Waves crash their timeless beat on the gargantuan metal legs of the Gates, a bridge that stretches across the ocean connecting two masses of land. Their torrent is but a faint splash from atop the northern cliff, the gusts of wind deafen the natural music. The shoreline glistens; there are no clouds in sight to block out the sun. From here the two-tailed squirrel can appreciate the beauty while it has its morning meal, another squirrel.
The roar of engines only tickles its curiosity; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Just as it’s about to take its last bite, the poor little guy gets flattened by a white walled tire and dragged into the wheel arch, all this goes unnoticed by the two men inside.
Marty sits in the passenger seat watching the Gates get closer. Visualizing the events that will happen has become common practice. The clunk of the unused seat-belt beats rhythmically in step to his mental actions. Seven Dandies will be there to pick up the cabs; Arthur should be by himself, though he has been known to travel with a bodyguard or two. That makes it ten guys max; at least there won’t be any sharing.
“I fink we ought ter look out fer a place to hide,” Bart says, rolling down his window and lighting a cigarette. Passing the tin over to Marty, he adds, “Unless you want ter wait fer them out on the bridge, guns ready.”
“That sounds like fun, but watching them scatter would be so much better.” Marty lights a cigarette, smiling at the thought of their scared expressions.
Not long after, Bart turns off the main road and waves the others to continue on for a bit. He zigzags around shrubs, and finally they stop near the edge of a cliff right over the bridge. Bart climbs out with a pair of binoculars and finds the Mutts, and with a small mirror he directs them to a good spot to hide. Marty gets to work hiding the cab and taking out their equipment. Guns holstered he pulls out the ropes, all with nooses at one end and hooks at the other.
He tosses them over his head so they lie across his chest to the opposite hip. Spitting out the cigarette stub, he hauls out the flamethrower, which Bart has lovingly named Herbert. Marty helps Bart put it on and they both walk to the cliff’s edge and wait for Arthur to arrive. Soon from the other side of the bridge a small dust cloud signals the appearance of a fleet of cabs, the Dandies have arrived.
A golden semi, long since separated from its cargo, leads the pack. At the flanks are two purple SUVs. They come to a stop a few hundred feet from the other end of the bridge, where the Mutts wait for the ambush. There is no need for the binoculars to see the men getting out of the SUVs. They make Hog-Tied look like a child, their arms must be the size of the tires they road on. Their clinging cloths add to the look of massiveness, one has even torn his shirt from apparently breathing too forcefully.
The torn shirt beast walks to the semi and opens the door, what climes out is… disappointing. A young boy, no more than twenty, hops out and dusts off his black slacks and ruffled shirt. As he walks out ahead of the semi his boots sparkle like the water below, Marty has to suffocate Bart to stop his giggling.
“What the good fuck is wiv the Dandies sending a lad ter fight?”
“They don’t know about the fight, Barty. I don’t see Arthur, but I do see twelve gorillas,” from behind them, the sounds of a half-dozen engines ring across the hills, “and there are the Angels.”
The Dandies hear it too, and with a light jab to the grill of the semi, the young boy opens a small armory hidden inside. The gorillas gear up and stand menacingly, waiting for the Angles. Six gangster sedans glimmer their way onto the bridge, turn in unison and stop perpendicular to it. What comes out, neither the Mutts nor the Dandies could have expected. From each cab, two of the most beautiful women ever seen step out, each with handguns strapped to their hips, shotguns on their backs, and rifles in hand.
“Holly shite Marty, that be the Bitches,” Bart says in awe. Yes, it sounds like a derogatory term for women, but they chose the name.
The Bitches, like the Mutts, are a roving Sect of their respective gangs, in this case the Angels. They have more blood on the ends of their knives then Marty could ever dream of having. Legend has it that no Bitch has ever died in battle, instead they tire from age and become teachers for the next generation.
Bart taps Marty on the shoulder, snapping him out of his little fantasy, and points down the cliff. Hooking one of the nooses to the front of their cab, they toss the rope down the side of the cliff facing away from the bridge. They make their way down as carefully as possible. Bart really hates Herbert right now; the tank keeps getting caught in the shrubs. By the time they make it onto the bridge the exchange has already started. Marty slowly makes his way to the front cab, watching the Bitches and the Dandies make their deal, while Bart tries to signal the Mutts without giving themselves away.
“Gwyneth darling, I’m surprised that you would ask for so much when all you’re giving me is six vehicles. We both know this behemoth is worth more with its wonderful modifications.” The young Dandy says to the closest woman. She, undoubtedly the leader, stands facing away from Marty, with her arms crossed and all her weight on one hip. He knows she doesn’t like the answer.
“First off, if you call me darling again I will blow your nuts off,” Gwyneth says, uncrossing her arms, “and secondly, the only way you could possibly pay for all of these beauties is by putting all those guns back in the pretty little box you built.”
The Bitches laugh at the boy’s never-in-my-life expression. Stomping his foot doesn’t help him any. Marty can’t help but chuckle to himself. A swat to the back of the head tells him Barty doesn’t like all the noise he’s making, when he turns to give him a good kick he is greeted by the Mutts crouched with weapons ready.
“Well then, let me take a good look at the beast, who knows, I might lower the price a bit.” Gwyneth sighs, Marty twists to watch her.
She walks towards the semi, bumping the boy as she passes him. Marty gets a good look at her as she examines it. Her uniform is the same as all the others; combat boots, dark brown pants, and black shirt, all of it snug to the body most likely for maneuverability, but that’s not what’s on Marty’s mind. Her sunglasses glisten in the sun as she lifts the hood, and climbs on the front tire and leans over the side to look inside.
“Look mate, I like nice arses the same as any uv’er bloke, jus’ keep in mind we might have ter kill her,” Bart whispers to Marty, who nods his head without looking back. Cracking his neck, Marty pushes the childish fantasies aside and prepares his mind again for the inevitable fight.
A sudden realization comes over him; he turns to face the others again and whispers, “We are outnumbered two to one.”
“Well then let’s hope their deal goes bad and they kill each other before they see us.” Peter the Mutt says through his thick beard. They all look at him confused. “What? You and Bart have been talking all this time I thought one of us should have a say in this too.”
“No mate, we aint surprised at that… since when are you from the south?”
“Yeah I thought you were from Reno—” a pair sunglasses bounce off the hood of the cab Marty is hiding behind. He picks them up and looks over the headlight.
Some of the gorillas have taken hold of a couple of the Bitches, while the boy beats Gwyneth in the ribs with his sparkle boots. The top of the semi has apparently been hiding two other young Dandies, they sit giggling at the whole thing while aiming their machine gun at the women not held by massive arms.
With two pops, Marty hits both turret Dandies, who slump forward and fall sickeningly neck-first onto the bridge. With the Dandy guard distracted, the Bitches haul ass to the nearest cab for cover. After the gunshots, the shiny boot Dandy squeals and flies into the arms of his Guard, leaving Gwyneth a mess on the asphalt. Marty runs forward, pulling the trigger, and takes down another man before getting to her and dragging her behind a cab.
“Who the fuck are you?” she yells through a bloody nose.
“I’m here to help, princess.” In response she digs her knuckles into his face. “What in the fuck is your deal?”
“Don’t call me princess!”
“KILL THEM ALL!”
The cabs are pelted with a hailstorm of lead. Taking a deep breath, Marty looks over at Bart and the rest of the Mutts. Holding out his revolver, he kisses the barrel and they all do the same. There isn’t any reason not to go in style, so he puts on the sunglasses, he is ready to die. A calm washes over him as the thought that has been swimming in the back of his mind comes bursting to the surface, I am ready to die.
The world slows down to a heartbeat every two seconds, my head is clear. I have one bullet left in the chamber, and the princess and I are in one hell of a spot. We need to get over to the Mutts and Bitches to have any sort of a chance.
“Dive over to the other side and I’ll cover your ass,” she grunts at me, spitting a glob of blood on the ground. She takes her rifle and shoots wildly through the busted window. Taking her cue, I leap across the gap between me and Bart, firing my last round into the front of the nearest SUV.
I quickly reload, pull out the other revolver, and blast five shots in succession from under the cab at the legs of one of the gorillas, it doesn’t faze him. Even the one I shot when I went for the princess is up and shooting. To make matters worse it sounds like backup is coming, we are fucked.
Pulling out his lighter, Bart lights Herbert, throws back his head, and cries out, “Mutts, go fetch me a dead Dandy!”
Like the dutiful soldiers that they are, each and every one of them runs out from behind their cover and returns every bullet from the Dandies two fold. The backup, two blue SUVs, arrive and are greeted by the war cries of the Bitches and the bite of their automatic artillery. Another dozen gorillas jump out already firing from inside the cabs.
Climbing on top of one of the sedans, I leap into the air and shoot two Dandies in the face before landing. The butt of a rifle gets me in the ribs, poor Dandy already ran out of bullets, three in the chest should be enough to get him going. One of the Bitches gets thrown onto me. I catch her, and without missing a beat she kills the guy who threw her and a dandy behind me who I didn’t see.
A column of fire cuts the air. Bart took it upon himself to burn the Dandies in one of the blue SUVs; their screams ring over the constant buzz of bullets. One of the Bitches gets singed and turns her shotgun on him, but I pierce a hole into the barrel before she can pull the trigger. By the edge of the bridge, a gorilla is trying to toss a Mutt and a Bitch over the side, and before I can reach them he drops one of ours into the water. Taking one of the nooses, I wrap it around his neck and hook the other end to a bridge cable. He lets the Bitch go to try and take the noose off; she stuffs her shotgun into his ear and blows the top of his head away. He slumps and falls over the edge, pulling the rope taught.
Taking another length of rope, I run at a Dandy smashing a Bitch’s face into the ground. I wrap it around his neck and try to suffocate him, but all this does is annoy him. He drops the lifeless woman and stands, pulling me into the air with the rope. His massive hand grabs a chunk of my hair and uses it to launch me into the floor. The wind gets knocked out of me, my eyes are fuzzy and I can barely lift my cannon. The giant stands over me, he bends down and rips the gun from my hand, squeezing his finder into the trigger guard, he points my own weapon at me, at least with my vision fading I can pretend it’s not my cannon.
A flash of light and the noose falls onto my chest. The Dandy slams into the cab behind him, and a hand reaches down and picks me up. When my vision returns and Grisly’s face is what comes into focus. Looking over his shoulder, I can see Fester wiping his Katana on the shirt of the now headless Dandy, looks like the Bullets best guards couldn’t stay away from a party.
“We wouldn’t miss a wonderful wager with death. Lead on Brother Bullet.” Grisly smiles and looks over at the battlefield longingly. I go over to the headless body, pry the gun from it and fire at the nearest Dandy. He doesn’t go down… till Fester takes off both legs at the knee with one sweep of his blade.
Back in the mess I punch, kick, and shoot my way to Bart, who has abandoned the empty Herbert and is pelting anything bigger than him with buck shot. At his back is the princess shooting the rest with a gun in each hand. We have lost four Mutts and seven Bitches, but with the vicious help of Grisly and Fester, the Dandy Guard is thinning. Just as I start to have some hope, a whirling sound breaks through the gunfire, followed by a barrage of molten lead raining down from the top of the semi.
The young Dandy found his courage and is using the turret to rain all hell down on us. Bart goes down, his left leg gushing blood. The princess gets a bullet clean through her shoulder, she has to claw her way under the Semi for cover. In his madness he takes out four of his own along with two more Bitches and four Mutts. Those of us still standing scatter. From out of nowhere Grisly leaps damn near eight feet into the air, Blade pointing straight at the Dandies’ heart. But with a burst of strength the boy lifts the gun off its mount. Grisly lands on the bridge, a shredded vestige of his former self, the mist that is his blood floats down after him.
“You fucking Dandy piece of Slime!” Fester screams, dropping his blades. He picks up one of the dead Bitch’s shotguns and fires up at the Boy, screaming between blasts, “Defecation… excrement… dung… anal discharge… feces… feculence… SHIT!”
The final blast knocks the boy off the roof of the semi sending him straight to the floor. Miraculously, he stands right up, pulls out a golden gun from his belt and lays Fester out next to his dead brother. The rapid rise and fall of his chest tells me he is still alive, I don’t know for how long though.
“Is that Martin the Hangman I see?” the boy says with a crazed smile on his face. “You honor me sir.”
I pull the trigger on my Cannon, five empty chambers. Same with the other one and my pockets are empty. His laugh pierces through me, but not as deep as his bullets. One to the shoulder, one to the hip, but I don’t go down. The remaining Gorillas charge at me but the boy stops them. Handing his gun to one of them he walks over to me, his fucking boots sparling the whole time.
“Hangman, what a stupid name.” The Gorillas laugh and the boy stops right in front of me. I can see where the bullet hit him, the side of his ruffled shirt is torn, and so is the skin underneath. “Have anything to say before we kill the last of your little friends?”
Leaning against the nearest husk of a cab, I look over at the remaining, broken bodies; Bart writhing on the ground in agony, Gwyn sobbing into the growing pool of blood, and Peter holding himself up with help of two of the Bitches. Then I look over at the Dandies, seven counting the boy, fuck it.
I take a shot at his side, digging the barrel of my cannon deep into the wound. Finding strength the others attack; Bart fires off two shots and hits his mark before fainting. One of the Bitches runs at another Dandy and hits him with enough force that the both of them go over the edge. Peter runs at another, gets a bullet in the gut but still has enough momentum to take him down and wrap his arms around his neck. Both Gwyn and her last Sister Bitch pick up the fallen Blades and make haste of the last Dandies.
As the boy falls back I land a right hook to his jaw, and another to the side where my cannon still hangs. He tries to fight back, missing his first shot, but the second lands dead on my eye socket, sending shards of glass into my skin.
I damn nearly shatter my shoulder blades lading on the unforgiving bridge, add to that the boy landing on my chest. He pulls my cannon out of his side and pummels me in the face with it. In his frustration, the boy stands and jumps on my ribcage, cracking them with his boots.
“Why… wont… you… die!” the boy yells with every jump. Tired, he stumbles over to Peter and kicks him in the face, then does the same to the dead Dandy still in his arms.
Wincing to my feet, I see an opportunity and run as fast as my broken body can take me toward the boy. Crashing into him, I lunge for the edge when my goddamn foot gets caught in one of the nooses. We fall, getting tangled in the rest of the rope, and my forehead smashes into the barrier between us and the drop off. The boy relentlessly beats away at the back of my head making everything go fuzzy again. We awkwardly get to our feet, still tangled, still fighting and after a bit of a struggle, and with another burst of strength, the boy lifts me, and throws me over the edge, little bastard is coming with me.
One body hits the water and the other hangs.
A day later and a few hundred miles away, Peter stagers into the Black Bullet compound. His face is swollen to twice its normal chubbiness, and his legs wobble when he has to wait for the lift to Kurtis’ office. Hogtied greets him when the doors open, there is a wheelchair waiting for Peter to sit in as they slowly go up eight floors.
“I’m sorry for your loss Hog,” Peter says though a swollen jaw, a thick southern accent still apparent. “When are you burying Grisly?”
“Tomorrow.” A father’s pain seeps through any tough façade. “Fester is going to be there.”
“You made strong boys, fuck man, they were fighting like champs, and only twenty.” Peter pulls out a crumpled envelope from his pocket and hands it to him. “Bart sends his regards.”
“Weak little shit is going to stay his pretty ass with the docs ain’t he?” They both have a laugh at Bart, and then he asks solemnly, “They still haven’t fished Marty out of the water?”
“No, to be honest I don’t know if they will.” He grimaces as his jaw locks up in pain.
“How fucked are we?”
“Crucible’s boy is still hanging from the gates, and that Angle girl turned out to be Gordon Mace’s little princes.” looking up at Hog-Tied he gives a genuine, if not worried smile, “Two royals in one fight, we are pretty fucked my friend.”
The lift reaches the top floor, Hog-Tied walks around Peter and wheels him into the hall. “The girl is alive though isn’t she?”
“Barely, and since you could say we teamed up with the Bitches I don’t think Gordon can be too cross with us.”
“From what I’ve been hearing, Kurtis wants a meeting with Gorgon and J.T Waters to talk about a treaty.”
“Waters, the Zombie man? You’re kiddin’ me.” Peter hurts himself craning his neck to look at his friend. “We both know the Zombies only care about booze, prostitutes, and the art of selling both.”
“I’m sure Kurtis expects that, but it would be disrespectful not to ask, shit, we don’t want two gangs up our ass.”
“Boy ain’t that the truth.” They make it to the door leading to Kurtis’ office. Fester is standing guard, all his weight on his cane. Standing from the chair Peter asks, “How are you?”
Fester’s blood shot eyes slowly make their way to the empty spot on the other side of the door where his brother should be. After a pause, and without looking at either of the two men, he says, “Our leader is waiting for you, Peter.”