Dave watched the three kids wandering off, then looked down at Qamar. “Want to bet Arno isn’t the one who rescued our alternate selves?”
“Nope. I won’t say it’s a sure thing; he’s got the dimensional ability. But does he have the initiative and nerve to do what the Whirlpool Oner Priests say he did?”
Dave grinned. “Just walk in a join their search? Hard to say. Some teenagers are completely oblivious to danger and do the damnedest things.”
“Speaking from experience, Dave?” Qamar grinned. “I, of course, have always been a model of sensible behavior.”
“Oh yes. Umaya’s told your father all about your sensible behavior. In between bragging about your academics.”
“Hmph! And you hear everything. For that, you’re going to have to dance with me.”
Dave checked that the commander was covered, then let Qamar lead him off to the dance floor.
Half an hour to midnight, the fireworks started. And ended at exactly midnight.
President Orde stepped up to a raised circle, tonight supplied with a podium and microphones. The potential candidates and party leaders moved up close. Traditionally, the party with the sitting president started the announcements. Dave grinned at the wave of comments swept the crowd as the Modernists were joined by the Strong Federalists in the circle.
“It’s with pleasure that I get to start the campaign season off with the announcement of the merging of the Modernists with the Strong Federalists. We’ll be filing the paperwork later today, forming the Modern Federalist Party.”
Another wave of comments, mostly hushed, in tones of dismay . . .
“And right now, two immediate contenders for the Presidency, Ugpw Withione St. John’s East Canada, and Izzo Withione Tanta Alcairo.”
Polite clapping as first Ugpw, and then Izzo stepped up and recited the official declaration.
No speeches tonight. Tomorrow it’ll be nothing but speeches as they all trot out their agendas and try out their stump speeches. The ones aimed at the whole Empire, as opposed to the ones that would take aim at the regional audiences.
They all walked off with pauses for shaking hands here and there.
The War Party took the circle, with three candidates. The Isolationists had two. Then the One First Party was next up with “The Crow” Ycrw Withione Volla Naples’ rolling out the declaration with his deep honeyed tones. It came close to a fist fight right there when Insa Withione Kubra Al Cairo stepped up and declared.
The microphone was fortunately not sensitive enough to have picked up the Crow’s hissed threat. But Dave caught it, and the through-the-teeth comment that he hadn’t resigned his Council seat.
Sneer. “Sent it just before midnight, to avoid exactly the sort of shit you’re going to be . . .” they were out of hearing range, and Dave shuddered at the thought of being the bodyguard of either man. Major Eppa said earlier that he would try to assign guards to people they like, so as to encourage vigilance. He’s going to have his hands full, there.
And . . . I’m presidential directorate, not Black Horse . . . so now that these guys are official candidates, I’ll be analyzing threats and hopefully seeing them coming in time to tell the bodyguards about it.
Then the Multitude Supreme Party . . . Diego Jesus Blanco Ramos had resigned his Council seat a week ago, and was apparently their only candidate here tonight. And the head of the Nativist Party, Ketzel of Falconhurst from Vista Colony stood up there alone to declre his candidacy. The last Party—the Pacifists—were fielding two candidates. Guur “Beautiful Flower” Neartuone Lana’I was the sole female candidate, and Oscu Withione Redrock Badlands from the Badlands Colony was the last candidate to declare.
Urfa stepped up to the mic to invite any independents to step up, and having no takers, thanked everyone for coming and invited them to stay for the last round of fireworks.
And tomorrow . . . later today . . . we get to work.
And a list of the candidates, wives and assigned princesses in case you want it to keep track.
The War Party: Afgu Withione Iztapalapa Azteca Qook Fiip
Yflo Withione Evreux Paris Joid(Jodi) Poix
Whlu Withone Jeromimos Madrid Swup Nyyk
Icto Withione Knysa Draken Ime Ciod
One First Party: Ycrw Withione Volla Naples (Councilman) Vaat Cuet
Insa Withione Kubra Al Cairo (Councilman) Qwof Teoz
Isolationists: Ovli Withione Tianjin Peking (Councilman) Powx Roug
Upzu Withione Long Island New York Vwex Like
Toag Withione Brisbane
Modern Federalists Izzo Withione Tanta Alcairo (Director) Xiat Gewz
Ugpw Withione St. John’s East Canada Toul Poyt
Multitude Supreme Diego Jesus Blanco Ramos(Councilman) Carmellina Boyf
Elias Mann [Carribean] Velva Kuyk
Valentin Burchett [Southern Africa] Gertie Dewn
Nativists Ketzel of Falconhurst [Vista Colony] Imperusa Siav
Pacifists Guur “Beautiful Flower” Neartuone Lana’i Piaf
Oscu Withione [Badlands Colony] Zwyg Baus
Independents Atty Neartuone Lenin Moscow Noup Quad
Wglo Clostuone Broadway Los Angles Luyc(Lucy) Maym