Category: Agents of the Vault

An original work of fiction. Think: A Western National Treasure with a dash of Harry Potter.

Agents of the Vault – Part 21

Part 21 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  After the initial firefight, Jane regroups and plots her next move.

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Agents of the Vault
Part 21
By Grant Baciocco

Brenner had made his move towards the buildings when the shooting had begun.  He had seen Morgan, who was behind the hotel building, fall dead when the shooting had started and rushed to help Jane whom he found taking shelter behind the general store.  Jane was horseless, having been thrown in the confusion of the gunfight with Grisom.  Brenner rode up, dismounted and crossed to her.

“You okay?” Brenner asked.

“Fine.” Jane replied.  “I got a shot into Grisom though.”

“Is he dead?”

“I wouldn’t bet money on it.” Jane replied.

“They got Morgan, he’s dead at the back of the hotel.” Brenner said.

Jane didn’t reply, her eyes focused on the hotel.

After a minute of silence, Brenner spoke, “Where are they now?”

“Holed up in the hotel.”

“What’s the plan?”

Jane was silent for a minute.  “We need to flush them out.  Let’s burn the hotel.”

“But isn’t the trunk in there?  And the prairie fire?”

“Yes.  Grissom won’t let either burn.  He’ll get them both out of the hotel. We’ll just hope to snag the prairie fire as it tries to escape the building.  But I’m tired of waiting, this ends now.”  Jane began rooting in her bag for a box of matches.  “I hope we’ll get both, but at this point I’ll settle for just the trunk and Grisom dead.  We have the other prairie fire, perhaps we can use it to lure the other one out.”

Jane grabbed one of the dried out tumbleweeds that had collected against the side of the general store and struck a match.  A small flame ignited and she pressed the matchstick against the tumbleweed which caught quickly and began to burn.  “Cover me,” she told Brenner and began to move from behind the hotel to the street.  Brenner followed closely behind.  He peered around the corner of the store and aimed his revolver up at the windows on the second floor of the hotel.  There was no movement.

Jane sprinted across the street, leaping over Leland’s dead body.   The tumbleweed in her hands almost completely engulfed in flames.  She tossed the burning bush in through the front door of the hotel and ran back across the street to where Brenner was watching for any movement.

“You think the building will catch?” Brenner asked when she had returned.

“That building is drier than the tumbleweed.  It’ll catch.”  She unholstered her pistols and cocked them both.  “Cross back around to the other side of the general store so you have a view of the front and far side of the hotel.  Just in case they come leaping out the window.”

Brenner nodded and moved out behind the building.  Jane watched the door with her eyes squinted.  Soon enough, thick, black smoke began to roll out the door an up into the sky.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media –

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Agents of the Vault – Part 20

Part 20 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  Was anyone hit in the opening gunfight between Jane and Grisom?  Listen and find out!

If you want to subscribe to the Grantcast, you can do so with iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher.  Enjoy!  And let me know what you think of the story in the comments here, as we go along.

Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

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Agents of the Vault
Part 20
By Grant Baciocco

Charlie scanned the street outside for signs of Jane but could only see her horse.  In the gunfight, she must have bailed off of it and it now stood still in the middle of the street.

Seconds later, Grisom came stumbling into the room, gun in hand, holding his belly.  Charlie could see a red stain spreading on Grisom’s pale linen shirt.

“Grisom!”  Charlie said, crossing to him and helping him sit on the edge of the bed.  “Is it bad?”

Grisom winced and for the first time, pulled his hand away from his wound and looked down.  The blood flowed faster now that he was not applying direct pressure.  He quickly placed his hand back over the wound and pressed down hard.

“Kid,” Grisom said between winces.  “Gut shots ain’t ever good.”  Grisom took a deep breath.  “Fetch my bag over there.”  He indicated his saddle bag which was next to the trunk that held the writing desk.

Charlie crossed the room, snagged the bag and quickly brought it back to the bed.  Charlie flipped it open and look expectantly at Grisom.

“There’s a small vial in the bottom.” Grisom grunted.  “Filled with dirt.”

Charlie rooted around in the bag as Grisom lie back on what was left of the bed.  Charlie’s fingers found a small glass vial at the bottom of the bag and held it up in the dimming sunlight.  It was filled with dirt as Grisom had said.  Charlie looked at Grisom who was hoisting up his shirt, exposing the gunshot wound.

“Take the top off the vial and hand it to me son.” Grisom said breathing heavy.  Charlie followed his directions, tossing the lid to the vial onto the floor and handing it over to Grisom.  Grisom took it and bunched his shirt up to get a better view of his wounded stomach.  Charlie stepped back, nervous, but ready to help if he could.  “You ever hear of Samuel Whittenmore kid?”

Charlie, perplexed at the sudden change of topic, shook his head as he watched Grisom slowly begin to tap out little flecks of dirt onto the pulsing gunshot wound.  “Whittenmore was 78 years old when he fought in the Revolutionary War.  He caught some British soldiers returning from the opening engagements at Lexington and Concord and, all alone mind you, took some shots at them.  Killed one redcoat with his rifle, pulled out his pistols, killed another and mortally wounded one more.  The British rushed him and this tough son of a bitch pulls out his sword to fend them off.”

The vial was now empty, a small pile of dirt on the wound was soaking up the blood making it a dark muddy brown.  Grisom threw the vial aside and began rubbing the dirt into his wound, gritting his teeth with every movement.

“What happened?” Charlie ask, instinctively crossing to the corner of the room where some discarded bedsheets lie.  He began to rip them into strips to form a bandage.  Charlie didn’t know much about medicine, but everything about rubbing dirt into a fresh wound seemed absolutely wrong.

“The British laid into him.” Grisom replied.  “Shot him in the face.  Bayonetted him repeatedly.  Left him for dead.”

Charlie crossed back to the bed and began helping Grisom bandage the wound best he could.

“Hours later, when, Colonial soldiers found him,” Grisom continued.  “Whittenmore was, amazingly, still alive.  They took him to a doctor who said there was no hope of his survival.”  Grisom let our a pained chuckle, “Tough old bastard lived another 18 years, finally stopping at 96 years old.”

“Sounds like a tough old man.” Charlie said, binding the bedsheets tight around the wound.

“He was.” Grisom said, attempting to catch his breath.  “There’s not doubt he was tough as nails.  But he had also happened to fall into patch of dirt there that the natives use to use as a healing area.  Legend had it that the dirt in that area had healing powers and it’s said to have kept him alive.”

Charlie nodded and helped Grisom tie off the knot of torn bedsheets now circling his midsection as a makeshift bandage.  “And that’s what was in that vial?”

“Yeah,” Grisom replied, with a slow measured exhale.  “Theres another vial of it in that bag.  You might as well take it and put it in your pocket, just in case.”

Charlie picked the bag up again and rooted around inside of it until he found the duplicate vial.  Feeling the cool glass in his hand, he regarded the small flecks of dirt tumbling within for a moment and then slipped it into his pocket.  Putting the bag down he walked over and helped Grisom sit up on the edge of the bed.

“That dirt going to heal you?” Charlie asked.

“Heal me?” Grisom said with a cough.  “No, but it might just keep me alive until someone gets to me that can.”

Charlie nodded and the prairie silence filled their room.  There air was still.

Suddenly sensing an absence, Grisom whipped his head around and scanned the room.  “Where’s Doris?”

“She took to ground, right after you left.  She heard something and took off.”

“Charlie, if anything happens to her—“

Charlie held up his hands, “I know, Grisom, I know.  But she had it in her head to do something and she went to do it.”

“Dammit.” Grisom said, wincing and grabbing his side as he did.  He sat quiet for a moment then turned towards Charlie, “You trust her enough on her own?”

“I do.” Charlie said, nodding.  Confident he was right.

Grisom smiled weakly and then winced, putting a hand against his side.  He let out a long slow exhale.

“What do we do next?” Charlie asked.

“We wait and see what Jane does.” Grim grunted.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media –

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Agents of the Vault – Part 19

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

If you want to subscribe to the Grantcast, you can do so with iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher.  Enjoy!  And let me know what you think of the story in the comments here, as we go along.

Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

Finally, if you’d like to support my projects, visit

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 –

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Agents of the Vault – Part 18

Part 18 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  Grissom reveals the secrets of the writing desk as he attempts a last ditch play to even the numbers agains Jane.

If you want to subscribe to the Grantcast, you can do so with iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher.  Enjoy!  And let me know what you think of the story in the comments here, as we go along.

Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

Finally, if you’d like to support my projects, visit

Agents of the Vault
Part 18
By Grant Baciocco

“I guess you weren’t kidding.  There wasn’t nothing in that trunk but an old writing desk?” Leland scoffed as he, Charlie and Doris entered the hotel room.  They had found Grisom seated at a chair, the writing desk from the trunk, on the moth eaten and threadbare bed in the middle of the room.  Grisom sat hunched over it writing quickly on a piece of paper.  “You writing out your last will and testament, Grisom?”

“This desk belonged to Thomas Jefferson.” Grisom answered, ignoring Leland’s barb.  “You know who that is?”

“I’ve heard of him.” Leland replied, crossing his arms.

Grisom continued, “He wrote the Declaration of Independence.  Funny thing is though, he didn’t want to write it, he thought John Adams should write it, so did a lot of folks at that time.  Problem was, Jefferson didn’t have much time to write a draft and then take it around to all the other committee members.  You know the Committee of Five?”

Leland stared blankly at Grisom as he wrote.

“The Committee of Five,” Charlie piped up, “Adams, Sherman, Livingston, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  They drafted the Declaration of Independence and brought it to the Continental Congress.”

“Smart kid.” Leland said with a sideways glance towards Charlie.  “So what about this desk?”

“This desk was built from wood from a forest deep inside Virginia, a forest some say was enchanted.”

“Bull crap.” Leland said.

“Some say that as well.  Anyway, five of these desks were made.  One for each of the Committee of Five. Anything anyone wrote on any of the five desks would appear on paper kept on top of the other four desks.” Grisom explained, finishing up the letter he was writing.  “So as Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, it appeared on paper on the other four men’s desks.”

“I don’t believe that for a minute,” Leland scoffed.

“I could care less if you did.” Grisom went on.  “Jefferson wrote, ‘We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable.’  Seconds later, those words were scratched out as Franklin edited, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident.’  They were miles from each other.”

“I see,” said Leland, still not believing, “What are you doing, writing a letter to the rest of the Committee of Five?  Hoping they read it and Ben Franklin will come rinding in and and save your hide?”

“No.” Said Grisom, standing from his chair.  “There’s only two desks left, this one and one at The Vault in Yankton.  I’m hoping someone there reads the message and they send in the calvary.  Other Agents of the Vault to help even up the fight.  The Vault in Yankton is only 30 miles or so away, so they could come help us even the odds.”

“If I was in your shoes,” Leland said, poking a finger at Grisom, “I’d spend less time writing a letter to your pen pals and more time figuring out how you’re gonna defeat the Pinkertons headed this way to kill us.”

Grisom reached down onto the bed next to the desk and handed Leland a revolver.  “Here.  You guard the bottom floor of the hotel.  Charlie will stay up here with the trunk.”

“And if I don’t.” Leland said, checking to make sure the gun was loaded.

“Then I’ll shoot you.” Grisom said, matter of factly.

Leland had no comeback, he dropped his arms, the pistol at his side.

Grisom began placing the writing desk into the trunk.  He made sure the desk was secured to the inside, then he closed the lid and began running his finger across the padlock, which began to glow and it locked itself.  After he was sure it was secure, he stood and crossed to Leland.

“You can’t let them up the stairs.” Grisom said, looking Leland in the eye.

“I reckon now’s the time to ask, what do I get out of all this?” Leland said with a smirk.  “For saving you, your trunk and the kid too?”

Grisom sighed.  “We make it out of this alive, you go free and you get the gold.”

Leland was quiet for a second, but then a smile crept over his face, “You got yourself a deal, Grisom.”  He twirled the gun in his hand and then shoved it into the waistband of his pants.

Charlie crossed to the window and looked out.  He saw four black marks moving across the prairie that were rapidly becoming the recognizable shapes of Jane and her men on horseback.  “Here they come.  About a mile out.”

Grisom sighed, “Well, I reckon we get set.  Charlie, you stay here.  Leland, you’re downstairs.  I’ll go meet them in the street.”

Doris let out a low, ominous whistle.  Grisom turned and looked at her.  “And you, remember what I told you.”

Doris nodded and skittered back across to the saddle bag.  There was a moment of silence and Grisom turned out the door, with Leland behind him.  Charlie and Doris listened as they thumped back down the stairs.

Charlie set a hand on Doris’ head and scratched behind her left ear.

“Here we go girl.” He said softly and then crossed to the window.

Below him he saw Grisom exit the hotel and stand in what there was of Main Street, Trinity.  Grisom’s hands were on his hips as he watched Jane and the Pinkertons approach.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media –

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