Robespierre had just rejoined them, and Richard was sharply reminded of how much he disliked the diminutive Frenchman when he limped his way up from the kitchens, into the grand entrance. He clutched the heavy shawl around his shoulders. He also wore a pair of heavily tinted glasses. He looks the part of a beggar, Richard thought. Robespierre hair had also been shaved down to the scalp and it appeared to grow like a wild hedge.
“Cold,” he rasped. Richard had heard that something happened to his throat, reducing his voice to whisper.
“Yes, it is rather. Here,” Russo pushed a cup of tea over to him. “You’ll warm up.”
Richard rolled his eyes. Across from him Bonaparte had stood up to sit down next to Robespierre, who looked up at him. Bonaparte bent toward him, whispering something that Richard couldn’t hear but made Robespierre suddenly smile widely, stretching the scars over his face.
“Aw, that’s sweet,” Aspen Strong said. She was seated next to Richard, also watching as Bonaparte and Robespierre bonded over something.
Richard snorted and Strong nudged him playfully. “Come on. He was such a soggy plum after we got him back. Frankly this is way better.”
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Napoleon had always awoken early. He just couldn’t stand the feeling of wasting time on sleep. When he’d been on campaign, he would sometimes wake just after midnight to pour over his maps or wake his aides to send missives.
Now stuck, he still found himself waking early, wandering through the castle, often ending up in the Harmony Susuki’s study, where he could easily spend hours reading through the various war reports that had happened since his death.
Typically, one of the women would find him, chin propped on his hand, staring unblinkingly at the diagrams of battles long won.
However, for once he was interrupted by something far more interesting: raised voices outside of the door. Napoleon leaned back in the chair, looking over at the door.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Jerome? You don’t-“
“I have to do this, Mags. It won’t take a genius to put together that Julia’s source is me. Since Miller saw Aspen they’re definitely going to know we had something to do with this if I stick around.”
There was silence. Napoleon, cognizant of the creaking chair, stood up and padded over the door.
“We’ll miss you. Everyone,” Jones said quietly. The tall negro was facing away from Napoleon, but he could see Jenkins face. The young man ran a hand over his face and sighed.
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Maxime was drowning in blood.
It was in his mouth, his throat. The very smell made his eyes water and churned his stomach. He was trapped wherever he was, standing in a warm pool of blood that he couldn’t avoid getting into his mouth.
He wanted to scream. But he didn’t dare open his mouth, for fear of all of it flooding it into him. Then, much to his horror, he could feel it creep up his face. Into his nose, leaking into his mouth past his lips and clenched teeth. It stung as it got into his eyes, warm and salty as tears.
He was fully swallowed in it before he finally decided to just open his mouth and let it happen.
Maximilien woke with a gasp.
He failed under an unfamiliar weight. Something was covering him from neck to feet and he couldn’t claw his way out from under it.
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Episode Twenty One – Dante in Hell.
A/N: Specially formatted extra-long episode! Aspen Strong: Secret Agent: The Movie.
This was such a terrible idea, Aspen thought to herself.
She was barely floating along, using just enough of a propulsion to gently drift towards the Bastille, which loomed ever closer. The red emergency lighting made all the blue controls on her panel pop, but only served to remind her that she couldn’t use any of them. If the Bastille detected any unauthorized ship coming towards them and inquired, it would ruin everything.
Such a bad, bad idea. Why didn’t I leave for Mars?!
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Once Maximilien had given Charlotte and Henriette one of his beloved doves to care for. A moment of childish negligence and the poor bird was dead.
He’d given Camille to Georges for careful keeping in the way he needed to be watched and as a lamb taken in by a lion, Camille had been destroyed.
He’d carefully helped craft a document to free France from her chains and within months seen it betrayed and violated.
Maximilien’s whole life was a constant cycle of destruction. He would nurture and build only to see it pulled apart like cooked meat as soon as he turned his attention away.
Something must have been wrong with him, if Maxime could never care for things the way they needed to be cared for. Now, he was being punished for it.
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Richard longed for a paper book.
The slick glass tablets, thin a piece of parchment, did not hold the same feeling of satisfaction as holding a page and turning it to reveal the next. The slippery action of sliding his fingers along the screen was too fast, too immaterial.
Richard did take solace in the fact that there now there was much more to read, indeed more than he ever thought he could read if given another ten lifetimes, but bitterly longed for paper.
He’d remained in his room, today. The atmosphere of the castle was distinctly cold since the discussion of Robespierre. Leonardo had been his usual distant self, only conversing with the guards and the staff in tense, quiet tones. Bonaparte, too, had been quiet, reading and mumbling to himself in a corner of the solar lounging in a chair with his feet to the fire.
Richard had no desire to speak to this self proclaimed Emperor of the French. He did not seek out the company of Leonardo. He felt the quiet disdain of the staff and guards. Richard, as he had for so much of his life, had no company but himself.
He sat in his room and studied the grounds instead. The weather had stripped the leaves from the trees and he felt that there was snow on the way. Richard had noticed that it seemed to roll in harshly, unexpectedly. He shuddered. Were the seasons not even a constant he could depend on, anymore?
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Leonardo didn’t know what to think anymore. It was…unnerving.
This evening’s revelations had left everyone subdued. Richard had left for the chapel, where he spent most of his time and Napoleon left for Harmony’s office, muttering something about world war.
Leonardo was left alone in his room, his hands and mind restless. He considered seeking out Jerome but discarded it the idea immediately. Jerome hadn’t even looked at him as he left the grand hall this evening, distracted by his sister in trouble.
So Leonardo paced the floor and thought.
Robespierre was imprisoned and apparently injured. The Bastille, the moon prison that Napoleon had been so certain was destroyed, was impregnatable. That sounded like a likely place to start. He took up the small electric tablet and laboriously typed in Bastille.
The moon prison was the most prominent result. Examining it, Leonardo did have to reluctantly admit that it seemed to be impossible to either escape or board. It reminded him of a large, segmented tube. There were few windows to the darkness outside of the Bastille and no doors. Leonardo gathered that to gain access you would need to dock on some unseen portal. He begrudgingly admitted this seemed reasonable. If you were a suspicious prince you would want to disguise the entrance, just to make it less appetizing to attack.
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