Book 17. Part Two. 13 (end p2)

This is the end of Part Two. I’ve mentioned Part Three, currently underway, will be from Lt. Eloise Patel’s POV as she has been arrested by a faction of the Canadian government.

They, the Canadians, are realizing that things have turned against them. Riding high from occupying the former US Midwest ten years ago, they thought their problems of access to resources and – more importantly – a place to move as the ice and snow of the Maunder Minimum continues to come south, were over and it seemed to be champaign and roses. For a few years.

Then Yukon and British Columbia fell to the Russian Empire. A couple of meeting engagements around Winnipeg. Then Winnipeg under the ice; Edmonton under the ice and road and rail lines to their western provinces cut just as a Russian brigade shows up to claim it all. At the same time, with Canadians on the Ohio River, Empress Faustina incorporates Kentucky into a new imperial province. A few months later, she sends her niece, Aurelia, at the head of an army to bring the Northern Federation of Maine, New Hampshire, and surrounding communities into Friend & Ally status; Aurie goes even further, prompting the Archbishop of Montreal to reopen the matter of Quebec’s independence.

All of this, plus the imperium and the Russians have reactionless motors and fusion weapons. Factions of the Canadian government are now scared and scared governments do stupid things. How stupid? We’ll find out in Part Three.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer! 

The door swung halfway closed behind her.  Aurelia cleared her throat.

“The Canadians and Russians are in formal talks about their central provinces,” she immediately began.  “The Northern Federation took a second vote and are now Friend and Ally of the imperium.”

“Thanks to you, Cousin,” Bob smiled, getting some coffee.  She ignored him.

“Via back channels, we hear Archbishop Lefevre continues to guide Quebec toward independence.  That has the Maritime Provinces spooked.  I’ve sent diplomatic teams, undercover as tourists, to New Brunswick and Newfoundland,” Aurie carried on.  “All of this has their hardliners mad as hell.  And most of them are in Trudeau.”

“Where Eloise is being held.” Bob nodded.  “If she went back, she must have had an ‘all-clear’ from that brigadier of hers… Burghy?”

“She did and that is why I allowed her to go,” the former regent nodded, stretching this way and that.

“Aurie,” Bob said, looking at her belly, “if you need to rest.”

“I’m pregnant, Cousin, not an invalid,” she glared just a little.  “Your mother just told you Eloise is off limits, so once you rescue her, why not marry into the Romanov family?”

“What?  Did you just come up with that?” he demanded.

“It’s been six months, Robbie.  I think a lot.”

“Right.  Sorry.” He went to pour more coffee.  “What else?”

“There have been no issues across the Ohio River, so no matter what faction, the Canadians are not acting stupid toward us,” she went on, but sitting down to belie her big talk.  “I know you’ve basic intel on Texas from Ed.  Right after the empress left they detained Livia.  Thank God my friend was across from me when I heard that or else I would have killed them.  All of them.”

Bob knew full well his own short temper.  There are times I am very glad I am not like them.

“But I didn’t,” she smiled.  “Now, Liv’s mom?  The superintendent of our Naval Academy in Mobile?  I think she was ready to shell Galveston into rubble if I had not kept a tight rein on her.”

“As Mother noted,” he said drolly, “we are known for our family loyalty.  The rest of the Alliance?”

“Japs are steady under their new emperor.” Aurie placed her hands onto the table and let her eyes flare a little, scouring information.  “With Constantinople back in Christian hands for a half-generation, the Greeks are asking to join the IDF, the Habsburg Empire…”

“Which I’m sure the Serbs don’t like,” Bob noted.

“At all, yes,” Aurie agreed.  “But not our problem.  Next door to them, Reina has been moving entire towns south because of the snow and ice… all northern Finns are now outside of Kazan, can you believe it?”

“I’m sure they’re thrilled,” Bob said, beginning to pace from the caffeine in the coffee.

“And having mentioned our dear cousin,” Aurie said caustically of Reina, “she was extremely helpful in our early rescue efforts, before your disappearance, for the empress and your brother.  I think being married with two kids is mellowing her out.”

“I hope something does,” Bob muttered.  The most dangerous person on this planet… wait a minute!  “Hey!  Mom and Ed have data about the effects of the terraforming project that Reina cannot even begin to imagine!  We can use that…”

“Just told Faustina and she,” Aurie sighed a little, “is ahead of us, as usual.  Reina is… I don’t know how to express this to you, dear cousin, but in the Void, she is clamoring for that information.  The empress has indicated she is unwell from the temporal transfer and must to bed.”

Aurelia’s eyes returned to normal as she looked up and smiled with her teeth.

“A lie, of course.  But we all are enjoying the spectacle of Reina on our leash, for once.”

“Okay.” He placed his empty mug over by the coffeepot.  “That’s the summary.  What I need now…”

There was a tap at the door.  A tech entered, bowed, and handed Bob a tablet without a word, closing the door behind him.

“All information about Eloise is on there, Cousin,” Aurie said, standing.  “Including all of her communications home.  There are notes and comments from our intel group as well as me.”

She walked over and touched his arm.

“I know you are tired.  It should take you about four hours to digest.  After that, sleep for six,” she ordered.

“You’re not Regent anymore, Aurie.”

“No, but I’m family and smarter than you.  When you are awake, we’ll have a Council of War as to how we rescue her.”

“How much time does she have left?” he demanded.

“Four hours of reading and watching, six of sleep,” her tone brooked no opposition.  “At the end of that, she’ll be shot fifty-one hours later.”

She stood on her tip toes to brush her lips to his cheek.

“Plenty of time, Cousin!  We’re Hartmanns, after all!  If we can’t do good…?”

“Then we’ll do bad well.” Bob smiled.  “Thank you, Aurie.”

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