Stories from the Shepherd Moon: Interviews #2 - An Obsession With Royalty
(this day-in-the-life filler story is to be inserted after the epilogue of Shepherd Moon)
Hello, Dear Reader. Here’s a warning:
If you haven’t read the Shepherd Moon and don’t want any spoilers, don’t continue.
This particular story is part of the “Stories from the Shepherd Moon,” and is a fun and funny kind of vignette about a royal event in Mia’s life, covered by the fictitious BBC Solar video network, and anchored by the fictitious TV personality Bryan Seacrest (wink wink), with news personalities Danni Sawyer and Kathy Courik (lol).
This is what is usually called a “companion piece,” to the story, “Shepherd Moon.”
Timeline-wise, it follows the epilogue/ending, and the first “Stories from the Shepherd Moon” chapter, but has no material contribution to that story. You might want to read parts 1 to 5, and the epilogue of “Shepherd Moon” first before reading this one.
This story is also chock-full of pictures which, I hope, adds a bit of the fun element of Shepherd Moon.
As usual, the pictures and collages are from publicly-accessible pictures from the net. No i.p. or copyright infringement is intended.
If you wish to continue, feel free to scroll down, and I hope you enjoy this little story!
(And please do comment? Thanks!)
Announcer: “To all our viewers on the planet, the colonies and territories of the United Nations of Earth, and, via galactic radio relay, to all our viewers in the Galactic Federation of Free Races – we welcome you back to BBC Solar’s special Federation-wide coverage of the investiture of Princess Amelia Liaran-Kerr-Steele as the new ruler of the Elyran Kingdom of the Northern Territory.
“We now return you to BBC Solar’s Bryan Seacrest and the special news correspondent from the Royal Elyran Broadcasting System, Jem Tevann-Losira.”
“Welcome back, viewers. My name’s Bryan Seacrest, broadcasting from BBC Solar’s outside broadcasting van, or what we in the news business like to call the ‘OB Van,’ here on the front lawn of the Royal Castle of the Northern Territory here on Elyra Prime. I’m here with the famous Elyran presenter and TV personality, Jem Tevann-Losira.”
Jem spoke, but only Elyran could be heard.
“Jem! Jem! You have to make sure both buttons of your translator are pressed down.”
“Oh!” Jem said, took the little translator from his ear and pressed a button on it. “Apologies, Bryan. Am I fine now?”
“T’chahn, everyone,” Jem said, and fitted the translator back in his ear. “Apologies to all the viewers.”
“Jem and I have been covering the investiture ceremony of the Lady Amelia Liaran-Kerr-Steele as the new ruler of the Kingdom of the Northern Territory. Actually, the investiture rights have been completed a while ago, and we are just waiting for the last part of the ceremony, the official portrait of Lady Amelia to be properly framed and then hung in the castle’s Hall of Paintings. As you know, this comes on the heels of…”
“Pardon me, Bryan,” Jem interrupted. “That’s not strictly correct. Princess Amelia isn’t really the ruler of the Northern Territory. Officially, she is now the Steward of the Realm, until the family of Dorian-Kerr officially reclaims the throne.”
“Thank you, Jem. Can you explain that to me, though? Why is Lady Mia a ‘steward’ instead of the out-and-out ruler? And what is a steward, anyway?”
“Good question, Bryan. A Steward or royal custodian is a person who is assigned to act as the caretaker or keeper of a country, state or territory, and to act in place of the royal family until the rightful ruler can claim her throne again. So, in effect she is like a proxy ruler.
“Stewards become necessary from time to time when there are no immediate heirs to a throne, as what has happened to the Northern Territory.”
“Yes. As you all know, the Northern Territory’s Royal Couple and Princess Mara Dorian-Kerr have been unmasked as Detterex spies. It happened prior to the surrender of Detterex, right?”
“That’s right. But not just them – it also included several members of the family. As such, there are no valid heirs to the throne remaining. The Queen therefore commanded the House of Royal Peers to search for the next legitimate heir, and while the search progresses, the Peerage has appointed a Steward, and that’s the Princess Amelia.”
“Ahhh. Why did the Peers select the Lady Amelia, anyway? Why not the other members of the Royal Clan?”
“Well, there are certain qualifications for a steward – the steward must keep the welfare of her charges her foremost priority, the steward must have no aspirations to establish herself as the permanent ruler, and the steward must be acceptable to her charges and the Peerage. Princess Amelia met all the criteria, and was voted by acclamation.”
“But I also heard that there were many who protested her appointment because she wasn’t an Elyran, much less a royal. There were a few rallies, in fact.”
“Ahhh, yes. That’s true – there was one other criteria, which is that the steward has to be part of the Royal Clan. But with her marriage to the heir apparent to the Great Plains and Royal Elyran Thrones, Princess Tasha, that made her a royal by marriage.”
“But she’s an Earther, not an Elyran.”
“True. But, technically, there are no rules that specify that a requirement for a steward. It was a touchy issue. What tipped the scales in favor of Princess Amelia was the fact that the instigators of the protest movement, which wasn’t too big, actually, – not even eight-eights of eight – the instigators were unmasked as Detterex spies! And the when the Keeper of the Heritage weighed in on the subject and endorsed the princess, well, from there, the tide of opinion of the few that were still against it was reversed.”
“So it was clear sailing for the her investiture, then?”
“Yes. But there is, however, a problem. After several months, it seems that there has been no trace of the real Princess Mara, and the other missing members of the Dorian-Kerr royal family could not be found as well. It is a general opinion among the Peerage that they have either been assassinated or are in hiding, and they will not be found, so there are rumors that the Peerage is considering establishing a new royal line for the Northern Territory, and you know how difficult that would be.”
“Actually, no. What do you mean?”
“Well, imagine if one of the other royal lines would, in effect, inherit the Northern Kingdom, which is, after all, the second most powerful among all Elyran kingdoms and colonies. The Royal Peerage would have to debate who among them could truly act in the interest of the Northern Kingdom’s subjects, and renounce any ties or claims to their current lineages. Which could be an endless debate. And ultimately, whoever that person is, she and her new line would also need to be vetted by their subjects, too.”
“Speaking as an Earther, I find this a little unusual. I would have assumed that the queen makes all the rules.”
Jem laughed. “Yes, I have heard Earthers say the same thing. I was told by Ben…”
“Ben? You know Dr. Ben Tevann-Areeya? Wow!”
Jem grinned. “Yes. Anyway, Ben said that there are precedents even in your Earth. They’re called ‘constitutional monarchies,’ like your own Great Britain…”
“I doubt Queen Margaret is like the Princess Tasha…”
“Well, true, they’re not exactly the same, nor is the government of Great Britain exactly like Elyra.”
“But, I imagine this thing, this appointment of a steward, has happened before. How was it handled in the past?”
“Actually, it hasn’t happened anytime in modern recorded history. Only in legend, I guess you could say.”
“Well. Anyway, in the meantime, let’s get back to our coverage. Let’s go back to our senior correspondent and Elyran bureau chief Danni Sawyer. Come in, Danni.”
“Thank you, Bryan. I’m Danni Sawyer, and I’m back for the continuation of BBC Solar’s galaxy-wide coverage of Lady Amelia’s investiture ceremony.
“Nestled among these beautiful, majestic snow-covered mountains of Elyra Prime’s Northern Kingdom is the Alwahri Taryn Eloisha Seraphim, or the Burning Castle in the Sky, the home of the Northern Kingdom’s ruling family and the kingdom’s seat of government.
“The Seraphim has been the seat of government of the Northern Kingdom for thousands of millennia, and has played host to so many momentous events of the race. Today has been another one of them, where an alien - a Earther - actually ascends as steward to the throne of a great Elyran kingdom.
“The investiture rites, as it is called, has actually been completed, administered by the High Holy Bishop of the Church of Elyra, and everyone is just awaiting the final portion of the event, which is the ceremonial hanging of the official portrait of the investiture in what has been called the Hall of Portraits. We have Kathy Courik from our Elyran bureau standing by there. Come in, Kathy.”
“Thank you, Danni,” Kathy said as her camera went live. “I am here in the castle’s Hall of Portraits, which contains portraits and pictures of all the major events that have happened in the Northern Kingdom and to her people. It’s like the history of the planet documented in pictures. It’s quite incredible, really. It’s an enormous hall that, I am told has about 500 million square feet of space, containing over 900 million photographs and paintings. Some have said that there is at least one photograph or painting that documents at least one major event per year of Elyran recorded history. Unfortunately, many of them have, in fact, already succumbed to the ravages of time, and have had to be removed.”
“My goodness, Kathy!” Danni commented. “That sounds like an incredible sight!”
“Indeed it is, Danni,” Kathy commented. “The daily line of visitors outside is long and seemingly never-ending.”
“Have you had a chance to take a look around?”
“Not really, Danni. But I did see the hall’s latest and most popular exhibit.”
“Oh? What is it?”
“It was just installed a few weeks ago, actually. It’s the official portrait of the new Elyran Royal Family of the Elyran Race. Hold on and let me see if I can get a picture of it on screen. Here you go.”
“That is a wonderful portrait of the new queen-to-be and her royal consorts.”
“Yes, it is, isn’t it? In the middle is, of course, Crown Princess Tasha Liaran-Kerr, who will ascend the throne of the Great Plains Territory, and, simultaneously the Throne of All Elyra once the period of mourning for the queen is over. To her right, in her trademark Alice band or headband is the Lady Sahsha Liaran-Kerr-Delyer, the former Sahsha Delyer, a human, and the main liaison officer of the United Nations to Elyra, and the long-time girlfriend of Admiral Amelia Steele, who was also the former Dr. William Steele, the famous scientist who discovered Phase-Wave. Here, Lady Amelia is wearing a tiara which, as many of my Elyran friends say, is the current fashion among the royals in the Great Plains kingdom.”
“Hi, Kathy, this is Bryan. The three ladies are married to each other, right? Can you elaborate on that?”
“Hi, Bryan. Yes, the three are married to each other, which is unusual in Elyran society, but not unheard of. It seems that the three are what are known as bridges to each other, what that means is something I am not clear about. They became so because, I hear, the two Earth women were able to rescue Princess Tasha from suicide following the death of her husband, Prince Ren Tevann-Reshanii.
“However, because of prevailing laws, the marriage isn’t officially recognized on Earth. As far as Earth law is concerned, only the marriage between Lady Amelia and Lady Sahsha is official.”
“Must make for a complicated kind of relationship, huh?”
Kathy giggled. “I wouldn’t know, Bryan.”
“So, Kathy,” Danni said, “any word yet on when the portrait will be coming.”
“I am told that a floater has just landed on the castle’s roof deck. I think that’s from the laboratory assigned to print and mount the new portrait. If I’m right we can expect the hall’s newest exhibit to be on display within the next half hour.”
“That’s good to know. We’ll be standing by. Unfortunately, it’s started to snow here. I think I’ll get inside now, and turn it back over to the guys. Bryan?”
“Thank you, Kathy and Danni,” Bryan said. “While we wait, perhaps we can talk to a few other people and find out how all this got started. Jem?”
“Thank you, Bryan,” Jem answered. “On the line with us now is Lady Reena, Ship’s Mistress of the flagship Talon. My Lady, are you there?”
“Yes, Mr. Seacrest,” Reena said. “I hear you.”
“Thank you for giving us a few minutes of your valuable time, and for going on the air.”
“Not at all.”
“Do you mind if we ask you where you are now, Lady Reena?”
“Well, I am currently onboard the Great Plains flagship, the Talon. She is also part of EarthForce’s Fifth Fleet. It is my honor to be the mistress onboard the Talon. Currently, we are in orbit around Detterex Prime. The Talon is part of the blockade around the planet, to enforce the terms of the conditional surrender of the Detterex to the Galactic Federation. But our tour of duty will be done in a few days. We are not expected to be back here until our next rotation, which is in another six Earth months.”
“I believe Lady Amelia is also your superior officer, am I right?”
“Indeed. I and my crew are part of Earth’s Fifth Fleet, as well as part of Elyra’s Royal Space Force. Therefore, Princess Amelia is our superior officer since she is also the commanding officer of the Fifth Fleet.”
“While we wait, would it be all right if you help us recount how all of this began, My Lady?”
“It shall be my honor.”
“So. When did it all begin for you, My Lady.”
“Well, for me, it all began a few years ago, when the entire Elyran system was blanketed by that signal from Earth.”
“Yes! I remember that. All the radio and communications systems of all the Elyran planets were switched off, and it took hours to restore them.”
“As it was throughout the entire Federation, as well as the Tiros and Detterex empires.”
“Indeed. So, tell us what happened.”
“After that message from the then-unknown Human Race, meetings were held on Elyra and in Colossus, where the Elyran, Dixx and Arachnian nations decided on sending an expedition to Earth, to get a ‘lay of the land,’ as Earthers might say, and invite them to our mother worlds and to Colossus, and possibly enter into an alliance with them. So the Talon and several other ships from Elyra, Dixx and Arachnia were sent.
“However, at the time, the Detterex and Tirosians had the same plan. The incredible coincidence of their arrival in Earth System at the same time as us seems explainable now. Obviously the Detterex spies – it might even have been the in-disguise Princess Mara – had leaked our plans to the enemy. In any case, after an incredible battle that ended with massive losses to both us and the enemy, we continued on to Earth.”
“Was it an easy trip from then on?”
“Well, it was a very long trip - over an Earth month, almost two. Apparently, the Earthers were bending over backwards to accommodate the slow speed of our spacecraft. But we were quite busy during that time, so we weren’t bored. By using Earth’s Phase-Wave, we were able to do a lot of work. Treaties, agreements, contracts and all of the diplomatic work the Prince and the other leaders were expecting to do down on Earth were done onboard so that by the time we arrived, there would be a minimum of discussions and negotiations.”
“Did it go well from then on?”
“Well, no. The remaining Detterex and Tiros forces were making their plans to intercept us and stop us from making planetfall on Earth. Captain O’Connell and her crews decided to intercept them near Saturn. I was not there myself but it was indeed one of the more legendary of space battles. The tactics used by Princess Amelia and Captain O’Connell during that battle engagement in fact inspired many of the new battle tactics that are now taught during academy training for pilots. That battle engagement is now referred to the ‘Battle of Saturn’ by academy trainees.”
“Jem,” Bryan said, “I think we have Captain Elizabeth O’Connell on the other line. Perhaps we can talk with her about that.”
“Okay, Bryan. Lady Reena, our thanks for your time.”
“As the Earthers say, ‘not a problem,’ Jem. I’ve been watching your show, actually, and it’s a good show. Good luck.”
Jem grinned. “Many thanks, My Lady.”
“Okay,” Bryan said. “Let’s now go to Captain Elizabeth O’Connell onboard the EarthForce flagship Shepherd Moon. Captain O’Connell, are you there?”
“Good afternoon, Mr. Seacrest. I can hear you.”
“Good afternoon, Captain. I’m just going to confirm – you are currently onboard the Shepherd Moon, right?”
“Yes, I am.”
“What exactly is the Shepherd Moon, and where is it now?”
“The Shepherd Moon is DSC 05, the flagship of EarthForce’s Fifth Fleet, and is Admiral Steele’s Flag Carrier. We are actually in orbit above Elyra Prime now, waiting for the Admiral and her party. We’ll be bringing them to Colossus for a major conference that’s been called by the new Dravidian ambassador.”
“So you guys are playing taxi, huh?” Everyone laughed. “And Admiral Steele is…?”
“Yes, yes. Admiral Steele is actually Her Royal Highness, Princess Amelia Catherine Liaran-Kerr-Steele, who is also Lady Amelia of the Sciollian Isles.”
“Whoa! Pretty heavy.”
O’Connell laughed. “Well, to me, she’s just my boss. I call her ‘Skipper.’”
Everyone chuckled. “Hope she doesn’t see this program, then, and hear you talking like that. But, by the sound, you like the Admiral.”
O’Connell nodded. “Oh, yes. I consider her a good friend, but more than that – I respect her. But she is my boss, like I said. So I try not to be too familiar.”
“I even heard that you acted as the ‘maid of honor’ for their wedding.”
“Yes, but under protest.”
“I didn’t like the bridesmaid dresses.”
“Well… anyway, we wanted to ask about the ‘Battle of Saturn.’ I hear that you had a major role in that.”
“Oh, God, yes!”
“Can you tell us about it?”
“Well, after the initial engagement with the enemy in what everyone now calls the ‘Battle of Pluto,’ we were on our way back to Earth. But several weeks into our return trip, we found that the enemy was on the way to intercept us. They had engaged a new technology that hid them from our detection systems, but we were able to detect them with Phase-Wave. They were going to barrel through the Saturn system so the Admiral decided to intercept.
“We played a kind of cat-and-mouse game, hiding from them using Saturn’s rings. It was crazy. The Seeker was playing like it was a submarine, hiding under the rings, and then coming out and rising like an old World War 2 boat to engage the enemy. I know that I won’t be doing anything like that in my career again. But I’m sure you can read the blow-by-blow of that battle in the Shepherd Moon chronicles.”
(note to reader: For the Saturn encounter, see Chapter 15 in Part 4 of “The Shepherd Moon” – Bobbi-C)
“So what happened afterwards?”
“Well, apparently, we hadn’t gotten all of the enemy, so there was yet another encounter over in Luna. There, we were able to get all of the enemy, and even captured the Detterex flagship, the Defiant. Then we proceeded to Earth. I’m sure you’ll want a blow-by-blow of the Moon encounter, but can you hold on? My people are calling me…”
“That’s all right, Captain. I’m sure you’re quite busy. We’ll let you go back to work.”
“Anytime, Bryan. Thanks.”
“So, who do we have next, Jem?”
“Well, Bryan,” Jem answered. “We have, standing by, Ambassador Nick Andros from the Earth Mission to Colossus, and Professor Jennifer Priestly of the CETI institute, and now a member of the Keeper of the Heritage. Ambassador? Professor? Are you there?”
“Good afternoon, Jem,” Jennifer answered. “How are you, today?”
“It’s a pleasure to be here today, although it’s pretty cold at the moment,” Nick said with a chuckle.
“Nick!” Jennifer Priestly exclaimed.
“What did I say?”
“You might hurt someone’s feelings,” she whispered.
Jem laughed, too. “Well, you’re in the Northern Kingdom, after all,” he said. “Be glad it’s the summer season.”
“You two are some of Lady Amelia’s closest friends, I’m told,” Bryan said.
Nick laughed. “Sure. We’ve known her when she was just plain old ‘Mia.’ Now, with this investiture thing, she’s going to be more insufferable than usual.”
Jennifer shook her head. “Ignore Nick, guys. He always does this.”
“Does what?” Jem asked.
“Embarrass people.” Everyone laughed.
“Well, while we have you here,” Bryan said, “we’d like to ask you a few questions. We were just talking to Captain Elizabeth O’Connell, and she was talking about the arrival of the Federation expedition on Earth.”
Nick nodded. “You mean, after the moon encounter? When the Lunar guys beached the Detterex ship, Defiant?”
“Well, I’m sure you remember. We escorted the five remaining Federation ships back to New York, and then to the United Nations. And the Secretary-General made that famous speech of hers…”
“And the events of those days set the tone for everything else that happened afterwards,” Jennifer said. “The treaties and everything else. But more than that, it’s started the integration of Humanity into the rest of the galaxy.”
“Speaking as an Elyran,” Jem said, “the changes since you Earthers came onto the scene have changed the galaxy enormously. How has it changed things for you? Professor?”
“As a sociologist, knowing for a fact that there are other people out in the universe changes a society fundamentally. And actually seeing them and interacting with them, even more so. And with the opening of the Federation embassies in the Sciollian Isles meant that there would be a constant presence of, pardon my choice of words, Jem, - a constant presence of aliens on the planet. We can only expect that we Earthpeople will change even more.”
After a moment of silence, Nick chuckled. “Very deep Jenn,” he said, trying to break the seriousness. “This girl can’t leave work at the office.”
After a short chuckle, Bryan continued the interview.
“Talking about the Federation embassies,” Bryan said, “I hear it’s a pretty elaborate place, and very high tech.”
“Well, yes,” Nick said. “It is. Though almost all the members of the Federation have the same kind of requirements we do, there are some specific needs that they have to take care of, hence all the high tech machinery.”
“I've heard it’s a wonderful place, too,” Jem said. “My cousin is part of the Elyran Mission to the United Nations, and he gets to spend a lot of time there in the Isles of Scilly. He said…” Jem paused when everyone started to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, nothing, Jem,” Nick said. “We Earthers find the name ‘Scilly’ funny.”
“Well… all right…”
“I’ll explain later, Jem,” Bryan said. “Hey, here’s something interesting. I’m reading through my briefing memos and it says here that Lady Amelia owns the Isles of Scilly. What a coincidence!”
Nick laughed. “Hardly. The way I understood it from the queen…”
“The queen of Elyra?” Jem asked.
“No, no! I mean Queen Margaret II, the queen of England!”
“Ahhh! I apologize. So what did Queen Margaret say?”
“She said that Lady Amelia specifically donated the islands to the world government, specifically for use by the Federation. She said that the islands were not being used much anyway, and she said it was her way of helping.”
“How does the queen know Lady Amelia?”
“Well, Lady Amelia is the Duchess of the Isles of Scilly, and is a subject of the Queen. That’s why she has the title of Lady Amelia.”
“By the way,” Jennifer said, “the Duchess prefers that her duchy be called the ‘Sciollian Isles.’”
“Hmmm,” Jem said. “You really have to explain that thing about the name soon, Bryan.”
“Never fear, my friend,” Bryan said.
“Well, what are the Sciollian Isles, Nick?”
“It’s a small archipelago of about thirteen main islands plus about forty-five islets, located southwest of Cornwall, making the islands the southernmost part of the UK. Of the thirteen main islands, Lady Amelia has given the Federation a long-term lease on twelve of them, so that they can have a permanent presence on the planet for their embassies.”
“Ahhh. What are the names of these islands?”
“There’s Saint Mary’s, Tresco, Saint Martin’s, Saint Agnes, Saint Helen’s, Bryher, White Island, Gugh, Gwael, Samson, Annet, Tean, and Great Ganilly. There are about forty-five islets, but they’re nothing but little rocks. Lady Amelia is leasing all the main islands to the Federation except for Saint Mary’s. She’s keeping that for herself. That gives the Federation a total of sixteen square kilometers, not counting the several dozen square kilometers of open sea surrounding them.”
“Haven’t been there myself, but I’ve been told that the islands are very picturesque.”
“It’s good that the Federation has a permanent home on Earth,” Jennifer said. “It’s the least we can do, after they’ve given us Gibraltar Base.”
“Isn’t Gibraltar Base the Earth’s outpost on Colossus?” Jem asked.
“Well,” Nick said, “not on Colossus, but on the nearby planet, Zeos Three.”
“I believe the establishment of Gibraltar was immediately after that battle near Colossus,” Bryan said, “when the station was almost totaled by a near-miss of a runaway Detterex cruiser.”
“Yes,” Jem said. “That was a story for the ages!”
“Hold on, hold on, my dear co-host,” Bryan said. “Let’s not get side-tracked. We still have other people to interview.”
“Oops! You’re absolutely right, Bryan. Apologies.”
“No worries. Thank you Ambassador, Professor. Let’s move on to some other luminaries out there in the front gardens of the northern kingdom’s castle. Who do we have on-line, Jem?”
“Actually, Bryan, Danni was able to catch someone just outside of the castle grounds. Danni? Who did you see?”
“Hi, Jem, this is Danni. I’m just outside the castle’s main gate, and I bumped into Dr. Ben Tevann-Areeya. He’s here outside apparently waiting for a cab. Doctor? Good afternoon. I’m Danni Sawyer, with the Earth press corps. We’re covering the event for BBC Solar. Can I ask for a few words for our televiewers?”
“Good afternoon, Ms Sawyer,” Ben said. “What can I do for you?”
“What are you doing out here by the curb, sir? Are you leaving?”
“I’m afraid so. I’m just waiting for the royal limousine.”
“But, sir, the portrait hasn’t arrived yet. Don’t you want to see the portrait?”
“I do, but I have been instructed by my liege to take care of some matters, to prepare for her meeting at Colossus.”
“Ahhh. You were just appointed as Lady Amelia’s chief of staff, were you not?”
“Just this morning, actually…”
“And you’re already hard at work…”
Ben giggled. “That’s life with Princess Amelia. But it’s important work. I’m honored to be relied upon by Princess Amelia in such important matters. Ahhh. Here’s the car. If you’ll excuse me…”
“Of course, sir. Well, that’s too bad, Jem. Just missed talking with Dr. Ben Tevann-Areeya. He’s a very busy man.”
“I’m not surprised, Danni. But that’s all right. We have on the line someone else that our viewers will definitely recognize. It’s Queen Margaret II of the United Kingdom of Earth, and her husband, Prince Stephen. Good afternoon, Your Royal Highness.”
“Good afternoon, Jem,” the queen replied. “You really are as gorgeous as they say you are.” The companion beside her moaned and covered his eyes.
“Oh, shut up, Stevie,” she said, and elbowed her companion. She leaned towards the camera. “What use is it to bring along your husband if you don’t get to embarrass him on TV,” she mock-whispered conspiratorially, and giggled.
“So what can we do for you this fine, crisp and snowy day?”
Jem giggled. “Your Royal Highness never fails to delight. Well, we just wondered how this will affect the duties of Princess Amelia in the Commonwealth, given that she’s now the steward of the Northern Kingdom.”
The queen shrugged. “Well, it’s not like we’ll miss Mia in Westminster. She has not been attending to her duties in the House of Lords, but it’s understandable. She’s the busiest person I know. I believe she is on extended leave from the House, but she’s promised me that she’ll come back if her peers ask her to, especially during the important votes.”
“That’s unusual, isn’t it?” Bryan said.
“Mia’s an unusual girl,” the queen said. “But she is one of the few people who have the full support of the public. So they gave her special dispensation by way of a parliamentary act, so she can be away and send her votes in via Phase-Wave.”
“So, how do you feel about one of your subjects wielding as much power as you, Your Majesty,” Bryan said in a conspiratorial tone. “Heheheheh.”
The queen giggled. “Well, all I ask is that I’m allowed to visit the castle grounds as often as I want.” Her expression turned serious. “But I guess what you are asking is if there’s any kind of conflict of interest, whether she’s representing the interests of Humanity, or of Elyra. It is a very tough dilemma. The Prime Minister and myself have been in discussions about it with Admiral Silverman and the Joint Chiefs as well as the Secretary-General and her chief-of-staff. But, you know? In typical Mia fashion, Mia anticipated this and has filed her resignation from the House, from EarthForce, from the Foreign Affairs Office and from CETI. And while she is waiting for that to push through, she simultaneously filed leaves from the House, from the Foreign Affairs Office, from EarthForce, and from CETI as well.
“She has even given myself, the Secretary-General and the Admiral a very heartfelt letter, explaining that she was a loyal Terran citizen, but she needs to do this for our Elyran friends. This way, if she resigns, no one can accuse her of any conflict, and if need be, she can renounce her citizenship. She said she hoped that would not be necessary, but she is offering it just the same.”
Bryan and Jem were in shock.
“I am not joking, Bryan.”
“This is breaking news!”
“Perhaps it is, but let us not give undue attention to this alright? Not until after, all right? Mia deserves this, after what she has given all of us – it’s the least we can do. Hold off on any follow-ups until tonight. It is the only decent thing to do. All right?”
Bryan and Jem looked at each other.
“I don’t…” Bryan said.
“Oh, Bryan,” Jem said. “Your journalistic ethics aren’t in question. We’ve broken the news already. Her Majesty has given us the news and we’ve told the public. Let’s not ruin this day for Princess Amelia. Just for this day.”
Bryan looked at Jem. “Okay, Jem.”
Bryan turned to face the camera. “Okay, folks. This is a major piece of news. You’ve heard it here first. Lady Amelia has filed for resignation from the House of Peers in the British Parliament, the Foreign Service, from the CETI Institute and from EarthForce. We’re not dropping this breaking news item, we’re just postponing the follow-up. Let’s finish today, and we’ll come back to this immediately after.
“Anyway, we’ve just heard from Kathy Courik that the portrait has arrived. Kathy? What’s happening over there?”
“Thank you, Bryan,” Kathy said to the camera. “I am still here in the castle’s enormous Hall of Portraits. The officials from the castle have come and gone, and they have already hung the portrait of ‘Princess Amelia of Earth, Steward of the Northern Kingdom,’ as it has been labeled. Let’s see if I can get through and get everyone a picture… Excuse me, please. Pardon me. Pardon…
“Ahhh, here you go. My goodness! It’s enormous. And it’s so beautiful!”
“Wow, Kathy!” Bryan said. “That’s so beautiful.”
“Indeed,” Jem said. “You see Princess Amelia wearing a robe in the royal colors of the Northern Kingdom – royal blue, silver and white. In her hands, she carries the Crystal Staff, which symbolizes the power she wields as the kingdom’s ruler or steward, showing that she is the highest authority in the land. Notice that she isn’t wearing a crown. That symbolizes the fact that she is not the queen – that she is just the Steward of the Realm.
“You know, Bryan, I had the pleasure of meeting her, Princess Tasha and the Lady Sahsha a few years ago during an interview. It’s like she hasn’t aged, except her hair was quite shorter then.”
“What’s that jewel that the Bishop is placing around her neck?” Bryan asked.
“That’s the Blue Heart, a Type IIb diamond that’s about four inches across, and symbolizes that she is the rightful ruler of the land. By putting the Blue Heart around her neck, the High Holy Bishop of the Church of Elyra is officially declaring Lady Amelia’s new title, and invalidating all the claims of any claimants to the Throne. It’s quite a moving ritual.”
“Let’s break away from Danni for a moment. We have Ambassador Fal of the First Colony of Elyra, accompanied by her husband Micah. Ambassador, are you there?”
“Yes, Bryan, I’m here,” Ambassador Fal replied.
“Have you seen the portrait yet, Ambassador?”
“Not yet. The crush of people…”
“Yes, Kathy had some trouble getting through herself. Anyway, Jem was telling me about the meaning of this investiture. Can you add some more information?”
“Well, Bryan,” she began. “I am, myself, not part of the Peerage, so I know a little bit about this. I am not a Royal, but I was selected by my liege to represent the First Colony in council, and, on occasion, at the Federation Assembly in Colossus. Similar to Princess Amelia, I had my own investiture. The difference is that Princess Amelia is royal by marriage.
“Being declared as a Steward means you have all the powers, duties, privileges and responsibilities of the queen, really. The only things you won’t have are the power of granting royal warrants of appointment to the royal court, granting royal and noble ranks, bequeathing royal properties, monies and perquisites not part of the business of the throne, and, of course none of your forbears or assignees may inherit the stewardship without an investiture of their own. And, of course, if the legitimate heir to the throne has been identified by the Peerage, and has been declared as ready, you would need to relinquish your stewardship.”
“So,” Bryan, “to me, that sounds like Lady Amelia is the princess or queen, except in name.”
“Exactly correct, Bryan.”
“So, what does that make her title now? She cannot claim any royal title…”
“Aha!” Jem said. “That’s where you’re wrong, Bryan. Princess Amelia was officially already a royal, even before the investiture, so by that, she should have been addressed like a royal princess regardless of her investiture.”
“So, I shouldn’t have been calling her Lady Amelia?”
“Ambassador? What do you think?”
“Jem is correct.”
“Uh-oh… So what is Princess Amelia’s official title, anyway?”
“Hold on, Bryan,” Jem said. “Let me look at my notes. Let’s see… alright – the Princess’ official title is…
“Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Amelia Catherine Liaran-Kerr-Steele of Elyra Prime and the Elyran Great Plains, Steward of the Northern Kingdom, Duchess of the Sciollian Isles of Earth, Keeper of the Messiah’s Torch, Admiral of the Fifth Fleet of Earth and High Admiral of the Elyran Defense Force, Lord-Defender of Arachnia and the Daemon Territories, Friend of All Detterex, Lord and Master of New Gibraltar, Director-General Emeritus of the CETI Institute, and permanent ambassador of the United Nations of Earth to the Galactic Federation of Free Races.”
“Wow – that’s a lot to remember!”
“Well, for short, you just address her ‘Your Highness,’ and informally call her ‘Princess Amelia.’”
“As opposed to?”
“Well, if you’re part of EarthForce, I suppose you address her as ‘Lord Admiral Steele,’ or perhaps just ‘Admiral.’ I am not too familiar with Earther conventions. Or maybe just ‘My Lady,’ if you’re an Earther civilian.”
“Bryan?” The ambassador asked. “Would it be all right if Micah and I leave you now? The guests are being paged for the reception at the Great Hall…”
“Apologies, Ambassador. Thank you for your time. Jem, do we have others standing by?”
“Let’s check in with Danni. Danni, are you there?”
“Yes, I’m here, Jem. I’m here with Dame Antoinette Windsor. She’s part of the British royal family, and is a member of the House of Peers. Good afternoon, My Lady.”
“So, how did you find the unveiling of the portrait of the new steward?”
“Truth be told, I haven’t seen it yet. There are just too many people.”
“Too true. Do you mind me asking, My Lady, how you are related to Princess Amelia? How do you know her?”
“Again, truth be told, I only know of her by name and reputation. But I am quite proud to be here, and am quite happy for her.”
“You are part of the royal Windsor family, are you not, and a member of the House of Peers?”
“Yes, but only distantly. My father is the duke of Marlinspike Hall, in Marlinshire. I am like 562nd in line to the throne. I’m sorry. My own little guilty pride, I guess.” She giggled.
“What do you think of all of this pomp and pageantry?”
“Well, I am bowled over. I have never attended a coronation, excuse me, I mean an investiture, before, and on a different planet, too.”
“Well, I know that this is serious business, that the kingdom is currently leaderless, that this is something that they desperately need. I am just pleased to be a witness to it, and wish Lady Amelia well.”
“Well, thank you for speaking with us.”
“Danni, I see the delegation from Arachnia here on the monitor. Can you see if you can…”
- end -
Notice: The pictures and collages are from publicly-accessible pictures in the internet. The BBC logo is patterned after an old, unused and defunct logo of the BBC, and the BBC splash page is from a BBC newscast from the UK. No i.p. or copyright infringement is intended.
- Washington DC
- Mistress of Confusion
Bobbi Cabot is a transgender girl in her thirties (35 y.o. as of 2016), who transitioned in 2005. She is known as "Roberta J. Cabot," "Bobbie-C," "Bobbie," "Bobbi" and "Bobbi-C" in the sites where she posts her stories.
Though not a professional writer, Bobbi is under the delusion that she writes passably well and indulges this delusion by sometimes posting stories, which is, thankfully, very seldom.
Bobbi's day job (the phrase "day job" is hereby stressed) involves being the big cheese of the overseas BPO practice of a Top 100 computer technology corporation.