From the heights of the Fabrdyn aviform apparatus, Illander Rehdon gazed down upon the smouldering ruin amidst the shuttle yard and the tiny pale dots signifying cargo and clearance vehicles moving around it in steady, contrasting flows. Behind him, in the aircraft’s palatial lounge, Astrid Sodabrucke paced nervously, her secretary reclining on a divan, both watching the news projected from the floor-to-ceiling wall-screen with obsessive, fearful focus as the vessel tilted amidst buffets from the rarified air. The motion-board depicted a prim female anchor of indistinct extraction who spoke in a measured monotone. “The culprits of yesterday’s tragic KASC bombing, which claimed the lives of a East Federation delegation and the Consortium Board, with the exception of Eidos Kryos, who had recently resigned, have yet to be identified. The grim event occurred during a diplomatic ceremony intended to improve relations with the East Federation, prompting some to suspect a political motivation.”
Sodabrucke shook her head. “Its so surreal, I feel as if I could wake up at any moment.”
“I know quite what you mean.” Rehdon replied.
“Suspect a political motivation? How could it be anything but?” the secretary, Mercedes Slate muttered to no one in particular.
“Just because a raptor dives underwater doesn’t mean it wants to swim,” enjoined a garish voice from the doorway. The trio turned to behold a crimson-haired man, with bright green eyes, dressed in form-fitting athletic attire of amethyst, draped with gold and baring manifold branching blue-purple and yellow extensions which trailed behind him like the prey-thick tendrils of a phosphorescent anemone.
“Mr. Amberleece,” Sodabrucke blurted with delight. “I didn’t get a chance to properly thank you-“
The man held up a hand in supplication.
“No need for thanks, and please, call me Devik.”
The redhead took the woman’s left hand and pressed it warmly, a wide smile gracing his wide, angular face. Thereafter, he looked behind the woman to the elegant green-coated man standing at the window.
“How have you found my ship, Mr. Rehdon?”
Illander Rehdon turned from the window, hands in his pockets.
“Most wonderful. I’ve heard it described as The Progenitor’s equal. I’m not disappointed. And like my dear lady, I should wish to extend my thanks for your hasty hospitality.”
“I couldn’t very well leave you down there in that chaos.”
Rehdon tilted his head, noticing a subtle sadness manifest upon the Fabrdyn executive’s visage.
“Vays was a friend of yours was he not?”
Devik was silent a moment and moved to the window, as if unable to weather Rehdon’s gentle, understanding gaze.
“Yes. I’m going to miss our conversations. He was a marvelous raconteur. The stories the man could spin…” a mournful smile flashed across Devik’s face, dissolving to a despondent anfractuous line as he pressed his hand to the translucent palladium pane that separated his soma from the unimpeded expanse of cloud-thin sky. “He once gave some food to a scraper during a routine inspection before he joined the board, and that the man was so thankful for the vittles, he taught him how to play the knulute. Problem was, when Vays got a handle on the instrument, he was overheard by the owner of a local nightclub who thought Vays was a professional musician. Got invited to play that night, and, for some reason that he couldn’t quite articulate, he accepted. Ha. Well, he wasn’t a hit, but he played good enough that no one complained and that’s all the nightclub owner was looking for. Vays was so pleased, he made a habit of patronizing that club and hired the down-and-out who’d taught him as his valet. That was the kind of man he was.”
“I’m sorry,” Rehdon said softly.
“Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault.”
Before anyone could say another word, a coterie of men and women equal in number, extravagantly garbed, filed into the chamber. Members of the mayoral convention that had survived the warehouse explosion.
“Late late, but no matter. Take a seat, ladies and gentlemen. Much to discuss,” Devik declared, gesturing to the numerous divans, couches and armchairs arrayed about the room, his melancholy giving way in totality to a inviting jubilance. The entrants did as they were bid and shortly were attended by a bevy of mechanical stewards rushing in and out with drinks and food.
“We are thankful of your harborage, Mr. Devik,” the eldest female among the newcomers replied. “We will need it. For we have a heavy charge.”
Sodabrucke leaned toward the conventioneers. “Reconstitution of the government.”