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The Lapis Lazuli Dome

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Lo, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem,
Not knowing the things that shall befall me there.
—Acts 20:22

The Lapis Lazuli Dome is the first chapter of Empress of the Night, volume 3 of the Reborn on the Mars series.

OutlineEdit

Radu and Dietrich kill the crew of the Nereiades while sailing toward Byzantium.

SummaryEdit

Ryustem and Agamemnon are talking about missing crewmembers who have disappeared from their rooms when they were off duty. The only place on the ship that has not been searched are the stores.

Ion has ordered Agamemnon not to open the storeroom during their voyage and by Imperial decree, his orders have the same weight as the words of the Empress. However, he can no longer sit still while his crew disappeared, so he goes to open it with Ibrahim and Socorul. Inside the storeroom are over forty wooden boxes a foot high, wide and deep.

Because Agamemnon smells blood, he lifts the floorboards. Below are the mummified corpses of the missing crewmembers. Agamemnon orders Ryustem to gather all hands for an emergency meeting, Ibrahim to check the contents of Ion's luggage and Socorul to arm five or six people and to follow him.

He is about to head out to make Ion explain, when Abel shows up. He tells Agamemnon that Ion didn't kill his men. Just then, an arm appears out of a box and snaps Ibrahim's neck. It belongs to one of the Autojäger, which Abel calls "his cute toys."

Socorul and Ryutem shield Agamemnon and are killed by the Autojäger. Ion appears and burns Agamemnon to charcoal.

Abel orders Ion to kill the other crewmembers too, while he goes on deck to look at the Empire. They keep sailing toward Byzantium.

In line with the overarching nod to Yeats' famous poem Sailing to Byzantium, the chapter title here serves as another high literary nautical reference. In his essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," in which he describes "the cruise ship experience" as claustrophobic and infantilizing, David Foster Wallace considers the ways in which luxury is framed as desirable, as a "peak experience," as a "bucket list" item, as a worthwhile goal. Going through the promotional materials in his cabin, he discovers an overblown paean to the beauty of the cruise, commissioned by the liner from a writing instructor associate. It's an occasion to think through the ethics of rhetoric, but just as much an occasion to mock the absurd and pompous poem. The image singled out and repeated in this respect is the blue sky as a "Lapis Lazuli Dome" - as though the transformative luxury of the cruise ship turns even the most patently everyday and nonexclusive conditions into actual gems - horizon-spanning gems which are also pharaohic architectural monuments.

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