While Minerva is off tending to those biologic parts of herself, and yes, I’ll get to that later, Laszlo reflects upon how they arrived were they are. As this is nothing more than a quick but total summary of Part III of “Obligations of Rank,” double-plus spoiler warning.
Personally, I seem to have contracted what is becoming my annual February bad cold. My wife came back from Galveston around 0100 Monday, so it is likely that the recirculating air on the plane carried something onto her which she was kind enough to pass onto me. Growing up, I was a sickly kid but grew out of it around puberty. Now 55.5, and drinking too much (hey, gotta keep these stories coming for y’all!), perhaps those days are returning. I hope not.
So, enjoy the flashback below the fold. More coming soon!
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Seven weeks ago, at that meeting with Mother, the Empress, she agreed that I use Lionheart to do deep space scouting for the imperium, but then orders that this new consciousness come along as my co-pilot. Minerva’s creation was something of an accident: an android containing a sliver of Reina’s mind for our trip with the Russian prince and princesses to Mars.
“My God,” Les said aloud, knowing Minerva probably heard him, “did that trip not end up as I expected.”
Their mission had several objectives. A real test of the T4 and its experimental reactionless motor, a visit to Mars to see how the Polar Alliance’s terraforming project was coming…
“And Mother trying to create a situation where I’d pick one of the two princesses as a wife,” this time a mutter. “All the while my boyfriend, Nikky, was right there, too.”
It had turned into a disaster. Kira found out she was demi-human, met the machine named Aqua, and nearly died only to live and announce she would return to Mars and spend the rest of her life there “as a midwife to this new world.” That meant Anastasia would be next in line for the Russian Imperial Throne; all she wanted to do was biomedical research. Then, he and Nikita broke up. I wanted to remain friends but he could not separate the mental, emotional, and physical components of our relationship.
And then there was the android, ostensibly his second in command of the ship but there to keep an eye on the imperial children. Yet, over the six-day trip, once out of constant signal with her totality, this Reina began to quickly evolve her own consciousness. Laszlo had found that so fascinating he arranged a chance for her to remain free of the rest of herself.
“Which, to my surprise, she took,” he muttered again, making a tiny course correction with the lines in his head, how he spoke to the ship. Hitting even a tiny rock at nearly half a million kilometers per hour would be rather bad. “And then demanded I name her and requested asylum in the imperium.”
And the fact that she seems to have instantly formed an emotional attachment to me, he certainly did not say out loud, and that time she kissed me… He shook his head. She’s so young, even if she thinks very fast. I cannot exploit that; not that I would, she being a female.