I’m going to try to accelerate this story and turn it into a book. My cover designer and her children in Germany are reduced to sneaking into the woods at night to glean firewood for the coming winter. A so-called first world country. F*cking Progs. If I can turn this into a book that’s another $300 for her and her fam.
With Filk’s arrival, Aurie turns the teasing up to “11.” A little exposition. And then a demonstration of raw power.
“Just seeing to Miss, er, General Hartmann’s men, Auntie,” Filk replied, catching himself just in time.
“And those three whiskeys,” Aurelia laughed, sniffing loudly. “But at least with a man here to protect us, I can finally relax.”
At that, she doffed her military jacket, tossing it back toward the couch. As she was unbuttoning her shirt, Aurelia looked around.
“What?” she asked.
“I do hope, newest friend, people like you have some sense of decorum?” Colour asked.
“I am,” the general replied, pulling her shirt off, exposing her camisole underneath, “the most dangerous creature you have ever encountered in your years; twice mine. The manners of my imperial family are legendary.”
“Legendarily bad?” Filk finally spoke up. “How many cities have you people destroyed?”
Aurelia paused and tilted her head. Colour bit down her laugh at how cute that made her.
“Two. So far. Just one more than y’all,” she blinked at him, now stepping out of her uniform trousers. “Maybe more, later? We’ll see.”
“Let’s sit down,” Colour called to the room, beckoning Aurelia back to the couch and pointing at the ratty chair next to the door for her young nephew. They saw his frown.
“You can share the couch with us, Councilman,” Aurie tried, “but only if I can sit in your lap.”
He froze for a moment before taking the two steps to the chair.
“I guess not,” she smiled. “All’s well with my men?”
“Yes, General Hartmann,” he tried to say politely. “Your sergeant – ”
“Your centurion told me they were fine and thanked me for seeing them to where they could set up camp,” Jansen continued.
“Unless during a battle, all legions build a marching fort every night,” Hartmann volunteered. “In the world of the Change, it is safer that way.”
“That,” Colour said, setting water out for the three of them, “is a term you keep using but I admit I do not know.”
“Once called the Breakup,” Aurelia did not feel like having a lecture right now and was more interested in how Filk’s eyes kept drifting to her exposed thighs, “that was just the economic and political fallout of the collapse of the US and Western Europe. We demis and the Thinking Machines are older that things are slightly different now.”
“What things?” the young man asked, honestly curious.
“Reality.” She pointed at the ceiling. “You do much stargazing?”
“No, General,” he admitted.
“They are different. Look at old books then go outside on a night such as this.” She drank half her cup of water. “But there is more. How did our empress die four-and-half times? And yet she is still here? How was a copy of her soul made? How is a distant cousin of mine in west Texas a prophet of God, like Elijah?”
“The world is Changed,” she concluded, setting her cup down.
“That’s a nice story,” the Councilman replied after a pause of half a minute, “but we need to deal with what is in front of our eyes. Right now. And what we see there is your army.”
“And I thought what was in front of your eyes were my well-developed legs!” Aurelia laughed. “Please do not deny it. My kind can observe and detect subtle cues you do not even know you are emitting.”
“It…” His eyes went to his aunt then back to this troublesome young woman. “It would be a lie to say I don’t think you attractive.”
Aurelia’s head twisted to the right.
“May I sex your nephew tonight?” she asked.
“What did you just ask…!” Colour said, standing.
“Apologies. Regional languages evolve,” the princess explained. “From your reaction, I’m guessing ‘no’?”
More time passed.
“You,” Colour tried again, “get the bed. I’m on the couch. Filk can go back to his flat…”
“No,” Hartmann spoke over her. “He is technically seconded to me. He stays here. And can sleep on the floor.”
“Now just a damned minute!” he began, standing.
“Behave!” Aurelia said, using her full range of sonics in her voice. The young man fell back into his chair as if punched. Knowing she was shaking just a little, she leaned right and put her arm around Colour.
“You think my legions are a threat?” Now she kissed her cheek, as a friend. “You just felt a part of the Change. What my kind are capable of. May I have some more water before I go to sleep?”
Colour took her cup and moved slowly to the sink.
“As I told you: only demi-humans or more are fit to rule, now.” Aurelia knew she yet again pushed too far, too fast, and tried to be kind. “It is one of the reasons we watch each other so closely. The example of my great-grandfather is always before us. A warning.”
“And who is that?” Filk asked, coming back to himself.
“He was the Director of ExComm, in the early days of Texas,” Aurelia replied, taking the cup from her friend. “He and his men killed a quarter-million. A human. Can you begin to imagine what someone like me could do? I hope you can’t.”