I don’t know what life was like for European royals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps it was all one long string of social engagements? Perhaps some actually had important duties to perform? The children of Russia and the imperium are tools; tools for AI’s, tools for demi’s in places of power. I’ve noted a near-fatalism among this little band. To some extent these are my stories, and you can go all the way back to “The Fourth Law,” nearly seven years ago, when young Lily Barrett told her boyfriend, “Death is as light as a feather. Duty is as heavy as a mountain.” Obviously, this echoes through all of Machine Civilization.
Something is definitely up with what Laszlo is thinking about Reina’s android. I wonder where that’s going?
Crossing from one building to another allowed them to look left out the clear tubeway to the sea. Just on was a small room with scattered folding chairs facing an altar table with a Protestant and Russian Orthodox crosses and a Catholic crucifix. When all three knelt without a word, Medved excused himself.
After praying for Kira, Laszlo sent a request to be allowed guest access to the facility’s wifi. Granted at once, he shoved everything which had happened since they left the ship to Reina’s android. She said nothing in reply but Les could sense a great sadness. Besides Kira’s medical reports, all other data was denied him. At least she seems okay. He levered himself up into a chair and waited for his friends.
Minutes later, Nikky looked up then moved a chair next to Les. Annie did the same, forming a triangle. They let their arms rest across each others’ shoulders.
“As you heard me say,” Laszlo began softly, “we met Aqua. He said his immediate agenda involved Kira. Then they joined hands. Very dangerous.”
“Given her condition now,” he continued, “I think she’ll be fine. However I do not know what they said to one another in that moment. Given what Kirry said to us… well… it was obviously significant.”
“Is… is she coming home with us?” Anastasia asked.
“I’ve no idea.”
“We should never have come here,” Nikita almost sobbed.
“We had no choice,” Laszlo countered. “Kira being modified? My mother’s plots? Whatever Aqua is doing?”
Finally, he lowered his head, sighing and shuddering.
“We never had a chance.”
“Well now,” Les said, ever practical, standing but holding Nikky’s hand, “let’s get something to eat while she’s sleeping. Per the original schedule we were to be leaving in two hours but that is likely no longer the case.”
Medved was a few yards down in the hallway thumbing something into his phone when they exited and asked about food. He led them to the cafeteria before excusing himself to check on Kira. Les and Nikky got fruit. Annie had grabbed a bag of chips then paused and put it back before getting an apple instead.
“Thinking about your future husband, oh Great Tsarina?” Nikita teased.
“Yes,” was her deadpan answer. “I’m too feminine to attract Les, here, so it’ll be some Russian oligarch Reina picks for me. The Habsburg prince is only thirteen, so he’s out.”
Nikky muttered an apology. Annie shook her head.
“All of us are much older on this voyage. For a reason.” She took a bite of her apple.
Les stood just as Medved came into the cafeteria.
“Kira’s awake,” Laszlo said, preempting their host. “Let’s go.”
Her bed was elevated nearly sixty degrees and she was wrapping up her conversation with Nurse Green. Her open eyes were not just bioluminescent but glowed a ruddy red. Disconcerting to humans. The three royals waited until the NP finished his questions before surrounding the bed.
“To answer your question, sister, yes: I shall be coming with you to Manhome. To your question, Friend Les, yes, we will be back to Control in just a few hours. However, I shall return to Aqua on the next freighter out.”
She closed her eyes.
“And here I shall remain.”
While Anastasia sniffled her brother spoke up.
“What was that word you just used, Kirry? Mannheim?” he asked.
“Manhome,” she corrected, reopening her bright eyes. “I am older to use Aqua’s term. I meant Mars.”
It was obvious the nurse wanted his patient to remain under his observation for at least another half-day, but Green informed the group he had been overridden and they were allowed to leave immediately. Just who made that override went unspoken, though they all knew.