Bodil relaxed… a little. Well, perhaps more than a little. It was a nice day. The countryside was beautiful, despite the lurking Auto-Cults. The car was air conditioned. Victor was charming, and he smelled nice. So, Bodil didn’t let little things bother her. Like that she was being driven to a place she didn’t know, to be among people she didn’t know to be a witness to something she knew nothing about.
They drove in silence for a while until Bodil realised that because Victor was her assigned ‘bodyguard’ he was technically working and therefore it was going to be up to her to initiate such conversation she wanted. And she wanted.
“Ute was telling me about the little gold pins you all wear.”
Victor shifted position in his seat. A movement that forced the tiniest of smiles to cross Bodil’s lips. Ask a student an awkward question and you often get the same exact fidget instead of an answer. She pushed a little further.
“She explained her own little badge and the other one, Alicia Troy’s, but she seemed reluctant to tell me about the little gold crescent you wear.”
“Mmmm. She said I should ask you.”
“Did she now?”
Victor continued to watch the road. What traffic there had been had all been going in the same direction they were travelling in, large box-vans mainly. Even with those, it was hardly enough of it to warrant Victor’s current intense attention to driving.
Bodil let a little sigh of frustration escape her lips.
Victor glanced at her.
“So are you going to tell me? Or should I just add it to the list of all the other things nobody talks about, or changes the subject from?”
Victor’s shoulders did the same exaggerated shrug as before.
“What’s to tell? The crescent is that of the Grand Mother’s security people.”
“But the Grand Mother died three hundred years ago.”
“Three hundred and six.” Victor finally took his eyes off the road and looked at Professor Hill. “But her sigil still demands respect among the Troy family and those who guard them.” He returned his eyes to the road. “What better symbol for the head of those whose job it is to protect all the Troys?”
“You mean Ellie?”
“Of course.” It was said with a degree of surprise.
“And you are her… what? Her elite? Her personal guard?”
“Elite?” Victor chuckled. “I must tell Gregor that. No, we are the last of the Grand Mother’s personal…“ He was about to say ‘personal guard.’ “… security team.”
Bodil smirked. Then what Victor had said sunk in.
“Wait. You mean that you, you personally, knew her, the Grand Mother.”
“Well, yes. And Gregor and one or two others.”
“Not really. It is a family thing. My father was present at the signing of the treaty at Los Alamos.”
Bodil stared at him. Not sure if he was joking or not. Her look must have shown her doubt.
“It’s true. You must visit my home one day. I’ll show you the photos.”
Now the professor knew Victor was joking. There was precisely one photograph known to exist of that historic event. This posed photograph, taken just after the signing, was ragged and creased and its colours were so badly faded that any attempt at computerised colour correction persisted in showing one of the bystanders to be dressed in bright canary yellow. Generally then, the photograph was displayed without any colour correction at all. Unfortunately, in the photo, the Grand Mother’s head is just a blur of blond hair as she seems to be turning away at the moment the picture was taken. Conjecture and even conspiracy theories persisted even to today as to who or what distracted her at that vital moment.
“Oh come on, Victor. I’m an archeologist and an historian. If there were any other pictures of the treaty signing, I’d know.”
Victor grinned at her, his eyes twinkling.
“Just as you say Professor.”
They both returned their attention to the sunlit road. Bodil risked a sideways glance at her driver. Victor was still smiling.