Season Two. Episode Seventeen: Invasive Operations. Part Three.

Part Three.

A/N: Who here thought I’d just forgotten about the whole dog subplot? Surprise!

Ava paced her cell, tail brushing along the walls. 

Norma rolled over onto her back. “You’ll tire yourself out,” she yawned.

Ava growled.

“You shouldn’t worry. The humans aren’t going to harm us. We’ll get food and water. It’ll give Baby and Jep a chance to rest while we plan.”

Her pads were sore from scraping over the concrete but Ava’s heart felt like it was going to explode from her ribs, like a rabbit from the undergrowth. “They’re going to alert Rain, I just know it.”

“We escaped from her once,” Norma pointed out.

“And who’s to say we’ll do it again?” She barked, the sound echoing off the scentless flat walls. Immediately the other cages were filled with the sounds of barks and snarls. Ava could hear Bobby and Berwald among them and ran to the gate, pressing herself along it to try and scent them.

Then there was the painful squeaking of the door and Ava could feel all of the fur along her spine rise. She had not come so far only to have humans lock her away. 

“What’s the issue here?” It echoed along the walls and they all fall quiet. Someone whimpered. “Keep it down, damnit.” There were footsteps and a shadow, far bigger than Rain’s or Ava’s human black out the lights. Ava bared all of her teeth, her growl coming all the way up from the bottom of her ribs. 

“You’re the troublemaker.” He pressed a hand against the grating and Ava snaps at it, nothing playful about it. He quickly withdrew his hand. “Alright! We’re still trying to figure out just where the hell you came from, so don’t take it out on me, huh?”

Ava doesn’t relax until he’s walked away and shut the door behind him. 

“Do you think they’ll find Rain?” Norma asked. “She was taken away by those other humans…”

Ava wished she felt more certain when she snorted, “no.”

XXX

A small report from Clio: A Muse. 

It is 3000 on Earth and 109 on Mars. 

Currently, Her Excellency Unathi Hua Zhu is President of the Terran Federation. The Dante is in year seven of its mission to Alpha Centauri. The Galactica Corp has just recently broken records for the largest trade ever made with alien terrestrials, exchanging one billion gigabytes of data on Terran history and culture in exchange for Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. The ongoing debate of if the Federation should dispose of the Moon prison, the Bastille. The defense claims that it is a scar across Earth’s face. The opposition argues the impracticality of dismantling and disposal. 

Reparations have continued on the New Great Barrier Reef. Divers have been working on cultivating artificial coral and prompting the return of sea-life. Volunteers continue cleaning up the plastic island in the Pacific. The Federation would like to remind everyone that offshore dumping is punishable by five years on a labor farm.

The Stadium for the New Cape Town Olympics had been completed, with 45,000 seats. This will be the tenth anniversary of inviting alien ambassadors to the games. There are still negotiations for alien participation in 3004.

Blanche has been topping the music charts for the past sixteen weeks and his face has been plastered all over Cairo and Madrid in anticipation for his first duel streaming concert, using the newest holographic technology. On the independent scene there’s musical comedy conglomerate, No Boats Allowed. Two Non Identical Twins have just come out with a trending cover of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons. There’s been talk of adapting Shakespeare’s Macbeth into a  West End musical.

Doctor Rainbow Miller’s prototype for the next long distant hovercraft has mysteriously vanished and set back production for months, much to the anger and disappointment of the Federation, as they had already pre-ordered fifty test units. ID data capacity has been increased, to adjust for the new average human lifespan, 139. 

There has been an inexplicable rash of grave robbing across the planet. None of the thieves have caught, leading to the theory that they are receiving off-world assistance. Several alien governments have been questioned or bribed. The Komali have spontaneously dropped contact and missed a rendezvous to meet their ambassador. No one can find Rainbow Miller. 

Officially, Major Haruka Chikara is stationed in Cairo as part of the presidential cabinet. However, she cited a private emergency and has refused all calls except from President Zhu. There are rumors that she might have finally consummated her marriage with her alien husband, but no one has seen him for weeks, either.  

There have been seven successful resurrections thus far.   

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.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Twelve: Fraternite. Part Three.

Part Three.

Somewhere north of Boulder, Colorado.

Ava lifted her head, sniffing at the wind. Dusk had settled over the forest and all manner of small easily killed animals were merging from their holes. Between Bobby, Berwald and Lester the kill pile was quickly flowing with mice, birds and small rabbits. Jep sniffed at a rabbit, it’s throat torn out, and whined.

Ava huffed, shaking herself. “Don’t turn it away Jep. It’s food.”

The little spaniel whined again. “It’s bloody.”

Ava tossed her head. “You’ll get used to it.”

She trotted pas him to where Baby was flopped over in the shade of a tree. The long day run had been hard on the smallest member of the pack. Norma was looking after her.

“She’s not made like the rest of us. It’s exhausted her. We’ll have to give her all night and probably some of the daylight tomorrow to recover,” the Corgi said. Ava nosed the puppy, who whimpered.

“She’ll adjust,” Berwald growled from behind. There was a thump and Ava turned to see a freshly killed crow on the ground.

“This will be for naught if members of the pack start dropping from exhaustion and hunger,” Norma warned. Berwald bared his teeth at her, and Norma growled right back. Ava raked her large paw down the side of Berwald’s face.

“Stop it. Norma’s right. We’ll let Baby recover, and start south tomorrow evening. We head for the cities. We have to find our humans,” she ordered. Berwald crouched down low on his belly.

“Yes, alpha.”

He walked away, tail hung low, and catch in his mouth.

“You’re going to have to get that under control,” Norma sniffed.

Ava privately agreed but kept her tongue in her mouth.

XXX

Rain was working very quickly. Her fingers blurred over the touchpad.

She’d seen as Marie Rivera and Chikara’s private forces had taken Robespierre, throwing the man into the back of the transport vehicle. It was on its way to the Bastille even now, and Chikara herself was getting ready to meet it there. In the top of the line newly minted Moon Flyer, it would only take them about three hours to get up there. All Chikiara had to do was get her officers in line and arrange a cover story for her absence at HQ.

It was a miracle Rain was even still allowed to go anywhere without a body guard but everyone had been called to Chikara’s side as she announced her trip. Rain had snuck away and using a tricky piece of old-school hacking had gotten into her personal notes.
Notes that were now being uploaded to the internet.

“Information is meant to be free, chienne,” she whispered, grinning savagely at the screen. The process was destroying what she’d left on her personal sever and nesting it as a private program in the cloud.

It would take them months to find it, if they even could.

She finished her final keystroke, as the sound of boots approached the room. Quickly Rain shut the browser down and hit a hard shut down on the screen.

“What are you doing?” Asked the young guard.

“Looking at porn,” Rain answered flippantly. “Is Chikara ready then?”

She turned when a voice spoke from the front of the room. “Yes, Doctor Miller. Jerkins, put her in handcuffs. I think She needs to learn to keep her hands to herself.”

Chikara was dressed in her military uniform, dark blue with silver edging. “We are meeting Marie at the Bastille.”

Rain sneered. “Joy.” Her hands were securely crossed at the wrist behind her. Jerkins, the guard grabbed her shoulder securely. “Careful, I have a limp. You should carry me,” she told her.

Chikara ignored Rain’s irreverence. “Come. We’re leaving.”

XXX

Richard woke from uneasy sleep with Leonardo tapping insistently on his shoulder.

“Wake up. We’re near to Middleham,” the Italian told him. Richard noted the heaviness around his eyes and wondered if he’d slept at all.

He sat up and peered over Aspen Strong’s shoulder. They were descending, and he noted that the sun was beginning to set. His heart caught as he saw the familiar sight of the Keep.

“I have to fly this into the underground launch pad, we keep it out of sight for historical accuracy.” Aspen was carefully guiding the flying machine down. She angled it down and Richard could feel the floor under him tip forward as she gently descended into a large hole in the ground. It was dimply lit, and Richard could see other machines against the walls of the cave. It landed with a gentle thump and there was silence as the machine went dark.

Aspen opened the back of it again and hopped off the ramp. Feeling a little like cattle, Richard walked down it. After Leonardo followed him off and Aspen closed it she led her way back out of the hole. A metal door, like a drawbridge closed it after them. Richard breathed the smell of the distant river and the heather of the wind whipped moors. In the distance trees creaked and overhead some storm clouds were gathering. Richard could feel the building rain storm in his bones.

Over taking Aspen and Leonardo Richard strode ahead of them, needing no leading here. In his minds eye he could practically see George ahead of him in horseback, calling over his shoulder to ‘Hurry up Dickon!’

The main part of the castle was right ahead of him, and feeling his heart thumping in his chest, he jogged across the bridge to the main doors. This he knew, as if by instinct.

Richard’s arms strained as he pushed the doors open. The creaked but swung into the great hall.

His cousin seated on the dais at the end. His Lady Anne coming to greet him. His son. He’ll open the door and all will be right again. He’ll wake up from this dream and Edward will be alive and Richard will still be his most loyal servant. 

“Aspen’s back!” Someone shouted and Richard’s dream disintegrated before his eyes.

Several people, all but one darker than him, rushed into the hall and stopped cold. Richard was still hovering between the outer door and the hall, when a cold hard hand, like it was wrapped in a gauntlet, grabbed his good shoulder and pushed him in.

“Look what I brought!” Aspen cheered. “The king comes back!”

Leonardo came to stand next to him, looking around at the castle.

“So this is England?” He asked under his breath.

“The north, yes.” Richard aid back, watching as from the group of four as a shorter man pushed his way to the front. His hair was shaved all the way to his brown skin, except for the top of his scalp, where he had a tuft of silver hair. He was staring at Richard with almost unseemly amazement, mouth gaped.

“Uh you doing okay Magpie?” Aspen asked.

“Oh my god. It’s really you. It’s really Richard the Third,” he choked, eyes filling with tears. Richard shifted slightly, an unnerved prickling along his neck.

“Did Rivera get the other one?” One of the other men spoke up. He was looking at Aspen, who nodded.

“You’ll never guess who it was, Harm,” she hissed.

“And who is this one?” The shortest person there, who was still taller than Richard, whispered, looking at Leonardo.

The Italian bowed. “Leonardo ser Piedro da Vinci, at your service.”

The assembled group went quiet and even Magpie tore his gaze away from Richard.

“Leonardo…da Vinci?” Aspen asked slowly.

“Like the Mona Lisa, da Vinci?” The other woman asked. Leonardo tilted his head.

“The who?”

Magpie whipped out his tablet and quickly typed something in before turning it around. There was a small portrait of a woman who was smiling, her hands contently folded over each other. At first glance Richard didn’t think there was anything particular about it, but the longer he stared the more lifelike she appeared. He cast a surprised glance at Leonardo. He hadn’t know he was a court artist, clearly this was a woman of some import to have a portrait like this.

Leonardo brightened. “Ah! Si, Giaconda.”

The assembled group gasped.

Aspen put her metal hand to her head. “Oh my god. We kidnapped Leonardo da Vinci, and King Richard the Third.”

Magpie on the other hand was beginning to smile. He grasped each their hands in turn, shaking them enthusiastically.

“Gentlemen, I can hardly tell you what an honor it is to welcome you here to Middleham.”

XXX

Maximilien found himself jerked awake when the vehicle landed. He listened, heart pounding, as metal scraped along metal.

Could he possibly make a run for it once the door opened? He didn’t think so. Instead Max backed into the corner, resolute to at least make it difficult for them to dislodge him. The walls were nearly freezing to the touch, but he gripped them tightly.

The doors opened and light poured in. Instinctively he raised an arm to block it and there was a thumping as another person joined him in the vehicle. He was rudely grabbed and nearly pushed out of the box, stumbling and nearly falling onto his face.

Another set of hands grabbed his shoulders and whipped him around before he could get his bearings and his wrists were bound behind his back. He was pushed forward by a firm hand on the back of his neck.

“Move.”

Maximilien twisted, trying to dislodge it, heart rapidly thumping as memories of the guillotine rose within him.

“Non! I demand to-“

“Quiet, move!” He was shoved forward again, this time stumbling forward. His glasses slipped and his surroundings blurred.

They rushed him down a long dim hallway that seemed to curve continuously. Max was jerked still when they wheeled him around and brought him face to face with a featureless sliding door.

“Chief, we are bringing the android to you now. Security code forty-seven.”

The doors slid open and Maximilien was dragged in.

He shook his head, trying to see pas the shatter glass over his eyes.

A woman sat behind a desk, her dark hair pulled back into a neat bun. She glanced up at him and frowned.

“I told you to take those,” she nodded at Max, and someone pulled his glasses off. Now blind, Maximilien blinked rapidly in the harsh light.

“I am Maximilien Robespierre. Where am I?” He demanded.

She nodded at him again.

“Secure him in number five after processing.”

They started to drag him away.

“Welcome to the Bastille.”

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Nine: Lions and Tigers and Boars. Part Three.

PART THREE.

Ava slowly crept out from under the bed in Richard’s room.

Strangers had been in the house, smelling of ozone and metal. They’d taken Rain away.

She slowly nosed the door open, smelling the air. The men were gone too, and from the way Pallas’s human had said goodbye, they weren’t coming back.

The pack was alone.

The other dogs were creeping out from where they’d been hiding. Pallas was carrying a scrap of fabric in her teeth. When Bobby tried to sniff it, the poodle growled so furiously that the boarder collie yipped and backed away into the wall, tail tucked.

“What happened?” Baby asked, crouched low to the floor, shaking. “Where’s Rain?”

“Gone. She was taken by the strangers.” Berwald growled. The German Shepard shook himself, hopping from one front paw to another. “Alpha, we should leave now. Rain is gone, and the house is empty. We will never have a better chance to run.” At this the pack burst in a flurry of barks and howls. Ava ignored them, sniffing the ground. She could smell the men, and the under lying sense of fear. They thought they were going to be hunted. She shook her tail. Well if it was hunt they wanted, a hunt they would receive.

“We are leaving.” Her announcement quieted the rest of her pack. Norma jumped off the table, where she’d been lying.

“Where are we going to go, Ava? Where can we go?” The little corgi demanded.

Ava turned and bounded over to the door, energy suddenly filling her. She clawed it open, uncaring of the way her claws scratched the door. There was no need for secrecy now.

It opened and a fading light filled the hallway. It would be sunset soon, all the better for them.

“We’re going to go after the men!” She crowed. “We’re going to rejoin with them. They are our humans now.”

Pallas dropped the fabric she’d been clutching. Ava now realized it was a piece of one of shirts that the small, sickly, Robespierre had worn.

“The men? My human?” She demanded. Ava shook herself in excitement, tail going faster.

“Yes. We leave at sunset. Everyone should eat. Norma, use the food maker.” She ordered. Ava turned to face the sun, the wind blowing the scent of many animals, humans, things, over her. Out there somewhere, she could feel the pull of her human, of Richard.

I’ll find you. And then we’ll run.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Eight: Eschewal. Part Four.

PART FOUR.

Rain had taken her sedative upstairs and passed out in her bathroom, propped against the toilet when they went looking for her. Despite the fact Richard didn’t really think it would do much good, he dragged a chair from out of his room, and jammed it under the door-knob.

Leonardo was busy downloading information he though had been useful from Rain’s database, maps, records, biographies, and some of the older more digestible medical textbooks he’d found. He sent Robespierre down into Rain’s private lab to take what batteries and cords he thought they would need. The Frenchmen originally protested this.

“That’s still her property.”

“It’s for a common need, and from what I’ve gathered, talking to her, Rain could replace anything we take three times over. I wouldn’t worry too much about if we’re going to leave her bereft or not,” Leonardo placated him, although Robespierre still did not look entirely convinced.

Richard busied himself by stripping the bedding from the beds, and stuffing them in all bags he could lay his hands on. Most of them were flimsy looking, made with thin slippery material, and delicate looking stitching. He scowled, but resigned himself. If they happened to come upon anything better, Richard felt confident he’d be able to trade for it.

Within a quarter of an hour, the three men were leaving Rain’s house. Before they’d left, Ava had grabbed Richard’s wrist and growled.

“Stay.” He ordered, taking his hand back. To his surprise, the hound obeyed and sat down, watching him mournfully.

“Good girl,” he said at last, giving the dog a scratch. Robespierre patted her on the head.

“Smart dog,” he cooed. Richard rolled his eyes.

“Let’s go, I don’t think that alien will be out much longer.”

Leonardo nodded and slipped out ahead of them, bag with the electronics slung over his shoulder. Richard gestured to Robespierre.

“Traitors first,” he said. Robespierre didn’t say anything, but Richard could see the disdain that shone in his eyes for a moment, before he turned and followed Leonardo.

Richard was careful to relock the door, and jammed a large stone in front of it for good measure, although he didn’t imagine it would hold either the alien or Rain for very long.

Leonardo was in the shed next to Rain’s house, studying one of the vehicles. He walked around it, muttering in Italian. Richard was more than prepared to walk the distance into wherever the ocean was to catch a ship, but Leonardo insisted that this would be much faster.

“Do you know how to work it?” Richard asked, frowning.

“Theoretically, it’s simple enough.” Leonardo smiled at him. “Simply start the engine and then enter the destination of where you want to go.”

Robespierre, looking hesitant, asked, “Do you know how to start it?”

Leonardo revealed a data chip in his hand. “No, but this does. Apparently it’s something that Rain was working on. Get in and we’ll see how it works.”

Richard sighed and eyed the vehicle. It resembled a horseless carriage, however it was made entirely of metal. It sat on the ground, and looked entirely immobile. He consoled himself by remember the horrifying journey here, and thinking that at least this mad Italian was not asking him to be unmade and sent thousands of miles.

All things considered a horseless carriage he could deal with.

Richard, after fiddling with the lever on the door, eventually made his way into the front of the carriage. A smooth panel was in front of him.

Leonardo slid in after him, with considerably more grace.

“Robespierre, you will have to sit in the back, there is no more room here.”

Richard smirked to himself.

Leonardo fiddled with the panel and it lit up under his fingers. He found where to insert the tiny metal bit and slid it in carefully. The panel flickered, once, twice, and then it beeped.

“User accepted. Destination?” A smooth male voice asked.

Leonardo fished in his bag for the map.

“Florence?”

The panel flashed red.

“Negative destination. Florence sank in 2310. Please select another destination.”

“Sank?” Richard muttered. He and Leonardo glanced at each other.

“Well I suppose it was built on a swamp,” Leonardo said sadly. “Any other suggestions?”

“Paris,” Robespierre said from the back seat. The panel flashed green before Richard could demand London instead.

“Destination accepted. Please fastened seat-belt and prepare for lift-off.”

The three men exchanged looks. Leonardo mouthed the term, ‘lift off’, and frowned.

Richard’s concerns were closer to home.

“What in the saints names are sea-AHHHHH!”

All three of them screamed as the vehicle let out a beep and went from motionless to quickly rising, crashing straight through the shed’s roof. Richard watched with wide eyes as the ground dropped away. He had the funny feeling his guts had stayed. He shut his eyes and gripped the leather bench tightly.

“We’re flying! My god, we’re really flying!” Leonardo seemed to have recovered the fastest, and was laughing in delight. Richard grit his teeth as he could feel the carriage change direction. Robespierre seemed to share his issue, since he could hear him wretch.

“Richard, Maximilien! Open your eyes, it’s incredible,” Leonardo said, shaking his arm like a child. Richard shook his head and wrenched his arm away.

“Absolutely not.”

“Are you mad?” Robespierre demanded, sounding shaky.

Leonardo sighed, and Richard bristled. “For heaven’s sake. It’s perfectly safe in here, and you can see the whole of North America. We’re surrounded by clouds and all the sky is spread out under us. The sun is shining and we’re flying. Please, I’m sincerely asking that the two of you open your eyes and join me.”

Richard pressed his lips together tightly. He didn’t want to see how high they were from the realm of men, from what he knew. But he also understood the logic behind what Leonardo was requesting. He couldn’t very well spend his entire journey to Paris with his eyes shut.

He took a deep and calming breath before slowly opening his eyes.

The whole vehicle was awash in bright sunlight, glittering off the glass panel in front of him. The leather was already warming under him and Richard cynically wondered how long it would be till it became unbearable. However very slowly he looked around, eyes going wide and round.

They were surrounded by fluffy white clouds, the kind that always beckoned him out of the castle as a child, and reminded him of summers spent riding with Ned and George. The sky was a rich royal blue, and when he gathered his courage and looked out one of the glass windows the earth below them was a wash of greens-browns-greys. He could make out massive glass buildings, some of them rising into the clouds with them.

He looked over at Leonardo, who had tears sparkling in his eyes.

“We’re flying. I’d dreamt of it for so long, and now,” he touched the glass that separated them from the outside. Richard couldn’t help but feel moved by the other man’s sincere emotion.

“It’s so far away,” Robespierre whispered from the back. He too had his hand pressed to the glass.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Seven: Rest in Pain. Part Four.

The be-damned hound was still following him, right up until Richard closed the door of his room. To his surprise, she didn’t whine or bark. He wondered if he was going to end up tripping over her when he left his cramped room in the morning. He didn’t know if Rain had set the dog to trail after him or not, but couldn’t help to feel uneasy by the canine shadow.

He wasn’t sure if that was he own prudence speaking up or if he was over reacting. His whole body felt battered and his mind tender, as if it had been smashed in the face of his new reality.

Richard sighed and ran his hands through his hair, frowning.

But Lord, how he missed Anne. There had been many times in his life when Richard had no one by his side. When he and George had been sent away for their safety after their father was killed, Richard would sometimes ache from the crushing isolation that bore down on him. After George tried defecting to Warwick and Edward was bending over backwards to please the Woodvilles and his new wife, Richard had felt very alone in the London court. He hadn’t even had Lovell there.

Anne had often been able to sympathize with his feelings, having spent her own time away from her mother and sister, trapped with Henry and Margaret D’Anjou. Then again when George had trapped her, trying to steal her inheritance. Richard had known that with Anne by his side he would at least always have a steadfast companion, despite her sex.

But then after Ned and Anne had died, Richard knew that he’d lost his best connections to others and his isolation had been complete. Not even Catsby or Francis could ease the loneliness at the end. His solace had been in the thought that one day he’d meet them again in Heaven with the Lord.

Richard sat down on the bed very slowly.

But something had gone wrong, and now he was stuck here, still breathing, made up by some mad witch, and with Leonardo, the Italian who he couldn’t parse yet, and Robespierre who he already did not like. He scrubbed a hand over his face, the stubble of his beard scratching his palm.

He was beginning to tire, and very slowly laid down on the mattress, legs still hanging half off the bed. He closed his eyes and fell asleep almost at once.

Run faster, run faster, run faster. His heart was pounding and there was red blood splashed on his bristly white fur. He charged through the thick dark undergrowth, trees leering over and rose bush’s thorns adding to his scratches.

Behind Richard, he can hear the thunderous roars, the crackling of fire, and the hurricane like whooshes from wings. He was running like the wind, panting harshly, but he’s not going to be able to run forever. Even as the hunting beast bares down on him, Richard spun and instead charged fearlessly at his enemy.

Much larger than he, and filling the entire sky it seemed, was a red dragon, wings rending the stormy sky behind it. On it’s back was Henry Tudor, bearing a sword. Richard knew he could gore him, if only he can get close enough. He’s not afraid of a child, of a puffed-up traitor. He’s going to kill him and bring an end to all this suffering.  

But it was never going to be enough, because even as he raced to his foe, the dragon reached down and snatched him off the ground, teeth tearing into his side. There was a disorienting moment before the dragon closed his mouth that Richard could see out, into the sky, but then the beast swallowed and Richard was dropped into darkness.

He landed, squealing in shock, anger, and pain, in the sick of the stomach. Bile engulfed him and Richard paddled furiously to stay afloat in the foul liquid.

Around him he could see the bones and tusks of his family. His father’s head, crowned in a ring of white roses and thorns, his brothers, Edmund, Edward, and George, and sister, Margret. His son, like him but in miniature, flesh melting off his bones and flesh seared red.

Anne, throat torn out and eyes closed, was bobbing in the red sludge. Richard paddled harder, but the thick liquid was wearing him down and he knew that soon he would not be able to hold himself up any longer. He moved over to where Anne was, and slowly allowed himself to stop swimming.

Richard woke with a start, painfully banging his foot off the metal frame of the bed. Curing, Richard rolled over and grabbed the injury. Thankfully the pain chased the worst of the fog of the night terror away. By the time the ankle stopped throbbing Richard had nearly gotten his heart beat under control.

He laid back down and clapped a hand over his eyes, frowning grimly.

In that moment, he was eight years old again, homesick and mourning his family all over again.   

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Six: Threshold. Part Four.

PART FOUR.

The hound was still trailing him.

Richard had left Rain’s oddly garish and huge house early, stopping only to grab bread. She’d locked the so termed ‘replicator’ so he couldn’t get beer, but this the bread would serve to break his fast.

Richard wasn’t entirely sure where he was going, only grappling with his fierce desire to get away from Rain, from the odd Italian and the French usurper. However about ten minutes into his walk, he realized that he’d gained a shadow, in the form of Rain’s massive hound, Ava.

“Get,” he barked sharply at it. The dog stared at him, seemingly unimpressed. Richard scowled at the beast and finally with a sigh, trekked on.

The woods around Rain’s house were not like those around the city of York. The trees were sparse, the air itself was thinner. He was climbing up a steep incline, his lungs burning. However it was more alive he’d felt since the morning of the battle with Lancaster, so Richard took what he could get. When Richard felt he was high enough, he sat down at the base of a large pine tree and wiped the sweat from his face with his shirt. It wasn’t fine enough material for him to worry about ruining, he reasoned. Ava, who had been sniffing at bushes ahead of him, turned and climbed cat-like back down the rocky incline. She sat a few feet from him, back stiff and ears pricked forward.

“How did you fall in with Miller, hmm?” Richard asked the dog. “You seem like a beast of good sense.”

Ava turned her head to him, and cocked it to the right.

‘Same as you,’ her expression seemed to say. ‘No choice but to fall in line with her mad commands.’

Richard nodded then stopped himself.

“I am not going to start talking to dumb beasts,” he muttered and crossed himself.

Ava threw herself down on the ground and turned her back to him while Richard ate his breakfast. He offered the last bite to the hound.

“Don’t be offended. I won’t be talking to the mad Frenchman either, and you’re far better company than him.”

XXX

By the time Richard had found his way back to the house, (a few times he had been turned around and run in the property lines, as marked by high wooden slate fences) Rain was nowhere to be seen. However Robespierre was bent over a book, a stoneware cup of…something in front of him. The Frenchman didn’t look as Richard and Ava entered. Richard fumbled with the ‘replicator’ for a few minutes but finally got the blasted device to serve him a simple stew. Although it still wouldn’t give him beer.

He sat across from Robespierre, and stared at the man’s twisted face. He mouth was moving minutely as his eyes moved along the pages. Richard leaned slightly to make out the title, neatly stamped on the front. “The Social Contract.”

“Hmm?” Robespierre looked up, blinking slowly. He looked as if he’d been asleep and was only just awakening. He blinked again and looked around.

Richard gestured with his spoon.

“What is that you’re reading?”

Robespierre stiffened but replied, “The great philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.”

“Someone you knew?” Richard guessed, by the way Robespierre carefully said the man’s name. Maybe some uncle or cousin. Robespierre turned the book over in his hands and looked at the cover, fingers spread over it protectively.

“I knew him, but only by the words he spoke to me, the eternal ideas he passed down through his writings. He and I were of one kin, the same situation, the same-”

Richard, fearing that Robespierre would continue in this thread, put a hand up. “Stop. I believe I understand.”

Robespierre narrowed his eyes at Richard’s hand, and his mouth twisted mulishly. “Hmph. You do, do you?”

“Yes. He’s another usurper, isn’t he?” Richard leaned forward, bracing himself on the table. He pointed empathetically at the book.

The other man stood, chair legs scraping. He flattened the book with his hand, and in shrilly ringing tones began to read. “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave-”

Richard stood up as well.

“My sovereignty was ordained by the Lord! I reigned by his wish, and that of my people!”

“You did nothing for the people, not if you ruled without their consent.” Robespierre rapped the table with his knuckles, punctuating his words.

Richard felt a hot wave of fury wash over him, while guilt curdled in his stomach. He pushed it aside and focused on his anger.

“Nothing for my people? Twenty years of devoted service to my brother, to my country, ensuring their protection and welfare is nothing to you?” He growled. “What did you offer to them? Paltry freedoms, gifts, guardianship?”

Robespierre’s whole face twitched, as if Richard had touched some open wound that hurt him terribly.

“I have never,” he took off his glasses and fixed his gaze on Richard “ever aspired to be the guardianship of society.” He shoved his glasses back on. “All I have wanted was for the good of the people.”

Richard snorted. “No one is ever just in it for the good of the people.”

“Maybe not your kind,” Robespierre snapped.

Richard drew a deep breath, preparing himself to tear into the Frenchman. However he stopped as Rain and Leonardo entered, still talking.

“And that was how the theory of relativity was developed.” Rain stopped and looked at Richard and Robespierre, who were standing there, flushed from their debate and Richard’s cold stew on the table. She grinned and winked.

“Are we interrupting something?”

XXX

Leonardo raised his eyebrows the same time Robespierre flushed. Richard stared at the two of them blankly.

He must have been outside for a long while, the skin of his nose and forehead was burned.

Robespierre snatched the book off of the table and tucked it under his arm.

“Non. I was just leaving.” With that he stalked off, upstairs towards the bedrooms.

Rain rolled her eyes. “Drama queen, amirite?”

Leonardo shrugged, reluctant to get in between the two.

Richard sat back down, looked at his bowl and sighed.

“When can I return to England, Miller?” He asked, voice plaintive. Leonardo found it prudent to busy himself at the replicator.

“Um, never. No one can know you’re here.”

“What?” Leonardo spun around, eyes wide.

Rain looked at him, brown eyes surprised.

“Well of course. You’re supposed to be dead. Dead men can’t just roam the streets of earth.”

“How would they even know? Who remembers us after all this time?” Richard asked in exasperation, throwing a hand up.

Rain smiled. “I didn’t exactly pick low profile people. I would say that most people would know who Leonardo is at least, you’re definitely still remembered in England and Robespierre in France.”

“We can take different names, they don’t need to know it’s us,” Leonardo pointed out. Rain rolled her eyes again.

“It’s not the names. It’s the fact you don’t belong. And everyone will know it too.”

Rain stood up and turned her back to them, before moving her hair off her neck. There, just over the top vertebrate was a small silvery marking of some sort.

“What is that?” Richard asked slowly. “Some mark devilry?”

“No. It’s something that every person, man, woman, alien, child, has on planet earth. They’re called IDentifiers. They’re given to you immediately when you come to earth. If you’re a natural born citizen, it’s when you’re born. If you’re an alien it’s when you’re signed in as a citizen. It’s how the Federation has kept the planet at peace for so long.” She turned.

“Everyone, from the children being born right this moment, to the old people dying has one. It’s hard to cause trouble when the government knows where everyone is all the time. It measures your heartbeat, brainwaves, tracks all your records, credits, job, housing, family, medical records, everything. And the three of you are the only ones on the planet without one. You try and go anywhere without it, and well…” She shrugged. “Let’s just say, you won’t be able to avoid the Federation for very long.”

Leonardo knew he looked pale, and Richard was looking at Rain with true fear in his eyes.

“So we’re trapped? Here? With you?” Richard croaked. Rain huffed, and crossed her arms.

“You make it sound so bad. It’s better than the 16th century right?”

Richard sprang away from his chair and bolted down the hall to the front door. They heard it slam and Rain sighed.

“I never knew they were going to be so much trouble. I should have done Ghandi like Kam said,” she muttered, then turned to Leonardo, who was still reeling. “Can you go collect out wayward revolutionary? I’ll go after our highness, King Richard.” Before Leonardo could speak, she waved her hand in the direction that Robespierre had taken.

He found Robespierre in his room. The door was practically open and the other man didn’t seem to be doing anything, other than absently stroking Pallas so Leonardo gently tapped on the wooden frame of the door.

“Robespierre?”

The door opened the rest of the way, and he entered. Robespierre looked up at him.

“May I help you, citiz- monsieur Leonardo?” He seemed to stumble over the title.

“Please, just Leonardo. May I sit?” He gestured to the bed. Robespierre shrugged.

The two remained silent for a long moment. Leonardo was still processing what Rain had said.

The violation of it chilled his soul. He tried to imagine what someone like Il Moro would have done with a power like that and shuddered. To be constantly tracked, noted, followed.

If the Officers of the Night had that power…

“Are you alright?” Leonardo jumped.

Robespierre was staring at him. “You’ve gone pale and grey.”

Leonardo swallowed hard and closed his eyes. In hushed tones he explained to Robespierre what Rain had told them. When he opened his eyes, Robespierre looked as horrified as Richard had.

“Oh god. What do we do?” he choked out.

Leonardo shrugged.

“For now, go downstairs.”