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