With yards manned, and wreathed in smoke, the flagship, HMS Cornwell1, fired a Royal Salute as the St Brendan the Navigator approached her berth. The flagship had used some of her main battery rifles to fire the salute. St Brendan, with only one small six pound saluting rifle, made far less smoke; but she maintained her air of stately dignity as she approached the dock without assistance from the tug standing by. Heaving lines arched toward the quay where they were easily grabbed by the line handlers who started hauling the mooring hawsers over. St Brendan’s yards were also manned and she had answered the flagship’s Royal Salute as she passed the breakwater. The St Brendan was not under sail; her compound steam engine was doing its duty smoothly and quietly with only the faintest wisp of a “light haze” showing from her small funnel.
There was a band on the quay and there had been a stand erected for the King to use as she docked. The King, however, was down on the actual dock watching all of the proceedings and striving not to smile too affectionately at all the crewmen and midshipmen manning the side and the yards. Cameron relaxed on the top railing of the stand. Christian stayed close to the King, but kept well out of the way of the docking procedures.
When the first hawsers were secured to the dock bollards, the St Brendan shifted her colors, indicating that she was no longer underway, and her men began to descend from the yards. This was done to the beat of a slow march obligingly provided by the band on the dock. The men started down from the highest yard until all were down.2 It was quite ceremonial, nothing remotely comparable to the speed they would have displayed if they had been underway and were in a hurry to take in or let out the sails, or repair some rigging. No sliding either as they all wore their ‘number one’ dress uniforms.
When the gangways touched shore, the midshipmen, as well as representatives of the crew, assembled on the dock for the medal ceremony. The King’s appearance was a surprise for many; the sailors had not known that there was to be a presentation. The largest contingent was the midshipmen; but the regular sailors were present in the port and starboard watches. The engineers, the specialists and warrant and the petty officers were all represented.
Neither the midshipmen nor the crew had anything remotely resembling experience when it came to close order drill. So, in an effort not to appear disorganized, the crewmen and the midshipmen were rushed into formation with a great deal of shouting and gesticulating from the petty officers. It was a sort of boiling shambles that finally quieted into discrete, neatly aligned groups of sailors and midshipmen. Organized, however, could never be a description of the process.
The Captain came forward and saluted the King, “Your Majesty, I beg to report the crew assembled for your inspection.”
“Thank you, have the lads brought forward please.”
The Captain saluted again, turned and nodded to the Chief Boatswain who ushered two Midshipmen and one Boy First Class into a line before the King.
As it happened, Boy First Class John Tavers, known to his chums and shipmates as ‘Chipper’ was on the right of their impromptu line, so he was the one first approached by the King.
“So, my friend,” the King smiled touching Chipper lightly on his left arm. “How long have you been in the Navy?”
“Sir. Been three year now sir!”
There was a momentary stillness which the Chief Boatswain, standing beside Chipper, used to elbow Chipper while hissing at him.
“Sir! I mean yer Highness, sir!”
The King smiled, “You’re a credit to yourself, and the Navy, and it gives me great pleasure to award you the Soldiers and Sailors Medal for your exemplary performance of duty in the midst of a storm.” He pinned the medal to Chippers jumper. “It is a great thing to save a life.
“So you joined as a Sideboy. How old were you then?”
“Sir, was twelve just. Sir!”
The King turned to the Captain, “I think young Tavers here is due for promotion. Make him Able Seaman with date of rank from the date of the rescue. He’ll have some nice back pay, of course.” The King smiled again at Chipper.
“Thank you yer Highness,” Chipper gulped out. The Chief hissed and elbowed him again.
“I mean yer Majesty, sir!”
The King’s smile broadened, “I know you do.”
The King moved on to face Midshipmen St George Kilverstone Davids who was at rigid attention.
“So Midshipman Davids, why did you apply to the academy?”
“Your Majesty,” Stoney replied with his candescent grin. “I want to be your admiral one day, Your Majesty, sir!”
“Well I see no reason why that might not happen. You’ve got initiative and guts and those are important. It gives me great pleasure to award you the Soldiers and Sailors Medal today. You did very well in that storm. I hope we’ll be hearing more from you in the coming days. The Prince Ashmore asked me to give you his best.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“Midshipman DeLucca. How is the Colonel your father doing these days.”
“Prime, Your Majesty, just prime.”
“Well it’s a great pleasure to award you the Soldiers and Sailors Medal today. You’ve made everyone proud. I just wonder how you managed to avoid the army. How did the Colonel allow that.”
“Well it was a close run thing, Your Majesty. But the Colonel loves me, plus I got three younger brothers so I’m thinking the army will be okay, Your Majesty.”
The three recipients were then released back into ranks. The King inspected the assembled sailors. Mounting the podium, he made a brief welcoming speech, and then released them. Smiling broadly, “Enjoy your leave.”
They gave him three cheers in the traditional manner.
An hour or so later, Lt Byng, with his arm now supported by a light sling, approached the three boys as they stood on the quay awaiting their ride. Chipper, who had a great deal of accrued leave time, had been invited to spend some time with Ted and some time with Stoney and he’d agreed with enthusiasm. He’d even spend a few days at home, though there was not much to do there except visit his folks.
“Two things, lads,” Lt Byng began. “First. Thanks, I owe you my life, with only one flipper, and half dazed like I was, I’d of been a goner if the ocean got me. Thanks.”
The boys, embarrassed by being thanked and having that thanks come from an officer, looked down and around and muttered those meaningless “it was nuthin’…only our duty…anyone would a done it” sorts of things.
“Well it was a damn big something to me, I’ve only got the one life, don’t you know,” Lt Byng assured them, with a huge smile. “I’ll never forget it either. But let me do you one tiny little favor. Boats told me that no one told you how to talk to the King. Is that right?”
“Yessir,” Stoney spoke for the three of them.
“So, okay, here’s how it’s done. If the King speaks to you, you answer him and you say ‘Your Majesty’. After that, though, you only call him ‘Sir’. I’m thinking that you lads will be seeing rather more of the King, than less, so you can’t go ‘Your Majestying’ him to death if you’re answering a complicated question, or making a long report. Just the one ‘Your Majesty’ per day will do. I was a naval aide-de-camp for two years so I know just a little bit about it. And I and you can take this to the bank: I will never steer you wrong.
“Now, just right now, there is no Queen. But if there were, the same rule applies, only you call her ‘Ma’am,’ not ‘Sir,’ obviously. And you can take this to the bank, too. There will be a Queen, and probably princes and princesses too, but you can figure them out in time now that you know the basics.”
“Thank you, sir,” Stoney again spoke for all of them and the three boys saluted the lieutenant snappily.
And then Copenhagen snap-flashed into presence on the quay, and it was time to go on leave.
Expectant looked calmly around. She was perched on Sorcha’s shoulder and was in her usual guise as a stork. Together they watched the Dodger and Tamara drive off in the phaeton. They would be honeymooning at an inn in the Lake District.
Catriona was a lovely bay Clydesdale and was far more horse than the rather light phaeton required. But she was also the Dodger’s particular pal. Just a filly when the Dodger was sentenced to work in the stable, she had been with him through his transformation from street punk to responsible and talented teamster. The Dodger had a way of talking to horses that they appeared to understand and appreciate. Indeed, more than one human who had been with him when he was driving had complained that his conversation was directed almost exclusively to his horses.
Tamara was very pleased. She enjoyed listening to the Dodger talk, even if his conversation was directed at the horses and made little sense to her.
Tamara and the Dodger had hit it off from the first kiss. She had moved into his cottage by the mews shortly after that first kiss and she had brought a sense of order and function to their residence. The Dodger had basically used the kitchen, the sitting room, and one bedroom. He was a casual housekeeper, putting it kindly, and an indifferent cook who could make tea, but otherwise preferred to eat with the regular crew of the stable, sometimes at the nearby pub. Tamara enjoyed cooking and she had put a few pounds on the Dodger which gave him an enhanced air of responsibility and authority.
Tamara was also delighted to discover that the Dodger received a handsome stipend for his services and he had used very little of it. She upgraded the kitchen and the bathroom, bought a sewing machine and continued in business as she managed the Dodgers household. She opened a bank account.
Expectant and Sorcha had been very pleased with the wedding ceremony. There had been a great number of guests and it was apparent the Dodger was well thought of. Claude had given Tamara away, and Ralph Cyffylog had been the Dodger’s best man. Otherwise, while the promises were those of Earth Prime, the ceremony had been adapted somewhat to seem more formal and ritualistic than the norm. This was done entirely to please Tamara.
The King had sent a sterling tea service as a gift. Arion had attended and given them a set of parlor lamps that would have done Tiffany’s proud. There were a host of other gifts, some of them practical.
Indeed, Sorcha, Expectant, and Tamara were eminently satisfied. Plus, Tamara was pregnant.
Colin and Justin were inspecting the new zeppelin hangar. It was recently completed and the first of the new zeppelins was already taking shape within. This was a very casual inspection and the King and his Earl Martial were holding hands.
Justin was quietly admiring his lover’s beauty while Colin was going on about the zeppelin which was to be named HMS Eckener in honor of a great airship captain, explorer, and pioneer.
“We’re using a German naval design as a test bed. This will make it easy for us to make modifications, and stuff, like to the engines.”
Justin smiled, “That’s nice.”
“We’re using helium, of course, and we’re putting ballonets in the actual gas bags so’s to increase or decrease lift with air pressure rather than valving gas.”
“I see.” Justin commented, quietly wondering how that would work.
“This design was one of the German ‘high flyers’ though I’m thinking we’re not apt to go more than three to ten thousand feet high. We’re giving her the original insignia she carried for the sake of tradition. Even if it was the Pour le Mérite. We’re going to do that for all our airships as a testimonial to this dangerous pioneering work. The Germans did most of the early work with airships. A lot of this early work was heroic and deserves to be remembered.
“Providing oxygen for the crews of the ‘high flyers’ would be one example. I’m thinking we’ll not be pressurizing cabins or such. But there should probably be some emergency oxygen for the crew.
“Who’s going to be the pilot?”
Colin smiled and poked Justin lightly. “These are air ships not air planes. They are conned. There’s a captain on the bridge just like a real ship. Giving proper orders.”
“So who’s going to be the captain, then.”
“Well. Me for starters.”
“Hah! I knew that! Just remember! No crashing allowed!”
“Never, my love,” and they kissed.
It was a long, sumptuous, and deeply loving kiss. When they came up for air, Colin continued as if there’d been no kiss. “I’m thinking the crew while training will have to be about fifty including officers and I want to have a three watch rotation so that everyone has a chance for decent sleep. Should have about a five thousand mile range depending on wind and weather.”
Unimpressed, Justin pressed in again and the kiss resumed.
When they surfaced, “It’s time for lunch isn’t it?” Colin inquired smiling. “I’m sure the boys are waiting. Let’s go.” He smiled with anticipation. They reclaimed their horses and started off to the palace. They were free all afternoon.
And so, the word went out:
JOIN HIS MAJESTY’S AIR FLEET AND TRAVEL THE WORLD
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL
And so, wherever the armed forces of His Majesty Justin III might be, mustering petty officers and sergeants, and the like came forward to announce something to the effect of:
“All right, you lot, who so ever might be lookin’ fer the chance to fall from the sky, gimme yer name an number.”
One Bwca sergeant, whose specialty, before joining the army, had been to move the book some poor innocent was trying to read from place to place around the house, demonstrated the knowledge he had appropriated. He had read most of the books he moved around and so he encouraged his men: “If yer flies high, yer falls like that Icarious did, so sign-up ‘ere an now if it’s fallin’ that yer wantin’.”
Despite this encouragement, there were a number of volunteers, including Able Seaman John Tavers SSM.
Cadet-Lieutenant Fitzherbert Lord Flushing, third son of the Earl of Felixstowne, moved purposefully toward Cadet William Brownlees. They were in a walkway between two college buildings and were coming from and going to dinner. Cadet Brownlees was a Bwca whose father was a Chief Warrant Gunner, long in the Royal Artillery, but now assigned to the Ancient and Honourable Company of Artillerists and Infernal Device Artificers in an archival position. He had passed along his passion for reading to his son who had absorbed enough diverse information to do well in the entrance exams for the academy; but William had to work very hard at his classroom lessons at school. He had done well in field exercises and could translate classroom information into field application almost effortlessly. Corporal-Cadet-Major Winn had noted this ability with silent approval.
Cadet-Lieutenant Lord Flushing had enjoyed all of the material benefits of his birthright. He had never extended himself in his studies, but had some basic understanding of math and science; he could communicate at a basic level in Elvish and English, but would never be mistaken for eloquent and he had no Latin; he had been taught to ride, shoot, and fence, from infancy and he did all three well; he considered himself to be a gentleman but was not a ‘gentle’ man. For reasons not readily discernible, he thought rather highly of himself.
In the most recent field exercises, Cadet Brownlees, acting as a platoon commander, had twice inserted his platoon between Cadet-Lieutenant Lord Flushing, also acting as a platoon commander, and his lordship’s objective; thereby denying the noble lord and his side a victory in the exercise.
Cadet-Lieutenant Lord Flushing thought it inappropriate and unseemly that a son of the other ranks should have any military aspirations above that of warrant officer, and had begun a campaign to belittle and denigrate Cadet Brownlees.
“Brownlees, old chum,” Flushing sneered as they approached one another on the walkway. “Off to dine, are you then? Or is it supper you’re looking for?”
Flushing had three other elves with him and there was a Bwca and a Trollian with Brownlees.
Brownlees sought to avoid a confrontation with Flushing and edged to the side of the walkway to give Flushing and his group the path. He was also hungry and the mess hall would soon stop serving. Flushing was having none of it and blocked Brownlees on the walkway.
“Plotting some flim-flammery are you, you pipsqueak wanker,” Lord Flushing observed.
“No, just dinner, thank you sir,” Brownlees replied.
“Well, you’re in my way, step aside at once,” Flushing puffed his chest at Brownlees. But Brownlees had decided he would be pushed no further. He’d already gone out of his way to be polite. They were both first year cadets and they were training to be King’s officers and it was no part of his job to be pushed around by anyone. Least of all by another cadet.
Lord Flushing went to poke Brownlees in the chest with his finger, but Brownlees grabbed the offending finger and bent it back toward the noble chest. His Lordship stepped back involuntarily and Brownlees released him and glared.
Lord Flushing was deeply affronted. This mere son of a gunner had declined to yield and had actually touched him. He did not have a whip or a riding crop to use on Brownlees, so Flushing swung to slap him with his open palm. The nerve of him!
Cadet Brownlees had a basic knowledge of horsemanship, but had never handled a shotgun or an épée; however, he was not innocent of experience in the art of the basic brawl. He easily blocked Flushing’s slap and then mashed his lordship’s nose with a solid left jab. Lord Flushing stumbled back into his friends, blood streaming from his nose. One of his friends moved as if to attack, but Karl Gustav, William’s Trollian friend stepped forward saying, “Nawp. One on one.” Karl Gustav was a combat veteran of the Trollian Army and had been a lumberjack before that. He was typically Trollian, white blond hair, glacial blue eyes, normal ears, formidable; the elve stopped in his tracks, remembering that the name troll had originally been given as an insult and then eagerly adopted by the Trollians, who thought the reputation of the troll for ferocity was a good thing.
Authority, in the person of Corporal-Cadet-Major Winn now arrived on his way to dinner. He took the situation in at once. He was experienced in the ways of the army, and knew all of his cadets. “At ease,” he ordered quietly. He checked Cadet-Lieutenant Lord Flushing’s nose. He provided him with a handkerchief and observed, “Yer’ll have a lovely shiner in the morn. Next semester yer to take the boxing or something like.” He looked at Cadet William Brownlees hand and observed, “Yer to wash your knuckles with peroxide. Next semester yer to take the fencing, or something like.”
He stood back and looked at the seven cadets. “If I see that there’s been a fight between His Majesty’s Cadets, then I must take action against the fighters. The King is of the opinion that you’re here to learn how to fight his enemies, not each other. If I see that there’s been a fight, then there must be an inquiry. Something bad always comes from an army inquiry. Therefore, I saw nothing and neither did you. Carry on back to barracks! Carry on to dinner. Now move!”
Jimmy Cooper woke up. He was in what he took to be a hospital room. To be sure, he’d never been in a hospital room before. His surroundings appeared similar to what a hospital room looked like on TV and that was the basis for his assumption.
He’d been stargazing out his bedroom window. He thought he’d like a snack, if there was anything in the kitchen. There might be some chili left. But his fuck face uncle was not yet drunk enough for oblivion. So the fuck face started beating on him again. Jimmy was twelve and weighed about eighty pounds. His uncle was forty-six and weighed two-hundred plus. He was really angry this time, for some unknown reason, and Jimmy remembered flying over the couch and crashing down on the improvised coffee table. He remembered hearing some glass breaking, even though he was stunned. Then four naked teenagers appeared in the room. They’d not been there before. They started whaling on his fuck face uncle and Jimmy passed out.
The room was nicer than any room in his apartment. A nurse in tailored scrubs came into the room smiling and Jimmy stared at the man’s marvelous ears.
“Good morning, glad to see you’re awake; you’re hungry I’ll warrant.” He stepped to the ornate phone on the bedside table and spoke on it for a few seconds.
“You’ll be stuck here for a bit. You’ve two broken ribs, some serious bruising, and some nasty cuts on your side where you used your torso to break bottles and glasses, you’ve a mild concussion too. I’m Claude, your nurse, and you’re in the Viscount Sir David Lawrence of Coronado’s Infirmary. There, you’d want to know the full name of your hospital I’m sure. This is a very fine one too.
“You were rescued by Engineer Charles St Clare of His Majesty’s Railway, Wizard Caleb Knox, His Highness the Prince Ashmore, Magister, and Liegeman Sir James Wolsey.”
“They were naked?”
“They were indeed. You weren’t much better neither. Ah, and here’s your breakfast.” Claude adjusted the bed to bring Jimmy into a sitting position. Then he uncovered the tray and provided pancakes, eggs, bacon, mixed fruit, raspberry syrup, milk, and coffee.
Jimmy realized that he was famished and began eating with a will. Claude poured himself a cup of coffee and continued.
“Seems you’re a Magister of some kind. So, when your uncle started beating you, you signaled Prince Ashmore somehow. He being an Earth Magister an all. So then he woke up everyone else and they came and rescued you.”
At which point, a lovely fox jumped up on the bed and, cocking his head, eyed a piece of bacon. Jimmy gave it to him as it seemed the thing to do and the fox took it daintily and ate it with apparent enjoyment.
“This is Wilde, who is Sir Lawrence’s familiar. He was there for the rescue, too, but with all the handsome naked lads bouncing about, he wasn’t much noticed. Poor thing.” Claude stroked Wilde’s back affectionately.
Wilde looked pointedly at the coffee carafe and Claude obligingly poured him a cup.
Jimmy finished his breakfast, placed his utensils neatly on his plate, leaned back closing his eyes and went to sleep.
“Poor thing,” Claude observed. He took the tray and left while Wilde curled up on the foot of the bed and also went to sleep.
When Jimmy woke up, Wilde was sitting on the bed and somehow conveyed the impression that he was smiling.
Two young men then entered the room. Jimmy wasn’t sure, but thought they might be two of his rescuers. But they were very nicely dressed, not naked, so his range of physical identifiers was significantly reduced.
“Hi, I’m Cal, and this is my boyfriend Charlie. I heard you call the other night and got up a posse to come and save you. He was gonna kill you. I mean, he wasn’t planning on it, or anything like that, but that’s what would a happened if he’d kept beating on you.”
“Er, thanks.” Jimmy’s reply had focused on Charlie. Charlie had a tangle of beautiful black hair and a wander of freckles over his nose; but what really grabbed Jimmy’s attention, were his ears, like his nurse, they were longer than what he was used to, they came to points, and they were way sexier than ears normally are.
Charlie grinned and ran his fingers through his hair and tugged gently on an ear. “I’m an engineer on the Prince’s Own Express. I used to work for the Royal Mail, but then I met Cal here. He’s a wizard and we’ve met some neat friends. You will too.”
“Er, so, uh.”
“Where are you? You’re wanting to know.” Cal obliged by asking the question for him. “Well,” he further obliged by answering. “You’re in the Kingdom of Ellendale, which is basically most of what you’d call Europe. You’re on the planet we call Earth Prime. We’re right next door to Earth only in a different universe. You’re a Magister, you’ll figure it all out. I’m from Iowa, but I live here now. With Charlie. I’m a wizard.”
“What’s a ‘Magister’?”
“Well, Prince Gary’s an Earth Magister which means he can sense things in the earth. The King’s a Second Magister of the Heavens, but that just seems to mean he’s got a great sense of direction and location and can do big math problems in his head. Your abilities are just now manifesting and it will be awhile before you fully understand yours.
“Interestingly, your call for help was heard by me, I’m a wizard, and not by Gary who’s a Magister. This seems odd, so we’ll have to see what it might mean.”
Two more neatly dressed young men now entered the room. “Hi, I’m Gary Ashmore.” One said with a smile and a sort of wave acknowledging Jimmy’s bandages and IV’s.
“I’m Jaimie,” the second one greeted him. “We’re very glad we got there in time. I’m going to drag everyone out of here now, so you can continue to get well. Lawrence will have a screaming-shit-hemorrhage-conniption fit if we stay too long and don’t let you heal. I suspect we’ll see a great deal of each other in the coming days.”
Jimmy lay back on his ample pillow and went back to sleep. When he awoke, there was another furry creature sitting on the foot of his bed.
Hi, Richard Tickie-Tavey, Esquire, at your service. My friends all call me Rikki. I’m a familiar. Me and Wilde are to keep an eye on you for a bit. We talk telepathically. This ain’t like reading minds, you have to focus on me and think the words at me. That way I’ll get ‘em and then I’ll answer you back. It’s really just like talking only different. Can I get you something?
There was a long pause while Jimmy digested this. And, when all is said and done, speaking telepathically with a mongoose on your hospital bed just might need some digesting.
All my books and stuff are at home and I don’t want my fuck face uncle to get ‘em.
Not to worry, and Rikki disappeared from the foot of his bed with a snap flash.
Mere seconds later there was another snap flash and there was a stack of books on the window shelf. Another snap flash and the frying pan from the kitchen appeared on the dresser. With a third snap flash Rikki was back.
So, however, was Claude. “God damn it! I knew if I let just anyone in here unsupervised you’d be out to destroy the hospital in exactly one — count ‘em folks: one! — One hot minute!
“Are you all right, Jimmy?” He asked solicitously while he glared ice storms and fury at Rikki.
But he wanted his books.
“And that’s a book,” his voice rose dangerously as he pointed at the frying pan crusted with days old chili resting on the dresser.
No it’s not. But it’s really important. That’s the Hammer of Thor.
“Please,” Jimmy inserted himself. “I was reading Stoner’s Boy3.”
Rikki and Claude silenced themselves. Claude looked through the stack of books until he found the requested volume and handed it to Jimmy. He rang for an orderly and ordered the Hammer of Thor to be cleaned and seasoned properly and then returned to Jimmy. “To Jimmy,” he emphasized. “Not to him!” He glared at Rikki. Then he ordered a strawberry milk shake for Jimmy, and stormed off.
Righty-o! This is me out of the fire, and Rikki disappeared with the usual snap flash.
Jimmy opened his book but didn’t have a chance to start reading as there was another snap flash and Wilde was back. But Wilde seemed to smile, and curled up on the foot of the bed. Jimmy started reading.
They were gathered in the King’s office. It was one of the regular business meetings of the government of Earth Prime. The agenda had been promulgated and everyone that was needed was present; those, whose agencies were not involved, were not present and would meet when they were needed. The familiars made it much easier and less complicated than other governments. A record was kept that was accurate, decisions were immediately transmitted to the appropriate branch and action was taken, or not taken, as decided.
“Have you given any thought to opening negotiations with someone, or something, on Earth,” the Princess Helene, Governor General of State, inquired of the King.
“Well, I think we’ve all thought about it from time to time. But is now the time, and if so, how would we do it. What do you think.”
“I think not. To be quick and to the point.” She sighed, “I think we all keep hoping for an opportunity. But they’re still too unstable.”
“We’ve the ability to nullify any use of nuclear weapons by any of them,” the Earl Martial pointed out. “But if we come out too soon, and one of the mini-powers tries to fire off a nuke, then we’d betray our power and presence and we may be considered an enemy and suspected of all sorts of things.”
“And whom do we first approach? Do we try to appear before their United Nations? If we don’t, and go through one of the major powers, then we’re apt to be suspected of favoritism of one kind or another.”
“I still maintain,” Sir Christian Sanford, Principal Private Secretary to the King, returned to one of his favorite themes, “That we should contact the Queen of England and get her advice. That’s her job, after all, and she’s very good at it. It’s also entirely proper as her family has been touched by familiars many times over the millennia.”
“Yes, thanks,” the King smiled. “We’ll consider that. There’s a wonderful almost mis-direction to that approach. We are a monarchy, too, after all.
“Humphrey, have any of the wizards reported any premonitions, or other indicators that show a clear and immediate danger?”
“No, My King.”
“Then, we’ll continue to watch and wait.”
“Sir,” Humphrey acknowledged and then continued, “Lawrence tells me that the young magister that was rescued, is recovering nicely; we’re still not sure what his specialty is, but he’s very interested in astronomy and the sky. Larry got a small reflector telescope from the Astronomer Royal and they have it on the roof and he spends several hours using it every night. He is also very interested in weather patterns and was disappointed in our lack of a ‘Weather Channel’ whatever that might be.”
“Offer him every assistance. We have a Meteorological Service don’t we. I suspect his gift will be useful before long.
“I met a formidable familiar when the St Brendan came home. He would like to form a naval commando to discourage whaling and the slaughter of marine mammals on Earth; he’s also concerned about over fishing and a general disrespect for the ocean so this seems a good place to begin. I told him to work with Cameron and submit a proposal. Is that okay Mr C?”
My King, Cameron acknowledged.
“The first zeppelin test flights will start next week. Looking forward to that.” The King smiled.
“And don’t forget our academies,” Colin pointed out. “They are up and running and doing well; we, and particularly Humphrey, seem to have hit the right mixture of classroom and application. The cadets are uniformly doing well.”
“Er, Your Majesty,” the Governor General of the Interior began.
“Just stop! Colin and I met two charming ladies and we are in the process of getting to know them better. As you can imagine, I hope, this is rather more difficult than the usual dating sort of thing. We’ve two familiars we’re speaking to and we’d very much appreciate not getting a raft of grief from the government just now. Good afternoon.”
The King was not smiling. The Earl Martial glowered. The meeting concluded.
1 Named, with all due respect, for Boy First Class Jack Cornwell, VC, RN
2 Google HMS Ganges button boy for a sense of what this looks like. It terrifies me, but I don’t do heights. HMS Ganges was a training school for “Boy” sailors ages approximately 13-17. “Boy” was an actual rank, in three classes depending upon age. HMS Ganges is closed now and the rank structure has changed in the Royal Navy.
3 Robert F Schulkers, Stoner’s Boy: A Seckatary Hawkins Mystery. One of a series of boys’ adventures stories first published in the 1920s.