One Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty-Seven
20th February 1967
Cam Ranh, Vietnam
“I think you have lost your mind” Sigi said as she handed the document back to Louis Ferdinand across the same picnic table that the card drawing had taken place at a million years or so earlier. “This is like some Mary Shelly inspired nightmare.”
What she had been looking at had long reaching implications, not just for herself but for the vast majority of humanity as well. According to her half-brother, when the technology to identify genetic lines had become viable theoretically, he had thrown considerable resources at it. “To help people like our sister” was how he had put it, referring to Alexandrine, the sister who suffered from Down’s Syndrome who Sigi had yet to meet. The result though was definitive proof that Louis Ferdinand and Sigi had the same father in a way that went far beyond clumsy means such as blood typing. The rub was that as someone in the Raumfahrer Program, all of Sigi’s medical information was out there in the public domain, so it was inevitable that this was going to become general knowledge at some point. Louis said he was trying to get ahead of it.
“This acknowledges who you are” Louis said. The document stated that much and so much more as well. “I don’t want to have this thrust out into the public consciousness for obvious reasons. Frau Jensen, the woman who manages our family’s public affairs, thinks that you have a full enough plate already and adding your kinship to me on top of it would be unfair to you.”
“I’ve been stuck in quarantine for weeks, before and after going to the Moon” Sigi replied, “The only thing I have on my plate is exactly how horrible what I find in the icebox in my apartment will be when I get back to Rangsdorf will be.”
“You are wrong about that Sigi” Louis said, “You aren’t going to be allowed to go back to the 5th KHF, not after all that you have done. You have one of the most recognizable faces in the world. I can make a call to get your things gathered for you, to be there for wherever your next assignment happens to be.”
“Is it that easy for you?” Sigi asked, “Make a call and all your problems go away.”
Louis gave her a sad smile. “Not everything can be solved that way” He said, “The simple things, yes. The more complicated, messy things where other attempts to solve the problem have failed. With those I get to make unfortunate choices that the public might not understand if they knew.”
“Like an embarrassing illegitimate sister?”
“Don’t be melodramatic Sigi” Louis replied, “Of all our siblings you are probably the least embarrassing. The most embarrassing goes to Raphael in Rome, he’s like our father in that he just doesn’t know how to keep it in his pants. The world is a lot less forgiving of an Italian taxi driver. Your situation though, it reminds me of the fix that our cousin Gia… er, Jehane Thomas-Romanova, found herself in when Czar Georgy told the world that she had survived the Tumbler Ridge massacre.”
Sigi knew about the reclusive Grand Duchess of Russia and that was not the sort of life she wanted for herself. All she really wanted was to be back in the cockpit of an attack helicopter where life made sense. And how on Earth had they ended up with an Italian half-brother?
In recent years, Martin had found the silences with Anne becoming longer and longer. She had her own life and career, which consumed much of her time. Sure, Anne joked about how if you encourage your children to become writers then they will never have enough money for drugs. Still though, she sometimes got an advance for her work that was for eyewatering sums because she was becoming one of those writers who commanded public attention. Martin had realized the role that he played in their relationship, the stable and boring one, and had started to find it grating. That was especially true whenever Anne brought up the very notable people that she regularly rubbed elbows with.
“This is really good, authentic” Anne said as she sat the typewritten pages down on the table. “You only have a few chapters here, but I would love to see where it goes.”
Martin stared at the pages that he had never intended for his wife to see. The elaborate fantasy that he had concocted about stealing money from a client, the powerful and wealthy patron of the wife of the protagonist. Of course, his imaginings had swiftly turned to the reality of how he would inevitably get caught and what he might do to get out of it. Normally, he lacked the single-minded focus of his wife when she was writing a rough draft, but he had gone on for thousands of words before he had stopped because of exhaustion. It was cathartic to get that out of his system without actually going something that he knew was stupid. That was reflected in how the character kept spinning around, digging himself deeper into the mess he had created.
“You think its good?” Martin asked.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Anne said, “When you go into the market, they have racks of books about crime. People eat it up. For an author to be able to explain a convoluted subject like accounting in a way that people understand is difficult.”
“Really” Martin asked.
“Yes” Anne said, “It is especially relatable because everyone is tempted to have their hand in the till occasionally.”
“Er… yes, everyone” Martin said.