I’ve actually put down about 2.5k words tonight… on a DayJob night! But the two parts are very distinct from each other. This is Faustina with her mother and niece. Next comes formal politics, domestic and foreign. Sometimes small updates are best updates.
Having just finished her laps in the pool when her mother brought her niece into the small natatorium, Faustina stayed in so Aurelia would have a chance to swim. Her eagerness was written all over her little face.
“Why is it she wears a navy-colored school one-piece if she doesn’t go to a school?” Faustina asked her mother. She held onto an edge of the pool and rhythmically kicked her legs behind her.
“It’s what Henge picked out for her,” Faustina’s mother, Callie, replied, sitting in a white plastic chair a foot from the pool. “Given, of course, what she is, like you regular schooling was impossible.”
“I’m glad she likes her Sisterhood, though,” Faustina said, kicking a little faster. “She doesn’t seem to be getting picked on as I did!”
“She hasn’t gone about telling everyone how much better she is than they are!” Callie took a short breath. “I’m sorry; that was rude of me, daughter.”
“It was truthful, Mom,” Faustina replied, looking up to smile.
“Are you okay? You look like your overdoing it…” Callie said with concern.
Faustina slowed her pace then stopped. Again with her left, she pushed herself out of the water. Her niece immediately stopped her practice and swam over.
“You’re not getting’ out, are you, Princess?” Aurelia asked in concern.
“Not at all, Aurie! I just wanted to talk with your grandmother a little more!”
“Oh.” The little girl tread water for a moment before continuing. “Can I see your foot?”
“Sure!” Faustina replied, knowing what she meant. She raised her left foot just out of the water.
Aurelia brought herself very close to her aunt’s three remaining toes but didn’t touch.
“Does it hurt?” she asked softly.
“Nope. I guess I’m going to need special shoes, too, little niece,” Faustina said, using her big toe to touch Aurelia’s nose. “We should get something that matches!”
Her eyes were like hen’s eggs as she looked up to her aunt.
“Can I get legion boots like you have?” she asked in awe.
“That, Aurie, is a great idea!” Another nose-flick. “I’ll have one of my quartermasters get you a pair once I’m back. Now you go swim a few laps; I’ll be back in in just a moment.”
A nod and she vanished below the water, breaking the surface in the opposite lane in a backstroke.
“I’m glad she takes after her mother,” Faustina said, “Big brother is so weird.”
“Pot, kettle, my daughter?” her mother asked with a laugh. “But I get what you mean. Gary’s different.”
“He and Henge are perfect for each other,” Faustina agreed with a nod. “I hope I find someone while I’m still fertile.”
“You’re only eighteen, Fussy, you’ve plenty of time!” Callie leaned forward to rub the dark stubble on her head a little. “Finding a husband might be easier if you weren’t playing general all the time, too.”
“I am afraid,” Faustina said with a sigh that shook her battered body, “that’s not changing. I know none of us believe in coincidences, but I also know – know, Mom – that I have a destiny. To deny that is to blank my own life.”
Before her mother could reply, Faustina fell into the water and set off to catch her niece.
Twenty minutes later, on the Rehab room’s patio, Callie watched her daughter drink her protein shake and her granddaughter her whole milk.
“I understand why Thaad stepped in to keep Henge safe,” Callie continued with her line of thought, “but with her gone these two weeks, what has kept the Chinese from pummeling Savannah into rubble?”
For being your father’s adopted daughter, you sure think a lot like him, Faustina was wise enough to not say.
“This is the second time, that I know of, that they’ve lost control of one of their platforms,” Faustina replied, pausing to drink more of her slurry. “They know my other family is involved and I think it was them skittish enough to not push. From their standpoint, what’s the difference between not being able to rod a city in ex-America and having five dropped into Beijing?”
“I see that,” her mother agreed with a nod. “Are you going to lead your forces north against Wilmington, next, to eject them completely from the continent?”
“That’s a possibility that I and my legates have considered,” Faustina replied, intrigued how much her niece was following their conversation with no childish interruption. “But I would rather talk them out, if I can. Also, I’ve no mandate from MacRae or the Council to do that. It would make me look…”
She set her empty cup down and stared northeast toward the Tennessee River.
“Lawless,” she concluded.
The three sat quietly for a few moments.
“About that,” Aurelia sudden spoke up, her gold eyes seemed to flicker as she pointed with her left hand toward the door into Rehab. Mrs. Keynes was escorting a young man who wore the semi-uniform of MacRae’s men.
“She’s here,” her nurse said, waving the man forward while she stood holding the door open.
“Message from the First Councilman, Miss,” he said politely, handing over a tri-folded piece of paper sealed with wax. Sometimes the old ways were the most secure.
“Thank you… er…” Faustina knew his face but could not recall his name.
“Mister Robertson,” Aurelia spoke up, eyes still sparkling. He nodded and withdrew. Faustina saw Tamera’s look telling her to wrap things up.
“Well, now!” Faustina said, snapping the seal, “what might this be? Censure? Reprimand?”
As she scanned the few lines, Faustina allowed the smile to take over her face.
“Fussy?” her mother asked, curious but hopeful.
“This does not leave this table until official,” her daughter said, still smiling. “But the Chicoms want to talk.”
She leaned forward in her wheelchair to hold her mother.
“I did it, Mom! I won!”
“Yea!” Aurelia added.