I'm starting to go through my old one shots and notes, I'm cleaning up a few old ideas and working on some new ones, and I'm putting them up here so I can get feedback on them, see what people are interested in seeing more of. No schedule for these, just whenever I get one done or cleaned up.
So let me know what you think ladies and gentlemen odds are something from this thread will be my next project.
Don't own worm. Or much of anything really.
Worm: A Western
AN: Alright as the title suggests this is a western. That's not the only change though. Character ages are being bumped up. Scion, Endbringers, Cauldron; none of these will be appearing, just assume they don't exist. Why? Because really screw them, they make writing Worm fics into a fucking headache. Characters are going to be varying degrees of out of character, mostly because of the time period.
I don't know how long this could run for if I continue it. Could be a one shot, or it could last for a story arc or two at best.
Miss Taylor Hebert; age 19
The morning sun was just peaking over the horizon as I pulled myself into Bonney's saddle. She's a fine young thing with sure feet and a beautiful grey coat.
She'd gotten me halfway across the country through mostly rough terrain, and I owed her my life a half dozen times over for getting me away from trackers, bandits and bounty hunters. More than that though she was worth her weight in gold to me for a simple irreplaceable reason; the beautiful, brilliant, maybe even blessed horse was comfortable enough to not panic when I used my… Well what to call it is a bit of a point of contention really.
I circled my camp one last time while checking the saddlebags to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. It wasn't likely given just how many times I had broken down similar camps over the past months, it had become a familiar habit, but it never hurt to check. Satisfied I lightly tapped Bonney with my heels and pointed her North East. I'd overshot the town I'd been searching for three days ago and not realized for a day and a half.
How I had missed the town by more than my roughly three thousand foot range I may never know. Still I was confident I'd find it today.
Oh how I was looking forward to a chance at a real bath! Months of riding with only the odd stream or lake for getting clean had left with a feeling of filth it would take hours to fix. My poor hair must look a frightful mess and the hat wasn't helping any, even if it did keep the sun off my neck and out of my eyes.
My state of dress was no better. My dresses just could not hold up to the stress of heavy traveling. They'd been nothing but tatters after the first month. I'd had to steal a spare set of clothes from cowboy. The chaps and jacket I now where were far too big. I'd managed to fashion myself a few pairs of shirts and underthings from spider silk.
Ah that is to say I'd made the spiders spin them for me. That's my, ability, I control things; spiders, crickets, flies, bugs of all shapes and sizes really. It's the reason I'm wandering around the west end of Colorado in the first place.
I'd been chased out of my home town by a lynch mob baying for the blood of a witch; my blood, to be precise.
It's a not uncommon story really. Abilities like mine only come about at the lowest moments in a person's life. According to the church, well I suppose I should say every church as the idea has certainly found purchase with most every religion I've heard of, the abilities come from either God or the devil.
You see the theory goes that in that moment people reach out, asking anyone or anything for help… And sometimes, if you're lucky, or unlucky, something answers. God, the devil, some Indian spirit, or who knows what. So then they ask themselves, 'who or what answered?'
That's… Well that's where things get tricky. Some say you can tell by the type of ability if it was God or the devil, some say what we do with the powers is what determines who our patron is. There are other ideas out there but if you don't believe one of those two than most likely you fall into the third and largest group; the group that thinks anyone with abilities, with powers beyond that of mortal men, that we are all agents of the devil.
That group also happens to be the most likely to shoot first and ask questions never.
The government, the law, that was a whole nother story.
Some politicians called for the heads of people like myself. They loved to whip the masses up into a frenzy as a way to get more votes.
More level headed men said we needed as many persons such as myself as they could get. They claimed you needed to fight fire with fire and wanted to prepare for the inevitable waves of previously impossible crimes.
Many though hung back waiting to see how the winds would blow.
As for the law? How they reacted depended entirely on the opinion of the marshal or sheriff one ran across. Though many were wary to attack lest they find themselves fighting someone bullets can't kill.
Crimes are often attributed to people like myself, even if we are not responsible. I have bounty out on my head because some poor girl had died of a spider bite while I'd been in town and I'd been so unlucky as to be recognized by someone who knew why I'd been run out of my home town. Didn't matter that the poor thing was bit two days before I came to town. I'd been there when she died and that was good enough for the town sheriff.
The only stroke of luck I'd had since was my run in with miss Lisa Wilborn. She'd picked me out of a crowd weeks back when I chanced passing through a town for some things I needed. She's told me about her own ability and a small out of the way town, a sanctuary, for the touched as she called us.
She gave me directions and saw me on my way before heading off in search of others.
I'm not sure what to expect but right about now I'm ready to take my chances on the strange girl. I'm not exactly spoiled for options what with the price on my head.
With a tired sigh I tap Bonney again lightly to keep her moving and chew on a bit of jerky, it's not much but it's all I've got for breakfast. I'd better find this damn town soon or I'll need to go hunting again. I hate hunting, I've only got bugs to do it with.
It's mid day when I finally find the town I've been searching for, Snakes Den. It's a small place. But with signs of growth. A couple of wells and maybe a dozen buildings. All of it is nestled on the edge of a pine forest I could feel the nearby stream thanks to my bugs. There would be game around and there was a small mine nestled into the edge of the mountain not far away. It was a small town no doubt but I could see that it might grow.
Riding up the town's only street I drew a lot of odd looks, a woman dressed in mens clothes all too big is no common sight. I kept my hands close to my only real protection; a small two shot derringer. That and a real nasty thing I'd found a while back, a scorpion. It was a pale thing, more of a sickly yellow really, with a sting that would make a grown man scream and lasts for days. Both are hidden under my oversized jacket.
It didn't feel like enough.
I started pulling in the local insects, though I kept things as discreet as I could. Wouldn't do to give away my trump cards.
A small bar grabs my attention, it doesn't even have a name just a sign proclaiming it for what it is. I swing out of my saddle and hitch Bonney to the rail.
The place doesn't look like much, inside or out. Dirt covers the floor, and the table's a stained dark from spilled drinks. Several chairs seem to have mismatched legs and the air stinks of booze and sweat. It's an ugly place. It's empty except for the bartender.
Stepping up to the bar I approach the bartender who is swapping out empty bottles for full ones. He's an old thin man with raven hair and grey eyes.
"What can I do for ya, ugh, miss?" The man asks.
I favor him with a demure, if strained, smile. "I'm looking for a man called the Rattler." I can see his eyes widen ever so slightly. "A woman named Lisa sent me this way." I continue hoping her name will speed things along.
"Yeah." The man licks his lips and swallows. "Yeah, I reckon I can get 'im for ya, miss?"
"Oh! My apologies. My name is Taylor Hebert, mister?"
"Joe Branwen, but folks around here just call me old Crow." He gives me a small warm smile. "Go on upstairs, first door on the left he'll be along shortly." Answering the man's smile with one of my own I nod and follow his directions.
The room is sparsely decorated with a few chairs, a table and a liquor cabinet, but the walls a painted a warm cream color that I find relaxing. I only have about five minutes to settle into my chair before I feel someone climbing up the stairs through my bugs. The faint, dry, unending clicking of a rattlesnake slowly grew in volume as the person approached.
The door swung open to reveal a man dressed in a casual suit with the jacket left open to show his undershirt. He is not a very tall man, perhaps five foot ten. He is exceptionally thin and pale for someone living this far west, and on the heels of his boots rather than spurs are the tails of rattlesnakes, one per boot.
"Miss Taylor Hebert, some are calling you Miss Spider, wanted in the state of texas for the death of a young girl named Emma Barnes, bounty of five hundred dollars." He says as he reaches into the liquor cabinet and pours two glasses of whiskey.
I take the proffered drink and sip at it cautiously. It burns and I wish fervently for a even a bad white wine. Still the blessed numb that the whiskey promises drives me to take another sip. The burn isn't quite so bad the second time.
"Crow tells me that Lisa sent you my way?"
"She did." I hesitate for a moment then press on. "Though she was rather vague on just what it is you can do for me, and what it was going to cost me."
"And yet here you are." It's a statement but the question of why doesn't really need to be asked.
"I am a practical woman Mr. Rattler. When miss Wilborn offered me a chance I took almost a day debating my options. This was the only one to promise at least a moment's respite."
I take a moment to enjoy another sip of my drink.
"To be perfectly blunt sir, this is a gamble, and it is still the best option available to me."
He seemed to consider that a moment as he sips at his own drink.
"Are the allegations that you killed miss Barnes true?"
"No. The girl was bitten before I came to town. I was just there the day she died." He nods as if expecting this.
"You understand, that I cannot simply tell you everything that is happening here… That said you do need to understand this is a sanctuary for those with no choice but to live outside of the law. And that aside from the menial and physical, the only job to be found here is the oldest profession."
I shudder slightly at the thought. No matter what I won't be reduced to that.
"The only other real option is to find ways to leverage your, unique talents for cash. Many have found that crime does in fact pay. My town serves as something of a safe haven for those who choose to do so."
I finished my drink in one quick gulp and asked for a second.
"You are suggesting I became, what? A bandit? Cattle rustler?" The man shrugs.
"Perhaps. Or perhaps you are better suited to a bit of spying or robbing a bank." He says as if discussing the weather on a particularly pleasant day. "You know your abilities best my dear. Similarly only you know to what lengths you are willing to go in order to live either in comfort."
The Rattler stands and places his now empty glass on a tray by the door.
"Please don't feel rushed. I'll pay for a few days room and board, food… just take a few days to consider. If you do choose to put your skills to use outside the law… I believe you'll find this town and I have a great deal to offer you. I'll have old Crow make up a room for you for the night. Oh, and welcome to Snakes Den, miss Spider.