Subject: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is! Chapter 30 Winston Churchill Story: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is Chapter 30 Winston Churchill Author: Eric McQueen (mcqueen.richarderic@) Adult Readers, Sexual Situations, Sex Freedom of expression is precious. To do that, Nifty needs help. Your donation is greatly desired. Give to fty/ or this story ends and all the others! That would be a crime! Olek’s and Helga’s marriage is announced to the public. The news of the arriving Heir to Makarovia’s throne is also announced. Peter and Eric travel to Skoal to see the improvements, their friends Generals Burke and Hammond, and is introduced to Winston Churchill!! Winston Churchill Peter made the second broadst live. It was recorded, but only as a recording. He told them again there were going to be more presentations in Makarovian. Urging them to see what and when. These presentations would be shown on television as well. We me into the family dining room. It was again devoid of most of the family. Only Olek was there at the moment. Reading something. Getting our coffees we sat at the table with him, “Good morning, Olek!” Peter greeted. Olek looked at us and smiled, “Good morning.” I looked around quickly, “Where’s Helga?” Olek sighed, “She’s on her way to Sambor.” There was the sound of irritation in his voice. My eyes widened, “Isn’t that a little far?” Makarovia wasn’t big in width. Stryia was loted in the middle of it’s widest part. It was a valley and a lot longer than it was in width by about a factor of eight or ten. Sambor was the Northernmost village or community in Makarovia. To the west was Poland, to the east was Ukraine, and to North was Belarus. Don’t forget those mountains that surrounded us. Those mountains kept us in but also protected us. There were invasions, but it wasn’t easy. There were three passes you could get through and they were watched refully in the past and present. Two were on the east side to Ukraine and one to the west toward Romania. The train me through those passes. When the snow and ice were at their worse, even those were blocked at times. It was a couple of hours to Sambor just by the terrain. “They were having a power access problem Helga went to see about,” Olek explained glumly, “They flew her up by corporate helicopter.” He narrowed an eye and jabbed a finger in our direction, “I told her! I’m not doing this alone. She gets back in time or I ncel the conference!” He would, too. How far anyone had traveled didn’t matter. The press turnout was a lot less than for the Proposal or the Wedding, but still… I grinned at Olek, “Well, she is Dr. Helga Schneider.” I shrugged. “They flew her up there?” Peter asked, “I’m sure she insisted, knowing what was happening today.” The sound of hard soul shoes on the stone floor we heard before who was in them entered the room, but two hushed voices in a conversation told me who they were. It was almost like a library or church where it was expected you were to be quiet. Boris and Yuri entered the room and moved to sit opposite of Peter and me on Olek’s other side. “Greetings, everyone,” Boris said in a happy tone and he looked at Peter. “That was a good radio announcement this morning.” Peter’s face turned pink, “I simply told them what was happening and what to do to see it.” Boris stood again and went for his coffee. “It was more than that, you made it sound like it will be exciting,” he made a second cup I knew was for Yuri. “I know what it’s about and I want to see it.” “Aw, well…” Peter began. His tone was one of those you shouldn’t have sound. I was putting butter on a large croissant. “You know what really bothers me?” I asked loud and interrupting Peter. I didn’t wait for an answer. “A person receives a compliment and the person receiving it lls the person that gave the compliment a liar.” Olek grinned as Boris slid the coffee in front of Yuri. Peter looked a little indignant. “I hadn’t said anything yet!” Peter protested. “If you were going to thank Boris, fine,” I said to him. “If you were going to deny what he said in any way, you will be lling him a liar.” I looked at him directly. “If not, I will apologize in front of everyone.” Peter opened his mouth as he searched for what to say and he frowned, “Okay, I was going to do what you said.” He admitted, folding his arms across his chest in a near pout. I smiled at him, “I said, I didn’t want to see that Peter again. That includes hearing from him. You were a star these past two days.” Peter looked at Boris. “Thank you, Boris.” “Is anyone using the plane Monday?” Yuri asked getting a piece of bread from the basket. Olek shook his head, “No.” He suspected as I did as to why. Yuri nodded, “I will need to pick up Mikell and Cosmo.” I almost let out a cheer! Peter was smiling but asked, “Has he…improved at all?” Yuri looked serious a moment, “His overall health has improved, but no he still n’t walk unaided. He will if he gets therapy.” “It’s not premature?” Olek asked. “I was told he has healed enough to travel,” Yuri nodded. “As before, if he were just being sent home to live alone, they would keep him longer.” He motioned to Olek, “You told them he was coming here, to the palace.” He grinned at me, “I talked General Burke and he promised us with two medil service-related employees to come with us. One’s a therapist who will learn what he needs to do. The other is a physician’s assistant that n handle the worse crisis medilly.” And he shook his finger at us, “And I know what you’ll ask next. You could come with us, but you don’t have to.” He had a look of uncertainty. “I would prefer you to remain here.” It was clear from Yuri’s tone he knew his preference wasn’t an order, and there was more depth about the reason. “Why?” Peter asked wanting to know more about the reason why. Yuri sighed, “Beuse this isn’t a pleasure trip or even a business trip.” He motioned with his hands on the table, “We fly down, pick them up and come back,” He shrugged. “I doubt we’ll be there for more than an hour.” I nodded, “If we go, you’ll insist on protection for us. I get it.” Yuri sighed a breath of relief, “Thank you, Eric.” His silence afterward was telling me there was something else. “Yuri?” “Is there an additional threat?” Olek asked recognizing something. Yuri shook his head, “Not additional, but constant. There is the threat of the Consortium and that female pirate.” He chuckled a little, but he was uneasy. There was almost no humor in the chuckle. “Call me paranoid, it’s gotten suddenly quiet out there.” “And that’s bad?” Peter asked. I grimaced, “Please don’t say it’s too quiet.” “Why not?” Yuri asked. “Beuse it’s a cliche, damn it!” I said testily in irritation and haunches into a character other than myself, “Someone’s always walking into a lm situation and after looking around says, it’s quiet, too quiet, just to add suspense! And you always know there will be something bad to happen.” Even if what he was mentioning was very serious, and it always was; that didn’t get anyone to lose their sense of humor. It was not what I said, but how I said it. Boris shook his head, Yuri’s eyes widened and Olek was smiling broadly. “Or like when you start writing a book with, it was a dark and stormy night,” Boris smiled. I waved at Boris quickly, “Exactly!” My laugh and quick nod were where I said, “No. I n promise you that if I write anything, that phrase will not be included.” Yuri started with a small smile. “What should I say when it is? It is!” He grew serious again. “Reports every morning from our people that monitor the Worldwide Web, the online chatter has greatly decreased.” He glared at us. “Why? There haven’t been any new groups to surface with new threats or as much chatter.” He had been right too many times to dismiss any hunches he had. “Are there more preutions we should take?” Olek asked. Yuri threw his hands up, “Sequester yourselves here!” Olek’s eyes widened, “We n’t do that!” His voice had shock and irritation, “I will be here, but if I need to. I will go as I please.” He motioned toward Peter and me. Yuri was nodding as Olek spoke. “They have two more years at Northeast…” “Yes,” Yuri said grumbling, “I knew that would be your answer before I even said anything.” It was a glum resolution. He looked at Peter and me, “However, riding along to get Cosmo and Mikell isn’t necessary and therefore needlessly dangerous…” Peter nodded, “We get it, Yuri.” “What happened with that Nelson Carter?” I asked. “Isn’t there going to be further questioning coming?” Yuri was again nodding, “Yes.” He sighed. “For his crime. He had a trial and was convicted.” Yuri gave a “you’re-not-going-to-believe-this” shake of his head. “He pretty well lost his rights, but he has the right to not see anyone.” Yuri looked at us utiously, “He refuses to see me or see you, Olek.” “What about the rights of the accused to face their accusers!?” Peter asked. “Yes, and he has the right to refuse. That only applies when we accuse him with a crime,” I said. “He’s serving time for the crime for which he was accused. He’s paying for that part.” Peter turned, still looking stunned, “And?” He waved in frustration. “Make something up!” He thought a minute, “Such as…the death penalty was tossed out by the British in 1998. We tell him he’s being extradited to Makarovia for the rest of his sentence. We do execute people.” Olek pulled away from us a little in shock, “We don’t do that!” “I mean we as in you, Olek,” Peter corrected. “Penelope?” He reminded. “You were going to execute her in Boston, and I know it wasn’t a veiled threat.” Olek gave a grudging nod, “Yes, well that was different.” “How?” Peter argued, “Beuse she threatened your lapse in judgment and publish your naked ass on the Internet?” Olek frowned, “You know that’s not why.” He threw his hands out. “When we went to Mario’s Island, and you were concerned with someone seeing and taking pictures of me naked on the beach. What will it prove? I’m a human male?” I pointed at Peter. “I’ve never exercised that privilege and I don’t intend to.” He pounded his fist on the table, “That evil bitch lied! She was trying force me to make her queen and threatened you two. I trusted her with you! That was why.” I smiled at the passion he had with this, “Yes! We know that, Olek.” “But Nelson Carter doesn’t know you,” Peter pressed, and he shrugged. “If he and Penelope Baldwin spoke after they were ught, she would tell Nelson how close to that privilege you were with her.” He laughed at the incredible concept. “I’ve known you my whole life and I know you were going to do it.” Yuri nodded, “I thought you would, too.” “How n he refuse?” Peter asked. “He has rights!? He doesn’t have the right to steal, swindle, or otherwise take what isn’t his! Does he refuse to see us? Too bad. We’ll get someone to stand over him until he does.” “Wow,” I said looking at Peter. “Two Ivanov men speaking with such passion in the morning. It seems to work better than coffee!” “Is the British Government not going to allow you to see him?” Peter asked. Yuri shook his head, “It’s not that.” I looked at Yuri, “Can’t an investigator from England question Nelson?” “Who?” Olek asked. “Weeell,” I grinned sitting back a little. “I’ll ask General One-Punch. I bet he knows someone that n do it.” “And will do it legally?” Yuri asked. “Who res?” I asked in a growl. “Everything he’s done has been illegal and unethil as a Human Being.” I sighed and touched Yuri’s hand. “We won’t go with you to Athens. Just come back with those two who have become brothers to Peter and me. They need to be at home with those that love them.” “Is there a way to tell everyone we won’t negotiate with kidnapping demands?” Peter asked. Olek shook his head, “I n’t say that.” He pressed his hand against his chest above his heart. “If I do, they will know it’s a lie beuse I would pay whatever they wanted to save anyone at this table! Helga, Alla, Mario, and Katrina. I n’t lie like that and have people believe it.” “The only sure way to prove we won’t pay,” I said solemnly. “Is not to pay it if they succeed in taking us.” Olek nodded, “That Arab Princess lost her hand when her father refused the first time.” I nodded, “At least they kept in one ice, so she got it back and reattached.” I shook my head, “It never worked the same she said. At the time of her kidnapping, she was seventeen.” I smiled as I remembered seeing a picture of her, “She is in her late twenties, and she is probably the most beautiful woman I’ve seen.” I realized what I’d said and quickly added, “After Mom, Grandma, and Helga of course.” There was laughter at the table. “That was a good well-worded save,” Olek chuckled. “See what General Hammond suggests.” “After the press conference.” I nodded. Helga did return an hour before the conference. She changed clothes. What she wore was dress in one of those styles, and forgive me, I know less about fashion than I do about flowers! What I saw looked like what women wore in the 1920s! It was a light in color, one of those colors women only knew. It was close to the color green…sort of. Not Peter’s eye color of green, but greenish? The dress was a light material that wouldn’t make her hot outside. She even wore a hat! And why is she allowed to wear a hat indoors when men couldn’t? Not that I would if I could, hats don’t look right on me. Sorry, how did he get in? No rabbits! Scram! I suspected Jori’s handwork. The Makarovian from France? He loved making our clothes. His reputation was at stake. The family was gathered in a section. At exactly two in the afternoon, there was a musil prelude. A male me to the podium and simply said, “I present His Most Royal Majesty King Olek Ivanov the Second. The ruler of Makarovia.” He waved his hand off the podium in our direction. Olek took Helga’s hand and walked with her to the row of microphones. His family symbolilly and literally stood behind Olek. That included Mario and Grandma. Olek looked at the man bowing to Olek who had announced him, “I like that.” Olek said in Makarovian as he grinned. “Just get in there and get it done.” The man knew Olek and smiled back, “You know I live to serve.” Yes, that was sarstic, but Olek and this man had a relationship where that was okay. Olek looked at the many meras and people using them. Even if it was meant to be viewed on screens, there was print news and magazines that will use photographs. There weren’t many people here from Makarovia, but there was a polite round of applause, and the clicks with flashes popped from many sources. The Makarovian mera stood, fixed, but watched by Tomas who had his focus on a monitor to see what he was getting. Olek smiled and began in English, “As with most countries in West and East Europe, I will speak to you in English. It will be easier for you to translate English to whatever language you speak than from Makarovian.” He looked to his side taking Helga’s hand. “I want to introduce Dr. Helga Schneider…Ivanov. My wife.” Someone put a match to these people began to murmur, “Did he say his wife!?” I heard someone plainly say. Now those clicks and flashes were happening faster. “We married,” Olek smiled at Helga, “beuse in about…” he leaned toward Helga, “seven months, this beautiful soul will give birth to the next ruler of Makarovia.” Now the reporters were asking questions aimed at Olek and Helga. “Question and answer time will be later,” Olek said and then he switched to Makarovian. “Makarovia, I am not ignoring our traditions. There will be a Proposal followed by the year of service by Helga where you will voice whether or not she should be Queen. There will still be a wedding, only our child will be there, too. The traditions will be observed. This I swear to you as your king.” I have a good imagination. Remember? I couldn’t imagine anyone Makarovian who would be upset. There were many disappointments at first hearing Olek had married, and more than a few broken hearts. He wasn’t Prince Charming; he was King Fantastic! He kissed Helga and turned to us. “What’s the saying?” Olek asked. “The t’s out of the bag?” Grandma smiled, “That’s one. You mentioned a question-and-answer session.” She shrugged, “Why not do it now? They are all here.” Olek’s head wavered a little, “Beuse they’re a bunch of vultures!” He nodded, “Yes. That’s their job, getting the story.” He raised a finger up and did circular motion, “They’re like circling vultures flying over a dying animal, ready to swoop in.” Helga smiled, squeezing Olek’s hand, “With people all asking similar questions, we thought it best to do it interview style again. Like the family did before your wedding, Peter.” Peter nodded folding mezitli escort his arms across his chest, “We certainly understand that.” “I sort of saw the paparazzi as wolves,” I shrugged. “You’ve seen those nature shows that show them as a pack chasing a loan doe or something like it…who isn’t dead yet but running for their lives.” Olek grunted with a quick nod, “We aren’t dead and we’re not going to be.” He smiled, “Just as I did with every Prime Minister, President or whatever…the reporter may record the interview but will know. So am I. There will be no miscommunition by anyone.” “Okay,” Peter nodded. Once again, with Stepan and Visel in the backseat, I drove to Skoal. “You know,” Peter said a little utiously, but with a smile, “We could have done this as a conference ll on the computer.” I glanced at Peter, “That’s not as friendly as going to see them! You like David and Ed.” My eyebrows waggled, “And I get to drive!” The speed I was going, I knew would be illegal almost anywhere else. We were on the stretch of road where there weren’t many private homes, but there were some farms. I did watch to see if any livestock were loose or on the road. As with many countries in Europe, the streets were maybe a lane and a half. Wagons and horses didn’t require that much width. The road was a trail during the harsh winter, and it was always being repaired when the snow and ice melted. The road was used more than most beuse of the connection between Skoal and Stryia. I had driven the road before and while familiar, I needed to be reful. The one constant here were the hills. To have a road, you needed to make it smooth and as level as it n be. That meant there were a lot of curves. Nothing speaks to the Y chromosome like a curving road and speed. It defines what guys are. My Cobra was a muscle r and it performed at the high level it was supposed to. There was a stampede of horses under the hood and the torque…we hardly felt the curves that much. I wasn’t that reckless. It just reached a very primitive part of me that grunted in satisfaction. I will say that every male on the planet n reach their primitive side. That fact will be confirmed if we all do it. Let’s all grunt. One, two, and three, “Ugh!” There you go! Reaching our inner vemen isn’t hard, he’s just below the surface. Skoal. A year had gone, and I remembered those rows of white residential units. There were still some, but there were also houses. Duplexes. I couldn’t see a single one-family home. If you’ve been in the military or visited someone who was, knows military housing wasn’t built to be pretty. It was functional. Servicemen and servicewomen who brought their families lived here. The smallest duplex was the two-family kind, but others four or five townhouses attached to each other. I did slow down here. It was summer and the children were not in school. There was the sound, like in Stryia’s circular park, kids were having fun! Again, no language could be detected. High pitched squeals and many voices blended and beme that familiar drone everyone knows. I heard someone use a whistle and saw a man with a navy-colored p, light blue shirt and navy shorts in an enclosed fenced area point and shout something at someone who tossed a basketball to the man. The instructor or coach saw an error about something. Not all sports from the United States were forbidden. “I wonder where the lads and lasses play Cricket,” Peter said as we passed by them. I shrugged with a grin, “In a minute or two you n ask Ed!” Last year Peter had voiced concern about the changing of a quaint, European village into a bustling metropolis. They had attempted to maintain the look as all houses looked like they were covered by stone. One was being completed where I saw the studs (not the men) were not wood, but metal. Why kill a tree to build your house? The rows of houses looked regimental, just as the military that they housed. Everything was like that in the military. Charleston had a lot military and I could almost hear the drumline! I told you. I have a good imagination. “Are they spraying on the siding!?” Stepan asked. I looked at his eyes in the rearview mirror and looked where was pointing. A figure of a person who held a hose a softball could go through. From something this dark gray…foam spewed out on the side and stuck there. It obviously dried quickly as two more were using wide, flat trowels to smooth out what had been sprayed. “Yep,” I said. “I don’t know what kind of siding. It could be liquid vinyl.” Glancing again I nodded, “They’ve done it the United States swearing it is lighter adds a layer of insolation. In this climate, I’m sure it would have to.” The style of architecture was not European. It wasn’t Western either as in the United States, Canada, or Great Britain. They all had the steep red rooves to prevent snow and ice from it from collapsing under the growing weight. The modern world was entering the lives of Makarovians. “What is THAT!??” Vesil gaped as we passed an enormous building wide enough to park a couple of those big planes on. It wasn’t tall enough. There was a huge sign on the side that said, “Commissary and Exchange.” I chuckled, “A parent has to get their child’s peanut butter or batteries. Groceries and things like a television or stereo. A new shirt or athletic shoes. One-stop shopping right there!” There were almost no rs in the parking lot. Yes, a parking lot. Almost no one walked in and out. It was open, but few customers. I mentally kicked myself as my more aware side, reminded me, “We get to see what they’ve rved out underground. I wonder how the mother of three or more gets their groceries home without a r.” It had been a year since we’d been here at the headquarters and even that was covered with Great Britain’s Flag and the Amerin Flag. They were our biggest allies. They even had a lobby now! They moved quickly in the military. I’m not criticizing the decor…well, yes, I am. The floor of the lobby looked like marble and felt solid under my feet, but I knew it couldn’t be. It was decorated in military drab. It was very clean, and the floor shined. “You Amerins ARE British!” Peter said pointing at the two emblems on the wall. “You both have eagles.” “For the most part, in the beginning, but not so much anymore,” I said. “Even the tune for our national anthems is the same.” God Save The Queen and My Country tis of Thee is the same song. (If you didn’t know that already.) A young woman in a Royal Air Force uniform was sitting at a desk between two circular steps that started behind her and rose to a second floor where they joined again. The function was more important than being fancy. That was kind of pretty. At least it was light whitish with those dark wavy lines in it. The base in Charleston had the little black dots that looked like insects to me. The military greenish gray! I know they wanted to make everything similar as they did with the people that served in the military. That is the reason for the uniforms and haircuts. No individuality. The young lady looked up as we me toward her. She stood and bowed. “Your Highness,” she greeted with a smile and waved to her right. “General Hammond is expecting you.” “He is!?” Peter asked her and then looked at me. “He is,” I answered reaching the bottom step. “The General is a busy man. I sent him a message by email.” There was a set of double doors with both their Generals’ names on it. Opening the door, this was a little better. It was rpeted in a dark Air Force blue. Again, both military forces used blue. The Royal Air Force was a darker blue, but I couldn’t tell you what sort of color. There were three desks. Two toward the back wall and window, and one at the door as we me in. It was spacious. At the front desk was a male Senior Airman from the United States. (A three striper, but not a noncommissioned officer…yet.) He was close to Peter’s and my age. The Airman looked up and instantly jumped to his feet and seemed not to know what to do. At first, a salute and then he bowed. “Your Highness!” I had to bite my cheek to keep from laughing. He was so flustered, it was hilarious. Name badges were part of the uniform, “At ease, Airman Suggs. Normally, we don’t bite.” I waved at Peter and looked at Stepan and Visel. “Do either of you?” Stepan smirked. “Not until I get to know them well enough,” Stepan said in accented English. “And there you go,” I said in a “see there” kind of way with a short nod. “Eric!” Ed greeted, “and Peter!” He me from behind his desk. “It’s good to see you!” General Hammond was still the perfect example of British Aristocracy with the accent and manners. The salt and pepper hair had more salt now, but he was a handsome man. He was a grandfather, for Pete’s sake! Last year he showed that wasn’t all he was. There were terrorists, from England that were Muslim who wanted to force us NOT to marry. He knocked one out with a single punch and broke that terrorist’s nose! Remember? He was trim and well-groomed. His upper left part of his uniform held many ribbons of mpaigns and accomplishments. He stuck his hand out to shake. “I prefer hugs, but we’ll let this one go as you have an audience,” I thumbed at Airman Suggs, who was still ridged. “At ease.” I thought of something and this being a small world, it made sense. “Where does your family come from?” I hurried on, “I knew two families in Asheville, the Clubs, and the Suggs.” Then I chuckled, “Well actually they were one the family married into the other.” The Airman did relax a little, “Sylva, North Carolina.” I nodded with a grin, “About twenty-five to thirty miles north of Asheville. Sure, I know it.” I looked at the General and the others here now, “They have this place lled Kostas’. That makes the best damned barbeque!” Then I lowered my voice and admitted, “For a vinegar-based barbecue sauce and not in South Carolina with sweet mustard barbecue sauce. These Suggs and Clubs and Suggs live in Asheville, but maybe a branch of the family?” The Airman shrugged, “I’ll have to ask.” I grinned at him, “As you were.” Peter frowned, “What does that mean?” We walked over toward General Hammond’s desk more than a few feet away. It had to beuse of the large monitor screen the near a center table with a computer CPU and a much smaller monitor. “It’s a military command to return to what you were doing but stopped beuse we me in,” I said in a soft voice so Airman Suggs couldn’t hear. “He might be distantly related, but he doesn’t have the look of the ones in Asheville.” “The look? What are you talking about?” “He’s doesn’t look like a redneck and there no iron bars in front of them,” I explained using my hand to go over an invisible bar. “There were mostly petty crimes and were promoted through crime, as in Juvenile Detention to being tried and sentenced as adults. They weren’t that smart for anything complited and was never violent crimes, but it was theft.” I sighed, “Grandpa always said, if something’s missing, look in their yard first. Nine times out of ten, it was there. They were never violent.” I chuckled, “They even dabbled in r theft. I don’t they knew they were thieves.” “But they took things,” General stated. “What did they think it was?” “Borrowing,” I explained. “As in they had a need to rake the yard and grandpa had a very good rake. We weren’t using it, but they needed it. So, they borrowed it.” I shrugged with a chuckle, “They didn’t do that very often. Of course, they hadn’t asked to use it and would forget to put it back. There were other things that were theft. There was usually a reason for that, such as their child needed diapers. A need is met. A lot of shoplifting.” I looked at the other desk across the room that was empty. “Where’s General Burke?” Ed laughed a little, “He’s coming, but he had scheduled a meeting. He promises to make it quick.” Then he leaned into to share something confidentially. “I’m to keep you here if you try to leave.” “And you worried about me and Ted Dawe,” Peter grumbled, but the look in his eyes told me it in jest. “He never kissed me, David kissed you right in front of me, Mom, Olek…his own wife…” I explained to Stepan and Vesil how David felt about us first and the kiss told us how far he was coming. “We’d love to see your underground,” Peter said. I turned to Ed, “There aren’t many vehicles. How does a mother bring home the groceries?” “Ah, yes,” Ed nodded. “Some rather enterprising dependents wanted a job to make money.” He shrugged, “They use base vehicles to make home deliveries. Not everyone uses it, but it keeps them busy making deliveries as well as money. They’re working on something for the snow and ice.” He waved at some chairs and went to sit in his chair behind the desk. “How are things? You get back from a honeymoon, your brother marries Dr. Schneider…” He said telling he’d watched the broadst. Peter smiled, “It has been a busy month.” “Did you watch on your desktop or…what?” I asked. “On the big monitor,” He pointed at the big screen. “One hundred and thirty-two centimeters. David insisted and I know he’ll be watching his Monday Night Football here.” “That game has too many stops in Amerin Football,” Peter said and pointed at me. “He got me to watch Australian Rule Football. He loves it! Now, THAT’S a sport!” He wasn’t pushing us to say why we wanted to see him. I was just going to say it. “You have Nelson Carter and Penelope Baldwin in custody.” Ed nodded, “They are.” “He’s refused to speak with anyone from here,” I said. “They tell us he doesn’t have to, but recent events…we need to find where to go to stop the Consortium. A female pirate is trying to join them by kidnapping us.” Ed frowned. “Your brother told David and me. Yuri gave us more details when you got back.” Peter glanced at Stepan and Vasil, “Which is why we’re shadowed even in Makarovia.” “I thought of you and…” I hesitated, uneasy about how he’d take this, “you may know someone who n..pel him talk if necessary.” Ed smiled, “I see.” “Surely, you’ve used more extreme measures to make people talk,” Peter reasoned. “There’s, ” he pronounced it Makarovian, “Pentatol Natriyu.” I looked at Ed and he might have understood it. He nodded and said the name in English. Not like people in the United States did, the accented syllables were in different places. “Sodium Pentothal.” “I won’t lie.” I said, “If they strap him down and pull his fingernails out one at a time, I wouldn’t object.” Peter’s eyebrows rose at that, so I went on, “I don’t think anyone should die, I won’t hunt until they arm the animals, too and make it a real sport. We don’t need to hunt with a grocery store down the street. I’m no vegan, but I really didn’t re for that, either. We are what we are and scientists credit it for making us human. I heard someone say, “No!” Yes, they do. Look it up. There’s a protein in meat that after one and a half million years made you! “Normally, I would never condone violence, but the vermin that make up the Consortium have declared war on us. I will not be a prisoner in my own home! Both here and in Boston. You spoke of Carter’s rights, what about ours? This needs to stop. Now!” Ed smiled even more as he leaned forward on his desk and in a very, nonmilitary way leaned on his elbows. Very sual. He’d come a long way, too. He was NOT a stuffy Brit! We saw another enter the office. Turning, this rurally raised man me in quickly. He was a nice-looking man in his late forties who upon introduction told us he didn’t like gay men. Now, I felt safe lling him a friend. He tried so hard to change that he had changed. I was convinced General David Burke had changed. His greeting was more personal. There were no worries about anyone else seeing him hug both Peter and me. We weren’t strangers anymore. We weren’t in love, but maybe we were a little. Who red? He was happily married to his wife Helen, and I was happily married. We were good! “It’s good to see you two!” David stated. “You had a good time!” That utterance had no question mark at the end as it was a statement of fact he knew. “Everywhere you went had news reports. Italy, Montenegro…all of them!” We introduced Stepan and Vesil to the Generals. It had been rude not to with Ed. You know the agents are more than just accessories. David went to his desk and got one of the chairs in front of his desk, brought it over, and sat with us. We gave David the Readers’ Digest version of what we needed to have occur. Ed nodded, “My government doesn’t approve of torture…” David muttered, “They tried to kidnap them to get ransom!” Ed sighed he was so put upon, “David, you persist to not let me complete or conclude a comment is why pozcu escort you are often incorrect. Weren’t you taught the one mouth and two ears policy growing up?” David wasn’t at all bothered, “Sure, listen twice as much as I speak, but do you know how much I hear? No. Maybe that’s what I do.” They really were good friends and got along just fine. They were almost polar opposites. David joked and most times didn’t worry about his “military bearing.” It was also why they were good friends to Peter and I. Ed worried about his image with the men and women. David didn’t re. He followed regulations. Both were leaders and had a fuse. David could terrify anyone under his control, which was everyone except Ed. Ed practilly transformed when his fuse set his anger loose. He earned the name General One Punch. Ed was also David’s straight man, but David took being the straight man, too. Ed had a sharp wit and sense of humor. I paused as I wondered if that was a prerequisite to come here. Almost everyone here was that way that we got along with. Not now, Bunny! I’m too busy to chase you right now. The main thing was keeping a sense of humor. That was why Helga’s assistant Georg didn’t stay on the job here. He had accompanied her to dinner the first night Peter and I met her. The one that thought much of the Holoust was a lie. Especially with the Gay Holoust. They were all criminals his father had told him. Ed nodded a grudging nod. He looked at David and asked him, “What do you think if I say the name, Jon Fleming?” David now went into deep thought, “Jon Fleming.” He repeated, “It’s ringing a bell, but…” He glanced up moving slightly into The Thinker-like position. The French bronze statue? The naked man whose chin is resting on his right fist propped up on his leg in deep thought since 1904. He looked up at Ed holding his hand in a halt position and said, “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me!” How could anyone dislike David? Peter leaned toward me, “Ringing a bell?” He whispered. “Who’s ringing what bell?” I held Peter there, “The name rang a bell of familiarity for him, but he hasn’t found the memory yet. The bell means he’s heard it before and it’s in there and he should be able to find it.” “Oh! I know!!” David’s face lit up as he found the memory. “He’s a negotiator for MI6!” Peter shook his head in shock, “I thought there wasn’t a real MI6!? That it was all James Bond and all that!” “It is?” Ed asked with a grin. “The Secret Intelligence Service exists.” He nodded his head. “MI6 goes to other countries to investigate problems and report back. MI5 are the men and women who do it in the United Kingdom to stop the other countries from doing it in our home.” David chuckled, “And get this! He did such a good job where he was, the SIS invited him to join them!” “Which was where?” Peter asked. “Scotland Yard.” Ed grinned. Peter’s head went more than the usual single inch or two this time, “No!” Ed was laughing more now, “Yes!” “Would he work for us?” I asked. Ed’s grudging nod beme another long grudging nod. “If he’s not on a se now. Scotland Yard did work for private businesses and individuals.” He smiled at a memory, “He has negotiated many hostage situations and got some pretty tight-lipped people to be more forthcoming.” “Is he unethil or something?” I asked. “I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, he never hits anyone or even raises his voice much.” “Then how does he…do it?” I asked. “He uses his voice,” Ed replied. “He has this mellow tone that has a strong hypnotic effect on people.” He laughed, “Even the men there just to, as an observer or stand guard, say they surrendered control to him.” I frowned, “I thought Great Britain was invested into finding this Consortium.” “We are!” Ed stated. Peter’s eyebrows knitted together, “If he could do that, why isn’t he?” He leaned closer to Ed. “I don’t mean for this to be taken as a threat, but it will sound like one. Those men n’t understand they n’t always get anything they want.” He held up a finger as I did to make a point. “If just one person is taken from here and held to get the ransom, the uranium flow and export will be threatened and that threatens your share,” he turned, “and yours.” “I’m sure His Majesty and our Prime Minister have a team set up to do the investigation.” Ed tried to be reassuring. “Just like them,” Burke jutted his head in Ed’s direction, “I’ll wager good money the FBI, CIA, and NSA…or what other groups of our federal agents work for is working on it now.” “Olek would have told us about it if he knew,” I stated the obvious. Ed’s frown grew, “I n NOT understand that.” He picked up his phone and lled…this was weird. On Airman Suggs’ desk rang and he answered. Airman Suggs had probably heard Edmond Hammond if he simply spoke louder. “Please ll Arthur Wells. He’s the Director of the Secret Intelligence Services. The number should be in our database.” Peter grinned, “Do you ll 911 for emergencies?” “No,” Ed answered. “Ours is 999.” His attention was diverted by a voice we heard softly behind us. “I don’t re if he is in the loo. Have them page him, text, or whatever.” Then his words took on an edge, “If he doesn’t, I know the Prime Minister, and His Majesty will want to hear me.” He was nodding and looked at Airman Suggs replied which was a chuckle. Ed dipped his head a little, “I n speak louder, but after a while, shouting just hurts my throat.” He pointed at the phone, “Arthur Wells.” He sighed. “Now, that man is the stuffy Brit and he n be the biggest ass.” Ed shrugged, “But has a good success rate and will watch the budget.” “Maybe he’s doing something right?” Peter suggested with a shrug. “Maybe,” Ed nodded. “Yuri would have questioned that,” I said. “Who just me from two weeks off,” Peter finished with a nod. “Perhaps he simply ught up with things and hasn’t gotten to them. You and I know he’s very thorough.” “He is!” I agreed, “He mentioned this very problem at breakfast. He would keep us up to date.” Then we heard Airman Sugg as his volume when up. “…and General Hammond is a busy man. I have the numbers for the Prime Minister on Downing Street and for Buckingham Palace.” Airman Suggs was vigorously nodding at what he was hearing. Why do we do things knowing the other person couldn’t see? “I’ll pass that along.” He held his right hand up, fingers spread, and lowered it; raised his left, lowered it, and held his right up again. Fifteen minutes. That was when the door opened as a female Airman in her twenties me in with a strap held loosely in her hand. The familiar small sound of metal against metal told me what was there before I could see. Then the breathing we could hear as she me around Airman Suggs’ desk. It was an English Bulldog! He greeted Airman Suggs and got a ruffled pat. The verbal greeting was too low to hear and understand. What little bitty tail he had was wagging! He was making his rounds. He knew he’d smelled new people here and saw us and trotted over to us. He got to David first, gave him a sniff that his tail resumed wagging a little. “I know you.” You could practilly hear him say that! Then he me to me, and the tail went faster. I never understood before when someone told me “he’s so ugly he’s cute.” I like dogs! He wasn’t ugly. He had a big personality, but I was a beagle person. I loved a few of them. His breathing difficulty was clear as the nose that wasn’t that much on the dog’s face. Add the excitement of new people and you were going to hear it. Ed smiled as the dog greeted every new person and went to do it again. Ed chuckled and said, “I introduce to you…Winston Churchill.” The dog barked once to say, “Hi, that’s my name.” I reached down as Ed was talking and gave the dog a rub and pat. He was all dense muscle under the brown and white fur and about fifty pounds. “Of course, he is!” I laughed. “I should have recognized him.” I looked at Winston Churchill and said to him, “You look just like your photographs!” Ed chuckled again, “We just ll him Churchill.” Churchill barked his confirmation again. He was a very happy dog! I believe you have to love dogs to ll yourself British. Ed returned the conversation to what we were speaking about. “We will endeavor to get to the bottom of this,” Ed said. “Ed,” David began as he shook his head. “Couldn’t you just say, we’ll find out or something like that?” “Yes, I could,” and Ed dropped the reply with no further comment about it. “The pirate was female?” We spent the next few minutes going over what happened. Her attempts and failures, including the pirates that me to the Big Bar while in Athens and Cosmo’s getting stabbed. I know it had to be Ed who made that rule. He does not like a lot of noise! He might be worse than Grandma’s gal-pal Carla Bowers. My landlord, Ms. No noise? I heard a soft ring of a phone from Airman Suggs’ desk. It really was! Not the sharp piercing ring that would jar your attention like most phones. I hate that. And alarm clocks. I wonder if any lls were missed beuse of that. Airman Suggs was still here, and he and the Generals had a working relationship with them and their language had evolved. Airman Suggs motioned at the phone and pointed to Ed. This was a little funny when the phone on the General’s desk rang softly, but Ed didn’t answer it at first. I smiled at Ed’s lack of action and shook my head, “So, which grade will you be in the fall? Ninth grade or tenth?” Peter looked at me in shock. Even Stepan and Vesil were looking uncertain. David just laughed. Ed’s eyes only looked up at me as he laughed quietly. He wasn’t offended. “Oh, come on! No one teases Ed?” I said, but there was no doubt in my voice whether he took it well or not. “Aw, poor lonely Ed!” We had a history, and I knew he was fine. David nodded, “You know I do.” Ed chuckled, “It was what he didn’t say that bothered me. He was busy? If it was a meeting that would have been said.” He picked up the phone at the end of the fourth ring. “Thank you for taking a moment from your busy schedule to speak with me.” Okay, you have to listen as two proper English Gentlemen were being snippy. You need to see their House of Parliament. Or was it the House Lords? Both? Whatever, it was a great show! Really. I wondered how they got anything done. I got his irritation by Ed’s tone. “Please update me on the progress of any task force dealing with this Consortium. Have you managed to make any progress with Nelson Carter or Penelope Baldwin?” Something was being said, but Ed interrupted him. “One moment, please.” He looked at his computer monitor and the display on the telephone. “I prefer to look a man in his eyes when they speak with me. I know you’re in your office. Activate your video conference on your computer.” Ed did a bit more and the large monitor in the center of the room revealed…this man was a “proper” English Gentleman. About the same age as General Hammond. His black hair around his ears and at his temples was a whitish silver. At the top of his head, the hair was receding. He was perfection in his appearance. He knew so. Dressed in a blindingly white shirt with a red tie perfectly tied in Double Windsor and perfectly centered with his collar. I wondered how he managed that! Tie pins don’t always work and… How’d you get in here? Go rabbit! Shoo! Ed got up and walked to the center to be seen. “You were telling me there was a complition.” He waved at Peter and me. “I introduce you to His Highness Prince Petro Ivanov and His Highness Prince Eric Ivanov.” He turned to us. “Gentlemen, this is Arthur Wells, Director of the Secret Intelligence Service.” Peter smiled, “There’s a complition? What complition?” Mr. Wells wasn’t prepared for this. If looks harmed people, General Hammond would be writhing on the floor. It was all very…subtle. “Perhaps complition is not the correct word, Your Highness.” He leaned forward on his desk, “There have been other ses that had priority…” “What!?” I blurted standing up and coming beside Ed. “You are aware that just this past October armed gunmen stormed our home in Boston threatening everyone’s life there including Queen Alla and His Majesty King Olek. Prince Petro and I had plans for a honeymoon we had to change when it was leaked where we were going,” I watched as Mr. Wells was nodding, but I wasn’t done. “That pirate tried to get us twice. The first was just west of Sicily and then in Athens where one of our agents and friend nearly died! We’ll be lucky if we n get him to learn to walk again!” Mr. Wells nodded again. “I understand that, but the Conservative and Unionist Party, Labour Party, and the Liberal Party with some others objected to hardly any more than housing and feeding them. The other problem is that this is a matter for Makarovia to handle.” “Fine!” I said, “Release them to us and we’ll take re of it. This affects many different countries, not just Makarovia.” I waved at General Hammond. “Why are they here? They are your military. If it were Prince George, Princess Charlotte, or Prince Louis you would have to beuse they are British.” I didn’t know where the mera was, but I walked a little closer to Mr. Wells. “Try this one on for size. If anything happens to any of us, your supply of uranium stops.” I waved at Stepan and Vesil. “We have Security Agents that could do it. I have NO doubt about that. If we could, we would, but you hold two people that need to answer some questions whether or not they want to.” Peter stood and me over to me. “There has to be someone that n do it. What about this Jon Fleming? I’m told he has a non-threatening way of getting to the truth.” Mr. Wells sighed with a nod, “Yes, he n do it when he gets back. He’s on assignment.” “But he’s coming back,” I said hopefully. “When the job is done,” Mr. Wells said. “You know how he does it?” “Hypnosis.” I answered. Mr. Wells nodded, “He n hypnotize anyone using his voice, his voice and a watch, or crystal or even a pen. He n even do it without the person knowing they were being hypnotized. When he uses it, he n get people to tell him the truth and they never know they did. Even the agents from other countries who are trained NOT to talk will surrender. It takes more time with just his voice, but it works.” “We’ll pay for his time,” Peter said. “No,” Mr. Wells smiled sadly. “This not just a business partnership, we’re allies, and friends. Any debt is being paid by what we’re getting to help you.” He grimaced, “I’m no politician. I never wanted to be. If anyone asks, I tell them about the threat to the supply. It will get done. I’ll ll back.” “Call the palace and ask for Yuri,” I smiled. “He’s the Head of Security.” Mr. Wells picked up a phone as he nodded, “Yes, I’ve spoken to him a few times. Is there anything else?” I shook my head, “Not right now.” At first I wasn’t sure how our conversation would go, but it turned out nicely. “Belated congratulations, Your Highness,” Mr. Wells smiled. “We’ll discuss more later.” Turning to Ed, I frowned, “He was nice!” Ed nodded and raised a finger, “This time. You’d never guess he was a Sllie.” “A what?” Peter asked. “Why would we know he was…whatever you said?” I asked. “His accent!” Ed stated wondering why I didn’t notice. “He’s from Liverpool!” “Everyone I know from England sound funny to me,” I said. “What’s wrong with the one he has?” He shrugged, “Nothing, but he should sound like one of the Beatles.” “Where did you grow up?” “Birmingham.” “Okay,” I shrugged. “So?” He sighed and patted me on the shoulder, “I forgive you.” “So,” Peter said. “Mr. Fleming is doing 007 stuff…does that mean Mr. Wells is M?”” Ed shrugged, “Yes, it does.” “I preferred Dame Judi Dench,” I said. “She was my favorite M.” Churchill was now getting Stepan’s and Vasil’s attention as they both petted him. Churchill was eating it up. “How long has he been here?” I asked about Churchill. “Since the end of April,” Ed said. “So, you’ve never had him in the house for weeks or months?” Peter said more as a statement than a question. Ed nodded his head, “Oh yes, I have. Not here, but in Iceland, Northern Canada…they both had snow and ice,” he chuckled, “these mountains around us here just seem to hold those clouds over Makarovia. We’re working hard to finish the underground as soon as possible. Skoal will have a Dog Park. For now, there is a path to take with your dog. It is sort of a grated metal covered trench. That works for urine, but you still scoop the poop.” “And why didn’t you do that in Stryia?” I asked mockingly irritated. “We weren’t asked to!” David said as he enjoyed our conversation. He shrugged, “To be honest, I never see dogs or ts here. We didn’t know you needed one.” He grinned. “Helen has a Siamese escort bayan t.” I held my hand out toward the Generals, but looked at Peter, “See!? Pets are normal.” Peter nodded with a chuckle, “Yes, I see that, but in the past, we were busy getting prepared for the winter so we wouldn’t starve to death or freeze to death. We didn’t take the time for anything else.” I slipped an arm around Peter, “Surviving was more important. I know.” I looked at David, “The United States has been generous with us. There was the large townhouse at first and then the house in Boston. They are looking, too, aren’t they?” David nodded, “Oh, you bet. We even have two agencies working together. The Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.” My eyebrows rose when I heard that, “The CIA and NSA are working together.” I said to be sure I got that right. “Maybe it’s all television, but I didn’t think they liked each other. Why those two?” “Beuse the CIA has the trained agents and the NSA has cutting edge technology,” David said simply. Ed nodded, “The United Kingdom is helping, but the crime they were arrested for was committed by three British citizens and other countries against predominately Makarovians on Amerin soil,” Ed said. “And the house in Boston is in question. Was it Amerin soil? It isn’t officially an embassy but used like one.” “And,” David said reluctantly, admitting. “No one country wants to be stuck with the check at the end of the meal. We hope the UK will take it and find out, the UK hopes we will.” “There was a crime committed! What bill?” Peter asked. “We’re simply asking for Jon Fleming to question them.” Ed nodded, “To give you names of people that you will want to find, get those people, build a legal se when arresting them.” “You’re talking about a very rich group of people,” David added. “They’re good at hiding and will be hard to find. There are a lot of places on Earth to hide. Travel expenses, extraction expenses…” “It’s war!” I said in disbelief that they were worried about money. “Of course, they are expensive!” “Makarovia will help with the expenses,” Peter said. “Even with manpower!” I added. “I don’t know anyone more qualified to help than Yuri.” “There are others just as qualified,” Peter said, “Such as Rolph and Mikell.” “I’ve never known the United States or the United Kingdom to refuse anything beuse it’s too expensive,” I scowled. “You’re both doing what’s needed now! Collaborating! I’d like it if your two superpowers could do the same thing, collaborate!” Peter’s eyes grew, “Wait a minute!” He pointed at the screen we’d watched but didn’t take his eyes off Ed. “You said he was the Budget Man. Right?” “I did,” Ed confirmed, “and he is.” I saw the corners of his mouth twitch but remain where they were. His eyes took on the amusement he felt. “Did he hold back further investigating beuse it kept them stricter to the budget!?” Ed didn’t really reply. Peter nodded, “Yes, that makes sense.” He saw the look I gave him that asked how? “Carter and Baldwin are in custody. They aren’t going anywhere beuse of what they did. The attempts for us wasn’t done BY the Consortium but FOR the Consortium.” Peter shrugged, “He thought he had time.” I looked at Ed, “Would he do that!? Did he do that?” Ed looked away, but said, “It’s improper to speak badly about someone that isn’t here to defend the…” “I don’t give a damn about that!” I interrupted as I shouted. I wasn’t mad at General Hammond, but this whole situation. “I told you he n be an ass,” Ed said sually. Mr. Wells’ place in my estimation was considerably lower now. I got on the phone and lled Yuri and told him what we found out. I also informed him about what General Hammond had said about Arthur Wells. Yuri wasn’t surprised. He probably suspected and my telling him was just a confirmation of his suspicions. I felt two paws on my leg at the knee. Looking down, I saw Churchill’s happy face looking up at me. The nub of a tail waggled. “Winston Churchill!” Ed said lmly but in a parental fashion of scolding, “You know better than that.” Churchill dropped to the floor, but his happiness and enthusiasm were still there. “No jumping up on people,” Ed admonished doing the shake of his finger at Churchill. Churchill understood he did something he wasn’t supposed to beuse he stopped doing it. The expression stayed the same on the seemingly smushed in face. “Churchill is your dog. For what you discipline and how isn’t my business,” I said and lowered down to sit on the floor. “He’s a very happy and contented dog. That says a lot about you. He just wanted my attention, so I will come down to him.” Now Churchill was even happier to have someone down on his level. He was sniffing, licking, and coming into my lap. “I love dogs!” I pulled Churchill’s head to look at me. “You’re the first Bulldog I’ve gotten to know. However, and I’m sorry, but I’m a little beagle fan.” My confession didn’t bother Churchill one bit. The snorting sound as he breathed just got louder. “How old is he?” “He just turned six last May.” Churchill played an important role here. He kept things relaxed, reduced stress levels, eases depression, and pets will even help with your general health and quality of life. There is documentation everywhere about this. My problem had been that in the recent past I had little time at home and that would be unfair to the dog. Churchill was a sturdy dog. Solid. I’ve petted a lot of dogs but their soft fur covered muscle, but when petting Churchill there was practilly no give. Churchill’s muscles were dense and thick. If you’ve ever slapped a slab of raw meat, that’s what he was bred for. That firm muscle was what was under Churchill’s fur and skin, but he was still a dog. There was a noticeable difference between Churchill and other dogs. He was excited but wasn’t running in circles around me or barking. The one biggest characteristic was, he was lm. As I understood it, that was true across the entire breed. They were lm little tanks. “Could we see your underground?” Peter asked. “Absolutely,” David answered. How n I be jealous of someone else’s underground? I was jealous when we got down there. It was understandable as the people that were making the underground lived just above. Here, the tunnels were wide with thinner tunnels coming off the main one. There were street signs! Such as the one we approached. There were three spellings. The top spelling used the Cyrillic letters Первая авеню which not many but someone from this part of the world would be able to recognize; the English letters below them read Pershyy Prospket so people would learn to pronounce those words in Makarovian and then in English said “First Avenue” and it was all brightly lit. I was looking at a street underground. Those rows of townhouses were overhead. The tunnels from this tunnel were to the door down here to people’s homes. As of now, Skoal was bigger than Stryia. There was this drone as many conversations were happening down here mixing with Muzak like melodies you get in some elevators or offices. “It’s an underground suburb!” I marveled. Now, just like in Stryia, there wasn’t a lot of traffic by people down here. The weather was nice out. “This is great, but this will be going on for miles! How do people get to where they want to go?” David chuckled, “We’re working on that. A people-mover is being considered…” “A what?” Peter asked. “You know,” David insisted. “Just like an eslator, but no steps. A sidewalk that moves.” “They are used a lot at airports and popular venues,” I said. “You saw and used them twice. When we flew commercial to Asheville the first time, we used them in Atlanta going from Concourse A to C.” Peter remembered nodding, “Oh, yes! I remember that! If you walk while on it, it almost seems as if you’re running!” I grinned and leaned toward David and Ed, “He hardly left his room and has only been in a few airports.” They knew. I’d be safe saying everyone in the world knew that visited the Ivanov’s Family page. Peter had not been happy about the subject in his history. I really had a tough time getting him to release a photo of his face when he had the horrible acne. Even I hated to see it. Not beuse it hurt me, but it hurt Peter and that hurt me. It was a really dark time for Peter. A dede and a half-length of time that began when teenagers reached that point in life to become adults and dealing changes in their body and compulsions and drives you n’t run from and n’t stop. You know no one here gave him problems about being homosexual. You n take that one mental stressor away about that. The picture wasn’t touched up or changed and it showed how bad it was even on his arms, legs, back, and chest, taken at the dermatology clinic in Boston. Only I had been allowed to see the ones on his ass. His acne was a rare, but treatable form of what many get as teenagers. Remember, there were not a lot of zits or blackheads. It was subcutaneous cystic acne all across his face in little red splotches, which were sometimes very painful under his skin but didn’t really look like what you think is acne. It looked like a bad, bad se of measles. Yes, it was pretty horrible and not an easy disease. He was put on medition both by pills, soap, and topil ointments control the oil and bacteria to and it finally went away. He’d never go back to that, but his self-esteem got severely abused and was still very sensitive. I got him to put a new picture of himself up beside it. The medil school had taken some very brightly lit areas on his face, arms, and chest to show clearly how bad it was. Part of the reason was to clearly show other students at the school what this acne looked like. Even the attending physician and professor said they had never encountered acne this severe. That was praised up and down and even heralded as a miracle just as if he had been cured of Leprosy in the Bible. I was determined not to let Peter go back there. We included the name and real number on the webpage. It was a place of learning. Men and women learned how to be a dermatologist. The medil school was being bombarded with lls to find out if they could be the next miracle. Peter’s before and after pictures said volumes! Better than the ones you see on television. Peter had gone around practilly saying, “Unclean! Unclean!” No one asked him to do that. I was impressed underground and about Churchill. Churchill walked on a leash that Ed had attached to the collar but held loosely. He heeled! No pulling or dragging him to keep up. No one told him to. His speed was based on Ed’s pace. He also walked over a wide metal plate on the floor that looked like a cheese grater with a lot of holes, but none were big enough for a girl in those really high heels…stilettos, I think. Didn’t accidentally go in and ruin her day, week. Whatever. There was also the light sound of water going down a drain. The slight rise and fall of the floor, which was hardly noticeable, made sense. It flushed away dog urine! Down here there were more dogs and I knew more was up above ground. Back to Winston Churchill. He was well trained. As we got a few streets over, it was more densely trafficked by people. Everybody knew who we were. It was a no-salute zone down here. I mean everybody knew Churchill, men, women, and children all knew Winston Churchill…by name! We, the humans, were acknowledged with polite “Gentlemen, General, and Your Highness.” However, the dog got the hearty and enthusiastic, “Churchill!” Everybody knew and loved Churchill. He was the base mascot! Was he elected or voted in as one? Hell, no! He just was! I chuckled, “At least these people have their priorities straight.” Again, I was impressed! He remained where he was and remained lm. His shoulder next Ed’s leg. Churchill was still very happy where he was. He was by his daddy, who he loved! There were signs post overhead with arrows pointing the Base Exchange and Commissary. Businesses had small signs up. A billboard was too big and a small sign could be missed. Their tunnels had a look and style that said “west” to me. Makarovia and her villages and towns developed BEFORE rapid transit. The configuration of housing was limited. Marketplaces and places to get things needed were limited. A man who worked at the palace needed to live nearby. The birth of the train was good, but late getting to Makarovia. He might be a servant or a soldier. Miners need to live close to the mines. Not anymore and not in Skoal. A woman walking with two children, the oldest a girl about twelve and a boy about eight. She was walking next to a teenage male that wore a name badge who was pushing a very large…rt? In the South, we lled them buggies. Wagon in the North. It was bigger than a shopping rt. They were going home. The woman and children lived nearby, and the supplies would keep coming even with the snow and ice. The function was more important than beauty. The tunnels in Stryia were prettier. There seemed to be more tunnels in Skoal. They had to. There were a lot more people here. It was comfortable down here and the air circulated with fans and vents that kept the air moving. These tunnels weren’t anywhere near finished, but neither were the tunnels in Stryia. There was a loud clang and then the sound of a hydraulic drill or something. We were being led somewhere. We ended up coming to a thick curtain-like cloth that hung. Whatever the noise was, it me from behind it. Ed bowed slightly and motioned us through ahead of him. It happens. Not very often, but it does happen. I was speechless. A train! Not one of the older ones with the smokestack I played with as a child; it looked alien. Yes, as in from another world, alien. It had a rounded frontend where I knew had the engine. It was vibrantly red. Women and some gay men know the differences. Fire engine red wasn’t right. It was bright red! Maybe just a tad bit darker. At the moment there was only the engine/control room and one passenger r. It looked sleek. There were men and women moving around the train and inside. It was on some tracks that didn’t go anywhere or come from anywhere. The tracks above ground were used. My mouth dropped open as I stared. Finally, I looked at Ed, but a coherent question wasn’t coming out. “Wha…how…” David was nodding with grand smile on his face, “Yeah, she’s a beaut, ain’t she?” He asked the question and didn’t need an answer. It was a rhetoril question. “Our plan is to have this first portion done by Thanksgiving.” David chuckled, “Your Thanksgiving and ours.” “We want the transport from Stryia and Skoal to be up and running.” Ed smiled. “It is all-electric and she is pable of great velocities of one hundred and fifty kilometers an hour. That makes a commute between the two cities about five to ten minutes long.” I hate the metric system. About one hundred kilometers or fifty miles in that short time!? Now, I had a problem. Was the uranium bringing in that amount of money? Was I wrong to worry about this? I didn’t know how much the uranium was bringing in. This was just the beginning. In my research, it went from eight dollars to thirty dollars a pound! Depending on the grade of the uranium that increased its value. We were told the ore here was a very high grade and there were tons of it. Tons! See the S? I don’t mean a couple, but many tons stretching for many miles. Other than accidents such as the one in the USSR and Japan. There were no big disasters. Chernobyl had a meltdown. Chernobyl was in Ukraine as part of the USSR and not far away. One hundred miles away maybe. That was in 1986. Could it happen here? Sure. Will it? We will do whatever it takes to prevent that. Demand was increasing beuse it is environmentally friendly and reduced their rbon footprint. One pound of ore could generate power equivalent to three million pounds of coal. That’s a big difference! I didn’t even have to do the math to understand that! I understood Olek and what he was doing. He wanted all these changes done yesterday. It was exciting. But the new plane and this train, I knew were very expensive. The train was being assembled down here. “She’s a Rolls-Royce,” David bounced happily once. Any fly in the air would think I was open for business with my mouth constantly as I gaped. “That’s not exactly a CAR!” Peter pointed out. “No, but they make damned fine engines,” I said without taking my eyes off this train. I turned to the Generals. “I know they make engines for planes for thrust. I had no idea they made for railroads.” I looked back at the train, “And electric!?” Ed chuckled, “Yes, they had to.” He shrugged, “There was talk that they might have to layoff some employees They teamed up with General Electric and had success building the 787…” He looked at Peter, “That’s a plane if you didn’t know.” Then back to his original topic. “Success told them to try this! But it is more accurate to say GE/Rolls-Royce.” David shook his head, “And reduce the impact? No, I couldn’t. You saw it!”

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