Disclaimer: I do not own anything Rango related.
It's getting chilly tonight, so that means it's time to bunker down to sleep. Rattlesnake Jake gave a yawn, long deadly fangs displaying themselves as he did so before he resumed his slithers. It's been a long, busy day and nothing could beat a good night's sleep. Despite the darkness surrounding him, his eyes were so clearly visible, one would say they gave off their own unnatural glow. Although that was nonsense, it did contribute to why he was so utterly terrifying to those who met him face-to-face. Those eyes can practically see right through you, right into the center of your very being, of your very soul. And the instant he did, he would know everything there was about you.
The sound of metallic clicks and rattles echoing through the desert air, Jake was searching for a good place to spend the night. He spent the majority of his life traveling across the desert, never truely staying in one place for more than a day or two. His home was wherever he happened to be and that fit into his job very well. He was an assassin, a killer-for-hire. If one wanted a hitman to 'take out the trash', all one needed to do was send this reptilian gunslinger a message telling him where to go and who to kill; and he'll never leave until the job was done. Mostly he worked for a few pints of water, while some he won't charge a drop. A most recent case of that was only hours ago, in dealing with an issue in Dirt.
Apparently, the Mayor wanted him to get rid of the sheriff. This was growing to be a regular thing, but Jake never bothered to ask questions. What sharpened his resolve was hearing the rumors about this new Sheriff, who was apparently named Rango. The snake was looking forward to challenging someone who claimed to kill all 7 of the Jenkins brothers with one bullet, but then he heard the tale that gave the truth away. A lizard claiming that he was his brother and that he was immune to his venom. At that point, Jake took it personally and knew he was dealing with a lying coward. The town of Dirt belonged to him, and no silver-tongued con-man was going to be staying in it, not on his watch. He drove the disgraced lizard out of town and things seemed to be working well. The Mayor gave him an extra job in 'assisting' in getting the girl, Beans, to give him her land. She refused and Jake had every intention of killing her and claiming her soul when Rango returned, as a changed lizard. Having seen killer in the sheriff's eyes, he was very much stunned; but he also began to feel a sense of respect that, somehow, the lizard was now willing to pull the trigger on him when he had been afraid to do so in their previus encounter. But, despite this respect, Jake still had a job to do.
It wasn't until the Mayor betrayed him and tried to kill him did he decide to change his goals. His respect for the sheriff grew even more, having seen that the tiny reptile solved all the issues, defeated the Mayor, and saved the rattler's life with one mere bullet. He even went so far as to tip his hat to him, something he never done with anyone else. As for the Mayor...the snake took care of him with a few bullets to the gut and a small ounce of venom. The tortoise's body wasn't even worth eating in the end. And now that night was falling, the tired snake found a snug crevice to curl up in and fell asleep...
Poke. What was that...? Probably nothing. Jake shifted in his coils, still pretty much asleep until he felt a few more pokes. Poke, Poke...Poke. He tried to ignore it, his face forming into an irritated scowl. Pooooooooke! He finally gave a response, a first warning to whoever was bothering him to stop before he turned lethal. His tail began to shake and the gatling gun at the end of it gave its rattle. It seemed to work as he didn't feel anymore pokes and the rattling stopped. But it was too late to go back to sleep; now that he was awake, he might as well start his day. First thing's first, the night was cold to his scaley body and he needed to warm up. Tensing his muscles in a stretch, he slithered out from underneath the overhang and...
He was enveloped by fabric of some sort and he felt himself being lifted off the ground. Stunned, his mind raced to figure out what was happening and it didn't take long for him to come to a conclusion: he was in a bag and he was going to get out! Cocking his weapon, he aimed upwards and fired a few bullets, which easily penetrated the cloth surrounding him and no doubt struck flesh. Grinning as he heard a scream of pain, his amusement didn't last long as he felt himself fall and hit the ground. Recovering quickly with a few shakes of his head, he slipped out of the bag and coiled up, aiming his gun at one of the humans. But before he could fire, he was grabbed by the neck and the tail simultaneously. Yelling in outrage, his tail gun let loose, but unfortunately his captor held it in such a way that no further harm would come to them. It didn't take long at all until he ran out of bullets.
Unable to reload in his current position, he struggled as hard as he could, trying to wriggle out of the restraint or at least get so he could bite. As he writhed and hissed and cursed, he was taken to a large plastic purple tub and practically thrown inside. More than a little indignant, he glared up and prepared to strike, only to see the top close and he was thrown into pitch darkness. Knowing it'll be almost impossible to reload if he couldn't even see the nose in front of his face, he didn't bother and instead slammed himself into the side, hoping to tip the tub over so that the top might come off. It was just as he did that that he heard a grunt from right underneath him.
"Hey, stop that!" hissed an muffled voice and Jake noticed the feel of fabric under his body. A bit confused, he moved a bit and felt another piece of fabric, then another, then another. The whole tub was filled with bags and inside each were snakes; rattlesnakes like him, from what he can tell from the scent his flicking tongue was collecting. What the hell? Why was he stuck in a tub that held a bunch of other snakes? Where the hell was he being taken? He didn't know, but he sure didn't like it at all. It was so hot and stuffy in here that it was almost hard to breathe.
"Who're you, newcomer?" asked another voice from what came from the bag a little to the right. In a bad mood, Jake practically snarled his words, even though it was a simple question to answer.
"Rattlesnake Jake." This triggered a few gasps and mutters from various bags.
"The Rattlesnake Jake?"
"How the hell were you caught?"
"Wait, who's Rattlesnake Jake?"
"The best gunslingin' snake in the whole West."
"You mean, the best gunslinger in the whole world!"
Normally, Jake would smile at those glorifying words, but not at this particular moment. Pissed beyond comprehension, he wasn't in the mood for needless chit-chat and he gave an irritated rattle to silence everyone from their growing excitement. "Which one o' you knows where these damned scumbags are takin' us?" Silence enveloped the entire tub, as if the other snakes were reluctant to answer. Either that, or they didn't know the answer themselves. Finally, a female voice from the other side of the container spoke up.
"I hear they'll be takin' us to a horrible place where none of us will make it out alive. The Rattlesnake Roundup..."
"Rattlesnake Roundup?" Jake sneered skeptically. What was that crazy woman talking about? There was no such thing as the Rattlesnake Roundup. That was only a story; the kind of tale that a mother would tell to keep her children from wandering off and to keep them acting well-behaved. Jake was simply too old to believe such bed-time stories. But that didn't seem to stop anyone else as they began to panic and thrash about in their bags, much to the chagrin of Jake.
"Get us out of here!"
"We're all gonna die!"
"Stop your pathetic squirmin'!" Jake finally shouted, voice echoing through their prison and everyone froze in response as Jake continued. "Now I dunno what's goin' on or what's gonna happen, but I do know that your damn panic ain't gonna get us nowhere!"
"He's right, we have to keep our heads on." the same female voice spoke up again.
"But what're we gonna do?" came a child's voice a few bags to the left. "We're stuck in here."
"Those humans have to let us out eventually." came yet another voice, trying to sound certain, though Jake can easily pick up an unsure tone. "We just have to wait until they do..."
As much as the gunslinger didn't wanna admit it, the other snake was right. There was nothing they could do at the moment; he didn't have the strength to push the tub over or lift the top off, not by himself. And stuck in their individual bags, the others won't be of any help. Reluctantly, Jake rested his head on the coils of his body, the container now silent except for the clicks of his rattle and the occasional whisper from a bag. He didn't know how long they were to stay in here or even if they were ever going to be let out. Only time would tell and unfortunately, he had plenty of time to kill...
It must've been days since they were locked in this plastic prison. Jake spent most of his time sleeping, -what else could he do?-, and when he was awake, he could only listen to the mutterings of the others. Many of them were mumbling their ideas about their fate, most of which were influenced by the Rattlesnake Roundup story. Jake would roll his eyes, at least when he thought his eyes were open. With it being pitch black in here, it was hard to know if your eyes were open or not and he had to blink hard several times to confirm that he's not just looking at the back of his eyelids. The air had gotten even more stuffy as time passed by and there was a new scent to it. No doubt the smell of death, as some of the others just couldn't make it.
He was just about to doze off for what must've been the fifth time that day when they felt the car stop and heard the doors open. Everyone who was still alive were awake and rather alarmed when the tub was lifted up and rocking with the movements of the humans inside. Jake narrowed his eyes, aiming his tail up when he reminded himself that he had no bullets to fire...yet. The tub jolted as they were put down and the top was finally removed. Wonderful fresh air was let in, but at a price. After being cooped up in the darkness for so long, Jake cringed as light flooded into his eyes, the shade of his hat barely helping. Eyes squeezed shut, he still made a lurch upwards for freedom, but he was caught tight behind the head once more and his tail was also restrained and rendered more useless than it already was.
"Get yer damned hands off me, ya pathetic piece of sh-"
He didn't even get to finish his cursing demand when he was tossed into a corralled pit, landing on multiple other snakes, who barely made an effort to move out from under him. The reason was clear when he slowly opened his eyes and they immediately widened when he saw how crowded this place was. Almost every square inch of this pit was covered in rattlers of all sorts, most of them of his own species. The floor wasn't even visible under the serpentine carpet and you couldn't move an inch without climbing over ten other snakes. There was even crushed and suffocated bodies of the reptiles that were no doubt unfortunate enough to be at the bottom of the pile. Ugh, and the smell; it was worse than the tub! His tongue picked up all sorts of disgusting odors, from humans to blood to corpses to stuff he'd rather not mention. And above all of that was the scent of fear from the other snakes. He saw panic and terror in the eyes of the snakes who shared this pit with him, and for once, he didn't like the look at all.
His stunned state didn't last long when he felt a couple other snakes fall onto him and he managed to pull himself away, shoving his way past a few other snakes as he did so. The other rattlers that he shared the journey with were being emptied into the pit; rattlesnakes of all ages, of all sizes, of all species under the sun, it seemed. A few of the youngsters began to cry and called for their mothers, many of them never getting an answer back. Jake paid as little mind to the noise and the odor and the lack of personal space as he could, staying focused on his goal to escape and trying to figure out where they were and what was going on beyond the walls hemming them in. His efforts were in vain and the only thing he could gather is that once the humans took you out, you weren't to be seen again. Only one thing came to his mind:
"Rattlesnake Roundup..." he muttered under his breath. It was a real thing after all, not just some scary story made up by elder snakes who wished to frighten the young ones. There really was such a thing going on and now everything that happened was starting to make sense to him. Well, he had no intention of staying here and he pushed and shoved his way through the heavy crowd, -really, such a word was an extreme understatement-, to what looked to be the corral door and beyond that, displayed high above, was a EXIT sign that no doubt led to the outside. He pushed himself against it and the other snakes around him seemed to catch on to his idea, pushing the door themselves. But it was useless; the door was locked from the outside.
Cursing under his breath, Jake thought for a moment before an idea got to him. Perhaps he can shoot his way out. A few well placed shots might weaken the door enough to set them all free; it was well worth a try. Giving his tail a precise jerk, the empty gun slid open segment by segment. Turning his head to the numerous belts running down his body, he used his forked tongue like a two-fingered hand, expertly 'grabbing' each bullet, sliding them out of their respective holders, and putting them in their individual slots. It took only a few moments as he had plenty of practice at doing this and once he was fully loaded, he gave another precise jerk of his tail, reattaching the segments before cocking his weapon and aiming at the door.
But it seems as if luck was against him yet again and he felt himself being grabbed in an all-too-familiar hold. Although he struggled with every ounce of anything he had, he refrained himself from repeating his mistake and wasting his ammo. He learned that lesson twice already. He'll have to wait for a more opportune time to be able to use it to full effeciency. Until then, he kept up his almost half-hearted thrashings, being careful not to waste too much energy so he can easily make his getaway when that right moment happened. He kept note of where he was being taken, mapping in his head which direction the corral was and where the exit was. He was first taken to a long table and he growled and hissed as he was pressed into its surface, his body rather forcefully and painfully stretched out straight as much as it could. He couldn't keep back a wince and his tail rattled ominously as the human holding him tried to get a few more inches out of him.
How he wanted to just kill all these people...
"Wow!" One of the other humans exclaimed cheerfully, to Jake's irritation. "This rattler's a whoppin' 5' 11"! Congratulations on that, son!"
They were measuring him? Well, if he wasn't so ticked, he might've been a bit prouder at his considerable size. Finally, he was lifted off the table and he was allowed to relax his body, trying to fill out the aches that came from having been pulled to the limit. He'll be feeling that tomorrow... After a moment spent on keeping him on some kind of scale, he was taken away from the table and towards another table covered in assorted cups filled with some kind of fluid Jake couldn't really make out. He was rather roughly given to another human and he curse aloud, as this new grip was so tight, it almost choked him. Haven't these humans heard of the word 'respect'? That's what they should be treating him with! His bite alone could kill them, he could wrap his body around their neck and squeeze the life out of them, the end of his tail had a fully loaded gun that he can shoot at will! Every inch of his scaly body was made to kill. If there was a snake you shouldn't mess around with, it was him!
He didn't have another moment to fume however, as the human pushed a cup against his mouth, practically prying it open. Jake didn't know what they wanted, but he really wanted to bite something, so he bit the cup. But his fangs became hooked and stuck and he couldn't pull away. Venom squirted from his mouth into the cup (I swear, his venom looks like Mountain Dew...I'll shut up now) and he soon stopped the flow to avoid wasting the deadly liquid on something he couldn't even eat. But when the venom stopped, the grip on him tightened, forcing out even more. Jake realized that they were trying to steal his poison, take every last ounce of it. In anger, he tried to shift his gun to shoot the offending human, but couldn't as it was still restrained and aimed uselessly at the ground.
After what seemed like forever, no more venom can be forced out and his fangs were pulled free and the cup was placed indistinguishable amongst the other cups, each no doubt containing the venom of many rattlers that came before him. Why would these humans want his venom? Surely they weren't stupid enough to try and drink it. And leaving it out like that would only contaminate it... What a waste. Transferred back to the original human that held him, Jake was grumbling under his breath, growing sicker and sicker of this with every passing moment. But it seemed he didn't have long to endure as he was taken to yet another table where many humans, each with their unwilling hostages, were standing in line for something. Jake couldn't see what was happening, but he heard it pretty well.
Each time a new rattler was taken to the table, they would scream bloody murder and yell random begging words before a loud cutting sound was heard and the pleas went dead silent. Jake tried to look at what was happening, but he didn't see it clearly until he was one snake away from his turn. His eyes widened from more disbelief than actual fear. The humans were chopping the heads off the snakes before ripping the skin off their still-thrashing bodies and throwing the gasping, still-living heads into a bucket that was practically full. It was enough to make even the most hardcore gunslinger sick to his stomach and Jake was no exception. He was a stone killer, yes, but this...this was sick to watch, even for him. And soon, he'll be one of them...
"Not a chance in Hell!" he snarled as he was taken to the table. He was to be tranferred again to meet his demise, but this time, he had an idea. In the split-second when his captor's grip loosened and the potentional captor's grip had yet to tighten around him, Jake struggled with every ounce of strength, succeeding in getting free and falling to the ground. He barely needed to recover as he glared up at the humans and took aim. "Eat lead!" With that, he fired, taking out both of those humans and also some of the others that held hostages. Chaos erupted as the humans began to scream instinctively at the gunfire that seemingly came out of nowhere.
Using his ammo wisely, Jake ceased his fire and slithered off at top speed towards the exit, the freed and grateful rattlers following him, all being careful about the crushing human stampede going on around them. Reaching the exit, Jake paused and turned to the corral door, aiming his tail at the latch holding it closed and blasting it with a few well-placed bullets. The weight of the many snakes leaning on the door opened it wide and the snakes, recovering quickly from their surprise, made for freedom. Jake stayed where he was, making sure the last of the freed rattlers would get away safely before turning and watching the panicked humans flee around mindlessly. At the top of his voice, making sure at least some of the humans would hear him, he gave them a message:
"Hopefully, that's the last time you make your lil roundups, 'cause if I ever see your ugly faces again, I'll take every last one of you down to Hell!"
He fired a few extra shots into the crowd for deadly emphasis before turning away and leaving the place in chaos. He was a bit battered and bruised and felt aches all over his body, but he's alive. He still had plenty of ammunition and his venom was already starting to replenish itself. Homing instincts urging him towards the sunset, towards the familiar Mojave desert, Jake smirked as his tail gave a few triumphant rattling shakes and he slithered off back to the place he called home.
Something inspired when I saw a few videos of the terrible Rattlesnake Roundups and thought: 'If only Jake was there, those poor snakes might've been saved.' Even outlaws can be heroes sometimes. Really, I don't think of Jake as being completely evil. Obviously, he holds some honor and I think that with his job, he might've done some good deeds if hired by the right person. In fact, during the whole first encounter he had with Rango, it seemed to me that Jake genuinely thought the lizard to be a bad person who was trying to con these "good people".
Anyway, no offense to anyone who takes part in the Rattlesnake Roundup, but honestly I hate it. I see no good coming from the cruelty and slaughter other than to make a good profit. :(