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Renata Glasc Right On Time.jpg
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Short Story

Right On Time

By Dana Luery Shaw

Renata Glasc’s heels click angrily against the marble floors on her way to the front door.

Lore

18:17

Renata Glasc’s heels click angrily against the marble floors on her way to the front door. It’s a long walk, and her annoyance grows as the bells screech out the same cloying tune a second time.

The mechanical fingers of her left hand unfurl as she reaches for the latch, twisting and snapping into the necessary shapes, embedding in the bespoke lock as its one and only key.

She throws open the ornate copper door and looks down at her visitor. “Mave.” All of Renata’s high-ranking subordinates had been informed that her priority for the evening was debuting her Decanter at the Vesella Novelty Gala.

“Ms. Glasc,” the shorter woman says with a curt nod, her prosthetic iron eyes rattling against the glass of her gel-filled goggles. “Sorry to interrupt.”

“It must be important.”

“We’ve gotten wind of a new type of breather. Not just a filtration unit. An air purifier.”

Renata’s eyes flash. “My devisers said we had nothing to worry about on that front.”

Mave shrugs—not her department.

“Who’s manufacturing it?”

“Baron Midenstokke. Not sure where yet.”

She glances at her gaudy Piltovan clock. The gala begins in just under two hours, her presentation slot is at precisely 21:05, and she hasn’t even had time to pick up the Decanter from the laboratory yet… She sighs. It looks as though the gala will have to start without her.

Time to get the night back under control.

18:56

Basile, a worm of a man, grovels at Renata’s feet, dirtying her office floor with his soot-stained tears. “I’m sorry,” he chokes out, breath still rank from whatever swill he’d been drinking when she’d interrupted his visit to the Corrodyne Taproom. “I’ll get the money to you in a week. Two, at the most.”

Renata says nothing, letting Basile squirm and sob on the floor a little longer. He had come to her for a loan six months ago for his wife’s replacement leg after an accident at a machinist’s shop. Renata gave him what he asked for, and got him a well-paying factory job to boot. But after his wife died from sepsis and Basile tried to drown his sorrows at the taproom… it’s no surprise he can’t pay.

It’s what she’s counting on.

“Do you think,” she asks finally, “that I need that money? That I would even miss it?”

“I…”

“I’m not interested in money, dear Basile. Keep it.”

Basile’s eyes fill with tears of gratitude. “Thank you,” he whispers. “Ms. Glasc—”

But.” She holds up a finger to quiet him. “There is something I need from you.”

“Anything.”

“You’re still working for Midenstokke, yes? Got a nice little promotion last month?”

Basile’s face falls. Not everyone has the stomach to get between two chem-barons. He swallows hard. “I can get you your money in… in four days, Ms. Glasc.”

“No, Basile.” Renata Glasc leans down. She can see the sheen of sweat on his forehead. “You’ll get me the information I need, and you’ll get it to me within the hour.”

20:23

Elodat carefully moves aside the vials and burners, the metals and wires, the tools and masks that litter her own private workspace, and lays out the first few pages of designs. Renata watches as the deviser dons a loupe, looking closely at all of the details that make these new breathers tick. There are few she would trust with this new alchemical technology, but Elodat has proven her worth time and again since she first entered Renata’s employ at age twelve.

“These are unbelievable,” Elodat breathes reverently. “No filter system, no place for the toxins in the air to go. They just… destroy the toxins. Eliminate them completely.”

“And you understand how it works?” Renata asks. “Would you be able to replicate the results in a similar product?”

“Without question.” Elodat’s fingers twitch excitedly. “Is this my next project?”

“It is.” She pauses. “But make some part of it necessary to replace. Filters are a great way to keep money rolling in. Find our version of that for a purifier.”

Renata looks at Mave, who’s standing in the corner near the door and awaiting instructions. “We’re sure about the factory?”

Mave nods. “My scouts confirmed it. Just beneath Midenstokke’s dance hall in the Promenade as Basile said.”

“Excellent. 22:30, then. That should give us both plenty of time.”

Mave turns to leave, but Renata stops her and glances at the deviser. “Elodat, the Decanter’s show-ready, yes?”

Elodat snorts as she marks up the design documents. “Of course, Ms. Renata.”

Beside the deviser’s workstation sits the Decanter prototype. A weapon. A tool. A mechanized wonder attuned only to the gestures of Renata’s left hand. All elegant lines of gold and brass, both sinuous and sharp, protective, yet delicate. Bubbling inside the contraption is the glowing magenta liquid that encompasses Renata’s entire inheritance.

Renata twirls one of her mechanical fingers in the air. In response, one of the vials attached to the Decanter fills with a pink gas. She plucks a breather from Elodat’s desk and grabs the vial, clicking it into the mask in place of a filtration unit.

“Make things easy on yourself,” she says as she tosses the mask to Mave. With a nod, Mave exits.

“Um, Ms. Renata?” The deviser looks at the floor as Renata turns back to her. “How are my parents? I haven’t seen them in… yeah.”

“They’ve just bought a house,” Renata says casually. “And I’ve found work for your brother and his fiancé at a cultivair. Your work has kept them very happy.” A pause. “You should visit them.”

Elodat’s head snaps up. “Really?”

“Absolutely.” With a beckoning gesture from Renata, the Decanter’s thrusters fire, lifting it into the air. It bobs beside her as she walks toward the door. “After the demonstration.”

21:46

“And now, finally,” the announcer says with a glare at Renata, “we have the newest product from Glasc Industries, presented by the fabulous Renata Glasc, herself! Renata, darling, please join us on the stage!”

With practiced ease, Renata steps out from behind the curtain to ravenous applause. Wealthy Piltovans, dressed to impress, fill the Vesella clan’s lavish ballroom, eager to hear about the newest novelties from their favorite Zaunite. The announcer claps politely, though his eyes roll at this level of excitement from the audience.

Renata removes her mask. Every breath she takes of the empty Piltovan air cuts her throat like glass, but still, she smiles. “A big thank you to the Vesella clan for having me! What a treat it is to spend an evening in your beautiful city.

“For many of you, ‘chemtech’ is a scary word. An ugly word. One of iron and decay. What, then, could a Zaunite have to offer Piltover? Glasc Industries has shown you time and again that chemtech doesn’t have to be ugly. And tonight, I’m going to show you that it can be beautiful.”

A flick of her wrist, and the Decanter floats across the stage past the announcer to Renata. Delighted gasps punctuate the murmur of the crowd.

So easily pleased. So hopelessly naïve.

“The Glasc Industries Decanter, a milestone in the world of healing! Alchemist and nursemaid all in one, creating medicine and administering it in the same breath.”

She’s interrupted by the announcer coughing into his sleeve. She turns to him, knowing full well that none of the chemicals in the Decanter are strictly medicinal. “Would our kind announcer be interested in helping with a demonstration?”

22:29

Renata sips her sparkling wine as yet another potential investor approaches her. Across the room, the announcer stands beside the Decanter and hands out Renata’s business cards—just as Renata had... suggested.

She peers at her pocket watch and walks toward a balcony with a phenomenal evening view of Piltover. Below, even Zaun’s promenade level is visible from here...

22:30

An explosion lights up the promenade. Right about where Baron Midenstokke’s dance hall is, in fact. Or, rather, where it used to be.

But no one in the Vesella clan’s ballroom seems to care. A glance is the most any of them spare for the tragedy down in Zaun. It’s beneath them.

Except for Renata Glasc, who watches with a chuckle and takes another sip of her fine Piltovan wine.

References

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