Once Maximilien had given Charlotte and Henriette one of his beloved doves to care for. A moment of childish negligence and the poor bird was dead.
He’d given Camille to Georges for careful keeping in the way he needed to be watched and as a lamb taken in by a lion, Camille had been destroyed.
He’d carefully helped craft a document to free France from her chains and within months seen it betrayed and violated.
Maximilien’s whole life was a constant cycle of destruction. He would nurture and build only to see it pulled apart like cooked meat as soon as he turned his attention away.
Something must have been wrong with him, if Maxime could never care for things the way they needed to be cared for. Now, he was being punished for it.
Rainbow examined her map. It was a paper one, something she carefully hidden away from Chikara’s electronic eyes and ears.
The project with Robespierre had begun to bore her. He wasn’t a strong man. He no longer reacted in an interesting way as Rainbow continued to experiment. She couldn’t do anything terribly serious to him, still telling her ever present guards that he was an android, but she didn’t really need to. Exposure and trauma were already wearing down the fragile man.
In her opinion, Robespierre had been sick of life before she’d ever even resurrected him.
Now she turned attention to where the other two might have disappeared to. Not for Chikara’s benefit, but instead for her own curiosity. The Major had returned to earth to search for them and they were doing a damned impressive job of vanishing for two men who’d been dead for over a thousand years. Perhaps they’d realized the smartest play was to remove themselves from the board and killed themselves.
Rain thought this unlikely, however. Leonardo displayed too much pride and Richard too much virtue. Self-destruction was still a sin to him.
Where did you go? To the bones of some old city? London? Milan? Back to the lab? A trillion cameras and we still can’t see you. Rainbow was reluctantly impressed.
Rationally, she realized the only way they could have escaped was with help. But they didn’t know anyone in the future, aside from herself and Kamala Mason. She’d kept tabs on her former intern, but the woman lived a very average life. She gained weight since getting married and only returned to Rain’s lab once, before starting work for the Federation, probably from Chikara’s influence. The Major had her own ways of keeping tabs.
Who else would want to help two strange white men?
The list was an eclectic one. On the one hand, Rainbow ran in social circles of plenty of people who would appreciate the theoretical applications of the knowledge Leonardo and Richard had. But on the other, those who could stand to be around such anachronisms could not possibly be that long. The cultural memories ran long and deep, after all.
Rainbow sighed and tucked the map away. Her guards would be coming to collect her soon.
Major Chikara Haruka did not like aberrations. In her opinion, no military personal should. The best offense was a good defense and you could only have a good defense when one knew what they up against. This was why she had never liked Doctor Rainbow Miller.
Oh yes, the woman was genius, Chikara could admit it readily. But at what cost? The security of the whole Terran Federation? Chikara watched her as closely as she watched the dead white man. Miller could act as if she was in accordance with Chikara was much as she wanted: but at the slightest hint of trouble, Chikara was more than prepared to destroy her.
Miller casually slouched into a chair and spun it. Her arrogance could not be understated.
Chikara sank her incisors into the meat of her tongue. “The man, doctor.”
“Oh him. He’s dying. Rapidly.”
“You’re a doctor,” Chikara said, out of obligation more than any sense of pity. Let him die. Keeping him alive will only complicate things. We can let the vacuum of space deal with the body.
Miller rolled her eyes. “You’re the one who said I could do what I like. Are you asking me to keep him alive now?”
“I do not ask. I order and you, as a citizen of the Federation, obey.”
Miller smirked. “Yes? So have you begun to go door to door, searching for the other two? If all the citizens are supposed to obey, this should be simple, right, Major?” Miller popped every hard consonant in her remark.
There’s more than room enough in the vacuum for you too, doctor.
“I will find them. It’s only a matter of time. If the man in dying, let him. When he does, Commander Rivera can return with you to earth,” Chikara decided.
Miller paused in her spinning, then shrugged. “Alright. Will you tell the people where I’ve been?”
“No one’s wondered,” Chikara snapped.
“That’s not what the internet says,” Miller sang out. “But have it your way. I’ll vanish from the public eye.”
Chikara hated aberrations.
“You want to disguise a ship as garbage to get to the Bastille?” Aspen repeated.
She’d walked into a Middleham that was already going full throttle. Leonardo, his hair wild and eyes manically bright and well on his way to a caffeine addiction if the amount of espresso cups around him was any indication, was explaining his idea.
“Si, si, si. Look.” With all the fluidly of someone who’d been born in the 31st century, Leonardo slid his fingers over the screen and tossed his sketch onto the large display that hung in Harmony’s office. Everyone, even Napoleon and Richard, had gathered in to listen. “Do you see? The-the atmosphere is already, ah, what word? Littered! Littered with debris. If we take a space faring ship and age it, disguise it, then it can drift on the currents-“
“Low power,” Harmony corrected.
“Low power up to the Bastille. There, there is an access port for waste. Wait and port there to enter, find Robespierre and then sneak back out. I am to understand space satellites and debris fall constantly. Just renter the air-“
“Atmosphere,” Aspen said.
“Atmosphere and guide it back. Timed correctly, it won’t take more than six hours,” Leonardo finished. He was flushed and smirking.
Aspen glanced at Magpie, who was pacing in the back of the room.
“That can not possibly work,” Kami said. She looked around the room. “Right? I’m not the only one who thinks this is fucking insane, right?”
Leonardo’s face fell and then, much to Aspen’s surprise, turned angry.
“Then what is your plan?” He snapped. “You ask me to think of a way to save Robespierre. I have one.” He pointed sharply to the display. “All you have said was that it was impossible.”
Harmony quickly stepped between them before Kami could return fire. “Okay, let’s just… Magpie? What do you think?”
Magpie looked up from their steepled fingers. “I don’t know thing one about space flight, or engineering,” they said slowly. “It sounds good, in theory. But, Aspen?”
Aspen found the ball passed to her and swallowed hard.
The hell? This is why I avoided the command path in the Federation.
She sighed and stepped forward. “Can I see that, Leonardo?” He passed her the tablet. Aspen read over his plan and had to admit, even given his limited context, Leonardo was a scary fast study. He grasped the basics and even though Aspen was sure no one had taught him about how mass would need to exit and enter the atmosphere or how it would change when it entered space, he’d somehow accounted for it, almost by intuition.
“It could work,” Aspen said slowly. “We’d have to be carefully how much we age and disguise the metal, since the more we destroy it, even aesthetically, the weaker it’ll be when it has to withstand the heat and pressure. But, it could work,” she stressed, looking up at Mags.
They nodded, almost distractedly, beginning to pace again.
Kami was still frowning. “And after he goes missing? We can’t know what rotations the guards are on. What if whoever goes up there runs straight into a patrol, or spirits help you, into Rivera?”
“Actually, dear Kami, we do.” Jerome said from his perch on the table. “Julia sketched me basics. Seems like he’s not exactly under Fort Knox security. A basic pattern disruptor for his cell and we can just get in and grab him.”
Kami didn’t say anything, just stared at the display, mouth twisted as she thought.
“Well I’m so glad to be asked my opinion too, you know,” Russo said loudly, waving her hand. “Your medical bay still isn’t good to go, but I’m sure I can improvise. I’m using the kitchen currently but give me more time and I can do even better. How injured is he exactly again?” She asked Jerome, who gave her a helpless shrug, large dark eyes sad.
“Julia says he’s in bad shape.”
“What an astounding diagnostic! Bad shape! I know what I’ll need now, thank you,” Russo said, slapping the table, her teeth bared. “Grazie.”
“Okay, seriously? What are we, thirteen?” Harmony spoke up. “Chill, please.”
Magpie held up their hand. “Harmony’s right. Everyone take a deep breath. If we can’t even hold together to do this, how are we going to handle the rest of them?”
They stepped up to the computer bay and clicked. The display switched from Leonardo’s plans to Harmony’s map of where they thought the other resurrected were. Green lights flickered hesitantly.
“We can’t fight among ourselves right now. Kami, you’ve made yourself heard, and I understand your concerns. They’re valid. But we’ve already committed. Aspen, you think this will work? Then we’re trying it.” Magpie turned and faced the room. “We’ll start today. Aspen, you and Harmony show Leonardo what he’ll need. Jerome, if your sister can get us the best window of opportunity, we’ll need it. A distraction would be brilliant. Doctor Russo, come with me and we’ll discuss plans for the medical bay.”
“What do you want of us?”
Aspen had honestly forgotten about Richard and Napoleon. Both men had been silent through the meeting, but now Richard spoke, his arms crossed over his chest and bearing distinctly military.
Magpie hesitated. “You…want to help?”
Richard scowled. “I have assisted with strategy and planning before. I can fight. I should go to retrieve the Frenchman.”
Aspen winced. “Um. No. I can teach you how to fly, later, but we don’t have time for a crash course on stealth missions.” She turned to Magpie. “But I bet we can review the flight course together.”
Magpie rubbed their temple. “Alright. Yes. Richard, Napoleon. You help Aspen after she’s done with Harmony and Leonardo.”
Neither man looked impressed with playing second fiddle, but kept their silence and nodded.
Holy shit, Aspen Strong thought to herself. We might just be able to pull this off.