Season Two. Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part Two.

Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part Two.

Leonardo raised an eyebrow at the screen.

“You found us by using cartography?”

Harm tilted his hand back and forth. “Not exactly. The program maps facial features from portraits, or sculptures, or photographs. Then it searches the entire Federation database, basically every scrap of data that’s been collected since before World War Three, and searches it for matching characteristics.”

Leonardo nodded, mostly following it. Richard looked blankly at the man.

“This program is a map, and it’s what they used to find us,” Leonardo tried to translate, glancing at Harm to see if he was being accurate.

“Basically.”

“A map,” Richard said. “But how did you know we were returned?”

Kami interjected. “We didn’t. The program simply matched you out of random chance. If the security footage wasn’t a public archive, and within the search parameters it would have missed you completely.”

Leonardo sat back. “Luck?”

“Fate?” Magpie piped up hopefully. “We are the historical and heritage branch of public relations for the Federation. If you should be found by anyone it should be us…”

Leonardo kept the politely dubious look off his face, and instead turned back to Harm. “Do you think you’ll be able to use this to find Robespierre?”

“Why on in the saint’s names would we want to?” Richard asked in sotto voice. Leonardo ignored him.

“Leonardo has a point. You did say that the aliens, the Komali, want to have you destroyed right?” Harm asked cautiously. Magpie gasped dramatically.

“He was a pivotal part of the French Revolution of 1789! They can’t destroy him!”

Harm and Kami exchanged a look and Leonardo wondered if this was common for Magpie.

“Chikara can do whatever she wants, Mags,” Harm said. “You know that.”

“I reject the factual evidence of your statement and choose to believe that she’ll keep him alive until further purposes.” Magpie tilted their head up proudly.

Aspen cleared her throat pointedly.

“Any-way,” Harm drawled, turning back to the computer, “we can try.”

Leonardo watched over the man’s shoulder as he tapped the screen with long elegant fingers.

“What I’ll do is take any of the portraits and sculptures that still exist of him, compile them in a matrix and search the database using it.”

Magpie nodded their head once. “Do it.”

Aspen gestured at Richard and Leonardo, her metal fingers clicking slightly. “Come on. They’ll be at this for a while. Leo, has Richard shown you the rest of the castle?”

Leonardo shook his head and rose to his feet. Kami looked vaguely startled, looking up at him with wide grey-brown eyes.

“Something wrong?” He asked.

She shook her head. “Nothing. You’re just…surprisingly tall.”

Leonardo smiled slightly. “That’s not the first time I’ve been told that.”

“You’d make an excellent swordsman, with that reach.” Richard said, as they walked out of the room.

Leonardo snorted slightly. “Not likely. I find war the most disgusting enterprise of man.”

Richard looked at him, then at Aspen, then back to Leonardo. He opened his mouth then sighed and rubbed his temple before brushing past then both and walking off.

“He was the last English king to die in battle.” Aspen pointed out gingerly. Leonardo shrugged.

“I care not. You must agree, if your arm was lost in a conflict.”

Aspen hesitated, mouth twisting back and forth. “I dunno. That’s…a hard question don’t you think?”

They turned right and Leonardo slowed to study some of the glass plaques embedded into the wall. Each presented information about the castle.

“How so? Battle, death, pain, madness. I do not understand how any of these can benefit thinking men,” Leonardo said stiffly.

“Well. Didn’t you design war machines, for uh, uh someone?” Aspen pointed out. Leonardo winced. Before he could explain about he intended services for Il Moro or Borgia, Aspen continued. “Also it seems to me a lot of human evolution has been based on conflict. I don’t think that’s good necessarily but it might be important, I guess.”

Leonardo hesitated, considering her words. “I believe that art evolves the human race,” he finally said.

Aspen smiled and shrugged. “Well of course you do. You’re the one of the, almost them most famous artist in earth history.”

Leonardo smiled. “Grazie.”

“No, really.”

XXX

Aspen found Magpie later in their office. They were bent over an old-fashioned book, mumbling under their breath and with a tablet propped up by lots of coffee cups.

“Hey boss. How’s it going?” Aspen grinned slightly watching Magpie jump, their elaborately done silver hair quivering.

“Aspen! How’s Richard, and Leonardo? Did you show them the kitchens, the-”

Aspen held up her hand. “Richard already knows where everything is, although he has some choice words for some of the inaccuracies.” Apparently the kitchens were too small and the lack of stables and horses were dire. “Leonardo seems more interested in the databases than the building.”

Magpie nodded, relaxing back into their chair. “Makes sense. Richard spent lots of time here, in his youth and adult life. Leonardo seems to have been largely transient. Florence, Milan, Rome, back to Florence, back to Milan, and then France,” they rattled off. “I’ll have Harm teach him the basics.”

Aspen seated herself in the chair. Soon Jerome would be here to relive her. She’d left Richard wandering the halls, seemingly lost in his thoughts. Leonardo had already disappeared into his room, long nose pressed to a tablet.

“So, we’re keeping them. What next?” Aspen prompted.

“What?”

“They’ll need a doctor, you know to check them out and make sure they don’t have any extinct germs on them. Didn’t they both live during the first plague?”

Magpie blinked. “Good point. It was towards the end of the plague years but if either of them have it…”

“Yeah, the last thing we need is a relapse of the White Plague.”

Magpie winced. “Yes. But they’ll also need recent inoculations. And Richard’s spine.”

“What about it?”

Magpie showed her the tablet. It had a picture of a skeleton with a curved spine on it.

“His scoliosis is usually resolved in childhood. We’ll need to find a XD, someone who can also perform surgery to fix it.”

Aspen raised an eyebrow. “Why do you think he’ll want it fixed? Have you asked him?”

Magpie hesitated. “No, I just figured he’d want it.”

Aspen blinked, surprised. “I thought you’d be the first to be talking his ear off, asking about every detail of his life.”

“I will! I want to but,” here Magpie smiled sheepishly. “I’m a little nervous to. He’s been this pedestal, this goal in my life for so long.”

Aspen laughed. “You’re over complicating it boss. You gotta remember, he’s just a human, like the rest of us. He got into a right pissy mood when Leonardo told him he didn’t like warfare. He’s been wandering around all day, looking like he’s been hit over the head. If anything, I think he could really use someone who knows their stuff to talk to.”

Magpie blinked at her. “There’s surprisingly profound Aspen.”

“Hey! I can be sensitive, even if I was just a grunt,” Aspen threw up her hand, smirking at Magpie.

They laughed. “I guess you can. Alright, we’ll work on it tomorrow. Do you happen to know any XDs who could be trusted with this?”

Aspen shook her head. “You’ll want to fry Harm or Kami about it, not me. I’m surprised you don’t.”

“I never spent much time with any doctors. I dislike the smell of chemicals, paper and old stone are better.”

Aspen left with that concept in her head. Old stones and paper huh?

Season Two. Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part One.

Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part One.

Maximilien was woken suddenly by the lights flickering on, painfully bright. He tried to turn his head towards the wall but the white tile simply reflected the light and he groaned.

His eye sight had always been questionable, but in bright light it degraded to the point when he wasn’t even able to make out simply shapes or judge distance. Here, the world was nothing more than a white blur.

Max’s arms were still secured around his back and he wasn’t confident he could right himself without doing serious harm to his shoulders. So he simply rocked back on his heels and sat back. His stomach growled. It seemed like it had been a very long time since he’d eaten the bread that Richard had taken from Rain’s house.

He put aside the ache in his legs and stomach and closed his eyes, blocking out the worst of the painful light.

Under his breath he began to recite, “Men, be kind to your fellow-men; this is your first duty, kind to every age and station, kind to all that is not foreign to humanity.”

XXX

Rain was awake with the hypothetical sun, newly showered and dressed in one of the Bastille’s uniforms. She sipped her coffee and watched Robespierre, who had hardly moved from his corner. She frowned and zoomed the feed in on his face.

“Audio?”

The computer beeped in compliance and she listened carefully. Hardly louder than a whisper, Robespierre was speaking, “What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”

“What’s he doing?” The young female guard, Jerkins, asked.

“Experimental android protocol. He’s reciting his last orders,” Rain mumbled distractedly.

She glanced over and saw Jerkins frowning ever so slightly.

“Aren’t you supposed to be doing something? Like rounds?” Rain flicked her hand at the young woman.

Jerkins frowned but stiffly turned around and the gentle hiss of the doors marked her exit. Rain sighed and looked back at the screen. Robespierre was still mumbling under his breath.

Rain tilted her head and brought up his biographical information. “Born in Arras, lawyer, revolutionary, blah, blah, blah, off with his head. Hmm. Who is this?” She tapped under the relations tab and scrolled through a list of family and friends. “I didn’t know you had siblings. Let’s see what else you’re hiding shall we, Maximilien?”

A half an hour later, Rain was still glued to the screen eyes flick over the text rolling by. She didn’t notice the hiss of the doors again. However she nearly hit Chikara with her cane when the short woman bent over her and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Spirits!! Don’t do that! Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to sneak up on people?”

Chikara leveled a flat look at her. Rain sneered back.

“Doctor, the only reason I’m allowing this freedom right now is so you will figure what to do about the problem you caused, now tell me, what are you doing?”

“Keep your skirt on. I’m looking through his biography, seeing who he was close to, what he liked to do, what he hated.”

“What’s the point of doing this? Are you deliberately trying to-” Chikara started, a ferocious snarl on her face.

“Well I can’t very well break him if I don’t know him!” Rain snapped. “If I don’t know how to manipulate his emotions than all we’ll do is hurt him physically. We need to get inside his head, figure out his regrets, his internal dissent. And then we can start, and not before I say!” Rain stood up, fairly towering over the much shorter Chikara.

However the Major didn’t flinch and steeped closer to the scientist. “You do not give the orders here Doctor Miller. You will listen to me, and now you will follow this order, I want your plan for him by the end of the cycle.”

The two women stared at each other, each with mounting dislike. Finally Rain slowly sat down.

“Yes, Major Haruka.”

XXX

Richard woke suddenly, from what felt like a dreamless sleep. He blinked, and for one moment felt incredibly disoriented by the familiar surroundings. However the sounds the sounds were all wrong. There was no gentle clattering of the black smith or the chatter of servants. It was nearly silent in the keep.

Richard dressed in the same clothes he’d been wearing since they’d left Rain and went downstairs. There was no one around and Richard walked through the grand hall, running his hand along the table. It was polished to a high shine and the grain was so smooth Richard could hardly feel it.

He crossed over to the strange hole in the wall that dispensed food and clothing and stared at it.

“Alright, you enchanted wreckage. It’s just you and I now,” he told it. The glowing stone panel didn’t make any noise, but Richard scowled regardless. He raised his hand and braced himself for battle.

Ten minutes later, after an extended spar, he finally had a plate of small cakes, something called ‘syrup’ and a dozen pieces of salted and fried pork belly.

“I’m glad we could come to an understanding,” he smirked at the machine. It beeped submissively.

He sat down at the table and began to eat.

He was through his stack of cakes, his fingers stick with the syrup when Leonardo arrived. His brown hair was damp and even curlier as a result. He was also wearing new clothes as well.

“Where did you get those?” Richard asked in lieu of greeting. Leonardo blinked at him.

“From the replicator, in my rooms. Don’t you have one?”

“What?” Richard scowled. “No I didn’t.”

“Oh. Perhaps you can ask Magpie for a change. I don’t know how many rooms with replicators there might be.”

Leonardo shrugged and wandered around the room, examining the wall tapestries and the panels embedded in the stonework.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Richard asked, swallowing a bite of the pork. He dragged it through the syrup. It was fairly palatable, he thought.

Leonardo shrugged again, fingers working over the panel. “If I get hungry I suppose…”

They both turned when the far door, the one that was made of metal, not wood, opened and Aspen Strong walked in, brushing her real hand through the myriad of tiny and dyed braids she had. She was mid yawn when she caught sight of them and her eyes opened wide.

She coughed. “Oh my god I almost forgot you guys were here! Good morning.”

“You forgot you had the risen dead in your protection?” Leonardo said dryly and Richard snorted. Aspen grinned and put her metal hand on her hip.

“It was easier to write it off as a dream, believe me. Anyway, is anyone else here yet?”

Richard shook his head. “I haven’t seen anyone.”

Aspen nodded and walked over to the machine. “Magpie will be here soon. They’ll want to talk to you both, one on one. Then Kami and Harm will want to show you the program we used to find you.”

She laughed, and tapped a button on the machine, which chirped happily. She took out a mug.

“Do either of you drink coffee? I take it like a weakling with a lot of cream and sugar but I think it’s gross otherwise.”

“Sugar?” Leonardo asked, interest piqued. Aspen grinned and handed over another mug. Which just meant that Richard also had to have it.

By the time Magpie, with Harm and Kami arrived, Aspen, Leonardo and Richard were had lined up a dozen coffee mug and aspen was explain what was in each and having them try it.

“Spirits! You’re going to give them a heart attack, Aspen!” Magpie fretted.

Aspen waved them off. “They’re fine, there’s not that much espresso in it.”

Richard was beginning to feel rather odd, and shook his head. Leonardo’s eyes were rather wide.

Magpie glared at Aspen and swept up all the cups. “We’re not here for this, and we’ll get them introduced to modern food gradually. Today I want to show them Harm’s program.”

Richard nodded and they followed Magpie up the stairs, to where Harm was already setting up. The dark skinned man grinned at them.

“Welcome to the historical figure finder!”

Aspen snorted. “You’re gonna want to work on that name.”

Season Two. Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part Three.

Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part Three.

“This is unbelievable!” Clio snapped and crossed her arms.

Next to her, Spectra snorted. “No kidding. Usually I do all of the animal work, but it seems you have a regular mixed bag of genres, friend.”

They were standing and watching as Doctor Rainbow Miller’s dogs dug into a cluster of recycling cans on the edge of the a small mountain town.

The dogs had run all day and night and were now nearing what used to be the old town of Boulder. The puppy, the fluffy little dog with eyes like black buttons seemed to be having the time of her life, rolling in rotted produce and buffalo. The bigger dogs were more sedate but rooted through the trash none the less.

Clio threw her hand up. “Unbelievable. I’m one of the oldest and most respected Muses on all of the Orphan Planet. I’ve been seen entire religions be built, then thrive and crumble into dirt. I’m the last direct descendent of Zeus! And where does it get me?” She stamped her foot and tossed her head, her one eye flashing dangerously. “Dog watching, and babysitting the dead.”

Spectra laughed her high dangerous cackle, throwing her head back and grasping her sleek white pantsuit in her clawed hands.

“Oh go away trickster. You have other mortals to torment!” Clio shouted.

Spectra grinned, sharp teeth peeking past her lips. “You bitch now, but when the Man recalls you, you’ll be sad to leave your babies as always. Also dog sitting is no bad gig.”

Clio huffed and turned away. Spectra left.

“Stupid hyena. If you lived in my time Heracles would have skinned you and made you a loin cloth.”

XXX

Ava stiffly sat on the edge of the pack, head lifted and turned to the breeze to catch the scent of the close by human settlement. They’d found an abandoned hole to cluster together in and now she sat sentinel.

The pack had run all day, despite Baby and sometimes Jep, the spaniel needing to be carried in one of the larger dog’s mouths.

“Waiting on your human?” An amused voice asked and Norma crept out of the shadows, her long low body brushing along the ground.

“No. I will never wait on a human,” Ava swore. Norma yawned and laid down on her side.

“You do know must humans aren’t Rain, right? Most of them seem to be kind to us and ours.”

Ava didn’t respond, lifting her nose higher.

“We can go over the mountains. There’s an ocean on the other side. Rain’s males might have gone there,” Norma told her quietly.

“We’ll go around them, towards the north.”

Norma huffed in understanding. They two dogs watched the dark night sky.

“I’ve heard it said that at one point, when our ancestors roamed this land that there were countless pinpricks of light in the sky, called stars. I saw them once on one of Rain’s machines.” Norma spoke softly, a hint of wishing in her high whine.

Ava looked upward. She couldn’t see anything other than the velvety darkness.

“Do you think we’ll see stars?” She asked the older dog.

Norma rolled over and tucked her forepaws down towards her chest.

“Someday maybe. Let’s think of tomorrow, for now.”

“For now,” Ava agreed.

XXX

Leonardo sighed and sat down on one of the cots.

The tour had finally left, the high childish voices echoing in the stone hallways. He and Richard crept back down, Richard grumbling about having to sneak around his own home, and found themselves in the middle of some mild chaos. It seemed to be the status quo.

“We can’t just turn them out, Marie is still out there!” Aspen was saying loudly to Jerome, whose hands were held up in either platitude or protection.

“I’m not saying that! I’m just saying that we need to think this through first, alright?” Jerome said steadily.

“There’s nothing to think about,” Magpie declared, their hands on their hips. “We’re having them stay, until we can figure out a more permanent place.”

“More permanent?” Leonardo asked, bemused. Everyone’s head twisted around to stare at them.

“Well yes. While we can’t return you to your own time, there’s no reason you can’t live comfortably on earth,” Magpie said.

“But what about?” Richard gestured to the back of his own neck. “Won’t your government know?”

“Not if you live carefully. You won’t be able to use transporters or move around very much, but there’s low tech villages that still exist, ones where people aren’t expected to flash their neck for every little thing,” Harm said.

Leonardo nodded, but his heart sank. What was the purpose of his mind if he was simply going to fritter it away in some village? Was that what he’d gone to Florence for? To Milan and Rome?

Next to him Richard didn’t look any happier but, he seemed to sink in on himself, exhaustion finally making his shoulder bow.

“Right well, that’s settled. Now we’re going to set you up with rooms for the night, it’s been a long day,” Magpie ordered. The look on Richard’s face as he was ordered to bed in his own home was quite amusing.

Leonardo’s new room was in one of the towers, with a simple desk and a cot that had been quickly replicated and assembled. The narrow window allowed a shaft of sunlight in, but Leonardo yawned hugely. It was past seven but the sun was still high. He theorized that it was because England was so much further north than Italy had been.

He turned his face toward the pillow, yawning again. Leonardo could hardly remember being so tired in his entire life. He wondered where Robespierre was, if he was safe or already dead. He wondered what stone Middleham was made out of, he wondered what made Richard’s spine twist…

Leonardo fell asleep still asking questions.

Season Two. Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part Two.

Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part Two.

Maximilien Robespierre decided he was really very tired of being dragged around. His vision was blurred and every few steps he stumbled as the guards marched quickly down a long curving corridor. The lighting was a flat washed out yellow light, and when he squinted at the walls, it didn’t seem like there were any windows.

Where on earth was he?

The woman who’d barked orders and had his glasses taken had said it was the Bastille, but that was impossible. That most hated symbols of tyranny was gone, he’d lived through its deconstruction. Seen it’s crumbling sad architecture himself.

How could this be the Bastille?

Maximilien was jerked from his theories when the guards made a sharp right and he nearly twisted his ankle on their boots.

He was released and he stumbled away from them, hands subtly out so he could feel if he was going hit something.

“Take your clothes off,” was all the one of the escorts said. Max gaped.

“Excuse me?” He managed to get out of his strangled vocal cords. One of them moved and he realized that they were both likely armed. A cold sweat broke over his skin.

“Remove them or we will do it for you,” she insisted.

Max hesitated, but just for a touch too long because the next thing he knew one of them caught his wrists, twisting them around to hold them behind his back and the other was cutting his clothes away with quick efficient movements. Stunned he froze before trying to twist his hands out of the tight grip.

“Stop resisting,” she ordered and lifted his wrists higher up his back. Now trying to move made it feel as if he was going to break his own arm.

Maximilien grit his teeth as the sharp blades ran along the front of his torso, his shirt falling open. His heart raced and a grey fog swirled around the edge of his vision.

“Why are you doing this?” He burst out, the shirt pushed off his shoulders to fall in scraps at his feet.

Neither answered, and he gasped as his hands were pulled yet higher. His belt was ripped away and he screwed his eyes shut as both his trousers and small clothes were pulled down to his ankles. A firm grip on his ankle and one shoe, then the other, was removed.

Max’s wrists were finally released and he swayed, rooted to the spot, as the feeling came back to his hands. The guard behind him nudged him forward.

“Step into the shower. We’re not done yet,” her palm was warm in between his shoulder blades. The touch made him shudder.

They made him place his palms on the cool tile in front of him. However when the cool touch of metal was applied to the back of his neck, he gasped and lashed out.

“Grab him!”

Arms like steel crushed him and another strong hand grabbed the back of his neck, and pushed his face into the tile. Max closed his eyes again and willed himself calm, shaking as the snip snip snip of scissor went all around his head, hair falling in tangled strands to the floor.

Maximilien was panting by the time they were done, heart racing and knees shaking. The arms released him and he sagged against the wall. Both of his guards backed away and he was privately grateful. Until the moment very cold water started pouring over him, He flinched away, but a barked out “Don’t move!” made him freeze.

The water pounded down on his newly shaved head and shoulders. It never became any warmer and his teeth were chattering by the time they were done.

He was grabbed again and this time his hands were firmly locked behind his back in crossed metal cuffs before they grabbed his arms and started marching him down the corridor again.

Max shivered as they walked for a very long time. It could have been in circles for all he knew, everything here looked the same, but eventually they stopped, and he was pushed into another room. This time, without his hands to catch himself, he stumbled and landed painfully on his bare knees. By the time Max righted himself, his guards were gone and there was slightly blue haze on the air.

Head spinning Maximilien stared, as if he could will them to reappear and explain what in the hell just happened.

His heart beat slowed as Max concentrated on breathing. He pushed himself to his feet, and slowly walked over to the blue haze. He took a deep breath and stepped forward.

Or he tried to, because when he brought his bare foot into contact with the haze it felt as if someone had splashed cognac onto an open would, stinging and burning along his toes and the ball of his foot.

He leapt back and hissed quietly. He squinted as he looked around, trying to make out the greater details of his room-his cell.

It was a plain white tile room. There was not bed or mattress, no chair or desk, no windows. He walked the circumference and nearly broke his ankle when he stepped into a hole that he assumed was meant to serve as a commode. And that was it.

Max sat down, cross legged, in a corner of the cell. His back pressed into the smooth tile, and feet braced flat on the floor. It was cold and he shivered again.

Had Richard and Leonardo gotten away?

Were they, like him, trapped in here somewhere?

Had they been killed in the struggle? The last he’d seen was Leonardo being pulled away and he’d assumed that he’d done the sensible thing and run away, but now Max was realizing that it might not have been that simple.

He tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling, squinting slightly. These lights were likely going to cause a massive pulsing headache in his temples before long but, that seemed like the least of his problems currently.

Maxime sighed.

Why did that women who’d arrested him, taken his glasses, and put him in here seem to hate him so? And would she see him through to a trail, or was this a classic, common case of injustice, as Max had fought against during his life?

He curled up tighter, and rested his forehead on his knees, his back protesting.

What would happen to him now?

XXX

Rainbow Miller spun her chair idly, her hands still handcuffed behind her.

“So now you have him naked and contained, hm Chikara? What comes next?”

Chikara Haruka stood next to her, hands placed neatly behind her back and feet even with her shoulders as she observed the first prisoner the orbital moon prison, the Bastille, had seen in two decades.

“You do, Doctor Miller.”

Rain stopped her spinning, looking up at the head of Federation security. “Me? I’m flattered Chikara, I never knew you thought so highly of me.”

Haruka looked down at her. “I don’t but you will put to rights what you have done, and it starts now.” She leaned down and pressed a button on the com station in front of Rain.

The doctor leaned forward, her long dark braid falling over her shoulder. She read the first few lines before slowly looking up at Chikara.

“This is about physical and mental interrogation techniques…”

Chikara nodded once. “Yes.”

Rain tilted her head. “I’m sorry but it was my impression that the Federation banned torture at the end of the last World War.”

Chikara stared at her. “Do you know why everyone in the Federation wears an ID?”

“It makes tax collecting simple?” Rain replied snidely.

“Because not only does it protect the population form each other, it also protect them from the government. ID and ID tracking is nearly public knowledge. It doesn’t take much to find anyone on any of the Federation planets or space stations. If you have a relative on a labor farm, you can easily check their wellbeing by just knowing their ID number,” Chikara explained.

Rain rolled her eyes. “I know. I’m one of the top scientists the Federation never hired. I know how the system works.”

“Then you’ll also realize that IDs prevent the Terran Federation from harming any of its citizens. All 80 billion of them are protected by public knowledge.”

“Yes, so?”

Chikara suddenly leaned down into Rain’s face, her dark brown eyes were like a tree struck by lightning.

“Except for three of them. The three you created and unleashed onto an unknowing population, with their savage ideas, and unknown contagions, and their violent hideous customs,” Chikara hissed, eye lashes fluttering with the force of her hate.

She straightened back up.

“And now Doctor Miller, you are going to help me and be in charge of cleaning up your mess. You are going to take apart that beast you’ve unleashed and when I find the other two, you’re going to do the same to them,” Chikara stabbed her finger empathetically at the screen where Robespierre was curled up into his corner.

Rain stared at her with wide eyes.

“Good god. And people say I’m a maniac,” she muttered. Louder she said, “No. I will not help you torture a man to insanity Chikara. I might play fast and loose but even I’m not that unethical!”

“You were unethical enough to bring these wretches back, weren’t you?”

“Yes but that was quick and painless! You’re talking about breaking a man’s mind on a metaphorical wheel, and I won’t do it.” Rain spun her chair around, chin up in the air. “You can have one of your kept scientists see to it and I’ll go directly to the labor farm, thanks.”

She heard Chikara sigh softly and after a moment a firm grip on her chair turned her back to the com station.

But now it wasn’t showing Maximilien. It was showing Kamala Manson.

“She’s your intern, correct?” Chikara asked, her tone crisp. “I have two officers following her and waiting on my word to be brought into custody. Her charge will be treason, just like you. She’ll serve right there with you on one of the Federation Farms in Arizona. I can arrange it,” her fingers snapped, “that fast.”

Rain’s mouth went dry. Kamala was walking along the Nile, her face buried in a tablet. Her wedding ring glinted in the sunlight.

“I will give you three seconds Doctor Miller, and then I will make the call.”

Kam had been so scared of the Labor Farms, she’d squealed immediately to Chikara’s husband.

“Three.”

She’d walked out on Rain, leaving her to her own devices. She didn’t even know about Robespierre or Richard.

“Two.”

This wasn’t her fault. Rain couldn’t destroy what might be a good, possibly great career of a kind young woman for that of ex-dead Frenchman.

Sorry Robespierre. Sacrifices have to be made sometimes and it looks like you’ve lost the day.

“On-.”

“Call your boots off. I’ll do it,” Rain snapped.

For a moment it looked like Chikara was going to do it anyway, but she pressed her communicator and ordered, “Abandon your target.”

Rain sighed and flexed her hands.

“Alright, you have what you want. Now take these cuffs off. I can’t very well find out how to destroy someone with my hands bound now can I?”

Season Two. Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part One.

Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part One.

“So let me get this straight,” Aspen held her head in her hands. She ground the heels of her hands into her eyes. “You, Leonardo da Vinci-”

“Si, madam.”

“And you, Richard the third-”

“Yes?” The former king growled around the bread in his mouth. Aspen wrinkled her nose at his table manners.

“Were brought back to life by a famous technical scientist-“

“Is Rainbow Miller famous?” Leonardo asked, voice pitched in interest. Magpie had given him a new notebook and he was sketching idly in it. From the way he kept glancing at her, Aspen had to guess that her arm was going to be on the first pages, which was flattering and bizarre. Leonardo was drawing her.

Spirits, what was her life?

“And you escaped after the alien she stole the technology from tracked her down at her house?”

“In her flying carriage,” King Richard added, gulping down beer. Magpie watched him with wide eyes, mouth half open in wonderment.

“Her flying carriage?” Kami asked voice weak.

“Si. It was magnificent,” Leonardo answered promptly. “It carried us from North America to France in a matter of hours!” He gestured expansively.

The entire Historical Society looked at each other. Kami and Harm grabbed each other’s hands under the table, Magpie’s eyes were focused on Richard, Aspen and Jerome stared at each other eyebrows raised.

“Do you know of any civilian vehicles that can make that trip?” Aspen asked out of the corner of her mouth. Jerome shook his head minutely.

“Maybe something that Miller was working on?” He offered softly.

Aspen shrugged helplessly, looking back up the table at the two men.

Richard as soon as getting “home” had asked, well demanded really, beer, bread, and venison stew. In that order. Magpie had nearly trampled Aspen in their eagerness for the staff room replicators. Typically, Magpie had already knew what kind of beer and bread to serve and Richard had dug into his meal as if he’d been starved. Aspen wondered if that was so far off. Both men seemed extremely exhausted and frazzled.

Aspen, for her part could hardly tear her eyes away from Leonardo, frantically sketching away, scratching at the paper. His eyes darted from face to face and all around the room.

“So after you got to…”

“Paris,” Leonardo answered promptly.

“Paris, what then? How did you get to Egypt?” Kami led the questioning.

“Robespierre led us through Paris, and we used the uh,” Leonardo looked over at Richard waving his hand about for the word.

“The light wizardry that moves people place to place.” Richard explained.

Kami looked at Magpie for translation. They blinked slowly, head tilted.

“The transporters?” They asked.

Leonardo smiled. “Si! Those!”

“You used the transporters? But how? You don’t have any IDentifiers,” Harm pointed out.

Leonardo shrugged. “We told them that Rain had ordered us to Egypt, and to use her pass.”

Harm groaned. “No wonder Haruka and Marie Rivera found you so fast. They would have been tracking Miller’s number.”

“Number?” Leonardo asked.

“The number that matches IDs. Everyone has one, well except for three recent additions to the Federation,” Harm gestured to Leonardo and Richard and including the absent Robespierre.

“Well that might also work in our favor too, since they can’t be traced back to us,” Jerome pointed out.

“Which is good since I don’t fancy going one on one with Marie,” Aspen muttered. She still had a sick oily feeling in her stomach about how close she’d come to Chikara’s right-hand.

“Where do you think they have taken Robespierre?” Leonardo asked Magpie. They shrugged.

“I don’t have much experience with the military side of the government, outside of where Haruka has tried to stop the Heritage reclamation projects. I’d have to guess somewhere is Cairo, likely in one of the holding cells in HQ.”

Leonardo frowned. “There’s no possibility of rescue?”

Aspen laughed before she could stop herself. Every head flung around to stare at her. Leonardo’s face was one of a man who was not used to being laughed at and clearly expressed she’d better have a damn good reason for doing so.

“Sorry, but if your friend-“

“Not a friend!” Richard barked out.

“If your associate is anywhere near the HQ then he’s irretrievable. Every guard there would have been handpicked by Chikara Haruka, trained and groomed to her standards. Then there’s the millions of diplomats there, and all of the administrators and that says nothing of the politicians. And if I had to bet, you and Richard are going to become the top of the Most Wanted. If you walk anywhere near HQ, it’s probably over for you,” Aspen explained.

Her declaration was met with silence, Leonardo cast his gaze down to the table, frowning slightly and Richard staring at her.

“Are you a solider?” He asked.

Aspen shrugged. “I was. Now I’m a security guard.”

Richard narrowed his eyes. “A body guard? For him?” He nodded at Magpie.

Everyone startled and looked at each other. Magpie flushed slightly, a deep red flush on their high cheekbones.

“Y-your highness, I’m sorry there’s been a misunderstanding,” they said. “I am not a man.”

At this Richard also blushed. “Oh, I’m sorry my Lady, I didn’t realize. My apologies,” he said gruffly. “During my time the ladies of the time wore their hair long.”

Everyone shuffled awkwardly. Aspen hadn’t ever realized how much stock she’d given to how obvious Magpie made their non-binary status evident. She hadn’t even thought about what pre 21st century people would think.

“No no, my lord. I’m neither a man nor a woman,” Magpie explained. “I don’t conform to either gender. My name is Magpie and that is who I am.”

Richard blinked at them, face serious. Leonardo’s jaw had dropped slightly, expression nearly vacant.

“You’re a eunuch?” Richard tried again, visibly struggling. Magpie shook their head, brushing a stay lock of shining silver hair from their eyes.

“No, simply… not gendered.”

With a hard twist to his mouth, Leonardo reached over and grabbed the spoon from Richard’s limp fingers and the fork next his elbow.

“So this is their fairer sex, si?” Leonardo asked, holding up the spoon. Richard looked over at him, eyebrow raised and nodded. Leonardo held up the fork. “And this represents man.” Richard nodded again.

Leonardo leaned over and grabbed the ceramic bread knife from where Richard had been slicing from the loaf. “So this is our new friend Magpie?” He looked over at them for confirmation.

“Yes, that’s mostly it.”

“You’re…a knife?” Richard asked, looking dubious. Magpie shrugged.

“Sure. Let’s say I’m and knife and I preferred to be called as such.”

Richard finally nodded, and Aspen breathed out. However Magpie beamed happily, clearly over the moon about sitting in the same room as their favorite historical figure.

Leonardo looked around at the rest of them. “And what do the rest of you do? Does the Federation support the decision to reside here?”

Kami raised her hand, ready to be ambassador of goodwill as always. “I’m Kami Susuki, and I came on as Public Relations manager for Magpie. Also we don’t live in Middleham, we just work here as part of the Heritage Reclamation project for the Federation.”

Leonardo nodded even though Aspen was sure there was no way he could have understood half of Kami’s spiel. The shorter woman gestured to Harm, sitting next to her.

“And this is my husband Harmony Susuki.”

He raised a dark hand, fingers rubbed smooth from his work on slick glass screens all day. “You can call me Harm for short. I work on all of the technical aspects of the Reclamation Project.”

“He’s the one who code- I mean wrote the program that found you.”

“Wrote the program?” Leonardo asked, a bemused twist to his lips.

Harm waved it away. “You’re pre-computers, and we’ll have plenty of time for me to explain all of this too you later, don’t worry.” Leonardo nodded, still looking unsure.

Jerome jumped in, grinning broadly at Leonardo. Aspen narrowed her eyes.

Jerome he’s recently returned from the dead, you don’t need to hit on him yet!

“Hi I’m Jerome, and I work with Aspen as part of Security for Middleham. Typically I work nights and I love Renaissance, uh, art!”

Richard snorted, tearing off another piece of bread. “What are you, a Moorish mercenary?”

Jerome frowned. “No I trained with Federation, like Aspen. But I went in specifically to serve as an officer for a posting on earth.”

Richard grunted, rubbing at his temple. Aspen noticed he seemed to do that a lot.

Leonardo sighed heavily and clasped his hands together in front of him, and rested his forehead against them as if he was at prayer. He looked up after a moment.

“We were told there is no possibility of returning home, to our own time,” he said softly. It wasn’t so much a question as a plain sad statement of a fact.

“Time travel doesn’t exist, it’s true,” Harm confirmed. “I’m sorry.”

Richard closed his eyes for a moment and Leonardo sighed again.

Then the most incredible thing happened.

Richard straightened up in his plain wooded chair, rolling his shoulders back and raising his chin up so he could meet the eyes of everyone at the table with a cool surveying stare. He placed his hands flat on the top of the table.

And in that moment, King Richard the Third, last of the Plantagenet dynasty was in the room.

Leonardo sat up as well, and Aspen saw that’s he’d carefully composed his face into a slightly worn but kind expression and she saw in her mind’s eye the artist who had served princes all over Italy and changed how the human body was looked at forever more.

“So, what comes next?” Leonardo asked, spreading his hands out, gesturing to the table at large.

Before anyone could collect themselves and answer his question, a loud mechanical tone sounded through the remade castle. Leonardo and Richard jumped and Magpie slapped their forehead.

“Oh my god! I forgot about the tour!”

“Tour?” Richard whipped his head around and asked Magpie. “What tour?’

“They’re from London, a bunch of primary student coming up to behold a piece of their history. Okay, the two of you are going to need to stay in one of our offices until it’s over. Come on, Harm, you go get Drizz and Blake.”

“Who?” Leonardo asked standing up as Aspen rushed over and grabbed Richard dishes with one hand and using the other to guide Leonardo away.

“Our tour guides. They’re repurposed retail androids that Magpie found and Harm fixed. Usually androids are just decommissioned but they’re good with groups and it’s easier than hiring. Now come on! I’d hate to try and explain you to a bunch of kiddies.” She dragged the Italian away, despite his head being twisted around as Kami opened the grand doors to hurry out to the grounds where the group was waiting.

She got them up the stairs to the staff rooms and pushed them into the break room. Richard took back his half empty bowl of stew, even though it must have been stone cold and sat gingerly in one of metal chairs.

“Whatever happened to wood?” He grumbled.

“It became a protected substance after mass deforestation and before replicators.” Aspen answered.

“Mass deforestation?” Leonardo said in alarm at the same time Richard dubiously said, “Protected substance?”

Aspen sighed and sat down. She figured she could leave it to Jerome to warn the kids off from touch the ancient artifacts. She had her own living artifacts to worry about now.

“Yeah well at one point wood was worth more than gold. You see when the earth population started to rise and we started to consume more…”