The banquet occurred in a mansion at the edge of town, pressed against the edge of the dome-like barrier which maintained the atmosphere of this colony. The nobles typically gravitated to the outside edge of the dome, as Clippy explained, to quickly be able to protect themselves should anything go wrong. Their places of living made escaping the dome, likely through secret underground passageways that led to off-site launch platforms, considerably easier, as well as allowing them a strong defensive position should riots occur. It also likely allowed them to deal in black market deals and exchanges that avoided customs and public notice.
The outfit Requiem had ended up wearing was a formal jacket, a neck piece, and black pants. This had used up the majority of his remaining funds, and he would likely not be able to stay another night at the Requiem inn if he did not win this supposed tournament. He had felt that the expense was too great, however, as he grew closer to the mansion and could see various people filtering into the party, he started to feel like he might be under dressed instead.
In these colonies, colors seemed to be a big part of their hierarchy. Whether man or woman, they dressed in extremely bright colors. Each noble seemed to be trying to outdo the others in bringing attention to themselves. Requiem would have assumed that this was some sort of dress up party had Clippy not informed him that this was the standard formal wear for nobles.
However, it wasn’t the nobles that caught the eye the most. It was the servants. Each noble seemed to bring a retinue of servants, and their dress, or lack thereof, was the most notable thing here. Many of the servants of both sexes wore the bare minimum necessary to be called clothing. However, even these were flamboyant, the small piece of cloth that barely covered a woman’s breasts were laced with gems, and a swath of cloth covering a man’s genitals appeared to be stuffed and covered in gaudy white lace.
All of the servants were exceptionally attractive men and women. As Clippy nervously explained when Requiem pressed her, nobles used the servants as a form of competition. Servants were the ‘art’ that nobles would bring. Most of them, if not all, were slaves that were dependent entirely on the noble. They dressed them up and paraded them around in front of the other nobles as a status symbol. Whoever had the most attractive retinue gained more status. Requiem was starting to notice that he could spot which servants belonged to which nobles based on the theme of their livery.
“Stop looking, Master!” Clippy protested.
Requiem was merely observing. He was an advanced AI system. He was hardly the type to be tempted by the flesh of another person. However, as he turned away from the scantily clad women, he found his eyes drifting back numerous times. His face also felt flushed in a way he wasn’t used to. Had he been able to see his face, he would have noticed that his cheeks were red in embarrassment.
Clippy suddenly appeared in front of his vision, blocking the source. He snapped out of it, shaking his head. She had her hands on her hips and was puffing out her cheeks while looking at him with a dark gaze.
“Ooo, Master is such a womanizer!” She snapped.
“That doesn’t seem like the appropriate word…” Requiem answered nonchalantly. “Let’s just get inside.”
Requiem skillfully tried to steer the conversation away from the servants. He also hastily wrote a program that censored his eyes so that this wouldn’t happen again. This body was continuing to act in awkward ways, and he struggled to keep up.
“Name?” a guardsman snapped when he made it to the entrance.
“Requiem,” he responded as he handed over the admittance token.
“Just… Requiem? No other name?” The guard looked at him suspiciously as he scanned the coin.
“Ah, master, it’s considered customary for nobles to mention their family name and honors.”
“No family name.” Requiem explained.
The man grimaced. “A merchant then. Any honors you want to impress the nobles with.”
“I was once called the Great Calamity.” Requiem responded dryly.
He had meant it as a sarcastic rebuke, but the man nodded and wrote it down. He grimaced at that, but it seemed too late to take it back. After a moment, the guardsmen nodded and ushered Requiem indoors. There was a small entry way and a line of people. They were being announced one at a time before being allowed to enter the main chamber.
“Master… you’ve mentioned this before, what is the Great Calamity?” Clippy asked questioningly.
“Nothing important.” He stated, then his eyebrow rose and he turned slightly towards her. “Did you manage to download anything mentioning a Great Calamity?”
Clippy shook her head and Requiem gave a sigh. He really did have no reference towards where he was. This place was a completely different world. It felt almost archaic and lawless compared to the old order. Nobility? Death matches? You keep what you kill? These were not the kinds of things that represented the Terra he remembered.
Requiem finally moved up next to an old servant. Fortunately, he was dressed in attire not unlike Requiems, rather than the bare livery of the majority of the servants. As he peaked into the room, he was glad to see that there were a few men who had dressed similar to his own. Looking at it, these were all men that were quite low socially. Rich merchants, friends of nobles, those who were the lowly exceptions and should be thankful they were invited at all. Well, Requiem was already aware he was an unusual exception, but he was comfortable knowing he dressed the part.
“Introducing Requiem, the Great Calamity!” The servant announced.
A few eyes shot Requiem strange looks as he walked into the room. Had Requiem had the ability to feel embarrassed, he might have run away and covered his face. As a machine, he lacked those kinds of feelings. At least, he should have, so he felt it strange that he subconsciously lowered his head and walked in quickly to shake off unwanted attention.
“Is Master okay?” Clippy asked in concern.
“I’m not sure. There is a lot I don’t understand about this body. It might be best to abandon it, after all.”
Clippy didn’t really understand the situation. Then again, she had only ever known Master as Master. She had no point of reference to know what was strange, erratic, or abnormal behavior from him. Requiem had always been a master of his own domain. Nothing went outside his notice.
“The Great Calamity, is it?” a woman’s voice came unexpectedly from behind, causing a chill to run up his spine.
Requiem spun and glanced over at the woman in front of him. She wore a long red dress that gave off her feminism. She had long blond hair that ran down her bare shoulders. She had large breasts, although not to the extent of the android who had given him a token. Still, the dress was tight to the extent that her breasts seemed barely contained. Oddly enough, she only wore a glove on one hand. Either way, she was an undoubtedly beautiful woman who looked to be around twenty.
“Me?” She laughed, “Why, I am… Lady Darsis… fiancée to the Lord of this manor, Lord Saphire.”
More notable than her introduction was the way she did it. She paused various times, as if she was saying something she memorized by rote. Her hands always twitched, as if she was fighting back the desire to burst into movement. It wasn’t the same as nervousness, like someone who was unused to social situations. Instead, it felt more like a façade, like she was hiding her true nature.
“Requiem, was it? Might I ask, how did you earn the name, the Great Calamity?”
Requiem tilted his head to the side, and after a brief second decided to answer honestly. “By dragging five galaxies into a realm of chaos, summoning the Nightmare Dream, and crushing humanity with its power.”
Requiem answered this way for two particular reasons. The first is that if anyone had heard anything about the Great Calamity, the five galaxies, or the Nightmare Dream, it would be a noble. He was looking for any sort of recognition in her face. The second reason was to end the conversation quickly. If she thought him strange or mad, then he wouldn’t be forced to engage with someone in such a high position. Requiem didn’t want to risk offending these nobles.
However, the response given by the Lady Darsis was not remotely expected. A light flicker of a smile appeared on her lips, there was a glint in her eye, and her heart started to beat faster. However, once again, this was not from any sort of recognition, but for some inexplicable reason, what he had said had excited Lady Darsis.
Before she could stop herself, she reached out and grabbed Requiem’s hands, pulling them up to her chest as she looked into his eyes in a very familiar way. “That is so cool! I’m… ahem.”
Suddenly, she coughed and let go of his hands, straightened her back, and regained control of her faculties. However, there was still the glint in her eye. That was when Requiem noticed something odd about her and blurted it out before he could stop himself.
“It seems that the responsiveness of your artificial eye is 50 milliseconds behind the correct eye. You could probably improve upon it to increase your visual acuity.”
“How did you…” the woman’s voice suddenly changed into a deeper and throatier sound and she reached up to her left eye.
It was not something any normal person could notice, but her left eye wasn’t real. It was artificial machine. The work was incredibly well done. Had she not stared directly at him, he wouldn’t have noticed the difference. She didn’t respond well to him noticing. It wasn’t quite anger, but she seemed to bristle at the comment.
“Very well, Great Calamity.” The woman in front of him sniffed, her voice returning to its original volume. “You win this round. But remember, the Dr… Lady Darsis always wins in the end.”
She turned away, her hair lashing, and she walked away with a stiff back. Requiem was left with a confused look on his face. He had considerable programming on social situations. He would have even thought himself well versed on the behavior of women and able to predict those actions. However, this girl left him completely flummoxed.
“Hmm… Master flirting some more…” Clippy whined.
“Is that what you got from that?” Requiem tsukkomi’d.
Requiem seriously hoped that all the nobles at this particular mansion weren’t like this, or this night would be a very long one.