Posted 25 June 2012 - 06:32 AM
Dale’s Crick, Texas – a small frontier town thriving on the cattle trade in the late spring of the year 1807. The hour was late and the dimly-lit streets were barren. Light still shown out from only one building – the town tavern, naturally.
“Yeehhhh… welp, Gretchen, thinkin ‘bout shutten’ ‘er down for the night…” Jed Skinner spit a wad of Texas longhorn dip from his jaw onto the whiskey-stained barroom floor.
“I reckin’ you’re right, Jed! Once old man Jackson’s done drinkin’ I’d reckin’ the night’s ‘bout over!” said his wife as she ran a filthy rag over the counter top and began stacking stools in the corner in preparation for closing the saloon.
The swinging gate slammed open hard and the outline of a tall stranger in a full-length duster could be seen staggering in from the dusty, lamp-lit street. He wore a wide-brimmed hat obscuring his face and by his labored walk, seemed to be on his last legs. He almost flung himself over a stool and slouched across the bar. He uttered a single word with a parched gasp, “Drink…”
“Tell ya what pilgrim, we was jes’ fixin’ to close, but I ‘spose we can fix you up somethin’” Jed peered into a Mason jar with his one good eye, searching briefly for spider-webs and, seeing none, poured a drought of pungent brown liquor to the half-way mark.
The stranger tilted the jar back and swallowed the contents with a hoarse cough. Jed scratched his jaw, this stranger looked damn thirsty. Who knows, he might have walked miles through the desert to their small town.
“What you call yourself stranger… And where is you from?” he drawled softly.
The wide-brimmed hat suddenly rose with an irritated growl and Jed and Gretchen’s jaws dropped at the sight of the distended and plainly inhuman face beneath.
“I come from… let’s see, ah yes… the Circus… you see, I have escaped my cruel master there and now live the life of a vagabond…” He looked down at his drink and continued, “…And you may call me ‘Horse-face’ or if it’s easier, simply, Bill.”
“Woowee you ain’t kiddin’ boy! Circus musta’ made a killin’ off that ugly mug! Er… uh… sorry…” He shook his head at the bizarre stranger.
“Well, I tell ya’… gonna be mighty hard for you to find a place to hole up for the night ‘round here. See, folk ain’t take none too much a likin’ to strange folk passing through these parts… Figure you might wanna be movin’ on b’for the mornin’ pardner…”
“I don’t think that is likely,” the tall stranger replied slowly, “Without me, your town will face its doom helplessly… you see, I am pursued by a beast with power beyond your comprehension!”
Jed and Gretchen looked at each other blankly.
“Even though the tale of the escaped circus freak might be easier for the primitive citizens of this sphere to digest, I feel an obligation to tell you the truth of my origin…”
He paused, pondering how to properly put his story into words, before recounting the events which had led him to his present predicament.
“My tale began three days ago, in the Gamma Quadrant – a far-distant star system. My vessel, Skuttlebutt, had detected an unusual energy signature from a nearby class-3 planet and I decided to investigate, thinking it might perhaps be a distress signal…”
“I dropped out of hyper-space only to find myself directly in the line of fire of the batteries of a heavy battleship of unknown origin! My shields held and I returned fire, thus being immediately swept up into the fray of an impromptu interstellar naval battle. My intervention had apparently turned the tide against a vast offensive aimed towards some capital world of an unknown civilization…”
“The defenders hailed me and informed me that they had been attacked by demon-possessed minions of a powerful evil force known as the Gods of Chaos. The battle was fierce and lasted seven hours, after which the Chaos flagship, commanded by the demon lord’s ‘Warmaster’, withdrew and made an attempt to retreat into some type of travel portal. I managed to lock on to its hull with a tractor beam and was ripped from the ordinary space-time continuum into a hellish maelstrom of other-space.”
“Another drink, if you don’t mind!” The equine humanoid put forth, breaking the stunned stares of his audience into action. After his glass had been refilled he continued.
“Apparently the drag caused by my ship threw the trajectory of travel off course radically and as our ships emerged from the miasma, I realized we were in a completely uncharted sector. Our ships exchanged fire and unfortunately I was far outgunned. I escaped to the atmosphere of a nearby planet as Skuttlebutt was reduced to drifting orbital slag. The exchange had apparently destroyed the warp capabilities of my enemy’s ship as well, that is all I can surmise as an explanation…”
“As I hurled towards the dry land below, I saw their ship release a drop pod bearing the Chaos Lords’ mark upon it… I knew that this must have been the ship’s master in pursuit of me. I attempted to reverse trajectory and return to space of my own power, but the atmosphere held little cover and I was stuck by the ship’s heavy guns, sending me crashing once again to the surface. I began to postulate that at ground level, apparently, I was below the capabilities of their radar to detect since they did not fire again. Over a small mountain range I witnessed the drop pod make its landfall and knew that this demon being would do its utmost to pursue and slay me. I wandered the desert for two days in search of refuge with which to gain a respite to bolster my strength and rally against this deadly foe… perhaps I have found it here?”
He paused and snorted questioningly.
Jed spit on the floor and shook his head. “Boy, I ain’t gonna lie to ya son… you’re either drunk as hell or the sun done baked your brains right outta your damn skull!”
Gretchen cackled loudly and spoke. “Jed, what did you think you was talkin’ to? He’s a got-damn circus freak... ain’t none that space mumbo-jumbo amount to sh!t no how! I tell ya, them circus folk is battier than a loon!”
Jed thrust his tobacco-dripping jaw out and rolled his eyes in rude disbelief, “Gretchen, what in Sam-hell tarnayshin’ sense does that make? A bat and a loon is two different animal’!”
Gretchen appeared to get angry over this remark, “Jed, now you is soundin’ a lot like one uh them professor-type, kno’ wit all, city folk… you ain’t so smart, I bet you ain’t never done seen neither them thangs b’for!”
Their quarreling was interrupted as a gunshot rang out in the blood-red dawn sky outside the saloon’s door. The whinny of horses seemed to bring a foreboding silence over the bartender and his wife.
The horse-faced stranger threw his coat open and drew out a golden warhammer with a flourish. “The Demon is here! Flee good folk, lest you be felled by the unleashing of our full powers!”
Jed’s eyes stared wide-open at Bill as he hissed angrily in reply. “Keep... yer durn… malth... SHUT! Them’s rustlers out there! Old Dwight Earl’s gang if I reckin’ right!”
The tension dropped from the horse-man’s shoulders and he strode calmly to the exit. A quick peek confirmed the lack of demonic beings and instead, the presence of roughly a dozen men on horseback. The reek of booze could be detected at a distance wafting from the posse and their wild shouts made it clear – they were looking for trouble.
Bill trotted out to the center of the town square and slowly turned to face the gathered outlaws. He addressed the men in a commanding shout, booking no room for argument.
“Now listen to what I have to say! I do not care what deeds you have done in the past, I simply demand that you leave this place at once… your very lives depend on it, for a battle of cataclysmic proportions is about to shake this land and it would not be wise to be here when it commences!”
At first there was no reaction at all. Then one of the men snorted and began a slow-rolling laugh. “Look… lookit’ the horsie talkin’! I reckin’ that cactus juice got me seein’ thangs ‘gyin… any y’all heard him talkin’?”
“A’hyuh… a’hyuh… I dun heard it too!” Another man swayed in the saddle and tried hard to point his finger squarely in Bill’s direction, with great difficulty.
Bill’s jaw clenched in frustration, civilian casualties must be prevented, even if they were lowly criminals. A plan slowly began to coalesce in his mind.
“You boys best listen up now! I’m the new sheriff in this town, and those who know me well, they just call me…”
He paused for dramatic effect before throwing his hat into the dust at his feet and revealing his shocking visage to the inebriated outlaws…
“…WILD BILL HORSEFACE!”
The men stared on, clearly captivated by his dramatic tone and presence.
“I was raised on the plains by buffalo after natives killed my parents… I learned how to kill and eat a man when food got scarce in the winter, I learned to really, really appreciate the taste…”
“My favorite is rustlers, I tell ya… They got this tang to ‘em, specially when ya skin ‘em and grill ‘em on a slow mesquite coal-fire… Ain’t nothin’ like it!” Bill picked his large buck-teeth nonchalantly as if remembering a fine dish he had once eaten.
The horrified men were on the verge of breaking into frenzied flight when suddenly the gang’s leader sauntered forth and cut Bill off mid-sentence.
“Who gives a damn what this ugly sumumabitch likes ta eat?! … I ain’t bookin’ no more horseplay or horse-stories!” The leader (presumably Dwight Earl himself) cocked the hammers on his double-barreled shotgun and continued in a confident drawl.
“Stranger, I tell ya what now… I’m gonna do ya like I did ol’ Betsy when she broke her leg last fall! Then I’m gonna skin yer hide and make yer face into a brand new saddle… how ya like them apples?”
A deep and distorted throb shook the ground, all those gathered stared around themselves in surprise before realizing it was a laugh.
“My good maaaaaaaaan, do you not see the irony in your words? Of *course* he would like ‘them apples’… He is called Horseface, is he not?”
The outlaws spun about to gaze in awe at the towering, armored figure that now lay positioned, standing arms-crossed directly blocking the main exit road to the town.
Beta Ray Bill’s left hand slowly slid down the length of his long face in aggravation. Perhaps he was facing an honorable opponent who would allow the bystanders a chance to flee before the devastating clash took place…
“Go on now… GIT!” roared the demonic being, and punctuated his command by firing a massive bolt-pistol into the air with a shock of thunder that raised a massive cloud of dust and nearly toppled several of the men from their panicked mounts.
Bill’s eyes flickered down toward the enchanted hammer slung from his belt. His right hand inched towards the strap…
Horus the Warmaster smiled broadly as his clenching and unclenching fingers caressed the hilt of an unholy blade at his hip…
The sun broke over the horizon and all was silent in anticipation except the lonely whistle of the wind through a longhorn skull out in the distance.
Posted 26 June 2012 - 07:49 AM
Posted 26 June 2012 - 02:25 PM
Posted 26 June 2012 - 06:09 PM
Posted 26 June 2012 - 09:08 PM
Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:50 AM
Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:26 PM
A Man Called Horseface
Bill trotted out to the center of the town square...
Posted 30 June 2012 - 07:15 AM
D Plot was't interesting.
Beta Ray Bill: 15
Horus (Warhammer 40,000): 14
Posted 30 June 2012 - 10:01 AM
You gave me a 'D' for an uninteresting plot. Yet in that short explanation of your reasoning for the grade, you spelled Wasn't incorrectly. You see, you are far from perfect yourself. No one likes a hypocrite!
Posted 30 June 2012 - 02:51 PM
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