genuine show of friendship.
Julian Kendrick: Are we friends?
Giancarlo Salomon: Well, maybe it’s the spirit of the holidays getting to me, but I do miss your Thanksgivings.
Julian Kendrick: Though they were by no means traditional, I can’t help agreeing.
Giancarlo Salomon: It’s been what? Three years?
Julian Kendrick: Two. You let me entertain you while Sebastian was in the hospital.
Giancarlo Salomon: Ah, yes. No wonder I didn’t remember.
Julian Kendrick: Hn. I wouldn’t want to remember that night either, if I were you.
Giancarlo Salomon: So what’s on your docket this year?
Julian Kendrick: Well, the gentlemen and I were going to enjoy dinner on the balcony, shortly. It’s about 70 degrees right now but we’re worried it might cool off when it gets dark. Noel went shopping on the mainland yesterday and Alistair is surprisingly good at cooking.
Giancarlo Salomon: That actually sounds remarkably traditional, considering your situation.
Julian Kendrick: I haven’t gone into what happens after dinner.
Giancarlo Salomon: [sighs] Dinner at Joy’s. Her parents are old, her father has cancer, we probably don’t have many Thanksgivings left.
Julian Kendrick: Sounds to me like you’re rationalizing why you would put yourself through that.
Giancarlo Salomon: I choose to at least try and be normal.
Julian Kendrick: I’ll have your medal shipped out tomorrow. Congratulations. And what of the Family?
Giancarlo Salomon: I have no family.
Julian Kendrick: You know what I mean, Calohan was big on holidays, and none of us really had families of our own to pander to. Except maybe Joy, come to that. Wow, you lucked out.
Giancarlo Salomon: All of the traditions are falling apart.
Julian Kendrick: Do you think it has to do with me being gone?
Giancarlo Salomon: That, and Aaron has a clear hatred for anything resembling Family.
Julian Kendrick: Stands to reason. I hate to think what would happen if he thought of everyone so fondly. How is his brother, by the way? Do you know?
Giancarlo Salomon: I do. Supposedly he’s living with his boyfriend now. They have a place in the city. He’s well protected.
Julian Kendrick: Good. Though I don’t have much of a capacity for shock these days, I reserve a soft spot in my heart for John.
Giancarlo Salomon: A soft spot, not the soft spot?
Julian Kendrick: I’ve changed a lot, believe it or not.
Giancarlo Salomon: [chuckles] You’re rather easy to talk to, today.
Julian Kendrick: I’m intoxicated by the spirit of giving. And a little bourbon.
Giancarlo Salomon: Occasionally. I’m too busy to worry that much about making social calls.
Julian Kendrick: But sometimes when you want an outside perspective, it has to be difficult to look around and see only the payroll and Sebastian. And your fiancée. With whom I severely doubt you have anything in common. Even I didn’t get along with Joy.
Giancarlo Salomon: She has her preoccupations and I have mine. And you’re projecting.
Julian Kendrick: Am I?
Giancarlo Salomon: Don’t test me. You might lose your only friend.
Julian Kendrick: And yet you keep picking up the phone.
Giancarlo Salomon: In hopes that the conversation might not veer into the sexual. I miss the civilized talks with you. We just managed a full three minutes, if you can believe that.
Julian Kendrick: I remember when I first joined The Empire, how it used to be?
Giancarlo Salomon: It’s like remembering something that happened years ago, something that will never be the same again.
Julian Kendrick: Sort of like high school.
Giancarlo Salomon: I wouldn’t know.
Julian Kendrick: Ah, yes. Would you take them down? If you could, would you just destroy everything they’ve done?
Giancarlo Salomon: Things were better under Calohan, after I left. I’ve gained perspective. I was never meant to be there.
Julian Kendrick: On the contrary, when it changed from crime to strictly murder, a lot was lost. Balance was gone. I think you took an undefinable thing with you when you called it quits.
Giancarlo Salomon: Discipline.
Julian Kendrick: Elegance.
Giancarlo Salomon: The Empire choked while it was gorging itself. Evan never had to be involved, it still would have fallen. I’m with the group I’ve chosen to invest my faith in.
Julian Kendrick: You speak as if it’s already over.
Giancarlo Salomon: Joy has agreed to leave it behind once we’re married.
Julian Kendrick: [a pause] Really?
Giancarlo Salomon: There’s nothing Aaron can do. The Empire is no threat.
Julian Kendrick: What if I came back?
Giancarlo Salomon: You wouldn’t. Not for that purpose.
Julian Kendrick: Is that why you’re humoring me?
Giancarlo Salomon: I’m not humoring you.
Julian Kendrick: If you have Aaron Fontana killed, I’ll make it worth your while. Once Joy steps down, it will be easy to rebuild.
Giancarlo Salomon: I’ve lost a good man while meddling in The Empire’s business. I don’t intend to lose more.
Julian Kendrick: It’s because of him.
Giancarlo Salomon: [a pause. His tone shifts drastically.] I made a promise.
Julian Kendrick: Why don’t you just marry him? Why all of these games, why all of this—
December 23, 2007
Giancarlo Salomon: I’m busy.
Julian Kendrick: Did you receive my card?
Giancarlo Salomon: Yes. It was foolish and bold.
Julian Kendrick: I also sent one to Evan.
Giancarlo Salomon: Why tell me that?
Julian Kendrick: No reason. I just felt like telling someone. He brought us together. It seemed fitting. What are you busy with?
Giancarlo Salomon: I’m sort of in the middle of something.
Julian Kendrick: That means the same thing. This has to be interesting. Now I’m curious. Besides, you could have just ignored the call like you did my last four. I think you secretly want to talk.
Giancarlo Salomon: I’m having doubts.
Julian Kendrick: I knew exactly what you meant. Oh, my. Oh, my, this is interesting.
Giancarlo Salomon: Don’t gloat.
Julian Kendrick: Sure, and I’ll ask a fish not to swim, while I’m at it. Are you planning something, Giancarlo?
Giancarlo Salomon: I’m sure I’m right.
Julian Kendrick: Oh, my dear. I’ve never heard you sound so unsure about something, though. You’re a terrible judge of emotions. I’m telling you this from the bottom of my heart. You don’t know what you’re doing because I can guarantee you haven’t thought about how anyone else feels.
Giancarlo Salomon: Maybe there’ll just be an arrangement.
Julian Kendrick: You’re gay, Giancarlo! There would have been an arrangement regardless. The whole goddamn farce is an arrangement. Or are you still in denial?
Giancarlo Salomon: He’s going to become a woman.
Julian Kendrick: I see. [a pause] Have you considered that you might not be attracted to him, after that?
Giancarlo Salomon: Watch what you’re saying.
Julian Kendrick: You’re relieved that I called because you know you need someone to tell you the truth!
Giancarlo Salomon: This is more important than how I feel.
Julian Kendrick: It absolutely is. That’s what you’re not seeing. If you’re willing to marry him eventually, you should have been willing to do that before you literally crawled into bed with a member of The Empire. Much as I may roll my eyes at Joy’s proclivities, I respect her enough to advocate for her.
Giancarlo Salomon: She doesn’t love me.
Julian Kendrick: But there is an agreement at stake. It’s monetary. In your case marriage is a business transaction. What’s going to happen if you violate that?
Giancarlo Salomon: Maybe I should take them down, after all.
Julian Kendrick: You’re going to cost yourself Sebastian as well, if that’s your motivation. He’ll see right through you. Don’t lose your men. Don’t lose your head.
Giancarlo Salomon: Why are you suddenly on his side?
Julian Kendrick: I’m on anyone’s side who isn’t blinded by the need to sanctify everything with bizarre traditions like marriage, especially when no one special benefits!
Giancarlo Salomon: I owe him more than I’m showing.
Julian Kendrick: You’re a terrible person. Welcome to the club.
Giancarlo Salomon: I owe him my life.
Julian Kendrick: [a pause. His voice perks up] Maybe there’s something here I’ve not heard about. Besides, there’s the sticky business of him being your adopted brother. Have you forgotten?
Giancarlo Salomon: I need to go. I need to think this through.
Julian Kendrick: Pull yourself together, and when you’re ready to talk again I’ll be eager to know just what secrets you’re keeping from me regarding the psychopath.
Giancarlo Salomon: Don’t hold your breath.
March 4, 2008
Giancarlo Salomon: Yes?
Julian Kendrick: I never got my wedding invitation
Giancarlo Salomon: Would you have been bride’s side, or groom’s?
Julian Kendrick: Depends on the bride, I suppose.
Giancarlo Salomon: Last time we spoke I wasn’t quite myself. I’ve come back around since then.
Julian Kendrick: I knew you would. That sort of devotion isn’t your style. Ready to tell me some secrets? Ready to play the same games we used to play half a decade ago? Giancarlo? I can stay up very late and we can trade stories the whole time.
Giancarlo Salomon: There’s a lot you’re never going to know.
Julian Kendrick: Oh, Giancarlo. You beautiful, dumb fuck. That’s a challenge.
Giancarlo Salomon: And? What are you going to do about it? You ran away.
Julian Kendrick: I can’t help but notice you sound a bit empty. Do I need to spark your passion before you’ll start indulging me?
Giancarlo Salomon: I’ve had to keep my mind on track. There are a lot of balls in the air right now.
Julian Kendrick: Any of them concerning things I might be interested in?
Giancarlo Salomon: Perhaps. You’ll know after the fact.
Julian Kendrick: I’ll know now.
Giancarlo Salomon: [he gives a dry laugh] What are you going to do? You’re an impotent coward. You’ve turned away from it but it’s still in your bones, the need to have that power again.
Julian Kendrick: Even if you asked me to come back now, I wouldn’t. I’ve grown beyond that.
Giancarlo Salomon: And yet I hear it in your voice. You’re still dangerous. Whom would you kill? Julian? If you had the chance? If I let you close enough would you wrap your hands around my neck? Because I think you would.
Julian Kendrick: As payback for what you’ve threatened to do to me? In a heartbeat.
Giancarlo Salomon: You wouldn’t have the strength left.
Julian Kendrick: [after a long pause] No. No, that isn’t it at all. This isn’t about any of that at all. You’re detached. You’re speaking to me. You’re not running from the conversation. You’ve put on your mask because you’ve had time to prepare. I’ve won.
Giancarlo Salomon: What are you talking ab—
Julian Kendrick: You just couldn’t stay away, could you? Tell me, was it a gambit from the beginning? Oh, this is exquisite if it was. I’ve earned a whole new level of respect for you.
Giancarlo Salomon: You take your own extrapolations way too seriously.
Julian Kendrick: Be careful. I won’t be there for you, so be careful.
Giancarlo Salomon: [a pause] Thank you.
March 18, 2008
Julian Kendrick: [after a long pause] Hello? You called earlier. What could possibly be the matter?
Unconfirmed Voice: Giancarlo can’t come to the phone right now.
Julian Kendrick: [whispering] Already?
Unconfirmed Voice: Goodbyyyyyeeee…
Giancarlo Salomon was confirmed dead on March 19, 2008. The time of the final call will suggest that Giancarlo Salomon was already dead at the time Julian Kendrick ostensibly returned his phone call. The pattern of communication does not suggest that Salomon had initially contacted Julian previously, supported by the unusual time of the call. The final voice heard is suspected to be that of Sebastian Uliassi. No cellular phone was present at the crime scene, suggesting that this private line is the phone line in the office of Salomon’s penthouse.