Frying pan to fire

Faustina gets out of the hospital at last.  We see a little more of her odd cult as well as a demonstration as to why she’s so good at fostering it.  She takes a ride with her sister-in-law.  More politics next then – I hope – a flight with her brother back to Savannah.  Busy, busy!

 

Nine days later Faustina moved carefully about her hospital room, wearing her ranker’s legion uniform.  Packing up.  Her doctor, the old Bob Rosse, was against her leaving so soon.  So was her brother.  Her nurse… was in the doorway with a dire look on her Saxon face.  Without a word, Tamera Keynes came in and began to help her to pack.  Faustina saw her pause at the stack of books on the stand next to her bed.

“I thought you could just read anything with your mind?” Tamera asked, looking at the front and back of the thick, yellowing paperback on top.  “Imperium” by Francis Yockey, she saw.  “Or is this just all for show?”

“Like my machine family, I ‘see’ information in a way very hard to describe to you normies,” Tamera’s patient replied with her usual tact.  “Sometimes… I like to luxuriate in ideas.  Especially ideas that appeal to me.”

“So what’s special about this one?” her nurse asked, holding up what was already in her hand.

“Yockey was not the first human to recognize the civilizations are a meta-intelligence, but he was able to put pieces together as to what we should do with that knowledge; for example, make an Empire.” Faustina explained, while folding a shirt.  “And as you might surmise, I take a somewhat open approach to other forms of life and intelligence!”

“Sheesh,” Tamera allowed, picking up all the books and putting them into the cardboard box her brother had brought them in.  “Just how many trips are you going to need to get all this out – ”

“One,” Faustina replied with a glance over her shoulder at the north-facing window.  “I’m allowing some of my more eager followers to help me out.”

“Followers!” her nurse hissed.  “I’ve not seen you dead like your brother, Doctor Hartmann has, but I have seen you at your worst!  You are not what you think you are, Faustina!”

She paused to walk over and lightly touch her right hand to her nurse’s cheek for using her given name for the first time.

“You are right.  I am much more than I think I am,” she agreed before turning back to try to zip up her single piece of luggage.  There was a tap at the door.  A young man and woman – both with their heads shaved – smiled and waited to be acknowledged.  To Faustina’s eyes they were at least engaged if not married.  From the young woman’s smell, she could tell she was just recently pregnant.

“Welcome!  John and Sue, wasn’t it?  Thank you for helping me to my sister-in-law’s car!  If you, John, could get this heavy piece of luggage, I’ll get the box of books.  Sue?  That smaller box of get-well cards you can carry,” Faustina said with a smile that she could tell her nurse hated.

“But… Princess!” Sue exclaimed.  “I’ll get the books!  You are still not fully well…!”

She gasped as Faustina cross the few steps to her and put both hand onto Sue’s lower abdomen while giving her a little kiss on her cheek.

“You must do nothing to upset the child inside you,” the Princess whispered to her subject.  “If a boy, I want him to be a centurion of mine!”

Both normies held each other tearfully, professing they didn’t know.  When pressed by Faustina they admitted they were to be married in two months.  When their Princess ordered them to be married tomorrow, they swore they would.

“That was servile,” Tamera said, disgusted, once Faustina’s helpers had departed with the luggage and light box.

“You, friend, are old enough to recall the world before the Breakup,” Faustina said with an oof! as she picked up her box of books, “and that world is dead.  Monarchy, aristocracy, hierarchy are the future.”

“And when there’s a revolution?” Keynes pushed, not one to ever give in.

“There won’t be; humans are weak; humans die.  I and those like me are not and will not.  See you later, friend!” Faustina said, getting the last word in as she passed through the doorway.

Her hands holding the box of books, Faustina could only nod and smile to the hospital staff on the ground floor as she walked outside.  Just there was Henge, closing the trunk of her small car.  John and Sue stood off to the left a little bit.  Her sister-in-law took the box from her and placed it into the backseat.  Henge went around to the driver’s side while Faustina once more thanked the young couple who helped her.

“There are times, sister,” Henge said as Faustina eased into the passenger seat next to her, “that I do not see where you going:  your legions; your followers here in the City.”

“I would guess, silly sister,” Faustina rejoined, pulling her seatbelt on, “that even though you have a mind greater than any human, ever, you have only a normie’s imagination.”

“Perhaps,” Henge was very used to her younger sister-in-law’s slights and they bothered her not at all.  They crossed over the river and Henge used to Cumberland Avenue to take them quickly to the east and to Faustina’s appointment at the City-County Building.

“Any idea what MacRae wants?” Henge asked.

“As this is just him – and maybe his aides – and not the whole Council, I don’t think this will be too formal,” Faustina mused, randomly waving at people.

“Isn’t the meeting of two sovereigns always a matter of formality, sister?” Henge teased her.

“That I’m called ‘princess’ is well know,” Faustina allowed.  “Perhaps just as well known is the final plebiscite slated for the late fall where his position will become permanent.  The next, obvious step, is to make the position hereditary.”

“Thinking of marrying MacRae’s son, Fussy?” the driver teased more.

“I’ve thought about it, yes,” Faustina said, secretly pleased at the look of shock in Henge’s golden eyes.  “I know he’s only five right now, but he could probably get me pregnant when he’s thirteen or so, right?  A start to our dynasty.”

Henge pulled to a halt in front of the office building.

“You joke about dangerous things, dear sister,” Henge managed after talking briefly with her father about what the demi-human just claimed.  I shall find a parking spot and wait for you.  And if anything goes wrong, I’ll come running.

I’ll be fine.  But thank you, Henge!  Faustina replied, slowly getting out and stepping to the sidewalk.

At the desk just inside the door one of MacRae’s men told her she was expected in the First Councilman’s office.

“If the elevator’s broke again he’ll have to come to me!” she said so everyone could hear.  “I am not walking up eight flights!”

“It’s working today, Miss.  We made sure of it.”

Out the elevator and right, Faustina walked carefully in a slow, measured pace.  Even with the plebiscite coming he is in no position to either give me secret orders or outstrip what the other four Councilmen would put up with.  I cannot imagine this being a social visit… perhaps more about the negotiations with Beijing?  She paused before his secretary but the young man was already standing to open the door for her.

Michael MacRae was, for once, wearing a traditional business suit rather than the paramilitary field gray that his minions did.  He faced away from her and the door, looking out the floor-to-ceiling window north at the city of Knoxville.  The blue sky was about half occluded by fluffy white clouds.  It promised to be a warm, near-summer day.  He turned around and surprised her by smiling and indicating she take a seat on one of the two couches facing a coffee table to her left.

So:  informal.  I must be cautious.

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