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Harakiri

Wanderers of the Wastes

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1/Complicated

The transport was nothing more than a flatbed truck with a couple metal seats bolted to the bed and a canopy over the seats to keep the sun out. It traversed the rough, rocky terrain of the Wastes, sending the men and women in the back up and down, up and down. Somehow the priest in the very back seat was able to read his bible as the truck rocked about. The woman that sat next to him was beautiful and sat close enough to him that everyone on the truck figured they were a couple. An odd couple though, seeing as the girl had a sniper rifle slung over her back. The priest looked like he had gotten into quite a few fights in his time though, his hands were covered in scars, his face had two on each cheek and one that started at the top of his forehead, went down his eyelid, and stopped at his chin. He was young, maybe early twenties. His hair was blown in the wind, making it an even more unruly mess than when he had gotten on. His face was shaven and he had the look of a fighter about him. He was lanky, but had sinewy muscle beneath his black suit. He was a man of God, but he also appeared to be a man of the sword.

He closed his leather bound bible and set it inside of a bag beneath his seat. The woman who sat next to him lay her head against his shoulder, her blond hair tickling his cheek. He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer. It was a rather cute display of affection. The man sitting at the front of the transport might have cared a little more if not for the fact he had a duty and that duty meant he needed to kill every person on the transport.

The little man fingered his jacket nervously. He had killed before, but he had never killed a priest, let alone seen one. He had heard it was bad luck to kill a man of God.

The priest leaned into his companion and whispered in her ear. "The man at the front of the transport keeps looking back at us. He is of ill intent. He's playing with his jacket, he must have a weapon concealed beneath it. Keep your eye on him." The woman nodded and watched the little man, still holding tightly to the priest. "Don't let him see Mary. Bandits love to steal pixies and sell them." The woman's hand went to her pocket where a tiny presence nudged her index finger.

The transport continued into a small canyon.

The priest stood and yelled for the transport to stop. The little man at the front's eyes widened considerably as the driver slammed on the break and looked through the little window behind his seat at the passengers.

"What the hell?" He looked the priest up and down.

The priest nodded toward the little man at the front of the transport. "That man has to use the restroom, I can tell by the way he is shaking." The little man stood and turned on the priest.

"I don't have to use the restroom! I'm just going to see my lover! I'm nervous!" The man hastily replied.

"You going to shoot your lover?" The priest smiled warmly. "Take the pistol from your jacket and kick it toward me. You are not robbing this transport."

The bandit smiled. "Damn priest." He reached into his jacket and whipped his pistol out, aiming it at the priest's head. The people on the transport were frozen in shock and horror. A woman in a long flowing dress fingered the gold necklace that hung to her breasts.

The pistol moved to aim at that woman. "She's the daughter of the vice president of Drake Industries! I'm taking her hostage and if anyone tries to stop me I will kill them." He moved his pistol to point at the head of the driver through the window. "Start driving or I'll blow your brains all over the steering wheel!"

The transport lurched ahead and the pistol moved to aim at the priest's companion. "Throw your sniper rifle out of the transport."

"No." The girl said firmly, crossing her arms and legs and looking at the man like he was some sort of idiot.

The pistol moved to the head of the priest. "Then he'll die!"

She shrugged. "That's his problem."

"Thanks babe." The priest muttered. He listened intently for the sound of anyone else coming to back up their comrade.

"So you two are lovers? Then why won't you throw away your rifle?" The bandit moved closer to the priest, his hand shaking. "You'd rather your love die?"

"I can always find another boyfriend." The girl said smugly.

The bandit was only a couple of feet from the priest when the transport started to slow down. The man turned toward the driver and shot into the air. "I didn't tell you to stop!"

The priest used the opportunity to grab the man's face and pull him backward. The priest's knee smashed into the small of the bandit's back. The little man squealed and dropped his pistol.

"Pray for God's forgiveness and he will be sure to give if you mean it. If not only Hell awaits you."

"Have you ever thought we're already in Hell?" The little man asked.

"If we were I wouldn't be able to snap your neck and send you to the next world would I? Have you read the Inferno? Hell is a place of infinite pain and punishment where you never die, no matter how insane the beatings. This world, hard as it may be to believe, is a relative heaven compared to what awaits you if you do not ask God for forgiveness when I release you." The priest took the man and pushed him against the railing spanning the perimeter of the transport's bed.

"There are more of us." The bandit said. "We have this transport's number, we'll find you and kill you!"

"If God so wills it." The priest threw the man over the railing. The bandit smacked into the ground, bones cracking, and rolled the opposite direction of the transport, eventually stopping. He was broken, beaten, and bruised. He screamed in pain as he tried to get up. He reached for his radio with what little power was left in him.

"Saveme." He gasped into the radio when his boss answered.

 

"You can be quite a good actor sometimes." The priest took his seat beside his girlfriend, shoving the bandit's fallen pistol into the folds of his jacket. The woman clung to him tightly.

"What's to say I was acting Gare?"

"The fact that you are clinging to my arm like that is a clear indication Lily."

Lily smiled and pressed her cheek against his arm.

"Excuse me." The voice was a little more than a whisper, coming from the woman with the golden necklace. The daughter of the vice-president of Drake Industries. "I would like to thank you father." She started digging into her purse and Gare disentangled from Lily's grasp and stood, shaking his head.

"I do not require payment for my services ma'am. I do whatever I feel God would want me to do."

"You are an odd priest though, aren't you? A man of God who knows how to fight and knows how to incapacitate an enemy?"

Gare stuck his hands in his pockets. "It's a tough world. I figured I may as well learn to survive in it."

The woman looked at the other people on the transport who watched the exchange with much interest. She turned back to Gare. "Protect me, please sir." Her hand reached back into her purse. "I know who you are." She whispered. "My father has spoken of a priest like you in the Wastes. You are a gun for hire."

"That would be false information. I would never prostitute my services." Gare ended it there and sat back down. Lily stood and smiled at the dejected young woman. "On the other hand, she will." Gare muttered, sitting back and sighing.

"My name is Lily Seymour! Nice to meet you!" The blond girl shook the woman's hand.

"We're not married yet." Gare Seymour muttered, rolling his eyes.

"After this job I expect a wedding! It's only been how long I've been waiting?" Lily turned her back on her prospective client and started jabbering with Gare.

"We've been together a long time, it's just the fact that we've been too busy to be wedded."

"Well I expect us to take a break in Las Vegas! It'll be like back in the old days. You've heard the stories about all the neon and casinos and there were weddings every minute of every day! And that Elvis guy" Gare shook his head as he watched the client stare like she was seeing two bears dancing in tutus. She had no idea what the hell was going on.

"Lily, behind you." Gare rested his cheek upon his fist and watched his lover spin around.

"Oh yeah. Um, sorry. I'm Lily Seymour." She stuck out her hand again.

"We established that." The client shook Lily's hand again. "I'm Amy Washburn. I am trying to get to Drake Industries headquarters."

"Why are you here then? What are you doing?" Lily asked.

"My grandmother had fallen ill in San Antonio so I went to see her. She passed away while I was there with her. After her funeral I decided I would head home. I had no idea I would be targeted by bandits, I thought I was safe. It's not like I flaunt the fact my father is the vice president of the biggest cybernetics firm in the Wastes."

"You just did." Lily said.

"You know what I mean!" Amy reached into her purse and pulled out a wad of bills. "I will pay you all I have right now and my father will be sure to pay you anything you want when you return me in Las Vegas."

Lily snatched the wad of bills and handed them to Gare who put them in his pocket. "We were heading to Vegas anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem." She took her seat besides Gare and Amy sat next to her.

"So the priest is a gun for hire?" Amy asked.

"No, he just follows me." Lily answered.

"And everywhere she goes, there's always someone trying to kill her or someone else. So I can't in good conscious let the good guys die. I have the feeling that God put me on the Earth to follow this psychopath around and make sure that there is someone to perform the funeral rites." Lily pecked him on the lips. She turned to Amy and whispered into her ear.

"He takes some getting used to."

"As do you." Gare muttered. "Wake me up at the next refuel."

 

"A priest and a blond haired woman?" The young man with unruly brown hair asked his companion sitting in the back of the jeep, a girl of about sixteen nursing his wounds as the driver took them toward camp. They had the number of the transport and knew it was headed for Las Vegas. There was only one route the transports took to Las Vegas and it stopped just short of the Hoover Dam at a refuel station. That would be where they took the girl and killed the priest and his lover.

"The priest was a vicious bastard. He is no ordinary man of God." The little bandit yelped as a cotton swab dowsed in alcohol was applied to a scratch on his arm.

"He's a gun for hire. A mercenary. The whole of the Wastes fears him. I have heard him be referred to as the anti-Christ himself." The leader of the bandit group saw the small collection of white tents on the horizon and smiled. "If we kill him, we'll be heroes."

"What's he done?" The driver asked, a cigarette dangling from his cracked lips.

"If we were to believe the legends I've heard, then he was the cause of the apocalypse."

The driver nearly dropped his cigarette. "That was five hundred years ago!"

"I know. I don't think the legend of the priest is quite as prevalent as it was a hundred years ago, but a few people still know it." The jeep stopped and the leader of the bandits hopped out. He needed to prepare for the fight of his life. Whoever the priest was, he was immortal if he was talking of the same one that his father and grandfather had told him about as a child.

 

The sun set on the horizon and the transport lurched to a stop at a small station on the side of what had once been a major highway. The place was falling apart, the windows boarded up. The transport stopped beside a gas pump and an old attendant in oil-stained overalls walked out and started filling the truck up. Lily nudged Gare in the side hard, waking him up. He frowned at how much force Lily had put behind the elbow and stood, getting off of the transport and entering the station. A younger man with a triangular mustache stood behind the counter and nodded at the priest.

"Do you have any apples?"

 

Gare returned to his seat biting into a red apple. It had cost him a small fortune to get three of them, but the fruit were certainly worth it, succulent and juicy. He threw one to Lily and another to Amy who caught it and looked at Gare like Santa Clause. "Thank you very much father."

"His name's Gare outside of the church." Lily said, biting into her apple.

"Mr. Gare." Amy took a petite bite from her fruit and after a couple more minutes the driver got into his seat, having bought himself some food and drink and paid the attendant. The truck lurched forward toward the Hoover Dam. It was at about this point that Gare looked over his shoulder and noticed a plume of dust rising on the horizon from the desert and saw a couple shapes growing ever closer.

"Lily, it appears we have company." He took another bite from his apple as Lily took the scope from her sniper rifle and looked toward the dust plume.

"Bandits." She said. Amy looked fearfully at her protectors and Lily gave her a reassuring smile as she slung her rifle from her shoulder and started setting it up. Gare pulled the pistol from his jacket and checked it over. The people on the transport looked from the priest, to his girlfriend, to Amy, to the dust plume getting ever closer.

Lily's rifle coughed and Gare heard the screech of metal.

"Gare, cycles!" She cried as four motorcycles flew toward the transport, leaving behind a collection of jeeps and a truck with what appeared to be a fifty-caliber machine gun.

"Oh my god!" Amy screamed as shots started ringing out, smacking against the body of the transport. The driver was swerving and trying to avoid the shots but failing miserably. The four motorcycles broke into pairs. One pair took the left side of the transport, one the right. Gare focused on the left, shooting a rider before he could hop onto the transport. The second got on and hefted over the railing, his pistol instantly going off, hitting the shoulder of an older man who flew against the railing to the side of his seat. He screamed.

Gare's pistol let off two shots, one into the chest, another into the brain. The bandit's head exploded and his body fell over the rail and into the street below.

Lily had left her rifle where it was and held a knife in her hand. One of the riders on the right hopped aboard and she was on him, her knife slashing through his throat, her foot smashing into his chest and sending him to his head on the pavement. The final cyclist backed off, slowing down. The transport passed it and Gare noticed a fallen advertising sign laying against a rock at a forty-five degree angle to the side of the road ahead.

The cyclist was suicidal!

The motorcycle flew forward behind the transport, passing the ramp.

The cycle hit the ramp.

Five seconds later the cycle fell upon the transport's canopy, the green fabric falling on top of the people on the transport, as well as the metal wire that held it up. There was a snapping, mushy sound accompanied by the scream of a man who was the landing pad for a cycle.

There were sudden shots and Gare felt a bullet whiz by his face. He fell to his knees and grabbed his bag from beneath his seat. When he opened it, he grabbed a metal shaft and threw the pistol away.

The canopy was cut open and Father Gare Seymour hopped out from it, Excalibur in his hands. He was in the air like a bird. The bandit turned and saw the priest falling upon him like an angel from heaven. He turned his pistol to aim at the priest's chest but before he could pull the trigger the weapon was cut in half and his index finger was removed from his hand. His scream mixed with those of the people on the transport.

There was shot from Lily's rifle and Gare heard glass shatter. Before he could focus on the jeeps gaining on them, Gare severed the cyclist's head from his body. When he turned to face the next wave of assailants, he was made to duck as the fifty-caliber discharged. The bullets flew through the air he stood in not a second before. He began to worm his way toward the end of the transport where Lily had thrown back the canopy and was shooting at the bandits cars. He left her alone and grabbed Amy. He took off his jacket and put it over her. She was shaking uncontrollably, she'd never been in a situation like this and it weighed heavily on her. He set her against the back seat and looked over the seat at his enemies. The truck with the fifty caliber was getting closer and Gare knew if it got any closer, they were screwed.

"Focus on the gunner." He told Lily who gave him a thumbs up.

"He's got a metal shield on either side of the gun. I've only got a small hole to shoot through to take off his head."

"You can do it babe." Gare counted four jeeps. One of them was getting closer than the others, only about twenty feet from touching the back bumper of the transport.

"Hey priest!" Came a cry from the front of the transport. The driver looked over his shoulder at the black clad man. "The dam's up ahead!"

Lily's rifle coughed and there was the sound of yelling coming from the group of vehicles behind the transport. Gare looked up and saw that the machine gun had no one on it. He ruffled Lily's hair.

"I'm not thirteen anymore." She said in a rather sarcastic tone as she searched under the seat for her bag containing a case of spare ammo.

That was when the front jeep bumped into the back of the transport and three people hopped onto the railing of the transport. Two came at Gare and one went for Amy. They all carried knives that Gare avoided deftly, backing toward Amy who had a blank expression on her face. She was scared stiff, quite literally.

The man who went for Amy was stopped in his tracks when Gare's boot met his face in a roundhouse kick that sent the man against the railing. His two buddies knives did nothing but cut up his clothes. Excalibur bisected one of the men completely.

The other man relieved himself in his pants before Gare cut off the top part of his body from his lower left armpit to the middle of his right shoulder.

Gare turned in time to see the third man's knife lunge for his neck. Gare stepped aside and brought his sword up, cutting the man's head from his body.

 

"Holy [cabbage]!" The leader of the bandits cried, grabbing the wheel from his chain-smoking driver as his head was splattered against the leather seat and the jeep swerved toward the side of the road. Ahead he saw the Hoover Dam and knew he had no way he could beat the priest. The man had cut down his men like it was nothing. And his girlfriend was the best sniper he had ever encountered. He opened the driver door, pushed the dead driver out, and took his place, his butt squishing into the pink matter all over the bottom of the chair. He closed the door and turned the car around, grabbing his radio.

"Get the [bleep] out of here! We can't fight these people!"

 

The jeeps and the truck screeched to a halt and turned away from the transport. Gare sighed and flicked the blood from his blade. He took the canvas with one hand and flipped it off of the transport and to the road as the truck made its way across the Hoover Dam. Beneath the canvas were ten people in various states of fear and pain. The old man whose shoulder had been shot was being taken care of by his wife, there were two dead people lying in the center aisle of the benches, one whose chest appeared to have caved in and another who had suffered a shot through the neck. Gare started toward the front of the bed of the transport and tapped the hood of the cab. The driver looked over his shoulder and smiled.

"That was nuts." He said. "I've dealt with bandits before, but you and that woman back there took care of them in good order."

"And lost two innocent people in the process. I will commence funeral services at the stop. I was hoping to convince you to take the elderly gentleman to a hospital." Gare waved a couple bills at the window dividing himself from the driver. "This should cover expenses and get you a new canvas."

Gare returned to his seat and put his sword away. Amy still sat on the floor, staring blankly.

Lily slung her sniper over her shoulder and looked at Amy, a sudden sense of nostalgia flooding her. Gare caught it and frowned. Lily sat down, melancholy in her eyes.

"Sometimes I wish we could be like her. I wish we were innocent again." Lily muttered.

Gare grabbed her hand and smiled. "I figured you would find that a weakness. I thought you became a mercenary to relinquish the idea of you being a weak little girl?"

She squeezed his hand. "Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had stayed an innocent little girl, you had stayed a stupid teenage boy, and the world hadn't ended."

"We'd be dead right now." Gare looked up at the ever darkening sky. "Before we died we probably would have been a happy family. Had kids. Found a nice beachside home like we wanted. You'd be a veterinarian, I'd be a literature teacher, or maybe even a professor." Gare laughed. "If the world hadn't turned out the way it did we probably would have had a nicer eighty years together than the past five hundred we've endured now."

"And we're still not married." Lily said.

"We've been too busy. We spent nearly one hundred and fifty years rebuilding civilization in New York and Boston and the past three hundred and fifty years have been pretty hectic what with your deciding to become a mercenary, my becoming a priest, and our constant ability to get in the crosshairs of every bad guy we ever walk within fifty miles of."

Lily nodded. "True. We've said we'd get married for all these years and have been putting it off. It's weird, because you are a priest. You could just do it on the spot."

Gare slapped himself on the forehead. "I have said this a million times and every time I even mention it you tell me that it's not romantic enough. We need to find a romantic time to get married and we need another priest because it would just be proper."

"There have been a few opportunities." Lily muttered.

"Like?"

"When we were in Florida, on the beach with Father Jacob."

"Who was eaten alive by a giant alligator that we were then forced to run away from? We'd only known him five minutes before he died."

"We could have asked him before he died. Maybe he wouldn't have been eaten had we been in his chapel."

Gare groaned and sat back. He looked at Amy, still shaken, and nudged Lily. "Get Mary to take care of Amy. I hate seeing people like that."

 

The man was only twenty-nine but looked like he was eighty. His body was undernourished, his skin was dirty, the rags that served as his clothes were tarnished with dirt. He held in his hands a shining silver harmonica that he blew into, the sound shrill. He sat against a pile of rubble on the Strip where the Luxor used to stand. Vegas was not a forgotten city, it still had a running casino and Drake Industries brought in a lot of workers. Every once in a while a car would pass down the Strip. Nobody paid the man much heed as he blew into his instrument, the only solace in his otherwise seemingly worthless life.

He started to sing, and it was actually not too bad. It was a song from before the world changed.

 

 

Riders on the storm

Riders on the storm

Into this house we're born

Into this world we're thrown

Like a dog without a bone

An actor out alone

Riders on the storm

 

A transport passed by and the man stopped singing, Two hundred feet down the Strip from where he sat, the transport stopped in front of what had at one time been part of a casino but was now a hospital, a large green military tent sitting outside of it. The man watched people get off the transport and the driver help a man in black priest's garb take an elderly gentleman into the hospital.

After a couple of minutes of watching the people at the hospital, he put his harmonica back to his parched lips and continued his song.

 

Mary buzzed around Amy's head, her tiny body wearing nothing but a small piece of cloth. Her wings were like that of a dragonfly, though slightly smaller. She was an organism created in a laboratory, made to be a personal companion to whoever owned her. You could liken the tiny creature to a robot, but instead of looking like something from the future, she looked like she came right out of a fairy tale. Lily sat in the transport next to Amy and made sure she was okay. She still had Gare's coat over her shoulders and hadn't budged an inch, staring forward like there was an interesting speck of dust on the floor. She was paralyzed, stock still. She'd never seen violence, never been shot at. For some people, it made them insane, for some it locked them up, and for still others it was a comfort zone and bullets whizzing by were just as regular for them as was breathing.

She had a gun pointed at her, which hadn't locked her up at all. It was when bullets started whizzing by that she had realized how dangerous everything was. Lily figured from her appearance, her crisp white dress and the fact she traveled around the Wastes with jewelry on that she was a spoiled rich girl. She was right. This girl knew nothing of the real world. She'd more than likely led a sheltered life in her father's apartment within Drake Industries building. Now she got a taste of what life was like outside of those walls.

Mary stopped in front of Lily and started to jabber about Amy's condition. She was okay, she just needed a bed. Lily nodded and decided she would take the girl into the hospital.

--------------------

 

Author's Note:

I used to post on Tip.It every two seconds but now I haven't posted in three or four months. I don't even know if my old buddies from the forum are still around. It's been four years I've been using the forum...I feel like an old man.


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2/Making History

Zach Archer sat back and smiled as a girl of about seventeen walked into his office in a school girl outfit. Short skirt, long white socks, a button down shirt tight against her large chest. Archer’s cigarette dangled precariously from its position at the edge of his lips. The girl was strikingly beautiful and completely submissive to the man who had taken her in from the ruins of what had once been Las Vegas. She loved him, though not as a father. He was only twenty-four and figured it wasn’t odd for a relationship such as the one he shared with the girl to be going on in a world with no rules. His favorite part about her was the fact she was able to use a sword so deftly. She’d only just started learning a year ago, but was now able to fight like a professional. She had more inherent talent for killing than he would have believed.

The school girl outfit was not something he made her wear, she just wore it for his pleasure. She’d taken to calling him her master and as much as he enjoyed the sex, she wasn’t someone he wanted to be with for the rest of his life. She was a person he simply enjoyed the company of.

“Master, a transport has come into the city.” She said, sitting on his desk seductively. He set his cigarette into the ash tray on his desk and latticed his fingers together. Transports went through the city every couple of days, so he wasn’t all that surprised to find out another came through.

“There was a priest aboard the transport.” The girl answered his blank stare and flicked a black hair out of her eye. Her green eyes stared into his but he quickly turned away and got out of his chair, moving toward the picture window that looked out on the remnants of Las Vegas.

“So he’s back.” Archer muttered. “He brought Lily with him as well I am sure.” He smiled. “Do you have any idea of where the transport is going?”

“It stopped at the hospital master.”

“Send some men. I want Seymour brought back alive. I have things to speak to him about. Tell them to leave the blond girl alone. That’s his girlfriend. If she is stupid enough to come save her man than she will be a live training exercise.”

“Yes master!” The girl got off of Archer’s desk and bowed low before walking out of the room.

“What in God’s name is Gare Seymour doing back in Vegas?” Archer asked himself, doing an about face and returning to his desk to count the piles of money collecting on one corner.

 

It was close to midnight. Gare had been helped by a few of the people on the transport, including the driver, digging graves for the two fallen. Gare gave them his blessing before sitting in a blindingly white room containing a single bed and a table for operating materials. There were none on the table, just a glass of water that Gare sipped at as he watched the sleeping form of Amy. Lily had gone to the restroom and had left him to watch over the young woman. He left his jacket on her, she seemed to enjoy it’s warmth, even with the blanket atop her.

“Forgive me father for I have sinned.” A middle aged doctor with thick black glasses and thinning brown hair sat in the seat next to Gare.

“As have we all.” Gare took the crucifix around his neck into his hand and rubbed it’s smooth metal with his thumb. “This isn’t a confessional doctor.”

“I know, but how often is it you get to meet a priest? Your kind are a dying breed father.” The doctor ran a hand through his hair and looked down at the floor between his feet. “Can you bring me salvation?”

“Only God can bring salvation. I am merely his messenger.”

“Then please give this message to God for me; I’m sorry for Natalia’s death. I did everything I could but I just couldn’t save the poor girl. I hope He has a special place for her.” A tear streamed down his cheek. Gare looked away from the man.

“You did all you could. God would not ask anything more of you. How did she pass?”

“She was shot in the lung by a bandit. She was only eleven. I couldn’t extract the bullet in time. Her lungs filled with blood.”

Gare put his hand on the doctor’s shoulder. “She is with God now. She is safe.”

The doctor nodded. “Thank you father.” He stood and patted his thighs. “When she died, I felt like a failure. She didn’t deserve to die. All she cared about was making friends, was being a little girl.”

“Your daughter is in God’s arms. Don’t worry.”

At the mention of the word daughter the doctor broke down. The tears streamed down his cheeks like waterfalls. He left the room, passing by Lily who gave him a glance before taking the doctor’s place in the seat beside Gare. He grabbed Lily’s hand and she squeezed.

“Becoming a priest has only made me feel worse about the world. People come to me hoping to find salvation, hoping for me to fix problems I have no control over. Sometimes I want to challenge faith, I want to challenge God. If he is as forgiving as the Bible says, then why were most of his children taken to the next world while we were left behind? Is this a punishment? Are we to bear the weight of all of humanities sins and live in this hell for the rest of eternity?”

“Gare.” Lily muttered. “Don’t talk like that. Maybe this is a test. Maybe we’re supposed to make this into paradise. Maybe He has appointed you to make sure that that paradise is reached. You’ve done so much for this world, don’t feel like your powerless.”

“People expect miracles of me! Whenever I do perform for God people think me a creature of Hell. What am I then? Am I a priest communicating to God or am I a priest communicating with the devil? I kill. I break one of the ten commandments. But I only do it to protect the innocent. What am I Lily?”

“The greatest man I’ve ever known.” She answered and kissed him. She pulled him from his chair and pressed her face against his. Tears fell out of his eyes.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better companion for the past five hundred years.” Gare whispered into Lily’s ear, hugging her tightly.

“There will come a day when we will be able to live in peace together. I promise. Until then, we must do what we can to help humanity continue to survive.”

 

The six men swept through the hospital. They harmed no one, they were only after a single man. They slowly made their way through what had once been the hallway for a showy casino, old posters for dancing shows hanging in gold frames on the walls. The carpet was plush red, the walls were a cream color. This place looked nothing like a hospital. The six men wore black cargo pants and black shirts. Their hair was messy, their faces torn up. They carried swords, Archer’s preferred weapon. He was an expert shot, but preferred the graceful intricacies of swordplay to the swift, fast death from a bullet. His men were all trained in the art of swordplay, though he preferred the girl, Veronica, over everyone else. She was good, no doubt about that. This was all because he trained her better than everyone else. They were grunts, expendables. She wasn’t expendable. He liked her. Some suspected they were in love. Many figured she was just his bed buddy until the next girl came around and spread her legs for him.

They found the priest in a room toward the very back.

 

The six men could only enter the hospital room one at a time, the doorway too narrow for anything else. The first man entered and Gare was already up. He had left his sword on the transport, but was perfectly content with hand to hand combat against swordsmen.

The first man swung. Gare ducked, the man’s sword going over his head. Gare’s fist smashed into his assailants groin, doubling the man over. Gare stood and kicked the man in the chest, sending him back into the second man coming through the door. Lily was up and pulled a bowie knife from her boot. She threw it to Gare who plunged it into the first man’s chest. The man screamed as his heart bled out. Gare took his sword and cut him in half before he could bleed out. The second man was through the door and Gare parried his sword, backing toward Amy’s bed. She was waking and Lily was moving to protect her. Gare cursed as two more men entered the room and he was forced to parry three swords.

Two more men entered. Five to one.

Gare had nowhere to go. He threw aside his sword and put his hands in the air.

“You win.” He said. “Take me to Archer.”

Lily moved toward one of the men but Gare shook his head, and she automatically stopped. He smiled at her as the men started to haul him out of the room. “Let them take me. I’d suggest you don’t follow me either. I’ll get out.”

“Gare!” She cried as he was taken toward the hospital’s exit.

“I love you babe. Get Amy to her father and I’ll meet you back here. I promise.”

 

Zach Archer decided to put on a suit and tie for his meeting with Gare. Might as well look professional. He was the owner of the only operating casino in Las Vegas after all, he guessed he should give everyone the impression of a rich man. Not that anyone was particularly rich or poor in the Wastes, but he was able to pay for helicopters to bring in supplies from settlements on the east and west coast, as well as some from Japan. He smiled inwardly. The school girl outfit Veronica had came from a shipment from Japan. The katanas all of his men wielded had come from Japan as well.

He adjusted his tie in a mirror and nodded at his reflection.

“Master, the priest is here.”

“Good! Bring him in!” Zach had moved out of his main office and now sat in what amounted to the VIP section of the casino. Overlooking the slots and blackjack tables, it was the perfect vantage point to watch the thirty or forty people who had stopped here on a transport hoping to make a quick buck and support their family attempt to cheat his staff or steal from others. He had his men play the role of dealers and made sure that they took care of any problem makers in his facility. Sure the apocalypse had ravaged the world and all order had been lost, but not in his establishment. Everyone played by his rules,

Especially Gare Seymour. He’d broken the rules and had yet to pay a price for it. The VIP section had plush carpeting, fancy sofas, and a stereo system to die for. Zach had managed to get a hold of quite a few albums from various sources, his favorite being Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In lieu of that, the stereo was playing Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Zach sat on a sofa and put his feet onto a coffee table in front of it. He pulled a carton of cigarettes from his jacket and tapped one out, lighting it up and throwing the pack on the table.

Gare was escorted inside, his eyes red, his face a mess. He quite literally looked like hell. Zach figured that was what happened to a man who never settled down, who lived day to day making enough money to continue forward by raiding the pockets of the men he killed with his girlfriend. The people who knew the stories of the priest were few and far between these days. A couple hundred years back, Archer clearly remembered men entering his casino and speaking of a priest wearing tattered clothes, accompanied by a beautiful angel of a woman, who slaughtered whole bandit camps, destroyed whole villages, and killed anyone who dare oppose God. There were very few Christians anymore, their numbers slowly dwindled as cults spread throughout the world. The priesthood had only four or five members anymore. From what Zach understood none of them really knew each other. Zach knew that within larger settlements, such as Las Vegas, you could find a few Christians because that was where the priests focused their conversionary efforts. Zach had a niggling feeling, though, that converting people was not what Gare Seymour was in Las Vegas to do. He had a feeling even greater that Gare Seymour had never converted a single person in his entire time being a priest.

Two men trailed Gare inside who pointed him to a seat across from Zach. He took it and hunched over, his legs spread and his hands clasped in between them. He gave Zach a very long look. He was the same man Gare remembered, narcissistic and carrying a dumb grin on his face whenever he got his way. Right now, that dumb grin spread across his face doubly wide. He had Gare Seymour in a room, alone. He could exact his revenge if he did so wish.

“Can I bring you drinks?” Veronica entered the room. Gare’s escorts nodded and Zach did so as well.

“I believe we have scotch that I was saving for an occasion like this. If not, then sake will do fine. I know we have that in good supply.”

“Yes master,” Veronica left to the bar downstairs and left the four men alone. The escorts moved against the back wall, as far away from Gare and Zach as possible.

“You’ve trained her well. She’s like a pup.” Gare said. Zach nodded and used his foot to push the cigarette pack across the table to Gare. He shook his head. “I quit a long time ago.”

“You still drink I take it?” Zach asked.

“Occasionally.” Gare answered.

“And from what I recall you drank scotch?”

“Occasionally.”

“I also remember you enjoyed the company of women.”

“Occasionally.”

“Oh, don’t be such a spoil sport Gare. That girlfriend of yours, you spent quite a long time away from her before you got back together. You had a lot of un-Christian things about you. When’d you become a priest anyway? Was it after we last met?”

“I started learning the day after we met.”

“So how long were you away from Lily? A hundred years? You had a few flings didn’t you? Who was that girl you brought in with the strange colored hair, the one who clung to you and could kick the crap out of anything that tried to touch her? I remember you being quite infatuated with her.”

“I only spent twenty-five years here. How do you know about the other seventy-one that I wasn’t with Lily?”

“I’m sure you remember the Shadow. A hell of a girl. For the right price, she’ll sell you all the information you’d ever need. I asked about you back when you lived here and found out about you just a bit. Nothing before the apocalypse, but a lot about you and Lily reestablishing Boston and New York. Then she went out to kill bad guys and you decided you wanted out and you started travelling around alone and helping out smaller colonies. I guess you were mayor of New Orleans for a couple years. You met a few girls along the way but they either died of disease or got shot or were genuinely unlikeable when you got to really see their true colors. Then there was—God what was her name?”

“Claire?”

Zach smiled. “That’s right! You two were like peas in a pod, I really thought you’d marry her. But instead you decided to run off and become a priest, you meet up with Lily again, and suddenly you’re in love like you were a hundred years before.”

“I don’t believe any of this has anything to do with anything.” Gare said.

“Hey, no one is totally proud of their past. But now you’ve found God and I am sure he is treating you swell. You look good. Lily still looks good. Claire came by a few months back and she still looks as pretty as they come. She asked if I’ve seen you since you ripped me off and ran away and became a priest. Told her I haven’t, but I’d tell her if I did.”

“What’s she doing with herself now?”

“Well, she went to Japan to learn martial arts and apparently wanders, just like you.”

Gare nodded. Veronica entered the room and passed a glass of scotch on the rocks to everyone. She then sat down next to Zach.

“Girlfriend?” Gare asked.

“Yes!” Veronica kissed Zach on his cheek. “He loves me.”

Gare smiled. “Zach loves many women.”

“Shut up! You know nothing about master you bastard!”

“What do you want? This small talk is annoying me.” Gare downed his scotch and set the glass on the table. He shifted his feet and laid back. Zach yawned.

“You’re here because you owe me a lot of money. You stole from me and never gave back. If you give me double the money that you stole, I’ll let you go. If you do not, I’ll have nothing better to do with you than kill you. It’s not the most pleasant option, but it seems to be a good enough punishment.”

Gare stood and walked toward the glass wall that looked down on the casino. The escorts started to move forward.

“You stole that money in the first place. The games here are rigged. I don’t even understand the money considering most economies are based on trade. Money is meaningless paper to nearly every settlement.”

“The Japanese do so like money. Have you been to the east coast lately? They have become a money economy, they even have voted a governor of New England. There are many reasons I need money. In fact, I just bought a little piece of machinery with some money I collected. The military didn’t want to give it to me, but I eventually was able to convince them.”

Gare nodded. “Do you pray to God?”

“No. He is merely a figure of solace for some, a nuisance to others.”

“I would hope you and the girl will pray for God’s forgiveness.”

Veronica stood and pulled her katana from its sheath. She pointed it at Gare’s back and had a look of extreme anger on her face. Gare saw her reflection in the window and knew it was only a matter of moments before this heated young lady would try to kill him.

“Drop the sword kid. You don’t understand who you are challenging.”

“You [wagon]!” The girl ran at him, her sword over her head, prepared to cleave into Gare’s head.

“Stop you idiot! It’s what he wants!” Zach said, too late. Gare stepped aside as her sword fell downward, glancing off of the bulletproof glass. Gare’s foot lifted from the ground and crashed into the girl’s abdomen. She fell to the floor and looked like she was about to cry. The escorts ran forward. Gare sidestepped a punch and grabbed the man’s head, smashing it into the glass wall twice.

Gare threw the limp man aside and felt a fist impact his shoulder, sending him spinning ninety degrees. The escort tried to get Gare around the neck but Gare’s elbow met his nose, breaking it. The man screamed as blood coursed down his face from his crushed nostrils.

Gare stepped past Veronica and Zach merely watched as his enemy started for the door.

“You’ve [bleep]ed with the wrong people Seymour.” Zach flipped open a small compartment on the arm of his couch and pressed a big red button.

“We’ll see about that.” Gare opened the door and started down a set of stairs to the gambling tables and slot machines below. Men were streaming in from every side, blocking the priest in.

 

The Drake Industries building was nothing more than a burnt out husk. It was approaching three in the morning and there were no lights but the stars and the full moon to see from. Lily and Amy stood together in front of the building, Amy still wearing Gare’s jacket. She had woken during the tussle in her hospital room and immediately wanted to be taken to the safety and protection of her father. Lily could think of nothing else to do but oblige to the request, as Gare had told her to take Amy here.

There was nobody here though.

Drake Industries building used to be a very modern looking facility, but now it looked just like the ruins of every other building. Amy ran to the front doors and swung them open, her heels clacking against the tile floor as she ran toward her father. Lily followed behind, carrying her rifle slung over her shoulder and Gare’s sword strapped to her waist. She checked every darkened doorway for enemies, searched every dead end. It felt like a trap.

“Father!” Amy cried ahead and Lily ran to find her embracing what amounted to a jutting piece of debris about six foot in height that had fallen from the ceiling.

“Amy?” Lily scratched her head.

“Oh father, I missed you! Bandits attacked me! I was so scared! It was like when they attacked the facility and you told me to go to grandmas!” Her head nudged the debris. “But now I’m here and I’m so happy. I love you so much!”

Lily started to back away. She needed to find a security room. She’d leave Amy and the rock to talk about what had happened while they were apart. Lily wanted to know what the hell had happened to the facility.

She began her search for the security room.

 

The bandit leader smiled and nodded to his second in command who started pulling weapons from the back of his jeep and passed them out amongst the men. The priest’s girlfriend had taken the girl to Drake Industries and now they would get the girl and get their ransom from her estranged husband. First, they needed to kill the priest’s girlfriend though. Thankfully, they were the ones who had assaulted and destroyed Drake Industries, ultimately failing to get the girl and hold her ransom as they had intended. Her husband wanted his wife back. And he would pay any amount in order to get her back.

 

The cyclist stopped beside the casino and put the kickstand down. He was about thirty-five, his brown hair cropped short. He was blind in one eye. A sawed off shotgun was strapped to his thigh. He looked like a typical biker, all leather and studs.

He started into the casino, unaware of what was taking place inside.

 

“Tonight, we make history!” Zach announced to Veronica as he watched the fight below. “Gare Seymour will die tonight! The whole of the Wastes will respect me, I will be like a god to them!” He kissed Veronica sweetly. “He’ll pay for hurting you a thousand-fold.” The customers had run out of the doors at the first sign of violence and left just Gare and the men to themselves. Gare had no chance of winning. He was unarmed, and up against twenty men.


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