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 9

Part 9 of Agents of the Vault.  Jane reaches Leland’s cabin.

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 9
By Grant Baciocco

Jane and her three Pinkerton Agents followed the tracks the cart had left the night before.  In the late afternoon, they came across the valley where Leland’s cabin was and not to long after they came across the cabin.  They found two dead and an indian, Iron Dog, clinging to life.  Jane crouched next to him.

“What happened here?”  she said softly, yet firmly, wanting information.

Iron Dog had been lying, bleeding out, for hours.  His eyes tried to focus on Jane.  “Water.”

Jane whipped her head around, “Brenner, water.”

Brenner scrambled for the ladle that hung off the side a rain bucket outside the cabin and brought it sloshing full of water to Jane.  Jane, helped Iron Dog lift his head and held the ladle as he drank.  After he had sipped, and rested his head back, Jane handed the ladle back to Brenner.

“What happened here?” she asked again.  She asked more firmly this time, sensing that every second counted where the dying indian was concerned.

Iron Dog took a deep breath.  “Two men.  Had no weapons.  Brought them into camp.”  He coughed roughly.  His breaths coming in rasps.

“Yes, then?”

Iron Dog took a deep breath, “Leland tried to open the trunk.  Big bright flash.  When we could see again, two men had guns.  Shot us.”

Jane looked up at Brenner.  “It’s true.  The stories about the trunk must be true.  It’s protected magically.  That was the flash.”  She looked back down at Iron Dog.  “Where did they go?”

Iron Dog’s eyes had closed again.

“Where did the two men go?” she repeated and shook Iron Dog roughly, no longer caring if she hastened his departure.

Iron Dog opened his eyes.  “Took trunk.  Gold.  Leland.  On cart.  Left hours ago.”

“Dammit.” Jane said standing, letting the man drop with a thud to the ground.  “Water the horses now.  We need to move fast to catch them.  That trunk can’t get to Yankton.”

Brenner barked orders at the other agents and they hastily prepared to move out.

Iron Dog weakly reached out a hand and touched Jane’s boot.  “Take me to doctor.  Please.” He rasped.

Without looking down, Jane slipped out her gun and shot Iron Dog through the head.  The shot echoing throughout the valley.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media

Tags : , , , , ,

Agents of the Vault – Part 8

Part 8 of Agents of the Vault.  Charlie, Grisom and Doris make their way to Yankton but their cargo, Leland, is not too happy about it.

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 8
By Grant Baciocco

The horses trudged slowly up out of the valley, straining under the weight of the cart which hauled Grisom’s trunk, the trunk full of gold and three fully grown men: Grisom, Charlie and the bound Leland.  Doris loved running in the tall grass of the prairie and did so as the cart ambled along.  Charlie enjoyed watching her tumble and fall as they travelled and was glad to give her some time out of the saddle bag.

After watching her for a bit Charlie turned to Grisom, “You think she’s the last one?”

Grisom looked over at Doris as she sped ahead of the wagon, trying to outpace the horses.  “Not sure.” He replied.  “She’s certainly the only one that’s ever been on record of being in captivity.  And with the way their bodies supposedly disintegrate when they pass on, there’s been no record of them before excepting the very brief mentions in the Coalition’s record books and even those are sketchy.”

They rode along in silence for a few seconds.

“You know they are going to want to take a look at her when we get there.” Grisom said flatly.

Charlie nodded.  “They ain’t gonna keep her or anything.”

“No.  I don’t think they would.  And I don’t think Doris would let them.” Grisom added with a chuckle.

Charlie smiled.

Grisom continued, “They’ll want to study her a bit though.  She’s a one of a kind.  She’s the United State’s only native mystical creature.  No other creatures like her exist here.  The Coalition will want to learn as much as they can about her for the records.”

Charlie nodded and looked out at Doris who’d now climbed up the tug of one of the horse’s harnesses and was proudly riding upon it’s back, closing her eyes as the wind blew into her face, smoothing back the fur on her head.  The same horses she’d spooked the night before took her as a peaceful creature now.  This was one of her wonders, she could be bold and almost vicious like she had been last night or she can be sweet and peaceful as she was now.  Charlie settled back against the buck board and let the rolling of the cart lull him into a nap.

Charlie startled awake to the sound of voices.  His right hand went instinctively to his gun.  He came to his senses and realized that Grisom was talking to Leland who’d regained consciousness after being wholloped.  And Leland was none to happy at his predicament.

“You have no right.  You ain’t no lawman.  You ain’t got no power to apprehend me.” Leland was shouting from his prone position in the back of the cart where he lie between the two trunks.  Doris had left her perch on the horses and was now seated on the gold trunk looking down at Leland as he spoke, cocking her head like a dog does when they are trying to work something out they can’t quite grasp.

“Well, “ Grisom started and Charlie could tell by that ‘well’ that this conversation had been going on for quite some time before he’d woken up, “I tell ya Leland.  I may be no sort of official lawman as you say, but I can be quite sure that there’s a bank in Yankton that’s going to love to have a few words with you once we get there.  And It’s my thinkin’ that they may just have a reward to offer for making sure you arrive.”

“Be that as it may, you have no right to make me ride back here lyin’ down like an animal with this…creature or whatever it is strarin’ at me.”

Doris understood this and took the insult directly.  Her back arched and her teeth bared.  A small, strawberry sized ball of flame hovered between he two long incisors.  A low whistle escaped her throat.

Grisom laughed, “Now, you see you’ve insulted her Leland.  And if there’s one thing Doris can’t abide, it’s insults.  So if I were you, I’d apologize or things might get a touch bit hot back there.”

Leland looked over at Doris again and the fireball had grown to the size of a tangerine and hovered about two inches from her mouth.  The whistling got higher pitched.  Leland swallowed hard, “I…I’m sorry for insulting you.”

Doris didn’t look appeased.

Charlie looked back and laughed, “Don’t forget you manners Leland, Doris here is a proper lady.”

Leland shot Charlie a look that showed he hated to lower himself this much to an animal, but he turned back toward Doris and said, “I am powerful sorry if I have offended you…ma’am.”  He nodded his head a bit.

Doris immediately closed her mouth and smiled, the fireball disappearing into thin air.  Sitting pretty in the sun, proud to have been called ‘ma’am.’

The cart continued towards Yankton, with Doris keeping a watchful and weary eye on Leland as they ambled along.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media

Tags : , , , ,

Agents of the Vault – Part 7

Part 7 of Agents of the Vault.  Charlie and Grisom meet up with the men who stole the trunk and Jane is not far behind.

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 7
By Grant Baciocco

Jane ordered the train to stop when it reached the point that the ambush had occurred.  The conductor pointed out where it had happened, having received the coordinates from the railroad office.  Jane inspected the ground as the conductor nervously glanced at his watch.  She stood and looked over at Brenner.

“Get the horses.  We ride from here, following those tracks.” She barked.

Brenner nodded and with the other agents began to get the horses off the livestock car.

The Conductor wiped his brow with a red handkerchief.  “Be careful around here.  One of the bandits got bit really bad by a snake during the battle.”

Jane looked at him suspiciously.  “A snake?  In the middle of the night?  Hardly believable.”

“That’s what the train company wired back.  Said that during the fracas, one of the bandits got bit pretty bad by a snake.  Paralyzed him pretty good for about an hour.”

Jane raised an eyebrow at the conductor’s cluelessness, “Paralyzed?  For an hour?  What kind of snake just paralyzes you for an hour?  A rattler’s poison will kill you.”

The conductor thought for a moment.  “Come to think of it, the railroad company said it was a snake, but the bandit who’d been bit kept saying it weren’t a snake.  He was swearing up and down it was something else.  Some kind of creature he’d never seen before.”

Jane smiled and whispered.  “A prairie fire.”

“What’s that?” The conductor asked.

Jane ignored his question and looked over her shoulder at Brenner.  “Brenner, let’s go.  We can’t waste any more time.”  She turned back to the conductor.  She took another 100 dollar bank note from a pocket.  “You’ve been most helpful.  We’ll be getting off here.  You may proceed to Yankton.”

She handed the note to the conductor and turned to speed up the unloading of the horses.

Meanwhile, in the valley about 10 miles away from where Jane was, Grisom, Charlie and Doris had taken a good twenty minutes to hike around the side of the valley and come up to the edge.  Below them in a heavily wooded patch of forest they could see black smoke rising from the chimney of a small, log cabin.

“Damn.” Grisom said, spitting out a wad of chew.  “This is the absolute worst scenario.  They have cover from all sides.  They could have lookouts spread out anywhere.”

“How are we going to get down there without them seeing us?” Charlie asked.

“There ain’t no way.  So we’re gonna have to let them see us.”

“What?” Charlie questioned.

“Come on, we gotta go back to the horses.” Grisom was up and walking back down the hill.  “We’re going to get ourselves captured.”

Charlie scrambled to go after him.

Down at the cabin, Leland sat amongst a stack of gold bars.  He smiled as he spooned a piece of salt pork into his mouth and chewed noisily.  “This here is our retirement boys.  Look at all that gold.  Tomorrow we ride south to Mexico and then it’s just the highlife for the rest of our lives.”

The two men gathered in the cabin with Leland cheered and raised a cup each up in salute.  After a beat, one of the men raised a question, “What about Jimmy?”

Leland’s face turned dour.  He nodded and scratched his chin.  “Well, Jimmy is a real sad case I reckon.  No doubt he was caught and is probably near close to being put in a Yankton cell right about now.”

The men nodded silently.

Then Leland continued, “However, Jimmy knew the risks of the job then he took it.  In honor of Jimmy, we shall spend his share of the gold wisely in Mexico!”

The men cheered loudly and again raised their cups again.

Their reverie was suddenly interrupted by a loud pounding on the door.  The three men jumped and instinctively reached for their guns.

A voice boomed from outside, “Leland!  Leland get out here.”

Leland stood from his chair, hand on hip, “Iron Dog?  What are you doing back here.  You’re supposed to be on lookout.”

“I was on lookout.  Caught two men trying to sneak into camp.”

The three men in the cabin rushed to the door.  Leland threw it open and the three squinted in the sunlight as their eyes adjusted the sight that lie before them.  Iron Dog stood at the door with his rifle aimed at a spot about fifteen feet in front of the cabin.  There were Grisom and Charlie hands raised, in placid complacency.

Leleand smirked and stepped out of the cabin.  “What do we have here?  Where do you to think you were going?”

“We were going to see you.” Grisom replied.

Leleand was quiet for a second.  Then he smiled.  “You,” he said pointing to Grisom.  “You’re the fella from the train.”

Grisom nodded.  “That I am.  Name’s Grisom and I’ve come for my trunk.”

Leland let out a loud laugh.  “Ha!  You’ve come for your trunk have you.”  He looked in Charlie’s direction.  “This here your back up?”

Grisom didn’t say a word.  Charlie was sweating profusely.

Leland looked to the indian covering the two men.  “Iron Dog, you take their guns off of them?”

Iron Dog shook his head.  “No.  No guns.  They came unarmed.”

Leland looked back at Grisom.  “You walked into my camp, unarmed, with the goal of getting you trunk back.”

“That’s right.  And that’s what I aim to do.”

Leland let out another loud laugh, “Ha!  Well, you are either the bravest man who ever set foot in these parts or the dumbest fool that ever lived.”  He was quiet for a second then turned to the two men in the cabin’s doorway.  “Truett, Buck, go get that trunk and drag it out here.”

The two men looked at each other quizzically.  Leland looked back at them, “Now!”  The men fell over each other scrambling back into the cabin.  Leland looked back at Grisom, “We’re going to see what’s so important about this trunk of yours.”

A beat later the two men came shuffling out of the cabin, carrying the trunk in between them.  They strained under the weight of it and slowly maneuvered it to over in front of where Leland stood and set it down.  Once it was down they backed off.  All eyes were on the trunk.

Slowly Leland walked around the trunk, examining it as he did.  It was clear from the wear on the trunk it had see a lot of use.  The hardware was tarnished to the point that it was difficult to make out what type of metal was used in construction.  There were all manner of stains and dents covering the wood on all sides. Peppered on all sides of the trunk were strange symbols.  Leland, at first, took them to the letters, but upon closer examination they were odd symbols of objects he just couldn’t discern.  Not the type of writing that Indians usually used, but something else.  He got to the front and noticed the big heavy padlock on the front.  Standard issue, like most found on lock boxes from the bank, but this one was different in that it had no key hole.

“Truett, bring me the crowbar.” Leland said softly, looking at Grisom and holding out a hand.

Truett ducked into the cabin and returned seconds later with the crowbar, handing it to Leland.

Grisom cleared his throat. “Leland.  Mind if I call you Leland?”

Leland glared at Grisom.  He did not reply.

“Lealand, what’s inside that box is very old.  Very, very old.  It has no significant value to anyone other than sentimental.  Charlie and I were just bringing it to Yankton where it’ll be stored away and forgotten about.  The contents of the trunk include several bound books, some papers and a wooden lap desk.  There’s nothing else.”

Leland smirked, “If that’s all that’s in there, then you won’t mind me taking a look see.”

“Well, I wouldn’t except the trunk has certain…protections.”

Leland pointed with the crowbar. “Like this lock without a key hole?  The wood along the sides of this trunk look older than dirt.  Why I think that this crowbar will be able to wrench that lock off there in no time flat.”

“Well, you would think that but appearances can be deceiving.” Grisom replied.

“We shall see.” Leland said as he positioned the crowbar in the lock where the top of the bolt rested.

Grisom whispered to Charlie, “Close your eyes.  Then when it happens, we carry out the plan.”  Charlie nodded and closed his eyes tight..

“Hush.” Iron Dog barked, not able to hear what they had said, but he raised his rifle towards them.

Leland gave a glance back at Grisom and then with all his might he wrenched down on the crowbar.

Three things happened all at once.  The big thing was that there was sudden flash of bright blue light.  Even in the direct sunlight of the morning it caused everyone to cover their eyes.  The second thing was that as the flash engulfed them all, Leland was blown back from the trunk about 10 feet by some unseen force.  He landed hard on his back and the force at which he’d been thrown knocked the wind out of him.  The third thing was that this bright blue flash and the force that knocked Leland back didn’t create and ounce of noise.  In fact, the birds in the surrounding trees continued to sing as they had been seconds before.  This lack of noise was a good thing as at that moment, Charlie had let out a high whistle and from the tree near wear they stood, Doris dropped to the ground with the saddlebag around her neck.  She dropped it between Charlie and Grisom and they reached into the bag and grabbed their revolvers.

Before the bandits could focus their eyes again, Charlie and Grisom started firing.  Charlie took out Iron Dog first and then turned and shot at Truett.  Grisom had dropped Buck who had started to get up, the shot knocked him back to the ground.  Grison ran to where Leland lie on the ground gasping for air.  Grisom watched as Leland’s focus came back to him.  His eyes looked up into Grisom’s.  He tried to form a sentence but nothing came out.

Grisom crouched next to his head, “I do believe I warned you not to try and open that trunk.”

Leland gasped loudly for air, “What….what…what…?”

“None of you business.” Grisom replied and hit Leland on the head with the butt of his gun, knocking him out.  Grisom stood and looked over at Charlie who was just coming out of the cabin having made sure there was no one else inside.

“Clear.” Charlie nodded.  “You think there’s other members of the gang around?”

“Possibly,” Grisom nodded.  He scanned the ring of trees that surrounded the cabin.  “Let’s get the trunk into the wagon and get out of here.  Even if there ain’t more members of the gang, the shots’ll probably bring someone nosing around.”

Charlie looked back into the cabin, “What about the gold?”

“I reckon we should take it with us.  We’ll take that and this one here with us,” Grisom replied, indicating Leland, “and we’ll bring them both to Yankton.”

For the next few minutes Doris scurried around the cabin getting into the food and knocking things over, while Grisom and Charlie loaded the trunk, the gold and the bound Leland onto the back of the bandit’s wagon.  They also pillaged some water and a little food for the journey to Yankton that Grisom figured would take them three days to make.  About twenty minutes after the ruckus had begun, they were on the wagon on their way to Yanktown.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media

Tags : , , , , ,

Agents of the Vault – Part 6

Part 6 of Agents of the Vault.  Charlie & Grisom ride after the men that stole the trunk.

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 6
By Grant Baciocco

It took Grisom and Charlie a bit of time to find out exactly which way Leland and his men had gone as the spooked horse pulling the cart had run wildly for about half a mile.  They were finally able to find where the bandits had regrouped and moved on.  About an hour into the ride Doris began fidgeting in the saddle bag.  Charlie clicked his tongue three times and Doris sprung out and climbed up onto his shoulder.  She looked at him sheepishly in the lantern light.

“You’re fine.” Charlie said to her with a grin.  “You were just trying to make sure he didn’t get away.  You’re not in trouble.”

Doris let out a whistle of relief and scampered to Charlie’s other shoulder.  Charlie looked sideways at her, “Let us know if we’re getting close to anyone.”  Doris gave a little salute and nodded.  She then lifted her nose into the air and began sniffing.

Doris was what the indians called a ‘prairie fire.’  A breed of fur covered dragon that was native to North America.  Even in their most bountiful times, hundreds of years ago, they were very rare.  Most indians only spoke of them in legends.  The prairie fire feared any sort of contact with humans and, with their amazing digging ability, would dive underground at the first sight of one.

Indians passed down stories of those days when ancestors said that at night balls of fire would rise in the dark on the prairie, especially during the summer months.  This was the prime mating season for the creatures.  No one ever witnessed this event, however.  How Doris came to be with Charlie was a tale so mixed in legend, no one could be sure what was true or not.

The story goes that about sixty years ago there’d been a terrible drought on the prairie.  Herds of buffalo were wiped out, colonies of prairie dogs were decimated.  Every living creature was starved for water.  A rider named Thurman Rawlings had been crossing a particularly dry patch of the prairie when he came across a huge hole dug deep into the ground.  As he rode up to it, a patch of dirt in the center began to move and a skinny, weakened ‘prairie fire’ crawled out of the hole towards him.  Thurman was frightened, until he realized this creature, whatever it was, trying to communicate with him.  He cautiously got off his horse and knelt in the dirt and the creature limped it’s way towards him.

Seeing the that creature was obviously dying of thirst, he began to unscrew his canteen.  He held it out and the creature hesitated.  Thurman drank a little from the canteen to show that it was okay, and held it back out to the prairie fire.  The creature shook it’s head and pushed the canteen aside with it’s weakened paw.  Thurman then watched as the creature reached into a pouch, much like a kangaroo has, and produced a tiny, gray egg.  Looking down at the egg, the mother tenderly stroked it and then, looking up at Thurman, held it out to him with outstretched paws.

Thurman gingerly reached forward and the mother gently placed the egg in his hands.  She stroked it one more time and looked up at Thurman.  Thurman nodded.  The creature nodded in return and took a few steps back.  Thurman brought the egg close and looked at it, then looked back at the mother.  She had collapsed on the prairie floor.  Dead.  Thurman went to reach out to her and her body slowly turned to ash before his eyes, and blew away in the wind.  Thurman looked down at the egg in his hand and gingerly placed it into the saddle bag over his shoulder.  The same saddle bag that Charlie now carried with him.  Thurman was Charlie’s great-grandfather.

Thurman had taken the egg with him and cared for it best he could, but kept it a sworn secret, only letting his wife know about it.  They’d hatched the small creature, naming it Doris after Thurman’s mother and tried to raise it.  Several times after the drought, Thurman returned to the spot in the prairie where he’d first received the egg, with the hopes of returning Doris to the wild.  He’d never found another sign of the creatures anywhere and even in talking to the local indians, they believed the ‘prairie fire’ was merely a legend.  So Doris became the family secret.  The family’s secret pet.

Charlie had known Doris for as long as he’d been alive.  They’d become inseparable as soon as Charlie could walk.  They had a bond that transcended other human animal bonds.  Almost as if they could communicate without a word.

As Charlie and Grisom continued into the night, Charlie tilted his head to the side, bumping into Doris’ who chirped softly and pressed her head back against his.

Grisom and Charlie had followed the trail through the early morning hours.  The lantern gave out about an half hour before the sun began to rise, but the trail had been easy to follow as the bandits had followed a river for several miles.

Not too long after, the river flowed into a deep valley.  Grisom stopped near the entrance and waited for Charlie and Doris to ride up.

“My guess is they are holed up in there.” Grisom said, indicating the valley.  Charlie looked ahead, but couldn’t see anything except lush green trees on either side of the river.  Grisom continued, “Perfect place to hide out, they can watch either end of the valley and see anyone entering it from either side.”

Charlie nodded.  “What do we do?”

Grisom looked around.  “Let’s leave the horses tied up here and climb up the side there to see if we can look down into the valley and spot them.  Plan out a way to get down.  Seems the safest way.”

Charlie nodded again.  He clicked his tongue three times and looked at Doris.  Doris gave Charlie a sad look and let out a whine.  Charlie clicked his tongue again three times, but this time a little more forcefully.  Doris sighed and slipped across Charlie’s shoulders and slide down his arm and, reluctantly, crawled into the saddle bag.

Grisom watched her slide into the bag and then looked up at Charlie.  “Keep her under control this time.  We don’t need any outbursts like before.”

Charlie nodded.

“Though.” Grisom said, scratching his chin.  “It’s possible that we may need her services if things get hairy.  Let’s get a move on before those bandits get too curious about that trunk.”

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media

Tags : , , , ,