Wherein Aurie uses a racially charged word.
With her army drawing provocatively close to the Canadian border, I’m expecting things to get complicate fast. Going into the weekend, I need to give all this some thought before returning to the story. I know for a fact I need Aurie and Colour in Nova Scotia but am at a loss right now how to get them there. I shall be patient and wait and see.
Colour Jansen did not see General Hartmann again for three days until her four brigades – legions, she corrected herself – just over twenty-six thousand men built their marching fort for the night, just east of Albany, former New York. With a few radio bursts but mostly via mounted messengers, they came together seamlessly and quietly. A sharp contrast to the march. Macallen had been correct: most of their songs, even when of their empress, were rather explicit. When another centurion tried to apologize, she smiled and asked if she could sing along with them. Especially the part about “…our goddess! That uppity cunt!”
Still nominally attached to Fifth Legion and alternating between second and fourth cohorts, she watched a tiny town form about her. On overgrown farmland, wooden walls one mile per side went up. From experience, she knew just on the other side men with entrenchment tools hurried to dig an eight-foot deep ditch. They do this every night. Not just to feel safe when they sleep but to show that they can. We’d heard rumors in Maine but so many discounted them…
Unable to physically go home, Aurelia had allowed Colour to write all the letters she wanted. And have them sent north by her fastest riders, never once asking to read them, first. “You’re my friend. I trust you,” she had said a little blankly when they set out, once again burdening Jansen with her now dual loyalty. In those letters to the executive body of the Governing Council, she wrote with great precision everything she had seen of the imperials. Colour also wrote an addendum to each letter, expressing her thoughts and impressions.
They do not desire a war but they will not hesitate to act if they think themselves threatened, she had written. This is true from the legionary level all the way to the top. A top, I remind all of you, who is a person, not a Council, and able to make autocratic decisions in a moment, for actions in their country, nearby, and far into space.
She recalled part of their conversation over soup, the night before their departure.
“Yeah,” Aurelia said, “Mars is effectively run by Aqua, a rather reclusive Machine, but politically the Russians then the Japs have the most pull. We are relative late-comers but with our new T4 engines… well, they have to pay attention to us.”
“Able to maintain a constant one G thrust,” the princess said, wiping her chin. “My cousin Laszlo, and his toaster, are already scouting the asteroid belt. I’ll see if I can find the pic of them on Ceres. Pretty cool.”
“Toaster?” Colour was completely lost again.
“Hah! Racist slang, so to speak,” Aurelia laughed. “Minerva was an android shell for Reina on their trip to Mars but went rogue. She’s fully self-aware and has refugee status from my aunt. She’s nice. I’d never call her that to her face but out in the field we are a little rougher.”
For once Colour could tell her young friend wanted to say more but abruptly went quiet.
“I wonder what she’s been doing the last few days?” she asked to the sky, standing in the middle of the emerging fort.
“General stuff,” Hartmann said from just behind her left. She put her right arm about Colour’s waist and hugged her. “Holding up okay? We still have well over a hundred miles to go. And, I’d like you at my side for the next two days. I know only a little of the ancient Revolutionary War and know we’ll be passing Saratoga and Ticonderoga. I shall rely upon you to make me older about those battles.”
“I cannot say I’m some kind of expert,” Jansen allowed, “but I’ll tell you all I can.”
“Good. We friends should.” The General looked about. “Eighth will be on point tomorrow. I’d like to get you better exposed to my men. You are a solid sample of your people and I want to show you off as an exemplar of what our new, hopeful, allies look like.”
“You flatter me, General,” Colour muttered.
“Whatever. Be in my command tent at oh-five hundred, please. See ya’!”