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Clockworks Chronicles of Zahn

by Scott Hawver 2 years ago in fantasy
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The Immortals' Game Chapter 5

5) The Madness of Ministers

Cooper straightened his uniform and pulled on the tight collar which was still not cut right for his thick neck. He looked in the long mirror at the dark black uniform with gold shoulder braids, belt and stripes down his trousers.

He never cared for the dress uniforms of the day. And especially since he was in Her Eminence’s Special Service his duty uniform wasn’t a uniform at all but street clothes. He shrugged and took up the saber and buckled it to his belt. He also checked to make sure his service revolver was loose enough in the well-oiled holster. He much preferred his bolt gun to the Webley .455 cal revolver simply for capacity and rate of fire. However, it wasn’t allowed for his dress uniform.

He took one consolation. He preferred his dress black uniform to the burgundy uniform the army officers and soldiers wore.

He took one more moment to straighten the row of medals which included the Victoria Star and the reasonable facsimiles of the Silver Star and Purple Heart he had earned in Afghanistan. He looked at the colonel rank insignia on his shoulder boards and he couldn’t get over how they were exactly like the British rank he remembered from his own world. As many things from this parallel universe, there were many similarities between The Civilization and the British Empire.

He then shrugged again and left the cloak room to make his way to the main hall where he was expected.

The guards in burgundy dress uniforms and black kilts saluted him and opened the double doors to allow him into the large hall. There he was greeted by a din of ministers, officers and other government officials in heavy discussion.

The Sargent at Arms announced with his stentorian voice, “High Lord Colonel Calvin Cooper Commander of Her Eminence’s Special Service!”

Cooper closed his eyes briefly as if pained. He tried his best to convince Vicky he didn’t want a title of nobility because it went against everything he believed in from his upbringing in the United States, but she was adamant. She had awarded him the titles and lands of High Lord Baron James XVI of Calador. She even named Batty and Ehawee as Dames of Calador. Of course, all of Caldor’s monies were directed in the rebuilding efforts to Grandeur City but he had acquired his own modest wealth in recent years even though he wasn’t trying. Wealth wasn’t ever a motivation for Coop. He wasn’t adverse to wealth mind you, but he never sought it either. He did take the liberty to sell the manor house here in Grandeur City that once belong to Calador because the place simply rubbed him wrong. It was way too gaudy.

Cooper, limping slightly, marched over to the far end of the long table surrounded by the various arguing ministers and went to one knee before Her Eminence who was sitting placidly in the end seat.

She nodded acknowledgement of him and per protocol he then rose to his feet with some effort and asked, “You sent for me Your Eminence?”

She smiled warmly and said, “Yes Colonel, but first, is your wound still bothering you?”

“Only a little bit Your Eminence.”

“Then after this you will go see Our Imperial Healer, Dr. Saba.”

Coop groaned inwardly because he felt he had too many things to do but outwardly he simply bowed his head and said, “Yes, Your Eminence.”

“We have called you here Lord Colonel to ask you to see to a disturbing report We have just been made aware of. It would seem 350 of those shadow sentinels are still unaccounted for. We cannot have that, so We want you to find out about it.”

This concerned him very much. He had his suspicions, but he was never given a hard count as to how many shadow sentinels had been made. He knew 32 were vaporized during the battle at Kings plaza. One was destroyed after falling from the HEAS Monarch and one went AWOL. Actually, the one which was AWOL, Sally, was the one who concerned him the most. But the 350 represented a serious threat to Her Eminence and The Civilization as a whole. So, he nodded his head and said, “I will look into it at once, Your Eminence!”

Victoria II smiled and said, “You mean at once AFTER you see Dr. Saba?”

Realizing he was caught he just smiled and bowed his head.

She continued to smile and said, “We would also be delighted if you, your daughters and your lovely fiancé would join us for dinner tonight. There are things We wish to discuss with you.”

“Of course, Your Eminence.”

Sir Markus Adders, the new Minister of the Treasury, was watching this exchange between Her Eminence and Colonel Cooper with a polite smile on his face. Adders was a prime example of the definition of a diplomat. One who could tell you to go to Hell in such a way you would be thanking them for the directions. His outer appearance was of polite respect and adoration for the Empress. His inner thoughts were dark, and sour. Unbeknownst to Her Eminence, Adders had played an important part of allocation of funds for High Lord James XVI of Calador during his ill-fated coup attempt. However, unlike Calador, Adders was careful to keep his name clear of any connection to the attempt.

Since the attempt two months ago he had bided his time and made sure his safeguards were undisturbed. He was responsible for making the arrangements for the remaining shadow sentinels to be stored where they could not be found. However, he was concerned now Cooper was tasked to find them. He knew Cooper was very good at what he did. Yet, he also realized if he took steps to move the pocket army of his that he had been saving for later, he was afraid he might tip Cooper off as to his involvement.

So, he decided to bide his time and hope he was thorough enough to keep his link to the storage of this awful battalion secret.

The only reason why these 350 were not put into play during the original coup was because they were not given souls yet. He knew Curiosa was still working with them to try to get them to function like the original sentinels that belonged to the Imperial Family and he was secretly directing the necessary funds for the endeavor.

He was thinking fast on what he had to do to make sure his tracks were covered. He was lost in those thoughts when he realized Cooper had been dismissed and Her Eminence was looking at him expectantly.

“Your forgiveness Your Eminence? I was just deep in thought about how to rout the funds required to restructure the new police force you desire…”

Lord Joseph Asbury, the new Minister of Commerce, was also watching this exchange with different motivations indeed. Jealousy was chief of these.

He was secretly hoping to be considered a suitable consort and possible groom for Her Eminence. His reasoning was he had family of both Northern and Southern Continental heritage of the best pedigrees.

He never liked the relationship this interloper from another world had with Her Eminence.

He never enjoyed the obvious look of adoration in Victoria’s eyes when she looks at the now High Lord but whom was truly a common born soldier of no breeding.

Now, Cooper had made it eminently plain he is an immortal, he was going to be hard to remove from the equation.

He had already taken magical steps to see to Cooper’s elimination only to find they were inadequate. So now he was doing research on what it would take to propel Cooper back to his own world.

fantasy

About the author

Scott Hawver

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