05/27/63 06:00 Day 1
Prince’s Champion Marshal Bishop Sortek stands behind the podium outside Castle Davion, his Atlas behind him, the Commonwealth Press Corps in front. “Citizens of New Avalon and the Federated Commonwealth, I have grave news to deliver this day.
Early this morning a group of Republican Guard Commandos kidnapped Princess Yvonne from her residence in the New Hebrides. These commandos killed her protectors and escaped with her on a Coast Guard Helicopter, I have put every man I can in the field to find and rescue her. If you see her please report it immediately and you will be rewarded.
Additionally Archon Katherine Steiner has come to New Avalon at the head of an invasion fleet of Lyran, Tikonov, and traitorous Commonwealth troops. No doubt she seeks to usurp the Sunburst Throne just as she did the Archon’s from our beloved Victor. She now burns toward the planet at high speed eager to bring war to her home-world so that she may continue her illegitimate reign of terror.
The entire Guards Brigade stands with me, we will not allow the Federated Commonwealth to be seized by someone who so callously handles her own nation. Surely this is her final act of collusion in a long chain of Anti-Commonwealth actions that reveal her true motivation, Total Domination.”
Elsewhere on New Avalon
Yvonne woke to a snap of a fire, she was surprised to find that she was trapped in a sleeping bag, and suffered a moment of panic while fumbling with the zipper. After working her way out of the bag she looked down and saw that the clothes from last night were in tatters and her legs were bandaged. Every muscle in her body felt like it was on fire and she gritted her teeth while rising to her feet.
The camp looked abandoned, there was another sleeping bag on the other side of the fire, and a GM Outrider truck was backed into the glade which was surrounded by trees. It was early morning but she didn’t know what time it was or how long she had been out but she was thirsty. There was a small water cooler lashed onto the truck’s tailgate and she grabbed a cup from the attached holder, as she poured the water into the cup she was reminiscing of playing Field Hockey for Avalon City Girl’s School.
Lost in her daydream she didn’t hear the man walking out of the woods until he was on the other side of the truck. “Morning Sleeping Beauty,” she snapped out of it and saw Nikolai but to late to not throw water on him. Horrified she put a hand to her mouth, “I’m sorry Nik,” he grabbed a towel out of the truck bed and began patting the wet spot out of his clothes. He wasn’t wearing the camouflage uniform from last night having changed into a gray shirt and hat, green jacket, blue jeans, and brown work boots, a pair of sunglasses hung from his shirt pocket.
He tossed the towel back into the truck bed, “No problem Yvonne, sorry to surprise you”
“Where are we?”
“Around twenty kilometers east of Copper Gulch, Rostock”
She put her hand on her forehead, “Rostock!? How long was I out?”
“About seven hours, it’s nearly ten now”
“Where’s everyone else?”
“They are joining the Loki teams on-planet and getting ready to go again.”
“I’m sorry about the others”
“I know, I didn’t think the Striker would get out that quickly. They knew the risks, but I thought I could get them all out, that we would be fast enough.”
He grabbed a pink duffel bag from the truck bed, “These are yours, get changed and drop the camo in the pit on the other side of the truck.”
“I don’t think any man has brought me so many outfits. Are you sure you aren’t just using me like a dress up doll?”
“One of Katherine’s agents brought them, you apparently like her choices. I just hope she got the right size.”
Taking the duffel she walked to the other side of the truck, “I’m sure she did”
Yvonne changed and walked back to the fire wearing a blue shirt, gray pants, brown boots and jacket, with two jars of hair dye in her hand. “What is this for!?”
Nikolai had a cast iron skillet in the fire cooking some bacon, “Sorry Yvonne, but you are gonna need a dye job. Your red hair is to distinctive, people will know it’s you. Your choice, blonde or brunette?”
“But I love my red hair! I’ve never dyed it before, dad used to call me Sunshine”
“That’s cute. Who would have thought First Prince Hanse Davion would come up with such clever nicknames for his daughters. Way better than Vic, Pete, or Arty.”
She stomped, “Well I can’t do it out here! I don’t even have a mirror.”
“There’s a farmhouse not far from here with a proper bathroom, so think about it. I will help you do it right, but first how do you like your eggs?”
5/27/63 17:13 Location – River Daring Region, Rostock
The now showered and brunette Yvonne sat in the passenger seat of the grimy Red GM Outrider truck as it bounced along the gravel farm roads. She was still working through last night’s events with the help of Nikolai, distantly watching the fields of grain and grass while idly waving at passing motorists. Her arms were crossed and she had sullen look, her mood darkened by the impending rain storm and hours on the poor roads.
“We’ll go over it again. What is your name?”
“Melanie Amber Woods of Crossroads Prairie, Age 24, Teacher at Little Sprouts Preschool, I have a little brother named Matt, who is a bother, and my parents are Mary and Richard, Birthday May 23rd”
“Good now who am I, Melanie?”
“Lars Henry Anderson of Temperance Forge, Age 29, Licensed Freelance Mechanic, you have an older sister named Susan whose truck we borrowed and your parent’s names are Wilma and Donovan, Birthday July 9th”
“And how did we meet?”
“The Bonnie Flats Blaze (Firefly/Lalapolooza with a 10 meter bonfire) last year, neither of us remember the exact time but I was in your truck that morning and we started a relationship”
“And where are we going?”
This was the fifth time he had gone over it and Melanie (Yvonne) was getting tired of the repetition, “Back to Crossroads Prairie after spending the week camping in the East Queensbury Royal Park and prior to that we visited the Gorge again.” She pushed away a pile of Gaveston’s Gorge and East Queensbury Maps and Brochures that were part of their legend.
“Good, now there is something special in the glove box that will seal the deal and maybe lighten your mood, go ahead and grab it”
She reached into the truck’s glove box and a small ring case fell out and onto the plastic floor covers. Leaning down she grabbed it, eager to see what was inside, gasping when as she saw an engagement ring sitting on the pillow.
“There’s no Nik here Melanie”
Correcting herself, “Lars, it’s beautiful”
In an exaggerated Southlander (Australia/Texas) “I had to put in some extra hours at the shop to pay for it darlin’, but it’s all yours now”
She put the ring on her finger, “For real sweetheart”
“For now honey”
“You’re terrible at this”
“No Princess, acting is something I’m really good at, seems like you did pretty good for yourself for a college dropout”
“I don’t even regret that, I hold it as a badge of honor, it was the first thing I ever did for myself. I was always the dutiful daughter and sister, I had to draw a line somewhere. Who did my brother think he was to stop me from transferring to Tharkad by decree no less!? Where was he for the first twelve years of my life, when it was only Hanse, Arthur, and Katherine?”
“You shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. I would be appalled if my brother spoke of me that way were I to die.”
“You have a brother?”
“I do, my commission and salary go to paying his way through medical school and caring for his family. He just started his residency at Tikograd General as a Surgeon and my nephew is turning two in three months.”
“Your brother is a Surgeon?’
“Dah, he refused to take my money initially but I told him at least one of us should be getting their hands bloody for the right reasons.”
“All your money? but you buy things all the time”
“Yeah with the Agency’s money, I don’t actually own most of the things I possess. I like to travel light, all my valuable things are kept here (points to his head) and here (hand over heart). It’s difficult but I try not to be sentimental because I have to burn or blow up most things after using them. I never talk about my brother since we don’t share the same last name anymore to protect him and his family if I were to be compromised.”
“Your brother is a surgeon, did you always want to be a spy?”
“You can’t be serious, you wanted to be an artist?”
“Yes, in fact I studied at a Conservatory. Even was the Rat King for two years.”
“A Ballerina!? How does an Artist become a Spy?”
“Well if you think about it both are professions that reward careful experimentation and observation, creativity, clarity of focus, grounded in fundamentals, precision, and attention to detail. I even got the Tinkerers at TNGB to make me a sniper rifle that can fit into an easel assembly.”
“It’s so boring being a sniper, but the view is incredible, no one gets the kind of access I do. Katherine even has one of my originals on her personal drop-ship. I call it Towers of Tatyana, I painted it after I killed somebody that was trying to kill her. I think it was a SAFE Agent, but he might have been ISF or ROM, hard to tell nowadays not that it was easy before.”
The truck pulled into the Pine Creek Motel of Pine Creek, a small town along one of the tributaries of the River Daring. The sky was dark with the impending rainstorm and the “couple” rushed to unload everything into their room before it got rained on.