Disclaimer: This story is a work of fan fiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corporation or anyone who may have legal rights to the characters and settings. This story was written solely for my enjoyment and is posted for the enjoyment of other fans of the show. There is no monetary gain from this endeavor. The story and any characters which are not owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy or Mirisch belong to C. Knox Binkley.

Penance-Part One

by The Desperado's Daughter

Nobody saw it coming. . .

Buck Wilmington was in a dead sleep when the rough hands pulled him up out of the bed and through the haze of unfinished and partially intoxicated sleep, he saw the reflection of the hall light on a gun directed at him. Before he could utter a sound, a fist barreled into his torso and he doubled over. He couldn't begin to fight back. He couldn't free his arms. There had to be two holding him from behind.

"What the hell is this?" Buck croaked, not yet able to stand up and look at them.

No one spoke and Buck felt rough ropes being pulled tightly around his wrists. He tripped over his blanket when one of the gunmen pulled him toward the door.

"Go on," a man behind him breathed.

"At least let me put on my pants. . ."

A moment passed and there was a chuckle from the gunman pushing him. Buck looked up and for the first time saw the outline of the two men in front of him-masked with bandanas and heavily armed.

"Pants would be good," a voice behind him said. He could hear guns click ready and felt the ropes loosen. Trying to fight would be suicide. He'd just go for the pants.


Next door. . .breaking glass. . .an horrendous struggle. Buck's blue eyes widened as the realization hit - they were going after the kid. Buck seethed, "Whatever you want, you don't need him."

"Shut up!" Again rough hands bound his wrists - more tightly this time. Buck struggled - it was four against one but he had to try. Another blow to his already bruised torso. "I swear to God," Buck's voice was thick with pain, "if you hurt him, I'll kill you."

"You'll try. . ." someone behind him said and he pushed Buck toward the door. Buck felt a panic as he listened to JD fighting for his life. The voices next door grew louder and Buck cussed a blue streak as they dragged him toward the door.

But it was the sharp report of a gunshot that stopped everything.

"Oh God," Buck whispered and his heart stopped a moment.

"You little shit!" a voice cried out and all the voices grew loud again. Buck was dragged into the hall just in time to see JD being hurled against the wall at the top of the stairs. The kid's mouth was bleeding and his eyes were wide. The man who held him pressed his meaty forearm against his throat, pinning him against the hard wall and nearly cutting off his air. He also pressed a gun into the kid's ribs. "You're a f--ing dead man!"

"Leave him alone!" Buck cried. At his voice, JD's scared eyes cut over to him, bewildered.

"Buck. . ." the boy could hardly make a sound.

As JD's assailant released the hammer of the Colt, a man staggered out of JD's bedroom. His arm was bleeding - a gunshot wound.

"Don't kill him," the injured man said quickly. "Boss wants 'em alive."

For an angry moment everybody froze. The man holding JD started to release him, but then in a blinding flash, his fist connected with the kid's jaw. The blow knocked the boy a few steps down the stairs. JD caught himself just as two men jerked his arms behind his back and tied his hands tightly. His head was hanging and clearly he was dazed. If only Buck could get to him - if only he could help. But there was nothing he could do. Not a damn thing. And that infuriated him.

"Get your hands off of him!!" Buck's rage found a voice. His own captors led him the other way down the hall toward the back staircase. The last he saw of JD, the kid was being thrown roughly down the last few steps where he crumpled to the floor.


Ezra Standish took another sip of cognac then he swept his hand over the table, drawing the collection of chips to a place he'd cleared directly in front of him.

"Gentlemen, forgive my garnering of the spoils," his easy drawl buttered his words. "I am willing, however, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, to offer you an opportunity to recoup your losses. Perhaps. . .double or nothing?"

Josiah Sanchez shook his head. He didn't know how his friend kept his winning streak going but it intrigued him. He'd watched Ezra closely for weeks and still hadn't spotted any patterns or tricks.

"Put your eyes back in your head, Brother Sanchez. You will never master the fine art of gambling by watching the master." A wry grin crossed Ezra's face as he played out his pun. "That is how he remains. . ." he tapped the deck of cards. . ."the master." Ezra eyed the others at the table with self-assured satisfaction. "So what will it be, gentlemen?"

He was answered by a chorus of clicks as everyone at the table, except Josiah, drew a weapon and trained it on them. And in the same instant, two masked men drew up behind them and pressed the barrels of their pistols into the base of their skulls.

"Perhaps I assessed the outcome of our little amusement prematurely," Ezra's voice never waivered. "Allow me to make recompense for my error in judgement."

"What the hell did he just say?" the man next to Josiah asked.

"He'll give you your money back," Josiah translated.

The men around the poker table stood up and Ezra and Josiah felt strong arms haul them to their feet. As they were tied up, Josiah spoke softly to his friend.

"You know, maybe I don't really want to know your secret."


Finally, the patient settled down and dozed. Maybe Nathan could settle down and doze himself. What a long night it had been - and where did this guy come from anyway? He had just. . .shown up on Nathan's doorstep with a frighteningly high fever. Nobody knew who he was. But he needed help and that was all Nathan needed to know.

The gentle former slave had dedicated his life to healing other people. Perhaps the pain of his own life had fostered a certain compassion in him. He had seen too much and hurt too much. Sometime a few years before, he realized that he could live in bitterness over his lot in life or he could rise above it and do something to rid the world of its evils. He chose the latter.

There was a chill outside and the little room was starting to get too cool. Nathan went over to the hearth and stoked the fire. For a moment, he simply stared into the flames - so tired and bleary-eyed. Sighing, he straightened out his tall frame and stretched, then he eased himself into the chair by the fire. He was asleep in minutes.

The sound of heavy footsteps on the stairs startled him awake. His hand went to the knife in the sheath on his back. And he'd have gotten to it in time if his patient hadn't sat bolt upright in bed and pointed a pistol at him. By the time the other men burst into the room, Nathan had his hands in the air and his "patient" was disarming him. It looked like the night was going to get longer yet.


What the hell happened? Vin Tanner tried to remember but his head wasn't clear. The first sensation he experienced was a pounding headache. Had he been hit or something? He just couldn't piece things together. Everything smelled musty - where the hell was he? He forced himself to take inventory. He wasn't shot. Well, that was something. He wasn't cut anywhere. OK, this might not be so bad. He was, however, bound hand and foot and this was not good. Straining, he lifted his head enough to check out his surroundings. A cabin or shed of some kind, long abandoned. No light except for the cold moon through the jagged broken glass.

Footsteps. . .

Bounty hunters maybe? Well, it was bound to happen sometime. He lay his aching head back down on the hard floor. He couldn't focus his thoughts well enough to fight them and he started to give in to the black emptiness of unconsciousness.


He knew that voice.

"Vin, are you ok?"

"That you, Buck?"

"Yea - you had me scared there for a minute."

Vin didn't even try to look up at him. "What the hell is happening?"

"Damned if I know. Four guys dragged me out of bed. All wearing masks. And they got JD. . ."

Vin painfully pulled himself up beside Buck and squinted at him. "Is he ok? Did they hurt him?"

"They hurt him," Buck said, his eyes reflecting the anger he felt. "He shot one of 'em. God only knows what they'll do to him." He shook his head slowly. "And I couldn't help him. . .I just watched them. . .hit him," his voice grew husky.

"Did you see where they took him?"

Buck shook his head, no. "But I'm gonna find him."

"I'll help you," Vin said. "As soon as the room stops spinning."


Chris Larabee looked up at the old Regulator clock in the sheriff's office. Nearly three a.m. Damn, he must've fallen asleep. He stood up stiffly and glanced at the prisoner asleep in the cell. Where was Vin? He was supposed to relieve him two hours ago.

The brisk night air felt good to him as he stepped into the silent street. He headed toward the saloon. Vin was probably asleep himself at some corner table. How many nights had he started sleeping in a chair before ever getting to bed? This was one of those pointless questions that crossed his mind when he was too tired to think of anything else.

He never heard the man with the knife.

But he did hear JD's warning.

"Chris!! Behind you!!"

Chris' reflexes almost saved him. He easily took down the man trying to accost him.

But the two gunmen who appeared from behind the jailhouse had too much hardware. And now they had Chris Larabee.

"JD!" Chris called out, but the kid didn't answer. He had paid for alerting Chris by having a rifle butt connect with his face. Chris watched them drag the boy away and although his voice was steady, his eyes were cold and calculating. "Let the kid go," he said simply.

"Or you'll what?" one of the masked men taunted.

"Mister, you don't want to know."

Part Two
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