The Hunt by Matt Lao (Page 4)

“Didn’t think you Vanguard lackeys would actually have the gall to blast me. Guess I thought wrong.” Vert’s face was frozen in an apathetic look.

“I didn’t think Guardian deserters would want to expose themselves by doing something so very obvious. But here we are.” Though he would never admit it, Talon was smiling under his mechanical expression. “Let’s get this over with.”

Like a shadow, Vert’s arm reached under his torn vest faster than Talon had drawn his revolver. In the next moment, a blur was sent racing towards Talon’s face. The projectile had paused in mid-air, less than an inch away from the gunslinger’s face. Talon jerked his head to the left and saw Demora holding her palm open towards the weapon, tiny sparks of blue racing around her fingertips. Demora had just saved her partner from being impaled by a rusty dagger. Talon snatched the knife, sending it flying back to its owner. The rogue Guardian deftly tumbled from the bar, away from harm. Seeing the entrance blocked off, Vert sprinted towards the dusty old plaster wall and crashed through the side of the tavern.

No longer was the outside world gracefully painted in peach and orange. The hole caused by Vert’s getaway seemingly spawned a black-hole, an emptiness which ate away at the light. Even the night was hungry. Talon, more alive than ever, rushed through the tavern doors. Demora slowly followed behind him. As Talon plowed through the swivel doors, his sight locked on Vert. The deserter was now barreling straight down the street. Other than the lanterns that shone no brighter than fireflies, the town was drowned in darkness. Dune Harrow was hidden under the cover of night. Vert caught himself, and swiveled his body to face down Talon.

There was a moment of shared stillness between predator and prey. Both waited for the other to make a move. Both set like statues in the dark. Talon’s orange, fiery eyes burned bright in the fog of darkness. Vert, less than thirty feet away, held his place- he stood like a wraith, an apparition, a ghost. But a moment was just a moment. Talon drew his silvered cannon once more, which reflected nothing but the lonely stars in the night. Beneath his coat Vert drew his own instrument, his own black-steeled revolver. The gunslingers became two sides of a cracked mirror; in unison, they raised their weapons towards the cloudless night. The action was a silent war-cry between two one-man armies. At the peak of their heights, the two revolvers burst into brilliant flames like vampires in the sunlight. The gunslingers were transformed into neon beacons against the dark.

As quickly as Talon could aim his weapon, so too did Vert. Two bright bolts of blazing energy ripped through the air- the gunslingers’ supercharged bullets packing as much force as focused gamma rays from the sun itself. The air around the projectiles converted into deep blue plasma, the dirt instantly sublimated. As for the gunslingers themselves, both were missing a considerable portion of their upper torsos. Vert and Talon dropped dead on the ground. The revolvers returned to their inert state. Through fading vision, Talon spotted Demora finally emerging from the tavern. Evidently, Lady Demora was in no hurry to clean up her partner’s mess. Talon’s own Ghost, a white blue-eyed tetrahedron, impatiently made its way towards the downed Guardian. By the time Talon was back on his feet, Vert had already been revived and was currently making his escape. The rogue Guardian had taken off on a tattered jet-bike. Talon had guessed it was Vert’s own bike by the looks of it.

“Demora, I got this one!” Or so Talon had thought to himself, at least. Talon leapt onto his own jet-bike and punched the thrusters. Far ahead of him, Talon could see the red fire and smoke billowing out of Vert’s jury rigged ride. The chase dragged the two gunslingers out into the desert, now lifelessly cold. The moon had finally crept above the horizon, casting a yellow spotlight on Talon and his bounty. Trees and cacti whizzed past the jet-bikes at nearly one-hundred and sixty miles per hour. The bikes’ engines screamed into the night. To Talon, the bleak, moon-soaked surroundings became nothing but a blur, a streak of dead colors that fell behind him. All the gunslinger could see was his prey right in front of him.

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