Book 17. Part Three. 1

Starting part three with the focus on Eloise Patel. We pick up the story just where Bob literally vanishes out of her arms. While Aurelia is in this scene, most of this part will involve humans, both in the imperium and in Canada. I know that sort of flies in the face of the whole “Machine Civilization” theme, but I like to mix things up now and again.

There’s not exactly tension in the plot as we already know Faustina and Edward are back safe, albeit six months from now. And we know that Eloise gets herself into trouble back home. Now we just need to find out what happened.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer! 

Expecting a kiss, Eloise closed her eyes and parted her lips as she tilted her head back, waiting for Bob to…

Waiting.  Her hands fell from where his shoulders had been.  It’s awfully quiet.   She opened her eyes to find herself alone, just outside of the hangar they had visited.

“Bob?” she tried.  Then, louder.  “Bob!”

Where did he go!  I’m glad their Regent told me to dress as a civilian or I’d be arrested right now.  “Bob?  This is not at all funny!”

Nothing.  A few techs, mostly men, looked in her direction as they moved about, doing their work.

He said this was the most secret part of his country, Eloise thought.  I have no ID on me at all and even if I did, “Canadian Army” is not going to go over well, here.  Just calm down, Patel.  You’ve been lost on base before, back as a cadet.  I just need to reach out to Security and they can get me back to wherever Bob wandered off to…

And why did you, dammit!

Besides the hangar before her, she had an idea where the cafeteria was – and that asshole who hates me – so maybe back toward the main gate, to the southwest?  Head up, confident as if she belonged there, she struck out in that direction.  Ten minutes later had her to the gatehouse.  Two slightly bored legionaries watched her approach.

“I am Eloise Patel, a guest of Prince Robert,” may as well go for it.  “We have become separated and I’ve no means to communicate with him.  Is it possible for one of you to let him know where I am?”

At the prince’s name, they both stood.  Odd to see loyalty to a family.  Nothing at all like Canada.

“Absolutely, Ma’am,” the younger drawled in their accent while finding a cup and pouring her some tea.  “Deke?  Can you radio Central and get this sorted?”

“On it, Billy,” Deke said, reaching to a transceiver.  “Cain’t keep a VIP waitin’, after all!”

A sip at the tea – it’s just bitter sugar water! – while they waited only seconds for a reply.  “Got it,” Deke said to the air.  He turned about, looking a little shaky.

“G… got a car coming now.  Regent herself wants to see you, Miss Patel.” He looked to the other for some support.

“That’s fine, thank you,” Eloise said, brushing her hand against his.  These boys are trying their best and I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.  “I’m sure this is just a little misunderstanding.  I know the prince, and the Regent, have a lot on their plates right now.  I’m just glad you two could help me out.  I’ll be sure to commend your names to the right people.”

Military was military, no matter what country.  Both young men looked relieved.  A single honk from behind her let her know that car had arrived.  With a wave to the two, she was off.

“He’s gone.” Regent Aurelia announced in a surprisingly small office ten minutes later.  Eloise stood at attention opposite her well-organized desk.

“Gone?” Wait.  How do I address her?  “Gone, Regent Aurelia?  We were just…”

“He’s not a demi so we cannot hear one another,” the shorter woman said brusquely.  “But I can see anything the security cameras can on this base and I’ve rolled back and looked at when he was about to kiss you.  Here.”

She handed Eloise a tablet.  That’s the back of my head from some elevation, yes, my hands were on his shoulders, he was going to lean in and…

Bob Hardt was not in the image anymore.  Eloise looked at herself and paused before glancing left and right.  She looked at this most dangerous demi-human.

“I don’t understand,” she admitted.

“I suspect,” was the Regent’s reply.  “This has to do with the Empress and her son, Edward, being lost.  Kalí is now involved and you and I came up with the whole ‘time-slip’ mess.  I’d wager Kalí grabbed Robbie and went looking for them.”

“But…” Where to start with these people?  “But where?  When?”

“What I pulled out of you said the future.” The Regent stood and walked around her desk, stopping just before Eloise.  “All other search-and-rescue efforts shall continue as planned.  Me?  I think it’s all for naught and this is up to Robbie and Kalí.  Come here.”

The young ruler opened her arms as if expecting a hug.  She cannot really…

“Yes, I do.”

Oh.  Eloise stepped into her and they held one another close for nearly a quarter of a minute.

“Better,” Aurelia said, letting her go.  “I know you’re not Christian but we, my fam, know mind-body are equally important.  And, I was also checking your unconscious mind to see if there was anything else we should know.”

So rude!

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