Crested 51k total words today; lay down about 4k. My liver might be dying but I seem to be getting the hang of writing on my days off. Fausta’s combat android has just shown up in the Knoxville area along with important things… such as the plot! Some unusual, for me, exposition below the fold.
“My Brotherhood was talking about the Savannah river trade route quite recently,” Gary said as he peddled between his sister and Fausta. “Is there any first-hand information that I can pass onto them at our next meeting?”
“The port itself,” Fausta began her reply immediately, “is reopened only as a result of the money and personnel sent by China. Do not think for a moment, Gary, that the port and city will be a part of the emerging Tennessee Valley confederation. From our single overnight stay there I learned that they plan to reopen in the Wilmington port, next.”
“Moving up the eastern seaboard… one by one,” Gary realized.
“No,” Fausta contradicted him. “The next deepwater harbor will be Newport – a mostly military facility. After that are the burnt-out shells of Baltimore then New York. It would take an army to secure a beachhead at both before they could set about port repairs.”
Fausta slowed to a stop between the next two ridges.
“And that kind of logistical skill even the Chinese do not have,” she said looking at the kids on either side of her. “Once they have consolidated Savannah expect the toll of its use to jump by several hundred percent.”
This, Gary realized, was something his family and Robert should know as soon as possible.
“And the rest of your trip?” Faustina suddenly asked. Gary turned to give his little sister an admiring look which she ruined by crossing her eyes at him.
“Quiet. White farmers around Augusta; Black around Anderson,” Fausta replied. “As we had two river gunboats at our fore and one aft, no-one bothered us.”
“I bet!” Fussy smiled. “And overland?”
Fausta nodded at her namesake’s persistence.
“We disembarked just after Anderson and met with the escorts from Knoxville.” She paused to look at the two again. “Many of them are also members of your so-called Society. They are very well trained!”
For Fausta that was quiet an allowance.
“Our now-convoy skirted west of Greenville – plague – before coming north to Asheville,” seeing the siblings look at each other and mouth ‘plague?’ “Another armed team took us over the old Interstate that just misses the Smoky Mountains to their east. Their ad hoc repairs are obvious but to their credit they do work!”
A half mile from their house the two kids convinced Fausta to shut off her motorcycle.
“You seek to use me to surprise your parents,” she said while pushing, seeing their intent.
“Hee hee!” Faustina laughed.
“So you were delivering something to the Oak Ridge Labs,” Gary asked, trying to get their conversation back on track.
“Indeed,” Fausta replied. “With the Savannah Chicom-colony getting their port reopened it was thought best to come up their river and over the mountain passes, rather than the roundabout way of the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers.”
“Were you a courier or security?” Faustina asked.
“Yes.” A typical answer for her. “Ah: your home! It looks just as we’ve seen in your memories!”
What would have panicked most humans was normative for the Hartmann siblings.
They were close enough to use the house’s signal.
I’ll go ahead and see where they are! His little sister dashed off with her bike.
“She has changed much; and will more,” Fausta said.
“We… father and I, are trying to show her her limits.”
Gary had one last question. A question that impacted him and his family.
“Fausta? You alluded to the separation of Whites and Blacks,” he said quickly before his sister reported back. “I’d imagine they – and their new Chinese masters – all keep to themselves?”
She paused to look at him. She paused again to consider his genetics and the question he was asking.
“You know full well that diversity plus proximity equals war; your Breakup was just one more proof of that,” she replied, rubbing a glove-clad knuckle against his Prussian cheekbones below his almond eyes. “While I am very young, I fear that you and my little niece shall never truly find a place you will call ‘home.’”
“I am sorry,” she said as gently as she could.