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Onyx Landing

OP
xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
"I forget myself sometimes and, truly Miss Turner, I meant no offense in my questions."

“No offense taken,” Victoria claimed tersely, not slowing her pace despite Missy’s insistence and Cassie attention on the dog. “But I’m a very busy woman, Miss Huntington, and I rarely have much opportunity to socialize with someone who isn’t paying for my time.”

Instead of speaking to her directly, Missy spoke to her man, making arrangements. Commanding an authority born of her station, an authority that rivalled Victoria’s own.

Victoria didn’t appreciate the rivalry.

"My gift to you Miss Freeman. I hope you don't find it improper, but your barkeep mentioned something of a shortage while we had a chat."

She couldn’t deny how nice the gift sounded, which only served to annoy her further. She didn’t want to like Missy, and she sure as hell didn’t want to be indebted to her. “I can’t accept it as a gift, but I’m willing to pay for it. What would be a fair price?”

Missy didn’t get a chance to answer before they entered the bank. Right after opening, so there wasn’t yet a line, just one person ahead of her, speaking with the teller. A newer building and business, one she’d lobbied for after nearly getting robbed after a session with a patron. He left with a slug in his right arm, but he nearly left with her savings of $500, as well as her earnings for the day. She did enough for the town to risk her life protecting her money; Someone else ought to do it. Besides, it helped a few people around here start farms, which brought even more people to town, which brought in even more money for her.

More trouble too, but that was a whole ‘nother story.

Victoria nodded politely to the guard, a retired sheriff out of Kansas with a bushy mustache and round belly, and waited for the lone teller to finish. It only would have made sense to make conversation with Missy, but she really didn’t want to encourage the girl to continue following her around like a lost puppy.

The doors opened with a slam, followed by the thunderous roar of a shotgun. Before she could even think of reach for her gun, three men entered the bank, their shotguns aimed at the guard and the three women. After briefly entertaining the notion of hiding or fighting back, Victoria lifted her hands into air. “We don’t want no trouble.

“Ain’t nobody gotta get hurt,” the leader yelled, waving his gun from Cassie, to her, to Missy, “But don’t try me, cuz I ain’t scared to shot.” He motioned towards his comrade, pointing with his chin towards the women. “Take their guns, and any bits of precious they have on them.”
 

Kilted Pervert

Super-Earth
"Get under cover!" Jeb yelled at the sound of gun fire. He lept to his feet, spilling coffee and succotash over the dusty ground. Pulling his long barrelled Smith & Wesson .44, he sprinted across the street and covered behind the water trough. Jeb wasn't necessarily planning on getting involved, but he didn't want to get shot either, if the bank robbers decided to shoot their way out of town. He did however, despise shitheads that targeted small town banks, it was usually enough to ruin the town's economy and send folks to the poor house.

Jeb trained the .44 on the bank door. Waiting to see what happens next.
 

Praxis

𝓛𝓮𝓪𝓻𝓷 𝓽𝓸 𝓼𝔀𝓲𝓶
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 13, 2014
Location
the Neitherworld
Miss Freeman, lovely and intriguing thing as she was, certainly wasn’t making things easy for Missy. Twice now she’d brushed her off, as though her time was that to be wasted by any trifle that the fussy, little blonde could possibly have brought forth. She snorted, despite herself, and worked to stay an eye twitch, tactfully and as subtly as a lifetime of familiarity with politesse afforded. She hadn’t the slightest clue what a case of whiskey cost. Or a single bottle, glass or even sip, for that matter. A fair price was what she had hoped to get in turn for it: her time.

Taggert; still shifting nervously as he licked at Cassie’s open hand, reluctantly tore himself away from her to follow the pair. Keeping a quick pace, Missy would continue to prattle at Victoria’s side as they went. Flourishing with hands and all but bouncing in her step through the course of a mostly one-sided conversation.

“Well, I suppose I would need to defer to your judgement, Miss Freeman. I’m afraid I don-“weaving around a passerby who’d seemed to fixated her vest to notice he’d nearly bumped into her, “I don’t deal much in libations, I’m afraid. Whatever price you set; you have my trust that it will be fair. Though, please, I must insist it be a gift. I’m,” she paused, searching about for the proper word, “rather eager to have a chat, is all. Another time, of course. This evening perhaps.”

Giggling softly, she’d gesture at the group.

“Quite the quartet we make, isn’t it?” Beaming through dark lashes at both women, “three ladies about town and their…” she glanced down at Taggert, “male escort. Who’s a sweet boy, yes, he is? He was a gift for my,” she hummed in thought to herself, eyes never seeming to rest too long on any one section of the town, “sixteenth birthday? That sounds right, at least. A family friend, from the Northern Territories breeds them and Daddy had him shipped down. Imagine, opening a gift and finding the most adorable little pup inside.” She gushed, kneeling to stroke at the animal’s neck as they approached the bank. “Drink.”

Without hesitation, Taggert jogged to a nearby trough, beside a hitched horse, and began to gulp.

“The poor baby,” she said gently, following Cassie into the coolness of the bank. “I don’t think he cares for this heat at all. Oh! Did you see, Miss Turner? That prim little brunette as we were leaving? I must inquire about that dress of hers. Somebody ought to tell the poor thing she's a bit early for the ball, yes?"

It would've been impossible for Missy to know if Cassie would return this attempt at second-hand commiseration. Her own inability to recognize the hypocrisy of her statements demanded discussion itself. Regardless, she was making an effort.

Never struggling with when to keep quiet, Missy would circle idly around the interior. Shamelessly eavesdropping the conversation between the teller and the man and smiling sweetly at the mustachioed officer. Older, perhaps, but with a keenness in his eyes that Missy found herself enjoying. She’d been working up something to say to him; some whisper-pitched bit of charm that would extend her web one strand further when a crash announced the entrance of three men, armed, and shouting.

“Take their guns, and any bits of precious they have on them.”

One of them; face shrouded behind a scrap of rough fabric, turned to Missy. Leveling the barrel of his pistol at her, he’d inch forward. No doubt assuming she’d shrink against the nearest corner and begin relinquishing her belongings, her clothes, her life, without hesitation. Missy, entirely unaware of the man, was glaring pointedly at the one who appeared to be leading them. With his back half turned to her, weapon at hip and aimed in Victoria’s direction, he wouldn’t feel the searing burn of livid, blue eyes.

“You, hands up.” Missy, finally aware of his proximity only by the stench, snapped her attention forward. “The boots, the brooch. Hand ‘em over.”

“No.” She sneered, not flinching even as he shoved the weapon against her stomach. The man groaned, moving to wrench at Missy’s braid and tugging her back against his chest, barrel pressed flush under her chin. Missy winced, stumbling back in the man’s control and flashing a pair of furious eyes toward Victoria. Collecting herself, she’d purse desperately dry lips together and emit a low whistle that lilted up at its tip.

“Fair ‘nuff,” he said through a dry laugh, “you’re comin’ with us.” The leader, hearing the disagreement, turned to face them. Sadly, for him, he hadn’t thought to cover his face. How the rote understanding of committing a crime and getting away with it had somehow passed over him, Missy didn’t know. She did know the coat he wore. And the ghostly, faint remembering of where a patch had been stitched to the left sleeve.

“Settle down, little lady,” said calmly, noticing the unmasked hatred on her pretty face. “No need to get hostile.”

Missy went to lunge forward, only to be reigned back in by the man and his iron grip on her hair. Baring teeth, she’d make sure he still held her gaze when she spoke.

“I’m going to kill you last.” She hummed, all socialite charm vanishing with each twitch of eye.
 

HannibalBarca

Planetoid
Joined
Jul 17, 2019
Location
At large, am tall.
Five years prior...

* ~ ~ *

Somewhere a few hours after noon, he figured...the shadows and the sun were right for it. That meant he'd been riding for a good fifteen hours now, since midnight, and he felt every minute of it. Jezebel was soldiering along, but her head was hanging somewhat, and he couldn't blame her. It wasn't the weather—the fine, cool sort you would expect in higher-up rugged mountain terrain like this—it was the mileage. Shit, they both had that, for what it was worth. And he expected a good deal more before the end, too.

The town was up ahead. He'd already passed some few mining claims with their tents, some half-assed shacks, a few farmsteads, scraping by on the uneven soil of the area, and a couple of sheepherders, too, men who appeared to be from that place between Spain and France he had learned about so many years ago...ah, whatever they were, they spoke neither Spanish nor French, so he couldn't converse a lick with 'em.

He reached the beginnings of a road, if a wider dirt track could be called such. At least it wasn't mud. He loved rain, but mud he could do without. The rain invigorated him, but mud always got him melancholy...it reminded him of Alice. The very thought irritated him, and he switched Jezebel with the reins, which elicited a slight pickup of speed and an annoyed nicker.

A very coarse and varied collection of buildings straddled the few roads into town...the main one coming up from the prior valley, up over the ridge line into the next valley over; what name, he couldn't recall. The buildings, while rapidly built, were sturdy, made of the local oak, which stood up fine and strong to the varied weather the local mountains could throw at you. The place wasn't all sunshine and gold, like so many of the Eastern papers crowed about. He already knew about the terrible winter storms the mountains of the area could produce.

He edged by other riders and those on foot. He took a few minutes to size up the residents and visitors of the town: Welsh miners from across the sea; grizzled Mexican gold hunters; hardened Eastern travelers with experience aplenty, but still dressed in their road-worn, Eastern-appropriate clothing; Chileans with their sarape-like outerwear and their conditioning to high altitudes; German, French, and Italian diggers from the Alps, each with their own varying, though similar regalia; the occasional black, free and seeking their second bonanza after freedom; a handful of Chinese miners, always in a group, mistrusted by most. What he wanted to see was how many women were in he area.

Women were not as common as men in the territories. It would take a strong woman to maintain anything more than a subsistence kind of life out here—or a strong man to protect her from the hungering hordes of horny males, always ready to overlook humanity for a quick sample of why they really searched for gold. Now, he knew most women were already strong...he'd read enough of his history, and knew life was the shitty end of the stick for women in general; here in the frontier, women's lots in life tended to go backwards rather than forwards. It wasn't a condemnation of women; it simply was what it was. He didn't like much of it, but he was a practical man, and commanding the tide to roll out was not his kind of behavior.

He rode up to a boarding house, and climbed wearily from the saddle. He didn't even glance at the sign above the door, so tired was he. He knew that at the moment he was safe, and that was all that mattered at that moment. Okay, not all...a bath and a hot meal sounded damn good, as well as a soft bed and some well-deserved sleep in comfort. He opened the door and went in, fully expecting to be asleep in less than an hour.

She came into the front of the building just as he entered the front door; likely the wife of the proprietor. She didn't glance up at him as she quoted the prices for lodging at her and her husband's hostel, but he was a good judge of people with a solid look; she was very petite, and her hair was pinned back and her dress sleeves rolled up--she was a hard worker, and just what he'd expect from anyone out here on the frontier, especially a woman. But there was more to her than that, more even than her diminutive height, which had immediately caught his attention; ever since he'd first had his eye drawn to women, it'd been the small ones who did his heart the most damage.

And this little lady was measuring up to be a foot taller in everything else about her he could see. As she made her way behind the counter, he watched the way she carried herself--not too proudly, but certainly not beaten down by life...saw the switch in her hips and knew she was a woman with passions, but noted the way she held her lips and understood it to mean she'd held her passions in check for quite a while, too. When she reached the counter and turned to him, she looked up, as he was big enough a man at almost six foot and a half, but in his boots he towered higher still. When her eyes were revealed to him as she raised her head to face him, all the inputs in that dusty mining town made a motley background...the variegated sounds, the collection of smells, and the filtered, dust-filled light...all were pushed far out of his mind when he saw those blue-grey pools of languid femininity. He'd been unprepared for such a surprise--here in the little mining town of Onyx Landing, why would he expect to find such a beautiful pair of eyes?

Instead, he was rescued by her own welcoming words, and her monotone had to be forgiven, if she lived in a part of the world where a female speaking with kindness was assumed to be either a whore, or just as good as one. But to him she was like an oasis in some far-off Arabian dune sea, completely unexpected and most welcome. When she finished her pitch, he lifted off his dusty, moderately-brimmed hat, ran his hands through his unkempt brown hair, and looked her back in the eye.

"Your rates sound fair enough to me, ma'am. I'd like to pay for three days, in advance, and for my laundry." He pulled the silver dollar coin out of the long, thick wallet he carried in a pocket of the cloak, and laid it quietly on the counter, scratching his five-day beard.

She took his payment, noted it in the record book, and nodded silently.

If he'd been in the East, in Baltimore, or Boston, or Philadelphia, a man would have been a fool not to take the opportunity this lady presented to him...if she'd been unattached. Hard working, dressed in her scrubbing clothes or not, he could tell just by the way her dress shifted on her that she had a figure to make a man walk twenty miles to bring her water. In the East, she'd have had a hoop skirt, and a parasol, and a smart, flower-and-ribbon-bedecked little hat pinned to her hair, which most likely would have been made up to enhance the natural charm of her face. She'd also have had a corset cinching up her waist--not that she needed any such thing to give her body more appeal--and that would have also hidden her breasts but at the top, where her cleavage would have been bursting from the seams of the top of her dress. Right now, her dress was clinging to her breasts in a very appealing way, most likely from the honest sweat she wore, and bras still had another thirty years before they were invented, so the outline of them was quite apparent under the clinging calico. All in all, she was, for a man who'd been riding, running, gunning, and disappearing for three years, a pleasant sight.

He swept his sarape-like overcloak off of his right shoulder and extended his hand to her. "Elias Horne. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

She didn't offer her own name, but took his hand and stiffly shook it. "Pleased to make your acquaintance as well, Mr. Horne. If you'll excuse me? I needs get the broom to sweep up the traveling dust."

He realized he hadn't dusted himself off before he'd come in. If he'd done that as a boy, he'd been switched fifty times and gone to bed without supper. "Pardon me, ma'am, but I'll be the one that sweeps up that dust," he spoke, though with his exacting voice, it almost rang out as a command, "a man has to take care of his mistakes." He paused just a moment, realizing how ironic the last nine words sounded, considering the last three years. He held his hand out for the broom, and looked back into her eyes.

"I'm thinking not, Mr. Horne," she replied in a voice that mimicked his own, "Not so much a mistake as it was wanting to get to where a body is going and needing to take care of business," she said, not unkindly. "Besides, Thomas wouldn't approve if I let a man do a woman's work."

Chuckling, he nodded. "I'll be needing to put Jezebel in the stable across the street, and bring in my saddle bags and clothes to be laundered."

He had to laugh a little as he went back out the front door. He remembered how much he'd feared punishment as a boy; now, as a man, there were still punishments, but not of the sort where you were told not to do it again...they were much more permanent. He used his big, workworn, but agile hands to clean his clothing as well as he could manage, and his hat, too. Then he opened his saddlebags and removed what clothing he had to his name. Most of it was similar to the gear he had on at present, but there was also the silk shirt, ribbon tie, collar, pants, coat, and fine shoes in one bag he did not remove; that was a memento of bygone days. He didn't wear the suit anymore, but everything else was collected just fine, and stored away in his mind.

Returning to the front door, he entered and placed the laundry on the counter. She was no longer there, but it was just as well. If there was one thing he didn't cotton to, it was imposing on another man's woman.

Regardless of certain peoples' opinion to the contrary.

He left again, exiting through the front door and untying Jezebel from the hitching post, only to cross the street and get her set up in La Casa del Caballos--The House of Horses. It was, he learned, owned by an older Spanish ex-miner from the southwest Apenines named Guillermo Baltasar, who was wise enough to get out of the gold mining 'business' and into a real one that promised a real future. Knowing Spanish made a world of difference out here in California, and his respectful manner to all types of people earned him more respect back, as well as knowledge and--more often than not--secrets that would have taken much longer to figure out. It would help him out in the coming months...and more, if he was lucky enough.

When he got back to the hostel, he went to his room only long enough to put his bags and rifle in a corner, then locked the door and headed for the washroom. Opening the door, he gazed around as he closed the door behind him--it was neat and clean and had every indication it was kept by a conscientious woman. A few shelves of cleaning supplies, extra towels, and copper kettles and what-not lined the room; one small, round, three-legged table held a vase of freshly picked poppies and other wildflowers. The proprietors probably paid some of the few children around town to pick them for them. On one side of the room was a stone fireplace with a kettle hanging from a wrought iron stand, boiling happily. The small copper washtub in the center of the stone-floored room was as inviting a thing as he'd seen in many a month. Mountain streams only served so well as baths--civilized man needed hot water to truly bathe with.

Stripping off his boots, gun belt, and other accoutrements, he slid off his soiled clothes and stretched, enjoying the freedom of nakedness, then poured a few of the buckets of fresh water next to the tub into it, finally retrieving the kettle with the mitts beside the fire and pouring all of its steaming contents into the bath as well. Finally, he pulled his Peacemaker out of its holster, checked the chambers to be sure it was fully loaded, and picked up his hat. Then, slowly, he eased himself into the tub, his length requiring him to keep his legs bent and his knees fairly high out of the luxurious water. Placing his hat between his knees, he laid his pistol in it, keeping both handy and dry.

He'd bathed in this fashion for too long now, and it was second nature anymore. Here, on the other side of the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the Great Basin, he was considerably safer than he had been at other times in his life, but a careful man--a man who counted life as one of his most prized possessions--never let his guard down. He was fairly certain he was quite safe at the moment, and maybe for the rest of his life, but 'fairly certain' had been 'downright wrong' before, so the hat and gun stayed where they were while he both washed and soaked. Finally, when he was clean as a whistle, he stretched as much as he was able, lay back, enjoying the warmth of the water, and closed his eyes. In this way, his mind relaxed and filled with plans...plans of his future, which were many and complicated, even for a currently dusty, busy little mountain mining town.

It was a good place to start again.
 

WaveVelour

Star
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Similar to the man who rushed out of the old barber shop, Grace’s ears had caught the distinct uproar of the shotgun even from the brothel she was currently in. One didn’t need to be a gun expert to guess what type of weapon could create such a loud bang. Suddenly, the simple act of having breakfast had turned into a much more concerning thing for the young newcomer. She didn’t know the town had a functional bank, and certainly had no way of knowing it was currently being robbed by some foul bandits. Regardless of its source, hearing a gunshot had always been an alarming event. Even more so for someone who wasn’t as used to a gun fight or the wildness of the west as some of the other residents of the town might be. Surely, finding somewhere to hide or taking cover would be the best option for the young brunette, who haven’t even held a gun before. Although being quite alarmed by the disturbing sound, Grace’s curiosity prevailed over her fear as the woman found herself stepping towards the entrance of the brothel. After all, to the best of her knowledge, it could have been very well a trigger happy cowboy or a ladette practicing their marksmanship.

Through the windows that looked across the road, Grace didn’t need to step outside to catch a glimpse of a middle aged man exiting the opposite building and start running. He held a weapon, too long to be a pistol, too short to be a rifle. But again, he didn’t have the necessary number of hands to properly operate a long rifle. It was an inspiring sight to be honest. Grace’s curious eyes tracked the man as much as she could. Unlike her, he looked the part of a local. Someone who assumingly knew the town and cared about its people, enough to put himself in harm’s way at least. If the man indeed know his way around the mining town, and still found the noise an alarming incident as he seemed to be doing, Grace could tell this was no ordinary occurrence, but a threatening one. Still, the brunette woman stepped out of the Dusky Belle, not so bravely though. While her eyes kept tracking the whereabouts of the man, she found herself somewhere in the middle of the road. The building the veteran solider pointed his gun at, the bank, she comprehended that it was currently the place where she should stay away from. And simple logic told the woman that, if the one armed brave soldier was so willing to head towards the danger, she must take a route opposite to the one he took. Thus, Grace’s gaze located the old barber shop.

Since her dress could very well made her an easy target, the woman raised the ham of her attire and began to walk straight to the building. If anything, a barber could have had basic surgical knowledge. She didn’t know the shop had been abandoned and that its new habitants were intended to use the place as a newspaper. Striding as fast as a former lady could, Grace entered the old barber shop. Given the circumstances, the woman hoped its owner, or owners, would excuse her unannounced entry and the hurried way she rushed into the dilapidated structure. The woman was no runner and this little sprint of hers had left her panting. “E-excuse me.” Once inside, Grace apologized to the first face she came across in the old shop, still trying to catch her breath. At the first glance, she could count two(?) people within the walls. A young cowboy, and a redheaded woman, who could be easily mistaken for a man, not because of her rather charming visage, but her imposing, tall physique. “Oh…” It wasn’t the tall redhead that confused Grace though, but all the heavy equipment she saw in the place, which didn’t look to be something a barber would use. One device particularly looked more like a torture device. This kind of complex, heavy equipment had always fascinated Grace, instantly filling her expressive eyes in admiration and curiosity.
 

Shiva the Cat

Chekhov's Mom
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Location
The Highest of the States
Jules blushed deeply at the older man's kind words and quickly turned her face away. "There's a little more, if you want. I'm not really very hungry," she admitted. That wasn't exactly the truth; in fact the woman felt like she could have eaten one of the horses still waiting patiently in front of the building. But she and Jess had been eating nothing but salt pork, beans, and corn ever since leaving Colorado, and she could barely stand to look at the mush anymore. Hopefully once her sister came back with money for the horses and wagon they'd be able to visit the general store for something different, but judging by the landscape of the area the redhead was doubtful they could expect to find any real fresh fruit or veggies. There might be white flour if they were lucky though, and sugar. Her mouth began to water at the idea of making a real cake or some cookies again, now that they had a proper stove and oven.

But dreams of confectionery would have to wait for another day. From a building down the street (the bank, she recalled a moment later) a series of loud bangs had rung out. Jules had been in the west long enough to recognize that sound, and it sent her heart leaping into her throat as she staggered backward into the doorway of the barbershop.

Jess, where's Jess? That was her first thought. But Jess had gone away from town, and knowing her luck she'd probably just come back pissed she'd missed all the action. No, the elder Barrow was going to be fine, there was no doubting that, but all the same Jules found herself wishing her sister was there.

There was at least one comforting presence nearby though. The one-armed man who'd helped her with her belongings immediately leapt of his feet and had drawn a firearm, and was darting off in the direction of the bank faster than she could say Christopher Columbus. That reminded Jules she wasn't entirely unarmed, and after crouching as low to the ground as she could manage, she climbed back up into the driver's seat of the wagon, beneath which was the shotgun that had served as the sisters' primary form of protection during their travels. It was loaded, but as the woman looked back towards the bank her hands were visibly shaking. Forcing herself to take a deep breath, she slipped back down from the seat and darted back into the dim gloom of the barbershop.

The tall woman kept her back pressed to the wall near the door, angled in such a way she could still see the bank and fire towards it, if needed (and if she could get her hands to stop shaking). Any moment she expected a gang of anywhere from two to twenty robbers to burst out of the bank and swarm down the street towards her, but what she didn't expect was the sharply dressed woman who had fled out of the brothel across the street directly into the barbershop itself. Jules was so surprised she nearly dropped the gun, but after determining the lady was not indeed there to steal her last thirty dollars, the redhead quickly urged her inside and away from the door.

"Did you see them?" she gasped at the refugee, peering back out the door towards the bank. "How many are there? Is anyone hurt?"

Under normal circumstances Jules might not have been so chatty to a woman who had come running out of a whorehouse, or a woman as well-dressed as her guest was. Both intimidated her for very different reasons, and if she'd had time to really think about it she would have been mystified at the paradox of the idea. At the moment though, all she could think of was the commotion down the street, punctuated with fearful thoughts for her sister, and the helpful man who'd spoken so politely to her only minutes earlier.

"Please be okay," she whispered beneath her breath, willing her hands to steady just in case.
 

WaveVelour

Star
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Given the latest developments in town, and the length of the weapon the tall lady in the barbershop possessed, Grace was lucky that the alarmed woman hadn’t used her shotgun to open a set of holes in her white dress. Even if she didn’t look the part of a dangerous bandit, or have a threatening visage, one needed to be careful when the other had a finger ready to squeeze the trigger of a gun. A faint shriek escaped the brunette’s tender lips as the armed woman hurled her inside the building, out of harm’s way. It took her some time before she could comprehend the addressed questions. Her immediate response was to quickly shake her head from side to side. Apart from hearing the loud gunshot, she hadn’t seen anyone that might be related to the origin of the loud noise. “I fortunately haven’t.” Grace suggested. And she would like to keep it that way, not looking forward to meet the outlaws in the bank. Since a one armed fellow had trained a gun at the source of the peril, Grace could dare to take a short peek outside. Squinting her eyes, she tried to solve what the distinct fonts on top of the building spelled. Without a pair of binoculars, it was like having an eye exam from this distance. She pouted her lips, quietly spelling monosyllabic words. “Bo, bu, ba…” Eventually her mouth widened as she eventually could guess what the sign read. After that, it was pretty easy to put two and two together. “They may be robbing the bank…”

As unpleasant as it sounded, if there were indeed people who targeted the bank, Grace guessed the robbers would want to leave the place as soon as possible after getting what they came for, instead of lingering on the streets or shooting randomly at town residents. That being said, she could think of at least one old man that could cause things to escalate upon the bandits’ exit, if he were to start shooting at them on sight. That could make things more complicated. The outlaws could very well take a hostage to secure their escape, or just to entertain themselves after a tense heist. However, that was someone else’s problem. Of course, these were all coming from a mind foreign to the conflicts of the wild west. Regardless, she had no placed money in the bank, or knew anyone from the town that might be in danger. So, things were understandably less grim for the newcomer brunette.

During the very brief time she spent in town, both pretty and homely, Grace had observed many faces, albeit not knowing the names that accompanied said visages. She fortunately wasn’t in the bank to identify anyone who might be stuck in the building with who knew how many lawless criminals. To throw another short glance at the distant building, her gaze once again pierced through the windows of the shop. She obviously couldn’t see through the walls of the bank, but could see its rather unostentatious façade. While she remained not so anxious about who might be in there, her redheaded host sounded to be concerned about someone. For whose wellbeing the armed lady in the shop prayed for, Grace didn’t know. However, she did know someone who was inside the town’s financial institution. Her last glance had given her the necessary hint.

“In fact, I do know of someone, Miss.” The shorter brunette claimed. Near the water trough, she had caught a glimpse of a rather large dog. The size of the dreadful creature made him easy to identify. The attentive young woman had seen his owner before. With the image in her mind, Grace held an index finger above her head that pointed down. The slender digit traced the wide brim of an invisible bush hat. She then pressed the same finger against the tip of her nose, tilting it up to display more of her nostrils. To add to her little impersonation, she flashed the most spoiled smirk she could summon. “Do you know her?” After she was done imitating a certain blonde, objectively wealthier and subjective prettier than her, the slim brunette asked the other woman.
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Well, shit.

Everything had been going so well. She’d met the sweetest, most adorable puppy. Miss Vickie and Miss Missy were being civil. The morning was cool and pleasant, and the bank was clean and orderly. And then three idiots kicked in the door and started waving guns around.

Staying employed was going to be difficult, if Miss Vickie’s payroll was stolen her first day on the job.

One of the bandits grabbed Miss Missy. A second went to relieve Miss Vickie of her jewelry and her strongbox. The third came straight for her, splitting up their forces. Amateurs. “What you got for me, lil’ lady?” he drawled, all bluff and posturing and bad breath.

Little lady? I’m taller than you are. “Nothing,” she said out loud.

“Now, y’all sure about that lil’ lady?” The man stepped closer, leering. “Ah bet ‘got sonethin’ stashed away.”

Sighing, she looked down. “Well, yeah,” she agreed, reaching for the top button of her shirt. “My mother’s locket. It... might be worth something.”

“Well,” the bandit declared, watching her hand. “Fetch it out.”

She undid the top button, then slid her fingers to the next one. The bandit’s gaze followed her hand, and she twisted. Her left arm caught his right wrist and twisted. Her right drove hard, knuckles burying deep in his throat. As he gurgled and staggered back, Cassie’s right hand withdrew in a blur. Her Colt roared twice, both .45 slugs hammering into the chest of the man inconveniencing Miss Vickie. Then she spun, drawing a bead on the man holding on to Miss Missy.

“Let her go,” she declared, thumbing back the hammer with a click. “Let her go, and you can still walk out of here.”
 

Kilted Pervert

Super-Earth
Jeb heard the additional shots come from inside the bank, "Damnit, not good." Either somebody was fighting back, or the robbers were killing hostages. Without giving himself time to think about it, instinct took over and he dashed forward, staying low, until he reached the three horses loosely tied at the rail outside the bank building. He cracked the nearest horse hard on the nose with the barrel of his revolver, causing the horse to bolt, sending all three running down the street. No matter what else happened, they wouldn't be riding out of Onyx Landing.

Jeb moved left, toward the front corner of the bank, keeping his .44 trained on the front door, trying to see through the dusty picture windows to what was going on. He could see figures moving around, and could hear shouted words, but could not tell locals from miscreants.

In a loud voice, Jeb bluffed, "You in the bank! We got y'all surrounded. Throw down your guns and come out with your hands high!"
 
OP
xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Victoria watched Missy out of the side of her eye, snickering internally. She doesn’t even have the sense to be scared. She’s gonna get herself killed, if not all of us. She, on the other hand, had spent enough time around men who could kill her to develop a healthy sense of self preservation. Besides, everyone let down their guard eventually. It was just a matter of grasping the moment when it happened.

Sparing a moment’s glance as Cassie, she began to suspect that moment was right now. While Cassie drew in her mugger, Vickie handed over her strong box. If this was the right moment, she was going to need both hands free. And he couldn’t wield his shotgun and hold the lockbox at the same time.

From outside, an unfamiliar voice called out, "You in the bank! We got y'all surrounded. Throw down your guns and come out with your hands high!"

There, that was exactly the distraction they needed! Cassie pushed her accoster away and plugged the other one –the one too busy carrying a strongbox to be any use to his buddies– in the chest twice. Cassie turned her attention on the leader, and Vickie turned hers on the grounded man, planting a heeled boot on his back and her gun against his head.

Tension hung thick in the air, like the stench surrounding an outhouse. Clearly they had the upperhand, but the ringleader still had a gun on Missy. He wouldn’t make it out of the bank alive if he pulled the trigger, but Missy would still be just as dead.

“I’m going to kill you last,” Missy snarled, the twitch in her eye convincing Vickie of her intentions. And that was the worst of it. If this man thought he was dead anyways, he was as dangerous as a cornered rattlesnake.

“Hush it,” she snapped at Missy, keeping her gun pressed against the back of one man’s head. “Don’t do anythin’ else stupid here-now. You two can still walk out of here with your lives, if’n ya know what’s best for ya.”
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Running toward gunshots was an awfully stupid way to behave. But Tom was damned if he was going to let a cripple show himself to be more of a man. So, after a moments hesitation, he legged it after Jeb. It wasn’t hard going - the sound of gunfire had cleared the streets. There were still spectators, of course, but they were watching from under cover.

“You in the bank!” Jeb yelled. “We got y'all surrounded. Throw down your guns and come out with your hands high!"

Grinning, Tom made his way towards the opposite corner. Nobody took a shot at him, so that was a good sign. Right? Taking his place, he drew his .44 Remington and aimed at the door as well. “Y’all heard th’ man!” he shouted. “Jes’ give us an excuse!”

Please don’t, he prayed. Please don’t make this a fight.
 

Praxis

𝓛𝓮𝓪𝓻𝓷 𝓽𝓸 𝓼𝔀𝓲𝓶
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 13, 2014
Location
the Neitherworld
“Boy, aren’t you all pieces of work,” Missy was laughing after the sudden calamity that found the would-be attackers out-gunned, out-witted and out-manned. She found that last bit especially hilarious as she wrenched against the man, despite Victoria’s admonition. “Three of you, out-foxed by a few ladies in the desert. Did you plan this at all? While you were out there sleeping on the dirt and eating cold beans?” Her ears were still ringing, and she was probably shouting, but she didn’t care.

“Shut up.” He mumbled at her, distractedly, inching away from the mess inside the bank and keeping his back toward the door. The shout from outside and the point of weapon barrels gave him pause, clenching at the thick, mane of blonde hair while he no doubt worked through his options with what admittedly feeble tools he had.

“Uh oh, Robin.” She was nearly singing to him then, even as he dragged her on stubborn heels toward the oppressive heat and sun. “Seems the Sheriff of Nottingham’s heard the commotion. What to do, what to do?” She was cut off as he shifted the pistol to his free hand and clapped a grubby mitt over her mouth. Causing Missy to cringe and kick. She felt his footsteps hit dirt and he was turning, waving his weapon in the general direction of the one-armed man.

“Lady, I swear to god, I’ll put a bullet in your head just to shut you-“

There was a blur of white, but no sound, and the man was rocked to the ground in a thrash of teeth and an immense weight and speed he hadn’t been prepared for. He was shrieking, hollering and scrambling to gain his footing and control of his arm from the jaws of Taggert. Missy, anticipating this sudden thrust of momentum, rolled and tore herself as hard and as fast as she was able. Losing more than a few hairs in the process and mangling what had remained of the ornate braid-work. Hissing at the pain, she’d feel herself roll free from the bandit’s grasp as he was dragged away. She’d lost her sense of direction in the mix of adrenaline and upturned dust but was able to lunge appropriately back toward her attacker. Reaching for his scalp, yanking, she’d drive her knee forward. Not able to see, she would only feel the thick crunch of something breaking beneath the force.

The man seemed to lose most of his fight, releasing his grip on the revolver and taking to kick, knee or strike at Taggert any way he was able.

“Off!” Missy shouted from her place in the dirt. Taggert released and circled to the blonde’s back, sending a cascade of threatening barks across a now mostly quiet town street. The bandit; gushing blood from face and forearm, rolled to one elbow in an attempt to balance himself. Missy, rising, bounced through two, lofty steps, left the ground entirely and swung her foot -pendulum like- until it connected with the downed man’s ribs. Breaking one and fracturing two in the process. He managed a pitiful wheeze before he collapsed to his back again, reaching lamely at his side for what might’ve been a knife. Not taking the risk, Missy kicked his one good arm aside and brought the heel of her boot down, hard, on the man’s open palm. This, he managed more than a whine for.

He was screaming, hurling whatever curses he could manage from beneath the flow of blood, when Missy took a seat on the man's chest. Taggert, quieter then, kept close. Rumbling his disapproval but not making a move even as the blonde leaned in close.

"Hi. Where did you ride from?" She asked casually, hoping she wasn't still shouting too loud.

"Fuck you..." The bandit gurgled.

She pressed the weight of one knee into him, against the place where broken bone theatened to puncture organ. He thrashed weakly, but was unable to move more than fractions of inches at a time without the grey and white beast there to threaten.

"Please answer me. I do hate repeating myself."

"...Fort Mann. East." It was difficult to make out the intricacies of what he'd said but it was good enough. More than she'd expected from him, given that regardless of what came next, he was crippled. A broken right hand and a severely lacerated left arm were no good to anyone. Especially the user.

"Thank you." She replied, sweetly, and rose to her feet. Unfastening the brooch; a rather gorgeous thing in the shape of a Carnation, bejeweled in pink and white stones, she tossed it to him. "You can keep that. I've got lots."

She'd turn to Victoria, Cassie, the retired officer who'd been a tad slow on the draw and even the One-Armed Man, smiling as though nothing really had happened. She'd certainly taken a dirt bath in the scuffle. Vest and silk blouse smeared with a mixture of filth and blood and once tan riding pants torn along one thigh. She went to wipe her hands clean, only to further smear some of the man's blood across herself. Grimacing, she'd turn a sheepish expression toward Victoria.

"You've got bandit problems." Blinking, Missy turned to look about the scene. A tiny smirk precipitated what came next. "Seems I've come at a good time. As I was saying, Miss Freeman," with that, any trace of the fuming, rage-spewing little thing vanished and was replaced, seamlessly, by the polite socialite who'd so recently introduced herself. "I'd love to have a chat, when you've the time. For now," she glanced at herself, "I think a bath is in order, wouldn't you say Taggert?"

Kissing the air twice, she'd turn to leave the way they came after retrieving her hat from where it'd been torn off. Followed closely by a panting, blood-stained hound.
 
Last edited:

Kilted Pervert

Super-Earth
Jeb watched the rich girl compose herself and walk away, confident she'd gotten the last word. Her declaration to the madame just reinforced his hatred of her, she was here to take over, suck them all dry like the perfumed leech she was. Again resisting the urge to shoot her in the back, he instead walked to the edge of the open bank door and called out, "Hello in the bank. Everybody alright?" Making full sure he announced himself before slowly rounding the doorframe. Looking at the scene in front of him caused Jeb to smile at the old lawman looking stunned in his chair.

"Well hell, looks like I went and spilled my breakfast for nothing. The ladies of Onyx Landing have things well in hand."

Holstering his long barreled S&W, Jeb grabbed the wounded bandito by the collar and drug him outside next to his compatriot. Turning to Tom, "Reverend, you mind keeping a pistol on these two miscreants? If they give you any trouble, water the grass with them." He then went back inside, similarly dragging out the man who's life exited .45 caliber holes courtesy of Miss Cassie. "That's fine shootin' Miss, and fine work keeping your heads Ladies." Once the bandits were deposited in the street, Jeb went back inside one more time and spoke to the guard, "You know, we've all had somebody get the jump on us once or twice, but maybe, just maybe, if these folks are payin you a day's wage to guard the bank, you oughta get off your fat ass and do your job. If you'd have been keepin watch, you'd have seen them ride up, instead of watching petticoats in the teller line."
 

WaveVelour

Star
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Definitely not confident in her fighting skills, and certainly not the bravest soul in town, Grace no longer had the courage to peer through the window to keep track of things. Unlike some other people, she was neither undaunted, nor fearless. She had heard enough gunshots for the day. Some yelps and grunts still leaked through the walls of the old building she hid inside, but weren’t clear enough to tell her a story about what really happened in the bank. Her eyes failed to spot the exit of the young cowboy she had briefly seen upon entering the shop. If she didn’t notice him leaving, that could very well mean she might miss someone making an entrance. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to stay in here for long. At the same time, since she didn’t exactly know what was going on outside, stepping outside could be equally dangerous. At least, the newspaper business now had something to write about. It was really unfortunate that she had found herself in such an uncertain and potentially hazardous situation the first day she arrived in town. If this was a routine day in this place, what people went through on a regular basis, her short stay in the mining town was going to be a challenging one.

By some unlucky accident, if she had dropped dead in this old building, her murdered husband would have found the irony of her wife’s passing in a hair salon quite amusing. “I believe… I’m going out.” The woman declared. While stranded in the middle of this small turmoil, Grace sadly hadn’t found the opportunity to properly introduce herself to her host. Although she was a mannerly young woman, she was quick to snap out of her mannerism if the situation demanded of it. Playing the good girl was rather a mask to hide behind. Her exit lacked the same rapidness and rush her entry had. Eventually however, Grace managed to nerve herself and came out of the barbershop. Thankfully, during the time she cowered behind a wall, the unsuccessful bank robbery had resolved in a happy conclusion. It was mostly the aftermath of the conflict what she found herself staring at, some veteran cowboy rushing in the bank for the aid of its customers, an injured bandit failing to take to his heels, and a roughened up missy and her dreadful doggy idling quite casually. Given such casualness, the scenery didn’t look that bad, at least didn’t scream of noxiousness and lethal destruction. Perhaps, the young brunette had exaggerated the events in her mind.

The long travel that led the woman into the mining town had already tired her. Add an ineffectual bank robbery to that, and she wouldn’t have minded taking a small rest, or a long one for that matter. Her head turned to the side to watch the troubled area just outside the bank, while her steps once again led her to her first destination, the brothel across the street. She wasn’t planning to stay in town longer than five days. There were some quite unhappy men after her. Her plan was to make them chase after a ghost before she headed to east. Upon entering the Dusky Bell, still knowing the establishment as an inn, Grace drew near the bar. Gladly, the bartender decided to do the smart thing and stayed indoors throughout the robbery attempt. She greeted the man with a simple nod. When the outlaws first attacked, the woman had left the brothel in such a rush, she had forgotten to pay for the breakfast. Before she set off on her escape journey, Grace had done a small robbery of her own, that targeted her husband’s safe to be exact. For now, the petite brunette had enough currency to finance her journey.

“My apologies. Latest developments must have swept me off of my feet.” She took some cash out of her purse and lay it in front of the bartender. “For the morning.” The greenbacks on the counter seemed to be more than what a simple breakfast must have cost though. “I need a room too, you see.” After what happened, it was inevitable to talk about the doomed bank job. In addition to that, the small chatter between the newcomer and the bartender quickly revealed the main purpose of the beds in the brothel, finally allowing Grace to understand that it was indeed a house of prostration. “Oh… I’m terribly sorry.” A pair of expressive eyes gazed upon the bartender, after all, it mustn’t have been common for a woman to pay for another’s company. In spite of the meaningful smile across the bartender’s lips, the subject matter wasn’t seen as a big taboo by this particular brunette. After getting the directions for where she could find a bed to sleep in, rather than using it to sleep with someone else, Grace was ready to head to the actual inn in town. However, she didn’t leave yet, instead turning to face the barkeeper again.

“In fact, before I go, I could perhaps get accounted with one of this establishment’s attendants.” Grace claimed, leaving the money on the counter. Her decision hadn’t changed. She still wasn’t interested in spreading her legs or parting another’s. However, she understood very well that she had to be careful in the mining town. That, it was a good idea to learn about its secrets and more about its residents. And a prostitute who slept with many sounded to be a good source of information to tell the story of Onyx Landing.
 

Shiva the Cat

Chekhov's Mom
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Location
The Highest of the States
Jules nodded slowly at the woman's ascertainment that some men were indeed robbing the building down the street, not feeling it necessary to question that there were very few alternate events that involved gunfire within a bank. Curiously enough her guest did not seem particularly alarmed at the developments taking place down the street, and instead was fixated on a large dog that seemed as equally unmoved at the commotion. Still, the beast did manage to draw a more sympathetic reaction from the woman with the shotgun than might have been expected, all things considered.

"Oh the poor thing!" she gasped, lowering the gun and taking a cautious step out the door of the barbershop, gesturing for the woman to stay inside. Crouching low, she began to whistle and click in an attempt to lure the dog into the safety of the building across the street, but it would seem the fellow was quite content to help himself to the water trough. Either that, or he was waiting patiently for his mistress, whom the strange brunette was quietly miming in less-than-flattering fashion. Straightening up, Jules raised one of her dark auburn brows in confusion.

"The eastern lady? I didn't speak to her, but my sister did. Was she injured? Or...you can't mean you think she's a robber?" For the first time since the shots had broken out, the tall woman actually smiled. "She certainly seemed peculiar, but with the way she was dressed she couldn't need money."

Whether this statement had assured the dark-haired woman or she had suddenly found some new reserve of courage within her, Julia's guest departed as quickly as she came right back into the Dusky Belle, leaving the redhead staring as perplexedly behind her. What in the world kind of town did you drag us to, Jess? she wondered, wishing her sister would come back. No doubt she would be in an awful mood once she'd heard what she'd missed, but from the looks of things down the street matters were quieting down somewhat. She did notice the dog had disappeared, but there was still no blood in the dusty street and she could only hope he'd finally had the sense to flee to safety.

Even more reassuring was the sight a few minutes later of several familiar faces emerging from the bank, a few dusty, but all apparently unharmed. Swallowing hard but keeping a close hand on her shotgun just in case, Jules stepped out into the street and approached the first person who did not look likely to shoot her in the face.

"Um...excuse me. Is everything all right? Do...do you need someone to fetch the sheriff?" Not that she'd actually noticed a sheriff's office in town, but there had to be some representative of law enforcement, didn't there? The town couldn't literally be lawless, could it?

*****
Henderson. Reyes. Diaz. The Johnson brothers, three of them. Chu and Chu -- relationship unknown (Ask at the brothel?). Lafferty Senior. Nine confirmed dead, three confirmed missing. Names...

It would have been so much easier for Jess to nail down the specifics if she just could have had her pad and pencil out. However, seeing as she was pretending to be Miss Angelica Prewitt of Kansas City, seeking her poor missing brother Dale, it would hardly seem appropriate to write down the details regarding several men who were absolute strangers to her. Instead the reporter had to rely on her memory, engraving the names on her brain and trusting she would be able to learn who they were after the fact.

"As I said Miss, we've no record of a Dale Prewitt working here..." Mr. Jacobs repeated, growing a bit annoyed but unwilling to throw a sobbing woman out of the little shack that served as his office.

"Oh, but he might have been using a fake name! He had creditors, you see, and a wife who was so horrid to him...I already saw the-the-the bodies outside." Jess forced a shudder and practically willed the color out of her face. "Those poor, poor souls, but I can at least take comfort in knowing that none of them is my dear big brother. But I heard the others saying there were still three missing. Couldn't Dale be one of them, using an alias? Couldn't you tell me their names, and describe them to me?"

The foreman sighed, then began to rifle through some papers on the desk. "Still missing: Donald O'Leary, age forty-three. Miguel Obrador, age thirty-five. And Yin Li, age nineteen. And considering every single one of those men is a good shade darker than you, Miss, I sincerely doubt any of them could be your missing brother."

Missing: O'Leary, Obrador, Li. It took all of Jess' fortitude not to throw her arms around the foreman's neck in joy. If nothing else, she would have a column's worth of news for the town, with the promise of future subscriptions if she could find out exactly what had caused the collapse. However, judging by the look on Mr. Jacobs' face, it did not seem likely he would be providing any further information at the moment. Fine, it didn't look like he ever stepped foot in that dark, nasty-looking hole anyways. She could get her answer elsewhere.

"Thank you, Mr. Jacobs. You truly have calmed my nerves. I must have gotten the town wrong, or something. But to know Dale isn't one of the victims of this most unfortunate...accident?" She couldn't help but hide the inflection in her voice.

"Of course it was an accident. Now if you'll excuse me, Miss Prewitt, I'm a very busy man with a mine to reopen," the foreman snapped, sensing he had just been tricked into something, although he wasn't sure quite what. Still, he did lend an arm as he led her to the door of the office, and watched her just long enough to see her starting down the road back to town.

But not long enough to see her circle around the edge of the camp and head right back into the throng of men, pen and paper back in hand and eyes sparkling like some bird of prey trying to spot out a rabbit a hundred feet away. While there were no rabbits in sight, Jess' predatory gaze did fall upon one of the youngest miners she had seen so far, a sad-faced boy of about sixteen who was shakily trying to roll a cigarette near the corral where the mine's horses and mules were kept.

"Here honey, take one of mine," Jess remarked, replacing her notebook with a dented metal case from her pocket and offering him a pre-rolled cigarette of her own. At first the boy eyed her suspiciously, but took one of the offered smokes all the same, striking a match on the bottom of his tattered boot. When he saw the short woman sliding a smoke between her own lips, it seemed only gentlemanly to light hers as well, though he still didn't like the way she was looking at him.

"It's a bad business, isn't it?" she continued, undaunted by his sullen silence. "I came up from town looking to sell some horses to the foreman, and I saw the bodies. Did you know them well?"

After a moment of hesitation, the boy nodded. "Jack was my bunkmate. I worked opposite shifts of him."

Jack...Henderson. Probably the youngest looking of the bodies, missing the left arm and the right leg. Not a good way to die. These facts confirmed in her mind, Jess let out a gasp and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Oh you poor thing, I'm so sorry...it could just as well have been you down there, couldn't it?"

"I dunno. I guess."

"Are there often cave-ins down there? Seems awfully dangerous to send boys your age into such a dangerous area."

At this the boy seemed to take a little offense, and puffed his chest out a bit. "I'm eighteen, lady. I'm not a kid. And it's a new shaft, the old ones aren't scary at all."

"Maybe," the woman conceded, fingering her notebook in her pocket and wondering if she dared take it out in front of him. "I know I'd be scared of spending too much time in those tunnels. I bet some of them go all the way to China."

This seemed to get the boy to laugh. "It wouldn't surprise me. Jack was telling me there's this one hole, he accidentally dropped a lantern down it once. Boss almost fired him on the spot, he could have blown us all to kingdom come. But the lantern went down the hole, and it just kept going and going...he never did hear it hit bottom. Don't for the life of me know where it is though. And Jack...guess he won't be tellin' neither." His face fell again.

"I'm so sorry, honey. If you want to talk about it, maybe we could have a drink sometime?" Jess offered gently, laying a hand on his arm. "My name's Jess, what's yours?"

"Pete," the boy introduced with a blush, clearly not expecting such an invitation from a woman her age. For a moment, he wondered if she might be a new girl from the Dusky Belle, but he'd spent more than his share of pay there, and he didn't think she looked the type. He was about to ask where she'd come from when he saw her visibly freeze, looking at something on the edge of the camp.

It was a man on horseback, just as much of a stranger as Jess herself. But the reporter rarely forgot a face, and she knew she had seen that one near that snooty Huntington girl earlier that morning. What in the world could he be doing up here? Well, there was only one way to find out.

"Would you excuse me a moment, Pete?" Jess smiled, patting him on the shoulder before approaching the big man on the horse. "Well say there friend, who are you supposed to be, the undertaker or the marshal? Seems like they might need both up here." There was a half-assed attempt at injecting a joking tone into her voice, but her face was noticeably cool, even a little suspicious. The man didn't look like much of a reporter, and if she had to guess the blonde back down in the town wasn't exactly a literary type, let alone a journalistic one. Still, Onyx Landing was supposed to be her claim, and she'd be damned if the Barrow sisters got driven out of yet another town by some slick competition.
 

Praxis

𝓛𝓮𝓪𝓻𝓷 𝓽𝓸 𝓼𝔀𝓲𝓶
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 13, 2014
Location
the Neitherworld
The more of this place he saw, the less he liked. What wasn't covered in actual filth, wore the stink of something else. Something he'd maybe sensed or waded knee-deep through at a time in his life when the weight of a rifle on his back meant more than any possible coin in the future. The men, exhausted and fearful, had taken to Miller the way he'd anticipated. Their foreman had likewise proven to be as simpering and innefectual as he'd expected. Clint knew Max Cheney. Uncle Max, as Missy would scathingly refer to him. The man was a step above waste and usually half in the bag. The only strange thing, so far as Clint could figure from any of it, was that he hadn't been a regular at the town's brothel.

This man, who'd introduced himself as Calvin Jacobs, was of the same breed. All bluster and pandering; the right answer always in back pocket. At the ready to defend the company over the man. So much clearly demonstrated by his own ramshackle quarters. While it hadn't been put together with the roughest, pest ridden lumber and worn, surplus canvas the miners could find, it at least imitated standard living quarters. Miles beyond the less than ideal tents and fire pits he'd observed on his trot in.

"I believe I had..." Jacobs was babbling, shuffling through a stack of papers. "Ah, here. The initial reports." He handed them off to Clint as though they were his ticket to absolution, folding hands and sealing already thin lips into a severe grimace. He'd been sweating nearly the moment Clint had shown himself in to his quarters. Buffeting through indignance at first. Perhaps still a bit miffed from possibly being had by the inquisitive Miss Prewitt, but eventually settling into quiet acceptance after reading a finely printed card from the big man.

A golden seal, the shapes of tracks and picks overlayed, was usually enough to shut his kind up. Though, after a moment of silence while Clint poured through testimony, he cleared his throat and spoke.

"H-how..." stuttering again, coughing as though it helped, "I suppose I'm confused as to how this is a, uh, well a Huntington Man's concern. Respectfully." His jowells quivered when he talked. Clint rather hated it. Letting silence suffice for an answer a moment longer, the big man would toss the stack of papers to the man's desk.

"Mr. Huntington has three engines through here a week, Jacobs. That's men on our end, distribution, fuel, three times a week. Bringing supplies for those men. For that mine. That big hole in the ground with all those men standin' around it." Jacobs sank a bit, beginning to see the point but still hoping to play a card in his favor. Before he could interject, Clint continued. "Now, if you have a reason why nothing has been done to get those bodies down the hill and properly handled, or why that investment out there is going to pot..."

"I, please, Mr. Cheney wi-"

"Mr. Cheney delegated control of this mine to you, Jacobs. And so far, your handling of the matter has been less than ideal. If you have anything useful to contribute, going forward, I'd suggest you get your ass down the hill, find Miss Huntington, and hope she's in a good mood."

Jacobs frowned, chubby fist clenching as pieces began to click. "That woman then? Asking all the questions. She's with you?"

Clint probably hesitated longer than he should have. Shifting in his seat, he'd recall the only woman he could've been referencing; the brunette with a million questions in her eyes and a fierceness kept barely in check. He'd offered her nothing save for the briefest of glances as he'd trotted by. Noting to no one but himself the confidence in her stride and how charmingly strange he found it. Ambitious or not, her presence had been odd in the first place, leaving him to go back through the events of the morning as he'd witnessed them.

The attitude. The printing press that'd been offloaded in town. The tall woman who'd shrank in the sunlight as he and a small dispersement of dark dressed men had poured down the street. Similar bone structure. There alone? No. And neither was the brunette. Family affair? Maybe. It was foolishness or extreme stubbornness that would drive a woman, alone, to the outskirts of a town on the nearer side of Hell. Eyes like that didn't speak foolishness.

Stubborn then. Dedicated.

The press.

With a grunt, Clint realized he could have easily dismantled the woman's designs -whatever they may have been- with a simple word: No.

"We have a team. Ready to clean up this mess." He replied with a brusque finality. "And I'd get moving. Miss Huntington is a busy woman."

If it was possible for the man to sink even further, he did. Defeated, Jacobs went to stand and move around the desk even as another question formed. He hesitated to ask, the man looked like he'd just as soon open the door with his head as he would fire him on the spot. The lever action across his lap -while overtly non threatening- had communicated a point loudly enough. None of this mess had made sense to Jacobs. There'd been shouting one morning, men running to the mine, panic. Limbs torn from their posts and body cavities ruptured. The fact that some of them men had still be locked in their death throes; hands locked on throats and the like, had stuck at the foreman most. Something he'd been consulting a bottle about in the days since.

"M-Miss ...Huntington?" He asked when the question could no longer be ignored.

"That's right." Clint grumbled, not turning, giving the documents another once over. "By the grace of God she beat her father here. You're lucky." He ran his thumb across a dried bit of blood near the bottom of a page. "She's much more receptive to apologies."

~​

"That'd make you Miss Prewitt?" He'd found her, unsurprisingly, not far from the foreman's quarters. As he saw it then, she'd probably spotted the weapon coupled with his quick dismissal and narrow focus and assumed there'd be a shouting match to be heard. And reported on. She'd managed to collect a trio of the miners, each eyeing her warily but seeming glad to have an open ear. Since the incident, they'd only been met with tight lips and vague promises of a plan. Scattering the hangers on had been as easy as putting a time limit on that dollar they hoped to earn.

If she was smart, which she was, she'd have intercepted the men Miller had approached. Capitalizing on their wetted appetite for easy money with a few, seemingly, innocuous questions. Once the last of the miners had begun their long, dusty walk back toward town, the big man turned and emitted an ear piercing whistle that caught Miller's attention. Though faded, he saw the discoloration along her fingertips and worked into her nailbeds.

"This is a warning," he was saying among the thunder of approaching hooves. "I understand you've got a job to do. Provided this all turns out the way we hope it will, be glad to have a representative speak to ya." Mounting on his own Finn, the big man would turn slightly, unsure if he'd heard the faintest pop from over a shallow ridge. Miller sidled along as well, eyes glancing between Jess and Clint.

"For now, no questions. No talking to the men until we've cleared it." Turning the massive, dark beast toward her, he'd tip lenses down and offer her a very sincere, dark-eyed stare. Nothing born of malice, or even incidental threat. Only placid, reptilian calmness.

"We clear?"

Another pop. And this one, he was certain he'd heard. Only one thing carried across open plain and lazy hillside that way.
 
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OP
xanaphia

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
And now, just as suddenly as it began, it was already over. The threat presented by the ringleader vanished in a flurry of white-furred fury. Missy, it seemed, had her own questions, and some painfully persuasive means of getting answers to those questions.

Before much longer, a couple men from town –newcomers, though she thought she recognized one from last night– collected the cowed bandits. In turn, Victoria collected her strong box from the dead man, and wiped off the fresh blood with her handkerchief. And while the one arm man might have complimented her, she couldn’t help but wince when he turned his ire on the guard. He wasn’t wrong, but seeing as she escaped the holdup with her money and her life, Victoria found herself willing to extend some leeway in the guard’s direction.

“At least no one got hurt. Well, no one that mattered none, anyways,” she acknowledged, with a nod towards the dead man. With a hand on the one arm man’s back, she extended an invitation, “Why don’t you two come by the Belle tonight, and I can show my ‘preciation over a couple drinks, on the house.”

And on that note, she joined back up with Missy, “I will take you up you offer from earlier, and can even make a little time for ya. So long as you don’t mind a conversation while I rinse the dishes. But I only have until evening, because once the sun goes down, my night starts. Now, if you will excuse me, I still need to take care of my business here.”
 

WaveVelour

Star
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
As any proper establishment would, the brothel seemed to have a nice and varied range of women to hire, to buy their time. It wasn’t a charming visage or a delightful body what Grace was after though, but a generous knowledge of town. In the absence of the flamboyant brothel keeper, she got the aid of the bartender to help her arrange a room. Before long, the newcomer found herself on another woman’s tail, walking upstairs with a coy bottom to follow before her. Although she carried no such intentions, it was still an odd feeling to follow the lead of a sex worker, especially for a woman who hadn’t been in such a place before. As she stepped into a simple room that was furnished for one purpose, the young brunette was more curious than nervous. Just hoping the prostitute of her choice was more talkative than herself. If she had been a little more patient and communicative, perhaps she could have been talking with a certain Chinese gambler instead. But, pretty much anyone who had spent some time in town should have something to talk about the community it housed. “Just give me a moment, darling. Will be right back.” The hired attendant suggested. Grace didn’t say anything in response, her curious eyes watching the woman disappear into the corridor.

To wait as she was instructed, she turned around and took a few steps in the relatively small room. It was quiet in here, her ears failing to catch any intimate sounds coming from adjacent rooms. To her surprise, she wasn’t alone in the small room. A similar aged young woman had been sitting at a what looked to be a modest vanity table, currently brushing her long hair strands in a somewhat hypnotical fashion. Her back was turned to Grace, but the brunette could see the woman in the mirror, unphased by her presence. She was quite a dashing woman, holding an enviable comeliness for sure. In fact, the most beautiful one Grace had ever seen. If she could draw, and had been asked to paint the prettiest lady she could imagine, she guessed the image would have looked similar to the other woman in the room. Slowly closing the door, Grace stood behind her. “Alright, ask.” The grooming lady suggested, seeming to know that her client was not here for sex. Similar to the young brunette, she could see her supposed patron in the mirror, and the hints of confusion on her pale face. Grace wanted to ask questions, she had many of them. But oddly, as if her lips were sealed, she was unable to interrupt the other woman’s speech. “As you would appreciate, I can distinguish lust in one’s eyes from other intentions.” The woman explained, briefly looking back over her shoulder to glance at her customer. After a moment of awkward silence, she continued. “I trust you have noticed the mountain that casts its shadow upon this place.” Many bristles of the brush once again slid through her raven hair, moving smoothly through the already untangled dark strands. “And at the very bottom, a mine, striking its frangible roots into recondite stone.” Of course knowing the town as a mining town, it wasn’t difficult for Grace to guess where the mines would be located. So, it couldn’t have really considered new information for the newcomer. She was hoping to learn more useful stuff, not a dirty mine. So far, she hadn’t learned anything that she didn’t already know. “…Disturbing the depths, like the gunshots you have heard today.” The raven haired woman continued before Grace could interrogate her for something else. The brush stopped moving in the woman’s hand, corner of her eye checking the closed door now.

Now wearing something more tempting and attractive, the earlier prostitute opened the door from outside. A forced smile across her lips, her gaze fell upon Grace. “Alright, I’m ready. Did I make you wait too long?” She asked the only other young woman, who sat at the dressing table. “Want to get to bed if you’re done combing your hair?” The attendant continued. Grace quietly put the hairbrush back onto the table, her eyes wide, staring into the mirror. A few of her own hair strands were tanged in the brush. The chair legs scraped against the floor as the dark haired woman pushed herself back. She sprang to her feet. A mixture of wince and confusion dominated her face.

“Thank you for your services.” Grace tried to give props to the woman. With that, she darted out of the room, running as quick as her dress would allow. Hurriedly, she rushed down the stairs to leave the place as quickly as possible. While in such a hurry, on her way, she ungallantly shouldered and bumped into a few people, finally getting out of the building to get some fresh air.
 

Shiva the Cat

Chekhov's Mom
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Location
The Highest of the States
"Well ain't he a sweetheart?" Jess commented to Pete as the grim-looking man in the mirrored glasses trotted on to the foreman's shack. "Him and Jacobs should have a real nice teatime, huh?" Although her tone was lighthearted, her dark eyes narrowed slightly as she watched the hulking figure retreat. No reporter worth their salt would go to the boss first, before even looking over the scene. Huntington...Huntington... she was wracking her brain trying to find any previous knowledge of the name. The girl back in town was rich, there was no doubt of that. But how? Ranching? Railroads? Mining?

Well, that would certainly explain why her stooge was poking around on things. Maybe she'd written Missy Huntington off a little too quickly. All of a sudden, it seemed a bit more prudent to begin heading back to town. She was about to bid a fond farewell to the young man beside her, when she suddenly recalled the business that had sent her up to the mine in the first place.

"So say, Pete," she resumed, turning back to face him. "I'm still looking to sell those horses, and a wagon if you all could use it. I've got four Belgians down in town, real sweethearts. Who do I need to talk to about that?"

The young man rubbed his chin. "Probably the assistant foreman, Carlos, but I ain't seen him today. He's usually down at the Dusky Belle most nights though."

Of course he is. Well, it wasn't a completely fruitless trip after all, but the walk back was certainly going to be annoying, especially considering she'd be coming home empty handed. Hopefully Jules hadn't paid off the men who'd helped unload the wagon yet, otherwise it would probably be succotash again for supper, and Jess would rather eat one of the horses at this point. "You don't fancy buying a horse yourself, do you?" the woman asked hopefully. "I'll cut you a deal and let one go for forty dollars, though any one of them would be worth at least twice that much." Probably an overestimation of the beasts' value, but forty dollars would be better than nothing.

Not that it mattered; Pete could only laugh at taking on the cost of a horse at this point. So did several other men she asked as they were departing. Frustration was about to overtake her when suddenly she heard someone calling out a Miss Prewitt.

"Yes?" she asked, sweetly, turning around to face the speaker. To her disappointment, it was not a potential customer, but Huntington's hulking...whatever he was. And while several of the nearby men instantly distanced themselves from the woman, Jess herself stood her ground, even smiled back.

"Seems like you could do with a few more questions yourself, handsome. Might I suggest: 'What's your name, Miss?' and 'What's your business?' rather than just assuming you know one gosh-darn thing about me or my job. After all, we all know what happens if you assume." She took a few steps towards his horse, glancing cautiously at his rifle. "For example, I'm assuming that even though you look like one tough customer, you're not the type of fella to shoot an innocent woman just for asking a few innocent questions. Now, is that assumption going to put a bullet in my pretty little head?"

Jess quickly covered her mouth, as though she'd said something obscene. "Oops, now that was a question, wasn't it?" Another pause. "Well tarnation, there's another one. Seems like I'm gonna have to disappoint you, Mister. Questions are something of a habit of mine. But I'll make a bargain with you: I won't ask any more questions of these fellas up here, if you don't mind my asking a few of you instead. Besides, I could use a big strong man to escort me back to town. What do you say?"
 

Praxis

𝓛𝓮𝓪𝓻𝓷 𝓽𝓸 𝓼𝔀𝓲𝓶
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 13, 2014
Location
the Neitherworld
Fuck.

She was going to be a problem. If he were perhaps twenty years younger and about ninety years less jaded, he might’ve smiled at the way she called his bluff and flung it back toward him. Instead, he sounded another stiff grunt, bridled at the Finn and turned slightly to Miller whose face was locked in a comical grimace of uncertainty for the woman. Clint’s mind went to the inevitable meeting between his young ward and the adamant little thing before him and the potential for disaster that could bring. While she excelled in more fields than many her age, diplomacy hadn’t ever been one of Missy’s strong suits.

Or concerns.

Usual silence that followed the second pop did little to assuage his need to return to town. While it could’ve been anything; the unemployed loosing a few rounds in their unexpected furlough, the settling of a matter that nowhere near concerned the Huntington party, it was a sour note on an already foul tune. One that Clint would be glad to forget when the mine, the town and all its denizens proved to be nothing more than his earlier summation: a hole in the ground. A time and money sink that, eventually, Missy would bore of. Still, with the assumed Miss Prewitt eyeing him and indecision only a fool’s preference, he gave a single nod.

“I don’t know about you, Miller, but I don’t think we can leave a lady stranded.”

“Uh,” Miller articulated, only glancing briefly at the long walk back. “no, no. Of course not, sir.” He dismounted without much thought, brushing off the saddle and stepping aside. “He’s an even-tempered beast, Miss. Shouldn’t give you any trouble.”

~​

He’d taken them -more or less- the way he’d come in, preferring a low cut, down the shallowest slope of the mountain that offered a better panorama of the valley below and the smattering of dusty shacks. Too far still to make anything out clearly, he kept a quick pace, squinting through lenses and sunlight toward what might’ve been figures, milling about the town center. Near the station, their personal conveyance had finally been moved to a set of auxiliary tracks and work on their camp appeared to be moving along swiftly enough. He and his men had repeated this operation a dozen or so times in the two years the young Miss Huntington had decided that globetrotting (or at least continent trotting) was a better use of her time than wasting away on a plantation in Savannah.

Move in. Set up. Find the nearest throat and grip it.

Most people talked before it came to that third step, preferring the tangential splendor that came with a Huntington arrival or having been made aware of what impeding their process meant. Either amounted to the same outcome, typically speaking. And neither had been much of an issue before. Granted, a few other snatched up properties and plots from East to West coast weren't quite the same level of get as an entire town and nearly operating mine.

"You're with the big woman." He'd said, not really offering much room for objection. "Saw her on the way in. Printing press too. And unless you've been trying your hands at hobbies, seeing which sticks, all that mess under your nails means you've been at it a while. You might have a brother or a father I didn't see down there, but I doubt it." Slowing their pace once satisfied that whatever had occured below was sorted, he continued. "You've been riding a while, back wheels were nearly worn down to the post. 'Nother week, you might've been stranded in the desert."

They weren't so much questions as they were estimations that he'd arrived at. A game he played with himself and a usually indignant and wholly uninterested Missy. Maybe one that she'd take more readily to. They were nearly into town then, rounding the outer shacks toward what passed as the main thoroughfare to what would eventually find them at the bank.

"So, Miss Prewitt, if that is your name." He flashed her a look that heavily suggested he doubted this as well. "What's your business?" He rolled through the question, inferring any answer she gave would be subject to proportional scrutiny, be it a half-truth or some other cocktail like it. She was far from the slithering, headline slingers he and Missy's father had contended with on the latter's climb to power. Their fascination with that they deemed the truth had usually only extended about as far as their arms before both broke. He wondered if she would incur a break if it meant squeezing a drop of juice from him or any of his men.

Her clothing showed an influence from the East. Chicago, maybe. Further, even, though her cadence was difficult for him to peg down. She spoke the way Missy might've had she not come from the south and hadn't been hammered into a shape entirely not of their world. Quickly, as though they certainly believed everything that poured forth from their lips. And why shouldn't you?

He'd known women from Chicago. They were ...difficult. Much the same could have been said about particular women from Georgia as well.

Her eyes told him yes, to the break. The ease with which she'd mounted the Finn said he'd have a hard time catching her first.

If he was twenty years younger...

She'd had his attention until they rounded a structure and were presented with the leavings of the the botched robbery. Blood, and lots, had congealed into a thick, black substance that Clint wasn't sure was still called mud. He preferred not to think too greatly on it, instead pulling ahead of Jess, clipping off whatever she may have been saying. Circling wide, he'd eye the chaotic happening of bootprints and the story they told. Mingled about with wide sprays in the sand and blood from very large paws, he didn't need much more.

"You should have a weapon." He stated as a point of fact.

~
He cannot see. He can only feel. His hand is pressed firmly to the rough, rocky wall of the outer mine shaft. He smells fresher air. He cannot remember how he stumbled this far down the hole. Thirst, he thinks. It motivates him toward the pump outside the mine entrance to drink before he walks to town.

Why had he followed what he heard? Voices, calling him. No. Calling his name. Higgins he thinks. The hell was he doing up here? He'd shirked his duty to unload that unruly beast from it's crate and bring it to Miss...

...

He isn't sure of her name. He remembers her hair. He has known more patient hornets.

Higgins isn't in the mine. His voice was never there. How had he gotten so far down? He'd kept his goddamn hand on the wall the entire time. It is sunset when he emerges, shaking and bewildered; voices still echoing behind his skull. He vomits. Drinks from the pump. Vomits again. His eyes burn and the surface of his mind sears.

Miller wants to scream, but cannot. He feels the weight of the revolver at his side. He remembers how to use it. Slowly, laboriously, he begins to walk down the hill. Toward the small lights as they flicker against a growing darkness.

Toward voices he is more certain he hears.
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Carefully lowering the hammer, Tom slowly bolstered his pistol. “Shucks, ma’am, t’weren’t nothing.” In truth, he wasn’t even completely sure what had happened. He’d been in a few fights in his time - mostly drunken punch-ups in a saloon - but this had been fast. “But Ah’ll be thar, an’ thank you ma’am.”

A thought struck him, and he checked his pockets. There was a newspaper setting up, right? Maybe they’d pay for a story? It was worth a try, and ‘Tom Cavendish, newspaper reporter’ sounded a bit better than ‘Tom Cavendish, broke prospector’. He grinned as he found an old notebook he used for writing letters, and a stub of pencil.

Checking the stub was sharp enough to write, he approached the Madame and the little blonde woman who’d beat three shades of shit out of one of the robbers. “Pardon me, ma’am. Ma’am.” He nodded to each in turn. “Ah was wonderin’ if’n Ah could ask y’all a few questions ‘bout what jes happened here...”

-*-

Cassie followed Miss Vickie, whistling low and appreciatively at the beating Miss Missy had dealt out. She wouldn’t have thought the spoiled little rich girl had it in her - she’d pegged her as all talk, no action. She’d been wrong, it seemed. Quite impressively wrong. Probably a wildcat in bed, too...

Fuck. She needed to get laid good and hard. Everything was turning her on, right now. Like the scruffy cowpoke asking Miss Vickie a bunch of questions. Bet he’d clean up nice. Him and the one-armed gent both. Both at once, and fuck but she needed to concentrate.

“Want me to run him off, boss?” she asked Miss Vickie, nodding towards the cowpoke. “You said you had business to attend to.”
 

Kilted Pervert

Super-Earth
>>With a hand on the one arm man’s back, she extended an invitation, “Why don’t you two come by the Belle tonight, and I can show my ‘preciation over a couple drinks, on the house.”<<

Jeb turned toward Victoria, "Well thank you Ma'am, I'll do that. But only if I can find a bath and a clean shirt a'fore then. I wouldn't want to scare off your payin' customers" He watched them go, tipping his hat in a sign of respect at Cassie. Female pistoleros were rare, but almost always deadly fast and women do not miss. Jeb was glad he'd never had to clear leather against one. Attempting to rejoin the other women, they were immediately accosted by the cowpoke playing newspaper reporter. Last thing Jeb needed was to appear in the newspaper, best he leave. With locals training guns on the wounded banditos, Jeb felt safe in returning to the barber turned print shop.

"The ladies are tough in this town, those poor lovin' banditos never stood a chance. And Miss Jules, I am truly sorry for spillin' the breakfast you made, it was delicious, the cornbread especial." Jeb picked up his dishes from the dirt and took them inside. Returning to the porch, he stood by Jules, "That five dollar wage your boastful sister offered for movin' yer contraption there. Well, I've got a proposition for ya. You can keep yer money, if'n we can come to an agreement 'bout somethin' else. You keep yer money, and my name never appears in yer newspaper, good description neither. That oughta be worth my share of a five dollar wage, dont ya think?"
 

WaveVelour

Star
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Already delusional and paranoiac, nothing supernatural or unearthly was actually necessary to push her over the edge and down into the pit of insanity. Disturbed by her recent past, scared of her future, the uncertainty within her acted as a dangerous poison, just not as swift as the one she ungratefully used on her unknowing driver early in the morning. It was a thin line she walked, her convoluted mind easily influenced by wicked forces. After the incident, she used her spare energy to trot away from the brothel. Escaping a physical place was easier than running away from herself, marking a part of the town as cursed more comfortable than admitting her own derangement. It had been a long day. And the unpleasant events it unfolded only stretched it longer for the young visitor of town. Suffering from a different contingent now, Grace walked past the crime scene and by the town folk stepped on it still. Whether the woman comprehended or not, she had been fighting against a different robbery of her own. One that didn’t aim for any materiality she possessed, but one that tried to steal and conquer her mind. As she strode across the main road, hem of her white dress kept collecting dust and dirt. It was perhaps an ironical reflection of the corruption of her mind.

Despite all, the directions spoken by the bartender remained fresh in her memory. Soon, the woman left the terror of the bank heist behind. Intended to consume the remaining hours of the day with sleep and rest, she headed to the actual inn in town. All relaxed and carefree, maybe then she could open her eyes to a more promising morning. Upon finding a new roof above her head, her bantering with the innkeeper didn’t last long. The already tightlipped young woman wasn’t in a cheerful mood to talk. A handsome payment filled the void between the few words she uttered. It was enough to excuse her miscommunication, and grant her a relatively tidy room at the inn to spend the nearing night, and also a bath. She was feeling polluted, not only physically, but mentally messy as well. Until the innkeeper prepared the bath for the young lady, she displayed the necessary patience. A little later, Grace found herself in the privacy of the bathroom. Hoping to wash her exhaustion out, she stripped her slim body of any clothes and accessories. Regardless of the weather outside, the quiet room felt cold, shivering her bare body. Posing in her birthday suit with a skin barely touched by the sun, she climbed into the bathtub to lower her kind body into the warm water that filled it. Her slim form failed to raise the water level all that much, but enjoyed the sensation.

A relaxing bath, having some quiet time, it was already improving her mood and lifting her spirit. It was relaxing to surrender the tender features of her pale body to the warmth of the water that embraced it. At least, up until the privacy of the bathroom was untimely violated by an uncalled visitor, when who looked to be a young cowboy cracked the door open to accidently become an interruption to the woman’s comforting allayment. Grace’s body sunk a little deeper into the tub, her big eyes questioning the intruder. It was a surprise to him as well. “I’m sorry Miss. Didn’t know.” Not so attractive, not so brave, he was quick to apologize for his improper disturbance. A long nap and a cleansing bath was a nice combination to becalm the lasting effects of a stressful day in a foreign town. However, definitely not the only way to let her hair down. There were other activities that could give her a necessary distraction. The door began to close. Her voice leaked out through the small gap as Grace perked up in the pool of water, her eyes colder than the liquid that embosomed her body.

“I feel like a slut.” Grace claimed, trying to explain the slovenly way she felt in this messy place, while relying on the still water to wash her clean. “Would you help me purify myself, cowboy?” She asked. The door closed still. However from inside. It was a little rude to wear a hat indoors, so he removed his hat, at first.
 

Shiva the Cat

Chekhov's Mom
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Location
The Highest of the States
Jules wasn't sure if the men who collected the bandits were official law enforcement or not, but it did not seem prudent at the moment to ask. Sighing in relief, she turned and decided the best thing for the moment was to get the horses somewhere secure just in case more madness broke out. There seemed to be a stable down at the end of the street, at least if her rusty Spanish was translating La Casa del Caballos right, although she shuddered to think at the cost of housing and feeding the enormous black quartet. She had just laid her gun on the seat of the wagon and was about to unhitch the team when she heard a voice behind her.

It was the one armed man--Jeb? That seemed to be the name the other man had called him earlier. Looking a bit dusty but otherwise none the worse for wear, he seemed most apologetic for tossing his tin plate of food into the dirt, a crime so ridiculous it almost made the redhead laugh. "Oh...oh it's no trouble. That was very brave of you, to charge the bank like that," Jules remarked, quickly turning her face back to the horses so he wouldn't see her expression. Her hands moved quickly and precisely on the fastenings just as easily as they did arranging type, but her entire body froze at the idea of Jeb's waiving his pay.

Giving up five dollars? That would at least keep the horses for a few days, and Jess would be over the moon. However when the tall woman turned around, the expression on her face was curious. "Keep your name out of the papers?" Well, that was easy enough, considering she didn't even know his last name, and she knew from traveling there were at least fifty Jebs west of the Mississippi. But the tone of her voice was asking "why" more than "how." For a moment, she pressed closer to the horses in caution, her large brown eyes scanning for any sign that the man in front of her might be a robber, a murderer, or some other such monster. He certainly had a rough look about him, but not an unfriendly one.

Still, it seemed safest if she didn't ask too many questions. "Well, I can try," she said finally, freeing the horses from the wagon. "But I'm not the chief editor, Jess is. She's the one who decides what goes into the paper and what doesn't. The only things I write are the filler pieces, you know: reprints from the eastern papers, recipes, silly little made-up stories here and there. Mostly I just do the proofing and run the press, and my sister does all the real reporting. But considering she missed...well, everything, I suppose, I can't imagine she would know you were involved, Mr. Jeb." And wouldn't that steam her Jules thought, with more wickedness than she liked. It was a bitter irony that Jess had missed the action that would have made their headline, but the redhead couldn't help but think it served her right just a little, leaving her to do all the heavy lifting and overpaying the help to chip in.

"I'll do my best though," Jules said finally. "Jess rarely reads anything she didn't write herself, and I certainly won't include you in anything. Not without asking you first at least." Leading the horses down the street, she inclined her head invitingly towards the barbershop-turned-news-office. "There's a little more of that panbread on the stove if you want some. Help yourself!"

*****
"Mr. Miller, you're a regular knight in shining armor," Jess grinned, scrambling ungracefully onto the horse's back. In the years since leaving Chicago she'd mastered the basics of riding horses, but with her short stature and unsteady movements the beasts never seemed to take too kindly to her. Luckily, the woman considered ignoring people's dislike of her one of her strong points, which was why she wasted no time in pulling up alongside the big Huntington rep.

He of course wasted no time in guessing--nay, accusing--her career, which only made her laugh again. "That's a sharp guess, mister. If you weren't clearly working for the little blonde gal I saw back in town, I'd have guessed you were with the Pinkertons." Pausing, Jess tilted her head in a sharp, birdlike manner that nearly sent her bowler hat flying off of her tousled brown hair. "Maybe a former Pinkerton, guessing by your age? Oh, that's not to be an insult though. I like experienced fellas like yourself, you always have the best stories. And I'm sure you can imagine why a woman like myself would be so interested in stories."

Turning her gaze straight forward again, the little woman stretched her neck slightly and smoothed down her skirt, grateful for the horse's wide back that made it easy to sit sidesaddle. "That 'big woman,' as you so impolitely called her, is my sister Julia. And our name isn't Prewitt, it's Barrow, although we've got some cousins by that name down in Kansas City. By the by, if you were talking to Jacobs about me, which I imagine you were, Dale Prewitt really did come west to be a miner. We're pretty sure he got hit by a train up near Salt Lake City though. Still, my only real lie to that poor dumb man up at the mine was that I was his sister. So don't think too poorly of Jessamine Barrow, if you can help it. I'm just doing the work of an educated society, you know?"

"Which begs the question," the woman's dark eyes narrowed as they seemed to drill into his profile. "Why would you or Missy Huntington be so keen on my not asking questions about what happened up at the mine? It's a small town you know, people are going to find out there's nine men dead and three missing. Are you worried my rinky-dink li'l paper is going to make it all the way back to...Atlanta, I'm guessing? And spread the story about a Huntington mine having a cave-in? Doesn't seem likely or impactful, if you ask me. Unless you know something more about it?"

Before she could continue this line of questioning though, they arrived in town among the aftermath of the robbery. "Jiminy Christmas, what the fuck did I miss?" Jess shrieked, forgetting about her companion entirely and leaping off the horse's back. She landed on her feet like a cat, then took off running towards the barbershop. "Jules? Jules goddammit, where are you?" she roared, storming through the door and looking around for any sign of her sister.
 

Kilted Pervert

Super-Earth
"Well Miss Jules, I'd be much obliged if you did, I been on the wrong side of too many fights over the years, going all the way back to the war, for ole Jeb's name to get broadcasted to the masses. I'll be taking my leave, I need a bath and some clean clothes. I been on the trail for a long spell. You take care Pretty Lady." Jeb walked across the street and untied his horse and pack mule from the hitching post in front of the Bell, and led them down the street, looking for a rooming house and a Chinese laundry.

It did not take long for Jeb to spy the two storey slat sided boarding house, he hoped the 'vacancy' sign hanging from the marquee was accurate. Tying up the animals at the water trough, he walked inside. The sitting room of the rooming house was empty aside from an older man sitting behind the counter picking at his fingernails with the nib of a dip pen. He started at the sound of Jeb's voice, almost falling off the stool he was sitting on. "I'm lookin' fer a room and a bath, can ya help me out?" Jeb soon learned the there was a room available [several actually] but that the bath was currently occupied by a young lady and he would have to wait. Jeb settled instead on having a basin of hot water and towels brought to his room. The proprietor also agreed to send the laundry service around to pick up his dirty clothes, and to get the animals boarded at the stable. "Make sure they both get brushed and their shoes checked, and a double measure of oats for the both of them." Jeb paid for a week in advance, as well as laundry and stabling fees. He then retired to his room at the back of the upper floor to wash and rest.

"Damnit, I was countin' on soaking in the tub," Jeb muttered to himself while scrubbing away the worst of the sweat and grime from his face and body. His nude body showed a multitude of scars, most white with age, but not all, some were more recent. Once he was satisfied he was cleaned enough, he laid out on top of the bedspread, not bothering to dry off. The air coming through the open windows evaporated the water from his skin, cooling him off from the day's heat. Jeb was soon fast asleep.
 
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