May 10th: Somewhere on the Red Sea...
The reflection of the moon shattered on the surface of the Red Sea. The ENS Happiness plowed the water, its flight-deck misty with salt-water. Emperor Sahle, wearing only pants, enjoyed this view as he pissed off the side. His head was liquor-numb, and he felt a warm sense of vague pleasure humming in his limbs. When he finished, he gave his sceptre a quick shake, and took a moment to drink in the night before stuffing it back into his pants and heading back.
The ENS Happiness was a second hand purchase, an aircraft carrier whose short deck caused an early end to its military career. Though it was assigned to the Emperor's Naval Service, it served no military function, and was used entirely for diplomatic purposes, or for joy rides. The flight deck was scattered with folding chairs, a stage, and a fully serviced bar, all out in the open air. At night, hours after the party had climaxed, the place looked like a tavern after a tornado ripped through, taking the walls and roof with it and leaving a disaster of broken bottles and tossed furniture. A few people remained behind, sleeping in chairs and passed out on the steel deck, but otherwise the place was deserted. Sahle shimmied through the mess and went below deck. He had ordered the corridors of the ship carpeted, but in the constant presence of booze, sick, and ocean water, the carpet produced a musty odor that sometimes made the Emperor second guess his decorative choices. Stringed lights were woven along the fixtures on the ceiling to back up the aging military issue bulbs, and the unique jags in the lighted strings gave each length of corridor its own unique look, making signs unnecessary for navigation for anybody who spent as much time as Sahle did in the old tub.
Shoeless, he walked quietly, and when he reached his door he opened it to avoid amplifying the annoying squeal its rusted hinges produced.
Inside his quarters, on a large water bed with red velour sheets, Beautrice, his woman for tonight, lay naked and waiting. She was at least a decade older than him, probably pushing forty, and gravity was starting to attack her body, but despite this she was still appealing. She wore a pearl necklace that rested against her pale European skin in a way that gave her a predatory sexiness, falling between her only barely deflated breasts and making them more of a focal point. A thick patch of brown bush sat between two hips that widened considerably with her ass pressed against the bed. Sahle liked what he saw, and needed no further prompting to get excited.
"It's a full moon. I think it's doing something to me..." he grinned, making a show of tearing off his pants, becoming as naked as her.
"Oooh, a wild man." she wiggled off the bed and got on her knees on the floor below. Her mouth did the work.
When she was done he carried her to the bed and dropped her, but just before she could pull him in after her, there was a clanging knock at the door.
"It's Reginald" a familiar nasally voice said from the other side.
"Mary mother of god." Sahle exclaimed under his breath. He hastily put on a velvet robe and went into the hall, knowing exactly who was there.
Reginald Heap was a middle aged Englishman from Rhodesia, with salt and pepper greased-back hair and a grey pencil mustache. He wore a velvet robe, clashing with his black socks and shined shoes, an ensemble which made him look older than he was, and possibly in the early stages of senility. He smiled toothily at Sahle. "Is she still in there?"
"Yes" Sahle said impatiently.
"Did she satisfy your desires, your majesty?" the Rhodesian was still smiling.
"What are you doing?! This isn't how you're... when I'm fucking your wife... You're not supposed to be happy about this." Sahle said.
"I don't mind." the Rhodesian answered slyly, "We have our duties. Diplomacy isn't all tea and biscuits."
Beautrice came out dressed. She kissed her husband on the cheek with a mouth Sahle was very familiar with. She looked up at him. "Are we done, your majesty?"
"We're done." Sahle waved them off. Reginald had effectively killed his vibe.
"The Rhodesian government will look forward to your support, your majesty." Reginald Heap replied, taking his wife in his arms. They pecked at each other like newlyweds. Sahle said nothing, watching the couple walk off into the darkness of the ships corridors, wondering how their minds worked. When they disappeared around a corner, he went above deck to get some fresh air.
Sahle liked the ocean. It was a taste he had acquired while touring Europe in his youth, spending a spring on the Riviera. He had discovered wine there at the fresh age of seventeen, and practiced what he already knew about women, perfecting his skills as he saw it. The ocean was fresh and impossibly open, a healthier place then the dusty mountains of Ethiopia. In his homeland, he never took a special liking to the outdoors, but when he was at sea, he relished any chance to be on deck.
He crossed the carcass of the night's party, moving toward the front of the flight deck. All that could be heard was snoring, the booming sea, and the whip-crack sounds of a nearby flag. He got a good look at the front when he rounded the stage, and he was startled to see the moon-backed silhouette of a European gentleman sitting in a folding chair not far from the edge where planes had once fell from the ship, their white-knuckle pilots hoping to rise up in flight.
"Hello." Sahle called out.
The man looked over. It was difficult to make out his face against the bright moonlight behind him, but Sahle recognized him when he spoke.
"Your Majesty." Rudolph von Lettow-Vorbeck greeted in German. Sahle pulled a folding chair from near the stage and joined Rudolph. The two men sat looking out at the sea.
Rudolph von Lettow-Vorbeck was the grandson of Paul von-Lettow-Vorbeck, the hero of German Africa. In the years after the first world war, his family had thrived as members of the very small white aristocracy of Tanganyika. Rudolph was a blonde haired youth, dressed always in the fashions of the European aristocrats, and he was a playboy of the kind that made him a natural friend to the Ethiopian Emperor. Though they were divided by race and culture of their birth, they were sewed together by a voracious love of pleasure.
"Have you ever met the Heaps?" Sahle asked, "Reginald and Beautrice?"
Rudolph chuckled. "Did you do the naughty thing with Mrs Heap?" he asked.
"Are you asking because you know me, or because you know them?"
"Both." The German looked out at the water. "I've heard the Heaps make that offer on all of Reginald's diplomatic missions."
"They want me to accept Rhodesian entrance into the congress." Sahle said, "I was going to accept them anyway, I don't care about what they do to Africans in their country. But they make poor racists if Beautrice's performance means anything."
"Eh, they aren't the poor, they don't actually care about Africans one way or another." though Sahle was an Emperor and Rudolph just a rich man, the later had a tendency to talk down to the former. Sahle didn't particularly care. "They are wealthy. That just means they don't like peasants." the German pulled a bloated cigarette out of a pocket inside his evening jacket. "I got this from one of the American musicians. I have to say, Americans are better at their narcotics then the French, its something I never realized until these American musicians started showing up. Want to share?"
Sahle nodded. Rudolph pulled a match from the same pocket and lit up. He took a long drag and passed it to Sahle.
"One thing I know." Sahle croaked, "Reginald wasn't making any sacrifices."
Rudolph laughed. "Oh no, he probably came three times in the nearest broom closet before you finished. Don't let them tell you otherwise, the Heaps are more hobbyists then diplomats. They might not be on an official mission."
Sahle took another drag. "I don't care, friend. I really don't. I had a girl, I made my country a friend, that is enough for me. I call that a day."
"May you have more days like this." Rudolph lifted his blunt into the air like a wineglass at a toast.
"I plan to." Sahle said.