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The lone barren desert stretched endlessly for miles on end, the harsh sun beating down on the ground relentlessly without a single cloud to give the slightest relief of shade. Yet it didn't matter to him as he continued to walk, his footsteps vanishing as the wind shifted the sand beneath his legs. To anybody witnessing this seemingly pointless trek they would have thought the man suicidal to even consider walking through endless nothingness towards no apparent destination. Strangely enough though, he had no destination in mind as his red cloak waved as a gust of wind struck forth. Stopping momentarily, he reached around his waist, his fingers gliding against the cold metal of his gun as he grabbed hold of a leather canteen, lifting it to his lips and gladly lapping at the water that had been stored inside. He did not drink enough to quench his thirst however, knowing that it could be several miles or more before he came across another place where he could refill his supplies.
Placing it securely back in its prior position, his ears twitched slightly as he picked up an unnatural sound coming from across the desert plains. He didn't move for the longest of moments before his eyes glided up to see a rickety old truck driving towards him, clouds of sand being kicked up from the tires. His fingers reflexively caressed the barrel of his gun, the possibility of these people being out for blood passing through his mind. He would not kill them however, easily knowing that with the limited number of bullets he had in his position he would have to shoot sparingly. His eyes picked up the glint of metal over the top of his sunglasses before a number of assault rifle bullets crashed in the sand around him whilst others pierced through his cloak, tearing the ruined material even further. As quick as lightning his hand whipped out from its hiding place, his heavy pistol tightly held within it's grasp as more and more bullets were fired at him. It mattered not though as he pulled down on the trigger, a single bullet being fired out of the cylinder soaring through the air at an unfathomable speed before colliding with the front left wheel of the truck.
The result was instantaneous as the driver quickly lost control of the vehicle on the sandy terrain. No matter how hard he tried to regain control it was of little use as the steering jarred and the truck began to tilt and eventually rolled across the ground, sending the men who had been riding in the back soaring through the air. Once the dust had settled, it was clear that none of the men were in a position to fight anymore, only one of them remaining conscious but only for a brief moment before the handle of the man's gun came crashing down upon his head.
As soon as he had restocked on food, water and ammo, the man dragged each of the bodies underneath the shade of the upside down ute, the tray creating a perfect canopy. When he was satisfied with his job, he smirked before preparing to start off on his trek once again, only to notice a handful of papers sitting within the inside of the truck. Reaching through the broken glass, his fingers gripped a specific sheet, his eyes gliding over the information of a wanted criminal whose bounty was the largest in history. There was no picture however, which made him quite relieved to a certain extent. A sigh escaped his lips as he ran his fingers through his hair, wondering if these people had specifically been targeting this criminal when they had come across him. He released his grip, allowing the paper to soar through the air as a gust of wind blew it into the distance, his name written across the base of the sheet.
Vash the Stampede.
A single fan was all that prevented the room from being hotter than the barren wasteland outside. Yet the atmosphere inside the small bar was anything but sweltering as men yelled and laughed over the sound of one another, drinking their sorrows away to the point where heat was no longer a factor. A lone bar woman stood away from the patrons, using a dirty rag to clean used glassware to the best of her ability, not like it mattered much. She just wanted something to do to avoid the lecherous glares she received from a number of the men from time to time.
Hiding from the sight of the patrons was an old double barreled shotgun, if the need were to arise to use it. She had never actually picked up the gun before but her boss had always told her that it was always loaded, though she had never checked herself. Her eyes shifted as the door to the bar swung open wide, revealing a blonde haired man standing there, orange sunglasses adorning the bridge of his nose. As one everybody in the saloon stopped and turned towards the newcomer as they stepped forward, their footsteps seeming to echo as the door hinges creaked as the oak board slipped back into place.
With a soft thud, the man's rear end planted itself upon a dusty stool, the cushion doing little to prevent the man's buttocks from pressing against the wooden frame. He raised a single finger, the barmaid understanding the symbol as the man wanting a drink. Placing down her rag, she took the glass she had been polishing and began pouring him the cheapest drink they had available. The exchange was made in silence as the man placed the necessary number of coins on the counter. As he lifted the drink to his lips, he felt the familiar touch of cold metal press against the side of his head, the rest of the bar having recognized him by word of mouth alone.
"You know," said a gruff voice, his breath smelling of alcohol as driblets of beer were soaked in his shaggy beard. "There's a reeeeal famous person we heard of that has blonde hair and wears a red coat. And you know what, that man is going to make us very, very rich."
"Really," said the man, his voice emotionless as he sipped on the drink in his hand. "How do you know that I'm this person?"
"Don't lie, we know you're the one who everybody talks about, Vash the Stampede!" The barmaid dropped the glass she had been holding when she heard the name muttered, the item shattering into tiny shards as it collided with the floorboards.
"Well you found me but here's the predicament, are you really happy sharing the bounty on my head between all twelve of you?" asked Vash, causing all of the men to look at one another, the momentary trust between all of them seemingly vanished. The thought of being shot in the back suddenly weighed heavily on everybody's mind and their eyes shifted from one man to the stare down would continue on for several minutes before a set of eyes settled back on Vash or where he should have been at least to find the stool empty and the door to the saloon swinging back and forth. It didn't take long for them to realize what they had been tricked and they all ran out of the door as quickly as they could.
When the door finally came to a stop, only then did Vash peer from the other side of the counter, his decoy having worked. With an exasperated sigh, he stood up only to once again find a cold barrel pressed against his head, this time though the weapon was being wielded by the barmaid. Looking over, he could see that she was shivering, clearly she was frightened of the man in front of her but was willing to protect herself.
"Look," started Vash but his voice only caused her to scream and pull the trigger, only for nothing to be fired. Frantically, she repeatedly pulled the trigger praying something would happen but no shots rang out from either of the cylinders. Clearing his throat, Vash caught the barmaids attention and showed the two shotgun shells clasped within his grasp. "Thanks for the drink," he said as he hopped over the counter, gently placing the shells on the bar top. Frantically, she reached for the shells, desperately trying to jam them into place but by the time she had them loaded the bar was empty, no sign of the infamous man anywhere to be seen.
Once again he found himself trekking through the endless nothingness, having once again escaped men who had been after the bounty on his head. No matter where he went, he found no peace, he found nobody to socialize with and he found nowhere to belong. All he ever found was the bitter taste of hatred, isolation and nowhere to rest his head. Yet despite all this, Vash the Stampede always kept his head high in the hope that someday, somewhere, he would find that special place where he could relax, be happy and most of all, be accepted. Until then however, he would keep walking alone through the desert, alone.
And with this we not only welcome Wonder From Down Under into Team Dragon Star, but also to this wonderful site we all spend hours and hours on. Hope you enjoyed this short but sweet One Shot and we hope to hear from you soon. Peace