Okay, worked my way around the address. Not exactly “head-hopping” but I admit to fudging it a little. Remember: being a fiction write means you tell stories; you are a liar. Sometime you have to lie to yourself and your readers.
After being shamed by Colour, is looks as if Aurie is going all in and now willing to provoke a war with Canada. They outnumber the imperium by at least 3:1 if not more. Then again, the imperium is the only nation in history to use a fusion weapon in anger. It might be easier for them to pretend Jimmy Burns never existed and have him pushed across the border into Maine.
The scene, to Colour’s eyes, was much as her friend had described it a half-hour ago: the parade ground a little south of the building they had stayed in had a mix of legionaries and civilians, in no particular grouping.
There are two target audiences to my address, the Regent told her, wearing nothing more elaborate than her usual legionary uniform. One is domestic. I must reassure the empress’ subjects that there is order and harmony and the legionaries that I am in command of all armies. Don’t make that face, friend. Soldiers like to know someone is running the show. Two is foreign. We cannot have any friend, ally, or foe think this is a good time to get uppity. That’s one of the reasons I asked you be there on the stage with me with this base’s commander and a few senior centurions. You are going to be very, very well known in an hour. Stop shaking! And, I have something I just added this morning, after your scolding of me…
Colour thought the speech’s first ten minutes, about the empress, Mars, and the economy was a little boring. But looking out at the men and women, and, more dauntingly, the half-dozen video cameras either on the ground or mounted on drones, focused her mind on that “very well known” statement. At least the business suit they loaned her fit.
The Regent said something about her deep family connexions in the Republic of Texas. Jansen remembered the Crown Prince she had me had a wife there. Were there more? The next comment, about visiting her new friends in the Northern Alliance just weeks ago, had her eyes snap from the crowd to the back of Hartmann’s head.
“…as well as the wonderful opportunity to not only meet the Archbishop of Montreal but to participate in Holy Mass with him and his men. I hope and pray to see him again very soon.”
There was no way, Colour thought, the Canadians could mistake that message. What was she…?
“…the proud and brave sons and daughters of Nova Scotia! So welcoming to a tourist like me. Their seafood was a little fancy,” Aurelia laughed, “compared to our catfish and crawdads, but I think I’ll go back.”
Jansen tensed. This was the addition she had mentioned.
“After all: my boyfriend is a rocketeer there,” the princess said with a tiny motion of her left hand to her friend. “I don’t want him to think I forgot about him! The Empress has been badgering me to find a man; I didn’t suspect I’d have to go to the edge of the world to find him!”
Thankfully, her audience laughed. Colour wondered if the security services of Canso, Halifax, and Ottawa just shit themselves in fear.
Aurelia wrapped up quickly, asking for prayers for her, her cousin, and their empress, “who is mother to us all. Deus vult!”
As the cheering began, the Regent leaped off the short stage and waded out into the assembled, seemingly unconcerned for her person.
They are all employees of the base or legionaries, she had told her friend. I’ll be fine. Now, later, when we start our travels? Security.
That was evident in the armored Hummer which took them north, with another ahead and behind them.
“Not that expect any trouble from my aunt’s subjects,” Aurie said, leaning over to pour her friend more sweet tea, “but suppose the Canadians flew a team in a microlite under our radar after my speech? So, it’s probably overkill, but I don’t want to bugger things up before Fussy gets back.”
Colour took a sip, looking out at the gently rolling hills. A sign said, “Welcome to Lynchburg.”
“Not to be macabre,” the human began. “But what if something did happen to you?”
“Liz, well, Elizabeth, my eldest cousin and the empress’ firstborn, would step up, at least, to begin with.” Aurelia pointed out the window. “There’s a famous distillery that way. Two hundred years old. Never tried it, of course.”
“To begin with?” Colour asked, trying to return to her point.
“Liz utterly hates politics and will have nothing to do with it. She’s a scientist and engineer. But,” Aurie took a drink, “she’s also a Crown Princess and demi-human and knows her duty. She would act as regent until her brother, Laszlo, could get back from his mission in space to take over. And before you ask, yes, we have other contingency plans.”
She turned to look at her friend with hard, gold, eyes.
“We have given this a great deal of thought.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Colour shivered.