Okay...This is a story that 3 of my friends and I started writing 2 years ago. The wonderful and talented Jacki wrote the introduction here. Please tell us what you think.

Much to our dismay we do not own Trigun...but the four characters you have never heard of came from our own twisted minds! Enjoy!


Thunder and Lightning

Stan Wesling swung his feet up onto the porch railing and tipped his chair back. Reaching into the pocket of his vest, he pulled out a rolled up magazine that looked like it had seen a lot of wear. With an expert flick of his wrist he flipped it open.

Oh yeah, this one was his favorite. Stan turned the dog-eared magazine so that the image was upright. He carefully pulled back the upper and lower halves of the paper so that the centerfold stood fully open on his lap. The corner of his mouth turned up in a satisfied grin. "Absolutely beautiful, baby," he mumbled appreciatively to the naked woman stretched out in a suggestive pose on the glossy paper. "You can do whatever you want to me, honey, anytime you want." Thunder rolled off in the distance, but he took no notice. Probably just a mild heat storm, possibly a small twister; in any case, neither were cause for panic.

Stan wasn't planning on moving from his comfortable spot on the porch unless absolutely necessary. The sheriff had left earlier that day for LR town, leaving his trusty (if not somewhat dimwitted and lazy) deputy in charge until he returned. Stan didn't expect him back for another hour or two, which gave him plenty of time to kick back and relax with one of his most beloved reading materials.

He turned the page slowly and grunted in pleasure as he perused the next picture, a long-legged redhead, nude except for a pair of flashy red cowboy boots and a glittery cowboy hat of the same color tilted at a jaunty angle on her head, leaning up against the door of an old thomas stable. Stan whistled.

The sheriff had gone to LR in hopes of convincing the law-enforcement office there of lending him a few able-bodied men to help protect Panos town's water supply. In the few short weeks since the Panos construction crew had struck the large underground water vein, people had been flocking to the small village in order to see and draw water from the nearly overflowing well. Most of those who came were poverty-stricken families in search of free resources or strapping young men looking for a job in the blooming water-management business, but a few were of a rougher type. Hard men with a dangerous glint in their eyes and packing guns, what the sheriff had called "the toughies." There hadn't been any trouble as of yet, discounting the brawl that broke out at the saloon a few nights ago, but the sheriff had believed it best not to tempt fate. That hadn't been the only thing, though.

Stan looked up at the darkening horizon as a streak of heat lightening arced blue-white across the sky. Dust and sand swirled up in a dark cloud as a brisk wind cut through the desert. Stan squinted in the light of the first setting sun; he thought he had seen something dark moving somewhere in the dust-cloud. The dark patch wavered and was finally obscured by the undulating heat shimmers.

"Must have been just a mirage," he muttered quietly. He didn't feel too confident anymore. Now that he thought of it, he and the other deputy working inside were fairly vulnerable to an attack. If a gang of robbers showed up or even...even...

No. He didn't want to think about it. Ever since the fifth moon incident a little over a year ago, rumors about Vash the Stampede had been running rampant throughout the town. That had been the other reason that the sheriff had gone for some additional manpower. A little less than a week before the construction crew had struck water, a mob of about 30 people had captured two men, one of which who was believed to be the legendary outlaw himself (they assumed the other was a member of his gang). They had intermittently beaten and dragged the men behind their vehicles. In the end, it had been a woman, a petite newcomer, who had stopped the mob from killing the two captives.

The sheriff, not wanting to incite a riot (he didn't mention it out loud, but Stan knew that he was anxious to collect the reward money if the one prisoner turned out to be Vash the Stampede), had stood back and allowed the mob to continue with their activities.

There was another clap of thunder, louder this time, and Stan fidgeted nervously in his seat. He cracked his knuckles and turned to the next page, but his mind was far from the nude beauty in the picture.

That man couldn't have been Vash the Stampede. It just wasn't possible. He was blonde, that much corresponded with the general description, but when the mob found him and the other "gang member" he hadn't been wearing his red coat or carrying the huge weapon he was reputed to have. The group had acted on the suspicions of some strung out deliveryman and had grabbed what was most probably two innocent men and tried to kill them. Well, maybe innocent wasn't really the best word. Stan nibbled on his lower lip. He had seen the heavy bandages and deep, jagged scars covering the blonde's arms and torso. The blonde was either very stupid or a general troublemaker; innocent just couldn't apply to a person so heavily scarred. From the way he had acted when he was captured, Stan would have had to opt for the former. Unlike his comrade, who had weakly, but determinedly struggled to get away, the blonde hadn't put up a fight at all. In fact, he had confessed to his crimes and just about got on his knees and begged to be shot. Whoever this guy was, Stan firmly believed that he wasn't the legendary outlaw.

Stan yawned, stretched, and turned his full attention back to the wrinkled magazine spread out on his lap. It was pointless to worry himself over such things as Vash the Stampede. Judging by the humongous hole carved into the surface of the fifth moon, no one on this desert planet would survive if Vash really got angry.

Lightening, whitish-red and wispy, shot across the sky over the cluster of twisted rock formations that lay a little less than a mile southwest of Panos town. Stan caught only a glimpse of it as it disappeared back into the dark, menacing clouds that swirled above the area. When had those appeared? He sat forward and pushed himself to his feet. The magazine slid off his lap onto the floor. He took no notice of it.

The air felt charged. The bolt of lightning had long since disappeared, but Stan could still hear the crackle of energy that had followed it. He leaned out over the porch rail to see better, shading his eyes with one hand. The second sun was nearing the horizon and its fierce red light nearly blinded him. Starting at his fingertips, a tingle started. It moved up his arms to his trunk; his heart fluttered in response. Breathing shakily, Stan held his arm up in front of his face. All of the fine, dark hairs were standing erect. He brushed the rigid hairs gently with his opposite hand. A tiny bolt of electricity shot from them to his fingertips. Stan cried out in mingled shock and wonder. He stared at his tingling fingers as if expecting them to start spitting lightening out from their tips. Just what in the blue hell was going on here?

He looked back at the distant rock formations. The clouds had darkened to an ugly purplish black color. Lightening flickered white inside of them. The clouds suddenly amassed upon themselves and the glimpses of light inside disappeared. The whole mass seemed to solidify, and Stan felt the energy in the air grow to a point where he could feel the hair on his head sticking up.

A million thoughts were running through his head. Would this be the day that he finally bit the dust? What was going on? Was it Vash the Stampede? Stan inhaled deeply. His chest, feeling light as a feather, expanded; the air had a delicious and enticing taste to it. Lightening flickered again over the rock formations, lingering longer than the previous bolt. Stan could smell the ozone now. The light feeling in chest continued to grow and grow. Anymore and he was sure that he would float right off of the porch. The energy continued to build. His ears popped and the small muscles in his hands, fingers, and toes suddenly contracted.

And then it was gone. Stan opened his eyes and blinked. No clouds. No lightening. No thunder. It was if it had never happened. He stared disbelieving out at the twisted rock bodies in the distance. The dying sunlight danced around the jagged figures, painting them a bloody red color. That was all, nothing else. Besides the fading smell of ozone in the air, it all seemed as if it had never happened at all. Rubbing at his eyes as if to try and bring the images back, he walked inside the small combination jail/police office. Jacob Ingred, the other deputy on duty to day, looked up as he entered.

"Did you feel that, Stan?" He asked with wide eyes.

So he had seen it too. Well at least he knew now that he wasn't going crazy. Stan took a deep breath, exhaling through pursed lips.

"Yeah. Did you see the lightening?"

"There was lightning?" He leaned forward excitedly, eyes nearly bugging out of his skull. "I heard the thunder and figured there was lightning but I didn't think it was anything more than a heat flash or something. Wow, what do you think that was? I heard word that a typhoon, a real, honest-to-God typhoon passed through New Oregon a while back and maybe—"

"Jake, I'm going to head to the washroom." The other officer immediately quieted, concern filling his eyes at the weary sound of his coworker's voice. Stan entered the small room at the back of the building, not glancing up at the empty jail cells on either side of him. The cool water felt amazingly soothing as he splashed it onto his face. Feeling refreshed, he headed back out to the porch. He couldn't let the sheriff see him in such a state. Jake looked up from the pile of paperwork on his desk but didn't say a word.

The scenery was the same as it was when he left. The clouds and the lightening and the thunder hadn't returned. Stan eased himself back into his seat. His eyes darted towards the discarded magazine, but he made no move to retrieve it from the floor. The second sun was about halfway below the horizon. Beautiful bands of reds, oranges, golds, and violets, spread out in the sky. He stared fixedly at the display, ignoring the sting of the sun's dying rays. The heat shimmers were even more intense where the sun met the horizon. The land and the sun seemed to melt together in an ocean of swirling colors and lights.

Stan shut his burning eyes. The afterimage of the sunset burned bright blue-green on his eyelids. He opened his eyes slowly, the afterimage a dim speckling of dots on his field of vision. He stared out at the sunset and the dots followed. They merged and grew into four distinct shapes, black shadows framed by the fiery red corona of the sun.

Wait a minute. Stan blinked and looked down at the magazine. There was a faint afterimage—the round semicircle of the sun—but no dots. He rubbed at his eyes and squinted out in the dying light. The spots were still there. They were moving over the rolling sand dunes towards the town. Stan froze in his seat for a moment, shocked. He then leapt onto the porch rail, clinging to one of the splintered wooden columns for support. He stayed like that for some time, watching the figures, for that was what they were: human figures. As they neared the outskirts of the town the heat shimmers faded away and the figures grew more distinct. Four people, and although Stan couldn't tell for sure from his vantage point and in the growing darkness, he believed, judging by their slenderness and height, that all were female.

Travelers weren't unusual in Panos, especially after all the business with the well, but the fact that all four of them were female was. What with outlaws like Vash the Stampede running around wreaking havoc it wasn't safe for women to be out and about without a man to protect them. One explanation would be that they were survivors of one of the mass disappearances that had been occurring every so often in the surrounding cities and villages. Stan scratched at the stubble on his cheek. It was possible, but something told him that these women were somehow connected to the freak storm.

With a grunt, he hopped off of the railing. The old wooden boards of the porch creaked under his weight as he landed and as he walked towards the open door of the building. Pausing, he turned and glanced back out at the darkness-shrouded desert. The travelers had stopped just outside the town limits and appeared to be discussing whether or not to enter. Stan studied them for a moment. Several minutes passed, and they started moving again. Into the town. His jaw tightening slightly, Stan walked inside. It was imperative that he and Jake be on guard just in case these strangers proved to be trouble. You never could be too careful these days.

So, who is this strange blonde person? Who is he traveling with? And who are these four strange women? Only time will tell! Please leave a review, it will be greatly appreciated!