Politics, sure. How can there not be with a group such as this? But it is also a chance to see a simpler side of “normal” humans out for a walk.
As we have seen in some of my books, Empress Faustina has always been very careful to not let he first husband, and now her second, have, or even to be seen to have, political power. She is an autocrat and acts as one. That certainly does not mean she doesn’t love them, but power is power and too dangerous to share.
Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!
“Then,” Johnston said, taking control of the conversation, as the eldest, “we can all be confused together. It’s a bit early for dinner, but how about we confused humans take a walk?”
“Dad, really?” his son muttered.
“If you want to go play with the engineers, that’s fine, Jules. But I think, given our family, you should walk and listen to these two.” He ruffled his son’s hair again. “You have much to learn, young prince.”
“Okay, Dad,” the boy said, looking at the two Canadians.
“What a polite boy you have, Stephen,” she said to compliment the young man. “Wish my two younger brothers had a tithe of his self-control.”
“Hellions, are they?” Johnston asked, leading them toward a graveled path into the woods.
“My father is from Mumbai, originally, and even with me joining the army was thrilled to have a couple of sons after me, so, yes, he spoils them a little.” A shake of her head. “We live in Toronto, but with the ice coming, might be moving soon.”
“Fancy being a provincial governor once my wife annexes the Midwest?” Johnston laughed.
“What!” Eloise exclaimed.
“You sound as bad as Aurie,” Jimmy breathed, looking over at her. “The Empress has no intention of letting the Canadians keep control of that area. The Regent told me you and her cousin, Bob, are something of an item, but that you’ll be sent home, soon. I’ve been used by these people before, so assume you are, too.”
“Just,” he stopped for a moment, “be careful in who you tell. Before I was rescued by Bob, Centurion Hardt, I was headed for the cells of the CSIS. If they can do that to me, they can do it to you.”
I really need to talk to General Burghy again.
“I… appreciate your candor, Jimmy. But I am still a commissioned officer and must obey orders.”
“There’s always another option,” Johnston said with a hand on each of their shoulders, getting them moving again. “Asylum. My wife’s eldest son offered it to a Russian android some weeks, well, months ago, now. They are spaceship pilots in the Belt and outer planets. Fancy a change of career, Leftenant Patel?”
“Is that an offer, Prince Consort?” she smiled back.
“I have zero power here; none. May I take your hand? Thank you…”
“Dad…!” Julian said.
“Hush. I’m being nice.”
“You’re flirting. I’m not stupid, Dad. Mom will kill you.”
“What about hush didn’t you get?” Eloise laughed at the two of them. “Now, I can only suggest things to my wife, one of the most powerful people in the world, but it’s an option if you want it, Eloise.”
“I appreciate the offer.” She looked over at Jimmy, with his hands in his jeans pockets. “If you’d like to get back to your wife…”
“She busy. The current crisis with the Empress and Edward is one thing, sure,” he shrugged, “but she has an entire country to run. And other nations to deal with.”
“Including ours?” she asked.
“Including ours. We, there I go again, the Canadians and imperials face each other across a line of water, the Ohio River. I know what the Russians are up to out west. We are all in a very dangerous place, Eloise.”
“I know, Jimmy. In fact,” she lifted her right hand, held by the Empress’ husband, “can you take me to what Bob called the Comm Building? I think I should check in.”
“Of course!” He pivoted on his heel, spinning her about as if in a dance.
“Dad. Flirting.” Julian said again with disapproval.
“Just practicing, my boy,” he laughed. “Then your mother and I can work on your sibling when she gets back.”
Eloise and Jimmy laughed at that.