Champlain Colours

This is a little “exposition-y,” but a reader will need to know a bit more about Robert and his relations. I suspect that, being a “normie,” Robert takes things a bit more seriously than his gifted brothers and sisters. And as a brand-new imperial family who are, as Aurie admitted, “making things up as they go,” and in a hard neighborhood, it would take a certain hardness of mind and spirit to stay sane and effective.

Having written the next, Ticonderoga, scene last night, I realized this morning I’m going to have to re-write it. Things such as that come with the job. Much easier on a laptop than with pen on paper, though.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

Too excited to sleep, Jimmy considered his position in the dark woods.  Two weeks ago, if someone at Val’s had told me this story, I’d have called him stupid drunk and helped him home.  But here I am.  He looked over at this Hardt, leaning against a pine tree, eyes closed.  A son of the empress.  And I love someone who might be her heir.  I’m just a lobsterman… all because she took a fancy to me at the tavern?

He slid his back down against his tree, making enough sound that two around the stove glared at him.  And Hardt has already threatened me twice.  Besides her, they do not come across as nice people.  Then he remembered the demon.  No, I guess none of them are.

It surprised him when someone kicked the bottom of his shoe.  Opening his eyes, cloth was tossed into his lap.

“Uniform,” one of them said.  “Put it on.  Not that you’ve earned it, kid.”

The second time in two days gifted clothes, Jimmy did what he was told without a word and as quietly as he could.  The eastern sky was just a fraction lighter; dawn was still at least an hour away.  There was no order or signal but everyone stood then jumped about two or three times.

“To make sure,” Hardt said, appearing at his side, “that their gear makes no noise.  Need to shit or piss before we move?”

“Fine for now.” He wanted to ask how far they were going but questions such as those seemed to anger him.

“Like last night, stay next to me,” the centurion continued.  “You are why we’re here so let’s not fuck this up.”

With the only sounds being birds, or Burns repeatedly making noise he shouldn’t, they carried on south in the woods for what he guessed was several kilometers.  The sun had been up over an hour when their team of seven plus one turned east, out onto a broken and overgrown two-lane road leading southeast.  They were now passing through farmland – some cultivated, most not – and some farmhouses.  An old woman sweeping her porch paused as they passed.  Hardt gave a friendly wave but said nothing.

“We’ll be gone before any rumors get enough traction to get whatever local militia there is up and out,” he explained.  “So, ‘heart and minds,’ and all that.”

A turn due east onto another poor road, and more stares from locals, had the men to the shoreline of a lake in twenty minutes.  First checking behind them, the centurion pointed at one of his men, who put a sparse headset on.

“Broadsword calling Danny Boy.  Ready for pickup.” He nodded to the air before turning to Hardt and doing the same.  “Five minutes.”

Jimmy immediately heard the rumbling of a boat’s inboard motor from the south.  Right after, a small cabin cruiser beached itself on the pebbled shore before them.

“You first, Burns,” Hardt ordered.  “Move it!”

He ran the few meters to the water where more legionaries reached down to pull him up.  That done, he turned to see the others walk backward, weapons up, until one after another got on.  Their leader, last.  The boat’s screws spun up to full reverse and they were away and, after a quick change of direction, moving south on Lake Champlain.

“We will be getting off around Ticonderoga in a bit over two hours,” Hardt said, bringing Jimmy with him to the bow.  It was interesting to him that no one had removed any gear.  I guess this is technically a no-man’s-land.  “It’ll be around noon.  We have a cohort there and will have men and motorized transport to move you further south.”

“Not that I think the Canadians would try anything,” he said with a laugh that sounded like a short bark.  “This is all now de facto imperium land.  And our thus our people.  If Ottawa were to send a combat team south, our army would destroy them.”

“After that,” he said, looking at the trees on either side of them, “it will be a hundred-mile drive to our permanent fortress near Albany.  I hope to be rid of you and this assignment there.”

“Not seeing me to your cousin, Robert?” They were far enough from the others for him to be honest.  The crown prince took several moments to draw out a cigar, clip it, and light it.

“In less than a month, you idiot, the Russian and Canadian armies may be in a war around Winnipeg,” he said, blowing smoke.  “Reina might just decide to nuke all their major cities in response.  Are you important to my family?  It seems so.  Does that mean I want a million burnt corpses on my conscience?  No.  I told you:  I have work elsewhere.”

He turned and walked toward the stern.  Jimmy gripped the safety rail hard enough to hurt.

“What have I done?  What has she done?” he asked the lake’s cold air.  “What have we done?”

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