A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Eight: Eschewal. Part Two.


Rain’s worst fears were confirmed when she opened the door and a member of the Komali was standing on the porch, shading their eyes and starting to sweat under Earth’s sun.


“Hello, may I help you?” Rain asked pleasantly, carefully holding the door so the alien could not see past her shoulder into the house behind her. One of the dogs was behind her, a cold wet nosed pressed to the skin at the back of her knee.

“You are Doctor Rainbow Miller?” The Komali asked.

“Yes. Do I know you?” Sweat ran the back of her neck.

The alien frowned. “No. I am the presiding ambassador of the Komali for your Federation. I am Maltass.” They dipped their head, bird-like.

Rain dipped back, and prayed that Leonardo’s or Richard’s curiosity wasn’t going to get the better of them.

“It’s wonderful to meet you  ambassador Maltass. Is there something I can d-”

The Komali’s face, usually so placid and pleasant, with the droopy eyelids and full lips, and soft pastel colored skin tones, only marked by the stripes of darker color, had hardened and their lips drew back into a grimace.

“You can return what you stole!”


“Who do think that is?” Robespierre asked quietly, twisting around in his chair to watch Rain’s retreating back. They heard the door open and Rain asked in a loud, and falsely cheer voice, “Hello?”

Richard was leaning over the table, trying to see. “I can’t tell, maybe someone from the government?”

Leonardo shook his head. “Why wouldn’t they just contact Rain through her connection, if they need her?” He shook his head again, brushing his hair from his face. He couldn’t wait until it was long enough to tie back and away again. “I think it’s probably her old assistant, Kamala Mason.”

“The one who left? Why would she come back?” Richard challenged him.

Leonardo shrugged. “Perhaps she changed her mind?”

You can return what you stole!

All three of them jumped and Ava’s ears prinked up. Pallas growled from under the table.

The door suddenly slammed and heavy footsteps started down the hall towards the kitchen. Richard leapt from his chair and backed away, towards the counter, where some knives sat in a block.

Leonardo too, moved from the table when he realized there was no way that any normal human could be causing such as noise, and quickly proven correct when a figure, over seven feet tall, with pale purple skin, and no hair burst in.

Robespierre shrieked, and quickly cut himself off, clapping both hands over his mouth, even as his whole frame bucked backward from…from whatever it was. Richard dropped the paring knife he grabbed.

The thing frowned, and whipped around to confront Rain, who came limping quickly after it.

“I knew it! Your government tried to protect you, but-”

“These are my relatives, cousins on my mother’s side,” Rain cut in smoothly. The thing, monster, dragon, thing, sneered.

“I’ve been on earth for over six months, and have no one that looks like them,” it waved a hand at Robespierre, Richard and Leonardo, all of whom were still too stunned to speak.

Indeed, Richard looked like he might never speak again.

“Besides, does it have a ID?”

The thing grabbed Robespierre around the neck, and Leonardo caught sight of a fear far more primal than a simple distaste of touch would allow for. The man’s face was utterly white, the scare tissue disappearing and making him appear much younger. The thing brushed the hair at the nape of his neck away and bobbed it’s head.

“Is expected. Nothing.” It release Robespierre, who stumbled away, back to the wall, looking ready to flee. His grey-green eyes had lost all of their usual sharp, able stare instead reverting back to that of a much younger man’s, terrified and speechless.

Rain stood frozen, staring at between the thing and Robespierre, to Leonardo and Richard back up against the counter. She rubbed her forehead, advertising her thought process.

“Leonardo da Vinci, Richard the Third, and Maximilien Robespierre, please meet ambassador Maltass, of the Komali. They are an alien,” she clarified at Leonardo’s lost look. Rain turned to the alien ambassador.

“Won’t you please take a seat and we can talk about this?”

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Eight: Eschewal. Part One.


For Rainbow Miller the next week passed disappointingly.

Far from the Historical Figure think tank she’d anticipated, the three men seemed to be avoiding both her, and each other.

Richard spent most of his time physically out of the house, and for some reason, Ava seemed to have become fascinated with him. The dog had started to follow him everywhere. Rain figured that at least with this, if Richard tried to do a runner, she would be able to track Ava to find him if nothing else.

She had rarely seen Robespierre, who was staying to his room, claiming illness. It occurred to Rain that she hadn’t properly inoculated any of the men. It retrospect, this seemed like a problem, since now Robespierre was refusing to even leave his claimed sanctuary and if he had something like smallpox, she would be responsible for bring back one of the most infectious diseases of all time.

The upside was that, upon doing some hasty research, it seemed Robespierre had regular bouts of illness, most of them brought on by exhaustion, and possibly psychosomatic. In the end Rain finally concluded that leaving Robespierre to his own devices was the safest rout she could take, and when he was out of his self-imposed exile, she would burn everything that could carry an infection and make all three men have their shots.

Rain was most disappointed in Leonardo. He seemed to seek distance from her, deliberately avoiding her invitations to go down to her lab and spending all of his time absorbed in the tablet Rain had given him. When Rain teased him, “What are to so entranced in? Already have a crush Leonardo?” He simply smiled enigmatically and shook his head.

Rain hated to admit failure, but so far she had to admit living with the dead was not nearly as exciting as she had hoped.

It was a week that they had relocated back to Colorado that there was a knock on the door.

Robespierre had finally rejoined them, and too his credit, Rain did think he looked as if he’d been ill lately. His pallor was grey and it almost appeared that someone had punched him in the eyes, so dark and blue were the circles under them.

“After breakfast we’re doing inoculations for you all, and that’s final!” She declared.

“Inno-que-what?” Richard asked.

“Prevention against illness,” Leonardo mumbled tonelessly, staring into the tablet as usual.

“How-” Richard started but was cut off by a sharp knock at the door.

Rain froze.

She was not expecting anyone, and other than Kamala no one knew that the men were here. Kam knew better than to come here unexpectedly, especially after her temper tantrum back at the lab.

Most likely it was someone from the Federation, coming to bother her about some problem or wanting her for a mission or a lecture or other nonsense. She swallowed hard.

Rain waved a finger at the three men, all of them staring, transfixed at her. “Stay. Right. Here. I’ll get rid of them.”

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Seven: Rest in Pain. Part Four.

The be-damned hound was still following him, right up until Richard closed the door of his room. To his surprise, she didn’t whine or bark. He wondered if he was going to end up tripping over her when he left his cramped room in the morning. He didn’t know if Rain had set the dog to trail after him or not, but couldn’t help to feel uneasy by the canine shadow.

He wasn’t sure if that was he own prudence speaking up or if he was over reacting. His whole body felt battered and his mind tender, as if it had been smashed in the face of his new reality.

Richard sighed and ran his hands through his hair, frowning.

But Lord, how he missed Anne. There had been many times in his life when Richard had no one by his side. When he and George had been sent away for their safety after their father was killed, Richard would sometimes ache from the crushing isolation that bore down on him. After George tried defecting to Warwick and Edward was bending over backwards to please the Woodvilles and his new wife, Richard had felt very alone in the London court. He hadn’t even had Lovell there.

Anne had often been able to sympathize with his feelings, having spent her own time away from her mother and sister, trapped with Henry and Margaret D’Anjou. Then again when George had trapped her, trying to steal her inheritance. Richard had known that with Anne by his side he would at least always have a steadfast companion, despite her sex.

But then after Ned and Anne had died, Richard knew that he’d lost his best connections to others and his isolation had been complete. Not even Catsby or Francis could ease the loneliness at the end. His solace had been in the thought that one day he’d meet them again in Heaven with the Lord.

Richard sat down on the bed very slowly.

But something had gone wrong, and now he was stuck here, still breathing, made up by some mad witch, and with Leonardo, the Italian who he couldn’t parse yet, and Robespierre who he already did not like. He scrubbed a hand over his face, the stubble of his beard scratching his palm.

He was beginning to tire, and very slowly laid down on the mattress, legs still hanging half off the bed. He closed his eyes and fell asleep almost at once.

Run faster, run faster, run faster. His heart was pounding and there was red blood splashed on his bristly white fur. He charged through the thick dark undergrowth, trees leering over and rose bush’s thorns adding to his scratches.

Behind Richard, he can hear the thunderous roars, the crackling of fire, and the hurricane like whooshes from wings. He was running like the wind, panting harshly, but he’s not going to be able to run forever. Even as the hunting beast bares down on him, Richard spun and instead charged fearlessly at his enemy.

Much larger than he, and filling the entire sky it seemed, was a red dragon, wings rending the stormy sky behind it. On it’s back was Henry Tudor, bearing a sword. Richard knew he could gore him, if only he can get close enough. He’s not afraid of a child, of a puffed-up traitor. He’s going to kill him and bring an end to all this suffering.  

But it was never going to be enough, because even as he raced to his foe, the dragon reached down and snatched him off the ground, teeth tearing into his side. There was a disorienting moment before the dragon closed his mouth that Richard could see out, into the sky, but then the beast swallowed and Richard was dropped into darkness.

He landed, squealing in shock, anger, and pain, in the sick of the stomach. Bile engulfed him and Richard paddled furiously to stay afloat in the foul liquid.

Around him he could see the bones and tusks of his family. His father’s head, crowned in a ring of white roses and thorns, his brothers, Edmund, Edward, and George, and sister, Margret. His son, like him but in miniature, flesh melting off his bones and flesh seared red.

Anne, throat torn out and eyes closed, was bobbing in the red sludge. Richard paddled harder, but the thick liquid was wearing him down and he knew that soon he would not be able to hold himself up any longer. He moved over to where Anne was, and slowly allowed himself to stop swimming.

Richard woke with a start, painfully banging his foot off the metal frame of the bed. Curing, Richard rolled over and grabbed the injury. Thankfully the pain chased the worst of the fog of the night terror away. By the time the ankle stopped throbbing Richard had nearly gotten his heart beat under control.

He laid back down and clapped a hand over his eyes, frowning grimly.

In that moment, he was eight years old again, homesick and mourning his family all over again.   

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Seven: Rest in Pain. Part Three.

During the Revolution Maximilien’s habit had been to stay up until at least midnight, writing his drafts, revising, answering correspondence, and while working on the Committee, arguing bitterly with Collot d’Herbois and Barras.

However he found himself more easily tired now. It was as if death had sapped all of his energy, he thought, somewhat wryly.

Max persisted, eyes tracing over the familiar words of Rousseau. He knew that he it did him no good to dwell, but it didn’t stop him from wanting the comforting presence of what he knew.

Rainbow Miller kept hinting at his reputation after his death, but Max very carefully kept from that as well. For him, it had been less than a week since he made his speech to thunderous applause at the Jacobin club, tried to make his declamation to the Assembly, been arrested, escaped jail, seen his comrades shot, been injured, and finally sentenced to death.

It seemed to him that ripping open the wound, as if to blood let, would do nothing to aid his adjustment to his current situation.

So he re-read The Social Contract, Émile, and made it into Confessions, before inevitably, his eyes started to close.

He was in the Pantheon. Torchlight from a wildly swinging latern made shadows sway along the tombs. Maxime looked around and realized he was standing among familiar bodies. Camille and Lucile rested closest to him, eyes closed peacefully. At first Max convinced himself they were sleeping, but then he looked closer and realized that Camille’s head was actually simply placed near his neck, not on it.

There was no blood.

Max walked between the bodies of Augustin, Charlotte, Henriette. The Duplays. Horace. Saint-Just. Danton.

“These are yours.” Max suddenly realized that Marat had been standing next to him the entire time. He still had Corday’s knife sticking out of his chest. He gestured to Louis Capet and Marie Antoinette.

Max shook his head. He could not speak with the scent of death rising up around him.

Marat took his arm and started leading him past more bodies. Brissot, Couthon, Mirabeau, Bailey.

“These are all the ones that you caused to be killed,” Marat, in his typical fashion gesticulated wildly, arm sweeping around, the knife in his chest wobbling with every movement. His voice started to be pitched higher and higher. “Jacobins, Girondists, Indulgents.”

Max stumbled to a stop, and clapped a hand to his mouth. He could feel bile, oily and hot, rising in his throat. Grey mist rose in front of his eyes. Was it the torchlight or had Augustin’s head turned to him? Was Camille blinking slowly or was it his mind?

“The entire Revolution, lumped in with the ilk of Cromwell.” Marat finished, standing in front of Max. His yellow eyes seemed to burn in the strange atmosphere of the Pantheon.

He opened his mouth to speak and instead felt the bile rise, and rise until he was gagging.

But it was not bile at all. A huge, grey, slimy worm emerged from his mouth, spilling out down past his neck and chest, squirming lazily. Max’s mouth hung open dumbly as the weight of the worm forced his tongue to the side. He could taste the rot and dirt from the invertebrate in his mouth.

Marat took hold of the warm and yanked on it, and Maximilien nearly fell into him. The suddenly hands from all around were grabbing at him, at the issue of his mouth.

“Terror shall be the order of the day.”

“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”

Words that he’d never said, never declared spilled from the worm while the dead tried to rip it from his body. Pale, stiff hands pawed at his face and shoulders.

With a final yank, delivered by Phillipe Lebas, still bleeding from temple, the worm was ripped from his mouth. Maximilien looked at the slimy appanage.

But it was not the disgusting insect from inside, it was a sluggishly bleeding tongue instead.

Max woke with a start, hands flying up to his face and knocking his new glasses askew. His skin was clammy and shivers ran over belly and back. He shuddered as his fingers brushed over the raised skin of the guillotine scar.

He put the book on the side of bed, and curled himself under the covers, still shaking with the aftershocks of the dream.

It took a long time for him to fall back asleep.    

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Seven: Rest in Pain. Part Two.

Leonardo rubbed distractedly at his eyes, blinking in the harsh light. He’d gone to his borrowed room after dinner, and the collective decision to try and leave Rain had been made.

His mind felt crowed by too much, the past few days catching up with him.

One moment Leonardo had been dying in France and the next he was alive in North America. It felt to him like he was only half-awake, a disquieting feeling, as Leonardo had always prided himself on his ability to see things as they really were. However now he was reliant on Rain’s interpretation, locked inside of her home and blocked at odd junctures from outside information.

Leonardo found the animated laughing mask that blocked him from certain ‘websites’ infuriating.

He sighed and went back to staring at the tablet screen: he’d been reading his companions histories.

Richard, it turned out had a whole scandal behind his rule. Having lived in Milan for a good portion of his adult life, Leonardo found it hard to be scandalized by the theory that Richard may have had his nephews killed to clear his way to the throne. Abhorrent, but nothing that Leonardo had not heard from Nicco or seen Caesar Borgia before. He was mildly surprised to find that Richard had died younger than he or Robespierre, however. There was something so…ancient in the ex-king’s bearing, that it made Leonardo assume he’d been an old man when he’d died. He presumed that it had something to do with the man’s spine. The official biography said it was ‘scoliosis, a twisting of the spine that occurred in adolescent. It would account for the pained grimace the man seemed to carry constantly.

Meanwhile, he also found himself stunned and entranced by the times Maximilien Robespierre came from.

Leonardo could scarcely wrap his head around the philosophe of the period, phrases from ‘The Rights of Man’ swimming before his eyes, let alone the frantic action that followed. An entire populace rising against their sovereign. Leonardo thought he’d seen the height of madness during the French Occupation of Lombardy, he could only imagine the horrors of what all of France would be like in a riot.

He found himself drawn to the guillotine, drawing it over a dozen times in his notes, from different angles and sizes. Once he’d included a headless corpse, simply to amuse and frighten himself. It was such a perfect method of death, from the height of blade to the materials used. Leonardo already wanted to see if there was a way to improve it.

Robespierre, shockingly, seemed to be at the very epicenter of much of the Revolution. His name was repeated from 1789 to 1794, and even cited by the men who followed after him. For such a withdrawn and diminutive figure, Robespierre must have been an amazing orator when he put his mind to it, Leonardo concluded.

He rubbed his eyes again and smother his yawn. He spun the pen in his hand, and followed the spinning movement. Slowly, his eyes shut.

Falling asleep is something your brain does automatically. You close your eyes for one moment and your brain shuts down higher functions.

Leonardo was still sketching, firelight playing over his paper while his red chalk chased the flickering shadows. It seemed like hours later when a knock on the wooden door disturbed him. Without getting up he was at the door and opening it.

It was the Officers of the Night, but Leonardo could not identify their faces. They took him, and suddenly Leonardo was standing in front of the moral guardians of Florence. Except they wore tri colored slashes and had feathers in their hats. This didn’t strike Leonardo as odd.

“Leonardo ser Piedro da Vinci you stand accused of indecency and sodomy. Evidence has been brought before the court,” Salai, dressed as Bacchus, stepped forward and smiled at Leonardo, “and you have been sentenced to death.”

Leonardo blinked again and he was walking up to the scaffold. Except it wasn’t. The shape of the guillotine was back by the stars in the inky sky, were kites flew, calling out to one another before landing and pecking at the eyes of dead and skeletal bodies. Leonardo looked over at the executioner and found a crooked-backed Lorenzo de Medici holding the rope. He grimaced as he was tied down to the plank.

As it ever was, his own patrons were the most destructive aspect of his life.

He had the perfect angle to survey the crowd before the blade came down. He felt no fear, only a curious sensation of inevitability. He heard the blade fall, but felt no pain. His head fell and met the wood of the scaffold.

Leonardo sighed as he woke up. He groaned when he realized he’d drooled all over his sketches and the desk. The clock only read a half hour later. The dream had left nothing but a vague feeling of illness, a sudden queasiness that left an ache in his temples and a greasy feeling at the back of his throat.

He rubbed his eyes again, and surrendered to the inevitable: clearly it was time for bed.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Seven: Rest in Pain. Part One.


Richard was back in the kitchen, face set soberly. His back was to a corner and his arms crossed over his chest.

He eyed them both when they sat down. Rain was nowhere to be seen. “She headed off to the basement, and told me not to leave the house.” He sneered. “Did Leonardo tell you what Miller told us? About the,” Richard waved his hand at the back of his neck.

Robespierre nodded grimly. “Oui.” He sat down, crossing his arms tightly over his chest.

Richard shook his head slowly and rubbed a hand over his face.

“I’ve never imagined a future could be like this,” he muttered lowly. “The barbarity of it.”

Robespierre nodded in agreement, and frowned sourly.

“I agree.” The words came out slowly and very quietly. Leonardo smiled slightly. Clearly it pained the other man to admit the two of them could agree on anything.

“So what do we do about it?” Leonardo asked quietly. Both of the other men looked at him.

“Do?” Richard asked.

“Si. We can’t just sit here and let ourselves be trapped here, as some entertainment to Rain,” Leonardo whispered urgently.

Robespierre nodded again. “We could leave in the middle of night. We’d have hours ahead of her.”

“She said the government here will catch up to us,” Richard pointed out.

“Maybe that’s what we want, to be caught.” Leonardo stroked a hand over his chin.

Richard turned his steely gaze to Leonardo. “What do you mean?”

“It’s clear that Rain will not let us go. And we cannot leave without help. Ergo, we should seek to be caught. Perhaps someone will be sympathetic to our plight.” Leonardo spread his hands out and shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s… not very optimistic,” Robespierre pointed out slowly.

Richard made an abortive frustrated movement, as if to draw a weapon from his belt, fingers scraping his belt. “I’m not fond of the idea of just waiting for our opportunity to leave,” he growled.

“What do you suggest, murdering Rain and running for it?” Robespierre suggested acerbically. Richard turned to the corner, hands braced on the countertop.

“No,” he finally said, after a heavy silence. “But if the opportunity doesn’t arrive within a fortnight, I’m taking my leave of this place, aid or no.”

Richard pushed his way past Leonardo on his way out of the kitchen.

“Well, that went well,” he sighed. Robespierre snorted.

“He won’t ever listen to good sense,” the Frenchman opinioned. “Only to his own.”

Leonardo shrugged again. “We can try at least.”


That night, dinner passed as a quiet, awkward affair. Rain, over a simple meal of bread, olives, wine, and fish, which all three of her guests were familiar with, and so spared her the quickly exhausting task of trying to explain every food in the replicator to them. Richard would eat whatever you in front of him, as long as it was hot, while Leonardo seemed intent on questioning her on every aspect of the dish.

Rain put her fork aside and looked at each of the three men in turn. Richard was tearing into the bread and chasing it with wine. He kept his eyes on his plate and Rain thought she could see a muscle in his cheek twitching. Leonardo was seemingly intent on his olives, and Robespierre was taking tiny delicate bites of fish, ignoring the wine entirely.

“Look, I know you don’t understand now, but really, the IDs were the best solution for the Federation. It brought some stability back to the planet after World War three and the environmental fallout.”

The flat unimpressed stares that she was met with made Rain half throw her hands up.

“Out of anyone, I’d think the three of you could appreciate that the most, you know, stability.”

“There’s a difference between stability and a leash,” Robespierre said quietly.

“Because the Terror was the most effective means of governing,” Rain snapped back. Robespierre tilted his head, myopic gaze glittering with confusion. Rain took a deep breath and flapped her hand in his direction. “Never mind.”

Leonardo cleared his throat gently. “When do you return to work? Surely you’ll be missed.”

Rain leaned back and smirked. “I have another month of leave before anyone expects me back.”

Richard glanced at Leonardo, who shrugged and smiled affably.

“Wonderful. I’m sure you still have much to show us.”

Rain brightened. “Yeah! There’s a lot you’ve missed being dead the past fifteen hundred years. Oh, I should show you movies tomorrow.” She smirked. “Disney is going blow your mind.”

Leonardo nodded, smiling pleasantly. He had methodically been tearing a slice of bread into smaller and smaller chunks.

“I’m sure it will be enlightening.”

Rain beamed and got up from the table, taking her dish to the replicator and recycling it.

“Don’t stay up too late, we have princess movies to watch tomorrow!” She ruffled Leonardo’s hair, and limped away.


Leonardo ran his hand through his hair, smoothing it back down from where Rain had touched it.

Richard and Robespierre were silent, both of them staring at him. He sighed.

“Two weeks, and I’m willing to try our fortune by leaving.”

Richard nodded grimly and looked at Robespierre. “And you?”

Robespierre glanced over the rim of his glasses and sighed. “I will not stay here, not if there is a chance to return to France.”

Leonardo nodded and smiled gently. “I would like to return to Italy, as well.”

“England. York.” Richard muttered.

The three man sat in silence, thinking of their homes, a calling in their bones that couldn’t be denied.


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


The hound was still trailing him.

Richard had left Rain’s oddly garish and huge house early, stopping only to grab bread. She’d locked the so termed ‘replicator’ so he couldn’t get beer, but this the bread would serve to break his fast.

Richard wasn’t entirely sure where he was going, only grappling with his fierce desire to get away from Rain, from the odd Italian and the French usurper. However about ten minutes into his walk, he realized that he’d gained a shadow, in the form of Rain’s massive hound, Ava.

“Get,” he barked sharply at it. The dog stared at him, seemingly unimpressed. Richard scowled at the beast and finally with a sigh, trekked on.

The woods around Rain’s house were not like those around the city of York. The trees were sparse, the air itself was thinner. He was climbing up a steep incline, his lungs burning. However it was more alive he’d felt since the morning of the battle with Lancaster, so Richard took what he could get. When Richard felt he was high enough, he sat down at the base of a large pine tree and wiped the sweat from his face with his shirt. It wasn’t fine enough material for him to worry about ruining, he reasoned. Ava, who had been sniffing at bushes ahead of him, turned and climbed cat-like back down the rocky incline. She sat a few feet from him, back stiff and ears pricked forward.

“How did you fall in with Miller, hmm?” Richard asked the dog. “You seem like a beast of good sense.”

Ava turned her head to him, and cocked it to the right.

‘Same as you,’ her expression seemed to say. ‘No choice but to fall in line with her mad commands.’

Richard nodded then stopped himself.

“I am not going to start talking to dumb beasts,” he muttered and crossed himself.

Ava threw herself down on the ground and turned her back to him while Richard ate his breakfast. He offered the last bite to the hound.

“Don’t be offended. I won’t be talking to the mad Frenchman either, and you’re far better company than him.”


By the time Richard had found his way back to the house, (a few times he had been turned around and run in the property lines, as marked by high wooden slate fences) Rain was nowhere to be seen. However Robespierre was bent over a book, a stoneware cup of…something in front of him. The Frenchman didn’t look as Richard and Ava entered. Richard fumbled with the ‘replicator’ for a few minutes but finally got the blasted device to serve him a simple stew. Although it still wouldn’t give him beer.

He sat across from Robespierre, and stared at the man’s twisted face. He mouth was moving minutely as his eyes moved along the pages. Richard leaned slightly to make out the title, neatly stamped on the front. “The Social Contract.”

“Hmm?” Robespierre looked up, blinking slowly. He looked as if he’d been asleep and was only just awakening. He blinked again and looked around.

Richard gestured with his spoon.

“What is that you’re reading?”

Robespierre stiffened but replied, “The great philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.”

“Someone you knew?” Richard guessed, by the way Robespierre carefully said the man’s name. Maybe some uncle or cousin. Robespierre turned the book over in his hands and looked at the cover, fingers spread over it protectively.

“I knew him, but only by the words he spoke to me, the eternal ideas he passed down through his writings. He and I were of one kin, the same situation, the same-”

Richard, fearing that Robespierre would continue in this thread, put a hand up. “Stop. I believe I understand.”

Robespierre narrowed his eyes at Richard’s hand, and his mouth twisted mulishly. “Hmph. You do, do you?”

“Yes. He’s another usurper, isn’t he?” Richard leaned forward, bracing himself on the table. He pointed empathetically at the book.

The other man stood, chair legs scraping. He flattened the book with his hand, and in shrilly ringing tones began to read. “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave-”

Richard stood up as well.

“My sovereignty was ordained by the Lord! I reigned by his wish, and that of my people!”

“You did nothing for the people, not if you ruled without their consent.” Robespierre rapped the table with his knuckles, punctuating his words.

Richard felt a hot wave of fury wash over him, while guilt curdled in his stomach. He pushed it aside and focused on his anger.

“Nothing for my people? Twenty years of devoted service to my brother, to my country, ensuring their protection and welfare is nothing to you?” He growled. “What did you offer to them? Paltry freedoms, gifts, guardianship?”

Robespierre’s whole face twitched, as if Richard had touched some open wound that hurt him terribly.

“I have never,” he took off his glasses and fixed his gaze on Richard “ever aspired to be the guardianship of society.” He shoved his glasses back on. “All I have wanted was for the good of the people.”

Richard snorted. “No one is ever just in it for the good of the people.”

“Maybe not your kind,” Robespierre snapped.

Richard drew a deep breath, preparing himself to tear into the Frenchman. However he stopped as Rain and Leonardo entered, still talking.

“And that was how the theory of relativity was developed.” Rain stopped and looked at Richard and Robespierre, who were standing there, flushed from their debate and Richard’s cold stew on the table. She grinned and winked.

“Are we interrupting something?”


Leonardo raised his eyebrows the same time Robespierre flushed. Richard stared at the two of them blankly.

He must have been outside for a long while, the skin of his nose and forehead was burned.

Robespierre snatched the book off of the table and tucked it under his arm.

“Non. I was just leaving.” With that he stalked off, upstairs towards the bedrooms.

Rain rolled her eyes. “Drama queen, amirite?”

Leonardo shrugged, reluctant to get in between the two.

Richard sat back down, looked at his bowl and sighed.

“When can I return to England, Miller?” He asked, voice plaintive. Leonardo found it prudent to busy himself at the replicator.

“Um, never. No one can know you’re here.”

“What?” Leonardo spun around, eyes wide.

Rain looked at him, brown eyes surprised.

“Well of course. You’re supposed to be dead. Dead men can’t just roam the streets of earth.”

“How would they even know? Who remembers us after all this time?” Richard asked in exasperation, throwing a hand up.

Rain smiled. “I didn’t exactly pick low profile people. I would say that most people would know who Leonardo is at least, you’re definitely still remembered in England and Robespierre in France.”

“We can take different names, they don’t need to know it’s us,” Leonardo pointed out. Rain rolled her eyes again.

“It’s not the names. It’s the fact you don’t belong. And everyone will know it too.”

Rain stood up and turned her back to them, before moving her hair off her neck. There, just over the top vertebrate was a small silvery marking of some sort.

“What is that?” Richard asked slowly. “Some mark devilry?”

“No. It’s something that every person, man, woman, alien, child, has on planet earth. They’re called IDentifiers. They’re given to you immediately when you come to earth. If you’re a natural born citizen, it’s when you’re born. If you’re an alien it’s when you’re signed in as a citizen. It’s how the Federation has kept the planet at peace for so long.” She turned.

“Everyone, from the children being born right this moment, to the old people dying has one. It’s hard to cause trouble when the government knows where everyone is all the time. It measures your heartbeat, brainwaves, tracks all your records, credits, job, housing, family, medical records, everything. And the three of you are the only ones on the planet without one. You try and go anywhere without it, and well…” She shrugged. “Let’s just say, you won’t be able to avoid the Federation for very long.”

Leonardo knew he looked pale, and Richard was looking at Rain with true fear in his eyes.

“So we’re trapped? Here? With you?” Richard croaked. Rain huffed, and crossed her arms.

“You make it sound so bad. It’s better than the 16th century right?”

Richard sprang away from his chair and bolted down the hall to the front door. They heard it slam and Rain sighed.

“I never knew they were going to be so much trouble. I should have done Ghandi like Kam said,” she muttered, then turned to Leonardo, who was still reeling. “Can you go collect out wayward revolutionary? I’ll go after our highness, King Richard.” Before Leonardo could speak, she waved her hand in the direction that Robespierre had taken.

He found Robespierre in his room. The door was practically open and the other man didn’t seem to be doing anything, other than absently stroking Pallas so Leonardo gently tapped on the wooden frame of the door.


The door opened the rest of the way, and he entered. Robespierre looked up at him.

“May I help you, citiz- monsieur Leonardo?” He seemed to stumble over the title.

“Please, just Leonardo. May I sit?” He gestured to the bed. Robespierre shrugged.

The two remained silent for a long moment. Leonardo was still processing what Rain had said.

The violation of it chilled his soul. He tried to imagine what someone like Il Moro would have done with a power like that and shuddered. To be constantly tracked, noted, followed.

If the Officers of the Night had that power…

“Are you alright?” Leonardo jumped.

Robespierre was staring at him. “You’ve gone pale and grey.”

Leonardo swallowed hard and closed his eyes. In hushed tones he explained to Robespierre what Rain had told them. When he opened his eyes, Robespierre looked as horrified as Richard had.

“Oh god. What do we do?” he choked out.

Leonardo shrugged.

“For now, go downstairs.”

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


In the dark of the night Clio trailed around Rainbow’s home, her one eye roving over some the scientists curiosities. This was undoubtedly the most boring part of her job as a Muse. The waiting. When she’d had her sisters and son around it hadn’t been as bad, but now on her own Clio was relegated to re-reading the ancient earth texts Rain had carefully stored on her bookshelves. She was starting to wish for any company, even Spectra’s, when out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the large hound pad past, making her way to the back door.

“Smart dog,” she muttered to herself as the hound stood on her hind legs to press the door knob down then nose it open. Rather than letting the door swing shut behind it, the dog carefully picked up a stone it it’s mouth and positioned it in the door, preventing it from closing.

“Curious and curiouser,” Clio muttered, setting her book aside and getting up to follow the dog out. She phased through the door easily enough and walked over the slightly dry grass to where, much to her surprise, all of the dogs were assembled. She sat down, knees folder under her and resting back on her heels.

While the dogs weren’t talking, she had the definite feeling they were certainly communicating. One of the them would bark or growl softly, the others would respond, yipping, shaking or growling back.

“I’ll be struck, Spectra might be right,” the older Muse muttered, and hoped that the Hyena trickster might never find out she admitted it aloud.

The dogs stayed on the back lawn for nearly an hour before the big hound, yawned and stood up. She was easily the tallest dog there, and with a quick shake she turned and trotted back up to the house. One by one the other dogs followed her in. Clio stood and stretched, strolling alongside the smallest one, a fluffy tan dog with bright black eyes who stumbled once or twice in her exhaustion. They filed into the living room where most of them curled up on the rug, closing their eyes and falling asleep.

However the big hound, the curly haired white poodle and the long short dog went off to in the direction of the bedrooms. Clio followed along, figuring now was a good a time as any to check on her charges.

Three of them were asleep. Rain, with her long dark hair spread over her face and pillows, and her faithful cane next to her bed. Richard was on his back, frowning thunderously even in his sleep. Wryly, Clio wondered if he was dreaming of ghosts. Finally Robespierre was tossing and turning, sleeping clothes stuck to his body with sweat. When the poodle saw this, she whined, and leapt up on the, resting her head next to the distressed sleeper. It seemed to calm him somewhat, and Clio left slightly amused at the dogs reaction.

Leonardo was still not asleep. Examining his intense pose, Clio wasn’t even sure if he was aware that it was nighttime. The Italian was busy writing notes in his sketchbook, pages already scattered around him.

“A true follower of Hephaestus, aren’t you?” She asked the mortal teasingly. Leonardo smiled and shook his head at something he read, going back and scratching out part of his notes. “Hmph. You seem to learn better than your fellows at least.” She sat herself at the end of his unused bed, ignoring how she sank into it several inches, rather than the bed giving way under her weight. The downside of being incorporeal.

Leonardo sighed gustily, running a hand through his dark hair and then stroking it over his beard. He seemed surprised when he ran out of hair to pull, looking down. He chuckled ruefully.

“Keep forgetting you aren’t in your sixties anymore?” Clio asked rhetorically. Leonardo rubbed his eyes and sat back, yawning massively into his hand. Clio laughed. “You look just like your name sake when you do that!”

She moved out of the way when Leonardo stood up and stumbled into the bed, landing facedown and slumping into the mattress. It was a far cry from his usually graceful bearing.

His snores started almost immediately and Clio sighed.

It was times like this where she’d give up limbs, love, vitality to have the gift of dream walking like Spectra did. She was intensely curious as to what her mortal charges might have been dreaming.

Of their past lives? The strange future they were now living in? Past loves, or of their enemies closing in around them? Did they dream at all?

Clio sighed again and walked soundlessly over to where Leonardo had been sitting. She Leafed through the sketches. He was already drawing to the small portion of the world he’d been exposed to. Rain made her appearance as Athena, an old Milianese captain’s helmet on her head, while her braid curled around her face like a serpent. He made sketches of the inventions she shown him, and geographical maps of North Dakota. Richard popped up as well, Leonardo already speculating on his uneven shoulders, and a hurried drawing, no larger than Clio’s palm, was of a curved spine, nearly exactly like the scoliosis that Richard suffered from.

Leonardo seemed to have developed an interest in the bullet scar in Robespierre’s face as well, since he had one full sized drawing, and several in minute, drawn to detail it. In a gory example, Leonardo had apparently speculated on how Robespierre had been shot, and showed an eruption of blood pouring from his mouth.

Finished with her snooping, Clio rearranged the papers back on the desk. She looked over at the sleeping Italian again. He seemed peaceful in his sleep, face lax, and Clio grimaced, thinking of the days ahead of the three men and Rain.

“Yeah, well, enjoy in while you can,” she told him, before quietly leaving his room.


Leonardo was not entirely sure what time it was when he woke up, face pressed into the sheets. He hadn’t slept until late and he was surprised to find his internal clock wasn’t entirely calibrated to the new surroundings yet. However when he sat up and stretched, still amazed to find that after years of waking with creaking and aching bones he was now able to move as smoothly as if his joints had been recently oiled, he looked out the window and found that the sun was already overhead and warming the earth.

Leonardo got up and stripped to change clothing. His nose wrinkled when he realized he smelled of sweat, and the odd sharp tang he was coming to associate with the future. The old clothing, Leonardo neatly piled at the end of the bed and made a mental note to ask Rain about later.

Standing bare in front of the replicator, Leonardo took his time and slowly flipped through the variety of clothing that it offered. This machine, much like the one back at Rain’s lab, did not seem immune to being charmed, and therefore Leonardo soon found himself well threaded in a rose colored shirt, and the same kind of lose hosiery that Rain had foisted on him the day before.

‘Denim’, she called it.

How they got the weave that close, Leonardo was looking forward to finding out.

Down the stairs and through the living room, Leonardo was only able to find Rain and Robespierre.

“Richard left hours ago. But Ava was following him, so I’m not very concerned,” Rain told him. Then she wrinkled her nose at him. “You know I think you could use a shower Leonardo.” She glanced over at Robespierre as well. “Probably you and Richard as too.”

Rain heaved herself to her feet, and gestured for them to follow her.

“I don’t know why she keeps expecting us to know where things are in her house,” Robespierre muttered tartly.

Leonardo shrugged. “She probably keeps forgetting we aren’t from her time.” Robespierre coughed under his breath.

“She likes to remind us well enough.”

Rain opened the door to a room that was tiled from floor to ceiling in white and blue granite tiles. When Leonardo stepped onto the floor, it wasn’t cold, but instead a pleasant warmth on the bottom of his feet.

Rain was standing next to an alcove and they watched her twist one of the silver knobs. Steaming water poured from a spout over her head. She pointed at the knobs. “Red is hot, the blue is cold, and the one in the middle changes where the water is directed. The three of you can use this bathroom.” She limped past them, ignoring their amazed expressions. “Like hell I’ll let you use my bathroom,” she muttered.

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


Leonardo had to restrain himself from immediately investigating all of the cabinets, boxes, doors, and panels of the kitchen. Rain had rested her cane against the table that connected to the white marble counter top. The wood was a dark brown that shined dully in the bright white light from the overhead lights. Rain slapped a panel next to the window over the sink and the coverings slanted to allow sunlight to stream through, brightening the kitchen even more.

The fluffy dog in Leonardo’s arms yapped away, paws scrabbling against the new tunic Rain had given him.

“Put her down, she’ll be fine,” Rain ordered absently, flipping her long hair back and tying it up. Leonardo thought he caught sight of some kind of mark on the back of her neck, but she turned before he could confirm what he saw.

Richard had trailed in after Leonardo, apparently leaving Robespierre’s company to the dogs. Except for one: the hound, Ava, had followed Richard in, yellow eyes fixed on him. Richard looked up at the electric lights, eyes narrowed.

“Where are the candles?” He asked Leonardo, who smiled excitedly.

“There are none! They are e-lec-tric,” he carefully pronounced the unfamiliar word. Richard frowned.

“What does that mean?”

Rain interrupted before Leonardo could explain about the tiny filaments that illuminated using the same energy as lightening.

“You’re close Leo, but actually most of lighting used these days are actually florescent, which uses chemicals instead.”

“Chemicals?” Richard said, the same time Leonardo mouthed the word, “Leo?” half amused, half dismayed at Rainbow’s impropriety.

“Yep. Became cheaper than threading copper wires. It’s also easier to make for the replicators.”

Richard sat down at the table, slumping into the chair. It was quite different from how he usually held himself, stiffly upright.

“I do not understand any of this. The chemicals, the transporter, where the food comes from.” He waved a hand around. Ava who was so tall, she could put her head in Richard’s lap even as his feet dangled a hand’s height from the ground, pushed her muzzle into his free hand. Leonardo had the feeling that admitting such weakness was not in this man’s nature. He glanced at Rain.

She scoffed. “You’ll adapt. It’s not so hard.”

Leonardo, dismayed, looked back to Richard. The man’s face had hardened into a stony expression of dislike.

“Indeed. It looks like I’ll have to,” Richard muttered, grey eyes fixed in such a way that Leonardo knew he was thinking of things other than Rain’s flippant statement. The dog in his arms whined and Leonardo finally released her to the ground, when she quickly padded away out of the room. Ava huffed, nosed Richard one more time, and followed the puppy out.


“Who are they?” Baby panted up at Ava. “The tall one, he smells strange, but nice.”

Ava huffed. “I don’t know. I can smell sad things from them both, but not from Rain.” She sat down in the living room, eyes fixed on the kitchen door.

She hadn’t expected Rain to come home so soon. If Ava hadn’t picked up the sound of her arrival, the pack would have been caught easily in the back yard. Lester and Bobby had just enough time to bury the remnants of the rabbit Lester caught before coming in to greet Rain as she expected.

Usually if Rain had another person over it was Kam, who smelled like rivers and sand and always looked at Ava like a caught rabbit. But these men were strangers, smelling of things that Ava associated with Rain, but not like her exactly.

She rested her head down on her paws, still staring at the door. Were they her mates? Ava didn’t think that Rain was the type to take a mate, she seemed like too much of a loner, but maybe she’d been wrong. Or were they part of Rain’s pack, like Lester, Bobby, Norma were to Ava? She smelled of them, but they weren’t her litter mates.

As Ava considered the mystery Pallas padded into the room, with the third and smallest male, who had a hand placed on her back. Ava huffed in surprise.

Pallas wasn’t known in the pack for being particularly friendly. She tended to be snappish, except with Baby, who was an exception from her rough tongue by virtue of being a puppy. Pallas had snapped at even Rain before, the result being Pallas being sent outside until Rain wasn’t mad anymore. Pallas definitely wouldn’t have let Rain rest her hand on her back, but she seemed perfectly at ease with this strange male stroking her dense curly fur. She woofed her greeting, raising her head. Pallas ignored her alpha, attention fixed on the male, who smiled at Ava.

He bent at his waist, teeth flashing for a moment before he held out a hand for Ava to smell.

“Hello Madame.” He rubbed Ava’s ears and the back of her neck. “Yes, you seem to run a very nice household here,” he spoke softly and kindly to her. “Nicer than your mistress, anyhow,” he huffed. He withdrew his hand and Ava whined, licking his hand. He made a rumbling sound at the back of his throat. “Yes, you are a good girl, hmmm?”

He was stopped when Pallas growled, leaning her weight on his leg, trying to move him from Ava.

“Mine, get your own human,” she snapped at Ava. Ava growled back, ears flipping back.

“He’s not your human.”

“Yes he is, I know it. He smells like mine.” Pallas drew a lip back.

The male interrupted them, placing a hand on Pallas and one on Ava. He cooed at them again, dropping to his knees.

“Shh. Enough of that.” He resumed petting them, hand soft and warm. Pallas reluctantly sat down next to Ava, still trying to get as close to the male as possible.

This one smelled of the same kind of sad things that the other two males did, Ava noted. The smell of salt and metal and bitter. She noticed for the first time however, he was also injured. He smelt of sickness, and blood. She raised her head up higher, sniffing at his mouth. She turned to Pallas.

“He’s sickly,” she woofed. Pallas rolled her eyes, before resting her head on his bent leg.

“I know that. I’ll protect him.”

Ava’s heart sank for her pack mate.

The pack had never been outside of the fenced area and house that made up Rain’s territory. Rain herself hardly stayed here for more than a couple days. It didn’t seem likely that her males would be staying either. Pallas couldn’t really think she would be able to stay with this small sickly male?

But before she could point this out to her, Rain came into the room.

“There you are, Robespierre.”

The male quickly stood, dusting himself off. Pallas got up as well, attention fixed on him, she tried to move closer to him, but the male moved away. Pallas whined, raising her paw to him.

“No,” the male snapped, and Pallas dropped back, sinking to the floor next to Ava. The hound put her nose to her muzzle.

Rain laughed. “I didn’t know you knew much about dogs.” She sat herself on the couch

The male shrugged and sat himself on one of the other chairs. He sat stiffly, every muscle tensed. Ava watched as he arranged himself on the furniture, legs neatly crossed and arms folded over his chest.

“Some things,” he muttered. Ava cocked her head, watching him with narrowed eyes.

These males, whoever they were, would need watching.


The moon had risen by the time Rain finally went to bed. Ava waited until she could hear slow even breathing before getting up and padding out of the room. She nosed her way into each of the bedrooms.

Closest to Rain was dark haired male, who smelled the most like blood and warmth, things Ava associated with being Alpha. The smell of protection, nourishment, the feeling of the pack when they were together. She watched as he stirred in his sleep, twisting and shifting. Often she could hear him mutter or yelp. When Ava rested her head on the end of the bed for a moment, his stirring ceased and his breath eased.

“Anne,” he sighed. Ava huffed and continued her rounds.

Across from Rain was the smallest male. Despite his brusque dismissal of Pallas earlier, Ava still found the poodle resting across the end of the bed. His sleep did not seem any easier than the male Alpha’s. The smell of sickness seemed thicker now and Ava moved on quickly.

The final male was the one she’d been most concerned about. He didn’t smell like anything Ava knew. There were scents she could identify, like wood, chemicals, paper, but beyond that the male smelled the same way the night sky did: big.

He wasn’t asleep when Ava crept into his room. His hands were busy and he was reading from one of Rain’s tablets.

Norma, who had the most talent at reading human text was perched next to him.

“He’s been reading and drawing now for hours. He keeps throwing the ball,” she poked it with her long nose, “and asking me to bring it back.” The Corgi yawned and rested her head on her paws. “It’s tedious really. Bobby would be better at this than me.”

“You know Bobby doesn’t speak, and he can’t read, so it’s up to you to keep an eye on this one and tell me what he reads. We need to find their connection to Rain,” Ava ordered. Norma rolled her eyes and huffed.

“Yes Alpha.”