A Line in the Sand


7/9/20232 min read

Elara and Muk wasted no time, rushing to her son's side as the dust stirred up by the convoy's departure settled down. In the dwindling light, they cradled him, not a child but a fully grown man, wrought with the pain of loss and brutal humiliation. His face, usually flushed with the health of outdoor labor, was pale and drawn.

They carried him inside, setting him down gently on the dining room table, a makeshift operating area. Elara's hands, stained with years of toiling in the fields, moved with gentle precision as she worked to staunch the bleeding, her eyes filled with the fierce determination of a mother protecting her kin.

Muk paced the room, his weathered face twisted in guilt and rage. "This is on me, Elara," he growled, his eyes ablaze, "They're here for me. VenomJaw, Cartwright, all of 'em."

Before Elara could respond, the door burst open. A field worker, out of breath, rushed in. "The Marauders have landed in town," he stammered, his eyes wide with terror. "They've taken over the local inn. Cartwright's there, drinkin' and boasting about...about your boy." The worker choked on his words, "He's saying he's gonna do the same to Ravager. Says he doesn't even need his gun."

Muk's eyes flashed dangerously. Without a word, he snatched up his pistol from the table and strode out of the house, his face a mask of grim determination. I followed him, my Vortex-6 pistol heavy in my hand. My mind was racing, flooded with thoughts I had never entertained before.

I'd never knowingly taken a life. My hands, though capable and trained, were untried in this test of mortality. I had prepared myself for this eventuality, but now, as I took each step towards an uncertain confrontation, my legs felt like they were made of gelatin, trembling slightly with every stride.

But I needed to steel myself. This was not a time for doubt or fear. This was a moment of reckoning, a line drawn in the sand that separated who I was from who I needed to be. I drew in a deep breath, feeling the cool evening air fill my lungs. My heart pounded in my chest, a steady reminder of the life that coursed through my veins. If I was going to face down this imminent threat, I needed to quell my nerves. Panic would serve as a one-way ticket to a premature end.

As we approached the outskirts of the town, the local inn loomed ominously in the distance. We paused, standing in the shadows, the light from the inn spilling onto the deserted street. Muk broke the silence, his voice ringing out into the night, "Cartwright, you coward! Show yourself!"

The inn's doors creaked open, and five figures emerged from the dimly lit interior. Cartwright stood in the middle, a smug grin on his face. The four men flanking him were hardened criminals, each bearing the blackened insignia of the Marauders. They lined up in front of the saloon, a menacing gauntlet of malicious intent. As they stared us down, I could feel the weight of the impending confrontation pressing down on us. What happened next would change the direction of my life forever.