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.


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.”


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.”


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.


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 Twelve: Fraternité. Part Two.

Part Two.

Aspen led them to another warehouse through the most convoluted means Leonardo had ever experienced. When he asked her why, she pointed to the corner of a building opposite them.

“See that? The black thing? It’s a camera. Its recording images of us and sending them to Federation surveillance. It’s actually how we found you guys. And probably how Chikara Haruka found you too. If the cameras catch us, they’re going to figure out who rescued you, and then it’s all over.”

She crouched low and moved quickly around the corners of the exterior of the warehouse. Leonardo and Richard followed.

For Leonardo, he kept replaying the instance of Robespierre’s capture in his head. How the Frenchman’s eyes had widen in terror, his fingers wrapped desperately around Leonardo’s wrist, as the soldiers tore them apart. He kept looking over his shoulder expecting the floating vehicle to appear to spirit them away as well.

Exhaustion was beginning to set in and he was relieved when Aspen finally opened the door to a warehouse. “Okay, this is it.”

They entered and Leonardo stared around at the dusty boxes, illuminated by the bright sunlight beaming down through the glass windows.

In the middle of the expensive and mostly barren room was a sleek looking machine, in a dull grey. It sat on three struts and arched like the shape of a predatory bird on a upward flap. Aspen walked to the back of it. They followed her, and she opened a ramp up into the machine.

“Okay, get in.”

Richard frowned but went forward, stepping on the metal ramp gingerly, as if not confident in its structural integrity. Leonardo followed him in then turned to see Aspen punch a button on the screen next to it, raising the ramp back up to close it.

She pushed by them to sit at the front of the machine. Leonardo watched as she tapped the flat panel and around them the machine came to life.

Aspen turned around and raised her eyebrows. “You’re gonna want to sit down,” she told them smiling slightly. Richard did so, gripping the edge of his seat as an added precaution.

Leonardo supposed he still remembered the adventure with Rain’s ‘carriage’.

Aspen typed commands quickly, and above them the ceiling of the building opened up. Leonardo guessed what was going to happen next and sat down, leaning over so he could watch out the large window in front of Aspen.

He felt the vibrations through the machine and the moment the unseen engine kicked in to lift it off the ground. Richard leaned back, with his eyes shut.

Despite the desperate situation Leonardo couldn’t help but feel a smile come over his face. He’d dreamt of flight for so long, and here, it was achieved by humans so easily.

They lifted up and out of the building, into the bright sunlight. He watched as Aspen effortlessly steered the flying machine by sliding her fingers over the glass panel. It tilted upwards and sped up, the clouds misting past.

“Where are we going?” Richard grit out, fingers curled into the bench.

“Um, the north of England. To a castle called Middleham,” Aspen said absently. Richard’s eyes flew open and he whipped his head around to stare at the woman.

“Middleham? It still stands? What of York?” He demanded.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s not the original, it’s basically all been rebuilt, but yeah it’s still there. Magpie the person in charge of it, they’ve been working to restore all of these old historical places.” She looked over her shoulder. “I’ll be able to explain more once the experts are here with us.” She laughed slightly. “I’ll be honest, I was never really into history in school…”

Leonardo suddenly chuckled, rubbing a hand into his eyes. The true absurdity of the situation was getting to him. “Va bene. Me either!”

Aspen grinned at him. “We should be there in in about 90 minutes. Maybe you should try sleeping?” She offered.

Leonardo wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to, his mind racing, and having lost his sketchbook in the scuffle with the soldiers.

Richard, however, swung his legs up onto the bench and draped an arm over his eyes.

“Wake me when we get to Middleham,” he ordered, and then fell silent.

Leonardo fell quiet too, but as he stared down at his hands, he wondered about where Robespierre was, if he was even still alive.


Clio adjusted her toga and ran a hand through her curly hair.

“You’re a right pain, do you know that? Now I have to follow two different lines of narrative,” she told the prostate figure, sitting where he’d been thrown on the floor of the government containment vehicle. He seemed to be in shock, his arms curled protectively around himself and shuddering every so often.

She huffed but kneeled down next to him. His glasses had been cracked, but it hardly mattered, she doubted that he would have been able to see anything anyway.

Clio sat next to him in silence for a while, observing the human.

She’d been born a muse, unlike many of her colleagues, and had always felt drawn to the invisible tide that connected stories. She felt that this one, the semi obscured figure in front of her, was going to be a keystone.

She couldn’t sit in the dark with him for long, Richard and Leonardo would reach York before Robespierre was, but she figured that even her presence might ease the tension in his soul.


For a long time Max was aware of nothing further than the darkness of the vehicle he found himself in. There were slight vibrations under his feet but further than that he couldn’t sense anything out side of the doors. He felt his way around the space but couldn’t find any handles on any of the walls, at last concluding that there weren’t any on the inside.

Finally Maxime sat down in one of the corners to wait. His fingers drummed on the metal surface and he chewed his bottom lip. His eyes ached to see anything in the darkness but it seemed to go on forever. He had the terrible feeling if he fell into it, it would consume him.

Closing his eyes brought little comfort, still aware of how cold and still the space seemed.

He laid down on his side and brought his knees to his chest for warmth. He wondered if Leonardo and Richard had gotten away or if they had been captured as well.

Exhaustion seemed to sink into his bones, and despite the cold and metal bruising him Max slowly feel into a fitful sleep.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Twelve: Fraternité. Part One.

Part One

“What do we do now?” Robespierre asked when they found themselves back on the street. Richard thought furiously. They had no allies, and no resources. They could return to Rain and see if they could lay low until the aliens left, but it seemed unlikely. Richard sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Leonardo? Opinions?”

The Italian shrugged. “I see very few. We have tried Paris, and now Egypt. Florence is gone. London seems to be the remaining choice.”

Richard scowled. “We should go to the North.” There was chance he might still be remembered fondly in York.

They started walking towards the industrialized area that Richard had seen as Kamala guided them to her house. Much to Richard’s disappointment, there seemed to be a large fence barricading the way in.

“We should head back to the transporters then, oui?” Robespierre asked. His nasal voice sounded quietly dejected.

“Si, we can go around the back of these warehouses to there.” Leonardo gestured offhandedly, staring at the machinery being built on the other side of the fence. “Look,” he stopped them both. “It’s all being built by machines.”

Richard took another glance and realized the Italian was correct. Without any men around at all machines seemed to be operating independently, lights flashing, beeping and clanging like the sounds of a thousand men-at-arms on horse back. They moved harmoniously. Richard saw them cross back and forth rapidly, never stumbling or crashing into each other as one would expect from such massive objects.

“That’s incredible,” he admitted. With one machine it was doing the work of a hundred men.

Robespierre was staring at them, lips pursed in thought. “Oui, but then, where do the people work?”

Leonardo tilted his head. “Maybe this world allows for everyone work as artisans, or grocers, or farmers.”

Richard snorted. “That’ll be the day. I bet most of them are in service to lords, as soldiers.”

Robespierre considered this. “Do you think that with machines doing all this work people have enough work? I mean, have either of you seen any deprived people, other than the students that we met?”

Richard thought about it and looked around. The streets were suspiciously clean and clear of the rabble one would expect in a large city like this. No beggars crouched in doorways or blind and crippled people languishing in the hot sun.

Leonardo seemed to have realized the same thing. “Maybe, there aren’t any.” He said slowly, wonder in his voice.

He and Robespierre were staring at each other in amazement.

“Could it be, that there is a place for everyone in this society? That everyone has a purpose and is happy?” Robespierre was beginning to smile, the scars on his face twisting. He placed a hand over his heart, seeming extremely moved by this concept.

Richard scoffed again, starting to walk on.

“That’s no’ possible.”


Aspen adjusted her earpiece again.

“Okay, it looks like they are headed towards the center of the city again. They’re next to the warehouse district, to the south. Just land in our warehouse and track them down from the street.” Harm was instructing her from Middleham, carefully tracking Richard and the other two men who seemed to be traveling with him.

“Affirmative Harm. Have you figured out what the hell I’m supposed to say to him once I’ve caught up?”

“Magpie is working on it, don’t worry.”

Aspen rolled her eyes.

It had taken them an hour to find the three after Richard had jumped into the transporters, going to Cairo of all places. After making sure it seemed like they were going to stay in the city for a moment, Aspen had jumped into a civilian transport glider.

Usually this was used to transport historical artifacts and exhibitions from place to place, and moved more slowly and sluggishly than Aspen was used to, having come from flight school. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants and took a deep breath.

She was pretty sure this was about to count as treason, at least in Chikara’s eyes. If they were caugh…

But if he really didn’t have an ID, as Aspen suspected that he didn’t, Richard would be untraceable. And as long as she stayed in the blind spots, no one need ever know that it was Aspen who had anything to do with it.

She landed the glider in the warehouse and opened the back hatch. Then she picked he way across the crowded concrete floor, covered in pressure sealed boxes of artifacts that were so old, they’d circled from being priceless to being garbage.

Aspen slid the containment door open with a grunt, it protesting with a loud groan.

“Okay, tell me where to go, Harm.”

“Alright they’re heading north. Take a left and head them off a couple blocks up. Hurry though, they’re a little far ahead of you.”

“Got it,” Aspen knotted her braids back as she broke into a light jog. Thank the Federation for primary school track team. “Do you have a way to tell him to come with me yet?”

“Magpie says to tell him you are from Middleham. Maybe call him sire?”

Aspen snorted. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“You’re getting close, a couple more meters and you’ll be on par with them.”

She turned her head to the right, eyes scanning for the shape.

It shouldn’t be hard, he’ll be one of the only white people in Cairo, she thought.

As she crossed siding of the last warehouse, she saw them. Slowing down to a trot, she turned to intercept them.

And stopped cold.


Aspen spun back around the corner, and hissed, “It’s Marie Rivera!”

“What?!” Harm gasped. “Why is she here?”

“I don’t know but she’s coming up fast on them,” Aspen peeked around the corner again. “Fuck, this looks bad.”


Federation headquarters, Cairo, Egypt.

Behind Rain, Chikara Haruka stood perfectly still, arms crossed behind her back.

“Do you have them in your sights?” She asked to the viewscreen that was projecting what Marie’s combat contacts were seeing.

It was the warehouse district in Cairo, the streets barren and sunbaked. Just ahead of Marie, probably 20 meters, was Richard, Leonardo and Robespierre. They were walking quickly but clearly hadn’t realized that a group of armed soldiers were trailing behind them. She watched Richard and Robespierre argue back and forth and Leonardo intervene. Her stomach clenched.

Run, sense the fact you’re being hunted and run! Rain thought desperately.

“Yes, we’re approaching now.”


Richard was the first to notice. His eyes widened and he grabbed Leonardo’s arm. They all stopped.

“Those are the men from Paris, the ones who were around Rain’s flying carriage,” he said.

The black glad figures were walking quickly up to them and just behind them was another large carriage, painted in dark blue and silver. It blocked the street in it’s enormity and Richard started backing away.

“How did they find us?” Leonardo asked, bewildered. “We’re thousands of miles away!”

He grabbed onto Robespierre, who looked increasingly like a cornered hare.

“We need to run, come on!” Richard shouted and broke into a sprint. Behind him he heard the pounding of feet. However the end of the street was wide open, and so long as they could stay ahead of their enemy it would be fine.


“Yes, yes! Run this way, this way towards Aspen!” She muttered to herself, watching as the three men finally caught onto what was happening. Richard broke into a run, and despite his puny size he made good distance.

The other two, the ones the program hadn’t identified, weren’t getting as far. She watched horrified as the smallest male was caught around the waist and the tallest stopped to try and pull him from the soldiers grasp.


Rain had mentally cheered when the three had broken into a run but she watched as Robespierre was caught and Leonardo was surrounded. She hissed aloud as Richard broke back into frame, anger all over his face and fists flying.

“Use the riot gear!” Chikara harshly ordered.

Neck cuffs were brought out, aiming to capture Leonardo who was still determinedly hanging onto Robespierre’s arms. They got the hook around Frenchman, who cried out and struggled even more, attempting to twist himself away from who was grabbing at him. There was little chance now of escape for Robespierre now, however. They had him by the neck.

Run, just run! He’s toast, so get out of there! She thought desperately, hoping Richard and Leonardo would heed her advice.


“Leonardo come on!” Richard shouted over the scuffle, he could feel men closing in around him and the back of his neck prickled. This wasn’t a fight he could win, not alone. Robespierre seemed well and truly stuck, with a long black metal hoop around his throat, and being dragged back to the floating carriage. There was a second one approaching Leonardo and it was only when Richard forcibly grabbed the back of the Italian’s jerkin that he stumbled back.

“Robespierre!” Leonardo shouted in alarm as Richard caught his wrist and dragged him away.

“Arrêtez! Arrêtez! Leonardo!”

Richard glanced over his shoulder and saw Robespierre being forced into the carriage. He was utterly controlled by the black metal leash around his throat. They forced him to the back, Robespierre stumbling from the force they used. His glasses had half fallen off his face and Richard could read the true fear in his eyes. For one moment he could feel pity rise in his chest.

However there was no time dwell. He ran faster, hanging onto Leonardo to make sure he was following. The end of the street was near, and Richard counted on Leonardo to lead them back to the transporters. They could go to London, and seek sanctuary in Westminster.

They whipped around the corner and made it a meter before from the massive door of a warehouse, an arm shot out and dragged them in.


Thank you! Aspen thought frantically. Richard and Leonardo had run in the right direction. She hurriedly closed the warehouse door behind her. The two men were apparently too stunned to cry out as she held a finger to her lips and listened.

Boots thudded past. She heard Marie Rivera shout orders and more footsteps sprinted past.

“Do you have them? Where are you?” Harm demanded over the earpiece. Aspen ignored him, still listening closely.

“Who are you?!” The taller male demanded. She held out her hand, teeth grit. It sounded as if Haruka’s forces had moved on, as she couldn’t hear anything more from outside. Now all she had to do was get them back to the glider and to Middleham.

“What happened? Where are they taking Maximilien?” The man was still speaking, ignoring her signal. She heard Richard hiss.

“Leonardo, shut up. She’s just saved us.”

Aspen liked him best already. She waited for a count of thirty and breathed out. Unless they were planning a stealth approach and had narrowed in on their location already, Aspen was probably safe with Richard and Leonardo for the moment.

She finally backed away from the door and turned her full attention to the men.


The woman who saved them, her waist length hair in lots of tiny intricate braids and partially dyed gold, turned towards them and Richard’s eyes dropped to her arm.

Her metal arm.

They eyed each other for a moment before she finally spoke, her voice quiet and deep.

“Hi. I’m Aspen Strong. Um, this is a rescue and not an arrest.” She rubbed the back of her head with her human hand, combing her fingers through the braids.

“Is that what happened to Robespierre?” Richard asked. She gaped at him for a second. Her eyes slid to the left, and her head tilted just slightly.

“The other guy, he’s Robespierre?”

Leonardo jumped in, apparently getting over the shock of being told to be quiet. “Si! Where are they taking him?”

Aspen shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe to a labor camp, or possibly straight to Chikara Haruka.”

“Who?” Richard demanded. Was this who had been following them with soldiers?

“She’s head of security for the Federation. She’d uh, probably not taking your sudden resurrection well, I’m guessing.” Aspen tilted her head again and nodded slightly. “I think all of her guys have moved though, so we can move to the other warehouse. Then we’ll go to England.”

Leonardo held out his hands, looking distressed. “Wait, we have to retrieve Robespierre.”

Aspen blinked at him. “Um. Good luck with that. He’s probably already miles away and surrounded by officers and grunts.”

Richard took firm hold of Leonardo’s arm again. “We’ll have to leave him, there’s nothing we can do about it now.” He addressed Aspen.

“Lead on.”