Just back from a grueling 3-day weekend: flight to St. George, Utah via Phoenix, followed by a 1944-mile drive back to central Ohio. All to retrieve Daughter #1 from her five week internship at Best Friends Animal Shelter. To her credit, she impressed them so much that they said they would hold a slot open for her next summer if she wants in. She is thinking about it. That’s my girl!

Below the fold is a short update to Prince Laszlo’s story. Knowing this would be a hard weekend, I only took a few notes and mostly watched the movies in my mind about what comes next. I think I saw about two chapters worth. This is going to be very political.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

Not quite seething two hours later, Laszlo had completed his briefing from the techs on the ground.  He could certainly pull official information from the Void, but that left hundreds of little mods and workarounds which were certainly not official.  That would have been fine for his jaunt to St. Petersburg but not for a crew full of royals on an interplanetary journey.  With additional supplies being loaded on, Les walked into the hanger, accompanied by the Chief Engineer and Lead Tech.

“It looks impressive, what being a hundred meters long and ten in diameter,” the Chief smiled at his VIP guest, waving at the ship ahead, “but just over eighty percent of that is the reactor.  Living quarters are forward.  There are a few window ports but they are normally closed under the hull.  Everything on the bridge is done by screens.”

“Any secondary propulsion at all?” Les knew some older models had such for minor orbital corrections.

“Nope,” the Tech replied.  “The tee four is all reactionless.”

“Integral weapons?” He didn’t think so but it made sense to ask.

“No,” the Chief said, “but the storage bay is hardened and could potentially be fitted with missiles or rods.  This ship is a test of speed, not war.”

“I understand completely,” Les said politely as they resumed their walk alongside the ship.  “That is what the rest of the Imperial Space Navy is for!”

The three men shared a look and a laugh.  The ISN was at this time two fifty-meter spheres – also experimental – called destroyers, being tested in high orbit.  In that regard, the Russians and Japanese were far ahead of the imperium, even with tonnage regulated by the Attu Treaty.  But those powers had nothing this fast.

“Which is why,” the crown prince continued his thought out loud, “while this seems like a royal lark or joyride, it is also a very public demonstration of what our scientists and engineers can do.  Know that the Empress closely follows your work here and is very pleased with what y’all have accomplished!”

The aft of the craft looked no different than fore; the miracle motor had no exhaust and was in the core of the vessel, at its center of gravity.  With another sinking feeling, it just occurred to the young man that the Richard, while looking like a huge baton, could be mocked as also looking like a sex toy for the gods.  Mother could not have not known that when she proposed this trip!

Back around to the front, they climbed metal stairs to the hatch on the side.

“There are only three crew decks,” the chief continued his tour.  “The mess, forward, then sleeping and bathrooms, then the command deck.  As you can see, only on that level, here, do the seats pivot ninety degrees:  one position for in-flight and the other for while in a gravity well.”

Les nodded again, following forward to the crew quarters proper.  Everything was attached to the bulkhead they passed through, as that would be “down” while in flight.  Similar for the mess:  tables and chairs were bolted or welded to the wall behind him; the chairs were stowed.  Other techs and ground crew were stocking cabinets and small refrigerators before locking those, as well.

“I hope someone remembered to bring some Russian delicacies for my guests!” Les began to laugh.  He stopped when he saw the look of horror on the two men’s faces.  “A joke, gentlemen.  I’m sure whatever you have put aboard will be fine.  Grits, after all, will be something new and exotic to the imperial princesses!”

That was enough for the two to recover some of their color.  They turned about, stopping when back into the command deck.

“My departure isn’t for another two hours or so and I’d like to get familiar with the systems,” the crown prince told them.  “Let me know if there are any changes.  I’ll… the Empress will expect me to make a little speech before I go, so have your people together then.  I thank y’all both.”

Three hours later, speech over, Laszlo Hartmann sat in the command chair:  skinsuit on, helmet on but faceplate open.  His hands rested on the chair’s armrests.  The data flowing across the touchscreens was a poor second to that poured into his mind from the ship.  Once clear of the hangar, he immediately moved it five hundred feet up.  There seemed to be no lag in the ship’s reaction when he used his lines rather than the cabin’s controls.

“Let’s see what you can do, Lionheart!” His preferred name for the ship. A four gee lift had them punch a hole in the sky at over a thousand miles per hour, on their way to Russia.

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