That Enigmatic Object Of Desire
A group of Quaternioneers, with Kit tagging along, meet with Viktor Mulciber, a weapons dealer interested in getting his hands on a Q-weapon who wants to hear how it might operate. Barry Nebulae and Dr. V. Ganesh Rao explain that such a weapon would employ a wave that somehow accesses the energy behind the flow of time.
But Mulciber is not the only one looking for such a thing. Piet Woevre has in fact managed to purchase something from one Edouard Gevaert, a small, elegant, enigmatic thing, with distinctly fetishistic design touches.
Kit and Umeki Tsurigame's affair continues, though he still runs into Pleiade Lafrisee, sometimes in the company of Woevre.
A Quartion holiday, October 16, is used by de Decker's security apparatus as an excuse to send agents to the Hotel Nouvelle Digue, to keep an eye on the troublemakers there. Seeing the operatives, Kit, quickly followed by the others, 86s the establishment. Around midnight Kit ends up with Rocco and Pino as they try to ride the torpedo through the canals out of Brussels, only to end up in a ghostly industrial neighborhood where they are waylaid by Woevre, who starts shooting.
Woevre, though, seems more concerned with some sort of airship, apparently with a crew, (the Chums, of course) which has been, he believes, stalking him for days. He takes out the strange new weapon for the first time and fires it, though seems to hit nothing other than himself. Deeply freaked out by the rather other-worldly experience, Woevre gives the thing to Kit, who has found him flat on his back, and runs away.
Umeki is completely fascinated by the object and describes the power it apparently has and how it seems to work. After dreaming of her and the device, which seems also to outline a vision of a hidden city, Kit gives it to her, and they prepare to part forever. She returning to Japan and he moving on to inner Asia on the Orient Express, which is in motion, with Kit aboard, as the section ends.
The weapon, as described on pg. 559, may well be the same enigmatic object which Miles saw the Others pointing at him on pg. 417. We see that it is small, with an eyepiece, an interior mirror, set in a leather case and can be slung over the shoulder from a strap. Sounds to me like a weird SLR camera. That it has been sold to Woevre by someone who shares a name with a giant photographic film and paper company, only adds to the impression.
Indeed, as Nebulae describes the action of the w term as something that crosses space and travels with time, one is put in mind of a photograph, something which crosses the three elements of space the instant it is created and then travels its own way through time. When shooting, the weapon produces a flash which briefly blinds Woevre, and another parallel with an SLR can't be ignored.
In describing the inner working of the thing, (565:37 - 566:5) Umeki indulges in what sounds to me as splendid nonsense.
I'll note that both Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray produced what they called enigmatic objects, odd surrealist sculptures which to this day resist interpretation.
And, Cazzo! (562:13), pronounced COT-so, appearing with some reqularity in the narrative now, is the favorite explitive of Naples, and means prick or dick.
Moving on, the Zombini's triumphant European tour hits Venice, where Luca makes a business trip to the Island of Mirrors, where the stage cabinet which had bilocated several members of his audiences had been produced. (We learn also that a Zombini ancestor had worked in the mirror factory centuries earlier before, possibly, running off to America to found a dynasty there.) The factory sales and tech reps, Vincenzo Miserere and Ettore Sanazolo suggest Luca can undo the damage to those bilocated by getting each pair to get back in the box at the same time; an impracticality, Luca decides.
Meanwhile Dally has, as so many of us have, fallen in love with Venice and, unlike most, has the wherewithal to stay - forever she hopes. Erlys and Luca, in a very touching scene, decide to let her, that it is the only thing to do. The Zombinis, with many waves and kisses, depart without her.
Dally becomes a street performer, working the tourist crowd and sleeping wherever she can. She soon befriends Hunter Penhallow, last seen fleeing New York and the Vormance beast on pg. 155. He is an indigent artist who takes Dally under his wing, or perhaps it is vice-versa.
Penhallow, we are told, is a veteran of a great war which, it seems, has not happened yet, quite possibly a time traveler who has found some kind of refuge in the ancient, quasi-imaginary city of Venice, a place whose dark side Dally grows increasingly aware of in her nocturnal travels.
Penhallow finds a place for Dally to stay full time, the palazzo of his friend, the young (or is it timeless?) beauty, Princess Spongiatosta, who takes a shine to our heroine.
Bria Zombini arrives on a jaunt before her parents, who have been crimping her budding teenage social life, return stateside. Hunter also introduces Dally to Andrea Tancredi, a modernist painter and anarchist who renders colorful explosions in oil paint. Dally finds him to be a pretty devastating specimen and, as the chapter draws to a close, visits his studio alone for the first time, hankering for a kiss.
And basta! I will note a certain similarity between the Zombini bilocating cabinet and that enigmatic object from the section previous. There is also a shared interest in the Pentecost (pps 561 & 580) among disparate characters. The great cricketer Dr. W.G. Grace appears to Penhallow in a dream (pp. 577), and let's agree that no one executes the vanishing elephant catch better than Cici Zombini. All else must find the way forward in Comments.