AN: Second part. A third will arrive sometime soon. Again, English speech is written normally, French in italics. Please read and review.

Miseries of the Hood Part 2

It was dawn. Monseigneur Bienvenu watched the sun start to peek through the barred window, the prisoner he was ministering to unable to watch. They'd talked the whole night; and Bienvenu had been surprised at the young man's religious convictions. He had no opinion on whether or not God existed, but thought that if He did, He didn't care. This despite having, apparently, died and been resurrected. They'd discussed second chances, and seeming impossible phenomena (of which Little Wing had many, many examples), and the flourishing of evil. Eventually Wing dozed off, still leaning against the wall, and Bienvenu prayed earnestly that the troubled young man would find the God of love and grace within his heart before the end.

Or else he'd be right, and his brothers would come for him and either save him from the scaffold, or resurrect him again. Officially, a bishop had to stand for law and order, justice and the courts, but he'd seen the guillotine at work before, and there must be a better way. And why would any man go to his death still denying a charge, unless he really was innocent?

The guards came in, and wrapped chains around Wing's wrists. He was starting to look slightly sick; the rifles poking him clearly making him wary of trying to free himself. He might have complete confidence in his imminent salvation (pre- or post-mortem), but he also seemed to want to avoid the possibility of death from as long as possible. Bienvenu supposed he'd become a little more hostile when they tried to make him lie on the scaffold.

Wing was dragged out into the sunlight. The square was filled with townsfolk; all eager to see a killer get justice. The scaffold stood tall and erect on a raised platform, a basket already waiting beneath the blade. Bienvenu tried to murmur words of comfort to the young man, but Wing didn't seem to hear. He was led onto the platform, and the magistrate asked if he had any last words. Wing jerked his head from side to side, and tensed even further.

And with a sickening shunk! the blade came down. Everyone jerked back; a premature release should not have happened. Bienvenu spotted what looked like a strangely shaped metal shard embedded in the wood, at just such a place to have severed the guillotine's rope.

Wing had also seen it. The tension seemed to flood out of his body. He relaxed, the strain he'd been holding in all night released with the execution blade. "You took your sweet time," he called out in English.

A wry laugh danced across the silent, shocked crowd. "Finding fault? What, am I too early?" The other speaker was also using English, the strange accent the same as the condemned's. Bienvenu looked around, and saw, in the shadow of the Town Hall, another young man, a few years older, but dressed in a suit of the same outlandish material cut. But rather than black with a red bat on the chest, his was black with stylized wings across the chest and stripes reaching down to the tips of his middle and ring fingers. He was also masked; his plain black but with extra flares at the edge.

Wing huffed. "Gold Bird, you must be the most infuriating person to ever live," he said, but with a tint of affection colouring the words. That, and the nickname, confirmed Bienvenu's suspicion: this was the older brother who'd do anything to bring him home.

"Really? Thought that was Booster," the other remarked. He shifted, and now it could be seen that, cast over his shoulder, his left hand held what appeared to be a remarkably bulky jacket of a different black fabric.

Wing considered his brother's words. "Possibly. Chuck an acid, would you?" He jerked his wrists, the chains clinking slightly.

Gold Bird touched a hand to his waist, then threw something small over the heads of the crowd. Wing caught it in his manacled hand, and it was a little bottle. He flicked the cap open (it seemed to be on a sort of hinge) and dripped the contents onto the chain around his wrist.

"What are they executing you for, anyway?" Gold asked.

"Murder," Wing grunted. The chain hissed, and melted away where the liquid touched it.

"But you were doing so well," Gold sighed, disappointment evident in his voice.

"What makes you think I did it?" Wing growled, dripping more liquid on the other restraint.

"You didn't? Oh good. Who did?"

"Dunno. Some bandit, or whatever you call gangbangers in the forests." He shook his wrists and the chains fell off. The guards, recovered from the shock, levelled their rifles at him. He ducked, and both men yelped. Metal shards had embedded themselves in their hands, causing them to drop the rifles. From his crouch, Wing swept his leg out, knocking them down. He pulled the shards from the men's flesh and stood upright. "Gonna give me my gear back or not?" he asked.

Gold emerged from the shadows, the whispering, muttering crowd parting before him. He bounded across the square and jumped up onto the platform. He pulled a belt from where it had been folded and tucked into his own, and Wing cinched it around his own waist. He reached out to the jacket, which it seemed had been covering a red metallic…something. Something round, slightly larger than a head.

He pulled the jacket on, and Gold laid a hand on his shoulder. "I'm glad you're okay, little brother," he said softly. Wing bowed his head slightly in gentle acknowledgement.

"Nightwing! Red Hood! We've got trouble!"

The two looked round at the speaker. At the entrance to the square, two boys stood, outlandishly dressed in red and black. The older had a harness across his chest connected to a collection of metallic strips hanging from his back, and the younger had a yellow cloak fastened at his throat. Bienvenu remembered Wing claiming three brothers, and knew he now saw the other two.

"What happened, Red Robin?" the older of the two on the stage asked.

"We saw this bunch of guys," the older boy replied. "Kinda reminded me of Robin Hood's Merry Men, but with rifles. We heard 'em talking; they're going to attack."

"What did they say, exactly?"

"'Let's teach those fools to think some nobody did what we do; but we might as well let them execute the no-one first. Just to rub it in.'" the boy repeated in French.

The older young man hissed slightly, shaking his head in irritation. "I take it they're on their way now?" Red Robin nodded. "Right. Red, rooftop. When they're all in here, drop down and cut of their retreat. Hood, stay here. Disarm any with long range weapons." Wing grabbed the red thing from him, and pulled it over his head. It looked like the head piece from an iron maiden, but no doubt without spikes. He also pulled two pistols from the pockets of his jacket. Meanwhile, Red Robin leaped into the air, and thrust his arms out, so the strips on his back turned into wings, and he soared up like a bird, landing on the roof of the Town Hall.

Gold Bird (Nightwing?) looked around, concerned and confused. "Need to evacuate the civilians," he muttered. "Won't listen to us; can't guarantee their safety in an all-out fight…"

Bienvenu stepped forwards. "Might I help you, sir?" he said. Nightwing glanced over at Wing/Hood, who nodded curtly, then back at Bienvenu, his head tipped quizzically. "You wanted the people gone?" Bienvenu continued.

"Yes." Nightwing's voice was flat and serious. "There's going to be a fight. We're good, but there's only so much we can do to prevent a blood bath."

"Then allow me." Bienvenu stepped forward, to the edge of the scaffold's stage, and addressed the crowd. "My good brothers and sisters, you came to see a man receive justice. But it seems men of a different sort are come to celebrate the guillotine in a rather different manner. It would be most prudent to return to your homes." He paused, assessing the mood. "Please, take this warning to heart. These men and boys would stand between you and death, but they cannot guard all of you. I pray, leave now, before you see blood spilled from your own bodies."

The crowd muttered, but started to disperse. Nightwing yanked out the metal shard that had severed the guillotine's rope, then hopped down from the stage. "Robin, there," he gestured, to one side of the direct passage from the town outskirts to the square. He pulled two foot long sticks from holsters in the small of his back and headed to the other side from his youngest brother. "On my mark," he called.

Bienvenu watched, standing next to the scaffold, in the faith that the bandits would recognise him as a man of the cloth and act accordingly. The boy on the roof was completely hidden from sight. Nightwing and young Robin were crouched in ready positions on either side of the street. Hood was still on the stage, playing with his guns. The people had mostly dispersed; the two guards Hood had knocked down earlier apparently unconscious.

A shrill whistle pierced the air. At once, the three fighters in sight tensed. From the street their came a dozen bandits, most armed with rifles. They streamed into the square, stopping in confusion at its near-emptiness. Bienvenu kept his eyes on Nightwing, crouched in the shadows and passed unnoticed. Waiting for the right moment.

It came. "Now!" he cried, and the fight began.