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Old 01-29-2011, 08:09 PM   #1
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Another Time, Another Place - Chapter 8

Hello again

We never intended this story to get as long or as serious/dark as it did in this bit, but half the fun of writing is when stories take a different direction without asking permission. *L* And there's still some silliness in there as well.

The creepy darkness continues, as the band learns more about their evil doubles...


Chapter 8

When Adam had finally regained the powers of speech and movement, he had fled his room in a blind panic, and nearly tripped over the guard on his way down the stairs. In the courtyard, he'd nearly forgotten which way Edge had gone, but then remembered and bolted up the stairs to the north-east tower. He was stopped halfway up by a very muscular guard, who informed him politely but firmly that Lord David did not wish to be disturbed. Adam, feeling quite disturbed enough for both of them, tried to protest, but the guard refused to allow him to go any further.

Finally gathering his wits, Adam tried to use the awe in which he and his band-mates were apparently held to his advantage.

"If you don't let me past, there shall be consequences," he said, drawing himself up as best he could. He wished he'd changed into different clothes - the guard's uniform looked a lot more impressive than his wrinkled t-shirt and trousers.

The guard was unperturbed. "It'll be worse for me if I do," he said shortly, and said no more.

Adam went back downstairs and trudged disconsolately across the courtyard. What was he going to do? Suddenly he spied a page running past.

"Hey, you! Yes... come over here please," he said, and the boy edged warily closer. "Can you take a message to E... to Lord David for me?"

The boy nodded. "Y-yes my lord, what message shall I take?"

"Er... tell him that I wish to see him as soon as possible. In my room."

"In your solar? You don't mean your bedchambers, do you my lord?" the boy asked, looking as though he was risking much by asking for clarification.

Adam floundered. Apparently it was unusual to ask to see his fellow lords in his bedroom, which he supposed to was fair enough, all things considered. "Yes, that's what I meant. Off you go now."

The boy streaked away toward Edge's tower, and Adam hurried back up his own. He had no idea which of the rooms in it was his "solar", but out of his own guard's sight, he opened up several doors until he found a comfortable-looking chamber that was filled with the late-afternoon sunlight and contained several padded couches and low tables. He waited there with his fingers and legs crossed.

Several minutes later, a serving woman rushed into the room, and let out a small squeak when she saw Adam there. "My lord," she said, giving a deep curtsey. "I thought only to light a fire and bring refreshments for yourself and Lord David." She wrung her hands nervously.

"Er, yes, that's fine, thank you," Adam said, and the woman shot him an incredulous look. Adam told himself to stop being so polite, or everyone would suspect that something wasn't normal.

Why shouldn't politeness be normal, Adam thought angrily. He didn't think he liked these alternate versions of themselves much at all.

The servant bustled about in the room, lighting the fire (although the day was quite pleasant), and rushed out again, returning with two other women laden down with trays of food and drink. They put them on the table and disappeared again.

Shortly afterwards, someone else entered the room, preceded by the page Adam had sent. "Lord David to see you, my lord," he said, bowing Edge into the room.

Adam hardly recognised him at first, as he was decked out from head to foot in black leather. He looked as if he'd tried on Bono's old Fly costume. Or his Evil Edge costume from the Elevation video... except that hadn't included a long black cape of velvet, fastened at the throat with a silver chain and a bright green jewel. His boots were soft suede, and a gleaming silver dagger sat in his belt. The belt buckle itself was wrought in the shape of two crossed swords, and the same symbol was embroidered on his black doublet, in silver thread. Adam saw that Edge had also donned several silver rings, each sporting a different coloured gem. He even had a black leather skullcap, filling the role of his usual beanie.

"Getting into character?" Adam asked as soon as they were alone. It took some effort to convince the servants that they could pour their own wine and choose their own pastries.

Edge grimaced. "It seemed to be the safest thing to do. These clothes make my skin crawl," he added, shuddering. "You'll never believe what I found in my room."

"Oh, I think I will," Adam said, avoiding the wine and holding a pastry in a shaking hand.

"Oh yeah?"

"Well, there's a mostly naked woman chained to my bed. His bed," Adam corrected himself. "She kicked me in the stomach and seemed to expect me to beat her bloody for it. She was covered in scars, and... and she was branded." Adam's stomach churned again, and he put the pastry down, untouched.

Edge blinked. "What did you do?"

"Nothing. I panicked and tried to go up to your room to tell you, but the guard wouldn't let me past."

Edge frowned. "I'd rather that than what's in my room. You're just as lucky you didn't see it."

"What's in there?" Adam asked.

Edge told him, and Adam agreed that Edge probably had the worst of the deal.

"Do you think we should get Bono and Larry in here?" Adam asked, and Edge nodded. Adam despatched two more pages, and ten minutes later, the Lords Paul and Laurence were ushered into the room, by a very dubious-looking servant.

All four of them looked very pale, and Edge didn't think it was just because three of them were now dressed in their double's clothes, which were mostly black. Larry and Bono told them what was in their rooms, and Edge, after a pause, did the same. They all compared the heraldic devices that they'd seen on the shields in their rooms, and that most of their clothing had also been emblazoned with, and all agreed that everything they'd seen was very, very disturbing. Clearly the medieval tone to this dimension went further than the technology and architecture.

"Why haven't you changed, Adam?" Bono asked. "You look very conspicuous."

"So do you," Adam muttered. "I was going to," he went on in a louder voice, "but I got distracted when the slave woman chained to my bed kicked me in the stomach."

That shut them all up, he noted.

"What do we do, Edge?" Adam asked plaintively.

"I think the best thing would be to get out of here as quickly as possible," Edge said. "We shouldn't have come this far. If the alternative us-es come back... Well, I'm sure you've all gathered that we're not very nice here."

"Maybe they're evil robot us-es," Bono said, latching onto an idea. "You can build good robot us-es to fight them, Edge! You said there were tools and things in your room..."

"You've watched Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey once too often," Edge said, rolling his eyes. "They're not robots, there's not enough technology to make robots. They're just bad us-es."

"But we can fight them, can't we?" Bono asked.

"We can't interfere," Larry said, after a moment when he had expected Edge to say that instead. "It'll mess up their timeline or something."

"But how did it come to this? How could we turn out like this, greedy and cruel and sadistic? And how come everything's medieval?" Adam was confused.

"It's an alternative dimension, it doesn't have to make sense," Edge said distractedly.

"Well, that's cleared that up," Larry snapped. "Let's get out of here then."

"I am not leaving that woman chained to the wall!" Adam said heatedly.

"I want to know why those kids were so scared of me sending them away. Surely freedom is better than being a slave or a servant?" Bono said, a determined look on his face.

"Did you see the kids in that village, Bono?" Larry put in, and the singer scowled.

"I want to understand how we're capable of this, Larry," Adam said. "No matter where we go after this, even if we get home, I'm going to want to know how I could be the sort of person to chain a woman to a bed and probably rape and beat her!"

"It's too dangerous, you heard what he said," Larry said, his voice rising and jerking a thumb at Edge.

"Keep your voice down," Edge said quietly. "They're probably used to hearing us... the other us-es, argue, but they don't need to hear any details."

"How d'you figure they're used to us arguing?" Adam asked.

Edge looked at them all with raised eyebrows. "One, because we're us and we argue all the time. Two, I don't think the other us-es trust each other. All the guards on each tower, and the way that servant looked at us... they're probably expecting us to try to kill each other at any moment."

"One of the kids tried to talk me into not coming to see you," Bono said, understanding dawning on his face.

"I suppose if you were killed, he'd be sent to wherever he was so scared to go," Edge reasoned. "Adam, you said that woman is still in your room?"

"I can't see how she could have escaped," Adam grimaced.

Edge stood up. "The only way we'll find out what the other us-es are like is if we ask someone, and she can't raise the alarm while she's captive in your room," he said to Adam.

The bassist spluttered indignantly. "You're not suggesting that we just get information out of her and then leave her there?!"

"You wanted to understand, didn't you? We are brutal, ruthless people here, Adam. How else could we have gathered so much wealth and inspire so much fear?"

Bono was scowling at the guitarist. "I think that doublet's too tight, it's cutting off the blood to his brain," he said.

Edge sighed. "Of course we're going to let the woman go. I was just making a point, all right? Come on Adam, show us to your room."

The four of them trooped out of the room, and Adam led them up the stairs. They passed the guard, whose eyes widened once in surprise, then betrayed no further emotion, but his grip tightened on his pike. He expected trouble, that much was clear.

Adam didn't know if he expected the woman to still be standing defiantly next to the bed with her fists clenched, but he certainly didn't expect to see her sobbing in a miserable heap on the stone floor. The moment she heard him enter, she looked up through red eyes.

"My lord, please forgive me... a moment of madness, a woman's weakness, please my lord... I will please you better, no... no matter what... please..."

Adam was almost more disturbed by her begging than he had been when he'd realised she was a captive in the first place. Somehow it seemed that her spirit had been broken in the time since he'd fled the room. Had leaving her alone to imagine her punishment been crueller than the beating she had expected? Perhaps she had family that his doppelganger had threatened... perhaps she feared more than beatings and rape.

Bono came into the room behind him, staring incredulously at the woman. Larry pushed forward and stared as well, and the woman stared back. She seemed to understand something, and swallowed. "If... if that is what my lord wishes, I shall please the other lords as well," she stammered.

Then Edge came into the room, and the woman blanched, and seemed to deflate completely. "No, please Lord Adam... not that... I'm sorry, I shall obey you, I swear... please..."

Edge had gone even whiter than the woman, and looked sick again. "For God's sake, Adam, unchain her!"

"I don't know where the key is..." Adam took a step towards the woman, and she screamed, then fainted.

"Great." Larry rolled his eyes and sat on one of the low couches.

Bono knelt next to the woman and patted her face gently, while Adam searched high and low for the key to the shackles. He tried, but couldn't ignore the livid brand on her thigh. It looked all too fresh.

Edge sat down too, his knees unable to support him. "What does she think I'll do?" he asked in a small voice. "What have I done?" He hoped desperately that there wasn't an "A"-shaped brand among the items in his room.

"It's not really you," Larry said, trying to be comforting.

"She's terrified of me, Larry! Why would she be terrified of me? More than she is of him?" Edge gestured vaguely towards Adam.

Larry thought he knew, he thought it was pretty obvious and that Edge must know too, but he said nothing.

Bono had succeeded in bringing the woman around, although she looked ready to faint again at any moment. Edge stayed as far away and as out-of-sight he could, but her eyes, with whites showing all around, invariably slid in his direction.

"Here, sit down," Adam said, patting the bed. He sat himself down in a chair across the room, not wishing to seem threatening.

The woman seemed to think this was a prelude to sex, and began to remove her wispy garments.

"No, that won't be necessary," Adam said hurriedly. Baffled, the woman put them back on. Bono had been rummaging in Adam's wardrobe, and draped a cloak over the woman's shoulders. It had the chain-and-shackle badge sewn onto it, and Adam shivered.

"We want to talk to you," Bono said. "We won't hurt you."

The woman eyed them all, especially the bit of Edge she could see.

"We're not who you think we are," Adam explained. "I know we look like people you know, but we're not them. What's your name?"

The woman's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I... you... My lord may call me whatever name pleases him," she said. Clearly the other version of Adam had taken her identity along with her freedom and dignity.

"It pleases me to know the name your mother gave you," Adam said gently.

"My mother gave me to you," she spat, then looked terrified that she had let the words slip out.

"What's your real name?" Bono tried. "Please tell us, we just want to talk to you. Please?" He turned his best puppy-dog eyes on her, and she seemed to relent a fraction.

"My lord Adam already knows my name," she whispered.

"Just humour me," Adam drawled.

"Go on, love," Bono coaxed. "It must be a beautiful name, to go with a beautiful woman."

She stiffened again, and Adam kicked Bono in the shin. "Go easy," he hissed.

Bono rubbed his shin. "Sorry."

The woman had missed none of this exchange, and was now looking very closely at Bono and Adam.

"I promise, we want nothing from you but information. We'll set you free if you can tell us where that... that Lord Adam keeps the key," Bono said. "We're not lords. Where we come from, everyone calls me Bono. We make music, and no one's afraid of us. Except when Adam sings," he added, only to receive another kick from Adam, although it was half-hearted. Larry gave a snort.

"Do you know where the key is?" Adam asked hopefully. He saw no chance of getting those heavy chains off without it.

The woman shook her head mutely, still staring at them all, her brow knotted in confusion and thought. A very long silence followed, until finally she spoke.

"My name is Leanne," she said, audibly trying to regain her courage. "And... and the key... he always wears the key on a chain. He never takes it off."

Adam swore. "Edge, can you do anything about those chains?"

Leanne squeaked, still terrified of Edge.

"I don't think she wants me close enough to look," Edge said dully.

Bono knelt down next to Leanne again. "He's not Lord David," he explained. "You know how I said that where we come from, everyone calls me Bono? Back there, everyone calls him The Edge. You don't have to be afraid of him, or any of us. We want to help you," he said, then trailed off as the woman shoved herself away from them again in a fresh spasm of fear.

"We call him that here, too," she whispered. "The Lord of Edges."

Edge felt a chill down his back. He thought of the swords crossed on his doublet, the evil-looking blades that bracketed the shield in his room, the many and varied edges and barbs and points on the devices his double had created, and wondered if he could ever stand to be called 'The Edge' again. "Call me Dave," he told the room at large in a rough voice. "I'm not Lord David, I'm nothing to do with edges, I'm just Dave. Is that okay?"

The others just looked at him, not knowing what to say.

"Our friend Dave," Bono resumed with a quick glance at the guitarist, "would like to look at these chains and see if he can work out how to get you out of them. Is that okay? Can he come and have a look?"

Leanne cast wide-eyed looks between them all and nodded again. Edge approached, keeping as far from her as he could (for her sake - she trembled more violently the closer he got), and inspected the chains, the shackles, and where they were connected to a solid iron ring in the wall.

He stepped back, shaking his head. "They're too heavy to cut through with anything I can find quickly," he said. "We'll either have to try picking the lock or wait until Lord bloody Adam comes back."

Two hours later, after a brief and distasteful trip back to his own room, Edge gave up on the lock-picking idea.

During this time, Leanne had seemed to realise that the men in the room were very different from the men she knew, and had regained some of the self-possession that Adam remembered so vividly.

"I'm sorry I kicked you, m... Adam," she said to the bassist. "I just wanted to hurt him, to humiliate him... even if he beat me to death afterwards, it would have been worth it. I would still have won... But then when you left for so long, I thought about my family, and that you were maybe hurting them to punish me, or that you had told Lord Paul, and he would send my brothers back to the mines..."

"What? What mines?" Adam said, at the same time as Bono asked "Those are your brothers?"

"The mines," Leanne repeated. "All your... I mean, their wealth comes from the mines. Silver and gold and jewels, and iron for making weapons. Lord Paul sends children to work there because they eat less, and the tunnels don't have to be dug so big..."

"What?!" "CHILDREN?!" "What are you talking about??"

All four men voiced angry protests, shouting over one another until Leanne started to shrink back in fear again.

"Shush!" Adam finally said, clapping a hand over Bono's mouth and stemming his furious tirade.

"Surely grown men would be able to work harder," Edge said, horrified by this fresh revelation.

"Most of the men are off at war," Leanne replied. "The lords are always waging war against other lords, taking their lands and enslaving their people. They control most of the land between the mountains and the sea, now. And anyone else with any wealth finds themselves accused of a terrible crime... Lord Laurence judges them harshly, unless they can pay the necessary fine. In gold, or land, or... flesh." She looked away, one hand gingerly touching the inflamed brand on her thigh. Adam and Larry stared at one another in silent fury.

"And that village we saw on the way in... is that normal? Are all the villages like that?" Bono asked.

"That village is lucky, Lord Paul likes the work of the smith there. Enough to pay him now and then, anyway. I think it amuses him to pay the smith just often enough that he can buy food for the children there and they don't quite starve." Leanne's eyes grew hard with hatred, and Bono remembered a similar look on the face of a village woman. He imagined he was probably wearing one like that himself, if he didn't just look as ill as he felt.

"Why doesn't anyone fight back?" Larry demanded.

"We try," Leanne sighed, "but it's hard with most of the men away, or too old or crippled to do much. The women mostly try to get enough food for the children, which is hard enough. All the guards and servants are much better off working for the lords, they know that. We can't bribe any of them because we have nothing, and if they betray us, they are rewarded. Most of them are protecting their own families, anyway, and smuggling out food to feed them. Sometimes they can get extra."

Silence greeted these words.

"E... Dave," Bono said. "We have to do something. We can't just leave and let the bad us-es keep doing this."

Edge said nothing.

"We're not supposed to interfere," Larry said, but his voice was uncertain and he looked at Edge.

Edge still said nothing.

"Dave," Adam said, and put a hand on his arm.

"Of course we have to do something," Edge finally said. "We will have to take their places."


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Old 01-29-2011, 08:17 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting when it was my turn...now it's my turn for computer troubles.

I have to say that I think this bit is my favourite. The whole Evil U2 part.

and I really need to stop reading bad-uses as bad-asses.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:33 PM   #3
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No worries... Hope Fred is okay!

Well, Evil U2 are kinda bad-ass...
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:11 PM   #4
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Yipes. That's not gonna end well.



But that image of evil Edge. Dayum!
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
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Old 01-31-2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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Yipes. That's not gonna end well.



But that image of evil Edge. Dayum!

I don't know about Alison, but I had a moment at that image of evil Edge too.
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:50 AM   #6
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This story is great! I've been following it since you started posting, but this is the first chance I've had to comment. Looking forward to seeing what happens next
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