pro_patria_mortuus: (let us welcome it gladly)
Yesterday was a long and exceedingly strange day.

But it ended with reunion, and one more friend here, long-lost, and with all the joy and celebration that accompanies that. Even the next morning, the sunlight seems brighter for the memory.
pro_patria_mortuus: (je ne comprends pas)
When Enjolras and Bahorel return from a sparring session to room 89, it's with the idea of the loan of a book, and drinks, and doubtless conversation. It turns out, however, that Joly and Combeferre are already in the room.

This is fine, of course; it's no trouble whatsoever. And the rooms are as much Combeferre's as Enjolras's. It's only that Combeferre and Joly are elbows-deep in some kind of experimentation which distracts a certain amount of attention.

There are weird devices that beep and blink with multicolored lights. There are wires and whirring noises. There's a green liquid that's steaming somewhat ominously, although Joly catches Enjolras's glance and assures them both in a bright voice that it's perfectly safe. (Bahorel looks faintly disappointed to hear it.) There's Combeferre's pterosaur specimen, decanted from its jar and hooked up to one of the weird devices, which is producing a warbling wail like a drunken songbird.

It's not worth asking about the experiment just yet, let alone inquiring what world and time those mechanisms might have come from. Enjolras leaves Bahorel to ask anyway, and poke at things, and generally make a nuisance of himself. He himself goes to wash up.

A few minutes later, in shirtsleeves with a freshly washed face and hands, he returns to the main room. He's just in time to see a fountain of brightly colored steam shoot for the ceiling. The little devices are shrieking and warbling, and Joly makes a startled sound -- Enjolras has covered the distance to the table, he's reaching to pull them away, whoever's nearest, out of danger -- but just as his hand closes on Combeferre's sleeve, either his vision wobbles or the air itself does, and they're somewhere else.

Quiet falls like a weight. The table with its devices and bubbling liquid and pickled pterosaur is still there, but the devices have gone silent. Joly is here, Bahorel, Combeferre; his arm is solid under Enjolras's hand.

But under their feet is lush greenery. Strange plants surround them, and a blue sky overhead. The air is warm and swampy and full of unfamiliar odors. There are buzzing noises, and a clattering of strange insects, and somewhere far off a bleat deeper than any sheep or goat. No walls. No buildings; no civilization; no humans in sight, except their little cluster. Nothing familiar at all.

For a heartbeat, they're all wide-eyed.

Then Bahorel is shouting with laughter, and Joly exclaiming and Combeferre starting to sputter questions.

Suddenly there's a loud buzz, and a large dark shape falls from the sky in a rapid, erratic path. Enjolras pushes forward on instinct, putting himself in front of Combeferre, sees Bahorel doing the same--

And they're back in his familiar room at Milliways, just as they were, except that there's a beetle the size of a small dog on the table, tucking its wings away.

(It's only later that any of them will realize just how many days passed in the course of those few moments. This is why you shouldn't play with pterosaur corpses and time-manipulation devices you don't fully understand, kids!)
pro_patria_mortuus: (Default)
Dear M. Fauchelevent,

I have recently been informed of certain matters which are of interest to you as well, and of which I believe you should be made aware. This is nothing urgent, I assure you, so far as I'm aware. Please find me at your convenience. My room number is 89. I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Jean-Sébastien Enjolras
pro_patria_mortuus: (the people have not stirred)
[Just before: bringing unwelcome news to Valjean.]

It's very warm indoors, after the chill and quiet of the lake and the tension of that conversation. The café hubbub is like a heavy weight in the air. Enjolras stops by Bar to retrieve his note to Valjean. It's irrelevant now.

Then he goes upstairs to room 89.

Combeferre is in the bathroom doing something probably experimental with the still's piping, to judge by the clank of metal and the way the copper boiler is currently gurgling. Good. Enjolras would have gone in search of him or Courfeyrac or Feuilly before long, otherwise. But he doesn't need to disturb his friend immediately. His presence nearby is comfort.

He hangs up overcoat, hat, coat. Removes his gloves, props his walking stick against a table. There's a fire lit; this room is warm too, but it's cozy now rather than oppressive.

He drops into a chair with a weariness he didn't let himself acknowledge around Valjean. The old man's pain and fear and weariness mattered far more, then. Now Enjolras rests his elbows on his knees and, just for a few moments, his forehead on folded hands, and breathes out.

It's done, at least.
pro_patria_mortuus: (je ne comprends pas)
[A moment ago: approaching the Labyrinth.]

Bahorel enters, and with a shrug Feuilly follows. Enjolras pockets his watch and follows after them, ball of string in hand.

He finds himself on a broad flat plain of sun-bleached grass, strewn about with huge stones as if a giant had scattered seeds upon it. The sky is just as bleached, a pale and disconcerting greenish shade, without a cloud upon it. The air's warm and moist as spring.

Bahorel and Feuilly are nowhere to be seen.
pro_patria_mortuus: (Default)
"Please keep an eye on your watch," Combeferre requested. "I'd like to try using the watches to communicate with you from the Labyrinth. I want to test it and see if it works."

Enjolras dutifully kept an ear out for the watch's speaking chime, and checked it occasionally as well, just in case he had failed to hear it. He received one message, fairly promptly, saying that Combeferre believed they were approaching the Labyrinth. Then, what seemed to be hours, at least insofar as one can tell at Milliways. (Despite his occasional absent-minded checking, Joly's watches are useless for timetelling purposes.) Then another message: this one brief, reassuringly calm and cheerful, and apparently from inside the Labyrinth, but with sound that came and went like a candle flickering in wind.

For the rest of the night, nothing more.

Time at Milliways is strange. Enjolras knows that. Time in the forest is even stranger; he knows that too. If there's no particular evidence they're safe, neither is there particular evidence they're in danger.

All the same. He doesn't sleep well; he wakes at every noise that might possibly be a chime. In the early morning, he goes to find Feuilly.

Feuilly is answers the door with a book in one hand and his hair standing on end, looking as if he's been awake for some time, which is either an indication that Milliways time is being peculiar again or merely an indication that it's an interesting book. When the situation at hand has been discussed in as much detail as possible, they spend a little while longer discussing the Soviet Union, with watches open on the table beside them.

The watches don't chime.

Their course of action is clear. The conversation lulls; Enjolras picks up his watch, moves the hands to 12, speaks into it to everyone who's listening. He waits for an answer from the Labyrinth too, and hears only from Bahorel, in his room down the hall and eager for the advenutre of a rescue mission.

Grantaire doesn't answer, but apparently he's listened to the little voice-message that's left behind, because when the others gather by Bar, he's there too. He blinks at them with his usual faint bleariness, but follows along readily as they start across the lawn, making for the trees. It's good to see. Grantaire cares about his friends, that's always been plain to see, but it's good to see him acting usefully on their behalf as well.

Bahorel has a large pack. Enjolras hasn't inquired into its contents.

Grantaire has a bottle. Enjolras hasn't inquired into its contents either, although in this case it's easy to guess.

He's never ventured through the Labyrinth's doors, but he does know more or less where it is. Bahorel likewise, it seems. It's some ways along, where the forest meets the mountains.
pro_patria_mortuus: (to days gone by)
In Room 89, the television is on. Courfeyrac has been mastering the arcane mysteries of the remote control.

Previously, this meant a great deal of switching between channels at random intervals; Enjolras arrived in the middle of this exercise, and settled down with a book and his thoughts to affectionately ignore Courfeyrac's entertainment. (It was a bit like being in a mostly empty café or near an open window, except that the sound abruptly flickered to a new scene every so often.) But then Courfeyrac found a show created by the Tourism Board of France.

Right now, a cheerful woman's voice is explaining the Lemon Festival of Menton.
pro_patria_mortuus: (guide and chief)
Enjolras has, over his months here, gotten more or less accustomed to conversations with Bar. With Combeferre looking on in fascination, however, he's newly reminded of the depth of peculiarity inherent in a discussion in which one half of the dialogue comes in the form of notes in orange crayon (and legible but extremely strange and rather childish handwriting, to 19th century eyes) written on small paper napkins.

Nonetheless, the conversation is reasonably productive. Their request -- primarily Combeferre's request, though Enjolras raised the question with Bar -- was for either more shelving to be installed in their current room, or for a larger room intended for two and with enough storage space for the collection of oddities and equipment Combeferre is likely to keep amassing.

"And no cherubs," Combeferre added. "If you please."

Bar indicated, via orange notes, that shelving would be possible, but that a larger room was equally possible and likely more useful, and that she suggested examining the options to see if they would suit. It's fair enough, Enjolras has to admit. If none of them seem workable -- for example if every large room involves blue and cherubs or Bahorel's rocks-and-red-velvet... thing -- then they can always return to request shelves and any other modifications Combeferre would prefer.

So Combeferre and Enjolras are now making their way through the upstairs hallway comparing room numbers with those inscribed on a ring of keys.
pro_patria_mortuus: (to days gone by)
There are a few exercise rooms scattered about Milliways, of various sorts and various levels of formal construction. A room with weights and a punching bag; a room with mirrors and a barre and strict signs about which shoes one is permitted to wear; a room with fewer mirrors, a closet full of various kinds of padding, another closet with practice implements like rods of wood and bamboo, a wood floor, mats of strange blue plastic to unfold or ignore.

It's in the last of these that Enjolras and Bahorel have been recently engaged in vigorous (and friendly) attempts to pummel each other.
pro_patria_mortuus: (Default)
Enjolras asked the bar for enough dinner for two or three, something that would keep for a while if required to, and received a basket. He hasn't investigated its contents. Instead, he just thanked Bar and went upstairs to put it in his room, and then to see whether Combeferre had gotten lost in the library or the infirmary.

As it turns out, minimal searching is required: Combeferre is in the room already.
pro_patria_mortuus: (to days gone by)
Here's a sight common to any public park of Paris in the 1830s. Two young men, friends, university students, strolling together across a grassy lawn, talking of this or that.

Granted, this is Milliways, so there are a few unusual factors. The lake contains a giant squid and at least one mermaid (neither visible now); the 'park' is a self-contained magical reproduction of a certain piece of Scotland; both young men are dead. Nonetheless.
pro_patria_mortuus: (we strive towards a larger goal)
He brings Dr. Tam's notes upstairs. He has felt like this before; he knows this lightning crackle under the skin. This feeling of too many thoughts for one mind to contain, of racing to keep up with himself, of possibilities and horizons and horrors all roiling together in a swelling cloud, bigger than one body's flesh can hold. And yet he is flesh -- now dead. There is never enough time to channel everything he wants into action. He feels detached from himself. These bones and muscles, these hands, this body that walks down a hallway and turns a key in a latch and closes a door behind itself; it will do these things, his mind is tied to these hands and eyes and tongue, but all that is Enjolras is immersed in the storm of thought.

There's a lump in his throat.

He sets the folder carefully on top of his desk.

The next step is obvious. He needs to tell Bossuet of this. They both need to understand it as completely as possible, every detail. So many lives can be saved.

He rests a hand on the desk for a long moment, looking down at the innocently closed folder with its few simply written pages inside.

Then he straightens, and picks up the folder once more, and goes to knock on Courfeyrac's door.
pro_patria_mortuus: (Default)
He hasn't been to the infirmary before. He hasn't had cause; he hasn't needed a doctor's care. He's curious, a little, but curiosity isn't sufficient reason to disturb doctors at work. They're likely busy.

Now, however, he has cause.

He knocks before he enters. Then, stepping into the doorway, looks around with interest and bafflement in equal measure.

(Tidiness is laudable, but he's never seen a doctor's belongings or office so formidably, obsessively clean.)
pro_patria_mortuus: (Default)
Bossuet is here. Grantaire deserves to be told.

For several reasons, Grantaire deserves to be told. If possible, before they encounter each other.

Accordingly, once he's seen Bossuet to his new room, Enjolras sets out in search of Grantaire. His lodgings first; if he isn't there, then the library, or the lawn after that.
pro_patria_mortuus: (Default)
[Previously: Bossuet's arrival.]

He speaks to Grantaire. Not an easy conversation for either of them, but that doesn't matter. It's necessary.

(The strangest alteration of all: in that conversation, there are feelings easier to show, easier to have understood, by Grantaire than by Bossuet. Unprecedented. But Grantaire is dead too, and knows what and whom Enjolras mourns. Bossuet comes from a time when all their closest friends were still alive, and when it seemed that unseating Charles X was all the republic needed to come to fruition, before a tyrant was replaced with his cousin.)

Then he returns to his room. There are paper and pens there already, and everything else he needs is in his head. There's work to be done.

He knows that he can't change everything he wants to change. As dearly as he would love to alter the course of June '32, to bring the insurrection to success, that's not for one man to bring about. He can't put that on Bossuet. The question isn't merely one of kindness -- it's tactics, it's principle, it's common sense.

But the barricade at the corner of the rue de la Chanvrerie. Planning -- the right push here, the right mistrust there -- can alter that.

(It feels fiercely, finally right to have this work again. This is what he's made to do; this is something that matters; this is a bright flame of hope flaring into conflagration inside his heart.)

He writes. He thinks more. The spartan, lamp-lit room around him fades away; in his head are tactics, contacts, mud and mire and gunpowder stores, the blood of his friends, all the dozens of interlocking pieces that form the puzzle of a revolution.

He sleeps, because he knows he must. But only lightly, and not for too long.

When the knock comes the next morning, he's sitting at his desk in his shirtsleeves, going over the matter yet again in his head. He rises and goes to let Bossuet in.
pro_patria_mortuus: (the people have not stirred)
[Shortly before.]

There is a table of the sort that appears in libraries everywhere: dark wood, of heavy construction, somewhat abused by pen marks and scuffs; matching chairs; a small lamp, electric, with a gold chain and a shade of green glass. A few others of its kind are placed around it, all empty. Beyond, bookshelves, lamps, shadows.

Enjolras sits straight-backed, and very still. A book lies open before him. On the visible page is a detailed account, in merciless blocks of type, of the events of 1915. He will read on -- he must read on -- but not in this moment.

His eyes are dry and burning, though his face bears the mark of earlier tears. His gaze is fixed upon a bookshelf, unseeing. In his head, in his heart, a tempest.
pro_patria_mortuus: Enjolras in profile, head bowed, rifle in hand. (marble lover of liberty)
Enjolras goes often enough to the library. Its geography is peculiar, its collection vast, its organization impenetrable; the librarians are sometimes of assistance, sometimes less so. He does not always ask. His interests are narrow, but he will read anything within them, and his spare time for reading is far more copious than he'd like. He finds books to occupy himself.

(Every library has a connection to L-Space buried deep within its stacks, but at Milliways that connection is naturally quite close to the surface. This is not a concept with which Enjolras is familiar.)

It takes him some weeks to find a French history section. He has nearly concluded that perhaps there is none when he finds it. A treasure trove. The titles stamped neatly on the spines are often heartening, often ominous.

The only thing which prevents him from immediately selecting a book is this fact: that Milliways has taught him that there are alternate worlds and alternate histories. A truth of the world, a thought experiment proven true, a vast delusion of a peculiar afterlife -- it doesn't matter, because the pragmatic fact of the matter is that not every book on this shelf will reflect the truth of what happened to the France Enjolras lived for and died in. He has no way to know which do. An author's bias is inevitable, but variation in the root facts is something quite different.

He studies the rows of books for a long time. Then he turns on his heel and walks away.

He makes very certain he remembers the location of this shelf.

Enjolras has requested news of France's future before. What Bar doles out to him is newspapers, each day's at a time, the next day's only after he's finished, a detailed but painfully slow progression through the months of 1832 and 1833. This digestible course of information has its advantages, but as a sole source it's unsatisfactory.

The conversation Enjolras holds now with a bartop and a succession of scribbled napkins is long, low-voiced, and intense. (Bar is a mechanism which he does not understand; the limits of its internal operation are fathomless. That doesn't matter either.) At the end of it, he holds a napkin with a title, author, and a numerical code which Bar assures him will signify that he has selected the correct universe's version of A Complete History of France, 1789-2200, in 3 volumes.

He returns to the library.

He locates the shelf, the book, an empty table. He starts from the beginning: the Revolution and what followed are events he knows in minute detail, but this book's account of them will give him a good idea of its author's loyalties and biases.

He has no plans to stop before he has finished.
pro_patria_mortuus: (the people have not stirred)
Room 89 is precisely as Enjolras left it. There is no layer of dust. The water still streams forth from the taps, hot and cold. His second pair of boots sit in the corner, scuffs still at heel and toe. The newspaper he last requested from Bar -- March 12, 1833 -- lies on the desk. (A pointless habit, perhaps, this reading of the news he cannot affect, at the swiftest pace Bar will dole it out to him. He maintains it. Worse than a pointless habit would be to give it up in favor of nothing.) The walls are as sparse as ever, and as clean: the makeshift flag he died with hangs as the only decoration, bullet-pierced, liberally stained with dried blood. There is no stove, but somehow the room is warm. His bed is unmade.

The paper is yellowed. His pen is clogged with dry ink. A warm woolen overcoat and muffler have insinuated themselves onto a hook behind his door. The window shows a snowy landscape.

A few hours. Four months. The blink of an eye.

What is time, after all, to the dead?

Enjolras sinks onto his bed. He rests his elbows on his knees, and closes his eyes. His hands dangle limp. They are useless here. He is useless here. There is no use to put himself to.

"Combeferre," he whispers to the empty, silent room.

Combeferre. Courfeyrac. Feuilly. Joly, Lesgles -- Bahorel -- Prouvaire --

Only silence answers him.

If he wished to delude himself, he could pretend that one of them is in the other room. That they will answer him, any moment; that any moment a warm hand might fall upon his shoulder, an arm slip round his back or tuck itself through his, an affectionate voice speak to him.

He is not that far gone. He will not wallow in pretense.

"My friends." Hot tears prickle now at his eyes. He is alone, he is tired, the world makes less and less sense here. He doesn't fight the tears. "I wish I could hear your voices."

Only silence answers.
pro_patria_mortuus: (make them bleed while we can)
The barricade is breached; the insurgency is fallen, the defense in its last moments. Enjolras has retreated with the others left alive -- few enough they are, stalwart souls, none known to him by name -- to the second floor of the Corinth. The staircase has been hacked to bits. The hole in the floor where it leads is surrounded by corpses, bleeding, sprawled, moaning, dead. The soldiers of the army and the National Guard and the Municipal Guard have the numbers. Many of them have died, many are maimed, but this ending has not been in doubt since it became clear that no reinforcements would come. A barricade cannot hold forever against a pitched assault by superior numbers and artillery. Paris didn't rise, the National Guard didn't turn in significant numbers, the people lie shivering in their bed of oppression. The only gift left to give the future is a brave death.

Courfeyrac is dead. Combeferre is dead. Joly, Bossuet, and Feuilly fell -- they are not here, they must be dead, or will be soon. Marius too. Jean Prouvaire and Bahorel died yesterday, already mourned. All his friends have fallen already. The future will dawn without them, because of them, and they are gone. Enjolras will soon follow.

Grantaire is slumped at the small table in the corner. Dead, no doubt, of a stray bullet, Enjolras thinks with a moment of sorrow. No one could sleep through this. It's a pity; this was never his fight or his dream. He should never have stayed -- but they could hardly spare men to carry him away, and what's done is done; the Republic has lost many of her children today. Around Grantaire are strewn bodies, hacked and bloody.

No more bullets, no more cartridges, no more bottles, no more swords left. Enjolras holds the stump of his carbine's barrel. It served well enough as a canne de combat, but it's shortened now: he broke the stock over the heads of soldiers trying to mount through the stairwell's hole. He shattered their heads, but most of his rifle's length has shattered too. If Enjolras is wounded he feels nothing of it. No one else is alive in this room, and the soldiers are mounting over their comrades' shoulders. They wear bloody masks of savagery; their bayonets are smeared with blood and gore; their rifles are pointed at him.

Enjolras's fingers clench tighter on his wreck of a carbine. Head high, proud in defeat, he waits.
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