With the discussion of the blockade put behind them, an unfortunate and untimely inheritance from his recently departed brother, Claudius bent an eye to Laertes, the son of his most loyal steward Polonius.
“Come Laertes ascend the steps at my side, I wish to look upon the faded sun and see how Pinnacle City fares,” Claudius said as he held a hand out to his side in somatic command. He hooked his arm through that of his wife Gertrude and they began ascending the stairs in rehearsed tandem.
Polonius bowed his head, sending unspoken approval to his son. Laertes leapt up the steps, passing through the long, vague shadow cast by Claudius from the waning sun rays splashing though the hundreds foot tall gothic window near the Seat of the Spire. Laertes had never felt fear or awe in the presence of Claudius before, but he felt a momentary chill as he passed through the shadow.
Claudius looked to his side to ensure the son of Polonius was the requisite step behind him. “Your father speaks highly of you Laertes, and your father and the Spire are as close to one another as mind to heart . . . or hand to mouth.” At this he glanced back at Polonius with a crooked smile on this face. “And as I am the Spire, that closeness is associative. He says you have a request hanging in your mind and on your lips. Know that the words of the son of my Steward would never be fall on the deaf ears of the Spire. Please, dear Laertes, what is your request?”
They continued up the daunting stairs, their shadows becoming less ghostly as they neared the window. Even the atmospheric conditioners this high in the Spire could not keep up with the incessant dirt and dust that plagued this dreary planet. The light blazing through the windows cut beams of refracted light through the vault containing the Seat of the Spire.
“Other duties wrest my thoughts elsewhere, my Elder,” Laertes said confidently. This was not his Spire, but he knew etiquette dictated the use of formal titles. “Now that my duty is done, to see attention to your honorable coronation at the behest of my biologic, I request dismissal to return to my own Warspire.” He paused, knowing the complications and delicacies that Claudius was having with the current rule of law and contracts within the Triocracy. “Duties, I should add, that are not related to the current blockade of your home, Earth.”
Claudius looked at him skeptically, then slowly smiled as if realizing he was addressing an impressionable child. “One does not always have control over duties one must perform. Do you have the permission of your father?”
Polonius quickly shuffled to the Elder’s other side, remaining one step in trail. “Indeed. Not a minute but removed from your coronation he was hounding me to return to his duties and be gone from this dusty world. If it please you, let him return.”
“I suppose all formalities and pleasantries must eventually come to conclusion,” Claudius said with a sigh. “You may return to your duties, Laertes, given your father’s leave, as the wishes of a biologic trump even an Elder at times.” The sweetness of his words and tone flowed like warm honey to the tongue of Laertes’ ears.
Laertes’ shoulders relaxed, the chill melted from him. He smiled, bowed his head dutifully, and slowly fell from Claudius’ side as the ascension continued.
“Now, my nephew-son . . . come, walk at my side.”
Hamlet slowly made his way from the cast shadows of the trailing entourage, to the side of Claudius, ensuring to place his bio.node in privacy mode. He fell into step one pace ahead of the Elder. Gertrude narrowed her eyes in disapproval. The gesture of disrespect did not go unnoticed.
“Hamlet, why do you hide from the light? Why do you yet have a gloom cast about you?” Claudius asked without looking. “Your demeanor weighs heavily upon your dear mother at my side.”
“I think you’re mistaken, lord. Your son is too much in the sun,” Hamlet replied sarcastically, gesturing at the towering window before them.