|Author's Note: This little story takes place between Chapters 16 and 17. It's kind of different coming from one of the Gung-ho Gun's point of view, Levio the Double Fang. He wasn't mentioned in the story "Double Helix" and he might not even show up in "Blackfire & Gunsmoke" but I got Susan's permission to use this little story to tell who put the bounty on Rinnah's head (we were all surprised by that, even Susan!) ^_~ Besides, everyone was having so much fun writing these little fan extras I thought I'd give it a try too!! I hope you like it.
“I hate this town,” the man said, but to no one in particular. No one would be able to hear him through the blowing wind anyway. It ripped at his long jacket and tore through his hair, unstoppable. Even the buildings on either side of him could not stop this wind; it was a cursed place, man settled here for sheer stupidity, or perhaps because they had nowhere else to go. It was the end of the world and the beginning of a zone where men became monsters. He’d found himself here years before, a stray, no place to call home but this horrible place where he lost his humanity to an inner beast within him. The voice within him was silent today, but he knew at any time he would awake. It scared him, but he had given up that fight long ago.
It was early morning when he arrived in Towering Rock and the wind was wild as always. The old man would have said it was alive, the way that wind moved. He always thought Eleazar was full of it. The creepy old priest made his living designing weapons of mass destruction, sold to a community of plant worshippers, all bowing under one god, the one that lived close to here, not far now, with his concubine and child. There was another on the way, which was the good news for the plant worshippers, they bowed to the little woman, but he’d never met her, never wanted to. Gave him the creeps as much as the old man did, but his weapons were in need of repair and he had no where else to go.
Shivering in the wind, he came up through the back alley and trudged the long stretch of road out of town to where Eleazar lived. The little place was always empty; as far back as he could remember. That first day he came up to the building with his friend, his confidant, they’d met a man who could read minds and create weapons that suited their users. He received twin guns, his namesake, Double Fang. His friend, the Punisher. It had been some time now since he’d heard from Nicholas. For a time they thought he’d been killed until intelligence spotted him traveling with the Brother once again.
There was word now that they were here, in town. And his eyes fell on the small business and he pushed against a rock, hiding in the shade of it as he saw two women walking side by side on their way into town. When had he last seen women visit the old man? Never? But these were the ones he was told to watch out for, the tall blond and the dark haired one. It wasn’t his business. He’d heard about the bounty on her head for the missing plant, for her strange communication with Knives… Master Chapel himself had put the bounty on her, without the permission of their boss, but that was another story. The small fries would soon find they were no match for the Brother, or for his traveling companions. Especially if Nicholas was with him.
So, the Punisher was in need of repair as well? He chuckled to himself as he came out from around the stone as the women disappeared out of sight. Where were Nicholas and the Brother? Had they gone into town as well, or were they here with Eleazar? Carefully he rounded the building and knocked on the window where the old man slept. Eleazar looked up from his bed and nodded slowly, pointing toward the back door. He followed the directions and came to the front of the store, a little doorway that was hidden from the wind.
“Levio, my boy,” Eleazar said slowly, his eye crinkled with, was it delight? Was it sorrow? He was never sure, the old man knew he was coming; he’d been awake waiting for him. “He’s ‘ere still.”
Levio shrugged, “Does he know?”
Eleazar shook his head, allowing him entrance into the store where he took off his coat to reveal the Double Fang, his reason for the visit. The old man slipped them from his wrists and took them over to his desk. “Ye look pale, have ye been eatin’?”
“I’m fine,” Levio replied slowly, sitting down across from him, his eye on the door that allowed entrance to the shop from the house. “There’s a bounty on the woman.”
The old man looked up from the Fang and nodded slowly, “Ye ain’t here for that,” Eleazar nodded to the door. “Are ye worried ‘bout Nicholas?”
“Fine. He does’n think ‘bout ye any now, he’s been wed.” Levio’s eyes went wide with this news and his head dropped, eyes looking at his hands. How long had it been since they’d seen each other? His friend, his confidant… Married as any normal man, but Nicholas was never normal; he’d never had the chance to be a regular man, because he was one of the monsters Knives created. So how, how had he found time to marry? “’Tis the blond ‘un,” Eleazar said. “Few weeks ago. They’re happy.”
Levio didn’t look at Eleazar as the old man whistled under his breath at the guns. He took care of them, but the old gunsmith always found room to complain. He didn’t say a word this time, there was no need it was always the same argument. His boys never took care of their weapons. If he’d had his way, they’d never be used, that would be the only way they’d remain in perfect shape.
There were murmurs on the other side of the door and Levio cringed, he looked from Eleazar to the door, and the old man lifted a hand slowly. “Don’ move, he’s comin’ in.” There was a knock on the door and Nicholas breezed through with the white haired Brother. It was a bizarre sight, Levio had only heard of the man, never seen him in person, and those eyes… They were as red as blood. Those eyes scanned him, every part of him, within seconds, cold, calculating. The same as Knives, so much the same.
“Hey old man, we’re leaving now but what’s this about…” Nicholas trailed off and his breath caught. Levio looked away, eyes to the floor, his face turned so that the Brother wouldn’t see the half-skull that covered the left side of his face. “You’ve got a visitor.”
“Don’ ye go and forget an old man’s coffee now,” Eleazar said softly, still cleaning the Fang. “My writin’ ain’t that bad.”
Nicholas nodded slowly, “Of course.” He turned to look at the Brother, “Well Vash, you heard what the old man said. We’d better get on our way…”
“Who is your friend?” The white haired plant said, his red eyes never left Levio the entire time. He could feel them on his neck, digging into his soul, they were the eyes of a killer. He’d felt the like a hundred times, the rumors were true then, the Brother had become a murderer just as the others. Why then hadn’t he gone to Knives’ keep? What was he waiting for?
There was a nervous chuckle from Nicholas who waved a hand at Levio. “An old pal of mine, we grew up together.” He looked away, to the guns on the table and swallowed, “Vash… His name is Levio.”
“Levio. I’ve heard of you. Double Fang.” Vash walked to the table and picked up one of the guns slowly. “Are you here for me?”
Levio frowned; he looked up at the Brother and caught him by surprise. The skull that covered half of his face was enough of a shock for anyone, and those red eyes narrowed. He smiled, the monster within him had grown curious. Razlo snarled behind his eyes, but he managed to keep the beast quite for the time being, even as the enemy held his weapon. “No. I came for Eleazar’s skill.”
Vash put his gun down on the table again. He moved his hand dangerously close to his own Long Colt. He parted the side of his black coat and the weapon glinted eagerly. “That had better be the case.”
“Woah there, Spikey,” Nicholas said softly. “There’s no need for that today. I’m sure Levio was just passing through town…”
“I have no interest in you or the dark haired female,” Levio said casually. He slid down slightly in his chair, looking up at the Brother, he was scary, sure, but this was not the time. “But others will be. There’s a bounty on her head.”
“I know,” Vash said slowly, eyes narrowed. He looked out the window and moved his hand to the inner pocket of his coat, retrieving a familiar pair of sunglasses. Levio recognized them; they were the shades Nicholas wore. They covered his red eyes perfectly, but he knew they were still on him. “Livia gave us a visit in the last town. I suspect you’ve heard of her?”
Nicholas frowned, “Hey… What’s Elendira’s ‘sister’ doing going after bounties?”
“Master Chapel,” was Levio’s reply. Nicholas nodded slowly, a frown crossing his face. “He’s worried the dark haired one has been interfering with the plants. Is she?”
The Brother shrugged, “What if she is?”
“No matter to me.”
Eleazar moved from the first gun to the next, silent as he listened to them talking. He looked up now, expression cautious, he turned it to Vash and Nicholas. “Ye boys better get in ta town.”
Vash nodded, “Good idea.” He pointed a long gloved finger toward Levio. “If I see you there, I won’t hesitate to shoot you.” The Brother turned and left through the door back into the house. Nicholas stayed behind a moment, his shoulders sagging as he looked at his old friend.
“It’s nice seeing you again, Levio.” He turned to go, but then cast a glance over his shoulder. “I wouldn’t stop him…” Nicholas left with those parting words, and Levio sank down further into his seat. It was quiet as he listened for the door of the house to slam. When they were far-gone, he leaned over to the desk and took the first Fang, adjusting it back onto his wrist. He felt naked without them, and it felt good to have even one of them back in his possession.
“Ye’d best list’n to ‘em,” Eleazar said. Levio nodded. He’d done what he’d come here to do. The Brother knew now. It was up to him to use the information that he had. Nicholas… He’d changed as well. There was a difference in him now that he was married, in the way he stood, in his voice, in the soft expression in his eyes. He was happy. Secretly he was glad, even though the monster inside of him wanted to test the plant’s threat. “Ye too Razlo,” the old man said, handing him the second Fang. “Ye’d be happy ta learn from Nicholas. A good life lik that, it don’ come too often.”
Levio strapped on the second Fang and stood, grabbing his coat. “Thanks old man.”
“Take care now, ol’ Fang ain’t a toy ye know.” Eleazar smiled as Levio cast him a look only a son would give his father after he’d been reprimanded. “But ye take better care of ‘em than Nick, an’ that ye get a good word on.” Eleazar stood from his desk and went to the door of his home. “Now I des’rve a good nap.” He closed the door behind him. Levio stood there a moment more until he turned and pulled his coat back on.
The wind still whipped across his face, through his hair, just as it had when he came into town. He shook his head as his eyes scanned the road toward the city, then they turned the other way. Knives’ keep was that way, but to the south, Master Chapel waited for his report. Pulling the coat around him tighter, Levio turned to face the south. His stomach growled and he sighed. Hopefully there would be a good meal waiting for him at home, but nowhere near as good as if he’d had a wife waiting. Shaking his head, he smiled slightly; Nicholas had been the lucky one. He still thought that as he disappeared into the blowing sand.