Kiyomisa: Hey hi! This is just a short little thing I wrote for my creative writing class. Wolfwood is my favorite character, though the others are right behind him. Oh, and I got the idea for the kids calling him "Papa Wolf" from Little Men, where they call Jo and Fredrick Mama and Papa Baher. * shrugs * I thought it was cute. Don't forget to review ^_~ ____________________________________________________________________________ _________

Peace on Gunsmoke A man walked through the desert, his hair the color of a crow's wing plastered to his forehead with sweat. A cigarette butt clung gamely to his dry lip, having burned out hours before. A large, cross-shaped bundle was strapped to his back with a number of leather strips, and on his cuffs were two small crosses. His arms cradled a small child. A girl of five or six with hair the color of expensive burgundy and skin like the sweetest milk chocolate. Her eyes were closed and she lay limply in his embrace, her breathing shallow. Just a little further, Wolfwood. The church can't be too far now, he thought as his feet plodded forward with their own determination. He was hungry. The last time he had eaten was a day ago, before he began giving his ratios to the girl. Little Canna. Named for the red flower, her survival depended on him. He glanced up at the double suns. Just an hour or two till sunset. Means it's maybe.eight or so. I'm not sure Canna could survive a freezing desert night. Why God? Why'd you break my motorcycle? I'm just Nicholas D. Wolfwood. I've never done anything to you! The smaller sun seemed to wink at him, mocking his pitiful attempt to cross the harsh land on foot. But, if the first settlers on the hot planet Stryfe had managed to do so, so would he. After all, only a hundred and thirty years ago the first people had crashed here. People now a days couldn't be too much softer, could they? They'd struggled their way across the geyser flats, the sand traps, and the sweltering and poisonous tropical jungle in the corner of the known lands. Surely he could keep walking for another hour or so. He continued to go forward, trying to keep Canna in his shadow. He knew the other kids would do their best to help her fit in. Adam, the youngest with platinum blonde hair, had a bright smile and an open and trusting nature. He could befriend anyone and anything. Wolfwood couldn't count the number of times Adam had rescued some small creature, nursed it back to health and set it free again. He had even cared for a luote pup, a canine indigenous to Stryfe. Then there was Kel, a dark skinned whirlwind of activity. There wasn't a single tall thing at the orphanage that she hadn't climbed, nor a hidden spot she hadn't found. Once, after Lillian snapped at her, she climbed to the top of the small bell tower and refused to come down. Wolfwood had climbed up with a blanket and spent the night on the roof with the eight year old. Both caught bad colds and had to be tended to by 15- year-old Lillian. Lillian. She acted as prim and proper as a school marm; although she never tried to make the other children 'behave'. She acted as a mother figure to the kids, being the eldest. She was the one left in charge whenever Wolfwood went on business trips.

There was a shimmer at the top of the hill. Sunlight reflected off of glass, he guessed. If it isn't a cursed mirage. That'd just be my luck! As he trundled automatically onward, sounds reached his ears. Laughter, shouting, running feet and a frazzled sounding voice calling out, "Dinner time!" "Thank the Lord!" Wolfwood sighed and a smile appeared on his lips. Now he could make out the three children playing tag near the isolated chapel, where a young woman with mouse-brown hair stood in the doorway trying to get them to come in. Adam was the first to see the pair heading towards them. "Papa Wolf!" At his cry the children all changed course and ran towards him, taking up the joyous cry. "Hey kids!" Adam and Kel tackled his legs with enthusiastic hugs, almost knocking him down. The ten year old, Jet, hugged him less roughly, spying his precious cargo. "Papa Wolf, you were gone a really long time!" Kel accused, looking up at him with large, earthy eyes. "I know, I know. I'm sorry Kel. But I'm back for a long time this time. I got a lot of money on this last trip." "Is that our new sister you wrote us about?" Jet asked with an excited air as he peered at Canna curiously. "Yes Jet. Her name is Canna. She's had a rough couple of weeks and she needs rest." Lillian straightened her skirt and held her arms out. "Here, I'll put her in my bed for now. I can pull out a mattress until we get another bed." "Thanks Lil." Wolfwood handed Canna to her and unshouldered his cross, leaning it against the front wall. The kids excitedly told him all about the adventures they'd had during his past trip, while he strode over to the pump and began washing the grime of travel from his face. "Sounds like a lot happened while I was gone. Now, did I hear something about dinner?" Adam laughed and tugged on his hand. "This way, Papa Wolf!" With the first laugh he'd had in weeks, Wolfwood allowed himself to be led inside.

"More?" Lillian asked the group as she held up the almost empty pot. Everyone shook their heads. "No thanks. I'm stuffed I don't think that I could eat another bite." Since the children had already told him of all of their adventures, it was now Wolfwood's turn. "Well, I'd just arrived in New Colorado City when I heard about a bandit gang calling themselves The Terror. They'd been terrorizing the caravans and traders traveling in and out of the city. A bunch of really nasty guys." "Did ya teach 'em a lesson, Papa Wolf?" Kel asked eagerly, brushing ebony bangs out of her eyes. Wolfwood gave her a look. "Kel," he said warningly. "God tells us to value forgiveness over punishment." Kel bowed her head. "Yes Papa Wolf." She raised her eyes to look at him through her lashes. "So.did ya?" Wolfwood laughed. "Yes I did. And that's how I found Canna. She was a survivor of their last attack." "Now it's past your guys' bedtime," Lillian said as she began to clear away the dishes. "Awwww!" the children chorused, but they all went at Wolfwood's look. He helped Lillian clear the table while Kel, Adam and Jet brushed their teeth and changed into their jammies. "We're ready, Papa Wolf!" Kel called out. As the loudest of them, she was usually elected to be their spokesman. Wolfwood tucked them in, and went back to the small, cozy parlor. "So how old do you think Canna is?" Lillian asked sitting down on the chair across from him. "She's five. Told me so herself." Wolfwood ran a tired hand across the back of his neck. He poured himself a shot-glass of whiskey from the side table and stared into it for a moment. "When I found her, she was crying over the body of her mother," he finally said. Wolfwood downed the drink, but didn't pour himself another glass. "Ooh! The poor kid. I hope she'll be okay." Lillian glanced down the hallway towards the girls' room. "Yeah. I'm just glad we have enough money now. I won't have to leave for a few years." "A few.years?" Lillian looked back at him with a quizzical frown. "How much money did you get?" "Twenty million." "Twen.that'll last us forever!" Wolfwood laughed. "Nothing lasts forever. But it will last a good while. Longer than any of you will be staying here." Lillian just looked at him for a moment, thinking to herself. Then she shook her head and stood up. "Good night, Papa Wolf. Be sure to get some sleep, okay?" She kissed him on the cheek and went to bed. Wolfwood sat up a bit longer, recalling the events of New Colorado.

The Terror of New Colorado were five men, each with a twenty million- dollar bounty on their heads. Completely ruthless, they attacked anyone, no matter the number of people. Entire caravans were slaughtered, the wreckage slowly burning down to the sand. No one could leave the town. Wolfwood had found his first lead on them in a bar, listening to the various stories that always circulated in such places: "Another one?" "Yeah. Only two survivors. North side of town." "It's always the north side now a days." He then joined an adventurous caravan, willing to take the risk of setting out. No one had thought the priest much use. They came at noon, the five beserkers, with guns spraying and flares being used like the torches of old. A guard fell next to Wolfwood, shot through his left eye. Wolfwood picked up the man's rifle began firing back with short, precise bursts. One by one, the Terror fell with non-lethal wounds. There had been a time when Wolfwood would have just killed them; but that was before he'd met an angel. And even though the man claimed to be no one special, Wolfwood remained convinced that if he wasn't an angel, he was at least touched. Wolfwood had not escaped unharmed. A bullet had passed clean through his upper arm, centimeters away from the bone. After he and the remaining guards made sure the five weren't going anywhere, Wolfwood and two others began searching for survivors. That was when he found Canna. She had looked on her mother with confused, scared tears and shaken her, trying to get her to wake up. When Wolfwood had gently stroked her hair, she had thrown herself into his lap, sobbing and wailing. Wolfwood had only accepted one of the bounties, insisting that rest went to the caravan's survivors. Canna refused to leave his side, and as she had no remaining family anyway, Wolfwood took her in hand and began the journey back to the only place on Stryfe he could call home. It was a three week journey, made three days longer by the breaking down of his motorcycle. Wolfwood lost more motorcycles that way.

Wolfwood woke up the next morning, feeling better than he had in weeks. Sleeping in your own bed at home does that to a man. He glanced at the clock on the sparse dresser next to his bed. One o'clock? I must've stayed up too late last night. Better get up and make sure the kids haven't gotten into trouble. He sat up and dressed quickly before striding outside to look for his children. Lilian was washing clothes at the water pump and Adam was helping by playing with the bubbles that surfaced on the water in the large metal tub. Jet was chasing Kel because she had slipped a small handful of mud down the back of his shirt. Kel screamed and hid behind Wolfwood. "Save me Papa Wolf! Jet's gonna get me!" "Okay, I'll help you." Wolfwood gathered her into his arms, holding her firmly. "Okay Jet, you can tickle her now." Jet grinned and began his assault, while Kel laughed and shrieked as she struggled to get away from the both of them. Soon Adam left Lilian to the washing and began tickling Wolfwood's sides. Wolfwood let go of Kel, caught Adam and spun him around. "Whee! I'm a pilot!" Adam shrieked with joy. Suddenly a very different shriek stopped them all in their tracks. "Lilian!" Wolfwood glanced over at the water pump, to see Lilian held captive by a grimy, wiry man. One of the Terror. "Get into the house and stay there until I come for you," Wolfwood ordered the other children quietly. They ran into the church, but peered out of the window. The other four stepped up from behind the hill, chuckling to themselves. "Well, well preacher man. I hope you've said all yer prayers, 'cause yer gonna meet your maker real quick-like," the leader said, pointing a rather large revolver at Wolfwood. "Let the girl go. It's me you want." The leader shook his head. "I don't think so. She's old enough for some...fun. But we aim to see you dead first. No one humiliates the Terror and gets away with it." Wolfwood studied Lilian's captor for a moment, gauging his chances of success. Quickly he kicked up a small rock and threw it at the wiry man. With a startled yelp, he let go of Lilian. "Run!" And Lilian fled towards the house, as the Terror opened fire at Wolfwood, who dodged behind the large pillar near the doorway. During a brief lull, while the Terror reloaded, Wolfwood grabbed the large cross and used it as a shield as he moved into the open. He quickly stripped away the leather straps, holding on the white cloth covering and revealed his large metal cross. With a tap, the two arms opened up giving Wolfwood access to the twelve handguns inside. Grabbing two at a time, he fired rapidly at the Terror, who all managed to find covering. Wolfwood paused, then cursed as he realized he hadn't replenished the amo in the guns yet. The Terror fired at him again, and he grabbed the cross and dodged behind the pillar again. "Okay, time to bring out the big gun." With a quick adjustment, the long leg of the cross opened up, becoming a rather large, rapid fire machine gun. He dodged out and sprayed the area, catching three of them. The leader fired back, nicking Wolfwood's shoulder, and forcing him to retreat. The bullet was lodged in the bone. Kel screamed from the window and tried to climb out to help him. "Lil! Get them away from the windows!" Wolfwood yelled over his shoulder before running out again and letting loose another volley. Silence. Wolfwood scanned the area. Four inert bodies. Shit! Where'd the fifth one go? Damn my shoulder hurts. Wolfwood discarded the large chain gun in favor of a lighter pistal with some amo left and jogged as quietly as possible around to the back, following some hastily made foot prints. He could hear the kids yelling. Dear God, no! He ran through the back door, to see the man holding Canna to him, his revolver pressed to her small head. She was sobbing and crying, Kel and Jet were yelling angrilly at him, Adam was silent with fear and Lilian was sheilding them with her body. The Terror didn't know Wolfwood was there, he was too intent on threatening Lilian. Without saying a word, Wolfwood brought the gun up and shot the man through the head. Canna scrambled away as the body fell, and Lilian covered Jet and Kel's eyes. The pain finally became too much for Wolfwood and he fell to his knees. "Papa Wolf!" Lilian screamed and rushed forward. She used her skirt to stop the flow of blood. "Jet, Kel, get me some towels! Adam, take Canna and get me some water." They rushed off to fulfill her orders. Wolfwood looked up at her, wishing he could erase the look of fear on her face. "I'm all right Lil. Nothin' a trip to the town doctor won't fix." He winced as the pressure hit the bullet. Lilian shifted her hands and the pain receeded. "Don't be rediculous. The doctor's half a day's travel away, and you're in no condition to go anywhere! We'll send for him, so you just stay with us and rest up in bed," she told him fiercly through tears. Wolfwood smiled weakly. "Can't argue with that." The others returned with thier objects, and Lilian went to work cleaning the wound as best as she could. It wasn't bleeding too badly, and Wolfwood was able to walk to his room after Lilian bandaged him up. Lilian left immediatly for the doctor, leaving the others with strict instructions to be quiet and to treat Wolfwood nicely. Wolfwood went in and out of unconsciousness, seeing dead friends and old companions in his dreams. But the children were always there; Canna curled up next to him on the bed, Adam sitting crosslegged on the end of the bed, Kel sitting nervously on the dresser and Jet had begun reading them all a book, being the best reader. Lilian, a few sherrif's men, and the doctor returned quite late in the night, to find all of the kids alseep in Wolfwood's room. She put them to bed and let the doctor get to work, while the sherrif and his men worked on taking care of the Terror.

"The bullet's been removed, and he'll still be able to use his arm, in a month or so. Until then, he should avoid using it, or doing any sort of strenuos activity." "Of course doctor. It's really late. Would you like to stay in the guest room tonight?" Lilian asked, glancing at the clock; 3:27. The doctor accepted and left before noon the next day. Wolfwood woke up in the afternoon and reassured all of his kids. He frowned when he heard the doctors orders. "And just how am I supposed to play with you guys if I can't do anything strenuos for a month?" "There's always card games, Papa Wolf," Jet suggested. Kel nodded. "Yeah, and we can play all sorts of word games. And Lilian could read us stories all day." "I don't think so! Some one has to cook, but I'm sure Jet could. And Adam could probably find a pet for the month or so," Lilian said as she straigtened the room. "Papa Wolf," Canna tugged on his sleeve to get his attention, "what should I do?" "Hmmm, why don't you sing us all a song?" he suggested. Canna considered it, then started to sing a well known nursery rhyme. Her voice was sweet and clear, if not quite in tune, and everyone sang along with her. It was easier for Wolfwood to sing, now that he knew the Terror wouldn't be back to hurt his children. And as long as Wolfwood was alive, no one would.