What triggered the aspersion of Texas cologne at the Lunation Gala? Siddhartha Huff’s twitch fit or Claw Hammer’s nerve storm? No matter. What was clear was that the affective threshold monitor had functioned with prim efficiency; revelers had slumped in their tracks when the ATM’s silent alarm was tripped.
Quick thinking saved Sidd’s hash; he gassed his own self in the hermetic chamber, setting afloat an alternative factuality wherein his adoptee had waylaid him in a fiendish identity heist. The Executive Committee absolved Sidd of complicity in the escapade (justice ever favors the favored). Officious tenders stretchered woozy celebrants away to their family compounds to convalesce bemusedly in the afterglow of their Lone Star comas. The ding — fka “Claw Hammer” — was harvested and stored at Central Organics to put paid to the matter.
But what to do with Astrid bint Wanda? “Annunziata, this is a goddamn travesty,” Philemon D’Avenant grunted. His foreshortened view of the supine hierophant was dominated by the soles of her feet. It looked as if a genie hoist on orgy porridge was doing pop-a-wheelies in Astrid’s thorax. “Phil, watch your language!” his wife admonished smoothly. Only her light-blue eyes betrayed alarm; the manses of potency were massively dropped and cammed by surveillance apparatchiks. “Shocking breach,” she added, making sure her reproach registered clearly on the devices.
Annunziata knew a stinky rumor made the rounds of canapé circuits in cosseted enclaves. Its gist was that Astrid had connived in her own conniption by nipping the naughty gas on an all but daily basis — a habit stoked by lack of discipline and moral rectitude. As usual, trash talk twittered extempore from inner sancta walked the plank into lunacy lagoons. The simple truth was more devastating.
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