Hearing what Colour has to contribute, I admit I smiled when Aurie takes her friend’s off-hand line as a serious possibility for “urban renewal” in former Boston.
I’ll be doing some more writing today and tomorrow but Monday is my 30th anniversary and I’m helping the missus top some bushes and trees in our backyard. Thus, installments might be a little spotty over the next few days.
Already surprised to be sitting in on the army planning of a possible adversary, it took Colour a moment to realize she had been questioned.
“Oh, sorry, General. So far as I know, there are some fishing villages along the coast, mostly locals who survived the Breakup and kept their heads down during the Boston War,” she contributed. “As to the old city itself? I’ve been there three times in my life, the last about eight years ago. It is effectively a ghost town.”
“Why is that?” Aurelia asked. “Their harbor was legendary all the way back to the seventeenth century.”
“Because while it may be feasible to go from the nineteenth century to the seventeenth, then slowly recover, going from the twenty-first to the seventeenth…” She shook her head. “To repair a modern infrastructure you need a modern infrastructure. Without using atomics to burn the city core to bedrock there is no way to live or work in the old buildings.”
“I’ll keep that suggestion in mind. Thank you,” the young woman said without a hint of a smile. “Even so, I want that personal reconnaissance. Tal? Have cohorts two and four outside the south gate in an hour. Light marching kit.”
“Yes, General.” He paused. “If the NorFeds send word while you are absent?”
“You speak for me, whether yea or nay,” she said easily, then considered the map again. “Hmm. Send a couple of centuries into Ipswich and see if there are any larger boats or barges which could evac any of our wounded if things get spicy. If there are, have the centurions offer to pay in silver but make sure their rifles are in full view. Clear?”
“Clear, General.” He saluted and left.
“Who is your current escort?” she again suddenly asked her friend.
“He said his name was Blaise.” Colour paused but a moment. “General.”
“Blaise!” Aurelia called, suppressing her smile. The ranker entered and saluted.
“Me and the men are going for a stroll in an hour. You are now the personal bodyguard of Miss Jansen, here,” she made a small gesture with her right hand. “You will protect her as you would me.”
“Understood, General!” he called back, saluting. Instead of leaving he took two steps to the tent opening, to look inside and outside, already performing his new assignment.
“You weren’t kidding,” Colour said, standing, “that these are the best soldiers in former America.”
“The empress’ legionaries,” the princess gently corrected, “are the best of everything on earth and beyond. Fancy a trip to the moon, Friend?”
Eyes wide and legs suddenly weak, she fell right back down onto her stool.
“You… your…” she looked at her friend’s glowing eyes. “I see now. You’re not kidding. Yes, Princess. I’d love that.”
“Then you shall.” The general returned to look at her maps. “Get out of here and see to the rucksack we gifted you. Task Blaise with anything you may need.”
“I’m coming with – ” she sputtered. “My horse…”
“You are a vital intel source to the imperium,” Aurelia said, leaning down to look at some detail, “and this is a combat assignment. No horses. We march. Go.”