Author: moon71 PM
A mad scientist and his profiteering assistant travel through time. Any more explanation would ruin this, but trust Auntie Moon71, this is an Alexander story...Rated: Fiction K - English - Sci-Fi/Humor - Words: 2,168 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 12 - Published: 07-02-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3021760
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
CHICKEN! by Moon71
SUMMARY: A mad scientist and his dodgy assistant go on a journey through time. Any other explanation would spoil this so you'll just have to trust me that it's an Alexander story.
RATING: Basically harmless
DISCLAIMER: Alexander isn't mine; don't have the room for him.
DEDICATION: This story was bumping around in my head since I first heard of… the incident in question. However, I was finally inspired to write it down as a get-well story for Fredericka. That was some time ago and fortunately she's much better, but the story still belongs to her…
Not that Squawl was interested in ethics. He was a technician – a talented one as it happened, but, he freely admitted to himself, fundamentally lazy and infinitely corruptible. When he had first come to work for Dr Mezereum he had tried hard to explain the real potential behind his time machine – the potential for making money. Of course the inventor had whined about the dangers of corrupting the time-stream and altering the future with the slightest mistake, but Squawl had pointed out that there were very easy ways to make money out of the idea without ever breaking the rules. But the old man just wouldn't listen.
Time travel was – Squawl never could resist a good pun – a real waste of time. What most people forgot was that time and space were not the same thing. You might travel back in time with Dr Mezereum's device, but first you had to be in the right place. There was no point in hoping to view Moses parting the Red Sea when you were stuck in some forest that would one day be cut down to make room for a housing estate in East London. So first you had to get to the correct location. If you were sure what that was. And then you had to be sure of the exact time. History, as they were both learning to their cost, was fraught with inaccuracies.
Ancient history was the worst, which was rather a shame because it was a consortium of rather dotty ancient historians who had been funding Dr Mezereum for the last six years. Squawl had once waited with Dr Mezereum for three weeks for the embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, only to figure out that she had embarked the month before. It had taken them that long to translate what they heard the local people saying. Language! That was the other sticking point no-one seemed to think of! It was all very well having translation software – some of these languages were extinct, plenty having disappeared without ever having been written down, and many of those had left no trace, seemed to belong to no language family still in existence. Or so Dr Mezereum was complaining.
And now they were on to Alexander the Great again. His popularity was something Squawl just couldn't understand, but he certainly did have a following, especially among the ladies. When Squawl had first advertised his services on the 'net, he had been stunned by the eager response he got. 900 credit just for a digi-shot of his dog Peritas! 1000 credit just to have proof of whether his eyes were really different colours or not! And 10,000 - and climbing, the bidding was still furious – to have proof, one way or other, if he and that mate of his, Hephaestion or Ep-ess-teeon or whatever the hell his name was, ever really had it off. When Squawl had begun, he too thought the sky was the limit.
But once again it just wasn't as easy as it looked. Finding the warmongering little bastard was bad enough – he was always on the move and never seemed to be where the historians said he should be. And when Squawl had finally snuck into camp on the eve of the battle of – oh God, who could remember which one? – despite Dr Mezereum's endless protests that they should not take such risks in case they disturbed something and cancelled out their own existence, and had finally managed to get a shot of the so-called Great Conqueror on his way back to his tent, the woman who had commissioned him for the image refused to pay up! She insisted he couldn't be Alexander, even though he had been wearing his armour with the gorgon's head on it just as she had said he would, and he and the inventor had watched him leading the charge the next morning. It couldn't be him, she complained; Alexander was blonde and stunningly handsome with beautiful pure grey eyes! But it was him! And he'd had sort of light red-brown hair, very ordinary blue eyes, boyish, rather weak features and badly sunburnt skin! The stupid old cow even said he was too tall to be Alexander who, according to her, was one of history's great short-arses, along with Napoleon. But he wasn't! He wasn't a giant, of course, but he was no less than average compared to the other men around him.
Squawl suppressed a yawn as Dr Mezereum lectured him yet again on the risks they were running. They were entering the royal palace at Ecbatana, waiting to see if they could witness the assassination of some general by some other general on Alexander's orders. Though they couldn't be seen, they had to be careful not to touch anyone or disturb anything. They were invisible, not incorporeal. Keep near the walls and keep your eyes open. Don't get shut in a room unless you can open the door without anyone seeing. Yes, yes, whatever, whatever, yawn, yawn…
Squawl consulted his list. Well the "have it off" thing was out; Mezereum said Alexander wasn't here. Stealing artefacts was out; there was simply no way to hide them from the time-craft's sensors; the old goat had seen to that. A pity – some fetishist nutter had once offered him 6,000 for a sample of the milk Cleopatra was supposed to have bathed in. All in all, another wasted trip, he reflected as he idly turned a corner. Just his bloody –
"Shit!" Squawl gave a yelp of surprise as he walked straight into a servant carrying a heavily laden tray. The sound of the boy's screams as he apparently collided with thin air was intermingled with the loud clang of metal dishes hitting the floor and the juicy splat of a whole chicken colliding with the nearest wall. Skidding and stumbling hysterically in a puddle of wine, the servant took off down the hall, still screaming.
His heart thumping, Squawl hurried back the way he had come.
He had just about managed to recover his composure when Mezereum appeared. Thanks to his goggles, Squawl could see the old man's scowl through his invisibility screen. "What is it, Doctor?" he whispered innocently.
"We've got the times wrong – again!" Dr Mezereum snapped, "General Parmenion has already been dead for years! Alexander has already returned from India, he's here somewhere!"
"Well… that's good for something, isn't it…?" Squawl offered what he hoped was a nonchalant smile. "Did anything interesting happen here?"
"– What…? Oh, well, yes, in fact, Alexander's friend… oh, damnation!" Mezereum cried as he stared down at his scanner. "We're getting some very strange fluctuations in the space-time continuum; we'd better head back…"
"Come along, boy, come along! You really must learn to follow orders! And make sure you don't disturb anything! Is that understood?"
"Oh, yes, Doctor," sighed Squawl. He had broken out in a slight sweat at those words, but he quickly recovered. After all, who would miss a chicken?
"Please, my Lord, I swear to you! There was something out in the hallway! A dev! An evil spirit! Sent by Ahriman the Destroyer! It touched me and it… spoke… it said…it said… sh - "
"Oh shut up!" Hephaestion shifted irritably, his bottom aching from sitting so long in a soft bed. "Go back to the kitchen and tell the cooks to cook another one – and don't bring the wine until its ready! And make sure it's chilled!"
"Y-yes, my lord…" mumbled the servant, getting up from where he had prostrated himself upon the floor and scurrying out.
Hephaestion groaned and rubbed his belly. Never, not even in the Gedrosian desert, had he had such a terrible hunger and thirst. That idiot doctor kept insisting he abstain from everything but watery vegetable broth! How could a man recover when he was forced to live on swill like that? And of course Alexander had seen the rules were enforced – he'd moved his bed into Hephaestion's room the moment his beloved had fallen ill, had stayed up with him, mopped his brow with soothing herbal water, even stood by and stroked his hair as he threw up into a bowl and helped him change out of his perspiration-soaked garments. Of course Hephaestion loved him for it, but really – one could kill with kindness. All Hephaestion needed now was some fresh air and a good, square meal. Dreams of chicken boiled in salt, oil and herbs washed down with a flood of perfectly chilled wine had begun to haunt his dreams. And now, just when Alexander had agreed to leave him in peace and go and watch the games, and he had rid himself of Glaucias, the stupid little oaf had dropped his treasured chicken on the floor! With a heavy sigh, he slumped back into the pillows and closed his eyes.
He didn't even realise he had fallen into a doze until he heard the clank of dishes just outside the door. "At last!" he cried, sitting up and rubbing his hands in delight, "is that my little chicken?"
"No," said a damningly familiar voice, as the door was flung open, "it's your dear love. Only he won't be your love for much longer if you insist on carrying on like a disobedient baby!"
Hephaestion groaned as Alexander entered the room, followed by a sheepish looking servant carrying a tray. Hephaestion glanced at its contents, then glanced miserably away. "Vegetable broth again!"
"If you don't learn to behave," Alexander scolded, "you'll be eating this until the day you die!" Beckoning to the servant to place the tray on Hephaestion's lap, Alexander dismissed him and sat down on the bed, scowling. "A boiled chicken, Hephaestion…?"
"I'm hungry!" Hephaestion lamented. "Anyway, what are you doing back? I thought you were attending a reception after the games!"
"Oh, I was," Alexander growled, "until I saw Glaucias sitting amongst the crowds at the games and realised something was up! What are you thinking of, sending your own physician away to the games! I should have the man crucified just for his own stupidity!"
Hephaestion sighed. "It was my fault, I ordered him to go… I'm sorry, Alexander."
Alexander frowned, then his face softened to a smile and he reached out to stroke the damp hair from Hephaestion's brow. "I know, my love. But you must have patience."
Hephaestion could not help but smile back at him. Alexander was not the handsomest of men, no matter how the artists portrayed him; his eyes were too prominent, his face too round, his nose too big, for real classical beauty. But how could an image capture the sensuality spelled out in his every movement, the richness of his voice, the haunting dreaminess of his gaze, the beauty of his smile?
"Don't you want your broth?" Alexander asked him, pushing the tray towards him.
Hephaestion pushed it away again. "I don't feel like it…"
Alexander's pink complexion darkened as he met Hephaestion's gaze. "Then what do you feel like…?"
Hephaestion grinned and clasped Alexander's hand. "Come closer and I'll show you…"
"Nothing I can think of, Doctor," Squawl said with an innocent shrug. "I'm sure everything will be fine once we return to our own time…"