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Interlude Twentyfour point Two, The Cowboy Gets his Revenge

His name was Ratface. Now no one actually believed his mother gave him that name upon birth, but then again no one would doubt that it was possible. His long thin face, pointed nose, sparse moustache, buckteeth and stench quality saddled him with the moniker long ago. Ratface was a smallshot, if there was a pie he had one of his grimy fingers in it. His longevity in the Port Alexander underworld was less a testimony to his effectiveness than it was to the fact that getting rid of him wasn't worth the effort. He huffed down the pavement smacking the bottom of his cigarette box into his left palm. There was a bounce in his step ever since he left that Korean grocery store. Ratface loved to intimidate whenever he could and tonight's victim was an 86 year old woman -- Ratface's victories were few and far between. As he walked, he embellished what exactly went on, "Nobody talks to Ratface like that, I'll take my smokes when I want to. Mess with Ratface, and I'll smoke *you*!" he laughed pointing a gun finger into the air and wheezed a guffaw.

Ratface was having a good time pretending to be king of the streets, maybe that is why he missed seeing the leather gloved hand reach out and grab him by the collar. One second Ratface was Al Capone, the next he was pulling a banana peel off his head after landing in a pile of garbage. As soon as his head cleared he looked up and saw a silhouette approaching in the alley. His first impression was "John Wayne" and then it hit him, "Oh Sh--"

"Didn't yore maw ever tell ya that smokin' was bad fer yer health!?" said the man cutting off Ratface's exclamation. The man known as the Cowboy jingled closer, his spurs catching the light. He carried a bottle of whisky, and removed the cork with his teeth before speaking again. "Yew oughta take care of yerself."

Ratface stammered in fluent gibberish before he was cutoff again. "I want yew ta deeliver a message to PowerFist and SpeeDemon." Before Ratface could give the obligatory 'Who?' the Cowboy answered, "It ain't *my* problem to find them. Tell 'em the Cowboy says there's no hard feelings and he has a gift fer them. A peacepipe offerin' as it were."

In three days, the Cowboy told Ratface, PowerFist and SpeeDemon were to meet him at the west end docks at three in the morning for a gift courtesy of the Cowboy. "Tell 'em not to be late, cause this gift is liable to expire if'n they *wander* round too much. Got that?" Ratface said he had it, but when he couldn't recite it back word-for-word he caught a spray of whisky in the face. Finally, after a brief rehearsal he could deliver it flawlessly.

"That's mighty fine," complimented the Cowboy, "from now on stay off of my ranch, else..." he wound up and threw the whisky bottle to the pavement sending a rain of glass and liquid onto Ratface nicking him all over. "I'll find ya." With that, the Cowboy seemed to disappear and Ratface snapped to, off to find PowerFist and SpeeDemon.

Three days later, the Cowboy made his preparations, and settled in to see if SpeeDemon and PowerFist would show.

When PowerFist stepped onto the dock, he saw the Cowboy standing on the end of the pier. Next to him was a duffel bag, which he occasionaly gave a good solid kick. The size and shape of the bag and contents suggested a human form.

SpeeDemon joined PowerFist and the two carefully approached. As the closed in, they saw that the Cowboy held a floppy hat in his hand.

PowerFist spoke first, "So, have you come to your senses? Ready to work for the Dark Lord?"

The Cowboy rubbed his jaw, "Th'interview was a might difficult." "I reckon this oughta help my resume some," he said indicating the hat. The Cowboy dropped the hat to the bag and held out his hand to PowerFist.

"I'd be obliged to join yer outfit."

"No hard feelings, then," said PowerFist stepping forward. "We can go meet with someone higher up and start things rolling." He took the Cowboy's hand.

With a pop of displaced air, the Cowboy and PowerFist vanished, to reappear 30 meters off-shore. A second later they splashed down into the water. PowerFist lashed out blindly trying to grab hold of something as they hit.

Sinceowboy deflected the blow and swam a few yards away. PowerFist began to sink, then struggled with some controls on his belt. Suddenly his exoskeleton fell away and he popped back to the surface. He swam toward shore covering only a few meters before a strange expression crossed his face and he began to sink again.

From shore, a voice called out with a Russian accent, "PowerFist, where are you?"

PowerFist could not answer, he was dropping below the waves. His mad struggles suddenly ceased.

With powerful strokes the Cowboy closed the gap between himself and PowerFist. The load was light as he swept the man into his arms and paddled over to the ladder.

He hung PowerFist on the piling safely out of the water and caught his breath.

The Cowboy hung just below the edge of the pier and watched as SpeeDemon raced back and forth along the pier in a blur of motion, pausing occasional to call PowerFist's name. After a moment, he came to a stop called out once more, then shook his head, and turned decisively to shore.

In frustration, the Cowboy watched as SpeeDemon began to flee. He reached a decision, rocketed out from the pier and intercepted SpeeDemon at the edge of the pier. His mighty punch was on target, SpeeDemon juked at the last second to turn it into a glancing blow.

The blow stopped short of the man by a few centimeters and appeared to do no damage.

"There you are!" cried SpeeDemon, firing two quick punches at the Cowboy before sprinting back down the pier. The Cowboy followed, but the swift Russian was able to keep his distance.

The Cowboy seemed to tire of chasing SpeeDemon around the pier, and his eyes narrowed as he stared at the darting speedster.

"What is happening?" said the Russian as his limbs grew heavy. "You! But ..." He ursed in Russian and raced past the Cowboy and down the pier.

The Cowboy spun to face him and the villian slowed. "What are you doing?" he gasped, before blacking out.

SpeeDemon gave one last attempt to rise, but all he saw was the underside of a cowboy boot streaking toward him and then blackness. The Cowboy muttered, "Law of the West, never leave a survivor," as he grabbed SpeeDemon by the scruff of the neck and began to drag him back to the pier. A gloved hand went into his long riders coat and pulled out a telephone, "Howdy. Is yer boss thar? I got some trash fer him."

		*		*		*		*
Ratface was up to his old tricks. He had just knocked over a pastry display stand and was puffing himself up by mocking the old Korean lady's irate speech. He hoped he was saying something rude, as he screamed out racial epitaphs interspersed in his sounds. Waving his hands about menacingly, Ratface laughed uncontrollably and then stopped, "Who's there?" he called out.

It was late, and he had cased the place before coming in to pull his shenanigans. Some of these "chinks" had shotguns he knew but not this place, he was real careful; but something moved behind him. There it was again, a jingling sound like a --- spur? "Oh no," he shrieked as he ran for the door and ran headlong into a very solid six foot frame. A hand lifted him off the floor as he came face to face with the Cowboy.

"Howdy," said the man reeking of chewing tobacco. A hand dove into Ratface's jacket and pulled out his money, "Here," said the Cowboy as the roll of bills were tossed to the screaming woman. "He won't be waiting fer his change."

Ratface was carried from the store and once again felt the wind on his face as he flew through the air landing in a dumpster. Sputtering, he clawed his way back up and peered over the side to see the Cowboy standing there.

"Here, I want yew ta give these over to the foreman. I reckon he'll want to put a stop on their pay." The Cowboy tossed some colored pieces of cloth his way, they looked like masks of sorts, and then he recognized them.

The Cowboy pivoted to leave and then looked back, "And Ratface, the next time I see you, you're gonna be the skinniest polecat I ever saw. 'Cause you ain't gonna set foot in another grocery store, yew got that?"

Last Updated 7 August 2002