Book 17. Part Three. 11

Road trip. Which shall be followed by a train trip. I like telling road stories.

Looks as if things are getting a little hot, vis a vis politics with the Republic of Texas. I do wonder if the Rigó family – the other branch of the other daughter of the Barrett’s – weren’t there, if Faustina would have annexed them, at gunpoint, by now. Oil, natural gas, uranium, industry, agriculture… I think the temptation to her would have been overwhelming.

And now a faction of the Texan government threatens one of the Rigós. One married to one of the Empress’ sons. This is more stupid than anything the Canadians have ever done to the imperium. Very curious how this shall play out.

Research to do. Have a good Memorial Day weekend, for those of you in FUSA. The nation is dead but we must honor our dead.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer! 

Getting her two small pieces of luggage, Eloise hurried back toward the office building, badly needing a drink, no matter Aurelia threatened.

It does not matter what Burghy thinks, now.  Aurelia was right:  that conversation is probably already being picked apart in SIS.  I hope he’s not in trouble now, too.  And then she implies I’m in some relationship with her!  After getting pregnant less than a day ago!  I’m so tired of this.

She slowed her quick steps when she came around the corner of another building to see the three vehicles:  an MRAP with a 50-caliber machine gun on top followed by two armored Hummers.  The first of the two with a parabolic dish atop.  Men appeared to already be aboard but the Regent stood next to the one with the dish, talking to a man dressed as a Catholic priest with her secretary, Colour Jensen, to her left.

When Aurelia knelt in the grass with her head bowed, Eloise stopped.  The priest placed both hands onto her head and she just caught something about “protection for you, and God’s blessing for your great task” before they both crossed themselves and she stood.

“Colour?  Eloise?  You’re with me,” Aurelia announced, moving to the back of the middle vehicle.  “Mount up.”

The two humans sat across from the demi.  No one else besides a driver and gunner was in their Hummer.

“Just like before, Colour, we’re down the road to Chattanooga to catch the MAGLEV,” Aurelia began to explain.  “But this time, we’re going west.  We’ll be in Vicksburg, on the Mississippi, in a couple of hours.  I’ve already closed the rail bridge and have three cohorts stood to where the Texans can see them with binoculars.”

“For your cousin’s wife?” Colour asked.

“Yep.  Her mom’s moving a flotilla from Mobile toward Galveston as we speak.  And speaking of…” They watched her arch her back and stretch.  “I’ve got to make some calls.  Try to not bother me.”

Expecting her to reach for a phone, Eloise instead saw her eyes flare gold as she intoned, “My soul is fire; my mind lightning.”

There was a whining over their heads from the equipment which drove the parabolic dish.  The Regent began to move her lips but said nothing.

Colour put her hand onto Eloise’s shoulder, startling her.

“She’s taken control of that dish to talk to others,” the older woman whispered, pointing up with her left hand.  “I’ve seen this a few times before.  If it’s a human, she has to use words.  For her kind, they just think at one another.”

Eloise realized this was one more thing that could be used to destroy her country.  They can communicate like this? 

“What,” Eloise whispered back, “was that word she used, about getting to Vicksburg?”

“MAGLEV.  A train that floats above magnets.  It’s very fast,” Colour explained.  “One of the Empress’ public works projects.  They are surveying the land to build one up east towards my country.”

“And that means my country, too.” Eloise thought about that.  “They can move troops on those trains?”

“Of course.”

Aurelia was right.  Canada is dead but just doesn’t know it yet.  I have to, well, not warn them, but somehow convince the military that resistance is futile and will get thousands…  She thought of St. Louis… tens of thousands killed.

Aurelia abruptly sighed and relaxed a little.  She touched her lips with two fingers of her right hand.  Colour immediately reached into the bag at her feet and passed over a bottle of water.

“She has you well trained,” Eloise smiled.

“We’re friends, Miss Patel,” Colour snarked back.  “I’ve seen her, well, in a bad way.  Even in hospital.  I try to help.”

“I’m sorry, I apologize.” Eloise saw Aurelia was looking at them while she drank.  “To both of you.”

“Little Julian said it:  fanatic loyalty,” she continued.  “We don’t have that in Canada.  Everything, all relationships, are transactional.”

“Even marriage?” Colour asked, curious.

“Folks such as my dad were imported because the native population kept falling.  So, yes, Colour, even marriages are just another business.”

“We do what we can here,” Aurelia said, joining their conversation.  “A big factor, of course, is degeneracy is not allowed.  While some cities have local television, there is no imperium-wide broadcast unless my aunt has something important to say.  Foreign signals are blocked.  Pornographers are shot.  That sort of thing.”

“Further,” she said warming to the subject as she handed the empty bottle back, “we are all survivors of the Change, which began with over a hundred million dead here in the former US, alone.  There are only local taxes and by imperial edit any family with four or more children pay nothing at all, at any level.”

She tilted her head at Eloise.

“Colour is older about this.  You have heard me say the imperium is nothing more than its children and grandchildren, and further on.” She blinked.  “Tell me, Eloise Patel, what is the fundamental unit of society?”

“What?  Why the individual, of course…”

“Utterly and absolutely wrong,” Aurelia said with a frown.  “Except for the mid-20th century to the Change, that was a lie promulgated by outsiders.  No.  It is the family.  Now and forever.  And that is why Canada is doomed, just as much as the old US was.  Nothing saved them; nothing will save your nation.”

One again, I’m told by these people that everything I believe is wrong.  But, I’m beginning to suspect they are right.

“Hey!” Aurelia’s countenance brightened with her eyes.  “I got ahold of Daddy and Mama!  Back in a bit!”

This time there was no movement of her lips.  Just some twitches of her facial muscles and tiny motions of her hands.

“You’ve met Henge, I know,” Colour whispered once again.  “And her husband is also like them.  They are talking faster that you and I can imagine.”

“I wonder what about?” Eloise breathed.

“Everything,” Aurelia volunteered, her eyes fading.  “Ah.  We are almost to Chattanooga.  This is not a scheduled train, and, yes, I’m pulling rank, so we’ll be in Vicksburg by twenty-hundred.  I’ve already made dinner reservations.  Like seafood, El?”

“Uh,” caught off guard by the diminutive only Bob had used, “yes, by and large.”

“You’ve seen I’m a plain eater – don’t laugh, Colour!  But I wanted to be nice before we go to war in the morning.”

It was suddenly very cold in the back of the Hummer.

“God help me!” Aurelia cried.  “You people have no sense of humor!”

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