Castle Roland

The Art of War

by Ricky

In Progress

Chapter 1

Published: 16 Mar 17

The Art of War

Copyright 2016, 2017 by Ricky and the
Revolutions Universe Partnership
All Rights Reserved

Art of War Logo"For the first time in my life, I finally know what it feels like to be accepted for what I have done, not who I am." Arthur said softly as they walked away from Carson's room, then up the stairs.

"Yeah, but just think, now you get to use what you are, to help a lot of people you've met who have accepted you, helped you, and liked you for who you are, not what you can do for them." Euan said with a smile.

Arthur stopped and looked at his friend for a moment, before his face lit up. "You know, you're right." He turned heading up the steps to the Presidential floor and walked to the door where two Secret Service agents were already holding the door open. "Let's see what this fancy title of mine can actually do." Euan's countenance drew serious. "Arthur, it's not a fancy title. Not now especially. You are the King, and if you are not serious here, these bureaucrats will think they can bully you. You can't be a kid here; you have to put on the crown." Arthur just looked at Euan for a moment before his serious face broadened into a smile and he placed a hand on Euan's shoulder. "Thank you Euan, too right."

"It's my pleasure, Your Highness." Mike said sincerely as he quickly crossed the room to shake Arthur's hand.

"Mr. Vice President. Thank you very much for all you have done for us." Arthur said formally as he shook the man's hand.

"It's I that should be thanking you. We have heard about what you have done for the convoy, of course we didn't know who you were at the time." Mike said with a grin.

"I am just pleased to have been in the right place at the right time." Arthur said with a smile, then turned to Euan. "May I present my long-time friend, Euan MacDougall."

"It's a pleasure." Mike said as he shook the young man's hand.

"Mr. Vice President." Euan said formally, bowing his head ever so slightly. One thing that Euan had to know how to do was deal with important people. It went with the territory of being Arthur's best friend.

"If you two gentlemen will follow me, we are just about to start, although I will warn you, we have some rather unhappy people on the line." Mike said with a shake of his head.

"I fear that they are soon going to become even more unhappy. They do not know yet that I am here, correct?" Arthur asked as he followed Mike to where the video conference equipment was set up. He did make sure to stop just outside of the pickup range of the camera. Before sitting, Mike grinned at him and shook his head in answer to his question.

Mike had just sat down when the first of the screens came on with someone sitting behind a desk. Then another, until there were three people looking at Mike. "First, I want to thank all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to meet with me. I won't waste any of your time, so I'll just get right to the point. I have heard that the negotiations have stalled on the plan to open Canada's borders. I was just wondering if there was anything I could do to move the process along more quickly."

"It is not so much that the negotiations have stalled." One of them said quickly. "It is more that we simply do not have enough staff to process this many people in. The Prime Minister has made it clear that we are to help in any way we can, but we simply can not allow anyone and everyone to come waltzing across our border without knowing who they are."

"We have already requested more agents to help process people, but it will take time to get them to the crossing... currently, we only have a total of twelve agents there. They usually work eight hour shifts, but now are working twelve or more. As soon as we get more personnel, we can process your refugees through more quickly."

The second man, whom Mike knew to be the agent in charge of the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), just north of where Kettle Falls was said, "We also have the issue of what to do with them, once they get here." The final man said, "We simply do not have the resources yet to deal with that many people. We need to have food and clothing resources available, as well as a place to house them all. We have a few locations in mind, but nothing has been finalized as of yet."

"I see," Mike said as he sat back, carefully keeping a watch out of the corner of his eye to see if or when Arthur wanted to get involved. "Is there anything that we can do to speed up the process any?"

"Not really," The first man said with a shake of his head. "Please believe we are working as fast as we can, but it will be 24 to 48 hours before we are able to handle the numbers that you are speaking of."

Arthur shook his head and stepped into the camera's line of sight. "We simply do not have that long." He would have continued, but the gasps of shock from all three men stopped him.

"Your Majesty!" One of them gasped out.

The border patrol captain jumped to his feet. "Your Majesty, are you okay? You look to have been injured!"

"I am well. Thank you for your concern. I was in Chicago when these events started. It was due to the kindness of several of those refugees whom you are holding back that I am alive, and doing as well as I am," Arthur said simply, then brought himself up to his full height. "Now, We do understand your concerns, however, We do not have the time that you have said it will take. This facility is quite quickly filling up. The only option we have is for Canada to assist, and WE WILL." His use of the 'royal We' did not go unnoticed by anyone.

All three men started to try and speak at once, but Arthur held up his hand to stop them. Immediately, they all fell silent. There were several moments of silence as Arthur stood there thinking to himself; no one dared to interrupt the King as he was working through the problem. In his own mind, he was thinking to himself, 'What would my father have done?' Then he thought about his mother, Father Doherty, and even Carson and Bug. What would they do?

Finally he nodded to himself, than spoke. "We understand your concerns, but again, we do not have time to wait, so here is what We would like to see happen. First of all, food and clothing for all the refugees, that is easily handled, as we have the entire Commonwealth to call upon, and We will. Next, We understand about the need to know who is coming across the border, not just for security's sake, but also, so that families can be reunited once they get there. We already have a very good management program in place here to deal with that. We will make sure that you have access to that data, and that anyone who does come across the border can be accurately identified. It may take a small amount of time for that process to be put in place, so We shall take whatever steps are necessary to make it work. You may be assured of that. Here is what you WILL do.

"First, anyone who shows up at the border will be granted immediate entry, without having to stop. They may or may not have any ID with them any longer, as many of them had to flee with just the clothing they had on. Until such time as we have a system in place, these people will be escorted to the stadium in Calgary, where they will be housed, until we have proper identification for them. From there, they will be distributed to other locations as they become available. Please understand that We have made several friends amongst the refugees and We would be very displeased to find out that they were mistreated in any way. Is that understood?"

Arthur again paused to think for a moment, then spoke again. "We understand that this will put a strain on all of you, however, you must remember, you have not only the entire country behind you to help in any way that is needed, but you also have the resources of the entire Commonwealth. As soon as we are finished speaking, We will make sure the Prime Minister knows that you are to receive anything that you need to make this work. If you do not receive full cooperation from anyone, and I do mean anyone, We hereby authorize you to contact myself where you will find any and all roadblocks swiftly removed. Is this acceptable to you?"

The rest of the conversation did not take anywhere near as long as Arthur had imagined it would. Within fifteen minutes, all three men were off the line and working. Mike turned to Arthur with a huge grin. "Thank you, Your Majesty. You just did in twenty minutes what we have been trying to accomplish for the past two days."

"It was my pleasure, Mr. Vice President, Now though, I have to hope that Carson and Bug are as good as I think they are. They are, after all, the ones doing the real work, I am just glad I was able to help out in a small way." Arthur said with a bit of a blush. He really did not like to use his title and position in the way he had, but sometimes, he knew he needed to. Hopefully he would not have to do much more, but, of course, he knew better.

It was nearly an hour later when Arthur was able to sit back and relax. After the call with the border agents, he knew it was time to speak to his mother, and then, they, together, would speak to the Prime Minister of Canada.

The conversation with his mother went basically as he had expected it. Had he not known her better, he might have thought that she had not been worried, but he did see the moisture start to form in her eyes when she first saw his face. It was the same thing that formed in his. Yes, he could have gotten away with openly crying, after all, he was still a boy. With everything that had happened, he no longer felt he could claim that excuse, nor would he want to.

There was one thing that stuck out in his mind though, and that was when she allowed him to take the lead when speaking to the Prime Minister. At one point, the Prime Minister seemed to look at his mother as if to question what Arthur was saying. Before Arthur could respond, the Queen Regent made it very clear, "Your King just asked you to do something. I do not think it is appropriate to second guess him, do you?"

That single act showed not only the Prime Minister, but also Arthur himself, that she had confidence in what he was trying to do, and in the way he was doing it. She even allowed him some extra time to stay in Kettle Falls, saying that she could not get away to meet him until the next day. She then asked the Vice President if he would be willing to look after Arthur's safety until then. Of course Mike agreed, even smiling and saying that he would make sure that Arthur could not, 'slip away again'. Arthur could not help the blush that came to his face.

Eric walked into the room where Arthur and Euan were talking with his boys and the Anaheim group, teaching them how to talk on the radio. "Now, whatever you do…" Euan was saying with a grin, "DO NOT call anyone a 'good buddy' when you're talking to them."

"Why not." Little Danny asked, causing Eric to chuckle.

"Well, you see, in trucker talk, a 'good buddy' is something used to insult another trucker." Euan said carefully, not expecting one of the younger kids to speak up.

"But why, what's it mean." Scotty asked of his brother, causing Euan to blush and look to Arthur for help.

"Sorry, Euan, but you got yourself into this one…" Arthur said with a grin.

Euan shook his head then grinned. "Why don't you ask your fathers?"

"OH, NO!!!" Eric said while laughing. "You started this, you need to finish it."

"Fine! It's a male prostitute!"

"Eeeeeew!" All the little guys said, which just caused all the older people to laugh.

After the laughter died down, Eric sighed as he laid a hand on Arthur's shoulder. "I just wanted to let you know that your new protection detail will be landing shortly."

Arthur sighed heavily and nodded. "I knew this was coming."

"Yeah, I expected them here an hour ago." Euan said, as he tried to bring some levity to the situation.

"We are really going to miss you two young men," Eric said, his voice catching just the tiniest bit.

"Thanks, we will do our best to keep in touch, and if we can figure out a way to do it, perhaps we can find a way to get together after all this mess is straightened out." Arthur tried to sound positive, but they all knew it probably wouldn't happen.

The helicopter settled to the ground easily, the pilot quickly going about the shutdown procedures while the two occupants in the back sat there quietly. A uniformed military man ran up to the side of the helicopter and opened the door quickly, still the two sat unmoving. Finally, Euan looked over to his best friend and sighed. "It's time."

"Yeah, I know." Arthur sighed, then began undoing the safety straps that he had been wearing during the flight. When his feet hit the tarmac, he turned to make sure Euan got out okay, then turned to the small waiting crowd. His eyes quickly fell on the somewhat small, but still very imposing woman standing there. Part of him wanted to wilt, but another part of him said to stand up straight. It was that part that won out.

After a moment of hesitation, everything that he had gone through over the past several days came back to him. It still shocked him that it was only days, and not the months, that it felt like. He could not, would not, hang his head. Yes, things went wrong, horribly wrong, all because of the decisions he made, but from that moment till now, he had grown. Grown in ways that even HE did not fully appreciate yet. The first sign of that growth, unnoticed by others, was evidenced now. His head started to fall, then it stopped, held for a moment, as if by an invisible hand, then it raised up. He felt inside of himself something happen. Something that he could not describe at that moment, and would not be able to for a long time to come. But at that moment, Arthur refused to act like a boy. He squared his shoulders and began to walk toward his mother, the Queen Regent of the largest empire left on the planet.

Across the tarmac, Queen Regent Margaret Windsor stood there waiting. Only years of politics allowed her to keep her face impassive. Part of her wanted to run to her son, and pull him into a strong hug, never letting go. Then there was the other part of her; the part that was beyond furious with her son, King or not.

Never again did she want to get the call that her son had gone missing. That he had slipped away from his security detachment. They had tracked him to a yacht that was docked on Lake Michigan. By the time they had arrived there, though, the yacht had left. From there, they were able to find out that the yacht docked in Chicago. While the security teams were starting to hunt him down, the Civil War broke out. It took everything in her power to not send uniformed troops in to search for him.

She almost completely lost it when she found out that he had been attacked and mugged. The ruthless side of her smiled when she was told that the persons who had mugged her son and his friend had been found and... 'properly dealt with'. The fact that they had no idea that he was the King of the Commonwealth made no difference in her mind. However, even with how angry she was, she did not, and could not, miss the change in the boy that was now walking toward her.

When the security team finally caught up with Arthur, they reported everything they could find out about what had happened, and what Arthur had done, and was doing. She knew about the role he and Euan played in making sure that the convoy made it to Kettle Falls. She knew that Arthur often went hungry until he was sure the others were fed, went without sleep so they could help the rest of the people. She heard about his finally allowing his real title to be known, not to throw it around, nor making sure he got the best of everything, but instead so that the people in Kettle Falls could get the help they needed from the Canadian Government; help that she, herself, had demanded be given. Yes, she was indeed furious, but she was also proud. As Arthur stopped in front of her she no longer saw the boy who slipped away from his guards to go to a party, but an impressive young man that did all those things to help people he didn't even know. Of course, he would still feel the sharp side of her tongue for the stunt that he had pulled.

Arthur stopped in front of his mother, paused for a moment, then bowed. Euan, at his side, bowed just a bit lower than Arthur did. "Your Majesty." Arthur said while still bowing. He found it interesting how easily he slipped back into the formality that is the Royal Court, even after everything he'd been through. "I am happy to see that you are well, Mother." He said as he stood back up fully.

Queen Margaret nodded and smiled softly. "I am pleased to see that you made it through your adventure alive."

"It was an experience." Arthur said somewhat uncomfortably. He then turned and nodded to Euan's father. "Sir Durrell," he said in a way of greeting. Euan's father nodded, but said nothing. Arthur turned back to his mother and was shocked to see her moving toward him. Before he could react, she grasped him by the front of the shirt, and pulled him into her.

Arthur was still trying to grasp the fact that his mother was crushing him in a hug, on the tarmac, in the middle of an Air Force base when she spoke into his ear. "You will NEVER do something like this to me again, do you understand?" The last time he had heard that sort of emotion in her voice was shortly after they got word that his older brothers had been killed. It was not something that he wanted to hear in her voice ever again.

"I truly am sorry, Mother." He said simply, trying to keep his own emotions in check. But his eyes told her he was sincere.

She pushed him back slightly, and spoke with the soft gentle tones of a mother. "No matter what else happens, know that I am proud of what you have done." Her voice stiffened again as she spoke a bit louder and back fully in her role as the Queen Regent. "While I will speak with you about leaving your guards, know that I am so very proud of my son, our future King, for what he has done." He couldn't help it, the tears started to fall down his cheeks.

She smiled softly, reached up, and used her thumbs to wipe the tears away. Then leaned in and hugged him once more. When she broke the hug this time, she held him at arm's length and smiled. "They have been kind enough to have a lounge prepared for us while we wait for the plane to be ready, let us retire there." Queen Margaret said as she turned and started to walk. Arthur looked around to see who had witnessed the break in formality, but saw that everyone, including Euan and his father were strategically looking elsewhere.

"Shall we?" He said to the others in the small group. They all looked at him, and nodded, Euan smiling gently to his best friend, before they all followed the queen into the small building next to where the helicopter had landed.

Once inside, Queen Margaret pointed to two suitcases that were sitting off to the side. "There are some new clothes for each of you, and there is a shower in the facility behind that door," she said simply. To most, it sounded like she was simply letting them know, but to those who knew her well, she was giving them an order. Arthur looked down at the clothes he was wearing, and for the first time remembered that he was still wearing the clothes he had been given from the shelter.

"Thank you, Mother." Arthur said with a smile as he and Euan went over, grabbed the suitcases, then went into the restroom that was right there. Neither boy missed the fact that as soon as they entered, a guard quickly moved to stand in front of the door.

Once the door shut, Euan softly whistled. "Boy... your mom is angry!" He said softly.

"Yeah... Royally!" Was Arthur's only reaction as he opened up his suitcase, and started to pull out what was inside.

No words passed between the two boys as they unashamedly stripped naked and showered together. The two of them were close enough to where this was not an issue. They had been showering together in school since they were eight, and there was no reason to change that now.

While they were dressing, Euan stopped and looked at Arthur. "What are you going to do?"

Arthur didn't have to ask about what. It was the only thing that he had been thinking about since the helicopter ride started. Arthur stopped dressing, turned to look at Euan with steely determination. "Great Britain WILL be helping our American allies. One way or the other, WE will be helping."

"You wished to see me, Mother?" Arthur said as he stepped into the onboard conference room. They had only stayed on the air base for a few hours before they took off again for London. During the time on the base, many things had been talked about, but nothing to do with the current situation. Queen Margaret and Durrell MacDougall, Euan's father, mostly spoke about Arthur's father.

"Yes." Queen Margaret said as she stood, which caused everyone that was sitting around the table to stand as well. She motioned for him to sit next to her. When he was in position, he waited, as was customary, until she sat. "While others disagree with me, I felt it would be best to get a firsthand accounting of the situation in the United States."

Arthur hid a sigh, as his mind scrambled to come up with what to say. He really did not like these sorts of meetings, and all the politics that came with them. Yes he was the King, and yes he had been trained to deal with political situations, almost since birth, but that did not mean he liked the doublespeak that almost always came with them.

Finally, after several moments of silence, he began to speak. "From everything that I was able to see, the people of the United States were caught almost completely unprepared for what happened. In my opinion, most of the people did not believe that a single man could do the things that were being done."

"How quickly they forget history. But then again, they do not have much history to call upon, so it should not come as a surprise." Lord Duncan said with a dismissive tone. He may have been one of the Foreign Relations Advisors to the queen, but he was also well known to not like the United States, and had, at times, even referred to it as 'The Colonies'.

Ignoring the comment, Arthur continued. "However, even as unprepared as they were, what I saw were people stepping up and doing everything they could to help their fellow citizens. There was absolutely no regard to whether they knew the person, what race they were, how old they were, or..." Arthur fixed his gaze directly on Lord Duncan as he spoke the next part. "… if they were of the same social class. What I saw was some of the best of humanity stepping up in the face of unprecedented challenges, challenges that would have made others break under the pressure."

He held Lord Duncan's gaze, until the man looked away before he continued. "They need help, of course. The group I was with made it from Chicago to a small town called Kettle Falls, in the state of Washington. When we arrived, we found that the town had been preparing, not just for us, but for anyone that could make it there. They were incredibly well organized, and EVERYONE pitched in. The thing that impressed me the most was the person that was primarily charged with organizing the entire effort. His name is Carson, and he is a year younger than I am."

"I find it very difficult to believe that a child could pull off such a feat." Lord Duncan snidely commented.

Arthur's gaze was cold as ice as he, again, met the man's gaze. "Are you saying that you doubt my veracity?"

The man paled as he wilted under the gaze. "Of... of course not, your Majesty. I... I am just not sure that you have all the information. Surely the lad's parents had a big hand in what he is credited for."

"Believe me... My good Earl of Berkshire..."

The fact that Arthur used his full title caused the man's face to go red, had anyone else used his title like that, the Lord would have protested, unfortunately, Arthur's title was just a bit higher than his. "Having spent time speaking to the people who live in Kettle Falls, as well as hearing how things got started, Carson is indeed the person who set almost everything up. Obviously he had help, however, if you ask anyone there, they will tell you without reservation who is in charge. It is not Mr. or Mrs. Brown, it IS Carson."

"That is consistent with the information that I have been given as well, from independent sources." Queen Margaret said very softly. Everyone that knew her, knew that the softer she spoke, the more angry she was. Lord Duncan realized this quickly, and decided that he would keep his mouth shut for the rest of the meeting, which lasted several hours.

Arthur had just stepped out of the shower when Euan walked into the room. Had it been almost anyone else, he would have covered up quickly, but once again, the close bond the two boys held had no room for modesty. "Your mother wishes to see us." The emphasis placed on the last word showed how surprised Euan was to be included in such a summons.

"I wonder what she would want to see both of us for. It's not like we have done anything wrong since we've been here." Arthur said as he quickly began to dress.

Euan's infectious smile crossed his face as he spoke. "It's not like we have had any chance."

Arthur stopped dressing and laughed. "Well, that is true. I am pretty sure that there was a guard in the shower with me, but he must have been very good at his job to not be seen."

Euan walked over and clapped Arthur on the shoulder, before lowering his voice to just above a whisper. "I know you too well, that was just your fantasy coming to life!" Arthur blushed heavily and moved to hit Euan in the shoulder, but the other boy was too quick and jumped back. After they both got done laughing, Euan shook his head. "Come on, it's best to not keep your mother waiting."

As they exited the room, neither one of them failed to notice the man that fell in right behind them. They were now in residence at Buckingham Palace, and security was as tight as ever. Thankfully this was something that both of them were used to, and without even really thinking about it, switched to topics that were not at all sensitive. For the five minutes it took to walk to the Queen's study, they had a gentle, but heated conversation about the most important topic to English boys... football.

Arthur stopped in front of the door to his mother's study and turned to Euan. "I am not sure where such fantasies come from, but Manchester United is unquestionably a much better team than Arsenal!" Before Euan could respond, Arthur knocked once on the door, waiting to be allowed entry.

"Come in." He heard from inside, and started to open the door. Before it opened all the way, Arthur turned his head and stuck his tongue out at Euan. Thankfully, both boys were able to school their reactions before the door was fully open, and the queen came into view. It was almost broken though when they both heard the guard, that had followed them, stifle a snicker.

"Thank you boys for coming." Queen Margaret said with a smile as both she and Euan's father stood up.

"Of course, Mother." Arthur said as he crossed the room and gently embraced her, kissing her on the cheek. She smiled back at him, and motioned for them to sit on the couch before retaking her own seat. Arthur was a bit surprised to see only his mother and Euan's father in the room, but was also pleased, as it meant he could relax, slightly, from the courtly manners he had to keep.

"How are you boys settling in?" She asked, and immediately Arthur knew this was going to be an interesting conversation. His mother was not one that beat around the bush, and for her to start the conversation off with what he was always told, by her, was 'dinner table' conversation, made him worry. "Have you had any ill effects from your 'adventure'?"

Now, Arthur was truly worried, and went into full 'political mode' as Euan liked to call it. Yes he may not like it, but he has had some of the best teachers in the world, and knew just how to switch mental tracks very quickly. His mind raced as he tried to figure out all the different permutations that his answer could bring. Finally he settled on one that was in the middle of his 'danger scale'. "Ill effects? I would have to say, no. However, I do find my mind drawn back to the people that we met on our trip. I often wonder how they are doing, and wishing I could have done more to help them."

"That is how it is when in the position we are in. There are so many needing our help, so much that we wish we could do, but we are only people." Queen Margaret said as she sat back in her chair, steepled her hands together in front of her.

"Perhaps that could be said of common people, but as I have heard my entire life, we are anything but common." Arthur said, leaning forward, intently gazing at his mother as he thought over what he wanted to say.

Euan, meanwhile, sat there fascinated. While he and his family were not politicians, his friendship with Arthur often allowed him to witness politics playing out. He and Arthur spoke many times about how much was said with body language, rather than words. He was now watching two masters spar. He did not know what the endgame was, and he was quite sure Arthur didn't know either, but both boys were well aware that a political sparring match was going on.

"Yes, that is true." Queen Margaret said, not moving from her relaxed position. "However, what is it that we could do, and I do not mean as a country, because you are well aware that we will do all we can, and more. What I mean is, what can 'we' do?" She asked the last question while motioning around the room, including all four of them.

Seamlessly, Durrell picked up her narrative. "We have just been informed by Commodore Chase of the HMS Illustrious Battle Group that the United States has been using Bermuda as an evacuation point. The Queen Regent was gracious enough to allow this, and we have started making plans to send all the aid they need, including one of our hospital ships, the HMS Succor. Right now, orders are being drafted to all the countries that look to you and the Queen Regent, to prepare as much aid and supplies as they can, so they can be sent not only to your Kettle Falls, but also to Bermuda."

Continuing immediately, Queen Margaret spoke. "I was thinking that it may be good to send someone down to Bermuda to oversee the relief effort. Someone who has experience in this sort of situation. My first thought is to send Lord Duncan. He has all the training needed, and is a good solid man."

Arthur almost cursed just at the mention of the man's name. He actually took a moment to frame his response, but also to make sure his disgust with the man did not show through. "While I am sure he is extremely qualified to head such an operation, I am not sure if his... disposition, would be consistent with what would be needed."

"Oh?" The Queen said while leaning forward intently. "How so?"

Biting back what he wanted to say, Arthur took a deep breath, and calmed himself down. "The person that needs to run this type of operation does not just need to be skilled in the methods of running it. Honestly, that is something that doesn't even need to be considered, since there are many, many people that can do that. No, the person to command this operation needs to be someone that actually understands what the people are going through. Really understands... that they have left almost everything, if not everything, behind. They are in a new place. They are almost completely powerless to help themselves, let alone others. They have no idea what is going to happen in the next hour, let alone the next week. must be someone that can not only empathize with them, but truly understand it."

Arthur got to his feet and started pacing, and Euan could barely hold his grin. While he might not be as well trained as Arthur was, he had one thing Arthur did not; worldly knowledge. Arthur had been pretty much sheltered his entire life, and while he was brilliant in certain areas, he did not understand some basic things. However, Euan had seen this side of Arthur before. Watching him jump to his feet and start to pace made Euan realize that something big was about to happen.

"No, Mother." Arthur said as he stopped for a moment and locked eyes with her. "With all due respect, Lord Duncan is not the right man to do this."

"Oh?" She asked, not showing any emotion. "Then, pray tell me, who is it that you believe would be the proper person for this assignment?"

Arthur's eyes never wavered from his mother's as he spoke a simple word. "Me."

The room was silent for almost a minute, before Queen Margaret sat back in her chair, her face was completely impassive. "Why?" She asked simply.

Arthur blew out the breath that he hadn't realized that he had been holding. 'At least she didn't say no right away...' he thought to himself. He began to pace again as he once again organized his thoughts. Finally, without stopping he began to speak. "I remember a long time ago, shortly after Father died..." He stopped by the window and looked out it as he spoke. "I was crying in bed, thinking about Father, and missing him fiercely. You came to my room, and sat on the edge of the bed. I threw my arms around you, and started screaming. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember I was cursing God for letting him die. You tried to tell me that he had died for our country. So I cursed the country. I so hated everyone for taking him away from us."

Arthur turned around and looked at his mother intently. Unshed tears lined his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. "Do you remember what you said to me?" Wordlessly, Queen Margaret shook her head, even though she knew full well what she had said.

"You told me that there are times when people need to make sacrifices. That people needed to have a strong person to look up to, and Father was that person. He was the King! His one and only duty, as he so often said, was to serve his people, and sometimes that service demanded a high price." He began to pace again, his voice soft but firm. "We live it every day, every word we speak must be perfect. Every movement we make has to be made as if we were on camera, since most times we are. We sacrifice our privacy so that the people may look at us, and see how we live. And we must live in a way that inspires them to be the best they can be. We must be the beacon they look to, to guide the way."

He fell silent as he continued to pace. No one else uttered a sound, mesmerized by the words he was speaking. Finally he took a deep breath, stopped his pacing, and again met the eyes of his mother. The pain and anger from a moment ago, now gone. "Mother, it must be me. True, there are other people who know how to run an operation of this size which I have no clue about. But what they lack that I have is the empathy, compassion and the public face. I know what these people are going through, I have seen it, and lived it. I know what it's like to wonder when I am going to eat again. To wonder when I am next going to be able to bathe, and if it will be warm water or ice cold. And most importantly, if I am going to survive after a missile streaked over our head. The only person who can truly be the one to run this operation, has to be someone that knows what the people are going through."

Hardly blinking, the two of them stared into each other's eyes. One seated, the other standing. There was no hostility in their eyes, but Arthur's held an intensity that she had only seen in one other person's eyes... her late husband's. She knew at that moment that Arthur would do what he felt was needed, and it would be a tremendous fight to stop him. One that she had no intention of fighting.

Finally she nodded her head. "Very well." She said as she stood up. "We will be leaving for Bermuda in the morning. I will be having a meeting with several people. Then I will be returning to oversee the transportation of the supplies that are needed. It will be your job to make sure that everyone gets what they need. Euan and his father will be joining you, as well as a large group of people who know what they are doing in this sort of situation. Listen to them, heed their advice, but understand, you are the one in charge. You are not just the figurehead in this, you are truly in charge. Sir Durrell will make sure that you do not make any serious errors, and he is the only one that has the authority to pull you to the side, and tell you what he thinks you should do. He was your father's aide de camp, and has agreed to be yours, for as long as you will have him."

Sir Durrell smiled and nodded, before the Queen Regent continued. "Now, please sit so that we may go over the preparations that have been already made, and then you need to pack."

It took everything Arthur had to not allow his jaw to drop at his mother's words. She had known the entire time that he was going to be the one to go, and he got played into being the one to fight for it. She truly was a master, and she just proved that he had a LOT more to learn.

"Would you care to explain what you mean?" Queen Margaret asked, her voice tinged with anger, the first emotion that she had shown during this entire conversation.

Arthur sat back in shock, thinking that he may have crossed the line. However, things inside him had changed. Normally just hearing that bit of anger would have sent him scurrying away, looking for some place to hide. But now, something inside of him rose up and refused to allow him to back down. He was still very respectful, nothing in him would ever let him be disrespectful to her, but he was now willing to stand up. "What I mean is this. What happened to me between Chicago and Kettle Falls needs to be addressed publicly and could easily be turned and used to our advantage."

Queen Margaret sat back looking introspective for a few moments, before nodding to Arthur to continue. 'Well, at least she didn't say no right away...' he thought to himself before he began to explain his line of thinking. "The one thing I have heard time and again is that I am still young. So what is expected of an adult member of the Royal Family is not expected of me, yet. I made an immature mistake; something that almost every child in the Empire could relate to. Every parent would look at it and shake their head thinking back to the things they did as a child. It would show that we are not perfect, that we can make mistakes just as easily as they can. To some, that may shake their confidence in us, yes, but frankly, I truly feel that to the rest, it will show them that we really are one of them."

Arthur took off pacing in the middle of his speech. No one bothered him as he paced, they just sat there waiting to see what else he was going to come up with. "Add onto that, we can show that the Americans did everything they could to help us, not even knowing who I was. Until we got to Kettle Falls there was only one person who recognized me. And he kept my secret. Now we are going to be asking the people of the Commonwealth to help the Americans. This is something that could easily be used to help them cope with what is going on. It would be the Commonwealth paying back the people that helped me."

"You do realize that this will push you out into the public view even more than you are now. There will be newscasters talking about you all the time. They will do what they can to get recordings of everything that happened while you were there, and other things that did not, just so they can degrade you." She stared at him hard for a few moments before continuing. "On the other hand, there will be people claiming that you are a hero for what you did. How noble and brave you acted even after the foolish stunt that put you in that place."

"Mother, they are already doing that now. The tabloids are blowing things out of proportion. So to that end I think we need to deal with this now, give the people the facts. I think once that is done, it will disarm them from creating anything too far from the truth. We know they can be quite creative. But I also think that doing this will show that I've matured from the events that brought me to this point in time. Up until this moment, I have been sheltered from the public eye and they have been given only what they have been fed from our press releases. If I'm to have any credibility in dealing with those much older than I am, then it must be shown that I am mature enough to address the current circumstances. And the public needs to stand behind me. They need to see that I am indeed capable of leading, even at such a young age." He paused for a moment before continuing. "Mother, I made a huge mistake. There is no getting around that. But to counter that, I need to show that we will adapt and correct our mistakes. I'm sure it won't be my last one. But if they see that I can rise to overcome my missteps, then they will see that when the chips are down, we will be there for them as well."

The Queen studied her son for a moment. Her face was neutral. A small smile formed on her countenance as she spoke. "You are choosing a difficult path." She paused again, "Right this moment I think your father would be very proud of you Arthur; as am I." She turned to her aide, "Tell the staff we will not be leaving in the morning as planned. We will delay one more day. Contact the BBC and ask them to send a senior correspondent and their camera crew for an interview with the King. We will do it here in one of the sitting rooms I think. Ask them to be here as early as needed for the interview to commence at one. Inform Bermuda of our change of plans as well as our security." The aide nodded and picked up her tablet and began messaging the appropriate people.

Queen Margaret looked at Durrell, "And your opinion?"

Durrell smiled, "It will cast a favorable light on his actions in Bermuda. He is helping to repay the people that helped him. It will help soften the blow to the rest of the Commonwealth." He paused as he looked right at Arthur. "Of course, if we are going to do this right, you are going to have to be very visible in Bermuda. Not just sitting in some office somewhere directing people, but out among the refugees. You will have almost no privacy during your time there, since we will need to show you out there, being 'one of the people' as you put it. So, my question is, do you really want to be in the spotlight this much?"

Arthur grimaced, "No. I don't. But what I want has little to do with what must be." He paused trying to compose his next sentence properly. "When I was faced with talking to the border facilities of Canada; who were dragging their feet because they were fearfully shackled in red tape, your son gave me a piece of wisdom that changed something inside me. He said, Arthur, it's time to put on the crown. It was at that moment that I knew I could no longer be a child. I had the responsibility to help humanity. And at that moment, I realized, I was the one that had to do that, there was no one else. Now my life belongs to the people. All the people, not just our subjects. But all the people who look to us in their time of dire need."

Durrell looked at Arthur with a proud smile before turning to look at Euan deadpanned and said. "You got that from him?"

The Queen, Arthur, and Euan laughed uproariously and even the aide covered her mouth covertly. But it was what was needed. It broke the solemnness of the situation. Euan blushed and tried to keep from laughing as well. Durrell pulled him into a hug. He whispered, "I am so very proud of you at this moment."

"Thank you Father," was all he said, but his heart swelled at the praise.

In private talks over the last few months, we (the RU authors and staff) convinced Ricky to write a story that continues the story line of our young King Arthur from MultiMappers' Metamophosis. It was a difficult task to convince him. Perhaps it was the water-boarding equipment we left in his room that one night.... However it happened, he consented and herewith is the first chapter of a new RU story.

If you liked this chapter, let Ricky know: Ricky

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