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Die Shize

[ASK] The Oatpeak Train Robbery

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@amenities@Blex@Wade

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HEY MISTER/MA'AM

TICKETS PLEASE

 

If you are interested in joining this roleplay (and I hope you are, pardner!), the Interest Check can be found here where you may in turn apply.

On the other hand, if you're already enrolled, then what are you waiting for, cowpoke!?
GO GET ROOTIN' 'N' TOOTIN'!!

 

Filled PC positions:

  • Train Robber x2 [2 total] (amenities | Ace)
  • Pinkerton Agent x2 [2 total] (Blex | carrionjackal)
  • Oatpeak Chief Deputy x1 [1 total] (Wade)
  • Oatpeak Sheriff x1 [1 total] (Die Shize (GM))

 

NPC Allocations

  • Train Robber x2
  • Pinkerton Agent x0 (PC only!)
  • Oatpeak Sheriff x0 (only one sheriff in town!)
  • Oatpeak Deputy x2

YEEHAWW!!

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The year is 1881. For some, it is seen as the dawn of a decisive decade. This is a period in the history of the United States of America called the American Old West. Historians might settle for that latter term, the "Old West", and articulate the hardships and the hard-earned histories of the men and women who survived it. They'd be right. The more romantic, however, liked to gallop with a more familiar term: the "Wild West".

This was no coincidence. West of the Mississippi River there was no settlement to compare quite with the eastern realm. Lawless lands, untamed territories and sprawling wilderness combined to form the eternal frontier. Yet, despite the desires of free folk and against the juggernauts of industry and technology, this time was just another reminder that most of what people called eternal did not last forever after all. The Old West was called the "Old West" for a reason. It was also called the "Wild West" for many reasons more.

Perceived to run from 1865-1895, the Old and Wild West was littered with thirty years of war, crime, corruption, chaos, anarchy and the struggles of survival within a still strange and foreign world. To quote Robert Hine and John Mack Faragher: "Frontier history tells the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of markets, and the formation of states . . . It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America."

Native Americans would greet all kinds of foreign visitors and invaders, either by the hand or the weapon that it held. Settlers and adventurers, opportunists and idealists, would come from all over to make a new home or a new name for themselves. More often than not, they were already there, just trying to make a living. These were the infant stages of law and order, amid farms and ranches, towns and cities that would prelude the eventual and inevitable industrialization of America nationwide. The wild frontier would come to an end as surely as it had come to a beginning...but not yet.

In 1881, the frontier line moved steadily westward, further and further from the Mississippi, the east further and further from the horizon. Then and there, a different kind of world was governed by a different kind of people. Native tribes, cowboys and cowgirls, lawmen and lawmakers, gunslingers and gunsmiths, pioneers and prospectors, gamblers and tricksters, scouts and soldiers, outlaws and gangs of them. Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, Annie Oakley and Pearl de Vere—men and women who made a name for themselves. But theirs were not the only names.

Before the machines of industrialization were groaning, before the boon of technology and the boom of the economy, before the growth of population and the consolidation of the nation, the west was still wild.

In 1881, just over a decade before the end of the American frontier, it still breathed in the dirt and the dust. In the southwestern state of New Mary, against a mountainous backdrop and amid a scrub desert, the town of Oatpeak was only months old in the making. Raised around cattle stockyards and the prospect of mining operations into the mountains, Oatpeak was as small as it was humble. With fundamental businesses and basic amenities, ranging from a sheriff's office and a stable to a gunsmith and a pharmacist, life was as slow as any other small settlement scattered about the west. However, that year, things were about to change.

With a deal having been brokered among three chief sponsors and supporters—the Vanderbilt family just south of Oatpeak; a former city mayor named Geoffrey Sinclair; and the Western Union Railroad Company (WURC)—a railroad has just had its last spike hammered down two days ago. The new Blackberry & Oatpeak Railroad runs southwest to northeast, connecting the town of Oatpeak to the city of Blackberry, and further to the Western Union Railroad (WUR).

In an age where railroads superseded the revolutionary limelight of roads themselves, connecting territories and states and delivering massive loads, little Oatpeak was now on the verge of making a mark on the map. With preparations having had no delay, the first delivery of various provisions and other goods has just left Blackberry and is bound for town. The steam engine locomotive commissioned by the WUR, called the Vanguard, is grinding the rails after leaving the city that very morning.

Of course, against the opportunity of growth comes the opportunity to stunt it. This freight train has left that morning, not merely to deliver its payload as soon as possible, but to stand out easier for nearby help and to make any would be robbers stand out too. Contracted from the WURC itself, two security guards from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency are onboard to ensure that the goods get delivered without a hair or a hiccup.

The only question is...will they?

It is 1881 in the west...and the west was wild.

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The Vanguard

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Anthony Hughes

The Conductor

It didn't take a pocket watch to tell that it was high noon, but Anthony Hughes had a habit of checking it at regular intervals. He was a train conductor. He was the chief person aboard the Vanguard who was responsible for making sure that it reached Oatpeak on time and delivered its freight right down to the straw. This train carried carts of cargo that weren't just scheduled to be delivered—they were promised.

Anthony tucked the watch into his coat. Judging by its needles and the summer sun, everything was on schedule. Had he known the area, he would have had an even better gauge, but these barren lands, though not alien, ran in a direction that he had not yet ventured in. No one had by rail, not yet. I'm the first. Anthony Hughes, fresh on the dirt to forward freight.

He wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, uncertain if it was out of nervousness, the heat of the day or the heat of the firebox in the cab compartment of the train that he dared to peek upon. Anthony was there to check up on the engineer, making sure all was well and swell as he made his rounds. Not much to report on that front, though it was nice to know that the Vanguard was holding up. She was as virgin as the track; a first time for both.

Anthony left the cab and made his way over to the Pinkertons who were set up near the middle of the train. The pair made him nervous—an uncomfortable and ever present reminder of why their presence was needed—but, on that same note, he was glad that they were there. He felt safer.

"Afternoon, fellers", he bid them with his hat. "How goes it?"

Edited by Die Shize

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“You know what’s the funny thing about being a bounty hunter?” Teddy asked.

Tim tore his glance away from the pretty lady across the bar. “What?”

“You’re fucking poor,” Teddy answered. He downed the rest of his beer in the process. “All. The. Time.”

“What?” Tim scrunched his face. It wasn’t a good look for the unibrowed youth. “No way.” 

“Yes way.” Teddy slid the empty brown bottle across the counter, before the bartender nimbly plucked it out of sight. “How many baddies do you think I used to catch in a week?”

“Uh, I dunno.” Tim kept frowning. He really had to stop doing that. “Five? Ten?”

“Ten?” Underneath the brim of his cattleman hat, Teddy cocked an eyebrow. “What, do you think degenerates just grow on trees or something? The answer’s zero, Tim. Ze-ro.”

“What about the bounty board?” Tim said. “There are plenty of names there. Lot’a cash floating around too.”

“That’s how they get you.” Teddy practically spat the words. “It’s a scam. Makes you think you can get rich quick in an ocean of fish. Then you realize you live in a desert, but it’s too late because you’re already lost, starving, dying, holding your dick because it’s better than crying.”

“But-“

“Trust me, lil’ buddy.” Teddy fished a few coins from his pocket and laid them on the bar. The pat on Tim’s back was firm but kind. “Stay at home. Work the farm. Don’t make your mom break down ‘cause you told her you’re leaving to go chase the Sundance Kid.”

Tim’s frown, unfortunately, deepened. “Is that what happened to you?”

“Yep.” The memory still haunted him. “But I’ve got a real job now, so that’s okay.” 

“Speaking of which…” Tim’s eyes magnetized back to the pretty lady. “Doesn’t your break end soon?”

Teddy followed the young man’s gaze, then understood right away. “Yes, I suppose it does,” he said, smiling, not wasting any time getting up. “Good luck, bucko. Try smiling when you talk to her.”

And with that, followed by a backhanded wave, deputy Teddy Leon made his way back out onto the streets of Oatpeak, just buzzed enough to enjoy the rest of his shift. 

Edited by Wade

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Boarding the train had gone without a hitch. Both he his partner had slipped into the throngs of people boarding as easily as a hot knife through butter. Being a little bit of a rookie would not hurt matters either, at least not for Percy. He had excellent experience in hunting and tracking, and to a degree becoming a Pinkerton was like riding in the finals of the big rodeo. However, he was not quite attired for the rodeo either. Some of his usual trappings had been stored away for something a little more conventional. As a 'civilian' going out into the 'sticks' his duster, hat, and spurs had been tucked away for more modest means. A casual hat more akin to what one might wear to dinner or church, and a vest over his sage colored shirt and tan trousers. 

For that matter, his rig of irons as well as his long guns were out of sight. Mind you, he was prepared, but he was not as comfortable as he might have been. Everything about the situation and the job had Percival Dantes on edge, and as that man approached the duo Percy shifted in his seat, resisting the urge to reach for a hidden weapon. An awkward smile crept over his lips as he instead shifted for the drink placed before him. "Ahh, yes, Master Hughes was it? It's a pleasure to be aboard this day, sir."

Dantes took a quick drink before following up his greeting. "I'm a quite bit surprised so many other folk be headed toward Oatpeak and not just us looking to start-up anew" Dantes added with a quick wink. 

Edited by carrionjackal
Forgot mood music!

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The sun beats down on his dark overcoat, his hat being the only thing protecting him from the blazing western sun. He hated this part of his job. The dusty, dirt-caked roads would fill the air with a brownish haze and line his throat with a layer of grime and dirt. He missed his home across the pond, the paved streets filled with chatter and endless rows of structures were all but a fleeting memory of his youth. No matter his past, he has more pressing matters to deal with. He pulls a chain from his pocket, tugging and catching the watch that followed soon after. It was a gift from his mother, from a far warmer time filled with wealth and luxury.

His mind continues to fall back on his past, perhaps clinging onto a longing feeling of remorse and guilt. He looked at the clock face, a few minutes early. He had received an offer for a business proposal that he could not miss, a proposal on which a train ticket was attached too. The employer needed information only a native British folk would know and was willing to pay good money for it. On the horizon, as he walked through the rough, sun-burnt faces of the local populace and the passing tumbleweeds, he saw the station, along with the majestic train it harbored.

The sight of the train instantly brings back memories from his time in London, the air filled with smoke and soot was pardoned by the gigantic majestic machines powered by steam and coal, something which still fascinates him to this day. He boards the train, carrying his briefcase on his left hand and a cane on his right. Walking through the swarm of people in the cabin, he settled on a seat which seems unclaimed and made it his intention to not allow anyone to sit beside him. He has sustained many sleepless nights before this and he wishes to acquire some shut-eye, even for a few minutes would be heavenly.

He opens his briefcase and shuffles through his items. Spare clothes, files, diagrams, books, stationery and most importantly, his prized possession: an 1851 colt navy revolver. A weapon built for the enforcer of the law, a sentinel of justice in a lawless world. A symbol of power, when power reigns over the weary and weak. He wishes he has bought more bullets, but he could not spare any more money than he needed too. If this proposal was to fail, he might have to return back home and face exile. A fate worse than death some may say, rumors of people rotting and dying from endless, grueling labor.

He now waits for the engines to roar, the smell of burning coal and the time to rest his weary soul.

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A few miles away, Rooster Barrett checked her watch. Or rather, the watch she had borrowed for the occasion. The sun blazed high above them; She knew it was only a little after noon, but for a job like this, one needed a little more precision than what staring into the sun would get you. It was a damned delicate thing, silver chain on it that looked apt to snap at any time. But, she knew people who kept trinkets this impractical usually kept them finely tuned, at least.

"Ten minutes, maybe," the woman muttered and finished off the hand-rolled cigarette that she had gripped between her knuckles, extinguished the butt on her saddle horn, and flicked it away. She wore a mahogany, flat-brimmed hat that almost completely hid her close-cropped black hair. From underneath its brim, her gaze slid sideways to regard her partner. "I'd just as soon get on with it...." 

Rooster had a hard, round face with high cheekbones and tanned, russet skin, and eyes so dark you could barely make out the line between her irises and her pupils. Couldn't at all in the glare of midday. She was not a lovely woman. But then, what lovely woman would be out here in the wilderness, just barely gettin' by on an unsteady flow of banditry and mischief. Her blood had been too impure for any respectable man to have her, anyway--not that she'd have them--and the army wouldn't take her so long as she had to squat to piss, so here she was. 

She and her partner waited, mounted, about thirty yards off the track and a few feet beyond that into the treeline. The land sloped gently in the direction of their target. It afforded them a little extra time to spy the train downhill before it reached them. Rooster returned her attention that way and drew her shoulders back, muscles tensing. Her horse shifted his weight and took a couple of side steps, sensing urgency perhaps in his rider's posture or the pressure of stirrups against his flank.

"Easy," Rooster murmured. Her eyes searched the horizon for smoke. 

Edited by Ace

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Anthony smiled at the man. His words had put the conductor’s nerves at ease. He looked able, sounded confident and seemed friendly enough. Just hope he’s not so friendly with anyone who seeks to be our enemy. Saints willing, it wouldn’t come to that, but there was just no telling these days.

 

“Pleasure's all mine, sir!”

 

After the detective spoke his piece, the conductor stroked his chin in thought. The Pinkerton’s actions were quick all over, and that was just as well. What was that one show that he had watched a while ago? Ah, yes. ‘The Quick and the Dead’. Though, despite his role, Anthony wasn’t all that quick himself. He wasn’t sure if the detective’s wink had indicated some jocularity in his speech.

 

After all, apart from the staff and those two Pinkertons, there was no one else aboard. The Vanguard was a freight train, wasting no car space unless that car was destined to haul cargo. A passenger train would follow who knew when, though only time could tell if Anthony Hughes would be conducting that one.

 

“Well now, Detective, you know how these dusty towns start off, I’m sure.” He gave a light chuckle. “They’re all looking to start up anew, though seems our little Oatpeak’s on a quicker way, what with Blackberry sponsoring it. Ain’t no better sister than a city, that’s for sure!”

 

As if hoping that his maintained glee were contagious, Anthony looked over at the other Pinkerton.

 

“How about yourself, partner? You as pleased to be riding the Vanguard today as your, er, partner?”

 

Whatever the answer, Anthony would find a polite moment to tip his hat to both detectives and continue about his rounds. As time passed, it was still afternoon when Anthony checked his watch from the backmost car, peering out at the desert world. The train was a quarter of the way to Oatpeak now. Only time would tell if she got there in one piece...

 

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Oatpeak

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Sheriff James Mason

The Sheriff

James Mason had just exited the Sheriff's Office to be greeted by a beating sun and the kicking dust as a breeze beat the dirt. Half himself wanted to turn back in and sit with a bottle of whisky in his lap. Of course, that was hardly becoming of a sheriff, especially a sheriff of a frontier town.

He had spent more than fifteen years in the wild west, hailing all the way from the southeast of the states, so heat was hardly a foreigner. Still, the sun was no friendlier this far west, and there was just no escaping it. Especially when you had been running a fever just the night before and the afternoon felt like morning. It was a hot enough day that the sheriff had left his duster in the office, his badge pinned to his vest.

Tipping his hat to townsfolk, his gaze as amicable as alert, James began making his way to the saloon. Saloons were dirty places to ten definitions of the word. It wasn't his choice for one to have been built but it was the staple center for towns these days, and James was a lawman, not a lawmaker. Yet, if not for a leisurely sip of amber, the sheriff was sure to scope out for signs of trouble in the saloon. It was routine work.

A horse just trotted past his line of sight. There, right beneath the golden rays, trotted on foot Teddy Leon, his chief deputy—heading away from the saloon.

"Well, howdy doo, Officer Leon!" James stopped his walk in the middle of the street, dipping his thumbs into his belt. "Guessin' I won't need to head in yonder with you comin' out! I'm sure you squashed any would be drunken tumblin' even this early in the day!"

Edited by Die Shize

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Arn Rose was a no-good, lowdown scoundrel. He’d been a prisoner in a place called Thatcher for killing a man while lovemakin’ with his wife, mistaking the incensed lady for one o’ them sportin’ women. After ditching the broad in Hamel and robbing the constable in Scorchet, Arn shirked and shot the crow across all get-out, baking three good horses to death along the way, before landing in Oatpeak, a place he knew from walkin’ in could holster a shooting iron like his. It wasn’t by being called the Wild West that places like Oatpeak teamed with bandits and acquisitioneers. Why, it was what’n they packed, banaghers like Rooster and Arn, that gots ‘em the name in the first what’s how.

“Mmf— no! Fu—!”

Concealed by a back alley and the sounds of a drunk night the evening earlier, Arn Rose and a big drunk feller named Kidness duked it out the dirt. Kid was on top of Arn with one hand over his mouth and the other balled into a meaty fist, with which he pummeled Arn in the face. It was fair, considering the mammy jokes Arn was paintin’ on thick a minute earlier, but to be quite stolid Arn was gettin’ to think he could take him not long ‘go. Now look at ‘im, bleedin in the sand and bitin’ at Kid’s fat hand. That was when Kid pulled out his black-eyed Susan and aimed the barrel right at Arn’s forehead.

Panic set in and the bad egg sprayed a handful of dirt in Kid’s eyes. The gun went off, deafening Arn’s left ear and giving him a nice splash-pattern scrape on the cheek, but sparing his brain bucket. Kid was distracted for a hot second, but that was all the practiced dobadder needed. He punched Kid in the face with one hand and took the hot iron out of his hand in with the other. As Kid fell back and silence fell in the building they scuffled next to, Arn straddled Kid and took the hot, smoking barrel of his shooter and pushed it into the man’s eye. Just as Kid started to screech, Arn popped a cap into his head. The sound was muffled by Kid’s head, but Arn only had a little time to pile some sand over him and run to Kid’s place.

See, Kidness was scheduled to start at the Oatpeak train station next day. Only wouldn’t be him wearing his uniform it would be Arn. And Arn would be catching the train a while early, near a half-day before Oatpeak judging by when he set out. Instead of the funny pleated hat, he wore his own. A funny, flat cowboy hat hangin’ over his eyes.

"I'd just as soon get on with it...."

Arn, saddled on a black mare behind Rooster, liked to say he didn’t have need of watches for robberies. Thing was, someone else always had the dang time piece. He’d just never had to be the one callin times. His job was recruitment. The two scurvies behind him didn’t know it, but Arn and Rooster intended to use them as decoys once on the train. Burge and Kirk were their names, but Arn had just told them to call him Rosie and forgotten.  Burge and Kirk were instructed to board on either side of Arn and Rooster. Of course, ‘Rosie’ was the name Arn had used all across the West. This would be a notorious robbery if the name got out, and Arn didn’t quite mind. With his ace in the hole tucked under the train station frock and Kid’s plugger stuck in the chest holster, Arn figured himself sitting pretty behind Rooster, whose directions he would follow but do his thing elsewise. With the bottom two buttons of the frock done up, nobody could see the guns or the bullet lops 'round his waist. Lots less obvious than the rifle on Burge's back. Arn didn't even know if Kirk was armed, but they both looked like bags of dumb shit.

Cicadas buzzed in a prairie eastward, thick wasteland extending from the waning trees and brush to the west. Rooster’s cig was dead. Arn went to spark another one, relishing the smell of smoke. He could feel the outline of the .38 Long, brushing his fingertips along it with a powerful longing only gunpowder and cash could settle.

“Follow’n you,” he said to Roost as the smoke drifted from his nostrils.

Spoiler

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Percy smiled back at the conductor as they made their way along the rails. There was some small degree of comfort to be had traveling without the typical gentry of a passenger train. Then again, knowing it was purely a freight train headed west would clearly entice others.

As the conductor shifted his attention to the other hired Pinkerton, Percy's mind settled on the itinerary for their trip. There were few obvious at present but that would not mean the affair would be without event. Someone clearly felt the need to hire professionals to accompany the freight. The rookie detective looked down at the long case by his feet. His formal detective experience may be somewhat lacking, but as a hired gun and tracker, he was more than competent. He just hoped it would not come down to that.

Percy reached for his glass and took a long drink before digging into his vest pocket to reveal a pouch of tobacco and rolling papers. He rolled his cigarette in silence looking about before setting eyes upon the other agent. "You want to do this in shifts? Or do we just sit tight for the time being?" Percy reached for a pack of cards that sat beside a bottle of brown liquor. 

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Teddy nearly tripped when he saw the Sheriff standing right outside the bar.

“Oh, you know me,” he chuckled reflexively, recovering with a tip of his hat. “Just the usual eager beaver. Comes with having a mother from across the border.”

Teddy tried not to think about his breath, or the pleasant hum fuzzing at his temples. Overcompensating for any symptoms was usually a quick way of getting caught. Instead, he let himself settle back into the comfort of his friendship with James, and was pleasantly surprised when his walk carried him in a perfectly smooth line. 

“And what about you?” he asked, pulling the Sheriff into a leisurely stroll. It was slow going, but he didn’t think they needed to be anywhere in a hurry. “You oughta be in bed resting, sleeping off that fever. Town’s not gonna fall apart if you take the odd day off.” He punched the man in the arm softly, then gave him an innocent smile. “That’s why you’ve got me: your faithful, slightly handsomer deputy.”

For emphasis, Teddy winked at a pair of women walking directly ahead of them. They simply rolled their eyes, though it did little to temper his inebriated confidence. 

“But hey, since you’re out here, why don’t we make a bet?” He paused to take off his hat, revealing a mess of sandy blonde hair. He found himself a little more disappointed than usual when he only ended up fanning hot air. “First person to lasso a crook this month owes the other a beer." Another pause. "No, wait. Make that five beers.” 

He nodded, satisfied. Five beers was good motivation. Even the straight-edged James Mason would have to take the bait. 

“How about it, partner? Think you can take on the big bad Teddy Bear?”

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His deep slumber was awoken by a feeling that swelled in his guts, a feeling that many times meant something bad was going to happen. He pulled his leather hat off his face, the blinding sun rays peeking through the windows of the cabin. It's relatively quiet now, other people enjoying their meals, some catching up on sleep, some even working on due paperwork.

The subtle sounds of chatter and the constant hum of the steam engines calming his heart. The feeling still persists though, somewhat of a warning he thinks. He checks his briefcase, none of his belongings gone from his possession, a rare but welcome surprise. 

He took out his gun and loaded it with the few limited bullets he had, pushing a piece of paper between the firing pin and the chamber making an impromptu safety switch.

He walked to the furthest cabin, the one closest to the conductor's, and took a seat. He felt something was off, he knew it by the stench in the air. He just wished that the sheriff and the deputy on board would be more than enough to suppress the threat if any were to come. 

 

Spoiler

Sorry for the short post, I got nothing on my head at the moment. I hope the robbers can make their grand entrance after this! 😄 

 

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On 2/3/2019 at 4:54 PM, amenities said:

“Follow’n you,” he said to Roost as the smoke drifted from his nostrils.

“I gotcha,” the bandida answered evenly, her face a cool and confident silhouette in the mottled sunlight. The corner of her wind-chapped lips turned up in a smirk. “Just think, Rosie. We’re gonna be sitting awful pretty tonight.” 

Rooster craned her long neck around and regarded the small posse behind them. Burge, Kirk, and a third one, a boy with less the look of stupidity as the other two had but more than made up for it in youthful nerves. Ah well. They’d wanted stupid. As for the kid---his job was simple, and relatively free of peril. Good for giving him the taste. “You boys, too." 

Leaning back slightly, she pulled back the flap of her saddle bag demonstratively and let the light glitter off a clear, chalky looking bottle inside. “Toby,” Rooster addressed the kid. “Oaked bourbon in here for the three of you if you don’t fuck this up. Trust me, y’ain’t ever had whiskey like this---Nor you two’n neither,” her voice ascended pointedly at Burge and Kirk. She thrust the bottle back into the saddle bag and looped a strand of leather through a notch on the front, securing it for the hard ride ahead. A brief look assured her of the empty horizon and their remaining advantage. 

Then the conviviality dropped from her voice. “Burge, Kirk, get in position.” She’d commanded people before; A tone like that could come only from experience. Babbling some assent, the two hired guns set their horses ambling away from the treeline and across the tracks. They sat, out in the open, ten yards to the other side of the railroad and further downhill.

“You said she was fast,” Rooster glanced back to Arn and gave a nod towards his mare. The grin returned to her lips. “Get ready to prove it. Stay as close to the trees as you can.” 

 

...

 

 

Time seemed almost to stop in the minutes after they had each hunkered down in their places. She’d lost the sound of insects, even the huffing and champing of their horses. Nothing seemed to breathe or move.  Her gut filled with that sick feeling of being out-of-body, of bearing witness to the cosmic unreality. Then she saw something. A shadow. 

She squinted at the distant shape in the sky, at the way it swelled and rose higher. Smoke! A toxic, buzzing feeling ran down Rooster’s fingers and pumped through her chest. There it was. The high. Her heart seemed to leap, and she couldn’t help baring her teeth in wild, spirited alacrity. 

“It’s coming!” Rooster rang the alarm, giving a sharp pull of the rein. Her bay whinnied indignantly and champed at the bit, but turned abruptly. Now she could hear the loud, drumming   click-a-clack   a-click-a-clack   of the iron wheels colliding with bolted plates on the rails.  The shape and color of the steam engine appeared, entering the valley below them. When she could she it clearly, she thundered to the others: “NOW!” 

“Ha!” She heard Burge yip, saw the whip and flash of his reins. Kirk’s howl followed and the two were off, racing in the direction of the train. They made a cacophony of ruckus, as instructed, shrieking and hollering like hounds on their target. Their horses’ trampled the earth, the whites showing around terror-stricken eyes, the broad muscles of their haunches visibly flexing and rippling underneath their coats. 

Seconds later they had reached the train and, with a great, steering heave from their riders made a sharp about-face, kicking a cloud of silt and dust into the air. You could lose a horse to a maneuver like this, but Rooster heard no crash and scream of a fallen beast. Good. Now the riders were straining to keep pace with the engine, running parallel to the side of the train opposite Rooster and Arn. 

A rifle-shot cracked the air.  Then another, each with a tremendous boom that echoed in the surrounding canyons. Burge was firing big, bear-hunting cartridges at the locomotive, aiming for its open windows. The engine was climbing the hill now. “Go!” Rooster hissed at Arn, and he would tear off with precision reflexes before she’d hardly formed the word.

And she would follow, with every bit of urgency and persuasion she could muster driving her horse to flight. 

Edited by Ace

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Somewhere else far off—perhaps in another dimension— a man with blazing red hair and the exact likeness of Arn Rose waged horrid wars on innocent people. Arn was perhaps just as destructive and unstable an element, alas his means were but lead and iron, his world a pile of sand and ash. He believed himself a descendant of all places sodom and gomorrah,  an agent of the salt, so he was thinking he mixed in with the desert just as good. Rosie’s lip, unabashedly pressed to the twisted smoke, still shined dark with a bruise from the scuffle with Kid a night back, but his bright hazel eyes were thin slits on the tracked horizon.

Arn actually felt, on his obsidian steed, like he was painting a valiant picture for the damn world. Sommat to live and die by without changin cause hokies didn’t like or it got hard. This was a living. From the smiths he’d stole lead and bullet clamps from to the cowpolk he’d robbed for the belts and irons two towns over. Two towns? Shit. Word takes years to get that far, he thought. Gon’ have to spread it meself.

“Oh I’ll prove ye real good,” he responded to the quip on his horse.

Rosie didn’t move as Burge and Kirk ventured on to the other side of the tracks.. His folded arms rested on the holster of the flintlock pistol, a less reassuring presence than the .38 but empowering nonetheless. There were flies on his face. Not only did he not care, he used tracking them on his skin as a way to pass the time. His cigarette burned low to the lips, ash fluttering on his and the horse. When it was done he just spat it to the dirt.

He saw the sign, and it opened up his eyes he saw the sign.

Didn’t take no looking, Burge and Kirk started their business shooting guns and hollerin’ by the bluff far off with no shortness of loud and rambunctious. Turns out Kirk did have a gunshoot, which Arn smirked at cause it looked he pulled out it out ‘is ass. He averted his gaze to the quarry though, self conscious of his bruised smirk. Burge and Kirk, loud as all hell on the opposite side of the tracks, would draw attention like a screaming banshee while what he’d been patiently waitin’ for come next.

“GO”

Yup!” he whooped like an Iroquois from N’york and his horse responded in kind. He didn’t keep spurs, just some nice durable brown leathers that didn’t hitch up too much on his blackish brown train station slacks. He and his mare tore off on raised haunches, Rose’s entire body flexing in perfect reaction with the horse to goad her forward. Taking one hand off the reins and whipping his cowboy hat from his head, Arn discarded the thing to the wind.  His torso flexed with the alteration in motion so not to tender his horse any, and everything about his actions spared the beast thereby strengthening their bond and the willingness of the horse to expend itself for him. He dug in a chest pocket, flapping out the train station operators' hat and putting it on.

Burge and Kirk spread out far from each other riding in random patterns of approach on the train making sound like madmen some distance off the tracks while Rosie and Rooster came in on the other side, farther back around the middle of the train, quiet as a ghost. Rosie was dressed as a train station operator with no weapons in sight. He scanned their side of the train as he and her rode up alongside a connector between cargo cars. Rooster would see him cock his head in a signal toward this connection. This was how he asked her if this was where they would disembark their rides.

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Ambience [Recurring]

Spoiler

Sound Presence: IC and OOC

 

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The Conductor

The Vanguard rolled along the tracks like she was destined to grind the rails—like she was born for it. The locomotive’s first time, it sure wouldn’t be the last, at least if Anthony Hughes had anything to say about it. A humble conductor, if he might say so himself, he liked to think that he carried enough experience under his belt to carry enough weight with those carpetbagging bigwigs who had sponsored this ferry: the Vanderbilts, the Western Union Railroad Company, and that mysterious mayor Geoffrey Sinclair. Former mayor, weren’t it? In any case, with a glance at his watch before slipping it back into his pocket, Anthony knew that only time would tell.

 

“Fine afternoon, ain’t it?”

 

Anthony called out to the lands that sprawled behind the train, stretching into sunlit horizons. He stood at some leisure during this quiet time of the ride, amid the grinding, the chugging and the gentle screeching. In the backmost car of the Vanguard, the door had been opened by the conductor, if only to gaze out at the scrubland and its paltry handfuls of trees here and there. Only, it wasn’t them that he’d been talking to.

 

“I love ya, Mary-Beth. Hold a candle for me.”

 

Anthony tucked the old photo back into his jacket and looked up at the clouds with a sigh. Somehow he knew that another pair of eyes were looking down at him.

 

“I’ll hold one for you.”

 

By the time that his gaze had drifted back down, he could have sworn that he’d seen some strange shapes shining like silhouettes on the horizon. Four of them at that.

“Now what in the blazes of Dante’s infernal inferno do you make of . . . “

Two figures come galloping toward the train. It was upon stringing those words together that Anthony’s eyes widened at the revelation. Bandits. 

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Ambience

Spoiler

Sound Presence: IC and OOC

https://tabletopaudio.com/

"True West"

Sometimes having a price on your head isn't enough to keep you out of town. As long as there's whisky, cards, and the possibility of a payday.

The Sheriff

It was all James could do to shake his head in disbelief that was part feigned and part genuine, resisting a chuckle of his own. In any other town, with any other man, the Sheriff might just have pistol-whipped the fool of a Chief Deputy. Only, this wasn’t any fool, not by a long shot—and a long shot is exactly what Teddy was, especially with a rifle in his hand. James had learned that from day one, on both accounts.

 

He returned his slightly insubordinate subordinate’s greeting with a tip of his own hat. Just the usual eager beaver my suntanned ass. The closer that Teddy approached, the more the telltale signs of a slightly inebriated and slightly insubordinate subordinate began to drip from his person like whiskey from a tap.  

 

The two men began walking at that point, side by side and as though it were meant to be. Oatpeak was one of the quieter towns of the frontier, especially with its relatively recent founding, and James often liked to reckon with himself where Teddy Leon stood on that front. The man could afford to play the fool here and there, here in Oatpeak if nowhere else, which meant that James could afford it first. Sheriff and Chief Deputy, they were partners in law for a reason.

 

James snorted his friend’s concern away. Bed was the last place that he wanted to be, even if some of the sweat on his face was from some inner chills that clashed with the baking sun. Though, he had to keep himself from a mild grimace at the punch to his arm. For some reason, he felt it. Damned illness. Makes me weak all over.

 

“Faithful, huh?” Now James did chuckle. “Handsomer I know is a devil’s lie, but faithful . . . ”

 

He trailed off at the perfect time; the moment when Teddy’s eyes drifted over to a pair of fine looking gals who he might have forgotten had rolled their eyes the last time. Or had they spit, shaken a fist and spoken some vulture’s vulgar to boot? He tended to lose track of his deputy’s antics.

 

Now it was James’ turn to roll his eyes at the mention of a bet. Oh, lord of the wasteland, here we go. He stroked his moustache at the gamble, pretending like he had to actually consider it. “A beer, hey?” Then the stakes were upped. James’ smile broadened, not so easy to tell amid the thick whiskers of his stache.

 

“I dunno, son. Seems like an awful loss for a man who loves his liquor as much as you do.”

 

He shot a wink at his partner. The young man might have been a crackshot with any iron in his hand, but the sheriff liked to think that he was a better rider than any of his deputies, if not the best in town. He lassoed from horseback more than a number. Still, he wasn’t the kind of man to back down from a wager whatever the outcome, so he extended his right hand and held it.

 

“You’re on, Teddy Leon, but I get to pick the crook.”

 

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Jeremy Callender

The Postman

Jeremy Callender had yeehaw’d his first horse at eight years old and ever since then all he wanted was to gallop all the caboose and visit places yonder, from N’york to Virginia to Dodge City to Tombstone. ‘Course, he weren’t no feller who wanted his own name scratched into some slab o’ rock to afflict his mama with a wailing that’d put the hardest stone cold outlaw afeared. Nah, she’d already kept herself in black ever since Pa fell off his horse and under the hooves of Stinkeye, weren’t no mistake. Still, he had a job to do, mail to deliver, and dangerous though it’n be, he had to do it. Like a man!

 

Well, a mister had to earn his way and his place and his name in this crazy world, else he amounted only to a hill o’ beans. Well, Jeremy was of the opine that no man on God’s green (and often brown) earth was well to live. Nope, he had to make his jack or be made mad as a hornet in the attempt. It was a man’s way. It was a man’s world. And this one had a mama to take care of.

 

Some boys twirled ponies round the corral like they was in a circus or sommat. But they’s was boys. Jeremy weren’t no boy no more. He was seventeen years old and a man grown m’now. Yeahp, he might have been an ace rider for the Pony Express like all get out and get gaited, but his steed was a stallion named Blackeagle. With a pat ‘pon the horse’s neck, Jeremy smiled a few teeth short, his wiry frame basking ‘neath the hellsun, his cowboah’s hat blocking out the rays.

 

“Yerrrrrrrr okaaaayyyyy, boaaaahhhhhh.”

 

Blackeagle whinnied and got an oatcake for his affection. Hoofs planted on a high hill, both horse and man just stood there full-rigged and hearty as a buck at high noon. That’s when Jeremy let his lips spread wider at the railroad thither, and more ‘cifically at the fumin’ train that he knew had come a’steamin’ all the way from the city of Blackberry, bound for the town of Oatpeak.

 

“Wayl, she’s a’chuggin’ like Big Belly Billy ten bottles in at the saloon, all raht!”

 

Beneath the sun, Jeremy’s eyes squinted. He could make out some shapes coming toward the train from behind.

 

“Hmm, naow. What’n the darndest dangest dirtiest dingiest diddilyfied deuces be— OH SHIT”

 

A rifle shot cracked the clouds from far below like one o’ them Viking lords that Thor Gundersen always cracked on about.

 

“BLAZES AND HAYLFIRE HOOOOLLYYY GUACAMOLE”

 

(he’d heard of guacamole from a Mexican chiquita who he once tried to shenanigan with back in Teetsville)

 

Having naught else to do with just his peashooter holstered at his hip and so far uphill, Jeremy hoped to the thunder gods that those desperados hadn’t noticed him. He veered his steed around, dug his spurs in with a “Yah!” and took off galloping toward a shortcut in the only direction he knew to—Oatpeak.

Edited by Die Shize

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“Deal.”

Teddy shook the Sheriff’s hand, feeling rather pleased with himself. If everything went smoothly - and it would, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind - he’d be back at the tavern with an interesting story under his belt, as well as five brown bottles to polish off his showmanship. In the unlikely event that he did lose, however, well… there was always Drunk James, he supposed. Or rather, the possibility of Drunk James. Teddy had never actually seen the man, of course. He’d only heard about him in the local grumblings, the kind that arose in the wee hours of last call. Apparently, once you cracked the steel lining of his liver, James Mason was the best god damned dancer this side of the Mississippi River. 

“Impossible,” Teddy had said.

“It’s true,” the bartender had replied. “Just ask young Jenny over there. She was quite taken with him, if I remember correctly.”

Now, Teddy glanced at James, ever suspicious and always wondering.

“So, what’s on your plate today?” he asked, focusing back on the road ahead of them. “If you’re not busy, I was thinking we could pay Stallion Stan a visit. Heard he got a few fresh horses last week.”

Teddy thought about his own horse. Fergus, or just Gus for short: a loyal, grey-white appaloosa with all the heart and soul of a deaf musician. Teddy loved him dearly. They’d been riding together for years- five to be exact, though it felt closer to something like a decade. The only problem in their relationship was that Fergus was getting old. He tended to require longer rests, and he felt noticeably slower these past few months. 

“Might be time for a replacement on my end,” Teddy said tepidly.

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The cadence of steel rolled along as the train click-clacked along the rails. They sped toward their destination with little delay. Plumes of smoke articulated their movement along their route, creeping ever closer to Oatpeak. Percy continued to flip cards over before him, eyeing the suits as he decided on his next move. "So far, so good..." he muttered as he shot a sideways glance at the countryside they roared past.

The click-clack was almost soothing by this time. Percy found a peace in it, and the lack of disturbances told him they were moving along on schedule. He reached down to gather up all the cards and shuffle them once more when something did disturb that peace. A crack of thunder broke up the repetition, then another and another. Percy narrowed his eyes as he gave the passing scenery a thorough look. There were no storm clouds anywhere. When the next crack of 'thunder' hit, he better recognized the sound. 

Shots continued to rip past the train cars, every now and then some skipped off the cars themselves. Someone wanted raise a stir on the train, and given they were still moving at full speed, Percy assumed they meant to board the train. He quickly slid his cards aside before downing his drink. Percy then got to his knees and threw open his bag. He dug out his belt of guns, fastening the rig about his waist. Before standing, he hauled up a lever gun and a messenger's gun from the satchel as well. He checked both long guns before looking out the window for the source of the shots. 

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