by BIG BAD WOLF
A collection of various short stories and poetry.
|Outlaw-turned Vampire-Hunter Jericho Cross, meets up with Bounty Hunter –turned Zombie Slayer John Marston.
Posted on Deadliest Fiction
Jericho walked down the halls of the Citadel. It had been recently constructed by Darkwatch Regulators and their Native American allies, after the old one had been destroyed by Lazarus’s forces, and after Tala’s treachery. Jericho clenched his hands at this, hard enough to draw blood, at which point, he relaxed, and let his body heal itself. He looked at his hand, and saw the cuts vanish, as if they were never there. His new powers both fascinated, and worried, him.
“It will be alright,” came Cassidy’s voice, inside of his head. “We’ll make Tala pay for what she did.”
Jericho frowned. If he hadn’t been tempted by that woman, maybe the mess she’d made could have been avoided. Still, she had seduced him, purposefully cut herself, triggering his feeding response, and turned her in the process. Now she was out there, slaughtering humans left and right, or turning them, and it was up to him to stop her. He stopped before a door, and knocked, carefully.
Jericho opened the door, and saw Brigadier General Clay Cartwright looking over a series of maps.
“I’ve been waiting for you, half-breed,” the man said, in a manner that was far from nice. “What took you so long?”
Jericho took out a canteen, and placed it on the table, some blood trying to seep out of the seal.
“That better be horse blood,” said Cartwright.
“It is,” said Jericho, with a slight growl. “I know better than to intentionally piss you off, not that I don’t anyways.”
Cartwright scoffed at this. “Yes, because you cost me some of my best agents.”
Jericho growled at this, his lips exposing his fangs.
“Don’t you dare growl at me,” said Cartwright. “If it weren’t for you, Lazarus would still be stuck in that vault, and my agents would still be alive.”
“Then why do you want me here now?” Jericho asked.
“Our scouts have located a potential, and promising, recruit,” said Cartwright. “It’s your job to bring him here, by force if need be. Here’s what he looked like ten years ago.”
The man got out a poster, and placed it on the desk. Jericho looked at it.
“So, you want another criminal in the ranks?” Jericho asked.
“Former Criminal,” Cartwright corrected. “This John Marston once rode with a gang, robbing various banks and the like all across Texas and Mexico, until he was wounded in a botched job. He retired, settled down, tried to raise a family, until a Mr. Edger Ross and his Bureau of Investigation arrested him and his family on trumped-up charges, and forced him to hunt down his old gang members. After that, there was an outbreak of zombies, but he managed to deal with them, and put an end to it. After that, Mr. Ross had him killed.”
“So, how do you expect me to recruit a dead man?” Jericho asked. “Do you propose that I dig him up, and swear him in?”
“You won’t have to dig him up,” said Cartwright. “He’s been resurrected, as a Gunslinger/Rifleman hybrid, or something. Also, unlike most of the other undead out there, he’s not under the control of Lazarus. Here’s what he looks like now, according to witnesses.”
“I see,” Jericho said, as he looked at a drawing that Cartwright got out. “Ugly looking bastard.”
“You’re no vision of beauty yourself,” said Cartwright. “Now, the train will take you to a place called Armadillo. Talk to the Marshal, Leigh Johnson. He ought to have an idea on where you can find this Marston.”
Jericho nodded. “I’ll get on it.” With that, he left the office.
“And make damn sure you bring him back in one piece!” Cartwright said through the door.
Meanwhile, in Armadillo, a horse, carrying two riders, gallops into town, before stopping in front of the Marshal’s office. The door opens, and out steps an older-looking man, wearing a badge, and carrying a revolver. Looking around, he turned and gestured to someone in the office. “All clear, and she’s safe and sound.”
At this, a woman rushed out of the office, along with another man, who was carrying a shotgun. The man stopped, and looked at the figure holding onto the reins of the horse. “Marshal, what’s this demon doing here?”
“Relax Tillman,” said Marshal Johnson. “Marston’s different from the others. Don’t ask me why though.”
Marston grunted, as he held the reins of his horse, which looked like it should be dead, and indeed it was.
Marshal Johnson walked up to the horse, and helped the young woman off. “You’re safe now.”
The woman looked at the being that had brought her into town. “Um, thanks. Uh, may God watch over you.” She then got to her family, and they then took off down the street, and got inside a house.
The Marshal looked at Marston. “Come into my office. I need to talk to you about something.”
Marston got off his horse, tied the reins to a hitching post, and followed the lawman.
“Feel free to stock up on ammunition,” the Marshal said, as he indicated his weapons rack. “You’re going to need it.”
Marston walked over, and began picking up boxes of ammunition.
“I need you to listen carefully,” said Johnson. “I’ve been getting reports about new creatures showing up. These things aren’t like the ones you’ve been fighting. These things are intelligent, and use weapons, just like you, but they are not friendly, and are highly dangerous.”
Marston growled. The creatures were indeed changing. He needed to find the mask that Seth had stolen.
“There’s more,” Johnson continued. “There’s a group out there, called Darkwatch, that claims to have been fighting these things for some time. They claim that these creatures work for some vampire called Lazarus, or something like that. These folks aren’t very friendly either; they didn’t like it when I told them to stop messing around with our new storekeeper, and were about to draw on me, when the storekeeper mentioned that you’d hunt them down and kill them if they killed me. They laughed at this, until the storekeeper said that you were some sort of demon that couldn’t be killed. That got their attention, and they asked about you. They asked me about where to find you. I told them I wouldn’t say, and that they’d best leave. They left afterwards, but promised they’d be back to find you. They said you’d make an interesting recruit.”
Marston growled once more. He hated people that pushed others around, as he’d been pushed around.
“In short, be careful out there Marston,” Johnson finished. “It’s not just the dead you have to worry about now; it’s guys that dress in black clothes with red handkerchiefs on their faces, and they have some interesting looking weapons. So watch out.”
Marston grunted, left the Marshal’s office, loaded his saddlebag, got on his horse, and rode out of town. Eventually, he located a place to watch the moon and the stars. He then checked on his weapons – a Torch, good for burning the bodies of the dead, Mauser pistol, which held 15 shots, LeMat revolver, which held 9 rounds, Evans Repeater rifle, which held 22 rounds, a Carcano rifle, which held 5 rounds, and was very accurate, a pump-action shotgun, which had six shots, Boom Bait, which lured the undead to a certain spot before blowing up, Fire Bottles, which contained flammable liquid, a Blunderbuss, which could use most anything for ammo, especially parts of the dead, and an Explosive Rifle, which was very powerful. Then again, he could always use the butt ends of his firearms to knock some sense into people’s heads if need be. He looked at his horse – despite looking like it had been eaten by a bear, and it probably had been, it could run all day, and night, never got tired, and was highly resilient to damage. He looked around, and saw that none of the dead were nearby, so he decided to think about things, like his son, Jack, and his wife, Abigail. He prayed that the pair were okay.
A while later, Jericho’s train was nearing Armadillo. The half-vampire looked over his weapons – Darkwatch Scepter, a metal club-like weapon, Redeemer Revolver, which held 24 rounds in its cylinders, Duel Warmonger Pistols, each of which held 12 rounds, Blackfish Rifle, which worked like a civilian Winchester Rifle, and held 12 rounds, Carson Range Rifle, which had a fairly powerful scope, and held 4 rounds, Argus Shotgun, a special 4 barrel firearm that held 16 rounds, Splitter Grenades, which split in to several parts to give a nice explosion, Dynamite, which was self-explanatory, but better than the original, Crossbow, which held 12 explosive bolts, and a Rail Rocket, which held 3 rounds that could really do some damage. Of course, if worse came to worse, each of the firearms, including the crossbow, had a nice blade on them for close in work, and the Rail Rocket had a sledgehammer attached to it. Jericho then checked on his horse – the creature shared the same blood as him, and was bonded to him. It could outrun most anything.
Jericho walked to the door, and opened it a bit, to look outside. He looked at the moon. He had a few hours until sunrise. If he could locate his quarry within that time, he’d have no issues beating him in a fight. Eventually, the train came to a stop. Leading his horse, he walked to the Marshal’s office, everyone giving him a wide space, as if they sensed a certain element of danger around him, if nothing else. It could have been the black outfit, or the badge he wore, or the redness behind his eyepatch, or maybe just natural caution, given what was going on; no one bothered him. He stepped inside, and saw the Marshal.
The lawman looked at him, moved his eyes slightly, and looked at him once more. “Jericho Cross, Wanted for Train Robbery and Mayhem along the Arizona Border. Thought you got killed during a bad train robbery, where the train got wrecked beyond control, with everyone on board dead.”
“Reports of my death were, slightly, exaggerated,” Jericho said, as he turned his head, and saw the poster of him on the Notice board. It wasn’t a bad likeness, of how he used to look. He looked at the rest of the posters. His quarry wasn’t among them. “Do you know of a John Marston? Former outlaw, part-time bounty hunter, currently dead, yet still among the living?”
He heard some movement, and a click. “I want you to get the hell out of my town,” the Marshal said.
Jericho turned his head back towards the lawman, and grinned, causing the old man’s face to become pale. “I hope you’re a good shot, for I don’t die that easily anymore.”
“So, it is true,” the lawman said. “You are a demon.”
“It’s complicated,” Jericho said. “John Marston? Where is he?”
The Marshal holstered his revolver. “I’ve been informed he tends to set up camp near Jorge’s Gap. You can’t miss it, just follow the railroad southwest, and you’ll find it.”
Jericho nodded, and stepped outside, where he heard a scream.
“Jericho!” Cassidy shouted inside of his head.
The vampire-outlaw looked down the street, and growled. Several undead Gunslingers were harassing a woman, who was trying to scramble up onto the roof of a store.
“Hey! Bother someone who can fight back!”
The Gunslingers turned, and looked at him. One gave a growl, and it and the others got out into the street, facing him. Jericho watched the creatures, their hands were close to their revolvers. One went for theirs, but Jericho was faster on the draw, quicker on the firing, and more accurate. All of them went down. Jericho reloaded his gun, and saw the Marshal standing at the doorway, a rifle in his hand. Jericho got on his horse.
“I’d best be on my way,” Jericho said. “Be sure to burn them.” He then set off.
At roughly an hour before dawn, Jericho saw what he was looking for; a man who looked like he was dead, by a horse that looked like it was dead, and yet seemed to be alive. Of course, it wasn’t unusual to see other seemingly dead men, or horses, or see them together, but save for the fact that there was no fire, it seemed like he was camping. Then, the figure looked up, got to its feet, and pulled an Evans Repeater rifle off of the horse.
The creature nodded.
“I’m Jericho Cross, and I’ve got orders to take you to Darkwatch.”
Marston growled, lifted his rifle, and fired, knocking Jericho off of his horse. Marston got on his horse, and galloped off.
Jericho stood up, and checked the wound. It was healing up already.
“I think that’s his way of saying No,” said Cassidy.
“Very funny,” said Jericho. He then got on his Horse, drew his Redeemer revolver, and set off in pursuit.
By this time, Marston had holstered his Evans, and got out his Mauser pistol. He then turned, and fired at the one pursuing him.
Jericho dodged the bullets, by leaning to one side of his horse, or the other, as he tried to get a bead on Marston. He fired his Redeemer.
Marston felt the round hit him, and the motion forced him off his horse. He then scrambled behind some rocks, and whistled for his horse. The undead creature came to him, and he pulled out the Explosive rifle, turned towards his foe, aimed, and fired.
Much to Jericho’s surprise, the rifle round hit the dirt, and exploded, throwing him off of His horse. He scrambled behind another pile of rocks, and told his horse to come to him. He took the Rail Rocket, and fired it at the rocks that Marston was hiding behind.
Marston saw the object coming at his hiding place, and something told him to move. Managing to get behind cover, the explosion shook him. Once the dust settled, he pulled his Blunderbuss off of his horse, and watched as Jericho charged him with a strange looking crossbow.
Jericho fired several bolts at the rocks surrounding his foe.
Marston made a sound, as if scoffing his foe’s pathetic aim. He then aimed his antique firearm, and pulled the trigger. The power of the Blunderbuss sent Jericho flying. Marston grinned, he was having a good day. Then, he heard a hissing sound. He looked, and saw that the bolts had dynamite attached to them! The blast sent him flying as well.
While the two undead cowboys got back up their feet, Shadow, Jericho’s vamperic horse, looked over at the horse ridden by his rider’s foe. The zombified horse looked back at him. In that instant, the two undead stallions communicated in the horse language that they thought that their riders, and humans, and undead humans, and people in general, were stupid to fight over something that didn’t involve a female, or fouls. They also shared a common regret that they’d never be able to find the right mare for them, ever again. They also shared a regret of never being able to enjoy the water at their favorite watering holes again. Then, their riders jerked more weapons out of their saddles, causing them both to snort, as if to say, “There they go again.”
Jericho looked at what he pulled out, some dynamite, and splitter grenades. He threw the grenades. They split apart, increasing the number of detonations. Marston tried to protect himself behind his rock pile, but the explosions were getting on his nerves. Jericho then threw some dynamite, which caused even more damage. “Had enough?”
Marston looked at what he’d gotten, Boom Bait and Fire Bottles. He gave a weird grin, as he noticed some of the undead, who had been attracted by the sounds. He threw the Boom Bait, the bottle breaking at Jericho’s feet. At this, the undead mobbed Jericho. The vampire pulled out his Redeemer, and shot the creatures, when he heard a hissing sound, and saw the dynamite that had been stored in the bottle. The explosion sent him flying. Marston threw his Fire Bottle, which burned the remaining undead, and set Jericho on fire. He then grabbed his Carcano Rifle, and set himself up again, after running to another rock pile.
Jericho rolled on the ground, managing to smother the flames out. He then used his Redeemer to kill the creatures that were still alive. He then saw Marston had a scooped rifle, so he grabbed his Carson Rifle, ran to another pile of rocks, and took aim, just in time to duck. Jericho popped back up, aimed, and fired. This continues for a while, until both fighters run out of ammo for their respective guns. This time, when they went to their horses, they got all of their weapons.
Marston had his Evans rifle, his pump-action shotgun, his Mauser pistol, his LeMat revolver, and his torch. Jericho had his Blackfish rifle, his Argus shotgun, his Redeemer revolver, two Warmonger pistols, and a Darchwatch Scepter. Both undead warriors grabbed their rifles, and used their Eye Powers – Jericho his Blood Vision, and Marston used his Dead Eye. Jericho could see Marston’s body heat, what there was of it, and Marston saw Jericho slow down a bit, as both aimed, and fired. Both managed to duck, each losing their hats.
Jericho looked at his opponent, with a certain amount of respect. Marston was also impressed. Marston had taken the brunt of several shots, but the silver did little to stop him, and as for Jericho, lead didn’t bother him much anymore. Still, admiration could wait, until the other got the message that things were going to go their way. The firing resumed. Jericho was soon forced to switch to his shotgun, and came in close, firing his four-barrel monstrosity. Marston was also forced to use his shotgun, and come in closer as well. Still, nothing could stop the other fighter. Jericho swung his shotgun, just as Marston swung his, but the blade on Jericho’s gun caught the butt of Marston’s. A growl escaped from Marston, as he looked at the remaining weapons Jericho had, which all had a blade of some sort. He shoved Jericho, and ran, pulling out his Mauser and LeMat. Jericho drew his Warmongers, and ran after him. The two fired at each other, although Jehicho was soon forced to pull out his Redeemer, which really surprised Marston with its ammo capacity. Marston saw the fire from his earlier fire bottle, and thus, pulled out his torch, and got it lit, before swinging it at Jericho, forcing the vampire to leap back. Jericho unsheathed his Scepter, and swung it at the zombie, knocking the torch out of his hands.
Jericho pulled his Redeemer back out, and pointed it at Marston. “Now, unless you want to go through all of this again, could you please wait until I tell you who I am, and perhaps listen to me?”
Marston looked at his foe, clenched his fist, and unclenched it, giving a low growl.
“I think that’s his way of saying he’ll listen,” said Cassidy.
“Shut up,” Jericho muttered.
“Not you,” said Jericho. “The ghost of a dead Darkwatch agent named Cassidy likes to talk to me.”
Marston raised what was left of one of his eyebrows.
“Long story,” said Jericho. “As you might have noticed, I’m no mortal man, and neither are you. I work for an organization called Darkwatch, and while it’s possible you’ve heard about the activities of some of our rougher members, who I’m busy trying to reprimand, our job is to hunt down the undead. Currently, we’re after a renegade agent that goes by the name of Tala. She’s a vampire, similar to me, only she’s gone all the way to the side of evil. Me, I used to be a train robber, until I messed with the wrong vampire. Now, I’m trying to get my soul back. At the moment, my job is to try and recruit you.”
“I’ll take that as a no,” said Jericho. “So, a compromise; you come with me, explain to my boss why you won’t join, but, given that you tend to help people, wouldn’t mind helping us out if we need help. Is that fair?”
Marston looked at Jericho, and nodded.
“Good. Now, let’s get going before the sun rises; I become little more than a normal human in the daylight.”
The two walked over to their horses, rode over to their respective hats, put them on, and rode off, in the direction of the sunrise.