Authors: Nick S. Thomas
“You fools, you stupid fools!” he cried out.
Johnnie ignored him completely as he looked into the eyes of his weeping son.
"It's gonna be okay, Wyatt," he declared confidently.
The boy was doing everything he could to hide his fear. Zed spotted Jay's Captain standing beside him and Trigger on the back of the other car, as well as another of the Captains. Zed smiled, seeing he could bait Jay with his insecurities.
“Are you so weak, Jay, that you can’t fight a battle for yourself? You watch and applaud as others do it all for you. It’s a wonder one of them hasn’t overthrown you yet. You are weak, but they are strong.”
He could see the Captains looking at one another in surprise. Zed had sewn the seed of doubt in their minds.
“You don’t need a gun, Jay!” Zed sneered.
Jay was becoming furious, but he wasn’t ready to fight quite yet.
“Kill them!” he ordered.
Zed and Johnnie drew out their swords. Johnnie could only really use his right arm, but Zed drew out his knife with his left. They both knew this could be the fight to end it all, but Johnnie had a determination in his face that made him appear unstoppable. His son was almost within reaching distance now, and nothing and no one would stop him closing that distance.
Four Braves came at them all at the same time. Two carried crude machetes, another a fire axe, and the last a heavy spear fashioned from a kitchen knife and bound to a steel bar. The spearman came at Zed first. He thrust forward, and Zed parried it off, but he quickly raised the blade up and hacked down towards his head. He lifted the sword and parried, but the impact beat his blade down enough that the edge of the spear tip just brushed his head and cut into his scalp.
A cry of pain was followed by a rush forward as Zed closed inside the reach of the spear and thrust his knife into the man’s heart. He pulled it back out as one of the machete men came at him. He rotated the sword around over his head and used his reach to cut at the man’s hand. It took it off at the wrist before he cut down against his head to finish him. He saw Johnnie had embedded his sword in his second attacker’s chest, and had his foot on his shoulder to draw it back out.
“You’ve failed, Jay. You are weak. This land isn’t yours anymore!”
Zed knew it wasn’t quite true, but it was winding the sadistic leader up more and more. It made him doubt and so make stupid decisions. He had but to lift his loudhailer and call back some of the others, and it would all be over, but his vanity and hubris would not let him.
Trigger and one Captain leapt off the car ready to take them on, as Jay yelled at the other Captain beside him to get in the fight. It was the man Zed had shot through the shoulder, and he looked terrified of having to fight.
Trigger had a long chain in one hand and a short curved blade in the other, while the other Captain drew out a machete in each hand; both of which had improvised bowl guards fitted to them. The men looked well accustomed to combat, and more so than that, they enjoyed it.
They spread out to take on each of their opponents. The wounded Captain climbed off the vehicle and hung back with a spiked and weighted bat in his hands.
“I’m gonna enjoy killing you, and then I’m going to find that bitch of yours, Rave,” Trigger spat.
Zed’s breathing was calm, his focus perfect. He had just one job to do, and he was damned if anyone was going to stop him. Trigger began to swing the chain around his head. It was intimidating, but Zed stayed calm. He let go of the chain, and it lashed out towards Zed’s head. He stepped aside and narrowly avoided it before getting back to guard as they circled one another.
Johnnie charged forward and hacked with his sabre, but with his wounded arm, he was a little off balance. The Captain parried it aside and cut against his shoulder. It sliced into the fabric of his armour but didn’t penetrate any further, but a second cut hit the back of his thigh. He cried out in pain as he dropped down onto one knee, but swung around with a heavy cut that gave him some distance and allowed him to stand up once more.
Trigger threw the chain out once again, and it lashed around Zed’s blade. He yanked him forward. Zed held on firm and so was launched towards his opponent. He thrust forward with his knife, but Trigger ducked under and slashed across his stomach with a vicious slice. As Zed passed him, his sabre slipped out of the chain and was his once more.
Once again Trigger threw the chain at him and latched onto his sword, pulling him forward to do much the same, but this time Zed kicked under at his legs, taking them out from under him. He smashed face first down into the dirt. Zed’s sabre followed soon after and cut at the base of his neck. He was killed instantly. He looked up to see his brother get cut again to the legs.
“Enough!” Johnnie roared.
He charged forward like a bull. The Captain cut at him frantically, but all of the cuts were brushed aside by Johnnie’s armour until he crashed head first into his nose like a bowling ball. The Captain was thrown onto his back and stunned, but Johnnie didn’t give him a moment to recover. He collapsed down onto his sternum and drove his blade down with both hands as he dropped with his body weight onto the pommel.
Zed stepped up to his brother and helped him up before they turned their attention to the last Captain. He was quivering in fear. He threw down his weapon and ran.
“Go, drive!” Jay shouted to his driver in fear.
There was no one left to fight for him. Johnnie turned to Zed with a look of absolute horror. His son was almost in reach, and about to be torn away once again. The vehicle roared to life, but then Zed and Johnnie rushed at it just as it got into motion.
“Jay is mine!” Zed shouted.
Johnnie went for the cab. The windows had long gone, but the reinforced doors were still strong. He leapt onto the running boards and thrust his sword through the window to try and strike the driver, but the man angled back and grabbed it. He pulled it from his hands and tossed it aside.
Zed jumped onto the back of the truck. He clambered up and charged for Jay. But the hulking man turned around and fired with his revolver at point blank range. The first shot went right through Zed’s flank and the other just above his chest. The impacts and pain caused him to drop his sword, but he kept going forward until he landed on Jay and smothered him. The gun fell from his hands, but a heavy punch soon followed and struck Zed in the side of the head.
Johnnie reached in again and struck a backfist to the driver and then another. It was enough to shock him. He took control of the wheel and angled them towards the ramp of the town where the Braves were fighting to get in. The driver regained composure and began to fight back as they wrestled against the wheel. He was trying to run them head first into a natural wall that would crush Wyatt and Frank instantly. Johnnie pushed back with all the strength he had left. The vehicle veered and soared up the ramp, smashing two of the cars out of the way. He pulled it around one last time. They slid sideways and crashed into the truck in the entrance before rocking to a halt. Johnnie was thrown clear of the vehicle and tumbled into the town violently.
The two on top of the vehicle were continuing as if nothing had happened. Jay’s strong hands were wrapped around Zed’s throat, and he was losing strength as he was forced up against the edge of the platform of the truck. He was going pale and couldn’t fight it anymore.
Sasha could see him struggling. She strung an arrow and quickly fired. It hit Jay in the back between his shoulder blades, weakening his grip just enough for Zed to get free. He punched forward at Jay with one punch after another until his face was a bloody mess. He thought he was doing okay until Jay struck him a heavy left hook. Sasha strung another arrow, but with them in motion, she couldn’t take the chance.
Zed felt another blow hit his face. He keeled over, but he looked down to see his sword on the ground beside him. He felt Jay grab his jacket and pull him upright, but he just managed to reach the grip of his sword. As he was yanked upright, he smashed Jay in the head with the guard three times until he swayed back against the far side of the platform. Zed lifted the hilt up, dropped the tip, and plunged it down into his collar, driving it deep through his body. He gurgled and spat blood, trying to say some insult. But Zed just drove it deeper and killed him in one.
Sasha and Zed stood in utter silence for a moment as the fighting went on around them. It took a moment to settle in, just what a monumental moment it was. He looked up at her and smiled, nodding to say thanks. Tears of happiness and relief streamed down her face. She turned around and cupped her hands together before screaming at the top of her voice,
“Jay’s dead! Jay’s dead!”
A few nearby stopped and turned to hear her say it once again, as nobody could believe it. The call was soon echoed across the walls and throughout the town. The fighting almost came to a standstill as many turned to see Zed atop the truck roof holding Jay up for all to see. There were cries of panic as the Braves lost all will to fight and tried to leave. The townspeople still struck at them, but soon gave up and let them run. Content that they had won the day and the fight was finally over. Vehicle engines roared to life as the Braves fled in disarray.
Most of the town's survivors looked to Zed now. He didn’t know what to say. Early that day they had tried to execute him, and now they looked up to him as their saviour. There was silence, and nobody made a single move, not until Johnnie climbed up onto the front of the vehicle. With a knife began to cut his son from his bonds.
"Help me," he said to Miles beside him.
They did so as everyone stood watching in amazement.
"Let me through!" a voice yelled.
Lannie was pushing her way through and stopped as she got into view. She could see the blood soaked and exhausted Johnnie setting their son free. Johnnie hugged Wyatt and kissed his forehead before releasing him so he could run to his mother, which he did so at a wild sprint.
"Thank you," she said.
But Johnnie shook his head. "It wasn't me that brought him back to us," he said faintly. He climbed up onto the truck beside Zed as all waited for him to speak.
“My brother is back. It’s time to put things behind us. We are together once again, and we are unstoppable!”
Lannie looked annoyed as she looked into Zed's eyes for just a short moment, but she was too overcome with relief to say a word against him, and it was clear her words would fall on deaf ears. Everyone around her was looking at Zed with admiration.
“To the Boss!’ yelled the Mohawk.
Cheers rang out, but Zed couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.
Am I a hero, or am I just becoming the monster I used to be all over again? Is this how it all began?”
He looked to his brother and the smile on his face. Sasha leapt on him moments later and wrapped her arms around him. Whatever the next day might bring, he was going to take Rave’s advice, and enjoy the moment. He embraced and kissed her as the crowds cheered.
It wasn't the end, but for the first time since he woke up, he felt like he belonged. He had a reason to live beyond existence, and that was worth fighting for.
The world had changed as everyone knew it. Zed awoke in a land unfamiliar to him, but it was as different now as when it all began on that lonely rock. His actions sent a shockwave through the lands, such a statement that would not go unnoticed by those in power in near and distant lands. Most of all, the new Boss.
Zed's secret was out. A secret he wished were not true, and one that both drew people to him, and forced others away.
Some want to follow him because of what he was, others for what he had become, but which was he destined to be? Jaytown lay abandoned. A treasure trove of resources, but would he dare risk touching it and angering the Boss?
Many of the questions he had carried for so long had been answered, but not in the way he could ever have imagined. A great many more now weigh on his mind. Why did he become the Boss? How could he ever become such a despicable person? And why did he leave it all, and how? A war was brewing, and everyone could feel it. The Boss, whoever he was, could never let him get away with what he did.
People now look to him as their saviour. Was he that, or was he the man who would lead them to their deaths? He never wanted it. He never wanted any of it. Maybe some questions were better left unanswered. He still didn't know if he was a good guy, but he did know one thing...he had survived.