What? You really thought having King Rhun show up was a key plot point? My future history is called Machine Civilization for a reason.
Off to co-celebrate my daughters’ 19th and 21st birthdays in a bit. I’m hoping to get one more scene typed today then see what they can show me before Mass tomorrow.
Not knowing how Teresa knew about Mac, Gil could only guess what else she might know. Not that there really is; we’ve kept to ourselves these two decades.
Joe had already evacuated from his perch on the old theater once Gil told him about the coming speech and who was giving it and gone home, so his next call…
“Mike? Dad.” He said into the walkie-talkie. “Pass on to the family we’ll be hosting a copy of VIPs for a light dinner in a few hours. You all help your mother. Got that?”
“Got it, Dad. Calling home then getting out of here now. Over,” the boy replied.
“Good enough?” he asked Teresa with a raised eyebrow.
“I like how you called it a ‘light dinner,’” she smiled. “Don’t want anyone sticking around too long?”
“We don’t exactly have a larder fit for,” Gil tossed his head to the crowd behind him, “a king. Anything else I should know?”
He saw her thinking as she led him even further away from the political event, stopping only when she came to three horses. Two had mounted, armed men from the Nation. Teresa swung up onto the riderless one.
“How old is your oldest daughter?” she asked out of the blue.
“What the hell does that mean?” he demanded, thinking the worst.
“The king has an eye for the ladies. No, he won’t abduct anyone but he might try to charm the skirt off her. So: how old?”
“My eldest is fifteen,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Oh, too young.” That predatory smile again. “Nichole was probably the youngest girl he’d ever hit on, and she was what, twenty-three-ish? Go get your motorbike and lead us.”
Retrieving his bike and kickstarting it to life, Gil was not about to tell the king’s concubine that Nichole was only just over four years old. He moved out, slow, with the horses following at trot then canter on the two-lane highway north. She called on him to stop a couple of times, asking questions about the now-closed creameries and cheese factories.
“Without a rail line,” Gil spoke up over the putter of his bike’s engine, “it’s not economical anymore. This area used to be renowned for its cheese. It’s still good but we’ve no way to get to a market.”
“Over the Coastal Range…?” Teresa began but stopped at Gil’s shake of his head.
“Better would be the line that used to parallel this road,” he pointed north. “All the way to Astoria, just like the mayor said. That would change everything along this fifty-mile stretch.”
“I’ll pass that on,” she said with a nod and a wave for him to go on.
Seeing his land, house, and outbuildings coming up on the left, Gil slowed again. I hope they were able to get everything…
He abruptly braked to a halt. What had been obscured by the curve of the road, trees, and his workshop… Just off of the ground. Gray. A disc maybe fifty yards in diameter with a bulge in the center. A flying saucer. There was no other way to describe it.
“Something up, Haven?” Teresa asked, bringing her horse alongside. “That your place… WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!”
At her outburst, the two escorts came forward with their machine pistols in their hands and pointed forward. Gil did not like that.
“Teresa? That’s my home with my five kids in it. Please tell your men to stand down,” he demanded.
“Hold up, you two!” she called at once. “I’ll get this settled straight away.”
But she leaned over to whisper to Gil.
“You keep a fucking UFO in your backyard? What the fuck, Haven!” she hissed at him.
“It’s not mine – ” he began but stopped when a figure walked out the front door and onto the wrap-around porch. A young woman in some kind of military overalls. With strawberry blond hair.
No. It cannot be…
“Friend Gil! And Friend Teresa!” Nichole 5 Clarke amplified, smiling and waving. “It is so good to see you both again!”