Not going to lie, frens, but this is some of my best writing and I am very proud of it.
A salutary example of the raw power of nature is bracing for anyone. Anyone no matter how they were made. I think Aurie will be a little different after this. Interesting to see how it plays out with her men, her legates, and the Empress.
The deceleration and drop were so severe that Colour screamed, knowing she would have been one of those thin, red smears on the ceiling if not harnessed down. Motion briefly stopped, long enough for her to look out…
The world was gray. Had they moved into space? No: those bubbles… a school of fish…
“Submarine, too?” she asked, catching her breath.
“If Lenore is fit for space, you think water is a problem?” Aurelia noted. “We’re about halfway between Ottawa and Toronto. They have radar posts but are not expecting to see any blips; been years since something flew up from the south. Still plenty of air traffic from the Habsburg Empire or Russia, but they are used to looking north. These ships are very stealthy…”
She gave a throaty laugh. Looking over, Colour saw Aurelia’s eyes were dilated and glowing gold.
“…and really fast!”
Pushed again all the way back into the chair, the water was gone and a cloudy sky before them as they ascended at a forty-five-degree angle.
“Whoo-hoo!” Aurelia called. Colour looked down past her feet through the invisible deck, fighting vertigo. Another shoreline was quickly approaching and dropping away at the same time. Not too sure of Canadian geography, she guessed somewhere in the vicinity of the rural community of Prince Edward.
“Leveling off at ten miles, AGL,” her headstrong friend continued. “We’ll go north a bit at Mach two and then…”
Her losing her voice scared Colour more than anything since she had met her. She looked forward. About one hundred miles ahead was a white line of ice and snow. And nothing but white behind it.
“It… it’s one thing to read about; to look at the pictures,” Hartmann whispered, “but… to see with my own eyes… Abel? Your aircraft. Maintain velocity to the edge of that then cut it in half and turn northeast.”
With no sudden acceleration changes, the princess unbuckled and stood. Two steps had her forehead on the low, slanted wall. Concerned, Colour came up behind her, too tall to stand next to her.
“Dear God, help me,” Colour heard the tiny whisper. “Demis, Machines, we are nothing in the face of nature. Please let them be right about the cold.”
“Who?” Colour asked softly, placing her hands on the smaller one’s shoulders. Aurelia shook all over, like a wet dog.
“The Machine’s analysis of this Maunder Minimum,” her hand came up to touch the wall, “this cooling, which began just before the Change, will end in two generations. Or so. But, what if it doesn’t?”
“What if the ice doesn’t stop?” Her voice was shaking. “What if we cannot get to Mars in time…! We’ll die. All of us will…!”
Colour spun her about and pulled the young one’s head into her chest, stroking her purple-black hair.
“Hush, now. Hush,” she ordered. “We all have to trust our friends, don’t we?”
Colour bit her lip when she realized the most powerful woman in her world was weeping, her arms tight around her. She looked up, her golden eyes swimming with tears.
“I’ve been scared before,” Aurelia admitted. “I’ve never been afraid.”