Episode Ten: La Liberté.
It was evening and Richard was half asleep when He became aware that the vehicle was descending. They’d all started falling asleep somewhere over the ocean, a sight so enormous that even Leonardo had been disturbed by it. Robespierre had been the first to go, slumping over with his hands protectively curled over his chest. The Leonardo, leaning against the window and muttering in Italian. Richard had tried to stay awake, instincts reminding him strongly he could easily be in a vehicle with two people who would see him dead. However eventually the monotony of the location and the comfortable interior wore him down and Richard had found himself slipping into a sleep-like trance.
He reached over and shook Leonardo roughly.
“I think we are nearing Paris.”
The Italian snapped awake near instantaneously. Which was good because the invisible woman who spoke to them came back on.
“Nearing the city of Paris. The capital of the country of France, and largest European nation. Please enter address.”
Robespierre was still dead to the world so Richard very gently threw an apple at his head.
“We are in your precious Paris. Where can we go to spend the night?” He barked at the blurry eyed Frenchmen.
“Ah, 398 Rue Saint Honore,” he muttered, rubbing at his eyes under his glasses.
“Address Accepted. Arrival estimated, six minutes.”
Leonardo stretched, arms bending behind his head and flexing his spine off the seat.
“Where is it that we are going, Robespierre?” He asked, twisting.
“My home, the Duplays should-” Suddenly Robespierre cut himself off, looking stricken. “Oh.”
Richard turned on the bench to stared at him with incredulity. “Did you give us a dead man’s location?”
Robespierre opened his mouth to respond, cheeks already flushing with anger, before Leonardo smoothly cut across them.
“It’ll give us a starting point. All we need is a place to land, and this is good enough. We are never going to get anywhere with the two of you sniping at each other every five minutes. Dio mio, make you peace already!”
Richard and Robespierre stared at each other for a few moments before turning away. Leonardo looked at each other them in turn and muttered something under his breath. Richard thought he heard the words, ‘gone by myself’ and bristled slightly. However before he could the vehicle dropped gently to the ground with a thump. All three of them clutched the seat in surprise.
“Well, I suppose we are here,” Leonardo commented, still sounding sour with the two of them. He pushed a button on the central console and the machine’s light’s extinguished. The tiny chip that he’d used to start the vehicle up slid out and Leonardo grabbed it, stowing it away in some interior pocket. He turned to look at Richard and Robespierre with a raised eyebrow.
Maximilien couldn’t believe that he’d forgotten that the Duplay family would be long dead. In the dreamy moment between sleep and waking he’d thought himself still in the year two of the Revolution. He could have sworn that he could hear the familiar clatter of the workmen just outside his window, the sounds of Brount barking, the footsteps coming up the staircase to his rooms.
He clambered out of the flying carriage, and looked up at the rooms that used to be his.
They were gone. There was a large glass building in it’s place. The lights were dim and reflected the starlight.
Max felt all of the air in his lungs pushed out, as if someone had hit him in the chest. It felt as if he’d been shot all over again.
“It’s gone. It’s completely gone,” he whispered. Leonardo gently patted his shoulder.
“I am sorry, Robespierre.”
He stared at the building, backing away. He looked down when his heel hit against a metal plaque.
“Residence of Maximilien Robespierre from 1790 till his death 1794.” Richard read, looking down at it.
Maximilien stared down it numbly.
So this was what he came down to? A small plaque on the ground, dully noting his death. His position wasn’t even noted. He wondered if his, Charlotte and Bonbon’s house in Arras was gone too. The thought that it might be gone felt as if someone had forced a large icicle into his chest, sharp and cold. He swallowed heavily, and set his jaw.
“I’m fine. I would not expect them to memorialize me, not if Billaud, Barere, and Collot d’Herbois persisted in saying I had mastery over the Committees.” He clenched his hand at his side.
The cool night was closing around them and street was quiet. Somewhere a dog barked and Max was struck with a homesickness for his family so intense that for a moment he thought he was going to be ill. Instead he took and deep breath and gestured down the avenue.
“The Seine is that way. It will take us to the heart of Paris, if nothing else. Or the Tuileries is behind us.”
Leonardo, still looking at him softly, nodded.
“Lead on, Robespierre, you know the city best,” he offered quietly. Richard rolled his snorted and re-adjusted the bag on his shoulder, but held his tongue.
Max nodded and with a shuddering breath turned away from the glass building.