Even being tired at DayJob, I’m still trying to write down the reels I was shown on vacation. I think I’m as interested in Sky as Robert is, so she makes a quick reappearance. Additionally, a fellow Gabber has been having some health issues, so, besides praying for him, I also borrowed what little elements I know about him to create Tribune Atkinson of Tenth Legion. He’s only a bit part here but looms large at a meeting next morning. That’s likely 2-3 installments from now, ’cause it’s not just Sky who the young prince unexpectedly encounters in this pub…
After some clarification from their fellow legionaries, it was just over a quarter of an hour later when they pulled up to the open gate of a cohort-sized fort just north of the eastern end of the tiny airstrip. Everyone dismounted for orders. The resupply truck was driven by one of the local legionary non-combatants into the fort proper while they all gathered to hear the conversation between Hill and Tribune Atkinson.
“…beside what we brought y’all we’re also just tooling about to sound the locals about hearts and minds,” Hill was saying. “Specifically, do those hearts and minds bend north or south?”
The tribune said nothing for a few moments. While he did not know his file, Robert could see that this man, somewhere in his fifties, had gone gray in the service to the Empress. He did know that Atkinson commanded the first three cohorts of Tenth Legion, scattered all over Kentucky.
“The Canadians have just recently crossed the Ohio and seem to think the four hundred square miles just south of Cincinnati are now theirs,” the tribune said in a low, measured voice.
“We’ve, ah, just hours ago, heard something to that effect,” his centurion said without a look back at his G-2. “How’s things here in what seems to still be the capital?”
Atkinson paused and looked at Hill’s men.
“Why not get your boys sorted for the evening, then you and I can have a talk, Centurion,” he said.
“Of course, sir.”
While the tribune wandered off, Hill waved his men around him.
“Just like last time, lads,” their centurion said, “pair up and wander about. This and Louisville are likely the biggest towns these people have, and this one’s also a center of government. Be polite and friendly and keep your ears open! I’ll see everyone at our oh-seven-hundred briefing tomorrow. Dismissed.”
“Any ideas, Mitch?” Robert asked his coeval.
“Jimmy was headed for one of the distilleries but did mention a few bars in town he’s already heard of,” Connell began. “There’s one right downtown, on the river, where the road crosses a bridge straight up to their capital building. That’s politics and drinking, right there!”
“A good plan,” Robert agreed. “Transport?”
Mitch waved him to follow. In a storage shed just inside the gate were a dozen ebikes. Robert now recalled what his siblings would never have forgotten: one of the last acts of the Knoxville paramilitary Society was to install one of their trademark little pebble-bed thorium fission reactors here. In Frankfort, electricity would not be a concern.
They unplugged two and signed the paperwork before pushing them out. After the storm, it was a bit cool and the sun was getting low in the west.
“You know the way?” Robert asked.
“Have I ever not ended up at a bar, Bob?” Mitch laughed.
Leaving the base, they went east on an old, cracked highway for about half a mile. From the crest of a ridge they paused to look down into the city’s heart, with the Capital Building just off to their right. A quick glide downhill to the river and over a bridge, Mitch turned them left before swinging off the bike in front of another 19th century building. This one was of red brick and two stories tall. In gold lettering on a green background, a sign proclaimed “The George & Dragon.” They entered the door on their right, a bell tinkled above them as they did.
“Welcome, gents!” called a gray whiskered man behind the long bar just ahead of them. There were stairs up to their right and several tables to the left. Ahead, they could see more tables and a door open to a deck giving a look over the Kentucky River.
“Evening, sir,” Robert said with a smile and nod. “We just got into town and heard this is about the best place in Frankfort!”
“That’s a comforting lie!” the man laughed. Over his street clothes he wore a green apron. “If our drinks don’t kill you, our food will!”
“Let’s start with a pint of what’s local and we’ll see,” Mitch contributed. Those two poured, they were just wondering where to strike up a conversation when another apron-clad figure came in from the outside deck. A much shorter figure.
“Hey! Gus! I need two – You!” the girl cried.
“I told you we’d meet again, Sky,” the young prince smiled at her. “I just didn’t think it would be the same day!”