Jimmy realizes he needs to take stock of where he is and where he might be going. Sometimes, the best way to do that is what we used to call “benchmarking,” that is, look at another’s example.
I may have to do another Saturday post as things are about to have the “Weird” knob turned up to “11.”
They said it was about a hundred miles, so one hundred sixty klicks, Jimmy converted in his head. And, with yet another huge bounce, were there no seatbelts? they would not make good time. Call it three hours. And a man born into their imperial family told me to shut up and think. Jimmy closed his eyes. And was unable to think at all until, math again, about ten miles later they turned south onto one of the old US Interstate Highways. Not really better but certainly less bad.
He decided to start outside and then work his way in.
My aerospace tech skills can be as useful on one of their miracle machines as it is on a chemical booster. Pumps are pumps, a bolt’s a bolt. Because this was both a hobby and a job, I’m better at orbital mechanics that anyone else at Canso. He looked across from him; this Hardt seemed to be dozing. Will I be allowed to work? Or just some pet? No, he said his dad was mayor of some city, at least until he retired. Burns shut his eyes again.
And I’m young: twenty-seven. Pick up a new skill? Maybe be a pilot? Aurie said her cousin is a deep space explorer. That would be so awesome! He realized something. And, once the empress gets back, it could be years, dozens, before she passes. And Aurie might be off the list by then! We could just be a normal married couple!
That idea died the moment he remembered the pirate battle and her taking him to space. She was commanding an army before all this happened. I admit I cannot see “housewife” in her future. And since I know zero military, I’ll never be with her in the field. He paused. Wait… I have an example right in front of me…
“Centurion?” Nothing. “Mister Hardt?”
“What?” he replied, eyes still shut.
“May I borrow that tablet you have?”
“Reason?” he didn’t move.
“There is an example I want to see,” Jimmy admitted. “Of a demi marrying a human. Robert Hartmann.”
“It’s Robert Wade, you royal moron,” his scion growled, handing it over. “A man doesn’t take his wife’s surname.”
But all of her children did.
“And the empress’ current, second, husband is Stephen Johnston,” Hardt concluded, recrossing his arms about his chest. “There’s no signal here but there are some historical records on that.”
Jimmy messed with the file folders until he found what he wanted: “History of Our Imperial Family.” He was shocked to see how huge the family tree was. Hovering over a couple of them, he saw many were in Texas. That’s why she used that alias. But he had work to do and moved the cursor to “Robert Wade.”
Hardt wasn’t lying: mayor of Huntsville. Just re-elected when Faustina showed up with her army. Their relationship an open secret until after the Fort Benning and Atlanta campaigns… married two months later. He wasn’t kidding about “sudden,” either. Jimmy kept reading, pausing near the end to look up at the centurion then quickly back down. Died in a hiking accident. The empress posthumously named the son still in her after his father. Robert never knew his father.
Jimmy tapped the Stephen Johnston tab. Something of a behind-the-scenes guy with the Gulf Shore States, then a country, now a province. She had two more kids with him. So far. How old is she? Do demis have a different menopause time?
Learning too much too fast, he rested the tablet on his legs and looked out the windows. Endless trees. No farms. Why would the imperium want all this? Or is it just a bridge to get to my country? Er, my former country.
Stifling a sigh, Jimmy raised the glowing screen again, back to the family tree. Names, names, and more names, but everything comes back to these two daughters: Callie and Lily, the latter now in Texas. Their parents… Aurelia had mentioned Clive Barrett to him once: political mass murderer. Their entire family is effed up, he thought. There was one spur off on its own, from Lily’s line. He tapped “Kalí Rigó.”
Below a grainy picture of a young woman with straight, literally dirty blonde hair, with jarring eyes, one black, the other green, was a short description. Married young to an oil/natural gas wildcatter. Moves around constantly out West. He tapped on the Restricted link but of course, nothing happened. There was one more note: “Changed/unknown.”