Hitting The MarkMature

I understand that my writing style may put some people off or confuse them as to who is talking or when, but to me this natural style feels much more comfortable.

His hand in his pocket tightened on the grip of the pistol. He took another step down the dock, boots falling loudly on the wooden planks beneath him. His cigarette burned slowly as it hung from the corner of his mouth. A wave crashed on the beach beneath the dock and the water sprayed high, bringing down drops of saltwater onto his thick coat. He glanced upwards at the dock floating above him, reserved for smaller airships. He watched as it floated gracefully, bobbing up and down as if it was being rocked by it’s own gentle waves. Another wave crashed and broke his concentration. His focus snapped back to the task at hand, and as he did so his grip on the gun in his pocket tightened again, finger slipping onto the trigger while his thumb clicked the safety from on to off. His custom pistol felt heavy in his hand, and rightfully so. Over the years he had learned what was necessary for the job, and always one for nostalgia he decided to keep his gun, with slight modifications. The handle was lengthened to supply him with 5 extra rounds, the barrel had been reinforced by small steel bars that helped with accuracy and a small compartment just above the handle was filled with pressurized air so that the gun was was nearly silent upon firing. The gold finish that had originally been applied was worn and old, giving it more of a brass color. A finish that matched his arm hidden beneath glove and sleeve. 

He took another step on the dock and his boot fell loudly again. Two men arguing over the price of travel stopped and looked at him. There weren’t many people dressed as he was in the area. His long brown coat, worn and old, that stopped just above his boots, his white shirt dirty and fading, the suspenders that were strung out and faded to the point of almost snapping, the black boots that made such a commotion. You could have mistaking him for an old western sheriff, save for a shiny silver badge. The typical dress of a Hunter. 

Afternoon gentlemen

The two men stuttered, frightened by his appearance and what it might mean for them. 

A-a-a-afternoon sir. They said in nearly perfect unison. 

He continued his march up the dock, leaving the two men behind him. Filthy pirates, he muttered under his breath. He wasn’t here for them. 

Finally he stepped from the dock onto solid ground, and it was welcome beneath his feet. Despite the years of sea and air travel he hadn’t been able to adapt as well as others. 

His right hand rose to the cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth and pulled it away, tossing it into the gutter of the street. He stopped a moment to examine his surroundings, looking up to the sky. As was architectural tradition in harbor towns, all of the buildings were built tall enough to accommodate the sky deck. As they rose higher they not only increased in height but also in value. The shiny new buildings gleamed in the sun, reflecting refracted light down creating a lovely colored mosaic on the ground below.

Out of the way asshole. Suddenly he was shoved aside by two large men carrying a crate off the dock and towards the store to his right. Pulling another cigarette from his coat pocket he started moving again. Sorry, he mumbled, but the men had already moved on and he wasn’t sorry at all. 

Now that he was done admiring the sites he could move on, get his mind focused on his work. He reached into an inside pocket on his coat and pulled out a picture. A short fellow that barely reached five foot four, bright blonde hair that hung just below his shoulders, sunken and bloodshot eyes from his years as an addict, and a  pump mechanism on his neck and chest  that helped him with breathing after he had a close call with an airships flak cannon. 

He look down the street and saw a tavern at the next corner of the next block. A good place to start he thought, and he moved towards it. 

This town, Haverdam, wasn’t a notorious pirate town. No port town or city was completely devoid of pirates, it was only natural that they were here, but this was supposedly one of the safer ones. Walking into the tavern, The Empty Flagon, Arthur realized two things. The first was that travel agencies and brochures were complete bullshit, and the second was that when wearing a Hunter uniform one should never walk into a room filled with drunk pirates. 

Well theres no backing out of this one. He walked up to the bar, hailed the bartender, and pulled the photograph out again. "Seen anyone who looks like this around here?" The bartender looked up for a moment, glanced at the photo and shook his head. "Alright, and could you get me a beer? Cheapest one you have." He slipped the photo back into his pocket and then realized he had never lit his cigarette. He started to ask if he could smoke in here, but before he could he realized that the bartender had left, gone around back of the bar. Before he could even turn around he felt the blow landing in the center of his back, a high kick. The kick itself didn’t do much but when he gut crashed into the bar he lost his breath for a moment. 

He collapsed onto the floor, turning so that he was facing the ceiling. He managed to roll out of the way as the foot that kicked him came crashing down onto the floor. It was a cheap shot but he had to take it if he wanted to make out of his predicament, so he swung his fist and connected with the crotch of the man standing over him. The man collapsed, curling into a ball on the floor next to Arthur. Arthur pulled himself up using the bar. He looked around and saw five men stepping towards him. Can I at least take my coat off? The punch came later than he expected so he was ready. Stepping to the side he grabbed the mans wrist with his brass arm, twisting it hard and fast, dislocating his shoulder and flinging him to the side. Four left, he thought, maybe if I yell they will run away. He dodged the charging shoulder of another man, but his side step put him right into the path of a wild swing. It connected with the side of his face and he began to lose his balance. In the moment he was stunned by the punch another man stepped forward, grabbed him by the back of his coat, and flung him towards a table. 

The table crumbled underneath his weight and Arthur lay flat on his stomach. It was the first time he remembered ever thinking about retiring from his current line of work and settling down in some small fishing village. The thought was gone however, almost as quickly as it came. He was flipped over by a foot to his stomach, and that foot was placed on his chest. He started to laugh softly as he put his hands on the foot that was crushing the air out of his lungs. The man spat in Arthurs face, Whats funny little man? Arthurs hands grasped onto the foot and twisted it as hard as he could, snapping the ankle of the man above him. He coughed as he started to regain control of his breath, Just though of some old joke is all. He was pulled to his feet by two of the three remaining men. He was turned around and the third man punched him square in the stomach, knocking the breath out of him again. He struggled at the grips of the men at his sides and managed to get his left arm free. He brought his brass fist to the face of the man on his right, smashing into his nose, breaking and bloodying it. The other two men stepped back, regrouping and assessing their situation. Are we done yet? Arthur looked to the two of them and quickly realized that they weren’t, the two of them still felt as though they had a chance. Arthur was fast enough to pull his gun and shoot one of them in the knee, but the other man was fast enough to get within range. He drew a knife from a hidden sheath at his hip and buried it again into Arthurs side. Arthur brought the butt of his gun to the forehead of the man who had stabbed him and knocked him out. Stumbling, he pulled the knife out of his side and walked out of the tavern.  

Arthur woke up on an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room. Great, he said, I absolutely love hospitals. The doctor checking his vitals chuckled lightly, Well how about you stay out of fights for a while, make sure you don’t have to come back. What were you thinking anyway, stepping into a thug filled bar in your line of work? I guess I wasn’t really thinking straight at all doc. With that the doctor left the room, stopping at the door to give one last piece of advice. You can leave now if you’d like, but id stay here for a couple days, just to make sure your okay. 

Arthur was out of the hospital within the day, he had work to do after all and he was’t going to sit around waiting in a a hospital while his mark could be leaving town. 

He decided that it might be best to try the same tavern he had walked into last time, any regulars would have a fear of him and they seemed like the type who would know where his mark was. As he limped his way down the street he caught the eyes of regular old citizens who whispered to each other at the sight of him, no doubt they had heard the rumors and stories of what had happened in the tavern the previous night, or was it two days ago? He had no idea how long he’d been unconscious at the hospital. Finally arriving at his destination, after having to stop and ask for directions twice, he readied himself and pushed into the bar. Almost instantly gasps filled the air as the patrons saw the man they had seen just a day or two before fight off five men, while managing to get himself stabbed in the process. 

The bartender laughed out loud at his presence. Nobody expected you to be back here anytime soon son. You’ve got some nerve coming back. Arthur acknowledged the bartender, How about that drink this time? He scanned the room, but saw no men with casts or slings so he knew his attackers were not in the room. He turned as he walked in and addressed the crowd. Has anybody here seen a man that looks like this? He brought out the picture and as he raised his arm a pain shot through his side hat brought him to his knee. Struggling to stand he kept his arm up and waited for a response. 

Tempted to draw his gun he looked out at the silent people, sitting there with food and drink in hand and mouth. Really? How many more bones do I have to break to get an answer out of you people? This comment sent a ripple through the crowd and slowly one young man stood. I hear that guys been hanging out in the Town Square, trying to hide in plain sight. 

Arthur looked at the boy, who couldn’t have been much older than 17. He gave him the once over and decided that he looked like he was telling the truth. He stepped to the bar, threw some coins on the table to cover the drink, sat down and began to drink. It was about time he relaxed a bit. He had all the information he needed and now he knew exacly where to find his target. Trock, The Bronze Lung, was in his sights. 

The walk to the Town Square wasn’t too long, but the hole in his side, stitched or not, still made it a difficult one. Once he arrived he was able to sight Trock almost instantly, the man did stand out like a very short sore thumb. He made his way through the crowd, drew his gun, and when he arrived, pressed it into his targets back. 

Hello there, there is a fancy bounty on your head and I’m here to collect. You don’t have a problem with that do you?

I was wondering when you’d find me, I heard you got stabbed so I guess thats what slowed you down. As he said it his elbow shot back, ramming into the stitches in Arthurs side, bursting a few and causing another intense pain, this time it shot throughout his whole body. He collapsed to his knees gasping in pain. A crowd started to from around the two men, the curiosity of passing people getting the best of them. 

Trock knelt down to get on Arthurs level. Sorry about that, but you know, I’d rather stay out of prison these days. 

Arthur reach out with his bionic arm, grabbing hold of the mechanism that made it possible for Trock to breathe. I hope you know, he said between gasping breaths of pain, that your bounty never said you had to be alive. With that he squeezed hard, his metallic arm capable of feats of strength no normal arm could compare to. The metal that made up Trocks contraption gave way and began to crumple in Arthurs grasp. Almost instantly Trock was gasping for air, trying to breath without his life support system. As Arthur managed to stand up, clutching at his side, Trock fell to the ground, and began to suffocate, his body jerking and flailing in pain as he began to lose control. Just like that, he was gone. Another life gone, another bounty collected. Once again, like it had always been before and how it always would be in the time to come, Arthur had hit his mark. 

The End

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