As y’all read when Gil was a guest on the Russian destroyer, the local politics are a little complicated. The city of Portland survived the Breakup (along with San Diego, although they are occupied by Mexico) and kept trade down the Columbia River open, the hydroelectric dams up the river running, and the farmers and ranchers south in the Willamette Valley supplied with POL and fertilizer. Yet, even by the time of “Friend & Ally,” said farmers and ranchers had begun to set up something of a local governor in the old State capitol of Salem, as a counter-balance to Portland.
Then, as you read in “Foes & Rivals,” Mayor Johnson of Portland first makes a deal with the horsemen of the eastern steppe to crush the cannibals in former Washington State’s central valley. But second goes back on that deal and tries to betray his new allies. It didn’t work and many heads ended up on pikes. It was at that time when Nichole took Gil and Mackenzie and fled. Once order was reestablished, the commander of the horsemen, Rhun, set himself up as king – Nichole’s idea – with limited autonomy for Portland and the Willamette Valley. Honestly, it’s an ad hoc muddle, as Gil told one of his Russian hosts.
We’ll learn more over the course of this week.
At that Kult looked around at the hangar and seemed to reach a conclusion. The other plane was just coming west toward where they were and he jogged out next to his aircraft. A series of waving arm motions had the other taxi very slowly into the old dirigible hangar itself, stopping about twenty yards in. The ten armed men pulled their perimeter back.
The second plane killed both of its props. Peale took time to fish a handkerchief out of his back pocket to mop at his sweat, wondering what came next.
This time, when the rear door opened, two men dropped out a short stairway, came down, and snapped to attention, saluting. A third man – dear God, Gil thought, dressed in homespun rags like the Huns, the horsemen who ravaged Portland! – descended and took two more steps.
“His Majesty! King Rhun of Columbia!” the herald shouted to the small assembly in the great hangar.
Gil froze along with everyone else. They had all seen the handbills when Rhun made a ceremonial visit to his vassal governor in Salem but he’d obvious never once been to the coast outside of the small naval base in Astoria. To look at, maybe ten years older than I am, but maybe that’s just stress. Nichole told me he wanted her as one of his wives and she had tried to exploit that. Nicer, clean homespun about his shoulders but military camo pants and similar boots. He limped slightly to his right. That’s right, he recalled, he’d taken a bullet and had his lower leg sawed off by a subordinate, with no anesthetic. No crown or display of rank but he carries himself like a ruler.
While Rhun exchanged some quiet words with the mayor, Gil’s eyes were attracted by motion back to the plane. A woman his age stepped down. Multi-mixed race, hair teased out like a lion’s mane. Oh my God. One of the king’s many mistresses. The daughter of the mayor-dictator of Portland who Rhun had slew with his own hands. For politics, Rhun still took her and had her handle much of the administration of the City.
And once, the PSU pool, we were naked and she and I…
Teresa Johnson stepped to the ground and looked about. When she saw Gil, she gave a feral grin. He thought to reach for the walkie-talkie in the small of his back, but forced himself to do no more than a tiny nod.
“…and if you would like, King,” the mayor was saying, “we have some food and drink for you and your entourage…”
“Maybe later!” Rhun nearly shouted. “And there had better be alcohol! Now, as for the reason I’m here…”
He trailed off and looked over his shoulder at Teresa, who nodded at Gil.