Rain had taken her sedative upstairs and passed out in her bathroom, propped against the toilet when they went looking for her. Despite the fact Richard didn’t really think it would do much good, he dragged a chair from out of his room, and jammed it under the door-knob.
Leonardo was busy downloading information he though had been useful from Rain’s database, maps, records, biographies, and some of the older more digestible medical textbooks he’d found. He sent Robespierre down into Rain’s private lab to take what batteries and cords he thought they would need. The Frenchmen originally protested this.
“That’s still her property.”
“It’s for a common need, and from what I’ve gathered, talking to her, Rain could replace anything we take three times over. I wouldn’t worry too much about if we’re going to leave her bereft or not,” Leonardo placated him, although Robespierre still did not look entirely convinced.
Richard busied himself by stripping the bedding from the beds, and stuffing them in all bags he could lay his hands on. Most of them were flimsy looking, made with thin slippery material, and delicate looking stitching. He scowled, but resigned himself. If they happened to come upon anything better, Richard felt confident he’d be able to trade for it.
Within a quarter of an hour, the three men were leaving Rain’s house. Before they’d left, Ava had grabbed Richard’s wrist and growled.
“Stay.” He ordered, taking his hand back. To his surprise, the hound obeyed and sat down, watching him mournfully.
“Good girl,” he said at last, giving the dog a scratch. Robespierre patted her on the head.
“Smart dog,” he cooed. Richard rolled his eyes.
“Let’s go, I don’t think that alien will be out much longer.”
Leonardo nodded and slipped out ahead of them, bag with the electronics slung over his shoulder. Richard gestured to Robespierre.
“Traitors first,” he said. Robespierre didn’t say anything, but Richard could see the disdain that shone in his eyes for a moment, before he turned and followed Leonardo.
Richard was careful to relock the door, and jammed a large stone in front of it for good measure, although he didn’t imagine it would hold either the alien or Rain for very long.
Leonardo was in the shed next to Rain’s house, studying one of the vehicles. He walked around it, muttering in Italian. Richard was more than prepared to walk the distance into wherever the ocean was to catch a ship, but Leonardo insisted that this would be much faster.
“Do you know how to work it?” Richard asked, frowning.
“Theoretically, it’s simple enough.” Leonardo smiled at him. “Simply start the engine and then enter the destination of where you want to go.”
Robespierre, looking hesitant, asked, “Do you know how to start it?”
Leonardo revealed a data chip in his hand. “No, but this does. Apparently it’s something that Rain was working on. Get in and we’ll see how it works.”
Richard sighed and eyed the vehicle. It resembled a horseless carriage, however it was made entirely of metal. It sat on the ground, and looked entirely immobile. He consoled himself by remember the horrifying journey here, and thinking that at least this mad Italian was not asking him to be unmade and sent thousands of miles.
All things considered a horseless carriage he could deal with.
Richard, after fiddling with the lever on the door, eventually made his way into the front of the carriage. A smooth panel was in front of him.
Leonardo slid in after him, with considerably more grace.
“Robespierre, you will have to sit in the back, there is no more room here.”
Richard smirked to himself.
Leonardo fiddled with the panel and it lit up under his fingers. He found where to insert the tiny metal bit and slid it in carefully. The panel flickered, once, twice, and then it beeped.
“User accepted. Destination?” A smooth male voice asked.
Leonardo fished in his bag for the map.
The panel flashed red.
“Negative destination. Florence sank in 2310. Please select another destination.”
“Sank?” Richard muttered. He and Leonardo glanced at each other.
“Well I suppose it was built on a swamp,” Leonardo said sadly. “Any other suggestions?”
“Paris,” Robespierre said from the back seat. The panel flashed green before Richard could demand London instead.
“Destination accepted. Please fastened seat-belt and prepare for lift-off.”
The three men exchanged looks. Leonardo mouthed the term, ‘lift off’, and frowned.
Richard’s concerns were closer to home.
“What in the saints names are sea-AHHHHH!”
All three of them screamed as the vehicle let out a beep and went from motionless to quickly rising, crashing straight through the shed’s roof. Richard watched with wide eyes as the ground dropped away. He had the funny feeling his guts had stayed. He shut his eyes and gripped the leather bench tightly.
“We’re flying! My god, we’re really flying!” Leonardo seemed to have recovered the fastest, and was laughing in delight. Richard grit his teeth as he could feel the carriage change direction. Robespierre seemed to share his issue, since he could hear him wretch.
“Richard, Maximilien! Open your eyes, it’s incredible,” Leonardo said, shaking his arm like a child. Richard shook his head and wrenched his arm away.
“Are you mad?” Robespierre demanded, sounding shaky.
Leonardo sighed, and Richard bristled. “For heaven’s sake. It’s perfectly safe in here, and you can see the whole of North America. We’re surrounded by clouds and all the sky is spread out under us. The sun is shining and we’re flying. Please, I’m sincerely asking that the two of you open your eyes and join me.”
Richard pressed his lips together tightly. He didn’t want to see how high they were from the realm of men, from what he knew. But he also understood the logic behind what Leonardo was requesting. He couldn’t very well spend his entire journey to Paris with his eyes shut.
He took a deep and calming breath before slowly opening his eyes.
The whole vehicle was awash in bright sunlight, glittering off the glass panel in front of him. The leather was already warming under him and Richard cynically wondered how long it would be till it became unbearable. However very slowly he looked around, eyes going wide and round.
They were surrounded by fluffy white clouds, the kind that always beckoned him out of the castle as a child, and reminded him of summers spent riding with Ned and George. The sky was a rich royal blue, and when he gathered his courage and looked out one of the glass windows the earth below them was a wash of greens-browns-greys. He could make out massive glass buildings, some of them rising into the clouds with them.
He looked over at Leonardo, who had tears sparkling in his eyes.
“We’re flying. I’d dreamt of it for so long, and now,” he touched the glass that separated them from the outside. Richard couldn’t help but feel moved by the other man’s sincere emotion.
“It’s so far away,” Robespierre whispered from the back. He too had his hand pressed to the glass.