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    • "Ain't hardly nothin' to do but hunker down till she blows herself out." The man squatted, "Rance, is the name. Been watchin' you, doin' a fine job. You'll do Wheeler, you'll do. Try and get some rest, might end up bein' a long night. Least you won't be ridin' drag come daylight, there's a plus for ya."   He stood and made his way to his shelter to await the grub that was coming.   @Bongo
    • Meanwhile, in the main house, Reb Culverson was visiting with his old friend Fightin' Joe Hooker, who was the ramrod for the fledgling Montana Territory Stockgrowers Association, Northern District. He was there to convince ranchers to join and support the organization, hoping it would take root.   "And just what good is this here association ya got started?" Reb asked.   "It'll give us a voice in the territorial government, Reb, that's what it'll do. Once that happens we'll be able to git us some sortta range police to protect the herds, and the ranchers." Hooker responded. "Rustlin' might not be the threat it was, but you know as well as me, it can come back."   "You get anywhere with Lost Lake, 'er that cow thief on the Evergreen?" Reb asked.   "Can't say as I have, startin' with the smaller spreads an' workin' my way up to them two. I'm well aware of both spreads, and the men that own 'em."   -------------0------------   They swept down out of the trees whooping and hollering and firing off a couple of shots as they closed on both sides of a big group of cattle, just as they had planned. The  lone night hawk knew he had no chance of stopping the raiders, or of saving the cattle while he watched the chunk of the herd moving toward and then into the trees at a run.  He emptied his Colt at the raiders, the whipped out his Winchester  and levered several shots in the area where they had disappeared.   He could not know that one of his shots had found its mark. A man that had just joined took a slug in his back and toppled from his horse. Toole and the men continued to drive the cattle toward the dry riverbed as planned. It was an acceptable loss.   The sound of the shots, mere pops at the distance to the main house and the bunk house alerted everyone, and men boiled out of the bunk house guns in hand, only to watch the night man shooting after the rustlers.
    • Out on the boardwalk they stopped, "So we managed ta git a deal right off, thet's good, it is. Now all we gotta do is convince ol' Wentworth to free up the money so's ya don't have ta use yers right off." Amos commented, "Seems a fair deal but like you say, minin's not no sure thing."   "John and Mary are good folks. It's not a sure thing, but you saw the vein, went to the floor and it looks rich," Speed responded. "And it looks to be wider where they stopped digging. I can't wait to get it assayed to see what we've really got our hands on."   "And it should assay out pretty good from the looks of it, though I know so little about copper ore." Alice admitted.   "Well, you saw the copper ore, which is clearly distinguishable from the surrounding rock due to its reddish, mottled appearance. And that surrounding rock is granite which is not easy to work, but it can be done, and, if we have hit it, the veins could be as much as a mile long, a mile wide, and a mile deep!" Speed explained with a grin. "With that equipment we'll be able to not only dig deeper, we'll be able to tunnel, and we have the property to do just that."   "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" Amos exclaimed. Might oughtta buy up what ground ya can aound 'er, jest ta be certain!"   "First things first, let get on up to the bank." Speed suggested.
    • Justus was more than happy to have a chance to get out of the bulk of the wind, although he knew this was far from over.  And he knew they'd be hacking up dirt for days.     With the picket lines set, he moved over to help put up the shelters for the night, pretty quickly deciding that it was a fool's errand...they were all going to be miserable until this let up.   Squinting, he looked out toward the herd, not able to see but a few in the dust, it looked like they had been swallowed by the big, dirty cloud, and weren't even there.  In fact, he had the eerie sensation that all that was left in the world was this small circle of men and horses.   "Ya need me ta do anythin' else?" he called over the din of the wind.   @Flip
    • Doc Gilcrest walked into the bunck house to see Carson on his feet, dressed. "I may not be able to ride, but I can darn sure walk some. Tired of layin' in that bed."   "I reckon you kin do thet, sure 'nough. No body said ya had ta lie there if'n ya didn't want to. Yer stitched up plenty good. Jest leave thet hog leg where she's hangin' fer now, don't need the weight in thet wound."   "So anybody come sniffin' around?" He asked.   "Not so's you'd notice. There's four men down there keepin' watch, but it don't look like Lost Lake's lost any sleep over their man, that is if'n they even know he's gone." Gilcrest offered.   "He seen that brand an' went ta shootin'!" Carson reflected. "I jest shot straighter. Had no choice in the matter. Fool could'a rode on, but, well, that just ain't what happened. Hell of a mess."   "Oh I dunno. So far nobodies come huntin', the boss ain't upset over it, neither's Granger, so you got nothin' ta worry on 'cept gettin' better."   "I should'a been more careful, but maybe there just wasn't no way to be more careful. Up on the side of that mountain is the purdiest view a man could look at. You can see fer miles, see right where they got them cows of theirs. Now that ain't gonna be no easy matter to get to any of 'em. They're deep on Lost Lake range. Gonna be hard to get at, an' worse to get out. We'll lose some men tryin' this one, that's for sure!'   Gilcrest rubbed his chin. It wasn't like Carson to go on about the prospects of a job.

Recovering and Discovering

Barnabas Pike

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Mature Content: no, or short info if needed (example: Yes, violence).

With: Pike, Linda Everson, waitress, Speed Guyer
Location: Cafe
When: September 1875
Time of Day: Morning




The brisk morning air was refreshing as Pike stepped out of the boarding house onto the board walk, scanning the street in both direction, more out of habit than interest. This was his first day out of his room, and out of the boarding house itself.


The guns felt heavy, but good hanging from their belts. His shoulder might slow down on hand, but not the other, if it came to that. Pronto had thought to leave his guns behind, but after being shot he was on the cautious side. Oh he understood the risks, he could well be taken from behind, and have no chance at his attacker, however, he had a chance with his guns, no chance without them.


In the weeks he’d been laid up he’d given a lot of thought to his being ambushed. He was following Case Steelgrave when a rider appeared and fired before he could react. There was something beyond the top of the hill that the man was protecting, but what exactly was that?


He stepped through the door of the café and took a table toward the back of the room, sitting where he could face the door. He could have eaten as he had at the boarding house, today he hankered for something different, and in different surroundings, with different folks.


“Good morning, what can I get you?” The voice, bright and cheery, came from the young lady before him, threads of hair hanging loose about a pretty smiling face.


“Like ta have me a beef steak, rare an’ a mess’a eggs over once’t. Coffee’d be fine too, an’ keep that a comin’.” He responded, already in a better mood. Not that Missus Everson’s cooking was anything short of great, but a change wuld be good, or so he thought.


“Yes sir, be right up.” Came the reply and the young lady dashed off, returning with a steaming mug, the smell of the coffee filling his nostrils. And off she went.




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Pronto sat back in the chair and watched those already at their breakfast, cooped up in his room while healing had all but driven him crazy. He was a man that liked his freedom. A bound up shoulder had pretty much prevented that, of course the need to generate new blood had him quite weak.


But today he felt much stronger and the need to be out of doors was overpowering, so here he was, seated at a table watching the folks in the room and the goings on out on the street just beyond the windows. It felt good. Though he realized he was not yet ready to ride, and gunplay was a risk he’d rather not take for the time being. What he knew, which was not much, someone had shot him and there appeared to be no reason for it, yet Pronto believed there was more to it than some fellow that liked shooting people.


What was the motive? Protecting Steelgrave? Or was there another reason for the attempt on his life? If so, what could that be? At some point real soon, he intended to find out, there was a debt to be paid.


“Here you are, sir.” The young woman said as she set down the plate. “I’ll just get that coffee and be right back.”



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  • 3 weeks later...



The man stood, shoulder against the wall hat in hand looking at him when Pike looked up. He saw the badge, recognized the face as a man he’d seen around town.


“Light an’ set, Marshal.” Pike offered nodding toward the empty chair.


“Thought you and I should talk.” Speed said quietly as he took the offered chair.


“Good morning Marshal Guyer, coffee.” The waitress asked as she set a steaming mug before Pike.


“Yes ma’am,” he responded, “I’ve had my breakfast though.” There was a smile in his voice as the waitress scurried away to fetch his coffee. He appraised the man across from him carefully before he spoke. “Man that shot you, you have any idea who he was?”


“Not rightly Marshal. Doubt I’d ever seen him ‘afore.” Pike said as he forked another chunk of beef. He paused looking into the Marshal’s eyes. “Knowin’ you’ll ask, I do intend to find out who and why.”


“Name’s Guyer, Henry Guyer, folks call me Speed.” He offered his hand, keeping the other visible. To which Pike smiled.


The grasp was firm from either side as Pike stated; “Pike, Barnabas Pike, but I mostly answer to Pronto. Hope yer not plannin’ on tryin’ to stop me.”


The cup of black coffee arrived, the girl vanishing as fast as she had arrived.


“Wasn’t what I had in mind. I’ve wired Texas, and I’ve heard back. I know a bit about who you are. I’d rather there was no shooting in town,” he paused, “I know sometimes that can’t be helped.”


“The hombre what done it weren’t no townie, no sir. Horse he was on was better’n any thirty a month hand would own. Oh, he was dressed to work beef, but that animal said otherwise.” Pike paused to shovel in another mouthful. “You been behind a badge before, Speed?"


TBC (any)


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large.SpeedA.jpg.c5464858cfd7cf313c6988ea71366787.jpg"Can't say as I have, Pike. Probably have a lot to learn about the job, can't deny that." Speed said.


Pronto looked at him and smiled as he chewed. "Not a lot to it. Been a Ranger down Texas way, learned 'er on the fly." He set the fork down. "Need to know men Marshal. Need to know which 'er which purdy fast. Hear'd some about you from Missus Everson over't the boarding house. Says you was a Yankee infantry officer an' survived the war, thet so?"


"I was." Speed replied, wondering where this was going. "that matter?"


"Yep, means you know men seein's you made it through. Means you got some smarts about trust and which ones ya can an' cain't." The smile came back." Then his eyes narrowed and returned to normal size, the smile faded. "You know there's problems afoot, right? You know there's a whole lot we don't see jest yet."


"I've had a notion that things weren't quite what they seemed. An undercurrent you could say. Something just out of reach." Speed explained. "I take it you've felt it too."


"Have. Given it some thought, I have. Ain't come up with nuthin', but like you say, it's there, sortta jest under the surface, close enough ta bite ya." he paused.


"So Mister Pronto Pike, I trust you?" Came the question.


The eyes narrowed again, but this time from wide grin. "Ya might, if'n we're to figger out jest whot's whot around here, one lawman to another though I wear no badge, an' ain't lookin' fer one neither. " Pike spelled out, then added. "Who ever's behind whot ever's goin' on ain't gonna want you nosin' around, nor me neither. "course they'll be all about you first off, me, jest cuz I'm a fair hand with a gun an' they don't have me on'ta their side."


Both men were quiet for a few moments, reflecting, Speed broke the silence. "Just don't kill this man in town where I have do anything about it."


Pike laughed. "Reckon you kin count on that. You call me Pronto, if yer a mind to." He reached out his hand, Speed gripped it and they shook.


"Speed, most folks tend to call me that."  Was the answer. Speed got to his feet, set his hat on his head and started to turn when the door opened and in stepped a vision of loveliness.



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large.SpeedA.jpg.c5464858cfd7cf313c6988ea71366787.jpglarge.Phinn-155.jpg.732f57ba2a9ff4e12541223158dfd201.jpg"Scenery's lookin' up." Pike said as they both were looking at the woman.


"Enjoy the view Pronto, I've a days work ahead of me, and I need to get to it." Speed replied and walked to the door and out on the boardwalk, not missing the two men across the street, nor Phinias McVay scurrying towards him. "Morning Phinn." He greeted.


"Marshal." Was the quick response as the editor brushed past him and entered the eatery. Speed smiled and continued on toward the municipal building and his office, hoping that his deputy, Hannah Cory would be there.


TBC in another thread.

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large.1625301063_1leahsteelgrave-155.jpg.38391fb69525e72434f315ff934df0e0.jpglarge.Phinn-155.jpg.732f57ba2a9ff4e12541223158dfd201.jpgAs he watched the lady enter, Speed leave, and then another man pushing through the door, Pike smiled. 'Busy mornin'.' He thought watching the goings on. He noted the woman had paused and was now looking at him.  So he smiled, what was a man supposed to do? He nodded


'Pronto. the Marshal had called him Pronto and she seriously doubted there was another man in Kalispel called that, let alone the county or for that matter, the state. This was the gunman her father wanted to know about, and he certainly looked the part. She looked away and took a seat where she could still see him without looking as though she was flirting. If this was the man, she did not like his looks. If not, perhaps she could recruit him, but how many Pronto's could there be?


"Excuse me Miss Steelgrave." Phinn began, "I wonder if I might interview you for our readers. I-I'm the Editor of the Union here in town. Folks would be real interested in what you have to say.


Pronto could overhear what was said, and found that to be really interesting. Not much of a womanizer, he could not deny her beauty or appeal, but he'd dallied about long enough, his breakfast long gone and his coffee cold, it was time to be moving on. He dug out four bits and laid the two quarters on the table, rose from his seat and nodded to the lady, touching the brim of his hat and walking out of the cafe.


She looked back to Phinn, "In trade for a bit of information." She said wit a smile. "Have a seat sir."


TBC in another thread. The Interview


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  • 2 weeks later...

Later That Evening;


After a  good talking to by Linda Everson about traipsing about town in 'his condition' when he could have had his breakfast there in her boarding house he went to his room and napped on and off though the afternoon. He attended dinner which was a nice venison roast with all the fixings, and he ate more than he cared to.


Once the meal was finished he stepped out onto the porch to enjoy the evening, fall was settling in, there was a familiar nip in the light wind with a familiar warning. Winter was on the way. That meant snow ,with howling winds creating drifts of snow filling the streets and half way up the sides of buildings. Not like Texas at all, but he was here and there were things going on that interested him, besides the identity of the shooter. Things that just didn't sit quite right.


The Yankee town Marshal was alright, he had liked him right off. Seems he didn't care much about a man with two guns. But he knew there was something, something he couldn't put his finger on, what was Speed had said? 'Just below the surface.'



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