< I’m having dinner,> Janie answered telepathically. <Can’t interrupt. Dad would kill me. You have to wait an hour!> This was weird, she thought. She never had strangers call her, but this woman was the fourth today. The other three had got her RadioBell number somehow and called by voice. Two were at least gamesmen, but that Vera Durand had been incredibly insistent, not to mention so arrogant she just assumed Janie knew who she was. Janie checked her mental shields again, carefully, just like Sunssword had taught her. You had to be really careless to take damage through a telepathic link, but it could be done. It would not be done to her, she told herself. Who was the woman? Not a senior gamesman she knew personally. Then she recognized: The woman was Krystal North, Captain-General of FedCorps, the American Persona League, and she had other people with her.
<This is the Washington, Federal District, and it’s important!> Krystal North said. Her annoyance showed through the mentalic link.
<This is Massachusetts, where America was founded,> Janie answered. <We’ve been here two thousand years. The world waits for Massachusetts.> Janie heard the echoes of another mind, someone older than Grandpa, chuckling at the exchange.
<Speaker of the House Ming wants to speak to your Dad,> North said. That remark came with another image, the Speaker in his scarlet robes and cape. <You’re in danger of being kidnapped. Again.>
<My apologies for interrupting,> Speaker Ming’s voice came though the link. <There’s a major national issue here. I need to ask you about City of Steel, and your move against Kurchatov.>
“Jane Caroline,” her father announced firmly, “We know you are a telepath, and so are some of your friends, but having them interrupt dinner with telepathy is as rude as answering a RadioBell while we are eating.” Patrick Augustus Wells almost never raised his voice, but his tone was completely clear to all three of his children.
<I’ll ask,> Janie said. <But Dad is going to kill me.>
“Daddy, that isn’t a friend,” Janie said. Her father raised his eyebrows. “Well, she’s friendly. You met her. That’s Krystal North, herself. You know, Krystal North, lead of the American Persona League. She was here two years ago. When Trisha and I got kidnapped. She wants me to forward a mentalic call to you, Daddy. The Speaker wants to talk to you. I had to get across: We’re having dinner. He has to wait. She said they’re in the Federal District. I said back we’re in Massachusetts, and that’s better. Two thousand years ago, Massachusetts created the American Republic. She was a bit stubborn. But I was more stubborn.”
“Speaker?” Patrick asked.
“Speaker of the House,” Janie said. “Speaker Ming. The top guy in Washington. He was polite about asking if he could interrupt dinner. He said it was important. I said I’d have to ask,” Janie answered. She decided not to mention that through her Krystal North, Speaker Ming, and whoever else was at the other end were still hearing the conversation. Her parents already had those looks on their faces.