Obedience Under Duress

Tonight, make a decision and make it fast. No hesitation or indecision allowed!
What’s the situation requiring Instant Action(tm)? What decision do you make? Who else is affected?

“You will provide a written testament of the current status of your project,” he said, waving a writing pad before her.

“And you will take an oath to make regular reports to me on the work done by Herr Chaubert and others of your order working on similar goals. And if you do, you shall be released. I will put you back in your cell to think on this. And I will leave you pencil and paper. Just in case.”

Francoise McKay regarded the masked man looming in front of her. She caught the eyes behind the masque and wondered why he deemed it appropriate to wear one. She could perceive no obvious deformity from this vantage point. Perhaps it was not, she thought, because of vanity. She only stared at him numbly. Captain Mors was obviously running out of patience. What was so pressing, she wondered?

“You have only a short time, Frau McKay,” Captain Mors offered as he placed the pad and pencil before her. “I would not take too much time to decide or to write out what I have asked you for.” Elegantly he then turned toward the door and did not utter another word, nor did he look back at her.

The door closed with a finality and Francoise resisted the overwhelming urge to spit at the doors and ultimately at Captain Mors suggestion that she not only give away all that she and Augustin had done, but also vowed to keep him abreast of anything that they did in the future! Both considerations were a considerable breech of her vows she had taken with the Order of the Golden Dawn and a priestess of the Old Ways but a deep betrayal of the friendship of Augustin Chaubert and the goals and values that they both held dear.

Her mind was wracked with how she might satisfy Mors, gain her freedom. He knew a great deal, but he really didn’t tell her anything that was not public knowledge. He could have gotten any of that from Charles Allen, or her own father, she thought as she began to pace her cell. After a couple of passes she picked up the pencil and began tapping it against her hand. She knew that Mors’ men were watching her and no doubt would report to him. Well, they could not very well expect her to merely hand over everything because they said she ought to now could they?

The fact was that they could and they had.

Francoise stopped for a moment, held her head in her hands and with a heavy sigh sat down and began to write and draw. She would give them exactly what they asked for – but there was no guarantee that Captain Mors, Alice or anyone else would have the slightest idea what she was talking about or what exactly was being referred to. Oh, the details would be impressive enough even to an engineer, the explanations would seem solid even to the best translator. But the one thing she was certain of,. However, Mors and his crew would not know of the double, triple and even quadruple entandres contained in the language therein.

Francoise was certain that Mors, though a German, was quite clever. The same could be said of the austere and yet lovely, Alice Larson, she thought.

It was Alice Larson who poked her head and peered through the glass to Francoise’s cell. If Mors’ handmaiden saw anything at all, it would be a chastened, almost completely cooperative woman, in her cell, writing away as she had been ordered to do. Inside her own mind, however, she was seething. Francoise had other plans. How dare this German popinjay think she would betray all that she held dear!

“I will never betray you, Augustin!” Francoise whispered under her breath in the shared language that she and Chaubert developed between them. Even as she added more detail of the diagram she was sketching out of the very coil in their London laboratory, she was determined.

If she had to die trying to make good on that particular vow; she would.

Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore
Word Count: 685

Part of “The High Adventure” online interactive novel.

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Filed under fiction, panhistoria

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