Productive couple of days, thankfully. And I know where the material will be going for several more installments. Lots of clever things ahead. I may even have a clue as to what happened to Allen Rupert at the end of “A Texas Naval Affair.”
All the way back to “Worlds Without End,” I’d forgotten how much Gary detests his sister’s politics and how it enmeshed his family.
Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!
Initially completely silent, as soon as it seemed they were at a stable altitude, Aurelia began to talk.
“Fussy left today? In what?” she asked her father.
“Um…” he made a partial look over his right shoulder.
“I trust her with my life, Daddy. But no detailed talk about our motors.”
“My sister left four hours ago on a Tee Four, undoubtedly to show off what she can do,” he replied. “That had her over Yokohama Bay one hour later. While anyone who cares is aware of what’s happening in Japan, her trip was not announced until she was en route.”
He paused to look at her.
“And her announcement of the Co-Regency was something not even I knew.” His eyes went back forward. In the dark, mostly to his instrument panel. “Sister’s private message to go get you – I didn’t even know you were on your way – came on the heels of that. And here we are.”
“I bet Edward was told to go to Mobile to make sure both the GSS and the Florida enclave don’t get dumb ideas.” After a pause, Aurelia twisted about in her seat to her friend. “The Gulf Shore States were independent for a while. Now they’re a province. About two-thirds of the Florida peninsula is where we evacuated those Blacks who won’t follow the imperium’s racial policies.”
“Policies?” Colour had never heard of this.
“Strict segregation,” her friend explained. “It’s worked in most of our lands but not in Atlanta and a few other places. So, they had to go. And yes, Daddy, I know what you still think of me and St. Louis.”
“I didn’t say a word.”
Even a human such as Colour could sense his seething discomfort.
“Back to Fussy,” Aurie said. “Did she commit herself to when she was returning?”
“No,” her father replied, banking right just a little. “Old MacRae in Knoxville quipped to the press that she must be, quote, taking her sweet time; watching the cherry blossoms, unquote.”
“They’ve never liked one another. Especially after he arrested you.”
“I got over that. She should, too.” They banked just a little left. “Wait one. Johnson City Control, this is S56709, en route to Knoxville. Thank you.”
“Just a few minutes before we get into their airspace,” he went on. “Anything else you need to know?”
“Not really. I’ll know enough once in signal. Do you know the division of Ed’s and my duties?”
“No one has a clue,” her father replied.
“He’s domestic policy plus Texas, ‘cause his wife, Livia. I’m foreign policy. So, I’ll be spending what time there is before Auntie’s return toward the marches. Is it okay staying with you and Mom for two nights?”
Colour saw the older demi-human cough and shake his head.
“For the love of… of course you can, Aurie!” he said with some emotion. “Check your restraints for landing.”
“Is…” Colour spoke up, “isn’t there some palace or something you people stay in?”
She watched the back of Gary’s head shake once while Aurelia laughed into her headphones.
“You have to be so much older!” the princess cried. “We’ve no capitol; no palace! It’s people that matter, not places! Sure, a lot of us were born in Knoxville, but it’s just a place. Remember, Friend, I still owe you a trip to the moon!”
“Preparing for landing,” Gary announced. “Quiet, please.”
Aurelia knew it normally took an hour for her father to post-flight a plane but when the ground crew saw her climb out, they insisted they go on home and they would take care of everything.
“Must be nice to have fans,” Colour observed from the back seat of Gary’s small car.
“It helps that Aurie sends out those public dispatches when she is on campaign,” Mister Hartmann noted as they crossed a bridge north over the Tennessee River. “Rather like Caesar’s Gallic Wars commentaries, they make lively reading, both in the imperium and beyond.”
“Daddy, please,” the princess mock sighed, “I just want to let everyone know about the empty lands crying out for settlers. And I talk about my legates and centurions more than I ever mention myself.”
“It’s your name at the top, so it’s you everyone thinks of,” he countered, turning right onto a road next to the river. Colour noted more electric street lights than she had seen in her entire life.
“I guess you are well fixed up for electric power,” she spoke to that.
“It’s one of the reasons this area survived the Breakup,” Gary explained. “The local fission power plants as well as at Oak Ridge, just a little west of here. Some of the locals, including imports like my parents, built similar reactors in nearby cities, restoring modern civilization bit by bit.”
“And that’s what used to be the University of Tennessee, what you’re staring at to the left,” Aurelia butt in, noting her friend’s look. “Only a few parts are still open. STEM stuff, mostly.”
“Oh.” But Colour was interested in something their driver just said. “Your parents weren’t from here, Mister Hartmann?”
“Gary, please, Colour. My Best Girl already thinks of you as family.” He turned left. A series of well-kept townhomes were to the left. “It’s a big topic but the tiny version is my dad was an army mutineer in Kentucky during the Breakup. He met mom while gleaning some nuclear power parts in Ohio. They settled here. They still live in their house halfway to Oak Ridge.”
He pulled into a parking spot. Aurelia threw open her door and sprinted yet again, yelling “home!”
“She really is something,” Colour muttered, getting out at her own speed. Gary touched her arm.
“When she and I spoke mind to mind, before the flight, I saw that you have seen her at… well, her worse, I’d say. She’s very embarrassed about that.”
There was no way he meant seeing his daughter naked all those times. It had to be when she killed the pirates.
“If that’s her worse, then I have more reason to love the little princess, don’t I, Gary?” she smiled at him. He nodded.
“Be welcome in our home,” he replied.