People scattered as Aaron hit the ground with a grunt, the wind escaping from his lungs, he went sliding and crashed into one of the market stalls set up across the street. The fragile construction toppled in on itself, collapsing on top of him.
The pain in his back was intense, but Aaron pushed it from his mind, trying to focus on keeping the curse at bay instead. It’s presence was hanging over his mind, roiling with bloodlust, silently calling out to him.
Pushing himself up, he shrugged off the debris that had fallen on him. He gazed around at the people clustered at the edge of the street watching him, fearful of getting to close. He had to stop Barret before the fight got to be too much for him and he lost control. He didn’t want the curse to take him over here, but he knew he might not have a choice in the matter.
Barret stepped through the hole in the wall of the bar, scanning the street. He cocked his head to one side and grinned wickedly at Aaron. “You survived! This will be fun.”
He raised his pistol, aiming at Aaron.
His gaze hardening, Aaron tensed his muscles, throwing himself from the debris the moment that Barret squeezed the trigger. The gunshot rang out loud in the street, sending people running for cover.
Aaron was ready this time for Barret when he rushed in after the shot. Aaron caught his fist with both hands, sliding back with the force from the blow. Pain shot up his back, but he ignored it as Barret wasn’t waiting for him to recover. Aaron heard the click of the pistol being cocked and he released Barret’s fist with one hand, knocking Barret’s other hand to the side, as he squeezed the trigger on the pistol. The shot skimmed Aaron’s midriff sending another wave of pain up his body.
Barret shifted his weight and Aaron released his grip on Barret’s fist, shifting his own and blocking the powerful kick with both arms. The force knocked him back, sending him crashing into the debris pile of the stall again.
He felt more than head the crack and knew he’d broken several ribs.
Before he could react, Barret was on him, the heel of his boot slamming into Aaron’s chest, driving him down into the debris. Aaron let out a pained grunt as the wind was knocked from him. He heard another crack and he knew something else had broken, but he was beyond pain at this point. There was no stopping, the other man.
At this rate I’ll die… thought Aaron to himself, watching through blurred vision as the man readied his pistol aiming down at Aaron’s head.
No… I can’t die… he thought. I just can’t.
Releasing his focus on the curse, he gave into it’s call. A wave of darkness consumed his thoughts and he felt his muscles react, but he wasn’t the one controlling them.
His legs whipped out and he felt his feet lock around Barret’s legs. Aaron felt his body twist, the pain that would have radiated from his many wounds would have been debilitating, but there was nothing. His mind was numb to what was happening, all he could do was watch as Barret toppled to the round, caught by surprise and thrown off balance by Aaron’s sudden attack. He was quick to catch himself though and leapt back out of Aaron’s reach.
Picking himself up, Aaron stood at the ready. Blood had stopped flowing from the wound in his back, but he still felt lightheaded as he watched himself pull the pistol from his jacket pocket and aim at Barret.
Barret grinned wickedly back at him. “Here we go,” he said happily. “I remember that look. This is real Black-Heart that I remember!”
Aaron didn’t say anything, he knew his face had become a passive mask. It was as if a shadow had fallen over him. Slowly he squeezed the trigger on the pistol. There was a hollow click and suddenly his muscles tensed and he flew at Barret, lashing out with a vicious kick.
Barret dodged, ducking under, countering with a sweeping kick of his own.
Aaron dodged out of range, dancing around the other man with incredible speed.
Barret followed his movements though, jabbing and swinging at Aaron. But Aaron kept just out of range. He could feel the movements of his muscles and the tingle of the broken bones as his body acted on instinct. He could feel the curse, and knew what it was focusing on.
Suddenly Aaron saw the opening, he knew the presence of the curse had as well. He lunged forward taking Barret by surprise as he grabbed the cylinder of Barret’s pistol. Time seemed to slow as Barret’s eyes went wide as he watched in surprise as Aaron’s fingers deftly found the release for the chamber. The barrel of the pistol flipped forward, the cylinder coming with it, the auto-eject pushing the ammunition left in the pistol out into the air. Aaron’s other hand flew out, catching the rounds.
Barret recovered from his surprise and took the opportunity presented. He spun around, wrenching his pistol from Aaron’s grip and bringing his leg up to slam a kick into Aaron’s stomach.
Aaron felt himself lift into the air and fly backward in a rush. He hit the ground, but he felt his muscles quickly pick himself up, standing. He worked the release on his own pistol. The barrel and cylinder flipped forward exposing the seven chambers.
Unconsciously he slid the rounds into the empty weapon. The click of each round locking home rang loud in his ears.
Across the way, he watched as Barret calmly did the same with is own pistol, replacing the lost rounds.
“You will pay for that dirty trick!” snarled Barret, sliding the last round into place.
Aaron slid the last round into his pistol as well, flipping the cylinder back into place. He raised his weapon.
Demon! Kill him now! whispered the presence.
Aaron felt his finger squeeze on the trigger.
Barret did the same, their weapons went off simultaneously, the crack echoing through the street.
Both of them sprung into action though before the shots even had time to reach either of them, dodging away, circling each other at high speed. Aaron swung his pistol around to aim as he dashed toward Barret. He heard another crack, as Barret fired his own pistol. Changing direction, he tried to anticipate Barret’s next move, but his muscles were starting to fail.
A shot ripped through the air where he’d been as he danced out of the way of Barret’s next shot. The speed they were moving at left no openings for him to get a perfect shot lined up. He needed to though if he wanted to end the fight.
Dodging, he tried to close the distance between himself and Barret. The other man didn’t give him a chance though, firing off two shots at Aaron. The first he dodged, the second caught him in the arm. Aaron could feel the fragments of the round rip through his muscles, but he was numb to the pain.
Trying to focus his thoughts, he mentally lined up a shot. He felt his muscles tense and he squeezed the trigger of the pistol. The crack rang out and it caught Barret in the shoulder. It knocked him back, but he was still on his feet, gripping his bleeding shoulder. Releasing his shoulder he, took the opportunity to close the distance between the two of them. He slammed into Aaron before he could react.
Aaron few back, slamming into the wall behind him. He felt it crack behind him, but it stayed solid. Sliding down, he collapsed on the ground. The curse still had control, but his body was at it’s limit. He couldn’t feel his muscles, but they nonetheless they wouldn’t move.
Barret towered over him his pistol aimed at Aaron’s head. “You don’t get it do you?” said Barret. “You can’t win! You can’t kill me! I am an immortal now!”
Aaron saw the sword through his blurred vision and he heard Van’s voice.
“You are no immortal.”