A/N: If anyone needs translations, just send me a message, or add it to a review and I'll be happy to add them into the footnotes. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Northern Escape

Welcome to Montreal

Heavy ropes dug into Catharine's wrists, binding them together while chaffing against her already raw skin. A canvass bag over her head prevented her seeing the where she was being taken. Though she could still hear the conversations of the two or three dozen people around her, they spoke in a language she did not understand.

Despite that she'd heard various snatches of the strange gibberish on her trip north, she hadn't picked up enough to even guess what the hurried and hushed discussions around her could be. Before traveling so far from her home in the Capital Wasteland, Catherine had never heard anything other than English. As she recalled her journey, her escape from her coworkers in Talon Company, she felt a familiar discomfort. Chalking it down to homesickness, she devoted her attention back to her surroundings.

Though she was certain they were still outside, the cold biting through her inadequate denim jacket, it sounded as though they were nearing a crowded room. Above the conversations she could hear a mob of voices, all shouting and screaming. Ringing out clearer than the others, a single speaker goaded the crowd. The orator, most likely a man, seemed to pander toward the throng of voices. Every phrase of gibberish conjured cheers, raucous laughter, or shouts of hostility.

When she was forced to stop, a heavy hand clamping onto her shoulder, the bag was pulled free. Catherine found herself in a plaza, a massive opening seemingly designed for specific purpose of letting hundreds gather together. And hundreds had gathered, or at least nearly a hundred, standing among the ruins of what must have been a glorious city. Mounds of rubble and skeletal remains of massive skyscrapers ringed the pavilion.

Around her, huddled in a less than perfect line, were the others from her caravan. She recognized other mercenaries hired on for the trip north, the people she'd traveled with in her flight from D.C. Ahead of her was the caravan driver, the woman who'd hired Catherine despite her more than dubious, and false, background. From where they stood, a stage built from ruined sheets of rusted metal, the assembled prisoners were in full view of the mob that had gathered, and from the glares and feral snarls, Catherine doubted this was some strange form of northern greeting.

"Bienvenue à Montréal," the man who'd spoken earlier shouted. Though he gestured as though welcoming them, the act was an obvious mockery. The crowd reacted with more shouting, the feral hatred in their voices clear despite their numbers. The speaker, the man who incited the crowd to such volume, was well dressed, though spattered with blood, a black suit and a tall hat almost masking the barbarism in his eyes.

Though those in the assembled throng wore armor, similar fineries could be spotted beneath. Catherine's trained eye also spotted a weapon in every hand, another tucked into their belts or strapped to their backs. Despite their clothing and behavior, these were soldiers, or at the very least, fighters.

"Qui va nous protéger contre les diables étrangers?" the man asked the audience, receiving another cry of collective indignity. As he turned, the speaker drew an insidious machete from his belt. He pointed to the caravan driver, and two, burly men grabbed her by either arm, pulling her toward the speaker. Both men brought the woman to a small, wooden block and pressed her down until her neck sat on the block's top, her head just over the edge. With a note of terror and disgust, Catherine identified the dark stains on the cube of wood as dried blood.

"Trois, deux, un!" With a single, downward chop, the speaker severed the caravan leader's head. Clutching her hair in his hand, he held the decapitated head up for the audience to see, and they cheered again. Shouting another garble of gibberish, the executioner pointed at Catharine. The two, burly men came for her, grabbing her shoulders and forcing her toward the chopping block as a third removed the caravan driver's body. The man in the tall hat took a clump of her hair in his fist and pushed her toward the still wet slab of wood.

As the smell of fresh blood invaded her nostrils, she tried to pull her head up, to keep her neck from touching that shallow pool of crimson. As she did, the speaker shouted another phrase of gibberish, garnering fresh laughter from the audience. When they pushed her down, the caravan leader's blood feeling cold against her neck, Catharine realized that they were laughing at her.

"Trios," The man shouted, the crowd following along, matching his jubilation and frenetic energy as he held his bloody machete in the air. "Deux…"

Undoubtedly, he would have continued, returning to "un," and severing Catherine's head. However, a well-timed bullet slammed into his chest. He fell, his fingers still curled in her hair, dragging the mercenary to the stage floor with him. All at once, the plaza erupted in gunfire, dozens of newcomers pouring from the surrounding rubble to open fire on the audience. They were followed by Molotov cocktails, firebombs that were lobbed into the audience sowing mayhem and death.

"Vive la révolution!" Catherine heard the newcomers cry dozens of times, as they viciously attacked those who'd been awaiting her execution. The audience responded quickly, turning and retaliating against the ambush. As she pried the dead man's fingers from her hair, the roar of machinegun fire became deafening, smothering even the sound of her own breathing.

Free of the dead man, she slammed her wrists into his upturned machete, cutting the rope that bound her hands together. As she desperately looked for an escape, she saw the other prisoners get cut down, one after another. Either the newcomers were careless with their aim, or they were purposely slaughtering those foreign to their country. Either way, they didn't look to be a rescue force.

"This way," a new voice shouted over the din of battle. Catherine turned to find one of the other captives gesturing for her to follow him. The other survivor led her to the back of the stage, to a manhole. Following him into the sewer tunnels, she ran as hard and fast as she could, even outpacing the man who'd been leading her at times. Only when the sound of the battle above was distant, did she slow down and catch her breath.

"What the hell was that?" Catherine asked, her heart pounding against her chest. While she'd run further without straining herself, she was certain she'd come within seconds of having her head removed, and it had left her shaken.

"The revolution," her companion replied. He didn't look like he was in a much better state than she, his face pale, and his hands shaking. "Welcome to Montreal."