chapter search

Affiliates

Sins of the Soul

First Meeting

“I can’t believe this is happening” Meryl Stryfe grumbled, walking along the deserted street with her partner, Milly Thompson.

The two insurance girls had been assigned to settle a few claims in the area known as New Amazon, a fitting name for the wettest place on the planet. They had spent the entire day gathering information from the local populace and typing out their reports, with their business finally ending at about sundown. Now the two starving girls had been walking the town, searching for a place to eat, when the storm hit. And since rain was an unlikely weather condition to be trapped in on Gunsmoke, neither was prepared for the abnormal downpour now pelting down upon them.

“It could be worse, Meryl” Milly chirped, enjoying the cool weather. “We could be muddy.”

“What do you mean by th-.” Meryl’s sentence was interrupted by her falling face first into the soggy ground, made worse by the tomas stables nearby.

“Meryl, are you alright?!” Milly asked worriedly, helping her senior to her feet.

“I’m fine” she responded looking down at her ruined clothes. And these were new, too she thought dejectedly. “I just tripped over something.”

They both looked back, wondering what had made her fall. To their surprise, in the middle of the road lay what appeared to be the soggy remains of two figures lying on top of a huge cross. The both of them crept closer, with Meryl picking up a stick, to investigate the apparently lifeless bodies. Reaching them, she tentatively poked the sharp object against the figure on top. Both her and Milly jumped back when they heard an audible groan emit from the mass, proceeded by a trailing of words too low to distinguish.

Cautiously stooping down to the level of the bodies, Meryl inspected the two. They were both men, though she’d never seen anyone dress as these two did. The person on the bottom was dressed head to foot in a black suit, complete with matching shoe and hair color. The other was blond, wearing what appeared to be a bright red coat and sporting the most idiotic grin she’d ever seen on a face. Sniffing the air around them, her nose wrinkled up in disgust. She turned toward her partner, a frown on her lips.

“They’re drunk” she said, rising and looking once more at the now decidedly unconscious tangle of limbs. “It seems that one passed out over the other.”

“What do you think we should do, Meryl?” Milly asked worriedly, gazing at the two pathetic creatures once called men.

“We have no choice. We have to get them out of the rain or they may get sick.”

Fortunately, a restaurant was no more than a few feet away and Milly was able to drag both the one dressed in black and the cross toward the establishment. Meryl, on the other hand, had a hard time with her cargo. She’d been stuck with the person she’d poked, and he was somewhat conscious when she lifted his body over her small frame.

“You’re heavier than you look” she huffed, nearly losing her balance with the added weight.

“Mommy” her package murmured, his head rising than falling back in a pathetic attempt to awaken from the stupor he was in.

“Why me?” Meryl asked aloud, slowly following her partner into the restaurant.

Finding a vacant table in a dark corner, the two insurance girls disposed of their cargo on the seats available. Then they sat themselves down beside their respective drunks, contemplating their situation. Fortunately, the fallen fools began stirring at the noise of the other patrons, groggily opening their eyes. But they realized their mistake too late, as the lights blasted into their sensitive organs. The pain awoke them fully from their hangovers, and they started up from their chairs with confused stares.

“Calm down” Meryl softly ordered, grabbing the hand of the blond stranger. She caught the attention of his eyes with her own, making sure he was focused on her words. “We found you lying in the street and took you in here” she explained as carefully as she could.

They sat down wordlessly, looking at one another and then at their saviors. The one dressed in red scratched the back of his head, obviously contemplating how to start a conversation from the awkward situation. Milly decided to save him the trouble.

“Hi!! My name’s Milly Thompson and this is Meryl Stryfe. What are your names?” she asked cheerfully, as if they’d met in the restaurant and not out in the mud soaked street.

“My name’s Vash” said the blond, then pointed at his drinking partner. “And he’s Nicholas D. Wolfwood.”

“I’m a traveling priest” the mentioned man said, which explained the dark clothing he was wearing. “You know, spreading the good word, saving the lambs that have strayed off the path.”

“Hi Mr. Priest” Milly practically yelled, nearly toppling the table in an effort to shake his hand.

“You can just call me Wolfwood” he said, smiling. He took the offered limb and was shaken vigorously by the big girl.

“Okay, Mr. Priest.”

“That’s Wolfwood” he tried to correct her, pulling his hand free from the atom crushing grip.

“Okay, Mr. Priest” Milly said, giving him a clueless smile.

A head collided with the tabletop in resignation, as the two other occupants of the conversation watched on in amusement. Meryl turned slightly to the blond sitting next to her, after having assessed the man in black.

“Where did you get this guy from?” Meryl whispered to Vash, questioning the authenticity of the ‘priest’ before her.

“I met him a few years back in the desert” he replied, noticing as Milly pulled a container of pudding from her coat. He smiled as he watched her protect the sugary food from a spoon Wolfwood had swiped from another table. He’d never seen his bible friend hit it off with a person so quickly. “He was pretty ragged, so I helped him along to the next town. We’ve been traveling together ever since.”

“Oh” was all Meryl replied, as a waitress came up to take their orders.

“What’ll you two couples have for tonight?” she asked, smiling at the four ‘lovebirds.’ Meryl choked back an indignant reply, while Vash practiced his long standing tradition. Flirting with the waitress.

Grabbing the employee’s hand and kneeling before her proposal style, he turned on his puppy eyes. Which made Wolfwood wince and Meryl’s mouth drop in shock. Milly was still distracted with her pudding.

“I can’t believe it!’ he exclaimed, loud enough so most of the other diners could hear the conversation. “You’re the girl from my dreams! The one I’ve been waiting for! So, you wanna go out with me?” he asked tactfully. But all he received for his trouble was a down-turned smile and an introduction with the floor. The waitress quickly took everyone else’s orders and left the table, her nose turned up at the blond.

Now with both his pride and nose bruised, Vash slouched back into his chair. He didn’t think he’d deserved that kind of treatment, and no food to boot. After all, it was only the first...time.....he......wait a minute.

“Wolfwood” he squeaked, making the priest turn his head questioningly. “Do you happen to remember what bar we were thrown out of earlier?”

Wolfwood shook his head slowly, looking around the establishment they were in. Then his eyes widened, as he stared directly behind Vash. “Needle noggin’, I think it’s time to leave.”

“Why? What’s the pro-” His sentence was abruptly halted by a large hand wrapping around his throat, cutting off his ability to speak, breath, and possibly even scream. All of which Vash really wanted to do at that moment. He felt himself being lifted from the seat, and suddenly the blond was staring straight into the eyes of his one-time arch nemesis, Buba.

“I told ya two ta not come back” the bartender known as Buba growled, tightening his grip on the steadily panicking Vash. “The waitresses didn’t want no more of yer abuse. Now get out, and never come back.”

With that said, he walked to the door and threw Vash out. Unfortunately for Vash, the bartender neglected to open the door before ejecting him. With a loud slam and an even louder scream, there was now the perfect image of the blond in the hardwood door. Which Wolfwood gladly stepped through on his hasty retreat out of the restaurant, followed by the more than perplexed insurance girls.