“I’ll be damned if those gorram cons are gonna burn our town to the ground!” shouted Sheriff Dayton. “Don’t let them take the water tower!”
The Doc took the church tower steps three at a time and rushed out into a sanctuary that was rapidly filling with smoke. The church, built of among other things, wood, was not exactly fireproof. He frantically searched about for a fire extinguisher, but found nothing but hymnals and the collection plate.
Out in the street, Johnson and his three companions made a run for cover to try and outflank the Boxers hidden beneath the water tower and who were up to no good amongst the pumping machinery.
From his position on the rooftop, Worth could only watch as the fire from the two well-placed Molotov cocktails started to burn out of control. Smoke began wafting across Main Street, obscuring the terrain.
The Doc continued his search into a side room, and found only a first aid kit, which he promptly rifled through to find the painkillers that could steel his nerves and give him some courage. Then the Shepherd yelled that there was a fire extinguisher hidden in the pulpit, and the Doc grabbed it and moved to the front of the church where a merry fire was blazing. As he was spraying the foam everywhere, he heard the sound of splintering wood from the rear of the church. “Company’s coming!” he shouted to the Shepherd.
The Shepherd had, in the meantime, retrieved a second double-barreled shotgun that he tossed to the Doc, and nonchalantly upended the large communion table at the altar, spilling the elements every which way. He took up a firing position behind the heavy wooden table and nodded at the Doc. “You should kneel when you’re in the house of the Lord,” he said, indicating the table. The Doc checked the shotgun and moved towards the cover as the church’s back door gave way and unholy battle cries filled the sanctuary.
Keeping low to the ground, Johnson and the other defenders moved behind McKittrick’s mansion and strayed into the shipyard, taking cover in the shadow provided by the parked Firefly’s gooseneck. Edging forward slightly, Johnson could see one of the Boxers kneeling at the foot of one of the tower’s support struts, using a blowtorch to cut through the leg. Johnson took out his pistol, a near-silent coil gun that fired metal flechettes, and swapped the regular clip of darts for his ‘special’ ammunition, poison-coated darts each encased in a plastic sabot to keep the toxin from evaporating.
He took careful aim and snapped off a shot, the only sound a slight electric bleep as the electromagnets sent the dart spinning towards its target. The flechette struck home, and the Boxer flailed back from the support strut, limbs twitching spasmodically as the toxin did its lethal work. He was dead before he hit the ground. Unfortunately for Johnson, the Boxer’s partner immediately returned fire from a concealed position, catching him in the chest. Johnson’s plate vest absorbed most of the damage, leaving him with a stinging pain as he fell to the dusty ground.
Worth did his best to keep the streets clear by firing warning shots this way and that. A pair of miscreants, using the smoke that was billowing out of the church as cover, attempted to sneak up to the front door to break it down, but he fired a pair of shots that sent the two cons bleeding and scrambling back to cover, one holding his shattered stomach together with his hands.
Inside the church, six cons rushed the platform from the dark recesses of the building’s interior, waving their clubs like madmen. As amphetamine-laced adrenaline coursed through his veins, the Doc wondered if this is what a Reaver raid might be like. The Shepherd told him to hold his fire until the bad guys were almost on top of them. Then the Shepherd stood from behind the table and shouted, “this is a house of prayer, but you have made it into a den of thieves!”
Both men gave the advancing attackers both barrels at extremely close range, with devastating effect. The first four cons were torn apart by the hailstorm of buckshot, falling in a red mist this way and that as their battle cries were cut off in mid-scream. The last two attackers vaulted over their comrades’ remains and dove straight at the two defenders, who were struggling to reload. The Doc in particular with unfamiliar with the shotgun and had bruised his shoulder when he let loose with both barrels. Fumbling to put fresh shells in his weapon, the Doc swung the shotgun wildly at his attacker, who parried and struck back with a club, stunning him.
The Doc attempted to run for cover behind the pews, with the con yelling, “where do you think you’re going, sweetheart?” and chasing after him. Spinning about, the Doc fired his only round at the con as the attacker jumped up across the first couple of pews towards him. The round hit the man in his upper chest, swatting him out of the air so that he landed with one leg dangled over the back of the pew, as pages torn from a shredded hymnal fluttered about.
The remaining con, whose melee attacks had been parried by the venerable Shepherd, shouted, “I coulda made parole!” and bolted back the way he came, slipping on some blood and disappearing into the smoky shadows.
“God is great,” said the Shepherd proudly as he helped the Doc to his feet. Then the pair noticed for the first time that it was getting exceedingly hard to breathe, what with the smoke rapidly filling the sanctuary. The entire front of the church had been engulfed in flame, and the building was starting to become unstable. As flaming timbers started creaking and groaning, Doc and the Shepherd tried to make their way to the rear exit.
Outside, Johnson took a running leap, firing in mid-air to nick the remaining Boxer who was hiding behind the pumping station. The Boxer looked down in shock at the dart sticking out of his arm as Johnson hit the dirt, and was distracted just long enough for the three deputies to plug him full of holes with their conventional rifles. Whether the Boxer perished due to the poison in the dart, or the amount of lead suddenly poisoning his body, they would never know.
Johnson picked himself up and dusted himself off just in time to see a large part of the church collapse inwards and a fireball rocket skyward.
The battle was not over yet, and his friend was trapped inside a burning church!