Summery: The final thoughts of Dio as he falls.
Disclaimer: Last Exile and it's characters are not mine. Wish they were, but they arn't. Such is life. I'm just having some non-profit entertainment with them. Don't mind me...
Summery: As he falls, Dio does the only thing he can. He thinks.
Thoughts In Freefall
"Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me."
George Orwell. 1984
It’s white. All I can see is the pure brightness of it, all I feel is the cold, biting through my suit and the wind pulling at my skin. I’m alone, falling through air, lost to the winds. I want you, Luciola. And all I can see is white…
That’s the first colour I remember. The pure pale beauty of the Guild nursery, lined with toys and servants.
My first words: I want.
It was encouraged. Every day the servants came to me, asked me, ‘what do you want, Lord Dio?
I wanted a drink. I wanted food. I wanted sweets. I wanted toys. I wanted to explore. I wanted to see. I wanted a flower. I wanted an animal. I wanted to see the animal die. I wanted to see the servant die. I wanted more. I wanted less. I wanted I wanted I want I want I WANT!
I always got.
I am Lord Dio Eraclea.
The only times my wishes were denied; my sister. She was my prisoner, the one who denied me my wishes.
I hate her.
When I was very young I tried to escape; once.
My first experience in a Star-ship was not pleasant. I was caught, dragged to her, punished.
Then, without asking, she gave me you, Luciola.
I gave you a name, and that’s how it all began.
And I didn’t even say I wanted you.
Help me, Luciola. I’m falling. Where are you?
Remember, when we were children? You followed me everywhere, Luciola. Why? I asked? Why? Why? Why?
You are mine, Luciola. All my other toys stayed where I left them (until the servants picked them up,) but you followed me. Why did you follow me?
‘To protect you, Lord Dio,’ you replied.
‘That is part of my job.’
‘You have a job? I didn’t give you a job.’
‘No. Maestro Delphene ordered me to do this. To protect and serve and watch over you.’
I frowned. She’s always there. Behind every curtain, every wall. Every eye I see has her behind it. I’d hoped she wouldn’t lie behind your eyes, Luciola.
‘But you are mine.’
‘Yes Lord Dio.’
‘You do my orders first, right?’
‘Of course Lord Dio.’
‘So if I told you to leave me?’
‘I would leave you. Until Maestro Delphene ordered me to return.’
‘And what if I told you to die?’
‘I would die.’
That displeased me too, though I didn’t know why. I’m wasn’t used to this sort of pain.
‘Don’t die, Luciola. I order it.’
‘Yes Lord Dio.’
‘I don’t want to see you any more. Go away.’
‘Yes, Lord Dio.’
And he left, just like that. I was still becoming used to him, my new toy. I didn’t know…
A little later I explored the ship hold. I remember so well, row upon row of starships, lining up the dark hold. A new universe for me to explore.
I started to climb up into one, tiny hand hold over tiny hand hold. Another little escapade, my own private rebellion. Even after the punishments I wanted freedom, from the guild and from her. And from you too, perhaps.
I slipped, remember Luciola? I slipped and fell from the ship. I would have hurt myself but, suddenly, you were benieth me. You held me.
‘Why are you here?’ I asked.
‘To catch you.’ You replied, and began to drift away.
‘Don’t go! Why are you going?’
‘You told me to go away, Lord Dio.’
‘But you were here now.’
‘Of course. I am yours, Lord Dio. I will protect you when needed and be invisible when not. That is my duty.’
That’s what you were, Luciola. What you had trained to be from birth. You were my bodyguard, protecting me from harm. You were my servant, fulfilling all my wishes. My trusted advisor, always whispering in my ear. You were my shadow, following and echoing me when needed, drifting away when not. You’d catch me when I fell, then fly away like a blossom upon the wind.
These were your duties. These were what my sister had made you. But you bore my name, Luciola. I’d given it to you. And I didn’t want any of those… those things sister had trained you to be. Because those made you hers, really, not mine.
So, after dinner, we ate under a table and I whispered something in your ear.
Sister made you all those things, but I made you a friend, Luciola.
Oh, Luciola! What is this? I’m falling through whiteness and I’m feeling this sensation. Like butterflies in my stomach, fluttering… trying to get out… what is this? Is it fear, Luciola? Is it pain? Is it… is it love? Is this… could this be… freedom?
I don’t think like freedom so much any more, Luciola.
It came to me in the rose garden.
I hate that place. With it’s flowers, red as blood but boring as silence. Until you meet the thorns, that is. Thorns that prick and tear and rend and hurt and trap. Horrible, horrible place, I will see all flowered burned when I become Maestro.
But there were butterflies in the garden. Capricious blossoms, white and gold, fluttering from petal to petal.
‘I would like to be a butterfly.’ I said to you. ‘Butterflies are free. How do I become a butterfly?’
‘You can’t,’ you said. ‘You are Lord Dio. You are of the guild.’
So I thought upon the matter more. Perhaps being a butterfly wouldn’t be so much fun anyway. Butterflies aren’t truly free, but are blown about by the wind. Just like me, captured and pulled and tugged by my sister. The deadly queen of the winds. How I hate her, for only when the wind stills the butterfly is free.
But even the wind dies one day, and then I will take her place. Perhaps. Then I’ll become Maestro. But how could I be both butterfly and wind?
You gave me the answer, my dear Luciola.
Do you recall those lines upon lines of ships waiting for us?
‘You can’t be a butterfly, but you could fly in one of these.’
So I forgot my dreams of insects and became a hawk instead. Much more dangerous and thrilling, fast and deadly and beautiful.
Hawks eat butterflies for breakfast.
Am I flying or falling? I don’t know. Perhaps I’m rising, ascending into the sky. I can’t tell any more. Does it really matter? Perhaps something good is happening, Luciola. Perhaps I’m finally flying on my own… perhaps I’m going to meet you? Perhaps… Please Luciola. Tell me what to do! Tell me what’s happening!
Wasn’t it beautiful, Luciola? Watching the ships fly for the first time? They seemed so free and deadly. The pilot’s eyes were filled with such confidents and knowledge when they returned. They’d seen the skies and shaped their own destiny.
I wanted that.
‘I want to pilot a ship Luciola!’
‘You can’t, Lord Dio.’
‘Yes I can. You said I could.’
‘You don’t know how.’
‘Then I’ll learn.’
‘It’s hard, Lord Dio.’
‘You’ll learn with me. You can fly with me, Luciola! Won’t that be wonderful?’
‘Yes Lord Dio.’
And that’s how we learned. Together. Everyone was surprised that I was making an effort. Things become dull quickly, you see. But this was different. All my life I was given things, I’ve never had to work for them before. To fly I had to work, I had to learn. It was… odd.
A consequence. That’s what you called it, Luciola. A consequence. When something results from something else. What a delightful idea! I practiced in my flying and as a consequence I got better at it! I became skilled, as did you, Luciola. And everywhere we went they talked.
I’d never experienced a consequence before.
This was something new.
People knew me, paid attention to me not because I was Lord Dio Eraclea, but because I could fly. Because I was one of the best pilots the Guild had. This was something I’d made for myself. Not something my sister had given me. Not something I had because of my bloodline. This was mine.
So I flew the skies with you, MY friend, with MY piloting skills, in MY sky. This was freedom.
I was happy.
But my birthday was coming close; sister was coming to clip my wings.
Then I met Immelman.
I think… I think I’m going to die, Luciola. Is this… is this a consequence? Are you… dead? Is that a consequence too? Luciola…
It’s odd, isn’t it Luciola? The time I felt happiest was when I was flying with Immelman, when I was following orders.
I followed an order, Luciola. Isn’t that wonderful?
Honestly, I can’t remember our time aboard the Silvana all that well. It was so… dark and colourful and fast. So different. Do you remember it better, Luciola? I suppose you must. It was so strange, so many new things to see and do… I learned so much there. I felt and tasted so, so much! Those little beetles I use to squash, the things that rolled dung and built burrows and hives… their world is beautiful too! It’s full of noise and consequence and responsibility and order and, oh Luciola, they’re free! Really free! Bet they’re sad too… so sad. Alex Row was always dark; face screwed up and wrinkled like old cloth.
Heh, he was funny, wasn’t he Luciola?
He was sad because of his wife. Ah, my sister watched her die, you see. Watched her die and smiled, because it amused her. It does sound pretty funny, I suppose. I’ve never seen a woman die like that. But he was sad, always so sad, and I never knew why… not until now.
So I’m glad I’m not one of them, Luciola. With their consequences and their responsibilities. You see, that’s where I came to understand… they feel pain too.
I’m falling Luciola… but you fell first. Because of me. And I laughed, I laughed before you fell because I was so glad! And I know why you fell too… Oh…
Do you remember when she came for us, Luciola? When my sister came?
I don’t want to.
There was a song… about birthdays and… and… there was cake and… and white light. So bright and pure and horrible… like snow.
I hate snow, all those little flakes, individual when you look close, but all the same when meshed together. Cold and brutal and disgusting.
Snow and flowers. That’s two things that I’ll destroy when I become Maestro.
I think you betrayed me, didn’t you Luciola? I hated you for that because I thought you were mine. My friend.
But then, friends aren’t like that, are they? Clause and Lavie aren’t like you and me. Though I wish they could be… I wish they were…
I wasn’t very good at being a friend, was I?
Because you were hers first, before you were mine… and my hand still stings from when I slapped you.
Oh yes, I remember that. It’s the last thing I remember clearly before… before IT happened. After that… White light, door opening, cutting through my mind, my spirit… it’s all a jumble, Luciola. And I’m too scared to sort through it. Someone has tossed all my toys around my room and I don’t know how to put them back in their proper boxes again! I’ve always had servants to do that for me… help me Luciola! Help me! I can’t do this without you! And… oh Luciola… I understand now! It’s all fuzzy and white and chaotic. But I’ve been falling for a long time, and you’ve been falling with me… but I let go. Luciola. I let go!
And now I don’t even have you to guide me, my Navi.
This is where I am now, Luciola. Are you listening? Listen to me! I order you to listen to me! I am Lord Dio Eraclea of the guild and I… I… I’m not your friend.
I said I was, but I’m not. Friends don’t own each other, you see?
I had to make a choice, I had to choose what I was… to be free or to be you friend… It told you to jump out. Luciola. I told you to jump!
Friends don’t tell friends to leave them. Because friends need each other. Like Clause needs Lavie. Like Tatiana needs Alis. Like Alex needed…
Luciola… I’m sorry. I’ve destroyed you, Luciola. You gave yourself to me and I’ve broken you. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry! I’ve never had to face a consequence before! I never realized that I had a responsibility to you. I never knew responsibility before, just power. But now… Oh Luciola… forgive me… Luciola… Luciola… listen… I don’t need you to catch me. I don’t need you to die for me. I just need you to hold me… to guide me… to tell me what to do! Please Luciola. I don’t want to be free any more; I just want to be your friend. YOURS.
Luciola? Its coming, Luciola. The ground. It’s rising up to meet me like heaven. I’m scared. We’re all falling through air on our own, that’s not freedom. That’s death. Please… hold me again, Luciola. Be there… please… Luciola? Luciola? Luciola I think I l-