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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Another Way To Die [Bond's Tale Part 2]


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Two Months After Z-Day

"What was that?" Bond had to raise his voice over the roar of the small crowd in the cramped bar, though 'bar' was a flattering description to what was in essence a converted one-storey house that served acidic piss in place of beer. Bond was sticking to the water, despite it being more expensive.

"I SAID, it's a damn shame you ain't interested in signin' on with me permanent-like, Jimmy. A man with your talents can go far in this line of work." The large ugly redneck across from Bond smiled, which didn't do much to make him prettier. 'Gaptooth' ("call me Gappy, boy!") Grady had risen to the top of Charity's dubious ranks of citizens in much the same way as a brown parcel rises to the top of the sewer stream - by being a bigger shit and full of more noxious air than everyone else. He ran the only bar in town mainly through virtue of closing down any competition, and dabbled in trade, raiding and slavery. In short, he was the kind of man whose place in civilised society would probably have stopped at sitting in a trailer, beer in one hand and scratching himself with the other while wrestling played on the television. With the coming of society's breakdown, however, the crap had floated to the top, at least around here. He'd been very friendly to the Brit with the funny accent who called himself 'Bond': throwing some trading and caravan-guarding work his way, standing him free drinks, even sending a couple of 'his girls' to Bond's room every night. Bond usually fed them and let them get some rest while he slept in front of the door, gun in hand, hoping that one of Grady's men would try to come in without asking so he could shoot them and claim to have been startled.

He didn't hold it against a man for making a living, or even a profit, however he could. But even with his flexible moral compass, slavery left a rank taste in the mercenary's mouth, raiding lacked style, and Gappy's method of trading was sloppy and usually relied on doublecrossing the other guy outside of town and taking everything back to turn a profit. In short, to a man who took pride in being a rogue and opportunist, Gappy was a foul-smelling mirror image who Bond yearned to put a bullet into.

Bond, in short, hated Gappy Grady.

Gappy was blissfully unaware of this, as he was also blissfully unaware that several of the town's leading citizens had decided that life without Grady would be just heavenly. They'd approached Bond with that end in mind, promising him everything that Grady owned if he'd take care of their problem. He'd told them he'd think about it, but to be honest, the pale-eyed Brit would have been inclined to do it for free.

"You know me, Gappy." he told the other man with seemingly genuine joviality. "Sooner or later I'll be moving on." Gappy's smile went a little sour.

"Yeah. Maybe yer right there, Jimbo." Bond mentally added another location for a non-mortal wound he'd inflict on Grady before he finally killed him. "Still, we make a great team, hey?"

"Of course." Bond smiled easily, wondering if he should just shoot the man right now and spare himself more of this tripe. "My brains and your beauty, Gappy." He grinned and lifted his glass of water in a toast. Gappy guffawed, a word which before meeting this oaf Bond had supposed to be the invention of fiction writers.

"Yeah, you're a trip Jim!" Gappy laughed, but Bond didn't miss the nasty little glint in the man's eye. Gappy's smile turned off like a particularly dirty lightbulb. "And you'll be goin' on a little trip too."

The *clack-clack* of a shotgun shell being chambered sounded loud to Bond, as it should, because the 12-gauge barrel was currently about an inch from his ear. More clicking noises followed as the Brit realised that, in addition to having left his guns at the door, he was outnumbered about six to one by Gappy's men. The second worst thing about the situation was Bond not knowing how the man had come to suspect him. The worst thing about it all was the smug look on Grady's face.

"Shoulda gotten out of town or come straight to me as soon as those assholes approached you, Jimbo." The fat man stood up with a leer. "Ain't nothin' goes on in this town without me sayin' so. That there was a loyalty test, asshole. And you failed."

There wasn't really much Bond could say to that, and given that fact, there really was no need for the man behind him to hit the back of his head quite so hard as he opened his mouth to spea-

* * * * * *

"Rise and shine, Mister Bond."

The words were accompanied by raucous laughter and a splash of cold water that made Bond shudder awake. He was hogtied and lying on a flat rock in a clearing, a setup that did little to help him think that his exit from the mortal coil would be easy. Grady's ugly mug swam into view, haloed by sunlight. He pursed his lips in mock regret, shaking his head. "I gotta admit, Jimmy. I wish I had your old-time Brit style, boy. But smarts beats style every time." As Grady straightened his wobbly bulk up, Bond saw three of his thugs, two of them armed with high powered rifles. Grady noticed Bond noticing and chuckled.

"This here is what I call killin' two birds with one stone." Grady drew a large hunting knife from it's belt sheath. "There's a bear up in these here woods, a damn big mutated asshole of a bear that likes to eat sheep, cows and the men I set to guarding them. I've been wonderin' how to get that sonofabitch into the open to take him down right... and here you are."

"Wonderful." Bond said dryly, no sign of panic or fear in his voice. "I get to be bait." Grady laughed, his men joining in.

"Oh, you're a cool motherfucker, Jim. That's why I'm gonna make you live bait, boy." He swiped the blade down twice, Bond stiffening as he felt it slice the skin of his arm, then his thigh. Blood started to drip. Grady wiped his knife off on Bond's clothes and stood, sheathing it once more. Bond noticed that the fat bastard was wearing his golden Desert Eagles, and added that to the list of reasons he was going to kill this man slowly. Grady motioned to the two men with the rifles. "I'll be leaving you now. I got to go through your stuff before other people do, but these boys are gonna be up in those rocks safe from the bear. They've also got one of them fancy video cameras to record your last moments. I 'fess I'm curious as to whether you scream different like you talk."

"You'll never find out." Bond's pleasant smile was still in place, but his china-blue eyes were glinting dangerously. His voice was calm, even conversational. "I'm going to come and find you, and then I'll gut you and drag you for a few miles behind a jeep, you fat piece of shit." Grady recoiled a fraction, then laughed and gave Bond a brutal kick in the stomach.

"Sure you will. You're Bond, James Bond. Take care now." Grady walked off laughing, one of the three men falling into step with him. The other two looked around a trifle nervously, then made for the rocky slope. Bond lay still, testing the rope around his arms and wrists. That didn't bear fruit. He sighed, then tensed as he heard a dull roaring sound a small distance away.

The bear had caught the scent of fresh blood.

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Despite the bright sunshine on what was shaping up to be a beautiful morning, the presence of the walking nightmare that lumbered warily into view was only too real. The beast looked as though it ought to skulk in the shadows, hiding from the light of day and preying only on those unfortunate souls foolish enough to trespass in its domain, and, yet, reality made no such concessions to the horror-film genre.

Its bristling, mangy hide glistened wetly over a gaunt, emaciated frame that somehow managed to occupy an improbable amount of space in the sunny clearing; at perhaps twice the size of an ordinary black bear, the creature was easily eight hundred pounds of ravenous, visceral terror. A pair of milky, jaundiced eyes, looking for all the world like poached eggs gone runny and foul, leaked whitish fluid that dribbled downward to its shrivelled lips and dangled there in pendulous gobbets. Massive jaws were filled with rows of yellowed teeth, and the flesh of its muzzle had been distorted and retracted in such a way that its face was frozen in a perpetual snarl.

Mere existence must have been an agony for such a beast, and the awful gurgling, rumbling sound of its breathing as it began to shuffle laboriously forward would forever remain indelibly imprinted on the memory of its intended victim.

Suddenly, hunger for the meat, for the blood it scented overwhelmed its sense of caution, and it exploded into motion with ursine savagery, closing the space between itself and its captive prey with unnerving speed...

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The mutated creature rose up to claim its meal, lashing out a massive clawed forelimb that would tear him apart to be carried off and devoured. Bond simply gazed up at the beast with cold icy blue eyes, too defiant to show any signs of fear or defeat even as death hovered over his shoulder ready to claim what was his.

An earth shattering roar struck the scene and a blackened shadow consumed Bond as something leapt over the stone to which he was bound and smashed into the bear with enough force to knock the animal over.

His savior was obviously humanoid, but certainly not human. Although not nearly as tall as the bear the muscled man topped seven feet in height. Wearing only shredded denim that appeared to be preserving less and less of his modesty with each passing day, the sun drenched figure roared again and threw its arms out to the sides where massive black talons extended from his fingertips.

"That was certainly appreciated." Bond said calmly. "Now if you could-" He wiggled his hands and feet a bit hinting that the process of untying him should have started by now.

The battle had, unfortunately, just started. The man-beast leapt upon the downed ursine behemoth and tore into it with claws and teeth. The fight was vicious as pure primal savagery was displayed for Bond to see from both participants.

"Well, I can see you're busy." His fingertips fumbled about trying to find purchase on the knots but there was nothing. "I can wait. Not a problem."

Roars and shrieks of agony echoed throughout the wooded plain as the two monsters battled like primal titans, neither yielding to the other until the bestial stranger maneuvered behind the mutant, gripped its maw with a clawed hand and tore it backwards, ripping the creature's head clean off in violent spurts of blood.

Seeming to notice Bond now, the 'man' approached casting aside the head casually, ignoring it as it rolled clumsily off by a tree. His body was marred with bite and claw wounds across his shoulders, chest, and legs and his entire right cheek was missing, the flesh rent from bone by a single powerful swipe of the mutant bears claw.

He knelt in front of Bond, looking him over and sniffing the air about him. The British man could see his teeth and jaw bone clearly where his right cheek should have been. As the man growled at him tendon and skin reknit at a rapid pace until there was just enough flesh to consider his jaw 'functional'.

"Yer the ugliest rabbit I ever seen." The man-beast growled.

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"Snipers." Bond said calmly to the strangely bestial man before he rolled himself off the rock like a landed fish, to hit with a thud on the ground next to it. The blond giant blinked then jerked to one side, roaring in pained outrage as a .300 Winchester Magnum round missed his torso but took a sizeable chunk out of his thigh in exchange. In an eyeblink he'd joined Bond down on the ground behind the rock as another rifle bullet *spanged* from it's surface.

"Fuckers!" The newcomer growled menacingly (and quite literally, too, Bond noted) as he watched his leg regrow the torn-out muscle. Golden cats eyes fixed on the still-bound Brit. "Friends of yers?"

"Not quite." Was the cheerful rejoinder. "They work for a fat tub of lard who doesn't like me much." Another two rounds cracked into the rock and ricocheted off with a whine.

"Yer taste in enemies sucks, man." Bond's rescuer snarled. "How many are there?"

"Two. High-powered hunting rifles, up in the rocks there." He wriggled around to present the knotted ropes. "Do me a favour and cut me loose? We might as well give them two moving targets to shoot at."

The giant sniffed lightly at the air again, obviously finding something curious about Bond's scent before slashing out with razor-sharp claws. "Ya don't smell afraid: of the bear, or me, or them. You some kind of nut?" He looked askance at Bond as the smaller man chafed life back into his wrists. His answer was a faint smile that was echoed in the amused blue stare.

"I'm the best kind of nut." Bond said with aplomb as he gathered his feet under him with a grin. "The one that's on your side." He cocked his head to one side, listening. The leonine man did likewise. Both heard a faint scrabbling of rocks. "They're trying to move around to bracket us. You go left, I'll go right." The be-taloned man growled assent, his body now completely healed. Without any further words they both broke from cover at the same moment.

Bond broke into a forward flip and roll as soon as he was in the open, the whistle-smack of a bullet hitting the ground behind him testament to the man's agility as he abruptly changed direction and headed straight for the rocky slope and the shooter about 100 yards away. Even as Grady's man racked another bullet into the chamber he saw that the crazy Brit had already reached the bottom of the slope and was currently leaping from rock to rock like a damn mountain goat, headed straight towards him. The guy could move, dammit, his footing never faltering as he kept his icy gaze on the man above him.

The other marksman had bigger problems. About 140 lbs and a whole foot bigger, to be precise. As soon as the beast had broken cover he had fired too hastily, the bullet humming past it's target and pinpointing his own position. The inhuman roar of savage triumph made him almost squeak as he fumbled to reload, only to look up as a shadow fell across him. The huge man had taken one step and leapt, covering 150 yards in one massive spring that brought him down on the prey like a clawed thunderbolt. One bloody swipe of a clawed hand later and it was all over, the man's face ripped off and his body kicking in it's death throes.

Bond jinked to one side, preternaturally agile as he performed a cartwheel somersault over and to the side of another bullet, then landed lightly on his feet and dashed the remaining 20 feet, closing with his opponent just as the man brought his gun up. One hand swept the barrel up further, the other grabbing the stock and smashing it full into the man's face before Bond reversed his momentum, still hanging onto the rifle as he rolled backwards. Grady's man, still stubbornly trying to hang onto his weapon and push Bond away, suddenly found himself being pulled forward. A foot planted in his stomach and the man let out a scream as he was heaved out into space over a thirty foot slope, leaving his gun behind as he clawed at nearby rocks to try and halt his descent.

He hit the slope hard ten feet down and bounced in a shower of pebbles, hitting three large rocks in succession before landing at the foot of the slope. He had stopped screaming on the second hit, and was unconscious by the time his limp and badly-broken body rolled to a stop.

Bond descended far more genteely, dropping from rock to rock rifle in hand with the same confident grace with which he had ascended the slope. Himself clad in jeans, t-shirt and sneakers, the latter two stained with his own blood, he crouched next to his downed opponent and callously looted the man's comatose form. Taking the man's webbing and gunbelt, the Brit stood with a smile as a thud announced the return of his rescuer, the other marksman's gory carcass draping from one hand.

"Thanks for the rescue." Bond shouldered the rifle and offered the other man a smile and a handshake. "I owe you my life. Bond, James Bond." A faint quirk to his lips showed his amusement at the situation. "No, really. Parents had a sense of humour."

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... his taloned hands were soaked in blood but still he refused to let her go. For all his strength, there was nothing he could to stop her bleeding. The lovely woman in his arms touched his cheek gently as his tears tapped one by one upon her chest.

"The disease, it's made you strong, more primal, you'll have a change to beat it, for me." Her smile was angelic and soothing but most of all he knew it was forgiving. "Thank you Ty, for making me so happy. I'll miss you, but you'll never be alone. I love you. I'll always love you."

He pressed his forehead to her hers as his body spasmed with grief. "I love you too Michelle." He sobbed as her hand slipped away from his cheek carrying her last breath with it.

In the dark of night the predator roared to heavens. A cry that shattered glass and cleared acreage after acreage of wildlife. Grief and pain rose from his lungs announcing to all that there would be retribution for his loss...

"Primal." Was the big man's only reply, his gaze seemed distant.

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"Primal." Bond nodded, his eyes studying the distant gaze carefully, before noting the now completely healed wounds. "It suits you. May I?" He crouched down and casually stripped the gory remains of Primal's kill of weapons and ammo. "Waste not, want not." He said with a slight smile as he straightened, fastening the second gunbelt around his waist at a rakish angle.

He sat back on a rock, and prodded at the slash in his jeans. The blood was clotting nicely, but he would have preferred a chance to stitch and bandage it. Oh well, it wasn't like little things like infections bothered him anymore. It flashed through his razor-edged mind that he had certainly gotten used to all the changes in his physiology quickly. He was faster in every way, tougher and more resilient in mind and body. He dimly remembered how he used to feel and smiled - he doubted the old Jim would have even been capable of standing upright after this harrowing experience. He looked back up at the towering blond man.

"So..." he began, trying to gauge the other. "Thank you for helping me. Do you live around here?"

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The giant looked down at the man and quirked a confused eye brow at him. His look said 'you're fuckin' kiddin me'.

Why yes, I entertain guests in my colonial estate not too far from here, please join me for tea and cricket...

"I live. Here is where I'm standing." He cracked his neck, working out the kinks of fresh tendons and muscle tissue. "I hunt, I feed. Been tracking the bear for a few days, it slumbered in the bog down the way, it's scent was masked by rotting vegetation. You did me a favor by bleeding, so I did you one."

His English wasn't broken, just spoken by a man who seemed distracted or eager to just get to the point. "What's Fat Bastard got against you anyway?"

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"Damned if I know. Envy would be my first guess." Bond flashed a grin back. "Actually, he was paranoid and had other people approach me to kill him as some kind of loyalty test, which I consider to be taking the piss a little since I wasn't one of 'his' men. Because I didn't run right to him like a good little soldier, obviously I was his enemy." Bond sighed, shaking his head as though disappointed.

"Now, of course, I'm going to have to kill him. Slowly. Not only has the fat shit stolen all of my belongings, he used me as bait. Won't do to let people get away with that: my reputation will suffer." Bond stood up and tested his leg: It seemed weight-bearing. He looked back up at Primal. "So you roam around alone, hunting and eating." He stated as kind of a half-question. His head tilted in genuine curiousity. "Ever get bored? You're obviously not just a beast. Let me guess: you got sick and changed rather than died, like me."

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"Woke up with over a hundred slugs in me... blah, blah, insert anti-hero story here." For a growling behemoth his head did seem screwed on straight enough. "What do you mean 'changed'? How come you don't look like me?"

"Couldn't tell you honestly." Bond replied while he double checked the rifle for any possible flaws. "I can guess though, and I think that whatever happened, some of us, a rare few, took to it differently, and in turn it took differently to us. Which is why we don't look alike."

"Huh." Crossing his arms the big man pondered it a moment. "Didn't know that. I haven't seen a soul in months, and yeah, it get's boring out here. You got something in mind?"

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"Oh, yes indeed." Bond grinned as he chambered a round and flicked on the safety before shouldering the high-powered hunting rifle. He glanced around, blue eyes narrowed as he considered the still-breathing man, then he shrugged and looked back at Primal. "You could come along with me. After the events of today, I'm seriously considering a partner."

"Partner?" the large man growled. "You want ME to be yer partner?"

"Why not?" Bond smiled, a glint of devil-may-care merriment in his eyes. "Would you say you were the sort to stab a partner in the back?" Primal rumbled menacingly at the notion.

"Fuck no. I'd rip a fucker to pieces face-to-face if I had a problem with 'em." Bond nodded at that, casually checking the pistols he had appropriated from the fallen before sliding them back into their holsters.

"See? You'd make a great partner." He said earnestly. "And in return, you'll get to travel around, see what's become of the place, and never be bored. Well, rarely." He amended, then said with a sly grin. "And when I say 'partner', I mean it. Equal shares of the spoils. You see, I have a dream. It involves wealth, women, and lots of interesting times providing people with goods and services they need in these troubled times. No slaving, no raiding those people trying to make decent livings. Otherwise the world is our oyster. And the best thing about this dream is that it's big enough to share with a few good people." He looked at Primal appraisingly, then held out a bloodstained hand. Though the smile never really left his lips, the man's eyes were serious. He also didn't smell the slightest bit nervous or anxious as the moment hung there for a few heartbeats.

"What do you say?"

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He thought about it. Even with his upper and lower fangs retracted the simple act of sucking his teeth made the man appear imposing and lethal.

"I got a bone to pick with Fat Bastard now." He said finally. "His men shot at me on his order, that makes him responsible. I don't like people who try and kill me. You're going back there, and you got balls for doing so, I'll give you that. I'll lend a hand, after we deal with Fat Bastard, we'll talk."

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Bond nodded and led the way, leaving the unconscious and probably dying man behind him without any qualms. The world was a harder place than it once was, and to Bond's mind there was little room in it for a human being that would condone the use of other human beings as live bait. Too bad for him.

It didn't take long, barely 15 minutes, before they found the 4x4 jeep parked up where the game trail met the main dirt track. Bond tried the keys he'd looted from the men, and hit paydirt on the second set as the engine coughed to life. "Hop on in. It's a piece of shit, but it'll get us to Charity." As Primal swung himself into the passenger seat, Bond put the vehicle in gear and turned them towards the south, where he could see a faint haze of smoke from various cookfires in the far distance. "Next stop, the oh-so-aptly named enclave of Charity: bad liquor, treacherous citizens and loose women all local specialties."

Primal merely grunted in acknowledgement, and Bond shook his head slightly with a smile as he stepped on the gas. The rattling jeep sprayed a little dirt behind it as it leapt forward, bearing the two of them towards Charity, Gappy Grady, and their respective pound of flesh.


They'd pulled up about half a mile from town and jogged the rest of the way as the sun started to set. Neither had much problem keeping up the ground-eating pace, and as they ran Bond outlined a basic plan.

"We wait for the sun to go down then slip over the walls. They're designed to keep zombies out, really. A couple of fellows like us should have no trouble there. Then it's a simple matter of finding Fatty and dealing with anyone else that tries to stop us." Bond said casually as they leapt a small stream. "With Grady in hand, we can outfit ourselves from his stores and get the hell away from that cesspool to pastures greener. Oh, I do have one request." He glanced at Primal, smiling impishly. "If it's all the same to you, I have a promise to keep to Grady. A small matter of a disemboweling and dragging the arsehole for a few miles behind his own jeep as we leave town. If possible, I'd like to take him alive. Is that alright with you?"

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"No problem." He replied, neither man hardly seemed to have any problem carrying a conversation while running. Had someone seen such a sight it may have been for impressive as well as comical. "He's going to pay either way, I'm patient. If he needs to sleep, I'll make him sleep."

As the approached Charity Primal picked up the scents of the debauched city dwellers. The walls may be designed to keep the zombies out, but with no one on guard duty it was a miracle that they hadn't been over run by now.

He didn't ask. As Bond slowed pace to investigate the outer wall for signs of a way in his larger accomplice just scooped him up with one arm and sprang upward catapulting them in a low horizontal arc over the wall without even breaking stride, landing behind one of the shanty homes.

Primal crouched low, letting the shadows provide the predator with cover. "You know where this guy is? Ol' nose is damn near going nuts on me, can't make heads or tails of half of what I'm pickin' up, and 'fat & worthless' isn't exactly its own flavor.'"

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Bond crouched next to Primal, having recovered quickly enough from the sudden shock of being airborne while tucked under a definitely fragrant arm. "Oh, he'll probably be at his 'bar', either on the ground floor or in the basement visiting one of his girls. Either way, we'll go in through the rear door into the kitchen." Bond considered the rifle he was holding and slung it across his back. "Let's go."

The two men prowled though the dimly-lit streets, slipping between the ramshackle houses and through people's back yards. Both moved with a fair degree of stealth, Primal's hunting expertise and Bond's inhuman agility and quickness serving them well in avoiding attention from the town's inhabitants. They made it to 'Grady's Place' without incident. The small one-storey house was already swinging along, loud music and the roar of rotgut hoarsened throats competing with the occasional squeal of an outraged woman or the crash of breaking furniture. Even as the two watched, the front door opened and two of Grady's legbreakers ejected one rowdy customer into the street, laughing.

"This way." Bond murmured, leading Primal around to the back yard. Slipping easily over the fence, the pair stalked up to the rear door, hearing a man's laughter from inside the kitchen.

"Hold on, girl, I need to take a piss!" the man said aloud, prompting a giggle from his apparently willing partner. Bond looked at Primal and shrugged as the back door banged open and an unshaven lout staggered down the steps into the yard, fumbling with his fly. To the beast-man's sensitive nose, the human stank of stale sweat, beer, rancid underwear and spicy food. Lord knew why the two-legged pig was even bothering to unzip to piss - he smelled like he didn't go to such extremes every time.

"Only Grady's men will be armed in there." Bond murmured quietly under the sounds of male bladder-relief. "He doesn't let anyone else pack in his place. So anyone with a gun is fair game." The Brit drew his stolen pistols, feeling their weight in his hands. "Ready?"

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"If anyone ever tells you an acute sense of smell kicks ass. Don't buy the hype." He grumbled softly.

He grind mischievously and picked up a rather large stone. Casually and without care he sent it soaring in an arc that smashed into the fragrant fools head with a crack that caused the two infiltrators to wince in pain for the guy and almost hid their faces away from the sight. Apparently the hunter didn't intend to hit him as hard as he did, and he looked at Bond shrugging apologetically with a smarmy frown the read 'oops'.

Groaning on the ground holding his head and now pissing on himself the mans 'date' rushed out of the back entrance with a concerned stride. "Y-you okay? What happened?"

He just groaned in pain as she tried to help him.

The two men slid along the back wall toward the door unhindered by the commotion of the stank pisser and his worthless nurse. They kept their backs to the pair the entire time they crept past without her waiting by the back door the pair slipped in without further issues.

Primal allowed bond to go first, doubting his inhuman appearance would be welcome in this place.

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"Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo" was clearly audible from the large grime-encrusted stereo system as Bond moved through the kitchen, holstering one of the pistols as he did so, freeing up a hand. In the ten steps it took him to cross the linoleum covered floor, Bond had considered the pros and cons of four different plans of attack. As he stepped out into the room beyond, however, he decided that keeping things simple was probably best.

The 'bar' was a makeshift home-built counter behind which were barrels of rotgut, moonshine, beer and, for the big spenders, real fresh water or looted bottled liquor from before Z-Day. The bartender, a surly man who was Grady's second cousin or something of the kind, turned and gaped as he saw someone he thought to be dead smiling coldly back at him from less than 10 feet away. Understandably, he hesitated for a couple of seconds before reaching for the shotgun under the counter.

(Now, it should be mentioned here that Bond is not an aggressive man. He rarely raises his voice, or threatens, or blusters. He would much rather strike a bargain of mutual benefit than take things by force. At heart, he is a people person, you see.

That lack of machismo and aggression, however, leads some mouth-breathing individuals to dangerous conclusions regarding Bond's capacity for violence, despite a reputation for being able to handle himself. Whilst not as untamed or savage as the huge blond giant squeezing through the door behind him, Bond has a chilling aptitude for channeled aggression once lines have been drawn in the sand. The inhabitants of Grady's Place were about to discover this first-hand.)

In a flash Bond closed the distance, grabbed the bartender's wrist, slammed it down on the counter, and brought the butt end of his pistol down on the outstretched hand with a *crack* of breaking bones. The man screamed as the cold-eyed Brit twisted his arm up behind his back and drove the slack face into the solid planking of the bar with a resounding *thud*. Blood mixed with snot and tears as he pulled the man upright again, his pistol covering the rest of the room who, by now, were turning to watch with the dim-eyed sense that something was up.

"Good evening, gentlemen. I'm looking for Grady. I take it he's here?" Numerous pairs of eyes flicked to the red-painted door next to the bar, and Bond smiled, following their gaze for a moment. He turned his eyes back on the bar's patrons.

"Thank you. Now anyone that wants to live to drink another day had better shoo. Vamoose. Scram, even. The bar is closed for the night for renovations, which will be taking place with or without you leaving in about, oooh, thirty seconds." Bond grinned, flashing white teeth bared. "Twenty-eight seconds now..."

The drunks, bums and local heavies got the message, and there was a scraping of chairs as they stampeded for the exit. At the same time, Grady's men were drawing guns and trying to get a clear shot at the Brit past the bartender. Others, however, decided that Primal made a better target.

Silly of them, really.

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