• The town was made on the skeleton of the old town. The buildings were built of scrap metal from whatever the settlers could find. A large generator was in the first floor of the large building in the town square. The second floor was the inn and saloon. Small shacks surrounded the square and a wall surrounded the town. The buildings were mainly houses, but some had neon signs reading jail, sheriff, and armory. The wall was about three stories high and had a rusty catwalk for the local guards. Over the gate, that was just big enough for a cart, was the sign Zealington. The years of nuclear holocaust had destroyed the world, but not the pest known as mankind and they lived in similar settlements.
    Zealington was located in the crossroads of the trade routes from the cities of Alabstra, Hailwind, Tyrson, and Ladrell. Around it was the cracked and destroyed roads to the cities and the desert of ash and debris. Bandit camps were in the junkyard to the north, the vermin of the human race lived in the destroyed ships and military vehicles. Rumors of a secret underground hive of the bandits had never been proven because all brave enough to venture north were killed. To the south was a dome that was guarded by the military from Hailwind. The dome was a trading post that sold anything from food to weapons to old repaired vehicles that nobody could afford. To the east was the ruins of a bridge over a small river that was now dry and filled with giant rats. To the west was the neverending desert and eventually the trail of skeletons from the people who had tried to find any other settlements.
    At night the raiders would come out of their fortress and raid the town and attack traders that dared to leave protected areas. The rats would move from the riverbed to the desert to hunt snakes and other animals, the dome and the town's doors would close and lock. The town's militia would walk the wall and the wind would bring a new layer of dust over the town to add to the almost dead look of it. During the day the traders would pass by, stop for a meal and a drink then leave. Some stayed for the local cathouse and saloon for a bit longer and leave drunk and end up getting killed by bandits that night because they were too busy wasting money to realize that it was dusk.
    The man walked towards this small dusty town. He had a worn trench coat on to protect himself from the wind and debris. A belt of large bullets was slung across his chest and another was around his waist. Two large revolvers hung on his hips and looked much more clean than the man himself. He also had a bolt-action rifle hanging from one shoulder loosely. The man wore faded jeans and a grimy button up shirt that was patched at spots. He had messy shoulder-length brown hair that matched his short beard and mustache. He had clear, piercing emerald eyes that looked out of place on the worn figure. Many travelers were as well armed as the man and dressed the same, yet this man was different. Almost scary.
    The man walked into the town and went to the saloon like everyone else. Bought a drink like evryone else and drank it like everyone else. Yet unlike everyone else, he had a hand on his revolver at all times. He never spoke a word to anyone, he had set down the money and taken the bottle of whiskey from the counter before the bar tender noticed he was there. The locals stayed away from the man and watched him with a mix of horror and curiousity. Finally a drunk trader spoke to the man. It was in the square and the trader demanded that the man return the stolen revolvers at his sides and the man spoke. His voice was also out of place on the worn man. It was calm, attractive, and very soft. The man told the trader that drunk accusations were not a smart idea to anyone and that he should go back to his business. The trader drew a large pistol. There were two loud cracks as the man fired two bullets into the trader's forehead before anyone could blink. The man holstered the revolvers and walked to the inn to get a room for the night.
    The next morning the man went to the saloon again and bought himself breakfast, two eggs, bacon, and piece of toast. The locals' mouths watered at the sight of the meal. Nobody could afford that type of food, only the big traders that was in the protection business.
    The man never left that day and stayed another night. The next day he had more of the expensive meals and said nothing to people. The third day though, the bandits attacked the town and had forced the gate open. The standard run and hide tactic went into effect as bandits broke down every door they found and stole everything. During the middle of the raid there was the loud cracking of revolvers and then silence. The bandits swarmed to the inn and more cracking was heard as the entire raid party ran for the gate and all died short of escape. The man stood at the start of the bloddy line with smoke coming out of the revolvers in a thin whisp.
    "Stupid thugs think they own the world now." The townspeople didn't know if they should thank or run the man out of town for killing the bandits. The rest of the bandits would be mad now, but the town now had this killer that seemed to have a grudge against the bandits. A small girl walked out of the inn and to the man. She gave his jeans a gentle tug. The man looked down at the girl as she held out a small stuffed bear.
    "Thank you mister."
    "Why miss, I would have been as bad as them to let them steal your friend from you." The man holstered the revolvers and knelt down to be eye level with the girl.
    "You should get some sleep now though, we don't want you to be tired when you visit me again, do we?" Theman smiled and gave the girl a gentle pat on the head.
    The small girl was Lilly Smith, her entire family was killed by the bandits and old Martin gave her a room in his inn for her to stay. She was always very playful and friendly, but quiet since her parents died.She never spoke unless she was spoken to and it frightened the town to see her with this killer.
    The man returned to his room and old Martin gently picked up Lilly.
    "Lilly, why were you with that man?"
    "Why that is Mister Marcus Maldra, he was daddy's friend from Hailwind. Daddy said that Mister Maldra would come protect me if anything happened."
    "When do you see Mister Maldra?"
    "Oh he lets me come into his room at night and he tells me stories until I go to sleep, he is really nice!" Lilly smiled at old Martin and wiggled her bear.
    "Can I go to bed now?"
    "Yes, thank you Lilly."
    "Your welcome!" Old Martin set Lilly down and she skipped off to her room. The townspeople looked at eachother.
    "I heard that Mister Smith was friends with the a Guardian."
    "Shut up Matthew, Guardians are myths."
    "No they are not, they are from Hailwind."
    "Who cares, we need to get this cleaned up." The discussion ended and the bodies were stacked outside as a warning to any other bandits.
    The next day Lilly came down with Marcus and they both had breakfast, walked around the town and played catch in the square. Meanwhile the town watched.
    That night, while Marcus told stories to Lilly, the town had a meeting about this Marcus Maldra.
    "Guardians are a group of people from Hailwind that are trained to kill off entire towns, they are the special forces of the already bloodthirsty Hailwind Military."
    "Yes, but they don't exist."
    "Did you see how those men died though, he cut them down and there were at least twenty of them, none of those bandits got to the gate."
    "Guardian or not, he is obviously friends with the Smith family."
    "So what, he is dangerous."
    "So, he doesn't want to kill us, he wants to guard her."
    "Fine we'll leave him be, but anything suspicious, we alert the soldiers at the dome."
    "Agreed." The townsfolk agreed on the idea of leaving Marcus alone and went to their homes.
    The town went back to the usual routine with the exception of the killer and the girl running around and playing. Over the days people accepted Marcus as a townsman and broke down their barriers against him.
    A week from the bandit attack there was another raid. The bandits got into the town and escaped with much less than usual and seemed to be running to their fortress much faster than usual too. A few of the militia fired after them then noticed a lone figure on the bandits' tail, a straggler who had encountered Marcus.
    Marcus was sprinting after the group as they carried Lilly to the junkyard. He had his rifle in his arms and aimed at the bandit in the rear and fired, the bandit flopped over and went still, Marcus loaded another bullet and fired at another, the bandit fell over. The remaining ones sped up, filled with fear of this man. Marcus had killed five by the time they reached the junkyard and guards fired on him. Marcus fired his rifle, hitting a guard in the face with a bloddy spray. He dropped his rifle and drew his revolvers to unleash a lead rain on the remaining guards who fell quickly. Marcus reloaded with almost as much speed as he fired and ran into the junkyard, then a large truck, then into a small entrance to a hive. He created a path of bodies as he ran further down to the lower levels. Hundreds of bandits were dying at the hands on one man. He reached the bottom floor and kicked down the last door.
    "Give me back Lilly you sick animals!" Marcus brought up his revolvers into the face of a large Bandit who seemed to be the leader. The entire eight chambers of each revolver were emptied into the terrified face of the small girl that was brought up as a shield. The last bandit fell over in a puddle of his own blood. Marcus loaded a single bullet into one of his revolvers and bit down on the hot barrel.
    The next morning old Martin noticed that the odd friends never came down for breakfast and checked their rooms to find them empty. A dead bandit was in the corner of Lilly's room and Marcus' weapons were missing. A search party was sent out for the two and came back with no luck.
    A man in the Hailwind Military uniform came to the town and requested a meeting. He stood in the square and looked at the dusty people. There was a long moment of silence before the man slowly asked if a man by the name of Marcus Maldra came through the town, he was a soldier in the Guardian unit that had run off when he got word that his friend Alec Smith died of a bandit attack. The townpeople looked around at the others and all shook their heads. The soldier frowned and nodded. He was about to leave when he thanked the people and told them that the local bandit camp was empty with the exception of the dead bodies of bandits.
    Reports on the camp proved the hive theory, but one of the floors was collapsed and the only thing found was a well cleaned revolver.
    The town of Zealington was back to it's dusty, dull self as traders went through. The area was bandit free and the traders stayed longer to get their money's worth from the saloon and cathouse. Dust was blown in each night to add to the old town's look.
    Two figures walked toward the town from Hailwind's direction. One was tall and had a worn trench coat, his rifle and one of his revolvers were gone, but he didn't need them anymore. The second figure was a small girl holding the man's hand and a small teddy bear. The two walked into the town and were quietly welcomed back. Neither would explain what happened in the hive. Rumors were passed around that Marcus had killed all the bandits, the last of the bandits tried to use Lilly as a shield, but Marcus had shot an outline around her and then thinking he killed her almost killed himself. Lilly had saved him and they faked their deaths to escape the military, but nobody really knew.