This concludes the ‘Nova Scotia arc.’ I lay 1:2 odds that when Jimmy walks into his house, the RCMP are waiting on him. Who knows?
Story-wise, I’ll be going dark for a while as I’m blind as to where this is going right now. There’s one conflict on the horizon: Aurie’s huge argument with the Empress. Fussy wants Aurie married now. Fussy is also still seething that Aurie’s demi-human brother married a “normie” of questionable genetics; Jimmy might be a step too far. On the other hand, as Aurelia will throw in her face: “There are less than ten of us! Are we some Semite tribe to marry our cousins?”
Minor conflict. These are great characters on the stage and they deserve great conflict. With Texas edging to the imperium’s side, does Canada sign a defensive agreement with Mexico? Suddenly Faustina is the one surrounded; she would not like that and likely respond kinetically. Does Liz, Fussy’s first child, switch on her listening array on the back of the Moon only to hear, “Humans look tasty. See you soon.”? Maybe old Empress Togame finally dies, provoking a succession crisis in the Japanese Empire while Aurie is there in a diplomatic capacity? A lot to think about.
If anything interesting happens, I’ll toss it onto here. I’ve an author meet’n’greet at the Heath, Ohio, Indian Mound Mall on Saturday. Hope to sell a book.
A lousy night, he was glad when the sky to the east took on color. In a bathroom down the hall, Jimmy washed his face and neck and rubbed his fingers over his teeth. He was back to Aurelia’s room just as Doctor Crittenden was walking in. He tried to stretch this way and that to get the aches out of his back while listening.
He’s not happy about her leaving now but also knows he’s not about to stop her. Jimmy stayed out of the way as a nurse came in to take the IV out of the back of her left hand. The moment it was, to both of their surprise, she stood and doffed her hospital gown, rummaging in her rucksack for clothes. She’s so pretty.
“I’m listening,” she said while pulling on panties and socks. “Yes. I’ll tell that to my medical staff in a few hours.”
Crittenden paused when she pulled on the field uniform of a legionary.
“Was that all?” Aurelia asked. They all heard some commotion from the hallway. A nurse’s aide stopped at the door.
“Doctor? It’s… it’s not medical, but you’ve got to come see the parking lot…” she said in near panic.
“The parking…” he began.
“That’s my ride,” Hartmann said, pulling her pack on and retrieving her rifle. “Let’s go.”
Followed by Jimmy then the doctor, she led them out. Most of the hospital staff was there. In the lot’s southeast corner, Jimmy saw…
“It’s a goddam UFO!” he shouted at the gray form about five feet off the ground.
Aurelia ignored him and waved at Colour as she walked up to them.
“Good night?” Aurie asked.
“First time in a bed in a month?” Jansen smiled. “I slept like a princess!”
“Let’s go!” Aurelia took both of their hands but Jimmy didn’t move.
“I can’t… I can’t just leave…” he began.
“You’re not,” Aurelia leaned up to kiss him in front of the dozens there. Everyone knows everyone in Canso. What will be the fallout from this? “I’m going to show off and then bring you right back here.”
She tugged again and he followed. The two women tossed their packs up into a hole on the underside which dilated as they drew close. Jansen jumped and pulled herself up. Hartmann just leaped in. She looked down at him.
“Now, please?” she asked.
Like Colour, but smoother, he jumped then levered himself to his feet, looking around. The hole closed and the floor shifted a little.
“Friend? To the mess for a bit,” Aurelia said. “I’m taking Jimmy forward to Observation.”
“Joining the ‘hundred-mile high’ club?” she chuckled, touching Aurie’s face. “Should I strap down?”
“Naah,” nothing so exciting. She took his hand again. “Come on!”
What is this? What am I on? Is this something their nation has? After not many steps, a door slid up and open. A tiny room, tapering to nothing at the far end, with some permanent chairs.
“It’s a tight fit, like you in me, but sit here,” she patted a chair. He did and she more climbed than eased into the one next to him.
“Captain Abel?” she said to the air. “My aircraft. We’re going up.”
The walls vanished and for a second he panicked. I’m falling! But at the same time was pushed hard down into the chair. Looking out, the Maritime coast of Canada was dropping away. Instead of a picture, he could see…
“The curvature of the earth,” he breathed, leaning forward against the continued acceleration. Jimmy looked this way and that…
She took his chin and turned his head. Aurelia kissed him.
“Congratulations, James Burns,” she said into his mouth. “We are one hundred and fifty kilometers up. Fifty more than the legal definition. You made it into space.”
He turned back to the view before him.
“We are? I did?” Space! With the most beautiful girl in the world! “Whup!”
They both suddenly drifted out of their chairs. Freefall.
“I thank you for that compliment, Jimmy.” While he tried to reach in all directions at once, she pulled her arms and legs into a tight ball that rotated and bumped about the tiny cabin.
“Not this time but soon,” she said, now upside down to him, “I will ask you to come with me. Have your answer ready.”
Under very slight acceleration again, the chairs came up to them. They sat. Their view tilted straight down and he gripped the chair’s arms in fear, diving at the earth.
“You’ve nothing to fear. We are in control.”
He looked right to see her feral smile. Not all that different from when…
“Thank you, Aurelia. And I’ll have that answer when you ask.”
He suddenly slammed into her shoulder as the ship, it was a saucer, after all, rotated about its axis. Only the dark sky and stars were visible to him, still pressed into the chair.
“We’re decelerating and don’t have our restraints on,” Aurelia explained. “I hope my friend isn’t bouncing about the mess too badly.”
“How… how does this ship even work?” he asked.
“Details are the most closely held secret of the imperium,” she said with a kiss to his cheek, “but take some time to look up reactionless motors when you’ve time. Captain Abel? Your aircraft.”
“I’ll have plenty if I’m arrested…”
The sense of motion stopped, leaving him feeling as if on his back, looking up at the cloudy sky. The view quickly came down to…
My tiny backyard. I was in space just a minute ago and now here’s home. What’s happened to my life?
“Your old life,” she said standing and dragging her crotch across his face to climb out of the little room, “is gone. If the authorities give you trouble? Well, we Hartmann’s are kinda known for our loyalty, so I’ll fix things. Even if at the head of my army.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” he said, following her into the corridor. Colour waited for them.
“You could have warned me,” she chided the general.
“Expect the unexpected with me, Friend!” Aurie laughed and pointed to the hole in the floor. “This is where you get off, Jimmy. If you know what I mean.”
“I…” he began, only to be silenced by her lips on his.
“I’ll come back to you.”
Jimmy stepped into the hole. Nearly twisting his right ankle on the uneven sod, he steadied himself and looked up.
Nothing there. Jimmy smiled.
“Not if I find you first!”