Princess in Time

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Return to Roissy

When I wake up, the air is still, and the light is dwindling. I have probably been unconscious for a while. Nobody is killed by falling from great altitudes in the World, of course. But it is a violent, shocking experience, one the Avis never get accustomed to.

As I sit up, a faint echo down there tells me I am still sitting on a fortune. I am getting used to the smile good ol’ Fabergé brings to my lips each time he chimes me across the century. Gingerly, I touch my body. Nothing seems broken, just a few bruises here and there.

I start my recovery yoga procedure, slowly breathing in, then out.

My analytic mind also tries to organize the knowledge I have gathered.

Summarizing:

A psychopath, the most powerful oligarch in the World is looking anxiously for me. Seeking revenge. The fact that I am in possession of his most precious property makes probably him even more interested in me.

Luckily, a top-class killer is also looking for me, with better intentions, possibly.

There emerges an interesting property in my male unwanted suitors: top criminologist, top criminal, top killer. All at the top.

Any good news? Well. The USS Egeria mystery.

Great-granduncle Isaac was not just bringing home his love. He was on a secret mission, with an encrypted message from the Tsar. And the fact that the Japanese torpedoed USS Egeria to avoid the document to reach the US Government seems to demonstrate its importance.

And they got away with it. The US did not support the Russians in their war with Japan. With American coal in their bunkers, the Russian could have avoided the treacherous Tsushima strait, Japanese imperialism could have been thwarted at the very beginning, and maybe Pearl Harbor…

But the disturbing fact remains. Someone infiltrated the Agency. I cannot get back there. I guess whom I can still trust. The Directress, possibly. Then I smile at those black-violet eyes. Yes, maybe there is still someone I can trust.


Breath. More slowly, counting, then again, then again, deepening the breath, getting my awareness back.

“Varela!”

I jump up when I hear my true name very close, very loud, just behind me. Krav Maga defensive stance, dominant arm forward, feet apart, kneel flexed, poised, ready to strike. My old reflexes are not failing me after all. Not a threat, my autopilot says. Indeed, the poor girl who has uttered my name, frightened, jumps back, trips on a root, and stumbles backward to the ground.

From there, she looks up at me, bewildered, her ruined make-up projecting a vivid flash-image, and I see her tied as a Sfinx in the library, bent over, the Master Spanker pounding her mightily from behind. Sarah, the successful businesswoman. I lend her a hand and help her on her feet. The spiked heel of one of her shoes is broken, and she looks at it, in shock, confused, then starts crying silently. Somehow naturally we embrace and I try to reassure her, brushing her hair, talking in the calm voice I imagine a mother should use:

“Now, now… It’s all over… it is all over now.”

I realize with a certain surprise that we are both sobbing quietly, and I feel her hand caressing my neck. We are both mother and daughter for a while. Then our lips meet, and we kiss. A long, feminine kiss. Her sweet lips taste somehow familiar. I cannot recognize them, but they have a soothing effect on me. They are warm. They are soft. And they are here, now.

--

We are in the middle of a badland left by a destructive earthquake, one of the many desertic areas we can find here and there in our declining World. A lone, derelict signpost remembers a long-defunct business that once ago was thriving just there. It also gives the details for purchasing the land, just in case you feel adventurous. I don’t feel so at the moment. Far far away, at the horizon, a small village gathered around an imposing building, maybe a fortress, is looming in the dusk light. Long walk ahead, on broken high heels and in the nude.

Fortunately, people are kind and recovery fast in the World.

We are soon rescued and we find ourselves in a small hotel room in the delightful village. Roissy.

After a sweet night, showered, refreshed and reassured, the Fabergé egg hidden is the small hotel safe, we are soon sitting side by side at the small bistro table in a small nearby French village, holding hands, enjoying our new friendless, our unexpected intimacy. Hiding in plain sight, the technique I like most. Not that my special agent experience had demonstrated it so infallible so far. But then, there are not too many choices.

A lovely deb in a demure spring floral dress is serving us café au lait, and we chat like old friends. Sarah is still holding my hand as she animatedly tells me about her first successes in financing hi-tech start-ups. Discovering her financial genius, her surprise when he started kicking-up great white male asses, a consistent habit that took her all the way to the Wall Street Journal front page.

Now and then she laughs. And I eventually recognize her laugh. And I freeze.

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