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From "Preacher & the Pale Devil" - Reiter
Auburn and burnt orange shades of light washed over the area, flailing about with the consistency of the source from which they were born. The wood crackled as the fire consumed more of its mass yielding light, and of course the heat which was cooking the meat of the large game bird positioned over the blaze. As wood became ash, more wood was added and then the long stick jabbed into the base of the flames, moving the wood so that air could feed the flames and keep them strong.
“Fire is a greedy cuss,” he thought. “Needs wood, air and constant attention. Reminds me of Tess.”
“Jethro, you’re awfully quiet tonight,” she said as she took a seat near the fire. She was not as drawn in by the allure of fire, which was slightly ironic, given the circumstance of her name. But she was pleased to see the normal frown gone from his face. He was pleased with his handiwork; the fire, the catch and the cooking.
“Just how many faces doe this simple man have?” she thought. “Which one are you thinking about now?” she asked aloud.
“Tess,” he admitted, adding more wood to the fire.
“She was the red-head, right?”
“I hope she still is, Sarray,” Jethro said, placing his stick on the ground at his side. Her soft amber eyes looked at the stick and then she looked up into his brown eyes. She blinked hers once as they turned to a bright shade of gold.
A twig snapped and the world changed. To be sure, their reactions were different, but it is said there are many roads which lead to Zion. These two travelers walked different paths, but make no mistake, they were both on the move!
Jethro Azariah Smith’s ears received the sound and the first thing he knew was that it was not a wild animal; too much of a grinding noise after the snap. No, that was a boot, a fairly heavy and untrained foot inside of it, too. It was too close to be friendly; only the dead, the dumb and the misaligned approach a fire so closely without calling out.
Sarrayona heard the twig and immediately engaged her other senses. She smelled human blood… dried human blood. This thing had been too close to death before and perhaps was looking to add to its quarry. And then there was the intangible touch, the sixth sense her mind scurried to feel. There was anxiety and anticipation… coldness and cruelty. Someone was not looking to make friends in the night!
Pale Devil drew Pitchfork, Preacher drew The Father. As always, he let her fire first, there was no way he could match her speed anyway. Devil’s blast hit, looked like she scored center mass, and the flash of light was most revealing. It revealed that the man had not come alone, and the flare of light had not yet died when it was revealed that the man who came with him was dead too. Preacher had scored a head shot. Both men were dead before they hit the ground.
Just after the bodies stopped moving, the lights came on. Jethro squatted low and Sarrayona squinted in the brightness. She did not wear her hat as religiously as Jethro, and her sensitive eyes were now paying the price.
“You okay?” Jethro asked.
“I’m fine,” she quickly answered, holding up her hand. “Don’t shoot them out again. You remember what happened last time.”
“That was too quick!” a voice called out its complaint. The sands were kicked up by the thrust of the floating arsenals, manned and unmanned, as they bared and locked in their mini-laser cannons. The Father and Pitchfork found their holsters at the same time, which meant Sarrayona was moving real slow! “The contests are supposed to last much longer!” The largest of the floating ships touched down and the owner of the voice stepped down the forming gangplank. He was tall and slender, like all of the Kelvurian; his gray-striped yellow skin covered in robes made of a very soft and light material. Softer than silk and lighter than down feathers. It made waves when the Kelvurian moved in them. His dark green eyes moved and blinked independent of each other; it was difficult to get anything past their eyes. “I have customers who are demanding longer engagements.”
“Not our problem,” Jethro answered as he turned to go back to his cooking. The hovering platforms had disturbed his perfect fire, and it was going to take some work to get it back the way he wanted.
“What was the term they gave me when my gun didn’t fire?” Sarrayona asked as she also turned and walked away from her keeper. “User error.”