Aspen led them to another warehouse through the most convoluted means Leonardo had ever experienced. When he asked her why, she pointed to the corner of a building opposite them.
“See that? The black thing? It’s a camera. Its recording images of us and sending them to Federation surveillance. It’s actually how we found you guys. And probably how Chikara Haruka found you too. If the cameras catch us, they’re going to figure out who rescued you, and then it’s all over.”
She crouched low and moved quickly around the corners of the exterior of the warehouse. Leonardo and Richard followed.
For Leonardo, he kept replaying the instance of Robespierre’s capture in his head. How the Frenchman’s eyes had widen in terror, his fingers wrapped desperately around Leonardo’s wrist, as the soldiers tore them apart. He kept looking over his shoulder expecting the floating vehicle to appear to spirit them away as well.
Exhaustion was beginning to set in and he was relieved when Aspen finally opened the door to a warehouse. “Okay, this is it.”
They entered and Leonardo stared around at the dusty boxes, illuminated by the bright sunlight beaming down through the glass windows.
In the middle of the expensive and mostly barren room was a sleek looking machine, in a dull grey. It sat on three struts and arched like the shape of a predatory bird on a upward flap. Aspen walked to the back of it. They followed her, and she opened a ramp up into the machine.
“Okay, get in.”
Richard frowned but went forward, stepping on the metal ramp gingerly, as if not confident in its structural integrity. Leonardo followed him in then turned to see Aspen punch a button on the screen next to it, raising the ramp back up to close it.
She pushed by them to sit at the front of the machine. Leonardo watched as she tapped the flat panel and around them the machine came to life.
Aspen turned around and raised her eyebrows. “You’re gonna want to sit down,” she told them smiling slightly. Richard did so, gripping the edge of his seat as an added precaution.
Leonardo supposed he still remembered the adventure with Rain’s ‘carriage’.
Aspen typed commands quickly, and above them the ceiling of the building opened up. Leonardo guessed what was going to happen next and sat down, leaning over so he could watch out the large window in front of Aspen.
He felt the vibrations through the machine and the moment the unseen engine kicked in to lift it off the ground. Richard leaned back, with his eyes shut.
Despite the desperate situation Leonardo couldn’t help but feel a smile come over his face. He’d dreamt of flight for so long, and here, it was achieved by humans so easily.
They lifted up and out of the building, into the bright sunlight. He watched as Aspen effortlessly steered the flying machine by sliding her fingers over the glass panel. It tilted upwards and sped up, the clouds misting past.
“Where are we going?” Richard grit out, fingers curled into the bench.
“Um, the north of England. To a castle called Middleham,” Aspen said absently. Richard’s eyes flew open and he whipped his head around to stare at the woman.
“Middleham? It still stands? What of York?” He demanded.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s not the original, it’s basically all been rebuilt, but yeah it’s still there. Magpie the person in charge of it, they’ve been working to restore all of these old historical places.” She looked over her shoulder. “I’ll be able to explain more once the experts are here with us.” She laughed slightly. “I’ll be honest, I was never really into history in school…”
Leonardo suddenly chuckled, rubbing a hand into his eyes. The true absurdity of the situation was getting to him. “Va bene. Me either!”
Aspen grinned at him. “We should be there in in about 90 minutes. Maybe you should try sleeping?” She offered.
Leonardo wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to, his mind racing, and having lost his sketchbook in the scuffle with the soldiers.
Richard, however, swung his legs up onto the bench and draped an arm over his eyes.
“Wake me when we get to Middleham,” he ordered, and then fell silent.
Leonardo fell quiet too, but as he stared down at his hands, he wondered about where Robespierre was, if he was even still alive.
Clio adjusted her toga and ran a hand through her curly hair.
“You’re a right pain, do you know that? Now I have to follow two different lines of narrative,” she told the prostate figure, sitting where he’d been thrown on the floor of the government containment vehicle. He seemed to be in shock, his arms curled protectively around himself and shuddering every so often.
She huffed but kneeled down next to him. His glasses had been cracked, but it hardly mattered, she doubted that he would have been able to see anything anyway.
Clio sat next to him in silence for a while, observing the human.
She’d been born a muse, unlike many of her colleagues, and had always felt drawn to the invisible tide that connected stories. She felt that this one, the semi obscured figure in front of her, was going to be a keystone.
She couldn’t sit in the dark with him for long, Richard and Leonardo would reach York before Robespierre was, but she figured that even her presence might ease the tension in his soul.
For a long time Max was aware of nothing further than the darkness of the vehicle he found himself in. There were slight vibrations under his feet but further than that he couldn’t sense anything out side of the doors. He felt his way around the space but couldn’t find any handles on any of the walls, at last concluding that there weren’t any on the inside.
Finally Maxime sat down in one of the corners to wait. His fingers drummed on the metal surface and he chewed his bottom lip. His eyes ached to see anything in the darkness but it seemed to go on forever. He had the terrible feeling if he fell into it, it would consume him.
Closing his eyes brought little comfort, still aware of how cold and still the space seemed.
He laid down on his side and brought his knees to his chest for warmth. He wondered if Leonardo and Richard had gotten away or if they had been captured as well.
Exhaustion seemed to sink into his bones, and despite the cold and metal bruising him Max slowly feel into a fitful sleep.