The Changing of the Guard – Third Watch

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Another Sunday, another changing of the guard. See what I did there? Heh. Well, I hope you enjoy the chapter and, as always, read it before the release notes if you’re scared of spoilers. Cheers!


When the structural integrity of the World Trade Center was compromised, common reactions included panic, sorrow, and anger. But somewhere, I’m willing to bet, there was someone whose life was somehow entwined with the WTC. This person didn’t know, or didn’t care about, anyone working in the towers. This person wasn’t afraid of more attacks. This person didn’t cry for the loss of life, nor for the loss of architecture. This person didn’t know, or didn’t hate, the attacker. This person simply realized, in a matter-of-fact way, that life had changed.

“Matter-of-fact realization” is not the same thing as taking something in stride.

Grace Valence is deeply shaken. Not on a typically personal level—her thoughts aren’t on a victim, or victims. But still it is a personal level: the level on which she connected with Citadel itself, the level on which she relied on Citadel for her identification.

This chapter, the chaos of the explosion continues to spread. Structure follows content and we find ourselves with yet another perspective. The shackles of perspective restrict me from revealing too much about Gray, obviously, without resorting to the kind of introspection that we don’t have time for in the wake of a paradigm-shattering blast.

In front of Liley and the other privates, Gray is composed and on point. Now, in front of her old friend Warn and her closest assistant Jon, her fatigue and stress show through. And when they send her off, suddenly she’s alone with her thoughts.

I guess dealing with collapse is something I’m interested in. Not sure why. “Grandpa Snow.”

But Gray isn’t quite Grandpa Snow, and the collapse of the city is not quite an archaeological expedition. I wish I could say that this story is about dealing with loss, but it’s really not. Though Liley might think about Gregg from time to time, this isn’t going to be another Trip to the South. I want to treat Gray’s separation from Citadel realistically, but it’s not the focus. Nor is the focus how the city bounces back. Earl may have plans, but there is more afoot.

The Dusk Knights seem poised to take over the entire city.

“History is written by the victors.”

I don’t repeat this piece of doxa just because it’s relevant to a DK-controlled future. Who are the Dusk Knights? What is Watch? Who runs the city, and by what right? In our world, there are a number of reasons for a person or party to come into power. Divine right, election, economic dominance, military rule. Who rules an isolated city-state in the middle of a dry wilderness, and why? Is their rule legitimate? What makes someone’s rule legitimate?

In Rome, apparently, it was the ability to provide free bread. I heard this third-hand from a classmate recently. It resounded with me, with my already-penned narrative.

“Now we turn mud into slop.”

The victims of the explosion are neither Gray’s friends nor her subjects, but she ruled them regardless. She clings to her position as bread-provider in order to shake off Earl’s threats. In our world, major technological breakthroughs tend to trickle down from military use to civilian deployment, a recent and prominent example being the internet. Alchemy is a civilian technology first employed by Gray to feed the city. Now it rears a more sinister head. Can that really be how it goes?

As Gray herself struggles with that question, Earl takes her into his arms.

He may be ludicrous, insane, and crude. But Citadel’s been blown to bits, and he’s still in one piece.

Tonight—the night that Citadel is dwarfed by a pillar of smoke—that solidity is in itself a threat.

Enough rambling. Enjoy the chapter.

"The Changing of the Guard – Third Watch" was posted by on Sunday, February 5th 2012. This post is categorized Changing of the Guard and tagged , , , , , , , .

2 thoughts on “The Changing of the Guard – Third Watch

  1. A saddening chapter, to see someone’s grasp on her own life collapse like that. Excellent rendering of atmosphere. I could easily grasp the mood of Gray as the full ramification of the disaster sunk in on her.

    • I’m glad that got through. Thanks for reading and commenting, Saurus. It means a lot to me. I hope it’s still enjoyable, even if not particularly joyful :)

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