Hidden Amongst the Sands
The early afternoon sun beamed down into the town, charring the sands with its magnificent rays and startling strength. Occasionally a young Kauboy or girl would pass down the wooden streets, yet the weather was far too daunting to travel for long, especially with the large lack of winds surfacing around the numerous sand dunes.
Goldrun stood still, a tense aura circling its many stores and homes, all held securely in the golden riches of the sands. The town had always been hidden away to avoid unnecessary dramatics, yet something was bringing the troubled domain to the surface of Neopia. Ever since the Sheriff, Ellie, had strangely disappeared, a large influx of intrusive gangs were using Goldrun as their battlefields and claiming it as their own territory, resulting in the once peaceful town rapidly gaining unwanted attention.
Every so often the people of Goldrun felt blessed with such a peaceful afternoon as it was today, but they knew well enough to not hold onto that dream for long. The drama would always start again, and today it appeared to be starting at the centre of the town in a small Saloon.
A collection of cheers erupted from the nearby table as the large Skeith placed down his playing cards. "Four Aces," he grunted, his gang chuckling away manically behind him. "C'mon, pay up."
"Hurry up, ya loser!" cackled a lanky Lenny, his dark hat covering his icy eyes.
"We haven't got all day!" shrieked another goon, this time a chubby Kacheek whose belt was decorated with a wide assortment of cork guns.
Fatima gazed pitifully as the Skeith's gang cornered the elderly Usul. "I-I d-din't even w-want to play!" he squealed as he sank lower and lower into his chair, yet the gang refused to listen and instead dragged him to his feet. The Usul stared fearfully, his eyes a picture of panic.
"Oi, Hicks! Leave the poor feller alone!" called Fatima from across the bar as she brushed her long brown locks behind her face and continued to clean an empty glass.
"Shut up and git me another juice, woman!" grunted Hicks in reply, his deep and brutal tone barely audible.
"Hicks, yer aint gitting another drink until yer put that Usul down!" said the Kyrii sternly, not even gazing up from her domain, the bar. Fatima had always been known for her fearless attitude amongst the punters, especially towards gang leaders such as Hicks who would have easily dominated the good town of Goldrun if it wasn't for her defensive acts.
Hicks' face turned bright red as he shoved the poor Usul out of his hands and gazed demandingly towards Fatima. Instantly the elderly pet sprinted out of the Saloon as the Skeith charged towards the bar and reached into his pocket. Fatima barely flinched as he pulled out a hefty Cork Gun and placed it forcefully up against her head, the tip piercing her ear. "I said, get me another juice."
"I've had enough of them pointed at me head to last me a life time, Hicks," said the brown Kyrii calmly, as she gazed up towards him. "You haven't paid in here since the first a the month a Sleeping, and I'm not taking it anymore."
She watched expressionlessly as Hicks' face glowed with fury, his arm shaking as he pointed the gun even deeper into her ear. "Now you listen here, missy, yer don't know who yer messin' with. Goldrun belongs to me."
"Well, we'll be seeing about that when Sheriff Ellie comes back to town, won't we, Hicks? Yer wont be so tough then!"
"Ellie? Do you honestly think a little Kaugirl's going to even place a scratch on me? It was probably me that scared that poor kid outta town in the first place!"
"Ellie'll be back any day now, and just you wait. I can't wait to see your little face when you and your goons are kicked outta Goldrun. Now, are you going to pay for your juice, or what?"
Silence followed. Every punter in the Saloon was now staring curiously at the two pets. Hicks loomed over the Kyrii like a tower, yet Fatima held her ground, even with the shaking cork gun fastened to her head. All that could be heard was heavy breathing as the Skeith forced back his fury, yet after a while he stopped, withdrew his gun harshly and turned to the door.
"Move it!" he yelled at his gang as he shoved past the small wooden frames with force and out into the burning sands of Goldrun, his confused followers chasing after him rapidly. Almost instantly the Saloon burst into a round of applause for the Kyrii, yet she gave this no attention and instead walked over to the injured doorframe, which was now hanging off loosely.
"Ohhhh...I am goin' ter kill him one of these days!" she muttered to herself as she examined the door. The outside heat was burning her already as she mended the wooden frame, and her forehead was beginning to dampen with sweat. The Kyrii was hardly young, yet she was well known around the town of Goldrun for her assertiveness to the troublesome Western folk. She was highly respected for her beauty and caring nature amongst the townspeople and would often dedicate her time to her small Saloon.
Fatima had to admit, however, that her reputation was becoming tiresome. With Sheriff Ellie out of town for some unknown reason, many brutes such as Hicks were intruding upon the usually peaceful Goldrun, and the Kyrii was finding that many of the weaker townspeople were gathering amongst her Saloon hoping for protection. Although her business was improving, however, Fatima found that the towns standards were being demoralised by gangs and that many business' were being overrun and destroyed by these uncaring villains.
Yet Fatima knew she wouldn't have this happen to her Saloon and, with a heavy push, shoved the injured door back into place and gazed out into the openness surrounding her lovely business. Goldrun sure was a gorgeous town, located between healthy helpings of sand which glowed endlessly out towards her every day, yet it was this emptiness that surrounded Goldrun that left it so entirely helpless in times of need, and with Sheriff Ellie gone there was no-one the townspeople could turn to in order to fend off the incoming gangs.
No-one knew where the Sheriff Kaugirl had gone, but Fatima sincerely hoped that she had foreseen the arrival of these goons and was off travelling to far off lands in order to bring help. The Kyrii didn't know how much more she could take of villains such as Hicks, and even she was beginning to doubt her own safety.
Sighing, the brown Kyrii turned around and walked back towards her bar, a new array of glasses previously filled with Neocola all sparkled out towards her, waiting to be cleaned. Fatima quickly grasped the cloth held securely behind her ear and began to scrub.
The day had proved fairly uneventful and Fatima saw the last customer out cheerfully. "Y'all come back again, now!" she said, waving the small and content Pteri away. Fatima, smiling, began to turn around and return to her Saloon, when a small yet noticeable vibration stirred in the sands beneath her.
Curious, the Kyrii turned around yet it took her a while to actually see the source of this mystery. It was only when she saw the eruption of sand in the far distance that she witnessed what was charging towards her. A collection of Uni's stampeded up to the Saloon, riding on top of them was none other than a large Skeith and an assortment of shady characters.
"Well hello, darlin'!" snorted Hicks as the Unis surrounded the Kyrii and forced her against the Saloon wall.
"What in Neopia do you want, Hicks?" replied Fatima angrily. Her heart was pounding yet she knew she mustn't let that weakness show.
"Me an' my pardners have come ter teach yer a little lesson, haven't we lads?" A hideous collection of jeers followed. "Yer see, Fatima, with Sheriff Ellie gone, this town is mine and I'm not going to have a little missy mess that up for me. You should respect yet leaders."
"Leader?" chuckled Fatima. "Don't make me laugh. And what exactly are yer going ter do to me, eh? Fire one of yer cork guns? Been there, done that."
Hicks watched her, his face once more glowing in the surrounding dusk of day. He lowered his black Kauboy hat over his eyes and glared his teeth at her. "Well, we'll see 'bout that, now, won't we?" He reached into his pocket and revealed his sparkling Cork Gun, and with a small breath, shouted, "Fire!"
Fatima had barely any time to think. With a sharp movement she reached into her flowing red dress and revealed her own Kyrii Cork Gun, its golden belt shining out towards her. Leaping sideways to avoid the sudden onslaught of corks fired at her, she landed on the sand and began to fire away.
Her first victim was a large Mynci, his puny glasses shattering as Fatima's cork pounded into them. "Ouch! Watch the glasses!" he said as he began to fire, yet missing by a distance, obviously sightless without his lenses.
Fatima grunted as she regained her footing and began to fire once more at the vicious gang, this time hitting the Uni that a very unfortunate Lenny was riding. With a piercing squeal the Uni leapt into the air and fled, charged into another Uni, and sprinted away into the distance with a very confused and perplexed Lenny on top.
"Eh? Marshall! Get back 'ere!" yelled Hicks furiously. An eerie silence followed as all of the brutes stared at Fatima in amazement of what they had just seen. Had a mere Saloon owner just returned fire on an entire gang, led by none other than Hicks himself? It couldn't be. Yet deep down they knew it was all true, and this fear was evident as the Uni's began to pace backwards in fear of being fired at also.
Fatima smiled at the sight, and with one final shot, fired into the pink sky. Almost instantly the Uni's fled with their helpless riders into the distance and away from Goldrun. Only one stayed, simply due to the fact that Hicks was riding on top of it. "Erm... Hicks? I don't like this..." said the Uni, yet the Skeith simply stared at the Kyrii, eyes filled with confusion.
"I think you best join them, Hicks," said Fatima calmly. "That is if you don't wanna get hurt, little missy."
"I... I... I'm not goin' anywhere, this town is mine, yer hear? Mine!"
"Fine... if you're gunna be like that, now." And with that Fatima held up her Kyrii Cork Gun once more.
"That's it! Sorry, Hicks!" screamed the Uni as he shoved the large Skeith off of his back and fled. Fatima watched as Hicks pounded to the floor with a large thud. Laughing, the Kyrii approached the dazzled Skeith sprawled across the floor.
"Now, Hicks, what's it ter be?"
With a gasp the Skeith leapt from the ground and charged after the distant Uni, his back covered in the burning grit of sands. "This isn't the last you've heard of me, Goldrun!" he yelled as he regained himself from a slight stumble and continued his sprint.
Fatima laughed as she placed the Kyrii Cork Gun back into her dress and re-entered the Saloon. "Maybe life without Sheriff Ellie isn't so bad..." she said, waling towards the empty glasses.