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You are Darius Duravi. You're being kept out of the loop, and you want in.

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You stand alone in the middle of a street. It's early May, you're in a flourishing city that is neither dangerous nor far from the battlefront, a city that is booming both economically and florally.

You're somebody that has enough money to provide for a few years of comfortable living, but can't afford to stop earning money for even a week. You're one of the people who considers counting money a chore rather than a pleasurable pastime.

In a matter of speaking, if you tilt your head and squint, you could be called a social elite.

You have a lot of places you could be right now, but you also have three unread messages on your phone.

"Get you ass over to Volkov 12, 12:45. -Alessandro"

How does this guy have your contact info?

"That's the Chicago Prime bar, fag."


You reluctantly punch the number into your contacts and with a little regret force your phone to acknowledge this guy henceforth. You have absolutely no reason to go there.

The other message is from Shanoa.

"The mayor wants to see you ASAP."

That would be... her dad. He's a success story among the fat cats of the Empire for rising from petty businessman to the relatively unattainable position of government official. It's been a long time since the rift between economic and political influence formed, and seeing a figure like Shanoa's dad in this day and age is certainly a rarity.

If your current situation has any sort of fiscal undercurrent, the head of house de Giraltido has at least heard of it. All you'll have to do is convince him to share the secret. You know a way.


>[] Go to Chicago Prime.
>[] Go to the de Giraltido residence.
>>[] Go to the de Giraltido residence.
aaand now I need to sleep, hopefully plenty of anons join in and keep this going until I wake up
>[] Go to the de Giraltido residence.
You decide that your home can wait for you some time yet, as you head off toward the horizon, hidden beneath high-rising citadels, whose windowless walls are obscured by beautiful trees.

It's always late spring in New Babylon City. Then it's always midsummer. After that comes comes cozy autumn. And it transitions into late spring once more.

Unevenly divided between three seasons, with summer haze receiving only its own three months, the year reminds you of the world. Spring and autumn lord over not only their territory, but also that of winter, with one occasionally receiving preference over the other, being given days or even whole weeks, depending on the mood of some unknown arbiter.

There is a dome over Babylon, and you know not who dictates the Empire's will to the skies. But you know that there is an Empire over your head. It stands as it has stood. You cannot grasp its true nature. The borders are open and filled with flying lead. The flags perched atop doorways, proudly waved by the winds, marking the de facto Imperial territory and separating it from what the common man is allowed to call his own.

But really, there are only two types of property. The kind that already belongs to the Empire, and the kind that will. But later.

You wonder, for a second, if all major cities are like this. You've been in a couple of them before, but only two others. And they both carried the same air about them as Babylon. One of complete dominance over the people.

And the people had nothing to complain about.
You walk along a familiar path, crossing roads that interject ever so often on your trajectory, like rivers that interrupt roads. Everywhere about you, a pleasant smell flies on the wind and wraps you in its nostalgic embrace. You take a deep breath and your lungs fill with fragrant air, granting you both life and pleasure from it.

Living in the Empire is like taking that deep breath. You walk amidst fortresses and war is never far from home, but it's the last thing on anyone's mind, because you're here and you feel great. You feel alive. You feel motivated and...

And alive. And death might be on the horizon, but it balks at your vitality. You and millions of others will gladly face it as a sea of arms, primed to fire, poised to strike.

This city is your little hive. Or rather, your massive hive. And you've got an appointment with King Bee.

You find yourself in front of a gate, next to it are high walls. White, naturally. Solid stone, perhaps. The mayor of a city like NBC could certainly afford it. You don't dare to think how thick they must be. The only thing you could see over them while coming up was coniferous trees. A tradition of any official Imperial residence.

You position yourself squarely before a terminal, a solid pane of glossy... something. You might call it glass. Or you might actually know what godforsaken material was invented specifically for this purpose. But you see your reflection in it clearly, and only the characteristic click betrays the camera within it. A voice comes out.

"Identify yourself."

Fucking formalities.

"Darius Duravi," you speak loud and clear, trying and failing to hide the irritation in your voice.

"Software version?"

The question sounds completely serious.

>[] "Why the fuck do you care?"
>[] "1.3.789.37.77."
>[] "Why the fuck do you care?"
>[] "Why the fuck do you care?"
"What the fuck do you care?"

You respond just as loud and clear as before, even though you're dripping poison at the tongue.

Not even a second passes after you spit the words out that you hear the voice on the other end announce "It's him." and the gates begin to open.

The massive panels that make up the gate, themselves made up of a mesh of stone and metal, split open and move away so smoothly and swiftly, you'd think they were made of styrofoam.

You hardly manage to avoid knocking on them to see if they're really as light as they seem when moving.

Behind them you see an odd garden, where paths weave in and out of the main road that takes you straight to the residence. Bushes dot the landscape, hedges line the paths, creating something truly labyrinthine, yet hiding so little.

You can see across the entire garden, the hedges aren't tall enough to get in the way.

But you can't see beneath your feet.

You've been here a couple of times before, but you've never been inside. You were left to your own devices, and so you wandered amidst this little corner of nature. If you look ahead, you're bound to step off the path and onto the grass. If you look where you're walking, you're bound to get confused by the web of walkways. The paths always threaten to move out from under your feet when you're not looking, but trying to navigate through them seems redundant - they're everywhere.

You call it the Devil's Garden. There's a path to walk no matter where you go, but take your eyes off of it for a second you'll be thrown right off.

You wonder if it has to do with the Mayor's job.

You move straight ahead, up to the residence proper, a massive building stylized in baroque. It just screams "typically lavish". You head inside through the large wood-textured doors and are greeted by a servant.

"Welcome. Would you like a drink or a meal beforehand?"

That presumptuous manner of speaking seems to indicate the servant's opinion of you.

>[] Custom.
>[] Custom.
"No, I'm good."
Get some appetizers and a bit of wine.
"No you look like you could use it more"

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