Another abbreviated entry as the last line is the transition where Bob falls down the rabbit hole. Or, to be more precise, where Kalí drags him down it.
Eloise now understands that the things she apprehends with her eyes, reactionless motorcraft, nukes, are nothing compared to demi-humans and Thinking Machines. A knife kills as thoroughly as an a-bomb; it’s the mind behind it which matters.
The next few entries were difficult for me to understand and write. I’ve mentioned my distaste for time travel stories and that is what the next chapter is, to rescue Faustina and Edward. Much like “Crosses & Doublecrosses,” I get in and out just as quickly as I can. My notes for Part Three are shaping up nicely. Looks as if South Park finally gets their war.
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“You might still do so!” she cried. “My head hurts a little but… that was one of the Machines?”
“Ai is my great aunt’s best friend and vice versa.” There is no simple way to explain all this. “Have been for years, long before even Mom was born. Besides where we stood, there’s the beach, made by Aurie’s mom, a couple of airstrips, the archery and rifle range, Pavel’s natatorium…”
“Stop.” She leaned into him. “Just stop. I get it. Your motors and nukes are just what we see. You and your family have friends we literally cannot imagine.”
“How,” she tilted her head up, eyes swimming, “can we stop my country from doing something stupid? I cannot even begin to explain all this to General Burghy, so how can he tell Ottawa and Trudeau to stand down?”
“Above my pay grade,” he admitted, making her angry. “Let’s get Mom and my big brother back, first, then we’ll sort things out. Will Burghy let you know if things are safe for you to go home, or are you stuck here?”
“I’m not stuck, Centurion,” she said, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand. “I’m here with you. I am content.”
Even recognizing Bob, the guard still asked for his ID while he explained Eloise was a guest of the Regent. They again had to wait while that was called in. Moments later, he smiled to hear her gasp at the ships inside the massive hangar.
“I was expecting something like that flying saucer we saw, back when we met in Flemingsburg, and later, near Winnipeg.” Eloise waved at the one-hundred and one-hundred-and-fifty-meter-long cylinders. Some on the ground, some floating silently in the air. “I had no idea.”
“The S-class ships, like the one you saw, are for quick transport of couriers or diplomatic staff. And Earth-Moon rescue missions, if need be,” Bob explained, leading her about with a light hold of her elbow. “These T-class are for missions to Mars and beyond. If you want to see huge…”
“Please don’t make a crude joke, Bob.”
“…then a Russian freighter or Japanese destroyer,” he concluded with a laugh. “We’ll use an S-class for our moon trip.”
“Showing a girl the moon and the stars, Bob?” She allowed him to keep guiding her. “Anything else I should see?”
“Honestly, yes and no.” They abruptly turned right. “Yes, we have other things we’re working on, but no, I do not think even a verbal description of it from you to your command would be a good idea.”
Back outside, he let go and stretched.
“There’s still a bit of time before we were ordered to dinner,” Bob noted, looking at the sun. “Why don’t you rest a bit. And think about what answers to the Regent’s questions you might give.”
“We could stop at the cafeteria for another sour mash whiskey, first…” she angled.
“El, going to a meeting with any of my family, at all intoxicated, is a really bad idea,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve done so for a couple of our informal get togethers, but I grew up with them and they with me. You, an outsider? Very bad idea.”
“Okay, okay, I get it, Bob !” She raised her hands in surrender before placing them on his shoulders. “But I would like a kiss, though.”
“That sounds fine,” he said, reaching to put his hands about her waist, only to grab the edges of a small table from the wrought iron chair he sat in.