HL – Sic transit gloria mundi

The dark marble walls at The Baths shimmer from the water reflection.

A group of residents is gathering at one side of the huge pool.

Djehan is sitting in the middle, wearing a black armor and a rifle on her back.
Hibiki is standing against a wall, the smoke of a cigarette coming from behind his mask.
Celestalis is wearing warpaint and is sitting nearby. Behind him, five Crimson Merchants stand in their black and red uniforms.

Some Realcov managers are sitting among the crowd as well

On the opposite corner, Countess Frida Orsini, a thin lady wearing a large hat and a long dress, barely moves her chin to let Lawrence know she’s there.

At the entrance, two Crimsons stand behind a metal detector, while two AI’s, Magali and Rhea, help scanning everyone entering the area.
“Eldtrich Commons” says a dangerous looking woman, sporting two katanas on her hips, while she’s granted access.
Ambassador, in her shiny silverish outfit, is typing on a datapad, watching and listening.

Celestalis stands up and lights a cigar. The crowd stops mumbling.
“We didn’t suffer major damage. All missiles were stopped by our countermeasures.
Drones and their firebombs left some marks around, but we will rebuild.
Sincerely, I don’t even think we should fight back Nova Venetia, they can’t wait for it!
The giant doesn’t bother an ant passing in his garden, and so will do Hangars”

Djehan looks up and stands. She doesn’t look stoned as usual. “De minimis non curat praetor, my father always used to say. The chief magistrate does not concern himself with trifles. It’s latin!”

Celestalis blinks and lights up “Latin was the language of the ancient empire of Rome. They had many wise sayings. “Sic transit gloria mundi, is one I like! Here flows the glory of the world. We should have it on flags around the city, under Hangars Liquides logo!”

People suddenly stand up, raising their fists “Yes! Let’s print flags! Let’s place them all around the city!”

A dark haired young woman stands up “Realcov will pay for it”.
A man raises his hand “I’m Gabriel Adler. Hauer-Bosch will contribute.”
Lawrence smiles “Count the Crimsons in. And we will maintain the defense systems active all around town.”

Hibiki Ochs walks towards the door, then stops, turns towards everyone “Per aspera ad astra!” he says, bowing. Then, he leaves.

“Through hardships to the stars”, murmurs Frida, while lighting a cigarette.

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.”

The faculties of a broken heart

 

The school teacher stands in front of twentythree children, all sitting behind their desks.
“..and that’s how the town got submerged. The pumping of water under the soil as a substitute for the extracted oil didn’t quite work out”.
A bell rings, the children stand up and run outside the class.
The teacher looks at the only one still in the classroom, who’s slowly walking out.
“Gabrieli! You asked for piano lessons, right?”
The child stops, removes the dark hair flip from his eyes and looks up “yes, mistress Rosselli”.
“Well, Miss Bianchi is only available to meet you now. She’s waiting upstairs in the music room. Now make your move!”

Lawrence runs up the stairs, the sunlight casting shadows through the windows’ iron bars.
He knocks three times on the door, and opens it after a while, since there’s no reply.
An old lady with long grey hair is reading a dossier, sitting at the grand piano.
Lawrence Gabrieli, Born March, 1 2440. Father: Daniele Gabrieli, deceased. Mother: Edith Winter, deceased. Brother: Peter Gabrieli.
The lady notices the presence of the child standing in the middle of the dark, dusty room.
Three large windows on the opposite side are covered by blue drapes.

She taps on the bench twice “Come sit here!”
Lawrence sits down, looks at the old, scratched Bösendorfer, an electronic keyboard inserted where the piano keyboard once was, then looks at the lady. “My father had a real one, a grand Steinway!”
“Oh, so you can already play, can you?” The child nods, looking at the keyboard.

The room door opens, a caretaker in her uniform appears “It’s time for a nap, sweety”.
The lady at the piano nods in agreement “See you tomorrow at the same time”.

Lawrence sits in his bed, looking very disappointed “…but Miss Giulia, I’m not tired!”
The caretaker pushes him down and tucks him in “All children must take their afternoon nap, now be quiet and sleep tight”. She switches off the small wall neon lamp and walks away.

The black hovercar flies over the green hills of Belluno, a factory passing by from time to time.
Edith Winter holds the child in her arms, smiling. Her hair fly in the sun.
“Mom, would one of us two have to die, who would you choose?”
Edith caresses the child dark hair removing the flip from his eyes “I would choose to die myself, Lawrence”. She kisses him and holds him tight.

Celestalis wakes up on the carpet. His neck is aching, his eyes are burning.
He reaches for a flat plastic flask, grabs a small black box and gulps down a painkiller, then two sleeping pills.

Outside of the big window, a dark cypher car crosses a yellow gravtaxi in the neon night.

[SOUNDTRACK]

RLCV NCRPT #15122499

To: Realcov Ceo – Dr. ###### ########

Dear Sir,

please find hereby attached the information you asked for.

Lawrence ‘madcat’ Celestalis
Commander of the Black Guards ot the Most Serene Republic of Nova Venetia
birthdate: unknown

Nova Venetia is the the suspended city floating over the now submerged Venice, a place everyone calls HoloVenice.
The fact that they used holograms to recreate the sunken city to keep atracting tourists is where the small republic gets its popular name from. That option was way cheaper than elevating the city and restoring it.

Nova Venetia gets its power out of oil pumping, which lowered the mainland level and flooded all Veneto region and part of what was once known as Northern Italy.

Celestalis refused to sanitize with explosives a zone in the mainland where civils were illegally living. He was referred to Martial Court but escaped with his personal legion before being arrested. His hackers managed to destroy all data about him and the élite which departed with him.

A man of culture and a lover of liberal arts, quite kind and nice to people, he is equally cold blooded with enemies.
Don’t be fooled by his behaviour and always remember where he had his nickname from.

At the moment leading Crimson Merchants Ltd., a company selling 20. and 21. century art.
There are rumours they may be thieves and smugglers, but we have no real proof about anything which is not the legal activities they lead.

His modus operandi has always been to disseminate the place where he lives with sleeping agents, so I suggest caution. He doesn’t seem to be a threat at the moment and I suggest further observation of him and his team.

Update: It seems that ‘criminal’ Celestalis, as he was called in a previous town, is re-joining his originary Black Guards élite.

Sincerely yours,

RLCV Agent //7654 23456 0046 //

 

Nihilism

 

Down in the blinding light, it’s getting cold
I’ve been worn out by the night, but I can’t let go

Celestalis leaned on the huge window, letting his training retreat in the back of his brain.
Outside, the black and blue city was endlessly glooming and shining under his eyes. The air was crystal clear, pollution was mostly gone by decades.

The sound in my ears exclaim I’ve been here long
The freedom hard to maintain, I should be gone

He pushed against the oblique glass to move away, grabbed an aluminum container of chicken masala and a Kingfisher beer from the fridge and sat on the zero-g leather couch.

Long have I waited here for nothing to come
The sequence of twisted turns, that can’t be undone

Music was unrolling from the hidden speakers in the walls, distorted and saturated in the remix version by a glitch musician.

Zei was away since a couple of months. They had agreed on a no contact policy, as usual in this kind of missions. Celestalis sipped some beer from the bottle and thought she should be on her way back at this time. She had passes to be granted access back in the city, she knew exactly which outposts were abandoned, which guards could be corrupted and how to hack the turrets.

A beautiful day, the flood only washing the want away
cool light in the sun, and you’re still where you begun

He smiled to himself. Warpaint, armours, weapons, gunships and still they couldn’t see.
He and Ash alone had taken care of twelve Black Guards. At dawn, they had sealed the corpses in bodybags and sent them back to Nova Venetia in a drone ship, hoping it was the last time.

Long have I waited here for nothing to come
The sequence of twisted turns, that can’t be undone

Celestalis stood up, walked in front of the large window and lit a cigar of cloned cuban tobacco. He touched a sensor and the window started whirring and slowly lifting up.
Blowing a cloud of smoke in the fresh springtime air, he let his training take over again.

[SOUNDTRACK]

Encrypted message – CMEncrypt 9.2

From: Celestalis <CMencrypt9.2>
Date: October, 1 2499 +GMT+02.00
To: CM <CMencrypt9.2>
Subject: New opportunity

Dear colleagues,

I’ve finally found a new base. You all know the previous city, among fascist cops, terrorists and psychos, was not going to work for us anymore.
I would have choked the fuckers one by one in a dark alley, but you know the rules: business always comes before pleasure.

The new town was abandoned back in the day due to over-pollution giving cancer to the majority of the population: when that was clear, the corporations scooted and who could followed. The others slowly died.

Looks like some researchers found the cure to cancer, at least to this form, and a corporation is coming back to produce the cure in large amounts.

The place is still empty, real estate prices are close to nothing and I want Crimson Merchants to be here first.

I’ve met Realcov big heads, the architects and engineers who built the place, and they’re alright in having new residents. They might have understood what we do, but guaranteed no one will bother us.

If they do, we will play hide and seek like the old times: no one will wonder about the corpses here.

This message is being also sent to the few who backed us up in the previous city, so that they know where to find help and shelter.

Find hereby attached the encrypted route to come here, I’ll see you soon with pleasure.

L.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Hangars%20Liquides%20south/118/241/2173