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Part 3

Scene 8

The warehouse was quiet, a place to sit and sulk until they came back. All eigth of them came storming in, very pleased with themselves.

{Losers, the lot of them,} Kenny thought, but then again they were useful...for the moment.

The boy was sat on an upturned crate, Paulo's sword across his knees, as it had been for the last half an hour. He'd been sat thinking about the Quickening, assessing the other's reaction to Paulo's death. It would be a shock, but it might be useful if he perverted the facts.

"We found them," Mark announced proudly, a grin from ear to ear.

{Here's my next rival,} the blond youth thought coldly, as he watched the others gather behind the beaming child, but he remained silent, his gaze carefully passive.

It took the returning Immortals only a few seconds to work out something was wrong, and their glee fell away into cautious curiosity.

"Where's Paulo?" Wil, one of the younger Immortals asked quietly.

"Where's Roderick?" the only female among them, Gwennie joined her long- time friend in the questioning.

Kenny stood up slowly, making them wait, he wanted this to be dramatic, to impact on their naive little minds. With dignity, he proffered the sword to Mark, hilt first and announced, "Paulo's dead, He killed him and took Roderick."

"Who?" Mark refused to take the blade.

"Duncan MacLeod," the lie slipped easily and profitably from Kenny's lips.

There was silence, time for a little pep talk; pleased that the sword remained in his grasp, a trophy for a leader, Kenny hung it by his side and swung his gaze over the gathered company. He made sure he held every stare for a moment, long enough for them to see his anger and his wont for revenge; they did not have to know it was revenge for loss of face three times, for having to run three times, for being annoyed three times.

"I told you adults couldn't be trusted," he rammed the message home for the umpteenth time. "That's what they were, two of them like us, but adults, and Duncan MacLeod led the way. They were too big we couldn't fight them one on one. He took Paulo's head--I only just got away. Emily and Roderick are with them, they helped them do this."

"Let's get them," Mark took the bait, "we know where they are, we saw Emily with a woman in the street and we followed them back to her place, a barge on the river near Notre Dame."

"Will you follow me to avenge Paulo?" Kenny proposed forcefully, sweeping the sword back up, above his head this time.

"Yes!" Mark bellowed, and his own sword joined the first poiting to the sky.

"Yes." "Yes." "Yes." came from all quarters and continued coming. Kenny smiled to himself, firing back the rallying call, it was easy to manipulate these self-protected fools.


Scene 9

Roderick bounded onto the barge ahead of his two saviours once he knew that was where he could find his beloved. He dashed up the gang plank, full of energy and excitement that a normal adult might have kept back. The two men just followed silently, satisfied grins on their faces as the childlike figure found his own way down into the cabin. They heard Emily's cry of joy and by the time they descended into the main room, the couple had been reunited. The pair were locked in an embrace, almost adult in the closeness of their bodies, but childlike in the hug that sufficed the long- time companions.

MacLeod glanced at Richie; the young man's smile was wide, but his eyes showed the same confusion about the reunion that the Highlander felt himself. These child-shaped people were truly a mixture of maturity and youth, even more so than the blond man who fought to hide the age at which he had died. The two extremes were so obvious in the way Emily stroked Roderick's hair and stared into his eyes, then she was hundreds of years old, but the way she cocked her head from side to side and bit her lip showed the twelve-year old in whose body the maturity was trapped.

The moment broke as Richie walked the rest of the way into the room and greeted Altea. Theirs was and always had been a very adult relationship, and there was no doubt about that in the way that they embraced. Emily glanced at them, then at Roderick and then she giggled. There was relief in laughter after what had been an obviously traumatic experience for the couple, and the boy too started to snigger. A stream of light French came out of Emily's mouth, and Mac had to check that he'd heard right--he glanced at Amanda. There was already a smile twinkling in the woman's face and it corpsed the Scot.

Richie knew he and Altea were the source of the amusement, but he made it clear in his confused expression that he had no idea what had just passed. Altea was almost holding back from laughter, but hiccuped a chuckle as she explained, "She said we should maybe jump in the Seine to cool off."

The young man coloured instantly, which only served to intensify the laughter.


Scene 1 0

Scene 10

One pair of eyes looked down on the barge, displaying all the hatred that sat behind them. Kenny had sent the others away for a while, wanting to scout out the area, and he was glad that he was alone at that moment. The Immortal could almost taste the loathing which the thought of Duncan MacLeod gave him--the man who had even made his dearest friend betray him. The boyish figure had seen Amanda come out on deck once since he'd started the watch, and she would pay for her betrayal. He could trust no-one, that had been proved over the years, and revenge was sweet. Soon, once it was dark and the tourists had thinned enough to make an attack viable, then he would make them all pay for the injustice of this life.

FLASHBACK - THE HOLY LAND 1212

The desert sun scorched the packed, barren earth, making it hard and unrelenting to their weary feet. Ten long days they'd been marching, a rag-tag group of children now, that's all who were left, the Moors had killed those adults who had travelled with them from France. Kenneth cursed Nicholas, the boy who had caught the crusader's fire in his friend's heart. Now young, foolish Gerold stumbled a few paces ahead of the grim Immortal, and as he fell, Kenneth knew his friend would not see another night.

Thirteen, that is all this child was, a babe tricked into what had turned out to be slavery to the very men from whom they had come to liberate Jerusalem. {Fools to a man--or rather a child,} Kenneth thought as he knelt to help the fair-skinned child. He cared for this boy. Gerold's father had employed him as a companion for the growing youth, a peasant who could show the Lordling how the common man existed. It had been a job at first, something to fill his belly, but Kenneth had found a trust with the boy which he had found with no adult, and a year later, that trust had led him after a foolish child who had run off to fight for God. Now they were both prisoners of the Moor, slaves, useful only as long as they stayed healthy.

Kenneth lifted the weak boy's head off the ground, because he could not do so himself.

"Gerold," he whispered, his voice hoarse in the dry air, "Gerold you must get up."

He knew his plea was futile as he stared down into the eyes which barely recognised him. Gerold mumbled something under his breath, but it meant nothing. Still, the Immortal felt a desperation welling up inside him; he didn't want the child to die, he had to survive until they reached shelter, then they would escape together.

"Gerold," Kenneth shook his friend as the small bodies shuffled by him.

The last body passed and they were exposed to the full sun and the gazes of their captors. The anger in the men's voices was clear, even if their words were unintelligible, and Kenneth shook his companion harder as he heard the footsteps of one of the men. He screamed as he was pulled effortlessly off the weakening form; he struggled and complained, but could not stop a knife putting Gerold out of his misery. The Immortal's yell continued to grow in his belly, and his anger exploded as he saw the red of his friend's blood. His sound animalistic, Kenneth scratched and kicked at the man who had dragged him away. These men were unused to zealousness in their slaves, and with a groan, the man let his prisoner free. The Immortal ran back to the lifeless body and grabbed it close to him.

"Gerold, I'm sorry," he moaned, rocking the boy's corpse.

He could not hold back the tears, and he sobbed as the loss of this innocent dug deeply. His captor's only response was laughter, cold, self- amused scorn. Kenneth growled at them as they approached, in a pair this time, to retrieve their property. One reached for him and he used all the force he had to strike out. The man doubled over as Kenneth's fist contacted with vulnerable groin.

"Bastards," the Immortal yelled, and threw himself at the other who still stood.

He managed to floor the man, and began to bite, kick, punch, anything to let this beast pay for the life he had casually ended. Kenneth raised his fist for the umpteenth time, but in that instant, he felt the slice a blade into his ribs. He tensed, the pain strangely secondary to the knowledge that he had failed his friend. The Immortal had felt death many times before, and he recognised its approach again as the bright sun dimmed and the tension in his body ebbed away. Still angry, but unable to fight a mortal wound, Kenneth collapsed...

...The blade slid through flesh as if it wasn't there. His teeth gritted in a grimace of maddened satisfaction, Kenneth watched the last dark body fall to the ground, the blood from its jugular pumping midnight black onto the star-lit ground. There was silence in the Moors' camp, the children having fled into the rocky hills as the phantasm struck at their masters.

Kenneth dropped the knife and looked around him; absently, he wiped his hands down his already gore-covered tunic.

"For you, Gerold," he murmured, marking each body in his memory. "Never again."

PRESENT

Darkness had fallen an hour ago, it was a cold Paris evening, all the better for a clear quay across which to lead his army. Kenny turned his back on the barge on which he had been fixated, to address his troops directly. Individually, they weren't much, a bunch of children, small, insignificant, powerless, but together, they could be lethal.

"Surprise is on our side," he told them, "we go on board as fast as possible. Ryan and his bitch are on deck, kill them first, but leave their heads intact. MacLeod and Amanda are with Emily and Roderick inside, kill them all, we will try and persuade our own back to our side once we have the adults under our control. I want them all for execution, they had to pay properly for what they've done."

"For Paulo," Mark began the mantra.

"For Paulo," Kenny repeated coldly.


Scene 1 1

The Seine stretched out to one side, broken buildings to the other, between the two, the stiffly silent group were left in solitude. Emily shivered as the wind cut through her thin blouse--they hadn't even given them time to find warm clothing. She stared at the Kenny, transferring the icy air into her gaze, well aware of the knife at her back. Mark held it, a one-time friend, now cold and distant, his zeal for life twisted by the parody of childhood innocence before her. As the woman in the girl's body glanced at her new friends, bound and dazed, their clothing bloodied from the recent attack, she recognised true hatred for the slight figure. Nothing could redeem Kenny in her eyes now, despite what Roderick had told her about him, he was truly a monster. Emily showed him only contempt as he finally halted the march and turned to face his troops.

A barely hidden smile rested behind those bright eyes, one of victory, as Kenny laid his attention on Duncan MacLeod. The Highlander looked calm, composed despite being at the mercy of petulant, dangerous child. Emily admired his strength.

"You never did play the Game," the Scot accused, his tone quiet.

"Rules created by the likes of you!" Kenny spat back, "They're not for us."

"Us, who's us?" MacLeod countered. "You're Immortals, there are no exceptions, we are all the same."

"No!" the edge on which the man-boy was walking showed itself in the vehemence of his shout.

"The only thing that separates us is the line over which you stepped when you killed those who tried to help you," the Highlander pursued his end with a calculated quiet.

Emily bit her lip; she wanted so much to give this evil madman a piece of her mind, but she recognised the careful argument in her friend's manner and knew histrionics would not help. Roderick slipped his hand into hers, and she was glad of the gentle, reassuring squeeze he gave her fingers; she glanced at him and saw the same gentle sorrow which had held him since shortly after they had been reunited. The Immortal hated Kenny even more as she realised how much he had hurt her beloved with his personal pain; Roderick was such a caring soul, he tried to embrace the world and it wounded him when he could not mend the tragedy he found.

"We have to survive," Kenny took the Highlander's bait.

"Not your way," another voice joined the fray, it was Amanda, and her face showed her own grief at what her 'son' had become.

"You--you betrayed me--us," the boyish figure hiccuped as he made this accusation.

The woman did not respond, she merely stared at him silently.

"These Immortals are our enemies," Kenny turned to his ranks as he was unable to hold the gaze. "They think they're larger bodies make them better than us, they use, and then they throw away. But we aren't the weak babies they think we are, together we are strong and we can win."

"Yes, together we can survive," Emily started as Roderick's soft voice swept past her ear, "but we don't have to kill to do that."

Mark's knife slid out of the small of her back, his surprise as evident as her own that the quiet youth had made himself known. He was allowed the space to move forward and deliberately the poet walked towards Kenny.

"None of us are fighters," the Immortal told their adversary, "we can never be part of the Game like that, we have to find a different way. Ambush is no way to live, always killing, always having to watch your back. Together we can look after each other, but we don't have to hate to do that. Not all people are like Gareth."

Emily watched Kenny's face carefully as Roderick's words halted his reverie. The blond boy seemed bemused rather than anything else, surprised that he was being challenged by the least aggressive of all of them, and it gave the poet's reasoning a chance to gain hold. Yet, as he said them, Emily knew her beloved's last words destroyed his petition. Kenny's face clouded with rage at the mention of the long-gone Immortal and his hands formed into fists.

"Yes they are, if you don't turn on them first, they'll all betray you in the end," Kenny screamed and them waved a hand at those guarding his captives and yelled, "MacLeod first."

It took three of the small bodies to even move the large Scot from his position with his friends. Ryan's hiss of discomfort grabbed Emily's attention for a moment as he was warned not to move by the dig of a sword in his ribs. When she glanced back at Kenny, MacLeod was on his knees before the victorious form.

"You bastard," Richie let his anger out. "He helped you--twice!"

The words fell on deaf ears as Kenny drew out a sword. Emily was sickened as she recognised it--the thick-bladed, shortened Ivanhoe had belonged to Paulo. The Immortal knew without a doubt what had become of the zealous character she had once called friend, and she snapped.

"How dare you!" she yelled, pushing past Gwennie and forgetting Mark behind her, "how dare you use that sword."

Kenny took a step away from MacLeod, interrupted and surprised once again.

"He killed Paulo," the boy accused.

"Liar!" Emily screamed, her rage venting without an ability to stop. "You killed Paulo, the same way you as good as killed Marcus. You used Paulo to get what you wanted, and then you got rid of him. Who's it going to be after you deal with your little revenge trip on a man who did nothing but help you, even after you tried to kill him the first time--Mark, me, Roderick?!"

"Get her!" Kenny called to his troops to remove the obstacle that Emily became between him and his kneeling victim.

No-one moved.

"I've had enough of you!" Emily calmed her temper, making her tone menacingly low. "You're a manipulative, back-stabbing little creep, and for a change you're going to do something properly--I challenge you!"

"No, get out of my way," was the boy's immediate response, but he found a very obstinate Immortal before him as she refused to even flinch at the small wave of the sword he made.

"Prove yourself to them," Emily challenged, "face one of your own kind, one on one, how it's supposed to be."

The female Immortal sensed the body beside her before she glanced at the figure. She was glad to see Mark, and he was holding out his sword to her. With a reverent nod, she took his gift and then returned her gaze to Kenny. The young face went from shock, through anger to thin-lipped resolution.

"Alright," he accepted.

Emily raised her weapon, glad of the practise she had enjoyed with Marcus; she had never before seen herself using the skills he had taught her, but she thanked his memory as she prepared to fight.

"For Marcus and Paulo," she mumbled under her breath and then deflected the first, hasty blow from her opponent.

As she countered and stepped into the fray, the woman knew that it didn't matter what was on the outside, the thrill of battle coursed through her as she became the Immortal. Kenny was opportunistic, inept at best and he swung like an assassin, not a fighter--it was obvious he was used to his victims facing away from him. Emily gritted her teeth and wondered at how dangerously easy it was to push him back. She was surprised as she felt her anger slip away, disappearing in the contest, and her attack shocked her in its calculation. Marcus has always drilled her on the importance of the sword, but she had always felt absurd; yet, now she used her small size as an advantage, moving quickly, lethally around her opponent, who failed to keep up with her movements. Kenny groaned as she nicked his arm with the point of her sword. It wasn't really meant to be a tease, but it served to make the boy madder and his swing became wilder. The Immortal saw her opening almost as soon as it began, and as Kenny spun to try and catch her guard, she sliced the fatal stroke.

Emily dropped the sword a moment after it bisected flesh, shocked at her own force. She could not look at the body which fell onto the damp earth, instead her eyes met Roderick's. His gentle gaze showed concern, but not the horror she had been afraid of as her own disgust rose in her chest. Suddenly frightened, she reached out to him. Yet, Ryan appeared behind the boy, and as he went to move forward the young man, now free, held him back. The Immortal had never felt so alone as her skin prickled with something she had never before experienced. A shiver ran up her spine. Emily rebelled against the tingling which had begun at her feet, knowing instinctively what was to come; she wanted to run, but her feet were lead. Terrified, she could only scream as the Quickening touched her more definitely. The electricity ripped through her, pulling the world away, and with it went her fear. The cry which escaped Emily's lips became deeper, stronger, an admission of the exhilaration and pain which shook her body. She was alone, she felt the solitude in this moment, but still she revelled in it, shocked by power which enlivened her both in body and soul.

The Immortal lost contact with her senses, and when they returned, she was on her hands and knees, her nose almost touching the group. Gasping, tired, but feeling more alive than she ever had, Emily tried to kneel back. In a second, she felt arms around her, helping her, comforting, warm, and her only regret, the loneliness of the Quickening, slipped away.

"Roderick," she murmured, closing her eyes and leaning into him.


Scene 1 2

MacLeod took the small palm which was offered, and bowed gracefully to brush a kiss across the back of the delicate hand. Emily giggled coquettishly, and the Scot grinned widely at her.

"Thank you for your service to us," she spoke very formerly as she glanced at the gathered company of 'children' behind her.

"You are welcome," the Highlander returned and resisted a sudden urge to ruffle those long, curly locks.

He stood back and let Amanda move past him on the quay. The ex-thief was not nearly so formal, and swept Emily into a hug which lifted the girl off her feet.

"Promise you'll write," the woman almost begged, and Duncan knew that his dear friend was going to miss this unusual Immortal.

Amanda had taken Kenny's death hard, despite accepting that there had been no other choice. MacLeod could count the times he'd seen Amanda cry properly on one hand, and the night they had spent after Kenny's attempted retribution had been one of them. Kenny had not been her 'son' for a long time, but the mother-instinct in the sensual woman had been very strong as she had mourned her loss that dark evening. Emily had filled the void for a few days, as the childish figure gathered the group, which had somehow become hers to lead; mother and daughter would have been stretching the truth, but a bond had grown none-the-less.

{But did she have to use my Gold Card to do it?} MacLeod wondered idly.

Next, Emily turned to Altea. The Amazon still showed some of the confusion the strange little Immortal caused her in the smile she gave the departing guest. Yet, a warm hug passed between them, and Emily whispered something in French into the woman's ear. Duncan wasn't quite sure he'd heard correctly as he eavesdropped, but he raised an eyebrow at the very adult advice he thought he heard. Altea laughed heartily and the Highlander knew he'd heard correctly.

Richie's face showed his sadness at the parting of his new friends. He'd spent long hours talking to Roderick, much to Mac's surprise, it had mostly been about literature as his aspirations to write more than bodice rippers came through. Emily too meant a lot to him now, probably, MacLeod considered due to the occasion of their meeting. Richie hugged Emily and Roderick at the same time.

"Safe journey," the young man wished them on their way.

"We are going home," Roderick offered him, "the road will certainly be easier than the one which led us here."

"Always the poet," Emily chided lightly, but grabbed his hand none-the- less.

"Come and see us," Gwennie blurted out as she stared up at MacLeod, and the Highlander smiled at her. He knew the danger was there, behind those young eyes, the same way it was with all Immortals, but it was tempered now, cowed by the shock of the rampage. They'd all been affected by the frenzy into which Kenny had whipped them, and the innocent smile was deceptive, yet it was also appealing.

"We will," Mac assured her, still wondering at the qualities in his new friends.

"We will," Richie agreed, flashing the girl his best smile.

"Now we must be going, or we will miss our train," Emily took charge again.

MacLeod stood on the quay and watched them go, fascinated by the small bodies which hid so much. With Emily's leadership they were safe for now, she would make sure they were protected in her chateau, but he still wondered what the Game held for them, and had done in the past. How long was left for them with the Gathering happening around them? Roderick glanced back over his shoulder and for a moment, the Highlander was sure the young face recognised and echoed his concern. Then the look was gone.

The End

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