As Churchill noted, jaw-jaw is better than war-war. But, there are some people that just need killin.’ Cannibals, for instance. I know way back in Defiant Act I, wrote that how they were dressed and cut their heads, “it was hard to tell the men from women.” So, I could be really edgy and call them tranny-cannies; that should trigger a few thousand hate-hits to my little blog.
Meh. I’m just here to tell the stories they show me; as Nichole discovers, sitting across from Mayor Johnson, in his study, politics is work.
“Oh, please, Miss Clarke!” He made a motion for her to rise, but she came up quickly enough that his other hand never touched her. Somewhat awkwardly, he gestured towards the room he’d appeared from.
“If you’d be so kind…?”
She released his hand and walked directly into the study. A desk with a chair behind it to her right. Two leather chairs opposite the desk. A few smaller chairs along the walls, with a small, two cushion couch at her right. The window above the couch looked out into the dark of the front yard.
Directly opposite her was a woman in her mid-thirties. She wore a gray business jacket and skirt. Mostly Caucasian, Nichole surmised, but some strain there she did not recognize.
“This is one my secretaries, Mrs. Kennedy,” the Mayor said, coming in behind her. “She’ll be taking notes and, well, it wouldn’t do for me to be seen alone with such an attractive young lady!”
Nichole did not fully understand that, but she crossed the room and introduced herself. Mrs. Kennedy muttered politely and sat in one of the chairs along the wall, picking up a notepad next to her as she did.
“Now, then,” he waved at the two chairs opposite his desk. “Please have a seat! For being in the City for so little time, you’ve made such an impression!”
He sat and picked up a piece of paper.
“Have I, indeed?” She sat on the chair’s edge. Knees together, hands folded on her lap. She made sure she continued to mimic breathing.
“Why, student to Teaching Assistant in less than a month!” He laid down the paper. It was a printout of a photographic image. From just hours ago. “And what friends you’ve made!”
The image was his daughter kissing her in front of the library.
“I am a guest in your city, and flattered you have chosen to take time from your obviously busy schedule to meet me,” she replied in a conversational tone, flicking her eyes from his to the image and back, “but perhaps you give me more credit than I deserve.”
“That,” he said leaning back, letting his chair creak, “is not the impression I got from Captain Gunzou.”
The picture was a feint, and she’d fallen for it. Her mission was in grave danger.
“Captain Gunzou,” she began, carefully, “was never pleased with a civilian aboard his ship. I’m sure you are equally sensitive to… outsiders.”
She bowed her head slightly.
“I shall make no trouble in your City.” She could pronounce capitals, too.
“Good Heaven’s, Miss Clarke!” He cried. “Who, besides you, has said anything about ‘trouble’? The College of Engineering at PSU seems quite taken by you, and you’ve made such good friends, such as my daughter and Miss d’Arcy.”
At Mackenzie’s surname, Nichole was very glad that she’d not only removed her ‘shiver’ code, but threatened physical violence on the Somi tech that first put it into her. A mention was one thing: if this politician raised his hand against her friends, her mission would fail in fire and blood.
“Your town is filled with wonderful, kind, people. It has been, and remains, my pleasure to get to know them!”
Mayor Johnson sighed a little, leaning forward to clasp his hands before him on his desk.
“Miss Clarke? Why are you here?”
Tempting as it was to reply, ‘your men with guns threatened me and mine,’ far too much was at stake.
“With America’s dissolution,” she did not mince words, “my country’s eastern flank is wide open. Worse, that same strong friend who promised us their shield, is gone.”
She shifted just a little in her chair, letting her eyes drop.
“We are an island with few people and fewer resources,” her eyes came back up to his. “Just like your City. I am here to… seek common ground.”
“Common ground?” He echoed back to her.
“If you survive,” she spoke bluntly; she’d no Diplomacy subroutine, “in a few years you have no choice but to begin to build a navy.”
That provoked a few interesting reaxions in him! She saw.
“When you do, we would like to meet you, as Friends and Ally.”
She recrossed her hands. Your move.
He picked up a pen to his left and played with it. He was flustered, she saw.
“I’d not imagined that Japan would try to take advantage of the US’s current troubles to remake their empire – ”
“The US is done for,” Nichole said, talking over him. “But, so are transracial empires. The globalist imperative of the US and western Europe is dead. Only ethno-states live.”
She pointedly looked from his head to his waist and back up, calling out his difference in the very white City he ruled.
“Friend and Ally, not subject.”
She waited while he thought.
“It would appear, Miss Clarke,” he said, seeming to collect himself, “you’re as good at diplomacy as you are with heights! Whether atop a bridge or in command of a warship.”
Her exchange with Gil had already made these pathways in her mind. From his pulse and blood pressure, she knew he was bluffing.
“Mister Mayor, understand I want no so-called leadership role at all!” She leaned back slightly, crossing her legs. “I am just here to help.”
“And how – ”
A red light began to flash on the phone next to his right arm. There was no sound. The Mayor’s eyes went to his secretary. Nichole resisted the urge to turn and look.
“Courier from downriver coming in hot,” Mrs. Kennedy said. “Urgent.”
Nichole uncrossed her legs and leaned forward.
“Perhaps I should go…?”
Johnson waved for her to stay as he rose from his chair, there was a noise of a motorcycle and skidding gravel just outside. Johnson opened the door to the study as a soldier opened the outside door. Yet another soldier, but covered in mud, staggered in, pulling his goggles up.
“Sir!” He handed a flimsy to the Mayor who took it but ignored it.
“Report” Johnson said.
“The Cannibal Army,” the messenger began, “they’ve taken the ell and see bridge; thousands of them. Sir.”
“Ell and see?” She asked.
“Lewis and Clark,” Johnson snapped at her. “The last bridge over the Columbia. Damn me for not blowing it!”
He snapped his fingers at his secretary.
“Get General [xxx] on the phone!” [what was his name?]
She nodded and left at once.
“Tell me what you know!” Johnson yelled at the messenger.
“It was – ”
“They cannot be allowed a bridgehead.” Nichole amplified.
“What?!” The Mayor turned back to her, irritated at the interruption.
My knowledge of history is vast, but I am not a soldier. Still.
“They will cross and consolidate. Once your munitions are exhausted, they will eat everyone in this city.”
The soldier than was holding the door retched slightly.
“Mayor Johnson?” Her voice was as odd as her wide open, emerald eyes. “You’ve one chance to win. Right now.”