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[IC] In the East


Palaz dla Rosé

It was an imposing view, but that was not a good thing. Carlo stood still as the soldiers placed what could only be described as barricades on the outer ring of the Palaz dla Rosé, keeping the them in and the general public out. Things were still relatively calm in Suderia, but that was bound to change soon, not least because of how large a city it was and how trade was at the heart of its economic success. A city so interconnected, so full of people from different places and different walks of life was bound to be a melting pot for different things, in this case a disease so lethal that it had within a few days brought down an entire country on the other side of the world, and it threatened to do the same with his country. Hence the barrides, a weak barrier designed to instill in people the confidence that their government was still standing, able to solve the coming onslaught.

He knew better. He knew exactly what was going on, and how there was no way to escape, for most of the people out there. They would die, and then they would rise, an empty shell of their old selves, with the sole innate goal of eating others and turning them to the same condition. How could he believe such a thing? He had refused at first. He had been so stubborn in refusing to believe, and why not? It was such a ridiculous propositon, that the dead would rise and turn the living, that they were fighting a war for which nobody was prepared, against a threat that nobody had ever faced. Yet that Admiral had come a week ago, followed by an armoured lorry, and there he had seen the threat with his own eyes, and there he believed, and there he experienced the panic and the horror of knowing just how doomed they truly were, not only as a realm, not only as a nation, but as a race, as a human race. They were doomed, and these barricades, these so-called protections, they would be useless once the dead outnumbered the living.

"Minister." A Lieutenant Colonel approached him, walking up the steps to the entrance of the Palaz. "The barricades are ready. They should offer some protection from civilians, but you know how the situation will be once the nature of the threat changes."

Carlo nodded. "Yes Colonel, I know exactly how things will be once it becomes obvious we have lost control." He turned, heading to the inside of the Palaz, an waited for the Colonel to walk with him. "Will you be staying with us, Colonel?"

"Sì Minister. I have been assigned to command the detachment in charge of protecting His Grace and the Palaz." He paused for a second, then continued. "No matter the consequences."

Carlo and the Colonel crossed the main hall of the Palaz. The Colonel, always focused on his job, looked right ahead, except when he turned to address the Minister. Carlo, above all a civilian, felt increasingly nervous but, oddly enough, or perhaps quite logically, nostalgic. He looked sideways, trying to admire, to retain in his memory all the artwork, all the paintings, the sculptures and even the patterns on the floor and the chandeliers on the ceiling. He had sudden realisation of just how ephemeral it all was, how fragile the columns that kept society standing. He stopped walking when he reached the painting of Duke Ezzio IV. A simple man, Ezzio had been the Duke of Suderia when it joined Sartoria, and was a leading figure in the effort to balance industrialisation, which he considered fundamental to the progress of society, and nature and traditions, which he considered fundamental to the humanisation of society. Ezzio had been a good man, a wise man. The Palaz dla Rosé had been named precisely because of the rose garden planted by his father, which he had personally tended to while in the throne. Incidentally, the Ezzio Verzon was still blooming outside the Palaz, and the current Duke still tended to it once a week, a tradition that had remained unbroken since the times of Ezzio. What would happen to it now?

"Have you received any news from the north, Colonel?"

The Colonel, an uncomfortable look in his face, took a few seconds before answering, and even then his voice betrayed his usually calm demeanor. "Minister, I am not sure..."

"Please Colonel. I need to know."

"Very well." The Colonel sighed. "Porto Selenio and Porto Verale are close to collapsing. The informal safe zones are still standing, but for all intents and purposes, the people living within them are mostly certainly infected, or will soon be. The checkpoints were never that effective to begin with, and they did not fully surround their zones, so there are large unguarded areas through which the alzati could enter. Our best case scenario is that order will be maintained for the next 24 hours, but after that the military has orders to withdraw."

An somber silence, broken only by the sounds of soldiers closeby finsihin working on the barricades.

"Messelia is heavily guarded, and there the military has deployed teams to counter the threat in the less...affluent areas. They have had some success, but there was, well, an incident near the Square. It was contained, and there has been no press on it, but then they realised that the infection was already spread beyond the areas where the teams were operating. I have been told that most cities in the east coast will go dark within the next few hours, once the military starts retreating."

"Have you briefed the Duke on this?"

"His Grace received a more thorough briefing directly from the Royal Strategic Command. He knows more about the situation and either of us." He dropped his voice. "I have no doubt that there will be an evacuation soon. The Duke is bound to have a secure location he can go to."

"What about us? What about the people outside?"

The Colonel gave him a sad look. "Can a body survive without a leg?"

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