Season Two. Episode Sixteen: The Emperor. Part Two.

Season Two. Episode Sixteen: The Emperor. Part Two.

A/N: *Comes back almost 1 year later.* I told I wasn’t done yet! To everyone who has been patiently waiting on me to update again, thank you. Special shout out to whoever is doing a regular check in China. I really appreciate it. Hopefully, I will get back up to doing weekly updates.

Rain stretched her back and looked over at Marie Rivera, still standing at parade rest as she watched Rain.

“Can you go get me a coffee? His heart rate has dipped so it’s not as if we can do much right now,” Rain said, kicking her legs up onto the console, smiling as Rivera scowled.

“You don’t understand how orders work, do you?” Rivera said. Rain smiled ever wider.

“I do, I just don’t care. You’re Chikara’s second, she clearly trusts you not to fuck this up. So just go get me the coffee,” she insisted. Rivera stared at her for a long moment before finally sneering and turning to the door.

“Two sugars, two creams,” she called at her jailer’s back before the door locked.

Rain waited for just a moment before turning back to the console and switched her feed from Robespierre’s pathetic figure to the piggy-backing counter she’d applied to her program. It kept an inventory of how many IP addresses had downloaded it.

Right now it was over 500. Rain smiled: if even half of those managed successful resurrections it wouldn’t take very long until the Federation realized something was amiss in their picture-perfect surveillance society.

Chikara Haruka wanted to bury the past, did she?

Well if there was one thing that Rain could remember from her school days it was that history always had a funny way of coming back for people who didn’t respect it.

XXX

Richard grit his teeth and recited Hail Mary under his breath. He yelped again when a sharp pain applied to his shoulder.

“Will you stop that?” He snapped at Russo who merely stared at him, unimpressed.

“No. Since you can’t tell me what Rain inoculated you again you and Leonardo get to have all of them done. Frankly, it’s a minor miracle that neither of you caught anything yet.” She muttered under her breath as she turned away, “Or that we haven’t caught anything from you.”

Richard glared at her turned back.

“Courage, Richard,” Leonardo said lightly, leaning against the wall. “It could be Rain doing all of this to us.”

This didn’t comfort him as Leonardo probably thought it would. Richard also sourly noted that Leonardo hadn’t volunteered to go first either.

“This is the last one. Then we just need to do a quick scan and I can work on getting you a spine,” Russo said and poked him again. Richard gritted his teeth and endured.

Leonardo watched in interest as she slowly waved a long metal pole over him, staring down at a display. He slowly crept over, craning his neck to see it better. She noticed and her lips quirked up into a small smile.

“Here, you hold this and tell me what you see,” she said and thrust it to the Italian. Richard scowled slightly. Why did everyone seem to innately trust the Leonardo? There was nothing to suggest that he was a priest or another especially educated individual. His artwork seemed to be the largest motivator for admiration but there were thousands of artisans.

Leonardo fumbled it for a moment before steading and staring at it intently. He quirked his head to the side.

“It appears that his spine has curved out of shape. The bones have changed, becoming angled. But not all of them. The ones above his hips and neck are still straight,” he glanced at Russo, who nodded. “You said you could replace the damaged ones, si?”

She nodded and looked at Richard. “Not all of the bones need to be replaced. But what this means is we will need to identify and measure the ones that do need to be. Since you’re past maturity we will actually also need to calculate how long to make each one, since we can’t add any more to your height.”

Richard nodded, lost. Hesitantly he decided to ask, “How will you remove the bones?”

Russo frowned slightly. “Well, typically we would do it in an operating lab where we could simply put you out and then swap each vertebra, using microsurgery. Then we would keep you under for a few hours to watch for complications. After that, you’d be looking at about six weeks to two months of PT.”

“PT?” Leonardo asked.

“Physical therapy. Helping the muscles to heal and the spine readjust to its new shape. It wouldn’t be totally painless but it would require the least amount of trauma possible.” She sighed. “Since we’re limited to staying here however it’s slightly more complicated. I’ll have to work on finding a way to bring in medical transporters, laser scalpels, the bone printers and training someone to assist in the operation.”

“What does that mean?” Richard asked.

Russo looked him over. “It means I’m going to have to resurrect some old techniques. It’ll take some time,” she said, sounding apologetic.

“I’ve been this way for over a thousand years. What’s a few more days?” Richard asked dryly. He saw Russo quirk a smile in his direction.

“That’s the spirit,” she told him.

XXX

Leonardo rubbed his shoulder, slightly sore from the multitude of injections. The needles were narrower than a grain of sand but the force that they were plunged into his skin left a bruise none the less.

“I guess the dead just have thinner skin,” Aspen said with a grin.

The night was now falling over the castle and Aspen had left for the night after taking Russo back to Italy, with promises to return after she had sorted out her affairs and found some way to transport supplies.

Magpie was staying but both Kami and Harmony had both left as well.

“No offense but this place isn’t exactly the picture of modern comfort,” Harm confided in Leonardo. “Magpie is great but Kami and I have a life outside of this,” he waved a hand around at the castle. “We’ll be back tomorrow.”

Now Middleham was dark and quiet. Leonardo was sitting up, teaching himself about basic medical operations. He was surprised at the amount of disinfecting that seemed to take place. He never thought that so much of what caused complications in injuries had to do with infections.

Leonardo blinked and looked up as a breath of cold air stole over his face.

“Hi. I knocked but there was no reply.” Jerome was standing in the doorway, hand on the door. “I’m checking in on everybody.”

“Everybody?” Leonardo asked, leaning back in his chair, stretching slightly.

“You, Richard and Mags. They’re not looking to leave anytime soon,” Jerome said with a twist to his lips. He gestured. “Can I come in?”

Leonardo smiled. “Please. I was just finishing some texts that Doctor Russo gave me. She thinks I have the makings to become her medical assistant for Richard’s surgery.”

Jerome sat back on the bed, resting against the wall. “Yeah? That doesn’t surprise me. From everything I’ve ever heard you’re a pretty smart guy.”

Leonardo laughed aloud. “I’m flattered that people think so highly of me. I hope I don’t disappoint.”

Jerome tilted his head and slowly drew his eyes over Leonardo, before meeting his gaze boldly. “You’re looking pretty good from where I’m sitting.”

In all his life Leonardo had never been so blatantly propositioned. He couldn’t imagine having anyone stare at him the way Jerome was currently as if Leonardo was an especially well-prepared meal. He flushed and Jerome’s expression grew even more smug and satisfied. He patted the place next to him.

“Come here. You don’t have to sit so far away.”

When Leonardo was fifteen he had modeled for Verrocchio’s David. He’d borrowed armor from a soldier and wielded a sword left-handed. While Andrea had worked the other students had used Leonardo for practice. It was here, long after the workshop had closed and the other apprentices had gone to bed that Leonardo first laid with another man.

“Come, Leonardo,” Angelo said drawing him close, breath smelling of watered wine and his already calloused hands eclipsing Leonardo’s. He was still taller than Leonardo then. “Show me what talents you already you possess with that sword.” They went down on the floor of the studio, hands on skin and hair tangling as Angelo hovered over Leonardo.

The excitement, tinged with the despair of shame and danger if pursued rushed back over Leonardo as he stared at Jerome, slowly rising from his desk. It wasn’t more than two steps to the bed but Jerome pulled him in, hand on his wrist so Leonardo instead landed on his lap.

“There’s room here too,” he whispered and kissed him.

Jerome, in Leonardo’s estimation, was a lovely kisser. He knew the rhythm and steps of the old dance. He wasn’t interested in simply staying confined to Leonardo’s mouth, often trailing off to nip playfully at his neck or gently kiss his cheeks.

“You’ve some talent for this,” Leonardo murmured.

Jerome pulled back. “I practice,” he returned with a grin.

That were the last words spoken between them for some time.

XXX

Aspen yawned as she entered Middleham. The main hall was already occupied with Magpie, who looked annoyingly cheerful for seven in the morning and Russo who looked as tired and grumpy as Aspen felt.

“Good morning! We’re waiting on Kami, Harm, and Jerome to start debriefing,” Magpie said, brushing a sliver bang back from their face. “Can you check if he’s on his way down?”

Aspen nodded, already headed to the back staircase, more interested in the coffee upstairs than where Jerome was. However, she found Jerome before she was even anywhere close to the staff facilities.

He was stepping out of Leonardo’s room.

Aspen gaped openly as he gently shut the door and then started tiptoeing to the staff area. She followed behind and apparently Jerome was distracted enough that he didn’t notice until he was at the replicator.

Jerome turned and jumped narrowly avoiding slashing hot coffee all over them both.

“Dear god Aspen, what the hell are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?” he demanded. She ignored him instead scrutinizing him carefully, looking for the evidence of getting up close and personal with a formally dead Italian.

“Did you sleep with Leonardo last night?” She asked finally.

Jerome smirked. “A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell,” he said.

Aspen slugged him in the arm. “You’re not a gentleman, you’re a slut. I can’t believe you!”

Jerome opened his eyes wide and adopted a look of contrition. “What do you mean?”

Aspen shook her head and pushed past him to help herself to the replicator. “If Mags catches you, they’ll lose it. You can’t go sleeping around with all these dead people, Jerome.”

“Um he came on to me. Also, why not? We’re trying to introduce them to the year three-thousand. I just gave him a warm welcome.” Jerome winked.

Aspen rolled her eyes.

XXX

Magpie had retreated to their office when Aspen returned to the main floor. She came across Harmony and Kami coming in.

“Harm had an idea for tracking potential ressurections last night. He’s going to experiment this morning,” Kami explained when her husband promptly bolted for his office, taking the stairs two at a time.

Aspen nodded. “I’ll let Magpie know. Have you seen Russo yet?” Kami shook her head. “That’s fine, she said it didn’t know how long it would take for her to sneak away.” She continued onto Magpie’s office.

“How’s it going boss?” She asked, sitting down across from Magpie.

They looked up and said gravely, “I think you should go today.”

Aspen blanked for a moment before realizing what Magpie was referring to. “You want me to go get Napoleon today? What’s the rush?”

Magpie turned on the desk display. “I was up all last night, trying to dig up what I could on why he might have been resurrected. I came across an anonymous source that leaked this document that was sent to the Corsican government.”

He once declared that France must choose. Now so do you. We have him and he can be yours for one billion credits. What is your history worth to you? You have 48 hours. After that, he will be destroyed.

Aspen glanced up at Magpie. “You think this refers to him?”

Magpie nodded. “According to the leak, a lock of hair was included, presumably to authenticate him.”

“Forty-eight hours. The exchange would be today,” Aspen said. A cold ball of dread had gathered in her stomach.

“Yes.”

“You want me to go steal him out from under the Corsican government, knowing that if Haruka catches me I’m dead?”

“Yes.”

Aspen sighed. Here she was, thinking that working security on an old castle tourist-trap would be easy. She was indeed a fool. “I’m finishing my coffee first. Also, Harm apparently figured out a faster way to find the resurrections. He’s working on it now.”

Magpie brightened. “Really? How?” Aspen shrugged.

“Kami didn’t say, but he’s working on it now. I’m sure you could send Leonardo to spy on him, they seem to get on well enough.”

Not as well as he and Jerome get on, her mind snickered. Aspen fought to keep from smirking.

Magpie nodded, looking thoughtful. “He seems to be adjusting the best.” They snorted. “Well of course. He’s the one who was always ahead of his time.”

“What about Richard?” Aspen asked. She remembered the gloomy look on his face from yesterday.

Magpie shot her a helpless look. “I don’t know what to do for him yet. I think Russo will help but,” they shrugged. “Who knows?”

Aspen nodded and sighed. What have we gotten ourselves into?      

Season Two. Episode Sixteen: The Emperor. Part One.

Episode Sixteen: The Emperor. Part One.

Aspen set the flyer down inside the underground lot and flipped off the engines. She turned around to look at Russo, who was fiddling with the straps of her belt.

“Well then, let’s go and meet everyone, shall we?”

Russo nodded mutely.

Aspen led the way into the castle and pushed her way past the double doors.

Magpie was sitting at the grand table, fingers drumming on the table and looking over a spread of tablets. They looked up at Aspen’s arrival and shot to their feet when they saw Russo.

“Aspen, and Doctor Russo, I presume?”

They started forward with a huge grin on their face.

Russo shook hands, looking surprised. “I don’t think we’ve ever met before.”

“We haven’t but I’m delighted you are here anyway. You can just call me Magpie.”

Russo nodded then gestured to Aspen. “I was told that you had a most,” she hesitated, “interesting project that you wanted my assistance on.”

Magpie nodded. “Yes, I do. How much has Aspen told you?”

“That you have a dead man living in the castle,” Russo said flatly. Magpie shot Aspen a raised eyebrow. She shrugged her shoulders.

“That’s a partial truth. You see, we actually have two dead men living in our castle.”

XXX

Leonardo was woken from a light doze by a knock on the door.

“Hey, Leonardo? Are you awake?”

He blinked and shook his head, coming awake near instantly. He rolled off the bed and crossed to open the door. Aspen was standing there. Her brown eyes flickered over Leonardo’s shoulder and she leaned to the right slightly, peering into his room.

“Something I can help you with?” He asked eyebrow raised.

She grinned at him, shameless. “Funny, I thought Jerome might be here.”

Leonardo fought the urge to flush. “Non, he went home.”

“Hmmm, really? I knew he wasn’t a gentleman.” Aspen smirked.

Leonardo put up a single finger, hushing her. “He has been nothing but proper. Now was there a real reason for you to wake me or are you just here to tease me?”

She shook her multitude of braids back from her face, sobering. “Yes actually. We have someone we want you and Richard to meet. Magpie is waking his highness now, so come on,” she waved him on with her mechanical hand.

Leonardo darted back to grab his notebook and the new lead pencil that Jerome had brought him and followed Aspen’s broad frame down.

There was a striking black-skinned woman with long hair who was sitting at the table with her hands clasped tightly around a cup. She looked up as Leonardo and Aspen came down. She glanced over at Aspen.

“Who is this?”

Leonardo bowed at the bottom of the stairs. “I am Leonardo ser Piedro da Vinci, signora.”

He heard her gasp and looked up, smiling slightly.

Her brown eyes were wide and her mouth gaped open slightly. Leonardo noticed the way her eyelids fluttered as she glanced over his face as if trying to see if he was recognizable. Leonardo doubted it, the only (official) portrait he’d ever done of himself was considerably different than how he looked now.

“Leonardo da Vinci?” She asked faintly, as he walked forward. “Like, the Gian Giaconda, Leonardo?”

He nodded and she took a deep breath and braced her hand on the table. Before she could ask anything else Magpie arrived with grumpy looking Richard in tow.

“Here he is! This is his highness Richard the Third, King of England,” Magpie announced grandly. Richard glanced at the woman then back to Magpie.

“Who is this woman?” He asked. Leonardo winced, seeing her expression darken slightly. Magpie also flinched and Aspen buried her face into her human hand.

“I’m doctor Primavera Russo. Jones invited me here to see if I can help you,” the doctor said and held out her hand, pointedly remaining seated. Leonardo raised his eyebrows. He’d been in the presence of many men who would have had her promptly beaten for such a flagrant display of disrespect to royalty.

Richard’s expression went wooden and he stiffly shook her hand, before turning to Magpie.

“I told you, I am not having anything more done to my body. Your doctors have already done enough to me.”

Magpie looked hurt for just a moment, their goldish-brown eyes dimming and casting to the floor.

Russo bristled. “Look, I came here of my own volition. Furthermore, it’s for your own good,” she sniffed.

Richard whipped around and Leonardo took a step back while Aspen stepped forward.

“For my own good?! How dare-” Richard growled.

The doctor stood up and Leonardo realized that she’d been disguising her height. She was as tall as Leonardo was and seemed to tower over Richard. To his credit, the ex-king did not shrink away.

“Yes, I dare. Jones is trying to do something nice for you, and if it’s true that you come from the 16th century, it’s something that you can’t even imagine. But if you’re going to be an ass about it, I can just as well leave,” the doctor snapped in his face. Leonardo looked over at Aspen who had her eyebrows raised.

Magpie stepped between the two and with a little effort forced them apart.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot here,” they muttered, before turning to Richard with a sigh.

“Richard, please. I want to help you, and so does Doctor Russo.”

Russo scoffed and tossed her head.

Magpie turned to the doctor. “Also, about you leaving…”

Russo raised an eyebrow. “What about it?”

Aspen stepped forward. “Well the Federation or, I guess Haruka, is not pleased with these guys. She already sent Rivera after them once. And I’m not sure how long it’ll take her to realize where we’re hiding them.”

Russo frowned. “But this is why you needed someone to come here? And that’s how you found me?”

Aspen shrugged. “Basically. So now that you know, we’re gonna need you to take, like a vow of silence or something.”

The doctor’s frown intensified. “You didn’t tell me this earlier,” she growled. “I’m not wild about the idea of Haruka arresting me and sending me to do farm labor.”

Aspen shrugged again. “We needed to get you here.”

Russo growled again but was interrupted by Richard. “She should leave. I have already informed Magpie I do not wish anything more done to my body.” He turned his back to the doctor. “I will be in the chapel.”

Magpie sent a slightly panicked look at Aspen and then at Russo.

The doctor stormed forward, her curls bouncing. “Hey! I’m here to help, and from the look of it, I could completely straighten your back! But I guess if you don’t care about your quality of life…” She trailed off.

Richard had stopped.

“That’s impossible,” he said rigidly. “There’s nothing that can be done.”

Russo stepped forward again. “Actually, yes there is. It should have been done when you were a child, but it’s not too late.”

Richard finally turned, looking wary. “How?”

Doctor Russo tilted her head slightly. “Well, I’d probably have to make you a prosthetic and replace the one you have now. It’s been done before. The only issue would be making you one when you can’t leave this castle.”

Richard moved back towards her. “Replace it? How?”

“It’s a little complicated. It’d be easier to show you if this place is wired for database access.” She looked at Magpie who was beaming.

“Yes. Yes, absolutely!”

Richard looked between them. “Are you sincere? My back could be as it once was?”

Russo nodded. “Yes. I can do it.” She glanced at Magpie with a raised eyebrow. “I won’t be able to fix his attitude though.”

XXX

On the moon prison, The Bastille.

Maximilien kept waking up, even though he never seemed to fall asleep. The light had burned into his eyes and a thin grey mist was beginning to obscure his vision. It felt like a hot needle being shoved into the base of his skull every time he opened his eyes.

Max had never been a strong man, his childhood had been punctuated by illness that left him thin and pale. During the Revolution, he would work himself up to the brink and then find himself dangling over a long dark fall. Now imprisoned, he could feel his meager strength leeching away. While the bread and water were sustaining him, Maxime had no idea for how long until he would drift into that hazy space of illness.

Maybe I’m already there, he thought as he opened his eyes and saw a figure standing against the wall.

“Well this is certainly a fine mess,” Georges Danton said. “For someone who insists that he is irreproachable in terms of respectability and virtue you certainly find yourself on the wrong side of the law, eh Robespierre?”

Maxime closed his eyes, heart racing erratically. Danton could no more be there than Camille could and he couldn’t bear the sight of his bloodied lips any more than he could his last vision.

“Come mon ami. I thought you said you would love me till death, now you won’t even meet my eyes,” Danton goaded him and Max looked up flushing.

“I do, I did,” he hissed. “I wasn’t the one who-“

Danton walked closer and Max swallowed his arguments.

He’s not real, he’s not real, he’s not real. He can’t harm you any more than the air can.

“Who what, Maxime? I implore you, finish your accusation. At least time you do it to my face,” Danton’s voice had no trouble filling the room.

Heart still racing Maxime found his feet and suddenly-

He was back in his rooms. The window was open to the Duplay’s courtyard. The bedroom door shut but unlocked. Danton seated at his desk as Max paced.

“You’ve been corrupted,” Max said, resisting the urge to shout. “You took bribes.” It felt like a slap to the face. Camille had vouched for his honor. Maxime told Danton as such and to his fury, the big man merely shrugged.

Maxime gasped and staggered to the side, furious. Danton was still standing in front of him and with a cry of anger and grief, Max rushed towards him.

He slammed into the white wall and fell back, the taste of metallic-salt filling his mouth. As his eyes fogged over he rolled onto his side and spit the blood out of his mouth. Max shuddered remembering his teeth being shattered in his mouth after he was shot.

Maxime curled into a ball into one of the corners of the room, his hands clasped over his ears, nails digging into the flesh of his bare scalp. He couldn’t tell if it was his imagination or the past rising from its grave to haunt him but he could dimly hear the screams and shouts of the sans-culottes, the slish-thunk of the national razor, the shouts of the Convention. He desperately wanted to sleep and leave this nightmare but it refused to come to him.

Maximilien couldn’t imagine being anymore miserable than he was and thought longingly of Rain’s house. Even Richard’s company would be welcome at this point.

Cutting through the mist of blood-red noise, there was the increasingly familiar sound of displaced air. Maxime turned over and looked at the center of the room.

There was a small loaf of bread and a pitcher of water.