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Before his plane touched down in Dubai's international airport, the festivities peripheral to the Ascendancy's arrival had begun. This included a significant presence of behind-the-scenes security that made sure to coordinate every single step of his path between the runway and his first meeting.

The usual fanfare was present when Nikolai emerged from the militant aircraft, although the cut of his suit was far more the savvy businessman than a conqueror.

The horizon was largely identical to what he remembered. As was the temperature; the cold of Siberia had long seeped permanence in his veins. He squinted painfully through the sunlight, but forced a smile and waved at what press was allowed to be present before descending to the tarmac.

The limousine ride consisted of a torturous route through the capital. Two additional motorcades, identical to his, wove their own path to the target location. Without knowing which one held the Ascendancy, it was an additional measure to foil plots that might endanger his life. Similar measures would be undertaken throughout the rest of the tour across the arid deserts of Arabia, those and many more, but traditional methods were not Nikolai's sole means of defense.

Since leaving Moscow, Alric accompanied him almost every minute of the day. He was the only one in the Ascendancy's personal security team that could sense threats from fellow gods, and given Nik's suspicions, he anticipated no shortage of work to occupy Alric's attention. Of gods and men, one way they behaved in common: betrayal was thick as blood.

Walking behind the walls of enemy territory, Nik himself did not let down his guard either. It was a shame that his own Dominance required the effort. Since the fertile crescent was discovered by the birth of man, the people of the region knew peace for only one time in their history: during his reign. That was what Nikolai bred - unity - and now, an usurper sought to dig up the bones of the past. Little else infuriated him more than needless bloodshed.

And Nikolai would be the one to stop him.

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