Colour | Epilogue

And that’s a wrap. 67,800 words of “Regent.” For those of you reading along from the beginning, congratulations. Anyone who has commented here or sent me a note, I appreciate your input and it all goes to make the story better.

I’ll be doing some editing and formatting for a day or two before dropping this load onto my copyeditor. At the same time, I’ll see if my cover designer has not frozen to death in central Germany to prod her into action. With chance and luck, I can have this commercially available by the end of January.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer! C’mon, it’s Christmas.

Lips.  Warm.  This is nice…

“Wake up, Jimmy!” Regent Princess Aurelia Hartmann shouted into his face.  “We’ve a million things to do!”

“What?  Where…?” I was out the whole time?

“I said,” she snapped open his harness and hauled him up until his head hit the low ceiling, “let’s go!”

Not a bit different from their goodbye, was that just a week ago, he wondered, boots, uniform; her short hair was back in a tiny ponytail.  She pushed him out of the hole in the floor and jumped down next to him.  Looking about, it was as if he had not gone anywhere:  inside one of their massive forts.  But way warmer here.

“You are in Savannah,” she said.  “I had work here, which is now finished.  We’ll be taking the MAGLEV across the entire imperium overnight.  I want to be in Vicksburg at dawn.”

She took his hand and dragged him toward a set of buildings.

“Not that we’ll be sleeping,” she muttered before walking through a door into what looked like an office.  Oh.

“Hello, again, Mrs. Jansen,” Jimmy said, finally pulling Aurie to a halt.  What the?  She looks younger, but it would be rude to say that.  “You look great.  Life with this fireball must suit you.”

“I’m inclined to agree with you.  And we’re way past formality, Jimmy,” she smiled.

“Apologies, Colour.” More tugging.  “Seems I must be off…”

Another office, this time with the door slammed behind them.

“Take off your clothes,” she ordered.  Jimmy recalled something Robert said about his dad.

“No,” he replied, leaning on the edge of the desk there.  There were only two chairs before it.  Did she expect us to do it standing up?

To flustered by his response, Aurelia didn’t see the question in his eyes.

“But… I love… we love…!” she tried.

She must be under enormous stress, he realized.  I’ve never seen this side of her.  At a loss for anything.  He stood and walked to her, taking her into his arms.

“Marry me.” It was not a question.  She looked up, her eyes shining gold.

“I will.  I do.  I shall love, honor, and, er,” she swallowed, “obey you, within the bounds of Catholic tradition and the edicts of the imperium, until separated by death.”

“Tough getting that last one out, Aurie?” He kissed her mouth to stop a potential lecture.

“The ceremony will have to wait, of course, until the empress gets home,” she began once her lips were free, “but I have already logged that you and I are married.  My kid brother says he’s happy for me!  Now, will you take your clothes off?  Please, Master?”

The last was too much and they were laughing so much their hands couldn’t get all of each other’s buttons and zippers.  “Where…?” Jimmy asked, ready to go.

“Just sit in that chair,” she said, pushing him down before straddling him.  “This is going to be soooo good!”

“Ouch!” Jimmy cried, landing hard on his butt.  Did the chair break?  Aurie was still in his arms and on his lap, but looking around…

“Not now, Reina!” the princess hissed.

Jimmy looked about.  The office was gone and they were on the carpet in some huge room.  Very old, ornate statues and paintings were along the walls.  Walls covered in white plaster and gold paint.  Or real gold?  The wall behind Aurelia had several floor-to-ceiling windows.  Bright light streamed in but he could see nothing out.  The entire room reeked of ancient European aristocracy.

“If you two want to finish, I’ll wait.” A girl’s voice from somewhere off to their left.  It was not at all a nice voice.  In a supple motion, Aurie was up and out of his lap, unconcerned that she was completely naked.  He noted her left foot was on toes; her shorter leg.  She raised her right hand high.

“Prime Minister Mendrovovitch,” she called to the far end of the room.  “Always interesting to visit.”

Jimmy stood, too, trying to copy her bluster for being nude in a room like this.  Prime Minister?  Holy shit.  She’s the Machine who runs Russia.  Who took all of western Canada.  Looking where his new wife was, there was an equally ornate desk at the far end of the room.  Someone was just walking around… he stifled a laugh.

Maybe one hundred and sixty or sixty-five centimeters.  An old-style white uniform with gold epaulets.  Polished black leather riding boots to her knees.  Short black hair, except for a two cm fringe down the right side of her face to her chin.  Wide, scarlet eyes.  Very pretty.  And all ruined by the twisted scowl of her mouth.  Jimmy rubbed at the headache beginning at the back of his neck.

“Regent Princess Hartmann.  Demi-human.  It seems I interrupted something personal.  I shall be concise.” Reina walked to just a meter from them.  “I have received a coded transmission from Aqua.  Coded so that only one of us can read it.  As I thought, the re-engineering of the Second Inundation of Mars is working.  Your aunt and her son were on the surface in Arabia Terra.  For reasons.”

She paused her speech to look at him.

“Not bad for a non-Slav.  I commend your selection,” Reina admitted.

“Your point, Reina?” Hartmann seemed a bit ticked.

“Aqua reports signal lost from the Empress and Crown Prince of the imperium,” she said formally.  “We do not know what happened.”

“God, help me!” Aurelia cried, her face in her hands.  With a start, Jimmy saw they were back in her small office in Savannah.  She took a deep breath and immediately pulled her clothes back on and ran out the door, shouting order after order.

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