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Innocence and Justice by Sophie
There is a sequel to this story which can be found at :
Heaven Sent

 

Part 2

The figure who climbed off the motor bike was ageless; a young face gazed around at the collection of wooden buildings that were his destination, but there was a composure in his eyes that defied the placement of years. Rich had settled his concern for the moment, using a natural curiosity in its place, and the form who scanned the vicinity for danger was the Immortal once more. Richard Ryan was far from the boy he had been when Duncan had taken him in; he still wore jeans, but now they were black and less than two years old; his jacket and boots were leather and a white shirt set them off with a style that would have never matched the street-punk. A healthy interest in keeping his own head had sured the fighter's nerves, and he was ready if his opponent showed himself.

There was no one around, this wharf was deserted; the high-pitched slice of metal being slid out of its protection cut against the soft rumble of the water close by, and marked the production of the elegant weapon. His body taut, his instincts honed for the search, the young Immortal headed slowly towards his goal.

The address was a large wooden storehouse, which, from the outside, looked like it could do with a lot of renovation before it could hold any goods. The side door was hanging half off its hinges, and the name of the company which owned it was illegible where decades old paint had peeled off the wood. At first glance, there were absolutely no signs of life. The wary creature was not convinced, so he chose to make a perimeter sweep. He was a few feet away from turning the corner to the back of the premises, when his supernature froze him. The world shifted, and he knew. His body tingling, Richie regained his being quickly and skidded around the corner, weapon at the ready. Yet, the Immortal he had felt was gone, as a back door slammed shut.

"Not like you to run away, Gervace," he muttered, steeling his soul to a fight.

There was the edge, the shard of excitement that ran through his spirit, urging him to battle. It was time to finish the confrontation. The warrior reached for the door handle, every fibre of his being singing with the thought of the clash of wills, and the Game made itself known.

The entrance opened onto a corridor of offices at the back of the warehouse; yet a door opposite, leading to the open space within was still moving. Without hesitation, Richie followed the trail. Adrenaline pumping through his system, his features set in a grimace of determination, Ryan was a formidable sight. His sword held lightly in his palm, the Immortal surveyed the battle ground. The room was totally empty, except for a couple of pillars holding up a roof which, in places, let in streams of sunshine. That was the only illumination, the windows were covered in grime, and electric light had long since ceased to function. The area was grey to the vision, and if someone was out there, the youth couldn't see them. The Immortal adversary was well hidden. The slim figure stalked purposefully further into the room and chose to make his own challenge.

"Show yourself, and we can finish this!" he yelled coolly to anyone listening.

The buzz, and Ryan spun on the spot as he sensed a body flying towards him. Raising his sword in instinctive defence, the young man felt the jar of blades touching and his vision momentarily caught up. A grunt came from his opponent as he pushed him away, and with some surprise, the young man realised that this was not Hemar. The Immortal a few feet away from him preparing for another strike was about his height and dark-haired. He looked like he had been in his thirties when he had died, but he was quite stout and was handling his sword with a lack of practice. The weapon was two handed and looked quite heavy, and the man was putting some effort into wielding it. The young man's surprise nearly cost him a bad slice to his arm, but instinct took over and he dodged. The stranger stumbled and his blade hit ground, with him almost falling onto it. Richie was unsure of himself; his instinct was to raise his sword and take this man's head, but it was so obvious that the attacker's sword play was weaker and almost desperate. Instead of moving, the youth just watched as the form struggled to right himself. Still he raised his weapon as his combatant turned on his again. His arm above his head, side on, trying to decide what to do, the young man backed out of reach of a surprisingly steady slice to his ribs. There was a sign of old strength and skill in the man's fight as he swung again and again, and Richie deflected the blows, but there was no contest. The young Immortal wasn't sure how to call a truce once a fight had begun; with Mac, it took only a look to say give it a rest, but the stranger didn't seem to be taking any notice of his lack of gusto.

"Stop playing with me, boy," the rotund fighter growled angrily with a European accent, "fight me."

Ryan wasn't sure if he was dealing with a madman, but the figure was raining down blows which could have been lethal, so he chose to comply.

"Whatever you say, Bub," he muttered, and moved into action.

Physique hardened once more, and power flowed through his muscles as he brought his training into effect. The change was visible, and his opponent recognised it. The rapier and its owner moved with greater speed and agility than the broader pair and who became the defender was not an issue. Teeth clenched and mind focused on the strikes, the younger form sliced at the other weapon. He wasn't intending to kill, this hapless fighter was not his quarry, but he needed to disarm. A nick on the man's huge belly was a distraction, then came a quick shove at the bulk and the form was on the floor. Richie stood over the fallen man and stared into his eyes; sword raised, he questioned calmly, "Had enough?"

He remained poised to make a point, but his gaze said that he wasn't meaning to take a Quickening. There was a moment's pause as the message was conveyed. That was long enough for the tables to be turned.

"No!" came a female shriek from the shadows, and it was quickly followed by the sharp crack of a gun.

Richie felt the bullet before his eyes found the gun's owner, and he staggered backwards in shock. Pain, sharp, ripping, ran out from his chest and he knew that the shot was fatal. His confused gaze locked with that of a girl of no more than eighteen; she was scruffy, her dark hair scraped back in a rough bun, her clothes covered in grime, a lethal magnum held in shaking palms, but she was an angel. Dying did something strange to the brain, Richie could attest to that, and this time, his harbinger of doom took on the form of a beautiful creature. Biblical images of God's messengers filled his head as his heart gave up. Death came quickly, and with a groan, the young man's eyes rolled in his head and he collapsed.


The image of his lovely murderer still in his mind, Richie drew in a new breath. The memory of the agony of death caught him with a familiar sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, and he coughed back heat in a dry throat. As his eyes gradually focused and the memory dimmed, the youth groaned as his gaze fell on his chest. There was a large hole in his shirt and it was covered in his own blood.

"This is not my wardrobe's day," he moaned, and rolled his eyes to the ceiling.

It was then he saw his hands; they were tied above him over a hefty looking pipe. The young man moaned again as he took in the fact that he was propped up against a wall with his wrists bound. He wiggled his fingers and they tingled nastily; it had been some time since he had been fixed in position. At least he was still in one piece.

The discomfort of the reawakening ebbed away slowly, but the pins and needles in his arms replaced it. The youth shifted as much as he could and pulled at his bonds; neither the rope, nor the pipe budged, even swinging from his wrists wouldn't even strain the well-chosen hold. His flesh stinging where the rough braid cut at it, the helpless Immortal decided it was best to give up and wait for his captors to return. They hadn't looked very professional, so he hoped that they weren't after his head. The young man closed his eyes and rested his head against the back wall; it had been a long day.

Without vision, hearing began to play a greater role in the world that Richie sensed; he could hear boats and sea-birds, but most of all there was the sound of water lapping up against stone. The wall was damp, and the closeness of the sound told him that the dingy room in which he was being held was, at least, partly below the water level. The conclusion didn't make him feel any more comfortable. Weariness and boredom together helped the youth into a light doze.

The Immortal drew in a sharp breath, and his eyes snapped open once more as his unusual senses alerted him to another of his kind. He was vigilant and shivering involuntarily partly from damp cold, partly from the walk over his grave, as the door opposite him creaked open. He was angry, and he set his visage to tell the entrant so. Yet, as a body appeared, lit by light coming down the stairs, his jaw went slack. Richie had felt physical pain, and his emotions had been torn at times, but what he felt when a tiny form peeped around the door nearly brought him instantaneously to tears. The person before him was Immortal, he knew that without a doubt, and for the first time he considered that it could be a curse. The face that looked at him was of a girl, and she could have been no more than three, or four when she died; blues eyes blinked curiously at him, and blond curls danced around a pudgy, open aspect. The young man couldn't take his eyes off the tiny form as she grinned and bounced into the room. He took in the bonnie green dress she wore and the small, short fingers which held tightly to a wooden doll which showed its age even if she didn't; he felt revulsion. It wasn't an emotion directed at the child, but at the power which had left her trapped in such a young, helpless body for eternity. It was a horrible feeling, and the youth shuddered anew.

His visitor stopped a little way off and stared openly at the bound form before her. Richie stared right back. She seemed so innocent, without a care, the young man wondered if the trial life had given her had sent her mad. The girl shifted on her spot, showing her insecurity of the stranger, but there was curiosity in her gaze, and she was going to follow it up.

"Hallo," she began, her sound the incomplete form of early childhood.

"H-Hi," her uncomfortable associate responded with a brief smile; despite himself, he couldn't help but wonder at the sweetness of her countenance.

"Pol says, you like us," came the next disclosure, and the girl held out the doll in reference.

The captive glanced at the figure which had long since lost its dress and painted hair, and wondered if Pol marked the eternal-child's age. Then he returned his sight to the painful form.

"Yes," Ryan answered, at a loss for anything else to say.

That seemed to settle one thing in the 'young' mind, and the youth tensed as her form moved quickly on him. Richie didn't know what to expect, his visitor didn't appear to be carrying any sort of weapon, but he wondered if she could hide a knife in a large pocket on her skirts. He was mildly surprised, and relieved when she merely sat down hard on his legs. Wincing, he remained a statue as her face was turned up to him, and she grinned.

"You too big," she observed with a shrug.

"'Spose I am huge to a three-year-old," the helpless form shrugged, and relaxed a little.

The child was bringing out a sense of ease in him without apparently trying, and despite that instantaneous reaction to her, the young man couldn't help liking her. He smiled as she ignored his statement completely, turning instead to her doll. He watched her silently as she played with the clothes-peg arms for a while, fascinated by her toddler game. The quiet didn't last long, as his companion drew a conclusion.

"Like Dada an' Hawee," the young mind told him.

"And who are you?" Richie asked.

"Nairpie-An," came out of the girl's mouth.

"I'm Richie," the Immortal finished the unusual exchange of names.

"Rich-ee," his attendant tried, but the second syllable came out more like a sneeze than anything else.

Her bearer just laughed, and she grinned once more. There their conversation ended; both Immortal's heads turned towards the door as footsteps told them of a newcomer. There was no buzz, but something else spoke to Richie's soul. It was the owner of the gun who strode into the room, and then the young man knew that she was one of them, but she had not yet died. The young woman was not carrying a pistol this time, instead, she was holding her captive's rapier. Light from above lit her outline from behind, and the youth had to admit to himself that he found her more than a little attractive. However, now was not the time to follow his libido, and so, for once, Richard Ryan clamped down on his hormones and set his features to passive coolness. The Immortal-to-be's expression widened as her eyes adjusted to the gloom and she recognised the child.

"Penelope-Anne," she called quickly, concern on her face, "come over here."

The girl looked up apologetically at her chair, as if embarrassed by rudeness.

"I think you orta do as she says, she's got the sword," he grinned easily; with the youngster present, despite his bonds, the young man couldn't work up any worry.

Penelope-Anne nodded as if he had said something with the wisdom of the gods and then stood up smartly and marched over to her other companion.

"Go get Dada for me, please, Annie," the teenager softened, smiling down at the small form.

Her face hardened once more as the child disappeared and her attention returned to her prisoner. She held out the sword and walked forward, anger blazing in her eyes; the blade settled on Richie's shoulder.

"You nearly took my father's head," she hissed dangerously.

Ryan looked up at her and responded calmly, "And if you were going to take mine, you'd have done it already."

The attempt to intimidate a failure, the girl paused, her manner still angry. Her captive merely stared back, he wasn't about to provoke anything, there was a foetal look of danger in his holder's gaze; idly he found his brain wondering if he had had the same hidden side to his nature when Duncan had 'adopted' him. Richie found something compelling about the creature before him, maybe it was the affinity between them, maybe it was the far more basic instinct of a man to a woman, he didn't know which, but he felt a pull in body and soul all the same. His emotion must have been evident in his manner, because there was a reaction. The young woman snorted and turned away, trying to hide a pain that the recognition gave her. Her voice was sharp as she spoke next, but the blade of her tone was marked with hurt rather than animosity.

"Why do you all look at me like that?" she spat with venom. "As if I'm some sort of taboo, but fascinating at the same time."

The youth raised an eyebrow, prior knowledge of Immortality was something that was a serious grey area in the rules of the Game. He was chastised with a glance of razors as his surprise was gauged, and a remark thrown at him.

"Yes, I know; Annie has the tongue of a child, she speaks as she sees it."

"I had noticed," the Immortal smiled, deciding to pull the conversation away from an obviously painful point.

The sword, whose point had settled on the ground came back up again; Richie decided that this one was defensive to the extreme. She was scared, tense, and his apparent confidence was disquieting her even more. He took in a sharp breath as the blade honed by his own care hovered in front of his face. This was not a time for professional fronts, truth seemed a better option.

"Can you please put my sword down," he requested, frowning anxiously, "blades too close to my neck make me nervous."

The admission caused a momentary smile of satisfaction on the crafted face, but the weapon was withdrawn. The young man relaxed again and sighed, closing his eyes for a second, this was not a situation in which he found himself everyday, and it was trying his nerves. Yet, he was staring back at his companion with a compulsion he couldn't explain very quickly. There was a gentle frown of confusion on her face, and she voiced it.

"I expected more indignation," she disclosed with a new sweetness to her tone, nodding at his predicament.

Richie laughed lightly, his mood did seem a little ludicrous considering his position, but he couldn't help it. There was such a mixture of thought and feeling running through him at the same time; there was his natural, healthy angst about his helplessness, there was the strange calm his little visitor had inspired, there was the coolness of the Immortal, there was the undeniable pain that Annie caused in his soul, there was the attraction to his associate, but there was none of the anger that had been waiting for his captors to show themselves - once more, Penelope-Anne had dissolved it. His thoughts were mainly incoherent, or unrepeatable. There was one train of thought that was explainable, however, there was a vague guilt at having challenged an Immortal with whom he had had no business.

"I thought your father was someone else," the youth admitted more seriously. "I have no quarrel with him, or you, and it's my fault I got shot."

The girl looked sheepish at the reminder of her actions, it was clear that she was au fait with the rules of the Game, and she knew she had seriously bent them by interfering in a fight. There was a short, awkward silence as Richie let himself take in the gentle pout of her lips and the deepness of her eyes; his companion wasn't sure how to continue. She was aware that he was staring at her with more than just a lack of manners, but the raven-haired beauty seemed uncomfortable with any other connotation. A dirty hand went to something hidden in the folds of her baseball jacket and clutched it tightly.

"I'm a Nun," she muttered, almost in defence of his penetrating gaze.

That was a shock, and the young man's jaw dropped and his heart-beat sky-rocketed. Then the Immortal felt disappointment and he knew that there was a human side to his fascination with his companion. The idea was so alien as he took in the loveliness that came through the grime that covered his focus, and he would have denied it himself had not there been an interruption. His skull sang and his spirit shivered as race ability spoke to him. Ryan's eyes snapped to the stairway as it was filled with the large silhouette of his prior combatant.

"A novice, anyway," a deep voice no longer cut with frustration breathed smoothly; the news did not soothe the youth's chagrin.

The bound creature forced his attention to rest on the newcomer, using his presence to push away the revealing, vulnerable emotions he had been feeling.

"Richard Ryan," he informed the bulk, wary for any sign of hostility.

"Patrick Lyonaise," was the amiable reply, and the Immortal bowed formerly to his captive. "This is my daughter, Naomi. I trust you are well recovered?"

"Oh, I'm fine, just having a really bad day," Richie retorted with a frustrated nod of his head, a little of his displeasure returning, more from the recent news than any resentment towards his holders.

Patrick laughed, a full, easy sound, but his captive tensed as the man took hold of the rapier. There was no sign of enmity in the older man's face, but the blade descended towards the helpless figure even so. The youth was a statue as the image of being beheaded by his own weapon flashed through his mind. Yet, he was not going to shrink from the thought; he was an Immortal, this time would have come sooner or later, and he had hoped he had prepared for the possibility. Life had been so short, he had so much more to do, his time seemed so fleeting as he considered it. The young man drew in his final breath, as deep and meaningful as possible.

Richie breathed out heavily and his hands collapsed by his sides as the rope disintegrated at the brush of his blade. He stared down at the remaining pieces of cord, a little dazed to still be alive, then he glanced wildly up at Lyonaise. There was a smile waiting for his startled soul.

"Did you think I would attack a defenceless man?" the Immortal questioned jovially, offering a hand to pull his companion from the floor.

Slowly, the youth accepted the help and disclosed with a relieved grin, "Well, the way today's been going..."

There was no need to end the sentence, the meaning was understood. The youth lurched upwards as the stout man revealed his strength. Richie couldn't stop himself, out came a quip, "Geez, why didn't you just wrestle my head off?"

He coughed loudly as his breath was forced from his lungs by a hefty slap on the back. He tumbled on into the far wall as he failed to combat his momentum.

"There was a time when I would have taken your head with one hand behind by back!" Patrick bellowed, sounding embarrassed by his lack of skill.

The sword was waggled at him, but there was no menace in the meaning. Still, the young man felt ashamed at having upset the portly gentleman, and returned, "I don't doubt it."

There was a sharp nod of acceptance of his reply, and then Lyonaise headed rapidly up the way he had come. The younger glanced at Naomi, and with a polite smile, indicated for her to go before him. Pulling at the loosened knots on his wrists, the free man plodded up after them. He was feeling damp and uncomfortable, but most of all relieved that the day was ending better than the afternoon had promised. A friendly Immortal and his companions was better than Hemar any day.


What he had experienced already made Richie consider that he was ready for anything; however, the preternatural instinct that hit him as he rounded the top of the stairs caught him by surprise. His soul lurched, his head felt as if someone was trying to drill his teeth; this was more than just Penelope-Anne. On edge, wide eyed, the youth scanned the immediate vicinity. He had come out in the same hallway through which he had stepped earlier that day, but this time it was crowded. There were four bodies stood in the corridor waiting for the trio, and three of them were under four foot tall. Annie peeped round at her new friend from behind the legs of the only form that was of adult height; he looked maybe fifteen, or sixteen behind a light brown, close cut beard that covered half his face, but there was age in his green, hostile eyes. Richie's gaze dropped about a foot as he moved from the first face to the second; a blond boy, at first-sight just approaching the teenage years, his thin face was also grave. The last figure was Asian, and his size was small to compare with his origins; the dark boy's face was passive, his eyes revealed nothing of what he was feeling as he stared at the stranger to him - he could have been at most ten years old. The trio were anxious, that much was apparent from their stance, but what worried the young man more was the sight of holsters and guns at their belts.

"Richard, these are my sons, Lin Tay," he indicated to the youngest form, "Garion King," the middle boy, "and Harold Gascoine," the eldest in appearance, "and you have met my daughter Penelope-Anne."

"All Immortals," the astounded individual hissed under his breath; he was uncertain how to approach this situation - Kenny had been one thing, but four childlike beings of his race in one place was disconcerting.

His comment was overheard, and Patrick nodded knowingly, a sad smile on his face.

"Not many of our kind have met our little family," he told the stunned youth calmly, "but your reaction was not uncommon amongst those who have. Not many have ever considered the possibility that a child would survive."

"Oh I have," Richie's manner was cynical in the extreme as he responded, "the little creep nearly took my head when my back was turned."

The older man raised an eyebrow, but it was not him who responded, but Garion. The child's voice was cold and cut with an age that did not fit the appearance.

"A .45 is a much more effect defence," he disclosed in a public- school accent, and swift hands levelled his gun on his adversary.

"Oh Great!" the young man snorted, raising his hands in bafflement at the situation; he was not scared of another bullet, and the hostility was making him angry. "So what you gonna do? I get another hole to go with the first?"

Richie glared at the young form, really not caring if another shot was fired; maybe Garion reminded him too much of Kenny, a young, innocent face surrounded by blond hair, but eyes which showed so much more. Were all Immortals trapped in young bodies so bitter? It became apparent that they were not.

"No!" a young voice screamed, and Annie ran forward.

The youth grabbed the stairs as a small projectile hurtled into him and pinned herself around his legs. Her hold was tight and protective as her round face stared back at her brothers.

"No bang," she commanded hotly, her eyes blazing in defence of her friend.

The reaction was almost instantaneous, as the child got in the way, the weapon was lowered with a speed which spoke of the blond boy's love for her. He blinked wildly, a very childlike reaction to a consideration of what he had nearly done, and then it was gone, replaced with uncertainty.

"I think Annie has made our position very clear," Patrick came in on the conversation once more, but he was glaring at his son.

The look which passed between them chastised the boy, and he bowed his head guiltily. Richie shook his head as he took in the relationship; the boy was definitely older than he looked, yet he accepted the scold as if he were still the child.

"I apologise for my son, Richard," the stout figure breathed, "he may be over three hundred years old, but he has the manners of an infant."

The small form's cheeks burnt with the chide, and then he ran; more of the child came through as the Immortal being turned on his heel and disappeared into one of the offices. The father frowned after his child; another parental look passed from him to his other two sons and, with a pair of formal nods of farewell, they too spun and followed their sibling. Lyonaise then turned to his guest.

"Garion is the oldest of my wards," he explained with a small sigh, "and he does not like other Immortals. He spent over a century in fear of us, the first man he met tried to take his head; it took me three years of coaxing to make him see that I meant him no harm, but he still does not trust others."

There was nothing to be said to that; the admission saddened the man to silence. Naomi came in on his behalf.

"If you follow me, we have a heater in the far room where you can dry off, and we will explain ourselves," she invited and moved on down the hall.

End of Part 2