Episode Sixteen: The Emperor. Part Three.
A/N: Guys. Small confession. I’m not the world’s biggest Napoleon fan, so if he’s not quite as fluid in terms of thought process and characterization as some of the others, that’s why. I may or may not resent him for being The World’s Worst Jacobin.
The Island of Saint Helena.
Clio perched on one of the ceiling beams, looking down on the mortal below her. His eyes were closed but she wasn’t sure if he was sleeping or just playing at it.
“Now that’s a big fish,” Spectra said from beside her. She swung her back legs, her yellow-eyed gaze amused. “These mortals have some ambition.”
“Just like Rainbow,” Clio pointed out. “And look how that’s turning out.”
“Just like him and he kicked off a whole era of silly alliance making. Which in turn led to the most shocking war-“
“Until the next most shocking war and the one after that, so on and so on. Yes. I know. But how could he have known that? How could he ever be asked to see beyond his own small life?”
Spectra shrugged. “Mortals get better at it with age. Mine seems to understand the difference between diplomacy with words and diplomacy with a knife, you know.”
Clio sighed. “You have to hold him to his own. He was a weight-bearing spine when the previous years had seen nothing but cripples.”
“You’re soft on him,” Spectra grinned. “This is your background come to light. You prefer the direct attack, the blunt weight of a club.”
“Don’t blame me, blame my lineage,” she said with a sniff. “Oh look, he wakes.”
Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t entirely sure how much sleep he had gotten but there was light still streaming through the windows of his room. So he’d either fallen to Morpheus for an entire half day, or it had been a meager few hours. He opened his eyes and slowly sat up.
He’d never before considered himself blessed to be able to sit up, but after a month of feeling like his abdomen was being crushed in a vice, it was an ability he was never going take for granted again.
Once up, he promptly checked the door, which had been locked after he’d been tossed in here. The handle was missing and it was barred from the outside. Napoleon snorted. They knew how they had and taken proper precautions then.
Likely the English.
He examined the one window, which was ten feet from the floor and barred. The bed was bolted to the floor. There was a single plate which had previously held a small loaf of bread, butter, and some smoked shellfish. The plate was made of some lightweight material that hadn’t broken when he threw it against the floor, hoping that the disturbance would cause a guard to come, or break into a shard to fashion a weapon with.
Not much to engineer an escape, frankly. Napoleon sat down and stared at the door.
It a perfect world, word his resurrection would have already spread and those still loyal to him would undoubtedly come for their Emperor. However, nothing had gone right over the past few years so he didn’t think was about to start.
Napoleon did not know how long he had been laying down on his cot when he heard the door unbolting. He quickly got to his feet, holding himself ready.
The door swung open and the two masked people who had been looking over Napoleon when he woke are standing in the doorway, with some foreign styled pistol aimed directly at his chest. He lifted his head in challenge: like any man would dare to fire boldly at him.
“You will come with us.” The speech is strange, stilted. It’s a very unnatural voice as well, it sounds like metal grating on cobblestone.
Napoleon lifted his head higher. “You will not give me orders. I de-“
Before he can give them his list of requests and demands to get into contact with whoever the hell is running France in his stead, one of them stepped forward and hit him with the barrel of the pistol. Napoleon found blood dribbling down his chin and he was dragged along by the arms outside.
The sun seemed stunningly bright and he shook his head, clearing spots and trying to shake off their hold off his arms.
There was a very loud buzzing noise from overhead and Napoleon looked up, expecting to see a myriad of hornets. A dark shadow passed overhead and then began to float down to the ground. He gaped at the flying object, which was a stern grey and black and shaped in a wedge with two wings. It opened and figure clad entirely in black matte fabric exited, holding a very large rifle.
In a strict military fashion that Napoleon would have been proud to see in his own ranks, the soldier marched directly toward them.
“You have the credits?” One of his captors called out.
In an oddly mechanical voice, the soldier replied. “Yes. Right here. Release him and I will send it over.” He held up his fist and Napoleon could just make out that he held something shiny. Silver? He was insulted, he was worth more than just a fistful of silver!
“Maginot line exchange?” His captor called again. The soldier nodded once. He pressed his arm and much to Napoleon’s amazement, a part of the uniform detached and hovered next to him. He placed the silver on the floating object and slowly started sending it towards them. Napoleon could just make out the air it displaced to keep it hovering.
His captors seemed unphased and they shoved him forward. “Walk. Slowly. If you run, we will shoot. Understand?”
Napoleon glared over his shoulder, but nodded once and began a slow march over the parched earth. His heart pounded in his chest but he kept his chin up. What coward what shoot him in the back and suffer the wrath of his Empire?
The floating object passed him halfway and he could hear a high-pitched whine. He glanced at the silver and saw it was pressed into a small square, almost as flat as paper. Untarnished and good quality but such a small amount that he scowled.
When he finally made it to the solider, he turned around and faced back across the hostage line. They had the silver but the floating thing zipped back quickly. The soldier caught it and slotted it back into his uniform.
“Satisfied?” He called out, voice still grating out oddly. The captors looked at the silver, examining it closely and even holding it against the sun.
“No tracer?” One of them shouted, looking at them suspiciously.
“Of course not. This is off the books.”
Finally, they seemed prepared. “Get on your ship and leave,” one of them barked, leveling the pistol at them.
The soldier nodded and with a firm hand on Napoleon’s shoulder, steered him ahead. He was herded up the metal ramp and pushed into the cabin of the ship. The soldier slapped hand down on the wall and the door slowly shut. He ripped off his helmet-
“You’re a woman!” Napoleon blurted out. The African woman looked at him and grinned shakily.
“Sure am. You’re Napoleon,” she glanced over him quickly and moved to the front of the ship. “I kinda thought you were going to be shorter.”
Before he could formulate his furious reply to this or demand to be released, she powered the thing on and he could feel the vibrations under his feet.
“I’ll get you out of those cuffs soon, but we only have about thirty seconds until they realize that credit card is a forgery and then we’re totally fucked,” she said brusquely. “You’ll probably want to sit down,” she said, glancing over her shoulder and gesturing to bench on the side of the ship.
“Why would I-“ but before he could get out the rest of his demand, there was a high whine of sound and then the impact of something hitting the metal outside of the ship.
“Fuck! Sit down!” She barked and pressed the glass panel in front of her. The ship was still being bombarded when it lifted into the sky and Napoleon pressed himself against the hull, eye closed. It felt as if his stomach he been left behind.
He could hear the woman hissing and cursing as she steered the ship and the feeling of it weaving back and forth on the open threatened to make him very sick.
Finally, it evened out and there was a gusty sigh. “Okay, we’re over open water so we should be good,” she said softly. He jumped when there was a hand on his shoulder. Napoleon opened his eyes and saw her smiling at him. He glanced at the front and saw that it seemed to be steering itself.
“Here, stand up and turn around. I can get those off,” she said, pulling the leather gloves off her hands. He started when he saw one of them was made of metal. He turned and faced the bulkhead.
“I’m sure you have a lot of questions about all of this,” she said, voice carefully level. He felt tugging on the restraints and they suddenly popped open. “I can answer a few of them, but my boss will be able to answer even more. Right now our biggest priority is to get you to safety.” Napoleon turned around.
“What did they ask for my ransom?” He asked.
The woman blinked. “How much money? A billion credits from the Corsican government.”
“Oh,” he said. “A billion. Is that what you gave them on that silver?”
She nodded. He shrugged. “That’s good enough, I suppose. Where are we headed? Paris?” He asked, heading towards the bow.
“Ah, well,” she stuttered as he inspected the navigation. It was sleek and clean, comprised of entirely glass panels.
“How do you steer this?” He asked before she could answer his question. “There is no wheel.”
“Thank gods, a question I can answer,” she muttered. “This is the navigation array, this is propulsion, and this is altitude. Honestly, it’s pretty fool-proof. The Federation does know how to streamline things.”
He looked up, eyebrow raised. “Federation?”
“The Terran Federation,” she said. “That’s where you are now.”
Napoleon nodded absently. “So if not Paris, then where?”
She pulled a face and fingered the end of her golden braids. “You aren’t going to like this, but we’re going to castle, in England. It’s called Middleham.”
He sneered. “So I see. From one jailer to another.”
She sighed. “It’s not like that. There’s a lot of people who are trying to get to you and won’t hesitate to kill you. You’ll see when we get there,” she assured him.
Napoleon scowled. “And what’s your name, madame?”
“I’m Ensign Aspen Strong. I work security at Middleham.”
He cast a dubious look at her. While the woman did seem to be well built enough to be a fishmonger, he’d never heard of a woman who worked as a soldier.
She steered him to the back and pushed him onto a bench. “Look, we’ll be back at Middleham in about an hour and a half. Why don’t you get some rest?”
Napoleon’s stomach growled. Strong smiled. “There’ll be food there, too, don’t worry.”
He rolled his eyes. “English food.”