Agents of the Vault – Part 19

Part 19 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  The showdown in Trinity begins!

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Agents of the Vault
Part 19
By Grant Baciocco

As Jane neared Trinity, she could see Grisom standing in the middle of the thoroughfare.  She slowed up her horse.  Brenner and the other Pinkertons rode up behind her.  Their horses breathed heavy underneath them, tired from racing across the prairie.  Gilmore was still wrestling with Pahaat, who thrashed harder now that they had slowed their pace.

“Ma’am.” Gilmore said, struggling to keep the wriggling prairie fire in his hands.  “I’m having trouble holding onto this varmint.”

Jane spun on her horse to face Gilmore, whipping out her gun and aiming it directly at his head.  “Do you want to die Gilmore?”

“No.  I don’t want—“ he stammered.

“Then you hang onto the prairie fire.” She hissed.  “If he touches the ground he will burrow and we will lose him.  If we loose him, you’re dead.  Understand?”

“Yes, ma’am.  It’s just—“

Jane fired a bullet that, purposefully knocked Gilmore’s hat clean off his head.  Pahaat stopped struggling at the sound of the shot.  Jane holstered her gun.

“Listen.” She said to the three men, “Grisom’s going to meet me in the street.  That’s plain to see.  I assume the other two men are up in the taller building there.  That’s where the trunk is and that’s where the other prairie fire is.  I’ll ride direct towards Grisom.  Brenner and Connors, you ride to the left of the buildings, Conners stop halfway, Brenner, go the full way around so you are behind Grisom.  Gilmore, you stay here.  Keep that prairie fire quiet.  If things get rough, you ride in from here.  No one shoots unless I signal.  Understood?”

The three men nodded and without a further word, began moving into the positions that Jane had ordered.

In the center of town, Grisom saw the Pinkertons split up.  “They’re circling the town,” Grisom said loud enough for Leland and Charlie to hear.  “Keep your eyes open behind the hotel. And down this way.” Grisom said, pointing away from the hotel.  The whole time, he kept his eyes on Jane out on the prairie.

Jane lowered the brim of her het and began riding directly towards where Grisom stood in the middle of the five buildings.  Slowly, she moved her right hand towards her hip as the horse loped forward, feeling the weight of her pistol in her hand.  Reassuring herself it was there, she slowly moved he hand back to the reigns.  The sun was hanging low to the west.  She figured they probably had about thirty minutes of pure daylight left before it began to set.  “That’ll be long enough.” She thought to herself.  “We get the trunk, the prairie fire and then ride south, leaving Grisom and the kid dead in this deserted town.”

She slowed the horse as she came within range of Grisom.  She trusted that Brenner and the Conners were in their spots around the buildings.  When she got close enough she glanced up to the top of the two story building.  She didn’t see movement in the window, but she knew that one of the others had to be up there.  She couldn’t tell where the third was.  She refocused on Grisom.

Grisom stood, motionless in between the buildings, staring directly at Jane as she rode up.  She pulled the reigns on her horse and it stopped about 15 feet from where Grisom stood.

“Grisom.” Jane said.

“Jane.” Grisom replied, respectfully tipping the brim of his hat towards her.

She smirked.  “It doesn’t have to end like this Grisom.” Jane said.  “You could just give me what I want and we could be gone.  Leave you and the kid and whoever else is with you alive.”

“We both know that won’t happen, Jane.“  Grisom said.  “You want the trunk, you want Doris and, most of all, you want me dead.  I can’t let any of those three things happen.  So there’s no way this doesn’t end in bloodshed.”

“What can I say Grisom?.” Jane said, smiling.  “When you’re right, you are right.  But at the very least, we could leave the kid alive.”

Grisom looked up at her.  “You and I both know you wouldn’t let that happen.”

Jane smiled wider.  “Dammit Grisom, again, when you are right, you are right.”

Grisom flinched when suddenly he felt the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of his head and he heard the pistol’s hammer click back.  He’d been so focused on Jane, he hadn’t heard the footsteps slowly walking up behind him.  He silently cussed himself out.

“Evening Ma’am.” A voice said behind him.  It was Leland.  “I have been held prisoner by this man here for several days days now.  I want him gotten rid of just as much as you.  I’d be quite obliged to join your team and help you get what you want.  The trunk, that stupid creature upstairs and Grisom here.”

“What do you get out of it?” Jane asked, intrigued by this new wrinkle.

“There’s a trunk on that there cart,” Leland said, indicating with his head.  “I’d be mighty happy if I could get up on that cart and ride off into the sunset.  After you get what you want, of course.”

“Of course.” Jane replied.  “It’s an interesting offer, Mr.—?”

“Leland.” He smiled.  “Just call me Leland.

Up in the second floor of the hotel, Charlie’s pistol was moving back and forth between Jane and Leland now.  Leland had ruined things and Charlie felt a little unsure what to do next.

Grisom wasn’t so worried.  “Charlie!” Grisom yelled interrupting the banter between Jane and Leland, “You keep trained on Jane.  Don’t worry about Leland.”

Grisom heard Leland shuffle behind him, “Don’t worry about me?  Don’t worry about me?  Are you plum crazy Grisom? I’m the guy with a gun against your head.”  With those words, Leland shoved the gun further into the back of Grison’s skull, causing Grisom to take a step forward.  “You feel that Grisom?  You feel that cold steel driving into the base of your skull?”  Grisom was calm as could be.

“Your gun ain’t loaded Leland.” Grisom said quietly.  “You’re a criminal.  You think I’d give you a loaded gun?  I knew you’d turn on us the first moment you could.  Thank you for not disappointing me.”

Leland held the gun steady.  “You’re bluffing.  I checked the cylinder.  It’s got six shots.”

“They’re empty shell casings.” Grisom said.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Pull the trigger and we’ll all find out.” Grisom said quietly.

Leland’s hand began shaking on the trigger.  Grisom could feel it through the barrel.

Bang!  A shot rang out.  There was silence.  Grisom felt the barrel of the gun leave the base of his skull and he heard Leland’s body hitting the ground.  Grisom looked straight ahead to see Jane’s pistol in her hand, smoking.

“I was growing tired of the drama.” Jane said.  Her gun now trained on Grisom.  “Call the boy out here and tell him to bring the prairie fire.  Tell my men where they can retrieve the trunk and we will make this quick and painless.”

“You can’t have the trunk.” Grisom said.  “And you can’t have he prairie fire.”

“You think I’m kidding about this Grisom?” Jane said, the annoyance dripping through her voice.  “I thought you’d know by now that I mean what I say.

Meanwhile, up in the hotel room, Charlie could barely hear what Jane and Grisom were saying.  He strained to hear them and not jut because they were far away, but also because Doris was making a whistling sound.  A sound that Charlie hadn’t heard before.

“Doris,” Charlie pleaded, “I’m trying to hear Grisom.  Would you be quiet?”

But Doris could not be calmed down.  She continued to whistle and scramble back and forth along the back wall of the room.  Charlie turned to see her climb up the wall into the window frame that looked out the back of the hotel.

“Doris!” Charlie said tersely, “Get out of the window!  Your liable to be seen!”

Doris ignored Charlie’s warning and he watched in panic as she disappeared out the window.  Looking back down to Grisom and Jane, he saw they were still locked in their war of words.  He quickly crossed to the window Doris had just climbed out of.  He looked down and saw Doris hit the ground and immediately start burrowing, disappearing completely.  He had just enough time to wonder where she was off to when a bullet whizzed past his head.  As he ducked back into the room, he caught view of one of Jane’s Pinkertons who had been guarding the backside of the hotel.  Charlie scrambled back across the floor to the window that faced main street.  That’s when he realized that there was now gunfire from out in the street.

Peering above the window ledge, he saw Grisom running toward the hotel in a zig zag fashion as Jane fired her pistol behind him.  Grisom wildly fired shots behind him in Jane’s direction, making her duck, but his aim was wild as he ran for cover.

Thinking that, with Leland dead, they were grossly outnumbered.  Charlie dashed back over to the window overlooking the back of the hotel and saw the Pinkerton that was there, slowly approaching the hotel with his rifle at the ready.  Charlie quickly took aim and shot the Pinkerton dead.

Below him, he heard Grisom slam closed the flimsy door of the hotel and begin to mount the stairs.

Gilmore, still on his horse, still firmly holding the Prairie Fire in his hands, heard the gunfire exchanges and looked nervously toward Trinity.  It was then he realized that the Prairie Fire in his hands had gone completely still.  For the first time in the day since they had captured it, it wasn’t struggling and it wasn’t whistling.  If it weren’t for the feeling of it’s tiny ribs rising and falling against his hands, Gilmore would have thought the creature had died.

“What’s going on little fella?” Gilmore asked quietly, giving the creature a gentle shake.  Pahaat didn’t move, only cocking his, burlap bag covered head to the side, listening.

Suddenly, Gilmore’s horse let out a wild shriek, reared up and then, as if the horses legs just simply refused to stop working, crashed to the ground.  Pahaat tumbled out of Gilmore’s hands.  The Pinkerton desperately reached to secure the creature, but his inability to do so, along with the searing pain now shooting up his legs made him realize that the horse had his leg pinned under it’s weight.

Frantic at incurring Jane’s wrath for losing the prairie fire, Gilmore looked around to try and discover the cause of the horse’s  ailment.  Scrambling up the horse’s stomach came the fuzzy ears of Doris who had a mischievous smile on her face.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media – www.SaturdayMorningMedia.com

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