[Feb 8th, 2008] - The Rifleman - [GozerTC]
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Posted 2/8/08 , edited 2/8/08
This story is posted here for general reading. I've already Emailed my PDF version to the email provided. (I like the PDF version more because it's go the cover picture and stuff on it and better fromating. ) If anyone would like the PDF version please feel free to message me.




The Rifleman
By: James “Gozer the Carpathian” Yee



KABOOM!

The quiet morning was shattered by the sound of an
explosion going off in the marketplace. The early morning
shoppers ran for cover in every direction as shop keepers
huddled beneath their stalls. The cruel laughter of harsh male
voices echoed throughout the courtyard as another explosion
shook the area. People were running in every direction possible
attempting to get away from the marauding band of thugs making
their way through the stalls.

The man leading these ruffians was obviously a spell
thrower of some kind, tossing fireballs around like they were
going out of style. As he cleared the way of any opposition his
accomplices worked their way through the stalls, taking whatever
they wanted, some not waiting until they were done to taste some
of their ill gotten gains.

“Eat up boys! There’s plenty for all of us!” With a cruel
laugh the leader tossed a fireball into a nearby stall.

“Oi, lookit, the town guard are coming.”

The leader looked in the direction his lackey was pointing
and smiled like a wolf seeing his prey, “Perfect, just the spice
we needed. This was a bit easy after all. Okay boys you know
what to do!”

The men grinned wickedly as they retreated behind their
leader. As the guards entered the market the thugs began to
taunt and jeer. The captain of the guard quickly lined his men
up into a line and said, “What is the meaning of this
disturbance?”

“Disturbance?” The leader smiled back at his men, “Are we
disturbing anyone boys?”

“No one that matters anyways!”

“Not us boss, we’s just minding our own business.”

The leader nodded and smiled, “See officer? We’re just a
couple of shoppers minding our own business. Seems to me you’re
the ones causing the disturbance by getting in our way. So off
with you!” With that he thrust his hand forward and another
fireball burst from his hand and flew toward the captain with
alarming speed.

Either from luck or skill the captain managed to dodge the
fiery blast and yell to his men, “Open fire!”

The guards leveled their crossbows at the ruffians and
opened fire. As the bolts flew strait and true toward their
targets the gang’s leader merely smiled and waved his hand with
contemptuous ease. Within centimeters of hitting their targets
the bolts seem to slow and then stop suddenly, as if they were
shot into an invisible gel. The guards looked on dumbfounded
and the captain quickly picked himself up.

“Have at them men!” The captain pulled out his sword and
rushed toward the leader of the bandits.

“I don’t think so.” Another simple gesture and the captain
was thrown backwards with a gust of air. The other guards soon
found themselves tossed back as well by the same gust of wind.
The ruffians all laughed and jeered at the guard’s plight.

Their leader merely smiled and lowered his hand, “Go to em boys.
Let’s see if they can earn their keep.”

With a roar of delight and rage the ruffians rushed forward
to engage the guards with a variety of weapons from the rusted
to the improvised. Stalls were overturned as fighters were
pushed around and the cries of the wounded echoed throughout the
square.

BANG!

All other sound stopped as the sharp report of a gunshot
echoed through the market. Everyone had heard the descriptions
of the horrible sound but very few had actually heard of it.
The Captain looked around looking for the shooter when his eyes
were drawn to the leader of the thugs who was clutching his
chest in frozen horror. As the leader fell leadenly to the
ground the ruffians quickly realized their ace in the hole had
just died. First one, then the rest soon raced out of the
market, looking all around them for whoever had fired that gun.

The captain put away his sword and looked around, “Okay Dan
come on out now.”

The click of boots on the cobblestone street echoed its way
into the market square as a man strode in like the conquering
hero. He was obviously the shooter as he had a lever action
rifle propped up on his shoulder that still had a wisp or two of
smoke coming from it. “Hey now Captain how’d you know it was
me?”

The captain gave Dan a withering look that he seemed to
ignore, “Because you’re the only fool I know of with a cannon
like that and the attitude to use it as you did. What if you
had hit one of my men or a merchant?”

Dan merely shook his head and chuckled, “Seriously Steven
you can’t take me for a complete beginner do you? Honestly what
kind of rifleman would I be if I couldn’t hit what I aimed at?”

Captain Steven shook his head, “You know as well as I that
you weren’t any rifleman before the merge happened. You were
just some weekend warrior with an expensive toy.”

“Now now Steven no need to be jealous. After all this toy
as you call it just saved your behind.”

“It could just as easily shot it off!”

Dan put a placating hand on Steven’s shoulder, “Don’t you
worry so much. I only shot once because I knew you’d start
complaining about me ‘shooting up the place’ if I shot more
often. I’m showing some of that ‘restraint’ you’re always going
on about.”

Steven brushed off Dan’s hand and moved to see to his men,
“Part of that restraint I mention is the wisdom to realize that
there’s more to a man than his weapon. You depend too much on
that rifle and it’s going to get you into trouble soon enough.
Fools won’t survive here after the Merge as easily as they did
before.”

“Sure sure, keep preaching buddy. Just make sure I get my
bounty on this spellslinger here.”

“You’ll get your pound of flesh don’t you worry.”


A few hours later a much happier and richer Dan approached
a very cluttered property on the outskirts of the town. The lot
was covered in old vehicles of every shape and size, rusted
armor of a dozen different makes, broken weapons from every make
and model, and dozens of appliances and other oddities that few
would ever be able to identify. Dan always laughed at how those
from the magical world marveled at the simplest bits of
technology. Though if he was honest with himself he’d seen
plenty of impressive things done with magic since the Merge.
As he rounded an impressively large and unidentifiable mass
of metal and wood he came upon a small shack attached to a very
large garage. With a smile he banged on a nearby car door with
his foot, “Hey Reggie! Where ya hiding you pack rat?”

The muttered curses and crashing of metal echoed from
within the garage before a small head popped out from one of the
doors. “What? Who’s there? Oh Dan!”

Reggie, or Reginald as he preferred to be called, was a
small person almost a child in size and appearance. Though Dan
knew for a fact that Reggie was at least twice as old as he was
he didn’t look a year over eight. Though that was because Reggie
was a gnome and not a human. Dan never again made the mistake
of asking, ‘what are you?’ to Reggie, for he would give a huge
dissertation on the history and accomplishments of the gnomish
people. Though he was always confused as to why the modern
worlders kept looking for pink and green haired gnomes.
“Hey Reggie, how’s tricks?”

“Tricks? I don’t know any tricks, though I know this pixie
who does the craziest things.”

“I didn’t mean, oh never mind.” Without further preamble
Dan shoved an empty brass cartridge into Reggie’s face. “Do you
mind getting me some more of these?”

“Empty shells? Sure things. I’ve got plenty of empty ones,
even a few as big as that one.”

As Reggie turned to race off into his pile of junk Dan
quickly grabbed him by the collar to stop him, “I don’t mean
empty brass, I need more cartridges for my gun.”

“Which size again?” Dan showed the little guy the shell
again and Reggie quickly shook his head, “Nope don’t have any
more of those. I told you last time to use what you have left
sparingly since I probably won’t have any more .444 cartridges.”

“You mean in all of this you don’t have any unspent rounds
or extra gunpowder so we can reload the ones we’ve got?”

Reggie put his hands on his hips and gave Dan his best,
‘you’ve gotta be joking’ look before he said, “How many times do
I have to tell you? The Merge screwed everything up! You’re
lucky I even know what gunpowder is! You find another gnome
like me in two hundred kilometers of here I dare you. Do you
think gunpowder grows on trees? Heck no, gunpowder is a special
mix of several different chemicals that have to be combined just
so otherwise I’ll blow myself up.”


“So is that where that newest crater came from?” Dan
interrupted.

“What? Oh that? Nah, that’s from lunch.” Reggie shook his
head and returned to his rant, “Besides, your gun wouldn’t work
well with the black powder that I’d be able to make. You need a
smokeless gunpowder and a good one for a gun like yours. I’m
sorry but your best bet is to find survivors from the modern
world and from what I’ve been able to figure out that .444 of
yours was an odd gun even in the modern world.”

Dan patted his rifle lovingly for a moment, “Hey this baby
was a real beauty how could I pass her up?”

“Beauty or no you’re either going to have to find a stash
of cartridges that survived the Merge or maybe some reloading
supplies for the .444 and the powder to put in it.”

“Aw, can’t I just get you a new motor or something and call
it even with you giving me some cartridges?”

Reggie just shook his head, “As much as I’d love another
motor what good does one do me with no gasoline? Sure there’s
plenty of oil in the swamps to the east, how the heck do we
refine it? Let alone make it work with the motors I’ve got so
far? I know it’s got something to do with boiling and different
levels but so far no luck.”


Reggie muttered to himself a bit more before Dan could get
his attention again, “So bottom line Reggie, what can you get
me?”

“I can give you more stupid looks is what I can get you.
Why don’t you trade in that gun for a crossbow, or maybe one of
the black powder rifles I’ve got. At least with black powder
the balls are easy enough to make and it still goes boom.”

“Those aren’t the same, plus they don’t have nearly the
stopping power or the range and accuracy of my .444.”

“It’s not like you’ve been taking on targ or trolls with
that thing, just spellslingers and rabble rousers. A true waste
of your gun if you ask me.”

“Well I’m not asking you little man. If you can’t help me
than who needs you? I’ll take my business elsewhere.”

As Dan turned to leave Reggie quickly ran around him to try
and stop him from leaving, “Now now now, lets not be hasty. We
both may have said some things there we didn’t mean now. We’re
friends here after all.”

“Friends don’t hold back on one another.”

“Hey I’m not holding back!” Reggie had to quickly move
back into Dan’s way as he once again tried to leave, “Okay okay!
Listen I didn’t want to mention this because it’s just a rumor
okay?”

“All right I’m listening.”

“See a friend of a friend, of a nephew of a dwarf who owes
me money was telling me about this ship that entered port Sea
Springs about two days ago. Seems they’ve come through the
Teeth of the Rockies from an island nation to the south. Seems
about three of your towns came through the Merge more intact
down there than up here. Anyway these guys seem to have more
knowledge and access to high quality gear and good from both the
modern and magical worlds.”

“Really? Did they mention the names of those towns?”

“Sort of, said they came from port Vegas? Does that ring a
bell?”

“Vegas? You mean Las Vegas?”

“I guess. Whatever it was called it’s a port now. Half of
the modern town is under water while the other half littered
with some towns from my world. They’ve been jumping into the
ruins for months now and refurbishing what they find, though
that’s not the really neat part.”

“What’s neater to you than an entire modern city?”

“A fort. One of your forts. I think they named it after
some Irwin guy.”

“Fort Irwin? Never heard of it.”

“Me neither, but whatever it is it must have been big
because they have all sorts of modern weapons and equipment.
They even have electrical generators for trade! Who’d trade
away one of those!”

“Someone trying to make a show out of stuff they don’t
have?”

“Nonsense. I know you humans are devious and manipulative
but you’re not stupid. Electricity is a wondrous invention that
rivals all the magic I’ve seen!”

“I don’t know, those clerics and priests of Saren have a
pretty powerful magic that I don’t see electricity doing!”

“Oh come now. You bring light to the darkness. Allow the
examination of microscopic beings to cure disease. You can send
messages tremendous distances instantaneously! Only the most
powerful magicians can claim to be as powerful.”

“True but your magicians don’t need all the physical
devices we do to make use of that electricity.”

Reggie nodded and sighed, “True enough. Though anyone who
has access to those devices and knows how to use them can make
use of them. Where as Magic can only be wielded by a select
few.”

Dan smiled and nodded, “You got me there. So where’s this
ship now, still in Sea Springs?”

Reggie nodded, “I think so, but I don’t know for how much
longer.”

Dan grabbed Reggie in a quick bear hug, “Thanks a lot for
the info little man! I owe you one!”

Dan dropped Reggie and quickly ran back towards town. “Hey
now. If you’re going bring me back some technology! Then you
can call us even.” Reggie yelled at Dan’s retreating back.

“Will do!”



The cartridges glinted in the sunlight in Dan’s hand as he
walked down the road to Coast Springs. There were only two of
the shiny metal objects in his hand, the last of his precious
ammo. He hoped the foreigners is Coast Springs would be able to
help him, either by selling him more or reloading the empty ones
he had in his pack.

He pulled his rifle out and loaded the two cartridges back
into the chamber. He patted the gun lightly, “Don’t worry baby,
I’ll feed you more when I can get them. Just hang in there.”

“Aww, now isn’t that cute he’s talking to his toy.”

With the practiced ease that only repetition brings Dan
works the lever of his rifle and brings it to his shoulder in
one continuous motion. The rifle now was ready to fire with its
hammer cocked and a round in the chamber as Dan scanned the
forest around the road for the source of the voice. “She’s not a
toy, she’s a very dangerous weapon. Show yourself so I can
introduce you properly.”

“Oh I’m afraid I can’t do that. Especially since I’ve
already seen your little toy in action earlier today.”

“Well I’m glad you enjoyed my demonstration. I suggest you
leave me in peace so you don’t get another.”

“Now now Dan is that any way to talk to someone you just
met?” The voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at
once as Dan shifted his aim from one side of the road to another
and back again the voice continued. “Perhaps I should call you
by your title, the Savior of Greely? The Dashing Do Gooder of
Denver? The Sharpshooter? The Rifleman? They all are such grand
sounding titles for such a little man.”

“Little? You have obviously not spoken to my admirers.”

The voice laughed in a way that sent shivers down Dan’s
spine. It was an inhuman laugh that had no mirth in it. The
sun seemed to dim as the laughter echoed into nothingness.
“You’ve been a pain in our side for longer than your pitiful
existence warrants. I’ve been sent here to make sure you no
longer interfere in our plans.”

“How? By talking me to death? In an admittedly creepy
voice I’ll give you that much.”

“No. I’m going to rip you apart!” The trees to Dan’s left
erupted with a roar and the sound of trees being uprooted and
knocked over. Something huge and dark rushed into the road and
strait toward Dan. It loomed over him briefly before a huge
black limb swept across the road and knocking Dan off of his
feet and into a tree on the opposite side of the road.

Amazingly enough Dan kept a hold of his precious rifle even
after hitting the tree. The dark shape moved forward to attack
again but was stopped short as a thunderous crack echoed between
the trees. Dan gasped for breath as he looked down the barrel
of his gun at the shadow that was slowly shrinking and sliding
away from him. “Pretty tough for a shadow, I’ll give you that.
Y-you’ve got quite the right hook too.”

The shadow seemed to dim and shake a bit until it shrank
down to the size of a man. “Your toy has a nastier bite than I
expected, but toy or no toy you’re still going to die.”

“Big talk for a shrinking shade.” Dan worked the lever of
his gun again ejecting the empty shell and loading his last
cartridge. “I suggest you fade back into the shadows before
you’re bit again.”

The shade seemed to think the idea over as it wavered in
and out. Then without saying a word the shade slid back into
the shadows of the trees.

Dan kept his rifle pointing toward the trees as he caught
his breath. After a few minutes he flicked the safety on his
rife he slowly started to stand up. He brushed himself off and
looked around a bit for his bag which he found lying toward the
side of the road along his flight path. “Stupid shade, throwing
me around the road and slowing me down.”

Just as Dan touched his bag a black tendril lashed out from
the trees to his right and grabbed his outstretched arm. He
gasped in pain and surprise as he was yanked to the side by the
dark tendril. As he fell, another tendril grabbed his ankle and
still another ripped his gun out of his other hand. In short
order Dan found himself held fast against a tree.

Once again the shadows between the trees bled out the shape
of a man sized shadow which then solidified into an obviously
wounded but smiling man. Dan looked at him closely and shook
his head, “Damn you’re ugly.”

The shade man chuckled slightly and then casually
backhanded Dan across the face. “When I’m done you’ll wish you
looked as good as I do.”

Dan spit the blood out of his mouth toward the shade and
grinned, “I’d never wish to be as ugly as you.”

The shade man smiled and looked down as his shadow
tentacles returned to him with Dan’s rifle in tow. “Well well,
look what I found.”

“Don’t you dare touch that!”

“Too late little man,” the shadow man picked up Dan’s rifle
and hefted it experimentally. He shook it a bit and then put it
to his shoulder and pointed it at Dan’s stomach. “I will admit
it’s a fine weapon. Too bad it’s not enchanted to prevent me
from shooting you like you did me.”

“No!”

Dan winced as the shade man pulled the trigger on the
rifle. The two looked shocked as the silence fell between them.
The shade man looked at the rifle again and then pointed it at
Dan and pulled on the trigger again. Dan smiled as he realized
why he wasn’t dead yet as the shade man pulled harder and harder
on the trigger.

“Why won’t this thing fire?! You cheat! It is enchanted
isn’t it?”

Dan smiled, “What? You didn’t think I’d make it so a
powerful weapon like that could be used by someone like you?”

“They lied to me...”

“They?”

The shade roared in anger and hit Dan in the face with the
butt of his own rifle. He laughed roughly as he said, “I can
still hit you with it.”

“True, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as my shooting you
must have.”

The shade roared again and reared back to hit Dan again
when a different kind of roar came from down the road. Both Dan
and the shade looked up in surprise as the roar got louder and
louder. Dan quickly recognized the sound as something he hadn’t
heard since before the Merge and smiled, “Sounds like someone is
angry with you.”

“What? No!” The shade started to stumble backward away from
the sound and Dan. As he moved back the tentacles holding Dan
in place began to relax. “I did what they wanted even if they
didn’t warn me of the enchantment.”

As the roar continued down the road Dan managed to wiggle
an arm free enough to reach his knife. With a quick yell of his
own he cut and pulled himself free of tentacles and rushed the
shade. Still fearful of the coming roar the shade was caught
completely off guard as Dan plunged his knife into his shadowy
body.

With a roar of pain and surprise the shade released Dan’s
rifle and pushed away from his attacker. Dan quickly retrieved
his rifle and switched off the safety, aimed, and shot the shade
dead center of its shadowy mass. With a cry of pain and anger
the shade collapsed in on itself and vanished.

Dan fell to his knees with his rifle across his lap
breathing heavily. “It’s called a safety you idiot.”

Moments later the roar rounded the corner of the road to
reveal a strange metal contraption on wheels barreling down the
way. Sitting high at the controls was none other than Reggie
smiling and singing a song to himself. His eyes widened behind
his thick flying goggles as he noticed Dan. He quickly reached
down and pulled a large lever up and with the screech of metal
on metal and rubber on dirt the contraption skidded to a halt.

“Dan? What happened to you?”

“Long story my friend. Thanks.” Dan slowly tried to stand
up and looked at Reggie’s crazy contraption. The roar he heard
was obviously a motorcycle engine, though the vehicle it was
attached to bore little resemblance to a motorcycle. While it
did have three wheels no one would call it a trike in the modern
world sense. The wagon wheels for the front tires and the
motorcycle rear end somehow connected to the back it looked more
like a bad mating of a motorcycle and a wagon. Dan merely shook
his head and smiled, “You have room for one more in there?”

Reggie looked away from the carnage around the road back at
his friend quickly. “In the Wagonator 5? Sure! In fact that’s
why I’m here. I figured I’d join you in meeting these strangers
and give you a lift now that I got this baby working!”

Dan shook his head and tossed his bag into the wagon bed
and then pulled himself in and laid his rifle across his knees.
He patted the rifle gently and smiled, “You did good girl.”

“Did you say something?” Reggie yelled as he fired up the
engine.

“No, not at all. Let’s get out of here. This place gives
me the creeps.”

“Will do. Hang on!” With a roar and the groan of wood and
metal the crazy contraption charged on down the road away from
the ambush site.



A few minutes later two dark figures left the trees and
examined the scene of the fight. One of them bent over and
picked up a shiny metal object out of the grass and held it up
for its companion.

“The Pawn is dead.”

“As is the fate of all pawns.”

“True but the weapon wasn’t recovered.”

“True,” the second figure stopped and walked a few paces
away before bending over and picking up a second shiny metal
object out of the grass, “but the plan did succeed in
neutralizing the weapon.”

“Ah, no more ammo.”

“Exactly.”

“We removed one of the most powerful artifacts in the area
and all it cost us was a shadow.”

“Not bad for a days work if I do say so myself.”

“And you do.”

With an dark chuckle the two figures melt back into the
darkness beneath the trees.



----------------------

--- Please do not read below this line until after you've read the story. ------

The Merge is a story world based on the premise of what would happen if you took a fantasy world and our modern world and violently merge the two together. Most of the stories set in this universe come in three time periods: The Ten Years of Chaos, The Aftermath, or the Return of Chaos.

The Ten Years of Chaos (the time period the Rifleman is set in) includes the moments right before and after the Merge and the chaotic time occurring for the ten years after the Merge. This time period is a time of rise and fall of kingdoms. The rampant spread of chaotic creatures and monsters. The adaption of technology to magic and magic to technology. Billions die in The Merge and this is the period when the survivors try to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

The Aftermath is the 90 years after the Ten Years of Chaos that is a relatively calm period in world events. World affairs once more revolve around the simple things like war, plague, famine, drought, Kings and Queens, Magicians, and Dragons. It is a time of common heroes and adventures for all comers. A time of growth and prosperity.

The Return of Chaos begins exactly 100 years after the Merge occurs. Not much is written about or planned in this time frame yet, but it is all about the revival of the chaotic energies that created the merge in the first place.

I hope this little bit of background enhanced your enjoyment of the Rifleman. The Rifleman is but a small story in a much larger world that I hope to share with more and more people as time goes by. If you have any questions or would like to learn more feel free to email message me!

Member
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38 / M / Barstow, CA
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Posted 2/8/08
YAY! Posted!
For those who want to see the original cover picture (along with a few other pictures of mine) please go to my gallery here:
http://gallery.mac.com/jjyee#100008

As an even more shameless plug of my art AND writing do check out my webcomic Innocence Lost! Along with my wife Sharyn's work it's all at Gozer's Dot Com.
http://www.gozers.com
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Posted 2/9/08

(wow to the 3d on Innocence Lost)

Anyways, in reference to your story, it's very nice in concept (but it does seem very much like Raymond Feist's novels - Kelewan and Midkemia, magic and weapons, humans and other creatures etc).

I would like to read more ^^
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Posted 2/9/08
I'm glad you liked it.

As for being similar I have no problem with being compaired to published authors. That only reinforces my personal (and my Wife's of course) belief that I'm a decent writer.

There's also an old saying in the writing buisness, "Everythings been written before. It's up to you to make it something yours."

So yeah, while the whole "Magic and Technology" thing has been done to death (I can think of two RPG worlds right off the top of my head [Rifts and Deadlands]) I've made this one mine and I welcome everyone else to join me in it.

Thanks for the kind words on my art too. I personally think it's my weaker skill so it's good to get complimented.

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