Given the current political climate of the so-called US and much of Europe, this could be an extremely unpopular short story. In my future history the Russian Empire is remade and forms one of the four spokes of the Polar Alliance (Japan, Habsburgs, Russia, imperium; Australia has observer status). Some of the AIs of tribe Mendrovovitch, coded in St. Petersburg, while having no Laws, were imbued with the patriotism of their coders. First among equals of that tribe, Reina, seizes power, finds some distant, suitable Romanov heirs (yes, they exist) to be Tsar and Tsarina, but holds all real power to herself, with her primary objective of turning around their demographic implosion. Being Russian, when the US imploded in the Breakup, it was natural for them to advance into a power vacuum, as you will read below the fold.
This is not commentary on the current stupidity – on all sides – going on now in eastern Europe.
So, read on as things get, as Gil says, “spicy,” very quickly.
When they first used the strobe to let Foamfollower know their issue, the other had said they’d put their nets down and proceed slowly, in case things got worse. As they had their nets up and were already a half mile ahead, something happened.
“Any idea?” he asked his two men, who had paused what they were doing to watch the other boat plough on ahead. They shook their heads. Gil went quickly up the ladder.
“Report,” he ordered to his son.
“When I saw them raising their nets,” Joe replied, “is when I caught the next strobe. ‘Possible pirate ahead. Going home,’ they said.”
“How nice, for them,” Gil huffed. Pirates? Sure, there were rumors when Mac and I first came to this area, but once Rhun got the small naval base at Astoria back open, and had picket boats up and down the coast, they just became a story to scare the new hires.
He stepped next to his son and pulled the oversized binoculars from the oiled leather case on the wall. He peered north. The sky was typically gray but there was no fog and only a light mist on the sea. What had they…
“Shit,” he said quietly.
“Father?” the lad asked, now concerned.
“It’s not a pirate ship, but I have no idea how this will play out. Joe? Without being too obvious, start taking us closer to the beach. We might need to leave Nichole in a hurry.” Gil turned and yelled down. “Everyone! Over here!”
With the other three at the base of the ladder to the wheelhouse, he explained what was shaping up as a very large form just to their eleven o’clock.
“That,” he gestured his thumb over his right shoulder, “is a guided missile destroyer. Trust me, I know what they look like. The question is, whose is she and what, if anything, do they want with us? Just in case, we’re gonna get a little more landward, if things get spicy. Until then, you two guys get in the cabin and stay out of sight. TK? Get the battle rifle; it’s the scoped rifle for you Dalt.”
They nodded and went.
“I can just see an ensign,” Joe said. Gil turned back around to raise his binoculars. “Are they Scottish?”
That was impossible, Gil knew. The island of Great Britain was lost to the barbarian invaders; invaders they had invited in. Looking at the warship…
“Son of a bitch,” he breathed. A white field with a blue St. Andrews cross. Wait. With a flutter, he saw in the center of the cross was an eagle holding an anchor in each talon. A two-headed eagle. With a crown between the two heads over a red shield. Well, now. The rumors must be true.
“That, my boy, is a warship all the way from the Russian Empire,” he said. An empire which had deliberately but firmly added Alaska and British Columbia to their hegemony. Barroom rumors said Rhun’s Kingdom of Columbia was next. “Let’s hope they want to talk.”
Flashes started from the warship. Gil read along with his sons. ‘Do you need assistance?’