Finally had two days off in a row and was able to get much done. Enough to keep posting updates for the next few days.
I vaguely remembered the effect that Henge’s newly manifested body had on the people in and around Knoxville, now a generation ago. I thought to examine that a little closer, this miracle of diamond dust and star fire.
Not sure how to handle the next few scenes; I know I’ll be moving hard and fast into internal imperial politics. But I also want to see Colour meet Aurie’s grandparents at their snug home on the road to Oak Ridge. I think, with Aurie’s grandma being Min Chinese, I might be able to add some clarity to the imperium’s racial policies. I know any discussion of race makes modern Americans freak out.
Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!
Just inside the doorway, Aurelia began to bellow, “I’M BAAAC – ”
“Be quiet, sister!” a girl shushed her.
In a parlor to her right, Aurelia saw her brother’s wife in a rocking chair. Her shirt was open and her son at her breast. He made a few fussy noises before being calmed by his mother.
“Sorry, Skylar,” she apologized, walking to her and leaning down to kiss her forehead. “Didn’t know you were here. Where’s Brother?”
“Rumored outbreak in Jacksonville. He and a team took the MAGLEV to Savannah and will take a cutter from there south.” Like his father, Aurie’s brother was both a demi-human and a doctor. But he also doted on his young wife from a tavern in Frankfort, Kentucky Province.
Aurelia turned when her father and friend came in, waving Colour over.
“This is my sis-in-law, Skylar,” she said, managing to be a little quiet. “Sky? My newest best friend, Colour Jansen, Northern Federation.”
With Sky shifting her son a little to put a hand out, Aurelia could instantly see two problems. The worse, Colour looking at a woman doing something she never did and now never could, was nothing she could fix. The other…
“No, she’s human. But an albino. That’s why her hair and eyes are like that, white and red. Scared the hell out of my normie cousin when he first met her, though,” Aurie laughed a little, hoping her friend would.
“I… see,” Colour managed to not tear up at the display of motherhood before her. “And your son is…?”
“Lem. And before the Princess runs her mouth again, he is perfectly normal, too,” Skylar said.
“What’s all the noise at this late hour?” a woman’s voice called softly from further in the house.
“Later, Sky,” Aurelia said, grabbing her friend’s hand and pulling her back to the foyer then where the short hall opened into a kitchen and small dining area. There was only candlelight from the two tapers on the glass-top table. The figure there stood from her chair.
Jansen stopped so fast Aurelia nearly tripped. She saw her mom. What happened? The demi looked to read her friend… oh, dear.
Colour’s partial, vague, spirituality came crashing down all at once. A young woman but eyes so old. Eyes of burnished gold, like the pictures of lions she had seen. Her long hair, purple, was up in twin-tails high on each side of her head, making her look even younger. A simple white dress with no shoes. How was it… how was it she was brighter than the candles? She vaguely recalled her friend saying something strange about her mother…
“Uh.” It was rude but all she could manage at the moment.
She thinks you’re an angel, Mom.
Pooh. I’m a simple housewife. Will you introduce us?
“Colour? This is my mom, Henge! I bet you think she’s pretty, right? Mom? My best friend, Colour!”
“Hello, Colour!” Henge put her hands out. “Our home is now your home!”
The human could not take her eyes from the shining face.
“Thank…” She finally blinked. “I… I can touch you?”
As her friend had done so many times before, now her friend’s guardian angel took her dirty, mortal hands and kissed her once on each cheek.
“Wanna go to Mass with me tomorrow, Colour?” Aurie teased, reading every thought.
“Maybe I should…” she surprised her.
“Come! You’re tired,” Henge said, guiding her guest to a chair. “I have some wine and cheese for you. Just cheese for you, Aurie.”
“That’s fine, Mama,” Aurelia said, trying not to laugh at her friend’s eyes never leaving her mom while she puttered about the kitchen.
It’s like the first time humans encountered High Elves in Tolkien’s stories, she laughed.
I am as mortal as you are, my daughter. Much to my sister’s annoyance.
The empress had always considered Henge’s descension from pure AI to a mortal body to be stupid and rash. But Henge’s love of Aurelia’s father knew no bounds. As a product of that love, she never brought up the subject with her aunt.