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Wyatt Earp is My Friend By Doc Holliday. Chapter 17 – The Out of Town Claim Jumpers

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This is my attempt at writing for the WWX universe. The following is intended to be the set up for a scenario for my 1st Game this weekend with my buddy (He will be playing Watchers vs my Lawmen) After the game I will use the battle report as part of the story and write the conclusion depending who wins.

Big thanks to the amazing Sarah Cawkwell for the inspiration and encouragement.

Constructive criticism welcome. I am no writer and I know this section relies too much on conversation. The battle section will be more descriptive (assuming I don't get wiped out in turn 2) 

I make no apologies for my sense of humour.

This is intended to be read as if Doc was narrating so get your best Val Kilmer impersonation on.

 

 

Wyatt Earp is My Friend

By Doc Holliday

Chapter 17 – The Out of Town Claim Jumpers

It had been a long night in Tombstone. The Locals had been all riled up on a combination of one hell of a party over at the Birdcage Saloon, strange lights on the horizon and tales of unnatural things out in the desert, all this meant lots of tense standoffs, jumpy townsfolk, wild goose chases and not much sleep.

Dawn was just showing its face over the town and it seemed that even the sun hadn’t had much sleep that night, the early morning light seemed all worn out before the day had even begun.

Warren, Morgan, Virgil and yours truly were just getting coffee in the Marshals office. Warren was only half awake, his head nodding as he sat at his desk. Morgan and Virgil were awake but looked all drawn out and edgy, too little sleep and too much coffee ain’t good for a man’s disposition

I myself on the other hand, was feeling fresh as a daisy, being no stranger to the joys of seeing a night right through to the next day. Of course, I usually have a deplorably fun reason for behaving so, like a strong hand of cards, a good whisky bottle or bad woman (often all at the same time). But last night was in pursuit of my duties as a duly Deputized Marshal of the Arizona Territories and such virtuous behaviour does wear heavy after a while, I was hoping for an opportunity to redress the balance sometime soon.

Wyatt stomped through the door, clearly exhausted and in sore need of a coffee. Which was going to be a problem as I was drinking the last of it.

The mischief was in me and quick as lightning I did deposit my coffee mug on Warrens desk and replaced my respirator to hide my smirk.

It didn’t take long for Wyatt to find not only was there was no coffee nor beans to make more, but also his younger brother had apparently had the last of it.

Wyatt Slammed his hands onto Warren’s desk jerking him awake.

“Well good morning sleepy head!” He growled at his startled brother.

“I really need a coffee Warren”

“err pot’s over there Wyatt?” Warren was still not completely awake but there was no mistaking the warning in his brothers’ voice. “You want me to make you one?”

Wyatt gestured to the half empty cup then grabbing Warrens lapels, hauled his brother to his feet

“you appear to have had the last of it”

Looking over Wyatt’s shoulder Warren could see Virgil with his hand over his mouth, shaking with mirth, he also caught the glint in my eye.

Morgan had stood ready to break up the impending fight his face impassive. Time was when Morgan would have joined in with the joke. But since his “near” death and “miraculous recovery” thanks to some Enlightened friends… well he looked like Morgan and sounded like Morgan, but I don't think Morgan was there anymore. I don't think there was anything “near” about his death at all. The Enlightened had done wonders for Virgil arm, “saved” me from consumption with this damned mask, but Morgan? I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

“Ah hell Wyatt that ain’t mine it’s…”

“Get me coffee. Now.”

“It's 6 on a Sunday morning Wyatt, where the hell am I gonna get coffee?”

Wyatt’s eyelid started doing that twitching thing he does when he's really mad.  Warren considered his options.

“I'll get some from my house!” Warren lived clear on the other side of Tombstone but the walk would mean putting a fair 3 miles between him and his older brother. I swear his feet practically grew wings as he ran out the door. I had to hold onto Virgil to stop falling over from laughter.

“What are you two finding so damn funny?” Wyatt snapped

“Why Wyatt, Whatever do you mean” I retorted

Realisation dawned on Wyatt, “Ah hell, the walk’ll do him good”

Wyatt picked up the half empty mug of lukewarm coffee and sighed

“Better than nothing I suppose” He walked towards to door to get a little air.

It was very unfortunate that at this precise moment Henry Clifton barrelled through the door and knocked the mug from Wyatt’s hand before he'd had so much as a sip.

“Marshal! Some weird looking fellas claim jumped my mine!”

Wyatt stared at the fast disappearing puddle on the floor, every drip through those old boards seemed as loud as an undertaker nailing down a coffin.

I was pretty sure I was going to have to arrest my friend for attempted murder. His glare could have split a mountain in half.

“Oh God I'm sorry Marshal, let me make some more...ummm you're all out… oh god…”

Wyatt pulled a chair up to his desk.

“Sit. Down. Talk concisely.”

Henry sat like a naughty schoolboy hands on his knees, eyes at the floor and clearly thought that concisely meant “Fast”

“So last night at my mine, there were all these bright flashing lights in the sky and around the hills, next thing I knew these guys looking like giant grasshoppers appeared out thin air and started shooting the place up, me and my boys high tailed it out of there real fast, I got in my mule truck and drove over here as fast as I could. I worked that mine for all year, Marshall and I ain’t gonna let some overgrown bug steal it from me now…”

All three Earp’s faces had expressions of utter confusion and I imagine mine was similar. Henry’s mine was something of a Joke in Tombstone. Henry, looking to make his fortune in mining, had stepped of the Train last year greener than the grass and walked straight into the welcoming arms of one Jonah Hanratty, a well-known con artist around here, by the end of the day Jonah had convinced this poor fool to buy his worthless silver mine with the promise that “a big strike was only a few days away”  But Jonah had to abandon it to care for his dying mother. The locals laughed into their drinks and shook their heads. Henry had stuck it out though, only came into town every month or so for supplies. He’d even managed to get married to a very local teacher called Eloise Darbonne, who, due to unfortunate misunderstanding about her profession as French Teacher, I can attest, is in possession of a surprisingly effective punch. It seems the strain of it all had finally gotten to Henry though.

“Giant Grasshoppers?” queried Virgil

“umm yeah, i mean it was dark and all but that’s what i thought they looked like”

“Do you drink Henry?” Morgan went for the most logical explanation

“No Sir! My wife doesn't approve!”

“It was a really hot day yesterday” I ventured.

” Y’all think I’m crazy!” henry protested “But I know what I saw!”

Wyatt stroked his chin “Could be Enlightened constructs” He mused.

Henry looked gratefully at the Marshall “Could be I suppose, but see them things regular, my mine is nearer Payson than here, but never seen anything like these.”

There was a long silence. Seemed no one wanted to say what we were thinking.

Morgan finally spoke “Hex?”

Henry looked confused “What? What’s that?”

“Some things you just don’t ask” Virgil told him. Henry paled and lapsed back to silence.

“I believe such things are Marshall Miller’s area of expertise, we could call her?” I suggested.

“No.” Wyatt’s voice was adamant. “I ain't calling Miller and her circus unless absolutely necessary. We check it out, we deal with it.” He paused to think then the orders came out fast and assured. Seemed that all Wyatt really needs to keep him going is the call of his Duty.

“Virgil, You and Warren still got to escort the 9.30 stage like we planned. Morgan, you and your Lawbots can look after the town while Doc and I take the K9’s and check this out.”

“Well that’s not what it had planned today” I thought to myself “Thank you for this opportunity to die an interesting death Wyatt, but I’d like to point out at that even with the dogs we might be short-handed. “

The door swung open.

“Reckon I might have a solution to that” Said Virgil “Meet Ranger Andrews”

Ranger Andrews was dressed for riding, almost as tall as Wyatt, Brown hair and eyes, big grin and a nose that had been broken at least twice.

“He came in last night” Virgil explained “Volunteered to patrol the north of the town on that Interceptor of his. Freed up a couple more of us to keep order here. Much obliged to you for that”

“It’s Woodrow and My pleasure. Something’s been going one out there, that's for sure, I found seven sites were the sand been fused to glass like this” he took out a chunk of a glass and a map with locations marked on it. “some places were dotted with ones about the size of a wheel, others so big you could put a cart on them and…” He pointed at the map” ...one really big one you could stand a Judgement on. all perfectly round and at least 2 inches thick. I had to shoot it to break this off. Careful it’s sharp as hell.”

“Good work” said Wyatt. “And now i got a new job for you, Virgil, Henry, bring him up to speed. Doc you and me’ll get the dogs. We all meet at the rail station in 30 Minutes, we’ll get the driver to stop near the mine and make our way from there.”

I followed Wyatt outside, the sun was wide awake now and promising another blast furnace of a day Even at this early hour it was already uncomfortably hot.  A few drunks from last night were still making their way home, blinking in the light whilst the businesses were just setting up shop. The blacksmiths forge was already lit, the smell of hot iron mingled with the bakers, the cook houses and the livery and all of it underlined by the unmistakable tang of running RJ generators.

The K9’s were kept in secure storage sheds just across from the Marshalls Office. I caught with Wyatt and tapped his shoulder, I had news he wasn't going to like.

“Umm, Wyatt About the dogs…”

He stopped and turned to face me

“I’m not going to like this am I?”

“Oh, it’s not that bad” at least I hoped it wouldn't be “You know the Gayle girl? Well She’s been through a lot and…”

Wyatt cut me off “Every time someone says that girls been through a lot, they mean she’s done something odd, what is it this time?”

“Well um, it's like this, you know how she lost her parents, and there was the thing with the storm last year and then that hex Witch killed her dog and nearly got her a few weeks ago?”

“I know what she’s been through Doc, I killed that witch myself, what has she done now?” Wyatt asked impatiently.

“She’s found herself some new dogs to look after, four of them in fact”

Wyatt looked at the storage sheds “You’re kidding me? Those things ain’t pets Doc!”

“True but they seemed to have taken to her real nicely”

Wyatt looked through the shed door window and stared at the sight of a 16-year-old girl playing with the four K9’s as if they were puppies. One of the ½ ton gun dogs had its head in her lap while she scratched between its ears and at the same time she was giving belly rubs to an attack dog. The other two were Nuzzling her affectionately.

When they'd arrived a couple of months ago they were just machines that looked like dogs, we locked them up when we didn't need them, and they never moved an inch. Now they were behaving like dogs.  But made of metal. And armed.

 As the door opened the dogs fixed their attention on Wyatt and snapped into a defensive ring around her, Growling. I for one was very glad the weapons were kept unloaded. Their jaws still worked though.

“Now don't you boys be so silly” Miss Gayle said in a dreamy faraway voice “it's just the Lion and the Scarecrow come to say hello, now sit and be friendly” the four dogs instantly obeyed. The ground shook slightly as the gun dogs sat.

“Am I in trouble Marshal Lion? Please don't be mad but they were awful lonely in here by themselves”

Wyatt spoke very carefully “No Miss Gayle you’re not in trouble, in fact, I wanted to thank you for taking care of them so well.  But I need them to go to work now… is that OK?”

“Why sure Marshal!” she said brightly “Now you all be good dogs and do as The Marshal says and I'll take you all for a walk when you get back.”

Wyatt pinched his nose between his eyes as he tried to get rid of the mental image of this slip of a girl leading walking a nearly tonne and a half of killing machine around Tombstone.

“OK, Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma. Heel!”

Nothing.

“I said Heel!”

One of the dogs cooked its head and made a whining noise. But stayed put.

“Oh! I'm sorry Marshal I forgot to tell you, I've changed their names, they didn't like those names Doc Scarecrow gave them.”

“They didn't like… never mind. What are their names now?”

She pointed at the attack dogs “The red one is Jerry Lee, Doc said you used to have a dog called that so I'd thought you like it if I named one after him? This one is Old Yella because he's painted yellow.” now she put her hands on the huge gun dogs “this Blue one with the Gatling is Hooch I named him after Old Man Sanders dog because he drools just like him”

true enough ‘Hooch’ was slobbering what I can only hope was oil from his jaws.

“And this one” she said giving the Green Painted Flamethrower dog an affectionate hug “is my brave little Toto”

Wyatt blinked a few times clearly hoping that this was a dream and he was in fact asleep on his desk. No such luck.

“Well alrighty then!” He shouted with a painfully forced jollity and he slapped his hands on his thighs “c’mon Jerry Lee, c’mon Yella, Hooch and Toto you two as well, now heel boys!”

The dogs all fell into an obedient line and damn me if they didn't do it with tails a-wagging.

Miss Gayle skipped off down the street looking for all the world as if she was walking through a spring meadow instead of the dusty streets of Tombstone. I saw birds singing follow her down the street and hardened killers who’d cut the throat of a sleeping man for $10, Tip their hats and wish her a good morning. I thought if I watched her for long enough I wouldn't have been surprised if a rainbow appeared complete with Leprechaun and pot of gold.

Wyatt broke me out of it with a Nudge “You think the train Driver will have coffee?”

*********************************************************************

The Train Driver did not have coffee.

However it was a two hour journey to our stop, we were travelling in an empty waggon so we did manage to get some shuteye, Although having a mechanical dog trying to cuddle up to you is a novel experience, turns out while they ain’t soft, they are quite warm, not something you really want when trying to sleep in a metal box on a hot morning.

Just before 10 Wyatt, Henry and I were hunkered down behind a ridge overlooking Henry’s mine. Woodrow was off to the east with Hooch. the other dogs waited a little way back behind us. Heat was already making the air hazy. There was a strange sensation the area. The hairs on my arm stood up even the rocks seemed to tingle, and I could taste something on the air similar to RJ but decidedly different.

“Well” I said “Henry’s not crazy. Grasshoppers is about right.”

“they look worse in daylight, they've got four arms for God's sake” Henry was definitely not enjoying his moment of vindication.

“Busy things ain't they?” growled Wyatt

The Grasshoppers were moving minecarts into position in front of something that looked like a portal generator, it didn't look like the weight was bothering them too much either.

Henry cursed a word I will not repeat here. At 1st I thought he was worried about his mine, but he wasn't looking at the carts.

On the far side of the mine. His Wife was being led by five of the Grasshoppers towards what looked like a jail cell with glowing bars already occupied by three or four men.  As the cell door was opened She stumbled, and as one of her captors reached out to steady her, she turned her motion into a spin and caught the guard with a right cross punch that floored it. We clearly heard it land even all the way over there. She launched herself at the next nearest guard and landed several extremely painful looking blows, the occupants of the cell took the opportunity to rush out before the other three guards recovered their wits enough to point their weapons at anyone. the brawl soon caught the attention of all the other Grasshoppers.

Henry managed a small chuckle. “That's my Ellie.”

“Now or never” Growled Wyatt.

We broke cover and charged.

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