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.

Season Two. Episode Fifteen: No One So Little Loved. Part Three.

Episode Fifteen: No One So Little Loved. Part Three.

Richard stared passively at had once been Middleham’s chapel. It was reconstructed, like the rest of the castle but it lacked all of its previous luster. The altar was dusty and the wood hadn’t been polished in a while. All of the candles were unburnt and the pews had been roped off.

Richard walked straight up to the altar, and knelt, ignoring the dimness of the room. He breathed deeply, trying to focus on prayer. There’s no smell of incense, only stale air. There’s no priest or sacraments but for the first time since coming back to Middleham Richard felt a little better.

Richard is…adrift.

Somehow, Leonardo has neatly slotted himself into the new rhythm of the castle, like all of this is normal. As if speaking of raising the dead is anything other than evil and irregular. Leonardo acted as if he was born to this century. Richard remembered that Rain told them that he and the Italian were born the same year, Richard can’t see how.

The castle’s inhabitants are just as strange to him. Aspen, the black skinned solider women, which raised uncomfortable memories of the Maid of Orleans, however she at least has been treating Richard with confidence so far. Harmony- a Moorish looking magician, or at least in regards to the magical map they used to find Richard and Leonardo originally. He’d seemed nervous around Richard, often tripping over his words around him. He doesn’t have any idea where Kami could be from, her skin is as pale as his but her eyes are dark and her face was pleasingly open and smooth. She’d been friendly with him, but distant, seeming to favor Leonardo, as everyone else had.

Magpie alone had seemed to taken an interest in Richard, but Richard had kept his distance. Magpie reminded him of either a woman with very heavy features, or an extremely graceful gentleman, he couldn’t make up his mind. Leonardo had called Magpie a ‘knife’. Richard thought he understood, mostly, he’d met eunuchs in the service of his Edward’s wife. But he had the peculiar feeling that he didn’t have the whole picture.

Richard let his hands drop from his penitent pose and stares up at the stain glass window. Like everything else in the chapel it was slightly dusty.

“What I am I doing?” He asked softly. There was no reply from the portrait of Mary and the Christ child on her lap. Richard rubbed his temple and with a sigh got to his feet, staggering slightly from his knees going numb.

“Richard? Are you in here?”

As if in answer to his thoughts, Magpie was standing at the door to the chapel, hands clasped.

“Magpie,” Richard acknowledged shortly. They stood there for a moment, Richard staring shamelessly and Magpie examining him in turn.

“What are you doing in here, in the dark?” Magpie finally asked.

Richard gestured. “Praying.”

Eyes widening slightly, Magpie started towards him. “Really? Why?”

Richard sputtered, but they appeared sincerely to question him. “I-I haven’t since Rain preformed her witchcraft. She had no chapel in her house, and I couldn’t find any cross to-”

“No, no I mean, why do you feel like you need to pray?”

Richard gaped at Magpie. “To show devotion, to God.”

Magpie’s eyes turned from intently studying his face to the altar and glass window. They hummed under their breath.

“You owned the first bible that was written in English, in Britain,” Magpie said. Richard nodded. “You considered yourself especially devoted to God, huh?”

Richard shrugged. “I’ve always felt it was important, yes.”

Magpie suddenly smiled, dark eyes shining. “I’ve always admired that about you, that you valued knowledge.”

He didn’t know what to say to that so he averted his eyes to the door, and made a quick side step.

Magpie held up a hand. “Wait Richard, I’m sorry I didn’t meant to interrupt you, but I did have something I needed to speak to you about.”

They stepped over the rope, and sat down on the first pew and looked at him expectantly. Richard hesitantly sat down as well. Magpie brushed a hand through their odd silver hair.

“We might be bringing another person here, a doctor. Her name is Russo, and Aspen is going to speak to her tonight. She studies the human skeleton.”

Richard didn’t say anything, wondering where Magpie was trying to take him with this.

“She could, well, she could fix your scoliosis,” Magpie gestured to his back.  Richard stiffened, frowning.

“Pardon me?”

“Your spine, how it curves. It’s usually done when you’re younger but she’s extremely experienced and-”

Richard abruptly stood up, heart racing.

“My back is none of your concern. It’s of no matter,” he snapped. Magpie looked taken aback.

“Surely you’d be more comfortable with it fi- healed.”

Richard shook his head empathetically. “I do not want any of this centuries witchcraft applied to my body, because the last time I woke up from death.”

Magpie frowned deeply. “Well, she’s coming here one way or another. I hope you’ll let her give you a physical at least.”

“Give me a what?!” Richard demanded.

Before they could discuss it any more Aspen called out to Magpie.

“Boss! Boss, Harm has an update on Bonaparte!” Aspen skidded into the room. She took a second glance at Richard but continued on to Magpie. “He says we have firm confirmation, an old security camera on St. Helena picked it up.”

Magpie shot to their feet. “Let’s go!”

XXX

Leonardo watched in amazement as Harmony’s fingers flew over the glass, while the man stared up at the screen, muttering to himself.

He had a sudden realization that this might be what others saw when they observed him. Leonardo grinned.

Aspen, with Magpie and Richard hard on her heels. “You have a lock on him, where is he? Can we go-”

Harm held up a hand. “I have a general idea of his location, but only one camera caught him.”

He flicked his fingers over the glass and an image flew up onto the screen. Leonardo saw Richard jump slightly, in the corner of the room.

“That’s him, according to the facial recognition from Bonparte on the Bridge of the Arcole.” The image was of a svelte man, who was frowning stonily, his brown hair tied back in a que. His features bespoke of some sort of inner nobility, but his clothes were simple cotton and he walked bare foot. He was being led with a stern hand on his arm. His eyes showed confusion, but not fear.

“Oh my god, he looks like a baby Napoleon!” Magpie cooed. Aspen rolled her eyes.

“Is that really what we should focus on right now? Harm, can you tell who, uhh, resurrected him?”

Harm shook his head. “It’s not clear. There’s only a couple hundred people who live on the island now, but they’re mostly independent agents. There’s some small web businesses, a church, some farms. The security footage is from just outside of the church,” he added, glancing over his shoulder, lights reflecting off his glasses.

“Is he in any immediate danger? Can you tell if the Federation has tracked him down yet?” Magpie asked.

Harm shrugged. “There’s no activity in the area, so I’d guess we’re in the clear.”

Magpie bit their lip and put their hands on their hips. “Keep an eye on him. Aspen has to go and talk to a doctor about a horse…”

Aspen frowned at Magpie. “Boss, I don’t think that means what you think it means.”

Leonardo looked at Richard, still hovering in the corner. The man shook his head, and muttered, “Don’t ask.”

Season Two. Episode Fifteen: No One So Little Loved. Part Two.

Episode Fifteen: No One So Little Loved: Part Two.

Leonardo had been eleven years old, the first time he realized what he was.

He’d been walking back from his mother and step-father’s house, idly swinging a stick he’d found. His gaze was on the sky, watching the birds.

The laborers were coming in from the vineyards and the sun was setting over the hills. One of them had stripped to his waist, his shirt draped around his shoulders. The sun reflected off the sweat that dripped down his neck and chest. Leonardo could still remember the way the muscles moved under his arms and stomach. His first lesson in anatomy, burned into his eyes. Something uncomfortably warm settled over his skin and in his belly.

Leonardo stood off to the side of the road, watching them walk by. Some of them raised their hands and waved to “Accattabriga’s son.” He waved back, eyes till firmly fixed on the shirtless man.

As he grew older he realized what had happened that evening, the first touches of attraction, of arousal.

And as Leonardo grew, he also came realized how dangerous it was.

At seventeen he was arrested. While Florence was lenient in its policy on sodomy, Leonardo knew how close he could have been to imprisonment, or execution. This served as an important lesson in his life: no matter how much he showed, the truth of his nature should always be obscured.

Until now.

Leonardo’s hands landed on Jerome’s shoulders as they stepped close together. Jerome’s white teeth flashed against his dark skin right before their lips met.

Leonardo shut his eyes, taking a deep breath through his nose as a warm tide rushed through him, tingling starting through his fingers and toes. Then Jerome tilted his head slightly and there was a wet questioning pressure on his lips. Leonardo made a noise in the back of his throat as the kiss deepened. Jerome grabbed at his waist and pulled them flush together.

The sun had reached its zenith by the time they pulled apart, and Leonardo ran a trembling hand through his hair. It had been a very long time since he’d been kissed like that.

Jerome sighed quietly, and grinned at him. “I have to go home before my shift starts tonight.”

Before he could think it through Leonardo blurted out, “I have a bed, you know.” Then he flushed.

Jerome’s eyebrows had risen up to his hairline. “You know, in other circumstances…”

Leonardo waved his hand. “I misspoke. If you needed to sleep, then I’m assuming that my chambers could serve.”

After leaning over and pressing a kiss to his cheek, Jerome backed away. “That’s nice of you to offer, but I have other stuff I need to do, and my sister is expecting me to call her today.”

Leonardo blinked. “You have a sister?”

“Yeah she works in security too, doing something for the capital.” Jerome slung on his jacket, and smoothed down the front. “She likes me to call every week or so. But,” he winked, “I might take you up on that offer some other time.”

Leonardo smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

XXX

Clio had been wandering around the prison where Robespierre was being kept when she suddenly blinked and was in another place entirely.

Startled, she looked around and groaned aloud.

“For the love of Zeus, what are you people doing now?” She groused, leaning back against a brick wall.

The room was brightly lit by large windows going across the top of ceiling and the floor was simple hard worn wooden planks. At one end of the room two people were clustered around a computer screen. The woman was intently studying the text, muttering to herself. The man leaned over her, hand braced on her hard back chair.

“I don’t know Lotte, are you entirely sure of this?”

“You got what we needed, didn’t you Hamm? We’ve come this far. And I have it on good authority that Miller herself had something to do with this. Besides, can you imagine what the local government of Corsica would do for this?” She smiled.

The man looked frowned uncertainly, but finally sighed and shrugged.

“You’re funeral, Lotte. Let’s do this!”

Clio turned her head and caught sight of a steel operating table, where piles of different minerals were neatly organized. Next to it was an old fashioned defibrillator.

“Oh dear.”

XXX

The empty brightly lit room was quickly becoming Maximilien’s least favorite place in the world. His eyes ached, his stomach was twisted into knots, and there wasn’t a position he could lay in that didn’t make him bruise. Curled towards a corner was the closest thing he could find to comfort. He was mumbling the Declaration of the Rights of Man to himself when he heard the most unlikely thing: a dog barking.

Max raised his head, eyes squinted. It was impossible but it sounded like Brount. He was hearing things, there was no way Brount could be here. His beloved dog was dead, like everything else. In an eternal sleep and lost to time.

But…

Max shut his eyes and laid down on his back, trying to pull himself back, back to Arras after he’d originally gotten the hound. He’d enjoyed talking walks in the evening, just into the fields, past the multitudes of cathedrals and churches. The puppy bounding around his ankles, and snapping at birds and rabbits.

“Do you remember at le Grand, being told not to trample the wheat? Did you get a massive dog simply to spurn them?”

Maximilien eyes snapped open and he looked over at the wall. Incredibly, impossibly, there was someone standing there.

Camille Desmoulins flicked his hair back from his eyes and smiled at him. His head wobbled precariously and red blood seeped into his cravat.

“Bonjour M-m-maxime!”

Max’s mouth dropped open. Then he screamed, a rending, tearing sound that hurt his throat and ears. Tears involuntary came to his eyes with the force of it. He clapped hands to his eyes and buried his face in his knees.

“Non, non, non, non!” He moaned. “You cannot be real, you cannot exist.”

“You’d like that, w-wouldn’t you?” Camille muttered. “I’m sure it would be very con-convenient for you, Maxime, if you could click your fingers and make me vanish.”

Horrified to his core, Max slowly raised his head, eyes still screwed shut. “I would never-”

“And yet, you did,” the figure returned viciously. Then he stepped closer. Maximilien cringed against the wall.

“You’re not real. You do not exist. This isn’t happening,” he told himself firmly, even as very real fear soaked into his heart. Camille ignored him (as he always did) and soon stood over Max.

The younger man stared down at him before dramatically whipping off his head and throwing into Maximilien’s lap.

The ghoulish face, will blood staining its lips and teeth smiled gently up at him.

He screamed again, clawing at his own face as he scrambled to his feet, pressing himself to the wall and scuttling away from the figure and the head that tumbled to the floor.

For a long moment the only sound was Max’s harsh breathing. He kept his eyes closed and pressed his face to the wall.

“He’s not real. He wasn’t here. Camille is dead,” he muttered.

Because I killed him.

Max took a deep breath and turned his head to look. The room was empty.

Season Two. Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part Two.

Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part Two.

Leonardo raised an eyebrow at the screen.

“You found us by using cartography?”

Harm tilted his hand back and forth. “Not exactly. The program maps facial features from portraits, or sculptures, or photographs. Then it searches the entire Federation database, basically every scrap of data that’s been collected since before World War Three, and searches it for matching characteristics.”

Leonardo nodded, mostly following it. Richard looked blankly at the man.

“This program is a map, and it’s what they used to find us,” Leonardo tried to translate, glancing at Harm to see if he was being accurate.

“Basically.”

“A map,” Richard said. “But how did you know we were returned?”

Kami interjected. “We didn’t. The program simply matched you out of random chance. If the security footage wasn’t a public archive, and within the search parameters it would have missed you completely.”

Leonardo sat back. “Luck?”

“Fate?” Magpie piped up hopefully. “We are the historical and heritage branch of public relations for the Federation. If you should be found by anyone it should be us…”

Leonardo kept the politely dubious look off his face, and instead turned back to Harm. “Do you think you’ll be able to use this to find Robespierre?”

“Why on in the saint’s names would we want to?” Richard asked in sotto voice. Leonardo ignored him.

“Leonardo has a point. You did say that the aliens, the Komali, want to have you destroyed right?” Harm asked cautiously. Magpie gasped dramatically.

“He was a pivotal part of the French Revolution of 1789! They can’t destroy him!”

Harm and Kami exchanged a look and Leonardo wondered if this was common for Magpie.

“Chikara can do whatever she wants, Mags,” Harm said. “You know that.”

“I reject the factual evidence of your statement and choose to believe that she’ll keep him alive until further purposes.” Magpie tilted their head up proudly.

Aspen cleared her throat pointedly.

“Any-way,” Harm drawled, turning back to the computer, “we can try.”

Leonardo watched over the man’s shoulder as he tapped the screen with long elegant fingers.

“What I’ll do is take any of the portraits and sculptures that still exist of him, compile them in a matrix and search the database using it.”

Magpie nodded their head once. “Do it.”

Aspen gestured at Richard and Leonardo, her metal fingers clicking slightly. “Come on. They’ll be at this for a while. Leo, has Richard shown you the rest of the castle?”

Leonardo shook his head and rose to his feet. Kami looked vaguely startled, looking up at him with wide grey-brown eyes.

“Something wrong?” He asked.

She shook her head. “Nothing. You’re just…surprisingly tall.”

Leonardo smiled slightly. “That’s not the first time I’ve been told that.”

“You’d make an excellent swordsman, with that reach.” Richard said, as they walked out of the room.

Leonardo snorted slightly. “Not likely. I find war the most disgusting enterprise of man.”

Richard looked at him, then at Aspen, then back to Leonardo. He opened his mouth then sighed and rubbed his temple before brushing past then both and walking off.

“He was the last English king to die in battle.” Aspen pointed out gingerly. Leonardo shrugged.

“I care not. You must agree, if your arm was lost in a conflict.”

Aspen hesitated, mouth twisting back and forth. “I dunno. That’s…a hard question don’t you think?”

They turned right and Leonardo slowed to study some of the glass plaques embedded into the wall. Each presented information about the castle.

“How so? Battle, death, pain, madness. I do not understand how any of these can benefit thinking men,” Leonardo said stiffly.

“Well. Didn’t you design war machines, for uh, uh someone?” Aspen pointed out. Leonardo winced. Before he could explain about he intended services for Il Moro or Borgia, Aspen continued. “Also it seems to me a lot of human evolution has been based on conflict. I don’t think that’s good necessarily but it might be important, I guess.”

Leonardo hesitated, considering her words. “I believe that art evolves the human race,” he finally said.

Aspen smiled and shrugged. “Well of course you do. You’re the one of the, almost them most famous artist in earth history.”

Leonardo smiled. “Grazie.”

“No, really.”

XXX

Aspen found Magpie later in their office. They were bent over an old-fashioned book, mumbling under their breath and with a tablet propped up by lots of coffee cups.

“Hey boss. How’s it going?” Aspen grinned slightly watching Magpie jump, their elaborately done silver hair quivering.

“Aspen! How’s Richard, and Leonardo? Did you show them the kitchens, the-”

Aspen held up her hand. “Richard already knows where everything is, although he has some choice words for some of the inaccuracies.” Apparently the kitchens were too small and the lack of stables and horses were dire. “Leonardo seems more interested in the databases than the building.”

Magpie nodded, relaxing back into their chair. “Makes sense. Richard spent lots of time here, in his youth and adult life. Leonardo seems to have been largely transient. Florence, Milan, Rome, back to Florence, back to Milan, and then France,” they rattled off. “I’ll have Harm teach him the basics.”

Aspen seated herself in the chair. Soon Jerome would be here to relive her. She’d left Richard wandering the halls, seemingly lost in his thoughts. Leonardo had already disappeared into his room, long nose pressed to a tablet.

“So, we’re keeping them. What next?” Aspen prompted.

“What?”

“They’ll need a doctor, you know to check them out and make sure they don’t have any extinct germs on them. Didn’t they both live during the first plague?”

Magpie blinked. “Good point. It was towards the end of the plague years but if either of them have it…”

“Yeah, the last thing we need is a relapse of the White Plague.”

Magpie winced. “Yes. But they’ll also need recent inoculations. And Richard’s spine.”

“What about it?”

Magpie showed her the tablet. It had a picture of a skeleton with a curved spine on it.

“His scoliosis is usually resolved in childhood. We’ll need to find a XD, someone who can also perform surgery to fix it.”

Aspen raised an eyebrow. “Why do you think he’ll want it fixed? Have you asked him?”

Magpie hesitated. “No, I just figured he’d want it.”

Aspen blinked, surprised. “I thought you’d be the first to be talking his ear off, asking about every detail of his life.”

“I will! I want to but,” here Magpie smiled sheepishly. “I’m a little nervous to. He’s been this pedestal, this goal in my life for so long.”

Aspen laughed. “You’re over complicating it boss. You gotta remember, he’s just a human, like the rest of us. He got into a right pissy mood when Leonardo told him he didn’t like warfare. He’s been wandering around all day, looking like he’s been hit over the head. If anything, I think he could really use someone who knows their stuff to talk to.”

Magpie blinked at her. “There’s surprisingly profound Aspen.”

“Hey! I can be sensitive, even if I was just a grunt,” Aspen threw up her hand, smirking at Magpie.

They laughed. “I guess you can. Alright, we’ll work on it tomorrow. Do you happen to know any XDs who could be trusted with this?”

Aspen shook her head. “You’ll want to fry Harm or Kami about it, not me. I’m surprised you don’t.”

“I never spent much time with any doctors. I dislike the smell of chemicals, paper and old stone are better.”

Aspen left with that concept in her head. Old stones and paper huh?

Season Two. Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part Two.

Episode Thirteen: Illumination. Part Two.

Maximilien Robespierre decided he was really very tired of being dragged around. His vision was blurred and every few steps he stumbled as the guards marched quickly down a long curving corridor. The lighting was a flat washed out yellow light, and when he squinted at the walls, it didn’t seem like there were any windows.

Where on earth was he?

The woman who’d barked orders and had his glasses taken had said it was the Bastille, but that was impossible. That most hated symbols of tyranny was gone, he’d lived through its deconstruction. Seen it’s crumbling sad architecture himself.

How could this be the Bastille?

Maximilien was jerked from his theories when the guards made a sharp right and he nearly twisted his ankle on their boots.

He was released and he stumbled away from them, hands subtly out so he could feel if he was going hit something.

“Take your clothes off,” was all the one of the escorts said. Max gaped.

“Excuse me?” He managed to get out of his strangled vocal cords. One of them moved and he realized that they were both likely armed. A cold sweat broke over his skin.

“Remove them or we will do it for you,” she insisted.

Max hesitated, but just for a touch too long because the next thing he knew one of them caught his wrists, twisting them around to hold them behind his back and the other was cutting his clothes away with quick efficient movements. Stunned he froze before trying to twist his hands out of the tight grip.

“Stop resisting,” she ordered and lifted his wrists higher up his back. Now trying to move made it feel as if he was going to break his own arm.

Maximilien grit his teeth as the sharp blades ran along the front of his torso, his shirt falling open. His heart raced and a grey fog swirled around the edge of his vision.

“Why are you doing this?” He burst out, the shirt pushed off his shoulders to fall in scraps at his feet.

Neither answered, and he gasped as his hands were pulled yet higher. His belt was ripped away and he screwed his eyes shut as both his trousers and small clothes were pulled down to his ankles. A firm grip on his ankle and one shoe, then the other, was removed.

Max’s wrists were finally released and he swayed, rooted to the spot, as the feeling came back to his hands. The guard behind him nudged him forward.

“Step into the shower. We’re not done yet,” her palm was warm in between his shoulder blades. The touch made him shudder.

They made him place his palms on the cool tile in front of him. However when the cool touch of metal was applied to the back of his neck, he gasped and lashed out.

“Grab him!”

Arms like steel crushed him and another strong hand grabbed the back of his neck, and pushed his face into the tile. Max closed his eyes again and willed himself calm, shaking as the snip snip snip of scissor went all around his head, hair falling in tangled strands to the floor.

Maximilien was panting by the time they were done, heart racing and knees shaking. The arms released him and he sagged against the wall. Both of his guards backed away and he was privately grateful. Until the moment very cold water started pouring over him, He flinched away, but a barked out “Don’t move!” made him freeze.

The water pounded down on his newly shaved head and shoulders. It never became any warmer and his teeth were chattering by the time they were done.

He was grabbed again and this time his hands were firmly locked behind his back in crossed metal cuffs before they grabbed his arms and started marching him down the corridor again.

Max shivered as they walked for a very long time. It could have been in circles for all he knew, everything here looked the same, but eventually they stopped, and he was pushed into another room. This time, without his hands to catch himself, he stumbled and landed painfully on his bare knees. By the time Max righted himself, his guards were gone and there was slightly blue haze on the air.

Head spinning Maximilien stared, as if he could will them to reappear and explain what in the hell just happened.

His heart beat slowed as Max concentrated on breathing. He pushed himself to his feet, and slowly walked over to the blue haze. He took a deep breath and stepped forward.

Or he tried to, because when he brought his bare foot into contact with the haze it felt as if someone had splashed cognac onto an open would, stinging and burning along his toes and the ball of his foot.

He leapt back and hissed quietly. He squinted as he looked around, trying to make out the greater details of his room-his cell.

It was a plain white tile room. There was not bed or mattress, no chair or desk, no windows. He walked the circumference and nearly broke his ankle when he stepped into a hole that he assumed was meant to serve as a commode. And that was it.

Max sat down, cross legged, in a corner of the cell. His back pressed into the smooth tile, and feet braced flat on the floor. It was cold and he shivered again.

Had Richard and Leonardo gotten away?

Were they, like him, trapped in here somewhere?

Had they been killed in the struggle? The last he’d seen was Leonardo being pulled away and he’d assumed that he’d done the sensible thing and run away, but now Max was realizing that it might not have been that simple.

He tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling, squinting slightly. These lights were likely going to cause a massive pulsing headache in his temples before long but, that seemed like the least of his problems currently.

Maxime sighed.

Why did that women who’d arrested him, taken his glasses, and put him in here seem to hate him so? And would she see him through to a trail, or was this a classic, common case of injustice, as Max had fought against during his life?

He curled up tighter, and rested his forehead on his knees, his back protesting.

What would happen to him now?

XXX

Rainbow Miller spun her chair idly, her hands still handcuffed behind her.

“So now you have him naked and contained, hm Chikara? What comes next?”

Chikara Haruka stood next to her, hands placed neatly behind her back and feet even with her shoulders as she observed the first prisoner the orbital moon prison, the Bastille, had seen in two decades.

“You do, Doctor Miller.”

Rain stopped her spinning, looking up at the head of Federation security. “Me? I’m flattered Chikara, I never knew you thought so highly of me.”

Haruka looked down at her. “I don’t but you will put to rights what you have done, and it starts now.” She leaned down and pressed a button on the com station in front of Rain.

The doctor leaned forward, her long dark braid falling over her shoulder. She read the first few lines before slowly looking up at Chikara.

“This is about physical and mental interrogation techniques…”

Chikara nodded once. “Yes.”

Rain tilted her head. “I’m sorry but it was my impression that the Federation banned torture at the end of the last World War.”

Chikara stared at her. “Do you know why everyone in the Federation wears an ID?”

“It makes tax collecting simple?” Rain replied snidely.

“Because not only does it protect the population form each other, it also protect them from the government. ID and ID tracking is nearly public knowledge. It doesn’t take much to find anyone on any of the Federation planets or space stations. If you have a relative on a labor farm, you can easily check their wellbeing by just knowing their ID number,” Chikara explained.

Rain rolled her eyes. “I know. I’m one of the top scientists the Federation never hired. I know how the system works.”

“Then you’ll also realize that IDs prevent the Terran Federation from harming any of its citizens. All 80 billion of them are protected by public knowledge.”

“Yes, so?”

Chikara suddenly leaned down into Rain’s face, her dark brown eyes were like a tree struck by lightning.

“Except for three of them. The three you created and unleashed onto an unknowing population, with their savage ideas, and unknown contagions, and their violent hideous customs,” Chikara hissed, eye lashes fluttering with the force of her hate.

She straightened back up.

“And now Doctor Miller, you are going to help me and be in charge of cleaning up your mess. You are going to take apart that beast you’ve unleashed and when I find the other two, you’re going to do the same to them,” Chikara stabbed her finger empathetically at the screen where Robespierre was curled up into his corner.

Rain stared at her with wide eyes.

“Good god. And people say I’m a maniac,” she muttered. Louder she said, “No. I will not help you torture a man to insanity Chikara. I might play fast and loose but even I’m not that unethical!”

“You were unethical enough to bring these wretches back, weren’t you?”

“Yes but that was quick and painless! You’re talking about breaking a man’s mind on a metaphorical wheel, and I won’t do it.” Rain spun her chair around, chin up in the air. “You can have one of your kept scientists see to it and I’ll go directly to the labor farm, thanks.”

She heard Chikara sigh softly and after a moment a firm grip on her chair turned her back to the com station.

But now it wasn’t showing Maximilien. It was showing Kamala Manson.

“She’s your intern, correct?” Chikara asked, her tone crisp. “I have two officers following her and waiting on my word to be brought into custody. Her charge will be treason, just like you. She’ll serve right there with you on one of the Federation Farms in Arizona. I can arrange it,” her fingers snapped, “that fast.”

Rain’s mouth went dry. Kamala was walking along the Nile, her face buried in a tablet. Her wedding ring glinted in the sunlight.

“I will give you three seconds Doctor Miller, and then I will make the call.”

Kam had been so scared of the Labor Farms, she’d squealed immediately to Chikara’s husband.

“Three.”

She’d walked out on Rain, leaving her to her own devices. She didn’t even know about Robespierre or Richard.

“Two.”

This wasn’t her fault. Rain couldn’t destroy what might be a good, possibly great career of a kind young woman for that of ex-dead Frenchman.

Sorry Robespierre. Sacrifices have to be made sometimes and it looks like you’ve lost the day.

“On-.”

“Call your boots off. I’ll do it,” Rain snapped.

For a moment it looked like Chikara was going to do it anyway, but she pressed her communicator and ordered, “Abandon your target.”

Rain sighed and flexed her hands.

“Alright, you have what you want. Now take these cuffs off. I can’t very well find out how to destroy someone with my hands bound now can I?”

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Ten: La Liberté. Part Four.

Part Four.

However getting to Cairo, even in the new world of terrors and marvels was proving easier said than done.

They had gone back to the carriage, after getting lost once.

“I thought you said you lived here for five years,” Richard pointed out to Robespierre.

“It was closer to four and a half actually,” Robespierre snapped. “Additionally, if you haven’t noticed, the city has changed significantly.”

“Oh please do not start now. You’ve actually managed to be civil to each other all morning,” Leonardo begged.

Turning onto rue Honore the three of them stopped dead, all bickering pushed aside.

“Turn around slowly,” Leonardo advised lowly, staring at the carriage which was now surrounded by uniformed figures. The carriage itself was being dismantled, and carted into a larger one, that was hovering a few feet off the ground. “Just walk back the way we came.”

Richard turned stiffly and fell in beside the other two men. Leonardo looked the least suspicious, shoulders relaxed, sketchbook tucked under his arm, and staring around as if there was nothing wrong. Robespierre kept glancing over his shoulder, his step quick and light.

They managed about a block before, as if of one mind, they all three broke into a run.

Sprinting past people of all colors and bright lights and crystalline buildings, Richard ran as if Lucifer himself had risen to chase him. The three of them raced away, dipping down countless alleys and nearly crashing into others. Eventually Richard slowed, and the others caught up with him.

“How on earth did they find us?” Robespierre panted out, clutching his side. He looked as if he did not run very often, face flushed and hair coming lose from the loose tail he wore at the base of his neck. He skittered to a stop next to Richard.

Leonardo slowed to a stop as well. He coughed twice, bent over at the waist.

“It was Rain,” Richard said grimly. “She would have told them we stole her property.”

“Likely. They could have also tracked us independently. The how isn’t important now. We need to get out of the city,” Leonardo spoke shortly.

“How?” Richard demanded.

“That terrible light machine that Rain took us in, we can use that,” Robespierre pointed out.

“We need the IDs to use them.” Leonardo shook his head, then stopped. “Unless, unless! We could tell them that we need to see Kamala that we were sent from Rain.”

“Yes, do you remember, Rain was able to get us on the um, uh, object,” Robespierre stuttered out.

“And you think this Kamala will help us?” Richard demanded, grabbing Leonardo around the arm. The man’s eyes took a distant look, and his mouth twisted slightly.

“Si.”

Richard met Robespierre’s eyes.

“Then let us go to Cairo.”

XXX

However first they had to get there.

Leonardo had found a city map, and was scanning over it. Richard watched in fascination it’s bright surface displayed images for food, hotels, and shows.

“What’s with the windmill?” He asked Robespierre.

The Frenchmen shrugged. “It wasn’t here when I was here. Neither was ah, the burlesque.” He adjusted his glasses, frowning dubiously.

Leonardo tapped the map and it magnified upon one part. “There it is. We should be able to use these, transporters to get to Cairo. They should be,” he turned to the east, “this way. They are located next to the Tuileries Gardens.”

Out of the corner of his eye Richard saw Robespierre shudder. The man’s footsteps were a little slower, a little more ponderous as they followed Leonardo.

The sun was high in the sky and Richard judged it to maybe be around ten in the morning. All of the odd people who lived now walked around, faces bent downwards to their lit up tablets or watching nearly transparent screens, projected out of bands they wore around their wrists. Some wore spectacles, that were lined with fine blue threads, and randomly laughed or smiled as if they were mad.

Richard grimaced. It was all mad. He hardly understood at all, from why Rain had seemingly picked him out of the blue, to how carriages floated magically.

Secretly, Richard was hoping that this other woman, was practiced in some art like Rain’s and would be able to return him home.

They turned onto a large square, with fine, large fountains on either side and the massive iron tower to the west. It was mostly deserted, with some people sitting around the fountains.

“Look, there they are.” Leonardo pointed to the magical transporters. He was smiling slightly, and raised an eyebrow at them. “Now we just have to- Robespierre?”

Richard glanced over and found the Frenchman had gone stiff and pale, as if in death. His eyes were enormous and round behind his glasses.

“What now?” Richard snapped.

Robespierre moved his mouth but no sound emerged.

“What?”

“I-I died here.” Robespierre gasped. His lips had gone a pale blue and he was shaking from head to toe. Leonardo stepped forward.

“Robespierre, it’s past. There’s no one here to hurt you now.” His tone was that of talking to a skittish horse, a low gentle tone.

However whatever had possessed the Frenchman had taken full hold of his body. His eyes were hazy and his breath was coming in short ragged breaths. He swayed on his feet slightly and his hands flitted around his face, clawing at his cheeks and forehead.

Richard took a step away.

“He’s been possessed,” he hissed to Leonardo. “Do something!”

“It’s not possession, it’s- it’s panic. Fear. Robespierre!” Leonardo grabbed the shorter man around the shoulders and shook him gently. However this had the opposite of the intended effect because Robespierre merely gasped and his eyes rolled back. He went slack in Leonardo’s grasp. The Italian cursed and glancing around, dragged him to the nearest bench, sitting him down. However he was insensible, mumbling and flailing weakly. Leonardo caught his hands and gripped them in his own. He touched the man’s face, gently tapping him.

“Shhh, shhh. Robespierre, Maximilien. Maximilien, you are alright. There is nothing here to hurt you. The guillotine is gone,” Leonardo crooned gently. Richard watched hypnotized as Robespierre seemed to come back to himself, gently. He groaned and his eye lids fluttered.

“How on earth did you do that?” Richard demanded. Leonardo shrugged.

“I’ve known men who had night terrors before. This is not so different.” He turned to the still shaken man, who was looking lost. “Maximilien, can you walk?”

The Frenchman put a hand to his head, but stood up, shakily.

“Oui, I-I think so.”

Leonardo dragged them both into the nearest building, Robespierre still looking shaken and pale. Richard looked back over his shoulder at the square behind them. To him it still looked innocent and mostly barren. However, from the way Robespierre clutched the wall to stay upright it was clear something had happened to him there. If Richard had to guess, it probably had to do with the ghastly scars that crossed the man’s face.

Richard thought that he’d probably deserved it, whatever had happened to him.

Leonardo didn’t seem to think so, practically holding the other man upright.

“Maximilien, it’s alright,” the Italian said quietly, patting his shoulder.

A cough from behind made them all turn.

“May I help you gentlemen?” The speaker was a dark haired, dark skinned women, dressed in simple back and white clothing. Richard looked around and realized a few people had stopped eating and were looking at them.

Clearly a tavern of some kind.

“Ah, yes. We are here to eat,” Richard told her.

The women looked at them with wide eyes, confusion and a hint of exasperation creeping in.

“Alright, do you have a reservation?”

A what? Richard wondered.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said aloud. The women stared at them silently, mouth open slightly.

“Let me see if we have any open tables. Why don’t you take a seat right on that bench and I’ll be back in a moment.” She gestured and watched them warily.

As soon as the women was gone Richard turned to Leonardo.

“What do we do?” He asked quietly.

“Maximilien, are you alright now?” Leonardo asked.

Robespierre nodded, looking less ashen than he had. “Oui.” A flush appeared on his face. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”

Leonardo patted his shoulder again. “It’s alright, we don’t mind.”

Richard snorted. “I mind.” Leonardo shot him an unimpressed look.

Robespierre stood. “We should probably go before -”

“Gentlemen? We have a table open, right this way.” She gestured, clearly expecting them to follow her. Leonardo looked at them helplessly before following.

Richard set his jaw. “I blame you,” he hissed as he brushed passed Robespierre to follow the women. Robespierre glared at him, mouth twisting. He opened his mouth to respond but was cut off.

“Falla finita!” Leonardo snapped at both of them, grabbing Robespierre’s wrist, leading him along. “Petty bickering gets us nowhere.”

They were led to a table with three chairs set up around it.

“A waiter will be with you gentlemen in a moment, please look through our selection at your leisure.” With that the women quickly left, looking over her shoulder as she did.

Richard glanced around and found that they were still being stared at. Some of the patrons were whispering to each other, looking apprehensive or shifting in their seats. A table close by had a small ebony-skinned child, who was gazing gape mouthed at them. The little boy touched his mouth then looked at his hand, and to his father, then back at Richard. He crinkled his nose and pointed, looking back to his father.

“Don’t point, Beni,” the man chided him. He looked up at Richard, looking embarrassed. “Sorry. He’s just never seen anyone, um, like you.”

Richard frowned. “Like me?” Self-consciously he lowered his right shoulder.

“You know, white.”

“Oh.” Richard sat back. He glanced over to Robespierre and Leonardo. Robespierre was holding his hand to his cheek, and was anxiously biting his lower lip.

Leonardo was fidgeting with something in his lap, apparently oblivious to the conversation. However he looked up and made eye contact with the boy, grinning slightly.

“You are Beni, si?”

The child nodded shyly.

“Do you like birds?” Leonardo held up a folded cloth napkin, cleverly arranged to look like a little sparrow. The boy gasped and held out his hands. Laughing, Leonardo slid the napkin over where it was eagerly picked up. The boy held it up to his father who examined it, eyebrows raised.

“That’s very impressive, sir. What do we say, Beni?”

“Thank you,” he lisped quietly.

Leonardo laughed. “You’re welcome, Beni!”

Richard glanced around again and while many people had gone back to eating, the remaining gawkers were now exchanging amused glances or smiles. He looked at Leonardo with new eyes.

Robespierre was looking at Leonardo as well, a small smile on his face.

“That was a friendly thing to do,” he said quietly.

The Italian shrugged. “If we are attracting attention, it may as well be positive, si?”

Robespierre tilted his head. “I’ve never thought of it that way.”

Richard meanwhile had been suitably by distracted the menu.

“Do either of you have any idea what any of this is?” He asked quietly. Robespierre looked at it and quirked a coppery eyebrow.

“No, I’ve never seen any of it. Leonardo?”

“It looks like raw fish,” the Italian said after a moment of scrutiny. Richard looked at him blankly.

“Why would anyone -”

Leonardo hushed him, a man with an apron was headed over to their table.

“Afternoon gentlemen. Is there anything I can get you drink to start off with?”

Richard pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yes. Three beers.”

The waiter nodded. “Alright.” For a moment he seemed to scrutinize his face and Richard noticed a sort of glimmer went over the man’s eyes.

“And have you gentlemen looked over the menu?”

Leonardo nodded. “The uh,” he cast a frantic look over the hologram, “dragon roll?”

“Sounds good, I’ll be back with your beers in just a moment.” With that the waiter turned away.

Richard scrutinized Leonardo. “What is a ‘Dragon roll’?”

Leonardo shrugged. “It says it has eels and avocado.”

Robespierre cast a worried look at the Italian. “What is an avocado?”

“I do not know, but I suppose you will find out.” Leonardo leaned back in his chair.

“Us? Why not you?” Richard shot back.

“I don’t eat the flesh of animals.” Leonardo shrugged, smiling slightly.

“What?” It was the most absurd thing Richard had ever heard. Even Robespierre looked surprised, raising his eyebrows at the Italian.

The waiter came back and handed the beers out.

“Is there anything else I can get you gentlemen?”

“Yes. May I please have a glass of water?” Robespierre asked.

The waiter nodded and turned away until Leonardo called him back.

“Ah, and a small bowl of rice please?”

With the waiter gone, Richard turned back to Leonardo.

“What on earth do you mean you don’t eat animals?”

Leonardo shrugged slightly. “I do not wish to treat my body as a mausoleum, littered with dead things,” he flicked his fingers dismissively. “If you can get your subsistence without harming other living creatures, why wouldn’t you?”

Richard snorted derisively. But Robespierre was blinking at Leonardo as if they had only just met.

“That’s…That’s a very good point,” Robespierre said.

Richard rolled his eyes, but before he could argue back, the waiter returned with the ‘Dragon Roll.’ He set a small dish of rice in front of Leonardo and the water in front of Robespierre.

“There you go gentlemen. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No, merci,” Robespierre smiled at him.

“Excellent, the bill will be posted right at the bottom. Just transfer your credits when you’re ready to leave. Enjoy!”

Robespierre smile vanished as the waiter left.

“We don’t have any money,” he hissed as Richard reached forward to grab the one of the segments of the ‘Dragon’. It was wrapped in rice and something green. Richard picked it up and examined it closely.

“So?”

“So we can’t pay for what we’re about to eat, and that’s thievery.” Robespierre reached forward as if to stop Richard. In retaliation Richard popped the whole segment in his mouth.

It was cold and there was something slimy to it, but he could taste an underlying fishiness to it, just the mildest hint of brine. Robespierre was staring at him, sallow face pinched in disgust. Leonardo was also looking at him, mouth twisted slightly. Richard chewed and swallowed.

“It’s not bad. Additionally when I return to England, and explain who I am, we will more than easily be able to pay for some fish. It’s fine,” he insisted. Robespierre, looking mulish, crossed his arms over his chest and threw his head back. However Leonardo timidly started to peck at his rice.

Despite how meager it seemed, Richard found he was not going to be able to finish the Dragon and contented himself with the beer. He noticed that Robespierre did not touch his, or any of the food, simply sipping at the glass of water and casting cold looks at him and Leonardo. Richard resisted the desire to roll his eyes. When Leonardo had finished his rice, and took a cursory sip of beer, the waiter reappeared.

“How was everything gentlemen?” He asked genially.

“Serviceable,” Richard said.

“Excellent, thank you monsieur,” Leonardo cut over him. The waiter beamed and looked at them expectantly. Richard held himself carefully still, gripping his beer chalice.

The moment lingered and it seemed that the waiter was going to press the issue, until someone called for him. With a rather annoyed look he left. Richard sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He got to his feet, and blinked. The beer had gone to his head faster than he thought.

“We should go,” Leonardo opinioned lowly, looking around. Richard nodded and grabbed the bag from under the table.

“I can’t believe you,” Robespierre was still hissing at them as they walked back outside, heading around the edge of the square to where the machines were. Richard knew the man must be feeling better because now he simply would not. Shut. Up. “Stealing, from the mouths of citizens! Refusing to pay your tab, and knowing you wouldn’t be able to!”

“Would you have us starve instead?” Richard demanded. However before Robespierre could respond, a voice from behind them shouted, “Hey! Hey! Stop! Someone stop them!”

It was the waiter.

Several people had turned to look, curious. Richard and Robespierre froze.

“What do we do?” Richard looked at Leonardo. The Italian grabbed Robespierre and pulled him along as he broke into a sprint.

“I have an idea, run!”

With that the three of them sprinted for the transporters.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Ten: La Liberté. Part One.

Episode Ten: La Liberté.

Part One.

It was evening and Richard was half asleep when He became aware that the vehicle was descending. They’d all started falling asleep somewhere over the ocean, a sight so enormous that even Leonardo had been disturbed by it. Robespierre had been the first to go, slumping over with his hands protectively curled over his chest. The Leonardo, leaning against the window and muttering in Italian. Richard had tried to stay awake, instincts reminding him strongly he could easily be in a vehicle with two people who would see him dead. However eventually the monotony of the location and the comfortable interior wore him down and Richard had found himself slipping into a sleep-like trance.

He reached over and shook Leonardo roughly.

“I think we are nearing Paris.”

The Italian snapped awake near instantaneously. Which was good because the invisible woman who spoke to them came back on.

“Nearing the city of Paris. The capital of the country of France, and largest European nation. Please enter address.”

Robespierre was still dead to the world so Richard very gently threw an apple at his head.

“We are in your precious Paris. Where can we go to spend the night?” He barked at the blurry eyed Frenchmen.

“Ah, 398 Rue Saint Honore,” he muttered, rubbing at his eyes under his glasses.

“Address Accepted. Arrival estimated, six minutes.”

Leonardo stretched, arms bending behind his head and flexing his spine off the seat.

“Where is it that we are going, Robespierre?” He asked, twisting.

“My home, the Duplays should-” Suddenly Robespierre cut himself off, looking stricken. “Oh.”

Richard turned on the bench to stared at him with incredulity. “Did you give us a dead man’s location?”

Robespierre opened his mouth to respond, cheeks already flushing with anger, before Leonardo smoothly cut across them.

“It’ll give us a starting point. All we need is a place to land, and this is good enough. We are never going to get anywhere with the two of you sniping at each other every five minutes. Dio mio, make you peace already!”

Richard and Robespierre stared at each other for a few moments before turning away. Leonardo looked at each other them in turn and muttered something under his breath. Richard thought he heard the words, ‘gone by myself’ and bristled slightly. However before he could the vehicle dropped gently to the ground with a thump. All three of them clutched the seat in surprise.

“Well, I suppose we are here,” Leonardo commented, still sounding sour with the two of them. He pushed a button on the central console and the machine’s light’s extinguished. The tiny chip that he’d used to start the vehicle up slid out and Leonardo grabbed it, stowing it away in some interior pocket. He turned to look at Richard and Robespierre with a raised eyebrow.

“Coming?”

XXX

Maximilien couldn’t believe that he’d forgotten that the Duplay family would be long dead. In the dreamy moment between sleep and waking he’d thought himself still in the year two of the Revolution. He could have sworn that he could hear the familiar clatter of the workmen just outside his window, the sounds of Brount barking, the footsteps coming up the staircase to his rooms.

He clambered out of the flying carriage, and looked up at the rooms that used to be his.

They were gone. There was a large glass building in it’s place. The lights were dim and reflected the starlight.

Max felt all of the air in his lungs pushed out, as if someone had hit him in the chest. It felt as if he’d been shot all over again.

“It’s gone. It’s completely gone,” he whispered. Leonardo gently patted his shoulder.

“I am sorry, Robespierre.”

He stared at the building, backing away. He looked down when his heel hit against a metal plaque.

“Residence of Maximilien Robespierre from 1790 till his death 1794.” Richard read, looking down at it.

Maximilien stared down it numbly.

So this was what he came down to? A small plaque on the ground, dully noting his death. His position wasn’t even noted. He wondered if his, Charlotte and Bonbon’s house in Arras was gone too. The thought that it might be gone felt as if someone had forced a large icicle into his chest, sharp and cold. He swallowed heavily, and set his jaw.

“I’m fine. I would not expect them to memorialize me, not if Billaud, Barere, and Collot d’Herbois persisted in saying I had mastery over the Committees.” He clenched his hand at his side.

The cool night was closing around them and street was quiet. Somewhere a dog barked and Max was struck with a homesickness for his family so intense that for a moment he thought he was going to be ill. Instead he took and deep breath and gestured down the avenue.

“The Seine is that way. It will take us to the heart of Paris, if nothing else. Or the Tuileries is behind us.”

Leonardo, still looking at him softly, nodded.

“Lead on, Robespierre, you know the city best,” he offered quietly. Richard rolled his snorted and re-adjusted the bag on his shoulder, but held his tongue.

Max nodded and with a shuddering breath turned away from the glass building.

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

During the Revolution Maximilien’s habit had been to stay up until at least midnight, writing his drafts, revising, answering correspondence, and while working on the Committee, arguing bitterly with Collot d’Herbois and Barras.

However he found himself more easily tired now. It was as if death had sapped all of his energy, he thought, somewhat wryly.

Max persisted, eyes tracing over the familiar words of Rousseau. He knew that he it did him no good to dwell, but it didn’t stop him from wanting the comforting presence of what he knew.

Rainbow Miller kept hinting at his reputation after his death, but Max very carefully kept from that as well. For him, it had been less than a week since he made his speech to thunderous applause at the Jacobin club, tried to make his declamation to the Assembly, been arrested, escaped jail, seen his comrades shot, been injured, and finally sentenced to death.

It seemed to him that ripping open the wound, as if to blood let, would do nothing to aid his adjustment to his current situation.

So he re-read The Social Contract, Émile, and made it into Confessions, before inevitably, his eyes started to close.

He was in the Pantheon. Torchlight from a wildly swinging latern made shadows sway along the tombs. Maxime looked around and realized he was standing among familiar bodies. Camille and Lucile rested closest to him, eyes closed peacefully. At first Max convinced himself they were sleeping, but then he looked closer and realized that Camille’s head was actually simply placed near his neck, not on it.

There was no blood.

Max walked between the bodies of Augustin, Charlotte, Henriette. The Duplays. Horace. Saint-Just. Danton.

“These are yours.” Max suddenly realized that Marat had been standing next to him the entire time. He still had Corday’s knife sticking out of his chest. He gestured to Louis Capet and Marie Antoinette.

Max shook his head. He could not speak with the scent of death rising up around him.

Marat took his arm and started leading him past more bodies. Brissot, Couthon, Mirabeau, Bailey.

“These are all the ones that you caused to be killed,” Marat, in his typical fashion gesticulated wildly, arm sweeping around, the knife in his chest wobbling with every movement. His voice started to be pitched higher and higher. “Jacobins, Girondists, Indulgents.”

Max stumbled to a stop, and clapped a hand to his mouth. He could feel bile, oily and hot, rising in his throat. Grey mist rose in front of his eyes. Was it the torchlight or had Augustin’s head turned to him? Was Camille blinking slowly or was it his mind?

“The entire Revolution, lumped in with the ilk of Cromwell.” Marat finished, standing in front of Max. His yellow eyes seemed to burn in the strange atmosphere of the Pantheon.

He opened his mouth to speak and instead felt the bile rise, and rise until he was gagging.

But it was not bile at all. A huge, grey, slimy worm emerged from his mouth, spilling out down past his neck and chest, squirming lazily. Max’s mouth hung open dumbly as the weight of the worm forced his tongue to the side. He could taste the rot and dirt from the invertebrate in his mouth.

Marat took hold of the warm and yanked on it, and Maximilien nearly fell into him. The suddenly hands from all around were grabbing at him, at the issue of his mouth.

“Terror shall be the order of the day.”

“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”

Words that he’d never said, never declared spilled from the worm while the dead tried to rip it from his body. Pale, stiff hands pawed at his face and shoulders.

With a final yank, delivered by Phillipe Lebas, still bleeding from temple, the worm was ripped from his mouth. Maximilien looked at the slimy appanage.

But it was not the disgusting insect from inside, it was a sluggishly bleeding tongue instead.

Max woke with a start, hands flying up to his face and knocking his new glasses askew. His skin was clammy and shivers ran over belly and back. He shuddered as his fingers brushed over the raised skin of the guillotine scar.

He put the book on the side of bed, and curled himself under the covers, still shaking with the aftershocks of the dream.

It took a long time for him to fall back asleep.    

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

Leonardo rubbed distractedly at his eyes, blinking in the harsh light. He’d gone to his borrowed room after dinner, and the collective decision to try and leave Rain had been made.

His mind felt crowed by too much, the past few days catching up with him.

One moment Leonardo had been dying in France and the next he was alive in North America. It felt to him like he was only half-awake, a disquieting feeling, as Leonardo had always prided himself on his ability to see things as they really were. However now he was reliant on Rain’s interpretation, locked inside of her home and blocked at odd junctures from outside information.

Leonardo found the animated laughing mask that blocked him from certain ‘websites’ infuriating.

He sighed and went back to staring at the tablet screen: he’d been reading his companions histories.

Richard, it turned out had a whole scandal behind his rule. Having lived in Milan for a good portion of his adult life, Leonardo found it hard to be scandalized by the theory that Richard may have had his nephews killed to clear his way to the throne. Abhorrent, but nothing that Leonardo had not heard from Nicco or seen Caesar Borgia before. He was mildly surprised to find that Richard had died younger than he or Robespierre, however. There was something so…ancient in the ex-king’s bearing, that it made Leonardo assume he’d been an old man when he’d died. He presumed that it had something to do with the man’s spine. The official biography said it was ‘scoliosis, a twisting of the spine that occurred in adolescent. It would account for the pained grimace the man seemed to carry constantly.

Meanwhile, he also found himself stunned and entranced by the times Maximilien Robespierre came from.

Leonardo could scarcely wrap his head around the philosophe of the period, phrases from ‘The Rights of Man’ swimming before his eyes, let alone the frantic action that followed. An entire populace rising against their sovereign. Leonardo thought he’d seen the height of madness during the French Occupation of Lombardy, he could only imagine the horrors of what all of France would be like in a riot.

He found himself drawn to the guillotine, drawing it over a dozen times in his notes, from different angles and sizes. Once he’d included a headless corpse, simply to amuse and frighten himself. It was such a perfect method of death, from the height of blade to the materials used. Leonardo already wanted to see if there was a way to improve it.

Robespierre, shockingly, seemed to be at the very epicenter of much of the Revolution. His name was repeated from 1789 to 1794, and even cited by the men who followed after him. For such a withdrawn and diminutive figure, Robespierre must have been an amazing orator when he put his mind to it, Leonardo concluded.

He rubbed his eyes again and smother his yawn. He spun the pen in his hand, and followed the spinning movement. Slowly, his eyes shut.

Falling asleep is something your brain does automatically. You close your eyes for one moment and your brain shuts down higher functions.

Leonardo was still sketching, firelight playing over his paper while his red chalk chased the flickering shadows. It seemed like hours later when a knock on the wooden door disturbed him. Without getting up he was at the door and opening it.

It was the Officers of the Night, but Leonardo could not identify their faces. They took him, and suddenly Leonardo was standing in front of the moral guardians of Florence. Except they wore tri colored slashes and had feathers in their hats. This didn’t strike Leonardo as odd.

“Leonardo ser Piedro da Vinci you stand accused of indecency and sodomy. Evidence has been brought before the court,” Salai, dressed as Bacchus, stepped forward and smiled at Leonardo, “and you have been sentenced to death.”

Leonardo blinked again and he was walking up to the scaffold. Except it wasn’t. The shape of the guillotine was back by the stars in the inky sky, were kites flew, calling out to one another before landing and pecking at the eyes of dead and skeletal bodies. Leonardo looked over at the executioner and found a crooked-backed Lorenzo de Medici holding the rope. He grimaced as he was tied down to the plank.

As it ever was, his own patrons were the most destructive aspect of his life.

He had the perfect angle to survey the crowd before the blade came down. He felt no fear, only a curious sensation of inevitability. He heard the blade fall, but felt no pain. His head fell and met the wood of the scaffold.

Leonardo sighed as he woke up. He groaned when he realized he’d drooled all over his sketches and the desk. The clock only read a half hour later. The dream had left nothing but a vague feeling of illness, a sudden queasiness that left an ache in his temples and a greasy feeling at the back of his throat.

He rubbed his eyes again, and surrendered to the inevitable: clearly it was time for bed.

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

PART ONE.

Richard was back in the kitchen, face set soberly. His back was to a corner and his arms crossed over his chest.

He eyed them both when they sat down. Rain was nowhere to be seen. “She headed off to the basement, and told me not to leave the house.” He sneered. “Did Leonardo tell you what Miller told us? About the,” Richard waved his hand at the back of his neck.

Robespierre nodded grimly. “Oui.” He sat down, crossing his arms tightly over his chest.

Richard shook his head slowly and rubbed a hand over his face.

“I’ve never imagined a future could be like this,” he muttered lowly. “The barbarity of it.”

Robespierre nodded in agreement, and frowned sourly.

“I agree.” The words came out slowly and very quietly. Leonardo smiled slightly. Clearly it pained the other man to admit the two of them could agree on anything.

“So what do we do about it?” Leonardo asked quietly. Both of the other men looked at him.

“Do?” Richard asked.

“Si. We can’t just sit here and let ourselves be trapped here, as some entertainment to Rain,” Leonardo whispered urgently.

Robespierre nodded again. “We could leave in the middle of night. We’d have hours ahead of her.”

“She said the government here will catch up to us,” Richard pointed out.

“Maybe that’s what we want, to be caught.” Leonardo stroked a hand over his chin.

Richard turned his steely gaze to Leonardo. “What do you mean?”

“It’s clear that Rain will not let us go. And we cannot leave without help. Ergo, we should seek to be caught. Perhaps someone will be sympathetic to our plight.” Leonardo spread his hands out and shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s… not very optimistic,” Robespierre pointed out slowly.

Richard made an abortive frustrated movement, as if to draw a weapon from his belt, fingers scraping his belt. “I’m not fond of the idea of just waiting for our opportunity to leave,” he growled.

“What do you suggest, murdering Rain and running for it?” Robespierre suggested acerbically. Richard turned to the corner, hands braced on the countertop.

“No,” he finally said, after a heavy silence. “But if the opportunity doesn’t arrive within a fortnight, I’m taking my leave of this place, aid or no.”

Richard pushed his way past Leonardo on his way out of the kitchen.

“Well, that went well,” he sighed. Robespierre snorted.

“He won’t ever listen to good sense,” the Frenchman opinioned. “Only to his own.”

Leonardo shrugged again. “We can try at least.”

XXX

That night, dinner passed as a quiet, awkward affair. Rain, over a simple meal of bread, olives, wine, and fish, which all three of her guests were familiar with, and so spared her the quickly exhausting task of trying to explain every food in the replicator to them. Richard would eat whatever you in front of him, as long as it was hot, while Leonardo seemed intent on questioning her on every aspect of the dish.

Rain put her fork aside and looked at each of the three men in turn. Richard was tearing into the bread and chasing it with wine. He kept his eyes on his plate and Rain thought she could see a muscle in his cheek twitching. Leonardo was seemingly intent on his olives, and Robespierre was taking tiny delicate bites of fish, ignoring the wine entirely.

“Look, I know you don’t understand now, but really, the IDs were the best solution for the Federation. It brought some stability back to the planet after World War three and the environmental fallout.”

The flat unimpressed stares that she was met with made Rain half throw her hands up.

“Out of anyone, I’d think the three of you could appreciate that the most, you know, stability.”

“There’s a difference between stability and a leash,” Robespierre said quietly.

“Because the Terror was the most effective means of governing,” Rain snapped back. Robespierre tilted his head, myopic gaze glittering with confusion. Rain took a deep breath and flapped her hand in his direction. “Never mind.”

Leonardo cleared his throat gently. “When do you return to work? Surely you’ll be missed.”

Rain leaned back and smirked. “I have another month of leave before anyone expects me back.”

Richard glanced at Leonardo, who shrugged and smiled affably.

“Wonderful. I’m sure you still have much to show us.”

Rain brightened. “Yeah! There’s a lot you’ve missed being dead the past fifteen hundred years. Oh, I should show you movies tomorrow.” She smirked. “Disney is going blow your mind.”

Leonardo nodded, smiling pleasantly. He had methodically been tearing a slice of bread into smaller and smaller chunks.

“I’m sure it will be enlightening.”

Rain beamed and got up from the table, taking her dish to the replicator and recycling it.

“Don’t stay up too late, we have princess movies to watch tomorrow!” She ruffled Leonardo’s hair, and limped away.

XXX

Leonardo ran his hand through his hair, smoothing it back down from where Rain had touched it.

Richard and Robespierre were silent, both of them staring at him. He sighed.

“Two weeks, and I’m willing to try our fortune by leaving.”

Richard nodded grimly and looked at Robespierre. “And you?”

Robespierre glanced over the rim of his glasses and sighed. “I will not stay here, not if there is a chance to return to France.”

Leonardo nodded and smiled gently. “I would like to return to Italy, as well.”

“England. York.” Richard muttered.

The three man sat in silence, thinking of their homes, a calling in their bones that couldn’t be denied.

 

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.”