Soundtrack for this memory is here.
Cold, heavy rain. It weighed down our limbs and our feet. Ran down the hill with treacherous slickness and down the bombs strapped to my body.
Pale faces in the darkness, the flash of fang and glitter and grumble of passwords. We turned towards the Stranger. Red eyes in the darkness. This was not the man I’d hoped to kill.
“There is to be a hunt.” Professional, clipped. This wasn’t personal for him. “An Honor Hunt.”
He was staring at me and I knew the answer before I asked my question.
“Who is your target?”
Rush of blood in my ears. I brushed my fingers across my palm, across the trigger button concealed there.
“It’s you, Rajah.”
I considered pulling the cord then. Shattering his legs. Would one of us die here? I had come to kill a Bounty Hunter and instead I was to be hunted.
“Hey no hard feelings.” I reached out my hand to shake.
“Ha. Vegasians.” he laughed and disappeared into the shadows.
“I don’t even think that guy was a real Postman!” the voices of outraged Braves rose over the sound of our hurried footsteps as we raced back to town from the false Deadvault.
Flash of white and red behind McBFG HQ. I raced towards Tes in time to see him tumble down the stairs. I flung pocket sand at the nearest bounty hunter’s eyes, tried to move in, but they were too fast. His twin clubs smashed into my armor, sunk into my flesh. The world was spinning and the mud came up to meet me.
Red eyes stared into my own bloodshot ones, the Shadow chuckled as I screamed.
“Hey, this one has a big bounty on her head.” he taunted and smashed my windpipe with his weapon. The air rushed out of me with a gasp. I was choking on my own cries for help.
A body slumped against my own. Tes? Our hands found each other in the darkness as time slid by. Our gasps for air growing quieter and quieter as the battle raged around us.
Things were more peaceful now, the dirt so comfortable. It all seemed so far away, Tes’ glow under my fingers seemed so safe. We would go together. That seemed right… I think?
Ynk will be so disappointed. Chum. Tink. R… They were far from here. They would be okay.
Someone was grabbing my arm. yanking up my sleeve. Go away.
“Rajah! She’s over here!” Needle sliding into my vein. Warm. Scent of ocean and gunpowder. Concerned eyes rimmed with tattoos. Logan.
“Hell of a first date.” he swore at me, lifting me to my feet. I stumbled away from him, towards a dark braid and white clothes streaked with blood. Tangled into each other. The doctor stepped back awkwardly as I sobbed into Tes’ shoulder.
The bounty hunters were retreating, taunting us. There were bodies on the ground. We turned our feet towards the Morgue.
It was strange, sitting here listening to the Hedons cry out to Guin inside the Morgue, drawing her back to the living. We were here to show respect, but it could have easily been Tes and I in there this night. I stroked his hair where his head rested on my knee and laughed as Chum and Tink joked. It was good to celebrate life with laughter, but my thoughts kept drifting to the inevitable.
Death was coming for me. I knew that much. I’d fought him once before, and I’d do it again, and this time I had my Luck, and my Crew…
I watched the survivors stumble past. The horror of the Gravemind still written in the lines of their faces. Was just surviving enough? And what sort of creature would I be at the end of it all?
A hunt was a game, nothing more. I, a mere pawn in the great machinations of the wastes.
No one expects the pawn to fight back. They keep moving forward, blindly, waiting to be destroyed.
Was it possible to cheat at this game? Yes. If…
Pawn advances to the end of the board.
Pawn becomes Queen.