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  1. Mature Content: Yes, violence, language, probable killings of both humans and animals With: Clyde Baker, Wayne Baker, Baker gang, Brendan Connolly, José Reyes, Evergreen Ranch hands, Potentially Steelgrave Family themselves Location: Edge of the Evergreen Ranch When: Mid June, 1876 Time of Day: 11PM, the dead of night They were too close for a fire, and so the gang had huddled beneath blankets and pulled coats over themselves as the night's chill crept in. It was the middle of the damn summer, and this God-forsaken hellhole dropped to frigid temperatures as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon. "Freezing my damn balls off here, Clyde. When are we making a fuckin' move?" "Shut your mouth Greene, we go when I god damn say so." To make matters worse, they'd hired on extra hands for this job. Frank Greene, Jed Sampson, and Jimmy Finch had joined in the bolstering of their ranks, swelling their little posse to five members strong. For Clyde, that was just as bad as going without. Men you didn't know were as liable to shoot you in the back as to carry you through a burning building, and that was a chance he never liked to take. Unfortunately for him, Kalispell; this little shithole out in the ass-end of the world, was a long way from anywhere safe, and a longer way still from anywhere they would be able to fence cows or cattleflesh. Him and Wayne couldn't do it alone, despite how poorly these cowpokes rubbed him. Out in the distance, at the fence line, came the whinny of a horse as its rider brought it to bear, and the low grumbling of Cattle followed, protests at the movement in their ranks. Clyde grinned. The wait was over. "Alright Greene, we're going. Mount up boys, masks on and guns ready." There was a resounding chorus of 'alright' and 'bout' time' and 'let's do this' from the men, as they loaded their weapons and readied themselves for the raid to come. Clyde pushed himself to his feet and pulled the revolver from his holster, giving its cylinder a little spin in trepidation. His plan would work. It had to work. He moved to his gelding, a ratty thing he'd fleeced off a card shark in Wichita, and pulled that old red bandanna from it's saddlebag. It was comfortable around his throat in its familiarity. He must have worn it dozens of times in robberies just like this, and it had always seen him through. His. Plan. Would. Work. The outlaw planted a foot in his stirrup, and hoisted himself up onto the mount. The gelding snorted in discomfort, and took a few steps to the side to resettle himself against the weight. "You ready, Clyde?" asked Wayne to his right, already mounted, looking for all the world like a trickshooter with that Winchester nestled in the crook of his arm. "You know it, buddy. Just like old times." "Just like old times." ---- They moved in silence to the fence line, nothing in the still night air but the clopping of horseshoes and the faint baying of cattle. Cresting a rise, the five riders peered down at the ranch below, pens upon pens of cattle, and off in the distance sat the ranch house, dim lights showing through the windows. Clyde looked around for the pen he'd spotted earlier - a smaller one holding maybe twenty heads. He'd sat up the last few nights watching the routine of these hands at the fence line, and he knew there was a window of changeover, about fifteen minutes long; where that pen would be undisturbed by any guards. They would slip in, stampede the cows, corral them into the forest, round them up, and be gone before morning. Once they got out into open country, they'd never be caught. Wayne was too damn good at what he did. "Wayne, take Sampson and circle round the rear. On my whistle I want you to get the herd moving. I don't care how you do it, just fucken do it." "Yes boss." mumbled Wayne, beckoning for Jed to follow him. Their horses trotted off into the night, riders alert. "Finch, you're riding flank. Keep to the side, and when the cattle start running, you keep those stragglers from drifting too far, y'hear?" Finch nodded, and he too rode off into the night, the opposite direction to Wayne and Jed. "Alright, Greene, you're with me. Keep your head down, do what you're told and we'll come out of this rich." "Sure shit, Baker." grunted Frank, and with that, the gang fanned out into the night, completing a deadly envelopment of the small pen. Clyde kicked the gelding into motion, and they cantered down to the fence line. In front lay their fortune, behind lay hundreds of miles of unsettled territory. All they had to do was get it out of there. They stopped just shy of the fence, and Clyde pulled sharp left on the reins, scanning the border for a glint of metal that would indicate a gate. He found it right in the center, chained shut with nothing but a rusty old padlock. He swung his leg over his mount and dropped to the grassy ground, pulling the bandanna up to cover his nose and mouth as he did so. It was dark, and unlikely that anyone would recognize him if he was seen, but it always paid to err on the side of caution, especially on a job wrought with such chance. "Greene! Cutters!" he hissed, and his companion jogged over to him, a set of bolt cutters in hand. Clyde never liked to work with faulty equipment, and the cutters in question had been sharpened to a honed edge. All it took was one deft snip, and the padlocked chain fell to the dirt, useless. Clyde dropped the cutters, and Frank moved to the opposite side of the gate. Together, they pulled it open, creaking obnoxiously in the still night. From within the pen, the cattle began to move around, uncomfortable with this irregularity to their schedule. With their side of the job complete, Clyde tilted back his head and gave a single sharp whistle to their accomplices. ---- By now, Wayne and Jed had arrived at the rear of the pen, and their horses stood pawing the ground in anticipation. The animals could sense the anxiety in the air, and here and there came the mooing of nervous cattle. Wayne watched as those two dark figures moved across the fence line opposite them, darting from their horses to the fence. "Are we goin' or what?" Jed asked, nervousness in his voice. "Calm yer fucken' self. We go on my brother's signal." Wayne shot back. He'd learned some years ago that Clyde generally knew best, even on matters that seemed straightforward. Jed huffed, but said nothing. The moments ticked by, excruciatingly. Any second now, one of the Evergreen ranch hands might come up the rise and catch them in the act. Then there'd be bloodshed for damn sure, but until then they would wait. Finally, like a message of salvation from God himself, there was a sharp whistle from across the pen. "Alright, let's go." Wayne announced, as he pulled his own bandanna up to cover the bottom of his face. He kicked his horse into gear and they loudly galloped along the fence. The cattle began to stir, but made no movement, and so Wayne darted back for a second time, slapping the side of his saddle. "Come on cows, gee-up, cmon', go on, get going!" Jed joined in the theatrics, and the cattle begun to stomp their feet, but still they would not move. "Damn it Baker, we gotta get em' going!" "Don't you think I fucken' know that?" Wayne retorted. Damn it, Clyde would know what to do, but he couldn't circle around to ask, they were running out of time as it was. Beneath his mask, he chewed his lip, and finally after a moment's deliberation, he pulled the Winchester from it's scabbard on the side of his saddle. "Jaysus Baker, are you mad? You'll alert every damn hand on the ranch!" "We don't have much fucken' choice, do we? We're gonna get caught anyway if we sit here with our thumbs up our asses!" He worked the lever action, filling the chamber before he raised the rifle's barrel to the sky. He shut his eyes for a moment, and hoped that this was the right thing to do. ---- The gunshot echoed out, far across the valley. What followed were the thundering of hooves, belonging to both horses and cows. Men darted awake in their beds, riders turned their mounts to face the noise, and ranch hands stopped what they were doing to investigate. José slumped down into his bunk, exhausted after a long day on the range. His hands were blistered and sore from working the herds, and his back ached from hours in the saddle. It had been a month. A month of honest work, and it was honest work for sure. He was a changed man now, he had gotten out. How many outlaws could say that? He was just reaching down to unbuckle his gun belt when there came that noise that he could have recognized anywhere. A Winchester model 1866, fired off from one of the rearmost paddocks. The very paddock that he had just left, the very paddock that the night patrol would be heading up to... He took his hands off his gunbelt, and pushed himself back onto his feet. @Bailey@Flip
  2. Mature Content: No Author: With: Wayfarer's NPC Evergreen ranch hands Location: Bunkhouse When: August, 1875 Time of Day: Morning Brendan yawned sleepily and rolled over in bed, clumsily kicking the covers down toward the foot of the bed. It was about time to get up, but he didn't want to. He never wanted to. But it had to be done if he wanted to eat. And he most definitely wanted to eat. His stomach growled as if his thinking about eating had made him hungry all of a sudden. He propped himself up on one elbow and peered over the edge of his bed. He'd taken the top bunk since the bottom was already occupied by another Evergreen hand. Until he could get a feel for how the ranch worked, he wanted to tread carefully around the other hands. No one else seemed to be awake yet. He groaned inwardly and pushed himself up, climbing down the ladder carefully and avoiding the one creaky slat, then stepped first into his trousers and then into his boots. He let his suspenders hang down for the time being because there was really no need for them yet. He quietly opened the door to the bunkhouse, then looked back inside at the still-slumbering occupants and slammed the door loudly. Biting his lip to keep from smiling, he sat down on the stoop and looked out at the ranch. So much for treading carefully.
  3. Mature Content: no With: Dorothy Parsons, Case Steelgrave, Layton Harris Location: Evergreen Ranch to Whitefish When: Tuesday, September 14, 1875 Time of Day: afternoon Less than an hour after her interview with Elias Steelgrave, Dorothy Parsons was on her pinto gelding, riding along side Layton Harris on the way to Whitefish. Her blonde hair had been washed and neatly combed into a pony tail that curled down over her shoulder. Her fingernails had been cleaned of dirt. The only spots that decorated her face were a few freckles and no longer specks of dirt. A few small, scabbed over scratches still adorned her hands, but there wasn’t much to be done about that. A rather simple, but well made green dress replaced her filthy clothes. It was of a fashion now several years out of date. Perhaps, Dorothy found herself wondering, it was a dress that belonged to Mr. Steelgrave’s daughter. Even though she’d not yet met his daughter, she suspected the women-folk in households as well to do as the Steelgraves could always have the latest fashions. All in all, she looked almost… respectable. Except for the gun belt. She wasn’t about to give that up so easy. Dorothy might have rather kept her trousers and white shirt too, but there didn’t seem to be time to launder them and then wait for them to dry. So, for now, she’d make due with the dress, even if it made sitting in a saddle slightly awkward. “How long you been workin’ for the Steelgraves, Mr. Harris?” she asked, looking over at her escort, both to make small talk and, hopefully, to get a better feel for what working for the family might be like. She thought she had a pretty good idea already, both from Billy and from Elias himself. But another perspective would still be welcome. @Flip
  4. Mature Content: No. With: Elias Steelgrave, Case Steelgrave, Cole Latham Location: Evergreen Ranch, Whitefish When: September 14, 1875 Time of Day: Afternoon Santee rode through the night, not pushing his horse. The man in question was in Kalispell asking questions, that from what he had heard, did not implicate the Steelgraves. He would make the twenty-five or so miles in six to seven hours, the main house was a bit off the trail, but not far enough to make that much of a difference. Dawn would be breaking as he neared the main house. Santee figured that by the time he’d made this stop and then got to Whitefish and informed Case it would be close to noon, and hen food and rest before he went back to Kalispell. There was a sigh of relieve as Santee came upon the house and lights were burning, meaning that Elias was up, and that would be good for everyone concerned. He trotted into the yard and up to the hitch post, swinging down and tying off his reins before striding up to the door. He paused, then knocked. The door swung open and the Chinese stood there looking at him. Never had caught the servant’s name. “Here to see Mister Steelgrave.” The Chinaman nodded and scurried off, the door hanging open. “Well damn it! Show him in!” It was Ellias, loud and not happy. The Chinaman was there in an instant. “You come.” He said, leading Santee, hat in hand, into the parlor. “What the hell’s so damned important you bother a man at sun up?” Elias barked. “Sir, Miss Leah sent me to let you know that there’s a Pinkerton man in Kalispell asking questions, but not about you or the family.” Santee informed Elias, the words tumbling out quickly. Elias glared at him. “Well? Who the sam hell’s he asking about?” “Sir, a woman name’a, uh, name’a Dorthy, ah, Dorthy Parsons. Wanted in Texas ‘er some such. Miss Leah thought you should know.” “I’ll be go ta hell! She’s in Whitefish, was here earlier today and I sent her there. Damn. One Pinkerton you say?” Santee nodded as he said, “yep, just the one far as we know. Full’a bluster ‘n blow. “Names Asher, if that means anything.” “You get on to Whitefish. Get a new mount and get the lead out! You hear? Case will know what needs to be done.” End thread Continued in "Settlin' In"
  5. With: Elias and Leah Steelgrave, NPCs Location: Evergreen Ranch, Whitefish, Montana When: August 1875 Time of Day: Morning Elias Steelgrave stood in his study staring at the large map of the area on the wall. It encompassed every square mile of the north-western part of the state. He was considering his next course of action to increase the size of the Evergreen ranch. He would first move on the northern sector and had already filed on thousands of acres up to and encompassing Whitefish and Whitefish Lake. And then, all the way to the Canadian border, where there would be little resistance, except possibly from the Indians, but then, Elias had friends in Washington The hardest part of the plan would be his push east, he would just pass the limits of Kalispell and the small ranchers thereabouts. Of course, there was a contingency plan for them. First, he'd offer to buy them out and if rebuffed, he'd burn them out. he knew that would be pushing the Steelgrave luck, but even that was not new. He would have to dispose of the doddering old fool of a Marshal in Kalispell, and even that would not be too difficult, and the deputy? Well, that just might take care of itself. And with his sons, all things were possible, especially Case, he had already started the wheels in motion. TBC
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