Renegade the Unicorn

Loyal Customers
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Renegade the Unicorn last won the day on July 19 2017

Renegade the Unicorn had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

852 Mild One

About Renegade the Unicorn

Contact Methods

  • AIM
    for the toilet next time! I had to clean off your pee! D:<
  • MSN
  • Website URL
    What you're reading right now.
  • ICQ
    ...Isn't that like the ER?
  • Yahoo
    is my homepage.
  • Jabber
    jaw gets no respect.
  • Skype
    is total crap.

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Pronoun
  • Interests



  • Location
    Singing the blues and walking the cow.
  • Favorite Episode
    Tea at the Treedome
  • Favorite Character

Recent Profile Visitors

18,794 profile views
  1. Spin-Off/Lit News and Announcements

    MR: MASKED RIDER After discussion with said user, I have decided @SenorCornholio will be my co-writer for this series.
  2. Ask IG

    Big G cereals?
  3. Ask the Kat

  4. New to SBC: the Community Mixtape (SUGGESTIONS WANTED)
  5. Power Rangers: Multiverse Force

    Heroes and Villains Two hours after the emergence of Alma Wade from the raging inferno, Blackhawk sat in the Command Center, looking at the other Rangers. He was silent, the only sound emanating from him being the quiet noise of a shell casing dancing between his fingers. “So, we failed the entire city.” Toby muttered. “Greeeeat.” “As if they didn't have enough reason to hate the Rangers…” Omnus sighed, his head in his hands. “At least Alma has been quiet since she left the burning facility. She seems to have disappeared.” “What are we going to do?” Naruto asked. “It isn’t like we can just track Alma down and fight her.” Omnus nodded in agreement. “For now, there isn't much we can do. I believe you all wish to address the elephant in the room, yes?” He asked, looking at Blackhawk. “Yeah.” Ebony said. “Just what exactly went on during your years as a gunslinger, Blackhawk?” “Must’ve been exciting, being a Bird With No Name.” Lettuce commented. “Exciting?” Blackhawk whispered. “You think being a gunslinger is exciting? All of my old friends and family are dead, except for my mother and brother.” Lettuce was taken aback, a look of shock and worry in his eyes. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Blackhawk nodded once, the closest he would come to accepting the apology. “My father, and his father, and his father’s father, were all gunslingers. You see, I was not born on Hawkia. I was born on All-World.” “And then at age six, you were somehow taken to the Warp by someone known as the ‘Night Master’.” Alpha continued. “Right?” “Yes and no. I spent several months in the Warp, but returned to All-World after I got out.” A pause. “It was during my time in the Warp when I first encountered the King. I assume, Omnus-sai, you know who I am talking about?” Omnus nodded in response. “The Crimson King…” muttered Alpha. Toby immediately began singing a tune to himself. “The gardener plants an evergreen Whilst trampling on a flower. I chase the wind of a prism ship To taste the sweet and sour. The pattern juggler lifts his hand; The orchestra begin; As slowly turns the grinding wheel In the court of the crimson king.” He finished, then grinned. “Love that album. It was my dad’s favorite.” Blackhawk turned his eye towards Starhawk, Usagi and Kras'hir. “You three, obviously, know what my mother is like.” “Yep.” Usagi said. “Why do you bring that up?” “Do you know why she is like that?” He asked. The question was rhetorical, but he knew she would answer, anyway. “An abusive childhood?” Usagi answered with a rhetorical question of her own. “I mentioned my father was a gunslinger.” Blackhawk began. “For countless generations, my family inhabited the city of Gilead. A beautiful, wondrous place, Gilead was. Alas, like all great cities, it eventually fell. Destroyed by the forces of the Good Man, John Farson.” Ebony snorted. “He doesn’t sound so good.” “Waitwaitwaitwait, hold up.” said Toby. “If your lineage comes from All-World, then why did your father Ace Little, and then his father, Buck, end up growing up in the Americana suburb that is Oakey Oaks?” “They did, yar.” Blackhawk replied, nodding. “Eventually, they were drawn back home. Drawn by ka.” Lettuce, like the immature young adult he was, began to snicker. “Ka...sounds like kaka.” Blackhawk didn't even smile. “Their decision to return was what got my father killed.” “Killed? By who?” Starhawk asked. “He died during the Fall of Gilead. The Good Man vaporized the city, killing most of the population instantly. My father wasn't so lucky. He was captured by the Good Man, and burned alive.” Blackhawk said this with absolutely no emotion whatsoever, as if he was discussing the weather. “I am sorry for your loss.” Starhawk said, pulling him into a comforting hug. He hugged her back. “Thankee.” He whispered after pulling away. He then turned back to the others. “You are all my friends, I hope you know that. But those I trained with...well, they ka-tet.” “What’s a ka-tet?” Usagi asked. “If you don’t mind me asking.” “Hmmm, how to explain?” Blackhawk said. “Well, ka is fate or destiny. Tet is a group of people with the same interests or goals. Ka-tet, then, roughly translates to ‘those bound together by destiny.’” “What language is that?” Lettuce asked. “It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard.” “That's because I am one of the two people alive who can still speak it. It is known as High Speech.” “Who’s the other?” “Roland.” Blackhawk replied. “However, we before discuss him and my other gunslinger friends, I will finish explaining the ka-tet concept. A ka-tet is something that can never be broken, save for by death or treason. And it is not only friends who make up the puzzle that is a ka-tet.” He gestured to Usagi. “You and Queen Beryl would be considered ka-tet.” “Really?” Usagi asked. “Me and...and her? We’re bonded by fate?” “Yar. You cannot tell me this comes as a surprise.” “It doesn’t. But what about us as a team? Are we all part of a ka-tet?” Blackhawk considered it. “I am uncertain. Ka is a murky thing.” Another pause. “We were speaking of my mother before. After my father perished, my mother...well, she kind of lost it.” “As if she wasn’t a bitch before…” Usagi muttered dryly. Blackhawk stood up, walked over to Usagi, and backhanded her without a word. “...I deserved that, didn’t I?” “Yes. By ‘lost it’, I mean she shut down for a few months. She wouldn't talk, barely ate, and barely slept. Even after she came back out of it, she wasn't the same.” “If my psychology is correct-and trust me, I know what I’m saying-then your mother’s just putting up a front. She’s still in denial.” Lettuce elaborated. Having a therapist mother had its perks, Blackhawk would note. “Ah, you're referring to the fact that she never says that he's dead.” Blackhawk replied. “You're right.” “I’m also talking about that haughty ‘I’m a winner’ bullshit.” Lettuce said. “Those trophies are all duds.” Blackhawk said bluntly. “All of them are either for events that never happened or were actually won by me or Coop.” “Ah, I see.” Lettuce said. “After Gilead was destroyed…” Alpha began. “That’s when you started traveling the multiverse, yes?” Blackhawk shook his head. “No. That was after...Jericho Hill.” “What’s Jericho Hill?” Starhawk asked. Blackhawk didn't answer for a moment. He could hear it in his mind. The rhythmic crack of gunfire. Men screaming. Roland bellowing as he lead the final charge against the forces of the Good Man. The enemy marching past him and Roland, the two of them having hidden amongst the dead to survive. “It was the last defiant stand of the gunslingers. A dozen of us in all against two thousand foes.” He remembered his father...oh dear God, his father...the Good Man’s soldiers had been carrying his burnt corpse, tied to a post. Charyou tree...Charyou tree...Charyou tree…, they had chanted, the Good Man, John Farson, laughing madly. He remembered the words of Cort, Don't do anything stupid now, maggot. We can avenge him, but not if you're dead. “When the battle was over, and all of us save for Roland and I were dead, the grounds were littered with bodies. We had made them pay, in blood, for every inch.” Blackhawk said. “Then you two went your separate ways.” Starhawk said. “At least, not immediately, I assume.” “This was nine years after the Fall. Roland was 25. I was six months younger than that. We parted about half a year after Jericho Hill. Both of us had been irreversibly changed by it, and the world had moved on.” “So, wait, you’re not 16?” Toby asked with an extremely weirded out look. “Ewww…” “He is,” Starhawk said. “But by our standards, not human ones. Hawkian years are about 9 of yours.” “...Aliens sure are odd.” Toby muttered. “So, technically, you're fucking someone who isn't even three, if you think about it.” Kras’hir said dryly. “Excuse me, but I need to go bleach my brain.” Toby said, walking into a bathroom and vomiting. Kras’hir snorted, turning to Blackhawk. “So, when you say the world ‘moved on’, what does that mean?” “Technology has broken down. Organized religion has broken down. Once great cities have fallen into ruin. Nations, once mighty and expanding, have been torn apart by war and famine. The last heroes have disappeared. Time no longer runs on a fixed wheel, and reality itself is coming apart. Sometimes, the All-World sun rises in the north and sets in the east.” “So, it’s like the Warp: nothing makes a lick of damned sense.” Lettuce said, as Toby returned. “What I wanna know is what this Crimson King is, and how he’s connected to you.” he said. “The Crimson King, from what I can gather, is linked to the Tower.” Blackhawk replied. “The Tower?” Lettuce, Toby, and Usagi asked. Pinkie said nothing, already knowing of the Tower from Discord. “The Tower is the center of creation. Held up by six Beams, it is connected to every world at once. The Crimson King wishes to destroy it.” Usagi’s eyes widened. “Is there anything we can do?” “The Tower was where Roland was headed. That was why he set off after the Man in Black. I don't know where he is now, or how much of what I know he has learned.” “So, this ‘Night Master’ guy…” Lettuce began. “Is he connected to the Crimson King?” “Yar. I don't know what his goals are, but I know he serves the King. You mentioned, Lettuce, that All-World is just like the Warp. It's not. All-World is worse.” “Worse? What can be worse than the Warp?” the penguin asked. “You see, long, long ago, the Great Old Ones ruled All-World. They weren't alien gods. They were men. They grew proud and mighty, replacing the magical Beams of the Tower with their own technology. Eventually, they fell, and fell hard, their civilization tearing itself apart in a cataclysmic war. Also known as The Old War, The Great Fire, or The Great Poisoning, it was a combination of biochemical, nuclear, and biological disasters that left the air, water, and soil toxic and led to widespread mutations of both animals, such as horses and wolves, as well as humans. They left their technology behind, much of which has still lasted to this day, even though the knowledge of it has been lost to time.” “How the hell were you able to live in that place?!” Lettuce asked. “My guns, wits, and training kept me alive. My martial arts didn't do me much good.” Blackhawk said, chuckling. “...Are you gonna tell us what life was like for you?” Pinkie guessed. “Let me tell you, first, about old Cort. You see, when a gunslinger wishes to earn their guns, they must challenge their mentor to a duel, using whatever weapon they wish to do so. I took on Cort with my martial arts.” Blackhawk replied. “Blackhawk says he was ‘barely hitting puberty’ when he did.” Ebony said. “At least, in terms of his years.” “The first punch, Cort caught. He snapped my wrist with one motion.” Blackhawk said. Everyone gave a wince. “T-then what?” Pinkie asked. “Did he hurt you more?” “He left me with three broken toes, four broken fingers, a snapped wrist, a dislocated shoulder, and a concussion, along with an artist’s gallery of cuts and bruises.” “And then he ‘sent you west’.” Ebony finished. “Exiled to the wastelands outside Gilead.” “Yar. I stole a pair of pistols before I left. I decided to learn the way of the gun on my own. It...didn't turn out like I thought it would, but Cort did end up training me.” “Which brings us to today’s story.” Ebony said like a female Rod Serling. Blackhawk leaned back in his chair. “Hmmm...there is one story I could tell. A story of myself and my ka-tet, after I learned the way of the gun. You see, we, myself, Roland, Cuthbert and Alain, were all fairly skilled gunslingers by that point. On this particular day, a hot, arid day, the four of us set out into the desert. We had heard from a traveling merchant about a band of mercenaries flying a peculiar sigil, raping, burning and pillaging as they traveled. This day would be the first encounter of many with the forces of the Good Man. It began, like many days did, with the march…” ------- 12 years earlier… ------- Roland slowly marched through the desert outside of Gilead, his face covered by the brownish cowboy hat atop his head. He was Caucasian, a male of indeterminate age, with pale blue gunslinger eyes and a face that looked like something out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. He wore typical wear for his place in society: white shirt overlaid with a brown longcoat, and rugged jeans stuffed into large boots. Around his belt were the twin sandalwood guns, emblazoned with the rose crest of his lineage, that of Arthur-Eld. Following him were the others of his tet: Cuthbert Allgood, Alain Johns, and Blackhawk Little. The lineage of Little were unusual in terms of Gilead’s inhabitants, as they were not human at all. In fact, no one could say just what they were, exactly, nor where they came from. All that was known was that they had lived in Gilead for many generations. Their tet of four had formed four years earlier, when they were boys in training, under the old gunslinger Cort. He had been a harsh, often sadistic mentor, but he had done his job well, and molded the four of them into skilled masters of the way of the gun. Despite the fact that none of them were older than sixteen, they all looked to be twice that age, due to growing up in the Hell that was All-World. “How much farther is this town we're headed to?” Blackhawk asked, taking a long drag from his hand-rolled cigarette, or poke. “Several more wheels.” Roland said. Wheels were about half a mile, or 1.5. Cuthbert, a dark-eyed and black-haired young man, chewed on some jerky. Alain drank from his waterskin. “The sooner we get to Hambry, the sooner we can grab a few drinks in the watering hole and sing ‘na, na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na-naaaa, hey Jude…” Cuthbert said through a mouthful of jerky. Roland snorted. “Typical Bert...always wanting to put fun and jokes before his duties. I swear, Blackhawk can be more relatable at times.” “Hey, Cuthbert?” Blackhawk asked. “How long’s it been since you threw that little jilly of yours a fuck, eh? The one that girl you're courtin’ doesn't know about?” Cuthbert snorted. “Says the one who isn’t courting any women.” “And what, exactly, is that supposed to mean?” Blackhawk replied, raising a brow. “I’m saying you need to get laid, bird boy.” Alain did a spit take, as if on reflex. Blackhawk, who was in front of him, promptly got soaked across the back. “Thankee, Alain.” He said dryly. “Apologies, Blackhawk-sai.” Alain said sheepishly. “What Bert said caught me off-guard.” “I don't see you telling Roland that.” Blackhawk said to Cuthbert. “He isn't exactly drowning in the affections of ladies, either....actually, I take that back. There aren't many Gilead girls who don't want to take him to bed.” “That is true.” Roland said. “But I feel no affection for them. I want to find a woman who truly loves me.” Blackhawk patted him on the shoulder. “You're into men, aren't you? That's okay. I won't condemn ya for that.” Roland glared at him. “Very funny.” From the tone of his voice, he was not amused. Blackhawk stepped away, raising his hands defensively. “I cry your pardon, Roland. I was merely making a joke.” Roland gave a nod. “Let us move on from that. We’re close to Hambry.” Cuthbert gave a sigh of relief, as did Alain. The road into town was mostly empty, save for a few merchants riding horse-drawn carts. The band of gunslingers drew a few weary gazes, but little more. The four of them, sent by Roland’s father to investigate the band of mercenaries known as the Big Coffin Hunters, who were rumored to have ties to a person known only as the Good Man, started their time in town by heading to the local tavern. They could hear the familiar chorus of Hey Jude being played on a piano, Roland slowly stepping in, followed by the rest of the tet. Typical Mejis cantina, with drunkards playing cards or trying to flirt with the girls who danced for them. One in particular caught Blackhawk’s eye: she was dressed in red, with skin the hue of bronze and dark locks that brought out her emerald eyes. Another, meanwhile, caught Roland’s: A girl around his height, with fair skin and blonde hair, wearing white. She was drinking at the bar, a glass cradled in her right hand. Roland sat next to her, ordering three burgers and a beer. The darker-skinned girl smiled at Blackhawk, while Cuthbert and Alain sat at further corners, the former requesting Hey Jude to be played once more. Blackhawk, returning the girl’s smile, beckoned her over. “Hello, handsome.” she greeted. “What an unusual sight I behold. A taheen gunslinger.” Roland, meanwhile, chewed on his burgers, taking a swig of beer every now and then. The girl in white sipped her drink, not saying anything. “I am Roland, son of Stephen. Who are you?” the gunslinger asked, trying to make conversation. By God, she was beautiful. “I am Susan. Long days and pleasant nights.” “And may you have twice the number.” Roland replied. “Who is that girl talking to my friend Blackhawk, son of Ace?” Maybe she was a close friend of Susan’s. It wouldn’t hurt to ask. “One of the dancers. I don't know their names.” Susan replied. “They don't come over to me, after all.” “And why not? You’re certainly attractive enough.” Roland was not exactly known for being subtle. “Do their barn doors not swing that way?” “Alas, they do not. Do yours, fair stranger?” Susan asked, her tone flirtatious. Roland was also not known to understand figures of speech. “No, I do not enjoy the company of men, if that’s what you wonder.” “I meant, are you attracted to ladies?” Susan asked. “I cry your pardon, fair lady Susan. I am attracted to ladies, and dare I say, I am attracted to thee.” Roland answered. The dancer girl, meanwhile, had begun to make small talk with Blackhawk. She had told him her name was Margarita, and that her father was the cantina’s owner. He ran it with his brothers Carl and Dennis, their cousin Michael, and their friend Al. Blackhawk had nodded when she finished, quite enjoying the special dance he was receiving. He made a mental note to pay her well when she was done. She was attracted to him, and did not waste time in subtlety. When she was done, Margarita grinned smugly. “Pay my fee.” she said in a mock-intimidating tone. “Oh, by the Man Jesus, what is a poor, helpless gunslinger like me to do in response to such demands?” He responded, before flicking a gold coin her way. It was one of the gold coins of Gilead, and was an extremely rare sight outside of the city. It was worth far, far more than what Margarita was paid by the day. She stared wide-eyed, then whispered, “This will pay for quite a few things. Papa teaches music lessons, Tio Carl’s pokes, Tio Dennis’ drinks…” “I am glad I could be of help to thee.” Blackhawk said. “Long days and pleasant nights to you, Blackhawk-sai.” “And may you have twice the number.” He replied, staring at her as she walked away. ------ “And just like that, I was in love.” Blackhawk said to the others. “It was that quick.” Toby and Ebony stared at him. “So, you were in love before us?” the former asked. “I’m not surprised at all, or disappointed, really. Just a bit off-put.” Blackhawk smiled sadly. “She was my first, and, if I'm honest with myself, only true love.” “I understand completely.” Toby said. “There’ll always be that one love that got away.” “Oh, she didn't get away. She died.” Blackhawk responded, chuckling bitterly. “I guess we, like Roland and his lady love Susan, were too happy for it to last…” ---- Roland had shared the last two burgers he had with Susan, Blackhawk having ordered a platter of popkins for himself. “He tends to eat a lot, and not gain an ounce.” Roland observed. Susan snorted, finishing her drink and ordering another. “So, what brings a band of gunslingers to this little town?” “We’re here on my father’s orders. Sightings of a band of mercenaries associated with the Good Man Farson.” Roland said, ordering three more burgers and another beer. If Susan was ordering another drink, why shouldn’t he do the same with his previous order? “Associated with the Good Man, you said? Ah, you must be after the Big Coffin Hunters.” “Yes, them. Who are they, and what is known?” As Susan replied, her voice dipped down into a whisper. “They came to town several months ago. They are supposed to enforce our laws. Instead, they intimidate and attack anyone they please, either robbing them blind, killing them in their beds...or both.” “Bastards. I and my ka-tet will track them down and they will pay for their crimes.” Roland promised. “I swear on the face of my father and in your name, lady Susan.” Another song by the piano player began, this one similar to yet different from Hey Jude: “Hey Jude Come on, Joe Don't make that sad song Any sadder than it already is Hey Jack Get back Get yourself together Come on, come on I know you're thinking of your nervous love I know exactly what you're thinking of Hey Cid No matter what you did It can work out Work out No matter how you feel right now Hey George Do your chores Don't feel sore I know it's a lot more than just being bored There's a heaven and there's a star for you There's a heaven and there's a star for you There's a heaven and there's a star for you…” Another song from before the world moved on, Roland observed. To him, it sounded rather childish, yet sad...but also hopeful. Like the one who had played it God-knew-how-many-years ago was trying to fling a light of hope to those who would come after he had passed on. Susan hummed along to the tune. “You know this song, Susan?” Roland asked. “I have never heard it, even in Gilead. And there are hundreds, if not thousands of old songs and rhymes I have heard there.” “I do, indeed. My father used to sing it to me sometimes.” She replied. “But what does it mean?” Roland asked. “...No matter, it is a song. I should not have to ‘overthink’ things, as Cuthbert often tells me I do.” “Sometimes, putting a lot of thought into the matter at hand is wise.” Susan said to reassure him. “Other times, you simply need to go with your gut.” “Like Blackhawk often does.” Roland snarked, looking at the gunslinger in question. He was chatting idly with the dark-skinned dancer Roland had yet to learn the name of. Susan snorted again. “There is a difference between going with your gut and being impulsive. I hope your friend is aware of that difference.” “Blackhawk is quick with his mind just as he is with his gun, yes.” Roland said. “Which gun, if I may ask?” Susan asked. Unfortunately, the innuendo went straight over Roland’s head. “Both of them.” Roland said bluntly. Or maybe it didn't, Susan thought, laughing. Roland cracked a smile, before embracing Susan. She pulled him close, before gently kissing him. Roland kissed her back, before pulling away. She smirked at him. “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” Roland questioned. “Are you planning on taking me to bed, handsome gunslinger?” “Yes.” he replied, smirking. “Then, by all means, let us go find a place that's warm and quiet to spend the night.” Susan responded. Roland inquired to the bartender if there was any rooms available. Carl nodded, before lighting a poke. The two of them rented a room for the night, and went to it together. ---- “OH, COME ON!” Ebony complained. “YOU’RE GONNA SKIP THE BEST PART?!” Toby snorted. “Typical Ebony.” “I actually know the song you described, Blackhawk.” Lettuce said. “Hey Joe by Daniel Johnston.” “Who the fuck is Daniel Johnston?” Ebony asked. “A singer-songwriter Kira introduced me to. Lo-fi Beatles-inspired indie pop. Firehawk would like him.” Lettuce said. “Anyway, I bring him up because you never told us how similar All-World was to Earth. Not Core Earth. Just Earth in general.” “It is very much the same, though also different. The Old Ones built a mighty empire ages ago...called the Imperium.” “Wait.” said Usagi. “Did you just say…?” “I think he did.” said Pinkie. “Not that Imperium.” Blackhawk said. “The Old Ones didn't expand nearly as far, and never encountered any alien species.” “Their Imperium was more like, say, a worldwide United States.” Alpha said. “Similar culture, companies…” “...but they grew proud, and the Great Cataclysm destroyed them.” Omnus finished. “And All-World moved on.” Blackhawk nodded. “As for why I skipped the ‘best part’, would be disrespectful to the memory of the girl Susan, who burned in a Charyou Tree while Roland could do naught but watch.” “Continue.” said Alpha. ----- The next day, the ka-tet began the investigation into the Big Coffin Hunters. Before that, however, Susan and Roland awoke in a warm bed together, holding each other close. Roland kissed her gently. “Good morning, Susan.” “Good morning, Roland. Thought last night was better.” She said, grinning a bit. “Agreed. You are a fantastic lover.” “Good.” Susan replied. “I am glad.” “I am as well.” Roland said. “Shall we get dressed and begin the day?” Susan nodded, rising and gathering her clothes. Roland silently redressed, rearmed himself, and exited. The others in his ka-tet met him outside. Cuthbert winked at him, and slapped him on the back. Alain said nothing, being his usual quiet self. Blackhawk smirked. “My, my, Susan is a bit of a screamer, isn't she?” “Yes, she is. I cannot say the same for Margarita.” Roland replied. “Oh, she didn't need to scream for me to know I was pleasuring her.” After Roland and Susan had left, Blackhawk had invited Margarita to have a few drinks with him. After that, one thing led to another, and they ended up in bed together. When they were finished, she held him close, snuggling into his feathers. He had kept her quite warm as she slept, she told him when they awoke. This pleased him greatly to hear. “Always stay with me.” she had whispered. “I will. Always.” He had whispered back to her. These words would haunt him for years after their tragic tale reached its end. “I love you.” “And I, you. Until the end.” She had kissed him before falling back asleep. When she awoke, he had left. Once the idle small talk about the previous night ceased, the four gunslingers began their search. “Where to, Ro?” Cuthbert asked. “Let’s check the Sheriff's office first.” Alain suggested. Roland nodded. “Yes. That would be the logical thing to do.” he said. “Avery might give us a lead.” And so, they headed to the Sheriff’s office. Upon entering, Blackhawk could almost smell how corrupt the place was. Sheriff Avery immediately struck him as an untrustworthy man. Roland had that same intuition, and asked forwardly, “Do you know anything about the Big Coffin Hunters?” In hindsight, the question was foolish, and would ultimately lead, in part, to the deaths of Susan and Margarita. Still, Roland had few options. Avery stroked his chin. “No, I cannot say I do.” He replied. “Do not lie.” Roland stated. “I won't be taken for a liar, boy.” Avery said. “I answered your question.” They left not long after. It was about twenty minutes later when Blackhawk realized they were being followed. Roland turned around. “Who goes there?” Four men stood not far from them. They were all dressed in black and grey clothing, wearing hats, coats and tall boots. “If you are wise, you'll be out of town by the time the sun sets.” one of the men said. “Sheriff Avery doesn't like boys like you asking questions, and he has powerful friends.” “Oh?” Cuthbert challenged. “What sorts of friends?” “Cuthbert, don’t…” Alain pleaded. “Cuthbert, do not challenge these men. As for you four, we will not leave until we finish business.” Roland said. Blackhawk saw one of the men moving his hand. Blackhawk was faster. A shot cracked, and a bullet tore through the man’s throat, his gun, half-drawn, clattering to the ground as he fell, clutching the bleeding wound. “Let that be a lesson to you, sai. No one interferes in gunslinger business. No. One.” He growled out, holstering his gun. The other men ran. “It seems there’s more to this town than meets the eye.” Roland observed. Blackhawk nodded in agreement. “Where should we head next?” Cuthbert asked. “Obviously, we’ll need to dig deeper.” “I’m not sure.” said Alain. “Ro? Black? Any ideas?” Blackhawk stroked his chin. “I think we should ask Susan what she knows. I think there is more to her…” ---- “...than we are aware of.’” Blackhawk finished, recounting what he had said at the time. “And by the holy Man Jesus, was I right about that.” “Man Jesus…” said Ebony. “As in Jesus Christ? He has another name in All-World?” “Yar.” Blackhawk replied, nodding. “As for Cuthbert challenging those men, he would have ignored Roland’s command if it came to it. He made his own decisions, always, and listened to few who commanded him. After all, a man chooses, a slave obeys…” ----- The four headed back into the cantina, Margarita waving at Blackhawk flirtatiously. Susan was gone. Blackhawk asked the bartender where she was. The man ignored him, his only response to spit in Blackhawk’s face. The gunslinger wiped the saliva off his cheek, before smiling dangerously. “Let's try that again, sai.” he said calmly, before grabbing the man’s arm and twisting hard enough to cause extreme pain. “Where. Is. Susan. Delgado?” “I...I don’t know.” “Don’t know,” growled Cuthbert, the humor gone from his eyes. “Or won’t tell?” Blackhawk grabbed the hand of the arm he had been twisting. He broke the thumb with a casual twist. “One down, nine to go, friend.” He said pleasantly. “Where is Susan?” Roland asked the bartender. “Do not lie.” “SHE WENT TO SEE THAT DAMNED WITCH!” The man shouted, his tone one of pain and terror. “A witch?” Cuthbert said. “What is her name?” “Rhea…” the man whispered. “Her name is Rhea…” That was when Margarita came forward. “I know of her. Allow me to guide you to where she dwells, if it do ya fine. It’s the least I can do.” “We would appreciate it immensely.” Alain said. “Thankee-sai.” ---- Blackhawk paused in his telling, staring at his hands for a moment. “I wish now we had declined her offer.” Toby hugged him, as did Ebony. “...We’re so sorry…” the latter whispered. “She was only trying to help.” “Help? Yes, she was. Trouble is, helping others on All-World tends to get you killed.” He replied, pulling away from them. “As old Cort aptly put it, ‘If ya stop to help every poor bastard who has lost his dog, the rats’ll be chewing on your bloodied corpse quick as spit, maggot.’” ---- Rhea lived on the outskirts of Hambry, in a small hut. She was an old woman, even older than Arthur-Eld, with pale skin, grey hair, and dressed in rather ratty pink robes. She sat in her hovel, looking intently at what resembled a pink glass ball, about the size of a grapefruit. It was known as Marelyn’s Grapefruit, and it was one of the thirteen Bends O’ The Rainbow, powerful magical artifacts containing the secrets of the 12 Guardians of the Dark Tower. It was said even the agents of the Crimson King were weary of crossing the Witch of Hambry, for she was older than Him. Far older. Susan sat in a half-rotted armchair facing Rhea. The girl wrung her hands nervously, waiting for the witch to finish whatever she was doing. Rhea stopped looking at the Grapefruit to attend to Susan, though it took all the willpower she had. She was going to check Susan’s ‘honesty’, or, to use a more simple word, her virginity, for Susan was promised to a very powerful man in Hambry. She was to be his gilly. ----- “Hold on a minute…” Lettuce interrupted with a...rather disgusted expression. “She was going to check Susan’s virginity? That’s wrong on way too many levels.” “No shit.” Blackhawk said bluntly, rolling and lighting a cigarette. “Susan had no choice in the matter. Her aunt Cordelia made the arrangement.” “If I may ask,” said Naruto. “Was ‘checking for honestly’ a common practice in the baronies?” “Yar.” Blackhawk said flatly. “Not in Gilead, though. Gilead girls were too spirited for that. My mother had someone try it on her at one point. She...didn't react well. And by that I mean she ripped out the throat of the poor woman. With her teeth.” “What’s a gilly?” Ebony asked. Like Blackhawk, she pronounced it with a hard j sound. “A mistress.” He replied simply. “Susan was to be his mistress.” “Even though she was in love with Roland?” Lettuce asked. “I swear, are all your stories about All-World messed up Westerns?” Blackhawk didn't laugh. He didn't even smile. Instead, his left eye twitched. “I'm sorry, Lettuce, that my stories aren't the entertaining adventures you thought they would be. You are hearing about my past. Try living it. Imagine if, say, you discovered Emperor Diabolica was fucking your mother, and beating her while he was at it. Could you live with that? Roland had to. It turned out one of the advisors to his father, Marten Broadcloak, was sleeping with his mother, Gabrielle. Roland swore to kill him, and challenged Cort, at age 14, to the duel that would end his time as a student, so he could get his guns. Imagine, say, if you, after seeing this hypothetical affair going on, you had to challenge Omnus to a duel to earn the weapons you needed to get your revenge. Could you do it? Hmmm? Could you?” Lettuce glared at him; it was the same glare Cuthbert had when he was serious. Ignoring the worry in Pinkie’s eyes to stare down the Hawkian, he answered flatly and gravely: “Yes.” Cort whispered to Blackhawk, Come now, maggot. Let me speak through your tongue, and teach these children something. Blackhawk agreed, and Cort took over. His former mentor looked around through sharp eyes, flexing leaner muscles than he had possessed in life. When he spoke, it was still clearly Blackhawk’s voice, and yet, not. It sounded much older and deeper, with a noticeable rasp. “Greetings to thee, maggots. I am the one who was known in life as Cort.” He said, grinning humorlessly. “Blackhawk here has allowed me to speak through him for a time, so here I am.” “I thought you were dead.” Lettuce said. “Oh, I am. I, or at least, part of me, lives inside Blackhawk’s head. There's a lot of company in here. He is haunted by the ghosts of those who he has lost.” Cort replied, walking around the room. He looked over each of the Rangers with a critical eye, snorting. “You’re not impressed?” Ebony asked. “Granted, we weren’t trained by a hardass like you, so I’m not surprised.” Cort grinned again. “If you were one of my students, girl, I would have made you bleed for that remark. I turned boys into men, not children into soldiers.” “We’re not soldiers. We’re superheroes. There’s a big difference.” “Aye? Care to educate this old gunslinger on what that is?” Cort asked. Ebony morphed into her Ranger suit, and grinned beneath her helmet. “Our job is to protect this city from evil, like you gunslingers had with your baronies. Then again, we have it easier. We just have to fight a weekly monster.” “Ebony, as your boyfriend, take my advice and shut the fuck up. You aren’t helping.” Toby said sharply. He had a gunslinger’s mind, Cort noted. But not a gunslinger’s training. This fact didn't stop Cort from striking him on the ear with a cuffed fist. “Speak when spoken to, maggot.” He snapped. “I'm here to teach you children something, not listen to petty lover’s quarrels.” “Y-yes, sai! I cry your pardon!” Toby responded. “This isn’t gonna be one of the tacky moral lessons we have to deal with, right?” Lettuce muttered under his breath. “Because I enjoy hearing about Blackhawk’s past more.” “You won't understand his story, little bird, unless you understand what being a gunslinger was truly like. You fight evil, you claim? None of you would know what evil truly is even if it came up and bit you on the ass.” Cort said. “I am a soldier, Cort.” Naruto said. “So with all respect to you, I have seen and done things no one my age should. I am a shinobi, my world’s gunslingers.” “You ever seen a city die, boy?” Cort asked. “Ever heard the screams of countless men, women and children as they are burned to ash and scattered to the wind? I have, when the Good Man came for Gilead. Those who burned were lucky. Many who made it out were mounted on spikes and paraded around, unable to die. The Good Man was evil, boy. Evil, sadistic, cruel, and merciless. He would have raped your lover right in front of you, skinned her, and made her body into clothes. And if you were fortunate, he would do it in that order.” Naruto’s face twisted into unbridled rage, and without thinking charged at Cort-in-Blackhawk’s-body. Cort sidestepped casually, letting Naruto charge into the wall like a raging bull. “What is your deal? You consider us pansies or something?” Usagi asked. “Yar.” Cort agreed. “While some of your past deeds are commendable, none of you are ready for what is coming.” “The Necrons? Yes, we aren’t prepared. Radiguet? No, we can handle him.” Usagi said. “He’s an almighty idiot with his ambitions of godhood.” “And what of the Crimson King?” Cort asked her. Immediately, the room felt a bit colder, as if the name had caused a dreadful shroud to settle over it. “How does He factor into this?” Starhawk asked. “Are you prepared to face Him? He will not set foot on this world-It is so far beneath His notice, you all might as well be ants-but He will attempt to destroy the Tower and usher in Discordia.” Several eyes fell on Pinkie, as that name reminded them of Discord, the ‘Spirit of Chaos’ on her world. Cort rolled his eyes. “I can guess what you are thinking, and no, Discordia has nothing to do with any chaos spirit. It is the state of chaos and anarchy all of reality will fall into if the Tower crumbles.” “It is not our duty to protect the Tower.” Starhawk said. “That is Roland’s, or so Blackhawk says.” “But it is.” Alpha said. “The Tower has manifestations on all worlds, but can only be physically entered in All-World.” “If the Tower falls-and the full might of the King and His agents are bent on ensuring it does-all of reality will shudder. Discordia will come, and anarchy will rip every world apart. Rape, murder, cannibalism, human sacrifice, and many worse things will occur on this world and every other. Time and space will shatter into fragments, and the King will rule over a fractured universe, seeking to reforge it as He wishes.” Omnus added. “Is there a manifestation of the Tower here on Core Earth?” Toby asked. “If there is, then we can be trained as gunslingers so that we may protect it.” “No.” Omnus said. “It is the destiny of Roland Deschain to carry out a quest to save the Tower. He is the gunslinger ka has chosen to save it. The King must not take notice of Core Earth, and He will if His agents catch wind of gunslingers being trained here. The manifestation of the Tower resides within the same vault the Emperor, Usagi’s Lord-Father, is seated in. He has kept it safe for a very long time.” “So, to put it bluntly, we can’t do jack shit.” Lettuce said. “For now, that is correct, at least when it comes to the Tower.” Omnus replied. “This is not to say we will be doing nothing to hamper the King, however. His agents here still carry out His will, and must be stopped.” That was when Cort gave control back to Blackhawk, who sat down, feeling a bit drained. “You OK, man?” Toby asked. “I will be.” He said, rolling and lighting another cigarette. “Just...give me a few minutes.” Toby backed away slowly. “Keeping my space.” “Sister?” Firehawk said, turning to Starhawk. “Can we talk for a minute? Alone?” “Of course.” The two of them got up, leaving the room. Firehawk went to a window, opening it, climbing out and flying to the roof. Starhawk followed her, looking out onto the horizon. Fires blazed in the distance, the flames lighting up the sky in shades of red and orange. “It is beautiful, yes?” “Yes.” Firehawk replied. “Of course, the cause of those fires isn't so beautiful, is it?” “Is that why you wish to talk?” “No.” her sister replied. “I wanted to talk about the Tower, and the Crimson King. Or, rather, how I would like to avoid the coming battle against His agents.” “I am listening.” Starhawk said. “I think you and I should be far away from here when the coming war begins.” Firehawk replied. “I know how these sorts of things end, sister dear.” “If it begins. The King isn’t aware of Core Earth, remember? And we intend to keep it that way.” “But His agents are. Some of them are already here, and all of them will do their best to carry out the will of their King. I don't wish for either of us to die, sister, so soon after our marriage.” “Neither do I, dear.” Starhawk whispered. “I love you, and I don’t want to ever leave you.” Firehawk pulled her sister close, kissing her head. Starhawk let out a soft purr, nuzzling into her sister’s chest. “I love you, sister.” Firehawk whispered. “Now, and forever.” “And a day.” Firehawk smiled, kissing Starhawk gently on the mouth. A few minutes later, the two of them returned to the others, holding hands and smiling. “Well, that must’ve been a pleasant talk.” Usagi observed. “It was, indeed.” Firehawk replied. “My, I only sensed a little bit of resentment in your tone. You're making progress, Blondie.” “Don’t call me Blondie.” Usagi insisted. “Yeah.” Lettuce agreed. “She much prefers Debbie Harry.” “...SHUT UP, LETTUCE!” “And let us not get into my names for her.” Kras’hir said. “Some of them aren't exactly...kid-friendly, I suppose you could say.” Usagi blushed hard, giving a small ‘ be quiet’ nudge. Kras’hir simply chuckled. “What is it, my dear? Embarrassed?” she asked. “Y-yes!” “I must say, you have the most adorable blush.” Kras’hir replied, continuing to grin. “Stooop! You’re embarrassing me!” Kras’hir knew this was true. She also knew her girlfriend was barely holding back a smile. She could see it. Usagi’s smile turned into a grin as she hugged the Daemoness. Kras’hir chuckled again, nuzzling Usagi. “I am so very lucky to have met you.” She said. “Me too, even if you embarrass me sometimes.” “You cannot say you don't love it.” Kras’hir responded. “I really can’t.” “Good.” Kras’hir said. “Because, like it or not, I will continue to do so, love.” Usagi giggled, kissing her. Kras’hir returned the kiss, holding Usagi close. Toby coughed awkwardly. “I don’t mean to interrupt, but…” “...Oh, sorry.” “I'm not sorry.” Kras’hir said bluntly. “Piss off, Toby.” “...We have more important things to worry about.” he said just as bluntly. “Like what?” she responded. “The Necrons? The Crimson King? Yeah, all of you seem reeeeeeeeeal worried. Is that why you're all sitting here and listening to Bird Man tell you a story?” “Just because we don’t share your cynicism doesn’t mean we aren’t worried.” “Really?” the Daemoness asked, snorting. “Well, forgive me for being cynical. Optimism has gotten a lot of people I've known killed. Or worse.” “...I’m an optimist.” Usagi whispered. “You won't get killed.” Kras’hir said flatly. “I'll butcher anyone who tries to hurt you.” Usagi nodded, kissing her. Kras’hir returned it, before sitting down, Usagi on her lap. Blackhawk looked at them, before going back to his tale. ---- Susan sat uncomfortably as the Witch of Hambry gazed at her, nervously wringing her hands and staring at her feet. She knew what Rhea intended to do, and she was scared, as Susan no longer had her ‘honesty.’ Rhea grinned at her, the teeth yellow and crooked. Susan stayed silent, doing her best to avoid eye contact. Rhea began the ritual of ‘checking her honesty’, but then immediately noticed something was off. Very off. Susan lacked a hymen, she realized, and she glared at the girl. “Who?” she whispered. “Who did you give your virginity to, girl?” Susan, terrified, could only whisper, “A gunslinger…” “A gunslinger, hmmm? You do know what must be done now that you have no honesty, yes?” “Charyou Tree...death to you, life to my crop…” “...Charyou Tree.” Rhea repeated. “You will be the sacrifice for the crop, dear Susan.” “...Go to Hell.” Susan whispered. “Go to Hell, you wretched fucking crone.” With that, she kicked a small table in front of her at the witch, who had sat back down. It was a brief distraction, but it worked, giving Susan time to flee. She ran headlong into the ka-tet and Margarita. Literally, it turned out, as she had managed to knock Roland flat on his back. “Hello, Susan.” Margarita greeted, trying to hide her urgency behind a casual tone. “She...she knows. Rhea knows.” Susan muttered. This meant nothing to the gunslingers, but she knew Margarita would understand. The girl’s eyes widened, and she whispered, “We must escape. Before you’re killed.” Her false casualness was dropped entirely, replaced with urgent panic, strengthened further by how hard she was pulling on Susan’s arm. “Would either of you be kind enough to tell us what is going on?” Blackhawk asked, his tone one of confusion. Susan explained the situation as quickly as she could, mentioning every major detail, including the arrangement that had been made regarding herself and the mayor. Roland looked her in the eyes, and whispered three words: “Come with us.” Alain and Cuthbert agreed. They couldn’t let an injustice like this be taken lying down. Susan couldn't help but smile. “I thank thee.” She said to Roland. “Now, we must go.” “Yes, before the witch comes for you.” They all ran away, heading for the Bad Grass outside of town. ---- “Wait, what's this Bad Grass you mentioned?” Kras’hir asked. “It's a field of tall, poisonous grass stalks, full of winding paths.” Blackhawk replied simply. “A good hiding place, all things considered.” “But then she found you guys, yar?” Toby asked. “No.” Blackhawk replied. “The Big Coffin Hunters did.” ---- The group of six ran through the maze that was the Bad Grass, looking for a place Susan could hide for the night. Eventually, they came across a house, made of wood, with red doors. Susan hurried inside, before collapsing on a couch in the sitting room, panting. Roland sat next to her, stroking her hair idly. Blackhawk kept watch by one of the windows, guns in hand. Cuthbert and Alain did the same, stationing themselves by two other windows. “I'm going to die…” Susan whispered, her tone one of quiet terror. “I'm going to be burnt as a sacrifice…” “No, you’re not.” Roland whispered gently. “I will see to it, my life be damned.” Susan leaned against him, relaxing a bit. Roland kissed her, holding her close to him. Susan closed her eyes, falling asleep on his arms. She was woken up soon after by voices. There was a rather spirited discussion going on, Susan gathered. She could hear the gunslingers, along with three men whose voices everyone in town knew: The Big Coffin Hunters. “Why are you here?” Roland inquired. “There is nothing of importance that you can seek.” “We're looking for a girl who goes by the name Susan Delgado.” one of the men said. He was tall and white-haired, with a handlebar mustache. He wore a long, black coat and trousers, along with a pair of boots. “Perhaps you boys have seen her?” “No.” Roland said bluntly. The white-haired man narrowed his eyes. “Don't lie to me, boy.” He said. “We know you're hiding her.” “He does not lie.” Blackhawk replied. “We have not seen her.” The man turned towards the two other men with him, nodding once. Immediately, chaos erupted, as the Big Coffin Hunters charged the house, the ka-tet of gunslingers opening fire on them. Susan, knowing that, at the moment, she was unable to fight back, ran to hide, dragging Margarita along with her. Unfortunately, Margarita was caught in the crossfire of bullets. Blackhawk could do nothing but watch as she fell, bleeding, to the floor. “No…” he whispered, hurrying to her side and kneeling. “No, no, no…” She coughed, blood spewing from her throat. Blackhawk, desperate, tried to stop the flow of blood, covering the wound with his hand. “Stay with me…” he said, tears in his eyes. “I can't lose you…please, stay with me...” “Heroes and villains…” she cursed. “Just see what you’ve done…” “Don't go…” he whispered pleadingly, helplessly. She looked so very pale now, the light in her eyes fading. “Don't go where I cannot follow…” “I love you, Blackhawk...I always will. But ka has made its decision.” Blackhawk could only hold her as she died. He listened to her final, shuddering breaths, before one last gasp escaped her, her body going still, her eyes going dark and shutting forever. ---- Blackhawk went silent, staring at the floor. No one said anything, too shocked to speak up. Even Kras’hir, who was very intimate with death, kept silent. Blackhawk didn't say a word, lighting yet another cigarette with shaky fingers. “I’m sorry for your loss.” Ebony finally said. “I can never replace her.” “You're right.” Blackhawk said flatly. “You can't.” “...Geez, say that even more flatly, why don’t you?” Blackhawk knew she was quite hurt by what he had said. He also knew he couldn't really bring himself to care. “I can try, if you like.” He said dryly, exhaling smoke. “...You’re an asshole sometimes, you know that?” “Yes.” He said, his tone unchanging. “I am aware.” Ebony glared at him, pouting as Toby comforted her. “See? At least Toby pays attention to me.” “Good for him.” Blackhawk spat. It was clear this hostility had been hidden, and building, for a while. “You two want a smoke break? I know how much you both love weed, so I wanted to make sure you can last the rest of my tale without dying from withdrawals.” “Shut the fuck up.” Ebony spat back. “And what if I don't?” He asked. “If you try to lunge at me, I should warn you that I can draw quicker than you'll be able to reach me. I won't shoot you dead, of course. A shoulder wound will hurt like hell, but you'll live.” “This will go no farther.” Omnus said firmly, in a tone that made it clear he wasn't going to debate the subject. “The last thing that is needed at the moment is members of this team being at each other’s throats.” “Yeah, the only thing I want in my throat is Toby’s-” Ebony began before Toby slapped her. “OW!” Blackhawk was silent once again, staring at his hands. “I hope, so sincerely hope, that none of you who are in love have to go through what I did. Cradling the one you love as they die in your arms is unspeakably painful.” Lettuce looked at him. “I hope I don’t.” “It will be worse for the ones who killed her.” Kras’hir said, holding Usagi close. Firehawk nodded in agreement. After another moment, Blackhawk said, “There is one thing I must say: The reason I am aware of Susan’s thoughts and actions that I could not have witnessed or known was quite simple. I will explain that soon. Now, returning to the tale, Margarita’s death wasn't the only terrible thing that occurred. In the chaos, the Big Coffin Hunters had managed to capture Susan, fleeing before anything could be done. Fortunately, we soon learned where they had taken her: The mayor’s residence. So, we split up: Roland and I went to confront the Witch of Hambry, while Cuthbert and Alain went to rescue Susan…” ------ Susan sat in a small, dark bedroom in the home of Hambry’s mayor. Her wrists were bound tightly with rope, and her face was bruised, as the three men who had taken her were forced to beat Susan into submission as they dragged her along, as the girl had been quite resistant. Now, she was alone, uncertain of what was to come. Thankfully, she wasn't completely defenseless: She had a gun in her dress sleeve, one that had once belonged to her father. The bullets for it were stored in various folds of her outfit, and, fortunately, hadn't been dislodged. Now, all she had to do was try and remove the rope. She did so by carefully pulling at it with her bound hands. Slowly, ever so slowly, the rope began to loosen. Susan was unaware of the two gunslingers coming to save her. As far as she knew, she was on her own, and acted accordingly. When Cuthbert and Alain did arrive, they were greeted by the sight of several dead guards, along with the periodic sounds of gunfire. “...Well.” Cuthbert observed. “Seems we’re late to the party.” “...Shut it, Bert.” Alain muttered. “It’s obvious Susan did not need our help.” She ran into them a few minutes later as she came around a corner in another part of the house. “Oh. Hello, Alain, Cuthbert.” “Hello, Susan-sai.” Alain greeted respectfully. “You would make an excellent gunslinger. That is, if the laws allowed it.” Susan nodded, grinning a bit. “I guess you boys came here to save me, yar?” “Yar.” Cuthbert said, grinning back. “But you don’t need saving now, obviously.” “Obviously not.” She said dryly, before shooting one of the mayor’s guards in the throat as he came around the corner behind her. She did this without turning around. Cuthbert gave an impressed whistle. “...Where did you learn the way of the gun?” “My father.” Susan replied. “He was never a proper gunslinger, but he taught me how to shoot, all the same.” “And you have earned our respect all the same.” Alain said. “We mustn’t dawdle now; we must return to Roland and Blackhawk.” Susan nodded, and they left. ------- Blackhawk paused, before snorting. “That old cunt wasn't there when Roland and I went to her hut. We found Maerlyn’s Grapefruit, but not Rhea. The Witch of Hambry wasn't home.” “Please tell me you didn’t take that damned crystal ball.” Alpha pleaded. Blackhawk looked at him. “Roland took it.” He said. “As far as I know, the Grapefruit remains intact, though I have no idea where it is now. After the Fall, well…” “...we can probably guess what happened.” Starhawk said. “Please, Blackhawk, continue.” ------ Susan, Cuthbert and Alain had made it to the edge of town when they heard it. A low, hysterical cackle, resounding through the air like a deathly omen. “We must tread carefully.” Alain said, arming himself. Cuthbert did the same. “Lest the witch cast a curse over us.” Susan armed herself as well, walking slowly and looking around. “What do you see?” Cuthbert whispered. “Anything important?” Susan looked again. She saw a nearby bush shifting, but it was too late. A bright light flashed, and everything went dark. When Susan woke again, her arms were bound behind her. She was tied to a makeshift stake resembling a tree. A Charyou Tree, she realized with dawning horror. She could see her aunt Cordelia standing at the front of the crowd gathered around her. “People of Hambry!” she proclaimed. “We are gathered here to offer a sacrifice so that our crop may be plentiful once more!” “CHARYOU TREE!” came the response. “DEATH TO YOU, LIFE FOR MY CROP!” Susan looked at the crowd, gazing at each face in turn. She was unafraid, her face completely devoid of terror or despair. “I hope you are content with what you choose to do here, Aunt Cordelia.” Susan said serenely. “My father will not be happy to see you when you finally die.” “Death to you, Susan should have been more honest for the mayor.” Cordelia said, striking a match and setting the Tree alight. The flames took their time creeping up the wood. Susan remained serene and unafraid, even when she began to burn. The fire slowly began to consume Susan, moving up the Charyou Tree and igniting her dress. She did not scream or cry. Even when her hair burst into flames, turning the blonde locks into a blazing orange, Susan said nothing. It was only when she could feel death close by that Susan finally spoke, her words soft and gentle. “Roland...I love thee.” Susan Delgado whispered, before the inferno devoured her completely. ---- “...Oh, dear God…” Usagi whispered, terrified. “At least she faced death honorably.” Blackhawk looked at her. “What honor is there in death?” He asked, bitterness in his tone. “Death is not honorable. Death is cruel and uncaring, blind and merciless. There is no honor to be found in death…” “She begs to differ.” Pinkie said, looking at Kras’hir. “He is not entirely wrong.” The Daemoness said. “Death itself is not honorable. Fighting and killing is where honor can be found.” “...That’s true.” Lettuce said. “Not helping.” Toby muttered. Blackhawk looked at him, raising a brow. “...Never mind.” “Anyway, continue.” Alpha said. “What more is there to say?” Blackhawk replied. “Roland was gutted by this loss, of course. That was the first time I'd ever seen him weep. We found the Witch of Hambry on the edge of town. She tried to cast a spell, but Roland was faster. He shot her in the head before she could say a single word.” “...That’s it?” Ebony asked, the hostilities flaring up once again. “THAT’S IT?!” “Um, Ebony? I don’t think you should be acting this way. Blackhawk just poured his heart and soul out to us…” Pinkie advised, though Ebony ignored her. The Hawkian gunslinger stared at Ebony, his gaze cold and hard. “I apologize, Ebony. Should I have brought popcorn? I wasn't aware this tale was so enthralling and entertaining for you.” Toby facepalmed. “Oh, sweet Arceus, here we go…” “IT’S A WESTERN! IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE ENTERTAINING!” Blackhawk said, his voice unchanged in volume, “It was not. I would know. After all, I lived it.” “...” Ebony glared at him. “...You still love her, don’t you?” “Yes.” Blackhawk responded. “...Why can’t you show that to me? I’m your girlfriend too.” Her tone was venomous; given her vampiric nature, she would have fed on Blackhawk then and there if she lost her temper. Blackhawk drew one of his guns, aiming it at her. “Try and feed from me, Ebony, and I will shoot you dead.” He said calmly. “As for why I don't show you the same amount of affection? Margarita wasn't a whore.” “...You take that back.” But it was not Ebony who said this. It was Toby. “No.” Blackhawk spat. “I will not.” “I said, take it back, Blackhawk Little of Gilead. She’s my girlfriend.” Toby replied, his voice low. “And you're welcome to her.” Blackhawk responded. “There are very few people who can give me orders, Toby. You are not one of them.” “...Calm the fuck down, both of you.” Usagi said. “I hate to enforce my position as leader, but I have to.” “Calm down?” Blackhawk replied, smiling serenely. “I am calm. It'll take a helluva a lot more than these two getting offended to make me upset.” “Good. You two,” she said, turning to Toby and Ebony. “Go get some air or something.” “Fine.” Ebony muttered, walking out. Toby followed her. “...As much as I want to agree with Ebony in how anticlimactic that was,” Lettuce began. “That’s probably not the end of your little tale, Blackhawk.” “Yeah.” Naruto agreed. “What happened to the Big Coffin Hunters?” “Oh, those three men weren't a problem for long.” Blackhawk replied. “You see, there were three Hunters: Eldred Jonas, Roy Depape and Clay Reynolds. The former two are dead. Roland and Cuthbert saw to that.” ---- It was not long after Susan Delgado was, for lack of a better phrase, sentenced to death by Charyou Tree that Roland and Cuthbert confronted two of the Hunters. Now, in any other western, this would have been the climactic showdown between the heroes and villains. (just see what you’ve done) But this was not a western as the Rangers knew it. This was All-World. This shootout was bloody and short. Cuthbert had two of his fingers blown off. Roland took three shots to the stomach and left hip. Eldred Jonas ended up with a round in each eye, a third piercing his throat, causing him to choke on his own blood. Roy Depape was killed by Cuthbert, who shot him several times in the groin, gut and chest. When all was said and done, the two young men were still alive, yet bleeding out from their wounds. “Come on, Ro.” Cuthbert said, his voice low and hoarse. “Let’s get healed up.” “Right.” Roland said, and the two best friends went, hands on each others’ shoulders, to the local doctors’ office. ------ “After they got their wounds treated, the four of us returned to Gilead.” Blackhawk said. “At least, for a short time. Then, Roland and I traveled back to Hambry...and avenged Susan. Not a single soul survived, save for the children.” “...Oh, dear even killed Margarita’s family?” Usagi asked. “Why them?” “They did nothing when Susan was burned.” He responded. “In fact, they were among those chanting as she was burned. They got what they deserved.” “...You are one jaded and cynical bastard.” Usagi said dryly. “No offense.” “You would be too if you had to grow up in the same place I did.” He replied, shrugging. “All-World is not kind to the weak and naive.” “...Is your power to know stuff you haven’t seen like Pinkie’s fourth wall breaking?” All but Pinkie herself stared at Lettuce, who had spoken. “...What?” Naruto asked. “Never mind, that’s not important now.” Pinkie said, brushing it off. “But how do you do that? Knowing what others are doing exactly when you’re in another place?” “Because they all live inside my mind.” Blackhawk said. “Cort, Cuthbert, Susan, Alain, Margarita...they all live in my head, and I can see all their memories and experiences. That is how Cort spoke to you.” He paused, then spoke again, his voice that of a woman, “How I can speak to you. My name is Susan. It's nice to meet all of you.” “Nice to meet you too!” Pinkie said. “I wish I could give you a big welcome hug, but you’re well, a voice.” “Long days and pleasant nights to you.” Naruto said. “And may you have twice the number.” Susan replied, bowing ‘her’ head. “We don’t think any less of Blackhawk after hearing what he’s been through.” Usagi said. “In fact we see him as even more than just a friend and teammate. He’s family. And, maybe, even part of our ka-tet.” “Yeah.” Lettuce agreed. “He and Naruto may still not get along at times-” “HEY!” “-but that doesn’t mean Blackhawk’s any less of a Ranger to us. Because Power Rangers and gunslingers have one thing in common: they help each other in the worst of times.” “Well said, Saladleaf.” Naruto said, grinning. Susan could only smile sadly. “I admire your strength, Rangers.” She said. “Truly, I do. But it may not be enough to stop the coming storm. Dark forces are converging on this world, and I cannot say whether any of us will survive.” “...It may not be enough, you’re right.” Usagi said. “But we’ll fight back or die trying, come hell or high water.” Susan nodded, before Blackhawk took control again. He inhaled and exhaled a few times, before leaning back in his chair. “...Roland ended up shooting his own mother, you know.” He said sadly. “You mentioned it earlier.” Lettuce said. “I’m not gonna ask.” “He was tricked.” Blackhawk said. “That damned Grapefruit fooled him into thinking the Witch of Hambry was on her way to Gilead. Roland, paranoid and angry, mistook his mother for Rhea, and ended up shooting her dead.” “...I said I didn’t want to know!” Lettuce said, his voice near-breaking. “I'm not telling this story for your benefit, Lettuce.” Blackhawk replied. “I'm telling it for myself, so that I may finally have some peace.” “I know, man. Believe me, I know…” Blackhawk took a shake breath, before standing up. “I need some air.” With that, he left the room. He found Ebony feeding off Toby, the latter holding her close and stroking her hair. Blackhawk promptly turned around, trying to leave without them noticing him. They didn’t, thankfully. Good. Blackhawk wasn't in any mood to have the two of them ganging up on him. The fact that they were both naked would have made things even more awkward. Blackhawk, after a minute of debating, went home to see his mother. Hopefully, despite their differences, they would see eye-to-eye this time. He did not always get along with her, but he also pitied his mother. She was broken, just like him. Blackhawk knocked on the door of the apartment she and his brother were staying in, waiting. Coop answered. “Hey, bro. What’s up?” “Is mom going to try and kill me if I come in?” Blackhawk asked, casually cleaning one of his guns. “...Dude, is that…?” Coop whispered, his tone having slight panic. “If Mom sees that, then she’ll definitely kill you!” He took a deep breath, trying desperately to calm himself down. “Oh, good. That'll spice up my evening.” Blackhawk said dryly, holstering the gun and entering the apartment. He would notice that, much like Alphys and Undynes’ old apartment, it was bigger on the inside. How odd. His mother sat in her bedroom, casually channel surfing and eating cheese puffs. “The Prodigal Son has returned.” she said half-dryly, making it clear she was glad to see him nonetheless. Blackhawk had learned that his family spoke almost nothing but dry sarcasm and dark humor, so his mother’s snarky tone was expected. He sat down next to her, removing his coat and draping it on the bed behind him. “...Are those your father’s guns?” she whispered fiercely. “We swore as a family to never speak of Gilead ever again.” “My father’s guns? No, they're my guns. I dueled Cort for them, remember?” “Even still, we swore never to talk about that damned land of milk and honey again.” she said. “Get rid of them. Now.” “You're not the only one who has suffered, you know.” Blackhawk replied. “I loved him, too, but he's gone. You can't bury that forever.” Immediately, she began to cry. She, the seemingly infallible Abigail Little, actually began to cry. “I know I can’t, but what do you want me to do?” she asked him. “You boys are the only pieces of him I have left.” “I know, mom. I know.” He whispered, pulling her into a hug. “I love you, Blackhawk. I always will. Because no matter what, you and Coop will always be my winners.” He smiled softly, wiping the tears from her cheeks. “And no matter what...I’ll remember you as a crazy woman who bit off a man’s balls for trying to force himself on you.” “...They tasted terrible.” she chuckled. “Too salty for my liking.” “Oh, my God.” Blackhawk snorted, laughing as well. “Please, don't talk to me about how balls taste again.” “Oh, why not? You should know from that Toby you like to see.” Immediately, she saw Blackhawk’s expression change. “Was it something I said?” “I'm not overly fond of Toby at the moment.” Blackhawk responded, sighing. “What happened? Talk to me.” she said, her tone concerned. He did, telling his mother about all of the drama involving Toby and Ebony. “...Shoulda guessed. Told you I was right about that girl. Want my advice, Blackhawk? Break up with her. She’s going to act like a self-centered whore, then treat her that way.” Blackhawk nodded. “I've given her more chances than she deserves to change. I'm done.” “Good.” Margarita’s voice echoed in his head. “But what about Toby? He’s the innocent party being dragged into your quarrel.” ‘He's devoted to her. He isn't going to abandon Ebony. He also said nothing when she complained about my tale like it was some sloppily written Western. He can have her. I'm done.’ “Again, that is good. Besides, you and I can’t be separated.” ‘No, I suppose we can't.’ “I love you, mi querido.” Blackhawk was fluent in Spanish: she had called him ‘my dear’. ‘And I, you. Now, and forever.’ He said, feeling her withdraw back into his mind. He spent quality time with his mother for a while longer, then went into what served for now as his bedroom. He spent his time in there cleaning his guns. Normally when doing a task like this, he would have listened to some music; generally, it would have been something like Elton John or Michael Jackson. Not this time, however. He needed to be attentive and focused entirely on his guns. As he did, he muttered the Gunslinger’s Creed repeatedly, which made the time go faster. Once he finished, he decided to text Toby. As much as he disliked him at the moment, how else was he going to get the message across? With a sigh, he took out his phone and texted Toby. At this point, Toby and Ebony were lying in one of the Command Center’s many, many spare bedrooms, having decided to engage in some carnal pleasures after the latter had finished feeding on Toby. Tiredly, Toby reached for his phone as it started to buzz, but Ebony was much quicker. “Oh.” she muttered irritably. “It’s from Blackhawk.” “Really?” What’s it say?” “He’s breaking up with me. Again. And this time, he says it’s permanent.” She didn’t sound upset, angry, or generally concerned, which Toby immediately noticed. “He also says you can have me all to yourself.” “Huh. You don’t seem all too bothered about it.” Toby replied. “I’m not.” Ebony said flatly. “Why should I date someone who doesn’t like me for who I am? Besides, the only reason I didn’t break up with him is because he was good in bed.” “Hey…” Toby said, displeased at his own manhood being compared to Blackhawk’s. Ebony giggled, wrapping her arms around him. “Don’t worry, you’re not gonna get compared to Blackhawk anytime soon. Wanna know why?” “Surprise me.” “Because we’re a team. It’s you and me against the world, babe.” Ebony said, kissing him. “And nothing, I mean nothing, is gonna change that.” Toby snuggled into her, and they made love once again before falling asleep.
  6. Ask the Great Aya anything

    I swear, TBC is so hard to keep track of because you post it in each others' threads?
  7. What'cha Listening To?

    Numb - Linkin Park
  8. What'cha Listening To?

    About a Girl - Nirvana

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Hayden


      The status quo has not been disturbed

    3. 4EverGreen



    4. Wumbo


      I don't.

  10. Ask Renegade

    hump de bump
  11. What'cha Listening To?

    Ain't No Rest For the Triggered - Chris Ray Gun
  12. Ask Me Anything (Spin-Off Edition)

    What are your thoughts on MOTWs?
  13. Ask Me Anything (Spin-Off Edition)

    So, in that case, what would suggest I do with the remaining 23 episodes of MR: Masked Rider season 1, if they're gonna be filler (because let's face it, they most likely are)?
  14. Ask Me Anything (Spin-Off Edition)

    Yeah, I even know how to plan out filler! XD Speaking of filler, how you willingly done anything of the sort when ideas are spent?
Doubloons: $2,856

Red 1
Baseball Glove 1
SBC Music Hat An exclusive hat for your iFish character to celebrate SBC Music 2.0's release!1
Silver Bell An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Reindeer Hat An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Holiday Gary An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Holiday Patrick An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Chocolate Krabby Patty An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Chocolate Dollar An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Chocolate Spatula An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Chocolate Jellyfish An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2016.1
Skodwarde Badge An exclusive item given to whoever purchases it from the Prize Store at Spin-Off Festival 6. This item is proof the user bought it.1
Jingle Bell Hat 1
Holiday Scarf 1
Winter SpongeBob An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2017.1
Santa Claus An exclusive item given out during 12 Days of Christmas at Snowcember Ball 2017.1
Chocolate Flower 1
Chocolate Karate Glove 1
Chocolate Snail 1
Trump Hat Make America Great Again!1
Orange Double Neck Guitar 1
Wheel of Fortune T-Shirt 1
Blue Sunglasses 1
  • Profile Music