Title: Peace Children:
Category: AU Fantasy
no spoilers, no real warnings though an OC does act harshly towards another
OC please enjoy!
"This is a nightmare."
The younger boy laughed. "It is indeed! All of these rich carriages --
all at once -- whatever shall we do?"
Solo threw a gentle punch. "Cease your laughing and prove to me that you're
worth the food I work so hard to feed you each day."
"Yes, my lord, of course, my lord," the boy jeered. He looked at the paper
on the table for a moment, then shrugged. "We split up. You take Ian,
Grundy, and Daffy. I'll take Zika, Bloody, and the Poet. We could try
sending Mace with the Blues and possibly Jays. Ignore the Nataku and Dragon
-- they travel in austerity. You take the Odin tonight --
I'll take the Winner/Reberba. Tomorrow you go for the Maxwell, and I'll
take the Marquise."
Solo cuffed him again. "Give me the warrior, do you?"
The slighter boy shrugged. "That's why I said Daffy. If you're lucky you
won't be noticed -- help yourself to the decorations, as it were.
If you are noticed, you fight until you can run. I could do it."
"I think not," Solo said. "Your groups for tonight will be acceptable.
Tomorrow, though -- I want to see the king's bastard. You take
The boy pouted. "You know how well they guard their merchants. I think
their Lady would be a harder target."
"You're always bragging about what a good thief you are," Solo told the
boy. "Now prove it."
"And if I'm caught and thrown in jail? Or killed?"
Solo toasted him. "I promise to have a good ballad or two written about
you. Duo the highwayman. Now get ready -- you've got a rich person
or two to rob."
The Poet moved quietly, as always, and tapped him three times on his left
shoulder, then deliberately laid two open hands on him, then four fingers.
Fourteen guards. For two children. He flashed his companion a smile, then
jerked his head at the two in a tree across the way. He saw Bloody nod
back, and then they disappeared into the shadows. He nodded to the Poet
and she slipped away again.
Three minutes. . . the carriages lumbered into view. Rich people --
couldn't go anywhere without six servants for each of them and ten trunks
for every finger. He grinned. Tonight, their loss would be his gain, and
they would eat well. Very well. He was hoping there was some Winner wine
aboard. He mimicked the owls that sang above him.
The wheel on the second carriage -- the one with the people in
it -- broke.
Amid curses from the guards the door opened, and a woman stepped out.
"I'm glad," she called over her shoulder. "I needed to stretch my legs."
"You weren't knocked unconscious, Faiza," a boy said, following her out,
a hand pressed to his temple.
"You weren't either," she said dryly. "Or if you were, you're setting
a record for complaints."
Duo grinned at them as he and the Poet crept into the luggage carrier
behind them. They split quickly, he pointing her to where the gold was.
She didn't question him -- he always knew. The boy would be complaining
a lot more later.
"So sick of traveling," the boy moaned. Literally, from the sounds a minute
later. Duo winced in sympathy as he relieved the retching boy of a chest
of jewelry. Anything to lighten the load.
"My lord, my lady!"
"What is it, Rashid?"
"The wheel -- it didn't break," the guard told them. Duo grimaced.
He'd hoped for a minute or two more. The Poet looked to him, and then
was gone at his signal. He only hoped that Blood and Zi had --
"And I found this thing in the second luggage carriage," the man continued.
Duo bit back a curse. Zika. She was the scapegoat of the pair, as he was
for the Poet. She was pretty and clever enough to free herself, and she
made sure to look different each time she went out. As did he.
"Aye, and what of it?" she demanded. "I climbed in at the last inn, I
"And helped yourself to a few things, didn't you?" the guard hissed.
Duo dropped noiselessly to the ground and watched from behind the carriage.
Zika was standing up from where the man had thrown her -- bastard
-- and had apparently decided to go for poor innocent. "I was cold,"
she said. "I didn't think you'd miss it -- just a bit for warmth."
"We're missing a good half of my lord's wine supply," the guard told his
"T'weren't me!" she protested. "I just had a sip, maybe two --
that was what was there when I -- "
And she was abruptly silenced.
"Faiza," the boy said, "it's not a big deal. We can get more. We've still
got the princess's gift -- everything else is unimportant."
Duo snorted softly. Unimportant to blondie would feed them for months,
like kings. Like gods.
"She's lying," Faiza said.
"I know that. You know that. You can also see that she has nothing on
her except for that trinket in her pocket. Her companions are gone." His
voice rose slightly on that. "They aren't still here, skulking around.
They've left her."
Duo glared. He never left them behind.
"She's just a girl."
"She's a liar, a thief, and a whore," Faiza said.
Oh, and you wouldn't be, if it saved your hands from being cut off or
your throat from being slit? Duo asked her silently. Oh, and you will
be, fine lady, when you find a husband with enough money to keep you a
comfortable whore all your days.
Her head whipped around. "There's another one here," she said.
Duo heard the boy curse softly. "Faiza -- please."
Zika stood still, her eyes gone vague. Duo, moving quickly to the shadow
of the trees, wondered why she didn't run.
"My lady, my lord," another guard said, "we've fixed the wheel. We should
move on quickly."
"Let her go, Faiza," the boy said, and his voice crept through Duo like
Winner wine. "No harm done, no harm. Let her go."
"Don't you hex me, you little witch," the girl said, but it was said fondly.
"All right, but you listen to me, girl." She yanked Zika closer to her.
"You're a fool. Thank my cousin for his mercy, for otherwise you would
not see another dawn outside a prison." She ran her fingers along the
girl's face. "I'll remember you -- if you touch a Raberba again,
you'll regret the day."
She let Zika fall to the ground, and marched proudly back to her carriage.
The boy knelt for a second, beside her, then followed his older sister.
He paused for a second, and looked right at Duo, who found his breath
caught in his throat. He knew the boy saw him. But then the boy got into
the carriage, and they drove off, leaving Zika crumpled by the side of
Duo waited -- hated it -- but waited, making sure they were
gone. He moved to his fallen sister. "Zi, Zi," he said, running his hands
over her, trying to make sure she was all right. "Zika."
She was crying -- she hadn't done that in years -- and he
felt his chest clench. "Are you all right?"
"No, no," she sobbed. "No, please."
"Zika, it's me. It's Duo."
She looked up at him, blindly, and he almost bit his tongue off.
Her eyes were clouded -- she could not see -- and a long
fierce burn lay along her face where the girl had touched her.
Solo stormed into the room. "What the hell is going on?"
"Reberba bitch blinded her," Duo said. He glanced at the door. Zika --
his sweet little sister -- lay in the next room. "Touched her --
that's all -- and blinded her." He sighed and stood next to his
brother. "We made out fine -- stole most of the bitch's jewels
and Blood found a fair portion of wine. They had gold -- we took
some -- and I wished to God I'd slashed her face." He drank deeply
of the juice on the table -- no wine, however fine, would cloud
him this night. He was not done yet. "And you?"
"Bastard carried almost nothing. One carriage. Two trunks. They heard
us before we could get anything." Solo grinned humorlessly. "All in all,
not our best night. What will you do about this?"
"I'd kill the bitch in a heartbeat, but I don't know if that would cure
Zika or curse her," Duo told him.
"Are we going to send her any presents?"
Duo nodded. "I can think of one or two."
Solo took the cup from his hand and drained it. "Here's to tomorrow working
a bit better."
"The fact that the king ordered us here and did not even make sure we
had safe passage is an insult to me and my Clan," Faiza seethed.
Quatre rolled his eyes. He wanted a bath. He wanted food. He wanted her
to shut up. And he wanted to know what the hell he was doing here and
what the hell that shadow had been. Human -- it had been human
-- it had to have been. But it had flitted in his mind like a shadow
and Faiza had only caught a single flash of it. He wondered glumly if
all minds in the Capital were like that.
"And he will not even see us!" she said.
"He'll see us when we all arrive," Quatre said, feeling a bit maudlin.
ever been so far from home before. "Faiza, calm down."
His half sister took a deep breath. "Easy for you to say. They stole my
"I'll buy you new ones if you'll just calm down." He studied her. "I've
never seen you like that before. What the hell did you do to that girl?"
Faiza shrugged. "I just scared her. She'll be fine in a few days."
"If she survives the streets with no eyes," Quatre snapped.
"The bag of gold you pressed into her hand should help," Faiza snapped
back, then sighed. "I know, I know. I -- was wrong. I simply --
oh, Quatre, I hate this place." She stared at the ceiling. "It's cold
and ugly and my corsets were pinching me quite horribly. I miss home.
The minds here -- they're different."
"You were wrong," he said softly. "You cannot act in such a fashion."
"I also cannot allow every petty thief to steal from me," she said. "You
Winners with your private army -- you don't understand. Do you
know how very much my trade caravans lose to thieves each year?"
"Not even half as much as they did before they joined with Winner caravans,"
he told her, then sighed and rose. "Both of us need a bath. Too long on
the road, my sister, and we both smell like carrion."
She smiled, slightly. "With flattery like that you'll turn all the girls'
Quatre merely smiled and left her. He made a note to himself that girls
like flattery. He'd have to think of some really good ones. His eyes slid
over a guard standing nearby and his smile turned real. Oh, he'd have
to think of some good comments indeed.
Heero Yuy, heir of the Odin clan, looked around his room with dissatisfaction.
It was so -- so -- soft. There were flowers, and pillows,
and heavily embroidered wall hangings. He knew the king was soft, and
that the court was devoid of warriors, but this luxury -- he turned
his back on it and went to his luggage. A maid had tried to unpack it
for him, but he had stopped her. He was no fool -- he knew his
room would be politely searched at the earliest opportunity --
but for now he was alone and at peace. The princess's gift he tossed aside.
He had only one interest, and that was his father's gift to him.
The sword was exquisite. Forged from the meteor metal, gundam, it shone
like the stars it had fallen from. The hilt was perfect, the balance just
right, the weight solid in his hand without being too heavy or too light.
The blade would slice through anything, he thought to himself, and pressed
a finger lightly to it. The resulting blood pleased him. Oh, yes, this
was a sword to be treasured, and to be used.
The raven on his shoulder nudged him, and he slowly put the sword away.
There would be little room for that at court.
If he wasn't a perfect soldier, Heero Yuy would have cried.
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