Colours, Trains, and Spaceships

My first Saturday off in forever. This is just a tiny snippet of what I’ve laid down so far. International politics rears its ugly head, next.

If you are curious about Crown Prince Laszlo and Minerva, try Ceres.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

East through a small town called Tullahoma had them into another forest.  A sign ahead declared “Arnold Engineering Center.”  They were waved through one of the gates and were in a cluster of buildings in minutes.  Not waiting for someone to open her door, Aurelia stepped out, returning salutes and beckoning Colour to her side.

“Another measure of my trust and how much I value you, Friend,” she smiled, waving about her.  “This is the technological heart of the imperium.  Here we design and build our ships powered by reactionless motors.  It is because of these we are one of the three Great Powers on this world and off of it.”

“You told me this was the most important secret of your country once,” Jansen replied, also looking about at the otherwise unremarkable buildings.  “You threatened to, what was it?  Wipe my mind?”

“People change.  And anyway,” the young woman said with a wink, “you have no engineering background.  I could wave top-secret plans under your nose and you’d have no idea what you were looking at.”

“True,” Colour nodded.  “Back home we say ‘the cows see the cars but do not understand.’”

Hartmann had just taken a step but suddenly stopped.

“That’s from an older saying about trains.  Do y’all have working trains up there?”

“The last locomotive stopped two years ago,” Colour admitted.  “It was decided too expensive to repair.”

“Tonight,” the regent said, resuming her walk, “send a message to hot-head Filk.  Tell him I will build the MAGLEV line through Brunswick to Bangor.  On the way to Nova Scotia, of course.  I, Aurelia Hartmann, swear this.”

“I’ll… I’ll tell him, friend,” she replied in a halting voice.  “I’ve not had access to a computer or radio since, well, joining you isn’t exactly right, since being with you.  May I borrow one?”

“Hah!” Aurelia laughed as she led them around the building she had been going to a huge hangar beyond it.  “If you want, you can use me; speak through me to the Council.”

“You spoil me, Princess,” Colour admitted, tapping her right hand to her left.  Ahead of them, one of Hartmann’s men opened a door to the hangar.

“You think that is spoiling you?  Kah, kah!” Aurelia copied the odd laugh of the Machines, pointing at the door.  “You go first and tell me that again!”

Aurie could see her friend’s confusion and curiosity as she walked through the door.  And immediately stopped.

To the Regent’s eyes, all was normal:  the one hundred and fifty-meter length and ten-meter diameter of the two Mark II T5s near completion.  Four of the T6s, even larger, would be done in three months.  The Japs have their destroyers and that one cruiser, but we have speed.  The fastest ships in the solar system.  Already Aqua – though he’ll never admit it – is reliant on us to hotshot critical deliveries to Mars.  Oops, my friend is shaking a little.

“We are playing ‘catch-up’ with the Japanese and Russian empires,” Aurelia began, taking Colour’s hand to calm her.  “The empress’ step-daughter stole the plans right after the Fort Benning campaign when I was a little girl.  Rather than mass and bulk, we decided to focus on speed.  For now.”

“Did… didn’t you say that other crown prince… I forget his name, is off in space somewhere?” Jansen pointed.  “In one of these?”

“Les?  Sure.  He and his toaster are on a Mark II T4.  Older model but they know every inch of it and are reluctant to give it up.” She laughed, pulling the human to follow her.  “I bet they know every inch of each other, too, by now.”

“You made a joke about that weeks ago… his toaster,” Colour said, still a little overwhelmed to see more industrial and technological power in one place than she had in her entire life.  “A bad, rude, joke, you said.”

“Yep.  You know what an awful person I am,” Hartmann said, bumping her shoulder with hers, slowing leading toward another door on the far side of the hangar.  “Minny, proper name Minerva, is an android.  Shorter than me, how’s that for funny?  A Model Twelve, she’s smart, strong, dangerous, and totally besotted with my cousin.”

“Besotted?”

“She’s in love with him.  Utterly and completely.  A little creepy in my opinion, but no one asked.” And I am not saying word one about Les’ inclinations to prefer men before his first mission to Mars.

“Is… are relations between androids and humans, sorry, demi-humans, unusual?” Colour asked.

“Um.” Much of what I know is classified to one level or another, going all the way back to Nichole 5, Dad’s friend from when he was a boy.  She pretended to think while waving at some of the assembly techs.  As the ‘Deus vults!’ echoed more and more, she slowed down.  “Yes.  Laszlo and Minerva are the only pairing I know of.  And Fussy is less than pleased.”

“Why?”

You just had to ask…

“Our family must lead by example.  It’s one of the reasons I let you shame me about Jimmy.  We must be seen to marry and have many children.  The empress demands it.” A crowd was gathering so they stopped and Aurelia lowered her voice, trying to thread the needle of what she could and could not say.  “A demi and android paring is sterile.  The Empress is not happy.”

“I guess she should never meet someone useless like me, then,” Colour said, dropping her hand.  “They want to see you.  I’ll be back here.”

About to clench her teeth and then shout, Aurelia killed the reaction and instead smiled and threw her arms wide.

“The best and brightest of the imperium!  We rely on all of y’all so much!”

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