The prospect of a peaceful night's sleep was dashed when Greenwald felt an arm shaking his shoulder. He blearily opened bleary eyes to see an officer standing over him. "Sir, I'm sorry to wake you, but I thought you should know. We found three of the guards at the river dead. Two of them were stabbed in the chest and the third...had half his head taken off...with what...I'm not sure. There were some tracks that came out of the river. We figure it was the person who jumped off the bridge."
The last statement caused Greenwald bolt up from his bed and grab his boots and coat. "Son of a..." How that person had survived the river was beyond him, but he knew that Ivan would want this followed up, and fast. Greenwald glanced out the window noting that the sun was maybe a half hour away from being up. "When did you find them?"
"About ten minutes ago, sir. Figured it had just happened, too. The blood was still oozing and all that. Oh, the higher ranking officers saber was taken." This caused Greenwald to stop in his haste to get dressed. 'Why would she take the saber?' It would have to be pondered later.
Greenwald shook his head and started out to the river with the other officer right behind him. It was gong to be a long day, he knew, and it hadn't even started yet.
Once she got further into the city and stumbled for the third time, Serge realized that getting back to 'home base' was going to be difficult. She could see all the Russian police staked out in corners throughout the city. Other officers were patrolling the streets like they owned them.
Getting back was going to be difficult no matter what. She couldn't just strut down the street since anyone out at this time of night, except the police, weren't supposed to be out. Taking into consideration her numb legs that were gaining feeling far too slowly for Serge's tastes, and the obvious alertness of the police, she knew that the earliest she would get back would be just before dawn.
Taking to the shadows and climbing onto the nearest roof, only slipping once on the way up, Serge began to move quietly through the shadows. After several close calls, the sky was becoming a shade of grey and Serge found herself on the roof across from the shabby building that was 'home base.'
Scanning the shadows efficiently Serge smiled when she saw what she was looking for. Invisible to anyone else, but clear as day to her, was a lookout stationed outside the building. Serge drew her knife and carefully sent out a message, taking care as to direct it to exactly where she wanted it.
Within less than a minute she received a reply and soon found herself walking down the stone steps. As soon as she reached the bottom she found her arms full of a very relieved looking blond woman. Not expecting the embrace, it took a moment before she responded and gently wrapped her long arms around the small frame. Green eyes finally looked up and locked onto blue. "You okay?" Serge nodded and started walking toward her cavern, exchanging nods with the other revolutionaries.
Catherine stood inside the cavern and watched as Serge moved around it with single minded actions. The first thing she did was dawn a dry pair of black leather trousers and another of her baggy white pirate shirts. A clean black vest was also pulled out and put on. Serge then set about resettling her various weapons and finally unwrapped the fourth bundle that had come from the ranch.
The young noblewoman was amazed to see the amount of ammunition that the small bundle held. Davis walked in just as Serge was slinging a leather loop of rifle shells across her chest. She attached two leather bags onto her loaded down belt, the contents of which could only be bullets for her two pistols.
After securing the ammo and reattaching her newly acquired saber to the belt, Serge finally acknowledged Davis' presence. The big man looked at his leader and only had to say two words. "It's time." The tall woman nodded her head and Davis smiled, having waited like everyone else for far too long.
Serge was ready to do what they had come to do. Take out the tsar, whatever the cost. She was ready and determined to reach this goal that had been present for almost half of the 27 years she had been alive. Only one more thing was nagging at her before she was ready to leave.
The lock box.
It held the answer to the largest mystery of her life. Serge didn't hold out any high hopes of surviving this revolution and she didn't want to leave this world without knowing who she really was. Her mind made up, Serge stepped toward the box and proceeded to discover the secrets it held.
Taking the key that still resided around Davis' neck, Serge knelt and unlocked the chest. Inside were stacks of paper, tied together with pieces of string.
Catherine and Davis stood off to the side watching as Serge grabbed the top stack and started scanning the writing. As the revolutionary's eyes narrowed and her chiseled features contorted into an expression of displeasure, Catherine knew that something wasn't quite right.
Serge set down the stack of paper and started digging through the chest. She paused as she came upon yet another key attached to a chain, this time silver. Shrugging, Serge took the key and looped it around her neck.
After sweeping the chest once more with her eyes, Serge stood and turned to the other occupants of the room. "Lets get this over with." With that Serge turned and left the cavern.
Curiously, Catherine approached the chest and picked up the stack that Serge had looked at, only to realize that she couldn't read it. The writing was not Russian or any other language that Catherine had ever seen. Another paper caught her attention, and Catherine bent down to grab it. Lifting it to her eyes, Catherine realized that it was written in Russian, or at least partially. All it really said, though, was that Serge was born in Moscow. 'That's now very helpful.' Catherine thought. 'Tons of people are born in Moscow!'
Shaking her head at Serge's disappointment, Catherine set the paper down and left to join everyone else in the main cavern.
When Catherine and Davis arrived in the main room everyone else had already gathered. At the front of the crowd of people stood Serge, with Bernard and Jules close by. "All right everyone, listen up. This is it. I want the first group of people I named to gather the small number of bombs we made and go to the north end of the palace. Blow them up at different places as close to the building as you can get. The point is to attract a lot of attention. However, I don't want anyone taking unnecessary risk, we wanna get through this with as little causalities as possible." Serge looked over at Catherine as she moved up beside her and gave the young woman a slight wink. Catherine smiled in response.
"The second group will go around to the west end and make a lot of noise. Do anything that will draw attention. Everyone else except Davis, Jules, Catherine, Bradstone, and myself will stay here. Anyone who gets hurt seriously enough that they can't protect themselves or your fellow revolutionary should come back here right away. Do I make myself clear?" Eighty plus heads nodded in tandem. "Good. Let's go." As people started moving around Serge grabbed Bernard's arm. He was the leader of the first group and would probably have the most dangerous job, besides Serge herself who would be going into the palace. "Bernard, don't you dare hesitate to send anyone back here who you feel can't do their job safely. Do you understand me?" Bernard nodded and Serge released his arm.
Moving through the cavern, Serge gathered her small group of people and they set out through the passageway and into the city. The first group left slightly after.
Serge was without her cane and moving quite well, Catherine was pleased to note. They would approach from the east, and as soon as the first bomb went off, Serge would start moving into the palace. The group placed themselves behind a clump of trees ten feet from the walls and crouched in silence as Serge viewed their surroundings.
Finally, motioning for Davis, Jules, and Catherine to stay in the trees and engage any Russian soldiers that looked as if they were going to interfere, Serge moved off with Bradstone.
The two crept off to a place that Bradstone had mentioned when Serge was still pondering how she was going to get into the palace. They stopped near the back of the large building where it was much closer to the surrounding walls and waited in silence for a bit. Bradstone pointed to a large window that was facing them and started to speak. "I can get you into that window. I'm not sure where you'll end up, but I've been observing it for awhile and haven't seen that much activity."
"How?" Bradstone grinned at the question and swung the pack that was on his shoulder down to the ground. He opened it to show Serge several strong ropes, a rappelling device, and a large iron hook.
"Simple. This," he raised the hook, "will get you on top of that wall. There aren't a lot of guards here so it should be pretty easy. Then just use the rappelling device to get over to the window. Heck, you might even be able to jump the distance."
"Excellent." Serge grinned and took the tools from Bradstone. "OK, when the bombs start going I'm heading to the wall. Watch my back, 'kay." Bradstone nodded, and the two sat in silence waiting for the telltale signs of explosions to send them into action.
Bernard led his group to the north end of the palace and as close to the walls as he dared. They had a total of seven bombs and plenty of people to set them off. He instructed three of them to be set really close to the walls, another two about fifteen feet from the palace, and kept the remaining two until he could see what would happen.
At the designated time, Bernard ordered for one of the further bombs to be set off. As expected, this brought a large group of soldiers out of the walls. One of the three closer bombs went off once the Russians were in range and then all hell broke loss.
More and more men started coming from the gates, but the dust and earth that had been stirred up by the explosions only confused the Russians. The revolutionaries started firing into this confusion, bringing forth more cries of men as their comrades fell and others lost limbs to stray bullets.
The mixture of explosions and gunfire didn't allow the Russians any time to get their bearings or even locate where the enemy was. Men continued to fall to the enraged people of the working class, and the stench of death swiftly descended onto the city.
On the west end of the palace the second group was picking off soldiers as they ran across the walls in frantic reaction to being under attack. The combination of the two attacking groups had the desired effect of removing attention from the east side of the large building.
"Nicholas, Nicholas, what is that sound?" Alexandra asked her husband as the loud sounds continued to break the silence in the large room containing the royal family. Nicholas walked over to his wife and looked out the large window that faced east.
"I can't see anything, so it must be happening at another end of the palace, but it sounds like explosions." Just an Nicholas said it, gunfire and human screams of agony reached their ears. Nicholas motioned his children away from the window and pulled his wife back toward the bed.
"Don't worry about it, my dear. They must be running an exercise or something." Although Nicholas sounded convinced, he was not. Truth be told, Nicholas had an overall bad feeling of the sounds that were seeping through the walls.
Just as he was starting to relax again, the door to their room burst open. Nicholas jumped to his feet and stepped in front of his wife. The tension quickly left his body as he recognized Greenwald standing before him.
The commander in chief was breathing heavily and had his revolver drawn. He also had a crumpled piece of paper clutched in one hand. Giving a clumsy salute, Greenwald started talking. "Nicholas, it is good to see you. I only wish it were under better circumstances. The city is under attack and I must get you all out of here. Immediatly!"
Nicholas nodded his head slightly and smiled at his old friend. "Greenwald, please calm down a bit. Whoever is attacking isn't here for us. Nobody knows we're here so stop panicking so much."
As Greenwald was about to say more to Nicholas the sound of breaking glass filled the room and caused the officer to turn and raise his pistol at the sound.
As soon as the first explosion ripped through the air Serge was sprinting toward the stone wall in front of her. Just as she got there and was unwrapping the large grappling hook from around her shoulder nearby gunfire and a shout caused her to turn.
Four Russian officers had come barreling around the corner. Bradstone had killed one and wounded another but had taken a bullet through the shoulder in the process. Cursing in several languages, Serge dropped the hook and pulled her revolver and hatchet.
With one shot she finished off the wounded man and was left facing two more officers. The larger man charged Serge, meaning to know her down with his size. Serge sidestepped and the Russian ran headlong into the stone wall. The second was a little smarted and raised his rifle, but Serge stepped in and swung at the gun with her hatchet. The metal weapon hooked onto the gun barrel and pulled it from the man's hands.
Slightly surprised, he missed seeing the right hook headed in his direction. A solid crunch sent the Russian to the ground. Serge's satisfaction was short lived as she felt someone moving behind her and started turning.
Halfway around Serge felt something burn across the top of her left shoulder. Not stopping in her movement Serge ignored the pain and proceeded to shoot the man in the gut. He promptly fell to the wet ground a bloody knife still clutched in his hand.
Turning back to the unconscious officer on the ground, Serge raised her revolver and shot the man in the head. She looked up at Bradstone and motioned from him to head back. The man nodded and moved back towards home base.
She spared a brief glance to Catherine, Jules, and Davis who were situated a little farther away than she remembered. She took in the smoking pistol in Davis' hand and the slumped form on the ground, coming to the conclusion that they had been flanked and so unable to lend her any assistance. Catherine glanced up and Serge caught the blond's eye. The noblewoman waved Serge on, saying that everything was fine. The revolutionary nodded and continued her task.
Serge moved back to the wall and picked up her grappling hook again. She sighed briefly as she realized that when the officer had sliced her shoulder he had also cut the rope of the rappelling device. 'Guess I'll be jumping after all.' Winding up the hook Serge stopped when her ripped vest interfered with the movement of her arm. The revolutionary removed the offending garment and dropped in on the ground.
Climbing vertically with a bleeding shoulder was not the easiest thing in the world to do, but Serge accomplished her goal and soon found herself standing on top of the wall. She was looking right at the large window and prepared herself for the jump.
Getting as far back as she could, Serge took a powerful step and soon found herself sailing through the air towards a wall of glass.
Bradstone moved back toward home base, his revolver in one hand and the other covering the wound in his shoulder. He tried to stay out of sight, knowing that he wouldn't be much match for a group of Russians. He finally found himself where the other members of their party had been told to fall back to once Serge was on her way and decided that Davis should have an update.
Bradstone kneeled down next to the large man, attracting the attention of Jules and Catherine. "Serge is in. We got surprised by four Russians, I took one out but was wounded. Serge finished them off and then sent me back. Just thought you should know."
"Thanks Bradstone. I saw 'em but couldn't help.. we were flanked. Go get yourself taken care of." Before Bradstone could leave he was stopped by a feminine voice.
"Is Serge okay?"
Bradstone hesitated just long enough for everyone else to get worried. "One guy cut her with a knife, but she's fine. It wasn't serious because she sensed the gut coming and turned."
Catherine nodded her head, "Thank-you."
Bradstone smiled and continued on his way. As soon as the young man was out of sight, Catherine turned to Davis. "She'll be fine Little Imp. You worry too much. Serge won't let a tiny cut stop her. Like I said, she's a survivor."
Catherine nodded and hoped to God that Davis was right.
Even though sounds of breaking glass filled her ears and the sounds of the battle were still ripping through the air, Serge's survival instinct told her that whatever was on the other side of the window wasn't the most friendly thing in the world.
As soon as she landed on the floor, Serge tucked herself into a roll and went toward where her instincts were screaming there was danger. When she stood up again to her full height Serge had one of her revolvers in her hand and the hatchet in the other.
Greenwald's eyes opened wide as he found himself staring down the barrel of a revolver, the owner of which he had intended to shoot. Greenwald soon found himself weapon less as Serge's arm holding the hatchet blurred through the air and took it out of his hand.
Nicholas was still standing in front of his wife and was looking at the back of the stranger who had busted through the window. His eyebrows raised as he took in the ripped shoulder of the strangers shirt and the blood that was visible around the rip. When his eyes settled on the visible tattoo the eyebrows raised even further and he involuntarily made a gasping noise.
Serge swung around at the sound Nicholas made and positioned herself in front of the window so she could see everyone in the room. Her eyebrow raised as she took in the kids and the other one joined its mate when her eyes landed on Nicholas and Alexandra. Serge stood there, stock still, with her gun raised and watching everyone in the room watch her, waiting for something to happen.
Greenwald broke the silence first by clearing his throat. This action attracted Serge's eyes and as Greenwald looked into them he momentarily forgot what he was going to say. 'Those eyes, I know those eyes.' "Um..yes, well, that was quite an entrance. Are you..? I mean, well..." Greenwald raised the hand that was holding a piece of paper and held it out for her to see. "This is you, isn't it?"
Serge narrowed her eyes, suspicious of all the occupants of the room. "Yes," her low voice answered carefully, "what's it to you?"
"Oh, well, that's a good thing."
"Huh?" Serge showed her confusion at Greenwald's remark which caused Nicholas to chuckle. The sound caused Serge to swing around and face the former tsar. Nicholas found himself staring into cold blue eyes, whose color looked strangely familiar.
"All that Greenwald means, is that he isn't loyal to Ivan. And neither are we. Greenwald remained loyal to me, and seeing as you are indeed a revolutionary, none of use would be inclined to attempt to arrest you."
"Loyal to you?" Serge asked as she slowly lowered her gun but didn't put it back in its holster.
"Yes, I am Nicholas the second, former..."
Serge stiffened at the name and cut the older man off, "I know who you are."
Nicholas closed his mouth and stared at the woman as she started moving around the room looking at the surroundings. "May I ask who you are? Besides the woman on that wanted poster?"
"Okay, how about what you're doing here. Do you make a habit of jumping through windows?"
Serge turned and gave Nicholas an icy stare, not appreciating his attempt at humor. "No, I don't regularly jump through windows. As for what I'm doing here, I'm looking for Ivan. Would any of you happen to know where he is."
Greenwald spoke up, "Why? Are you looking for Ivan, I mean."
Serge turned and stared at him again, "To sit down, drink tea, and discuss why his country is failing so badly!" Serge spoke, her voice heavy with sarcasm. "Why do you think?"
The revolutionary started moving around the room again but froze in mid-step. Serge cocked her head and listened intently for a few seconds before moving over beside the door. "Get away from the door," Serge instructed, "someone's coming."
The royal family stood back as Greenwald retrieved his weapon and moved to stand behind Serge. The door eased open and a large body quickly moved in and closed the door again. Serge raised her arm and aimed at the form. As the body turned hands were immediately raised and a familiar voice was heard. "Don't shoot!"
Serge sighed and lowered her arm, "Jesus Christ, Davis! Do you have a death wish?" Davis moved further into the room with a sheepish grin and shrugged his shoulders.
"Sorry, Serge. But Bradstone told us what happened and shortly after someone from Bernard's group showed up, saying they needed a little help. We all moved over there and when there was a lull in the fighting, I slipped in. Thought you might want some help."
"Right. Everyone else okay."
"As far as I know. Have you found Ivan yet?"
"No, I just got here, myself." Davis nodded and seemed to notice the other occupants of the room for the first time.
"Umm, Serge, what's with these people? Are they..."
"Relax Davis. This is, apparently, the former tsar and his family, I guess. Oh, and Greenwald, an officer who stayed loyal to old Nick and was actually serving Ivan." Serge snorted at this, obviously finding it hard to believe. "Go figure."
Davis raised an eyebrow and took a closer look at the people in the room. After staring at Nicholas and Alexandra, followed by the children, he turned and noticed Greenwald eyeing Serge's hatchet intently. "Something about that you find interesting, Greenwald?" Davis asked the Russian officer. Greenwald quickly shook his head no and started staring at the walls, instead.
Davis started watching Serge again, along with the other occupants of the room. Just as the lage man was about to break the silence, Serge stopped walking and closed her eyes, listening. A feral smile spread across the tall revolutionary's face. She looked at Davis and explained what she had heard. "Four people, headed this way. One of them is Ivan, there are two guards, and the last guy is a servant or something. I'm going out there, you all stay here."
Before anyone had a chance to answer, Serge was slipping out the door and into the hallway. Davis drew his weapon and moved in front of the rightful royal family and beside Greenwald. Surprisingly, Alexandra broke the charged silence. "Excuse me, but have you known Serge long?"
Davis gave the woman and look over his shoulder and nodded his head. "Ever since she was a baby." He quickly decided that any questions that were asked of Serge would only be answered vaguely, not entirely sure how much to trust these people.
The sound of gunfire and a wild yell broke the tableau in the room. Davis and Greenwald both stiffened, raising their guns toward the door. As they were about to relax a loud breaking sound was heard from the hall, followed by the door swinging open.
Two bodies rolled into the room, their limbs entangled and strident cursing in both Russian and another language was heard. Finally, the forms stood to reveal Serge and a man bleeding from a cut on his forehead who could only be Ivan.
Th cursing continued, the Russian coming from an angry tsar and colorful sounding foreign words emerging from Serge's mouth. Both of the combatants had lost their guns and simultaneously drew the sabers at their sides. Serge held her saber expertly, while Ivan held his bladed weapon with enough competence to make you believe he might actually be able to win a bout.... against a novice.
"So, you're the one that's been causing me all the problems lately." Ivan sneered as they circled one another. Serge gave a courtly little bow, never taking her eyes off Ivan, and answered, "At your service, my liege."
The two opponents stepped in at the same time and delivered testing parries, then stepped back out and continued their circling. "Mind telling me why you're so bent on revolution? And, who, exactly you are? You have been more of a problem than Lenin already."
"It's not so much that I want revolution. It's more of a revenge thing. Besides that, though, as a ruler you are horrible. Even Nicholas was doing better and that's saying a lot. As for who I am, well, I'd tell you if I could, but I don't know myself." Serge grinned devilishly. "I'm just a peasant with a hell of a lot of motivation."
Serge gave Ivan a chilling smile, devoid of all emotion and feeling. Then, faster than any eye in the room could see, she moved forward and swung at Ivan. The tsar managed to block the blow, barely, but Serge didn't stop there. She followed it up with another set of swings and a backward sweep with her legs that dumped Ivan on the floor. On his way down Ivan flung his saber outward but, Serge jumped out of the way. His blade just cut Serge's right pant leg. "Man, these were my best pants. Do you know how many clothes I've lost in the last few weeks?"
Ivan growled and lunged to his feet, angry at what he saw as being mocked. He charged his tall opponent, only to have Serge jump out of the way at the last second. "You know something Ivan, you really got the short end of the stick when it came to looks, didn't you. Man, you are UGLY!"
Letting out an enraged roar, the young tsar swung around and grabbed a brass platter that was sitting on a nearby table. He flung it at Serge, and purely by luck it managed to knock the saber from her grasp. Grinning, Ivan charged Serge with his saber raise. Serge raised her arm and grabbed the weapon, pulling it from his hand. Ivan's momentum continued, however, and the two of them continued to moved backwards. They tumbled into the hallway again with a resounding crash, the cursing starting again.
Davis was just moving out of the room when the sound of many footsteps came thundering down the hallway towards them. The two people struggling on the ground continued their wrestling, oblivious to the new arrivals, while the Russian guards surrounded Davis and Greenwald. The two men hod little choice but to surrender their weapons. They were roughly seized, while five more men moved toward Ivan and Serge.
Three of the Russian's reached down and yanked Serge off of Ivan. The tall revolutionary was about to retaliate when one of the guards noticed the wound on her shoulder and jabbed his arm roughly into it. Serge visibly flinched and stopped moving long enough for the guards to strengthen their grasp.
Ivan picked himself up off the floor with as much dignity as he could muster. The cut on his head had stopped seeping, leaving behind a dried trail of blood. He sneered at Serge and walked over to her. Roughly grabbing the revolvers from their holsters, Ivan proceeded to turn them around in his hand so he was holding them by the barrel. Sneering down at her Ivan said, "This isn't finished, I'll see you soon." With that, he raised his arm and brought the revolver down across Serge's skull.
A resounding crack filled the hall, causing Davis and Greenwald to wince. Serge's lanky body sagged in the grip of the three Russian's holding her. Looking around at everyone Ivan almost screeched, "Take all of them!! Every single one, and lock 'em up! NOW!! Go!"
The hall erupted into a flurry of activity, the Russians hurrying to do their lord's bidding.
Bernard surveyed the area around him, wondering how long they were going to have to keep this up. They were doing well, having only lost eight men in total so far, and only three of the aforementioned eight were lost to death. But it seemed like the Russian soldiers just kept coming, and coming, and coming. Everyone was getting a little bit tired and... worried. The longer it took Serge to do what she went in to do, the less chance there would be of her coming out.
Everyone was getting edgy, especially a certain blond-haired noblewoman. Catherine was crouched down next to Bernard with Jules on her other side. They were all watching the palace as the revolutionaries stayed under cover, picking off the Russians as they showed any body part.
Berneard could feel the tension radiating off the compact body next to his, and if he was honest with himself, Bernard would admit that he was getting worried, too. Not knowing what was going on inside the palace was killing him, and knowing that Davis was inside too only helped a little.
If Serge got caught, he could hardly begin to imagine what would happen to his friend. It wouldn't be pretty that's for sure. Although, that's assuming that she lived long enough to get out.
Movement at the gate caught Bernard's attention as a group of men came marching out. He didn't know what caused it, but a gut feeling told Bernard that this was bad news. Ordering his men not to fire on the group, the large man raised himself up a little higher to get a good look. His breath caught in his throat and there was a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Practically being dragged in between three guards was Serge. Short chain restraints were visible on her wrists and it was obvious to him that she was out cold. The group stopped slightly outside of the gate and one of the higher ranking soldiers stepped forward. The man opened his mouth and yelled across the suddenly quiet space separating the two groups. "If you're smart you will all leave here immediately, you are leaderless and your persistence will only hurt her more in the long run. If you are all not gone within the hour Tsar Ivan will take drastic measures."
After laying out his ultimatum, the soldiers all turned back into the fortress and closed the large stone gate. Bernard turned to look at Catherine who was being held back by Jules. The young man was just able to keep Catherine from bolting toward the gate at the sight of Serge. With an infinitely painful look on his face, Bernard signaled the retreat.
All the men on the field hastily left their posts and moved back from the palace. Bernard sadly shook his head and reached out to Catherine. At a touch on her shoulder, the young woman turned tear-filled eyes to Beranrd. "We have to do something, we can't just leave her there!"
"Not now, Catherine. At the moment the best thing we can do is leave. It will ensure that Serge lives longer."
"How can you say that, there is nothing stopping that bastard from killing her right now!"
"Catherine, listen to me! From what I've heard and seen, Ivan really hates Serge. He won't just outright kill her, unless we give him reason. Staying here is more than enough of a reason. We will do something, that, I promise you." His last words were said with such intense passion and conviction that they rivaled any other words she had even heard spoken. With that the lage man stood and carefully started making his way back to home base.
She didn't know how, just that she would do everything in her power to get Serge out of there. With one last look at the stone palace, Catherine too, turned and walked away from someone who was quickly becoming the most important person in her life.
The room was, depressing, to say the least. Davis, Nicholas, and his entire family found themselves sitting in the most run-down, dirty, cold, and rat infested room in the entire world. Or so it seemed. The room itself was medium sized, with one tiny barred window at the top of the high stone wall and large door of thick wood and a tiny barred window sitting in the middle of it. The walls and floor were concrete and seemed to attract moisture seeing as every surface in the room was damp.
Davis was miserable. He was cold, angry, worried, surrounded by children - who as a rule he usually avoided - and to top it all off there was a big old rat chewing on his boot laces. Disgusted, Davis flicked his foot out and sent the rat flying across the room. It hit the wall with a squeak and then slid to the ground, scurrying away. Davis smiled. He was sitting on the floor with his back to the wall and staring at the large door, willing it to open and his friend to come in. Serge had been taken in a different direction and the rest of them had been dumped... here.
The one skinny wooden bench that was suspended from the wall by two rusted chains, the only relatively dry area of the cell, was occupied by Alexis, Olga, and Maria, three of Nicholas' five children. Davis snorted thinking about the bench, 'It's probably better that they have it. Probably would have broke if I sat on it.'
Nicholas and Alexandra, their remaining children, Tatiana and Anastasia, were sitting just off to Davis' right staring at various sections of the oppressing walls. They hadn't said one word to each other since being marched into the cell. Davis figured it was because they were picking up angry vibes from him. Which he was sending out, but they weren't directed at the former royal family.
They were directed at Greenwald. Davis couldn't help thinking that since the Russian officer wasn't currently sharing in their misery that he really was loyal to Ivan. And that this was his fault. 'Somebody must have alerted those soldiers, and I bet it was him!' Davis' angry thoughts were cut off by footsteps and the sound of the door being opened.
Davis jumped to his feet, hope shining in his eyes, which quickly disappeared when the rumpled form of Greenwald stumbled into the concrete room. The Russian officer was sporting a nice shiner on his left eye and a long cut was now running down almost the entire length of his right cheek.
Nicholas stood and greeted his friend, taking a cloth from his pocket and holding it up to Greenwald's cheek. "Are you all right, my friend?"
"Yes. Ivan was more concentrated on the revolutionary than me, so I got off easy. But...." Greenwald hesitated and it didn't go unnoticed by Davis. The taller man moved closer to Greenwald, his eyes intent on the Russian's face.
Greenwald hesitated again, but one look at Davis' angry face spurred him into continuing. "I'm afraid that when your friend gets back here she'll probably wish she were dead. I.." Greenwald's voice faded away as the return of footsteps brought the attention of all the occupants in the room to the door.
It squeaked open and Daivs' heart immediately found residence in his throat at what he saw. Serge's body was pushed into the room and collapsed on the floor directly in front of the door. The wooden portal closed again and they were left alone. Davis moved toward his friend, his anger getting more fuel and he got closer to Serge's body.
He kneeled down next to her and was about to roll her onto her back when he noticed a bulge under Serge's shirt. Davis' eyebrows rose as he moved the linen to reveal Serge's hatchet, still tucked safely into its special sheath. 'I can't believe they missed this when they took everything else!' Davis thought.
Turning his attention back to his friend's condition, the large man gently rolled her over. An involuntary gasp left his mouth, followed by an indiscernible sound coming from the back of Nicholas's throat as he too kneeled next to the revolutionary.
Serge's face was bruised almost beyond recognition. Her right eye was swollen shut, and the whole side of her face was a lurid black and purple color. The left side of her face was just as bad, with a cut caused by being hit over the head with her revolver running along the side of her face. The bruising was horrid, and her nose was badly broken, causing more swelling around her eyes. Serge's top lip was split and there was a jagged cut on her chin. Labored breathing indicated damaged ribs, and Davis didn't even want to think of what lay underneath his friends clothes. The rip on the left shoulder of her shirt was bigger, with fresh blood soaking all through that side of the linen. The wound was a lot worse than Davis remembered, seeing as it was now twice the size, covering the entire top of her shoulder and extending down the front, gushing blood quite liberally.
Running his eyes down the remainder of his friend's body they stopped cold at Serg's legs. There was fresh blood on her lower pant leg where Ivan's saber had previously ripped the material. 'Oh, please, no.' Davis moved Nicholas out of the way and took a closer look at her leg, moving the pant leg away. He closed his eyes relieved at what he didn't see.
While her legs still had not healed completely they weren't any worse. There was some mild irritation from walking on them constantly for the last several days but the scars were still healing and no new damage had been inflicted.
Davis turned and looked at Nicholas who was taking in Serge's injuries with sickened expression on his face. "Do you know anything about healing?"
"Enough to get by." The former tsar replied.
"Good, you have to help me then. I know a little bit, I imagine we can figure something out. We have to try and close that shoulder wound up and stop all these other cuts from bleeding. So they don't get infected." Davis took his cloak off, that was still around his shoulder's, and after telling Nicholas to roll Serge onto her side he placed it beside her so she wouldn't be laying on the dirty floor.
After settling Serge onto the cloak, Davis ran his hands down her body looking for broken bones and anything that just didn't feel right. Besides the ribs, everything else seemed relatively undamaged. They secured some thread from one of the kids bottomless pockets and a needle from Alexandra. Taking various unimportant pieces of clothing from all the occupants they ripped them up and started tending to Serge.
Davis sewed the wound in her shoulder the best he could, and then used some cloth for a bandage. They used the large pieces to wrap her ribs, and discovered many other cuts and bruises while doing so. All of the cuts were minor except for one. It ran across the right hand side of Serge's stomach and was considerably deep. After sewing it closed to the best of his ability, Davis covered it with some cloth, too.
Nicholas had been taking care of the two cuts on Serge's face and making sure there wasn't any other damage to her skull. After they finished their different tasks they both sat back, unsure.
"So, now what." Nicholas motioned to the battered body before them.
Davis shook his head and sighed. "I'm not sure. I guess we just wait until she wakes up. We can't do anything else." The large man paused and thought. "All we can really do is try and make sure nothing gets infected, especially her legs. Being in a room like this, any wound that isn't healed is at risk to infection. If anything is badly infected by the time we get out of here," Davis stopped and looked at everyone in the room, "and we are getting out of here, then Joel might end up having to cut a limb off or something. And that, is unacceptable."
"Our healer when Serge isn't around." He sighed and looked around, deciding that Serge was best left where she was. He didn't want to make anything worse by moving her.
Once they finished making sure there was nothing left they could do anything about, Davis covered his friend up as best he could to try and keep her warm. He sat back against the wall and sighed, sending out a prayer that they would all get out of this alive and well.
Nicholas kneeled down in front of Davis and stared at Serge's face before speaking. "You do know that it isn't really healthy for her to be out this long, don't you?"
It was difficult to keep track of time without being able to see the sun but both Davis and Nicholas were sure that at least two hours had passed and Serge hadn't moved an inch.
"Don't you think we should try and wake her up?"
"Nicholas, the last time I tried to wake Serge up she almost threw me through the wall of her house. But, yeah, I do. Only thing is I'm not sure how to go about doing it."
The two sat in contemplative silence until a small voice broke it. "If you say something that normally gets her mad, that might do it."
The men looked up at the source of the voice, startled. Olga looked back at them, in all the seriousness that she could muster. Davis and Nicholas turned back toward one another. An eyebrow on Davis' head rose, and Nicholas shrugged in answer.
"Okkayyy." The large man drew the word out, knowing that getting Serge mad was never something that anyone sane would do on purpose. Davis thought for a moment and finally came up with something suitable to say. Placing his large hand on Serge'e uninjured shoulder he started to speak. "Serge, come on, get your lazy butt up. Serge Fedorovich, you better get up this instant or I'll have your uncle in here with a list of jobs to do so long that you won't be done by the time you're fifty! Come on kid, get up, you lazy, old, stupid, cowardly...." Davis looked down and immediately stopped his list at the sight of two thin slits of blue.
Kneeling back down by his friend, Davis smiled.
"What did you call me, Davis? I heard the lazy, old, and stupid, but cowardly? Geesh, I'll remember that." Serge's voice was quiet and slightly strained, on account of her broken ribs. Smiling, she continued, "Where did you come up with that bit about my uncle? I liked helping him out."
"Oh, no, my friend. You only liked helping if it wasn't going to take the entire day. You always needed some time for yourself."
"And don't call me kid, Davis, I'm only three years younger than you. I could whip your butt any day."
"And don't I know it! Serge, seriously, how do you feel? You're in pretty bad shape. Don't move around a lot, your ribs are broken"
"Again? Man, this has got to be a record." A weak laugh left Serge's chapped and bloody lips. "Well, I hurt all over so it's sorta hard to give you any idea. I feel like a building fell on top of me."
Davis nodded. "Get some sleep, my friend. We'll get out of here. After all, Bernard and a certain blond are still out there."
Serge dropped off into sleep quickly and Daivs sighed, glad that his friend seemed okay.
For the time being at least.
The cavern's were eerily empty and quiet, that is until you came upon the main cavern which was teeming with activity. Almost everyone who had been left behind as back-up was present, and since so few people had been injured, the last count being nine and four dead, even Joel could be seen near the front.
As soon as Bernard and his entire group had returned the revolutionaries had gathered. Now, after intense and speedy debate they had formed a plan. In theory it was quite simple, but reality was always different. "Okay, so we are all in agreement," Bernard's deep rumbling voice was heard throughout the cavern. "Good. Then let's move out. You all know what to do."
Bodies started breaking off into little groups, as the main participants moved toward the front. Bernard, Catherine, Jules, Joel, and four others all converged in front of the steps. They were all armed to the teeth, even Catherine who had never fired a gun before in her life -- never mind at a living thing. Two other members of the group carried sacks, the contents of which were the key to the groups rescue. "All right, everyone knows exactly what they are going to be doing. This should be really simple, in and out. We complete our objective and get out. That's all there is to it. Let's go."
Bernard took the front, with Joel at the back and everyone else in between. As he ascended the stone steps Joel's thoughts stated running rampant. 'Simple. Sure the simpler things are the more they can get screwed up. Just look at what happened to Serge. Please, be safe my friend.'
Catherine sent up a silent prayer to the heavens. 'Please, please, be safe. Keep them all safe. Hand on Serge. We'll get you out of there.'
The group trekked outside and just as they all left the safety of the building, the skies opened up again and poured torrents of water down upon them. Thunder rolled, testifying to the dangerous task about to be undertaken.
It was lying on the ground, clean and bright, flashing an annoying spot of light into his face. Where the light that was being reflected came from he did not know. Just that it was starting to drive him mad. Standing from the cold floor, Nicholas moved over to the pesky hatchet and took a closer look at the strange weapon.
The former tsar's blue eyes examined the metal and finally caught on the strange Celtic design. His eyes narrowed and just as he was going to come to a conclusion about the weapon a rough, strained voice broke his concentration. "Is there something about that... you find... interesting?"
Nicholas raised his head and looked into the familiar eyes set in a bruised and battered face. "No, well yes." Nicholas raised his hands in frustration. "I don't know!" Even with the damage to her angular face, Nicholas could see the signs of Serge's amusement. He sighed and decided that this was a good opportunity to talk to the tall revolutionary.
"Where did you get it? The design looks very... unique."
"It is. My uncle, he taught me how to throw it, and put the design on."
Nicholas nodded his head, as if agreeing with something. "He seems like a very talented man."
Raising his head, the former tsar stared into Serge's face. "Was?"
Serge nodded as much as she could and replied, "Yes, he's dead."
"Yeah, well, it happened a long time ago."
Gesturing to the weapon on the floor Nicholas asked, "May I?"
Serge nodded almost imperceptibly and Nicholas reached down and picked up the hatchet. Turning it over, he got his first look at it from both sides. Slightly aged eyes widened in helpless reaction, as his former revelation came back to him in force. A slight gasp parted the man's lips as he once again looked at the woman lying on the floor. Serge noticed the older man's reaction, "Nicho..." her speech was cut off as Serge's tall frame was wracked with the first of many violent coughing spasms. Davis, who had been on the other end of the cell talking with Alexis quickly came over and kneeled next to Serge. Davis place his large hands on Serge's shoulders, trying to keep her from moving too much and jostling her ribs.
Covering her mouth with the back of her hand, Serge rode out the coughing and pulled her hand away to revel more blood. Closing her eyes, Serge shook her head slightly and relaxed in Davis' grasp. The large man noticed the blood also and lowered his head in defeat. 'Damn it! Internal bleeding. Serge is running out of time. We gotta get out of here. This place is just making her sicker. She needs to rest.'
Ensured that his friend was okay, Davis stood and began looking around the cell, searching for something that he had missed on his first eight circuits of the room.
Deciding to give Serge her space, especially since she was in such bad shape, Nicholas rose with the hatchet still in his hand and his mind in something resembling shock. He moved over to Alexandra, his wife, and sat down beside her again. At her questioning look, the former tsar handed her the weapon and pointed at the designs. Alexandra's reaction was just as severe as her husbands. Greenwald was the last occupant of the cell who was shown the hatchet and would remain in shock for the longest.
Three people had just been let in on a secret that had the potential to alter the very state of their country. Although with the current circumstances, they may all wish that they had never found out.
The rain was annoying her to no end. She was tired of being wet and cold and worried. After this was all over, Catherine was determined to hide away for a long, long time just for some peace and quiet.
They were stopped outside the walls of the palace at about the same spot that Serge had gone over a few hours pass. Bernard was in the process of checking the area out and making sure that the lay out of the palace was as he remembered.
Catherine was crouched in the trees with Joel and her own personal shadow, Jules. They were waiting for the plan to be initiated since they couldn't actively help at the moment. She perked up as Bernard came back and gave the go ahead.
A woman that she did not know stepped out from the trees and pulled out a bow and arrow. Catherine's eyebrows raised. 'Would you lookit that. I didn't know those things even existed anymore.' The trio watched as the woman attached a piece of parchment to the arrow and took careful aim.
She sighted a tiny barred window that could just be seen over the top of a lower section of the wall when you stood back far enough. She extended her arm and held, taking careful aim and waiting for just the right moment. The wind shifted, coming up from behind and she released, smoothly and flawlessly.
The arrow launched from the bow and flew straight and true. It went up, up over the wall and miraculously right between two bars of the tiny window, unimpeded.
The group cheered silently at their success.
Pacing is a habit that most people possess, emerging when they are worried, nervous, or perhaps bored.
The entirely too small room seemed even smaller with the two large bodies now edgily pacing the damp and dirty floor.
Serge had slept and her natural ability to heal had kicked in, dispatching her headache and making her feel considerably better despite the fact that she was bleeding internally, and that would more than likely kill her depending on how bad the damage was.
It was this very fact that had Davis adamantly insisting that she should not get up, that she should continue to rest and conserve her energy. And Serge had looked at him, not with fear of dying but with a quiet determination in her eyes. And she told him, very patiently and very calmly, that if she was going to die then she'd be damned it she'd just sit back and quietly let it happen. That until she did leave this life she was going to do everything in her power to get out of this horrid place and make sure that everyone else got out too. Because despite the past, these people were innocent in this situation and the majority of them were children and they deserved every chance in the world to live a long and happy life. It wasn't their fault who their family was. Then she had said, quite simply and logically, that these kids had a better chance at getting out if she was working on a way to get out and not sitting down and waiting for an opportunity to come bite her on the nose.
Davis backed off, Serge stood, and now they were both pacing. They had been in this little room for several hours and the longer it took for something to happen the more agitated Serge became.
The royal family for their part was simply sitting back and not getting in the way. The two revolutionaries would not take kindly to being disturbed unless it was with a very good suggestion on how to get out. And they were stumped.
Nicholas, Greenwald, Alexandra, and the kids. They had no suggestions what so ever. The adults had overcome their shock and had pushed that off to the side all together until a better time to bring the subject up arose.
Serge abruptly stopped and stood stock still. Nicholas had seen this happen many times already and knew what it meant. She had heard something that wasn't normal and was in the process of deciding what it was. Davis was off to the side watching as well.
Suddenly, like a blur, Serge moved. Her arm extended and the fist opened then closed. Alexis jerked and opened his eyes to focus on the arrow that had been stopped inches from his face. He blinked, perplexed and shocked.
Alexandra felt like she was about to faint.
The tall revolutionary brought the arrow closer to her body and examined it. She noticed the parchment wrapped around the shaft and smiled. Quickly unwrapping it she read and her smile became a full fledged grin. Serge turned and looked to Davis. Seeing the smile he too started losing his bad mood. "Good news?"
"Very... remind me to kiss that man."
"Bernard." Her eyes ran over the wall with the window quickly. "Everyone get away from this wall," she motioned, "get as far over to the other side as you can."
Everyone scurried to follow her instructions. As Serge came over and kneeled down with everyone else Nicholas asked a tentative question. "Why are we doing this?"
Serge glanced at him and grinned. "Because they are going to blow that wall all to hell."
Just as he was about to speak an ear splitting boom cracked thorough the air. The outside wall collapsed in an avalanche of stone and dust. Ten bodies crouched and hoped to God they would get through this.
Catherine waited anxiously in the rain as the bomb was put in place. She hoped dearly that everyone inside would be safely on the other end of the cell and not hurt in the blast. Bernard finally came back to stand with Joel, Catherine, and Jules.
Even though she was expecting it, Catherine almost jumped out of her skin at the loud boom as the outer wall and internal cell wall collapsed. She proceeded forward with everyone else, knowing that it would only be a matter of minutes before someone came to investigate. It would not work if they were all captured again.
They waited just outside the cell wall, not trusting the interior to stay intact for much longer. Everyone was staring anxiously through the dust and debris for their fellow revolutionary, leader, and two friends.
After an eternity of waiting dark forms finally became distinguishable from the dust. They emerged as a large group, Davis in front with Serge slightly behind leading a bunch of people that Catherine did not recognize.
As Serge stepped fully into the light Catherine could not keep back a gasp at the sight of the taller woman's bruised and battered face. 'She looks like hell.' Despite her appearance, Serge seemed to be moving well, although the watching group suspected it was more from adrenaline than anything else.
Joel moved toward Serge as soon as they were all a few steps from the outer wall and was eyeing her with a healer's knowing gaze. He approached the revolutionary, took a long look and simply shook his head. "Don't gimme that look Joel... we gotta get outta here, right now! You can tisk all you want later when there is no threat of being shot in the back."
Catherine came up on Serge's side, "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine but that'll change pretty soon if we don't get out of here."
"Serge is right, of course." Bernard's deep voice carried over the group, "We have to go." He glanced furtively at the royal family and then raised an eyebrow at Serge. She too turned and looked at them long and hard, deciding.
"I guess they're coming with us. Can we go now?"
"Yes, come on everyone."
The group started off back to their caverns just as a shot rang out behind them. Serge swore and glanced over her shoulder. Guards were coming out of the hole and although they didn't seem inclined to give chase they were firing. "Run!"
Everyone took off without a moments hesitation and as Serge gained speed she swerved to scoop up the young boy that was falling behind. She seemed to recall his name as being Alexis.
Miracusly, they all made it to the caverns unscathed. Granted, they were tired and Serge was hurting even more, the run having aggravated her injuries but she hadn't been shot in the back. That was always a good thing.
The caverns and the people in them were a welcome sight after the last day or so and Serge gratefully slipped into her own little cave with Joel close behind. Davis too went to collapse into sleep, leaving Bernard and Catherine to deal with the nervous royal family.
Nicholas was somewhat worried about being surrounded by a large group of revolutionaries. No one seemed to recognize who he was and for that the former tsar was grateful. He didn't think that anyone would be inclined to do anything to hurt him or his family, seeing as he was no longer on the throne, but memories are long and a lot of people are more than happy to hold grudges.
All of them Nicholas, Alexandra, Alexis, Maria, Tatiana, Olga, Anastasia, and Greenwald were led to a medium sized cavern and given some furs and a decent amount of food. Bernard seemed like a nice enough fellow and explained, regrettably, that space was at a premium and that he hoped this would be all right. They were all just glad to be out of Ivan's clutches.
The young woman that had come to help rescue them, Nicholas thought he had heard her called Catherine, came in shortly after Bernard left bearing the food that had been promised. He didn't know why, but upon seeing her Nicholas had the feeling that she didn't exactly belong mixed up in all this. "Hello, my name's Catherine. If you'll let me," she said looking at Greenwald, "I'll take a look at that cut on your face. Normally Joel or someone else would but everyone's busy."
Greenwald nodded and moved over to sit on a low crate that was there precisely for the purpose of sitting. She gently cleaned his wound while keeping up a stream of nonsense conversation.
"So, Catherine," Nicholas said after she had finished with Greenwald, "how did you come to acquire medical knowledge?"
The intelligent green eyes looked at him for an endless moment and the former tsar had the uncomfortable feeling of being analyzed quite extensively. "I'm of the Russian nobility and had hoped to have a career as a doctor... a lot of women and breaking into the workplace these days. I'm sure you know that. Although my brother had other ideas and in his usual, controlling manner saw to it that I be a perfect little housewife and not someone with a career. I'm pleased to say, though, that that didn't work exactly as he had hoped as I'm still not married."
Nicholas blinked several times, having not expected such a straightforward answer. No wonder she looked like she didn't belong. "Oh. Well, um, as nobility what are you doing out here in the midst of a revolution?"
The noblewoman smiled. "I could ask you a similar question. What were you, Tsar Nicholas and his entire family, doing in Ivan's prison instead of Siberia where he exiled you?" Catherine continued, not giving the man a chance to answer. "The answer to your question is quite simple. I met Serge, found an incredible friend in her, and decided to help out with her cause because I too find the state of this country despicable. Good day, I'll be seeing you soon."
Catherine left with quiet dignity while Nicholas was still trying to gather his jaw up from the floor.
"You're damn lucky, my friend. Doesn't look like you're going to drop dead anytime soon. Just do me a favour and go to sleep... take it easy for a bit, okay? Give your body a chance to heal. Ivan probably wont be doing much of anything for awhile so you can afford to relax."
"And if you don't Ill just tie you to the cot and make you rest."
Joel turned to see Catherine at the door and smiled, "Ah, just the woman I was looking for. If you can't keep this stubborn one in bed then no one can." Blue eyes glared up at Jole but the young healer took it all in stride as he stood. "Take it easy Serge."
"Yeah, okay." Serge sounded resigned to taking it easy for a day or two and Joel was overjoyed to hear it.
"Keep an eye on her, 'kay?" He whispered on his way out.
Catherine winked, "Don't worry."
He nodded and left the two friends alone. Catherine came up to the cot and kneeled, examining Serge's battered face. She winced.
"He says that it looks a lot worse than it is."
"I know, but you look like you got run over by a four horse carriage. I spoke to Nicholas and..."
Serge broke in. "You know who he is?"
"Well, yeah, I am nobility." Catherine reported with feigned haughtiness and laughed. Serge smirked. "Anyway, what were they doing in Ivan's cell?"
"I dunno... I don't think even Ivan know exactly why he brought them back here form Siberia."
"Hmm.... well, what are we going to do about them? I mean, they seem like a nice enough bunch of people but what do you think is going to happen when the shock wears off, and they realize who they are and where they are?"
Serge yawned, her jaw cracking in the process. "Catherine, I have no idea and right now I could care less. Even if they were stupid enough to do something rash, and I don't think they are, they are in a cavern full of armed revolutionaries and it wouldn't be a problem to stop them. Right now I just wanna go to sleep."
"Okay, I'll leave you then..." A hand on her arm stopped her, and Catherine turned back to look in swollen blue eyes.
The sudden vulnerability in Serge's voice made it impossible for the compassionate young woman to say no. "Move over."
Serge smiled and moved over to one side while Catherine climbed onto the cot. After a moments awkwardness, Serge wrapped her arms around the smaller body beside her and they both fell into a deep, healing sleep.
They woke much later, both feeling that that was the best sleep they had in ages. Catherine glanced up and took in the face above her. Already, the swelling was noticeably less and Catherine was amazed. "How on earth do you do that?"
"Heal so incredibly fast?"
"I dunno... I never complained, though."
"Hmm... yeah, I guess it isn't a bad quality to have. The magic of a nice long nap."
"And food." The voice came from the doorway and both women turned to see Jules standing there holding two bowls. "Don't forget food."
"But of course, how could we forget that! Bring it on Jules, I'm starving."
The teen complied and delivered the nourishment to the cot. Just as he was about to leave a long arm reached out and latched onto his. He turned back and looked questionably into blue eyes.
"You did real good, Jules. Real good."
He smiled slightly and nodded before retreating. Both women munched happily for several moments until a question broke the air, "He did real good with what?"
"With the whole thing. He's more a kid than an adult and he handled everything well I think."
The blond head nodded. "Yeah, he did, didn't he?" A long pause and then, "You asked him to keep an eye on me, didn't you?" Catherine looked behind her to see guilty blue eyes.
"Uhh... yeah. I just wanted to know that someone was looking out for you when I couldn't. You mad?"
Catherine chuckled a little and shook her head. "Why would I be mad? I don't know anything about revolutions. I'm glad that you cared enough to have someone look out for me."
A stunned silence. "Bu... what do you mean, I cared enough?! Catherine, of course I cared. You're my friend, you mean as much to me as any of the villagers, more even."
The noblewoman was surprised to find tears welling in her eyes. "You mean I'm right up there with Davis and Joel, huh?" An attempt to lighten the situation, but with a strong undercurrent of seriousness. Serge did not miss either. She chuckled a little and sighed.
"Yeah, right up there with Davis and Joel... maybe even a class by yourself."
Serge was once again stunned to find herself with an armful of blond noblewoman. This time a crying blond noblewoman. But she was getting used to Catherine's need to display her feelings so openly and touch people to do so. To her credit, Serge only sat there like an idiot for a second or two before wrapping long arms around the smaller woman.
The hug was long, warm, comforting, loving, and familiar all at the same time. Serge reveled in it, allowing herself some of the comfort that she had always denied herself. Catherine sniffled and rubbed her nose but remained in the hug. It felt nice. Safe. She wished she could just stay there because she felt as if all the bad things in the world couldn't touch her. In such a violent and unstable world it was nice to be able to feel safe if only for a moment or two.
Unfortunatly, a moment or two was all they got and it hardly seemed like enough. Their nice long hug was interrupted by a throat clearing. Serge turned her head to look into Nicholas' face. His wife stood slightly behind him.
Serge sighed and nudged Catherine who sat up a little reluctantly. They settled themselves on Serge's little pallet and the revolutionary gestured the tsar into the room. "Something we can do for you two?"
"Yes, actually... my wife and I had hoped to talk to you about a rather important matter."
"All right.... talk. I'm listening."
"Well," he cleared his throat nervously, "are you aware of the circumstances surrounding Ivan's rule and my family's exile?"
"Sure... your firstborn kid was kidnapped which gave Ivan the right to challenge for the throne since he was also a firstborn of your brother. He did, you lost, and off to Siberia you went."
"Yes, well that isn't all true. Have you heard of a man named Rasputin?"
"Peasant from Siberia... supposedly some kind of psychic or something like that." Serge shrugged.
"Yes... well, the night that our child was born Rasputin had a... vision, I guess. He said that he saw the end of my family's rule... that my heir would be murdered and some unknown person would challenge me. We took it to heart..."
Alexandra took over. "We sent out daughter to a relative, hoping to save her life. We knew that as long as she stayed with us she was in danger so we sent her away. We hoped that she would have a normal life."
They fell into a long silence and Serge finally prompted them. "And this has what to do with me?"
"We think you may be out daughter."
To be continued...
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