“Long time no see, boys. I appreciate the exercise; your targets weren’t half bad.” I sneered as I picked myself off the ground, but another of that horrible sound entered my ears.
Buster was blowing the damn whistle again, and Jade and Illusion nearly fell of their horses in pain while the others were confused. But not me, I used my psychic to take it from his paws and crushed it in my hand. They were about to say something, but my death glare shut them up.
“Now, why are you here? Getting tired of trying to beat us to the money wagons so you wanted to set a trap for us and wait for who knows how long? Just hoping we’ll pass here?” I asked as I tossed aside the broken pieces.
“I was actually expecting someone else, but seeing you here even better.” Jaxson answered, “A blasted houndoom and ursaring burned our hideout to the ground and stole all of our “earnings”. But they also stole something else…and I know you had something to do with it.” He snarled, but I can see it in his eyes that something startled him.
“What are you talking about, you two-faced jackass?” Blade asked, rolling her eyes.
“Oh, you need a reminder, eh? Buster, show them.” he said to his “friend”.
Buster held out his paw and smacked himself on the back of his head to pop out a glass eye out of his right socket. It landed square in his paw and he looked at me angrier than a bull with a red veil over its head. “In case you “forgot”, you wretch. You ordered your guys to take my gorgeous eye after I had to teach someone a lesson. And before your henchmen escaped, I heard they were talking about passing dead man’s trail which is just beyond here. But you triggered our trap instead.”
“But that wasn’t enough, your guys took my gold tooth.” He hissed, his voice was a little slurred but not to the point of sounding like a drunk man. If anything, I barely noticed at first. “They nearly killed us until my men came just in time. If you have one decent bone in you, I suggest you give them back. It’s the least you can do since you slaughtered my wife and kid. Or you would you like us to shoot you down? We would happily oblige.” The twisted snake added.
A while back, I was trying to get away from crazy folks because I stole some medicine for Jade when she became too sick to move. My wife was practically dying right in front me. I didn’t want to take any chances, so I had to do it myself while my personal idiots watched her. And in my narrow escape, I threw some dynamite behind me to blow them away.
Though the first stick I threw missed them completely, and ended up landing in Jaxson’s family’s stagecoach who just happened to be passing by and well….you get the idea. It caused a rock slide from the sound and it scared them off. But Jaxson wanted nothing more than my head on a silver platter since that day, and I couldn’t blame him. But like the old saying goes: you can’t save a life without losing another. Or more in this case.
“Now, hold on one moment!” Jade growled, hopping off her horse and stood right beside me, “She never intended that to happen, it was all an accident. You’re not the first one to lose someone, so get over it! And most importantly, she may have done things before but never to the point of stealing things from your pathetic bodies.”
“I highly doubt --” Buster started but she grabbed him by his tie and brought him closer so they could see eye to eye.
“Look into my eyes, even someone like you can tell when someone is lying.” She said to him softly but in a threatening tone. “Tell me, am I fibbing?”
His men readied their guns when the smoke finally cleared, and my gang was ready to go guns glazing again. But all there was, was a moment of silence.
“She’s telling the truth.” Buster said finally.
“But--” Jaxson began but Buster interrupted him.
“They didn’t do it.” He said, and his men lowered their guns. Even Jaxson cooled down a bit. Buster and him are like brothers so if one says something its ok, it’s ok to the other.
Jade pushed him away and became more composed, “Now, we may have an idea who really took you’re your parts. They call themselves the “bone brothers” and they wanted us gone as well. They have been turning the west upside down as far as we heard.”
“I guess that’ll explain the supply shortages when our men tried to “borrow” some medicine from that town in Menace gulch. Guys said it looked like someone shot up the place with machine guns.” The bitter snake said.
Buster pondering about it, and he got an idea. “Look, how about a little deal? We can get you even with that twisted gang if you help us get our parts in return. After that, we’ll go back to our old ways.” He said to us.
“What?!” the girls asked in shock.
Jaxson shot a glare at him as if he wanted to rip his head off for suggesting it. He and him quietly argued until Jade interrupted them.
“You want our help?” Jade asked, surprised.
“Do we have a deal or not?” Jaxson growled impatiently.
If this new gang really was as twisted as we thought they are, then we’ll need all the help we can get to take back what belongs to me and Jade. So a truce will do, for now.
“Alright, we’ll take you up on that offer. If you give us little something to seal our temporary truce.” I replied, holding out my hand greedily.
Jaxson rolled his eyes and motioned Buster to toss a bag and it landed in my paws.
Me and Jade checked it contents to see it was filled with cash. And surprisingly, they weren’t stingy with the priceless jewerly. “Consider us pals, for the time being.” Jade said.
“But those parts better still be in good shape when we find it. Because we expect it to be right where it was, understand?” Buster said, poking my chest.
“Don’t get your big boy pants in a bunch,” I said as I pushed his chubby finger off me, “I doubt they’ll just treat it like yesterday’s corn bread.”
After some more talking, we told them where we were going. And they certainly didn’t want to ride with us because of the sheriff. Which I was thankful for. Because I don’t think I can stomach seeing his ugly mug in my face for the whole ride. And a smaller group will be better anyway. So, they told us that they’ll meet us there since they’re better at traveling underground.
As me and the gals traveled day after day, we began to see of how damage our new rival gang has done. Some of the towns we saw, I had seen twisters that didn’t do that much damage. And ranches and farms were foreclosed.
We even saw a carriage graveyard that certainly was not there before, according to some wild pokemon who were kind enough to explain. They told us that everyone who passed there had their turn of being jumped by those ruthless pokemon. We asked them what they look like, but no one could recall or wanted to remember. But one thing we do know, is that they didn’t steal Jaxson’s tooth or Buster’s eye for kicks and giggles. When I get my hands on them, I can guarantee I will send their souls to hell before they do the same to us.
“Can’t be far now.” I said over my shoulder.
After checking the map for the hundredth time because Jade didn’t want my pride to get in the way, Suntelo city was practically right around the corner. The only positive about this whole thing, is that most of the low-lifes other than Jaxson and Buster were too busy worrying about their own skins to bother us.
“I can hardly wait; a giant cold drink sounds good about now.” Jade said as she tried to drink the last of the water from the container, only to be welcomed by nothing.
I reached into one of my saddle bags and handed her my own water container that had some water left. Those things go faster than you would think. “Here, you can have mine until we can refill it.”
Jade leaned off her horse a little and gave me a small kiss, “Thanks, hon.”
“I’m not going to let my wife dry up like a water hole on a hot day.” I replied with a smile. But then I sensed something that wiped that smile off my face.
“What’s wrong?” She asked me.
“We have to get some shelter, it’s a dust storm!” I warned. Dust storms are usually not that bad, but the one that was coming for us was as deadly as a twister. If we stayed in that spot, let’s just say it won’t be pretty.
“Let’s go, now!” Jade ordered them and we booked it.
Our horses were as quick as lightning and the adrenaline was as high as a stray bullet. Boy, there was nothing like racing against Mother Nature. But there was one tiny problem; we were in skull valley, which is mostly flat land with hardly anything to take cover with! But that was until we spotted something. A rickety old house with a barn was just a few yards away that was almost hidden by some cactuses. If it stayed up for this long, it may just work.
“Quick, to the houses if you don’t want your hides blown off of ya’ll!” I alerted them, and Ebony used her knife for a tail to cut down what was blocking our means of shelter.
Thankfully, the doors weren’t locked. So were able to get our horses inside the barn and invited ourselves in the house with the saddle bags we brought. We got a few scraps and burns but nothing serious.
“That was close.” Storm muttered as she slided against the wall and plopped onto the floor.
As the girls took a moment to relax, me and Jade took a good look at our temporary living arrangements. It had all the necessities: a kitchen, a furnished living room, a bathroom, and what seemed to be multiple bedrooms. Although there were a few cracks where the sand leaked in, it was homey for as run down as it was.
“It’s not a fancy motel, but it’ll have to do.” I said a bit jokingly as I took off my hat to get some sand out of my ear.
“We might as well check to see if some of the stuff in the kitchen is still usable so we can make ourselves something to eat.” Jade said and gave the cooking supplies to Blade. “Well, get moving.”
The haxorus immediately got up and did what she was told without a complaint. For as strong as Blade was, she can make a mean meal when my wife didn’t feel like cooking. The oven and burners were old but surprisingly still worked so supper was on the way.
As we began to settle in, we heard a sound and it wasn’t from Blade. It sounded like, scurrying. We certainly were not alone. So me and Jade with the rest of the gang to check out the house. Half of us went to check the downstairs, while the others checked the upstairs. Each room had a layer of dust and sand with old furniture. But when I looked under the bed in one of them, I came across a little surprise.
“Um, Jade, I think you need to see this.” I called out to her.
“What is it?” She asked she came from another room. She kneeled down beside me and looked under the bed, “Well, I’ll be…”
Sleeping there was a little sandile, and she looked like she hatched for a while now because of the egg pieces scattered about. Though, she looked like she didn’t eat anything for days. We had a guess that it was a girl because of the pink bow around her neck.
“If this little one is here, then where is…?” I asked, and then we both had the same idea.
Say what you want about an ursaring or a kangaskhan, but never ever mess with a mama krookodile or her baby. You’ll be lucky if your body will still be recognized after she’s done with you.
“On no…” we both muttered.
We ran out of the room and I called out to the others, “Hey, morons!”
“What happened?” Illusion asked from upstairs rails.
“What’s the matter, boss?” Storm asked beside her and let out a sneeze from the dust.
“What’d you find?” Ebony asked as she came out of a room right next to us.
“We got a sandile over here; you didn’t find her mother did you?” Jade asked them urgently.
“We didn’t see nothing, boss. All there was were old dusty furniture.” Illusion replied. “And besides, if we did find her, our guts would be the new wallpaper by now.”
“Uh, what she said.” Ebony said.
Then I heard something scurrying and looked down to see the sandile, just staring at me. She was probably drawn out by the smell of the dinner Blade was cooking. But she also seemed curious about us.
“Then we will have to make do.” I muttered. Other than being underfed, there wasn’t much wrong with her. So she must’ve been was cared for until something happened to her mother.
“But what are we going to do with her?” Jade asked, pointing to the sandile. “We can’t just leave her here. She’s just a baby.”
“I guess you’re right, but then we would have to be extra careful when we take her with us.” I said as I picked up the baby sandile. She squirmed and even tried to bite me. When she realized I didn’t let go, she shot me with her own “death glare”. For such a little thing, she had some spunk in her. A fighter. I couldn’t help but crack a smile.
“So, we’re still going to Suntelo even with the sandile?” Storm asked as she came down from upstairs.
“If we go home now, the long way back will only kill her in her condition. So that means we have to go to the city refill in some supplies.” Jade explained as she took her turn in holding the baby in her arms. The sandile didn’t mind it much once she got used to being held.
“And the bone brothers?” Ebony asked.
Jade and I looked at each other for a moment, “We’ll figure that out when we get there.” I replied.
“But won’t she just slow us down? She’ll get us killed.” Illusion asked as she approached the baby and poked at her. The little sandile let out a growl and clamped her jaws onto her finger. “OW! Get her off! Get her off!” She pulled and pulled but the sandile would not let go.
It took about a minute to pry her mouth open just enough for Illusion to get her finger out of there.
“Next time I’ll let her take your finger off.” I threatened.
Illusion merely grumbled something as she held her bloody finger.
“I think I'm going to like this kid,” Ebony muttered with a smirk and Storm tried to hold in her laugh.
“So, this means we’re having a family, huh?” Jade asked as she held the baby closer but careful not to smother her.
“I…I suppose so,” I said nervously as a scratched the back of my neck. We never planned on having a kid, but if we didn’t take care of her then she’ll die. Even I’m not that heartless to just leave her. Heh, two outlaws becoming parents? Who would’ve thunk it?
“I know this is as crazy as a vigoroth with its tail on fire, but I-I think we can be good mothers. At least she’s not one of those human babies that some folks refer as “leeches”. I’m sure she’ll be a little darling. And who knows? Maybe she’ll take over the family business one day,” Jade tried to reassure me, but I can tell she was a bit nervous too. “Now, what should we name her?”
I thought about it, until a certain name popped into my head. “How about…Malice?” If she was going to be my kid, she might as well have a name that's menacing but with a feminine touch.
“It perfect.” She said happily.
The little one looked at me, and I could see a hint of a genuine smile on her face. Though, her trusting us will still need some work.
“Hey, soup’s on!” Blade called out. She just finished making us the five basic food groups: meat, beans, potatoes, gravy, and corn bread. It may not be the “healthiest” of diets but it’ll keep you going.
The little sandile's eyes sparkled when she saw the food and she looked like she was ready to dive in snout first.
After a quick explanation to Blade, we sat at the dinner table and chowed down.
“Hon, can you help her with the meat?” Jade asked as she gave little one some of the water we had left.
“Sure.” I said and cut up some of the meat into little pieces. That sandile may be young but she’s already developing the jaws of a bear trap so there’s no need to “puree” as some fancy folks call it. “Come on, eat up.”
Malice didn’t hesitate one bit when she saw the meat and gobbled it up like it was the last piece of food she’ll ever eat.
But we had to be careful; her body of skin and bones can only handle so much. And if we over fed her, she’ll be in a world of pain. We once knew someone who learned that the hard way after being trapped in a hole for so long.
However, Malice didn’t quite understand. Trying to steal the food on other’s plates, she even tried to throw a fit but she stopped when she realized it didn’t get her anything. Soon, she behaved, or at least was not whining or trying to get on the table.
But if I was a pup again with an empty belly, I would be acting the same way she was.
“How are we going to take her when we leave?” Jade asked as she gave Malice to Storm.
“We can use the spare bag so I can carry her. That can serve as a baby carrier.” I said.
“OW!” Storm cried out, we looked and saw little Malice was biting on her ear. “Um, can you give me a hand here?” she asked. The girls tried to get the sandile off of her but she wouldn’t let up.
“Let go now.” I told her sternly and with a few tugs, she let go. And she gave me a look that said: “I didn’t do nothing”.
Something tells me that parenthood will be interesting, to say the least.
“Damn these storms, no wonder she wants to meet here.” A roserade grumbled as he shut the door behind him of “the desert rose”. He dusted himself off and walked down the stairs to see pokemon drinking and gambling, but it was a bit tamer than “the black rattle snake”. "At least the sheriff doesn't know about this place."
“Hey, Zorro!” One of them greeted him, it was an emboar. “Long time no see!”
“Hey, Knox,” he said as he become more composed, but tried to get some sand out of his petals for hair.
Knox got up from his seat but took his drink with him. “Last time I saw you, you were almost gunned down by a crazy woman. Never thought I’ll see that happen to “lady’s man” Zorro.” He laughed heartily as he patted Zorro on the back with his free hand.
“I thought we agreed to never speak of that again,” The roserade growled quietly. “How was I supposed to know that the senorita was married to another woman?”
“I’m sorry, alright? I’m just messing with you.” The emboar said more nicely.
“You told more than one person since I was gone, didn’t you?” Zorro asked with an unamused look.
“No, I wouldn’t do that to you.” The emboar said innocently.
The roserade looked at him in a distrusting way.
“I swear I didn’t.” Knox said seriously. “Anyway, she’s been waiting for you.” He added and pointed to the other side of the room. In the darker areas in the bar, sat who the roserade was supposed to meet; Crimson.
“Sorry for the wait, darling-” He apologized smoothly as he approached the table.
“Don’t…call me that.” She hissed as she slammed a knife into the table, making him jump. And her wrists suddenly caught on fire from her anger.
“I apologize, senorita. It’s was just a slip of the tongue.” Zorro said calmly.
Crimson calmed herself down and began to talk again, “Fine. Anyway, I’m surprised you came before my former employer, it’s not like them to be fashionably late. I guess I was a little early.”
“Here’s your drink, ma’am.” A nidoqueen said as she put the glass onto her table.
Crimson gave a coin as thanks and picked up the glass with her chicken-like claws. “I can’t wait to see my old pals again, even Phoenix. Knowing her, she’ll yell me down asking where I’ve been.” She let out a small chuckle before taking a sip of her sarsaparilla.
“But didn’t you say in your letter to me that they abandoned you at the accident?” Zorro asked curiously.
“Yes, they did. But, I’m willing to put it under the bridge if they help me with this special job. For old time’s sake.” She replied with a crooked smile.