Russian Kudzu

That’s a mixed metaphor to describe Reina, the first among equals of the machines of tribe Mendro. Not constrained by any Laws, she first recreated the Russian Empire then installed herself, seemingly permanently, as Prime Minister. Anytime she wanders into a story, she immediately begins to take it over. Like a very spicy sauce, I have to use her character sparingly, else she take over first a chapter, then later a book.

Still not recording right now (but did some exercises to get Nancy Brunelli’s voice) so wrote some more. Nearly 5000 words this weekend! Below the fold is some talk with Reina and news about Mars which I did not know. Much going on out there and it may have a surprising impact as their new novel unfolds. Cheers!

From Austin to the Texas coast and Galveston was only three and a half hours, so Edward let everyone sleep in and have a full breakfast before attending to his non-Texan assignment before they left.  In his hotel room, his chief aide gave way to the two medical specialists on the team as they attached and AED to the prince’s chest as well as some leads to the front and sides of his forehead.  Demi-human flatlining was increasingly rare with one exception and that exception was where he was headed next.

Alone in the blackness of the Void, Edward perceived his mother’s body was in Norfolk, on the Atlantic coast.  Likely seeing to how the shipbuilding facilities were coming on.  Receiving acknowledgement from her, he sighed slightly as the darkness sublimated into what appeared to be a large, open hall.  Off-white walls with gilded filigree accented by full length portraits along the walls, a décor, he knew, called Petrine Baroque.  The Empress, his mother, just ahead of him and to his left, faced the only other person in the huge room.  Sitting behind a desk nearly fifty feet away.

Little shit wants us to move first and come to her, Edward thought, not moving.  Time passed before the one behind the desk stood at last, raising her hand high in an imperial salute.

“Empress Faustina.  Prince Edward.” Reina lowered her hand.  “Be welcome.”

Often attired to look like a Chekist secret policeman, with on rare occasions wearing a formal dress, this time, for her guest, the first among equals of the machines of tribe Mendrovovitch wore a white dress uniform of the Russian Imperial Guard.  The black leather riding boots on her feet matched her short, dark hair which, excepting the inch-wide band down the right side of her face, just touched the back of her neck.  Shorter than Edward, a human would mistake her for a young boy.

Demi-human’s did not.  The Empress’s brother had nearly died in her presence once.  And how she settled the incorporation of Alaska, British Columbia, and the Kingdom of Columbia into the Russian Empire was spoken of in hushed or diplomatic terms.  Walking around her desk and halfway to her guests, Reina radiated power.

“Prime Minister,” Empress Faustina said, also advancing until they stopped about ten feet from one another, she and her son in the ranker legionary uniforms.  “When we all agree on so much, why must you sow discord where none is needed?”

“What could you possibly mean, Empress?” Her voice was soft and girlish, belying her soul.  If she has one.

“You have built permanent forts in former California – ”

“Traditional Russian territory, going back centuries,” Reina interrupted.  “And?”

“Those brush-fire battles with the Canadians – ”

“Over territory you claimed no interest in,” she looked pointedly at Edward, “over a generation ago.  And?”

“And most importantly,” the Empress said with control, “the lack of cooperation with the terraforming of Mars.”

“Our scientists and engineers have concerns,” Reina said, turning to the side and walking to a large window.  In this construct, it was bright but opened onto nothing.  “Specifically, we think you and the Japs are underestimating the volume of water released to the surface in the second deluge.  Human lives could be lost.  Russian lives could be lost.  I will not allow that.”

“Our calculations – ”

“Are likely flawed and need to be checked, demi-human.”

Edward had seen his mother in a rage before.  Several times; one directed at him.  He forced himself to not shudder in memory of it less Reina pick up on his discomfort and use it against them.  All three of them knew such a scene would be useless against the machine before them.  But if they were just a little closer, I’d bet my title on mother clouting this bitch.

To Edward’s shock, the Empress took a few quick steps to stand at the Prime Minister’s left and raised her right hand…

Is she really…!

… to rest it onto Reina’s head and rub it back and forth.  The machine’s entire image shuddered.

“Then we will recheck, Cousin,” Faustina said, leaning down and close to the little dictator.  “We all have a responsibility to those whom we care for and preserve!”

The Empress dropped her hand just before Reina could swat it away.  Edward watched two very dangerous women turn to face one another.

“Thank you, Faustina,” Reina managed with a tone as if she was talking around a bug in her mouth, hating to be gracious.

“And why,” his mother went on, jettisoning her interest in California and Canada, “did you desire my second son to be present?  A husband to Crown Princess Eugenia?”

“Pah!” Reina spat.  “Russians will only marry Russians.  No.  I want him as a guarantor of your recalculations.”

While he was not sure what the machine meant, he could tell from the hunted look in his mother’s eyes that she did.

“Yes!” Reina nodded with a hungry smile.  “I want him on Mars, in the Arabia Terra.  If you do miscalculate, he will drown and die.”

“I will not permit that to happen to my son.”

“There is nothing you can do to stop me.  That’s the deal, ‘Empress,’” Reina said snidely.  “Recalculate and put your boy in harms way, knowing I can disable any rescue craft.  Hey!  Boy!”

Addressed for the first time, Prince Edward gave a polite nod to someone who was, after all, just a Prime Minister.

“Yes, Miss Mendrovovitch?” he said to insult her.

“Do you think you can swim hundreds of miles if you mother buggers all this up?” she asked, seemingly unaffected.

“Possibly.  But I do know I will survive, if for no other reason than to vex you with the wildness and chaos of mortal thought.”

Reina scowled.  That was too close to when Helena stole the secret of the reactionless motors for her step-mother.

“Be gone.”

Edward took a huge gasp of air as he looked at the ceiling of the Austin hotel room.  One of the two medical techs muttered “arrhythmia ended and EEG returning to normal for the patient” for the record.  So:  he had not quite coded, but was getting there.

NOT HAPPY.  WILL TALK LATER.  The harsh thought from his mother came cutting into his mind.  That was something to worry about in the future.

“Well, now,” he said, sitting up and smiling to his team, “let’s get out of here and south to the beach!  I, for one, am looking forward to those Texan cuties on the Gulf!  MacDougal?  On the way there, I’m sleeping in the backseat of the car.  Let’s go!”

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