Thy Will Be Done
The dirt road released a trail of smoke as a stage coach rushed towards the town of Laramie. Alongside it another figure rode with a modified Winchester '66 rifle ready in his other hand. As the horses huffed into a halt on the main road of Laramie, the rider stopped as well to speak with the driver while the passengers got out and the cargo was unloaded.
"Good show, kid" the driver said as he counted a wad of dollars before handing them towards the rider dressed in fringed bucskins with a dark brown stetson as well. Two ammo belts for the rifle were across his chest in an X pattern. You could see that he wasn't exactly what you would imagine someone guarding a stage coach to be and apparently it was a side job for him just as well.
"Thanks, old man. If you want to give me more easy money, you can find me around" the 30-something man said with a smirk and slid the Winchester inside a holster hanging from his saddle. While he rolled himself a slim cigarette, the horse continued along the main road until it got a tug from the reins in front of the saloon and right across the street from the general store. As the man stepped off the horse, he lit the cigarette and looked around, noting the Sheriff watching with a deputy towards his direction. He couldn't see if it was him or the two Colt Army Model 1860 revolvers, which had several notches on the grips, hanging from his waist that got their attention, but in all truth he didn't give a hoot about them. The rider wasn't here because of them, or at least mainly.
His spurs gave a jingle as he walked to the saloon doors and stepped inside. A couple of men were laughing while walking past him and out the door and the rest of the saloon was filled with noise as well ranging from the piano and traveling show to the angry shouts at the poker table. You could barely hear the jingle of the spurs as the man walked further inside and leaned against the bar, ordering a whiskey. The man next to him suddenly jumped and gasped at the sight of the man and slapped the drink's payment on the table in front of him.
"Red! Red ye old dandy! Whacchyou been up -hic- up to? Lemme buy yer drink for ye, 'kay pal?" the drunkard said in a rather loud voice and the man he called Red only smiled in response.
"I haven't scheen ye sinche we fought in Sand Creek" the drunkard continued and this time got a rather cold look from the gunslinger he was buying a drink for. After Red gulped down the whiskey, his arm swung to the man but instead of hitting him, he grabbed the man by his shirt and drew him close enough to nearly feel his stubble against his forehead. The rider's Bowie knife touched the chin of the drunken man and a fire burned in his eyes.
"We never did anything. You spilled blood at Sand Creek like a savage. I didn't. Now get out of my sight before I decide to avenge the Indians who died that day" he said and pushed the drunken man hard enough for him to stumble and fall before scurrying away. Some of the people had turned to look at the scene but a sharp glance from Red Dalton turned most of their looks away before the undercover US Marshal ordered another drink for himself.
Johnathan sat on a ridge, overlooking the town. From what his contacts had informed him, the Tenney Gang was hiding in this town, or somewhere close by.
He slid back to his pack and began running a checklist. His revolver, a Colt Paterson, was holstered on his right thigh, and three speedloaders hung from his belt, which was riddled with loops for containing extra bullets. He had a small amount of food and water left in his pack - good thing he was within shooting range of Laramie. He glanced out at the town - one step up from a backwater. No wonder the Tenney Gang had gone unnoticed by the town - assuming the town wasn't complicit. You never knew.
He went back to his stuff. A rifle lay on it's butt, leaning against his pack. It was a Winchester, model 1873. They had just come out with a new model, but he didn't have the funds or any particular desire to pick it up. This worked just fine for it's job. He pulled a box out of his pack and flipped it open, revealing thirty 44-40 rounds, the bullets used in the rifle. He closed it and put it back. His horse snorted as he did so.
Everything seemed to check out. He tied his pack back up and slid his rifle back into it's saddlebag, put the pack on the back of the horse and saddled up, stroking the chestnut colt's ears as he did so. He jabbed him with his spurs, driving the horse into a run down the path into Laramie, and whatever awaited him down there.
Caleb Ellis was in the saloon when Red Dalton entered and his eyes widened ever so slightly. Slowly, knowing the marshal had not seen him yet, Ellis slouched down in his booth and tipped his hat down, just enough to hide his face. As it was, he'd managed to slip into the saloon without being noticed by the patrons... and he'd love it if he could sit here without being noticed by the marshal, quite possibly the only one in the place who knew he was a bounty hunter.
To the rest, Ellis hardly looked the part. He was a bit small to look at and he wore clothes that hid his lean, muscular frame. Quite frankly, he looked more like a thief than a bounty hunter... which is why he knew it would come as a surprise to most people to discover what he was. And it was a surprise he preferred them to discover only after he'd wrestled them to the ground and tied them up... or slipped something in their drink to put them to sleep.
Caleb Ellis was a man who relied on stealth for his hunting. He couldn't see the point of charging up to someone, gun flaring if you could more easily slip up behind them and catch them unawares. So here he was in Laramie, keeping his keen ears peeled for information on the Tenney Gang... quite possibly the most challenging prospect he'd ever considered.
At the least, he wanted their leader. At most, he'd take them all.
Walter pushed his empty glass forward, motioning for the bartender to fill it once more. After the whiskey was replaced and he had took a few hearty gulps he lazily placed an elbow onto the counter and rested his temple on his palm. Tired just wasn't the word to fit his demeanor. Defeated did him justice.
Dr. Walter Knox had been in this town for 3 years, tending to injured minors and range men, their cattle, horses, and pregnant wives. He once had hopes for the settlement, faith in what the gold claims could do for Laramie. But as of late those aspirations had faded. He and his daughter had managed to stay out of the town's rivalries and he was thankful for that much. But he worried what the town would do to his educated and lovely Elizabeth.
She had decided to come to Laramie against his wishes and he also wondered if she regretted doing so. She never complained and she expressed daily of her love for the few children in town. She was a good girl, a great teacher, and he was thankful to have her with him. He thoughts went uninterrupted even as his darling girl walked though creaky saloon doors.
Elizabeth pushed the dirty wooden saloon doors open and was instantly greeted with shouts and whistles. She felt herself blush, but continued to make her way in as the men gawked. A familiar voice stopped her in mid stride.
"Liz, you get purdier every time I see ya." She glanced down at a man with a grizzly beard, his arm in a sling, sitting at the table she was near.
"Hello Tom, good to see your up and about. How are you feeling?"
His smile was gap toothed. "I'm just fine darlin, the doc fixed me up good."
"That's good to hear."
She laid a gloved hand on his shoulder and leaned down to peer at the hand of cards he was holding. "Isn't this what got you all bandaged up in the first place."
He let out a long laugh and she smiled lightly.
"I'm not worried none, you'll protect me won't ya?"
It was her turn to laugh. "Oh yes dear Tom, don't let this delicate facade fool you. Underneath this cool exterior lies a furious gun fighter waiting for its chance to escape."
They both laughed until a cough from another man at his table interrupted them. Elizabeth cleared her throat and stepped back from the table.
"Well, I won't hold up your cards any longer." Tom nodded and she moved to the bar to her father's side. She took a seat on the empty barstool. She placed her hand on his arm to rouse him from his thoughts. He looked at her and smiled broadly.
"Well isn't this a pleasant surprise. How was your class today?"
"It went well enough, the children seemed to enjoy it."
He put his hand on her shoulder. "Your very good to them. I promise that we'll get a school house built soon."
She had been having lessons in their home since she arrived. It was fine for a few months, but more children had started to attend as of late and room was becoming sparse.
"Well I just wanted to make sure you were going to make it home for dinner."
"I know, for now why don't you sit for a few and have a drink with your papa." He motioned for the bartender to fill another glass.
"Ok da, but after I need to go home and make sure the table is set." He nodded agreement and nodded at the glass in front of her.
Red Dalton leaned his back against the bar and looked around the saloon with a frown on his face. The whiskey glass in his right hand was half empty and soon completely empty as the man gulped down the liquor and turned to stare outside of the swinging doors. He had noticed the Sheriff and his deputy coming towards the saloon from the window after the drunkard had scurried away. No doubt the man had alerted the Sheriff after the incident with a Bowie knife. It wasn't much of a shock to him, but he had to stay undetected as a US Marshal until he had managed to find out enough of the town's activities. As the swinging doors swung open, Red placed the glass down on the bar and the bartender began to take the mirror off the wall as well as taking the liquor bottles off the shelves in order to protect them from the bullets that he thought were going to fly about soon. Once this was noticed, several patrons near Red scurried away and some even rushed out the door due to this.
The stetson tilted forwards blocked the Sheriff's view at the eyes of the gunslinger, but the smirk he had was enough to tell the hand of law that he was ready to draw whenever they needed him to. In all truth, Red knew he could mange to shoot the Sheriff, but not the deputy. That's why he wished for someone, anyone, to stop this madness by stepping in. Over at the other side of the road, Red could see one of the local morticians waiting impatiently with a tape measure for the scene to get done with.
As the Sheriff cleared his throat, Red leaned off the bar and took a step forwards, his spurs jingling lightly in the now mostly silent saloon. The smirk at no point ceased from stretching his lips and his thumbs were slipped under his belt in order to give a short distance for drawing his revolvers.
The clip-clop of his horse's hooves striking hard ground was the only greeting Johnathan received as he entered Laramie, aside from the occasional stares from passing townsfolk. He headed into the stabling. A young kid, maybe fifteen, walked out of the back of the barn.
"Morning. I'm looking to stable my horse."
"Five dollars to hold onto the horse and all his accessories."
It wasn't an unreasonable price. He reached into his pocket and withdrew an appropriate bill, and tossed the kid a quarter with it.
"Keep the change." He slid off his horse and helped the boy put up his saddle and tack, then pulled his Winchester out, gripping it by the barrel, nodded at the kid, and left the stable. Hunger rolled in his belly, so he headed for the cafe.
"Oh, 'scuse me, Deputy," muttered Caleb Ellis. He'd somehow managed to come up behind the man and 'bumped into him' on his way into the saloon. The deputy didn't realize until it was too late that Caleb's bump had rid him of his gun. And when he had realized it, he hurried after the man with a startled, "Hey!"
Caleb turned and grinned at the deputy, still moving. He got to a window and shattered it with his boot. Then, with a wink and a grin at Red, he dove out into the street, with the deputy following, intent on getting his gun back... not that he'd be of any great help to the sheriff once he'd done so...
As Caleb walked out, bumping into the deputy and then first stealing his gun and shattering a window, Red raised an eyebrow. The Sheriff watched as his deputy ran off and then looked around the Saloon before ending with his eyes on Red's hand confidently still on his belt. The Sheriff cleared his throat before raising a hand to waist-height, flexing his fingers as he did so. As the Sheriff got ready, Red rolled himself a cigarette with a smug smile on his lips before placing it on his lips and starting to look for matches.
By the time the deputy was far down the street in search of Caleb, the Saloon rang with the noise of a gunshot. Smoke rose from the barrel of a six shooter and the people in the Saloon looked quietly at the scene. Red Dalton stood with a lit cigarette on his lips and his eyes peeled on the sight in front of him. The Sheriff's revolver was on the ground with a clear bullet ricochet on it's side and the Sheriff stared at Red. Suddenly, the Sheriff knelt and reached for a hidden weapon in his boot. Swiftly the hammer cocked back on Red's revolver and then slammed against the next bullet. This bullet hit, going through the Sheriff's wrist and then lodging not that deep inside his leg.
Red reloaded the revolver, spun it around his finger and then slid it in the holster while stepping towards the Sheriff that was now whimpering and groaning of pain. The bartender looked at the scene as Red walked to the Sheriff, placed the heel of his boot against the injured man's shoulder and kicked him on his back before going outside the revolving doors. Once the man left, the saloon went back into regular business even though the bartender rushed to the doc and noted of the major injuries the sheriff got in the modest shootout. Outside, a disappointed mortician went once again on his way since there were no bodies there.
Johnathan had dropped a bill on the table and sat down before his meal when shots rang out from across the street. He dropped under the table and grabbed his rifle. Somehow, it seems unlikely this is a coincidence.
There were no raised voices, just the quiet groaning of the saloon doors and the man bleeding behind them. Johnathan stood in the suddenly silent cafe and walked to the door, popping it open with his foot and peering out. A man was walking away from the scene, casual as could be, with a little smoke still rising from his holster. Johnathan shrugged and shut the door, lowering his rifle as he did so. Just a little fight. Relax, take it easy, the fight isn't on yet.
The coppery stench of blood was in his nostrils, though, and that just about ruined his appetite. He dropped a bill on the table and exited the cafe. He leaned against the wall outside the cafe, unloading and reloading his revolver, while he whistled a quiet tune. If I were a murderous, thieving bandit, where would I be hiding?
That's the problem with places like this - they treat all strangers the same. Sometimes they treat 'em nice, sometimes not so nice, but the treatment always seems to be universal. No point in asking local law, they seem to be rather incompetent, given the lack of any response to that little shootout.
He finished reloading again and rose up. Maybe something would fall into his lap. Sometimes, you just got lucky.
The doctor grabbed his daughter by the shoulder and pulled her down to the floor with him as the shot rang out. He cradled her in his arms until he realized that the bartender was prodding him.
"Sheriff’s been injured doc."
He looked over at the man on the floor holding his leg with his uninjured arm. He stood up taking Elizabeth with him.
"Liz, run to the house and get my bag." His voice was calm, he had treated so many gunshot wounds before he cursed himself for not bring his tools with him, especially to the saloon.
He watched as his daughter obeyed his command and ran out the doors and then knelt down beside the sheriff. He tore a couple strips of cloth from the sherriff's own shirt and wrapped it tightly around his upper arm and thigh. The wounded man didn't fight the attention continuing to moan in pain.
Elizabeth burst through the saloon doors and the difference in light from the dim and dusty saloon blinded her for an instant. She raised her hand to shield her eyes, then took flight in the direction of her home. Her mind was racing just as fast as her feet were moving. She had seen many victims of a gunshot, but had never been near when the shot had actually accrued. She felt a bit ill as she entered her house. She ran to her father's study, grabbed his tool bag and ran back towards the saloon.
Red leaned against the railing of the walkway next to the saloon, looking at the main street of the city with a smirk. His horse was drinking like it hadn't been allowed any water for weeks and no doubt it had been several days since the last proper break from riding. The Marshal stepped off the walkway and untied the reins before jumping on his trusty old Appaloosa as well as pulling from the reins in order to turn the horse around. By that time some of the saloon patrons were coming back while the nearby brothel had it's windows filled with women trying to see who had the nerve to shoot the sheriff.
As the gunslinger made his way down the street more or less to find the deputy and Caleb, who had in the end saved him from certain death, he passed a wagon coming into town and heading for the general store. Two cowboys sat in front and a young seventeen year old girl sat in the back in her finest. By the looks of it the wagon belonged to one of the ranchers and to the young woman in the back it was an event to get into town, even if it were a sleazy town like Laramie. As the wagon passed, the girl stared at the rugged and dirty rider who in turn stared back, smiled and tilted his hat in a greeting. This caused the girl to smile, slightly blush and turn her eyes away from him. Red had no interest in finding relationships in the town, but for his mission it might be useful to have connections to the ranchers in any way possible.
The hooves stomped the dirt road as Red Dalton made his way down the street. He had been on Caleb's tail before and knew his preferred hiding places. No doubt a sleazy hotel could do for him, but when in serious trouble the man could go anywhere he could find. The horse turned a corner and into a back alley, heading behind some of the businesses and then heading slowly along the alley. The gunslinger drew his other revolver while keeping an eye out for the roofs as well as any nooks where Caleb might fit into.
Caleb led the deputy on a wild goose chase all throughout the little town before coming up behind him and knocking him senseless with his own gun. When Red Dalton passed the spot, the deputy was just getting up, rubbing his head and cursing the man who'd done it to him. Caleb was nowhere in sight... not until two rooftops down. And there he was, leaning against the false second story of a general store, staring down at Red with a grin on his face.
"Knew you'd be lookin'," he called down. "And you always find what you're after, now don't you? That in mind, didn't figure it would make much sense to try an' hide. So here I am."
"Hell, my reputation is bigger than me" Red smirked and looked at the deputy trying to stand up straight. The rider took a hold of his revolver's barrel and swung it in order to hit the deputy again. Indeed, it didn't take much before the deputy was on the ground again and quite clearly blacked out. Only after the deputy was out of commission that Red holstered the Colt and looked back up at Caleb.
"What in the name of God are you doing here? I hope you're not here to gain something out of the ranch wars, 'cause if you are, I'll have to intervene in your business again" the US Marshal said and glanced back over at the deputy before taking his rifle and used it as leverage in order to roll the man on his back.
Caleb grinned. "I'd say you know me better than that, but... you don't." He shook his head. "I ain't here for anything to do with the ranch wars. Not worth my time. What exactly is worth my time ain't something I'm interested in shouting from a rooftop for all of Laramie to hear..." And with that, he climbed around behind the wooden front that alluded to a second story and began working his way down to the ground. He fully expected Red to be nearby when he got down... and so he was.
"Now, how's about we go off somewhere a bit more private," he said softly. "And we can each figure out what the other finds so interesting about a town like Laramie."
Red gave a laugh and smirked.
"Yes. I think the saloon is much more of a safe place to talk in. Only half of Laramie can fit in there" he said and turned his horse to face the nearest opening to the main street.
"Whatever you're here for, stay out of my way" he said and rode off to the main street, not getting far before noticing a row of wanted posters on one of the walls. He stopped next to them, now understanding what the bounty hunter was after; the Tenney Gang.
"Interesting..." he noted to himself before heading in the direction of the saloon once more. If it wasn't the place where he could find information of the Ranch Wars, he didn't know where to look. Even now after he made himself known in the place with the gunfight and all
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