Last night was family movie night: the Charlton Heston version of “Ben Hur.” I was pleased that my teen girls sat still and seemed to take all three hours of it in. Gen Zyklon indeed! However, as a opportune result of that I was unable to scare up time to write. Priorities: God, family, friends.
Late this afternoon at DayJob, I mentioned to Friend Tracy that I not only didn’t know what to write, I had not idea what I wasn’t going to write.
“You’ll be fine.” She tossed back. There’s a reason I love (storge) her.
Looking at dinner, leftover Hungarian chicken paprikash, I thought about that. Hungarians. The Viszegrad Group… the survival of central and eastern Europe. What would that look like in my world…?
Let’s find out.
Arpad Rigó looked up from the paper that his boss, Minister Marek, had just handed to him.
“A hardship post. Again.” He crumpled the edges of the paper in his suppressed anger.
The Foreign Minister laughed at him from his chair behind his huge oak desk.
“Your fault, Rigó!” He laughed. “As an underofficer you diffused the Lvov Situation. After joining the Foreign Office what you did in Latvia caught the Emperor’s eye!”
Arpad sat still in the rickety antique chair opposite the Minister’s desk.
“But…” He waved the paper in the air. “Former America? Texas, of all places? What does the Empire want with a bunch of cowboys?”
The Minister’s chair creaked as he sat back.
“Those ‘cowboys’ carved out their own nation against a hostile Mexico and their former masters, who, let me remind you, nuked one of their cities!” He watched as his boss turned slightly to look out the window at the Danube. “They are one of three places – that we know of – in North America that are not in a state equal to that of sub-Saharan Africa right now!”
“But their Checka – ”
The Minister turned back to him and waved his complaint away.
“They died with that ship, years ago. They’ve a functioning nation and, more importantly, very interesting allies.”
Arpad didn’t move. Everyone knew about the AI’s: the machines made in Japan that were now everywhere and nowhere.
“So… my mission…”
“We’ve already a legation of a few diplomats there. Likely in a few months the Emperor will call it an embassy. That’s all well and good for politics! But,” the Minister leaned onto his desk, clasping his hands before him, “we need insight into why artificial intelligences from the Far East are so taken by Texas.”
“Good!” His boss pushed a thicker folder across his desk. “Your papers and tickets are inside along with some additional background material.”
Arpad leaned forward and took it. All was fairly routine until he flipped to a large photograph of some young Chinese woman. She wore what looked like hospital scrubs and had a winning smile on her face. He picked it up and turned it around.
“Very good! She’s why we’re sending you, Rigó! Not only is she the daughter of the dead Checkist leader but, more importantly, our intelligence service tells us she’s very, very close with those machines.”
“Um.” A noncommittal sound. Arpad did note that on the back of the photograph was a printed label.