She stayed back, hesitant, while he moved forward, bold and brash and most likely naive. Poor Kolya, she thought. He can’t see the Overlord right in front of his face. He’d been warned (*sip*).
He was happy with his refreshed lemonade in the moment and had no other concerns. He doesn’t recall anything about the operation, she thinks. The holes still exist, although certainly not glorious any longer. He remains (dot dot dot) damaged goods.
There was only one thing for it. Another ring.
“Herbert. It’s me.”
Afterwards, they went to Skysity and got milkshakes, a family tradition in this matter. “How’re you feeling, son?” he said, knowing Claude Jr. wasn’t really his son any more. Instead: hive mind.
“Pretty (*sip*) good. Hey dad?”
“Yes son.” Claude Sr. suddenly became sad. He was thinking back to the talk he had with his father, right on this very spot with the only difference being Jasper was out of vanilla that day. Had to settle for chocolate. This was better, this was more like it should be. Favorite for his favorite. He should have everything he wants this day. Because he’s lost so much.
“Are you going away again? To that place? Paper.”
“I have to, son. You know that. You’ll have to go too.”
“But I’m — *12*.”
“You’re not ready to go out into the world yet on your own son. Remember Uncle Peaches? Remember how he started too early? Got recruited for the war. Blew his head off in the end. Demolitions — it’s always demolitions for us; you remember that, son. You remember what’s happened to many of us. They — just don’t care.”
“Aw, *dad*.” Jr. was sorry he brought up the subject now. Sure he’d tag along with his old man a little longer. But not *too* long. He has plans — designs.
(to be continued)