One of y’all raised the salient point of “why is the king so interested all this?” That gets addressed here. Historically, Russia is either contracting or expanding. Their stasis from 1991-2020 was an aberration. With Thinking Machine Reina calling the shots, they are back in expansion mode; they have to be. With the Maunder Minimum bringing the ice and snow south just as they have turned around their demographic implosion, they need somewhere for their people to live. So, Alaska and now British Columbia are now passing to their hegemony. Rhun is not an idiot and can read a map: his kingdom will be next.
“Huh.” He resumed his strides into the hangar. “Tell me what happened at sea yesterday.”
Desperately glad Rhun didn’t try to follow up on “…took some of us…,” Gil suppressed a sigh and began relating his story about engine trouble and their surprise help.
As he talked, Rhun would occasionally pause to look at one of the planes or helicopters on display in what had once been an air museum. Gil was getting to his drinks with Lieutenant Grammatikov when they stopped again. Before a Russian MiG-17.
“And you told him an overview, I suppose, of politics here?” the king asked, eyes still on the old warplane.
“Yes, Sire.” Gil swallowed. “Nothing that any trader passing through Portland wouldn’t hear.”
“Any idea what the Russians have been up to lately, Haven?” Rhun asked, finally turning to face him.
“My house doesn’t have a radio and our once-weekly local paper doesn’t exactly have an international news bureau,” he replied.
The king smiled. He seems to enjoy the candor; or that’s just a trap.
“About the time I established my kingdom,” Rhun began, “the Russians were just putting pressure on the Alaskans. Like Texas, they have their own oil and own grid but getting spare parts was more of a problem. They were doing some trade with British Columbia…”
“But British Columbia didn’t send warships, and later two companies of troops, into Cook Inlet and the city of Anchorage.” Rhun turned to walk again. “Nothing was said, so far as I know, about formal annexation, but I don’t see the Bear letting something like Alaska out of their claws.”
He paused again before some single-engine prop plane that looked and did not look like a fighter.
“Six months ago, the government in Vancouver, BC, got a similar offer from the Russians: ‘nice province you have there; shame if it were to break.’” He grunted. “They’ve not said ‘yes’ yet, but I’ve no doubt they will. Their little navy just isn’t up to the task.”
“And now, Subject Haven,” the king whirled about and loomed over Gil, “one of their warships is off my coastline and in our waters. Rescue mission, my ass. They were and are scouting our naval and coastal defenses!”
Rhun leaned back and shook his head.
“Not that we have anything; nothing that could go toe to toe with their navy,” he admitted. “I’m back to see if there’s a bite for breakfast. If you can keep your clothes on, Teresa, why don’t you stay with Haven a moment.”