Gavin watched the scene unfold before him with an expression that never wavered. It was impossible not to feel sorry for Arthur as he cried over Xavier's body, but Gavin didn't feel the urge to go and comfort him. It wasn't his business, not his pain to share. He could be there for Megan, but not this boy whose name he had struggled to recall.
In truth, Gavin wasn't sure that the emotion he was feeling really qualified as sorrow. It was closer to anger; anger that he hadn't been here to stop this murder, anger at the terrorists for facilitating it, anger at the unknown person who had pulled the trigger and thus proved the selfishness that lay within their hearts.
Anger is more productive than sorrow. Rage warms the heart more than misery. Hatred inspires a man to vengeance more than anguish.
In that moment, as he looked at Arthur starting to dry his tears, Gavin swore he would have vengeance
upon the people who were responsible for Xavier's death. His quarrel was not with the students who had decided to commit murder; it was with those who had made the situation possible in the first place. Vengeance!
The word was delicious, it's implications burning through him like triple-distilled whiskey.
In fact, Gavin was so caught up in his revere that it was broken only when he realised that Arthur had finished drying his eyes and had begun to haul Xavier's body off the bench and into the woods. For one awful moment Gavin thought the boy might drag the corpse right over the bushes he was hiding in, but then allowed himself a sigh of relief when Arthur passed a good few meters off to his left.
Peace descended on the duck pond again. A large crow - attracted no doubt by the scent of fresh carrion - landed on the bench where Xavier had breathed his last and pecked inquisitively at the specks of blood which stained the timber. Gavin watched it for a while, indulging in the sight of the glossy black bird confidently hopping about on the mossy timbers, its beady eyes constantly scanning the area for signs of danger.
Gavin was just about to push himself to his feet when the crow suddenly froze, its head tilting towards a patch of bushes that had been partially crushed by the passage of Xavier's body. A passing ray of sunlight had glinted off something shiny and metallic. Gavin would have missed it, but the crow hadn't, and he curiously raised his head a fraction to see what object had succeeded in so mesmerizing the creature. It was Xavier's gun, which had obviously slipped or been dragged from his nerveless fingers as Arthur was hauling his corpse away. Gavin had been so distracted by his private revenge fantasy that he had ended up completely forgetting about it.
Pushing himself slowly to his feet, Gavin made his way over to the crushed bush. The crow, startled by his sudden appearance, fluttered up into a nearby tree and perched there, glaring at him. Gavin ignored it, instead bending down to fish the dropped firearm out from the tangle of weeds that had nearly swallowed it up forever. His fingers closed over the curiously broad handle, and then finally lifted it into the sunlight for his eyes to examine.
Oh. My. God!
He had been right, it hadn't
been a normal M1911. Instead, what he held in his hands was quite possibly the most beautiful
double-barrelled pistol Gavin had ever seen. The metallic silhouette had been painted shiny ebony black, which had then been inlaid with patterns of gold and silver filigree that gleamed brightly in the afternoon sunlight. The grips were also filigreed in silver, and made of a polished white wood that Gavin initially mistook for ivory. With trembling fingers, he inverted the gun and read the logo along the side; Arsenal Firearms 2011-A1
"Wow..." Gavin whispered quietly to himself, all thoughts about Xavier's death vanished from his mind. He cradled the pistol between his fingers, tracing them along the designs etched in silver and gold upon the twin barrels which were still warm from the shots they had fired mere minutes ago. It was a religious experience; never before had he held such a perfectly-designed weapon, nor one of such elegance and refinement. He regarded the M1911 as quite possibly the finest semi-automatic pistol on earth, but this gun was ahead of even that masterpiece, patented as it had been by the legendary Mormon gunsmith himself; John Browning.
It took several minutes for Gavin to finally regain his senses. But even so, his body was still trembling like a leaf as he made his way to where Xavier's daypack lay forlorn and discarded in the mud beside the duck pond. He sorted through it mechanically, discovering pretty-much exactly what he had expected to find; ration bars, water bottles, personal effects, a manual for the AF2011-A1, and lots and lots of spare ammunition, some it in magazines, but most of it loose.
Out of curiosity, Gavin picked up a handful of bullets and examined them. They were all either Federal HydraShock Jacketed Hollow Points, or ATOMIC Ammunition Bonded Match Hollow Points. High-quality ammunition for a high-quality gun,
he thought as he let the loose bullets trickle back into the bag through his fingers.
Now that he knew what he had to work with, Gavin slipped into a routine that he had perfected over years of practice. He unloaded the AF2011-A1 and then ejected the bullets from the spring-loaded double-cavity magazine into the open neck of Xavier's duffle bag. Once this was complete, he drew back the pistol's slide to drop the two chambered rounds down the magazine well and into the bag alongside the others. With the gun now completely safe, Gavin tucked it under his arm while he reloaded the magazine with a combination of both ammunition types, one type for each barrel of the gun.
When the magazine was full, Gavin reinserted it into the gun and worked the slide to chamber the first two rounds. Then he ejected it and replaced the two chambered rounds before slotting the magazine back into place. Now the AF2011-A1 had twenty rounds worth of ready ammunition instead of the usual eighteen. That meant a total of ten shots, with each pull of the trigger spewing forth enough lead to bring down a charging bear. That much kinetic energy dumped into a human-sized enemy would shatter their ribs through a suit of Type-IV body armor at a hundred yards. It would be overkill, plain and simple. Pure, delicious, overkill.
Gavin was grinning to himself as he began to haul Xavier's duffle bag with it's precious cargo of ammunition, water and food supplies back down the trail to where his own equipment lay tucked underneath a bush. He put his trenchcoat on again, then perched the fedora atop his brow. The AF2011-A1 he tucked into a pocket, then hoisted his own (Grace's, really) duffle bag onto his shoulder. He carried Xavier's bag by it's straps. The added weight was minimal compared to what he was already carrying, and so he accepted the additional burden without complaint. Then he set off to rejoin his group.
((The Intrepid Tale of Gavin Hunter continues in I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.))