A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Six: Threshold. Part One.

PART ONE.

People crowded the streets, as busy as any market day in Paris and yet, as Maximilien looked around, everything was so clean. There were no rivers of mud, no clouds of flies over stagnant water, no thick hazy of smoke rising from the houses or shops.

It was….deeply unnerving.

He trailed after Leonardo and Rain, who was talking at top volume and as fast as she could move her jaw.

“This isn’t even the biggest city on the continent, wait until I take you guys to the capital of Colorado. It has a population of over a million people.”

“A million?” Max interjected. Rain nodded, and then pointed to the towering glass buildings around them. Greenery trailed down the face of some, and trees seemed planted on the tops of others.

“All of these are high rises. More people live in apartments now than ever lived in houses. Especially since the third world-”

“All of these are apartments? But, where are the business?” He interrupted, looking around. A nearby corner had as sign and as Max watched its lettering swam before his eyes, before it became legible.

“Red River?” He asked.

“Named after the country we’re in. After the second U.S. Civil War, and the Great Division the Dakota’s became one country, with Montana and Wyoming.

Max blinked in surprise.

“Second civil war?” He muttered.

He supposed that America’s revolution had been more turbulent than it’d appeared to him in 1781, if they’d had two civil wars already.

“We’re at the transport station, I can’t explain now. Here, where’s Richard? Richard? Good. Follow me.” Rain pushed open more of the glass doors and started down a staircase to some kind of underground tunnel. It seemed to be lit with multi colored lights that morphed from yellow, to green, to blue, and back again. Rain’s silhouette was swallowed quickly as she descended.

Richard and Leonardo glanced at each other. Max sighed quietly before starting after her.

“Where else can we go?” He asked quietly. After a moment, he heard them step down after him.

Rain waited at the bottom, and pushed them over to line of people who were facing towards a large oval platform. As Maximilien watched, a family stepped onto the platform, and the operator pushed a button on the glass screen. In a whoosh of light, the family disappeared.

“Pretty awesome, right?” Rain asked smugly and then turned around to face the three men.

Leonardo, who had Richard’s shoulders in an iron grasp, forcibly held him in place, while Max watched with a horrified gaze.

“They’re gone,” he muttered hoarsely. Rain rolled her eyes, and grabbed him firmly by the elbow.

“It just breaks down molecules and puts them back together at another location. Don’t be a child.” The line moved forward and Max’s heartbeat doubled.

“I don’t think I want my molecules broken down.”

“It’ll be fine.” Leonardo whispered quietly, even as his eyes darted to the front of the line nervously.

“Well it’s this or I make you get in one of the flying machines.” Rain squeezed Max’s elbow. The line lurched forward again. He watched a couple disappear in a flash of light. Richard was now actively struggling in Leonardo’s grasp.

“I will go nowhere in that-” he was cut off when, with an exasperated sigh, Rain turned around and slapped him. Several people turned around to stare.

Rain grabbed the back of Richard’s neck. The ex-king, seemed to be stunned by the blow and stared wide-eyed into her face.

“You. Have. No. Choice.” She punctuated each word with a small shake.

“Ma’am?” All four of them jumped when a woman spoke up from in front. They were next in line. “Is everything…alright?”

Rain smiled. “Yes, sorry. Doctor Rainbow Miller, I work for the Federation. My address should already be in the system.” With an arm around Maximilien and another around Richard, she stepped up onto the platform with Leonardo.

The operator, a pretty dark-skinned woman wearing a blue jumpsuit frowned. “I need to scan their IDs as well, Doctor.”

Rain turned her sharp gaze on her. She smiled, and Max saw the operator shrink back.

“I think you’ll find I have a pass for guests under my account.” She pushed back her long dark braid and offered the back of her neck. Max heard a beep and the operator bit her lip after looking at the screen. When she didn’t move, Rain frowned.

“Do I need to speak to a supervisor?” Her tone seemed mild but the operator quickly shook her head.

“No ma’am. You’re fine. I’ll transport you straight away.”

“You do that,” Rain muttered dryly, before standing in the center of the platform, still gripping Richard and Maximilien tightly. Max shut his eyes, anticipating something like the feeling of having his face torn apart by another bullet.

There was a bright flash of light and a small shiver seemed to run from the top of his scalp to the bottom of his feet. He tried to open his eyes and found he couldn’t. He couldn’t move at all. He wasn’t even sure he was breathing anymore, or that his heart was beating. Everything was quiet, still, and very bright.

When the light finally died away, Max blinked and looked around, before his jaw dropped open. Gone was the underground tunnel where they had been standing, now they were outside, standing in the street, looking a large house. Richard was patting himself down. Looking around, eyes wide. Leonardo let out a quiet breath and grinned, clapping Max on the shoulder.

“See, was that so hard?” Rain scoffed and limped ahead of them. “Honestly, such a trouble. Here I was think I’d picked more enlightened men.”

Richard was rubbing his face where she’d slapped him and scowling fiercely after her. While Max didn’t like to think he would agree with Richard in any capacity, he found himself sympathetic.

Rain’s condescension was quickly becoming grating.

“And here we are.” Rainbow flung the door open, the lights automatically flickering on. Leonard, Max and Richard stepped in slowly. Rain limped ahead of them, whistling. “Come on, babies!”

The sound of the paws slapping on the floor and barking announced the arrival of Rain’s dogs. Robespierre’s eyes widened. Richard braced himself against the wall. Leonardo took a step back. From around the corner a pack of eight dogs, all different breeds ran straight for the door, letting out bark and yips of excitement. Rain crouched down with her arms open, the dogs immediately slobbering on for her troubles.

The largest of the dogs, a shaggy hound with stately lope sniffed at Richard, big yellow eyes on the former king.

“That’s Ava. She is my big alpha girl, aren’t you sweetie? I made her. She’s a wolfhound and German Shepard mix,” Rain explained, smiling up at the three men.

Rainbow picked up a piebald spotted grey short-legged dog with a long tail. “This is Norma, a welsh Corgi.” The dog wagged her tail, grinning. “And that’s Lester,” she pointed to a pointed German pointer. “The German Shepard is Ava’s half-brother, Berwald. That is Bobby, the Border collie, and Pallas, the poodle. Here is Jep, my King Charles’s Spaniel. And here’s Baby! She’s the baby of the pack.”

“She looks like a ball of sheep wool with eyes.” Richard said curiously reaching out to touch the Pomeranian. Rain frowned pouting-ly, moving the puppy away. Leonardo took the fluffy dog instead.

Max found himself trying to pet all of the dogs, seemingly at once. Pallas the poodle kept coming back for more and whined when he took his hands off her.

“Here come on you guys. I can make food.”

With that, Rain started back down the hallway. The men and the dogs followed them. Richard felt a tug on the hem of his sleeve, and saw that the hound, Ava, had latched onto him, white teeth glinting.

“It seems you have a friend Richard.” Leonardo said cheerfully still carrying the fluff ball. Richard frowned. “Get.” Ava tugged harder, her tail starting to wag playfully. Behind him, Max snorted.

“Smart dog.”

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Five: Treason! Treason! Treason! Part Three.

PART THREE.

“Am I interrupting something?”

Leonardo did not quite sigh in relief but it was a close thing.

Robespierre looked utterly ridiculous trying to challenge Richard, who clearly a trained military man, but Leonardo found his respect for the man growing.

Not very much, but more than he had for Rain or Richard at that exact moment.

“Are the two of you fighting, already?”

She looked between the two of them, brown eyes wide and incredulous.

Maximilien Robespierre stepped away from Richard, sniffing primly.

“He started it.”

Richard aimed a look so poisonous at him that Leonardo was impressed the other man didn’t drop dead all over again.

Rain rolled her eyes.

“Okay. Definitely no royalty and revolutionaries together, ever again. That was a mistake.” She turned on Leonardo. “You’re the intelligent one Leonardo, why didn’t you stop them?”

Leonardo adopted his best look of innocence.

“It was merely a friendly disagreement, signora. Neither of these men would turn to the brutish ways of physical force.”

Rain gave him a considering look, eyes flickering over his face and posture.

“If you say so,” she finally muttered with a quiet snort.

With her typical energy, she whirled around to face Richard and Robespierre again. “Here, I replicated these,” she shoved an array of something sky blue and green to Robespierre, a white and wine red to Richard, and finally blood red and rich daisy yellow at Leonardo, “for you. Jeans, undershirt, button up, jacket and belt for all three of you. I took the measurements from the database so everything should fit.” She looked around expectantly, then rolled her eyes and snapped her fingers at them when they simply stared at her.

“Well, go change. We don’t have all day.”

Leonardo let Richard and Robespierre leave the room ahead of him, before Rain caught the crook of his elbow with her cane.

“What was this gentlemanly and ever so civilized argument about, Leonardo?”

Leonardo hesitated.

He did not want to allow her to know of Richard’s desire for his freedom or the fact that Leonardo agreed. Slowly, he said, “Well we are all very curious as to what you gained by bringing us back.”

Rain tried to interrupt. “I already told you-”

“Yes I know, but the other two seem to believe you have more sinister intensions. It sets them ill at ease.” Leonardo shrugged. “They were at odds about what to do about it.”

Rain scoffed. “Well they won’t really have a choice. Not as if I can let any of you go.”

Leonardo tilted his head. “Why not?”

“Well besides the fact you stick out like a sore thumb, I don’t think anyone will react well to the recently or, in this case, not-so-recently-deceased walking around.”

Rain released his arm, her smile thin.

“You are my discovery, and unlike so many in history I don’t intend to ruin it by telling everyone about you.” She shook her head. “No, you are my secret, and my secret you’ll stay.” She winked at him.

Heart racing, Leonardo gave her a shallow bow.

“Of course. How very…prudent.” His stomach seemed sour as he said this, twisting into anatomically impossible knots.

He felt her eyes on him the entire way back to the lab.

XXX

Richard ran his hand over the strange fabric that Rain handed him. It was denser, coarser than wool but still flexible, and it felt like it would hold up well under travel. He snorted and started shucking off the cotton pants. There was no hosiery and after a moment of confused fumbling Richard realized what was supposed to go on underneath was the smaller cotton pants. He also struggled with the tiny buttons on the shirt, fingers slipping on the slick hard material.

He was the last one done changing, Leonardo and Robespierre were already done and listening to Rain, who was explaining how the so-called ‘transporter’ worked.

“And you rematerialize at your destination. Of course, it doesn’t work over very long distances; I think the record is something like a five thousand kilometers. However it works for us, today.”

Maximilien looked perplexed, but Leonardo was nodding, only looking a little lost.  Rainbow noticed Richard. “Ah! His highness arrives!” She limped over to him. “Looking pretty good for someone who never wore pants before. Come on, we’re getting ready to leave right now.”

Richard noticed that Rain didn’t seem to need to change although, she seemed to be as improperly dressed to him as he’d been in the cotton pants. Still dressed in the brown shirt and black pants, with some kind of long white tunic over top, she seemed as strange to him as any manner of witchcraft.

Richard narrowed his eyes.

That was what this all seemed to reek of, witchcraft.

It would be exactly his luck for his afterlife to be in the thrall of a witch, Richard reflected sourly.

He bet Ned didn’t have to deal with this.

Rainbow herded the three of them into a small room, and entered after, the doors closing behind them. Richard shifted uncomfortably. This seemed all too much like a coffin of crypt for him, and the Frenchman was blinking at him, face damnably unreadable. Richard arranged his own features to be as blank as possible.

He jumped when he felt the box move. It felt disconcertingly like his insides were left below him. From the looks on Leonardo’s and Robespierre’s faces, they were experiencing something similar.

Rain chuckled. “It’s an elevator. It uses pulleys and weights, or it used to, now it’s all run electrically, to move the box,” she tapped on the wall with her cane, “from down to up and up to down.”

Leonardo smiled, looking as if this was all going to plan, while Robespierre simply looked ill.

Richard didn’t say anything, but made a firm pact that the moment the opportunity arose, he’d be leaving this box, and more importantly, this woman.

Rain seemed to see his expression and tsked. “It’s not so bad Richard, besides this is nothing. The transporters will be much worse if you can’t even handle a little elevator ride.”

The box seemed to stop moving.

“I can hardly wait,” he grit out from between his teeth.

Rain led them through a strange darkened building. It was cavernous, and filled with same delicately made crystal chairs, as had been downstairs, sitting next to long white tables, that blinked with multi colored lights. Richard had the sense it was daytime but the entire building seemed dark and quiet as a cave. He quickened his step, the back of his neck prickling uncomfortably.

“What is this place?” Leonardo asked voice hushed.

“Oh, it’s an old office building I bought out. Everyone expects a private lab hidden in a mine, in the mountains, or on a private island. It’s easier to just by a derelict building and use that.” Rain didn’t seem to notice, or possibly did not concern herself with the feeling of nervous tension radiating from the three men.

However soon Richard spotted the windowed doors, and through them, sunlight that spilled onto the floor, illuminating the dust that floated on the air.

Rain stopped in front of the doors, baring their way with her metal cane, as if it was a sword. Richard, Robespierre, and Leonardo stopped short to stare at the scientist.

“Gentlemen, through these doors is a world that you couldn’t imagine in all your dreams and days. Through this door you will stepping into a world inhabited by over 10 billion people. A world that has changed in so many ways since you died, you’ll think you are in a fantasy.” She grabbed the bar of the door and pushed on it, so the door swung out and the light spilled over their feet. “I would like you to enter the world of the year three thousand, annon Domini!”

Richard steeled himself and with his jaw clenched tight, stepped forward, natural light making him blink before his eyes adjusted. As they did, he looked around at the surroundings, and for a moment, Rainbow Miller was entirely correct, he did feel as if he’d stepped into a fantasy, some kind of fairy tale, like the ones George used to tell him and Anne.

“Dio mio,” Leonardo breathed, stepping out to his right, hand held up to his mouth. Robespierre said nothing, but the stupefied look on his face said more than an exclamation could.

The world seemed to be made entirely of crystal now, Richard thought wildly. Everything around them glittered in the afternoon sunlight, stretching high, higher than any castle battlement Richard had ever seen. It made him dizzy, looking up, trying to see the tops, but it was impossible. He was positive they were scraping the lazy white clouds that dotted the sky. Greenery cascaded down some of these shining marvels, and across from where the small group stood people periodically appeared from the doors, spilling into the street. Richard realized that overhead there was a buzz, like a nest of bees, and he realized what it was just in time to try to duck and crouch away from it, Robespierre and Leonardo doing the same.

An enormous airborne carriage went over their heads, the buzzing intensifying as it did so. Richard whipped his head around, eyes growing in size. There wasn’t just one carriage held impossibly aloft: there were hundreds, thousands. Their shadows passed over them, and Richard’s head spun, watching. Rain laughed as all three of them stood straight again. Robespierre looked abjectly terrified, face ashen, the scar periodically changing, deeping, as the shadows passed over his face.

Leonardo however, started laughing along with Rain and he clapped his hands together, delighted.

“We did it? Flight?”

Rain clapped him on the arm, grinning, eyes wide. “Leonardo. We have done things even your mind couldn’t conceive of.”

She started walking down the street, leaving them to trail behind her like ducklings. Leonardo started off, after her at once, seeming completely at ease with throwing himself into the bustle with Rain.

Richard looked at Robespierre. The man still looked terrified, but seeing he had Richard’s attention quickly schooled his features.

“Richard! Maximilien! Keep up!” Rain shouted over her shoulder. A few bystanders looked in their direction, and Richard scowled, but started to move after her. Robespierre followed, just behind.

“Given up on your ideas of leaving?” He asked.

Richard glanced over his right shoulder and set his jaw. Robespierre reminded him of a fly, buzzing far too close to Richard for his taste.

“Not yet.”

Robespierre glared at him. “I’ll tell Rain.”

Richard stopped, and turned. Some flies needed to be slapped out of the air, and it appeared Robespierre was determined to be one of them.

“Do that. And then I’ll finish whatever the person who gave that scar started,” Richard promised lowly.

“Richard!” Rain’s voice came over the crowd again, and Richard turned, ready to follow her, for now.

 

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Five: Treason! Treason! Treason! Part Two.

PART TWO.

Maximilien had returned to the storage room, temper still running high.

He paced back and forth for a moment, hands tightly clenched behind his back. He clenched his jaw, eyes set on the cluttered floor in front of him.

Even over a thousand years in the future, and Max couldn’t escape the same infuriating entitlement of the bourgeois.

Or the disgusting rumors that had followed him since Brissot had accused him of aspirations of dictatorship in 1792. His lip curled. He should have known that Girondins’ calumny would follow him, sticking to Maximilien like a stubborn burr.

Abruptly Max was overcome with fatigue and he sat down heavily, body bowing under the weight of the past 48 hours.

He hadn’t dared to look up the Revolution, or his family on the database that Leonardo had shown him. Terror of the deepest sort gripped him every time he thought of it. He was desperate to know what had become of Charlotte, but the terrible thought that she’d died as well stopped him. Max didn’t want to think of his only surviving sibling, alone and frightened, all of her fire doused in the face of his enemies. He did not want to consider what had happened to the Duplays, if Eléonore or Babet had…had…

Maximilien shuddered. He didn’t dare think it.

A soft knock jolted him from his morbid thoughts. Rain stuck her head around the door.

“Don’t sulk in here all day, Robespierre. It’s looking like we are going to have to move this tete-a-tete back to my house, and I’ll need to give you a wardrobe update. Come back to the kitchen soon,” she said cheerily and then let the door slam behind her.

Max frowned.

And Rain…

How did she factor into this? She didn’t seem like she held a grudge against him, as she’d implied so many people did. So why did she bring him back? He was not like Leonardo, a man who been brushed with the hand of Grace itself.

He was not a king either.

He was only Robespierre.

A chill went across the back of his neck and Maximilien reached up to rub a finger over the guillotine scar. He shivered and stood up.

The hallways were darkened and empty. Rain had already vanished and Max supposed that Leonardo and Richard were still in the kitchen.

It was silent as he approached the doorway, and he slowed to a stop before he entered.

Leonardo was leaning back in his chair, hand moving restlessly over the paper. With a blush, Maximilien realized it should have occurred to him sooner that this Leonardo was the Leonardo, who died in the arms of the King of France.

Richard, meanwhile, was still eating with the hunger of a man who’d been very active and hadn’t had food in a while. In a sudden flash, it seemed Max was back at the Duplays, after Phillipe Le Bas and Antoine Saint-Just returned from the army, putting away food like any other young person, talking to the Duplay’s daughters, one of whom would eventually be Le Bas’s wife. Max shivered and shook the image away.

He looked up when Max entered, eyes narrowed and mouth full of bacon.

Revolutionary and sovereign stared at each other frostily.

“I agree, I like this future as well, where a man is free to have a variety of opinions, and it is not impressed upon him by another.” Leonardo spoke conversationally, without looking away from his drawing.

“What?” Richard barked at the artist.

Leonardo looked up, a bushy eyebrow raised.

“I thought that’s what was being debated.”

Max managed a thin smile but Richard scowled.

“Are you saying that you agree with this,” he gestured to Maximilien, “revolutionary? This usurper?”

Leonardo held out a hand, palm out.

“I said nothing of the sort.” The Italian’s voice had gone hard. “I said that I was pleased to be in a future that will not force me to agree with either of you.”

Maximilien raised an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t impress my will-“

“You might think you wouldn’t, but by trying to turn my to a side, you have,” Leonardo cut across his words quickly. Richard smirked at Maximilien.

Rain returned before it could become another argument over the rights of people or the divine rights of Kings.

“Ah good, you’re back. I need to explain a few things before we leave for my house.”

She propped herself against the counter, fingers beating a rapid beat on her cane. Her brown eyes roved over each of them, her face inscrutable.

“I brought the three of you back to life, to the year three thousand.”

Promptly, Richard butted in. “Yes, why would you do that again?”

Rain stared at him blankly. “For science.”

At this Leonardo nodded his head in understanding, while Richard rubbed his temple, jaw set.

“Of course,” he growled. “Why didn’t I assume that?”

Rain waved his complaints away with an airy hand. “Well you weren’t doing anything for anyone dead. So here you are. Anyway, it now appears that we need to move this operation back to my domestic residence. And to do this I’m going to need to take you out into public.”

Her gaze suddenly sharpened.

“We’ll need to change your clothes, you can’t go wearing pajamas. I suppose your hair isn’t so out of fashion.” She frowned considering. “That can always be changed later, anyway.”

Maximilien reached up to finger his hair self-consciously.

Rain stamped her cane on the ground decisively and smiled at all of them. “That’s decided then. I’ll replicate your clothes and then explain the transporters after.” She smiled at all of them. “This’ll be easy, right boys?”

Maximilien glanced at Richard who was staring at Rain like she’d come straight from Charenton, to Leonardo who was smiling benignly at her.

“Okay, I’ll grab the clothes, stay here.”

She said the last part through her grit teeth, before limping her way out of the room.

Richard seemed to wait just long enough for the sound of her footsteps to fade before he was out of his seat, pacing like a caged bear, head set low between his shoulders and grinding his teeth.

“I’m going nowhere with that woman.”

Maximilien let out a polite cough.

Really.

Richard swung his head around to stare at him.

“Yes?” He snarled, his meaty breath invading Maximilien’s senses.

“You don’t really think you ‘ave a choice here, do you? It’s obvious that she has us captive here,” he pointed out.

“She’s one women. Between the three of us, we can overpower her and leave.” Richard said, as if Max was thick. He bristled at the tone out of principle.

Leonardo interjected.

“I will have no part in overpowering a helpless, lame woman. I’d rather go with her and try my luck leaving her at a later date. Usually if you go along with a person they more likely to be agreeable later.” He sat back and crossed his arms, as if to challenge either of them to try and move him by force. Both of them looked to Max.

“And you, Robespierre?” Richard asked, lip curling over his name just slightly, as if the taste in his mouth disgusted him.

Maximilien turned his back on the two for a moment, clenching and unclenching his hands.

On the one hand, even though Max was loath to admit it, his instincts went with Richard. Rain hadn’t given them any explanation as to why they should trust her, or even why she’d brought them back, taking their gratitude and therefore their loyalty as a given and it rankled Maximilien badly.

Loyalty is never a given, he thought to himself.

However, Leonardo was also right: Rain hadn’t done anything yet, other than bring them back to life. If this was a good or bad thing, Max had yet to decide. She was also unarmed, and he couldn’t quite justify what they would have to do to a lone woman to escape. Leonardo also appealed to a base level of Max’s philosophies: independent artisans. He’d take that any day over a former king of England.

He chewed his lip then decided, turning around to face them again.

“I agree with Leonardo, Doctor Miller hasn’t shown herself to be a threat yet, and it’s be monstrous to attack an unarmed woman.

Leonardo smiled thinly at him, but Richard threw a hand up in exasperation.

“It’s obvious that she means no good, kidnapping us like this. We haven’t seen another person since we got here. And she’s clearly mad,” Richard snorted. “For science, saint’s blood.”

Leonardo frowned at him. “Science is a noble pursuit. It explains how the world works.”

“It could explain why the sky is blue, I care not. I’m leaving,” Richard declared.

Maximilien moved to block him. Richard was taller than he was, and probably much stronger, but his stubborn nature won out.

“You’ll go nowhere, not until we find out more. I won’t let have Miller distrusting all of us, simply because you can’t accept another’s will,” he said, meeting Richard’s hard grey-eyed stare.

“I will move you by force if I have to.” The ex-king said softly. Out of the corner of his eye, Maximilien saw Leonardo tense in his chair, looking ready to separate them by force.

However all three turned when the sound of Rain’s cane came tapping out of the hallway.

“All right, here we go,” she announced grandly when she entered. She looked around at all three of them, from Leonardo gripping his chair, white knuckled to Max’s and Richard’s posturing.

“Am I interrupting something?”

 

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Five: Treason! Treason! Treason! Part One.

EPISODE FIVE: Treason, Treason, Treason!

PART ONE.

Bosworth Field, 1483.

The battle is going badly, damn Stanley and his she-wolf of a wife.

Richard regrets not killing her when he had the chance. This is what he gets for all his mercy, damn it all.

Sweat is pouring into his eyes as he swings his mace, every hit making his arms shake with the impact. He needs to survive this, regroup and come back for Henry, the dog.

His horse has long been taken, stumbled and broken its knees by the sound it made, and leaving Richard on soft soggy ground to brawl his way through. The mist rolls through the trees and everywhere the sounds of fighting echo.  

He takes a hit that leaves his whole body aching, the metal of his armor starting to buckle under the stress.

This is going quite badly, all things considered.

Richard regrets, more than ever taking the crown, but what else was he supposed to do? Let Elizabeth and her nest of relatives run roughshod over the country? Let her have all of the sway over her son? When Richard had been named protectorate by Edward himself?

Wasn’t his bloody fault Edward couldn’t ever keep it in his pants long enough to think of consequences, god rest his brother’s soul. Or that George had always resolutely been a fool, and lost his life, land and right to the crown.

Richard hadn’t wanted this circle of metal around his brow but the country, the people of London demanded a responsible ruler, a good stable king after the years of civil war and a hard won peace.

And now as he is continuously beaten by an increasing swarm of enemy soldiers, Richard realizes the price of his duty is going to be nothing less than his life. Still he fights on, teeth grit and arms sore.

He wishes he still had his damned horse.

Richard knows it over when he feels something strike his knee and the leg, not broken just bent crumps in under him and he falls to his knees. Someone kicks his helmet and the stunning effect- a defending ringing in his ears- cannot be ignored. It ripped off his head and the crown goes skittering away, landing just under a thicket of wild roses. Richard snarls, but a war hammer catches him in the shoulder and he is forced back down. Again and again treasonous bastards force Richard into the mud as Henry calmly walks over and picks up the crown to place it on his own head. The snakes turns to smirk at him. It’s over.   

There’s shouts and triumph and Richard thinks that he will at least see Anne and his son Edward again, when there’s a sharp pain to the back of his head and the world goes dark.

XXXXX

The violence in which Richard wakes up, sitting straight up and every muscle coiled to fight, is left over from his death. He blinks, stunned into silence at the room he finds himself in.

“I thought you were supposed to be hunchbacked?” Richard twisted to look around. A woman of Moorish looks was staring at him, lips pursed.

“Turn around again, I want to see if your scoliosis made it look like you could have been.”

Richard collected himself quickly. “Who are you? Where am I?” He demanded, raising a hand to his head, where the pain had been. Under his hair he could feel a small raised scar.

“You’re okay, I fixed all of your injuries,” the woman said, sounding very proud of herself. Richard frowned.

“I was hit with something,” he muttered to himself, confusion mounting all the time.

“Yeah I think it was some kind of pick, you should have seen the scar, tiny but it caused more or less immediate brain hemorrhaging.”

“What?” Richard snapped, more and more confused with every word the woman spoke. His head was pounding and he rubbed irritably at his temple.

“Oh well someone stabbed you and you died.” The woman nodded, dark brown hair fluttering around her face.

Richard stared at her, slowly lowering his hand from his head.

“I, died?”

She nodded. “You died and I brought you back, just now. It is the year 3000 and you are in North Dakota.

Richard stared at her, not sure who was crazier, him for dreaming such a fantastic thing or her for making such outrageous claims.

That was necromancy, it was against the laws of nature. It was impossible. Richard pushed these basic facts aside to address the bigger issue, that clearly this woman was mad.

“I’m sorry, but none of those words mean anything to me,” Richard told her seriously. The woman sighed.

“At least you didn’t have a panic attack like Robespierre did. Here, do you need help walking?” She addressed him directly, holding her elbow out. Richard ignored her. It would be a damnable day indeed, when Richard was reduced to tottering on another’s arm. He saw the walking stick she had and snorted. Especially if it was from a cripple. That was not who Richard was.

Richard swung his legs down from the cold metal table and stood as rigidly as he could, remembering the way his knee had crumple out from under him.

Much to his surprise it did, and after a few careful steps, Richard felt increasingly confident in his ability to move under his own power.

“Let’s get you some clothes, okay? Then I can take you upstairs.” The woman ordered imperiously. Richard frowned, reading to bristle under her tone. However humility and a sudden fatigue and hunger made him stop. Begrudgingly he nodded, letting her go over to a small square cut out in the wall.

“Cotton shirt, pants and trousers. Mens, size medium.”

Richard gaped, staring as the whole thing flashed with light and then a pile of clothing appeared and the woman plucked them out and handed them over to Richard.

“There’s a bathroom over there for you to change, okay? My name is Doctor Rain Miller, so just shout if you need anything.”

Richard was shoved along and the door clicked behind him.

XXX

“Everyone should still be asleep. It’s about five in the morning.” Miller whispered to him as they climbed the staircase out of the lower floor. Richard nodded, not sure how she would have been able to tell, since this place didn’t seem to have any windows.

“You’re English, so you probably want tea right?” She asked, going over to another box in the wall.

“Beer would be preferable.” Richard looked around. Like the rest of this place the room seemed to be made of white marble, with all of the lights close to the ceiling. Despite this, the air was comfortably cool. Miller was staring at him, bemused. Richard glared right back.

She shook her head, her indecently loose hair swaying. “I’m drawing the line at beer for breakfast. Tea it is. You look like an earl grey kind of guy,” she muttered.

Richard sat down in a chair that looked disquieting like crystal. Had the world run out of trees, to make chairs from rocks now?

She placed a small and delicate looking cup in front of him. Richard picked it up and released it again immediately. The cup rattled on the table but didn’t break, merely splashing liquid everywhere.

“Problem?” Miller asked.

“It’s hot.” Richard said, twisting around to stare at her.

“Well yeah, it’s tea.”

“Why would you serve it in a cup made from stone then? Even the common drink from wooden bowls,” Richard snapped.

“Oh shit, I keep forgetting, you’re from before you even had glass and porcelain and stuff. Look just wait a second, it’ll cool down.” Miller instructed. Richard narrowed his eyes slightly.

“You are very vulgar, for a lady.”

“Ha, oh honey you haven’t seen anything yet.” Her tone rankled, and Richard narrowed his eyes. He did not at all appreciate the condescendence this woman spoke to him with.

They both turned at the sound of footsteps.

The man who entered seemed surprised to see them, eyes widening slightly behind the glass circles that covered his eyes.

“I’m apologize, I wasn’t aware anyone else was up.” He said, standing ramrod straight. Richard studied him curiously. Slight build, with an unhealthy look, compounded by the scarring around his mouth. There was a curious lilt to his words, something that Richard couldn’t quite place.

“No it’s alright. Maximilien Robespierre meet Richard, duke of Gloucester and later the King of England.”

The man’s countenance changed immediately. He dropped the stiff pose and adopted a much more defensive one, eyeing Richard with something much like distrust. Richard tried a bow anyway.

“The pleasure is mine, I’m sure.” He said, dryly.

To his mild surprise Robespierre gave him nod, but no bow. Nor did he return the greeting, still eyeing him. They all three stood in silence for a moment.

Rain coughed.

“Well this is nice and awkward,” She muttered. “Where is Leo when you need him?”

“He was in the,” a hand motion for lost-ness, “ah, lab.”

“Which one?”

Robespierre gave her a hopeless and slightly annoyed look. Rain laughed slightly as she limped off.

“I’ll find him. Play nice please.”

Once again silence took the kitchen and they stared at each other. Richard realized that they were wearing the same clothing, the soft cotton garments, and concluded that they must have been brought here in similar circumstances.

He wondered if Robespierre was from the future, his future.

The other man brushed past him on the way to the box, the magical one that dispensed clothes, food, and drink.

“French?” Richard asked aloud, finally connecting the man’s name and his accent.

“Oui,” Robespierre seemed to sneer slightly when he said it, looking distastefully at Richard.

Richard rubbed his temple.

“Wonderful.”

XXX

Leonardo started slightly when something touched him. He been absorbed in reading articles, as he had all last night. Spots from the light of screen danced in front of his eyes and he blinked them away.

“Hm? Oh hello Doctor Rain.”

She grinned at him, white teeth all straight and whole.

“Hey Leonardo. I have someone new for you to meet. Come on,” She gestured with her cane.

Leonardo carefully marked where he had been in Grey Anatomy, edition 201, year 2995. The screen went dark and Leonardo marveled for a moment.

He already liked this future very much.

They walked upstairs and into the kitchen. Leonardo immediately noticed that Robespierre had adopted the attitude of an angry cat, looking stiff and hands placed flat on the table, fingers twitching slightly.

He didn’t mean to think the sight was endearing.

There was another new man at the table as well. His height was in-between his and Robespierre’s, perhaps five and half feet, maybe a little over. Brown hair hung around a square and serious looking face. His body looked like the type that was used to fighting, his shoulders broad and one arm clearly trained for heavy weaponry.

A solider.

“It’s weird, the two of you were actually born in the same year? Technically Leonardo, Richard here is only six months younger than you.” Rain said, by way of introductions. “Richard could represent the end of the medieval ages, and Leonardo, you could be the bright dawn of exploration and the Renaissance.”

Richard frowned. “Excuse me?”

Rain didn’t answer, merely waving her fingers at Leonardo.

“Then I’m sorry sir, I do not recognize your name.”  Leonardo bowed from the waist.

Richard rose from his seat and returned the bow. Robespierre made a very quiet sound. Richard shot him a hard look, then relaxed and looked back to Leonardo.

“Nor I yours, sir. I’m Richard, King of England and from the house Plantagenet.”

Leonardo eyebrows climbed up.

A king?

Well not as if he wasn’t used to dealing with men of power, between the Church and the Borgia’s and Medici.

“I am Leonardo ser Piedro, da Vinci.”

Richard stared at him blankly even as Robespierre looked up sharply.

“The artist?” he asked.

Leonardo grimaced slightly. “I’d prefer engineer, to be perfectly honest.” At this Robespierre opens his mouth like he was going to protest, however, looking at the stiff way Leonardo held himself, slowly closed it again.

“I still do not recognize your name. Apologies.” Richard sat down again. Leonardo sat on Robespierre’s other side. He was still staring at Leonardo, as if seeing him properly for the first time. Rain was looking at them, amusement all over her face.

“This’ll be interesting, between the three of you.” She sipped her coffee. “You know, Richard, you and Robespierre will have lots to discuss. You can see who has the worse reputation.”

Both men whipped around to stare at her. Leonardo wondered absently, if Rain did this often. If so, he could see why Kamala didn’t stay with them.

“Reputation?” Richard growled. He was spinning the charcoal pencil that Leonardo had replicated earlier. “What exactly, do people say, about my ‘reputation’?”

Robespierre was looking like he had the awful suspicion that he already knew what people had been saying about him for over a thousand years, but he wasn’t going to like it regardless.

“Well, you Richard, are considered a child murdering backstabber, and Robespierre is a blood drinking, king-killing tyrant,” Rain said calmly.

At this both men burst into competing diatribes.

“Tyrant? They asked me to be on the Committee! I couldn’t very well say no-“

“Backstabbing? The only backstabber was Elizabeth and her brood,-“

“Capet’s execution was by voting, may I remind you-“

“Also, who the bloody hell keeps saying that my nephews are dead?” Richard snapped to the room at large.

Leonardo sat in stunned silence, and reminded himself that he was going to need to definitely look up his new company the moment he had a chance.

Rain raised her hands, looking mildly surprised at the outburst.

“Whoa, don’t shoot the messenger. I was just telling you what’s in the history books.”

Richard gave her a withering glance. “My rein hasn’t been written about yet.”

Rain returned the glare. “It definitely has. You, my friend, have some dedicated fans.”

“Some what?” Richard asked.

Robespierre looked at her expectantly. Rain shrugged.

“You have significantly quieter fans.”

Robespierre seemed to be biting his tongue in response to this.

“Excuse me but I still lots of questions about who was calling me a tyrant.” Richard crossed his arms over his chest and scowling. Robespierre scoffed. Richard turned to him. “Something you would like to say, sir?” The words were bitten off coldly, and Robespierre returned them with equal frostiness.

“Well sir, since you do not rule by your people’s permission,”

“Permission?!”

“-I’d guess it would be your oppressed citizens who called you tyrant.” Robespierre finished neatly, looking smug. Leonardo raised his eyebrows, looking between the two of them. Richard looked furious, hand clenching and unclenching at his side.

“You know, maybe I should not have brought back a revolutionary and King at the same time,” Rain mused aloud, tapping her chin. Leonardo realized she must be doing this on purpose, and frowned slightly.

Was this a sport to her, bear-baiting living and frightened men?

Neither Robespierre nor Richard had realized this however and continued their agitated sniping.

“Revolutionary?” Richard sneered. “Usurper?”

“As if I would want the power your kind wields, taken without any kind of thought to those you rule.” Robespierre bitingly replied, his face twisting.

“My rule bettered people’s lives!” Richard slammed an open palm down on the table, making all of the dishes rattle. The electronic display that Leonardo knew was under jittered. Richard drew his hand back as if burned.

Robespierre didn’t seem to notice.

“I’m sure that’s what you told them anyway, to bend and scrape and adore you. Despite this, you could never truly represent your people, because they didn’t choose you, therefore you represent nothing,” he hissed.

Leonardo stared at him with wide eyes.

The future of France believed that you could pick your leaders?

Richard looked like he was having a similar thought and it did not sit well with him at all.

“And are you who the people picked?” The king asked condescendingly. Robespierre bristled again, lifting his chin up.

“Yes. I am. Or, I was.”

Rain, still observing from her corner, snorted into her coffee cup.

“Pretty sure that’s not how history remembers you,” she muttered.

Robespierre looked away at this. “They call me a dictator, a tyrant?”

“There’s a surprise,” Richard snapped, rolling his eyes.

Robespierre leveled a flat stare at him, and stood up. “The good and virtuous will always have enemies, those who aim to drag them down with calumny, and obscure the truth. However they will always have reason and justice and the belief of the people on their side.” With this shrilly ringing pronouncement, Robespierre turned on his heel and left the room.

Richard stared after him, jaw set.

“Are all Frenchmen absolutely barking, or just the ones I know?” He muttered to room at large.

Rain giggled, but Leonardo tilted his head.

A world where you could choose your leaders. Leonardo could immediately see how this would have been more attractive than being at the whims of the families like the Medici’s, the Borgia’s the Sforza. He could have picked people who would have truly appreciated his mind, rather than just being another pretty court jewel, another curiosity for their constant game of one-upping each other.

“He has a point,” Leonardo said absently. Richard frowned at him. Rain raised her eyebrows.

“You think so? I guess that doesn’t surprise me that you think that.” Rain picked at the piece of lint on her coat. “I mean, you would have been at the bottom of the food chain, Leonardo, since you are a bastard son of some peasants.”

Richard looked at him, eyebrows raised.

Leonardo set his jaw.

“Si. Being able to pick would have been advantageous to my situation,” he said stiffly.

Rain shrugged and smiled. “But it’s not as if you did so poorly for yourself. You died in the King of France’s arms.”

Leonardo shrugged, pulling his sketchbook towards himself.

“It still would have been nice to pick.”

He didn’t miss the way Richard rolled his eyes to the ceiling, jaw set and hand clenched. Rain snorted at them again and sat down in the seat Robespierre had vacated.

“It’s just bizarre to think of you living in a world where democracy hadn’t been the status quo in hundreds of years,” she said, grabbing her tablet and turning it on. Richard watched her, eyes widening slightly when the screen seemed to miraculously go from dark to light. Rain noticed and grinned toothily.

“Here, that’s not all I can do, your highness,” she teased. Her fingers skated over the surface, and within seconds she’d pulled up one of the wiki articles that Leonardo had been studying over the past few days. She handed it over to Richard, who handled the tablet like it was likely to catch fire in his hands. The ex-King read the first line, then did a double take, looking back up at Rain.

“What is a ‘car park’ and why was my body found there?”

XXX

When she’d been young, one of Rainbow’s tutors had suggested she would have made a good professor. “If you can keep your temper,” was what they’d said to her. Rain had smirked.

“I won’t need to when I’m working for the Federation. I’ll be so good, they won’t care about my attitude.”

Her tutor had rolled their eyes and told her to get on with her work.

However now, Rain found they had a point. She was having fun.

Teaching Leonardo and Richard at the table about how to work the tablet, and what a car park was and how DNA worked was fun. Rain had the feeling that Leonardo was the only one who was even remotely following it, and that Richard had already written this off a very weird dream, but Rain enjoyed the feeling of flaunting her expertise for them. It was nice.

The expression on Richard’s face when Leonardo showed him how to bring up the holographic globe was priceless.

“That’s where you’re from.” She reached out and touched England, bring the focus in closer to the island. Richard glanced over at her, jaw slightly twisted, before touching it himself. The markers for London, York and Cambridge popped up.

Leonardo grinned and spun the globe from the other side, and Richard jerked back.

“It spins the same way the earth does,” Leonardo explained. Stopping the globe he moved to back to where it had been.

“The earth spins?” Richard asked, half distracted by zooming in tighter and tighter on London.

Leonardo looked over at Rain and winked.

“Si, it rotates, and moves around the Sun.”

Rain bit her lip to stop from laughing. Of course Leonardo would have already read about orbital movements. She could have sworn he was born for the 31st century.

She was distracted from the scathing looking Richard shot a Leonardo by a beep from her tablet. Rain frowned. It was an alert from one of the sensors outside. She snatched the tablet back, causing Leonardo and Richard to break off from their argument.

“Doctor Miller?”

Rain looked up at Leonardo.

“Looks like we’ll be moving this back to my house. Richard, I’d finish eating if I were you. Leonardo, show him how to use the replicator. I’ll go get Robespierre.” She grabbed her cane and lifted herself to her feet, tucking the tablet into her lab coat pocket. She was gone from the room before either man could ask questions.

A cold sweat had broken out over Rain’s arms and back.

She should have known. She should have expected Zebadiah to start watching the building. Rain cursed under her breath, thinking quickly.

The solution, as far as Rain could see through her adrenaline was to move the entire operation to her house. It was faster than she’d wanted to do, she’d wanted to have a longer adjustment period, make sure no ancient illness reared their bacterial heads.

She bit her lip, dithering in the hallway before setting her jaw. Rain turned on her heel and set off back down to the kitchen to inform the king and renaissance man of her decision.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Four: Terror and Virtue. Part Three.

PART THREE.

Rain was in her lab again.

She studied the package that had shown up in front of the lab. It was a plain brown paper package. She hadn’t ever seen one like it before. Rain couldn’t remember that last time she hadn’t just used replicator for whatever she needed. She ran a black light over it and discovered there were no fingerprints on it, at all. So someone had been careful it the wrapping and delivering it.

Rewinding the security footage revealed that a small and unmarked drone had dropped it at lab at about five in the morning.

She tapped her fingers on the counter next to her, staring intently at the package.

Common sense dictated that she throw it out. It could be anything from a bomb to poison chocolates.

However, common sense had never been Rainbow Miller’s strong point. She much preferred the unconventional paths of the risky, the unexplored.

She took a deep breath and carefully started to open the tape that held the package closed. After it was open, Rain held her breath, listening carefully.

The console next to her gave a beep, making Rain jump. She scowled at the offending machine, and punched the flashing icon.

*Call waiting. Zebadiah Jude Haruka.*

Rain bit her lip, a shadow of nervousness creeping into her mind. How had he found her? This lab was carefully off the grid.

The machine kept beeping, until Rain blew out a breath and hit the button.

“This is Doctor Miller. How may I help you?”

“Ah, Doctor Miller. I wondered if I had the wrong number for a moment.” Zebadiah’s smooth baritone filled the room.

“No. I was merely busy. With an experiment.” She emphasized. “I do need to get back to work, is there something I can help you with?”

“I think it’s something I can help you with. Did you get my package?”

She looked at the halfway unwrapped box. “You sent me this?”

“Yes. Have you opened it?”

“No.”

“Open it.”

Rain looked at it with renewed trepidation. With a sigh, she gripped both pieces in her hands and in one quick moment, ripped it open.

It was carefully packed with molded black foam. In the center was a finger bone.

Rain looked at the console. “You sent me a finger bone? Whose finger is this?”

“Have you seen the news recently?”

“What? No, why?”

“Hmm. It seems there have been a terrible rash of grave robbing.” Zebadiah sounded as if this was a natural everyday occurrence. “Many ancient grave sites have been broken into.”

Rain went cold. “What do you mean?” Her heart raced.

“It seems like an interesting coincident. That bodies are being taken from graves, and a scientist is working on bringing people back from the dead.”

“I haven’t touched anyone’s body! Do you understand me Zebadiah, not one!” Rain snapped at the console.

“Of course doctor Miller. I never said you did.” He was silent as Rain paced across the lab in agitated circles.

“Why did you send me the finger bone?”

“Consider it a thank you present,” Zebadiah finally answered after a moment. “For the information you gave me in the museum.”

Rain sat down. “I’m I going to be arrested?”

Zebadiah laughed. “No, of course not. You can trust me. This is just a thank you for bringing such a wonderful diversion to my attention.”

“A diversion-!”

“Yes. That’s what this is, correct? A diversion, an entertainment.”

Before Rain could say anything else, Zebadiah spoke again. “So I just wanted to thank you. I’ve had very little to do since I was married to Chikara. I appreciate your contribution, and I hope you enjoy me gift in return. Goodbye, Doctor Miller.”

The console beeped at Zebadiah hung up.

Rain sat in silence for a moment, her mind struggling with what Zebadiah said.

“This isn’t a diversion.” She said to the empty room.

It isn’t? You aren’t doing this because you are bored? A small voice, shoved into the back of her mind spoke.

“No. I’m a scientist. I do it for discovery.”

Discovery. Like Darwin. Or Columbus.

“Exactly.”

Darwin died shamed. Columbus was a monster.

“Shut up. They aren’t diversions,” she hissed to herself. She stared at the finger bone before snatching it up at looking at it. It felt delicate, almost like that of a bird. It was likely extremely old.

She placed it on the DNA scanner. After a moment of being illuminated by green light the terminal blinked.

100% Match Found: Richard Plantagenet.

“Richard who?” She muttered. Typing it into the console came back with a quick blurb: Born in 1452, Richard III was King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485, at the age of 32, in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His body was found in 2012, under a car park.

She leaned forward, staring at the names, eyes squinted slightly.

Rain looked at the bone, fingers tingly. If you had a whole piece of a person, how much better and faster would a resurrection be? Not just DNA or someone else’s blood but a whole bone.

But wasn’t this what Zebadiah wanted? What he implied, saying that her experiments were a ‘diversion’? A flash of anger hit her like lightening. Rain wasn’t anyone’s tool. She could and would do what she liked. Why have the finger bone if she didn’t even use it?

It was for science.

“An inventor, a politician, and a king.” She muttered aloud. “Okay, you’ll do.”

XXX

Robespierre had just joined him in the kitchen when Rain bounded up the stairs.

“I’ll be in my lab. Leonardo, you are in charge. Eat something and sleep. Don’t make anything explode,” was all the explanation she gave before she was diving back down. Leonardo imagined her as a rabbit, hopping from place to place, and darting into burrows. Robespierre blinked after her.

“Does she do that often?” He asked slowly. Leonardo shrugged.

“I haven’t been around her very long. She had an assistant but they argued and she left.”

Robespierre frowned slightly. The scars must have pulled because he winced and relaxed his face back to his neutral expression.

“What did they argue about?”

Leonardo had gone back to his sketches, carefully examining the countertop to his left. When Robespierre leaned over to see, it was a detailed drawing of the germination of a seed, copied from the article Leonardo was looking at. Next to the sketch, he’d made notes, all in his slanted backwards writing.

“I don’t know, but if I had to theorize, I’ll bet that Kamala didn’t agree with what Rain is doing.”

“Doing?” Robespierre asked absentmindedly. When Leonardo looked up Robespierre was staring intently at the sketch. He smiled and shifted to Robespierre would be able to see it better.

“Bringing back men from the dead.”

Robespierre looked at him sharply.

“You think she’s going to bring back another?” The Frenchman demanded.

Leonardo nodded. “Si. I’d wager money on it.”

Robespierre sat back to think on this. “But, what is she going to do with us?” He asked at last, to the room at large.

“That, I do not know.” Leonardo answered.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Four: Terror and Virtue. Part Two.

PART TWO.

Rain was flustered. After Leonardo’s easy awakening, she hadn’t expected Robespierre to freak out like he did. She also hadn’t expected the scar that marred his face, it looked ugly and like it hurt quite a bit receiving it. She’d forgotten that he’d been shot before he died. Rain wondered if there was a way to program it so they didn’t come back with scars.

She replicated clothing and helped Robespierre up to dress. He was short, with a nearly delicate frame. He kept squinting in light.

“I’ll test your eyes for your prescription next, don’t worry,” Rain assured him. Robespierre nodded, still quiet.

After she’d run scans on both eyes, and found he was almost blind in the light she replicated the glasses, tinted slightly.

“You aren’t wearing glasses in any of your portraits, or else I’d know ahead of time.” She said.

“I only sat for two,” he muttered, looking down at his hands and frowning.

It was then Rain noticed it. Alongside his bullet scar, there was one other Robespierre had.

On his neck there was a pale raised line that continued all the way around, like a grisly necklace. She stared at it for a long moment.

“Would you mind staying down here for a moment? There’s another person here, and I just want to warn him,” she asked. Robespierre looked up, and nodded slowly.

“Oui, I’ll stay.”

Rain kept her eyes on him as she walked towards the door. Robespierre was still staring at his hands as if he hadn’t ever seen them before.

Upstairs, Leonardo was exactly where she’d left him. It took several times of calling his name before Leonardo looked up.

“Ah, hello. All done?” He asked casually. Rain smiled. This was a man she could communicate with.

“Yes, he’s downstairs right now. I’m going to bring him up in just a moment but I thought I would just warn you he’s,” here, Rain hesitated. “He’s a little bit shaken, I don’t think his death was a peaceful as yours.”

Leonardo nodded. “Was he a solider?”

Rain shook her head. “Lawyer.”

“Ah.”

XXX

Maximilien sat on the metal table, with his head in his hands. His fingers had brushed a rough patch of skin next to his mouth, and he cringed, mind shying away from what it could possibly be.

He’d died.

He had failed.

Max hardly wanted to think of what his death had wrought in France. Was there even still a France? Had England, Prussia and Spain carved up, put the chains back on the people, back into their miserable state?

His head hurt and tears burned just behind his eyes. He held his emotions back with self-taught stoicism that that’d been his companion since his mother’s death.

There was a soft swooshing noise, and when he looked up, Doctor Miller was walking back into the room.

“Hey, you can come with me now, okay? We’ll get you food, and I think I have another cot somewhere where you can rest.” She spoke softly, as if Maxime was a frightened child who she needed to comfort. Max frowned slightly.

Charlotte, Madame Duplay, and now Doctor Miller. Did every women he met feel the need to take care of him?

Regardless, Max nodded. “Oui, thank you very much.”

Miller smiled at him. “Alright. You can also meet your fellow resurrected historical figure.”

XXX

Leonardo was still in the kitchen, starting to wish for a window to see out of when Rain started coming back up, talking to someone out of sight.

“I’ll get you something to eat, if you want.”

She walked into the room with a shorter man in tow. He was blinking in the harsh, and Leonardo had recently discovered, electric light. (How curious! The same element that left trees split and fields on fire could now also be used to light people’s homes. He supposed this was a natural evolution, after all humans had been using a tamed fire for light and warmth for centuries now.)

Rain was still chattering away as she used the replicator to order a croissant and coffee, which she placed in front of the man who had done a sort of graceful collapse into the chair next to Leonardo. The two men blinked at each other for a moment.

“Here, eat, I’ll be right back.” She ordered. Rain darted out of the room, then poked her head back around.

“I’m sorry that was rude. Leonardo, meet Maximilien Robespierre. He’s from about 200 years after you.”

She left again, leaving a gaping silence.

Leonardo carefully marked his place in his notebook, and let it close and took a closer study of the man who was absent mindedly shredding and nibbling the tiny loaf of bread Rain had placed in front of him.

His face was heart shaped, with a small pointed chin and high cheekbones. There was a coin sized scar about an inch from his mouth. It splinted and looked like a star burst. It was very out of place on such a soft and gentle looking face. His rather frizzy coppery-brown hair hung around in a morose sort of way around his face, the same way it would on the face of a badly groomed tom cat.

His eyes were a sort of grey-green, a rare color to find, and easily the most notable feature. It was these eyes Leonardo was staring into.

It occurred to him that maybe he should have researched his new companion before Rain had unceremoniously brought him back.

Leonardo did an awkward half bow from where he was still seated and with a concentrated effort, said “Bonjour, monsieur Robespierre.”

The man still stared at him quietly and head tilted ever so slightly to the right.
“I- Buon giorno, signore.” His accent was odd, not bad but clearly foreign. Regardless Leonardo beamed widely.

“Ah, you speak Italian sir?”

Robespierre shook his head. “I was, before I-” His voice stopped and he dropped his face back to his plate.

“Before you died?” Leonardo finished for him, softly. He wondered how old the other man had been when he died. He didn’t look any older than Leonardo, but Rain had explained that she’d set his body to be a younger version than the one he had died in. So thirty? Forty? Fifty? Who could know, until it was confided in him?

Robespierre had covered his eyes with a hand, looking distraught. Leonardo reached out and slowly put a hand on his shoulder. The other man pulled away slightly, nearly flinching.

Leonardo touched all of his friends and if he was going to be stuck with this man for Dio knew how long he was going to make friends. He placed his hand back on Robespierre’s shoulder. The Frenchmen looked startled, gaze going from the hand to Leonardo’s face.
“I know,” he murmured right before Rain returned to the room.

“I’m glad you guys are already making friends,” she said cheerfully.

Robespierre nodded, still looking wary of Leonardo.

“Yes, thank you citizen-ness.”

“Citzen-ness?” Leonardo asked, bemused.

“I think it was a French revolution thing.” Rain whispered. Leonardo also looked interested.

A what thing?

“Has the form of address changed in France?’ He asked the other man. Robespierre gave a proper little nod.

“Yes. Or at least,” the gloomy look came back over his face. “It was supposed to. I do not know if it would have been kept after the Committee of Public Safety fell.”

Leonardo tilted his head.

“The what?”

XXX

As Leonardo and Robespierre discussed politics that had been dead for over a thousand years, Rain quietly moved away to one of the wall mounted screens, and pulled up the video feed for outside the building. Usually she did not bother to leave it on, but after Kam stormed away last night she thought it best, just in case Kamala thought to try and bring law enforcement back to her lab. There were no thugs outside, however sitting on the doorstep was a plain brown package.

Rain frowned.

XXX

Leonardo volunteered to give up the bunk in the spare room to Max.

“I don’t sleep very much, especially when my mind is as full as it is right now, but you probably should.” The inventor advised, once again gently touching Robespierre gently on the arm. He was extremely dubious of how much sleep he would be getting but vowed to attempt anyway, mostly to assuage his new companion.

He had a most unpleasant shock when going to use bathroom to wash his face for the night, and be quietly amazed by the running water, in hot and cold, and he looked into the mirror.

Max narrowly avoided shouting in alarm. For one sick moment he’d seen Danton’s face, broad, nose crushed into his face and scarred, before he realized that Danton had never worn green tinted glasses.

Max, breathing heavily, leaned forward to stare at the strange reflection.

It was him but very different from how he remembered his reflection the morning of July 9th 1794 when he had left his bedroom in the Duplays.

His cheek was knotted mess of scarring. The bullet had torn the thin flesh as it passed through and dented it, the caved in flesh a lighter color than his already pale skin. Several tendrils seemed to come off from the center, towards his lips, his eyes his chin, making it look vaguely star like. On the right side where the bullet had exited, several teeth towards the back were missing and there was another small scar pointing to where it had left his skin.

Maxime had never been vain, at least not about his appearances. Augustin had always been the one who followed fashions and chased women, not him. True, he’d been fastidious, but after a childhood of wearing clothing until they were filled with holes, Max had taken a special pleasure in dressing well. Respectability was valuable to a lawyer. However the change to his face was dramatic and shocking. His fingers trembled when Max touched the scar gingerly. For one moment he imagined he could still taste the iron of blood and mineral from his shattered teeth in his mouth. Max shuddered and his eyes twitched at the memory.

But perhaps the most damning was the small scar around his neck. Max traced it with his hand, feeling the slightly raised flesh go all around his throat.

Here it was: incontestable proof that Maximilien Robespierre had died on the guillotine blade.

He shook slightly through washing his face and cleaning his teeth.

There is nothing to do but go to the small cot that Leonardo had volunteered to him, curl up and not sleep.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Four: Terror and Virtue. Part One.

EPISODE FOUR: Terror and Virtue.

PART ONE.

Paris 1794

It is a bright hot day in Thermidor. Regardless Maximilien finds that all the colors have become muted and blur together. He isn’t sure if it’s from the unceasing pain in his jaw, the blood loss or the fact his glasses have been long since lost. As the cart rumbles down the street and the screams around him increase, Max closes his eyes.

He keeps the closed even as rotten fruit, small stones and insults are hurled at him, many missing their mark, but a few hit.

A moldy orange ads to the stains all over his once fine undershirt, a rock glances off his shoulder and people scream tyrant at him.

Tyrant?

If he had been none of this would be happening. It seems like a logical fallacy, to call Max a tyrant, when he has selfless served the people, lived and breathed and bled for them. He’d promised his youth and happiness for them.  

And now he will die for them as well.

Next to Saint-Just is utterly silent, even as the people jeer at him as well.

“Angel of death! The Angel of Death and his master!”

In the carts a head of them, Bonbon, dear brother Augustin, and Couthon both lay in the baking sun. At least they will not see the people’s faces, the sneering derision in their eyes.

The cart suddenly stops, but Max does not open his eyes. They are not at the Palace de la Revolution.

He can smell the sawdust, the summer lilacs. A dog barks somewhere and distantly Max wonders if Brount is safe? Is Charlotte? Will some kindly citizen keep them?

Max hopes so, since he has failed to.

When their father left, he’d promised his siblings he’d protect them.

He’d gone to Louis le Grand and Henriette had died in her bed.

He’d gone to Versailles and Paris to try and secure a better life for people like them, people without a family, and now he’s killed his brother.

Maximilien can only hope that his sister survives them. Charlotte deserves better. She’d always wanted was best for him.

He hopes the Duplays are keeping the windows shuddered, as they did for Louis Capet and Danton and Camille. He would not want them to see him, they were a good family of kind patriots who have done much for Max since has moved to Paris.

Has it only been five years? It seems like a whole lifetime ago.

He refuses to open his eyes to look, he does not want to know. He doesn’t want to see if Babet, whose son now doesn’t have a father, or Eleanor is looking at them.

Max wants to hide his face, but stubbornly keeps his chin up, refusing to accept the title that the people of Paris want to shove onto him. He won’t go to the guillotine with his head hung, like he can be shamed into being a ‘tyrant’.

That is not who Maximilien Robespierre is.    

The cart rattles to life again and on they march.

Maximilien knows he only has about thirty minutes left to live.

He mourns for Saint-Just, because Max knows that he will never mourn for himself. Antoine will stand tall and just right until the moment they force his head into the stock before it is removed.     

The Cart stops again. Max opens his eyes to the blur of muted colors. Time passes in dollops now. One by one his good and noble associates are forced off and walked up the steps to meet the madame.

First Augustin, who Max can hear moan and cry softly, his legs been shattered by the jump out of the window. Couthon screams as they force his body to the plank to tie him down.

Next to him Antoine straightens up when they grab him and force him off the cart. He looks up at Maximilien.

Saint-Just stares at him for a moment and it breaks something inside, so see how young, his friend really is, barely 26 years old, and has already done so much for the Republic and now will die at the blade. Max imagines there is something in Anotine’s eyes, some glimmer than he is desperately trying to communicate to him before the guards forcibly march him away but what it is slips away from Max, and he leans forward to gently brush his nose along his friend’s forehead for a last moment of friendly contact.

“Adieu, mon ami.” Saint-Just says, as if he is simply leaving the Committee for the night and not forever, and Max cannot see as they walk him away. There is silence, and then ‘thunk’ and screams from the crowd.

Then they come for Maximilien. He does not struggle as they pull him down from the cart. The world has gone strangely quiet around him, even though Max can see people’s mouths still moving, lazily like a dying fish’s. Through his blurred vision he can see the sunlight glint off the Guillotine. He is nearly dragged up the stairs, so eager are they for his blood. He stumbles slightly, his head spinning. With his nearly blind eyes, Maxime looks around at the people who have crowded around the guillotine. There are women knitting in the front row. Children are on their parents shoulders. People throw flowers and fruit.

This was what he wanted the Celebration of the Supreme Being to be like, Max thinks, a last flicker of irony going through his brain.  

He is shoved against the plank of woods, bounds quickly wrapped around him. He stares around blankly, and something like fire races up his spine when he thinks that Danton must have been strapped to this same plank before he died. And Camille, and Lucile. Louis Capet. Marie Antoinette.

Maximilien Robespierre. His jaw throbs as the muscles twitch.

Suddenly a pair of hands is grabbing at his face and ripping his bandages away.

He can’t prevent the scream that tears itself from his throat. It has been building there since he was young and has been too long contained, he thinks madly, his own screaming deafening as the plank is lowered and slid forward. This scream is what is under all his tightly contained convictions, all his primness, and virtue. This is what he is reduced to, a screaming voiceless animal, who is going to die in pain, alone.

Maximilien dies screaming.  

XXX

In the year three thousand.

Max flinched awake, immediately choking. His body automatically curls up to defend itself, every never alive and screaming to help him avoid death.

“Whoa! You’re okay! It’s fine, you’re okay!” Someone says to him and he moves away from the kindly hand placed on his shoulder.

Max gasps in air, even as he feels his throat constrict, and panics even more.

He doesn’t want to die.

If he can’t breathe, if he can’t breathe, he can’t speak and if he can’t speak he won’t be able to defend himself.

The blood of Danton chokes him!

“Relax, relax, your heart is going crazy right now, you need to calm down before you put yourself into cardiac arrest.” The words mean nothing to him, but the warm hand on his shoulder gives Max something to focus on. He is forced to sit up, his eyes struggling to focus on something, anything. He still has no glasses and the room is blindingly bright.

“Whoa, you’re face…” The voice, it sounds like a woman, mutters. “It’s okay, it’s okay, just breathe okay? Um, with me. In,” She presses on Maximilien’s chest and he takes a shallow breath in, feeling it end in dry sob. “And out.’

She forced him to keep breathing, patting his shoulder.

“I’m grabbing you some medicine, I’ll be right back okay? Just-just keep breathing.”

Max’s chest was caving on itself and he gasped, laying back down on the cold metal table he found himself on.

“Here, here, it’s okay. “ Something cold was pressed to his neck and within moments Maximilien was gasping in cold air, his lungs inflating again.

“There. Better? Huh, I didn’t know that you were asthmatic.”

Max squinted up at the woman, trying to bring her into focus. Her dark hair was free flowing and hung around her face like fabric.

“W-where am I? Who are you?”

“Stay calm. You’re on North America, in a city called Grand Forks. My name is Doctor Rainbow Miller.”

Max stared at her as best he could, his head spinning. He tightly gripped the edges of the table he was laying on and the cold seeped into his bare skin.

“H-how am I alive?” The words he meant to thank were of thanks, but they got lost and morphed on the way out.

She touched his shoulder again. The doctor sounded proud when she announced,

“I brought you back.”

Back?

Back, from death?

Max laid back down and closed his eyes, a headache getting ready to bloom behind them.

She patted his shoulder and he wanted to jerk away. The lights were blinding him and he was too cold.

“You’re going to be okay, Robespierre.”