Disclaimer/Explanation: This is an AU story for Neo Angelique Abyss that takes place in the wild American West. I've been a fan of western themed comics and films (the newer ones not the old spaghetti ones). I thought to try this one out. Please let me know what you think.
-Away From Home-
The railroads of Arcadia were the way to travel in this day and age. Especially after the west was won. Western Arcadia opened up so many opportunities for the citizens of Arcadia and the massive migration of families were seen as heroic exploits. Unfortunately, some of those settlers and families would never make it to their destination. The railroads, however, marked a new age. Travel to the west was easier, faster, and more efficient. But the west, in the late 1800s, was still a dangerous place, but most of society in the East had this romantic view of virgin territory.
Angelique, a young beautiful girl, sat in one of the trains. Her stomach was churning in anticipation. She was heading west, where men sought to achieve their dreams. Her green eyes were glued to the window looking out as the landscape became untamed, uncut. Her white hair fell on the shoulders of her violet dress, with ribbons tied in her lovely tresses. She kept to herself tightly, being alone on this train. There were other passengers but no one she knew. No, she left all her friends behind.
She clutched the envelope in her hands at the thought. Its contents made her heart heavy. Inside was a letter from her father. They were instructions for her, in case anything happened to her family.
A tear hit the white envelope. Her mother and father were physicians. Her mother died of illness not long ago and shortly after, her father was killed in a mugging. She was in a women's prep school and only heard of the news of her mother. Immediately, she traveled to her house to mourn with her father. A few days after the service, her father was on his way to a house call, a young boy with the measles she recalled, only to be held up on the street and knifed in the chest. Angelique buried her father right next to the fresh grave of her mother.
The family's attorney gave her a letter. A letter from her father. The words were calming and distant, as if he knew her every step and was guiding her way along. He told her to find a man named Father Mathias who resided in a town called Celestizm. Father Mathias would take care of her.
Celestizm. The paradise of the West. Unfortunately, the place was not connected by railroads or caravan roads. So, Angelique figured, she would have to find a horse and ride all the way to Celestizm. She had enough money to purchase a few things, including a horse. Still, she was worried. She'd be alone, going into uncharted territory. Hiring some guards was what she would probably have to do and that irked her a little. Angelique was hardly the wealthy eastern girl and she had to keep her purse strings drawn tight.
The train slowed and she saw the station ahead. It was filled with people, a good portion of them finely dressed. Finally the train stopped, the hiss of the engine blowing up smoke. She tucked her father's letter in her bodice and reached up in the luggage and took out her suitcase.
On the train station platform, a young man sat on a bench, his brown hat tilted over his eyes. He was lying back against the bench casually and at first glance it seemed he was sleeping, using his hat to shield his eyes from the blinding sun. When the passengers of the train started to get off, he pushed the brim of his hat up a little, keeping his eye on the passengers as they got off. There. That was the girl he was looking for. The girl with white hair. Oh boy, did she look lost, looking about like that. The young man eased out of his chair and approached the girl.
Angelique looked around the platform, trying to figure out where she should start. That was when she noticed a man in a hat walking towards her. The man wore a hat, a white shirt and a torn up dark jean vest. She glanced at his belts, fear pulsing through her at finding guns in holsters and bullets lining the other belt. His boots thunked on the hard wood and she took a few steps back away from him. The stranger, however, reached up and removed his hat, revealing his red and silver streaked hair. It made him less intimidating but Angelique wished he wouldn't come any closer.
"Angelique?" his voice wasn't deep but it wasn't high pitched. So he was probably not far from her age.
"Y-yes," she stammered.
"I am Rayne. I was sent by one of your relatives to make sure you find your destination safely."
The confused look the girl gave him wasn't reassuring.
"Relatives?" Angelique wasn't sure if she had any.
"Yes he sent me a message about your predicament and your lawyer sent a telegram about you."
Fear was still in her eyes as she regarded the young man. She was in a strange place and a man comes right up to her wanting to help her. She wasn't too thrilled to see that he had guns, two revolvers, but she noticed that many others had them. And this man was offering to help her. Did she really have a choice?
Rayne held out his hand, "Well?"
She didn't take his hand but gave him a tentative answer, "Will you take me to Celestizm then?"
Rayne placed his hat on his head, "Celestizm? That's a long way from here."
"My father told me to look for a man there. Is it still possible for you to take me?"
Rayne nodded but the look on his face showed that he preferred not to.
"It will take several weeks, months maybe, depending on how we travel. Plus I'm not sure how to get there."
Her heart sank. All she wanted was to see Father Mathias, but now she was in the company of a man with weapons. Rayne seemed to notice her eye on his guns and he adjusted them so they wouldn't be too prominent.
"Don't worry, ma'am, I use these for protection," Rayne said clearing his throat, his head turning to some red rocky cliffs off in the distance. "It can be dangerous out here."
He turned back to the girl taking her attire in. Eastern attire. Something that would make it difficult to ride a horse or run, "We'll head to Pharian not far from there. My brother may know where this Celestizm is."
Angelique nodded and bent to pick up her suitcase.
"Is that all you have with you?"
She didn't look him in the eye and just nodded. The boy just smirked and tilted the brim of his hat up to make himself look less menacing.
"That's good, it'll make things easier," he leaned forward and grabbed the handle of her suitcase. She tightened her grip on her suitcase, not willing to relinquish it to this stranger.
"Relax," he chuckled. "I just want to carry this for you, ma'am."
Her eyes met the young man's green ones. They were bright and fresh showing that if he tried to lie he would be very bad at it. She relinquished her grip on it and followed him off the station platform to the horse corral.
Rayne spoke as he strapped her luggage to the back of his horse, "It's about a day to Pharian, shorter if we take the back roads. Ma'am"
He held out a hand and she regarded it for a moment.
"Will you permit me to help you up the horse?"
Angelique took his hand and he pulled her to him, lifting her until she grasped on the saddle. Rayne pushed her up and she pulled until she sat upright, legs swung out to the side since her dress wouldn't allow her to straddle the saddle properly.
In one smooth, swift movement Rayne mounted his horse.
"Hold on to me, ma'am. It could be a bumpy ride."
Angelique complied, wrapping her arms around his front. Rayne hid a smile and pulled his horse out of the corral and into the street heading out of the city.
Miles away, in an unknown stretch of barren land, a carriage drawn by four horses raced through the dirt and rocks. The driver kept his head low and his wrist fast with the reigns. Dust flew from the rattling wheels and the powerful hooves.
A shot rang out and it seemed to echo from the very skies, but no one was around to hear it. The driver's head reeled back and he toppled from his seat on to the ground, dead. The horses kept their pace for a few more moments until they eased to a stop.
The passenger inside, a young man with a mustache, looked around in fear, through the small windows. He peered through one staring at the fallen driver. He called out his name to see if he was alive, but his voice was immediately drowned out by the thundering of hooves. He looked back through the other window and there a foreboding group of men trotted on large dark stallions. They were armed to the teeth and they circled the wagon aiming their weapons at the carriage.
The man inside wiped the sweat from his brow and eased his hand lower to the pistol by his belt. The leader dismounted his black horse. As his boots met the dirt, the wind seemed to kick up, brushing dirt over the figure like a menacing fog. To the man inside the carriage, each step the leader of this gang made, resounded like drums in his ears. The leader had a beige hat pulled over his eyes, making him, essentially featureless, and the suit coat he had on whipped in the wind like a small cape, pulling away from his waist, revealing the arsenal of this man.
The man in the carriage snapped and he shot at the leader before he got too close. Unfortunately, he missed but still this leader didn't stagger, he only halted his steps.
The other horsemen were quick to act and raised their weapons, all too eager to fire.
But the leader made one swift motion of his arm and the others refrained from firing.
The trapped man raised his weapon again, but the leader quickly drew his gun and shot the passenger in the shoulder, causing him to drop the gun. The passenger scrambled to retrieve his fallen gun, but the leader thrust his hand through the window and grabbed the wounded man by the collar and brought him back, pining him from behind, to the wall of the carriage
"This wouldn't happen to be the weapons wagon to Wodon, would it?" the leader's voice was dark and patronizing.
The passenger refused to answer.
In a fury the leader threw open the door to the carriage and pulled the man out, throwing him to the ground. The passenger coughed as dirt reached his lungs and he rolled on his back the pain in shoulder getting worse. He stared up at this group of men that were all too familiar to the west. Yet he was young and fresh, and never thought he'd see them here, or at least fight them.
"I thought I heard demons screaming," the wounded man coughed.
The leader clucked his tongue and looked down on the man like he were a dying animal.
"You could do yourself a favor and tell us where the weapons wagon is," the leader sneered walking over and pressing the heel of his boot to the bullet wound in the shoulder of their prisoner. The man cried out in agony.
"There was never a weapons wagon to Wodon," the man blabbed, fighting back tears of pain. "It was just a ploy. The train didn't come from Treestone either."
"So there was no 5:40 to Hedgefarm from Treestone?" the leader yelled obviously not happy at all. "Then what the hell arrived at Hedgefarm?"
"A train from back east. Fleur. Passengers," the man gasped.
The leader lifted his boot from the man's wound and turned, hand rubbing his chin murmuring to himself, "Fleur, you say?"
One of the other horsemen dismounted his horse and approached the leader, "The boss isn't going to like this…"
The leader shook his head, "No, but he'll be interested in this passenger train from Fleur."
The other bandit gave his superior a questioning look but smirked when he saw his leader approach the man lying on the ground.
"You've been most helpful. Thank you," the leader smashed his foot into the man's face hard enough to crush his skull and kill him.
Up on a nearby cliff, a tall well-built man stood, gazing at the crime, breathing hard, removing his bowler hat in defeat, and revealing his blonde hair. A horseman trotted towards him. The young man with red hair and glasses dismounted the horse.
"J.D?" the boy asked. The taller man shook his head.
"I was too late," J.D. murmured, turning to the young man, his eyes filled with grief. "I have failed."
The young man passed J.D. to get a better look at the carnage. The criminals were already on their horses, galloping away from the scene.
"It is possible for me to catch up to them," J.D. said, but the young man shook his head.
"Maybe but you'll be easily gunned down without sufficient backup and there's only me. It's best we just return home."
J.D. placed his hat back on his head, "Should we at least take the bodies back? You know, give them a proper burial."
The young man glanced around at the landscape, heaving a sigh, "Alright, but let's make it quick."
A/N: The next few chapters will make things a little clearer. My outline at this point is a little rough, but hopefully it will solidify. Please review so I know what to put next.