Given how Empress Faustina is an asshole and her niece is following in her footsteps, that fact they attract people such as that to them is no surprise. So, here’s a new tertiary (I think?) character.
And for those of you who asked: yes, the titular character makes her reappearance in the next installment. I must have a lot of softies reading my works as I seem to get more “likes” when it’s cute girls doing cute things rather than politics. Maybe I’ll start a small war to see how that’s appreciated?
In the mean time, we have learned that Aurie can be a charming person if she likes you. Cross her “specialness?” Well…
“We sure as hell can!” a younger man, her age, from the other table shouted.
“Against a land and sea force?” she countered. “They will have Burlington and Bangor with destroyers off your coast while your militiamen are still pulling their boots on. I and my family have observed their army with our own eyes. They are nothing compared to our legionaries but they can make a mess of the peace you have here.”
“A peace,” she clasped her hands together and leaned forward, “we are willing to support. If you ally with the imperium you will have forces you cannot imagine to assist you.”
“Your magic flying engines?” Hill asked.
“Our reactionless motor craft. Possessed only by us and the Russians and Japanese. One of the reasons we have colonies on the Moon and Mars and you concern yourselves with maple syrup and cod.” Oops. That might have been rude.
“Mars?” the hothead from the other table shouted again. “That’s bullshit!”
“I,” she steadied herself, “am just a girl from the hills around Knoxville. If you think me a liar, use your shortwaves to speak to Tokyo and St. Petersburg.”
She looked from Hill to Marx to Lochnar. Then she let her eyes flare gold.
“We can be your best friend. We can be your worst enemy.”
“General Hartmann,” Lochnar said very carefully, “has given us much to think about. I would like for us to discuss it. Privately. General? I know you wish to return to your men but may we impose upon you to spend the night in our country? We can re-convene at nine in the morning.”
“Agreed with one condition,” she instantly replied.
“And that is?” Marx asked just as carefully.
“Colour Jansen is friend to Princess Aurelia. I, General Hartmann, wish to stay with her,” she declared, mixing politics into her invitation.
“What?” That hothead again. Who is that kid?
From the laughter at the other table and Hill suddenly hiding a grin under his hand, Aurelia knew she was onto something.
“Our youngest, at a mere twenty-four,” Lochnar said, standing along with everyone else, “Councilman Filk Jansen, is that person’s nephew. I’m sure he would be happy to see you to Miss Jansen.”
“But,” the hothead began, “I’ll miss this meeting!”
“We all know your position,” Marx said, shutting him down, “and you know none of us will side with you. Do you want us to take a formal vote on this, Councilman Jansen?”
Without a word, the other came round from the larger table to stand before Hartmann.
Obvious similar genes as her, she thought. His black hair just a little too long for the legions and now that he sees his black eyes are three inches above mine he’s trying to not smirk. Interesting that his trousers and shirt, while clean, are homemade. His mother or his wife? No. No ring.
“You mother does nice work,” she said ambiguously, lightly touching the middle of his chest for a second before holding her hand out. “I am General Aurelia Hartmann. It seems I shall be in your care.”
“Fine,” he said. The near smirk had changed to a frown when she touched him so quickly. “Let’s go, Miss Hartmann.”
He took a step toward the door.
“You will address me as General, human. Or, once the rain of fire and blood end, your name will be a curse in the mouths of your countrymen.”
The silence in the conference room was total. Filk Jansen turned back to her.
“This way, please, General Hartmann,” he managed, gesturing toward the door.
“Thank you.” As it closed behind them, she smiled at the explosion of voices from the Council.