Gunslinger of Life

A gentle hand touches a photograph. With a quick pinch, it expands. In a sense there is recognition, but Renai does not know their name. This isn’t true. The name is there, but it has no fangs. The memory is distorted. Something is wrong. It lacks the traditional poison it used to. Is the wound healed? Has enough time passed?

A metal finger scrapes the photograph, asking it to reveal it’s secrets. Had it been edited? Had it been lost? Something removed to make the poison lose it’s sting. There was no more dull mental haze, but in it’s place there was something else. Emptiness. A memory in bright color that used hold such brightness had slowly been de-saturated. The eager teeth that sank it’s fangs into her metal fingers had gone away. Where did it go? Where was the painful melancholy of a connection lost that you yourself had burned away. Her eyes betrayed herself as lubrication exited her visual sensors. Tears.

A small voice whispered at the back of her head, “did you think the pain would always be there? Did you really think your fingers would not grow stronger, or did you do that on purpose?”

The Android took a symbolic deep breath, stood to her feet, and kept walking. With a flick of her wrist, she whirled around and fired a shot at the specter behind her, and then tossed a new bullet back in. Gentle metal hands slide down the barrel of the well worn arquebus. It had stuck with her this long, and if magic could not breathe new life into it, she didn’t know what could. She was once a girl of knives, but knives were not suited to her tastes. Knives were an ancient tactic, and most people were hardened enough these days to withstand them with their magical cold iron armor.

No, Renai knew better. This war did not require knives. It required bullets. With knives, you killed people. With knives you could not figure out where a weak point was and strike with a single shot. Bullets always knew where they wanted to go. At least that’s what she had told herself since she had woken up in that cave long ago. A gentle hand pulled her up, the first sight she had seen now an outstretched hand.
If the Gods had decided to bring her back to life, she was not going to just go down without a fight. She pulled herself out of her reverie and back to the battleground. Protection magic encased her, enveloping herself in a light blue aura.

The unknown foe made their move, diving in and swiping up at her, it’s claws dripped with poison, “I’m scared too you know.”

Renai froze and and lowered her guard. A claw snuck in and swiped her in the gut.
She took a breath and traced wings on her trusty rifle, a memory flew back. Clouds surrounded a robot with two bright red eyes. A beast of metal and magic roared through the sky as her metal carapace was strapped in.

“This one looks promising, do you think?”

“Not sure, Commanderal! She’s a little war torn from the fall of Irongulch, so I’m not sure if,” the words are garbled. This memory is edited too, “is up to the task.”

There was a soft chuckle and then the one called Commanderal spoke again, “Send her in, it’s just over the hole. I’m sure she’ll be fine. What’s the worst that will happen? She’ll fall in and then” Another distortion. The memory stops as brilliant white angelic wings sprout out of the resurrected Android’s back. She springs into the air and aims down the sights of her rifle and then takes a breath as her halo surges.

“You do not scare me specter.” She utters.

The shadowy being’s eyes gaze deeply into the android’s solitary yellow eye, “You cannot kill me Scrapheap. The moment you strike me down, I will come back even stronger than you can possibly imagine.”

Renai chuckles as divine protection keeps her composure together. Her resolve strengthens, “That is a quote from a story book shade, you are not-“ the android coughed as the poison ran it’s course through her body. The flesh parts of her body corroded as she coughed out blood.

“Heh, did you miss that? Shame.”

Renai took a deep breath and held herself together, and drew a sigil of healing on the side of her rifle. She pointed the barrel directly upward and fired as a burst of radiant energy sprung around her like a wellspring of life. Organs inside stitched themselves shut.

The shade screamed.

“Pray tell specter of undeath, In all of our fights, did you ever think to ask what I am?”

“Gods above…” the specter shuddered under the divine power eating away at it’s dead soul.

A grin passed android lips, “and sky abound.”

She fired a bullet through the shades heart, and drew a sigil of lightning across the barrel. Electricity shot out at the specter and connected with her bullet.

The specter of undeath vanished, leaving behind nothing but a pile of ashes. Renai shortly gathered up the ashes into a pouch and stitched it to her belt. With a quick motion, she loaded another bullet into the barrel of her rifle. The specter could not die, but she was getting stronger too. It was weak to healing after all. And knowing is half the battle.

She pulled the hood of her outfit over her head again and kept walking through the darkness. She may be safe now, and the others in her party had made it out, but for her, it was going to be quite a long time until she could see the sun rising.

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