-B03-

Townspeople scramble in utter panic, stumbling over each other and pushing through market place stalls.

“Run! He’s here!”

“The Dark One has arrived! Save yourselves!”

“Get the fuck out of my way! I don’t want to die!”

“AHHHHHHHHHhhhhh…”

A lone man stands in the middle of the empty street. Slowing dragging his gaze across the upturned merchandise, toppled stalls, and scattered debris, he stares blankly out at the scene of recent chaos. Seconds pass, he blinks his eyes tight, shakes his head quickly, and yells out. “What the hell was THAT all about?!”

Snapping his confusion around the area, he contorts his face between different puzzling twists and grimaces in utter bewilderment while scratching the back of his neck. “Seriously!? What the hell is going on here?! I just literally got to town. By the gods...”

He glances over shoulder behind him, eyes around the vacant walkways him, and returns his gaze forward in utter astonishment with his arms hanging at his sides. “I’m the only one here still. Shit. Is there something I should know?”

Slowly stepping forward, the tall, thin man navigates around piles of garbage, and inspects his leather duster. “Okay, nothing seems to be on my clothes... Crap, why did everyone run away from me?”

Pulling his wide brim hat off his head, he inspects the gray fabric, and places it back upon his short, spiky white hair. “Nothing on my hat. And it’s not like I’ve been waving my guns around... Wait...”

Blinking through recent memory, he straightens his posture, tilts his head curiously, and mumbles. “The Dark One... Dammit, what the hell is that? Why did they yell that?”

He drops his inquisitive gaze upon his darker attire, rocks his head side to side indecisively, and frowns pulling at his shirt. “I don’t think... Not exactly what I’d call a dark vibe... I mean dark gray or darker one, but The Dark One. What is going on?”

Slouching his shoulders, he grits his teeth and groans. “Oh gods, please... I need to find someone who can tell me what’s going on.”

A sharp, mechanical click echoes into the still town street. The tall, thin man freezes in place, darts his crimson eyes to one side, and slowly pivots in place. He rotates around and halts to stare at a younger man with a revolver pointed. The younger man struggles to maintain a steady aim against the blatant fear rattling out from within. “H-H-HOLD IT! R-R-RIGHT THERE! Don’t. Move.”

The tall, thin man’s body remains still while his eyes glance around and puzzle at the situation. “Uh, sure.”

Motioning with his weapon, the young man summons up some semblance of authority and calls out. “Hands w-w-where I can s-see them! Now!”

Holding his arms up with his palms open and showing, the tall, thin man searches around the area and focuses his inquisitive gaze upon the young man. “Okay...”

Slowly nodding, the young man musters the faintest traces of courage into a weak smirk on his face. “Okay... My name is Clement Houston. Bounty hunter. Under license from the Western Shores Coalition, I’m taking you in!”

Narrowing his gaze, the thin man cocks his head to the side and blinks between fits of astonishment. “Wha- Huh- Okay. Okay. Let’s just say for moment, that I don’t know who you think I am. Okay? Would you mind explaining that to me? Please?”

Clement rears his head back slightly, bounces his brown eyes side to side, and focuses his attention back on the man in front of him. “No tricks, Dark One! I’m not falling for them!”

Pinching the bridge of his tan nose, the tall, thin man releases a long sigh into a groan. “It’s no trick. I’m honestly REALLY CONFUSED right now. Just, who is this Dark One?”

Lifting a reluctantly intrigued brow, Clement motions a free finger from his two handed grip towards a building wall behind the tall, thin man. Slowly turning his head around, the man spots a large wanted poster. With a wide eyed stare at the mirror image of his face upon print, a blatant, uneasy cringe twists his expression. “Oh. Yeah. Huh. That actually explains... A lot. Wow. That’s unsettling.”

He squints his eyes as they follow the long listing under the title. “Multiple counts of murder, manslaughter, arson, destruction of property, destruction of government property, assault and battery upon government officials... Holy shit! See listing at local bounty office for more details of crimes not included?”

Tilting his head down, he stops, closes his eyes hard briefly, and gawks in disbelief. “That’s... Oh gods... That’s a lot of zeros in the reward. Damn, I didn’t think they posted bounties that high.”

Clement cocks his head to the side, puzzles a moment, and angles his gun barrel down slightly. “Hey... What’s your name?”

The thin, tall man directs his voice back while studying the wanted poster. “Louis. Wow, this guy really does look like me. Almost the same clothes, too. No wonder everyone ran. With an abridged list of crimes like that...”

Searching his mind, Clement cracks a sly smirk, perk his brow, and steps closer. “Huh... Interesting. You know, from what I’ve heard, I should have been dead if you were actually the Dark One. They say any gun ever pointed at him drops before you can think of pulling the trigger.”

Louis sighs, slouches his shoulders, and shakes his head slightly as he returns his gaze towards Clement. “I’m NOT this Dark One. I just got to town. Really. Suddenly everyone freaked out after someone pointed me out. You got to believe me.”

Clement slowly nods with a growing confidence swelling into his entrepreneurial grin. “Yeah. I believe you. Yeah, you’re just some guy that’s a dead ringer for the Dark One. It’s such a good likeness... Why, I don’t think the local bounty office guys would be able to tell you apart from the real one-”

As Clement’s arm muscles tense and the tip of his gun barrel rises, Louis’s hand appears as an unmovable grip tightly upon the cylinder and between the hammer. Clement’s eyes spring wide in surprise and his body freezes at the crisp, clean mechanical click from a white metal hand cannon pressing into his gut. Louis narrows his crimson eyes at Clement, and curls a faint frown from the corner of his mouth. “Just because I’m not the Dark One doesn’t mean I’m some kind of pushover. How you forget about that plan?”

Clement blinks, chuckles nervous, and loosens the grip on his pistol. “Uh, yeah. Forgotten. And true. Very true, so uh... Sorry, I assumed you were a pushover. Heh?”

Louis glances around the empty streets and the distant sounds of sirens over roaring trucks. “How about we go somewhere quiet, and we can have a pleasant conversation over drinks?”

An uncomfortable tinge twists his mouth. “Because I could use a few after all this...”

Clement nods quickly with an appeasing smile. “Sure! Um, uh, I’ve got a place down the street?”

Louis smirks, plucks off his hat, and plops it on Clement’s head. “Good, hold this for me. And, I’ll keep your gun safe.”

Blinking at the hat upon his head, Clement adjusts it. Louis stares at Clement. “Well? Lead the way. Don’t want to hang out here.”

Clement snaps back to attention, nods with a chuckle, and power walks toward an alley. As the duo move quickly out the street, Louis snatches up a scarf from an intact vendor stall, examines it, and stuffs a few large bills into a cash box. He wraps up his face in the scarf, slides out of his duster, and slings it over his shoulder. The pair disappear out of sight just as the sirens crest in volume, and armored police officers rush into view far down the street.