Episode Fifteen: No One so Little Loved. Part four.
It was only a two and half hour flight from Middleham to Vienna, where Doctor Primavera Russo was taking her sabbatical. Aspen didn’t know what was she was going to find, when she got there and decided to practice what she was going to try and explain the situation.
“Hello Doctor. I’m Aspen Strong, and I work for the Historical Reclamation Agency. My superior would like to know if you’ll come stay with us at Middleham for a while. Why? Oh because one of the most famous scientists in the Federation decided to resurrect a dead king with a spinal condition. We’d really appreciate it and you can stay in a renovated castle. But don’t tell anyone, because Chikara Haruka will come down on us like the wrath of god.”
Aspen groaned and buried her face in her hand.
“What the hell am I doing?” With a story like that she’d be lucky if she got away without being diagnosed with some sort of psychosis. She wouldn’t even believe herself, not if she hadn’t personally walked Leonardo da Vinci through the aspects of her prosthetic earlier.
Aspen sighed and focused on setting the flyer down in a public lot. She was the only one, most preferring the convenience of transporting. She leaned back in the seat and stared at the Danube in the distance.
“Doctor I need to talk to you,” she muttered and popped the door open. Evening was settling over the city. She brought up navigation, and turned right onto the street. She went over her words in her head, trying to figure out the sequence that would be most likely to work.
It was only a short walk to the clinic Russo was staying at. Aspen took a deep breath and pushed the door open.
“I’m sorry, we’ll be closing soon,” were the first words out of the bored looking receptionist’s mouth. Aspen frowned. The young man had his feet propped on the desk and he was reading from his tablet.
“I’m looking for Doctor Russo. Is she here?” She decided to ignore his rudeness, keeping her tone light.
His gaze didn’t even flicker. “I said, we’re closing soon. You gotta come back to tomorrow.”
Aspen sighed and stepped over the desk so her shadow fell over him, then grabbed the tablet out of his hands with her prosthetic. He yelped and finally looked up at her, blanching slightly when he realized how tall and built she was, and that she was in uniform. She looked at what he’d been reading and blushed.
“Look, guy, how about you get Russo for me, and I give back, alright? I’ll even ignore your terrible customer service,” she waved the tablet at him.
Aspen had never seen a teenager move so fast, scrambling to his feet and disappearing out of sight. Aspen grinned and dropped the tablet back to the desk.
She dropped into parade rest and glanced around the room. It was a small clinic, with washed white brick walls and some holographic displays of the brain or heart.
“Hello? I’m sorry I’m taking any appointments now,” A feminine voice spoke and Aspen turned to see one of the gorgeous women she’d ever met standing framed in the doorway, still in scrubs.
She was shorter than Aspen, but most human women were. Her long red tinted-brown hair hung in loose curls to her waist, even though it was kept back in a ponytail. Her velvet smooth black skin was clear of blemishes and her brown eyes were sharp and spoke of an excellent mind behind even better features.
Aspen blinked and stepped out of rest, extending her hand. “Doctor Russo?” The doctor shook her hand easily, heart shaped mouth frowning slightly.
“Yes, but I don’t know you?”
“Ensign Aspen Strong. I Was hoping I could talk to you, personally. Not for an appointment,” she hastily added When both the receptionist and Russo opened their mouths. “It’s personal.”
Russo frowned. “I really don’t usually.”
“I’ll make it your time, I promise, it’s for Magpie Jones, from the Historical Reclamation Agency,” Aspen added, a touch desperately. Russo blinked.
“Magpie wants something from me?”
Aspen nodded, but kept her mouth shut. Finally Russo sighed and nodded. She turned to her receptionist.
“John, finish cleaning and lock up here. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll get my coat, Ensign. There’s a coffee shop we can talk at a block down.” Russo disappeared back into the clinic proper.
Aspen frowned but shrugged, falling back in parade rest. She only had to wait a moment before the doctor reappeared, untangling her hair from her coat.
It was a silent walk, with the doctor leading. Aspen practiced her little speech her head again.
The coffee shop was a vintage one, with actual baristas, and Aspen fumbled for a moment, and ended up ordering a mocha with a lot of milk.
The doctor led her over to a window seat and they sat across from each other. Russo took a sip of her chai and looked Aspen straight in the eye.
“So what does Jones want from me?”
Aspen took a deep breath. “We would like you to come to Middleham,” she began slowly. “There’s a project we would like you to work on.”
“Has Jones discovered something? They knows that I’m in the medical field, right?” Russo asked.
Aspen nearly laughed. “Yep. We looked you up. Milanese Academy of Medicine and Cairo University right?”
“Yes. So I’m Jones’s first choice? Alright, what do they want?”
Aspen sighed then placed her hands on the table and looked Russo in the eye. “This is going to sound, well insane, but we need you to perform an operation. Privately, on the premises of Middleham.”
Russo looked at Aspen like she was crazy.
“I’m serious, it’s very urgent that you come with me and examine a man with um, profound scoliosis,” Aspen said. Russo stood up, frowning heavily.
“If this is a joke, it’s in terrible taste. I’m a very busy woman and I don’t appreciate having my time wasted. You can tell Jones that they can-”
Aspen lurched forward, nearly upsetting the table.
“It’s not a joke and I’m dead serious. Please I need you to come with me, to Middleham and you will see what I mean, but you need to come with me, please.”
Russo looked at her dubiously. “You’re oddly insistent about this.”
Aspen grit her teeth. “You’ll understand if you come with me.”
Russo’s eyes widened, and she took a step back looking ready to run from Aspen.
Aspen took a deep breath. “I know this sounds crazy, but we have the, the original owner of the castle staying with us and you’ll see if come with me to Middleham. I promise.”
“The original owner?” Russo frowned. Then her eyes widen a fraction and she looked down at Aspen.
“If I remember my English history lessons, that was a castle built by the Plantagenet dynasty,” she said slowly. Aspen nodded slowly.
Russo held up a delicate finger and sat back down.
“An original owner? One with scoliosis?” Her head tilted. “Do you have any proof of this?”
Aspen shook her head. “Historical artifacts need to remain on the premises,” she emphasized. Russo sucked in a breath through her teeth.
She took a moment to think, taking a sip of her drink. “If this is some sort of bizarre ploy by Jones to get more support for the reclamation project, I’m going to be furious,” Russo finally said.
Aspen sighed and gave the doctor a wry smile.
“I wouldn’t worry about that, the Boss had other tricks up their sleeves for that.”
“We’ll take the transporter,” Primavera Russo said as they left the coffee shop. “Which station did you come from?”
Aspen gestured. “I took the flyer from Middleham. We’ll go back that way. It’s a two hour flight, approximately.”
Russo tilted her head, frowning pensively. “Well, if you insist.”
The two women fell into step, and the sun gradually set on Vienna.
The moment Russo strapped herself into back bench and Aspen closed the door, she finally turned to face the doctor and blurted out, “we have King Richard back at Middleham and Magpie wants you to fix his spine.” She took a deep breath and smiled shakily. “Sorry, I hate lying to people.”
Russo stared at her, eyes wide.
Aspen flipped the flyer on, and powered the vertical engines. “It’ll be easier to explain it when we’re back at Middleham. Needless to say, it kind of a complicated story. You know who Doctor Rainbow Miller is right?”
Russo’s look of shock deepened.
“She didn’t, she wouldn’t!”
“From everything I’ve heard so far, Miller absolutely did,” Aspen said grimly. “It’s worrying, we can’t seem to find her anymore…”
Russo shook her magnificent head. “I heard heard from her intern, Kamala Manson that she’d gone on an extended sabbatical.”
Aspen frowned. “That seems entirely too convenient.” She shook her head. She didn’t like this intrigue, not one bit.
The Moon Prison: The Bastille.
“Is that what you’ve been telling people about me? Tsk tsk, Chikara. That won’t hold up under scrutiny,” Rain grinned and kicked her heels out in front of the chair. “Someone is going to come looking for me and realize I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”
Marie Riviera scowled, her heavy pale features washed out in the Bastille’s bright lighting. “The only one who will come looking for you is Manson and she’s the one who’s passing the information around for us. Major Haruka has thought of everything.”
Rain smiled. Not everything. She hasn’t bother to make sure the information hasn’t been leaked. I’ve been watching.
“Of course she has, Marie darling.”
Rain turned her attention back to the screen.
Whatever Robespierre was seeing must have been chilling because the man hadn’t stopped shivering for over an hour. It could have also been that Rain was degree by degree lowing the temperature of the cell. Exposed as he was, Robespierre must have been feeling it.
He’d curled himself into a corner and from the way he rocked, Rain guessed he was crying.
She rolled her eyes. She wondered if Richard or Leonardo would have held up better under the circumstances. She hoped so.
Somewhere in the American Northwest.
The pack had been on the outskirts of the forest, next to a town when it happened.
Ava lifted her head from the chicken carcass she’d been eating, fur bristling at the unfamiliar voice. A human male was approaching the pack and quickly. He held a lead in his hand, and a shepherd dog like Berwald, pulled him forward.
Ava growled, planting her paws firmly into the ground. The rest of the pack stopped what they were doing to watch. Lester and Bobbie also dropped their meals, dropping into protective stances as well.
“Whoa, alright there girl. Let’s just cool out alright? I’m not going to hurt you. Where’d you come from?” The male said quietly. Ava bared her teeth. The other dog tensed and curled back his top lip.
“Kirk, get back, down boy,” the man pulled the lead slightly. He fumbled at his hip for something and Ava threw her head back, howling.
The pack launched themselves forward as one, Berwald snapping Baby up in his jaws. Ava bowled the man and his dog over, racing for the tree line.
Ava could fly over the ground, but she still out run the beam of light that locked her muscles in place and sent her muzzle first into the dirt. Around her she could hear the rest of her pack dropping to the ground with her. She wanted to scream her anger, but all that came from her jaws was a whimper.
A shadow fell over them. The man and dog stood next to Ava’s head.
“Yeah, we have a bunch of stray dogs along the woods. Bring some crates and water.”