Different Coloured Hats

This brings up to about 4000 words. I an realize that I said yesterday is correct: I do not know the government nor politics of the Northern Federation. It’s core is Maine and New Hampshire, with affiliated territories from Vermont and central and western Massachusetts, making it about the smallest of the entities to survive the Change (which, I saw, is still called the Breakup by them). Until I understand their situation this far along, I cannot see Aurelia’s reaxion.

Saying all that to say this: unless I have a sudden revelation, which has happened, I’m taking the weekend off to study the problem. Aside: I do think, because of the time and the meeting, that Aurie will spend the night in their territory. Possibly at the house of one of Colour’s brothers.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

The sound of the camp’s activity was enough to wake Colour in the morning.  The other cot was empty so she made her way to the first tent flap.  Three men briefly looked up then returned to their tasks.  Staff officers?  Aides?  The light from the sun coming up over Ipswich Bay was just breaking.  She paused to see a young woman in nothing more than a gray tee shirt and panties shift from sit-ups to push-ups, listening and talking to the soldier – legionary – in tactical gear with a machine pistol in a sling across his chest tell her what he saw in his night patrol.

The man was dismissed.  The push-ups continued.

“Fifty, if you’re curious,” Aurelia suddenly spoke up, not at all winded.  “Being a fit girl means I’m still ten times weaker than any of my men here, but I still want to stay in shape.”

The general stood and asked one of her aides for breakfast in thirty minutes.  She lifted her right arm and sniffed.

“Ugh!  I’m gonna go rinse off in the little stream that enters my camp on the west side,” Hartmann announced.  “You want to come along?  I’d bet not as you’re a lot cleaner than I am.”

“Thank you for your offer, General Hartmann, but no.  I’ll make a few repairs then join you at breakfast,” Colour replied.

“And it’s Aurelia, friend, until you rejoin your team and we talk.  Then it’s Princess.  See ya’,” she waved, walking in her panties through a military outpost of five thousand men.

“Talking through you, an intermediary,” Aurelia said, sitting on a stool in front of the tent with a plate of her bacon and eggs on her knees, “will be a bother and take days.  I want to sit with your Governing Council.  Who, my understanding is, runs things in the Northern Federation, not your General Chairman.”

“You are,” Jansen paused a piece of bacon before her mouth, “remarkably well informed about our government.  For someone who just arrived.”

“Yes,” Aurelia grinned.  “I am remarkably well informed.”

“We have had Canadian diplomatic delegations visit many times since the Breakup,” Colour carried on, ignoring what the young woman just implied, “but they are parliamentarians.  One of the reasons I was sent to meet with you was the… discomfort many of us have with the idea of monarchy.”

“Democracy is stupid; the Enlightenment was stupid,” the princess countered after swallowing the last of her eggs.  “Monarchy and aristocracy are normal, traditional.  We look to our children.  We look to our great-grandchildren yet unborn.  Not some quarterly ledger or election.”

She wiped her mouth on the sleeve of the uniform jacket she finally put on after her splash in the stream.

“But I get your point.  How about this:  you tell them to formally recognize me as General Hartmann.  That gets me to Brunswick, the de facto capital, without ruffling too many feathers.  I’ll just need a few of my staff and a half century as an escort.  That’s five plus forty men.”

“Once there,” Aurelia carried on, “we have our talk.  Should take no more than four hours, unless your side runs their mouths.  As you know, my kind think fast; so we like to decide fast.  Once I’m back here, I put on my “princess” hat and issue a statement as to whether y’all are a Friend and Ally or that I’m moving my army north.”

Colour’s fork dropped to the cracked plastic plate and then into the dirt.

“You… you’d…” she sputtered.

“Politics is politics, friend,” Aurelia said, realizing she was making her new friend scared.  “The Empress will have you stand with us, not against us.”

“And…” she paused to pick up her fork, no longer hungry, “and you plan to say that to the Council?”

“Of course not!” the princess laughed.  “I’ll be the soul of tact and diplomacy!  I’m telling you because I never lie to my friends!  Now, if you want to let it out that I’m not nearly as stable as I look…  That’s on you.  I trust you.”

That an imperial princess, a general of four legions – over twenty thousand of the best warriors on the planet – said ‘I trust you’ was almost too much for Colour Jansen to bear.

“We are talking about my home,” she replied in a quiet voice, quivering only a little.  “I, I’ll be careful in what I say when I discuss your invitation.  But I cannot betray them.”

“Nasty word.  No one brought it up but you.”

“And,” Jansen tried to conclude, now completely off balance, “I thank you for trusting me.  Friend.”

“Good!” The general stood, motioning for her to, as well.  “Let me give my little proposal to your team and then see y’all off.  A reply tonight, as it’s only about one hundred and twenty miles, round-trip, isn’t out of the question I think.  But I’ll wait.  Well, I’ll wait no more than three days for a reply.”

Princess Aurelia took Colour’s hands and smiled, her gold eyes a wilderness of power.

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