Mid Day Sun
The sweltering heat of the midday sun was over the town of Conwell, a small breeze gingerly gusting through the town, creating small sand dervishes all over the canyon, sails rippling in the breeze. The town was still as busy as ever, new ships docking and others slowly climbing into the turbulent skies, setting sail for adventure. The Land’s Edge bar sat baking in the sun, the bowels of the bar slowly cooking the occupants on the inside to a muggy mess. Patrons bought drinks, paying for the girls’ attention in moments of lustful embraces, bringing money into this more well-known bar which had been slowly stealing clients away from the Plucked Swan on the other end of town. At a table, Alexander sat with his back to the wall, his land octopus companion on the table with a small shot glass of water next to Alexander's glass of whiskey, which was almost the same size of Franklin in comparison. Alexander had just started a new book about a savvy treasure hunter with a nice hat who goes on epic adventures in search of relics he deduces from cryptic clues. So far, the book hadn't let him down. He was trying to clear his mind of the whole waking up in Ruby's bed yesterday due to a large quantity of alcohol. His tab had tripled in its size from that night, but he couldn't remember the reason for drinking so much.
He was wracking his brain over it, especially about Ruby. He felt like she wanted to be more than friends, like in the past, but he wasn’t going to change his ways. Adventure was calling on the open skies and it beat sitting around Conwell all the time. The pages were dusty as he skimmed over the text; the story was getting quite interesting about the hero trying to decipher the clues to unlock the next piece of the puzzle while being pursued by evil men. He was quite enthralled in the book. He didn’t notice Ruby walking up to him from his blind side until Franklin squeaked that she was there, wanting to talk. Alexander tried to pull away from the story since Ruby looked like she had something important to tell him, but it took him a few minutes to pull his eyes from the story. He let out a sigh. He knew he had to give in or she would just escalate things by not selling him alcohol anymore. He placed the book mark in the weathered pages so he could continue reading it later, and then set the book down on his table. He turned his attention to Ruby, trying not to think about waking up next to her yesterday morning.
"How can I help you, my dear," Alexander asked. Ruby was happy she had his attention now.
"I wanted to warn you that a few customers saw Rilain being chased through Conwell. You should do something about that," she said.
"Is that all?" Alexander asked, confused, reaching for his book.
"Is that all? She is you're friend. What happens if something bad happens to her?" Ruby said, making a pouty face.
Alexander had just opened the book. "But I want to read. This book is getting really good..." he said, trying to give her a puppy dog face with one eye.
"You know, that only works with two eyes, and go do something or I'll call in your tab," she said with a look of anger brewing in her eyes.
Alexander let out a sigh of defeat. "You're really twisting my arm, my dear. I just want to read, but I guess I'll go and find her," he said, tucking his book into his satchel. Slowly, he got up, the floor boards creaking as he stood. He let out his hand as Franklin scuttled up his arm to his perch on Alexander's shoulder.
Ruby smiled. "See, now was that so hard to do?" she said, kissing him on the cheek. As he walked out of the bar, he chose not to answer her back to give her more satisfaction of winning another argument with him. The desert sky was crystal clear, like the waters of the more tropical countries of the world. The sun beat down on them, the breeze was less than a gentle gust at the moment.
"It’s fucking hot out today. Let’s go back to the ship," Franklin squeaked.
Alexander smiled. "Sounds like a good idea, but I really don’t want to have to pay Ruby to drink or eat food."
"Hmm, you might have a point... Alright, let’s go see what Rilain got into, but how are we going to find her?" squeaked Franklin.
A shotgun blast rang out in the town from the west just as Franklin finished asking questions. "Well, let’s look over there, I figure," Alexander said with a smirk.
"You're a dick, Nolan," Franklin squeaked.
Alexander chuckled as they started walking towards where the sounds were coming from. The sounds of shouting obscenities and racial slurs were getting louder, quickly. A blur of green and blonde of ran by Alexander and Franklin in a hurry. She turned long enough to see Alexander then ducked behind a corner.
"Found her," squeaked Franklin.
Alexander waited to respond as a group of guys walked towards him, but they didn't notice him slowly approaching them. They were yelling and cursing the fact that they lost her in this stupid town. Alexander noticed that they didn’t look like they were from the town. They wore cleaner clothes and their appearances did not look unkempt. They were walking past him when he slowly drew his pistol, sticking his foot out, causing the last man to fall forward on to his face. He stepped on the man’s neck, pinning him to the ground like someone mounting a live bug with a pin for a display. He pointed a pistol at the other members of the man’s group as they slowly turned around to the sounds of their friend’s cries of distress, giving Rilain a chance to catch her breath.
"Do I need to ask what you are doing in my city?" Alexander asked. The men were angry. They shouted at Alexander and had their weapons drawn. Alexander wasn’t that good to shoot down six people before they shot him.
"Who the hell are you, and why are you crushing my friend’s neck?" the leader said.
Alexander wondered what to say first. "I’m one of the law keeper here and you seem to be chasing my companion. I would like to know why?"
"Your companion has a bounty on her head in Antiford. She matches the description," the leader said.
It took a while for Alexander to process what he just said. "You mean the bounty from the rich family in the Rowe district." The look in the man’s face was that of confusion. He seemed lost.
"Yes...how did you know that?" he asked.
"Because I caught the Vibranni and brought her back dead... My companion is just an average Nakalo. I'd prefer it if you don’t kill her. It would be a bother to replace her," Alexander said.
His anger was seething and starting to boil out. The leader said, “You lie, and who are you, anyway?"
"The name’s Alexander Nolan," he said. The group murmured amongst themselves and it seemed like they knew who he was and what his reputation was.
"You're that Nolan?" the man asked.
"That would be me, so I would prefer you to leave my city," Alexander stated.
The leader squinted. "And what happens if we don’t want to?"
Alexander grinned as he saw Rilain holding a circular object in her hand, motioning to throw it towards the group. Franklin squeaked, "Is that a grenade?"
Alexander muttered under his breath, "I don’t think so."
He nodded for Rilain to throw it. "Well, this will prolly play out badly for both of us cause I'll drop a few of your guys before you shoot me so how about you leave," Alexander stated towards the group of men.
The leader looked like he was thinking it out, his brow furrowing, contemplating the question. There was a sound from behind the group as they turned to see one of their crew was missing and in his place was a small metal ball rolling forward. Just as the realization hit them, it started to belch smoke out, causing a distraction. Alexander fired three shots in a tight group, right into one of the men’s chest, lowering his pistol to run. He pumped one round into the man he was pinning to the ground. His head ruptured like someone kicking a rotted pumpkin, brain matter and blood spewing everywhere.
Alexander turned on his heels to start running. As the smoke cleared, the leader shouted to chase after Alexander as they had forgotten about Rilain; they wanted revenge. Alexander ran like a gazelle sprinting across the open plain. He knew he was outnumbered and the only way of winning would be to slowly whittle them down, since only five were left from the eight. He ducked behind a wall, peering from behind his cover, as he heard footfalls coming faster. He took a deep breath before moving from his cover, trying to aim, squeezing the trigger twice. The bullets hit one man dead center in the chest, dropping him like a bag of rocks into water. The group dispersed like a puff of smoke dissipating in the wind as they dove for cover to return fire. Alexander went back in the alley. He was hiding, trying to figure out what to do next.
"Use a grenade and incinerate those stupid bastards," Franklin squeaked.
Alexander was trying to think over his friend’s words. "No, that’s too much collateral damage. Daniel would throw me in jail for a week with bread and water...again," he whispered.
"You're gonna die, Nolan," one of the men yelled from behind a crate.
A smile creased his lips over his dirt and sweat-streaked face. "Better men have tried to do that and I'm still standing, you ‘kovy cunts," he said, trying to push them into making a stupid move.
He could hear them talking about what to do when he had an idea. He reached into his pocket for some wire and reached around for a rusty nail.
"What are you doing now?" squeaked his companion.
"Making a grenade trap," he said, stringing the wire to the nail along the ground to the grenade on the other side of the small alley. Franklin had a look of confusion.
"Wait...didn’t you say grenades were bad due to the big amount of collateral damage?" he asked.
"I thought about it and this way is more entertaining. Plus, I wanted to show them the reason why I earned my reputation," he said with a grin.
Time was moving in slow motion as the moments passed, Alexander waiting for someone to make a move. "You know, I should just go home ‘cause you guys outnumber me and you haven't even tried to make a move. What are you scared of? One man with a gun?" Alexander yelled over his shoulder.
He heard them arguing about what to do. The more reckless ones said they should charge in and just kill him, since they believed Alexander had half a clip. Alexander got up and ran down the alley and around the building, trying to flank them. Hopefully this trick paid off, he thought to himself. He rounded the corner, directly behind the group. They decided to try and slowly move down the street until one man was brave enough to move out into the alley, pointing his gun out while his friends covered him. The look on his face was priceless as he walked in the alley, cursing that Alexander wasn't there. When he walked into the alley, he did not notice the wire he kicked free, since Alexander had pulled the pin far enough out so that it would fall out easily and not be noticed. The man walked back out of the alley.
"That piece of shit ran away," he said. Not a second later, the grenade erupted, engulfing the man in fire and shrapnel piercing his body like a piece of paper. Surprisingly unaware, he had shielded his friends from the blast. Alexander emerged from cover, firing two more shots into the man’s back. He fell to his knees then face first onto the dirty ground as his life blood slowly drained from his body, staining the ground a dark scarlet red.
"I thought you said you would kill me. I've killed five of your men," Alexander said in a mocking voice as he turned and ran away. The men gave chase, firing hatefully as they followed Alexander through the streets. Bullets skimmed by Alexander as he ran.
"Franklin, get off my shoulder. I don't need you getting hit by a stray bullet," Alexander said, his breath coming is gasps as he pushed himself. Just then, a bullet grazed his rib cage, slicing his shirt and causing arterial floods to seep through the fabric. Another bullet grazed his left right shoulder; his shirt had patches of crimson blurring through.
"Fuck," he exclaimed.
He noticed he was running out of road as the canyon approached. He tried to look around for any way out and spied a rope spanning across the canyon they used to send crates and small packages across the canyon faster, rather than walking all the way across through the middle of the town. He sprinted forward knowing the gap wasn't far, but he still had to clear it.
"What are you doin, ALEX?!" Franklin squeaked in rapid bursts.
Another smile crept across Alexander’s face and Franklin knew there was a bad idea brewing in his skull. "Something incredibly stupid," he said bluntly, putting his gun back in its shoulder holster and reaching for his broadsword in the scabbard clasped to his belt. He slightly unhooked the scabbard from his belt as he ran, another bullet grazing his leg.
"Fuck, God damn, that hurts!" he exclaimed as the ledge was fast approaching with every boot fall.
"Hold on tightly," he ordered Franklin as the last piece of Orr was under his feet. He leapt out into the wide expanse of the canyon and started to descend, desperately trying to reach for the rope cable.
He thought, "I'm going to die with this fucking stupid idea."
Franklin, in protest, squeaked, "I don't approve of this!" At the last minute, he hooked the back end of the scabbard onto the rope and slid recklessly across the giant void with jagged rocks and rushing rapids below. He hoped the scabbard would hold. The trip had only taken a matter of minutes and he had been gaining speed ever so slightly.
"How are we going to stop?" Franklin squeaked, trembling in terror.
Alexander had a sublime look on his face. "Honestly, I haven't thought of that yet. I was winging it," he said. As the other half of the canyon wall approached, Alexander thought of something at the last minute.
"This is going to hurt, hold on tight," he yelled as he let go of one side of the scabbard, dropping to the ledge and trying to use the momentum to roll as his leg hit ground. He lurched forward, leaning his left shoulder in and tucking his head to his chest as he tried to roll forward, causing him to spiral for a few feet, just enough to stop him from hitting the rock wall.
"Can we not do that ever again?" Franklin squeaked. Alexander smiled from the statement.
Alexander felt his body screaming in agony from the cuts the bullets had made and the impact on the ground. He hoped he avoided most of the damage from the fall, but he was bruised and bloodied. He looked up to see the men who had chased him standing on the cliff edge on the other side of the canyon. He could have sworn he could hear the man cursing at the top of his lungs. Alexander just waved, knowing it would piss him off, which he was to no end, and also knowing he was out of bullet range. The two remaining men disappeared for a brief second until he saw them make giant leaps off the cliff with metal pipes in hand, trying to mimic what Alexander had just done.
"Fuck, you can shoot them," Franklin squeaked. Alexander chuckled.
"That would be a great idea, if I had the arm strength to aim and pull the trigger at this moment," he admitted, the action of jumping off the cliff having taken its toll.
"So, we're going to die," the octopus said in a depressing tone.
Alexander looked around and spied his broadsword on the ground lying next to him. "We're not dead yet," he said, reaching for his sword, every fiber of his being crying out in tortured bursts of pain. He drew the sword, a thin evil smile creeping along his face as he anticipated what was going to happen next. With a flick of his wrist, the blade sliced through the rope like a hot knife carving through chanka meat, causing the rope to slack as it fell. Alexander slumped against the wall as the roped slipped into the void between the canyon walls, causing the men to plummet like stones to the jagged rocks and rushing rapids below. Both men weren’t really that far out when the rope had lost its tether, so falling into the water wasn't the luckiest option. They hit the rocks like rag dolls, one having a jagged rock pierce through his stomach and erupting from his backside like a volcano explosion of blood and organs. The guy’s body slowly slid down the rock, coating it in a film of scarlet plasma, while the other man just crashed upon the rocks, snapping his neck and bones like a glass cup being smashed on the floor.
"I think they’re dead now," Franklin squeaked. Alexander tried propping himself against the wall as he was trying to stand. The task seemed much harder than it was supposed to be. "Let’s go. I could use a drink," he muttered in pained gasps.