Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

LoneStarBelle: The Sunken Library

I highly recommend this short story by Katzushima. The following continues from it and The Masquerade.
Sam loved the smell of old books. No matter how much information could be obtained online these days, there was nothing quite like wandering the stacks of a great library.
Venice's Sunken Library was one such place, though Sam was surprised at the humidity levels, wondering if there weren't a better place for these treasured tomes. Guests from the reception had filtered down into this maze, discussing various topics. On a lark, she'd talked Drake Kipling into chatting up John Majors about "the merits of the Templar approach" before seeking out Lugosi again. She laughed to herself, imagining John in misery listening to the Templar pontificating. Rivals though they may be, it paid to have actual friends in the other factions.
Majors' voice crackled over the tiny comms device in her ear. "Hawthorn, do that again and I'll have you steri-wiping the surgical suite for Zurn."
Sam rolled her eyes, but feigned innocence, "What? Isn't that what the Council is about; fostering understanding?"
"No. It's about providing us all a semi-legal eye on what the others are up to." And with that he cut comms.
"Pompous ass," Sam said to dead air. Steri-wiping the surgical suite!
She'd come around a bit to the Lumie philosophy, especially since the vote of confidence from the Pyramidion—over Kiki's objections at that. Sam often did not toe the party line. Not that the Templars were complete saints, either. Firebombing entire villages when more surgical methods would be appropriate didn't fit her definition of a reasonable group of people. But Majors had fully drunk the Illuminati Koolaid. The Eye appreciated that not all Visionaries had the same vision, even if Majors did not.
Chuckling to herself, she resolved to repay Kipling soon. Right now, she had a mission to complete. Presently, she found Lugosi refereeing an animated discussion about order and chaos between a Dragon and a Templar. She slipped her elbow into the crook of his.
"Signore, how about that tour you promised me?"
His eyes lit up, and he absently smoothed his comb-over. "I would be delighted, Dr. Hawthorn. If you'll excuse me, sir, madam."
Despite what she'd heard from Geary and others, the Council Archives weren't completely mired in the eighteenth century. In fact, that was about where the Archive digitization project had reached. They'd maintained original copies of centuries- and even millenia-old documents and tomes, but most of the information since the 1700s had been catalogued and was available on the Council intranet. In many ways, that made Sam's job easier.
"Signore Lugo—"
"Please, Doctor, call me Antal. And may I call you . . . ?"
She smiled, pouring on a little Southern charm. "Samantha."
Dazzled, he returned her smile. "Ah! what a beautiful name."
"Thank you, Antal. The work you are doing is amazing."
"Thank you, Samantha, we have a relatively small staff. There's not much prestige in cataloguing the exploits of others, even if it is necessary and sometimes distasteful."
"Oh, yes. For instance—" Lugosi briefly searched the books in the stack they were walking past, before pulling a book off the shelf. "—have a look at this."
Samantha opened the book, a fourteenth-century report in the Venetian dialect tracing the course of the Black Death. Samantha read little Italian, but grasped the gist.
"Does this say what I think it does? The Plague was engineered?"
"Yes, and the anti-Amina component strongly resembles the infection on your Solomon Island."
Sam felt slightly ill. Lugosi took the book and returned it to the shelf. He put his hand on her shoulder.
"Samantha, are you all right? You're very pale."
"Y-yes." Accepting his support, she took a deep breath "The Black Death was a turning point in European history. But . . . all those people. . ."
"Yes. All those people, all those family lines, snuffed out."
"But why?"
"I have a theory that it relates to the device recovered from that train in Egypt, the twin of that which defiled Tokyo. Come, let me show you something we have been working on. Something a little more cutting edge than these old tomes. Arturo likes to call it 'The Room.'"
He led her deeper into the Library. Moving around a wall emblazoned with the Council insignia, they entered an expanded chamber filled with server racks. Lugosi stepped to a console and typed in a keycode.
"Our field agents have been feeding us data on various locations around the world for this project."
Samantha adjusted her glasses as schematics flashed past on the terminal monitor.
Lugosi continued, "I'm not fully familiar with the technical aspects of the Room. Like you, I am more at home with books than computers."
"Yes. Well, university libraries are far automated than they used to be. But I understand. I'm not a computer expert either."
Just then, Sam's earpiece crackled. "LoneStarBelle, this is Katzushima. . ." Sam listened for a moment, then turned to Lugosi.
"We need to find Minister Castiglione."

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