"Scholar Harding, I shall find us a table while you parouse the food selection. I am told the veal is excellent tonight." The Viceroy flashed Harding a wide, hospitable, smile and amblred off towards the tables and booths that ran along the back corners of the room. Harding allowed the entire scene to wash over him like a wave over craggly rock He could smell all sorts of foods, some he'd never eaten before but he knew the tastes instinctively. Roast chicken, grapes, oysters and lobsters, all laid out and displayed like a work of art. In the center a full band played music Harding had never heard before. It was anything but the soft, soothing song of the chimes. This made his blood run and his head spin. It was complicated, yet simple, rising and falling like the rivers in the spring. Somehow it got inside of him, inside of his head. He felt giddy with elation, an elation he had never felt outside of his work for society. The music stunned and shocked him with its melodies and harmonies, all varying and melding together like the aurora borealis on a bright night. Harding stood dumbfounded before the band until the last notes of their art faded from his memory. When he turned from the black suited musicians he found the Viceroy staring at him curiously. "Is something the matter?" Harding asked, still reeling from the score.
"You look a bit shaken. Are you still feeling well?"
"I feel excellent. Are you reading to eat?" Harding waited until the Viceroy nodded and then proceeded to allow the older man to show him the way to their table. In the background the music swelled up again, rising over the laughter and the conversations of the Dining Hall. Harding's heart leaped to the beat of the music and with it his soul danced merrily and for the first time Harding knew that to be what it was. For a moment, one millesecond of time, he considered taking an emotional suppressent. It would be the right thing to do; it would be the civilized thing to do.
"Do you eat like this every night?" Harding asked once he had the chance to do so. The Viceroy nodded and wiped the remnants of roast beef from the corner of his mouth with a piece of fine white linen. "It is the privelidge and the burden of the governing class. If there is any excess luxuries that cannot be provided to every member of Society it is our duty to consume it in any way that we can. You must understand that we do not wish this upon ourselves, in fact it is a terrible, terrible wieght on our shoulders. Imagine that after a life time of conditioning that you are forced to indulge in luxuries that you have trained to dislike. This," he said pointing at the plate in front of him, freshly piled high with a hundred delicacies, "is torture." Harding nodded knowingly.
"How do you like the city thus far?" The Viceroy asked after a while. Harding, filled to the gills with food and drink nodded. "It is very nice and the layout is very effecient."
"I just wish I had the opportunity to showcase some of its finer points. Newfound City has a lot to offer. It is, of course, the capital of the colonial cities. We have a capital building as magnificent as the Ruling Dome in New London. In fact the entire government center was built to conjure up images of the homeland." The Viceroy seemed to well up in pride, as if he had placed the blocks of stone over one another during the entire construction phase. Harding smiled politely. "I've seen some magnificent stills of it."
"Even the stills can't do it justice. This is the heart of civilization in the New World. Bayside City and Atlantis can't even do it justice and they are flourishing along the fertile southern coastline of this vast continent." Heavenly took a sip of wine, prompting Harding to do the same. He let the smooth texture of the red wine flow over his mouth. Alcohol was readily available for all members of Civilization, no matter what the caste. Usually, though, it was vodka, rum or gin that was distributed at the markets. Never was it anything as refined as the wine, champagne and scotch that ran like water in the Dining Hall.
Harding drank more than he usually did that evening. Indeed it was the first time since those days so long ago when he'd been nothing more than a young clerk trying to fill the shoes of his predicessor that he had actually drank in excess. Heavenly helped Harding to the trackless and half an hour later they pulled up next to the temporary rest facility. Bright street lamps burning halogens lit the deserted roads and illuminated the sides of the darkened buildings. Small bugs circled the lamps, unaware of everything but that ever present light. They would not leave it until the first rays of the morning sun rose over the high white walls and above the towering skyscrapers. Only the warm light of the summer sun would wave away the flies and moths, but come nightfall they would return with all the vigor of the previous evening.
Harding stumbled into his sleeping facility around one that night. Heavenly was no doubt still out and about, patronizing the fine after dinner establishments that he had boasted about over the evening meal. Humidors and concerts, art shows and picture theatres, there was so much for a well to do member of the governing class in Newfound City. As Heavenly, bound by his duty to consume as much as possible, performed his role admirably Harding collapsed into a deep and dark sleep, without the help of his medecine.
He awoke to the deep rumble of an explosion and the wailing defense sirens of the city. It was a far cry from the usual morning chimes that awoken the higher level citizens of Civilization. Harding came to his feet shaking as a violent series of explosions rocked the buildings, several paintings of Washington tumbled from the walls. Harding ran a weathered hand through his fading hair and stumbled over to the window that made up his entire western wall of his room. Still in a sort of shock, this was the first such experience he had ever lived through, Harding pulled the blinds open and gazed out into the early morning cityscape. Smoke rose from just beyond the outer walls and even in the golden sunlight of the sunrise Harding could make out the tracers being fired by machine guns mounted along the barricades.
A low rumble alerted Harding to the arrival of low flying helis. They roared over his building like bats out of hell; armed to the teeth with rockets and bullets they hurtled towards the distant smoke. Ten minutes later, as heavy gunfire still echoed between the buildings of Newfound City Viceroy Heavenly began to speak over the cities comm system. "Technology is the sword of Civilization; it is societies weapon against the uncivilized. We shall weild it and use it to strike down any and all who rampage beyond our borders." His excerpt from the Washingtonian Principles, Section Nine, subsection twenty one was punctuated by a series of blasts Harding assumed were artillary shells being fired from just outside the city walls. Heavenly went on with a second excerpt. "Treat them not as people for they are not human, they are savages. They are uncivilized, unsophisticated and unorganized wheras we are the hands of reason, the voice of sanity and the embodiment of civilization. Section Nine, Subsection twelve."
By the time Harding arrived at the first floor of the Temporary Rest Center the alarms had stopped ringing. Heavenly's voice had been replaced by soothing chimes and the occasional calm voices of reason, as the soft spoken voices were called. On the city streets things had returned to normal, people were hustling back and forth between the larger buildings and the tube station. Moving sidewalks were crammed with the more important looking citizens undoubtably on there way to meetings and offices all over the city. Things had returned to normal in Newfound City. Off in the distance there was still a wisp of black smoke rising and the occasional role of thunder. That was where Harding was headed: the wild and untamed frontier.