Chapter 13

The general opinion of Brightplain's Ministerial Offices was that Jasper Hellion had gone prematurely senile. He grinned, beamed, whooped and laughed his way through his working days in a manner that none of his colleagues had seen before. Only four other people shared Jasper's knowledge of Drea; his parents, Taybor and Maya. Maya had to be physically restrained by Cassidy from dashing off to the Crull border. In the end, she was distracted into staying put by being given the job of secretly arranging Jasper's wedding, along with Gidra.

"The western strip has closed in another sixty miles Jasper!" Chu waved a handful of papers at Jasper and laughed in delight. "The civilians are starting to settle in the other States and are already establishing businesses. The only hotspot is that pit in the middle."

"Which is now more tepid than hot." Jasper nodded as he read Andrew Jasper's report.

"He's all over it." Chu said in admiration. "He's really pulling out all the stops for this final pushover. He'll be hailed as a hero in thee Zones, Jasper."

"Ah well I wouldn't count on it. He's done more than his bit for Crull. It's my guess he'll blend into his surroundings and enjoy what he's achieved." Jasper said.

"You think? Shame really. I, for one, would love to meet the man." Chu replied.

"Actually, preserving his anonymity will make more of a hero of him than going public ever could." Jasper reasoned. "Everyone is individual, you see, so everyone has individual perceptions, and ideal heroes. Andrew represents so many ideals that everyone can identify with at least one of them. You'll remember his strategic genius. Seddit, out there, admires his bravery. Carlos admires his intelligence. My mother admires his tenacity. Taybor's wife admires his everything and threatens to leave Taybor and elope with him." Jasper laughed as he recalled Maria's words. Poor Taybor had almost choked. "We'll remember all these things in the way they were generated. Without a physical presence to influence us."

"I suppose so, yes." Chu nodded. "What about you? What do you admire in Andrew Jasper?"

"His surname and his appreciation of Brightplain gold." Jasper smiled and left his office for home.


Eight months had passed since Jasper's visit to Crull. Andrew's correspondences grew less and less as less and less needed corresponded. Business and trade links were establishing and growing between Crull and its two neighbours and buildings were being restored to their proper functions as schools, hospitals, and aid centers.

Jasper sat in his old rooms in Hellion Mansion and looked out over the frost covered gardens. He'd heard nothing from Andrew in two months.

"Uncle Jasper?" Taybor's nine year old daughter, Celia, was in there with him.

"I'm sorry, Precious, what did you say? I'm so rude, I wasn't paying attention." Jasper let Celia scramble up onto his lap.

"If Andrew Jasper tells the banks in Crull to keep the cost of lending out money low, then people will be able to start spending it. Sort of pushing the ecomnomy along a bit." Celia said.

"Well listen to you! You after a Minister job?" Jasper laughed.

"When I'm older, yes." Celia said seriously. "My dad says it's important to learn about these things, Uncle Jasper."

"And he's right." Jasper agreed.

"I don't know how he expects us to learn though. He made a squeaky noise when my mum said she wanted to go to school as a teacher."

"I bet he did." Jasper laughed. He thought Mezii would make a very good teacher.

"Maria likes to help ma'am Maya at the hospital so I could do that too. I'm not sure yet."

"Well we'll always need nurses, won't we? Goodness me, where would we be without them?" Jasper smiled at his neice.

"Why have you no wives, Uncle Jasper? I think you're very nice."

"Agh! Brat!" Taybor came striding into the room. "Nosey woman. Out." He grinned at his daughter and she launched herself at him in fits of giggles. "Come on, out of it. Your mother's looking for you with a hairbrush in her hand."

"No! She pulls it out!" Celia wailed.

"Well you'd better go find Maria first then." Taybor nodded and Celia darted out of the room. "Don't let her pester you, Jas. Kids ask awkward questions, I know."

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