“What a merry band we are!” Goodnight declared as they rode towards the next supply station. “Chisolm an elite monster hunter, me a demon born from hell, Billy my dearest friend in the world…”
Billy shot him a sly grin, and Goodnight winked back. Somehow, old Sam Chisolm had missed the fact that the ‘man’ who’d arrived with him was not a mortal, and Faraday’s antics had kept him from discovering this truth. His exact phrasing had been this here’s Billy, he come with Goodnight in so decisive a way that it was clear the Fae intended to keep their resident angel as a secret weapon for as long as possible.
Goodnight continued with, “The strangest member of the Fae I have ever met in my entire life, whatever the hell this fine Mexican fellow may be, a female on a righteous mission, and her halfling companion. We are going to die in a blaze of glory, and it will be wonderful.”
“‘Whatever the hell’ I am, cabrón?” Vasquez asked, sounding amused. “I am older than anyone else here. Your god might come close, maybe not though.”
The demon chuckled, letting his eyes flicker to the black he generally shifted them to when he was doing it on purpose. “Might be you’re right, mon ami,” he offered. “My granddaddy has been around for quite a while, though.”
He noticed that Faraday turned to glance back at him with a sly grin, and he winked at the Fae. It was clear that he was trying to puzzle out just where to classify him on the scale of Antichrists I Have Known, and Goodnight had no doubt that he would be above Mordecai at any rate; much as he loved his siblings, Mordecai was an unrepentant asshole even to his brothers and sisters. Doubtful that he’d been much kinder to other monsters.
“Maybe your grandfather know my sisters and brothers, huh?” Vasquez offered with a far too toothy grin; how the humans kept missing how sharp those teeth were was a mystery for the ages, but perhaps it was similar to how the humans didn’t understand their mind-language when they spoke it aloud.
“What a charming thought,” he drawled dryly before glancing back at a far too amused Billy. “I sense we are bonding.”
In short order, the group arrived at the supply station and set about looking for the tracker Jack Horne. No one could give them a firm answer, and Billy frowned as he looked around.
“What’s wrong, my dear?” Goodnight asked aloud, a frown on his own lips. Faraday and Vasquez both turned his way curiously.
“I don’t think this is a good idea, Goody,” his angel replied. “I have followed Horne’s exploits many times, sent my Reapers for those whose scalps he took.”
“Shit,” Faraday muttered. “Hasn’t he killed, like, three hundred or so of the Crow?”
“That is a good many dead men, my friends,” Vasquez offered. “Many angry souls. That is why my kind eat every part of our enemy: body, mind, soul. Nothing left to become angry.”
Billy gave Vasquez a long look before continuing his thought, even as Chisolm approached a couple of young men who had just returned down the mountain. “Three hundred angry souls is a heavy burden on a man. That way leads to… something I don’t want to think about.”
“A wendigo,” Goodnight said abruptly, feeling his black blood freeze in his veins. “You think Horne is going to go wendigo when he dies, don’t you?”
“I’m hoping you’re wrong,” Faraday said firmly, although even he looked incredibly pale.
“Gentlemen,” Chisolm called over, and the four monsters looked to where their hunter comrade was waiting. “These young fellows claim to have information on Jack Horne.”
“Yeah!” one of the children called out. “We done killed him!”
“Madre de todos los dios,” Vasquez muttered, and Billy grunted in agreement.
“We are talking about Jack Horne?” Goodnight asked almost fearfully, moving to the porch and leaning on the post with one arm. “I mean, the Jack Horne, the legend Jack Horne?”
“Legend? Legend my ass,” the child holding the rifle said. “He may have killed three hundred Crow, but he ain’t never met the Pigeon Brothers before.”
“And you said that’s Jack Horne’s rifle?” Chisolm asked, sounding a bit disappointed and somehow not noticing that his collection of monsters was verging on panic.
The brother holding the rifle flipped it over to show off the JH engraved on the stock. “It was Jack Horne’s rifle,” the one not holding it stated. “There’s an army base offering a thousand dollars for” — and here he stammered as his brother shoved him — “proof of death. Rifle ought’a do.”
Faraday sat up straighter, eyes shifting in the light to something otherworldly. “You don’t have a body?” he asked, voice wavering only enough that his fellow monsters noticed. Goodnight himself felt that same cold fear fall over him, and he subconsciously sniffed at the air. If he even caught a whiff of wendigo, he was drawing his revolver and shooting first without ever asking questions.
The brother with the rifle snickered. “Ol’ Len here hit him over the head with a rock,” he said with something like pride in his tone. “Fell over the cliff when he did it.”
“So you got no body,” the demon stated, eyes shifting to white for half a second before flicking to black.
Len Pigeon turned to shoot a glare at the demon, either bravely or stupidly meeting his gaze. “Just what the hell are you trying—” he began, only to be interrupted by the hatchet that had found itself in his chest.
All eyes turned to see where it had come from, and four monsters all swore in their own tongue as they caught sight of Jack Horne stalking down the mountain. The aura of near-death was so strong that Goodnight nearly growled, and his right hand fell to the weapon on his left hip. From the corner of his eye, he noted that Faraday had a hand on the pistol in his gunslinger’s rig, Billy had one of his longer blessed blades drawn, and Vasquez was responding with both pistols and bared teeth; chances were good that if Horne came their way, the ancient monster was planning to devour the man.
The brother holding the rifle stumbled backwards, trying to fire off a shot and failing in spectacular fashion. Horne stalked up to him and ripped his weapon away before bashing the young fool in the face with the stock. He then lifted one leg and, with a grunt verging on a roar that chilled all present, stomped down on the poor unfortunate’s head. The monsters could hear the skull crunching beneath his foot, and Billy’s wings flared briefly in the shadows as they waited for the man to fall on the corpse and begin to feed.
“Pigeon Brothers weren’t famous for very long,” Goodnight found himself saying, only to flinch as the potential threat moved to face them.
Except Jack Horne merely stared a moment, blinking absently at the assembled men and monsters before speaking in a raspy voice.
“These two unholy creatures bashed me over the head with a rock and stole my property.”
“He’s close to shifting,” Faraday remarked mentally to his fellow monsters. “Not there yet, but too close for my taste.”
“I can eat him, if you like,” Vasquez offered.
“Now I have a right,” Horne continued as he walked closer and retrieved his hatchet and horse, “by the law and by the Lord to take back what is mine. Are we in agreement?”
Billy responded by twitching his blade briefly; Faraday gave a slight nod while Vasquez backed away with both hands raised in a placating manner. Goodnight was the only one to give a verbal, “Yeah,” in reply.
Chisolm spoke up again, “Mister Horne, my name is Sam Chisolm. We met up in Cheyenne about six years back. I was hoping you would be interested in a proposition.”
Horne looked almost through Chisolm, as if he didn’t even see him. Faraday cleared his throat.
“Government doesn’t pay a bounty on redskins no more.” When Horne looked his way, Goodnight moved a half-step closer to the Fae and let out a low hiss at the threat. Faraday continued, “You must be out of work.”
“Well,” Horne said slowly, “that’s a whole ‘nother story.”
“We are out to help some good people face a monstrous foe,” Chisolm said. “I was hoping you… might be interested.”
Horne gave him a long look before heaving a weary sigh and moving to go back up the mountain. In a stunning display of self-preservation, young Teddy Q all but jumped out of the man’s way as he ambled on by.
“I believe,” Faraday said slowly, “that bear was wearing people’s clothes.”
The irreverent remark broke the tension, and the assembled monsters chuckled a bit before moving to their mounts once again. Now that they would be leaving the future wendigo behind, all were breathing a little easier.
Hopefully, Chisolm had no more nasty surprises in store for his supposed allies.