The Last Son of Amerika

The Last Son of Amerika

A Story by StarNinja
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A story about the last son of Amerika Johnson

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C’mere kid. You want to hear about Valen? Valen Tanner? Well buy me a round and I’ll tell you all about the last son of Amerika. Ya see, Valen Tanner was born to Danner Tanner. Yeah he got hell for that name as a kid, but Danner grew up to become a respected gun smith, so he weren’t too bitter about it. Saw the man shoot a pigeon from a Field away once. No one gave him grief for the name after that. He came from an urb in Pacifica, south of Stalcom. Can’t remember the name of it now, but it was a mid-sized urb and a great many people migrated from it in order to escape the militias that were tearing up that region. Danner was on the road to Stalcom to make a name for himself in the gun smithing business. That’s when he met Amerika Johnson. She was also fleeing the militias after her home had been ransacked by the Fitty Third Company militia. See this was back when militias were still kinda powerful. Powerful enough to burn and pillage an entire town to the ground overnight. Back before Govenor Willmeyer pushed ‘em back to the south and become Govenor General in the process.

What do you mean who’s Govenor Willmeyer? He was the military govenor of Pacifica for two decades until… Gah nevermind. Kids these days don’t read their history anymore. Anyway, Amerika’s town had been completely destroyed by the militia. All the men folk were dead. The women folk wished they were dead after the militia boys got through with them. Only Amerika and a few others were able to escape in the night but she lost track of them by the time dawn came. Alone and afraid, she survived in the woods for a week before she found the trail and as luck would have it, a caravan of refugees happened to be riding by at the time.

What’s that? What about Valen? I’ll get to him, but I have to tell you about his folks first. Why? Because if you want to know anything about the man you need to know about where he came from. Amerika wasn’t a primpy prissy girl. She grew up in the woods, hunting and foraging to feed her brothers. She was made of tougher stuff than regular urb folk. But even so, she was crushed by what had happened to her. The only home she’d ever known was gone. The Fitty Third had taken everything from her, but she wasn’t going to lie down and die. She swore revenge on the militia. Danner overheard her telling her story to the caravan elders. When he first laid eyes on her, he was instantly infatuated. Now he knew she wouldn’t be in the mood for dating or companion seeking with wounds so fresh, but his heart would not let him rest for a second. It wasn’t that he was heartless or lustful, though she was quite beautiful by most accounts. No, he was a man just turned sixteen with the needs and desires that come along with being a man and the desire for a mate is one of the strongest ones a man ever gets. He asked her for a date but she turned him down right away, as he had expected. He wasn’t deterred, though. His eyes didn’t leave her for the rest of the trek north and it was obvious to everyone that he had a thing for this poor girl. He continued to hope he could one day win her heart.

Amerika was resourceful, catching rabbits and pigeons to earn her keep. And cunning as well. She helped the wagon procession to navigate around dangerous terrain. Danner noticed her fortitude and his infatuation soon turned to love. The refugee train was only days away from Fort Cassaway, just outside of StateCap, the capitol urb of Pacifica, when he mustered the courage to ask Amerika for another chance at dating. He had picked some wildflowers he knew Amerika liked and worn his best dancing shirt and hat for the occasion. They say the sun was bright and the sky clear and blue that day, as if Providence had arranged for this moment. I don’t believe much in Providence myself, but I’ve seen enough to know that you don’t tempt the lucky old lady to screw with you whenever you get the chance. Maybe that’s what happened. Maybe Providence wanted to do some screwing because when Danner found Amerika walking outside the grounds where’d they’d made camp the night before, bandits attacked. A horde of them!

The attack was quick and over before anyone had any idea what was going on. Some supplies had been stolen, along with some people. Two or three were dead and many more wounded. Danner awoke to find his shoes and pocket watch missing. It was a turn of the glass before he realized Amerika was also gone. Had they taken her? Had she taken her bow and gone after the bandits herself? Danner didn’t want to wait to find out. He grabbed his repeater rifle, an heirloom from his father’s father, and went after the trail of the bandits. He went on his own, for the elders of the caravan wanted to get help from the nearby Fort. Danner tracked the bandits for three days. He ran out of food on day two. On day three, while looking for a place to fill his water pouch, he found the bandit camp deep in the woods. In the center of the camp, tied to a pole next to two other prisoners, was Amerika.

She was bruised and bloodied, but not dead. Danner thanked whatever lucky stars were watching him and proceeded to sneak toward the encampment. The camp was mostly empty save for a few sentries. There was no way he could have reached Amerika or the prisoners without someone spotting him. So he hatched a daring plan. With a flint and stone and some tinder, he set fire to one of the tents at the edge of the camp. The sentries saw the flames and ran to put it out. Danner snuck around them and reached the center of the camp. Amerika was in a daze. Starved and weak from her injuries as well as from standing for so long, she barely noticed Danner as he approached. Up close, Danner saw the extent that Amerika had been beaten and this sparked a flame of anger in him. He would pay these bandits back, but not today. First he had to get Amerika to Fort Cassaway.

He cut the bonds that held her to the pole and caught her as she fell. Her legs shook with pain and exhaustion, but finally she managed to stand on her own. He told her to run while he cut the other prisoners’ bonds. A shot rang out. A tall man stood at the mouth of the largest tent in the camp, a smoking pistol in his hand. He was scarred, tattooed, and hadn’t shaved in weeks. He was not much older than Danner, but the years had not been kind to him.

“You can run if you want. I haven’t had a good hunt in a long time,” said the bandit leader. His voice was gruff and made the man sound bigger than he was. Danner unslung his repeater. “Don’t be a fool, boy,” the bandit leader said. “I’ll shoot ya dead. Or better yet I’ll shoot you and then cut this girl into little pieces while you watch. Then I’ll shoot ya dead.”

The fire in Danner’s belly only grew when the bandit made his threat. He aimed the repeater at the leader and was about to pull the trigger when he heard the sentries approaching behind him. Amerika begged Danner to save himself before the sentries got him, but Danner refused. He told her she had to live. If he died it wouldn’t matter; as long as she was alive it would have been worth it. She didn’t understand why he was doing this for her, a girl he barely knew.

“It’s because I love you, Amerika Johnson!” Danner professed. Yup, he said it just like that. In front of God, the bandit leader and everyone else there. Amerika was shocked. She didn’t have any words to say. But that was alright because the bandit sentries appeared just then. Danner turned and shot the first two dead in moments. The bandits shot back but Danner managed to get behind a sturdy work bench. He pushed it over and shot another bandit. Danner was young, but his shot was very good even at that age. Amerika ran for the edge of camp. Danner was relieved, yet saddened cuz he thought that would be the last time he ever saw that girl. Wood chips flew past his face as the bandits shot at him without success. Danner put a few more shots into his repeater and killed another bandit as they tried to storm his position.

The bandits whooped and yelled and cursed, but to no avail. Danner was the superior shot, and he laid waste to the remaining sentries. Only two were left by the time Danner had to reload again, but they decided their lives were more important than their reputation and they fled.

“Dagnab you to hell and back!” the bandit leader shouted.

He rushed headlong to Danner’s position, shooting his revolver. Danner rolled out of the way of the shots but got clipped in the shoulder and the leg by two of them. Adrenaline and rage fueling his guts, Danner lined up his sights and shot the bandit leader. The bandit blinked a few times before looking down at his hand and realizing that it had been shot almost clean off at the wrist. The mangled mess that used to be his hand hung by a piece of meat off his arm. He roared at Danner, a heady mix of anger and pain firing him up. Danner pulled his trigger again, but nothing happened. He was clean out of bullets. The bandit pulled a big ol’ knife out and advanced on the Tanner boy, a look of murder in his eyes. Danner tried to run, but he didn’t get far with the leg wound he’d sustained. He couldn’t crawl away much better thanks to the shoulder wound. He turned to see the bandit leader right on top of him.

The bandit leader brought his knife up, looking to put it right between Danner’s ribs. An arrowhead exploded through the bandit’s throat. A look of permanent surprise was stuck his face as he fell over dead. Amerika walked up and spit on the corpse she’d just made. With her help, they managed to get them and the other prisoners back to Fort Cassaway alive. Once they were safe and resting up in the refugee hospital, Danner asked Amerika if she would reconsider his dating proposal. She replied by jumping on him and kissing him until the sun went down. They got to making Peligro Tanner that very night.

And that’s the story of how Danner met Amerika. They were quite a pair and lived a pretty happy life together when they moved to Stalcom. Amerika wasn’t much used to urb life at first but she adjusted. As for Danner, well he started that gun smithing business I told you about. They had four more kids after Peligro, but the most famous one by far was the very last one, Valen.

What do you mean “That’s it?” What were you expecting? Danner saved his love from bandits and that was that. I’m sure you’ve heard some blown up stories about the Tanner family like about how Valen fought a sea serpent one time. Well of course it happened, but it ain’t all blown up as everyone makes it is all I’m saying. Nothing is exciting for you tots anymore, is it?

Anyway, the year Valen Tanner was born was the year Govenor General Willmeyer consolidated his power in Pacifica and drove the militias south. Danner had become a successful gun smith and Amerika took care of her five kids, showed ‘em how to survive in the wilderness and how to trap animals for meat and fur. Even in her older years, Amerika was a fierce one. Valen, being the runt, was always trying to prove himself to his brothers and sisters. Everyone knew Peligro was going to inherit the family business, so the other Tanners had to find other things to earn their way in the world. Evelyn Tanner, the second oldest, studied to become a doctor at Statecap School for Doctorin’. I thought you’d recognize her. She rediscovered the ancient medicine known as Penicillin. Bet you didn’t know they were related huh? Benfrank Tanner, the middle one, started a business of his own selling exotic produce from distant farms at the local market. He didn’t make very much money doing it but it was enough to make a living and he got to travel far and wide up and down the coast. Snow Tanner, the fourth, became a hunter. She was considered the best trails-woman in the whole region. She got her name because she was born during a terrible blizzard and they say her nature was as cold as the winter winds that greeted her on her birth.

That left Valen. He was a rambunctious child and a terror to everyone who knew the Tanners. He wasn’t an evil soul, just mischievous and loved to play games with others. Sometimes these games resembled pranks, but that was Valen for ya. He didn’t know what it was he wanted to do with his life. While Evelyn was studying doctorship and Benfrank was looking for backing for his startup venture, Valen was off shooting wild boars with a second hand rifle and running bullies off the streets with his fists and his mean attitude. Some jokingly called him the sheriff of Stalcom, though there hadn’t been one of those in a long time.

By his thirteenth year, Valen was still unsure of what it was he wanted to do with himself. Most everyone had resigned him to helping out his father and brother with the family business, but he wanted none of that. He had an adventurer’s soul in him. He wanted to see what lay beyond the mountains to the East. He wanted to travel the roads and sail the waters and explore every nook and cranny of the world. He wanted to roam, but there weren’t no profession for it. Sure Benfrank traveled a bunch but it weren’t the same. Snow saw the wild places that few men ever saw, but it weren’t the same neither.

You could say his need to do the unordinary is what drove him to become the man he’s known as today. Valen Quickshot. Valen Treesplitter. Valen Drinkmaster. There are many stories about him, but some say that his first real romp as an adventurer happened quite by accident. What? I can say quite. You ain’t my teech. Anyway, he was a man near grown, fourteen or fifteen I reckon, and the urb of Stalcom was getting too small for him. He planned on setting out on his own, going on a trek if you will, but he knew if he didn’t time it right, his sister Snow would find him in no time flat. He spent a week preparing for his journey. It was the bright and sunny day before his planned trip, when a gangsman approached Valen. See, Valen had gotten a reputation for his cleaning the mean streets of bullies in his youth and the gangsmen in Stalcom wanted a tough enforcer like him in their gang. It was dangerous work, but lucrative if you stuck with it and became a gangsboss. Valen could have been the toughest, meanest gangsboss in town if he wanted but he weren’t no gangs-type. He told the gangsman flat out that he didn’t want to do it.

Course as you know, gangsmen don’t take no for an answer. Their conversation took a wrong turn somewhere and Valen ended up having to clobber the gangsman real good. Naturally, this upset the rest of the gangsmen. When Danner found out what Valen had done, he got real mad. Saying no to something is one thing. But a fight with a gangsman? That was just bad news. He scolded young Valen, telling him he should have known better than to put himself and his family in danger like that. Though in his later years Danner would often tell his friends how proud he was that Valen had turned down the gangsman life.

So the Tanners now had a dilemma. They could skip town and start a new life elsewhere, or they could risk their lives by staying. This was no idle threat either. A couple of gangsmen wrecked the Tanner gun store, smashing the sign breaking the windows out front; a preview of things to come. Valen, still hurting from the chastising and whacking his father had given him, decided he had to make it right. So you know what he did? One night he snuck out of the Tanner home, sought out the local gangsboss and had a nice long chat with him. It took Valen walloping like twenty gangsmen to get to the boss, but he did it. Nobody knows what Valen said to the gangsboss that night, but none of the gangsmen in Stalcom ever laid a hand on the Tanners or their home or business ever again.

What? You want to hear more stories? Man, I would love to but my throat is getting mighty parched. Tell you what, I’ll tell you everything you want to know if you get this next round too. And the one after that. What do you say? Sound like a deal?

© 2013 StarNinja


Author's Note

StarNinja
Here's another short story. Expandable, but stands as a stand alone work. Tell me what you think. Criticism is welcome and encouraged!

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Reviews

Absolutely love the writing style! Very approachable and easy to read. I love westerns and this feels like one. Nice creation of a future universe that fits perfectly with the style of writing.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

StarNinja

1 Year Ago

I appreciate the review! Glad you caught it was a future universe. I was worried for the longest tim.. read more
PurpleMuse

1 Year Ago

Yes, it definitely communicates distopian future America. Well done!

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Added on March 3, 2013
Last Updated on May 25, 2013
Tags: story, Amerika, Johnson, Valen, gun, shooter, wild

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StarNinja
StarNinja

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