Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Forty-Five
3rd May 1968
“I don’t care what excuses you have. I will shoot anyone without a legitimate excuse to be in here if they are not out of my sight in one minute” Kiki said flatly.
Anyone who knew Kiki understood that she wasn’t bluffing this time, and just how likely it was that she had a gun. Which resulted in a mass exodus for the door. Only King Albrecht stood there for a few seconds before giving her a tight smile.
“Your loyalty to your sister is admirable but I think that you are painting yourself into a corner Kristina” Albrecht said, “You might want to familiarize yourself with the legacy of Anton Chekhov.”
With that Albrecht left the room and Vicky let out a breath that she didn’t realize she was holding. This was all a personal matter that entirely too many people knew about and in a horrifying twist, were curious. The last two weeks had been awful and once again wished she could be half as assertive as her older sisters. She had been subjected to extensive medical testing and a series of injections that would facilitate the process. She had been on an emotional rollercoaster as a result. The pretense that they had put out for public consumption was that their presence in the clinic was due to the lingering effects of a wound that Franz had sustained in Korea causing them difficulties. That wasn’t entirely untrue, Franz had led a Bavarian Army Company in Korea and he had been wounded in action. That was enough to keep anyone from asking too many questions.
She had asked three people to stay in the room for this. Kiki, because she understood the medical terminology and could be trusted to always look out for Vicky’s personal interests. Anna was present as Vicky’s Courtly appointed friend and companion, what she jokingly called their Boston marriage in private. Franz was here of course, because of the role that he was in fact playing and more importantly to keep up appearances. He had been there holding her hand through the entire process and being a wonderful, supportive friend. The Doctor who was conducting this procedure was one of the foremost experts in the field. If he knew something was up, he was keeping quiet about it and regardless of that, he was being paid very handsomely for his discretion.
With a bit of trepidation Vicky got on the table and was staring at the ceiling as she tried to ignore just what was happening. She could hear Kiki and the Doctor talking in purely technical terms and couldn’t understand much of it. Kiki mentioned being present a month earlier for the birth of their niece, Alexandrine Nagako, Freddy and Suga’s newest daughter. It occurred to Vicky that how she was going about this was coldly clinical and impersonal, absurdly different from how her brother and sister-in-law went about things.
“You might feel a bit of discomfort but try to hold still, Ma’am” The Doctor said, and Vicky tried not think too much about how that was inevitably an understatement. She felt something cold…
“Try not to think too much about it” Franz said, he and Anna were smiling at her as she tried to focus on them as opposed to what was going on.
“That is all” The Doctor said after a few minutes, much to Vicky’s relief. “We will know more in a few weeks, won’t we.”
That was when the full implications of what was ahead hit Vicky.
4th May 1968
The scratching noise from the window of her bedroom scared Sophie when she had woken up to it. Then she saw movement in the darkness, followed by more noise and two glowing amber eyes. Fear left her paralyzed for an extremely long time, what felt like an eternity. Then it passed when Sophie realized that whatever was sitting outside the window wasn’t making any aggressive moves. Looking closer the silhouette of a familiar figure resolved itself, she saw two pointy ears perk up and additional scratching. Getting out of her bed, Sophie opened the window and the room filled with cool night air that smelled of spring, damp earth, blossoms, and growing things. It was still incredibly early, and the sleeping neighborhood was totally silent. Cheshire, Marie Alexandra’s tabby cat dropped through the window into the bedroom. Sophie had no idea how he had gotten so high up the side of the house to reach her window, or why he had picked her window. She was about to open the door to let him into the house when Cheshire jumped up on her bed and mewed at her.
“You aren’t supposed to be in here” Sophie said to the cat as she sat down on her bed. “You are supposed to be with Marie.”
Cheshire didn’t care, he started rubbing his face on Sophie’s hand and purring loudly. Doug had told Sophie that the cat had seldom been put down by Marie or Tatiana since he had been a kitten and tended to enjoy the company of his people. Serhiy, the Cook, had made a comment about how losing his balls had left Cheshire with little else to focus on. Sophie had asked Doug what that meant, and he had shot the Cook a dirty look.
Sophie gave in and scratched Cheshire behind the ear like she knew he enjoyed. Eventually, she fell asleep with the cat in her arms.