Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part Three.
Maximillien didn’t know how long he’d been alone when suddenly there was a small sound like displaced air and the unmistakable smell of bread hit him. He looked up from where he’d pressed his face into his knees, mumbling Rousseau’s Emille.
There was a brown lump sitting in the middle of the floor and next to it, a glass of some sort. Max scrambled to it as fast as his prone form would allow. His stomach been long empty and he’d been feeling lightheaded. Next to it was water, and he licked his dry lips.
He stared down at the bread and wondered if he was intended to eat it with his hands still bound when a voice spoke from on high.
“If you promise to comply, we will release your restraints.”
Two passions warred passionately in his mind for a moment. The base, animal desire for food, nutrition, a full stomach against his righteous indignation against his unjust imprisonment and not wanting anything to be easy for his captors.
Eventually, as if just to spite him, his stomach growled loud enough to echo in the plain white room and Max sneered.
“I will comply. Please, unbind your wretch.”
There was the sound of displaced air again and suddenly his hands were free.
Max had never tasted anything better than that bread. Nothing had been sweeter than the pure water than ran over his lips and tongue. He tried to pace himself, knowing that he could easily make himself sick if he went too fast but every bite seemed to simply make him hungrier.
“What’s your game, Miller?” Chikara asked, frowning. Her arms were stiff behind her as she watched the naked form stuff his mouth with bread. Next to her Miller sighed.
“We’re developing a base line, and a little bit of insurance. He needs to think that we’re trustworthy before we mess with his head.”
“Please.” Chikara looked at Miller blankly. “You’re supposed to ask politely when you want something Major. You say, ‘please explain’.”
Chikara took out her laser pistol. “You will explain now, on the orders of the Terren Federation or suffer the consequences.”
Miller looked at her and then at the weapon in her hand. “Did you threaten your way to the top Chikara? Haven’t you ever played nice with anyone?”
“That is not information you need to know, now tell me what I need to know.”
Miller pushed the barrel away from her distastefully. “Fine. Look at this.”
She pulled up an information file, a civilian accessible one. There was nothing really special about it. It was about some sort of plant.
“What does it do?” Chikara finally had to ask.
“In essence, it’ll cause him to have visual and audio hallucinations. Fairly intense ones if anything I’ve read is correct. In addition it can also cause headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, so on and so forth. Point is, it’s not a good time.”
“You’re just going to make him ill? What’s the point?”
“Did you just ignore the first part of my description?” Miller asked impatiently. “The object is to get him to have hallucinations. If you’ve read his biography, it seems to me Robespierre is a gentleman with a lot of regrets. So if I were to play something like,” here Miller pressed a button and the sound of a hound barking filled the room. “This, he’ll probably think there are literal hellhounds after him, to punish him.”
“He’s so superstitious?” Chikara sneered. Miller shook her head.
“No. But our emotions do funny things when we’re stressed.” She turned from Chikara. “Trust me, this will work.”
Clio was startled.
This was unusual, because part of the very MO of being a Muse was to understand what what going on, wherever you were, but here she was: startled.
“What nowI?” she asked and crossed her arms.
Rain was bent over her computer terminal, giggling like a small child. She was on some sort of file sharing site, something buried layers deep, hosted on some ancient server and deliberately esoteric.
“You’re a regular witch, you know that?” She asked Rain’s head. “Simply terrible.”
“Oh I don’t know, I like her. She could be a great Trickster if she wasn’t so self-absorbed,” the Hyena sounded tired.
“So was Endor, but no one even remembers her now days,” Clio sniped back. She leant over rain’s shoulder. “She’s trying to pass on her wisdom.”
“Good for her.”
“Bad for everyone else,” Clio paused. “They’re humans. They’ll try it. They’ll succeed. Rain’s holding their hand through it. Whoever they bring back next…”
“Is not my problem. This is all your show, sister.”
Clio rolled her eye, ignoring the sting of being called sister. “Thanks for your support. Go help your human.”
“He’s out of my hands now,” Spectra said quietly. Clio gasped.
“It’s all up the Unknown now.” She grinned suddenly. “Perhaps Frank’s death will buy his life.”
The Hyena was gone before Clio could wince at the crassness.
Aspen was woken from a dead sleep by an alarm blaring. She went from unconscious to on fire in a half second.
“Turn to any news channel!” Jermone barked as soon as he flipped the feed on. Aspen switched over to the music feed she’d been watching before she passed out after she got home last night.
“This morning, November the 25th, in Paris, there was a concentrated droid attack on the Hôtel des Invalides. The attack damaged the east wall and the tomb of Napoleon the First. The Emperor’s tome was cracked, but appears to be intact. Thus far no Alien governments have come forward with any suspicious figures. Major Haruka has yet to release a statement.” The broadcast repeated while Aspen stared in stunned amazement.
“Napoleon?” She said.
“Magpie wants you here on the double. They’re convinced this is no coincident,” Jerome warned. Aspen pulled off her over large sleep shirt, the one with Blanche on it, and started untangling her braids.
“Has Harm seen anything?” Her voice was muffled, as she pulled on the layers of her uniform. Undershirt, long sleeve, lightweight armor, dark blue uniform jacket with the white detailing around the shoulders.
“He and Kami are on their way right now. They have a have other problems to worry about then just our domestic troubles.”
Aspen did up her trousers and buckled the belt. “Switch over to the headset,” she ordered the computer, slipping on the c shaped bit of silicone over her ear and tapping her temple. A miniature portrait of Jerome appeared in the right hand corner of her vision.
“How are the guys?” She asked, jogging down the stairs and getting into her personal transport, prepared to gun it from Alexandria to York.
“Asleep. Or at least I think so. Leonardo stayed up speaking to me, but Richard disappeared by midnight.”
“Spirits Jerome, he’s been alive for less than a year, quit hitting on him.”
He grinned. “What makes you think it’s me?” The banter relaxed them both and Aspen took a deep breath, focusing.
“Cause it’s always you.”
Rain smiled to herself, sipping her tea and nibbling on a scone.
It hadn’t been very hard to find a taker for the information she was selling. A little nudge and all of Chikara’s plans unraveled. She could lock Rain up all she wanted, but she could never put the knowledge that Rain had passed down once it was out of the box.
Even now it was making the rounds on the deep web. Posing as an alien, she’d sold the information, the process, the evidence. Requests trickled, rained and poured in. it had been taken from the hosting website within hours and re-posted and re-uploaded. Chikara would be hard pressed to find the original, and even now it wasn’t as if she contain it, there wasn’t enough code blockers in world.
God bless the internet and it’s virus like tendencies.
Rain watched and crews cleared away the rubble the wall, and carefully examined the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte for damages.
All it takes is a single strand of intact DNA. Crack open that tome and you’ll have the raw data for an entire army of Bonapartes.
Now there was an idea to make the Federation tremble, an entire army of un-ID’d egomaniac white men. Rain could hardly stop herself from laughing.
The door opened behind her and Rain turned her chair around to see Chikara Haruka standing there, the bright white light of the Bastille framing her. Marie Rivera stood behind her, an unmovable behemoth of carefully groomed muscle, waiting to snap Rain’s neck.
“I’ve been watching the news. Seems like you have quite a situation, down there.”
Chikara took slow measured steps to her. Rain couldn’t stop smiling, even as her fingers and toes tingled.
“What are you gonna do about, Major?”
Chikara was standing next to her now, eyes fixed on the news feed. The camera focused on the crack of the tome. Dust was spilling out of it.
“You can keep me up here and place an embargo on all of the Komali data, but,” Rain laughed, “You can’t stop it now, the fox is in the henhouse.”
Chikara stared at her, her dark eyes unfathomable. “Is that what you think, Doctor Miller? You think the entire weight of the Federation, an entire united people can not find one pre-electronic savage? You think I don’t have the power to make sure that whatever you’ve done can be undone?”
She leaned down, bracing her hands on Rain’s seat. “You have no idea what wars I fought to ensure the unity of the Federation. This is one battle, and it will be over quickly. You’re ideas have failed and when I track the dissenters who wrought this, they will be the first to test your theories on breaking a man’s mind.”
Chikara stepped back. “Marie, you’re going to be Doctor Miller’s personal guard from this moment. She does not take breath without my grace.” She did a sharp about face and Marie saluted, her hand over her heart.
“I have to go clean up her mess now.”