The Vanguards of Darkwind
The life and times of the Vanguards, a gang struggling to survive in the wastelands of Evan, based on the game Darkwind by Psychic Software

The dream of a Vanguard

Howard Spicer sat alone in the bar. He nursed a glass of firewater, the fiery spirit of distilled cactus sap known as Mezcal.

“Hey, Boss.” Amy Banuelos ambled over and pulled up a chair. The team’s scout, she was effective and popular, although Howard knew that the gang had more respect for the conspicuous bravery of his best gunner, Darrell. Still, he was trying to give Amy more responsibility, more opportunity to prove herself, so the crew would accept her as his second-in-command.

But today, Howard was feeling sorry for himself. Two more deaths, and the weight of responsibility left to him by his dead brother Charlie was crushing, sapping his strength and rendering him listless and apathetic. So he took himself over to a quiet corner of Jake’s to be alone with his thoughts, and his darkness, and his Mezcal.

Amy seemed to sense his mood. She just sat, her own bottle of beer in hand, letting her eyes adjust to the fusty gloom in Howard’s sanctuary.

After an aeon, Howard spoke.

“I had a dream last night, Amy. A strange dream.”

Amy didn’t say anything. Just waited for Howard to continue.

“I was in a war. A battle. Not the grinding fight for survival like we have here. A traditional battle, a medieval battle, with swords, and armour, and those big metal balls with spikes on the end of a chain.”

“The bad guys were lined up in a row. Persians. They were Persians. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do.”

“I was running late for the battle, running along the line, looking for my squire who was taking my place in the line. He stood there, a naked broadsword in his hand, waiting. I ran there,” Howard’s words faltered, “and it was Charlie. Charlie standing there to hand over to me his sword.”

Howard gulped another mouthful of Mezcal.

“So I took it, and stood in line. I faced this Persian warrior, tall, proud, strong and,” Amy was startled to see tears in Howard’s eyes, “and I was scared, Amy. I was scared I was going to die.” A burst of raucous laughter erupted from one of the tables in the saloon, and Amy glanced in that direction. When she looked back, Howard had brushed all traces of moisture from his face.

“And then… and then it started raining. And I’d been trained to keep my sword and armour dry. So I turned around, Amy, I turned around and I ran. I ran and sheltered under a tree and hoped the battle would happen without me.”

Howard reached down and picked up a half-empty bottle of Mezcal from the sand-strewn floor. He poured himself a generous measure.

“So what does that make me, Amy? A fool? A loser? A coward?” Howard drained his glass.

“It does none of those things, Howard. You’re a strong leader, a good man, and you’re suffering because some of the people you lead, they die, and you take it hard. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

“But the dream..”

Amy interrupted. “It’s just a dream, Howard. Just a dream.”

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