Arthur Morgan v. Dr. Caustic

Arthur Morgan

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The ground beneath Arthur’s boots was soft with loam and dead leaves, his movements nearly silent in the yawning gloom of dusk. Darkness swelled beneath the trees as the jungle gradually faded into the eerie stillness of night, the mist-filled hollow he’d been traveling through quite peacefully during the daylight hours abruptly made treacherous.

Every tangled root and jutting stone threatened to topple him— could’ve very well sent him sprawling down into steep glens cluttered with sharp rocks and unseen predators. Arthur was rather glad for his lantern, then, and lit it to stave off the creeping shadows.

The former outlaw walked with a steady purpose, the lantern clutched in his grip swaying its gentle light across the creeping lengths of vines and the rugged trunks of trees, occasionally reflecting the rounded, beady eyes of birds nestled in their nighttime perches. Distant roars and howls came from far off, ghoulish enough to raise the hairs on the back of his neck, though he weren’t sure if it was the sound of something getting ate or some other critter doing the eating. Yet, Arthur did not waver in his steps, only eying the dense vegetation around him with a healthy measure of distrust.

He’d set out at daylight from the university campus, the details of a bounty written on a tattered scrap of paper now securely tucked into his back pocket. A man, they’d said, by the name of Caustic. Called himself a doctor, and maybe he really was, though Arthur didn’t reckon so. The things he’d been told this feller had done… it was enough to chill the blood in damn near anybody’s veins, that was for certain.

Arthur paused, the lantern’s golden glow casting across the wavering strands of a massive spider’s web. He squinted through the curtain of leaves and towering tree trunks obscuring his view, one hand falling to the gun resting at his hip.

There, through the trees, was a light. Not just any light, neither— no, this light coalesced in a small ember of burning orange, sputtering in stubborn bursts against the darkness that threatened to swallow it whole. A campfire.

A frown ticked at the corner of Arthur’s mouth. The inviting flicker in the dark seemed far too wonderful to his exhausted body, the promise of warmth, food, and company drawing him in like a moth to a flame. Despite how he longed for the comfort of a fire, Arthur hung back, carefully judging the distance between himself and the far off glow. It was about twenty yards out, far enough that only the faintest hint of smoke was carried by the breeze.

Arthur considered. It was possible that whoever’d built the fire had already spotted his lantern weaving between the trees, though he couldn’t be certain of it. Regardless of if they were friendly or not, though, if they had seen his light, they were likely waiting with some kind of deadly weapon in hand. No one worth their salt ever walked these woods unarmed; it’d be tantamount to suicide. If he was gonna walk up on them, he’d need to make a racket on his approach— make it clear that he weren’t a threat.

Only question was whether they was a threat. That thought sat heavy in Arthur’s mind even as he began to creep forward, lantern extinguished and hanging from his belt loop.

He stopped at the edge of the firelight’s reach, tucked himself behind a boulder wrapped up in tree roots and peered around the edge. It took his vision a moment to adjust after stumbling around the near total darkness for so long, but eventually his gaze sharpened, eyes alighting on a figure seated beside the crackling flames, the hulking shadow of an ancient ruin towering behind.

Hunched beside the fire was an older man, dressed in an odd kind of… smock-looking getup, colored almost like scales. His long brown hair was pushed back from his forehead, baring pale skin pocked with age, though Arthur couldn’t quite make out the rest of his face in the guttering firelight. Almost as if by unstoppable force, Arthur’s gaze was drawn to the man’s hands, which were fast at work spooning a helping of beans out of a can and… directly into his mouth.

Arthur nodded, satisfied. He was something of a bean man himself, and that right there was definitely the way to do it. Nothin’ better than a helping of cold beans straight out of the can, no sir.

Being sure to give a nearby tree branch a good rustling, Arthur strolled out into the small clearing. His gaze flicked around, taking in the surrounding ruin, the crumbling piles of stone laden over with, strangely, a bunch of dead vines and shriveled leaves, before focusing again on the old feller seated beside the fire.

“Hey there mister,” Arthur greeted, tipping his hat. “You mind if I rest here awhile?”

Fight intro post, shouldn't be counted towards the total. Sorry it's so... lengthy.

Participants: Dr. Caustic and Arthur Morgan
Reason: Caustic be killin’ trees/people or something on Kraw and Arthur don’t like that, no sir.
Rules: 3 posts each, 800 words cap per post, deadline: 72 hours
Judge: Wyatt
Setting: Kraw
 

Dr. Caustic

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Satisfied with the day's results, I'd taken the trouble to clear a significant area of the dead and withered plant life, which made for perfect kindling. Removing much of the brush robbed Kraw's ambush predators of their most favored routes, and the blaze of the fire would keep away the rest. The planticide's results were promising, especially as the fire took to the kindling. My camp had been set up with a small tent and a table to work on, vials and dissected specimens that had been exposed to the initial dispersal pinned to the wood.

I had just eaten half of my dinner before a distinctly human rustling sounded near the still forested perimeter. As I raised a brow towards the noise, a disheveled man came through into the light of the fire. Rugged and dressed in leathers and layered clothing, firearms at his hip and back. He looked strikingly similar to the mercenary hunter I'd met my first day on this planet.

"Feel free to rest for a moment. I wouldn't linger though." A dried twig cracked under my boot as I got up and turned to my specimen table, walking over and reaching under the wooden slats.

"Thank you kindly, partner. Name's Arthur. Been walkin' a spell and I could sure use a rest." The man entered the perimeter of my camp, his eyes attracted to the fire and the promise of what he could use it for. The stranger crouched low and started to dig in his rucksack for a mug and a tin of coffee. "Don't suppose I could trouble you for some wa- ah, there ya are."

The cowboy reached past the ring of stones for the kettle I'd left on the ground. "You sure are out far...where's the rest of your expedition? Yer a researcher, right?"

I stiffened, my fingers curling around the hard, curved grip of something strapped underneath the table, fingers fumbling with the hasty knots I'd tied.

As Arthur's eyes adjusted to the gloom beyond, he could see further into the darkness beyond my camp, into the...nothing, beyond. The curled brown branches and roots, vines reduced to nothing more than frayed organic rope, but nothing sent the hair of the back of his neck raising more than the harsh chemical tang on the breeze.

The pin dropped.

clk

clk


I swiveled around to see that Arthur had a revolver out and pointed at my head. "I never caught your name...but I bet it's Caustic."

The righteousness in his voice was like a thunderous flatus to my senses, and I sneered at his attempt to gain the upper hand. "Correct. However...you missed several other things." I squinted at his gun. Archaic. Ancient.

"Such as the last 600 years of weapons advancement." I quipped, as the strange white apparatus I held at my hip spat light rounds in a wide spray faster that the eye can blink. "The R-99 type personal defense weapon is a beautiful implement of death."

Word Count: 496 words
Caustic used his metabroken-af R99.
 

Arthur Morgan

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Smoke. Gunfire. Pain.

Arthur Morgan staggered backward, blinded by the white-hot agony slicing across his torso from sternum to hip bone. A slight look of confusion came upon his face, as if he could not truly comprehend the spray of bullets that had punctured his flesh, and then he was crumpling, like a twig bending under the force of an unforgiving heel.

Oh, he fought valiantly to remain on his feet, boots dragging noisily across the chemical-laced grass underfoot as he limped the last desperate steps of a dead man, but eventually even that was too much. Arthur’s fingers went shaky and numb, his pistol plopping onto the forest floor with a dull thud, and his legs bent at the knees, clumsily knocking against each other. With a sharp, cut-off groan, the bounty hunter crashed to the ground like a felled tree, gurgled once, and was silent.

Seconds ticked by. The only sound that pierced the suddenly weighted silence was the crackle and splutter of the fire, huge wafts of smoke guttering in the air between the fallen bounty hunter and his would-be target.

Caustic kept his distance, staring through the flames at the crumpled body of his opponent. His fingers remained locked around the sturdy grip of his R-99, the icy weight of his gaze not wavering for a second.

Long had he devoted himself to the study of death. There was a certain language the body spoke as it neared its natural limits— the artistic slackening of limbs, spread akimbo across the ground in death; the guttural choke of asphyxiation, eyes bulging grotesquely as a victim hiccuped around the rancid fluids produced by their own lungs; the sanguine bloom of flesh cut to ribbons by a hail of bullets… all methods of annihilation he was intimately familiar with.

Death was, quite paradoxically, his life’s work. It was a spectre that shadowed him wherever he went, affecting his every movement, his every breath. Death pervaded, invaded, surrounded all other things with its mortal shadow of loveless light. And Caustic, like the inventors of centuries past who had sought to capture lightning, had harnessed death. Had come to understand it.

This understanding informed him that the moronic bounty hunter, a cowboy of all things, was dead. A disappointing outcome, for the man’s potential as a test subject was now irreparably damaged, but not entirely unexpected.

The doctor half-turned, taking his eyes off the dead man to regard the endless tangle of shadowy jungle that extended far, far beyond the illuminated ring created by his fire. There was a possibility this man hadn’t come alone— that there was a much larger hunting party waiting further in the dark. Or perhaps the cowboy had set out ‘all on his lonesome,’ so to speak, intending to keep the reward to himself.

It didn’t matter. Caustic would either need to dispose of the body or move camp, that much was clear. Perhaps if this ‘Arthur’ had brought a hunting party with him, he could once more study the effects of his signature gas on this universe’s assortment of humanoid species. The man turned back toward the fire, his gun arm lowering slightly—

Caustic’s eyes narrowed, one long, belabored breath hissing through the filters of his mask. The body was gone.

From behind the mossy trunk of a nearby tree, Arthur hunched over with a muted grunt, one hand clutching at his bruised ribs, the other wrapped around the wooden grip of his pistol. The thick material of his raptorskin duster was pocked all over with tiny indentations, messily shredded in places where the bullets had struck. He was suddenly and overwhelmingly grateful to the trapper that’d sold it to him, hoped he’d get to buy the old feller a drink, if he made it out of this mess alive.

“So, you still live,” Caustic called, voice sounding just plain eerie when filtered through that mask of his. “How serendipitous for you.”

The former outlaw pressed even harder against the tree at his back, heart thumping and hot blood roaring in his ears. It was faint, just a whisper of sound beneath the fire’s hungry spitting, but he heard it all the same: the dry crunch of boots passing over the dead grass with a cautious tread, prowling in a wide circle around the clearing…

He holstered his pistol, unslinging the much stronger, sturdier Springfield rifle from where it was strapped to his back. Arthur had a feeling he’d be needing a little more firepower for this one, considering just who he was up against. Weren’t any sense in not going all out, now was there?

‘Sides, the bounty poster hadn’t said to bring the feller in alive.

Arthur chuckled to hisself, breath hitching into a tight wheeze from the pain. “Oh, ain’t it just?”

Word Count: 800 words, Wordcounter.net

Arthur has his Springfield rifle out, is a little hurt from Caustic's R-99 but his Raptorskin Duster helped mitigate the damage.

First real post of the fight let's GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
 

Dr. Caustic

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Bark blew off a gnarled tree trunk four feet to his left, and I watched the next shot come within 6 inches of mh head, sending wooden shrapnel towards my right side. I ducked instinctively, grunting as the explosion hit my padded labcoat and shredded the side of mu face. Even as I blinked back the pain and began to move, heart racing, the faintest hints of a smile came to the edges of my lips beneath the mask. This was my element; I couldn't begin to fathom counting how many times I'd been in this exact situation. Crouching behind cover, bullets flying through the sky intent on finding my vital mass.

First things first. I unclipped a metallic disk from his belt and slung it to the ground with a clunk. As I continued to move off from cover to cover, there was a quiet sucking noise as the gas inside expanded to fill a rubber membrane, the device inflating into a squat black and red barrel with a wide nozzle at the top. I'm rather fond of seeding my traps wherever I take cover in a combat environment, the thrill I get from being notified that one of my traps had gone off because some idiot has blundered into a building or around a corner gun first? Better than most sensations normal people felt. In any case, I moved quickly and quietly through the underbrush, executing a running slide towards a large outcrop of collapsed ruin as Arthur finally found his target and fired another shot. However, I was steadily making my way into close range, and soon enough I would use my superior experience and mastery of combat tactics to bait him into a lethal trap.

Stone walls and rocks were easier to hide behind, and I seeded another two gas traps behind me in innocuous areas before taking a knee behind a broken statue. My intimidating timbre was only enhanced by the echo of the stonework around me as I drew my Wingman and sighted back towards the last spot I'd seen a muzzle flash from. "I've got a dead eye on your forehead, cowboy." I lied. "I'm only hesitating to pull the trigger becaude I would rather see what you're made of up close."

Watching the bushes through my safety goggles, I held my breath. There was a high wall behind me, and if he took the bait and entered the ruin to confront me directly, i could make the entire structure a green hell of poison very quickly, leaving him to choke and die while I watched from above.

"I don't think so, doc." Arthur replied. "What you did to those people tells me you don't mess around with games. You kill if something's a serious threat."

The voice was coming closer, and I could hear boots slowly creeping through the bushes. The soft shushing of metal and the clink of rounds being loaded told me he'd switched his weapons up. As had I.

Turning around, I kicked off the wall and scrambled up to the top of it, spacing myself in between statues like a gargoyle, my Wingman at the ready, covering the two entrances to the little alcove. No matter where he'd enter, he'd trip one of the gas traps I'd planted.


Word count: like 540 or so
Caustic seeded like four traps behind him and kinda "trapped" himself in the ruins. Except not, it's a trap. FOR YOUUUU
 

Arthur Morgan

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Thick jungle parted before Arthur, tangles of leafy brush and weeds pushed aside as the bounty hunter stalked through the undergrowth. The fire’s warmth was far behind him now, the faint glow flickering steadily through the curtain of shriveled vines at his back, fading with every step deeper into the forest’s gloom.

Head bent low and shoulders hunched, Arthur peered suspiciously at the collapsed walls of the ruin, rifle held in a ready position over his midsection. Trickles of distant firelight cast the timeworn rubble in stark relief, the already oppressive darkness seeming to lengthen and twist into strange patterns across the crumbling stones. Every shadow seemed to come alive, every dimly lit crevice appearing to be an optimal hiding spot for his target— imaginary silhouettes of men moving in the black haze of nightfall, ghostly and silent.

There was no telling where that damned doctor had gotten off to, though Arthur’s mind was more than willing to supply possibilities where his eyes failed. It was enough to make the man tighten his grip on his gun, fingers itching for the trigger as his nerves tried to get the best of him.

Taking a quiet breath to steady himself, Arthur shook his head to clear it, refocusing with a newfound sense of purpose on the toppled structure ahead. Caustic was skulking about somewhere in there, likely had his fancy gun drawn and such. Hell, he might’ve already spotted Arthur in all the heavy brush, though the bounty hunter doubted it— he had a powerful feeling that he’d’ve been dead if that were the case.

Despite the risk and the numerous alarm bells ringing in his head, Arthur allowed himself to creep forward. His boots crunched across a smattering of rubble, the ruin’s shadow falling over him like a funeral shroud, instantly swathing his form in near-total blackness. Eyes tracing the decrepit limbs of the statues decorating the ruin’s walls, Arthur adjusted the grip on his rifle—

Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssshh.

The man froze. For a split-second, Arthur was convinced he’d walked up on a snake, for what else could that hair-raising hiss belong to?

And then, well. Then Arthur started choking on nothin’ but air. At least, that’s what it felt like as his lungs began to burn. He rasped harshly, choking on his own spit and fluids, chest feeling like it was going practically concave, like he was drowning on land or struggling to breathe through dry cotton. His vision swam, acidic tears burning at the corners of his eyes, and through it all he could see the thick clouds of green rushing to fill the air, the poisonous gas emanating from an ominous-seeming contraption nestled behind a nearby rock.

Terror surged along Arthur’s spine, making him go rigid as it clamped in a vice grip at the base of his skull. Memories surged to the forefront of his mind, splintered by the remnants of that old bone-deep dread his illness had left behind. It wasn’t so much the noxious fumes that affected him so terribly, but the recollection of his own death… and the deaths of the many folks he’d killed who hadn’t rightly deserved what they got.

Yet, deep underneath it all, Arthur felt something else: determination. Even as his body seemed on the verge of giving up, the outlaw struck out with one hand, gripping the rugged stone of a nearby wall to support his weight. He rose up on one knee, fingers fumbling blindly for his rifle, fighting to stifle the uproarious bout of coughing struggling to break free from his chest.

He hadn’t much liked dying back then, and he certainly didn’t want to die now.

Gritting his teeth, Arthur glared through his tear-streaked vision at his surroundings, gaze suddenly fierce with intent. It was like a balm to his soul when he finally managed to drag his Springfield to him, and even more satisfying when he noted his target perched atop the far wall, perfectly disguised between the stooped figures of two crumbling statues.

It was clear that Caustic noticed that he’d been spotted, for he began to move the instant Arthur raised his gun, his own weapon firing upon the downed bounty hunter. Unfortunately for Caustic, Arthur was a bit quicker on the draw, even as the Wingman’s heavy fire struck him in the side.

Time seemed to slow as Arthur leveled his rifle at Caustic. His eyes narrowed, focusing with pinpoint accuracy on the man’s arm—the tender junction between his shoulder and collar bone—even through the hazy miasma of toxins swirling in the air.

BOOM!

The doctor dropped from his position on the wall, what sounded like a muffled shout reaching Arthur’s ears.

Still wheezing from the gas, Arthur choked on a rheumy laugh. "How you doin' over there, doc? Any aches or pains?"

Word Count: 800 words, Wordcounter.net

Arthur used Dead Eye. Friendly reminder that Arthur Morgan is an asshole lol
 

Dr. Caustic

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Pain spread like fire all over the bloodied and shredded mess of my shoulder as I slipped off the stone ruin and fell bodily to the ground, cursing as I tried to drag myself to a standing position with one arm. For sll my boasting of superior weaponry, the blasted cowboy had hit me with a round the size of a test tube. Intense pain was nothing new, but in this case I could ill afford the opportunity to catalogue it properly this time. The Wingman and the R99 both required two hands to use effectively, both of my weapons rendered near useless for ranged engagement.


Which might work to my advantage, as Arthur clearly held it now, with that massive rifle. I took a moment to steady myself, fingers twitching uselessly on my right hand as burning numbness spread through my arm. "Death follows us both, bounty hunter." I spat, using the wall for support as I crept around the low corner, peeking above the wall to see my opponent warily regarding the gas trap he hadn't tripped. Glancing back up to where I'd been perched, and listening to the rustle of vegetation echoing off the stone, he only heard the click and whoosh of another trap landed behind him.

The cowboy whirled, dropping his rifle and pulling his revolver out, firing at the sound. My trap let out a deflated wheeze as the inflation mechanism was destroyed, saving him from another dose of inhaled poison. I'd already chosen an alternate delivery method before I threw it though, vaulting from another direction and managing to land a heavy punch into Arthur's side.


The man let out a grunt of pain, his padded jacket protecting him from the worst of the force behind it and the nasty edge my gloves were stained with. My followup was to a more unprotected spot on his jaw, skin sizzling as he wrenched his neck forward and headbutted me hard, managing to crack my goggles. "Insolent wretch!" I hissed, Arthur clearly no stranger to a knock down drag out fist fight. His own skill was my equal, and we traded blows and positions on the ground several times. Green and yellow stains smoked on his skin, one of his ears had been macerated, and I could hear his breathing wet with blood. Conversely, my left arm was near exhausted, plastic shards blinded my left eye, and then I felt a length of metal enter my side as the bounty hunter took my momentary pause as a chance to stab me in the side.

Flung bodily backwards, I crashed into a boulder, legs nonresponsive and vision blurry. Clearly, Arthur was more than a match for someone of my skills, and I vaguely remembered hearing about him winning the last combat games. Still, the way my body was draped across the stone hid an underhanded death, the Wingman clenched trembling in my left hand and waiting for him to draw close enough to finish me off.

500 words
Caustic got blatted hard, so he threw a gas trap and turned it into a fistfight
 

Arthur Morgan

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Arthur dragged a hand down the side of his face, spitting blood and possibly a chipped tooth out of the corner of his mouth. Bloodshot eyes darting around, the bones of his face aching and his skin riddled with poison, the bounty hunter seemed more like a mangy, rabid mutt than a man. Suspicion laced his every movement as he skulked closer to his fallen mark, pistol held in a steady grip while his other hand clutched at his bruised ribs.

He kept the gun trained on Caustic, eyes casting around for another one of those… contraptions, ears straining to catch the tell-tale hiss of vile green gases being spewed into the air. When none was forthcoming, however, Arthur’s gaze flicked back to the doctor— and was momentarily arrested by the strange paleness of the eyes glaring back at him, like the milky gray of a corpse.

The older man was obviously struggling to remain alert. He heaved labored breaths as he slumped against the boulder Arthur’d tossed him against, the rattling of air in his chest loud enough to suffuse the humid night around them. When Caustic finally spoke, his voice sounded scratchier somehow, almost brittle, like there was an old ailment aggravating his throat and tongue.

“Go ahead,” the man rasped, fixing Arthur with his one good eye. “Finish it. I look forward to whatever doubtlessly clever quip you come up with before putting a bullet in my brain. Try not to strain yourself in the process.”

For a moment, the frown upon the outlaw’s face wavered, a bud of unease unfurling in his stomach. His fingers tightened around the trigger of his gun, an experimental flex, but even that was enough to sicken him. It just didn’t feel right.

Rather than igniting the savage satisfaction he’d expected, Caustic’s wheezing and carrying on seemed to evoke an emotion in Arthur that he’d thought himself incapable of feeling for such a ruthlessly cold monster of a man... pity. It was enough for the bounty hunter to wonder at his own sanity. Maybe he was as much of a fool as everyone around him seemed to think, including the man before him, but he couldn’t shake the thought that he’d be a sorry creature indeed for killing a man such as this— sickly and robbed of all apparent lust for life.

He wondered, idly, if there was anything this man regretted. If there was anything inside of him, down in the very pit of his soul, that could reflect upon the damage he’d wrought and feel an iota of shame.

“I ain’t much one for cleverness,” Arthur replied at length, mouth curling into a wry grimace. His head tipped down, the wide brim of his hat casting half his face in shadow. “But I’d like to think that I got perspective. What about you, doc? You got perspective?”

Caustic stared at him, the shattered mess of his shoulder dripping with gore. Even through the cracked visor of his goggles, the surgical precision of his gaze seemed to flay Arthur alive.

Perspective,” he said, and the word seemed to ooze from his lips like a kind of divine curse. “An uninspired term for accepting one’s own mortality.”

Arthur looked thoughtful, if a little perturbed. The hand holding his pistol lowered. “I s’pose. Everybody’s different.”

A dry chuckle came from the doctor, so sharp it might’ve been mistaken for a barked cough. “Then allow me... to show you… a little of my perspective.”

The outlaw had little time to react. All he saw was a flash of terrible gold, the barrel of a heavy pistol aimed squarely at his forehead, and for a split-second Arthur was horrifically reminded of a different place, a different time— another gun forged from yellow metal, one that’d almost brought his journey to an end.

With an almost preternatural speed, Arthur hit the dirt, the ear-splitting BANG! of the Wingman’s fire exploding somewhere over his head. Scrambling across the ground, he wasn’t lucky enough to evade the next round, though by some miracle Caustic’s aim wasn’t steady enough to blast a hole in his skull. Instead, the round struck his shoulder with enough force to tear a bloody crater through his raptorskin duster, mangling the flesh and bone beneath.

Biting back a pained shout, Arthur managed to clamber behind a heap of rubble, using the darkness and Caustic’s compromised vision to turn fairly invisible. There he crouched, breathing hard through clenched teeth, wondering what in the hell he’d been thinking.

Obviously nothin’ worthwhile. Shaking his head at himself and his tenderhearted foolishness, Arthur unslung the bow from his back, grimacing as the movement tugged at the shredded tendons of his shoulder.

Even if he fell here, he reckoned a bit of poison would do the trick.

Word Count: 800 Words, Wordcounter.net

Arthur's been shot in the shoulder with the Wingman, now they're a matching set. (-: Also, BOW AND POISONED ARROWS ACTIVATE!
 
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