Author's Note:

I first want to put in a disclaimer: Rango and all its original characters are not mine, obviously. And Mongoose Marie is.

More importantly, I want to tell all you readers that the story gets better from here. I know Marie might seem like such a Mary-Sue in this chapter, and I may even rewrite it eventually, but things will improve. ;) Enjoy.

Edit: This chapter has been rewritten a little as of June 15th, 2012. Sorry. :x

Chapter One

It had been a few months since Mongoose Marie had killed her seven brothers. They weren't really her blood relations, no. No true family would ever sell their kin like a haunch of meat to the infamous desert kit fox: Red Leroy. After living with them for five years, all feelings of trust and belonging had vanished when she just happened to overhear their plans that one night. She would not be an exotic pet, taken to the brothels, the whorehouse, some god-awful place that made her grit her teeth thinking about it. She thought of the desolate women with no futures ahead of them, her mind painting pictures of a fear she did not know. As soon as she had confronted the weasel Jenkins Brothers, they had shot at her with their pistols, but their exotic pet was not helpless. In her homeland, her species were known to kill and eat cobras twice their sizes. It was her reflexes and a sharp Bowie knife that saved her, and it was pure adrenaline and rage that drove her to bite and slice and stab the brothers 'till her clothes and hands were filthy with blood. She regretted nothing. If anything, she wanted to move on - eager to start a new life.

And what news did Mongoose Marie hear but of the prosperity of Mud. The town had originally been named Dirt, but she'd heard of the sheriff there who had brought water in plenty to the town, and it was now something of a lake resort. The money she'd taken from her dead brothers was just bountiful enough to buy a small house maybe, and a town like that was just the place she needed to settle down. An armadillo in the desert guided her for a while, and eventually she saw the sign. "Welcome to Mud". It looked rather new. She smiled.

It wasn't too shabby a place; the townspeople were bustling about their daily business. Someone was playing the piano in a nearby saloon, and, thinking that it might be a good place to get some information on living quarters, she stepped inside. A few people looked up at her and lost interest, then did a double take, having never seen a creature like her before. She was too lean to be a prairie dog, and too pretty to be a weasel. Someone in the back wolf whistled, and soon the whole place was staring at her. She blinked. Confused, Marie looked behind her to see who had caused the disturbance, but there was no one there. The room filled with laughter. Blushing hotly under her fur, she reminded herself she was Mongoose Marie, a killer, now, with seven dead weasels under her belt. Her eyes glared straight ahead, and she walked as butch as possible to the bar counter.

"Ya'll got any cactus rum in this place?" She asked haughtily, for good measure.

"Cactus rum? Not cactus juice? Now ain't that a bit strong for ye, darlin'?" the barkeeper said in a croaky voice. He took the cigar in his mouth and eyed her with his big toad eyes.

"Strong? Hah!" she burst loudly, as if it were a hilarious joke. She gave a wicked smile. "Hell, I'd drink snake venom if ya had it and it'd still be as mild as a glass o' milk. Hand me the drink, barkeep."

He produced a prickly bottle and she spun it by its neck into the air, caught it with her claws, and swiftly took a big gulp of the sizzling spirit. Showing off. Then, calmly, she set the bottle down, her face perfectly composed. Gasps of shock and awe reached her ears, and she played a cool smile. What she had said was true for the most part, except that she wasn't entirely unaffected by venom. As alcohol was to the average man, so was venom to her kind.

"I ain't ever seen a pretty thing like you drink like that." She turned to see a black rat with beady eyes and crooked teeth. "What's yer name, missy? Where d'you come from? You don't seem te be from these parts."

Marie swung casually in her seat, leaned back against the counter on her elbow, and tilted her head so that it rested on her other paw. Why shouldn't she show off? In her head, she pictured Mongoose Marie, the brave and bold woman from the far country, China, and her smile broadened.

"I'm Mongoose Marie. I come from the Far East, the Orient, and when I came here I became Marie... Jenkins." She paused, looking to see if her hint had been noticed. "Them Jenkins boys was my brothers, and I killed all seven of 'em." and with that, she grinned so as to show her sharp canines. The rat was unshaken.

"Really, now… So you're the real killer of them brothers."

Her eyebrows rose a little at "real killer", but she shrugged it off. She wanted to tell the saloon about her feats of killing cobras, dodging bullets, maybe even made up stories of her indomitable prowess. Her smile widened further, became crooked, and then it fell. She didn't want to show off. Not this much, anyways.

She had killed her brothers.

A great sense of nostalgia was building in her stomach, but not for the Jenkins. They weren't her real family, but she did have one, back home. Her father, her sister's husband and her sister...

"Barkeep." she said, changing the subject. "Any residences up for sale 'round these parts? I'm lookin' for a nice place to settle down."

"You can stay at my place," the rat muttered, but before he could say more the mongoose splashed his cup into his face with her tail. She glared at him through narrowed eyes before turning back to the bartender.

"The Reynolds' house next to the old bank. They left in the drought and the place probably won't cost ya much if you ask the sheriff."

"Many thanks, sir." Marie said, and with that, snapped some coins onto the counter and slipped out of the saloon.

She walked and looked around and until she found a building with a hanging, varnished sign that read SHERIFF. She came up to the door and knocked once. No answer. She knocked again, and this time she heard a voice inside yelling, "Coming! One second there!" Soon the door opened, and a green chameleon appeared with a badge on his shirt.

"Well! A newcomer, eh?"

"Yes, I suppose I am."

"I'm Sheriff Rango. Now who might you be, and what can I help you with?"

She wondered if this was the same great sheriff who had killed a hawk and saved the town in the same week, and found it hard to believe. The mongoose had manners, though, and gave a small smile.

"Howdy, Sheriff. The name's Mongoose Marie. I've heard that the old Reynolds' house was available. I'm lookin' for a new home, and I reckon I've got enough coin to buy the place."

The sheriff held his chin thoughtfully and seemed to try to remember something.

"Oh! That spot by the old bank. I know what you're sayin'. Weelll, it's up fer grabs if ya want it. Been empty for half a year or more, I won't charge you for it. You might wanna fix the place up though. It's just down over thataway."

Rango pointed down the road a little ways to a tall house.

"No charge, huh? That's mighty kind of you, Mister Rango, and I thank ya kindly. Good day." She smiled sweetly and tipped her hat to the lizard, then set off towards her new home.

And, what a wonderful home it was. It was dusty as hell but Marie soon had the whole place swept out. She beat the beddings and carpets clean and scrubbed at all the windows till she could see clearly out of them. By dusk the whole place was as fresh as a new house, and she plopped down onto the bed.

What a day, she thought. A lucky day. It seemed she had all the luck in the world, as of late, and the churning feelings of nostalgia began to fade as she kicked off her boots and placed her hat on the bed frame. Yawning and looking out of the window at the old bank, she plopped on the bed and fell asleep.

Out in the desert, a certain Rattlesnake Jake was doing some thinking. It was somewhat unsettling, because before Rango had appeared, he had never needed to speculate and doubt like common folk. He was an outlaw. His future should've always been clear ahead of him - one soul after the other. The events with the old mayor and his saving a drowning child just a month ago had shaken him, and now he didn't know what to do. Bloodlust was withering from his heart, and he felt lost. Maybe, he thought, he could pay a visit to Mud. Maybe that would present a glimpse of purpose for him.