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 Seventeen: Invasive Operations. Part Two.

Episode Seventeen: Invasive Operations. Part Two.

A/N: This is for Jeremy. You know what you did. Thank you.

 

Richard’s very first introduction to the so called “Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte”, as Magpie Jones introduced him grandly was when the other man looked around Middleham and sniffed dismissively.

“Is this where I’m to be banished?” The man complained, looking over at Aspen Strong. “This drafty English castle?” He waved his hand around the grand entrance.

Richard was gratified to see that he wasn’t the only one who bristled. Jones’s red tinted lips tipped down and he caught Kami and Harmony Susuki grimacing at each other.

Strong rolled her eyes and squeezed his shoulder with her metal hand. “You’ll get used to it. Here, let’s get you something to eat and get caught up.” She glanced around. “Although maybe we should get Doctor Russo to look at you first?”

Jones shook their head. “She left to arrange her sabbatical. We have to make it look natural, she can’t just up and vanish.”

Strong shrugged and continued to drag Bonaparte with her. He did not seem to expect her strength and stumbled over his own feet following along, glancing around at the castle’s tapestries and the small glowing panels that were embedded among the masonry.

These were the panels that Richard had spent the majority of his morning studying. There was at least one is every room and he discovered that when activated they played small scenes, the actors appearing in a beam of light that Richard could pass his hand through, as if they were made of fog. To his understanding they represented what the life of the castle would have been like to live in.

It had shocked him, when Richard activated one of the panels and was confronted with himself. The representation was fairly close, although the clothes were plain and he seemed too old. But the scene was of himself, with Anne. They were in audience with several nobles, their hands lifelessly clasped together as they listened.

Richard played the scene several times, his heart tight as he stared at Anne. Her representation was a poor one, her features plain and wooden, but Richard could look into her eyes and with a little imagination, it was almost as if she was before him again. Before everything had gone so terribly wrong, their son taken from them and her own health plummeting like a dove shot out of the sky.

He’d only been pulled from his musings when Jones found him and pulled him along to meet the Emperor Bonaparte. Richard eyed the young man again, who was being instructed on how to use the food and clothing dispenser by Strong. His countenance seemed noble enough, but his name was not one that Richard was familiar with.

“Where is he from again?” He muttered to Jones.

“He’s Corsican and French by marriage. I suppose you could also count him as Austrian if you tried,” they said.

Richard snorted. “Why didn’t you drag Leonardo down here, then?”

“Oh! We should introduce him, shouldn’t we? Would you get him, please?” Jones asked, eyes wide.

Richard’s refusal was on the very edge of his tongue, pressing up against his teeth before he remembered that he had no authority here. He clenched his jaw together and spun on his heel, towards the stairs.

“Thank you!” Jones called out after him.

XXX

Leonardo took his own good time in answering Richard’s summons.

He was disheveled and was biting back a yawn when he opened the door. He seemed disappointed to see Richard, mouth twitching into a small frown.

“Ah. Richard, how lovely. Good morning,” Leonardo mumbled, leaning against the door frame. “What can I do for you?”

“It’s noon, the day’s half over. Have you been asleep the entire time?” Richard’s voice rose incredulously. Leonardo waved his complaint away, smothering another yawn.

“I was reading all night.”

Richard frowned and mentally marked down sloth onto Leonardo’s list of faults. “There’s a new person downstairs.”

Leonardo regarded him blankly.

“Another one. One like us. He was Emperor of France, apparently.”

Leonardo blinked and straightened up. “Emperor? Well that is something,” he muttered and nodded to Richard. “I’ll be down shortly. What is his name?”

“Bonaparte.”

Leonardo nodded again and whirled away, snapping the door shut in Richard’s face. Relieved of his duty, Richard took the opportunity to return to the chapel. After all, Jones never said he had to return.

XXX

Leonardo was enjoying the future. More than he ever could have guessed. It was as if he had finally found where he was meant to be. Everything about it was fantastic. There was a quote in one of his own biographies “It was as if Leonardo had woken to find the world still dark.”  Leonardo was awake again and found that everything was illuminated to an almost painful degree. 

Leonardo made his way into the heart of the castle and he could hear Aspen speaking to someone. 

“So I still unclear. Are you technically French or Italian? Because you were Emperor of France but your army was Italian?”

Leonardo had just stepped off the final stair as the man answered. “I am Corsican. Neither Italy nor France had a right to claim and oppress my home.”

Aspen’s eyebrows were raised as she listened to him. She was resting her chin on her human hand. As Leonardo drew close she waved at him. 

“Either way I guess you’ll have company here, beside all the barbarous British. Leonardo, come and say hello to Napoleon Bonaparte.”

The man turned in his seat and blinked at Leonardo, thin brows drawing together slightly. Leonardo offered his hand and bowed slightly from the waist. 

“I’m pleased to know you. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the news from Corsica.”

Napoleon nodded, still staring at Leonardo as if he couldn’t place him. “Yes. And you are?” He glanced at Aspen. 

“Leonardo as in da Vinci. He died in France, right?”

Leonardo smiled, thinking back on his borrowed chateau. “Ambroise. It was beautiful.” 

Napoleon’s eyes had widened and he suddenly stood, taking Leonardo hand and shaking it enthusiastically. “You! You painted the Mona Lisa!”

Leonardo smiled. “Si. You admire her?” 

Napoleon’s smile was a wide and toothy thing. “I love her. I put her in my bedroom, in the Tuileries. She is the best of all the portraits I have ever seen. Not even David could capture the like on canvas.”

The praise made Leonardo flush. “Oh. Well, thank you. She’s not finished,” he admitted.

Aspen slapped her hand down on the table. “Perfect! Since the two of you get on, Leonardo can you show Napoleon around the rest of Middleham? You know, get him all caught up? I need to speak to Magpie.”

Leonardo nodded and gestured to the door that led into the courtyard. “Your highness, I’ve been reading up on the history of this castle. I think you’ll be interested to learn about the Nevilles.”

Napoleon’s lip curled back and out of the corner of his eye, Leonardo saw Aspen flinch. 

“I doubt there is, but I would like to take a look at the fortifications. Are there maps, as well? I want to know where exactly on this damned island I am.”

XXX

With Napoleon taken care of Aspen headed back up to the offices where she found Magpie and Harm looking over his program for finding the recently-resurrected. 

“Is Napoleon all settled in?” Magpie asked. Aspen leaned against the desk and watched as Harm did something clever with the coding. 

“Yep. I drafted Leonardo to help. What’s this?” She asked, gesturing to the screens.

“I was thinking it over last night. If we’re trying to figure out how many of these uh,” Harmony looked at Magpie to fill in. 

“Temporarily-displaced,” Magpie said at the same time Aspen shouted “dead people!”

“Zombies,” Harmony nodded at Aspen. “If we’re trying to find zombies and we know they don’t have IDs then instead of combing every millimeter of the planet with the smart recognition program all we should need to do instead is use subtraction right?”

Aspen looked at him blankly. “What? How?”        

“We can always know how many IDs are currently on Earth. There’s a live counter right on the Federation site. Look,” Harm pressed his display and it popped up on the screen. As Aspen watched the counter fluctuate around 11 billion, the last five digits changing faster than she could read them. Harm pressed another button and it froze. 

“Then all we need to do is take the Terran-tracking life sign counter, the one that the Federation uses on a private database.” Another number, this one at 11.4 billion and Harm pressed it. “So then I’ll subtract the two and remove the calculations from the Martian colony.”

“But how does that help us find them?” Magpie pressed. “All we’ll know there’s a discrepancy.” 

Harm smiled and held up a finger. “Ah! I’m glad you asked boss. Now all I have to do is find the life signs that don’t have a corresponding ID…” He swiped his fingers across the board. “So these are the remaining ones. What I’ll do now map out each of these life signs.”

He flicked his fingers up and the holo-globe popped up. As Aspen watched little blips of light started appearing. They then kept appearing, like a little leak that reveals a serious problem in the plumbing. 

“I think you’re calculations must be off,” Aspen said. “There must be-”

“It’s one hundred and forty-seven,” Harm told her. “The flickering ones are accounted to births/deaths.”

“But the others…” Magpie slid their fingers over the globe, spinning it. “Look! There’s these three in Vegas City. And over here in Moscow. And look, here’s where we are! Oh my god.” They looked at Aspen and Harm, eyes wide and horrified. “If there’s really this many…”

“Then what the hell are we going to do?” Aspen finished.

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

A/N: This part contains depictions of force-feeding and suicidal thoughts.

“Why isn’t he eating?” Chikara demanded when she caught sight of the security screen.

Rain shrugged, shuffling the pack of cards she’s replicated. The Bastille was not the most exciting posting she’d ever had and that included the six months she washed petri dishes for chem lab.

“No idea. His mental state has declined steadily since he’s been a prisoner so he might have decided to simply,” she flipped the cards from palm to palm, “give up.”

Chikara’s cheek twitched and Rain raised an eyebrow at her. “Is there a problem, Major?”

“Keep him alive. He’s evidence,” she barked.

Rain shrugged. “Yeah, in the case you’re building against me, no doubt. Why should I try and help you?”

“I can arrange for you to join him.”

“You can. But I think you’ll also need my help in finding the other two. What else?”

Chikara was silent for a long moment, dark eyes inscrutable. “Because you want to,” she finally said.

Rain blinked. These were the first words Chikara Harurka had said to her that she couldn’t outright disagree with.

She set the cards aside and glanced at the viewscreen. “You have me there.”

Chikara nodded. “You may use any means necessary,” was her final declaration before leaving.

Rainbow smiled. Any means huh? Well then once again Robespierre, I apologize.

XXX

“They took me shortly after you were taken to the National Razor. I bore it for you, but they would not let me take your name. I was severed from you, because of you, Maxime. Babet lost her husband because of you. Lucile lost her son, the son you name, because of you.”

Maximilien Robespierre would have given much to drive a needle into his ear, to prevent the soft voice from getting into his head.

Eleonore Duplay was sitting beside him, her white linen dress drenched in blood from the neck down. She looked much like she had the morning Maxime had left for the last time.

“Cornelia, I’m so sorry.” His eyes were dry and aching. He had nothing more for her, not even tears. It didn’t occur to Maximilien that Eleonore never would have wanted them, just as he wouldn’t have wanted hers.

Maximilien had been disturbed from his visions when a hand roughly grabbed his arm and he was jerked to his feet.

“Move!”

Stumbling blind Maxime walked forward. The invisible barrier that had kept him in the room was gone and another pair of arms grabbed him and led him for what felt like hours. His eyes felt as if they had swollen nearly shut, reducing the world to hazy grey blur. Almost immediately his calves cramped into bunches of knotted rope in his legs from kneeling and sitting for so long.

Maximilien could only assume this was when they would finally execute him.

Eventually, harsh hands grabbed his bare shoulders again and maneuvered him into a room. It was blessedly dim. He was shoved into a metal chair, goosebumps promptly breaking out over his skin. His wrists, ankles, and neck were firmly strapped against the chair.

“Hello again Robespierre.”

He gasped. “Rain? Madame Miller? You’re alive?”

She stood over him, her features blurred. “I am. Did you think the Federation was going to kill me? You really are from a very different time,” she said, her voice colored by humor. Maxime heard her take a seat next to him, her voice coming close to his ear.

“I want you to know, I didn’t mean to drag you into this. I wanted change. It won’t matter much to you, but I am sorry, Robespierre.”

He wasn’t able to turn his head at all, but he tried to make sense of her expression. Rain’s face seemed to be obscured by water. “What do you mean?”

In her typically irrelevant tone, “you’ll see what I mean.”

Lights flipped on directly over him and Maxime cringed away from the painfully bright light. There was the sound of metal on metal.

“Open your mouth.”

Dread built in his stomach as he meekly complied. Promptly a metal bit was shoved into his mouth, depressing his tongue and making so he couldn’t shut his jaw. Maxime recoiled and tried to squirm away.

“Restrain him.”

Someone grabbed his head, fingers sinking into the soft skin of his temple. A whimper tried to crawl out of his throat but Maxime ruthlessly beat it back. The would not have his submission. Not here, not when he was being held with no trial or accusation against him.

There was a moment of stillness and the only thing Maximilien could hear was the thunderous sound of his heartbeat. Then there was a smell, like lamp oil only stronger.

“I recommend you take a deep breath in,” Miller said. Maxime had no time to contemplate this advice before there was something rubber at his lips, in his mouth, at the back of his tongue and snaking all the way down his throat. There was the heavy taste of iron, the tube had scraped his tongue and he was bleeding

He gagged and tried to scream but found he couldn’t make any noise at all. He tried to shake his head loose but the talon-like fingers just held him tighter. Down, down, down. Maxime could feel the pressure of the tube behind his lungs and all the way into his stomach. He was shaking when they finally stopped feeding it into him.

Tears that Maxime hadn’t been able to shed for Eleonore now trailed down his face, scalding hot. The part of the tube still out of him was lifted over his head, so it was fed directly into him. After another painful moment of silence, he felt something being poured into the tubing, the cold liquid hitting his stomach directly and he gagged again. His toes curled against the metal floor. He gripped the arms of the chair, feeling his nails break under the pressure.

“It’s very emotive,” someone said softly. “Is it the pressure that’s evoking the saline?”

“You got it in one, Jerkins,” Miller said absently.

“Why wasn’t it taking fuel? Some defect for a prototype to have.”

“Classified,” Miller muttered. “Just shut up and keep him still.”

Maximilien was enveloped in a fog of horror. Time slipped away from him and he was horribly unprepared when the tub was roughly yanked back out. He tried to scream but the best his abused throat could do was a croak. He was made to stand and promptly crumpled to the floor. Someone grabbed him under the arms and they dragged him back to the cell.

As he laid on the floor, shivering, Maxime finally realized the totality of his imprisonment. He was not even going to be allowed to die. There was truly no escape.