Season Two. Episode Eighteen: Living Will. Part Two.

Maximilien was woken by a sharp pain to his neck. He jerked but couldn’t gather the strength to scramble away. He’d been unbound as his captor no longer considered him a threat. He’d had another three encounters with the terrible force-feeding tube and each one left him weak, trembling in a huddle on the floor. Inevitably his abdomen would cramp into knots and he’d expel some liquid bile onto the floor. 

His mind was unraveling. It was gradually pulled apart by a single thread, where the frayed fabric could be easily punched through by his visions and dreams.

Max squinted up. His eyesight was becoming increasingly terrible. If he was blinded, he’d no longer have to see the phantom of Camille sitting across from him, his head cradled in his lap. No more Danton looming over him, or Marat castigating him for his mistakes. 

“Don’t speak. Well actually, you’re welcome to try.” Rainbow Miller’s voice was close to him. Her shadowy outline shifted.

Maximilien wanted to beg her for release. If she could undo what she’d done and allowed him back into death, he’d forgive her anything. But he opened his mouth and tried to force the words but nothing happened.

“It’s a localized numbing agent for your vocal cords. Don’t worry, it won’t last forever,” Miller said.

There were footsteps and then Maxime lost touch with the floor. He was pulled to his feet, but unable to stand, so he was dragged. The touches were impersonal and felt far away, the pressure on his arms barely registered. Brount was barking and the smell of lilacs and sawdust was in the air. 

The sun was brought through the window of his study. His desk was neat. Downstairs there were the quiet sounds of the household below. It was not Arras. But it was home, with Eleanore and Antoine, Camille and Lucile coming by with the baby. Coulthon and his puckish humor. David’s sticks of sketching charcoal forgotten on the settee. Danton with his ill-gotten wine, climbing the steps to meet with him, his eyes bright in his scarred face. Antoine inside his rooms, his curls falling into his eyes as he worked on the next report for the Comittee. The rain over Paris, washing away the blood into the Seine…

Maximilien was forced back into his body when the first jet of water hit him in the face. He gasped and then choked. He’d been pinned back to the wall and could now only thrash his head back and forth to try and avoid the frigid spray. He opened his mouth the scream but nothing happened. Not at all. 

XXX

Julia Jenkins, Lt. had joined the Federation with her twin brother. Jerome had always been more of a playboy, more interested in the simple answers than duty and so remained earthbound. Meanwhile Julia ascended, picked by hand for her ambition and service for Chikara Haruka.

She didn’t know why they were on the Bastille, only that Haruka had ordered it suddenly, urgently. In less than two hours a discrete cargo ship was lifting off and headed towards the artificial ring that served as part space station part prison. Haruka stood in the back watching the infamous Rainbow Miller, who did not look at all concerned to be suddenly arrested and whisked away. 

Now they’d been on the base for days and rumors grew. Miller had been freed and now it seemed she was doing bizarre experiments on an android prototype.

“It insists that it’s an AI and we’re trying to sort it out,” Miller explained shortly when Julia asked. “Hit the water again.” The android hadn’t even been given a designation. Julia wrote it off as one of Miller’s many quirks. She thought she’d heard Miller referred to it as “Max”. 

Julia felt uneasy, watching it squirm against the wall. It was unnervingly silent, especially since it often spoke to Miller when they performed fuel injections. Now however it just slumped to the side, wet and broken looking. 

Miller walked forward her cane tapping on the ground and stood before the android. She examined it closely for a moment, opening its ocular lenses, it’s auditory systems, it’s chassis and frame before humming and gesturing them forward. 

“You can take him back now and consider yourselves dismissed for the night. We’ll perform a fuel injection in the morning.” 

Julia almost breathed a sigh of relief. She was tired and her uniform was soggy from the ice-cold water. She and Briggs unlocked the android and it sagged between them, forcing them to drag it’s heavy frame back to the holding cell.

“Why even have a fuel injector and not just a charger like every other android?” Briggs grumbled. She was just as soaked as Julia. “What’s the bloody point?” 

Julia shrugged. “You’ve heard the stories about Miller. Why does she do anything?” 

 

“To see if it can be done,” they chorused together, then broke down into giggles. Miller was almost a meme, someone so absurd but popular that it was easy to craft her into farce. 

Julia finished toweling off while Briggs grabbed her basketball. “Do you want a game? Larousse and Yu should be getting off soon and we can do doubles.” 

“I need to call my brother, but I’ll be down in a second,” Julia told her. Briggs shrugged and grinned. 

“Blow him a kiss for me.”

“Fuck off.” 

XXX

The quarters on the Bastille were serviceable, if old-fashioned, a relic of the period they originated in. Julia kept banging her hip on the cold metal desk, which was just a sheet of steel that jutted out of the wall, soldered on. Everything about the room was far more authoritarian than anything the Federation designed now. 

Julia replicated herself a small bowl of pistachio ice cream while waiting for the connection. They were rationed 4gb of data per day and most of hers went to dessert and her calls back to earth. She’d put in a token bet on if Blanche was going to come out as dating his bandmate but didn’t have any real hope of winning.

“Hey! How’s it going Jewels?” Jerome was flushed and smirking when he picked up a clear sign that he’d recently gotten laid. Julia rolled her eyes. 

“Not as good as it’s going for you, apparently. Who was it this time?”

Jerome winked. “Not telling. You wouldn’t know him anyway.” 

Julia wrinkled her nose but dropped it. Same old Jerome. “Fine. How’s Aspen? Is she psyched for Blanche’s concert?”

For a moment Jerome looked blank. “Oh uh. You know I don’t know if she’s going to see it. We’ve been pretty busy here.” 

Julia laughed. “What? At Middleham? What, too many school field trips to handle? Chasing aliens away from the moat?” 

“Middleham doesn’t have a moat,” Jerome corrected her automatically. Julia rolled her eyes again.

“Oh right.” She let the silence linger for a beat before sighing. “So are you going to tell me why you’re busy or what?”

There was a flash of an expression she’d never seen on her twin’s face. Panic. Jerome was supposed to be the charming, romantic one of the two, the one who thought on his feet and used his charm to get in and out of sticky situations. 

“Jerome?” She asked again when he was quiet for too long. 

“We’re having some renovations done to the castle. Jones is freaking out about it, working me and Aspen to the ground. There’s all kinds of people hanging around now,” he finally said. His voice was calm and the cadence natural. He even met her eyes. 

“Jerome.” Her voice came out like the whip-crack she’d never heard except for in movies. 

He sighed. “I’m being real with you, Jewels. We’re having renovations, there’s a bunch of strangers in the castle, that’s it. Please, can we talk about something else? How’s it going with your posting?”

Julia could feel it deep in her gut that she shouldn’t let him off the hook. If she pressed Jerome long enough he’d cave to her, like he always did. But there was that expression, the look in his eyes. Whatever was happening at Middleham, it wasn’t for her to know. 

“It’s going alright. It’s been uneventful for the most part. I haven’t seen my CO for like, a week now but I think we’re being farmed out to Miller anyway- oh fuck!”

On-screen, Jerome was wearing a similar look of alarm, not amusement like she’d expected for her slip up. It was pretty common for Julia to usually forget about Chikara’s NDA and accidentally blurt out scuttlebut to her family. It was how Jerome found about Chikara’s impending marriage a month before the official press release.

“I didn’t say that!” She said quickly. “Forget it, Jerome.” 

Typically he would, with a grin and wink. But now his eyes were large and she could see where a vein ticked in his forehead. 

“Did you say Miller, like,” he glanced over his shoulder and leaned into the screen, “Like Rainbow Miller?”

Julia shook her head frantically but it was too late. Jerome groaned and leaned back, rubbing a hand over his face. He looked up at the ceiling and muttered something that the audio didn’t catch. He looked back at the screen. 

“Okay. Is there any way you can tell me where you are?”

XXX

“Jewels, you’re late. Get over here and help me against Yu!”

Julia is distantly aware of putting on the best performance of her life. Her body moves on autopilot, grab the ball, pivot on one foot, bounce it under Yu’s legs right to Briggs. She smiles when her partner shoots and yep, scores. 

In her head, she’s a wreck. 

Jerome had told her the most ridiculous story. Dead white men, up and walking around? Some bizarre experiment that Miller had done, or maybe it was aliens or whatever. Now they’re being hunted by Chikara, the Federation’s most loyal supporter, President Zhu’s strong right arm to keeping the Federation peaceful and orderly.

She’d kidnapped him off the fucking street, in broad daylight, as he screamed. Jerome sent the security footage you saw the panic in his actions, the same that he had when you’ve grabbed him. Shorn and isolated and oh god…

Julia didn’t believe him at first. Miller was up here because she was running secret experiments, Government Eyes Only. Where else would they hide, then in the Bastille? Who would investigate this lonely place willingly? It was a test on a rogue AI, ensuring that it’s wasn’t really developing past its programming. Everyone had stories about an android with so much personality you could swear it was living.

It wasn’t saline, those were tears. It wasn’t a new nitro mix for fuel it was a liquid food, it wasn’t an injection it was cold-blooded torture. I’m a fucking monster.

As soon as Julia had been convinced, something that only her brother could do, she’d confessed everything that had happened, the cold sweat of disgust all over her body. The ice cream melted as she cried, Jerome trying to tell her that she couldn’t possibly know, this was something that Chikara and Miller cooked up. She gasped out what had happened, what they were doing to the man. Jerome’s face had paled and he scrubbed a hand over his face. The warning that they had used up almost all of Julia’s data made them both jump. 

“Look. You can’t let Chikara and Miller know that you know, or that I know. Just…play along.”

“Play along?!” Julia shrieked. “We fucking used a high-pressure hose on him today! I’m don’t want to-”

“Two minutes.” The computer’s smooth voice cut across Julia’s hysteria.

“You’re going to have to, otherwise Chikara will have us all up there, Jewels. Please,” Jerome begged. “I’m going to tell Magpie and we’ll make a plan to rescue him. You won’t have to do it very long.”

“It’s the goddamn Bastille,” Julia snarled, tears dripping onto her console. “You don’t just fly up here and ask nicely to be let in.”

“One minute.”

“We’ll make a plan. Play along. I’ll make sure to keep you out if it. Just promise me you won’t try and interfere with Chikara or Miller. Promise me?”

Julia hesitated. Her heart was shredded. Her trust in her brother, her loyalty to the Federation and Chikara, her horror at what she’d unknowingly done. The knowledge was a fork, the tines pulling through her tender soul. 

“Promise!” Jermone barked.

Julia jumped and eyed the countdown. “Fine, I promise. Just, get up here soon please?” She begged. 

Jerome breathed a sigh and smiled. “I will. I love you.”

The feed cut out. 

XXX

Robespierre seemed to be wilting. His already pale skin was becoming translucent, sapped of vitamin D. His eyes were bloodshot and swollen, the green of his eyes disappeared behind the black. He didn’t react when Rain poked him with a needle. If it weren’t for his rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing, he could be mistaken for a corpse. 

“We’re going to have to change the fuel,” Rain tsked. It was simply easier to allow the indulgent fantasy of a broken android than waste her breath on the guards. She stood up from her crouch and nodded. “Grab him and let’s go.” 

One of them moved promptly but there was a moment of hesitation from the other. She glanced at Rain before reaching for Robespierre. 

“Is there an issue?” 

She startled and adjusted her grip on Robespierre, tightening on his arms. “No Ma’am.” 

Rain watched her carefully before turning on her heel to lead them from the cell. So far no one had raised any objections, there had been no suspicions on her conduct. Rain guessed that Chikara had ordered this silence.

“Pin him down.” 

Robespierre struggled weakly. “Non. Non. Arretez.” Rain wondered if she should have numbed his vocal cords again.

Once again the guard shows just the flicker of hesitancy but Rain seriously considered throwing her from the room anyway. Or telling Chikara.

Robespierre gagged around the tubing, convulsing before going limp and shutting his eyes tightly. Rain messed with the recipe and it’s slightly thicker when she poured it down the funnel. Robespierre gagged again when it hit his stomach. Rain can see the tremors in his hand as he flexed his fingers around the arms of the chair. 

She watched carefully as she flushed the mixture with water, looking at the guards. One of them, a shorter more muscular woman from the independent State of Texas watched with barely concealed boredom, her eyes glazed over. The other one, taller and lithe, was standing at stiff attention. She wasn’t shivering or fidgeting, but there was a deliberate control in her stance. 

Rain sat back after she finished. The taller guard moved to unbind Robespierre. 

“Stop. We’ll leave it like this for a bit.” 

There, in the girl’s eyes was what Rain was looking for. Panic, fear, anger. She almost smiled. I see you figured it out. But were you smart enough to see it or did you have help?

“You’re dismissed. We’ll come back for it at,” it was just after six, “two hundred hours.” 

“What? That’s two hours!” She blurted out and Rain made a show of blinking in surprise.

“Yes. It doesn’t have anywhere to be. I’m running a simulation and need to check on in. Check the perimeter and then we’ll take the android back two hours,” she said, shrugging lightly. “I do have other things to do up here you know.”

For one moment Rain was sure the girl was going to refuse, her eye’s quickly flickering over the tube that was still running down Robespierre’s throat. But she and other guard gave a crisp salute and matched out the door.

Rain flicked off the light as she left, considering her next move.      

Season Two. Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part One.

Episode Fourteen: Crime. Part One.

Maximilien was woken suddenly by the lights flickering on, painfully bright. He tried to turn his head towards the wall but the white tile simply reflected the light and he groaned.

His eye sight had always been questionable, but in bright light it degraded to the point when he wasn’t even able to make out simply shapes or judge distance. Here, the world was nothing more than a white blur.

Max’s arms were still secured around his back and he wasn’t confident he could right himself without doing serious harm to his shoulders. So he simply rocked back on his heels and sat back. His stomach growled. It seemed like it had been a very long time since he’d eaten the bread that Richard had taken from Rain’s house.

He put aside the ache in his legs and stomach and closed his eyes, blocking out the worst of the painful light.

Under his breath he began to recite, “Men, be kind to your fellow-men; this is your first duty, kind to every age and station, kind to all that is not foreign to humanity.”

XXX

Rain was awake with the hypothetical sun, newly showered and dressed in one of the Bastille’s uniforms. She sipped her coffee and watched Robespierre, who had hardly moved from his corner. She frowned and zoomed the feed in on his face.

“Audio?”

The computer beeped in compliance and she listened carefully. Hardly louder than a whisper, Robespierre was speaking, “What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”

“What’s he doing?” The young female guard, Jerkins, asked.

“Experimental android protocol. He’s reciting his last orders,” Rain mumbled distractedly.

She glanced over and saw Jerkins frowning ever so slightly.

“Aren’t you supposed to be doing something? Like rounds?” Rain flicked her hand at the young woman.

Jerkins frowned but stiffly turned around and the gentle hiss of the doors marked her exit. Rain sighed and looked back at the screen. Robespierre was still mumbling under his breath.

Rain tilted her head and brought up his biographical information. “Born in Arras, lawyer, revolutionary, blah, blah, blah, off with his head. Hmm. Who is this?” She tapped under the relations tab and scrolled through a list of family and friends. “I didn’t know you had siblings. Let’s see what else you’re hiding shall we, Maximilien?”

A half an hour later, Rain was still glued to the screen eyes flick over the text rolling by. She didn’t notice the hiss of the doors again. However she nearly hit Chikara with her cane when the short woman bent over her and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Spirits!! Don’t do that! Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to sneak up on people?”

Chikara leveled a flat look at her. Rain sneered back.

“Doctor, the only reason I’m allowing this freedom right now is so you will figure what to do about the problem you caused, now tell me, what are you doing?”

“Keep your skirt on. I’m looking through his biography, seeing who he was close to, what he liked to do, what he hated.”

“What’s the point of doing this? Are you deliberately trying to-” Chikara started, a ferocious snarl on her face.

“Well I can’t very well break him if I don’t know him!” Rain snapped. “If I don’t know how to manipulate his emotions than all we’ll do is hurt him physically. We need to get inside his head, figure out his regrets, his internal dissent. And then we can start, and not before I say!” Rain stood up, fairly towering over the much shorter Chikara.

However the Major didn’t flinch and steeped closer to the scientist. “You do not give the orders here Doctor Miller. You will listen to me, and now you will follow this order, I want your plan for him by the end of the cycle.”

The two women stared at each other, each with mounting dislike. Finally Rain slowly sat down.

“Yes, Major Haruka.”

XXX

Richard woke suddenly, from what felt like a dreamless sleep. He blinked, and for one moment felt incredibly disoriented by the familiar surroundings. However the sounds the sounds were all wrong. There was no gentle clattering of the black smith or the chatter of servants. It was nearly silent in the keep.

Richard dressed in the same clothes he’d been wearing since they’d left Rain and went downstairs. There was no one around and Richard walked through the grand hall, running his hand along the table. It was polished to a high shine and the grain was so smooth Richard could hardly feel it.

He crossed over to the strange hole in the wall that dispensed food and clothing and stared at it.

“Alright, you enchanted wreckage. It’s just you and I now,” he told it. The glowing stone panel didn’t make any noise, but Richard scowled regardless. He raised his hand and braced himself for battle.

Ten minutes later, after an extended spar, he finally had a plate of small cakes, something called ‘syrup’ and a dozen pieces of salted and fried pork belly.

“I’m glad we could come to an understanding,” he smirked at the machine. It beeped submissively.

He sat down at the table and began to eat.

He was through his stack of cakes, his fingers stick with the syrup when Leonardo arrived. His brown hair was damp and even curlier as a result. He was also wearing new clothes as well.

“Where did you get those?” Richard asked in lieu of greeting. Leonardo blinked at him.

“From the replicator, in my rooms. Don’t you have one?”

“What?” Richard scowled. “No I didn’t.”

“Oh. Perhaps you can ask Magpie for a change. I don’t know how many rooms with replicators there might be.”

Leonardo shrugged and wandered around the room, examining the wall tapestries and the panels embedded in the stonework.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Richard asked, swallowing a bite of the pork. He dragged it through the syrup. It was fairly palatable, he thought.

Leonardo shrugged again, fingers working over the panel. “If I get hungry I suppose…”

They both turned when the far door, the one that was made of metal, not wood, opened and Aspen Strong walked in, brushing her real hand through the myriad of tiny and dyed braids she had. She was mid yawn when she caught sight of them and her eyes opened wide.

She coughed. “Oh my god I almost forgot you guys were here! Good morning.”

“You forgot you had the risen dead in your protection?” Leonardo said dryly and Richard snorted. Aspen grinned and put her metal hand on her hip.

“It was easier to write it off as a dream, believe me. Anyway, is anyone else here yet?”

Richard shook his head. “I haven’t seen anyone.”

Aspen nodded and walked over to the machine. “Magpie will be here soon. They’ll want to talk to you both, one on one. Then Kami and Harm will want to show you the program we used to find you.”

She laughed, and tapped a button on the machine, which chirped happily. She took out a mug.

“Do either of you drink coffee? I take it like a weakling with a lot of cream and sugar but I think it’s gross otherwise.”

“Sugar?” Leonardo asked, interest piqued. Aspen grinned and handed over another mug. Which just meant that Richard also had to have it.

By the time Magpie, with Harm and Kami arrived, Aspen, Leonardo and Richard were had lined up a dozen coffee mug and aspen was explain what was in each and having them try it.

“Spirits! You’re going to give them a heart attack, Aspen!” Magpie fretted.

Aspen waved them off. “They’re fine, there’s not that much espresso in it.”

Richard was beginning to feel rather odd, and shook his head. Leonardo’s eyes were rather wide.

Magpie glared at Aspen and swept up all the cups. “We’re not here for this, and we’ll get them introduced to modern food gradually. Today I want to show them Harm’s program.”

Richard nodded and they followed Magpie up the stairs, to where Harm was already setting up. The dark skinned man grinned at them.

“Welcome to the historical figure finder!”

Aspen snorted. “You’re gonna want to work on that name.”

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Nine: Lions and Tigers and Boars. Part Three.

PART THREE.

Ava slowly crept out from under the bed in Richard’s room.

Strangers had been in the house, smelling of ozone and metal. They’d taken Rain away.

She slowly nosed the door open, smelling the air. The men were gone too, and from the way Pallas’s human had said goodbye, they weren’t coming back.

The pack was alone.

The other dogs were creeping out from where they’d been hiding. Pallas was carrying a scrap of fabric in her teeth. When Bobby tried to sniff it, the poodle growled so furiously that the boarder collie yipped and backed away into the wall, tail tucked.

“What happened?” Baby asked, crouched low to the floor, shaking. “Where’s Rain?”

“Gone. She was taken by the strangers.” Berwald growled. The German Shepard shook himself, hopping from one front paw to another. “Alpha, we should leave now. Rain is gone, and the house is empty. We will never have a better chance to run.” At this the pack burst in a flurry of barks and howls. Ava ignored them, sniffing the ground. She could smell the men, and the under lying sense of fear. They thought they were going to be hunted. She shook her tail. Well if it was hunt they wanted, a hunt they would receive.

“We are leaving.” Her announcement quieted the rest of her pack. Norma jumped off the table, where she’d been lying.

“Where are we going to go, Ava? Where can we go?” The little corgi demanded.

Ava turned and bounded over to the door, energy suddenly filling her. She clawed it open, uncaring of the way her claws scratched the door. There was no need for secrecy now.

It opened and a fading light filled the hallway. It would be sunset soon, all the better for them.

“We’re going to go after the men!” She crowed. “We’re going to rejoin with them. They are our humans now.”

Pallas dropped the fabric she’d been clutching. Ava now realized it was a piece of one of shirts that the small, sickly, Robespierre had worn.

“The men? My human?” She demanded. Ava shook herself in excitement, tail going faster.

“Yes. We leave at sunset. Everyone should eat. Norma, use the food maker.” She ordered. Ava turned to face the sun, the wind blowing the scent of many animals, humans, things, over her. Out there somewhere, she could feel the pull of her human, of Richard.

I’ll find you. And then we’ll run.

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Eight: Eschewal. Part Three.

Part Three.

It took a long time to convince Richard back into his chair, and even longer to get Robespierre unstuck from the wall but it was eventually accomplished.

“How did you find me?” Rain asked Maltass. They had been plied with a tall glass of iced water.

“Doctor Pless admitted what had happened almost immediately. Because this is sacred knowledge, I was the only one who could handle this discreetly.” They scowled at Rain. “Aliens are not supposed to know how to use our technology. If you do not return all of our data and technology the treaty with your Federation will be nullified.”

Maltass curled they’re lips back. “The Komali have superior technology. If you do not surrender everything you stole, most assuredly we will make you surrender it by force.”

“And the men?” Rain asked calmly. She placed her hands around her coffee cup to keep them steady.

“Yes, you’ll need to surrender them as well.”

“What will happen to them?” She noticed Leonardo, Richard and Maximilien straighten up, staring at her with wide eyes.

They knew nothing about this world. They were powerless. Helpless. She’d probably killed them all over again by doing this.

They’d never survive.

“Of course we cannot let this indiscretion get back to our government. They will be taken and disposed of.”

XXX

“And the men?” Rain asked calmly.

Richard noticed that her hands were shaking.

“Yes, you’ll need to surrender them as well.”

“What will happen to them?” Rain continued to speak as if Leonardo, Robespierre and Richard were not sitting there with them.

“Of course we cannot let this indiscretion get back to our government. They will be taken,” Richard stiffened and Robespierre drew a sharp breath, “And disposed of.”

Rain nodded slowly, her eyes staring unblinking at the Ambassador. “I…see.” With the tiniest of head movement’s she looked at Richard, and in that brief moment of eye contact, the ex-King understood what he had to do.

The ambassador was looking around at them all. “Well? Do you want to-” their sentence was cut off as Richard swiftly stood up and the crushing force grabbed the alien’s head and brought it down to meet the kitchen table with a sickening crunch. The ambassador did not move when Richard let go of its head.

Rain surveyed the whole scene without moving a muscle even as Robespierre and Leonardo jumped.

Richard turned to Rain.

“Would you like me to do the same to you or, do you have a sedative to take?”

Rain considered it for a moment. “You know, I think I will take the sedative. I’ll be back in moment.”

She got up and limped towards the back of the house. Richard nodded his head decisively. He started moving around the kitchen, opening drawers and cabinets and pulling out the sparse amount of shelf stable food Rain kept on hand.

“What are you doing?” Robespierre asked, still staring, horror struck at the unconscious alien on the table. “You might have killed him!”

“I didn’t do it that hard,” Richard said gruffly. He was pulling out knives from the knife block and selected a paring knife, which he slipped into boot and the chopping knife, which he placed in the small pile of food he was gathering.

“You’re running away.” Leonardo stated calmly.

“I am. You heard the ambassador, their intention is to kill us. I won’t be here when they turn up with reinforcements.”

Leonardo titled his head, watching as Richard struggled with the replicator. He hissed when it beeped a negative at him again.

“Blasted machines.”

Leonardo went over and calmly punched in the access code. “It should work now.”

Richard looked at him suspiciously. “What?”

“Take us with you,” Leonardo said.

“What?” Richard said, incredulously.

Robespierre also looked up, surprise all over his face.

“You said it yourself, they intend to kill us. You are clearly the expert at surviving on the lam, I understand this technology the best of the three of us, and Ma- Robespierre is the only one who has studied the maps of this city. Out best chance of survival is to work together.”

Richard looked Leonardo up and down.

“You can come. He stays.” He tilted his head, indication the Frenchman. However before Robespierre could protest, Leonardo frowned and grabbed Richard’s wrist in a vice grip.

“No. Both of us, or I will go nowhere.”

Richard grunted, his fingertips going oddly numb as Leonardo steadily increased pressure. He grittted his teeth, staring down Leonardo, who did not even flinch.

“Fine. But if he slows us down, I’m leaving both of you,” Richard finally conceded. Leonardo let go of his wrist and smiled charmingly.

“You’ll hardly noticed us.”

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.