The Louvre was thankfully quiet once you broke away from the main wing, which led directly down to the Mona Lisa. With time and exposure, the painting had become even more famous and treasured. After a group of aliens had tried to steal it in 2889, the government had declared it a protected landmark. Humans and Aliens now flocked to see the painting.
“Just think Kam. We’ll be able to meet the man who made it. We’ll be able to ask him what the hell she’s smiling about,” Rain hissed as they made their way past the crowd.
Kamala didn’t say anything, too jumpy to engage in dialogue.
They slowly wound their way through the museum, the crowd gradually thinning, the farther they were from the main wing. The dimly lit building put Kam on edge, every person who walked by looked like a security person. Rain however didn’t even seem to noticed, moving with great deliberately through the rooms of art.
“It should be in this room,” she whispered to Kam, rounding a corner into another section.
It was immediately apparent which painting Rain was referring to, since it had a section of the western wall all to itself. In the dark room, the painting of the saint was even more striking, seeming to lean in out of darkness of the canvas. Despite the age, careful care had been applied to the painting and the colors still had some brilliance.
Kam and Rain stood side by side, staring at the painting.
“You know, I think after this, this is my new favorite da Vinci.” Rain whispered. Kam shifted her weight back and forth.
“It seems like he’s staring at us,” she muttered. Rain tilted her head.
“Did you know, they think the model was that apprentice that da Vinci was sleeping with. That would explain a lot about his expression,” Rain raised her eyebrows at Kam, who blushed.
“Come on, can we hurry up and do this?”
“Give it a moment, I can hear a group in the next room. Let them pass through while I prepare for the collection.”
Kam sighed, and sat down on one of the bolted down wooded benches, while Rain fiddled with the top her walking stick. True to her prediction, a group of wealthy and cultured looking aliens, along with their human translator walked in. Kam stiffened on the bench, unease prickling up and down her neck. However Rain didn’t seem to care, looking for all the world like she was simply enjoying a day at the Louvre. After guiding the aliens around the room, pointing to each painting and identifying the artist, and showing the aliens how to bring up the translation and info apps on their holographic wristbands, the group moved on. Kam nearly sighed in relief, but Rain was already pulling on a pair of cotton gloves and withdrawing a long cotton swab from her cane.
Kam jumped up and looked around, expecting for security to sweep down on them, but no one did.
“I expect he would have spent the most time on the face, and knowing da Vinci’s percent for perfection it would have taken hours. He probably breathed and touched this painting hundreds of times,” Rain breathed.
“And you don’t think anyone else has?” Kam asked, dubious.
“Everyone knows you aren’t supposed to touch paintings. Who would be so bold to start leaving oils and skin on a renaissance painting? Come on Kam, have some faith.”
Rain drew back and carefully slipped the cotton swab back into a test tube. She was putting them both back into her cane, while Kam sighed.
“At least we’re done- What are you doing?!” She hissed. Rain, still wearing the gloves was carefully running her fingers over the face of the painting.
“You can feel his brush strokes, Kam, it’s amazing.”
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?”
Rain froze. Kam whipped around to see an unimpressed security guard looking at both, already typing information into her wrist band.
“I’m going you need you to step away from that painting, ma’am,” she said sternly.
Rain smiled sheepishly, hand raised in surrender.
“Sorry, only getting a closer look. We’ll go.”
The guard was still frowning and walking closer.
“You know you can’t have that in here,” she gestured to the walking stick. “The louvre has a strict no weapons policy.”
Rain tightened her hold on the cane.
“I need this to walk. I have an injury in my hip.”
The guard looked dubious. “You need a stick to help you walk? Do you have a doctor’s note?”
Kam spoke up, tremors racing up and down her spine. “Look, we’ll leave right now. I’m sorry about Doctor Miller. Can we please just go?”
“I think my supervisor wants to talk to you,” the guard said. Rain threw a hand up.
“This is absurd. You don’t need to go to the trouble, we were just leaving.” Rain tried to forcibly walk past the guard but was stopped by a firm hand on her arm.
“You aren’t going.”
Rain raised her eyes to look the guard in the face.
“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll let go of me, right now.”
“Rain, don’t,” Kam warned.
The three women could have stood in a deadlock for hours more but the arrival of another person in the room broke the tension.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know this was a private affair,” a smooth silky baritone said from the doorway.
The guard let go of Rain to face the door. In the dim light it was hard to see who was standing there, but Kam thought she could make out unnaturally pale features and long flowing hair.
“Sir, I’m sorry. You can’t enter this room right now,” the guard said.
The man walked more fully into the room, and Kam blinked in amazement. The man’s face was exotically pale, but beyond that the scales along his high cheekbones and jaw identified him as non-human. He was dressed well, the suit tailored and a plunging neck line so deep, Kam could see how his muscles moved as he walked forward. His dark hair was elaborately braided and held back by several gold chains.
She frowned. This alien was clearly rich and well provided for, but she couldn’t identify his race, which was odd since Kam had met a fair number of aliens in and out of school. Rain also had her head tilted, considering the alien man.
“Apologies, I was merely passing through. I though all of the museum was accessible today.” He inclined his head.
The security guard seemed to falter for a moment.
“Well it is, just not this room right now.”
“Ah. Can I be of assistance in some way? My wife, is head of your security corp. Shall I contact her?”
Kam stopped breathing and for a moment even Rain looked scared.
This man was the exotic and sensual partner of the second most powerful person in the federation, Chikara Haruka.
Kam swallowed dryly as the guard seemed to flounder.
“U-um no sir. That won’t be necessary.”
“Then there is no trouble?” The alien titled his head.
The security women looked back at Rain, then back to the alien.
“No sir, these women were just leaving. I’m sure they will find the exit with the greatest possible alacrity,” she said, staring daggers at Rain, who gave her a smirk.
“Of course. No more trouble from us.”
With one last look at them, the security women left the room. All was silent while Kam concentrated on breathing deeply and not passing out.
“Are you really married to Haurka?” Rain asked the alien.
He inclined his head.
“I am. My given name is Zebadiah.”
Rain snorted. “Really?”
Zebadiah nodded. “Yes. In my culture, when a couple is bound, the more powerful of the two may rename the other. This is the name Chikara picked for me.”
Kam raised her eyebrows. “What was your name before?”
Zebadiah looked away. “I am never to speak it aloud again, it would be the gravest insult to my caretaker and protector to do so.”
Rain looked over at Kam, eyebrows raised.
“Well thank you for helping us out. We’re leaving now,” Rain gestured with her head for Kam to follow her out of the room.
“May I ask what you were really doing?” Zebadiah’s voice stopped them both cold. Rain glanced at him.
“When you were touching the painting, you were drawing something across its surface. What were you really doing?”
Rain barked out an uneasy laugh. “You must have been mistaken I wasn’t-“
“You know I could have you arrested, and taken to Chikara. It’s probably in your best intrests not to lie to me.” Zebadiah shrugged.
Rain scowled. “I don’t have to tell you anything.”
“Alright, then. If you insist on not giving me what I want.”
The alien went to touch his holographic wristband, the one that would allow him instant communication with Federation HQ, and the Head of Security.
“No, stop! We’ll tell you!” Kam said frantically.
“Kam, no!” Rain hissed, but it was too late.
“We’re collecting skin cells from the painting. We need da Vinci’s DNA.”
Zebadiah stopped and he looked between a tearful Kamala and a furious looking Rain.
“Really? For what reason?”
“Doctor Miller has technology that can bring people back to life,” Kam breathlessly explained.
Zebadiah looked at Rain, dark eyes wide.
“Does she really?”
Rain looked torn for a moment, stuck in between her desire to keep what she was doing secret and her desire for attention. At last her base desire for attention won out, and she reluctantly nodded.
Letting out a quiet and breathy word that her translator didn’t catch, Zebadiah walked closer to Rain, the gold in his hair clinking together.
“Does it work, have you tested it?” he asked urgently.
“Mostly. That’s why we need the DNA, because otherwise it’s just a vegetable.”
“Where did you get it?” He asked quietly, staring deeply into Rain’s eyes.
“The Komali gave it to me, they said it was a gift, something their own culture has used for centuries.”
Zebadiah nodded, and extended his hand out, palm up. “Give it to me.”
For one mad moment, Kamala thought Rain was going to, her hand going to her cane, but then she shook her head, and backed up.
“No. What were you doing to me? Stop it!”
Zebadiah sighed. “Some of my species have weak psychic powers. They work on lower life forms, sometimes.”
Rain sneered. “Thank you for the compliment.”
Zebadiah shrugged. “It was worth the effort. Now I have to threaten you,” he said, his voice bored.
“You can’t just let us leave?” Kam asked, voice pitched with fear. Rain shot her a disgusted look.
“No. You have something I want. Will you sell?”
“Never,” Rain declared.
“For power? My wife can make anything in the government, you know.”
“I don’t want it.”
“I couldn’t be less interested in either of those things.”
Zebadiah shook his head. “Alright. Then I’ll tell you plainly. If you do not give me the data on this technology, I will report it, and you will find yourself on a labor farm in short order, never again to work with science. And then I will still take it when the government seizes your possessions. So you can give it to me the easy way, or you can give it to me the hard way. Regardless I will have it.”
Rain grit her teeth in fury, a muscle in her jaw twitching. Outside the room, Kamala could hear people still walking around and wondered if it would be worth it to try and make a break for it.
Before she could however, Rain curled her lip back, and hands trembling in anger, opened the top of her cane and shook out a data chip.
“This is the original of what the Komali gave me. Everything you need is there. I’m sure you have people on your staff that can figure out how to work it. Now get out of my way,” she snarled.
Zebadiah smiled and inclined his head.
“As you wish, Doctor. Good luck with your project.”
Rain stormed past him, the cane beating a rapid beat on the ground. Kam stared at Zebadiah for a terrified moment before darting off after Rain.
Zeb smiled at the data chip in his hand.
“I have great plans for you.”