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[+000]
The Final Showdown. Andrez Powerplay approved by Jace.
-----------------


A young man stood in a clearing -- brow wrinkled with fear. There was shouting nearby. Screaming. Pained wails of which the young man had never before. He was visibly shaken, wincing with every sound that drifted into the heart of the Del Mar encampment. He dared not imagine the voices of family and friends alike calling out for aid, only to receive no reply. He did not have to imagine.

It was here.

His father stood before him. His cold eyes were tired. More tired than Mannuelle could ever remember. Carlo Del Mar’s firm hand fell upon Mannuelle’s shoulder.

“I’ve sheltered you from the reality of this business for too long Mannuelle,” he said with some hesitation. “It’s finally time you understood what it means to lead this family.”

Mannuelle did not understand. He opened his mouth to speak. “Dad, we --” he urged. “We need to--” His eyes said it all. Run. Flee. To return to the safety of Palisade. The Del Cenere Gang was not worth their time. The friends he’d thought he’d made. The woman he’d so foolishly loved. All of it had been a waste.

His father raised his hand and cut the young man off. “We make choices,” Carlo said flatly, “and we are bound by those choices.”

A beat passed and the chaos outside the encampment persisted. The Del Mar patriarch breathed in sharply as he passed his son a bow.

“Every choice has a cost, son.”

***

Turns out, the Del Mar bastard’s intel was good. That didn’t make Boone trust him. Nothing could right the wrongs of their family in Boone’s eyes. The damage had been done. His fury was righteous. His anger, justified -- or so he told himself.

It went beyond the lopsided trade arrangement. It even went beyond Luciana. This was a matter of pride, and for Boone, it was but his only opportunity to right the wrongs he had foolishly run headlong into.

There were two days. Two days to end this.

Those who were of able body and mind to fight were assembled. The presence of Andrez surprised him -- particularly after his brother Manuelle’s predictable disappearance. However, Boone understood his utility. The turned Del Mar boy was a sure shot, and should the need arise, a valuable hostage.

Of these fighters, Boone assembled his own small contingent. John was to be his wing -- Andrez as well. The goal was simple enough; dispatch Carlo Del Mar and end a war before it could even properly begin. He understood it to be akin to a suicide mission, and truly did not expect to make it home. However, Boone Winthrop was determined to do one good thing before the final day came.

When the raiding party was finally assembled, John never showed. Boone believed him to be struck with cowardice. There was, however, no time to dwell upon it -- so he took Andrez aside and separated from Santago’s main raiding branch, leaving them to proceed without them.

It was as he pulled Andrez aside to go their own way that he heard the voice of his father.

I’m coming with you,” Andrew had said.

Boone’s brow furrowed. “No you’re not,” Boone snapped, “You’re going with Santiago. They need you.


~~~
[+000]
[size=75]Permission to powerplay Andrez granted by Jace.]


A hand reached for Boone’s wrist and Andrew held tightly.

He looked at his boy in earnest. Boone was no child any more. Instead, he was but an angry, embittered man. Andrew could not help but feel himself to blame for this mercurial streak. In his own absence, he could not be the guiding hand that Boone had clearly needed. The guilt weighed heavy.

You’re not going without me,” Andrew affirmed. His voice dropped into a whisper. “Not with him.” Andrew’s wary gaze fell on Andrez, the Del Mar boy who Boone had decided would accompany him on this final mission. There was a nervous energy about him. Andrew didn’t quite trust it.

Boone wrenched his wrist away and sneered. Yet, Andrew could see understanding in his eyes -- even if he dared not show it consciously.

“[i]Fine
[/i]”  Boone relented.

ANDREZ,” Boone called, readying his bow. The Del Mar boy perked up and looked to the comandante. “Ready up. We’re moving.”

***
The air was wet with fog, but Andrew could smell the acrid scent of flame. The war band had made their move, allowing Boone, Andrez, and he the opportunity to slip carefully through enemy lines.

He was caked in mud from toe to tip -- all three had covered themselves with earth to mask their scents. They had settled upon a strategic ridge, and in the clearing below, Andrew could see dark shapes moving through the fog.

What do you see?” Andrew asked as Boone strained to get a better glimpse at the shadows down range.


~~~
[+000]
The Final Showdown. Andrez Powerplay approved by Jace.
-----------------


The bow felt like an extension of Boone's body. Finely balanced and keenly familiar. From the crest of the ridge, he had trained his aim down to the encampment below and held his gaze upon two shadows in the fog.

"Two men," Boone whispered in reply. "But the fog is too thick." He could hardly discern any features between the two. When Boone turned back, he could see Andrew too peering over the ridge. Squinting. Struggling.

"You don't think --" Andrew mumbled, yet he was shortly cut off by the young Andrez.

"It's them," the boy muttered. Even through the fog, Boone could see the fear thick in the eyes of Andrez. He turned his bow nervously in his hands. "I know my father's scent."

Boone sucked in a cool breath and nodded.

"You have the shot?" Andrew whispered, nudging Boone's shoulder.

Boone knocked an arrow and felt the string taut against his fingertips. He held his eye on a dark shape down range. "Mm," he hummed.

He breathed deep, but before he could exhale and release, he felt fingers slip around his wrist, stopping him.

"No," Andrez snapped in a low whisper. "Not like this."

~~~
[+000]
[size=75]Permission to powerplay Andrez granted by Jace.]
[i]


Andrew was no stranger to fear. He had known it, perhaps better than most men. As he watched the darkened shapes move in the fog, he could feel an ugly current rise in his chest. It was the all too familiar pang of uncertainty. He could not help but feel that a certain mantle of responsibility rested on his shoulders.

His boy had made a mess. Cleaning it up would not be easy.

He waited for the arrow to slice through the air. To end this conflict with minimal loss.

Yet, the Del Mar boy seemed intent on getting in the way. "Not like this," a wild eyed Andrez repeated again in his low whisper while holding tightly to Boone's wrist.

"What are you doing boy," a hushed Andrew snapped.

"We don't have to do this," Andrez pleaded. "I know my dad -- he's not unreasonable. We can talk this out. He'll listen."

There was conflict in his eyes, but Andrew shrugged it off. "No," Andrew spoke, shaking his head. He looked to Boone with an incredulous expression.


~~~
[+000]
The Final Showdown. Andrez Powerplay approved by Jace.
-----------------


For a moment, Boone felt the grip of hesitation cinch around his heart like a vice. Far stronger than the Del Mar boy's grip around his wrist. Instinctively, Boone's lips pulled back in a snarl that the boy should interfere. His anger, however, was directed inward.

Why was this so difficult? He'd killed before. Over trivialities no less; needless possessions and trinkets of interest. He felt his white knuckled grip around the gnarled wooden bow loosen.

Whispered voices rose over Boone's head, muffled. They were incomprehensible, but the Comandante was far too busy battling his own demons to give them any credence.

Fate brought us together, he remembered what Augustine had told him when this had all began. Had this been fate too? Had Boone been destined to not only destroy his own family, but another as well? The fear painted on the face of Andrez was easily read. Boone too loved his own father in spite of his faults. His faith was admirable -- and perhaps Andrez was right. Perhaps there was a better way.

"You can't be considering this... this..." Andrew sputtered. "You can end this now."

Mouth agape, jaw trembling with fear, Boone sucked in a steadying breath. "No, he's right," Boone spoke. He passed his bow to Andrew, disarming himself. "It's time to do what I should have done in the beginning."







~~~
[+000]
[size=75]Permission to powerplay Andrez granted by Jace.]
[i]


A bow was pressed into Andrew's hands. He knew not to take it; that if he did, his boy's path was set.

He pushed it back into Boone, but the Comandante did not budge. "You can't be serious right now," he hissed through gritted teeth. Ears falling back, frustration played across Andrew's face. "Boone."

"Take the bow," Boone was firm in his instruction. The boy had always been a willful tempest -- determined to march to the beat of his own drum. Andrew saw much of Vicira in the taut line of his son's face, in those sunken, tired eyes. "I'm going to finish this, but I'm going to do it the right way."

"Boone..." Andrew pleaded. It was to no avail. Boone had made his choice. Andrew's fingers slipped around the bow shaft. Already, Boone was draping the quiver of arrows over his father's shoulder.

Andrew watched on as his boy began climbing down the embankment. He raised his son's bow and knocked an arrow, before turning to a meek Andrez.

"If my boy dies," Andrew spat. "You do too."


~~~