A Colour of Mourning?

Back after my short pause, and it just may be that a plot has shown up! We’ve seen Aurie play politics with the Northern Federation and also try to blend into the local scene in eastern Nova Scotia (although that ended poorly for a undercover jaunt). Now, with the death of one of the leaders of the world’s Great Powers, I think things are going to get very complicated for the entire Hartmann imperial family.

I’m still Guestblogging over at Founding Questions, with part 4, publishing on Amazon & Smashwords, hopefully coming out in a day or two.

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Aurelia sat topless on a stool while Surgeon Douglas inspected her left shoulder.

“Not a bad job,” he commented, changing the dressing.  “Obviously done by someone who doesn’t know ballistic wounds.”

“Canadians are entirely too nice to shoot one another,” she agreed, putting her camisole and shirt back on.  “Was there anything else?”

“Not really,” Douglas replied, finished taping it down.  “The blood I took will go back with the diplomats on Lenore, just to make sure there were no long-term effects from what you shot into yourself.”

He stood and paused.

“You will have a small scar from that, General.”

“Good.  Like the Empress, such is a badge of honor in our flesh,” she smiled.

“Thought you’d say that,” he said with a salute before turning to a mound of paperwork on the desk in the medical tent.  Aurelia went out into the gray of the afternoon to see Colour listening to her bodyguard, Blaise, talk to three other legionaries.  She heard her friend mutter, “heads up.”

The four men turned and saluted.  Their eyes on her left shoulder were obvious.

“Telling stories about me, Friend?” she asked with a toss of her hand to her men.

“It’s not that often a little girl like you,” the men caught their breath at this foreigner’s familiarity, “kills thirty men in a few minutes.  I apologize if that’s a state secret, General.”

“Thirty…?” one of the men shook his head.

“It was twenty-seven,” Aurelia corrected.  “Alvis got three of them.  Let’s go see my legate.  Carry on men.”

“That story,” Hartmann said a bit softer as they walked to the command tent, “will be wall-to-wall in minutes.  The other legions will know by nightfall.  And, no, I’m not criticizing you.  If I had told the story it would sound like bragging.  This way, I can play it down as no big deal.”

“Enhancing your demi-human image?” Colour smiled.

“Yep.  Find a spot on the wall and be still and quiet for my briefing, okay?”

Foss’ report had no surprises from their general’s brief absence.  Bloom’s Seventh was just completing their wargames that evening.  Paras’ Fifth was dispersed around St. Johnsbury helping on small civil engineering projects, very much like Wright’s Eighth in Burlington. 

“And what did you do with your Sixth?” she asked.

“Some engineering and some politics,” he replied, pointing at an area map.  “The only bridge over this lake, Champlain, is fifty miles south.  There was a smaller one up by the Canadian border, but it’s broken.  We did some quick survey work and are working to restore it to good use.”

“That’s engineering.  Politics?”

“Had a lottery the morning after you left, General,” he continued.  “Five centuries, chosen at random, to get into civilian clothes and head north:  one week’s leave in and around Montreal.  Anyone who spoke French was made an ad hoc centurion if they weren’t already.  Not expecting you back so quickly, they are not due for three more days.”

“I approve,” she said simply.  “Anything else?”

His hesitation was such that even Colour noticed.

“General Hartmann?” Even his tone was formal.  “Have you checked in with Empress since your return?”

Jansen let out a tiny gasp but Aurelia did not move.


“It… it is not confirmed by me, but shortwave says the Empress of Japan has died.”

“I will need satcom access in ten minutes.”

“Miss!” He didn’t bother to salute as he ran out the tent.

“Is…” Colour stood to move and put her hand on her friend’s left shoulder.  “Is this bad?”

“The death of any sovereign is bad, to some degree or another.” She still had not moved.  “Togame has been on the Chrysanthemum Throne for a very long time.  But she came to it via palace intrigue.  Japan is one of the four spokes of the Polar Alliance and has always been cordial with my aunt…”

“Didn’t you say one of your cousins is there now?” Colour asked.

“Ildi?  Yes.” The princess stood.  “I am just her niece but I also command an army.  I must know what the Empress wants me to do.  The future is now fraught with peril.”

“Just because of this person’s death?” Colour asked, following her out.

“Internal revolution?  Chinese or Indian interference?” Aurelia shook her head.  “Friend?  Not just our Martian terraforming project could be in jeopardy, but here’s another secret:  the Japs have destroyers and are building cruisers based around reactionless motors.  Whoever controls that kind of power can control a goodly part of this world.”

A diesel generator coughed to life as she led them to a reinforced cart with antennae and parabolic dishes.

“For our children and grandchildren,” Colour barely heard her over the engine, “we must protect our future.  At any cost.”

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