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Somewhere on Bosworth Field, 1485

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From History of Richard III, Act V, Scene 3
(with massive apologies to William Shakespeare, via

[A large field, near sunset, full of milling soldiers; enter King Richard III and various nobles and lackeys.] 

Richard III. Up with my tent there! Here will I lie tonight; 
But where to-morrow? Well, all's one for that. 
Who hath descried the number of the foe?

Duke of Norfolk. Six or seven thousand is their utmost power.

Richard III. Why, our battalion trebles that account: 
Besides, the king's name is a tower of strength, 
Which they upon the adverse party want. 
Up with my tent there! Valiant gentlemen, 
Let us survey the vantage of the field 
Call for some men of sound direction 
Let's want no discipline, make no delay, 
For, lords, to-morrow is a busy day. 

[Nearby, John and Rodney have been listening; as the king leaves, they turn their attention to a large iron tube that looks like an oversized cannon. Because that's what it is. Also, Johnis wearing feathered wings.]

John. King Richard's name a tower of strength may be;
Though built upon our loyal backs. And wings. [Shakes arms.]
I'm ready for tomorrow's maiden flight.

Rodney. I fear I may require a bit more time.

John. Valiant Mackay! Our king's best engineer!

Rodney. His only, as you've oft reminded me.

John. Why dost thou hesitate? In battle, too?

Rodney. I fear - I must confess, I fear for you!

John. But how can Richard's goodness e'er allow
Misfortune on his warriors to befall?
Zephyrus himself will surely guide my flight
Into the heart of traitorous Richmond's camp.

Rodney. I challenge you to name a time or place
Where meddling gods helped mortals such as us.
There's nothing 'bout to-morrow pre-ordained
Just signs enough to royally perturb
Those royalty in want of harsh perturbing.

I shan't allow you, Shepherd John, to speak
Of gods and fate, while naming Richard good!

John. What choice have I, o son of Clan Mackay? 
To just once fly, I'll face the risk of death.
But if I die, please may it be for good…

Rodney. And thus you've cast our Richard in this role?
Open your eyes! At best he's nothing more
Than all the rest of them whose ancient sires
Did conquer ours, while ours were busy hoeing.

John. Or building thus. [Nods at cannon.] Or making love, not war.

Rodney. Aye, love. [Sighs] John, if you do yet soar aloft,
Please, let it be for love of flight, and not
The glory of our king, or any else.

John. Would it not be for your sure glory, too?

Rodney. You say I seek a share, gained by your blood?

John. Well, phras'ed thus, it does sound somewhat gross.
That does not take away its claim to truth.
Do not believe I hold this toward you ill!
If I do fly (and Richard rules the day)
The accolades that may upon us fall
Will be deserved; yours much more than mine.

Rodney. You've asked to fly; and so I've made this thing
With ample funding from our fractious king - 
Unraveling the full plots of my heart
Is not a game I find I care to play.

John. So, shall we do it? Shall we make a test?

Rodney. No, I cannot. You'll fly, but not for these.

[Enter random soldiers of various ranks.]

Soldier One. Hear I treason? And from the proud Mackay?

Rodney. This thing is my creation! Child of my mind.
To countermand its usage is my right.

Solider Two. Some child you have there, child of the mind! 
Develop'd to Richard's taste, on Richard's dime.

Higher-ranking soldier. In such as proud Mackay, cowardliness 
Is of the mind, and leaves the flesh untouched.
Yet still it is desertion, still a plague.
I fear we must depart you from your head.

[Rodney is taken to a contraption that looks something like a primitive guillotine. A crowd assembles and restrains John as Rodney's neck is put into a semicircular notch. The blade is raised, and then released… only to stop short.]

Executioner. Who hath the oiling of this thing neglected?

Rodney. It's simple gravity. Just try again.

[Try two.]

Rodney. Oh, let me take a look… Ah, there's the fault!

[John issues a yell of rage and frees himself from the crowd, brandishing a sword he's liberated.]

John. All stand aside, or by this blade you'll die! 

[John easily hacks his way to Rodney and cuts his bindings. They run this way and that, dodging soldiers, and eventually end up standing beside the cannon.]

John. The compass points are blocked to us; so, up.

[As the sun sets, they toss a few sacks labeled "cannyn powdyr" into the cannon and jump in after. Rodney pulls a string, there's a massive boom, and John and Rodney go flying overRichard's tent, John flapping his wings, Rodney clinging from below.] 

Richard III. [Speaking to a noble] Send out a pursuivant at arms 
To Stanley's regiment; bid him bring his power…
[Looks up, blinks, shakes head, continues self-destructive machinations] 
…Before sunrising, lest his son George fall…

[Eventually John and Rodney land in some bramble, far from everyone else; in the growing dark, they cannot be seen from any distance. John takes off his now-mangled feather wings.]

Rodney. Well, that went well. We're both now unemployed.
[Dusts himself off.] 
You rescued me, John. One might think you cared.

John. Were we not English, I'd profess my…

Rodney. Deep regard?

John. That'll do. [Sighs.]
You can build another launcher? Soon?

Rodney. With rabbits, nuts, and berries for my tools?

John. And me.

Rodney. Forswearing kings, forswearing towers of strength?

John. I'll find my strength in other sorts, I think.
But you, Mackay - can you their riches leave?
And not regret their 'bandoned patronage?

Rodney. Their world has little use for such as us. 
In wartime, we may have a part to play,
Support to those who fancy many strengths
But wars end, or our part in them goes dim
And we must sink into the common lot,
Or be that which we've glimpsed, and now abhor.
No! Better to be yeomen, if we can,
Thought odd by neighbors, tinkering when we may.

John. I cannot promise you I'll wear this well.
That I'll not jump at any chance to fly.
If not through fire, then from some lofty tower…

Rodney. Perhaps you may. Who knows what genius yields?

John. That's my Mackay! Now freed from Bosworth Field.