A Matter of Death
The crack of a whip sounded in the air. The great grass plain ending on the great Mississippi river was littered with the brown shapes of a cattle herd rushing along on another cattle drive. Here and there the cowboys shouted and kicked their horses for speed. The sky above was a clear blue without a cloud visible but somewhere in the distant horizon. Finally the lead rider spotted their destination and called out. Two other men joined him at the front of the herd and leaned against the back of their horses.
"There it is fellas. Carlton Trading Post. and by the looks of it there's the riverboats ready as well" the lead rider said and glanced at the two others who smiled.
"Don't get too excited, Angelface. We still have to get the herd on the boats" the more rough and worn looking rider told the lead rider before flipping a lit cigar from one corner of his mouth to the other.
"Sure, but after that it's just a ride down to New Orleans and that's it for this ride" Angelface said with a sigh of relief before whistling and waving for the other riders to collect the herd and start moving for the trading post and the riverboats.
The three lead cowboys, Angelface first, entered the small walled trading post right off the shore of the Mississippi river. It was a regular stop for riverboats needing more firewood or small repairs and supplies. This time, however, something was wrong with the place. The gate was open but nobody was out to greet them. As the horses stepped inside the walls, Angelface unmounted and rushed inside the trading post main building. When he came back out, the man shook his head.
"Nobody's inside. It's like the place is deserted" he said before looking at the gate where one of the riverboat captains stumbled in, rather drunk apparently.
"Well that'd explain that" the rough rider said and took the cigar from his mouth.
"You got the trade post keeper on your boat too?" the rider asked while dismounting the horse. His spurs tingled as he walked towards the captain who had a severe case of hiccups.
"A-hic-aye" the captain answered, causing a long exchange of looks between the cowboys.
"You think you can get us down to New Orleans intact?" another question sounded and the captain nodded his head vigorously.
"S-shay, you d-don't have any whiskey with yous?" the captain continued and fell back, losing balance and hitting the ground rather harshly. The smoker man took hold of his horse's reins and walked it over to the captain before helping the drunkard on the back of the horse.
"Go make sure the cattle will be ready. I'll go announce to the riverboats we're getting ready to bring them on board"
It wasn't too long after that that the two riverboats, now loaded with cattle, began the arduous journey downstream to New Orleans where an unloading would take place. The rough rider once again was smoking his cigar, hat tilted slightly sideways and wearing a duster while leaning on a railing on the bow of the ship.
"Hey, I never got your name" a voice came from behind the man, who simply smirked and shook his head.
"You don't need my name" the gruff, deep voice of the man answered before he turned and looked at the cowboy nicknamed Angelface.
"Thats right. I don't" Angelface responded before drawing his six-shooter and cocking it.
"See, I already know. You're Jack Walshey, and I already have what I need from you" Angelface said with a grin as he picked up something from within his coat and opened a map showing the location of an old cache he was after.
"You can't take that" Jack said and lowered his hand for his gun. As he did that, several gunshots rang through the air and a light cloud of smoke rose up between Angelface and Jack. Several steps clacked against the wooden deck of the riverboat as Angelface approached Jack and stopped in front of the man. The much younger, but apparently much more ruthless, man pressed the revolver against a small silver star hidden within Jack's duster coat. Another gunshot and then a splash as Jack went overboard, more than probably dead by the time he hit the water.
Several footsteps came from behind Angelface. As the young man turned and holstered the gun, he smiled and looked at the second lead cowboy of the cattle drive.
"We've got it. Now we just have to get from New Orleans to Texas before the rest of these damn Marshals come searching"
Chapter I - How the West was Killed
It had been years now. The Civil war had come and gone, making those people with a cache of weapons in their knowledge very rich men. However, slowly one by one these men, hardly in their mid-thirties, began to die of a major case of lead poisoning. And not due to lead in the water or in household items. The poisoning came rushing several hundred kilometers per hour from a tight cramped barrel of an old Smith & Wesson.But for some reason the lead poisoning did not come before the crumbling of the target's life, but rather much after, as if some vengeful angel had first destroyed the once rich men one by one and then Death himself had collected upon the ruins of a once great cowboy. This applied by the beginning of our story to all but one; Angelface. The richest and most powerful of the group that had once killed US Marshal Jack Walshey.
After The Civil War Angelface had moved on to the rocky planes of Texas, where he ran a town as a mayor and also owned one of the largest cattle ranches in United States. Heck, he even had stock investments in the railroads. That's probably why he was so powerful too. Nobody wanted to go against a railroad boss in the end, since they usually had the power to send a whole army of mercenaries and gunslingers after you if you did. But one day someone would try...
The sun was hot over the arid planes around the town of Melée(tm) and the dusty and dry wind blew from the deserts to the west of the town. A stagecoach approached the town, several bags and suitcases tied to the top and two men sitting on the front of the coach. Inside a suited man wiped sweat off his forehead with a handkerchief and his wife sat back straight and with a parasol open, despite it being near impossible inside the cramped stagecoach. Opposite them was a man sitting with a dark green hat, which seemed like a short top hat, tilted slightly forwards and covering his face. He also had a long, again dark green, duster coat, beneath it seemingly a worn cowboy gear. What was odd in this cowboy was that he had a priest's collar on his neck.
As the stagecoach stopped speck in the middle of the town of Melée(tm), the preacher stepped up without tilting his hat up and calmly stepped out of the coach once the door was opened. He tugged his duster coat closed before being handed his gear from the top of the stagecoach. It seemed he was traveling on horse, but it either died or had to be left somewhere just before he got on the stagecoach. In any case, the man carried the gear with him to the nearest INN and rented himself a room. It wasn't a nice room by any standard, but livable still. The gear was dropped on the floor by the door as the man made his way inside and the owner followed him in.
"Anything else, sir?" the owner asked and the preacher turned. He was about a head taller than the innkeeper and so the innkeeper could see under the man's hat and into the eyes of the stranger. The sight beneath the hat was something terrible to the man, despite being an innkeeper and seeing much of what can be seen, to the extent that the owner let out a squeal like a little pig being slaughtered. The preacher slowly shook his head and the owner ran out of the room, closing the door behind him. The small puddle on the floor where the owner had stood was a good indicator on the amount of horror that the owner had faced when looking into the eyes of the preacher.
As the stranger to this town stepped out to the balcony of the inn, he took a careful look around the town to familiarize it swiftly. A small group of men, all armed and without a star on their chest, walked down the middle of the street, obviously being the real order in town instead of the law. They were some of Angelface's men. One of so many groups traveling around town keeping order and terrorizing people into obeying. The sheriff and his deputies had no power. It was lucky they even got out of the jail house without several bullet wounds on their bodies.
A sort of grumble escaped the preacher's lips as he watched the group laugh and torture an elderly man. His expression was neutral, but the grumble was a clear indication he would change how things were handled around the town.
Oooh a Western fiction. I am surprised to see the fanfiction forum here in Jedi Knight actually active for once.
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