Sunday, August 24, 2008


Three days after the dramatic denouement, he found himself in the midnight air beside the gunnery placements overlooking Ville du Coeur. Centuries ago, blood red thaumaturgical lines would have encircled the city during times of war, with the lights of the city streets serving as the intricate symbols casting the protective seal. Ville du Coeur would have beat a deep crimson in the cold night. There was no way to stem a feeling of romanticism and nostalgia in viewing the old daguerrotypes of the lost days.

Now, the thaumaturges worked their craft underground with particle accelarators. The old lines of faults, salt and blood were no defense to probability weapons, atomic leviathans and stealth dragons. Ville du Coeur during modern wartime was black and cold, the crenalations of Le Coeur, the cold-steel and glass skyscrapers, only illuminated if one wore night-vision goggles or during the fast and furious times when the anti-ballistic harpies were let loose against incoming MIRV missiles.

He was senior enough to walk the emplacements without answering to anyone first, much to the consternation of his staff. He didn't bother to take off his commandant livery--if there were any sniper able to get this close to Le Coeur, then she would deserve her target. And if Carcassone's slealth dragons were able to get past the basilisks and anti-aircraft artillery, then there's was nothing much anyone could do to save themselves.

He, as well as the regional commanders of the Northern Avalon Treaty Alliance, and the remaining battalions of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Expeditionary Forces not engaged in protecting the Government-in-Exile, were now simply waiting three days after Le Coeur had been evacuated of the civilian population.

It had been his duty to ensure that those who were not necessary to the war effort had left quickly, whether they wanted to or not. He had led preliminary Expeditionary Forces months before to chart out the safest route, and to eliminate any Carcassone submarines or krakens that might attack the retreating population. He had overseen the production of Class 3 Leviathans that could serve as civilian shelters if Nova Avalon were not readied, or if the convoy fell through a probability shift. And, three days ago, Alice had found him to say her farewell. Yes, he had ensured her and her husband a secure berth among the floating leviathan H.M.S. Abaresque, but he had not wanted to see her. But she had still found him at the airyards at Mt. St. Michel.

She had said, "I don't want you to think that I'm not grateful, or that I don't care about you anymore. I do. Please, I am worried about you. You've done enough. Certainly they can see that."

In return, he said, "If I don't come back, then I can stop loving you." And then he turned away from her.

That would have been a fitting end to a story, he thought. But here he was, in a deserted city, waiting for, what, his doom? An epiphany? Still breathing, feeling boredom at times, sadness mostly. And waiting for something, anything, to come over the horizon.

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