A/N: I absolutely loved the book Airman – even when I was only halfway through reading it, it was already one of the best books I'd ever read, if not the best. Though I adored the book I wanted to know what happened at the end in the month's period before the finish, so, I made up what I wanted to happen. Quotes are in italics but there are so many smaller quotes that it would be hard to show them all.
Disclaimer: 1. I am not male, 2. I'm not Irish, 3. I do not live with a wife and two sons in Ireland, 4. I could never even hope to be that good at writing. Does that convince you that I am, in fact, not the genius that is Eoin Colfer and I do not, in fact, own the amazing story of Airman? – If yes: well done you noticed.
Song Suggestion: Easier To Run by Linkin Park. You don't have to listen to it, it's only a suggestion but I usually say a song that I think fits in with the events in the chapter and I think this one fits with this chapter and the parts before especially well.
Chapter 1: Flying French Angel
Third Person POV
"To Conor, my son," said Declan, "Heaven is lucky to have him." and raised the poisoned glass to his mouth.
But before he could do more than wet his lips something dark detached itself from the night outside and pounced on Hugo Bonvilain. Something dark, with wings.
Conor hurtled himself through the huge open windows of the balcony, tugging harshly on two ropes to close the wings quickly – a detail he had recently added and feared he would need to use. The wings folded instantly, but the momentum carried Conor all the way into the room where his feet had barely touched the ground before he pounced on Bonvilain.
The force knocked them both backwards onto the low table, skidding across its surface and sending crockery flying. They rolled off the other end of the table, both cocooned in the shiny gold table cloth. Conor landed punch after punch into Bonvilain's face, Hugo fought back; throwing fists deep into Conor's gut though they were getting weaker as the poison took hold. Conor took the punches but dealt twice as many back.
Over the initial shock of the intrusion, Declan Broekhart pulled out the ceremonial sword that swung on his hip. Ceremonial, but razor sharp nonetheless. The Airman! He's come to kill the queen! Thought Declan.
He crouched forwards, grabbing a fist of the table cloth and pulling sharply, the fighting pair rolled out still throwing punches.
Conor landed on top of his opponent, the stream of punches never stopping, though Bonvilain was near unconscious, both his face and Conor's fist a bloody mess.
Declan brought down his sword, ready to thrust it into the Airman's shoulder. Conor saw this coming and rolled away, landing like a cat then springing lithely to his feet. Declan stepped over the now vomiting and convulsing form of Hugo Bonvilain as the poison took place, brandishing his sword in attack.
Conor's sabre barely cleared its scabbard to parry his father's thrust. There were many chances for Conor to attack but he ignored all of them – how could he hurt his own father?
He debated for a second: would it be better to pose as a French spy, or a man his father had sworn to kill if he ever saw him again…
Allowed no extra thought on the matter, Conor chose the French spy.
"Non, monsieur, you must stop."
"I will not stop till you are dead!" growled Declan.
Conor hid his hurt well; two years on Little Saltee had taught him that. Suddenly a thought dawned on Conor and he almost lost grip on his sword.
"Ave you made ze toast?!" He asked frantically. Declan looked confused but didn't answer thinking it was a distraction, instead attacking with more fury over his opponent's slight falter.
"Pleeze tell me, ave you drunk ze wine?" Once again there was no reply.
Declan made a sudden advance, Conor blocked it, being a better swordsman than his father in which the latter was better marksman. The force of the parry knocked his father backwards where he tripped over the cushions lying scattered on the floor.
Before the boy could even catch his breath he was under attack again. Catherine Broekhart, seeing only an attacker in front of her, picked the nearest thing to hand – a flower vase which she flung at him.
Conor ducked but not in time, the vase smashed, showering him in pottery, flowers and a splash of cold water straight in the face; he came up wearing daffodils. The water cleaned away most of the soot and oil that had accumulated on Conor's face whilst flying but the goggles, cap and stubble along his jaw (he'd forgotten to shave) rendered him unrecognisable still.
Using Conor's momentary blindness to her advantage Isabella pulled a samurai sword from its presentation case, adopting a fencing stance before him.
"En garde! Airman" She screamed before launching at him with her sword, he fought her attempts easily; she had improved much since their lessons but lacked his skill.
Declan was back on his feet by now, joining in the fight so Conor had not one opponent but two. Conor brandished his other sabre, now with one in each hand to battle both of them at once. At seeing another weapon, his opponents fought harder than ever, convinced now he was here to kill the Queen.
After several minutes, none were relenting. Knowing that the he would tire faster with both of them together, Conor made a split decision.
He tucked away one of his sabres back into the scabbard, a duck, a parry and he was behind Isabella. His arm snaked around her waist, pulling her back tight against his chest he sheathed his other sword then pulled out the small dagger he always kept strapped to his hip.
Conor brought the dagger up to Isabella's throat, keeping the blade millimetres away from the soft skin there. Instinctively she pulled her chin up, shying away from the proximity of the knife.
"Don't worry, I will not harm you." He whispered into her ear, dropping the accent for a moment. Her skin and hair brushed against his cheek delicately, giving Conor a tingling feeling in the pit of his stomach. He brushed it off, now was not the time.
The sincerity of the stranger's words made Isabella do a double take. That voice was familiar – she knew it, but couldn't quite place it.
"Now, tell me. Ave you drunk ze wine?!" Conor demanded now to his father.
"Step away from her!"
"Tell me!" He shouted bringing the knife even closer to Isabella's throat.
"No! No toast was made." Conor's shoulders slumped with relief. They hadn't drunk the poison. They were going to live.
Conor released Isabella, stowing the dagger back under his jacket and letting her return where she was greeted by a hug from his mother. He felt a twinge of jealousy – no one had hugged him like that for over three years, come to think of it, he hadn't hugged anyone in over three years. Cuddling was not a common sight on Little Saltee.
Declan was surprised by the easy release of the Queen, something he had not been expecting. He raised his sword again but with less certainty, was this really the merciless killer he'd thought it was?
Bonvilain had gone by unnoticed until now as he laughed cruelly. He'd crawled himself over to the leaver on the wall, with that laugh he pulled it down, releasing the four men crammed in to the secret cavity in the wall behind the tapestry.
"Look out!" Conor shouted suddenly, taking the dagger from his belt and using it as a throwing knife, burying it deep in the upper arm of one of the men. They all stumbled for a second, stiff and startled by the bright light compared with the cramped space.
That second was all it took for Conor to stride over there, pulling out a sabre with each hand and attacking as fearlessly as no doubt the mercenaries would.
"Watch Bonvilyan!" He called over his shoulder to Isabella, motioning to the sword lying near her feet.
Recognising Bonvilain's men as the more prominent threat and that Isabella could handle the ex-marshal, Declan joined his (though he still didn't know it) son's side. One man was down already, unconscious with a sword hilt to the forehead.
The Broekharts fought valiantly against the brutes converging on them three to two but paid the price, gaining many small cuts and injuries. One of the men – a huge Scottish bear of a man broke through their defences, just long enough to knock Declan back, his body flew back a good five feet, his head hitting the wall and his body slumping to the floor. He groaned in pain, his wife hurrying over to help her poor husband.
The young Broekhart was now left on his own, outnumbered but holding his own. Conor had resorted to abandoning his sabres in exchange for karate. He beat them back, all unsure of the strange man in front of them jabbing with his hands and kicking high with his legs and feet. None quite knew how to respond.
All the intruders were now backed into the cramped space from which they had come.
"Izabella, pull down ze leaver!" Conor shouted to Isabella, the accent still in place. He drew the revolver from his belt, firing two sharp shots at the men's shins, shattering the bones in two of them just before the sliding door was rolled shut by the system of pulleys connected to the leaver Isabella had just pulled.
The men's moans could be heard echoing through the grate on the fire but other than that everything was silent. All of them knew the wall guards would have heard those shots and would soon be on their way.
Conor swivelled slowly on his heel, coming face to face with his enemy. Three years of burning, built up hatred bubbled up inside him and he found himself walking towards the man that had ruined his life. Without even noticing it, Conor's hand felt the hilt of his sabre in his hand, the point of which had earlier been buried in the wooden flooring.
He took slow and steady steps towards Bonvilain who was now actually shaking with fear, a sight Conor had never thought he would see; the Broekhart part of him could almost feel merciful for that monstrosity, but cruel Mr Finn relished in the sight of such a huge man almost cowering away from him.
Declan Broekhart had recovered from the fall by now only for him to see the flying French spy walking slowly and purposefully towards the unsuspecting Queen. He stumbled to his feet, calling on all his last reserves of strength; raising his sword and bringing it down onto the airman only to have it almost casually brushed away.
Only the low table stood between Conor and Hugo now, though his feet didn't falter, instead carrying him over the polished wood and down on the other side. Everyone in the room was affected by Conor's presence; it demanded respect and oozed authority.
With two fast strides Conor was upon the man, brushing Isabella to the side and grabbing Bonvilain's throat with his right hand, holding the sabre aloft in his left.
"Bonvilain" He growled with a fury the size of a God's and dropping the accent to make sure Bonvilain knew exactly, if he didn't already, who he was talking to.
"You ruined my life!" He roared suddenly in the man's face, bringing his head forwards then pounding his skull back against the wall. "I lost everything because of you!"
"As was my intent." Hissed Bonvilain, his words distorted from blood and spittle.
"What is to stop me from killing you right now?" He hissed back. "You would not be the first person I have killed."
Bonvilain raised an eyebrow.
"Sheep aren't always for eating you know," replied Conor to the unasked question. Bonvilain's eyes widened considerably. "Oh, and as for that three pounds you paid, I should probably thank you – it ended up in my pocket anyways." He grinned sadistically.
"So kill me then, boy." Spat the ex-marshal.
"Say my name; I want you to know who's killing you."
"B-b…br-" Stuttered Bonvilain.
"Say. My. Name." Conor hissed, punctuating each word with another smash of Bonvilain's skull against the wall and grabbing Bonvilain's throat so tightly his eyes nearly popped.
Comprehension dawned on the doomed man's face. "Finn," he gasped painfully, "Con-or…Finn."
"Better." Growled Conor before clunking him on the head with the handle of the sabre rendering him unconscious yet again. It would be fair to say this had not been one of the ex-marshal's better days.
Conor turned around to see his father's face and hurried an explanation on seeing his expression. "Just hear me out ok! I know you said you'd kill me if you ever saw me again but-"
"YOU!" Shrieked Declan, with a fury to rival the Devils, he charged at the boy, given strength by his hatred. He pushed Conor up against the wall, sword tip at his throat.
"Just hear you out?! Just hear you out?! The king is dead because of you. My son is gone because of what you did!" He growled the last part.
Isabella and Catherine moved up behind Declan now understanding who this man was. They glared daggers at him.
Tears sprung to Conor's eyes but he held them back. They'd found out who he was, they were more willing to listen to a traitor than their own son. The bitter truth washed over him. He'd told himself he wouldn't hope and he hadn't, but now he saw he was wrong, he had been hoping and that crushed him more than anything. Hope really was the worst form of torture.
Well, his prediction was right at least: he was not wanted here.
And now he was going to die – by his father's hands nonetheless, branded a traitor and murderer, his day just couldn't get much better.
Still now he tried.
"No, let me explain!"
His father ignored him. "Take off the mask; I like to see the face of a man before I kill him."
All of the events of the last three years finally caught up to Conor, from the day Bonvilain killed the king, right up until now, his limbs suddenly felt too long and heavy – he was tired, so tried. Conor was a broken man, betrayed, branded as a traitor, abandoned. But even now as he faced his imminent death; he pulled himself back together, squaring his shoulders and raising his chin defiantly, they would not beat him, even if they killed him they would not beat him; others would remember Conor Finn – Linus, Malarkey, even Uncle.
The father and son's eyes met.
"I said take off that mask!" Shouted Declan. Conor made no move to.
Declan raised his sword ready to strike and reached out with his other hand, tearing the goggles off Conor's face. The swinging sword stopped less than a foot away from Conor's throat. Everything froze.
Conor was completely still; his eyes were closed as his father ripped away the goggles from his face. Everything went quiet.
Conor couldn't handle this; the quiet just brought home the truth. Conor's shoulders slumped, defeated. He was just a fourteen year old boy, eavesdropping on a man inside a tower.
The cap was left on and that confused Conor – oh right, the chin strap would have stopped it. He reached up slowly and unbuckled the leather, eyes still closed. He pulled of the flight cap and dropped it on the floor, ran a hand through his hair that was now long enough to brush across his forehead. His eyes never opened.
Everything was still frozen.
What are they waiting for? Thought Conor, unable to see why they wouldn't just kill him now. Or maybe they had already, maybe he was already dead.
Time to find out. He opened his eyes.