Fallback

Celestalis enters the medlab, supported by Xer0.

He lies on the couch, then closes his eyes. Thrill removes his armour, piece by piece, revealing burns and blood blisters on his skin.
She spends half an hour operating devices on him, then, when she’s finished, Lawrence looks asleep.
Frida is waiting in a corner. She looks at Xer0, who nods and sits close to Celestalis, she then looks at Thrill and exits the medlab. Thrill steadily follows her.

They both enter a lounge room and sit on a pale blue bench. Frida lifts her chin “So?”
Thrill shivers “Oh, at first it went very well. We parachuted on Nova Venetia at night, as agreed. Ash was jamming their systems. Xer0 hacked the hatch in 30 seconds and we breached in.
Everyone was silent, even Djehan was fast and moving slyly. I didn’t agree at first, but Lawrence was right. Then Ash sat in the lotus position and started accessing their system. I hate it when her AI half takes over, but she looked like she knew what she was doing.

Then the black guards ran in. Oh, fuck, Frida! Lawrence started moving very fast, but his eyes looked like holes, black holes on a ghost. I had to look away and concentrate on shielding Ashling from the guards.
Djehan was grinning while she made her way through the soldiers with her grey machetes. At one point she started singing a children song.
Xer0 was laughing out loud. She danced around cutting everything with her claws.
When Ash opened her eyes, no guard was standing. We escaped to the roof and ignited our backpacks.”

Frida says nothing, sipping green tea from a cup. Then she turns towards Thrill again “And we have got it, right?”
Thrill shakes her head “Yes, yes. We have it. Ash and Djehan are on stasis downstairs. They should be fine, ten to twenty days.” She gulps her tea down, then shivers again.
“Frida, I don’t know if I want to stay. Now I know why everyone’s afraid of the Crimsons.
I’m trained and skilled, but that was too much! It’s insane! I signed to be in a black ops crew, not to mess with cruel voodoo gods.”
Frida smiles “You will get used to this. It’s just business. Everything will be alright”.

 

After the crash

Frida enters Celestalis flat. She’s pale.

“I went and see the crash. Terra Gunship. Black, with red insignia, just like ours, Lawrence. Black Guards of Nova Venetia”
“I know, Frida”
“Did we take it down?”
“No, Frida. No idea who did it, actually”

Frida opens the small fridge, pours herself a glass of vodka, gulps it down. She turns to Celestalis.

“We hacked their signal, Lawrence. They’re bombing Hangars. From tomorrow.”

Six impossibile things before breakfast

1.
The white Lancia-Chrysler Delta lands in front of the Marcianum school for foster children. A slender lady in a dark long dress and a large brimmed hat descends from the hover car. Her pale skin is mostly hidden by big, black sunglasses. She looks thirty-something.

The door opens and a middle aged woman appears. ‘Countess Orsini! It’s an honour for the school to have you here today, we…’
The lady in black raises a hand and stops the woman ‘thanks Director, now where is little Lawrence Gabrieli?’.
The woman gestures, clearly excited, pointing towards a corridor ‘He’s waiting in my office and we would really thank you for your donation, it is such…’
But the lady is already walking in the office direction. She opens the door and faces a seven year old child with long hair, holding a blue backpack.
The lady smiles and extends her hand: ‘I’m Frida. Are you ready to go?’.

2.
The hover car dives in the lagoon, suddenly turning dark-blue on the exterior. The child covers his face in terror, but Frida touches his hands ‘it’s all under control, no more car crashes for you’.

Lawrence looks astonished while standing in front of a huge window: ‘I can’t believe this!’ Outside, algae and fish are passing by.
The lady raises a thin eyebrow ‘nothing an architect and a couple engineers couldn’t take care of: my grandfather decided we weren’t going to leave our palace by any means”.

3.
‘Lawrence dear, what’s wrong with Isabella? Her mother told me you don’t want to see her anymore’. The boy stands still, looking at the muddy streams of water beyond the window ‘she spent the whole saturday’s party talking with another guy’.
The lady steps closer ‘well, but…’
The boy turns and grabs her wrists ‘I don’t trust her, Frida. I don’t trust her anymore!’

4.
‘And you think smashing the teeth of a boy just because he drew a swastika on your book is a valid reason? Did I teach you wing tsun for that?’
Frida holds the pad with the teacher note until her fingers turn blue.

5.
The man in a black armour with red details rushes in the huge hall, decorated with Tiziano paintings. ‘Frida, I’ve got to go. The bastards wanted me to blow a whole quarter of civils. They will report me to martial court. I made sure no one will ever bother you’.

6.
The Agusta-Huawei helico silenty lands on the flat roof. It is all black with red details. A thirty-something lady wearing large sunglasses jumps down from it. Something big is burning in the distance.